Monthly Archives: April 2006

A New Gift Idea

Feeling The Spirit!

It’s been a busy day. Not that that necessitates a bad day but, let’s consider who you’re talking to, it usually does. It started pre-java when people met me at the door. Let me rephrase that, they blocked me at the door. I was early but they still had to press their dybbuk faces to the glass.

“I think I see him in there. I see a reflection on the glass.”

“That would be your face.” I say shouldering my way to the door. Honestly, you’d think they’d part for the guy who has the red key. “And I’d appreciate it if you’d stop staining my glass.”

I get into the building and deal with the horde one after another in a long line of pulse increasing inanities. This one doesn’t have the heart to tell me he’s lost his key. Again. This one doesn’t have the courage to tell me he doesn’t have a payment to stop the auction. This one doesn’t have a brain so we’ll just let him stand in the corner until he collects his thought.

For the first few hours they come in wave after wave. Before I complete a transaction with one I look up and get a face full of salty fun jinks splashed over me. It’s not difficult, it’s just never-ending. Like a demonstration lead by an armless lawn mower hawker.

Then a man comes in who always needs my assistance. I don’t care if it’s to talk about why he’s there or if he needs me to ‘help’ unload a washer/dryer from the top of his vehicle, whenever he’s there he forgets the ‘self’ in ‘storage’. Today it shouldn’t have been too bad. It was 4×8 sheets of plywood. About seventy-two of them. How he got them on the top of his car or how the car arrived here without going airborne are questions for someone more suited than I.

By ‘more suited’ I mean someone who’s had coffee.

So I grunt and nod and get to the task of tearing plywood off the roof of his car. It’s not, once again, difficult, but his constant chattering is as annoying as a bee circling your head. I don’t mind helping the guy. I’m sure the ten minutes a day I have to help him is less than the half hour of disruption his falling off the roof of his car would cause. I’m not nice. I weigh the pros and cons of each situation and sometimes get stuck saying,

“Just do it. If you don’t you’ll end up in court trying to prove you didn’t stick the plywood up his ass.”

In the middle of this project I hear what could best be described as a wounded woodland creature of massive stature or the anguished wail of someone looking for me. I’ve heard both many times and still can’t distinguish. I will admit to hoping more often to the former. Sadly, it’s usually the latter.

I crawl out from under a plywood teepee and scramble my way to the front. At the front desk is a man pulling on the obviously locked door. He sees me walking toward him yet continues shaking the door. Usually, when someone is rocking the door in this manner, there is a loud and distinctive sound. I’m not saying there wasn’t this time, but, even after eyeing my visage this guy continues to wail.

I move to him with a look of bemusement upon my face (professionally, I call it a look of bemusement. It’s really just my normal ‘Are you a fucking idiot?’ look. But, getting paid and all, I have airs for the throng). I stand in front of him waiting for something. An explanation. A desire. A quick end to this already hellish day. But this guy just keeps yanking the door and yawping

“In order.” I begin. “Stop yanking the door. Start telling me what you want.” I figure that gives exact instruction to this adventure.

“I want to get in.”

Which are quickly ignored. I figure it’s best if I do the same so I let him jiggle the knob and push ahead.

“What’s your unit number?”

“I don’t have a unit.”

“Then why do you want to get in?” Call me silly, but I’m inquisitive like that.

“I want to go to the bathroom.”

By now the guy is louder than when I first arrived and the door is bowing under his constant pull. In the second it takes me to concoct a response to this man, a few things went through my head.

1) He’s not paying for the privilege of bothering me.
2) He’s not paying for the privilege of bothering my bathroom.
3) He’s paying for the door if he’s breaks it.

“The bathroom’s for customers only.”

Finally! He stopped trying to splinter the door. But now he’s turned his attention toward me with a look of bewilderment upon his face.

“But I have to go to the bathroom.”

“Understood.” I’m attempting to get all of my responses down to three words or less. I long for the day when just looking at me will get my point across. I mean, even more than now.

“I’ve gone here before.”

“Not anymore.”

“But I have to go to the bathroom.”

To prove I’m not a heartless beast with no concern for the bladderings of my fellow man, I will say, I’ve seen the x-rays, I have a heart. I point behind the guy.

“Grocery store.”

“But I need to go. I’ve gone here before.”

“New rules.” I say turning away to go back to my plywood. “Next time don’t bellow for me and the rules may change again.”

It was mean, I know. Standing between a man and his pee is never a good thing. But why don’t you ever see my side? The side of ‘go fuck yourself.’ Let me come into your office and start braying at you and see how quickly you kiss my ass. You’d probably call security while cowering under your desk. So remember that old saying before you strap on the ‘Chris is such a bastard feedbag’: until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes don’t ask me where the blood stains came from.

The rest of the day continues with the same steady stream but without the warmth and stench. It wasn’t until the auction was completed, I frightened some innocent children, and ate the blackened souls of the recently dead for lunch (Mmmmmmmm! Pagan loaf!) that the day began to mellow into it’s incessantly grinding thrum.

With just a couple of hours to go before I can bolt the door and laugh at the Reaper because I outwitted him another day, the phone rang. This grizzled voice woman begins barking her orders to me. I try to align her into the proper sequence to expedite this matter. But she’ll have none of that. She behaves poorly to my first question (the same as was originally broached to pee pee boy) by rattling off something my ears are not programmed to receive. So I go to line two of the ‘Simple Questions To Ask People Who Won’t play Nice’ book. I ask for a name. Truly, this is one of the easiest questions I ask. Ever.

I will admit that she gave me a name. She never shut up afterwards which caused me to have to repeat the name back to her. I may be a jerk but I’m also lazy. If I can get it done right the first time I figure that can get me back to being lazy. But she didn’t like this question so she snapped at me. I tried to assuage her anger by explaining that I was just attempting, in my ham-handed manner, to efficiently assist her.

“Could you spell it?” I ask while attempting to spell it myself. I’m usually pretty good at guessing how to spell names. The problem here was I could barely understand her due to her screaming into the amplification device she was holding and the person behind her also holding a conversation. Before she gives me the correct spelling (this took three attempts with the person behind her), I’m close to the area the name should reside.

It does not. Which is a fact that doesn’t make her happy so she questions my ability to follow the alphabet. Yes, I am dyslexic but I still remember that song. I state now in a very stern tone that the name she is asking for is not in my files. Then, just as stern but with a hint of helpfulness, ask if it could be under another name.

This happens more times that you could imagine. I know it’s more than you can imagine because I hear it every day and I still have trouble believing it.

She starts yipping at me that I must me wrong. She confers with her compatriot and comes up with another name. I begin to move through the book because I think she started the name with an S. While leafing through I ask her if she could spell this name. I’m just trying to get to the bottom of this. I do this a few times a day and, with a little cooperation, usually get through it painlessly.

Not this time.

“You’re quite a fucker, aren’t you?”

Without another word I hang up the phone. Not slam it. Not make a sound. I just set it back into it’s cradle where it will rest.

Until she calls back.

I look at the caller ID just to make sure it’s the same number. I then go into the textbook I’ve heard about but never bothered to read that says to strap a smile on your puss when answering the phone. It’s supposed to convey a sense of warmth to the caller. I do just that while reciting the name of the business.

“I can’t believe you. . .”

“Don’t EVER call me a fucker again! Do we have an understanding? Now give me the name I asked for.”

She begins to ask for my bosses name. For the first time I balked at that. Not that I care if he’d care or not. But I go by instinct. So, I tell her that, the moment we get to the end of our little adventure, I’ll be glad to give her his name. But first, let’s see who you are.

She fights it but gives in. Her tone is just as snippy as I try, with all my might, to extract just a few little letters from her. I’m very close to getting to the end of this story. She gives me a few more letters. Turns out, all of them were wrong. She didn’t know how to spell the name. So she asks the person behind her and he gives me an all new spelling. With a different first letter.

“I’m sorry.” I say. “That name is not a tenant either. Could there be another name?” She goes on a rage about my being incompetent, how I’m the worst at customer service ever, how she can’t wait to talk to the boss, how she’s going to come down there and get in my face.

“That would be one way to solve this dilemma.” I say. “But, right now, we still haven’t found a current tenants name.”

“What city are you in?” Oh good, I think, she’s going to visit! I so love visitors.

“Malden.”

She relays this information to the third party. I can’t hear what they say but I can hear them get quieter. There’s a slight pause as she comes back to the phone and says,

“Malden? We don’t have storage in Malden.”

And we have a winner!

“Well, that solves that.” I begin to turn to hang up the phone as she continues her railing at me because, although she has the wrong location, I still am the idiot king of this conversation.

“I might have the wrong place,” she says as I inch closer to the phone. “But can I tell you one thing?” She says as a stab at helpfulness.

“No.”

And I hang up the phone.

Hey! Shoes here! Mile walking shoes here! Any takers?

Learn Every Day

Sometimes I think it’s me. That I just hate every living creature that roams the earth with the ability to conjugate stupidity.

Then other times I still think it’s me but only when provoked.

Such as this morning. I’m not unhappy. Terry got me up early to take more pictures of the fox that’s been hanging around the backyard. I did find out I can wipe sleep out of my eyes and focus, not only myself, but a camera at the same time.

It wasn’t until I get on the bus to come to work that I realized it may not be me after all. The bus times changed so since then the bus has been loaded. That annoys some people and it shows. Not that they’ve pulled out a sickle and swashed some buckles, if you get my drift, but the whining and bitching about how crowded it’s become hums over the sputtering engine.

We get to a stop two stops from my office. Many times you’d think that would be a good thing. At least I can lock myself in the office, alone, for some time. Ease into my day. Center myself clearly below the sharpened pendulum of psychosis that is my day.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Recently, a ‘luxury apartment building’ opened at this stop at what used to be a rock quarry. Yeah, nothing says luxury more than living at Slate Rock and Gravel. To say nothing about what I know about what lies under there.

These people don’t look at this as if it’s public transportation. To them it’s a limo they have to share with a horde of drunken bridesmaids. The expressions that pass their faces when they come to the conclusion, for the eighty-sixth straight day, there is no seat for them is a combination of disgust at the imagined smell (most days it’s imagined. There is this one guy. . .) and a sense of entitlement because they live in their own little cartoon world.

So, instead of listening to the sullen browed, bruise assed driver scream, “Move into the bus! I’m not goin’ anywhere until you move into the bus!” They constipate at the door. I’d have to assume this causes quite a problem for the people a stop or two past mine because it’s a major connection. But I don’t care about that. Once I exit, they can crawl over each other like rabid middle managers who heard they’re giving away palmOne Tungsten T Handhelds in the back.

But I do care about my stop. I like it to be smooth and simple. And it can be. If everyone listens carefully and follows specifically my one, simple statement.

“Excuse me.”

I say to the first person I see. Usually that’s pretty effective and polite. People like that. Not a lot of chatter to interrupt their phone calls. They also see it at an opportunity to sit their asses down for an additional twenty minutes in their day. Pretty much a win for everyone. Some space opens up so their backpacks, valises, water bottles and food containers (and that’s just the average about of items these urban sherpas carry) aren’t being infected by the touch of another.

I continue my simple statement as I move through the crowd. Most times this goes well. I’ll look right at someone when I’m about to pass them and they usually won’t make eye contact. I like that. Less chance of them picking me out of a line-up. Sometimes I have to ask someone twice because they fake move. That’s where they adjust their steamer trunk a millimeter but don’t move at all. They turn and give me the old, ‘I can’t go no more, Cap’n! There’s logjam up ahead!’ shrug.

That’s okay, my shiny eyes and happy smile respond as I step in placing my hip at a spot where, with the right touch, I can cause a moment of unbalance which opens up a space for me to pass. Hey look! An opening! Who says you can’t take hockey training off ice?

Doing that once usually allows me unfettered movement through the rest of the bus. For months. But today there was a new obstacle. A woman. They’re a different breed altogether. When you spin a guy larger than you there’s very little he’ll do about it. I’m already gone by the time he finds his phone to call his personal space invasion counselor. But a woman who feels it is her right to splay herself from one side of the bus to the other takes gentle handling.

Many times they will give you enough space to pass if you’re a popsicle stick. That’s fine for me. My experience tells me openings get bigger over time. Stretch out, as it were. But  today, even before I was two feet from her, I knew something was going to be different about this woman. I noticed that, as she saw me coming, she turned her back to me, firmly planted her feet and leaned backwards causing her backpack to take over more space. In the middle of the door I was going to use to exit. No problem. I can be charming.

“Excuse me!” I happily chirp to her.

“I’m on the phone!” She snaps her head back, her jaw unhinges, and unholy vocal elves screech from her nether region. The two men along side of her look at me with the, ‘I, I, I’m not with her!’ expression to keep them from disaster. I smile at them knowing they are innocent. But, depending on how this goes, I’m never above collecting collateral damage. I wait. I’m not an ogre. Hell, I’m only going to work and the door isn’t even opened yet.

Ding! The door slides into the open position. To stop being hit by the door she has to step away. Instead of stepping back into the space vacated by the two guys, she takes up even more of the doorway. I look at the people around and a couple of them are smirking. I smile to the back of the woman’s head and say,

“Excuse me, ma’am!”

“Will you give me a minute! I’m busy here!”

A little grumbling from people ripples down the bus. The two guys have backed off even further. I take a deep breath. The bus driver calls back asking if anyone is going to get off the bus. A few people can be heard expressing their opinions clearly. But this woman is still on the phone and still impeding the progress of the workforce at large.

I lean in to this woman choosing the ear she’s not busy using and say,

“I don’t know how bad your day is going.” She hears this interruption during her busy day and snaps her head toward me. Her mouth opens. The demon spawn begins to climb out. It takes one look at my now not so cheerful face and retreats. “But, I do know how bad it will go if you don’t step out of my way.”

I wait a beat and step in. I’m not trying to intimidate her. I am leaving and if there is something attempting to occupy the same spot in the universe as I am interested in, well, let’s just say, the world truly isn’t big enough for the both of us.

“I’ll call you back.” She ends her call and begins walking backwards off the bus. I look clearly into her eyes as she steps onto the sidewalk. I step out of the bus and I can see she wants to say something. It’s burning inside of her. A retort. A rejoinder of the ilk she uses when someone she considers beneath her approaches her in a bar. And I wait. I’m nothing if not someone who will hear someone out.

But nothing comes.

Well, that’s not totally true. Some guttural, whine, shock, dismay rolled from deep inside her bubbling cauldron but it never came to a boil. As I stepped away I looked into the bus to see rolling laughter fall throughout. All I could do was smile at them as they drove past leaving her alone on the sidewalk.

That’s the trouble with public transportation. It has a schedule to keep and it’s hardly ever yours.

I continue walking to work thinking about that. Was it my fault? Could I have done something differently so that this person, a person with friends and family and credit card debt, could have a smoother day? Do I try to impose my selfish needs upon my fellow human?

Suddenly a lyric ran through my head and I realized it wasn’t my fault. If people can’t follow the simplest paths set down by the lyrical leaders of today, what can be expected of a simpleton such as myself? As I get to Dunkin’ Donuts Ludacris’ lyrics are streaming through my head,

“Move bitch, get out the way. Get out the way bitch, get out the way.”

I enter the establishment and, for the second day in a row, I sense something is amiss. But this time it’s not a prima donna. It’s an angry woman brandishing a bagel at the concerned and apologetic counter kid. It seems the woman’s issue was she felt she was being shorted on the amount of cream cheese. Although the counter kid stated, for all to hear, that she would give her another pre-package portion, this woman wanted more retribution.

“Bitch!” she screamed. Get out the way! I thought as the woman cocked her arm to throw the bagel towards the counter kid. What surprised me was how close to my face this bagel was. I could have bitten it. It did look good. But, instead, I just reached up and plucked it out of her hand.

I was actually kind of surprised to find the bagel in my hand. I didn’t even want a bagel! I was less surprised when the women turned to face me with anger pouring out of her every pour. I was even less surprised when she said,

“Chris!”

It was a tenant.

“Are you open? I have to get my TV. I broke my TV last night I got so mad. I’ve got to get my other TV. It’s a small one and that sucks but I’ve got to. . .”

“Yes,” I say placing the bagel on the counter and taking the woman’s new one from the counter. I hand her the bag. “For you, I’ll open early. Just let me get a coffee.”

She takes the bag with the new bagel, with two containers of cream cheese, and smiles.

“Okay. Are you going to be there now? I have to get in. The bus I have to catch is soon.”

I get my coffee, pay for it, wait for my change before turning back to the woman who is still chattering. I wave my coffee towards her and say,

“Move.”

And I think that’s all I should say.

Choo! Choo!

Have you ever had one of those days when you feel like you’ve been hit by a stupid train?Yeah, well, stop bitching. Because it could be worse. I was just in line a Dunkin’ Donuts, not one of them fancy, order seventeen different things in one half of the coffee and six and a half in the other places.

I guess the snide dripping bitch in front of me was too busy polishing her labia to read that memo.

Everything she ordered was one at a time. The coffee. Get the cup. Look in it. Tell the lady behind the counter to pour ‘one tenth’ out of the cup and put some flavored hair gel in it or something. I’ll admit to glazing over and missing some of the vital things she was saying. But only because I had my own thoughts.

Such as wondering if I could kick her in the back hard enough to not only snap her spine in two but to cause her pancreas to squirt out of her ears.

My conclusion was, yes, I could and yes, that would be hilarious. Adding to the festivities, Pancrears would be a great name for a band.

But even with all that dripping out of my brain pan, I could still hear her shrill bite of a voice become even more agitated each time she sent the counter lady scrambling. You have to trust me here when I say the lady was servicing her better than her boyfriend if he found out her splooge was liquid diamonds.

Chris, you may be saying, aren’t there usually eighty-six people scurrying behind the counter at your neighborhood Dunkin’s? To that I would say, boy, are you a good counter! But, do you know what? The two working at the counter were both on errands for this woman.

She was ordering donuts, fucking donuts, one at a time! Aliens from Uranus who’ve never seen a donut would have an easier time making a decision. Of course, just ordering one at a time (half of them ended up being the same kind. I shit you not) wasn’t good enough for this life black hole. She sent some back!

Excuse me for a moment while I say,
“Whubida whubida whubida WHAT?!?!”
Sent. Them. Back.

 
Donuts.

Damn, her first born had better self abort and give itself another spin on the ‘Wheel of Potential Mommies!’ A cave dwelling, pedophiliac, cannibal would be a better option.

Finally, someone frees themselves and takes my order. Twenty seconds. No returns. As I’m picking up my coffee and turning to leave this woman far behind I hear her say,

“This coffee is cold. Pour me another one.”

I reach the door and look at the women behind the counter. They are paint-by-numbers picture still while this women begins to recite, in specific order with exact measurements, the extra special touches that will make her coffee the type people go out of their way to piss in.