The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Done

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Disclaimer:  I actually didn’t do any of the illegal things described below because those illegal things are illegal and I’m a law abiding guy.  This isn’t a confession to crimes committed, just an entertaining story that totally never actually happened, okay?

Freshman year of college, I was walking home from a 6pm-9pm class one night.  The sun had already set and being the invincible still-teenager that I was, I made sure to take all of the darkest, sketchiest alleyways to get back to my dorm.  This was, after all, nearly a full year before I was robbed at gun point.

Lurking in the shadow of the Counseling building that was just yards away from my dorm community were two figures, a guy and a girl.  Rather than assuming they were up to no good, I decided I would ask them what they were trying to accomplish in such a poorly lit spot.  When they both nearly jumped out of their skin, well, then I assumed they were up to no good.

He was a typical fratty guy in a polo with too much gel in his hair.

Busty doesn’t adequately describe her.  I think I vaguely remember that she had a pretty face, but it wasn’t something that I noticed until we became Facebook friends.  It’s a miracle I didn’t keel over from a boob overdose right then and there.  When the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration runs through the entire alphabet when naming hurricanes in one season, they resort to the greek alphabet.  I suppose she had Omega cups.

I’m not the type of guy who goes on and on about this stuff anymore, but I was back then and this story takes place in the past, so humor me when I detail how enamored I was with her knockers.  Guys of a certain age just aren’t that smart, okay?

It’s a miracle they didn’t throw the Earth off its axis and send us spiraling into the sun.

The teenage male's mind devotes an inordinate amount of memory to encounters with boobs.

Seriously, I’m done talking about this girl’s breasts now.

As I said, the guy seemed to be a Fraternity-type so with his fake swagger cranked up to eleven, he emerged from between two maintenance golf carts in the darkness to share with me an intriguing fact that was whispered to him.  He didn’t say by whom.

Our tiny, dorm-community mailbox keys were rumored to be capable of cranking up the maintenance golf carts.

I asked him if he had any luck and he said that he hadn’t tried before I came up on him and started asking questions.  I laughed at how ridiculous this all sounded and went on my merry way.

A few beers into the post-LOST festivities that night, I recounted the bizarre encounter to my compatriots.  The consensus was universal.  We had to test this theory.  It probably wasn’t true, but we had to know.  “No, no,” I told them.  They handed me another beer, then another, then another.  After I emptied the bottles into my belly, the conversation returned to this topic.  “No, no,” I repeated, but by now the dissent was laced with drunken chuckles.  More beers were handed to me and I consumed them.

The next time this rumor came up, the conversation was different:

“How many beers do you need to drink before you are willing to try this, Brantley?”

“At least ten.”

The Empty Bottle (EB) is the international measurement of bad ideas.

It wasn’t long before ten of the empty bottles that crowded every open surface in my dorm were accounted for by me.

Without much fuss leading up to my ruling this time, I informed them:  “Maybe like two more.”

After a dozen beers, I found myself standing back as I watched a handful of friends no more sober than myself fumbling with the golf cart ignitions in the dark.  Somehow, someway, my liver manned up enough that I was still the most prudent of the group.

This is how I ended up in the rear-facing back seat instead of driving, because

IT.

FREAKING.

WORKED.

Drunken courage and disregard for rules doesn’t equal coordination or control of your body, so two golf carts swerved all freaking over campus that night.  At one point, our driver took a turn as tight as he could.  The blonde, burnout girl sitting next to me on the back seat of the cart quit being on the back seat of the cart after succumbing to inertia.  She tumbled through the grass as she was thrown off.  It was almost the hardest I’ve ever laughed in my entire life.

Drunken courage plus disregard for rules does not equal hand-eye coordination or basic motor function.

But then she was crying.  She scraped her hands and hurt her ankle.  Or knee.  I don’t remember because I was twelve beers into the night so my retention reserved itself for the inebriated joy of the wind in my hair as we tore through the night air in those stolen vehicles.  Regardless of which joint she hurt, it killed the night and we brought the golf carts back to where we stole them from and went back up to my room to hang out for a bit more before parting ways to sleep it all off.

It wasn’t an isolated occurrence and it wasn’t a secret that we kept very well.  It required boasting.  A lot of it.

We stole those golf carts probably two or three more times.  Each theft required a prerequisite game of “How many beers does Brantley need before this becomes a good idea?”  There was a bit of a sliding scale, but usually the magic number fell between 10 EB and 12 EB.

One night, we didn’t exactly return them in one piece.  A FedEx drop off mailbox leaped into the path of our cart and we couldn’t swerve (or stop swerving probably) in time to avoid it.  We crashed into that big metal box and knocked it about five feet from where it was bolted into the freaking cement.  We were cautious enough to only allow ourselves about 45 seconds of uninhibited laughter before we got the hell out of there before we found out exactly what the consequences of all of this would be.

Eventually we did find out exactly what the consequences of all of this would be.  It’s a total miracle that it wasn’t the hard way.  The rumors that circled the community took on a new tone.

The Fraternity-type and his enormously chesty girlfriend were caught on a stolen golf cart.  Campus police threw the book at them.  Both were hit with Grand Theft Auto.  Fratty-Polo guy was driving, so he got a complimentary DUI with it.

Learning from someone else's mistakes trumps felonies every time.

Looking back on all of this, these rumors were probably living up to the reputation of rumors.  Legendary things become legends pretty easily when drunken coeds are involved.  Stories that are passed around orally by people who only half-remember them evolve over time and truth  fades away into obscurity as the tales morph into outright lies.

Half-remembered stories orally passed around evolve over time, and truth fades away into obscurity as tales morph into outright lies.

The basis of this particular gossip seems believable enough though, even now.  We never stole golf carts again after that.

Moments of terrible judgement form the core of many great stories.

Oh yeah, like I said, this never happened.  I didn’t do any of this.  It’s illegal.

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Take This Job and Shove It – Why You Should Try Getting Fired (At Least Once in Your Life)

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The concept of selling hours of your life for little or no money is older than I care to research to determine an exact time in which it was put into practice.  Most normal people will start off with at least one or a few incredibly crappy jobs.  They’re the type of jobs that have miserable employees who are treated like garbage by customers who are the scum of the earth and have no other way to feel good about themselves.

Well after being an Resident Assistant for two years (which was much longer than any other job I had ever held), I quit so that I would have more time to waste on anything but writing.  After all, these were the steps I took towards pursuing my dream at the time.

It wasn’t long before I realized an obvious fact about life.  If you don’t work, you don’t have money.  If you don’t have money, nothing is good.  Some people say that money can’t buy happiness and they might be right, but I wouldn’t know seeing as how I’ve never had any money.  Nobody says that poverty can buy happiness.  Actually I’m sure somebody somewhere does because this is a big world full of all types of people.  This hypothetical person is out of their damned mind.

Some people say that money can't buy happiness, but nobody says that poverty can.

Needless to say, I started looking for a job.  It wasn’t easy in those years right after the financial collapse.  I should say it wasn’t easy for most people.  I got hired at the first place I applied to.  For the most part I’m a pretty unlucky guy.  Somehow all of my luck has become concentrated in the arena of finding employment.

It was a new pizza franchise, Marco’s Pizza.  If you’ve read some of my blog posts, you know that pizza and I go way back and that it’s something easy enough that I can do it in my sleep.

Well, not Marco’s.  Marco’s had standards and the most adept micro-manager in the history of people who are awful at their jobs.  Her name was Patty and she was a raging Bitchasaurus.  Patty supervised much of my training, which to give you some perspective, was extremely unnecessary seeing as how she was in charge of managing multiple locations within the franchise.  She never let the scope of her responsibilities get in the way of counting how many pepperonis I put on each pizza though.  Or how precisely I stuck to the telephone script for taking orders.  No matter how busy the store was, she ALWAYS had time to be right there breathing down my neck.

Luckily, she had a great teaching style.  She would tell me to move out of the way while she made the pizzas for me, all the while shaming my efforts.  Minimum wage pizza makers are kinda supposed to count pepperonis, but customers truly don’t give a crap.  They don’t taste the difference between 28 and 30 pepperonis.  It’s one of many instances where “Close Enough” is identical to its cousin, “Good Enough.”

I only worked a few days that first week.  It was hell.  I hated it.  Nobody had heard of this stupid chain and I didn’t make any money in tips because there were so few orders.  I didn’t know the delivery area and I didn’t have a GPS to back me up.  If I called the store for directions, they put me on with Patty and I experienced the sudden urge to just drive as far away as possible in one direction until my car ran out of gas.

After being totally lost on a delivery and having plenty of time to stew in my own frustration, I decided I would wait for the opportune moment and then quit.  There was no longer a need to keep my temper in check with this lady.  Next time she was asking for it, oh I was gonna let her have it.

I was only there for a week and a half, but I got to know one of the shift leads pretty well.  He was as laid back as Patty was wound up and we bonded pretty quickly over the single closing shift that I worked at this crap factory.

It was my second Friday at Marco’s when I took a delivery to a high school football game.  The booster club was selling pizza by the slice at the concession stand.  As condescendingly as she possibly could, Patty told me to leave the pizza and bring back the hot bags.  I took the pizza to the game, left it and was about to walk away bags in hand when the nice parent volunteer behind the counter asked if they could keep the hot bags seeing as how that was the usual arrangement.  The customer is always right, but I played it safe and called the store.

Answering the phone was the nice, overweight general manager (who in retrospect I feel bad for seeing as how she wasn’t allowed to do her job with Patty sucking all of the air out of the room with her aura of horribleness).  Fat manager told me to go ahead and leave the bags.  I did just that, flashing one more toothy smile at the customer before departing.

When I returned to the store, Patty immediately asked me where the hot bags were.  I explained that fat manager told me I could leave them with the customer.  Patty told me to turn back around and go get them.  This was my opportunity, but I didn’t take it.  Yet.  I went back to get the bags.

Back at the football game, the friendly parent volunteer kindly told me that they were still using the bags to keep the pizza warm as they sold it.  I didn’t want to be the bad guy, so I called the fat manager to put her on the phone directly with the customer.  Apparently fat manager didn’t want to be the bad guy either, because she told the customer that she could keep the bags for the second time.  The customer handed the phone back and I was informed of the resilience of the status quo in terms of hot bag possession.  I had tolerated all that I could of this dump.  I wanted to lash out, but this wasn’t fat manager’s fault, it was Patty’s.  So in a level, controlled, cold-burning temper I calmly told her to “Thank Patty for wasting so much of my time tonight.”

When I came back, I was fired.  This was to be expected, but the way that it was carried out was entirely unexpected.  Patty, for all her micromanaging, delegated firing me to my buddy shift lead.  If you’ve never worked in a fast food chain, shift leads are often high school kids.  It wasn’t in this case, but still, that is the level of employee that she chose to do her dirty work.

Being that I liked this guy, I didn’t yell at him when he told me to go inside and get my stuff without talking to anyone, especially Patty.  Instead, I flashed my most playful grin as I said, “Come on!  Let me have a word with Patty.  I’m already fired anyways!”  He kindly asked me not to do that and I really felt bad for the position that he was in, so I obliged him.

It was one of the most gratifying experiences in my entire life.  As cogs in the system, we all have to put up with so very much bullshit at work. For an exercise in asserting your self-worth, I encourage everyone to take the opportunity one day to tell their boss to fuck themselves.  Don’t do it all the time and don’t do it if they aren’t a bad person.  Just keep this suggestion in your back pocket for that moment when you can’t take it anymore.  I guarantee you it will be worth it.  And I’m pretty sure once will last you an entire lifetime!

Tell someone important to fuck off every once in a while.  It's good for your health.

Democracy and the Greatest Drinking Game I’ve Ever Played

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One fateful day in late October, I was offered a life-changing opportunity in one of my Political Science classes.  

A public official was passing around a sign-up sheet for a paid opportunity to help work the polls on election day.  It was easy money for just a few hours of work, plus I would get the added intellectual bonus of peering behind the curtain to see the mechanisms of our great democracy!

Pole Dancing

Also, working the polls is exactly this glamorous.
Photo Credit: BoiseWeekly.com

I was available, so I put my name down on the list and was contacted a few days later with information on when/where to show up on that fateful night.

I apologize for how misleading this tale has been up to this point.  I don’t have any scintillating tales of what I saw when I peaked up our republic’s skirt.  Truthfully, it was an extraordinarily forgettable night.  Surrounded by many people my own age and many people at least triple my own age, we sat on folding chairs in a circle being very inefficiently managed.

Every so often we would be called for, just a few people at a time to move some boxes around.  Yes, this is how we elect the goobers that govern us.  We put stuff in boxes and then move the boxes around.  I just saved you a Civics course.  You’re welcome.

In the time in between rare bouts of labor I sat quietly, avoiding eye contact with these strangers and feeling very awkward in my own skin.  You see this election was a traumatic one for me.  Rick Scott was running against Alex Sink for Governor of Sex-Crazed Looney National Headline-Land (Florida for those who don’t realize the bizarre carnival that we risk our lives daily to inhabit).  It was the most transparent election that would ever be forced upon the public (hopefully).  A clear choice between the crook with a “(D)” next to her name or the crook with an “(R)” next to his name.  I couldn’t in good conscience contribute to the election of either.

Being a historically minded chap, I know that people have sacrificed so much for the right to vote.  Well, like, people other than white guys like me.  To not vote is to take a big pee on everything that those courageous individuals stood for.  The self-loathing made my skin crawl.  The feeling of my skin-crawling made my muscles crawl.  The ickiness of feeling my muscles crawl made my bones crawl.  I was spasming with contempt for myself.  Had someone thought to ask me which crook I voted for, I would have promptly thrown up on the floor, realizing that I had died a horrible death and was now sitting in my own personal hell.

Luckily, there were people my age in the room.  And like most people that age, they were talking about the important issues of the day (Tuesday, that is):  Getting drunk.  One fellow in particular was extremely bold and opinionated on the issue.

He was the Samuel Adams to our Constitutional Convention of strangers sitting on folding chairs in a dimly lit warehouse.  This analogy may or may not work.  I’m not sure whether or not Samuel Adams actually got the Facebook Invite to the Constitutional Convention.  As I understand it, he was a popular rabble-rouser in the bar who somehow drunkenly helped incite the American Revolution.  If this is incorrect, please don’t ever tell me because it makes my view of history at least 11x more awesome than the ones in the textbooks.

Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams – totally hammered and ready to revolt as usual.
Photo Credit: TheFederalistPapers.org

This enlightened individual bestowed upon our group a fruit from the tree of intoxication (you know, the one from Genesis).  That gift, ladies and gentlemen, was DRUNK MARIO KART.

Simple facts about childhood:

1.  At a certain age (generally 105 years old), you begin to rant and rave to younger people that your childhood was exponentially superior to theirs.  Your childhood took place in the Golden Age of Childhood, and the whole world has been steadily deteriorating since you stopped being a child.

2.  There is no Golden Age of Childhood.  Shut up about it already.

3.  If you insist on continuing this argument, I will crush you with this all-important question:  Did you play Mario Kart on your Nintendo 64 when you were a kid?  If you answered, “No, Brantley.  I played with sticks and dirt like God intended,” then your childhood was rotten and your parents didn’t love you.  

Mario Kart 64 cartridge

I’d hit that. I’d blow it too. Anything that it takes to get these stupid cartridges to work these days.
Photo credit: The giant friggin watermark on the picture.

Mario Kart is a video game featuring popular Nintendo characters such as “Italian- stereotype (#1 and #2),” “Reminder-That-All-Women-Are-Just-Damsels-In-Distress,” “There’s-Something-Racist-About-This-Gorilla-You-Just-Can’t-Put-Your-Finger-On-It,” “Horrifying-Dinosaur,” “Adorable-Dinosaur,” and of course, everyone’s favorite:  “Jovial-Effeminate-Fungus.”  In the game, each of the above stated characters that probably make sense somehow in Japanese culture race each other in go karts.  They battle their way to the finish line using weapons such as turtle shells, heat-seeking turtle shells, presents that aren’t actually presents, electrocution as an enhanced interrogation technique, temporary invincibility, and banana peels.

I sincerely hope that banana peels don’t actually cause car accidents, because I chuck them out the window when I’m out driving all the time.  They’re biodegradable and you can’t make me feel bad about this.

Drunken Mario Kart is hands-down the Greatest Drinking Game ever conceived. 

The rules are simple:

1.  You must finish your beer before crossing the finish line.

2.  You cannot drink and drive.  Put your controller down to chug your beer. 

3.  Avoid cliche “Fight Club” references when listing out the rules of Drunk Mario Kart.

For those crunching the numbers, races only take around 3-4 minutes on average.  Even if you stop frequently to drink your beer, races still don’t exceed 5 minutes.  Power Hour is for sissies.

The key to avoiding alcohol poisoning is to make sure that you have more than 4 people playing.  I recommend at least 6-8.  After each round, the first and second place finishers get to play again, while the losers in third and fourth place surrender their spot to other people waiting in the wings.  This increases the amount of time before someone vomits on your rug.

Don’t be surprised that this becomes a game of varying strategies.

Some people choose to park at the starting line and chug as much of their beer as they can stomach.  Racers in third and fourth place get the best weapons from the randomized system, so starting off behind gives you the means and the time to catch up and take the lead.

Others throw down their controller every time they hit an obstacle.  In the first several rounds, most players don’t find enough chugging time to finish their beer before reaching the finish line using this technique.  Later on in the night, obstacles become much easier to hit and those moments when your kart is toppling through the air amount to enough time to finish that can.

A third approach is to park just before the finish line and then chug the entire beer before everyone else catches up.  It’s bold, it isn’t common, and it’s risky.  You are banking on draining that brew before your competitors can chew through the substantial lead that you’ve developed by not popping the top until those last inches before the checkered line.

If you haven’t finished your beer before crossing the finish line, you are disqualified and have to give up your controller.  It’s probably for the best anyways.  If you are no longer in a condition where you can casually chug a beer every 4 minutes, you should consider taking a break from your consumption.

As I stated above, the night was quite forgettable other than this particular nugget of wisdom.  Eventually, the ballots arrived in giant stacks of boxes piled high on wooden pallets and then shrink-wrapped into place.  My contribution to the unfortunate election of Governor Voldemort?  Moving those ballots from right here to over there.

Rick Scott Voldemort Comparison

But seriously, look at these two. They could be twins that take turns sharing a nose.
Photo Credit: Cheezburger.com

If you can top this drinking game, I will mail you a hand-made coupon for a six-pack.  It won’t be redeemable anywhere, but I will put like $10 in the envelope with it so we can just pretend that it is legit.

Parents Weekend

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Parents weekend snuck up on me every single year of college.  Luckily, my parents only chose to participate for Freshman and Sophomore year.

Being the decent, moral, religious folks that they were, I had thoroughly expected it to be a distressing weekend in which I tried to hide the byproducts of my debauchery from their judging eyes.  I was an adult and I didn’t need anymore of that “I’m so disappointed in you” crap.  In the days leading up to that weekend, I knew that I would need to clean up the beer cans, take down the beer pong table, and kick all of the beautiful naked coeds out of my bed.  Then I could feel guilt-free when I put on my best know-it-all teenager face seeing as how I wasn’t actually rubbing their noses in my sinful lifestyle, just walking around like the new man that it made me.

Given my well-documented social struggles, there wasn’t a ton of clean up necessary.  I hid my fancy bourbon and shot glasses away behind some stuff under my bed.  I folded up the barely-used ping pong table.  Most importantly, I hid my fake ID, which I never kept in the same place as my real license anyway.  Seeing as how they would be in my room and I didn’t want to leave it somewhere obvious like a drawer, I put it in the console of my car underneath a lot of other junk.

My family and I met up with some friends from back home at dinner the first night.  Our parents were friends from the swim team that their daughter and I spent so much time with throughout high school.  I felt like such a failure that I didn’t have anything to hide from the adults as we discussed our adjustment to college life.  Afterwards, my parents turned in early.  They wanted to be well rested for the football game the next day.

I picked them up from their hotel the next morning so that they wouldn’t have to pay to park on campus.  It saved them a huge nightmare of circling the garages on game day.  My dad mentioned that he needed to go to the bathroom, so we stopped at my dorm building and he and I ran up to my room.

At this point, I was sweating a little bit.  My mom had no reason to go through the console of my car, and I had my fake hidden in such a way that she would really have to dig to find it.  Still, it was stressful to picture her alone in the car with an item that could get me into deep trouble with my parents.  Granted, I would have done my best to pretend not to care that I was in trouble with them, but it really would have bothered me.

There's no shame in not wanting to disappoint your parents admitted no teenager ever.

My dorm was parent-friendly and my dad looked around before settling in at my desk chair.  This wasn’t the bathroom.  I wondered what he was doing.

“Your mother is under the impression that you have a fake ID.”

My performance must have been convincing enough, “What?!”

“I know.  I don’t know where she gets these things.”  He studied me.  “Give me your wallet.  I will just tell her that I looked through it while you were in the bathroom.”

I handed it over, thankful that the ID was in the car next to my mother, who was assuming that my father would find it in my room.

He didn’t find it.  The room got more comfortable.  He went to the bathroom and we went to the game, which he and I were more or less enjoying.

I knew that I would get under my parents skin if I joined the crowd chant of “Bullshit!  Bullshit!” when UCF was hit with a questionable penalty.  Naturally, I became one of the loudest voices in the student section.  My mother hit me and scowled.

But that was it.  It was all that she could do to me.  I was a grown-up now.  I couldn’t be grounded for using colorful language.

She didn’t want to stay for the second half.  She said she had a headache, and I wondered if I had shattered her heart with my profanity.

That was probably one of my dumber thoughts that weekend.

I’m proud to say that the UCF student section is insanely loud.  Brighthouse Networks Stadium is not a fun place for the away team.  We jump up and down on the metal bleachers, creating a racket that drowns out most communication on the field.  We howl during every defensive possession.  Fan forums love to boast about this, but I was always skeptical about the true impact of the ruckus until this year.

This season, my girlfriend and her business partner got press passes so that they could shoot pictures of the game.  They watched the home games from down on the end zones and she was shocked by how much of the student section’s cacophony polluted the field.  It’s no wonder my migraine-prone mother couldn’t handle a full 60 minutes of football.

The twelfth man actually does make a difference.

On a side note, Ben reached out to me a few days prior to parents weekend.  He let me know that his folks would be swinging by the dorm.  His solution to the fact that they were paying good money for a bed that he wasn’t sleeping in?  Well, he just figured he would put some sheets on it and lie, and he asked that I corroborate his story.  By now, I realized that the room was way comfier with him not in it, so I was thrilled to play along!

Do you have any awkward stories to tell about your college’s Parents Weekend?