Notes From My Girlfriend’s Birthday

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This is over a month late, but oh well.

I’m beginning to realize that I have a tremendously introverted time at bars.  That being said, here are a few of the things that I remember thinking when we went out for my girlfriend’s birthday.

We took Uber, which is basically a freelance cab service.  It was awesome and cheap, though my mom scolded me publicly on Facebook which (aside from providing her with right wing propaganda) seems to be the only way that she uses social networking.  “They don’t do background checks on those people!  They could be bad drivers and/or axe murderers!”  Something along those lines.  You know, typical mom stuff.

Our first bar was Little Indie’s.  It was a hipster dive with provocative pictures of nude pin-up girls providing the entirety of the decor in this building that literally had plywood walls in places.  There were a few booths and high tops for people to congregate around and a VJ stood by the door, playing music in front of a flat screen TV with VH1 Classic on mute.  The music didn’t match the music videos, which was equal parts off-putting and exhilarating.  The unisex bathroom had two beaten up movie theater chairs facing the toilet.  We all know that girls tend to accompany each other to the restroom, but I had never thought of it being a spectator thing.  The bar area was pretty cool and they had a couple dozen craft beers along with some very convoluted cocktails with fascinating names.  

We left and went downtown to Bar-B-Que Bar/Eye Spy/Sky60, which are all connected and semi-indecipherable to me.  I just read on Facebook that the whole trio is shutting down, which is a shame because they’re weird and I like that.  We pushed our way past crowds up to Sky60, which is a rooftop dance party with a decent view of the city skyline.  

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t enjoy dancing, so I occupied myself with getting us drinks and found myself in a purely utopian situation.  The bartender was pretty awful at her job.  Dozens of people were shoving their way to the bar top to assail her for beverages and she was clearly overwhelmed.  I stood politely waiting my turn, taking note of who arrived before me and after me so as to assert my place in the sequence should the need arise.  Some guys shoved in next to me and demanded some drinks.  The bewildered bartender told them that they would have to wait their turns and that because they were being ass holes it wouldn’t be any time soon.  

It was a nice-person-ocracy.  I received preferential treatment based solely on my understanding smile and manners.  I wrote encouraging remarks on the receipt when I signed it:  “You’re doing a great job!”  I added a smiley face just to emphasize that I wasn’t being sarcastic because in reality she was doing a dreadful job.  Even though this bartender seemed flabbergasted by the receipt printer for a solid 5 minutes at one point, I kept going back to her to have my faith in the worthwhileness of courtesy reaffirmed.  

Next to me, a very skinny guy tried to buy drinks for a girl behind him with no fewer than three declined credit cards.  

For some strange reason, a pack of a half-dozen fat girls kept migrating from this side of the dance floor to that side of the dance floor.  Unable to repeatedly part like the Red Sea for them, they shoved their way past us like linebackers and I wasn’t drunk enough that it didn’t annoy me thoroughly.  I contemplated rallying the troops for a game of Red Rover in which we held our ground against the migratory girls.  More comically, I toyed with the idea of twerking on them each time they walked past until they decided to take an alternate route.  

One of my girlfriend’s co-workers apologized to me for buying her so many drinks as we left the bar.  She was staggering forward in front of us as we neared the stairwell.  “So long as she doesn’t fall down the stairs, I won’t hold it against you!” I joked approximately twenty seconds before she twisted her ankle on the third step from the bottom.  

There’s a small cafe that sells pizza by the slice at the base of the stairwell.  It gets mobbed with drunk people around 2 AM.  We joined the line to grab a slice, hoping to stave off the nausea portion of tomorrow’s hangover with tonight’s junk food.  I bought her a slice of cheese, for myself, a slice of pepperoni and sausage.  It came out to like $7 somehow.  The pizza was terrible.  It was like a New York style Totino’s pizza that was over-microwaved and then left out to get cold.  This place stayed in business not because of the quality product that it provided, but sheerly based on its proximity to inebriated people.  Why?  Why would you want to own such a shitty business?  How could you aspire to mediocrity?  They would have been better off ordering Domino’s and selling it by the slice.  I couldn’t stave off the annoyance.  I’ve made homemade pizza without any clear idea of what I was doing and it came out 100x better than these crappy slices.  

I handed my girlfriend her slice, pulled out my phone to call for an Uber, and then turned back around seconds later to find that she had already somehow misplaced her pizza.  

It was a dark and stormy night…

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It was a dark and stormy night.  Wind carried the torrential downpour sideways in relentless sheets.  

And I was out delivering pizzas despite the fact that I couldn’t see ten feet in front of my face.

I was forced to trust the GPS with its insistence that I was on the correct road.  I drove past town home after town home, connected to each other in stretches of four and identical except for the address number that was no longer visible through the storm.

The buildings were shaped strangely.  It wasn’t a problem for residents, who undoubtedly just parked in their garage and entered their homes that way.  For the pizza guy, however, the layout of these apartments was a major complication.  The “front door” was on the backside of the building, facing 180 degrees away from the road and garages.

There was no pulling around the building.  To get to these doors, one has to walk on a quaint little stepping stone pathway between one block of town homes and the next.  For every intentional pathway there was a corresponding untrodden route, wild with bushes and shrubbery (probably well landscaped and pretty when viewed outside of the squall).  Unable to tell the difference between paved paths and flowerbeds in the inclement weather, I unwillingly opted to trudge through the underbrush rather than taking the easy way.

Running didn’t make a single bit of difference in how drenched I was as I barreled through plants and branches that lashed out at me in the wind.  When I emerged from what felt like a vengeful rainforst, I saw them:

Three teenagers passing a bottle of liquor.

They nearly jumped out of their damned skins at the emergence of a drenched, angry looking guy spouting profanity from a bush that they knew wasn’t intended to be traversed.

Hopefully one of them has a popular blog where they recounted this story from their point of view.  My perspective was frustrating, but their’s was probably hilarious.

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.

Please Don’t Tell the Rubber Vagina Story Again – The Enlightened People who Make your Pizza

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Disclaimer:

Before I recount a moment in which I proudly kept my mouth shut in order to maintain a professional working relationship, I have to lay out some backstory on where I work.

I deliver pizzas for a major, international franchise.  My co-workers are a melting pot of college grads, teenagers, people having trouble living up to their potential, and of course some people who are a few nuggets short of a Happy Meal.  Needless to say, such diversity lends itself to some grade-A minimum wage banter.  

The purpose of this story is not to mock any of my co-workers.  On a good day, they’re really fine folks.  Even on a bad day, they’re no more screwed up than the rest of the population.  I’m just venting some things that would have been impolite to say aloud at work.

Despite that uniform disclaimer for this series of posts, I’m about to mock one of my co-workers just a little bit here.  I’ll save you the trouble of guessing which of the above stated categories this guy falls into by saying that he isn’t the brightest crayon in the shed.

I treat this co-worker with the same spectrum of courtesy as everybody else in our little pizza hell.  Depending on how I feel about what an individual is saying, I put in x amount of effort into appearing interested.  This is more passive-aggressive than it is effective, because most people that tell you every inane detail about their day are too wrapped up in telling you every inane detail about their day to realize that you aren’t listening.

At this point in these posts, I typically paraphrase an exchange that took place between myself and/or other employees, but this guy has turned rambling into an art form and if I try to craft his words into a semi-coherent conversation I think my head will explode.

The gist is this:  He left school early because he was confused by his classes and it made him frustrated.  He’s happy to be taking classes because it’s helping him meet girls.  He met a girl who works at Victoria’s Secret, a head shop, but not Pipe Dreams, another one that he couldn’t remember the name of, and she takes like 5 classes a semester.  Pipe Dreams is the one on 17-92 with the tortoises in pins that you can see from the road and the sign about the smoking monkey.  He was in there the other day and a lady was showing him a rubber vagina.  They also sell sex toys and lingerie.  She kept encouraging him to touch it but he thought it was weird but then he eventually gave in and stuck his finger in it.  It was modeled after a porn star.

Imagine sitting through a story that starts with trouble in math class and ends with fingering a rubber vagina.

But it gets worse.

The other co-worker who was standing next to me waited until he walked away to tell me that she has heard that exact story four times in the past week.  He forgets that he told her already and goes into it again.  That’s when he isn’t telling another tale that starts at Point A, far away in “Not-Related-To-The-Rubber-Vagina-Storyville,” and yet still manages to end with his finger in a damn sex toy.

Stories are one sided conversations.  They can be pure hell.

The morals of the story are the following:

  1. Nobody likes that person who tells the same story over and over again.
  2. If you aren’t sure if you have already told the story or not yet, play it safe and shut up.
  3. If that isn’t possible and you absolutely must tell the story just in case the entire world hasn’t yet heard about it and yes it really is that good, then test the waters by providing a cryptic one-line description or title.  “Did I tell you about the rubber vagina I found myself in the other day?”  “Sorry, but I don’t remember whether or not I already told you about what I was peer pressured into sticking my finger into the other day.  Was that you or someone else?”
  4. You could also think of the story as a blog post and give it an intriguing title.  What would you title it to get someone to click?  If you tell the story well enough, not only will people sit through it again, but they will also call over their friends who haven’t heard it yet so that you can share the good news with everyone they know.
  5. Or you could go with the Friends format:  “Did I tell you The One With the Rubber Vagina?”

I guess the driving factor in whether or not the story is worthwhile is how well you tell it.  That’s why I’m writing about all of this stuff, rather than gathering strangers around the campfire and doing it with spoken word.  When I try to tell these stories aloud, I stammer, forget important details, spill my beer, get sidetracked with another story, skip the most crucial plot detail, or flat out stop listening to myself (which makes me devolve into guttural grunts and bizarre babbles like I’m at the center of a demonic possession movie).  It takes a word processor for me to weave you an epic with a beginning, middle, and end.

The Enlightened People who Make your Pizza: The True Meaning of Christmas

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 I know it’s several days too late for a Christmas post, but this delves into deeper waters so I’m going through with it anyway.

Disclaimer:

Before I recount a moment in which I proudly kept my mouth shut in order to maintain a pair of professional working relationships, I have to lay out some backstory on where I work.

I deliver pizzas for a major, international franchise.  My co-workers are a melting pot of college grads, teenagers, people having trouble living up to their potential, and of course some people who are a few nuggets short of a Happy Meal.  Needless to say, such diversity lends itself to some grade-A minimum wage banter.  

The purpose of this story is not to mock any of my co-workers.  On a good day, they’re really fine folks.  Even on a bad day, they’re no more screwed up than the rest of the population.  I’m just venting some things that would have been impolite to say aloud at work.

On a hectic night, I returned to the store after a delivery.  I followed the same routine as always:  check back in at the computer, drop cash in the box, check back out at the computer, bag up deliveries and go.

Throughout the process, however, I couldn’t help but overhear a profound debate happening between two of my co-workers as they tidied up the store between in-store duties.

I will paraphrase.

Co-Worker A:  It’s a Christian holiday!

Co-Worker B:  No, Christmas is based on a pagan seasonal holiday!

Co-Worker A:  Pagan?!  I don’t even know what that means, but there’s no way that it existed before Christianity!

Co-Worker B:  You need to just stop talking right now.  You’re embarrassing yourself.

A grasp of history can make or break your unnecessary religious argument.

If you are shocked that Co-Worker A was offended by that last part, you probably don’t have very good people skills.

I wanted to lunge into the conversation because I think stuff like this is super awesome, but I already had one foot out the door so I didn’t have enough time to say something that I probably would have regretted.

After work that night, I told my beautiful girlfriend about the exchange and she asked if I knew the right answer on the debate.  I think I used to, but it’s long forgotten now.  She explained to me that the church shifted Jesus’s Birthday to closely align with pagan holidays celebrating the Winter Solstice so as to “Christianize” something that other religions were already doing.  Their thought process:  “BOOM!  We just tricked you into celebrating the birth of our Messiah!”  (My girlfriend didn’t say that part.  I just made it up.)

The specifics interested me far less than the general idea of people finding themselves unexpectedly embroiled in a religious debate.  Being from a family with more intense religious views than my own, I’ve decided that there are only three times when people change/abandon their faith:

  1. Over a very long, tumultuous inner-battle of debating the logic and benefit of what they believe.
  2. When they want to.
  3. Never.

Some people will never change another person's mind about religion.  This is something we should all strive towards.

Seeing as how there are a lot of people plugged into this internet thing, I’m sure someone out there can cite an example of one pizza store employee changing another’s mind about their religion.  That being said, I’m sure that specific incident would still fall under one of the broader categories above.  Needless to say, my co-workers didn’t change any hearts or minds that evening.

This brings me to a bigger point:  Who cares?  We all seem to agree that Christmas is about giving gifts to each other.  If someone gives you a present because Baby Jesus, will you throw that present on the ground and spit on it because you are an atheist?  If you buy gifts because you support consumerism, will you not bother with the Christians on your shopping list?  If you’re celebrating the days getting longer and the nights getting shorter, do you really care what a person handing you a present believes?

No matter the motivation for someone's generosity, accept it and high five them.

It’s a season of giving and tolerance.  If you disagree with that, then just celebrate it as a season of being nice to people you don’t like.

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by shutting up when you don't have anything nice to say.