A Misunderstanding at Work

IMG_4260I just got chased out of the tallest building in Memphis and yelled at by a police officer as soon as I got outside. It came as a shock, but really it’s my fault that it happened, so I guess I shouldn’t have been that surprised. I guess an explanation is probably warranted here, but give me a minute to compose myself after what I just went through, because it wasn’t easy. *Deep breath in….deep breath out. Deep breath in….deep breath out* Okay, let’s get this over with. This morning started out like a typical day, waking up to the sounds of something scratching the inside of my wall, while I say a quick thank you to my guardian angel for not letting the nuisance claw its way through the wall and kill me in my sleep. Today at work, the theme was Nerd Day Thursday, the fourth themed day in our associate appreciation week, so I started scavenging my closet searching for something, anything to wear that would make me look nerdy, which I found to be difficult, not because I don’t have anything that would be considered nerdy, but because I feel that most of what I wear to work on a daily basis makes me look like a dork, so I needed to look for something that would make me look more nerdy than usual, lest I look like I just showed up for a regular day of work.

I couldn’t really find anything extra nerdy, like a hat with a propeller or some suspenders or really short pants, so I settled on making the most of what I had, and just buttoned up my collared polo style shirt all the way to the top button. To complete the ensemble I wore the most dorky shoes that I own, crocs, but not just the regular ugly looking crocs, but the kind with the fur inside them like they’re house shoes or something. I absolutely love them. All in all the outfit wasn’t all that nerdy, but there was one more thing that I added, thanks to an idea by one of my coworkers when we were talking about what to wear the other day. She suggested I wear a sign that said “kick me” which is really the most textbook nerdy thing you can wear, so I pinned a piece of printer paper with those two words written in sharpie pen on it, to the back of my shirt, which turned out to be a disaster. It wasn’t pinned on straight so the paper got flipped up at one point and when I sat down in my car to come to work, it tried to fall back down but my back pinned it to the seat before it fell all the way down and pressed it sideways up against the seat where it stayed my entire commute. By the time I got to work it was all crinkled and wrinkled and completely unacceptable, which wouldn’t have bothered me whatsoever if I hadn’t been able to feel it through my shirt sticking up at an awkward angle. I asked Kisha to take it off of me, because as much as I willed myself to be able to reach around my back and unhook the tiny pin that was stuck through both my paper and the shirt, I just couldn’t do it.

She didn’t just take the old sign off, but decided to help me out and make me a new sign, this one written in thick black marker so it would be easily visible to everyone who caught a glimpse of my back. This one said “Kick me. I’m a nerd.” A little harsher than my sign, outright proclaiming me as a nerd, but at least I still had the most crucial part of my outfit and it was all in fun. Customers who came into the bank and caught a glimpse of my back would often snicker, and subtly ask my coworkers who had put it on my back, like they were all in on the joke of me being called a nerd, none of them actually having the heart or decency to tell me that something mean about me was written on my back. At least now I know which customers I can trust, absolutely nobody. When people stopped coming into the bank, I seized the opportunity to go out to my car to retrieve something I’d forgotten this morning. I walked out of the bank then out of the building to the parking lot, and just as I started walking towards my car, somebody burst through the doors, having chased me out of the building, call after me, “Sir! Sir!” I don’t know that anyone has ever called me sir before, so I was a little taken aback, first looking behind me expecting to see someone much more worthy of the title in the parking lot, but she was apparently talking to me. She put her hand on my shoulder, and with sad eyes told me that there was something on my back. By this point in the day I had completely forgotten that I was even wearing the sign since so much time had passed without it being mentioned, but here I was in the parking lot where I work with a good Samaritan feeling sorry for me, the nerd boy.

She told me that she would take the sign off, bless her, but I explained that it was intentional, that the bank where I worked was having a nerd themed day today and the sign was just part of my outfit. She walked away disappointedly, like she wishes I could have been bullied so she could step in and save the day. “I’m so sorry for being fine!”, I wanted to yell at her but I didn’t, I was on a mission to get something out of my car. I turned around and began walking again. “You’ve got something on your back!”, was shouted at me as I walked past three police cars that were parked to my right. I briefly explained about the themed day at the bank and it was all part of the costume, which became tiresome and unbearable to me midway through the explanation. He cracked a couple of unfunny jokes that I didn’t bother to remember. He was nice enough but I broke away as soon as I could to get what I needed from my car. One other person stopped me on my way back in to inform me about the sign, the building’s security guard, which is nice to know that he’s literally got my back, but I told my story once again and went back inside the shelter of the bank where I didn’t have to explain myself to every person I saw. Given the fact that I was worried about leaving for lunch and forgetting about it again, I asked Jalisa to take the sign off my back once and for all, so at least I won’t have to worry about explaining it to anyone else for the rest of the day. The only downside is I actually look like a dork with my normal work clothes and my fuzzy crocs on my feet, and now without the sign nobody is going to say anything to me about it and I won’t have an opportunity to explain myself. I can’t ever win.

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A Long Hot Walk to the Dealership

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You know how when your old car starts showing signs of nearing the end of its life you start considering the idea of getting a new one? You probably start the search online and find out exactly the kind of car you want, and then you hit the dealerships and used car lots in your area in search of the best deals on that perfect car. That’s not how it happened for me. From the time I bought my 1994 Honda Civic it was pretty clear that I was going to need a new car. The front drivers side was dented with the headlight smashed out, not to mention that there was no air conditioning, which might not have been a problem in Antarctica, but I was living in Florida, the sunshine state where even the state flag is drenched in sweat, but hey, it got great gas mileage. That car was a constant source of pain, breaking down every couple of weeks in the parking lot of a grocery store or the office, never letting me forget what a terrible decision I made it making that purchase, but eventually enough was enough and it was time to get a more reliable car, one that we wouldn’t hesitate to take out on the highway for fear of splintering into a million little pieces as soon as the speedometer hit fifty.

I wanted an SUV so soon we had our choices down to a Nissan Rogue or a Honda CR-V. I really liked the rogue, but it was a little more expensive than the Honda, and my wife’s brother, the car guy, continuously recommended the Honda, saying it was the only kind of car he would ever drive. He drives a Subaru now, but we trusted him at the time and decided that the CR-V would be the car for us. We went around to a few of the dealerships in the area, searching for a low mileage model that it was in our price range, and one Tuesday night, we found our car. We had driven to the dealership in my mother in law’s car because my Honda Civic was acting up that month, and given that we didn’t have a driving car, we were pretty thrilled to find the car that we wanted within our price range, so we talked with the sales people for a while, got screwed over a few times, and finally had a deal for us to purchase the car. It was exciting, what I imagine most people feel like when their kids finally move out of the house, but since we wouldn’t have the money until the following day, I was going to come back the next morning to fill out the paperwork and pick up the new car. If only it had been that easy.

The next morning I woke up full of hope and excited to go pick up the new car. The plan was for me to drive my beat up old civic which would be traded in to help cover the cost of sales tax, and I would be driving the CR-V home. We lived just a couple of miles from the dealership, so despite the problems the civic had been having since the time I bough it, I thought surely it would be able to make the short drive to the car lot where it would then become somebody else’s problem. I was wrong. Before I even pulled out onto the main road, smoke started pouring out of both ends of the car, one last kick in the face to remind me what a piece of crap that Honda civic was. There was no way it was going to make it to the dealership, so I drove it back home and I started walking. Walking down the side of a two way highway isn’t always the most fun experience of a lifetime, but sometimes you have no other choice. By the time I arrived at the car dealership I was drenched in sweat and feeling very tired, but at least I hadn’t been ru over on the way to get the new car. I signed the paperwork and was on my way back home in the CR-V before too long, but that experience is one that will stick with me for a very long time.

Three Creative Ways to Reuse Your Solar Eclipse Glasses

IMG_4133Now that the solar eclipse is over we can go back to living our everyday lives and not caring at all about the solar system or our magnificently complex and miraculous universe at all. Now that the event is over, I’m here to save the day by offering up some suggestions for reusing your solar eclipse glasses. Since you’ve already spent the money on them, it would be wasteful and irresponsible to just throw the glasses away, and right now you are probably thinking to yourself that most people didn’t spend more than five dollars on the glasses, so what’s the big deal? First of all, if that’s how you feel, like throwing away five dollars is insignificant then please, by all means, mail me five dollars, because you obviously don’t need it anyway. Secondly, I know for a fact that a lot of people spent quite a bit more money to procure their glasses, especially yesterday on the day of the event, when they were getting desperate to find some, lest they be a complete failure and disappointment to their kids who had been looking forward to watching the eclipse for nearly three days after they heard about it from their bratty know-it-all “friend” that he sits next to in kindergarten. My wife works at the zoo and she told me a shocking number of adults, people who had survived more than twenty years of life, which is pretty miraculous given their stupidity in decision making, were paying the price of admission to the zoo for a pair of the solar eclipse glasses, which believe it or not, is not the dumbest part of the story. They didn’t even go into the zoo. They paid for a ticket at the front gate, got their precious flimsy cardboard glasses and left. Whether you were one of those people, spending way too much money on a cheap set of glasses, or you were more prepared, those of you who planned ahead and bought the glasses in advance, this blog is dedicated to you and helping you find a fun and useful purpose for your eclipse glasses now that the big event is over.

Recycling or reusing something so as not to waste it is not a new concept, but I do believe this is the first time in the history of the world that we have had to look for ways to repurpose solar eclipse glasses, so I guess I’m kind of like a pioneer in a way. You can call me Lewis Anne Clark, although I don’t really care for the feminine middle name given to him. You know how kids are just ungrateful little demons these days? Well with my new plan for your old eclipse glasses your kids will not only be the most thankful and appreciative humans on the planet, but they will also worship you and see you as their hero forever. Let me explain. First, this plan can only be started on a newborn baby, so if you choose this option, let’s call it option A, you need to go ahead and either become pregnant yourself or get somebody pregnant. If you’re already expecting a child that’s even better since you’ve already come to terms with the fact that your life is over and therefore might be more likely to do something irrational and desperate, like trying this incredible plan.

First things first, you’re going to need the glasses and a full role of duct tape in the delivery room with you as soon as your child comes into this world. Before he or she can open their little baby eyes, you’re going to tape the glasses firmly to the face of your child, thus covering the baby’s eyes so he or she can cannot see anything but darkness. This may seem cruel but just bear with me for a minute and you will start to see the genius behind the plan. As the baby becomes an infant then a toddler or the other way around (I’m not really sure on the order of child progression) the baby will be told constantly by the parents that he or she is blind, so that is what the baby will believe. You homeschool the child so as not to draw suspicion from the teachers who might not be one hundred percent comfortable with five plus years of old duct tape permanently intertwined in the hair of an innocent child. Then at some point when you are having a bad day and could really use a pick me up, you remove the eclipse glasses and you become a hero, which instantly erases all of the negativity you had been feeling that day, and your child becomes eternally grateful to you for discovering the cure for blindness. It’s a win-win.

If you don’t have kids and you’re not on board with the idea of having children just so your solar eclipse glasses don’t go to waste, I have just the thing for you; I call the plan Invisible Idiots. I work at a bank so on a daily basis I see people that I find incredibly annoying and it just bums me out sometimes when I have to see them, but now there is an easy solution to a once complicated problem. Whenever an idiot approaches my window in the bank I can just slide my nifty little eclipse glasses on, and voila! they become invisible to me. While it’s not perfect because I still have to hear them, at least I don’t have to see them which is a positive thing, so feel free to take my Invisible Idiot plan with you wherever you should go, and pop those glasses on anytime an idiot walks into your view and threatens to ruin a completely happy moment. Your life will improve greatly.

The third and final way to repurpose your solar eclipse glasses is perhaps my favorite and quite possibly the most practical, although if I have kids I’m going with option A in a heartbeat, because I think I would make a pretty perfect hero. You know how when you eat Chinese food you’re always dropping and losing your chopsticks because of all the slimy sauces that are on the food? No matter where you look, under the table, between the couch cushions, the VCR, you never can seem to find that missing chopstick, but now with the repurposed solar eclipse glasses, you will never have that problem ever again. All you do is take the long cardboard flaps that are supposed to go behind your ears and you use them as chopsticks or as I like to call them, eclipse sticks. They’re connected so there’s no chance of you losing your utensils ever again! Also, that part of the glasses is about three times the width of chopsticks so you can get more food in each bite* without risking it falling out of your grasp and onto your shirt. When you’re done just make sure to completely lick the eclipse sticks clean, because there’s nothing nastier than dried up sauce on your kitchen utensils, and then they’ll be good as new and ready to go the next time the delivery guy comes knocking. Whichever of my genius ideas you decide for reusing your solar eclipse glasses, you won’t be disappointed, plus you can feel good about yourself, knowing that you are doing your part to protect the environment by recycling.

*Putting more food into your mouth increases the risk of choking, so be sure to chew thoroughly to avoid this hazard.

The New Car

IMG_4114I can’t imagine hell being much worse than a car lot in Little Rock, Arkansas on a hot August day, which is exactly how I found myself spending the majority of my day today. Yesterday when I told someone I was coming to Arkansas today they asked if I was going to Little Rock, and that is when I started to think if I would ever go to Little Rock again, which is strange since it’s where I grew up and spent the majority of my life thus far, but I don’t have family there anymore which has been, since the time I moved, the only thing that has kept me coming back to a city that doesn’t offer much in the way of appeal, and just like that, I was back in my old hometown. It was a spur of the moment trip, brought on because my mom needed to pick something up there, and then afterward, decided it might be prudent whilst in a much bigger city than which she currently lives, to stop at a dealership to look at cars since she is desperately in need of a new one.

The salesman spotted us pulling onto the lot and directed us to an unauthorized spot right in the front of the dealership, royalty among the peasants. My mom knew exactly what she wanted, well sort of, she had it mostly narrowed down to a sensible option and a more luxurious option that she kept bringing up occasionally, debating aloud whether or not it was okay to spend a lot more money for a car that wasn’t all that practical, while I the bad influence egged her on. Reason won out and she decided to pursue, with all of her focus, the Toyota Camry, which the salesman Deshaun was more than happy to show us, especially after he found out that she was paying cash and could smell her desire to buy before we even stepped out of the car. We saw some preowned models, none of which tickled her fancy and then went on to some new models that seemed more in line with what she was looking for. There was one she really liked and after the test drive was just about ready to buy, especially since the salesman “thought he could get the price down” into her range, an old sales tactic, but an effective one, but I convinced my mom that if he was willing to make that deal today, then he would be able to do it a week from now, which the salesman confirmed to my delight, and she decided to talk it over with my grandmother who was waiting inside the dealership.

As we walked through the showroom on our way to go revisit the preowned cars one more time just to make sure that she really didn’t want any of them, we walked past a brand new silver car that she stopped to admire and instantly fell in love with when she discovered it had all of the features she wanted. The salesman looked at the price and regretfully informed her that unfortunately it was too far out of her range and there was no way he could get “permission” to bring the price down enough that she would still want to buy it. We looked at the rejected pre-owned’s once more and once again saw why someone had decided to give them up in the first place. My mom was ready to buy the other car, the one she test drove, but it didn’t have one of the big features that she wanted and didn’t like the interior color of the car. That’s when I had an idea, an idea so simple I couldn’t believe that I didn’t think about it sooner. I asked her if she would be willing to trade in her current car and have the salesman negotiate the price down on the showroom car that she loved to the price that fell within her range, and she, as expected was of course thrilled with my proposal. The salesman agreed to my terms which was great for my mom, and she ended up getting the car that she really wanted, all thanks to my sharp mind and negotiating skills, both of which were unfortunately nowhere to be found a couple years ago when I needed to buy a new car. We drove away from the dealership three and a half hours after we arrived in a silver Toyota Camry and leaving the GMC Acadia behind. The end result was a good one with my mom getting a good deal on her car, but I’ve gotta be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever been more ready to get out of Little Rock. It was a very long day.

Losing a Good Friend

    At some point during my senior year of high school I thought it was a good idea to get a pet fish. I can’t quite explain what drove me to that conclusion, because since that time I never again felt the desire to get one, even though our time together, albeit brief, was filled with fun memories. I bought it at PetsMart in Little Rock, along with all of the necessities that a goldfish should have, including a home, a plastic container with a handle so that it could be a traveling goldfish, not confined to a countertop like most of his relatives. He would go with me on adventures, see the world, maybe even write a book about it, which is why I gave appropriately named him John Grisham, after one of my favorite authors at the time, thinking that perhaps the name would instill in him the confidence needed to achieve the goals I had set forth for him. Also in an attempt to start the relationship off on the right foot I bought him some plastic foliage and some oval shaped see through stones to bring some life to an otherwise boring environment, and he seemed to really like it all, swimming around carefree and looking at the big wide world through the glass, imagining all of the adventures he would have.
 
    After I got the little guy also situated and he had a good night’s sleep, we both awoke the next morning refreshed and ready for the day ahead. It was a big day for John Grisham, he was going to school for the first time in his young life, so it would have been understandable if he had been nervous but he was completely cool and unworried whatsoever. We strolled into my high school like the two most awesome beings in the universe, which we were, and as you can imagine, John Grisham was instantly popular. Everybody wanted to look at him and I even passed him around class so that my classmates could use his magical wish granting powers that I had imagined him to have by dropping donations into the portable container with him. He was now John “the wish fish” Grisham and everybody was eager to drop some of their dirty change into his formerly clean bowl of water for the chance to make dreams come true. In hindsight, that’s probably what killed him a few days later, but goldfish don’t really have really long lifespans to begin with so it’s completely plausible that it happened from natural causes. Or maybe it was the fact that I didn’t buy the special goldfish water that the PetSmart people told me I needed, but rather saved my money and opted for tap water that I had survived on for the entirety of my life. If it was good enough to keep me alive then surely it would be good enough for John Grisham, but then again, maybe it was not. Maybe there were some chemicals used for cleaning the bathtub that hadn’t completely been washed away that he came into contact with the time when I filled up the tub and let him swim free of the confines of his much smaller container, but probably it was the dirty coins. It was a short life but we cherished the time we had together and I wouldn’t trade those memories that we shared for anything.
 
    We had a nice funeral service for John Grisham, held in the teachers lunchroom, a small walled off portion of the cafeteria and it was filled with old friends of mine and new friends of his. Elton John’s voice filled the little room as Candle in the Wind gave the little guy a proper sendoff. I thought I’d gotten permission to use the room, or maybe in my grief stricken state I had neglected to do so, believing that anyone with a heart would want John Grisham to have the exclusive room for his funeral and had just taken it upon myself to use the room without asking. Whatever events led up to me hosting the funeral of my beloved best friend, but the end result was the funeral ending early after the school principal yelled at me and kicked everyone out of the teacher’s lunch room, so all in all it was a pretty tough day on all  fronts. Nine years later and the loss still stings, but at least he’s in a better place now, floating somewhere in the sewers below Central Arkansas Christian school, as peaceful as can be.

Searching for the Perfect Gift

IMG_4073My grandpa and cousin Abigail share a birthday, August 7, which is tomorrow, but since it falls on a Monday the whole family got together to celebrate the greatness that is the two of them. I procrastinate on a lot of things, and unfortunately buying birthday gifts is one of them, so that is how I found myself driving to Walmart at about 2:30 this afternoon. I know, I know, what kind of idiot buys somebody a gift at Walmart? Well again this is unfortunate, the answer is me, but in my pathetic defense it is conveniently close to where I live. Maybe that makes it even worse, I don’t know. Anyway, I can’t turn into the parking lot because a stream of Mustangs are flowing in a cohesive line through the parking lot like a funeral procession, no matter that I had the right of way and they should have been stopping. I finally butted in front of one and got honked at, but it was a nice tradeoff to being forced to look at anymore of these lame people who have nothing more interesting to do on a Sunday afternoon that meet up in a Walmart parking lot with other people who drive the same kind of car that they do.

So I head into the store, knowing exactly one gift that I’m getting and with a couple options in mind for the other one. For my cousin I’m getting her a stainless steel bottle/tumbler/whatever that keeps drinks cold or hot for an excessive amount of time. I got one of these last year and it quickly became my favorite cup, eventually becoming the only one I drank out of, so I’ve decided to share the experience and have given it as a gift to a couple of people who really like it, so I figured my cousin would too. Now my grandpa is quite a bit more difficult to shop for. He’s not the sort of person you can just buy any old t-shirt for. There are certain brands that have been met with his approval, so it’s best to stick to these, but since I’m kind of balling on a budget at the moment, his shirts weren’t really an option so I had to come up with something else. As I walked down the aisles I scanned the ground hoping it would be my lucky day and I would find a very rare and valuable coin lying on the ground, which would make a great gift for my grandpa who just so happens to be an avid coin collector. But then again if it was really valuable I could sell it and get him one of his shirts plus something for me, which would be the ideal scenario in my selfish world, but alas, I had no such luck finding a coin.

I decided to get him a puzzle, which is actually something I think he enjoys working on, so I walked past all of the board games to the microscopic puzzle section of Walmart. Most of them were really annoying to look at, so I could just imagine how excruciating it would be to stare at that same picture for hours trying to put the thing together, so once I weeded out all of the unacceptable ones there were very few options remaining, a Monsters Inc. puzzle for children and a one thousand piece puzzle featuring a house with some tall grass and a couple of deer out front. I got him the latter and it actually seemed to go over well when he opened it, as did the tumbler with my cousin, which just goes to show you that good gifts CAN actually be bought at Walmart.

The Gigantic Flying Cockroach

It was like the start of a typical horror movie, my wife and I sitting in our living room late at night, she watching something on TV while I read a book, just a regular Thursday night, but then it wasn’t. We heard a noise outside our door, very faintly, but loud enough to rouse our interests. We looked at each other then towards the door and as if on cue, something hit the door, sending the dogs into a barking frenzy and my wife and I into a state of worry. Since we’ve moved in, someone tried to kick in our neighbor’s door one night, so my mind immediately went to the extreme, jumping to the conclusion that this was now happening to us, so like any tough guy I went to the door to confront whomever the intruder could be, bringing along with me my forty ounce stainless steel water bottle as if that would serve as some kind of protective weapon. I looked out the keyhole but saw nothing and gradually our minds were eased and we almost forgot about the incident entirely, that is until it came time to take the dogs out to use the bathroom before bed. Concerned that maybe someone was lurking outside waiting to attack, my wife asked me to accompany her outside and like the chivalrous gentleman that I am, I begrudgingly agreed.

She opened the door to go outside and immediately a cockroach the size of a tennis ball flew up off the ground and began emitting a disgusting sound somewhere between clicking and whirring. My wife immediately shut the door, however the dogs had already run out before her so they on their leash were trapped outside with the monster. She opened the door quickly to let them back inside and then the debate began as we tried to figure out what we were going to do. The dogs have peed on our carpet before, so I was all for letting happen again if it meant we wouldn’t have to go outside and face the gigantic flying cockroach, but my wife wasn’t having it, suggesting instead that I use the broom to reach from the doorway and smash the bug, but given the size of this thing I wasn’t convinced it would do any real damage but would instead just anger it further so I declined. We spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to come up with a solution to our problem, when finally, my wife, the voice of reason, decided that we should hit it with something which in effect would make it fly away.

She stood with the door cracked, hoping not to draw any unwanted attention from the creature before she made her move, reached her arm back and hurled a little piece of dog food toward the roach, which she missed completely as it sailed overhead straight into the neighbor’s door. She shut the door quickly in case they came to see what had hit their door, and initially she felt bad about it, but after thinking it through further we decided that maybe it was a good thing to happen, that perhaps the neighbors would open the door and the largest insect in the world would go into their apartment, either that or they would scare it away. The minutes ticked by and still nothing happened, so we had to once again jump on the proactive side of getting rid of this thing. With the door once again opened a crack, my wife aimed a squirt bottle of water through the opening and fired a single shot, which unlike the piece of dog food, hit the intended target. This enraged the cockroach which quickly began flying around the landing outside of our apartment making that terribly disturbing sound again, probably swearing in its own language that it would have its revenge on us. I wish I could tell you that I realized how ridiculous all of this was and I decided to step up and be a man, walking right over to the insect and killing it without fear, but unfortunately I haven’t changed. We put the dogs to bed, and took them out first thing this morning when the cockroach had left its security post outside our door, so it all worked out okay, and hopefully I’ll never see that gigantic flying cockroach ever again.