September 2017 Archives

no no vaseline

About 2500 miles and exactly two weeks after I last locked up the brakes, it happened again. Not a mile from my Cooterville hotel, Cooter P. McNugget shot across my path, again requiring that I lay rubber. At least this time, I avoided a collision.

As before, I have a recording of the incident. This time, however, I will not be sharing. I can be heard absent-mindedly rapping in the background. Trust that this monument to whiteness was destroyed with great prejudice.

that boy ain't right

When the accident occurred, Fredo was free-ranging in the back of my car. His safety was my first thought. First seizures, then thyroid problems, then lyme disease...surely, a severed spinal cord was Pittsburgh's next gift to us. As I turned around to look at him, I was already imagining 10 years of carrying him outside and holding him up while he pooped. But he was fine. More than fine. He was beaming with pure joy, tail wagging as he excitedly panted in my face.

"Again! Again!" his body language said.

cooterville

I have arrived at what, I think, for the next five minutes anyway, is my final destination, a town in Washington state I shall call Cooterville. I named it this after Cooter P. McNugget, the quintessential Cooterville resident. He has 12 years of public education, yes, but four of them were spent in the sixth grade. He does not read. His Facebook job status is "It's Complicated." Yet he does not let his utter and complete lack of accomplishment or authority prevent him from going batshit about a football player kneeling for the national anthem. This is my home now.

Cooterville is white. Really white. Blinding white. I encountered a black guy today, and I instinctively gave him directions to the freeway. I do not consider oppressive whiteness to be a feature. It is at its best dull. It is at its worst cancerous.

I watched the Steelers’ game yesterday at the local Steelers club. At a whole 18 months’ residency, I was the closest thing to a native Pittsburgher there. “It’s disgraceful!” snorted the Cooter seated opposite me about the Steelers avoiding the whole manufactured anthem bullshit-distraction-from-treason. I asked her what was wrong with me. I love my country. I stand for the anthem. Yet I’m not the least bit invalidated by players kneeling in a dignified protest about a legitimate concern, let alone am I driven batshit psychotic about it. She waved me off, and I have no doubt that she despises me for my lack of oh-who-the-fuck-cares.

funeral for a fiend

The Pittsburgh experiment, declared a failure long ago, finally breathed its last on Monday. As the new owner led me out the front door, I gave the house two stabbing middle fingers behind my back. The owner turned around suddenly.

"I really like these doors!" he chirped.

Oh, me too, buddy. I've never liked them more than I do at this moment. Enjoy the bottle of Everclear I left you in the bar. You'll find that alcoholism helps.

good luck chuck

Two weeks ago, the house failed me one (hopefully) last time, incurring a $1500 repair when under contract. I can't even feel that particular pain anymore. I've had a bouquet of dicks shoved up my ass for a year, now, and one more isn't really going to move the needle on my discomfort. Then the accident happened. Then the same day I shipped my backup credit card and other essentials to my destination, my remaining credit card was compromised. "Why would you steal someone’s credit card number just to go to Jack in the Box in California?" I wondered while I reflexively bent over.

But then something weird happened. Good luck appeared. I was wary. I didn’t recognize it at first. If this guy is good luck, I'm his dog.

I was miraculously able to transfer enough cash to pay my movers and for lodging for the next month. The movers showed up five minutes early instead of two days after never. The southern Baptist millennial realtor’s insurance company wrote me a $4000 check with a smile. My damaged turn signal was just a loose connection, putting me back on track for my long drive. These things might not seem significant to you normals, but this is the sort of luck I haven’t seen in a year. The wanted kind. Let's hope it parlays into someone else pulling in front of my car so that I can double-dip on collecting.

paranoia will care for ya

My insurance company and his were already squabbling about percentages of blame for the accident. My insurance company's Claims Sloth was explaining how these things work—“He said you were going 80, so it’ll probably be 75/25 liability between the two of you.”

“I was going under the speed limit.”

“Well, I’m afraid he said you weren’t."

“So he saw me well enough to assess my speed with certainty, yet he drove across my path anyway?”

“Heh. Yeah. Listen, John, that’s just how these things g—“

“Thank god I have a dash cam, then.”

“You do?”

“Yep. And if you time it and count the lines and convert feet per second to miles per hour, I was doing 33-36.”

“What was the speed limit again?”

It was 40. And voila, the guy’s insurance company, upon seeing their short hairs clutched by vice-grips, called me to accept 100% of the liability. They’re suddenly so nice about it, too.

• • •

Upon hearing this story, Allie audibly shuddered. “Every time your paranoia is positively reinforced, a part of my soul dies,” she sighed.

spittake

A sports talk caller was ripping a Steeler for blowing off training camp. "Dat just don't fly in a hard-workin' town like Pittsburgh," he concluded.

Maybe I should pull over and compose myself, I thought.

In my industry, there's a position called a program manager, or "PM" for short. They do not manage people, yet they're responsible for marshaling them toward the greater group goals. I've always avoided this job like it's gonorrhea. All of the responsibility without any of the authority? What you've got there is the cure for happiness.

Which brings us back to Pittsburgh. I have to PM every last person here, especially the people I hire. If I do not call a person with whom I made an appointment to remind them of their commitment, they reliably do not show up. “Oh, you still wanted to meet?” they’ll say later, with some difficulty because of their constricted windpipe. They do not understand my anger, and although it took me a while to wrap my head around it, I now understand why. No one here is expected to do their job. They’re not expected to do it well. You can reliably expect them only to blow you off and to later act as though man, you sure is patikilar.

I’d bet $20 that the caller was at work when he called, doing absolutely nothing except billing.

ye pods

My pods arrive today, and with them the beginning of the end of my discontent. It almost makes up for my going away present from Pittsburgh, caught by my dash cam in glorious 1080p. This guy actually filed a claim against my insurance. He's a southern baptist millennial realtor, the entitled-asshole hat-trick.

the great sell-off

In 2002, I bought a cheapo placeholder dinette set for my new Metamuville home. It somehow made it to 2017, but it will make it no farther. I've been ruthlessly unloading stuff. The more cubic feet it occupies, the more likely it's staying here. Everything's going into pods. I'm a pod person now.

This has meant the return of my favorite species, the Craigslidiot, into my life. "20 pound gold brick for $3," my ad could read. "Will you take 75 cents?" eight people would respond. "How about a trade for my chainsaw? It worked in 2009."

Those people are easily enough ignored, but then, inevitably, a few of them make it into my home.

"You want some boxes to use as padding?" I said. "Nah," said the guy throwing 11 pieces of free-range metal furniture into the back of his truck. At least he had shame enough not to call and complain after running them through the cheese-grater that was his ride to South Carolina.

"You seriously don't want to ship that TV on its back. Glass has a low tensile strength. Ship it vertically," I said to deaf ears a mere hour before the guy wrote to complain that the clearly defective screen had cracked.

"The chairs disassemble like this," I said, but I was waved off right before the guy ripped the leather on my door jamb, which was substantially narrower than what he was carrying. "FUCK!" he yelled at the gods who were clearly out to get him.

Stupid gods.

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