Dating Into Oblivion ep8

Admittedly, this will be an atypical post for this theme.

Spoiler Alert: No Date

It’s much more like January’s no-show dates. What makes it different is that these guys couldn’t even show up virtually. That’s how dire it is with these Lost Boys, my friends.

Without further doo doo, episode 8.

The other day, on my one remaining “Why do I even bother?” asocial media site, I had occasion to quote Maya Angelou.

It was a guy that had bothered to hit me up with an inscrutable wink via their messenger function. I mean, here, a wink can fairly well be interpreted as

I want you, but haven’t the social skills to actually successfully execute an action plan to formally seduce you…so maybe this will work?

Yeah, I think that’s a pretty good summary of a the definition of a “non-verbal” greeting on asocial media.

And here’s the deal, on these types of sites, there’s tells to back up someone’s intent. They may set their statue to some version of “Looking for Now” or if they have pictures they wish to only share discretely, they may make their stinky eye pic visible to you along with their winky eye greeting.

At least there used to be tells like that that you could rely upon to clarify someone’s intentions. I think people are getting more jaded on the ROI for flashing their selfie porn to strangers. That less than phenomenal individual is called a pic collector. That pejorative moniker can be a reality if a guy actively seeks out or requests that someone unlock their private gallery or it can be restorative if someone sends unsolicited access to their buttoir pics and then doesn’t get the response they were anticipating.

Either way, it’s a sad substitute for initiating an actual conversation or behaving in a way that isn’t just a base form of selfishness. I mean, FFS, masturbate already.

Anywho…I checked his profile and his status didn’t indicate he was looking and his nudie pics were still locked up. And in a jackalope type rarity (he isn’t unicorn-cute), his profile had words in it! It wasn’t just a bunch of checked or unchecked boxes…and the words were clever and funny.

I replied.

Now, there’s a third vague tell that I employ to suss out someone’s intent…y’know, whether they are just killing time or are maybe really looking to make a connection that doesn’t necessarily involve an erection.

They’ll introduce themselves.

When I replied, I signed off with my name.

After a few traded messages, I noticed he had yet to do the same. I knew that he was off early on a Wednesday and beginning a little staycation. After a couple more, I knew that it wasn’t just a really long weekend, that he had the entire following week off and that he had plans to do nothing.

Since I still didn’t know his name, I wished him well and told him I hoped he enjoyed himself. When he asked where I was going off to, I let him know that I wasn’t really going anywhere, I just didn’t take him seriously as friend material since he still hadn’t introduced himself.

He actually replied with something I could interpret as charm and chagrin.

Another jackalope moment. Maybe just as a projection on my part. Who knows.

We chatted a but more and then went off with our respective afternoons. I’m sure I had to go drink something somewhere with someone or something.

No, that’s probably exactly what it was…I really need to go back to full-time work!

We exchanged messages over the weekend and throughout the next week, but always about 12 hours out of sync. I blamed it on my janky sleep schedule. But while I was on, I took a look to see who else was lurking around that might be worthwhile.

What did I find? Maybe a unicorn!

A good looking guy with a few shared interests? Sure…he doesn’t maybe take his sexual health as seriously as he should, coming up allegedly on his second anniversary of his last STI screening. Maybe he just doesn’t update his profile here very often. This seems likely since he was 1200 GPS feet from me, it’s Fall and he’s not in Lancaster after a summer in Portland.

It didn’t matter, anyway, since an hour later he’d read my greeting and not replied. His profile says he liked tea, but I’m – obviously – not everyone’s cup of tea.

Or, anyone’s.

Still, it bothered me. Like this…

For me, if you’re looking for honesty and respect, ya oughta reflect it. I’ve broken off dating relationships with a couple of guys since moving back to Portland simply because they bankrupted my emotional bank account. Specifically, they withdrew my affection but never really made deposits, so eventually I just ran out of figurative fucks to give about them.

I think respect works off that same notion. If you only demand it and don’t return it, people aren’t going to give a damn about your demands.

Well, I’m not. I am a grumpy old man, after all.

So, I trotted our my bullshit buzzer and sent him a second message the next evening.

Notice the check mark in the yellow circle, that’s how I knew he’d seen my message.

What I notice about these lurking denizens of asocial media is the overprotectiveness they demonstrate for their brand. Usually, when I call out people on their bullshit, one of two things happens:

A) They posture and make excuses…your basic Crocodile Tears scenario.

B) They go on the offensive. So much energy into what just amounts to a blustering defense of themselves. It’s exhausting to witness and I really just hope this type of person will shorthand it and block me. Get it over with, already.

Well, this guy was a Type A in this case.

But what constitutes a “rather difficult evening”? It’s not really my business, but why bother offering it without context? You read my message but didn’t bother to reply until I impugned your brand the following day. If you hadn’t even read my message would that have meant that you had a “very difficult evening”?

And on a Halloween Weekend Saturday night…should I even care to believe such an excuse from someone? Halloween is generally referred to as Gay Christmas, in a fit of true irreverence. So maybe his costume just wasn’t coming together right and he read my message before deciding that he just really needed to focus on getting his Gay Vampire look just right.

I get it. Halloweekend is a struggle. Difficult times.

Almost as difficult as trying to figure out whether to indulge this fella’s response with anymore of my time.

So, I didn’t.

I had other things to attend to. Like Staycation Guy.

On Friday, I decided to just throw caution to the wind and call the guy out on his intentions. I acknowledged the awkwardness of communicating via a website and suggested we move to text for faster and easier communication.

If he was interested in continuing the charade…er, conversation.

12 hours later, I had his phone number and sent him a text.

Before bed that day, I sent him a message back on the old asocial media website.

I awoke the next day to this

…as well as the realization that text obviously wasn’t going to improve this guy’s communication rhythm.

I went and got coffee with The Fox and let his reply simmer on my mind’s back burner.

Ultimately, I decided not to say anything and just let it lie.

Until

Six hours later, he messaged me on my favorite timesuck. He was riffing on my follow up via the same routine which was a simple, “I sent a text”.

I sent one back.

Ok, I appreciate a certain wryness. But was that what was happening here or was this guy just fucking with me?

Or was he just a complete social retard?

And, yes, I know retard is not a good word. But I’m saying his social skills seemed to be somehow retarded. Like undeveloped or halted in such a way that he really didn’t know he was failing.

I’m ambivalent about training boyfriends anymore. I think I’m less enthusiastic about training friends. Shouldn’t friendship come naturally?

At the same time, I look around our country today and see how people are so divided. So readily writing people off as The Other. Declaring The Other as an enemy…

I decided to reply. On the timesuck.

In a message that would make a terrible text – it was about 3″ long – I laid it out.

Texting should have been a much more effective form of communication but wasn’t for him.

If we’d failed to successfully burst into the real world when he had no work to complicate it and no other plans for his week, could we reasonably expect it to get easier when he added the complexity of work back into his schedule?

He read it.

I guess there’s a third type of person that I failed to consider, they just do nothing when pushed. No response. Which is probably as much genuine honesty as you’ll ever get from that type of person.

Plus, I’m sure nothing makes a denizen of asocial media less responsive than being confronted with something that’s 3″ long…

Dating Into Oblivion ep8

Oh, Bother…

I think being bothered is a good thing. Keeps you present.

That just fell out of my mouth earlier this week while The Fox and I were at coffee.

The cafe manager had stopped by to talk while he grabbed a quick break. We always have enjoyable chats when he can take a moment like that with one or both of us. He and The Fox have actually had beers together a few times, too. When I get the download from those conversations, I’m not jealous of them…but I can appreciate that I missed something good.

But, to be clear, my bother in this particular conversation isn’t the same as our childhood pal

…and while I have friends and colleagues who have referred to me as Pooh’s human friend, I think over the years we’ve known each other that has congenially morphed into Grumpy Old Xtopher.

Since that moniker doesn’t lend itself to Pooh’s famously mild expletive, you can call me Whiny the Pooh for this post.

Because that’s more my style!

While I think my state of botheredness fluctuates depending on my real or perceived infraction, these moments really do keep me present. Both in my surroundings, but also in my own behaviors.

Who knew being the non-violent version of Hannibal Lecter would actually not only help me be a better person personally but also hopefully help me to be a better part of my community? Hopefully, if I’m bothered by someone else’s behavior, I don’t go on to become guilty of the same thing.

Sadly, as low a bar as that statement represents, I think more often than not, that’s actually what enables others to validate their own poor behaviors. Welcome to the United States of Kindergarten.

Yesterday I went to the Apple Store with my parents to get help with my mom’s new iPhone. They had an appointment for 2:10 and we showed up around quarter to 2:00 to check in. The associate checking us in told us that their appointment was actually 2:20…but said we were welcome to wait. We asked if that would end in us being seen sooner and when getting an uncertain reply, decided to go across the street for coffee and come back.

For as smooth as the process of checking us in and getting us staged went – maybe we just didn’t really care since we had coffee – we ended up at the Genius Bar just about on time.

I guess not so for the woman next to me. I heard her complaining to an employee she shanghaied about their wait, and “how much longer it would be?” The associate checked his iPad and said, “Looks like your appointment was at 2:30, and we’re only a little behind, so it shouldn’t be too much longer!”

I checked my phone.

It was 2:35.

Really, lady?!?

“Ok, well my son has another appointment across the river at 3:00, so the sooner the better!”

Nonono.

This is not ok. Now, we were only about seven blocks from the river, but our evening rush hour starts as early as 2:00 and we were smack dab in the middle of downtown. Even if her son’s appointment was literally just on the other side of the water, the bridges become a pinch point during the evening commute.

A half hour drive time would not be unreasonable.

What was she thinking?!?

I don’t know, it probably sounded a lot like “me, me, me”, though. Now what she was doing was making this someone else’s problem when it was completely her own doing. Even worse, in taking an appointment slot that was unworkable for her, she took a slot that could have worked for someone else.

Now she was trying to manipulate this poor guy into jockeying around the customers so she could go first. To his credit, he held firm with, “Well, it looks like there’s just one iPhone ahead of yours, so it shouldn’t take too much longer!” in a cheerier voice than I would have given her.

At least mentally.

This reminded me of another instance from earlier in the week. It actually made me take a picture as it came hot on the heals of my quote at the beginning of this blog post.

This basic is demonstrating what it is to be not present.

Which, in turn, bothered me.

The sign she is standing right next to says, “Please Wait Here…” as I’d been watching her, two people had walked up and asked her if she was waiting – one of them was the Silver Fox, who was excitedly awaiting his flu shot – and I’d only been watching her for a couple of minutes. Now, she could have certainly chosen to sit in the waiting area while she waits for her Rx to be filled. She knows the chairs are there, she set her tablet and handbag in one of them.

Having chosen to stand in line instead, you’d think after enough people asked if she was in line, perhaps – just maybe – she’d think to herself, “Self, I think I should get out of the way”.

No…not our girl.

She’s so unpresent that she didn’t even notice me overtly taking her picture from about 5 feet away.

This seems like a good moment to check in with my Drag Queen Spirit Animal.

Now you know why she’s my Spirit Animal. Every other homo – of a certain age – remembers her infamous cameo/quote from the pre-turn of the century gay film festival darling, Trick. She shared her wisdom with us there, giving that entire generation of gays the 411 on the perils of getting semen in your eye…

So, yeah…that’s good to know if you’re some run of the mill Stupid American. But this gay guy didn’t need to be told that was an experience best skipped.

What can I say? I have uncommon knowledge as it turns out.

So, as entertaining as Coco is, whether in a cameo in Trick or Will & Grace or even my beloved Arrested Development…my love for her was cinched the first time I saw her “That bothers me” schtick on stage. There was a mental click when she stated it, so simple. It’s when it hit me that shit is gonna bother me, but screaming and yelling about it – tilting, if you will – is just gonna make me look like a crazy Don Quixote type. I can be bothered and still lead a relatively normal life.

Shut up, Everyone That Knows Me.

Moving on…

Oh, look! A story about the least present people on the planet! One whose headline tells me that basically, I already know everything that story has to offer.

I’ve long lamented the influence those people have over American culture and the direct influence they have in making our culture an increasingly frivolous and anonymous one.

They have simultaneously taught us to be vacuous while managing to keep us incessantly keeping up with them.

Not me, just to be clear.

I wouldn’t watch them hold hands and jump off a cliff…because, they bother me and could even prove annoying to me while doing something that was inherently a net positive for the world.

But, an unexpected side effect of the bother they add to my life is that they keep me present in not ignoring the things that matter in life like they seem to as a family. When I say “the things that matter”, I mean everything beyond their “me, me, me” behavior.

Meanwhile, back in WordPress Land, I just barf these amusing yet niggling annoyances of mine into the void and walk away. And it’s not like them there Kardashians…for me, it’s not about “the likes” here. WordPress is a group of people that want to write for the sake of creating, or educating, or entertaining…or, yeah, like me: therapy.

That said, I do like the likes and comments because they enhance the experience of writing for me. I tend to try – how noncommittal was that? I need a Yoda, “There is no ‘tend to try’ only tend or not tend” – to participate and interact with other writers that I follow to show them the same support and encouragement they show me. But since I follow about five dozen other writers, I often get behind and visit my half dozen favorites more than the rest.

Which is why seeing this today on one of my favorite writer’s blog posts kind of bothered me.

What’s missing in that red circle was the feedback buttons. This is another recent entry from her that demonstrates the usual set up:

This woman is a funny writer. She has a great voice and style and usually spells everything correctly. Isn’t it nice of me to blank out her name so you can’t go follow her?

What’s great to me is that she writes about being a mom and living in suburbia – two things that are far afield from my life experience – in a manner that draws me in and amuses me. She makes me understand and sympathize with her struggles…and chuckle along with her as she does her own screaming into the WordPress void.

The post that she turned off feedback buttons for was one of her funniest yet, in my opinion. It involved an improperly stored “lady’s little helper” that her son discovered next to her as she woke up.

Ok, we haven’t all been there, clearly. But just imagine the shargrin that people could have contributed in the comments. Because there’s for sure plenty of fun anecdotes out there, this I know.

Also, shargrin = Share + chagrin = Chrisism. It’s like the opposite of schadenfreude. Instead of enjoying someone else’s embarrassment, you empathize with them and share a similarly embarrassing moment.

Since shargrin is – basically – most of my life, I’m bothered to not be able to participate in this post. But also, it bothers me that she deprived herself of the opportunity to salvage her parental dignity by closing off comments. It’s like she tossed her story into the void and walked away from it.

That’s not very present.

But I still liked the post…I just think that the feeling of forgiveness she cost herself by not hearing her readers’ shargrin ultimately sold herself short. For the record, though, she was present where it counted most: helping her son understand his feelings about what he witnessed.

I guess, ultimately, that makes her a lot like me: not perfect, but present and accountable enough to bother trying to be better. The kids I had coffee with today gave me something that was an unexpected gift.

Try to be 1% better today than you were yesterday.

“Like…every day?”, I asked.

Yup!

“But that’s – like – a 400% improvement over the course of the year”, I whined.

Yup!

These two cheery motherfuc…I don’t need that type of positivity in my life. Do you know the damage that could do to old Whiny the Pooh?!? Later, they set me back in balance by sending me this

I got a good chuckle out of that. And that’s what motivated me to sit down and tap this out. We don’t have to be perfect or put on a show of false happiness to be good people. We just need to be aware enough of our own shit to be able to know the difference between how our actions affect others and the world around us.

Are you the shit or a shit?

Oh, Bother…

People…

When people get on my nerves, I try to do something intentionally nice to make up for my general grumpiness.

Case in point:

I wandered out for a little dinner this afternoon and ended up at Laughing Planet, a few blocks from my house. It’s kinda a nice treat for myself. Super flavorful but healthy food.

Right across the hall from Hot Lips Pizza – well, more a gauntlet than a hallway for yours, fatly – so getting there was a victory in and of itself.

I’d been to coffee with the Silver Fox, where he spent some time on my favorite topic to not bitch about: e-scooters. Everyone else has the topic covered for me, so I can just effortlessly absorb the outrage.

So I’m standing between the two doors at Laughing Planet waiting to order when I realize there’s a woman at the other door. Since I’m only pretty sure that I was first, I let her go first, after asking if she was ready.

“I think so! Thank you!”, she says, bouncing her toddler on her hip. Her hubby and other child had just taken off for Hot Lips after making their plans to order and regroup.

This lady gets to the counter and then pulls a menu out of the holder, contrary to all things “ready“. In case I missed that maneuver, she then proceeds to ask multiple questions about substitutions, complete her order, add an entire second entree – with additional questions so extra that the associate has to go ask a co-worker for an answer, interrupting his lunch break – to her order, then tell the counter person to wait while she runs across the hallway to get a coupon from her husband’s phone.

This fucking bitch.

I’m getting hangry at this point, so I don’t step aside as she tries to pass by me in the doorway.

Her husband comes back with her to show the coupon and I kind of feel bad for her, this mother of two with the husband that won’t allow her unsupervised access to his phone.

But that’s just my defective brain.

Once they’re finally settled up, the woman turns around and mouths “Sorry!” at me, dramatically.

I keep mentally repeating my order to myself and give her this face:

While thinking this:

In my defense, in addition to the aforementioned hangry, it’s been a taxing weekend of people.

The e-scooters.

Art in the Park is happening as it does every Labor Day weekend, the park being my front yard. Art being an excuse for Stupid Americans to aimlessly mill around and ruin my grass.

Seriously, I haven’t seen this many straight men tagging along behind their female counterparts since my last Indigo Girls concert. My thoughts are the same: the women are nesting and creating a sense of relationship; the men are putting in their time, hoping this somehow leads to sex.

In addition to hoping to spread their genetics, these people are here capriciously spreading their excessive bridge and tunnel-ness. On my way to Laughing Planet, I watched a large group of people jaywalk against a walk signal. I’ve no problem with jaywalking, I simply prefer to do so mid block and on the diagonal. It’s convenient and prevents what I witnessed from happening: this large group paraded onto the far corner just as the pedestrian with the right of way arrived, but instead of altering their pace or trajectory, meandered carelessly onto the curb while the legit pedestrian stood in a traffic lane.

Nice.

After all of this within a 20 minute timeframe, I leave Laughing Planet with my to-go bowl. Just as I walk out into the hallway, my eyes run into the table across the hall. There are three people eating pizza and I see one of their heads split completely in half, Pac Man style as he tries to chew and simultaneously tell his story.

That takes care of my appetite.

Fortunately, as I arrived home, I was greeted by the sight of artists packing up their damn tents and getting out of the park. Tomorrow morning, life returns to its tolerable normalcy.

Thank gawd.

But I’m left with the feeling that I need to make a point of doing something nice for someone…

People…

I Might Be Insatiable

I also might be watching too much TV.

Twice last week I finished binge watching a series – one on the Netflix and the other on Amazon.

Twice last week I said to Myrtle, “There’s a lot going on there for such a small town”.

I kid you not. Talking to my cat…

My intent here is to write about the semi-controversial Netflix show called Insatiable Before I get there, let me give you a quick rundown of what I mean by “a lot going on” using the other show I watched last week as an example. The Kettering Incident takes place in a small town in Tasmania. A doctor returns to town from the city for her dad’s retirement. He’s the Tasmanian equivalent of the Chief of Police.

What you learn soon after her return home is that she was considered a suspect in the childhood disappearance of her best friend. When this comes around, I think to myself, “OK, we can make a show of this”.

Nonono. That’s merely the Tip o’the Iceberg!

The disappearance might really be caused by an alien abduction. It seems literally nothing has happened in this town since the disappearance except maybe there’s aliens.

Just kidding, here’s everything else that’s happening in this podunk town:

Immediately after our good doctor returns, someone else is murdered.

Then there’s a drug ring. You find out later it’s led by one of the cops investigating the murder – in which our heroine is an instant suspect.

Eco-terrorists.

Secret toxic waste disposal.

A man returns from the dead and is later found murdered.

The town is being overrun – people included – by erratically fast growing moss.

In a strange wtf moment, the drug kingpin cop sleeps with his prime suspect…which is still our doctor.

Another murder. <yawn>

Secret government conspiracy.

A kidnapping.

Clones!

What. The. Eff?

In the final episode, new plot lines are still dropping and then the damn show just ends.

One plot line is actually wrapped up in the finale. So for as much as this show has going on, it ended and just let most of the balls it had in the air drop and bounce away.

It’s like these writers think that the audience is incapable – probably correctly so – of focusing on a plot point from start to finish in a season. To compensate, and by “compensate” I mean “continually re-focus our attention from our phone screens back to the TV screens”, the writers seem to figuratively blow something up every episode. They don’t end up wrapping up the storyline they blow up, they just use it to keep our interest until the next explosion.

Believe it or not, I think Insatiable has even more bizarre stuff going on. For what it’s worth, these writers at least tidy up before they wander off at the end of the season. Not everything, but at the end of the 12 episodes, you’re at least left feeling relieved versus abandoned.

I wanted to watch this show after hearing its pre-release buzz about fat shaming…hence, the controversy. The critical position – including a 200,000 signature demand to pull the show before it aired – was that celebrating a large person’s weight loss with a story about their pursuit of a beauty pageant title was offensive.

Taken that flatly, I would agree. However, having seen the trailer and not been offended, I watched the show and learned that the actual issues with the program are the wacky plot lines the 90 second trailer doesn’t even touch on.

The show’s response to the criticism was that it was exploring the damage that that fat shaming does to a person’s psyche.

Boy, did that response undersell the word damage.

I also wanted to watch this because it’s been almost 20 years since Drop Dead Gorgeous and I needed a fucked up beauty pageant fix!

This show certainly delivered on the fucked up-ness criteria.

But it all started off so normal.

Bullied small town Georgia fat girl, Fatty Patty, gets her jaw broken while defending her candy bar from a homeless person. She ends up losing a ton of weight due to having her jaw wired shut to heal.

Duh. Nothing special here.

The Homeless Guy presses charges against her.

That’s kinda unique…

Which is when she meets her rather fey attorney, who coincidentally is a frustrated beauty queen coach. Having just lost a title with his most recent adopted-Chinese-beauty-queen-wanna-be to his never-loses-a-pageant-nemesis, who just happens to be his former high school jock tormenter and the city’s district attorney, he has sworn off beauty pageants…until he meets the now beautiful Patty.

Did ya follow all that?

Because after that the train for Crazy Town leaves the station.

Patty is a smart kid, so she turns her attorney’s pageant coaching offer down. However, after a day at school, realizing the different treatment she gets being suddenly outwardly beautiful and mistaken for a transfer student versus Fatty Patty, she snaps and takes her attorney up on his offer saying, “I’d rather have revenge”.

Remember that.

It’s after that moment where the show loses its equilibrium. From that point, you can tell a story that kinda sounds like the First Mrs Trump’s post-divorce mantra.

Patty struggles with the attention of boys. From the convenience store clerk that she flashes to get what she wants to the high school jock son of her flamboyant attorney/pageant coach to the bad boy son of the town minister.

Normal enough high school stuff, even without the extreme weight loss storyline.

But instead of pursuing that arc, the writers decide to take us on a shark jumping tour.

Here’s some of the shark storylines we viewers have to jump:

That adopted Chinese wanna be pageant queen? Yeah, her mom blames her daughter’s loss on their coach, claiming he was molesting her.

In a head scratching fit of irony, a few episodes later it’s revealed that the mother is actually having an ongoing sexual affair with the high school jock. Who – remember – is the son of her daughter’s pageant coach.

This story needed to take place in a bigger town.

As Patty’s pageant success grows, the frustrated adopted Chinese wanna be spirals more and more out of control in her jealousy. This seems to reach its peak when she attacks Patty in front of most of the town and in defending herself, Patty ends up unintentionally crippling the girl.

The town turns on Patty and blames her for the incident, calling it bullying. Which is insane enough, given the facts that A) the girl was one of Patty’s tormentors when she was Fatty Patty and was never held accountable as the bully she was; and, B) once again, Patty was only defending herself, which unfortunately resulted in an injury to the instigator.

Icing that cake is the fact that the girl was faking her paralysis at the encouragement of her mother. Patty tries to prove this in a horribly thought out plan and just makes things worse for herself. Even once her claim is validated, she can’t catch a break from the townsfolk. That right there is a – probably unintentional – mirror of the behaviors Trump supporters demonstrate daily: throwing your support behind a terrible human and never wavering in their loyalty.

Because the town can’t see that Patty’s situation is the result of her bullies’ ineptitude, things are required to get worse.

The next shark is exactly that…what could possibly be causing Patty to behave so hatefully?

Teenage pregnancy. Hormones are making her nuts.

Obviously.

Except…not pregnant. It’s just your maybe conjoined twin that you “absorbed” during pregnancy. Yup, she’s such a Fatty Patty that she ate her sibling in utero. This storyline progresses – or devolves into demon possession.

Luckily, the minister’s son – also the erstwhile father to Patty’s baby that isn’t – is there to guide her on a path to controlling the demon within her.

Ok

The last shark that I want to mention – but certainly not even the last in this school of sharks – is the adversarial relationship between the two lawyers/beauty pageant coaches. They loathe one another. The perfectly manicured fey attorney and the shirt off at every opportunity jock district attorney are constantly sabotaging one another and somehow unable to avoid each other on a daily basis.

Yup.

Gay.

But because that’s not a crazy enough scenario, while the district attorney seamlessly divorces his wife our fey lawyer can’t bear to live without his wife, even after Patty our the two lawyers.

The only solution?

Thruple.

Seriously, this is a small town that needs more people to carry these crazy storylines. And I haven’t even mentioned them all. In 12 episodes, these writers serve up a real dog’s breakfast of topical social issues. All of the above, obviously, but also addiction/AA, interracial marriage, app or “swipe” culture, lesbians, stalking, drag queens, drugs, kidnapping…why not top it all off with murder and then – y’know – cover it up.

All of these sharky threads weave into a story that is just chockablock full of my least favorite character trait in America today:

It’s better to look good than to be good.

I’ve been railing against that for almost two decades now, and it hasn’t gotten better. As a matter of fact, I’d say it’s gotten worse by magnitudes. When I first started getting grumpy, we didn’t have a swipe culture. Kardashians were just some celebrity lawyer’s estranged kids.

As time has gone on for me, I’ve accepted that our society seems to be on a non-stop trajectory toward selfishness and a “me culture” that makes the 80s look like a friggin’ nursery. In observing that, I’ve also had to accept that by vocalizing my discontent, I’m gonna be the Patty. Luckily for me, that manifests in accepting that I’m just a grump and I can make that into an enjoyable sur-reality.

Unfortunately for Patty, while she’s trying to find her way past all the blame her town has put on her and embrace that inside she’s a good person, she snaps. While her bad boy stalker boyfriend is trying to nudge her into the bad girl counterpart he wants her to be – dragging her down to his level – her conflicted and tormented self absolutely snaps and while crying “I’m a good person” over and over again, she beats him to death with a tire iron.

Let’s go back now tow what I told you to remember.

In the first episode, Patty is a smart kid. She’s smart enough to know what she doesn’t want, which is the inane pursuit of popularity and celebrity based on looks. She knows she doesn’t want to be that person.

Before that episode ends, she’s folded and uttered the fateful words, “I’d rather have revenge” that take her down an 11-episode arc to her undoing and de-evolution into a murderess.

As a viewer, I can accept that first episode arc. It sets up a season of redemption. How does Patty get through the new adversities associated with beauty, which she’d never had to manage before, to return to the smart girl she was at the beginning of the story who is now fortunate enough to have outsides that match her insides?

How?

It’s totally do-able.

For whatever reason, though, that’s not what was done. We’re left to watch Patty go from being an Ugly Duckling on the outside with a beautiful heart to the polar opposite…a beauty queen that’s a psychopath on the inside.

Is that the takeaway we should settle for and accept? I’m doing so, aren’t we all just Patty?

Wouldn’t we watch a show where someone learns to navigate newfound celebrity with their original intelligence and integrity intact?

Apparently, this show’s producers – and Netflix – think that we wouldn’t. They even seem to go one step further, making popular, beautiful people into unaccountable victims of their own good fortune…because that’s a reflection of itself that society can embrace.

Which is why I walked away from Insatiable asking myself

I gotta get a job…

I Might Be Insatiable

I know, I know…

A good chunk of my frustration in witnessing others’ ineptitude as they work is based on my frustration in landing interviews or – not to be greedy – even getting a job. Still, beneath that unusual and temporary layer of frustration is the normal level of service level expectations that aren’t being met by these seemingly over-employed folks that keep catapulting themselves into my path.

Phew. Still with me?

So, I’m gonna do some therapeutic writing. But I want to get a disclaimer out there up front: this all didn’t just happen this morning. I’m not that “Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” type that encounters a slight inconvenience and demands to speak to the manager.

Sidebar: OMG, they made a musical out of this camp classic movie!

Nor am I a “Sleeping With The Enemy” type customer who lets his own OCD overwhelm transactional encounters in my life.

That said…I probably need this tee shirt

Hey, I know my shit.

I felt my usual simmering frustrations starting to boil a couple weeks back, hell…maybe even a month ago when I wrote about Penzey’s Spices and then my trip to Darcelle’s after that.

Darcelle’s and Penzey’s are two businesses that are worried about more than just their bottom line. Actually, maybe it’s that their bottom line is people instead of dollars. I’ve always believed that in a service industry, if you put people first – be them customers or your employees – that the dollars will come.

So, there…a couple of disclaimers before I rail against some companies that should just. do. better. to demonstrate that I know what good service and business looks like and that I know I’m just a grump sometimes.

Anyway, I tried to recycle my cans this morning and everything went to hell.

This should be pretty simple, right? I live in a state that has a bottle and can deposit. I always recycled and I was fine paying a nickel a can for my entire life as an Oregonian without redeeming my recyclables for my nickel…back. I figured it was an income stream for industrious homeless people. But, when we triggered a deposit increase to a dime a can…I started redeeming those aluminum and glass bastards myself.

I hated it.

The reverse vending machines that grocery stores use to refund bottle deposits were dependably gross, crowded and usually broke down. It was a hassle. So when some industrious individual came up with the idea to lease the machines to grocery stores while also offering the service extension of a concierge type recycling program, I was in.

Welcome to the show, BottleDrop!

Ok, well, first I grumbled about the fact that it was gonna cost me a penny per can to drop my recyclables off and have someone else count them, because: grumpy. Then I came around.

But in contracting with a company to drop off a bag of recyclables in a secure area, have them counted for me and then have my redemption refund credited to my account within five days, well I had expectations that BottleDrop would fulfill their service commitment.

See? That’s not really too much to expect, right?

It started off small, little inconveniences like the drop area not being open when I tried to drop off my bag on my way to work. That’s on me for not knowing the hours of operation. That evolved into their 3-5 day credit window becoming a 3-5 – no, just 5 – day window before my dropped bag was acknowledged as received and then another 3-5 days before my deposit refund was credited. Then drop off centers started opening erratically or being closed because both the reverse vending recycling machines and the secure bag drop doors were broken…it’s a door.

Still, I was surprisingly ok.

Then a bag went missing.

I emailed their customer service and a few days later got a response apologizing and letting me know that they credited my account for my Average Bag Value.

That seemed pretty fair and still convenient, so I felt whole and cared for as a customer.

Then my next bag went missing. It was disturbing because my first six months with them, no issues. Suddenly, two consecutive bags from the same drop location disappear.

They credited me once again for my ABV – which sadly is not Alcohol By Volume. My next bag was credited as expected, so I chalked my two missing bags up to weird coincidence.

Flash forward to August and I can say that out of the 12 bags I’ve dropped this year – don’t look at me like that, a lot of the cans are La Croix or Diet Coke – only four have been credited as expected. I’m beginning to wonder what consistently receiving my ABV versus the actual value of my redeemables does to my ABV. Something in the back of my mind keeps reminding me that averaging averages is bad math.

I began debating just using the reverse vending machines and doing it myself. At this point in my relationship with BottleDrop, they weren’t earning their keep. So I head out with that in mind this morning.

I walk a quarter mile to the Safeway: there’s a sign posted saying the drop center is opening at 9 instead of the usual 7.

Ugh.

The struggle is real…annoying.

It’s only a little more than 30 minutes away. I consider going across the street to Nossa for a coffee but there’s already a line of dirty dudes with shopping carts so it’ll be a 30 minute plus a significant chunk of time while these recycling professionals make it look hard. Plus, as I told the Silver Fox afterward, I didn’t want everyone at Nossa feeling bad because I was rocking the Recycle Fabulous look with my green bag of cans while they sat there with their engineered pooches or in their clip in cycling shoes looking lame by comparison…

Instead, I set off on the alleged half mile to Freddy’s, still not sure whether I’ll drop the bag or recycle it manually. Turns out, it’s 8/10 of a mile. Close, Google…but no cigar.

When I arrive, there’s three employees standing around talking. I think two BottleDrop and one Freddy’s, based on polo colors. They’re talking about hot flashes. Specifically, the male is talking about how uncomfortable it is to sleep with his wife when it’s “80 degrees at 11 o’clock and my wife has a hot flash in bed” – a fact neither of his two female coworkers need to be told.

#ThemToo

The two recycling machines are propped open slightly. Even though they’ve been open almost two hours, I assume they are still just being prepared for the days recycling. Feeling like I won the lottery – since there are no ne’er do well millionaires in line – I ask if I can be the first.

“Oh, we don’t do that anymore! But if you have an account, you can just drop your bag right through that door!”

I don’t know if the BottleDrop lady’s enthusiasm is because she’s new on the job and showing her pride or if she’s just that happy to get away from her basic white guy coworker. I do know that I’ve kinda had it at this point as she keeps yammering away. When I open the door, it’s packed with green bags of recyclables.

Ok, BottleDrop…I’m gonna give you credit: you created jobs with your business. Ostensibly – based strictly off the two employees I saw today where normally there would be one – you’ve doubled your work force by eliminating the self-serve recycling machines.

But!

Both of your employees were standing around like they were waiting for the valet to fetch their Maserati when I arrived. They were looking fresh while I – after walking about a mile and a half in my thwarted recycling attempt – was dripping sweat.

To me, it looks like you’re wasting payroll. Not to mention my time…I want my penny back.

So, BottleDrop has a pretty big shitshow on their hands. It’s like the great idea was primarily a money grab and instead of having operational processes in place to ensure good service, they just throw money at the problem – be it in ABV credits or added payroll – to make it go away.

I’ve had two interactions with other companies this year that seemed to want to do better. That’s great, knowing your limits is admirable – like me avoiding large groups of people…it’s just not something I’m armed for and willing to deal with. Maybe I should acknowledge that using a weapons analogy when discussing large groups of people was a bad idea there…oops.

Starbucks.

Charbucks.

“Where self-hating coffee lovers go for coffee” is my unofficial slogan for them.

Outside of their Reserve Roastery that opened a few blocks from my place in Seattle, I can count the number of times I’ve been in a Charbucks in the last decade on one hand. Even if I’d had a fireworks accident as a child.

However, earlier this year – February, to be precise – I’d been forced by circumstance into one of their cafes. It was at the height of the second harassment allegation against my co-worker at my last job.

By the way, pretty sure that my last employer – Paradies – exists solely to make companies like BottleDrop look effective.

Anyway, I was on my way in to work on the day that two of the senior field managers were in town to conduct a formal investigation. I was fully expecting my peer to be terminated and was feeling a strange brew of empathy and relief for him and dread about the void his position’s vacancy would create in our operation because my boss absolutely sucked at people development…meaning their was a lot of shit only he knew how to do. So I was stressed.

But, speaking of shit…my stress manifested as an urgent liquification – Why is that not a word? – of my insides while I was heading into work. Seriously, I left the house feeling 100% ready to face the day. Twenty minutes later and two stops into my commute, I was running off the train looking for a bathroom.

Yup, Charbucks was the only place.

Now, being somewhat responsible and understanding that businesses do not have restrooms just to provide their employees with cleaning tasks during downtime, I resigned myself to buying a drink to fulfill my end of the “restrooms are for customer use” contract.

However, I had to go.

Unfortunately, I had entered from one door while an elderly couple was entering from another door, closer to the counter. We were the only customers in the store.

There were three employees behind the counter. One was making something against the rear counter with her back toward me. The other two were intently focused on this older couple as said couple stared at the menu above the counter.

I stood at the register, being ignored, clenching so hard that I was sweating.

“Let me know if I can answer any questions for you!” the cashier says to the couple.

“Can I order while they decide?” I ask, getting an “I’ll be with you in a moment” from the cashier. Her coworker is standing on the other side of her grinning at this old couple like they’re…I. Don’t. Know.

Optimistic and desperate, I go check the bathrooms. Locked.

I go back to the counter and ask too-happy-guy for the code, emanating distress.

“The code will be on your receipt!”, cheerily.

“Can I order now?”, I ask as the old couple asks something about whether they can get their breakfast sandwich open-faced. I’m afraid I’m about to make a gravy for their open-faced sandwich.

The too-happy-guy pries his attention away from the look-how-cute-they-are-ordering-sandwiches couple to tell me the cashier will be right with me.

She wasn’t.

But, having finally ordered my 16 ounce cold brew, I’m seeing a light at the end of my <ahem> tunnel.

“Did you want the nitro cold brew?”

Sure, whatever.

“And we don’t have 16 ounce cups, do you want a Tall or a Grande?”

Ok, lady…I don’t have the time to educate you on the fact that the entire world outside your cafe doors has 16 ounce cups and that they are just magically transformed into Talls and et als once they cross your threshold.

I’ll.

Take.

A.

Tall.

I pay and tip and then she starts to spin on her heel to walk away. “Hold on, can I get my receipt, please!”

“Oh, sure…I’m so used to it being in people’s app! I don’t think I’ve ever printed one!”

“That’s ok, I just really need it for the bathroom code!”

She takes a piece of scrap paper off the printer and then stamps it with the bathroom code.

Really? I’m disgusted by the unwillingness of too-happy-guy to stamp a fucking piece of paper to help a customer, but I don’t have time to go into that with him now.

I frantically make my way to the bathroom, unclenching as few muscles as possible to still be able to walk. Pretty sure that it’s just four muscles, legs are locked up and arms are contorted into claws as I do a zombie style shit stumble to the door.

You know, it could have been worse. Even success at that point would have cost 100% of my dignity, based on how desperate I surely looked trying to wait out the petty toilet tyrants working at Charbucks that day. Let’s just call the near-success Nicklecrap, since that was really all the evidence of my failure that left the cafe with me. It’s also a great riff of the way most people feel about Nickleback as a band.

I promise, that’s my last Nickleback joke.

I walked out of the cafe, briefly considering grabbing my tip back from the tip jar and leaving my coffee on the counter. I actually did try to leave my order there, but the third employee suddenly decided to be – pardon the entendres – worth a shit and reminded me not to forget. I took my drink, smiled and went home to change.

Of course, I tried the coffee before throwing it away.

Still crap.

Less than two months later, I’ve quit my shit company and the whole Starbucks Bathroom Debacle unfolds and I’m just sitting there reading about it and thinking, “Really, Charbucks? Really?!?”

I have some time to kill on my way home and then back to work.

I invest that time in distracting myself from the stressful day ahead by emailing my complaint to Charbucks. It’s a…sanitized version of what I just wrote. By the time I’m headed back to work, they’ve responded.

Ok, this is kind of impressive.

They are – of course – sorry. Not as sorry as they’ll end up being a couple months later. They want to give me a $15 gift card. Since I don’t have a rewards card with them – the only one they found for my email address hasn’t been used in years – so can they get my mailing address and they’ll just send a physical card.

That’s really nice of them, but really, just let the district manager know so that the bathroom Nazis at this store can be addressed.

They insist.

I give them my address and ask if they can send three $5 cards so I can use them as incentives for my employees, pointing out that my rewards account hasn’t been used in years.

The response was that they were super sorry, but the order had already been put through.

Ok, now that’s a fucked up reply. My request came through with my mailing address, so how could the order be “put through” before getting the information needed for the putting through?!?

You know what?

I let it lie and just say thank you. I’m not going to bitch about a company doing something nice for me.

You just thought to yourself, “Yet here he is, bitching about it”, didn’t you?

It’s okay. The same thought would have popped into my head, too.

But you know what else?

The cards never came.

Swing and a miss, SBUX.

My last story is similar yet hopefully quicker. I’m including it in the Grumpopotamus Diaries because this company did something over the top different in their pursuit of good customer service and good PR.

I was using my Kuhn Rikon peppermill to add pepper to my lunch back in June when the grinding mechanism dropped completely out of the bottom, adding not only whole peppercorns to my lunch but also some gears, springs and washers.

Ok. It was probably six years old. It had a good life. Ironically, I had a back up. I like the spicier peppercorns, which is what was in my now dead peppermill. My spare had regular tellicherry peppercorns in it for when I had company.

Basically, it’s lightly used.

Still, I’m a considerate enough host, right?

I take a self-congratulatory pic and post it to Instagram, pleased with myself for having a back up. I’m a regular boy scout in the kitchen.

Here’s the impressive part: Kuhn Rikon actually has a PR company that looks out for crap like this on social media. They reached out to me that day to offer a replacement.

I mean, I’m no fool…I said hell, yes!

They told me they would set it up and get me a new grinder. This was happening over a weekend, too!

Guess what?

Yup, never came.

It’s been two months. That’s probably a reasonable timeframe to expect fulfillment, right?

Here’s the deal, though. I’m pretty whole as far as this pepper grinder situation goes. I had my back up – which, truth be told, I got for free back when I worked for Sur la Table. I’m good.

What rubs me the wrong way is the overpromise/underdeliver aspect of this – and SBUX – customer service. I think any company worth a crap wants their customer experience to be the exact opposite. They want to overdeliver on customer expectations.

If they know enough to say that they need to farm these extraordinary types of customer service out so they don’t drop the ball, great! Do it! But don’t go snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by failing to follow through once your customer service team or your agency has made a commitment.

You lose all the points.

And then some bitter crank bitches about it in his blog.

Luckily, I don’t work for Bon Appetit or Business Insider, so no real jeopardy of my experiences going viral here…but if you know someone who does, feel free to let them know that I can write without cursing. J/S. End shameless plug.

Nope, wait…don’t forget to like and/or share! Now, end shameless plug.

Also, if you’re ever bored, google Bon Appetit Memes. So…disappointingly hilarious.

I know, I know…

I Took A Break

From being grumpy.

Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll be back to my normal Grumpopotamus self in the morning.

For today, though?

This has been me:

You see, e-scooters have come to Portland. You’d think I would have strong feelings about them, but I feel like the cacophonous complaints from the rest of the city has drowned me out so completely that I don’t even care any more.

Well, check that. I can still muster a sympathetic lil eye roll when someone else mentions the subject. But otherwise? Meh.

I’ve got 99 problems. E-scooters can be everyone else’s. I’m kind of just glad people are demonstrating an ability to experience the combination of low grade anger and impotence to effect change that is my daily struggle.

Go ahead, shake your fists in the air as these e-scooters silently and quickly surprise you from behind.

Rage at those windmills as people leave them scattered about without thinking of the impact their actions will have on anyone else.

Cluck your tongue in disapproval as you witness obvious violations of the simplest e-scooter operating guidelines.

…for all the good it’ll do you.

To their credit, Lime has made their operating guidelines pretty idiot-proof. To their fault, they seem to have willfully failed to realize that there is no bar so low that a #StupidAmerican won’t try and crawl under it.

Here are the rules, presented as pictographs so you barely need to know how words work to understand.I’m a little bothered that this handbrake thing needs to be explained.

There was one more about avoiding obstacles in the roadway, like potholes. I’m not in love with that one so much because I’m usually rooting for my pal Darwin anytime Stupid Americans are involved.

Hey, I don’t want bad things to happen to people. I do, however, expect their actions to support that they don’t want bad things to happen to themselves either, though.

Anyway, I’ve been listening to people carp about this or that e-scooter issue for a few weeks now. Most of the complaints tend to be one of three things:

1) Helmets

2) Riding on sidewalks

3) Scooter parking

I pretty much keep my own counsel on these conversations because, Darwin can use a win and I think these scooters can help take some of our bigger idiots out of the gene pool…I know, that was pretty savage. That said, I don’t want that win to come at the expense of some oblivious everyday Joe that’s texting as he walks down the street and trips over a carelessly parked scooter.

AKA: me.

If you remember the picture rules above, you’ll recall that there isn’t anything in the pictures that says “don’t ride on sidewalks”. As a matter of fact, I mistakenly believed that e-scooters were supposed to be used in bike lanes and sidewalks as opposed to traffic lanes.

I think I was wrong. But, aside from the stoplight picture, I only know that because I watched the maybe-minute-long instructional video on the Lime website.

How many people are gonna do that? Certainly not too many of the people complaining about the scooter users.

From what I gather from said video, you shouldn’t use e-scooters on sidewalks. I’m discerning that mainly from the demonstration video, where all scooting was done on the road and sidewalks were only shown with parked scooters. Riders were also told to obey all traffic laws and the helmet advisory was repeated.

Sorry, Darwin, old pal. If riders bother to watch this, you’re gonna get screwed.

Nevertheless, I’m just listening in on these conversations. I’m also assuming that when I complain about my grumpy old man triggers that I look like the sane e-scooter haters and not the frothy-mouthed versions.

It’s my blog, I can delude myself if I want to.

But my voyeuristic pleasure took an upgrade this week when I subscribed to Nextdoor. I’ve been hearing exasperated sighs from the Silver Fox lately when his phone Pavlov’s him and it’s not anything exciting like a text or a juicy news tidbit to fuel our coffee clatch conversation. “It’s just Nextdoor” hell say dismissively, without explaining.

So I joined.

At first, I totally got his exasperation:

Lost cats.

Inconsiderate dog owners.

People seeking recommendations.

But, then…the scooters!

Here’s a little snapshot of the conversation that’s gotten me through the last couple of days. Just my favorite parts, if you’ll pardon my editing out the repetitive stuff.

Hehe…that second guy kinda turned on the Original Poster by telling her that complaining on Nextdoor was pointless.

That last one really gave me an inner tee-hee moment. Not ten whole violations in a single hour!

The scoot-manity!

I just imagined that cranky lady sitting in the Adirondack chairs outside Lovejoy Bakery barely able to enjoy her luxury pastry and alternative milk latte for all the fist shaking she was doing. She sounds like the type that might make the staff make her a new latte since her first didn’t stay hot.

These scooters…they’re like Christmas!

Icing on the cake?

Our local free weekly rag, Willamette Week, ran a story after week one with a headline that basically congratulated us citizens for the fact that only one scooter had ended up in the Willamette River in the first week of use.

Seriously? What did they think would happen?!?

Stupid Americans.

I Took A Break

55,000!

Sadly, not the number of my followers on WordPress…or even page views, for that matter.

No, this is just what some random woman yelled at me yesterday as I was walking down the street.

Portland has a lot of street performers; buskers and whatnot. Like this shiny fella.

And of course, the Unipiper, who is always a treat to encounter.

One that I haven’t seen in quite sometime – to my relief – is the giant Pirate Clown! Although, I am a little concerned that someone might have…conquered him.

Anyway, part of me wondered if she was shouting the estimated number of street performers in the area. Another part briefly considered whether she might actually be one of them – with my luck, her schtick was guessing people’s weight and she had just yelled mine out.

As I was writing her off, she clarified: 55,000 acres.

Ok, thanks?

Now, I try to not watch the news too often because I don’t watch TV to enhance my naturally grumpy demeanor, rather to escape it. But I am savvy enough to intuit that she was commenting on the current state of forest fires in my fair Oregon.

55,000 is a great number of acres to be ablaze.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a spontaneous conversation with a rando. Usually, I’ve bellied myself up somewhere for some refreshment-slash-therapy-cum-company, though, so it was quite by reflex that I looked at my hand to see if I was holding a drink after her ejaculation.

(Enjoy that little giggity gift, Diezel.)

A glance skyward confirmed my assumption as to her meaning.

There’s some pretty dense smoke in our air these days, but at least – so far – we’ve been spared the ash fall that we had during last summer’s wildfires. If you want to know what snow in July looks like, any of us Oregonians can paint you a picture based on our last summer, which took on a slight nuclear winter feel.

Maybe it was August.

Maybe the exact when isn’t the point. That it looked like it was snowing at any point during the summer was.

As I hustled on by, I thought, “I know…I read the air advisory to stay inside today” and admitted to myself that just probably I didn’t need to be outside. My second thought was, “Look lady, I just wanted a Diet Coke, ok?” otherwise, I’m totally not opposed to at least slowing down for a chat with a relatively harmless street person.

Case in point:

However, I wasn’t feeling too charitable yesterday. My personage wasn’t feeling 100% to begin with, which I do worry is partially smoke particulate related. Also, I get a little reflexively cross when discussing forest fires because it’s usually caused by one of us Stupid Americans in the first place.

But even if I had been feeling chatty and inclined to slow down to indulge a rando on the street, it probably wouldn’t have been a great conversation…since she was smoking!

55,000!