Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Lunches

“Michael!  Just the man I need to see.”

It was Bob.  I like Bob.  He and I worked on a project together several years ago and got to know each other a little bit.  We found that we have a similar desire to not make our jobs more difficult with stupid inefficiency and a similar frustration with people who rise to management but have no flexibility and cannot see the future failure of their awful decisions.  It’s a sad situation when there are no quality applicants for a management position so the vacuum just sucks up the next in line without consideration of ability.

I don’t believe, as an agency, and perhaps as a society, we have met the minimum standard for comprehension of the phrase “minimum standard.”

So Bob comes up to me and he leans in (he is much taller than I) and he turns his back to the few people in the lobby.  So I’m thinking a dirty joke is coming.  Bob tells a lot of dirty jokes that aren’t funny.  Most of them aren’t even really dirty.  Still he feels the need to whisper them as if telling jokes at work is somehow forbidden.  And he says, “Your name keeps coming across my desk.”

So now I’m thinking, “Oh crap!  They promised it wouldn’t, but somehow word got out that I’d been suspended.  But that was three months ago.  How many people know?  And do they know what I did to get suspended?  Or worse, are they guessing what it was?  That explains why everyone’s been acting so normal; they know I’ve done something and they don’t want me to know they know so they’re acting like they always do to hide the fact that they know!”

I actually did think all of that.  Bob had stopped talking because someone had come into the lobby and a said hello or something and so he turned and exchanged a few pleasantries with them.  Bob is a fairly popular guy.

“Sorry about that,” he says, turning his back to the lobby again and returning his voice to a whisper.  “So like I said, your name keeps coming across my desk for courtyard parking.”

“Courtyard parking?”

“Yeah.  Instead of parking in the parking deck you’re eligible for courtyard parking.  Only most people don’t want it because the courtyard has no protection from the sun and in the summer it gets pretty hot inside the car.  Most people I ask would rather stay in the parking deck even though they have to walk farther.  So, do you want to move to the courtyard?”

“No,” I said, my heart sinking.  “I…” I stammered a little.  “I only drive in once a week or so.”  I paused.  “I… I usually take the bus, so… so I don’t want to take the space.”

“Ok, great,” he said.  “I’ll pass the offer on to someone else.”  And Bob walked away.

It was worse – way worse – than everyone finding out I had been suspended.  Worse than the would-be gossip of everyone speculating on my crime.  Worse because it apparently didn’t matter.  My little rebellion against this hum-drum 9 to 5, my tiny rage against the machine, essentially went unnoticed.  It was business as usual.  Except that now I apparently have been here long enough to qualify for special parking.  I have seniority.  Like a senior citizen.

I stood there like an idiot. I forgot why I had come to the lobby.  It was probably to get a drink.  Only now I was too crushed to enjoy anything.  The elevator door opened and I instinctively got on.  As the doors were closing this younger guy slipped in.  Taller than me, thinner than me.  His clothes were pressed and new and brightly colored.  He had a full head of hair and he was clean shaven.  I guess I was staring.  And I guess my stare was a little jealous and perhaps a little angry looking.

“Is there a pro…”

“You shut up,” I said.  “You shut your stupid mouth.”

“Excuse me?”

“I was young when I came to this job.  Young and attractive with possibilities.  But the job took it from me.  It took it from me and it gave it all to you.”

The elevator door opened on a floor that wasn’t mine.  A lady got on and I stepped off.

“I hope you choke on it,” I shouted and walked away.

“What was all that about?” the lady asked.

“I don’t know,” the guy said as the doors were closing.

I took the stairs the rest of the way to my floor.  I closed the door to my office and turned the light off. Then I opened the blinds and watched the empty pool across the street until I fell asleep.  It’s how I spend most of my Friday lunches.



Ok, full disclosure, I didn’t say anything to the guy in the elevator.  But I thought it.  I thought it hard and I’m pretty sure he knew I thought it, even though he never took his eyes off his phone.  Stupid 20 year olds and their stupid faces.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

While you were distracted!

I really hate all of these social media articles that begin with:

While you were distracted by (news the writer wants you to believe is frivolous) look what (entity the writer wants you to believe is evil) slipped by, right under your nose!

Now, I’m not saying that the given news the writer thinks is frivolous is not frivolous.  And I’m not saying that the entity the writer wants you to believe is evil is not evil.  Sometimes I agree and sometimes I disagree.  But I’m really appalled at the arrogance of the writer to assume that he or she is so much more informed than the rest of us.  It might as well read:

Ok, you lazy, unobservant assholes, I thought you had my back, but I was wrong.  You had your nose glued to a porno while I was talking to the Lord about the next steps of the righteous.  Meanwhile, Voldemort managed to totally overthrow all of humanity including you.

While I’m at it I also hate those Facebook posts that say, “If you love your _____ repost this,” or “If you are proud of your ____ and think he/she/it is great...”  These articles are generally benign and sometimes even sweet.  I just don’t want them on my page.  But I feel guilty because I do love my  _____.  I don’t want my _____ to find out that I didn’t repost this article and then think that I don’t love him/her/it.  Will my _____ ever find out I didn't repost?  Probably not.  But there is, logically, a > 0% chance he/she/it will.  Which means that there is a >0% chance I'm ok with breaking my _____'s heart.  I'm a little unnerved by this self revelation.  I feel potentially callous.

By the way, while you weren’t paying attention the communists put this on my blog:

If you love your daughter or son or husband or wife or Jesus or your cat then you will comment to this thread!
And check out these awesome songs:
And buy Michael Fleming’s album!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Monday Working Over Time

I spilled coffee and burned my Monday fingers.  I ran them under cold water, but they’re still red and puffy.  The worst part is I forgot to get a hole punched in my drink ticket.  If you get ten holes punched then you get a free coffee.  I was looking at a free coffee next Monday. It was the only thing next Monday had going for it.  This Monday managed to ruin itself and next Monday.  That’s a Monday working over time.  I respect that work ethic, but I hate the results.

In high school there was this real creep, we’ll call him Naton – with a hard "A" like in mate or date.  Actually, I guess I don’t care if you give it a soft "A" like mat or cat.  His name wasn’t really Naton so it doesn’t make a difference.  Though he would probably like it if you gave him a Hard A.  Urban Dictionary says Hard A is a slang term for hard alcohol.  Naton was a drug dealer.  Here, I admit, I’m being stereotypical in assuming that a drug dealer would want hard alcohol.  Perhaps he was a teetotaler.  I don’t know.  What I do know about Naton is that he was not lazy.  He had an amazing work ethic.  One day I’d hear a friend say Naton was out of pot and acid and by that afternoon he was flush again. 

I had to get to school pretty early so I could put my trumpet in the instrument room.  On occasion I was just too late to do this, so I had to carry the bulky case around in addition to my huge back pack.  In high school I made a habit of carrying all of my books in my back pack so I wouldn’t ever have to go to my locker.  The hallways in high school were terrifying and I did everything I could to avoid them.  Anyway, I had to be at school pretty early and on this particular day I saw him walking by.  That evening a friend of mine and I decided to go to a back woods punk show that was taking place in a barn venue somewhere.  The place was pretty remote.  It took us forever to find and when we finally did it was a good mile away from anything in every direction.  Not surprisingly, Naton was there with an ever changing entourage of sunken eyed bed-heads waiting to shake hands with him and disappear.  I had been there for about a half hour and I was already seriously ready to go.  The music was right on the cusp of horrible.  Everyone talked about how this band was the shit.  For the most part I agreed, but without the definite article.

Still, I wanted to be seen as cool.  So I tried to make sense of the music in the hopes that I could find some common ground with anything in the lyrics.  But the lyrics were going by so quickly I couldn’t catch anything but the cuss words.  Right in front of the stage there was a horde of beefy robots in shorts and combat boots bounding from one side of the imaginary dance floor to the next, ramming each other with their shoulders and basically trying to knock each other down.  I was told this was a mosh pit and that “moshing” or “slam-dancing” was a valid form of dance.  (I don’t think they teach it at Julliard yet.  It’s too cutting edge.)  I watched the pit for about ten minutes.  It was far more interesting than the music.  As violent as it was I couldn’t help but think of the German Schuhplatter.  If they had slapped their feet and worn lederhosen I would not have been shocked.  What did shock me, however, was being pushed into the mosh pit.

Just like it looks from the outside, the mosh pit feels very much like you are in a rock tumbler.  However, nothing comes out smoother.  Nothing comes out polished.  Everything is bruised and possibly chipped and, in my case, embarrassed.  In high school I was tiny.  I’m only 5’7” on a good day.  Back then I weighed 125 pounds with a 27 inch waist.  I did not get to see what I looked like in the mosh pit, but I imagine I looked something like a Muppet that got thrown into a mosh pit full of real people.

When I was finally done “dancing” I was ready to go.  Life on the fringe of civilized society had left me longing for my bedroom.  Besides, it was nearing 11 and getting home by midnight was going to be a challenge.  I told my friend I was leaving and he did not put up any resistance.  On the drive home he decreed that the band had lost much of the luster from the first single they produced and were way too main stream for him now.  I told him that I had been pushed into the mosh pit and he said that he had enjoyed a few rounds in the pit as well.  Maybe it’s a perspective thing.

The next day at school I was sore.  I wanted more than anything to curl up on the floor and sleep.  But there, bright and sun-shiny as the middle of the day, was Naton with his cloud of friends in need.  Like a Monday working over time.