A Texas Taliban Twist

What is it, you ask?

A new dance craze sweeping the globe on Tik Tok?

Or something far more rewarding?

Yes, yes…it’s that one.

And it’s a reeeaaaaalllly sweet reward. The perfect embodiment of poetic justice, or to extend the analogy, just desserts.

First, a recap:

In an effort to reverse the 50 year old law of the land on abortion and a woman’s right to choose, a pro-life law was passed in Texas banning abortion past the sixth week of pregnancy. Forget that many women don’t even know they are pregnant at the sixth week for a variety of reasons like the timing or regularity of their cycle or even just plain, old denial and hope. Feel free to set aside as well that many pregnancies self-terminate in the first trimester and the six week ban doesn’t even cover half that benchmark, do the pro-lifers were defending a life that may be doomed before it has a brainwave anyway. And on that note, just ignore that the nickname for this law is the Heartbeat Bill, as six weeks is generally when a heartbeat is detected during pregnancy and the Religious Wrong has decided – overriding the scientific community on this – that life begins at the heartbeat…a tactical retreat from their usual “conception” standpoint. Don’t worry, I’m sure they will vacillate between the two standpoints as is convenient for them.

Meanwhile, smash cut to confessionals across the country with lines of pro-lifers lined up outside of them and around the block waiting to confess their “sin” after having spontaneous orgasms at the passing of this law.

For all the twisted machinations behind this five-plus decades long fight by the religious community and the individual rights restrictive results of a woman no longer having agency over her own body, the people behind this Heartbeat Bill were nicknamed the Texas Taliban.

Liberals can be pithy, too.

And, boooooyyyy did the Religious Wrong hate that nickname. Sadly, it’s completely apt, given how the basis of this law reflect the way women are treated more as property in a religious culture far more ridiculous restrictive than anything previously experienced in American religious culture. Aside from the prevalence of religion amongst the slaves in early America, that is…but is that really the closest comparisons reasonable organization would strive for?

Never-mind, I realized I just used the adjective “reasonable” in relation to the group of nutsacks I call the Religious Wrong. I withdraw the question.

How did this – could this – have even happened?

Clever pro-life rabbits, that’s how.

Let me copy/paste something from The Guardian to save time:

“When a conservative state passes an abortion ban – as they do with some regularity – state employees are usually tasked with enforcing the law, those employees are named as defendants in lawsuits brought by pro-choice groups, and the law is blocked from going into effect by courts that declare it unconstitutional before any real patients are denied abortion care.”

The psychotic brilliance of the Texas Taliban’s plan is that it shortcuts the normal channel of enforcing the validity of a law: opponents suing “The State” over enforcement of said law. No, this law removes that step and takes it into some sort of Orwellian Bigger Brother scenario: citizen enforcement.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for people calling out unacceptable behaviors when they arise to prevent our culture from being sucked even further into the quagmire of this A-me-rica we’re all living in now.

This law, though, incentivizes it. It doesn’t openly solicit frivolous lawsuits, except it does. The law allows any average Jane or Joe to sue not only the mother, but any people perceived to be involved in the effort of terminate s pregnancy past the six week mark.

Insanity.

Brilliance.

Psychotic…

The enforcement of the law is up to the citizens, not the government. It offers a $10,000 bounty on people “assisting” in an abortion effort.

Parents.

Doctors.

Nurses.

Front desk clerks.

Bus or ride-share drivers.

(Yes, I legitimately got an email from Lyft telling me they had the backs of their drivers, as we’re not expected – by any reasonable person – to know where our passengers are going or what they intend to do once they arrive. Or, I suppose, what a six-plus-weeks-pregnant woman looks like.

Fucking nut jobs. But, like I said…brilliant. Diabolically so.

The fix?

At least so far…

You’ve heard the expression “Fighting fire with fire”?

Well, in this case, to get the legal ball rolling, the pro-choicers are fighting crazy with crazy.

Like, really crazy.

The law was expected to be more of a deterrent to providers, versus a tool of enforcement. As expected, a doctor who took his Hippocratic Oath seriously, performed a now illegal abortion.

As not expected, he then wrote an op-ed about it, effectively declaring open season on himself for the bounty hunters.

As also expected, this prompted two lawsuits against him.

Less expected, was that the lawsuits were filed by pro-choicers and not pro-lifers.

Twist!

Take that, Texas Taliban.

The most delicious part of this isn’t the Texas Taliban reeling over this development – although that is a delightful sight to behold. No, it’s that neither of the people bringing these suits is a Texas resident!

And, as I hinted at, they both seem equally equipped to battle fight crazy with crazier. They are both defrocked lawyers, tee-hee. And one is even under house arrest – I know not what for. That one openly states in his suit that if there’s bounty money to be made off of this law, he’s going to make it.

Then he refers to himself in the third person.

Delicious.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m livid at this intrusion of church interests into our collective state. I went rounds for days with some of the giddy pro-lifers who celebrated this <ahem> abortion of justice. But stupid Americans who are only interested in validating furthering their narrow minded interests by inflicting them on the rest of us and calling that freedom being out maneuvered by individuals the left would never hold up as our standard bearers?

That’s a justice whose irony I can appreciate.

A Texas Taliban Twist

Puberty…AGAIN?!?

And I mean, again. Of course, there’s the OG puberty. However, I’ve joked throughout my adult life about countless other random puberties – like the ear, nose or back hair growth puberties.

Well, with the return to indoor mask wearing a month ago, I’ve got another puberty to report. My old friend, oily skin puberty.

This is no joke. It goes beyond the casual maskne that many of us have complained about over the past 18 months.

My face is, at best, an oily swamp after wearing a mask for a couple hours.

Oily. Shiny. Tacky to the touch. It’s disgusting. I actually bought some facial cleansing wipes to give myself a lil refresh while I’m out doing a driving shift. Truth be told, though, by the time I use one, the oily mess my face creates has started to wick into my mask, so that feels gross when I put it back on – effectively negating my attempt to give myself a refresh.

Needless to say, I’ve tried to start carrying a spare mask with me when I know I’ll be out on the road for a bit.

When my scruff gets too long, it’s even worse.

You know I’m a talker, right? Well, all the hot air I expel creates even a more intense swampy feeling – my face feels like the inside of a car window with two teens going at it inside up on Lovers Lane.

It’s been enough to make me regret what I’ve been putting “The Boys” through all these years by wearing briefs instead of boxers.

Sorry, Boys.

And: sorry, Readers…that imagery will have you waking up screaming. Or moaning, ya bunch of pervs.

This maskne on steroids puberty has swelled my pores and created those gross, dense underground pimples that have all the “benefits” of visible pimples but never break through.

I try to resist picking at them – with mixed success. If I pick at them, I end up with a swollen and visibly irritated area of skin on my face. If I don’t, the pimple is eventually reabsorbed, but the skin over it dries out and becomes a bit crusty in the process, so then I’ve got some sort of soggy, oily pizza crust kind of thing happening on my face.

It’s great. No…really. So great.

I can’t forget those oversized pores, either. They put Portland’s potholes to shame, size-wise. I survey the damage in my mirror when I get home and see patches of black dotting my face, especially on my nose as it takes most of the contact brunt from masking up.

To amuse myself, I imagine planting some weed in the larger pores and starting a little grow op. Y’know, putting that hothouse effect from my mask to good use.

It’s a thought that bore some semi-therapeutic fruit yesterday while I was buying cat food. I ended up walking out of the store with this haul…

So, yesterday afternoon was a cathartic – and mask-free! – plantathon here at Chez Galby. It needed to happen, the balcony pots had never really recovered from our hottest-temperature-on-the-planet heat dome days from earlier in the summer. I’m trying to grow that Rosemary you can barely see in the pic above indoors…we’ll see how that grows goes.

I could get a better pic, and a snap of that third plant, but Myrtle is being uncharacteristically sweet and snoozing on my lap at the moment, so you only get underexposed evidence. Sorry, not sorry.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, writing this has given me the urge to give myself a facial mask.

Puberty…AGAIN?!?

People

…and other petty nuisances.

I kid, it’s just people this time. Or…once again?

I gave up on finished my driving “shift” earlier than I anticipated tonight. Usually, when I drive on Friday or Saturday, I’ll do “doubles”, meaning I’ll go out for ten rides early in the day, take a break and then go out for another ten later to get the Party People to the places they need to be. I’d planned to drive a double today, since it’s a holiday weekend and most folks are off tomorrow. But a regular ten usually takes about three to four hours. However, today that ran to five hours and I’m just kind of done. Thankfully, they were long rides, but since I had an idea of how my day would go – drive, home to exercise, second shower, eat and then drive some more – and that went off the rails, I decided to call it at 8 o’clock and catch a beer at my local, since they are closed tomorrow.

I walked in and there were two parties waiting for tables, no surprise. There were five stools at one of the corners of the bar – two on one side and three on the other – so I walked in and casually placed my order before my butt hit the stool.

I’d chosen the stool closest to the walk-through into the bar area, which was on the three stool side. My beer lands in front of me, I grind some salt onto my napkin/coaster to keep it from sticking to my glass as take a therapeutic lil sippy-sip.

Immediately, my bladder whispers “Hey, remember me?”, so I anon to the can to decant.

I return to find one of the waiting couples has wised up and decided to eat at the bar versus waiting for a table to open up.

Geniuses. Genii? I dunno, let’s go with geniuses.

Not so smart, mind you, that they’d each taken a seat on the corner so they can look at each other without craning their necks, as the Silver Fox and I do. Also, not so considerate that they sat on the two-stool side.

Yup…they chose to sit right fucking next to me. Now, because of COVID, they pulled the stools away from mine, so partial credit, but…still! You know what’s further away than pulling your stool away from mine? Sitting at the other two damn barstools!

People…<facepalm>

To make this perfectly horrible, the woman decided on the fish tacos, which I find particularly – and poorly – fragrant. Ugh.

I would like to assert that misophonia is contagious and mine has spread from my ears to my nose. The smell of these fucking tacos makes me mad. I suggested to the owner that he raise the price to steer people toward other menu items. Surprisingly, he didn’t agree with my logic.

Now, for the short observation behind this post.

Have you ever noticed the inverse nature of the relationships people have with their horn and their turn signal?

Seriously, I swear it’s a thing – and this is coming from a native Portlander, a city frequently called out for its bad drivers.

When someone wants to switch lanes, you can count on at least one tire to be in your lane before their turn signal is even activated. They’re changing lanes before signaling their intent…almost as if no one taught them the proper order. Let alone the entire process, teaching them to check their blind spots and then signal their intent before changing lanes.

<blink>

That’s right, then it’s literally one blink. I liken that to a civilized one-finger salute.

Conversely, let’s say you’re driving along and inadvertently make an error. Not letting someone zipper in on a merge lane, stopping too fast for a pedestrian…whatever, nothing life or death is what I’m saying.

Oooh, let the horn leaning begin!

These people, these fine, upstanding folk that will retroactively inform you of their intent to change lanes will honk like it’s literally a life or death situation.

What gives?

How can people who are so blithe about their responsibility to others be so egregiously offended when the same happens to them?!?

I ask here, because I assume it’s a safe space. At least a physically safe space. I know the interwebs can be a mentally abusive space.

This, by the way, comes from the guy who was menaced on the freeway today as he watched a motorcycle rider zig-zag in and out of traffic in his rear view mirror for about a half mile. Then he whipped right around me in a matter of seconds. As he passed, I saw his holstered handgun sticking out from under his jacket.

I guess when you drive like a jackass, you need some kind of backup. God bless the Second Amendment…

People

Compassionate Yoga

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:

Case 1:

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.

Case 2:

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…

Case 3:

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?

Compassionate Yoga

Uplift

One of the running themes I try to include in my novels is helping others out. Whether it’s direct or emotional assistance, I think that’s important in a society.

Its absence from Gay Kulture is one of my biggest pet peeves about my community. I shorthand that by saying that “there’s no unity in the gay community”.

But that’s another blog.

Last night, I got to see a version of this in play in real life and it made me so happy. And I didn’t even have to leave my block!

I had wandered into the restaurant next door for dinner. I was celebrating completing back-to-back challenge weeks – which equated to two weeks of 135 rides in about 50 hours. For context, a more normal week for me is 40-50 rides in about 20 hours.

Ow, my ass.

I knew from the owner that one of original kitchen staff was returning as of last Friday. I didn’t know that one of the servers was going to be taking over Sunday and Monday bartending duties from the owner starting last night, though.

That was a nice surprise. Apparently, he’d expressed an interest in bartending during his interview and business and timing worked out.

But on top of that, when my friend made it out of the kitchen to say hi, I learned that she’d been hired as a chef and not just as part of the line like she’d been before. She was glowing with pride at that accomplishment.

I left the restaurant with a belly full of good food and drink and a heart full for the professional development this restauranteur has been able to create for two nice humans. So, tonight – to keep up my end of the whole “living in a society” deal – I had to take a moment to pull the owner aside and tell him how satisfying it is to see someone providing true opportunities for people. I think part of my ability to see that comes from the reality that during my retail career, leadership tended to punish people for being effective by not promoting them. Much easier to hire and train one person from the outside versus having two people new to their roles at the same time, right? So selfish.

Funny how I couldn’t sit in my driver’s seat any longer yesterday, but my ass handled a barstool just fine…

Uplift

Update: People Still Dumb

My recent temp assignment ended last Friday. I wasn’t sad about it. Originally, my wrangler told me it was a four week, 9:30-5, Monday-Friday thing.

He knows how I feel about this.

But, having not been on assignment for 16 months, I took it, despite not wanting to commit full-time to anything. My rationale was twofold: first, it’ll change up my pandemic imposed only-driving schtick; and, as an added bonus might serve to get me a future assignment.

Work is about relationships.

Anyway, it turned out that this business was BiPOC and woman-owned, so I felt even better for taking the plunge. Despite the fact that the owner referred to it on day one as a six week assignment.

Once again, sticking it out played into my favor, because after the scope was explained to me – entering eight months of payroll data into QuickBooks – and I was up and running, it seemed like a fine way to go blind pass some time. Once I knew what I was doing, I even asked the owner how many pay periods she reasonably thought I should be able to get through in a day. She replied that two seemed about right…and I figured that I could do two pay periods in about six hours, so suddenly things were looking rather part-time for your favorite grumpopatomus.

Even better was the math suggesting that I’d be done in two week’s time at that pace!

Fear not…it was an interesting two weeks.

I’d drive a little on my way to the office, arriving at 10, well ahead of the owner each of the three times I saw her. Then I’d give a few rides on the way home so I arrived after paid street parking hours – I’m crafty like that. Really, I felt like I was having the best of both worlds, so I was content.

Until…because there’s always another shoe, right?

Oregon lifted nearly all restrictions just before the Fourth of July. The result was that if you weren’t certain where you were, you might think you were in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras.

Seriously, people were out in such numbers that they were packed to overflowing on the sidewalks. There were some corners where cars had to drive single file through a four lane intersection simply to avoid striking someone.

Because, somehow that would be the driver’s fault.

Anyway, I got a call on one such weekend night here in the Alphabet District to pick someone up a few blocks from my home. The pickup was on 14th at Hoyt, about two blocks from where a freeway exit dumps off about a quarter of the traffic of people coming downtown to party on weekends.

Of course these idiots take their full five minute wait time (and then some) to get down onto the street and into my car. Because when you’re getting picked up on a two lane road that close to a freeway off ramp, why would you concern yourself with minor details like how your lack of readiness impacts dozens of other people while your driver is double-parked in that five minute window?

Speaking of details, the app warns people of the company policy to protect its passengers and drivers – specifically, no one sits in the front seat and everyone wears masks. It pops up every damn time you book a ride.

Twice

Naturally, these considerate people are on a double date and ask if one of them can sit in the front. Since I was already done for the night and so close to home, I figured “Why not?”

I could be the cool mom.

Plus, I’d seen that they were only going to 9th and Couch, so it was going to be a quick ride…four blocks over and five blocks down. They quite probably could have walked there in the amount of time it took me to drive to them. Probably they could have even walked there in the six minutes I ended up waiting for them.

Naturally, once these inconsiderate idiots had piled in and we were underway, I saw that none of them had put on masks. After mentioning it, their leader said he didn’t know that was still a thing – and that they were all vaccinated.

I mentioned the above opportunities for him to have realized that it was, in fact, still a thing. Adding in that vaccinated or not, the safeguards were put in place to protect everyone, not just their privileged asses. But not wanting to harsh their mellow, I mentioned sometimes people miss things, like I had when it took two minutes for me to realize they weren’t wearing masks – while I was also driving.

This snot-nosed little shithead suggested that maybe my app needed updating.

Yeah, because this is my main source of income.

Sure

I was telling him that I was just being polite earlier and what a dumbass he must be for missing two reminders of the policies when we pulled up to the club and the line was around two corners of the block.

Two!

“Have fun!” I yelled as they slammed their car doors. I fully suspect they walked right up to the club entrance, pretending they didn’t notice the line.

Idiots.

Sharing this story with the only person I regularly saw at my temp assignment, I got a lil TMI that turned my amused rage into stunned discomfort. This person was the company admin, a real Jane of all trades.

She mentioned never knowing who was vaccinated and who wasn’t – which gave me an opportunity to praise the diligence with which she managed the temperature log for visitors and also tell her I’d overheard her coworker mention to her that her mother had been on her to get her vaccination done.

Thin walls, small office.

This is where the overshare came in.

I learned that the office manager – who I’d never met – was out for two weeks, isolating after her daughter was contacted about a COVID close call. And that she was also not vaccinated.

Then, this woman whose company I had enjoyed in the office during my assignment volunteers that she also is not vaccinated. That’s three of the six other people in the office. The remainders, I didn’t know whether they were or weren’t, but was surprised to realized that I’d just assumed they were.

Like a fool.

I check in to see if she knew that the black community was disproportionately affected by COVID – and she admits that yes, she knows.

I ask if there’s more truth to the distrust that blacks are reported to have of medical science than I’d given it. While she affirmed that those reports of distrust were true, that wasn’t why she hadn’t gotten her vaccination.

She somehow felt it was important to share that in addition to being late 50s and overweight, she also has diabetes and asthma.

I ran out of fingers to tally her co-morbidities on.

“I prayed about it real hard”, she said earnestly. “I figure if Jesus wants me to get the shot, he’ll put it on my heart and I just haven’t felt that.”

Ok, what the fuck.

You don’t trust doctors because they are exceedingly not black…but the old whitey who lives in the clouds is your trusted authority?

I can see the death certificate now. Cause of Death: FAITH.

It was all I could do to not say what I was thinking…I hope Jesus puts that vaccine on your heart before Mother Nature puts COVID on your lungs.

The next week, the owner calls out sick two days in a row and takes a COVID test the third day. It’s embarrassing how permissive people are when it comes to letting themselves look like fools.

Update: People Still Dumb

Bright Side

I’m on my way to work. Taking the bus for free, no less, since TriMet has been running fareless July 3-5 in recognition of the Fourth of July holiday.

Wait…on your way to work, you say? I thought you were driving for Lyft.

Hold up…on the bus, you might wonder? You have Angela!

Yes, yes…these are all good observations and reasonable questions.

Short answers: Angela is currently parked at Les Schwab awaiting either a patch (🤞🏽🤞🏽🤞🏽) after picking up a screw – complete with washer – in her front driver’s side tire. I’d planned on a new set of wheels later this month, so hopefully I can get the patch versus dropping $1000-1300 a few weeks earlier than planned.

As for the “work” thing…yes, I’m still driving for Lyft and still largely loving it – despite the recent challenges of providing rides for Portlanders and her visitors in a newly fully opened city. However, when I left professional work three years ago and discovered the freedom of a mixed earning lifestyle, I had several income levers in my wheelhouse – one of which was being a Payroll and HR temp. Well, I finally booked a post-pandemic gig and that’s the job I’m heading into now.

Grateful for the free ride Trimet is providing today – especially since Les Schwab is closed today in observance of the holiday so there was no way to fix Angela up this morning. Hopefully, the patch plan prevails and I can drive myself to work tomorrow morning. Otherwise, I’ll be back on this urban limo for a paid ride.

Can you believe that was the short answer?

Here’s a little more context.

This temp job was billed to me by my agency as a four week gig, 9:30-5, Monday through Friday. More full-time than I wanted, but for only four weeks, I figured it would get me in good graces with the folks at Robert Half.

Of course, I show up and the owner is talking six weeks of work that needs to be complete by mid-July. That math worked out to a three and a half week gig. I didn’t panic, though, and after learning the scope of work and getting comfortable with the process, I should be finished by next Tuesday…I’m awesome like that. Naturally, the owner is already talking about stuff I can help her with that is also shit their actual Payroll Manager should be doing. Friday, she dropped a telephone sized stack of garnishments on my desk and asked me to get them entered into our system. I figure that if they are that far behind, they can wait another week until I finish my current task.

Then, maybe I’ll stick around to do them.

That maybe is due to another “of course” or “naturally” reality that I figure only exists because this is me we’re talking about. The Monday after I started this gig, Lyft dropped a bonus week…one of the good ones that I usually make close to $3k during.

I really wanted to participate! Especially since that’s about twice what I make driving less than part time in a week…which is still nearly double what I’ll make in a week of full-time temping.

“Quit” – the Silver Fox

I was definitely tempted. But my word is my bond, right? Plus, I wanted to remain in good standing with my agency, so…

The reality of my first film week on this assignment is that I can accomplish the pace of work that is expected of me in about six hours a day. That leaves plenty of time in the day for some driving.

Except, the amount of rides to earn the weekly bonus that was being offered is 114 or 135 to reach the max earnings. That max threshold equates to about 45-50 hours of driving.

Was I up for an 80 hour work week?!?

I goaled it all out and set a plan. Sadly, the plan was just to hit the minimum bonus, but I was still eager to see if I could accomplish it. The plan also included a night off from driving, but by Wednesday I was already a few rides behind, so I drove. That resulted in me being back on track, with a glimmer of hope for maxing out the bonus.

But the Silver Fox came back to town. Not that he isn’t 1000% supportive of my earning time and goals, but I wanted to spend time with my friend, so I was willing to trade that for only earning the minimum bonus.

Totally a fair trade!

So I paced myself accordingly, and enjoyed The Fox’s company while I could.

Sunday, I had only eight rides to complete to make my goal and grab that bonus cash! That was after driving a little longer than anticipated Saturday night because individual and very lucrative ride bonuses kept dropping as other drivers retired for the night.

Nothing wrong with that $45 ride at 2:50 AM!

I got home at 4 AM.

I was back on the road at 2 PM with a goal of being wrapped up and bellied up by 5:30 with The Fox.

Then I picked up that screw in east Portland on my third ride. I limped home and soothed myself with the notion of A) good effort, and B) I still got beer with the Silver Fox.

No bonus, though. I admit, I was pretty pissed.

Really pissed.

I wasn’t keen on dropping money I’d earmarked for my savings plan on tires. I set a goal to save $30k toward a down payment on a new condo by the time my lease comes up for renewal next March. Saving early to max out interest and investment gains is key to succeeding. That’s what stung the most in missing my goal and facing an expense sooner than I’d like. I’d been couching potential failure with the notion that our soft condo market could rebound by the time next March rolls around.

This curveball surprised me.

But you know the saying: if you want to make god laugh, make a plan.

That’s why I’m clinging to a free bus ride as a bright side. It’s all I got this weekend!

Bright Side

Sing What, Now?

I’ve always been amused at the way my mind will fill in the blanks with song lyrics. Understandably so, since musicians are not always the easiest folks to <ahem> understand.

Bob Dylan, anyone?

The Boss is no slouch, either, when it comes to swallowing a lyric.

Contemporary music doesn’t get a pass, either. Pick a rapper…any rapper. The fuck they sayin’?!?

So my mind gets caught up in the music, catches a few words here or there and fills in what I miss just to keep the vibe going and amuse myself in the process. And I’m not alone.

While Sacha and I were together, we took a weekend trip to Friday Harbor up in the San Juans for a colleague’s wedding. While we were there, we visited the local shops to enjoy the town between wedding events.

One of these shops was a ma & pa bookshop in what I think was a converted house. I could be remembering that wrong, but I do remember an upstairs and lots of books and crannies crammed with bookshelves.

It was in one of those upstairs nooks, with a window overlooking the harbor, that I found a book of musical malaprop. Hilarity ensued. It’s an enduring memory of my time with Sacha.

My favorite entry from that book?

Big Old Chet Had A Rhino

No, it’s not a folk song about an American expat in Africa, saving endangered species. It’s actually a song by The Steve Miller Band:

And it’s actually a song called Jet Airliner. The misunderstood lyric?

🎼🎼Oh…big, old jet airliner, don’t carry my too far away. Oooh-oh-oh…big, old jet airliner, cuz it’s here that I’ve got to stay.🎼🎼

Somehow this prompted Sacha to share a lyric that – if I recall correctly – he’d figured out, despite all of his friends misunderstanding it. Ironically, it happened to be a song by one of my personal favorites:

Voices Carry

It’s an album that got me through high school after my family moved halfway across the country. Suffice to say, I knew the lyrics front and back.

They were not the lyrics he knew, though. He’d have bet his eye teeth that the lyric was 🎼🎼Hush, hush even downtown voices carry🎼🎼.

Like that makes any sense. I mean, I guess it does – just not in the context of the song. I, on the other hand, knew that this was a song about a controlling and possibly abusive significant others.

🎼Hush, hush…keep it down, now…voices carry🎼🎼

Her boyfriend would abuse her and when she’d cry out, he’d add insult to injury by shushing her. He stripped her of not only her power as a woman, but also of her voice by insisting she keep quiet about what she endured.

Kind of an irony, given Sacha’s tendencies to keep me from mentioning him in my blog – masked identity or not. Two decades later, he’s still telling me to keep it down.

Putz.

On the other hand, I have my own moments of musical malaprop. And they amuse the heck out of me. Even when I think I’ve got it, I find out…I don’t got it.

Sometimes that’s a slow process. Last Friday, I was out doing my Friday night drive shift. I love driving Friday nights, I’ve no desire to pack my old ass into a crowded bar, so it’s a good alternative. I get people with lives plans to and from, experiencing a vicarious thrill in the process.

I also get to listen to my favorite radio show on my favorite station here in Portland, KINK. The program is four hours of 80s and 90s music from 8:00 to midnight, called Party Out Of Bounds – riffing on a line from a B-52s song. It’s honestly – no disrespect to my regular thing with Bubble Boy 2.0 – my favorite night of the week…because I have an emotional connection to the music, not so much with Bubble Boy. Well, ok, I have a connection…I’m not a sociopath. He, on the other hand, merely has an erection – and a figurative itch he can’t scratch on his own.

Even though it occasionally serves up a little personal schadenfreude…as it did the other night, it’s a rather pleasant way to spend an evening. Again, no disrespect to Bubble Boy.

Lump

Ever heard of a band called Presidents of the United States of America? They might be the best underrated band ever, or they might be a one album wonder. Who knows?

What I did know, though, was that it started out – as did I, at the top of my lungs – 🎼🎼Love sat alone in a boggy marsh🎼🎼

So imagine my chagrin to be driving along, alone between rides the other night and chancing to glance at my dash display to see this song wasn’t called “Love” as I had thought for too many decades…but “Lump”.

Ok, that’s just fucking nonsense. Made me want to switch to a rap station, where I wouldn’t understand a damn word and wouldn’t have cared. I was rocked to my 80s and 90s music fanatical core.

Alas…the prophet Google reinforced my musical ignorance.

Ok, my moment of idiocy was cushioned by the reality that the lyrics were utter drivel.

Seriously, though…sub “love” in for “lump” and there’s one line that’s weird. But as is, it’s all weird and I may never enjoy this song again without being seriously stoned.

I’ll stick with belting out 🎼🎼Is this love out of my head? I think so!🎼🎼 whenever I encounter this song – and let’s face it, every Friday night is a safe bet – versus replacing my superior, albeit incorrect, lyrics with that rock ‘n roll nonsense! If that makes me the musical equivalent of a Trumptard, so be it…

Time for you to play along at home…what are your musical malaprop secrets? Leave me some amusement in the comments!

Sing What, Now?

Pride Kickoff

Not that I – through my extensive observational research into the matter – find any significant reason to celebrate Pride, but I will chalk yesterday’s accomplishments up to just that.

For the chuckles.

And the rare opportunity to claim a butch bone in my body. Don’t get it twisted, Diezel…keep your thoughts G-rated adjacent.

You see, Angela has been giving me a “driver’s headlight malfunction” warning for months now. Actually, since my front tires crossed from my mechanic’s driveway into the street from having my passenger side headlight replaced. Having looked at it upon arriving home, I saw that both bulbs worked just fine, so…I proChristinated it.

Until, that is, a passenger got in my car and said, “You know your headlight is out, right?” But, since it was daytime, I assumed that indicated it was my running light, not my headlight and shrugged it off. Later that night, I checked my actual headlight again and all was well.

But it was a little hard to see, so I had a niggling concern. Then again, there’s an abundance of trees to obscure streetlights here in town and on top of that, plenty of cloud cover to block out any moonlight…so maybe it was less my headlight and more situational shituations.

I’m no fool, though. Well, no run of the mill fool, like certain <cough, cough> Trumptard-like <cough> people.

After gathering a quarter’s worth of strictly non-scientific data on the topic, I decided to replace my driver’s side headlight. Also, I kept seeing this reflected back in the bumper of cars ahead of me…

Eventually, I decided it was unlikely that this phenomenon was strictly coincidence based on car positions, rough road, etc. So yesterday, I wandered into my local auto parts <shudder> store. I’d looked up the part I needed online and they allegedly had it in stock. Further, I had watched a couple How To videos on the YouTube – the first was an overly complex passenger side replacement video that involved removing a windshield wiper fluid reservoir, and having never popped my hood myself, I wasn’t doing that! But the second video made the driver’s side replacement look ridiculously easy. So I stopped in and picked up the replacement bulb. There were three options because, I’m assuming, fuck everything and everyone. But after talking to the local associate, I felt like I understood why there were three options. Still, me being a decidedly milquetoast ninny when it comes to mechanical shiz, I bought the most expensive option…just to be safe.

Then I changed it in the parking lot, just in case my own mechanical ineptitude required me to either go into full Karen mode to offset my incompetence or just return the bulb when it proved the slightest bit different than the videos on the YouTubes.

I’d like to say everything proceeded apace. Alas…

I’ll be convalescing in the desert. Or the Gay Kulture Desert commonly referred to as “Portland”, at any rate. I’m saving the actual desert for my imminent betting-pool-defying Betty Ford stint.

So for $28, a little gumption and a scratch, I fixed a problem that previously cost me $70 to fix. That’s a good way to start Pride month: defying stereotypes and all.

Mind you, while driving last night, I realized the importance of proper headlight alignment. Every time I caught a reflection or my headlights tracked across an inanimate object, I go strong vibes, reminiscent of this meme…

Plus, my dashboard idiot light didn’t clear automatically, so I feel like there’s a “Hey, can you check…?” moment coming with my mechanic on my next visit to the garage that will somehow add $500 to the oil change I’m having done when he realizes I attempted to operate equipment I was not checked out on. <sigh>

But I tried! And as my fake southern grandmother always said, “Nothing beats a fail but a try”!

Pride Kickoff

Pro*Chris*tination

You know the old saying, right?

Hard work pays off in the future…procrastination pays off today!

Well, in my universe, occasionally there’s a psychotic eclipse type thing. Then both parts are true!

Case in point: I’ve needed new wiper blades since our February snow storm. Not much to bitch about, considering Texas. Heck, even my 99 year old grandfather was alone and without electricity just across town for three days! (Yes, dad insisted he go to a hotel, but since my grandfather isn’t about to take orders from some punk 75 year old…🤷🏽‍♂️)

So, yeah. My wiper blades getting gouged by ice and leaving streaks smack dab in my field of vision didn’t really merit a mention. I checked our local big box grocery for replacements, but it was $30 for the pair! After converting that from dollars to beers, I walked away.

Then I found myself at an oil change and figured I might as well get it done. They were out.

Fine!

But every time it sprinkled, there was a visual reminder of my overdue task. Usually accompanied by an audible screech from the blades skipping across the windshield.

Luckily – for me not future generations – this past April brought not showers as we learnt in nursery rhymes as children. As a matter of fact, Portland’s April was the driest on record…by one-third. We had only a half inch of rain versus the prior low record of three quarters of an inch.

No, that isn’t an invitation to book travel to PDX. You keep your germs local.

May was pretty much the same story. Low, but not a record low like April.

Until this week.

Frankly, I was happy to see rain in the forecast. At the same time, I figured I oughta get my act together, butch it up and get the deed done.

For safety.

I made the Silver Fox – yes, he finally put in a leisurely visit! – take me when we went to coffee the other day. Lo’ and behold…

On sale, you say?

40% off, no less?!?

Don’t get too excited, though. They are proving tougher than my fingertips and are still awaiting installation from the front passenger footwell.

Tomorrow’s another day, Slugger.

Next up, returning Angela to her chancellor-esque stature from the Lisa Left Eye Lopez situation some ne’er do well left her in a few weeks back.

It’s tough to see, but scroll down. After the curious incident of the fog light poking out of the bumper, The Fox ceded his parking spot to me until his return to city slickering. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather it was sooner than later, but poor Angela! Just look what those philistines did to her!

Buncha bastards. Luckily, I’ve got friends like the Silver Fox to provide refuge and Diezel, who looks at it and says, “I can fix that” like the “in my sleep” doesn’t even need to be mentioned. Nor does the “you limp wristed ninny”.

Those are good friends to have in your corner.

Pro*Chris*tination