Stupid, Stupid, Stupid…

…say it with me, people.

Americans.

So, Disney made headlines again recently. Apparently, there’s controversy over the Snow White ride.

Disney just revamped the ride, including changing the end of the ride from the violent death of the Queen. Now it ends with a non-violent kiss from Prince Charming to break the spell that cast Snow White into an enchanted slumber.

The issue? Well, for all you tl;dr folks, there are group(s) complaining about the kiss being non-consensual.

Ok, a) wow…b) fine, sleep forever, bitch – kids gotta learn that you don’t always get what you want in life, like to be in control of your own consciousness; and c) screw feminism – because remember that this was a Queen and a witch that cast this spell on a younger, prettier woman.

So much for the sisterhood.

I’m all for consent.

Also, all in on feminism…for the wreckord. Chrisism.

But I’m also all in and for active parenting and accountability.

And that’s where this Stupid American Shark Jumping argument and I part ways.

I don’t know why I let myself be continually surprised by new achievements in unaccountability by a group whose credits include redefining the world “literally” so that we no longer have a word in the English language that literally means “literally”…but here we are. Why should I be surprised that their next trick is conflating “romance” and “rape”?

A brief timeline:

1937 – Snow White is released

1940s-60s – assorted examples of men and boys being dicks to women and girls and getting in trouble for their efforts. Think any Katherine Hepburn movie or representation in TV/movies/comics of a schoolboy dipping a girl’s ponytail into an inkwell before getting into trouble.

1990s-2000s – teachers lose the secret war parents have been waging against them, effectively turning schools into daycare facilities. Even worse, when a teacher needs a confab about a problem child with the parent(s), the parents approach the meeting more with an attitude of “I’m very busy” or “how dare you accuse my child of wrongdoing”, leading to…

2015 – Brock Turner rapes an unconscious woman at a party, he is convicted of three counts of rape and assault and is sentenced to six months in prison. He serves three months. Three.

2021 – Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo pull the mask off the problem and it’s…Disney. Who knew it was Disney’s fault the entire time.

Not shitty parenting.

Not a lack of empathy toward others.

Not selfishness.

Fucking Snow White was the problem the whole time. Anyone see that coming? Better yet, anyone follow that logic train right off its rails? Because, if you did…you probably won’t be happy reading this blog.

In completely unrelated news, virtual reality devices are slated to be the it gift – once again – this holiday season. Because instead of teaching our children about respecting others, we’re gonna give them a device to provide them a safe space to misbehave so no real people get hurt.

This fucking country.

How about this: let’s take a page out of the CSNY playbook and Teach Your Children Well!

Let’s go back to teaching consequences for one’s actions, cause and effect, critical thinking and all those high-minded concepts about living in a society. Let’s limit the amount of time kids spend playing video games where blowing shit up and killing people is the path to victory. All that seems to produce is an adult culture that can’t articulate offense or apologize for transgressions like decent human beings.

Ok, I don’t know what I did with the pic where the book was titled “The Little Engine That Literally Can’t Even”, so here’s your substitute.

There’s an answer for what’s wrong with American Culture. The problem is…good people are letting shit people get away with wagging the dog on this issue.

Why? Probably because we’ve let the shit people linger too long under the delusion that willfully being an idiot is ok in America. Compounding that misjudgment is the reality that now these same idiots are very well armed.

Greeeaaaaat…and people wonder why I’m grumpy.

Here, have some homework: over the next week, try respectfully calling out a poor behavior you witness. Let me know how that <cough, cough> cancel culture <cough, cough> – woo, excuse me! – goes for you.

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid…

Code Words

Remember when Word Up was the Code Word?

Simpler times.

The last couple days, I’ve been thinking a lot about two other Code Words: Brand and Crazy.

This thought sentence exercise was completely inspired by an old friend who reached out for help on Wednesday. She needed help with a problem that I thought I’d successfully put behind me. A problem that began seventeen years ago and I thought I’d successfully, finally shut down a couple years ago:

Sacha.

I swear, this guy comes back more than the bad guy in a cheesy slasher flick. Only this time he was coming – I should say “allegedly”, but…no – for an old colleague-turned-friend.

She needed his address to serve him with a restraining order.

Apparently, the old boy has been harassing her. Not unreasonably, she’d like that to stop.

I was struck by the word she and the two people I reached out to both used to describe his “recent” behaviors: crazy. It also occurred to me how hard that adjective would hit him, since he’s so highly protective of his brand. Like, since before a person being a brand was popular. I once described his modus operandi as “It’s better to look good than to be good”, and, well…things haven’t gone too well for us over the past decade.

I thought I’d finally shaken him a couple years back when he reached out on Messenger with this little chestnut:

Can we have a mature conversation?

Any guesses how that landed?

My first thought was, “An opener like that suggests you certainly cannot”, but assuming that my most current information on the man held up, knew that bit of insight would immediately escalate things.

But that’s how he is. He says and asks things that are so textbook Covert Narcissist. He’ll drop a question like that – and whether or not you realize it, he’s already claimed victory. If you don’t notice the twist, you’re walking right into his trap because you let him put you on the defensive by accepting his premise that he had to prime you with his all-knowing-ness about your immaturity before starting a conversation. Really, you’re so lucky that he even deigns to talk to you at all…and now you’re on guard for any of your imaginary potentially offensive behaviors.

On the other hand, if you do notice his machinations, pointing them out will simply spring his trap immediately and it’s now a snappy screaming match that you can’t get a word edgewise into. So he wins, regardless.

That being my takeaway from past dealings with him, I simply stated that my life was fine with his absence.

All my discipline earned me in response was a “👍🏽” from the little sociopath. Every now and then I wonder if he was reaching out over something important or for his usual recreational hostilities. I worry it could have been about one of his parents.

Then again, he hadn’t let me know when his grandmother died, so maybe that was too much to expect. He had called me on Christmas Day, probably six or seven years ago now, to tell me that he had colon cancer. It was a big deal, since his uncle had died from exactly that while we were together.

The difference between those scenarios – his grandmother’s or parent’s health and his own – is exactly one variable: him.

The best thing about that Christmas Day phone call? It was a big box of nothing. He didn’t want any help, he didn’t call to make things right with us…he just called for the drama paycheck.

Seriously, 364 other days of the year he could have called. He chooses Christmas Day. Maybe it was a sign of what he’d sown in his life finally bearing fruit…but I think it’s that he was alone and feeling it.

No. I know better than that. There’s a difference between being merely alone and being lonely.

For so many, the latter is crippling. Especially if you don’t like your own company.

Anyway, that’s where the word crazy kept dropping in these last few days.

He has been kind of crazy since the whole cancer thing.

Well, I’m no doctor, so I don’t know if you can catch crazy from chemo. But I am more of a Sacha Subject Matter Expert than I want to be.

What my expertise tells me is that the crazy was there all along. But since he protected his brand so well – and, hats off to his foresight in the wake of the behavioral trajectory America in general, but Gay Kulture in particular have taken – the majority of the people who come into contact with him think this is a relatively new development.

And that’s how it is, now. Do your worst, and if someone calls you out, block ’em. Ironically, people do that and think things like, “I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life” when they are unknowingly doing the victims of their narcissistic bullshit a favor…despite the fact that neither realizes it in the moment.

But that’s what ya gotta do to protect your brand. Surround yourselves with patsies at best and enablers at worst. Fuck everyone else.

For the folks that are just reaching the whole “crazy” conclusion, you just weren’t there for the conversations that led me to tell him “It’s better to look good than to be good” years before his cancer scare. If he’s crazy now, it’s not because of cancer, it’s more that you’re just now noticing. Honestly, you’re probably noticing because if he’s beat cancer, he’s feeling less vulnerable to pesky little things like “Other People’s Opinions” than his rampant insecurities ever let him feel before, so he’s masking his shit behaviors less and less.

Just a guess.

Optimistically, I wonder if he ever thinks about that conversation.

Pragmatically…I know better than to think he’d reflect on his past actions – if a deathbed scenario didn’t leave him a better person, I’m sure it only emboldened the shoddy person that was already lurking there.

Anyway, onward and upward, that’s how you build a brand, damnit! My old friend is just the most recent collateral damage.

Maybe one day our American culture will get back to where Code Words were fun again versus socially acceptable land mines for silencing anyone who dares to hold a mirror up to someone’s actions.

That’s something to look forward to, I guess…until then, I’ll just keep doing nice little gestures – like holding a door open for the glaring person following too closely behind me – and hope my small part becomes catchier than that Cameo song at the top of this post.

Code Words

The Fauci Ouchie

This is what my friend, Diezel calls the COVID vaccinations. Somehow, we became vaccination twins: our second shots both lining up on the same day.

I’ll tell you this, on the second day I’m definitely feeling the accuracy of that moniker.

First shot: nothing.

Second shot: well, I’m not sure it’s a legit malaise or my usual “my lazy ass”. I described it to Diezel as feeling like I was taken apart and forced back together.

Overall, completely acceptable side effects 29 hours in.

Which is great news for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which was a certain Bubble Boy with an itch that needed scratching. He had wanted to come over last night and had been trying to set something up since Sunday.

So, actually, he wanted to come over Sunday night.

Or Monday.

Or – please, please, please – Tuesday.

You know a boy is either hard up or sweet on a fat, old man if he’s that persistent. I hear him, though, when he complains about Grindr Gays in particular and asocial media in general – and it leads me to believe it’s the former versus the later.

Last time he’d been over – and keep in mind, this has been going on for about five months, now – he asked what the art in my bathroom was.

Not the painting of someone’s junk!

Fair point…that one is not mine, for the record fairly self-explanatory. He was talking about this one:

You’re kidding! You don’t know who REM is?!?

He was not kidding. It’s just a dumb album poster for a band, I wouldn’t call it art. But it’s something my youngest brother gave me for Christmas in the last century. He was just a kid at the time, and it meant something to me to be included in his gift giving – which came from his allowance and part-time job earnings. So I put it in a cheap little frame, which was all the rage for one’s framing needs at this point in time. It’s hung in every home of mine since.

The funny thing is that Bubble Boy always compliments my music when he’s over. Until now, I just assumed it was a statement of fact, kind of like agreeing that the sky is blue.

To be fair, that last point might be hard for Republicants to follow, since it involves science.

Once I realized he was unfamiliar with REM, I began to wonder if he liked my music like I liked my grandfather’s. Let’s just push that thought down, though, shall we?

Operating under my “Leave ’em better than you found ’em” mantra, I decided to widen his musical palate. To that end, while I was laying on the couch with a tiny and rare headache following my second shot, I decided to train a new Pandora station for his next visit.

What? I didn’t say it had to be an earth shattering improvement. Just better that they were before meeting me. Plus, music is important. It helps people <ahem> come together.

No other way I could have said that was as cringey or fun for me.

Anyway, since I was still feeling pretty good close to the end of his shift, I told him to get it while it’s (reasonably) good and he came over after work.

What? He’s chasing me down remember? I’m good if only for the simple fact that I’m available.

And I’m glad I had him over last night instead of betting on feeling better today than yesterday.

You know what didn’t friggin’ happen while he was here, though?

That damn station didn’t play a single damn REM song during his visit. Mind you, it’s on the third REM song (forth now, as I proofread) since I turned it on and sat down to tap this out.

My home network technology is kind of a jerk.

Ironically, neither Diezel nor I felt the same relief after our second shot as we did following our first doses. In texting with the Silver Fox yesterday afternoon, I shared that I thought my lack of relief was tied to a sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop as far as side effects were concerned.

As in, the legends around who experiences side effects and why had me feeling rather sure that I’d fall into the side effects realm.

Needless to say, I definitely felt some relief last night around 11. <smiling devil emoji>

Waking up to just stiffness and soreness today also provided a little more relief. I’m not taking it for granted, though. Perhaps my side effects are just running on Gay Standard Time…so I’ll reserve final judgment until tomorrow night.

Plus, on the full protection spectrum, I know I’ve got another 12 days to full efficacy. I’m sure Bubble Boy won’t mind that I don’t have a lot of other social engagements to distract my attention from the maintenance needs of his libido for the near future.

Dying from COVID: meh

Dying in the service of a 29 year old’s hormones: <thumbs up emoji>

Keep your fingers crossed that this barely noticeable side effects trend continues.

The Fauci Ouchie

The C.R.S. Chronicles #4

A while back, I posted something about one of my favorite drums to beat: Stupid Americans.

I had this list of petty and not-so-petty grievances that I wanted to talk about. However, in a love child like twist of my own stupidity and C.R.S. when it came time to enumerate them…I forgot.

Well, guess what?

I remembered!

In retrospect, it was quite an impressive forget. The subject is a series of radio ads whose point seems to be preventing the dumbest among us from dragging down our life expectancy numbers.

Looking at you, here, all men everywhere.

Yeah, I forgot a radio campaign that I probably hear two dozen times a week.

At the time of the original post, the subject of this Public (dis)Service Announcement was not leaving babies in cars.

For what it’s worth, I’m all for protecting babies. Especially from stupid parents. That’s why my vote goes to vasectomizing all men at whatever time is appropriate. Pretty sure that means puberty versus birth, which is too bad, they could just do the vasectomy at the same time that they – unpopular opinion warning – rip off that fucking foreskin.

Because, who are we kidding…you think people who had to be retail Hy as an adult how to wash their hands properly last Spring are taking the time to properly clean a foreskin?

Hell, since I’m on a rant – and I think I’m right about waiting until puberty – let’s just CRISPR out the appendix and foreskin and then it’s smooth sailing til puberty. Actually, are we still that attached to toenails?

Food for thought. Sure, it’s junk food, but…🤷🏽‍♂️

<end rant>

Back to the point.

The ads were paid for by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA.

Look what even shows up in my Instagram ads!

In the pot roast baby ads, they dramatically underemphasize – to get dumb people to keep listening – the stupidity behind the need for this ad. Suggesting things like “maybe the day care is closed today” or “normally your spouse drops the kiddo off in the morning” before going on to how a poor, innocent adult person might understandably get out of their car, lock it and walk away without realizing they left their child in it.

Y’know, basically infantilizing the parents instead of screaming, “Hey, fuckwads! Don’t forget to take your STDs kids out of the car with you when you get out!”

The real zinger here? This line:

Every year, dozens of children die after being left in a hot car”

<needle skip>

Dozens?!?

You’re telling me that our – not you, Donald – tax dollars paid for a national radio ad campaign for an issue that presumably doesn’t even impact an average of one innocent child per state? Not to mention that these are the folks who made us start putting child seats in the back seat anyway. If they’d just left well enough alone and let these dumbass parents put their onboard babies in the front with them…problem avoided.

Not that that’s a superior alternative, I’m just pointing out the irony.

Having potentially saved dozens of kids last Summer and Fall – and who am I kidding, we probably have to prorate that number downward to account for the partial year that the ad ran – they’ve now changed focus.

The new campaign is…

Don’t try and out run a train at railroad crossings!

Oh, just come on now!

Having saved the babies of unfit parents, they’re now trying to save the soon to be absentee fathers? For what it’s worth, I’d bet you could solve both problems by not intervening in Darwin’s realm where the dads’ lives and trains are concerned.

Let there be more lives that end unceremoniously with the words

Hey, watch this!

…and let’s just see if that fixes the whole baby pot roast thing.

It’s far less invasive than “vasectomies for everyone”! But I think we should keep that one on deck.

The C.R.S. Chronicles #4

The Red Shirt Diaries #31

COVID vaccine!

So…Tuesday is the big day. Shot #2.

I only know one person personally who has had a bad reaction to the vaccination. That said, cocktail napkin mary suggests there’s a 50/50 chance at any given person having a bad response.

Obviously, the odds are against me, given my relatively unscathed friends and family.

This has been weighing on me. Specifically, how do I plan my last day of unvaccinated life?

Should I be responsible and get some driving done – which I would normally do on Mondays, anyway – I’m case I have a bad reaction and end up going down for a day or more?

Or, using some sort of Xtopher-style inverse logic, should I go out in a figurative blaze of glory? Maybe hit a casino or take myself out for some beers?

Decisions, decisions…

And, tipping the scale completely over, Bubble Boy started texting this afternoon. He wants to know when he can see me again. Responsibly, I told him Tuesday, so long as I wasn’t impacted by the shot.

I know he wanted me to say tonight or tomorrow, but…get used to disappointment, Bucko.

Two is enough options for me to vacillate between.

Getting ready to hop into bed, I cannot tell you which way this will go down. Waking up will bring a whole new adventure.

But in true Red Shirt style, my house will be clean by the time that needle goes into my arm on Tuesday…just in case I manage to buck the trend and spontaneously kick the bucket.

Wish me luck! Or…y’know, weigh in on how you’d spend your last day amongst the living.

The Red Shirt Diaries #31

Groceries With Galby

Some have infamously noted that I possess the palate of a seven year old.

I might say I’m simply a victim of my own lack of planning, spontaneity and the resulting impatience that the hunger those qualities engender.

Let’s ease you into this…

Gross Out:

Because I don’t know when I shop on Tuesday what I’m going to want on Friday, I’ve learned to just shop more frequently. Odds are, if it sounds good Tuesday, I’ll probably still have a taste for it Wednesday. No guarantees beyond that.

Therefore, I’ll shop Grocery Outlet for staples like wine shelf stable pantry items. That way, they are there when I have a hangry moment and don’t have time to spare to run to Freddy’s, Safeway or the lil Brodega across the street.

Nonetheless, since being urged to eat more veggies and fiber, I’ve been making an effort to have a salad several times a week. Gross Out has the same salad kits as the big chains, usually for a buck less (we’re talking $3 versus $4 at the chains), so I’ll pick up three or four when I pop in for wine other supplies.

The other day, though, I went specifically to grab a couple bottles of wine Caesar salad kits to go with my pizza leftovers from Wednesday night. I’d gotten a Caesar with the pizza, but ate it all, worried that the concoction wouldn’t age well once the dressing was on…and I’m a weird one with leftovers, so just accept that was my logic and be happy I’m eating salad.

I pop back to produce, breaking the Gross Out rule of hitting every aisle so you don’t miss a deal, avoiding the wine department temptation and intent on my mission.

Plus, it was past Myrtle’s dinner time.

When I hit the produce corner, I see that I’ve also hit the jackpot. There are several “Reduced For Quick Sale” options. But, hey…I made a point of stopping here to save a literal buck, so I decided I could do a chop salad instead on a Caesar and save another literal buck.

Right?

Save $2 on two salads: good

Save $4 on two salads: great!

I’m beating feet back up front and my inner seven year old palate demon steers me down the pasta aisle.

Maybe there’s Mac & Cheeeeese!

Ugh.

Fine.

Luckily, the Velveeta Deluxe that was 2/$1 were long gone, which made me sad but happy. A good deal is a good deal, but I’m not paying for my eventual coronary by saving $4.49 on a box of food I shouldn’t be eating anyway…Plus, I still had a dollar’s worth at home. Plus-plus a box of some strange broccoli added version that I’d picked up last time…

Proud of my situationally forced ability to resist temptation, I remained on mission. Until

Look, I’m just a man with a child’s tastes, ok? I haven’t had Velveeta in probably 20 years. And it’s not like I’m going to eat this like a college kid would – by peeling it like a banana and going to town.

I’m getting some damn crackers and a good bottle of wine. Because adults compensate.

Speaking of college kids…

GoPuff:

These bastards.

They are my new Stoner Cafe.

And they most certainly have my number are out to get me.

Usually I can ignore their marketing emails. Generally, they are either of the “redeem points and save” variety or the “Ben & Jerry’s BOGO” variety.

Admittedly, that last type is harder to ignore.

But then I saw one that was too intriguing to resist.

Something like, “Try Something New For A Nickel”. Let’s be honest, I think we can all agree that my seven year old palate is not adventurous. But for a nickel, I could explore.

Especially when the “something new” ends up being spiked seltzers! I’m not sure how they got this promotion past the iron fisted OLCC, but I jumped on $.20 worth of a new seltzer called Basic. The flavors sounded…safe fine.

Not wanting to look like a cheapskate, I figured I should order something else. Since it was right there in my “Buy It Again”, I added a 12-pack of White Claw.

New problem: now I just look like a booze hound.

So I added in some energy drinks. Since they didn’t have my go-to brand/flavors in stock, I – wait for it – tried a new drink called G.O.A.T.

I could live with the delivery person assuming I was on a liquid diet.

Now, a Pro-Tip: when putting away your “groceries” do not put energy drinks between alcoholic beverages.

That was a close fucking call this morning.

So, despite the opening assertion, I’d dare say that I’ve somehow refined this seven year old palate that I seemingly possess.

Crackers and wine with my cheap cheese?

Boutique spiked seltzers and energy drinks?

I should have a Pinterest page for my culinary embarrassments…

Groceries With Galby

Down Day

Despite what my brain says, my body is in complete disagreement over whether or not 4 is enough hours of sleep for a night.

Therefore, methinks today will be a down day.

Since I’ve been awake since around 4 AM, I’ve already done my news and social media scrolls. I’ve also dropped Angela off at the garage to get her malfunctioning e-brake fixed. <fingers crossed> I also have had quite an amusing comment thread conversation with another blogger about the state of disrepair that is currently passing for Gay Kulture and had a farewell coffee with the Silver Fox.

That might be the sum total of my accomplishments for the day. Plenty, it would be, too.

You’d actually think I could have gotten Angela into the garage right when they opened at 7, having had three hours by that time to muster myself. But they said “Drop ‘er off anytime between 7 and 9” and I set my target at 8 AM and saw no reason to deviate from that plan, despite my treasonous body’s somnambulistic misbehavior.

Wow. I can’t believe I nailed the spelling of somnambulistic on the first try.

Anyway, this being my life, when I got in the car to drive down to the garage, I hit a fresh surprise. Instead of my “Emergency Brake Malfunction” alert going off, my “Low Tire Pressure” light went off.

It’s good to switch these minor crises up. But the tire pressure issue is a problem for Les Schwab. Potentially…it might just be a factor of temperature, cold night following a hot day. Plus, I can inflate a tire myself.

As a matter of fact, when my consultant asked if there was anything else they should look at, I wanted to tell him I’m due for an oil change, since they can reset the on board computer and Oil Can Henry’s cannot, but the latter is about 40% cheaper, so I can put up with just letting the real mechanics reset the OBC every other oil change.

I also wanted to tell him that I’m getting an intermittent “Low Beam Malfunction” warning for my driver’s side head light. That’s really just punishment for me cheaping out when I had my passenger side headlight replaced a few months back and not doing both at the same time.

That’s Car-ma for ya.

Instead, I just told him

Let’s start with the e-brake and see what you leave in my bank account first.

Surprisingly, that garnered a chuckle.

I really should take these guys some doughnuts one of these days. They’re good folks.

Anyway, I mentally budgeted $500 for this repair – as if that will have any effect on whatever reality is to be. But if they can come in at or under that, then I’ll pull the trigger on the headlight and probably the oil change, too.

We’ll see.

I actually think I really need this down day…for a variety of reasons. I can feel my surliness levels rising – probably because of normal daily frustrations building up and my Low Liquor Level Light mentally going off because I have been drinking less…despite what you might think in a few paragraphs.

Knowing that today would probably be a day off from driving – even though I typically like to do a Wednesday shift, I went out yesterday for a few rides.

It turned into a literal few, too. Even though I went to the can before I got in the car, by the end of the second ride, I was doing a mental pee-pee dance. By the end of the third ride, I was ready to frantically point my car toward home.

Despite that close call, I felt guilty for not finishing my usual 10 rides, so after booting around the house for an hour or so, I went back out to wrap the day up. Aspirationally, I was thinking I’d stretch to 15.

The reality was two. I managed just two more rides before hitting my mental “fuck it” button.

I was still a little crunchy about my earlier rides, after a promising start with a long ride that I picked up about five blocks from home, my next two rides had been 15-20 minute pick ups. Neither of those rides was longer than six minutes, cumulatively they totaled 10 minutes. And no one was tipping.

The second shot at driving was similarly frustrating. Although, for a less surprising reason: traffic. I’m not sure who the Stupid American was that ruined it for everyone else yesterday, but I know where they lived.

Vantucky.

Sometime around 3:00, someone completely fucked up all of the Oregon-tax-dodging, Portland-job-stealing Vancouver folks’ commute home by getting into a wreck on the 205 bridge.

I noticed it during what turned out to be my fifth and final ride of the day when I didn’t get on 205 to get to a hotel by the airport. I knew something was wrong when the navigation app kept me on surface streets all the way there, and I could see that immediately when the app steered me away from the usual airport route.

To be clear, it’s not unusual for GPS to keep me off 84 at that time of day because it’s always a shitshow for the afternoon commute. It’s the crosstown freeway between the 5 and the 205, so everyone that lives on the east side of Portland or Vancouver uses it.

Poorly.

But when I stayed on surface streets – and we’re talking some real backwater roads, not the normal surface street airport routes, I knew I was a focacta situation.

Still, being that close to the airport, I hoped to snag an airport passenger for a ride back into town.

And I got one! A Lux ride, too!

…that was a 52 minute pick up.

Digging a little deeper, it wasn’t the airport passenger I’d been hoping for. It was a Vantuckian who was directly across the river from me – about a 10 minute ride, under normal circumstances.

I’m loathe to reject a ride. It’s not what I’m out there for. But 50+ minutes of sitting in traffic with these folks for what would very likely turn out to be a ride to a convenience store for some smokes for some lazy bastard – seriously, that was my last Vancouver Lux ride…during the snow storm a couple months ago – just wasn’t worth it.

Especially not when it was the last day of the 20% off wine case sale at Gross Out and the two Rosés I’d bought had both passed muster with The Fox. And I was just a few blocks away from a Grocery Outlet!

So I declined the ride and went and bought a case of each. I got both cases for a total of $75, and that should set us up for our Rosé On The Roof into, if not through, June.

Don’t think of it as “spending $75”, spin it as “saving $220″!

And if Angela’s repair comes in at $220, I promise you I will not be the least bit surprised…because that’s just about how weird my life is.

Down Day

I Can’t…Please Don’t Ask.

So, this landed in my Lyft app yesterday.

Here’s a more detailed explanation from the drill down

Basically, you give 114 rides, you get a $182 bonus. Not super great, it’s about $1.50/ride on top of whatever the driver’s fare share, tips and any surge bonuses are for each ride. But, once you hit that 114th ride, you are eligible for a second tier bonus of $70 on your next 21 rides. That’s more like an extra $3.25/ride…that is kinda something.

Let me just start out at the top here by saying that there will be earnings numbers in this post. That does not mean that they are typical. Far from, to be honest. But as the Silver Fox likes to encourage me, these are examples of “making hay while the sun shines”.

So don’t hit me up for any loans.

I usually give somewhere in the 40-50 ride range per week. It takes me about 20-25 hours.

But, since the new year, I’ve raised my weekly financial goal by 50%. I figure, if I’m not going back – read: being asked back, also known as “hired” – to professional work, I may as well support myself with my driving income versus bankrupting my future.

For instance, here’s my breakout from the last week, which ended Sunday.

You might notice I hit – exceeded, actually – my financial goal in the 65 rides I gave. And that was in only 22.5 hours.

Crazy.

What was also crazy is that I felt guilty about taking time off – more on that in a sec – last week, so started off Friday with a bang

It was also the first time I’ve ever seen this

…so, oops, I guess? Even though that 12 hour day was split up over two drive shifts – morning and evening – hitting that 12th hour and rounding my way to 13 became a no drive zone.

Anyway, most of those earnings were a combination of surge bonuses and Lux rides. Usually, I feel lucky to get one Lux ride per driving shift, Portland just isn’t a Lux market. Seattle, now that I could see being a Lux market. Much more image conscious – with the excessive compensation to bankroll their brand building tendencies, too, that lot.

But that first part, the surge bonuses, that’s pushing people to Lux…for the value.

It’s crazy. Have I mentioned how nuts this feels?

With the enhanced unemployment that gig workers were allowed to dip into last Spring, many drivers have opted not to drive in lieu of free money and reduced COVID risk. Originally, they were given around $1200/week. Now it’s more like $900/week, a big drop from almost $5k a month, for sure.

But it’s still $3600/month to do nothing! Last year, I’d say my “take home” averaged about two-thirds that number. Not free money, mind you, but I felt very little time or effort was required.

This unemployment potential means that there aren’t a lot of drivers on the road. That creates surge pricing and long wait times for standard Lyft cars. Since I have a BMW, I can get either standard or Lux rides or opt for only Lux rides. Doing both, I can usually expect 2-4 rides per hour, depending on the length of each ride, versus about one ride per hour if I toggle over to Lux only.

That means in many cases currently when demand is high, it’s cheaper – and oftentimes faster – to call for a Lux.

And it’s not just Lyft that is struggling to get drivers on the road. Uber is having a rough <ahem> road of it, too. On Friday night I picked up a couple women around closing time (ok, that sounds seedy) at a bar in close-in SE. They were doing a split Lux ride, dropping one off about 18 blocks away from the bar and the other pretty deep in North Portland’s St John’s neighborhood. That’s where this iconic Portland bridge lives

…and it’s pretty hard to get to. It’s a freeway ride to almost the state line and then a long potholed surface street journey into the bowels of NoPo.

The St John’s passenger told me that just her ride home with Uber was $120, so they checked Lyft and with the slightly out of the way drop off of her friend, it was still less than 2/3 the Uber rate.

So, why am I mad? Well, I’m not. Not precisely.

I love driving and chatting with people and being “in service” to them. I call it my social paycheck, but really, it’s filling in a void I wasn’t prepared for after inadvertently leaving my retail career.

It’s funny, the things you miss. Funnier that these realizations caught me so off guard.

However, not being mad aside, I only drove Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week. I intentionally took off Monday through Thursday because I was tired.

Also, the Silver Fox was in town getting his second COVID vaccination…but that’s not the point!

I had just come off another challenge week the day before The Fox came up to town. That challenge was three tiered versus this week’s two tiers: 95 rides/$118 + 10 rides/$50 + another 30 rides/$84, for a total of $252 in ride bonuses for 135 rides.

Same number of rides and bonus potential as last week, they are just making us work for that first carrot.

Of course, this being my life, my 135th ride on the last challenge week ended in BFE. Me being loathe to drive home for free when I could get paid to drive home, switched my app to Destination Mode and caught another ride to my neck of civilization.

After 136 rides in almost 50 hours, I needed the rest. But I’d low key wanted to nail one of these challenges for over a year. With the Silver Fox out of town, I really had no excuse. Actually, I was a little mad that it took this long, but it was more bad timing than prochristination.

I swear!

But here’s the humble brag receipt:

And there were cash tips that aren’t showing in those numbers.

Yeah, if anyone with no skills beyond being able to operate a motor vehicle is looking for a job that pays $125,000 a year…I’ve got a hot tip for ya.

I do not want to earn that much. Well, honestly, I don’t want to work 50-plus hour weeks anymore. Thirty years of that bullshit was plenty.

Ergo, I’ve happily arrived at a point where my three ~10 ride days a week plus my long Friday, which I call either a double or a triple since it usually lands between 20 and 30 rides, sustain me. Added bonus: my favorite local station has a Friday night program called Party Out Of Bounds that is all 80s & 90s music from 8-midnight.

Yes. Please.

Wait…have I gotten around to why I’m mad/not mad yet?

It’s just too soon, this week’s challenge! I don’t know if it’s based on a preplanned calendar or in response to driver census in a certain area or something else altogether, but it seems this type of thing only happened a few times last year. Every other month, at most.

Every other week? Twice a month?

So much! Stop throwing money at me…I’ll respond!

But the retail manager in me – that apparently won’t die – wants to meet or exceed goals set by my employer. Even though Lyft’s technically not my employer in this relationship…when they call, I tend to answer.

If I get home after my 10 rides and my app tells me ride demand is high, I might sign back in for another five rides or so. Especially if they’re throwing surge bonuses onto rides – one of my rides this past Saturday included a $31 surge bonus. For one lousy ride! But generally, the surge bonuses are more in the $1.50-$4 range.

Nevertheless, my concern here is that even with the Silver Fox in town again yesterday and today, Angela going into the shop on Wednesday and a get together with Bubble Boy Thursday…I don’t really have the time to answer this call.

But I bet I end up trying.

Just watch.

Apparently, you can take the boy out of retail, but you can’t take the retail out of the boy.

I Can’t…Please Don’t Ask.

But, but…

…I don’t even want to run or hide.

Seriously, did who ever coined the phrase, “You can run, but you can’t hide” ever consider this scenario?

Because, honestly, I want to run toward this particular menace.

As per my usual, I spent some time in bed this morning, reading the news and emails. Two of those emails were business newsletters.

One featured a story about how McDonalds was pulling its presence from Walmart stores. The plan was to go from 1000 restaurant-in-a-store locations to a mere 150. That story went on to asked the question:

What should replace the Golden Arches?

Of course, my mind said “Chipotle, duh.” Like I go to Walmart.

The other was headlined:

Free Chips

…but those ended up being microprocessors from a story about the chip supply chain shortage that is hindering production in the states, and across the globe from the sound of it. But my mind immediately went to Chipotle’s unique signature chips when I saw it.

Then, there’s this email from just before 10 this morning.

…so, that’s helpful.

And I swear that I saw Chipotle ads when I was doing my social media scroll after reading the news.

What the eff?!?

But I’ll show them. Tempt me and I will succumb.

I’m only a man, after all.

But I’m a grumpy old man, so when I cave, I’m going to a local burrito joint.

So.

There.

But, but…