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.:[Friday, July 23, 2004]:.
ARE YOU TALKING TO ME? ARE YOU TALKING TO ME? SERIOUSLY... SOMETIMES I HEAR VOICES.
My eldest brother, who's linked in the sidebar, has spent the last seven years asking me questions like "when are you going to get a job?" and "why don't you call a temp service?" and "you know what would be a good job for you? Assistant crack whore." It doesn't really matter to him that for most of that period I was employed. The reason it doesn't matter is that he is apparently insane. Not insane to the point of being unable to function (which we'll call the "Courtney Love tradition"), but is instead insane in the sense that he's professionally quite successfull but possesses a panoply of odd and bewildering behavioral traits (which we shall term the "Ross Perot tradition").
For instance, many people have certain non-communicative greetings with which they begin a conversation. While these greetings (Hello, What's up?, Give me all of your money) may not have a lot of literal meaning in and of themselves, they are timeworn and hallowed traditions which people accept as ways of initiating conversation and moving to the "information exchange" portion of the communication process. I speak to my brother twice a day, and he always initates the conversation in one of several ways: (1) "Poochie? Poochie Chewbacca?"; (2) "Scoonie! Scoonie Scoon!" (sometimes repeating this 6 or 7 times, if he's stuck in traffic and is just calling because he's bored); (3) "Uh, yeah, I'm looking for Hans Moleman." Is it the same as telling people that the CIA has planted a radio transmitter in your skull while simultaneously smearing yourself with human excrement? Of course not. But if in 30 years he is a successful businessman who runs for president while spouting semi-sensical soundbites and selecting as a running mate an animatronic prop from a DisneyWorld exhibit, I wouldn't be suprised.
Again, I'm not trying to imply that he's a short, big-eared psychopath who is angling somehow to run a third-party spoiler election against a Republican incumbent, ushering in eight years of mealy-mouthed pseudo-liberalism, a sexual scandal that is not nearly as dirty as we all secretly hope, and capping it all off with a the popping of a market bubble which leads to a 4 year recession. I mean, he can't do that because I'm more scandal prone than Billy Carter, Hugh Rodham, and the whole Reagan family combined, not to mention the rest of our trashcan-ass family. But if he did do it, those of us that know him would not be suprised in the least. This is all a way of working my way back (obliquely, yes, but working my way back nonetheless) to a conversation we had yesterday.
I am not currently working because I got fired from the pizza delivery job I mentioned a few posts back. Now, I know I should be filled with shame at not being able to hold onto a pizza delivery job for more than a month, but in the final analysis it is probably worth not having to type something as ridiculous as "Rockin' Tomatoes" on my job history. As a matter of fact, on the list of jobs I would find most embarassing to have to include on my resume "Rockin' Tomatoes" ranks just above "Just Cock Rings" and right below "human stool sample collector." A return to jobless status means a return to my brother's favorite topic of conversation: "Why don't you have a job?" Which further means that he gets to make his two favorite money-making suggestions: temp agencies and test subject at PPD Pharmaco - Austin.
I hate temp agencies. I hate temp agencies so much, that I will sell my corneas, a kidney, and both of my legs before I'll ever go back to working at temp agencies again. Because my brother was so hyped up about the idea of my working, he encouraged me to have two jobs when we lived together in Austin. So at night I delivered pizza for Scumby's Pizza and by day I worked temp assignments for Remedy Staffing. Needless to say, it can be somewhat disorienting to work until 3:30 a.m. delivering pizza with Shaggy from "Scooby Doo" and then be expected to conduct myself in a professional manner in an office environment.
Needless to say, my workdays were filled with confusing mismatched conversations like, "No, you supervisor is not outside in the parking lot taking bong rips, she's getting herself some coffee," and "Dude, what's up with the cotton Dockers, are you on your way to the country club?"
But the really, truly, ass-rapingly exasperating thing about the temp agency was Allison. Allison was my assigned agency rep. She was the youngest member of the Remedy office staff with the least seniority, which meant that she got stuck trying to find me assignments.
This meant she got to try, over and over again for months on end, to foist me off on unsuspecting companies who just wanted someone clean and shaven to come in and do some copy jobs, but instead got a brain-dead, dirty teen who kept thinking "T" came before "S" in their filing systems. Though I told Allison time and time again that I worked at night, as well, and could only work late-morning and afternoon assignments, every morning without fail the phone would ring. At 7 or 7:15. She would say the same thing, every time, with girlish enthusiasm: "Hey, Ben, this is Allison at Remedy!!" To this day, that voice and that phrase haunt me like the grim spectre of death.
I should point out, of course, that some of the problems were not entirely Allison's fault. For instance, my tenure at the Calendar Club warehouse would probably have been longer, or (and this would have been better for all parties involved) have never actually occurred if I had not stated on my Remedy application that I was familiar with the operation of pallet jacks and fork lifts. As a matter of fact, I became familiar enough with pallet jack operation quite quickly... my coworkers and I had a lot of fun staging pallet jack races during lunch break. However, using a fork lift to raise a 1 ton pallet 20 feet into the air is not something one learns on the sly at the workplace, especially when you are already supposed to know and you only have a few days to learn. And let me tell you that there are only so many times that you can tell your coworkers that you have to go get something out of your truck when they ask you to run the forklift before they catch on. And after every single one of these incidents, Allison would laughingly tell me that I wouldn't be getting any more assignments at that company in her happy, "Ben-you-little-scamp" tone of voice. When I'm in hell, and the devil delegates someone to tell me that now it's time for the red hot pokers up my ass or now it's time for the Elephant Man to perform fellatio on me, it'll probably be Allison from Remedy.
I got sidetracked here.
At my brother's suggestion, I'm currently going through the procedures necessary to start driving a cab. Now a lot of people would say that this is probably destined to be only slightly less disastrous than the warehouse job mentioned above. After all, I think the main reason he suggested it in the first place is because he claims that I remind him of Travis Bickle. However, as much as I hate people, I thrive on social contact. I'm perfectly capable of behaving affably and personably for the full duration of a five to ten minute cab ride. Besides, the cab drivers I've met are not exactly "Jeeves, the Queen Mum's coach driver."
Apparently, I would be an independent contractor, which is a benefit because prolonged and/or continuous contact with people in a position to exercise authority over my actions tends to encourage me to behave in erratic ways. Not "Charles Whitman erratic" but definitely "Tom Green erratic."
Anyway, I figure if nothing else, I should have some funny stories to tell about the short, convoluted path which led to my getting fired from the cab company.
Wish me luck. I promise I won't shoot any pimps.
| a BEN production by me at 1:31 AM
.:[Thursday, July 15, 2004]:.
WHICH DIETY'S COCK DO I HAVE TO SUCK TO GET A DECENT DAY'S FISHING?
Where in the hell have I been?
Well, the short answer is: I have been sitting in my apartment, eating Ramen noodles and watching Fox News Channel.
To expand on that, I've been having a bit of an existential crisis. You know, (1) what does it all mean, (2) what am I doing with my life, and (3) why am I doing it with a crazy 3 week growth of beard and dirty underwear? Seeing as how the only one of those questions I had an answer to was (2), and the only answer to that question during the last 3 weeks has been "sitting in my apartment, eating Ramen noodles and watching Fox News Channel," I figured maybe a change in scenery was in order.
All my life, people have told me that the outdoors are good for spiritual crises, that fresh air and sunshine clarifies the mind and buoys the soul. Wait... scratch that. Mostly it was my father who was always saying that. And seeing as how some of his other pearls of wisdom consist of gems like, "why are you asking me for advice, son, do I look like I know anything?" and "you should read this Men's Health article about The Rock, son, this guy's got everything figured out," and whenever we were sick growing up he would tell us it was all in our mind and that we needed to go run around the block, maybe he doesn't have the whole Ward-Cleaver-smokes-a-pipe-and-knows-all-the-answers parenting schtick down.
Anyway, fishing is an outdoor experience, and I enjoy it, so I thought I'd go down and fish for rainbow and brown trout in the Canyon Tailrace today. Trout fishing is the epitome of the mentally cleansing outdoor experience. At least in theory. Tromping about in a cold river pitting your wits against a cold-blooded chordate with a brain the size of a corn kernel is a good way to demonstrate to yourself man's superiority to beast, if you don't think about it too hard. Plus, it's very pretty to look at.
The Canyon Tailrace is one of the few (only?) places in Texas where you can actually fish for trout year round, because the Guadalupe River is cold. It's so cold, in fact, that when I came driving up to the public access area administered by the Army Corps of Engineers, and saw the sun as it poked its orange head over the horizon and hit the mist rising from the water and fragmenting into a million crystaline rainbow shards, I wasn't suprised. "Ah," I told myself, "the water is cold, the air is warm, and so we have mist." I thought about how pleasant it would be to stand hip deep in the river, shrouded by tendrils of mist, fishing and thinking deep thoughts while chewing on Teriyaki beef jerky and Nacho Cheez Slim Jims. I parked my truck near a stand of trees and walked towards the water, puzzled by the loud roaring sound coming from the direction of the river.
My suprise upon seeing the state the river was in was entirely, completely and unabashedly inconsistent with my knowledge of the fact that it rained for the entire month of June.
The morning sun was not, as I had innocently assumed from a distance, glinting prettily through a mist occuring as a result of cold water meeting warm morning air. It was, instead, glinting prettily through a mist thrown violently into the air as 5,000 cubic feet of water per second crashed into rocks like a drunken Matthew Broderick into innocent pedestrians. It was not a lazy, inviting mist which promised a 14 inch rainbow striking a bucktail jig downstream, but a violent, taunting mist which did to my hopes of a pleasant day fishing what the tanks in Tianamen Square did to student protestors.
"Self," I said, "I think fishing here would be foolish, not to mention not very spiritually rewarding." I agreed, noting that this was a very astute observation seeing as how the Guadalupe River trout had probably all been swept into the Gulf of Mexico where they were likely enjoying margaritas and playing shuffleboard instead of making themselves available to me for my spiritual rejuvenation purposes. Not to mention the fact that it looked... well, it looked exceedingly dangerous. Which it is, because I found out on the way home that 3 people have drowned in the last two weeks.
Well, shit. I went further down the river in the hopes that 10 or 15 miles from where the water was being released from Canyon Lake the water would have calmed a little. In fact, fishing conditions were marginally better 15 miles from the dam in the same way that having a hooker with dysentery and typhoid crap in your breakfast cereal is marginally better than awaking one morning to discover yourself married to a hooker with dysentery and typhoid.
I was not to be deterred, however. So I began driving around Canyon Lake looking for a house with a boat dock and no cars in the driveway. Though I stopped at a few such houses and considered availing myself of their facilities, I ultimately decided that being arrested for trespassing might be counterproductive to the whole spiritual cleansing process. I mean, it might have worked for Ghandi, but I've already gotten as much benefit as I can possibly get from the whole "enrichment through deprivation in small-town jail" personal growth program.
Fortunately, I found an isolated cove with no houses built on the shoreline, parked my truck in a field of waist-high grass, and set myself up at the water's edge. I had been sitting on a rock, casting fruitlessly about, for about an hour when an old man came driving up through the field. He had no fishing equipment and looked like Yoda. We commiserated for a bit about the state of things and then he just stood there watching me fish for 45 minutes and then left. Actually, that's not entirely true. After I had been sitting on a tree stump for about 10 minutes, I started getting stung and couldn't figure out what was stinging me. I was swatting at myself and looking at my hand, swatting myself somewhere else and looking at my hand, and thinking to myself that this guy must think I'm nuts. But he probably just thought I was an idiot. After watching me swat myself ineffectually for several minutes, the guy finally said, "You know that stump your sitting on has got fire ants all over it, don't you?" Now, normally I like old people. Talking to old people gives me a chance to be folksy. I didn't even mind that the guy drove into the field to see who I was... after all, I wouldn't want some crazy, transient looking guy squatting in a field near my house, either. But, Jesus, couldn't he have told me about the fire ants before they had covered 90% of my body in stinging welts?
And I still didn't catch shit.
| a BEN production by me at 5:44 PM