Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I just realized that Jack's head, from Jack in the Box, if you turn it sideways, is a happy face.

Friday, December 02, 2011

¿Happy Holidays?

This sign is up all over the place in at least one Marshalls on my route:

Merry Christmas!
Happy Hanukkah!
Happy Kwanzaa!
¡Feliz Navidad!

I've never seen anything so politically incorrect, racist, and quaint all wrapped up in one.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Let's Review

There is a Known Spider Threat at the Coach 'N' Four Motel at 628 South Auburn Street in Grass Valley, California. The first spider was waiting to greet me in the bathroom sink. I managed an absent-minded hello while assessing which of the items with me best lent itself to crushing the spider dead given the size and shape restrictions imposed by the sink. I quickly settled on Nalgene, then quickly settled Nalgene on spider. According to the spider identification chart I found online, it may have been a Black House Spider. I thought it had been a Wolf Spider. It probably hadn't been a Wolf Spider, though, since I think they're called Wolf Spiders because they hunt in packs, which is another way of saying that I don't know much about spiders. I don't really think that, but it's true.

The picture for the last spider on the spider identification chart, the Huntsman Spider, wiggles every few seconds. Therefore, I will no longer be consulting the spider identification chart.

When I've found and killed a spider in a bathroom, I feel more confident that the bathroom is spider-free than when I haven't found and killed a spider in a bathroom. What I was certain the bathroom was free of, however, was water in the tank behind the toilet, because there was a wad of toilet paper in the toilet, also waiting to greet me, and I wanted to flush it away but could not. I removed the tank cover, lifted the part you lift, solved that problem, and created a new one where the tank entered an endless cycle of slowly leaking and refilling until I gave up on a peaceful resolution and shut off the water altogether.

Engrossed as you are in reading about the toilet, you're all-along wondering about the second spider, and so am I, but I've got to tell you about the lamp first, to lay the groundwork. The lamp beside the bed was broken. Well, broken? It was and is missing the part that you twist to turn it off. There's this trick to turning off a lamp—you probably know it—where you follow the cord (with your eyes) from the base of the lamp to where it plugs into the wall, you take hold of the part going into the wall (with the hand of your choosing) and, without letting go, you pull back. This is called unplugging the lamp. On the list of things you can do with a lamp that can cause a fire, this probably isn't there.

Turns out someone figured out another way to turn it off by working loose the part right above the missing knob and right below the bulb—the part of the lamp that says Caution and Risk, and no it doesn't say "this portion of the lamp NOT to be dislodged as an alternate method of turning lamp off," but, Jiminy Christmas. Of course, the lamp shade is damaged so maybe someone just banged the lamp against the wall until it turned off, or more likely the whole thing, this whole big mess with the lamp, was the result of a lamp/surface/gravity/new surface Event.

Anyway, I suppose what I did was relodged that part of the lamp into the works position and, figuratively shocked by the sudden light in my eyes to find that the lamp had been left on and plugged in even in its broken state, I began step one of the unplugging method, looking less for the plug than for my faith in humanity, as I hoped the journey from lamp to outlet would be a long and treacherous one. This brings us to the second spider.

The cord draped over the edge of the end table and then disappeared behind the headboard: a classic hard-to-reach location, especially in a motel, where headboards are connected to the wall, not the bed frame. Except this headboard had been removed from the wall and was leaning against the bed. I looked into the dusty crevasse and located the plug hanging halfway from the outlet. The detached headboard. The half-plugged plug. The damaged lamp and lampshade. All signs of a struggle. I caught movement on the edge of the headboard. Another spider.

The spider identification chart, had I consulted it, would have said Same Friggin Kind of Gross Spider, and the description would have been "probably angry about the other spider, and also probably a scout." I went for the Nalgene. The spider was gone. It was behind the headboard. I could see it—oooh there it was there it was there it was—near the plug I wanted it dead. It wasn't on the wall behind the bed it was on the back of the headboard. Basically, it was on the bed. It was crawling on my face as I slept. I couldn't stand it. Nothing in the room could help me kill it. I looked in the crevasse again to see how much I still hated it. It was gone.

The half-plugged plug. The damaged lamp and lampshade. These spiders...how many were there? I lifted the headboard back onto it's support. Now I could pull the bed away from the wall. I imagined pulling the bed away and disturbing a whole nest of spiders. I watched them scurry and scatter about like the Huntsman Spider no doubt does, with it's wiggling jpeg. Wolf Spiders carry their young on their back, so even when they aren't moving they're still...they are so gross. Black House Spiders bite your cheek and lay eggs in there, and your cheek swells for weeks until it bursts and spiders crawl all over your face, and you know that's true because everyone's read that book. I put on my sandals. I paced. I thought about getting another room. I would never do that but, whatever, I can have thoughts. If I ever have a house and see a spider in that house, I will think about getting another house, that's all.

I saw the spider crawling on the wall next to the bed. Nalgene. Spider parts. Spider parts washing down the drain. Relief. The spider now dead. Sleep now possible. The spider...or was it...a spider? A spider, definitely dead. Was it the spider? A spider. The spider. I went out to the van to get a pair of pliers. I can turn the lamp off with the pliers. I can turn the lamp off. I can turn the lamp off and lie in the dark. Lay in the dark? Lie in the dark. Either way, with the spiders.

I've noticed in this light, there are a lot of hairs on these sheets. I've stayed here before, at the Coach 'N' Four. I liked the last room better.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dangit, Dang It

You might be wondering what happens when you start writing a story and then you stop and delete what you've written and then you start over and then you start over again and then you start over again and then you log onto Facebook and then you comment on a picture of a pumpkin and then you start the story again and then you look up the lyrics to the song you're listening to and then you start into your story again but from a wildly different angle this time and then you delete that too and then you look at the time and then, [insert all the real cusses here], you find yourself writing this nonsense [arrows pointing every which way] and you decide this is how it has to be, that something is going to go down, something is going to get posted and that's what's up, and I'm done with this for the night and I'm not even going to work this out to a resolution more substantial than .

Oh and work sucked today, is what I'm getting at.

Build A Rocket Boys!

Dear Guy Garvey,

I don't always know what you're saying, but I always agree with how you say it. So, thanks for that.

P.S. You're welcome for buying your CDs. We're even now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

So Yeah, Friday Works

My boss called today. I almost didn't answer because I thought I knew why she was calling. I figured she must be calling in response to an email I'd sent before the weekend in which I outlined why I and my fellow employees were not being fairly compensated in accordance with existing company policy, what I thought needed to be done about it, and how I was willing to be a part of the solution. I almost didn't answer because I wanted the buffer of a voicemail to gauge her mood before putting myself in a situation where she could, you know, hear me. Then I thought that the brave thing to do would be to answer the phone like a man, or like a woman dressed as a man, or, since I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, like a woman with a beard. Then I remembered that her voicemail messages all go something like, "Hi this is ______. I need you to call me as soon as you get a chance." They are, in a word, either terrifyingly vague (when I think I know why she's calling) or vaguely terrifying (when I have no idea why she's calling), except, like I said, in one, mysterious word. I answered the phone, therefore, in the standard fashion of a man or a woman with arms and hands, but completely out of cowardice, a word which sounds like it means "female coward," and thus does not apply to me save at a great distance, but instead does not and, therefore, does, respectively.

She was not calling about the email. She was instead calling to perpetuate my growing hatred for my employers. Her method for doing so was twofold—one: by calling to talk about anything other than the email and, two: by calling to talk about what she was calling to talk about.

"We're having to move some things around," she said. "And I wanted to see if it was okay if we had you start your route on Friday instead of tomorrow."

She said this, as much as I could tell over the phone, with a straight face. The opportunity for the joke was the part about "instead of tomorrow," since it implied that I was currently scheduled to start my route tomorrow, something that someone probably ought to have told me before today, but that didn't seem to be her angle at all.

The thing about my job is that I'm supposed to be on the road for 14 days and then have 14 days off. What they're doing now is trying this new thing where I'm on the road for 17 days, paid for 14, and off for six or, if it's not too big an inconvenience, eight. Only they waited until today to reveal the master plan, so what I basically heard her asking was, "would you prefer zero days to look for another job, or two?"

S.D., S.F., L.A. not so much—game face time.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Oregon, The We're Friends Because We Grew Up Together State

First Sign:
No Littering

Second Sign:

Proposed Third Sign:
Go Ahead
And Litter

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Moving Right Along Then

There's a setting on my dryer called "optimum dry." Why are there other settings?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

In Concert

How do I get this blog off the ground? It's all gummed up. It's all gummed up for a reason. Or, because of a reason, anyway. Same reason I sat trying unsuccessfully to get lost in a crowd at a Fleet Foxes concert I thought I couldn't go to and then thought I shouldn't go to and then thought I wouldn't go to until Kyle said "You better go, so I didn't just wash my car for nothing," because going to the concert meant borrowing his car. So I tried to feel grateful for a friend like that, and I tried to laugh again about Lindsay asking "What band are you going to see?" when we could both hear before the question was all the way out that she knew she wouldn't know about or care to know about whatever band I was going to see. Then I thought maybe I should get out of my head and just listen to the show. I also thought cement was an awful thing to sit on and that I was a definite concert rookie for not bringing a blanket. And about that time the lyrics broke through—"And Michael you would fall and turn the white snow red as strawberries in the summertime"—and Niah had asked me if I wanted strawberries and cream, which was hilarious because Niah is three, which means that her offer really just meant that she wanted strawberries and cream—and hitched to that memory the solution to a problem I hadn't realized I was still working on came to me like inspiration. It was the best way to tie the string so that Niah could wear her glow stick as a necklace. It was that waxy kind of string that always wants to break or come undone when you tie it, and it had thwarted my attempts twice, but the solution was so simple I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it when it was right there in front of me. And now it was too late. But it was no big deal, I told myself. It was just a string for a glow stick. Kyle or Lindsay could work it out. And I'd be better for it next time, I reasoned, still locked into the mood to care about such things much too deeply. And almost two weeks later I'm thinking, if it's got to be all mixed up, at least it's all mixed up together.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Things I'd Do If I Had A Time Machine: Part 1

If I had a time machine, I'd go back to Pompeii and get the hell out of there.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

BIGS Sizzlin' Bacon Flavor Sunflower Seeds...

...taste like someone dumped a Styrofoam ice chest full of raw bacon off a New England pier where it bobbed in an eddy of excrement and decayed mobsters for several days before getting caught in the Gulf Stream and floated across the Atlantic for weeks, all the while being picked at and shat upon by malnourished seagulls and sneezed on by whale blowholes, before it was brought ashore by a deranged grey seal of the Farne Islands who took it as a mate for three frenzied days and nights until it was finally recovered by the good people of Thanasi Foods LLC of Boulder, Colorado, who, against the weakened seal's furious protests, disposed of the now putrid bacon and ground up the ice chest into a seasoning for the only flavor of sunflower seeds that has actually, in the course of one handful, caused me to think that I didn't like sunflower seeds at all anymore.

Friday, June 03, 2011

There's A New Gun In Town

I'm 26. Niah is three.

"Hey Niah, do you ever just stare at the windmills and contemplate your existence?"

I'm in the front passenger seat, Niah is in her car seat, and I don't look back for her response.

"Um... no. I put down the window."

I hear the whir of the rear window. The growing rush of wind let's me down slowly. You win, Niah—this time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Last Song

If you want to follow along then find "The Last Song" by Foo Fighters and blast it. Don't read the lyrics. Don't worry about what it means to you. Just blast it. And love the intro. Start it, and once you find the volume that you think might damage your ears but not your speakers, start it over because you want to hear the intro again that loud. Then turn it down a little because you feel bad because you're probably hurting your dog's ears.

It is important that you look at the cats during this process. Look at the cats so that you will know what it is to see an animal's face go from utter horror to complete indifference in a span of seconds and with no emotions in between. This is for your entertainment. Otherwise don't worry about the cats. Let them twitch their ears and look away. The cats don't matter.

This is the dog's time. You are doing this because you know something that no one else knows. You know that the dog loves to rock out. You know that she's a fiend on the dance floor. And this is her favorite song. You will feel self conscious. You will worry that the neighbors can see. But you will let the music take you anyway. For her.

This is the dog who used to growl at your solid teak rocking pig when she thought it was a threat to the family. This is the dog who forgave you for shooting her in the head with a rubber band on purpose more than once. Even after she asked you to stop. She who once ate exactly half of your $10 bill when you were 12 years old and the bank wouldn't replace it because otherwise everyone would cut all their money in half and double it at the bank, and $10 was a big deal back then and you were basically out $10, but dogs do that kind of stuff and you picked up her poop anyway because you loved her and because your parents made you, and you hoped to find the other half of the $10 bill while you were doing that but it didn't work out but that was okay. It wasn't ideal but it was okay. With a straight face she literally ate your homework one time like that wasn't the worst cliche, but it was kind of awesome because you actually got to use that excuse and stand behind it. It was okay because you would sit in the big recliner and put your feet up and she would jump up into your lap without asking even though she weighed 45 lbs. and didn't belong up there and neither of you would ever find a comfortable position, but you would both be comfortable anyway.

She can't work the CD player so it's on you to replay the song when it's over. And seriously go nuts or she can't get into it. Later on her hips won't be in such great shape and you'll have to make up a new definition for dancing because dogs can't be expected to dance on their hind legs forever (don't worry, your definition for dancing is pretty loose already). A while after that you'll think maybe it's better if you just keep the beat on her stomach rather than running her around, because she's still a good lookin' girl but she's also an old lady. However, and believe me I know this now, to get the full experience you are going to have to miss her more than you ever thought you would. You'll miss her when you least expect it, like when you get an innocent jonesing for Foo Fighters. Because she was a great dancer.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dear Japan, Four Salinger

[If you are my friend and you go to jail, I might write you something like this. I'll hope you like it.]

I don’t know what to say to you or how to say it. Lesser men would respond to such a problem by saying nothing, or worse, by saying something they shouldn’t have said and in the wrong way. Greater men would respond by saying the correct thing in the correct way. A man of my exact caliber, however, and more specifically myself particularly, would respond to such a problem by breaking it down into smaller, more palatable problems and solving them individually, successfully, and thirdly.

The first part of the problem is, “I don’t know what to say,” which is a condensed way of saying “I know that I don’t know what to say,” and it implies that something should be said, otherwise I wouldn’t say that I don’t know what to say, I would just go ahead and not say anything. I don’t, for example, know what to say when a blade of grass sways gently in the breeze, but that’s not a problem, it’s simply a fact about myself that is very strange for me to be aware of consciously. “I don’t know what to say,” then, is actually quite assertive, in contrast to the phrase, “actually quite assertive,” which is the phrasal equivalent of, say, fixing yourself a light brunch at home and eating it alone.

Seen in this light, the first part of the problem is clearly the first part of the solution. The problem cannot be solved unless I say something. But not only that—it cannot be solved unless I say something that I do not know to say. That is, I have to say something that I do not have the knowledge within me to say. I have to say something that I did not know to say, either out loud or to myself, before, during, or after I said it. So basically I have to say something that I would never have thought of and that I did not, do not, and will not think applies up to the moment you receive this letter, at which point I am entitled to change my mind without consequence to the truthfulness of this letter within its intended context.

One obvious solution to part one of the problem then is to quote to you a letter I did not write, which was instead written for reasons unknown by a complete stranger to a dead author (of a book I don’t understand), the meaning of which appears to rely heavily on understanding references to a musician and a poet, both of which I am indifferent to, and none of which applies to you in any way known to me.

The second part of the problem is “…or how to say it,” which seemed simple enough to fix (translate the letter into another language so that I literally don’t know how to pronounce the words) until I realized that this letter might be read as a security measure and that it would probably violate some rule or another to end it with a solid paragraph of, say, Russian or Arabic. Another problem is that, for this to be something that needs to be said to you, you have to be able to understand it, so it has to be in English anyway. I hope you will accept the best solution to this problem I could come up with, which was to use Google Translate to thoroughly translate the letter into several different languages before re-translating it back into English, ensuring that it is indeed something I didn’t know to say, and that I didn’t know how to say it as much as possible while still making sure it reached you in an acceptable form.

So, without further introduction, the letter translated from English to Chinese to Japanese to Korean to Russian and back to English:

“Dear Japan, four Salinger

When I was younger, my friends lie to me, as the release now I bought a paper copy of the precipice. The jacket, he probably will take me after graduation, our friendship and our lives are touched by the changes you've written. Notes, he and David Bowie misquoted. My friend David Bowie once said, the date, time may change me, but you can not change. Bowie concert, in fact, time may change me, but you can not keep track of time. Apparently, he's on a misconception of Robert Burns Horton that emotional intimacy with the body of a misunderstanding really grabbed Rai said. I never tell their friends about their mistakes. I just go.”

Mission accomplished. So, you’re welcome. Or I’m sorry. One of those.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Dear Jesse

I am writing on behalf of myself to express my deep sorrow regarding your recent course of action. I was first made aware of my present concerns when you feebly beckoned Sam to get off at the next exit, though such a maneuver was inconsistent with our intended destination. As soon as the car came to a stop, as you may well recall, you left the passenger seat in favor of the foliage near the off ramp and proceeded to vomit presumably all of the iced coffee, tortilla chips and sunflower seeds you had consumed during our outing thus far. This was, I trust you can imagine, an extremely uncomfortable experience.

Had you instead remained in the car for the duration of the trip, and chosen to go to the supermarket with us instead of getting dropped off at the apartment, and chosen to help us fix dinner instead of locking us out and falling into a deep sleep, then perhaps things would have turned out differently. Perhaps you would have enjoyed several helpings of spaghetti with homemade sauce and garlic bread. Perhaps you would have had a beer and washed it down with another beer. Perhaps you would have taken some initiative with the salad, so it could have been something more than a bowl of chopped Romaine. However, your decision to continue slinking about the living room and to on occasion get down on the ground and roll under the coffee table and hold your head demonstrates your blatant disregard not only for dinner, but for the institution of vacation itself. It is disrespectful of our plans for tomorrow, and it is disrespectful of my plans to thoroughly digest my own dinner and my as yet uneaten breakfast.

So I beg you, if you find left in yourself any shred of decency, any kernel of concern for your fellow man, any piece of corn or chunk of carrot for our tickets to the Giants game tomorrow, I beg you, get well soon.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Oregon: The If Only I'd Been In The Golden State

I'm having trouble staying awake right now (pre-edit, a portion of the last post read "You're running it debit and not creditddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd," so I'm not just tellin' tales) but these stories need to be told (pre-edit, a portion of this post read "I'm not just tellin' tails).

This thing also happened:

I was driving. I was on a boring stretch of some highway where everything was brown. I don't know which highway because I wasn't paying attention. That is the first of two reasons for why what happened happened. The second is, I was in Oregon.

I noticed a police car coming up fast from behind so I pulled over a lane to let it pass. Instead it stayed in the lane beside me and slowed to match my speed. You'd think I was lying if I didn't tell you I was on the phone when this began to happen. You'd think that, but you'd be wrong because the fact that I was on the phone is no more relevant to the story than the fact that I was wearing Reebok brand work shoes.

Okay, I'm officially tired in that way where you feel like you're getting a fever. I'm sweaty tired. It's time to finish this story later, but nevertheless post it now. Yes. Good decision.

This Happened:

I was driving. I needed gas. I pulled off at the next gas station. I was in Oregon.

A burly-on-the-verge-of-husky man approached me. He had on a flannel shirt and sported an Oregonian beard, which means it was thick and proud and fair trade and recyclable. He was there to pump my gas. For me. Instead of me.

"How ya doin' boss?" he said.

I was annoyed by him—by his presence.

"Good," I said on my way out of the van. "How are you?"

"Can't complain."

I could, and am now.

"I wanna fill it, or get as close as I can on this." I said, pulling out my fleet card. "This acts like a debit, so I'll have to put in a pin."

I finished with all of those words before handing him the card, despite the fact that he'd been nodding his head knowingly and beckoning with his hands for me to give him the card and let him take it from there ever since the "ah" part of "I wa...."

Now came the moment for his expertise to kick in. This was what he trained for. If he was ever at a gas station in another state and came across an old lady having trouble pumping gas, and he helped her, and she thanked him, he could say "No problem at all, ma'am. It's what I do," and I was about to see why. In what would have been an out-of-body experience in any other state (save New Jersey, which you can always get out of on a half tank anyway), I watched him insert the card into the card reader slot, remove it quickly, and punch in a response to whatever question or option came up on the screen, presumably yes to "we're still getting away doing this here, right?"

"It says see attendant." He said.

I didn't have a mirror handy, so I opted instead to ask, "but did you run it as debit? Because it has to be debit, and I need to enter a pin."

"Hang on," he said. He swiped the card, hit a key, checked the screen, and checked the back of the card to see if it was there. Being a three-dimensional object, it was. He checked the screen again, then both sides of the card.

"I guess we don't take these here."

"Are you sure? I still haven't had a chance to enter my pin. Is it not even getting that far, to let me put in my pin number?"

"Well," he said, "I can try it in here." He walked to the attendants' booth and tried the card there. It didn't work. He looked at me. "You got cash or another way to pay?" His beard looked rushed, almost exasperated.

"Sure but I'm not ready to give up on that. I don't understand why you aren't having me enter the pin. You're running it debit and not credit?"

He looked away in a flash of inspiration. "Hey Mike, do we take a fleet card like this?"

Mike was passing by at full walking speed, no doubt on important gas station attendant business, but he was a small man and didn't take long to stop.

"What have we got," he said more than asked, and took the card to inspect both sides. They were there all right. He motioned to another car. "You get them and I'll try this." I followed Mike.

"It's a company card but you have to run it as debit, and I've got a pin for it." I said as we walked.

Mike tried the card with no success.

"Sorry boss. Have you got another card."

It's debit. Did you try debit, not credit?"

"Oh, it's debit?"

Saturday, March 12, 2011


iPhone makes thumbs supreme--
No longer bound
To space bar,
While fingers, folded, huddle--
In crowded silence.

To be all thumbs
Is insult no more.
Now thumbs speak freely--
Of likes and dislikes.
Of where I am.
Of what I am doing.
Thumbs so tired.

Monday, February 28, 2011

What’s Invisible And Smells Like Carrots?

You’re not going to know anything about my new job unless I tell you, so let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. First you need to know that I’m keen to avoid causing Google searches about my company to lead people here, so if I seem vague, I’m not just being myself.

My new title is something like Touring Serviceman, without the 1940s flair, and I work for a company named after exactly what it is, a nationwide provider of various commercial filters. The initials of this company are on my company van, hat and shirt, but they are not on my pants, because they are not company pants, they are just pants. This makes sense from the company’s perspective because what they’re doing is paying me to drive on a two-weeks-solid, roughly 2,000-mile solo route changing HVAC filters on the roofs of commercial buildings, with only $60 a day for food and lodging (technically only for lodging, but… for food and lodging), and this promotes a lifestyle that naturally involves a steady diet of AM/PM hot dogs, Big Gulps, and El Pollo Loco, and a lot of high-elevation alone time, so it’s the pants, in this equation, that really take the brunt of the action. Yeah, that’s a fart joke. So is the title. Fart jokes happen, so deal with it. Just be glad you can laugh about it. Be glad you aren’t pants.

Sorry, I do this thing sometimes where I get mad at someone for being mad, and really it’s just an excuse to be mad. And most of the time the other person isn’t even mad. It’s just me that’s mad. And most of the time there isn’t even another person, it’s just me in a van on a lonely stretch of road someplace between Sacramento and Portland, or on a roof changing HVAC filters, and I’m not even mad, I’m in a great mood actually, and they’re my own damn pants I bought with my own money so there’s nothing to worry about and we can go on to talking about something else now. Sorry.

And I’m sorry but if you think I’m going to apologize—alright that’s all. I just wanted to write that. I’m going to move on now for real. Wouldn't want to beat a dead horse. Because, you know, if a horse isn’t alive then you’re wasting your time beating it. Get yourself a live horse, is what I say. I don’t say that. I don’t endorse beating horses in any stage of the horse life cycle, let alone the shorter, less smelly, “living” stage. Why are we talking about horses?

Anyway it works out because, besides smelling, you’d think touring servicemen would have something else in common with dead horses—that they wouldn’t eat a lot of carrots. But you’d be wrong. Good thing you’re here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Company hat, Company shirt, My pants

When I talked to John for the first time on the phone, his voice sounded raspy and distracted, like maybe he'd woken up to get a glass of water and had inhaled a dandelion instead. I instantly formed a mental image of a man who'd been working on his beard for a couple winters too long, who wore a flannel shirt to church, and who was just overweight enough to give the world something to try to forget every time he bent over.

I called him from K-Mart because there was nothing on or near the Dickies there to assure me that they were navy blue and not just... pants blue. John was the guy who was going to be training me, so he seemed like the guy to ask. Normally I feel qualified to identify navy blue, I told John, but the blue of the reinforced knee Dickies didn't precisely match the regular fit, and I wanted to know how important it was that they were navy blue, because on Craigslist and on the phone they were very clear that the pants had to be navy blue, and they hadn't sent the company shirts yet, and were they going to get upset if my pants were the wrong shade of blue, and I know it's probably not the end of the world but I just don't want to start off with them on the wrong foot.

"You do know they're in Virginia, right?"

Right. Thanks John. Sorry to bother you.

"You got non-slip boots right?"

Well not yet but I was on it, and did it have to be boots because the emails and everything all said boots or shoes, so I had been planning on shoes because those would probably be a lot cheaper and I didn't want to go overboard with buying stuff before I got out there and saw what the job was really like, but if it had to be boots then that's great I can get boots I just hadn't planned on it.

"Just make sure they're non-slip."

Cool. Boots or shoes. Check or check. See you Friday.

A Brief Interlude To Vent

If we ever had this conversation, I don't like you:

"Do you like Cake? The band?"

"Cake? Weren't they cool for a little while in, like, the late '90s?"

"Well yeah they got a lot of radio play in the '90s. Going the Distance. Short Skirt, Long Jacket... I think Fashion Nugget sold pretty well."

"Yeah I think I bought Fashion Nugget. You still listen to them? Why?"

Want. To. Stab.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

An Unfiltered Blog Post

I have to go to work on Monday, which I promise you is weird. You might have taken someone at their word in the past and you might have been let down, and therefore at this point you might be having a hard time accepting that it's weird that I would go to work on a Monday simply because I promise that it's weird, and if that's the case then I imagine you're wondering if I couldn't give you more to work with than (a)n (potentially) empty promise. But, strangely (and I think you'll agree), I imagine you're wondering this in the form of the question, "what's it like?"

Well, it's like this: I was originally scheduled to begin my route on a Thursday last month (and this month too, [editor's note: I just found out what "by proxy" means, and it doesn't fit here] by extension [editor's note: fingers crossed]), and I would have too if it weren't for dumb Expedia and dumb United Airlines and dumb fog. But that's a topic better left to a filtered blog post.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Losers Never Quit: Your Video Guide To Anything But This

Part 1: "It's not you, The Present, it's me..."

So you're finally ready to quit your job as a pizza delivery driver. Congratulations! And good for you. You could have waited another two months and made it a solid three years at the same dead end, but you're choosing to Move On. You might be moving on because you have:

- secured a better opportunity
- secured another opportunity
- sustained a serious injury

or simply

- stopped hating yourself so much

Whatever the specific reason or reasons, you're quitting to Win! Yes, the future can be scary, but the future is—maybe not so much yours as—well at least it's not Theirs.

Part 2: "We need to talk, The Past. I've met someone else..."

Look at you over there with your new job offer. Aren't you a fantastic pair.

Getting a new job is really the best way to leave your old job, so way to go. You're strolling through life down the path marked "awesome." What's more, training starts in two days, and you just found out today, so you're current boss is going to be pissed something fierce. This will be not-good-but-great news if you:

- hate your boss (as a boss, not as a person)
- hate your boss (as a person? Do you...hate...people...?)
- hate working alongside the boss's alcoholic narcissistic best buddy
- regularly fantasize about leaving without giving any notice at all

These are all great reasons, and you can probably think up some more on your own. But being excited about the possibility of quitting on short notice does not prepare you for the reality of quitting on short notice. In a moment, your instructor will be distributing a handout to help you practice the most likely scenario of giving your boss two days notice. If possible, break into groups of three and act out the provided scene, then discuss your experience as a class. Your instructor may have additional directions. Now, pause the tape, and hit play again when you are ready for Part 3.

Supplementary Handout:

EMPLOYEE has just received a job offer on a day off and needs to tell BOSS as soon as possible. Having learned that BOSS is taking a break at Best Buy, EMPLOYEE drives to Best Buy and wanders into the television section. There they see each other at the same moment. SALESPERSON waits offstage.

BOSS: Hey, what's going on?

EMPLOYEE: Hey, I actually came here looking for you. I need to talk to you. (EMPLOYEE settles into a stance almost perpendicular to BOSS'S)

EMPLOYEE notices several brochures in BOSS'S hand.

EMPLOYEE: Are you...are you with a salesperson?

BOSS: (Looking around) Yeah, can it wait?

EMPLOYEE: Uh...actually I need to tell you something right now, and you're not going to be happy about it.

SALESPERSON approaches.

BOSS: What? Are you leaving?


BOSS: (Looking at SALESPERSON) When?

EMPLOYEE: Two days. I can work tomorrow and Thursday, then I start training on Friday and I'll be gone for two weeks straight.

SALESPERSON comes close enough that the three form a small triangle, unsure what is happening.

BOSS: Why...wha...why didn't you tell me...before?

BOSS clearly wants to throw a man-sized tantrum, but cannot in Best Buy. SALESPERSON stares ahead uncomfortably

EMPLOYEE: I just found out this morning. (EMPLOYEE becomes aware of the stance, something picked up from Matt Damon about standing with your gun hip away from people)

BOSS: I uh...we've got to talk later.

EMPLOYEE: Okay. (Turns to leave, then stops and turns back) Hey, do you want me to work tomorrow?

BOSS: (Definite) Yes.

EMPLOYEE turns and walks away, trying not to smile

Part 3: "Hi there, you must be The Future. My name is..."

You have reached the end of Tape 1. Insert Tape 2 for no further instructions.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Hiss, A Piss, A Screen Door, Roodneercsassipassiha

Get a load of this story:

For years my mom tried to convince my dad that a neighborhood cat was regularly peeing on their front door, thus explaining a discoloration at the door's base. The conversations would go something like this:

"I'm telling you, there's a cat peeing on the door. It pees on the screen and it's getting on the door."

"...uh huh."

Her theory was, of course, ridiculous, except for the fact that a cat has indeed been peeing on their front door. This was confirmed when my parents removed the screen door in anticipation of replacing it, and my dad found a puddle of cat piss in the doorway the next morning.

A couple of days later I was delivering pizzas when I noticed two strange devices plugged into a customer's porch outlet. They were dome-shaped objects about two inches around and extended about an inch from the outlet. At first I thought they might be nightlights, but then I remembered that is was night and not light. I asked the customer about them as he signed the receipt.

"Oh, those... we had voles," he said, and explained that the devices emitted a frequency that repelled the voles but didn't bother people.

"Do they work on cats?" I asked.

"On cats? I don't know," he said. "Out here we've got coyotes... those work on cats."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Trailer For My Next Blog Post About My New Job

John continued to explain the filter count change sheet.

"And here you'll circle N or A for whether it's actual or nominal."

I stared at the paper, and then at John. He continued.

"It's almost always going to be nominal. I don't think I've ever had to order a frame that was actually, you know, 20x25 or 16x20."

"I don't, know what you're talking about," I said. "What's nominal."

"Nominal? You know, 'nominal,' like with a 2x4?"

I stared at John, and then at the paper. He stared at me.

"I, um...," he said. "I don't know how to explain it in 'geek.'"