I Got Work To Do

Clearly.

One of my favorite things about the civil unrest America is experiencing recently is that it’s inclusive. I think that’s part of what has created the longevity in what we’re seeing with the protests.

George Floyd’s murder wasn’t any more or less representative of the problems in our country – regardless of whether it’s *just* police brutality, something larger like systemic racism or more overt like flat out bigotry – than Breonna Taylor’s.

Or Trayvon Martin’s.

Or any of the many trans POC that have been murdered over the past decades.

Early on, I was critical of muddying the message with unnecessary or unclear hyperbole. As the weeks have gone on, the messaging I’m seeing has evolved away from that, which is gratifying.

I do like a clear message.

But we’re also being presented with messages that don’t exclude people who don’t, won’t or can’t march. Sure, there have been some slips on that unity and inclusivity messaging, but from my perspective, it seems like they are simple gaffes versus an intentional exclusive focus. In my Social Media scrollings, I’m given daily reminders and suggestions of ways to support protests without marching:

Donating to organizations.

Making signs or masks for protesters.

Donating first aid supplies or water – or staffing a booth where they are available.

Things to read to further your understanding.

Conversations to have.

Providing legal aid, if you are a lawyer.

Donating. Because it can be said twice.

Personally, I’m focusing my Lyft shifts around times and areas where protests are occurring. There’s nights where I ferry people along the same five mile stretch for several consecutive trips. Frankly, being able to thank them and encourage them getting out to march makes us both feel good. Plus, hearing them complain about sore feet and tired bodies allows me to remind them that it’s only temporary and thank them again.

It’s nice. And I love hearing the stories of the sense of connection there is amongst the protesters.

I think that sense of community and connection is what has allowed the activists to sustain their momentum this time around. Outlasting the effort that the bad elements in their midst were willing to contribute.

Not hearing about the use of police force or property damage over this past week has been a welcome change. It allows the media to keep the true message of the protests front and center in the public’s mindset versus burnt and broken things derailing the focus.

And then there’s my personal favorite way to show support – supporting Black owned businesses and restaurants.

And this is where I have some work to do – why I feel behind. I got this email from Yelp the other day

It’s like many that I have seen on Instagram and the Facebook. Reminders or highlights that I appreciate. And free promotion for the businesses, which I love!

But then I looked at the list – mainly for places close by that I should try or go back to.

Something occurred to me.

Of the 50 Black owned businesses listed, only one was “in my area”. A reminder of how Portland truly lacks in diversity overall. Also, though, how cost prohibitive commercial real estate is in the core of the city, making it a near certainty that DBEs will remain pushed out.

Maybe with all of the non-Disadvantaged Business Entities folding in the days of COVID, we’ll see a re-thinking of those rental rates.

Maybe.

What also shocked me in reviewing the list was that I’d been to one. Just the one nearby. As much as I eat, you’d think I would have happened into a few of these places at least accidentally, but…no.

Sure, there were two that I follow on Instagram and always intended to go to. But you can’t take intent to the bank.

So there’s the work I need to do: eat out.

Just like we can vote with our dollars, we can support with them, too.

Now, before I finish knitting my selfish, racist bastard sweater out of flammable yarn I should say that Yelp’s list of 50 is hardly – thankfully – exhaustive. I’ve seen other businesses listed elsewhere and I’ve been to some that weren’t listed at all.

That’s fine. I give credit for effort and someone at Yelp did something, which is better than nothing.

But back to Portland’s lack of diversity for a second and how I can change my behaviors to support equality myself. This odd fact came up in conversation the other day – I want to tell you about Portland’s best BBQ.

It’s great. Really, really great.

Really.

And it’s owned by a fucking white guy.

Surprised?

In retrospect, I was – and not to sound racist, but c’mon…BBQ is kind of half the game with Black cuisine, right? Soul food and BBQ are top of mind when you think of a Black owned restaurant, aren’t they?

Maybe it’s just me. I doubt it dunno.

But when I set out for BBQ, do I need to go to the one that some newspaper food critic called the best? Is that maybe just another example of systemic racism?

How many Black food critics can you think of?

Zero is how many I can think of. Given the departure of Adam Rappaport from Bon Appetit last week for leading and perpetuating an exclusive culture at that particular food magazine, I’d say I’m both not alone and correct about the pervasiveness of systemic racism in yet another facet of American culture.

So, do I need to limit my BBQ options to what someone labeled “the best”?

Nah.

And I think it’s an example of a small behavioral change that would have a larger cultural impact.

Changing who or how we support business spreads the wealth. That sharing of resources allows the small Black owned businesses to create their own change independently. Whether that manifests as hiring more people into their business, opening and sustaining a new location in a less diverse part of town or just being able to care for their family on a different level…it matters. Hey, not all changes toward racial equity have to reinvent a wheel.

And at the end of the day, my belly is still full, so everyone wins.

I Got Work To Do

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

Grounded.

As much as I like saying that Portland’s unofficial forecast is “cloudy, with a chance of protests”, I have to admit that the last 36 hours have caught me off guard.

The city was effectively sent to its room last night beginning at 8 PM via a curfew order from the Mayor. This was in response to rioters coat-tailing on a vigil for George Floyd in one of North Portland’s parks on Friday afternoon. I was actually driving that day and ended up taking three groups over and taking two home on return trips.

The traffic was a nightmare.

In retrospect, I should have seen the riots coming since I actually said the words “What kind of vigil breaks up before the candles come out at dusk?” as I dropped of my last riders. People were leaving, yet others were still en route to gather.

Maybe I was distracted at the welcome home I got when I pulled up to my building around 9:30. Once again, two of the five park blocks I live on were cordoned off and surrounded by police cruisers with their lights flashing.

Just so you know the proximity here, the park blocks run as follows:

Burnside – Couch (pronounce it right in your mind, we’ve talked about this…Cooch)

Couch – Davis

Davis – Everett

Everett – Flanders

Flanders – Glisan

I live in the Everett to Flanders block and the police had cordoned off half of my front yard as well as the entirety of the Flanders to Glisan block. They had also closed off Flanders from Park Ave (my street) up to Broadway, two blocks ahead.

I asked a dog walking neighbor what was up and he said there had been a shooting.

Weird. Remember when Portland was Stabby and not shooty?

Maybe that was inappropriate, so I followed it up with asking about the victim. Apparently, hit in the chest, but expected to survive.

Nonetheless, my mental abacus was not adding things up.

Until.

Later that night, around 10 PM when I tuned into the Instagram and saw march videos on my friends’ stories. It looked like they were downtown, which is in the Southwest quadrant of town.

For context, I live in the Northwest quadrant and the vigil was in the North quadrant.

Sidebar: We just added a sixth quadrant, South Portland. Because Portland is weird and when the root of the word is Latin-ish for “four”, we’re gonna have six, dammit.

I’m not sure why I was surprised by this. Not only are we a town of liberal activism, but we are also a town of traveling and escalating protests. What starts as a vigil in one quadrant traveled through town and escalated into a protest and eventually a riot – and its not atypical for a freeway to be blocked by protesters marching across or down it, either. And the further they march, the more destructive the protest gets.

It’s like I forgot Portland’s other nickname: Little Beirut.

Sure enough, the rioters in Southwest broke into and burned the Justice Center. Well, started a fire at, at any rate. It was a big building on Friday morning and when I walked by it Saturday morning…still a big building. It’s not like it burned to the ground.

Here’s what caught me off guard, though: usually I witness the escalation. Living where I do, well…I’m centrally located. Even to the occasional chaos.

Maybe it’s because my county – Multnomah – is the only one in the state that is not yet in phase one of the reopening plan (which I’m happy about). In non-lockdown situations, this is the time of year is normally be sitting at a sidewalk cafe enjoying an adult beverage with one of the Foxes Silver or Filipina. Such as it is, no restaurants or bars are presently open for sidewalk socializing.

I woke up Saturday morning to scattered stories – both news and Insta – of the destruction in Southwest Portland. Not only had the Justice Center been burned. Several jewelry stores and store fronts (Louis Vuitton and Apple among them) had had their windows broken out and been looted.

There were pictures of smashed iPads and empty velvet bracelet displays on the streets and sidewalks of downtown.

And social media was melting down.

All while protests continued throughout the morning and afternoon in Southwest.

I watched the shameful debacle from my couch – taking a break for a little juxtaposed National Pride moment to watch the SpaceX launch. But the thing that kept popping into my head (and the reason I called these protests a debacle) was, “This isn’t working”.

This. Isn’t. Working.

One young e-quaintance posted this to his story, he’d been downtown at the protests and took some video, surprised that cops were firing tear gas and – what he thought – bullets into the crowd. In his video, I could hear him shrieking “They started this. The cops started this!”

His last story was from his car, filming cops walk by in his drivers side rear view mirror, saying he wasn’t close enough to see if the shots he heard were bullets or not. Mind you, he was close enough to see the cops allegedly smiling and laughing through their riot gear.

I asked him…well, I’ll just show you

See how I have to apologize at the end for pointing out logic? Peaceful protests are our right, guaranteed by the Constitution. But in order to protect citizens from being victimized by one another exercising their First Amendment rights, cities across the country have enacted laws requiring protests to have permits in order to be deemed legal.

In other words, no one person or group’s right supersedes or negates any one else’s.

An interesting point to overlook, given this protest was being conducted under the auspices of one individual being deprived his right to life and an entire race being denied their right to equality and the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

He – dammit, they…they are trans – didn’t respond. You can see that they read the message.

Crickets.

It’s telling to see someone, especially a trans person – one of the presently most vocal groups on the subject – protesting privilege and lowering themselves into the melee of “Fuck the Police” and then going silent when pushed for details.

Oh, you don’t know if the protest you participated in was legal or not? But you still jumped on the bandwagon of bashing the authorities when they did their job and broke your protest up? <bloop> Privilege.

I should note, ACAB is shorthand for “All Cops Are Bastards”. You will also see it coded into 1312, which was not only the unit number of my condo in Seattle, but also the alphabetically numeric equivalent of ACAB. Sometimes people actually have the balks to post (spray paint) their message to a broad audience instead of just speaking their coded lingo to rile up their own little subversive slice of the population by saying “Fuck the Police”. It’s not a blanket statement I endorse. Which isn’t unusual for me. I typically resist generalizations.

Elsewhere on social media, another guy I know posted an nifty little blurb about the history of riots.

The Boston Tea Party.

The Stamp Riots.

Stonewall.

One that I didn’t know about that led to the creation of the District of Columbia. I thought that was interesting.

“Riots work” was his point.

It was impressively put together to illustrate his point. Yay, facts.

Yet I couldn’t help but notice that none of the examples he posted were race riots.

Selma, Alabama? Not a part of his argument.

Nothing on the Watts riots from the 60s.

OJ’s LA riots in the 90s? Nope.

More recently, St Louis or Charleston? Absent.

This. Isn’t. Working.

Me, being me, I jumped into the comment thread. I actually said that I agree with the right to protest and demonstrate. However, in a time where the 24-hour news cycle is a thing and our population is dense enough – not to mention our seat of government being conveniently located on the same continent and not weeks away by boat – that maybe such extreme methods such as massive scale property destruction are no longer effective at communicating one’s message.

Perhaps, I posited, destructive riots no longer effect change as they once did, so much as they empower disenfranchised fringe populations with the opportunity to therapeutically retaliate for their impotence. Wasn’t one of these disenfranchised populations responsible for the results of the 2016 elections? Trump whipped the uneducated and (latent and overt) racist elements of our country up – enabling them by giving voice to their shamefully harbored secrets – to protest vote versus sitting the vote out in their collective powerlessness while progressives and liberals sat the vote out in protest because their candidate didn’t get the nomination.

So we protested.

Again.

Then, we rioted.

Again.

Then…nothing changed.

Again.

Maybe, my point is, if the most effective examples of riots leading to change are from a century or almost three ago, that should tell us something.

Maybe if the most current example you have of an effective riot is 50 years ago and still not 100% resolved, “effective” isn’t an accurate description.

Maybe if you have to disregard the most pertinent examples of recent riots because change has not been affected then you need to ask if riots are, indeed, actually effective.

Maybe, in a population as dense as ours – both definitions of the word being applicable – a vigil or peaceful protest is just a clarion call to those same disenfranchised folk Trump whipped up during his campaign to come out and play.

So my point to my friend was, maybe we need to find a way to change how our message is communicated. For the effort of asking a question, I was rewarded with this response from a stranger – no context, just this

Yes, thank you for posting the point I said I understood – in meme form. Fucking Android users.

My point had been whether these lather, rinse, repeat protests were actually meeting our demand to be recognized.

I think not so much anymore.

Why?

Well, because capitalism will just make more of whatever is destroyed. All rioting and looting seems to be doing any more is heightening demand to produce more.

How is that effective?

Job creation?

We can quote him, name streets after him all over the country and observe his birthday as a national holiday; but if we don’t understand the meaning behind his words have we actually heard Doctor King’s words? Let alone…learned from them.

I took a public speaking course a while back – sometime between present day and MLK’s assassination – and I learned something interesting.

It stuck with me.

Basically, the point of the lesson was that it’s a speaker’s responsibility to present their message in a manner in which it will be received. That served me well as a manager of people. Whether it was a group setting or one-on-one communication, if I wanted people to listen, I had to talk to them. If I only wanted them to hear me, then it didn’t matter what I said or how I said it, because hearing and listening are two different things.

I can hear the news and police helicopters buzzing around outside my home. They were there at 11 PM last night, they are there now.

I hear them.

But I’m not listening to them. I don’t like what they are telling me. As much a fact, I’m actively trying to tune them out.

That’s what I think protesters need to ask themselves.

Who is listening to your message? Right now, it seems the people in power are at worst actively trying to tune you out and at best, trying to undo the collateral damage you are doing from the rioters who heard and were enabled by your words.

This is not working.

Grounded.

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…

Does This K Make Me Look Fat?

I’d forgotten about this…achievement with everything else going on.

Maybe that means I’m losing my competitive edge not being around other people. One thing I’ve noticed, having indulged in video chats with family and friends lately – ok, sure…I call them Virtual Happy Hours, but let’s call that Social Distancing Lubrication – is that we have to wait our turn to talk.

Tech limitations being what they are – or maybe my laptop is old – the speaker/microphone tend to be something of a one trick pony. If you’re talking, you can’t hear, so if you want an actual conversation, you have to actually stop and listen.

Bad news for these people who say they can do both, all they’re gonna be “hearing” while they talk over someone else is themselves.

Perhaps that’s truly their deep-seeded happy place. Maybe now is when they’ll realize it. Or maybe they will realize it and come out of this better – actual – conversationalists.

For my part, someone bothers to set up a VHH and then pulls that with me, I’ll turn the screen toward my sink and let them watch me drink wine and wash dishes while they conversationally masturbate.

Now…what was I talking about?

Oh, yes. Competitive edge.

Soon after I started driving with Lyft last summer, I became aware of the fact that Lyft was a sponsor for Portland’s MLS team, the Timbers.

It’s kind of a big deal around here.

I noticed this when they ran a story on their blog about sending a featured driver to the match as a form of recognition. That sounded cool. I have actually never been to a match – they are harder to get into than Elton John’s post-Oscar party and I can easily drink better expensive beer elsewhere, so…<shrug emoji>

But this sounded kinda like just my type of goofy fun.

Then I read the present featured driver had 5000 rides and a 5-star rating.

Ok, well, it seemed like I was gonna be logging a few miles before I got to his level. Plus, I’m aware that I can come off as quite a unit when I get going about something, so wasn’t expecting to maintain a 5-star rating long.

Don’t even talk to me about that 98% Acceptance Rate. Sore subject…

But, now you see the “K” I was referring to in the post title.

It really only took about 7 months, and that’s driving ~25 hours a week. Of course, I should have hit it a couple weeks earlier…thanks, Coronavirus.

An unexpected perk – and another way Lyft builds in recognition in their be-your-own-boss work environment is to award swag when you hit milestones. However, since my swag threshold kinda peaks at “sticker”, I didn’t pay much attention to this accomplishment/reward. My experience is that branded merch is pretty schlocky, so I tune it out.

Not that I was ever a smoker, but remember those jackets you could redeem your “points” for from cigarette brands like Marlboro or Camel? Yeah, that’s the image I have of employer branded clothing.

So, when I checked my PO Box yesterday and found a key to a package locker, I was completely surprised.

Even more surprised at how surprised I was that I forgot something like this.

I don’t know why that would have surprised me at all.

But it was a cute little experience, taking this package home and being surprised again and again and again at the level of care they seemed to put into sending me this little moment of recognition in a fairly anonymous work environment.

Seriously, that’s the inside of the lid. There was a note that was printed in a hand-written font by someone with an easy to make dirty name – think “Mulva” or “Bipple” – so I didn’t put that on blast here. The jacket itself was wrapped in a silver tissue with a 1K sticker holding it closed.

Really, all this for a jacket I won’t wear?”

But the last surprise – ok, second to last – was that I found the damn thing to be not only my style, but tastefully done, too!

Nothing too garish. A current tech fabric style.

Nice.

Oh, and that last surprise?

It fit.

I asked for a Large, aspirationally. I’ll reluctantly admit that I’ve been apathetically resigned to XL lately, and they just do not fit my frame well.

Luckily, iSolation has provided me with no excuses to procrastinate exercise lately, so my Large closet is getting less of a stretch lately, and this fit. Well, the arms are almost too short, which is normal for my gangly assed frame.

So, call this grumpy old man pleasantly surprised.

Plus, Myrt got something out of it, too.

For all those times dinner was late because I was driving…

Now, if I ever get back to driving, I can work on those Timbers tickets!

Does This K Make Me Look Fat?

We Need A Flood

You’d think a little forced iSolation would be just the thing to keep an old grump like me happy. Or at least quiet.

But, no. Even in the end times, I can find something to kvetch about.

Ok, ok…somethings.

At least I had to put more effort into it this time than simply opening the Facebook like the last time I aired out a good ire here on WordPress.

This time, I had to go all the way to Gross Out to write off the chances for humanity.

Hey, I heard there was a wine sale.

I had to get up and go out, anyway. The Silver Fox had snuck back into town to clean out his remaining supplies and thought he’d forgotten a bag on the counter. Turns out, he’d forgotten to pack the bag, which gave us both a good chuckle.

He’d lured me out by innocently mentioning crackers – not knowing I’d been craving them. For my efforts, I Kramer-ed said crackers and tipped myself his pesto.

So, now in addition to wine, I needed some cheese. Don’t worry, mom…I was also out of broccoli and salad kits and had those on my list, too.

As if the disappointment of arriving and seeing no wine sale signs wasn’t enough, the other shoppers were apparently willing to bend over backward to drive my regret home.

It all started out so promising, too. They had set up a DeCon station outside for people to wipe down their carts before beginning. Even though there was a cute guy there doing just that, I grabbed my cart by the horns and went right in without lingering.

I think I already mentioned how easy it is to screw up DeCon, so I make my concessions for cleanliness and accept the risk of going out during a pandemic. Also, I made a mental note to observe this guy shopping. Sure enough, no gloves and no wipes inside.

But he put on a good show of Pandemic Correctness and was easy enough on the old peepers.

Aside from the DeCon set up outside, I was impressed that Gross Out was taking Social Distancing seriously and had laid down directional arrows to make aisles one-way. That effort reduced the amount of passing traffic in the aisles, making it easier to have a 6 foot space between shoppers.

Or should have.

Fucking idiots.

Like, if they put some effort into their cluelessness, they could reach the level of disdain I generally have for the garden variety stupid Americans our country churns out…folks who aren’t really dumb, just oblivious.

As I’ve observed on many occasions in the past, though,

There is no bar so low that an American can’t climb under it.

That needs to be on the Statue of Liberty. New Colossus can find a new home.

Fine.

New Colossus can stay, but I should at least get billboards for my slogan.

Or needlepoint pillows…

Anyway, the jokers I was shopping with were ignorantly pointing their carts whichever direction they pleased, arrows be damned. Then they were standing around talking.

With the people in their shopping group. I looked at them like, “Can’t you talk in the car on the way home?” Or at least talk and walk?

No.

For the solo shoppers randomly careening through the market, I considered offering them the opportunity to lick me in order to truly avail themselves to my available germs, but decided against it.

I did allow myself a couple opportunities to glare at oncoming shoppers and then look pointedly at the nearest floor arrow before getting out of the way of some of my fellow shoppers.

That’s when it hit me.

These people oblivious to the establishment’s efforts to protect their customers (from themselves, as it turns out) were the same customers that were wearing gloves and masks. I even saw one person wearing protective goggles.

I knew goggle-guy was just a stupid American and not a weird Portland denizen because they weren’t ski goggles.

Surely, these numbskulls weren’t all symptomatic and venturing out. No, they knew. Like some kind of Hillbilly Scout Troop had taught them to prepare for people dumber than themselves.

So, there I was, suddenly feeling vulnerable to all these people who protected themselves from others with the same uncommon sense as their own.

That’s when I thought a plague from a vengeful god wasn’t enough. We needed a flood.

These yahoos might be able to hoard handiwipes and masks, but let’s see how long their lawn chair flotilla protects them from raging floodwaters.

Actually, I’d probably be taking gulps – at least of wine – if a flood came. I bought enough groceries for 10 days – although I’m not sure how my wine stock will hold out – so I don’t have to venture back too soon. By the way, that’s about 10x what I normally buy when I go to the store…

I also bought myself a little dessert treat, since I’d been craving chocolate cake lately.

If I learned anything from Zombieland, it’s to enjoy the little pleasures – preferably one with a long shelf life. Sadly, the $5 bottle of wine I bought was one of the tastiest red blends I’ve had in a while…regretting not picking up a couple more.

And just to end on a fun note, here’s a little quarantine meme for yas.

We Need A Flood

Hey, Hippocrates

Well, I’m sure he never foresaw a future of social media connecting us all. If he had, do you think he would have weighed in?

Instead of “First, do no harm” do you think we would have gotten something like

First, educate thine dumb ass

I thought about sprinkling in a few literallys and figurativelys to that fake quote, but there’s already enough confusion in the world.

Case in point, I’m just wrapping up a 24 hour Facebook detox, and considering another 24 hours.

The impetus?

Not one, but two lengthy comment-versations with a former co-worker about posts they made about both COVID-19 and the economic stimulus package that was working its way through Congress. The biggest challenge here has been weighing my natural desire to “get the last word” versus attempting to help her – I knew I’d blow the gender neutral identity thing sooner or later, so I just abandoned it – understand how dangerous it is to spread inaccurate information.

Fortunately, her friends and followers were there to jump in and start calling me names in order to provide a perfect (and perfectly missed) illustration of my point.

One of the points I took issue with was her assertion that the economic bailout was going to provide $750B in aid to some industry – airline or auto is what’s coming to mind, and I really think it was airlines…but I am still restricting myself access to FB so I can’t verify – on top of their prior and unpaid bailout of…$750B from the 2008 economic crisis.

I mean, you see why I have a problem with this, right?

Just to be clear, I’m not out to call anyone stupid. My point has been to share my knowledge and reason with others. Maybe (definitely) I’m not ­čĺ» right ­čĺ» percent of the time, but I try to live up to my friend BreitBarb’s point that we’re all entitled to our “informed opinion”, particularly when it comes to important things like health and welfare.

Or the politicization of either.

Here’s the deal, even with generous up or down rounding, $750 billion just isn’t an historic bailout number. The closest I can come is the 2008 financial sector bailout. But that was ~$810B all tolled.

Sidebar: Told?

I dunno, I think the most recent information I have seen on that expression came down on the “told” side, but I’m talking math, so “tolled” as a synonym for “tallied” makes sense.

This data is all from doing research I told her I wasn’t going to do because my point wasn’t me being right, it was her being inaccurate. The closest I came before shutting down my FB and walking away was just offering the potential that she had meant millions instead of billions.

But since I wasn’t killing my quaran-time on the Facebook, I started thinking about writing projects and ended up here. Obviously, this is merely a procrastination technique to avoid working on my non-fiction project that needs editing. Still, my blog also provides a type of therapy, so at least it’s partially productive procrastination´┐╝.

Here’s what I found – and I really kind of focused on airlines, so…allow me that and bear with me.

20-Now

2001

Obviously, neither equals $750 billion by a long fucking shot. That 2001 airline bailout was even adjusted to 2008 dollars, which is when the article was published.

Key point: the source of the 2001 bailout was ProPublica – which is decidedly not Fox News or FB click-bait, so definitely not a valid source of information as far as my friend is concerned.

Basically, in addition to spreading unverified inaccurate information, my former colleague is also unwilling to retract or delete this info. Her best concession basically amounted to a “Yeah, but…” and what we really don’t need while were fighting a virus on a national level is to simultaneously be fighting a case of the yeahbuts.

Interestingly, my reason for clicking on her thread was because – knowing her political leaning – I really wanted to know where she came down on the bailout versus my own thoughts. I just never expected her to add in such wrongness voluntarily.

My issue with the bailout had been how it seemed unfairly weighted in favor of big business over small. As a Portlander, I value my community’s small businesses that help maintain the quirky Portland vibe. Saving them is my focus, so seeing big biz allocated $500B (see? still not $750B) in this package and small biz only allocated $350B seemed unfair. Particularly after the big biz bailout in 2008.

She never really addressed that opinion of mine. She was very busy agreeing that yes, small business needs help but then moved on to how big business – airline or automotive – never paid paid back the 2008 bailout, Obama ruined the healthcare options her special needs son had available to him and that student loan debt should never be forgiven. With nothing but vitriol to support her rant.

I don’t know much about big business not paying their prior stimulus packages back – I actually thought they were pretty good about that, but that’s just a recollection – but I did point out that paid back or not, having used so much of their profits on stock buybacks in the past years de-merited their request for aid now and should move small business to the top of the bailout priority heap. If big business had saved the profits they reinvested in their own stock for a rainy day, maybe they wouldn’t need so much assistance now.

I’m betting that buyback strategy helped minimize their tax burden, but I’m not googling that, so take it as an opinion only. Still, Bloomberg said…

I left the thread thinking that for the day, we’d managed to agree on two things she posted and wildly disagree on two others. But those two things we agreed on were inconsequential topics, like “water is wet”. My other thought was my complete understanding as to why she thinks college debt is unworthy of bailout or forgiveness.

She as much as said that people with degrees go on to earn a bunch of money so they could pay their damn bills. Which is interesting given her qualified support of bailing out big business.

My counterpoint was to concede that I partially understood where she was coming from in regards to student loan debt. However, not all degree program careers have the financial return she was projecting upon them.

My example: teachers.

I’d have thought that – having a special needs son – she would agree with the low pay teachers suffer through after taking on not only Bachelor level degree debt, but in many cases advanced degrees in order to specialize in fields like special needs.

Nah.

After all, if you allow your position to show cracks in its foundation, it’s as good as being wrong. Then the liberals win. Because that’s – I gather – how irrational thinking versus critical thinking works.

Because: game, set and match! Because, because, because!

All the while, I’m thinking I should just unfriend her. Arguing with myself about it, actually. But she’s not a bad person. Quite the opposite. She’s quite nice. Just culturally trained to support dogma instead of disposed – through education in disciplines like science and math – to think critically about information she’s presented and arrive at that informed opinion BreitBarb champions.

Flash backward a couple of days to me in isolation watching Instagram stories. A local business owner – and I’m sure in his own mind, influencer – had posted a story about he and his wife taking an outing for grocery supplies.

This was after a story featuring his dog in a diaper running around awkwardly, captioned with an equally awkward “someone’s first period”. Ok, a) probably get your damn dog fixed; and b) if you’re a man, maybe err on the side of never discussing a woman’s reproductive issue publicly. I mean, would you put your daughter’s first period on blast like that?

But, back to grocery shopping!

What could possibly go wrong there, right?

I mean, seriously…not much. Supportive of communicating best practices here in the quaran-times, I am.

My opinion is two-fold: the first is snarky historical Xtopher-ness. Twenty or so years back, even before anti-vaxxers, I posited that hand sanitizer was taking the place of hand washing and shouldn’t. I also tossed out how too much use of hand sanitizer would probably just erode our body’s natural process of developing immunities naturally.

Not that I’m saying this situation would have been prevented. I’m just qualifying – or indicting – my own stance on potentially overcorrecting behaviors.

Case in point:

I watched a clip of he and his wife entering the store with handiwipes and gloves.

I saw a video of them arriving home and setting up a decon area on their back porch. That everything in packages should be wiped down with bleach outside before being tossed inside to the clean area.

Having a “clean hand” and a “dirty hand” for unpacking and handling the groceries once the decon area is established. If you cook, think of how you dredge things before frying them: wet hand, dry hand. If you don’t cook, you’re probably going to die of starvation or malnutrition anyway, so…

I saw them take off their outside shoes before entering the house.

They talked about washing veggies.

I mean, top level…not bad information. My inner-germaphobe appreciated that they were trying to spread good knowledge.

Then my inner germaphobe got into a fight with my recreational hypochondriac.

What about their outside clothes? Can’t germs live on clothes as easily as the bottom of a shoe?

I mean, I’m a little germaphobic, but I still wear my shoes inside. Hell, I’m even laying down on the all weather carpet in my building’s hallway to do crunches during my isolation workouts – I don’t post them on Instagram, but I’m still doing them! – so this shoes off/clothes off/shower germs off approach to leaving and re-entering ones home is overkill unless you’re coming from a hospital.

In.

My.

Non-expert.

Opinion.

That controversy aside, I worried when I saw him demonstrate bringing things into the house that have inner packages.

Think boxes of microwave popcorn.

He specifically mentioned this separate from his “wipe everything down outside” segment because the inner packaging hadn’t been exposed to any contaminants recently. Sure, maybe a worker in the plant it was packaged in had been exposed and/or symptomatic, but that was long enough ago to safely assume any virus in it would now be dead. His videos were to combat bringing live outside germs inside due to recent handling by other potential carriers-slash-shoppers.

Ok. Sure.

Back to inner packages.

We’re going to take them out of the exterior packaging, leave the outer packaging outside and bring the safe, germ-free-ish inner packages into our kitchen.

I’m onboard with what he’s saying.

Not, however, with what he’s doing.

I watch him reach outside and pick up the popcorn box from the decon area, open it and toss the three cello-wrapped snack bags onto his kitchen island.

Got it. Ok. Except

No gloves.

Not that gloves or not is the issue here. Try and open a box of microwave popcorn – while holding it – with one hand. He couldn’t. I watched him use both hands, and since he specifically said he wasn’t bleaching the outer package because he was leaving it outside, gloves or bare handed handling became moot. If he didn’t bleach the outer package, he transferred germs onto the inner package after handling the outer packaging with both hands.

Just kidding, but I think where this virus is concerned, we’re all wearing red shirts, IYGMD.

Regardless of my assumptions as to whether he really did wipe down the outer package before filming this segment or whether we’re assuming worst case scenario germs where none likely exist…the thing that worries me here is the assumption people like my Facebook friend will make.

That I saw it on the internet and therefore it’s a fact.

Do not pass Go, do not collect $200 and certainly do not employ any critical thinking to assess the factual-ness of what you just saw.

Plus, rules are for other people, I don’t have to wash my hands because my junk ain’t dirty because I showered today, I’m not sick so I can go outside or visit grandma since she’s lonely…

We aren’t all going to die.

But some of us will – a larger number than you or I are probably <cough,cough> Spanish Flu! <cough> willing to consider.

My only certainty in these uncertain times?

Stupid Americans notwithstanding: stupidity is a constant in the universe.

Stay inside, wash your hands and first, do no harm.

Hey, Hippocrates

Forget Winter

reality is coming.

I woke up at about 4:30 this morning, which is my old normal. Lately, though, I’ve been nailing the whole “sleep through the night” thing. As I tried to talk myself out of tossing and turning, hoping instead to just fall back asleep until my alarm went off when it was time to move my car, I let my mind wander:

  • I should get up and pee
  • There’s some really funny COVID memes going around right now
  • Maybe I should just go move my car now…
  • Is that cigarette smoke?
  • Maybe I should fast today
  • I can’t wait to take a shower, I feel really gross after not showering yesterd – oooh, maybe I should work on some Quarantine Dreads!
  • Where’s Myrtle?

I finally decided to get up and pee, turning on the light briefly to make sure Myrt hadn’t “mined” my route to the toilet with any little surprises.

All clear.

As I answered Nature’s call, I chuckled at the “told ya sos” my friends would give me for being awake at this hour. Yesterday evening I had posted a question to my Facebook peeps as to whether or not 6:20 was too early to turn in on a Saturday night. I’d had a full day of doing nothing* and thought maybe it was time to finish my wine, take a half a gummy and hit reset.

Reliably, my wise and enabling friends let me know it was ok to turn in early, while cautioning that I’d be awake at 2:00 if I did.

Well, surprise! Surprise! SURPRISE…I ended up staying up, having two more glasses of wine, forgoing the gummy and going to bed at 11:00. Hence, sleeping til 4:30 instead of 2:30.

Anyway, as I was washing my hands, I decided that it was cigarette smoke I’d been smelling and tried to suppress my frustration at people breaking our association rules, since it would only serve to further wake me up.

I failed.

I congratulated myself as I lay in bed seething – at least I hadn’t gone out onto my patio and glared around, looking for the smoker.

Instead, I was laying in bed wondering if this was it, now. Civilization’s collapse. At the end of one week of forced isolation, the community rulebook was essentially toilet paper.

Then I reminded myself that we hadn’t actually made it a full week before our selfish and entitled behaviors started seeping out. Not that they had very far to seep.

I mean, the hoarding that started a couple weeks back is a fine example of people’s selfishness.

The fact that we’ve spent the last two weeks educating stupid Americans adults on proper hand washing is, likewise, a fine example of how people believe “rules” are for other people.

But what stuck in my head was the fat fuck jogger I’d encountered the other day. I’d been doing my morning drive routine, feeling good that 80% of my riders had been healthcare professionals and that I’d helped return them to the front lines for the day. Suddenly, I was skidding to a halt in an intersection – don’t worry, mom, skidding was hyperbole…I’d only been going 20 MPH – to avoid hitting this jogger.

He had leapt from the sidewalk to the crosswalk without looking or even breaking his stride. I’d seen him on the far side of the side street sidewalk as I drove across the opposite crosswalk, entering the intersection. I had anticipated that with his slowing to look both ways before crossing the street when he reached the corner, that I’d likely be exiting the intersection by the time he was ready to cross.

Nope.

As if this fat fuck jogger was the last person on the planet, he just Usain Bolt-ed into the crosswalk. I was actually kind of surprised that he hadn’t collapsed onto the asphalt after shattering his tibia running off the curb like that…like I said, fat.

Anyway, I did what I think any reasonably nice driver would do as I slammed on my brakes – I gave him a palms up over my steering wheel. For his part, he gave me a single finger salute as he continued to try run at a pace suggesting he was urgently trying to catch the physique that had – at one time – fit into his running attire.

Good luck, pal. That fit body has quite a head start on fat you.

As I resumed my right of way, I thought to myself how odd it was that he’d gotten so out of shape and now he was expecting people to yield to his fitness pursuits. I mean, really…it’s not like a healthy body was just waiting for him on the other side of the crosswalk. He could certainly have waited his turn.

That thought was still percolating as I realized this yahoo had actually turned to run parallel to me so that he could continue flipping me off.

All while righteously not making eye contact with me. I’m pretty sure someone mathematically inclined could actually come up with a formula to quantify the inverse relationship of the level of wrong-ness an action was compared to the length of time one postured themselves as the wronged party afterward.

Suffice to say, this guy was still acting like the injured party a half block later. Maybe he’d been hoping I’d run him over and put him out of his misery and was mad that I’d managed to miss.

But thinking on my fat fuck jogger friend had led me back to my second seemingly random thought of the morning: COVID memes.

There’s some pretty amusing observational memes going around. Things like:

We’re only three weeks away from knowing everyone’s natural hair color.

Or these little gems:

There was one that I failed to grab and can’t find now that I’m bummed about. It was a split screen with a caption that said something like “Quarantine 2020” and the split was a before and after pic. The before was a Barbie doll, all glammed up and looking Barbie-sexy while the after pic was the same pic photoshopped with a little Jabba effect because with the gyms closed and social distancing being trendy, all the gays will do is sit at home and binge eat while binge-watching Real Housewives of Anywhere and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Like I said, it was pretty funny, especially since it was from a gay meme account and you know what gym bunnies the 20-30 year old gays can be. I do appreciate self-aware humor.

Another that stuck with me was:

You know COVID-19 is serious when gay men start having sex with their boyfriends again.

That’s funny and sad at the same time. The important thing here is that – knowing my attitude regarding open relationships – I didn’t throw my phone when I saw that meme.

And because sometimes all you need for a funny moment is a good flipping of the script,

Because some of us lived through the 80s and 90s and are less shocked by the GOP’s shenanigans. Now we gays have loads of time on our hands to watch straight people react to the ongoing Trump administration nonsense, our only task: popping popcorn.

Anyhoo…before I knew it, my alarm was going off and it was time to go move my car onto the street. On Saturdays, I usually park in the lot down the block because there’s not a lot of demand on Lyft, so $7 for all day is a far better deal than $2/hour from 8:00 until I head out to drive in the evening. Since I was contemplating bed at 6-ish last night, having not even showered for the day yet, I didn’t drive.

Obviously.

And since street parking is free until 1:00 p.m. on Sundays, I’ll usually pay for a couple hours and then drive in the afternoon.

Anyway, I moved Angela out to the street, wondering if I was the only person in Portland still paying for parking.

Wondering if I was also wrong about the cigarette smoke after checking my weather app

And knowing that the potential fast was off after finding an energy drink and some pistachios tucked into the side pocket of Angela’s door. Also knowing Quarantine Dreads were off because I’m taking The ‘Phew to the airport this afternoon so he can fly home and see his parents, just to be sure we do our part for carrying Coronavirus from the city to rural Oregon. Hehe. But, yeah…I’ll have to shower for that.

Most rewarding, as I was exiting the building, some neighbor I’ve never seen before was exiting to walk a dog that I’ve also never seen before…smoking a fucking cigarette.

I coughed dramatically in the foyer after he didn’t hold the door for me and decided I was gonna tell on him. It’ll make me sound batshit crazy, too

Um, yeah. There’s a guy I’ve never seen before and I don’t know what unit he’s in, but he was smoking inside!

…but I’m not gonna let that stop me! There’s only 18 units in my building and less than half are occupied full time, I’m sure some industrious someone can figure it out.

Naturally, my morning ends with me coming back to my unit to Myrtle sitting in the bedroom door with an expression that said both, “Where have you been?” and

Someone shit on the floor.

at the same time.

Maybe I’ll let Myrtle fast today – or at least while I sip my energy drink…

*to be fair, I had done a mini workout at home and cleaned the condo…so the day wasn’t spent entirely in Sofa City.

Forget Winter

Due To Whelming Feedback…

…from yesterday’s post, I went out for a drive last night.

Mind you, the feedback was neither over nor underwhelming, simply whelming.

Of course, the universe didn’t let that stop it from being a rather me evening.

To wit – or, since it’s me – to halfwit.

There I was, minding my own biznatch…watching my eighth or thirtieth consecutive episode of Star Trek Voyager of the day, and suddenly MomDonna chimes in cryptically via text.

I love how she just starts her text in the middle of the conversation. Hehe. I think that conversational familiarity is a hallmark of any good relationship, so I definitely count it as a blessing that I have that shorthand with my parents.

And like any good slacker son, since mom said, I did.

Did, in this instance meaning, I turned on my Postmates app while continuing to watch Voyager and simultaneously playing Words With Friends.

I’m sitting there looking for a place to play aioli and seriously within a minute I get an order. So I go.

Yes, I placed my word first…isolation priorities.

I walk the two blocks to the lot I’d parked in after my depressive two hour/three ride Monday morning drive efforts – I literally made enough to cover parking for the day – and realized the pick up was from the just the around the corner Italian joint. I coast over, park illegally and try to go inside.

The door was blocked by two septuagenarians waiting for a table. And the place is packed!

I immediately start to feel a scratchy throat coming on as I wait. Recreational hypochondria is an unsung hobby of mine, just behind “growing hair” but before “growing hair in weird places” on my free time to do list.

“This is how we all die”, I think, “these idiots.”

Mind you, I’m out picking up food for people, but:

  1. I was expecting that restaurants would be deserted on the night before the dine-in embargo became official. Look at me, with my uncommon sense. And;
  2. My mom told me to do it. What’s their excuse?!?
  • I drive my order from the NW quadrant over to NoPo – North Portland, our city’s fifth quadrant – and drop it off. With no other deliveries stacked up, I sit in Angela for a minute trying to decide what to do. Normally, I’d point my car toward home and then take orders if they came and quit when I got home if they didn’t.
  • Extraordinary circumstances, though.
  • Plus, I had been to the Silver Fox’s that afternoon and while there, peeked into his fridge. I’ve dubbed myself his real-life Kramer, so I feel it’s incumbent upon me to be weird and help myself to his food when he’s not around.
  • He’d abandoned me yesterday to keep his ex-wife company during her self-imposed isolation, so I figured liberating a kombucha from his fridge was the least I could do.
  • Empty.
  • Seriously, there was like a container of oat milk. I’d rather die than drink that before it’s 15 minutes of fame were up. Adding insult to injury, his ex’s grand nephew popped in to spend his spring break with them since Canada is closed…meaning I’ll probably not see The Fox again until it’s time to pull his plug.
  • Also meaning that I had to text him my disappointment at the fridge situation.
  • Knowing how to truly wound me, he replied that there were some frozen meatless burger patties in the freezer I was welcome to.
  • This is why we’re friends.
  • Anyway, apocalypse being now, I decided I best head to Gross Out for some frozen broccoli. If this outbreak kills me, I’d like my corpse to weigh a few pounds less than my live body does currently. If it doesn’t kill me, welp…Pride is in June, so I’ll exit forced isolation ahead of the game, eh?
  • I turn on my Lyft app to ensure I have every shot possible at scrapping a nutritious diet for pizza delivery, thinking there’s no way I won’t get distracted by one of the two apps before I get to the NE quadrant.
  • I get there. Who knew?
  • I go in and grab a couple salad kits then head to the frozen food coolers for my broccoli. They were sold out. The only thing left was albino broccoli.
  • I think I probably have something from Penzey’s that can make it palatable, but head over to the wine department, just in case.
  • I check out and get back to Angela, turning my apps back on for the potential ride home. Before I even push “start”, I have a delivery.
  • Sheesh.
  • I look at the nav…right across the street.
  • Woooow.
  • Apps are cool.
  • I pick up some guy’s dinner – a grocery bag full of Korean BBQ – and head off toward NE 60th & Couch.
  • Sidebar: You pronounced that wrong – it sounds like “cooch” here. But just the street, not the furniture.
  • So, there I am…sitting at NE 60th & – say it with me – Couch at 730 PM. I need to go home and feed Myrt the Murderous soon. She had a late snack, so I’m not feeling terribly guilty.

    Still, soon.

    But at the same time, I’m 80-ish blocks from home and would feel guilty just driving there straightaway. On the other hand, my caving to peer and mom pressure to get out and try some deliveries has netted me $7. Actually, after groceries, my net is -$25.

    This is why I don’t put a ton of effort into Postmates as anything other than a cure for boredom. Delivering two meals and earning $7 is way better than the alternative: drinking two $7 beers.

    Sure.

    Fine.

    Apps on, I point Angela toward the South Water Front and Oregon Health Sciences Hospital campus, thinking I might catch a shift change ride.

    I don’t.

    But as I’m weaving around the labyrinthine streets of SW Portland, I get a call up to the main campus on top of Marquam Hill. Technically, first I got a Lux ride that was 14 minutes away that canceled 90 seconds later. Seriously, that was a bummer because it was far enough out in SE that I’d probably have earned $40 on that ride, but if the passenger was gonna spend $60+ on a ride, they probably didn’t want to wait 15 minutes for it. Still, they couldn’t wait another 30 seconds and slide a $10 cancellation fee my way? Hehe.

    Ok, anyway.

    Then I got an order, then 30 seconds later I got the OHSU ride. I cancel the order – wondering what karmic shenanigans I’ve signed up for in doing so – and head up to OHSU.

    I drop the ICU nurse I pick up off at a Safeway in NE so she can do some shopping before heading home. This woman has some logic long game – she knew at 6 AM that she’d want to shop after work and parked accordingly. I pull out of the parking lot and am going around the block of one-way streets so I can head home.

    Another ride.

    Three blocks away.

    Seriously…this kind of takes some of the sting out of the Lux ride that canceled on me. But only just. I made $20 on Sunday – plus $5 off a delivery order – none of which tipped. My Monday drives had doubled those earnings, but I’d usually earn over twice that before the world slowly began ending, so I was pretty disheartened that Lux ride hadn’t happened to true me somewhat up.

    Alas.

    What ended up being my last ride took me to SE again, around 33rd, putting me a ways away from home. But I’d gotten a self proclaimed introvert to talk, so I was feeling pretty good as I pointed the car toward home once again.

    I actually made it home.

    However, since it was now 830 and the chatty introvert was the only tipper out of four “customers”, I wasn’t disappointed to call it a night.

    I had some dinner wine and went to bed so that I could wake up at 6 today and give it another go. I made about 30% more on my morning commute rides today – again, one tipper…disappointing trend – which put me at about 50% of my normal morning earnings. Enough to park Angela for the day and buy myself a coffee. To go, natch. But I got home to a push from Postmates telling me one of last night’s deliveries had tipped me $7.50, doubling my actual delivery earnings for the evening. Still not super impressed with the Income Potential from Postmates, but to MomDonna’s point, it got me out of the house.

    Plus, turns out Voyager wasn’t yanked from Netflix overnight, so I really didn’t miss anything.

    And that’s my last 36 hours of social-distance-slash-forced-isolation…one footnote to yesterdayÔÇÖs post, my first ride today – a nurse – demonstrated to me exactly how the US extincts itself.

    I drive in the mornings for the scratch, sure. Until the lottery decides to cooperate, anyway…But in these low earning days, I’d rather stay in bed. It’s being so close to so many (non-tipping, but still) medical professionals who Lyft to work since there’s no parking for them on campus that gets me up. Getting medical professionals to work these days is a reward that’s greater than the paycheck or non-existent tip.

    Seriously, one OHSU worker has tipped me in 9 months. And the buildings they live in aren’t dumps. Also, the wait list for parking on campus is long. One nurse has been on it for nine years. And there’s still 1000 people ahead of her! That’s what you get for building a hospital on a hilltop, eh?

    Anyway. I digress.

    This nurse tells me she was going to miss going out for St Paddy’s Day after work due to the forced closures. But at least she got to go out to her favorite neighborhood watering hole last night for a last farewell.

    I ask her which one and she tells me River Pig. I know it, I tell her. Ramzy – the owner – is a nice guy, despite spelling his name incorrectly. Kind of a douche, but still nice.

    Further demonstrating both my point about Ramzy and Governor Brown’s need to force social hubs to shutter to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or any of the lesser COVIDs, my nurse passenger tells me that Ramzy had told her he wasn’t closing. He was going to remain open for his regulars as a means of exploiting the 25 person or less private event loophole for restaurants and bars.

    Like I said, he’s a douche.

    But seriously, that’s how we die. Not some millennial taking a $87 round trip spring break flight to Puerto Vallarta, no…a nurse who should know better and a bar owner who clearly skews GOP values-wise. Oh, and 70-somethings going to packed restaurants during a pandemic!

    My workaround? I gave her a 3-star rating so I don’t have to risk picking her future COVID-zombie-self up.

    Stupid Americans…

    Due To Whelming Feedback…

    Scared New World

    Welp, I made it three days.

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

    Obviously.

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

    Friday: 6

    Saturday: 3

    Sunday: 4

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

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

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

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

    C’mon!

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

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

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

    Nope. Those days are over.

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

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

    Including tip.

    Smart!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I was not wrong.

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

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

    So here I am.

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

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

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

    This was simultaneously hilarious and horrifying.

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

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

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

    Horrifying because – well, lots.

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

    It’s pathetic.

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

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

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

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

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

    Scared.

    Stupid.

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

    Scared New World