Dry…Month?!?

Could be. Now that I’ve found this lil secret weapon:

But first, the back story!

As we emerged from August, smoldering from yet another dumpster fire of a month in 2020, it occurred to me that I could only recall one night since March 18th that I didn’t drink.

Now, does that mean there aren’t more?

No.

But realistically, I’d assume that I blacked out more memory in the last six months than my CRS caused me to forget – before you ask: Can’t Remember Shit.

This is a frequent topic during my Lyft shyfts – how are you coping? Oddly enough, I give a lot of rides to people in the cannabis industry. About as many weed indy riders as strippers, to be honest. Besides essential hospital workers, these are Portland’s essential heroes.

For what it’s worth, I think both represent great coping mechanisms. Well, one is a coping mechanism.

So, these weedies – as I’ve just now decided to call them – often tip pre-rolls. That’s great and all, but I suck at smoking, so the last time I was offered one, I appreciatively declined. When I told her why, she got very excited and told me I had to try syrups.

Sizzurp, in case you didn’t see that on the label pictured above.

So I decided to check it out.

This is about the time I started trundling running again – or what I’m calling running these days – and I thought intoxicating qualities aside, pain relief potential could also be a win.

I wander into my local dispensary, Broadway Cannabis Collective – about which I’d gotten a hot tip from a passenger that this was the best shop in town, lucky me – and after waiting my socially distant turn, inquired. Meeting my randomly matched budtender at the cooler, she started in on a dizzying diatribe of information. This was after telling me they didn’t sell much from this cooler, so the info she had off the top of her head was…well, like I said – dizzying.

But what jumped out at me was this line:

These are the ones I’d go with, the small bottle is 125 and the large is 1000, so that’ll really last you!

<record scratch>

1000?!?

I heard my grandpa in my head saying “I just wanted to get “x”, not buy the place”…but played it totally cool.

No, really, totally cool.

Like on a scale of 1 to shizzle, I was a fo‘.

Wait, wait…don’t unsubscribe! I’m sorry! Hehe.

As she continued on, recommending that I try a small bottle to see how I like it and casually flipping labels around to tell me about the profile of each flavor, I saw that the “125” bottle was only $15 and realized the 125 that she was referring to was milligrams of THC.

Glad I played it cool.

Realizing my mistaken assumption, I chose the 1000 milligram bottle, whose dose was one teaspoon. That meant the bottle had 24 doses and I’d just bought two 12-packs of La Croix, so I figured it was meant to be and that I was set for a couple weeks.

You might want to start with a half dose until you know how it hits you.

My budtender suggested.

Ok, so I’m set for a month!

And let me tell you, a half teaspoon sets me up just right! After my evening concoctions the first two nights, I slept over 10 hours both nights.

I’m so fucking rested, I feel guilty.

On the third morning, I woke up feeling exceptional – having neither imbibed alcohol or sizzurp the night before. Stretching, my hands ending up moving from akimbo over my head to stretched towards my toes and then resting on my abdomen – or where my abdomen would be if not for the shed I’ve build over my tool…I realized something was missing. Or at least significantly reduced.

After just three days with no booze.

I’m so mad weed was villianized when I was a kid.

And while my shed may be shrinking, my wallet is breathing a sigh of relief. I can get a 6-pack of a great IPA for $8-12 bucks. That’s a steal compared to $6 + tip at a bar, for sure. It cannot compare to about $1.25 for a half-dose of this sizzurp, though. I’m a convert, mind you, I am typing this post at the oldest bar in Portland…no need to overdo it, right?

Call it a dryish month.

Dry…Month?!?

What Year Is It?

If I can paraphrase the prophet, Morris Day…

Who, by the way, played a house party gig at the frat that tried to recruit me into their coven house in college.

Pike for life!

Anyway, 2020 has been a hell of a decade…so far.

I believe it’s day 11 of smokepocalypse (credit to The Kids for bringing that moniker to life) and to be honest, the last 11 days feels longer than the last 6 months.

I can’t see the sun.

One day, things look like they are improving to merely unhealthy air quality, the next we’re bitch slapped back into hazardous air quality by a Mother Nature who seems quite clearly to have had enough of our shenanigans. On the third day of smokepocalypse, the day the high east winds stopped, there was blue sky over Portland. For whatever reason, the smoke bank was cleaved in two and sat over Salem and Vantucky. It was like that for two days, both ended with the smoke rolling back in as dusk fell.

On the third day – day 5 of smokepocalypse – the smoke bank stayed and hadn’t left since.

During the pandemic lockdown, I was able to escape my daily detente with Myrtle by hitting the road for 10 rides and a few hours. As lockdown wore on, those 10 would become 15 and then 20 and once even 30 as people ventured out on missions of essential work or restocking.

Sidebar: I’m finally down to my last roll of crapping paper – having split a Costco pack with the Silver Fox back around December ’19…if you ever wonder why I seem full of crap, apparently it’s because I pace myself?

Anyway, I’ve discovered something that will finally get people to obey Stay Home orders – and even mask directives, for the most part – over the last 11 days: living in the city with the worst air quality on the planet. Seriously, I celebrated having an AQI under 300 yesterday – normal is <50 – only to have it rocket back up to the high 300s after dark.

It’s too bad, though, this sudden willingness of people to stay home. Not only has my escape from solitude disappeared. No longer can I escape to my strictly social, non-alcoholic happy hour in my car. These days, going out means as long as 20 minutes between rides…and I’m lucky to get 5 before my eyes burn from the smoke entering the car as people get in and out.

On top of that, the trips are short! Like, “I’m so glad you’re driving so I didn’t have to walk (3 blocks) in this” short. While I’m glad they don’t have to walk in this either, those bitches and bastards and whatever similar label is appropriate for non-binary folx that resent heteronormative labels could bother to tip.

I mean, if they really did appreciate my effort. I’m not filling the tank with a half dozen minimum fare rides. I didn’t expect tips when I started driving, but now they motivate me by representing a real-time report card on my efforts. There’s a star rating – that I’ve managed to maintain at a 5-star level over my ~2300 rides.

However, since it defaults to 5-star if the rider doesn’t specifically override it, I don’t consider this much of a barometer. So I gauge my performance off of the percentage of riders who tip. 50% is what I call “needs improvement” and normal for me is around 65%.

Sadly, there have been too many days like this

Thank the Lyft Lords for that Lux ride, but do much for that 10:05 ride. I never mind picking up peeps at strip clubs – although, I find the performers to be far better company than the clientele – except when it’s a 35 minute closing-time ride with a woman hating Eastern European woman hating man. That $5 tip was not enough to unhear the crap he spewed.

Ugh.

But, in his defense, he was one of two tippers that night. Overall for the day, less than one-third…if I bend over backward far enough, I can convince myself that tip levels like that are a micro-factor of the overall economy.

It’s easy enough to believe. Shit is pretty bad in a service industry town like Portland these days.

Which could also be a factor in why people are staying home – smoke or no.

Fortunately for the sake of my (in)sanity, I’ve mentally edited a couple of writing projects I’ve been working on. Meaning, I haven’t actually done anything.

But I’ve also indulged in some creative problem solving. Here’s my prevailing theoretical solution for Portland’s smoke problem – since the weather people can’t seem to conjure any rain:

The 2020 Proud Boy of the Year Awards

Yes, it’s still 2020.

Think of it, this faux ceremony could draw even the Grand Dragon in Chief himself! Something like this is about the only way to lure Trunt to liberal Portland.

Because of the numbers I expect, we would need to hold this outside, even though that skirts dangerously close to following guidelines for larger gatherings. Maybe the event could take place at Waterfront Park. I know the Proud Boys like to hang out there…at least when liberal groups announce they are holding a rally there.

Note to self: get BLM supporters to volunteer as ushers.

Of course, no masks would be expected. Not wearing them would be encouraged.

And that’s the brilliant part! These stupid mouth breathing lame-o-sapiens Americanus would filter the smoke out of the air while hate screaming their assundry – is that not a word? – and mind boggling mantras.

Then they would all go home and die of emphysema or asthma or whatever lung related terminal malady you prefer. Rasping with their last death rattled breath,

See? I told you COVID was a hoax!

Poof.

Clean air in Portland once again and fewer harmful minds reproducing and replicating their ignorance just because unrestricted coitus is their right.

Damnit.

So, yeah…how are you passing time in the smokepocalypse?

What Year Is It?

I’m Not Dead

…just very badly burned…out.

I guess that’s what you could call it.

I hear people referring to COVID-Fatigue or Lockdown Fatigue. Maybe this is a little bit of that?

Maybe I should do what the cool kids all seem to do and self-diagnose with Anxiety? Nah, I’m sure it’s not that…the 20-teens version of Epstein-Barr Syndrome. Which I guess is no longer a syndrome but a virus from the herpes family, believe it or not. Who knew that would end up being a real thing? Suddenly, though, I see how that could have spread as widely as it allegedly did among self-diagnosticians.

No.

Not dead.

Not anxious.

Just…quiet.

I hope you enjoyed the respite from my bullshit.

Self-effacing, but make it poetry.

Anyway, in my self-imposed solitude, I’ve been getting out of bed for several hours each day. Which is good. Most days for a few hours of driving, that affords me some easy, no muss-no fuss socializing during the week.

But I’ve also been sneaking out – under cover of darkness, for the most part…for blobvious reasons – to run a few times a week. This will be week three of that endeavor, and while it’s certainly humbling, it feels good.

Ish.

Notice, if you will, that no one *liked* my activities. I can tell you that I pretty much felt the same.

Because this is me, I have some observations after my inaugural return:

First, ow. I need new shoes. I meant to run yesterday to kick off the week – even though my brain told me that it was probably a bad idea: running consecutive days – but I got stuck in an eight hour drive hole after heading out to catch a ride in a bonus zone that just happened to land on me like a house on a wicked witch.

Starting off innocently enough with what turned out to be a $50 24-minute ride…poof…eight hours went by like nothing. My ass didn’t even really complain, which is something it usually starts doing at around three hours normally. I blame it on my gluteus minimus getting a lil swole from running.

Second, in a fit of what I know now to have been prescience, I woke up with a complaining ACL on my left side. You may or may not recall something which I certainly try to forget, which is my doctor retiring me from running a few – seven is “a few”, right? – years back after I fractured my tibia while training you run a marathon. Well, it took two more fractures – but c’mon, they were just micro fractures, who takes those seriously? – before I believed him. Now, seven years and about 30 pounds later, I’m revisiting the advice. Tempering my activity with a return to shorter distances, a cushiony track versus asphalt roadways and a shockingly low level of endurance that puts me in a run a half lap/walk a half lap cadence…hence the double-digit pace. So if a bit of whining from an ACL is the damage, I’m willing to pop an ibuprofen and push on…tomorrow.

And, third and especially because it’s me, during one of my late night wheezes runs, there was a photo shoot going on in the field inside the track.

Picture it: a perfectly dark night and a 10×10 square of the field exploding with lights set up in what I initially thought was a trap that caught a shirtless, well-oiled musclebound specimen of male pulchritude. You might wonder what kind of idiot would wander into such an obvious trap. Clearly, a muscle head, but to his credit, they did obscure the trap with several smoke machines.

The aesthetic perils of running on the UnderArmor track. Another reason for my choice to run at night. Seriously, though, this being 2020, I shouldn’t assume he was doing a marketing shoot for UnderArmor – it could have been for his Instagram page for all I know!

So, yeah…running. Standby on how that goes. My current goal is 2x/week until I can comfortably run a full lap consistently. This far, I’ve managed that twice, both laps resulted in an internal argument about whether my struggle was because I was that out of shape, had COVID or if this was a post-COVID long-term side effect.

My psyche is a psychotic place. Still, I’m betting it’s option three…

The last year or so, I’ve been commenting that I only really have three activity pillars in my daily life – aside from my number one pastime, socializing. That may sound like I’m either not living a very full existence or that I’m pretty low-functioning, since I usually follow that up with “I can really only succeed at two of the three pillars each day”.

Work – which nowadays consists solely of my Lyft driving. It’s a definitely struggle to make ends meet, more fail than win. But I’m really not sure that a return to 50+ hour professional workweeks is in my future. It’s something I need to work out in therapy, I know. I’m not able to objectively determine if I e left my last posts for legitimate reasons. My friends and family will tell me that I had valid grounds, but I don’t know if that makes us all smart or them loyal. Neither is bad, but I need an outside diagnosis opinion.

Exercise – which has been the first of the three to be sacrificed, obviously.

Writing – and if you think I’ve been eschewing my blog for working on a book, allow me to dis you from that illusion. I mean, I’m kind of joking, but the reality is…no.

So, on that note, let me wrap up with an update on my creative endeavors.

I’ve got a first draft of a WIP sitting on my laptop waiting for edits that I’d wanted complete by April. Alas. I’ve also decided to pull my second novel off of Amazon to rework it. At 550 pages, my initial impulse was to split it in two. The feedback I got from a beta reader and a couple of folks that bought it early on was that it was fine at that length. However, the costs of self-publishing a book that size puts a hefty $17.95 price on the book just to make me a buck on the back end. I’ve decided that I’d rather be able to price my books at $9.95 to make them more easily marketable.

Sidebar: I recently bought a copy of a friend’s book – called Gay and Tired – in a show of support for a fellow writer. Like my goal, his was priced at $10, so I figured it was an easy show of support. It’s sixty pages. It better be the missing chapter of either the Kama Sutra or How to Make People and Influence Friends (wait, that doesn’t sound right) for that price. But suddenly, my 300-ish page books for that same price seem pretty much like a steal. My initial surprise at the shortness made me a little…conflicted, so I’ve yet to read it.

At $9.95, my royalty is about a buck – which is why my initial novel was priced at $12.95, I hoped it would be read and a potential income stream. However, I would prefer to have my story read more than build an actual income stream, which is why I decided to split book two into books two and three. There’s a super logical cliffhanger to end up book two and then start book three. And I think it will be an easier purchase impulse to enable at $9.95.

Now, if I could just cut it down by a couple hundred pages, I could probably apparently make a 600% increase on my royalty.

Anyway, one of the other things I decided to do for book one was to buy a few author copies to drop into neighborhood lending libraries around town.

What? Your city doesn’t have neighborhood lending libraries?

I love this about our lil burg. Of course, since mine has a few racy chapters, I’d probably focus my contribution to libraries in front of houses with gay pride flags hanging on them – there are plenty, trust me – versus those with toddlers standing in the front yard, like in the first picture.

I don’t expect anything in return for this contribution, it’s just something I wanted to do when I first published the book last year – I just never had the discretionary scratch to do it before. Frankly, I don’t really have it now, but given the social climate of 2020 I felt like it was more important than ever to do it. You see, the impetus for writing this was to show an imperfect slice of life between a group of diverse gay men and the bond of friendship that allows them to lift one another up in life. Given the widening chasm between people today, it seems we may never successfully manage to “meet in the middle” on anything again.

This decision was brought front and center again for me yesterday as I observed – and then engaged, which I probably shouldn’t do if I’m going to publish under my real name – on a Facebook thread between a local owner of a queer bar and…I dunno, the public. The issue stems from his decision to shutter the bar in the early days of the pandemic. It was a decision that preceded the governor’s own by a few days, but apparently that was a catalyst for a disenchanted group of workers to air their grievances. Without going into the specific drama, this post was his apology and affirmation of support for the queer community.

The issue I had was how many fringe members of the community decided to shove a spit – not that kind, Diezel – up his ass a absolutely roast him in the comments. One person is a trans individual who took issue with this owners decision to call trans people brave. In a fit of biting the hand that feeds you, this person decided to speak for their entire population by saying they aren’t brave, they’re tired. Tired of fighting for equality and the right to live their lives as their true selves.

Ok, I get that. I remember when attending gay bars was something I felt was dangerous. My favorite bars didn’t have normal windows – they were either painted over or obscured by shutters to conceal the bar-goers. Even participating in AIDS marches and Pride parades made me feel like I was putting a bullseye on myself. But I knew it was important to have that visibility to usher my community into the mainstream.

And I felt it was brave.

Flash forward to the Pulse Massacre and you can imagine how I feel the need for bravery in my community is still important.

But, no…this trans person needed to provide us with an example of the entitlement of their generation by disagreeing with the praise that was levied upon them. They aren’t brave, they’re tired.

Ok, maybe they wouldn’t be so tired if they confined their battles to actual enemies instead of making enemies within their own community.

Just write a fucking book and shut up. Well, not shut up so much as get the impulse to attack your own out of your system. Here’s a title suggestion: Trans and Tired. Imagine how much faster rhinos would have gone extinct if they attacked their own versus just letting poachers take them out. <exasperated eye roll>

I mean, how immature must the queer community be ~50 years after Stonewall? We don’t exactly ooze maturity based on the most visible components of or ranks. I have been referring to The Gays as Lost Boys for decades.

Anyway, I feel like that’s veering off into a different post. Suffice to say, if I’m going to write under my own name and speak my Voice of Treason truths on social media, maybe success isn’t something I should hope for. But it did make me glad I had arranged for these author copies to spread around. Maybe someone will read my imperfect story and take note. Given the Facebook post from yesterday, that seems more unlikely than one of The Gays finding it and actually reading it, but it clearly needs to happen.

Now, to come up with an inscription for the inside flap…

I’m Not Dead

Hey, You!

Yeah, you. Can you…not, please?

I know I haven’t been writing much. It’s a thought that occurred to me just as I was trying to decide what to do with my night. My knee jerk, rationalizing and disabling thought was “Well, it’s because I’ve been driving so much lately”.

Now, there’s a thought I’ve been having often lately.

Every time I do, I pop open the app, ready to pat myself on the back for my epic drive times.

Also, every time I open the app I see I’ve driven less than 30 hours that week.

It’s nuts, it certainly seems longer. But maybe that’s just a factor of how raspy my throat is from nattering at passengers for <30 hours. Possibly with a little or a lot of “my ass is sore as hell” mixed in. And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn Diezel to keep it clean here. Really, it’s just my right butt cheek that’s complaining, for whatever reason – and, no, it’s not my wallet.

But that same thought comes around whenever I’m amazed at how many passengers I get from out of state. It’s just a factor of how much I’m driving.

Except it’s not. And yet, copious visitors there are.

Visitors from COVID-denying hotspots.

Recent red state refugees that landed in Portland.

And when I realize how few hours I drive and how often these folks present themselves, I am amazed at the inverse relationship. Assuming that how out of control the situation seems can be extrapolated based on the number of rides I give people each week.

Of course, it can’t. This is all just me entertaining myself – and since I don’t feel mentally up to anything more seriously grumptastic than this, this is what you get.

Another highly unscientific method for tracking these – and I don’t want to channel Trump here, but – visitors and transplants from less than desirable locations is just observation. This weekend, I drove Friday, Saturday and today. Three days in a row is unusual. I needed to make up for taking Monday and Tuesday off while the Silver Fox was visiting. Each of those three days I witnessed at least three license plates from Arizona.

Just Arizona.

I didn’t see any Texas or Florida plates…but maybe they are just less noticeable.

Still, 9+ Arizona plates in ~15 hours seems like a lot. Let’s call it 18 hours of driving, which errs on the high side. Seeing an AZ plate every two hours seems pretty frequent.

I could just see the virus swirling around the vehicles like dust around Pig Pen.

Fortunately for my recreational hypochondriac, I’ve got my vents set to recirculate. I know it’s better to be letting in fresh air, but I drive through tear gas zones a lot and don’t want to rely on my reflexes to save my eyes and throat. So when I want fresh air, I put the windows down.

Simple pimple.

Now, because for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, last night I had a group of soon-to-be college kids in my car (not like that, Diezel). It was a 4-some, three guys and a girl with hiccups. Now, Lyft asks riders to certify that they will wear masks and not sit in the front, so imagine the hernia inducing restraint I exercised when one of these shitheads kids got into the passenger seat.

You know you’re all supposed to sit in the back, right?

Pretty mild on the passive-aggressive-o-meter, right? The kids says “Yeah” and closes the door.

Okay, then.

Next, I exercised restraint by not volunteering that they were obviously not going to be adding a tip onto their parents’ credit card.

When I asked what they were up to on a Saturday night, one of the guys said that my front seat mate was leaving for college the next day.

Do you even need more than one guess?

Arizona State.

Why?

Ok, with the restraint I’ve exercised up til now, my incredulity here is forgivable, right? Something about not winning them all…

“They have a great business school”.

Wharton is a great business school…

<crickets>

From the backseat, “Hey, can you make a stop along the way?”

You know what, Arizona can have these entitled, clueless punks. I hope this kid survives long enough to put his business degree to use.

I don’t mean to paint Arizonans as universally bad people, mind you. I mean, could anyone with this plate be entirely bad?

No, no they could not be. But could these flaming patriots stupid Americans just stop running amok with all of their Pig Pen-ish virus?

Hey, You!

Car-ma

Yeah, so you may recall me saying that things that happen in Angela – my car – are cyclical.

Sometimes That’s Fun

The other night I went out for my usual 10 rides. It was like the universe was telling me to go home and get baked.

My second ride called me to the Broadway Cannabis Collective, which is actually just a couple streets over from my house. I picked up a guy who’d been shopping there after hitting the gym in the Pearl because it was his favorite gym in town. Normally his husband comes with him and drives, but not today – which allowed me to meet him. He was a really nice guy, I mention this because he’s an older gay guy – maybe mid to late 30s – and nice, and accomplished…so I’m supposed to not like him, right? Well, I did. So there.

I dropped him off at his home on – and I swear I’m not making this up – Gay Street.

I go about my driverly endeavors, minding my own business and just really feeling good for having met that guy, even if only briefly.

The night was kind of slow – the first where I didn’t really have a ride waiting when I dropped off my current passenger – and I thought about hanging it up after ride five. It was really nice out and I thought maybe I’d take a walk around the waterfront.

“Just one more loop around the riverfront corridor”, I told myself. That’s MLK and Broadway flanked by the Burnside and Broadway Bridges. As I cruised down MLK toward the Burnside Bridge, I got a call to pick someone up a few blocks behind me at Oregon’s Finest – another cannabis dispensary.

That’s not even the cyclical part of my driving shift. I mean, well…kinda. Call it a recurring theme.

I picked up a young woman who was just getting off work and took her home. We had a great chat along the way about…weed. I sometimes feel bad talking shop with my cannabis industry peeps, but she pointed out that the people that work in weed are definitely passionate about it.

Two rides later – ride eight – I look at my pick up and I’m getting called back to Oregon’s Finest.

Weird

I pick up another young woman finishing up her workday and take her home. Along the way, I tell her about my earlier ride and she wonders which one of her co-workers it was. “I dunno, can’t remember her name. Really nice, though. Orange hair?”

That did actually – even in Portland – narrow it down for her.

My last ride of the night – ride ten – was a pick up for a last minute run to the weed shop before closing time.

Any guesses?

Broadway Cannabis Collective.

There’s a damn weed shop on damn near every block in this crossfaded town and 40% of my rides in one day were to two of them.

Pretty strange occurrence.

Right up there with the day I picked up a guy to take him to work at Mr Nice Guy. I honestly wasn’t sure if that was a weed shop or an adult book store, but once we arrived I figured it out. As I sat in the driveway, trying to decide whether to go left or right to cruise toward home, I got a ride request.

Turns out, I was going left…to the other Mr Nice Guy a few miles away to pick up a customer.

Back to back rides with the same business? That amused the hell out of me.

But not every coincidence is weed-related.

Yesterday, for instance, my very first ride was taking a guy home from work. As we drove, we chatted about Portland real estate, because…why not? He interrupts himself to appreciatively comment about a rather fit looking age inappropriate woman. With anime pink hair.

“Probably a stripper, too. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!” he adds hastily.

Which segues – courtesy of your favorite Voice of Treason – into the generational differences regarding sex workers. Our generation – his and mine – still has obvious parochial guilt around the subject. Younger generations embrace sex work as an industry.

But that’s not the point.

I drop him off with a ride waiting and go pick up this young woman. She drops her bag in the car and apologizes for forgetting her mask before running back into her house to get it.

Such a nice young lady.

I ask her where she’s going and she says to the pet store to get a mouse for her snake. Mentally, I drive into a telephone pole, underreacting.

In reality, I laugh and change the subject.

“I have to say, you look exactly like your picture.” She’s surprised by this. I tell her that most people don’t even have a pic on their profile, but it’s helpful for me when I’m looking for people on a crowded street. Then I highlight my own short-haired profile picture versus my current shaggy reality.

“But your hair is even the same color in real life…I wanna say teal?”

She fusses with her hair and admits that she just touched it up, but in the picture from last year her hair is actually a little faded. We go on talking about how she always wanted to dye her hair that color growing up in LA, but never felt comfortable doing so until she moved to Portland.

“Portland is weird that way – there’s really just no ‘normal’ here when it comes to style”, I tell her before asking what she did for work.

stripper.

I shit you not.

Back to back stripper talk rides.

We talk about that for a while and I tell her how much I truly love that stripping is just a normal part of our bar scene versus some taboo, like in the rest of the country. She agreed, having been a stripper in LA she was kind of surprised by the shame factor associated with it there. The seedy locations. The judgment she encountered on the bus if her work bag wasn’t zipped all the way and her work heels showed.

“Not here, sister. In Portland, it’s weird to be drinking a beer and not have a naked person within three feet!” As we rolled up to the pet store, I thanked her for keeping Portland the right kind of weird. She told me to stop in to Mary’s if I was ever in the neighborhood.

I live three blocks from Mary’s. Which is actually the oldest strip club in town. Mary herself – well into her 60s – is still known to pop in for a set now and then. On top of the whole “gay” thing, a 60+ stripper is enough to keep a beer at Mary’s pretty low on my to-do list, but now…

Anyway, those are some examples of fun circles. But that’s not always the case.

Sometimes That’s Not Fun.

I’m glad I don’t have many bad rides. Bad, being relative, of course. Mean people or folks behaving inappropriately? Almost never. Out of over 1700 rides in the last 11 months, I think I could count on one hand the truly bad experiences I’ve had.

I’ve had a couple of sad story rides that could count as “bad”, too.

The two young ladies I dropped off at a funeral – the people entering the chapel were almost exclusively teenagers.

The woman whose long term boyfriend (and local concert promoter) had died prematurely the night before.

And this nice Black woman from the other night and her teenaged grandson. She was on her way home after spending a few days watching after her grandkids so their mother could help make arrangements for an elderly relative’s funeral.

It turns out, that death had been expected, however the day after that older family member died, two others had been killed in a car accident. A mother and her son.

I’d heard about that wreck. It was bad. The car caught fire after the wreck and both driver and passenger ended up dying.

It wasn’t until this grandmother got in my car that I understood how terrible the accident was. But it was heartwarming to hear about how the family pulled together to take care of one another. The grandson was actually going to spend a few days with grandma now that his mom was back home and able to take care of his younger sibling.

Also, his aunt was going to do his braids…still, that just seemed like the family taking care of each other in a “life goes on” type of way.

The circle here?

In what would end up being my final ride of the night, I was taking a hospital worker from OHSU high up on a hilltop in southwest Portland to her home in deep southeast. Like around 122nd. It was just about 11 PM and we were waiting to turn onto 122nd, her home was just a few hundred feet away.

The lights – I think, this is where I’m every stereotype of a bad eyewitness – had just changed to allow the cross street turn lanes the right of way. A car turning onto 122nd from the other direction was just crossing the center of the intersection when a car ran the red light on 122nd. They must have been going 50 MPH or more in a 40 MPH zone. They hit the rear drivers side of the car hard enough to knock it backward and across two lanes of traffic, narrowly missing a pedestrian when it landed on the corner diagonal from me. The speeding vehicle ended up in the gas station even further behind it pointed in the wrong direction.

I’d been – me being me – chattering away with my passenger when all of this happened 30-ish feet away from us. It was stunning, to put it mildly. It looked like the car that got hit only had a driver in it, but they weren’t moving. My passenger wanted to go home, so after waiting to make sure people were calling 911, I went on.

Coming back down 122nd a few minutes later, the intersection was filled with police cars – luckily they weren’t all down at the Justice Center, which had been the “story” from PPB a few days prior – and emergency vehicles. Still a little shaken up by the accident I’d witnessed, I carefully executed a left-hand turn at the intersection, switched off my app and pointed Angela toward home.

Like I said, there’s not many bad stories or circles from my time driving…but I probably should have saved that stripper story for the end, eh?

Car-ma

What A Long, Strange Week It’s Been…

Seriously, last week was quite a year.

I inadvertently offended my sister on social media.

Black Sheep Bro persisted in his attempts to have a conversation at me about why I should gratefully accept his return to the family dynamic. Reinforcing why I’d rather he leave me out of his notion of family.

Coronavirus.

Politics.

Social Justice.

Perhaps you’ve read something about Trunt treating Portland like his personal Operation Urgent Fury resulting more in Pinochet-esque kidnappings than anything resembling quelling the city’s outcry for justice.

The hits just kept on coming.

It was a tough week – I actually put myself in FaceBook Jail for a couple days just to slow the swirl.

On top of that, multiple folks reached out to me – either checking in or chiding – because I hadn’t been posting entries on my blog.

But instead of rehashing the long, I thought I’d recap the strange of the last week. Something lighthearted – just what Doctor Galby ordered.

Also, “Cocktail, please!”

After another round of self isolating, I went back to my Lyft driving last week. Probably another reason recent days had begun to feel so long and unending – not much company compared to when I drive folks around, chatting their ears off.

The result?

For my efforts, I was rewarded with both mask acne on the bridge of my nose and something like a pimple or a cyst or simply ridiculously painful in my ear pit where the upper strap of my mask looped over the top of my ear. Luckily, that second petty trauma is now just a bunch of dry skin working its way off my body. That mask acne, though…the outbreak on the bridge of my nose may be gone, but my swampy complexion lingers on.

I’m not kidding – that mask has been like a sauna for my face. And it just wicks from under my mask, too, crawling up my face until even my forehead is a thick, greasy mess.

“Hello, Puberty? Yes, I’d like to return this skin, please.”

For whatever reason, there were two consecutive days during my isolation that I woke up at around 4 AM and struggled to get back to sleep. Even though I proactively fed Myrtle breakfast so she wouldn’t go unattended to, she’d still come into the bedroom with some sad little “meows” around 9. Since she didn’t need anything, I chose to interpret her vocalizations as concern.

On the second day, unsure whether I’d fallen back to sleep or not and not wanting to look at my phone and risk waking my eyes up, I rolled the other way, toward the window. I pushed an eye out from under my pillow – me sleeping is quite a graceful picture – and squinted one eye open to see if there was daylight coming through the edges of my blinds.

No sun, just one of Myrtle’s big, green eyeballs. I screamed. I think I involuntarily jerked so hard (not like that, Diezel) that I pulled a muscle (also, not that one, Diezel!).

For her part, Myrt didn’t run and scurry for the underside of the bed or the living room, like she usually does when she gets startled. She just looked at me with those soulless cat eyes like she was willing me to get out of bed so she could have my warm spot.

I need to get her a heating pad…

But I got her back a few days later.

Well, almost.

I may have friendly-fired myself with a Dutch Oven a couple times the other night.

A. Couple. Times.

I didn’t even eat anything weird, so no idea where my bedtime Chernobyl came from. All I do know is that when I looked around, thinking something along the lines of, “That’s for scaring the shit out of me the other day”…no Myrtle.

Damn it.

But after a week-ish that was like an emotional finger trap, I’m glad I could at least still find joy in my own weird awkwardness. I decided to take it easy today. Well, I was hoping to get in a bike ride or urban hike before my Virtual Happy Hour with mom and dad – shit I gotta go get something to drink, the company may be virtual, but the liquor will not be! – at 4. Strangely, I woke up famished. After pulling myself together, I set off for my new favorite food cart for an early lunch.

Closed.

Fuckity-fuck-fuck.

What followed ended up being a nice workaround to not exercising because I was hungry.

Not bad, considering my day was turning into one of these…

It’s only a quarter mile to the cart, but the other mile and a half was me mincing around from pod to pod searching for inspiration. I ended up at Charlie’s Deli getting what I think is the best sandwich in Portland: their pastrami on rye, extra mustard.

And, more bright side – I didn’t even get disappeared while out walking by myself.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone, and don’t forget…Fuck Trump!

What A Long, Strange Week It’s Been…

Circles

No, this isn’t about the song that has people calling Post Malone the relationship whisperer of the ’20s. Nor about why Of Monsters And Men would feel that it was incumbent upon them to remake this with an adult contemporary vibe…while Post Malone’s version was still getting airplay.

Indeed, this is about the phenomenon I experience while driving occasionally – a strangely frequent occurrence, actually – where I experience strange geographical orbits or find recurring conversational themes with my passengers or whatnot.

For example, the other day a passenger got into my car and I could feel something. It was in an area of town I don’t get to often. As a matter of fact, I’ve only ever picked up one person there before prior to this. The pick up is just a block past The Cajun and The Canadian’s house, so I was wondering if maybe I’d passed them driving down the street and not noticed them because I was looking at house addresses.

Nah, it was that I’d picked up the same guy and failed to realize it. He reminded me about halfway through our ride. And moments later, while we were still “catching up” another ride piled on and it was a passenger I recognized by name – how many non-Grace & Frankie characters do you know named Coyote? But he had a good 15 minute wait for me to drop off my current passenger and eventually dropped off.

It’s just as well, though. I call my repeat riders the 1% Club because it’s only about every hundredth ride I get a familiar face.

Two back-to-back would have been weird.

So I drop off this passenger and as I’m pulling out of the drive, get a ride to replace Coyote. The Lyft Life always seem to keep me busy, even when I miss out on rides because another driver frees up to get one that’s stacked on my queue.

It was another 1% Clubber.

Two would have been weird…three was nuts. Not that my rider was as amazed as I was – and I kept my awe pretty well checked, but she showed me how to really play it cool.

Hey, I never said the 1% Club was exclusively cool.

Anyway…any guesses what topic might have come up repeatedly throughout this past weekend?

Anyone?

Yeah. Take your pick.

George Floyd.

Defunding Police.

Protests – attending, traffic – stuck in, complaining about, managing, just…discussing.

And I’ll be honest, I learned so much!

Just by asking a question and then shutting my mouth.

It was a powerful weekend. I took today off of driving just to decompress and true to my ovalesque form, I’m gonna work it through here. Feel free to expand upon, agree, disagree, tell me I’m up in the night, tell me you learned something or whatever in the comments.

Let’s start off with the smartest man I’ve witnessed in quite a while. Sadly, this was not one of my passengers.

Brilliant, no?

Assuming cops read better than Trump…

First – or second, depending on how you define the phrase “Let’s start off with” in the hierarchical nature of lists – let’s go back to one of my posts from last week, ACAB. You can bet as I’m giving protesters a lift here or there or just debriefing the events of the past week with riders that this came up. And there’s me

You know what no one has really been able to make me understand?

…like I’m some kind of Seinfeld knockoff.

Not that it made me feel any better, but I found that I wasn’t the only person who felt disease at the radical catchphrase-cum-urban-art gaining steam as mainstream messaging. That made me feel a little less like a liberal Benedict Arnold, but my goal – my hope – was really to still come away from these conversations with greater understanding.

Hell, I have to admit, though, that it was gratifying to meet people who I could tell were taking time to think about my concerns over the hyperbole of “All Cops Are Bastards”. My assumption, I told people was that there was a story behind it, but I just didn’t know it. If I didn’t know it, as an average Joe, what if others simply took it at face value and suddenly good cops became collateral damage?

I’m glad that I could see people turning my concerns over.

Best answer?

A rider told me to think of it this way: ACAB is to cops what Original Sin is to Christianity. It comes with the badge, not the person.

Me: Why? Tell me more.

Basically, good people become complicit – regardless of other motivations for joining the force – once they put on the badge. Probably, it wouldn’t have resonated with me as much had another rider not told me something about police history that I did not know.

From Original Sin to Origin Story, if you will.

Not that other countries before us didn’t have a police force, but where policing really kicked into high gear in this country was with slavery. We needed people to patrol as a deterrent to escape and whatnot. These folks were called paddyrollers. When slavery ended, that shifted to ensuring safety for white people from freed slaves.

I’d never thought of it through that particular lens. Naturally, I came home looking for information and was amazed at the little nuggets I picked up – although I’m certainly not ready for any sort of Jeopardy by any means.

At this point, I was attenuated to this origin story. Things kept jumping out at me, including a quote about how necessary police were to protect Whites from freed slaves. I swear I screen shotted that quote, but fuck if I can find it now. So take this little gem as a break from heavy subject matters instead.

Sometimes I love the interwebs and the dweebs that inhabit the joint.

One final question I felt compelled to ask of a few people was about minority cops.

If all cops ARE bastards, are Black cops not just modern day Uncle Toms?

A good chunk of the people admitted they didn’t know or had never even considered that in the context of police brutality.

One Black passenger shared a story about someone she knew whose grandmother basically disowned him after their becoming a cop. But another – while not answering the question directly – flipped the question to something equally enlightening: double minorities.

This rider asked me to consider that once you’re a cop, your other identities are beside the point. That can actually result in Black cops being the object of fear and even hatred in their own community because the community doesn’t know where the loyalties lie or shake out.

Is it Black, Badge or Badge then Black when it comes down to it? Or is there even an answer?

“Think of gay Black men”, he said, clearly pegging me. Because of the stigma of homosexuality in the Black community, a lot of gay Black men are actually afraid of other Black men.

And I had to admit that this clearly stoned Black man in my back seat was a genius for making that complex point.

If I’d come out of the weekend with only that understanding of ACAB, I’d still call that a solid understanding win. As a matter of fact, I wish I could travel back to last Thursday and share just that with my passengers who engaged on this topic.

Tangential to that topic was just plain old protest messaging. In the post I linked to above, I discuss briefly how integrity – or its lack – is a trigger for me. That’s where my initial ACAB resistance started…All.

But there were other stories shared, individual awareness raised and even behavioral modification commitments made.

A couple of my favorite shared stories:

A person told me about being at a protest and finally understanding the difference between a peaceful protest and a nonviolent protest. We both agreed that violence was not an end goal either would appreciate, but then they went on to point out that protests are generally disruptive.

One of the reasons permits are required

I offered, trying to demonstrate understanding.

Peaceful protests are what you’ll see on a street corner with a few people waving signs or hanging banners from freeway overpasses. Non-violent protests are more raucous by nature because while the intent isn’t to hurt anyone, they aren’t above breaking a window or starting a fire to drive a point home. But property destruction isn’t violent, per se. It’s in your face, but for reform to happen, sometimes the impetus is financial versus moral.

I can still hear my question echoing in my head as the conversation leaps riders and morphs slightly in the process. This rider had been at a protest and seen plastic water bottles being thrown at cops by a couple of hooligans in their midst. Their fear was tear gas – again – or rubber bullets. Or worse yet, the sonic sound weapon (I think it’s called an LSAD) that the police had used after the mayor shut down tear gas. They’d have preferred tear gas. They came prepared with water bottles that were a baking soda and water mix, effective in taking the sting out of tear gas.

They had been happy to see the crowd shout down the water bottle chuckers, crying out “non-violent protest!” until they slinked away.

Indeed, I saw an example of this myself. Protesters at the fence around our Justice Center reacting when someone at the front climbed up on the fence to flick his cardboard sign at the police standing inside. They went after him. The cops, to their credit, did not react. But the fear was rubber bullets.

In that regard, I think Portland’s police force has responded in a more measured manner than elsewhere in the country. Obviously, not perfectly, but better.

Still, that gas and the (possibly called) LSAD came up more than once over the weekend. Mainly as examples of the police being militarized. Defensive statements in the argument to defund the police.

One rider passionately made the connection to militarizing the police being akin to the precise reason police needed to be defunded in the first place.

If the police have the military grade weapons, they’re going to use them – even if it’s to break up a peaceful group protesting between the White House and a church so the President can walk across the park for a photo op.

Great example of an argument against.

But another great example of the circles I experience in my car. Because there we are, right back where we started. Defund the Police doesn’t mean disband the police.

It’s hyperbole, once again.

It’s not that all cops are bastards and let’s turn the country into one big Florida gated community patrolled by polo wearing mall cops in golf carts by defunding the actual police.

The hyperbole obscured the point: reduce funding for things like police in schools and transit police. Hell, one rider posited even meter maids could go or be severely reduced – “Their budget is already paid by our taxes, excessive parking tickets just creates double taxation!”

But those branches of the force that would be eliminated would have their funding redirected toward better response alternatives. Mental health responders or substance abuse counselors being deployed with a goal of getting people in crisis the help they need connecting to resources that will help them – also funded through defunding ineffective police programs – versus getting them into contact with police officers without quality training to really protect and serve their communities.

And on that note – before I leave you to digest – I’ll pat Portland on the back again. In my nine months of driving with Lyft, I’ve had exactly one bad experience.

Riders ask me this all the time. Ok, hyperbole aside…often.

I picked up a young lady who was going to her boyfriend’s. She needed to stop on the way, it turned out, at a RiteAid to get a bandage.

No problem, I told her – as I do anyone who asks to stop or reroute during a ride. “It’s your ride, I’ll go where you tell me!” Then she thrusts her arm into my field of vision and says her dog bit her as she was leaving.

In retrospect, my best guess is that she’d been drinking at home and messing around with the canine equivalent of Myrtle, who stopped her shenanigans by sending a “Game Over” message in the only way that this rider would understand.

So I stop off at the RiteAid, not yet having connected the drinky dots.

She comes out and starts tending to her wound as I continue on.

Then she slips into Kitty Dukakis mode.

By the time I get to her destination – a shopping mall versus her boyfriend’s – she’s zonked out in the back, still sitting up. I can’t wake her up.

After several minutes of no-to-groggy responses, I use the emergency toggle in the app. I’m having a conversation about her as she settles deeper into unconsciousness in the back. The agent I’m talking to dispatches police while I’m on the line.

Here’s the great thing.

Sure, the police come. But en route, based on what they know, they call a secondary unit to meet them. One that is designed to get drunks to a safe, non-jail place to sober up instead of placing them under arrest or citing them for public intoxication.

This isn’t even a traditional drunk tank.

This woman won’t even have a blip on her record for this…I think that’s a perfect example of defunding to de-escalate potential scenarios where police contact could devolve into police violence. Sure, Portland double-dipped on the response since there was a police team and the – I dunno what they’re called – Intervention Squad? But the police team knew to facilitate the hand off versus being directly involved. They were trained enough to have an attempted assessment type conversation with my passenger and then let her be until their backup arrived to take over.

A great experience.

The best part?

What am I not telling you?

The mall – Lloyd Center – serves a traditionally Black demographic.

How might this scenario had played out in Minneapolis? Or Ferguson, MO? Or Brunswick, GA?

For as much reform work as we have ahead of us as a country and as imperfect as Portland Police Bureau is simply for being the police…at least we have a liberal community that has made some imperfect efforts that have yielded enough imperfect results to make me confident that regardless of national legislative police reform, we’ll be able to make local impacts that will at least let our minuscule minority community get a head start. Gimp legged as it may be…

Circles

ACAB

Howdy y’all! It’s Grumpy, Old Xtopher – here for another episode of The Voice of Treason.

I don’t want to shock anyone, but I’m not going after my favorite barrel fish, The Gays, in this episode.

Well, not completely, anyway.

First, ACAB…what is it?

It stands for All Cops Are Bastards. Sometimes it’s represented by 1312, which is its first letter numerical equivalent…because when you have a message, you’d hate to just put it out there where anyone could understand you without a secret handshake or decoder ring being involved.

Gawd, I love sarcasm.

I’ve been taking pics around town over the last year of scenes where people have casually graffitied “Fuck the Police” or “ACAB” on walls or sidewalks. I say casually since there was no newsworthy catalyst. I’m just walking down the street and <bloop> graffiti. It’s actually something of a blog post I started last year called Un-Civil War, but I’m not sure it’ll ever make it out of draft mode at this point.

We’re heading into night four of protests in Portland and our third night of 8 PM curfew in the city. I also just heard from the Silver Fox that Governor Brown has activated the Guard to assist Portland. I’m extrapolating here based off an earlier story about this prior to the Guv committing Guard troops – in order to assist Portland in protecting its governmental buildings so the police are freer to patrol the city.

But what’s bothered me about the emboldening ACAB messaging has really come to a point for me over the last four nights.

I think it really crystallized for me when I was driving yesterday afternoon.

It was around 4 and I was taking a couple and their pup, Buffy – how sweet is that? – from Southeast to their home a few blocks from mine in Northwest. We were still on the Eastside, a few blocks from the Burnside Bridge and were suddenly passed by two troop movers, large trucks modified so cops could ride standing on the running boards. These were followed by two dually style pickups with grill lights flashing.

Ridiculously, I ended up sitting side-by-side with them at a stop light, waiting to cross – if you can believe this – MLK Boulevard before crossing the bridge.

Just let the surreality of that whole scene wash over you.

I wasn’t sure what the protocol was in this situation, was I supposed to pull over or turn off and find another route? Just drive like it was no big deal?

I held my palms up in question when one of the cops riding the side boards looked my way.

His response was to nod once and then give me a makeshift non-contact “five” by dropping his open hand toward my upraised palm.

Well, he’s certainly not a bastard.

My passengers chuckled and we decided together to proceed across the bridge with the cops. I gave them a generous head start, though. And in a truly miraculous occurrence, no non-native Portland drivers honked at me.

From the turn they took onto 2nd once we crossed the bridge, it seemed they were heading for the Tom McCall Waterfront Park or possibly down to Naito Parkway to head into the government core of the city, which is in Southwest between 2nd and 5th Streets. That would actually track, since I’d been re-routed around protests in Southwest when I’d crossed the Hawthorne Bridge earlier.

I’d heard later from a rider that Tri-Met had stopped bus service downtown at 3:30 that afternoon, and at 6 PM, the city had closed down several bridges into downtown as well as the exits into downtown from the 405, which loops around the central core of the city – see also: my way home.

Basically, the city was trying to control access to downtown. If you were coming in from the outer neighborhoods, you were walking.

Which is exactly what the protesters did.

Several groups held rallies in areas of town. Some with early end times to respect the 8 PM curfew, others intending – it seemed – to end up downtown right around the start of the curfew. A couple of the groups that ended earlier had stragglers join the later march. That resulted in a group of several thousand people marching down Burnside toward the bridge I had followed combat geared cops across earlier.

I actually picked up a nice young woman a few block past this march – after weaving around its tail five blocks eastward – who had just broken off to head home. She’d just moved here in December for work and asked if “we” did this type of thing often.

I told her our unofficial nickname and weather forecast (Little Beirut and cloudy with a chance of protests) and she seemed to get the point. Still, I added,

Not enough bike lanes, bogus travel bans, police brutality…we generally seem pretty DTM here.

DTM?”

Down to March?

“I think I’ll like it here.”

Plus, great food.

“Not a bad fallback!”

But cool cops in tactical gear and fun stranger-on-a-plane type convos aside…this morning I watched an hour and 16 minute video that one of my friends from yesterday’s post…er, posted of himself in last night’s march. From the timing of it and where he was on Burnside when his video started, it’s likely he walked in front of me while I was blocked by the protestors in the pic above.

Ironically, in a fit of things that could only happen to me, this guy falls into the “If you drive Lyft long enough, you’re bound to give a ride to someone you boned” category as not only the inaugural but thankfully only member.

I watched the video because of the attached post

His post hashtags the now debunked DC Blackout that supposedly highlighted the difference between the start of Pride month at the White House in 2015 versus last night.

Only that pic wasn’t from last night. It was from 2011 or something…

His post also uses ultimatums and hyperbole that suggest if you stay inside or silent, that you’re complicit in the violence against minorities.

It also predicted the activation of the National Guard by a good 6 hours and assured his followers that the government was trying to exterminate protestors.

Okay

Still, I watched the video.

I’m proud to report that not any part of me was anxious to see this younger man tear gassed. Or exterminated.

I wouldn’t mind seeing him tone down his hyperbole a bit, though.

In the video I watched – which I know covers only one of three nights of his activism – he wasn’t chased.

Or tear gassed.

Nor shot at.

He yelled a lot of chants.

“Get out of your house and on the streets” to people watching from their balconies.

The call and return of “Say his/her name!” to give voice to George and Breonna and Aubry now that theirs have been silenced.

But the one that really bugged me was the “All Cops Are Bastards”.

And it bugged me for the same reason that his post bugged me: it’s dishonest.

The injustice these protests are addressing don’t need anything extra. Especially in today’s climate of malleable integrity.

If you use that as part of your platform in the battle against racism and unnecessary force by the police and they show – for example – this picture

…from another Portland protest, no less – then your argument and credibility are shot. C’mon, a cop hugging a black kid?

Definitely not a bastard.

Not to mention you’re no better than our current POSOTUS – that’s Piece of Shit of the United States, by the way.

And that’s a slippery slope.

If your response to a picture of a cop taking a knee with protesters mimicking Colin Kaepernick’s protest kneel is that he was just putting on battle gear…well, now you’re twisting reality. Because – go with me here – a cop is heading off to a protest so he takes his gear with him so that if shit starts to get tense, he can take a knee and put his gear on.

Sure.

Yet, that’s the excuse I’ve seen from the left when confronted with photos like that.

And now we’ve got this guy saying the National Guard has been activated to exterminate protestors.

So, yeah, things like ACAB bother me. Mainly because they are gateway lies. Propaganda that sounds flashy and gets hearts racing and righteous blood pumping fervently.

But do you need that when you’re right?

I think not, and now we’ve abdicated the moral high ground by lying.

For my part, after watching the video I reiterated my point about having permits to protest legally, that I was glad no one was injured in the video – and most proud to see a protester shout a fellow protestors down after he climbed up on a fence around our Justice Center and threw his sign at the cops inside the perimeter.

“This is a peaceful protest!” he yelled.

I applaud that.

I just dare the left and Black community allies to keep it an honest protest, too.

Leave ACAB where it belongs…in Genesis lyrics.

ACAB

But At Least My D!ck Is Bigger Than His…

Or so his actions would indicate.

Here’s the pre-set up (Right? Just settle in, it’s one of those Galby stories):

I was doing my Lyft thing. I’m really trying to go from driving 4/week to 3 while still making my weekly goals. Because 20-ish hours/week with Lyft beats any fucking job that I’ve ever had. Seriously, it’s like every other job I’ve ever had was my personal Ike Turner by comparison.

And if you don’t get that, google it – but thanks for following my blog instead of doing your arithmetic homework.

Anywho, the bogeyman here is that when I get bored, I can just hop in the car for a change of pace. Also: entertainment. Also, also: what, I should exercise when I’m bored? Pish.

So, I’ve been playing around with my preferred schedule of having a couple days of driving and a couple days off. Lather, rinse, repeat. On top of that, balancing demand to maximize my time.

Interesting side bar, once I started driving again I found I was in high demand. Rides stacked up one after another – the caveat being that drivers were so scarce (I don’t want to explain why – it turns racism in American politics on its ass…ok, I do want to explain why – just not here) that I was driving 15-20 minutes to pick up a passenger. That made my customer service heart absolutely ache. So I was glad to be out there doing.

Recently, though, demand has leveled off – a good sign that people felt secure enough to leave their homes to work. I no longer felt like the last Lyft driver on the planet. Which is good since riders were waiting 15+ minutes less frequently now. I dunno why I feel responsible for the overall customer experience here, I just do.

See also: why I don’t drive for rapey Uber.

Surprise! None of that actually has to do with the size of my figurative penis.

I’d say that this kind of does – except it would make me sound really bad in the wrong context, ie: the unofficial language of ‘Murica – though, during my impromptu shift today, I picked up an essential nurse from OHSU after her shift. OHSU is located on a hilltop – like, a big one.

If I knew I was dying, that’s the hospital I’d want to be taken to.

Further from Hell, you see. I know, not the rationale you expected. Have we met? Hehe.

The thing I like about delivering or fetching people from work there is that these folks are essential, even without a pandemic. And being a hospital atop an idyllic mountaintop in Portland means real estate is at a premium – and they don’t waste it on parking lots.

One rider told me she’s been there 9 years and is still not in the top 1000 on the parking spot wait list.

But.

The hospital has a variety of programs to incentivize employees to take alternative transportation – including Lyft credits. Well, “credits”.

Naturally, I do a brisk business on the hill.

Today, I picked up an essential scrub heading home after work who had a 24 minute drive. It was 3:30-ish in the afternoon. In the last week, this has been well within the window of when all the locked down peeps have given in to escaping their shut-in shackles to demonstrate how driving on a freeway is not like riding a bicycle.

On top of that, this was one of those “three seasons in one day” types of days. We had sun, rain and – while I was driving my scrub across town – hail.

We took I-84 for most of our freeway transit. The important thing to know here is that it’s a serpentine three lane freeway in both directions, most lanes grooved by decades of asswipes who kept their snow tires on too long.

Mix in some of that hail and biblical rain and you’ve got a challenging drive.

Throw a micro-penis into the mix and, well, you’ve now surpassed shit-show level shenanigans.

I-84, aka: the Banfield, stretches West to East across Portland’s east side betwixt I-5 along the Willamette River and I-205, which runs N-S through a part of town called Felony Flats.

It’s 4.8 miles, this Banfield stretch of road. The 84 continues on past the 205 (we Portlanders really hate including the “I” in our freeway designations) toward the regrettable Gresham and then on up the Gorge toward the heavenly hamlet of Hood River.

4.8 miles is, as some who’ve driven it may not know, Portland’s mathematical measurement of Absolute Hell.

Why?

Micropenis.

Seriously, my only explanation.

Knowing I had the full ~5 miles of the Banfield to contend with, I moved over to the far left to avoid the cluster-coitus that is merging on Portland’s freeways.

A reasonable plan, “passing lane only” enthusiasts notwithstanding.

Sadly, there was what I can only assume was a person suffering a stroke while driving five cars ahead of me in that lane. It was so bad that people in the far right lane – even with their merging maladies – were outpacing us. I decided after three miles to get into the center lane. Realizing I had fewer than two miles before my exit to 205, I left my blinker on to move into the right lane for my exit.

It was a simple plan to execute – I needed only wait for the car on my passenger side forward flank to clear with a safe distance between us to execute my lane change. After that, I moved right from the center to right lane.

Mind you (foreshadowing!) my blinker had been on this whole time.

Yes, I use my blinkers.

For whatever reason, this micropenis driver interprets my signal the same way a color blind bull interprets a red flag. In much the same way that a single person attempting dating would – full steam ahead!

The result in both scenarios was the same: the wronged person ends up shouldering the blame.

In this case, that manifested with a horn.

Then an aggressive lane change, acceleration and swift cut off (with no signal) followed by a one-fingered salute.

For my part, I refused to look ahead with an intensity that belied the existence of another driver, so I looked blithely toward him as he aggressively passed me.

I think that made him mad.

As did my refusal to return his hand gestures.

Have I ever mentioned how often I’m complimented – bewilderingly – on my habit of keeping both hands on the wheel? It’s true. I do.

The end result of this tale was – as the skies absolutely pissed rain down – that this inverted prick of a human slammed on his brakes after cutting me off. While having only one hand on the wheel, since the other was displaying his IQ.

He hydroplaned.

Only briefly, thankfully.

Long enough, though, that my recalcitrant conversationalist passenger commented on my defensive driving skills.

I think my active distancing only further enraged this hella fella, since – and I couldn’t make this up – when another driver cut into what was clearly his personal lane, the whole damn thing lathered, rinsed and goddamn repeated.

This joker was so focused on sticking it to a could-care-less-Xtopher that he almost had his second accident in as many minutes.

Don’t worry, though. He whipped out of the right hand lane and into the center to pass that other fool and aggressively cut them off.

Take that, presumably reasonably blessed-below-the-belt other driver!

Sheesh.

Trump’s motorcade driver really needs to get back to DC. It’s not like Trump would ever set foot in Oregon, anyway. As a matter of fact, if he did ever want to reach his base here in Oregon, it would probably be easier to fly into Boise and cross the Idaho/Oregon border to reach his hayseed base in Eastern Oregon than it would be to risk seeing the pussy-hat-clad libtards in Portland that would line his route eastward from PDX.

Anyway…after all that – basically announcing to the I-84 world that he had a two inch penis – when fully aroused – and a four foot foreskin, it turns out that this abortion of a human didn’t even need to be in the right hand lane, anyway. Just as the lane exited from the 84 to the 205, this unreliable COVID test of a human whipped into the center lane to hurry home toward Gresham.

All of his lane jockeying and hostile driving was for naught. If he’d just been in the center lane to begin with, all of his angst would have been avoided.

Stupid American.

If not for the potential for negative collateral damage, I’d say he should keep on driving like an asshole. I’m sure the odds will catch up with him soon enough – I just can’t stand the thought of a decent human being being taken out with him.

Alas.

Seriously, though…road rage was what this guy missed after two months in lockdown?

But At Least My D!ck Is Bigger Than His…

Pro-Tip

I was having socially distant beers with Filipina Fox recently – we were drinking in the park, surrounded camouflaged by homeless people milling about. She took the opportunity to ask my opinion on something that had been bugging her lately.

Food Delivery Apps.

“Easy”, I said. “Don’t.”

But, she explained her conflict – she is a more than competent cook, by the way – of wanting to support local business and be lazy convenience. But when she orders delivery, she gets mad that the restaurant has to pay a commission to the app, effectively removing the support she wants to provide. Plus, delivery drivers need the income, too.

I totally get that. All that.

However, working in banking as she does, specifically in a capacity where local, small businesses are her clients, she has seen the documentation of sales and expense restaurants incur as part of app based delivery services. The examples I’ve seen point toward that app portion of the fees being about 35% of the order value…and in food, that’s pretty much more than a restaurant’s profit margin. She wanted my opinion since when my Lyft Life gets a little too peopley or if there’s just no ride demand, she knows that I’ll flip on Postmates as an alternative.

Frankly, I really enjoy my untethered, non-professional gig jobs. The flexibility to work when I want, do what I want, yada-yada-yada…with no boss or corporate overlord to worry about. As an added bonus, both options allow me to flex a muscle I took for granted when I walked away from my retail career in disgust – namely: being in service to people.

Still, that a friend was demonstrating this level of hand-wringing worrying about how her actions impacted others made my little gig worker self feel appreciated in a way that most of my actual past bosses failed at.

Yet there I was, telling her to fuck worrying about me and my gig working ilk.

Why?

I was mad at Postmates, obviously.

Well, mad might be overselling it. But Postmates, I have observed in my last few attempts to customer them, has either been doing some shady shit or at least allowing it to happen. Since the reason for my disgust with retail was precisely that shady type of shit being allowed to fester versus holding people accountable to ethical standards…well, this observation bothered me.

So, I told the Filipina Fox my story.

The last few times I’ve ordered Postmates for my self, I’ve abandoned my order and found alternative forms of sustenance because I saw that Postmates wasn’t just making money on both ends, like apps do. They seemed to be actively price gouging.

Case in point:

I went to order from a local Chinese restaurant and found my favorite comfort food – Chef’s Special Fried Rice, which has shrimp, beef and chicken in it! – and added it to my order for $13.95. I thought that seemed kind of high, recalling that it was under $10 when I stumbled in there back in the good, old pre-COVID days and ordered at the bar, had a Heineken while I waited and left for under $20 with tip.

Then again, maybe I misremembered that since I’d had a few beers prior to walking in.

But then-then again, it is super yummy, so even at $13.95…worth it. So, I ordered it anyway. But just to make myself miserable, I googled Republic Cafe’s menu and, well…screw you, Uncle Bob.

Here’s why all that bothers me:

First, it seems to only happen with independent restaurants. When I’ve needed a Chipotle fix, those prices seem consistent with my prior in-restaurant orders. So, again, this is impacting small, local businesses.

Sidebar: I have noticed while driving, when I have to order and pay for something for a customer with my pre-paid Postmates card, that there are variations between what the app tells me the total should be and reality at national restaurants, but I don’t know what the customer is actually charged, so can’t definitively say that this doesn’t also happen with chain restaurants, too. But this sets up point number two pretty nicely.

Second, who knows whether this is a self-defense decision by the restaurant or something Postmates mandates. Regardless, even in the best case, the commission they are getting is off a higher priced menu, so they’re at least getting more for their 35% cut. If the best case here is that the restaurant is jacking their prices up 30% plus in order to offset the cost of selling through apps, well…that mitigates my friend’s concern, right?

Apps are still charging crazy delivery fees to the customer. Their other customer. Usually somewhere in the $3-5 range. So, on top of the $4-5 they would make on my $13.95 order from the restaurant, they add another $4-5 from the customer.

So, they’re making around $10 on each $15 order placed.

And I know, they promote restaurants with free or reduced delivery, too. I have no idea how that works out for the restaurants versus the apps. But on the flip side of that, for every order under $15, Postmates racks on a “small cart fee” of $2 to the customer, so…they’re making money somewhere or wheres – I don’t feel bad for them.

Like Filipina Fox, I feel a little bad for some of the businesses. But mostly, I feel mad that the customer is getting abused the way they are. The end result being that I will make decisions kind of like what she has been opting to do, which is just put on my big boy pants and walk down to the restaurant and pick up my own damn food.

No, really…I have to put on pants. Quarantine dress code and all means I’m probably sitting around in sweats versus dressed to go out. And sweats are not ok for going to pick up to-go food…it’s not like I’m getting on a plane, for Pete’s sake.

But, that’s a whole other rant.

Pro-Tip