The Amateur Traffic Cop

Sometimes even people with the best of intentions can end up looking like idiots. Take for instance the girl I saw get into a car accident the other day. Okay so I didn’t actually see the accident take place, but I did witness the aftermath, which is really the whole point of the story anyway, so let’s not get caught up in semantics. The wreck happened at a stoplight, and I’m hesitant to use the word “accident” because after seeing the idiocy displayed by the girl, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone was trying to hit her intentionally, just to keep her off the road for at least a little while, because she was clearly a danger to herself and others. I saw her from the drive through of McDonald’s, where my wife and I were waiting on her iced coffee to be ready, and we sat in both fascination and horror as the seen played out before us, this young girl, probably in her early twenties, trying to direct traffic around the wreck while coincidentally not trying all that hard not to get run over. She looked like a severely depressed girl who finally snapped and left her car parked in the middle of traffic, standing behind it just waiting for the right moment to jump into oncoming traffic, but she seemed oblivious to the danger of the situation, the innocence of her young age completely apparent, as was her stupidity.
 
    It was about eight thirty at night, too late for an iced coffee in my opinion, and also too late for someone to be standing in the middle of a dark street, attempting to direct traffic. She was standing behind a van, which wasn’t her car by the way, but the car of the person who had hit her, so I’m still not even completely sure why she was so worried about nobody hitting that van in the first place. Whatever her intentions, they were completely unnecessary because of the bright red emergency lights flashing on the back of the van, signaling to anyone within view that there was a stopped car in the middle of the road. Given the time of day, the girl was barely visible from where we sat about twenty yards away in a lit up parking lot, so I can only imagine how hard she was to see. At first it was unclear to me what she was doing, waving her arms like one of those gigantic inflatable things at car dealerships that seem to be moving of their own accord in the wind, falling forwards and then backwards then sided to side then repeated in a different order, the randomness of it all very entertaining to watch. The girl’s arms were raised, moving them from side to side, crossing over her face as she did so, and that’s when I realized she was attempting to direct people around the car that was clearly stopped in the middle of the road with emergency lights making that abundantly evident to everyone, whereas the amateur traffic director was causing confusion. When they finally saw her, drivers pulled up beside her thinking she was waving down some help, wherein reality she was making a bad situation (the car wreck) even worse by backing up traffic even more than it should have been with her ridiculous, though well intentioned, antics. I don’t know what happened to her, whether the police officer who finally arrived on the scene lectured her on why what she was doing was completely stupid, but I hope she’s okay, that she didn’t get hit by a car, so that maybe she will learn from this mistake, and pass it on to others, so I don’t have to see any more idiots standing in the middle of a dark road at night.

Wendy’s Bacon Queso Crap: A Review

IMG_4100I went to Wendy’s for dinner last night, not because I like Wendy’s, in fact among popular fast food restaurants they are near the bottom on my list of favorites if they aren’t my absolute least favorite, but because it’s that one time of year when corporate realizes they have way too much extra cheese and bacon that is going to go bad soon so they roll out a new product that features these two ingredients. I don’t know why I keep going back time and time again, thinking that maybe I’ll be blown away by the combination of flavors that remain the same despite the changing the name of the product they are selling. This year is the bacon and queso family of products which includes a burger, a chicken sandwich, and of course French fries, all topped with the disgustingly delicious amounts of the stuff, so naturally, I had to try it.

I got the chicken sandwich, because the burger just looked a heart attack waiting to happen, and since I don’t know where I really stand karmically, I figured it was best not to tempt fate with an easy way to get rid of me.  Over the speaker a question was directed at me, “do you want the chicken sandwich regular or spicy?” and since I knew that this meal would likely end with me on the toilet regretting my decision to eat there in the first place, I decided to just go for it, so I confidently replied spicy. I got the fries too, because again, if the canon is going to blow either way, you might as well stuff it full of as much gun powder as you can cram inside.  It was 9.59 for the sandwich and fries, a little more expensive than a regular meal, but I pulled around and gladly paid it, thinking the increased price would translate to more enjoyment of the food, but I’ve been wrong before, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that I was wrong again.

Let’s start with the positives, because at my core, that is what I am truly about, always looking for positivity in negative situations and never complaining because it won’t do any good anyway. The chicken sandwich was great. As I’m not a frequent visitor of Wendy’s I’d forgotten how much I liked their chicken sandwich but it was actually really juicy, with just the right amount of spice, topped with a queso cheese sauce that was also somewhat spicy, and a couple strips of crispy bacon. I was pleasantly surprised by the queso, that it actually tasted like something you might actually find at a low quality Mexican restaurant which was a step up from what I was expecting. If I were just basing my recommendation on the sandwich alone I would definitely encourage you to try it because it actually was surprisingly good, but we haven’t even discussed the fries yet, so buckle up, we’re just getting started.

You might be thinking to yourself, I wonder why Kendall doesn’t go to Wendy’s more because he clearly likes their chicken sandwich, and let me set the record straight, I do, but the main reason I don’t go there is because of the fries, which in my humblest of opinions are the worst fast food fries that exist within the vast tapestry of American fast food chains. They are the most flavorless pieces of sadness that I’ve ever had alongside a burger, but I thought, add queso and bacon and perhaps they will be better. I’ve fallen into this trip before, going to Wendy’s to try the chili cheese fries, the ghost pepper fries, and even the baconator fries that are a mainstay of the menu, none of which couldn’t overpower the underwhelming quality of these horrible fries, but I thought that perhaps this time might be different. I was wrong. While the queso cheese sauce and the bacon pieces were delicious, it wasn’t enough to make the Wendy’s fries edible, so the queso bacon fries can be considered nothing but a colossal failure. So next time you’re thinking about picking up some fast food, I would highly recommend going to an establishment with a more well rounded menu, where the fries and sandwiches are both good, because with all of the options out there today, there really isn’t any reason to limit yourself by sacrificing half of your meal on a mediocre side dish. Maybe Wendy’s will step up their game sometime in the future, but until that time I’m going to be staying far away, until of course they need to get rid of some more bacon and cheese again next year.

Winning a Marital Disagreement

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For all of the people out there in relationships that are full of disagreements and conflicting opinions, who believe that no matter what, your significant other will never come around to feeling the way you do on certain issues, there is hope. Until today I never would have believed it and have given up on even trying to sway my wife’s opinion, but rejoice my friends because today it actually happened. Over the course of our relationship, my wife and I have had many disagreements over things, some small, like where to go for dinner or how to load the dishwasher, and some big, like whether Lord of the Rings is the greatest movie trilogy of all time, or if we should get dogs or not. Well we’ve never sat down and watched Lord of the Rings together and we now have two chihuahuas so it’s safe to say that I lose a lot more than I win, but today I won, and it feels fantastic.

The biggest fundamental difference of opinion that we have is far bigger than dogs or movies or how to load a dishwasher to make sure that everything gets clean (Seriously why does it matter how you put a spoon in? They’re not that expensive we could just buy more spoons), but rather where the ideal place to live is based on the weather. My wife was born in California and lived there for nine years before moving to Florida where she lived the rest of her life before we moved to Memphis last year, so her opinion was completely biased based on the surroundings she grew up with. She loves hot weather, so between Florida and Southern California that are two of the consistently warm climates in the country, she didn’t think it could get any better. I on the other hand like the cold. I absolutely loved living in Minnesota during the winter of my freshman year of college where snow stayed on the ground for the better part of three months, whereas the four years spent in Florida were some of the most miserable of my life, so we had to come up with a compromise, find a place where we could both get what we wanted, so we moved to Memphis.

We moved here in July, which was perfect for her so she could go from one hellishly hot place to another, but then fall rolled around and the heat relented and I was suddenly a much happier man, my first taste of cool fall air in four years. Last winter was a pretty mild one save for the week where it was consistently in the upper 20’s, but it was nice to have the cold for at least a little while, and to my wife’s surprise, she survived it. Now that it’s miserably hot again she was really enjoying it for a little while, but lately hasn’t been as happy about it, and today she texted me from work telling me that she can’t wait for winter and said she actually appreciates the changing seasons now, so take that Florida and California, Memphis wins (at least in that respect)! That just goes to show you that changes of opinions or preferences can change over the course of a relationship, so don’t give up hope and maybe, just maybe, you will be as happy as I am today.

One Reason I’m Opposed to World War 3

As much as I would hate it, it almost seems inevitable that there will be a World War 3, given the egos and irrationality possessed by both presidents of North Korea and the United States of America, and when this happens, it will likely affect me in a very negative way. I have always been opposed to war, but when I turned eighteen, against my beliefs I registered for the selective service, not because I feel the need to defend my country, but rather because it’s the law, and I would much rather take my chances on the slim possibility that a draft is implemented rather than behind bars where my proclivity for sarcasm and eye rolling would likely turn me into the prison punching bag. So at eighteen years old I did what was required of me by law, and I thought that I would never have to think about it again, but then eight years later I started working at Fedex and my chances of getting drafted doubled.

Back when I first registered for the selective service I had a different last name than I do now, so when I began working at Fedex and had to prove that I had in fact registered, I procured all of the necessary paperwork to show that I had changed my name and was still the same person, already registered. I signed some papers and waited in an uncomfortable chair while someone behind a desk typed relentlessly on her keyboard and before I knew it she handed me a paper saying that I had been registered for the selective service, for the second time, which means now if a draft does happen, my social security number is in the system twice, seemingly making it twice as likely that I get selected, and for those of you that know me at all, it is abundantly clear that I’m not at all suited for war.

Can you imagine someone like me on the battlefield defending our country? I have a great respect for the men and women who do that, but I would make a terrible soldier. Let’s just set aside the fact that I’m out of shape, my infinite fears would render me completely useless on the battlefield. When I worked at a grocery store and my job included blowing up balloons for children I would break out in a heavy sweat and start to feel dizzy as I inflated the balloons, afraid that the balloon would pop. When I go to NBA basketball games I wait outside the arena, outside of earshot of the fireworks that go off before the game because I’m terrified of loud noises. Now imagine me surrounded by gunfire, dropping my weapon to the ground, freeing both hands so that I can use them for the more pressing task of covering my ears in hopes of stifling the loud sounds all around me. With the ceaseless shots all around me, chances are I would be willing to take a bullet just to make it stop, so clearly being drafted would not be beneficial to me or the well being of our country. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that because clearly I’m not cut out to be a soldier.

When in Doubt Leave the Vegetables Out

IMG_4070An immediate stomach ache that hits you as soon as you leave a restaurant and a desperate need to find a bathroom as quickly as possible, are two telltale signs that the meal you just ate went terribly awry. Unfortunately, both of these symptoms hit me like a ton of bricks, or more specifically a plate of nachos as soon as I left El Porton, a Mexican restaurant where we ate dinner last night. My wife and I met the rest of the family there, gathering to celebrate the birthday of both my grandpa and cousin. I’m always in the mood for Mexican food and had actually been craving it lately, so when I was told that we would be having that for dinner, I was pretty excited, to the point where I actually caught myself thinking at random intervals throughout my day about what I might get to eat that night. The chips and salsa arrived before the drinks, as is typically custom at Mexican restaurants, but I showed a great deal of restraint that I normally lack, by waiting to dig in until my water arrived, which turned out to be a good call on my part since the salsa was a little spicier than I remembered.

I ordered fajita nachos with steak, because steak sounded really good to me but more so for the cheese dip that I’d been thinking about relentlessly throughout the day. I had the choice of ordering the nachos with or without vegetables, and despite the kid in me screaming that vegetables are gross, I ordered them anyway, to prove, if only to myself, that I am in fact an adult and vegetables actually aren’t all that bad. I was expecting some diced tomatoes, lettuce, jalapeños, and maybe even some onions, but in my haste to order the food, my brain neglected to register that the vegetables served with the fajita nachos would be just that, vegetables typically found in a steaming pan of fajitas, but don’t worry, I found out soon enough. The food arrived and I tried to not pre-judge my nachos based on appearance with the huge chunks of onion, tomato, and bell pepper being the most visible and populous foods on my plate, something that might have been aesthetically pleasing to a strict vegetarian, but I myself found it to be very unattractive.

The steak was delicious but the pieces of juicy meat were far overpowered by the crunchiness of the peppers and onions that I was desperately trying to make an asset of the dish but was rather hindering and taking away from the best ingredient. The cheese dip of course was amazing, because white cheese dip has a way of never letting you down, but again the giant vegetables were doing their best to make themselves known above all else. I gave some of the onions and peppers to my mimi and wife, the only two people at the table of nine who wanted anything to do with them, and finished my nachos in peace. Not long after, the storm hit and I was clutching my stomach which hurt like I’d eaten a half dozen creme filled doughnuts that were a few days old for breakfast and washed it down with a big glass of expired milk, not that I would know from experience. I don’t know if my body was having that reaction because it was shocked by my vegetable intake after years of neglecting healthy food or if something else was causing my growing discomfort, but I was completely miserable. The one good thing to come from this terrible experience was a valuable life lesson that I won’t soon forget; when in doubt leave the vegetables out.

What I’ve Been Reading: Late July/Early August

IMG_4066While the past week has been a little bit cooler than the unbearably hot temperatures that seem to be intent on ruining my life this summer, it has still been too miserable to spend any significant amount of time outside, so I’ve focused a lot of my time lately on doing one of my favorite indoor activities, cross-stitching. I hate to burst your bubble if you read that last sentence and were instantly excited by the prospect of me cross-stitching you something cool and unique to you for Christmas this year, but I was just joking about that, and reading is what was meant to end the last sentence, but at the last second I called an audible thinking that perhaps cross-stitching might provide a few laughs, but now that it’s written, I realize that it’s less funny than it was intended to be, and for that I am truly sorry. Anyway, what I’m trying to talk about is reading, and more specifically what I’ve been reading lately, so without further ado (distractions), I present to you the three books I’ve read over the past couple of weeks.

The first one, “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan, is a book that has traveled with me from Memphis to Florida and then back to Memphis again, always occupying a place on my bookshelf but never really catching and holding on to my interest until recently, and I think it has everything to do with the title, or more specifically the last two words, goon squad. When I hear the word goon my mind takes me back to a Batman television show that I have absolutely no recollection of aside from the fact that the villains were called goons, so in my mind I jumped to the conclusion that this book would be about unsavory characters who lived in a super hero universe, which didn’t seem all that appealing to me, but I finally gave it a chance and I’m very glad that I did because it turned out to be a pretty good read. It’s a story that centers around music and the music industry, jumping around in different time periods in the characters lives, focusing on different characters and then showing how they are all somehow connected. My only problem with the book was that it felt a little clunky to me, all of the jumping around and trying to figure out whether whatever is currently being talked about happened before or after something you’d read, chronologically speaking, but there wasn’t a second of the book that I found at all uninteresting, so if you’re looking for something that will keep your attention, this one is a good one to check out.

Next on the list is “The Other Side of Mulholland” by Stephen Randall, a book I picked up at a used bookstore last year and had no knowledge of what the novel was actually about. There wasn’t a plot summary on the back, but I like a goldfish I was intrigued by all of the pretty colors that decorated the cover, so I bough it anyway. It’s the story of two brothers trying to make it as writers in Los Angeles while their parents constantly worry about them through all of their ups and downs. It’s a decent enough book, but there was really nothing that kept me wanting to keep reading, nothing that insisted I turn the page to find out what happened next, which is the reason out of all three of these books, although the shortest in length it took me the longest to get through, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

Lastly I read “Dry”, another memoir by one of my new favorite authors, Augusten Burroughs, which I can’t seem to get enough of. Dry is the story of Augusten’s journey from alcoholism to sobriety, full of ups and downs, written by one of the funniest voices I’ve ever read. It’s like every book I read by Burroughs is another piece of the puzzle, revealing a completely different side of one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever read about. Seriously, it’s actually pretty amazing that after all he’s been through that he is still alive, so if you haven’t jumped on the Augusten Burroughs bandwagon yet, you are really missing out, because now I’ve read three of his memoirs, and all of them have been very funny, and have easily been the books that I’ve read the most quickly over the last year because of how smoothly they flow combined with the fact that you’re dying to find out what happens next. “Dry” is probably my least favorite book I’ve read by Augusten, but that’s not a condemnation about how bad it is, but rather praise at how good his other two books are, and while it has been my least favorite that I’ve read by him, it was my favorite out of the three books I’m writing about today and I would definitely recommend you checking it out.

The Chewing Gum Dilemma

Today at work one of my coworkers offered me a piece of chewing gum. I obviously accepted because you would have to be some kind of monster to turn down gum, but as I sat there chewing, a couple questions came to mind about chewing gum etiquette, which is what I would like to discuss today. I work in a bank, which involves me dealing face to face with customers almost every minute of the work day, so I got to thinking about how my gum chewing might be perceived by an outsider, and whether or not it is okay to chew gum while speaking with another person. First off, in a casual environment I don’t think there is anything wrong with simultaneously chewing gum and holding a conversation. It would be nearly impossible to enjoy the complete life of a stick of gum, if you had to spit it out every single time you encountered someone that you spoke to. We would basically only be able to pop a stick of juicy fruit while driving or at home alone, and as for the latter, I can’t recall that I’ve ever done so in my twenty-six years of life, because quite frankly the thought never occurred to me. So while I feel confident that chewing gum throughout the course of a normal day is fine, even when speaking to others, it gets a bit trickier in a professional environment. A big part of my job is appearance. Customers are quickly to comment if I don’t shave or if they think I need a haircut and my tattoos can’t even be visible in the workplace because all of this is a part of the professional image the company I work for wants the employees to present, so I think that chewing gum might come across as unprofessional or disrespectful, so here I’m thinking that it might not be the best idea to do so, although it is not expressly forbidden by said company.

The other question I have with chewing gum when it is offered to you by another person, is how long must I chew the gum before I can get rid of it? It’s not like gum is super expensive, in most convenience stores you can buy a single piece for a nickel, so how does that equate in time I have to chew this other person’s piece of gum for? Today after about five minutes of gum chewing, I wanted a drink of water, which as we all know will harden the gum making the whole experience much less enjoyable, but I hesitated to spit the gum out, because somebody had offered it to me and I felt it might be rude to discard this gift so quickly. It would be like buying doughnuts for your coworkers and each of them only taking a couple bites before throwing them away, which I’m sure would offend the generous purchaser of the doughnuts, so in the same way, wouldn’t discarding a stick of gum prematurely offend the person who so selflessly offered it up? I don’t know the answer to that question or if it even matters, but it’s just something I’ve been thinking about and if any of you out there posses the knowledge that I so desperately need, I would be grateful if you would please shed some light on this matter. Until then I’ll just be self consciously chewing longer than is probably necessary, counting down the minutes until I feel comfortable in spitting it out.