In the fourth grade I discovered math, and before Thanksgiving I had a countdown of the hours and minutes left until Christmas. That made the time drag more slowly, even. That is the principle known as "A watched pot never boils." A watched Christmas never comes…
As you get older…maybe not *you*…as "we" get older? Hmmm.
As I got older, I noticed that the subjectivity began to slide. The time until Christmas became increasingly shorter, until I was about 20 years old, and the only thing I had to look forward to was an Aqua-Velva gift pack and some socks. At that point–that was the last time I experienced real time during the holidays.
Immediately after that, I was married and had a kid–or kids. From then on, the time between Halloween and Christmas seems to be about a fortnight. For those of you not on medieval standard time, that’s about 2 weeks.
Much of this–most of this–is because I don’t have anything myself to look forward to, but I am responsible for the kids’ happiness. Not enough shopping days? No, plenty of shopping days. Not enough paydays between now and then. I count them on the calendar and cringe. Where am I going to get the money for this from? I can only prostitute myself so much, and maybe it’s the economy, but I haven’t had a lot of takers lately.
Usually, ultimately, somehow, things at least sort of work out in the end. We make compromises and do creative things to make the people in our lives happy. Sacrifice. That’s what it’s all about.
I feel myself again trapped in the swirling vortex that is the countdown to Christmas. Helplessly I spiral downward, grasping in vain at the straws of extra pay, more time, better deals, or a way out. I don’t see how I can afford to buy something for ANYONE, but I know I have to get something for my two kids, and something for Detroit, and something for her son Alex.
And what is the protocol for Brandon? Am I obligated to buy something for the troll who has taken up residency on my couch out of the kindness and decency of my heart (which, let’s be VERY clear here: There is very little of that shit to go around, and he has used all of it) when all he has done is added to my financial burden? I swear to God, if he makes me a hand-made gift out of macaroni, glue, and glitter–
Remember the gift exchange in school, back when we could still celebrate Christmas? The boys drew a boys name, and the girls drew a girls name, and we (meaning our parents) bought a gift for under two dollars (This was the mid-70s. You could buy real estate for two dollars.) I’m probably going to get sucked into at least one, if not two, of those, between my two jobs.
Nevertheless I love the Christmas season. Yes I do, despite my apparent cynicism, not to mention the proof previously offered up on this blog (see my December archives of every year) of how Father Christmas takes a dump on my front porch and lights it on fire. I love to see kids standing in line and crying, waiting to see Santa. I love driving in the snow. I love the crowded throng of people keeping me from my simple errands; I’m not Christmas shopping, I need shoe strings, for Christ’s sake. I love the lights and the pageantry and *everything.*
Remember the Christmas Program at school? I know it was different for everyone, but thematically they were the same: Kids get up and poorly execute Christmas carols while parents sit in the audience trying to maintain an interest. Now I look back on those memories fondly. It was returned to me when last year my daughter was in Choir, and they sang on the steps of the courthouse. The town square was alit with Christmas lights, people sharing the spirit of community, with snow falling, no less. It could not have been any more Norman Rockwell if I had worn a bow-tie.
Sometimes I’m a sentimental, teary-eyed fool. I’m glad it was snowing and dark, to cover it up. Sniffles are common in December as well.
As a conservative, I know I should be upset about the diminishing of Christmas, and the attempt to dismiss it. I’ll fight that fight another day against the godless socialist and secular inhumanist that want to destroy our country and our traditions. Right now…
Right now my Christmas spirit is like my faith sometimes: A tiny, flicking flame on a candle, which I hold my hand up to for cover to protect it from the wind and rain. I nurture it, hoping it will grow. I care not about the things that try to defeat it, except to hold them back. It’s my faith; likewise, it’s my Christmas spirit, and mine alone.
I’m not trying to force it on you–I barely have enough for myself. Why won’t you let me keep this for myself? Why must you try to put out every light? It’s my light, and it’s not in your eyes, and it’s not bothering you. It’s not bright enough to keep you from sleeping. Just let me have my Christmas spirit.
It’s small and quiet, like Tiny Tim. And sickly, too. On crutches and with a cough, and probably ADD as well. But let me have it anyway, please. It’s mine.
And it’s all I have.
For both of them, I simply made up the docs in Word. Since I have access to all these documents like this, it was easy for me to copy wording, style, layout, et cetera. I even had the legal descriptions of the properties available to me, since both the loans originated here.
The problem, however, was with the property in Troy–our brand-spankin’-new house. The legal description I used was wrong because it changed. How can I explain this without boring you with insignificant details? Hmmm. Don’t think I can, so here goes: The property we bought was basically two lots, but actually three separate pieces of property. It was (and still is) over half an acre. Man, I’m glad I don’t have to cut that shit anymore.
The property is two lots plus a small section in back that is nominally a conservation area that has a creek running through it. That property was supposed to be deeded to us, with certain provisos. It was ours, but we couldn’t build on it or otherwise develop it. We did, however, have to maintain it, remove brush, keep the creek running clear and so forth.
But it was all under development. Ultimately the builder did redraw it to include that. The original legal description on our loan when we bought it did not include it, and that’s the one I used. During some sort of discovery phase of her refi, someone found out. So the new loan has the new legal on it. And I have to do a new quit claim to correct the old quit. This is called a Scrivener’s Affidavit.
I talked to Carol, the head of our Title Company here. She said, "Well, who prepared the original doc?"
"Oh, that was me." She seemed amazed. I’m no lawyer, but I do know how to copy and paste. She wrote down what I needed to do to fix it, to write a new one. I made up the new one using the old one I had saved, and had her check it. Impressed, she was. Digging, I try to expand my horizons. "You know, I don’t want to scan forever…"
With the new deed signed and notarized, now I get to bring it up to Lincoln County Friday. Well, I was going up anyway, and so volunteered. It’s work related, so I get to leave even earlier and get paid for it. Miranda has her follow up appointment for spraining her knee, so I was leaving at one. Now I leave at noon.
As an added bonus, I don’t work at Domino’s Friday night. So not only do I have some of Friday off, but I’ll have all day Saturday–I won’t waste half the day sleeping. Instead, I’ll waste half the day working on the houses. Wait, I mean–
I took off two days from my day job and made a four-day weekend. Ostensibly to get some home improvement projects done. The weather was semi-cooperative, and so I did get done most of what I wanted to accomplish.
I came back to working expecting (hoping) to find alot of work waiting for me. And–no such luck. The mortgage business, she is shaky now, yes? Much going on, most of which I don’t understand and don’t want to. What I do see is that my usefulness here is limited. Add to the mix: the consumer department provides half of my work. One girl moved away to be married, one girl moved to another department–these are the processors. One of the consumer LOs is moving to a different department after this week–servicing, of all things. What’s left is my friend Kim, a dude named Scott, and Dawn.
So half the department is gone and most of the work is gone. Where does that leave me?
I’ve tried to make myself more useful around here. I took on more responsibility, servicing the equipment on this floor. I’ll blow anything if it means keeping my job…
In less than a month–I hope–I intend to have my HELOC refinanced into a mortgage at the new house. Until then, I need to keep this job. After that, I need to keep this job, or
My options are: find a new job here, or get another job. I have a few options, I hope. Most of them revolve around foodservice. My friend Kim (Bunny)’s husband Scott, my old boss from the steak restaurant, just got a job as food sales rep. She said that he said that they are hiring, and looking for people with restaurant management experience, and experience cutting meat. That would be me.
At Domino’s, the driver Mike’s wife Bridget works at a big restaurant, and I could talk to her about an in as manager. I suppose there are other restaurants as well…And then I’d end up back in food, and end up back to losing my weekends.
Of course, as a very last resort, I could do full time at Domino’s. God do I hate the idea of that. They pay for shit, and expect the world out of you. Any of these other opportunities–hell, I could check out Papa John’s or Pizza Hut and I know they pay more. Because the bottom line is, I’d need ONE restaurant job to pay what I make on two, because I wouldn’t have time to work two jobs.
So we head into winter, the slow time in this already slow business leading the way in this slow economy, and I need to hang on for at least a month. I need to get on the ball and get this shit done to the houses, I need to get them inspected, I need to get my loan together and get it done, I need to verify that all my credit is fixed.
And then I need to be ready to get another job.
Detroit says this happens every year, and I get scared I’m going to lose my job this time of year *EVERY* year. But this is different. This time…
It could happen.
Detroit and I went to the grocery store today, to get something for lunch. One of our semi-regular stores; it’s about third or fourth on the list. We get almost all of the few things we needed, but then had to back track for the bread. And that’s when I saw him.
Maybe he recognized me, maybe he didn’t. I don’t know, and I really don’t care. But this person is on the very short list of no more than half a dozen People I Hate.
But Bryan, you say, you are so kind and thoughtful and gentle and caring and tender (in a manly way), how is that you, of all people, can possibly hate?
Back off before I slap you in the eyeballs. While it is true that I like most people (I even like people that other people hate, like GW, Carrot Top, and your mom), nonetheless there is an elite group of people who fall into the category of people I hate. Today’s program is devoted to the one loathsome fucker I saw today, Dave.
Back in the late 80s when I worked for Domino’s, the rigid structuring of the MIT program meant we were evaluated on a 4-week basis for advancement and promotion. The trick was, once you were ready for advancement or promotion but the bosses didn’t want to give it to you yet, you got moved to another store.
I got moved alot. But, probably no more than anyone else. One move placed me in Bridgeton. Bill was the manager, and Dave was the "lead" assistant, and I was low-man. Bill was a good buy, but Dave rode me mercilessly. He found a funny way of changing my well-known nickname into something completely inconsiderate, and from then on, that was how he addressed me. And no, I’m not telling you what it was. Of course, he spread it around, and got others to call me that also. Let me tell you, being called names when you’re an adult…
Hurts as much as when you are a child, and I was reliving it.
In addition to that, he heaped other mental abuse on me daily. He is a sadistic mother fucker. I choose not to relive this all for you, so that I don’t break my keyboard. I don’t know how long I was there, maybe a month or two. I got transfered around again, and it was good to be in a different shithole.
As luck would have it, after a being in a few different stores, I would up back in Bridgeton. This time, Dave was the manager. He scheduled me for six days, which was unnecessary. Also, on Friday I got to work a "split." That’s where you come in for lunch, about 1030 to 1230, then you get to leave, then you get to come back in at four and close. He made sure he scheduled me for the shitiest of shifts, too.
I closed Monday, and ran a perfect shift. No lates, good numbers. I came in Tuesday, and he was there to nitpick the little things I had not done. And I mean little. Things like, I didn’t wipe down the towel dispenser in the bathroom. What kind of shit is that? If it needs to be done every night, you wouldn’t notice one night missed. If it hadn’t been done in a while (it hadn’t) then why did I suddenly get dinged for it? The rest of his list was like that. Oh, yeah, the fucker had a list. I closed again that night. Wednesday, when I came in, he had a similar list.
But Tuesday night, I talked to my dad. Wednesday during the day, I went to see his boss, who happened to be my old boss, Bill Henry. Sure, he’d hire me–pending a drug test, of course. I told this part before–I was clean, and I knew it. I took the drug test Friday, and the results would be back on Tuesday, and I could start Tuesday on second shift.
So when he threw his list in my face Wednesday, I was non-chalant about it. "Okay, whatever." Then of course I closed Thursday, then the split on Friday. I had to close Saturday, and then my one day off was Sunday. I saw the new schedule posted and smiled. It was the exact same thing.
Since I was loaned to another store on Saturday, I worked it–otherwise I would have not gone in. But I knew Monday–Monday I was not working. I just waited for them to call me, because everyone likes surprises.
I was happy to be rid of him.
Fast forward maybe ten years later, and my good friend Bunny is managing Bridgeton, and the fucker Dave is still around, as a driver. He is helpful to her, and friendly, so they are friends. For her sake I try to get along with him, and he is civil–she may have had a word with him about it.
Later I find that all Dave wants to do is get in her pants. He’s an older guy, and married, and so is she. And she feels betrayed by the facade that was there friendship. Meanwhile he keeps pushing, practically stalking her, before she has to get really angry and up in his face about it.
Finally, I was free to hate him again. Hate him extra, too, for hurting my friend.
I didn’t go into an extensive psychological profile on the asshole, because at this point, I don’t care. He can live or die or grow mushrooms out of his ass. Bunny did tell me about some of the trauma and problems in his life that she became privy, things to which I thought, "Good." He is a bully, plain and simple.
And when I write about the other people on the short list of People I Hate, that’s what they have in common: they are all bullies.
Maybe you were expecting more of a rant here…well, to tell you the truth, so was I. Time does heal a bit, I suppose. It has been 20 years since I first had to deal with him. I’ve wished so many things upon him: death, dismemberment, AIDS, a plague of locusts. Today what I wanted to do was knock the old fucker down in the grocery store, and step on his face. Now, I just wish for him to be unhappy. Knowing what I know about the psychology of bullies…
I think I’ve gotten my wish for a long time.
So this guy is driving along, and as he passes a Mental Hospital, his car breaks down. He gets out and sees that a wheel has fallen off. The lug nuts are gone, the tire just came off.
Behind the gate at the mental hospital is a man standing there watching him. Seeing what is going on, the man in the mental hospital gate tells the traveler: "Why don’t you take a lug nut off of each wheel and put it on the missing one? That will hold well enough until you get back into town.
The traveler said "Hey, that’s a great idea! Thanks!" Then he says, "You know, I have to say I never expected someone where you are to have a good idea."
The man replied, "I’m in here because I’m crazy, not because I’m stupid."
So, just replace "Mental hospital" with "Domino’s Pizza."
There are a few websites that I like to read, and just now I realized that maybe I should look at what attracts me to them. One thing that does is the fact that the writing is fairly consistent–and on topic. Now, I cover a wide range of topics, from foodservice to politics to sociopathology to prehistoric tool-making.
I think that part is fine–diversity. Consider my blog a variety show, like Jack Parr or Laugh-in, or Sonny and Cher. Or Sixty Minutes–that show is a riot.
What I did notice, however, is that within one blog entry–one article, if you will–I would often diverge wildly off-topic, sometimes not even sticking to the topic category. Now, that’s just sloppy. ADD or not, I have to st–
Shit, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah–staying on topic. Generally when I have a story to tell, I have *A* story to tell. If I have several, I need to separate them out. And sometimes, all I have is short, anecdotal snippets of conversation, thought, and occurrences. If you noticed of late, I’ve had more entries, many on the same day. That’s going to be my theme, I think.
So, to recap:
Shorter articles, on topic.
That may mean more articles, if necessary, and even multiples on the same day.
Other types of articles filled with short anecdotes will be easily identifiable. Perhaps I’ll even add that category: Anecdotes.
Notice how this article and the last one both managed to stay on topic? And they were short. That may not be a coincidence.
The liberals won the election, and are still bitter. By and large, liberals are bitter people. Not the conservatives that they claim are clinging bitterly to their guns and religion. I’m not bitter. If anything, I watch with wry anticipation the fascism that will precede the coming Obamaggeddon.
For instance, it’s not enough that Obama won, but the liberals want us to admit defeat, admit our ideas our wrong, admit that they are better. Sorry, can’t do it. Not gonna cry uncle. You won the election. Now fix the country, bitches.
They call the country free and democratic when they win an election–but in 00 and 04 the election was fixed. And here is a very telling dichotomy: Prop 8, which passed fair and square in California. It’s not good enough that it passed. The people that opposed it can’t accept it. They don’t believe in democracy, they believe in having things their way, no matter what.
Do I care about Prop 8? Not in the least bit. I’m not gay, and thankfully, I don’t live in California. Protesting because they lost a fair election sounds alot like they are crybaby bitches. Trying to shut down and destroy anyone that disagrees with their position sounds alot like fascism.
Obama won, and that’s democracy. Their pet project didn’t, and that’s a travesty.
Do you see conservatives rallying, rioting, and protesting because Obama won? No?
The liberals were right about one thing: It is about class. We have it. They don’t.
Maybe if something happens that really affects me, or just really irks me–but other than that, this blog is about me. It’s my diary, my journal. My heart’s deepest layer of bullshit. Occasionally politics does bubble to the top, but that’s not me. At least, that is not me *in my entirety.* I have many interests. I am multi-layered, multi-faceted. I’m multi-personalitied, even.
But politics is an interest of mine, a hobby. I follow it. I think what I may be more interested in is not politics in general, but the media’s reaction and bias to politics. I watch it, I track it.
Although I am a Republican, and a conservative, I don’t begrudge Obama his win. He almost won it fair and square.
I don’t want to turn into a political blog, for a few reasons. One, the comments you get are just nasty and brutal. It’s not the kind of thing that people do in a polite society, and sadly, we not, any longer. The comments are also not the kind of thing the commentors would say in person, to my face. How do I know this? Because most of them are thin, pale, weak little bitches that are cocky as hell with a keyboard in their laps. If they met me in person, they would cry and wet themselves a little. I would make sure of it. If you read this, you know me. You know how I am. I am exactly this way in person, as well. I’m not putting on a facade.
Also– I have enough knowledge for short, brief commentary, and I’m smart enough to know that I don’t know as much as I’d like to know. Plus, political commentarians–is that a word?–generally start with their conclusion and work backwards to support it, discarding any facts that contradict their thesis. As a scientist, that is dishonest. Yes, bitches, I am a scientist. It’s more in the attitude than the knowledge. My training as an engineer and my desire to seek knowledge make me a scientist.
Thinking back on some previous posts–and I shan’t delete them–I see where my emotions may or may not have gotten the better of me. I do, however, feel that the conclusion is correct: Fascism in this country will not come from the government, it will come from the media and the people, and the government will see it as a way to increase power and control, and seize that opportunity. While they may not be able to completely stifle dissent, they can certainly discredit it, as well as intimidate it.
It is frightening and amazing to me how many people want things to be a certain way "for my own good." Demonizing any view that is askew from theirs in subtle (and not so subtle) ways in order to present for the public the propaganda that only their point of view is valid and "enlightened." Yes, but will it work? Doesn’t matter, it’s enlightened. It’s also frightening the support that socialism has, either outright, or clandestine. Clandestine meaning people are supporting various socialist beliefs and policies without knowing and calling them socialists. It will lead them down that road where they will eventually pick up the banner and say, "Workers of the World, Unite!" and not even question why when they are asked to spy on their neighbors.
We may not be heading for a Baracolypse. But we might be headed for an Obamaggeddon.
She explains to me about all of her driving around, blah-blah-blah, the orthopedic was back over by where she works (actually closer to me), couldn’t afford the gas because I haven’t paid this month’s child support yet. Whatever–it’s the 6th. I always get it to her in the first half of the month. She wants to know if I would take her. I said sure.
Sure, I would leave my day job early, drive the 40 miles up to get her, then drive back this way another 45 miles. Take her to the doctor. Then drive her the 45 miles back home, and then drive another 40 some-odd miles back this way to go to my night job at Domino’s, which I am going to be late for.
It’s a lot of driving, but it’s also a legitimate reason to play hookie, so I’m in, without alot of thought. Plus, of course, I get to see my daughter. I was supposed to see her this last weekend, but the truck was down and I had to deal with that.
Off I go. As I drive, I call Detroit and fill her in. She said something about "As long as SHE isn’t there and planning on going with you–" I’m not sure what that means. Some thinly veiled jealousy? I think we recently mentioned in passing some things from the past that made her think of this stuff…except I have no claim to any knowledge about how a woman’s mind works. It could just be that she didn’t want me to waste my time, money, and gas on something that my ex could more easily do herself, or a third as-yet unnamed reason I haven’t thought of that is completely obvious to her.
As for the jealousy–
I get that. But not only do I not have any–what would you call it?–romantic? Sexual? Not only do I not have any of those feelings at all about my ex, I see her more as an obstacle to my happiness…much as she was during our marriage. I cringe when she calls, I avoid talking to her whenever I can, and the sooner she is out of my credit history the better.
I also call Dina at Domino’s and let her know. By my estimate, it will be close to 6pm by the time I get there, which means it will be closer to seven, I’m sure. She mumbled something about this day just getting better and better–
I go pick up my daughter, drive back into St Louis and finally get to the doctor’s office, which looks oddly familiar. I’m trying to remember who I’ve had to bring here before. We fill out the forms and wait. But let me say something about the forms.
It’s insidious the way all these doctor’s offices do this, and maybe their excuse is "Oh, we’re just using old forms." But they ask for personal information that they just don’t need. For instance, my insurance card no longer uses my social security number as my ID–smart, and I might add "finally." Like your driver’s license, they realize the need for personal security, and if they don’t need that number, they don’t use it. Hell, I remember having my social printed on my checks.
I remember checks…
But the doctor’s office does not need your social security number, and there is a spot for it on all forms. I leave it blank. You should too. ALL of you should leave that line blank. If they dare to come to you to ask for it, I imagine most people cave. Don’t do it. Make them explain why they need it, and their answer had better be better than "we need it to complete the file." Maybe they want it to track you better for medical collections–that’s their problem, not mine, and I don’t like being accused before the fact of not paying my bill.
In general, I leave anything blank that I don’t understand, don’t care about, or think is too personal. If they really need to know, they will come and ask me.
They rarely do.
As it turns out, my daughter only sprained her knee. Nothing broken, nothing torn. They put her in a knee brace, give her a note for school, and sent us on our merry way. I drive her back home, and then head back again, towards Domino’s. It’s six o’clock now, and it’s a 45 minute drive.
After I get there, I find out what the deal is. Mike worked dayshift to be off that night, for his wife’s birthday. His brother Steve was going to work that night. Steve was sick, and Mike had to stay. He was screwed–he got his.
The new guy, Derek, had car trouble and couldn’t come in. Mike definitely had to stay, so he was still screwed. Plus, this gave Dina just two drivers on a Thursday. She was screwed now–she got hers.
And then I had my thing going on, leaving her to fend for herself during a busy dinner rush. She was screwed some more. I get there at the tail-end of the rush, and Dina leaves, and I get Mike out of there. Me and Paro. The place died, like the audience at an Al Franken event. In the very last of the evening, we had about an hour and a half of no calls whatsoever.
We close at midnight, and we have everything done. The floor is even mopped, and most things are put away. We are just waiting for the fat lady to sing so I can count the money and get out of there. About a quarter till, we get a call.
Then, when I go up front to make them, a bunch of young chicks come in and want to order. Fuck. After they order, I get another call. It’s now 11:52. Son of a bitch. Two minutes later, another call. Fuck me. It’s now 5 till close, and I have about 8 pizzas and some other miscellaneous other shit to make. This was going to add an hour onto the time it takes form me to get home. So me and Paro, we got ours.
The conversation with the last caller went a little like this:
"Yeah, you guys still open?"
Taken aback by my honesty, he asks, "Can I still place an order?"
Heavy sigh. "I suppose so." I could tell from his tone that he wanted to call me out. Give me some line about "Customer service" or some similar bullshit, about how I should care. Or that he could complain and get me fired, and then where would I be? I should show the proper respect!
But in the same way I sensed that in his voice, I guess he sensed in mine. I’m guessing he sensed that, for a handful of mixed change and pocket lint, I would walk out. If he wanted a pizza, he needed to keep his pie hole shut.
Or else he would get his.