Tag Archives: strangers

Roadway Droppings

Depending on commute time, you can spend a lot of time in your car each day.

Probably a third of life is spent in the car.

Sure, cities say, help the environment….carpool.  What about my mental health?  Carpooling does nothing to help that precious, limited environment.  Who wants to be stuck in a box with a random bunch of strangers with odd habits?

  • Mouth breather
  • Teeth sucker
  • Strange body odor, that you can’t quite figure out
  • Constant talker
  • One upper/know it all/celebrity in their own mind
  • Nose picker/sniffler/throat clearer
  • Continual noise creator: singer, whistler, chatter…anything to fill the silence
  • Cell phone communicator on YELL volume tendency
  • The Convertor to my way of ……fill in the blank for whatever belief.
  • Just to name a few….

Having to go to work on a Monday is annoyance enough, thanks.

There we all are, thousands of us, shuffling along the highway, heading to our cubicles and walls of importance.

Sigh.

Side note: Whoever invented the actual cupholder for the car, rather than the plastic clip you put into the window lip, was a genius.  How many years filled with hot coffee crotches did it take for them to figure that out?

Our car is a little metal box of comfort.  We can reflect on the day’s list of events, review talking points for the upcoming meeting, ponder what the hell that dream meant last night, sing at the top of our lungs, talk to ourselves about the idiocy of our boss/wife/husband/sibling/friend or yell back at the talk radio commentary.  It’s similar to a therapy session crossed with a UFC match blended with a PBS documentary on daily life.  Fascinating and nobody gives a rip.

As you sit in traffic, it gives you time to reflect on the beauty that surrounds you.

Including the garbage. Plastic bags, cigarette butts, plastic bottles, garage sale signs, rope, wood slats, tarps, traffic cones and random bits of junk.  Then there’s the odd balls.

Car batteries and appliances.  Obviously, they’ve been dumped.  Easy to imagine a pick up truck slowing down on the highway in the cover of night and dark clothed individual in the back….quickly pushing the items off the back.

TVs are in the same category.  This is especially true if you come along a stretch of highway where they are plentiful.  There’s one stretch in the desert near my mom’s house and it’s littered with car batteries and TVs.  Like cactus.  It’s interesting.  When you drive through, you count to see if more have arrived.  Did they come on the last bus?  What flight just arrived?  I swear last time there were only four in that cluster, now there’s six.  Are they multiplying on purpose?

Seat cushions and dresser drawers.  Now those are poopers to loose.  They’re part of a set.  Did they fly out of the back of a truck on moving day? Are you going to drive back through where you came from and look for them?  What if you were moving across country?  Kinda hard to explain mixing and matching your seat cushions or dresser drawers.  Not like you can buy them in aisle 4 of Home Depot.  And what if it starts raining?  Or someone runs over your seat cushion?  Total failure at that point.  Might as well keep on going.  Guess you’re getting a new sofa.

Mattresses are a different story.  They could be dropped on purpose, to avoid the dump charge.  Or perhaps, they simply gave out.  Their flying engine booster cable expired and they simply fell from the sky.  Their magical genie was able to continue to on to safety, however the flying….oh wait….I was thinking of a flying carpet.   Never mind.

Have you ever noticed the amount of shoes you see on the road?  Last night a single slipper.  Tan with fake fleece lining. Lots of shoes.  It’s amazing.  Always only one.  What are people doing?  Taking their shoes off in the car and throwing them out the windows?  I HATE YOU SHOE!  You would think they’re going to need that shoe.  Sometimes you see the shoe-mate a few miles further down the road.  At least, if you needed a pair of shoes you could stop and pick them up.  Could be your size.

Speaking of shoes….what about socks? I saw one the other day along the road.  It was navy blue.  Mid-calf height.  Now why would a sock be on the side of the road?  Seriously.  Who is taking their socks off on the highway?  Last time I checked, the deer weren’t wearing socks.

Then there are the toys.  Tragic.  I imagine some kid thinking their stuffed friend wants to smell the air as they zip down the highway.  And poof.  Out the window they go.  Or perhaps the stuffed friend had been rescued by a community refuse receptacle displacementologist, who had strapped them to the grill of their vehicle.  Sadly, the stuffed friend could no longer endure the intake of bugs or simply had enough motion sickness and decided to jump off. Laying along the roadway was a better life than speeding along at the blur of a Concord.

I confess, this year, I lost an antler going down the highway.  Yep. An antler.  Norman, my little car lost an antler.  Completely forgot to tape down his magical reindeer antlers to the windows and when I opened it a crack for air off it went.  For a brief moment, since we were in the standard standstill “practice your patience” traffic, I did ponder stopping to pick it up but thought better of it.  So for the day, Norman was a unicorn.

Hands down, the strangest thing I have ever found along the roadway?

A set of dentures.

 

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10259330_715172081854832_8992840686047184098_nWhat happened to nice?

I wouldn’t even bother to say society needs a good dose of Miss Manners, Emily Post and a decent wrap on the knuckles with a ruler.  (except, I just did) Honestly, I think the concept of being nice or even remotely polite has gone along the way of the chicken trying to cross the damn road.

Forget the road, that chicken is trying to survive to  see another day of cracked corn and hope that little old couple comes down to feed them if they’re lucky…so it doesn’t have to cross the road!

Society has given up on the concept of NICE.  It’s better off walking in the ditch.  Not worth the effort.  Why even bother?

It’s short attention spans, loud volumes, fast paced environments, in the NOW technology, constantly walking up my ass at the grocery store and honking your damn (insert whatever model car here) horn before the light even turns green because I may be color blind and not realize the change in brightness indicates I should remove my foot from the brake…..these are some of the things that has led us down this path of….. fuck off behavior.

Seriously.

Laura Ingalls would be appalled.

Jack Hannah would say animals behave better.

Charlie Brown would say even Lucy, when she removes the football, is a kinder person.

What the hell has happened to being nice?  I don’t mean you have to be overly polite, like you’re trying to win the Nobel Peace Prize or hoping to be crowned Miss America and need to over compensate for your lack of not knowing the answer to your random question on politics, world peace or child labor.  Nor am I suggesting you pretend you’re up for an Academy Award and have to buy your way to the winners circle….enjoying this person’s company and clinking glasses with that person say they “really like you.”

That’s not it at all.

But. Damn, people.

Get a clue.

Get some common sense at least.

Maybe that’s what it is.  No common sense.  Can you get a pill at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s for Common Sense deficiency?  If you made it a dummy pill – and labeled it would people automatically gain common sense just by thinking they were enhancing their common sense?

At work recently they’ve adopted a campaign.  A be kind to your co-worker campaign – it’s a nice place to work campaign.  I don’t know, maybe employees are getting beat up in the parking lot after work for their lunch money.   They want us to be friendly.  You know…..hold the elevator for people…..don’t hide behind plants….say hello….because after all “smiles are contagious.”

Yeah well so’s herpes.

You can get herpes from a friendly environment.

Thanks.

Every time I see a stranger, they greet me.  It’s like a secret email has gone out, “We don’t work among strangers.  We work among F R I E N D S.  If you see a stranger, don’t point and scream….just say hello!”

Are you shitting me?

I’m an Only Child.  I prefer strangers, they don’t bother me.  (Unless they want to kidnap you, then you have a problem.)  Strangers are usually quiet, unless they are my old upstairs neighbor but you know that already and that’s not a stranger, that was a neighbor.  Anyhow, most strangers are Q U I E T.

Now. At work. I can’t go to the bathroom without everyone I pass greeting me.  It’s like I’m on a parade.   You would think I’m running for a governmental office.  I’m hoping the next installment to this campaign will be confetti cannons.  Those of you who know me, know my love of confetti….and confetti cannons.

The first day it happened I was walking down the hallway and everyone I passed was “Hi-ing” and “Hello-ing” me.  About the third person that greeted me….I started to wonder what the hell was going on.  I mean it’s a big company, but have I EVER met any of these people?  Who the hell are these people?  Am I loosing my mind?  We don’t even work in the same department….

Tell me.

Now when I leave my padded desk area is it required I be on campaign mode?  Is this the goal? Should I automatically turn on the Queen’s wave (which, if you didn’t already know…it’s wrist, wrist, wrist….elbow, elbow, elbow) and royal co-worker charm?

What if I am NOT in THE MOOD? Can I help it if I have an “at rest bitch face” when in deep contemplative thought or just not wanting to be bothered?  No amount of my Happy Camper pills are going to help and certainly you don’t want me eating pea soup if it’s one of those types of days.

Perhaps I need to fashion a board around my neck that says, “In a mobile time out.”

The other day a group of us were walking between the buildings, coming back from a meeting.  We knew everyone in our group – safety in numbers.  A single person was heading towards us.  The single greeted us.  Most of us kind of did a soft response back hello….”who the hell are these people.”

I asked the loudest in my little gang of responders…..”did you know that person?”

No…not really, I mean they kind of looked familiar but I don’t know them.

Okay, it’s not just me.  Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

She’ll Be Coming Around the Golf Course….

Sunday I got up, threw on my exercise clothes and headed out the door to walk 3 miles.

My complex sits along side a golf course and you can walk all the way around the course on a paved trail.  The trail itself is 3 miles however, I was just going to go down to the light I turn at to go to work and back.  I marked it out in the car and round trip is 3 miles.

Perfect.

It was about 10:00AM and by 10:10AM – out on the trail- I was sweating.  Not because I was over exerting myself but the humidity was fierce.  I had a sweat mustache that was turning into a sweat beard.  This was the least of my worries as I thought, “dear lord don’t let my ass sweat so much I get visible crack sweat.”

Passing other exercisers I pondered….

A.)  I’m the only one carrying a water bottle.

B.)  Nobody else looks hot.  (Except for the woman who was carrying a towel in her cleavage.  Yep.  Swear.)

The trail is also popular for people and their dogs.  It wasn’t long until I encountered my first couple walking their furry kid.  The parents were both sporting shorts and tank tops while busily chatting about the upcoming day.  However, it was their dog that caught my attention.

The pet.

Was wearing a sweater.

Apparently, when they bought the dog it was a full sized Doberman Pinscher but for some reason, over time, it began to shrink and now was a pocket sized pet.  That’s embarrassing.  When you heat things up that shouldn’t really be heated …..they tend to shrink.

Think:  washing a wool sweater.

Continuing on my way, I encountered some of the local wildlife.  The crazy ass ducks.  There were precisely TWO cute white feathered ducks with the yellow beaks.  The rest of the herd were these oddly  poka-a-dotted, red headed, as large as four footballs kind of ducks.  They come up to about my knee.  I’ve see them all the time as I drive along this stretch of the road –  they enjoy the greens of the course.

Today, there’s about 14 of them in the middle of the trail.

About 25 paces ahead of me is a man.  Not an enormous man.  Not a small man.  Not a skinny man.  Not a fat man.  Just a man.  He approaches the herd.  I’m thinking, “this will be interesting.”  Next thing I know he’s flapping his arms wildly over his head, while yelling at them:

“Go Away!”

“Go!”

“Get out of here!”

Some people are afraid of cockroaches.  Some people don’t like cats.  This man obviously thought the ducks were going to knock him down and attack him him like a band of rubber soled mall cops believing he shop lifted something from the As Seen On TV store.

Next up?  The Alaska Minxy.  I approach the herd.  My take on the scene was completely different.    Just like a Wood Nymph from the forest, I greet the ducks and wish them a pleasant day.

“Morning everyone.”

“Excuse me. Pardon me.”

“Have a good day.  Stay out of trouble.  Good to see you.”

I weaved my way through the knee high nippers (while trying to avoid the ones with the creepy red heads and turkey like neck things) all the while conversing with them.  They had plenty to say and it was all very important to express whatever it was.

Honk.  Honk.  Squawk.  Honk.  Beep.  Squawk.

Finally, I was on my final approach to the gate of my community, I spotted a giant tree, which would be perfect to sit under to do my cool down stretches.  I really enjoy this time of my workout.  It’s calming and relaxing for me.  My music plays in my ears and I’m very content.  Having drank my entire Nalgene bottle of water…and sweating like a UFC fighter….I carefully check to make sure there’s no dog poop or snakes in the grass and begin my stretches.

I’m sitting on the ground, legs stretched to either side and I’m leaning over each leg, stretching.  Ahhhh.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a figure to my left.  Okay, well just ignore it.  It will go away.  La. La. La. Laaaa.  La. La. La.

I bend to the other knee and WHOA, what the hell?  The figure is now pretty much within arms reach.  I look up at this man who could have easily been my grandfather, standing there with his hands on his hips, his mouth is moving…..Really?  You have to be kidding me.

He’s obviously trying to tell me something so,  I take out my earplugs and think he must be trying to tell me that he wouldn’t advise sitting in the grass because of snakes or lizards….right?

Wrong.  He says, “are you stretching?”

No, I’m actually looking to see if ants have dandruff and am checking this crab grass for evidence.  WTF?

He proceeds to tell me that I’m doing it all wrong and I should be doing it this way.  And it’s all about breathing.  Yatta.  Yatta.  Okay, got it.  Thanks.  You can stretch how you want to stretch and I’ll stretch the way I want to stretch….now please move on so I can continue to check on the ant dandruff.

Then, it becomes obvious he’s determined to change my ways and proceeds to show me a better stretch using the tree.  Fine.  By this time I am sweating so much I learn that:  no really, when sweat runs into your eyes it burns.

It actually burns A LOT!  First one eye.  Then the second eye.  Luckily my third eye was still at home soaking in the anti-ache third eye solution.  I think my sweat is actually melting my contacts to my eyeballs.  All the while grandpa here is showing me the proper hamstring stretch.

Then he stands up and says, “can you bend over?”

I said, “Excuse me?”

He replied, “You know, touch your toes.  A lot of people can’t touch their toes because they don’t stretch properly.  Like this.”  And he proceeds to aim for his toes.

I turn to the side and throw my hands on the ground.  Yep, I’d say I can touch my toes….no problem.  Got it.  Check.

My eyes now feel like I’ve put Frank’s Red Hot in them and I really just need to go through the gate on my left.  HOWEVER.

As I begin to make my exit, Grandpa is telling me how I should really take up yoga cause it keeps woman looking young.  I tell him the company I work for actually offers a yoga class every week at the company gym.  He was shocked and asked where I worked.

I’m thinking come on…buddy, if I give off any more vibe of “I’ve got to go” I’m going to disappear in a giant puff of smoke.  Not to mention I need to get the sweat out of my eyeballs – now I can barely see due to the triple vision in each eyes and my nose is now running.

I tell him I work for Royal Caribbean cruises and his response is, “It’s terrible what happened to all those captives.  Just a shame.”  I couldn’t figure out if he was referring to employees or passengers.  Then he says something about being stranded out there and being held captive.

As I make my way to the gate I yell over my shoulder that wasn’t Royal Caribbean, that was Carnival cruises.   Thanks for the stretching advise and have a good day.

I slam through the gate and exhale on the other side, “freak.”

What I learned on my walk:

Some men are afraid of duck herds.

Doberman Pinschers shrink when they get hot.

Stretch inside the gate.

Carry a hand towel in my cleavage.

Learn how to say, “I don’t speak English” in Pig Latin.

 

 

 

 

 

Airline Travel : Hold the Rolls Please

There’s nothing more I’d rather do then get into a metal tube with a bunch of strangers, sling shot myself through the air at the hands of someone else’s capabilities and land exhausted, grumpy and achy in a distant city.

Awesome.

Life changing.

Fun.

Let’s do it again please.

What is it with people getting on an airplane?  It’s always a mad dash to see who can be first to board.  News flash folks: this isn’t a game of Musical Chairs.  There is a seat for you, provided you have a ticket.  Everyone wants to beat the stranger next to them to get on the plane.

I have a limp so I need extra time to board early.

My contact fell out so I can’t see and need to go first.

Yes, my 15-year-old needs extra time to get settled, we’re going to pre-board.

This computer bag, garment bag and messenger bag are over weight and too heavy, I need a wheelchair to get down to the plane.  Excuse me.

Forget about those that actually need to board first.  Hell, just run the legitimate folks down, they’ won’t mind.  Isn’t it obvious?  They’re just like the rest of the group.  Just one in a herd waiting to hear the cattle call to move forward.

I’ve written before about passengers who believe the entire overhead compartment is just for the two of them.  (Not for all three in the row on that side, just the two of them.)  They always feign shock when the flight attendant comes by and asks them to fold up their coats and to please take down the “mine, mine, mine” sign taped on the door.

They usually respond with “But we’ve always done it this way.”  I’m sorry honey but that excuse stopped working in 6th grade when you could no longer snow your teacher into believing you didn’t know the proper way to settle into detention.  I was born at night, but not last night.  Let’s move on.

As John Q. Public gathers anxiously around the gate’s podium everyone is eyeballing everyone else and thinking one thing:

Who am I sitting next to?

If you’re a people watcher, you can see the expressions change as the public reviews its options from one possibility to the next.

Yes.

No.

Hum, ok.

Definitely yes.

No.

No.

Hot momma…yes.

When it comes down to it, we’re all hoping for one thing:  maybe the middle seat will be empty.  If the airlines were smart, it would be an option for passengers seated on the window or aisle.  You could select a box that says, “willing to split fare for middle seat” and if the person who books the other side of the row agrees, you each pay $200 to save that middle seat for yourselves.  Why not?  If I’m flying from one end of this country to the other, I’d pay for half the space.  Unless I was in first class, then it wouldn’t be an option.  But, let’s not dream – let’s stay focused.

The one draw back to selecting your perfect seat mate while waiting for the racer’s gun to go off at the gate, is if you’re boarding a flight already in progress from another city.  Well this sucks.  You don’t get to ponder the possibilities of those already seated on the plane.  It becomes a cruel game of Peek-a-Boo!

Guess who?

No, I’d rather not.

Recently I was upgraded to Alaska Airlines MVP and was delighted with the fact I could directly book my aisle seat into an exit row.  A little extra leg room never hurts.  Not that I need it, but it’s helpful for when your seat mates have to climb in and out.  Climbing over me is fine, provided you’re the one I want a lap dance from – chances are you’re not that person – so I’ll take the extra space.

Recently I was on a business trip with a small posse of my industry mates.  We were all on the same short flight.  This particular flight had one stop before we reached our final destination.  Quick, easy, perfect.  The two segment flight was all of about 45 minutes of flight time but with boarding and stopping and all that other stuff it was about 2 hours start to finish. Ridiculously easy right?

Wrong.

Apparently the Karma Gods were not happy with me.

Walking on the plane I start immediately, counting back to my row.  That would be row 14 thank you.  Left side.  aisle.

One.

Two.

Three.

Four……

Wait.  What?

Five.

Six.

Seven.

That can’t be right.

Eight.

Nine.

Ten.

Are you kidding me.  I better check my boarding pass again.

Eleven.

Twelve.

Thirteen.

Just shoot me.  I didn’t even notice the welcome sign.  I ponder ringing the call button and asking for a fist full of little vodka bottles.

Fourteen.Welcome to Dante’s third circle of hell : gluttony.

I can’t even begin to describe the image that has been permanently burned into my mind.  At first I thought it was a walrus.   It’s a walrus slumped over into my seat.  Brown leathery neck folds.  Shiny bald head.  In my moment of confusion, I couldn’t figure out how he manged to get by the door attendants.

When did they let animals this large into the main cabin?  He’s obviously not going to fit under the seat in front of his owner.  Oh wait, the lady seated by the window is pressed up against the glass like a sea star.

She’s not with the walrus.

Uh-oh.  This is not a “happiness is” moment and I’m going to have to take matters into my own hands.

Before I set my bag down I realize my arm rest is up and he’s literally, laying half way across my seat.

Awesome.

Now I’m kicking myself.  I should have changed my seat.  I should have changed my seat.

I take one glance at walrus man and throw my bag into my seat.  I verify, again, my boarding pass and the seat assignment.

Damn.  Damn.  Damn.

He straightens up and as I’m taking my book, ear plugs and gum out of my bag…he puts down the arm rest.  Thank goodness for common sense on his part because I was ready to very politely advise him that while I’m sure he’s a nice person, I don’t really want to get to know him any more than I obviously have to at this point.

The only thing that is going through my mind now is how am I going to sit back?  Half of his upper body is in my seat.  I don’t remember asking for additional back support on this flight.  Nor, did I ask for a jello like body pillow to rest my head upon.

I slowly inch my way back.  Pretending to stretch my back by twisting from side to side.  Here goes nothing.

S M A C K

That would be the sucking sound of my  shoulders finding what little space available under his ham hock of a bicep and suctioning to the pleather seat back.  It was then for the first time in my recent memory, I had to fold up like a Praying Mantis to survive.  I am very small.  I am a little bunny rabbit.  I am cute and furry.  I am small like a spec of sand.  I am light as a feather.

People continue to board and  I can only guess my facial expression – a desperate, silent plead for help.  Anyone want to switch seats?  Where is a small kid when you need one?

One of three things would happen as people noticed my situation:

Knowing grimace of pain and sympathy – mostly from strangers.

Compliments on my shirt, hair, necklace or earrings – mostly from strangers.

Horrified smirks and pats on the shoulder – fellow co-workers.

Thanks for the support guys.  Appreciate it.  Can feel the love oozing now.

Before they shut the front door, I realize with a churn of my stomach, this guy is radiating heat.  Lots of heat.  Not just any kind of heat.  Pit heat.

Arm.

Pit.

Heat.

I didn’t realize personal sauna was an option on airlines these days.  I certainly don’t remember requesting this service for this flight or any other.  And this isn’t an add-on service I’d choose in the first place.

Insert full on toddler wailing moment…….WAH!

Now can I have a double vodka – hold the tonic – with a lime please?  This guy next to me is buying whether he realizes it or not.    If I’m going to get felt up for the next two hours by a stranger, you better keep them coming.

Oh, right. The suck thing is on the short flights, there’s no beverage service.  Of course, at this point I don’t think a beverage would have helped.  I was trapped under the walrus’ flipper…there’d be no way I could have squeezed my lime into my vodka!  Just open the little airplane bottle and pour it into my mouth, that’s fine.

(Note, my boss sitting across the aside from me would have probably had a few words to say about that activity, but you know…desperate times call for desperate measures.)

What I truly don’t get is if you know you’re a giant person…why, why, why….would you book a middle seat?  Why?

Everyone has to make sure their carry on fits inside the airplane.  They have those tester frames set up at the check in area, so you can ensure your bag will fit.  Smaller planes will have the gate attendant come through and gate check oversized bags.  If size matters – all size should matter.

If your ass doesn’t fit inside the seat simulator – you have to buy the middle seat.

Period.

End of story.

Why should the rest of us, who have paid the same amount for our 17.5 inches of seat – have to endure 1/3 of it being consumed by a stranger’s fat rolls?  They’re comfortable, shouldn’t the seat ends be comfortable too?  If you’re into  sharing strange, fleshy rolls, by all means – enjoy it!  I however, do not.  I prefer to rub up against people I know and even then, those people are a small select group of pre-approved people.

If you’re oversized, do me a favor.  Buy the extra seat so we can both be comfortable.  Otherwise, this is going to be an expensive flight for you.

Ring that call button please.