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

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

Scared New World

Welp, I made it three days.

I’ve no doubt that I’m good for weeks on end of self-imposed isolation, but once I’m told to stay home, my natural obstinacy kicks in.

Obviously.

Not that I haven’t been keeping track of the number of people I’ve been within 6 feet of at the same time.

Friday: 6

Saturday: 3

Sunday: 4

Remember, I drive for Lyft, too. My back seat is within my 6 foot bubble – so traffic is pretty far down back there. I’d definitely say that my back seat is performing worse than the stock market!

Saturday, I attempted to cajole the Silver Fox into a glass of wine at our local since he had told me that he’d already been cajoled by his sons into joining their mother in her self-imposed quarantine. Since he didn’t have a return date, I suggested a bon voyage drink. I also reminded him that he could be a carrier and spread the virus into his ex-wife’s safety perimeter.

That worked as well as my attempt to milk a wine out of him, so I ordered a pizza.

Five minutes later, he sent me a pic of a glass of wine at the bar around the corner.

C’mon!

Of course, I had to stay home and wait for my pizza to be delivered to my door – and then left for me to pick up once the driver had left.

Yesterday, I had plans to meet The Kids for coffee. However, after a Sunday morning of driving in a deserted downtown Portland, I canceled.

I had three rides in two hours. Sunday mornings are usually pretty slow, but that’s about 50% down from what I’d usually encounter. Usually people are leaving town and I’ll pick up a couple airport rides and maybe even a return from an arriving traveler. Perhaps a ride of pride, if I’m out early enough. For sure, I’ll pick up several brunchers.

Nope. Those days are over.

I took a guy to work at Laughing Planet – a local “good food” cafe.

I got called to a hotel near my place downtown. Pulling up, I expected it was either an airport run or a brunch drop off. Uh-uh…I was taking this traveling couple to pick up their car. They hadn’t even left it because they got hammered the night before. Nope, these shrewd millennial travelers were juking the system and instead of paying $40 a night to park their car at their boutique hotel, had left it on a residential street across the river where parking is free and Lyft-ed to their hotel and back for ~$10 total.

Including tip.

Smart!

And then I took a guy to work. Not a nurse, as I expected because of the time. He was going to work at NikeTown. When I mentioned he was going in pretty early for a Sunday, he told me there was a mandatory meeting to talk about Nike’s decision to close their stores until the Coronavirus was managed.

After that morning of trolling for rides along a deserted Broadway and MLK – which are busy thoroughfares, I thought maybe being out and about was at best, being foolhardy and at worst, being part of the problem.

So I canceled my coffee date with The Kids. Hell, the CDC had just updated its guidance for crowds from 250 to 50.

This morning was similar to yesterday. Still needing an income stream, I decided to drive the rush hour and at least help get some medical personnel to work. Usually, I’ll have at least one ride to a hospital or clinic in the mornings, probably two depending on my start time.

Sure enough, my first ride was at about 6:40 and was a nurse going up to Oregon Health Sciences University – OHSU for short. She was also the newest member of the 1% Club, people I’ve given more than one ride to.

However, after thanking her for all she does as she exited my car, I didn’t have another ride for 65 minutes. Again, the streets looked post-apocalyptic and I thought about going home. After pulling down $25 in two hours yesterday, I lamented my potential $5 Monday and stubbornly kept cruising.

Usually, my rule is to point my car homeward between rides and if I make it home, stop. That, or to shut it down if I go a half hour without a ride.

But I’m old, I’m getting rather good at stubborn.

One of the things I learned from The Fox while he was sipping his wine alone on Saturday evening was that our local had decided that day to reduce service to only five days a week from 5-9 pm. I was amazed, an emotion that turned to shock when I learned that they had furloughed about 70% of their staff along with that decision.

Of course, this turned out to be only hours ahead of the decision by Washington Governor Jay Inslee to close all bars and restaurants. An executive order that itself barely beat California governor Gavin Newsome’s decision to do the same in California.

That’s kind of what prompted my solo-coffee outing this morning. I know the seating at Nossa Familia is pretty scarce, and I figured with the way the city was looking, I wouldn’t have any trouble being socially distant.

I was not wrong.

Even when someone did show up – as it turned out, it was the customer behind me…the only other patron – but we were still plenty of feet apart. Of course, once she sat down, she made a show of dramatically clearing her throat.

Anyway, knowing Oregon’s own governor – Kate Brown – has promised her own decision on either a curfew or temporary end of service for Oregon’s bars and restaurants, I thought this could be my last chance to hang out in a coffee shop for a few weeks.

So here I am.

I’d invited The ‘Phew out for dinner tomorrow, doing my part to make sure that particular college kid has enough pizza in his diet to keep going. But now that’s seeming like it may not happen.

It would be a bummer if we had to put it off for the foreseeable future. I guess I could always invite myself to my parents for dinner and take him out with me…which would also be nice, but in a different way.

While all of this is going on and even sounds practical, it’s against the backdrop of exacerbated stupid American idiocy.

This was simultaneously hilarious and horrifying.

Hilarious, because Panic At The Costco brilliantly sends up both the name of the band – Panic At The Disco – and riffs on the one intelligible line from probably their best known chorus, which is a shouted

I chime in with “Haven’t you people ever heard of closing the goddamn door?”

Which some clever person co-opted by changing “closing the door” to “washing your hands”.

Horrifying because – well, lots.

First, because in 2020 we really are being confronted with how few people seem to actually understand the hows and whys of hand washing.

It’s pathetic.

Second, because Panic At The Costco is real. We’ve been seeing hoarding stories of toilet paper for a couple of weeks now. And that was before the shit really hit the fan last weekend.

Naturally, on top of Moronvirus, Portland weather decided to deliver snow last Saturday. Snow forecasts here will reliably strip a store of perishables. Add in an airborne virus and these stupid Americans will purge stores of all things crapping paper. Maybe it’s because their heads are so far up their asses that they suspect a runny nose could reasonably lead to diarrhea.

Who knows? I find it best to try and not understand this mindset too well. While I’m all for seeking to understand, somewhere in the back of my mind is my mom’s voice warning me about making faces when I was a kid.

What if my mindset gets stuck like TP Hoarders’ mind’s while I’m trying to find the logic in their actions?

I dunno. Maybe Stupid New World is a better name.

Scared.

Stupid.

Probably interchangeable in this current circumstance. Sadly, I am only reasonably certain that one of those adjectives will pass within the next month or so…

Scared New World

So, I Cured Coronavirus

You’re welcome.

Ok, not really. But I feel a rant coming on and think that’s a longer commitment than I can offer on Friday morning – for instance, it’s now Friday night – so I’m posting something pithy to take my mind off of that other shituation. Maybe tomorrow or Sunday I will let my EOG/White Privilege out to whine.

You’re still welcome.

Damn. Now I want wine.

Earlier this week, I had a doctor appointment and found myself sitting in a waiting room with a hipster/homeless/homo-type who thought he was funny. He coughed – incorrectly – and after a few moments looked around and chuckled “Coronavirus” at the room.

Definitely homeless.

Naturally, I woke up the next day with a sore throat. One of those stand-alone types of sore throat where the place that your throat and sinuses meet is burning. Y’know, like after you do some coke?

Ok, me either. But I have these oversharing friends…

Anyway, I bought some Zicam and figured I’d nip this in the bud. However, as the day wore on, either that Zicam was doing a great job or my not-so-secret-hypochondria was asleep at the wheel. I’d barely managed to imagine a runny or stuffy nose – let alone manifest anything serious.

The next day, however, I succeeded in waking up congested. After a few hours, I began to wonder if I should email my doctor, just to be safe. I took a Zicam while I fretted about it and a couple hours later, I went into my medicine drawer looking for more serious ammo.

Y’know, just in case.

Yeah, I don’t even know what some of that crap is. I know there’s writing on the foil backing, but when I tossed the boxes away, I hadn’t anticipated my eyes reminding me of the age I strive so hard to forget.

Then my eyes settled on the Zirtec and I thought, “Yes! That’s all this is, allergies…again!” It’s an annual rite of passage from Winter to Spring for me. Having only developed allergies six years back, this ritual still catches me off guard. Plus, Portland weather being Portland weather, I never know if this will occur during our Fake Spring or later in the year when actual Spring rolls into town.

So I patted myself on the back, popped a Zirtec and went about my day.

Two hours later, I realized I felt fantastic! Well, for me.

The next day, I did the same.

Also, Thursday.

And again this morning. That was when I realized I’d been taking Zirtec that was…vintage?

Ok, it expired almost five years ago…while my poor mother facepalms and wonders where she went wrong, I’m patting myself o the back and wondering what they’ll name the process of taking “moldy” allergy meds to “cure” a flu.

I’m not going to warn you not to try this at home. If you’re dumb enough to consider me a role model, I’m happy to get credit for the Darwin assist. <grimace emoji>

So, I Cured Coronavirus

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

    Take Four

    Well, here we are…another day, another loaner.

    Let’s see…where did I leave off last on my misadventures in being a lemon rancher?

    I think my last post was when Pat was in the shop awaiting the arrival of a replacement door seal that had been mis-shipped ground versus 2-day air. That ended up taking 11 days instead of the expected two.

    The important thing is that I got Pat back, right? After both passenger side door seals had been replaced, surely that would be that.

    Surely?

    Shirley?

    Oh, what a fool I must be to believe that.

    It was raining as I was leaving the dealer with my second new door seal in place, I reached back just to feel the satisfaction of a dry carpet in inclement weather.

    Naturally, it was soaking wet.

    What a craptastic situation.

    I mean, if the carpet is wet, it either means they are so incompetent that the seal they replaced was done incorrectly and was immediately leaking or they had never dried out the water damage when they did the repair. That’s the two options I can come up with, and I’m not one to just assume people are incompetent – despite best evidence to the contrary.

    In this case, I believed I had two brand new and properly installed door seals. But I was beginning to really have trouble deciding which was worse: if someone simply forgot to dry out the carpet or if the leak was simply just mis-identified and was yet to be discovered and repaired.

    One scenario was definitely more problematic than the other. If someone had deliberately returned my car to me without repairing the actual water damage…how friggin’ petty, right? I mean, assuming the seals were both installed correctly, it was either intentionally petty or half-assed work – after all, how can you know the leak is repaired if you can’t see whether or not new damage is occurring?

    The next day at work, I made use of my breaks and downtime by doing a little research into next steps. It was looking like suing the dealer was going to be my last recourse.

    I had to think about what I wanted. At this point, a functional vehicle was looking like too big an ask. So if I couldn’t have that, what would make me “whole” in this transaction?

    I knew I wanted my $200 that I paid for the first door seal returned.

    After losing out on two weeks of driving income – you can’t drive for Lyft without vehicle insurance in your name, and you can’t cover a vehicle you don’t have a registration for – and in that two week timeframe I was down about 1/4 of my monthly budget. That made February tough, and March wasn’t looking to start off any better.

    But what I really want is out of this car. It gives me dread to just consider dealing with a lemon for the foreseeable future. I was glad I had bought the extended warranty, but with only about 40% of the first three repairs falling under its protection, I was worried about the reality of owning Pat on day 366.

    That made me wonder. Could I trade this off? Not just financially, either…ethically, could I dump Pat the Problem on someone else?

    Hell, for that matter, could I even break even on a trade-in transaction? That took me to Kelley Blue Book to see. The value seemed to have held up over six months a lot better than Pat was. Which made me consider my purchase price. All things being equal, I knew from pre-purchase research that I had paid a fair price, but after the history of owning Pat, I was thinking that all things weren’t actually equal.

    The price I had paid was middle of the road for a car in good to excellent condition.

    That did not describe Pat.

    So I looked at the price for a car in fair condition – the lowest quotable condition on KBB. My purchase price was at the top of the scale.

    I’m thinking that maybe I should have paid more toward the lower end of that price range…which is where I felt I had a legitimate claim.

    But still a claim that fell below the threshold for suing in court, which is over $10,000, essentially funneling me back toward Small Claims.

    What I learned in looking into Small Claims was that before the court would consider an action valid, I had to notify the other party of my intent and let them have an opportunity to make good.

    Which I respected – even though one more chance makes the other three opportunities the dealer had to “make good” look like making good was maybe optional.

    At least until you email the GM and include the word lawsuit in your message.

    And that’s how I ended up sitting with the GM and Service Manager for an hour and a half today.

    Mind you, most of that was spent with me listening to him talk about his 25 years in the business and the math of selling cars. Occasionally, the Service Manager would interrupt with something equally unimportant to me – like the tight control on replacement parts. It seems if you order a duplicate part, you have to attach it to a vehicle. That was by way of explaining why they couldn’t simply order a duplicate seal once they learned the original seal had been mis-shipped the last time around.

    Smooth, right?

    But I still didn’t care – but only because the car hadn’t been returned to me completely repaired. Had that happened, all would be just fine and dandy.

    Yet, here these two were, sitting across the table from me trying to convince me that they didn’t mean to screw me in this deal.

    Lawsuit…powerful word. Motivating, in fact.

    And after talking to them, I don’t believe they tried to screw me. I never did. But if the reality is that I feel screwed after my car being in the shop three times in six months – literally sitting in their shop/yard for a full month – that the car I own is not the car they thought they were selling.

    So, there I am – feeling inadvertently screwed.

    It feels strangely similar to being intentionally screwed.

    In the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s #MeToo convictions, this was an ok reminder. With harassment – yes, rape is different than harassment, but both fell under the #MeToo umbrella – we are coached that intent isn’t the issue. Someone can harass you without actually intending their actions to be harassing.

    Y’know, like sometimes people are just genuinely dicks and until someone says, “That’s harassment”, the results of their actions are never their concern. That’s so America, too. I’ve been told over the course of my life to get along with bullies – both personally and professionally – because it’s easier to tell someone to buck up than to effectively change or stop someone else’s behavior.

    There I am, feeling torn about whether these guys need another chance or if I should reasonably feel like the only thing that is reasonable is a value correction on my purchase + lost driving income + refunds on my repair and extended warranty purchases.

    And if I throw a fit and demand that my way is the only way, then I’m the bully, right?

    Which is how I ended up in Renee the Renegade. I’m actually trying to remember in v1 of my loaner Renegades was silver or white. I remember white, but can’t be sure…but what a trip if I ended up in the same loaner twice in about 3 months.

    Of course, the price for me being reasonable and giving them a fourth chance was to subject them to a little Xtopher Life and Management Lesson.

    Namely, the GM’s big argument in support of the vehicle’s quality when he sold it was to wave a stack of papers at the DoJ complaint I filed.

    I told him that checklists are great…as long as someone is inspecting the checklist checkers. At the very least, that was obviously not happening here. If it was, then my car being returned after its third visit to the shop with soaking wet carpets was more of a conspiracy than it was incompetence.

    There’s a thought that’ll bounce around my head for a few forevers.

    But he acknowledged that it was true, and that he couldn’t explain how that would have happened – only that it shouldn’t have. A statement that’s smack dab in the middle of denial and accountability.

    In the meantime, I’m not sure what will happen with Pat. The GM offered to shop another deal around for me – and I don’t know if doing so wouldn’t have been the smarter move. I don’t feel ready to make a trade yet. I think I’ve talked before about how if I’d known I was going to love driving with Lyft so much, I’d have gotten a more bells-y and whistle-y vehicle. From that standpoint, getting something with leather seats and a heated steering wheel seems like an obvious yes. But the end result of this nightmare being these guys selling another car…that doesn’t seem exactly right to me.

    So, I’m in a holding pattern for a couple of days. But they promised me I’d be back in the drivers seat by Friday so I can hopefully get March started off not too far behind the 8-ball…we’ll see.

    Take Four

    Lemme Fix This For You…

    Here’s a shituation – and you can feel free to call this “being judge-y”. I don’t care, I’m making a point. Personally, I prefer to call this an observation. Since it’s also an accurate observation, people will see it for the indictment that it is.

    Hopefully.

    I was scrolling through the notties on the asocial media this morning whilst being lazy in bed and came across this gem. A real stand out in a bumper crop of guys exemplifying how gays have gone from fabulous to frivolous in just a couple of generations.

    But on Grindr, all you really need to have in order to set yourself apart from that group is a face pic.

    Or a shirt.

    Either way – pretty low bar.

    Here’s the profile:

    This guy needed to be slapped or shaken as a child. Maybe if he’d had a mildly traumatizing childhood, he wouldn’t have grown up to fetishize those things – assuming that when he says “wild” in his profile, he’s talking about kink. And his Instagram confirms he lives in Portland, so I’m assuming kink is a given.

    Actually, there’s just a lot of people here who came to Portland, didn’t get it, can’t afford to leave on a PT barista income and are using kink to just feel something besides their oppressive existential gloom.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself.

    Don’t worry, I’m not going all the way back to the beginning beginning – reading regulars will already know my take on open marriages.

    Synopsis: you’re with the wrong person.

    Everthemess, here’s this guy imploring potential suitors – if you can call them that, since the best case with this guy is missing out completely an orgasm – that they be exciting.

    I’m unreasonably excited that he at least said “please”. Albeit in a totally lazy manner. Thankfully, he didn’t bore me with a pithy “Plz”…there is a difference.

    No, the beginning I’m going back to is actually only as far away as that headline.

    More specifically, the follow up.

    Pls be exciting

    If you follow that up with “Happily married”, I’m left with little choice but to call BS.

    Here…

    Crappily married

    I fixed it.

    Pls be exciting + happily married = you don’t understand the core concept.

    I’m not even going to parse out how the words “fit” and “tummies” don’t actually belong in the same sentence. Well, ok…but I’m only sparing him one thought there:

    This guy put the “moron” in oxymoron.

    I’ve stopped trying to understand the avalanche of people in open relationships. It’s beyond my capabilities to help.

    However, what I’m left with is the shock and amusement that these people think they can do better. I mean, seriously…you trapped tricked one person into a relationship, that already seems like a lot for you. Now you think you deserve random hookups, too?

    I’m just gonna say it, those random hookup? Well, that’s the best you deserved. But this is America, by all means expect more, you Montessori level Stupid American.

    There’s an old saying, “Boring people get bored”. Sweetie, if you need exciting people around to be excited, well…

    At the same time, since I’ve visited the Instagram you linked in your profile, let’s talk about that. You took a trip to Thailand in December with your husband. That certainly seems like what some people would consider a “trip of a lifetime” – not to mention exciting.

    Yet, here you are, hand out for more.

    I hope you don’t mind my saying you are a bit more physically attractive than your spouse.

    Couple years younger, too?

    I’ll go out on a limb and assume he paid for the trip.

    As well as your gym membership to some douche-level gym. You’re not coming across as someone who’d be satisfied with a pedestrian level gym like 24 Hour or LA Fitness.

    So boring, those gyms.

    As I’m assuming your spouse must be. If you’re looking for exciting – I’m assuming it’s not as an escape to all the excitement of your home life.

    But, well…I guess my earlier synopsis covered that. Leaving us to riddle out how you failed to grasp the core concept behind the phrase “happily married”.

    Unless

    Are you defining happiness as having some rube provide you with the foundational levels of Maslow’s pyramid?

    My guess is that’s the elephant in the bedroom. That awkward time of the week (for his sake, I hope getting a little unenthusiastic weekly sex from his future ex is the return on his investment in you) where you’ve gotta “pay rent” to the guy who probably does love you and demonstrates it by making sure your physiological and safety layers are solid.

    Leaving you to shuffle uncomfortably from one foot to the other when confronted with level three. Hoping your asocial media trolling drops someone hot enough exciting in your lap.

    If it happens, I’m sure the three of you (you, your exciting person and your community property divorce settlement) will all be very happy together…until you realize that your top tiers of esteem and self-actualization were just bastardizations of pride and unnecessary levels of physical fitness built of someone else’s projection of love and belonging on to you.

    Then you’ve got to hope your landing from the fall from that top tier isn’t too devastating for you to start over at the third level again.

    Hopefully, that’s an exciting challenge for you, Sugar.

    It’s certainly not exciting at all to observe. It’s depressing as all get out, to be completely honest.

    I’ve lived both sides of the scenario this guy is embracing – well, not the delusional crappily married part, so I guess I started out a little better prepared than him – and you know what? I’ll take my occasional ennui over his absent excitement any day.

    Either you know why, or you don’t. There’s really no explaining it to people who don’t get it – kind of like trying to reason with Trump supporters at this point. If they still support him, it’s absent of reason.

    But I still get out of bed each day hoping there are enough people who understand that not getting it isn’t the first step in the journey; knowing that you probably don’t even know you aren’t getting it is step one.

    Those people are exciting!

    Lemme Fix This For You…

    Ongoing Pat-scapades

    Well, the part my dealership ordered for Door Seal Repair: Part Duex should have arrived either Friday or Saturday – depending on when the clock starts on “two days to arrive”. I thought it wise to just check in on Saturday and get an update.

    Mind you, this communication is all done through a text messaging system, so it’s not like I’m making them drop what they’re doing to answer my inquiry. Rest assured, this text message system has not impaired my ability to scream bloody murder at them for their continued successes in fucking up an attempts to fuck me over.

    Nothing.

    Sure, maybe my service tech is off on Saturdays, but you’d think someone would check messages…

    Well, I would think that. Me and my uncommon knowledge.

    Then on Sunday, I get a text reminding me of my drop off the following morning.

    I mean, A) no one told poor Allie that my car was already onsite, but what’s good communication gonna do for an outfit, anyway? And, B) my appointment was for 7:00, which I thought was when they arrived/opened. Given my myriad experience with these folks, I also know that these appointment slots are rather informal. Last time I dropped my car off – maybe…three weeks ago, now? – my service tech was surprised to see me and when I mentioned that I thought there would be a bigger crowd, he kind of poo-poo-ed the overall effectiveness of the whole appointment notion.

    But, since I did have questions…

    My car is already there, since it was not usable for work, a dropped it off early. A part was ordered, with a two day delivery, and should be there by now.

    Can you confirm it is? If so, I should be picking it up tomorrow. If not, I’ll still need a loaner until it’s done. But I’d rather not get up at 6 to get it. Could it be held until later in the day?

    I know, I know…I didn’t proofread my text. But, it turns out that my typos will only be seen by you since the only follow up I’ve gotten to those questions was this:

    Poor Allie isn’t even real! Still, she’s probably their best employee.

    Anyway, my tech – Joseph – texts me back this morning in response to my Saturday message with this BS…

    So I tell him that I’ll be in around lunchtime to pick up my loaner. At about 12:30, I set out on foot to the dealership which is only about a mile and a half away.

    At least it’s a beautiful day!

    I get there…any guesses?

    No loaner.

    To quote the prophet Kathy Griffin

    Oh, for fuck sake!

    They decided to comp me a rental from Enterprise, telling me that they would pick me up in 5 minutes.

    Well, the wait was longer than my walk to the dealership took, so either I walk really fast or these guys are less tight with honesty than the GOP.

    Back to that whole “good communication” thing, when I finally got to the Enterprise place, I got charged a “Totally refundable $50 deposit” to which I replied,

    Well, if it’s as totally refundable as my comped rental from the dealership, I see a good deal of hassle in my future.

    Nonetheless, here’s the new ride at least through next Monday.

    There was a BMW and Porsche SUV on the lot and I – totally jokingly – asked if I couldn’t have one of those. The rental guy replied, totally serious, “Sure, although that would probably run you a little out of pocket!”

    Nice try.

    My annoyance – I’m oddly kind of over the ~$900 bucks I could have made driving during Pat’s most recent spa visit – is that somehow the logic of spending $385 to rent me a car for seven days is superior to just getting another damn door seal on a plane that would get here in two days.

    I’m not surprised these jokers didn’t think of that – I’m surprised they are both employed and still in business.

    Idiots.

    Ongoing Pat-scapades

    I Get The January Thing, Now

    First, I feel like I should remind you about that time I was immortalized in a meme…

    “They” even made t-shirts!

    Now, while the people who know me consider how likely this actually is to be true, I can explain the January thing to the rest of you. Then we can all regroup and move on to the meat of this post together.

    Seriously, social media is on fire – once again – with memes like this.

    Apparently, January seems like a long month…

    Maybe it’s all the exercise?

    Perhaps the no drinking resolutions?

    Regardless, I’m witnessing a lot of this type of behavior

    For me, January is my birthday month, so I’ve always kind of looked forward to it. On top of that, the last two years, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo in November, taking December as a “down month” to distance myself from my project before getting into writing and editing mode again in January.

    What I’m saying is that it’s a month I look forward to.

    But not this year.

    Well, ok, I did look forward to it, but it burned off. The month proceeded apace for the first few weeks, and then the last 9 days have been like boogie boarding in the La Brea Tar Pits.

    On top of that, the effect seems to be amplifying on some whack-a-doodle three day cycle.

    That realization hit me this morning, on the last day of this fucking year month.

    I was driving home from a UA for a new job I start on Tuesday when I noticed someone had won the $350 million Powerball. Now, I’d checked the tickets the Silver Fox had picked up earlier in the week and knew we hadn’t won. Still, there was a shadow of hope that that had been the rule. This provided confirmation that there had, sadly for most, been an exception.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still buy a ticket for $40 mil, but the SF doesn’t like to invest for less than a $100 million potential return.

    Anyway, there I was, driving home all mopey in The Fox’s car – what’s that? Why is Pat still at the spa?

    Well, they aren’t. Well, weren’t. After a week in the shop and $200 out of pocket, I picked Pat up last Friday to reports of a successful door gasket replacement followed by a dry – my tech stressed it was bone dry – five hour shower test.

    I took off from the dealer and went to work my part-time HR gig, excited to do some driving after work that evening.

    In true Xtopher fashion, the first person I picked up following work that day was living in an eerily adjacent orbit to mine.

    I picked her up about six blocks from work, at a satellite City of Portland building. My part-time gig – as you probably won’t recall – is providing contract staff to…the City of Portland. This has happened on several occasions, so I wasn’t anything other than mildly amused by this occurrence.

    I checked her drop off destination: Landmark Ford. Once she confirmed it, I mentioned picking up my car that morning after getting the door seal replaced.

    That’s what I’m having done! Although, I hope mine is more successful than yours…

    Then I hear squishing and splashing and turn my head enough to see her moving her feet up and down in a pool of water.

    To my credit, I didn’t slam on the brakes or vocalize the expletive I was thinking. That would have been something like this…

    I called the shop the next day and was told they could get me in on February 3rd…over a week away. I spent the rest of the weekend driving food around instead of people for Postmates, but it just wasn’t the same.

    Turns out, I’m that chatty old lady you sit next to on every flight you take. I love talking to people and Lyft gives me that every day social paycheck. The Lyft community is filled with awesome people with fun stories to share…and I miss them. Especially when I’m bored at home.

    And they seem to tolerate me pretty well, too. So I’m not just victimizing my Patsengers like that chatty old airplane broad.

    How do I know?

    I average 25% in tips each week.

    Also,

    Yeah, I’m gonna be humbly smug for a while after that. As a matter of fact, given the timing, I’m choosing to believe that this was left by Rashida Tlaib, who I got the privilege of driving around earlier that week in my loaner.

    Yup. I had 1/435th of the US House of Representatives in my car last week!

    She’d been in town for a Coalition of American-Islamic Relations event where she was the keynote speaker. She was a delight and I wished my ride with her had been longer.

    Anyway, after a frustrating weekend, I decided to drop my car off at the dealer on Tuesday. I worked my HR gig on Monday and was heading home after a meeting Tuesday morning, thinking about how quickly my financial bridge for February had collapsed and dreading paying to park my car on the street all day – and for most of the rest of the week.

    I pulled over and did some stress breathing and text therapy with The Fox. He told me what I wanted to do – which is the validation I wanted that what I was going to do was rational.

    I dropped my car off at the dealer and told them they could store it until the appointment on the 3rd.

    The Fox picked me up and promised I could borrow his car for work on Wednesday and a Thursday.

    Now, for those of you still back on my urinalysis appointment this morning…yeah, I’d gotten a new job. That was the meeting I was at on Tuesday prior to my meltdown that led to me tossing my problems keys at the Jeep tech and abandoning Pat.

    I’d been having weird discomfort at my HR gig the last few weeks. I was feeling ineffective. Not because I was being told I was doing things wrong or because the feedback I was getting was lackluster.

    It was quite the opposite, actually, but the owner of the company was growing more and more stressed at work and coming in later and later or even less and less.

    At the beginning of December, she’d asked me to prepare an end of year memo for the contract staff. Just reminders like updating addresses for tax time, recognized holidays, what to do in the event of inclement weather…pretty basic stuff. I cracked out a first draft and sent it to her. She likes to edit. Either my content or just to put my words into her voice.

    She never sent it out.

    This isn’t uncommon – I had been told in my first week that she wanted me to edit some policies and add updated information for the Employee Handbook. At first, she wanted to work with me on it. Then she started asking for what I had and I figured out that I should just do it. I submitted my suggestions to her for editing and the employment attorney’s sign off in early November.

    Nothing.

    What’s annoying about this is that one policy in particular needed some clarity. It’s the Alternative Transportation Benefit.

    Basically, anyone who gets to work without using a personal vehicle gets a monthly $30 offset from the company.

    The only thing was that there was no process. Every pay period – and I’m barely exaggerating, I think 9/12 of the payrolls I had done included an ATB for one or more employees…and the only tracking was memory.

    I’d even included the new process in the year end email she’d asked me to draft so that we could start the new year clean.

    But she didn’t send it.

    So, I sent my own version out just before Christmas with just the ATB and address update request. I’m pretty sure that was the second point.

    People – some, not all, of course – still submitted their ATB for the final payroll run of last year.

    Idiots.

    Then, on the first run of 2020, the owner decided we should just pay everyone who usually submits for January.

    So I did.

    Even knowing this would be a double payment for some. At least she was tacitly acknowledged that she knew what I had tried to do, even though only 20% of the usual ATB users complied with the new directive.

    Not my circus, not my circus, not my circus…

    I even got an “I forgot” email from one of our biggest Problem Child employees this week. I knew we would pay her – even though she wasn’t one of the employees that usually claimed the benefit. At least she’d read my email. When I told the owner about it, she behaved like our Problem Child always used the ATB.

    Of course, I checked the payroll database…

    Once.

    She’d claimed the ATB once in her tenure – which began shortly before my own. And I remember when that was, since it was the first payroll I processed. She was technically not eligible since the policy is one of those “after 30 days of employment” policies.

    Of course, we paid her anyway. The owner is just pro-employee like that.

    Then the Problem Child claimed the benefit again two weeks later on the next payroll.

    Bless her pointy little head.

    Sure, in true to her fashion, she’d fucked up the execution, but a writer likes to know he’s read, ok?

    Anyway, two Fridays back, I’d asked my handler to look for other positions for me. I like the owner and the recruiter.

    And I love the Chief Feline Officer.

    But I knew that the owner wasn’t going to change her behaviors that triggered me, nor did I have a reasonable expectation that she should. Well, except that she asked my advice on things and my take there is that peoples behaviors should actually reflect an effort to change if you bug me looking for feedback.

    Sidebar: this just came on in my place.

    🎼🎼I think a change, a change will do you good🎼🎼

    But that’s just my $.02…and if I take the random music happening while I write as indication that the universe agrees with me? So what!

    Back to my veiled beyond recognition point…Tuesday afternoon I get the call that the new client wants me.

    That felt good, and honestly, I think there’s room to grow not only into a permanent role, but also from simply a payroll position into the open HR position they mentioned during my interview. I wouldn’t complain!

    Really, I wouldn’t!

    Even though the trade off here is that I have to go back to a five day job.

    I went into work the next day with a plan to tell the owner the news. Partly expecting her to revisit taking me from temporary to 1099 employee, which was something we’d discussed in late October. I walked away when she offered me what she had paid my predecessor.

    As a company employee.

    I was born at night, but it wasn’t the night before that conversation.

    Just kidding, I was born during the day.

    But still, if I’m taking on the financial burden of city, county, state and federal self-employment taxes…well, it isn’t going to be for less than nothing.

    Seriously, it would be a financial step backward.

    Meanwhile, she’d be saving about 45% of what she’d been paying my temp agency. I’d gone into the conversation thinking we could agree on a rate that would cover my 27% (minimum) tax liability and still save her 25%.

    But I thought versus losing me, she might go back to that table.

    Little did I know, my handler had told her about my new gig Wednesday morning before the owner came to the office. I know this because I received an email from the owner at about 10:00 congratulating me and telling me that it was my last day.

    Mentally, I pictured a couple more chunks of concrete falling off of my financial bridge for February.

    And that’s where my unending and snowballing January ends: with five days off between gigs with zero opportunities to earn money driving between the two jobs.

    And it was seeing that someone else had won the Powerball on Wednesday night that finally triggered me.

    But as long as the hit I took off my vape last August doesn’t blow my UA out of the water, February will be a better month.

    January 2020…you were one hell of a year. Bite me.

    I Get The January Thing, Now

    Well, That Was A Surprise

    You know, when I tapped out my quick observational post yesterday about misspellings and malapropisms, I really didn’t expect much to come of it.

    ~150 words

    ~400 followers

    It just didn’t seem like anything more than therapeutic whining into the web on my part. And it’s not like I’ve ever expected AtLeastIHaveAFrigginGlass to have a viral moment. My readers read me for what I assume is either entertainment or cautionary tale on their part.

    Plus, I’m not a millennial. In my day, having a viral moment could have killed me. Still might, thanks to anti-vaxxers.

    True to the norm of my form, I got a few likes, some comments here on WordPress and a few of the same over on my blog’s lil Facebook page. I guess it was the range of the comments that struck me; topical and emotional range.

    Frustration.

    Location.

    I mean, this was just a couple careless and unguarded moments of intelligence fail.

    But then I also got texts.

    Friends telling me they know they need to proof their texts now before sending them – one called out specifically before sending them to me – or reminding me that I know that they know that they don’t proofread their texts. Hell, my best friend and I have that conversation in some way, shape or form weekly – it’s not like it’s a deal breaker for our friendship, it’s more a source of amusement.

    FYI, for his part, the Silver Fox tried to guess who the “ethnically” challenged person was.

    But I felt like some comments were a reminder of where I was way back when my friends first started calling me out for my grumpiness. I hashtagged my post with #StupidAmericans because that’s the theme it fit. I remember how…angry I used to get about the embarrassingly stupid things I would observe people doing in their daily lives. Maybe not so much angry as just so surprised that I had a physical as well as emotional reaction to the situation.

    It would almost always fade to a sad, shocked amusement at the state of intellect in America. Now I think my observational reaction is more resigned.

    Yup. Still dumb.

    Without investing too much effort into quantifying whether our trajectory is toward more or less dumb or maybe even holding a steady level of stupid.

    C’mon, though…more stupid is clearly the correct assumption here.

    Take it from Antoine.

    I think – other than defensiveness, and you know who you are! – that the responses that were loudest involved overcompensated people in the workplace. Hell, there was enough material about workplace nincompoops to take the qualifier out of that and just call them People Who Are Shockingly Holding Down A Job.

    What do we expect, though?

    I saw a text this morning that was something to the effect of:

    People today will never know the terror of printing out directions from MapQuest and then making a wrong turn, “Too bad, now you’re lost forever!”

    It’s true, too. When we miss a turn in our Nav apps, it reroutes us without even telling us we missed it.

    I joke with The Fox often that I don’t need a brain, I have a phone.

    Occasionally, I’m surprised to find myself in a situation where I’m discussing something with a group of friends and realize that we are collectively trying to reason something out or recall a fact. More surprising than collaborating on the answer is that none of us reaches for our phones to get the answer.

    I actually enjoy those moments. There aren’t enough of them – they also give me hope.

    Aside from technology dumbing us down, there’s the foundational effect of our country’s family erosion.

    Kids aren’t raised by a parent anymore, well…not actively raised. Let alone raised by a co-habitating (I know, not a word!) set of parents. I think most parents get through the day with a silent prayer that their kid remained self-guided for the duration of their workday. When they interact, it’s more as friends or equals – a parenting flaw of convenience for the parent.

    I mention that because I used to watch my sister and brother-in-law parent their son and talk to him like an adult to elevate his thought process and social skills. Now, I think parents talk to their kids like friends or peers in order to be the cool mom or reach backward for relevance so their kids can help keep them remain cool.

    I remember seeing an Albert Finney movie once, just a story about growing up. One of his daughters is talking to him about their relationship and he says something like, “I never really thought of you kids as children”.

    She asks what he considered them and he replied matter of factly, “Pets”.

    I was amused by that situation, but never thought of a future where that would be the high water mark for quality parenting.

    At least the master/pet relationship has a hierarchy. Sure, in my own, Myrtle is the Alpha…but there’s still rules and consequences. And when she does something wrong, she knows it was wrong. It’s written all over her smug little cat mug.

    School is government funded daycare.

    Teachers don’t teach anymore. They are still way under compensated for what they endure, managing to somehow come out of the worst professional situations still sane after playing relationship counselor between parents and kids at best and defense against a united parent/child front at worst.

    United in denial, by the way.

    Because more often than not in school, we aren’t learning English and grammar or math and science…and most certainly not cursive.

    We’re learning how to get away with things and what to do when we fail to get away with something.

    That what to do part? Form an alliance with our parent – by manipulating them – against the teacher. Getting busted is as much an indictment of ones parent as it is an inconvenience to the student. It seems parents respond emotionally to that inconvenience with anger toward the teacher for interrupting their day versus disappointment in their offspring.

    How can that system manufacture humans who are prepared to face the world armed with a baseline knowledge of the proper use of there/their/they’re let alone be productive members of a world culture.

    Have you ever asked yourself whether the apps we use make life better or easier?

    I think there is an absolute difference.

    Take mating apps disguised as dating apps – because they are such an easy target, sure – as a perfect example. Getting sex has become easier, because it’s now a la carte.

    Some people go into the app looking for sex exclusively.

    Shooting fish in the proverbial barrel.

    Others go into the app with hope and then abandon hope and take sex as their consolation prize when dates don’t materialize. Let’s not kid ourselves, though…they don’t abandon hope so much as they do their values. Every time they give it up for a stranger, you know in the back of their heart is a timid voice singing Maybe This Time.

    Newsflash: Probably not. Maybe next time, though…

    Sometimes I have to remind myself what my goal was when I wrote my first book – No One Of Consequence.

    Money.

    I mean…empowering a reader. It was important to me for a couple of reasons.

    First: Gays used to be fabulous. Now, we’re frivolous. A friend posted this on my Facebook timeline this morning.

    I love this friend. She’s funny and bold and generous and caring and she’s a survivor.

    In this case, she was also wrong. But thirty or even twenty years ago, she would have been right.

    But then AIDS decimated gay culture. What we managed to cobble together to replace it wasn’t better, it just wasn’t nothing. Speaking of trajectories…it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it still wasn’t actually good.

    So, yeah, my book took on the challenge of showing gays reaching back to elevate newer generations of gay men and help make them into citizens we can be proud of. It’s an example of what we should do for one another as people – not just as a gay subculture.

    Second, I spent a lot of time being angry about Stupid Americans. We became so insular. Not just as a country, but as individuals.

    Our protective bubbles became insecurity condoms: skin tight and hopefully impervious to anything that might harm us – but hopefully still allowing us to feel good in the <ahem> end.

    When I gave up – as I was just on the verge of accepting my relegation to a post relevance existence – something actually happened. This story became a higher purpose in and of itself. I could use this story as a platform to show examples of how to be an individual without that individuality coming at a cost to another or to society as a whole.

    After yesterday, realizing the true arc of my grumpiness, from frustrated, powerless observer to an observer who funneled that negative emotion into something…I’m left feeling grateful.

    That I could contribute something to this and future generations and loosely call it art.

    That a few people actually read what I have created.

    Shameless plug: I’m still accepting new readers, generous reviews and shares across social media to expand upon that reach!

    And that I may have channeled my frustration into what I hope is also a change in my own behaviors so that I can be a better passive example to others.

    Maybe someday we’ll be at a level where I could respond to my text message from yesterday with a message like

    I think the words you were looking for were “there’s” and “ethically”.

    …without ending up blocked or the recipient’s default being to take that statement as offensive.

    As I learned yesterday, though, those friggin’ emotional condoms that we never seem to take off work. When I left the guy yesterday, I got the distinct impression I’d never see him again. So now I’ve got to figure out whether the Universe has simply given me what I wanted all along – to not be dating a 20-year old – or if I’m supposed to continue to gently urge the guy toward an emotionally bareback* existence that he understands is safe and nurturing and not hostile.

    *Just in case it needed clarification, “bareback” is a slang term for sex without a condom.

    Well, That Was A Surprise