Monday, June 30, 2014

From when cometh my inspiration? From my corgis? No. They only want treats. From my friends? Nah. They only want to borrow my clothes. Ah! Of course! British actress/writer/director Kathy Burke in her role as Linda LaHughes in Gimme Gimme Gimme!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Airline Food


You will know me on any airplane. I will bring my own food.  That’s right, folks, one of my temp adventures was at a caterer for a large airline. They prepared the food, and took it to the plane, and barring any fights, time out for a beer/weed/sex, or other hazards specific to the mission, loaded it on the plane.

A merger meant that the airline caterers had to hire about 500 people. So a temp had been brought in to support the human resources division throughout the process, and I was to replace that temp while she went on vacation. I had a day for her to train me.  

Cindee was a pint-sized Diana Ross transplanted from New York to the south who claimed to be Haitian by birth. She and her husband had both worked for a very large bank and been transferred South before she was laid off. If she weighed 50 pounds it would be in full, soaking wet winter attire and heavy jewelry. The first thing she did was to shut the door to the office and proceed to badmouth the actual HR department there.  
What? He's never seen food on a plate?
The office was in the back right quadrant of the building and had two doors, one opened onto the hallway inside the building. To its immediate left was the office for the company’s two HR employees, across was the cafeteria where employees could eat three meals a day for free, and to the right was a perpendicular hallway. Turn right and you walked ten feet, made a sharp right and walked eight feet to an outside door. Turn left on that hallway and there was a gate that led to the area where the meals for the planes were prepared. 

Directly opposite the office door was another which led into the hall by the back doorway. People could come in the back door of the building, enter the hallway, and then knock on that door of the HR temps office to inquire about a job. Cindee said HR wanted us to ask if they had applied on-line, and if not to tell them that was the first step. Apply on line, then we would call them to come in, complete paperwork, and send them for a blood test. If all went well at that point, we would call them to come in for the job offer and orientation. It didn’t take much time to see Cindee made up the rules as she went along. The two HR employees, Selena and Tonya, seemed to shut their doors all day.

And so she ran her own business, gave me an hour’s worth of training and seven hour’s worth of complaining. Most of the complaining was about the company, and the rest was to inform me of her superiority to the HR department. After all, she and her husband had worked in the bank’s corporate offices, though they’d laid her off. Still she was ‘corporate,’ and from New York, a boost to her esteemed status. 

She also had a couple of annoying habits. When she talked, at the end of a sentence or phrase, she’d say “MmmHmm” with high, rising accent on the Hmm as though she were assuring you that what she just said was true. She also kept a space heater blasting on the highest temperature possible (in 95˚ to 100˚ humid deep South blazing hot August misery,) and had a chronic snort. What do I mean by chronic? I counted 38 disgusting snorts in 60 seconds. Did she stay thin from cocaine? I told myself it was just one day, then I’d have a week of work in peace. She acknowledged that it annoyed some people, but explained “I have sinus, mmmHmm, I do, I have sinus.” 

Trying to get the work done wasn’t easy. People came to the door that led to the outside to get a job. They came alone, in pairs, in groups, in whole families and knocked, beat, or banged on the door or the window beside it. If I were on the phone, or unable to answer right away they would bang harder and yell. “I know you in there, dammit. Now open this door, damn it, and get me a job.”  


Opening the door was like a game show. You might find someone dressed in proper business attire for a job interview, but not often. It was anything from night club attire, shorts, flipflops and tube tops, or huge high heels, sheer clothes, three inch nails, swimsuits, baggy pants, tank tops. Many times I opened the doors to find an entire family, four generations, in Indian garb including saris, turbans, tunics, etc. all wanting a job. Or a Vietnamese family right out of central casting for Apocalypse Now               

They begged me to give them a job. I understood. I was temping there myself without knowing how long I would be earning a check. But I needed to get them to understand the proper procedure.

On the morning of my last day I told Selena and Tonya to feel free to ask me to do or help with any job and get their money’s worth out of me. They replied they planned to keep me longer to help. Great news. Besides, I really liked them and felt that they knew their temp Cindee was a bit of a wild card. 

A wild card who was surprised to see me when she returned. I wasn’t any happier about being back in her snorting, bitching, blazing inferno. Cindee continued to operate by her own rules, HR kept their door shut, and when employees begged to get their family members hired, she was quick to make it happen. And just as quick to gloat about the cash gifts she received from them. Yes, she showed me the money. She also managed somehow to avoid work for hours visiting pals around the other side of the building and then put 20 – 30 hours of overtime on her time card each week. So I guess she was as superior to all of us as she said, because she was raking in the big money.

As I was given more responsibility by the HR team, I found process improvements easily. So tasks that Cindee had spent ten or more hours on, I had completed in two or three. This does not make a new temp popular with the old temp.

There were also phone messages to be retrieved, and Cindee found them very entertaining.

“‘Yeah, I just want someone to know I’m going to file a sexual harassment because yesterday before my shift started I found T.J. in his truck behind the building having sex with Natalie and me and T.J. been together for a month now and he said he wasn’t having sex with anybody else. So I need to file for sexual harassment.” 
 
“Yeah, uh, yeah, you know, like, I came in, and I went for my drug test and all, but I haven’t heard back from you, and if it’s about the drug test, well, I’m on some strong antibiotics and painkillers that might cause a problem.” 

“Hey, this is Mary, my husband might try to pick up my check tomorrow, but don’t let him, cause he and my boyfriend got in a fight last night and he stole my car and it had my weed in it.” 

And so on. The fights were another source of amusement, especially after they had to tell their side.
 
“Okay, I was doing my job getting the trays out, and I might have been talking to someone and Judy came by and thought I was talking to her. Then a tray just accidently by itself slid off a shelf and hit her on the back of the head. So when I went out to load the food on the plane, she came out there and took a drink and shook up the can and made it spray all over me. I don’t know why.” 

“Yeah, well, I was pushing a cart to the kitchen like my supervisor told me to and I heard Mike saying, ‘Hey, that’s Judy the baldheaded whore.’ Then he hit me with the tray on my head trying to mess up my wig. I asked him very politely to leave me alone. Later I went to help load the plane. It was hot and I was going to have a Mountain Dew, but somehow when I opened it the whole thing just went everywhere and at the same time Mike just happened to walk up to me and got it on him. I thought it was bad that he just happened to walk up to me at that time.” 

Yes, the entertainment was endless. For me, anyway. Cindee loved to tell me about her son, Michael, who was a seven year old genius. Yet even a genius has problems. Michael had to spend a day in the dental chair having eight cavities filled. Cindee explained that eight is not a high number but actually normal for children. But the day after she began to panic about the effect all those mercury fillings would have on him. Nothing I said would convince her that there was no mercury used, so she called the dentist’s office. 

“Hello, this is Mrs. Jones, and my son Michael was there yesterday because he had eight cavities filled, mmHmm, eight. And somebody should have called to ask me about the mercury, mmmHmm, because we are holistic people, that’s right, I said holistic. MmHmm, and we are not candidates for mercury,MmHmm . So we’re gonna have to sue the dentist for putting mercury in Michael’s teeth. Yes? What’s that? Look we’re not stupid, I told you we are holistic, MmHmm and we are Jehovah’s Witnesses. And you, did you hurt him, cause he was tired when he got home, MmHmm. What do you mean? Oh. Oh, okay. Oh. Yes, he brushes his teeth. MmHmm Once a day. Hmm? He gets a piece of candy at night when he goes to bed. No, it’s just a piece of candy, it’s not enough to cause cavities. MmmHmm, well, I can’t talk anymore, I’m at work. 

Nothing more was said about the mercury. Or the dentist. Or Michael’s teeth. 

Then there was the excitement of Cindee and her husband taking young Michael to see The Karate Kid. 

“We went to see The Karate Kid, mmmmHmm, we took Michael, and you know he’s very advanced in school, all the teachers say he needs special tutors and classes, mmmHmm, because they can’t keep up with his intelligence level. MmmmHmm, so he takes Chinese lessons, and we went to the movie, and he knew everything the Chinese people were saying, so he translated for us for the entire movie. Can you believe it? It was awesome! Everyone in the theater kept turning around and staring at us, and you know why. 

Me: Because they don’t like people talking during the movie?

What? Oh, you’re so funny. No, they were staring because they couldn’t believe that a little black boy is fluent in Chinese.
Oh. 

So, the hiring rush was soon completed meaning Cindee and I were out of a job. Too bad because there were many characters there – the secretary from Detroit who dressed in shiny, silver lame, disco attire, another with an office full of every kind of stuffed toy and at least five dozen full candy jars, the guy who performed  breakdancing demonstrations if he thought we needed a smile, the Cambodian woman who wore a t-shirt with the recycling emblem and the words “I Recycle Boys,” and more.

Well, enough for now. I’m flying to San Diego next week. It’s five hours, right? I’ll make a couple of sandwiches. For five bucks, cash only, I'll make one for you.

 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Convention & Visitors Center, Ready To Serve!


Here's one I submitted to a contest for a book called Jobs Of The Damned. I didn't get enough votes to get in, but got to read many other submissions of people who had been through PsychoBoss Hell. There is far more to this particular story which I'll get to soon.

The year is 2007. Being laid off, and getting a degree in PR in a city that prefers them barely post-pubescent, I was glad to get a job as a concierge, actually part of the city's convention and visitors center bureau, in a major downtown hotel & convention center. The boss was in his 60s, a tidy little gay man from the Deep South with a MA in Art History, who could be fun in the right mood, but his daily habit of weed and wine did nothing to help a brain that was immersed in hallucinogens he bragged of from his college days.

Although the schedule was erratic we weren’t allowed to write it down (seriously) and were only given a few days at a time. He said he just couldn’t think that far. His best galpal (let’s call her Lola) worked there, well, she drew a paycheck though she rarely showed up or called. She once missed an entire week of work and made her pay plus overtime. They had a long and very co-dependent relationship and were the personification of Philip and Mildred in Somerset Maugham's book, Of Human Bondage.





Every day I had to be by his side as he checked his e-mail. Every time he needed to send an e-mail with an attachment I had to walk him through it step by step. Every time.


He refused to write it down. For two years. And every step was torture. 
"But it won’t work.” 
"Yes it will."
"No, it’s not there, something’s happened to it." 
"No, it’s still there. See?" 
"Well Baby Jesus F* me in the F*king heart!" 


Unfortunately he was not able to speak a sentence or phrase without some of the most vile combinations of swearing I’ve ever heard. Twenty minutes it took for every e-mail attachment. Then there were the days he couldn’t open an e-mail, when he called the IT guys or his ISP to cuss them harshly. I would open it for him.
What did you do?
Double-clicked
Since when do you have to do that?
Always”
More cursing and disbelief.

Once he couldn't open a link and cursed and swore that John McCain was controlling the internet so people could only see what McCain allowed.

The schedule conversations.
“Are you coming in tomorrow?”
"No."
"It’s a good thing I asked. Why not?"
"You told me not to, Bill."
"So, you just weren’t going to show up or call?
"Not if I’m told not to come, no."
Goddamit just give me a straight answer!"

Or


"Now, when you come in tomorrow"
"Bill, I’m off tomorrow. Remember? Hospital? Biopsy?"
"But we need staff. What time can you get here?"
"Um, hospital says have someone to drive me home. Remember? So I won't be here. We talked about this."

"Goddam baby Jesus just f-ck me in the goddam f-cking heart why don't you!"
More cursing. And then more cursing.

To shorten this story, I’ll just make a little list of the highlights. 



• When the opportunity came for one of us to work an extra shift at twice the pay, he only booked himself and the gal that was attendance-challenged. 

• He quit putting one guy on the schedule because he suspected him of stealing some of his weed clientele. You heard me. He ran a good profit center on the side selling weed to some downtown restaurant employees.



• He had a restaurant menu magazine biz - a concierge menu book - on the side, and when restaurants wouldn’t pay to be in it he would pull their menus from the conventions and visitors center shelves and tell us not to recommend them. Acting like a mafia don - "They're dead to me!" Or "We'll show them how powerful our Menu Book is!" Even though the restaurant owners had paid membership dues to the convention and visitors bureau for to have us recommend them to guests.

• When the barista in our Starbucks began sexually harassing me he refused to get involved. I found later HR had contacted him, and he told them I had changed my mind and decided to drop it.


• If Boss Weed and Lola went to a restaurant, ordered a big meal and wine, they would turn into a pair of Leona Helmsley's tormenting the servers and sending back food. If a restaurant *gasp* charged them for the meal, they would tell us to never send people there or say it was closed.


• Sometimes people would approach the concierge desk asking for information or directions, and it was though a switch was flipped and the Anti-Concierge was in. “You can’t go there! You just can’t. They won’t let you in and don’t ask me or anyone else again.”


• I took his handwritten reports and created nice templates to make his boss’s job easier. He told the GM that Lola did them.

There were more, but I’m saving them for the book. Occasionally he would catch me at lunch studying software manuals or practicing for the GRE. Then he’d yell. “That’s a goddam waste of time. You’ll just be an over-educated concierge. Nobody’s going to hire you.”

His temper, memory, and personality were such a constant rollercoaster of emotions we’d take bets on it. The last week I was there I was cursed out (for calling to say the main highway near me was iced over and I couldn’t get in,) hung up on twice, lied to about schedule and told F-you. Then he said not to come back because I was being let go. So I didn’t go back. Of course the fool called five times the next day looking for me. I think he wanted to open his e-mail!     



The biggest downer of all was that he told me I was laid off, but told the CVB I quit, so I was never able to obtain unemployment benefits though I fought it for eight months, DOL wouldn't budge. Oh, let's call on some karma!                          

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Write What You Know




My dear readers, I've been off the blog radar but I'm back now. Stay with me and I'll have more true and bizarre adventures to share with you.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Glen Tickle at the Reading Comedy Outlet - And we have a winner!


Introducing Glen Tickle, because we need someone to make us laugh and he's brilliant.

Glen Tickle and his dog, Elvis Costello Tickle, chose the winner of the BlogFest 2011 GiveAway. When I finally master the technical aspects I will post the video announcing the winner.

Or - you can check his site. Glen Tickle and Elvis choose the winner.


Friday, July 15, 2011

 

BlogFest 2011, is the brilliant event by Cinnamon Brown, creator of the blog A Journey Of Books. You will learn more there about what fabulous goings on are in store. Here is an excerpt:

It's that time! Now through July 17th at 11:59pm EST we will be participating in BlogFest 2011! I know you've heard about it! I know you're anxious! I know you're overflowing with excitement!

What is BlogFest? BlogFest is a massive carnival of giveaways with a great collection of participating blogs. Each blog has a giveaway and the idea is to hop from blog to blog, entering all the giveaways your little heart desires. Hopefully you might even come across a few blogs you might want to bookmark and continue visiting. From "BlogFest 2011 - A Journey Of Books."

Yes, even the crabbit ol' misanthrope has a basket of goodies to give away.
A DVD of the film Several Ways To Die Trying with a note from the writer/director Glen Tickle.
A copy of Richard Blandford's hilarious book Hound Dog.
A CD and T-shirt from The Jennifer Perry Combo. What can I say? I need to clean out the basement.


Leave a comment with your name, e-mail addy for notification, and state that you wish to be entered in the drawing.
Or send to my e-mail. Every blog participating has a giveaway, and A Journey Of Books has a grand prize so enter everything your hearts desires. I have links below to some of the blogs. You can find them all at A Journey Of Books.


Makobi Scribe

Malevolent Musing

Manga Maniac Cafe

Meg Mims, Author

Michelle & Leslie's Book Picks

Michelle's Book Blog

A Journey Of Books

Monday, March 28, 2011

Temp Gig At The Medical Supply Business

Oddly enough, Lara from the temp agency met me there the first morning. She talks with the owner, Cameron, privately after the three us had a brief meet and chat. It was described as a maternity leave replacement for an administrative assistant/receptionist at a company that dealt in medical supplies.

Then Cameron kept me in his office for over an hour. He discussed growing his business, my background in PR and business connections, his need for what amounted to an executive personal assistant, with pointed questions about my relationship with Lara and how did I feel about being the only white person there, emphasizing that his black women there could be vicious. He could leave out the black part, I thought, women of any race, religion, or background can be vicious. The white thing? Seriously? Would likely bother them more than me. This is 2010 in Atlanta. I have friends from all walks of life and am quite accustomed to being the minority in any situation. Some of my closest friends are black. Some are white, and several other races. No big deal here.

So the biz is medical supplies. Cameron emphasizes that he is black, his business partner is a disabled veteran, and therefore they have an automatic entrĂ©e into contracts that give priority to minority owned businesses. He wants a “white girl who can talk to business people.” Ooh. Ouch. Let’s bypass PC. This insults all the brilliant black women I’ve ever known, and gives too much credit to the stupid white women I know. But, never mind, back to the story.

The first day I’m given the introduction to the phone system. Small staff, sounds simple, right? Wrong. The first time I transfer a call with getting an okay Denise comes running out her office yelling at me. “You don’t ever, ever, send me a call again without asking first! You got that? Never!” Oh I got it all right. Next call comes and. . .

“Denise, you have a call from Diane Jackson at City Medical. May I put her through?”

“What? Hell no! You got play some dodge-ball, you understand? Play some dodge-ball. But don’t you dare send that call to me.”

“I’m sorry, Ms. Jackson, Denise is not in. May I take a message?”

“Oh, really? A message? Does she ever come in? I can’t seem to get anyone there. Are you just covering for her?”

“I am so sorry, this is my first day and I was unaware you’ve had such difficulty. Be assured I will give her the message to contact you.”

“Well, tell her this. We are forwarding this to our collection agency today. Apparently your company is determined not to pay.”

And that’s pretty much how the phone calls go from there on. They get medical supplies from companies to mark up and resell, but don’t seem too interested in paying their suppliers. Then there are the companies who place big orders and pay up front, but have difficulty getting their supplies. Wherein I’m instructed to provide a different set of answers.

The supplies are en route, but the truck broke down.

The supplies you ordered are hung up (?) in our (non-existent) warehouses in China due to a revolution. A revolution?

Oh, you didn’t say that you definitely needed them this week. You should have told Shenille that you definitely needed them.

Are you sure you haven’t gotten them yet? You may want to check with your people and see if they just didn’t tell you that you got them.

Then when I do take a message or sort the mail, I have no idea whose mail slot to put them. There are no labels for Cameron, Denise, Shenille, Mary, Gina, Charles, or anyone else there. There are, however, labeled message holders for Starr Diva, God’s Brother Man, Bootylicious, God’s #1 Soul Sister, Bucky, and so on. And heaven forbid I don’t remember it all the first time.

Me - “Okay, I put Denise’s mail in the tray for God’s #1 Soul Sister, right?”

Gina - “No, I told you that was Shenille’s.”

Bacardi - “No, it ain’t.”

Gina - “Why not?”

Bacardi - “Cause Shenille’s missed the last three Sundays at church so she can’t say she’s God’s #1 Soul Sister.”

Then everyone downstairs comes down to argue. Thankfully I’m handed a big stack of invoices to file, and they are left to grab their own messages and mail. I begin to alphabetize by the names they will be filed under. Cut to the chase here – I am an idiot. Anybody knows you make a stack here for XYZ Medical, a stack here for Jones Pediatric Office, etc. Wait a minute, you got about 60 names here and you just want to make stacks all over the desks, chairs, floor etc.? Why not alphabetize and then file? Well, I’ve just outed myself as a dimwit. So they leave me alone to my foolishness.

Ninety minutes later I’m nearly through filing. Not so easy since A through G is in the second drawer of the five drawer filing cabinet in Gina’s office, H through L is in the bottom drawer of Bacardi’s desk, and you get the idea.

Cameron hardly shows up at the office. Too bad for him because he has some hard working employees who are extremely smart and could run the company beautifully by themselves. While the others are doing who knows what but are in the power positions. One day he calls and asks me to meet him in a parking lot about five miles from the office, so he can give me his office key and have me use his computer to respond to his e-mails.

So, now the gals know that I, the temp, the temp of one week, make that the white girl temp of one week has the boss’s keys and they have to ask me to get in his office. I feel a beatdown coming on. Bacardi comes stomping down the stairs, she always sounds like a herd of bison when descending those steps but now it’s more of an earthquake. She bodyslams my desk, nostrils flaring, breathing heavy.

“Just what do you know about office work? Huh? Just how long have you been a temp? What makes you think you know what you doing, huh? WHAT? And what makes Cameron think you da shit?”

“Look, Bacardi, I’m obviously no kid and I’ve worked many years. Cameron likes that I have a background in public relations plus a BA in Journalism. Anything else you want to know you’ll have to ask him. I’m here to work, not take anyone else’s job.”

Two weeks later I’m finally getting in the groove of what the boss wants from me. I’m setting up meetings for him with potential clients, and mending relationships with former clients. I’ve also researched businesses and provided opportunities for new contracts (with some guilt) and have begun to give his company a presence in social media.

I did have occasion to tell Cameron the ‘meet him for his keys’ thing was not a good idea. He laughed, very pleased with himself, and said he knew what would happen. But he did it just to “shake them up and keep them on their toes.”  Nice guy.

Then Cameron asks me to quit the temp agency and work directly for him. That is a breach of contract with the agency for sure. By now I’ve also learned that Lara has to come to his office every week for payment in advance because his credit is, well he has no credit. Cameron says for the temp agency to demand payment up front for my services is an insult to his intelligence. I decline because of the legality issue, and besides, I like this temp agency and I especially like Lara.

The next day Cameron asks me several times if I am close to Lara, how often we talk, or if we get together socially. I know why when I learn he has called her to say he’s discontinued my contract. The next day he says I’m on his payroll under a different company name so it’s all legit. Just great, Cameron, thanks. I go to lunch and find that while I was out Ryan, the barely post-pubescent branch manager of them temp agency, came in person to get the scoop. When I get back I’m told to park my car behind the building in case Ryan returns.

Cameron leaves, that three hour workday must be hell, so I begin taking my things to my car in small bits. Then I offer to take out everyone’s trash. Hey, I’ve done a good deed and I can hide my keys behind the bag. The trash is flung into the waste container, and I am in my car and gone.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Do They Conduct Sleep Studies In Hell? by Mike Gaul

Comic / Writer Mike Gaul
My first guest blogger for 2011 is stand-up comic and writer Mike Gaul. He performs mainly in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey; and I met him via my tweetpal, filmmaker/comic Glen Tickle. Please give him a warm welcome, everyone, as he takes the stage here at MOAM.

Do They Conduct Sleep Studies In Hell?

By Mike Gaul

My wife has been politely suggesting that I snore all the time. Like any good soldier who needs sex on a regular basis, I scheduled a consult with my doctor, who suggested I check out a place called Sleep Care. Advised that they are among the best for dealing with sleep related issues, I arrive on the scheduled date with an overnight bag in hand. The office is nothing to hoot about and any interior decorator would scream in horror at the furnishings.

I admit that I half expected to be stuck in some capsule surrounded by lab geeks writing on clipboards. This room is private, equipped with cable TV and cameras mounted on the wall, plus a couch with a plastic mattress, which by the way has the give and comfort of the Lincoln Memorial. I’d have better luck passing out behind the wheel of my car at than I will on this brick slab. Maybe the technician can Taser® me to sleep. These cameras are everywhere and give me the creeps - forget watching anything containing the title Up All Night or resembling an Arkansas trailer community. Wait, did I mention "My Technician?"
Rosa is a twenty-something Latino woman who is pleasant enough. But her English? As you say - ‘not so good.’ Rosa gives me a polite greeting, followed by a quick rundown of her life history, and how she and her husband are saving for a home. I have no idea why people view me as a person you can share feelings with especially when I haven't slept in 15 hours. I nod politely, smile, and my thoughts soon be wondering, the way they always do (Love ya Bob Seeger) if Jack Nicholson felt the same way when Shelly Duvall wouldn't leave him alone while staying in the Overlook Hotel. Lead me to the ballroom Grady.

Instead, Rosa takes me to my sleeping quarters and instructs me to remove my clothes and call when ready. I smile and raise an eyebrow, causing her to blush. "Well, not completely, I need to get you ready for bed." Rosa leaves me to speak to someone in the next room. I hear the whole conversation and realize the Bates Motel has another guest - with a persistent cough.

Doc Holliday meet Mr. Gaul. Hey, Stewardess! Shove a funnel in this guy’s mouth and break out the keg of Vick's with codeine, will ya? I’m tryin’ to sleep here!” 

Rosa returns to usher me into yet another room where I'm swabbed in alcohol and covered in some form of Ben-Gay slime. I'm fitted with some harness containing various sensors. Then more sensors attached to my arms and legs. Hey, at least Keanu Reeves hooked up with Carrie Moss in the Matrix, what am I getting for my trouble? I stumble back to my room and check the TV and VHS collection, nothing noteworthy accept the cover of Urban Cowboy. The sight of Travolta's dented chin is making me laugh and I start to doze off.

I wake for a second to find myself being hooked up to a monitor to measure my breathing patterns and heart rate. Rosa completes my transformation by jamming tubes up my nose. Am I really supposed to sleep like this? It's and I'm praying that some overgrown freak bursts into my room and breaks out the chloroform. Wait what's that noise?

 "HELLO! HELLO!

“Yes?” I blurt out. 

"I need to check the system to make sure it's functioning properly. Okay? Move your leg."

I raise my leg while looking at the camera.

"Wiggle your foot."

Check.

"Now grind your teeth."

What?

“Did you put a camera in my mouth too?

"No."

The author and his technician.
I smile for the camera. 

"Okay, now go to sleep."

Yeah, that was the plan, What's next? Will Rosa claim to be my biggest fan and smash my feet with a sledgehammer? And Misery seems to be the title track to the evening’s festivities.

"Hey, what the hell is this anyway a shuttle launch?"

She laughs. I'm serious. I’ve gone from Jack Nicholson to James Caan and now I’m Tom Hanks in Apollo 13. 

    . I'm supposed to be sleeping. But I can hear the guy next door coughing. Not clearing your throat coughing. Oh, no. This is tuberculosis like coughing, Death's door type coughing. Now I'm laughing because there's nothing else to do but laugh. I hear my heart monitor in the next room making noise. I hear footsteps. No, please, no! I'll be good!

The door flies against the wall.

"Why it's my waitress. HA-HA-HA!”

"Ummm, are you ok? I hear laughing"

"Why, yes, you did hear me laughing."

"You’re supposed to be sleeping," she scolds.

"Well, I would hope I could. But I have a camera pointed at me, tubes up my nose, and I can't move because a sensor will come loose and trigger the alarm. One more thing, do you have a pillow for the guy next door?"

"He has a pillow," she smiles.

"Well put one over his face, I can hear his coughing"

"You’re being difficult, Mike. I'll turn the TV on and maybe you'll drift off to sleep"

The Dirty Dozen is on, maybe Lee Marvin and company will come save me.

 It's . All is quiet. Except - someone is in the bathroom. It's Rosa going pee! Perfect, I'm awake. Can you use the fan? Wow. Rosa picked up a Big Gulp on the way to work. Maybe two. I bet she's got plumbing, I'm laughing again, I hear the heart monitor. Screw this! I'm done. I'm yanking wires off and the machine is going crazy. Rosa bounds in.

"Is everything ok?"

“Nope, I'm done. I need sleep and I'm going home”

"Ok, but we didn't get enough data from you're sleep study, so you need to come back."

"Right away!" I quip. "The first free night I have I'll be back. Count on it."

"Ok, Mike, please fill out this survey and tell us how we can improve our service"

Really now?

"How about an open bar and thicker walls for starters?" I smile. "It's been a pleasure meeting you, Rosa, and thanks for being with me this evening."

I didn't wait for an answer, and I didn't listen. I start my car and make the 45 minute trip home in about 30 minutes. My wife is on the couch watching TV. She looks startled, starts to ask if everything is okay and . . . that’s the last thing I remember.

 I wake up the next morning on the couch. The birds are chirping, all is good. I stumble to the kitchen to find my wife looking puzzled.

"I guess it didn't go well?”

"Nope. Hey, did I go to sleep right away?”

“Yeah, you said something funny before you dozed off.”

“What was that?”

“I asked how it went, and you smiled and said,

Do they conduct Sleep Studies in Hell?’"


Mike Gaul was born a quiet observer, and developed a sense of humor as a coping mechanism while attending Catholic school. His love for "Ordinary" daily life fuels his observational and surreal form of comedy.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fran Lebowitz: Reflections on Austen

When I read that one of my favorite authors, Isaac Asimov, was "much to his surprise born in Russia,' I knew I was not alone. Even my earliest childhood memories were of an "oops, wrong planet" feel. Imagine my excitement when I first discovered the brilliant Fran Lebowitz. And here's a little holiday gift for us all.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Life As A Freak Magnet

Don’t ask me why. I have no idea. No idea at all. But it’s always been this way. Without any encouragement from me, absolutely no sign of interest whatsoever, people will just come up to me and tell me their (often bizarre) life stories. I don’t dress provocatively and I avoid eye contact. But still these people are drawn to me. I don’t ask questions and I don’t press them to elaborate. In fact, I’m usually trying to get away.

But if there’s one in range, they will find me. Every freak, geek, pervert, panhandler, miscreant, social reprobate, clochard or general ne’er-do-well targets me like I’m the saviour of the underworld, trying to touch my raiment, get my money, a relationship, redemption, whatever they seek is what they believe will come from me.

Bicycle Guy On The Beach

We were vacationing on St. Simon’s Island. One morning, after a walk on the beach, Julie (beloved corgi) was exhausted so we decided Husband would drive her back to the condo so Parker and I could continue jogging on the beach. Husband offered to drive back for us and wanted to leave his cell phone with me. Oh no, we were just fine. Less than a mile from the condo, what could go wrong?

Earlier we had seen an old guy, probably not as old as he looked, on a mountain bike talking to some folks. My freak alert antennae went up and told me to avoid this one, not to make any eye contact and to try to be as inconspicuous as possible.

So, Parker and I walk from the water up to the bridge and pass by this guy who fortunately makes no attempt to talk. We walk up to the area with a water hose where we can rinse sand off our feet and legs. I spend a lot of time getting the sand out of his fur before we head off up the road. We’ve been walking less than ten minutes when I hear a voice behind yell out “Are you a real redhead?”

Oh, hell. Not the redhead question. Why me?

I look straight ahead and try to continue minding my own business. This nut rides up beside me and asks again. Then adds, “My ex-wife dyed her hair red and then when she tried to dye it back brunette she ruined it. Her hair was ruined,”

And all the way up the street he rides along beside us, asking a lot of personal questions that I don’t intend to answer. Of course, I’ve got no cell phone or weapon on me so I want to play it easy just in case he’s the violent type. He sees a white Land Rover coming toward us and yells and waves. He tells me it is his sister and then the life story begins. Apparently his family accumulated their wealth as the founders and owners of a well-known frozen dessert company.

They have nine Land Rovers, granddaddy has just bought his fiftieth Rolls Royce, a private plane, a house in an expensive part of Atlanta and one in the millionaire end of St. Simon’s Island, he is getting his new dental implants soon because he hated his false teeth. He is wearing none at the moment. He claims to have broken them in front of “mommy and daddy” to show how much he hated them. He looks a bit weathered, and seems to have been outfitted in an expensive bike, biking gear and even the fancy water bottle to match.

“I’m bipolar from birth,” he announces. “Mommy is bipolar, too. We’ve always been bipolar.”

Well, that may be but I’m betting good money there’s a lot more to explaining his behavior and looks. As we get to the end of the street he tries to get me to go to the airport to see the plane. He’s headed there to fly to Atlanta and pick up two nieces to bring down for vacation. I manage to convince him that I have to go the other way.

The next day on the beach Husband sees two local policemen to ask about the guy. Turns out they have to speak to him on a regular basis about scaring women, but they insist he’s harmless.

Well, no one suspects the ones who commit the really weird crimes, do they? Pick up a book or two by Ann Rule, Diane Fanning, or Kathryn Casey.

Here are a few more of my freak magnet encounters.

The Office Supply Store Clerk

I’m just there to buy some paper, ink, and file storage containers. A slovenly fellow, white, about 35 asks if I need help. Suddenly I’m hearing about his sister who was raised by an aunt because she was born with a backward stomach believed to be caused by his mother’s alcoholism and drug abuse. He, however, enlisted in the marines and served four years in the intelligence department. He was the only one who didn’t have to exercise or wear a uniform like the rest because he was a special agent. The last part sounds partially right. It went on but it is successfully blocked from memory.

Oh, Not Him

And I always get the ones that everyone else thinks are harmless. As I share my experiences and fears with others – after all, if I suddenly disappear I want someone to know the back story for the cops – I generally get these same standard responses.

I caught a co-worker - a married man - spying on me when I went to lunch and claiming to be protecting me. I was so upset I told a couple of other employees. They saw no problem.  “He just wants a friend, someone to talk to and he likes you.” Or “You must have misunderstood. Not him, he’s married, has kids, and goes to church.” Yeah, I believe the BTK killer, Dennis Rader, was also married and was the respected, friendly greeter at his church.

Okay, that's enough for now. You know, however, Part Two is en route.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Joe Queenan - So You Wanna Be a Gangster Ep 1 of 5

No, I have never desired to be a gangster, and certainly not a gangsta, or be affiliated with any such criminal organization or behavior.

I do, however, enjoy Joe Queenan's point of view. After reading his memoir I understand why.

Still, any writer or otherwise self-employed person can empathize with his phone call toward the end of this video wherein he is trying to get paid for a magazine article. Enjoy.


Friday, September 24, 2010

LOL by Richard Blandford


Richard Blandford
 Please welcome my first guest blogger, a charming gentleman from the UK, Mr. Richard Blandford. He is the author of two books - Hound Dog and Flying Saucer Rock & Roll - both published by Jonathan Cape. It was through the magic of social media, Twitter, to be exact - that I met Blandford. I've read Hound Dog and strongly recommend it if you want a read that is viciously whip-smart and fast paced with sharply defined original characters. And now, my Twitter pal, Richard Blandford.

LOL

OK, here’s a question. When people type LOL, are they literally Laughing Out Loud as they do so? That is, not just a little snigger, but a full-blown guffaw? This surely cannot be happening with the frequency and intensity that the casual use of LOL suggests. Has anybody ever encountered someone in an Internet cafe, sat there, having hysterics at something they themselves have just thought of? And if this happens to them when writing a blog or an email, does it also occur when they are walking down the street, at work or on public transport? Can these people be found on the train, staring into space, seemingly LOL-ing at nothing?

Either this is the case or the claim that one is LOL-ing is often a gross exaggeration. I propose a new system of abbreviations that will describe people’s level of mirth more accurately.

LI = Laughing Internally

SSAOOJ = Smiling Slightly At One’s Own Joke

SIP = Smirking In Public

CD = Chuckling Discretely

LITOIADAFM = Laughing Insanely To Oneself In A Disturbing And Frightening Manner (formerly LOL)

*    *    *    *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Visit Richard Blandford's website, Richard Blandford's Hound Blog, or follow him on Twitter. Definitely order his books.
"Hound Dog" Synopsis and Reviews
A novel of redemption and rock’n’roll, masturbation and morality.

He’s an Elvis impersonator who hates Elvis. An ex-con who learnt his craft in prison yards to avoid a beating. Now on the outside he gigs at social clubs in the Cambridge area, fuelled by cocaine, shagging anything that moves (though he’d like his conquests a little less … mature) and bullying and belittling his assistant performers who he cruelly calls Gay and Fat Elvis.

After his performances he dreams about Bridget; the sister who hung herself many years ago. And Eddie. Eddie, the Elvis-loving deviant who changed his life forever … and is willing to help him out again.

“Blandford does for fat, middle-aged, coke-addicted, sex deviant Elvis impersonators what Peter Guralnick has done for the man himself.” Niall Griffiths, author of Sheepshagger

“’Phoenix Nights’ meets America Psycho. In Cambridge.’ Kevin Sampson, author of Powder

“Slick, efficient and faintly nasty, this novel croons indie Brit-flick.” The Observer


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Job Hunting - Part Two



Company That Makes Binding Product For Businesses Or Hobbyists (aka UniBind)


Public Relations Specialist Needed, $40 - $45K Okay, I found this one on-line and applied three times. Finally got a phone call about an interview. Granted, I was in the car on the cell phone, but she had one of those high, nasally, valley girl voices that only her closest friends and mother could understand. I’ll make this one short because my blood boils anew every time I think of it.

This cute little Asian girl, about eleven years old, wearing flip-flops, a long tie-dyed skirt and a graphic tee shirt comes to get me for the interview. She introduces herself as Bee, the HR Manager and Corporate Recruiter. And I thought it was “Take Your Daughter To Work Day.”

First, I’m taken to meet Matt, a department manager who is actually a frustrated wannabe horror writer and gives off a generally unhappy vibe altogether. The interview seems more of an argument with him telling me rudely what he sure my limitations are, and trying to get me to give up my media contacts. However, they may consider me if I’ll take half of what they offered in salary.

Then I got pulled back to Dee’s office where I was grilled about my years of freelance work, and the inevitable question of whether or not I’d want to come to a job every day when I’ve freelanced so long. I got real. “Well, Dee, as you know most companies in Atlanta will not want to hire a PR person who is over 25 years old. That’s why I freelance and ghostwrite.”

She nodded knowingly and said, “That’s true, but you look like you still get around pretty good for your age.” I was speechless. Yes. How do you answer that? Gee, I hope no one trips over the walker and portable oxygen tank I left in the hall. Then she added, “And as long as you can still get around and get out and do things, I think you should.”

I should have spanked her and sent her back to school so a grown-up could take over the office.


Temp World

Like a lot of folks, I enjoyed temporary work back in the day. You learn a lot, develop new skills, and you can pay a few bills. The difference between temping and ‘going permanent’ is the same as courting and getting hitched. You get the idea. So I like temping. Well, I did.

Nowadays it’s not so easy to get into temp land. The agencies act suspicious of you, a lot of tests must be taken, then they want to run a credit check and either direct you to a lab for a drug test or send you to their own restroom with a little plastic cup.

It’s been a while since my last software skill assessment, and the last three years I’ve worked at a place where at least an hour a day was wasted teaching a cursing, pot-head, wino idiot boss how to add an attachment to an e-mail and to double-click to open an e-mail.

The first staffing recruiter I meet reads my test results, and looking back at my resume shakes her head and says, “Sorry, I don’t think we can work with you. Your scores are too high and you are too educated.” This is repeated at the next three offices. Well, fat lot of good going to college did me. What if I promise to underperform? Speak poorly? Slack off and take extra breaks?

Most people at the agencies answer the phone like it’s midnight and you’re their bastard brother calling from jail for the 40th time for money. “Big sigh - huuuuh yeah? I dunno. We’ll call, whatever.” Once I saw that I had just missed a call from the temp folks. They left no message. I call immediately.

“Oh, yeah, huuuh, we were calling about a job. We didn’t know if you’d want it.”

“Great, I’m available. Where?”

“We called someone else.”

“Oh, I wish you had left a message.”

“Well, hhuuuuh, we didn’t know if you’d want it.”

Here’s another good one. Call to say I’m available. Guy answers, sounds like he’s snuck in and not sure what’s up.

“Oh, uh, you, uh, like, what?”

Again, I give my name and say I’m available for an assignment.

“Oh, well, um, could you like, uh, like call back tomorrow when someone’s here to like take like a message?”

So that’s what I do. And the nice lady says, “Oh you talked with Josh, our new branch manager.”

Huh? He’s a manager? He has a whole branch to manage? The little twit can neither take a message nor speak in a complete sentence. And he’s got a branch to manage! And I’m too educated and overqualified to work. The dumbing down of America – can this mudslide, or dumbslide, be stopped, reversed, dammed – or are we damned?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ossum Possum, And Other Irritations

People often ask me if I plan to have another television show. I finally thought about it, maybe I will. But it will be very different. Before I was focused on entertainment and liked making my guests look good. Some looked so good they used my show to get themselves some very high-profile gigs. Not that I get a nod, thanks, or please be on my guest list once they got too big for the little people.

So if I produced another show, I’d want it to be really entertaining – to me.

I want a segment where someone to sits on a stool and talks for one minute about whatever is on their mind. Everytime they say ‘like,’ ‘um,’ or ‘omigod, or ‘youknowwhahmsayin” I get to smack them in the back of their vapid little head – just under the parietal bone. Yeah!

Next, I will address rising intonation. Yes, that annoying speech disorder that has reached epidemic status. You’ve heard it - the rising intonation at the end of every phrase or sentence. Makes people sound like they’re not really too darn sure about what they are saying. How about a little electric shock for that?

And the piece de resistance - if they say ‘awesome,’ ‘absolutely’ or that something ‘totally rocks’- I will be there with a pair of metal garbage lids - one on each side of their moronic head - to bang like huge crash cymbols!

Then there’s Legal Brief Boy. A handsome and buff young Attorney at Law whose sole purpose is to appear fetchingly in a pair of men’s briefs and answer legal questions.
Hmmmm.............

Lately I was looking for work through temp agencies. There are 3 main requirements to be the girl at the temp agency.

1- Have that high nasally voice that is completely undecipherable on the phone and painful to a dog’s ears.

2- Sprinkle inane comments such as “too funny,” “too weird,” or “too cute” throughout your blatantly saccharine whinings.

3- Be able to look job hunters in the eye and lie, lie without shame and lie without ceasing about money.

After comparing notes with fellow job hunters I’ve learned that it is common practice to call you with a job and tell you what it pays, after you express interest, drop the pay by 50 cents per hour, then when the paycheck comes you see it’s been dropped even further and blamed on the client.

It shows what they really think of us. Remember the old joke that ends with a woman asking indignitantly “What do you think I am?” And the man who propositioned her but then dropped the offering price replies “We’ve already established that, we’re just haggling over the price.”

Oh, it looks like I’ve rambled off the subject again. Or not. Tomorrow's post will be about the temp jobs right out of The Twilight Zone.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Joe Queenan's Kitchen Tour (SD)


So, who does the Lady Misanthrope revere? Not many, but Joe Queenan is certainly very high on her list!