Thursday Dance of Madness

I entered a short story contest.
I lost.
Even though this is presented as fiction, every detail is true to the best of my memory.
Without further ado.

Total goofiness is greater than the sum of its parts. If the following events had happened on four different days, this story might not even be worth telling. Foolishness was in the air on this autumn Thursday. There was no escaping it.

I was a college student, and the first week of school was 60% in the bag. I had use of my mom’s car on this day, which was a refreshing reprieve from the convoluted public transit arrangement that I was normally subject to. This would allow me the time to actually make myself a proper breakfast. I had recently learned how to make bacon and eggs, and did so whenever I felt like I had some extra time in the morning. College was still very fresh and new for all first year students. Not only were we trying to make sense of our schedules, buying the right textbooks, and locating our classrooms in the myriad of buildings on campus, but there was also a sense of youthful optimism and general excitement surrounding the prospect of sharing space with the vast number of attractive females. It was to be a good time in our lives, and this was just the beginning. Was it these factors that affected our behaviour on this day?
Thursday was different from the rest of the days from a scheduling perspective in that it featured a common lunch break for everybody in the entire school. Honestly, I never liked this arrangement because from noon to 1 p.m., all students and faculty had one hour to purchase food if they hadn’t packed a lunch, and find a place to sit and eat, which was hard enough the rest of the week. It would take 45 minutes just to get food sometimes. Leaving class for this common break, I remember walking through the hallway of the ‘business building’, which was absolutely bumper to bumper with people trying to make their way to either the cafeteria or the student pub. The signage for the different rooms hung from the ceiling on small chains. While we moved slowly through this hallway, there was a student who was clearly filled with that annoying cocktail of testosterone, confidence and bad judgement, and was slapping these signs as he walked past, causing them to dangerously flap back and forth. I quietly judged his behaviour as I moved past. After all, this wasn’t high school anymore, right? Suddenly there was a snap and a yell, followed by a smattering of applause. This idiot actually knocked one of the signs down, and the chain managed to hit him in the face on the way. Perfect! In almost all other life scenarios, some innocent bystander gets hit with the sign, but on this day, justice was served. As the crowd swept me even further away, I noticed that he was getting lectured from a faculty member. What an idiot! I couldn’t wait to find my friends and tell them.

The one benefit to the common lunch break was that I was able to meet with friends that were in another program, who normally didn’t have a break at the same time. We had arranged to meet in the student pub. Looking back, I’m not sure that it’s such a great idea to have a pub inside of a college or university, which serves alcohol to students in the middle of the day. We were of legal drinking age, and surrounded by people with dumb ideas. My only saving grace was that I simply couldn’t afford to drink that much, so my days of sitting around in the pub, and getting smashed were a lot fewer than they could have been. When else could one possibly say that a lack of funds came in handy? Remembering I had my mom’s car, I stayed sober over this lunch break, and returned to the business building for a math class in the afternoon.

In math class, our teacher was using the overhead projector, which is always a great way to put me to sleep. The thing keeping me awake was a student on the other side of the class who JUST WOULDN’T SHUT UP. I’m no angel, but I don’t like to interrupt people when they’re talking, especially when they’re talking in front of a room full of people. I felt badly for the teacher, who kept requesting silence from the class, and wasn’t even singling this obnoxious guy out. I had spotted this disruptive student in the pub an hour earlier, and it seemed pretty obvious to me that he had consumed a fair bit of alcohol during the lunch break. Finally, the disruptions had proven too much. The teacher confronted the student and asked him to leave. The following reaction surprised me a little, because this loudmouth didn’t seem to want to be there or learn math, but when asked to leave, he refused. The teacher paused, considered, and decided to let him stay under the condition that he would be quiet. They agreed, and the lesson continued. Not a minute later, the student began chatting again, and the teacher immediately called security. The student shot up out of his seat and started screaming at the teacher. I do mean screaming! This profanity was unprecedented in the history of student/teacher interactions I had witnessed. Suggestions of what to do with certain body parts, F-bombs, derogatory references to family members….. It went on and on until security arrived. What made this outburst particularly riveting was the amount of anger this guy expressed in reaction to being told to be quiet. It seemed unprovoked otherwise. This was just our second class, so the guy couldn’t have hated the teacher yet. Maybe it was due to a liquid lunch, but how drunk could he have possibly gotten in the two hours that the pub was serving alcohol before this class began? Finally, security arrived, and this guy got in some parting shots before being whisked out of the door. We all looked at each other to see if anyone else was completely freaked out by this outburst. The teacher shrugged and got back into his lesson, trying to downplay the ambush. I was personally feeling a mix of appalled and stoked. Was the college experience going to continue to be this interesting?

After that class, my day was done, and I met up with a friend who I had offered to drive home. I couldn’t wait to tell him about my misadventures today, or rather the misadventures of others that I just happened to witness at close proximity. I finished telling my story as we approached the off-ramp of the highway. Just as we got to the stop light to make a right, a song that I loved came on the radio, and I turned the speakers up so I could do a little car dancing. Well into my rhythmic head-bobbing, shoulder-grooving, and whatever else, I looked to the left to see an attractive girl in the car beside us smiling. I was so embarrassed. I turned my head forward, and stilled. My face felt all shades of red. Was I the third idiot of the day? Isn’t there a rule about things happening in threes? I tried to explain to my buddy that she was ‘laughing with me’, but he assured me that she was ‘laughing at me’. I moved forward as traffic in front of me started to make their right hand turns. Shortly after I moved ahead of the girl who had witnessed my ‘Thursday Dance of Madness’, I heard a screech and a crash. Oh no! I looked back. It was the girl. She had been watching me, and when she saw that I started moving forward, she too took her foot off the break and crashed into the car in front of her. Her lane was going straight and the light was still red. Could it be? A pretty girl was so focused on checking me out that she crashed her car??? It was only a small fender bender to be sure, but I felt bad. Not bad enough that my buddy and I didn’t start giggling when we figured out what happened. I wanted to go back, but the off-ramp prevented that. I couldn’t just stop my car from where I was. Besides, what was I going to say? Should I have apologized for distracting her? That would have been presumptuous and wouldn’t have helped her cause any. She was in a stopped position before she got into the collision, so she wouldn’t have been hurt. I hope.

I dropped off my friend and headed home. What a crazy day. I couldn’t ever recall such random acts of goofiness all happening at once. I had a huge smile on my face as I got home, thinking about how this college life was going to provide endless days of entertainment. As I entered, I noticed that the house felt really warm. I went into the living room to have a look at the thermostat. Had my sister turned it way up again? The temperature displayed confirmed that it was really warm inside, but the settings didn’t look like they had been tampered with. It had been pretty sunny all day, but enough to make it this hot? I headed to the kitchen to get a snack, and when I turned the corner, I glimpsed a shock of orange to my left. The electric element for the stove was turned on high since this morning, by me. My heart jumped. I calmly walked over and turned off the element, and removed the (warm) towel hanging from the oven door. Wow!
Did I not just spend the better part of my day witnessing 3 people make complete fools of themselves, and was happy about the way in which I was entertained? Meanwhile I was doing everything in my power to burn my parents’ house to the ground? It seems so. I cracked a couple of windows open, and hoped the breeze would come in before my family did. I managed to get the temperature of the house down a few degrees before anybody else arrived home. In order for me to continue to enjoy certain privileges in my parents’ household, it would be wise if this story went untold.


Bloggiversary #3

So WordPress informed me that ‘Thoughts and Rants In Jogging Pants’ is 3 years old. It went from baby to toddler. Now ideally it is fully toilet trained, because there’s always lots of shit coming. I thought I should write a post about what I’ve learned in the last 3 years of blogging.

So what have I learned in the last 3 years of blogging?

Very little.

Let’s move on. Here’s a piece that I think I’ll call “Get It Together, People!”

So I saw this lady the other day walking past, and I couldn’t help but notice she had her button down shirt buttoned incorrectly. Do you know what I mean by that? She was off by a button so there was an extra button on top, and an extra hole on the bottom. Hey…. I’ve had days like that too. I don’t even need to mention how many times I’ve started doing up my shirt, and finished only to realize…. yeah, I did it wrong. The difference between her and I, and not to pat myself on the back, but in my example, I noticed that I did it wrong, and then I fix it before I go out. This lady didn’t fix it, and in all likelihood, still unaware that it was off. Am I being hard on her? Maybe. It’s just that you get 2 opportunities to figure it out. If you start buttoning from the bottom, you should see that it’s not lined up properly, but if you don’t, that’s okay, because when you get to the top, you get a second opportunity to notice that you screwed it up and make the appropriate changes! You might even do a little thing called looking in the mirror just as a third measure. Now bleeding hearts, before you start defending her, I know there are people in society that have a tough time with these things for whatever reason. She just didn’t seem to fall into that category. She seemed well put together and adjusted otherwise. Is she having a tough time that day? Maybe. Should I cut her some slack? Perhaps, but society is spiralling out of control, and there’s not a lot that the average person can do to fix it. You know what we can fix though? Our shirts.

Get it together.

On another note, I was stuck behind a driver yesterday that didn’t turn left at the amber light until well after he should have, leaving me to wait for another set of lights to go by at a busy intersection. I wasn’t in that much of a hurry. Who cares, right? The reason it happened is because this guy was flailing his arms about, trying to get his point across to the person he was on the phone with. Did he have bluetooth technology? Yeah, he did. So it’s legal, right? I’m not sooo against people talking on the phone while they drive. As long as they’re good at it. If you can talk to someone that’s in the car with you while you drive, then you should be able to talk to someone on a hands free set while you drive, IF you’re good at it. Some people just aren’t good at it. Some people cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. Me? I had a job where I had to drive a truck through the city, and I would talk on the phone, AND eat lunch while driving as long as I was on a straight stretch of road with not a lot of cars around. There are times when you have to focus on the road, and shouldn’t be on the phone, and if you have to talk with your hands and picture the person you’re talking to in your mind in order to have a phone conversation, then PULL OVER!!!!

Get it together before you get us all killed.

If you’ve read the last 2 paragraphs and thought ‘hey man…. you seem kinda uptight’. I would just remind you that I’ve been blogging for 3 years. You can’t have a blog with ‘rant’ in the name, and not sound a bit crabby from time to time. 3 years is a long time to be ranting about stuff. I’m tired.

NOW, on a more positive note, here are a few things that are in the hopper, and might be coming down the pipe……

– I’m taking an online novel-writing course. It’s an accountability thing. I think by the end of the course, I’m supposed to have written a novel. I know I already told you I would write a book, and then gave you a couple of chapters, and then stopped because I hated it, so consider the source, but I plan to write a novel this year.

– I acted in a movie. I’ll probably let you know a little more as it becomes closer to being available for public consumption. All I will say at this point is that I’m in one scene, but my character is fairly significant in that scene. It’s an Independent Film that will be submitted to some festivals later this year. Cross your fingers that it gets into one or two. Even though I’m not an actor, I have big plans to segue this little opportunity into becoming the most in-demand leading man in all of Hollywood. By big plans I mean I really hope someone comes and asks me to do it again. There’s actually a far better chance that I will finish the aforementioned novel.

– My travel blog http://www.paymevegas.com has stalled. Not because I don’t love going to Vegas and then talking about it after, but I haven’t been in a while, and some of my recent plans and schemes to get back out there have not come to fruition as of yet. You can be sure that at some point I will fire up a few more posts there too, but……

– I think I want to do a music blog. I love music even more than I love ranting and Las Vegas put together. Maybe it’s time. Maybe it’s not time. We shall see.

– As far as Thoughts and Rants in Jogging Pants goes. Yeah, I’ll keep doing it. Sorry I can’t do it every week like I used to. I think becoming a father has really emptied out the old noggin. As I spend a significant amount of my brain space remembering all of the names of the different engines on Thomas and his Friends, I find myself less able to connect with the real world. I always hated the thought of that, but to be honest, when I’m sitting with my son watching the same movie we’ve watched 7,036 times, almost nothing makes me happier.

:)


Bad Things Come To Those Who Hate

There’s been a lot of talk about haters over the last 15-20 years. You almost can’t listen to urban or pop music without hearing about it. Haters. I can’t believe it’s even a word. Sure, it’s human nature to hate. Take me for example. I hate bad drivers. I hate any sort of spilled liquid. I hate myself for eating my son’s Easter chocolate without him knowing, and that’s just what I can think of in a 30 second brainstorm. I hate fairly consistently. Am I a hater though? Does passionately disliking a LOT of stuff fit me into a conveniently labelled package so that people can easily reference me with a one word description that doesn’t even begin to tell my story? I don’t think it should. I’d HATE to think that it would. I don’t want to be described as a hater. Everybody hates something, but nobody hates everything. I don’t even think there’s such a thing. Let’s explore.

Where did the notion of haters come from? To hear young people tell it, it’s almost like every person in the world knows a handful of people who exist only to hate them (or hate on them as it’s often described). How self-absorbed would you have to be to believe that’s the case? Like anybody that might have a differing opinion, or for whatever reason just happen to be in the way of you getting what you want is nothing but an anger fueled malcontent? Perpetually? Like the act of hating on you is so gratifying, that it could actually be enough to fulfill another human being? I don’t know. I kind of think that’s not true.

As I type, I pause several times to reflect upon my own life. Do I have haters in my life?? I don’t think so. I don’t think I ever did. Are there people I disagree with? You bet. Are there people I don’t get along with? Probably, but I don’t force myself to spend time with them. Is there anybody in my past that went out of their way to dislike me or really give me a hard time? Not that I can think of, but maybe. I’ve been accused by members of the less optimistic population of existing in a world full of lollipops and cotton candy with chocolate rivers and friendly puppy dogs, and ice cream, so it’s possible that I’m giving human beings the benefit of the doubt when I shouldn’t. I really think if anyone hated me up until now, they probably had a legitimate reason. Not everything that comes out of my mouth glistens with agree-ability or political correctness. That said, I just don’t think that anyone has purposely held anger toward me, or sabotaged me just for the sake of doing it. I think people are making it up.

A word of advice to people who think they have haters in their life……. You are far too wrapped up in your false perception of your importance to the rest of the world. When looking at you from an airplane, you are far less significant than an ant. I’m not trying to make you feel bad, I’m just suggesting that I don’t think there are other humans that dedicate their lives to making yours miserable. It could be true, but it probably isn’t. If you are dismissing the reasons behind conflicts that you are experiencing, and just writing off the situation as ‘everybody hatin’ on me’, you’ll probably never look inward to see if there’s something about yourself that you can alter to help alleviate some of these situations.

And if I’m wrong, and haters actually DO exist….

A word of advice to the haters….. What the fuck man???? I didn’t even think you existed. You really serve no other purpose than making someone else’s life shitty? That’s no kind of life. Go back to school or something. Learn something new. Start doing awesome stuff, and stop the hatin’. Don’t be so miserable.

“Blowing out another’s candle will not make yours shine brighter” – Unknown (since it’s unknown, I should’ve just taken credit for it).
“You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong” – Abraham Lincoln.
“Hating people is like burning down your own house just to kill a rat” – Harry Emerson Fosdick

Stop it haters!!! Knock that shit off!!


Questions About Underwear

As I got dressed this morning I noticed something as I put on my underwear. As I’m typing this I’m still wondering whether this is worthy of the finger energy to type it, but it annoyed me, and what better inspiration for writing than being annoyed? I don’t think I’m giving too much away to family and friends that may read this to say I wear Boxer-Briefs. Exclusively. I’m not brand loyal, although it seems as though I should be. I don’t remember the circumstances surrounding my most recent underwear acquisition (Christmas gift, Sale…..), but I will say that the underwear in question were purchased from The Gap. What could possibly annoy me so much about Gap underwear this morning? Was it not a quality garment? It was. In fact, they’re very comfortable, and I would even go as far as saying better than average.

GAP Boxer Briefs for whatever reason, have 3 goddamn labels stitched into the back. Not short stubby ones either. Ridiculously long flowing silky labels. Worn conservatively, these labels are long enough, that they easily pass the top end of the crack in my ass. My questions regarding this are….

1) How much information could The Gap think I could possibly need (to carry around with me at all times mind you) regarding this underwear? Information so important that it wasn’t sufficient to have it posted on the packaging the underwear came in, or on their website, but rather tickling my hind parts as I walk around.
2) Could they not have found a way to somehow consolidate this extremely urgent information so that either the labels weren’t as long, or there weren’t 3 of them, or both?

For those curious as to what information is contained on these labels, let me first assure you that there is typing on both sides of each label, so it’s more like 6 in terms of information provided. My favorite part has to be that the first label says one of two, and the third label says two of two, but the middle label isn’t numbered. It tells you where the garment is made (India). The cotton vs. polyester blend. It tells you care instructions in no less than 20 different languages, and it has importing information in the same amount of languages. All very important information for the paying customer. You may note sarcasm and say “But wait a minute…. Care instructions actually are important for the end-user”. You would be right, but any underwear that has care instructions indicating something other than ‘throw these in the washing machine’ need to be discarded immediately, or never purchased preferably.

To be thorough, I decided to see how the other guys do it. I went through my underwear drawer to see what other brands I wear, and how they handle this important situation. I have some Hanes. They stitch one label into the waistband at the back. Just exactly the way you’d expect. The message is short and sweet. Found another Hanes product here, but they have the information stamped in. No label even. Puma underwear? My favorite so far. No information at all. No label. I can probably go to their website if I have a question, right?? Here’s the thing though….. I’ve been wearing underwear for 40 years, and this is the first time I’ve had a question about it. The question is why the crazy labels, GAP?

On another underwear note, I have a diaper thought regarding my son, who I’m sure would grow up to not appreciate me discussing his underwear situation so publicly. By the time he’s old enough to read this, the internet will have probably exploded or something, so here we go. My son’s diapers have characters from Sesame Street on them. Every time I put a diaper on him, he points at the diaper and says “Elmo?” To which I say ‘yes’ if it is Elmo. Sometimes it’s Cookie Monster, or Oscar The Grouch, and on the night-time diapers, it seems to be Bert & Ernie most of the time. He either asks for Elmo because he’s more familiar with Elmo’s spin-off show than he is with actual Sesame Street, or maybe he prefers Elmo, or maybe it’s because he just knows how to pronounce Elmo, but I wonder this…… You know how adults tend to have a couple of favorite outfits in their wardrobe? You know, the ones that when you wear them to work, you’re full of confidence, and you know it’s going to be a good day?? I wonder if my son has a good day when he draws an Elmo diaper in the morning?


And The Paranoia Begins…..

I went out for a beer last night with a friend of mine. One of those friends who you share old stories with, and then near the end of the night when you start doing the math, you realized that most of the things you talked about happened more than half your life ago which makes you feel old and weird. Nevertheless, these little beer nights seem few and far between for whatever reason, and the last thing I wanted was for either of us to get killed, but I’ll get to that later.

We’re at a bar that I’ve been to a few times before. One of the best beer selections I’ve seen, and they keep the pricing very reasonable considering the rarity of some of the beers they have. Great beer, low price is a fantastic business model if you ask me. I’ll give them all the money I can spare. The food wasn’t as good as I’d remembered, but you can’t have it all. The waitress was cute, and did a good job answering our questions. We had a nice spot right near the front of the restaurant beside a window. Life was good, and we were having a good time catching up, when the paranoia sets in.

A guy in his mid 50s comes in with a sandwich board looking sign over his shoulders that says “What Is Love?” He stands right near the front door, which is basically right near us. I’m waiting to see what sort of disturbance he’s going to cause. We were in downtown Toronto, which is really safe by large urban metropolis standards, but there are still quite a few weirdos out there, and on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of weird parts of town, this bar was located between 8.5 and 9. At first I thought maybe this guy was homeless, but with the sign and all, he’s clearly got a bee in his bonnet. Perhaps he’s protesting something. Or maybe he’s selling flowers. He took the sign off his shoulders to take a little rest. I didn’t see any flowers under there. Have you ever had someone sell you flowers in a restaurant? Not on a Wednesday. He seemed like he was waiting for someone, but he didn’t grab a table (it was seat yourself). Then he went outside for a second. Not for a cigarette, just to do it. Then he came back in and stood. Near our table no less. All of which caused my friend and I to have the following conversation which I sort of remember sounding like this…….

Me: Do you see this guy?
Him: Yeah. What is Love?
Me: Baby don’t hurt me….don’t hurt me….no more….(you won’t get that unless you’re between 38 and 43, so let’s move on)
Him: What do you think?
Me: I think we’re gonna get stabbed. This is the beginning of Fisher King all over again.
Him: Yeah, you might be onto something. Although he doesn’t look too crazy. More like a recluse.
Me: I know. Those are the ones. The ones that look really crazy get arrested more often because people see it coming. This guy? What is Love? Nobody will see it coming, and then on the news the police will be all mystified. The neighbors will be like ‘he was so quiet’.
Him: Should we get our next round somewhere else?
Me: I don’t know. Let’s wait it out for a bit. I’ve still got half a beer left. It’s really good. Do you want a sip?
Him: Sure. Why is he carrying the sign around? Was there a march we didn’t know about? What is he protesting?
Me: He’s protesting happiness man…. He’s gonna off everybody in here that looks happy, and he’s gonna start with us.
(Waitress approaches…..by now the guy has taken a seat, but he’s facing us, and he’s opened a laptop)
Me: Oh, hey…..
Waitress: Do you guys want another beer?
Him: Uhh we’re just debating that right now. We’re kind of concerned that the guy behind you with the sign is going to open fire on the entire restaurant. What’s with that sign?
Waitress: I know, right? He’s been in here before, I think he’s waiting for somebody.
Me: I feel like there’s a button on that computer that is going to blow up this entire street if he presses it, and he’s just deciding whether to or not.
Waitress: I’m pretty sure he’s harmless.
Me: Lower your voice, he might be the type that could hear a pin drop from a mile away. We might be one ill-advised comment away from getting it…… In the meantime, bring us 2 more.
Waitress: OK. (Leaves)
Him: So, what are we going to do if the shit goes down? At least we’re close to the exit.
Me: Keep your bottle within reach.
Him: Maybe we should change the subject.

So the story ends like this…… This fairly attractive black lady comes in and she has to be 15 years younger than him. She gives him a full on kiss on the mouth, picks up the sign even, and walks with him toward the back of the bar where there was more privacy. I debated whether to include her race because it doesn’t matter, but I do think it adds to the ‘that was the very last thing I was expecting’ vibe of the story. She seemed as normal as can be. There were guys in their 20’s in this bar whose dates weren’t nearly as attractive, but she came for this strange older dude with a sandwich board strapped to him. I always think I’ve seen it all. When the waitress came around I asked what they were drinking. Him tea, and her tequila neat. I should have bought them a round just to hear their story. I’ll bet it’s fascinating.

I don’t know how this whole thing reads for someone who doesn’t know me. I really wasn’t overly concerned, but was more just having jokes with my buddy. That said, there’s always some element of truth. I was staying mentally prepared just in case this guy was a psycho, because you NEVER know. On the opposite end of my learnings, the theme of not judging a book by its cover was present here as it always seems to be in life.


#Hashtaggery

This post is a #nowinsituation. Young people are going to disagree, and old people aren’t going to #knowwhatthefuckimtalkingabout. I’m a #hater perhaps. Maybe it’s the #wine, maybe I’m just #frustratedbeyondbelief, but probably it’s the fact that I’m #gettingolder, and the world in my humble opinion is #gettingdumber, but I’m finding that #imgettingirritatedwiththeinternet. It’s a #lovehaterelationship though. I depend on it. I waste hours on it. So in a way I’m in #nopositiontocriticize. I do write a blog though #thoughtsandrantsinjoggingpants, so right or wrong, if I don’t #lashoutagainstpeople from time to time, then #whatgoodami?

Dear internet friends, enemies, and #frenemies…… I hate your #fuckinghashtags!

First I feel I need to explain #hashtags. According to my #researchsources wikipedia and urban dictionary, #hashtags are a #socialmediatool to group certain ideas together so they’re easier to search for. #newsflash…. Nobody gives a shit what you’re saying on #facebooktwitterorotherwise to actually search for it later. People are just #doingthistodoit, which I find #superprepubescentofyouall. Especially the 30-50 crowd. #giveitabreaklosers. I promise nobody is trying to find your status updates with a #hashtagsearch.

The other thing which is #waymoreannoying is using the #hashtag as some sort of weird #punchlineindicator. That is to invent a #hashtag to drop at the end of your status update to somehow #punctuate what you’re saying. Are you like #11yearsold??? No. You’re 40. Stop it. Here’s an example I made up. “Just got into a fender bender, and off to the collision center! #happynobodywashurt #shouldntgodrivingbeforecoffee #theregoesmyinsurancepremiums” etc. I guess it seems cute to some. I disagree. Decidedly not cute, just say what you want to say in plain English. Stop trying to #impressyourkids. The thing is, when young people do it, I’m half expecting it. They’ll look back and #realizehowdumbtheywerelikewealldoeventually, but the people my age should know better.

I suppose if a company wants you to use a #hashtag so you can enter some sort of #weirdcontest, then it makes a bit of sense. I just don’t like the gratuitous use of it by people who #dontevenknowwhatitreallyisandthinkthisisjustonebighashtagparty. Hopefully just by reading this post, you’ve been suitably annoyed by trying to read all the #hashtags in it, and I’m super pissed off that my word count is only sitting at 325 right now because every #hashtag is only one word, no matter how many I crammed in there. Spell check is going to be a #nightmareshitshow too.

I guess I’ve been #crankyenoughforonenight. #offtobed


The Time I Worked In A Chinese Restaurant

Sometimes, years later when you tell a story, it can seem so much like a dream. You start to recount the events and the more bizarre it gets, you start to wonder if it actually happened, or did some character in a movie do it? Yeah, I worked in a Chinese restaurant for a bit. Strange thing, because I’m not Chinese. Not close in fact. I’m not suggesting that when operating a restaurant that specializes in ethnic cuisine, that you should have to hire staff only from that particular ethnic background, but for Chinese food…..I’m thinking you do. If I open an Ethiopian restaurant in Toronto tomorrow, and I need a staff of 10 or so to get it started, I just might not be able to easily find 10 Ethiopians that would be qualified to help me. The thing about Chinese food is that no matter where you are in the world, you can be pretty sure that there’s a good supply of Chinese people. Right or wrong, when I go into a Chinese restaurant, and a white guy comes to take my order (which has never happened, by the way), I’m thinking the place is a little suspect. Here’s the story of how I became that guy.

My first job when I was in High School was at KFC. I worked there for about 2 years. I went through 4 managers while I was there, the type of stability which I would imagine is par-for-the-course in that industry. The 3rd of the 4 was a Chinese guy named (or nicknamed) Ringo. By this time I had a few buddies that worked there too since the previous manager’s recruiting system involved asking me if I knew anyone that needed a job once every 6 months. Ringo was something else. He had a ponytail (it was the 90’s), he was fairly muscular, and loved to wear a tight Miami Vice T-Shirt. He was a laid back boss and sometimes would take us out after work. He knew a place or two where we wouldn’t get carded. These weren’t awesome places, but we didn’t have cars and weren’t old enough to drink, so this was living on the edge for us. He was in his early 30’s and my mom definitely found it weird that he would want to hang out with teenagers. As an adult, I now understand that concern, but c’mon now…… we were hilarious. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with us???? He had his reasons. Maybe his other friends were too stuffy. This guy was waaay into MC Hammer at the time too. I swear I couldn’t make this up. He would sing these MC Hammer songs with his Chinese accent all day at work. It was just fun. He once asked us why we didn’t have any hot girls working at our location, because apparently the previous KFC he worked at had several. It wasn’t far away, and he started the process of trying to get some of them to transfer over. This was huge for us, most of whom still had a lot of work to do in the ‘confidently meeting girls’ department. From that time forward our excursions with him generally involved some female company as well. It was a blast.

I don’t remember the details surrounding Ringo’s departure from KFC. I don’t remember if he was good at his job or not. At that age, it’s hard to care about things like that. Going to work was a party, and now that I’m older I understand that we probably weren’t the most productive bunch in the world. I’m pretty sure Ringo was let go, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if there was some money missing or something like that. I could investigate this further, but it’s not crucial to the story. A couple of us kept in touch with him over the next few years. He was working as a waiter at a Chinese Buffet for a bit. Then I had heard that he got his own restaurant. It was right near Greek town. Small place, close to a subway station, but nothing fancy. I went down to visit a couple of times. The last of which I’d been out of school for a bit. I had decided to come back for an extra year of high school with the intention of taking Co-Op for a semester or put off adulthood depending on which sounds more believable, but due to my own laziness and/or lack of focus, I was never able to find a placement. So I took a semester off. I signed up for night school, and had a part-time job, so I was keeping a little busy. Ringo told me that his daytime waiter had quit, and he didn’t have anyone to wait tables from 11am-3pm during the week. This sounded good to me. A new adventure with a familiar friend, and I could get back in time to go to class or work at my other job. Sounded perfect, so I did it. I became a waiter at a Chinese restaurant.

Was it a problem that I didn’t speak Chinese? Ringo didn’t seem to think so. Lunch service would have maybe 5 tables. He probably didn’t need a waiter, but he was in the back cooking, and it was hard to keep walking away from that to seat customers. Most of the time I just hung out. He didn’t pay me well, or consistently, but he’d feed me breakfast and lunch while I was there, and always made sure I had bus money. If a Chinese person that didn’t speak English came in, I would just smile at them, and hand them a pen and paper with their menu. If they seemed like they were asking questions, then I’d just get Ringo to pop out for a minute.

We had a couple of regulars. One girl came in every day. She was a student at an Adult Learning Centre nearby. Every day she ordered the same thing. Chicken Wings with Pork Fried Rice, and a large Chocolate Milk. Strange that a Chinese restaurant would carry Chocolate Milk you say? It’s because we didn’t. EVERY SINGLE DAY when she came in, I would take her order (which was always the same), and walk into the back to tell Ringo. Ringo would reach into his wallet and grab $5, and send me out the back door so I could run across the (busy) street to buy a Chocolate Milk at the Convenience Store. Had the customer really been paying attention, I was in plain view. I always tried to seat her away from the window, and if she was near the window, I’d run way down the street, then cross, then back down, then cross back so she wouldn’t see me. I’d be panting as I ran through the back door, poured the Chocolate Milk into a glass, and casually walked it over to her table. EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR MONTHS.

To take it a step further only because I can’t leave this one out, I worked the evening shift once, and only once when the regular waiter called in sick. This was tricky because even though I’d been doing lunch service for a month or so, I never got any better at being a waiter, mainly because I was never tested with any level of restaurant traffic. Dinner was busier. Still not busy by successful business standards, but more than what I was used to. At one point in the evening somebody had requested a Spring Roll with their order. I brought the order back to Ringo, and he shot me a pained expression, like he was obviously hoping nobody would order Spring Rolls because he didn’t have any. “Ice, I need you to go to another Chinese restaurant nearby to order a Spring Roll. It will only take 2 minutes!!” OK, let’s start with the Ice thing. It was the early 90’s and my hair was styled not too unlike Vanilla Ice’s hairstyle minus the dye and the shaved eyebrows. I could do the thing where I insist that I had that haircut first and blah blah blah, or I could just let it go, and let you think what you want because I’m old and I don’t care anymore. Ringo called me Ice….exclusively…..sigh……Now the thing about the Spring Roll. This didn’t seem like a good idea, but I shot out the back door (like I do), and ran over to the Danforth (Torontonians will know where this is). I ordered a Spring Roll to go from a competing Chinese restaurant. It took what seemed like forever, probably because there was a dining room with people who might be waiting for me to bring their food or bill or something like that. I remember this place was right across the street from the Danforth Music Hall. There was a concert that night by a group called Moxy Fruvous who were pretty big locally at least during that time. They were right off the heels of the Barenaked Ladies, and it was the same sort of funny-hippie-pop as I recall which I despised at the time. I remember seeing all of the people lined up with their wool socks inside of their Birkenstock sandals. Gag! (2 interesting side notes. First, I decided to google this to see if I could find out what date the concert was, and was able to ascertain that the date this particular story took place was October 2, 1993. That’s probably only interesting to me. Second, the group Moxy Fruvous had a member – Jian Ghomeshi – who went on to become a successful radio talk show host, then became even more famous for trying to sue his former employer for $55 million dollars for letting him go after the word got out that he was into rough sex, but then he withdrew the suit when all sorts of women came out of the woodwork to say it wasn’t always consensual. This was one of Toronto’s top news stories of 2014. Apparently he’s a big deal. I hadn’t heard of him because I don’t nor can I believe that other people have time for talk radio. I was familiar with Moxy Fruvous though, and they were getting ready to perform across the road while I was waiting for this Spring Roll). I made it back, Ringo with the “What took you so long?” BS, and me putting a Spring Roll from another restaurant onto a plate, and walking it out to a customer. So unbelievably grateful that they did not order a second.

Maybe a month or so later, my father’s office had a real back log with their files, and needed someone to organize that mess. 40 hours a week, and much better pay. I traded in my Cantonese Chow Mein for a shirt, tie and paper cuts until the second semester was ready to begin. I know Ringo lost that business not too long after that, and ended up working as a waiter again for a bit. We might have hung out a couple more times, but I lost track of him after that. Those were some fun times.


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