I slipped out of my home and blended into the urban landscape. Nothing to notice here. Just another lost soul looking miserable and drifting along with the tides of refuse dotted across the city. For good measure I even added a limp which wasn’t that much of a stretch since my ankle was still smarting from being smashed on a rock during our last whitewater rafting trip. (A story that has yet to be told.)
No fedora, tattoos, Nike footwear, North Face jacket or 1890’s neckbeards for me. I was projecting identity that screamed, “Leave me the fuck alone.” It helps a lot to be ugly and look as grim as possible.
And so it was I moved silently through the city. Which is rather odd for me since I seldom leave the house. We’re the quintessential Portland family. We have less automobiles than residents in our home. My wife was gone so that meant I had to make other arrangements.
Arriving at the bus stop I leaned against the sign. I must have just missed it since it took many spawns to arrive. I climbed aboard and asked the driver, “Is it okay if I don’t have exact change?” He said it was so I stuck in three one dollar bills for the $2.50 fare. My transfer printed and I couldn’t help but notice no change was offered. So that’s how that shit works. I paused for a reflective moment of gratitude that I hadn’t tried a one hundred dollar bill.
Drive drunk? I feel that should be classified as “attempted murder.” Society, as usual, doesn’t agree with me. “No jail time for killing four pedestrians while driving with a BAC three times over the legal limit and not even old enough to drink.” That wee bit of difference of opinion on punishment makes me an outlier, I guess. Of course, that’s an extreme example, yet to my way of thinking, punishment in even garden variety DUII cases falls woefully short.
Cheat on your spouse? That should also be “attempted murder.” It’s all so simple to me. Pick up a deadly disease, bring it to your marital bed, and pay it forward with a potential disease that could theoretically kill the person who trusts you the most. There should be serious punishment for that. Far too often the only real punishment is going back to your regular life like nothing ever happened. Not much of a deterrent, eh?
In brief, my point is that without certain and meaningful consequence there is absolutely no limit on behavior. Period.
I believe a certain percentage of people just don’t give a shit. Perhaps they are motivated by drug addiction. Perhaps they are psychopaths and/or sociopaths and it’s what they do. Maybe they were brought into the world and damaged beyond repair by parents, environment and random events. Whatever the reason, it makes little difference in the end. The outcomes are similar. The themes of destruction and causing harm are remarkably consistent.
We tend to expect it from these folks. No big surprises there.
What about the rest of us? We’re good, right?
Hold on. Let’s not be too hasty.
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COMPUTER: Working. Private Tom B. Taker. Serial number ABY-7734-Neg. Verified.
So what follows is the truth.
COMPUTER: Subject relaying accurate account. No physiological changes.
Gee, thanks, computer! I appreciate the endorsement!
COMPUTER: Subject in error. No endorsement was implied. Non sequitur. Error. Error. Error.
Dammit, man! I’m a failure, not a negativist! Or is that the other way around?
Anyway, most folks don’t know about Starfleet’s Processed Air Training (PAT). It’s a critical part of Starfleet Academy that must be successfully completed in order to graduate. It’s just like that scene in An Officer And A Gentleman where candidate Sid Worley can’t count cards in the decompression chamber. Yes, he’s got the moves like Jagger! But that doesn’t make him officer material.
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[Guest post from Arthur who was in Portland for the “Grand Opening”.]
I dropped by the “Grand Opening” of Scientology’s latest “Ideal Org” in Portland, Oregon. It was nothing much. I guess that’s typical of these events. Only a couple of hundred Scientologists showed up.
As much as it was nothing much, a few things struck me about the event and how Scientology “welcomed itself” into the community.
The overwhelming image and attitude of Scientology in that neighborhood and in that community was, “We don’t like you, we don’t trust you. Keep out.” There were tons of security all over the place plus rented off-duty police. The police were polite, the Scientologists were most definitely not. At one point I saw one Scientology “security” person hassling a non-uniformed Scientology security person because he didn’t recognize him. That was funny.
If you were not a known Scientologist, you were most…
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I suddenly find myself pondering a move to someplace like Islamabad so I feel safer about my neighborhood.
A few weeks ago my street (which is a short one) was mentioned in the local newspaper’s police blotter for break-ins. Then, last weekend, our car was ransacked by, I assume, the local unsupervised miscreants who use our neighborhood as their own personal clubhouse.
Then, a couple nights ago, two of our neighbors (about four houses down) got into a disagreement about kids playing ball. Words were exchanged, they met in the street, and there was a fight that ended up with one of them dead. If I understand the story correctly, a father of three is now in jail facing murder charges.
I guess this proves the old adage, “Never bring your asshole parenting skills to a knife fight.”
Since then traffic on our cul-de-sac street has picked up considerably. There has been a marked increase in cars slowly driving down the street, turning around, then slowly driving out. I assume these are “scene of the crime” lookie-loos.
Suddenly our quiet little neighborhood isn’t so quiet any more.
Anyone know a good Pakistani travel agent?
Thankfully the asshole neighbors are long gone. We never give those pieces of a shit a second thought.
Somehow, one of them remained behind. A woman with a red car apparently knew the neighbors across the street and when the house next door vacated, she merely started hanging out there. Her car never really left our neighborhood.
That red car became a fixture on the curb right in front of the house belonging to our neighbors on the left. For once a dump by the Universe missed me! It took of out my neighbor as collateral damage instead.
If that red car was parked in front of my house 24/7 week after week I would have been livid. The car never moved. Maybe once every couple of weeks or so.
Apparently my neighbor was mad, too. He put a note on her car one day and, out of curiosity, I took an innocent little peak at it. Yep, he was mad. Just like I would have been.
Eventually the people across the street moved out, too, and the woman with the red car apparently had to go freeload somewhere else. Awww.
Today my wife was chatting with our neighbor and got filled in on some of the details. He said that after he’d left his note the woman had retaliated with a note of her own. Her note said that she had checked with the city cops and it was legal for her to park in front of his house, so she wasn’t about to stop.
His wife finally had enough so she went across the street to take care of things. She talked to a woman to turned out to be the mother of the woman with the red car. Finally, the story was told.
You see, it turned out that the mother didn’t want her daughter’s red car parked in front of her house so she ordered the daughter to park it elsewhere, like in front of our neighbor’s house. Anywhere was fine as long as it didn’t impact them. Pissing off the neighbors? Fine and dandy. Yes, we don’t want our own car impacting our own view now, do we? Our shit should always be someone else’s problem and never our own.
That house is vacant now and new neighbors are on the way. Anyone want to lay odds on if they are assholes, too? The sports book is now open.