Too Much Time On My Hands

May 29, 2008 at 3:38 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  ….Song by Styx….

  I went from having 3 jobs working six days a week and over 70 hours to 2 jobs, five days per week, under 50 hours.  Amazing.  Wonderful.  I’m….so happy.
  Yeah, you know, I don’t know what the hell to do.  With myself, with Detroit.  With us.  I swear I see her so much now that she’s getting on my nerves.  (Ha–I knew you’d be reading this!)
  The thing is, I *know* that I’m lazy.  I need to having something planned or scheduled to do or I won’t do it.  Right now, I have nothing.  It’s only been a few days, and I am bored out of my fucking skull.  Christ, what am I gonna do?  Do I have to get another job just to keep me busy?  I am not a busy body.  Really I’m not.
  Or am I? 
  As soon as I started to see all this time open up for me like the open highway laid bare before me at sunrise, I began to see all the possibilities….of how I could fill up my time.  I signed Detroit and me up for a Tai Chi class on Tuesday night.  I considered trying to take tae kwon do again (my body’s not ready for that yet).  I thought about taking other classes.  I want to do the stand up again.  I might be able to get a radio show at the local college station.
  I want to take up golf.  Or bowling.  Or maybe archery.  Or a combination of archery and bowling, where you roll the ball and then shoot arrows at it.  Or maybe….someone else rolls the ball and then you shoot arrows at *them*.
  I want to cook out more.  I want to have friends over.  I want to have more friends and spend time with them…but sometimes that’s a distraction.  Plus I don’t really like people anyway.  And I suppose the biggest thing that has been weighing on my mind is writing:  I want to write.  I looked at my files, my idea list.  If I write a novel a year, I need to live until I’m 90.  And I’ll probably have more ideas between now and then.  I guess I should list all the things I want to do, and try to determine how much I really want to do them.
  And the goddamn internet is just too much.  I used to love it, enjoy it.  Now I feel like…..ugh.  Yes, I know you are reading this on the internet.  Shouldn’t YOU be doing something else, too? 
  For someone with a finely cultivated ADD, the internet is like giving heroin to a cocaine addict–it’s a whole new bad, bad thing to get hooked on.  And then add Stumble to the mix  ..I envision a future where homeless people lay in the street, with internet-connected spectacles and bottles of booze, asking passers-by for a dollar, or some wi-fi, so they can get online and browse for useless information, stupid opinion blogs, and LOLcats.  Desperate and dirty, lying in the gutter muttering, "Interwebs …. interwebs …."

  I wander throughout my house like a caged lion wearing underwear.  I go to the tv, I go back to the computer.  Back to the tv, then to the kitchen, then back to the computer.  Bathroom, then patio.  I open the door and look outside.  I know I’m in my underwear.  The old ladies across the street can’t see this far.  I look up at the sky and down the street.  Back to the kitchen, I open the fridge for the 7th time in 46 minutes, to see if anything has changed since last time.
  I need something to do before I go out of my fucking mind.

No Shame

May 29, 2008 at 3:34 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  The traditional thing to do on Memorial Day Weekend.  Hmmm…Go to the pool, and bbq, and drink beer.
  Neither Detroit nor I are big on the pool thing…although I would like to go, sit in the water, and watch all the chicks.  But I only want to do that because I’m a pervert.
  So we did the bbq thing.  We talked about inviting people over, but never did, actually.  My sister came over, that was it.  Better, I suppose; I spent most of the day in my underwear.  We went to the store early, I forget what for.  Then I it rained.
  I waited the rain out, and it stopped about 11ish.  I started the fire…and it rained again.  Luckily, I closed the lid to the side I had the fire on, but opened the firebox side so it could breath.  The rain pitter-pattered off of it and instantly turned to steam.  Then it poured.
  And then the rain passed, and the sun came out.  Just in time to start cooking.
  I was cooking for just Detroit and I…but I can’t start the grill up and cook two pork steaks and two hot dogs.  That’s just stupid.  I bought a small slab of ribs, a small package of pork steaks (4), some brats, and we had some hot dogs.
  Not to mention salad, macaroni and cheese, and corn on the cob.  And chips and dip.  And beer.
  Okay, so look.  I’ve  been working on a grill for ten years.  I can grill the shit outta some meat.  Grilling–no problem.  Barbequeing–slow cooking–is another manimal entirely.  If you don’t know the difference, you’re kind of a dumbass.
  I know the difference…but I can’t exactly barbeque.  At least I realize this, I am man enough to admit it.  I want to learn.

  The thing was, I think I just didn’t cook it long enough.  If you’re going to slow cook something, you need to cook it longer than an hour.  It was done…..but it wasn’t DONE.  The brats and the hot dogs were fine, obviously.  Corn on the cob was excellent.
  The kabobs?  I learned a few things.  First of all, broccoli on a kabob is a stupid idea.  Second, even if you have small pieces of red potato, cook them in advance.  Lastly, a vinegarette marinade seems like a good idea, but don’t soak the squash in it.  The beef was good, and tender.
  So I gave up on the ribs and pork steaks, disgusted.  My sister is an idiot; she said they were "so tender."  No, no they weren’t.
  The next day, figuring I had nothing to lose, I put the steaks and the rest of the slab of ribs in a pan, added water, added the rest of the bottle of barbeque sauce, covered it in foil.  I set the oven for 325, I think.  I didn’t want the stuff to scorch, which I believe 400 would have done.  Set the timer for an hour. 
  They looked good when they came out.  And not burned.  Give ’em another half hour.
  By that time they came out, they were perfect.  This has led me to believe that all I needed to do was cook them longer.  Maybe even do it in a pan with sauce on the grill, but cook them longer.
  The flavor was good, it had always been good, with the rub and then a little bit of sauce.  But the texture and tenderness were finally there.  Detroit works with a man that barbeques semi-professionally; I hope to take some lessons from him, learn from him.  Learn from somebody, hell.  Ya know.  In the meantime, I’m going to keep trying, because I think I’m getting closer.
  Meanwhile, things like chicken breast and steaks I’m going to continue to grill.  They are small enough, like brats and dogs, that slow cooking is unnecessary.  I can do this.

  I guess I need to learn how to drink beer better as well.  I had about 6 beers.  Over the course of nine hours.  I never got drunk, not even a buzz.  Just a headache, and then I got tired.  I need to drink the first couple a little faster–
  –or occasionally do a shot with.  All day drinking requires some planning.  You can’t just jump into it with no forethought.  Maybe I need to hang around someone who can teach my how to do that.
  But I want to have a get-together, a party, a suarez, a hootenanny.  Have some people over, cook, drink, hang out.  Is that too much to ask?  All of you are invited.  BYOB.

To “The Bitter End”!

May 23, 2008 at 11:22 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
The Road I’m Not Going To Travel…

  Little Josh, the turd with whom I work at the bank, is interested in buying the restaurant.  He alludes to it, thinking that I would be working for him.  He would be my boss.  Then I finally get what he means.  "Ohhh.  Nope."
  We talk about the restaurant.  I explain that I almost bought it four years ago, but the timing was bad.  It was right at the time I was buying my house, and Bunny and the Big L were considering buying a different restaurant.  But their deal fell through, so they couldn’t sell it to me.
  "Why don’t you buy it now?" young Josh asks.
  I have to be careful here, diplomatic.  I don’t want to dissuade a potential sucker.  I mean buyer.  I say to him, "Look, I like my job here.  I don’t see *anyone*.  If I get a phone call, it’s a wrong number.  If I see a customer, they’re lost.  I’ve been in the restaurant business for over 20 years.  You have no idea of the level of contempt I have for the general public."  I paused.  "But yeah, I’ll come to work for ya." 
  And an evil, maniacal laugh slips out.
  Suddenly his smile turned into a frown.  Well, as long as I can turn something upside down.
  Oh, crap.  Do I want to work with him, for him?  Ugh.  Do I want to continue to work there–with the summer coming up?  Double Ugh.  I see within my grasp the ability to have the ENTIRE WEEKEND off.  Do I want to give that up?  Ugh with a side of No Fuckin Way, Jose.
  What to do, what to do….

To "The Bitter End"
  Don’t say it with seriousness.  Not as a grim statement of resolve and determination.  Say like you’re making a toast!  "To the bitter end!"  "The Bitter End!"  Clink your glasses.
  I went into Scooters my second-to-last day.  Hmmm.  No Megan.  No Jamie.  Hell, I was hoping I could get one of the girls to lift their shirt for me.  The Dude’s last day was Monday, and Sean The Philosopher quit over a week ago.  Who’s left?  Me, Larry.  Blond Sean, and Alex.  And Scott, the Big L.
  I get there, and Alex is there.  Larry is on a run, and no girls.  Alex said, "Only the strong survive, huh dude?" and thereafter that song was stuck in my head.  Appropriate, I guess.  Motown fits the mood.  Larry stays till about 730, and Alex closes.  Both of them were dayshift.  We closed early, at 8 (actually about 745.)  Am I going to get in trouble?  Funny.
  It was a slow night.  Being close to being done, I had the opportunity to be rude to some customers…but I didn’t have it in me.  I was hoping ("Come on, be an asshole.  Give me an open!  Give me a reason!), but no one did.  Maybe I’m not the asshole I pretend to be.
  Or maybe I’m just tired.  I want it to be done, I want it over.  And as much as I feel it, I’m sure Scott feels it tenfold.  I quit being full time here over three years ago.  But for seven years, I worked full time, and he worked even more.  You pour your heart and soul into a place–you have big plans, big dreams, and your ambition drives you…until there’s nothing left but an empty shell.  You forsake family and friends.
  Some experts in the foodservice industry deny the existence of the phenomenon known as "burnout."  These experts must have never worked in a fucking restaurant.  It’s real, it exists, it’s there.  You can see it.  You can the dead look in the eyes and the apathy on the faces of people who would rather–honestly–be in Hell.  They know Hell is a bad place, eternal torment and damnation and suffering–but they look at their current situation and think, "Well, as long as there aren’t any customers, I’m there."
  I’ve had burnout a few times.  Scott is beyond burned out.  Owning a business–being responsible for EVERYTHING day in and day out–takes it’s toll.  I almost bought the stupid thing (avoided that noose), but afterwards I had a moment of clarity:  Any place where you have employees is going to be a headache.  Their problems become your problems.  I knew that as a manager; as an owner it’s worse.  If you’re going to own a business, it’s best to have a one-man operation.  Something you don’t have to depend on other people for.
  Like a gigolo.
 
  I felt like I was on the edge of civilization.  Like….this was soon to be consumed by an invading army, and people were running for the hills, but a very few stalwart and stubborn idiots chose to stay, and protect their homeland. 
  I felt like I was on a long-running sitcom, whose peak had long since passed, and coming up was the series finale.  The cast had changed so many times, hardly any of us that remained were from the first season.  Like a soap opera, people moved on, got married, died, had brain transplants, or were kidnapped by their evil twin and brainwashed by aliens.  We weren’t even up for an Emmy this season.
  I felt like I was losing friends and people I knew, and places familiar.  Like I was getting ready to follow a wagon train and never return.
  I felt like a place I had worked at and spent so much time at was closing, and ten years of my life was about to be erased.

  Raise a glass.  "To the Bitter End!"

The End Of An Error

May 22, 2008 at 10:41 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  The time-line is a little fuzzy for me, but any way you slice it, I worked at the O’Fallon location of my friend’s restaurant longer than I worked at any other individual location at Domino’s.  Some stores I worked in for a day, or a few hours.  Some, years.  Cross Keys I had for two years.  Hazelwood I never managed. but put in a total of about 5 years or more there.  How long was I at Scooter’s?
  Ten Years.
  This Sunday is the Last Day For Scooters.  They are closing their doors.

  I’m not going to go into the whys and wherefores; however, it’s not the economy.  It might be the *local* economy, though.  This town, this city of O’Fallon, MO has grown by leaps and bounds in the last ten years.  Bursting at the seams, it is.  Some experts project that it will become the 3rd largest city in the state in a few years–behind only the City Of St Louis and Kansas City, MO.  But that should be good for business, right?  Population boom, more customers?
  Have you ever gone shopping on Christmas Eve?  Ever happen to see a crowd?  It’s then that you realize that everybody and their uncle, cousin, brother, aunt and baby-mamma had the same idea:  Let’s open a fucking restaurant.  The slogan for O’Fallon should be "No local culture–but more restaurants than you can shake your dick at."
  Combine that with other business-specific issues–
  I almost the damn restaurant 4 years ago.  What a cluster fuck I would be in now….
  But mostly, they were good years.  Especially after how I was used and abused at Domino’s, this was a cartharsis.  One boss, who was a friend–who had been through the same BS I had been through. 
  No supervisors rolling through, telling you what you should have done.  No corporate shills nitpicking for mistakes.  The only people we had to answer to was the health department.
  Ha!  No nametags!  That was the rule.
  In ten years, I’ve seen alot of employees roll through.
  Larry, who I’ve known since the early 90s from Domino’s, and is still there.  Older than me and never been married…when he had to sell his house (which he bought a couple of years ago, moving out of his mother’s house at age 45) to avoid foreclosure, he may have given up on the fairy tale that he might still get married and have kids.  Good luck with that one, dude.
  Rick, who I saw the other night–another throwback from Domino’s.  A funny, funny guy.  But not as funny as he thinks he is.  Not like me.
  Sean the Spaz.  From the early days.  So was Mike.  However, Mike fucked Sean’s wife, and one of them had to leave.  Sean left.  He came back recently–was it a year ago?–before moving to Oregon.
  Let’s see, we had a short hairy Italian whose name I forget.  He cheated on his wife with Melissa, who worked for us when she was separated from her husband.
  Mike fucked her too.  Melissa actually wanted to fuck me, maybe because she wanted to complete her set.  When I rebuked her (unknowingly, Because I’m oblivious), she came up with a plan to entrap me in a sexual harassment suit.  It fell apart because she was stupid, and we never saw her again.  But–proof again that I’m not kidding, chicks really do dig me.
  Another girl worked there–what was her name?  I don’t know, but Mike fucked her once as well.  Jen?  Hmm.  And then Krystal.  Krystal was there almost from the beginning?  No, but from early times.  How long has she been gone?  Two years ago she got married.  Two years before that she left Scooters.  She worked for us for four years.  So she came in at about the four year mark.  Krystal will always be my favorite.  She joined us right out of high school, worked for us while she went to school to earn her teaching degree, and then got a job teaching.
  And then she met a man from the Air Force.  He came back from Iraq, and then was going to be deployed to Turkey.  They got married, and she went with.  Krystal will always be my favorite.
  We’ve had our share of retards.  Ed looked like a sex change gone horribly awry and acted like he was on downers.  I hired a couple of clowns that were friends, they lasted almost two weeks.  Idiots, the both of them.  Josh was the character I wrote about in Happy New Year, Sucka, and Curtis was the theme of Beer Buddy.
  Another Curtis was a fag but a good worker–but he suffered from the prima donna syndrome:  He felt he was the best, he should be in charge, he should get a raise.  But listen buddy, you deliver food and do dishes.  This ain’t rocket science.  It’s not even earth science.  Astrology, maybe.
  Let’s see..we had a dude named Shannon.  Young cocky blonde dude.  And a Wiccan.  The thing about Wiccans–or maybe it was just him–was that, no matter what you said when you were trying to understand his beliefs, you were always wrong.  I did an experiment.  He explained something to me, and the very next day I said, "So is it like this?–" and repeated his phrasing verbatim.  He said, "No, that’s not right."  Because I wasn’t in his little thing I would just never "get" it.  Dickhead. He sold me a laptop….that was fucked up.  Then the bastard skipped town.
  At one time or another we had some inside people.  Kelly was Krystal’s friend, and went out with the owner’s son Josh (different Josh) a few years ago. She…man, she smelled nice.  She’s in the Air Force now, I think.  Kelsea, the owner’s daughter, came to work for us for a while also.  She was nicer than she let on that she was.
  Chris worked for us for a while–and then after he left his sister Jodi came in.  Then Jodi’s friend Megan came in.  After a while, Jodi left–just recently, really.  Then Megan’s friend Jamie came to work.  It’s always nice to have cute girls to work with.  Jamie is a cute little red head with a tiny, cute little butt.  And she smells nice.  Fuckin 19 years old, too.  I love barely legal porn.
  Before the girls came on we had Ted.  Ted was the fucker responsible for me smoking cigars.  He was a big guy, like me.  But uglier.  And he would wander around aimlessly, or follow me.  I was wandering around aimlessly, and he followed me.  Then I turned around and there he was.  I said,"Jesus!  Quit following me around like a damn dog!"
  Derek was with us for a while as a driver.  He got pissed at me one night, and decided he could run shifts.  After that, we got along.  He left to become a truck driver.  His wife is a hot red head, but she is psychobitch crazy, worse than my ex.  Seriously.  I don’t care if she can suck start a leaf blower and flames come out of her ass when you fuck her, I wouldn’t put up with the shit he puts up with.  And I’ve put up with alot.
  Sean the Philosopher we’ve had for a while–and he just recently quit, which was odd.  Early on, I did not like him.  Now, I either like him…or just got used to him.  I think he grew up a bit is what actually happened.  But he still says completely whacked-out shit.  He starts with "Atlantis" and then makes a hard left down Batshit Crazy Boulevard and ignores posted speed limits.
  Jay worked with us for a while–a friend of Scott’s and a golf pro.  Worked at a golf course during the day–in the winter he picked up some hours in the evening with us.  Another odd duck.  He was a cook.  Another guy hired to cook  and run shifts–I don’t remember his name, but we got rid of him.  He claimed to know me from Domino’s and I don’t remember him.  But every time I turned around he had his head in the walk in and a mouth full of food.  And there was Dohn–and that makes three Jehovah’s Witnesses we had working for us.  One was an idiot, one was a closet gay and control freak.  Dohn was cool, and normal.  Very nice guy.  Married recently–hey, he owes me money!
  Been throw a few losers recently–little Scotty, the one who broke into the place, and Matt, who–as bad as his drug problems were, his problem with lying was even worse.  And then his friend Alex.  Alex is great compared to Matt.  But that’s not saying much.  Alex is just a typical lazy fuckin kid, a stoner.
  Most recent acquisition is Sean.  Blonde Sean or New Sean we call him.  Nice guy–we talk computers and stuff alot, he’s a good guy.  Kinda feel bad for him that we are closing–he needs to get a job.  He’s blond with light skin and so is his wife–I told him if they have any kids they’re going to be albino.
  Of course I can’t forget Todd, who I recently wrote about in Watch Out For The Man.  And there’s The Dude.  I was worried about him–I always am–but he just found another job.  As the fear of closing loomed over our heads it was more stress than he could take.

  So now what?
  Well, I still have my job at Domino’s Pizza.  Between the two, I was working five nights.  Now I’m working three nights–after this week, one.  So I’m going to pick up one more night, like a Wednesday or Thursday.  Even if it’s at another store.  That would be enough to make up (most of) the shortfall of those two days.  The point is, however, that I won’t be working Saturday night anymore.  I’m going to actually have a real weekend.  I’ve always worked the weekend.  When I was manager I often worked Friday-Saturday-Sun.  My "weekend" was Monday…..and Wednesday.  Even when I started to get Sundays off, I still worked Friday and Saturday night.  And working late on those days means you sleep late the next day, which is exactly what I do now when I close on Friday night.  I sleep till noon, get up, eat something, lie around, and then go to work.
  To have the weekend off–to have the whole two days spread before me like an eager but nervous virgin–this is a prize beyond measure.
  But I am going to miss the place.

El Camino

May 21, 2008 at 4:55 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
Which is Spanish for *the* Camino.
….Oh, Camino means "road."

  I’m on my way home yesterday afternoon, after a long day sitting on my ass at a desk running paper through a scanner.  The difference between a scanner and a shredder is pretty subtle, let me tell you.  If my scanner isn’t working right, it shreds paper.
  I wonder if a shredder is broken, does it scan the paper instead?
  Speaking of broken, Nigel started to act a little funny on the highway.  At first I thought it was the wind, but then I went right away to "Oh my God, I’m going to lose a wheel!"  It started to wobble and shake a bit.  Luckily, I just passed by an exit when this happened.  I begin my descent, and pull over.  Flat tire.
  Weeeellllllll.. ……..fuck.
  I get out and look at it.  Sure enough, it was flat.  Okay.  Well, I have a spare.  But no jack or lug wrench.  But I have one thing that I’ve never had before when I was stranded:  I have a phone.
  I have a jack and a four-way in my shed.  I’ll just dial up the ol’ GF and have her bring that stuff out; everything’ll be fine.  I call her up.
  One ringy-dingy….
  Two ringy dingies….
  No answer.  I call again because sometimes my beloved is in the bathroom or simply on the other line ignoring me.
  One ringy-dingy….
  Yeah, no answer again.  I wait a bit and try again, and wait some more and try.  Meanwhile, I’m on the passenger side of Nigel, standing outside leaning over him, watching the road.  The highway is loud and bustling.  Cars whiz by, and big trucks roar by.  All of this creates lots of wind and noise for me.  Nigel bobs a little whenever trucks go by.  I look at the sky–it looks like rain.  That would be perfect.  Oh, wait.  I have my sunglasses on.  Okay, just partly cloudy.
  I had a backup plan, but I wanted to give Detroit adequate chances first.  Because my next call would be to my ex-wife, who would be more than happy to come out and save my ass…
  [Do ya’ll remember "instant carma"?  Even when I was married to her, she didn’t want to come out and help me.]
  …Or something more logical.  I called my cousin Joey.  "Joe, can you do me a  favor and go over to my house, get my jack and four-way out of the shed, give them to my girlfriend so she can come out here and save my butt?"
  "What’s a four-way?"
  "A threesome with one too many dicks.  You don’t know what a four-way is?"
  He was in the middle of doing dinner for the fam, but he said he would turn it off and be right over.
  He came over with his buddy Dan, surprised Detroit because she had no idea.  As it ended up, Detroit stayed home, Dan dropped Joe back off at his house, and Dan came out to save me.  I’ve met him a few times before.  Laid back, easy going young guy–of course pre-occupied with what is "cool," like his car and stereo.  Hell, so was I a long time ago when I gave a shit.
  We get the car back on the road.  When I pulled the spare tire out of the trunk, I had to go through the back seat because the trunk doesn’t open in the strictest sense of the word.  I get to the tire, and the little indent where it lies is full of water.  No wonder I smell mold all the time.  In there with it is the jack and the tire tool for the truck.
  Rusted.  Plus, the tire tool I knew wouldn’t fit Nigel anyway.  Why did I have that shit in there?
  Dan follows me to my house, and I thank him.  He says, "Anything for a friend."  The way he said it sounded like a code of honor.  I appreciate that.  He’s good people.  Detroit gave him a hug for saving me.
  I left work an hour late, at four, to make up for leaving early the previous day for a dentist appointment because I had broken a tooth and lost a filling.  It never rains, but it pours.  By the time I get rescued, it’s almost 530.  I get home close to six, and make a quick call to the Firestone down the street.  They are open till 8.  Glory be.  Not only can I get the tire down there, but with luck I can get it back tonight.
  The girl working the desk at Firestone reminded me of an actress named Robin Duke.  And her name was Robin as well.  Maybe she was having trouble finding work as a actress?  It’s a tough gig, I hear.  She said they would have it done next, so I went down the street to grab some smokes and came back.  Traffic on the main drag–by the time I got back it was done.
  The tire looked different.  I asked her, "Is that the same profile as the one I had?  It looks taller."  I was concerned because there wasn’t much room.  I had 15 inch rims on this tiny car that necessitated low profile racing tires.
  She said, "This one has air in it."  Every where I go I find smart asses.  But the tire this one replaced had been worn very badly on the inside.  So much so that metal belt was showing, and it looked like a chunk eaten out from uneven wear.  The other front tire showed signs of it, but not as bad.  My alignment was seriously deficient.
  But that’s a problem for another day.  My priority was getting Nigel back on the road.  Both literally, and in a figurative sense.  He’s happier–I’m happier–on the road.
  El Camino.

The Tooth Very

May 21, 2008 at 4:49 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  Two weeks ago I’m eating something crunchy–a stale marshmallow, I think–and I lost a filling.  I figured "I’d get to it."  For the next two weeks I had a constant headache in the back of my head that was completely unrelated to the broken tooth.
  I talked funny for a while, too, until I got used to it.  But I finally made an appointment with the dentist.  I called on a Friday, and of course they aren’t in on Friday.  Ever.  I called last Monday and made an appointment for the following Monday.  Beforehand I had checked to make sure the dentists there took my dental insurance.  I was ‘in-network,’ Baby!
  Since it had been four years, I had to fill out some new forms.  By the way, this is something all of you need to know:  On all forms in doctors’ offices, they ask for your social security number.  In fact, they asked for it by my count about four times.  Leave it blank.  You don’t have to provide it.  Your giving them all other info, including off your insurance card.  They don’t need your social, not at all.  If they make a stink, you make a bigger stink.  Threaten to call the BBB, Homeland Security, the attorney General’s Office, and your local news station.  If they don’t back down, go elsewhere.  I’m not fucking kidding here.
  They didn’t hassle me about not filling it in, so I didn’t have to kill anyone.  Yet. 
  Kelly was my designated assistant.  She was very nice.  We talked and kidded around while she took my X-Ray and moved me to the other room.  One dentist–picture the housekeeper on "Two and a Half Men"–came in and stuck her fingers in my mouth.  I don’t think she was MY dentist, however, because she left and then a man came in.  Hell, for all I know she was just another patient.  I’m going to try that next time.  Just walk in to a random exam room and shove my hand in someone’s mouth.  I have big hands.
  I wonder if I can get away with that at a gynecologist’s office?  But they would wonder why I had my hand in their mouth, I think.
  The prognosis was that not only did I lose a filling, I lost some of the back of the tooth.  That would explain the jagged edge I kept running my tongue over.  Instead of replacing just the filling, they wanted to do a crown buildup and a then a crown.
  My admittedly limited experience with crowns has been that they don’t last.  They are simply an expensive way to delay the inevitably necessary pulling of the tooth.
  But I could do the buildup now, and the crown later.  How much later?  When I fuckin feel like it, that’s when.  So they numbed my ass up–actually my face and my jaw– and the doctor got to work.  I felt like I was the very bottom of a boy-girl-boy threeway; both of them had their hands in my mouth.
  I get home and lay around, waiting for it to wear off.  Numb is fun, unless it’s on purpose.  Finally closer to seven or 8 pm it wore off.  Geez.  But here it is two days later, and I notice the daily back-off-the-head headache I was having I am no longer having.  I wonder if there is a correlation?

NO MEANS NO

May 17, 2008 at 4:32 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  The steak restaurant I work at delivers, and we have a larger area than any other delivery place I have ever worked at.  Contained within our delivery area is three or four Domino’s.  At least two Papa John’s–maybe three.  We go further than anyone.
  So I really love it–and it hasn’t happened in a while–when I get to tell someone that they are too far and we just don’t go there.  This is a powerful, important woman.  Obviously a sales rep, and a high-pressure one at that.  No one tells her "No."
  "I’ve driven from here to where you are and it really doesn’t take that long."  Her tone said much more than her words.  Obviously, we could deliver to her and I was mistaken.  Condescending cunt. 
  My turn.
  "Ma’am, what do you do for a living?"
  "Excuse me?  How is that relevant?"
  "Well, I’ve been doing my job for so long that now I feel fully qualified to tell you how to do your job.  Isn’t that what you want to do?  You want to tell me how to do my job.  Obviously you know everything."
  "Just forget it–"
  "No, please."  But she had hung up.  A valued customer.  It’s fun to pop bubbles.

  The other night, someone called from very, very far away….And yet–in theory, anyway–we deliver there.  Gas prices are high, and moral in the store is low.  Megan is taking the call, and she puts them on hold.  "I don’t really want to drive out that far."
  I have a solution.  "Tell them this:  ‘We are short on drivers and have to restrict our delivery area this evening.  Therefore, we can’t go out there.  Sorry.’"
  A lie, I know.  Bad business–yeah, yeah.  But we shouldn’t be going out that far anyway.  Honestly–if I pointed to it on a map you would say, "You gotta be fuckin kiddin me!"
  Megan hems and haws.  "Uh, ma’am, we’re short on drivers tonight….so it would take a really long time for a delivery out to you…..uhm….you can pick it up if you like–"  They said they’d call back.
  I just looked at her.  "Megan, this is how date-rape happens.  ‘No’ Means NO.  What did I tell you?  Never give them an open.  They are going to try to find some way now.  Learn to keep your legs crossed.  Don’t buckle."
  "But she was really pushy–"
  On the plus side, Megan sounds like an easy lay.  But I felt like I was going to have to deal with them when they called back.  They *always* call back.
  Ten minutes later.  I recognize the number on the caller ID, but act like I don’t.  It’s a man this time–so we have both resorted to escalation.  When he gives me his address, that’s when I lay the line on him.  "I’m sorry, but I’m short on drivers tonight and I can’t go that far tonight."
  "Well we don’t care how long it takes, just tell us how long."  Uh, if you don’t care, then why should I have to tell you?
  I said, "No, because of our shortened staff, I have to restrict our delivery area.  We can’t go out that far tonight.  Sorry."  The difference is tone.  I  said it with an unwavering tone, a tone that said there is no negotiation.
  That’s why, between me and Megan, she is the one more likely to get raped by a date.  Hell, she’ll even apologize.  It’ll never happen to me.
 
  I’ll never apologize.

East Of Eden

May 13, 2008 at 3:58 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  I first started working at Scooters in the Spring of 98…..So I’ve been there for ten years.  Ten years?  Wow.  It’s really hard to believe that it’s been that long.
  When I first started, I was driving part time, and that was right at the time when they were getting ready to open their second store.  The two partners, Scott and Scott.  The first Scott is Bunny’s husband, let’s call him the Big L.  (Big Lebowski.)  The other Scott…let’s call him psycho-Scott.  They had had another manager, a friend of theirs, but he left to move to Arizona.  I would find out more about that deal later.
  The Big L was busy working on opening the other store (O’Fallon), and Psycho Scott was running the existing location (St Peters).  It was Bunny who finally came to me and asked me if I would come to work for them full time, as a manager.  I would go to St Peters and work with Psycho Scott.  It would be a while before O’Fallon was up and running.
  I already had a job, a decent job (I thought).  I was working at Papa Johns.  I had decent money and good benefits–benefits I needed.  Scooter’s had insurance, because they had it for about 4 or 5 different people.  But they "needed" me… so I went.
  And I remember…
 
  Both Scotts, as well as Bunny, had worked for me in the past, and I worked for Bunny for a while.  The Scotts had both worked for Steak Out, and that was the impetus for their idea.  They began planning it and so forth while they worked part time driving for me.  Psycho Scott was a lazy fuck.  They talked about all their great plans, their vision.  They had a group of all their friends from back in the day–before I arrived on the scene–who would come to work for them.  Nothing but the best.
  I remarked to the Big L that I sure would like to be included…can I come too, maybe?  He kind of brushed me off.  The indication was that it would only be his bestest, closest, coolest friends, those who strove for excellence.  It would be an elite club.  And they’d never have to deal with Domino’s again.  I was slightly miffed, and a little hurt to not be included.  I wasn’t good enough.
  Later, their reality was that they didn’t have all the friends following them that they thought they did.  Not ones that could be relied on, anyway.  They had Tim as a cook, Rick as a driver and part time cook, Potter as a driver, and a few miscellaneous knuckleheads that I don’t remember.  Oh, and Angie!  How could I forget big-tittied Angie?  What a sweetheart.
  These were all people they knew from the old days, the golden era of ….delivery, I guess.  They had a few drivers, but no one who could really be a manager.  Bunny thought of me, and I slid right in.  Either I was good enough after all…
  Or they had lowered their standards.
  I didn’t see the Big L much; he was busy opening O’Fallon.  I worked with Psycho Scott, and it soon became apparent that he was indeed Psycho.  I’m not going to go into details or examples–there are too many.  But even he knew how he was.  Angie at one time said to him, he needed to get a steady girlfriend or something like that.  He answered, "I don’t want to subject anyone to my personality."
  He was a lousy manager, but a good cook.  He taught me to cook on the grill.  But he was impossible to work for.  The proof of that is all the people that left him, including his good friend Tim.  Tim was his friend, and couldn’t stand to work with him, so he moved to Arizona.  One by one, in fact, everyone left him, and came to work for The Big L, or just outright quit. 
  Psycho Scott’s whole attitude was that I was lucky to have a job.  Bunny tried to straighten him out on that, get it through his thick head that, no, I didn’t–I left a good job to come here.  But he held slave-owner ideas about management.  You do what I say, or else.  I am right, no matter what.  This carried over into his customer service attitude as well…He’s a bigger dick than I am.
  And you KNOW how I am–
  Okay, a couple of examples, as they came to me.  He would say one thing, and then completely change his mind later.  When teaching me to cook, he said that he had talked to a famous, great chef who said that cooking on the grill is one of the easiest kinds of cooking:  you throw the meat on, get to the temp you want, and take it off.
  The next week he chastised me.  "It seems like all you are doing is throwing the meat on the grill, waiting a little while, and then taking it off."  What else, exactly, am I supposed to do, bonehead?
  He had me working alot, about 60 hours a week or more, getting overtime.  He wanted to "immerse" me in the concept of cooking on the grill.  The wife calls and says the AC in the house stopped working, it broke.  It was July.  Both Psycho Scott and I were working–but he was just supervising me, cutting meat slowly, and just generally jacking around. 
  It was hot, I had a two year old at home.  I needed to go take care of the AC.  "Well, what if I say you can’t go?  I mean, this is your job.  You have to work.  Work comes first."
  "It’s hot.  I have a baby at home and no AC.  There’s a heat emergency.  And my family always comes before work.  Always.  When I get this taken care of, I’ll call you."  He was all pissed about it, because I didn’t knuckle under.  He thought his logic was fool-proof……because he’s a fool.  I went home and checked out the AC–tried various things.  I had to call a guy.  He came out, and had to replace the fan motor in the compressor (the outside unit).  The AC worked again.  It was now about 4 or 5 pm.  I called Psycho Scott, told him it was fixed, and I could come back in.
  Apparently he had had some time to think about it.  He said, "I’ve been working you alot lately.  Go ahead and take the rest of the day off.  Come back tomorrow."  Well.  That was unexpected.
  We didn’t have a fryer, so we did fries in the oven, the same one for potatoes.  We had–okay, this is the stupidest thing, but it’s an indicator of how he was.  He said–and I am fucking quoting WORD FOR WORD what he said:  "You can do this the way you want, but I put the fry pans down here when I’m not using them."  He indicated a lower shelf.  Well, that’s new to me.  We had been putting them on top of the oven, which was about chest high.  I was going to continue doing that.
  The very next day he yelled at me about it.  "I told you to put the fry pans down here!"
  "No you didn’t."
  "Are you calling me a liar?  I distinctly remember saying–"
  "This is what you said.  You said, "I can do it the way I want to, but you put them here.’  So I’m doing it the way I want to."
  He huffed.  "Well I want you to put them down here."
  "When I put them down there I burn my legs on them.  I’m going to keep putting them on top of the oven because it makes sense."
  He walked away, didn’t talk to me for the rest of the day.  Of course, he rarely talked much anyway.  It’s a fine line between taciturn and dull.
  He did manage to find a way to get rid of me.  I had a lot of food on the grill–still learning to take care of everything–and a NY strip got away from me.  I handled all the rest of it, but this one steak got burned to piss on one side.  He berated me, I was no fucking good, he would rather stay and cook all the time rather than trust me with the grill.  And he proved this by cutting my schedule.  From six days and 60 hours down to one day.
  That mother fucker.  Because no one can ever make a mistake.  Cook something wrong–how about cooking another one?  How about the fact that I was still learning, and not doing a bad job?  I had several hundred dollars worth of food on the grill, and that was my one fuck up? 
  I’ve seen how Psycho Scott would do it.  We start getting busy, and he just takes orders, but doesn’t put anything on the grill.  Just let them stack up.  Then, when he thinks he has all of them, ranging from a minute old to almost half an hour old–THEN he would start cooking them, and get them all off the grill at once.  In case you don’t know anything about restaurants or delivery, that is a stupid fucking way to do it.  It leads to pissed off customers, and he would ignore them or be rude to them.  He can take care of customers like that, but I can’t be trusted with the grill?  –Like I would send out the steak I burned.

  I called the Big L.  That very week, I went to work with him in O’Fallon.
  And later I found out, when I talked to Bunny, that this is why Psycho Scott’s good friend Tim left…And moved as far away as possible.

A Fool In The Rain

May 10, 2008 at 4:39 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  Wednesday night I drove, because I needed off Friday, and worked out a quid pro quo with Dina.  It rained. 
  I’m wearing shorts, trying to keep my windows from fogging up, getting wet, can’t see, and not getting tipped very well.  It reminded me of the old days–
  Cause there are some fuckers out there–and you know who you are–that are too good to get food delivered.  That is, until it rains or snows.  A torrential downpour and potential tornado is what it takes to get you to the phone to order a pizza?  Thanks but no thanks–I can live without your 48 fucking cents. 
  –Cheapskates are eternal.
  Dina told me it was tentatively a dinner rush with the possibility of closing.  I made up my mind that I would close. . . but my heart wasn’t in it.  Luckily, Steve was scheduled to close, and I knew he would because Dina was closing.  Is there something going on between those two?  Possibly?  Are they discreet?  Not really.  Is one of them married with a wife and newborn baby at home?  Yeah, can you guess which one?
  This is nostalgic, too.  I guess the smell of rain brings back certain memories.  I have seen, over the years, a couple dozen office romances at Domino’s.  This is merely the most recent.  And I never had any, but of course I always had sweet young chicks working for me that I was interested in.  Stacy, Melanie, Missy, Becky, another Becky, Shamiel, Danielle, Jen, Erin–these are the ones off the top of my head.
  My favorite thing about high school girls is that I keep getting older, but they stay the same age.
  I had a 17 year old girl working for me in 94–what was her name?  Natural redhead.  Cute as hell, a real vixen.  She actually ended up marrying one of her high school teachers…so when I tell you this story, I mean that yes, I really could have hit that.
  We were talking about tats and piercings and so forth–she had her tongue pierced.  She was several sorts of early adopter. . .   She showed me her belly button piercing–her smooth, creamy white skin….
  She said she also had her wahoo pierced.  I stared at her in disbelief.  "Would you like to see it?"  Yes, yes I would.
  In my brain flashed this scenario.  I lived not too far from the store.  The wife and my young son could (and have before) stop by at any time, unannounced.  The girl whose name I cannot remember would be in the office, on the desk, with her pants off and legs spread apart, giving me the tour.  I would be right there in it, having a look.  In walks the wife and child.
  I’d have a lot of explaining to do.
  ("Look at this hon!  Her wahoo is pierced.")
  At the time I foolishly thought I was going to be with her forever, and that would be along time to have to live down something like that.  If I had been smart enough to realize I eventually would leave her, I would have gone ahead and had a look.  And a lick.  And a–
  Man.  Woulda shoulda coulda.

  Regrets?  I’ve had a few.    

A Pizza For Another Day

May 6, 2008 at 4:17 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  I worked Friday night with Sam, which turned out to be his last night at our store; he was being transfered.
  We had time later in the evening to sit in back and compare notes on our respective management histories.  The usually quiet and reserved Sam opened up a bit, and we bonded.  We didn’t exactly hug and kiss and scissor, but it was good nonetheless.
  Earlier in the evening, a young guy walked in to pick up his order.  "And your name?"
  "Williams."–or some such crap.  –Like I care.
  "Sorry sir, I’m not seeing it.  Perhaps another name?"
  "Maybe Joe?  It’s just two pastas."
  I give him the look.  He gazes about and realizes he is not in Pizza Hut.  "What the hell?  I’m at the wrong place!"  He leaves.
  Customers are endlessly amusing.

  In 1992 I was working in Edwardsville Illinois.  A college town, it was Deadsville in the summer.  This was summer.  I would show up early, set up, and take a nap until my driver showed up.  Lots of spare time.  Time to think, which I’m sure I wasted.
  One warm afternoon I’m at the front counter daydreaming when a big four-door sedan pulls slowly into the parking lot and parks.  It sits there for quite a while.  Finally, two people exit the vehicle. approximately 80 years old.  Slowly, they make their way for the door, enter, and approach the counter.
  The man and woman stand and gaze at the menu for quite some time, their heads moving in synchronicity across the board.  At first I think, "Come on, people–I don’t have all day!"
  ….But sadly, I did.   I waited.  I was much more patient then than I am now, so I didn’t sigh heavily; instead, I calmly stood, passive.
  Finally, they step closer to the counter, but still gaze at menu board.  The man finally speaks, hesitantly:  "Do you still have….we want to get the two-piece and a biscuit."
  Apparently–twenty years ago–this Domino’s had been a Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Apparent also is the fact that 20 years ago was the last time these two had been to town.
  I gently gave them directions to KFC.

  In 1994, I was manager of Cross Keys.  Two amusing anecdotes come to mind.  I lived six minutes from the store.  They got busy, they called me on my day off.  Reluctantly I go in.  I’m already in a mood before I get there.  As soon as I walk in, I can see there is chaos.  Pies on the rack, coming out of the oven, pies to be made:  That was my two second evaluation.  The phone rings, and I’m right by it, so I pick it up.  A customer complaint.
  "Can I speak to the manager please?"
  "This is he."  I always try to speak grammatically to impress the unwashed.
  "Oh, okay.  Well, I just got my pizza delivered, and the girl didn’t give me my change.  She didn’t even offer it.  My total was 12.96, and I gave her 13 and she just left.  It’s not the money, it’s just the point that she didn’t even offer."
  Now I see.  And I completely don’t give a shit.  I answered bluntly, "Maybe she thought it was a tip."
  "Oh, you tryina be funny.  I see.  It’s not about the *money*. . ."
  "Then why did you call?"
  I don’t remember what she said, but she wasn’t happy that I cared not about her plight.  Finally I said, "Tell you what.  As soon as I can, I’ll have her come back with your change.  With your FOUR CENTS."  I hung up.  Of course I had no intention of doing that.  Katie was the driver’s name.  I told her about it so she could get a laugh out of it.

  At that same store, we had just gotten computers.  It was a big deal.  What, 94?  Pre-internet.  You’d be surprised how many businesses still did not have them at this time.  You always think that the times you are currently in are "modern," but looking back to….14 years ago, it was the Stone Age compared to today.  Okay, Bronze Age.  But our company deployed computers, and we got them in 94.  So, if you know anything, and I mean ANYTHING related to computers at all, you know that data has to be specific.
  All of our customers have one thing in common:  They are our customer.  But what do they have that is uniquely their own?  Their address?  Sometimes.  But this is before mapquest and google earth, so addresses were an unreliable marker.  Name?  Now that is a stupid answer.  Go look in the phone book and see how many people have the same name.  The answer, obviously, is your phone number.
  Well, welcome to the latter part of the 20th century, technophobes.  Dan was having no luck with a particular customer, so he handed the phone off to me.  I now know this is called escalation, but at the time I called it a pain in my ass.
  I put on my manager voice, the one reserved for unreasonable customers.  "This is Bryan, can I help you?"
  "Well I was just talking to the other person and saying that I am a person, not a number.  I have a name.  I expect to be known by my name, not by a number."
  "And–?"
  "He keeps asking for my phone number first, not my name.  He should ask for my name first."
  "Sir, the computer database stores all customer information according to phone number.  We use your phone number to access all information."
  "Well, I don’t know how computers work, and I don’t care.  I have a name.  You always ask for my phone number first, and I don’t like it.  I want you to ask me for my name first."  Obviously a liberal, he wants the world to be a certain way according to theory, no matter what the real world was like.
  "That’s not going to happen."
  "Well, I’m going to order a pizza, and if you ask for my phone number first, this is the last time I’m going to order."  Well, that’s a relief, because I don’t want to have to go through this every time you call–
  "So you wanted to place an order?"
  "Yes."
  "Okay.  Can I get your phone number please?"
  He sighs, and gives me the digits.  I enter them and his name and address and order history come up on the screen.  Last name?
  Smith.

  Oh, I hated this guy.  I can’t remember his name, but I remember his address.  When I worked in Hazelwood.  The guy lived in these condos, and his address was, as he said it whenever he ordered, "7443 apartment D, as in Delicious Domino’s Delivery."
  Yes, he was that kind of fag.  I don’t mean he was gay; I mean he’s an annoying faggot.
  For a while he was ordering every day.  I mean EVERY day.  If he ordered early in the afternoon, he would order twice in one day.  And he ordered the same thing every time.  A medium pan pizza with hamburger, light cheese, and extra extra EXTRA sauce.  What a dick.
  I’ve delivered to him a few times.  I know why he ordered every day:  he never left his apartment.  He may not have been able to.  He would come to the door with no shirt on, and he was a big, big, incredibly fat guy.  Look, I’m a big guy, okay?  If I think someone is extraordinarily fat, just fucking believe me.  He may not fit through the door without a shoehorn to squeeze him through.  I’m sure when he leaves his apartment it sounds like a 500 pound zit popping.

  The address is 79 Cynthiana.  I doubt if the people who did this still live there–it was 17 years ago, and based on their behavior I’m sure they defaulted and went into foreclosure.  It was a nice neighborhood, upscale houses in this subdivision.  Of course, when a black family like this moves in, not only does it drive down property values, but it makes everyone not like having black neighbors.  They were THE stereotype.
  Someone from there (typically a black family in a large house like this is a large extended family; I’m not a racist, I’m stating fact) would call at least twice a week, and from that, they would call and complain and end up getting a free pizza.  Every week.  It was always something.  Wrong size, wrong toppings, wrong crust–It was obvious that they knew how to play the game.  I’m sure it was like some great revelation to them ["You know what?  All you have to do is call and complain and they’ll give you another pizza for free!  We can eat for free forever!"]
  Once I actually told them, "You know, it seems like we mess up your order an awful lot.  That’s more than a coincidence.  I wouldn’t put up with that kind of service.  If it were me, I’d quit ordering from us."  Hint, hint.
  We actually complained to our supervisor about them, but he was a solid Christian who believed in doing the right thing and turning the other cheek.  I felt like planting my ass cheek on their pizza.  But then our supervisor–Donnie–had to deal with them on the phone.  Once that happened, we cut them off of the free ride.
  The last free pizza they got, I delivered.  It was a medium, and the guy wanted to call the store and complain, because it was supposed to be a large.  I said, "The pizza this is replacing is a medium, so what you get is a medium."  He went to go get his phone, and offered to have me step inside while he called.  I responded, "No, I’m cool."  I’m not going in.
  He was offended.  "Oh, you’re cool?  Well I’m cool, too."  He went inside and slammed the door while I waited on the porch.  I’m sure he thought he was cool, in 1991 with his cordless landline phone.
  He came out a few minutes later, handset held to his face.  He wanted to make sure I heard him tell my manager, "Yeah, and another thing:  your driver here has a real attitude problem."
  Pffft.  You have no idea, asshole.  I gave him the pizza and left, he did not get another one.  But you see what he was trying to do there?  He was trying to get ANOTHER free pizza from a free pizza.  They have done that in the past as well.  Call and complain about a pizza they received– the next day–so that hopefully they’ll talk to someone else, and scam another free pizza out of it.
  This went on for almost a year before we convinced Donnie that the shit had to end.
  I got to take the call, when they tried to get a free pizza.  Maybe they tried again after this with someone else, but this is the call I got.
  "Domino’s Pizza."
  "Yeah, uh, the pizza we got last night was WRONG."
  I recognized the MO, the voice.  "Really?  Can I get your address so we can check on that?"  We were still on paper.  This was 91 or 92, before computers.
  "79 Cynthiana."  Ha!
  I braced myself.  "Okay, we’re not sending you any more pizza.  Ever."
  "But my pizza was wrong!"
  "I highly doubt that.  But the fact is, all you do is call and complain to get free pizza.  We aren’t doing it anymore."
  "Well, it’s supposed to be, ‘the customer is always right’?"
  I was waiting for this one.  "Technically, a customer is someone who pays.  You’re not a customer."
  "I’m going to call your office."
  "Good.  Let them know we did what we were told.  It was our boss that told us not to serve you any more.  Not only do you not get any more free pizza, you get no more pizza, period.  Not from us."
  "That’s bullshit man!  That’s fuckin wrong!  Ya’ll is racist!"
  Racist?  Me?  Nigga, please.  "Have a good night."  I hung up.  I never heard from them again.

  So, to recap–the older confused couple–that was 17 years ago, so they’re probably dead.  The guy paranoid about being a number is probably not dead, but hopefully he lives in paranoia in his basement, fearing all technology.  The fat guy is probably dead, and his carcass would be stinking up his condo.  The assholes at 79 Cynthiana are gone from my world, at least.  My guess is they got foreclosed many years ago, and the entire extended family living there (aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins) got evicted and moved back to the city where they belong, collecting welfare and having babies and getting shot.
  The moral of the story is, don’t fuck with me, or you’ll end up dead. 
  You know, eventually.

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