Tagged: Humor

A True Trump-ian Neighborhood Crime Story

WFAA Photo

As we were leaving our subdivision for a family outing this week we saw six police cars parked in front of a neighbor’s house with several officers conducting interviews with a couple of residents to help crack the case. This being a rather unpleasant election year, it didn’t take long for us to figure out what was going on since no weapons were drawn and voices weren’t raised. There were some slackjawed cretins looking oh, so concerned…and confused. 

Here’s the setup. As we were walking around the block the other day we noticed a number of homes displaying Trump for President signs on their front lawns. That alone had us wondering how much we could get for our house. But OK. This is America and the First Amendment guarantees the right to publicly display support for a misogynistic, egocentric, lying cheater who is so inept he drove several casinos into bankruptcy. 

Don’t get me wrong. In front of a few homes we did see signs supporting someone who is old enough to celebrate his birthday by carbon-dating. Having your birth certificate engraved on two stone tablets isn’t a good look, but a handy paperweight. 

Anyway, a day or two after our eye-opening walk we noticed all the Trump signs were gone–obviously stolen in the dark of night by someone who either doesn’t approve of our incumbent incompetent, or needed some paper on which to jot down their Yahtzee scores.  

But just like an octopus’s severed arm, the signs miraculously regenerated…and then re-disappeared. The neighbor who had handed out the signs indignantly huffed and puffed up and down the street taking photos of the houses that had displayed the purloined posters, as if that evidence would cause the cops to, um, give a shit. No police cars could immediately be seen investigating this ex poster facto case…until they were. 

Yes…the signs sprouted once again, although this time, the forever Trumpers got wise and started situating them really close to their homes and a few plunked them down right next to signs warning intruders the home, and Trump posters, were protected by a security system. I can only imagine being a dispatcher at Al’s Security Service receiving an alarm triggered by a Trump poster heist…and quickly going back to eating my bean burrito. 

Now here’s what I always wondered. Why the hell bother going through the motions of a secret ballot if you’re gonna tell the whole world who you’re supporting anyway? I can see attending a campaign event or volunteering to support your candidate, but plastering your choice on your front lawn not only reveals your “secret” but makes your house a target for poster nappers and worse. 

I’m simply not demonstrative in that way. I don’t display bumper stickers since I can’t imagine anyone being influenced by a sticky sign ruining the finish on a costly car. I also don’t put up lawn signs for, well, anything, because I live in a house and not a billboard. Besides, you want me to push your brand you’ll have to consult my rate card and pay up. That’s also why I’ll never buy a car from a dealer who insists on placing a decal or medallion with their name on my vehicle. 

Well, I’ve noticed the Trump signs are back and the number of Biden signs has increased to where it’s running about 50-50 for each guy on my street–but don’t look at me to break the tie with a sign of my own. I’ll let my neighbors on both sides think I’m with ‘em. But if things get really scary I might consider planting a sign after all–For Sale. 

Spaced Out on the Term “Space”

In the past week I’ve been approached by a PR person professing he knows I’m “in the auto space,” read treatises on companies operating in various spaces and seen job descriptions requiring candidates have experience in a specific space. I have now made it my irrevocable practice to put a wide swath of space between me and anyone who uses the word “space” or any other permutations of it instead of an actual word related to the object of their deflection. 

Oh yeah, it’s just another one of those obnoxious terms people latch onto such as the most hideous of all, to me, “staying in one’s swim lane.” My reply to that one is always a hale, hearty and utterly sincere, “fuck off!” along with my fervent wishes they will have to ingest their meals through a snorkel. Enjoying that swim lane? 

Do people use these terms to seem sharp, superior, in the moment? If so, they come across as arrogant, lazy and ignorant. 

The word “space” is not a Scrabble blank. You have to use it, like any other word or term, correctly. I do not work in the auto “space.” I do cover the automotive “beat.” You can also use “industry.” To me, “space” in the automotive context means gaps between body panels on poorly manufactured vehicles. Perhaps the person using “space” related to my beat has a gaping one in their training or preparation.

Companies do not operate in spaces. They operate in various industries, businesses, services or products. Honestly, would you say NASA operates in the space space? If you did you’d be operating in a vacuum. 

I’ll keep this short because I’ve made my point ..and I don’t want to unnecessarily take up more than my share of..uh…space. There. I’m done occupying it. 

Sorry, Brooks Brothers. The ‘Uniform’ is History–My Tale of Sartorial Revenge

This is me in my closet with the dozen suits and sport coats that helped create “the uniform.” Remember, all the way back to February or January, before the pandemic hit and people still schlepped into the office wearing this stuff? Since semi-retiring four years ago, my uniform pretty much has been put out to pasture except to infrequent forays to business meetings or funerals.

Oh, they served me well over the years. Especially the one Brooks Brothers suit I splurged on when I was still a TV reporter. It pains me that BB, like other men’s clothing chains is going bankrupt, because, in the era of Zoom meetings, we not only don’t wear the uniform, we barely wear pants.

I have a lot of ties. See them whipping around on the little merry go round in my closet? Some, I’ve never actually worn. They are instruments of torture but pre-pandemic, they represented an often-compulsory punishment to our respiratory system in the name of adhering to a “dress code.”


Ah…the dress code. I also kinda got that wrong. When I joined CNN in 1981 I had come from a TV station in Tucson, Arizona where I was producing newscasts. Since I wasn’t on the air, I could dress like shit. I was joining CNN in a similar capacity and assumed “dressing like shit” was the dress code there too. On my first day I showed up in corduroy jeans, a buttoned-down sport shirt and scruffy shoes. I made an instant first impression because everyone else was wearing “the uniform.” My boss, who wore his own version of the uniform, featuring a crumpled white shirt and suspenders, kindly took me aside, smiled and informed me “we kinda have a dress code here.” Would have been nice to know in advance but with most of my wardrobe back in Arizona, I had to do some fast shopping.

Many years later it worked the other way. When I made the jump from journalism to corporate communications at then DaimlerChrysler, which is now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, I show up the first day in a pressed blue suit, white shirt and red tie. Damn! Missed again! Sure, there were a couple of guys with a shirt and tie and sport coat hanging on hooks, but I looked more like one of the German taskmasters looking to take over the company.

A couple of years later, the company was sold by the Germans to a U.S. capital management slumlord company from New York City. They all dressed up while they fired a large percentage of our staff as the company headed towards bankruptcy. I suppose it’s appropriate for the executioner to at least show some respect for the condemned by throwing on a decent tie.

It all changed again when the late, great Sergio Marchionne and Fiat took over the company. He never work a tie and rarely a jacket. His uniform was a black sweater or golf shirt, depending on the season and dark pants. He once explained it made his busy life less complicated by not burdening himself with daily wardrobe decisions.

From then on we felt we had permission to dress down a bit, but didn’t take it to extremes. I may not have always worn a tie but at least had a jacket handy in case we had an important meeting. I’d wear it into the office, then immediately take it off and hang it up until it was needed, or it was time to go home. You could always tell who the visitors were in the building–they were the suckers who were wearing suits and ties.

In my semi-retirement I’ve been working from home since I walked out of FCA for the last time on July 28, 2016, so there was basically no adjustment for me when the pandemic hit. I don’t mind Zoom or Google Meet meetings, and the only concession I make sartorially is wearing a decent shirt, but don’t ask me what’s covering my lower regions. To put your mind at ease, it’s, um, something, but I assure you it’s not the pants from that abandoned Brooks Brothers suit, nor is it a pair of pressed Dockers. It’s just something, okay?

Once this is all over and we’re compelled to meet in person again, I’m not so sure many folks will revert to a version of the uniform, having gotten used to being dressed more comfortably, and probably less expensively.

I do feel sorry for the abandonment my old work wardrobe must be experiencing. That’s why every once in awhile, I’ll go to the section of my closet where they suits and jackets and pants are hanging, thank ’em for their service, then hit the switch, watch the ties go round and round and round and round, hoping those now-useless instruments of torture are starting to feel a little nauseous. Payback is sweet.

Play Piped-In Ball!

I don’t know about you but I’m excited Major League Baseball is cranking up and it’s not only because of my love for the game. What’s got my juices flowing (and at my age they’re barely moving) is the artificial crowd noise they’re going to pipe into the stadiums since there won’t be any fans. 

The Dodgers went one better in a pre-season game with the Arizona Diamondbacks, putting up cardboard cutouts of fans to go with the piped-in din.

I got a taste of it during the telecast of a Detroit Tigers intrasquad game last week and I have to say, that as spooky as it was to see 40,000 empty seats but hear 40,000 disembodied voices sparked all sorts of inane thoughts. Those thoughts included suggesting to Stephen King he write a book called “The Stands” and registering for ventriloquism school to see if they could teach me to throw my voice…from third to first. 

But why stop at a simple din and occasional cheers? Why not create audio drop-ins that would include a cadre of unseen bots booing the crap out of an overpaid player who under-achieves or an ump who keeps missing calls? I’m sure the person running the audio could have at his or her disposal a number of disembodied bon mots that could include the traditional “you suck!” to the observant “balk!” to the erudite “you threw a fastball in a hitter’s count? Moron!”  It might be slightly hysterical, if not ridiculous to see the targeted player flip the bird in the direction of his ersatz harasser. Then get tossed. 

The Houston Astros are giving it a try through the use of a smartphone app that fans can access to express their sentiments. The info is monitored by the staff at the stadium who can them match the crowd noise to the percentage of fans rooting for each team.

Why stop with faux spectators? Every couple of minutes during an inevitable lull toss in the comforting sounds of a vendor hawking hot dogs, beer or an overpriced pennant, then quickly follow that with the sound of a fan hollering, “Hey! Two dogs, two beers!” To add a bit of texture, wait a few beats and toss in “where’s my effin’ change?” 

I see a situation late in the game when the tension building all night explodes into an unseen spat between “fans” on opposite sides. Bring in the sound of fists hitting flesh, then add “Pow!” graphics to the screen. Now you’ve got a multimedia experience! 

I know all this would really add authenticity to an otherwise inauthentic proposition and the players say they really feed off crowd noise so why not include as many elements as possible to make it seem as real as possible. 

Besides, if it works out, maybe they’ll start projecting images of imaginary fans doing the  Wave or even “catching” a foul ball or homer. I bet they can create holograms of fat guys with no shirt making their man boobs bounce in time with the music when they’re sure the camera is on them. 

It’s all gonna work out! I can’t wait to sing “Fake Me Out to the Ballgame!” 

Lost in the Amazon

There’s trouble in Amazon-land and it’s not only holding my stuff hostage, but promising delivery of an item that’s already been delivered. Indeed, I know someone who works for the online sales behemoth and he confirms, “it sucks.” 

Now I’m quite aware all home delivery services are overworked thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic that’s kept so many people at home, for fear of encountering selfish and foolish cretins who refuse to wear a mask for fear of being identified as smart, considerate or a Democrat. 

Today’s Detroit Free Press, as well as a number of other news outlets, tells the story of an Amazon driver who was fed up with the workload and abandoned his delivery van full of packages.  The guy announced his, um, resignation on Twitter. He didn’t use nice language. 

Since I’m a semi-retired journalist, I won’t use that kind of language, but you can infer similar words when I relate my latest trip down the Amazon hellhole.

First, I order a CD. Go ahead, get it out your system, “Hello Boomer!” OK..don’t infer, accept my good natured, “fuck off.” Anyway, I keep getting notifications that it will arrive some time in July. That’s awesome. I actually received it two weeks ago. I wonder if I’ll receiver another one…just to share with another Boomer who may also still have an impressive collection of 8-tracks. 

OK..that one isn’t so bad. The one that’s hacking me off is my order for a new controller for my lawn sprinkler system. Yeah, yeah. First World problem. I ordered it on June 19th. Normally, even with Amazon’s slowest delivery option…aka “free” it doesn’t take more than a week. First I received an apologetic notice that it was “running late” and I could expect it this week…July 1. Then yesterday I receive another email giving me the bad news that “there is a delay in shipping some items from your order. We apologize for the inconvenience.” Aw…that’s sweet. The drone who wrote that must have been brought up with good manners. The bottom line, the “delay” amounts to basically an expected delivery a month from when I first ordered the thing. I’m glad I wasn’t ordering something more important…like a respirator…or Larry David edition of Mr. Potato Head. Maybe it’s on that guy’s abandoned deliver truck.

I know I’m not nearly alone in whining about my Amazonian experience. I know the U.S. Postal Service is under water as well and shipments are delayed due to huge volumes and understaffing. Honestly, a sprinkler system controller is not my idea of Chanukah in July, but you now how it is. Once you order something, you get anxious to receive whatever it is you wanted, even if it’s replacement vacuum cleaner bags. Hmmm…I need to order those too. Crap. …and those wet things you attach to a Swiffer…and a needle for my record player. No rush. 

My Father’s Day Tribute to My Punning, Pranking Dad

My dad…Richard M. Garsten 1922-2007

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. This is my 36th year as a dad and the 13th year since I lost mine. Oh no, we’re not gonna get maudlin. We’re gonna have some fun, because that’s what my dad was. 

Actually, he was sort of sneaky fun. Generally quiet by nature and not nearly as outgoing as my mom who aspired to sing and act on Broadway, but gave it up to raise me and my brother. Some trade, huh? She would have had a shelf full of Tonys. 

No, my father was sneaky fun in a few ways. He was a chemical engineer by trade–not a profession generally associated with yukking it up. “Hey Al, hear the one about the constricted pipe nipple?” But he was a master punster who both loved to hear them and let one loose. Whether he was delivering or receiving, at the punchline, he’d grab his throat and make a choking sound. That was sometimes misunderstood by folks out of earshot and at least one time a concerned citizen ran over about to administer the Heimlich Maneuver on my dad thinking he’d swallowed an olive whole. Poor guy. Not only didn’t he save my dad’s life, he ruined his punchline. 

What was the pun? Oh, my father’s absolute favorite mocking of country music. The set up was, “Oh, I hate country music!” His victim would always ask, “how come?” The reply/punchline was always, “They have stupid titles like (and he’d sing it like Hank Williams) ‘He fell down the sewer and they called it sewer-cide.” Hand to the throat. Choking sound made. Victim suddenly remembers he’s late for root canal…and looking forward to it. 

One think my dad absolutely hated was cigars. Hated how they looked in a guy’s mouth and despise their smell. Back in the 60’s it was OK for folks to smoke in other people’s homes and we had an impressive ashtray collection to facilitate their early grave. Cigarettes? OK. Pipes? OK. Cigars? No OK. One night when the weekly poker game was at our house one of the players decided to fire up a stogie. My dad had laid down the ground rules many times, so he felt no need to repeat them. Instead, he simply whipped out a fat rubberband, made it tight around his fingers, and shot the cheroot right out of the guy’s mouth. The shocked guy knew he done wrong. All he could say was, “shit, I forgot the rule, but you could have just asked me to put it out.” Nope. My dad knew how to make a memorable moment…and his point, without uttering a word. 

Speaking of making his point wordlessly, that same guy who broke the no-cigar rule turned out, after awhile, to be quite the asshole and the guys wanted to kick him out of the game. They didn’t relish the confrontation so my father, ever the brilliant one, again came up with a way to send the message without getting into what would likely be an unpleasant verbal exchange. 

He shared his plan with the boys, whom he had arrive a little earlier than usual. When the jerk arrived at the usual time, he was greeted just outside the door to our apartment with 7 guys armed with seltzer bottles who drenched him in bubbly water. We never saw him again…and not a word was spoken. Told you. My dad was quiet.

I miss him every day and memorialize him by taking out my gee-tar and singing his “favorite” country song, afterwards reaching for my throat and making that choking sound. Oh, I’d never perform it in public. Would be professional sewer-cide. 

Haircuts Are Back-My Follicle Follies

You would have thought our governor announced free six-packs of Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale for all on Friday. I, personally, would have appreciated that very much, since I’m down to my last few and they’re going fast. 

No, the collective jubilation heard ‘round the Mitten was her declaration that we could all…after everything we’ve gone through over the past few months…after suffering through a terrible pandemic, mindless searches for toilet paper, avoiding human contact and appreciating the wonders of curbside pickup and Grubhub…..can finally get our hair cut! 

For the stylists, barbers and salon owners who have endured months of financial disaster, I’m thrilled. For those who have simply suffered blows to their vanity, get over it. It’s just hair. If someone only appreciated you, lusted after you, respected you only because you were stylishly coiffed, snip them out of your life! Give ‘em the brush off! I’d chase ‘em with a blow dryer and muss up their locks while shouting, “your hair sucks! We’re through!” 

Personally, I just don’t care. I own an impressive collection of ball caps that match the colors and styles of just about anything I choose to wear. Bad hair day? No problem. Pop on a top with the logo of my favorite team or car brand or place I’ve visited. I have an especially tacky one I acquired years ago while covering a story at the Ontario Tobacco Growers warehouse. It’s not only ugly, it offends anti-smoking types. I’m not a smoker, but I do like lighting up prissy puritans once in awhile. 

When I worked as a TV reporter I was forced to pay close attention to my hair. It wasn’t always bad. The TV station where I worked in Tucson, Arizona paid for our haircuts. They had a deal with a salon located in beautiful old house and my assigned stylist was gorgeous. It was a nice change from our previous salon run by a crazy woman who often ran out to her car in the middle of a styling, apparently to huff a white powder. She wielded her Conair blower like a Glock when she returned and when we informed the station we would no longer sit in her chair like sitting ducks they thankfully moved us to the much nicer place where none of the stylists potentially faced arrest. 

By the time I worked my way up to CNN, the network merely reimbursed us for our haircuts since the on-air folks were strewn around the world. At first I was lucky enough to find a young lady who was quite talented and that lasted for a year or two until she got married and quit. I looked around for someone new and was referred to a stylist who was quite experienced and received positive reviews. Things went well for a bit until she experienced “man problems.” For the entirety of my styling she’d go into a rage about men, her man, how men suck, how she’d like to kill all men. Given she was holding very sharp scissors and I happened to be a man I was not, in the least, relaxed. I finally just stopped using her and moved on. 

That was better until the new stylist said she only wanted to work one or two hours a week and none of those hours coincided with any of the hours I could come in. 

At that point I honestly didn’t care anymore. I visited my nearest Fantastic Sams. Didn’t care who I got. Waiting like everyone else. Got someone different almost every time. Got a fine haircut almost every time. No rage, no threats, no problem. Then the shop owner decided Fantastic Sams franchise fees or whatever were too expensive so she went out on her own. Best yet. Independent owner, talented stylists, 12 bucks plus tip for an excellent shearing. Sometimes they speak English, sometimes they don’t. Don’t care. They speak the common language of “follicle.” Been going there for a decade. I’ll be happy to return. 

But meanwhile, my hair has been silently growing, thankfully covering the thinning bald spot on the back of my head. I’ll miss my mop when it’s cut. I may even grow it back. I just hope the same stylists return to my favorite place. I have nightmares I’ll get in the chair and looming down over me with sharpened scissors hovering over my ears is the man hater raging about how I walked out on her all those years ago. Snip Snip. Oh shit. No tip. 

The Pandemic Ice Cream Index

maskedconesHas it happened to you or a family member yet? So far we’ve escaped, but others are not so lucky–and it’s causing longer, slower lines at neighborhood ice cream and custard stands as well as testing the patience of hardworking scoopers and shake makers.

It happens to all of us at one time or another, but since things have gradually reopened during this pandemic, I’ve been an eyewitness to a new degree of the inability to accurately convey a preference. It’s a malady I can only blame on months of being holed up at home, separated from society without the need to make any big decisions–most notably, regarding frozen desserts.

I present to you a few recent actual events as evidence.

zipdipI’m in a properly socially-distanced line at a neighborhood ice cream stand…much like those in the photo above.  At the front of the line is a guy who, let’s just say, looks like he comes here often. I can’t hear him order but the efficient worker quickly brings him two shakes. NEXT! Right? Nope. The guy kinda gives the two cups a confused look and asks, “are these mediums?” The attendant replies there are, in fact, smalls. “Aw, sorry…I wanted mediums.” The attendant apologizes and goes back to whip up two larger shakes. Meanwhile the line is getting longer and you figure when the attendant returns with the two medium shakes our guy will be satisfied. Heh. All this quarantining has his mind completely addled. “Uh…jeez…sorry again.” The attendant appears to be feeling around in his pocket for something–perhaps the cyanide capsule he’s hidden in his apron for such an occasion. “Yes sir?”  “Uh, didn’t I also order two medium twist cones?” “No sir, you didn’t.” “Aw shit, sorry. Could ya do those too?” The cyanide is looking better all the time. He dutifully makes the two cones but that’s NOT GOOD ENOUGH. “Aw, man. Could ya turn ‘em upside down and put ‘em in cups?”  Nah..cyanide is fast, but not fast enough. The attendant gathers himself and returns with the two, now, upside down cones duly placed in cups. Mercifully, the customer accepts them and leaves.

By now, with those waiting standing six-feet apart, the line is roughly 50 feet long and up to the counter steps a skinny codger with a scraggly white goatee. I tell my son, “this guy’s trouble.” Father knows best. Customer places his order. “I’d like two small chocolate cones.” Easy. Not easy. Attendant still recovering from the last customer quickly comes back with two chocolate cones.  “Aw, crap. Jeez.” Attendant starting to take on that 1000 yard stare. “ I really wanted TWIST and not just chocolate.” Attendant disgustedly dumps the two chocolate cones in the trash, and remakes the guy’s two cones. Hands them to him without a word. Customer endures hard stares from those in line and submits to the walk of shame back to his car. We all hope the cones melt before he gets there.

My turn at last. The attendant is wary. He’s thinking, “oh shit, another old guy who looks like a Rocky Road short of his 31 flavors.” I pick up on this. I order. “Two small cups of vanilla and one SMALL twist cone.” I see the doubt on his face. I smile, and add, “and that’s my final answer.” He laughed. I laughed. I paid and left. The crowd applauded.

One day this will all be over. Our minds will recover, and it will be safe to once again order frozen desserts correctly.

Those Uncomfortable First Days

firstday

While we’re all waiting for the world to spin back on its axis and people aren’t getting sick or afraid of breathing in public, I thought it might be fun to kill some time thinking back to one of life’s most uncomfortable episodes–that horrible first day on the job.

You know how it is…you don’t know where anything is, everyone in the office is giving you the eye wondering if you’re OK or a jerk or if you’re gonna try to steal their job or be an ass-kisser or slacker. Your main challenge is delicately asking where the washroom is and where the office supplies are hidden. Some wiseass gives you directions to the washroom, but after you memorize every turn and finally find the door as you’re about to explode, you discover the schmuck didn’t add that you need a key to enter. Sound familiar?

I’ll start with a couple of my most memorable/horrible first days, and then I invite you to join the fun by adding yours in the comments.

egcnnanchorThe date was November 30, 1981. My first day at CNN in Atlanta. I was hired as one of the first producers to launch their second network which was known at the time as CNN2. It later morphed into Headlines News and now HLN.

I had been working as a producer, reporter, anchor at KGUN in Tucson, Arizona. If you know anything about Arizona, it’s extremely laid back. No one gets dressed up, much. Especially producers.

Well…I saunter into the crazy, busy CNN headquarters on my first day figuring I’d wear my “producer clothes.” In Arizona that meant casual pants, an open-necked button down shirt and comfortable shoes. Psych. I look around and everyone else is wearing serious business clothes. Women wearing dresses. Men in dress shirt, ties, jackets, polished, black shoes. I’m already marked as a rube from out west. My boss kindly takes me aside and whispers, “you may have noticed there’s a bit of a dress code.” Well..yeah…would have been nice if someone told me in advance. But that wasn’t the worst thing about my first day. That would happen momentarily.

The boss said we should go out onto the newsroom floor and learn how the national assignment desk worked. So I go up to the first guy I see on the desk. He’s a big, balding, bearded volcano about to erupt. I introduce myself and ask if he could take a moment to explain how things work. Cue the eruption.

“YOU WANNA KNOW HOW THE FUCKIN’ DESK WORKS! WATCH THIS!!!!,” he screams at me. He picks up the tie-line to the DC bureau and starts screaming at the producer on the other end using the most vile language one could muster. This goes on for about 20 seconds. He slams down the phone, glares at me and screams, “THAT’S HOW THE FUCKIN’ ASSIGNMENT DESK WORKS. NOW GET THE FUCK OUTTA MY FACE!!!!”  I took that as a most instructional lesson, took my leave and, you know, I never got the guy’s name or saw him again, which was just fine. Boss later asks me if I got the lay of the land on the national desk. I told him about the “guidance” I was given and just grinned, replying “yeah, that’s pretty much how it works.”

garstenLAautoshow1First day number 2. August 23, 2005. My first day at what was then DaimlerChrysler and now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. It was my first corporate job. Hired away from The Detroit News to ghost write and manage a blog for the head of corporate communications. Cool job.

I’m led up to the sixth floor PR offices at corporate HQ and plopped in my new boss’s cube for all the first day stuff. First thing I was told was to look at my new badge.

“See your badge? It’s green. That means you’re a contractor not a REAL employee. REAL employees have blue badges.” I feel welcome already. Then the next indignity.

“Come with me. Let’s look out the window. You see those parking decks close to the building. You can’t park there. Those are for REAL employees. See that surface lot..somewhere beyond the horizon? That’s where contractors park. So that’s where YOU park. It’s not too long a walk…except when it’s raining, snowing or the wind is howling. Then…it sucks. Welcome to the company!!”

I became a REAL employee about 13 months later but always hid my blue badge. It was out of consideration for the other green badged contractors who were still trudging into the office from the corporate back forty. They would also call me bad names.

The Perils of Navigating One-way Grocery Aisles

onewayaisles1Went to the supermarket this morning to buy some basic items: milk, OJ, prescription-strength Lysol.    It was one of those supersized supermarkets that also sells stuff you can’t eat but can wear. Never understood that because none of them have try-on rooms. Just grab a chicken, juice and a cute top and pray they both taste good and look tasteful.

But that’s not the point of this post. I’m getting to that, but first I have to walk in the correct direction on this one-way aisle of prose. Yes..that’s the point. The giant, supersized supermarket has one-way aisles to help prevent people from crossing paths and spreading coronavirus. Excellent idea. In theory.

My first experience today involved finding the brand of soda my wife wrote on the list. I noticed the green sticker at the head of the aisle which meant I could enter. I felt like a law-abiding cart pusher. The problem was the workers stocking the shelves were darting about in every direction crossing paths with me several times. At one point I just stopped short before the stocker and her giant cart of soda bottles broke my plane. We were both wearing face masks and gloves, but I was tempted to make a citizen’s arrest of the obvious one-way aisle scofflaw. Are stockers immune? Do they have special dispensation by order of the one-way aisle cop? Seems they’re as likely to transmit and catch coronavirus as a suburban schlep like me. Aside from trying not to die, I don’t want points on my license for shopping the wrong way down a one-way aisle. I’ll actually have to call my insurance agent to add “supermarket aisle directional indemnity” coverage.

This particular supermarket made my task more difficult by separating brands bottled by Coca-Cola and Pepsi by a full aisle. My mission was to buy two bottles each of one brand, bottled by Coke, and two bottles of Pepsi. I was already at the end of the Coke aisle and ready to grab the Pepsi, but I would have had to walk all the way around since the Pepsi aisle was one-way…the other way. Screw it. I parked my cart at the end of the aisle, which is a directional no-man’s land. There was no one in the Pepsi aisle, so I took a chance, feeling oh, so cavalier, and took the few steps the wrong way to grab the two bottles of Pepsi. I’m sure no one saw me, but I’m also sure my misdeed was captured on the security camera. I wonder what the statute of limitations is for such an infraction.

onewayaislesThe rest of the shopping trip went fine as I dutifully obeyed all green and red stickers. A red sticker meant you were at the wrong end of the aisle. DO NOT ENTER! OK, I was a good boy, but I saw two couples absolutely blow through  the red stickers in the french fry aisle much to the horror of the guy traveling in the correct direction having a hard time deciding between spring and egg rolls. As the wrong-way couples passed him, he looked like he might need a ventilator right then and there, just from anxiety.

I do like the idea of one-way aisles to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. They’re really just a minor inconvenience and I’m sure a boon to the burgeoning colored sticky floor arrow industry, which, before this all happened, was pointing towards hard times.