Sleeping Around


My friend Michelle who has an irrational fear of escalators volunteered to go mattress shopping with me. Seeing as I had never done it before, I wasn’t sure what a good mattress shopping co-pilot needed to have.

As it turns out, somebody who is afraid of things that move automatically is a good partner for buying something that stays completely still.

We started our search at the second largest department store in the world, the Macy’s in Herald Square. We made our way up to the mattress floor where I was immediately overwhelmed.

There were easily over 100 mattresses out. This was going to be way more complicated than I had hoped.

Luckily a salesperson comes over to us and starts to walk (or lay as it were) us through the process.

He starts us out on some $2,300 dollar mattresses. I assume this is standard practice. Start the customer out on the most expensive mattress and then gradually work them down to the less expensive mattresses.

Except we never really got to the really inexpensive ones. He just kept taking us from one expensive mattress to the next. I was too embarrassed to tell him I couldn’t afford to sleep that well.

The sales person then ask me if I want to try memory foam. I thought I wanted to. But Michelle who, in addition to her irrational fear of escalators, also has a wealth of knowledge about eco-friendly products for the home, whispered in my ear “Memory foam is the most toxic element in your home. It off gasses throughout the night.”

Little did I know I had to be aware of off-gassing, which apparently is not just something I do during the night. Technically it means to emit toxic fumes based on the chemicals that were used to prepare the material.

Great. So not only am I crippling myself I am also gassing myself to death.

I turn back to the sales person.

Umm I don’t think Memory foam is for me.

So we continued testing out the non-memory foam mattresses.

Firm, plush, cushion, plush firm, cushion firm, medium plush. Every single time I laid down on the mattress I immediately forgot the type of the mattress I was laying on.

Also, I started dozing off.



Some it was easy to tell right away were too hard or too firm. I felt like Goldilocks and the 100 mattresses.

Some of the display mattresses had two different feels, split right down the middle so you could test out both sides. Michelle and I did this by doing a mattress fire drill. One of us getting up and running around to the other side, the other rolling over.

The whole time I was testing out mattresses I kept wondering two things to myself:

Is this mattress right for me?
And
Am I getting bed bugs?

While I was focused on flopping around on every single mattress like a fish...



And also, how much everything cost, Michelle was focused on important things like, asking questions that made sense.

Despite her best efforts to learn things, we had a lot of laughs, and we made a lot of jokes, many of which our sales person did not laugh at.

But even though we were having a ball, we were there on serious business. My mattress was killing me and I needed a solution. But as the testing went on I realized that this probably wasn’t going to be something I could accomplish in a single day.

There were definitely mattresses I did like, but after lying on two dozen different mattresses of varying levels of firmness I couldn’t really tell the differences between the ones I did like.

Michelle suggested we go to another store that had some more eco-friendly options. I readily complied. As we made our way to the next store we passed another mattress shop and Michelle grabbed my arm:

The mattresses in here are $35,000, let’s go lay on them.

Michelle can be very convincing.

So we walk into the beautiful airy space and lay down on mattresses that cost more than any car I have ever driven, never mind owned.

We lay down on a mattress and I feel good knowing that I am laying on an organic mattress made from sustainably acquired horse hair, even though I’m not quite sure what all of that means.

Michelle then expresses interest in trying out another type of mattress.

At this point I’m just along for the ride since I have resigned myself to just having bad nights of sleep on the floor for the rest of my life.

Our sales person then starts to speak. 

You can try out this next mattress but it’s in the display window…
Yes!

Things were about to get awesome.

So there we are lying in this mattress in the display window.


And our sales person is talking to us but I am having a hard time not smiling because out of the corner of my eye I can see people on the street laughing at us which is making me laugh.

It’s ridiculous to pretend that this situation is not ridiculous so I start waving at people as they walk by. Which in turn makes them laugh more, which makes Michelle laugh, which makes me laugh even more, so that I’m laying with my friend, in a bed I can’t afford, laughing at strangers I don’t know, while a sales person I just met slowly comes to the realization that there is no way I’m buying anything today.

We went to one more store where Michelle dared me to dive into a pile of 12 down comforters. I though this was a good idea. The staff of that store did not. The sales person there kindly asked me to get up but I could tell she really just wanted to kill me.

So to avoid death in a mattress store, we gladly left, moderately unsuccessful. And I returned to sleeping on my couch until I host some sort of mattress fundraiser or win the lottery.

Or I could just buy a memory foam mattress and sleep in a gas mask.

No TV

I don't watch a lot of TV. I used to, but not anymore. I’ll watch the games during football season, but that’s about as regular as it gets. People make fun of me for this. A lot of people start conversations with me that go, "Hey Rich did you see.... oh yea, of course not."

I don't watch much TV for several reasons. First off, I don't have cable so I only get like 8 channels (not including the 15 Spanish channels my TV receives). My TV is also a monster. It’s from my parents’ old basement. And it’s like a 46 inch TUBE TV, so it weighs about 23,000 pounds.

But really the main reason is that when I am watching TV, I am not doing anything else. I don't write as much, I don't consume as much culture I just kind of… exist on my couch.

Since I rarely watch TV, when I do watch it, certain things get burned indelibly into my brain. Things like commercials.

And what bothers me about commercials is that they suck. Not just that they are bad (although most of them are bad) but the fact that the story telling is so falsified.

I mean I know believing everything you see or here in commercials is dangerous. And I don't do that, but even still, they are so way off that I can't even handle it.

For example, take commercials for paint. I have painted before. I painted my entire apartment. I know what it’s like, how long it takes, etc. But TV paint commercials are completely misrepresenting how difficult it is to paint a room. The people in paint commercials are freaks of nature.

First of all they always paint in khakis, a polo shirt, and a do rag. And they always just kind of look around the room in beautiful reverence paint a little bit, and then cut to them admiring their work they finished on the same day.

And they never have any paint on them! Not a drop. There's no paint on the floor, there are no drop cloths, no painters tape. It's just time to start, oh look let’s paint perfectly together beautiful spouse of mine, oh look at that we’re done.

Oh and how about that, our clothes are still in perfect shape. Oh wow and we just painted 12 walls and our backs don't hurt and hey look its still light outside. Let's go for a jog!

Now if that were real life it would be pitch black outside, those people would have paint in their eyelashes, and they would be curled up in the fetal position on the floor holding a beer and a slice of pizza. But no, paint commercial couples look at each other, grab each other’s hands, and skip off into the sunset.

Shaving commercials also piss me off. Like most people, I have very important things on my face... like my mouth. And if I shaved my face as fast as those guys in commercials do, I would have shaved it off. They shave so fast that at the rate they show, every man should be able to shave his entire face in 29 seconds.

People in commercials shave while smiling and looking at the camera instead of at the BLADE IN THEIR HAND! Hello! That is a blade, or in the case of today's razors, 12 blades. Be careful with that shit and stop telling me how I can swipe it across my face the same way I might wipe chocolate sauce off my cheek. It is a sharpened piece of steel, not a napkin.

And all these commercials where they “surprise” men in gym locker rooms shaving their face to challenge them to use a new razor. First of all, nobody believes that’s real. And second of all, do you know what the legal ramifications would be for sneaking up on somebody holding a razor next to their face?

Every shaving commercial should have the same message:

Hey guys, do you have hair on your face? Do you use our razor? Well be careful! Our razor is ridiculously dangerous!

But shifting to non-violence, my last commercial frustrations are those for laundry detergent. Apparently the science behind laundry detergent has really come leaps and bounds the last couple years because it is so concentrated now it seems like you can go 20 years on the same bottle of detergent.

It’s 3 times concentrated, not it’s 5 times concentrated, no 10. Use a half a cap full, no a teaspoon, no a drop, no actually just wave the bottle of detergent above the washing machine and it will do the work magically. You don't even have to open the bottle. On bottle will last you a lifetime.

I fully expect to walk into the detergent aisle of the store and just see some product that comes with an eyedropper for you to dispense your cleaning liquid.

I have a hard time believing all of these claims since when I do my laundry and start to pour the tiniest bit into the machine I almost always doubt myself and say, no you know what, I should add more. I just feel safe with too much as opposed to too little.

But I suppose part of it is my own fault since I buy the unscented detergent, I can’t tell if my clothes smell clean just… not dirty. Who knows, maybe I am not the target clientele for these advertisers. Maybe there is some other breed of super human to whom these products apply.

But then again if you can shave your face in 29 seconds and paint your entire house effortlessly without spilling a drop, you probably have no need for detergent anyway.

Jerk.

I Used to Steal

My parents don't know this but I used to steal. It was nothing big, nothing that could ever get me in serious trouble with the law, mostly just candy. It wasn't something I did a lot, just something I did when I was really jonesing for some sugar and didn't have any money. And what 8 year old actually has money? And besides I almost never got caught.

Almost.

I was obsessed with candy as a child. I used to get a 2 dollar allowance for doing my chores which included cleaning the bathroom and taking out the trash. I spent most of it on a candy called Nerds, tiny neon colored shaped pebbles of pure sugar. I bought boxes and boxes, often finishing them before I could walk the 2 blocks back to my house. I also bought War Heads and Tear Jerkers and other violently named candy.

I remember one night being in the car with my family coming home from some function. We all were in our usual seats. Dad was driving, I was in the backseat behind him, mom rode shotgun, and my sister behind her. We were almost home but for some reason we stopped at a 7-Eleven convenience store.

As soon as we got in the store I saw a gigantic York Peppermint Patty. One of the big ones. The ones they ate in the commercials where people bit into a York Peppermint Patty and immediately launched off a ski jump or dove off a cliff. I wanted one so bad. So when nobody was looking I grabbed one and discreetly put it in the pocket of my coat.

I was so eager to eat it I was nearly convulsing. We got back into our car and as soon as our doors were closed and the dome light was out, I turned toward the door and discreetly unwrapped my treat. I could barely contain my excitement.

I took great pains to not make noise when unwrapping it, and even greater care not to breathe out in the general direction of the car. I knew that if anybody smelled my minty exhalation I would be found out. So I took small bites and carefully exhaled slowly into my shoulder so as not to scent the air too much. And amazingly, I made it all the way home without being found out.

I had tempted the gods of candy and gotten away scott free. However the next time I tempted the gods, I would not be so successful.

It was the holidays. My dad, sister and I were at Roosevelt Field Shopping mall to find a gift for my mother. I was wearing my black, white, and hot pink winter coat along with my matching hot pink knitted hat with the pom pom on the end of it.

We went into a store called World Imports. It was a store that sold things that might be classified as novelty. Posters, and figurines, gag gifts and those knocked over cups with the spilled beverage that looked real, but weren't.

As a child it was a fun store to be in. Never had so much useless stuff been gathered in one place.

We entered the store and while my father and sister actually went to find a gift, I drifted off to look at random crap. As usual. I gravitated towards the candy. The candy here was different than the candy I was used to. Here it was more unique, more playful, contained in little dispensers that were wholly unnecessary but incredibly appealing.

My eyes settled on a tiny gumball machine no taller than a salt shaker filled with miniature hard pieces of colorful gum. I wanted it. Knowing my dad would probably not agree to it. I discreetly (or so I thought) slid the candy piece off of the shelf, and into my pink pom pom'd hat.

In retrospect, dressing in hot pink is a bad way to avoid the attention of others. Trying to steal something by hiding it in a hot pink transportational device is even worse.

I had barely turned around when I saw him. A big bald security guard dressed in plain clothes who quickly took the hat out of my hands. He got on his radio and immediately called his manager.

This was it. I was going to jail. My Christmas present was going to have to be bail. My heart raced but I said nothing. I didn't plead my innocence or beg for forgiveness. I just stood there like the neon criminal I was.

Meanwhile I panicked that my dad and sister would come back to the front of the store and see me standing next to baldy. By some stroke of luck they hadn't yet emerged from the back of the store.

And the whole time the security guard just stood there, shaking my hat like a day-glo woolen maraca. The rattle of that piece of candy was the rolling thunder of my rapidly approaching fate. Every time he shook it my heart rate spiked. I wanted to scream at him to stop shaking that hat.

We stood there for what seemed like a half hour. I was hot, my face red, my heart the base drum to his maraca.

Thump THUMP shicka shickaaa
Thump THUMP shicka shickaaa

Finally a tall woman with blond hair walked up to us. This was it, the manager had arrived. The security guard explained my crime and showed her my tools as well as the item I tried to take. She looked down at me and asked me where my parents were.

Maybe I told the truth. Maybe I lied. Either way she let me off with a warning. I was embarrassed and relieved all in one fell swoop. As soon as she walked away and the security guard went back to his post, my dad and sister emerged from the back of the store.

Are you ready to go? he asked.

Yes, I said.

Very much so.

Half Price - Full Pain

I received one of those group deal emails that advertised a special discount for a new men’s barbershop: Two haircuts and a shave for a great price. It seemed like quite a bargain. I was interested, I was enticed, I wanted to buy it. At that price, even if it wasn’t great, how bad could it be?

I really need to stop saying that because I have had more near death experiences in barbershops than any other location.

And regarding the discounted haircut and shave I should have known better. I have made enough poor decisions in my life to know when things are a bad idea.

Things like free shaves.

Had I actually known better, I might have avoided the worst 20 minutes of my life. But I was so blinded by the discount I couldn’t think logically.

After reading some reviews online I decided to purchase the deal. I then went to the barbershop and requested the specific gentleman who got the best reviews online halfway thinking that he would be good at what he did.

Incorrect.

It’s amazing who can get licensed to wield scissors these days.

In fact, it is actually interesting how the words Barber and Butcher are just a few letters off. I wonder if they have their beginnings in a similar location. Perhaps there is an institute that screens people for professions by asking a series of questions.

All right so I see here that you want to use a knife. OK how would you like to hack away at a dead piece of meat? No? How about a human head?

Now that I think about it, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the barber shops I’ve been in also had animal carcasses in the back.

So I go to the barber shop for my first haircut. I sit down in my chair and my barber, (we’ll call him Hernando) Hernando asks me (I think) what I would like to have done. So I tell him, and he kind of does what I want, though not without abusing me.

For instance, some barbers, when they comb through your hair and find a knot, will relax and try again slower. Not Hernando, he took that as a reason to demonstrate his wrist strength, which while impressive, did not impress me. And when he ran the electric clippers along the back of my neck I began to wonder if whether or not he’s actually using an electric knife.

So despite the minor violence, I depart mildly satisfied and a little red.

Six weeks later I return for a haircut AND a shave. Again, I see Hernando. Again he beats up my head while cutting off my hairs. And then he tips back my chair so he can destroy my face.

I tell him very clearly (because I’m almost sure he doesn’t speak perfect English) that my face is VERY sensitive so please don’t shave against the grain and don’t shave it twice. Just go once with the grain.

Hernando says:

 No worries. I’ll take good care of you.

I laugh because that is what I do when catastrophe is at hand.

As soon as Hernando starts, I realize, he is not a barber. He is a barbarian. Conan with clippers. Attila with a straight backed razor.

Had my face been made of sun weathered leather, his treatment might not have been so bad. But sadly my face is made of skin. Baby soft tender skin with emotions.

I can’t tell you exactly what he did because my eyes were closed so tightly I think I could actually see the past.

There are certain rules about shaving that ensure that the recipient of the shave do not end up dead. One of these rules includes not stretching the skin while shaving the face to avoid irritation. Granted this is something the old barbershops used to do. And since this barbershop was in the "old style" apparently it meant "anti-evolution."

So... Herando is dragging this razor back and forth back and forth across the same swatch of skin of my face like he is raking a rock garden. MY face is not a rock garden. My face is a marshmallow garden that needs to be tended by delicate flocks of feather carrying underweight butterflies.

He shaved with the grain, against the grain, above the grain, below the grain, into the grain, through the grain. And I’m not sure about this, but I’m pretty sure at one point he used sandpaper.

I kept praying for it to be over but it wouldn’t stop. He couldn’t stop!

Finally there was a pause and I was almost positive it was over. But not quite. No it was time for the powder. He put powder on my face the same way Animal from the Muppets would.

The whole purpose of me warning him before the shave was to prevent the pain, distress, and more pain I faced over the course of 20 minutes. I really thought that my warning would have been enough to prevent such a massacre, but not even close.

Now you’re probably wondering why I didn’t stop him. Well I am an optimist and I kept thinking it might get better. I kept thinking surely the pain must be over.

And also I figured it was better that he did his damage to my whole face, so I didn’t have half a swollen face.

At least the good news is I won't have to have my face exfoliated until.. well until my face grows back.

When my shave was finally over, as I stood up out of the chair Hernando looked at me with a face of I told you so and said without a trace of irony, humor, or sarcasm in his voice:

You're very sensitive.

Thanks.

Jerk.

Free T.V.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Brooklyn lately. Now even though Brooklyn and Queens both qualify as outer boroughs, they are very different places from each other. It’s kind of hard to explain the differences in mentality, but there are some specific behaviors that are a lot easier to pinpoint.

For example Queens tends to throw out its trash, while Brooklyn tends to, well… give it away.

Maybe this is because people in certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn are a lot more giving with their belongings. But when people in Brooklyn no longer need something they don’t put it on eBay or have a garage sale, they just… put it in front of their house… like a gift.

On any day of the week, on any block in Brooklyn, you can find random items that you can take with you as long as you want them. What is available runs the gamut: trinkets, tapes, fondue sets, and books. Oh lord can you find books. If you are in the market for a forgettable novel from 25 years ago, the streets of Brooklyn are your paradise.

It’s like a library, if a library didn’t require a membership card and was more like a scavenger hunt where you could play “book roulette” at every stop as opposed to an actual physical location.

Several weeks ago I even came across a pair of tiny pink wooden chairs just sitting outside someone’s house, as though there was a dwarves’ tea party that had just let out. I sat in them for a while before I decided they weren’t for me.

Because I’m not a dwarf.

And I don't have tea parties.

But after several blocks of the usual brick-a-brack, I came across this note card just sitting in the middle of a sidewalk:


I looked around but there was no T.V. in sight, which led me to believe that this sign had been on a T.V. and that T.V. had been taken.

Frankly the sign caught me a little bit off guard.

Imagine you have a T.V. you need to get rid of. You don’t want to put in the effort to sell it because you don’t think you’ll make much money. And you don’t want it to just go in the trash because you feel like that is a waste because the T.V. might be worth something to somebody.

So what do you do?

Well if you live in Brooklyn you put it out to the curb of course. But how can you ensure somebody takes it, how can you make sure that this is something that somebody will want?

Why not tell them “it works?”

Now I wonder what the conversation was like with the couple that took the T.V. I picture a nice husband and wife walking by on a spring evening when they come across the Television and the husband says:

Oh my gosh! Lucinda, look, a television set!
So Herb?
So? We were just saying how we want another television for our home.
Yes, but we want a television we can watch! Not some piece of junk off the street.
Lucinda you are not looking, look at the sign. This T.V. WORKS!
Ohhh it works! Every other T.V. we passed had a sign that said “piece of shit” or “friggin useless” but if this one works…

What surprised me was that Herb and Lucinda didn’t choose to bring that note card with them when they took the T.V. set. If that were me, I would have taken that with me as a voucher/receipt.

Because let us say that Herb and Lucinda bring that T.V. home and it doesn’t work. Then what? Well I imagine they'd want their… time back, don't you? I would want to march right up to the home I found that T.V. in front of and say to them:

Excuse me. I found this T.V. outside your home with a note on it that said “It works” but we brought it home and it doesn’t work. Can you please provide us with some sort of retribution? Like… an apology? Or maybe just a note that says "we lied... it doesn't work."

It’s like some sort of renaissance bartering agreement strategy. The sign is the promise. Once you put it in writing it must be true! It wasn’t the first time I had seen a note next to an item on the street. Usually the note just says “free books” or “washed baby clothes.”

Though I truly believe even if a sign says something has been washed, there is really no harm in washing it again. Just to be sure.

But the “it works” signage is brazen. Because if you leave a T.V. outside in the elements for an indeterminate amount of time, there is a very good chance that when a stranger picks that shit up and brings it home… it doesn’t works.

There is an earnestness to it, a sincereity, almost like… an unspoken code.

There is no mandate that you put a sign with your items, though it might make for more interesting perusing.

Tiny Pink Chairs – Will make you look ridiculous
Fondue Set – Completely unnecessary
Books – Unreadable for the last 25 years

But I myself like this strategy of putting your crap out in a box for anybody who wants to take it. I mean let’s be honest, there is very little difference between putting it out in a trash can and putting it out in a box with a sign.

The biggest difference is you save somebody the time of digging through your trash. I remember when my parents moved out of their house and they would put stuff out to the curb on trash night, nearly every single time somebody would come by and take the furniture we had put out.

But what if we could save people time and money by allowing them to have our old shit… I mean treasures. What if instead of just considering everything waste, we could allow others to judge for themselves? Wouldn’t that make everybody’s life a little bit better?

I think it would. So I encourage you to do the same. And if you doubt that it’s a good idea, well you shouldn’t…

It works.

New Signs of New Times

I am a person that believes that it is possible to convey a message with very few words. Granted this does not mean that I always am an economist of words. I understand I can be rather loquacious. But I think this qualifies me to recognize when more words are not needed, or when some words are possibly redundant.

Recently I have come across some instructions, signs, and messaging that could have, perhaps, used a bit of assistance in hitting their intended goal.

I was in a shoe store recently, one of those self serve kinds where you have to comb through the aisles amidst boxes and boxes of shoes that may or may not be in your size. I pulled a pair out in my size and noticed in the lower right hand corner a sentence that kind of threw me.


Average contents? I believe that when purchasing shoes, I shouldn’t have to be working with the law of averages. If I buy a pair of shoes, I don’t want there to be a “good chance” I’m going to get both of them.

And I know I am the worst person on the planet to be pulling apart math theories here, but as I understand it,  average means that (in this particular case) there are some shoe boxes that have 1 shoe, and some shoe boxes that have 3 shoes. And I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen a shoebox before, but they tend to only fit 2 shoes at a time. So that would mean that there would have to be 2 regular sized shoes and like… a Barbie shoe.

I have no use for Barbie shoes, nor am I in the habit of purchasing them. I would prefer that my shoe boxes contain 2 human shoes… definitely.

Something I don’t have an average need for is donuts. My need for donuts is something many people know about. I don’t believe I have a sweet tooth I just enjoy eat 3 or 4 donuts in a sitting. Does that mean I have a sweet tooth? I don’t personally think so.

But the signs that donut shops put up really crack me up, and not just because they seem to state ridiculous facts, but also because they are written with ridiculous grammar.

Like this one.
 
Not accepting over a 20 dollar bill seems like maybe it is not a great idea. I mean sure, if I go in and try to buy 5 munchkins with a Benjamin, yea, that doesn’t make sense. But what if I want to buy 5 HUNDRED munchkins. Am I really going to have to pay with 20s?

And the not selling the empty cup. I mean, you have to have some pretty stupid customers who are looking for a cup full of nothing. And if they are so stupid as to want to purchase an empty cup, well, I mean I think you should let them. When did we decide to be against accepting money from strangers?

Like the 99 cent store in my town. It is a store so jammed with junk that you could probably buy cotton swabs, electrical sockets, and a sled all on the same shelf.

On the nicer days, they display some of their crap outside of the store that you can purchase. It was on just such a day that I noticed they had some very inexpensive books for sale. But their pricing structure confused me.


First of all, a 99 cent store selling anything for more than a dollar seems like cause for a lawsuit, but I will let that slide for the moment. What I am most curious to is how they came up with their price. Does the $1.17 price have something to do with the 12 per customer limit? Are they somehow opposed to:

A. Selling all of their products?
B. Making more than $14.04 per customer?

Is there some crazy tax law at play here? This really doesn’t seem like the establishment to be capping their business. I don’t really see them expanding their empire anytime soon… Unless of course the smell of asbestos and claustrophobia make a huge comeback in popularity.

On the same day I frequented my 99 cent store, I also walked past a construction site that was nearing completion. Construction sites are usually a mess of safety cones, and signs, and warnings. I don’t pay too much attention to them, but on this recent day there was one that was for some reason on a golden sign that said:


The mystery and sheer ambiguity of this sign really peaked my interest. The number is important yes. Absolutely. But in case of necessity? I mean, why else would I call?

Hello this is the necessity hotline, is this a necessity?
What? Oh no no, I’m just calling to say hey.
Oh I’m sorry sir, this line is only for necessary phone calls. You’re going to have to hang up.
But wait, I really want to talk to you, and if I don’t call you it is not possible to do so. So in that regard this is kind of necessary.
Oh… well.. I never thought about it that way. Continue on then.

I can’t even wrap my brain around the need for this sign. That’s like putting “Please don’t prank call my phone” on your business card. It almost begs that people do so. I wanted to call that number on the sign just to find out what their definition of necessity was.

Perhaps if they put a limit on the average necessity I was allowed, that would have made it clearer.

You're In Trouble

It was a routine day at B3 for me. I was in the cleaning materials department looking for some supplies to maintain the impeccable level of sanitation I prefer in my apartment. I was holding a bottle of tile cleaner when I saw it.

I almost didn’t believe it at first as I caught it out of the corner of my eye. But I did a double take and there it was.


A bottle of Urine Gone.

But it wasn’t just a single solitary bottle of Urine Gone. No, there was a stock of Urine Gone. As to say not 1 but many people have the need to get rid of a large quantity of urine on a regular basis.

My mind instantly went into overload trying to rationalize the existence of this product on our planet. Surely it couldn’t be for human pee… right? I mean this has to be for animal owners… right? For a while I thought the “Beyond” in Bed Bath and Beyond stood for beyond good. Now I realized it stood for “Beyond human comprehension.”

Of all the places I would expect to find a 24 oz bottle of Urine gone, B3 was not on the list. For me, the B3 is a place of fluffy towels, spatula sets and electric toothbrushes, not… pee removal.

If anything I would expect to find a bottle of this product in a place like a gas station, the same place you can buy the malt liquor, red Solo cups, and ping pong balls that would cause one to get drunk enough to pee on a… well... anything.

And let’s also consider, outside of the bathroom, the bed is the place you are most likely to find pee. But that you can clean up immediately by just tossing your sheets and mattress pad in the washing machine.

So this product must be for removing pee from OTHER surfaces and locations.

I had questions that needed answers. Most pressing was this:

What human had decided there was an untapped need in the market for pee removal?

It did make sense that the product was housed on the bottom shelf where you have to kind of surreptitiously stoop down to get it. I can’t believe anybody would want to proudly display this product in his or her cart.

Hey, everybody! Look what I got!

Which also makes me think just what an awful moment it must be at the register when the associate has to ring you up. Even if they were ignoring you, you would think curiosity would get the better of them as they wondered who could need such a product.

I know there are some things that I have been embarrassed to buy, My Ped Egg to name one. And usually I can play it off with a silly comment or self-deprecating joke. But Urine Gone? What the hell are you supposed to say if somebody gives you a look?

Boy did I have a hell of a weekend!

And if you are buying it, it is probably not an emergency because you would have used whatever you had on hand to get rid of that stain ASAP. So that means you have an OLD urine stain you need to get rid of, OR you are anticipating an awful series of events in the near future. Either way, I don’t envy you. Not even a wee bit.

Ha-ha, get it? Wee? Ahh.

I was so dumbfounded when I came across Urine Gone that I forgot to read the label, but upon returning home my curiosity eventually got the better of me and I googled it.

Here is what I found.

Urine Gone effectively removes new or old stains and odors from carpets, mattresses, and furniture. Urine Gone works on just about any washable surface or fabric! Just darken the room and use the Urine Gone "stain detector" black light…

Wait a minute.

Stain detector? STAIN DETECTOR?



Here’s the thing, if you KNOW there is urine in your home, but you don’t know where, you don’t need Urine Gone. You need a home security system complete with motion sensors, HD cameras and a barbed wire fence.

Who is peeing in undisclosed locations in houses? Are there criminals regularly breaking into houses to deface the home and then leaving, doing the old “Pee and Flee?”

If you are using a black light you are no longer a regular person, you are a detective. You are a forensic scientist tracking down human detritus. You are the star of the new hit show P.S.I.

The description continues:

For Pet or People Accidents Non-Toxic Safe for Carpet Litter Boxes Wood & Tile Bathrooms Sofas & Beds...

So there is proof it is not just for pets, but people too. There are people with pee accidents in their home. Many people. PEEple.

I’m not sure what would cause such an accident. Perhaps you have white carpet in your home and you recently brought home an Eskimo child who immediately set about to write his name.

If you go on the Urine Gone site they say:

 If you loved the 24 ounce urine gone, you might like… the urine gone refill.

48 FRIGGING OUNCES OF URINE GONE!

Also on the website, in the “Product features” part, there is this great tidbit.

Don’t leave your house smelling like a litter box… Get Urine Gone.

Hmm OK. So what you are saying is, when faced with the choice of cleaning up pee or just leaving it, most people choose to just leave it? Is that the reason for the arrival of this product on the market? Laziness?

The only thing I found more outrageous were the actual customer reviews on the site.

Mind you these are actual reviews.

I have ten cats, and one of the former-ferals sometimes sprays in the house…

I’m not even going to show the rest of that review because it doesn’t get any better. Ya know what helps get rid of the smell of 10 cats? Not having 10 cats.

I have literally bought dozens of urine removers on the market…

Really? If you have bought DOZENS of urine removers, don’t you think it’s time for a lifestyle change? If you cannot get your animals to stop relieving themselves around the house shouldn’t you be thinking of getting a barn or something? I mean jeez at least buy a tarp.

I have 9 cats and 8 dogs in my house and somebody is always doing something somewhere that they shouldn’t!

17 animals? I’m not even, I mean I just… I can’t…

I think my favorite part of the product is how they don’t specifically advertise but more subtly mention that this can be used in the removal of feces as well. I really think it’s only a matter of time before Urine Gone gets a companion product called, “Damn it, Go Away Poop.”

And I bet you won’t need a black light to find that mess.

Chairman of the Bored

I needed to buy some chairs.

It always starts out so simple doesn’t it?

I needed to buy some chairs because I have been living in this apartment for 2 years now and I have been sitting on folding chairs at my kitchen table.

I use that term “kitchen table” lightly because my kitchen is so tiny that I can’t open the fridge and have a thought at the same time.

My kitchen table actually sits in my living room.

Whatever.

So anyway folding chairs are extremely uncomfortable. I am a fidgety human as it is, but sitting in a folding chair is awful. I have to shift around every 3 minutes until I finally get comfortable with my feet on the lamp and my head under the couch… and then my butt goes numb.

I was getting so angry, not at myself for having not purchased chairs, no, I was mad at my chairs. I was starting to yell at them.

Rich: Man you suck, you know that? You just suck so bad. You are so awful I hate you.
Chair: (Blank stare)

So I decided to buy some nice, new, comfortable chairs.

Having no car and not really wanting to bring chairs on the subway (though that would solve the challenge of finding a seat), I decided to do it online and have them delivered to me thereby saving myself time, stress, and inconvenience.

What I didn’t realize was that I probably could have built my own chairs in the time it was going to take for me to get them in the mail.

I get online and I do my normal dance where I over research something, then order it, then have second thoughts, then cancel it and buy something else.

So by the time all that dust settled I had ordered a pair of this chair.


Exciting right? Yes quite.

Click, buy, confirm, woohoo.

I received an email telling me that the chairs had been shipped from Stockton, California. Hooray! My chairs were on the way!

On March 5th I checked the tracking website and saw that my chairs were “In Transit” in Reno.

And that is when the communication stopped. I went a whole week without hearing about the status of my chairs. I started to worry.

Had my chairs gotten off the truck in Reno to stretch their legs? (Rim shot!)

Thank you, thank you, you’ve been a lovely audience!

But back to my chairs.

Had they stumbled into a casino and lost all of their money? Were they sitting at a craps table with a couple of rough necked barcaloungers with cash to burn? What the hell were my chairs doing in Reno that they couldn’t’ be reached?!

Or maybe the delivery truck driver had lost his mind and decided to keep all of the furniture on the truck for himself. I could see him driving across the country on Route 66 blasting Lynard Skynard with his head out the window laughing like a maniac as he chomped on a cigar.

Sometimes my brain runs wild.

I pictured my chairs sitting on the back of a truck writing me a tear stained letter,

Dear Richard,

We left Reno days ago. I’m so scared. This truck is so dark. I haven’t been sat on in days. I can’t see anything and there is some ottoman in the truck somewhere that keeps screaming in the night. It is so lonely. Help me!

Sincerely,

2 Red Chairs

But then good news my chairs had arrived in Jersey. And then Long Island! And then while I was at work one day I saw my chairs were out on the truck for delivery! And then I got home and… I still had no chairs.

What?

I checked the tracking website to find this awesome tidbit.


Wait why?

What did they mean by undeliverable?

I watched as my chairs went back to Long Island, and then Jersey, and then California (curiously skipping Reno on the way back.)

So now I am seething. I am angry. My blood is boiling, I am red. Red like my chairs, which I don’t have because they have been sent, back to California.

So I call the shipper. The conversation went something like this;

Rich: Yo fool! Why you send my chairs away?!
Shipper: Chill playa, the vendor requested them back.
Rich: Word?
Shipper: Word.

So I call the vendor who sold me my chairs. Now I am really really red and trying to control my voice because despite my best efforts, when I get angry my voice doesn’t sound scary, it just gets higher and sounds like I am about to cry.

So I call customer service and I meet my undoing;

A syrupy sweet lady with some southern drawl who is just a pleasant as a peach. And apologizing her head off for the transgressions enacted upon me.

So instantly I feel all bad, but only for a minute because then she asks me;

Well we can have them resent to you or would you rather just cancel the order?

What do you mean would I rather just cancel the order? What kind of logic is that? Well ya know, I really wanted to start sitting on these chairs in early March, and since I’m not going to be able to sit on them until late March, well, jeez, I mean I just don’t know if I can use them then.

OF COURSE I STILL WANT MY CHAIRS! It’s not like these chairs are going to be stale when they get to me. Unless these chairs are made out of bread… are these bread chairs?! Did I accidentally order the Sourdough Dining Set, because if so, let me know and I will cancel.

But as it turns out my chairs were made out of wood, not bread. And they were resent. And they arrived. And they are beautiful. And I am sitting in them as I write this.


They are comfortable too! So comfortable that I don't have to rearrange my existence every 3rd minute. And my butt hasn't fallen asleep either... yet.

The Magic Word

I was trying to buy Lady Gaga tickets last week (don’t judge me) and I noticed something.

The internet in confusing.

I’m not talking about how it is hard to keep up with your favorite Facebook and Twitter and YouTube videos and all that crap. No. I’m talking about how the internet is supposed to make things easier and yet I am spending more and more time doing one specific thing than I do anything else.

I am talking about verifying myself.

Back in the good old days of the internet (in like… 1996) everything was simple. There was AOL, there were websites, and there was chatting. Boom, end of story.

But most importantly, you could do anything and surf anywhere without verification. Now you need to verify that you are in fact a real live human and not some sort of droid or cyborg or… other bot type thing.

Even though it’s only a matter of time before scientists create a robot that can type in passwords they see on a screen. I mean just this week I saw a news blurb that scientists had built a robot that could balance a book on its head.

And it’s about damn time isn't it? For years I have been waiting for a robot to pass a posture class, and now, finally my dream has come true!

But I digress.

I appreciate websites beefing up protective measures for our safety; lord knows I am not looking to have my identity stolen. But the kinds of websites using this beefed up level of security doesn’t seem to make sense.

For example, I can go on my grocery delivery website, find all of my items, pick a delivery date, order, and confirm it, in less time than it takes me to actually figure out the security word on the ticket buying websites.

Before I even get the chance to purchase my tickets I have to figure this crap out.



What?! And also why? I’m not even sure the tickets you are going to show me are the ones I want. Just take me to the Lady Gaga tickets damn it. You are wasting valuable time! And yet you insist on making me try to figure out this nonsense to even have a chance at that.


Crayoned some? Crayoned? As in did you use your crayons today? Yes, I certainly crayoned today good sir.


Is this 600 or Goo? And one might think there would be a more rational pairing of words than goo and diaspora? Goo is more 5 year olds and diaspora is a bit more college diploma. So if I’m not a robot I’m either a toddler or an anthropologist.

It’s not jus the ticket buying websites, it’s also blogs. I might be opening a can of worms here but how come I can spend limitless amounts of money on my credit card without a verification word, but if I want to write “Ha, that was funny” on someone else’s blog I have to decode and rewrite a password. I feel like our prerogatives might be just the tiniest bit askew.

To me it’s like leaving the door to Fort Knox wide open while we have the Marines guard our Pogs.

I’m not sure how the people behind ticket vendors and blogs became the staunchest advocates of internet security but they are really taking their job seriously.

People talk about the “language of the internet” and I always thought it was ya know, a metaphor. Until I tried to buy these Lady Gaga (seriously, shut up) tickets.

At first I thought it was just another case of the internet being smarter than me. I thought these were words my average brain had not yet learned. But then I started looking them up and realized that wasn’t the case at all.

These words are MADE UP!

I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve commented on this blog before you’ve noticed that the site gives you a word that you have to type in to make sure you are a real person.

I mean robots still must be getting through, because several weeks ago when I wrote about grooming myself I got this tasty comment.

Jimmy has left a new comment on your post "Second Puberty":

You have a nice blog. 
Nose hair clipper is in fact a personality grooming tool utilized to
trim down excess hairs in the ears and nostrils. You can get cheap 
nose hair clippers here
http://www.cheapnosehairclipper.com.


Thanks,
Chris - 
nose hair clipper 

Personality grooming tool you say? Hrmm, I never realized that.

Whatever.

But if the words aren’t made up than they must be words from somebody with poor knowledge of grammar or perhaps a speech impediment. And I guess by this knowledge, robots can’t have speech impediments so they can’t sound it out.

These words might not make sense to you. So I am trying to think of new ways to use them. What follows are actual words I have had to type in for verification purposes. And I have selected some of my favorite words and turned them into a glossary of sorts.

Abbeamin - As in when you walk out side and the sun is out and the sun is abbeamin!

Endazoo - As in when you want to go to the Aquarium endazoo.

Hydrove - As in when you are out of breath and you tell somebody, “Hoh my god! Hydrove all night to get here!

Inessect - As in you gotta meet me where da street inessect with da otha street.

Ovedder - As in whaddaya mean where do you get da free ice cream? It’s ovedder!

Pedder - As in this cat really gets nasty when you try and pedder.

Wadvi - As in wadvi going to do tonight? (This appears to be more of a Russian accident than poor grammar, but for our current purposes it will stay)

Who is coming up with these words? Logic would say they are randomly generated by a computer, but they are just a little too close to actual words to count. I mean, they wouldn’t win you any points in scrabble that is for sure.

I could try and win with a word like "blegemb" but I have a feeling some jerk with a dictionary would call me out.

I suppose I’m just mad because by the time I could finally figure out the passwords on the concert ticket website, Lady Gaga had already sold out.

Frigging internet.

Grocery Shopping

I love to eat and I am really good at it. And while going out to eat at a restaurant is always nice, there is no place more exciting to me than the supermarket.

First of all the market is a super one, they even put the word in the title. But in addition to being super, it is only there that you can find food in all its forms. It is truly the land of possibility. Aisles upon aisles of frozen foods, hot foods, room temperature foods, all screaming, begging for you to pull them off the shelf and take them home.

Rich! Rich! See how good I look in my packaging? You know you want me!

But there is one key factor necessary to ensure a successful trip to the supermarket: A person must know how to buy groceries.

I am not that person.

For as much as I love going grocery shopping, I actually have no idea what I’m doing. I mean not even half a clue. I think most guys don’t. It’s built into our DNA from our days as hunters. We don’t compare and we don’t inspect labels. We just grab.

Have you ever read about a caveman inspecting the nutrition value on a dead tiger? What about comparing the value of one dead antelope to another?

No of course not. They see, they take home, and they eat.

And that is exactly how I grocery shop. Oh look a jelly, boom, done. Are those eggs? Boom, in the cart. I know I should be looking for certain price points, and nutritional values, but I have a limited amount of time in a grocery store before my brain just shuts down and I start overfilling my cart with protein bars and boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.



God I love cinnamon toast crunch. (Interesting side note: I have never in my life closed a box of cinnamon toast crunch, if I open one, I immediately eat the entire contents and then just throw out the empty box)

Men are susceptible to easily found items. Spending time foraging in a supermarket is not really our thing. I’m actually not sure why all the staples aren’t located right next to the cash register. I mean operating on that mentality in the current setup most of us would survive only on Beef Jerky, Juicy Fruit, and a copy of US Weekly.

You will never see a man looking as confused as he will standing in the aisle of a supermarket. What it really comes down to is that men get into trouble when we are given choices.

Confronted with a hot blonde and a hot brunette, we will inevitably try to go for both. Faced with a shirt that we don’t know whether to dry clean or launder, we will do neither.

That is why the grocery store is a perfect storm of possible poor decisions. The first time I went grocery shopping in my freshman year of college, I made a grocery list. And even though the actual paper list is now gone, I have unconsciously stuck to that grocery list on every single shopping trip since.

After college there was that 2 year gap where my roommates (parents) did the grocery shopping for me so I didn’t have to worry about it. But I have now been in my current apartment for almost 2 years and I realize I buy the exact frigging things I bought in college every time I go to the super market.

Walking into a grocery store is such a confusing experience; nowhere else do I feel so excited and confused at the same time. It’s like a calculus class taught by a playboy bunny. My ability to purchase groceries depends on what meal I am buying for.

Breakfast? No problem. In fact it is usually the first collection of items in my cart. Waffles, yogurt, juice, fruit, cereal, and granola. Heck, I could do it with my eyes closed.

Lunch? Um, ok, we can do this. I fluster a little bit. A loaf of bread seems right, maybe some turkey, maybe some mustard… and then my mind goes blank. I have no idea what else to buy myself

Dinner? I look down in my cart and see I have 35 chicken breasts and a carrot.

But I think one of my other problems with the grocery store is I only know how to buy food for meals. I have no idea what to buy for the in-between. This would explain why my fridge usually looks like this.



I go to the grocery store and spend well over a hundred dollars on food (not paper towels or tissues or sponges but actual food) only to get home and realize… I have absolutely nothing to eat.

HOW THE HELL IS THIS POSSIBLE?

But this will not stop me from walking over to my kitchen and opening my fridge every 10 minutes as though THIS will be the time I figure out the meal I can make out of yogurt, chicken stock, and beer.

And I’m so bad at coordinating my meals with my schedule that I frequently end up wasting food because I either overbuy food during a week when I’m not coming home for dinner, or I forget it’s in my fridge and pull it out with a thin layer of blue fur.

At which point I dry heave and trip over myself trying to throw it in the trash.

So to avoid being wasteful I started buying frozen…. Everything. Frozen vegetables, frozen chicken. I even freeze my tequila! My fridge may be half empty but my freezer is so jam packed it looks like a cold war bomb shelter ice box.



People who open my freezer might wonder what it is that I know that they don’t.

Even if I do manage to keep my food fresh I still find myself buying the same ingredients over and over again because I make the same things pretty regularly. Since I live by myself I’m not really trying to impress anybody. As long as the fire department doesn’t show up when I use my skillet, I am impressed.

The only time I buy new ingredients is when I’m making a new dish. The only time I make a new dish is when, let’s say, I have a date. And I go on a date about once every… 18 months. So at this rate I should know how to make about 6 things by the time I get married.

Unless of course the woman I marry happens to be incredibly wealthy in which case we can eat out every night.

Now that I think about it, that is a way better idea than trying to get my wife to like chicken stock beer yogurt. Yea forget grocery shopping, I’ll just marry rich.

Be Nice and Say Cheese

Manners: They are rare and elusive like a good doctor or a unicorn. While I would like to think I am a patient and loving person, I constantly find myself bemoaning the lack of manners and politeness in society.

For instance, I get all silently bitchy if I hold open the door for somebody and don't receive a thank you.

"You're welcome" I'll mutter extremely sarcastically to myself like a cranky old woman before storming off, all the while complaining about the deteriorating quality of the human race.

Now I know I can be a bit extreme about some things but I don't think I'm alone on this one. If you are looking for a conversation starter just mention how somebody was rude to you recently and you will light one hell of a fuse. The funny thing is those people who love to talk about their personal indignation were probably the same people who didn't say thank you when somebody else held open a door for them.

Bastards.

But I digress.

Now I think big cities get an unnecessarily bad rap, especially New York. Something about the hustle and bustle and the constant motion can be a little off-putting to people who are not used to it. Eight million people in a hurry to get where they need to go can come off as rude.

And aside from the staff at Trader Joe's (the people there are so dang friendly) I rarely walk out of a clothing or grocery store and think to myself, "Wow, the friendliness and eye contact of the sales staff in there was incredible!"

And I love living in New York. The energy, the opportunities, all of it is fantastic. But as I have detailed several dozen times in this blog, sometimes even this native New Yorker can lose his cool living there.

It usually happens on the subway when I'm in a pissy mood because I burnt my Ego or something. I'll be standing on the subway and some Neanderthal is pushing thorough the train car without regard for anybody and I think "If I just leaned my knee out a little bit they would trip and it wouldn't really be my fault."

Then I catch myself and realize I am a bad person. And I realize I need to get away.

I then usually take some time off to visit my parents in South Carolina where things are quite the opposite of what they are in New York. Things move slower. People are good natured and jovial. OK maybe not jovial, but the sales staff in stores are strikingly friendly. So friendly in fact, that it confuses me sometimes.

My dad and I went into the grocery store to get some lunch meat for, well, lunch. He was already at the deli counter when I met up with him and as I walked up to the counter the meat slicing lady said, "I will be right with you sir." I paused for a moment and looked around slightly confused. Who was she talking to? Was she talking to me? I hadn't even spoken to her. Why was she acknowledging my presence if I hadn't made some sort of a complaint or yelled at her.

I smiled to myself and just enjoyed the moment. It was so polite of her to acknowledge my presence without any precursor. Just, oh there is a human, let me make him feel welcome. This is a stark contradiction to when I normally go buy lunch meat and have to throw multiple bags of pumpernickel in the air just to get someone to notice me.

After I got over my flusterment I watched as the deli lady sliced a half pound of yellow American cheese for us and do something extraordinary.

First of all she sliced one piece of cheese and then asked me if I would like a sample.

Of course I would like a sample!

In the history of my life there have almost no instances where I didn't want to taste a sample. In fact when I was a kid, my friend Mike and I would walk around the food court at the mall feeding ourselves exclusively on samples.

I did this same thing in my college years at Costco around lunch time. But there you have to battle the old fogies who line up 20 minutes early for a cocktail weenie or a crab puff.

So back to my deli lady who is offering me a sample. And not just one sample, but for every single meat and cheese we ordered (4 in total) she offered up a sample. I should have just held up a sign like Wile E. Coyote that said "Yes I would like a sample" so she didn't have to ask.

But then she did her most magnanimous act of all. She finished slicing the cheese and put it on the scale to make sure it was indeed a half pound like we had ordered. Seeing that the weight was just slightly over the correct amount she took 2 slices off the pile, weighed it again, printed out the ticket, and then added those slices back onto the pile.

In essence what she had done was not charged us for some cheese.

She had given us FREE CHEESE!

This woman was a vision. A meat slicing prodigy. I wanted to take her home with me and install her at my local grocery store where they don't even look at me unless I happen to actually be laying down on the counter.

Now I'm not saying people in New York aren't friendly. You meet plenty of sparkling personalities in my dazzling city. But sometimes you forget just how nice people can be.

And you certainly forget what it is like to get some free cheese!

I really shouldn't' have been caught off guard by such a small gesture. I shouldn't have whispered to my dad, "Hey dad did you see what she did? Did you see?!" But I did. Now I'm not suggesting that everyone give away free delectable sandwich products. But I think it does say something about a slower pace of life where people are friendly and go the extra mile with you.

So for these reasons and several more, I have decided I am ready to retire.

To be continued...

Sample Crazy

People be crazy. I think we've already established that but it bears repeating. A great place to see people's ridiculous behavior is in an elevator, any elevator. And if you take that ridiculous behavior and pair it with a sense of unnecessary urgency well, ridiculosity ensues.

Being the thrifty, savvy shopper that I am, I sometimes shop at sample sales.

Sample sales are basically a chance for manufacturers to make some money on the items they use as samples when developing their line. The samples are usually available in only one or two sizes and manufacturers sell them at a discounted price rather than just chucking them.

Attending sample sales in Manhattan can be a bit of a contact sport because as I've mentioned, people be crazy.

Hundreds of people cram into a tiny room whose original purpose was not shopping. They rifle through stacks and racks, picking up, evaluating, and dropping, looking for that 80 percent off diamond in the rough.

It is especially intense on the first day.

I went to a sample sale a couple of months ago during my lunch break. I realized this might have been a bad idea as I was 1 block out of my office when I caught my pants on some construction scaffolding and tore an industrial size hole in the side of them.

But I continued on, because now I had to buy pants.

The first day of this particular sample sale started at noon. It was in the corporate offices of the brand. I arrived in the lobby of the building and was told to head up to the 12th floor. I walked over to the elevator, pressed the button, and waited.

Almost immediately I was joined by a frantic woman who looked as if she were late for something very important. Like she was the owner of a winning lotto ticket and she had only 2 more minutes to cash it in. Surely she had actual important business to attend to. Surely she was not on her way to the sample sale.

As I stood there, she jabbed the up button. Repeatedly. She would step back to see if either of the elevators had opened up before stepping forward to continue jabbing the button.

She turned to me and with obvious frustration and asked;

Are they working?!

How the heck should I know? I was not, at that time, wearing a monochromatic jumpsuit that had "Rich's Elevator Repair" embroidered across the chest. And based on my button down shirt and ripped chinos, I can't imagine I appeared to be anything other than a corporate stiff with a hole in my pants waiting for a functioning elevator.

But presuming that I am a semi-competent human being, why on earth would I be standing waiting for an elevator that wasn't coming?

Are they working?

No ma'am but I sure am an optimist.

I mean what was I supposed to say to this lunatic? According to her "logic" if I waited for broken elevators I was probably also the type to try and board cancelled flights and make calls on a dead cell phone.

Trying not to be judgemental (seriously I tried) I figured she was probably late for an important doctor appointment that she had hustled across town for. It was a feeling I could relate to so I tried to put myself in her shoes.

Thankfully the elevator arrived and she flew into it as I gingerly followed. I was going to push the button for floor 12 but stopped when she pushed it before me.

Hmph. I guess her appointment is on the same floor as this sample sale. Because honestly, who would get that worked up over poplin casual shirts and merino sweaters. Surely not this woman. Surely she was not going to the sample sale.

When I got in she looked to be about seconds from a breakdown. She was practically shaking. The elevator doors closed and we started moving but stopped on floor 4. The doors open but nobody came on. So instantly she jabbed the door close button and proceeded to hold it until the doors closed all the way.

I halfway thought she might take her thumb off of it once the doors did close, but no, she did not.

She kept her thumb on the door close button for the rest of the trip up to the 12th floor... as though this would really make a difference.

If she had taken the time to turn and look at me she would have realized I was starting at her with my mouth wide open. I couldn't look away. She was ridiculous. A frantic woman completely devoid of logic who was late for what? A child birth?

She kept her thumb on the button as though removing it would cause the doors to fly open and her to be vomited from the elevator out into the bowels of cold black space. Like keeping her finger on this button was keeping her entire life together, and removing her thumb would cause her appendages to explode off her body like some sort of children's action figure.

Crazy Elevator Lady - Now With Exploding Appendages!!!

I started to realize this woman was so ridiculous she might actually be on her way to the sample sale. Surely she was pressed for time and had to hurry in order to take advantage of this super advantageous scenario. But she couldn't really believe that holding that button would take us express up to the 12th floor.

Could she?

What if the doors had opened on another floor and someone had started to walk in, would she have closed the doors on them? Would she have even apologized? Would she have the common decency to at least shout;

"I'm sorry but there's cashmere up there!" as the doors amputated her sentence like a guillotine.

Nothing would stop her. I have no doubt she would have closed the doors on the pope, had he an interest in cold weather accessories and accidentally disembarked on the wrong floor.

We arrived on 12 and sure enough, the sample sale was the only thing there. She flew out of the elevator and into the sale, leaving me in her dust. And I was left with but one thought:

I hope I get to the pants before she does.

Losing It - Part 1

I am not an angry person. Most days I am quite the jovial bloke. I walk around town with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. But sometimes, the general mental incompetence of a select few pushes me to the edge of my sanity, causing me to lose my cool and have a small irrational meltdown.

I had mentioned before how some frustratingly detached vendors were making me angry. After a brief series of poor interactions with said vendors things got better. In fact, I had great interactions with many people. I thought my unfortunate collection of events had passed.

I, of course, was wrong.

It all started at the post office. Nothing especially memorable happened there, the place is just awful. No matter how hard I rack my brain I can think of few places on earth that are more awful than the post office. I mean at least the department of motor vehicles has seats! And there is the excitement in the air of teenagers thirsting for freedom has they get their license issued to them for the first time.

But the post office has absolutely no joy. None. Have you ever seen anyone completely beside himself to buy a stamp?

No.

Everything about the post office says; "You will wait on lines, I will give you attitude, and you will leave here depressed, crying, and possibly broke."

Let me point out that I am not anti postal worker. I am very pro postal worker. In fact, mailmen and women are some of the friendliest people in town. They are super friendly. Heck, my grandpa used to be a letter carrier for many years and they just don't make them any better than my grandpa!

But the people who work in the post office... dude... I don't know what happened to them in their lives, but it certainly wasn't good.

I think one of the big issues with the post office is that nobody moves with any sort of purpose. It appears to be some sort of time vacuum. It is all slow motion and madness. The building doesn't even look like it is open to begin with. Everything looks worn and broken and the customers in there don't have the time to be there in the first place.

Plus it seems like to do anything you have to fill out 8 forms in triplicate. There is like 1 pen in the whole damn building and that piece of shit is hanging from the counter by a braided piece of tape and string that looks like it was tied there by a one armed monkey.

The post office is 90 times more difficult than it needs to be. The automated machine is the only good thing there. But of course there is only 1 of them and it has a purchase minimum. I try to use it for everything but it is just not possible. And god forbid I need to buy 1 stamp I have to actually go wait on that crazy snaking Disneyland line of misery and revulsion.

Even just standing on that line gives you a glimpse into a hell on earth you couldn't possibly know existed. You feel the hate of everybody in front of and behind you. People's heads swing around wildly, like they are searching for something. It is as thought they think that THEY will be the ones to figure out the mystery of the post office that has eluded man for thousands of years.

Everybody takes turns letting out exasperated sighs. Only like 2 out of the 9 stations are actually staffed and open and you constantly see postal workers walking around behind the counter looking like they just came out of a coma.

I left there feeling like my soul had been sucked out through my eyeballs. And when I'm feeling soulless I head to a place that can provide me with a quick pick-me-up. I turn to my addiction.

Donuts.

Now, I have a discerning donut palate. There are few places that live up to my standards. But when I'm jonesing I head over to a nationally famous donut chain for a cream filled creation of laughter and love.

But what I end up with is a decrepit relic that tastes like I am on an archaeological dig for the fossilized remains of what once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, might possibly, on a rainy Tuesday, maybe known as cream.

In fact it is not only the donuts that have gone down hill at this establishment, the quality of the service has taken a flying leap into the pits of horribility.

It is not just the donuts that are hollow, I am almost sure the heads of the employees are as well.

It boggles my mind because I am not sure what job could be better than handing people donuts.

What's that you say? Oh you want a donut? Oh how awesome is that because I have a donut! I have lots of donuts!

Your job is to hand people donuts. DONUTS! The last time I was in there I told they guy I wanted 30 munchkins, but the look on his face mad it seem like I had asked him to find the derivative of the square root of the metric weight of Neptune.

He asked me to repeat my request again, but I wasn't exactly sure what he was saying because he wasn't making eye contact and I could barely hear the words coming out of this guy's mouth.

I can understand that you may not be some sort of highly evolved brain genius, but surely, SURELY, you must know that you must say your thoughts out loud for other people in the universe to hear you. Right?

He asked me to repeat my order 3 times, but because he was so poor at speaking and making his question clear, I had no idea what was going on and was just getting upset.

Just give me some F#*$&^% munchkins you moron!

I knew I had really lost it when donut holes are sending me to the verge of a brain hemorrhage. You know you are in a bad way when you walk into a donut shop looking for a fight.

While I've come to expect an awful time going to the post office or buying sweet treats, I definitely did not expect to get into a fight in the library.

But that is exactly what happened next.

To Be Continued...

The Agony of Da Feet

When I was 10 the grooming process was very simple. It was barely a process at that. I had soap, I had shampoo, and maybe some hairspray. there was no moisturizing, no exfoliating, and certainly no trips to the store to buy specialty niche items to help me improve my body.

But things have changed a lot for me. In fact I am sure the 10 year old me would be utterly baffled at the amount of crap I have in my bathroom, stuff that I am not even really sure why I own.

Case and point: There is a PedEgg in my bathroom.

For those of you who do not know, the PedEgg is one of those As Seen On TV products that promises to change your life like nothing you have ever owned before. This one promises to do it through exfoliation.

It is a home pedicure device shaped like an egg for reasons I dare not fathom. It looks like this.
















Notice the word "Professional" written on the egg. I'm sure this is to prevent people from getting this product confused with all of those amateur PedEggs you have been seeing on the market. Damn PedEgg impostors are ruining our economy. THIS one is the real deal. THIS is what the pros use.

As with most great inventions, I imagine that someone was at home in their bathroom using a cheese grater to get rid of the calluses on their heel when they had a brilliant stroke of brilliance.

"Wait a minute. What if I did not need to repair my gross feet with the same device that I use to shred my Parmesan? What if I had an object that was cost efficient, tiny, and shaped like a... like a... like a EGG?!"

Apparently there was an unknown demand, the the inventor of the PedEgg came up with the supply. The commercial that sells the product seems to be a blend of questionable truthiness. They show the PedEgg blade easily getting rid of the dead skin on the bottom of a woman's foot.

OK that seems believable.

Then they show the same PedEgg rubbing up against a balloon and not popping.

WHAT?

How can that be? A device such as this surely must have blades of ninja sharp steel, sharpened to a microfinish by the finest craftsmen to enable us to smoothen our feet! But for it to not pop a balloon? Blasphemy I say! Witchcraft!

So after I stopped yelling obscenities at my television, I decided to try it.

Having recently spent a couple of weeks walking through South America with a pack on my back, my feet were in need of a makeover. Nay. An extreme makeover. My all female team of coworkers kept suggesting a "team pedicure" but I felt the PedEgg might be a slightly less embarrassing and more successful venture.

Wrong again Boomka.

I wasn't sure where I could find this item. but, as it turns out it wasn't hard to find one. They are located with the impulse items near the register at where else? Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Impulse item? Really? When i think impulse items I think candy and gum and glossy mags with pictures of half naked celebrities. I don't think... foot repair.

"Ohhh look! Flavored jelly beans and OH MY GOD my feet DO need to be scrubbed with a plastic egg!"

So I buy my egg (20% off of course) and bring it home. My excitement gets the better of me and I open it immediately. This would be like Christmas for my feet. Though it seemed unnecessary to do so, I read the instructions. I wanted to make sure this really was as easy as had been advertised.

My elation quickly turned to frustration as I started using the PedEgg.

My first problem with the PedEgg is using it requires my leg to be in a yoga position I can only describe as Crouching Neanderthal. Keeping my leg folded up in that stance for more than 4 consecutive seconds without collapsing and smacking my head on the sink is a miracle of strength and gravity.

I finally managed to get myself into proper... um... PedEgging form by sitting on the toilet and leaning against the wall.

Once I was able to accomplish such a feat I began Pedegging myself. Giving myself a PedEggcure if you will. I started out gently, worrying that I would turn my foot into a bloody stump if I wasn't careful.

But that wasn't enough so I applied a little more pressure.

And a little bit more.

And a little bit more.

And a little bit more until I was scrubbing the bottom of my foot so hard I thought I was going to blow my rotator cuff or need Tommy John surgery. Because as far as the PedEgg is concerned, it appears my feet are made out of Balloons.

But I also still had to do the other foot. which means I had to move the PedEgg to my left hand. Now I can barely even wave with my left hand, never mind contort my body into a pretzel while simultaneously sanding off the heel of my right foot. This process took considerably longer.

I checked the results of my effort. Sure my foot was smoother but I was disappointed. If I do a cost benefit analysis on my purchase I come to the conclusion that having a smooth foot is not worth having to pay for a shoulder replacement.

So I just gave up and did what any other guy would have done.

I went and got a pedicure.

Rich Boehmcke Might Be...

I’ve been questioning my identity as of late. Not so much about what I am doing with my life, but more so who I am. And it isn’t based on my personal insecurities. The factors are more external.

I subscribe to a lot of magazines. Some of these include GQ, Esquire, and Details. These are the kind of monthly publications that define masculinity.
Yay I'm a man. And because those magazines are published by large media conglomerates that publish other magazines, I sometimes get solicited to purchase subscriptions to those other magazines.

Usually I get solicited for other magazines in the same genre.

No big deal.

But then I got a letter from Out Magazine.


Out magazine, for those of you who do not know, and are incapable of deducing, is a gay men’s lifestyle magazine.

I have never read the magazine before. It could be good or it could be bad, I really have no idea. The existence of the magazine has no effect on my life. I really don’t care.
But I myself am not gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that), so why are they soliciting me?

I think 1 of 2 things happened. Either I was accidentally solicited for the magazine, or somebody took a look at the magazines I subscribe to and said, “Hrmmm, ya know… Rich Boehmcke might be gay.”

I kind of laughed it off. It was a funny story for around the water cooler or to tell my friends. I even held onto the envelope for a while so I could remember to laugh about it and tell other people.

I forgot about it. Life went on as usual. All was well and good.
That is, until I received a second solicitation from Out magazine.
It was like after they sent me the first one, they seemed concerned that I had not responded. And they said, “Really Rich? Are you sure you’re not gay?”

I had to sit and ponder. Were they really questioning my sexuality or was somebody there just screwing with me? I turned down my KD Lang CD so I could think about it for a while.

I am a gmail user. I love gmail. One of the more unique features of gmail is the smart ads that appear in a bar at the top of the page. These ads are customizable. But for the most part they solicit you with advertisements from large corporations based on the subjects or content of your emails.

Lets say you are doing a lot of emailing about apartments, you might see an add at the top of the page for “SCOTTSDALE APARTMENTS STARTING 149K.”

That makes sense. Once in a while I’ll click on the ads. I don’t always pay attention to them though. But recently one caught my eye.

ColonCleansingDiaries.com - Read The Reviews On Dual Action Cleanse Before…

My eyebrow raised and I did a double take. I wasn’t really sure what to think. I stared at the advertisement for a moment. I then scanned the 30 or so emails in my inbox to see if I could uncover the reason for the solicitation.

Had someone sent me a poop joke? Did I tell someone I was having a crappy week? Had I mentioned I use a #2 pencil?

No. Nothing. I had no emails of the sort in my inbox. I was left to believe that based on my emailing and internet searching tendencies, somebody at Google was left to think, “Hrmmm, ya know… Rich Boehmcke might be constipated.”

But my relief turned quickly to confusion. What kind of entity found it necessary to put information about colon cleansing into diary form?

Was this somehow more comforting for some people? I can imagine the conversations.

Wife: Hunny come read this.
Husband: Ew I don’t want to read about Colon Cleansing.
Wife: Oh sweetie, you know you’re backed up.
Husband: That’s true.
Wife: And besides, it’s written in diary form. It’s private and discreet and honest.
Husband: Oh alright, if it’s in diary form.

No way dude. Noooo way. I am not clicking on that link.

And then I got piece of spam (it was spam right? Right?) with an offer for a FREE COLON CLEANSE.

Sigh.

I understand that internet spam hooks some people. Trial Viagra, free laptops, and fifty seven million dollars from an African prince seem like great offers.

But why would anyone, based on an email, that came to them out of nowhere, go somewhere and let someone do… THAT to them. I would love to see the response rate for that email. I’m sure the number would shock me.

I also have an email I use just for junk. You know, the kind of email you use for signing up for contests, joining online newsletters, or subscribing to mailing lists for weekly coupon updates.

There was one department store I like that I figured was worth signing up for the coupons. They have great sales and I figured it would be good to get regular coupon updates from them. So I put in my information and I immediately started getting weekly emails.

They were all well and good until I got one with a particularly disturbing headline.

SPANX.

For those unfamiliar (this blog is so informational) Spanx makes "body shaping" undergarments designed to give the wearer a slim and shapely appearance. Many famous people wear them. People like Oprah.

Again I was confused. Hadn’t I checked off my preferences for the email? Coupons for men’s items only! Even if they were soliciting me to buy this as a gift for someone, has any man ever bought a woman control top panty hose? Ever?

But once again I was left with only one possible solution. Based on my shopping and searching, somebody at this department store was probably saying to themselves…“Hrmmm, ya know… Rich Boehmcke might need some body shaping undergarments.”

It has taken me some months now to become comfortable with the fact that I am NOT a constipated homosexual with weight issues.

That is until I check my email again. The sad thing is, I don't even know what I get to be insecure about next.

Discount Happiness

I have a problem. I love coupons.

But it’s not all coupons that I love. No, there is a particular coupon that tickles me unlike any other. A coupon, that upon sight of, I begin to engage in semi-ridiculous and (once again) seemingly irrational behavior.

And that is the coupon for a store called Bed Bath and Beyond. My friends constantly make fun of me for being what they call “obsessed” with Bed Bath and Beyond, or the BB&B as I like to call it. And I suppose it’s only fair because I used to make fun of my mom for the same thing… until I became her.

For a long dark time in my family’s life, there was no Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I don’t know where we got our toiletries. Maybe we borrowed them, perhaps we stole them. But I remember BB&B suddenly bursting on to the scene later in my teen years. Before the arrival of the BB&B, all bed and bath stores were alike, there was no beyond. But once the Beyond came into play, there was no turning back.

If I needed deodorant, toothpaste, or hair gel, my mom would say to me. “Go to Bed Bath and Beyond, it’s cheaper.”

What made it cheaper was Bed, Bath, and Beyond’s infinite stream of never expiring 20% off coupons. They send them out nearly every week, they are good for any item in the whole store, and they never expire.

And back when their competitor Linens and Things was still in business, BB&B accepted their coupons as well.

What also makes the coupons unique is the fact that they aren’t normal sized, they are giant. Their coupons are large, half page sized, so you can’t even put them in your pocket. You need like, a man purse (also known as a murse) or wagon to transport them all so that when you get up to the counter with your 6 items, you can save $2.50.

It is kind of like trying to buy something with one of those giant celebrity checks they give out at golf tournaments. Every time I use them I expect the cashier to ask me to smile for the camera.

Now back when I was 19 years old walking through BB&B, the store itself was a little overwhelming. A whole section for towels? How many aisles of bedding sets were really needed? And pots, Jesus how many pots and pans could one person use? (Answer here)

But nonetheless every time I needed toiletries, I would end up at that store. It was a pretty basic trip, grab my necessities and then split.

But then again I was the only 19 year old male in Bed Bath and Beyond during the summer trying to get 20 percent off Crest white strips with a 2 year old Christmas coupon from Linen’s and Things.

However, now that I am a homeowner with an apartment full of needs, guess where I go for nearly everything?

And it’s not even just a normal enjoyment I get from the BB&B, its kind of an obsession. When I tell my friends I have to go to Bed Bath and Beyond to buy deodorant, they make fun of me. But you know what, if you had to pay 8 dollars for the fancy deodorant your dry cleaner got you hooked on like a crack junkie, and you could get a buck sixty off the price with a coupon that came in Sunday’s flyer, you’d be no different than me.

I don’t just collect the coupons, I horde them. I have a little place where I stash them in my apartment and then after several weeks I examine my stash to see what a collection I have, and then I skip merrily to BB&B.

And yes I admit, if my neighbors don’t take their coupons when they get home, and they just leave them sitting on top of the mailbox, well… I take those too.

Plus the fact that BB&B coupons get mailed out with the name of the resident on them. The woman at the register is scanning coupons in which every other one has a different persons name and apartment number on them, all while I stand at the register and try to pretend I didn’t steal, ahem, save those coupons.

It’s exactly the same as when I would go to parties as a kid. Right when everyone was going home I’d run around the banquet hall collecting all the left behind favors, ultimately confusing my mother when I’d come home with 11 mugs that said “Melissa’s Bat Mitzvah.”

I know this really is obsessive but I even took a day off in the fall to do some of my shopping. It was fantastic, and quiet. I bought all the things I need. And just so you know, the best day to go is Friday morning because that’s when they replenish all the stock.

Honestly they work really hard on that Beyond part. They should really call it Bed Bath Above & Beyond. I mean sure we are all susceptible to the impulse items by the register, but the whole damn Bed Bath and Beyond is impulse items!

Everything seems like a really good idea. Cedar shoe trees? Sounds good. Shower curtain liner (which I didn’t even know I needed)? Check! Arm and Hammer refrigerator baking soda with color indicator strip? Don’t mind if I do!

Recently I went in with a list for these 5 things:

Toothpaste
Toothbrush
Toilet Paper
Dish scrubber
Belt Rack

Here is what I bought

Sun block
Mesh dish scrubber
Arm and Hammer Refrigerator Baking Soda
Belt Rack
2 cedar shoe trees
Extra long sponge dish scrubber
Soap
Tissues
Tooth paste
3 tooth brushes
Toilet paper
2 allergen free pillow covers

What was supposed to be a simple shopping trip had me walking out with a receipt that looked like the Declaration of Independence.

So how did I go in with the intent to spend 20 dollars and come out spending 96? Well obviously… I have a problem.

I think it’s fair to say that some months I spend more money at BB&B than I do on alcohol. But you know what, the day that they switch the daiquiri mix they sell from virgin to loaded; you can guess where I’ll be.

God I love coupons.

The Price of Being Ripped Off

How much does stuff cost any more?

I understand that things like inflation and the global economy can raise prices, but things have gotten a little bit out of control. I suppose its supply and demand, but in my opinion I think it is more laziness and convenience.

I was recently ripped off by two different vendors in two completely different stores. I did nothing about it in either case. (That's kind of my thing)

My first rip-off happened this week. I needed to buy a stamp to mail a letter. One stamp, that’s it. The post office is only 2 blocks away from my office but I didn't feel like leaving work in the middle of the morning just to mail one letter. So I just went downstairs to the convenience store in my building's lobby and got a stamp.

To be clear I would like to point out that at this point in our economy regular first class stamps cost 42 cents. That is across the country. The price will be going up soon but the price, for now, is 42 cents.

So I go up to the counter and ask for a stamp. The man hands it to me and says "50 cents."

Fifty cents? FIFTY CENTS? YOU SONOFABITCH! You are marking up the price of a stamp? OF A STAMP!

Isn't that illegal? It was price gouging! It wasn't like there was some sort of stamp shortage.

"THIS JUST IN, STAMP FAMINE SWEEPS NEW YORK CITY."

And it wasn't just markup, it was 20 percent markup. Do you know what that means? That means if I wanted to buy a book of stamps at $8.40 this sonofabitch would have charged me an extra $1.68.

Where is the law? Where is common decency? Where is the morality of business that the Greeks, Romans, and aristocrats have venerated for centuries and centuries?

Gone I guess.

I should have stormed out of there. I should have made a fuss. I should have thrown up my arms and in my rage thrown packages of gum (spearmint trident of course) from his buffet-like display at his knobby little head.

But I didn’t.

Instead I paid the 50 cents rather than walk 5 minutes to the post office to wait on a line for 10 minutes to pay 42 cents for a stamp to put on my maintenance check so I could mail it in a week late.

Laziness 1 – Richard 0

I also had 2 watch batteries replaced recently. One in a dressy watch with a leather band, and one in a sport watch with a rubber band.

I went to the jewelry store on the corner which does have a certain sketch factor to it. The man behind the counter has a booming scratchy voice and an accent that could be from anywhere east of Germany. And, while friendly, he also appears to be completely out of his mind.

When I brought in the leather watch the crazy man asked to see it before he told me how much it would cost. I should have known I was about to be ripped off.

I showed him and he said, "Ooo nice watch." What he was actually saying was, "You probably have a roll of hundreds stuffed in your underwear right now." He then told me the price while shrugging his shoulders as though telling me it didn't matter that I'd lost his cat.

"Ehh… 15 dollars."
I was skeptical, but also lazy. So I just accepted his price and left it with him.

Laziness 2 – Richard 0

And because I am too lazy to find a new watch repair shop I went back to this guy with my other dead watch. When I came back with my rubber and considerably cheaper watch, I handed it to him and asked him how much it would cost. He responds by asking me if it is waterproof. I hesitate fearing what kind of scam my answer will get me into, but I tell him yes. He says, “Ok… 20 dollars.”

20 Dollars? Last time it was 15!
Oh I have to water test it.

Water test it? If by water test it you mean take the watch and run it under a faucet, I will water test it myself thank you. I’ll go wash a dish or something. I don't need to pay you an extra 5 bucks to make sure gravity and air pressure still exist in our universe.

And besides, if you "water test" it and it turns out you botched the job and it is no longer water proof…what then Bruneleschi? What's your plan of action there? Charge me another 5 bucks to tell me it wasn't waterproof?

So not wanting to pay more than 15 bucks I argue again.

But last time it was 15!
Did I water test it?

And now completely lying because I don't like this guy and his wandering right eye that points towards the moon, “Yes, yes you water tested it.”

He concedes and charges me only $15 for 15 minutes of work, which I am almost positive, is highway robbery to begin with.

By that standard, this guy gets paid a dollar a minute to put batteries in watches which by my calculation, if this guy works 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year, he is making $120,000 a year putting batteries in watches. And if he had charged me his “standard” price of $20 this lunatic would be making $160,000 a year.

Either way I am in the wrong line of work.

So I left, happy that I had only been mildly ripped off as opposed to my usual completely ripped off.

Laziness 3 – Richard 0

But the good news is, going forward at least I know what time it is when I get ripped off, whereas before I just had to guess.

Big Orange Bastard

I am going to rob the Home Depot.

I mean, technically I've already stolen from there once, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to do it again. And there is nothing you can do to stop me. It's not my fault, it is the fault of the depot. Here is why.

First of all, I hate the size of that place. It's not a store it's a zip code. It's too damn big. I can't walk from one end to the other without having to stop for a Gatorade and a change of socks. I've been to countries with smaller square footage than that. Every Home Depot should come with it's own public transportation system.

Secondly, I do not understand the pricing structure for the Home Depot. My only option is to buy things in massive bulk. They have put all other hardware stores out of business. Stores that sell things in lesser quantity. I went in to buy 2 nails not long ago. Two nails! Granted its probably my own fault for wanting to do such a ridiculous thing. But Home Depot does not sell nails in packages of 2. I suppose its like going to Costco and asking for 5 cheerios.
I tried to find the nail aisle (which, consequently isn't called the nail aisle. Nails are in the aisle called "Hardware." This is the Home frigging Depot. Isn't every piece of shit in this hell hole, hardware?) 

By the time I finally found the hardware aisle I spent another 10 minutes staring at an entire rack, 6 levels high full of 2 pound boxes of nails. I had no idea what to look for. Technically I was looking for nails so that I could hang my harpoon on the wall. But there were no boxes that said "Harpoon Nails" on them. How do you even inquire about that without seeming like a nutbag nautical weapon collector?


In the "hardware aisle" I evaluated a dozen different nails before I noticed there was a kind of overspill area at the edge of the rack where loose nails hung out. To me this was like being in a Dunkin Donuts at 4 in the morning. Those donuts are all just gonna get chucked anyway, might as well give them to me for free. These nails didn't belong in a box, they were obviously homeless. So I adopted 2 of them and gave them a new life in my wall.
Most of all though, my biggest complaint with the Home Depot is the fact that there is nobody there to help you. I could be running through the aisles engulfed in flames while screaming that a dragon emperor had burnt my village and still, the megadouche in light bulbs would keep his back turned to me and tell me that Dragon Emperors weren't his department.

How many people work at the Home Depot? 5? Maybe 6? It must be somewhere around there, because every time I'm in there, I see one guy at the entrance, one guy at the exit, 2 registers out of 19 open, and 1 confused looking associate walking the aisles telling people he doesn't know the answer to their questions.

I'm in Plumbing trying to find a new drain for my sink. I am trying to get an answer and an associate says "I don't know, I work in cabinets" Well get the hell back to cabinets then because some other poor sap is probably walking around trying to get help from some other associate who can't help him because he works in garden tools, or catamarans, or whatever the hell other aisles they have.

Cabinet man then turns and literally yells, "DAMIEN, YO DAMIEN WHERE ARE YOU?"

I can tell already this is going to be an awesome experience.

Damien comes out of the ether and approaches. He is an older, slightly frazzled Jamaican man who, upon further interaction, seems like he might have spent the first half of his life handling... and maybe even eating out of, lead pipes.
When he walked up to me 3 different customers just started talking to him. He was facing me, as though we were going to have a normal human conversation, but then these cannibals started jumping in, yelling questions like he was Peter Pan and we were his lost boys. Tell us Peter Pan, where is your plaster of paris? Tell us peter pan, where are your filangees?

When it was finally my turn with Damien (not really I just started talking hoping he was paying attention) he pointed to a shelf near my Dad (who god bless him had accompanied me on this trip to Gomorrah) and said, "It's over by dat man." When Damien and I got over to dat man he started rifling through boxes that looked like they had been torn open on some sort of Plumber's Christmas .

There was no order. There was ripped packaging, torn bags, and random pipes hither and tither. Nothing made any kind of sense. I told Damien that I knew the part I was looking for was in the store because I had been on the website and it said online that the part was available in store.

Damien responds by asking me for the part number. I don't have the part number because I don't regularly buy plumbing supplies and I am clueless. So Damien says;


"I don't know man, you got to go on de line. You go on the de line and get de part number and then you bring dat in." Silly me, I thought that if I had seen the simple sink drain on de line, I could just walk in and find it. Little did I know I would be in the middle of a massive sink and pipe orgy of stupidity.

When I finally got and paid for my part I had to hand my receipt to the disinterested looking man in the "Loss Prevention Services" jacket at the exit. He looks briefly at my receipt before running his highlighter over it and sending me on my way. He didn't pat me down, or check the items in my bag.

I totally didn't need to pay for my stuff.

But if in the future, I need to buy 3 screws, or 1 washer, I will just shove them in my pockets and walk out. I will certainly not be paying for it. Unless of course I can find it on de line. In that case, I think I will have to pay.

Midnight Madness

Black Friday has always been, in my family, a chance to make fun of people who are so obsessed with finding a deal, that the laws of rational behavior no longer apply to them. After eating enough turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberries, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cornbread, apple pie, ice cream, and cookies, to fill up a small barn, I usually like to lie down on the couch and sleep until Christmas when I will wake up and promptly do it again.
But some people in America, lets say a couple million, find it necessary to wake up at the very butt crack of dawn, stand on line in freezing cold weather, so they can get 92% off a cashmere hat and scarf set. I even made fun of my dad when he went to Sports Authority 2 thanksgivings ago to purchase a $99 set of golf clubs of which the 6 iron snapped in half like a pretzel rod the second time I used it.
Sure I love a bargain; I would sleep in the changing room of the Banana Republic outlet if I could. But I have my limits. I won’t battle screaming hordes, I will not rise before the sun, and I will not wait on outrageous lines.

So I was more than a little confused when I found myself standing next to my sister at 11:57 pm Thanksgiving night waiting for the J.Crew outlet to open. How had I gone from distributor of sarcastic remarks and condescension, to active nutcase and midnight shopper? What the hell happened?
I lost my damn mind is what happened.
The clever email advertising got me hook line and sinker. The idea of an extra 50 percent off made me giddy. I literally had to have my sister tell me what I didn’t need from the items I was holding when we got to checkout. I get so greedy at these sales.

J. Crew also had a woman whose sole job was to be the greeter. I can’t think of a single human being (aside from maybe a hooker or a crack dealer) who would be happy to see a line of people trying to get into their store at 1 a.m. It takes a special kind of person to be the greeter. If they had made me the greeter, every person that walked in the door would have received this tasty zinger;
“Go home moron face!”
Perhaps greeting is not for me.
While waiting on the epic line I started doing a little dance to the music to keep myself from falling asleep standing up. My sister looked at me and said, “Don’t dance you look silly.”
Really? I am standing in J.Crew on a 60 person line at one o’clock in the morning holding a hundred dollars of merchandise for myself… what dignity am I clinging to at this point?
The woman behind me started laughing. She too saw the ridiculousness of the situation.
She mentions she is having so much trouble finding something for her husband. I looked down at my arms, loaded up with over 100 dollars of merchandise… for myself, and realized just how selfish I was. Not only was I ridiculous, now I had guilt to deal with as well.
I was bargain hunting for myself, in the middle of nowhere South Carolina, with a bunch of school children from Savannah who had showed up 6 hours early to wait for the Abercrombie Store and Hollister stores to open.
I was standing behind someone who said that it wasn’t that bad that they had to wait 3 hours for stores to open… so they could buy underwear and t-shirts. I know those stores are absurdly overpriced but are their underwear and t-shirts really that worth it?
I felt far superior to this simpleton. But, and this might be revealing a bit too much about myself, I have absolutely no will power and I am easily swayed by clever advertising.
Percentage off signs are really what do it for me.
Anything less than 20 percent doesn’t even warrant an eyebrow raise. If it’s 30 percent off, hey I might swing by at lunch time. If I see 40 percent off, I will definitely make some extra efforts to get there. And what I found out this weekend was, 50 percent off, I will leave the comfort of my couch, to drive 15 minutes, to stand with a bunch of nutcases up from Savannah so that I can buy a striped vest and some argyle socks.
Really Rich Boehmcke? This is the kind of man you’ve become?
I think what I found most interesting were the people waiting on a 40 person line, holding 1 item. And not even a big item like a cashmere coat or a new suit. No, they were holding like… a glove… or a sock. Granted there were some people on line who looked like they were trying to clothe their city, but most people only had several items.
In Banana Republic as soon as we walked in I just got on line. I didn’t have anything in my hands so I picked up a tiny purple woman’s sweater. I didn’t want somebody to ambush me and say something like, “HEY ARE YOU JUST A PLACE HOLDER?” I don’t really know if that is illegal, but when it comes to the type of people that wake up at midnight to buy socks, I really wasn’t willing to take any chances.
By the time we left at 2:30 a.m. the parking lot had emptied slightly… but not much, there was still a line to get into Coach, and now there were flashing lights from police cars outside Nike, as something had apparently gone horribly wrong at their sale.
Was the entire scenario ridiculous? Yes. Do I regret going? Absolutely not. Do I now realize that I have no right to make fun of anybody ever again? Well…
You betcha!

Shopping Does This to Me

The Holidays are fast upon us which means soon, we will all be spending way more time in malls and major department stores than we prefer. There will be consumers everywhere. Oversized bags, strollers, and bell ringers will impede our movement throughout the malls of America. But it isn’t the other shoppers in the store that will cause the most stress.

There is a disease that affects millions of shoppers every year, and there is no cure. It is both annoying and frustrating. Have I mentioned there is no cure?

I’m talking about Commercial Retail Anxious Paranoia. People across the country and the world suffer from Commercial Retail Anxious Paranoia, or CRAP. Symptoms of CRAP include

-Frequently purchasing items you don’t need
-Yelling at store clerks
-Wandering aimlessly through the women’s intimates department looking for power tools

I really enjoy shopping. I don’t always have the money for it but I like looking at stuff I might one day own. A nice suit, a sweet laptop, or even a fancy watch are some things that might catch my eye. But when I walk into a store I am so fearful of being accosted by a sales rep or other employee that I go into CRAP Red Alert.

I know most sales people work on commission and they are hungry for that percentage. So when I walk in it is quite an uncomfortable scenario.
Employee: Hi welcome to…
Me: JUST LOOKING THANK YOU!
And I run to the back of the store and hide in a sale rack.
Somewhere along the line I got it in my head that every salesperson in every store is a used car sleeze trying to sell me a 1976 Jalopy. It’s not like I have to leave there with a car, or they are going to try and rip me off on price. But I get so stressed about it that I freak the hell out.
I don’t want to hear what they have to say. I don’t want to know about the sales or special items. And I certainly don’t want to know their name. I am terrified that I am going to be duped, or confused. I struggle to balance my desire to be nice to the clerk, with my desire to get something I actually want. And the internal battle ends up making me look like a raving lunatic. CRAP does that to you.
On the off chance that there is something in the store I am going to purchase, when I get to the register and they ask me if anybody helped me I usually point to the person who tried to say hello to me because I feel so bad.
I think I feel pressured by the pushy sales people. I remember trying on these jeans once at some mall store. I told the woman my size and she brought me some different kinds. “This pair is slim fitting but their great.” Ok jean lady. Do you normally wear boys’ pants? We’ll see if their great.
So cut to the dressing room and she knocks on the door while I’m shoving my legs into these pant legs like a fat kid trying to get into a snowsuit. “How are you doing in there?” I look at the pair of pants that have become immobilized halfway up my thighs, “I can’t get my legs into them.”
Pause.
“Well that’s normal their supposed fit tight.”
If I had been able to move my legs I would have run out of the dressing room and drop kicked her in the face.
I don’t even like going shopping with my friends. I like to go shopping by myself. I can’t be talked into anything that way. This is what is known as Amicable CRAP. Even though your friends mean well, they can cause CRAP to come out quite quickly. Shopping alone is easier. If I don’t love something, I put it back; if I can’t put it down I buy it. And I don’t have to worry about somebody else hating the thing I love, because I’m the only one there. I always agree with myself.
Even when I ask for feedback I don’t trust it.
There is one store that I go into, staffed by a lot of women in black clothes, where everything I try on looks good to them. I can’t not look good in something.
One woman even said to me, “Oh you’re the perfect size, you could be a model… ya know, for fit.”
Thank you for pointing out that I could not be a model on looks alone, because I HADN’T realized that already.
But everything I try on looks great. I could be wearing a sundress made of pink marshmallow peeps and they would say, “Oh yea absolutely, its so you.”
Shut up lady, you’re giving me CRAP.
CRAP does not only apply to the retail industry. Service industry folk are responsible. Like my nice Asian cleaners for example.
I recently brought 4 pairs of pants to my dry cleaner to have them hemmed. They were about 2 inches too long. A week, and 36 dollars later, they are all an inch too short. How did this happen?
Well to be perfectly honest my dry cleaner doesn’t speak the best English. And I was duped into thinking he was a skilled tailor by the sign in the window that said “Tailor.” Any other sign I would have doubted. If the sign had said “Plumber” or “Accountant” I might have been skeptical. But somehow in my head, since this man washed pants, he must also be able to sew them.
When was the last time you asked the guy at the car wash who wipes off your vehicle to take a look under the hood?
Everything looked normal when my “tailor” pinned the pants for the fitting, and then when I came back to try them on, he kept saying “It’s good, it’s good.” I didn’t really think so because it felt a little short, plus I’m standing in front of a shit mirror in a dry cleaner and I know he’s kind of rushed because there are other customers. So I say yes, pay and leave.
I didn’t realize it at the time but I was having a CRAP attack.
It’s not until I start wearing these pants to work that I notice I can feel the refreshing breeze on my ankles. A wonderful feeling if you are at a beach, or in a meadow, not when you are wearing a suit in an office.
My point is, as you rush out in droves to the retailers that haven’t yet gone out of business, and you realize the salespeople on the floor are even hungrier to make a sale; you are likely to have CRAP attack. But don’t worry. CRAP can be avoided. Just stay home and do all your shopping in your pajamas while surfing the internet. You don’t even need to shower to do this, and most importantly, you will never have CRAP again.