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While browsing around Amazon, I came across this horrible ad for Courtyard by Marriott:

Courtyard by Marriot Ad

I realize he’s supposed to be jumping on the bed, but to me it looks like he hung himself. His bed was so uncomfortable, the people in the next room were so loud and unbearable, the air conditioner wouldn’t cool below 85 degrees, and to top it all off, the remote is attached to the nightstand. The wife looks up at him, thinking, “that man is always over-reacting.”

* * *

Over 6 years ago, when I was living with the roommate from hell, he woke me up by barging into my room and telling me that the next door neighbor was threatening suicide. Now, we didn’t really know the next door neighbors at all. They only things that I knew about them were as follows: 1) the father, John, was very quiet and reserved, 2) the wife was from a foreign country, 3) the children were scared to death of us, and 4) none of them ever left the apartment for any reason whatsoever.

 

I left my bedroom and stepped into the hallway, seeing the wife from next door standing in our foyer talking to my roommate.

 

“Please come,” she was saying with a heavy eastern-European accent. “Hees tried to keel heemself before. Hees locked in de bedroom and von’t open thee door. Please come.” She begins motioning with her hands and walked out our door onto our shared landing.

 

My roommate and I both walked into the neighbor’s apartment, fully expecting to be shot at. There was nothing on the walls except a huge poster of Jesus. One of the kids was sitting on the floor, happily watching cartoons, oblivious to everything that was happening in the apartment. I noticed they had a ceiling fan. Jealous, I made a mental note to ask the landlord about installing one for us.

 

“Hees in de bedroom. I vant you to see dat de door is locked.” She tried to turn the knob. There was a loud bang from behind the door. I stepped further away from the bedroom, back down the hall. My roommate started the negotiation.

 

“Hey, buddy! Why don’t you just open the door?” he blurted out.

 

Another thump from inside the room. I took another step away. John always hated my roommate.

 

“John?” I yelled, tentatively. “It’s me from next door. Look, I don’t really know what’s going on here, but your wife woke me up after two hours of sleep to come over here because she’s worried. So, could you just unlock the door and talk to her for me?”

 

No sound for what seemed like a minute. The door unlocked, and a second later, it swung open to reveal John standing there with no expression on his face. The room was torn to pieces. He looked at his wife, then turned his eyes towards my roommate, who could only offer a weak smile and a corny wave. John then looked at me. A chill shot down my spine.

 

“I was just trying to get some peace and quiet,” John said slowly. “She’s been ranting and raving all morning.” He looked over his shoulder, and closed the door a few inches. “So, thank you boys. But you can leave now.” His eyes narrowed.

 

That’s all it took for me. Roommate and I quickly shuffled back to our apartment next door. I latched the deadbolt on the front door, and then we both walked silently down the hallway to the back bedroom; the furthest we could get away from the wall we shared with the neighbors. We shut the bedroom door and barricaded ourselves in the bathroom, nervously smoking cigarettes and blowing the smoke out the window.

 

When the other two roommates got back from class a few hours later, they found us playing cards in the master bathroom, which by then reeked of cigarettes. We related that morning’s adventure to them, still freaked out.

 

The four of us spent the rest of the afternoon locked in the master bathroom playing poker for Q-tips.

I was off work the other day, so of course I had to go into The Store. It is, in fact, my goal to spend every single day of my existence at that place, no matter how much I loathe it. I’m talking with my wife on the phone. She’s giving me a list of things to buy: eggs, bread, cheese. That sort of thing. And then the following exchange took place.

Wife: “…oh, and get a gallon of milk.”

Me: “Okay… is that all?”

Wife: “Make sure you buy the latest date.”

Me: “What?”

Wife: “Umm… make sure you check the dates on the milk and find one that –”

Me: “I know how to buy milk!”

Wife (laughing): “I know…”

Me: “We work in a grocery store!

Seriously. For a dozen years, I’ve worked in the grocery business, and I’m quite familiar with the concept of putting the freshest milk in the back of the case. They stock it from the back. Not that everyone doesn’t know this, already. You always see people digging through the milk looking for that one gallon that has an expiration date that lies 2 or 3 months into the future, when the rest of the surrounding vile plebeians will have to contend with their milk going out of date a mere 24 hours after they buy it.

You’ll notice I didn’t say, “go bad”. I believe milk is already bad when you first buy it. It was never that great of a drink to begin with. And even though I don’t agree with this particular liquid being used as anything more than an ingredient, I do know, for the love of God, how to buy the freshest milk.

I’ve spent the last 6 years struggling to convince my wife that I do, after all, know how things work.

So, I’ve got my items, and I’m proceeding towards the self-checkout machines. I get in line behind a large man and his wife who start checking out their order. When he is finished and ready to pay, he starts rummaging around in his pocket with a frown on his face. He turns to me.

“Hey man… you got seven cents I can borrow?”

Borrow? You are a complete stranger. Should I also give you a self-addressed stamped envelope so you can mail my seven cents back to me? I don’t like to carry change, but I instinctively put my hand into my pocket anyway, just to make it seem like I would give him seven cents if it weren’t for the fact that, sadly, I had no change at all —

Just then, to my shock and horror, coins rattled in my pocket. I was stuck now, and so retrieved the change from my jeans. Two quarters. Saved!

“Sorry, man. All I’ve got is a couple of quarters.” I said, the conversation being ended in my mind.

“Lemme see that quarter,” the man said, stretching out his hand toward my quarters. Then he added, “I don’t want to break a twenty.”

Confused, I closed my hand over the two coins. Break a twenty? This man had given me the impression that he was seven cents short on paying his bill, when this entire time he had a twenty dollar bill just waiting to be spent? I wanted to shout into this man’s face, “I have FIFTY CENTS! You have TWENTY DOLLARS!”

Instead, I did the honorable thing: I lied.

“Sorry man, I’ve got to… buy a soda.”

He grunted, broke his precious twenty, and left. I checked out my few items, and walked out the door. Then I saw them in the parking lot, still getting groceries packed into their car. They looked at me. Sighing to myself and rolling my eyes, I made a clumsy 90 degree turn and used my two quarters to purchase a Coke out of the machine.

I wasn’t even thirsty.

I was watching the local news last night. In Danville, Kentucky there is talk of a city ordinance to ban karaoke in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

Well. I’m certainly glad that the city of Danville has solved every single problem in their stupid little town. They must have solved every problem if they are moving onto bad karaoke singers. The news interviewed some of the patrons of this restaurant who came there to enjoy the amateur entertainment every week. It was a family place, they said. Then they showed this kid who was probably about 11 or 12 years old singing some song by The Strokes. And people loved it.

The news sat down with the boy at his table with his mother and asked him, “What would you do if the city of Danville outlawed karaoke?”

This child – who is, in my mind, steeped in complete awesomeness – looked right at the reporter and responded without hesitation, “Well, I’d probably turn to a life of crime.”

This kid should be on Danville’s Board of Commissioners.

There is not a word in the English language strong enough to fully encompass my utter loathing of Gamestop. I can’t stomach them. I can’t stand their upper management, their store management, their stupid employees, or anyone who has at any time willfully had anything to do with this chop-shop of video game retailers. This is one of the things that has been hard-wired into my DNA over the last few years. It is Pavlovian; mention Gamestop and my heart rate increases, the adrenaline flows, and I’m ready to bite someone’s head off. If I woke up tomorrow to find out that there were no more Gamestop stores anywhere on the face of the earth, not only would all life on the planet positively benefit, but then those storefronts could be used for something that had less of a negative impact on our culture; like a crack house.

I know this, logically. I understand this about myself. That’s why I have no idea what came over me the other day when we were at this unfamiliar mall and I spotted a Gamestop. In what could only be described as not only a lack of reasoning – but a full-on bout of temporary insanity – I turned to my wife and said, “Let’s go in here for a second.”

And God help me, we went in. Against every fiber of my being and my wife’s pleading. Perhaps it was the Gamecube I recently acquired. I wanted a cheap used game for it. I was getting to the end of Super Mario Sunshine, and my wife wanted something else that looked like a game she would watch me play. How could I turn that down?

So we went in, and we eventually settled on a copy of Luigi’s Mansion for $14.99. It was a rip-off, I know. This particular game had probably been sold by Gamestop already 3 or 4 times. But we were on vacation, dammit. Something weird happens when you are on vacation. You make bad decisions with money. Not that I’m justifying anything here.

Anyway, I take the game up to the counter, and pull out a twenty. The counter monkey rings up the game, and then pulls a different game package out from behind the counter. I notice this package has a price tag of $12.99 on it. The counter monkey quickly rips off the sticker and tells me “$15.89 with tax and everything”.

“Wait a minute,” I tell him, jokingly. “I saw the $12.99 sticker on it! You can’t fool me.”

“Yeah, well that one was behind the counter,” said the moron.

“Well…” I’m a bit confused now. For one thing, why would the price go up on a used game? “I think you should give me the game for $12.99, since you’re selling me the copy behind the counter.”

“Yeah well,” this asshole started getting that snarky, Gamestop Smirk on his face now. “We don’t change the prices of the games behind the counter.” I was getting angrier. My synapses started firing correctly and I was beginning to remember why I hated this place.

I blinked. “Why don’t you change the prices of the games behind the counter?” I asked.

Here’s the kicker: “‘Cause it’s like… a pain in the rear.”

I wanted to strangle this moron. Slowly.

“Why would you even increase the price on a used game?” I asked.

The moron shrugged his shoulders and just stood there. “That’s bullshit,” I said as I grabbed my money and walked out of the store.

Later, my wife told me, “If at any time in the future, for any reason whatsoever, you walk into a Gamestop ever again, I will physically drag you from the store.”

I love my wife.

Epilogue: I purchased the same used game on Amazon for $7.89 (plus $3.49 shipping) when I got home. And there was much singing and dancing. Screw Gamestop.

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Public Discourse

The Humans in the Wa… on Detached
Jonathan Woolbright on Preparing For War
Jonathan Woolbright on Amateur Hour
Jonathan Woolbright on Suicide in the Morning
Craig on Unfaithful