7-20-01 - ARRRRRGGGHH
Bad evening. Absolutely terrible evening. Awful.
Actually, that's not true. Most of my Thursday evening was just fine. I hung out at my friend Dave's house in San Francisco with a couple of his pals, and I had a good time. At 11:00pm, one of Dave's friends gave me a ride to the train station so I could get back to my side of the Bay.
After that ride, everything went completely into the shitter.
It's now past 2:00am. It has taken me over three hours to get home. The horrible trip involved a train, several busses, numerous cab companies, some prescription medication, and a lightbulb.
This is not an exaggeration, or a joke. I had a shitty evening. Horribly shitty. Unnecessarily shitty. One of those evenings that leaves you with your feelings hurt, simply because it was so specifically cruel. I'll write about it, but not until Monday, because I have to work tomorrow, and I don't want to rush it, leave anything out, skimp on the details, or omit the diagrams.
Yes, the diagrams. It was so shitty an evening that I actually need diagrams.
See you Monday. If I haven't killed anyone by then.
7-19-01 - Deadly-mail
So, yesterday I babbled on about how, no matter where I go, I am constantly envisioning dangerous scenarios and how I might escape from them. And, it seems I'm not alone in this particular habit of imagining myself in action movie situations.
In an e-mail, Craig writes:
"You don't know me, but I'm a regular reader of your site. If any cops or terrorists or kidnappers (oh my!) come your way, could you PLEASE see to it that some of them try to ambush ME at the diner where I usually have my lunch. I've been just dying to use that "clandestinely-dump-the-pepper-shaker-into-your-hand" trick so I can throw it into one of their eyes for a distraction as I pull the gun out of the guy's holster and tell his buddy to let go of the hot smokin' waitress that works there. (whom he's naturally taken as a hostage)"
Craig goes on to say that his friend is prepared, too, having:
"...3 or 4 options open to him if ninjas suddenly burst in to capture one of us. My plan specifically made creative use of the citronella candle on the back porch."
I hear you, Craig, and yeah, I totally forgot to mention all those damn ninjas! Although, these days, they'd probably be more like those Yakuza types. Just as deadly as ninjas, but better dressed. Ninjas are a little, you know, 80's.
"Man, terrorists better be DAMN sure there are none of US guys around when they try to take the country by storm. Cause you know, the armed forces aren't going to be any help. It's all going to be guys like us with boring office jobs who know exactly where the custodian is at all times, so we can break the end off of the push broom and use it as a bo staff. (At least until we can disarm the nearest ninja of his sword)"
There is something appealing about being attacked by martial arts experts, particularly since I have no training along those lines (or along any lines, for that matter). But, as Craig points out, pepper and broom handles, along with things like heavy-duty staplers, desk-drawers, bar stools, pizza trays, and more or less any other everyday item can become a weapon in the hands of the desperate, as Jackie Chan has certainly demonstrated time and again.
Meanwhile, an e-mail from Dave added this about imagined action scenarios:
"We never seem to stop and think 'Hey, Today started with bagel and coffee like every other, but right now, I'm gripping the hood of a moving car! I love my life!'
Next thing you know you're thrown off into a pile of conveniently placed garbage bags, and tomorrow, it's bagel and coffee all over again."
Well, if it's scalding hot coffee, you can always throw it at a ninja!
7-18-01 - Lacktion
I'm walking down the sidewalk, wondering where I can buy myself a decent lunch with the fifty-seven cents I have in my pocket, when a black sedan with tinted windows screeches to a stop beside me. Four men wearing black suits and sunglasses burst out, holding badges, screaming for me to freeze, to halt, to put my hands on my head... but I'm already gone.
I was prepared for this.
I've quickly scaled a fence, dropping down to the roof of a car on the other side, ducked through a gap in another fence, cut across four lanes of traffic, and disappeared through a small convenience store which (conveniently) has a rear exit that is always open. An empty lot takes me to the main intersection, where I blend in with the other pedestrians, leaving the black-clad agents gritting their teeth in frustration, and muttering "We've lost him" into their walkie-talkies.
Okay, most of this is complete bull. There was no black sedan, no pursuers flashing badges, and no desperate race to escape them. The part that is true?
I was prepared.
I'm always prepared, because I'm always thinking about things like this. Walking around, wherever I am, I'm constantly imagining scenarios like the one above, and planning my escape. Sometimes, cops or Feds burst from unmarked cars, other times it's mobsters, gang members, or kidnappers. Sometimes they're after me. Sometimes, I'm just in the wrong place at the wrong time. You know how it is. But I always wind up involved, and I always get away.
They kick my door in late at night, but I'm already gone, slithering out my open, second-story window, dropping nimbly onto the ledge, and escaping into the street. If my pursuers are cops this time, or detectives, one of them has left the keys in the ignition, and I screech away in one of their cars.
When they come for me at work, whatever job I happen to be on that week, I've already planned several escape strategies. Vaulting the cubicle wall (by way of the chair and the desk), I slip through accounting, dash through marketing, and explode into the back stairwell, running like mad, my co-workers staring in amazement. I can easily reach the roof of the building, then make a daring leap to the flagpole, sliding down to street level. Ventilation ducts are too slow... there's nothing exciting about crawling, in my opinion, so I usually opt for chases through hallways and conference rooms. Crowded conference rooms.
Of course, sometimes I spot them coming, simply because I've been fortunate to glance out the window at the right time, noting with horror the many cars pulling up and emptying. While the agents swarm into the building, I'm already calling up the elevator to stall them, zipping down the stairwell, then sneaking through the lobby as they pound on the elevator button.
And nothing makes me happier than spying some construction scaffolding on the side of a building I'll be working in. Nothing. Beams and ladders and *gasp* those rope and pulley things... perfect to swing around the corner of the building on, you know, over to the lamppost or tree or even to another building.
Lunchtime is when they most often try to ambush me. Picture me in a diner, looking up from my newspaper, that look of "oh, no... not here," slowly dawning on my face. Dropping my burger in shock as I see them rushing up to the diner, then clawing my way frantically through the crowded tables while people cry out in surprise. I know the rear exit leads to an alley which leads to a brick wall with a fire escape, which leads to the rooftop, which leads to many, many possible avenues of escape.
Everywhere I go, I scope things out. Jobs, restaurants, airports, hotels, malls, brothels... I know eight ways to escape from the DMV, and only one of them involves standing in line.
Nothing ever happens, of course. I'm an action hero without any action. I'm a good guy without a villain. No unlikely series of events has ever placed me in danger. I haven't inadvertently angered the mob. I've never been framed with a crime I never committed. Terrorists, unable to catch me, have never muttered "How many lives does this guy have?"
But I'm ready.
I've even got my techno soundtrack picked out.
Someday, maybe I'll get to use it.
7-17-01 - It's Training, It's Boring
First, thanks to everyone who sent me 'Happy Birthday' e-mails and e-greetings and other e-birthday e-wishes e-last e-week. e-Thanks! Now, on to bitching and moaning about my life.
As a short-term temper, I try not to let my head get filled with useless knowledge. When I am assigned tasks, I don't really need to know the 'why' behind them, just the 'how' to do them. Who cares what the numbers represent? Just show me where to punch them in. The intricacies of the accounts payable system? Don't bother, just tell me what to stamp. I don't need to where a piece of paper comes from, or where it goes when I'm done with it, I just need to know what I should staple it to.
Don't bother me with the company history or future potential; to me, today is your grand opening, and you're liquidated the day I leave.
My universe exists in the space between in-box and out-box... all else is void.
There's just no sense in learning more, because as soon as I leave, all that information is useless to me. The only time it would ever even hypothetically come in handy is if, say, I have to train the person who will be taking over the position when I leave. Which happens to be the situation I am in this week.
I hate training people. First of all, it requires me to talk. A lot. Talking really isn't my thing. I'm kind of a nodder, and a shrugger, and especially a mumbler. Damn, I am so good at mumbling it sometimes scares me.
But now, I have to talk more or less non-stop throughout the day, and not only that, I have to talk loud enough for the trainee to hear me, yet not loud enough for the rest of the office to hear me, because I am talking completely, as they say, out of my ass. I can handle being an idiot, I just don't enjoy broadcasting it.
When I'm being trained, I never have questions, for the very reasons stated earlier. The trainee, however, always has questions. Lots of questions. Detailed questions.
Me: "Okay," I say, "Here is where you enter the numbers."
Trainee: "What are these numbers, exactly?"
Me: "These are the, uh... daily numbers."
Trainee: "Right, I know, but what do they signify?"
Me: "Oh! I see. They signify the... figures... that come in... daily... every day."
Trainee: "But what do they stand for? Where do they come from?"
Me: "They're... daily... numbers that come in... today... and most days... every day, really... so, daily... on this piece of paper.. that uh... that blond dude... drops in the box... each day."
Trainee: "Yes, I got that, but what do the numbers represent? Sales figures? Quotas? Dollar amounts? Vendor I.D. codes? Shipping values? Bra sizes? Kill ratios?"
Me: "He's more of a brownish-blond, actually."
Diversions this week: How's that carpal tunnel syndrome doing? Well, muster what strength you have left, ignore the pain, and see how you stack up in the Mouse-Clicking Championship! Also, since I have so much free time this week (my trainee does all my work), here's two sites that can eat up hours: Kvetch, the place for complainers (dial up a topic on the black knob and see who's complaining about it) and a neat site sent in by Leslie called In Passing, containing snippets of overheard conversations. Good stuff. Links, much like the Dutchie, are on the left hand side.
All material © 2000 - 2001 by Christopher Livingston. Yeah. That'll hold up in court.