Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spoiled by a Competing Laundromat!

I had to go to the Laundromat yesterday. I hate going to the laundromat near my apartment. It's nasty and dirty. It's dark inside, like the owner is afraid of using too much electricity or something. Forget about the washers and dryers, let's save electricity by keeping the lights set to "mood." I had no choice yesterday, however, or at least no viable choice - one of the cats horked on my sheets. They're lucky they're soft and cuddly, because otherwise, any reasonable person would have made them into a nice hat-and-gloves set by now.

And the worst part is that I've been spoiled by another laundromat. I was staying with my sister-in-law, and went to the local laundromat, just whatever was closest to the apartment. It's pretty swanky. Big, high ceilings, fully-lit lights. Not one, but TWO change machines. About a hundred old magazines and whatnot for customers to read. And a suggestion/comment box, with complaint cards and everything. There's a cafe next door, and benches outside to sit on.

I had unwittingly run out of dryer sheets, and opted to buy some from the dispenser mounted to the wall. I was a little concerned that there was no price sign on the machine. There was one of those sliding coin acceptors, with slots for two quarters. Using my powers of deduction, I figured they were $.50. I put in my coins, and nothing. I tried two more quarters. Nothing. Well, fuck that, I'm no fool. I just said "to hell with it," and did my drying without the softener. But I filled out a complaint card. Nothing nasty, just the facts of the matter, and the comment "Please put a price on the soap machine!"

Within about 72 hours, there was an envelope in my mailbox with a dollar and a nice letter. I checked, and they did, in fact, put up a price sign. It was $.50, but apparently had run out of product before I got there.

And there was even entertainment, of a sort. Despite my general disregard for arbitrary rules, there are certain social conventions that I support. For example, posted on the laundromat's change machines are signs stating that "These Change Machines are for Rainbow Wash Customers ONLY! If You Need a Large Quantity of Quarters, please Visit Your Local Bank!" I fully support these signs. I mean, I've changed a buck in a laundromat's change machine without doing a load, but I see people get ten, twenty dollars worth of quarters all the time, and it pisses me off. There's no attendant - if the machine runs out of quarters, the store is fucked, because people can't run the machines off of good intentions.

I had just put my clothes in the dryer, and coincidentally had emptied one of the change machines - the red light that says "Out of Service" started blinking as I got my quarters.I was sitting on a bench, waiting for the dryer, and a lady came in. No laundry bags, so I knew she was just going to get change and leave. I watched her as she approached the machines. She pulled out a plastic baggie, whipped out a Ten, and started trying to put it in the Out-Of-Service machine. The one with the blinking red light. The one RIGHT NEXT TO another fully-functional machine. No luck. The machine was rejecting her bill. She kept trying to put the bill in, but failing. She looked around, lost. She backed up, furrowed her brow, looked at the machine closely, and said, "Ohhhhh!", like she finally figured out that the machine was out of money. And then, instead of using the other change machine less than three inches away, she put her money back in the baggie and walked away.

Friday, April 19, 2013

I used to think I was trainable, but now I'm not so sure.

"What trait do you have that would be valuable to this company?" Anyone who's filled out a job application has encountered this question or something similar, at some point on their life. My go-to answer has always been that I learn things quickly. It's true, too. Got a huge cash register with 217 buttons? Gimme four hours with it, and we're golden. Retail bookkeeping and inventory management system? No problem. But I'm starting to wonder if I'm slipping.

I've been cooking at home a lot in the last six months. All of my meals, in fact, or nearly all of them. I've gotten to know my oven and stove fairly well. I know its quirks, how quickly it heats up, etc. I think it might be missing some kind of heat shield between the oven and the stove top. One of the unit's "quirks" is that when the oven is heated past about 400 degrees, the back of the stove top gets quite hot, even though the burners are off. Really hot, actually. I've been known to leave a metal pot on the stove, and had it get hot enough to burn me. More than once. You think I'd have learned.

The other night, I roasted some chicken. It's my favorite dinner, and I make it almost every night. After the prep stage, I really didn't have a clear place to put a few empty pans, so I put them on the stove. I was very careful to make note of them, and I remembered not to touch them, because they get hot. I made myself a salad while the chicken was cooking. When I was done chopping up the lettuce, I set the cutting board on top of the dishes on the stove. The plastic cutting board. It's made of extremely thick, tough plastic, but it's still plastic. Forty minutes later, I walked in to find a pool of plastic in my nicely-seasoned cast-iron skillet. Stupidly, I didn't take a picture, I concentrated on stopping the house from burning down, but I did snap this of the aftermath : 

The deep impression was flowing into the skillet, which luckily contained most of the mess. And I was even able to salvage the skillet, it just needs to be seasoned again.

Have I learned anything? I guess. I've added the burn unit to the list of emergency numbers next to the phone...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Is It Possible That I'm the Asshole, Not Safeway?

Yesterday, I complained that my lack of job has led to an end to the constant stream of ready anecdotes. A result of working in retail is that there are always stories about humorous customers, but it's also true that the simple fact of interacting with the rest of humanity results in strange things sometimes happening. Clearly, I just need to leave the house more often, because when I do, stupid stuff surely follows.

I'm (attempting to be) a writer. I exaggerate at times. I take artistic license. Stuff you read here should be assumed to be generally true, but with some massaging of reality in the interest of humor. But I swear to Dawkins, Jesus, Allah, whatever you believe in, that I am not making up this Safeway shit. I've written about the strange problems I seem to have at the LaPlaya Safeway near Golden Gate Park on three previous occasions. It's become a running joke between me and my roommate. This morning, when she passed my room on the way to the bathroom, she asked "Anything stupid happen at the store, haha?" And of course, the answer was "Yes."

I go in the early morning to avoid crowds. The aisles are full of boxes, but that's OK. Nice trade-off, usually - the boxes in the aisles are always off to the side, unless they are actively being stocked, so there are no major traffic issues.

Two very minor things this morning - no green beans and no chicken. Yeah, no fucking chicken in the whole store, and only canned green beans. Blech. Pork chops and salad for dinner tonight instead. Disappointing, but no big deal. Bacon and whipping cream were on sale pretty cheap, so I called it a wash.

I only needed a few things. I was in the back of the store, at the end of the aisles, and turned down the kitchen supply aisle. I needed dish soap, all the way at the front end of that aisle, right where a couple of employees were stocking. I rolled down the aisle toward them. they looked at me, and kept stocking.  That's awesome, I don't need to be greeted. If I have a question, I'll ask. I got to the soap and grabbed one. I rolled a couple more feet to where the first dude was stocking mops from a big long box. The box was just barely in my way - if I'd been alone, I'd have just pushed it out of the way with my cart, but the guy was actively using the box. He saw me approach, and continued working.

"Is there any way I could squeeze by?", I asked. He reached down for another mop and paid me no mind. So I said, "If you want me to go the long way around, just tell me, don't fucking act like I'm not even here."

He stopped working and turned his head. His coworker a few feet away, who had seemingly not been paying attention, hissed "Move, dude!" The first guy shot him a dirty-ass look, sullenly kicked the mop box the necessary 6 inches, and turned away to contemplate the meaning of life.

As with the last time, nobody involved offered me even a fake, insincere apology. I don't particularly care about that, it just appears to be emblematic of LaPlaya Safeway service. I'll go back, as long as they're the only nearby place to go for groceries at that time of day.

And the guy in front of me in line at 4:45 A.M. had a single item - a tube of Farmer John's liverwurst. The fuck?

Monday, March 4, 2013

I'm Just Looking For Something To Do...

My situation is conspiring against my desire to write this blog. I like to keep it light and funny, but I also like to use my life as a starting point. I have no job right now, however, so that constant stream of retarded customer stories is dried up. My best friend is in Wisconsin, and is at best a bad long-distance communicator, as am I. I mean, what is there to say? "How's that cheese?"

Good god, it's tiresome living in my head all the time. It's so very hard to focus on the future, not to wallow in the present shit show. And I'm not even in a bad mood right now, it's just so discouraging to have nothing in my life worth commenting on, except for things that will make a reader want to go out and hang themselves from the nearest tree. 

I'm stuck on my book project, too. Just fucking stuck. That'll come, eventually, and it'll be a good book, but making progress right now is like wrestling with a cloud. 

I'm trying to find things to do on meetup.com. Seems to have potential, but my god, it's like I've suddenly materialized in the middle of one of those crazy Indian traffic jams. Everyone is doing something, but it's impossible to figure out exactly what the fuck is happening at any given moment. So many very, very tightly-focused groups that, at first glance, it seems impossible that I won't find SOMETHING to do.

I've been doing the OK Cupid thing, too. I've sent a lot of messages, and had about a 20% return rate. I've had a couple of nice text chats with women, but nothing's developed. Just hasn't worked out. Despite the fact that I need companionship, and not just a "girlfriend," I find it monstrously disappointing to make a "friend" on OK Cupid. It's not called "OK, Make a Friend," for Christ's sake. So fucking frustrating. It really makes a guy want to say "fuck it." Especially when it seems just so easy for some people, so goddamn easy. 

Ah, well. Bitch, bitch, bitch. I've got it so much easier than about 75% of the people in the world. I must be a blue-ribbon asshole for complaining.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Insert Clever Pot-Related Title Here

Butch is having particularly evocative dreams as he's sleeping here in the sunbeam. He's been like a log for an hour or so, as I've been farting around on the internet and playing Civilization III. About 15 minutes ago, he poked his head up and craned his neck at me. I stopped playing and looked at him. He held my gaze for about 4 seconds, and plopped back to sleep. And just before I started typing this paragraph, his legs started twitching. Then his head. Then he snorted and hissed at invisible demons as he opened his eyes. And asleep again before I could count to ten.
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You know that scene in the 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with the kids frolicking in the room full of candy flowers and a chocolate river and whatnot? That's how I feel when I go to the marijuana dispensary. I don't smoke too too much anymore, but I've been at least an occasional smoker for about 20 years. For the first nineteen of those years, I was doing it completely illegally - either in a total-ban state, like NJ or GA, or here in CA, but before I got a Medical Marijuana card. 

The entire ritual and experience of using pot has changed drastically since I've been doing it legally. The most obvious change is the fact that you never have to fret when you run low. As a kid, there was nothing worse than a dry time in the weed business. You take what you can get, and pay what you have to, if you're lucky enough to find something. You get scammed by fucking dickheads on Haight street selling oregano cut with grass clippings as "Primo Kind Buds, dude!" And the pot was treated as precious. You make sure every last tiny little speck of green is put to good use, because you just never know. I used to be like a goddamn weed accountant, scraping out the baggie and meticulously sweeping up the nearly-invisible crumbs. Accidentally knocking some loose herbs onto the carpet, where they are utterly un-recoverable, was a relative disaster. 

Now, I have a dispensary that I go to about once a month or so. They have a sign, and posted hours. They make no attempt to hide what they do, as they shouldn't. I can go there and, on a BAD day, choose from a dozen different strains and price ranges. On a good day, there are literally three or four dozen one-gallon containers full of different varieties of marijuana, at prices ranging from cheap as hell, but acceptable product, to mid-priced great weed, to extremely high-dollar exotics that I'd never even consider because of the price. And a dozen or more different edible creations, from cookies to brownies to lollipops. Yesterday, they had marijuana-infused chocolate-covered peanut-butter-filled pretzels. I almost ejaculated in my pants, but unfortunately had to pass, as I don't eat sugar and flour anymore.

I'm toying with the idea of quitting, though. It's about $20 a week (very rough guess) to keep both me and my roommate sufficiently stocked with weed, and that's not insignificant. I know, lots of people spend a LOT more money on their hobby, but twenty bucks is twenty bucks. And it definitely makes me just a hair duller, in a very specific way - I am absolutely useless as a writer after a hit or two of weed. I can converse and act perfectly well, but I can't focus my thoughts enough to put anything worthwhile on paper.

And no, I'm not always high when writing this blog, it just naturally sucks.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Your Oscar Night Recap

I used to LOVE the Oscars. For almost as long as I can remember, certainly as far back as the year "Pulp Fiction" was nominated, I've participated in pools or contests centered around the ceremony - who's going to win, who should win, etc. I even won a newspaper contest for most correct picks one year (I was one of the only entrants who picked Eminem to win best song for that rap-battle movie, which won me a steak dinner.) But my interest has waned as of late. I saw zero of the nominated movies this year. Last year, I saw one (Moneyball). The previous year, two (The Social Network and Black Swan.) I just don't care anymore.

It's gotten to the point that I barely watch movies anymore. I worked at a video store for about 6 years back in the late 90s and early 2000s. I watched movies all day, every day. I had free rein to play anything I wanted, as long as it could reasonably be considered appropriate for kids - no nudity, no hard swearing, that type of thing. It was nice, but even then, I was experiencing some kind of... tiredness of the format, maybe? During shifts, I'd find myself watching the same few dozen films over and over and over again. We had free access to take home and watch ANY movie in the store, with limiting conditions, and we had fully free access to pre-release promotional "screener" tapes of all the major releases. Almost exclusively, I'd take a couple home, and bring them back the next day, unviewed. Why? Just didn't want to watch 'em.

I think it's because there are so, so many distractions at home. There's always a computer to play with. Cats crawling all over me. A channel changer if I get bored. It's never as dark as a theater either, and the upstairs douchebag playing Dance Dance Revolution doesn't help. At a movie theater, assuming it's not full of dicks, which is a risky assumption, the distractions are nearly nonexistent.

I'm going to start going to the theater more often. The last time I saw a movie in a theater was "The 40-year-Old Virgin," all the way back in 2005. I think I've been afraid because I've been so fat for so long. But I've lost enough weight so far that it's fully practical to go to a theater, and I do miss it. I'm also one of those people who has no trouble going to a movie alone, although a companion is much preferred.

Anyway, last night's Oscars kinda sucked. Seth McFarlane as host went off moderately well. He had some fantastically uncomfortable but funny moments. He doesn't seem to care too much about offending people, and why not - he's a goddamn hundred-millionaire, he can do whatever he wants, and not worry about going hungry or homeless. He can sing and dance well enough. My favorite line from the night, which only Robert Downey, Jr. had the fucking stones to applaud :

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lawyers, Stop Being Dicks, Please

All of a sudden, it looks like it's going to be a gorgeous day. The sun is shining, but it's still morning-cold, kinda how I like it. It's not super-clear, but I can see cargo ships in the Pacific - no mean feat, since the beach is about 12 blocks away, and the ships are miles out to sea (or so I assume).

I'm pretty sure it's going to be a good day. I tend to have shitty weekends, but it's been a decent week.

Sometimes I just want to stab my brain right in the goddamn face. I can reason out any issue. I can put any situation into perspective, and say to myself, "Dude, any shitty feelings are just temporary. Just live your life, and don't mope like a 14-year-old Joy Division fan! You are improving yourself on a daily basis." But it's just not as easy as it should be. I'm smart, and I should be able to figure all this shit out, right? Fucking asshole brain.
*     *     *
Someone posted a comment on an older update yesterday. It was the one in which I got hit by a car. Here's the comment :
You're such a nice guy for not taking legal action against the driver. That car should have slowed down since he'll be turning on a blind spot. If ever you'll be bumped again by a car and the driver didn't offer any help; I would suggest you take note of the plate number of that car in case you've been hit and run. Also, call an officer to assist you. That way you can take legal action to what happened to you.
I almost took the comment at face value, as just someone commiserating with me. Then I hovered my mouse pointer over her name, and it revealed her website, a goddamn ambulance chasing law firm. I'm fully aware that blog comments are fertile planting grounds for advertising, but I get so few comments on these posts, that actually receiving one, only to see that horseshit, really pisses me right off. My response :
When I hover my cursor over your name, your ambulance chaser website is revealed. Fuckheads like you, encouraging lawsuits over bullshit, are what makes people despise lawyers. Go piss up a rope.

I'm going to leave your comment visible, and hope against all hope that you feel shame.
What are the odds that she'll feel shame? Do people like this even have feelings as we understand them?