5-18-01 - No Fuss, No Bus
The bus is always late. The ride is always endless. The amount of time spent at each and every stop is ridiculous. I don't blame the drivers. I don't blame the mass transit administrators. I don't blame the city. I blame the passengers.
The problem is this: the passengers don't seem to realize that there is a BACK DOOR on the bus. The BACK DOOR is helpful when it's time to GET OFF the bus, because that way, passengers can get off WITHOUT INTERFERING WITH THE PEOPLE WHO ARE TRYING TO GET ON.
It's not a tough concept to grasp. See, the people who want to get on the bus have to do so through the front door, so they can pay the fare or show their bus pass to the driver who isn't really looking. And these boarding passengers CAN'T GET ON until the passengers who are getting off the bus at the FRONT have gotten off. It's this waiting time that makes every trip on the bus so much longer than it needs to be.
Let's do some math. Take the average time it takes a group of passengers to board a bus, and call it x. Now, take the average time it takes a group of passengers to exit a bus, and call it y.
Since everyone is using the same damn door, our math formula looks like this: x + y = FOREVER.
If people could just learn to use the back door, our problem might look more like this: x - y = MUCH LESS THAN FOREVER.
Sadly, despite the amount of glaring I've been doing, it doesn't seem to be sinking in. So, here is what I propose:
Know what that is? It's a turnstile. It lets people go through it, but only in one direction. If we were to place these on the front of a bus, right behind the bus driver, the people getting on at the front would have to pass through it AND COULD NOT GO BACK THROUGH IT when it came time to get off the bus. This would foil even the most determined of passengers who were trying to get off at the front, with the exception of those made from liquid metal, who could simply pour themselves through the turnstile and reform on the other side. But there can't be more than twenty people made of liquid metal in the Bay Area. Thirty, tops.
Although, you know, I doubt even this would work. I think when presented with the choice of using an easily accessible, fully functioning back door, and mashing themselves up against an unbending metal grill, most passengers would choose the latter.
Eh. Might be fun to watch.
5-17-01 - Temp from Another Dimension
Leaving work, I stop to hold the door open for a slow, lumbering man who is digging around in his briefcase.
At that precise moment, the timeline of the universe skews off into a tangent. In an alternate reality, I do not wait. I do not hold the door open for 30 seconds while the man slowly makes his way to the door. In that alternate reality, the alternate me lets the door close, and heads to the bus stop.
The me of this reality, on the other hand, stands there waiting, and when the lumbering chump finally makes it to the door, I head off to the bus stop as well, 30 seconds behind the alternate reality me.
The alternate me passes an extremely attractive woman, the same woman I pass almost every day after work. Being ahead of me, he has a chance to smile at her before I do. I, on the other hand, am not given the chance until thirty seconds later, and when the moment arrives, a gust of wind blows my tie up into my face. I claw at it with my left hand, in which I'm holding my Zippo lighter, and in doing so, take a nice chip out of my sunglasses. By the time I get the tie out of my face, she is past me. Of course, the gust of wind hits the alternate reality me too, perhaps even blowing his tie up into his face, but by that time, he has already lit his cigarette and replaced the lighter in his pocket, so he doesn't chip his glasses. Perhaps he has burned a hole in his tie, though. I hope so, because I am starting to dislike him.
The alternate reality me gets to the bus stop and boards the bus that is just arriving, while I lag behind, seeing the bus but missing it, because I have also missed the traffic light that the alternate reality me managed to make. I cross when the light is green again, but the next bus does not come for a full twenty-five minutes. While I stand there, dealing with the crazy man who begs me for a cigarette, and then attempts to tie his shoe without bending over, doing this one-legged hopping thing which leads him to bump into me and push me back into a fence, the alternate reality me is riding along on his bus in comparative luxury.
When my bus finally comes, jam-packed with commuters, I climb on. Across town, the alternate reality me is climbing off his bus, making it home in time to watch The Simpsons rerun, while I ride along, squished in between a hippie and a talkative and clearly insane British woman.
I get home a half-hour later, and brush elbows with the alternate me, who is on his way out. During a commercial break, he has discovered that the leftover chicken we had planned to have for dinner is no longer edible, information I have yet to discover. Once I do discover this, I head out as well, but am stopped at the door by the superintendent of my building, and roped into a half-hour conversation, due to his not being able to speak English and due to my not caring what he has to say anyway.
Far behind my dimensional twin, now, I get dinner, answer e-mail, do laundry, always encountering little snags that he does not, further extending the ever-widening gap between us. He gets to bed a full hour ahead of me, sleeps longer and better than I do, and arises refreshed and ready to tackle his day. Sure, we are in sync again, but I am much grouchier. I will tolerate less than he will today. It will take much less to put me in a foul mood. His camel is unburdened, while mine's spine is already creaking, a straw away from traction.
Of course, he is blissfully unaware of me, while I can think of nothing but him. What will his future be like, simply from not holding that door open? Brighter, more promising than mine? Will he achieve goals I fail to reach? Will he obtain happiness that I am denied?
And hell... what did he write about in this update?
5-16-01 - Marsathon Man
Think your temp job is tough? Some temps have it tougher. Continuing our look at the gun-toting temps of the silver screen... movie henchman.
Henchman of the Week: Helm
Featured In: Total Recall (1990)
Shoes: Made for Runnin'
Glasses: Made for Wimmin'
Most Embarrassing Moment: Outsmarted by rodent
Favorite Online Greeting: Bluemountain Cards
Termination: Gutted by female midget prostitute
Temporary Assignment: Doug Quaid isn't really Doug Quaid, he's Hauser, an associate of Vilos Cohaagen, who has implanted false memories in Hauser's head in an effort to infiltrate the Mutants of Mars and gain the trust of Kuato, the leader, who is attempting to blah blah blah blah... None of this matters to Helm, and why should it? He's a henchman. Like any temp, he doesn't need the full details of any particular job. All he knows is there's a guy he has to chase down and kill.
And chase he does. Following his boss's lead, Helm chases Quaid all over the place, from the Earth to Mars. Helm's boss, Richter, has orders to take Quaid alive, but Richter wants him dead since Quaid has been sleeping with Richter's wife, Lori, who was on assignment to play Quaid's wife, because, well, blah blah blah blah again.
The first time we see Helm, he is using a tracking device to locate Quaid. And then the running begins. Most of Helm's job consists of running. Running up stairs, running down stairs, running through hallways and around corners, his futuristic gun held at the ready. He looks fairly comfortable running, especially next to Richter, who runs with a floppy-armed, bent-wristed gait. They chase Quaid up an escalator and fire at him, but Quaid uses a civilian's body as a shield, then tosses the corpse onto them and escapes by jumping onto a train.
Helm, obviously chummy with his boss, casts aspersions at Lori's sexual relationship with Quaid.
"You're saying she likes it?" Richter asks.
"No," Helm replies with a fairly straight face. "I'm sure she hated every minute of it."
We notice that Helm has odd tastes in eyewear... he appears to be wearing glasses more suited to Palm Beach widows. Large, round, light-purple frames, and yellow-tinted lenses... we almost expect to see Helm clutching a large purse stuffed with expired coupons and accidentally voting for Pat Buchanan.
Helm locates Quaid again through the scanner, though loses him momentarily because Quaid has wrapped a wet towel around his head, which muffles the signal on the tracking device implanted up his nose... yeah, that's really in the movie.
"I lost him!" Helm exclaims.
"Well, find him!" Richter says.
"Yeah, right," Helm says.
(Word is, they improvised that dialogue.)
They leap out of a car to chase Quaid (who has gotten into a cab) on foot. Just an example of management continuing do stick to the plan (in this case, running) even though a more effective solution (driving) has presented itself. Quaid, not surprisingly, gets away, and they track him to the old abandoned (fill in the industrial product) factory, where they run up some stairs and across a bridge. Quaid removes the beacon from his nose and puts it in a candy bar, which he feeds to a rat. Despite the fact that the beacon signal is scurrying around an inch from the floor, Helm is fooled, directing his boss and the others to fire in various directions before Richter figures it out. Sure, Richter shoots the rat, but I think Helm feels the bullets.
They tail Quaid to Mars, where Richter almost kills everyone by destroying an air-tight dome while firing at Quaid. Helm, being sucked out the window, clings to Richter's crotch, nearly pulling his boss out the window with him. Needless to say, Quaid gets away, but is later captured by Lori.
Helm sits with Richter at a bar, both of them sipping futuristic (or girly) drinks, neither of them talking or looking at each other (it's always a mistake for a temp to hang out socially with his supervisor). Lori calls them, and they race to the elevator to wait for her (to Helm's credit, he does not pound the elevator button in an effort to make it arrive faster). Quaid escapes again, shooting Lori in the head in the process. While Richter mopes over his dead wife, Helm runs unsupervised for a bit, which must be a relief. It's hard to run and shoot with your boss looking over your shoulder. He catches up with Quaid, who is climbing along the dome, and wisely holds his fire. Richter and Helm have a little meeting, which begins with Richter pressing his gun into Helm's neck, and ends with Helm reminding Richter that shooting at the dome will cause it to crack. Richter, as a boss, breaks an unspoken rule by actually listening to what his temp has to say, and then they both run off.
Quaid leads them on a car chase, which ends at a local dive. When they arrive, there is no sign of Quaid, so Richter shoots a three-breasted prostitute in the back, then points his gun at a midget hooker. A mushy-headed guy kicks the gun out of Richter's hand, and Helm, trying to protect his boss, puts a round in the mushy-headed guy's shoulder. Helm is restrained by a patron as the midget harlot grabs a knife and sticks it into Helm's belly. He screams from behind his old-lady glasses, and expires.
Performance Review: I feel Helm did a decent job. The position called for running, and he ran. He shot at things and missed. His boss stuck a gun into his neck and he kept his cool. Shame about the glasses, but no one is perfect. And yes, he was fooled by the old Put The Cranial Beacon Inside The Rat Trick, but I think we've all been had by that gag at least once. Besides, I only reviewed him so I could use the phrase "Gutted by female midget prostitute." I mean, how often can a guy use that? Ten, maybe twenty times a year, tops.
Helm was played by Michael Champion, whose last three films were called Operation: Intercept, Raven Hawk, and Maximum Surge. Boy, you know everything you need to about those films from the titles, eh?
5-15-01 - Immaculate Reception
(Diversions this week: The Dialectizer! Read your favorite websites in redneck, jive, and Swedish Chef dialects... and many more (sent to me by Tiffany)! Also, a neat version of Breakout, with the added bonus of being able to turn off the sound for a stealth game at work. Stressed? Get mellow with some weird stuff and a nice soundtrack at Fresh Diversion (requires Flash 5). Links on the sidebar... or are they?)
It's good for a temp to get back to his roots once in a while. Like an skilled assassin practicing with his old, primitive weapons, a temp should retrain himself from time to time. At least that's what I'm telling myself since all my agency had for me this week was a receptionist position.
I haven't been a receptionist in years. Doesn't look like much has changed, though. The phone still rings and people with indecipherable accents are on the other end. The chair is still specifically aligned for someone with freakishly abnormal posture. There's still a huge clock on the desk, with a bright red digital readout, reminding me that it's only 8:17AM.
I've been here for two hours when a woman rushes into the lobby.
"I'm expecting a package containing BGS-447T forms from Jimmy Laylerhagen at CWTDS this afternoon, but it's addressed to Laura Topplemeyer or Susan Jimmlewhacker. But Jason Whumplehumper has been trying to get his hands on it to give it to Patty Dropplehopper from Fleeple Boobleloppers office. If you see it, call me right away!" Then she runs off.
Uh, fine. Who are you? And, um, wha?
Yes, the employees are the same, too. Despite the fact that I look nothing like the tall pregnant black woman I'm replacing, they seem to think I'm her. It's as if I've been there for years, the way they rattle off names and procedures they seem to think I have intimate knowledge of.
The good thing about this job is that I really don't have to do anything but sit there and answer the phone, which only rings when my mouth is full of candy, which I get from the big bowl on my desk. My only other real responsibility is to refill the bowl when I've eaten all the candy, which happens about twice a day.
When the phone rings while my mouth is full of candy (in this case, banana taffy) I have two choices. I can dry-swallow the mouse-sized lump of candy and pick up the phone, or I can take the glob of candy from my mouth and hold it in my hand under the desk, which is what I choose to do. Banana taffy is to be savored, not hurriedly swallowed in glob the size of a fist.
The only problem is if someone tries to hand me something while I'm on the phone, such as the postal carrier, who arrives at just this moment with a double armload of mail. One hand holding the phone, the other holding a yellow, saliva-drenched wad of sugar, I motion with my head for her to leave the mail on the desk. She doesn't seem to understand, instead holding out the huge bundle of mail for me. Cradling the phone between my shoulder and ear, I try to take all the mail with one hand, the non-candy holding hand, but can't manage it all, and it starts spilling over the desk. The phone, which lives for moments like these, starts ringing on the second line.
As I'm struggling to keep the mail from spilling onto the floor, another employee walks up and peers over the desk at me. I know what she wants. She wants her mail. Never mind that it just arrived, and hasn't been sorted. Like I said, I've done this before. There's always the one employee who will walk up while you're chin-deep in mail, and ask "Is there anything for me?" and you have to go through the whole stack once just looking for that person's name, while they stare at you impatiently.
Well, it ain't gonna happen unless I have both hands free. Sadly, I flick the glob of taffy towards the wastebasket, but it has begun to harden on my fingers, and I miss the shot. It hits the floor and rolls somewhere. Sad. And...
Baffling. Because I never find it. I look everywhere for the taffy glob a little later, but I can't see it anywhere. Must have rolled a good ways back under the desk somewhere.
Someday, hopefully years from now, when the company is moving to larger (or smaller) accommodations, they'll uproot the desk and there will be a withered, faded, hardened yellow stone for them to briefly puzzle over.
I may only be temporary here, but I'm leaving my mark.
All material © 2000 - 2001 by Christopher Livingston. Yeah. That'll hold up in court.