I’m already thinking ahead to next Christmas and that I’ll likely make a dish. Perhaps something that I can’t pronounce like bolognese. Meat is definitely a requirement.
What happens when you try to come up with a menu to appease seven human beings, each with differing dietary restrictions, penchants, picadillos, likes, dislikes, preferences, predilections, disinclinations, propensities, and predispositions?
Answer: Exponential permutations.
Good news. It looks like we’ll only need 128 different dishes to satisfy everyone.
What the fuck is wrong with me?! There may be people in my neighborhood, but let me tell you what they never do. They never do shit – for me – for free. We’re talking about outside the realm of possibility here.
The mechanic never says, “Hey, Tom. Your car has a leaky head gasket. I’ll fix it for free.”
The brain surgeon never says, “Let’s whip that tumor out of that precious little head. No charge!”
The butcher doesn’t say, “Fella, you sure look like you could use a New York strip. Think fast!”
Me? I was dropped on my head as a wee child. (This is scientific extrapolation. It’s the only explanation that fits the facts.) Computer geek. Programmer. Webmaster. A true modern day Renaissance man. And the only time in my life I ever run is when I can give my shit away for free.
“Yes, I’d be happy to help you with your website in my spare time. Before spending any money – about anything – talk to me first. I’ll look out for you. I’ll protect you from being gouged. You paid $8,000 for your website? Yes, that affirms my opinion of humanity.”
If I have skills that are useful I figure, what the hell, why not help parasitic life forms who happen to be trapped on the same plane as myself?
I don’t ask much in return. A sincere word of “thanks” would be more than enough. Good form dictates, though, that some effort at appearances be made. It’s like pretending to reach for your wallet after a meal when the other person wants to pick up the tab and have you absolutely no intention. Anything less than that minimal effort is bad form.
Everyone has a right to my opinion and I carry a toilet plunger to make sure it’s forced as deep as possible down your throat.
I’m talking about, of course, everyone on the internet. That’s pretty much what it has come down to, right?
Take, for example, a video posted two days ago on YouTube of a road rage incident described as “Redneck Road Rage” and “Instant Karma.” The video quickly went viral. As I write this post it already has over 5 million views. Wow.
Click here to be transported to a dream world of YouTube magic: Redneck Road Rage / Instant Karma
According to the description on the video, the woman was forced to disable comments after she was issued “umpteenth” death threats and called “a b!#$h/c$%t/whore/slut” a “billion” times.
“Unicorn” is the codename I’ve given to one of the technical people who came on board after I quit. She’s been working on my stuff.
To: Tom B. Taker
CC: Former Boss
I just wanted to take a moment to give you some positive feedback on the scripts you created to manage vendor/product information.
Your extensive, clean documentation, stable code, and useful logging / script echos has made this transition run much more smoothly than I have experienced in other small businesses. Well done.
Note the date and time in the ship’s log. I’m speechless. I have nothing negative to add.
I’ve never been into fast cars. As far as I’m concerned, the male analogy stops right there. While the other guys were talking about engine blocks and rattling off weird nonsensical numbers and making lamps out of blocks of wood in shop class, I was taking “home economics” with 29 girls and learning how to sew my own apron and make chocolate chip cookies.
Yet, when it came to driving itself, suddenly I was interested. I just didn’t care what went on inside that thing. On my birthday and the day it became legal I obtained my learner’s permit. Exactly one year later I aced my driving test.
My dad taught me to drive. We practiced together in his car (an automatic) and my car (stick shift) which I had already bought with my own money. The car cost me $300, money which I had earned working part-time at a variety of local fast food establishments. It was a 1969 Pontiac LeMans hardtop. The driver’s door never opened, you had to slide across the one-piece seat from the passenger side, and the manual transmission was so wonky and loose that I eventually became the only human who could drive that baby. You had to perform little maneuvers while shifting, like lifting, twisting and pushing down to get it to go into gear. But that baby was mine.
I moved to the big city to live with my dad but I wanted to finish my senior year of high school in my little home town. So I became a commuter at the age of 18. My daily commute was a 30-mile drive (one-way) to school.
I enjoy driving. I’ve done a lot of it. It’s the one area of my life where I am the one percent unlike the 99% of other idiots on the road. My instincts and cat-like reflexes have kept me alive when most other idiots would have perished in a fantastic ball of fire.
And I’ve never forgotten one of the most basic principles my dad taught me about being a good driver on day one with my learner’s permit in hand: Drive so that you don’t impact other drivers on the road.
This is a story about a typical idiot who never received and/or heeded such critical training.
Continue reading →
Press *42 for my fist in your face.
Oops. Once upon a time someone told me I’m supposed to swallow my violent tendencies. I no longer remember who that was. Oh well, must not have been anyone important.
Oh. I see I just failed. Let’s try this again.
Hey, everybody! I’ve got a great idea on how to handle to chum-bucket assholes with phones in restaurants!
There. Is that better?
Continue reading →
How me-oriented are we as communicators? Allow me to introduce my newest creation. I’m calling it the “unrequited dangle.”
I’ll start with a real life example. This actually happened. I shit you not.
Person A: Someone very close to me died yesterday.
Person B: Did you see my new shoes? What do you think?
One person is feeling vulnerable and shares a delicate thought. They dangle the bait hoping to catch a sincere moment of intimacy. I guess. I mean, why else say something like that?
The other person may actually care about the speaker. It’s unclear from this example. Let’s go out on a limb and assume that they do. (The alternative is that they are merely a pure selfish asshole and, although likely, isn’t particularly useful to the point at hand that I’m trying to make.) Assuming the person actually cares, what just happened?
Their “me bubble” was so powerful that the pain and hurt of the other person did not penetrate. It simply bounced off. This me-oriented communicator is literally unaware of the message that was sent in their direction. In strict technical terms, communication did not take place.
My daily life is replete with these moments of unrequited dangles. Granted, most of these happen with people who are flaming assholes, but some are sincere friends and the assumption is that they actually care. What then? These damaged communicators aren’t even aware of what they do.
My wife and her friend are both really good cooks. They recently put out a seven-course meal for some friends. It was an evening of small plates complete with wine pairings. The way she told the story to me it sounded like an episode of Top Chef. Each dish was brought out, described along with the wine pairing.
As people who know my wife learned of this, an unintended science experiment was the result. In three separate cases, my wife was approached and asked about the seven-course evening.
In one case, she was only able to describe one dish, the first, before that prompted the person asking to interrupt and launch into a grand telling of a story of her own. That person never thought, at any point, to ever return to what my wife had to say. Score: 1 out of 7.
The second experience was similar, except my wife was able to describe three courses before the same thing happened. Score: 3 out of 7.
Now, here’s the wacky part. The third experience was with a gerbil. This young person is a friend of our son’s and has frequently graced the pages of this blog. He asked about the dinner and … get this … he listened as my wife described them all. All! Mothafucka! Score: 7 out of 7.
This gerbil, who figured prominently in The Adventure of the Raspberry Bar (still unsolved!), who has lived at home since graduating high school, who has a medical marijuana card and is on food stamps and has never held down a job – he was the only one willing to allow another human being the courtesy of relating the whole story when asked. My wife’s so-called friends came up woefully short.
Final score: 10 out of 21. That’s a scientifically-computed listening rate of less than 50 percent. Conclusion: Humans are doomed.
We all think we’re the center of the universe – and we treat each other just like that. Truth be told, however, we’re not quite as important as we like to think. Not by a long shot.