Monday, July 31, 2006

Jokes My Dad Told Me - Part II

Told while strumming a guitar...

I wrote this song at a really bad point in my life. My wife had just left me, and I was feeling really low, so I went out to a bar to drink my troubles away. I wasn't really looking for company. I was just sitting at the edge of the bar, drinking my beer, when suddenly our eyes met across the smoke-filled room. We got to talking and drinking and... well, one thing led to another and, before you know it, we were back at my place. We made love and fell asleep in each other's arms.

The next morning I woke up and I realized I'd made a horrible mistake, and that's when I wrote this song. And it's called, "How Do You Tell a Homo You Don't Love Him Anymore?"

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Thin Blue Brown Line...

I got pulled over for speeding last March. Now, I'm not going to waste anybody's time by trying to proclaim my innocence. I *was* speeding. I was going 75, and the posted speed limit was 60. That's not so bad, right?

Only, it wasn't 60. I was in the express lane on the toll road. Like most civilized areas, we have lanes designated for people who have electronic tags on their car, so they can drive through without having to stop and toss loose change into a basket or (God help us) wait for a toll booth attendant to break a bill.

So they built those special lanes and installed all that high-speed equipment in them, but they still decided to make the speed limit 45 when going through them. Not that anybody pays any heed to that. Hell, if I slow down to 60 in those lanes, I end up with a line of angry motorists rammed up my butt, laying on their horns and flipping me off. And occasionally firing their handgun which I can only have once I pry it from their cold, dead fingers.

So yes, I'm a tad defensive about this, because when I got this ticket, I was actually at the tail end of a long line of cars zipping through that lane at 75 mph. But this just happened to be the day that State Trooper Brown was on the case.

Apparently, Officer Brown discovered that there was a lot of money to be made by culling the herd of speeders in the express lane, so he started staking out that area. And that day, I was the poor bastard bringing up the rear.

So I got my ticket, 75 in a 45 mph zone. Turns out you can't take Defensive Driving or get Deferred Adjudication if you're exceeding the speed limit by more than 25 mph, so my only choice was to suck it up and pay the ticket. I was pissed off, but what could I do? I was guilty. (Although I did plead nolo contendere, just because.)

For the next few months, I made it a point to slow down when I got near the toll plaza. As I mentioned before, this didn't make me popular with the other motorists (you know, the ones who aren't me and therefore never get pulled over). Sometimes Officer Brown would be there at his post, just crouched and ready to nab the next brazen scofflaw who sped past him. Occasionally, he'd have somebody else pulled over and I'd drive on, relieved that I'd avoided being a part of his quota that month.

And then, one day, he was gone! At first, I figured they'd just turned on the HOT light at the Krispy Kreme, but I drove by several times that week and there was no Officer Brown. It was like the Rapture, where all the petty and bureacratic state troopers were snatched up into Heaven! (You can look it up, I think it's in Deuteronomy somewhere). I still made an effort to slow down at the toll plaza, but I guess I got a little lax.

So I'm driving to work this morning, and at a totally different toll plaza I get pulled over for speeding. And guess who it is? That's right. Officer Brown, Toll Road Warrior is back on the case. This time, he nails me for going 74 in a 45 mph. I told him I was only going 70, but he adamantly insisted it was 74.

My name is State Trooper Brown,
and I enjoy WWF, making pot holders,
and wiping my ass on the back of my shirt.

So once again, I'm stuck with a ticket that I'll probably have to pay. And once again, I really can't claim the high moral ground, because my only possible argument is "I intentionally kept my speed at 70 because I wanted to be able to take Defensive Driving if I got pulled over." And I just don't know how that will fly in a court of law.

Which means I'm left without any sort of reasonable outlet for my frustration and am reduced to saying mean things about the officious little quota-monger on my blog.

Take that Officer Brown, you bastard! That's what you get for writing me a ticket! You get mercilessly mocked right here, in front of threes of people! I don't know how you sleep nights, but my best guess would involve a velour recliner, a bottle of lotion, and your collection of TIVOed Saved by the Bell episodes. Muahahahahahahaha!

Goddammit, I *do* feel better now! Thanks for listening. You've been very therapeutic.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Jokes My Dad Told Me - Part I

There's this old lady wandering through the halls of a nursing home, going from room to room. Every time she walks into a room, she hikes up her gown to show off her hooter and she yells, "Super pussy!"

So she walks into this old man's room, yanks up her gown, and shouts "Super pussy!" The old man puts on his glasses, studies her for a second, and says, "I guess I'll have the soup."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Pro Temp

Well, I'm working again. I just got offered a permanent position at Michaels, on their corporate help desk. It's not the greatest job in the world, but I like the people. Plus, now that I'm working nights, I don't have to get up at 6:00 in the morning any more. Hoo-fucking-rah.

Like a lot of my previous jobs, this one started off as a temp assignment. Back in June, Lakeshore Staffing sent me (along with 4 other temps) to Michaels with only the vaguest idea of what we'd be doing.

As it turns out, we were slated to work on the help desk. Now Michaels had hired temps for the help desk before, but their Standard Operating Procedure was to toss the poor bastards into a cubical with a phone and let them figure it out as they went.

But Gary, a senior call agent and former temp, had long been campaigning for better training and more extensive documentation for the help desk. He argued that taking a week to train incoming agents would help them hit the ground running and help them to become more effective in a much shorter time. And so, when the five of us came along, Gary was given a chance to put his theories into action.

(Actually, to clarify, I was the first one called by Lakeshore Staffing, so I showed up at Michaels a week before the other four. Gary gave me one day of training, then decided the rest would wait until the others showed up. So I actually spent several panicky, retarded days on the phone before I got trained. But I digress...)

Gary is an astonishingly nice and often befuddled guy who looks an awful lot like Danny Glover did when he was younger (back before every single movie he was in featured him about to retire and saying 30 or 40 times, "I'm getting too old for this shit.") For the benefit of those readers who might be Gary, I would like to emphasize that I really like the guy. He's friendly and enthusiastic, and he's been nothing but supportive of me since I started working at Michaels. He is a sweet man, the salt of the earth, etc.

But the man NEVER takes the short way around a sentence. His method of training us involved lots of long, rambling digressions that might or might not ever wander back around to the original topic. You know, sort of like this blog.

Here is a typical Gary lecture:

"We've got three different kinds of registers at the stores, so you need to be sure you're very specific when you're talking to the managers. It's like when you want to buy a car. Or a pickup truck. Maybe your old one broke down, or maybe you're just tired of walking. So you get a ride to the local Ford dealership. Or maybe it's a Chevy dealership. Maybe you prefer Chevy over Ford. But you get there and you ask for a truck, and they want to know what color. So you say red. Maybe you just like red. Maybe it was one of your school colors. Maybe you went to Texas Tech or something and you want red. Or black. Or maybe not black, because it shows too much dirt. Texas Tech is in Lubbock where they have a lot of sand storms, so you probably don't want black. So you say you want red, but he's out of red trucks. Maybe he didn't get his shipment in. Or maybe the train was delayed because of inclement weather. Maybe there was a storm, like a tornado. Maybe it was just a tornado watch, but somebody spotted one out in a field somewhere and now its a warning, so people are taking shelter. They're going down into their cellars, or maybe they're shutting themselves up in their bathrooms. As long as its an interior room with no windows, they'll be okay. If they're thinking, they'll take some food in there with them. They'll have plenty of water, even if the pipes go out or something, because they can always drink out of the toilet tank unless they've used bleach pellets to clean the water..."

So for about three days, my fellow temps and I sat in a conference room and listened to Gary's stream of consciousness. He kept referring to us as "pioneers." The idea was, we were going to charge out there and dazzle the other call agents with our technical savvy and godlike comprehension.

Unfortunately for Gary, he was dealing with temps.

I've done a lot of temp work over the years, and I've worked alongside a lot of temps. And the fact is, the vast majority of temporary employees are retarded or insane. Or both.


True story. After college, when I first came back to Dallas in 1992, I hooked up with a temp agency called Today's Temporaries. The last assignment they sent me on was a data entry gig for a trucking company called Chemical Express (CX). I was one of 5 temps working there. The others were already working in Accounts Receivable, but I was assigned to Accounts Payable.

I found out the reason I got the job was because the guy there before me had scared the living bejeebers out of the A/P department. He tended to talk to himself a lot, and would sometimes laugh for no apparent reason. Plus, he was constantly wandering into other people's offices to carry on awkward and uncomfortable conversations with them. When he was asked to stop doing that, he started hanging out in the parking lot for hours on end to chat with people. After he scared one girl in the parking lot (it was 9:00 at night and he was leaning against her car, waiting for her), CX called Today's Temporaries and asked for a replacement. Enter me.

I made a really good impression on my supervisor and manager at CX, mainly because I wasn't stalker-creepy. The fact I could actually do the job was almost incidental. After about a month, CX announced that they wanted to extend job offers to two of us temps.. me and a guy named Bob in A/R.

So Bob and I went to get our physicals for our insurance coverage. And the next day, Bob was gone. Apparently the doctor had been a bit disturbed by a number of deep puncture wounds he had found on Bob's leg, and when asked about them, Bob had responded, "Sometimes I just like to hurt myself..."


So anyway, Gary had pinned his hopes on the five of us.

There was me, the hero. There was Kelly, who didn't have a lot of technical experience, but was quite smart and very good on the phones. There was Ruth, a sweet grandmother who worked for the IRS for about 450 years but who couldn't seem to get the hang of all this new-fangled network stuff. There was Evan, a sullen and smart ass kid who was only getting a job because his parents were kicking him out of the house.

And then there was Dave, who as it turns out, was 100% batshit crazy. He talked in this excruciatingly slow hippy voice, and his eyes had that wild "body parts in the crawlspaces" glaze to them. And he totally panicked on the phones.

The first casualty was Kelly, who actually left because she got a better job offer. The next was Evan, who took off for lunch and didn't come back for three hours. Next was Dave, who freaked out while on the phone with a store and started pacing back and forth, shouting "This is so stupid! I can't do anything and nobody'll even help me!"

Ruth's still around, but it looks like her days may be numbered. They hired three more temps to replace the others, and Gary asked Ruth to go through the training with them one more time. I don't think it stuck any better the second time.

And me? I just got a job offer from Michaels. I'm still doing my stint on the Help Desk, but they're creating a new position ("Knowledge Engineer") and they've said they'd like to start grooming me for it. I'd like to think it's because I've acquitted myself well, or I've dazzled them with my technical savvy. But that temp bar has been set really low, and I'm pretty sure what impressed them most was the fact that I showed up wearing pants and didn't smear shit in my hair.

In the temp world, that's all it takes to be a superstar.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


I really hoped to have a witty and insightful post to herald my return to the blogging world, but it's late and I'm exhausted and can barely put together a coherent knuckle Velveeta underwear sentence.

So here's a little inspirational message to get you through those dark times. Praise the Lord and pass the bear claws!!!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Second Third Coming of Chris...

Sporadic posting will resume on Wednesday, July 19.

Why? Because I love you.