2011-02-27 (take 2 because Tumblr screwed up the first take)
The Wife’s car is
fixed. I dropped her and The Boy off. They said they were going to go
in to get some groceries. I decided to head back to the office to
Brain: “Hey, I’m hungry.”
Me: “Ok, when we get back to the office I’ll make you a sandwich. I
still have the peanut butter, jelly, and bread there from the other
Brain: “I don’t want that.”
Me: “You like that, it’ll be fine.”
Brain: “I DON’T WANT THAT. WE JUST HAD THAT THE OTHER DAY. I WANT
Me: “You were happy with peanut butter & jelly every day for for 12
years of school.”
Brain: “Don’t want it. Want something else.”
Me: “You’ll get over it.”
Brain: (inhales dramatically)
Me: “What are you doing?”
Me: “Are you… are you holding your breath?”
Me: “You are such a child. You do realize that isn’t going to work,
right? I use the lungs to breath, so you juST GO AHEAD AND WHY AM I
YELLING THINGS GETTING HAZY… WAIT… OBAMA… SECRET MUSLIM… HEALTH CARE…
…SOCIALISM… PALIN……BECK… TWO-THOUSAND TWEL—— OK OK STOP IT STOP
IT STOP IT!”
Brain: (exhales and resumes breathing normally)
Me: “What the hell was that?”
Brain: “See what happens when your brain is deprived of oxygen?”
Me: “Ugh. Fine. Whatever. What do you want to eat?”
Me: “And what do you want at Wendy’s?”
Me: “Uh huh… what kind?”
Me: “On a bun?”
Me: “So you want a sandwich.”
Brain: (starts to hold breath again)
Me: “OK OK FINE. A chicken sandwich.”
Brain: “And fries.”
Me: “NO FRIES. You had some at lunch. You don’t need them.”
Brain: “Do too.”
Me: “NO. You don’t even like their fries. I’m not getting fries, do
you hear me? And that’s final. So just go ahead and cut off my
circulation and I’ll write in Tea Party candidates for the rest of my
life, hell, I’ll even write in ‘The Reanimated Corpse of Ronald
Reagan’ during the primary. NO FRIES.”
Me: “Good, I’m glad we came to this underst—”
Brain: “Oooh! Subway, turn the wheel”
Me: “Subway? You just said you didn’t want a sandwi—WHOA!”
Brain: “You forgot I can control the hands. They’re having a sale.”
Me: “Ok, I’ll do the drive-thru.”
Brain: “There are two cars in the drive-thru and only one person in the store.”
Me: “Yeah but by the time I get out and go in I might as well just stay in the…”
Brain: “The line inside is shorter.”
Me: “Not really, if you’d just listen…”
Brain: “I’m parking the car.”
Me: “No, don’t… ok, fine, I’ll go in.”
Me: (goes inside… walks up to counter… notice that the one customer is
holding a list, a full-page handwritten list, outlining what subs she
is ordering for herself and apparently everyone she knows.) “OOohhhh,
I told you the drive-thru would be quicker.”
Me: “Why? Why do you do this? It doesn’t help you at all.”
Me: “Fine. Whatever. I’m not getting cookies.”
Brain: “Yeah you are.”
Me: “No, don’t need ‘em.”
Brain: “Didn’t have any of those at lunch.”
Me: “Shut up.”
(I’ll skip the part where Subway was out of everything that I like
and the girl had to go into the back 15 times to get various things.
And where I bought cookies.)
Me: “Happy now?”
Brain: “Why couldn’t we eat there? I’m hungry now.”
Me: “Shut up. It’s time to work.”
Brain: “Hey, look, it’s the church where the sign always has some
awful spelling mistake or grammatical error on it.”
Me: “I’m not looking.”
Brain: “You know you want to.”
Me: “I don’t, actually. I’m much happier not knowing.”
Brain: “Ooooo, I think they used an upside-down M as a W…”
Me: “UGH. WHY DO THEY DO THAT? JUST USE A REAL W ANYONE CAN— oh you
almost got me to look.”
Brain: “Heh. Come on, the light’s red anyway, just look over.”
Brain: “Hey is that a naked girl over there?”
Me: “Very funny.”
Brain: “Why are there all those cars in the parking lot on a Sunday night?”
Me: “Don’t know, don’t care. Maybe they have a Sunday night service.”
Me: “What are you doing?”
Brain: “I’m picking up letters on the sign out of your peripheral vision.”
Me: (closes eyes)
Brain: “Traffic light turned green”
Me: “Oh thanks” (opens eyes and nearly rear-ends car in front of me)
“ASSHOLE. It’s still red.”
Brain: snicker “Yeah I know… oh ‘REVIVALIST’! They’re having a
revival, that’s why all those people are there.”
Brain: “Nothing, I just thought I saw something.”
Brain: “One of those funeral cars”
Me: “What? A hearse?”
Brain: “Yeah, look.”
Me: (looks) “Yeah, that’s a hearse.”
Brain: “Someone brought a hearse to a revivalist? That’s some
confident shit right there.”
Me: “Oh…my…gawd… I can’t believe you said that. You are awful.
Obviously it’s a funeral, and the revival is another night.”
Brain: “Maybe. Or maybe they just want to test him to see if he’s
really good at reviving.”
Me: “What is wrong with you?”
HORN BLAZES BEHIND ME
Brain: “It’s the Archangel Michael coming to smite you for laughing at
the hearse at a revival!”
Me: “What? No… Shit, the light is green now. Thanks for letting me
know. How long has it been green?”
Brain: “About 15 seconds.”
Brain: “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and
furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers…”
Me: “That doesn’t even sound like him.”
Brain: “You should see if Pulp Fiction is on Netflix. You could watch
it while you’re writing.”
Me: “NO. Shut up. I’m driving now and then I have to get back to work.”
(No, I haven’t checked. No, I don’t want to know.)
Me, last night, regarding Sunday: “OK! This is the day. The day when
I’m either going to make enough progress to finish in time for my
deadline, or fail.”
Brain: “Oh, hi, um, I hope this isn’t too much trouble, but you’re not
going to be able to sleep tonight.”
Me: “Wha…? Bu…? I…”
Brain: “Yeah, sorry. Just business, you understand.”
Me: “It’s 2am, I can’t take an Ambien now.”
Brain: “Yeah, sorry. Meant to tell you earlier. Got busy.”
Me: “I… well, can I at least get some more writing done now?”
Brain: “Yeah, um… sorry, we’re a union shop, and the guys are already
complaining about all the overtime from last week, so I sent them all
Me: “Home? What? They live here don’t they?”
Brain: “Yeah, it’s complicated.”
Me: “Ok… so any idea when I can get some sleep?”
Brain: “Check back around 7”
Me: “I HAVE TO BE UP AT 9”
Brain: “Yeah that’s not gonna happen.”
Alarm: “DUDE I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET YOU UP FOR 45 MINUTES! STOP
HITTING THE SLOTH BAR!”
Alarm: “OK JUST SO YOU KNOW, YOU HAVE COMPLETELY PISSED OFF YOUR WIFE
AND YOU AREN’T EVEN AWAKE YET.”
Me: “Why are you shouting?”
Alarm: “DUDE I’M A FUCKING ALARM CLOCK WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?”
Me: “OK, I’m running a little late, but that’s OK, we’ll drive
separately because I’m going to go to the office after church to get
some writing done anyway… I should be there about 10:15 or so…”
The Wife, via cell: “My car battery is dead and my car won’t start…”
Me: “Or, you know, I could turn around and go back and get there around 10:25…”
Me (on cell to Walmart Guy): “I need a car battery for a 2008 Subaru Legacy.”
Walmart Guy: “We have a battery in stock for that.”
Me: “And you can install it today?”
Walmart Guy: “Sure, bring it in anytime. We’re open til 6. It’s not
busy. That’ll be $82.”
Me: “Ouch. Installed?”
Walmart Guy: “Yeah, we install them for free.”
Me: “OK, we’ll be there right after lunch.
~ 1:30 p.m. after successfully jumpstarting her car ~
Walmart Guy: “Yeah we don’t have a battery for that year of that model of that car.”
Walmart Guy: “We have it for the year before or after, but technically
the one for this year is different and if we put it in, it might work
but it’ll void your warranty and we can’t do that.”
Me: “I CALLED AN HOUR AGO AND TOLD YOU EXACTLY WHAT MAKE, MODEL AND
YEAR THE CAR IS AND YOU SAID YOU HAD THE BATTERY FOR IT.”
Walmart Guy: “Yeah, we don’t have exactly the right battery for it, it
might fit, but it would void your warranty so we can’t do that.”
Me: storms out muttering words like ‘idiot’ and ‘incompetent’
Other Walmart Guy: “Hey, the book is wrong, that battery is the right
one. I checked on the computer and it shows it’s the right one. I’m
the guy you talked to.”
Other Walmart Guy: “It’ll be 2.5 - 3 hours…”
Other Walmart Guy: “We got busy…”
Walmart Guy: (takes 15 minutes to get VIN and other information
because he clearly has no idea how to use the handheld computer thing)
Walmart Guy: “Ok, now it should be about 3 hours, but I can’t really
guarantee when it will be.”
Me: “Since you took down my phone number, can you call to let me know
when it’s ready?”
Walmart Guy: (cocks his head to the side with the same quizzical look
that my dogs get when they hear a strange noise they can’t identify)
Me: “How about I just call you to check if it’s ready?”
Walmart Guy: “That sounds good.”
~2:00 p.m. finally back at my office~
My Innards: “Bathroom break!”
Me: “I JUST GOT HERE CAN’T YOU WAIT?”
My Innards: “NOPE NOPE NOPE GOTTA GO GOTTA GO GOTTA GO RIGHT NOW RIGHT
NOW RIGHT NOW RIGHT NOW MIGHT WANT TO BRING A BOOK THIS MIGHT TAKE
Me: “Ugh. Gross. Fine.”
Toilet: “Hey! Thanks for stopping by. Someone left me ALL CLOGGED UP.
Hope you don’t mind!”
Me: “Are you shitting me?”
Toilet: “Dude is that really the best expression to use with me?”
TL;DR SUMMARY: IT’S GOING GREAT AND I DON’T REGRET MY DECISION TO GO
BACK TO SCHOOL AT ALL IT WAS DEFINITELY THE SMARTEST DECISION EVER YOU
SHOULD DO IT SOMETIME IF YOU GET THE CHANCE ESPECIALLY IF YOU NEED
MORE THINGS TO BE STRESSED ABOUT IN YOUR LIFE BECAUSE REALLY WHO
DOESN’T NEED THAT.
The coach told one of the better players on the team to keep getting the ball to him, and then kept telling him to shoot.
He scored, turned around, yelled in celebration, and pumped his fist.
We cheered like crazy, and the coach looked over at us with a huge smile on his face. He was clapping like mad too.
From my seat across the court, I gave me coach a thumbs up and a head nod. He did the same back to me.
His son is the star of the team. He probably scored 85% of the points. He could dribble like crazy, was great at rebounding, and could steal an opponent’s pass in the blink of an eye. But at that moment, I think the coach was every bit as proud as I was that The Boy — who, by any objective measure, is probably the worst on the team, but who loved to play — had his moment of glory.
After the game The Boy went up to his coach, hugged him, and asked if he could be on his team next year too.
I’m not sure what happened next because I had something in my eye. Dust or something.
I was leaving the office tonight and there was another couple who had parked in our parking lot. (I’m not sure why, but they had.)
It was just our two cars in the lot… or, I should say, my “car” and then a monstrous gigantic pickup truck (a “Ram 1500” for those of you who know that that means).
I came out of the side door to the building, and I think I surprised them as much as they surprised me. Neither of us expected to see anyone else on our way to the parking lot.
"How are you tonight?" he asked.
"Just fine, thanks," I said. He past my car and went to the passenger side of the gigantic truck.
"Wow," I thought to myself, "he’s going to open the door for her. Chivalry isn’t dead."
I nearly said it aloud to him, but a moment before I did, I realize that she was going around to the driver’s side of the truck.
"Oh," said the a sarcastic, condescending voice in my head, "Apparently gender-based assumptions aren’t dead either."
I hate that voice, but I have to admit he was right. He didn’t go to the passenger side because he was going to open her door, he went to the passenger side because it’s her truck. Either that or it was his truck and she was driving it for some reason. (He didn’t seem drunk or otherwise incapacitated, but I did notice that she seemed to be having trouble figuring out which button to press to unlock his door. which is what led me to think that maybe she was driving his truck.)
On my drive home, there’s a section where three lanes merge into two. It can be a little dangerous because two of the lanes are exiting the highway, and their speed limit is 50MPH and people are often going much faster than that. The third lane (the one I was in) merges in from the left and my speed limit is 40MPH. Less than 100 yards after we merge, there’s an exit ramp on the right that takes you back onto the same highway that the other cars just left.
Usually this isn’t a problem because there’s not a lot of traffic, but it can be if the timing is just wrong.
Tonight it was.
When I merged into the left lane, there was a car behind me. It was matching my speed, and I needed to get over to the right lane for my turn up ahead. There are two traffic lights, and I saw the first one turn red, so I knew we’d both have to stop.
I signaled and moved into the right lane. The other driver immediately moved into the left lane and accelerated — only to realize that the light was red and he had to stop.
When the light turned green he immediately pulled ahead and moved into the right lane. Apparently it was vitally important that he be one car length ahead of where he was.
As we approached the next intersection and traffic light, he realized that the right lane is for right turns only, and moved back over into the left lane. Which is where he would have been in the first place if he hadn’t been driving like an asshole.
I shook my head and laughed at Mr. Toyota mini-truck wannabe, and wondered if his pickup truck was the only undersized thing he was compensating for with his jerktastic driving style.
(Disclaimer: I couldn’t actually see the driver, I just assume it was a guy because he was driving like an asshole. Feel free to assume it was a woman if you want to.)
ps - we filled out our passport renewal information today. The Wife even got her pictures taken. I’m going to wait until Monday when I’ve showered and perhaps shaved. But my form is done!
Looks like soundofthebeep has been dead since ~11:30am on Feb 24th...
Dagnabit. That’s twice this week I’ve accidentally broken it.
I’ve set the file to be ‘unchangeable’ so the only reason that they should go offline now is a Tumblr problem or if my office ISP goes down. Or if I turn off the iMac that the scripts run on.
Please do let me know if you notice one of them is down. Tumblr occasionally screws up one of them but they ought to update no less than every 30 minutes, even if a temporary Tumblr glitch screws up one of the intervals.
Might as well make this a commercial for SoundOfTheBeep (SOTB).
Kitale, Kenya (CNN) — HIV is a curse from God. That’s what Patricia Sawo used to tell others as a church leader in Kitale, Kenya.
"I thought it was a moral issue and a punishment for the disobedient," Sawo remembers.
Then one morning in 1999, Sawo awoke to find her body covered in shingles, a rash commonly associated with HIV. Scared and upset, she cried in the bathroom for two hours. A test soon confirmed her fears: She was HIV-positive.
It’s a good story. You should read the rest. Important to note, I think, that this happened in 1999 and she’s been working since then to help others with HIV since then, which is good news for a lot of reasons, two of which include the fact that she has a powerful “conversion” story to tell, and that she has survived living with HIV in Kenya for 12 years.
If we don’t allow for people to realize that they were wrong and work to make amends, we harden the idea that changing your mind is a sign of weakness, instead of a sign of maturity and strength.
"JOSHUA ALLEN RATES EVERYTHING EVER ON A SCALE FROM ONE TO TEN SEXY LADIES"
Dear Joshua Allen:
Please stop ruining everything else on the Internet by being so damn awesome.
ps - suggestion: shouldn’t at least one, and preferably no less than three, of the sexy ladies be naked? And a redhead? Not Julianne Moore. Ok, Julianne Moore too, but also another one we haven’t seen before.
You know how sometimes you think “Well maybe I could get a degree as a
therapist” because that’s something that people will always need and
it’s good to branch out and have diversified skills?
First of all, a) if you ever think about going back to school (again)
I will punch you in the crotch until it turns into an ‘innie’ because,
really, how much schooling does one person need before it’s time to
just get over it already?
Secondly, b) that conversation that you had tonight? That would be
your Every Day Reality. And often, much, much worse.
Finally, c) you are an idiot for ever thinking about this, but I hope
it’s gone for good. Now get home, see the kid for a bit before he goes
to bed, and then pour yourself a big glass of Makers, Ginger Ale, and
Mix to ensure good granola-to-chocolate-chip-ratio
Carefully add just enough milk so that the top layer of granola won’t be saturated but will be lowered into the milk as you scoop out the granola on the bottom with the spoon
Put milk back in fridge even though your spouse isn’t here to see you remember
Close up chocolate chip bag and stick it in the granola box, because, really, who are we kidding here, it’s not like I ever eat granola without adding chocolate chips
Take 2 steps back to your room
Eat a spoonful of cereal
Walk back to kitchen sink
Open mouth, allowing cereal to fall from your mouth into the sink (be sure to use the side that has the disposal!)
Confirm that yes the milk is very expired
Pour milk down sink
Pour cereal down sink
Pour a glass of chocolate milk instead
(Step 16 will take place in an hour when I realize that I’m hungry and wonder why and then remember that I didn’t actually eat anything because it was too gross after a mouthful of spoiled-milk-cereal to think about eating.)
BTW - the chocolate milk expires on the same day my thesis draft is due. Anyone want to take bets which I finish first?
I emailed my thesis advisor to find out when on March 1st she wants my paper. Her reply?
March first anytime—and if it arrives March 2 or 3 that is fine too.
Is it wrong to want to deep tongue kiss your advisor? Totally platonically of course.
(I’m still planning to aim for 11:59 pm on 3/1 because I want this thing out as bad as Swayingdawn or SarkasticKunt want(ed) their babies out. Except mine doesn’t make me have to pee all the time. Well, except for the diet coke. Otherwise it’s totally the same. Totally.)
“For years I dreamed of having the sort of massive oak slab that would dominate a room - no more child’s desk in a trailer laundry-closet, no more cramped kneehole in a rental house. In 1981, I got the one I wanted and placed it in the middle of a spacious, skylighted study (it’s a converted stable loft at the rear of the house). For six years I sat behind that desk either drunk or wrecked out of my mind, like a ship’s captain in charge of a voyage to nowhere.
A year or two after I sobered up, I got rid of that monstrosity and put in a living-room suite where it had been, picking out the pieces and a nice Turkish rug with my wife’s help. In the early nineties, before they moved on to their own lives, my kids sometimes came up in the evening to watch a basketball game or a movie and eat pizza. They usually left a boxful of crusts behind when they moved on, but I didn’t care. They came, they seemed to enjoy being with me, and I know I enjoyed being with them. I got another desk - it’s handmade, beautiful, and half the size of the T. rex desk. I put it at the far west end of the office, in a corner under the eave. That eave is very like the one I slept under in Durham, but there are no rats in the walls and no senile grandmother downstairs yelling for someone to feed Dick the horse. I’m sitting under it now, a fifty-three-year-old man with bad eyes, a gimp leg, and no hangover. I’m doing what I know how to do, and as well as I know how to do it. I came through all the stuff I told you about (and plenty more that I didn’t), and now I’m going to tell you as much as I can about the job. As promised, it won’t take long.
It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”
~ Stephen King, On Writing
I love that book and that quote. I listened to that book via Audible several years ago, and it’s fascinating. First of all, it’s Stephen King talking about writing, but about half of the book is auto-biography, and the other half “instruction” — although most of the “instruction” takes place like this, with a healthy dose of auto-biography mixed in.
One of the most interesting parts of the book was that he was writing it when he was hit by the van that nearly killed him. In fact there’s a point in the book where he says “I got to this point before the accident, and everything that follows came after it.”
If you care anything about the written word, I’d recommend the book, even if you aren’t a huge Stephen King fan. I’m usually not much of a biography fan, but he does it very well.
I just finished my dinner a Subway (shut up it was delicious) and Steve Winwood came on the radio. Suddenly I’m 16 years old and working as a busboy at a local restaurant, and I’ve just started. I’m not very good at it yet but it’s a job, and the guy I’ve worked with for most of my first two weeks is pretty cool and helps me clean up at the end of the night more than he should. He wants to get home, I know, but he’s also just a nice guy.
Then one day I come in and find out he’s dead. Killed in a car accident. Beer can found between his legs. And I was crushed, not because we were great friends, but because he was a decent guy who had just been dumped and I wonder if that’s what led him to drink and drive and how can anyone be so stupid but mostly I’m just sad but no one really understands why because I didn’t know him that well.
I was in a haze over his death for weeks.
Now it occurs to me that I can’t even remember his name. But every time I hear Steve Winwood I think of him because there was a song of his on the radio all the time and it came on every night when we were mopping the floors after closing.
Recently I started following a few dirty (NSFW, if you will) Tumblrs and it has done wonders for me. First, there are the beautiful, serendipitous, lady parts that show up on my dashboard throughout the day. A very welcome interruption.
Secondly, because of said ladyparts, I’m more hesitant to check Tumblr at my desk, and thus more productive during the day.
Oooh… good idea.
I may have to do this.
Not because I want to, of course, but because it’ll be good for me.
My office is downtown — well, as much as there is a “downtown” here — and we occasionally get people who stop in looking for “help.”
More often we get people who call looking for help. They are going through the phone book, trying one after another. We have a small fund in our annual budget for “emergency needs” but we generally don’t tell anyone about it. One person calls and needs help with their gas or water bill, and you help them, and suddenly you’re getting 3 or 4 calls a day. There are some people who can smell money a mile away, and they’re all too willing to tell a story to get something for free.
But there are plenty of others who really need help. After 12 years, it’s usually pretty easy to tell the difference, especially in person. That’s another reason I tend to turn more people down over the phone; you can’t see their shoulders, their eyes, their hands. You can’t see how they carry themselves. That’s much harder to fake. Most people who are out to con you spend their time working on their story. Stories are easy to fake. Demeanor isn’t.
I always know when someone is here looking for help, because the same sentence is always used:
"There’s someone here who would like to see you…"
If the secretary, who has been here for more than 25 years, knew who it was, she’d use his name. Most often it’s men who come in. Men with rough hands and soiled clothes. They make her nervous. She doesn’t ask for their names, partly because it seems impolite, and partly because she doesn’t want to know. She stays behind her desk, picks up the phone, and pushes the button to sound the intercom in my office, and says “There’s someone here who would like to see you.”
On the rare occasions when I have an appointment with someone she doesn’t know, someone who will come in well dressed and clean, they’ll chat for a few moments, and when she pushes the button I can almost hear her smile. “There’s someone here to see you,” she’ll say.
"Who would like" marks you as a stranger.
"There’s someone here who would like to see you…” is someone looking for money.
"There’s someone here to see you…" is an appointment.
I wonder if she even notices that she says it differently. I doubt it.
The man today came to the wrong door. The door near my office instead of the secretary’s. The door we almost never use, and only use for going out not for coming in. The door where no one would have even seen him, except that someone happened to be in the hall when he came to the door.
"There’s someone here who would like to see you," she said.
I went out and greeted him. He was wearing too many layers for the warm day that it had turned out to be. The knit cap on his head was pulled down too far, and I immediately wondered if it was meant to cover his hair more than keep him warm. He put down the two bags he was carrying, and extended his hand. I shook it, because a man shakes another man’s hand when offered. There are some things you just do. He may not have clean clothes, and I could already tell it had been too long since he’d had a shower, but he still had the dignity of a handshake. Besides, you can tell a lot from a handshake. Like demeanor, it’s hard to fake a sincere handshake. Those who are trying to impress you and pretend that you are close friends will grab and shake like they’re trying to get water from a well. This is common both to people who think that you might have some money that you’d be willing to give them if they have a good story, and to politicians. Hrm.
His handshake wasn’t fake. He shook my hand, looked in my eye, and told me his name. I told him mine. His hands told me that he was used to working hard. They were older than the rest of his body, older even than the deep lines on his face he was too young to have. His body has been through a lot of life, hard life. This isn’t wistful poeticism, it’s clear as a summer sky. There’s sadness in his eyes, and pain. A father who beat him or mother who left him or a marriage too young that failed or one of a thousand other heartbreaks, one of them was there, one of them was there, deeper than all of the others.
"Can we go in there?" he asked, nodding to the office I had come from.
"Of course," I said, and came in to clear a place for him. There’s a box from the printer I unpacked the other day, my coat and laptop bag on the other chair, and the leftover stuffed white teddy bears that we gave away for Valentine’s Day.
"I don’t know if you do this," he said, and now his eyes were looking away. This is the hardest part, the part where he has to ask a complete stranger for help. What little dignity he had left was in his handshake, and now he’s afraid he’ll lose even that. He doesn’t want to ask. Asking is worse than getting turned down. Asking questions his manhood, that underlying belief that he really ought to be able to take care of himself. "What’s wrong with you that you’re now sitting here, asking for a hand out?" a voice inside his own head asks him. Maybe it’s his father’s voice. Maybe it’s his mother’s. It may just be his own… somehow that’s the hardest of all. Whoever else he may have disappointed and whoever else may have disappointed him, now he’s disappointed himself. He tries to hide this by looking away when he starts to ask.
"I’m starting a job on Monday, and I came down from [the next county over] early to see if I could start work early, but he said he can’t use me until Monday." If I was starting a new job in a few days, how would I be spending my last days of ‘freedom’? Probably trying to do as little as possible, to enjoy it as much as I could. He’s trying to start early. "I’m going to be working at the sawmill," he continues. He names the job that he’ll have, a job I’ve never heard of, because what do I know of sawmills? But the name of his job gives him some strength back, and he’s looking me in the eye again. I’m trying his eyes say I’m trying my best and I’m stuck and I need help and I have a job and I’m willing to work, I just… I’m stuck…
"That’s fifteen dollars an hour… I came down here too early, is all… I was just so… it’s been so hard to find work," he’s answering a question I haven’t asked. "I don’t have any family—" he looks away for a split-second, then back, then away "and I’ve slept outside a couple of nights…"
It’s been in 30ºs here in the mornings. We’ve talked about how cold the car is, but the car is 10-15º warmer than outside because it’s been in the garage.
"…I just didn’t know if you might be able to help me get a hotel room for a couple of nights…"
Now my mind starts to process. He doesn’t start work until Monday, he’s going to need at least until then, what’s he going to do after that? Even at $15 an hour, he won’t get paid on Monday, he’ll have to wait for payday, whenever that is. And it’s February. Our budget runs July-June, and I’m not sure how much is left in it… Then I realize that he’s not asking me to solve all of his problems, he’s asking me to solve this one. He needs a place to sleep. He needs a shower and a bed and not to have to worry about the cops giving him a hard time about sleeping outside. He needs to know whether I can help or whether he’s going to have to do this again in front of another stranger.
"I think we can help," I tell him. "There’s a place up the street, it’s nothing fancy, but—"
He interrupts, not out of rudeness, but out of gratitude: “All I need is a bed, that’ll be fine, really.”
I take out a piece of paper, thinking I may need to write a note to send with him. I look up the phone number, and dial it. The man who answers speak very poor English. I explain who I am, and where I am calling from, and why. I repeat each of these several times after he repeats them back to me and gets each of the wrong, or if I just can’t understand what he’s saying.
I pull the phone away, and say to my visitor, “Do you have ID?”
"Yes," he says and reaches for it, but I shake my head.
"I don’t need to see it, but they will," and go back on the phone. I give them his name, and tell them to send the bill to me. I give him the address three times. We’re less than a mile away from him, and I’ve spoken to him several times before, but he sounds as if he’s completely confused. I’m afraid that he’ll get some of the details wrong, and this man will get there only to be told that they can’t give him a room. I repeat myself again, spelling each word of my name, and the address, and then the phone number. I tell them that we’ll pay through Sunday night, although I’m still not sure what he’ll do after that. Four nights. He’ll be OK for the next four nights. That will get him to his job. That will get him between where he is now and where he’s hoping to be then. I’m not sure if there’s enough in the budget to cover four nights, but if there isn’t, well, we’ll deal with that some other way.
Finally the details seem clear enough to the man on the other end of the phone, and I hang up.
"Ok," I say, "You’re all set through Sunday night." He’s heard all of this already, so there was no need for me to repeat myself.
"Do you want me to sign something that I’ll pay you back?" He saw the paper that I took out and thought I was going to write up a contract. All that’s written on it is $40.00 with the cents underlined. I hadn’t taken any notes while on the phone with the hotel, because I was spending all my time repeating myself.
"We have a fund here that people give to," I explain, "and it’s meant to help folks who are in need. I don’t expect you to pay it back."
Don’t lend books and don’t lend money. A few years ago I loaned someone $200. Not from a budget, from me. He promised he’d pay us back. I knew he never would, but letting him say it led part of me to think of it as a loan instead of a gift, and resent the fact that he never did pay me back. In fact he called again a few months, maybe a year later, telling me a story about his daughter accidentally swallowing poison and being taken down to the hospital an hour away and he needed money to go see her. The second-worst part was knowing that he was lying to me. The worst part was that he was using his daughter. I offered him a ride, I offered to put gas in his car, but he wanted money. I worried that night that he might come out to the house, maybe with a baseball bat, maybe with a gun. I worried that he might break in during the day when no one was around. Some months later he ended up in jail again before he ended up rehab again. I’m not sure which he’s in right now, or maybe he’s out. For awhile. But he taught me not to give anything away that you can’t afford to lose.
"Use your pay to help get yourself back on your feet and take care of yourself." Better to make it a gift, something to be happy about, rather than call it a loan. Maybe he would have paid it back. Maybe he’d be the one. But come Monday he’s still going to need a place to stay and food to eat. He’s trying to dig himself out, charging him for the shovel isn’t going to help.
"Well that’s a first," he says. "Thank you."
"You’re welcome. It’s not my money, it came from others who gave it to help people in need because they know what it’s like to need help." I’m not sure why, but I always make sure to include this part. It’s my standard line. It’s polished and clean. I’m the administrator here, not the benefactor. I’m distancing myself from it, although there’s no real reason to. He doesn’t care. The people who gave don’t care. Still, I say it.
"Yeah, but you’re the one who sat down with me," he says, not letting me get away without hearing him say thank you.
We shake hands again, and his bags are back on his shoulder, and he’s heading back out the door he came in. We’re back out in the hall now.
"Does he have money for food?" the woman who let him in asks me in a whisper.
He’s heard something, and paused at the door, turning back towards us.
"Do you have money for food?" she asks him.
"I… thank you… I’ll be fine," he says. I want to make him stop, I want to ask him what he means. Does he just not want to impose? Maybe he has a little money, just not enough for both food and a place to stay. If this was a scheme, he’d be glad to take a little more. But he’s trying to leave, and he says he’s OK. It’s been hard to ask for this much, and he left with more than he expected to, but nevertheless it pained him to have to ask, and when he gets back outside and closes the door he can be done with the painful part, and if he has to scrounge for food or live on just what little he has for the next few days, it will be OK as long as he can just get out of the place where he had to ask for help. So I let him go.
But all I can think of now is whether or not he has anything to eat. I think about what it would be like to be walking in his shoes. What would it be like to have to ask for that help and what did he mean when he said he didn’t have any family and how did it all come to his in the first place and all these questions and more. I walk to the secretary’s office and tell her that there will be a bill coming, and what it will be for.
When I get back to my office I notice the smell I hadn’t noticed before, heavy in the air of someone who hasn’t showered and who has been living on the streets. I look around and see the candle on the shelf that hasn’t been lit in more months than I can remember. I go and get the box of matches we use to light the candles and I bring it back to my office. I sit in my chair and set the candle on my desk.
I strike the match on the side of the box, light the candle, and say a prayer.
Customer First Name : TJ
Customer Last Name : Luoma
Web Order # : MGQMM7JYY7
Support Subject : This movie never finished downloading
Sub Issue : Incomplete download
Platform : iTunes/10.1.2 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.6.6)
Video Name : Top Gun
I wanted to watch this Monday night, but it never finished downloading. I
tried from two different Macs and it stopped at 408mb both times. I would
like a refund.
Part Two: They tell me I can still download it
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2011 18:30:38 +0000 (GMT)
From: iTunes Store iTunesStoreSupport@apple.com
Subject: Re: This movie never finished downloading
I’m sorry to hear that your purchase didn’t download successfully. It looks like the content is still posted to your account and awaiting download, so you should be able to restart the download by following these steps:
Note: Installing the latest version of iTunes will not affect your library or any items in your account that you haven’t downloaded.
2) Open iTunes. From the Store menu at the top, choose Check for Available Downloads. If you’re unable to upgrade and are using iTunes 7, the option will say Check for Purchases. You can also click this link to do the same thing: https://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZFinance.woa/wa/checkForPurchases
3) If prompted, enter your Apple ID and password, then click Check.
The missing item should begin downloading and appear in your Purchased playlist. If you receive an error message while downloading, try again after turning off any firewall or web-accelerator software that you may have installed.=20
If your purchase does not download successfully after you’ve followed these instructions, reply to this email and I’ll have the issue investigated for you. In your reply, please include:
The name of your Internet service provider (ISP)
The type of Internet connection (such as dial-up, cable modem, or DSL)
From: iTunes Store iTunesStoreSupport@apple.com
Subject: Re: This movie never finished downloading; Follow-up: 139648931
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2011 14:08:39 -0800 (PST)
Welcome to iTunes Support, my name is Alisa. I hope your day is going well.
I understand you I don’t want “Top Gun” anymore. Please accept my apologies for the frustration this download has caused. I know you would like to get this resolve as soon as possible. I will be happy to assist you with this issue.
Great news! I was able to reversed the charges for “Top Gun”. In three to five business days, a credit of $2.99 should be posted to the credit card that appears on the receipt for that purchase.
I hope you will continue being apart of our iTunes family. Enjoy the rest of your day TJ!