Monthly Archives: November 2017

The Bus

I got on the bus last night and it started off your normal bus ride. People filing on, no one out of the ordinary (which was out of the ordinary) just regular people going about whatever constitutes their regular day.

A big guy gets on the bus and sits in front of me. I’m facing the front of the bus and he’s facing the side so I can see everything he’s going to do.

Pretty quickly he starts going through one of the two backpacks he has with him. He’s pulling out the usual things, food, drink, papers. Electronic devices, a black knit hat with the word ‘Blessed’ embroidered on it which he was using to protect his own personal video game controller. He wiped the controller down, pressed a few buttons then carefully placed the controller back into the hat, folded it over so it was safe and then slipped it back into the backpack.

He rummaged around for another few minutes not taking anything out, just sort of feeling his way through it. He reaches to the absolute bottom of the bag and with great care he pulls another item out of his bag.

At first the item didn’t register. It quickly dawned on me but it was so out of the realm to see something like this here there was a moment of doubt. I’ve seen this item many times but usually at very specific places and a bus, until this moment in my life, had never been one of those places.

Then he began unscrewing the urn to take a peek inside.

An urn. There’s an urn on the bus. That guy carries an urn in his backpack. I hope we don’t hit a bump. But that is definitely an urn he’s looking into. Please close that urn, buddy. That is an urn on a bus. That is just like snakes on a plane. The only difference is that was a movie and I’m really on a motherfucking bus with a motherfucking urn.

I can’t take my eyes off this encounter. I watch his face as he stares into the urn of the ashes of a loved one. After what seems the runtime of Snakes On A Plane he starts to screw on the top of the urn. I was relieved. I’ve inhaled many things on many different busses but a person’s ashes, luckily, still isn’t one of them.

Then I watched as he held the urn while he reached into his backpack. He pulled out a pink elastic band the type you put around a tiny baby’s head and he wrapped that band around the urn one, two, three times until he was satisfied it was snug. After holding the urn for a beat or two he gently cradled it into a special place in his backpack. He zipped it up and tossed his arms over it.

People talk about carrying their pain and anguish and memories with them. Most try to submerge them so they can carry on some semblance of a peaceful life. But it’s too raw to that guy. He can’t close it. He has to carry that burden around with him because he can’t believe what he is always carrying with him didn’t have a better outcome.

I hope one day he does. And he puts that burden down.

Because it scares the hell out of the other passengers on the bus.

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100 Years Old

Someone I know invited me to their grandmother’s 100th birthday celebration. My problems are 1) I don’t even know the woman and 2) what the hell could I get for a 100 year old?
 
I rationalized my way out of the first one by reminding myself there will be cake.
 
The second problem was a larger issue. In 100 years she’s probably had everything she ever wanted. And not knowing someone makes them tough to buy for. Plus, with all the people going, you don’t want to buy the same thing which has to happen.
 
I thought long and hard over this issue for a full minute before figuring out a gift I guarantee she’s never had and no one at the party will give to her.
 
A t-shirt that says:
 
I May Be Old But At Least I Got To See All The Cool Bands.

Dinner Guest

A vegan came over for dinner so I served him celery sticks on a copy of The Smiths ‘Meat Is Murder’ CD.
 
He was not amused.

Marathon Talker

I have many different relationships with customers and it fully hinges on the customer. If they’re nice I’m nice. If they’re hostile I’m nice with a side of sarcasm. Most times they think I’m being rude but they just can’t put their finger on how. I’ve always stood by the ten percent rule. Ten percent of anything is going to be great; ten percent terrible and the rest is unmemorable. That means ten percent of all people I run into on a daily basis are going to not only take up eighty percent of my time but are going to be blithering asshole while doing it.

Case in point, I had one of my oddest customer encounters the other day. Of all the subsets of crappy customers (the needy, the expecting, the demanding, the rude, the nasty, the ones who open the door, etc.) there is one who is annoying because of their consistency. A demanding customer can be swayed by just having things go smoothly but a talkative customer cannot be stopped with a blow torch and a pair of pliers.

The talker is going to talk. I probably have eight or nine talkers. A talker is defined by someone who not only talks but has a time frame to get it in. I find that time frame is an average of twenty minutes. That means from the moment they walk in the door the moment they have my ear they will not relinquish it for a minimum of twenty minutes. And don’t give me advice like, “Walk away.” “Tell them you’re busy.” “Start doing other things.” Because it doesn’t work. They will wait until I get off the phone. They will talk through a transaction with another customer. They will stand there patiently until I come back after leaving to do something. There is no stopping them.

The worst part about talkers is not the amount of time they take up (I’m getting paid) but the subjects they choose to engage in. Subjects they know I will have the utmost interest in: themselves. Oh, there’s nothing I enjoy more than listening to a story about some people I don’t know who are fucking with some person I don’t care about at some company I couldn’t care less about. But it happens all the time. I know more about the lives of people I don’t know than those of friends.

And, trust me, this is not information I’d ever want to know even if they were friends of mine. But I know it chapter and verse. Do you know why? Because they tell the same fucking stories every time they come in. Oh, it might be a new twist but it’s half a twist at best. Instead of telling me Sheila put her name on a project you alone worked on she may have said something catty about you. This is what they decide is the most important event in their life that they have to take twenty minutes out of their busy day every time they see me to update me. How do I unsubscribe?

The man we’re going to cover in this episode of ‘How In The World Can You Talk About Such Boring Shit For So Long’ is a special case. I call him a special case because annoying motherfucker sounds harsh. Spot on but harsh. The moment he walks in the door, as I do with all talkers, I look at the clock to gauge how behind I’m going to be by the time they leave. While they talk I think about things I have to do once I’ve been released; think up with greeting cards because that’s what I do when nothing else is taxing my brain; conjure inventive ways for both homicide and suicide.

I got an odd feeling when he walked in the building this time. Maybe it was because my boss got him last month but something was in the air. So I decided to do something I have never done to another customer. I was not going to say one word while he talked. I didn’t think I could pull it off but I was going to give it a shot. The thing I had going for me was he doesn’t engage in conversation. If I can resist the common human urge to pull out old ‘Aha’s or ‘Mmm’s I could pull some time.

He’s talking to me the moment the door opens. It’s on. I pull off his entire transaction, ninety seconds, without an utterance. Now the endurance game begins. If he’s on his average day I have another eighteen minutes and thirty seconds to stand there as his words flow towards me like a backed up septic system. The first five minutes are a breeze. I’m a grizzled veteran at game of getting talked at. Five minutes is child’s play.

At the ten minute mark, though, I had to fight off the urge to run screaming in circles that I couldn’t take it anymore and confess to an assortment of unsolved crimes. Even ones that happened in the decades before my birth. But I regained my composure and kept my mouth shut as the words just kept flowing seemingly in an endless gush from his mouth. He was happy he’d correctly predicted the guy who fired him would also get fired. Wait, he got fired too, right? So, really, who was the winner in this little scenario? My guess is all the remaining employees.

Twenty minutes of silence on my part. Twenty minutes of torrent on his. I’m now leaning on the wall no longer able to stand erect. The boredom caused by his tale is making me wonder what a life without speech would be like. Sure, I’d miss out on the next great story I’d hear but, right about now, in the middle of what’s going on, that seems a fine and just trade off. It’s also at this juncture, the time when he is usually wrapping up, he’s in fine form. I’m still holding on to my silence but I so want to tap out.

At the thirty minute mark of him not leaving a space for an utterance and my accepting that fate I start to falter. My concentration flags. I forget what I was trying to do. I formulate words in my head, bad words, nasty words. Which snaps me back. Swearing in my head has a rejuvenating effect on me. I brace myself and stare at him. The jowls hanging from his flesh bounce and flutter as he speaks of people unknown to me. The bags under his eyes jiggle as he once again tells me he told someone to fuck off with the obligatory middle finger waved in my face to demonstrate his contempt.

I stand there in my silent contempt.

I start to despair that this is the one. This is the extreme talker. This is endless talker. This is the talker who is going to break me.

“Let me tell you what my doctor said when I told him that.”

Ten minutes later I have been full brought up to speed on what his doctor told him about that. Sadly, it did not find purchase in my brain so I cannot impart that wisdom unto you. I hope you forgive me my transgression for I was under dire straights. It had been forty minutes of the monologue to end all monologues. After this I may not even have the strength to listen to even a one liner. I may not be able to give a compassionate ear to those who are truly in need. Yes, I think my ear hole is full.

But my mind is back. It has a purpose. One sole purpose. And that is to repeat,

“I think he’s been talking for forty-five minutes without stopping. I seriously think he’s been talking for forty-five minutes.”

I couldn’t be sure because, after all this wear and tear on my vessel, I forgot what time he actually arrived. I cannot even convince myself that it was the same day. I can feel myself shutting down. I feel as if this is my final act in life. I have convinced myself that he is never going to shut the fuck up.

But I was wrong. As quickly as it started it was over. He said goodbye, turned and left. Real silence, an embracing silence filled the office. I walked deeper into the office to my bosses desk. He didn’t look up, we’ve both been through this before.

“That seemed longer than usual.” I nodded in agreement because I wasn’t sure after all this time of silence I would even have a voice.

“Yeah,” I croak. “And I didn’t say one word the entire time he was here.” He looks up at me.

“Impressive.”

I wanted to see just how long I stood there being hammered by words so I went to the security footage. It turns out I was wrong. It was not forty-five minutes.

It was forty-seven.

I Have A Confession

I hate a race of people.

I know! How can I say something like that in this day and age? I’ll be vilified on Twitbook. I’ll be crucified on Instachat. I’ll be mocked relentlessly on all media platforms. I’ll be shunned by all my friends (well, not all of them) and petitions will be signed to take away my thorax by the throngs who hadn’t heard of me until I did something so vile and unspeakable. You know, vile and unspeakable like attacking a stranger because you’re a self-righteous twat.

Back the fuck off, Nancy, so the big boys can play through.

Let’s get back to the race I hate, shall we?

I hate blonde on blonde couples.

Definition: two blondes in a couple.

You know, Hitler’s old jizz sock.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate them because they’re blonde or they’re a couple. I have many blonde friends and many more who are couples. I really like some of them. I tolerate others because I’m a tolerant little fuck. Just like I tolerate other people. I’m a wonderful fucking guy. Just ask me!

And don’t think I hate them because they’re beautiful because, let’s be honest, they usually aren’t. Oh, they think they are but they’re not. Their faces are usually pursed and pinched in a perpetual expression of having experienced an odorous moment. As if a commoner were near.

And I’m not talking professional blonde on blonde couples (although I probably would hate them to remain consistent). They’re not really couples. They’re created by PR firms to hide the fact that he’s gay and she thinks she’s a piece of toast.

Just your average walking around blonde on blonde couple.

Hate them.

And it’s because they’re all the same (making it easier to group hate, thankfully). They’re all entitlement and pretension and attention seeking. Think about it. Have you ever been in a group where a blonde on blonde couple hasn’t been sullying the shallow end with vapidity when you’ve finally said,

“I knew I should have brought my eye gouging spork with me.”?

They speak of only people (they can name drop), places (they’ve heard of) and things (they want to buy). If they wander off those topics it’s only to venture into a subject they have endlessly studied so the facts they have learned can be spewed with mind numbing monotony.

As separate entities they can often be not strangulation worthy. I’ve separated the herd and had pleasant chats. Surface but pleasant. But when the couple pairs up it’s as if two wet bags of shit collide. There’s a weird stink in the air, people are a little queasy and the surface has a thick sheen of sticky.

My blonde on blonde couple hatred was awoken the other night. I know being near an ocean increases the possibility of spotting the putrid pair but I’m seasoned. I can usually spot them and find my way to safety before those people get too close to me. But this night they sat down right next to me. I couldn’t escape for I was in the middle of my meal.

But I have my skill set down. I have a high level of selective hearing (ask my girlfriend), the ability to use my peripheral vision wisely (I can see them looking to engage me while looking straight ahead) and a Zen like ability of not reacting when someone says something idiotic.

All useful skills when around a blonde on blonde couple.

I didn’t say I don’t notice their activities I just don’t react. And this couple did not let me down. They played their chosen roles like the insipid people they are. When the new bartender came over they ignored him to get the attention of one they know.

“Oh,” she says waving her hands in an overly arched fashion. “We’re regulars and she knows us.” The new guy walks away but shoots me a look. I nod back. Teammates.

She starts regaling the disinterested bartender (I know that to be true because later the two bartenders and I were talking. She said it’s the same thing every time they come in. And it’s not on a regular basis, she said. “Once a month, once every other month is not regular. But it is more than enough.” See? Self-importance is a big factor with them) who is trying to take care of other customers while this woman is trying to monopolize her attention.

She gets a little bent out of shape when the bartender has to walks three steps across the bar to put down a plate. I heard the air of haughtiness blow past her lips. When the bartender steps back the woman begins the story from the top. I see the slight slump of a worn out customer server. The story was so boring the first time I wondered if I should offer the bartender my personal eye gouging spork.

After much prodding they begin their ordering process. And let’s hope there is not one shocked expression in the stands when I say that the special order special pulled into special town.

A type of wine but only if it’s a specific brand. If it’s not then it’s a different
vintage but only if it’s a certain geographic location. Finally stumbling upon a suitable libation they’re on to their meal. Sort of. For the entire night they ordered one course at a time. The bartender would drop one order but before she could escape the woman had (conveniently) forgotten to ask for a condiment that was hardly touched during the meal.

And before the bartender could bring the next course, all plates had to be removed and the bar wiped down. I might hate them but I can’t say they were sloppy eaters (she did sound like someone chewing a light bulb during the salad though). But, dutifully, plates were removed and a wipe down commenced.

For the entire time one of them (I know I’ve been focusing on the woman but that’s only because she was sitting next to me so was easier to hear. But don’t worry, he gets his) kept either directing the bartender where to wipe or telling them how they should be doing it. How can you not hate blonde on blonde couples?

Of course, each item they had also had a blonde on blonde couple touch to it. Everything had to be replated after it got to them because they were going to split everything. Isn’t that so sweet? Makes you want to stab them in the base of the skull with a melon baller.

At the end they ordered one more glass of wine and I know you’re going to think I’m doing a little comic exaggeration here but I’m not. They split the last glass of wine. Where’s my melon baller when I need it?

During the last half glass of wine they talk amongst themselves and it quickly becomes a snooty lesson from the man to the woman. I’m talking full blown dressing down of her. The tone of his voice as he (and again, I am not making this up) began to regale her with his vast knowledge of the capital cities of the world was condescending at best. He took pride in being able to name capital cities? Isn’t that the same trick a four year old trots out in the sandbox?

He bellowed that so few people’s vessels contain this knowledge and he’s sorry for them. Then started a recitation that began in the US but ventured outward to the vast and unknowing wilderness. For about ten minutes. Of course, after he’d rattle off a city, he’d take that triumphant moment to castigate his audience for her lack of high level knowledge.

At this time I made sure to glance over to see if this was a first date and he was trying to (poorly) impress her. Nope, married. Wow! That’s even worse. She chooses to put up with this pretentiou. . .oh, that’s right, part and parcel of being in a blonde on blonde couple.

Suddenly he loudly summons the new bartender standing two feet away and asks for the check. The bartender puts it down and steps away.

“Excuse me,” she says. The bartender stops. “As I’ve said, we’re regulars so what’s our name?”

I cleared my throat. I know, a rookie mistake that I paid for when she looked at me as if I were a pilgarlic. The bartender stands there uncomfortably. I start to think if they even introduced themselves to him. I am positive they did not. What a bitch move. Or as I think of it, the penultimate blonde on blonde couple asshole moment of the night.

The bartender finally has to capitulate and say he’s sorry but he does not know. She pardons him as she and her betrothed scan the bill. They stand with a flourish, wave to their many friends in the bar (no one did more than look up for a second at the commotion then look back down. But that never matters to a blonde on blonde couple. It’s all about the presentation) and exits.

The new bartender picks up the check and looks at it. Then he once again looks at me.

“What’d they leave?”

“Ten percent. Pre-tax.”

I was wrong earlier, THIS is the penultimate blonde on blonde couple asshole moment of the night.

I tell him they probably justified leaving a shitty tip because he didn’t know their name.

“And at this rate I never fucking will.”

You know, I like this new guy. Think I’m going to make him a membership card.