Soul? Oh!

This is something I’ve been kicking around for close to a year now. I’ve got a draft from last December called Un-Civil War that I just can’t quite get right.

So there it sits. This draft. But the notion keeps coming back to me more like a ghost haunting me than the orphan attempting to find a home or get the attention it needs.

Last week, though, it settled into my consciousness and caused me to be aware of the same old things differently. I noticed things that had been sticking out, but felt understanding beginning to crystallize.

I think it was watching Biden’s acceptance speech for the nomination as the party’s candidate for president that did it. In it, he talked about how this election is a battle for the soul of our democracy.

Since then, I’ve been seeing Trump supporters differently.

  • The random oversized pickup truck driving around downtown with Proud Boy flags flying off its bed.
  • The lady in Vantucky driving along in the car by herself with the WWG1WGA bumper sticker. That stands for the QAnon tag line “Where We Go One, We Go All”.
  • The people on social media decrying the destruction of “their city” from the protests, without realizing all that’s wrong with that mindset – even though many of them still count themselves as democrats.
  • The old bastard on the hill in Oregon City crazily waving his Trump flag and holding a small sign that asked who Jesus would vote for.
  • The pickup with the “88” window sticker. H is the eighth letter of the alphabet. That’s a White Supremacist symbol, seen also in tattoo form on too many prisoners. 88 = HH = Heil Hitler.
  • The guy in Clackatraz driving around with his convertible top down, holding a pole with the “Trump 2020” campaign flag flying – by far the most representative example of Trump supporters’ IQ. Cumulatively, I doubt they could post an IQ high enough to get MENSA’s attention.
  • Or the family of three – a man, his wife and their not-old-enough-to-vote daughter holding Trump signs and the Blue Line American flag supporting the police.
  • Usually, I give these demonstrators a “thumbs down” gesture and just go about my business, feeling low-grade intimidated nonetheless. Since seeing Biden’s speech and having his question percolate, I’ve realized something different may very well be at play here.
  • These Trump supporters are sad and lonely people. Orphans from modern American ideals who are screaming for any attention they can get themselves. Not realizing that any group that needs coded language like WWG1WGA or 88 to signal others like them probably aren’t worth belonging to. They certainly don’t have a message they can be proud of if they have to hide it.
  • These sad individuals – driving around alone in their cars or standing alone or only with their family-slash-hostages – stand in stark contrast to the other groups I see around town. The groups that make me proud of my town and my race. Whose actions signal redemption for the values of our country versus coded subversion of those values and subjugation of other races and genders than their own.
  • Not the hundreds to thousands of protesters downtown demanding police reform and an end to systemic racism in America – and after last night’s police shooting, I’m guessing it will once again be 1000s, not 100s.
  • No, the people making me hopeful are the neighborhood and school and professional groups that have organized to remind passers by that Black Lives Matter. Seeing neighbors coming together in numbers large enough to crowd all four corners of a city intersection, or line both sides of a suburban highway for a hundred feet is, I hope telling of the results we’ll see in November. Watching someone deliver and start to set up a tent for shade on our recent 100 degree days while someone else hands out water reminds me of the compassion liberals are able to demonstrate for others. And, yeah, watching the Riot Ribs guys cooking in the park across from the Justice Center during the day, when the only people I see them feeding appear to be homeless also makes me feel that same thing…but the randomness of the former example reinforces the best notions of what conservatives condemn as bleeding heart liberals.
  • I’ll take those small reminders, because stacked up next to what the opposition can muster, they’re far more impactful by comparison.
  • As a matter of fact, the largest group of Trump supporters that I’ve seen doing similar messaging isn’t half the size of the smallest BLM group I’ve seen, reinforcing the realization that these fringe groups and Trump supporters are indeed lonely.
  • Which is why they brought guns and mace to Saturday’s counter protests in Portland while the people there calling for reform and justice brought umbrellas and signs. Just like a message that needs to be coded, a message that needs guns to be valid is probably – or at least obviously should be – self-indicting.
  • I’ll still feel intimidated when I see these Trump supporters out and about, but I’m happy to feel something else stirring now: pity. Because while the people with the right idea have lots of company in this battle for democracy’s soul, the opposition is usually fighting solo in their pursuit to spread its soulless message.
  • Soul? Oh!

    Hey, You!

    Yeah, you. Can you…not, please?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Visitors from COVID-denying hotspots.

    Recent red state refugees that landed in Portland.

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

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

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

    Just Arizona.

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

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

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

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

    Simple pimple.

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

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

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

    Okay, then.

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

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

    Do you even need more than one guess?

    Arizona State.

    Why?

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

    “They have a great business school”.

    Wharton is a great business school…

    <crickets>

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

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

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

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

    Hey, You!

    And Then There’s Actual Karma

    Not that I particularly enjoy a karmic smack down.

    Schadenfreude…sure, that I’ll cop to.

    But honestly, the only times when I find myself truly enjoying karma are the times I see someone who has something good coming their way get their due.

    Y’know, like in the pre-lockdown days when someone would sit down near me at a video poker machine. They’d put a urine soaked dollar bill – because it’s Portland, so they are houseless, obviously – into the machine, smack toothless gums while deciding what game to play and then bet min – which is probably sixty cents of that pee dollar (aka: street value of the USD) – only to hit a bonus and win a whopping $10.

    That is an example of karma that makes me happy.

    That is not the type of karma I woke up to this morning. Let me explain…

    Or the Kenton neighborhood of NoPo, 2017…

    I was the GM for Green Zebra Grocery, a store that’s called itself the 7-Eleven of healthy grocers. A Whole Foods in a convenience store footprint.

    Great concept. One that suits my “fishbowl existence” preference – neighborhoods with everything residents need, home, entertainment, restaurants, gyms, and, yes…even grocery stores. Green Zebra – The Zeeb, as the staff nicknamed it – fit right into my worldview.

    Then I worked there.

    Then, I didn’t.

    It couldn’t have ended in a shittier or shadier manner. The founder herself fired me.

    For cause.

    Or what passed for cause in her confrontation averse universe.

    Basically, I was a scapegoat. Or whatever livestock one slaughters to appease the Harassment Gods or fake idols employees pray to in order to dodge personal accountability.

    A grocery clerk left work grateful I’d canceled his shift for the day. He’d shown up visibly impaired, barfed in the sanitizer bucket behind the meat counter, declared “Dude, I did this to myself” when I asked after him…and then claimed harassment after my response to him admitting that he was drunk and stoned at work was “That’s not ok”.

    He was relieved to go home that day.

    When he came back to work and had to face the follow up counseling, he was butt hurt.

    And suddenly, I was the problem.

    He went right to the founder with his complaint.

    He had to change his story a couple of times. First it was “inappropriate comments”, which was vague and scuttled by my counter defense of, “That’s pretty much the culture here – and I’m trying to fix it”.

    Seriously, my defense was a sticker on a manager’s work issued laptop – well, among other examples. And I offered to be the champion of continued change.

    Seriously, that was the sticker staring at me during weekly meetings during my tenure at The Zeeb. When I pointed out that I’d walked into an inappropriate environment and relaxed my own standards to “blend”, the Number Two in the company said, “It’s true” under her breath in a fit of neo-corporate inconvenience. So, basically, the founder decided to fire me after her own Number Two indicted her position.

    Of course, there was the whole, “That actually never happened” defense, which should stand on its own merits anyway.

    After his second story iteration, I pointed out that another complaint made by the same employee had ended in the termination of a meat clerk…that was also on a Worker’s Comp LOA. Apparently, he’d made an unwitnessed comment about the length of the homophobic employee’s hair relative to his gender.

    Now, to me, that’s a definite no-fly zone. But in proving it…when it can’t be proven…well, that scenario ended with erring on the side of caution and terminating the legitimately injured employee.

    However, after sending the founder into another retreat to regroup by asking how many witches she was willing to drown to protect this young man’s fragile sexual identity, she came back – after story revision number three – and fired my sacrificial lamb ass.

    Just remember, after coming to work drunk, stoned and puking in a sanitizing bucket within three feet of raw meat – not that kind, Diezel! – I told the kid he was responsible for managing his crossfade so that it didn’t negatively impact the business or the team.

    Yeah, fire me for that.

    My last words to Lisa – the founder – were, “Surround yourself with good people and then get out of their way”. She’d created a parental environment where if one of “the kids” didn’t like what (in this case) dad said, they went running to mom.

    Short story long – gotta love context – this morning I woke up to someone from my old store’s team posting Instagram story videos announcing the store team striking.

    I recognized the view from the employee side of the cash registers-slash-espresso bar.

    I recognized the founder losing her shit at the situation.

    Unsurprisingly, on camera.

    For several minutes.

    Ranting almost incoherently. The liberal dramatic throwing up of exasperated arms. The dramatic and long suffering demand that her employees abandon their posts so she can ring up customer purchases her-put-upon-self. Customers abandoning their purchases and leaving before Lisa retreated toward the offices yelling that employees win and all employees were getting paid for the day.

    The interesting thing wasn’t the karmic drama. It was in the seeking to understand – one of Lisa’s corporate values. In looking into why the employees decided to strike, I learned it was mainly over hazard pay. During the pandemic, many companies with essential workers – like grocery stores – all employers in that field seemed to offer a bump in the neighborhood of $2/hr for their employees or bonuses of hundreds of dollars multiple times. I’m sure it wasn’t universal, but I didn’t see other grocer’s employees striking so dramatically.

    It’s worth noting that Whole Foods employees situationally went out on strike despite their $2/hr Hero Pay bump that lasted a couple months. Notably, the store in my neighborhood went on strike over a lack of safe working conditions following the death of at least one of their team from COVID-19.

    Lisa apparently offered a one-time $120 bonus for employees. I’m not sure whether that was prorated for full and part time positions. Regardless, $120 for working in an at-risk environment for 12+ weeks – well…that’s $10/week at best for any employee, regardless of the number of hours worked.

    Regardless of the prior conversations, the situation I observed tells me Lisa still either can’t hire the people with the competencies she needs to support her success or she can’t get out of the way of her own team’s success. My experience is that when hiring, you get more wins than losses. There are more people who want to do good work than not. But they need good leadership to do so.

    The situation I personally experienced versus what I witnessed this morning via video shows me that Lisa not only hasn’t learned to get out of the way of good people, she’s literally actively getting in the way to try and single-handedly keep her store open in spite of their grievances.

    Karmicly, I was gratified to see that her customers weren’t any more sympathetic to it than her employees were.

    Where it goes from here is dependent upon whether old dogs can learn new tricks. From what I’m seeing in our country in general and my city in particular…it ain’t coming easy. If it happens.

    And Then There’s Actual Karma

    Car-ma

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

    Sometimes That’s Fun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Weird

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

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

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

    Any guesses?

    Broadway Cannabis Collective.

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

    Pretty strange occurrence.

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

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

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

    But not every coincidence is weed-related.

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

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

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

    But that’s not the point.

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

    Such a nice young lady.

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

    In reality, I laugh and change the subject.

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

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

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

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

    stripper.

    I shit you not.

    Back to back stripper talk rides.

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

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

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

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

    Sometimes That’s Not Fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The circle here?

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

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

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

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

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

    Car-ma

    What A Long, Strange Week It’s Been…

    Seriously, last week was quite a year.

    I inadvertently offended my sister on social media.

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

    Coronavirus.

    Politics.

    Social Justice.

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

    The hits just kept on coming.

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

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

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

    Also, “Cocktail, please!”

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

    The result?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I need to get her a heating pad…

    But I got her back a few days later.

    Well, almost.

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

    A. Couple. Times.

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

    Damn it.

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

    Closed.

    Fuckity-fuck-fuck.

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

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

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

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

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

    What A Long, Strange Week It’s Been…

    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?