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I was walking across the parking lot, leaving work the other day, when this asshole in a work truck comes zooming by and almost runs over me. I didn't notice too much about the guy, other than he was stupid looking, but I did notice the truck. It was from the Invisible Fence Company. I called them to tell them that their drivers are inconsiderate bums, and if anyone else out there wants to call them and tell them, then feel free. And if you aren't motivated to call, then look that number up. Wait until you are just minding your own business, trying to cross the street, and some idiotic-looking mouth-breather almost runs over you. Then give them a call. I can almost guarantee you that this guy will be recklessly driving his work truck around my town for many years to come.

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Several months ago, I was driving back home from Chicago at night. Ever since I got my new glasses, I have actually been able to see at night, so driving after dark hasn't really bugged me since then. My fiancé (or "Hetero Life Partner" for short) and I were just roaring home at 70 miles per hour, minding our own business, and looking forward to getting back to a town that considers a 20 minute traffic congestion "rush hour", when up ahead, in the distance, I noticed a car with its flashers on. I turned off the cruise control, and let the engine decelerate. I was just about to change lanes and move further away from the stalled vehicle, when I saw it in the middle of the road.

It was black. I almost didn't think anything of it, because about 10 miles back, they were doing road work, and it looked very much like when they "hot patch" pot holes on the interstate. I had my blinker on, drifting into the left lane, to give the upcoming car some space, and was heading right for this thing in the middle of the road.

I was almost into the other lane, when it finally registered what this thing was. My fiancé and I knew at the same time that we were heading for a tire in roadway at 65 miles per hour.

I couldn't swerve back into my lane, for fear that I lose control and slam into the car on the shoulder. And I didn't want to swerve the other way because that stretch of road had a deep ditch in between both sides of the interstate. So I did the only thing I could. I ran right over top of it.

Years ago, I hit a deer going 45 mph. down a country road. And from what I can remember, the noise was about the same. A huge bang. Like a gunshot inside the car. All of my dashboard lights blinked off for a second, and my cd player stopped. For one excruciating second, there was the sound of dragging under my car. We could feel it. I hit the brake. The sound stopped, and everything seemed back to normal. I didn't stop. As long as this car was running, I wanted to make it back to town. I most certainly didn't want to stop on this lonely, deserted stretch of I-75. I only had a few more miles to go. Just a few more. I just ran over a tread. That's all. A tread isn't like hitting a pile of concrete blocks on the road or anything. It's what the truckers call an "alligator", but it's nowhere near that size. I've been to the zoo. I called my parents. I wanted use their driveway and garage lights to survey the damage, if any.

I pulled into their driveway, and opened the car door, still shaken up. I slowly walked to to front of my car, fully expecting there to be nothing left of the front bumper. Damn ground clearance. What we saw was really not that bad. There is a grit shield or something that got pretty torn up, and the bottom of my front bumper was snapped clean in half. But it was all seemingly cosmetic. I got back in my car, just a little more confident in my driving skill and feeling lucky.

Fast forward to yesterday. I find out that my car has a leaking oil pump, which I am convinced is only leaking because of the blunt force trauma it suffered on that night. My car did start leaking oil soon after that. The bad part is that, in order to get to this incredibly expensive part to have it replaced, you apparently have to dismantle most of the engine compartment, which is going to take a very long time, and cost a lot of money. Around $1,000.

So this problem probably won't get repaired. My mechanic said that as long as I keep oil in the engine, I should be okay, because the leak isn't that bad. I asked my father if he thought I should get this repair done. His response: "You can buy a lot of oil for $1,000."

He's right. It's a gamble I'm not willing to take. If I pour 1/3 or the value of the car into one repair, I'm gambling that nothing else is going to go wrong for quite a while. And this car does have 158,000 miles on it, so I guess the odds are against me there. All this because I was just trying to move away from a stalled vehicle on the interstate. So the moral of this story is that sometimes you are courteous with your car, and you are rewarded with irreparable damage.

And sometimes you are not courteous with your car, and get inundated with random calls from people on the internet.

I have to take my car in to get looked at tomorrow. It’s times like these when I really wish I had some inkling of how my car works. I mean, I know the general stuff. For instance, I know that oil and gasoline are somewhat important. That is why, about a month ago, when I started seeing spots of oil on the driveway, I was a bit concerned. Yes, a month ago. And it’s not that I wasn’t concerned about it, it was just that I didn’t have any money to fix whatever was wrong with it. Maybe if I wasn’t that worried about, say, eating and having a roof over my head… but whatever.

My brother is currently going to school to Learn About Cars. I realize that, for the most part, this is just another career choice for some kids. But to people like me, the kid might as well be going to school to learn how to Move Houses With His Mind, or Turn Raspberry Jello Into Gold. It’s all pretty much the same to me. And I really respect people that know a trade. I wish I did. It’s much easier to answer, “I customize cars” or “I’m a carpenter” than it is to explain my job to people:

Person: So what do you do?

Me: Well, I work in a grocery store… (at this point, everyone for some reason assumes that I am a bag boy)

Person (looking down their nose at me): So you like, bag groceries?

Me (not offended… yet): No. I um… well, you know all of the price tags on the shelf?

Person: Oh! You set all the prices for the store?

Me: Not exactly. I put the tags on the shelf, and fix mistakes.

Person: So you are responsible for what goes on sale?

Me: No… uh, corporate does that, but I do all kinds of other stuff, too…

Person: So you put up tags, and that’s all you do?

Me: Uh… no. I mean, I make signs, and we run reports and…

Person 2 (walking up to us): Hey, so what is it that you do?

Me: I’m a movie producer.

Person 1 and Person 2 (eyes perking up): OH! Cool!

I used think that I would just start introducing myself as a “writer” when people asked what I did for a living. But that would bring on a whole other set of questions (have you written a book? what magazine do you write for?) that would soon expose me for the horrible little retail worker that I am. People usually mean what it is you do for money when they ask you what it is that you “do”. If we, as a culture, were just allowed to name off any old thing that we enjoyed when asked what we “do”, then there would be a fair amount of people who would answer, “I clean house”, or “I play videogames”, or “I breathe.”

Hopefully, there won’t be anything that wrong with my car (read: inexpensive). But I don’t know. If you equate a car with a human body, it’s like saying my car has been bleeding everywhere steadily for a month.

I’m pretty sure they would put you in the hospital for that.

I always used to laugh when I would hear that crappy song at 6:00 am on a Sunday morning, after I had just dragged into work, with the knowledge that for the next several hours, I would be changing tags on the countless products in the Store. Sunday morning is anything but easy for me. It is 8 to 10 hours of running around trying to fix mistakes. Mistakes that are, for the most part, made by people who work Monday through Friday, 9 to 5.

My new boss thinks we should have Sundays off. This is a completely foreign concept to me, as I’ve not had a Sunday off in about 8 years. So to me, Sunday is just another work day. I was always off on Mondays. I have nothing to do on Sunday. In fact, there are several things that you cannot do on Sunday, that I could do on Monday. Like go to the bank. Or the doctor. Or the DMV. Or the mall. Oh sure, I know I could have gone to the mall on Sunday, but everyone else is off on Sunday, and they are either in my Store, or the mall. I work in a retail store filled with people, and the last thing I want to do on my day off is go into another retail store filled with people. That’s why I like being off during the week. I can actually get in and out of a store on a Monday in a fraction of the time that it would take anyone on a weekend.

I still get a little offended at those newsreaders or weathertellers or radiotalkers when they say, “and it’s gonna be a great weekend to be at the [insert place here that is most assuredly not work]” or “here’s how your 4 day weekend is shaping up”, or “well, it’s the end of the work week”. I don’t get those days off, and neither do a whole hell of a lot of people. Not everyone works Monday through Friday, 9 to 5. I don’t get holidays off. Me, and hundreds of thousands of people just like me, have to work when you “Monday through Friday”ers (M-F’ers) are off on weekends and holidays.

But I’m not bitter. I have no ill-will towards those M-F’ers. That’s just the way it is. I work in retail. This is my life. I have to be at work when M-F’ers are off work and need to shop. And the tradeoff is that I get to make a dentist appointment on a Monday without even thinking about it. I get to take my car for an oil change at 10:00 AM and know with almost absolute certainty that I will not have to wait in line. When a new DVD comes out, I can go into the local mega-media store and pick it up without having to wait in line. At all. It’s really nice. So, I guess I’m just not sure about this whole “Sunday off” thing.

After all, I never considered myself an M-F’er.

Have you seen this?

Spam Singles

I was walking down the canned meat aisle the other day, when I noticed a shipper full of these things. I don’t think Spam is a product that really takes itself seriously. But how can it? I mean look at it. It’s actually used as a derogatory term among computer users. It is, for all intents and purposes, the butt of the entire canned meat aisle. The other canned meats will look at the Spam and laugh. The canned tuna will point and snicker. The canned chili looks over in disdain. Even the Vienna Sausages make jokes behind Spam’s back. The only canned meat that takes more crap than Spam itself would be Spam’s loser, unemployed, toothless cousin, Treet.

There’s a name that is a misnomer, if I’ve ever heard one.

Truth is, I’ve never had Spam. I’ve never tried it, and I don’t think anyone I know has had Spam at all, much less is a regular buyer of the stuff. So the question I had while looking at this new Spam Single is, “who buys this stuff?” I mean, they have been in business since World War I, when their product was used both as sustinance and ammunition. Come to think of it, in all my years as a checklane monkey, I only remember someone buying Spam once or twice.

Well, all of this stuff is going through my head while I’m reading the back of this horrible, squishy, packaged ham product, when out of the corner of my eye, this lady walks up to me and stands too close for comfort.

“What is that?” she asks me.

“It’s a ‘Spam Single’… I guess it’s a slice of Spam in a package,” I responded, with a grin overtaking my face. I looked over at the lady, expecting some sort of snide comment from her about this new offering from a brand that is basically the abused, smelly, 3-legged kitten of the grocery world.

“That’s… that’s actually a really great idea!” she said with a smile. Then she picked up six whole packages of the stuff. I walked back upstairs, actually feeling bad for this woman.

No one should be that excited about single serving pork products.