Saturday, February 21, 2009

Back Up Off Me Lady

Spending time waiting in line is a part of life. I read a statistic that I just made up that the average American spends 7 years of their life waiting in line. That's a large fake fact. Or maybe it's accurate? Who has time to research this stuff anyway? My point is that since we have quite a bit of experience as a people queuing up for stuff you'd think that we'd have better line etiquette. For the most part we do really, but there is a faction of society (and their numbers seem to be growing too I might add and just did) that don't follow the rules of waiting for something with others.

One of these places I have noticed this is the cafeteria in my office building. I'll be standing in the salad bar line and I'll get what I call "Salad Pressure" from the person behind me. They must think that I'm going to just take all the good bits and leave them pitiful scraps to pick through (if this was the cake bar line or the scotch bar line then their fears would be well founded. I'm a fat drunk you see). Look lady, just wait another 3-5 seconds and let me get my 6 fucking cucumber slices and then you can swoop in ok? Sheesh. When I feel the dreaded Salad Pressure I think it makes me prepare an inferior salad for myself. The person pressuring me has entered my personal space (and is threatening my food...bad idea. I will scratch your eyes out) and so I rush to get away from them as quickly as possible leaving me with a shittier salad than I had planned.

Another place where I feel this same pressure is at the little kitchenette area when I'm using the coffee maker. At work we have one of those coffee makers that makes one cup at a time and the mug that I use takes two of the little pod things to fill it. Invariably while the first pod thing is finishing up someone will come by with their empty mug and start going through the containers of coffee. This gives me Coffee Pressure. Look lady, just wait over there by the sink until I'm done futzing with this goddamn thing. I promise I won't use up all the hot water ok? Sheesh. This is usually at around 8:15 or so in the frickin' morning by the way. I drink one cup of coffee on my drive into work (I have modified my commute so that I can drink the bulk of my coffee on this one road. It's straight and not crowded which means I can leave the car in 4th and just sip away. And bonus: the road is right on the beach. It's quite lovely. Caffeine and salt air) and this is my second crucial, nay CRITICAL cup. I need this coffee to be able to deal with you humans. Oh, and this is also when the person giving me Coffee Pressure wants to chat. "Oh, that coffee smells good huh?" Yes it does. Fuck off. It's enough to ruin my day. Is that overly dramatic? It's true though, I just want to be left alone until I can get more coffee in me. Ok, that's not completely accurate. I just want to be left alone. Period.

There are other examples (Printer/Copy Machine Pressure, Parking Space Pressure, Getting a Drink at a Bar Pressure) but I'm slowly drowning in my own mucous right now and I need my rest.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

5 Song Shuffle (as presented by Pandora Radio)

Kinda slow here today so here's Pandora Radio's vision of a 5-Song Shuffle fully customized for me and crap like that. This will be interesting (to me anyway) since I've already skipped the alotted 5 songs this hour already. Here goes:

  1. Run-D.M.C. - My Adidas (nice! hey, didja know that D.M.C. stands for "Devistating Mic Control"? You just got learned)
  2. Songs: Ohia - How to be Perfect Men (ow, song whiplash)
  3. Mark Lanegan - The Winding Sheet
  4. The Ramones - Glad to See You Go
  5. De La Soul - Breakadawn

And that's that. Pardon me whilst I go back to work.

Monday, February 2, 2009

More Fun With Stupid Jobs

Here in a re-occurring theme is "Vocational Errors by Your Host Mark". After getting duly fired from Copy Cop I landed a job at another copy place (what? it was like my calling or something...this was only the second copy place too. There was to be another one in my future). While it was an ok place to work (aside from the fact that it was run by a family [mother, father, son] who also worked there and hated, hated, hated each other. Well, either they hated each other or they fucking LOVED to yell and scream at each other. To be fair, I'm not really sure which it was), even I realized that it was rather limited in its growth potential. Naaaah, I didn't think that way at all. I just couldn't deal with people and their anal retentive copy jobs. "Could you just move the original ever-so-slightly on the glass so that this is so perfectly straight that NASA will be able to use it for measurements?" God. We called those people "Toner Junkies". Or "Assholes".

At that time Amy had landed a new job at a place called Conservation Services Group. She told me that they were hiring and that I should apply for a job there. The company had a program called "Energy Fitness" which from a 10,000 foot view was a way to educate people in some of the low-income neighborhoods in Boston about energy conservation as well as provide them with some free compact fluorescent light bulbs and low flow water products. But the reality of it was 12-15 people crammed together on a de-commissioned airport shuttle bus (with a salvage title because it had been in a fire and it leaked when it rained from the speakers in the ceiling) driving around some of the shittiest neighborhoods while fighting amongst ourselves. We called the bus The Hate Bus to give you an understanding of the love we felt.

Not the beloved Hate Bus but you get the idea.

So I get this job and it turns out that Nat the crew chief and driver of The Hate Bus lived right up the street from me. Nice easy commute for yours truly. A couple of the other guys on the crew also lived right there in Allston so all 4 of us would pile into the bus and then complain about stuff or tell stories about the crazies we'd seen the day before on the way to the pick-up point for the rest of the crew. We each had to do 8-9 appointments a day so Nat had to do a lot of driving up and down the wonderfully planned streets of Boston. CSG had a bunch of people in the office calling customers and trying to schedule appointments as close together as possible but the logistics of actually having all this shit work out were daunting to say the least. Here's quick list:
  • getting someone to agree to an appointment (even though it was free)
  • actually have that person be home when we showed up
  • have enough appointments to keep 12-15 people busy for 8-9 houses a day, every day
  • not get any of us killed (which honestly was a concern in some of these neighborhoods)

The best part about all of this is that even though we were in this craptastic bus, wore bright (and I do mean BRIGHT) blue polo shirts with big plastic name tags and had walkie-talkies a 3rd grader would scoff at, a lot of people in the neighborhoods thought we were either under cover cops or at the very least working with the cops. Um, no, we just screw in light bulbs. This became somewhat of an issue when we were in, let's say, more sensitive areas of the city. People just wouldn't let us in. Look lady, I just want to give you some of these light bulbs and get outta here. I promise there isn't a microphone in them (actual question). It was ridiculous.

So the way that this worked was Nat would have a list of the day's appointments and he would drive around dropping us off and then picking us up (we would call him on the walkie-talkies when we finished...remember that this is 1994 here, no cell phones. Actually we had a bag phone on the bus. It was HUGE and blocky and had a range of approximately 6 blocks). On this particular appointment, the house was a triple decker and I had the first floor apartment while this other guy on the crew (good ol' Slimmy) had the 2nd floor. We both finished up with the landlord guy and then went outside to call Nat to come pick us up. Nat radioed back that the landlord now wants us to do the top floor apartment. Slim and I looked at each other, shrugged and trudged up the stairs to the 3rd floor.

When we got up to the apartment the landlord was already there in the kitchen. He let us in and while Slim went around to the different rooms trying to spec out lighting (we tried desperately to make our job sound more important than it really was. Basically he was looking for lamps to screw light bulbs into) while I stayed in the kitchen with the landlord guy filling out the paperwork. There was one room off of the kitchen that he wouldn't let us go into and while that was a bit odd, we didn't really think much of it. Suddenly there was a loud knock at the front door and the landlord guy asked me to open it. I did and was greeted with a cop dressed like a mailman with another cop right behind him with their guns drawn. "I don't live here!" I managed to say as they pushed past me and into the kitchen. The guy's wife was in the stairwell yelling "Praise JESUS! Jesus save us! Lord help us in the name of JEEESUS!!" which did little to assuage my fear of being shot in the face. The cop dressed like a mailman grabbed the landlord guy while the other one walked from room to room all commando-style (and I don't mean sans undies. I mean like Jack Bauer) looking for bad guys. It was crazy.

Apparently this house was under police surveillance for being a drug den or something and although the cops KNEW that Slimmy and I were in there, they decided that this was the perfect time to bust in and arrest the landlord (if I remember correctly there was someone else they were looking for as well who may or may not have been in that room we weren't allowed into). I actually had to have the guy sign the paperwork just before they slapped the handcuffs on him. We followed the cops and the guy and the Jesus-yelling-wife downstairs and out onto the sidewalk. The cops had actually showed up in one of those little mail trucks (no, I didn't cross my fingers, I was still kinda freaked out) and parked RIGHT BEHIND that was our beloved Hate Bus. No WONDER people thought we were in kahoots with the cops.

Nat called us over and Slimmy and I got in the bus and we sat there for a second saying "goddamn, we're never going to get another appointment in this neighborhood again". It only just occurred to me now that maybe that was a good thing.