I Am

Therefore, I am bothered.

For the last five weeks, if not longer, I’ve been mainly stuck at home. Outside of FaceTime, Messenger and Zoom and the Virtual Happy Hours they provide, my main source of socialization is Mistress Myrtle.

So I’ve been listening to a lot of Pandora and Spotify.

Since I’m a broke ass ho’, I have the free versions – which means I hear ads.

Side note: I don’t feel bad about not being a paid subscriber – I’m assuming they make more marketing to me than they would off of my – what…$30 annual subscription?

Anyway, I’ve been hearing this ad since day one of lockdown

And I’m really all for it, just like the freeway reader boards that have no congestion or accidents to report, so now they read

Stay Home, Save Lives

Fine.

I’m good with all that. Because we need to hear it, obviously.

That last one…goddamn, that’s hilarious.

But what I’m not fine with is them not making sense.

This ad I’ve been hearing listening to all this time, makes a great point. Up to a point

Here’s the deal, the ad states that:

  1. If we don’t stay home, as many as 1.4% of Oregonians could die
  2. The average Oregonian knows six hundred people
  3. That means five people I know could die from Miley Cyrus Coronavirus
  • Ok, well…first, I think 1.4% is on the low side, outside of math.
  • Second, I’ve got a list of at least five people that could please up and do my world a favor.
  • Third – and I think this is most important:
  • Five is not 1.4% of 600, so…what gives?
  • It’s 8.4, which I’d actually be really sad about even if it was rounded down to 8.
  • Every time that damn ad comes on I just want to call someone and demand an explanation. But, since I need to run to the Rx and it’s pouring outside, I’m dumping this complaint here and hope that helps it stop making me crazy.
  • I mean, seriously…if I wanted half-assed information, there’s FaceBook and Fox News.
  • But since I’m now at the point where I’ve muted someone on FaceBook for 30 days to see if that makes me less nuts than trying to talk sense to stupid Americans like her – maybe that’s another blog, we’ll see – or if I just have to unfriend her remains to be seen.
  • Maybe it just means I have to subscribe to a Pandora or Spotify…
  • I Am

    BTW: Milestones!

    This is my 502nd post. I got this last week

    And this the week before…

    So it’s been a big month for me on WordPress.

    But in realizing I forgot to post about said milestones, I was also surprised at how people find my blog. Even when – no, especially when I’m idle for a while. In checking my stats after posting about the odd things I collect, I noticed a bunch of clicks on old posts.

    Like really old.

    Turns out, some of them were the result of the following search prompts:

    I don’t know if that’s all three clicks from whomever in Japan or maybe it is a combination of the two clicks from the U.S. and the U.K. Who knows, really? I do know it wasn’t the Aussie clicks, I know who that shy guy is. He doesn’t come around enough, but when he does, I’m glad to see him. 😉

    Anyway, I am tempted to recreate that search – on Google and Yahoo, since I was reached through searches on both. I want to see just how many pages I have to scroll through before my blog pops up.

    I’m assuming the full search term was:

    Welcome to Oregon, don’t stay

    At the end of the day, it’s been a great ride.

    Out of those 502 posts, I collated several into a self-publishing practice book

    Which wouldn’t have been possible without this blog and the confidence you readers have helped me develop while finding my voice. I’m a sloppy writer, preferring the title Storyteller over Author, but I’ve been fortunate enough to to create two books around the characters I’ve created and have a third in the works right now.

    I’ve learned quite a lot along the way – and saved hundreds of hours in therapy – thanks to this blog.

    And, mostly, thanks to the followers. I’m grateful for you.

    BTW: Milestones!

    Weird Accumulations

    Do you ever look around your home and think to yourself, “I got some weird shit around here”?

    No?

    Just me?

    I really do doubt I’m alone in this. However, as I have begun looking at my place with a more critical eye, things are jumping out at me.

    Not a more critical eye…maybe more of a “What if?” eye.

    Y’know…what if I died?

    Ok, yeah. I’m pretty sure that one is just me. But the end result is I’m cleaning house a bit. A couple of disclaimers first:

    1. My home exists suspended in the moments following Thanos’ snap. Do not judge my inability to keep up with that level of dusting.
    2. I’ve typically been a purger throughout my fagabond (Chrisism) adult life.
  • That being said, aside from clothes I can no longer fit into nor emotionally part with yet, most of my clutter is just minutia. But I think that’s what will make whoever clears out the physical wake of my existence scratch a hole right into their head.
  • In no particular order, here is my crazy:
  • Random Coinage:
  • I have no idea where some of these are from. Whether I brought them home during my travels or picked them up as loose change without realizing I’d been given foreign currency until the CoinStar rejected it. But I’ve got them if I need them.

    Match Books:

    Some of these have moved with me to multiple residences, if not even multiple states. The Ripples matchbook has been to Florida, Texas, back to Cali, Oregon, Washington and then back to Oregon. They are scattered throughout my home. As a matter of fact, I got those Quark matches in Las Vegas at…Quark’s, the restaurant inside Star Trek: The Experience. I bought a box of them back in…2001? There is a book of Quark’s matches in every room.

    Still.

    Wine Corks:

    Because – duh.

    Keys:

    Three of those are currently in use. Two others are for my Key Buddy.

    I have at least three house keys from former residences as well as three more from people’s homes that I used to be either a Key Buddy for or a dog walking pinch hitter for – or both.

    Nuts & Bolts:

    Ok, I keep these around as both objets as well as mementos. But back in 90s LA, we used to have our own version of the 70s Key Parties. We called them Nut & Bolt Parties and that’s all I’m saying about them.

    Fortune Cookie Fortunes:

    I have no explanation. Other than the obvious:

    Ticket Stubs:

    Hey, the memory is going…

    And…honorable mention – which you may have noticed in a few pics above:

    Fingernail Clippers!

    I don’t have a set in every room, but I think the several I have in random jacket pockets hanging in my closet makes my per room average about 2 – and that’s including my car as a “room”.

    So…what crazy shit do you accumulate?

    Weird Accumulations

    Does This K Make Me Look Fat?

    I’d forgotten about this…achievement with everything else going on.

    Maybe that means I’m losing my competitive edge not being around other people. One thing I’ve noticed, having indulged in video chats with family and friends lately – ok, sure…I call them Virtual Happy Hours, but let’s call that Social Distancing Lubrication – is that we have to wait our turn to talk.

    Tech limitations being what they are – or maybe my laptop is old – the speaker/microphone tend to be something of a one trick pony. If you’re talking, you can’t hear, so if you want an actual conversation, you have to actually stop and listen.

    Bad news for these people who say they can do both, all they’re gonna be “hearing” while they talk over someone else is themselves.

    Perhaps that’s truly their deep-seeded happy place. Maybe now is when they’ll realize it. Or maybe they will realize it and come out of this better – actual – conversationalists.

    For my part, someone bothers to set up a VHH and then pulls that with me, I’ll turn the screen toward my sink and let them watch me drink wine and wash dishes while they conversationally masturbate.

    Now…what was I talking about?

    Oh, yes. Competitive edge.

    Soon after I started driving with Lyft last summer, I became aware of the fact that Lyft was a sponsor for Portland’s MLS team, the Timbers.

    It’s kind of a big deal around here.

    I noticed this when they ran a story on their blog about sending a featured driver to the match as a form of recognition. That sounded cool. I have actually never been to a match – they are harder to get into than Elton John’s post-Oscar party and I can easily drink better expensive beer elsewhere, so…<shrug emoji>

    But this sounded kinda like just my type of goofy fun.

    Then I read the present featured driver had 5000 rides and a 5-star rating.

    Ok, well, it seemed like I was gonna be logging a few miles before I got to his level. Plus, I’m aware that I can come off as quite a unit when I get going about something, so wasn’t expecting to maintain a 5-star rating long.

    Don’t even talk to me about that 98% Acceptance Rate. Sore subject…

    But, now you see the “K” I was referring to in the post title.

    It really only took about 7 months, and that’s driving ~25 hours a week. Of course, I should have hit it a couple weeks earlier…thanks, Coronavirus.

    An unexpected perk – and another way Lyft builds in recognition in their be-your-own-boss work environment is to award swag when you hit milestones. However, since my swag threshold kinda peaks at “sticker”, I didn’t pay much attention to this accomplishment/reward. My experience is that branded merch is pretty schlocky, so I tune it out.

    Not that I was ever a smoker, but remember those jackets you could redeem your “points” for from cigarette brands like Marlboro or Camel? Yeah, that’s the image I have of employer branded clothing.

    So, when I checked my PO Box yesterday and found a key to a package locker, I was completely surprised.

    Even more surprised at how surprised I was that I forgot something like this.

    I don’t know why that would have surprised me at all.

    But it was a cute little experience, taking this package home and being surprised again and again and again at the level of care they seemed to put into sending me this little moment of recognition in a fairly anonymous work environment.

    Seriously, that’s the inside of the lid. There was a note that was printed in a hand-written font by someone with an easy to make dirty name – think “Mulva” or “Bipple” – so I didn’t put that on blast here. The jacket itself was wrapped in a silver tissue with a 1K sticker holding it closed.

    Really, all this for a jacket I won’t wear?”

    But the last surprise – ok, second to last – was that I found the damn thing to be not only my style, but tastefully done, too!

    Nothing too garish. A current tech fabric style.

    Nice.

    Oh, and that last surprise?

    It fit.

    I asked for a Large, aspirationally. I’ll reluctantly admit that I’ve been apathetically resigned to XL lately, and they just do not fit my frame well.

    Luckily, iSolation has provided me with no excuses to procrastinate exercise lately, so my Large closet is getting less of a stretch lately, and this fit. Well, the arms are almost too short, which is normal for my gangly assed frame.

    So, call this grumpy old man pleasantly surprised.

    Plus, Myrt got something out of it, too.

    For all those times dinner was late because I was driving…

    Now, if I ever get back to driving, I can work on those Timbers tickets!

    Does This K Make Me Look Fat?

    We Need A Flood

    You’d think a little forced iSolation would be just the thing to keep an old grump like me happy. Or at least quiet.

    But, no. Even in the end times, I can find something to kvetch about.

    Ok, ok…somethings.

    At least I had to put more effort into it this time than simply opening the Facebook like the last time I aired out a good ire here on WordPress.

    This time, I had to go all the way to Gross Out to write off the chances for humanity.

    Hey, I heard there was a wine sale.

    I had to get up and go out, anyway. The Silver Fox had snuck back into town to clean out his remaining supplies and thought he’d forgotten a bag on the counter. Turns out, he’d forgotten to pack the bag, which gave us both a good chuckle.

    He’d lured me out by innocently mentioning crackers – not knowing I’d been craving them. For my efforts, I Kramer-ed said crackers and tipped myself his pesto.

    So, now in addition to wine, I needed some cheese. Don’t worry, mom…I was also out of broccoli and salad kits and had those on my list, too.

    As if the disappointment of arriving and seeing no wine sale signs wasn’t enough, the other shoppers were apparently willing to bend over backward to drive my regret home.

    It all started out so promising, too. They had set up a DeCon station outside for people to wipe down their carts before beginning. Even though there was a cute guy there doing just that, I grabbed my cart by the horns and went right in without lingering.

    I think I already mentioned how easy it is to screw up DeCon, so I make my concessions for cleanliness and accept the risk of going out during a pandemic. Also, I made a mental note to observe this guy shopping. Sure enough, no gloves and no wipes inside.

    But he put on a good show of Pandemic Correctness and was easy enough on the old peepers.

    Aside from the DeCon set up outside, I was impressed that Gross Out was taking Social Distancing seriously and had laid down directional arrows to make aisles one-way. That effort reduced the amount of passing traffic in the aisles, making it easier to have a 6 foot space between shoppers.

    Or should have.

    Fucking idiots.

    Like, if they put some effort into their cluelessness, they could reach the level of disdain I generally have for the garden variety stupid Americans our country churns out…folks who aren’t really dumb, just oblivious.

    As I’ve observed on many occasions in the past, though,

    There is no bar so low that an American can’t climb under it.

    That needs to be on the Statue of Liberty. New Colossus can find a new home.

    Fine.

    New Colossus can stay, but I should at least get billboards for my slogan.

    Or needlepoint pillows…

    Anyway, the jokers I was shopping with were ignorantly pointing their carts whichever direction they pleased, arrows be damned. Then they were standing around talking.

    With the people in their shopping group. I looked at them like, “Can’t you talk in the car on the way home?” Or at least talk and walk?

    No.

    For the solo shoppers randomly careening through the market, I considered offering them the opportunity to lick me in order to truly avail themselves to my available germs, but decided against it.

    I did allow myself a couple opportunities to glare at oncoming shoppers and then look pointedly at the nearest floor arrow before getting out of the way of some of my fellow shoppers.

    That’s when it hit me.

    These people oblivious to the establishment’s efforts to protect their customers (from themselves, as it turns out) were the same customers that were wearing gloves and masks. I even saw one person wearing protective goggles.

    I knew goggle-guy was just a stupid American and not a weird Portland denizen because they weren’t ski goggles.

    Surely, these numbskulls weren’t all symptomatic and venturing out. No, they knew. Like some kind of Hillbilly Scout Troop had taught them to prepare for people dumber than themselves.

    So, there I was, suddenly feeling vulnerable to all these people who protected themselves from others with the same uncommon sense as their own.

    That’s when I thought a plague from a vengeful god wasn’t enough. We needed a flood.

    These yahoos might be able to hoard handiwipes and masks, but let’s see how long their lawn chair flotilla protects them from raging floodwaters.

    Actually, I’d probably be taking gulps – at least of wine – if a flood came. I bought enough groceries for 10 days – although I’m not sure how my wine stock will hold out – so I don’t have to venture back too soon. By the way, that’s about 10x what I normally buy when I go to the store…

    I also bought myself a little dessert treat, since I’d been craving chocolate cake lately.

    If I learned anything from Zombieland, it’s to enjoy the little pleasures – preferably one with a long shelf life. Sadly, the $5 bottle of wine I bought was one of the tastiest red blends I’ve had in a while…regretting not picking up a couple more.

    And just to end on a fun note, here’s a little quarantine meme for yas.

    We Need A Flood

    Since I’m Trapped In Bed…

    My mind – on the few occasions that it has been able recently – has punctuated my leaving my building with the opening lyrics to U2’s New Years Day.

    I push through the outer lobby door into the great, empty quiet and my volunteer mind just starts unbidden

    🎼All is quiet, on🎼

    …and then my active mind finishes with “today. All is quiet on today.”

    I can even indulge my innate weirdness and finish the thought aloud, since…what are the odds I’m overheard?

    So, as I’m trapped beneath my own inertia and only nearly finished cup of coffee in bed this morning, I take to the Insta.

    The ‘gram does not disappoint, putting this before my eyes

    Now, it seems @DrMabuse2009 may not share the same appreciation of U2 as I. Or he does, and just knows a funny drop-in when he sees the chance.

    Either way, I appreciate both: good music and legit pith.

    Plus, U2 does kind of keep on putting themselves out there, so I suspect they are none the worse for the unsolicited pop critiques.

    It reminds me of the old U2 joke:

    They were performing in Ireland and at the end of one song, as the crowd was clapping its appreciation, Bono ordered the lights down and continued a slow rhythmic clap as the crowd grew silent.

    Clap.

    Beat.

    Clap.

    Beat.

    Clap.

    Beat.

    This goes on – undoubtedly while the crew did crew things in the dark and the rest of the band took a hit or a leak or something.

    Because, why wouldn’t I try to fill in the negative space in a joke?

    Anyhoo

    Eventually, Bono starts talking.

    “Every time”

    Clap.

    “I clap my hands”

    Clap.

    “A child in Africa”

    Clap.

    “Dies of starvation”

    Clap.

    Beat.

    Clap.

    Beat.

    Cl-

    “Well, quit fookin’ doin’ it, then!” comes a shout from the darkness.

    Anyway…apparently, there’s new U2 music for those who are so inclined. Basically, anyone who didn’t switch from Apple to Android back when my fake former classmate, Tim Cook, gifted an automatic upload of a U2 album to everyone’s iTunes account.

    Since I’m Trapped In Bed…

    Patience: Zero

    This made me think a lot more than it should have.

    Sadly, I spent a lot of that thought trying to think myself out of that response. Additionally, I think truly wise humans are patient. I am not even pretending to elevate myself to the level of a patient person.

    Case in point, when I posted yesterday’s blog there was a quote about arguing with stupid people lurking just outside my consciousness. I could feel it out there, but no matter how hard I squinted at the dark edges of my mind…I just couldn’t make it out.

    A fellow blogger lit a match in the comments, reminding me of my search. But, true to my impatient form, I was done with it, so I manipulatively told him that I knew he’d know the quote I had been trying to recall.

    Now, he – being not only wiser than I, but more patient as well – refused to bite. Instead, giving me just a little more illumination so that I could find it myself.

    So when I saw BreitBarb’s tweet this morning about these stupid Americans that seemingly can’t spell while using technology in 2020…well, the shortcoming seemed obvious to me.

    I think people are smart enough to know that a dotted red line is a literal red flag. They choose to ignore it.

    Then again, I’d also think that somehow, someone during that whole “someone ate a bat in China*” thing and caused Coronavirus would have thought, “I probably shouldn’t serve that” or “eat that” or what-have-you.

    Now, unlike a certain senator from Texas, I’m going to go ahead and say, ok…culture. Admit that I can’t fathom the custom, regardless of how much effort I put into it – the perks of being a picky eater. Then walk away, lest I embolden or be perceived as racist.

    China’s approach, on the other hand, was to drop new legislation from its fake capital Kibosh, stopping the custom. This effectively gutted what I gather to be a $72 billion annual industry for China. But prioritizing science over culture or custom, China demonstrated concern for not only its population, but the world overall and stopped the root cause of this outbreak once and for all.

    And we can’t even get Americans to capitulate on spellcheck. No wonder Portland is on track to be the new Palm Springs.

    I’ve no doubt our stupid American indulging country will trip over itself to fill the void left by China and crown itself “the best” yet again as it finds a way to start churning out future Patients Zero.

    Someone has to do it.

    Plus – I mean – hedging ones bets is the smart thing to do, right? We can’t put all our world annihilation eggs in one basket – best to diversify and make sure we pick up that literal pandemic torch that China seems to be dropping.

    China – Rituals and customs that put world health at risk should be changed.

    Probably the US – Hold our beer.

    * I have – in case it isn’t completely obvious – drastically dumbed down the path CoV-2 took from Horseshoe Bat in a backwater China community to the present human virus causing the global COVID-19 pandemic – is saying global and pandemic redundant? Anyway, the exact path from one species to another is presently unknown.

    Not that Trump supporters and climate change deniers would accept scientific fact as proof of anything.

    But!

    If you can activate their racism triggers – an easy enough endeavor, it seems – then they’ll believe anything. Ergo: this started in China when some guy ate a bat.

    Obviously.

    Patience: Zero

    Forget Winter

    reality is coming.

    I woke up at about 4:30 this morning, which is my old normal. Lately, though, I’ve been nailing the whole “sleep through the night” thing. As I tried to talk myself out of tossing and turning, hoping instead to just fall back asleep until my alarm went off when it was time to move my car, I let my mind wander:

    • I should get up and pee
    • There’s some really funny COVID memes going around right now
    • Maybe I should just go move my car now…
    • Is that cigarette smoke?
    • Maybe I should fast today
    • I can’t wait to take a shower, I feel really gross after not showering yesterd – oooh, maybe I should work on some Quarantine Dreads!
    • Where’s Myrtle?

    I finally decided to get up and pee, turning on the light briefly to make sure Myrt hadn’t “mined” my route to the toilet with any little surprises.

    All clear.

    As I answered Nature’s call, I chuckled at the “told ya sos” my friends would give me for being awake at this hour. Yesterday evening I had posted a question to my Facebook peeps as to whether or not 6:20 was too early to turn in on a Saturday night. I’d had a full day of doing nothing* and thought maybe it was time to finish my wine, take a half a gummy and hit reset.

    Reliably, my wise and enabling friends let me know it was ok to turn in early, while cautioning that I’d be awake at 2:00 if I did.

    Well, surprise! Surprise! SURPRISE…I ended up staying up, having two more glasses of wine, forgoing the gummy and going to bed at 11:00. Hence, sleeping til 4:30 instead of 2:30.

    Anyway, as I was washing my hands, I decided that it was cigarette smoke I’d been smelling and tried to suppress my frustration at people breaking our association rules, since it would only serve to further wake me up.

    I failed.

    I congratulated myself as I lay in bed seething – at least I hadn’t gone out onto my patio and glared around, looking for the smoker.

    Instead, I was laying in bed wondering if this was it, now. Civilization’s collapse. At the end of one week of forced isolation, the community rulebook was essentially toilet paper.

    Then I reminded myself that we hadn’t actually made it a full week before our selfish and entitled behaviors started seeping out. Not that they had very far to seep.

    I mean, the hoarding that started a couple weeks back is a fine example of people’s selfishness.

    The fact that we’ve spent the last two weeks educating stupid Americans adults on proper hand washing is, likewise, a fine example of how people believe “rules” are for other people.

    But what stuck in my head was the fat fuck jogger I’d encountered the other day. I’d been doing my morning drive routine, feeling good that 80% of my riders had been healthcare professionals and that I’d helped return them to the front lines for the day. Suddenly, I was skidding to a halt in an intersection – don’t worry, mom, skidding was hyperbole…I’d only been going 20 MPH – to avoid hitting this jogger.

    He had leapt from the sidewalk to the crosswalk without looking or even breaking his stride. I’d seen him on the far side of the side street sidewalk as I drove across the opposite crosswalk, entering the intersection. I had anticipated that with his slowing to look both ways before crossing the street when he reached the corner, that I’d likely be exiting the intersection by the time he was ready to cross.

    Nope.

    As if this fat fuck jogger was the last person on the planet, he just Usain Bolt-ed into the crosswalk. I was actually kind of surprised that he hadn’t collapsed onto the asphalt after shattering his tibia running off the curb like that…like I said, fat.

    Anyway, I did what I think any reasonably nice driver would do as I slammed on my brakes – I gave him a palms up over my steering wheel. For his part, he gave me a single finger salute as he continued to try run at a pace suggesting he was urgently trying to catch the physique that had – at one time – fit into his running attire.

    Good luck, pal. That fit body has quite a head start on fat you.

    As I resumed my right of way, I thought to myself how odd it was that he’d gotten so out of shape and now he was expecting people to yield to his fitness pursuits. I mean, really…it’s not like a healthy body was just waiting for him on the other side of the crosswalk. He could certainly have waited his turn.

    That thought was still percolating as I realized this yahoo had actually turned to run parallel to me so that he could continue flipping me off.

    All while righteously not making eye contact with me. I’m pretty sure someone mathematically inclined could actually come up with a formula to quantify the inverse relationship of the level of wrong-ness an action was compared to the length of time one postured themselves as the wronged party afterward.

    Suffice to say, this guy was still acting like the injured party a half block later. Maybe he’d been hoping I’d run him over and put him out of his misery and was mad that I’d managed to miss.

    But thinking on my fat fuck jogger friend had led me back to my second seemingly random thought of the morning: COVID memes.

    There’s some pretty amusing observational memes going around. Things like:

    We’re only three weeks away from knowing everyone’s natural hair color.

    Or these little gems:

    There was one that I failed to grab and can’t find now that I’m bummed about. It was a split screen with a caption that said something like “Quarantine 2020” and the split was a before and after pic. The before was a Barbie doll, all glammed up and looking Barbie-sexy while the after pic was the same pic photoshopped with a little Jabba effect because with the gyms closed and social distancing being trendy, all the gays will do is sit at home and binge eat while binge-watching Real Housewives of Anywhere and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

    Like I said, it was pretty funny, especially since it was from a gay meme account and you know what gym bunnies the 20-30 year old gays can be. I do appreciate self-aware humor.

    Another that stuck with me was:

    You know COVID-19 is serious when gay men start having sex with their boyfriends again.

    That’s funny and sad at the same time. The important thing here is that – knowing my attitude regarding open relationships – I didn’t throw my phone when I saw that meme.

    And because sometimes all you need for a funny moment is a good flipping of the script,

    Because some of us lived through the 80s and 90s and are less shocked by the GOP’s shenanigans. Now we gays have loads of time on our hands to watch straight people react to the ongoing Trump administration nonsense, our only task: popping popcorn.

    Anyhoo…before I knew it, my alarm was going off and it was time to go move my car onto the street. On Saturdays, I usually park in the lot down the block because there’s not a lot of demand on Lyft, so $7 for all day is a far better deal than $2/hour from 8:00 until I head out to drive in the evening. Since I was contemplating bed at 6-ish last night, having not even showered for the day yet, I didn’t drive.

    Obviously.

    And since street parking is free until 1:00 p.m. on Sundays, I’ll usually pay for a couple hours and then drive in the afternoon.

    Anyway, I moved Angela out to the street, wondering if I was the only person in Portland still paying for parking.

    Wondering if I was also wrong about the cigarette smoke after checking my weather app

    And knowing that the potential fast was off after finding an energy drink and some pistachios tucked into the side pocket of Angela’s door. Also knowing Quarantine Dreads were off because I’m taking The ‘Phew to the airport this afternoon so he can fly home and see his parents, just to be sure we do our part for carrying Coronavirus from the city to rural Oregon. Hehe. But, yeah…I’ll have to shower for that.

    Most rewarding, as I was exiting the building, some neighbor I’ve never seen before was exiting to walk a dog that I’ve also never seen before…smoking a fucking cigarette.

    I coughed dramatically in the foyer after he didn’t hold the door for me and decided I was gonna tell on him. It’ll make me sound batshit crazy, too

    Um, yeah. There’s a guy I’ve never seen before and I don’t know what unit he’s in, but he was smoking inside!

    …but I’m not gonna let that stop me! There’s only 18 units in my building and less than half are occupied full time, I’m sure some industrious someone can figure it out.

    Naturally, my morning ends with me coming back to my unit to Myrtle sitting in the bedroom door with an expression that said both, “Where have you been?” and

    Someone shit on the floor.

    at the same time.

    Maybe I’ll let Myrtle fast today – or at least while I sip my energy drink…

    *to be fair, I had done a mini workout at home and cleaned the condo…so the day wasn’t spent entirely in Sofa City.

    Forget Winter

    Due To Whelming Feedback…

    …from yesterday’s post, I went out for a drive last night.

    Mind you, the feedback was neither over nor underwhelming, simply whelming.

    Of course, the universe didn’t let that stop it from being a rather me evening.

    To wit – or, since it’s me – to halfwit.

    There I was, minding my own biznatch…watching my eighth or thirtieth consecutive episode of Star Trek Voyager of the day, and suddenly MomDonna chimes in cryptically via text.

    I love how she just starts her text in the middle of the conversation. Hehe. I think that conversational familiarity is a hallmark of any good relationship, so I definitely count it as a blessing that I have that shorthand with my parents.

    And like any good slacker son, since mom said, I did.

    Did, in this instance meaning, I turned on my Postmates app while continuing to watch Voyager and simultaneously playing Words With Friends.

    I’m sitting there looking for a place to play aioli and seriously within a minute I get an order. So I go.

    Yes, I placed my word first…isolation priorities.

    I walk the two blocks to the lot I’d parked in after my depressive two hour/three ride Monday morning drive efforts – I literally made enough to cover parking for the day – and realized the pick up was from the just the around the corner Italian joint. I coast over, park illegally and try to go inside.

    The door was blocked by two septuagenarians waiting for a table. And the place is packed!

    I immediately start to feel a scratchy throat coming on as I wait. Recreational hypochondria is an unsung hobby of mine, just behind “growing hair” but before “growing hair in weird places” on my free time to do list.

    “This is how we all die”, I think, “these idiots.”

    Mind you, I’m out picking up food for people, but:

    1. I was expecting that restaurants would be deserted on the night before the dine-in embargo became official. Look at me, with my uncommon sense. And;
    2. My mom told me to do it. What’s their excuse?!?
  • I drive my order from the NW quadrant over to NoPo – North Portland, our city’s fifth quadrant – and drop it off. With no other deliveries stacked up, I sit in Angela for a minute trying to decide what to do. Normally, I’d point my car toward home and then take orders if they came and quit when I got home if they didn’t.
  • Extraordinary circumstances, though.
  • Plus, I had been to the Silver Fox’s that afternoon and while there, peeked into his fridge. I’ve dubbed myself his real-life Kramer, so I feel it’s incumbent upon me to be weird and help myself to his food when he’s not around.
  • He’d abandoned me yesterday to keep his ex-wife company during her self-imposed isolation, so I figured liberating a kombucha from his fridge was the least I could do.
  • Empty.
  • Seriously, there was like a container of oat milk. I’d rather die than drink that before it’s 15 minutes of fame were up. Adding insult to injury, his ex’s grand nephew popped in to spend his spring break with them since Canada is closed…meaning I’ll probably not see The Fox again until it’s time to pull his plug.
  • Also meaning that I had to text him my disappointment at the fridge situation.
  • Knowing how to truly wound me, he replied that there were some frozen meatless burger patties in the freezer I was welcome to.
  • This is why we’re friends.
  • Anyway, apocalypse being now, I decided I best head to Gross Out for some frozen broccoli. If this outbreak kills me, I’d like my corpse to weigh a few pounds less than my live body does currently. If it doesn’t kill me, welp…Pride is in June, so I’ll exit forced isolation ahead of the game, eh?
  • I turn on my Lyft app to ensure I have every shot possible at scrapping a nutritious diet for pizza delivery, thinking there’s no way I won’t get distracted by one of the two apps before I get to the NE quadrant.
  • I get there. Who knew?
  • I go in and grab a couple salad kits then head to the frozen food coolers for my broccoli. They were sold out. The only thing left was albino broccoli.
  • I think I probably have something from Penzey’s that can make it palatable, but head over to the wine department, just in case.
  • I check out and get back to Angela, turning my apps back on for the potential ride home. Before I even push “start”, I have a delivery.
  • Sheesh.
  • I look at the nav…right across the street.
  • Woooow.
  • Apps are cool.
  • I pick up some guy’s dinner – a grocery bag full of Korean BBQ – and head off toward NE 60th & Couch.
  • Sidebar: You pronounced that wrong – it sounds like “cooch” here. But just the street, not the furniture.
  • So, there I am…sitting at NE 60th & – say it with me – Couch at 730 PM. I need to go home and feed Myrt the Murderous soon. She had a late snack, so I’m not feeling terribly guilty.

    Still, soon.

    But at the same time, I’m 80-ish blocks from home and would feel guilty just driving there straightaway. On the other hand, my caving to peer and mom pressure to get out and try some deliveries has netted me $7. Actually, after groceries, my net is -$25.

    This is why I don’t put a ton of effort into Postmates as anything other than a cure for boredom. Delivering two meals and earning $7 is way better than the alternative: drinking two $7 beers.

    Sure.

    Fine.

    Apps on, I point Angela toward the South Water Front and Oregon Health Sciences Hospital campus, thinking I might catch a shift change ride.

    I don’t.

    But as I’m weaving around the labyrinthine streets of SW Portland, I get a call up to the main campus on top of Marquam Hill. Technically, first I got a Lux ride that was 14 minutes away that canceled 90 seconds later. Seriously, that was a bummer because it was far enough out in SE that I’d probably have earned $40 on that ride, but if the passenger was gonna spend $60+ on a ride, they probably didn’t want to wait 15 minutes for it. Still, they couldn’t wait another 30 seconds and slide a $10 cancellation fee my way? Hehe.

    Ok, anyway.

    Then I got an order, then 30 seconds later I got the OHSU ride. I cancel the order – wondering what karmic shenanigans I’ve signed up for in doing so – and head up to OHSU.

    I drop the ICU nurse I pick up off at a Safeway in NE so she can do some shopping before heading home. This woman has some logic long game – she knew at 6 AM that she’d want to shop after work and parked accordingly. I pull out of the parking lot and am going around the block of one-way streets so I can head home.

    Another ride.

    Three blocks away.

    Seriously…this kind of takes some of the sting out of the Lux ride that canceled on me. But only just. I made $20 on Sunday – plus $5 off a delivery order – none of which tipped. My Monday drives had doubled those earnings, but I’d usually earn over twice that before the world slowly began ending, so I was pretty disheartened that Lux ride hadn’t happened to true me somewhat up.

    Alas.

    What ended up being my last ride took me to SE again, around 33rd, putting me a ways away from home. But I’d gotten a self proclaimed introvert to talk, so I was feeling pretty good as I pointed the car toward home once again.

    I actually made it home.

    However, since it was now 830 and the chatty introvert was the only tipper out of four “customers”, I wasn’t disappointed to call it a night.

    I had some dinner wine and went to bed so that I could wake up at 6 today and give it another go. I made about 30% more on my morning commute rides today – again, one tipper…disappointing trend – which put me at about 50% of my normal morning earnings. Enough to park Angela for the day and buy myself a coffee. To go, natch. But I got home to a push from Postmates telling me one of last night’s deliveries had tipped me $7.50, doubling my actual delivery earnings for the evening. Still not super impressed with the Income Potential from Postmates, but to MomDonna’s point, it got me out of the house.

    Plus, turns out Voyager wasn’t yanked from Netflix overnight, so I really didn’t miss anything.

    And that’s my last 36 hours of social-distance-slash-forced-isolation…one footnote to yesterday’s post, my first ride today – a nurse – demonstrated to me exactly how the US extincts itself.

    I drive in the mornings for the scratch, sure. Until the lottery decides to cooperate, anyway…But in these low earning days, I’d rather stay in bed. It’s being so close to so many (non-tipping, but still) medical professionals who Lyft to work since there’s no parking for them on campus that gets me up. Getting medical professionals to work these days is a reward that’s greater than the paycheck or non-existent tip.

    Seriously, one OHSU worker has tipped me in 9 months. And the buildings they live in aren’t dumps. Also, the wait list for parking on campus is long. One nurse has been on it for nine years. And there’s still 1000 people ahead of her! That’s what you get for building a hospital on a hilltop, eh?

    Anyway. I digress.

    This nurse tells me she was going to miss going out for St Paddy’s Day after work due to the forced closures. But at least she got to go out to her favorite neighborhood watering hole last night for a last farewell.

    I ask her which one and she tells me River Pig. I know it, I tell her. Ramzy – the owner – is a nice guy, despite spelling his name incorrectly. Kind of a douche, but still nice.

    Further demonstrating both my point about Ramzy and Governor Brown’s need to force social hubs to shutter to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or any of the lesser COVIDs, my nurse passenger tells me that Ramzy had told her he wasn’t closing. He was going to remain open for his regulars as a means of exploiting the 25 person or less private event loophole for restaurants and bars.

    Like I said, he’s a douche.

    But seriously, that’s how we die. Not some millennial taking a $87 round trip spring break flight to Puerto Vallarta, no…a nurse who should know better and a bar owner who clearly skews GOP values-wise. Oh, and 70-somethings going to packed restaurants during a pandemic!

    My workaround? I gave her a 3-star rating so I don’t have to risk picking her future COVID-zombie-self up.

    Stupid Americans…

    Due To Whelming Feedback…

    ExPat

    Hopefully, this won’t become a Chronicles of ExPat as was the case with Pat the Patriot. But I made this official yesterday morning

    It’s amazing how asking a business who their Registered Agent is can motivate them to make right a bad shituation.

    I’d complained at Pat’s second and the third Spa Days through this outfit’s webpage – since there was no way to directly contact the GM.

    Both times, I got sales people reaching out to me about coming in to drive cars. The second time, I actually fired a warning shot in response, telling the salesperson my struggle and he replied that he’d printed my email and put it in front of the GM.

    Nothing.

    So I complained through the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection department, thinking that might goose the guy to get involved. Sadly, that only prompted him to push an avalanche of papers – checklists and reports – into the DoJ inbox maintaining Pat’s quality as well as their exhaustive presale due diligence.

    Case closed.

    Until

    Two back-to-back visits later, I get the GM’s email address from my service guy and drop the words lawsuit, overcharged, refund and lost income. Seriously, after a total of 5 weeks in the shop in 6 months, I was missing about $2500 in compensation from Lyft driving. I really thought that would get his attention. It was the largest chunk of what I laid out as about $7700 in what could become my lawsuit against his dealership.

    At the end of the day, who knows what word it was that really prompted him to finally reach out. He claims he never noticed my mention of a lawsuit.

    You can see where the quality performance really starts in this outfit if he’s not capable of reading for retention and picking out little details like that…

    But, here we were, sitting at a table, finally talking. The GM, the new Service Manager and me.

    He spends a lot of time running through his 25 year resume and attesting to the most important thing to him: happy customers.

    I made a lengthy show of calling him either oblivious, stupid or a liar. But our conversation continued.

    In his eagerness to demonstrate his commitment to customer satisfaction, he offered up three paths forward:

    • Let them have another (6th) crack at making Pat whole
    • Refund my extended warranty and repair charges and I can find another service provider to finish easing Pat into their early grave
    • Trade Pat in on a new vehicle
  • Now, you know my grumpy old ass. I countered with a two-point list after telling him Pat was his failure to fix and asking why I should reward him by buying another car from him when this one had been such a disaster.
  • Realizing I’d unwittingly sprung a trap by pointing a conversational arrow at letting them try to fix Pat again, I acquiesced while reminding Hong that there had been an unmentioned fourth option.
  • He promised to get Pat repaired and back on the streets by Friday. The two-day window he’d committed to was perfectly punctuated by the Service Manager’s snapping vertebrae as he reacted to the promise.
  • Great.
  • I take off in my loaner, again…seriously, this was my fourth loaner from them – I hadn’t expected to have a roster of vehicles on my ParkingKitty app when I bought Pat. So I deleted the first couple, but feast your eyes
  • Friday comes around and at lunchtime, I figure I’d best check in before the service guys were off. I message my Service Tech and he replies that the carpet hasn’t dried yet, so they’re going to leave it over the weekend.
  • I ask if they found any other leaks and he says no…then adds
  • The two floor plugs in the back were completely soaked, we resealed them, now the carpet just needs to dry!

  • Pushing down the strangeness of plugs becoming soaked – shouldn’t plugs be made of nonabsorbent material? – water leaking upward through the car’s belly and the desire to ask, “So that’s where the leak was all along?” I failed miserably at managing my sense of helplessness but gathered my thoughts and sent the GM another email. I asked about getting my warranty and prior repairs refunded and then asked about using that credit toward a new vehicle.
  • I was so frustrated and felt completely underwater in this transaction.

    Victimized.

    That’s a tough word – you conjure up images of violence or breaking and entering, not something civilized like transacting a car purchase. But I think it’s a good word. Think back to the financial crisis when people were throwing around terms like “predatory lending”. This was how I felt, like I was the weak prey versus an equal in the transaction.

    Again, I reiterated to him my dis-ease with furthering our professional relationship. A sense that both got worse and evolved into a “who cares, it’s never gonna happen” attitude simultaneously as I researched Pat’s trade in value.

    I was about $3800 upside down on them. I didn’t really see this joker that can’t follow up on an inspection checklist pulling a rabbit out of his hat here.

    Son of a bi…

    He actually did it, dragging me along with him.

    Of course, I sent the email on Friday afternoon and waited about 20 hours for a response, but when it came – well, it didn’t come with half measures.

    And just look at the car.

    It might have been my mention of regretting not going with the Tiguan when I’d been looking. Whatever it was – luck, listening skills (which seemed less likely given his track record with details) – the X3 he put in front of me was definitely speaking my language.

    But it was something he owned at a good enough price to absorb my negative equity into the price of the car. He also took my prior repair and warranty purchase in as a down payment credit.

    All of which means, the deal frigging worked.

    Of course, I made the deal contingent up on Lyft signing off on the car for service. The GM was confident that I’d be getting more lucrative, upgraded rides through LyftLux.

    We’ll see.

    Monday morning, I tootled down to the Lyft Hub for an inspection. They signed right off on it – telling me Portland wasn’t much of a Lux hive, but maybe expect them Friday and Saturday night.

    That tracked.

    But in looking at the Lux ride rates from the driver side, we keep 80% of the drop rate versus 20%. The per mile rate was ~3x more, too, so I am hoping that those special occasion Friday and Saturday night rides come through!

    Regardless, I drove away from my signing meeting thinking, “Welp, this is only gonna cost me one hour of driving more a week than Pat”. As long as I’m able to be driving consistently, an extra hour a week seems pretty manageable…keep your fingers crossed!

    ExPat