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…

I Guess It Looks Worse Than It Is…

About three weeks ago, I was out running some errands and after being mildly inconvenienced by a couple of reroutes found myself close to Washington Park. I had planned to take a hike to Forest Park that afternoon anyway, before it got too hot. Since I was probably less than ten blocks – that’s for you, mom! – from the entrance, I decided to just carry on since the temperature was already tending toward balmy.

I know from a similar errand-running excursion earlier this week that the my house<the Safeway<Freddy’s<home loop runs about three miles. Well, 3.4 with a coffee reward after Freddy’s. Factoring that out, I’m calling it an even three.

Freddy’s is only a block away from my personal google maps nemesis

So I had to successfully avoid that obstacle in order for my plan to succeed.

Figure that when I got to the entrance to Washington Park that I was about 1.5 miles into my errands plus another 3/4 mile from Freddy’s to the entrance, right?

It’s that last three quarters of a mile that’s the real killer. In addition to avoiding Taco Bell, there are also pretty steep streets up toward the park. What upset me when I got to the top of the hill was how out of breath I felt and how excessively sweaty I was.

Super not cool.

“Well, that’s probably just diabetes and coronary disease knocking on the door”, I pessimistically told myself. I opened up my MINDBODY app and bought a spin package.

I was also talking via messenger with the Filipina Fox, who is an obnoxiously fit friend and fitness instructor at not only my spin gym, RevoCycle, but two other studios in my neighborhood as well. Those are her second, third and fourth jobs in addition to her primary full time job. Then there’s the gym she belongs to for her personal workouts.

I dunno how she finds the time or the energy, but hats off to her! However, if I hadn’t been chatting with her, I probably wouldn’t have pulled the trigger on buying a spin package.

Nevertheless, there she was, providing me unintentional inspiration in my return to gym-centric exercise. She joked about the gym having an AED, just in case and I made another about having a DNR tattoo on my chest.

Then it was off into the park. I’ll write more about my walk through Washington Park in another post, it also is home to the Japanese Garden, which the Silver Fox took me to as a guest a few months ago. I want to share my beautiful pics from both visits.

For now, though, my point is that during my less than record breaking hike the temp went up 10% to 80 degrees at the end but I was just spent: I’d sweated through my clothes and was sucking air like a fish out of water.

No bueno!

The next day, I was at RevoCycle for my noon class. They call it Power Lunch and it’s just 30 minutes, designed to allow worker bees to get a ride in during their lunch hour. I wasn’t sure I could actually pull off a full “hour long” class, which usually runs 50 minutes. The half hour class allowed me to dip my toe back in the water.

I’d discussed my concerns – and reasons for my absence – with the owner and leader of the lunch class, Michael.

While I had been cycling and hiking pretty regularly through mid-June, my knees bothered me during and after the activities. Then, the powers that be had closed down my entrance to the Springwater Trail, which took away half of my exercise options anyway, since that was a major part of my cycling route.

The goal was to get salmon back to the Oaks Bottom Wildlife refuge by replacing a 70s era salmon culvert.

The culvert allows salmon to move protected from the Willamette River through the underground culvert and into the wildlife refuge.

It’s just a small project.

That completely closes down my access to my preferred cycling route.

And my back up route.

FML.

But, three months and $9 million later and at least the salmon will have a safe place to get their spawn on.

Meanwhile, that plus my persistent unemployment afforded me an option to gain 20 lbs. Most of which seemed to arrive in about an eight week period.

See the above FML.

So, Tuesday three weeks ago, I’m back at spin for a Tuesday and Thursday routine and I’m happy to say that I’ve only missed one class on the ensuing three weeks. I’ve also managed at least one hike per week and even one interval run!

Of course, after that, I couldn’t walk right for three days, but I’m happy that I accomplished it…proving to myself that what my acupuncturist has been working on – paired with running right for my body – has paid off.

The good news is that I’m down 8 pounds in three weeks and feel better, too! I’m not leaving a pool of sweat behind after my half hour class anymore and my knees are tolerating the intensity well!

Of course, since I’m kind of mean to myself, I have chosen a gym conveniently located two blocks away from the modeling agency I worked for in my late 20s. And, since it’s on my way home from the gym, I stopped off last week for a selfie.

Already looking better than I did halfway through my five mile hike to Washington Park two weeks prior to taking this! Still in no danger of anyone from my old agency chasing after me.

Plus, it helps to have a sweat towel…

In my conversations with Michael over the past few weeks, I’ve become aware of a few things:

First, the smoke and ash in the air recently has likely been mostly to blame for my wheezing and excessive sweat, especially on that Washington Park outing.

Second, the mental benefits from regular exercise are more immediate than the physical results. And the mental benefits feel great!

Third, it looks worse than it is. Yesterday, I faced a personal fear: being the only person in a class. Michael likes to focus on being present with your body during a spin class – it’s like the focus on mindfulness and breathing you experience in a yoga class – and usually checks in with the heart monitor wearers in class to see how they’re doing. I don’t wear one, but he kept asking me how I was doing, “How’s your breathing, pretty heavy?” or “How many words could you say right now?” types of things. When he asked me if I was at my max heart rate after one sprint and got a palms up response from me, he taught me this easy little formula.

220 – a person’s age = max heart rate

“So where is your heart rate at?”, he asked after timing off a pulse check in.

178

“What’s your max, I dunno how old you are…how does that compare?”

My max is 170.

“Great! That’s fantastic…you’re probably in better shape than you were worried about!”

I guess it looks worse than it is.

But I’m still ecstatic that I’m doing something physical that ties me to a routine!

I Guess It Looks Worse Than It Is…

I know, I know…

A good chunk of my frustration in witnessing others’ ineptitude as they work is based on my frustration in landing interviews or – not to be greedy – even getting a job. Still, beneath that unusual and temporary layer of frustration is the normal level of service level expectations that aren’t being met by these seemingly over-employed folks that keep catapulting themselves into my path.

Phew. Still with me?

So, I’m gonna do some therapeutic writing. But I want to get a disclaimer out there up front: this all didn’t just happen this morning. I’m not that “Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” type that encounters a slight inconvenience and demands to speak to the manager.

Sidebar: OMG, they made a musical out of this camp classic movie!

Nor am I a “Sleeping With The Enemy” type customer who lets his own OCD overwhelm transactional encounters in my life.

That said…I probably need this tee shirt

Hey, I know my shit.

I felt my usual simmering frustrations starting to boil a couple weeks back, hell…maybe even a month ago when I wrote about Penzey’s Spices and then my trip to Darcelle’s after that.

Darcelle’s and Penzey’s are two businesses that are worried about more than just their bottom line. Actually, maybe it’s that their bottom line is people instead of dollars. I’ve always believed that in a service industry, if you put people first – be them customers or your employees – that the dollars will come.

So, there…a couple of disclaimers before I rail against some companies that should just. do. better. to demonstrate that I know what good service and business looks like and that I know I’m just a grump sometimes.

Anyway, I tried to recycle my cans this morning and everything went to hell.

This should be pretty simple, right? I live in a state that has a bottle and can deposit. I always recycled and I was fine paying a nickel a can for my entire life as an Oregonian without redeeming my recyclables for my nickel…back. I figured it was an income stream for industrious homeless people. But, when we triggered a deposit increase to a dime a can…I started redeeming those aluminum and glass bastards myself.

I hated it.

The reverse vending machines that grocery stores use to refund bottle deposits were dependably gross, crowded and usually broke down. It was a hassle. So when some industrious individual came up with the idea to lease the machines to grocery stores while also offering the service extension of a concierge type recycling program, I was in.

Welcome to the show, BottleDrop!

Ok, well, first I grumbled about the fact that it was gonna cost me a penny per can to drop my recyclables off and have someone else count them, because: grumpy. Then I came around.

But in contracting with a company to drop off a bag of recyclables in a secure area, have them counted for me and then have my redemption refund credited to my account within five days, well I had expectations that BottleDrop would fulfill their service commitment.

See? That’s not really too much to expect, right?

It started off small, little inconveniences like the drop area not being open when I tried to drop off my bag on my way to work. That’s on me for not knowing the hours of operation. That evolved into their 3-5 day credit window becoming a 3-5 – no, just 5 – day window before my dropped bag was acknowledged as received and then another 3-5 days before my deposit refund was credited. Then drop off centers started opening erratically or being closed because both the reverse vending recycling machines and the secure bag drop doors were broken…it’s a door.

Still, I was surprisingly ok.

Then a bag went missing.

I emailed their customer service and a few days later got a response apologizing and letting me know that they credited my account for my Average Bag Value.

That seemed pretty fair and still convenient, so I felt whole and cared for as a customer.

Then my next bag went missing. It was disturbing because my first six months with them, no issues. Suddenly, two consecutive bags from the same drop location disappear.

They credited me once again for my ABV – which sadly is not Alcohol By Volume. My next bag was credited as expected, so I chalked my two missing bags up to weird coincidence.

Flash forward to August and I can say that out of the 12 bags I’ve dropped this year – don’t look at me like that, a lot of the cans are La Croix or Diet Coke – only four have been credited as expected. I’m beginning to wonder what consistently receiving my ABV versus the actual value of my redeemables does to my ABV. Something in the back of my mind keeps reminding me that averaging averages is bad math.

I began debating just using the reverse vending machines and doing it myself. At this point in my relationship with BottleDrop, they weren’t earning their keep. So I head out with that in mind this morning.

I walk a quarter mile to the Safeway: there’s a sign posted saying the drop center is opening at 9 instead of the usual 7.

Ugh.

The struggle is real…annoying.

It’s only a little more than 30 minutes away. I consider going across the street to Nossa for a coffee but there’s already a line of dirty dudes with shopping carts so it’ll be a 30 minute plus a significant chunk of time while these recycling professionals make it look hard. Plus, as I told the Silver Fox afterward, I didn’t want everyone at Nossa feeling bad because I was rocking the Recycle Fabulous look with my green bag of cans while they sat there with their engineered pooches or in their clip in cycling shoes looking lame by comparison…

Instead, I set off on the alleged half mile to Freddy’s, still not sure whether I’ll drop the bag or recycle it manually. Turns out, it’s 8/10 of a mile. Close, Google…but no cigar.

When I arrive, there’s three employees standing around talking. I think two BottleDrop and one Freddy’s, based on polo colors. They’re talking about hot flashes. Specifically, the male is talking about how uncomfortable it is to sleep with his wife when it’s “80 degrees at 11 o’clock and my wife has a hot flash in bed” – a fact neither of his two female coworkers need to be told.

#ThemToo

The two recycling machines are propped open slightly. Even though they’ve been open almost two hours, I assume they are still just being prepared for the days recycling. Feeling like I won the lottery – since there are no ne’er do well millionaires in line – I ask if I can be the first.

“Oh, we don’t do that anymore! But if you have an account, you can just drop your bag right through that door!”

I don’t know if the BottleDrop lady’s enthusiasm is because she’s new on the job and showing her pride or if she’s just that happy to get away from her basic white guy coworker. I do know that I’ve kinda had it at this point as she keeps yammering away. When I open the door, it’s packed with green bags of recyclables.

Ok, BottleDrop…I’m gonna give you credit: you created jobs with your business. Ostensibly – based strictly off the two employees I saw today where normally there would be one – you’ve doubled your work force by eliminating the self-serve recycling machines.

But!

Both of your employees were standing around like they were waiting for the valet to fetch their Maserati when I arrived. They were looking fresh while I – after walking about a mile and a half in my thwarted recycling attempt – was dripping sweat.

To me, it looks like you’re wasting payroll. Not to mention my time…I want my penny back.

So, BottleDrop has a pretty big shitshow on their hands. It’s like the great idea was primarily a money grab and instead of having operational processes in place to ensure good service, they just throw money at the problem – be it in ABV credits or added payroll – to make it go away.

I’ve had two interactions with other companies this year that seemed to want to do better. That’s great, knowing your limits is admirable – like me avoiding large groups of people…it’s just not something I’m armed for and willing to deal with. Maybe I should acknowledge that using a weapons analogy when discussing large groups of people was a bad idea there…oops.

Starbucks.

Charbucks.

“Where self-hating coffee lovers go for coffee” is my unofficial slogan for them.

Outside of their Reserve Roastery that opened a few blocks from my place in Seattle, I can count the number of times I’ve been in a Charbucks in the last decade on one hand. Even if I’d had a fireworks accident as a child.

However, earlier this year – February, to be precise – I’d been forced by circumstance into one of their cafes. It was at the height of the second harassment allegation against my co-worker at my last job.

By the way, pretty sure that my last employer – Paradies – exists solely to make companies like BottleDrop look effective.

Anyway, I was on my way in to work on the day that two of the senior field managers were in town to conduct a formal investigation. I was fully expecting my peer to be terminated and was feeling a strange brew of empathy and relief for him and dread about the void his position’s vacancy would create in our operation because my boss absolutely sucked at people development…meaning their was a lot of shit only he knew how to do. So I was stressed.

But, speaking of shit…my stress manifested as an urgent liquification – Why is that not a word? – of my insides while I was heading into work. Seriously, I left the house feeling 100% ready to face the day. Twenty minutes later and two stops into my commute, I was running off the train looking for a bathroom.

Yup, Charbucks was the only place.

Now, being somewhat responsible and understanding that businesses do not have restrooms just to provide their employees with cleaning tasks during downtime, I resigned myself to buying a drink to fulfill my end of the “restrooms are for customer use” contract.

However, I had to go.

Unfortunately, I had entered from one door while an elderly couple was entering from another door, closer to the counter. We were the only customers in the store.

There were three employees behind the counter. One was making something against the rear counter with her back toward me. The other two were intently focused on this older couple as said couple stared at the menu above the counter.

I stood at the register, being ignored, clenching so hard that I was sweating.

“Let me know if I can answer any questions for you!” the cashier says to the couple.

“Can I order while they decide?” I ask, getting an “I’ll be with you in a moment” from the cashier. Her coworker is standing on the other side of her grinning at this old couple like they’re…I. Don’t. Know.

Optimistic and desperate, I go check the bathrooms. Locked.

I go back to the counter and ask too-happy-guy for the code, emanating distress.

“The code will be on your receipt!”, cheerily.

“Can I order now?”, I ask as the old couple asks something about whether they can get their breakfast sandwich open-faced. I’m afraid I’m about to make a gravy for their open-faced sandwich.

The too-happy-guy pries his attention away from the look-how-cute-they-are-ordering-sandwiches couple to tell me the cashier will be right with me.

She wasn’t.

But, having finally ordered my 16 ounce cold brew, I’m seeing a light at the end of my <ahem> tunnel.

“Did you want the nitro cold brew?”

Sure, whatever.

“And we don’t have 16 ounce cups, do you want a Tall or a Grande?”

Ok, lady…I don’t have the time to educate you on the fact that the entire world outside your cafe doors has 16 ounce cups and that they are just magically transformed into Talls and et als once they cross your threshold.

I’ll.

Take.

A.

Tall.

I pay and tip and then she starts to spin on her heel to walk away. “Hold on, can I get my receipt, please!”

“Oh, sure…I’m so used to it being in people’s app! I don’t think I’ve ever printed one!”

“That’s ok, I just really need it for the bathroom code!”

She takes a piece of scrap paper off the printer and then stamps it with the bathroom code.

Really? I’m disgusted by the unwillingness of too-happy-guy to stamp a fucking piece of paper to help a customer, but I don’t have time to go into that with him now.

I frantically make my way to the bathroom, unclenching as few muscles as possible to still be able to walk. Pretty sure that it’s just four muscles, legs are locked up and arms are contorted into claws as I do a zombie style shit stumble to the door.

You know, it could have been worse. Even success at that point would have cost 100% of my dignity, based on how desperate I surely looked trying to wait out the petty toilet tyrants working at Charbucks that day. Let’s just call the near-success Nicklecrap, since that was really all the evidence of my failure that left the cafe with me. It’s also a great riff of the way most people feel about Nickleback as a band.

I promise, that’s my last Nickleback joke.

I walked out of the cafe, briefly considering grabbing my tip back from the tip jar and leaving my coffee on the counter. I actually did try to leave my order there, but the third employee suddenly decided to be – pardon the entendres – worth a shit and reminded me not to forget. I took my drink, smiled and went home to change.

Of course, I tried the coffee before throwing it away.

Still crap.

Less than two months later, I’ve quit my shit company and the whole Starbucks Bathroom Debacle unfolds and I’m just sitting there reading about it and thinking, “Really, Charbucks? Really?!?”

I have some time to kill on my way home and then back to work.

I invest that time in distracting myself from the stressful day ahead by emailing my complaint to Charbucks. It’s a…sanitized version of what I just wrote. By the time I’m headed back to work, they’ve responded.

Ok, this is kind of impressive.

They are – of course – sorry. Not as sorry as they’ll end up being a couple months later. They want to give me a $15 gift card. Since I don’t have a rewards card with them – the only one they found for my email address hasn’t been used in years – so can they get my mailing address and they’ll just send a physical card.

That’s really nice of them, but really, just let the district manager know so that the bathroom Nazis at this store can be addressed.

They insist.

I give them my address and ask if they can send three $5 cards so I can use them as incentives for my employees, pointing out that my rewards account hasn’t been used in years.

The response was that they were super sorry, but the order had already been put through.

Ok, now that’s a fucked up reply. My request came through with my mailing address, so how could the order be “put through” before getting the information needed for the putting through?!?

You know what?

I let it lie and just say thank you. I’m not going to bitch about a company doing something nice for me.

You just thought to yourself, “Yet here he is, bitching about it”, didn’t you?

It’s okay. The same thought would have popped into my head, too.

But you know what else?

The cards never came.

Swing and a miss, SBUX.

My last story is similar yet hopefully quicker. I’m including it in the Grumpopotamus Diaries because this company did something over the top different in their pursuit of good customer service and good PR.

I was using my Kuhn Rikon peppermill to add pepper to my lunch back in June when the grinding mechanism dropped completely out of the bottom, adding not only whole peppercorns to my lunch but also some gears, springs and washers.

Ok. It was probably six years old. It had a good life. Ironically, I had a back up. I like the spicier peppercorns, which is what was in my now dead peppermill. My spare had regular tellicherry peppercorns in it for when I had company.

Basically, it’s lightly used.

Still, I’m a considerate enough host, right?

I take a self-congratulatory pic and post it to Instagram, pleased with myself for having a back up. I’m a regular boy scout in the kitchen.

Here’s the impressive part: Kuhn Rikon actually has a PR company that looks out for crap like this on social media. They reached out to me that day to offer a replacement.

I mean, I’m no fool…I said hell, yes!

They told me they would set it up and get me a new grinder. This was happening over a weekend, too!

Guess what?

Yup, never came.

It’s been two months. That’s probably a reasonable timeframe to expect fulfillment, right?

Here’s the deal, though. I’m pretty whole as far as this pepper grinder situation goes. I had my back up – which, truth be told, I got for free back when I worked for Sur la Table. I’m good.

What rubs me the wrong way is the overpromise/underdeliver aspect of this – and SBUX – customer service. I think any company worth a crap wants their customer experience to be the exact opposite. They want to overdeliver on customer expectations.

If they know enough to say that they need to farm these extraordinary types of customer service out so they don’t drop the ball, great! Do it! But don’t go snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by failing to follow through once your customer service team or your agency has made a commitment.

You lose all the points.

And then some bitter crank bitches about it in his blog.

Luckily, I don’t work for Bon Appetit or Business Insider, so no real jeopardy of my experiences going viral here…but if you know someone who does, feel free to let them know that I can write without cursing. J/S. End shameless plug.

Nope, wait…don’t forget to like and/or share! Now, end shameless plug.

Also, if you’re ever bored, google Bon Appetit Memes. So…disappointingly hilarious.

I know, I know…

I Took A Break

From being grumpy.

Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll be back to my normal Grumpopotamus self in the morning.

For today, though?

This has been me:

You see, e-scooters have come to Portland. You’d think I would have strong feelings about them, but I feel like the cacophonous complaints from the rest of the city has drowned me out so completely that I don’t even care any more.

Well, check that. I can still muster a sympathetic lil eye roll when someone else mentions the subject. But otherwise? Meh.

I’ve got 99 problems. E-scooters can be everyone else’s. I’m kind of just glad people are demonstrating an ability to experience the combination of low grade anger and impotence to effect change that is my daily struggle.

Go ahead, shake your fists in the air as these e-scooters silently and quickly surprise you from behind.

Rage at those windmills as people leave them scattered about without thinking of the impact their actions will have on anyone else.

Cluck your tongue in disapproval as you witness obvious violations of the simplest e-scooter operating guidelines.

…for all the good it’ll do you.

To their credit, Lime has made their operating guidelines pretty idiot-proof. To their fault, they seem to have willfully failed to realize that there is no bar so low that a #StupidAmerican won’t try and crawl under it.

Here are the rules, presented as pictographs so you barely need to know how words work to understand.I’m a little bothered that this handbrake thing needs to be explained.

There was one more about avoiding obstacles in the roadway, like potholes. I’m not in love with that one so much because I’m usually rooting for my pal Darwin anytime Stupid Americans are involved.

Hey, I don’t want bad things to happen to people. I do, however, expect their actions to support that they don’t want bad things to happen to themselves either, though.

Anyway, I’ve been listening to people carp about this or that e-scooter issue for a few weeks now. Most of the complaints tend to be one of three things:

1) Helmets

2) Riding on sidewalks

3) Scooter parking

I pretty much keep my own counsel on these conversations because, Darwin can use a win and I think these scooters can help take some of our bigger idiots out of the gene pool…I know, that was pretty savage. That said, I don’t want that win to come at the expense of some oblivious everyday Joe that’s texting as he walks down the street and trips over a carelessly parked scooter.

AKA: me.

If you remember the picture rules above, you’ll recall that there isn’t anything in the pictures that says “don’t ride on sidewalks”. As a matter of fact, I mistakenly believed that e-scooters were supposed to be used in bike lanes and sidewalks as opposed to traffic lanes.

I think I was wrong. But, aside from the stoplight picture, I only know that because I watched the maybe-minute-long instructional video on the Lime website.

How many people are gonna do that? Certainly not too many of the people complaining about the scooter users.

From what I gather from said video, you shouldn’t use e-scooters on sidewalks. I’m discerning that mainly from the demonstration video, where all scooting was done on the road and sidewalks were only shown with parked scooters. Riders were also told to obey all traffic laws and the helmet advisory was repeated.

Sorry, Darwin, old pal. If riders bother to watch this, you’re gonna get screwed.

Nevertheless, I’m just listening in on these conversations. I’m also assuming that when I complain about my grumpy old man triggers that I look like the sane e-scooter haters and not the frothy-mouthed versions.

It’s my blog, I can delude myself if I want to.

But my voyeuristic pleasure took an upgrade this week when I subscribed to Nextdoor. I’ve been hearing exasperated sighs from the Silver Fox lately when his phone Pavlov’s him and it’s not anything exciting like a text or a juicy news tidbit to fuel our coffee clatch conversation. “It’s just Nextdoor” hell say dismissively, without explaining.

So I joined.

At first, I totally got his exasperation:

Lost cats.

Inconsiderate dog owners.

People seeking recommendations.

But, then…the scooters!

Here’s a little snapshot of the conversation that’s gotten me through the last couple of days. Just my favorite parts, if you’ll pardon my editing out the repetitive stuff.

Hehe…that second guy kinda turned on the Original Poster by telling her that complaining on Nextdoor was pointless.

That last one really gave me an inner tee-hee moment. Not ten whole violations in a single hour!

The scoot-manity!

I just imagined that cranky lady sitting in the Adirondack chairs outside Lovejoy Bakery barely able to enjoy her luxury pastry and alternative milk latte for all the fist shaking she was doing. She sounds like the type that might make the staff make her a new latte since her first didn’t stay hot.

These scooters…they’re like Christmas!

Icing on the cake?

Our local free weekly rag, Willamette Week, ran a story after week one with a headline that basically congratulated us citizens for the fact that only one scooter had ended up in the Willamette River in the first week of use.

Seriously? What did they think would happen?!?

Stupid Americans.

I Took A Break