Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

huh

My full time best friend and part-time editor/muse ( Musitor? Edimuse?) made a writing suggestion to me today. It’s interesting having a woman as your best friend, because women remember select things we menfolk said that we weren’t necessarily paying attention to when we were saying them. “Yeah honey, Neo- Feminist Broadway musical “The Mighty Va-Jay” with an all deaf mute gay male cast…got a big write up in the Times? Well now, we’ll just have to get tickets for that.”

Fast forward to the AFC Playoff weekend…

“When did I say I wanted to see this? WHEN? I don’t care, the guys are coming over, I have spent 2 weeks pay on chips and beer, Armando is going to fire up his new grill right here in the living room…OK honey, stop crying, we’ll go….we’ll go…we’ll go, Oh I can wear my lucky Patriots hoody to the musical and were going out for Ethiopian buffet after with the ever-clucking hens from your office? That’s your compromise?. Well just kill me now God. I can die happy”

Women store up this information. Then they bring these things to our attention. They usually do this when they begin to lose an argument and need to switch to a higher caliber ammunition to get the job done. Let this stand as a warning for all men to ignore. They are always listening when we are running our yaps. They are storing up all that nonsense you’re happily spewing forth, and they WILL bring it up again, to be used against you at a most inconvenient time. You heard it here first boys.

“Know what I think you should write about?” The Gow asked me semi-rhetorically. I answered in the negative. “You should write about that time when you were making yourself upset about asking your dad to pick you up from the train station”. I vaguely remember this. Scratch that. I don’t remember it at all. However, the part of the sentence “making yourself upset” I can easily relate to, so maybe that’s why it seemed familiar. Sounds just like me.

I spend a lot of time making myself angry, anxious and upset. This is not so strange or uncommon I suppose. What is a little whackadoo where I am concerned is that I make myself angry, anxious or upset by imagining possibilities of things that have not happened. This is fascinating as I am quite easily one of the most anxious and angry people I know…and I know lots of angry and/or anxious people. Frankly, it is my opinion, that if you’re paying any attention whatsoever, you should be anxious and angry. Yet, despite being A&A, my silly little brain has to cultivate new and even fictitious things to keep me feeling “normal”. This is one of the curses of creative people. Our funny little brains are always on the go, knocking on doors, creating scenarios.

Now as I said, I don’t recall the exact reference that my musitor ;The Gow was speaking of. Apparently one time when I was going to visit the Pater, and I was making myself angry because I had to ask him to pick me up at a train or bus station, and I had expected my father to hem and haw over this, in turn I’d get angry and revisit every childhood trauma in the ensuing argument. I rehearsed in my head what I’d say, and every possible response. I got angrier and angrier at my goddamn selfish asshole of a father, who couldn’t be bothered to pry his ass from the couch and pick up his son who was coming to visit him. God forbid the bastard ever comes to see me. Oh NOOOOOO that would be too difficult. Visiting your son? How absurd, and another thing dad…let me just say for the record, I remember, oh I remember all too well that you were busy watching the Immaculate Reception documentary with your buddies, when I begged you to help me with my spelling homework. You blame ME for quitting school? Yeah, uh maybe think that one over Ward Cleaver…and another thing..

Get the idea?

By the way, according to my archivist, The Gow said my father told me he’d be happy to pick me up from the train station. Not a millisecond’s hesitation.

And there was much rejoicing. Yay.

And there was much rejoicing. Yay.

I think most people imagine and rehearse possible conversations, encounters and confrontations. Doesn’t everyone dream of telling their boss off and making them cry and beg you to stay with a huge raise and an apology?

What is scarier, where I am concerned regarding these inner dialogues that I rehearse all the live long day, is that they don’t always stay up in my head. Often they actually make it south down to my almighty cake hole and I start arguing with myself when I’m alone. Well, “muttering” is perhaps a more accurate description. I’m a big mutterer.. I finally figured out something about myself. I often tell people how important and valuable “my alone time” is to me. Now I know why. I have too many internal arguments that need my immediate attention. It’s important to keep on top of these things or I’ll run the risk of hurting the feelings of one of the little voices in my head. Can’t have that. I wrote about this once before…Well, sort of.

I like to think of myself as entertainingly and creatively insane, but not quite ready to be “taken away”. Although the psychiatric community may disagree with my vast and extensive community college expertise, but I think the difference between entertainingly crazy and need-to-be-taken away crazy, is that I don’t make up different little voices for my many and extensive inner disagreements. Know how I came to this theory? First of all I made it up, and second because Norman Bates did it in Psycho. I have also had the chance to observe that kind of behavior first hand, and it’s both scary and funny.

Years ago many of my friends and I moved out of the parental nests and jam packed ourselves into questionable roommate situations. One such situation involved my friend Colin, this girl I barely knew named Francine, a few dozen couch surfers and McKinley Moore. Professor Moore, as many people called him was more or less a street person and acid casualty from the 1960s. There were quite of few of these creatures bopping around my college town home. McKinley subsidized his income by buying liquor for high school and college kids who weren’t quite 21 years old yet. It may sound odd, but I assure you, there was money to be made doing this in a Massachusetts college town with strict liquor laws.

Regardless, McKinley was an odd duck. Like many street people, he had developed an aversion to bathing, which in turn caused an aversion to our getting within 10 feet of him in the hot, humid Summers. “Yeah McKinley, can you get me a six pack of Heineken and a pint of Jack Daniels. No the money’s over there waiting for you under that brick next to the VW Beetle…No no, don’t come any closer, I have uh poison ivy…Just get the liquor and slide it over to me with a broom stick.”

Bathing is a lonely business

Bathing is a lonely business

So, the eccentric and smelly McKinley lived with Colin, Francine and several others crowded into a two bedroom apartment. Francince’s room was actually a large walk in closet with a tapestry for a door and for privacy. McKinley’s room was next to hers. One evening, Francine tapped on Colin’s door when we were drinking beer and playing cards. She entered looking a little frightened. “McKinley is talking to himself” she said when we asked what was wrong. “Yeah? So?” we answered. This really wasn’t such an odd occurrence given McKinley’s overall behavior and his mannerisms. Francine got impatient and said “He’s having a conversation with himself and people who aren’t there…and he’s doing all these… different little voices for all of them.”

We exploded with laughter.

“It’s not funny you guys.” Francine whined. “I don’t have a door and I don’t want one of his imaginary friends coming in and killing or raping me in my sleep.”
“You’d rather be awake for the sex?” I offered. (An asshole and smart-ass even back then.)
Francine kicked me.
“When did he do this?” asked Colin laughing.
“Right NOW!”
“I gotta hear this.” said Adam who was there that night.

We all crept out of Colin’s room and toward the stairs quietly, or as quietly as tipsy men tend to think they are being and listened to McKinley’s convo. Sure enough, Francine had been telling the truth. McKinley had a funny and distinct voice. It reminded me slightly of the Cheech and Chong black blues-man character “Blind Melon Chitlin”

McKinley’s voice: ” I wonder if I should pop in and ask Francine if she has any….uh…grass.”
McKinley doing a weird high-pitched woman’s voice ” I don’t think she’s in her room.”
McKinley” Uhh are you quite certain?”

We listened to this bizarre conversation for a few more minutes, trying not to crack up. Francine changed rooms the next time someone moved out. Although I have always felt that McKinley was more or less harmless, I think I’d be a little disturbed hearing such conversations also.

So, luckily I am not making up other little voices for my inner dialogues. Not yet anyway.

How Full Of Shit Are You?

Posted: August 24, 2014 by S. Trevor Swenson in General, Life
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
http://quizdoo.com/

Not without several years of training I’m not!

There are these tests on Facebook and probably throughout the internet. “Are you going to Heaven?” or “Are you more street smart or book smart”…They’re silly things that help pass the time, and that we can post in Facebook to look more interesting….as long as we’re not meeting anyone in person.

I got to thinking about some good ideas for tests. Important info for people to know, and important to know about yourself….Not as important as “What True-Blood Character Are You?”, but pertinent info nonetheless.

How about…

How Full Of Shit Are You?” I asked my best friend how full of shit I was tonight and she told me “Average I guess”. I suppose I was hoping for a “Not very” I told her I’m sorry, and I’ll work on it. I appreciate her honesty. This would make her not so full of shit, which is a good thing, and probably an excellent choice to ask these important questions of.

How Annoying Are You?” I don’t think people think they’re very annoying or annoying at all. I can be annoying, but I also think I’m slightly more self aware than the average bear. I’m also one of those who is entertained by annoying others… subtly of course. Tiny torments can amuse me for hours if not days. There are also different types and levels of annoyance.

I find subway "entertainers" very annoying. Feel free to judge.

I find subway “entertainers” very annoying. Feel free to judge.

How about, “Do You Generally Know What You’re Talking About?“. I suppose that could also possibly be filed under the “How Full Of Shit Are You.

I think there are subtle differences. I think I am more ‘full of shit’ than going through life not knowing what I am talking about. I certainly don’t know everything, and I try to be certain when I speak on various subjects. I think my “full of shit” comes into play in(hopefully) a somewhat harmless manner. I make comments or chime in on discussions where I know a little, but I probably make it seem like I know more than I do. I like to talk, and I have a gift for gab. I hope I’m not “full of shit” in an eye-rolling “Oh God Here we go” kind of way. I have worked in bars for several years, and I see this kind of thing often. I see when certain patrons walk in and others mutter to themselves or whomever is next to them. They groan and the whisper comments. I’d hate to be thought of like that. I know everyone doesn’t like me. I know it’s impossible to be liked by everyone ( Or it’s pretty damned difficult)

I have been thinking recently that one of the biggest problems with assholes, is that they not only have no idea that they’re assholes, but they wouldn’t and wont believe others when they tell them. Sorry for all the potty-mouth in this essay…”Full of Shit” and “Assholes”. I’m trying to reel in my swearing, I just feel for the sake and feel of this piece that these are the best words or expressions.

I think it’s important to try to be aware of how full of shit we are. It’s also important to try to keep that in check or improve upon it…ie trying to be less full of shit. I wonder if I were to be followed around with a camera for a full day or week if I would cringe at some of my more full of shit moments. I probably would, but that’s a good thing. One should cringe at such behavior.

I have been writing a great deal of haiku recently. They’re not great, but my friends and family seem to enjoy reading and commenting on them. A couple weeks ago, the middle line of one of my haiku was ‘Try not to be an asshole”. This is sound advice and a good philosophy.

In closing, I’d like to say to those who know me, that I’m sorry if I’m an average level of “full of shit” and I will try to be more aware and address this. Maybe I can improve my batting average, My best friend is a kind person, and she’d never say that I’m average in the full of shit department out of malice. Hell, she wouldn’t hang out with me if it was a major issue I suppose. Like a true best friend, she wants me to be my best, while still loving me for who I am… However, I do think the average person is quite full of shit, and not terribly bright. I know that doesn’t sound very nice, but it’s honestly how I feel…Therefore, I don’t want to be part of that gang. I want my full of shit tank gauge to be pointing closer to “Empty”

Thanks For Reading By the way…I scored more book smart than street smart ( I disagree) and the chances of my going to Heaven are pretty solid. I never took the True Blood quiz.

Those of you who know me and read my nuggets of wit and wisdom on facebook are all too aware that I have little to no patience for oblivious and self important text messagers plodding along on public sidewalks, paying no attention to anyone or anything else and forcing the rest of us to play an involuntary game of Marco Polo or Blindman’s Bluff.  I am also easily annoyed by people who feel the need to inflict their banal cell phone conversations upon the rest of us at a publicly unacceptable volume in places like bars, busses, subways, coffee shops and doctors offices.  You know, the rest of us don’t need to hear your break up. your anger toward your children or significant other…In fact, there is little to nothing that you’re saying on your Samsung life-support system that the rest if us need or want to hear. 
Thanks to my friend Ralph, I have come up with a positive and hopefully effective counter tactic for this behavior. Ralph just turned 90 years old, and I count my accessibility to his wit and wisdom among my many blessings.
So, from now on I shall open up whatever book I am reading at the moment, start to read and plow into whatever texter is hogging the sidewalk without bothering to look up and share with the rest of us.  Upon impact I will look up at them and apologize. “I’m SO very sorry, I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going or what I was doing, and on a busy sidewalk no less.  Will you please forgive me?”
For those inflicting their conversation on the rest of us, I will simply crack open my book and start reading aloud…in an ever so slightly irritating and unacceptable volume.  When they inevitably stop and glare at me, I will again apologize.  “Oh, I’m sorry, you didn’t really want to listen to me rambling on did you?  Sorry, I will bring it down to a volume that doesn’t bother others.”  The only trouble with this is that I have a good voice and great taste in reading material,  so people might actually want me to continue reading them a story.
It’s great to have found a positive and non violent solution to this issue.

God’s Questionable Sense of Humor

Posted: May 24, 2014 by S. Trevor Swenson in General, Life, Me & Mine
God has a funny sense of humor.  Ever had a friend who laughs when you’re getting pissed off about something, or at some small yet entertaining misfortune?  That’s my relationship with Heavy G…The Almighty. 
I left home for the second day in a row, slightly late for work…Only 5-10 minutes, but late nonetheless. Now I am generally a prompt person and prompt people take being on time rather seriously.  I have internal nightmares of my employers discussing my termination for being late 2 days in a row.  For those of you who are kind enough to read my blog regularly a lot of this will seem familiar to you, so please bear with me.
I arrived at Dunkin Donuts as I was running too late for my ever important second cough of cuppy.  Inevitably I got the DD’s staff member with the lazy eye and the severe case of coffee order dyslexia.  The name on her tag is “Minuti”  which in her native India means “Vengeful Goddess of Incompetence”
Me: “Hi.. Small…coffee,  a little milk  and two Splenda” I said clearly, and enunciated the important bits.  I don’t know why I bother.
She looked up at me…or perhaps to the woman to my left given her lazy eye’s direction and got every…single…part…of my coffee order wrong.
“Large coffee, cream and 3 sugars” she told the staff member serving the hot joe.
“N-o-o-o-o” I said emphatically. I repeated my order and afterwards muttered “You know…the same thing I have been ordering from you for over 7 years”
I’ll spare you the 5 minutes of getting my difficult coffee order to resemble what I wanted.  My friend Ruprecht has a theory that they see me approaching daily and perform the Marx Brothers routine on purpose.  At this point I wouldn’t be surprised.
I boarded my train and according to the clock in the car I was 6 minutes late….OK…this is acceptable.
Sure enough Heavy G was conspiring with Mr Murphy, that fun fellow with that funny law.  The station I get off at to work to work is 49th St.  There was an announcement at the station before this that my train would be “Going Express” and “Skipping 49th St station”   OK.  I exited at 57th and waited.  5 minutes later another train pulled into the station and I boarded it.  “This train will be making express stops…the next stop will be Times Sq-42nd St”.  I exited again.   Four more trains…the same thing.  I started to become dubious.
Finally I boarded a train which announced “Next Stop….49th St”   Now we’re cooking with gas.   The doors closed and an announcement came over the intercom…you guessed it….”We will be bypassing 49th street due to signal problems”  Well, now I was committed to a trip to the ninth ring of Hell…42nd St.
I saw as we passed by 49th street station that HUNDREDS of people were awaiting a train to come their way.  It made me wish that there was some kind of …oh I don’t know..some kind of futuristic “tele-phonic” device to “call” the station at 49th street and make an announcement to the commuters waiting there that they might want to make other arrangements.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we had that kind of technology at our disposal?  If only…
I got to Times Sq Station and luckily the MTA ( Metropolitan Transit Authority) was all over this situation with over 50 employees standing around in hard hats and orange vests looking annoyed and doing…bupkis .
Oh God…you silly motherfucker.

Day Off

Posted: May 24, 2014 by S. Trevor Swenson in General, Home, Life, Me & Mine

 

Today was my day off…and it was a good one. One important factor involved in this was that my best friend  ( The World Famous Gow) was in town visitinv  I slept late with my BFF; The Gow and my cat Bella and leisurely drank two cups of coffee while thinking about how to squander the day.  Staring me in the face in my chamber of filth was a pile of laundry that the EPA was stating to take an interest in.  “I need to do fluffy-foldy today,” I told The Gow, and she was game to help me, which is one of the reasons I adore her so much.  The Gow wanted Indian food.  During her visits to NYC I have turned her on to both Thai and Indian cuisine.  For a person who has a low spice tolerance, she is quite the trooper about trying new things. We had a quick huddle and decided to have Indian food ( “and get your own Nan bread…” the Gow informed me prior to ordering) delivered.
I called our local Curry Castle and managed to refrain from doing my Ghandi impression while ordering lunch… Having an unamused restaurant host or waiter blow his nose in my chicken vindaloo isn’t worth the poor-impulse-control-and-slightly-racist chuckle.   I shoved my laundry into two machines.  For once I didn’t overstuff the washers.  Sometimes I jam so many clothes into a washing machine that they came out dry after the wash cycle.  I even separated my whites and colors as Bella decided last week that an expensive white bed-spread was a great place to ralph up a hairball.  Thanks Kitty.
My roommate came home with a Toys R Us bag in tow as I was heading out to throw my wash into the dryer. My eyes lit up immediately and I asked hopefully, ” Didja get me a toy?  Huh?  Huh?  didja?”  She smiled and answered in the negative.  She had bought a toy for her nephew in Brazil when she visits next month. I smiled back muttering “Fuck your nephew you selfish cunt” and stomped off to the laundramat. I wanted a toy goddamnit. Luckily the Indian food arrived after I got home and we had an amazing meal. We’d ordered lamb, lamb, chicken and two nan breads.  One for each of us.  Gow picked up one of the nans and smelled it exclaiming “Whew!!”  “Is that the garlic nan I ordered”  She said “yes” and sure enough it smelled so strong of garlic that I had no doubt there were Counts in Transylvania who were reaching for the air freshener.  The meal was delicious.
After lunch we ran back to the Laundromat and folded everything up neat as a pin.  The Gow was of the opinion that my standard procedure of washing my laundry and dumping it on my bed afterwards is not particularly conducive to a tidy bedroom.  “But, it’s clean” I explained. “Honey, you exhaust me” she replied with a patient sigh for the first of what would surely be hundreds of times during her visit.  I smiled and said “I know”
We fluffed and folded everything while I pointed out various articles from the Scotty Collection and made commentary about which were my favorites. “Like these undies”….”I don’t like these…can’t wait til they wear out”.   Gow smiled and nodded much in the fashion of a parent or guardian indulging the non-stop ramblings of a small child.
After laundry and lunchie came the day off tradition of the afternoon nap….and it was good.

Dumb

“Stupid” is an over and misused word. All too often we throw the word ‘stupid’ around when we actually mean things like ‘oblivious’, ‘lacking in common sense’,’or lacking in manners or propriety’. The word ‘stupid’ can even mean funny and silly in a complimentary manner today in an inner-city vernacular. I had to check in with my friend Miriam Webster to see what the most basic definition of this word is.
Ah, here we are. “Not intelligent” “Not sensible or logical”. So, for simplicity’s sake and the exact circumstances of this piece let’s stick with Mimsy Webster’s definition of stupid.

The other night I was coming home from work, and had decided to duck into my local burger and chicken joint for some health food. I was feeling tired, lazy and not up for cooking. I entered Chicken Lickin’ and placed my order. Next to me at the counter was a middle aged woman trying to decide what she wanted. While I was waiting for my order to be prepared I heard this woman ask what was quite possibly the stupidest question ever. Who ever said “There are no stupid questions” had obviously never encountered this woman. She asked ( and I’m not making this up ) “How many come in the 10 piece?” She-asked-how many-come-in-a-10-piece. I shook my head to clear it and then looked more closely at this woman. She had somehow managed to put her shoes on the correct feet. Maybe someone helped her get dressed.

Now, we all say the occasional stupid thing. We all speak without thinking. Luckily I only seem to do this when trying to impress women, or during important job interviews. So, in fairness, maybe the “How many come in a 10 piece” inquiry was a fluke.

Nope. Her next statements and actions confirmed that she was a member of the room temp IQ club. She asked the nice (and patient) man behind the counter how much the 10 piece was. Oh, and in case you’re wondering; Yes the nice (and patient) man behind the counter answered her previous inquiry (“Um, 10. 10…pieces”). He managed to answer without slapping his forehead or making any sarcastic remarks. I was impressed. To be even more helpful, the counterman pointed up to the huge, illuminated menu and price list above him and less than 6 feet from this woman’s eyes. It should also be noted that every chain restaurant, pizzeria etc has this huge, menu and price list in their establishment…and yet we never seem to be at a loss for inane questions from those who don’t want to or possibly can’t read. Since the chances of her being illiterate were fair, he also vocalized the answer. “$6.99”. She slowly looked up at the menu, her mouth agape and said “Oh…you ummm have all the prices up there.” The man behind the counter nodded that, yes-indeedy all goods and their prices were right in front of the widescreen dimensions of her forehead. However, she had to double down on stupid. Not more than 2 seconds after her verbal confirmation that the prices were listed, she asked “So, how much is a 20 piece?”

Wow.

I grabbed my food and bid a hasty retreat from the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Chicken” Palace.

Unlike my fellow chicken consumer, I found my mind racing. How does a person so stupid survive in the world? How does she get dressed, cross the street, pay her bills or hold down a job, if, she was indeed employed? Who had taught her to speak…and perhaps more importantly, how? Was it a scene like something out of “The Miracle Worker” where Helen Keller finally makes a breakthrough and mental connection with water. Did some wonderful teacher with the patience of a saint have some kind of breakthrough with this women where she began shrieking “TEN PIECE…TENNN PIECE” and embracing the saintly teacher?

Although I don’t make these type of determinations, it seems to me that if she is genuinely this slow then she should probably be eligible for some kind of public assistance or disability. Is there some kind of doctors note that can be taken to a public assistance office ( or perhaps safety-pinned to the person in question ) that states their IQ is too low to telemarket or any other kind of employment? Back in my Western Massachusetts hometown the local supermarkets hire the mentally retarded (or cerebrally challenged, or whatever feel-good euphemistic phrase is en vogue) to bag groceries and retrieve shopping carts. I have mentioned it several times because frankly, I have always been in awe of their work ethic and their attitudes while doing their job. They have become my go-to example in regards to the chronically stupid or lazy. Hell, they have a better attitude than I do when it comes to work and dealing with the general public. Interesting to note that my job is to deal with the general public.

I seriously doubt this woman could get a job much less hold on to one. She might fill out an application in finger paint or crayon. Anything requiring a degree or certification is out. Maybe she could move boxes from Point A to Point B, but she’d need regular supervision or she’d get lost, or forget to put the boxes down. People are fond of saying “Go work at McDonald’s” or they make fast food references to denote an overall lack of skills, drive and intelligence. Yes, it would be a lovely poetic irony if this woman were to work in a chicken or rib joint…but let’s be real here for a moment. How long would it take her to reach into the hot oil to grab a wing? I’m sure the DMV might take her if they had an executive position open. Then there is always congress or the senate. But, she might be over-qualified.

It’s sad and scary that so many people don’t want to or simply wont think. It seems to me with regard to people who can‘t think are at least giving it the old (community) college try.

Furthermore, rather than allowing for natural selection to smarten up the species; we as human beings spend time and money to cater to these people, when really the most natural and perhaps merciful thing to do would be to leave them behind to smarten up or die.

It never ceases to amaze me the many different attitudes that people have regarding nature, having a humane mind set in regards to animals and other people. If someone was watching a nature program on Discovery, PBS, Animal Planet or any other educational show, and there was an animal who got killed and eaten because it was incredibly stupid, we wouldn’t bat an eye. If we were watching with a small child, and said child got upset because the cute little antelope or baby hippo got killed and eaten by the hyenas, lions or some other predator, we’d stop and explain the natural process to the child. “I know honey, it is sad that the cute little deer got killed and eaten…but you see, that deer in particular kept walking into a tree over and over again while trying to go to the river for a drink of water, rather than going around the tree…well that’s nature sweety. That’s how nature or God gets rid of the weak and the stupid, so there is enough food and water for everyone else.”

Years ago, the TV show ‘Seinfeld’ made a famous episode called “The Soup Nazi” which was based on Al Yeganeh’s restaurant “The Soup Kitchen” here in NYC. The episode was a big hit and a cult classic which coined the phrase “No soup for you!!” Jerry Seinfeld, writer-producer Larry David, and David’s former next door neighbor ; Kenny Kramer all experienced Al Yeganeh’s unique manner of dealing with customers who routinely lined up for his delicious soups and chili. Mr. Al would simply expedite the out- the- door- and- around -the- corner lines of people who had come for his soup. If you didn’t know what you wanted, or hadn’t figured it out by reading (gasp) the huge menu overhead while in line, Al would tell you to step aside. If you asked questions that could have been answered by reading the clearly printed and centrally posted menu, he’d frown and point. I never went to the Soup Man “back in the day” as it wasn’t in my neighborhood, and the Seinfeld episode apparently made the place a tourist trap nightmare. It even caused Al to close, sell his name and image to another company, and reopen under a different name years later. I remember there was an article about how he (Al) was upset that Seinfeld and the show had ruined his life and business. Many people had the knee-jerk reaction that Seinfeld and the show had helped him in terms of popularity…but I suspect this isn’t what the soup man had in mind. He was already doing a booming business prior to the episode, and hadn’t been branded a “Nazi” except, perhaps by some customers who don’t like to be told to step aside. My friend Herbie used to go to his place for lunch all the time. “Was he really a Nazi?” I once asked Herbie. “No” Herbie exclaimed rather passionately. “He was right. Who wants to wait in line behind someone who can’t be bothered to read the menu? He just kept the line moving and told people to step aside if they didn’t know what they want”.

This raises an interesting issue. Should it be socially acceptable to be dismissive of those who aren’t paying attention. As it stands now in society, we cannot. That person who has been standing in front of you at Starbucks, blabbing away on their cell phone until finally it’s their turn to order…socially speaking they can hem and haw for 10 or 20 minutes and think about what they want. Yet, it’s painfully obvious to me that they are in the wrong here. They damn well should have made up their mind while waiting in line, and then taken care of their cell phone addiction. Now, some people are considerate. They know they don’t know what they want and let others go ahead of them. It’s the right thing to do. I’d venture to say that most people, if on their cell phone, or who simply don’t know what they want, and the counter person bypassed them to attend to the person behind them who is ready to order, pay, pick up and move along…then that person would get angry with the staff member and think they were being rude. I have even experienced this first hand, so I know of what I speak. I’ve worked many a busy weekend night at a bar or restaurant where it’s 3 deep at the bar. You ask “Can I help you?” The person stands directly in front of the taps and asks what you have on draft. Or they simply don’t know what they want…OR the crème- de la crème of busy bar douchebaggery …they wait for the bartender or server to ask how they can help them, only to turn to 5-20 friends scattered throughout the establishment and ask them what they want. This is when they decided to have a little pow wow.


“You guys want shots?”
“Yeah.”
“No.”
“What kinda shots?”
“I just wanna glass a wine.”
“What kinda wine?
“Are we getting shots?”
“Yeah.”
“No.”

And so on and so on… The person conducting this impromptu survey will become angry if the bartender attempts to serve someone else who has been waiting patiently, has their money out and just wants a bottle of beer.

It also dawns on me that people who go into a McDonald’s, chicken shack, Starbucks or what have you, should have a basic idea of what they want to begin with. You don’t go into a Starbucks hoping they might finally have fish tacos do you?

I understand that people don’t like to be told what to do, or to be told that they’re in the way or holding things up. But sometimes it’s necessary. When I have visited London, my friend Ruprecht had to tell me a couple time to step aside on subway escalators so others could get by me if they wanted or needed to. I think he even pulled me to one side once or twice. I didn’t like it, but it GOT it. I understood.

I suppose the 10 piece queen does provide a small service. She makes others feel more secure in their intelligence. So, she’s got that going for her . . . which is nice.

No One Cares

Posted: January 26, 2014 by S. Trevor Swenson in General, Life, Me & Mine, You & Yours
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Really, no one is listening to The Conversation you're having.

Really, no one is listening to The Conversation you’re having.

We probably wouldn’t worry about what other people think of us if we could know how seldom they do- Olin Miller

A few years ago while I was being tested in college for Attention Deficit Disorder and other learning disabilities, my mother sent me a book with the above quote in it. The book was called The Most Brilliant Thoughts Of All Time ( In two lines or less ) The reason she sent the book was because I think she started to recall my attention level as a child and teen, and the many difficulties it caused she and I. Being a romantic I like to think that she felt a little bad about the years of fights and dramedy that were a result of my inability to focus, pay attention or…Oh there’s my remote control…. Oooooo… a Happy Days marathon…that sounds promising…. That Fonzie is such a card…Now ,where were we?

This quote stuck out as I had been pondering a piece titled “No One Cares”, which coincidentally is remarkably similar to the essay I’m typing up at this very moment. I became inspired to write this as a result of my anger and frustration toward a couple of regulars who drink in the bar where I am employed. When people frustrate us, yet we are unable to confront them for various reasons; (we work with them, we work for them, they are bigger than we are,they’re attractive and might sleep with us, they have a badge and gun, they are elderly, they are small children…the list goes on and on) we often spend a great deal of time thinking about what we’d like to say to them if the dynamic of the situation were somehow different. As a bartender,like anyone who’s job it is to deal with a rude and disrespectful general public, I have to contend with a fair number of assholes regularly. In the interest of building and maintaining customers and keeping my job, I have to find ways to hold my tongue, paste a smile on my face and interact with these people. I must find a way to do so in a reasonably pleasant and professional manner. So, I find myself rehearsing in my mind various cutting remarks that would make them flee from the watering hole in shame, or apologize to me and hand me hundreds or thousands of dollars in retroactive tips, or commit suicide. Keep in mind, I can’t really utter these well rehearsed and justly deserved dressing downs. Chances are it wouldn’t do any good. People don’t change after a stern talking to like in TV shows and movies…regardless of how clever, true and deserving the dressing down might be. Plus, I’d probably get in trouble and possibly lose my job. To put it bluntly and succinctly, we all have to take bites of the shit sandwich that is life.

One of the aforementioned customers is a rather dour man who never tips. Tips are my livelihood, and are therefore extremely important to me. They are yet another reason why I try to refrain from having verbal meltdowns with customers. Adding to the frustration of this customer’s stiffing me daily is his personal and socio-political philosophy, He is a self described Marxist. This is a man who goes on and on ( and on) about the plight of the working man. He obviously fancies himself some kind of working class hero. Now it has been a while since I have read Marx and Engels The Communist Manifesto, but I don’t recall the chapter on gratuities and the running dog capitalist waiters and bartenders who suppress the proletariat and keep them down. Like most tipped workers, I am also taxed on my gratuities…This means if and when I am not tipped, I am essentially paying to serve people drinks.

NoTip

In addition to being stiffed daily by this man as I pour pint after pint of Guinness for him, I resent his slight air of smugness about his never tipping me. It’s almost as if he believes that he is doing something noble and virtuous by screwing me. Furthermore, he probably feels superior to me and more enlightened that I simply can’t grasp his strict policy of not tipping for services rendered. Of course, this is the general attitude of tipped workers whenever they encounter cheap, petty and trifling customers. We have a long memory of who doesn’t tip us.

The particular telling off of this man that I go over and over again in my mind would be to point out that no one, repeat, No one gives a shit about his political theories. No one, repeat No one discusses at great length, or any length for that matter what a working class hero he is. Despite what he may think, No One Cares.

Now these sorts of statements could potentially cut a person to the bone. It also made me realize something . 99% of us have strong perceptions and beliefs that are immensely important..but only to us. Again, No One Cares.

Just like Trotsky-Tipless, I have strong perceptions of myself that are varying degrees of truth, fiction and everything in-between. However, with very few exceptions, No one really gives a damn. Now this is not a pity trip. It’s simple reality. I’m just as guilty of this apathy. Hell, as a former punk rocker, a current New Yorker and lifelong cynic…I’m probably more apathetic than the average bear. If ‘No One Cares” can be said about most people, then I would somehow manage to care less. It’s a warped point of pride with me. Probably similar to the point of pride I imagine Mr Persona- Non- Gratuity has about being a cheap bastard.

Perhaps this inane little observation goes much further than I ever could have imagined. Maybe, just maybe it’s a huge part in the very meaning of life. Is it possible that getting others to care about us or issues is the key to happiness, health, wealth and self actualization? It is also interesting to note that even people who are deemed interesting or important to care about by the media often fall victim to the curse of “No One Cares”. Isn’t it safe to say that many of us roll our eyes at the daily and hourly reportings on Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Professional Athletes, The Kardasians and their ilk? And what is our first and most primal reaction to them? That’s right. “Who Cares?”

Just eat your food. There is no need to Instagram it first.

Just eat your food. There is no need to Instagram it first.

Other people’s favorite hobby seems to involve a shift in focus from “No One Cares” to a “You shouldn’t care about that, but rather focus on this”. Often these people are well meaning and trying to garner interest and awareness in worthy causes…. or perhaps more accurately, causes they feel strongly about. We’ve all met these people. You’ll be cheerfully discussing something or someone, and they will tut tut and inform you of something infinitely more important.

In my refraining from going off on the working class zero who never tips me, I have started to focus on things that are important to or about me that fall securely into the “No One Cares” file. I’m a writer, or at least that’s what I tell women I’m trying to impress. The fact of the matter is that. A: I have never been published. B: I have a blog that approximately 4 people read with any regularity and C: Being a writer isn’t all that impressive, unique or interesting. You can’t swing a dead wino in NYC and not hit someone who thinks they’re a writer. So, just as my never-tipping regular feels that he is somehow a noble and fascinating warrior of the proletariat…nobody gives a shit about my literary observations of cell phone etiquette or how people who try to get 12 items through a 10 items or less line at the supermarket should be tried and executed for crimes against humanity.

“No One Cares” for all it’s apathy can be a very powerful thing. People take medications and go to therapy because of “No One Cares”. People go on shooting rampages, and even commit or attempt suicide because of those three, single syllable words. What is a major cause of suicide? The very perception that no one cares. There are even “Cry for help” suicides which is the tragic, yet desperate attempt to get others to give a flying fuck, if only for a little while.

Technology has been driven by “No One Cares” predating recorded history. I’d be willing to bet that it took all of 30 seconds for some Neanderthal hipster to roll their eyes and say “Whatev’s” after a fellow caveman drew some stick men and stick animals in the Lascaux caves in France. Haters gonna hate.

Twitter. The ultimate (currently) in “Pay Attention To Me” narcissism. But can’t we safely say that 99.7% of tweets fall under that “Who cares” category. I know on a very personal level that I only pay attention to ” I plan to have sex with Scott Swenson” tweets from Dolly Parton. Interestingly, while researching Ms Dolly’s twitter account for this piece I found out thatshe had a fender bender on Oct 21st of last year, she was fine and was resting comfortably at home when she tweeted this. I’m guessing she was spared serious injury by “airbags” Nyuk Nyuk.

The genius or geniuses who created Twitter were very aware of human nature and how so many of us are under the misconception that we have something of note to say that the rest of the world gives a damn about.

nobody-cares

Twitter was invented because so many are think others care about what we’re thinking or doing… unaware of how few really give a damn. I don’t tweet. I’m not part of the Twitterverse ( even that term makes me want to vomit), but I can safely say that if I was, there are very few bits of info from others that I’d stop and pay attention to….alien abduction, Armageddon and the aforementioned Ms Parton wanting a booty call from yours truly.

So, although I am fairly certain that very few people care about what I say, even fewer care about what I write, and no one cares about what I think…I just want to say, that the world would be a much better place if we’d put a little more effort into caring…and we can start by caring more about MY writing, getting my contact info to Dolly Parton and leaving me better tips.

Editors Note: Oops, I thought I had posted this piece a while back. Umm . . . better late than never?

Looks like fun, huh?

Looks like fun, huh?

It’s probably best to start this rant with a little background into my thoughts on the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) as well as my struggles with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which the MTA routinely exacerbates to the best of their ability. For those of you who don’t know what Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Panic Disorder is, perhaps I should explain, or try to. For over 20 years I have been suffering from bouts of crippling panic and fear which can strike out of the blue or when I become agitated and stressed. I have often tried to describe it to people who have never had one of these episodes, but I’ve always been at a loss. I feel dizzy, terrified, and short of breath. I have thoughts of losing my mind and/or dying flying through my brain. I tremble and hyperventilate and get tremendously entertaining twitches and spasms, which the ladies really seem to dig. I imagine that I probably look like someone who has smoked a little too much crack and skipped a hearty breakfast. Being aware of how I must look makes things worse and on occasion people have asked me if I am alright. More often however, they give me a strange look and move slowly away from me.

To this point I have combated my anxiety and panic attacks with lifestyle changes like exercise, cutting back on alcohol and caffeine and the like. What vexes me most are people’s attitudes in regards to panic attacks, which is generally summed up in three words “Get over it.” Get over it hmmm? Gee, Professor Freud, I never thought of that. You’re a genius…wow years of therapy and paralyzing fear wasted when all this time I just needed to ‘get over it’. Oh, thank you SO very much for imparting your wisdom upon me!

What other pearls do you have to share?

What other pearls do you have to share?

I was diagnosed years ago with “Anticipatory Anxiety” which means my silly little brain works against me to a certain degree. If I have an impending unpleasant errand (and taking the subway is always unpleasant) I will think and worry about it to the point where I give myself panic attacks when the time comes for whatever mundane but stressful little mission I have to complete.

Panic Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder are two separate conditions within the Nervous Nelly spectrum. Panic Disorder means suffering from panic/anxiety attacks. GAD means being a worrier. I worry about everything. Add to this my creative side and I can find some really elaborate and frankly ridiculous things to waste my time worrying about. I dread when I have a message on my call waiting, because it most certainly will be bad news. Or maybe I’m not having a panic attack after all…maybe I am having a severe allergic reaction to the multi vitamin that I took last night which probably expired years ago and developed a deadly mold spore and…well, you get the idea.

My life in the fast lane

My life in the fast lane

The MTA/subway is a veritable candy store of stressors and anxiety enhancers. I have to take my hat off to them for creating the most stressful and unpleasant mode of transportation possible in a modern American city. When things aren’t stressful enough, the MTA and its staff step up their game by screaming at the passengers through a perpetually broken intercom system and selling ad space to be filled by the most disturbing advertisements humanly possible, prominently displayed to the temporarily captive rider.

Today I hopped on the N train. To combat the stress of the subway and hopefully avoid a complete panic breakdown, I try to bring things along with me that will have a calming effect. I used to bring a Sam Cooke CD everywhere as I found his voice and songs rather soothing. I also like to suck on Halls honey-lemon cough drops. More recently I have been bringing “The Path To Tranquility” by the Dalai Lama to read. It’s a great book and it has a calming effect on me while reminding me of how karmically bankrupt I am. Two birds with one stone, I like efficiency.

Looking up from the DL’s book I saw the words “AIDS” and “Anal Cancer” in big, bright red letters. Upon closer investigation I saw it was a condom ad placed by the city’s health department and Mayor KillJoy. The ad was explaining that even with the new antiviral medications available today you still run an extremely high risk of anal cancer if you become infected with AIDS. To further demonstrate this, there was a photo of a nervous looking young man and a fucking x-ray of anal cancer. What’s the matter? The city’s health department couldn’t find a photo of some poor bastard lying on his stomach in an operating room with a black and bloody grapefruit sized tumor sticking out of his emergency exit?

It dawned on me that the city posts all kinds of unpleasant ads in subway cars. A recent anti-obesity campaign shows cans of soda, iced teas and other sugared beverages covered in what looks like fat and blood removed via liposuction. Effective, disgusting and a stellar anxiety trigger. Well done MTA and a nice assist from the City of New York and its billionaire, disapproving daddy-pants Mayor.

Charming

Charming

Recently, after having a serious budget deficit, the MTA raised fares and cut services. They hire the best and brightest to run the system and pay these men and women 6 figures and incredible benefits, and the best they can seem to do is regularly cut services and raise fares. I would think that the ad space on the subways and buses would be a source of income. Sounds like a smart move until I saw the MTA advertising themselves. Last time I checked there is no competition. There is only the MTA and no private sector subways and buses. They’re out of money, don’t need to advertise, and yet spend a fortune on print ads for themselves. My favorite ad was touting how hard the MTA is working on improving things. They had a photo of four workers welding a bit of track. Having seen the corrupt union members and “workers” employed by the MTA, I knew instantly that the MTA had hired models for the ad campaign as there is a painfully obvious union regulation which strictly prohibits 4 people from working at the same time. More money wasted…

Other ads on the subway include…

Impotence; A doctor’s ad showing a frustrated and frankly disgusted looking woman and a sad looking guy in bed looking sheepishly for the TV remote.

Anti-Drinking; Depicting an obviously hung-over and disheveled woman who had too many cosmos and ended up sleeping with the nightclubs coat check guy and bouncer. Or, a drunk driver languishing in prison.

Battered women, homeless people, and my favorite ad by Dr. Zizmor; who is a dermatologist with before and after drawings of his successful treatments. In keeping with the MTA’s disturbing ad campaign I think that Dr. Z (as he calls himself…I don’t trust doctors that advertise in subways or use their first initial after “Dr.”) should make his next add using heavily photo shopped pictures of cystic acne, warts, and other sexy skin disorders.

I feel that as a tax payer and commuter that my money would be better spent on some cheerful subway imagery. I want pictures of puppies and unicorns on my anti homeless ads. How about a Cookie Monster condom ad? I’ll even write a catchy slogan “C is also for Condom so we don’t get Cancer near our Colon”
Would it really be so expensive to play some nice classical music on the trains…or some Motown?

I am going to send this off to the mayor and the MTA to be ignored immediately.

Oxy . . . Moron

Oxy . . . Moron

Cell Phone Etiquette is an oxymoron, much like “Plastic Glass”, “Military Intelligence” or “Compassionate Conservative”. Most behavior having to do with cell phones has an appalling lack of etiquette. In fact, by design cell phones and their use is often downright rude. Poor cell phone behavior is among my favorite gripes…it’s right up there with Reality TV and perhaps a step below my all time favorite vitriolic target; the NYC Subway system and it’s governing body the MTA. Interestingly enough it was a recent ride on the subway that inspired me for this piece.

EPR (Excessive Public Repetition)
I was riding the train seated next to a young man was committing this gross and willful cell phone crime. We’ve all been within earshot of these people. This is when a person on their cell says variations of the same statement over and over again, until it takes every fiber of your being to keep from ripping the cell phone from their hand and screaming the information that everyone within ear shot has tired of, yet for some reason the person on the other end of that call hasn’t quite digested yet.

“Yeah, I called her and axed her to come.”
“No, I called her.”
“….and axed her to come..”
“Huh?”
“No, I axed her.”
“She said no, but I axed her.”
“Yeah, axed her to come…”
“No, no, no…I called her, huh? No I called her…”
“I called her.”
“I called her and…..”
“RIGHT, I called her and axed her to come.”
“What??”
“No… I axed her to come…yeah, when I called her.”

Annoyed yet? Yes, I was too, but he wasn’t finished.

“I axed her when I called…”
“No, when I called…yeah, I axed her then.”
“Well, I did axe her”

After 20 more minutes of this I found myself wishing that someone would axe him… in his forehead or kneecap. Judging by this man’s behavior, he would have just kept talking, and repeating himself.

“I just got axed…in the forehead.”
“No, some dude on the subway…axed me.”
“Yeah…in the forehead…No he axed me…”
“No…in the forehead…with an axe..”
“Listen, I’m-a have to call you back, we goin’ underground.”
The train descends into a tunnel to thunderous applause from the other passengers in the Rain Man’s subway car.

"Oh, enough about me. Let's talk about you. What do you think of me?"

“Oh, enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?”

Me-Monkeys
The second variety of cell phone criminals are the “Me-Monkeys.” We’re all familiar with this type too. The banality of their conversation supersedes everyone and everything else. They either flat out refuse to put their cell phone down long enough to interact like a human being and especially with a human being. I usually encounter Me-Monkeys while waiting in line for things.

It’s interesting that I chose to use an exchange at Starbucks as an example, as I kind of loathe Starbucks and the many nuances involved with them (Starbucks across the street from another Starbucks, their manipulation of the simple sizes of small medium and large, but that’s fodder for another rant. Starby’s is good as it seems to be a homing beacon and natural habitat for the Lesser North American Me-Monkey…come to think of it, it’s kind of their mating ground as well.)

Nice Starbucks Employee: “Hello, what can I get for you today?”
Me-Monkey: “So, I told Dylan that I might be late picking him up from his play date this afternoon….”
Nice Starbucks Employee: “Miss…?”
Me-Monkey: “I have an appointment for a manicure at 3….”
Customer Behind Me-Monkey: (Clears throat loudly)
Nice Starbucks Employee: “Miss?”
Me-Monkey: “….No, just a manicure, I don’t have time for a pedicure…”
In the same sentence she barks at the nice barista “Grande-latte.”, turns her back on the peon in the green apron and resumes without skipping a beat. “Sorry, I’m at Starbucks…Yeah I know, but I’m stressed and it always calms me down…”
Notice, she didn’t apologize to the nice lady taking her coffee order.

We all know how this proceeds. She is blabbing away about the world’s least significant minutia until her latte is made. She will continue to ramble on, slipping in a “How Much?” mid-sentence, because looking at the total lit up on the register or the price on the wall, or even (gasp) having a $5 bill at the ready would cut into her precious cellphone time. She prattles on in the cab ride to the nail salon, never deigning to interact with the driver, she spews on and on throughout her manicure, and in all likelihood the cell phone doesn’t leave the side of her pretty little head after picking up her son from his play date. It wouldn’t surprise me if she was on the phone while Dylan was being conceived…and delivered.

mobilephone_mocking

It’s a pity that those who provide services to the Me-Monkeys have to adhere to strict rules of etiquette and service decorum or there are consequences…while the Me-Monkey gets served, placated and even thanked. I say if someone is droning on when it’s their turn to be waited on, then they should be skipped and the person in line behind them should be waited on first. The service provider’s only comfort is perhaps a conspiratorial eye roll from the customer behind the Me-Monkey. I always try to make eye contact and share an eye roll. I’m considerate and thoughtful like that. As manners fall more and more by the wayside it has frankly amazed me that it hasn’t become socially acceptable to give the Me-Monkey a taste of their own medicine.

Me-Monkey ( Finally ready to order ): ” I’ll have the half caff latte and…”
Starbucks Employee’s phone begins to ring.
For the sake of irony her ring tone is “She Works Hard For The Money” by Donna Summer.
She raises a finger to the Me-Monkey and turns her back on them.
“Hey…oh nothing I’m at work… the usual rude and clueless idiots…yeah it sucks….”

I’ll get to the dreaded finger raise later.

TMI

TMI & TDL (Too Much Information & Too Damn Loud)
As a writer, I try to study and examine human behavior, human nature, the human condition, nuance, reactions etc…but I assure you, I do this strictly for purposes of ridicule. For example, I have often felt there is a very real market for a computer that responds to being hit or cursed at. Wouldn’t that be great? A nice solid overhand right to your computer screen and a low growl of “Stupid Fucking Thing!!” instead of restarting when things freeze up? Similarly, I think for the benefit of the general public, cell phones should automatically shut off when a person is speaking to loudly into them.

“PUT YOUR BROTHER ON THE PHONE!!!”
“I SAID PUT YOUR BROTHER ON THE PHONE, NOW!!!!”
“Hello? HELLO?…Dammit…”
Redialing angrily…
“PUT YOUR…Put your brother on the phone please.”

Nobody likes things inflicted upon them…ugly sights, smells and especially sounds. I’m a big fan of “You wanna step outside?” preceding a bar room brawl, it’s a courtesy to those around you and shows real courage. When you ask someone to step outside, what you’re really saying is; “Oh I’m going to stomp the ever-loving shit out of you…but there is no reason to spill an innocent bystander’s beer or break the furniture in this establishment…besides, if we step outside, there is much less a chance of your beating being broken up prematurely by bouncers or good Samaritans.” It’s a simple courtesy and it shows good manners and a basic concern for those around you…except for that person you’re dying to hit the second they step outside, of course.

Shout

Sure, sometimes we are angry and we need a little volume to get our point across, just remember you aren’t at home. You’re in public and that space belongs to all of us (Except for us smokers who have become social pariahs and criminals.) Which leads me to an interesting point. If a person lights up a cigarette pretty much anywhere these days everyone will fall all over themselves to tell them to extinguish it immediately. Yet, if a person is in public talking on their cell in an inappropriately loud voice, or even screaming…it becomes an awkward social situation. Sure, maybe people turn and scowl at the offending party, and if it goes on too long or gets too loud, the staff or management might have a discreet word. Those whose cellphone conversation volume rivals that of having the seats in front of the speakers at a Metalica concert really need to be spoken to about propriety. Propriety is something that has simply flown out the window in regards to cellphone use.

That brings us to the TMI portion. While speaking to my best friend earlier this evening I mentioned this and she told me she has overheard STD diagnosis’ via cellphones. Really? Jesus, I’d have trouble talking to my doctor about this in his office, never mind everyone at Arby’s or on the A Train. Sadly, I have never overheard “Herpes”, “Chlamydia” or “Burning Sensation” in a cell phone convo. I’d probably wink at them. On a side note “Chlamydia” has always sounded like a name for a perfume or cologne. I can just see the commercial. Giselle Bundchen sniffing Tom Brady’s bare chest on a Costa Rican beach at sunset…saxophone music plays in the background. She looks up at Tom and asks “Chlamydia?” Tom winks and nods. The ad closes with a deep voiced announcer…”Chlamydia from the Calvin Klein Intimate Collection”

too-much-information

Just because I haven’t overheard STD references..actually let me pause there, I keep using the word “Overheard”. Yet in the case of TMI/TDL cellphone convos, perhaps it is inaccurate…I’ll have to come up with a brand new term for these specific circumstances…a cell-infliction, or an ear-shove, ear-cram. cell-slam. I have come across break ups, drug deals, infidelity, and more. A little discretion, huh people? As much as it can amuse bastards like me, does the 8 year old at the next table in the restaurant really need to listen to; “Well, why don’t you just move in with that fat-ass bitch and let her suck your tiny, funky smelling dick?” It’s nice that we have a means of communication while we’re out and about…it doesn’t mean every little thing needs to be communicated immediately and publicly. Take 30 seconds, walk outside and around a corner to discuss your genital warts or tell your dad about your impending sexual reassignment surgery.

yip yips

Ring Tone Douchebaggery
Yes it’s nice to personalize things. My best friend personalized her ring tone when I call to the Yip Yip Martians from Sesame Street and their encounter with a telephone. The Martians would routinely encounter inanimate objects and assume that they were unfriendly citizens of Earth. In one vignette they encountered a telephone and tried to open a dialogue with it. The phone remained silent for a bit and the Martians seemed to be discouraged and slighted when suddenly the phone rings. Initially the Martians were afraid and pulled their mouths over their heads in an attempt to hide, something that has always just killed me. After a couple rings the Martians get over their initial fright and start talking back to the ringing phone. “Br-r-r-r-r-r-r–r-r-r-r–ING. Phooooone…Phoooone Br-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-rING” That “Br-r-r-r-r-r-r-rING” is her ringtone for me, and she delights when I call while she is having lunch with co-workers.

So, I get it. Ring tones are cute and all, but like in so many areas in life, people take things too far. For months I was bombarded on a daily basis by the least talented man in music Jay Z and his annoying “Empire State of Mind” chorus as everyone and their mother used it as their ring tone. I literally couldn’t go 30 seconds without hearing an outburst of “In Newwwwww Yoooooork..” If you hate a song to begin with, having it become a popular ring tone turns into a special kind of hell that should be reserved for the Hitlers and Jeffrey Dahmers of the world.

There also seems to be a direct correlation between how annoying a ring tone is and how long it takes the person to answer their phones. I fly into unbelievable rages when people do this. “Hey, P. Diddy, answer the phone huh? The rest of us don’t need to hear the 16 minute extended remix of NYC’s most over played song.” Whether it’s a cellphone or a land line, there is something maddening about a phone ringing and not being answered.

Texter

Textus Obliviatus (The Oblivious Texter)
If Darwin was right, it should be interesting to see how we will evolve physically after a few generations of text messaging. I have a theory of my own based on eye witness accounts and drawings of aliens who regularly come down to Earth for some redneck speed-dating, that these were once human beings. After a few generations of rampant and excessive cell phone use they developed long thin fingers for quick texting, large eyes located on the sides of their large heads so they can walk and text and avoid colliding with others on their planet. This is sadly a skill that we homo sapiens haven’t quite adapted to…yet

I find myself frequently playing an involuntary game or Blind Man’s Bluff or Marco Polo on the sidewalks of NYC. I pay attention to where I am going as I plod along, scowling and mumbling to myself. I can’t make it one full city block without having to side step to avoid some dink texting “Where U @” or “B Rite thr” to another moron causing head-on collisions elsewhere. Once while at school a girl plowed directly into me while texting despite my attempts to step out of her way. She bashed right into me, didn’t look up, didn’t say “excuse me” and kept right on texting and walking. I stopped and stared after her with my mouth agape in disbelief for a couple minutes. It was one of those moments of such incredibly bad behavior that I was literally stunned and speechless. (and speechless has never come easily to me) I wanted to yell something after her, but I had a sneaking suspicion that she was equally oblivious in the auditory sense. I found myself wishing she had been a guy so I could physically confront her/him (Unless of course they were over 6”4 with a gang tattoo on their neck, in which case live and let live, I always say.)

These people need to be confronted as their behavior is not only annoying and rude as hell, but is also potentially dangerous. These confrontations need to be of a physical nature too, because they are far too enthralled typing “NM U?” to hear someone yell “Hey watch it!!” They require a heavy tap on their shoulder and to be spoken to like a very stupid and poorly behaved young child. “Hey…I know seeing the picture of the kitten in the Yankees hat your friend posted on Facebook is a dire emergency, but maybe you could look up every 20 minutes or so?” Then punctuate this with a smack or slapping their Nokia or Samsung life support system to the ground and stepping on it with a satisfying crunch. (Unless of course they are 6”4 with a gang tattoo on their neck)

This leads us to our final cellphone asshat

So glad we decided to meet for lunch. No, really.

So glad we decided to meet for lunch. No, really.

Love The One You’re With & Giving People The Finger
I have worked for years as a bartender, waiter and bar manager. These positions have allowed me to observe many facets of human behavior, which is priceless for an aspiring writer. One thing I have noticed is that many people seem to need to be in constant communication with everyone at every second, with the possible exception of the people who they are physically with at present. It fascinates me to see 2 or 3 sets of couples getting together for dinner or drinks. I overhear them saying things like “I haven’t seen you in ages!” and things along those lines. Yet, almost immediately after the greetings and initial pleasantries they all whip out their phones and begin checking messages, sending texts and making calls. These friends, co-workers, and family members you haven’t seen in ages..they are right there…in front of you, you made an effort to be in their company…and yet, they seem to be the last person you’re interested in communicating with.

When asked about their evening, these folks would probably talk about where they ate, what they drank, who they were with…but really these things have become incidental. What they really did on Friday night was to answer messages, send texts, check their Facebook status and their friend’s Facebook status. Wouldn’t it be hilarious for people having dinner together to be communicating on Facebook via their cells rather than actually speaking to each other? It may sound silly, but it’s really not so far fetched.

I have promised myself that the next date I go on where the woman feels a need to spend more time on her cell phone then asking me where I went to high school and if I prefer the Beatles or Stones…I will quietly rise from the table, excuse myself, take our server aside and ask to have two lobsters, two filet mignons and two creme brules prepared to go, and that my date will get the check…oh and by they way, she’d like a bottle of your finest champagne delivered to our table in 20 minutes…Then I will pick up my food and go home to enjoy it in the much more attentive company of my cats.

Finger

Finally, I want to close with giving people the finger. No, not my favorite finger, that long one in the middle. Although the finger I am writing of and it’s use have slightly similar meanings. I am speaking of the finger people put up when they are in the middle of a face to face conversation with you and their life support system starts to ring, quack or sing “New York State of Mind…” They give precedence to the person calling rather than the one who is front and center. I think the next time someone I am engaged in a conversation with answers their phone, I will respond with a finger gesture of my own.

The human race survived and even flourished without cell phones for a very long time. People got messages, no one died, guys hooked up with girls, ambulances made it on time to save the patient. Cell phones are very convenient, but so are cars, televisions and scores of other inventions, and in closing I just wanted to state emphatically…oh sorry, I need to take this call.

Job Hunt Mach 2

Posted: January 26, 2013 by S. Trevor Swenson in Life, Me & Mine
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
I am the 81st down from the right

I am the 81st down from the right

Like millions of my fellow Americans, I am out of work…again. A few years ago my employer of 17 years and I engaged in an F Bomb exchange which excused me from the ranks of the employed for a couple years. Do I regret our four letter word rock opera? Yes and no, but it is spilled milk now. I felt slightly vindicated when I put an “I Hate Pigs” bumper sticker on his BMW to celebrate my one year anniversary away from the job. I actually ran into him during the holidays this year. We shook hands and were cordial to one another.

I have landed 3 jobs since then. One where the owner took an instant and intense dislike to me. Not much one can do about that. (I once asked my former employer “What the Fuck is your problem with me?’, and we know how that worked out.) The general manager hired me and on my first night of training I was introduced to the owner. I extended my hand to him and he gave me a look of utter and complete disgust. I was actually impressed as I have been working on that look for over 20 years. Well played, Sir! It was a facial expression reserved for finding a hair in your food and it was depressing. I thought I was finally turning the corner, only to have a job dangled in front of me and ripped away after 4 hours. I felt a little better after noticing that this place has a “Help Wanted” sign in their window every week. It seems the owner takes an instant and intense dislike to lots of applicants. Finally! It’s not me, it’s you.

"Oh, darling, I simply must have a Sazerac. Do be a lamb and fetch me one."

“Oh, darling, I simply must have a Sazerac.
Do be a lamb and fetch me one.”

The second job was at a posh and stuffy four star restaurant. I’m not posh or stuffy. (I’m…puffy.) They wear white dinner jackets. I’m more of a leather jacket kind of guy. I lasted 3 whole weeks on the job. It wasn’t for me, and I wasn’t for them. I’m accustomed to fast, turn and burn bar tending. This place demanded that each drink take half an hour to lovingly construct. The drinks were excellent and the man who designed them is world renowned. I just wasn’t the right man for a place that wanted a 28.5 millimeter lemon twist to rim the glass 6 and 1/2 times counter clockwise, while whistling Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers, and precisely measuring 16 ingredients to craft a gin and tonic. I’ve checked the want ads; this place is always looking for staff as well. So, I got that going for me . . . which is useless.

Finally, I landed a job at an Irish pub in my neighborhood. I really liked my job. I liked my co-workers, I liked my bosses, I liked the customers, and those who I didn’t care for so much provided me with some fantastic material for my writing and comedy. It was never extremely busy, but I was working again, making money and going to school… what I like to call “having some semblance of a life” I was doing well and considered myself lucky.

I was at this job for a year…almost exactly a year. I spent the slow summer months anxiously awaiting the lucrative football season in Fall. As luck (or lack thereof) would have it, during the first football game of the season, while traversing three little steps in the pub, I felt a sickening pop above the heel of my left foot. Apparently the warranty on my Achilles tendon had just expired. I would be in a cast for the next 3 months. With the exception of McLimpy’s Tavern on E 14th St, no one was hiring staff members in casts so I spent that time catching up on “PARQUE ALEGRIA” my favorite Spanish language soap opera, applying fat from various comfort foods to my thighs, butt and stomach, and fighting my very own version of the Hundred Years War with the New York State Workers Compensation Board and my employer’s insurance company; Apathy Mutual of Hoboken. “We Truly Pretend to Care”

After I recovered, I discovered that my job was not waiting for my triumphant return. My boss told me to bring a note from a doctor and then promptly stopped returning my phone calls and had always “just stepped out” whenever I stepped in. My (former?) co-workers greeted me with a slightly embarrassed humble-mumble-chumbles. People don’t get fired anymore…they become more of an Orwellian “un-person” or more accurately an unemployed person. New York is an “employment at will” state, meaning a company will fire you if so inclined. And it seemed my boss was SO inclined.

It was back to the job hunt for the boy.

"Hi, my name is...."  "YOU'RE HIRED!!!"

“Hi, my name is….” “YOU’RE HIRED!!!”

Had I learned anything during my first crack at being a man of leisure? Yes. I learned that the job market sucks, that many bar owners prefer breasts to experience, I learned that I had gotten spoiled having the same job for 17 years. However, I am a firm believer that we cultivate a great deal of our own luck. The more I am out there, the better my chances of experiencing some good timing or luck. I am also glad that it is winter. The cold weather has added to my motivation in terms of not having to relocate from my apartment to a refrigerator box with a breakfast nook out by where the buses don’t run. Plus, I don’t show up to open calls and interviews drenched in sweat. It’s a bummer to call and thank someone for an interview and have them say “Oh yeah, you’re that sweaty guy, I remember you, Uh, we’ll let you know” I can just imagine some manager writing “Too sweaty” on my soggy resume. Yuck.

Sometimes I go out and just drop resumes off in various neighborhoods with good street traffic and lots of bars and restaurants. I shower, shave and. dress to resemble a responsible and productive member of society. I zip into places and ask “Hi, is there a manager I could possibly drop my resume off with?” Some people are nice. They take my resume, smile and wish me luck. Others are just overtly unpleasant. Last week a haughty Maître’s D sneered ‘”You can leave it” (meaning my resume),” as if it took every fiber of his being to not follow this with “But really, we shant be calling you back.” Lots of hostesses have an utterly charming, smelling-a-fart facial expression when I swing by to drop off a resume and speak to the (never present) manager. Aren’t these women hired to be the “face” of the venue? When did friendliness and basic politeness leave this job description? Should a hostess act as a deterrent? “Sorry to interrupt your texting Ms. Evangelista, I know it’s a lot to ask, but would you be a dove and take my resume, lie about passing it along to the manager and maybe even smile? Judging by your demeanor, you’d think I shambled in here bleeding profusely from both ears and barking in an inappropriately loud voice “Hey toots, where’s the crapper in this joint?”

"Before you hand me your resume, allow me to fetch my rubber gloves and tongs."

“Before you hand me your resume, allow me to fetch my rubber gloves and tongs.”

This time around I seem to be getting more call backs and interviews, which is encouraging. The first time around I could literally go weeks without hearing back from anyone. Of course, I have been to 3 interviews in 2 weeks where the interviewers were incredibly rude and cold. This makes no sense to me. I can understand seeing someone for the first time and deciding that this isn’t the person you had in mind for the job. As much as we like to deny it, we do judge books by their covers, but it’s a good business strategy to paste a smile on one’s face, shake hands, ask a couple questions and muster a friendly “Thanks, We’ll let you know.” Really, the entire industry is based on acting pleasant and nice to people, and especially being able to fake it. Plus, it would be too easy for someone less well-adjusted than I to take offense and call the Heath Department or leave a review on sites like Yelp or Urban Spoon with fictitious tales of rat droppings in the ceviche, food poisoning or rude staff. Plus, you called me. I am merely showing up to an interview that you requested, Smiley.

I step into some places and immediately realize that I stand no chance whatsoever of working there. Lots of Irish pubs only hire illegal Irish aliens, I’ve tried to fake an accent, but I always blow it by humming “Danny Boy” and making some ridiculous reference to Irish Spring soap or Lucky Charms cereal. Other places have nothing but Charlie’s Angel’s rejects struggling with the intricacies of a vodka and tonic. I’m not young and fabulous, so I don’t even bother with chic lounges or trendy nightclubs. I make it a point not to go to places that wont let me in.

The NYC service industry is a unique microcosm. Many places want head shots, bi-lingual a plus and all kinds of other criteria. “A strong background in Northern Italian wines preferred” (For McGinty’s Pub?) This becomes a slippery slope. I think people expect us to embellish, exaggerate and..OK….OK, lie on our resumes and during interviews, but one can’t go too far with this. We’d be found out day one, embarrassed and fired….and being unemployed is embarrassing enough. There was a coffee shop in Union Square that only hired Brazilian models. Another place designed as a honky-tonk that only hired models with a special cocktail dyslexia. “I’ll have a Red Stripe please.” 25 minutes later she would produce a glass of red wine. If you decided to stay and try for a second round, she’d bring Johnny Walker Red. These are the people who are getting the jobs. Yeah, life’s fair.

Maybe I should apply

Maybe I should apply

Years ago I went into a bar in the Village to use of their bathroom. Since there is an unwritten law that people are not allowed to use restrooms without a purchase, I bought a glass of wine that I really didn’t want. It was officially a gay bar (Something cleverly named The Dude Ranch), but in neighborhoods like the East Village, the lines between gay and straight became blurred. People went were they liked the music or the prices. The bartender that day was a swishy, middle aged gay man who was balding with a pot belly. His appearance was decidedly un-fabulous. Still, as I drank my wine and he held court with the handful of customers who were there, I quickly realized he was really funny, engaging and warm. I ended up staying for two more glasses of wine because I had nowhere to be, and we were all having a good time. It dawned on me that this terrific bartender wouldn’t stand a chance of getting a job at 99% of the gay bars in the city. They’d laugh at him and make bitter, queeny jokes about his weight or appearance the second he walked out the door. Then they’d promptly hire the Chelsoid gym rat with no personality, no experience, but who had stapled a beautifully photo-shopped and shirtless photograph of his fabulous self to his misspelled resume.

My point is that the resume my mommy thinks is “Very nice honey” with legitimate experience and references can matter very little. There are many places that are always hiring. They only want the beautiful people working for them. In this economy, the owner of the corner gin mill gets to act like Steve Rubell from Studio 54. I have worked with some very good looking people, and some of them were crackerjack staff members. Yet, sadly it is all too common to find a pretty, yet aloof bartender busily text messaging while hapless patrons wave $20 bills at them in a futile attempt to get the bartender to actually tend to the bar. Eventually, after updating their Facebook status with “My job sucks”, they glance over at the customer, roll their eyes, slam down a bottle of Budweiser in front of them and fetch their change without a word of thanks. Or, when someone orders a scotch and soda, they tilt their pretty little heads and ask “What’s in that?”

Having a resume; it makes me feel all grown-up. I look over my references and continuity and feel proud of myself. Another thing that gives me minor internal hissy fits is when an interviewer takes my resume and wants me to fill out an application. I had thought that the point of a resume is to save time on things like applications. Of course, we can’t roll our eyes when we are handed an application. We have to be cheerful and act as if we were given one off those huge checks from Publisher’s Clearing House. “Oh, goody-gumdrops! You mean I get to hand write everything that is already typed neatly on the paper I just gave you on to a whole new piece of paper?” I loathe these modern redundancies, like when we punch in our account numbers when calling our cable company, and then being asked for the same number 40 minutes later when we finally reach a human being.

It is an employer’s market. I read ads of what they are seeking and it is an extensive laundry list of sacrifice and dedication for the privilege of working for someone. Under “compensation” there is usually a single euphemistic business-speak word “competitive”. Translation: as little as we are able to get away with. Some companies at least try to be creative “Work with a first rate team who are able to think outside of the box.” Well, I suppose that does sweeten the sub-minimum wage pay. While I was working I would look over resumes other people had dropped off. I was also always nice to perspective applicants. It was not uncommon to come across people with Master’s Degrees and Ph.D.’s looking to wait tables and schlep drinks. This made me feel better, while also scaring me a little. I remember showing up to an open call at a popular hotel years ago. I had shown up 20 minutes early, only to join a line of applicants that looked like one of the black and white photos from The Great Depression. In line were stunningly beautiful and handsome young men and women holding professionally designed resumes in sexy binders. They wore beautifully tailored, designer clothes and seemed so sure of themselves. These are the people I am competing with, and many of them are more educated, younger, better looking and possibly more desperate than I am. Personally, if I was in a position to hire, I’d exploit any and all desperation. “Well, you’re certainly qualified; but would you be willing to give me a foot massage and to address me as ‘Most Exalted Daddy Pants’? And by the way, how are you at ‘thinking outside the box?” Looking eager and upbeat takes energy too, more energy than one might think. This made me understand why people stop looking for work after a year or year and a half. It’s tantamount to being pumped up in the locker room for the big game, yet week after week getting slaughtered on the field. The job hunt can be exceptionally draining and soul sucking. It’s hard to keep from taking rejection and a lack of response personally.

Be it ever so crumbled....There's no place like home.

Be it ever so crumbled….There’s no place like home.

I’ll get another job sooner or later, hopefully sooner as my landlord is a little funny about my bringing in partial rent payments in rolled up pennies and nickels and saying “I’ll try to get the rest of it to you next week.”