I will say this, I do take some sort of perverse joy at being good at what I do and that’s one of the few things that keeps me coming back.
That, and the money.
Last week we found out about this big order we were having. As of last Monday, this is all we knew–These were the "details":
4,000 pizzas delivered to St John’s Hospital over two days, Sunday and Monday, to be divided between the four closest stores. It is *Mandatory* for all members of management to work all day both of those days. All day being 8AM to 11PM.
You know, Pizza is as Pizza Does, my momma used to say. Details emerged later: we were getting about 600 of the pizzas, roughly 250 and 350 for the two days.
100 1045am 150 1045am
75 345pm 17 1245pm
55 1045pm 75 345pm
I think. This is from memory. Oh, and these are all larges, of course. But instead of the usual fair–pepperoni, sausage, and cheese–these were a different mix. Over half of them were deluxes and veggies, and then the rest were a smattering of P,S, and C. The reason this matters is logistics. We had to order more food for it, obviously, but also, these pizzas take a little longer to make. No one took that into consideration. I mean, I did, of coursed, because this is my narrative, but I assumed that the others did as well, but they did not.
The point is, I resigned myself to the fact that I would give up my one day off to work in the hopes of receiving future bliss. Pragmatically, I realized it would be difficult for me to ask for favors if I tried to opt out of participating in this Orwellian Pizza Love-fest.
I love the smell of pizza in the morning. Smells like…victory.
I wasn’t doing the 1045 am show on Sunday because I closed the night before. Closing on a Saturday at 2am means leaving at 230, getting home by 3, and getting to bed at 4 after having a little personal time to wind down. So no, I am not dedicated enough to lose sleep and drag my ass out of bed at 7ish to show up bright tailed and bushy-eyed at 8am. I just can’t do it.
I woke up at noon, and planned on going in at 2 in the afternoon. This, I calculated, would be the right time to get the 345pm order rolling. When I get there, Stan is there, John the Driver is there, and John the Director of operations and brother to the owner of the franchise is there. Hereinafter I shall refer to him as Big John in reference not to his size but his position.
And our manager Dina is not there.
From random things I picked up–people are anxious to tell their side of the story; I should be a judge–I managed to piece together how the morning went.
Big John arrived at the store about 8am, as planned. He called Dina. She was "on her way." She got there about 9am. Next question Big John asked her: "Where’s the van?"
The company rented a full size van–actually a few them for the various locations–to haul the pizzas with. It came with explicit instructions: This van is for the purpose of delivering these orders only, so it stays at the store.
Well, our buddy Stan has no vehicle right now, and so felt compelled or even obligated to drive the van home. That way he’d a) have a ride home; and 2) have a ride back to work the next day. He shows up with the van. I’m not sure when but I get the impression it was about 830.
John the Driver was due at 9, but he had some problems. Normally he is responsible and timely. However, since no one TOLD him there was a rental van, he was planning ahead and was going to have his big Blazer ready. But there were some coordination issues with it concerning his family, so he was there about 930. That’s not as important–he’s not a pie-maker.
So, John was late, Dina was late, Stan was late. Stan took the van. And, all the prep was not done, exactly, for the order. That last thing may have fallen on me, but there was kind of a grey area there. I should have prepped sauce, I’ll give you that–but I didn’t discover that it wasn’t done until right before I was ready to leave. So, no–I’m not staying to do it. The boxes were ready. Sauce is not a difficult thing, so I left it.
"I just want to say one word to you – just one word… ‘pizza.’"
So how long does this all take? Let me run some numbers for you. Although I don’t do these big orders on a regular basis, for a long time fifteen years ago I was the "school-lunch master." I was always on time, always in control, and always organized. Obviously, this isn’t how I normally am–but I was so scared to fuck up that I MADE SURE I got it right. And then after the first couple of times of things going smoothly, I realized how much easier it made my life to just grow up and do it right and plan ahead that I continued. I felt really adult at that point, like I had mastered one of the things that makes you a grown-up.
So the planning is like this: You know what time they have to be there, and then you calculate how long the pizzas are going to take in the oven, and you work backwards from there.
Delivery time: 1045am
Leave the store: 1030am (if you have your shit together, that can be when the last pie is out of the oven, because you’ve been bagging and carting them out to the vehicle up until this point.)
Start loading: (Let’s see. A pizza goes through the oven in six minutes. The oven holds ten large at a time. Both ovens, twenty pizzas. The conveyor moves slowly. Let’s say every minute you can load a new set of four pizzas. One hundred divided by four is twenty five. Plus that six minute lead time, so call it about 30 minutes to run them all through the oven.
Load time: 1000am
So long does it take to make 100 pizzas? Well, that depends. The standard for a large pepperoni is under a minute. I’m at roughly 40 seconds, but then again, I’m not THE fastest. But making alot of them–cheese pizzas are about a 30 second affair, whereas deluxe and veggie are going to run a minute and a half to two minutes each. They shouldn’t– but they do. But that is just for one person. With three people–Stan, Dina, and Big John, it should be a breeze. In any event, 100 pizzas *should* only take an hour for three people to make. So–
Make time: 0900am
And they should have all been there at 8am, time to pull out dough, set things up, get ready, and start making them early, even. Because I don’t trust that half-hour cook time. The difference between theory and practice is that in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But interface in the real world is hard–I would start loading about 945 instead of ten, but that’s just me.
But everyone was late, except Big John, so how did it go? Well, they were about twenty minutes late getting there, but part of that was Stan who drove the van and claiming he knew what entrance to go to at the hospital and going to the wrong one. The customer was upset, but my few is that it wasn’t logical. Here’s why customers are both stupid and insane, and don’t understand how the world around them works:
So you’re getting about 400 pizzas delivered all at once. Are you starting to serve them? Yes? No? Why are you waiting? Start serving from the pizzas that you have–by the time the "late" ones arrive, you still won’t be OUT of pizza–you will be working through the ones you have. I mean, if you’re smart about it, you will. The late pizzas aren’t late. Consider them…fresher. And shut your fucking pie hole.
"You’re gonna need a bigger boat."
I arrive, and the damage has been done. Dina has gone home because she has three girls under ten and her only babysitter is working at another store, making part of this order also. I get the lowdown about how Big Johna and Tom, the Supervisor, are not happy with everything. Bummer. I grab an apron, and ask John, "Where do you want me" meaning on the line. Because I haven’t worked with him, I didn’t know what to expect, but knew I could adapt to whatever they wanted, because I’m cool like that.
Big John said, "Wherever you are best at–"
I said, "That would be dough."
I thought it was going to be an issue, because when we are working together, Stan likes to do dough. I think that’s best, too, because then I can control the line and make sure everything gets made, because Stan is–in a word–vapid. But Stan rolled up to the line, smiling. He said, "Bryan makes some beautiful skins." Alright, I’m on.
This second order was 75 pies for 345pm. I got there at 2, which is when we should have started making them, I thought. We probably didn’t get started until close to 230. We’re making them and racking them, and I ask, "So…when should we start loading these?" Big John looks at the clock and says, "Probably about now–"
I don’t know what time it was–maybe a little after three? That should have been enough time, but it wasn’t. Dina showed up about 315, and we were finishing up making them, and loading them in the oven. At that point it was clear there was not enough time, which makes me wonder about my formula. I knew 15 years ago how to do it–maybe something in my math is wrong, or I’m forgetting some aspect, because we began loading before 3, now that I think about it. And still–the last of the pies was out at 345, when we were supposed to be there, and its a less-than-ten-minute drive.
Whose fault is it that we didn’t load in time? I don’t know, but Big John skipped out the door, claiming he wanted to be at the hospital to facilitate the unloading and delivery. Whatev.
John wanted me to ride with him to deliver instead of Stan, because Stan drives like old people fuck. Plus, he wanted to fill me in on all the goings-on. But Stan was working all day, and really, really wanted to get out the store. I don’t blame him. As it ended up, Stand left with the van with whatever was ready–about forty five of the pies, and I went with John with the last thirty. We get there and Tom and Big John drag the big bags out of the back. I grabbed the smaller bag and hustle behind them.
I’m not dressed appropriately for this–my shirt is untucked, no socks, and I’m wearing my big floppy clown shoes instead of regular work shoes. Not exactly shaven, either. And I’m sure I smell good, too–at this point I had been sweating, slapping out the pizzas.
"There’s no crying in baseball!"
I had in mind when I got back to the store to make sure we were set for tomorrow–Fool me twice, won’t get fooled again–so I started folding boxes and so forth. I told Stan to take a break–he went next door to the gas station for a few minutes–and Dina went to go get her kids from her hastily arranged baby-sitter. It was early, before we got busy for dinner. I was able to get a few things done, however–
Tom called while Dina was gone. She came in shortly after, and called him back. I guess he asked questions about our current situation. He felt that, logically, since she and Stan were late earlier today, and we were 0 for 2 on time today, that logically, she should do the one late at night tonight (the 55 pizzas) by herself. She was to get rid of Stan (who was supposed to close) and me and work alone.
This is all logical, considering that we were originally told that we all have to work all day both days. There was more to this than just this–Dina was upset, she had been crying. The bosses were coming down on her hard. On one hand, I can see her point–they make this mandatory but she has kids to watch, that’s why she works the schedule that she does. On the other hand, with a week’s notice, she can get her shit together and make some arrangement with family or something. Seriously.
They were down on her for how it was all handled and the fact that it was late (twice!) even though the second time was Big John’s fault, but bosses don’t take the blame. They accept responsibility, but not blame.
Stan was upset because he was going to lose out on all this overtime he was planning on getting. I was upset over…nothing. I think, anyway. I thought I had no dog in this fight, but in the battle between evil (the bosses) and mediocrity (the store), I guess I’m on the side of the store, and the people in it. My loyalty lies with them, because I know them, rather than Domino’s Pizza as an entity, because it represents the many spectacular kickings of my ass I have received.
"Nobody puts Baby in a corner."
So I go home, feeling unfulfilled–I failed to save the day. I was merely there. I ate, and restlessly watched TV. Part of me had already decided what to do, and part of me–the childish, selfish part (the id, if you’re into the whole psychobabble thing)–was trying to convince myself that since I hadn’t told anyone, hadn’t made any promises to anyone, hadn’t indicated in any way my plans and could therefore blow it off with no remorse. But I knew what I had to do.
I told Detroit that yes, I had to go back. Fifty-five pizzas for 1045–does anyone want to do that by themselves? I mean, she could, I could, Stan could–any number of us *could* do it alone, but it would be a bitch. Plus–and this was the tip-over factor: Again I repeat they were not just cheese and pepperoni and sausage. Most of these were harder pizzas. When I left, Dina was red-eyed and tight-lipped as I asked again, "Are you going to be okay?"
Short and quick: "Yep." Putting on a brave face, dealing with the stress, and resigned to her fate. The fact that it was her own hole that she had mostly dug herself into didn’t justify it to me that she had to deal with the last order of the evening by herself. So I didn’t call, didn’t give an indication. I just showed up.
Big John was there. Hmmm. I hesitated slightly, but walked through the door. I said to Dina, "I thought I would surprise you and come in and help. Do you need my help?"
She said thanks, and I grabbed my apron from earlier. I had to look for it, but I wasnt going to waste a clean one, and I wasn’t going to put on someone else’s. I don’t know why, but wearing someone else’s apron to me is like putting on a stranger’s dirty underwear. Don’t ask me why..
Fifty-five pizzas, and they had about half a dozen made already. I jump on dough, and, in the parlance of our times, we rock and roll. I got there about 915, by 945 all the pies were made, filling the racks and the excess sitting on the tables. maybe by the math we should load at ten, but–
John agreed with me, and started loading early, about ten till. I did notice that John used a technique I had told John the Driver earlier today to use–perhaps he had learned from me.
Earlier in the day, for the second order (my first) Driver John began loading pizzas. I said, "John, can you stagger those as you load them, so they don’t all come out at once?"
And Stan, who had argued with me about that technique before, saying it wasn’t necessary, wanted to make sure Big John heard him say, "That’s a good idea, Bryan!" Go, team!
I noticed that Big John, now loading pizzas, was staggering them. But anyway, the pies were made, it was time to load them, Dina and Big John were already there, they had a driver, it was only fifty-five pizzas…
Dina said I could leave if I wanted. Okay. I didn’t do much, but I think I did enough. I made pizzas like mad for half an hour, getting the job done quickly. Quickly enough and efficient enough that I could now go.
I felt satisfied, like I had accomplished something. I had achieved personal closure on the day. I could now go home, and for God’s sake, take a shower.
Versus the money I made–probably a little over a gallon total to drive there and back, and I was there about 45 minutes. I didn’t tell Dina, but I didn’t clock in. Charity work is better if you don’t…I’m not looking for accolades for it. I had to do it for me.
Of course, the dream didn’t take place in my current house; they never do. It was in my childhood home. This was good, because we could go upstairs, you see, to escape the alligator.
The Alligator (whose name was Al, and I don’t know if that’s merely a play on the name or a hidden reference to my GF’s son whose name is also Al) started off small and relatively harmless, but he began to grow in size, as did our buyer’s remorse. Although Al hadn’t done anything to us, he nonetheless had a menacing demeanor and we did fear him. We would escape to the upstairs and he would follow because he just wanted to cuddle.
Mac, our dog, was in the dream too. In reality he has trouble traversing the stairs, but with an alligator for motivation behind him, he is surprisingly nimble. Al was trying to get upstairs either to be with us or to eat us, I wasn’t really sure.
Right before I woke up, he was at the bottom of the stairs, looking up and making forlorn sounds to us, and wagging his tail. In the dream it wasn’t clear if he was housebroken.
This time, I returned with reinforcements. This time, I was ready. This time, I had a plan.
I stopped by the license office on the way home from work today. I believe I had everything:
Paid personal property tax receipt
proof of insurance (current and new one)
I had my ID, and I had my debit card, because they now accept them. I darken their door about ten till three on a sunny Monday afternoon. And I’m there about an hour.
Really, only about an half an hour was the waiting in line part. I grab a number, and I am 921. Yay. They are on 879. This may or may not be better than Saturday, but I’m a little fuzzy on the math.
But this time it does go faster. If you are there, you better shoot up out of your chair and yell, "Sir, yes sir!" or your ass will be passed up. I get up to the nice lady and tell her my sad story of not paying my taxes for 14 months.
She shrugged it off, "Eh, that’s not so bad."
While I sat there waiting for my turn, I had sorted all of my papers into the ones I needed for this (see list above) and others, like the car loan docs. I was able to hand her a neatly assembled packet. Check, check, and check–wait a minute.
She looked at the check and smiled. "Is that going to be okay?" I asked. It was made out to the "DMV" instead of the "DOR."
"I’m sure it is, but I’ll ask someone."
She continued processing my what-have-you, and when a boss-type person came by she inquired, and it was approved. We were heading down the home stretch.
A hurdle–not a problem, but a hurdle. I will only explain this for three reasons. I’m going to start with reason 2 if that’s okay with you:
2. Next year in July I might need to reference this.
1. This is an example of bureaucracy and how it works.
3. I lost my train of thought but it was something funny.
Here in the Great State of Missourah we have some rules. I’m also in the Still Great But Slightly Lesser County of St Louis, not to be confused with the City of St Louis, which is not actually in a county but a City Unto Itself, although that is neither here nor there.
When you purchase a vehicle you have to produce the aforementioned documents. In order to produce those, you also have to do whatever is required to get that done–pay taxes, get inspections, lie through your teeth, or whatever. You also need the title, which I have newly learned.
Now your inspections are valid for 60 days, and that’s the time which you have to get the vehicle licensed. When you buy it, you can sometimes get temp tags, which are good for thirty days, and that’s the actual time you have to get the vehicle licensed. By the way, consider all of these items as taxes: The inspections are taxes, the personal property tax is a tax, and then the big one, the sales tax–that’s a tax. The license and all the fees associated are all taxes.
You only have to get an emissions inspection in a few counties–St Louis City, St Louis County, St Charles County, and maybe one of those Podunk counties over by Kansas City, but I don’t really give a shit about them. Do I live there? No, I don’t.
The Powers That Be decided to lend a helping hand to all us peoples, and so you can get you tags every two years if’n you so desire. Well, actually, it depends on the year of the car. Let’s use the example of my car: The Mercedes is a 99. I got it last year, in 08. In 08, I can’t get two-year plates, I can only get one-year. But if I had purchased in an odd year (matching the vehicle’s odd year), then I can get two-year plates. Or just one year, if I love the place so much I want to come back every year.
So the quandary is, I bought it in an even year, and now it’s an odd year. It’s 14 months late, so even if I got last year’s one-year plates, I’m still late on this year’s plates. How the hell much is this going to cost me?
Oh, I did mention that if you’re late, you can’t write a check. But my check is okay, it’s cashier’s check. But I’m still going to have to pay over and above it. The question is, how much?
Well, no matter how late you are, interest and penalties top out at 200 bucks, so I have that going for me, which is nice. As my new bestest buddie Debra works away at the keyboard, and then has to start all over because I want it mailed to my current address and not the one on all the paperwork, she tells me how it is. This is how it is: The farthest she can go is July of 2010. Sounds futuristic, doesn’t it? Eleven months. That means in 2010, I can only get one year plates, but then in 2011 if I’m still alive and still have this car and still live in Missouri and cars aren’t illegal, I can get 2 year plates.
The good news is, I won’t have to get new inspections, because these are good for two years. Thank the body politic for the small bones they throw us.
She pulls out brand-spankin-new plates for me, lays them in front of me to tease me with them, and then gets the stickers. I’m practically salivating at this point. I swear she could have been hot and topless and I wouldn’t have taken my eyes off the tags. We finally–finally–finish, and I am walking away. I felt like I should let out a whoop or a rebel yell or something. The theme to Rocky was playing in my head. I floated out to the car. I can’t believe it! Finally!
It was only half a mile or so to my house. Once I get there, I can put on the–
I got pulled over on the way home.
Haha. Just kidding. But that would have been Alanis Morrissette on steroids, wouldn’t it? Aaaahh. I got home and I put the new plates on. Accomplishment.
So, this is what I have accomplished this year, of the major financial things on my list:
Re-financed the house
Took care of all the past due personal property and real estate taxes
Paid off my credit card
Got my car legal
And now there are two things left:
Get the insurance money from my dad’s life insurance policy
File my last three years’ tax returns.
It’s always something, isn’t it?
With our coming Barakalypse, the one thing I have to look forward to is that I would look really good in a long, dark overcoat, all billowy and brooding.
It’s not nearly done at all, but the I can still see the end in sight. Saturday and Sunday, I worked quite a bit on the garage, and in a few of the previous weeks also. But I finally got the big thing done that I actually didn’t think I could do. There is one more step to it, the harder step, but still–
I have all my tools and supplies organized, arranged, and cataloged. I feel like a superstar badass overachiever with delusions of godhood. I feel pretty damn cool. It’s the little things that make me happy.
I don’t know–maybe it’s the big things. I think being able to find the right tool when I need it, and knowing where it is–I think that’s a big thing. I had such a garage hard-on the day.
You know those big tool chests that you see with all the drawers? I have three of those. Yeah, that’s how fucking cool I am. Three. My dad had two, and he got me one for Christmas one year. Now I have all three. I’ve said before that it matters more to me to have Dad’s tools than his guns, because he and I used to always work on cars together with his tools.
I pulled out two in particular, that were actually the last two to go in. One was a big pair of channel locks, the ones with the blue handle. I’m talking big–probably 16 or 18 inches long. We used these for everything, from changing an oil filter to finessing a small nut when we couldn’t find the right sized wrench, to a make-shift hammer when you need one right away. That pair of channel locks he has actually had for a long time–over twenty years, maybe close to thirty. Long enough that the bright blue handle is now more of a dull green.
The other tool is fairly new in comparison. I think it may be about ten years old. It is a ratchet. A good brand, but I don’t remember which–I guess I’ll look. It is a 3/8 inch ratchet, and has a hinged head, and the handle is no more than 4 or 5 inches long. It is a great tool for when you need a ratchet but don’t have enough space to get both your hand and the tool into the spot at the same time. If you’ve ever worked on a car, you know what I mean. It’s perfect for putting in spark plugs, because the short handle allows for great access and keeps you from tightening the plug too tight.
BTW, that’s a real problem if you’re somewhat strong, like I am. I generally do choke up on the ratchet so I don’t tighten things too tight.
But the point is, I know where all my shit is. I have all the tools in different drawers, marked, and I made a map on excel that I’m going to print out and post on the inside door of the cabinet. In the cabinet is all the supplies, from screws and nails and tape to car cleaners and lubricants, to oil and spray paint and weed and bug killer. All there. Also, I have an open shelf with all the power tools, cordless tools, and other tools that are in plastic cases. I moved this down to be near the outlets to charge the cordless tools, and I put hangers on the wall to hang all the extension cords, nice and neat. I think I need to take a picture or two–this shit is cool.
I now know where all the caulk guns are. For Christ’s sake, I bought three of them in the last two years, every time I couldn’t find one. I have four now, not including the ancient crapped up one that I threw away. But I know where they are. I could give you directions and tell you how to find them. Fuckin aye, dude.
The only part I haven’t done yet (and this is going to be the grueling part) is going through EACH drawer and getting rid of all the extra tools and crap and getting down to JUST what I need. Even a little extra. Even if I keep two of everything, I still have a lot to get rid of. Even after I make a toolbox for my son and for Alex, I’ll still have alot. Even after I give the air tools to my older son–I think I may keep the rest, just not in with everything else. Have a "Tool Treasure Chest." Yeah.
But I have to get rid of alot of shit. How many 1/2 sockets do you need? 30? Really? How do measure how many screwdrivers you have? By the pound? I have about 2 pounds, maybe more. Besides all the doubles, some are just crapped up–rusted or unusable or broken. That box will get pitched. But the rest–
The rest mean something.
PROOF OF INSURANCE
PAID PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX RECEIPT
and last but not least,
I had all of these, I thought. Not the title, thought. Well, as it turns out, I *did* have the title, I just didn’t talk to the right person. Had I come home and immediately went to Detroit and cried on her shoulder, she could have slapped the piss out of me and handed me the title because she knew where it was. I could have gone back that day–
But I didn’t. So today, after work, I will try again. I have everything. In addition to the above, I also have a check from the bank made out to the DMV. Plus, now they take debit cards, which is new. Of course they also charge for that free service.
So there are two things that could go wrong, maybe three: I have the paid personal property tax receipt. However, I may need the previous year’s also, which doesn’t make sense–If I paid this year, last year is paid. Otherwise, I couldn’t pay this year until I pay last year, right? This is what we call logic in the real world, but since I am dealing with bureaucracy, I have no idea what it is called.
The solution to that is simple: For an extra two Obama-bucks, I can get it faxed from the Central office. Problem solved. Next problem: If your even a little late paying all of your shit to get your license plates, besides a penalty another little curve they throw you is that they won’t take a check.
Puzzle out that logic with me, would you:
If I can’t afford to pay it in a timely fashion, should I just write a check that I know will bounce? Or wait, and then have to pay cash, and pay a penalty–not to mention risk getting a ticket for not having proper plates? If I’m late, odds are it’s because I’m being honest about having (or not having) the fucking money in the first goddamn place.
But I did ax them would they take a bank check, a check written out by the bank? Sure–that or a money order. Well, the people who made my loan want to write a check, not give me a blank money order that I might use for something other than for the reason that I fought so goddamn hard to get cash out for in the first fucking place. Fucking shit. Darn it. Okay.
So they said they would take a bank check. However, the check is made out to the DMV–Division of Motor Vehicles-and everyone in the state who has ever had to get license plates *KNOWS* that you make out the fucking check to the fucking Department of Goddamn Revenue.
And the check is only made out for a grand, and the total is going to be more than a grand–and it might be as much as over a hundred dollars more. But I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it.
Here’s some Alanis Morrissette for ya: After I get the emissions inspection, I was driving home the other night and the check engine light comes on. Bummer. I guess I need a tune up or something. But the point is, with that light on, it would never pass an emissions inspection. So…things kinda went my way? We’ll just see, after I try again to get my plates.
Speaking of anarchy, I am close to getting the tags for my car finally. I don’t want to shake the Magic 8 Ball and ask when, but–
Earlier in the week, I got my safety inspection, kind of. I mean, I wasn’t there, or anything, and neither was the car, but I got it. How? Why, magic, of course.
Wednesday I went to the Mobile station right by Domino’s and got my emissions inspection. You can’t really cheat on that–the best you can hope for is to get a waiver after you dump money into it and it still doesn’t pass; they want to see the effort. Or the money spent. In a word: whatever.
Friday after work I picked up my black market safety inspection and put the sticker in the windshield immediately. I was ready. Saturday morning, I’m going to get to the license office early and get this taken care of.
My eyes are always bigger than my stomach on Saturday morning. I want to get so much done. I figure I can get up early, plant the north forty, rebuild an engine and remodel the basement, and then maybe knock off a piece before lunch. Then lunch, then a nap. Optimistically, I set my alarm for 530 am. I can hit the snooze a few times, and be up by 6 am. No Problem.
A little after eight I rolls my sorry ass out bed. Fuck me. The best laid plans–or best plans for getting laid–never go as planned.
Sometimes its tough to wake up. I do my routine–go out and get coffee, pick up some donuts–and come back and slowly wake up in front of the TV. The place is only open from 9am to noon on Saturday, which is just long enough to stand in line for a long time before they close the window on you. Right? So my original plan is to go up there about a quarter of, and stand in line like all the other old people.
A quarter till rolls around, and I can’t make myself do it. I can’t…commit to accepting that I am that old. Plus, I reason, if I wait until they open, they have chairs inside to sit on. No actual standing in the "standing in line." Besides, I’m in the middle of a cigar, it can wait.
I drive up about 920.
Like an armed centurion (or a roided-up bouncer) the number machine greets me with no expression at the door. I am number 378. I look on the wall and they are on…
No, actually, they are on 333. Fun. I take a seat. Among the things that pass through my mind–porn, calculus, aardvarks–I think about both the likenesses and differences between this place and the donut shop from earlier this morning.
Old Town Donuts is just an awesome place. It epitomizes the Florissant Experience, I think. I was happy to see some stickers in the window–2009 Best Donut Shop in St Louis. Damn Skippy. I’m so glad it’s a real place with people I actually know, rather than some hip odd place down in the city where everyone drinks those snooty coffees and they don’t actually serve donuts. They have scones and croissants, but if you really want a donut they can scowl at you and run across the street to the gas station and get you one.
And everyone is dressed normally. No socks-with-sandals wearing freaks or other post modern beatnik hipsters with multiple reasons for a tetanus booster.
It’s a family owned, place, and on Saturday and Sunday morning the owner is right in there, you betcha. He has a lot of young kids in there working the counter from there in the neighborhood, including one of my friend Bunny’s daughters. Everyone in the community knows and supports him. To visit there on an early morning is to know the heart of the town I live in. Aaahh. Deep sigh of community satisfaction…
And I’m back in the license office.
Even if this is the seedy underbelly–or the belly of the beast–it’s still not too bad. I remember about 20-some odd years ago when I first moved here, talking with my cousin Gina (one of Cousin Joey’s older sisters) and she said "Florissant is TOTALLY boring. Nothing ever happens here."
As an adult, I find that comforting.
Just normal people, sitting in chairs with numbers. A cross section of the community. An old fat chick in front of me with a cane. To the left, a cute black chick with some tats. To the right, a tough biker-looking dude. Behind me, miscellaneous continued.
Everyone seemed to be–the mood was calm and relaxed. No anger or anxiety. This is how things are done. I can hardly wait for Obama-care, when I need to get stitches in my foot because I drop a hammer and the claw goes through the top of my foot (it happened to my dad once; chances are, I’ll do it too) and I get to go and pull a number and wait. It’ll be better if it’s on a Saturday or after hours, when there is a sign that comes back during business hours, M-F 8-5, closed from noon-1 for lunch.
At least it’ll be "free."
Christ, don’t get me started.
So I sat, watching the numbers tick down. Or up. I read the news on my phone and then played a game until my battery died. Then we were in the high 350s. It went fairly fast sometimes; if someone was missing they would call out a number, pause, then call out the next.
"359! Three fifty-nine!…Three sixty! Three sixty! Three sixty one!"
"Whoa, whoa! I’m 360! I couldn’t get up here very fast." It was a young woman pushing a stroller.
Finally, into the 370s. Biker dude is gone, replaced by a middle-aged black guy. Cute black chick is gone, replaced by a cute Hispanic-looking chick. Behind me, a guy in a suit. A young girl walked by in front, looking too young to be getting her license for the first time, nevertheless she was. Geez.
Finally, my number is up. Sounds kind of final, doesn’t it? My number is called, and I wanted to jump up and shout, "Bingo!" I didn’t, but I did get up quickly and start over to her, so she would know it was me she wanted.
I pull out all the documents. I felt like a foreigner being stopped at the border in Russia during the Cold War. "Papers!" they would order, harshly and crisply. Plainly, they were used to having their orders followed.
Fumbling, I pull all the documents from my overcoat. It is raining, turning to snow. The German Sheppards are barking, and being held back by chains. The line proceeds without end behind me, and children are crying as they are comforted by their mothers. Fathers somberly hold on to their families, while water drips down their hats and snow gathers on their shoulders while they try to protect their blood and kin from this unstoppable force of bureaucracy.
As the tanks rumble by, troops stop their goosestepping march and wait, then continue with determination, sloshing through the rain and mud.
The lieutenant continued to glare icily at me as I pulled out my papers. Dropping some on the wet ground I mumbled an apology and quickly stooped to get them. The guard held a machine gun on me the entire time, hoping he would get to shoot someone, if only to break up the boredom.
"Papers!" he repeated, in a tone that suggested he did not like to repeat himself. I handed the jumbled mess of papers to him, hoping he would not spot the forgeries–and hoping my expression did not give away the fact that I hoped he did not spot them.
"Where is your title!" He screamed at me. "You must have the title!"
"I’m sorry?" I was jostled back to the present day, standing at the desk at the license office.
The nice lady responded, "You’re here to pay the sales tax, right? You need to have the title to the car."
I looked in the envelope from the dealer. "Everything they gave me was in here. If it’s not in here, they didn’t give it to me."
"The law in Missouri is that you have to have the title for registration. Just go down there and see if they have it laying around, and come back. You won’t have to wait in line again, just come up and see me."
I thanked her and left. I walked casually out and then made sure no one was watching. As a truck rolled past, I dropped to the ground and rolled into the ditch. I removed my wire cutters that had escaped their spot search–I sweated through that one–and cut a hole in the fence. After the headlights passed, I eased my body through. I had escaped!
I was *not* coming back. They’ll never take me alive…
I drove down to the car dealer that I bought the Mercedes from fourteen months ago. The guy on the front porch was politely unhelpful. The business office was closed, I needed to call on Monday and talk to the office manager. "Great," I said. "Can you get me a card so I have the number?"
I wasn’t buying a car from him, so he didn’t really feel motivated to help me. The other salesman came around the corner and gave me a card. "Here, use this. The number to the office is on here." I thanked him. If the other asshole had only known what I had just been through–
I return home, and enter through the garage. I had hoped to return home triumphant, with my shield (or license plates) instead of on it. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, so I started in on the garage, newly focused to just get something accomplished since so far today had been a bust.
There is so much going on in the political world that is pissing me off that I can’t even talk about it. Our glorious leader is going to turn us into a communist oligarchy. Just wait and see. When it happens, I won’t be able to tell you "I told you so" because dissenting opinions will be silenced and probably shot. So just remember…
When you are working at a government run facility doing whatever it is you do now but less efficiently, and you have to stand in line for everything from stamps to toilet paper to healthcare to groceries, and you have no actual money but instead have a voucher card from the government that determines how much you get and when you get it, and all the news is state run MSNBC with everyone cumming in their pants when Obama appears on the screen, and our standard of living is much like that of your typical third world country, and everyone drives cheap shitty little government made electric cars and no one can afford to heat or cool their homes and thermostats are controlled by the Department of The Interior Temperatures and most cities are rampant with crime and looting and you cant own a gun because they’ve all been confiscated and sold to South American socialists so they can go to war against us and the southern half of the US has been given to Mexico to appease gangsters and China owns all of our industry or whatever is left of it, and the dollar is worthless and has been replaced by a world currency and there are more squatters than there are home owners because everything has been foreclosed on but there are not enough sheriffs to enforce it because there is no more money and people are fleeing the cities because everyone is starving there because of the inefficient government run distribution system that–
When our world, our country, goes to shit, just remember I told you so. Socialism doesn’t work. Big government doesn’t work. Controlling everything we do is a bad idea and Nothing is free. Ultimately, we are all going to pay.
And pay and pay and pay…
Remember: I told you so.
it was a pretty good thought
as my thoughts go–or so I thought
where did it go and what was it?
how can you look for a thought?
how can you look for a thought
when you don’t know what it was
or what the thought looked like?
fleeting it was, like a leaf in the fall
and just as temporary
and it might have been crunchy
because metaphors often are
I’ll never get that thought back
and I miss it, I think
it was a great idea, this thought
not the save-mankind-from-itself
kind of thing, but more of the
of-that kind of thing
it might even have been humorous
because frequently my thoughts
are funny and ironic
but now I’ll never know, will I?
I sometimes wish I had one
of those beepy things that I could
attach to thoughts, and then I
could hit the button on the remote
and the thought would return to me from
whatever dark place it had scampered
off to and I would have it once again
the irony of course here being
that once I had time to relive and
analyze this thought that I had recovered
I would realize that there was a reason
I let it slip away
A mind may be a terrible thing to waste
but individual thoughts are like those
Styrofoam peanuts that fragile items are
packed in for shipping.
How’s that again? oh, you want an
explanation for how they are similar?
I…Oh, sorry, I was lost in thought
To: Serena; Scott; Suzan; Peggy; Pam; Jessica; Johnny; Jennifer; Kimberly; Erin ; Heather; Heather;
Subject: new loan
Sent: Thursday, August 20, 2009 12:38 PM
I need someone to give me 55 cents.
I need someone to give me a quarter and someone else to give me 30 cents.
I need three people to each give me a quarter, but only two of them will get a dime back.
I need someone with a generous heart and a short memory to give me a dollar and forget they did it.
I can trade out pennies for you, if you like. I have plenty. The machine doesn’t take them; I’ve tried.
Subject: re: new loan
Sent: Thursday, August 20, 2009 12:45 PM
I have some coins if you need.
Subject: re: new loan
Sent: Thursday, August 20, 2009 12:48 PM
I guess I can spot you 55¢
Subject: re: new loan
Sent: Thursday, August 20, 2009 12:50 PM
That was pretty funny. Cause, see, I went over to your desk and you weren’t there. Pretty sneaky. Anyway, I got money from someone else. Don’t worry, I’ll hit you up at a later time. We have enough people in the office that I can beg off of each person one at a time and it only seems to you like I do it once a year. Your time will come. Oh yes, your time will come.
Subject: re: new loan
Sent: Thursday, August 20, 2009 01:08 PM
Ok. This sounds like an unsecured loan. That’s my department. Well, I’m gonna need your personal info to pull credit. I will also need your last 2 paystubs and 2008 & 2007 W-2’s. Once I underwrite the loan, I will give it to Chris P for approval. It will be a 2 yr loan at 15% interest. The payment will be too low to calculate. But don’t let it go into collections.
No you didn’t.
No, I did. I–
No you didn’t. I don’t dream. I don’t believe in dreams.
Just because you don’t dream doesn’t mean I don’t.
Hey, don’t try to force your beliefs on me. I am more intelligent and more logical than you are. Dreams are for primitives, and barbarians, and the intellectually inferior.
So because I dream and you don’t, I’m an idiot.
Don’t put words in my mouth. But yes.
Maybe you should try it sometime, dreaming.
Hey, don’t force your ideology on me. Your "theology."
Well you tried to force yours on me.
No I didn’t.
Yes you did. You said I didn’t dream.
I’m just stating facts.
It’s not a "fact" How can you know what goes on inside my head when I sleep? My own personal experience–it’s mine. It’s purely subjective.
There is no way to measure with a scientific device whether or not you dream. Therefore, it doesn’t exist.
Have you considered the possibility that we simply don’t have the science, the technology, the ability to measure or investigate dreams yet?
Hah! That’s laughable! We are at the peak of our civilization, technologically. There is nothing we cannot discern. Have you considered the possibility that these so-called "dreams" are just your imagination?
You know…I feel my life is richer and fuller because I dream.
I think you are living a life of delusion if you claim to dream. People who say they dream are either insane or they are just plain liars.
Why do you have some much hatred for people who dream?
I don’t hate them. I do hate the fact that they try to push their deluded fantasies on me.
Look, I can accept the fact that you don’t dream. Some people just don’t. Why can’t you accept the fact that I do? Millions of people–billions of people–do dream. We all have different dreams, too.
Yeah, that’s the other odd thing. Why is it that everyone "claims" to have different dreams? If dreams were real, wouldn’t they all be the same? That is just more proof that dreams are made up.
You know, the universe is a complex place. They universe of the mind is a complex place as well. Dreams are part of a way of understanding both of those universes. Each person gets to have their own interpretation of the universe. For their own understanding.
To me, that’s just a crutch for not accepting *What is*. The universe–it is what it is, what we can see and feel and taste and experience.
But part of my experience is dreaming. It enhances my universe.
How can it, when it’s not real?
I don’t need you to start dreaming. In fact, I could give a shit less whether you do or not. Just don’t tell me that *I* don’t when you have no idea what the experience is like, you pompous, supercilious, over-educated, elitist prick.
I don’t think that’s acceptable behavior or speech from someone who claims to dream. Obviously, you’re a fraud.
Just because I talk that way doesn’t mean I don’t dream. Those of us who dream, all dream in our own way. I am even willing to believe that even ignorant louts such as yourself who don’t enjoy the blessing of dreams can even *not* dream in a variety of ways, not just one. Even though it’s unlikely.
No one dreams. That’s all there is to it.
Look, I don’t want to argue with you anymore–
That means I win.
No, it just means that you are an unbearable dick. You didn’t win, and you aren’t right. I will continue to dream, I just won’t ever share them with you again.
I hate that that the most. I hate it when people come and knock on my door and want to share their dreams with me. Thank God you won’t do that anymore.