About:Blank

Years ago when I was a teenager, my mom, my brother and I went to Cody for groceries.  I think I was 16 or 17, so my brother would have been 10 or 11 at the time, and he was just beginning what would be a freakish growth spurt.  We were in our 1968 VW Beetle, it was summer, we had the wind in our hair, and life was good.

When we got to Cody a bee (or a wasp) flew in the car and after much flailing and shrieking, my brother killed it on the floor in the back seat.  We got our groceries, ran some errands, got a snack and headed back to Meeteetse.  For some reason, my brother decided to take off his shoes and socks.

At some point on the way home, I heard an ear splitting shriek from the back seat and then my brother started screaming, “GET IT OUT! GET IT OUT!”  He crammed his abnormally large foot in my mom’s face, which caused her to almost roll the car. 

“I’m driving,” she said, swatting his foot out of her face.

So he floundered around, still screaming, “GET IT OUT! GET IT OUT!” and stuck his foot in my face.

“I’m not touching it.  Mom’s the EMT.  Make her get it out,” I said, hardly taking my nose out of the Tiger Beat magazine I was reading.

We pulled over, my mom scrapped the bee (or wasp) out of his foot, chastised him for taking his shoes and socks off AFTER he killed a bee (or wasp) on the floor, and we went on our merry way.  Yeah, my brother sobbed in the back for a while, but I turned up the 8-Track tape player and we couldn’t hear him.

What does this story have to do with About: Blank?  Apparently, my computer has this browser hijacking crap on it and I have tried everything to get rid of it.  I’m to the point of sticking it in someone’s face and shrieking, “GET IT OUT! GET IT OUT!” 

Any suggestions on getting rid of it, or is it time for a new computer?

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Fabulous News

No, I didn’t win the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.  Ed McMahon didn’t show up on my doorstep with a big check, which is good since he’s dead, but it’s nearly that good.

My brother is back from Afghanistan!! 

When I got the news tears of joy leaked from my eyes.  Only military families understand the constant worry, stress and unease that permeates every bit of your life when a loved one is in harm’s way.  When they return, it’s like a huge weight has been lifted and only then do you realize you’ve been holding your breath for years just waiting for bad news:  killed in the line of duty, AWOL, missing in action, went crazy, killed everybody in sight and set their corpses on fire.  You just never know.

Of course, he laughs and says it’s boring as hell in the war zone.  I think he lies to keep my mom and I from losing our minds.  The best lie was the one he told to his barely-English-speaking wife when he was in Iraq:  “I’m just checking cars.”  She envisioned him kicking tires on a used car lot.  When I realized  he was checking cars for bombs and bombers in the style of ‘The Hurt Locker’ I went to my knees.    

He said it took “about an hour, two luffas, half a bottle of body wash, two razors, and a little bit of bleach” to get the stench of Afghanistan off him.  Apparently the military doesn’t provide those things.  I’m overjoyed he’s back safe and uninjured, which wasn’t the case when he returned from Iraq.

It’s been more than two years since I saw my brother and I can’t wait until he makes it up here for a visit in a couple of weeks.  I always try to pry war stories out of him, but he pokes me, and says, “If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you” and he laughs.  Somehow, even though he’s the funniest person I’ve ever met,  I don’t think he’s joking.

2nd Place

I entered the story below in the Blogapolloza contest on Waiters Today and I won 2nd place…$250.  Many thanks for voting for me!  I’m using the money to buy a Kindle and get my son’s dog, Arlo, neutered.  I’m excited about the Kindle, Arlo isn’t so excited about the ball chopping.

Anyway…just as the people in my story behaved badly when faced with a special gift, some of the members of Waiters Today showed their ridiculous sides when offered cash prizes.  One guy cheated by hiring a company to get Facebook “likes” for him…I’m not sure what that means, but he had around 50 page views and 1000 “likes”.  So he was disqualified.  He defended himself by saying he was “driven” to win.  I didn’t realize “driven” was synonymous with “cheater”.  Then the insults and threats started flying and before you could say “Sore Loser” all the trolls revealed themselves. 

It’s nice to know that wherever you go on the internet, people stay the same when they are protected by anonymity. 

The Cowboy Christmas Party

Published on Waiters Today on 5/3/12

Christmas parties are a drag.  In my experience, a Christmas party is two or three hours trapped at a table trying to make polite conversation with people I avoid at work .  I’ve attended parties where my fervent wish was to choke on a chicken bone so EMS could rescue me from the misery of forced cheer. 

I viewed the Cowboy Christmas Party with the same anxiety and dread.  I knew there was going to be a dinner, an open bar, a gift exchange and some games.  Mind you, the only games I wanted to play with the majority of my coworkers were the kinds of games cats play with mice.  Right before they eat them. 

It turned out, the atmosphere of the Cowboy Christmas Party was like a typical bar.  People mingled, ate and drank while the jukebox played.  The after dinner games were fun with some really great and occasionally expensive prizes.  It was the best Christmas party I’d ever been to. 

 Then came the gift steal.

We were told to bring a $10 gift.  I brought a rooster tea kettle.  Someone else brought a cooler full of little bottles of booze.  There were some homemade items.  One guy brought some fish balls made from halibut he caught in Alaska.  There was also a bunch of crap.

The object of the gift steal is everyone draws a number.  The person with Number 1 picks the first gift and unwraps it.  The person with Number 2 can either take that gift or pick a different one.  Number 3 can take either of the first gifts or choose an unwrapped one.  And so on.

This is an average game when people are sober.  By the time we got around to the gift steal, 98% of the participants were trashed, and the 7 drunkest people wanted three things:  the fish balls, the cooler of booze (hello?!  open bar) and the rooster tea kettle.  The gift steal was over within 15 minutes for all the sober and slightly drunk people.  The fight for the tea kettle, the fish balls and the cooler of booze entertained the rest of us for more than an hour.

Alliances formed.

Secret deals were made.

It’s possible firstborn children were offered up.

Grumpy wanted the fish balls.

Dopey wanted the fish balls (but only because she didn’t want anyone else to have them).

Doc wanted the rooster tea kettle.

Bashful, Doc’s wife, wanted to use the tea kettle to bargain for the fish balls to give to Grumpy. (Doc didn’t care if Grumpy got the fish balls.  He wanted the rooster tea kettle.)

Happy wanted the cooler of booze.  (Strange because she brought it.  If she didn’t want to give it away, why bring it?)

Sleepy & Sneezy (a brother and sister team) wanted the cooler of booze.

Let the games begin!

Grumpy got the fish balls. 

Dopey stole them. 

Grumpy started crying. 

Bashful stole them from Dopey. 

Dopey took the cooler of booze. 

Sleepy took the tea kettle. 

Doc stole the fish balls. 

Bashful started crying. 

Happy stole the cooler of booze. 

Dopey took the fish balls. 

Grumpy and Bashful held each other and cried while they struggled to work out their next move. 

Happy took the fish balls.

Snow White passed out and fell off her bar stool. 

Doc got the tea kettle and hid it in the restaurant. 

Sleepy stole the cooler of booze, and he and Sneezy rejoiced at their win. 

Grumpy took the fish balls. 

Happy, red faced and angry, stole the cooler of booze and left Sleepy & Sneezy with a kid’s night light.

In the stunned silence of the game finally ending, the man who brought the fish balls yelled to the defeated brother and sister team, “Way to go!  You’ll be lucky to get a hand job with that.”

It was an absurd hour; crying over fish balls, fighting for a cooler of booze while at an open bar, drunks trying to plot and plan, but it was just the train wreck I needed.  Years later I still laugh until my sides ache thinking about the tears and recriminations of the gift steal.

Welcome to the Cowboy Bar:  It’s not a party until somebody cries.

70s Music

At work we have about a dozen music channels to choose from and 70s music is the only stuff that doesn’t make me want to ram ice picks in my ears.  Certainly there are songs that make me laugh and wonder when we stopped being such sentimental pansies (Seasons in the Sun, Billy Don’t be a Hero, One Tin Soldier) and there are songs that make me stop working and shake my bootie (Boogie Man, Dancing Queen, That’s The Way).  I remember some of the songs from when I was a kid living in southern California (Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree, Brandy, Crocodile Rock) and some from when I was a teenager living in Wyoming (Smoke on the Water, Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room, Smoke from a Distant Fire), but most of all, I remember listening to an all 70s radio station out of Denver the year I divorced.

While attending college part time, I also worked for Pepsi and had the University route.  I drove from building to building in a white panel van filling the machines, as well as supplying three small out of town accounts.  This gave me ample time to listen to the radio.  I remember sitting in traffic one day and Nine Inch Nails rasped, “I want to f*&k you like an animal…I want to feel you from the inside.”   At 10 o’clock in the morning.  The very absurdity of it made me start giggling.  Then they said it again and I howled with laughter.  I know the people around me thought I was insane.  I decided there had to be something better on the radio.

Doesn’t he look like a ton of fun?

I can’t remember the call letters of the station, but I never changed it after that day.  This guy was the early morning host and a woman named Jill took over at around 10.  Later they teamed up for the early morning show and they were hilarious without being vulgar.  For some reason people think they have to be shocking to be funny, but vulgar is vulgar and it gets old really fast.

One morning while getting ready for work, I heard a cat meow.  Animals in student housing were a big no-no, as in immediate eviction.  I looked around for the cat, wondering if it somehow snuck in.  I decided it was in someone else’s apartment and wasn’t my problem.  I heard it again on the way to work.  I looked in the back seat and when I got to work I checked my clothes to see if I had a cat in my pants leg the way some people get a dryer sheet stuck there.  No cat.  I filled the van and started for the school.

I KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE!

There it was again.  Meow.  WTF?!

Then the morning hosts started playing phone conversations of people calling in detailing their desperate measures at finding the kitty.  Oh, good one.

These were the kinds of tricks they played and the type of humour they had.  They played happy music, made me laugh and in some respects became my friends.  It was a scary time for me; newly divorced, single mom of two, trying to work and go to school and be a good mom.  It was also a time of triumph because I didn’t cave in and go back to my ex-husband, I finished school, and I was a good mom.  I had to give up the job at Pepsi because, well, shit happens.  That’s another story for another time.  I struggled and I survived, and if I had to pick a time that I regard as The Best Time of My Life, this three year period would be it.

So every time I tune in to the 70s station at work, I’m actually taking myself back to some of the best days of my life and it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Game On!

Tonight 2 men with a slew of kids came in for pizza.  I asked how many were in their party since the kids were all running around and I couldn’t get a head count.  One guy said, “There are 5 with me.”  The other guy said, “I have 4…so that’s a total of 5 of us.”  Uh…I’m a complete bonehead when it comes to math, but even I knew his answer was wrong.  His friend corrected him and he said, “Oh yeah, I guess there’s 9 of us.  If our wives were here they would know how to count.”  Dude.  Stop talking.  You aren’t getting any smarter.

******************************

This woman wants to play games with me.  I love passive/aggressive games.  My favourite is How Far Are You Willing to Go?  I always win that one.  The thing is I like to go to work, do my job and go home.  I don’t cause trouble or stir the pot.  I’m one of those nice loner people you sometimes read about…”She was such a nice person, always kept to herself, I can’t believe she had 20 bodies buried in her backyard.”   

One night after a long, back breaking shift, I got out to my van and started to back up before I realized Betty Boop (that’s how she talks) was parked behind me.  The parking lot is huge, so there wasn’t any need for her to do that.  I had to hobble my tired ass back into the bar and drag her drunk ass out to move her car.  The next time she did it, I put Frankenvan in “R stands for Race” and shoved her car back about 5 feet so I could angle my way out.  Lately, I’ve been parking to the side of the building so I can get out by going forward.

Tonight when I left work there were two cars in the parking lot…hers right behind mine.  I left her a little gift since she’s obviously trying to get my attention.  She will either take the hint and stop parking behind me, or we can take it to the next level.  I’m not ever drunk when I leave work and I can always pass a drug test.  Betty Boop can’t say either of those things.  People who walk on eggs, shouldn’t hop. 

 Most people stop provoking me after the first round.  Persistent people sometimes stick it out for two rounds.  Morbidly stupid people have to keep touching the fire and crying because they get burned.  That college degree she likes to brag about was obviously money well wasted.

WTF? Makes Me Laugh

Yesterday I mentioned that googling WTF? will make a person laugh until they pee even after a miserable weekend.  Here are some of the pictures that sent me over the edge.  Obviously, I’m easily amused.

Back at the Outlaw

I picked up a couple weeks of work at the Outlaw, the little cafe in Meeteetse, while one of the employees picks up the pieces of her life after her house caught fire during a “controlled” burn.  For the record, there’s no such thing as a controlled burn in Wyoming in March.  Fifty mile an hour winds, yo.

There are pros and cons to working at the Outlaw. 

Pro:  I don’t have to drive 64 miles a day to work.  This means I’m not spending money on gas.  I’m not running Frankenvan to death and I’m not likely to hit a large creature in the mile drive to my house.  Anything’s possible, though.

Con:  I don’t make as much money as I do working in Cody.  

Pro:  The place is haunted.  This makes for a nice bit of conversation.

Con:  The place is haunted.  I spend my shifts ignoring voices (these are different than the usual ones in my head), and stifling screams.  I’ll get used to it again eventually, but for now it’s one big freaky ghost party because they’ve all come out to welcome me back.

Pro:  The owners are some of the best people I’ve ever met.  They treat their employees with dignity and respect, and will work out any schedule to accommodate their people. 

Con:  There isn’t one.

Pro:  I work with my drunken roommate.  HAHAHAHA!  Just kidding.  This is only sort of a pro.  Even though he’s drunk at work, he gets stuff done and he’s easy to work with.  He’s on the bar side of the building, so I only see him when he has a food order or I need drinks.  I’ve worked with people who are just as drunk as he is, only much more obnoxious and way more useless.

Con:  I work with MDR.  He has the ability to become invisible and then reappear without warning.  It’s bad enough that he does it at home, but combine his invisibility with the ghosts and I’m in a state of mild terror all night.

Pro:  The Outlaw is very casual.  Nobody gets too upset about anything, there’s no screaming and yelling, or temper tantrums.

Con:  The other word for casual is disorganized.  It’s not as bad as it was when I worked there years ago, but there are still a few issues with slackassery. 

Pro:  It takes me 5 minutes to get to work and I’m home 5 minutes after the restaurant closes.  This is an extra hour and a half every day that I have to waste at home.

Con:  I can’t find one.

I hope they can find enough hours for me to stay and work because I’m pretty tired of driving to Cody.  If I figure in the cost of gas, vehicle replacement, vehicle repairs, risk of accident, and time spent behind the wheel, I probably make about the same amount working at the Outlaw as I do working in Cody.  Money isn’t everything.

In Unemployment news, my claim was that I quit because my money was stolen and the owner wouldn’t do anything about it.  It was disputed because I was “dissatisfied with my working conditions”, stolen money wasn’t a factor.  I replied back that I was highly satisfied with my working conditions and used my blog with comments and my actions as a rebuttal.  Now I have to have a telephone hearing on the 23rd because apparently I was “discharged due to misconduct.” 

WTF?!

How did it go from me quitting to me being discharged?  Do employers get to make up anything they want?  His story has changed twice and mine has remained the same.  I’m dying to know what my “misconduct” was.

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