Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Romance without Finance is a Nuisance

You know how sometimes you'll have a song stuck in your head and you can't get it out until you sing it in the shower or hum it all day at work?  Such is the case for this.  When I ran in to you last you mentioned how you shifted from film finance to finance.  At the time I realized how odd academia is to me, like how arbitrary it seems.  Almost immediately after I was reminded of something I hadn't thought about for a long time.    

Many years ago I worked at this motel in Flint.  It was on the North side.  Just like bars, there are different types of hotels for different types of clients.  This motel wasn't for travelers.  It was for residence of the North side to do business.  There was alot of people out from eviction, out of jail, prostitution, drug preparation and sale.  Off the hook parties with gold plated guns.  Half the time I worked second shift and half the time I worked third shift.  I saw alotta crazy stuff, talked with alot of people.  There were alot of characters, I could write a novel about it really, but I keep thinking of this one guy I havnt thought about in a long time.      

It was in the summer and I was working a third shift, waiting for my shift to end.  The sun was up and I had already brewed a pot of coffee in this kraft that I don't ever remember washing.  This coffee was the nastiest coffee ever... I never drank it myself, but these characters... they would.   So on this morning this guy comes down to hit up the coffee and strikes up a conversation.

There's something about being painfully tired and watching the golden morning sun come up, I remember that now.  It's kinda a sickly sweet thing, I remember that now.

But anyhow, eventually I ask this guy what he was doing in town when it had be mentioned that he was from Detroit.  He told me that he was in town for the county fair.  "Man, I'sell'dat" he said.  The type of shit you'd expect to find to win or by at the Genesee County fair, I already picked up on that but he elaborated.  "Man, Bugs Bunny in a Jordan jersey- I sell that.  Taz on a mirror- I sell that.  Puffy on a t-shirt- I sell that"

I know it kinda sounds silly but really, this guy got my respect.  As he told me about what he did and why he did it- he had a son and a baby's mamma.  "You gotta make deals to buy spinner wheels" (this was apx. '03) As he talked to me about this he sipped his coffee (as if it was good coffee, didn't even make a bitter face) and look out the lobby window in to the sunrise.  He did it like any other man greeting any other day would have.  

Ghetto/white-trash looney tunes is kinda funny, kinda... low, I guess.  But this dude did not give a fuck, he was making deals.  Then he went on about things in general.  There were many things said but there was this one thing that always stuck out and because of "finance" I keep thinking about it.   He said "Young blood"  I was much younger than and that's a... I dunno, kinda like a black prison/thug thing, so it was ment to be endearing.  After asking me about life and women and if I had kids  he felt it nessisary to spit some wisdom.  He said "Young blood, let me tell you.."  And there was a pause as he looked in to the sun rise and then turned to me, staring at me with the same intensity as the sun, "Romance" he said the word clearly "with out finance" the two sounded contradictory the way he paired them... "Is a nuisance"    I keep thinking of that, the way he said it "Romance with out finance is a nuisance" It's my song stuck in my head. This isn't a thing that makes me think about love and romance so much as it is something that makes me think about how true things can come from any of the many crevasses in the world.  I really don't know much about love or money but I know what he said was true because it was so catchy.    

I guess I'm writing this because it is my way of singing in the shower.  Also, I think, maybe you could use that chestnut in the future if you're going to be dealing with finance and whatnot... Or even if you fall in love someday, it should be something you're willing to sell knock-off bugs bunny murch for.  In a broader scope, I think this is just a good example of why you should listen to somebody even if you are really tired and don't care to talk to anyone.  Yeah, life is funny like that, sometimes, if you listen.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Where the squid lands

Most the time election polls are in school gyms.  Sometimes they are not.  Sometimes they are in a church.  A few times they are in really random places.  That’d be an interesting article to read, all the weird places they stuck election pulls.  An open air park, basketball court.  A pontoon.  McDonald’s cafeteria.  Voodoo Priestess shanty.  

This year the place I voted at was in a hockey rink.  I’m talkin’ about the booths were set up in the rink itself.  You had to lace up just to rock the vote.  So I did.  It’s been years since I skated so I stumbled a little.

It’s weird how voting has changed in some ways but not at all in others over the years.  When I was first old enuff to vote I voted in a church.  I remember making sure to bring my voter registration card and ID but when I arrived they didn’t want to see any of it.  It was like they would get into trouble if they did check.  I was only asked my name and address.

This time it was totally different.  With shaky feet I skated over to the first table and presented my voter registration card.  They inspected it and told me to do a ‘Tano jump to the table to the left.  At best I did a hop on the skates over there and a young girl who had a small pile of snow under the table where she was impatiently chipping away ice with the edge of her skate.   She asked for my ID and swapped the magnetic strip on the back like it was a credit card.  That was the first time I have ever seen a driver’s license be swiped.  There was a long pause after she swiped it.  She stared into her laptops screen.  Stopped chipping with her skate and put down her book “How To Stay Cool On Ice”.  I looked around me and saw that off in the distance the refs were skating towards me.  Finally she looked up to me and with a slight frown, told me to do a double axle to the next open booth aligned with the rink’s wall.  

It’s funny how there is the underlying, core belief that democracy is what makes the country so damned prosperous but then the actually voting process is like redeeming food rations or something.   They gave me a large cardboard envelope with my ballot sandwiched in the middle.  The ballot didn’t exactly fit all the way so the top 25% hung out, exposing several votes.  The booth they had set up was too small to allow the ballot and the envelope to lay on the table.  The table wobbled and the skates that I had to rent with my own money were killing my pinky toes.

They way you let your vote be know has changed, too.  Before I remember filling in a bubble, like on a scantron for a test in high school.  Now you have to complete a logical puzzle for the candidate that you’re voting for.  Like there will be a series of symbols and then you have to draw what the next symbol should come next to fit the pattern.

Considering how much vital data I have stored on the internet without worrying too much about, I can’t help but to wonder how necessary poll stations are now-a-days.  Or how obsolete the institution of electoral colleges are.  

There’s a lot of skate-markings near the machine that takes your ballot from people doing powerslides next to it.  An older lady skates to it before me but the machine rejects it.  Two other old ladies try to run the ballot in the machine a few more times, doing it exactly the same way each time, before concluding that she must have completed one of the patterns incorrectly.  They toss out the ballot but as a consolation they give her a penalty shot.  

I could tell that she wasn't much of a hockey player but, my god, she gave it the best she could.  Still, the shot went to the far right and missed the goal completely.  There was a roar from the crowed.  

I skated up and fed my ballot, dangling out of the envelope, to the machine.  I sucked it right up and the old ladies gave me a sticker for being a good citizen.  Before I voted I went to the store and bought some gum.  It was a 50 cent pack of gum and they gave me a receipt for it.  Seems like it would be reassuring if this machine would give me a receipt, verifying what votes I had just cast just so I know it all working properly. But that’s American democracy for ya; cool like ice yet kinda janky.

I accepted the sticker and skated off the ice.  Behind me the old lady punched a ref and a power play breaks out on the ice.  I got my shoes back on and bought a Mountain Dew from the concession stand.    

Friday, September 28, 2012

I. O. U. 1 BACKRUB -love- U!S!A!

This places has buffered parking spaces has a citywide standard.  Like, instead of having just a line to divide the spaces there is a rectangle.  This place has those in even liquor store parkinglots.  One would think that they would have something as simple as Chinese masseuses.

I tripped over my own feet, speed walking threw the mall.  It was a thick slice of frustration, something a cinnabon couldn’t satisfy. I almost yelled a rant, something like “Damn you, Midland!  Damn you and your mall!!”, as I stabilized myself against a chubby six year old eating a cinnabon.

I’m fairly sure malls have to have them now, like you can’t renew the mall license without them.  A mistaken assumption?   I dunno, but they had all the other mall standards- a toy train looking shuttle service that goes from one end of the store to the other, an accommodation for and sign of the era of fat children.  Those also have one of those super bounce trampolines with a bungee cord tether, for moments of fatlessness for said kids.  But what about my train ride to joy?  Where’s my Chinese massage?  You can’t expose a man to something like that and just yank it away... The Chinese mall masseuse is a McDonaldian answer to relaxation and tranquility on the rush.  A rubdown in running time.  Get some.  

Oh but  they had some and then some.  They did have a Chinese masseuse but she wasn’t at a kiosk this time- behold a whole store front carved out of the corner opposed to the trampoline.  A dim, shallow cavity with a row of those seats with face-rests lining the wide opening.  Cheap, generic pan-Asian decorations and a cash register.  A disneyland opium den.  

I can see all this in my peripheral vision.  Like the terminator I suddenly broke pace and made a 45 degree turn.  Target acquired, moving it, and before I was within 15 feet a middle aged Chinese woman engaged me in eye contact and it was at that moment that inter-cultural commerce was initiated.  

I think she must be middle aged but she doesn't look that old.  None of them do.  That’s the thing about Asians is that there is this black-n-white threshold for aging, like for years and years they could pass for thirty or younger but then suddenly one day they cross that threshold and they turn ancient, like beyond old.  Like petrified in time type of old.  I- I imagine at this moment I look like I’m the Terminator, like I’m either about to destroy John Conner or save him (depending on which in the series it is)-  walking with a dedicated purpose.  Throwing fat kids out of the way with one hand and handspring over benches with the other.  Without breaking stride.

Contact with target.

We greet each other.  The way she says “Hello” tells me “Hello” is about the only English that she knows. I said hello in Chinese in such a way that let her know I speak absolutely no Chinese.  It doesn't matter.  Everything would be fine if we just keep things simple.That’s the primary thing about inter-cultural commerce- keep things simple.
That’s the give and take of hyper-outsourcing consumerism.  The foreigners are behind counters, feet away from your face but billions of cultures away, it’s like waving to someone on the moon.  The cheap, dedicated, reliable work they provide more than makes up for the lack of chit-chat that an ungrateful teenager would otherwise be providing.  To get your nails did or have your beer bought for cheap and at unreasonable hours- it can be done but the catch is you gotta  follow the well beaten path of how the particular business is conducted.  Failing to do so and you risk getting lost in confusion.  

For example, you go to the same gas station everyday and play the numbers.  Everyday, no matter what shift it is, the same arab dude is working there and takes your numbers.  No problem there, but what happens if you try to expand beyond this?  If you tell the guy one of the numbers you play  is your grandmother’s birthday?  The guy picks up on the word he knows, birthday, and the repeats it “Birthday?” you smile and nod and now he thinks it’s your birthday.  “Birthday!” He exclaims and points to the slushy machine repeating “Birthday”.  At first, you think it is the slushy machine’s birthday and this confuses you, like when is a machine’s birthday?  When it’s finished being built or when it’s first installed and turned on?  But then you realize he is telling you to have a slushy for free because it is your birthday and you politely shake your head in refusal because it’s not actually your birthday and you’d feel awkward for taking a free birthday slushy when it’s not your birthday and then he gets all stern and looks at you with a stink eye because he thinks that you think you’re too good for his birthday wishes and at this point you realize he played the last number strait when you actually wanted it boxed but at this point there is no way you’re going to ask him to run another number so you just leave before things get worse.  

No one wants that, a cultural relations snafu.  One thing can lead to another and before you know it we’re all getting 9/11’ed on because some soccer mom unintentionally insulted the heritage of that woman to plucks facial hair by crossing strings.

That’s why FOBs (fresh off the boat) get hollar and gesture based jobs in the first place.  Come to the country, for example, to be a physiatrist not only do you have to have a masterful command of the English language, but also American culture.  However, a medical doctor (who are stereotypically foreign), while requiring alot of knowledge about medicine and cancer and stuff, it does not require fluency in English.  Tap on a chart, point to the scalpel, thumbs up and thumbs down.  The nurses will get what’s going on.  That’s why it’s easy for a foreign doctor to emigrate, there willing to bust there ass through school and continue you to bust there ass as a doctor.  But if you’re a doctor with no fingers, forget it, because they will take one look at you and say “Hey, how’s this guy suppose to point to a vial of penicillin without fingers?”

Sorta-a-pro at inter-cultural commerce and having been anticipating a rub down since the night before, I already knew what I’m looking for and how to get it.  Usually at these types of places there’s a sandwich board or something with a menu that looks similar to their chinese food cousin’s.  And there is one, above the massage chairs, you know those ones with the resting part in the front and with an O to rest your face on.  I see

A1. 20 minutes back massage .........................$20

Bam, sold.  That’s what I got the time and funds for.  

Following the standard protocol, I went to point at the sign but before my arm fully raises and green flier is put into my hand.  It’s another menu, so I’m like “why is this woman queering the deal?  She’s going to get us off the beaten path!”  This menu is different.  I dunno, the layout wasn’t the same and there are alot of stars and exclamation points.   

I placate and pretend to read it over.

Knowing she wouldn’t know what I was saying I move my eyes back and forth across the flier and mumble under my breath I tell her “Girl, I’m on my way to the bank and I just need a quick rubdown so I can super-size my way to the next day.  Nawww’I’m sayin?  I’m just a man with a tight back and a tight budget.  Get this knot out of my should and it’ll all be good.  Believe dat.”

I don’t know what it was, what the misidentified trigger was, but suddenly this lady just shouted out “OK!” and clapped her hands. Until then I hadn’t even noticed the table back there but she pointed to it as if to say “that’s where we are going”

An Unknown unknown.  What’s this lady doing? We were totally going off course into the dangerous bermuda triangle of social situations.  Doesn't she realize it stuff like this that could get a country Operation-Enduring-Freedomed on?  Hell, the Bush-Hussain fallout was over a damn parking space at the UN headquarters.  

“No, no” I say and I’m pointing feverishly at the sign. “A1, A1.  Only my back.  Back”

She just smiled and clapped hands together again.  A clap that sounded like fate’s thunder roll across a meadow.  “OK, ok” she said and parrotted me “Back, back” guiding me with an open palm to the same table in the back of the room.  “Good.  Goooooooooddd”

Perhaps it was the way she confidently clapped her hands or perhaps it was the way she slightly squinted with one eye as she done it, like a mother giving her disobedient child an angry look, but I walked back to that table despite knowing full well that chairs were for back-limited massages and tables usually meant a full body type affair.    I mean, she did confirm the whole “back” thing.  Maybe we arn’t going to the massage chairs because they suck or she gets better leverage when the client is laying on the table.  I clung to that hope but in reality, I knew better.

Underneath the table was grey bin.  Like the type you put your things in while crossing thru a metal detector.  She pointed to my waist and then made tube motion around her own.  I took off my belt and placed it in the tray, trying to figure out if I could back out of the whole with out coming across as a neurotic, Woody Allen-like American.  The stern eye she gave me and the clap still echoed in my head. I really didn’t want her judging me, tell all the others about me (I assume they all live together in a big dormitory somewhere in Montana).

After my belt was off she made a motion with both her hands starting at the waist and then going down towards the ground.  She wanted me to take my shorts off?  For a moment I had clarity from what was going on like “I’m going along with this, sure, but how far down the rabbit hole am I going to go?”  She repeated the motion a few more times.  Oh.  Empty my pockets.  So I did, realizing the point of no return was right before me taking off the belt.  There’s no way I could just stop the process, grab my belt and take off.  The beginning of disrobing is where the commitment to a massage lays.

At this point, I’m just a leaf getting whisked down the river.  I put everything in the grey bin, including my Android and headphones.  I had originally planed to listen to Gregorian chant music while getting a massage but I had a knee-jerk fear that trying to keep the headphones would inadvertently trigger a special request, like a second masseuse would come out and begin acupuncture or something.

I laid on my stomach and placed my face in the cushy O at the head of the table.  Eyes closed.  The outside sounds from the mall drifted far, far away.  Old girl got to work right away.  

I felt her hoist her one leg on to the table next to me and burrow into my shoulders. Like all middle aged chinese masseuses, her hands were those of eagle talons made from Dove soap.  Like her persona, her grip is strong, stern, moist and delicate.  I imagined an eagle (purposefully because picturing a dragon would be too cliche) perched with one foot planted on the table and a talon grinding my back.  Sun setting in the background.  Angels flying in trumpet propelled clouds.    

Then she stands up and starts rubbing my neck and behind my ears from the head of the table.  She honed her attention to the small space on my back where the neck and shoulders meet.  Pressing hard against me, my body moved back and then retracts forth and on that upswing I notice two soft yet firm lumps that the top of my head caroms into.  A moment of uncertainty came to mind while I slowly came to the conclusion that it was her bosom that I was bumping into.  I felt her boobs plot down at the top of my head. She pushed hard into my shoulders, pushing my body back until letting my body retract, knocking into her.  All I could think of was that I was “titty ramming” this lady.  Over and over again.  The thought of me ramming her cleavage like a log swinging into and ringing a chinese gong made me giggle to myself.  With every iteration I heard a gong sound in my head.

Eventually those thoughts, and all thoughts fade.

laying on a chinese table under a chinese masseuse
wanting my android, so I can listen to the blues.
I’ve been
for so long.
I don’t
they came from
Getting a back rub and feeling loose
far away from me, fat kids riding in a kaboose.

and relaxation.  All the sound from the mall slowly walks far down the coridor.

I’d like to think that’s what death is like.  Like falling in to deeper and deeper relaxation and, ideally, this is where I wish the story would end.  With me getting a relaxing back massage.  But I wasn’t dead, I’m alive and, as it does, life keeps moving on and shit keeps happening, for better or worse.  

The Dove talons release, and there’s an empty pause.  Then I felt a rustling around my left shoe.  The thought “What. The. Hell?” hits me hard like a cheap shot of vodka and the a warm waves washed over me- it’s not a sensation of pleasure but one of utter embarrassment.  She was taking off my shoes.

Certainly this confirmed what I had figured and feared- that I somehow got signed up for into a full body but really all I could think about was that she was about to uncork some stinky feet.  Before leaving for the mall I had taken the time to thoroughly wash my neck, behind the ears, wear a long shirt that wouldn’t get all bunched up- all things a responsible and courteous consumer would do before having someone rub their bare hands on you.  

I was not expecting my feet to be massaged or I certainly would have put on some clean sox.  Instead I haphazardly chose some sox that were on day three or four without washing.  I mean, one would almost think I went threw my drawers looking for the dirtiest pair of sox that I own.  That’s how nasty these things were.

It would have been better if she would have taken off the sox, but she left them on.  They had a crunchy film of dirt and sweat worked into them and with every rub of my feet I imagined the the film cracking and popping like street puddles do when they freeze and form a lightbulb-glass thin pane of ice over them.

Also, the sox were mismatched.

Eventually, the poor chinese woman moved on to my legs (and it was then that I realized that she never actually did have her leg hoisted up on the table or anything but instead it was like a buffer cushion, I guess so things like ramming into cleavage wouldn’t happen).  For the duration of the massage I felt awkward, like you do when you fart a stinky fart in a car or room full of people wondering if other people smell it, deep down knowing that they do but are too polite to say anything.

I imagined my Chinese lady back at the dorm with the other masseuses.

“God, I tell you what, I knew the Americans were slobs but, Jesus Christ, these sox actually cruched when I touched them.  It’s not like this guy was homeless.  I’m sure if you can get a massage then you have access to a damn washing machine!  
Uecker! Now can someone please give me a Goddamn Newport?!”

Ofcource, she didn’t say anything to me until I was done.  She continued to rub my legs and buttocks until finally she gave me a couple pats on the back.

“OK”  she said, as in “OK, you’re done now”  

I put my shoes on(shamefully).  Get everything out of the bin, put it back in my pockets.  That was another weird thing, when I was threading my belt through the loops it occurred to me how unsettling it is to be putting your belt on and retightening your pants with some many people walking by.  Children, with cotton cady, laughing as I buckle my belt back up... but I suppose that’s life in a fast food opium den.

The Chinese woman was already waiting for me at the counter.  Now that everything was over with I began to worry again about the price of this massage.  How long was it?  20 minutes?  An hour?  I was on a very tight budget- on my way to the bank.  I started to calculate how much money I should have on my card.  I started to look around the store and devise a plan of things I could point to and syllables I could grunt that would communicate to her that “I can pay you but first I have to go to the bank and come back” which I found to be exceedingly abstract for this low-level of a conversation unless she happened to have a model of a bank or something chilling behind the desk.

The Chinese woman rings me up and the green numbers on the cash register read $20.00 (no tax?).  I felt relief and handed her my debit card.

After swiping the card in the POS machine there is a pause, and then a look of confusion on the woman’s face as she studies the print out.  Oh God, did I even have the $20 on there?  I should, I thought, but it’d be close even if I did.

I could just imagine what she’d be thinking and saying about me.  
“Then, after rubbing his rubby-ass feet, this two-bit muthafucka’s card done decines on me.  I’m serious, y’all gimme a goddamn cigarette!”

Actually, I doubt that my Chinese woman smokes.  Instead, her expression turns to a smile and she tears the receipt and hands it to me.  I look at it.  In bold letters it reads
CHARGED: $0.47

DUE:  $19.53

I guessed she made a typo while typing in the charge.  “No” I told her “You gotta charge it again.  Run again”  she makes a soft grunt like sound and gestures a wobbly triangle-like shape on the counter with her index finger and I have no friggin idea what that is suppose to mean.

“No, no” I mentally bring up a English to Gesture dictionary and feverishly look for some sort of translation.  I rub my thumb and two together vertically to say money then make the motion of a card being swiped into the machine and purposefully use monosyllabic words “run for payment”

She say “No” and points to the receipt on the counter and gestures some other symbol, then I make the card swipe motion again.  It goes back and forth for a minute and thinking about it retrospect I imagine it slowly evolving into a game of paper rock scissors- the winner gets their message across!

It did finally dawn on me that the squiggly shapes she was making with her fingers was suppose to mean “signature” and for the sake of diplomatic relations I sighed and then signed the receipt.  She just gave me a 47 cent massage, so I guess I’ll just have to take it.

I smiled and slid the receipt back to her.  

There was a tip jar on the counter and I figured the least I could do is give the couple singles in my pocket but when I’m trying to fish them out she produces a bottled water out of thin air and hands it to me, pushing it in to my chest like she’s send me away.  I stepped back and almost tripped over a woman sitting in a chair behind me.  

She already had another customer but before I leave she makes it a point to give me a business card with ten squares on in and stamps one of the squares.  Buy 10 massages, get one free 20 minute back rub- standard protocol (yet in my experience I’ve found they usually pick up and leave before you can fill the whole card)

For a good hour I was OK with all this, thinking that she practically gave away a massage by her own fault but then I got here at cafe and my card was declined.  I guess maybe I only had 47 cents on my card or something.  The cafe industry has never been penetrated by non-english speaking foreigners and I think that’s because the caffeine makes people want to talk about so many things not pertaining to coffee so I was able to work out a deal where I would come back after going to the bank in the morning and personally pay back the barista.  

The incident sparked a conversation that had nothing to do with coffee or debit cards but now that Im sitting here I keep thinking of my poor chinese woman and how I could possibly pay her back- like maybe tip her an extra five dollars every time I visit.  But really, I just want to say sorry that I am self-centered, slobish American who can’t keep track of credit or paying bills.  If anything, maybe I should learn to say that in Mandarin.

Friday, June 15, 2012

In the Hotel 6-12

They moved me into a room on the first floor.  I like it a little better because it’s faces the court yard but I guess it used to be a storage room for years.  I mean, for years and years. So it's kinda got an unfinished vibe to it, which I kinda like, but it's been a storage room for so long, it's hard for workers to remember it's not a storage room.

Today one of the Indian house keepers told me that he put his cart in my room.  I’m exactly sure why that happend, the guy speaks enough English to tell you something like that, but not quite enough to explain something like that.  He was really nice about it when he told me so I wasn’t even mad.  He somehow made me feel good about having a housekeeper cart in my still unorganized room.  This guy could rob me at gunpoint and I would be at peace with it.  I think at the end of the conversation I thanked him, as if to say I’m happy that he had chosen my room to put the cart in, but I’m sure he just did that out of habit.  Kinda like “What’s this?  Oh, yeah, David moved to this room.  Well... Guess I’ll just push this cart in about three feet from the door and call it a day”

So, today I organised my room a bit and hung out with the cart.  Took some soaps.  Then the Indian wife come and gets the cart.  The women tend to speak less English.  Like a 20 vocabulary.  After that I thought I could get some sleep, but about 2 minutes later the Indian guy knocks and asks for the cart.  I think I thanked him for waking me at some point and went to bed.  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Diamond Mine Paradox

The storm was suppose to miss South Michigan by a hundred miles but it hit.  Michigan weather, that’s how it goes.  A thick blanket of virgin snow covered everything.  It weighed on the tree branches and power lines.  The blanket glittered under the street lights like powdered diamonds, something so much more beautiful than the stars on a clear night.  This was not a clear night, the night was dark where the street lights were out.  The roads, under the lights and into the dark, were compacted.  A flat, steril, compacted white cotton that stays silent when being trended over... but over other piece of land, the snow softly crunches and crimps with every step.

There’s a parking lot.  It’s shared by a few hotels and restaurants, it’s stays lit by dull peach street lamps.  Here there is still power but like the rest of the town a still silence that instills peace.  There is no sound except the hum of diesel engines.  The diesel engines are machines yet they hum not robotenessly.  There is something about the tiny explosions that happen in the engine blocks that is lively.  The trucks that house them are big, meaty, utilitarian machines.  All running.  Yet they hum peacefully in the white.  

These trucks, painted white with dirty ice-snow build up around the tire wheels have green and yellow logos that uniformly placed on them.  They read “DAVEY”.  Davey Tree Service is a big outfit, it’s a national chain that deals with trees, specifically their limbs when they become a nuisance.  On this night these trucks had to come from all over, two, maybe three states away.  They fill up the parking lot and run in idle so that the engines don’t freeze.

It’s a boon for the hotels, they are all full in what is normally a slow season.  So full of workers and home owners who had lost power that they have no vacancy left.

Outside a Davey truck stands Rich Jordan, sipping on a cheap cup of coffee from a styrofoam cup.  A man in his 40s, scruffy checks with a mustache  that has grown over his lips.  A fellow employee from Indiana, his home state walks up to him smoking a cigarette.

“You get a room?!” asks the coworker.

“Shit man, they told me I had a room, I work all day and then the hotels me their sold out” Rich pulls a Winston cigarette from his pants pocket and lights it.

“Fuckin’ Sue.  You’d think she could get her fat ass up and book some God Damn rooms”

“She didn’t even need to get of her chair to do that.  All you gotta do is pick up a damn phone”

The two men exhale their cigarette smoke and under the lamp lights and in the cold air the smoke looks as solid as the snow... then it dissipates.

“Yeah, well I guess Jim is sleeping in his truck tonight”

“Yeah, I think I am too.  Fuckin’ forgot to grab my long johns.  What a time to forget those”  Rich shakes his head and pulls another drag from his cigarette.

“You going across the street?” asked Rich’s coworker, referring to the bar and grill on the otherside of the street that lines the parking lot.

“Naw, if I gotta get work all day and sleep all night in the damn truck, I better get to it”

“Alright, buddy” his coworker slaps Rich’s shoulder “don’t snore too loud, you’ll break the damn windshield”

Rich’s coworker walks off into the darkness and to the brightly lit bar across the street.  There, inside, even more Davey employees sit belly up to the bar, drinking tall domestic beers while they swear in their gruff, raspy, deep voices, talking about work stuff over the loud top 40s music blaring over the speakers.  He can see it without being there.  He’s been there many times in the past.  Too many time... all the time in the past.  But not any more, he’s been drink free for five years.  Instead he finishes his cigarette and exhales one last puff of smoke.

Rich watches the cloud dissipates underneath the parking lot street lights.  It’s cold out so he bends his knees several times to get the blood flowing.  The denim jeans are stiffer in the cold and brush up against his legs and he bends his knees.  Normally he wouldn’t feel the jeans but this time he forgot his long johns.  The denim is cold but he bends them a few more times to prolong having to have to go into the cab of the truck.  Eventually he realises he has to enter the truck.  There is no more cigarette left and no reason to keep squatting.

For a moment, Rich thinks about all the work ahead of him in the next day.  Removing tree limbs so that some other guys could then bust their asses off to restore the power lines in the surrounding area.  To the places that make him work so hard- he resents this yet he knows it’s also what gives him a paycheck.  removing tree branches, a gig he should have gotten out of years ago.  Years ago, drinking helped to make the job easier.

“Fuckin’ Sue.  She better make sure I got a room tomorrow, this is bullshit.  I’m getting old.  Too old for this shit” he thinks as he enters and lays down in the front seat of the truck, warm from the idling diesel engine.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Steam from the coffee cup

She was young once, I can tell.  At birth, a blond and then later in life a dirty blond.  Now she has grey hair.  She plays with it and strokes it as girls do when the want a boy's attention as she waits in line for a coffee or espresso or whatever it is that she's about to order.  Gently shakes her head as she combs her hair with her right hand.  She dose it just as a young vibrant blond would as she's queued up, waiting for coffee with the casual attention of so many guys in the cafe.

Getting older, there is a difference for males and females.  Females have all their arrogance when they are young.  Teasing boys with their looks, twirling their hair and exposing their dainty necks like fish hooks.  Then, once they are old they cut their hair short and don't clamor for attention.  Young males are pathetically hope that every switch of a girls walk is intended for them, willing to fight, albeit inadequate, for every twirl of hair.  As they get older, males hope less for these signs of affection and instead make it their's with money or confidence.

Most women would dye their gray hair but this one hasn't.  She still twirls it and shakes her head as if she was 20.  The more I look the more I think made she's prematurely grey.  She's older, but not that old.  Her ass is still tight and her breasts still appear to be perky.  I can't guess how old she is but she must be older than me.  It doesn't matter, ma'am, my hat's off to you.  I choose not to respect you as I would any other misses.  I hope you glance at me one more time over your shoulder as you comb your hair.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Well, I suppose we could call them at their game...

In the news, there is talk of the "Homeless Hotspot" at South by Southwest festival.  Some ad adjacent gave 4G mifis to some homeless people so that hipsters at SXSW can get fast net access while attending the festival, apparently.  The media blew up at mostly bulked at this because the homeless people- the poverty stricken people who, for one reason or another, are unemployable and don't have a permanent residency- have been referred to as "homeless hotspots"... or something like that.  These people where shirts that read "I'm Bob and I'm a WiFi Hotspot" or something like that.  And ofcource, the leftist media blows up at the obvious flaw that homeless people are, and this is true, being referred to as mobile hotspots  as opposed to people.  The rightist media has made a few poke backs that these people are being given money, altho the facts they tout are inaccurate as far as how much money these people are actually making and glaze over matters such as human dignity.

This is all a very big shame and a waste.

Not for the homeless people being exploited, they are no more exploited in this instance then they ever had been- the media wasn't this adamant about the Bum Fights DVDs that had came out in years past (altho some were, it wasn't across the board as this has been within days).  No, if you've actually ever talked to a handful of homeless people you'll learn that they are mostly tenacious about seeing the next day rise, just as you would be if you ever had to actually struggle just to live.

No, this is a shame and waste for all those who write the news and for all those that have compassion for the homeless.  I understand that some ad agency started all this.  Why is an ad agency doing this?  On the news I didn't see the agency's name.  Even if they had ads on the homeless people's shirts then it wasn't obvious.  SSSSoooooo, it's obvious the ad agency got what they wanted- free press coverage.  Now they have something in their portfolio to sell clients, popularity.  Be it good or bad, all coverage is good coverage.

It goes beyond that because it's not actually a bad idea that will now be demonized for ligit businesses to do correctly in the future.  For years there have been homeless newspapers, written by the homeless, given to the homeless for something to sell as opposed to begging for money.  I guess the problem with this, from what I have observed from first hand experience, is that people will "buy" the newspaper but not actually read it, or not even take it at all.  It is as if to say "Sure, we want to help you, to push you in to the next day, but what you have to give is not valid.  Now or tomorrow"

You know what I think?  I think what these people have to say is valid.  I think that if society tries hard we can find a place for these "unplaceables".  How many times do we spare some change to a homeless person?  How many time have we stopped to ask them about their lives?  Perhaps if the homeless had a WiFi hotspot access to sell and if we needed WiFi access we would have to interact with them, to talk to them, to learn about them and realize that they are people just like people that take your fastfood order or sell you beer at the corner store.

This is all a shame because it's a good idea to give people that are needy a position that can play a part in our modern society, yet the idea was hijacked buy a company that cares more about press coverage than God's children.  I wish a company would come along and offer these people who are less fortunate  an opportunity to vend internet access instead of a company that reduces our brothers and sisters that are less unfortunate to computer equipment.

For a long time I was with out cell phone service, because of financial limitations, but I was able to check my voice mail and email on the internet.  Perhaps if a person was around town so that I could check my messages more often life would have been a bit easier for myself.  Perhaps if I could spare a dollar, give it to that person, and talk to that person, both of our lives would be a little better off.

Turning the homeless into mobile hotspots is wrong.  Letting people vend hotspots is right.  Let us ignore the bad and embrace the good.