Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Paging Miss Manners...

People of America,

I shouldn’t have to do this, what with it being Christmas season and Santa watching and all that jazz, but apparently, all y’all need a refresher course on courtesy, good manners and how not to act like spoiled 5 year olds.

And by the way, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, place of birth and/or sports team preference matter diddly squat in this exercise. Every group has its offenders.
1) Let’s start with courtesy to fellow patrons in line, shall we? I was just at Walgreens. Nobody near the cashier; only person in line. As I was completing the transaction, another customer came up and stood right over my shoulder. I was using a card to complete the purchase, so the attention was definitely not welcome. I asked, “Ma’am, may I have some personal space, please?” This was a woman in her late twenties/early thirties (best guess). She gave me a snotty, “Sor-ree!” backed off a step, then came back in. I said, “Excuse me. Please wait your turn. I’m not done here.” She darted around the other side of me and still tried to push in. I got exasperated, “Please back off and wait your turn!” She said, “I was in line ahead of you.” “No, you weren’t unless you were invisible when I walked up. You lost your turn, back off.” (And yes, I did say this)

Crowding someone else conducting business is unacceptable behavior. In the age of identity theft; it makes you a suspect. And you never know when someone’s carrying  and not in the mood for your shit. This also applies to cutting the line.

It was bad form in kindergarten and it’s even worse when you’re an adult. Mike Barnicle, former columnist for the Boston Globe (I’m not sure what he’s doing these days) once wrote a story about a long line of people waiting to be served in Dunkin Donuts somewhere in the Boston area. A woman bustles into the store, heads to the counter and places her order, saying to everyone on line, “I’m sorry, but I’m double parked and I can’t wait.” She got her order (one of those little tray dealies), but as she was walking out and still saying “I’m sorry, but…”, one of the guys who had been waiting leaned over and pushed over the tray in her hands, spilling all the coffee. She deserved it.

2) You are to treat the employees of the store who are DOING THEIR JOB and HELPING YOU TO GET WHAT YOU WANT with courtesy and respect* (*until and unless they prove otherwise). A couple of months ago, I was at Nordstrom’s, my favorite department store (Macys lost the title when they absorbed and killed Filene’s, Jordan Marsh, Robinson’s May, Marshall Fields and Burdines). I was beginning my transaction when a woman somewhat older than I pushed in next to me at the counter and thrust a package at the clerk saying, “This keeps going off.” She had a cellphone up to her ear and in between talking to whoever, she told the clerk that it was something from the baby department and the security tag must still be attached, remove it. And she was in a hurry. She then walked a few steps away to continue her phone conversation, but came back to make sure the clerk didn’t tear the tissue paper; it was a gift. The woman looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, but…” And I said, “No you aren’t.”

Why did I say she wasn’t? 1) She stayed on the damned phone the whole time, 2) she didn’t ask me if I minded whether she went ahead, 3) this wasn’t the department that had left the tag on that caused the alarm to go off,  but they were the poor unfortunates she found first, 4) she kept walking away for her stupid, fucking phone conversation (and I heard it. It was a stupid, fucking non-urgent conversation) and 5) (the kicker) she had the chutzpah (gall, nerve for those unfamiliar with the Yiddish. Yiddish is a good language for frustration) to try to dictate how they proceeded with finding the tag WHILE STILL ON THE FUCKING PHONE CALL.

Look, I worked customer service for a financial services company for 12 years, okay. If you don’t think people lose their shit when money’s involved, think again. I had people demand to speak to fund managers because their multi-thousand dollar dividend was short $4.95 by their calculation (really). On the flip side of the coin, there were the people who would call up with, “Um, hi. I wired $100,000 to my bank account 3 days ago and it’s not there. Can you check that for me, please?” Who do you think I busted my ass for, used my influence and well-placed contacts to help out? Curiously, the dividing line of behavior was nouveau riche v. old money (and I’m not naming names because you’d recognize them). The “missing” $4.95 guy had just discovered grocery bags of  stock certificates in recently deceased Uncle Morty’s condo in Century Village and opened an account with a “Dig me, I’m rich” attitude (I know. I had to help the shithead open the account. Karma is a beautiful thing: his wife cleaned it out completely during the divorce 6 months later).

The old money was the guy with the missing $100,000. He was always courteous, friendly and respectful (and sent a nice letter to my boss and a 5 lb. box of chocolates for ME at Christmas. I was forced to share. With people who would poke holes in them and put them back in the box if they didn’t like what they saw. That’s a different set of BAD manners).

3) “Gimme” and “I’ll take” are not acceptable substitutes for “May I have…” or “May I please have...”.  This is basic courtesy 101; unless your mama is a spoiled, self-entitled bitch with head jammed in ass herself (and I know a few of those), she should have taught you “please”, ”thank you” and “May I.”  By the way, “can I” is asking about the ability to do something, “may I” is seeking permission. So “Can I get a caramel macchiato” means “I question my ability to procure a caramel macchiato. Do you know if I have the ability?” “May I get a caramel macchiato?” means “I’d like to have a caramel macchiato. Please help me.”

I think 3 is all you can handle now. Behave yourselves or this WILL continue.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I Feel Lucky Today...

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”
- Sir Mick Jagger and Mr. Keith Richards

 What does good luck look like? A winning lottery ticket? Getting a parking space up front on Black Friday (a day on which I won’t go near any store)? Finding a folded $20 bill in your jeans pocket (always a major score)?

Thursday night, after a really great Thanksgiving dinner, I was headed home and notice the battery warning light was lit on my car’s dashboard. I’m not completely ignorant about cars, but I thought I just needed to restart the car and it would stop. I didn’t associate with the belt squealing that had become just so much background noise (I still need to get the AC and the heater fixed).
My car saw fit to educate me while I was on the 101 (It’s a California thing: ALL of our major highways are “The (fill in the blank),” “The 110.” “The 5 (Seriously, the ugliest, most frustrating stretch of highway in Southern California. It is FUGLY).” “The 101.”  Now, I know there is a perfectly good 101 running through New Hampshire. But, since it’s not in L.A., it’s not THE 101.) The lights dimmed (and it’s night), the radio died and the fuel injectors started choking and coughing like 5 pack a day smokers. Yeah, this is bad.

Now, you would think that good luck would have been that nothing had happened. No. That would have been nothing extraordinary.

This is why I say I am LUCKY:

1) Rather than dying on the main highway and becoming a hazard, there was enough momentum and slope that I was able to coast off at the Lankershim exit. Not enough to  get down to Cahuenga and turn into the Arco station next to the exit, but I was able to guide the car off the shoulder.

2) I have AAA (and I’m irritated that I won’t be able to upgrade back to my old Premium status because of this. Shoot) and a cell phone. Help was a phone call away. (If you don’t have AAA, GET IT)

3) As I was on the phone with AAA, a California Highway Patrol car pulled up behind me. While I was telling him what was going on, a second CHiP (Not Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox) pulled up behind him. And they stayed to make sure I was okay.

4) The first AAA guy tested the battery and his gizmos said it was probably the alternator. Alternators are expensive. Wicked expensive. Luck? My paycheck had hit my account Thanksgiving morning. I had the means to deal with the problem. His portable charger gave my car enough juice to get to the Arco station.

5) The second AAA guy, the one with the flatbed, put his head together with the first guy and they found an AAA approved garage within the 7 miles allowed for a  free tow (to bring the car back down to where I live now…$234).

6) One of my friends from Thanksgiving dinner lived within 6 blocks of the garage and gave me a place to sleep for the night. Complete with kitties (including a kitten).

7) It wasn’t the alternator (beaucoup mega big bucks). It was the serpentine alternator BELT. And I got a discount because it was an approved garage. I had enough cash in my wallet to cover the bill.

8) I didn’t get to work on Friday; my job is “you don’t work, you don’t get paid”. But while I was waiting for the car to be finished, I got to see Ken Burns’ “The Dust Bowl” which I couldn’t find on the PBS stations down here. (It’s excellent and eye opening about one of the major factors of the Great Depression).

9) And finally, I was able to go in on Saturday and make up the 8 hours I’d missed the day before. AND, due to all the hours I’ve been putting in, I qualified for holiday pay on Thanksgiving. I didn’t miss any base hours.

 I didn’t hit the lottery (I did find 10 bucks in my pants pocket, though), but I hit the motherlode on luck. And I will be adding jumper cables to my trunk.

So, in the words of Mick and Keith, I didn’t get what I wanted (winning lottery ticket and George Clooney nibbling my earlobes). But, by God, I got what I needed and when I needed it.

Now that’s something to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

New Election Law

Okay, last post about politics.

Listen up, Gang; Mama’s got some new rules (probably should be Constitutional Amendments but Congress is too busy trying to cockblock each other to get the ball rolling, so it’s up to us…)

Paul Ryan: lost the Vice Presidency, but don’t cry for him Waukegin: he won his House  seat, so he’s still sucking on the public teat. Look: this isn’t sneaking around behind Lundberg  to interview for another job (Lundberg. “Office Space reference).

 You want to change public office, you resign from your Senate seat/House seat/Governor’s chair. We KNOW  that you don’t give fuck one about your constituents while you’re advancing your career, so let someone willing to ACTUALLY FUCKING DO THE JOB actually have the job. If you’re going to run, you’re going balls in. No safety net. Call it built-in motivation.


If the President of the United States is limited to two terms (or 8 years), the House and Senate should be, too. Over in the zoo called the House, you can go 4 terms (8 years) max. Same as the Pres. It’s a little trickier in the Senate because a term over there is 6 years (Note: if this piece of information comes as a surprise and shock to you a) I hope to God you didn’t vote and b) remedial Civics class for you immediately). 2 terms and out. Now, you can go from 8 years in the House to 12 years (yes, 6 x 2 is 12) and then, if you’re really good (and what a steelcage match the primaries would become), 8 years in the Presidency. That’s 28 years and a full career by anyone’s standard. Oh yes: mandatory retirement at 80. No more Strom Thurmond “Walking Dead” Senators (they’d die all over again from the lack of brains). Oh: NOBODY is grandfathered in. Time for fresh blood and despite the boast of Archimedes (this is what public education used to be, Folks), there isn’t a lever big enough to pry your dead asses out of the job. I think we can rummage up enough boxes for you to move your shit. And if you return as lobbyists, armed citizens are allowed to shoot you on site and turn your ears in for a bounty. You may be undead and we can’t take chances.


You are only allowed to accept $------ (amount TBD) from REGISTERED voters in the district you are running to represent. No more of this SUPERPAC bullshit. You’ll have to get creative about getting your message out. This will have the added benefit of unclogging airwaves, answering machines and mailboxes. Those billions of dollars that went to plastering the airwaves, answering machines and mailboxes? America just made you pay for interrupting Jeaopardy with bullshit.

Proceed accordingly.