My Pocket Sun

When I started working at the Cinecave, I bought two things I realized I would need. The first was a watch, because working in a theater that’s two or three stories underground and has lots of cement overhead because it used to be a parking garage tends to drain a cell phone’s battery really damn quickly. Not to mention it’s just easier to look at my wrist then to fumble my phone out of my pocket every time I need to check the time to see if Auditorium 4 is about to get out or not.

The second thing I bought is what my coworkers refer to as my pocket sun. It’s been missing for a week.

I found my pocket sun the other night. The last time I remembered seeing it was while I was cleaning my closet. My closet is huge – it’s like sixty-four square feet. It’s a storage room, a dressing room, a hobby studio, and a clothes hanger all wrapped into one. My cats will also commandeer it for their own purposes if I’m not careful enough to keep the door closed.

Turns out, I’d left the pocket sun on a bookshelf. And then for some reason, I’d put a stack of books in front of it. Whoops.

Point of fact: I do not, in fact, carry a star in my pocket. It’s actually a compact LED flashlight. And it’s super bright. I can be standing at one end of the auditorium hall at the Cinecave and illuminate the far wall of the hall. That’s literally a city block. With a flashlight that’s about as long as my thumb.

It’s awesome. It’s also really bright.

A couple of weeks ago I was down on U Street for a happy hour at Tabaq Bistro. I met a whole lot of Twitterers and bloggers, including A Single Girl, Cupcakes & Shoes, and Sassy Marmalade, and it was a really fun time. Buuut I’d just worked the previous night at the Cinecave which, when you factor in the early hour I arise for my day job, basically meant I was running on about four and a half or five hours of sleep and was pretty tired. So I went, had a couple of beers, made my excuses, and caught the bus home.

Before I caught the bus, though, I wanted to relieve my bladder. So I ventured down to the basement, which was the only place where I could find a restroom (maybe I’m blind?). I entered the men’s room and was greeted by absolute pitch darkness. Like, seriously, even with the door open I could barely make out a sink and a urinal. I groped along the wall for a light switch and found nothing, which completely confused me. Where was the light switch? Maybe it was on the outside wall? I looked, and no light switch.

I pulled out the pocket sun and flashed it about almost blinding myself with the reflection of the light off the mirror. The restroom was small. There was a urinal and a sink, and then a stall to my left. I decided that, screw it, I’d just keep the pocket sun on and hold it on while I did my business. Here’s the problem: among the pocket sun’s flaws, and it has them, perhaps the biggest flaw is that the switch must be depressed for the light to work. Release it, and the light turns off. (The other flaw is that it’s far too easy to activate one of the light’s features like, say, strobe, and far too difficult to figure out how to turn said features off.)

I decided to try this delicate maneuver in the stall, where at least I wouldn’t blind some other patron trying to relieve his bladder. Opening the door of the stall I saw the light switch.

On the wall. Of the stall. Access blocked by the stall door.

Are you kidding me?

Who the fuck puts a light switch on the other side of the stall door?

Whoever wired Tabaq Bistro, apparently.

I WIN, IKEA!

bookshelf

Forgive the quality of the picture. A fairly long and aggravating day at both the Office, and the Bookstore, and I just spent an hour putting together this daaaaamned bookshelf.

Part of my brain has been trying to figure out what’s been wrong with the Expedit unit I bought (and couldn’t assemble) Monday. When I got home tonight, instead of checking my e-mail, brushing my teeth, and diving into bed, I stripped to boxers and a t-shirt (because building IKEA stuff is a sweaty, sweaty business), and tested my hypothesis, which is this: that the pegs which hold the inner shelves together were either too long, or that the plugs into which they’re pegged were not drilled to the proper length.

I was half right: for each shelf, the instructions call for four pegs per attachment. The inner pegs and plugs were the appropriate size, however, the outer plugs had not been unplugged enough. When the outer pegs were removed, or trimmed down, the fit was flush.

Sadly, even with pliers, removing many of those outer pegs proved most difficult. I think in my exertions Monday, I secured some of them pretty, uh, securely. When I mentioned “trimming” them down in the previous paragraphs? I wound up snapping a lot of them clean off.

Fortunately, however, an Expedit is a pretty sturdy shelf, even if you are missing a whole bunch of pegs. With the shelves flush, the rest was pretty easy, and within an hour of getting home, my new shelf is completed. My coffee table is littered with broken pegs, and my fingers are numb from the hex wrench. If I didn’t have to be up in six hours, I’d totally chug a beer to congratulate myself on persevering over this goddamn bookshelf, and for the love of fuck, if I ever mention buying stuff from IKEA again, remind me about this post. When I think it’s a good idea to buy another, I will have forgotten how much of a pain in the ass they can be, and will only remember how happy I am with additional bookshelves.

Friday? Bookshelf porn. No, no, I’m posting bookshelf porn.

UPDATE:

The shelf, in it’s final place, and properly put to use:

finished-product

responding in LOL Cat (NSFW)

To: Snay, M
From: Boss
Subj: Meeting

Hello Mr. [Snay]. Do you have any topic ideas for next Monday’s presentation? -Boss

To: Boss
From: Snay, M
Subj: Re: Meeting

funny-pictures-message-for-ceiling-cat

To: Snay, M
From: Boss
Subj: Re: Re: Meeting

I don’t understand?

To: Boss
From: Snay, M
Subj: Re: Re: Re: Meeting

funny-pictures-you-must-answer-riddles-to-pee

To: Snay, M
From: Boss
Subj: Re: Re: Re: Re: Meeting

Two things:

1. I don’t need your permission to use the restroom.
2. Am I to understand your topic idea involves cats? Our topic needs to involve technology.

To: Boss
From: Snay, M
Subj: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Meeting

urtheoryhasmerit

To: Snay, M
From: Boss
Subj: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Meeting

You are the reason I have gray hair.

To: Boss
From: Snay, M
Subj: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Meeting

sad-cat

To: Snay, M
From: Boss
Subj: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Meeting

lolcatrenderer-17

To: Boss
From: Snay, M
Subj: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Meeting

wtf-cat

To: Boss
From: Snay, M
Subj: Does the term NSFW mean nothing to you?

surrender_kitten

the 2 hour bug

Guy is the older of my two cats. He’s personable, but on his own terms. He’s not a big fan of being picked up, so when he wants to be petted, he usually gets onto the lower shelf on the bookcase behind my couch. Since I tend to dangle a hand behind my couch, he’s able to rub his head against my hand.

Incidentally, this is how I found him: I was at the Humane Society back in the fall of 1999, wanting to adopt a cat. There were stacks of cages and I was walking down them headed for the kittens, dangling my fingers along the bars, when I suddenly felt a furry explosion: this big black and white cat was vigorously rubbing his head against my hand. I stopped, stuck my fingers into the cage, and he rubbed his big old fat head back and forth. Taking him out of his cage, he promptly hissed at me. I took him home a week later. Over the years, he has grown wise to the notion that if he wishes to avoid being held, he needs to keep himself out of range of my hands.

I had a pretty awful night at the Bookstore last night, possibly the worst single night since the Christmas season. I’m not going to go into detail except to say that I won’t be answering my phone if they call me to see if I want to pick up a shift tonight. No thanks. My frustration (anger?) is a combination of several factors: primarily, somehow, I managed to put myself into a position to be the recipient of Murphy’s Law for the entire night. Angry homeless guy wanting attention and yelling at someon? He got to yell at me. DVD keeper that won’t open so I have to call an inventory guy from the back to come open it? I was at the register, alone, with half a dozen people in line. Also, a note of rather ominous intent was distributed to everyone’s mailbox yesterday talking about changes in the store’s operation, and how, if we’re not cool with it, we’re welcome to hit the road.

After work, I walked south to K street to pick up the L2 bus home. I felt fine. I mean, y’know: angry, frustrated, and possibly needing to punch someone (or cry). But, physically, I felt fine. The bus came, I got on, read a chapter or two out of McDevitt’s ‘Odyssey’, then pulled the cord as the bus rumbled towards my stop and stepped off.

The bus drops me maybe a quarter of a block from my apartment building. It was a cool night, but not cold. I was aware of the chill in the air, but I wasn’t freezing. So I crossed the road towards my building, and I suddenly felt like someone had dumped ice on me. I just started shivering, and went the whole nine yards with my teeth clattering. I hurried into my building, staggered up the stairs, and entered the elevator. I cranked up the heat in my apartment, and fired up my laptop to check my email.

Guy came up from under the bookcase, padded across the couch, and made a comforting sort of meowing sound. Then he sat right down next to me and looked up. I like to think he was saying: “Hey, dude, let’s chill.” He was probably saying: “I better get some backscratch for this.” I rubbed his head and he purred, I rubbed his furry white belly and he started trying to lick my fingers.

He wised up when I set my laptop aside and headed for safety under the bed. I threw a couple of afghans on top of the comforter, killed the heat, and Tippy, the younger cat, made herself at home on my pillow. I moved her to the side, clambered into the warm bed, and slept rather fitfully for about two hours, waking up a little before midnight drenched in sweat.

I’ve had the 24-hour bug before, quite frequently, as a matter of fact. Last night might’ve been the first time I’ve had the two hour bug, and I came through it mostly unscathed, although my throat is a little scratchy.

Message to GOP: wake up, smell the coffee, and join the 21st Century already (i.e., it’s time to throw Chip Saltsman to the wolves and elect Steele)

One of the top names being floated for head of the Republican National Committee is Michael Steele, whom some will recognize as Maryland’s former Lieutenant Governor, former candidate for Paul Sarbane’s Senate seat, and, as it happens, an African-American.

Perception, especially in politics, is everything. What would it say about the Republican Party that a political organization so long associated with racism made as its head a black guy? Actions are, as they say, louder than words. Frankly, I’ve got more pressing problems with the Republicans then their past record with race — namely, their current pandering to the religious extreme, but I think it’d still be nice for Republicans to forever seal off that ugly past.

And then …

A candidate for the Republican National Committee chairmanship said Friday the CD he sent committee members for Christmas — which included a song titled “Barack the Magic Negro” — was clearly intended as a joke.

“I think most people recognize political satire when they see it,” Tennessee Republican Chip Saltsman told CNN. “I think RNC members understand that.”

The song, set to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon,” was first played on conservative political commentator Rush Limbaugh’s radio show in 2007.

Its title was drawn from a Los Angeles Times column that suggested President-elect Barack Obama appealed to those who feel guilty about the nation’s history of mistreatment of African-Americans. Saltsman said the song, penned by his longtime friend Paul Shanklin, should be easily recognized as satire directed at the Times.

The CD sent to RNC members, first reported by The Hill on Friday, is titled “We Hate the USA” and also includes songs referencing former presidential candidate John Edwards and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, among other targets.

I think, if I were a top-ranking Republican (especially one supporting Saltsman), I’d call for Saltsman to apologize and to take himself out of the race. And I’d then immediately throw my support behind Michael Steele. This isn’t a time for namby-pamby wish-wash like “oh, it’s political satire!”: Saltsman just handed the Republican Party a golden opportunity to renounce racism within its ranks, and then stand behind that renouncement by appointing an African-American to national leadership.

Is Saltsman racist? I don’t know. But politics is always about perception, and I think most Americans remember how ugly some of those McCain/Palin rallies started to get, and I think most Americans remember rhetoric like this, and I think most Americans would like to see the “Good Old Party” become the “Good New Party” and wake up, smell the coffee, and join the 21st Century already. Maybe they’ve got to ruin Saltsman to do that — and it sucks for him — but it’s hard to imagine a politician in this day and age thinking anyone could find anything funny in any connotation of the word “negro.”

Even if they do, I promise I won’t be surprised to see Ted Danson scheduled for entertainment at the ceremony.

Editorial Update 12/27 3:36p:

Commenters on other blogs regarding this issue are claiming that a Democratic writer at the LA Times first used the term. Well, sort of. Here’s the article. I like how John put it in his comments on this post:

“The LA Times coined the term in an article that was a non biased observation piece. Taking that term and then connecting it to the playful tune of a child’s song is taking it into another context. Would you say a professor talking about the origins of the word ‘nigger’ and someone calling someone else a ‘nigger’ is the same thing? Of course not. This is no different.”

Last: yes, of course I’m about free speech. Walk down the song singing “Barack the Magic Negro” ifi you want, top of your lungs, I’ll shoot you a dirty look but I won’t staple your lips shut. But, yes, even free speech has consequences, and if that means you give people the reason to continue believing your political party is racist, that’s on you.

And here’s a link to Barack The Magic Negro on YouTube. I prefer Puff The Magic Dragon, myself.

You Make It Very Difficult For Me To Be On Your Side

As soon as the guy said, “And the bottom line is, if it isn’t, it’s coming out of your tip,” I figured I wasn’t getting much of a tip.

Which is a wonderful way to make sure the pizza guy doesn’t stalk off with your food which, to be honest, was my first reaction.

The problem originated with a coupon – buy a large at regular price, get a medium for a couple bucks. Turns out whoever the customer had spoken to on the phone didn’t recognize the coupon, so marked him down for full price. I don’t quite know which of my coworkers took the order, but I’m not surprised at the situation — Gary’s been printing new coupons every time he has to re-up on his menus, so there are a whole ton floating around.

(Here’s a secret: most pizza-shop coupons aren’t ever redeemed).

And when the guy not-so-indiscreetly threatened my tip, I was in the process of resolving the problem. This involved calling the store to find the regular price for the large speciality pie he’d gotten (I’d love to be able to say I know this stuff by heart, but Euripedes has started pushing that information out of my head), then added the price of the coupon and the mileage charge, and the new total was $19 (down from $25).

And I got a six-buck tip atop it – hurrah!

Saturdays at Work …

I usually work Saturday day-shift at the Indy shop. Lately, they’ve been slow. As in: dead slow. As in, three weeks ago, I came in at eleven, opened a book, and got 200 pages into it before Robin showed up three hours early and asked if he could finish my driving shift. I found out the next Monday that the first delivery of the day didn’t even come in until after five.

There’s a generally understood theory in pizza shops, and I imagine it applies to any job where manpower is a concern. When you’re overstaffed, you’ll be dead. When you’re understaffed, you’ll get your ass kicked.

Gary’s a big believer in this theory, so today the schedule was a bit different. Usually there are two insiders and two drivers Saturday day-time. The “swing” insider and the “swing” driver both leave about 2ish. Gary cut the “swing” insider altogether, and asked that I come in at 12 as opposed to 11. As I mentioned earlier, the hope was to trick the Deity of Busy-ness to think that we were understaffed, and thus, drum up a little extra cash all around.

It worked.

Well, sort of … we weren’t actually that busy in terms of a line of people out the door, but we had a large order from a credit card company located in the Industrial Park. It was something like twenty pizzas, fifteen feet of subs, and over 100 sodas spread out over four deliveries. Plus, there were several folks who individually ordered food. Zap and I split the CCC’s order and at the end of the day I left with a solid $40 in my pocket, a nice change of pace from the average Saturday where I leave with a big fat zero tip.

***

One of Gary’s buddies either owns or manages a tool rental warehouse in the Industrial Park. A few months ago, this buddy let Gary (free of charge) use some specialized equipment to rip up the age-old tile in the shop so Gary could put new ones down (it’s a black & white checker pattern, now). I think he might also be letting Gary use some equipment (FoC) at his house, but I’m not sure.

In any case, ever since replacing the tile, every Saturday afternoon, Gary’s been sending over a few pizzas, free of charge. We never deliver them to Gary’s buddy — I don’t know if he works Saturdays or not — instead, we deliver them to whatever grease monkeys are working the counter. My beef is that these guys never tip. Maybe it’s just me — and I might be biased in saying this — but if my boss were arranging for his buddy to deliver to me a lunch free of cost to me, I’d find a buck or two for the guy bringing them.

Whatever. I’ve mentioned it to Gary, and every now and then his buddy’ll leave some cash for me. Rarely.

Last week, Gary was out of town, and the counter boys called up the store looking for pizzas. I don’t know if it was Gary’s buddy who called or not, but as we’d had no instruction on giving them free pizza, Brett was all, “No free shit on my shift!” They were quite unpleased when I told them the total upon my arrival, but as I explained to them, there’d been no instruction left for us, and I was sure Gary and his pal could work out a refund. Finally, grudgingly, the older guy took cash out of his till for me.

Exact change.

I swear, I can never get a break from these assholes.

***

One of my deliveries today was to the Oregon Ridge Nature Center. In short, you drive past the Oregon Grill, past “The Beach” and up a road to a parking area. There is a road that leads up to the Nature Center itself but a large sign is posted which reads, “Authorized Vehicles Only.” I contemplated parking my car and walking up the road (I could use the exercise) but laziness won out and I drove up anyway. After (accidently!) kicking a trashcan containing a copperhead snake (sorry!) I joked with the woman who paid me that I was presuming a vehicle used for pizza delivery was authorized.

When Feet Strike Back?

I am rubbing the sleep from my eyes. A restless two hour nap didn’t help me rest much. The only clean socks I had this morning was this pair of winter (i.e., long) socks, so there I am, slumbering in bed in a t-shirt, boxers, and the socks dangling off my feet, which are themselves hanging over the edge. I think Tippy was playing with the socks. With her claws. I think I might’ve kicked her, once, in reflex to a claw digging into my toe. I know that whatever happened and whoever it was, there were claws attacking me again shortly thereafter.

When Feet Strike Back?

The test was easier than I expected. There was an information packet the Postal Service had mailed earlier which contained sample questions similar to those on the exam. I’m not, I think, supposed to say too much about the exam and what’s on it, but only one section (the memorization) really gave me trouble, and I think I did passable on that. From start to finish, once the test was started, it only took an hour and a half or so.

Key word: started.

As in, the information I got said the test started at eight, so I rose my ass up out of bed at a quarter after six and got myself down to Glen Burnie shortly after seven.

Arriving at the ballroom, I had to present the first page from the information packet along with my driver’s license. I also had to get past a guy with a metal-detector wand. That was fun.

I wasn’t the only person who got themselves to Glen Burnie before eight o’clock. The exam was held in some garishly decorated, poorly lit ballroom. Even the Test Monitors were complaining about the location — piss poor parking, awful lighting, and a worse sound system. The folks in the far corner kept having to shout “Can’t hear you!” at whichever Test Monitor was trying to use the PA system to administer the test.

Oh, but that came later, after they actually started the test.

Because for probably an hour and a half about the exam was supposed to start, we all sat and waited as more and more stagglers kept being admitted. Apparently the Post Office has been running two or more exams per day at the ballroom for the entire week, and people were failing to show up when they were scheduled, but rather, whenever they felt like it. In any case, the small group I was sitting with was quickly mumbling about, “It’s past eight o’clock” and “What the fuck, why don’t we start?” and “Cripes, now I know why my dad bitches about the government being inefficient…”

Once the exam started things moved fairly quickly. Of the testing population, there were probably about nine hundred people, a good number of those were middle-aged or older. One of the forms we were handed was a “choice sheet” which listed the twenty-four or so post office branches located within the Baltimore Region Employment Office (or whatever they termed it)*. You were supposed to select what three Post Offices you would like to be considered for employment at (I suppose final hiring is done by individual Post Masters?), as well as what job openings they had. I marked Cockeysville, Lutherville-Timonium, and Owings Mills. One white girl, at the other end of the table, made a big deal about how she wanted to work in a small, rural post office where she didn’t have to deal with “urban life” (read: black people, which is how I and I think everyone who overhead her interpreted her comment). There weren’t many white people around (maybe a dozen and a half?), and I was distinctly uncomfortable as she (quite loudly) made these comments. Thankfully, none of my table-mates took it out me, instead rolling their eyes and ignoring the idiot.

Did I mention the Monitors constantly interupted testing repeatedly to warn the folks who had parked in specific areas were going to get their vehicles towed if they didn’t move them immediately? “Black Ford Explorer, License Plate…”

“We told you where to park!” one Monitor said at the PA stand. That’s not true, though – nothing on the information packet said anything about where or where not to park.

Fortunately, the last three sections were a “personality” test, and once finished, applicants were free to turn their test over to a Monitor and scram. As soon as I was finished — it was the same five questions repeated fifty times — I was out the door. Thankfully my car had not been towed, but removing myself from the parking lot was a bit of a pain as cars were parked illegally everywhere — they blocked lanes and other vehicles. I finally freed myself and raced north on Ritchie Highway, glad to be free.

I got home slightly before noon.

And napped.

And now am about to head off to work.

(Hopefully, not for much longer)

Woot!

*There was only one entry for Baltimore City, so I guess working at a specific City P.O. is “as will”)

Pre-Postal Exam Post

My exam for the Post Office is tomorrow. Morning. At eight.

In Glen Burnie.

I bought a pair of nice khakis to wear, and started a load of laundry about an hour ago with the intention of washing those pants, a white t-shirt, and a black polo shirt to wear to the exam.

I put the black polo and the white t-shirt in the laundry. I, about thirty seconds ago, realized that the khakis are still in the bag. Son of a … In addition, after putting the laundry in the washer, I let it sit for an hour before remembering to stick it in the dryer. Which means I can either leave it there until I get home from work or be late to work.

(I’ll leave it).

In any case, I need to set my alarm for six and be in bed no later than midnight. I’d like to get down there earlier, particularly as opposed to getting down there late, right?

The exam itself lasts three and a half hours, so I should be home around noonish tomorrow. The information packet says it takes three weeks for exam scores to be processed, and the hiring procedure is based on the exam score.

I’m nervous, but I’m sure I’ll be wanting to throw up tomorrow on my way to Glen Burnie. I also bought a box of #2 pencils and a sharpener for the exam – I’m supposed to bring the pencils, and I want to make sure I’ve got a sharpener ‘cuz somehow I don’t think they will.

I have another exam, on the 22nd, with the Bel Air regional office. That exam is at a wonderful eleven am.

And I’m glad that one is in Bel Air — I’m wondering WTF is up with always having to drive down to Glen Burnie for my various interviews & related meetings …

Midget Porn Girl And Why I Wanted To Stick Her Head in Pizza Sauce

Ogre put in his two weeks notice today. He was hired by corporate to work at the Goucher Store. “I dunno,” he was saying at work, “This guy is saying he’s going to work me like forty hours a week, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to come by and help out when Greg is on vacation.”

Because forty hours a week is soooo much. Besides, after corporate’s had him for about a week they’ll probably send him right back to us. Joy. Things work out, however, Ogre was scheduled a full slate next week and I picked up a shift and a half from him, as I’ve been neglecting my hours lately and need to, uh, get out of that trend.

This morning, at the other job, the new girl, Sam, let it slip that she is, technically, a midget. It is a bit odd that Gary hired her, as he once insisted he would never hire any girls: “Everybody looks at their asses and tries to sleep with them and no work ever gets done!” But not only did he hire her, he also hired her friend Jo. And, yeah, probably has something to do with their parents being friends of Gary.

(Which also explains why Gary went to every single employee and explained in no uncertain terms how anyone so much as looking at the girls wrong would be chit-chattin’ with the business end of a shotgun).

In any case, Sam mentioned she was technically a midget. And, well, she is rather short. Zap and Gary heard this, looked at each other, and the rest of the afternoon was filled with sacastic remarks concerning the yellow brick road, umpa-loompas, and the hiring practices of midget porn producers.

I almost blew my top with Sam. She’s primarily been on counter, which means she’s taking a lot of phone orders. In two weeks, she has failed to grasp the concept of taking a delivery order to a business. Alternatively, she will forget to get an address, business name, contact name, extension number or suite number. If she remembers that, she forgets to total the order, or neglects to inquire if the customer would like to add a tip to the credit card. Three times – three times! – I’ve written her a cheat-sheet of what information she needs for a delivery time and three times – three times! – it has vanished from sight the next day I work with her. After spending ten minutes running around the Executive Plaza looking for a person who ordered a pizza (Sam didn’t get a phone number, and no business name, but did get a suite number, which is great except Executive Plaza has four buildings and of course, the suite number I was looking for was in the last building I got to). So by the time I got back to the store I was really ready to kill her — throttling her was going to be my number one option, but I was also considering drowning her in the sauce bucket.

In any case, she know has List #4 Of The Very Important Contact Information You Need On Delivery Orders and I’m sure that tomorrow I’ll be writing List #5.

Later in the day, Gary and I were talking about the Jeep Jamboree or whatever it is up in the Poconos in two weeks. He’s taking his Unlimited up. “Need to crawl under it tonight, see what skid-plates I need,” he told me. Yeah, then get ‘em shipped to you express. He signed up for the most advanced trail he can find, and he’s worried they won’t let him participate.

This topic somehow led us into Alpine Sliding. When I was a kid, my family used to go up to Vermont every summer (well, maybe not every summer, but four or five in a row). I think we’d go to Manchester, or Montpelier? The names slip, I admit. It was a small town in a valley, as I recall, and nearby was, what was during the winter months, a hip-hoppin’ ski lodge. During the summer other modes of entertainment were brought to light, namely: alpine sliding. As I recall, you’d take a ski-lift to the top of the mountain, then ride a slide down several different concrete half-tubes.

(God I love Google: this has to have been where we went.)

Discussion then somehow changed to Iceland. Not entirely sure how … anyway, I brought up something Neckbone had mentioned on his blog: the 5th gait of Icelandic horses. When the new girl, Sam, came back for dinner shift, I asked her what the gaits of a horse were. Sam, who claims to have been around horses her entire life, looked at me as if I was speaking Klingon.

“Gait, y’know, gait?”

“Gate?” she repeated, holding her hands together and then opening them slowly and making a squeaking sound.

“No, silly,” Jo chided her. “Gait … speed.”

Tipping Guide

Mike asked in comments,

Just so I don’t get on your bad side, perhaps you could post a handy chart for pizza delivery tipping? I’ve always been a bit unsure on the topic. Does one tip on the tip on the total price of the order or the number of items we make you carry? Is there a standard Good/Bad percentage you look for? I know I didn’t understand how to tip at restaurants until I dated a waitress.

Mike,

The best guide is to tip $4 or 20%, whatever is larger. And if the shop you order from has a “delivery charge”, make sure to find out how much of that — if any — actually gets to the driver (usually it finds its way into the owner’s grubby hands).

For me, I usually look at tips on a good/bad factor dependent on a few conditions — the first is the proximity of the delivery to the store. The further I have to go, the higher the tip I expect. Likewise, if I’m delivering a pizza in snow or during a thunderstorm, I expect higher tips. I also expect larger tips on holidays. Conversely, if the asshat taking phone orders tells the customer it’ll be at their door in half an hour when really our average delivery time is an hour, I’m expecting a smaller than usual tip. Also, even if there are factors out of my control that slow down the delivery — kitchen fuck-ups, traffic, etc. — depending on how much I’m slowed down, I expect a negative tip hit.

I set my own route (the order in which I take my deliveries) and it is certainly prioritized based on which customers have treated me the best in the past. And you’d best bet all drivers chit-chat about who the good customers are as opposed to the cheap-asses. It’s not so much about taking food to cheap-asses late as it is getting food hot to the people who take care of us, y’know?

How To Describe Last Night …

… Hell?

It generally has all the factors I like about working. Me and only one other driver. Busy. Ross running the shift. Usually a good formula to make cash. Not last night. Last night was … well, look above.

The thunderstorm didn’t help any. Jacksonville/Phoenix is a very rural area — stretches of farms as far as the eye can see, dotted randomly with McMansions and the oddly placed trailer. Rows of corn give way suddenly to hints of suburbia and you’re just as likely to encounter a brand new H2 or a Porsche on the winding back roads as you are a tractor or some other ridiculously oversized farm vehicle. The delivery area itself is roughly as large as Baltimore City, yet there are only four traffic lights, four gas stations, and no roads wider than two lanes. There are at least a dozen one-lane bridges, and most roads are through heavily forested areas with large beautiful trees that shield drivers from the glaring sun.

Of course, on nights like last night it means that there were large branches littering the pavement, and it made driving a bit more treacherous. Plus, of course, everyone and their mother decided to order pizza, and what with traffic + weather the result was super long delayed deliveries.

I would like to thank the people who could see the weather and weren’t (too) upset when I arrived with their food over an hour after they’d ordered it. Most of them tipped very well, even the lady who had no power. They made up for the rest of the night.

On the customer side, thanks to the lady up off Glen Elyn who gave me an evil look and didn’t tip me. “That’s for being late,” she told me. Thanks for being a bitch, I thought about telling her. Little did she understand – she normally only tips a buck, and while I would have liked that buck, it’s not like she’s really hurting my earnings, y’know? Plus, the next time she orders, her pizzas going to sit in my trunk — out of the hot bag — while I take all the other deliveries I’m also routed with.

Also, to the asshole who has the three mile long driveway? I don’t mind having to stop my car to move big branches out of my way, but the least you can do is tip more than a buck when I get to you. I don’t even think you did it to be mean, I think you just did it to because you don’t know better. By the way, when you set out today in that nice flashy sports car, I hope you notice the excellent job I did putting all of those branches back across your driveway.

I am very glad last night is over.

Ogre. Foot. Mouth. And What I Should Have Said

Good god, what happened to me? It’s like I went from “Blog Whore Supreme” to “Pre-Content Challenge JWER” overnight.

That’s sort of to be expected — spending a lot of time on another hobby this weekend, keeping it under wraps for now (the project, not the hobby), something I’d been thinking about doing for a long time and finally decided to start working on it. I’m about as far as I can get on it for now — and, on a personal note, I think it looks fuckin’ fantastic. Waiting on a Bricklink order to arrive (hopefully soon), and hopefully I’ll have it to show ya’ll soon.

Here’s a hint:
bloghint.JPG

***

I’ve been dog-sitting for this guy (The Mysterious Mister N.) while he’s been in Iceland for two and a half-weeks. Pila was quite a mess – peeing and vomiting all over the place. Ate two house plants and destroyed a vase.

Payment for house sitting was N.’s Jeep Wrangler. I enjoyed it thoroughly, although I’d been hoping to knock the odometer over the 17,000 marks. I put roughly 700 miles of hard driving on the Jeep, so I’d say I got my fun out of it. I’d been planning a little surprise for Mr. N on his return to Baltimore yesterday evening. I was going to leave a note for him on his door, “Mr. N., I regret to inform you that I will not be able to return your Jeep to you in one piece.”

See, because two pieces of the Jeep – the doors – would be in his basement. Then I’d return the rest of the Jeep to him … whenever. Unfortunatly, I had to work tonight, so while the doors stayed inside his home (the dining room), I was not able to give him a good scare. He called me last night and I related this to him, and he paused for a moment, then said, “Y’know, after a day of travel, coming home to that … I think I probably would have introduced you to my friend, Mr. Benelli.”*

He’s such a jokester.

PS – Mr. N., please note that the blue bowl in your sink – which was removed from your dishwasher – was used so that Pila did not have to eat her wet dog food from the can. Figured Alpo isn’t anything the dishwasher can’t clean good as new, and couldn’t figure where you other yellow lab-food-able bowls might be.

***

There are a bunch of insiders at the franchise job in high school or just graduated. One of them, Ryan, looks exactly like Daniel Radcliffe. Another, Elliot, has bright red hair. Anyway, today, at shift change, Elliot (who is running some day shifts), me, and Ross had a brief discussion about the newest Harry Potter book (technically, Ross doesn’t read them, he listens to the audio books). I mentioned to Elliot Ryan’s resemblance to a certain Boy-Who-Lived, and Elliot’s eyes widened, “OH MY GOD YOU’RE RIGHT!”

“Doesn’t that make you a Weasley, then?” Ross inquired of Elliot.

An hour or so later, bored out of mind, I began changing names on the schedule. I changed Ryan’s to “Harry Potter”, Elliot’s to “Ron Weasley”, and Greg (the owner’s) to “T. Riddle.” On a whim, I changed Zebulon’s name to Hermoine (hey, he’s got the hair) and Ogre’s to “Neville L.”

Ogre, recently returned from vacation to Florida or some other place with a lot of sun and heat (coulda just stayed here) mumbled about his name change when Ross was trying to check him out, “So now I’m N-ee-vil, am I?” (That’s how he pronounced it).

At this point, Ogre shoved his foot into his mouth for the umpteenth time. He’s really quite good at it, I must admit. “Harry Potter is for twelve year olds.”

Mind you, the person saying this once bragged that he spent some ridiculous amount of money on a computer for the sole purpose of viewing porn. The only reading he ever does is of the articles in porno-mags (or, at least, he keeps claiming “I buy them for the articles.”)

I think Ogre preforms opinions on certain things that he honestly doesn’t care about just so he can involve himself in unrelated discussions. Once, when he’d just started working here, I was talking to a guy named Mike B. about tv box sets on DVD when Ogre walked up and somehow changed the conversation to how people who don’t believe in God shouldn’t spend American money since it has printed on it “In God We Trust.”

Of course, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you probably know what I think of Ogre. (Minus the martial arts crap).

What I Should Have Said to Ogre, “Oh, so it’s on your level is it?”

I did not say this for a few reasons. Primarily because Greg asked me to back off Ogre. Prior to Ogre’s vacation, he and I had been engaged in an escalating series of confrontations. I’ll say what I said to Greg — it’s frustrating to work on a busy night, trying to get as many of your closing duties done as you can between deliveries, only to come back and find out that even though all you have to do is mop, you can’t because the guy who is supposed to have swept the floor – Ogre – hasn’t because he’s been in the back munching on four-hour old cheesesticks. Oh, and he’s also got back from his last delivery an hour ago. Extraordinarily frustrating. So, out of respect to Greg, I kept my mouth shut.

The second reason is that really, I don’t find much childish about Harry Potter. Maybe the first book, a little bit, but they’re still better than any of Tom Clancy’s technomanuals, and far and away better than anything Stephen King’s put out lately. Susanna Clarke’s “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” was on-par, and “The Historian” was a considerable let down.

In any case, about a second after Ogre’s pronouncement, Ross swiveled away from the office desk and fixed his eyes on Ogre. Ross is a tall guy, with a great bushy beard. Bump into him in a forest and you might think he’d be living in a shack playing with explosives. Really, he’s a big playful goof, and his nephews and nieces (whom he lives with) probably call him “Chewbacca” because he bears a certain resemblance to the big walking carpet. Ross addressed Ogre simply, “Are you saying I read at a twelve-year old’s level?”

Remarkeably, Ogre, who generally hangs around the store for hours after he’s checked out, was gone within five minutes. Woohoo for Ross!

(*That entire quote — or at least, the vast slim majority of it — was made up.)

alcoholic dog

Last night on a delivery, to a regular customer who orders at least twice a week and always tips well, she addressed her dog — a big big big creature, don’t ask me what kind, I’m amazed myself that I can identify a Golden Retriever from a Yellow Lab — as “Guiness.”

I inquired if the dog was named after the beer.

“Yep. He’s black and tan and very stout!”

Dear Carl

Dear Carl,

I understand that you work in a garage, but if you aren’t going to tip me, could you at least pay me with a bill that isn’t stained with grease, oil, and dirt? I’d like to keep my wallet clean. Thank you.

-Your Loving Pizza Guy