The Blob

There exists a particular chain of convenience stores in the western part of Texas that makes a beef and bean burrito that I can’t get enough of. That and their own taco sauce to top off the wonderful burrito. I know, I know. Gas station food is awful. But I live on gas station food and I’ve learned what’s good and bad. So stuff it.

I was standing in line patiently waiting for the chance to pay for my two beef and bean burritos, that’s right, two, and then and incident occurred.

I felt something brush against my back. That’s a lie, something pushed up against my back hard enough to force me to take a step forward. I turned around to see what it was and was shocked.

A man of epic proportions had “nudged” his way past me. Allow me to paint a picture.

This man was extremely obese. Gym shorts. Flip flops. A very large shirt that still didn’t cover his stomach hanging below it. Long, greasy hair. Some kind of body odor that I’ve never had the misfortune of introducing to my nostrils before.

Now, I don’t have a problem with people based on their size. A lot of people have thyroid issues, addictions, maybe something passed down through the family, or any one of a myriad of perfectly legitimate reasons for being the size of Moby Dick.

What I DO have a problem with is people who are the size of Moby Dick, don’t keep up with basic hygiene, and push people out of their way with their stomach without at least a short apology.

Adding to my frustration, this guy shows up in line with a 3-liter of Coke, 2 family-sized bags of chips, several different kinds of candy, and a bag of beef jerky. The part that really got me was that he paid for all of this with food stamps. (I know this because I stayed in the store to eat since I was working on their pumps). The food stamps thing is a whole topic for another time.

I don’t really have any way to end this. Or any kind of moral to add to the story. But it frustrated me and caught me off guard and I needed to get it off my chest. So there you have it. I was attacked by the blob, and I’m a victim/survivor.

Stay classy, and I’ll see you at the next stop.

The Karen: Evolution

I’ve recently posted about a certain type of woman. The name I gave this woman is Karen. The name is a catchall for the women who think they are better than the average person and treat those people as such, for absolutely no reason. Karen has an average job, an average car, ill-behaved children, a let-me-speak-to-your-manager haircut, can’t get through the day without Starbucks before work and at lunch, and goes to church every Sunday just to show everyone there that she showed up. Karen is no better than anyone else, but likes to pretend she is even though she is the same as your average human being. This is a story about an evolved form of Karen: Sharon.

Sharon is a name we are going to give to the Karens of the world who, instead of treating people like garbage for no reason, do so because they actually are of a higher stature than the rest of us. Sharon has the let-me-speak-to-your-manager-so-I-can-get-you-fired haircut, drives a luxury SUV that is way too big for her, has very spoiled children who get everything they want, doesn’t have a real job but makes turquoise jewelry to sell at local markets, gives back to the community by writing a check, knows all the local politicians but doesn’t actually know anything about politics, and wouldn’t be caught dead in a Starbucks even if her cappuccino machine at home was broken.

The easiest way to spot a Sharon is by her bracelets. All of them are shiny, all of them are too big, none of them actually go together, and they are the loudest bracelets on the face of the planet.

I had the misfortune of meeting a Sharon around 4 o’clock this morning. I was just wrapping up a site and was inside the store when Sharon walked in.

Gas stations that are open 24/7 are not usually the kind of please you want to be. Sharon is the last person who wants to be there.

Sharon had been driving her Audi Q7 for the last few hours on her way to a Mary Kay sales convention and needed to use the restroom. The clerk directed her to the restroom in the corner of the store. About 2 seconds after the restroom door closed it opened right back up again and Sharon stormed to the counter.

How could that clerk expect her to use such a terrible facility?! Not only is it unisex, but it was filthy. Clearly some man has sprayed his DNA all over the place and she would be calling the district manager to let him know how she was being treated.

I was the last person in that restroom, it was spotless before and after I used it. Very clean, smelled good, and was fairly spacious. So I don’t know what the hell Sharon was talking about, and seeing as how the clerk was the one who cleaned it, he was as perplexed as I.

Not only did Sharon display her disgust at such treatment, but she exclaimed that she will never visit one of these gas stations again. As she walked out the door she could be heard muttering that she should have just flown to her conference.

Good riddance.

Karens are awful people to deal with. Sharons are worse. I have dealt with many Karens and Sharons in my day. This particular Sharon was on the tame side. I’m sure it won’t be long before I get to experience another. Can’t wait.

Stay classy, and I’ll see you at the next stop.

The Tourists

Traveling for work means dealing with tourists on the road. Sooooo many tourists. Young and old, every time of day or night, every day of the week. It’s as if no one goes to school, has a job, a life. Or everyone I come across is super rich and has no need for any of that.

I end up traveling down a lot of 2-lane roads when I drive. Lots of curves, no room to pass, low speed limits, and tourists. There is no frustration greater than being stuck behind a tourist going 5 or 10 miles under the speed limit when you can’t pass them. The reason they drive so slow seems to be so they can look out every window except the windshield to take in the scenery, completely unaware of anyone around them. Or they don’t care.

This is something that happens several times a day. This is something that happens regardless of location. This is something that happens no matter what time it is. This is something that happens even if I beg God to run either me or the tourists off the road.

These same tourists don’t appear to have ever eaten in any restaurant anywhere, ever. They don’t understand pictures, lines, how to order food, how to be polite to those in front of or behind them, or that they are the only ones who are not under a time-constraint.

My favorite tourists are the ones who stop in doorways to chat to the other tourists whether they know them or not. These same tourists also don’t know how to park, but I don’t have to patience to get into that right this second.

I love traveling and looking at the scenery of new places I’ve never explored. I do the speed limit, or more, I use the mirrors in the vehicle, I pull over safely to allow others to pass me so I can stop and look around. I order quickly when in a line and I don’t stand in doorways to talk about the fucking roadrunner I saw run across the road last week. We get it. It was a roadrunner. It ran. It ran across the road. Get out of my way, Dr. Seuss, I have things to do.

If you’re reading this and you are not a tourist, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re reading this and you ARE a tourist, I absolutely mean no disrespect. But that means you should be respectful as well. Be mindful of those around you on the road, in restaurants, in doorways, and in parking lots instead of parking so close to my vehicle that you don’t know how to get out of your car so you stare at me until I move because you screwed up and don’t understand how to back up and park again without taking 20 minutes to get the car in gear.

Stay classy, and I’ll see you at the next stop.

The Know-It-All

I like to think of myself as a fairly intelligent guy. I can be a bit pretentious and cocky as well. One think I don’t do is talk down to people just because I have a small inclination of an idea of what they are talking about.

As I sat at a Starbucks the other day, I had the chance to eavesdrop on a conversation at the table next to mine. This story involves 3 people: a Catholic priest, a 19 or 20 year old girl who happened to be Catholic, and the fiance of the girl. The 3 were having some kind of session regarding the upcoming marriage and how it works in the Catholic church. Several other topics were brought up as tangents during the conversation. Throughout all of this, the girl kept saying she knew this or that already, because she was Catholic. She was clearly showing off to her fiance and the priest and they both appeared to be put down whenever she said it, which was often.

First of all, this girl is about to get married. Probably not a good idea to put down the guy you’re about to spend the rest of your life with, especially since he seems to be converting to Catholicism for you. Secondly, don’t put down the priest, your own personal conduit with God.

The priest kept pressing on. He kept saying, “Well, yes, but…” every time the girl opened her mouth to try to expound on his points, only to be interrupted again. Her poor fiance just kept nodding his head and throwing out a few questions now and then.

This girl was also very loud, and seeing as there was nowhere I could move to get away from the conversation, I was growing more and more frustrated. I was trying to put out more posts for you guys and this girl is teaching everyone in Starbucks that she knows things because she’s Catholic. There are a few problems with that. If you’re sitting down with a priest to discuss upcoming marriage arrangements, you need to show some respect to him and those around you. If you have to tell everyone how much you know, you probably don’t know that much to begin with. And pardon my French, but if you think you know more than an ordained priest in the religion of Catholicism just because you are Catholic, then you can Catho-lick my balls. You’re wrong in every way, you’re obnoxious, and you’re incredibly lucky to find a man who can not only put up with how loud and annoying you are, but who will spend the rest of his life with you.

That’s really all I have to say about that.

Stay classy, and I’ll see you at the next stop.

The Production Line

Being on the road as much as I am, I eat out for 99% of my meals. Because of some of the remote locations I go to, this means McDonald’s. A lot. I understand that dining at such a fine establishment does not bring with it the highest of expectations. However, I have a few issues.

Issue #1:

I showed up to a McDonald’s and ordered a McChicken sandwich, with pickles. I also ordered a Hamburger. Both of these items are on the Dollar Menu and, again, I should not have expected the fanciest of cuisine.

I unwrapped my McChicken. A pickle had fallen out, no big deal, down the hatch.

I unwrapped my Hamburger. I realize that ordering such an item from McDonald’s, off the Dollar Menu no less, shouldn’t get my hopes up. I don’t know about you, but when I think of a hamburger, even the most basic of hamburgers, I imagine the bun, some lettuce, tomato, some kind of condiment, onions, and the patty. Most places seem to use mustard as the condiment, so when I ordered, I asked them to sub mayo instead of mustard and made sure they put pickles on it.

Behold, my “Hamburger.” The pickles were ON TOP OF THE BUN. All of the lettuce was in the wrapper, none of it on the burger. The patty was in the bun, held in place by an obscenely large amount of mayo. By obscenely large, I mean enough for the patty and myself to go swimming in. It was spilling over the sides of the bun. It covered the pickles and turned it all into a disgusting, congealed mass of green and white. There were a few finely minced onions on the patty, the rest were in the mayo orgy. The top bun, the one with the pickles on it, was completely off the patty. No tomatoes or lettuce. The burger consisted of a patty, pickles, and onions.

I was aware that for so cheap of a price I would be able to participate in the building of my own burger. Especially since they refused to remake it for me.

Issue #2:

I know McDonald’s employees probably don’t get paid much, don’t have many incentives, and are only there for an easy paycheck. Hence the quality craftsmanship of my aforementioned meal. I have never seen worse attitudes from managers and employees than I have at McDonald’s. Every McDonald’s I’ve been to, not just the one.

If I bring back something and kindly ask for it to be remade or to just have my money back because it looked like the Hulk had an anger issue with my burger during an earthquake, then I don’t need to hear that you don’t see anything wrong with it. Or that you can’t remake it. Or that you can’t refund my money.

I understand that I’m sacrificing quality for price at such an establishment, but come on. At least be nice about it. And don’t laugh about it when I turn my back to leave the counter. Go reprimand the line cook. Anything.

Issue #3:

After such an experience, and on a hot day, I figured I’d treat myself to a shake or an ice cream cone or something of that nature. Remember, McDonald’s was the only place in town, I couldn’t go somewhere else for a tasty treat.

I ordered my ice cream cone. But guess what, and I know all of you know what I was told. Everyone together now: OUR ICE CREAM MACHINE IS DOWN.

Of course it is. I can’t remember a single McDonald’s anywhere that I’ve been to in the last 4 years that could serve ice cream because the machine was down. All of you have experienced this. It doesn’t matter which location you go to or what time of day or night you go, the machine is down.

After some research, I discovered that this is because the ice cream machine they use puts itself through a rigorous self-cleaning operation that takes several hours. Completely understandable. So get 2 and alternate them. Or set the time that it cleans itself every day and put hours up that ice cream is not available. Are you telling me the multi-billion dollar company can’t afford to figure this out? Hire me. I’ll clean the damned machines myself if I can get some ice cream once a year. I bet I can do it faster.

These issues make me dread going to any McDonald’s. But when you’re starving and it’s the only place for a hundred miles, what are you going to do? Get your shit together, Ronald McDonald. Your Golden Arches are fool’s gold and no one is loving it.

Stay classy, and I’ll see you at the next stop.

The J’Accuse!

I’m not sure why I haven’t written about this yet. It should have been one of the first posts I wrote. Basically, I did my job, did a good deed for the day, got spit on, and didn’t kill anyone.

Let’s dive in.

Gallup, NM. The dead of winter. Strong wind, snow, 6 degrees, and hard work. I have 4-foot manhole covers open, large orange cones everywhere, I’m a large guy in a bright orange work shirt, jacket, and safety vest. All fuel dispensers are bagged off in bright yellow caution bags that say “OUT OF SERVICE.”

Enter Karen. I’m using the name Karen because everyone knows a Karen, and knows that Karen is a terrible person. Karen drives a white 2016 Honda Civic. Karen has a “let me speak to your manager” haircut. Karen is roughly 65 years old. Karen hates the world, specifically, hard workers named Michael.

Michael, the hero of our story, is diligently working in terrible weather and trying to stay positive. All of a sudden, a white 2016 Honda Civic speeds through a section of large orange cones that are surrounding 4-foot manholes.

Any vehicle, especially small, white 2o16 Honda Civics, don’t do well when driven through 4-foot manhole covers. In fact, they do so poorly that they can even get a flat tire.

Karen now has a flat tire.

This is very clearly my fault, as my large, brightly-clothed frame and large orange cones don’t scream “DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH HERE, YOU MORON.”

Karen decides that the only way to diffuse and correct this situation is to get out and yell at Michael. “You don’t have the right to shut down a whole gas station! I’m on empty, and now I have a flat tire! I want your name, company name and phone number, and your boss’s name!! I’m going to call and report this!”

Naturally, Michael gives her all the information she wants, knowing full well that this is entirely her fault. The cones, cameras, and witnesses were proof enough.

In an effort to calm Karen down, Michael offers to change her tire for her and apologized for the travesty she has experienced, because Michael is a nice fucking guy. Changing a tire is easy enough, but still a frustrating task. Added insults and rants from bitchy old women like Karen don’t help.

The tire is changed, all is well, and Karen is back in her white 2016 Honda Civic without so much as a “thanks.” The store employees and manager even come out to offer help and ask what happened. Karen very eagerly explains in full detail what transpired and why she is so upset. The store employees and manager, who witnessed everything from inside the store, have been on the side of our hero from the beginning and just shake their heads in disbelief.

Karen, either exhausted from this catastrophe she has experienced or anxious to berate some other poor human being at another location, decides it’s time to race off and test that new tire.

Our favorite 65 year old degenerate circles back around the fuel pumps to find an exit and pulls back around next to me as I’m kneeling down besides a 4-foot manhole to yell at me one last time and remind me that I must not know who she is, she can’t wait to call my office first thing Monday morning, and that she’s glad she doesn’t to do such a lowly job and work with the likes of me.

Then, the climax of our story occurs. Karen musters up a tiny bit of spit from her dusty, wrinkly old mouth, and launches it right into the side of my head.

Michael, the super heroic and hard-working man that he is, is ready to lose his shit. This is the first job of the day, he hates the cold and snow, New Mexico is one of his least-favorite states, and he has a low tolerance for rudeness, especially since he almost always respects his elders.

Karen speeds off immediately after her display of emotion, never to be seen again. The store manager watches this go down and comes back out to see if Michael is okay after what Karen did.

Honestly, this is a fairly normal day in Michael’s life. People are rude, have bad days, want to take frustration out on the guy messing up their routine, and are usually not awful people. Michael drinks a coffee and goes on about his day, and cut it a couple hours short to find a hotel.

Don’t be like Karen.

Stay classy, and I’ll see you at the next stop.