Tell Santa What You Want

December 15, 2012 at 7:21 PM | Posted in Fiction | Leave a comment

For this challenge Chuck wanted us to write about the war on Christmas. I don’t care if you believe it or not–there is one. To read more, peek in your stocking here:
Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: The War On Christmas

The little brat sat on my lap, telling me all the crap he wanted for Christmas. I was half-listening as I warily surveyed the crowd. There was always some asshole—
Some jerk in Birkenstocks, torn jeans, and an ironic tee shirt was handing out flyers. Trying to tell people the “truth” about Santa. Their perverted version—
People were ignoring him, trying not to let him tell their kids anything.
I smiled for the picture and handed off the kid. I had to keep up the act for my disguise to be effective. If only they knew the *real* truth about Santa.
I saw my target, but kept up they act. The store was almost closed, and there were only three more chumps left.
The hot mom put her four year old in my lap, giving me a shot of cleavage. Thems the perks, right there. She stood and turned for me–
Fuck! Where’d he go? Dammit-dammit-dammit! I scanned the waning cluster of people to no avail. Whether by accident or design, the woman had let the target slip out. My eyes were innocent and merry, with a “Ho-ho-ho,” as I tried to get a read on her. She stared back with a blackness in her seductive eyes. I felt sick in the pit of my stomach. A team, working together. I had been made.
I looked down at the little girl in my lap. I realized it wasn’t a real girl. It was one of those life-like dolls that looks and sounds real, and talks and wets and cries–
And blows up. Inside its coat, I could see some wiring and a timer. Five seconds. Four–
I looked up, and the “mother” was quickly walking away, towards the food court.
Three turned to two as I looked down. Quickly I jumped up, and women started screaming when I tossed the faux-girl into the nearby fountain. Instinctively, I threw myself down as I yelled, “Everybody do-!!”
The explosion was small–it was meant to just kill me, and not cause much collateral. Even so, water and debris sprayed everywhere, and now people where *really* screaming. I muttered, “Shut up, you aren’t hurt,” then jumped up and took off towards the food court.
I saw her exit as I came running up, and never broke stride but continued out the door. Nobody stops a running Santa. In between the double doors I pulled my handgun, and cautiously peered out. There was pandemonium behind me, but outside it was quiet. Too quiet.
A silent night–
To my right was the giant exterior wall of Macy’s, and before that was the dark area of the service docks for the food court. I heard nothing, but I saw something twinkle. Carefully, I made my way closer. I dropped down behind a bush, and saw legs on the far side of truck as she climbed into the cab. I pulled my costume off and went around the corner, into darkness that matched my black clothes. I rolled under the truck and waited.
Nothing. I thought she would hotwire the truck and take off, like a scared rabbit. She’s good, I thought. Highly trained. If I hadn’t seen her, she could hide as long as she needed.
Since I had seen her, she was toast. I slowly rolled out, looking at the mirror on the passenger side. I didn’t see her, which means she couldn’t see me. I crept up, keeping an eye on the mirror. By the time she saw me, I was at the door. I pulled it open quickly and shot her. She was on the naughty list.
I had forgotten the original target.
I had a wire around my neck and I was jerked backward. We struggled for a few moments. I know several ways to get out of this, but I wanted to let him think he had the upper hand. In his anger, he didn’t realize what my plan was.
“You sonuvabitch! You killed her! You sonuvabitch, Santa! You fucking Christian soldier! Goddamn you!”
And then I had him. His John Lennon glasses came off in the ruckus. Suddenly he had the wire around his neck. I thought it was glowing, and then I realized it was a string of Christmas lights. These pagans love irony.
His last words were, “Winter Solstice is ours! Long live Saturnalia!” I choked the life out of him as he squirmed, and his mouth frothed, covering his soul patch.
The nerve of him, trying to take Christmas from the Christians. We took it, fair and square: the spoils of war.

Later, back at my flat, I cleaned up. I had disposed of all the evidence linking anything to me. In fact, it was easy to make it look like a ritual murder-suicide that these heathens seem to fall victim to so often. They had killed the Santa that I had replaced—the whole reason I was on this mission. I was a ghost.
It’s better that way. This is war. I’m Captain Nick Claus, Special Forces with the Salvation Army. In the past, I heard they did charity work, but I don’t know anything about that. I do know 17 ways to kill a man with a kettle. As I showered, out of habit I rubbed my tattoo, the one that all the members of my unit have.
“Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”


One Night During Kwanzaa

December 15, 2012 at 6:58 PM | Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment
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I read this to my girlfriend and she said, “Wow, that’s not racist.”  I think that was sarcasm, but I choose to accept it at face value, which means that it’s okay, and not at all controversial.  Nonetheless, I figure that while I don’t owe anyone an explanation, I’m going to give you one.

Kwanzaa is a bullshit, made-up holiday created by an angry, racist, reactionary, criminal thug who wanted to drive more of a divide between black people and white people.

Since the followers of Kwanzaa want their own thing, I give them their own thing.  A realistic holiday poem:

One night during Kwanzaa, all up in da crib
All my cousins was sleeping, for the bed they called dibs;
The laundry was hung by the heater with care
In hopes that it wouldn’t start a fire in there;

The babies was nestled all snug in they beds
While visions of bling and shit danced in they heads;
Baby Mamma in her moo-moo, looking so Phat
Had just then agreed to let me hit dat

When out on the lawn there arose such a ruckus
I jumped out of bed to see what the fuck was.
I thought it was cops when I saw the light flash,
So I opened the window and tossed out my stash

The spotlight on the dankness of old yellow snow
Looked like an episode of Cops in the alley below
Just then down the street came a crazy mo-fo
In a big ol convertible, full of bitches and hos.

With a smack-talking driver, all dressed up and hip
I knew in a moment it must be Da Pimp
The car boomed and it rocked, down the roadway it came
And he yelled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Lucretia, Lashonda, Lataisha, Sha-Nay-Nay”
“LaSharon, LaChevy, Tunisha, and Carol;
“To the top of the projects! To the liquor store wall!
“Now shake them all down, ‘fore I bitch-slap you all!”

When he pulled into the driveway it made such a sound
All the property values went instantly down
While the rims were still spinning he fell out of the car
Then stumbled around before throwing up in my yard.

He offered me his 40, the sneaky old prick,
Then distracted me with the oldest of tricks
He said, “Check that ass,” and when I turned around,
Through my back door Da Pimp came in with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, with a big-ass pimp hat
And gold and a cane, like this and like that
A handful of bags he had flung on his back
He looked just like a gangsta, smoking some crack.

His eyes – how they dilated! His teeth caps, how golden!
His cheeks were like chocolate, his face a crushed berry!
We could all see his drawers ‘cause his pants hung real low
And the beard of his chin was as black as the coal.

The roach of a blunt he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad nose and big ol’ fat gut
That he rested on the ass of a bent-over slut

He’s the spirit of Kwanzaa, set to do crime;
Fresh out the joint after doing hard time.
He was out to score free holiday fare;
I worked hard for my shit but he just didn’t care.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled his bags with my shit, the fucking old jerk
He took all my presents, and food–every bit
Then just strolled out the door–ain’t that some shit?

He hopped in his car, but I couldn’t run
As he peered at me down the barrel of his gun
But I heard him warn me, as he drove out of sight,
“I’ll be back next year, and fuck you up right!”

The Ghost of Pizza Past, Redux

December 23, 2011 at 9:46 PM | Posted in Fiction | 5 Comments
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Chuck had a flash fiction challenge this week for something Christmas-themed, and he wanted it in less than 48 hours. Time to cheat. I took an old blog entry I had written and gave it some much-needed editing. I feel certain that anything I can say in 1600 words I can say better in a thousand.
You have to pick that thousand carefully.
Anyway, what he wanted was something about Christmas in an unusual setting. Nothing is more unusual to me than a pizza place.
To see more catch a one-horse open sleigh and slide on over here:
Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Christmas in a Strange Place

Christmas Eve and of course I am working.  My son is too.  It kind of helped, because if I was going to be there late, they would start without me at home, but if it more than me—like my son, then they would have to wait for us.  Christmas is a family time.  And Domino’s—well, Domino’s cared about family.  But not employees.  Where is the supervisor?  At home with family.  Where is the franchise owner?  Three states away with his family.Where is the director of operations?  Probably at a strip club.
In our area there was a local joint which closed about 4 pm.  Pizza Hut and Papa John’s both closed at 6 pm.  Up and down the main drag, as snow was falling, stores were closing, and the streets slowly emptying of traffic, as lights of businesses shut off and people went home.  It was serene and calm outside.  Blissful.  A Christmas choir sang.
Inside my store was chaos.  EVERYBODY else was closing, leaving only us to serve the masses.  We start getting busy as everyone realizes this is there last chance for pizza.  People also call just to ask how late we are going to stay open.  I quickly realize these are the ones who want to wait until the last minute.  We are supposed to stay open until ten, but if they asked we told them nine.
As predicted, the last hour is the busiest hour.  We no longer had the 30 minute guarantee, but we still tried to deliver timely service.  With the snow and the business volume, however, it got to be too much, and we were telling people 45 minutes to an hour, with emphasis on the hour.  Hopefully the fuckers were at least tipping well.
My son, Mike, comes back from a run about 9:50.  I send him with a three-stop that was already getting old.  The last run leaves a little after ten, and then I am counting the money and directing the cleaning, trying to get everyone to help and get them out the door.  We were still getting phone calls, and telling them we were closed, and it tapered off.  At ten after someone calls and wants to speak to the manager.
“Domino’s Pizza, I’m sorry we’re closed.”
“Yeah, I ordered a pizza over an hour ago, and it’s not here yet.”
“I’m sorry.  What’s the address?”
“Number one Happy Street.”
“Let me just look that up for you.  Okay, sir, the driver is on his way even as we speak.  It does look like it has been only 40 minutes, though.  And we did tell everyone an hour or more.”  Customers cannot tell time.
“This is ridiculous.  Why is taking so long?  I am a valued customer!”  All customers think they are valued.
“Well sir, we are a little busy because of the holiday and the snow. But the driver should be there any minute.”
“Just cancel my order.  Call him up, or whatever, and tell him I don’t want it.  I’ll call somewhere else.”  And all customers think they are smart.  This was 1994; I could count on one hand the number of cell phones in a ten-mile radius.
“Sir, I have no way of getting in touch with him; feel free to tell him when he gets there.”  Yes, please tell my son you don’t want the pizza.  My son is six-foot-eight and three hundred pounds.
“Fine!  This is bullshit!”  He hung up.
I didn’t get the chance to tell him that—or tell him that no one else was open. I would have tried–I wanted to help.  Because I care.
About 9:30 my son returned, and he had the pizzas.  The dickhead actually refused them.  I guess Mike arrived at the asshole’s door right after I talked to him.
Being pissed off dragged us down, but we were well on our way to getting the place cleaned up. Generally we close with three people, but we had more people that night because of business, and we were able to share the wealth and get it done more quickly.
In all the rush, I forget to lock the door.  About 9:40, and older man, a black man, came in.
I said, “I am sorry, sir, we’re closed.”
He seemed crestfallen.  “Oh, are you?  I just needed to get some food for my grandkids before I take them home.  We got a ways to drive and nothing is open.”
Suddenly, I had a thought and I said, “Hold on a second.”  I looked at the pizzas Mike had just brought back from the fucker that refused them, to make sure no one had yet dug their greedy little paws in them.
They were untouched.  I said, “Sir, how about a pepperoni-sausage and a ham-bacon?”
He perked up.  “Oh, anything, it doesn’t matter.”  He started to reach for his wallet and said, “What do I owe you for these?”
I said, “Hey, don’t worry about it.  Take ’em, feed your grandkids.  Merry Christmas!”
He smiled big and bright, and shook my hand.  He said, “Thanks, I will.  And Merry Christmas to you!”

Now, I originally thought that this story was about me getting a little revenge on a customer that was a jerk—because I did–or that it was about me brightening up some old man’s Christmas, because I did that, too.
But it is actually about what the old man had done for me.  I deal with several hundred customers in a night, and it only takes one, just one, grind me all the way down.  Here it was Christmas Eve, and look what he did to me!
But when the old man came in and needed a little help, and I was able to do it for him, it put the wind back in my sails.  I truly felt the spirit of Christmas.
And knowing that other guy was fucked for pizza really helped.

That’s Gratitude For Ya

November 24, 2011 at 11:13 AM | Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment
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Yeah, I wrote another poem.  It’s holiday-themed.  Enjoy, or piss off.  Whatev.

I have so much to be thankful for
As I reflect upon my life
I’m thankful for the challenges
That come with all this strife

I’m grateful I don’t live
In 3rd world poverty
According to Sally Struthers
It would suck monumentally

I’m glad I have a job
Even though it’s not enough
My misplaced sense of purpose
Won’t buy food and stuff

I’m blissfully aware
Of the growling in my tummy
It’s easier to diet
When I don’t have any money

I’m happy for my home
And the roof over my head
And the fear of losing everything
Is what gets me out of bed

I’m grateful for the mortgage
That I can no longer afford
And I’m blissful that utilities
Cannot be ignored

If I don’t pay my phone bill–
(And Im glad I figured out)
Then collectors cannot call me
And rain down upon my drought

I’m grateful for the government
Watching over me
I’m glad they regulate everything
Including how I pee

But at least they won’t forget me
As the end approaches nigh
For them I have a purpose,
Until they’ve bled me dry

I’m happy about my vices
They get me through the day
And if they shorten up my life
It’s less I have to pay

I’m grateful for my options,
If retirement I seek
I can die on Tuesday, and retire
Later on that week

Bob on The Fourth of July

July 2, 2011 at 8:16 PM | Posted in Fiction | 9 Comments
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This is another in the series of flash fiction from Chuck Wendig’s site “Terrible Minds.” This week’s mission? One thousand words, with the theme being the Fourth of July. Check out the other entries here:
Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge, “The Fourth of July.”
Right at a thousand words, by the way. I couldn’t cut another syllable.

Breathless, Bob closed the door behind him. He slid down and sat in front of it.
He lost them. For now. The Midwestern July sun beat down on him and everything on the roof of this building. He was used to it now. Wiping sweat from his bald head, he reflected that he had often wondered how people had lived before air conditioning. The answer was: The same way they lived after air conditioning.
Of course, it probably didn’t smell this bad a hundred years ago, what with all the rotting flesh walking around and so forth.
Bob got up and looked around. He had been gathering supplies for this event for the past month. Sometimes it had gone easy. Sometimes not, like today. He thought of the blood that was dried on his leg, but he didn’t want to look at the wound. He was unsure if it was a scrape from a shard of glass–
Or a bite wound.
Scenes from movies played in his head.
(“I know what you’re thinking. Did he fight off six zombies or only five? Well, to tell you truth, in the middle of all this apocalypse, I kinda lost track myself–“)
He moved the barricade into place. He was safe here now.
Under his makeshift sun shade, he drank some hot water from a bucket, and eyed his food supplies but resisted. Food was scarce starting with the second day of this whole mess, and getting scarcer with each passing day. If that was a word.
(“One word.” “One word?” “Zombies.”)
From the roof he had a fair view of downtown. There’s The Arch, there’s the ballpark.
(“Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”)
Below him the street was deserted. Downtown hadn’t changed much–if it wasn’t near the ballpark or the clubs, there was no one around. A deer walked down the street. Okay, that part was different.
It never occurred to Bob to think of the deer as food. Bob was not an outdoorsman. Bob was not handy. Bob had no skills for dealing with a lack of technology.
Bob was in marketing. How he survived all this time was a combination of miracles and dumb luck. Oh, and he was a runner.
(“Run, Forest! Run!”)
Indeed, life was like a box of zombies. Don’t open that shit up.

Darkness was something to fear lately, but now he couldn’t wait. Bob’s one original marketing idea came too late to receive accolades or a bonus. Or hell, even a mention in the trades. But that was a different world. This was to be his shining moment.
He found the prize he had risked everything for today: one of those butane lighters with the long nozzle, perfect for lighting a barbeque.
Or fireworks.
Bob took a deep breath. It was time. He went to his first set-up and prepared to light the fuse.
He heard a loud bang in the sky behind him. As he turned, he heard another, and saw the fireworks in the sky. Those bastards! This was his idea! His!
(“Nobody puts baby in a corner.”)
Dammit. Still, it was time to show the rest of the fragments of the living world that he was still here.
(“Say hello to my little friend!”)
He lit his first array. And jumped back.
The rockets took off more or less the way he had intended. He didn’t have the professional set up that official displays use, and he didn’t understand the difference.
For several minutes, he lit his fireworks off, taking note of other rooftops in the city that were doing the same. He was over being mad–it had served its purpose. On the Fourth of July, he knew now that he was not alone in the world. Over a dozen different light displays were going on.
He stopped when he saw one display suddenly explode in an orgasm of light and sound. The finale?
Hmmm. “Does the light and sound attract zombies?” he wondered. Then he heard pounding on the door and the creaks of metal and wood giving under pressure.
Oh, shit. He was on the roof. That was the only way out. A weapon–he needed a weapon. He picked up a golf club–
(“Cinderella story, out of nowhere–“)
He threw it down.
He ran to the edge of the roof. More were coming.
(“The cops are here.” “How many?” “All of them, I think.”)
The door was starting to give, and his hapless barricade was sliding. A cart with wheels, even weighted down, still has wheels. He wished he was better at this stuff.
(“Zombies mean never having to say you’re sorry.”)
Maybe if he fired the last of his stash at them?
(“If you light it, they will come. And eat you.”)
In a panic, he lit an array and kicked it over, aiming at the door. He hoped. The rockets launched and went everywhere. The flames from the exhaust lit other rockets.
And so on.
Before Bob caught on fire, his barricade gave way and a swarm entered.
(“I see dead people.”)
The zombies rushed him even as he was burning and running around. The zombies nearest him caught some flame as well, and the fireworks were still going off. All this noise drowned out the sound of Bob’s screams.
(“Get your stinkin paws off me, you damned dirty apes!”)
With flames and zombies all around, Bob’s options were limited. He ran for the edge of the roof, with a few flaming undead close behind. He ran, he jumped, and he headed for the ground, a human fireball with an ultimately useless degree.
Three zombies followed him down.
(“I want to be alone.”)
(“You can’t handle the truth!”)
(“You’re going to need a bigger boat.”)
(“Everyone thinks they have a sense of humor, but then they don’t all.”)
(“I’ll suck your cock for a thousand dollars.”)
(“I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy, Yankee Doodle do or–“)

I’m Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today

June 27, 2011 at 11:14 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
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Maybe it is over, as far as pizza deliver goes.
For now, anyway.
I left Pizza Hut in March, I think.  The anti-climax of all anticlimaxes, I just told them I couldn’t afford to drive to work, and then drive.  Not for what gas prices were–and are still, even though they’ve come down a bit, but not nearly enough.
These are trying times indeed.
But maybe that’s a good place to stop the book, if I were writing one.  Which I am.  At least it’s a good demarcation.  If I’m not currently working in pizza, I can concentrate on going back and filling in the holes in my story.  Sliding back and forth through time like Donnie Darko rattles the senses.  I need to be firmly rooted…in the past.
Speaking of the past, I have a new part time job.  I work in a little mom-and-pop liquor store.  It doesn’t pay much, but it’s not exceptionally demanding, either.  And it reminds me of another job I had oh so long ago.

In 19-
Wait, let me get my time line right.  In 83 I graduated, and went to college in the fall.  In 84 I flunked out.  In the fall of 84 we moved to St Louis.  I think that’s when I got the job.
There was this small chain of convenience stores in the area called “Majik Market.”  The company is long gone, but many of the buildings are still around, still being used by Asians as convenience stores.  The one I used to work at is actually an insurance office now.
I was fairly new here, going to school, and wanted to have money of my own.  My Aunt Gloria (who passed away this last December) was the one that gave me a line on this job.  “Majik Market is hiring,” she said.  “I talked to the manager up there.  You should go apply.”
So I did.
Of course, I didn’t know the reason *why* they were hiring.  At the store on Bellefontaine Road just a few weeks ago, the young woman working the register was shot in the face and killed.  It turned out that the robbery was supposed to be a setup between her and the robber, but he panicked.  Or maybe they were dating.
Either way, suddenly there were openings, and not just there.  A few people got cold feet and quit.  Enter me:  bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and gullible as shit.
I met the supervisor at the store on Bellefontaine for what I thought was going to be an interview.  Instead he took me down one of the back aisles near the cooler, and essentially had this conversation:
Him:  This job is pretty easy.  You check people out, make coffee, and keep the place clean.  Think you can handle that?
Me:  Sure.  I can do that.
Him:  Good.  Okay.  You need to call this number and set up a time to go to this address for a lie detector test.  Once that’s taken care of, we’ll call when we’re going to have you start.

I didn’t have an interview.  I had a lie detector test.  They may or may not have been illegal then, but they definitely are now, as a condition of employment.
The place was somewhere near the Arena, which isn’t there anymore.  It was late November, and we had a good snow…like 10 inches.  I didn’t let a little thing like that stop me; I made it to my test.
When they do a lie detector test, there is a pre-interview, where they screen some information in order to set up the questions they are going to ask.  That’s where I lied my balls off.  No, I don’t smoke pot.  No, I’ve never been arrested.  Yes, I promise not to masturbate in the bathroom on the overnight shift.
So I got the job.  I wasn’t going to work at the one on Bellefontaine, but rather the one nearer to my house.  The current staff was the manager–some 60-year old woman, and two other guys.  The black guy worked mostly 3rds and a few second shifts.  Let’s call him Ron.
The other guy was a middle-aged white dude.  Ken.  He was skinny and nerdy, and had a chip on his shoulder.  He had been promoted to “assistant manager.”  With four people, I’m not sure what that means.  We all worked by ourselves.  When I was there at 3am, I might as well have been the fucking manager.
This was my first job that didn’t involve bales of hay or fields of beans.  I figured out how to do it–I’m pretty smart–but there was no motivation to work very hard.  I usually had several hours in the middle of the night to do nothing whatsoever.  Not bad for 2.85 an hour.
After a week or so our manager got transfered to another location, and we got a new manager.  Nancy was younger–early 30s–and pretty cute.
We hired another guy after that who was about my age, but he didn’t last very long.  He was there long enough to cover for me (kinda) when I was going to a concert.  I still had to come in, but I could be an hour or so late.  Of course, this was Bruce Springsteen, the Born in the USA tour.  We had to leave before the show was over because he plays so goddamn long.  I’ve only left one other concert early.
I had this other thing going on that was a minor inconvenience, and I didn’t wonder until much later if it was the cause of other problems.  These two dudes I sort of knew would come up there and hang out–just hang out–in the middle of the night.  Like after 1 am until about 2 or 3.  My friends at the time revolved around my cousins and their friends, and these guys were friends of *those* friends.  So it wasn’t even a direct relationship.
They would come up and hang out and try to mooch shit for free off of me.  At first I did let them have some shit, but if you give an inch, they want a sixpack.  I had to start saying no and being a dick about it.  We would get high up there, too.  I think they were just helping me smoke *my* weed.  What the fuck?
Late at night when no one is around it does get boring and a little lonely.  But after a while, I craved to be alone.  They were pests.
Of course you have some regulars.  I learned the hard way that I actually do need to make fresh coffee before 5am, or I have a bunch of pissed off people.  There were also some Section-8 ghetto apartments behind us, so I had people trying to use food stamps for shit you can’t get with food stamps–but they have to try it on the new guy.
My worst times there were the holidays, and I had nightmares about it for a while after that.  We didn’t even HAVE gas pumps, but in my dreams we did.  Thanksgiving was a taste of what Christmas and New Years’ was going to be like.
Remember, this is the mid-80s, and there were not as many convenience stores around then.  And none whatsoever near us.  You decide on Thanksgiving morning you need milk and eggs?  Yeah, so did 140 other assholes in the last hour.
We–or I–got screwed on the holidays.  Thanksgiving was a holiday, but not until 7am that morning.  Working from 11pm the night before until then doesn’t count.  But don’t worry:  everyone has to come in and work about 4 hours so that it’s “fair” and so that everyone gets some home time.  I got off at 7am, and then come back and work from 2pm to 6pm.  That was time and half, that four hours.  If only I could come back again that night–but no, somebody else got the night of the holiday, with the holiday pay.
The same thing happened again for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years’ Eve, and New Years’ Day.  Fucked, I was.
After the holidays things settled down somewhat.  I worked some thirds and some seconds.  Ron worked all thirds.
Here it was towards the end of February.  There was a crisis at the store.  Also, there was a pretty rough snow storm.  I think all this went down right around my birthday.  When I showed up at 3 for second shift, Nancy said that there was a major shortage at the store.  Not money, but product.  Like ten grand worth.  I think maybe they should count again.  But I had to go down for another lie detector test–everyone did.  Oh, crap.
You know what?  I don’t think there was snow the first time.  I think that was early November.  No snow.  But there was snow this time.  I remember.  This was the big snow.
The next day I drive down, and it had started snowing.  It was late morning.  I get down there for the lie detector test, and the guy giving the test talks to me, so I have to fess up about something.  You know, I’m going to eat in the middle of the night.  I told him that occasionally I would eat something, but that I kept a running total of it, and when I got paid I paid it back.  I showed him the register tape, where I had about 14 dollars worth of stuff on it.  He was totally fine with that, and we did the test.
And then he wanted to make sure–can I get a money order for the amount that I owe, and bring it in?
Uh, sure.  Okay.  I hadn’t done anything else wrong.  This seemed minor, but I was taking care of it.  I went back–I actually had to work that night–I got a money order and I went into to work at 3pm.
With the snow, we were a bit slow.  Which was good, because every time some asshole came in for a pack of smokes I had to mop the floor behind them.
Long about 1030, I get a call from Ron.  I don’t know where he lives, no idea–but he says he can’t make it in.  There is 10 inches of snow, and it’s still falling.  Okay.
So I make the call I have to make.  I guess I called Nancy, but after I told her what happened, Don the supervisor called me, so I could repeat the story for him.  About 1130, Don comes in.
When the supervisor has to come in and work, it’s never a good thing.  When they have to come in and work a third shift, I imagine they aren’t very happy.  But he was the one who was going to relieve me.
He said that Ron no longer worked for us.  Don offered to get Ron a cab, and pay for it, to have him come in.  I guess Ron refused this generous offer.  Okay, then.
So without Ron, I worked third shift.  I worked ALL the third shifts.  For two weeks straight I worked third shift and did not have a night off.  That 14th morning, Nancy came in like always, but she was visibly upset.  Why?
Well, she had to fire me.  She got the call yesterday and was simply told to not put me on the schedule anymore.  Why, she wanted to know.  The fact that I took items without paying for them was theft, a violation of company policy, blah blah blah.  At least I wasn’t responsible for the grand theft–which was still a mystery–and she was relieved about that because we were getting along in a friendly way.  She was cute and I worked harder to try to please her.
So, I violated company policy, and I had to be fired.  But that came to light two weeks ago.  Why wasn’t I fired then?
Oh, because they had just fired Ron, and didn’t have anyone for third shift.  They kept me and strung me along until they could hire my replacement.
Am I bitter?  No.  I was then.  I’m not now.  I learned some things.  Besides, I’m still here, and I doubt Majik Market would turn up anything on a Google search.  Which is the lesson to be learned here, kids.  Don’t fuck with me.  You’ll go out of business.

How It Really Goes

December 23, 2010 at 3:20 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
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Well, we usually get some Halloween decorations up.  Carving pumpkins is just messy, honestly.
We used to have a tradition–for three or four years, anyway–of going to Six Flags for their Fright Fest in October, sponsored through work so it was cheaper.  Really, though, I feel like I’m getting to old to ride some of the rides…
We never have made it to the apple orchard.  I wonder why.
We get the Candy, but I haven’t been home to hand it out.  I’m usually working my second job, delivering pizza, and these holidays that everyone gets to enjoy I just can’t take off for.  Halloween is one of the busiest nights of the year.  I’m working.
This year, Kim was just out of the hospital, so no decorations.  Just barely had candy, and I worked.
Thanksgiving usually goes okay.  If I can’t get my daughter the night before, I’ve picked her up early that morning.  Last year Mike took some of his kids, so we all went together, and Miranda rode back with them.  The food thing works out okay–but this year, I was in the middle of a construction project (Hell, I still am) so we decided to go out to eat.  Everyone seemed to like the food–but I really didn’t.  I did not have a good Thanksgiving.
Besides that, we thought there was going to be a snow and ice storm, and so we cancelled going to the parade.  Miranda was disappointed, and I was too.  We never got the ice–
But it did rain all day.  No, I don’t want to stand and watch a parade in the cold rain.
Usually we get some decorations up, but we decided not to this year because of the construction.  I don’t know what the hell I was thinking.  I do take Miranda shopping and get something for her mom and her brother.  And I do usually get something for Kim, even though we didn’t–
I did the gift exchange this year, badly.  And I didn’t bring any food in.  No Christmas parties this year.  Usually not.  But we did have a funeral, and I did make a lot of trips to the hospital.  Does that count?
We usually do find a way to meet up with my brother’s family, but I’m not sure about this year.  Not with Kim in a wheelchair.  I wanted to see other friends, too–
I did get to go to Miranda’s Choir Recital.  I wish Kim could go to those, but the ex wife is a bit of a bitch about that.  This town ain’t big enough–
This damn job is pissing me off.  I have to work Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas.  When and how am I supposed to have any holiday time?  When?  I’m going to go see my kids the day after Christmas anyway, and then come back and go to work.
New Years’ Eve I work–I usually have.  I’ve been off for just a few, and they’ve been nice.  In a way it sucks even more to know what I’m missing, versus my younger years when I always worked and remained oblivious.
I like New Year’s Day, or I used to.  I would be off, I could sleep late, have no real agenda, get up and eat some leftovers, have a drink, watch a movie–probably not even get completely dressed that day.  It was a good day.
I like the idea of Kim’s party, though.  I just hope I get to go.  I asked off for it–we’ll see if that happens.
This year we had special circumstances that got in the way of the holidays–namely Kim’s four trips to the hospital in as many months.  But I still feel that if I wasn’t working a second job, I could have–we could have–had some holiday enjoyment.

This is not a resolution, this is just something I’m contemplating.  I wonder if I can make enough and save enough throughout the year that come the middle of October I can take a leave of absense from the delivery job for about 11 or 12 weeks–and then come back in January.  I need to figure out how much money I would need, and how much to save, and how it would go when I got close to my goal–
I would take my vacation from my day job as well, in October.  So I can enjoy the weather.  I could be off on the nights and the weekends, and see people, and shop, and go to parties, and have parties, and make food, and visit, and make with all the traditions–
I think this is one of my traditions, actually, where I bitch about not being able to participate in any of the traditions.

Holiday Traditions

December 23, 2010 at 3:17 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
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I realize that nothing lasts forever, and traditions are subject to change without notice, but I like to have some stability in my life.  My personal culture.
When you’re life is in order, these are the kind of Holiday traditions you should have.  Or–these are they kind I would like to have…

Around the beginning of October, we put up the Halloween decorations, including lights.  You don’t put the pumpkins out yet, though.
Some weekend in October, we go to the apple orchard.  Get some cider.  Pick up some pumpkins.  Go on a hayride.
Sometime in October, we go to a haunted house.
There is the fall festival in Old Town Florissant.  I like to go to that.
Closer to Halloween, we carve the pumpkins, and buy the candy.  We try to watch some scary movies that month as well.
Maybe we get invited to a Halloween Party.  We come up with a great couples theme and work on it halfheartedly in our spare time, and then the day before the party we put in several stress-filled hours trying to finish it up.
The party is either before Halloween or Halloween night after trick or treating, so it doesn’t interfere with us giving out candy.  We go to the party, have a good time, meet some different people, and have a few drinks.  We never seem to win the contest.
For trick-or-treaters, we sit in the driveway with a fire pit and a cooler, and chat with people as they come by.  The children I tease, or I quiz them before giving them candy.  I hit on the moms.
We always make sure we have some candy left over for ourselves.

By the next weekend, in November, the Halloween decorations come down.  A few fall and Thanksgiving-themed items go up.  Some day in November is Closet Day, when we pull out the winter coats and other clothes, find the hats and gloves, and arrange the closet so we can use it for the winter.
The week before Thanksgiving is the dreaded Shopping Trip to the grocery store.  List in hand, we buy everything, just like everyone else.  During the week before Thanksgiving, we make stuff–deserts and side dishes and appetizers and things–and put them in the spare refrigerator.  I buy some nice liquor and a few good cigars.  The house gets a good cleaning, and the table and chairs are arranged.
Wednesday night, I go get my daughter and maybe a friend, and maybe some grandkids, and they spend the night, sleeping on the floor.  Thanksgiving morning, we get up and go to the parade.  We bundle up and dress warmly, and get in the van.  I stop at the convenience store, and we get donuts and hot chocolate, and I make them all go to the bathroom.  At the parade, I take some pictures and buy some trinkets for them as we watch.  Once the parade is over, I trek back up to my ex wife’s to drop off the kids, and then come back home.
By then, someone has gone to pick up my fiance’s sister, and my sister shows up as well.  Dinner is almost ready.  We eat and talk and sit around, and maybe play a game.  I take a short nap, and then it’s time for desert.  My sister leaves, and we drive Kim’s sister home.
Back at home, it’s time to eat again, some leftovers–this time with a big bourbon and coke.  We watch a movie and enjoy the quiet time.  Actually–why don’t we go for a walk–at least around the block?  Or drive down to St Ferdinand Park and walk around the lake?  But then later, yeah, we do enjoy the quiet.
The day after Thanksgiving, we don’t–we probably don’t go shopping.  Maybe, unless there’s something we really need to get for someone, in the midst of all the sales.  But we do get out the Christmas decorations, because it’s time.  It is time.  I’m putting up lights on the outside of the house, and a few yard things, while Kim puts up the tree and other things inside.
And we do the holiday thing.
I have a gift exchange at work.  Kim bakes cookies.  We do some shopping, and wrap presents.  We buy little things for friends and co-workers.  We have a Christmas slush fund that we get into, just for this.  Someone, somewhere, is having an adult holiday get-together.  If not, we’ll have one.  Just a cocktail party type of affair, holiday themed.  With appetizers and alcohol.
Some evening we take a nice drive and just look at houses with Christmas lights.
I go to my daughter’s Christmas choir event.  When she grows out of it, I’ll go to my grandkid’s.  If not, I’ll go to one locally, with kids in the neighborhood.  The Christmas pageant is the true meaning of Christmas.
I take my daughter shopping, so she can buy something for her brother and her mother.  I need to find small gifts to give the adults, and then figure out something for the grandkids.
Whenever there is a big office day for food, I bring in my world famous deviled eggs.
Make some calls to some friends and family, and see how they are this holiday season.  Be merry and bright with people I meet.  Sing Christmas carols.
Closer to Christmas, we always have to figure out what the schedule is going to be.  Ideally, for me, it goes like this:
Christmas Eve, we either go to my brother’s or they come up here.  Christmas Day, I spend at home.  I’d like to get up and make a breakfast on Christmas morning.  Later, we do the presents.  I guess we go over to see Kim’s sister, or we bring her over.  Christmas night, mayhaps we go over to Kim’s house.  The Day After Christmas, I go see the kids.
The Christmas Tree stays up through New Years’.  It just does.  That’s how it is.
Sometime over Christmas is a good time to go to the movies.  I also want to go visit some other friends and things–even a short trip out of town.
For New Year’s Eve, we go to either a friend’s house that is having a party, and arrange to stay the night, or go out with friends to a party at a hotel and get a room.  Or stay at home and have a few drinks, and some fancy food.  It’s supposed to be seafood time.  Shrimp, of course.  Some king crab would be nice.  Even that imitation crabmeat, with melted butter, and then other appetizers and finger foods.
We stay up til after midnight, set off fireworks at the appropriate time, then go to bed.
New Years’ Day, we wake up, and find our way home.  It’s a lazy day–eventually we make it to Kim’s house.  That’s what she said.  Casual hang out and Cajun jambalaya.
The first chance AFTER New Year’s is when the decorations come down.

All year ’round, we should always have candles lit…

Santa Baby

December 20, 2010 at 10:36 PM | Posted in The Corporate World | Leave a comment

Jamily is the marketing director at the bank.  The other day she sent this email to three people, and I was one of them.

From: Jamily M
To: Carrie S; Greg H; Bryan B
Subject: Santa costume
Does anyone have a Santa costume I could borrow for a Marketing thing we’re doing?
I need it for Dec. 17 and Dec. 20.
Jamily M
Marketing Director – Mortgage Div.
From: Bryan B
To: Jamily M
Subject: RE: Santa costume
You sent this to a pretty limited group of people.  Do you want me to list some other fat people for you?
Merrily Christmas-y Yours,
Bryan Bushong
Shipping Department
From: Jamily M
To: Bryan B
Subject: RE: Santa costume
Not to fat people–I sent it to Fun people who dressed up in the past. And I thought Carrie’s church might have a costume.
I didn’t want to send to the whole building.
Already to sent the loan officers. If you know a few people, only send to them?
Jamily Maloney
From: Bryan B
To: Jamily M
Subject: RE: Santa costume
Good save.
I was hoping something like that was the reason you sent it to Carrie–You can’t do that to women, it’s not polite.
The closest thing I have to a Santa costume is red boxers.  I could wear a belt with it…
Merrily Christmas-y Yours,
Bryan Bushong
From: Jamily M
To: Bryan B
Subject: RE: Santa costume
Please don’t wear that.
And that wasn’t a save—it was the truth. I’ve taken pix from events we have here before, and I remember who dressed up and who didn’t!
Jamily Maloney
From: Bryan B
To: Jamily M
Subject: RE: Santa costume
I have to wear the belt or the boxers will fall down.  I don’t want to get in trouble.
Merrily Christmas-y Yours,
Bryan Bushong

Oddly Enough, I never heard back from her after that.

The Year Of Living Dangerously

December 20, 2010 at 9:45 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
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2010 has a been a rough, rough year on us here at the homestead.  I’m not complaining, I’m just going to enumerate them.  I’m not blaming anyone–whose fault would it be?  And I’m not looking for sympathy, either.  Not for this devil, anyway.
We started off in January–New Year’s weekend, in fact.  That was when our beloved dog Mac died.  That was hard.  The first dog I ever really liked, the one that showed me what it was to have a dog.
Shortly after that–and this ran all the way through the spring–Kim was having a problem with her shoulder.  She went to physical therapy, which didn’t work.  So she had shoulder surgery, and then more physical therapy after that.
I’d like to say it was an uneventful summer…oh, except I got my car repossessed.
One of my good friends had a death–her fiance committed suicide.  Worse for her, I know.  But it was a tragedy, and it continues to touch our lives, as I help her cope, give her a ride to work, and hear people talk behind her back about what a whore she is.
In the fall, we were going to go to a memorial service for one of her uncles up in Michigan.  However, that was Kim’s first Crohn’s flare-up and her first time in the hospital.
A few weeks later, she was in the hospital again.  This time it seemed worse, the flare-up.  This was all September-October.
In November, Kim’s boss died in a car accident.
In December, the same night she went into the hospital again, my Aunt Gloria died.
And now this.
Kim fell on the ice yesterday and broker her hip.  She had surgery, and she’ll be off her legs for 6-8 weeks.
Of course some little things–I started a part time job and quit, and started another one.  Always a little stress there.  My oldest  granddaughter moved to Texas.  At first she thought she was pregnant, but she’s not.  She’s still getting married.  My oldest grandson is in drug rehab.  Another grandson broke his jaw in September.
My daughter was having anxiety problems, and chipped a couple of teeth–we just got those fixed at the dentist.
I have some financial problems and some tax problems–the usual–  Hell, I had to make the decision to let the car get repo’d in order to keep the house.  I’m trying to get some answers for my sister about a judgment against her and filing for bankruptcy.  Et cetera, ad nauseaum, ad infinitum…

On the one hand, there’s not much else that can go wrong this year.  On the other hand, there’s still time left…

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