Tick-tock, good old Xtopher…it’s been a minute since your lazy ass posted anything.
And those bitter and twisted voices in my head ain’t wrong. I’m just not feeling it. My days, Mondays or not, aren’t manic as a certain song might have us believe. This is just more of that ennui that I know and tolerate so well. Well, on the fancy side. On the less fancy side, this is more likely plain old apathy.
Oh, the glamour!
So I thought I’d take a break from my extended existential dread-slash-slomo-breakdown and at least let anyone who cares know that I’m alive. For anyone disappointed in that disclosure, here’s what I can muster content-wise: a joke that’ll make you want to kill me. I told it to my parents today at breakfast and they lolled. Maybe it was more of a good natured groan…
A kid is visiting his grandad for dinner while his parents have a <giggity> date night. His grandad tells him to set the table, and as he does he sees that many of the plates and utensils appear to be dirty.
When he points this out to his granddad, he testily replies, “Those plates are as clean as cold water can get them!”
The boy puts his head down and finishes setting the table. However, when grandpa suggests ice cream for dessert, the boy sees the same problem. Pointing it out once again, the grandad yells, “Damnit, cold water only works so well!”
The boy drops it, idly wondering why his grandpa is so averse to using hot water on his dishes.
Soon after dessert, his parents pull up and honk. The boy shakes his grandad’s hand and runs out to the waiting car, inadvertently letting his gramp’s dog out into the yard. As he climbs in the car, he hears his grandad yell behind him, “Goddamnit, Cold Water, you get back in this house!
You. Were. Warned.
Not sure this will be the jumpstart to my creative juices any recreational or occasional readers might like. I have some stories to share. Vacation stuff. Life stuff. Grumpy old man stuff…go figure. It’s just getting out of my own way to tap these things out. Tonight’s effort is brought to you by Vitamin B
My hope really is that I can clear out some cobwebs and manage a slog through NaNoWriMo, which starts in about two weeks. Perhaps there’s a couple posts for you die hard followers between now and then. My mental back burner is going to be occupied deciding whether to continue building on my existing fiction universe, namely No One Of Consequence; tackle a companion to my non-fiction piece, Dating Into Oblivion, that would focus on worker bee life in one’s 50s versus dating; or take on a separate fiction piece I’ve been kicking around that I would publish under a pen name. I’ve had a couple of publishing folks give me their cards during rides after hearing this last idea, so I’m leaning toward that option. However, it seems like building on familiar frameworks might be an easier exit from this creative dormancy.
I don’t know what it is, metabolism or simply a mental fixation, but when I eat before bed I usually wake up famished!
For instance…right now!
I’ve been up since 630, too. Sidebar: That’s another fun little game my body enjoys. “Oh, you’re going to bed at 230? Let’s just set that internal alarm for about four hours, then…”
Anyway, I started out thinking I’d just read a bit and then get up to workout. One of those things happened before I ran up against a time wall – I have the building’s annual fire system testing beginning at 930 that I needed to be ready for. I’m waiting for that right now. It starts in ten minutes, so I’m sure they’ll be here right around my 1100 phone interview.
Meanwhile, I’ll just quietly starve to death.
I could message my HOA Board President and tell him I’m leaving my unit unlocked to “run an errand”. That would be fine with him. But I’m still a little traumatized by the $30 sandwich I had for lunch yesterday.
No, it wasn’t a food delivery surcharge surprise. It was just me being so classically…me.
And it all started so innocently. I’d been chuckling during my last visit about my neighborhood sandwich shop’s tendency to run out of bread, resulting in them posting a “Sold Out” sign while also remaining open. Turns out the reason for that is online orders. The associate making my sammie recommended I try it. She told me that that was why they stayed open, people picking up orders they scheduled for later pick up times.
So I tried it.
I walked in at 115 and there it was, sitting there ready to jump in my belly. Of course, since this is me, I had special instructions for my picky ass eater self…
I find “special instructions” to be a great place to showcase my sense of humor. Also, I’m a native Portlander, meaning that I hate to be a bother…so making it funny makes it seem less like I’m ordering these folks around with my demands.
Other faves for my mustard tastes include “Make it like a you’re Jackson Pollack” and “Give me Rorschach level mustard, please”. It’s a far better abuse of the open fields in their ordering platform than my other thus-far-resisted temptation: the name field. Even though I’ve resisted the impulse, I still have the thought every time I use the in-store ordering kiosk, “What name shall I have them call out when my sando is ready?” Mostly I consider “Baby” or “Daddy”, but this is generally only when the cute guy is working the counter. No doubt my life would be much enhanced by the presence of an attractive man saying, “Baby, your sandwich is ready”. Alas.
The sandwich turned out pretty well. The crusty bread was a little soggier than usual, suggesting it had sat a little while. The risks one runs when demanding copious condiment application.
Don’t you worry…that mustard found its way onto my bread.
But how does using the shop’s online ordering system and picking my $12 order up equate to a $30 sandwich?
You see, I usually pick up a drink while I’m there and then eat at the picnic tables located on the next block of park. It started out as a kombucha, but evolved to a maté from the same company that is rather tasty. It’s also usually accompanied by a warning about the intensity of the drink from the staff. I guess it packs the same wallop as about three to four cups of coffee.
I highly recommend it…assuming you can find it outside of Oregon.
Anyway, they were sold out of it yesterday when I ordered. Thanks to a past unpleasant experience at the Brodega across the side street from me – I’d walked in to get a bubble water after an earlier venture and the cashier tried to charge me for the maté since they sell it, thank gawd I had my receipt! – I knew that they carried it. In an unusual twist, the Brodega sells it for the same price. Usually, their prices are far more dear.
So, yeah…I pop in on the way to the sando shop for my $3.50 maté. Then I remember they sell these chips that I’ve absolutely loved since I had a functioning metabolism was in my early 20s. They are actually quite hard to find, so I treat myself every now and again.
So tasty. And this lil Brodega is smart! They put the queue for the registers in the aisle that has chips and chocolate in it. Knowing that, I’d accepted my fate and embraced that $2.50 temptation.
What I hadn’t anticipated was the little end cap of local cookies I stood next to as I waited for the next open register.
It wasn’t until I was on my way home – this much food for lunch mandates shame eating at home versus enjoying a temperate afternoon in the park – that I wondered why my grocery store total had been $16. I’ve bought the chips and drink often enough to know that they came to about $6 together. That means that my bag of five cookies was $10!
Fhat the wuck?!?
I’m sure you’ve corrected my use of the word Brodega for the corner grocery to the correct bodega, but I prefer my portmanteau of “Bro” and “bodega” to reflect the overpriced nature of this little neighborhood market. Still, though…$10 for five cookies?!? C’mon.
That’s what I get for being weak, I guess.
Yet here I sit, absolutely famished – and now with bonus klaxons blaring – because after my big lunch, I had a late night snack of cheese & crackers – and wine, natch – and finished off my cookies at the same time. I went to bed full, woke up absolutely starving.
Now that the alarm test has finished on my floor, I can decide if I want to go get something for breakfast before my interview or wait until after. Seems like risking low blood sugar and a hangry old Xtopher might not be the optimal way to show up to an interview, so I’ll likely eat. But I’m still wearing shorts to it!
I don’t want to step on The Rolling Stones’ toes here, but…you can’t always get what you want. And, true, sometimes you only get what you need. Others, maybe you get skunked…call those times character building.
Still other times, maybe you do get what you want.
Can you – at a minimum – just shut up then? Preferably, I’d like to see us comport ourselves with a little more character in those moments than just nothing. However, given the option between “nothing” and “beating a dead horse” – I’ll graciously accept silence.
What’s all this got to do with…anything?
Here’s a case in point for ya.
This bar in SE Portland recently came under fire for cultural appropriation.
Esoteric cultural appropriation, if I can say without being branded a racist or someone hissing about my cis-male whiteness. If not, I guess I’ll have to check into the Whiteness Protection Program, but I doubt I’d make any friends there, so I’m hoping there’s room for my opinion.
Do you know why it’s esoteric? If so, then I would imagine you’re among a very few…or maybe I’m just not that hip hop savvy. Anyway, back in the early days of hip hop, there was a group called NWA.
As the aforementioned cis-male, I can only elucidate you on that acronym by saying it stands for A Particularly Hateful Racial Epithet…With Attitudes.
Got it? Ok. Enough on that.
Since they stopped recording/touring after their 4 years of being a functional group, it seems that group members have gone on to post-NWA projects like starting in long-running police procedural dramas or reviving headphones as a viable personal music delivery platform.
So, they’re doing ok. And the post-NWA careers have been longer and much likely more lucrative for these two members in particular.
Which is why I was so surprised to read about the brouhaha around a tap house called NWIPA – short for NW IPA. The critics took issue with riffing on the group’s name equating to cultural appropriation.
Ok…this seems like a great place for the Brady Bunch “Sure, Jan” gif, but I don’t want to be argumentative. I’m trying to keep things low-key passive-aggressive these days versus overtly confrontational.
The owner of the bar responded to the initial social media complaint…by apologizing and changing the name of his damn bar!
Let’s not even mention that when it comes to Portland beer culture being potentially guilty of cultural appropriation there’s this lil bandit
…that riffs on the movie Straight Outta Compton about the same damn group that the bar was accused of appropriating culture from. What blow back do they get?
The best part is that even after his online apology, connectors were still hounding him on social media about his offense.
People, he apologized and corrected the issue…shut. the. fuck. up.
As far as the whole Straight Outta Compton non-issue goes? All I can offer is that we’re Portlanders, and I can’t say we’re known for any consistency in our collective outrage. Meanwhile, I’m sitting over here being all grumpy that a bar in the SE quadrant of town had the gall to call itself NWIPA.
While all this is unfolding, of course, now-former governor of New York Andrew Cuomo was being investigated by the NY State District Attorney. She finds the allegations levied against him to be credible and both sides of the political spectrum go wild, calling for his resignation. Including our Democrat president, mind you.
So, he does.
Then in an exercise I like to call “Why the hell am I still on the Facebook?”, one of my former work colleagues posts this
Ok, I freely admit that it’s funny and clever. However, I think it’s wildly inappropriate for anyone who voted for Trump twice and/or supports the GOP to post. So, y’know…I said so.
As far as politicians being responsive to their constituency and held accountable for their actions and how they reflect on the office they hold? This guy stood up and took the accountability hit. Just like his fellow Democrat Senator Al Franken before him. Looking at the GOP side of the equation
…let’s just say most of them voted for a guy accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women, paying hush money to an adult film star during his first campaign and saying he’d date his own daughter…twice.
I think we can do without the opportunistic outrage of a Trump supporter on this issue.
Look, when you get what you want, just…show some class. Have a little grace. That’s hardly the time to take a victory lap.
I daresay we might have a little larger population in the center of the American political spectrum if we could just stop beating the horse once it dies.
One of the three counties Portland sits in announced it was implementing an indoor mask mandate, effective Friday, 8/13. The next day, the Governor made the same announcement for the state.
A while ago, I’d have made the joke that I’d prefer a masc man date over a mask mandate, but I don’t think it’s true at this point in my life. I’ve not fully given up the practice of masking up when I leave the house. I definitely put my mask on when entering a business. Well, before entering it – and I think that’s an important distinction.
The Silver Fox is in town for a while, so naturally I’ve been demanding he belly up with me as nightly as possible. Lost time and all.
Last night was no exception. We were sitting at the bar next door and I was low key astonished at how many patrons were walking in without masks and even moving about the restaurant maskless. I had my mask off while seated, which I get is nearly as arbitrary as the “smoking section” of bars back in the day.
It’s as if these Stupid Americans have collectively decided to not see the rationale for announcing a start date. Namely, yo allow businesses to ramp to have policies and signage in place by the mandate’s start.
It’s certainly not a new restriction for patrons or businesses, just a return to a prior restriction. Anyone leaving their house should have a pile of these masks ready to go. As a citizen, our ramp should be immediate – although, I have heard stories of people therapeutically trashing their masks after the restrictions were originally lifted. That’s more of an exception, not a rule. Yet, here we are, customers largely running around businesses bare-faced and empty-headed until they are required to do the right thing.
Meanwhile, most businesses I frequent have had their staff back in masks for weeks – despite the latitude they had to behave otherwise. The grace period that I believe is for their benefit is largely unneeded.
At least I’m the businesses I regularly frequent.
This is why we’re all gonna die. Well, maybe. But it’s definitely the reason we’re all gonna be stuck in traffic forever if we do live.
What? I’ve had free time, what did you expect an unsupervised, grumpy, old Xtopher to do…watch Mrs Doubtfire until 3 AM?
Ok, I did that, as well.
Phair warning, Fill – wait, that doesn’t look quite right – you might want to stop reading now. Just this post, though…tune in again next week.
I bought it. I’ve talked about it a little here before with mixed to neutral reactions…but I bought a Peloton.
Because it’s me…well, several things:
Alpha) I bought it used, because I’m cheap – which goes well with me being poor. Well, poor for a gay white guy. Privilege acknowledged.
Beta) I picked it up and took my first ride on April 1st…again, because it’s me and my fucked up sense of humor wouldn’t have it any other way.
Gamma) Crap. I’m having a C.R.S. moment…hopefully, it comes back to me in proof mode.
I’d planned this post for the first of July, just to give it a quarter to get some results under my belt. Then I lost 20 lbs in my first month of riding and could barely hold back posting about it then.
Luckily, my natural apathy and proChristination allowed me to resist that impulse.
But I really felt I needed to give myself a full quarter to develop consistent habits. Seemed fair enough, since I’d been holding the purchase out as a reward for consistency on my New Year’s Resolution of being more active and eating better.
Oh, it’s back!
Gamma) Since I am a grumpy, old man, I wasn’t going to wait 60 days for delivery. I was low-key scouring Craigslist for a used bike to jump the line. Like hell I was joining a club with a waitlist. I don’t do lines.
Anyhoo…slap my ass and call me a meteorologist, because I manifested a perfect storm. I got my bike without waiting and saved $800 by getting it second hand. The poor schlub I bought it off had decamped to his house in Hawaii over the pandemic and couldn’t find a moving company to take his bike from the she-she West Hills to Hawaii…so he just bought a new bike to be delivered there.
Glad I don’t have his unmitigated gall problems.
So, like I mentioned, I dropped 20 lbs in the first month, which I was very happy with. Month two got me to the right (for me) side of 200, which made sense as I started putting mean mass back on in my lil toothpick legs.
Definitely a trajectory I wouldn’t mind holding. That, of course, put me at my colonoscopy month. If you know the prep routine, you know…if you don’t know, I won’t ruin the surprise.
I didn’t expect to hold this weight – again, if you know… – but I could see it on the horizon. Today’s weigh-in put me right at 195.
Not a lot of wiggle room. But I’m getting plenty of salads and veggies – by comparison to the Before Diet, I’m sure my doc and mother would still happily see me eating more – so I expect between that snd continued consistency, sub-190 weights are within reason over the next 2-3 months. It would be great if I could get into the 180s by the six month mark.
See, we shall, hmm?
It’s been a fun <ahem> ride this far. I’m still excited to get on my bike, whether it’s participating in the monthly challenges, following specific crushes instructors, taking Artist Series rides or just the dreaded schlep to the scale that gets me there is a variety I can appreciate. Keeps my motivation from stagnating.
For instance, the first month I rode, I focused on getting Gold Medals in the Miles Rode and Days Active challenges. The thresholds are 50/100/150 miles ridden and 10/15/20 days active. Even taking Bronze in either is a win for anyone, regardless of one’s fitness level.
Month two, I was focused on streaks. In April, I managed a couple low streaks of active days. This was mainly due to my focus on riding versus other classes offered. They offer strength, stretching, yoga, boot camp and…probably some I forgot. In month two, I made sure to add in some strength and stretching classes. And I really needed the stretching! This also enabled longer active days streaks. I set a goal to get to a 10 day streak, and then took a couple days off and went into a 20 day streak.
Which took us to month three. And I’m just gonna say that a 20 day streak may have broken my mojo a tad. My active days dropped by half in July. But like I said, a Bronze Medal in my monthly challenges is better than nothing.
But after a month of “rest” – ie: active 14 days instead of 26 – I relearned something. Rest is a good thing! For the first week of August, I PRed four times out of four active days.
Apparently, not resting on my laurels equated to…
So, between joining Peloton and doing an Artist Series ride featuring Justin Bieber music…I’d say I joined at least one cult. But considering I’m a native Oregonian, I could have done worse.
Again, if you know…
Alright, now that I’m “out” about it, I’m accountable to people other than my own inner voices – who are also totally real people. Even if that also means getting filleted by Phil in the comments. Hehe…I’ll take it, because that also comes with the Silver Fox telling me that if I lose any more weight, I’m gonna need new clothes. Better that than the reality that I had one pair of jeans and two pairs of shorts that fit at the beginning of April…and a whole drawer of tee shirts that didn’t fit. Still working on the fit looking good, but I’m enjoying the “fresh” wardrobe options after burning 30 lbs.
Maybe it’s not even a thing…BUT I’M STILL QUITTING.
I’ll recreationally bend over backward to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition – witness, “There is only so much shit up with which I will put” – but I’m not aiming to be flexible enough to shove my own head up my ass. Maybe give it a light smooch, but no more than that.
I have had occasion to be reminded that I neither want to be emotionally flexible enough to reward willfully ignorant people with my silence. I’ll save my empathy for those it can potentially help.
There is, after all, only so much shit up with which I will put.
I know I wasn’t silent by any means during the Trump years, but in regards to COVID, I’ve decided to take a more assertive approach.
Here’s just three examples from this past weekend’s driving as to why:
Nothing new here, this is something I’ve been running up against since Oregon lifted its COVID restrictions in late June. People will approach my car and then either motion for me to roll down my window or actually get into Angela (my car) asking if they need a mask.
“Yes” – you nitwit – “you do”. That’s my retired polite response. I use Lyft as a passenger, so I know how it works. When you first open the app, you’re greeted by this reminder
Then, once you confirm your ride, you get this
Seems pretty hard to miss. Maybe I could see overlooking one reminder, but not two. Because they are magnanimous – or looking out for the safety of their passengers and drivers – they usually even send a text when your driver arrives that contains…a third reminder!
Frankly, I’m amazed my early onset grumpiness patience lasted this long with these Stupid Americans people. My favorite part of these exchanges is when they say they’re double vaxxed. Ok, first of all, you’re vaccinated. It’s potentially a two-shot protocol, saying you’re double vaccinated implies you got two of the available three (in the US) vaccines. But second, you’re expecting me to believe something as unbelievable as you “didn’t see” three reminders about masks…why would I believe you when you swear you’re vaccinated?
You know how many women became mothers believing men when they swore they’d pull out? Get the hell away from me with your feeble nonsense.
So I make them go get masks before I let them in. But last Saturday, I’d just had it. A guy walks out of a bar – you know this is serious, jokes always start with a guy walking into a bar – and pulls the whole innocent act. It’s 1:45 in the morning, I’m tired and working my way home. It’s also a 13 minute ride in the wrong direction, so I just tell him nope.
Compassionate Xtopher would have said, “There’s a 7-Eleven right next door, go buy one and we’re good to go”, but I’ve also noticed these folks don’t usually tip because I’m “mean”. Except the friend of the guy I kicked out of Angela because he called me a pussy for insisting they wear masks…she tipped me $20 up front to reconsider. And that was just an hour-ish earlier Saturday night, so I was already crunchy about the whole mask thing.
I gave an early 20s couple a ride to work on Friday. They work a security job at Nabisco – which is actually named something else now because they got bought by the company that owns Toblerone, but I’m not even gonna try to spell it – and were talking to me about their brutal schedules. I was in awe, and 60 hour weeks for me were nothing when I was working professionally. These youngsters were working six day weeks, 12 hour minimums with frequent extra hours. They estimated their average week to be 95-110 hours.
Then they asked me to tell anyone I know who’s looking to apply to their company, “They only have to be 18 and pass a background check”. We actually spent a good deal of our 42 minute rush hour ride discussing this, given my 30 years of people management. I think they felt good to be heard, and even validated by what I brought to the conversation.
Naturally, I got cocky.
I asked near the end of the ride if I could ask them what they thought about vaccine resistance in their age group. At first, the young woman declined because she said that those conversations always led to her friends yelling at her.
Foolishly, I assumed that they were yelling at her because she thought it was important…but I was wrong.
As we eased into the conversation, she said things that gave away her position. “This is nature’s way of culling the population” and “COVID doesn’t kill any more people than the flu does”.
I’d been gently pushing back against those statements with my own, like “I’m not sure where you heard that, but it doesn’t ring true with what I’ve heard”. As gentle as that response was, I could still see her pouting in the mirror. Young people want to be treated as peers and equals until you disagree with them, then they revert to absolute children. Some – not all, by any means.
Figuring if she were going to pout, I might as well make it worth her while, I loaded up a couple realities for her to think on.
“Look, your assertion that nature is trying to cull our population is certainly not the craziest thing I’ve heard, it’s even pithy, but if that were the case, wouldn’t a smart move be to try to not get culled?”
Her boyfriend laughed at this and she kind of lightened up at my question. Then I hit her with a hard fact. “The flu probably hasn’t killed 600,000 people in the US in the last twenty years. 60,000 would be a tragic year for flu deaths. A closer average would probably be 30,000 and in 2019 the number of US deaths from flu was closer to 20,000. Equating one with the other is just factually wrong. Whoever let you believe that did you an absolute disservice.”
The curious thing to me is that people lack the intellectual curiosity to even check the shit they hear. Of course, that’s a perfect lead in to…
This was a rider I’d had before. A member of my 1% Club, which I call them because my nerdy ass took the time to quantify the frequency with which I see repeats. In case you’re curious, three-peats are about 1/1000 rides and I’ve had one four-time rider in my 5300 rides.
But I digress.
I didn’t immediately peg him as a dupe until he started talking about his work – since I’d picked him up there. I asked what it was that had him working a Sunday afternoon and he told me he worked in radio.
That was when it hit me. I asked if I hadn’t taken him to work once, and remembered it being in the same building my favorite radio station was in. He said that was his other job, he worked for FISH radio out where I’d picked him up – which is a conservative Christian station.
He, in turn, asked me how I was feeling about my own personal safety since he obviously knew I’d been driving during the pandemic. I shared that I felt pretty safe throughout but also wouldn’t be surprised if I’d had a mild case of COVID at some point and couldn’t even presume to think I hadn’t had at least an exposure. The odds just aren’t there.
He told me of his own exposure through his live-in girlfriend – oh, those Christians and their tendency of cherry picking values…really, premarital sex? <gasp> – but that he hadn’t gotten it and was now vaccinated.
That led to a chat about why his girlfriend wasn’t yet. Apparently, she was relying on the natural immunity from having the virus. That perked me up, and I asked if she’d only recently had COVID. Her illness was back in January and I wondered if maybe that was far enough back that she could get vaccinated if she wanted to. He went on about how natural immunity lasts about 9 months, maybe longer. I listened to him, but when he finished I nudged him with “The last I’d heard – and I’m not paying that much attention currently, since we have a vaccine now – was that natural immunity started to fade at 2-3 months”.
He didn’t disagree with me, but veered off into mortality rates to dismiss the importance of vaccines in the first place. That was rather a needle-skip of a moment, but I let it play out. He was rattling off mortality rates of 3-5% for the flu and .004-.006% for COVID. I told him that I didn’t know those numbers offhand, but it seemed backward, causing him to interrupt me with an objection that made me almost drive off a bridge.
“No one knows the actual mortality rate because the numbers are all inflated!”
Me: <blink, blink>
“You shouldn’t count people who have diabetes or cancer or whatever and die of COVID because they were gonna die anyway.”
That old chestnut. I was in the middle of disagreeing when he interrupted me again. This was to be our pattern for most of the rest of the ride. I try to participate in the dialogue and he cuts me off.
“I’m not trying to be argumentative”, he eventually said, seeming to pick up on the rhythm of our conversation…and then I cut him off.
“Really? Because you keep talking over me and interrupting me. That seems like textbook argumentative behavior to me.”
That actually got him to back down a bit and we actually talked for the short duration of the ride. I told him that if I had COVID and died getting hit by a bus, that should absolutely not be a COVID death, which got a chuckle out of him. But I pressed on by suggesting that his own phrasing belies the point he’s making.
“How can you say someone with cancer died of COVID and not see the inherent fallacy? It’s right there in your own words!” He was thinking on that, but whether he was changing his mind or rewriting his talking points is not clear. I pushed on with the reality that, yes, these people could have probably died of their co-morbidities, but they hadn’t gotten the chance because COVID did the heavy lifting in their death. At the very least, COVID shortened their already potentially shortened lives.
“Besides”, I asked, “you surely know the Christians’ favorite argument against assisted suicide, right?”
He did not. So I told him that it wasn’t even that it was considered a mortal sin. Then I shared the argument that a cancer patient might have years of life with treatment, and the argument is that in those years a cure could be discovered.
Silence. I looked in the mirror and he was sitting there with his mouth open, but he wasn’t even trying to make words.
Check and mate.
Personally, these Stupid Americans presently dying from COVID should likely have “Dumb” listed as their Cause of Death, but maybe that’s just their comorbidity.
When I got to this guy’s destination, we were still chatting. I told him that his was the liveliest debate I’d had all weekend and thanked him. Not conversation…debate. But I still appreciated it because I felt like he actually started listening after I called him on his interruptions.
Yeah, he didn’t tip.
I’m wondering if tomorrow I’ll find out that I got my first ever non-5-star rating…
All that being said, even though I’m giving in to my grumpy old man-ness on this issue, I should still probably do some actual yoga. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, well, well…look what I found in my drafts. Coulda sworn I published this. But maybe since Tanner Creek’s wifi hadn’t had the chance to pick on the Silver Fox in a while, it glitched this into draft status instead of publishing.
After completing this week’s driver challenge, I took myself out for a well-earned dinner at my neighborhood watering hole. It’s literally on my block, I can walk there in the rain without getting wet – which is really something in Portland, Oregon!
Of course, since I’m a neurotic mess complex person, I had to acknowledge the pyrrhic nature of my celebratory dinner – I was alone…again…naturally.
The Silver Fox had decamped once again to the family estate south of town – well, south of several southwardly towns. My other frequent companion at this particular watering hole was at a funeral out of state. To egregiously paraphrase the prophet Yoda, “Fucked, was I”.
But I had earned this. And my ass yearned for a perch with a bar in front of it instead of a steering wheel.
And goddamnit if what to my googley eyes should appear but an infant baby with two daddies queer.
It was fucking a-door-able.
Me: Barkeep, another!
Proof positive here that there’s always more than one cure for what ails oneself. Some more nurturing than palliative.
I experienced a range of emotions. From the expected aaawwww-ness of an infant doing infanty things to a wholesome appreciation of a gaddy couple out for a dinner together. To envy and jealousy at that same notion.
Happily, I can report that I was misty eyed over the sweetness of the visage before me. Although, I wouldn’t have objected to anyone who thinks they know me “well-enough” who’d have bet on my potential beer-vaporizing darker emotions wresting control of the situation.
It was interesting that in the moment, I wasn’t overwhelmed with “what might have beens” over my persistent singledom. I was rather struck by how I missed my buddies. The usual neighborhood characters who live nearby – ok, all in the same building that I don’t live in – that I call friend who color in and enhance my happiness. I wasn’t lamenting the absence of that elusive something I never attained; I missed the presence of the folks I have attracted and managed to remain in the same orbit as.
Like I said at the top: I’m quite complex. That complexity only sometimes manifests in messy emotions. And this wasn’t one of them.
The Silver Fox was up last weekend. We went and ran some errands after coffee on…I want to say Saturday? I could be off a day or two, though. Time is a constant, my memory is not.
Anyway, while we ran his errands, he was multi-tasking by also ignoring my input about paint colors for his bathroom.
Sidebar: He’d already decided on Cable Knit Sweater based off the name alone, since there is some inside joke about that between him, his not-estranged-enough ex-wife and (unbeknownst to them) Taylor Swift.
That being the case, I was entertaining myself. Alternately looking at plants and seagulling him with unwanted opinions about paint he was pretending to consider.
Somewhere between me finding an unusual looking plant and a hand painted planter to kill it in, I shared a story with him about Facebook. Since he’s not on any social media and he wasn’t listening to my opinions, we were basically punishing each other for sport.
The Facebook Story:
An old friend of mine – not as old as the Silver Fox, but “old” as in I’ve known him longer than The Fox…which is really saying something! – had sent me a late night text pointing out my conspicuous absence from Facebook.
The reason I had gone quiet was my own fault. I’d forgotten a major life rule: Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.
Honorable mention…a Mark Twain quote: Never argue with an idiot, they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.
The idiots and stupid Americans people in question were from a Facebook group I’ve been a part of for a few years called DamnedPortlanders. Usually, they post about neighborhood free libraries or new mandalas that appear around neighborhood intersections or cute hidden gardens.
But knowing I was missed caused me to end my Facebook embargo. Then I went in, quit some groups – starting with DamnedPortlanders – and deleted about 15% of my friends. Most of whom were just folks I’d met once or twice while amusing myself at bars, folks I knew only on social media because they were friends of friends or, in about a half dozen cases, guy candy.
As I said, sharing this story was simply an exercise in pyrrhic entertainment…and he didn’t much care. But I got a little humble brag in in the telling, some people miss me when I’m not around.
The best part about all this? He decided he also liked the planter I’d discovered and decided to buy one…right before telling me that I couldn’t buy one because between our respective coffees, the gallon of paint and his hand painted planter, we didn’t have enough hands to carry it all home.
I mentally debated arguing – again, just for sport – but decided that this was his errands mission. I could make a separate trip for mine…but I’m telling him they were on sale after I do!
What makes this phenomenon remarkable is how many others are going through similar situations. Just the other morning, I awoke to an IM from a friend that she had deleted both of her blogs and didn’t want me to worry about her silence. It was just because she was tired of the petty backlash she suffered when mentioning friends in her blog posts.
She, like me, used nom de blog plume type masking when mentioning her friends. Unlike me and the epic brand hawk, Sacha, all of her friends seemed to mind – even though very few (if any) people would bother or care to decipher the monikers she used.
I’m fortunate, I guess, that I only have Sacha to worry about when I write. It’s entertaining, in a way…watching him bend over backward to convince me that he’s not reading my blog. It’s always some vague “mutual friend” from Facebook that allegedly tells him about a post.
Fun fact: My WordPress hasn’t been tethered to my Facebook page since last August, so when I wrote about him about a month and a half ago and he jumped into a shrill textapalooza with both feet…well, if it walks like a Sacha and lies like a Sacha – it’s a Sacha.
Aside from those stories about overly precious friends and exes, though, I was glad to hear my friend Benjamina espouse the same instinct to cull. Maybe that’s something that being in lockdown for 15 months has instilled in us. After all, if we spent that long incommunicado when distractions were at an all time low and entertainment was at a premium, then I think the onus is on the “friend” to prove they should remain on that less and less important friends list. For my part, if someone was a legit part of my life – usually meaning they were a schoolmate or a past work colleague – they got a pass, even if we didn’t presently interact much on social media. I made a few exceptions for active friends of friends and blog buddies, otherwise I dropped the unfriend hammer. Most embarrassing for the folks who didn’t make the proverbial cut would be the nearly half-dozen friends on my list who have died over the years. They may not have survived life, but they survived the friends list cull of 2021…I don’t want to let go of the last physical tether I have to them.
I was a little more liberal or sparing on Instagram, by comparison. After all, that’s really more of a “follow your interests” environment by design.
Of course, that immediately bit me straight in the ass.
There’s a kid from Glasgow that I know from his blog here on WordPress. He’s self-published several pamphlets books, so we have a couple of similar interests…three, if sexual orientation counts as an interest. Although, at this point in my life, I’d call sexual orientation a disinterest of mine.
I’ve even bought one of his books. $10 for less than 75 pages…that tracks for what too many millennials expect as an ROI for their efforts: minimal effort, maximum return. Conversely, my books are all well over that page count – by magnitudes – and my target price range is $9.99-12.99. I want to deliver bang for my reader’s dollar. And that apostrophe was intentionally placed in the singular possessive, thank you.
He’s actually a late-20s guy, not a kid. Despite his childish behavior in what turned out to be our second to last interaction on social media.
Like I said, it was Instagram. He’s posted a pic to his story with the caption “Time to shave”. In looking at the pic – which was an extreme close up of his chin – I saw some white stubble. I thought it was cute, a soon to be expired twink calling himself out for having white whiskers and playfully responded with “Do I see some white on that stubble?” Then I went to bed, because the PNW and Glasgow are in very different time zones, right?!?
I awoke to see him having made two efforts at responding “Rude” and following them up with “And now it’s deleted”. Then I saw that he’d blocked me.
He’s been very vocal about his bouts of anxiety and depression, both on his Instagram and in his blog. As a matter of fact, weeks after the Instagram incident, he posted about exactly that and how COVID exacerbated those conditions for him. And oddly how he’d noticed people coming out of their COVID hibernations with slightly wonky social behaviors – like they’d forgotten how to people during lockdown.
Of course, I completely agreed with him. Which led to our last social media interaction here on WordPress. I just couldn’t help but use the story of how someone had blocked me on social media for incorrectly guessing why they’d post a pic captioned “Time to shave”.
Not only did that story go over his head…
…but he liked it. As in, he completely forgot the entire episode and even reading my comment didn’t trigger his memory that I was describing his own broken behavioral shittiness.
What the literal fuck? I was embarrassed for him. Being so incensed that he not only blocked me, but deleted a post from his own social media. If that wasn’t a memory that stuck in his mind hard enough to recall after being directly reminded of the situation, I’m left to wonder if he wasn’t that offended or if he’s that offended by so many people that he cannot recall who got the block hammer and for what manufactured reason.
He should take a page out of Rainman’s book and keep a list…
Yeah, I went there.
And, for the record, I unfollowed his blog. That was something that actually made me feel bad. For my part, I think if I’m living in a society that it’s incumbent upon me – and each of us – to do our part to lift others up…to help them be better people or have an easier time navigating this life we’re living.
Imagine if that was our collective goal. What a world that would be.
My hope in making this comment to this guy was that he’d read my account of what he’d done and what my intention had been in making my comment on his Instagram story and he’d have an a-ha moment and we could bury the proverbial hatchet.
I thought that the worst case scenario would be that he just blocked me from commenting on future post to his blog. Nowhere in my expected response was that he would be so oblivious as to not even get that my comment was directed at him…and that he’d actually like my comment.
I really didn’t know what to do with that level of cluelessness. Like I said, I unfollowed his blog. I know what they say about the irreparable nature of stupid, but I don’t think he’s stupid.
Maybe a little lazy brained…but not stupid.
I had led that horse right up to the water’s edge – not much more I can do, if it dies of dehydration I’m not sticking around to beat its corpse.
In a barely interesting corollary, I’ve noticed a lot more bogus follower activities. Y’know…obviously fake accounts following me.
Mostly on Instagram, but there’s been a few on Facebook, too. And you’ve got to admit, some of their tactics are hits – like the new Instagram follower named progressivevote or the blog followers whose blog descriptions are “alcohol” or “beer”…they know the target audience. That Jane_Vera0116, though. Swing and a really big miss.
But maybe they are relying on the incipient loneliness the past year-plus of lockdowns has created. Or the desperation what I’m imagining to be the obvious unfriending and unfollowing on social media is creating in people who don’t know their value without the “likes” to back it up.
If COVID only made us worse to endure, I’m wondering if we shouldn’t just let the GOP have its way on labeling Climate Change as a hoax…because maybe we aren’t worth saving. Because just as unfixable as stupid is, saving someone or some species that can’t decide it wants to be saved is a fool’s errand for any Samaritans amongst us.
Maybe it’s time this victim of his own self-described savior complex just shuts up and watches the world burn.
Nah…I’m more optimistic than that! I’ll go buy that plant and see if it will stay alive and keep me company.
Over the past week or infinity, I’ve crossed paths with several *woke* people or groups. People, actually, whose values and politics align with my own.
Strangely, it has not gone well for me. Witness:
Facebook: Minimum Wage
I’m not going to lie, I’m still scared to look at my Facebook notifications for fear of seeing what a woke mob of Portlanders has left there for me. As a matter of fact, since this happened, I’ve likely opened my Facebook app less than a half-dozen times.
My crime? Standing up for a local restaurant chain called McMenamin’s. They had posted an ad for cooks.
Actually, that was the lead comment by a woke Portlander who saw the ad on Craigslist and decided to post it on the DamnPortlanders Facebook page. A page that I’m quitting, if it hasn’t already expelled me.
Let me tell you about McMenamin’s crime before I go into details on my own. They posted this Craigslist ad for cooks: minimum wage (which is currently $13 and change, but moves to $14/hr on July 1st and $14.75 next July 1st) plus tips, medical/dental, 401k, PTO…not bad, in my opinion. Most of my service industry friends have no insurance since they are usually consigned to part-time positions. And 401k? Forget about it.
This woke Portlander was offended that a company would offer a minimum wage job in today’s job market, particularly in Portland.
My crime? I simply pointed out that Portland’s minimum wage is nearly double the federal minimum wage and that maybe there were other levers to pull to ensure Portland remains a livable city for our service industry workers – particularly since it’s such a big part of our culture. I may have also mentioned that attacking our own liberal policies made us look a bit schizophrenic.
Remember our unofficial town motto: Portland, where young people go to retire.
Anyway, I wasn’t expecting gratitude from my comment. I just wanted to throw a little voice of (t)reason into the dialogue. I’ll tell you what I wasn’t expecting…attitude.
I’m not even kidding. Given where the comment melee ended up, it actually started in a benign – if only by comparison – place. The OP claimed she worked on the minimum wage campaign five years ago and that it was out of date already. Without citing context, of course. She said that $15 should be the minimum.
I reminded her that $14.75 and $15 are pretty damn close, wondering if she was really upset about what amounted to $10/week. I also pointed out that she shouldn’t be upset by employers offering the minimum allowable wage – they were meeting the state’s baseline requirement of employers.
Her counteroffer was that the minimum should be $22/hr, $26 if you work downtown.
Ok, merely moments before, she’d declared that $15 should be the minimum. Now she’s saying $22 should be the minimum – do you feel like I was necessary in this debate? She seemed to be negotiating against herself just fine.
The split minimum wage is nothing new to Oregon. We created a three tiered minimum wage when we voted on it back in 2015.
There’s also a Rural tier that’s not pictured. The interesting thing from this last round of increases is the unexpected fallout: job loss. We’re famously one of the few states where you aren’t allowed to pump your own gas – we’re job creators like that. However, after the minimum wage hike, rural communities were allowed to eliminate those jobs and customers pump themselves there.
Basically, in small towns where there are fewer jobs, we managed to make things worse under the auspices of making them better. Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m all for a livable minimum wage. I’m also all for friggin’ oil and gas companies not getting away with crap like that.
I’m also the guy who pulls up to a gas station in Vancouver, Washington – and now Hood River and beyond – and sits in his car waiting for no one to come pump my gas. Basically, I’m a big dummy.
Asked the OP if she really thought the guy that takes my order at my favorite food cart downtown should be making $52k a year, because that’s what full-time work at $26/hr nets out to annually. I also asked if she thought a food cart could sustain that salary level, since I very much doubted that the owners of the cart made that much.
It got crazy from there.
One guy did a lovely math story problem for me involving rent on a one-bedroom at a crazy $1800/month rent, plus medical insurance, utilities, etc minus working full-time at $15/hr. Yes, the result was a negative number.
Also yes, he thinks a minimum wage earner is going to be dumb enough to live in the Pearl. Or alone. He seemed offended by my reply – a story about people having roommates.
Then someone jumped in suggesting a $30/hr minimum wage. Because, of course Portland should be 4x the federal minimum.
Who the fuck are these dumbasses?
I made another attempt at pointing out how taxing companies and the wealthy appropriately versus letting them hide profits and grow wealth through loopholes would help us provide healthcare for all. Oddly, that’s kind of a wash for employers in my mind, since they would have to pay taxes but wouldn’t have to bear the burden of paying for the administration of a healthcare plan. It’s a double win for employees, too. They wouldn’t have to pay a portion of their employer’s healthcare offering, plus the obstacle preventing employers from offering full-time jobs versus part-time jobs would be eliminated. Well, one of the obstacles, I know that some employers still need part-time workers to allow for scheduling flexibility.
Honestly, after that immersion into literal liberal retardation, I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t just opt out of the DamnPortlanders group, but go as far as deleting my Facebook profile altogether
Regardless, this is a great example of people not thinking for themselves – or maybe not having the critical thinking skills to extrapolate an action plan that is actually actionable…and solves more problems than it creates.
Last time around, we eliminated a few pump jockey jobs. This time around we’d be eliminating small business if these woke jokers had their way.
But they don’t seem primed to compromise. A behavior that makes me think they might just be happy being unhappy.
I recently shared a post that I came across on the AppleNews feed on my Twitter page. It was an opinion piece by a former member of Congress.
Overall, pretty innocuous re-post. In it, the author lays out a case that I was surprised to find out wasn’t common sense. Then I remembered 70 million Americans who would bristle at the accusation that they possess common sense and were willing to vote to prove it.
Enter the overwoke feminists.
The first comment came in: Can we try that again without the misogyny?
Ok, A) “bitch” is nearly as versatile a word as “fuck”, so if you know me…feel free to assume my intentions. If you don’t, methinks thou art projecting too much. Maybe try seeking first to understand instead of leading with an attack.
And, B) of all the people who need a feminist to have their back…Marjorie Taylor Greene hardly seems high on that list. As a matter of fact, I bet she’d decline any defense of her character and respect-worthiness from a feminist.
But this former follower of mine – a female using a gay pride flag emoji in her Twitter handle – wasn’t going to let anything like non-consensual support stop her. I encouraged her to check her assumptions and maybe try assuming best intentions versus worse, but she wasn’t having that. She even tagged in a friend of hers to join in the attack. I felt like the wounded gazelle to their simultaneous hunter lionesses and scavenger hyenas. As noted above, this woman is blind, but I’d be surprised if perhaps she was only blind to the opinions of others.
Once again: the problem with liberals is that when we have a chance to do something for the greater good, we distract ourselves with infighting versus collaboration. The result is an epic display of ineffectiveness.
TheStreet: Racial Justice
On the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, there was a vigil-protest here in Portland. Because that’s what you get in a woke city whose unofficial forecast is “Cloudy, with a chance of protests”.
Commemorating nothing, I’d gone out to Kelly’s Olympian for a couple pints of the good stuff after clocking my 10 rides for the day. As I left – crossing 5th & Washington on the diagonal – I heard bucket drums behind me and turned to look once I’d cleared the intersection.
Sure enough, there was a wall of people dressed in black bloc just coming across 4th and up Washington toward me. A little excited to be catching a front row seat at one of my city’s marches in support of social justice, I pulled out my phone to capture a video.
What I hadn’t seen was the marchers’ advance team. Usually a few folks on bikes or motorcycles that ride ahead of the march to stop traffic prior to the marchers’ arrival. Because: safety first! I hadn’t noticed these two because they were on rented e-scooters – which I generally pay as much attention to as a mosquito.
They took issue with me taking a video. More accurately, they deferred authority to a vague “them” figure instead of being adults and just asking me not to film.
That’s not very Darnella Frazier of them.
I’m not someone who can physically defend myself, so I’m not sure why I mouth off as frequently as I do. I am good with words, though…so, maybe I do know why I pop off like I do.
I also bristle easily at intimidation. And these goombahs menacing me without owning it kind of demanded fucking with. I actually posted the video – along with my frustration – to my Instagram. It was there that one of the local protest pages filled me in on a possible rationale for the protesters request to not be filmed: videos could potentially be subpoenaed as evidence or to help identify marchers.
Ok. Sure…it’s a stretch, in my opinion. But I can respect a reasonable request with some context versus a vague threat from a disembodied “them”.
I actually thanked the local page that provided the insight, because I hate not knowing the “why” behind something I’m expected to do. Hate it. As a matter of fact, my complain-asking these types of questions and listening to the rationale behind things like ACAB, Defund/Disband the Police, Trans Rights, TERFs, and countless other movements that initially repelled me due to a too liberal use of hyperbole for my taste has helped me understand the actual meaning behind each group’s messaging.
I guess I have a thirst for knowledge. It’s like a sickness…
My question though: Why can’t the advance team use a specific reason like I was given after the fact while making their request versus just barfing out a “Hey, we don’t care, but they might…” and expecting me to fall in line?
Seems like police level bully behavior to me. “Because I said” is such a winning argument with me.
Instagram: Body Insecurities
There’s a fellow blogger and indie gay writer that I follow(ed) on Instagram as well. He lives in the UK and shared many of my frustrations with The Gays – apparently, we’re a global pandemic with our carelessly selfish behaviors.
But he’s also one of those gays that has self-diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I should have known that many red flags would only lead to bullshit shenanigans.
Last month, he posted a close up of his lower face with only the caption “It’s time to shave”. He sports stubble off and on, so I thought he’d been referring to his body’s follicular pigmentation betrayal.
Ok, so I assumed incorrectly. I suppose that gives him carte blanche to return the favor by incorrectly assuming my own intentions. Where I thought I’d been on his wavelength and sent a cute comment, he’d been referring to gawd knows what else and chose instead to assume I’d been trying to offend him. By the time I came to awoke the next morning, I was blocked and he had apparently deleted the post. As you can see, I originally liked his “post deleted” comment because I thought he’d been responding playfully…then I scrolled to the final message.
It’s not like we were ever going to have an acquaintanceship outside of social media, but I’m still sad about his decisions. But that’s the trouble too often these days – and I refuse to use the term too liberally, so I’ll just let you get there on your own. Perhaps, though, if he didn’t allow himself to react rashly after listening to his more self-sabotaging demons, he wouldn’t be self-diagnosing with anxiety.
What do I know, though? I’ve just been dealing with a bunch of the same crap he whines about regularly for a couple decades longer. Of course, I’m the enemy.
The truly sad news is that I’ve likely forgotten some recent examples. But overall, it seems people are – and I don’t know why this surprises me – just sleepwalking their way through wokeness.
My take? Being woke may as well be broke if you aren’t willing to think critically about the conversations you participate in. If all you’re doing is regurgitating talking points or assuming worst intentions without listening to the other person, you’re not going to help anyone.
More likely, as in my case, you’re likely just going to alienate likeminded folk.
Ok, admittedly, that possibly makes you work to decipher my post’s meaning.
It’s about a Bar Fight that I found myself unable to avoid last week. Don’t worry, though, I’m neither lover nor fighter, so before you worry…it was a non-physical encounter.
But seriously, if this type of scenario is how I finally punch the clock on life, someone needs to write the Redshirt Diaries entry on it, okay?!?
This just happened to occur the night after we emerged from Lockdown 3.0 here in Multnomah county. We came out of it on a Friday, but I did my usual drive time from 8-midnight that night because there’s an 80s music show on my local station that I like to listen to.
Plus, bars on weekends…<shudder>. My saying is “I don’t drink with amateurs”; so weekends, St Patrick’s Day, Cinco…all those big drinking holidays, you can find me comfortably situated on my couch.
For Kelly’s Olympian, though…I ventured out on a Saturday.
Solo, of course. But I was still there showing support for my local favorite. Plus, it was a Saturday in the ghost town that is downtown Portland these days, so I figured it would be pretty empty at 9 PM. I figured I’d go in, have a few beers and do a lil video lottery before the mandated 11 PM closing time.
It started off with the best of intentions. I walk in, chit-chat with the two bartenders after ordering my Pallet Jack until one of the other three customers comes up to order something. I make my way back to the video lottery corner of shame lounge area.
It. Is. Packed.
The six machines have been reconfigured in three back-to-back pods to promote social distancing with one two top bar table positioned by one of the pods. Strictly speaking, it’s not perfectly socially distanced, but it’s not usually heavily populated enough to make it that much of a concern.
Saturday night, I was a little uncomfortable, but less so knowing I was two weeks-plus from my second shot. I took a seat at the only free machine and started spinning, removing my mask only to sip. These minor inconveniences aside, I managed to make a little small talk with the two guys chowing down on bar food while a friend of theirs held court on my preferred machine.
“Held court” was too nice a phrase…he was full on bloviating. I hadn’t gotten a good look at him on my way in, because I know what my eyes can do even while I’m policing them. Adding a mask to that situation makes it worse.
And I hadn’t placed the Foghorn Leghorn quality of his voice yet.
You see…I’d run into this blowhard before. I just hadn’t realized it yet.
The last time – as would turn out to be the case this time – he had brought a co-worker with him. Throughout my stay there, he had pretty much bashed this woman into obliteration over work frustrations and stuff. She was pretty much on the defensive the entire evening, apologizing and trying to placate this fat old white guy. From the sounds of it, he’d brought her in on a project with his company and at best seemed disinclined to let her forget his role in her good fortune. Worst case, it sounded like she was outperforming him in their partnership and that was not something he chose to view as a feather in his cap for choosing such a great business partner.
For my part, I endured his booming drawl, letting him off with a few glares he chose to ignore. I was, however ready to say something if the conversation turned to sexual orientation in any way. Not to profile, but she had a very low maintenance haircut, if you get my drift. They also seemed to be in the construction or related type field.
On Saturday, though, as this blowhard started to alienate the other gamblers, I realized that five of the eight people in the lounge were with him.
Co-workers, once again.
The other two players gave up on peace and left. Apparently, I’m not the only person who doesn’t appreciate this guy using our bar as a WeWork.
Figuring I could manage his company for another hour before closing, I changed machines just to be out of the direct path of his sound waves. He’d already hit the ATM once, so I figured he was on the downhill side of his stay, anyway. I decided on the machine right by the ATM to be as out of his way as possible.
A couple of his captives cohorts went out to smoke and never came back. Another drifted out a few moments later for a drink. It was just him, one poor victim and me.
Somehow, he got louder.
Oh, it’s because he was standing right behind me at the ATM. Must be having a bum luck night. And have either higher withdrawal limits than I do or was tapping multiple accounts to finance his evening’s entertainment.
I turned and glared at him as he yelled across the room behind me. In a moment of self-awareness I was surprised he possessed, he realized I had leveled my eye beams at him.
“Oh, sorry”, he mumbled from behind his mask.
“I appreciate that. I just moved to get away from you.”
For whatever reason, he went back to yelling at his co-worker across the room. I went back to my trademark grumpy old man low key seething. Nothing worse than someone who apologizes for something and then keeps doing it.
That’s about when he started in on specific complaints about work. Apparently, he wasn’t getting his therapeutic value from generic bitching.
He pointedly began by reminding his sole remaining hostage that he brought them into the project. That earned him a little fealty.
But not enough, I guess?
Because his next move was to start talking about how hard it was for him, since his company was requiring minority business partners in the contracts they were awarding.
There it is.
Maybe it’s that the other four Latin business partners of his had seemingly permanently decamped to the outdoor seating so they could smoke…or not be around this dickwad, but fealty and deference from one Hispanic man wasn’t cutting the mustard. He’d ordered up five sycophants and was only getting one.
He started going in full bore on the manners in which this last guy – I’m guessing the boss or most senior of the group? – and his company were not delivering. In a fit of “no leg to stand on”-ness, in the 20 minutes I listened to this guy hammer away at this fella, he listed not one specific or actionable criticism.
Or…there’s so many other companies I would have chosen if I could have.
And this poor guy on the receiving end was just vaguely apologizing for equally vague complaints.
Me: You know, I’m not sure how your business is set up, but every organization I’ve ever worked for – as a people manager, mind you – has had private areas for these types of conversations. During business hours, no less!
Foghorn Leghorn <looking stunned>: Why don’t you mind your own business? This doesn’t involve you.
Now, the guy he’s been berating this whole time turns and gives me the most genuine look of relief I think I’ve ever seen. But then turns back to the guy in full suck-up mode. I felt bad.
Me: Since you don’t seem to have an inside voice and we’re barely 10 feet apart, you’re forcing your business on me. It’s non-consensual.
FL: Look, I don’t know what your problem is, we’re just trying to talk.
Me: And I’m just trying to have a few beers and blow a few bucks in peace. But since my complaint wasn’t specific enough for you: I’m tired of listening to you “you people” this poor guy. You’re a racist, I get it. I don’t want to hear it anymore. Shut up or go outside.
FL: <sputters indignantly>
His hostage assures him it’s ok, he understands. I didn’t. I realized that Foghorn was blaring something at me, but I’d been straining to hear what his companion was saying. I wanted to gut check my position, maybe I had heard wrong or blown something out of proportion – but I didn’t think so, I’ve been a victim and know what it sounds like. Foghorn’s victim not saying I misunderstood led me to believe my ears hadn’t deceived me.
Foghorn was still blaring at me about minding my own business. I cut him off.
Me: Look, it’s one thing when it’s an isolated incident, but I know that the last time I saw you here, you were doing pretty much this exact same act with a woman. So let me just say that, as a bystander, your misogynistic and racist bellowing is not ok. If you truly think I’m wrong, have me thrown out.
His co-worker was still in placate mode – although I saw the flash of understanding in his eyes when I pointed out I’d seen this behavior from Foghorn before. He said he was about ready to call it a night, and invited Foghorn to go with. Surprisingly, Foghorn acquiesced.
I breathed a sigh of relief and enjoyed the next few minutes of peace.
The bartender came back to bus and I could tell he was smirking behind his mask.
“Sorry…I wasn’t trying to cause a scene or start anything. I just couldn’t validate his words with my silence.”
The bartender laughed and told me I wasn’t wrong. It made me wonder how often people in positions like his are put in similar scenarios…and can’t say anything because: customers.
That made me sad. It also clued me into this guy’s possible MO. Taking folks he secretly hates or resents out on his expense account to dress them down for not owning a dick or being non-white away from work. Curious behavior, but one I completely have no trouble believing.
What’s shocking is that none of his victims have complained over his good old boy head. Since I know this was his open tab from how he permissively encouraged the others to get another drink or round while I was present, it would put his actions under the umbrella of any anti-harassment or zero tolerance policies his company has in place. I hope one day this impotent skid mark of a human either gets his comeuppance or (preferably) sees the errors of his actions and makes amends.
Sadly, based on my own past experiences, I doubt either will happen. That’s a barf situation that is anything but aight.
But if you read my blog regularly, you probably saw my call to action at the end of a post a week or two back encouraging everyone to respectfully but firmly stand up and point out an unacceptable behavior from our stupider American country people. Maybe I was more buzzed less respectful than I could have been Saturday, but I am out there stumbling walking the talk.