Our National Moral Compass

I was gonna write about Kevin Costner being the proto-dad in movies these days, but decided to take a break from movie material.

Seems like most people anymore have a Moral Spinner, making right and wrong less of a literal constant and more like some sort of MadLibs or design your own disaster – er – adventure scenario.

Welcome to the United States of America. Our new national color is every shade of grey.

Case in point: The MAGA Teens

You tired of hearing about this yet?

I am, yet it won’t leave my mind. Or my homepage on Apple News.

The kids that survived the Valentines Day shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida took their trauma and created a national movement.

The Covington Christian kids said, “Hold my holier than thou water!” and took their white privilege and created national drama.

That.

Won’t.

Go.

Away.

My overwhelming question, every story I read about this, is

Where the hell were the adults?!?

High School class trips used to have parent or teacher chaperones.

I know, back when I was a kid

Hell, parents used to teach kids to walk away from a fight. Nowadays, I can’t tell if it’s “stand your ground” or “don’t take off your blindfold” on any given day.

Something tells me the kids have heard “stand your ground” loud and clear and the adults are perfectly happy to put a blindfold on and abdicate their parental responsibilities.

For instance, we all saw the video of the teen in “the hat” – those friggin’ hats – facing down a Native American easily four times his age. Collectively, most of us lost our shit.

Sure…there were a few

<looking at you, Savannah Guthrie>

But I think seeing the video, the majority of us recognized shitty teenage testosterone fueled cockiness when we saw it. Personally, I saw a tight pic of a teen with a shit eating smirk, a Native American elder playing a drum and a few extras surrounding him.

I saw what I saw.

I wanted to end that punk.

Gosh, lemme see if I can recall what happened next…

Oh, yeah…his parents hired a connected DC PR firm.

I’ll tell ya, I was a pretty good kid. My parents sent me to a private catholic high school, too. But still, kids are kids. Puberty is a horrible time for parents.

If they happen to be present enough to notice their kids and, y’know…parent them.

For the record, jerk kid or not, the number of times my parents had to hire me a PR firm to undo my jerkiness is 0.

Zero.

I think if your kid does something that makes that number anything higher than zero, he doesn’t get the luxury of deflecting the blame.

Shockingly, the PR firm managed to paint the kid as a victim. We haven’t seen the whole thing, they say. A three minute video isn’t the whole story, they say.

There were black people!

Quick!

Phew.

It worked.

Mainstream media – print and network – were walking back their criticism of the situation. Celebrities that jumped into the conversation were suddenly tweeting their mea culpas.

A lot of them admit to not having watched the entire video, just the three minute one.

New information has come to light…

So I watched one of these new videos.

I was horrified.

Oh, those black guys.

Sure, they were adults yelling at passers by in the area. They were members of an extremist black religious group. Probably about the same to the rest of the black community as what the KKK is to white people.

There was maybe a half dozen of them.

In contrast, these Native Americans had maybe a half dozen peaceful protesters in roughly the same area.

Black extremists.

Native American peaceful protesters.

And then, the MAGA Teens.

In watching one of the “entire videos” I came away absolutely baffled.

There must have been 150 of them.

At least.

And they were little dicks.

Take away the blacks and Native Americans – that they far outnumbered, did I mention that? – and these white kids were still little shits.

Why?

Because when you look at the entire video, you get a bigger picture of their other offense: harassing women.

It’s not rape if you enjoy it!

Really?

Who decides that the rape was enjoyed?

I’m guessing it was the rapist, in their opinion. Certainly not the victim. That’s just a guess on my part since the school field trip they were on was to attend the Right to Life March…y’know, the anti-choice march?

Yeah. A catholic school bused its all-white-boy student body to DC to march against women’s rights and then allowed them to harass women and Native Americans while maybe mildly annoying some militant blacks by yelling louder than them.

And the white kids are the victims.

Yeah…those poor kids and their moral spinners.

Personally, I still think it would have been nice to see an adult or two in the crowd.

Parent.

Teacher.

The US Park Police. Oh, wait…they’re shut down.

Hey, speaking of shut downs…you know what we should probably shut down? The tax exempt status of Covington Christian High School and any church they are affiliated with. I couldn’t check to see if they were listed as a 501(c)(3) organization or not since the school shut down all of its social media and websites and advised its student body to do the same.

Hiding much?

I don’t know why I’m so annoyed by this, but I sure am. At least after Charlottesville, we got a “There’s bad people on both sides” from the White House. Now, these snot nosed brats might get – I heard they did, but haven’t verified that – an invitation to the WH. Maybe il Cheeto will send out for more hamberders.

Meanwhile, mainstream media and public figures are gaslighting themselves and apologizing to the next generation of Stupid Americans for making them feel temporarily at fault for their bad behaviors.

This is a new low for a country that already hit an embarrassing low by accepting that “literal” was an antonym and a synonym for “figurative”. I guess it’s safe to leave you with

I literally cannot even.

Wrong is wrong, folks. Take off your blindfolds.

I can’t believe I delayed writing about Kevin Costner as a proto-dad and ended up writing about kids that need a parent. Go figure.

Our National Moral Compass

Some People Call Me A Pessimist

Rightly so, I’m sure they could successfully argue. Others may offer a case for labeling me an optimist.

But just look at the name of this blog…

That’s why my real friends skip the argument altogether and just call me a grump.

Fair enough.

And what’s got this grumpopatomus feeling reflective this morning?

Our dirtbag President, of course. The offending tweet:

Amongst friends who shared a respectfully snarky relationship, this would make me chuckle. From our Idiot in Chief, this is just more woman-hating vitriol.

Just like when he called her Pocahontas or Sacajawea in the first place. She had made a statement about having Native American ancestry, and possessing all the visual genetic characteristics of someone who’d “like to talk to the manager”, this claim left her open to attack.

No. Let’s call it what it was, given the source: bullying.

What was most bizarre about this to me – having become inured to our President’s shitty behavior – was the fire that Warren took from the actual Native American population. Well, spokespeople, at any rate.

Not only was it considered poor form for her to politicize this ancestry in the first place, using a commercial DNA kit to verify it was also a bad decision. Incidentally, a decision she made after months of bullying from Trump. The culmination of this bullying was Warren calling Trump on his pledge to donate $1 million to charity if she could prove her claim.

Maybe without really considering the full implications – or maybe just without foreseeing an objection from left field – she called out our petty blowhard of a President and took the test. I think this was more to prove the President wouldn’t honor his word than to prove her word was true.

Shocker. He didn’t.

But then the tribal spokespeople weighed in. Their point was that their tribal pride wasn’t based on a swab mailed off to a lab. That recreational DNA testing not only minimized their genealogical pride, it opened up the floodgates for potential abuse of the governmental benefits appropriated to Native Americans.

That I understood.

When I was in Junior High – ninth grade, just before going off to High School as a Sophomore – I was one of two students pulled aside and counseled on the scholarship benefits available to me as a Native American.

<needle scratch>

I’m not Native American, except that I was born in this country. Both of my parents could probably beat out Elizabeth Warren for looking Caucasian.

Well, my mom is slightly dark complected.

And I was a kid that loved running around the neighborhood and hanging out at the pool during the Summer while my parents played tennis at the club.

See? Caucasian.

If you don’t like it, talk to the management.

But because my skin was a luscious sun kissed shade of brown, I was pulled aside and offered these potential benefits.

Reverse profiling.

I’d like to say it was honor that made me reject the offer and the advice to talk to my parents “just to be sure”. But it wasn’t. In my mind, I was sure.

But in my mind, I was also scared.

Ashamed.

It was Junior High, not exactly the time in life that kids are looking to stand out as different.

Well…there was that one boy that was always wearing a satiny scarf in the hallways.

In the 80s.

He was brave.

I was afraid of what would happen if I was a brave.

We had this librarian at my Junior High. His name was something like Mr. Rawlins. I know that’s not exactly right, but it’s important that it’s at least close for the point of this story. Anyway, he was a heavy smoker.

Yellowed hands, face nicotine-stained a dull brown and clothes filled with the noxious scent of an indoor smoker.

We kids were terrible to him. We likened his aroma to the smell of the dump our buses took us by on the way to school.

Rawlins smells like Rossman’s Landfill!

And chanting things like

B.O. Navajo Joe

over and over, passive-aggressively knowing he wasn’t out of earshot.

It makes me feel terrible to type those hateful things. I’m kind of misty-eyed as I remember how awful we were.

Of course, I was just a follower…because at that age, what kid wants to be different?

I think the meanest of us all was this little shit named Cory.

A) Totally rubbish name for a kid.

B) He was an adopted Korean (I think) orphan.

Both of which meant that he was compensating for all he was worth. What a mean kid. When he showed up one Fall wearing a distinct Polo shirt my mom had sold that Summer at a garage sale, I said nothing. That, I’d like to believe, was a kindness I offered him and not simply fear of what would happen if I embarrassed him.

So, yeah…it wasn’t a sense of honor or decency that prevented me from taking money that wasn’t mine, it was at best equal parts being a decent human being and scaredy cat.

Scared of being seen as different.

Scared of being perceived as poor or needy.

Ugh.

But here’s where I try and bring that ramble home…I sincerely don’t think E.W. was trying to cause an affront to anyone in her attempt to shut Trump’s bullying down – hopefully once and for all time.

I totally get the legitimate objections of Native Americans.

I can’t forgive someone who engages in bullying behaviors from the office of the President.

For my $.02, I think someone with Warren’s character should be able to claim a Native ancestry without the presumption that she’s staking a claim to the associated heritage that ancestry comes with.

I know, prepositions and dangling participles…

Nor, however, should it be assumed she’s pandering to a minority for political gain.

I’m going to choose to accept that she is an American that is proud of all parts of her genetic make up; good, bad or ugly. It’s what made her the person that Massachusetts sent to the Senate to represent them. That she knows that her very DNA is the DNA of America itself. Our strength as a country isn’t in the purity of our blood, rather it’s in the blending of our cultures that has created this Melting Pot that is America.

Even if there is currently a surge of off-key, Stupid American voices in the chorus of this little dinner theater drama that is our present day country.

That’s my moment of optimistic frustration…and probably why I should stay off the Twitter until our country gets a regime change.

Some People Call Me A Pessimist

Survey Says…?

Maybe it’s just me.

I just applied for a job managing a BevMo! I actually applied for a job with this company before I left Seattle in 2015, and was kind of disappointed that their application process doesn’t seem to have been touched in the last several years.

Case in point:

Are any of these answers actually correct?!?

I remember thinking the same thought when I completed this process in Seattle. But that was pre-MeToo and frankly, I feel like even in Trump’s America, none of these answers are correct.

Actually, I think they are all less correct now. Let’s break it down:

Obviously, the first answer is 100% wrong. There’s freedom of speech but what you choose to say may have consequences. In a workplace, it’s your professional responsibility to ensure your speech does not reflect poorly on the organization.

The second answer is about 50% correct. No, maybe less, but I’m not sure how to quantify it. Sure, if a customer complains, they could get in trouble. Even if it’s not a customer, but an offended employee they could get in trouble. I think the most correct reason for “getting in trouble” would be that their behavior violates a company’s code of conduct policy, regardless of complaints or from whom they are received, no?

Answer number three is just mind boggling, not even half right in my opinion. Again, the act of telling crude joke should violate a company’s code of conduct policy. Shifting the location to elsewhere on the premises – particularly one accessible to all employees – tacitly condones the behavior and creates a hostile work environment. I don’t care what people do on their own time, outside of my business – mostly – but they sure as hell aren’t going to behave in a manner that erodes employee morale on my turf.

Clearly, I chose the fourth option. Strictly because it’s the least wrong, in my opinion. Employees should focus on their tasks and responsibilities while on the clock, of course. I think that work environments should be fun, especially in retail, but when employees self-direct their fun at work, they need to remain professional about it. If they don’t, I think that this redirect should either have an added consequence statement to acknowledge to unacceptable behavior or there should be a mention of a follow up conversation in the potential responses. Telling someone to “get back to work” doesn’t do enough to address and correct the situation. I mean, the goal should be to stop it and prevent it from happening again, right?

Maybe it’s just me?

My friends and parents ask me frequently how the job search is going.

This is kind of a fine example of how it’s going…companies that I think I’d enjoy working for demonstrating to me that maybe I wouldn’t want to work there after all. Without even bending over backward to do it.

Survey Says…?

Oh, Bother…

I think being bothered is a good thing. Keeps you present.

That just fell out of my mouth earlier this week while The Fox and I were at coffee.

The cafe manager had stopped by to talk while he grabbed a quick break. We always have enjoyable chats when he can take a moment like that with one or both of us. He and The Fox have actually had beers together a few times, too. When I get the download from those conversations, I’m not jealous of them…but I can appreciate that I missed something good.

But, to be clear, my bother in this particular conversation isn’t the same as our childhood pal

…and while I have friends and colleagues who have referred to me as Pooh’s human friend, I think over the years we’ve known each other that has congenially morphed into Grumpy Old Xtopher.

Since that moniker doesn’t lend itself to Pooh’s famously mild expletive, you can call me Whiny the Pooh for this post.

Because that’s more my style!

While I think my state of botheredness fluctuates depending on my real or perceived infraction, these moments really do keep me present. Both in my surroundings, but also in my own behaviors.

Who knew being the non-violent version of Hannibal Lecter would actually not only help me be a better person personally but also hopefully help me to be a better part of my community? Hopefully, if I’m bothered by someone else’s behavior, I don’t go on to become guilty of the same thing.

Sadly, as low a bar as that statement represents, I think more often than not, that’s actually what enables others to validate their own poor behaviors. Welcome to the United States of Kindergarten.

Yesterday I went to the Apple Store with my parents to get help with my mom’s new iPhone. They had an appointment for 2:10 and we showed up around quarter to 2:00 to check in. The associate checking us in told us that their appointment was actually 2:20…but said we were welcome to wait. We asked if that would end in us being seen sooner and when getting an uncertain reply, decided to go across the street for coffee and come back.

For as smooth as the process of checking us in and getting us staged went – maybe we just didn’t really care since we had coffee – we ended up at the Genius Bar just about on time.

I guess not so for the woman next to me. I heard her complaining to an employee she shanghaied about their wait, and “how much longer it would be?” The associate checked his iPad and said, “Looks like your appointment was at 2:30, and we’re only a little behind, so it shouldn’t be too much longer!”

I checked my phone.

It was 2:35.

Really, lady?!?

“Ok, well my son has another appointment across the river at 3:00, so the sooner the better!”

Nonono.

This is not ok. Now, we were only about seven blocks from the river, but our evening rush hour starts as early as 2:00 and we were smack dab in the middle of downtown. Even if her son’s appointment was literally just on the other side of the water, the bridges become a pinch point during the evening commute.

A half hour drive time would not be unreasonable.

What was she thinking?!?

I don’t know, it probably sounded a lot like “me, me, me”, though. Now what she was doing was making this someone else’s problem when it was completely her own doing. Even worse, in taking an appointment slot that was unworkable for her, she took a slot that could have worked for someone else.

Now she was trying to manipulate this poor guy into jockeying around the customers so she could go first. To his credit, he held firm with, “Well, it looks like there’s just one iPhone ahead of yours, so it shouldn’t take too much longer!” in a cheerier voice than I would have given her.

At least mentally.

This reminded me of another instance from earlier in the week. It actually made me take a picture as it came hot on the heals of my quote at the beginning of this blog post.

This basic is demonstrating what it is to be not present.

Which, in turn, bothered me.

The sign she is standing right next to says, “Please Wait Here…” as I’d been watching her, two people had walked up and asked her if she was waiting – one of them was the Silver Fox, who was excitedly awaiting his flu shot – and I’d only been watching her for a couple of minutes. Now, she could have certainly chosen to sit in the waiting area while she waits for her Rx to be filled. She knows the chairs are there, she set her tablet and handbag in one of them.

Having chosen to stand in line instead, you’d think after enough people asked if she was in line, perhaps – just maybe – she’d think to herself, “Self, I think I should get out of the way”.

No…not our girl.

She’s so unpresent that she didn’t even notice me overtly taking her picture from about 5 feet away.

This seems like a good moment to check in with my Drag Queen Spirit Animal.

Now you know why she’s my Spirit Animal. Every other homo – of a certain age – remembers her infamous cameo/quote from the pre-turn of the century gay film festival darling, Trick. She shared her wisdom with us there, giving that entire generation of gays the 411 on the perils of getting semen in your eye…

So, yeah…that’s good to know if you’re some run of the mill Stupid American. But this gay guy didn’t need to be told that was an experience best skipped.

What can I say? I have uncommon knowledge as it turns out.

So, as entertaining as Coco is, whether in a cameo in Trick or Will & Grace or even my beloved Arrested Development…my love for her was cinched the first time I saw her “That bothers me” schtick on stage. There was a mental click when she stated it, so simple. It’s when it hit me that shit is gonna bother me, but screaming and yelling about it – tilting, if you will – is just gonna make me look like a crazy Don Quixote type. I can be bothered and still lead a relatively normal life.

Shut up, Everyone That Knows Me.

Moving on…

Oh, look! A story about the least present people on the planet! One whose headline tells me that basically, I already know everything that story has to offer.

I’ve long lamented the influence those people have over American culture and the direct influence they have in making our culture an increasingly frivolous and anonymous one.

They have simultaneously taught us to be vacuous while managing to keep us incessantly keeping up with them.

Not me, just to be clear.

I wouldn’t watch them hold hands and jump off a cliff…because, they bother me and could even prove annoying to me while doing something that was inherently a net positive for the world.

But, an unexpected side effect of the bother they add to my life is that they keep me present in not ignoring the things that matter in life like they seem to as a family. When I say “the things that matter”, I mean everything beyond their “me, me, me” behavior.

Meanwhile, back in WordPress Land, I just barf these amusing yet niggling annoyances of mine into the void and walk away. And it’s not like them there Kardashians…for me, it’s not about “the likes” here. WordPress is a group of people that want to write for the sake of creating, or educating, or entertaining…or, yeah, like me: therapy.

That said, I do like the likes and comments because they enhance the experience of writing for me. I tend to try – how noncommittal was that? I need a Yoda, “There is no ‘tend to try’ only tend or not tend” – to participate and interact with other writers that I follow to show them the same support and encouragement they show me. But since I follow about five dozen other writers, I often get behind and visit my half dozen favorites more than the rest.

Which is why seeing this today on one of my favorite writer’s blog posts kind of bothered me.

What’s missing in that red circle was the feedback buttons. This is another recent entry from her that demonstrates the usual set up:

This woman is a funny writer. She has a great voice and style and usually spells everything correctly. Isn’t it nice of me to blank out her name so you can’t go follow her?

What’s great to me is that she writes about being a mom and living in suburbia – two things that are far afield from my life experience – in a manner that draws me in and amuses me. She makes me understand and sympathize with her struggles…and chuckle along with her as she does her own screaming into the WordPress void.

The post that she turned off feedback buttons for was one of her funniest yet, in my opinion. It involved an improperly stored “lady’s little helper” that her son discovered next to her as she woke up.

Ok, we haven’t all been there, clearly. But just imagine the shargrin that people could have contributed in the comments. Because there’s for sure plenty of fun anecdotes out there, this I know.

Also, shargrin = Share + chagrin = Chrisism. It’s like the opposite of schadenfreude. Instead of enjoying someone else’s embarrassment, you empathize with them and share a similarly embarrassing moment.

Since shargrin is – basically – most of my life, I’m bothered to not be able to participate in this post. But also, it bothers me that she deprived herself of the opportunity to salvage her parental dignity by closing off comments. It’s like she tossed her story into the void and walked away from it.

That’s not very present.

But I still liked the post…I just think that the feeling of forgiveness she cost herself by not hearing her readers’ shargrin ultimately sold herself short. For the record, though, she was present where it counted most: helping her son understand his feelings about what he witnessed.

I guess, ultimately, that makes her a lot like me: not perfect, but present and accountable enough to bother trying to be better. The kids I had coffee with today gave me something that was an unexpected gift.

Try to be 1% better today than you were yesterday.

“Like…every day?”, I asked.

Yup!

“But that’s – like – a 400% improvement over the course of the year”, I whined.

Yup!

These two cheery motherfuc…I don’t need that type of positivity in my life. Do you know the damage that could do to old Whiny the Pooh?!? Later, they set me back in balance by sending me this

I got a good chuckle out of that. And that’s what motivated me to sit down and tap this out. We don’t have to be perfect or put on a show of false happiness to be good people. We just need to be aware enough of our own shit to be able to know the difference between how our actions affect others and the world around us.

Are you the shit or a shit?

Oh, Bother…

Free Money = Best Money

The Silver Fox started my day off with an email about National Coffee Day and I was off to the races. Like I needed an excuse. But, having slept a full eight hours off just one Mellie last night, my options were dwindling as far as execution on drinking coffee at 4 pm was concerned: f&b, my normal neighborhood outlet for coffee was closing at 4 and I’m low grade mad at most of the other coffeehouses for a variety of manufactured offenses…so Nossa Familia was the only option.

An option I’m not even upset with. Somehow, they moved two blocks further from me – literally from Johnson to Lovejoy in the Alphabet District – without raising my hackles. Credit their awesome coffee and baristas that are largely either tolerably hipster, cute Portland guys or brash and sassy young women. I’m ok with all of those things.

I’d showered at 5 when I got home and then watched the disappointing Wrinkle In Time movie while my hair dried, which was a fine way to end my work day. Still, my quasi urgent need for coffee to end my melatonin induced zombie walking fog meant a courtesy brushing of the teeth and a ball hat to hide my bedhead was the maximum effort I was willing to expend in getting presentable.

Even with that minimal prep time, I arrived at the cafe three seconds after the family of three trundled in the door to Nossa. I could have not picked up that penny I saw on the street to give myself the edge, but my grandmother taught me better than that! I could have also sped up in order to beat them in the door, but I hate for my competitive streak to be obvious.

I ended up slowing down for them to complete their entry maneuvers and silently – I think – groaned.

I stood back and waited for the inevitable “expresso” as two things became immediately clear:

First, this family of three had never ordered coffee in Portland before. Triangulating the cafes location compared to any nearby hotels – the closest is probably either the Residence Inn at 9th and Overton or the Canopy At 9th and Glisan…6 or 8 blocks, respectively – I decided that these people had just gotten off the streetcar that stops outside the cafe on Lovejoy.

A Canopy guest would just inherently know how to order coffee and something told me that the ~$100/night difference in room cost between the ResInn and a hotel five blocks away, across the river and by the Convention Center was a reasonable trade off for a family from – I’m guessing – a flyover state.

Forgive me, the caffeine hasn’t fully kicked in yet – I’m only about two shots into my quad- shot mocha – and I’m still grumbly from the Kavanaugh shenanigans on Cap Hill this past week…for which flyover state folk get a lot of credit. Nonetheless, I have no problem imagining why someone casually passing by this cafe would want to come in. It’s adorable and serves great bean juice.

But these people were not casually strolling by.

The cute appropriately hipster barista was giving me some serious empathy from behind his La Marzocco as the sassy young woman taking orders tried to not be sassy to these folk who would not get it.

Second – you thought I’d forget I was enumerating, didn’t ya? – the Dad was driving this trip to the cafe because he had to take a whiz.

He ordered a 16 ounce drip and then quickly started looking around for the bathroom while his wife and son ordered. It’s upstairs and through the shared vestibule, but I wasn’t going to volunteer that information.

This was about the time the cute, appropriately hipster barista decided to recreationally fuck with these people. Dad had ordered a drip and pretty much ran off, returning and trying not to look desperate about the time mom finished ordering a decaf iced mocha for their son and starting in on her own struggle of a coffee drink, so he missed out on the being fucked with.

There’s a sign at chest level telling you the current bean offerings for drip and espresso.

Poor mom was fixated on the drink menu above and missed this detail.

She ordered a light roast latte and our bored bean slinger asked her which bean she wanted since they don’t stop at light, medium or dark roast here in Portland. Shade grown or farm altitude can affect how beans taste, so can overall region or continent on which the farm is located, then the roasting enhances – or obliterates, in the case of Charbucks – the bean’s natural flavor.

This poor thing gave up and desperately decided to just get a drip, probably mentally chastising her husband for not going before they left the motor inn. Still, there’s two drip options, so the cashier got in on the fun and asked which she wanted. And, this does make a difference, especially with drip. If I’m getting drip, I want nutty and chocolatey notes over fruity in my cup.

I imagined I could see her skull pulsating as it built up to a regular old explosion – blindly picked a bean, from the espresso assortment.

I questioned whether that penny was really worth this experience.

“That’s the decaf, do you want decaf?”, the barista clarified.

Oh, no…I’ll take the Guatemala Timoteo.

Good job, mom! You picked the “light roast” that you originally wanted on your second guess. Unfortunately…it wasn’t a drip option.

I was actually beginning to feel bad for this woman as the barista offered to make her an Americano – which she would have loved. The hubby helpfully pointed out the two drip offerings as she picked the third espresso option. When the barista – I think feeling a little guilty now – offered to make that an Americano, too, she just collapsed and said, “Just give me what he had”, utterly defeated.

While this was spiraling, the barista had gotten my 16 ounce iced quad-shot hazelnut latte order and was starting it as he presented the son’s iced decaf mocha. I decided to throw her a bone and said, “Oooh, the chocolate whipped cream here is so good!”, providing her and her son with a nice shared tasting moment to take the sting out of what had just happened.

“Do you want some on yours?”, the barista attentively asked me.

I declined, excitedly declaring that that would be like a Nutella latte while mentally warming the boy about the dangers of paying me too much attention.

I’m old, I get confused.

So, what does all this have to do with free money?

Well, while finding the penny on the way over was a net zero experience – since in my idle time watching this coffee house drama unfold I was lamenting the good old days in Shittatle when I would find random $20s blowing across the street – I was getting a free drink today. On my last visit, our appropriately hipster, cute barista had “punched me up” on my punch card for no reason, so my next – this – drink was free.

Oh, no! I accidentally made you a mocha!

Earned me this

I can re-pull the shots!

“No worries”, I told my cute little barista, “as long as it’s a quad-shot, everything else is just a delivery system!” I don’t know why I was so chipper.

Oh, yeah…a cute boy was paying me attention. That is apparently better than any number of espresso shots.

Finally tally – and the day has just begun for me: one cent, a free coffee and two tokens for free drinks in the future. It’s not a $20, but at $18.01, including tip, that’s as close as I’ve gotten in Portland. A penny is still better than nothing, right?

Somewhere on the web is a post from my original blog called Rolling Twenties detailing my lucrative wanderings in Seattle.

Good luck finding it.

Free Money = Best Money

Phone Shaming

Ok, I’m the biggest proponent of setting a cell phone aside and connecting in person.

<looking at you, Silver Fox>

That said, I give in to the LTE charms of my device frequently and other times downright fail at simply focusing on the moment at hand when with my friends. Still, I oftentimes intentionally flip my phone face down – since I have no boyfriend – in order to make the most of the time I spend with Chosen Family and persons of friendly interest.

That doesn’t stop my beautiful friends from seizing a moment to bust. my. chops when they are gifted an opportunity.

Not recently, by any means, The Fox and I were meeting Little Buddy and her 2.0 at The Big Lebowski and what happens too often…happened. I was walking my two block commute alone, as gawd intended, and they – unbeknownst to me – were parking.

I get to the bar and am greeted with an assortment of stories on the struggle of parking in the Pearl District that were all punctuated with some sort of “and then I saw Galbs walking through the park with his phone in his face”.

Ok, I do that but I assure you that I have reasonable situational awareness the entire time! Trust me, I’d loathe encountering someone who can’t accomplish this obsessive/addictive multi-tasking, so I try to be vigilantly aware when I’m doing it…although my awareness – unsurprisingly? – and admittedly does not extend to people searching for parking.

That said, you just know I have stories.

I was reminded of this shituational conundrum today while innocently waiting for a barista to manufacture a half dozen shots. I’m in Sunriver – my heaven on Earth, but don’t tell everyone because the last thing I want is to see this lil high desert resort in Oregon overrun by people – and had just hit the halfway point on a high desert resort version of an urban hike with my sister, bro-in-law and aunt. We decided – no, predecided at the outset of our hike – to get a coffee at Brewed Awakenings as a reward.

My bro-in-law and I ordered, then he took some water outside for his pooch while I waited.

Left unattended, out came my phone.

“The Instagram will not be ignored, Dan!” – the bitchy guy that walked up behind me.

He wasn’t even super-bitchy. Just your basic passive-aggressive Portland BS…so how can I even complain?

My blog, that’s why.

I’m waiting by the counter with my back to the door – and a good three feet betwixt myself and either the register or the door. I’m ready for new customers coming in behind me or existing patrons approaching the barista for seconds.

But that won’t stop our intrepid Portland-y version of Spalding Gray looking grumpapotamus motherfucker that walked in behind me.

I chose this particular picture for two to three reasons, depending on how you tally.

First, I know this wasn’t the late, great Spalding Gray because he passed himself away in 2004.

Second, since he did suicide himself, I found the quote in the photo…intriguing.

And third, I forgot the third reason.

Anyway.

Zombie Spalding Gray walks in behind me and I know it when I hear, “Heaven forbid we put down our devices for a moment” as he walks by me, completely not at all impacted by my or my phone’s presence. I just look at him and choose to not be a dick – for once – by replying, “I just took my phone out of my pocket for the first time in almost an hour, Oldie Hawn”.

Because I’m mature.

The funny thing is, he had earbuds in his ears.

The shooting spree in ‘Murica thing is, he didn’t buy anything.

Rat bastard.

But at least he passive-aggressively sniped at me as he passed by. I’d hate to know that he had to pay for therapy to cure what mentally ails him.

The really funny thing was that I’d literally just explained to my aunt maybe a mile back how everyone in Sunriver was always super nice-ish, greeting you whenever your path crossed theirs. We’d passed several other guests during our walk and without fail, received a kind verbal greeting from them. My aunt, leading us past a group of construction workers working on bike path improvements, had even greeted the workers as we passed by.

She’s from Texas, but overall a pretty nice person in her own right. But her greeting of the non-big-haired-blue-collar-types has led me to share the story of the openly friendly behaviors that Sunriver offers.

I’m not gonna lie, I think it’s because there are literally zero minorities here and people are just letting their guard down.

I also think they have zero awareness that that is why they are doing it. And they look so proud of themselves for being so friendly. I really hate to judge their motivation.

Yet, I haven’t let that stop me from surmising their hopefully unconscious M.O.

Stupid Americans.

Then, there’s the Lady on the Bike.

And, trust me…she was no lady.

I had just left my condo in the Park Blocks and was checking my phone to react as needed to any alerts. I’d just woken up and donned a hat to cover my bed head so I could venture out for provisions for a lazy day. I was still in my slept in, wrinkled tee shirt and cut off sweat pants, and, yeah…freeballing in public after a short night.

I just wanted a Monster.

At least I had bothered to brush my teeth.

Sidebar: the whole time I’ve been writing this, there been an owl hooting intermittently outside my window. I’m not gonna lie, at first I thought it was one of my relatives getting down.

Apparently, I need to get laid so I can stop projecting my lewd thoughts onto hapless wildlife.

Anyway, I allow myself the distraction of deleting junky emails in the block from my place off Flanders to the busier arterial surface street of Everett. Then I drop my phone to my side and wait for a break in traffic.

When it’s safe to cross without feeling like I’m in a game of Frogged, I proceed….only to be stopped before reaching the far corner by an old hippie lady riding her bike across the side street.

From sidewalk to sidewalk.

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that cyclists in Portland are expected to ride on the street and follow the basic rules of the old road.

Not this broad. Nor far too many e-scooter riders, but that’s another story. That I’ve already told. LOL.

“Of course, I wouldn’t expect you to put down your phone” she says under her wheeze as she peddles onto the sidewalk I should be walking onto. Mind you, I’m standing in one of the two busiest East/West streets in the Pearl while she breaks basic traffic laws.

But I have my phone in my hand, so it’s ok. Thank gawd I could save her the trouble of executing me, since I’m not a person of color.

I made it safely onto the far sidewalk with only a minimal lark left by her white privilege. But…still, I couldn’t shake the whole feeling of entitled victimization her attitude levied upon me.

Surrealiously.

Any moron with a minimum of accountability should know to shut up when riding their bike on the sidewalk. That she didn’t is surprising…but not at surprising as the ease with which she projected blame on to me for her transgression.

The Pearl is on the cusp of a huge project two blocks from my home. The 9 block parcel that houses Portland’s main Post Office building is scheduled to be torn down and redeveloped into nine blocks of housing…operations there have already scaled back. It’s really just a parcel service counter and PO Boxes these days. Sorting and bulk delivery have moved to their new location, meaning that the major truck traffic I’d grown used to on Pearl District streets has been diverted and eliminated as those businesses are re-routed to the new base of operations.

This chunk of land was even the major part of the Portland Design Commission’s submission to Amazon for its second world HQ – although, I’m pretty sure the PDC didn’t want to be seriously considered.

It was a self defense submission. Kinda like registering for a crock pot on your wedding wish list: it’s expected and if you don’t at least tell people what you’re willing to accept in a crock pot…you’re going to get screwed. And you’re also going to get five crock pots from your crackpot friends with the best intentions.

So, PDC threw in a bid do they could at least say that they participated.

For the briefest flicker of a moment, I missed the semi trucks bound for the Post Office. While this judgy, deflecting cyclist could capriciously disregard my presence…the old normal Post Office traffic would have reduced her to road pizza.

I’m not okay with that idea, per se. But I am aware that change in our country is going to come from people abandoning their “me first” mentality and living as a part of a whole, America. People who can’t do that, including the Trumpster Fire at the White House, should self select out.

Of life.

Let’s all go out and do something nice today, for no other reason than to just make an effort to change our collective culture. I know this will be easy for most of my readers, because based on your previous comments, I know I have great people reading my drivel.

Thanks for that! And thanks in advance for helping me to pay it forward by being a part of the solution to our country’s brokenness.

Phone Shaming

People…

When people get on my nerves, I try to do something intentionally nice to make up for my general grumpiness.

Case in point:

I wandered out for a little dinner this afternoon and ended up at Laughing Planet, a few blocks from my house. It’s kinda a nice treat for myself. Super flavorful but healthy food.

Right across the hall from Hot Lips Pizza – well, more a gauntlet than a hallway for yours, fatly – so getting there was a victory in and of itself.

I’d been to coffee with the Silver Fox, where he spent some time on my favorite topic to not bitch about: e-scooters. Everyone else has the topic covered for me, so I can just effortlessly absorb the outrage.

So I’m standing between the two doors at Laughing Planet waiting to order when I realize there’s a woman at the other door. Since I’m only pretty sure that I was first, I let her go first, after asking if she was ready.

“I think so! Thank you!”, she says, bouncing her toddler on her hip. Her hubby and other child had just taken off for Hot Lips after making their plans to order and regroup.

This lady gets to the counter and then pulls a menu out of the holder, contrary to all things “ready“. In case I missed that maneuver, she then proceeds to ask multiple questions about substitutions, complete her order, add an entire second entree – with additional questions so extra that the associate has to go ask a co-worker for an answer, interrupting his lunch break – to her order, then tell the counter person to wait while she runs across the hallway to get a coupon from her husband’s phone.

This fucking bitch.

I’m getting hangry at this point, so I don’t step aside as she tries to pass by me in the doorway.

Her husband comes back with her to show the coupon and I kind of feel bad for her, this mother of two with the husband that won’t allow her unsupervised access to his phone.

But that’s just my defective brain.

Once they’re finally settled up, the woman turns around and mouths “Sorry!” at me, dramatically.

I keep mentally repeating my order to myself and give her this face:

While thinking this:

In my defense, in addition to the aforementioned hangry, it’s been a taxing weekend of people.

The e-scooters.

Art in the Park is happening as it does every Labor Day weekend, the park being my front yard. Art being an excuse for Stupid Americans to aimlessly mill around and ruin my grass.

Seriously, I haven’t seen this many straight men tagging along behind their female counterparts since my last Indigo Girls concert. My thoughts are the same: the women are nesting and creating a sense of relationship; the men are putting in their time, hoping this somehow leads to sex.

In addition to hoping to spread their genetics, these people are here capriciously spreading their excessive bridge and tunnel-ness. On my way to Laughing Planet, I watched a large group of people jaywalk against a walk signal. I’ve no problem with jaywalking, I simply prefer to do so mid block and on the diagonal. It’s convenient and prevents what I witnessed from happening: this large group paraded onto the far corner just as the pedestrian with the right of way arrived, but instead of altering their pace or trajectory, meandered carelessly onto the curb while the legit pedestrian stood in a traffic lane.

Nice.

After all of this within a 20 minute timeframe, I leave Laughing Planet with my to-go bowl. Just as I walk out into the hallway, my eyes run into the table across the hall. There are three people eating pizza and I see one of their heads split completely in half, Pac Man style as he tries to chew and simultaneously tell his story.

That takes care of my appetite.

Fortunately, as I arrived home, I was greeted by the sight of artists packing up their damn tents and getting out of the park. Tomorrow morning, life returns to its tolerable normalcy.

Thank gawd.

But I’m left with the feeling that I need to make a point of doing something nice for someone…

People…