It’s Not Me… It’s You

the_jerk_store-208x300In 37 years I still haven’t managed to figure out that some people are simply NOT worth my time or energy. They will never be kind no matter how many cheerful “Good Mornings” or “Hellos” I waste my breath on uttering day after day after day. Being a friendly and outgoing person myself, I offer everyone I meet the benefit of the doubt by being nice to them. Call me crazy — that’s just how I was raised. However, as I age, I am learning (not nearly fast enough) that there IS a limit. Or at least there SHOULD be a limit on the quantity of niceties I offer up to someone who is—for lack of a better, KINDER term—an @$$hole.

As was discussed recently on a CBS news program, @$$holes are growing in number. I’m sure this doesn’t come as a shock to you wherever you are. I’m sure that in the last seven days you have most likely crossed paths with an obnoxious tailgater or cutter-offer in traffic, a jerk who line jumped you at the register when your arms were busy juggling 12 cans of cat food, a value bottle of shampoo and an unusually large loaf of frozen garlic bread, or an office mate or acquaintance who could not return a greeting to save his or her miserable life. If you’re out there in the world, then you’ve most certainly run across one if not ALL of these characters at some point in time.

There will always be jerks in the world. I get that. But the one thing I truly have a problem with is dealing with the @$$hole(s) who KNOW you and yet REFUSE to be civil. When nothing bitter, sour or otherwise distasteful has transpired between the two of you—how can it when you’ve never even spoken?—yet you’re the recipient of endless cold shoulders, dismissive actions and downright rudeness. What do you do with THESE people? Seriously. I’m asking. Inquiring minds want to know. I want to know what others of you do when dealing with this particular individual in your own lives.

I know the whole “It isn’t you, it’s them” routine is the standard issue response to this question, generally. So please don’t give me that one (plus I already used it in the title). Because I can repeat that to myself until I’m blue in the face, pumping up my morale momentarily and feeling all I’m OK, You’re OK about the whole thing… that is until the very next time one of us veers into the other’s world. And I am dumbfounded once again at their blatant disregard for the other human being in their midst. “HELLO!?! ARE YOU BLIND!?! WERE YOU RAISED BY WOLVES!?!” I end up screaming inside my brain before rolling my eyes and muttering obscenities under my breath as I stomp off in the opposite direction.

I am not asking to be best friends. I don’t want to know what you’re buying your kids for Christmas or what color ornaments you hung on the tree this year. I don’t even want to know whether or not you’re having a good day. All I’d like is the simple acknowledgment that you and I are indeed occupying the same space on this spinning blue marble called earth at this very same moment in time. A nod, a smile, a simple return of my greeting… Is that too much to ask? Hell. I’d even settle for a grunt of recognition. At least then I’d know you had a soul.

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Mini-Resolutions for 2012

With Christmas right around the corner, one’s mind turns to that of the New Year. Now, I have never been one for New Year’s Resolutions… probably because I believe that by actually declaring my plan aloud I am pretty much sealing the deal on whether or not I will succeed. And yes… you guessed it… my rate of success usually winds up being a big, fat ZERO. So why then, would I ever consider ADVERTISING my impending personal failure by confessing my “New Year’s Resolutions” to family, friends and co-workers?

Additionally, it has been said by a good many people that declaring a “New Year’s Resolution” isn’t a great idea anyway. This is often due to the fact that said “Resolution” is ultimately too lofty or too complicated for one to actually achieve. Therefore, as an alternative, it is advisable to set smaller, more attainable ”goals” for oneself.

With the idea of “smaller goals” in mind, I have decided to try something entirely new this year… I am hereby resolving to take a few teensy, tiny, baby-steps toward personal change. Some “Miniature Resolutions” if you will…

1. In the mornings, I hereby resolve to only hit the snooze button 2 times instead of 3. This should get me to work 6 minutes earlier each day, which would result in roughly 1,560 minutes or 26 hours annually that I do not feel rushed… hence significantly limiting my chances of receiving additional traffic tickets that I cannot pay or becoming a perpetrator of road rage and winding up in prison. Therefore: ONE LESS MORNING SNOOZE = ZERO JAIL TIME

2. For the remainder of winter, I hereby resolve to wearing snow boots (no matter how ridiculous I look in them) from my house to the office in order to keep from dragging my feet, socks and bottoms of my dress pants through the wet snow every time I leave for work, therefore eliminating the possibility of frostbite to my lower extremities, leading to inevitable amputation. Therefore: SNOW BOOTS = MAINTAINING THE ABILITY TO WALK UPRIGHT

3. During the workday, I hereby resolve to make the switch to decaf. This should enable me to still enjoy my morning cup of coffee but without completely and totally bouncing off the proverbial walls and acting overtly chipper toward any grumpy, hateful, definitely-not-morning-people-co-workers, thus causing them to cease asking me WHY I have so much freakin’ energy all the time… and possibly even preventing them from conspiring against me. Therefore: DECAF = AVOIDANCE OF OFFICE LYNCHING

4. Regarding my daily 3 p.m. ”Sugar Quest,” I hereby resolve to STOP eating snacks every afternoon whilst sitting at my desk. One snack can run up to roughly 200 calories, totaling 1000 calories weekly or 50,000 calories annually! One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. 50,000 divided by 3,500 equals approximately 14 pounds!! Therefore: ELIMINATING DAILY MUNCHIE-FEST = FITTING MY @$$ INTO A SMALLER PAIR OF JEANS WITHOUT THE USE OF A SHOEHORN

5. With reference to laundry, I hereby resolve to wash, fold and put away my clothing on a weekly basis rather than allowing it to pile up to the point where I cannot find a clean pair of socks or underwear ANYWHERE IN THE HOUSE, thus causing me to do an emergency wash at midnight, losing precious hours of sleep and arriving at any given destination damp, disheveled, wrinkled and cranky with a high probability of rockin’ mismatched socks. Therefore: KEEPING UP WITH THE LAUNDRY = ALWAYS APPEARING DRY, RESTED, WRINKLE-FREE AND WELL ACCESSORIZED

There is no need for a major, ritualistic, annual overhaul of one’s lifestyle or choices. I believe the above examples adequately illustrate the point that even the smallest of changes can quite often lead to BIG results!

By being committed to these 5 minor alterations, it is quite likely that I will indeed transform my entire life. If all goes according to plan, 2013 should find me absent of any sort of criminal record, able to use all TEN of my toes, sufficiently-caffeinated yet amazingly-rested, 14 pounds thinner, less stressed, pressed and well-dressed. Who can find fault with goals like that?

Me… Naughty?

Last December I came home to find a red plaque hanging on my backdoor. It had 4 simple words on it, presumably for Santa. It read: I have been naughty. And I knew right away who the culprit was… it was my dad. He is famous for finding these unique little items that no one has ever seen and then leaving them in surprise places for you to discover.

For example… a few nights earlier… at nearly 11 p.m., I discovered a hobby horse at the top of the ladder up to my loft and it scared the shit out of me! Hobby horses are a joke between my father and me that goes back to elementary school… but that’s another story for another day. Anyway… this hobby horse was just sitting there… silently centered in an obviously very carefully chosen location. It felt just like the sort of thing a killer would leave to let you know he’s there… right before he leaps out of hiding and murders you.

I know, I know… I watch too many movies.

But back to the “naughty” thing… I honestly don’t know where he is coming from telling Santa I’ve been a naughty girl. I mean honestly, I think I am just a misunderstood, passionate person with a unique zest for life who requires a healthy amount of “me” time and who also happens to have a bit of a preoccupation with the macabre.

Dear friends, read the following and tell me…

Is It Wrong To…

1. feel like sleeping until noon everyday and then seriously entertain the idea of doing absolutely nothing after that?

2. expect that radio stations ought to play music instead of combing through the minutia of pervy Herman Cain’s sexcapades as well as the cognitive integrity / mental stability of each of the Republican Party candidates for the entirety of my 20 minute commute into work?

3. yell obscenities (with the windows up of course) or honk the horn at the driver in front of me who doesn’t use his/her turn signal, drives under the legal speed limit, cuts me off, or just doesn’t follow the rules of the road in general?

4. drive 10 MPH in front of someone who has been tailgating me for the last 15 minutes when they can’t pass me because of oncoming traffic and then floor it when they are able to pass me? Oh… and to thoroughly ENJOY this while I am doing it? I mean… absolutely, totally and completely DELIGHT IN IT to the point of drunken giddiness?

5. find joy in feeding the dog peanut butter just so I can watch her try for over an hour to get it all off of the roof of her mouth?

6. fantasize about taking an ice-pick to all of those inflatable Christmas lawn decorations? You know… to every last one of them that I see? Or after I’m finished unleashing my misguided torrent of rage on all of those unsuspecting Santas and Rudolphs… then to consider driving around and actively searching for more in which to slay? Or should I say: sleigh? Get it?

7. continuously assault you, the reader, with bad puns purely for my own enjoyment and simply because I can?

8. wish for a winter storm SO severe, and SO widespread that it knocks out power to everything within a 50-mile radius, making the roads impassable and thus causing everyone to stay inside for days and days with nothing else to do but sleep, read and play UNO, Monopoly, Yahtzee or Scrabble? Or did I mention sleep?

9. insist… when playing Monopoly… on being the banker in order to eventually cheat everyone, dominate the entire game and ultimately win? You know, like bankers do in real life?

10. text message a last-minute decline of attendance AND my sincerest apologies for not making it to the Christmas party / family gathering / function where everyone was expecting me by pulling a “Marcia Brady” and saying that “something suddenly came up” when in actuality I just didn’t “feel” like going because truthfully, I would much rather be outside slaying inflatable Christmas lawn decorations?

See, I don’t particularly think there is anything odd, strange, “twisted,” “sadistic,” “demented” or “naughty” about any of those things… but then again… maybe that’s just me.

Nevertheless… I guess I will find out in less than one month whether or not Santa agrees.

Snooze Buttons and State Troopers

Friday’s post about my excessive “snoozing” and all of the self-professed snoozers that emerged from the closest as a result, made me want to share something I wrote nearly two years ago. And while (as of this writing) I have not been pulled over in a LONG time (knock on wood)… Clearly the snoozing problem has not subsided.

September 2009

OK. It’s official. I’m getting pulled over WAAAY too many times! I’ve been pulled over 3 times now since May. Now, is it me, or is that a wee-bit excessive? Perhaps I REALLY need to try getting out of bed sooner instead of hitting the snooze button so many times that I end up running late for work and speeding the whole way.

I am no longer paranoid that every cop I see in my rearview mirror is going to turn on those humiliating flashing lights and make me pull off to the side of the road so that everyone can see what a loser I am… either for speeding or for getting caught… I am now CERTAIN that every cop I see in my rearview mirror is definitely going to turn on those humiliating flashing lights and make me pull off to the side of the road and dig for my license, registration and insurance.

In May it was for “not sufficiently stopping at a red light” and I was lucky enough to get off with a warning… something my sister still has not forgiven me for since she was once ticketed by the same officer for a lesser offense.

In June I was stopped for doing 59 in a 45… and the State Highway Patrolman clocked me just YARDS away from the 55 MPH road sign. I thought it was 55… really, I did. He ticketed me to the tune of $125… OUCH. But I paid it, and vowed to not get caught speeding again! I couldn’t afford it!

Notice I said: not get CAUGHT speeding again. I did NOT say: NOT SPEED. And so… here we are 3 months later and I guess the sting in my wallet has sufficiently dulled just enough to let my foot grow a little bit heavier and my guard drop just enough that I didn’t even notice the State Trooper’s car peeking out of the cornfield until I was half-way through the school zone.

I slow WAAAAAAY down, maybe he didn’t see me. I pass him going about 5 miles an hour… and watch out of my rearview. For a merciful second he does not budge… but then he pulls out. I watch his lights… nothing. I am now going 25 in a 55… maybe he’s just moving on down the road, or going somewhere for a coffee and a donut. Oh crap! There go the lights. This cannot be happening AGAIN!?!?! #@$%!

I wasn’t going THAT fast. I had slowed from 60 MPH to 35 MPH in that 20 MPH school zone. How bad can THAT be?! And it wasn’t as if it was a grade school either, where kids could spontaneously dart out at any second from behind the bushes. It was a high school out in the middle of a cornfield. Surely this is not ticket-worthy. Oh, but he’s going to run my plates and see that I was pulled over 2 other times in the last 5 months.

I am so screwed.

For the first time in my life, I find myself pleading with a cop NOT to give me a ticket. I can’t even stand the idea of becoming one of THOSE girls who tries whining to get out of a ticket, but I CANNOT afford another $100+ ticket!! So… as I’m tossing napkins and CD cases and car manuals out of the glove box, rummaging to find my registration I decide to go for it… I’m going to whine… Here goes… “Officer…” looking up at him with the saddest, most pathetic-without-being-over-the-top expression I can conjure up, I say… “do you HAVE to give me a ticket?” and I hand him my license and registration.

He takes my license and registration and says: “I’ll run your license and if it’s clean, I’ll let you off with a warning.”

I am so screwed.

He’s going to see those other 2 offences I just know it. How could he not?!? Surely it’s in some HUGE database somewhere, along with my other civic sins: The fact that I don’t always recycle. And I don’t always clean up after the dog when she poops in the neighbor’s yard. Now I’ll probably not only owe money for a ticket… but my insurance is going to increase or I’ll get points on my license or something terrible. I am such an awful citizen. I should be put in prison. I call work. I’m going to officially be late if I’m not thrown in jail. He starts back toward my window. I’m gonna be sick. I close my eyes, grip the steering wheel and wince… wait for it. WAIT for it…

He starts to hand me paperwork… “Here’s your license and registration back. I’m just giving you a warning today. Watch your speed in those school zones. Have a good day.” OH! God BLESS you, you dear, sweet State-Trooper-Man!!! I hope Santa puts a little something extra in your stocking this Christmas. Whew! THAT was close!

I drive away saying aloud: thank you, thank YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!! I’ll never speed again. I promise. Hopefully this morning was the LAST time I get pulled over for a LONG, LONG, LONG time… but more importantly… my wake-up call to stop hitting the snooze and GET UP EARLIER…

As for whether or not it will work… well, I’ll have to let you know tomorrow.

Road Rage, Invisible Groundhogs and Hypocrisy

I am a self-professed tailgater. And I’m not referring to the tailgating that occurs before football games around here. I am referring to the riding-other-drivers-asses variety of tailgater.

My dad and Lee both get after me about this A LOT. As well they should. Tailgating is rude and obnoxious, not to mention dangerous. But being the extremely impatient narcissist that I am… I just can’t seem to help myself. I can start out on a trip with the best of intentions and before I know it, I’ve memorized every scratch, dent and ding on the bumper in front of me… and I’ve probably fantasized about ramming into it too.

Yesterday on the way to work I got “brake-checked” by the guy in front of me (YES, an individual I happened to be tailgating at the time) and I had to slam on my brakes because he literally STOPPED in the middle of the road. He didn’t just tap his breaks to warn me that I was beginning to annoy him… He STOPPED… In the middle of a 55 MPH zone! Now, unless he was stopping for a squirrel, cat or groundhog—that I for one did not see—he was clearly sending me the “get-off-my-ass-NOW!” message.

I am well acquainted with this form of non-verbal, vehicular communication because I am not just your garden-variety tailgater. I am what you might call a “hypocritical tailgater.” I WILL tailgate you… but don’t you DARE tailgate me… or I WILL brake-check you until you get the message.

I feel it also worth mentioning that the guy who brake-checked me today was also a hypocritical tailgater because after he slammed on his brakes for me and resumed his speed… he practically crawled up the tailpipe of the guy in front of him. I must have been in a fairly decent mood because after re-securing all of my belongings back into the passenger seat from the floor to which they had fallen at the time of the aforementioned brake-check incident… I laughed. HARD.

I just laughed and laughed and backed the hell off. I got his message LOUD AND CLEAR. And maybe, just maybe, I secretly hoped that the driver whose tailpipe the break-checking-hypocritical-tailgater was currently sucking on would also stop suddenly in the middle of the road for an invisible squirrel, cat or groundhog… and well, you know the rest.

Mornin’ Sunshine

Yesterday morning I got stuck behind this ridiculously-slow-moving truck on the way to work and was so frustrated I could spit nails. I HATE slow-moving traffic. I LOATHE slow-moving traffic. I have no patience and no tolerance for it. In fact, one day it is probably going to cause me to stroke out behind the wheel. OK, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point.

I know I’ve said it before, but I firmly believe that anyone who is going to drive under the legally posted speed limit should restrict their travel to between midnight and 4 a.m. That way they are less likely to interfere with people who ACTUALLY HAVE TO BE SOMEWHERE… And quite frankly they will annoy fewer people. If they cannot adhere to the midnight and 4 a.m. rule, then the absolute least they could do is not travel between the hours of 5 a.m.- 9 a.m. Is this too much to ask?

However, since these restrictions are not yet LAWS… there is little I can do about it except complain, fume, roll my eyes, slam my hands against the steering wheel and call the driver of said slow-moving vehicle all sorts of nasty names while performing obscene hand gestures beneath the dashboard 1. so as not to incite road rage and/or get myself killed and 2. because I haven’t got the balls to do this above the dashboard where the offending motorist might actually see and identify me. But yesterday morning was a little bit of a different story.

Because of the aforementioned ridiculously-slow-moving-truck, I had the opportunity to meet the sunrise. While trapped behind the giant snail, I began to notice the tops of the brightly-lit, green trees and golden-tassled corn. My surroundings on the road down below were all a greenish-grey… but higher up on the horizon everything was brilliant blue, green and gold. And since I now had the time to watch this lovely scene unfold in front of me… thanks to Pokey-The-Passive-Pick-Up-Driver (jerk)… I decided to enjoy it.

Gradually, as the sun rose higher and higher in the East, the color spread down through the trees, illuminating more and more of the landscape. It was like being on the inside of a blank canvas while it was being washed with color. At one point it felt like I was driving through a glowing green tunnel as tall, mature maples guarded both sides of the highway. It was stunning. Little by little everything sprang to life as a promising new day began!

And before I knew it, I had stopped screaming, put both hands back on the wheel and forgotten ALL about the sluggish vehicle in front of me—probably because by now I had run it off the road and it was lying upside down in a ditch, wheels still spinning—but that’s another story for another day.

So, I would just like to close by saying: I guess there really IS some validity to the statement: “Take time to enjoy the scenery.” I would just prefer to enjoy the scenery… while traveling at least 65 miles per hour.

A Life of Convenience?

I bit the head off of the girl at the Circle K convenience store yesterday morning. OK, I didn’t bite it completely OFF… but I’m not gonna lie… I did leave a mark. In all seriousness, I snapped because she didn’t have Cherry Pop Tarts AND she couldn’t do a cash-back transaction at her register, which would have enabled me to purchase future Cherry Pop Tarts out of a vending machine on campus.

Upon realizing what I’d done in showing her my “dark side,” I immediately and profusely apologized to her and said that I was having a terrible, horrible, awful, no good, very bad day and it was barely 8 a.m. And then I said that I hoped that SHE had a great day today (extra emphasis on GREAT)… and I smiled just a bit too wide to show her HOW MUCH I meant it.

I settled on some strawberry pop-tarts instead and drove to work like Andretti on crack. As I drove, I began pondering the potential speed bumps in the life of the Convenience Store Clerk (bad pun intended). Please understand, I mean no disrespect to anyone who currently is or has been a convenience store clerk. Nor do I mean to offend anyone who knows or loves a convenience store clerk. I am merely presenting my take on why I think THIS particular profession would be a toughie.

  • Creatures of the Night – You most likely work odd hours and therefore interact with odd people. Aside from shift-workers, I personally don’t want to know who is roaming about at 4 a.m. in desperate search of a Twinkie, a Ho-Ho or a slushie… nor do I want to know why.
  • Twinkies and Ho-Ho’s – You deal largely with people who either ARE Twinkies and Ho-Ho’s or whose diets consist largely thereof.
  • Midnight Heist  – You probably live in consistent fear of the “hold-up” for the “less than $50” you carry in your drawer. Anyone else ever notice the 7-foot, vertical rulers framing the entrance and exit doors and how the place is lousy with not-so-cleverly-hidden cameras?
  • Lotto Lady – You have to put up with the daily blue-haired ladies who insist upon scratching their scratch-offs AT the counter (despite the ever-growing line of impatient customers chomping at the bit behind them) and if they win even one freakin’ dollar, they will use it to buy yet another scratch-off from you and continue standing there while they scratch that one too. This cycle could continue indefinitely perhaps taking up the better part of an afternoon.
  • The Conversationalist – Every store has at least one of these losers who are clearly one-can-shy-of-a-six-pack and they love, LOVE, LOVE to hang around and talk to you… about everything. And where can you go? Nowhere. Even though you are clearly NOT interested OR listening, they’ll talk about the weather… about their sister spending 2 hours straightening her hair every morning…  about their mother’s psycho ex-boyfiend and a detailed account on why he belongs in prison… about the government’s conspiracy to monitor our every move through jars of Jif peanut butter… and about Stella—their goldfish—and her third nipple.
  • Road Warriors – If your store happens to be attached to a gas station (which they often are) you inevitably deal with a vast amount of misguided wrath over the current price of gasoline.
  • Tobacco and Booze Police – Anytime after 2 p.m., on top of doing your regular work, you must be hyper-vigilant in your efforts to keep illegal substances out of the backpacks, pockets and coats of minors and/or would-be thugs.
  • Breakfast of Champions – Each morning there is a decent possibility that you will be greeted by an angry, I-hate-mornings and the-world-revolves-around-me bitch, running late for work, who throws a fit when you run out of cherry pop-tarts.