What I’ve Learned Working a Year at the Bank

It’s been a year since I started working at the bank and a lot has happened in that time. There have been ups and downs, good times and bad, from the time I stepped out of my comfort zone, took some initiative, and stopped someone from stealing a pen, to the time my wife was out of town and all I took for lunch was a single slice of turkey in a Tupperware container. I actually can’t believe that it’s been a year already, because it really doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, but in the short time that I’ve been employed here, I’m fortunate to have learned some valuable lessons that I’ll be able to carry with me throughout the rest of my life. Maybe you too could benefit from what I’ve learned, so today, that’s what I’m going to share with you.
To start with, I’ll let you in on a little secret that I learned fairly quickly after starting my employment here; there is a huge quality difference in keeping your lunch in the break room refrigerator or leaving it in the car. Maybe you’re an intelligent human being with common sense who already knows this seemingly obvious fact, but if not, learn from my mistake, because believe me when I say that there are few things in this world than lasagna that has been sitting out in the hot car for five hours. Try as I might, I still can’t shake the disgusting smell of the Ricotta cheese that seems to have taken up permanent residency in my nasal canal. Maybe the rule only applies to lasagna, but after that devastating experience, I haven’t been willing to risk it with anything else, so I’ve been playing it safe and keeping my lunch in the break room fridge, and I would highly suggest you do the same.
Another very important thing I learned working at the bank, is not to be intimidated by angry people. For as long as I can remember, I’ve never really liked confrontation. The only exception is the structured debates I did in high school, but we weren’t actually mad at each other and arguing about anything significant, but in the real world, away from the comfortable confines of a classroom, I’ve always hated heated arguments or when people are unhappy with me. I don’t know why I was like that, but whenever someone is upset or mad at me, even if it’s completely unjustified, I would feel awful about it, but now I’ve learned to take it in stride. When the inevitable happens and someone gets upset with me for something outside of my control, even when they act irrational and yell, I don’t let it bother me. I do my job and smile, and let their irrationality roll off my shoulders, content in knowing that I’ll have a good story to laugh about later. I’ve learned to not worry about when someone is upset with me about something that I can’t control, because there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it, so there’s no sense in worrying about it.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, I’ve learned to appreciate my job. I may not love it all the time, and it may not give me a sense of fulfillment at the end of the day, but I’m thankful for it nonetheless. It’s the best job in terms of pay and benefits that I’ve ever had, so while it may not be the most exciting thing in the world, it’s a reliable job, one that a lot of people would probably love to have, so I’ve learned to appreciate that and not take it for granted. If you have a job, any job, be thankful for it, because there’s a lot of people in the world that can’t find work and would love a job like the one you or I have. So that’s what I’ve learned working at the bank for a year, and perhaps you’ve learned something from my experiences too. I’m not sure what the coming year holds, but I’m hoping that I continue to learn and to grow no matter what I’m doing.


The Car Crash

My vehicles have been in two wrecks in my life, and I haven’t been in the car for either of them. The first one happened a little more than six years ago on December 21, 2011. I remember the date because it’s when my last name was officially changed to my birth name, Curtis. I was in downtown Little Rock at the courthouse to pick up the official papers signed by the judge, and so we wouldn’t have to pay for parking, my younger brother was just going to drive around the block while I went in and got the papers and would pick me up back out front in about five minutes. In the span of a few minutes, my brother managed to wreck the car. Luckily nobody was hurt, but my Ford Explorer Sport was never the same again because the drivers side door was smashed in and could open less than a quarter of the way making it difficult to get in. That car is long gone and years have passed without a car accident, but last night, my Honda CRV was in an accident.
It was nearing six o’clock and the sun had been down for nearly an hour. The temperature had dropped significantly and what little ice and snow had been melted from the road in the light of day was frozen once again. My wife and I had been at the store doing our grocery shopping. Because of the winter weather and slick roads we had been putting it off for several days, but with nothing left to eat for lunch or breakfast in the apartment, it was time to go to the store, ready or not. We were on the way home, which is only about a five minute drive from the store, when I decided to stop for gas so that I wouldn’t have to leave earlier for work the following morning to allow myself extra time to stop. It was the Shell station, a place I’d visited many times over the year and a half that we lived in Memphis since it’s the closest gas station to where we live, but despite the familiarity, I never could have predicted what would happen when I pulled up to pump nine and exited the vehicle.
I popped the gas cap and went into the gas station to get a Peace Tea and pay for the gas, leaving my wife alone in the car. If I could do things differently I would have insisted she come inside with me so she wouldn’t have been in the car when it happened, but at the time I had no idea what was coming without the benefit of hindsight, so I didn’t even think twice about her staying in the car. As I exited the Shell station, drink in hand, I heard the distressed honking of a car followed by a loud thud as one car collided with another, directly in front of pump nine. I looked at my wife who was still sitting in the passengers seat and she held her hands up in disbelief, angry at the stupidity of the driver that just backed into my car. At least she wasn’t hurt. The car pulled away from mine and back into the parking spot in front of the gas station that it had just backed out of. The driver got out of the car, and while laughing, said, “I think I just hit your car.”
I didn’t know why she was laughing but it made me kind of mad that someone could react to hitting another person’s car so flippantly. As I walked over to survey the damage, I refrained from using the word idiot at all, and only nodded a silent yea, afraid my words would betray my civility. To be clear, I’m okay with a legitimate car “accident,” but when it’s due to complete negligence, where the other driver just isn’t paying attention, I’m far less understanding, and that’s what this was. There wasn’t any ice on the ground between where the other driver was parked and the gas pump where my CRV sat. My wife said the car just started backing straight up and didn’t turn their wheel at all so that there was nowhere to go but straight into our car. My wife, from the passenger seat reached over and tried to honk a warning, but it was too late. Luckily there wasn’t any noticeable damage on our car so we let the other driver go without calling the police or anything, but it could have been a lot worse. Whatever the weather is, make sure that you pay attention and drive with caution, whether you’re driving down the interstate or just backing out of a parking space.

Worst Baked Potato Ever

I normally don’t make a habit of complaining about free food. If someone wants to give me something to eat, they usually either took the time to make it or spent their money on it, so it would be pretty rude to talk about how bad it is, but what if there is something so terrible that you just can’t keep quiet about? It would be an injustice to society not to warn the people about my lunch yesterday, even if I didn’t pay for it myself. It snowed yesterday, and it was a painstaking, not to mention dangerous, driving to work, but we were going to be opened for a few hours, so as a thank you for risking our lives to service the few customers who actually came to the bank in the hours that we were opened yesterday, the company bought us lunch, which seems like a pretty even tradeoff.
Since the roads were in terrible condition, our only option for lunch was McAllister’s Deli because it’s located in an adjoining parking lot to the bank. So my choices were either soup, sandwich, or baked potato, and even though soup sounded perfect given the sub-freezing temperatures outside, I was pretty hungry and didn’t feel that soup was adequately satisfy that hunger, so it narrowed down to sandwich or baked potato. I don’t go to McAllister’s often, but when I do, I usually get a sandwich and they’re generally pretty good, albeit nothing special, but I suppose I was feeling adventurous yesterday, so when my eyes scanned across the description for the Spud Ole’, a giant baked potato topped with chili, cheese and jalapenos, I knew that’s what I wanted.
In my experience, it’s pretty difficult to mess up a baked potato. You bake a potato in the oven, which is pretty straight forward, then you top it with delicious ingredients, and voila, you’ve got a fantastic meal, but apparently that’s too much for McAllister’s to handle, because the Spud Ole’ was one of the most all around disappointing meals I’ve ever had for a couple of reasons. First, I’m sure we can all agree that baked potatoes are best served hot, correct? I’ve never known anyone to intentionally serve cold potatoes of any variety, so I don’t know if McAlister’s was trying something new and edgy, but the Spud Ole’ wasn’t even warm. If the potato was in fact baked, it was done so many hours before being given to me. Yes, it was cold outside, but I find it very hard to believe that in the short distance from the restaurant to the car, my food became that cold. If I had been stranded on an island and was starving to death, then perhaps I would’ve eaten the potato, but since it wasn’t necessary to my survival, I didn’t eat very much of it at lunch, deciding I would take it home and reheat it for later, so then it would be edible.
Later last night I popped the potato in the microwave for a couple minutes, thinking that the lack of heat was the sole problem with the potato, but sadly, I was mistaken. The toppings just weren’t very good either. The chili meat had a kind of gritty texture to it, making me wish I’d gotten something else, or better yet, something from a different restaurant altogether. The bad news is that I ended up throwing most of the baked potato away, but the good news is, I was enlightened to the mediocrity of the Spud Ole’ from McAllister’s, plus I learned something new, that it is possible to screw up a baked potato. I’m not going to swear off McAllister’s forever or anything, but I don’t think I’ll be getting another baked potato from there any time soon, if ever again.

Flight of the Guinea Pig

It seems like just about everybody I know, has had a pet at one point or another in their life. Some had dogs, others had cats, still others had fish, or in the case of my youngest brother Landon, you had all of them. Pets are great from the responsibility they teach to the loyal friendship and love that they give, it’s a wonderful thing that I hope everyone has the chance to experience at some point. For me personally, dogs are my pet of choice and I think I’ll probably have one for the rest of my life because while yes, they can be incredibly annoying sometimes, like when you’re trying to take them outside to use the bathroom and instead of running to me like they do my wife, they take off into the bedroom and hide under the bed, at the end of the day I really like them and our apartment would feel empty without them. I feel that way about dogs, but my cousin Bailey, felt that way about a guinea pig, which if you’re unfamiliar with the species, is a kind of cross between a miniature rabbit and a large rat. If I’d gone my whole life without ever having seen one of these furry things with its creepy, beady eyes, I would have lived a complete and fulfilling life, but the gods had other plans, and my aunt Kathryn allowed Bailey to get a guinea pig, and they named her Genevieve.
Before I tell you what I did, I want you to understand that I like animals and would never intentionally do anything to hurt them. That being said, I threw my cousin’s guinea pig, Genevieve, onto the ground. I should explain so you don’t get the wrong idea and get PETA involved, because there’s really no need for that. I was visiting their house when they lived in Memphis, something I always enjoyed doing when I was in town. It was the first time I’d met the guinea pig, Genevieve, and I was understandably terrified of the thing. I don’t know whether it was the soul piercing eyes, the excessive furriness of it, or the high pitched squeal it would emit when it was hungry or wanted attention, or perhaps it was a combination of all these things, but I was not a Genevieve fan from the beginning. Still I wouldn’t intentionally hurt her.
On the day the unfortunate incident occurred we were enjoying the afternoon, hanging out playing video games and watching TV. I remember the sun coming in through the windows and hitting me as I sat on the very comfortable couch. Some afternoons are begging for a nap, and this was one of them. I imagine I resisted as we watched “Burt the Conqueror” not wanting to miss any of the hilarity, but eventually my eyelids became unbearably heavy and I could resist no longer, so I fell asleep, there on the couch. Since I was asleep at the time, I can’t say for certain what happened in the time between dozing off and waking up, but somehow, Genevieve ended up in my arms. I imagine Bailey thought it would be funny to do, given my fear of the guinea pig, but she never anticipated what would happen next. Feeling the furry rat bunny on me was enough to jolt me from my slumber and bring me forcefully to my feet so I could defend myself against the great beast. It was completely inadvertent, and accident born of momentum, but as I stood, I reflexively swatted my arm at what I felt on me and sent Genevieve falling to the floor, screeching all the way. I felt terrible, because even though I didn’t like the guinea pig, it was still a living creature, and was important to my cousin. I would like to tell you that after it was all over, Genevieve and I made up and became friends. Sure I would still act like I was scared of her, but deep down I would have a soft spot for the guinea pig. That would make me a liar, because the truth is, we never made up and I don’t know if she ever forgave me because after that we were estranged for years, and then she died. You always think there will be enough time to eventually make things right, but you never know when a life will tragically end. Rest in Peace Genevieve, you will be missed…not by me admittedly, but probably by someone.

Observations in a Bookstore

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved bookstores. Sometimes when my dad came to visit me as a child, we would go to the Barnes & Noble in Little Rock and spend hours there. We had nowhere to be, and were content to spend an afternoon lost in another world. Sometimes we would sit together at the little table and chairs in the children’s section and he would read stores to me, and sometimes we would pick out books to read on our own before retiring to the comfortable, overstuffed armchairs hidden in nooks and crannies of the big bookstore. It was great, but I’ve come to realize that while that was something I used to love doing, it’s not something I’ve done in a very long time. I can still spend a good amount of time in the bookstore, but all of that time is spent browsing, not sitting around reading or just observing what is going on around me, because as an adult, that goes against most everything else I am programmed to do. We’re taught to be efficient, not idle or wasting time, so if you’re in the bookstore, you should be making the most of that time, looking for books to purchase, not just sitting in a comfortable chair being content with your life at that very moment, but today I went to Barnes & Noble, and decided to change that. 

My brothers and I went to the bookstore this morning because they were in town visiting, and we were looking for something to do, and since it was very cold outside and we all love books, so we decided Barnes & Noble was the place to be. Upon entering we all split off, I towards the new releases just to the left of the entrance and my brothers to I don’t know because I wasn’t with them. I browsed for a while, falling into my regular routine of finding interesting books and taking pictures of them so I could search for cheaper copies later online. I’m the reason bookstores keep closing. After a while, out of the corner of my eye,  I noticed that one of the big comfortable chairs over in front of the windows was vacant, and as if being pulled by some outside force, I found myself being drawn in towards the chair. I sat down and was immediately engulfed in comfort, instantly taken back to a simpler time. I didn’t grab anything to read, because once I saw that the seat was open, I knew that I had to make my move immediately since those seats are a coveted luxury at the bookstore, and taking time to find a book would cause me to miss my opportunity. 

There were people in the chairs on either side of me, both with books that they weren’t really reading. Despite the fact that they had something to read, that they themselves had selected from the thousands of books in the store, both people were completely immersed in the cell phones they were holding. It seemed a little sad, because while cell phones have completely changed our lives, mostly for the better, they distract us from the little things that we used to love. I spent years sitting in chairs at the bookstore without having to have a phone in my hand, and was completely happy, but now it seems, at least from my observations, that people are no longer content just to read. I fantasized about a life where I could come to the bookstore every day. I could come first thing in the morning and get a cup of coffee and a croissant for breakfast, then find a book that interested me before retiring to my corner to read the day away. It sounds nice, but then again would it become too routine, the daily monotony of it all, making me grow to loathe it? I really don’t know, but I’m not going to be in danger of that anytime soon because I have a real job to go to, but maybe one day I’ll be able to try a new way of living, where the bookstore is the focal point of my day. There’s so much to learn, so much to read. Until then, I’ll make an effort to go back every once and a while and spend some time sitting in a big, comfortable chair, lost in a book, just enjoying life. 

The Stupidest Commercials in the World

Does anybody like commercials? Sure, some are funny every once in a while, most notably during the Super Bowl, but for the most part, the other 364 days of the year, commercials are more often than not, either annoying or unmemorable. You might be thinking, probably like many advertisers, that if commercials are annoying, then at least you will remember them, so that when it comes time to buy a certain product that they sell, you will subliminally think of them, only remembering the company name and not the stupid advertisement that they subjected you to during the two hour season premier of Survivor, Kong Island. I disagree, because for me, when I see a particularly stupid commercial, of which there are many, I do remember those companies, making a mental note to avoid them at all costs, because I don’t want to appear stupid by association. Commercials are a part of our every day lives, whenever we turn on the TV, whether it be for the local news or the nightly celebrity gossip show on TMZ, we are bombarded with advertisements, so it would take me a ridiculous amount of time to go through and talk about all of the commercials that I hate, and what I hate about them, so I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of my least favorite for now, and perhaps I’ll revisit the topic in the future if I’m feeling particularly annoyed by the idiocy being force-fed to me.

Given that I live in Memphis, the home of AutoZone, I should probably try and not talk bad about them because of all the great things the do for the community and the city, and the truth is, I don’t have a particular problem with AutoZone as a company, but I absolutely can’t stand the guy in their commercials. I’m not one to normally judge somebody based on physical appearance, but the spokesman for AutoZone, actor Mike Beaver, is the one exception I’m willing to make, because his appearance alone looks so unnatural that my blood pressure starts to rise as I seethe with hate from my living room couch. I have a hard time believing that he actually looks the way he is portrayed in the commercial because he looks so unnatural, which leads me to believe that AutoZone is tampering with his appearance to make him look less appealing, trying to cater to your average Joe American. You don’t even have to look closely to see that it definitely looks like he has something under his shirt, and I’ve been overweight long enough to know that it isn’t fat. I think that AutoZone is stuffing something under his shirt, causing him to appear overweight so that people that look like that, a large portion of the country, will want to buy their products, which is insulting. If you’re that stupid to believe that someone is trustworthy just because they look like you, then have fun shopping at AutoZone, but I for one, will not be marching with the rest of the herd, because looking at Mike Beaver makes me want to take all my business over to O’Reilly Auto Parts.

My absolute least favorite TV commercials are the advertisements for Ford trucks. I’ve never been a big truck guy, but after seeing these ridiculous commercials, I can say with complete certainty that I never will be. The geniuses at Ford really know how to pander to their audience of insecure customers who feel the need to stroke their ego by having a bigger vehicle than everybody else, but for the rest of us, it’s just plain stupid. Words like TORQUE, STRENGTH, HORSEPOWER, and TOUGH are thrown up on the screen at random intervals in big, bold letters, the subliminal message perfectly tuned to the eyes of the insecure. A lot of the commercials are about towing, and I don’t know about you, but the only time I’ve ever needed a vehicle that could tow a lot of weight, was when my own vehicle was stuck, which is why I call a tow driver. A lot of these Ford commercials show their big, manly trucks towing airplanes, which doesn’t really make much sense. Did your plane get stuck in a ditch? If you can afford a commercial airplane, then why would you need to tow it around. Surely you can pay somebody else, maybe a maintenance worker or somebody else, to get your Boeing to the tarmac in time for takeoff. What kind of person sees a truck towing an airplane and thinks to themselves, “I could really use something like that?” These advertisers must think we’re really stupid, and I suppose some people are, because every few months there’s a new commercial shoved in our faces conveying the sentiment that the peak of masculinity is owning a Ford pickup truck.

While those are two of my least favorite commercials, there are so many more that annoy me to my very core, so I’m sure I’ll find it fitting at some point in the future to share with you some others. Blogging is a lot cheaper than therapy. f150 towing airplane

Braving the Icy Roads

After hours of snow and ice falling down, it’s usually advised, especially in a town like Memphis that doesn’t have the same kind of firepower to combat the winter weather on the roads like cities up north where it is more common, that you shouldn’t drive unless you have to. By staying at home and off the roads altogether, you completely eliminate the risk of having a car accident from sliding on the slick ice and losing complete control of your vehicle. While it’s encouraged that you don’t attempt driving unless it’s absolutely necessary, it is much more dangerous doing so at night when you can’t see all the patches of ice on the road, but about 7:30 last night, my wife and I pulled out of our apartment’s parking lot and onto the dark, frozen streets of the city, with one goal in mind, finding something to eat.

It’s not that we didn’t have anything to eat at home, because we did, but sometimes cooking is the last thing you want to do, so we figured we’d go somewhere near the house and pick up something to eat. We’d been home all day, both of the companies my wife and I work for were closed due to the weather, and by the time night descended on us, we were getting restless and just felt like getting out of the house for a little while. The plan was to go to Subway, which is one of the closest fast food places to where we live, a journey that would only require us driving down one back road where there wouldn’t be much traffic if any and then we’d arrive at the sandwich shop, eating fresh within a couple of minutes. The road leading to Subway goes downhill and has a couple of turns, so I took it very slow, careful for the story of my death not include the words “on his way to Subway,” and all of a sudden the strip of businesses came into view, one of which was the sandwich shop, and to our dismay, all of the lights were off, closed due to the weather.

The other place close to us is Popeyes, and that actually sounded better to me than Subway, so I took a right and started driving toward the chicken restaurant. We were on a street that was a little bit busier at this point, surrounded by streetlights which cast a bright yellow light on the snowy ground below, giving the appearance that all of the dogs in the world had decided to pee in that exact spot. There’s a saying or creed that the Postal Service abides by saying that “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” which is nice, but apparently not a sentiment shared by the Louisiana based fried chicken company known as Popeyes, because they too were closed, which was unfortunate because spicy chicken was really starting to sound good. My wife and I agreed that we didn’t even care what we got to eat at this point, but would settle for whatever was opened, if anything was actually opened. We drove on.

I’m more open to eat McDonald’s for dinner ever since they started their all day breakfast, which is obviously the highlight of that particular fast food establishment, so when I saw the golden arches in the distance, I didn’t exactly hate the idea of stopping there. With cars in the parking lot, they were obviously open, so we pulled into the drive thru, but instead of asking what we would like, or how she could help us, the person on the other side of the speaker only said that their system was down. They could only accept cash, which neither my wife or I had, so I told the voice goodbye and left the McDonald’s, growing hungrier by the minute. A little ways up the road we pulled into a Taco Bell that was open, which probably would have been my first choice that night had it not been so far from our apartment, but somehow we’d made it that far and I couldn’t have been happier. The systems at Taco Bell were up and running so we placed our order and before long were turning out of the parking lot and on our way home. I made sure to drive extra carefully on the drive back, because while dying on the way to Subway would be terrible, dying with uneaten Taco Bell would probably be the worst way to go.