Fitfy:  fin

Well, it’s happened…my odometer has rolled over.  Today is the start of my sixth decade of good fortune and ridiculousness that I’ve trademarked as my life.

While I don’t know what my fifties will bring to me, I spent last year course correcting myself after reflecting back on my first five decades during the timeframe between the holiday and my birthday.  Realizing I’d spent too much time investing in things I can lose – job, relationships and wealth – with little control at the end of the day, I committed to spending the year brushing up my favorite human.

Or, who I realized should have been my favorite human and really wasn’t.

I don’t want to dwell on the pursuit/reward cycle I’d caught myself in, unawares.  I wasn’t happy to call myself on being trapped in that unfulfillingso-called lifecycle.  I can acknowledge that I slipped innocently enough into it, having ended a relationship, slogged through career transitions, physical injuries and retethered my base of operations back in my fabulous hometown of Portland, OR over the prior five years.

But it was time to get back to a life lived with a more massive modicum of intent.

Resetting lifestyle and fitness expectations from the far outdated ideals, habits and even rituals of my renegade bachelor 30s and 40s and find an equanimity with those expectations that would provide me emotional and physical stability in this late-middling part of my life.

Fitfy.

I’d reached late December feeling accomplished, having deconstructed a lot of the fitness patterns that led to repetitive injuries.  How boring those quickly become.  Having healed up and sustained, I had found a fairly functional regimen that was private, not going to the gym was providing a sense of accomplishment vis-a-vis home workouts and stair running.

Diet was a part of that accomplishment, plenty of treat-eating and reasonably balanced meals of salads, grains and protein.  Nowhere perfect or sufficiently sustained to declare victory, but definitely a good tragectory.

I should have known that the ingrown toenail I complained about at the start of the year was just a harbinger of obstacles to come.

I awoke one day after that had cleared itself with a tender and throbbing big toe.  Walking was a less than graceful exercise in ambulatory necessity.

I assumed I had kicked my table the prior night on a hazy trip to the head.  I’m not quite familiar enough with my new digs to make my usual nightly zombie bathroom walk without running into something.

Each way.

Getting through my 6-8 miles of daily walking at work was struggle enough, stairs were out.  At least for the week.

This past and final week started with me uneating at 4 am on my way to the MAX stop on my way to work.  Barfing on the streets of Old Town very early on a Sunday morning – or very late on a Saturday night – like a drunk white girl.  How humiliating.

Plus, I missed a day of work.

Two days of eating anything other than crackers and soda water basically had emotionally landed me here

Of course, I mention it to my substitute needle man that week.  

The disturbance in my gut.

My idiomatic toe injury.

Of course, I’m typical, snarky Xtopher when I tell her.

“I dunno.  I’ve got, like gout or something.”

“That does look a bit like gout, you should talk to your PCP about it”, she says, all too chipperly.

I miss my regular Needle Man.

I email my PCP when I get out of the office and he replies with the doctor-equivalent of, “Nah”.  You could probably interpret a fairly accurate amount of disdain for eastern medicine in his reply, but at least it’s back to being just another unconfirmed trauma in my life.

Plus, a couple days later and acupuncture has done its hoodoo magic and I’m back to 85-90% big toe function.

But I’m not self-soothing with junk food and booze like I had previously when injured.  That’s a good outcome for a year of inwardly focused intentions.  My injured physical self wasn’t adversely affecting my mental self.  

I was just injured, not physically depressed, and that injury wasn’t bleeding into my mental state.  

I’m still about 10 lbs heavier than I want to be, but it’s no longer driving me to punish myself.  And during the last couple of physically busted up weeks, I’ve legitimately held steady at the same weight.

That’s actually a fine place to set off on this fresh year and decade.

Imperfectly satisfied.

Who really saw that coming?  

Fitfy:  “Cheers, bitches.” <dumbbell drop>

Fitfy:  fin

Gay-bonics

I’ve been sitting on this draft for about 18 months.  With the clock winding down on the applicability of the adjective “early” to my grumpy, old man shtick, I figure I better either throw this out there or abandon it forever.

I’m no quitter.

In addition to being a grumpy, old man, I’ve also been described as a Grammar Nazi.

Me.

With my ellipses abuse and run on sentences.

That’s just how stupid people can be.  Essentially, I believe it’s all good natured fun because I have such a defined reaction to people using words like “aks” and “Warshington”.  (Sorry, Mom).  Instead of  acknowledging that those aren’t words and – oh, I don’t know – attempting to use the correct pronunciation, I’m the Grammar Nazi.

Sidebar:  I went to diction classes after school when I was young because of a speech impediment.  My Rs came out as Ws.  

Pretty awful when I pronounced my own name as Cwis or Cwistofuh.

But my parents cared enough to make sure I didn’t go through life sounding unnecessarily stupid.  But yet I’m the Grammar Nazi.

Did I mention this class was run by nuns?  In the 70s?  There were motivational rulers involved.

So, yeah…my grumpiness came early.

But on those same lines, my subculture does some shit that really bugs me.  It’s the polar opposite of what my parents tried to spare me, I think.  My people are dumbing themselves down and calling it cool.

Not, it is.

I call this Gaybonics.

I’m not saying gays made each of these so-called words up.  But once the gays got hold of them, it was off to the races and suddenly you can’t get away from them.

Don’t get me wrong, in my day – no, wait, I can do better.  When I was young we gays weren’t exactly the paradigm of maturity.  We called each other “Mary” and “Queen”.  But we didn’t make up words to differentiate ourselves.

So let’s see what exercises in nails on a chalkboard that today’s gays are committing, shall we?

Qween.

I don’t know.  I really don’t.  It’s like they have to re-reappreopriate this word from the earlier generation of gays.  What next?  Need to reboot Stonewall?  I know, history is so dated.

Yaaaas.


I’m a complex creature.  I hate this word and love this meme.

The kid reminds me of my juvenile self.

I think that it’s funny, I use it in texts and comments as shorthand for my enthusiastic agreement for something.

It.

Should.

Never.

Be.

Spoken.

I overhear gays talking and instead of “uh huh” and “mm hmmm” as the lazy active listening cues that accompany head gestures, I hear varying degrees of this fucking word. 

So, my dinner date the other night was fine.

Yaaas.

But then at the end, the check came and we both just sat there.

Oh, gurl, uh-uh.

And I’m just thinking, like he invited me.

Yaaaas.  Right?

But he’s not treating, and I’m all…WTF?

Yaaaaas.

(It’s approaching orgasm intensity at this point)

So I reached for it and then he offers to split it!  And I’m all thinking, I could have taken myself out to dinner with a good book and not have to listen to your boring ass for an hour!  

Yaaaaaaaas, Qween.  Tell it!

So, we split it.

Well, at least you didn’t have to put out.

I didn’t have to.  But just cuz he’s stingy doesn’t mean I have to be.

Yaaaas, gurl.  You do you.

It’s like we’ve all become caricatures of drag queens versus having our own personalities.

Extra.

Over the top.  Too much.  Way to much.

Really?  From gays.

How do we say this about one another (I don’t) when we collectively embrace a coded – yet juvenile – language of our own?

Irony, we are all extra.  Why we must use it perjoratively against one another…well, it doesn’t boggle my mind, unfortunately.  It’s the old “tear another down to build yourself up” mentality.

Very mature.

Of course, most of the crap we make up has to do with sex.  We’re like OCD when it comes to labeling one another.  If only that tendency to label enabled us being organized enough to have our own shit actually together.

Some of these I actually think are cute or quirky in a fun way,  Others, not so much.  The ones I really don’t enjoy tend to be the ones that infantillize – is that a word? – sex.  My $.02, if you can’t say it like an adult, maybe don’t do it…you’ll only end up getting hurt or – more likely – hurting someone else.

(Mom, you might want to skip over this part…not sure of the depth of detail yet, fair warning)

Zaddy.

I hear this word and cringe.  

Outwardly.

Gays didn’t create nor did they sexualize Daddy, and I’m not crazy about it.  But Zaddy is gaybonic for someone with all the characteristics of a Daddy, minus the age.

Ok, first of all, having a Daddy boyfriend – regardless of the gay/straight filter – connotes you need to be taken care of, most likely financially.  As a man of a certain age, I think that should be a temporary situation and that the younger person in this scenario should be working toward becoming a fully functional member of society who happens to have an older boyfriend.

Let’s call that Why I’m Single #44.

So this Zaddy person is likely a peer.  Getting this straight, your shit isn’t together enough to the point you need the guidance of a sexual parent.  It is not at all hard to believe you’ll give someone from your peer group responsibility for your well-being.

When I cringe at this word, I also mentally make a note to never accept this person’s judgment as reasonable.

Boi.

Someone who usually needs a Daddy but settles for a Zaddy.  Someone who will probably still be looking for a Daddy when he’s my age.

When I was young, we called bois “twinks”.  The worst thing that could happen to a twink was to still be a twink at 29.  

God forbid.

Nevertheless, we handled these situations with the correct verbal and public pergatory…by calling them twunks or twonks.  These two words are basically an onomatopoeia for an expired twink.

While we are kinda on the topic of baby talking sex – ok, we were a paragraph or two ago, just go with it – there’s a lot of probably misogynistic in origin words for female body parts.  Gays have collectively embraced terms like “man pussy” and “mangina” in reference to their ass.  

This is not hot.

No, Paris.  It’s nawt.

Someone please explain to me how two gay men referring to a mangina is sexy sex talk?  It’s kind of not sexy to bring up a bastardized version of the opposite sex’s sexual organ in any manner during a homosexual sexual encounter, isn’t it?

Am I somehow out of touch with hot bedroom talk?

I have a hard time envisioning lesbians talking about their “lady boners” in any sexualized manner.

These words make us frivolous…and there’s a time and a place for that talk.  I just don’t like it to be the bedroom.  Let’s play like adults, boys.

Cake.

As much as I bemoan the existence and usage of these words…I don’t loathe them all.  Some of them I even find cute.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I find cake cute…but when I hear it, I don’t die a little more inside.  My self-analysis is that I give it a pass because it refers to something I envy:  namely, a shapely butt.

Now, when I was young…we called this shapely bum a bubble butt.  Descriptive, but not codifying the subject.  Now, heaven forbid anyone talk about an erogenous part of the body like an adult, so we have cake. 

It does make openly discussing analingus a little less daunting, but it’s my birthday weekend and I’m going to be old…so help me god, if I get confused about the concept of birthday cake and end up in bed with baked goods – well, I mean, that doesn’t actually sound too bad.

THOT

This is gay-speak for That Hottie Over There.  Hearing two people use this word in a gay bar is disorienting.  A couple of years ago, I heard it so many times over the course of one beer that I momentarily thought I’d wandered into a smart gay bar.

Alas.

Now when I hear it, I kind of want to chat the subject up just to show these all talk kids how the art of conversation works.

Thirsty.

And…we’re back to perjorative language.

Maybe I could just not be so grumpy.

Possibly.

Maybe others could just not be such judgy bitches.

It’s truly a toss up.

Not sure it’s easier for me to be less grumpy or to change all of gay culture.

So, this translates to desperate in normal American vernacular.  I’m not saying it’s not a part of reality, some people are desperate.  

At least they know what they want.

My favorite occurrence of this is when I see someone use it in the same conversation that they personally reference a THOT.

So rewarding.

Thicc.

Some of the words gays make up and use at one another are mean.  Just mean.  Thicc is a standout compliment is the made up gay vernacular.

When someone has a solid core, six pack abs, defined obliques – crassly referred to as cum gutters – and the like versus a wasp-like 28″ twink waist, they are thicc.  Ditto tree trunk like thighs.  Thicc.

Nice to know we can be nice to each other on occasion.

But, in true bitchy qween style, we’ve misspelled it to drive home the point that anyone that spends that much time on their physique has a box of rocks between their ears.  It’s my supposition, at any rate.  I was, after all, just a bitchy qwueen.  

In less than a day, though, I’ll be a legit grumpy old man.  Since the 80s and 90s wiped out the better part of a couple generations of potentially old gays – and since gays over 40 are pretty much invisible anyway – we haven’t gotten around to creating a gaybonics word to describe what I’ll be tomorrow.

Wait until the world gets a dose of me.  

Muahahaha.

Gay-bonics

Dating Into Oblivion, ep1

Well, this little endeavor is off to a great start.  I hope you all enjoy this as much as I am so far.

To recap: my goal is to throw $20 at a date once a month and see what happens.

What could possibly go wrong?

It’s like I threw a party and no one came.

Don’t read too much into that last word.

And here’s the deal, I could see throwing a party and maybe no one shows up.

Once.

But today was the 4th time it’s happened.  Technically, the 3rd and 4th time.  That’s how quickly my faith collapsed inward, I scheduled two dates in one afternoon.

But it wasn’t always so grim.

It started off much worse.

My first attempt crept on me.  I went into a bar after seeing a movie one afternoon early this month.  

The bartender hit on me.

Flattering.  It wasn’t the first time, either, and it was appreciated.  But I didn’t dwell on the prior instance and just enjoyed the moment.  He went to the bother of finding me on the Facebook Messenger later that night…we aren’t friends on the Facebook, so I decided to be impressed by the minimal effort that required.

I really do have the bar set low.  Like, ground level.  It’s left me quite dumbstruck how hard guys make clearing a low bar look.

So, me and the bartender are talking about meeting up and I mention how interested I’d been in dating him since the first time I met him.

He goes silent-er.  Instead of multiple daily messages, it’s a response every other day and he’s steered clear of actually committing to a date/time.  Reading between the lines, I dial it back and say that if he’s looking for casual, it’s not really my thing but I’d give it a second thought with him.

Then it hits me.

“Oh my GOD.  You’re still MARRIED, aren’t you?!?”

The first time I met him, I’d been sitting at the bar at Hobo’s talking to Everybody’s Uncle Dave.  His group walks in and he tracks me as he walks by and bee lines it for the bathroom.  As is my usual lot in life, his friends pick the barstools immediately next to mine on this 40 foot long bar.

When he comes out of the can, instead of sitting on the other side of his friends, he hops into my lap.

He’s significantly attractive, so I cannot care.  He gives me his number quick and says we should get together.  

As I’m listening, it becomes obvious that this is his Stag Party and he’s getting friggin’ married.

Picture me standing up, him sliding onto his adorable butt on the ground and me leaving, because I think that’s what actually happened.

So, the second time around was about as elegant…he never replied.

Shake it off, Galby.

The second attempt moved from real life to something less analog, but still kinda quaint in the age of apps.  I’ve kept one asocial media website profile active for the last forever.

I was on said site and sent off a few smiles.  I keep it light, usually.  Im an older guy hitting on younger guys, if they don’t want to engage, I take the hint.

A nice looking guy bothered to strike up a conversation.  His profile had several private pics, which he kept locked.  I appreciated this, since if it’s meant to be something I see, it’ll be in person.  So many of these gay-tards (Chrisism) think they have no value past their sexual use that I usually know what someone’s junk looks like before I know their name…if I ever even get to know their name.

We talked for about ten days, discussing getting together and setting a date to meet.

This being my life, he cancelled because he got a job interview.  Priorities.  I get it.

Suddenly, his pics are unlocked.

I explain that I don’t want nor do I expect to see them and why.  Then he says he feels bad…but doesn’t lock them.

Several days go by.

I don’t visit the site often, but get an email every day that I have mail waiting.

Finally, I log in to make sure I didn’t miss something.

No mail.

And his pics are still open.  Since it looks like he’s never going to talk to me again – so dramatic – I take a look to see if his 28 year old physique matches his cute mug.

MY EYES!

It’s like the very reason I don’t have boudoir pics.  On a guy that has about 40% less reason to excuse said reason.

Why?!?  No, not “why?”  I think I’m actually jealous that this guy is so comfortable in his skin to have these pics.

My mind is fairly boggled.

But, I do never hear from him again.

Attempts three and four happened concurrently.  It wasn’t anything impressive or typically Portland, like a couple trying to date me.  These two opportunities simply presented about the same time.

Me, being old and prone to confusion, asked them both out on the same day, today…which happens to be my Saturday.

Attempt three is someone who responded to a personal ad I placed.  Talk about old school.  He replied, included a face pic and a couple unsolicited and unexpected but not unwelcome – see above – body pics.  It’s ok, technically, since his name was in his email address.

He seemed nice and charming and genuine.  We set up a date to meet – today – which happens to be both our day off.  His only day off since he works full time and is a student.

Shut up, he’s 38.

My red flags are two:

He works nights, I work days.  We might only have one day per week to get to know each other.  

My second hesitation was that he’s from Mexico.

Hey, it can be a turn on and red flag at the same time!

My concern is that with English being his second language and so much of my persona being…snarkiness, a lot can get lost in translation,

I was impressed that he followed up to confirm this morning at 8:30.  I had an acupuncture appointment at 8:15, but replied at 9:30 when I got out.  

“Just give me a when and a where and I’m there”, I say.

At one o’clock, I’m still waiting.

I go scrolling through the Craigslist, killing time.  Also, maybe I need to be looking for February’s no-show.

I mean, date.

I click on an af that sounds up my alley.

There’s a few pics I recognize.

“Looking for today”…posted seven hours ago.

I’m having trouble getting my mind around someone who places this ad, emails me to confirm our date an hour later and then goes silent on me.

Obviously, he’s getting laid.

Only possible conclusion, right?  Setting aside my conviction that if he’s got…well, nevermind.  The point is, I call him on it.

He responds within minutes.

Full stop.  I’ve waited about four hours for you to give me a when and a where and when I tell you, “I get it, it’s your only day off for the week.  Take care of business” you suddenly have all the time in the world to respond?

Unfortunately, he chose to respond with, “You know how flakey gay guys are.  But I really want to see you!”

Yes, I do know how flakey gay guys are.  And I am not able to reconcile how four hours goes by without you picking a fucking time and coffee house while seven minutes elapsed between my j’accuse moment to his sudden reply.

Which brings us to my 4th attempt. 

This is a cute kid that I didn’t meet a couple of years ago when I moved back to town. 

I don’t drive + he lives in Vantucky = we never met.

But, we were already connected on the Facebook and when I joined the instagram last year, he was a suggested follow.  So, now there’s that.

Which is where I got into trouble.

But before that, last year, he got into a wreck that left him laid up for quite a while.  Long enough that he lost his entry level job at a quick serve restaurant and I’d been following his job search via status updates for a while.

I’m always – literally, if you know someone looking in Portland, OR let me know – hiring, so since we didn’t date I felt absolutely no awkwardness about extending an opportunity his way.

He

Never

Availed

Himself

Oh, well.

I thought about following up, but do I really want an employee I had to chase down to apply working for me?

No.

No, I don’t.

Some of the ones that voluntarily applied are enough of a probl…challenge.

So, I let it lie.

Then last week, we got into a DM on the Instagram that ended in him giving me his number.

We move to text and go at it like teenagers for a few days.  I can tell he’s no conversationalist, but get the vibe that he wants me to ask him out.

I do.

Thursday evening, about 6 or 7?

Sure.

I check in last night with a text, a 24 hour confirmation and hear nothing.

That was 22 hours ago and I don’t know if my thoughts are along the “Fucking millennials” or “Fucking fags” line.

Still…fucking something.

I do know that after a couple of years of not knowing him in real life, I feel as if I know what he wants or needs better than hizownself does.

He’s a Lost Boy.  That doesn’t make him a bad person, just lost.  Nothing more, nothing less.  But with potential in both directions, depending on whether he pulls his head out of his ass sooner, later or never.

I can say that my prior inclination to “raise” – for lack of a better word – a younger gay into a man is…not gone, but certainly sublimated.  I think it’s the job of a partner to help their SO become a better and better version of themselves.  I’m just aware that not every cute guy I come across with his act lying in shambles around his ankles isn’t automatically a perfect fit for me.

That’s a good realization.

There you have it. Episode 1 of Dating Into Oblivion.  Meanwhile, I’ve saved $80.  I’ve also enjoyed two and a half beers at Big Legrowlski while tapping this out.

And flirted with a probably straight guy over sci-if books.  So there’s that.

In theory, I’m quite an attractive option.

In reality…50 (minus 80-ish hours) and single, people.

Dating Into Oblivion, ep1

The First Time I Got Out Of Retail

At some point in their careers, everyone that works in retail will say something like, “I gotta get out of retail”…some actually do.  I’ve unsuccessfully done so three times.

The first time was after we moved to California and I started living on my own way down in the LBC.  I ended up working nights at this little hospital just up the way from John Wayne Airport named Hoag.  Hoag was kinda famous for being the place that John Wayne actually kicked it while being treated for cancer.

Sorry.  The Cancer.

I was basically an orderly, but I worked in the OR, preparing rooms for the morning surgeries.  Basically, my day started at 11 pm with cleaning and staging the rooms with the tools and machines required for the first surgeries and ended at 7 am after I transported said surgical patients to the operating room.

Unless there was a referral from the ER, I had a span of hours where there was nothing to do.  I could read, watch TV…even nap.  As long as everything was ready for the morning and someone was there, just in case.

This is when I decided Justin Case would be a good porn name.  It was about 1993, which could actually be around the time the kid who took that name for his eventual porn name was born.

<sigh>

So old…

Anyway, the night crew was small:  two nurses in charge and then three orderlies.  There were always three of us scheduled, but there were four on the team in order to make that happen.  The two supervising nurses would trade weekends off and then take weeknights on the alternate weeks.

The night shift cast of characters was pretty diverse, at least personality-wise.

When I started, Mother Mary was the senior nurse and kind of the Cool Mom type.  Everyone’s favorite, including the few doctors we saw.  She had grown children of her own, and treated us orderlies as her placebo kids.

The other nurse in charge when I started was Back Bay.  She was a pretty bitter old gal.  I mean, a no nonsense type of woman. Boy, was she in the wrong place and on the wrong shift.  I call her Back Bay, because she’d moved to SoCal from Boston after her husband divorced her.  While she may have run as far across the country as possible, her mind never really left Boston.  It was a nightly activity to mark how long into a shift she could go without nostalgically bringing the glorious Back Bay up.

Back Bay had one of those faces that was simultaneously lost and enraged. Not a Resting Bitch Face kind of situation, because her features were usually hyper animated…no resting involved in Back Bay’s face.

She had a shock of chin length white hair that was usually tucked up under her blue surgical cap and even though she was a big woman, moved with an intensity of purpose that told you that this wasn’t a country club.  That rarely got her into trouble, except when she found herself moving quicker than a groggy doctor, woken after midnight for an emergency procedure.  Good nurses anticipate a surgeon’s needs and are ready for it.  Bad doctors fail to realize this is what’s happening when they aren’t firing on all cylinders and bitch out the nurse.

This happened a few times.  While I felt bad for Back Bay, I also realized the karma at work here since she pretty regularly told us orderlies how we failed to meet her expectations.  When this happened to me, I was usually equally disappointed, since I usually expected my good old self to avoid her path of travel, thereby sparing myself her therapeutic abuse.

What I liked about Back Bay getting bitched out by a surgeon was the make up candy and goodies they sent to her afterward – which she shared with us for the same reasons.  Although her claim was that her waistline didn’t need it.  One of my fellow orderlies – Steve, the funny nerd – commented once under his breath after hearing this “Your ass line sure needs it even less!” which cracked me up and put me in her crosshairs for the night.

For her part, Mother Mary once famously came out of the lounge with a bunch of those little brown paper cups that candy sits in taped to her ass and hips.  Her bottom looked like a float.  She just putzed around the charge desk muttering to no one how she couldn’t eat any of the candy in the lounge because it goes right to her hips.  We were all dying.  Her deadpan delivery was amazing.  Back Bay was even laughing at the show, finally chasing Mother Mary around the corridors of the OR trying to swat the wrappers off of her.

At least she was a good sport when it came time for payback.

My least favorite Back Bay story was probably the most memorable, if only for how surreal it was in the moment.  It was a late night emergency and I was pushing the patient from Holding into the OR.  For her part – because no one was ever fast enough – Back Bay was pull-steering the gurney from the front left corner.

Did I mention that one of our duties at night was to mop the entire place?

I only mention it now, since as I was pushing the gurney and Back Bay helped me by pulling it forward and steering the foot of the gurney around a corner, I saw these two blue booties appear in front of Back Bay’s face.  That registered as weird to me and I could tell from her profile that Back Bay thought so, too.

I’m wondering whose feet those were and why they were in Back Bay’s face and noticing that Back Bay’s eyes were wide open and her mouth was making a perfect “o”.

Then there were just the feet.  Back Bay had ducked out of the way.

When the feet disappeared, leaving two downward blue streaks in their place, I finally caught up with the slow motion scene unfolding before me.

Back Bay had hit a wet spot on the floor and somehow in overcorrecting and trying to remain upright, her feet had flown forward out from under her and she went down

Hard.

And that was pretty much the end of Back Bay.  Her broken elbow kept her laid up until after I had returned to retail.

She was replaced by a young up and coming nurse.  Nothing super remarkable about my time working with her, since it was fairly short.  But I remember her most for her eyes.

Specifically how animated they were when the rest of her face was obscured by a surgical mask and hair covering.  She’d be assisting during a procedure – ok, here’s one in particular – it was an emergency appendectomy.  It’s the middle of the night and we get everything done for the next day only to find out the ER is sending us a patient.

We reset the room for an appy and go get the patient.

Eyes is assisting, the rhythm of the procedure is all normal.

Move the patient onto the operating table, anesthesiologist starts his shtick, doctor and nurse scrub in.  

Slice.

Dice.

What have you.

I head into the room to start clearing the stuff that’s been set aside and I see Eyes kind of standing still looking from a specimen container to the doctor and back again several times in a row.  After the surgery is done, I’m helping her move the patient to recovery and ask her what gives.

She doesn’t answer me directly, but says she’ll tell me back in the suite.  When we get the patient settled, we head Back to the OR and she takes me to the labcart outside the suite.  She pulls the jar and opens it, revealing an appendix that even I recognize as a healthy pink tissue specimen.

I basically do the same thing to her that she did to the doctor.

“The fuck?” I say.

She goes to tell me that she shouldn’t let it bug her, it happens all the time; doctors have insurance to pay or tuition for their kids or need a new sports car.

“Or it’s Christmastime”, I say.

It was.

So, that’s bullshit.  But I guess it happens.

But as long as I am on the topics of out of the ordinary events – ie: emergency surgeries – try these on for size.

You know how people eat sunflower seeds by cracking the shell in their teeth and then sucking out the seed and spitting out the shell?  

Yeah, that’s too much effort for me, so I’d just suck the salt off the shell and then start chewing.  That’s how I ate them since I was a kid…much to the dismay of everyone who witnessed this.

Well, one night I’m sent out to the ER to pick up an emergency patient with a bowel obstruction.  They go into the guy’s abdomen and start pulling out handfuls of sunflower shells from his gut.  I’m watching this thinking, How the hell many sunflower seeds did this guy eat?!?”

I had the same thought again when they closed him up and then put his feet in stirrups and basically did a D&C on his butt.  I was all, “Thank god his mom was upstairs to call 911 for him…”

Speaking of butts, do you know what a rectal shelf is?  Yeah, I’m kind of an expert in the area and I’m a bit fuzzy on the topic of a rectal shelf.

But(t), the second time I picked a guy up in the ER for an emergency procedure, I knew exactly what we had on our hands: foreign object.

More to the point, a lost foreign object.

I’d seen this before and figured out the deal when I saw a guy waiting for the patient outside of recovery.

When the second guy looks back at me over his shoulder and lisped, “My girlfriend did it”, I rolled my eyes so far that I think I sprained them.  I trust Mother Mary like crazy.  But to this day, I’m still not sure that there was a legitimate reason she admitted the guy that night.  I’d told her what he said and she laughed – it was the early 90s and people were still making jokes about the Richard Gere urban legend.  When I dropped the guy off at his room, I was still wondering if we were really just waiting for the batteries to die.

…and on the subject of dying, in what hospital job wouldn’t you expect to confront some death?

I’ll tell you about my first dead body last.  First, you have to hear about the Fat Guy.  Not because his death was anything surprising or grisly.  No, when I took Fat Guy downstairs, the morgue attendant kept talking about “Bring Fat Albert over here” and “Let’s get Fat Albert” to the point where I felt like I wasn’t getting his point.  Initially, I thought he was being inappropriate, but that didn’t jive with the little I knew of him.  When he looked up at me pointedly, we both realized I had know clue what was going on.

“Oh!  You haven’t met Fat Albert, have you?!?”

Me:  looks at Fat Guy.

Him:  “No, no, no!”, laughing, “Fat Albert is what we call the portable crane we use to move significantly obese patients!”

Me:  nervous laughter – I thought he was funnier before he said that…

Then there was my first Harvest.

Seems like Bros in Orange County were too frequently falling backward over deck railings.

My first Harvest was such a Bro.

A Brain Dead Bro, in this case.  He was an organ donor and his family had signed away permission to do the procedure so that others might live.

I have no idea if this makes pulling the plug easier or harder in the moment for the family of an early 20s guy.

I got to wheel the living cadaver down to the OR.

Check that, the very hot even after a backward fall from three stories up living cadaver.

Such a waste.

I know now that it’s a waste of a life regardless, don’t mind my sharing of an early 20s newly minted gay boy’s inappropriate thoughts. 

So, a Harvest is pretty much exactly what you would think based on the name.  All viable organs are collected.  Some, like the heart, kidneys, liver, etc are taken for immediate use for patients on a transplant list.  Other organs like skin, the corneas and long bones are taken and stored for future needs.

The long bones are what surprised me most.  I guess the marrow is valuable so they take the shaft of the bone – shut up, Diezel – and replace it with broomsticks so the body maintains its integrity for burial.

Gross.

Lastly, there’s the Body Bag Incident, aka: the first dead body I encountered at work.  

It was an emergency heart surgery that ended poorly and it happened on a night where one of us called out sick, so there was just two orderlies on duty.

And it was Wedding Season, so there was another surgery going to repair the hand of a former suitor who had put his hand – fist – through a mirror at the reception.  Seriously, it happened at least once a week for six weeks.

Needless to say, I’m handling the Heart Suite alone.

I jockey the body bag under our dead hero’s body and start zipping, toe to head.  Somehow, I end up leaning over his head to pull the zipper from his chest to close it up.

He exhaled.

Now, I’m pretty sure I would have lost my shit if this happened in broad daylight, let alone 3 am.

I experienced a full on case of the heebies. Then I ducked into the Suitor’s OR to just ask Mother Mary if we were sure-sure my guy was dead before proceeding further.

Her scoff prompted Eyes to invite me out with the gang after work the next morning for their breakfast ritual the first time.

Ok, maybe Mother Mary’s scoff and my overall pallor.

Eggs.

Beer.

Pool.

Sunlight.

There’s a place for a dive bar at 7 am.  I learned that that day.

The First Time I Got Out Of Retail

Minimum Wage

Maximum Whine.

The federal minimum wage, in case you’re out of touch with that stat – and I hope you are, unless you have working aged teens – is $7.25.

Oregon’s is $11.25.

Four entire dollars higher than the federal.

For the moment.

That’s over 50% more than the federal rate.

It was, until July 1, 2017, a measly $9.75.  But thanks to the competitive nature – er, liberal tendencies – of Oregon voters, we passed a law that says “We want to pay a ‘living wage’ for our lower earning workers”…

Just

Like

Seattle

Which I am entirely for.

So, on July 1st until 2022, the Oregon minimum wage will bump up until it hits $14.75.  The smallest bump will be $.50 and the largest – like this past July – will be $1.50.

For some context, retail merit increases tend to be about $.25 for Star Performers.  That’s a whopping $10/week for Full Timers.  So in July, Oregon’s lowest wage earners got a $60/week bump.

Yes, even our gas station attendants.

This affected only six of my employees – most only by pennies – last year.  I feel fortunate to work for a company that – with about 7000 employees in North America – set a standard for itself to pay more than just a minimum wage.

And the associate level jobs are easy!  Even my associates will say that.  

Now, this only affected a half dozen of my staff last July.  This year, when it jumps to $12, it will affect about two dozen of my staff.  That’s half my team!

Later this month, I will start writing annual performance reviews that will go into effect in early April.  The process takes time.  At which point, my best employees will get that $10/week bump for showing up and killing the job description every shift.

Not being tardy frequently.

Not picking and choosing what parts of their job they will deign to perform.

Not refusing to change priorities to meet the needs of the business.

Not forgetting to wear their name tags.

Ok, nevermind…even the associates that do all that petty crap I just listed will likely get a raise.  But the five or six that do actually crush their job expectations will probably get a $.30-.40 raise.

And then, two months later, half of my staff will get a $.50-.75 an hour raise because Oregon voters – myself included – think it’s the right thing to do.

Still…way to steal my limited thunder with that arbitrary timing, Oregon!

But here’s the deal, the people that pull all the crap I listed above – and then some, because everyone likes to be unique – have been bitching up a storm to each other for the last six months.

“We only make minimum wage.  We don’t get paid enough to do all this!”

“All this” basically amounting to:

Be nice to customers.

Build sales by adding on to transactions when possible.

Be in dress code.

Be on time.

Fill your coolers and keep your store tidy.

Rotate perishable stock.

And – as is the case with every retailer I’ve worked for – other duties as assigned by manager.

I’m not kidding, these are the easiest retail jobs I’ve ever hired into.

And it’s like a switch flipped last July and this cancerous attitude of “I don’t get paid enough” started rotting it’s way through my crew.  

The first time I (over) heard it was right after the bump and I almost got whiplash turning to see who was making such a crazy statement.

“We’re only being paid minimum wage…”

I thought to myself, “Bitch, last week you were getting paid $1.50 over minimum wage and you didn’t do your job then.  What’s it gonna take?”  But I kept quiet.

Six months in, I’ve lost about one employee a month seeking greener pastures and if I’ve heard anything directly or indirectly from them, it’s that the grass ain’t greener.  Even the ones that left for minimum wage plus the almighty tip.

Basically, these people are what I call “Happy Being Unhappy”.  I can’t fix what’s broken with their work relationship.  In my opinion, the hardest part about my Sales Associate positions is staving off boredom.

Now, who’d like some irony?

Seriously, I’ve plenty to spare.

Just speak up.

No?

Ok.  I’ll just leave it right here.

We have one store that we collectively refer to as a monster.  There’s probably around 7000 outbound customers around that store every day.  Plus, it’s 3000 square feet.  With no walls, which means that every day, associates have to open a mesh gate around the store and manually place the perimeter fixtures to open it.  The reverse is true of closing the store.

As if potentially helping about a quarter of the entire airport’s outbound traffic and doing 40% of our total volume wasn’t daunting enough.

And we’re budgeted for one Sales Associate per open hour, just like all of our other stores.

The legitimate complaint I hear from my associates here is HELP?!?

But the only way to get more help is to make more sales, right?

Well, we’ve got a great resource for this whole make more sales need.  It’s called Treat Our Troops.  

It’s awesome.

I love it.

There’s a VIP lounge run by the USO for our traveling active and retired service members, so without having to be an airline VIP our service men and women have a place to hang out.

The snacks and drinks are provided by our customers – who prove every week how generous they can be.  The only catch is, they really only know about it if our associates tell them.

And so many won’t.

For whatever reason, they resist this slam dunk opportunity to increase sales and do something really cool while earning the extra hours for coverage that they want.

Whenever I think about it, this is the visual that comes to mind.

Like I said, some of these people must just be happy to be unhappy.  

Well, any of them that managed to solicit fewer of these donations than me last year – during my hour or two a week that I’m on a register – are going to be beside themselves in March when I start administering reviews.

Don’t get me wrong, though, I’ve a handful of folks that do participate.  I call them my Top 5 and I appreciate the hell out of them. Like it or not, they just do it because it’s expected of them.  My number one actually had more dollars in donated items last year than she personally earned.

When the opportunity to reward my team with out of cycle raises to get back in line with the rest of the company’s higher than minimum wage pay comes along, it won’t be universal, I will have to pick who has demonstrated that they deserve it.  The first factor I’m going to consider is the Troops Program performance.

As for the others…the people on my team who only make minimum wage and don’t get paid to do this?

Well, I’ve started calling it a Living Wage.  And if they don’t get paid enough to execute on each of the very easy expectations of their job?  Then I’m telling them they can join their counterparts on the other side of the fence, where the grass is not greener.

If for no other reason than they don’t get to work with me anymore.

Minimum Wage

My E.O.G Game Is On!

I think I just level-upped my Early Onset Grumpiness.

Leveled Up?

I dunno which is righter.

No.  Wait.  I know neither is actually acceptable and just give up.

Anyhoo.  

The Silver Fox and I are sitting here in our neighborhood cafe, drinking our coffee and discussing Trump denying he used the phrase “shithole countries” the other day when something happened.

I’d seen this guy walk up with his dog – a young yellow lab, so I was attenuated on The Fox’s behalf since his dog share is also a lab.  The guy ties his dog up street side and comes into the cafe.

I give the guy a look that fails to register, but conveyed my, “You gonna leave your dog outside in the wet while you come in here and eat?”

Anyway, he ordered to go, as it turns out.  He’s standing there waiting for his sandwich and the next thing he or I know his dog is in the street greeting a passerby jaywalker.

With the table he was tethered to.

Now, I saw the guy come into the cafe sans puppy and assumed he had been lashed to one of Portland’s many bike racks.

No, our brainiac tied the dog to a table that is just a lightweight metal legged, wood slat top situation.  Patio furniture, basically.

The dog is enthusiastically greeting this jaywalking lady who is trying to pick the tabletop up out of the street and the dog has completely entangled himself in the leash and tablelegs.  Not that that is dampening the pup’s enthusiasm at all.

The owner finally arrives and handles the dog situation.  

I wonder if the dog knows the woman, explaining the overwhelming excitement of the animal toward her.

She’s now picking up hardware out of the street so cars don’t get screws stuck in their tires.  After she’s collected the attaching screws and whatnot, she carries on her way.

The guy comes in, picks up his sandwich and leaves.

I give him a hard stare as he walks by my window, which he adroitly ignores.

I walk up to our Substitute Barista and ask if the guy said anything to her about the table.  She’d missed the entire thing, helping customers.  Two of whom are standing right by me waiting for food and had seen the entire thing.

Neither of them confirm my account, so Substitute Barista and I go outside to assess.

The guy had set the detached top back on the legs and left the hardware sitting on the window ledge adjacent.

Substitute Barista declares that situation unsafe and I suggest taking the table into the cafe’s storage area.  She agrees, I grab the top and she grabs the legs.  She’s still talking about how could people do something like that.  One of the other witnesses is leaving as we’re coming back into the cafe and holds the door, saying, “Nice timing!” at her helpfulness.

I glare at her in disbelief, still she’s said nothing.

I go back to The Fox and pick up on our conversation, “It’s nice to see the GOP acknowledging that they are likely to lose their majority in Congress.  I just wish they would realize it’s not because incumbents are retiring or resigning so much as it’s their actions that will cause them to lose their majority.”

We went on to discuss the Trumpster Fire’s use of the phrase “shithole countries” some more, specifically how NPR had actually quoted the phrase and not bothered bleeping it.

The point I was making was how the mainstream media and congress have largely stood by and not specifically called out Trump for his bad behavior.  This is how he is able to continually get away with his devolving statesmanship.

No one speaks up.

Much like the two customers standing immediately by the dog owner today.  I watched what happened, stood up, crossed the cafe and narced on the guy who damaged someone else’s property and said nothing.

And why should he, given the example of our country’s leadership?

Well, I saw something and I said something.  

Then I said, “I hope that guy is a regular and you get a chance to call him out.”

Not that I want Substitute Barista involved in a confrontation, but I do think someone should be able to respectfully and safely say, “Hey, that wasn’t cool.”

When the guy walked back by with his dog as I wrote this, I debated going outside and saying something to him.  The Fox kind of talked me out of it, which is good since I may fail the “respectfully” part of the conversation…but I glared at him real good.

My E.O.G Game Is On!

Is It Monday?

Maybe my day is just off to a rough start.  Or maybe it’s just a bonus Monday for me.

Either way, today is off to a hard start.

I agreed to coffee before my 9:30 Acupuncture appointment.  The Silver Fox and I almost always have coffee first thing on my days off.  But my acupuncture appointment is early today compared to my usual 10:45 appointment, meaning I had to set an alarm on my day off.

Then I woke up even earlier and just laid in bed until my alarm went off.

<sigh>

Finally dragging my ass out of bed 15 minutes after my alarm went off, I tried shaking the cobwebs with a fizzy hipster water while I stumbled around naked.

Feeding the cat.

Putting away recycling.

Picking up dirty clothes.

Shit!

I’d started the shower before thinking I needed a water – hence my nudity – and it’s been running the whole time.  Guess the cobwebs were there to stay.

But, I had I, Tonya to look forward to after acupuncture.

Coffee.

Needle Man.

Tonya.

Shit, again!

I’d agreed to have lunch with mom and dad after meeting for a beer and making movie plans with The Fox last night.


I got this.

Dressed, I head to the street.

Raining.

I debate going in the rain and decide, umbrella.

Back up stairs.

We get to coffee dry, The Fox chiding me for using an umbrella.

Our normal barista is MIA.

<sigh>

…and substitute barista is our of cold brew.

I consider leaving and hanging it up for the day, but forge onward.  I order an iced latte to shore up my defenses against the tidal wave of minutiae.

Substitute barista steams the milk and pours it into my iced latte.


Mom had suggested my coffee shop cafe for lunch, which is fine…until I saw that they were serving mulligatawny stew.

Pass.

So now I have to come up with another option.  The only hard part of that is choosing just one in the food paradise that is Portland.

I’m heading to acupuncture now and caught myself thinking my Needle Man will probably use knitting needles the way my day is going…

Then I check myself.

My problem is that it’s raining.

And I had to change up my coffee order.

And people I love want to see me.

Yeah, today isn’t hard after all!

Is It Monday?