Well, That Was A Surprise

You know, when I tapped out my quick observational post yesterday about misspellings and malapropisms, I really didn’t expect much to come of it.

~150 words

~400 followers

It just didn’t seem like anything more than therapeutic whining into the web on my part. And it’s not like I’ve ever expected AtLeastIHaveAFrigginGlass to have a viral moment. My readers read me for what I assume is either entertainment or cautionary tale on their part.

Plus, I’m not a millennial. In my day, having a viral moment could have killed me. Still might, thanks to anti-vaxxers.

True to the norm of my form, I got a few likes, some comments here on WordPress and a few of the same over on my blog’s lil Facebook page. I guess it was the range of the comments that struck me; topical and emotional range.

Frustration.

Location.

I mean, this was just a couple careless and unguarded moments of intelligence fail.

But then I also got texts.

Friends telling me they know they need to proof their texts now before sending them – one called out specifically before sending them to me – or reminding me that I know that they know that they don’t proofread their texts. Hell, my best friend and I have that conversation in some way, shape or form weekly – it’s not like it’s a deal breaker for our friendship, it’s more a source of amusement.

FYI, for his part, the Silver Fox tried to guess who the “ethnically” challenged person was.

But I felt like some comments were a reminder of where I was way back when my friends first started calling me out for my grumpiness. I hashtagged my post with #StupidAmericans because that’s the theme it fit. I remember how…angry I used to get about the embarrassingly stupid things I would observe people doing in their daily lives. Maybe not so much angry as just so surprised that I had a physical as well as emotional reaction to the situation.

It would almost always fade to a sad, shocked amusement at the state of intellect in America. Now I think my observational reaction is more resigned.

Yup. Still dumb.

Without investing too much effort into quantifying whether our trajectory is toward more or less dumb or maybe even holding a steady level of stupid.

C’mon, though…more stupid is clearly the correct assumption here.

Take it from Antoine.

I think – other than defensiveness, and you know who you are! – that the responses that were loudest involved overcompensated people in the workplace. Hell, there was enough material about workplace nincompoops to take the qualifier out of that and just call them People Who Are Shockingly Holding Down A Job.

What do we expect, though?

I saw a text this morning that was something to the effect of:

People today will never know the terror of printing out directions from MapQuest and then making a wrong turn, “Too bad, now you’re lost forever!”

It’s true, too. When we miss a turn in our Nav apps, it reroutes us without even telling us we missed it.

I joke with The Fox often that I don’t need a brain, I have a phone.

Occasionally, I’m surprised to find myself in a situation where I’m discussing something with a group of friends and realize that we are collectively trying to reason something out or recall a fact. More surprising than collaborating on the answer is that none of us reaches for our phones to get the answer.

I actually enjoy those moments. There aren’t enough of them – they also give me hope.

Aside from technology dumbing us down, there’s the foundational effect of our country’s family erosion.

Kids aren’t raised by a parent anymore, well…not actively raised. Let alone raised by a co-habitating (I know, not a word!) set of parents. I think most parents get through the day with a silent prayer that their kid remained self-guided for the duration of their workday. When they interact, it’s more as friends or equals – a parenting flaw of convenience for the parent.

I mention that because I used to watch my sister and brother-in-law parent their son and talk to him like an adult to elevate his thought process and social skills. Now, I think parents talk to their kids like friends or peers in order to be the cool mom or reach backward for relevance so their kids can help keep them remain cool.

I remember seeing an Albert Finney movie once, just a story about growing up. One of his daughters is talking to him about their relationship and he says something like, “I never really thought of you kids as children”.

She asks what he considered them and he replied matter of factly, “Pets”.

I was amused by that situation, but never thought of a future where that would be the high water mark for quality parenting.

At least the master/pet relationship has a hierarchy. Sure, in my own, Myrtle is the Alpha…but there’s still rules and consequences. And when she does something wrong, she knows it was wrong. It’s written all over her smug little cat mug.

School is government funded daycare.

Teachers don’t teach anymore. They are still way under compensated for what they endure, managing to somehow come out of the worst professional situations still sane after playing relationship counselor between parents and kids at best and defense against a united parent/child front at worst.

United in denial, by the way.

Because more often than not in school, we aren’t learning English and grammar or math and science…and most certainly not cursive.

We’re learning how to get away with things and what to do when we fail to get away with something.

That what to do part? Form an alliance with our parent – by manipulating them – against the teacher. Getting busted is as much an indictment of ones parent as it is an inconvenience to the student. It seems parents respond emotionally to that inconvenience with anger toward the teacher for interrupting their day versus disappointment in their offspring.

How can that system manufacture humans who are prepared to face the world armed with a baseline knowledge of the proper use of there/their/they’re let alone be productive members of a world culture.

Have you ever asked yourself whether the apps we use make life better or easier?

I think there is an absolute difference.

Take mating apps disguised as dating apps – because they are such an easy target, sure – as a perfect example. Getting sex has become easier, because it’s now a la carte.

Some people go into the app looking for sex exclusively.

Shooting fish in the proverbial barrel.

Others go into the app with hope and then abandon hope and take sex as their consolation prize when dates don’t materialize. Let’s not kid ourselves, though…they don’t abandon hope so much as they do their values. Every time they give it up for a stranger, you know in the back of their heart is a timid voice singing Maybe This Time.

Newsflash: Probably not. Maybe next time, though…

Sometimes I have to remind myself what my goal was when I wrote my first book – No One Of Consequence.

Money.

I mean…empowering a reader. It was important to me for a couple of reasons.

First: Gays used to be fabulous. Now, we’re frivolous. A friend posted this on my Facebook timeline this morning.

I love this friend. She’s funny and bold and generous and caring and she’s a survivor.

In this case, she was also wrong. But thirty or even twenty years ago, she would have been right.

But then AIDS decimated gay culture. What we managed to cobble together to replace it wasn’t better, it just wasn’t nothing. Speaking of trajectories…it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it still wasn’t actually good.

So, yeah, my book took on the challenge of showing gays reaching back to elevate newer generations of gay men and help make them into citizens we can be proud of. It’s an example of what we should do for one another as people – not just as a gay subculture.

Second, I spent a lot of time being angry about Stupid Americans. We became so insular. Not just as a country, but as individuals.

Our protective bubbles became insecurity condoms: skin tight and hopefully impervious to anything that might harm us – but hopefully still allowing us to feel good in the <ahem> end.

When I gave up – as I was just on the verge of accepting my relegation to a post relevance existence – something actually happened. This story became a higher purpose in and of itself. I could use this story as a platform to show examples of how to be an individual without that individuality coming at a cost to another or to society as a whole.

After yesterday, realizing the true arc of my grumpiness, from frustrated, powerless observer to an observer who funneled that negative emotion into something…I’m left feeling grateful.

That I could contribute something to this and future generations and loosely call it art.

That a few people actually read what I have created.

Shameless plug: I’m still accepting new readers, generous reviews and shares across social media to expand upon that reach!

And that I may have channeled my frustration into what I hope is also a change in my own behaviors so that I can be a better passive example to others.

Maybe someday we’ll be at a level where I could respond to my text message from yesterday with a message like

I think the words you were looking for were “there’s” and “ethically”.

…without ending up blocked or the recipient’s default being to take that statement as offensive.

As I learned yesterday, though, those friggin’ emotional condoms that we never seem to take off work. When I left the guy yesterday, I got the distinct impression I’d never see him again. So now I’ve got to figure out whether the Universe has simply given me what I wanted all along – to not be dating a 20-year old – or if I’m supposed to continue to gently urge the guy toward an emotionally bareback* existence that he understands is safe and nurturing and not hostile.

*Just in case it needed clarification, “bareback” is a slang term for sex without a condom.

Well, That Was A Surprise

Going Out Of Business!

Portland Edition.

I went out on a lil urban hike yesterday morning and was confronted by the reality of a frequently occurring conversational topic of late: commercial real estate in Portland.

The rug shop on the corner across from my place is closing. Well, is closed.

Just as a reminder, I live in a neighborhood called The Pearl which is nestled in the Alphabet District of Portland’s Northwest neighborhood. Essentially, this neighborhood runs from Burnside to Lovejoy streets from North to South and from Broadway to 8th to Park and then 9th-13th on the East to West streets.

It’s an 8×11 street grid.

There is/was three rug shops within that grid, so “How many rug shops do you need in that small area?” is a valid question.

Here’s one of the survivors, which was forced to move from its original location a few years ago to make way for a 14 story, half a city block apartment building that is finally nearing completion.

I’m not complaining. Once this is done early next year, my immediate area will wrap up its fourth major building project over the last four years. That’s two new hotels and two new apartment buildings that added about 500-700 new neighbors and countless tourists to my corner of the world.

Until the Post Office project begins in god knows when, I’m in the clear, construction-wise.

Interestingly, the opposite corner of my block (shown above) rented nearly a year ago and just recently opened. It’s a rowing studio, which upset the Filipina Fox greatly, since she and her husband were planning – still are – to open a row studio. But if you got clients that are too lazy to walk into class, you’re probably better off not even bothering to open.

At least they are friendly. Homegirl gave me a nice friendly smile and wave.Still, it goes back to my earlier question, how many <insert business here> does one small part of town need?

When it comes to gyms, I can think of too many:

The grand daddy of the OGs, 24 Hour. It’s been here since well before the turn of the century. Another OG – LA Fitness – came in a decade and a couple blocks later.

There’s now City Row, Yo Yo Yogi, Pearl Yoga, Firebrand, Barre 3, Bar Method, RevoCycle, BurnCycle and countless CrossFit studios within my tiny grid. Including one that moved into this site for about an hour.

But fitness and rugs aside, this whole conversation started with a few notable business closures.

Namely, Pearl Bakery and Henry’s Tavern with an honorable mention to Byways Cafe.

Pearl Bakery had been in its current location for 23 years, serving up fresh baked breads and pastries as well as top notch coffee the entire time. It was a Pearl landmark.

Henry’s, on the other hand, could arguably be said to have been here in the Pearl since before there was a Pearl to be in.

Henry Weinhard’s started brewing beer here in 1906 and I know people just a few years younger than me whose parents worked there. It was bought by AB a few decades ago and brewing operations were consolidated elsewhere sometime after that. In the 90s, the brewery was redeveloped into a founding corner of the a Pearl called the Brewery Blocks, which enveloped the block that Powell’s sits on and also included a couple of condo and apartment buildings The Henry and The Louisa, named for Weinhard and his wife. One of the old brick buildings was remodeled and became home to Henry’s Tavern, run by the recently relegated to the annals of bad business Restaurants Unlimited. Still, RI was snatched up by Landry’s and there was hope that the namesake restaurant in the Pearl’s Brewery Blocks would be spared the axe.

Alas.

Still, you gotta wonder, if coffee and beer can’t make a go of it in one of Portland’s affluent destination living and shopping districts…hadn’t there got to be a bigger problem?

Henry’s is hardly the only brewery or taproom to face this fate.

Last year, Bridgeport shut down brewing operations in the Pearl and later closed its onsite restaurant.

Avid started its life as Atlas before being sued over copyright infringement and forced to rebrand. It opened last year in one of the two nearby apartment building projects i mentioned.

On Deck will close permanently at the end of the year, putting the Pearl down a sports bar.

It was quite the summertime destination – for some, not me) with a rooftop that probably doubled its square footage. I think this business in particular struggled with a too common threat in the neighborhood these days:

Redevelopment

Rumors circulated for the better part of a year that this block was due to go under the wrecking ball to create a new mid-rise building. Office Depot occupied the other corner of the block and pulled out last year.

And while I am a supporter of housing density, the panic future development rumors create is detrimental to our present.

Indeed, my backup – and preferred – coffee house is on that block, you can just make out the red reflection of its “Open” sign in the picture above. As a matter of fact, Nossa is new to this block within the last couple of years, having moved from literally two blocks down when its former location came under the same redevelopment axe.

Yet, here its former location is. Empty as the rumors that helped facilitate its relocation. Also, some randomly occurring Jingle Bell runners.

But as in favor as I am of redevelopment, I think the overall benefit is mitigated by the negative impact of commercial real estate’s larger problem: greed.

Real estate – both commercial and residential is at a premium in Portland overall and more so in the Pearl specifically since it’s such a hub. So, for every new building that goes up, there’s at least one – if not two – large restaurant or retail spaces included in the new building as anchor spaces.

Case in point, The Rodney.

This apartment building was finished early this year and included a large restaurant space on the ground level. This corner is on Glisan, one of the two busiest one-way through-fares in the neighborhood. Including construction, there’s been over two years to lure a business into this spot. It’s next door to 10 Barrel Brewing and Rogue Brewing’s taproom restaurants and a block from Andina, another Pearl District restaurant mainstay.

That they can’t rent this space out is problematic. Then again, it took two years post-construction for City Row to open in the large space next to my building, so…

A bigger problem?

The building right across Glisan that should be complete and open early next year. Including what I assume will be at least one large restaurant space in its three corner spaces – it’s a big building.

Between these two buildings, we’re adding around another 750+ residents to the neighborhood…it shouldn’t be that hard to draw a business that can make a go of it here. As long as it’s not named something complementary-awkward to its neighbor. All we need is an apartment building named The Slice sitting across the street from The Rodney.

But large restaurant space is tricky. Even chain based restaurants can’t make a go of it. Back before RI went out, they snatched up Pacific Restaurants. This was back in 2007 and I believe – forgive me if I’m wrong – PR was an affiliated evolution of Farrel’s Ice Cream Parlors.

Between the two, they put successive restaurants into this Glisan corner space for decades.

It was home to Palomino and Trader Vic’s with at least one other incarnation from the brand’s portfolio in the mix. Then it sat empty for a couple of years before signage for a Pink Taco went up in the windows screaming about a new future.

Then silently came down.

More recently, the space has quietly announced a new tenant.

And apparently the low key nature of its announcement saved enough money for remodeling to actually begin this time around.

Meanwhile, on the opposite corner of that block, facing Hoyt, another of the Pearl’s pioneer eateries sits vacant after closing in the middle of the night a few years back. Oba! was an exciting happy hour destination and a swanky date night or celebration restaurant destination.

Then, poof!

Gone.

Ironically, another Pearl nightlife mainstay is rumored to have leased the space, but those rumors are growing stale after almost 18 months.

Jimmy Mak’s was a jazz venue in the Pearl since the days where there was only one or two industrial co-ops and maybe one condo building in the hood. Then they moved catty corner to a new location next to one of our three neighborhood rug shops.

Then, the rumors came.

Kush decided to move ahead of the demolition of its half-block. Jimmy Mak’s decided to close down once its owner’s cancer resurfaced. The farewell party was planned – a New Years Eve to Mark the end of the Jimmy Mak’s era.

On New Years Day Jimmy died. It was tragically sad and a simultaneously beautiful ending to the story.

Until…a couple of former employees decided to reopen Jimmy Mak’s in the Oba! space six months later. Another beautiful tribute to a legendary entertainment venue.

The “Leased” sign is up…but 18 months in, we’re still waiting.

Celebrity chef based restaurants aren’t faring any better than chain-backed ventures.

Isabel Pearl was a restaurant opened by cookbook author Isabel Cruz back in 2008. After a decade, plans for the San Diego based cookbook author cum restauranteur to expand into the old Gilt space a few blocks away on Broadway were announced.

Gilt was the space’s former tenant and is the restaurant made famous by the Colin the Chicken episode of Portlandia…

If you can’t stay in business with that pedigree…alas, instead of expanding to a second location, Isabel decided to “reimagine” their original Portland location.

A hand-drawn magic marker sign. I can see that no expense was incurred – at least they learned something from Pink Taco.

Speaking of which, maybe that’s the restaurant that should anchor the building across from The Rodney!

Here’s a few more spaces that recently transitioned:

The Star brings deep dish pizza to the space formerly home for tow decades to The Paragon. Hopefully, they enjoy a similar tenure.

Two Wrongs is a collaboration between a Portland bar/restauranteur and the marketing/brand master behind Portland Gear. They took over a former Black Rock coffee house to open a bar.

Here’s Byways, which I mentioned earlier. Fifteen years ago, this was Shakers Cafe. Both incarnations were kitsch themed diners and have occupied this space for…gosh, 25 years collectively? They announced their closure after failing to negotiate new lease terms with the building’s owner.

There’s that greed again.

That the Sheepskin shop that shares the building with Byways has outlasted them is truly mind boggling. And it’s not like the building is going anywhere. There’s a co-op on one side and a similar small building housing a taco joint and a kitsch decor store called Cult on the corner.

Taprooms aren’t the only alcohol based destinations to struggle. This space is in the building that the Silver Fox lives in. It sits on Everett – the other main through-fare in the Pearl used to House a wine bar called Remedy. They limped along for a couple of years before closing and one of the owners – who owned the commercial space – had it rezoned and remodeled into his private residence.ļæ¼

An old school shared office building (pictured top) closed up last year. It had been here forever. It featured a now whitewashed wall that formerly depicted a mural of home state hero Steve Prefontaine and a fun neon sign helpfully suggesting the proper use of ones time.

I’d like this mural restored, if they’re just gonna cover it over and then leave.

Come to think of it, I want the neon back, too! Maybe keeping the “Working” side lit would keep homeless people from camping in the doorway.

Given its billion dollar a year losing competitor across the park, I can see where it would be hard to compete successfully. But this is Portland. We’re supposedly hard wired to support the underdog. WeWork should not have won in this scenario.

Affluence doesn’t always guarantee success over commercial real estate greed, either. Opposite the corner housing Pearl Bakery – which started this whole ball rolling – was a Charter School. It had been there for quite some time, bringing kids into the Pearl’s North Park Block neighborhood. That was an add that even this grumpy old man appreciated.

The City even collaborated to renovate the old Park Block playground into this

Bit then the school decided to move – for whatever reason. Hmm…what could it be?!?

Greed?!?

Perhaps.

Maybe they just outgrew the building.Ok, ok…I know this is running long. I think I’m wrapping up. I mean wearing myself out.

Let’s compromise and call it both.

The corner pictured above used to be a favorite pre-turn of the century coffee haunt of mine called Torrefazione. I actually made it a hangout for my main character in No One Of Consequence.

Anyway, Starbucks bought the small chain out and then closed them all up! Talk about cutthroat.

The Torrefazione family responded by leasing the restaurant space in the new high rise condo that was built on the opposite corner and opened Caffe Umbria.

Take that Charbucks. The family’s roastery May be Seattle based, but at least one of the family members lives locally and drops in to watch soccer with his toddlers on the weekends.

It was a very Portland thing to do, protest opening a business like that…even if selling out wasn’t so Portland.

The three pics below all represent businesses being priced out or rumored out of their homes. The Beneficial Bank looks nice, right?

It should.

After being forced out of its home for a couple of years once it’s space was slated for a high rise residential project, it was welcomed back with a paint job. Seems funding may have hit a snag. Who knows? Anyway, score one for the little guys.

Snow Peak, on the other hand, is just beginning it’s rumor based adventure. There’s a new “Coming Soon” window sign up a few blocks away. It coordinates well with the rumor of a new mid rise building in its current spot.

What I can’t figure out, though, is the how of that mid rise rumor. The Snow Peak space sits between the aforementioned and newly remodeled Rogue Brewery space on one side and an architecture firm on the other side.

I’m kind of worried that the architect space will come down to make way – along with Snow Peak – for another high rise apartment building.

The rub?

It’s right across from The Rodney – so maybe that intersection isn’t out of the redevelopment woods just yet.

Even more surprising is the answer Snow Peak represents to my “How many” question from earlier.

Snow Peak is in the Pearl’s crowd of outdoor and cold weather clothiers.

REI, Nau, Fjallraven (with TWO locations in the Pearl!), North Face, Patagonia and Icebreaker…and I know that I missed some!

Ironically, for as persistent as outdoor clothing stores are in the Pearl, home stores don’t fare so well. The Tactics skateboard shop above is a new notion for a space that was a gallery and then a home store and then a home store and then nothing. Likewise, the brick warehouse across the street was a furniture store and the space across the alley was also a home store that became a CrossFit gym for an hour or so before settling into its current sweatpants and ponytail version of an empty space.

In a further fit of irony, the CrossFit space was subdivided when it was a home store to reduce the size of the shop and thereby the overhead. It was slated to become Jimmy Mak’s new home before the cancer resurfaced. Then it became an “event space”.

Let’s hope the Oba! space fares better. Eventually.

Design Within Reach expanded last year to the above space, leaving its old two-story space vacant.

It looks way more inviting now, so I’m glad. But it got me wondering.

Maybe the evolution/solution to our commercial real estate vacancies is going to be something that Design Within Reach, Snow Peak and Nossa Familia have all already learned – along with countless college students.

The way to control real estate expense is to move.

It may cost more in the short term, but overall you leverage the expense downward.

For everyone.

It forces the market price correction that is necessary to offset the empty space and make those spaces affordable. I mean, commercial real estate brokers could just do the right thing and re-write current leases.

But how likely is that?

The banks didn’t do it with mortgages during the real estate crisis until Obama forced them to. Somehow, I don’t see the commercial real estate industry doing the right thing here.

Then again, investment brokers are doing something similar right now, by cutting transaction fees all the way to $0. Iā€™m prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

Until then?

I wouldn’t mind seeing out city planners get a little more involved in approving all of this ground floor commercial space.

Or not approving it.

I think there’s a case to be made for more ground floor live/work space.

With the Pearl spanning 11 blocks on the North to South expanse, surely we could limit the commercial space on the ground floors to maybe 4-6 of those blocks? I mean, residence density is our goal here, not excess vacant commercial space.

We don’t need a brewery, yoga studio, flower shop or restaurant on every block.

I think the current situation has proven that.

Going Out Of Business!

Awkward Things I Did This Week

Ok, how this isn’t an ongoing theme for my blog…I just don’t know.

Maybe I should try making #ATIDTW a thing.

I realized after my walk this morning – doing prep for a larger entry tomorrow – that I was wearing mismatched socks. No biggie…it’s just a Saturday morning walkabout.

It was the second time this week. No, they weren’t the opposites of the other mismatched set. Yes, last time was a workday.

I guess I should be more careful about golfing laundry in dim lighting.

Or around wine.

I barely avoided sending a snarky email to the owner of the company I am consulting for the other day. I realized I had somehow chosen to “reply all” as I was proofreading it – I’ll explain what that means later, Silver Fox – and decided it was safer to just tell her in person.

In a small victory over my own awkwardness, I fell into my chair at work without spilling my coffee. I was attempting to sip coffee, hip-check my chair so it spun so that I could sit down and turn around all at the same time. My foot landed on one of the casters, sending me off balance as I turned and my chair skittering in the opposite direction from my vector.

I fell backward.

Somehow, I hit the chair.

Arms flailing.

Coffee sloshing but not spilling.

Thank gawd I was alone in the office, but I still looked to make sure not even the Chief Feline Officer was present to witness my derp.

No, neither of those three things – socks, reply all or near fall – happened on the same day.

I am only in the office three days a week, so I’m batting 1000 in the awkward department for this week.

I had a date this week. Someone I met online and decided to throw $20 at to see if he was as good in person as he was online.

He was!

A cute construction worker type. Maybe 5’8″, so right there in my shorty sweet spot.

And while he was an engaging conversationalist, he was also a good listener. Letting me prattle on about me-things while he listened attentively and encouraged me with relevant follow up questions instead of scrambling to get the conversation back to himself.

Turns out…he was 20!

Is. Fine.

Goddamnit!

While he was trying to sell me on the fact that he was almost 21, I was asking him if he voted in the last election.

“Nope. I wasn’t old enough, silly! But I’m voting in 2020, for sure!”

“Nono. In the midterms!”

Blank stare.

At least I came away from the encounter with something more upsetting to me than his age.

And to cap off my week in derp, I stopped on my walkabout this morning for a coffee. It was my backup coffee shop because it was geographically desirable, plus my primary shop opens at 9 on Saturdays and it was only 8-ish.

I haven’t been in in about a month because my Barista Boyfriend has a girlfriend now. Or at least he did last time I was there at the beginning of November. We were the only two people sitting on the mezzanine and he stopped by to kiss her.

No kiss for me, though. But fresh off a really good kiss (goddamnit!) from The Toddler yesterday, I figured there’s worse things than being fake betrayed by fake boyfriends.

“Oh my god! It’s been so long!” – Female Barista, Boyfriend Barista was looking on, smiling from behind his La Marzocco.

“Coma.” – Me

“You look all flush! How are you feeling now?” – FB

“I think it’s just walking in the cold. Or maybe my scarf is too tight! I miss Elvis, though.”

“That was a long coma…”

We went on to chat a bit more, then finally convincing me that I needed a hot coffee if I was going back out. Might as well be a peppermint mocha, too if it’s the only hot coffee of the season.

Winning argument.

I also found myself without my reusable bamboo straw, this being a spontaneous event. FB convinced me to get one of the metal straws, since it had a silicone tip and she could chew on it.

“Well, you can chew on the bamboo straws if you really want to.”

“P’shaw…I’m not a panda!”

“Whatever you say, Ping Ping.” – Me, in perfect deadpan.

That was the awkward, by the way….

“Well, I may be Chinese, but I’ll leave the bamboo chewing to the pros. I’ll still answer to Ping Ping, though, but only for you!” She gives her coworker a little side eye warning.

She was laughing, as was Boyfriend Barista and I thought Ping Ping could stick. Still, there I was…totally feeling like a latent racist for bringing panda names into the conversation with someone who turned out to be of Chinese heritage.

It registers on some level with me when someone is a POC. But that level is the same level as hair color.

Still, when race comes up, so does my guilt. Honestly, I couldn’t profile an Asian person’s race if there was a million bucks riding on it. For a cool mil, I might make a guess. Otherwise, I just don’t care.

One of my best friends is Philippino. Something I only remember because she nicknamed herself Filipina Fox. The Silver Fox’s daughter in law is Asian, but I have no idea what race. She’s from Las Vegas and Seattle, the end.

Anyway, with Ping Ping, I decided to ignore her race drop in and pivot. I segued to panda trivia.

“Did you know that it costs $10 million a year for China to loan out pandas? That’s per panda.”

“No! Really?”

“Yup. Key word: loan.”

“Goddamn. That’s quite a racket!”

“And any pandas born while they are on loan belong to China, not the host country! No anchor pandas allowed!”

The discussion went on from there, but I never got to impress them with the full extent of my panda trivia because people came in.

I’d bought my cool reusable straw –

– but I did manage an aside to my two-timing Barista Boyfriend as he topped off his latte art with a few dollops of chocolate whipped cream.

“Hey, if anyone asks for a loaner straw for their drink, charge them $10. Per drink, no free use on refills!”

“Right? Why should China have all the fun?!?”

I don’t think these things only happen to me. I do kinda think that it’s possible no one embraces their awkward with as much vigor as I do, though…

Awkward Things I Did This Week

Your Mental Health Posts…

To quote the prophet, Shania Twain?

Don’t impress me much.

And that’s coming from a recreational hypochondriac. Any given day of the week, I can probably self-(mis)diagnose the minorest of maladies.

But I do it on a lark and for my own entertainment…not sympathy.

Last Sunday, the Silver Fox and I went exploring up in Forest Park, Portland’s lush and gorgeous urban forest in the West Hills. There’s something like 40 miles of hiking trails there that will make you forget you’re in a city. We had wanted to see a new pedestrian bridge the city installed to keep Stupid Americans from running across one of Portland’s busiest streets – that is nothing but cars careening around blind curves at that point – to get from the Forest Park trails to the Washington Park trails.

Oh, we’ve got trails here, I tell ya.

Well, short story long, I twisted my knee. I self-diagnosed with a sprain. The next day, as I hobbled up the stairs into work, my colleague pointed out that I may have torn my ACL and then goes into my bleak prospects for a normal life.

Damn it! He’s probably right…

So I prepared myself for the inevitable amputation.

I’m walking fine, now…for the record. But don’t let that stop you from sending get well cash – er…cards.

Like I said, though, my self-diagnosing is purely recreational.

Turning to social media, though?

There’s dipshits that should be running an asylum running amok in social media instead, self-diagnosing with anxiety and depression.

This pisses me off.

First, there are people really suffering from these mental health issues.

Second, being too lazy or hungover to get ready to go somewhere and meet friends or go to work isn’t anxiety, it’s…well…laziness.

Not that some of these people may not have a legitimate claim – regardless of who diagnosed it. But what are they doing about it?

Seeking treatment? šŸ‘šŸ½

Seeking sympathy on Facebook? šŸ‘ŽšŸ½

Show.

Me.

The.

Rx.

Seriously, if you need help…get it. I’m all for it! I’ve been to therapy many times in my life and it’s extremely beneficial. I also know that because of the stigma of weakness around mental health, the people who get help are the bravest of folk.

We need to talk about mental health to remove that stigma from getting mental help so that it becomes a healthy norm…like going to the gym. Now that I mention it, if the people incessantly going to the gym got treated for their narcissism and body issues (I can “self”-diagnose others, too), the world would probably be a much better place because people around them wouldn’t be so anxious or depressed.

Hmmm.

But I digress, it’s one thing to be anxious. That does not mean you have anxiety.

Just like if I go to the gym once, I don’t have abs.

Likewise, just because you find yourself depressed does not equate to having depression.

Kind of how when someone takes a good selfie and posts it to Instagram, they aren’t a model.

Anyone need a moment after that gut punch?

Good.

When you cavalierly mis-use those terms, you do a disservice to those legitimately suffering their way to mental health. You’re not raising awareness, you’re trivializing someone else’s pain.

Knock it off.

Your Mental Health Posts…

Post

I’ve had this notion in draft mode for about 9 months now, so I suppose it’s about time I pushed this baby out.

Nine months ago, I flippantly said to a friend,

I’m not doing that. I’m post-that.

I think it was the Silver Fox and I think he was suggesting we go to the gym…specifically so he could get into hiking shape for his then upcoming six-week shuffling through Europe trip.

Post-that.

It was a time in my life where I’d been scratching at the professional employment door for the better part of a year like an unwelcome cat.

I was mentally preparing myself for an upcoming summer of gorgeous PNW weather…and dreading the main outdoor physical activity available to me being cycling.

I thought about it for a bit and wondered what my motivation really was.

This old Groucho Marx quote:

I don’t want to be a member of any club that would have me as a member

It kept popping up in my mind and casually in conversation. It got to the point where I had to acknowledge it; aka: obsessively think about it.

Admittedly, I didn’t come up with the answer. I think ruminations like this evolve over time. What is important to get to – for me – was the core value that was anxiously raising its hand to say something just outside my figurative peripheral vision.

I’d been applying for jobs I wanted with companies I wanted to work for and maybe getting interviews, maybe not, definitely not getting hired.

When that didn’t work, I changed my focus and broadened my search to jobs with companies I didn’t necessarily want to work with, but knew I could meet the job expectations. Surprisingly, I got the same results. More surprisingly, I was offended at being rejected by companies I held in low regard.

It all reminded me of how true my dating/interviewing analogy has always been. The way you (should) put your best foot forward in either situation, learn about the “opportunity” and then mutually decide whether it’s a good match. Ideally, both parties reach the same decision.

<pause to glare at millennials>

Moving on.

But where do I move on to from there? That scenario – thanks to my own analogy – encompasses dating, too. There I was, kind of at the massive intersection of Work, Romance & Fitness Boulevards and I didn’t want to cross any of them.

Fortunately, I didn’t want to jump into traffic, either. I think that’s a good sign.

I really couldn’t tell if I was broken or protesting. It’s probably worth noting that this overlapped with my nine month haircut hiatus. My mother had gone from niggling at me to get a haircut to being envious of my natural hair flip to quietly telling me that my dad would like to see me get a haircut.

That last one kind of got to me and I started mentally preparing myself to face a haircut. It also got me thinking that maybe what motivated me to work was making my parents proud.

I kicked that one around for a bit.

Then I remembered that my parent’s pride in me seems innate, not earned. It was a realization that made me feel truly fortunate.

I’d written a book that literally dozens of people read.

My parents were proud of me.

I’d taken any job I could get – perhaps the only – just to get off my couch and do something.

My parents? Still proud.

So working professionally to please my parents wasn’t the answer.

Maybe I was asking the wrong figurative question, then?

I wandered back to dating. And quickly ran away from that notion. I’d have to be pretty self-loathing to expose myself to that group of people for answers. Because the answer to the collective question – What are you looking for? – for folks in the dating pool is not

Y’know, an old, out of shape dude who’s adrift and underemployed. Yeah, that’d be nice.

But what I did remember was my dating bar. I expected people I dated to enhance my happiness.

Not make me happy.

Certainly not erode my happiness.

That got me thinking that I should absolutely apply that same bar to my work life.

Then I remembered that I had and quit my last job because it was absolutely eroding my happiness.

And just like a shit boyfriend, behaved the same way when I pointed it out.

I had started this exercise where I’d admitted I didn’t know the answer. I was now at the point where I’d searched for an answer and not found one.

You know where that left me?

Fucking religion.

Can you believe that?

Who answers your prayers?

God?

I’d long ago put my faith in myself. Not god.

Then I’d spent a few decades letting people take it away from me.

Bosses.

Customers.

Boyfriends.

Maybe I should just reach out and take that faith back?

I mentioned earlier that I wrote a book that “no one” read.

Y’know what? That didn’t bug me.

I’d written a book!

That realization made me feel good.

Good about myself and that accomplishment that “few” achieve. Well, few people, but hundreds of monkeys – if you put them all in a room together with a typewriter.

But it also made me realize that there were people in my life urging me to do it for a decade.

Just a few.

Not even a gang.

They were never in the same room together and maybe only once crossed paths on the same Facebook thread.

But they were there.

Just like my parents.

Maybe the answer I was looking for was actually those few voices that spoke up but were drowned out by the constant droning white noise of everyone else.

I realized that those few voices were coming from the people I wanted to hear.

Needed to hear, honestly.

The sincere people in my life.

But I’d been conditioned to listen to the masses and their collective white noise voice.

That voice, however, was like the Great and All-Powerful Oz.

Big and loud, but behind it? Just a curtain hiding small, scared individuals.

I was over trying to get through to “them”, they didn’t listen, anyway. Without listening, there’s no conversation…just one-sided talk.

I decided I was over that.

Postthat.

Post screaming into a void and expecting an answer.

Job boards.

Dating apps.

Gyms with mirrors that reflected only negative extremes: what was perfect or what was imperfect.

Declaring myself post allowed me the luxury to do what I wanted for my own satisfaction, not to meet the expectations of an undefined group of faceless people.

To find my own satisfaction.

Hell, to first define satisfaction for myself and start there.

And in finding the faith in myself to set that bar, I felt empowered and optimistic…and it was sustained for the first time in years. But it makes me think that stripping it down to that level will allow me to arrive at a place where the definition I have for happiness overall is stronger than any I’ve had before. I’m not standing there asking some company or stranger-I’m-fucking-and-calling-it-dating for a sign off on my happiness.

I’m doing my own happiness; specifically giving my time to activities and people that enhance my work-in-progress happiness.

And you know what?

Now I want to do the things that I was post-doing before.

So, that’s a pretty good place to end up.

PS: my favorite Groucho quote? Well, since you didn’t ask…

Go read a book!

Post

Point Galby

I mean, point taken.

The Silver Fox pointed out after my post this morning that it’s the first time I’ve posted since he abandoned me – er, left on his six week vacation back on September 16th.

He didn’t specify the year, but it seems like about a decade since he left.

Between that and this insane grind I’ve been on since around the end of July, my routine has been pretty erratic. Hell, even my self care has been off.

Side note: I’ve got to figure out a way to reference these jobs I’m doing in a shorthand format. It’s crazy trying to keep them straight in my own mind. I can’t imagine it’s any easier reading them without much context.

For ease of reading – I hope – I think I’ll refer to them by number, in the chronological order in which they came to me:

Job 1: writing.

Job 2: Peterson’s, aka – the convenience store. Surprisingly not the worst paying at Oregon’s minimum wage of $12.50/hr…see Job 1.

Job 3: the temp HR job, which is looking pretty good for the temp-to-hire scenario.

Job 4: Lyft, aka – The Verb.

Job 5: Postmates.

Side note, squared: I’ve got to divest myself of a job or two. The thing is, I tried resigning from Job 2 three weeks ago and it was somehow rejected. There was a deal that lasted a week until I got a “Can you pick up an extra day?” Luckily, that ended up being unnecessary, but I’ll admit that I’m passively trying to get fired now by actively disobeying a rule here or there.

So far, no dice.

Anyway, to address the Silver Fox’s point, I have begun doing little mini-workouts over the last few weeks at home. Just two or three times a week, nothing major. There’s a draft called Post in my pipeline that kind of elaborates on that and my In Living Color Jamaican Skit worthy number of jobs…but I started it as part of that game I mentioned playing earlier today. Alas, I “lost” that round and got a ride before I finished it.

So, today I had ended up with a draw in The Game – finished the blog entry after failing my initial mission to retrieve my laptop.

Made $100 in three hours, so let’s really acknowledge that this was a win.

To honor The Fox, I took my self-care up a notch. I addressed the brown thumb situation that is my balcony pot garden.

Calm down, mother. The other kind of pot.

What a friggin’ mess. Such a waste of a summer planting opportunity. As a matter of fact, I’d go as far to say that the only plant out there was Ollie the Olive Tree. The Hens & Chicks and the sedum in the second pic are barely clinging to life and everything else that could be considered as plant life has pulled a Carol Anne and walked toward the damn light.

To that end, I took my hun from this morning and parlayed some of it into a few plants. Honestly, I’d been thinking about it since this morning. My second ride was to drop a guy off at his car, which was parked at the Home Depot.

Ok, here’s how driving frequently goes – and I’ll be honest, the cyclical/coincidental nature makes me question whether the Universe is putting signs in front of me…

Ride 1: dropped Sweatpant Guy at the airport.

Ride 2: took a guy back to his aforementioned car parked at the Home Depot by the airport.

At this point, I start to think,

Aight. It’s gonna be an airport-type day.

Ain’t nothing wrong with that. Especially on a Saturday, when the traffic isn’t bad. The run only takes 20 minutes and if you get tipped, it’s about a $20 journey.

But then nothing happens.

I had made a comment to my second passenger that maybe I should look at some plants while I was there, but didn’t feel like dropping money on plants at that point. I play The Game all the way across town to the office of Job 3, pick up my laptop and had just stashed it in the back of Pat the Patriot when I get a ping.

From two blocks away.

Which brings us to…

Ride 3: I drop off a young lady at work. She works at Ross on Jantzen Beach – which just so happened to have relocated to the building of a Linens ‘N Things that I used to manage before that company went out of business (no causal relationship, I assure you).

There is also a Home Depot right there. I drive by the Home Depot on the way back to the freeway, but a slow walker crossing the parking lot on The Diagonal pissed me off and I felt like my ire might be toxic to the plants, so I kept driving.

Normally, I’d respect The Diagonal, except: slow walker. And you know when someone sees you and knows they’re pulling a dick move, so I got away from that Bozo.

I’m back on the 5 heading into town, and I start to see tail lights. I decide to get off – of the freeway, Diezel, calm down – and head the rest of the way into town on surface streets. I kinda think it’s hard to get a ping on the freeway, too. It happens, but I’m not crazy about it when it does.

Sure enough, I get a couple blocks and I get a ping.

Back to Jantzen Beach.

Ok, maybe this is the type of day it’s really going to be. Getting yo-yoed all over kingdom come.

Back to the beach I go.

Ride 4: This guy wants to go from Jantzen Beach – as far north in Portland as you can go before hitting the dreaded Vantucky – to Hillsboro. Hillsboro is west of Portland city limits.

About 30 miles west.

Allons-y!

It was a $30 trip, so I’m not complaining.

Turns out, he’s picking up his car, too.

What the fuckity-fuck are you trying to tell me, Universe?!?

Assuming the two Home Depot adjacent trips and the two Fetch the Car trips cancel each other out, I begin to wonder is maybe it’s a Hot Guy Day and maybe the Universe is telling me to get laid.

Since I’m old and fell in love with a rider yesterday – another story – I decide it’s not worth the effort. Plus, I kinda buried the lede earlier…you know what I ended up doing.

I’m actually curious why you’re still here since I ruined the surprise! Hehe.

Then The Fox sends me a message on WhatsApp from Italy about finally posting while he’s gone – which I’m now realizing was a perfect chance for me to ask if he took my book with him if he misses my writing so much, damnit! I hate missing a chance to mess with that man.

Anyway, I went and used my Driving For Dollars money and bought some plants.

Still some empty pots, but it’s a start! And Ollie looks much happier with some friends.

You’re welcome, Neighbors and Hotel Guests!

Point Galby

The Hustle

I’d kind of taken to thinking of my job search as an exercise in futility. Sure, the only exercise I was getting, but it wasn’t really contributing to an elevated state of health – physical or mental.

In searching for appropriate career level positions, I hit wall after apathetic wall.

The struggle is surreal.

I found myself rethinking the jobs I was applying for with companies I told myself I wanted to work for. My thoughts turned toward,

Do I really want to work for these companies?

Learning from my interviewing experiences with them, I realized answer was coming back “No” more and more frequently. Hell, more often than not, I was realizing I no longer wanted to be their customer.

At the same time, I was really digging my lil writerly routine.

Come to – er…wake up.

Clean up.

Head to the Arthouse and write for a few hours.

I found that the morning was when I was really able to create. I worried that work would ruin that flow.

Realistically, though, I needed to work. Not just for the financial aspect – although, obviously – but also for the ancillary payback.

Allowing me to feel that I’ve not just accomplished something, which I achieve with writing, but to feel that I’ve contributed to something.

Then there’s the social interaction void after leaving retail. I’m used to dozens if not hundreds of quick interactions with people that challenge me and keep me socially engaged.

A.

Day.

That’s tough to replace.

I wasn’t getting that on my couch – and I tried both ends!

Out of literal desperation, I applied for a part time job as a clerk in a convenience store. For what the owner called “Good money for a job like this” during my interview.

It was $12/hour.

The owner calls that good money, Oregon called that Minimum Wage. I should note that this was at the time, Oregon’s Min Wage is now $12.50, so I think I now qualify for membership at Mar-a-Lago or something, right?

I quickly learned the reason that the owner considered Minimum Wage good money for this job: his employees didn’t do much during their shifts. The majority of them played on their phones or read books waiting for customers. They didn’t even say “hi” to them when they entered the store. Some had friends stop by. Still others had hangouts with off duty employees.

The owner wasn’t getting a good return on his payroll investment, for sure.

But I just had a few lunch/dinner shifts a week, like 16-24 hours. Covering a store for an hour while the associate took their meal break, then moving to the next for an hour and then the last store to finish my four hour shift.

I got to talk to people and I got to do things…even if it was just putting beer and water into coolers. It’s weird, it was what I did at the airport to help out my associates. To make them feel supported. Now it was my job.

The other employees objected to that aggressively productive behavior of mine with an array of flimsy reasons. My response?

I came to work!

I didn’t care if they loved or hated me. I was getting paid with that sense of contributing with every task I completed and customer I met.

You’re so much nicer than the other employees!

I heard that a lot. In all three of the stores. Just about six months in now, I still hear it once or twice a week.

You know what? That’s nice to hear, but it also makes me feel bad. Most of my co-workers are nice enough to me – despite my reluctance to work down to their standard. What if the job just beat them down into spiritual submission?

Was it only a matter of time for me, too?

Doubts like that aside, I was finding myself entertaining the notion of finding job and financial satisfaction in more of a piecemeal manner. I’d been witnessing younger workers doing it for the last decade. Running from part-time job to part-time job to cover their expenses. Maybe I could turn away from the full-time mentality and “retire” to a gig mentality.

I began exploring app-based work like Uber or Postmates. The obvious problem there for me was: no car. Still, with Postmates I could use my bike. The problem there? My lazy ass. Since the FWV (friends with vehicles, duh!) I dropped hints to about this notion let those hints drop unacknowledged, I tabled the idea.

Somehow, in this same timeframe, I became the boss’ shining star employee and go-to. She asked me to cover her role during her month-long vacation. At full-time.

Fine, as long as it’s just for four weeks…I can do it.

Three weeks before she left, all hell broke loose. Two people got fired and another quit in the course of maybe five days. By the time my boss left for vacation, I was ready to go back to my sweet lil four hour shifts.

Flash forward two months and I was still averaging about 35 hours a week. Feeling broken, I at least had my family’s annual vacation get together to look forward to in a month.

Still, I told my boss to schedule me less so I could get my writing back on track. I was an entire project behind schedule.

No change. Unless being scheduled for only 32 hours counts.

Then I got a call I wasn’t expecting.

A temp agency specializing in HR had reached out to me a few weeks earlier about a position they thought I’d be perfect for.

Oh, and the position you originally applied for was filled, unfortunately.

No shit? That was months ago!

Anyway, the position was designed to offload the HR responsibilities of a dual role HR/Ops manager that wanted to focus on her Ops responsibilities.

I agreed, I would be perfect for the role. I interviewed and still thought it would be a great fit. The money was certainly better than the convenience store, but it was only two-thirds of what I should be earning. At part-time the money would barely cover my monthly expenses. Looked like I wouldn’t be ditching the convenience store job anytime soon.

I realized that idea didn’t bother me. I romanticized a perfect schedule where I worked my gig HR three days a week from 8-5 and did dinner breaks from 6-10, earning enough to feel financially able while having four days off a week.

But this is my life, right? That Cinderella story didn’t happen.

Surprisingly, the person creating this job thought you were too into people. She’s going with another candidate.

Oh, for fuck sake.

The person who was more into the Ops side of her job and didn’t want to be bothered with the Human Resources side of her role…didn’t want somebody who was into humans to take that off her plate.

Seriously.

Surrealiously.

This journey is basically the meat of my next non-fiction book. I’m leaning toward calling it 50-gig – get it? I’m ~50 and competing for gig work with them there millennials? – however, on days like that one…it’s hard not to call it These Damn Idiots I Meet.

I mean, really, dating. Job hunting. It could be the group name for my non-fic work. 50-gig and Dating Into Oblivion could both easily fall under that heading. I wonder if there’s a third piece to round out a trilogy.

Obviously, The Gym.

But, I’ve digressed.

Romantic notion of working three days a week: le poof.

Anyway, I go back to my partly full-time job at the convenience store, grateful to still have a purpose but missing out on writing. At night, I drink wine on my lonely couch while binge watching Star Trek TV shows in their chronological order versus release dates while mentally cutting myself to take away the pain of my obsolescence.

Then the HR temps call back a few weeks later.

Maybe a month.

Let’s say a few weeks ago.

I doubt you’d be interested, you might consider it too boring.

I took this with the grain of salt required to swallow my belief that nobody wanted me, anyway. Basically, my position was, “I dare them to fucking hire me!”

Still, the “three or four days a week” aspect really appealed to me.

They’d really like someone to start next Monday, if it’s a good fit.

I just laughed at that, still waiting for Old Mother Hubbard’s second home to land on me like a was The Wicked Job Hunter of the West.

Oh, boo. What was that collision of metaphor?!? Mixing nursery rhymes and Young Adult novels from barely the last century.

Hey, don’t even worry about it. It’s Wednesday…if they let me know by tomorrow morning, I can have my boss at the convenience store work me around it.

Apparently, my “I fucking dare you to hire me” attitude was too much to resist. Thirty minutes later, they called back and told me to get in there Monday morning.

Having resigned myself to never getting another professional job again, I’d gone back to thinking about app based gig-work. I’d looked into car-sharing options for driving with Uber or Lyft using someone else’s car through an app called GetAround. It would probably end up costing about a third of what I’d make driving, but it would pull me out of being able to say “yes” every time my boss at the store had a need.

Actually, every time isn’t fair. I knew she tried to not abuse my availability. I appreciated it. But still, of the instances I knew of where she didn’t call on me, I knew she was just sucking it up about half the time.

I felt bad about that.

Anyway, somewhere in there – and consistent readers already know this – I said “Fuck it”, and bought a car. They’ve subsequently been dubbed Pat the Patriot in a perfect fit of Portland political correctness.

I figured maybe I could still do some gig driving, if only for the experience of writing about it in either my blog or even that notion of a book. I’d actually priced it all out and come to the benchmark of driving only six hours a week covering my car costs.

I could live with that.

I could also live with my complete lack of surprise at my experience trying to sign up to drive with Uber.

I’d given up using Lyft in conjunction with Uber a decade-ish ago when a woman in a homemade floral print dress and Jesus bobble head on her dash tried to fist bump me. If I was gonna drive, my first choice was going to be with the brand I’d been using as a consumer.

After a month of effort, let’s just say that I’m driving with The Verb and not The (unearned) Adjective.

And it’s addictive.

Not just the people engagement reward, but actually, the immediacy reward, too. I’ve only driven three times, but it’s been very satisfying…like 90% fun and 10% “Meh, that was still better than a day working for my last professional job”.

Plus, I get a cell phone bill and think, “Welp, let’s cash in on the app” and my pay is instantly in my checking account. The next morning I wake up to a utility bill and think, “Well, I’ll go have coffee with The Fox and then drive for a couple hours to get this paid…beats paying for two more hours of parking”.

And, yes – I am looking for a monthly space to rent! Especially if I want to leverage that whole three days of work/four days off thing.

Until then, a couple hours to pay my $30 gas bill versus spend $4 on parking turned into driving for five hours and saving $10 on parking and limping out of my driver’s seat with $100.

See? Addictive.

Now, before it starts raining Other Shoes, here’s what’s on the horizon:

– Before I committed to Lyft, I applied to drive delivery for GoPuff and Postmates. I’ll probably fold at least one of those in, if only for the potential writing material for 50-gig. But also: tips! I’ve actually never had a tip job before, so I’d be interested in how that adds up.

Plus, as a car share rider from the early days, I never tip. It was part of the deal. Then the deal changed, but guess who didn’t? Yes, me. But also: practically everyone else. Out of – I think I’m at…18 rides over three outings I’ve been tipped by two riders. I don’t expect it, but feel I’ve really earned the gratuity when they land. It’s not that I got a tip for reflex of it all, I did something that stood out compared to other rides these Tipsters have taken.

That’s what I’m telling myself.

What else?

– Oh, yeah…the convenience store. There’s a shoe. If you know me, you know I won’t repay hiring me when no one else would – yes, for a job I should have a lobotomy to be qualified for – by walking away, middle fingers flying just because I got a better opportunity. So, if this HR gig pans out, I see a serious scheduling conversation happening there.

– The HR gig. When someone – an employer – says “three or four days a week”, who knows what they mean? It could be three days, with the hope that the dangling fourth will provide added bait. It could mean four, for so many reasons.

In this case, I heard “three”, because that’s what I wanted to hear. Then I talked to the owner and heard the job scope and said, “Yeah, I can do that in three”.

Sadly, I think they really want someone for four, but tough nuts.

Or not so tough. If I end up working four days a week, it’s not the end of the world. Plus, since I’m HR, I have access. That access shows me – innocently, I assure you – that my non-temp predecessor was making $6/hr more than I am. But I get the temp costs offset. If they hire me off my contract, I’m getting that money. Knowing what I do of the owner, I won’t have to ask…she’ll offer. How awesome is it to have a boss you think of in those terms?

It’s fucking awesome.

Also: there’s an office cat. He’s nicer than Myrtle, too, which makes that fourth day a real draw. Poor Myrt. She’s not not nice. She’s just psychotic and can’t help herself.

Or I have Stockholm Syndrome.

Now, let’s see…other shoes. Other Shoes. Any others, hoes?

Ah, yes!

– Writing! Doy. The second book in the No One Of Consequence story is nearing completion. Yes, Phil…I’m editing! Hehe. After some good feedback, I also intent to brush off Book One and give it an extra lil polish before launching Book Two. Now I should have the ability to advertise, too.

I wanna run an ad campaign this month, I think I’ll go drive for a few hours.

I like the sound of that.

Then, come November I can put balancing work, work, work and possibly work schedules with writing, I’ll try and get most of 50-gig drafted during NaNoWriMo. That’ll be an adventure.

Almost as big an adventure as doing my 2019 taxes will be with two W2s, possibly four 1099s and at least a little bit of royalties income to factor in. I better start limbering up my procrastination muscles now!

Yes, it’s 5:30 in the morning on my day off…why do you ask? Truth be told, how this three job thing is working out so far has created a three weeks straight without a day off, so my old ass is tired! But I slept well on both Friday and Saturday night.

Of course, that was after saying

I’m burning the candle at both ends…with fucking blow torches!

So I was ready for early nights and good sleep. Maybe I’ll try a nap later.

Nah…I’ll go drive! Haha.

The Hustle

Take A Seat, Karen

We all know a Karen.

Or Susan…or whomever.

She’s the gal who says about herself,

I’m 100% that bitch

And everyone who knows her suffers silently while thinking, “We know, we know!”

She can be anyone from this nightmare type

To this angry racist

All the way to this vacuous type

Really, Buzzfeed, should I be following someone whose life goal seems to be getting shirtless selfies in as many different countries – undoubtedly on someone else’s dime – as possible? That will somehow enhance my life in ways I simply cannot comprehend?

As you can see, there’s a rather wide range, like the head that holds her hairstyle or the pew that supports her rear or the wallet that supports his heels.

The common denominator?

They know everything that’s hot in pop culture, fashionable, the best exercise classes, the best restaurants or other micro-minutae. Nothing real substantive coming out of their iced or pumpkin spiced coffee holes, unfortunately.

Essentially, they’re nothing more than poseurs, following in the too prevalent basic lemming-slash-bitch mentality of today: elevating teenaged performers to icon status based on a lyric from a pop song.

What the hell is wrong with our country?!?

I mean, Taylor Swift was praised last year – or possibly the year before – for finally speaking out against gun violence. She was heralded as a savior for “using her social media for good”.

She’s 29.

Now, long time readers will know my thoughts on Social Media Influencers. But I’ll give Swifty a pass for speaking out. She does have the following to reach a large audience, so good for her.

But when it comes to the vapid followers who got behind the message?

It was the same thing left leaning politicians have been saying since the history of mass shootings began in this country. Thanks for finally getting the memo.

A friend of mine, @Britebarb on the Twitter, once said,

You aren’t entitled to your opinion, but you are entitled to your informed opinion.

I probably butchered the exact quote, but you get the point. When our opinions are informed by pop culture instead of actual news, facts and self-education…well, you’re not a Karen or a Susan.

You’re a Molly.

Lets don’t be Molly, shall we?

This actually brings me to my larger point.

Those Susan and Karen types? What do you think they do to our culture?

It used to be cute that Karen would have a hostess fired for seating her by the kitchen. Today, Karen is having hostesses fired for not seating her party of 14 fast enough while parties of two and four that came in after her were seated first.

It was tolerable for one person to have a racist anachronistic opinion. They were your aged grandparent who was written off as “being from another time”. Then some charismatic someone pooled that grandparent’s money together with a bunch of other racist grandparents and build a megachurch.

Put our glamorous and hunky gay Instagram traveler at a drive-thru window – not the one he sits on, an actual drive-thru – and see how he does. We used to take basic service industry jobs and make the fabulous most of our minimum wages. Now, we complain about a free trip to Coachella instead of questioning the politics of the promoters…ignoring politics we could never support because the line up is lit.

Molly, you should be calling out the performers for working for that promoter, not instagramming your free trip.

It’s not all bad. This past week, Stephen Ross hosted a lunch for Trump.

There was glitter fallout.

Ross is the CEO for the parent company of Equinox Gym and Soul Cycle. These are $100/month plus gyms heavily trafficked by the gays and the Karens of the country. Sorry, Susan…you’re praying away the body issues.

But we’ve been here before.

Chick-fil-a.

Barilla pasta.

I’ll come up with some others later.

Maybe.

But those two kind of make my point: we don’t remember.

It kind of relegates our ire to the level of the so-called Million Moms. I think they struggled to sustain a roster of thousands of moms.

Why?

Thumping bibles is hard, for one, ok?

But also, do you think a million moms want to piss off the gay that cuts their hair and end up with a Karen haircut? Or worse, piss off their personal trainer and end up with a Susan ass?

We people…not so consistent. Setting aside the extremes on either end of the blue or red political spectrum, I think the grey area in between needs to take over. Regardless of which way you lean – left or right – the middle has the numbers to do what’s right.

Stephen Ross and Trump and the Chick-fil-a folks – ironically, the family surname is Cathy – don’t care about our boycotts.

Hear that?

It’s them laughing all the way to the bank, either way.

Making money? Great! Put it in the bank!

Losing money? Great! Write it off on our taxes or short our own stock!

Our protests hurt the people in the front lines. The mother of three working two part time jobs and asking if we want Waffle Fries with our chicken sandwich.

Of course we do! But we want the Secret Waffle Fries that our Equinox trainer won’t find out about!

And those trainers who lose income because their spin classes are empty? Another of the real victims of our righteous ire.

Why?

Because we don’t hold our politicians accountable to holding our best interests and not their own.

Why don’t we have gun control or reform in this country? Because Tay-Tay isn’t in Congress.

Conversely, why do we have Trump as president? Because he had the best soundbites.

Tax cuts!

Crooked Hillary!

But her emails!

And because we’re largely entitled when it comes to our opinions, we ran right off the cliff at the ballot box without ever informing ourselves about our opinion.

A couple years back, I wrote about what one of my employees told me after proudly stating that he and his wife voted on behalf of their family of five for Trump.

After my eyes rolled 360 degrees in their respective sockets, that is.

The shorthand is the tax cuts and that they didn’t trust Hillary.

We think we’ll be better off with Trump in office.

“Financially?”

Well, yeah…

That last part was delivered like he worried that I didn’t understand that nothing more mattered than their bottom line.

For my part, I think I showed a lot of restraint.

You know you work in Portland, right?

“Yeah…”

And your job pays more than minimum wage – which in Oregon is 50% higher than the federal minimum wage, right?

“Well, I mean, I know I make more than minimum wage, but it’s not enough.”

Setting aside my recollection of the conversation we had where he volunteered that he had preemptively had his four upper front teeth removed because it was somehow easier, I went on,

You do know that republicans opposed the minimum wage bill in Oregon, right?

“Not really, I don’t pay much attention to politics.”

Well, then you frankly shouldn’t vote.

“But every vote counts and it’s my right!”

Stupid Americans.

Being ignorant

I didn’t say “retarded” because people get mad at me.

isn’t a right, it’s a handicap. Liberals provided the higher than average minimum wage that you’re making $1 more than per hour. If you’re going to vote, maybe support the people that support you. Have a little friggin’ loyalty! If you want to support the people who stand on your backs to get what they have, is like my $5 an hour back.

That last part went whizzing right over his head. Basically, he’s in a place where he’s making $200 more per week than people doing the same work outside of Oregon. And this basic Karen votes against the people who gave it to him.

As his employer, forced to pay for it – but happily doing so – if he doesn’t appreciate it, I want it back.

Idiots.

Plus, he wasn’t that great of an employee. More a “Needs Improvement” versus a “Meets Expectations” because his opportunities weren’t a matter of not knowing the job expectations or not having the tools to succeed.

He delivered the minimum effort he could get away with. Absent was the mentality to do a good job. His goal was a factor of doing only as much as he had to do to be considered “good enough”.

And he got away with it…because the management – my boss – was kind of the same. But much better paid.

This…this is the fallout from our Karen and Susan attitude. People who act in their own interest versus in the interest of the greater good. Doing what’s right for the sake of the fact that it’s right!

We seem to take more of a WIIFM approach to doing what’s right. Failing a personal net positive in the What’s In It For Me test, we do what’s easier versus what’s right.

As far as what’s in it for me goes? I try to come out on right versus easier as often as possible. Of course, when that means leaving a job that paid alright versus tacitly condoning the poor management ethics, it’s downright hard to do.

On the flip side, I hold others to the same standard. On that front, let me explain the title of this post:

Take A Seat, Karen

You wanna talk to the manager and get a waiter fired for a perceived slight?

Hold. My. Beer.

I had an entire company fired.

I don’t mess around. For me, right and wrong isn’t about getting what I want – in life, at the ballot box or what-have-you.

Saying that my issues with my property management company started last year while I was on vacation is only partially true.

Sure, my building unexpectedly pulled the key core from the building’s front door.

Yeah, this meant my pet sitter – aka: the Silver Fox – couldn’t get in to feed Myrtle since I only had one fob and he used a door key to get into the building.

My relationship with the management company warped into a wormhole when I reached out for help in the situation.

Expectation: something along the lines of “Oh no! Have your pet sitter swing by the office and he can use our fob until you get back!” Y’know…something to help proactively resolve the immediate issue with maybe a little appropriate empathy.

Reality: they (mis)quoted my lease to me. “As per your lease, you were given one key to your unit and one door fob. If you want additional fobs, you’ll need to buy them.”

Meanwhile, my cat isn’t being fed.

In reality, while I was trying to tone down the shriek-level in my response, it occurred to me that this wasn’t where my problem began with them, this was where their poor performance became intolerable.

My problem with their performance began a month before I moved in. I had failed to negotiate a lower rent in my old unit by speaking logic to my unit’s owner. The unit next door was the same size and renting for $300 less a month, she offered a $50 rent reduction.

I moved.

But for the three weeks while that conversation was happening, the smoke detector was giving off a replace battery beep in the empty unit. I actually arranged a tour of the unit initially only to tell them to replace the battery.

The agent apologetically agreed to get it taken care of.

Then…nothing happened.

This was when my problem with their performance began. But weighing the issues – a bad battery or $250/month – I moved anyway.

That’s the grey area I mentioned earlier. Both unit’s owner/management failed, casting the larger issue in grey. I chose the least wrong, which also happened to financially benefit me. A grey lose-win-win.

I can solve the battery issue by putting in a new battery and disconnecting the unit when that doesn’t fix it.

The starving cat issue was harder to solve and just a much larger issue overall. But I – and The Fox and the HOA prez, Joe – solves it outside of the property management company’s ineffective performance.

And the lease they quoted? It actually said a key to the unit and a mailbox key. Nothing about fobs. Thank god I had a front door key for the building, a copy I made of the key my old landlady gave me. Additionally, I’d never gotten the mailbox key because the owner had accidentally taken it home to Seattle with him. Just like the battery, I didn’t make a big deal of it because I use a PO Box.

But three months later, when they tried to raise my rent $100/month, I asked the question,

What have you done to support the rent increase?

Sure, it was the owner’s idea but they were his agent. It was their service that I was weighing against the rent increase ask that the market would simply not support.

Their performance came up short and I refused the increase, offering to move instead and pointing out that my old unit next door had been vacant for the entire time I lived here. They acquiesced, with a “We recommended no increase to the owner, but he insisted” reply.

Oh, okay…

Not sure how I’m a saner voice to the owner than the management company he employs…but, suuuuure.

All this came to a head in July when I paid rent through their portal.

Just like normal.

I paid on the 29th of June with a checking account draft. I learned the hard way that using my debit card versus a draft resulted in a $45 “convenience fee“…because it’s 1990 in their IT department.

BTW, their response to that complaint was

Perfectly acceptable and professional response, right?

A few days later I paid the rest of my bills via bill pay and debit card, noticing that the rent draft still hadn’t cleared.

The next business day, my usual monthly bills all cleared, but still not my rent.

Unpleasantly, the next business day a charge from Kelly’s for a couple of beers also cleared, leaving me $6 short on my rent. Damn their credit card processing company!

In a fit of “this could only happen to me” ness, my bank rejected to rent draft when it finally poked its head out of its technology shell.

This began a two week cascade of “I’ve had it with you people” ness for me as I tried to resolve the unfathomable “why would you not cover me for 6-fucking-dollars” issue with my bank and the head-scratchingly larger issue with my management company.

For whatever reason, this prompted them to audit my ledger and add in a $75 late fee for April’s rent – when I paid on the 5th of the month because I was waiting in checks to clear.

This was on top of the $75 late fee and $50 NSF fee my returned check was costing me for the current month.

I didn’t have an extra $225.

Just. Didn’t.

That’s not my lifestyle these days – and may never be again. I’m kind of ok with that compared to working for a company with a double standard. I don’t love it, but by god…it’s ethically right.

One of the other handicaps this so-called-management company’s online portal suffered from was an ability to make partial payments. Given my newer more meager financial situation, I wanted to make biweekly payments of half my rent.

Can’t.

Fine, I lived a year being super-financially-disciplined (for me) and was only late once.

I rallied.

But in July, I hit a wall. After talking to my bank, getting their overdraft fee refunded, cleaning out my – and The Fox’s – recycling closet and cashing in my coffee can of change, I had the extra $150 fees my July rent required.

I didn’t have the April “Oops, we suck at our jobs” $75. And…no partial payments, so I couldn’t pay rent.

Could I have asked The Fox or my family or just about anyone I’ve ever me to front me $75?

Fuck yeah.

But I didn’t because it was wrong – in my opinion – for them to randomly choose this moment to audit my ledger. It seemed to me that they were unnecessarily piling on in a bad situation.

It.

Made.

Me.

Angry.

Y’know, one of those pesky righteous angers that causes you to quit good jobs versus the kind that makes you fight traffic tickets when you were, in fact, speeding.

I emailed the owner.

He’d asked me in an email – after a five week process to get my AC repaired during the first heatwave of the Summer – how everything was going.

Well, my best friend let in the AC repair guy – since having to schedule ten days out resulted in them being able to do the work on a day I had to work – in for me, went home and decided to get his own AC checked out. Called a different company and was offered an appointment the next damn day, got his unit checked out and the part ordered for some preventative repairs and delivered and installed before my five week ordeal was resolved through your management company…

Seemed like an out of line response, so I let it lie and said nothing.

Like I was raised to do!

But after two weeks trying to give this company money, it was time.

And I fucking went to the mattresses.

Maybe it was a little personal. Dealing with my shelter and my money, after all. Seems kind of personal.

To the management company, it was “just business”, but because they all appear to employ the same ethics as my Trump supporting former employee…they were happy to do as little as possible to earn their money.

So I asked to speak to the manager. You want to know how I started my email to the owner?

You need to fire this management company.

Flat out. No preamble, right to the mattresses.

Then I made my case.

He got involved, told them to waive everything, I paid my rent and seethed on…dreading my next encounter with these people.

On August 2nd – two weeks later – the owner sent me an email telling me he’d put them on notice that he was taking over on September 1st. True to form, three days later, the management company sent me a letter saying as much.

I thought about replying to them. Especially given that they’d provided zero context for the change in their message.

Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving and less competent group of bastards!

That seemed like gloating. Plus, as vocal as I was about their shortcomings in each of my encounters with them, I would imagine they expected that from me.

So I withheld. My internal grumpy old man just sat back, breathes a stress-free sigh of relief and thought

How bout dat, indeed, Karen?

Take A Seat, Karen

The Roto-est Of Rooters

I’ll need a photo ID as well as your insurance card.

A pleasant delivery doesn’t stop me from wondering aloud from behind the Silver Fox if they wouldn’t likely have a lot of imposters showing up to an appointment like his.

My pithy posit barely merits a side eye from The Fox, but I’m accustomed to my observations being met with an occasional absence of encouragement.

Today, you see, is a certain someone’s very special once-in-a-decade doctor appointment.

The dreaded colonoscopy.

You know it’s been longer than a decade since the last time we did this, right?

That was my question as I parked.

The Fox assures me that I’m wrong, but I remind him that a decade ago I was living in Seattle.

The email I got said it was my ten-year reminder!

As if that closes the conversation. I mean, “The email said” is a far better argument than “I read it on the internet”, but it’s far from authoritative.

Still, I let it drop, wondering if perhaps I took The Fox to his first “people pay for this experience?” appointment and perhaps there was a former boyfriend that filled in for me ten years ago.

It’s not unlike my best friend to be religiously early. We jokingly call it Fox Time.

Even for this. Closing in on his sixty-eighth birthiversary, if this happened to be his third procedure, I could easily see him justifying his first at a Fox Timely 48.

Of course, the problem there is that it probably only seems like we’ve known each other two decades. Especially to him, I imagine, given that he has to put up with me and sometimes I’m a little much.

For instance, we didn’t talk so much this morning in the our first of dozens of daily texts. I just sent him this:

So I dropped the timing question. No need to unnecessarily poke the bear, as the saying goes.

Or The Fox, in this case.

Poor guy’s about to get poked enough for a while, I imagine.

Besides, there’s plenty of other topical material presenting itself. As we step into the elevator, The Fox pushes to button for the top floor.

They’re on the top floor because everyone that goes there bottoms.

I could do this all day.

I did manage not to comment on the photograph of the canal hanging in the lobby of the office.

The gaping span framing a lovely waterway bordered by blossoming cherry trees.

Anyway, before the Silver Fox is done not responding to my initial query at the check-in window as to whether this office has a lot of imposters showing up for colonoscopies – it is Portland, the kinkiest city in America – I see this:

I cant help it. My derp thoughts just appear out of nowhere and without warning.

My imagination instantly starts creating this story where a translator is called in to break the process down into gay-speak.

Gurl, I hope you brought poppers because this. is. happening. Mmm. Git it.

And with a Cher tongue, flip of the imaginary wig and snap of a paper accordion fan, the consult is over and my best friend is led off by a GoGo Boy in gold lame hot shorts.

And the next time I see him, he’ll be all doped up and rubber-legged. I do recall that from last time…it was quite amusing to see my fairly dignified bestie a little worse for the wear.

But the light at the end of the <ahem> tunnel is food!

The last words he said to me were about how hungry he was. The last words he texted to me – a few moments after being led away – were about him being one pound inside his goal weight range.

That shut me up.

You know how many back to back colonoscopies I’d have to prep for to get down to the goal weight range that I abandoned?

Lots.

The staff would probably think I had fetishized a good snaking.

Like I said…it is Portland.

Now, I’d better go before they finish up and I’m tempted to write about The Fox’s behavior while he’s sedated!

The Roto-est Of Rooters

That Moment When…

Do you ever start telling a story about “the old days” or “a classic” movie/song/what-have-you only to have your brain catch up with your mouth halfway through and realize the story you’re nostalgically telling doesn’t pass current PC muster?

Of course this happened to me.

So, I suppose this should be titled “That awkward moment when”…

There I was, at Nossa – hey, it’s Sunday…it’s what I do. Anyway, I was talking to my barista boyfriend while he made my drink and the Silver Fox found the perfect table – y’know, one that looks perfect but spills my drink when he innocently adjusts his foot. Our conversation started after The Fox asked if the tables outside were reserved for the brunch the bar downstairs hosts on the patio on Sundays.

It’s a shared space, so sit wherever you want!

I heard a chipper and enthusiastic statement but his body language had an edge to it, so naturally that was the conversational thread I chose to pull. I commented that they sure put a lot of effort into their brunch service, since they start serving at 10 and I’d been there at 8 before to see them beginning their set up.

Yeah, they don’t even open the downstairs space, they just use the patio until their regular hours.

That was kind of surprising, since Portland weather is kind of…unreliable. But on top of two-plus hours of four people setting up the patio – which I assume is mirrored on the back end for clean up – with a bar cart, racks of tableware staged at the edge of the building and a music set up – which is usually a live band; they are spending money on extras as well.

Well, like all that isn’t extra.

But they are either buying extra pub height tables and chairs to supplement the regular patio furnishing the landlord provides or they are emptying out the bar below to provide seating. On top of that, Nossa has a couple of umbrellas they usually put out to shade the tables – I think there’s eight tables normally. The first time I witnessed this brunch endeavor, the restaurant added in some orange umbrellas. Today, the umbrellas were all a nice, dark green. No red Nossa umbrellas in the mix at all.

I don’t mind, really. It brings people in…

“Yeah, but with those green umbrellas, you’re probably gonna end up with not just your customers or their customers…you’ll probably get some Starbucks customers coming in to add a really confusing third leg to your customer barstool.”

Bring ’em on!

“Oh, really…you think you can rehabilitate Starbucks customer’s palates with your good coffee?”

He looks like he makes a real effort at thinking about it for a second, then says,

Well, maybe some of them…

We both laugh at that and that’s when it happened. I was thinking about that aha moment of a Starbucks drinker experiencing good coffee and instantly questioning their previous life choices.

That was the scene that popped into my crazy head, which made me laugh even harder. I asked my Fake Boyfriend if he’d ever seen Young Frankenstein.

I think I watched it a couple of years ago at my parents’ place one Christmas.

“Of course. It’s the perfect holiday movie! Do you remember when Madeline Kahn meets The Monster?”

Yeah. Hehe. Wait, I think I do…

So, naturally I go on to describe the scene and he’s giving me, “Yeah. Yeah!” as he listens along and remembers.

Except as I’m talking, I’m starting to remember this part of the scene

Where The Monster kidnaps Madeline and how the whole “Sweet mystery of life” moment occurs while The Monster is forcing himself on her.

I’m beginning to simultaneously try and gauge the people standing nearby – because were in Portland, for crying out loud…the wrong combo of AntiFa and Feminista overhearing this could get me in real trouble – and figure out how to get out of this conversation.

And then a third thing happened.

I got mad.

This was the part that did it…

I was suddenly disgusted with the notion of framing a rape as the woman being wrong about what she wanted and coming out the other side of her assault fulfilled and awakened.

Ruined.

So, I’ve been running a B-reel argument about how “times have changed” and “it’s a comedy” with myself to help figure out whether my nostalgic feelings about this movie can survive in this woke #MeToo day and age. I told myself,

Just watch it again and make sure you’re not misremembering the context…

Nope. Can’t fall for that argument. I’m not planning on running for office, but still…can’t have Jeff Bezos tattling on me if he sees Young Frankenstein in my viewed queue.

Now I’ve given myself a headache.

That Moment When…