The Hustle

I’d kind of taken to thinking of my job search as an exercise in futility. Sure, the only exercise I was getting, but it wasn’t really contributing to an elevated state of health – physical or mental.

In searching for appropriate career level positions, I hit wall after apathetic wall.

The struggle is surreal.

I found myself rethinking the jobs I was applying for with companies I told myself I wanted to work for. My thoughts turned toward,

Do I really want to work for these companies?

Learning from my interviewing experiences with them, I realized answer was coming back “No” more and more frequently. Hell, more often than not, I was realizing I no longer wanted to be their customer.

At the same time, I was really digging my lil writerly routine.

Come to – er…wake up.

Clean up.

Head to the Arthouse and write for a few hours.

I found that the morning was when I was really able to create. I worried that work would ruin that flow.

Realistically, though, I needed to work. Not just for the financial aspect – although, obviously – but also for the ancillary payback.

Allowing me to feel that I’ve not just accomplished something, which I achieve with writing, but to feel that I’ve contributed to something.

Then there’s the social interaction void after leaving retail. I’m used to dozens if not hundreds of quick interactions with people that challenge me and keep me socially engaged.

A.

Day.

That’s tough to replace.

I wasn’t getting that on my couch – and I tried both ends!

Out of literal desperation, I applied for a part time job as a clerk in a convenience store. For what the owner called “Good money for a job like this” during my interview.

It was $12/hour.

The owner calls that good money, Oregon called that Minimum Wage. I should note that this was at the time, Oregon’s Min Wage is now $12.50, so I think I now qualify for membership at Mar-a-Lago or something, right?

I quickly learned the reason that the owner considered Minimum Wage good money for this job: his employees didn’t do much during their shifts. The majority of them played on their phones or read books waiting for customers. They didn’t even say “hi” to them when they entered the store. Some had friends stop by. Still others had hangouts with off duty employees.

The owner wasn’t getting a good return on his payroll investment, for sure.

But I just had a few lunch/dinner shifts a week, like 16-24 hours. Covering a store for an hour while the associate took their meal break, then moving to the next for an hour and then the last store to finish my four hour shift.

I got to talk to people and I got to do things…even if it was just putting beer and water into coolers. It’s weird, it was what I did at the airport to help out my associates. To make them feel supported. Now it was my job.

The other employees objected to that aggressively productive behavior of mine with an array of flimsy reasons. My response?

I came to work!

I didn’t care if they loved or hated me. I was getting paid with that sense of contributing with every task I completed and customer I met.

You’re so much nicer than the other employees!

I heard that a lot. In all three of the stores. Just about six months in now, I still hear it once or twice a week.

You know what? That’s nice to hear, but it also makes me feel bad. Most of my co-workers are nice enough to me – despite my reluctance to work down to their standard. What if the job just beat them down into spiritual submission?

Was it only a matter of time for me, too?

Doubts like that aside, I was finding myself entertaining the notion of finding job and financial satisfaction in more of a piecemeal manner. I’d been witnessing younger workers doing it for the last decade. Running from part-time job to part-time job to cover their expenses. Maybe I could turn away from the full-time mentality and “retire” to a gig mentality.

I began exploring app-based work like Uber or Postmates. The obvious problem there for me was: no car. Still, with Postmates I could use my bike. The problem there? My lazy ass. Since the FWV (friends with vehicles, duh!) I dropped hints to about this notion let those hints drop unacknowledged, I tabled the idea.

Somehow, in this same timeframe, I became the boss’ shining star employee and go-to. She asked me to cover her role during her month-long vacation. At full-time.

Fine, as long as it’s just for four weeks…I can do it.

Three weeks before she left, all hell broke loose. Two people got fired and another quit in the course of maybe five days. By the time my boss left for vacation, I was ready to go back to my sweet lil four hour shifts.

Flash forward two months and I was still averaging about 35 hours a week. Feeling broken, I at least had my family’s annual vacation get together to look forward to in a month.

Still, I told my boss to schedule me less so I could get my writing back on track. I was an entire project behind schedule.

No change. Unless being scheduled for only 32 hours counts.

Then I got a call I wasn’t expecting.

A temp agency specializing in HR had reached out to me a few weeks earlier about a position they thought I’d be perfect for.

Oh, and the position you originally applied for was filled, unfortunately.

No shit? That was months ago!

Anyway, the position was designed to offload the HR responsibilities of a dual role HR/Ops manager that wanted to focus on her Ops responsibilities.

I agreed, I would be perfect for the role. I interviewed and still thought it would be a great fit. The money was certainly better than the convenience store, but it was only two-thirds of what I should be earning. At part-time the money would barely cover my monthly expenses. Looked like I wouldn’t be ditching the convenience store job anytime soon.

I realized that idea didn’t bother me. I romanticized a perfect schedule where I worked my gig HR three days a week from 8-5 and did dinner breaks from 6-10, earning enough to feel financially able while having four days off a week.

But this is my life, right? That Cinderella story didn’t happen.

Surprisingly, the person creating this job thought you were too into people. She’s going with another candidate.

Oh, for fuck sake.

The person who was more into the Ops side of her job and didn’t want to be bothered with the Human Resources side of her role…didn’t want somebody who was into humans to take that off her plate.

Seriously.

Surrealiously.

This journey is basically the meat of my next non-fiction book. I’m leaning toward calling it 50-gig – get it? I’m ~50 and competing for gig work with them there millennials? – however, on days like that one…it’s hard not to call it These Damn Idiots I Meet.

I mean, really, dating. Job hunting. It could be the group name for my non-fic work. 50-gig and Dating Into Oblivion could both easily fall under that heading. I wonder if there’s a third piece to round out a trilogy.

Obviously, The Gym.

But, I’ve digressed.

Romantic notion of working three days a week: le poof.

Anyway, I go back to my partly full-time job at the convenience store, grateful to still have a purpose but missing out on writing. At night, I drink wine on my lonely couch while binge watching Star Trek TV shows in their chronological order versus release dates while mentally cutting myself to take away the pain of my obsolescence.

Then the HR temps call back a few weeks later.

Maybe a month.

Let’s say a few weeks ago.

I doubt you’d be interested, you might consider it too boring.

I took this with the grain of salt required to swallow my belief that nobody wanted me, anyway. Basically, my position was, “I dare them to fucking hire me!”

Still, the “three or four days a week” aspect really appealed to me.

They’d really like someone to start next Monday, if it’s a good fit.

I just laughed at that, still waiting for Old Mother Hubbard’s second home to land on me like a was The Wicked Job Hunter of the West.

Oh, boo. What was that collision of metaphor?!? Mixing nursery rhymes and Young Adult novels from barely the last century.

Hey, don’t even worry about it. It’s Wednesday…if they let me know by tomorrow morning, I can have my boss at the convenience store work me around it.

Apparently, my “I fucking dare you to hire me” attitude was too much to resist. Thirty minutes later, they called back and told me to get in there Monday morning.

Having resigned myself to never getting another professional job again, I’d gone back to thinking about app based gig-work. I’d looked into car-sharing options for driving with Uber or Lyft using someone else’s car through an app called GetAround. It would probably end up costing about a third of what I’d make driving, but it would pull me out of being able to say “yes” every time my boss at the store had a need.

Actually, every time isn’t fair. I knew she tried to not abuse my availability. I appreciated it. But still, of the instances I knew of where she didn’t call on me, I knew she was just sucking it up about half the time.

I felt bad about that.

Anyway, somewhere in there – and consistent readers already know this – I said “Fuck it”, and bought a car. They’ve subsequently been dubbed Pat the Patriot in a perfect fit of Portland political correctness.

I figured maybe I could still do some gig driving, if only for the experience of writing about it in either my blog or even that notion of a book. I’d actually priced it all out and come to the benchmark of driving only six hours a week covering my car costs.

I could live with that.

I could also live with my complete lack of surprise at my experience trying to sign up to drive with Uber.

I’d given up using Lyft in conjunction with Uber a decade-ish ago when a woman in a homemade floral print dress and Jesus bobble head on her dash tried to fist bump me. If I was gonna drive, my first choice was going to be with the brand I’d been using as a consumer.

After a month of effort, let’s just say that I’m driving with The Verb and not The (unearned) Adjective.

And it’s addictive.

Not just the people engagement reward, but actually, the immediacy reward, too. I’ve only driven three times, but it’s been very satisfying…like 90% fun and 10% “Meh, that was still better than a day working for my last professional job”.

Plus, I get a cell phone bill and think, “Welp, let’s cash in on the app” and my pay is instantly in my checking account. The next morning I wake up to a utility bill and think, “Well, I’ll go have coffee with The Fox and then drive for a couple hours to get this paid…beats paying for two more hours of parking”.

And, yes – I am looking for a monthly space to rent! Especially if I want to leverage that whole three days of work/four days off thing.

Until then, a couple hours to pay my $30 gas bill versus spend $4 on parking turned into driving for five hours and saving $10 on parking and limping out of my driver’s seat with $100.

See? Addictive.

Now, before it starts raining Other Shoes, here’s what’s on the horizon:

– Before I committed to Lyft, I applied to drive delivery for GoPuff and Postmates. I’ll probably fold at least one of those in, if only for the potential writing material for 50-gig. But also: tips! I’ve actually never had a tip job before, so I’d be interested in how that adds up.

Plus, as a car share rider from the early days, I never tip. It was part of the deal. Then the deal changed, but guess who didn’t? Yes, me. But also: practically everyone else. Out of – I think I’m at…18 rides over three outings I’ve been tipped by two riders. I don’t expect it, but feel I’ve really earned the gratuity when they land. It’s not that I got a tip for reflex of it all, I did something that stood out compared to other rides these Tipsters have taken.

That’s what I’m telling myself.

What else?

– Oh, yeah…the convenience store. There’s a shoe. If you know me, you know I won’t repay hiring me when no one else would – yes, for a job I should have a lobotomy to be qualified for – by walking away, middle fingers flying just because I got a better opportunity. So, if this HR gig pans out, I see a serious scheduling conversation happening there.

– The HR gig. When someone – an employer – says “three or four days a week”, who knows what they mean? It could be three days, with the hope that the dangling fourth will provide added bait. It could mean four, for so many reasons.

In this case, I heard “three”, because that’s what I wanted to hear. Then I talked to the owner and heard the job scope and said, “Yeah, I can do that in three”.

Sadly, I think they really want someone for four, but tough nuts.

Or not so tough. If I end up working four days a week, it’s not the end of the world. Plus, since I’m HR, I have access. That access shows me – innocently, I assure you – that my non-temp predecessor was making $6/hr more than I am. But I get the temp costs offset. If they hire me off my contract, I’m getting that money. Knowing what I do of the owner, I won’t have to ask…she’ll offer. How awesome is it to have a boss you think of in those terms?

It’s fucking awesome.

Also: there’s an office cat. He’s nicer than Myrtle, too, which makes that fourth day a real draw. Poor Myrt. She’s not not nice. She’s just psychotic and can’t help herself.

Or I have Stockholm Syndrome.

Now, let’s see…other shoes. Other Shoes. Any others, hoes?

Ah, yes!

– Writing! Doy. The second book in the No One Of Consequence story is nearing completion. Yes, Phil…I’m editing! Hehe. After some good feedback, I also intent to brush off Book One and give it an extra lil polish before launching Book Two. Now I should have the ability to advertise, too.

I wanna run an ad campaign this month, I think I’ll go drive for a few hours.

I like the sound of that.

Then, come November I can put balancing work, work, work and possibly work schedules with writing, I’ll try and get most of 50-gig drafted during NaNoWriMo. That’ll be an adventure.

Almost as big an adventure as doing my 2019 taxes will be with two W2s, possibly four 1099s and at least a little bit of royalties income to factor in. I better start limbering up my procrastination muscles now!

Yes, it’s 5:30 in the morning on my day off…why do you ask? Truth be told, how this three job thing is working out so far has created a three weeks straight without a day off, so my old ass is tired! But I slept well on both Friday and Saturday night.

Of course, that was after saying

I’m burning the candle at both ends…with fucking blow torches!

So I was ready for early nights and good sleep. Maybe I’ll try a nap later.

Nah…I’ll go drive! Haha.

The Hustle

The Seaward

My new neighbor moved out of my old unit.

This is the guy who took a month to move in to my old unit at the beginning of the year. I saw him twice and we spoke once.

Yes, he offended me.

Ergo, I nicknamed him The Seaward.

Not because he was always heading for the beach, not that I’d know. It’s a play on words.

Well, a specific word.

The C-Word – in case you needed that spelled out.

And, no. I did not mean it in the cool English slang way.

Anyway, his move out has been as subtle as his move-in. Over the last several months I’ve begun realizing that he just spends very little time at home. My presumption was that he was at his boyfriend’s. But in the past weeks, his patio has been looking less and less like a set from Sanford and Son.

The middle of last week, I noticed some tree debris in the hallway and later noticed that even the planter with his lil shrub in it was gone. Now it’s just the prohibited-but-don’t-let-that-stop-you BBQ and The Seaward’s beach chair left.

In an unguarded moment last weekend, I saw a moving truck outside my building and thought, “Oh boy, new neighbors!” My first thought was that one of the four – of eighteen – units for sale had sold.

Then I caught myself.

The Seaward.

Took a month to move in.

Lasted eight.

The Seaward

Dear Gawd, What Have I Done?!? Pt 2

It’s me, so you just knew there would be a Part 2. Let’s call this the “New Shit, Who Dis” edition.

Realistically, this is probably more like Part 2,000,002 at this stage in my life.

Anyway, a week ago last Friday, I had a great interview with a local Weed Chainlet. I mean, really great. Like she nearly offered me the job on the spot great. We had mutual colleagues (that didn’t suck, IMO) at not one, but two of my past positions. She had a repeat business to business relationship with a third past employer of mine. She’d just turned 50.

We just clicked.

Dialing it back, she rallied with “I’ll call you Monday with next steps, the owner may want to meet you before we job offer the final candidate.”

Alright. Fine. I can twist over the weekend. Since it ends in a job offer.

At this point in my disemployment I had been seriously looking at a car with a “Fuck it, I’ll just drive for Uber” attitude. Honestly, with the regularity that my stupid little part time job was resulting in full time work – week 13, if anyone is counting – I was on the verge of supporting myself with my actual earnings.

But a salaried job and it’s stability was more of a comfortable routine, so there’s a definite allure.

Naturally, Monday comes and goes with nothing but a 4 o’clock email promising me she’ll call the next day.

Tuesday comes and goes with nothing.

Tuesday night, I go test drive a car. It’s late, and after 18 months of irregular work, my credit and income history is kinda-barely on the wrong side of meh, so I leave with a “Let is talk to the bank tomorrow, it’ll work” and a promise to – you guessed it – call me the next day.

And then, nothing happened.

I was debating the breadth of interest an Instagram audience might have in a near-senior-citizen’s Only Fans.

I joke…I personally didn’t have an inclination.

Then Thursday I get an email from a local HR Temp Agency that had reached out to me with a sure thing last month.

Don’t worry, I somehow blew that. Apparently, I was too “into people” for an HR position at that company.

Ok

Anyway, this new opportunity was apparently just three or four days a week, good rate, wanted someone the next week, casual office…with an office cat. How could I not be interested?

Believe me, though, I kept my optimism in check.

Well, if they pull the trigger today, I can work that out with my PT job for next week.

I delivered that with a blitheness that resulted in an email 30 minutes later offering me the job. They’d even specifically mentioned that they were hoping to place someone permanently.

Generic Person, this whole aloof and hard to get thing works! It works way better than “generic person” works as an expletive versus the completely sexist term “man“!

Now, you might think that it’s exciting that I’m starting a new job today, right?

It is, don’t worry…I’m not that jaded.

But my family vacation is the end of next week. And even though this temp agency knows this, no one has mentioned it. Partner that with I didn’t think I’d get yet another job, so I didn’t either.

So, there’s that. But my parents rolled with the news. As a matter of fact, from the sounds on it, my reason for only going for a partial week is far more worthy than other members who are blowing out on the trip.

Now, you just know there’s more, right?

Saturday, the friggin’ car guy calls with a “Poof, your approved!” message, so now I own a fucking car, too.

And let’s face it, this being my life, I won’t be the temp to hire guy, right? So having the Uber potential to fall back on is not an entirely shit idea. Until then, if I want to make it pay for itself, I only have to drive six hours a week – and that’s payment, insurance and monthly parking!

Except

The strong start I thought I’d have with driving for Uber last weekend turned into an exercise in frustration. The type that had me saying things like, “How do ‘You People’ have jobs and it took me 18 months of bullshit to get one?”

So much dysfunction. I have to upload three different vehicle documents to be eligible to drive: insurance, registration and inspection.

Makes sense.

I upload the docs and then call because I can’t go online to drive.

Oh, it takes about two hours for our team to review them!

Oh, ok. You’re nice enough. Maybe I’ll just have a drink tonight and drive tomorrow. Easy-peasy.

I wake up the next day to three 2:30 AM emails – 6 hours after my phone call to Uber – saying my uploads were rejected.

My insurance doc didn’t have my name on it.

My title was missing the vehicle information.

The inspection was the wrong document.

All sent in the same minute, so I smell more incompetence.

Sure enough, I can easily find my vehicle information and my actual name on the first two documents. I call back in and get an apology and am told to just resubmit them and this CSR will email the documents team to assure them that he visually verified the information was present while talking to me.

It turns out, the “inspection” is actually a vehicle inspection by Uber that verifies my car meets their standard. There was zero indication that this wasn’t supposed to be an emissions inspection in the instructions. Anyway, the helpful CSR was emailing me the address of my local hub.

I’m sure it’ll end up being in Eugene or something.

But that pessimism is beside the point.

My insurance was accepted, my registration was rejected AGAIN, and I never got the email telling me where the inspection office is located.

How do these boobs have jobs and it took me 18 months to get one?!?

Oh, well. I’ve got some time. Although, I was really looking forward to driving for Uber. All of my email bill payment reminders start rolling in around the 15th of the month and sit unread until I can pay them at the first of the month.

It actually creates two weeks of stress since aside from the reminder that I have unpaid bills and no immediate manner to pay them, those stupid red push notification dots are odd triggers for my anxiety.

But I’ve got an hour left in the cafe before I have to leave for work, so I’m gonna edit!

This is a routine I could easily get into: edit from 7-830, work from 9-5 and then drive for a few hours three or four days a week.

I feel a debt to the convenience store for hiring me when everyone else was too dumb to, do I want to keep working there, too. But the pull of a four day work week is mighty. I might have to juggle.

My ideal looks like this:

Being awesome enough to get both the permanent HR assignment and only need three days to get it done each week.

Work a full fourth day on Saturday or Sunday for the convenience store and then do two each of 6-10 PM shifts with them and Uber to round out my work days.

Odds on whether the universe complies versus there’s a Part 3 coming?

Until then…maybe I’ll switch over to driving for Lyft.

Dear Gawd, What Have I Done?!? Pt 2

Dear Gawd, What Have I Done?!?

I was talking/texting with my sister the other day about our upcoming family vacation. Suddenly, the conversation turned back toward my favorite topic: me.

So, what have you been up to?

Such an innocently conversational question.

Of course, it generated a 4″ text response from me.

The gist was that my stupid PT job had been keeping me busy enough with 35-55 hour weeks for two months straight that everything else in my life was suffering. This is probably as good a time as any to add that my mother had pointed out to me that this was largely my own fault at lunch a few days earlier.

You do this to yourself, you could say no.

Oh, mom…of course I could. But that’s not how you and dad or retail raised me!

Anyway, my main frustration wasn’t the lack of time or energy I’d had for bike rides or hikes this far in the summer. Zero, at that point…if you’re keeping track. It was more that there were two writing projects I’d wanted to make some significant progress on this summer. My second book in the No One Of Consequence series and a slightly supernatural mystery I’d begun that I’m calling GhosTed at the moment.

My hope was to complete the first draft of NOOC in June and work on finishing GhosTed in July. Then after the break, dive into editing mode on NOOC in August so I could meet/beat my November publishing goal.

I told my sis that I felt I had barely finished my first draft of NOOC by the end of July and hadn’t touched GhosTed at all. I was a good month behind my self-imposed deadlines.

Not to mention my blog output had completely dried up.

Then this happened.

What the hell got into me?!?

A few words of support and questions about characters from the first book and suddenly I’m suggesting that I can have Book Two ready to roll in less than eight weeks?!?

Truth be told, I probably could. I’m going to move toward that goal, certainly. However, I’d been kicking around some feedback I got on Book One from another writer whose opinion I really value and how I could incorporate his suggestions into a version two – one of the perks of self-publishing, the drawing board is never closed! – of Book One to release in tandem with Book Two.

A less-than-eight-week timeline for both seems possible, just not likely.

Oh, conundrums.

But, while I sit in my local cafe not working on either project

…and texting with Diezel as well as my mom and sister I’m registering the relief I feel at allowing myself to drift out of focus.

Don’t worry, though, I gave Book Two a good 40 minutes of focus before letting my laptop go to sleep. At this rate, it will be ready by November.

Well, some November…

Dear Gawd, What Have I Done?!?

TIL #10: Bufferin

They should just market this as a people repellant.

Because, people – me, at any rate – need a buffer.

Yeah, don’t kid yourself, Today I (didn’t) Learned…why they call this Bufferin. Although, the bros that just walked into the Arthouse Cafe – f&b was renamed and rebranded to compliment the neighborhood a bit better.

Complete with street art!

Anyway, these bros order food and then execute my trending pet peeve:

Taking the seat closest to me in an empty space!

It’s truly annoying. You’d think my favorite part of this shituation would be that they both started playing videos on their phones.

I mean, why even go out to eat together?!?

But, I noticed they were sports videos, even those these two were obviously gay for each other. Maybe the videos provided distraction enough to keep them from soberly blurting out

I love you, man!

Whatever. I don’t care.

No, the most annoying part of this wordless bromantic breakfast was the gift of allowing me to watch them tossing food into their never-closing mouths and then grind it up before sending it on its way to the poop chute.

So gross.

Therefore, since I’m not being given my people buffer and there sadly is no pill to rectify that, I’m going to distract you with a story. This happened a few weeks ago while I was working, and since my lil PT gig provides me with an opportunity to interact with people and is decidedly unchallenging, I exploit the opportunity to my maximum amusement.

In this case, it involves taking another pet peeve and making up a fact around it.

Of course, the story starts with a cute guy.

Goes without saying for this ho without a laying? Right?

He was tragically buying smokes and looked under 30, so I carded him. He whips out an out of state ID and I ask if he’s visiting.

No, I’m practically a native, I’ve lived here so long!

Me:

What? Oh, wait…are you a native? How long do I have to live here before I can call myself a native?

Me:

Stop saying “native”.

Indigenous?

Ok, that made me chuckle.

I went on to tell him that natives don’t call themselves native, they call themselves SNOBs – Society of Native Oregon Born.

It’s a thing, but I was vamping, we call ourselves natives all of the time. But he was enjoying my schtick, so I kept playing.

So, how long until I can be a SNOB?

Me:

Never.

That’s what I was afraid of.

Me:

Wah-wah. Look, here’s the deal, being an Oregonian isn’t about time served.

It isn’t?

Such wonder and naïveté.

Uh-dorable.

Me:

No, it’s fucking Oregon, not a prison sentence.

More laughing, which I take as him begging me to slide deeper into – er…keep going.

Me:

Being an Oregonian is about how one drives.

Trick question! You cycle, right?

Me:

Yes, but no.

Kinda dying over here…

Me:

Alright, alright. Simmer down. It’s how you drive. Specifically, relative to pedestrians.

Oh, really? Wait, wait…the whole “No, you go” thing, right?!?

Me:

Partial Credit. That’s the filtering device.

So, transplants see someone at a crosswalk – maybe they see them, pedestrians might not even register to out of towners – and just whiz on by. “Watch out, poor people, I have an automobile!”

But SNOBs stop!

Me:

Of course, but more importantly, we stop correctly.

Because there’s a right way.

Me:

Yes! This is the difference between a self-proclaimed Native and a SNOB.

Natives fall all over themselves making a show of stopping. Standing on the brake and laying down 10 feet of rubber at the last minute, if need be.

SNOBs understand that crosswalks always exist, even if you can’t see a person nearby, and are ready to stop.

Seems like an arbitrary differentiator…

Me:

Does it? Ask the car waiting to cross traffic from the side street while the native driver idles in the intersection in a dissipating cloud of stinky blue tire smoke.

Damnit! I see that all the time!

Me:

There ya go.

Ok, the gay bros left.

Thank you for allowing me to distract myself!

TIL #10: Bufferin

Take A Seat, Karen

We all know a Karen.

Or Susan…or whomever.

She’s the gal who says about herself,

I’m 100% that bitch

And everyone who knows her suffers silently while thinking, “We know, we know!”

She can be anyone from this nightmare type

To this angry racist

All the way to this vacuous type

Really, Buzzfeed, should I be following someone whose life goal seems to be getting shirtless selfies in as many different countries – undoubtedly on someone else’s dime – as possible? That will somehow enhance my life in ways I simply cannot comprehend?

As you can see, there’s a rather wide range, like the head that holds her hairstyle or the pew that supports her rear or the wallet that supports his heels.

The common denominator?

They know everything that’s hot in pop culture, fashionable, the best exercise classes, the best restaurants or other micro-minutae. Nothing real substantive coming out of their iced or pumpkin spiced coffee holes, unfortunately.

Essentially, they’re nothing more than poseurs, following in the too prevalent basic lemming-slash-bitch mentality of today: elevating teenaged performers to icon status based on a lyric from a pop song.

What the hell is wrong with our country?!?

I mean, Taylor Swift was praised last year – or possibly the year before – for finally speaking out against gun violence. She was heralded as a savior for “using her social media for good”.

She’s 29.

Now, long time readers will know my thoughts on Social Media Influencers. But I’ll give Swifty a pass for speaking out. She does have the following to reach a large audience, so good for her.

But when it comes to the vapid followers who got behind the message?

It was the same thing left leaning politicians have been saying since the history of mass shootings began in this country. Thanks for finally getting the memo.

A friend of mine, @Britebarb on the Twitter, once said,

You aren’t entitled to your opinion, but you are entitled to your informed opinion.

I probably butchered the exact quote, but you get the point. When our opinions are informed by pop culture instead of actual news, facts and self-education…well, you’re not a Karen or a Susan.

You’re a Molly.

Lets don’t be Molly, shall we?

This actually brings me to my larger point.

Those Susan and Karen types? What do you think they do to our culture?

It used to be cute that Karen would have a hostess fired for seating her by the kitchen. Today, Karen is having hostesses fired for not seating her party of 14 fast enough while parties of two and four that came in after her were seated first.

It was tolerable for one person to have a racist anachronistic opinion. They were your aged grandparent who was written off as “being from another time”. Then some charismatic someone pooled that grandparent’s money together with a bunch of other racist grandparents and build a megachurch.

Put our glamorous and hunky gay Instagram traveler at a drive-thru window – not the one he sits on, an actual drive-thru – and see how he does. We used to take basic service industry jobs and make the fabulous most of our minimum wages. Now, we complain about a free trip to Coachella instead of questioning the politics of the promoters…ignoring politics we could never support because the line up is lit.

Molly, you should be calling out the performers for working for that promoter, not instagramming your free trip.

It’s not all bad. This past week, Stephen Ross hosted a lunch for Trump.

There was glitter fallout.

Ross is the CEO for the parent company of Equinox Gym and Soul Cycle. These are $100/month plus gyms heavily trafficked by the gays and the Karens of the country. Sorry, Susan…you’re praying away the body issues.

But we’ve been here before.

Chick-fil-a.

Barilla pasta.

I’ll come up with some others later.

Maybe.

But those two kind of make my point: we don’t remember.

It kind of relegates our ire to the level of the so-called Million Moms. I think they struggled to sustain a roster of thousands of moms.

Why?

Thumping bibles is hard, for one, ok?

But also, do you think a million moms want to piss off the gay that cuts their hair and end up with a Karen haircut? Or worse, piss off their personal trainer and end up with a Susan ass?

We people…not so consistent. Setting aside the extremes on either end of the blue or red political spectrum, I think the grey area in between needs to take over. Regardless of which way you lean – left or right – the middle has the numbers to do what’s right.

Stephen Ross and Trump and the Chick-fil-a folks – ironically, the family surname is Cathy – don’t care about our boycotts.

Hear that?

It’s them laughing all the way to the bank, either way.

Making money? Great! Put it in the bank!

Losing money? Great! Write it off on our taxes or short our own stock!

Our protests hurt the people in the front lines. The mother of three working two part time jobs and asking if we want Waffle Fries with our chicken sandwich.

Of course we do! But we want the Secret Waffle Fries that our Equinox trainer won’t find out about!

And those trainers who lose income because their spin classes are empty? Another of the real victims of our righteous ire.

Why?

Because we don’t hold our politicians accountable to holding our best interests and not their own.

Why don’t we have gun control or reform in this country? Because Tay-Tay isn’t in Congress.

Conversely, why do we have Trump as president? Because he had the best soundbites.

Tax cuts!

Crooked Hillary!

But her emails!

And because we’re largely entitled when it comes to our opinions, we ran right off the cliff at the ballot box without ever informing ourselves about our opinion.

A couple years back, I wrote about what one of my employees told me after proudly stating that he and his wife voted on behalf of their family of five for Trump.

After my eyes rolled 360 degrees in their respective sockets, that is.

The shorthand is the tax cuts and that they didn’t trust Hillary.

We think we’ll be better off with Trump in office.

“Financially?”

Well, yeah…

That last part was delivered like he worried that I didn’t understand that nothing more mattered than their bottom line.

For my part, I think I showed a lot of restraint.

You know you work in Portland, right?

“Yeah…”

And your job pays more than minimum wage – which in Oregon is 50% higher than the federal minimum wage, right?

“Well, I mean, I know I make more than minimum wage, but it’s not enough.”

Setting aside my recollection of the conversation we had where he volunteered that he had preemptively had his four upper front teeth removed because it was somehow easier, I went on,

You do know that republicans opposed the minimum wage bill in Oregon, right?

“Not really, I don’t pay much attention to politics.”

Well, then you frankly shouldn’t vote.

“But every vote counts and it’s my right!”

Stupid Americans.

Being ignorant

I didn’t say “retarded” because people get mad at me.

isn’t a right, it’s a handicap. Liberals provided the higher than average minimum wage that you’re making $1 more than per hour. If you’re going to vote, maybe support the people that support you. Have a little friggin’ loyalty! If you want to support the people who stand on your backs to get what they have, is like my $5 an hour back.

That last part went whizzing right over his head. Basically, he’s in a place where he’s making $200 more per week than people doing the same work outside of Oregon. And this basic Karen votes against the people who gave it to him.

As his employer, forced to pay for it – but happily doing so – if he doesn’t appreciate it, I want it back.

Idiots.

Plus, he wasn’t that great of an employee. More a “Needs Improvement” versus a “Meets Expectations” because his opportunities weren’t a matter of not knowing the job expectations or not having the tools to succeed.

He delivered the minimum effort he could get away with. Absent was the mentality to do a good job. His goal was a factor of doing only as much as he had to do to be considered “good enough”.

And he got away with it…because the management – my boss – was kind of the same. But much better paid.

This…this is the fallout from our Karen and Susan attitude. People who act in their own interest versus in the interest of the greater good. Doing what’s right for the sake of the fact that it’s right!

We seem to take more of a WIIFM approach to doing what’s right. Failing a personal net positive in the What’s In It For Me test, we do what’s easier versus what’s right.

As far as what’s in it for me goes? I try to come out on right versus easier as often as possible. Of course, when that means leaving a job that paid alright versus tacitly condoning the poor management ethics, it’s downright hard to do.

On the flip side, I hold others to the same standard. On that front, let me explain the title of this post:

Take A Seat, Karen

You wanna talk to the manager and get a waiter fired for a perceived slight?

Hold. My. Beer.

I had an entire company fired.

I don’t mess around. For me, right and wrong isn’t about getting what I want – in life, at the ballot box or what-have-you.

Saying that my issues with my property management company started last year while I was on vacation is only partially true.

Sure, my building unexpectedly pulled the key core from the building’s front door.

Yeah, this meant my pet sitter – aka: the Silver Fox – couldn’t get in to feed Myrtle since I only had one fob and he used a door key to get into the building.

My relationship with the management company warped into a wormhole when I reached out for help in the situation.

Expectation: something along the lines of “Oh no! Have your pet sitter swing by the office and he can use our fob until you get back!” Y’know…something to help proactively resolve the immediate issue with maybe a little appropriate empathy.

Reality: they (mis)quoted my lease to me. “As per your lease, you were given one key to your unit and one door fob. If you want additional fobs, you’ll need to buy them.”

Meanwhile, my cat isn’t being fed.

In reality, while I was trying to tone down the shriek-level in my response, it occurred to me that this wasn’t where my problem began with them, this was where their poor performance became intolerable.

My problem with their performance began a month before I moved in. I had failed to negotiate a lower rent in my old unit by speaking logic to my unit’s owner. The unit next door was the same size and renting for $300 less a month, she offered a $50 rent reduction.

I moved.

But for the three weeks while that conversation was happening, the smoke detector was giving off a replace battery beep in the empty unit. I actually arranged a tour of the unit initially only to tell them to replace the battery.

The agent apologetically agreed to get it taken care of.

Then…nothing happened.

This was when my problem with their performance began. But weighing the issues – a bad battery or $250/month – I moved anyway.

That’s the grey area I mentioned earlier. Both unit’s owner/management failed, casting the larger issue in grey. I chose the least wrong, which also happened to financially benefit me. A grey lose-win-win.

I can solve the battery issue by putting in a new battery and disconnecting the unit when that doesn’t fix it.

The starving cat issue was harder to solve and just a much larger issue overall. But I – and The Fox and the HOA prez, Joe – solves it outside of the property management company’s ineffective performance.

And the lease they quoted? It actually said a key to the unit and a mailbox key. Nothing about fobs. Thank god I had a front door key for the building, a copy I made of the key my old landlady gave me. Additionally, I’d never gotten the mailbox key because the owner had accidentally taken it home to Seattle with him. Just like the battery, I didn’t make a big deal of it because I use a PO Box.

But three months later, when they tried to raise my rent $100/month, I asked the question,

What have you done to support the rent increase?

Sure, it was the owner’s idea but they were his agent. It was their service that I was weighing against the rent increase ask that the market would simply not support.

Their performance came up short and I refused the increase, offering to move instead and pointing out that my old unit next door had been vacant for the entire time I lived here. They acquiesced, with a “We recommended no increase to the owner, but he insisted” reply.

Oh, okay…

Not sure how I’m a saner voice to the owner than the management company he employs…but, suuuuure.

All this came to a head in July when I paid rent through their portal.

Just like normal.

I paid on the 29th of June with a checking account draft. I learned the hard way that using my debit card versus a draft resulted in a $45 “convenience fee“…because it’s 1990 in their IT department.

BTW, their response to that complaint was

Perfectly acceptable and professional response, right?

A few days later I paid the rest of my bills via bill pay and debit card, noticing that the rent draft still hadn’t cleared.

The next business day, my usual monthly bills all cleared, but still not my rent.

Unpleasantly, the next business day a charge from Kelly’s for a couple of beers also cleared, leaving me $6 short on my rent. Damn their credit card processing company!

In a fit of “this could only happen to me” ness, my bank rejected to rent draft when it finally poked its head out of its technology shell.

This began a two week cascade of “I’ve had it with you people” ness for me as I tried to resolve the unfathomable “why would you not cover me for 6-fucking-dollars” issue with my bank and the head-scratchingly larger issue with my management company.

For whatever reason, this prompted them to audit my ledger and add in a $75 late fee for April’s rent – when I paid on the 5th of the month because I was waiting in checks to clear.

This was on top of the $75 late fee and $50 NSF fee my returned check was costing me for the current month.

I didn’t have an extra $225.

Just. Didn’t.

That’s not my lifestyle these days – and may never be again. I’m kind of ok with that compared to working for a company with a double standard. I don’t love it, but by god…it’s ethically right.

One of the other handicaps this so-called-management company’s online portal suffered from was an ability to make partial payments. Given my newer more meager financial situation, I wanted to make biweekly payments of half my rent.

Can’t.

Fine, I lived a year being super-financially-disciplined (for me) and was only late once.

I rallied.

But in July, I hit a wall. After talking to my bank, getting their overdraft fee refunded, cleaning out my – and The Fox’s – recycling closet and cashing in my coffee can of change, I had the extra $150 fees my July rent required.

I didn’t have the April “Oops, we suck at our jobs” $75. And…no partial payments, so I couldn’t pay rent.

Could I have asked The Fox or my family or just about anyone I’ve ever me to front me $75?

Fuck yeah.

But I didn’t because it was wrong – in my opinion – for them to randomly choose this moment to audit my ledger. It seemed to me that they were unnecessarily piling on in a bad situation.

It.

Made.

Me.

Angry.

Y’know, one of those pesky righteous angers that causes you to quit good jobs versus the kind that makes you fight traffic tickets when you were, in fact, speeding.

I emailed the owner.

He’d asked me in an email – after a five week process to get my AC repaired during the first heatwave of the Summer – how everything was going.

Well, my best friend let in the AC repair guy – since having to schedule ten days out resulted in them being able to do the work on a day I had to work – in for me, went home and decided to get his own AC checked out. Called a different company and was offered an appointment the next damn day, got his unit checked out and the part ordered for some preventative repairs and delivered and installed before my five week ordeal was resolved through your management company…

Seemed like an out of line response, so I let it lie and said nothing.

Like I was raised to do!

But after two weeks trying to give this company money, it was time.

And I fucking went to the mattresses.

Maybe it was a little personal. Dealing with my shelter and my money, after all. Seems kind of personal.

To the management company, it was “just business”, but because they all appear to employ the same ethics as my Trump supporting former employee…they were happy to do as little as possible to earn their money.

So I asked to speak to the manager. You want to know how I started my email to the owner?

You need to fire this management company.

Flat out. No preamble, right to the mattresses.

Then I made my case.

He got involved, told them to waive everything, I paid my rent and seethed on…dreading my next encounter with these people.

On August 2nd – two weeks later – the owner sent me an email telling me he’d put them on notice that he was taking over on September 1st. True to form, three days later, the management company sent me a letter saying as much.

I thought about replying to them. Especially given that they’d provided zero context for the change in their message.

Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving and less competent group of bastards!

That seemed like gloating. Plus, as vocal as I was about their shortcomings in each of my encounters with them, I would imagine they expected that from me.

So I withheld. My internal grumpy old man just sat back, breathes a stress-free sigh of relief and thought

How bout dat, indeed, Karen?

Take A Seat, Karen

About That Gay Agenda…

I’m not one to blindly follow someone cuz they’re a gay.

Truth be told, it’s more of a red flag to me, given the shambles of gay culture in this country.

Doubt me?

Just consider for a moment how hard it was for me to not punctuate that statement with a meme that suggests

Gay Culture is…<insert enabling or inane graphic here>

For me, whenever I see one of those memes, I roll my eyes and think, “Gay Culture was…” wistfully.

So hearing that a gay mayor was running for President conflicted me. On the one hand, finally – a gay leader.

I think the gays have mastered following. Sadly, they seem to be lining up to follow 17 year old pop stars and drag queens.

Inauspicious.

Perhaps this was a chance for them to follow someone worthy that could benefit the country more than Taylor Swift or Arianna Grande.

So, when I saw an ad for Mayor Pete on the Insta, I clicked on it to learn a bit more about him. The ad was less platform driven, more a statement of the size of the field and the struggle faced by those vying for market share in the party.

But if you donate…

And I admit, I was curious enough based on interviews I’d seen to want to see more. I mean, even watching him explain how he balanced faith, politics and sexuality left me nodding appreciatively compared to his fellow (closeted) state politician, Pence.

So I donated.

Plus, there was a bumper sticker involved if I made a donation.

So, that was seven weeks ago.

Do I have a bumper sticker?

No. No, I do not.

I mean, it’s not like I have a friggin’ bumper, but still.

To me, it would be refreshing for a homo to follow through on a commitment, so…

Anyway, I’m writing the whole thing off thusly and moving on with my life when I get an email from Petey Boy.

Alright, I’ll allow for a lil hope. Maybe the campaign tasks this out as a monthly function versus a quid pro quo process.

Fine.

Huzzah, even.

But that was three weeks ago.

Do I have a sticker?

No. Still, no, I do not.

I mean, the email didn’t specifically say it was going in the mail that day. But it also didn’t say that an inter was personally walking it over to me.

Frankly, gay sensibility being what it is, I’m worried the latter might be occurring.

In heels.

But at this point I’m kind of torn between snarkily wondering if this is an example of the ineffective government machine or just another gay guy overpromisimg, underdelivering and eventually demonstrating that the promised follow through never mattered.

Troubling.

But maybe if I make it into a joke, it won’t bother me. Clearly, that’s a strategy that’s worked so well for me up til now…

About That Gay Agenda…

The Roto-est Of Rooters

I’ll need a photo ID as well as your insurance card.

A pleasant delivery doesn’t stop me from wondering aloud from behind the Silver Fox if they wouldn’t likely have a lot of imposters showing up to an appointment like his.

My pithy posit barely merits a side eye from The Fox, but I’m accustomed to my observations being met with an occasional absence of encouragement.

Today, you see, is a certain someone’s very special once-in-a-decade doctor appointment.

The dreaded colonoscopy.

You know it’s been longer than a decade since the last time we did this, right?

That was my question as I parked.

The Fox assures me that I’m wrong, but I remind him that a decade ago I was living in Seattle.

The email I got said it was my ten-year reminder!

As if that closes the conversation. I mean, “The email said” is a far better argument than “I read it on the internet”, but it’s far from authoritative.

Still, I let it drop, wondering if perhaps I took The Fox to his first “people pay for this experience?” appointment and perhaps there was a former boyfriend that filled in for me ten years ago.

It’s not unlike my best friend to be religiously early. We jokingly call it Fox Time.

Even for this. Closing in on his sixty-eighth birthiversary, if this happened to be his third procedure, I could easily see him justifying his first at a Fox Timely 48.

Of course, the problem there is that it probably only seems like we’ve known each other two decades. Especially to him, I imagine, given that he has to put up with me and sometimes I’m a little much.

For instance, we didn’t talk so much this morning in the our first of dozens of daily texts. I just sent him this:

So I dropped the timing question. No need to unnecessarily poke the bear, as the saying goes.

Or The Fox, in this case.

Poor guy’s about to get poked enough for a while, I imagine.

Besides, there’s plenty of other topical material presenting itself. As we step into the elevator, The Fox pushes to button for the top floor.

They’re on the top floor because everyone that goes there bottoms.

I could do this all day.

I did manage not to comment on the photograph of the canal hanging in the lobby of the office.

The gaping span framing a lovely waterway bordered by blossoming cherry trees.

Anyway, before the Silver Fox is done not responding to my initial query at the check-in window as to whether this office has a lot of imposters showing up for colonoscopies – it is Portland, the kinkiest city in America – I see this:

I cant help it. My derp thoughts just appear out of nowhere and without warning.

My imagination instantly starts creating this story where a translator is called in to break the process down into gay-speak.

Gurl, I hope you brought poppers because this. is. happening. Mmm. Git it.

And with a Cher tongue, flip of the imaginary wig and snap of a paper accordion fan, the consult is over and my best friend is led off by a GoGo Boy in gold lame hot shorts.

And the next time I see him, he’ll be all doped up and rubber-legged. I do recall that from last time…it was quite amusing to see my fairly dignified bestie a little worse for the wear.

But the light at the end of the <ahem> tunnel is food!

The last words he said to me were about how hungry he was. The last words he texted to me – a few moments after being led away – were about him being one pound inside his goal weight range.

That shut me up.

You know how many back to back colonoscopies I’d have to prep for to get down to the goal weight range that I abandoned?

Lots.

The staff would probably think I had fetishized a good snaking.

Like I said…it is Portland.

Now, I’d better go before they finish up and I’m tempted to write about The Fox’s behavior while he’s sedated!

The Roto-est Of Rooters

That Moment When…

Do you ever start telling a story about “the old days” or “a classic” movie/song/what-have-you only to have your brain catch up with your mouth halfway through and realize the story you’re nostalgically telling doesn’t pass current PC muster?

Of course this happened to me.

So, I suppose this should be titled “That awkward moment when”…

There I was, at Nossa – hey, it’s Sunday…it’s what I do. Anyway, I was talking to my barista boyfriend while he made my drink and the Silver Fox found the perfect table – y’know, one that looks perfect but spills my drink when he innocently adjusts his foot. Our conversation started after The Fox asked if the tables outside were reserved for the brunch the bar downstairs hosts on the patio on Sundays.

It’s a shared space, so sit wherever you want!

I heard a chipper and enthusiastic statement but his body language had an edge to it, so naturally that was the conversational thread I chose to pull. I commented that they sure put a lot of effort into their brunch service, since they start serving at 10 and I’d been there at 8 before to see them beginning their set up.

Yeah, they don’t even open the downstairs space, they just use the patio until their regular hours.

That was kind of surprising, since Portland weather is kind of…unreliable. But on top of two-plus hours of four people setting up the patio – which I assume is mirrored on the back end for clean up – with a bar cart, racks of tableware staged at the edge of the building and a music set up – which is usually a live band; they are spending money on extras as well.

Well, like all that isn’t extra.

But they are either buying extra pub height tables and chairs to supplement the regular patio furnishing the landlord provides or they are emptying out the bar below to provide seating. On top of that, Nossa has a couple of umbrellas they usually put out to shade the tables – I think there’s eight tables normally. The first time I witnessed this brunch endeavor, the restaurant added in some orange umbrellas. Today, the umbrellas were all a nice, dark green. No red Nossa umbrellas in the mix at all.

I don’t mind, really. It brings people in…

“Yeah, but with those green umbrellas, you’re probably gonna end up with not just your customers or their customers…you’ll probably get some Starbucks customers coming in to add a really confusing third leg to your customer barstool.”

Bring ’em on!

“Oh, really…you think you can rehabilitate Starbucks customer’s palates with your good coffee?”

He looks like he makes a real effort at thinking about it for a second, then says,

Well, maybe some of them…

We both laugh at that and that’s when it happened. I was thinking about that aha moment of a Starbucks drinker experiencing good coffee and instantly questioning their previous life choices.

That was the scene that popped into my crazy head, which made me laugh even harder. I asked my Fake Boyfriend if he’d ever seen Young Frankenstein.

I think I watched it a couple of years ago at my parents’ place one Christmas.

“Of course. It’s the perfect holiday movie! Do you remember when Madeline Kahn meets The Monster?”

Yeah. Hehe. Wait, I think I do…

So, naturally I go on to describe the scene and he’s giving me, “Yeah. Yeah!” as he listens along and remembers.

Except as I’m talking, I’m starting to remember this part of the scene

Where The Monster kidnaps Madeline and how the whole “Sweet mystery of life” moment occurs while The Monster is forcing himself on her.

I’m beginning to simultaneously try and gauge the people standing nearby – because were in Portland, for crying out loud…the wrong combo of AntiFa and Feminista overhearing this could get me in real trouble – and figure out how to get out of this conversation.

And then a third thing happened.

I got mad.

This was the part that did it…

I was suddenly disgusted with the notion of framing a rape as the woman being wrong about what she wanted and coming out the other side of her assault fulfilled and awakened.

Ruined.

So, I’ve been running a B-reel argument about how “times have changed” and “it’s a comedy” with myself to help figure out whether my nostalgic feelings about this movie can survive in this woke #MeToo day and age. I told myself,

Just watch it again and make sure you’re not misremembering the context…

Nope. Can’t fall for that argument. I’m not planning on running for office, but still…can’t have Jeff Bezos tattling on me if he sees Young Frankenstein in my viewed queue.

Now I’ve given myself a headache.

That Moment When…

This Must Be Foodie Hell

What you see above is all that’s left of Portland’s biggest – and my personal favorite – food cart pod.

It’s fate has been known for the last year or so, since the owner of the lot it sat upon announced future development plans. What remained unknown was the timing as the local business press kept the curious up to speed on the plans for the site.

What came to pass was design approval for Portland’s fifth tallest building and first five-star hotel.

So, on this past May 31st the business owners at the 10th & Washington food cart pod were notified that their last day of occupancy would be June 30th.

30 friggin’ days!

What a crushing bit of news for the thousands of folk that made a meal at this pod a part of their routine.

Bad news for the businesses, too, one would imagine.

That said, there were a couple of really big unknowns accompanying the announcement.

A) who exactly this five-star tenant would be. It’s not that it wasn’t announced, it’s that no five-star hotel has expressed interest in or accepted the opportunity to partner in the finances involved in a project of this scope.

Yup, the owners of the land evicted the tenants without financing for the project. Which brings me to the larger issue here,

2) where are the displaced food carts to go?

Thirty days isn’t much time to secure a place in any of the other pods – even though Portland is crawling with pods. The thing that made this pod so successful, aside from location, was the following its carts engendered. I can’t tell you the number of times I took friends to my personal fave, Bing Mi, or recommended it to visitors from out of town.

As a matter of fact, that was how I heard of the cart in the first place!

Anyway, a few carts had used the vaguely looming deadline as a chance to find a new place and move on their own terms. The former square of outward facing food windows had started to show a few gaps, but it was far from looking like a hillbilly smile.

The end result was the same, though – come July 1st…no more pod.

During our last coffee klatch or two of June, the Silver Fox and I had discussed the rumored future for the displaced carts. It was exciting to consider since it would directly benefit us, even though the chance of happening without disruption to business as usual was exactly zero percent.

The rumor was that the city had proposed moving the pod into the Couch and Davis side streets of the North Park Blocks. Remember, the northwest quadrant of the city that I live in is called the Alphabet District because the street names are in alphabetical order. For context, The Fox and I live on opposite sides of the Park Blocks between Everett and Flanders.

Yup, the proposal from the city would land the pod one to two blocks from our homes.

The shit thing for the businesses affected is that with more harmonious planning, the city could have laid out the minimal infrastructure changes – power and traffic flow – needed beforehand while the carts were simultaneously able to notify their loyal customers of their new location.

Actually, I misspoke earlier – the city was proposing lining the actual park blocks with the carts by placing them in the parking spaces on the park side of the street facing the park itself.

The plus side here was that it would drive foot traffic into the urban park blocks, which the city considers to be underutilized. I swear, that’s bureaucratic-speak for “an increase in regular citizen traffic would probably create a decrease in urban campers”…aka: Portland’s much maligned homeless.

The side street idea was mine. It came from a couple of issues, of both my own making as well as reporting on the potential project.

The city spends a lot of money each year on planting and replanting grass in the park blocks. No sooner does the initial reseeding effort bear grass than the summer parade/festival season begin, starting with Pride and the International Beer Festival in June and ending with Art In The Park in late August. Lining the blocks with park-facing carts is just going to cause more damage to the parks.

For its part, the city seemed concerned about a loss of parking meter revenue – and parking ticket revenue, I’m sure!

For my part, I don’t care about parking revenue. I do care about where I can get my Bing Mi!

Gimme regular, uninterrupted access to a Bing Mi and nobody gets hurt.

My plan of using side streets for the carts might do nothing to reduce any parking revenue impact this proposition creates, but it has another positive impact. Namely, eliminating traffic trauma for drivers unfamiliar with Portland downtown traffic.

You see, the North Park Blocks are bordered by 8th – a one way street that runs southward – and Park – another one way street that runs northward. Most of the side streets are two way. For whatever reason, this confuses drivers and The Fox and I spend a lot of time watching drivers go the wrong way down one way streets.

It’s really quite surprising, the frequency. More so, the number of times someone realizes their mistake and corrects it by turning the wrong way onto another one way street in order to make things right.

People.

Anyway, both Couch and Davis are two way streets. Lining those blocks with carts and making them one way would allow the city to make the approach blocks one way in a manner that allowed only right hand turns onto or off of the park blocks, eliminating confusion. Looking at you, Vantucky Drivers.

Where’s my damn Nobel Prize?

But this is all in the planning stage still. A phase I’m sure will outlast the displaced carts’ ability to remain out of business. Oh, and it’s worth repeating that these carts were displaced by construction and that half of the block between Burnside and Couch is due for demolition (an old Bridgestone service center) for construction of a new apartment building in the next year-ish.

So, where are the carts in the interim?

I don’t know, exactly, however I did discover this little hiding place the other day one a walk.

We’ll get to the markup in that photo in a second. First, this…

That mural says Market of the Future. It’s decorating the street side of the parking lot those food carts are parked on.

The lot itself is the backlot of the downtown US Post Office’s sorting facility. For context you’ll need soon enough, the Post Office complex runs three blocks wide from Hoyt Street to Lovejoy Street, enveloping Irving, Johnson and Kearney Streets.

The back story there is that the city decided not to renew the government’s lease on the nine square blocks between Hoyt/Lovejoy and Broadway/9th in favor of development for housing and retail space.

Oh, and an extension of the North Park Blocks!

The US government – as a result of this eviction – proactively moved its sort facility to a new industrial development out by the airport. Now the former urban sort facility sits empty except for the walk up customer service counter and PO Boxes which basically occupies the storefront space on Hoyt between Broadway and 8th Street.

This has been the only functional part of the business for quite some time.

Long enough, actually, that one day while accompanying me on a trip to my PO Box, The Fox decided to go up to the counter and demand of the poor associate an explanation for the delay in development.

He returned with an actual explanation, stopping my smug chuckling at the futility of his mission.

It turns out, the crafty US government had written into its contract a provision which I’m sure was meant to discourage eviction by the city. Namely, if the city sought to terminate its lease, they needed to find a similar sized customer service store front with 25 parking spaces within ten blocks of the current site.

Well played, US government…well played.

Maybe 20 years ago the city could have pulled this off, including on my very block. Unfortunately, now the three abandoned warehouses on my block have been replaced with a Hampton hotel.

Most other blocks within that pre-ordained 10 block radius have already been developed. Indeed, the nine square block parcel the Post Office complex is on is the largest and nearly only undeveloped parcel within the Pearl District.

But now that the sort facility has moved, most of that parcel is derelict. There’s signs of the city trying to repurpose the space in the interim, but keep in mind that about six of the nine blocks are occupied by empty structures. The remaining three are abandoned employee and truck parking.

Cleverly, to that end:

But that is only one of the three blocks of parking. The food carts are on one of the other blocks at the far end of the parcel. From the looks of that mural, one (me) could reasonably assume that perhaps the city is planning some sort of urban market that would incorporate food carts into it.

The wrinkle here?

The mural says, “Coming summer 2019” and its approaching mid-July.

Also, Portland’s Saturday Market is practically blocks away on the waterfront. Sure, maybe this Market if the Future would be open every day…still.

Never fear, Galby is here to save the day by solving everyone’s problems.

So, back to the markup…

That “separate back building” is on the back third of the nine block parcel between Kearney and Lovejoy streets.

There’s only the teensiest little overlap of the main building with this back third of the parcel. Methinks that could be demolished and closed off with minimal impact to the remaining customer service windows located on the first third.

The paid parking in the middle block could remain operational and likely have plenty of customers on the construction crew.

Developing that back third would allow for planning a building with a ground floor retail footprint that included with it the required parking spaces so the Post Office could move, allowing development of the remaining two thirds of the parcel.

The thing is that the city didn’t know know what it wanted to do with the area. Sure, they know they needed housing solutions within the downtown core. Then the whole Amazon HQ2 thing came along.

To its credit, the city seemed to know it didn’t want that…yet knew it was expected to throw a proposal in the ring. So they did, but with tax breaks so bad they were like garlic to the tax-dodging vampire that is Amazon, ensuring we were never a serious contender.

Since then, the city has begun posting plans around the parcel – sorry for the tightness of this shot, but it’s a picture of a nine block development plan on a piece of 8×11 copy paper…

For placement context, that dark black structure is the Broadway Bridge and it’s at the northeast corner of the parcel. Broadway itself runs on the east side of the Post Office, but the bridge actually ends with Broadway forking off onto Lovejoy Street as well, which borders the north side of the parcel, or the back third that I was talking about developing first to move the whole project forward.

From the perspective of a person with virtually zero knowledge of either urban planning or construction – ignorance is so liberating! – it seems doable. Further to the upside, that back third is the only part of the project that has buildings on all three blocks. The remaining two thirds will have buildings on their outer blocks, but the center blocks will be the extension of the North Park Blocks I mentioned earlier.

The potential benefit there is that starting with the back third would mean that three of the seven blocks with buildings planned on them would be done first. That’s 43% of the construction, meaning that work would progress away from the most labor intense phase. Somehow in my mind this means less whining about construction noise from the new buildings’ residents but I’m having trouble quantifying my argument.

Something about the remaining 57% of the project being divided into fourths for the impact of the two blocks adjacent to the Lovejoy blocks and then in half again for the development of the Irving blocks in the final third phase…but I’m so distracted by my craving for a Bing Mi right now that I can’t get there.

Meanwhile, in the interim I’ve got no Bing, thousands of others are missing out on their favorite carts from the 10th & Wa pod and were in a holding pattern on both the development of the Post Office blocks and the new five star hotel.

Lose, lose, lose…how is it that when we lose things – like my favorite food cart pod – it happens quickly yet when we gain things, it comes so slowly? Rhetorical questions aside, though, with so little happening so slowly, the positives that we gain will likely feel like winning the lottery when they do finally happen.

This Must Be Foodie Hell