1. Panhandlers. Need gas? Need beer? Whatever you need I’m sure you have a fine reason for not tending to those things through the fruit of your own labor. But you see I have bills too. Lots of them. My first duty is to provide for me and mine in our daily needs and then lay some back for the future. So no, I’m not interested in your sad story. We all have our troubles and I already subsidize enough bad decision making through state and federal taxes that I’m not interested in taking on any additional dependents at this time.
2. Blast email from Maryland’s US Senator. I regularly opine to my Senators and Member of Congress. I’ll continue to do so at any time I feel the need. Receiving their occasional email blast “report from Washington” though, always reminds me that while they may indeed be my duly elected and seated representatives in Congress, I agree with them on almost none of the issues that matter. I love my home state from the beach to the bay to the mountains, but ultimately its politics and its taxes virtually ensure that my time here in my home state has a definite expiration date.
3. 3:30 AM. I only have so much tolerance for laying wide awake in bed. Which is to say I have no tolerance for it at all. Once awake I want to be up and doing stuff. It’s fine on a weekend when I can get up and start knocking things off my list. It’s a bloody nuisance when it means just another 90 minutes to kill before heading to work. At least it set the tone nicely for the rest of the day so that’s something.
1. Ass pain. A sure sign you spend too much time trapped in cubicle hell is that the low-bidder chair that goes along with it slowly starts physically damaging you. It’s not a problem in my nice fancy office chair at home or even in the slightly-higher-than-low-bidder chairs in the conference rooms. Until fairly recently I didn’t even know a tailbone was something that could hurt. I guess you can now add work-related ass pain to the list of things you have to start dealing with as you approach 40 that a twenty year younger version of you never considered.
2. Allegations. We now live in a country where all it takes is the allegation of wrong doing to end a career or destroy a lifetime of work. For all those people cheering the fall of people who “probably” or “may have” done bad things, be careful what kind of world you’re cheering on, because we’re all going to have to live in it. Then again it worked out well enough for the witch hunters of Salem.
3. Junkies. I had my eye on you from the second I pulled into the gas station. I saw the swerving lean on the trash can and then back the other way. I saw your knees seem to buckle, but you miraculously stay on your feet. I’m a little impressed that you made it across the parking lot without getting yourself run over in the process. God, it seems, protects junkies as well as drunks, small children, and ships named Enterprise. I appreciate your determination, but you see, you picked the absolute wrong person at the absolute wrong time of day to ask for a handout. I’m here pumping gas at 6:45 AM so I can haul myself to the place where I exchange my time for someone else’s money. You might try doing the same. You’re a man every hour as old as I am with maybe a few to spare – so I don’t feel at all guilty at thinking that you should be somewhere earning your own keep. In times past, that use to be the defining characteristic of being a man. In today’s world where everything is an illness and we’re supposed to be full of pity and understanding, it’s not fashionable to say things like that. Fortunately, I’ve never been one to give a damn about what’s fashionable. I can’t seem to do much to discourage the state from pouring ever increasing amounts of money down your rabbit hole, but I’ll be damned before I willing give one slim cent to anyone who decides chasing their high somehow entitles them to a living from my work and wages.
1. Pulling it out of your ass. There are any number of things that you should never have to worry about pulling out of your ass – gerbils, light bulbs, the usual. If you spend enough time making the hard to do seem easy and the impossible just a touch harder than that, sooner or later people will come to expect it… and then that time when you can’t deliver there will be hell to pay. The longer I serve the bureaucracy, I realize Chief Engineer Scott wasn’t actually a miracle worker. He was an expert at pulling things out of his ass and had an unlimited pool of good luck. Most pools aren’t nearly so limitless.
2. Panhandlers. How high would you have to be to try getting money from me when I’m pumping gas? The fired and true death stare wasn’t effective, but the growled command to “step. back.” apparently got his attention. His mouth worked, trying to form words while his addled mind struggled mightily to come up with something to say and then he did finally backed away slowly. I’m not saying I would beat someone to death using the end of a running gasoline hose like a medieval flail… but I’m not saying I wouldn’t if properly provoked.
3. People. I know many of you will find this hard to believe, but I legitimately want to like people. I want to assume the best about them and hell, maybe even be friendly… and then I go out into the world and actually meet people going about their business and find myself wondering how the hell they function in society and how quickly I can get away from them and back into the peaceful, access controlled confines of Fortress Jeff. Every day that ticks by seems to leave me with that much less patience for suffering fools… and yet the sheer volume of fools that must be suffered appears to grow exponentially.
1. The bulldog whine. I don’t know where it came from but for the last few weeks Winston has been a whiner. Whines while I’m fixing his food. Whines when he wants an ear scratch. And whines at four in the morning because he’s bored. It only seems unusual because for most of his life, Winston has been a remarkably quiet dog – aside from the expected bulldog snoring and snorting. If he were doing it to get my attention when he needed to go out that would be one thing, but as far as I can tell it’s mostly just because he’s awake and thinks everyone else should be too.
2. Begging. I’ve had a bitch of a week. I’m getting my ass kicked from pillar to post and it’s not over yet. In the 30 minutes I try to squeeze in a lunch and some time to mentally reset, I’m sorry I don’t want to run the gauntlet of “spare a dollar” panhandlers sitting outside my favorite gas station/sandwich shop. I’m sure they all have very sad stories and they’re all very deserving people, but I’m busting my ass over here in the hopes that it’ll keep the rest of me above water. My observation has been they’re mostly just sitting on theirs looking for someone else to pay the bill. Fuck that noise.
3. Indoor voices. If you work in a relatively confined space with twenty other people, it might be a good idea to go ahead and use your indoor voice. If your indoor voice proves insufficient to carry all the way across the room to your intended recipient, that would be a good time to get up out of your swivel chair and walk over to continue your conversation at an appropriate volume. Or you could just shout at each other. Either way.
1. Begging. Tonight’s the night when all you parents out there send your children mixed messages by encouraging them off to talk to strangers for candy. Fortunately the houses in my neighborhood are far enough apart that it’s not particularly lucrative bit of ground to cover, so there aren’t typically herds of children wandering around looking for a handout. It’s not so much that I mind the giving away of candy, but like the 4th of July, it’s one of those nights that threatens to send one or both of the dogs over the edge every time they hear the gate close or someone knocking on the door. Then again there’s the unmitigated glee when I open the door so parent and child are faced with a surly looking bald man with two barking dogs at his back… so at least there’s that.
2. Getting Close. Earlier this month it looked like jeffreytharp.com was well on its way to having its best month ever in terms of unique views. WordPress was regularly reporting daily views of 50 or 60 people. On October 3rd, the site posted its biggest single day. Since this past Sunday the number of views per day have plummeted for reasons I haven’t been able to identify just yet. At the rate they’re hitting now, I’ll be lucky to bring in 50 or 60 views this week. Alas, such are the vagaries of the internet. As October draws to a close, I’ll have to content myself with having the 2nd best month in the blog’s short history… and start worrying about how to keep November from ending up recorded as the 2nd worst.
3. Indecision. You can accuse me of a lot of things, but being indecisive is generally not one of them. Right, wrong, or otherwise, when confronted with possible courses of action I’ll pick one based on the best information I have available at the time and move out smartly. I’ll never claim to make the right decision all the time, but I’ll by God make one instead of just sitting around waiting for something to happen. Whether it’s where to have lunch or which program to throw over the side, I wish the populace at large would just stop pussyfooting around and figure out what they want to happen. Walking through life having other people’s bad decisions foist upon you is simply piss poor planning. As far as I’m concerned, any decision made on the spot is better than a great decision made ten minutes too late.
Once upon a time, my opinions were sought out on such issues as organizational efficiencies and streamlining processes and procedures. I like to think that I had some good ideas that ended up saving a decent amount of time and money for my employer. Since that kind of thing is no longer part of my operational portfolio, I have to make do with dispensing these little pearls of wisdom to whomever happens to be in earshot at any given time (i.e. anyone who happens to wander across this page in the hope of finding something new or informative to read). Suckers.
It’s with that in mind that my thoughts turn to Halloween and trick-or-treating. That magical time of year when for one dark, dark night, it’s perfectly acceptable for your children to brazenly approach strangers and accept candy from them. If I sat at the park offering the same candy on a random weekday evening in June, I’d be locked up for sure. Like most other pegan-based holidays, I’m sure the roots of Halloween are originally a good time for everyone. In a day and age when you have to drive little Bobby and Suzy from door to door so they can learn the only socially accepted form of begging in the civilized world, I’m not sure that it continues to serve a useful purpose. That said, this is my proposal: Instead of spending a lot of money on a costume, running out gas getting too and from the neighborhood of your choice, and generally spending several hours out in the cold, why doesn’t every parent just go to the nearest Walmart, Giant, Kroger, or local convenience store, spend five dollars on candy for their own kid, and call it a day. We’d collectively save a mountain of cash by following this simple plan. I wouldn’t spend the night worried that someone is going to slip, fall, and sue me. And the dogs wouldn’t launch into a barking fit every time they hear someone walking across the deck. So come on, help me help you.
Now if you’ll excuse me it’s time to go hang up the Beware of Dog signs and make sure today’s troubled youth stay off my lawn.
1. Intersection Panhandlers. I’ve seen the five of you working the same intersection for 14 months… but only when the weather is agreeable. I’ve seen you getting bottles of water, soda, and bags of chips out of the truck that cost more than mine did on more than one occasion. I’ve even watched you swap signs, thinking that maybe you’d have better luck as a homeless vet than an unemployed single father. While I appreciate your ability to find a niche and milk it for all its worth, the next time you’re tempted to step off the curb in front of me just as the light’s turning green, try to keep in mind that while your family might appreciate the insurance settlement, you’ll be too flat and squishy to enjoy it.
2. Congressman Todd Akin. You, sir, are an asshat. Your lack of knowledge of basic health science and general lack of tact are inconsistent with your elected position in government. There are plenty of ways to espouse wackadoodle positions without sounding like a giant douche on national television. It’s probably best if you STFU and start making plans for your new career as a former Member of Congress, unless, of course, the fine people of the State of Missouri go ahead and elect you anyway… in which case they’ll get exactly the kind of senator they deserve.
3. The Prince’s New Clothes. Harry went to Vegas, got naked, and was dumb enough to let it get captured on “film.” I get that he’s a HRH and all, but can anyone that’s ever spent a weekend in Vegas say that they’d want some of the less noble moments of their trip preserved for posterity and flashed around the globe as an alleged bit of news. Like so many pop culture “scandles,” maybe I just miss the so what of it all. The guy’s in Vegas, he’s having a good time, no one got hurt, and I say God bless… but I don’t really need to see the pictures.