Saturday, July 25, 2009

Secondhand Lions

On the recommendations of a couple of fellow bloggers, I went to Barnes & Noble to pick up a few summer reads, because everyone knows that my only passion in life that compares to my adoration of breasts, is books. They both can come hard or soft, they both can nurture you, entertain you, and even educate you. Books however will never sag. At least not for a very very long time.

Lolita and the Time Traveler's Wife were in my sights, among some other ones I've been meaning to pick up. The first, by Nabakov, I found with relative ease. I have two others of his already on my to read book shelf. The latter, however, was nowhere to be seen or found. Unfortunately, as it turned out, everywhere I went was also completely sold out!

As I was walking my dog this morning, I noticed a little garage sale in the neighborhood. Nothing out of the ordinary at first glance. Upon closer scrutiny, my eyes fell upon the most beautiful treasure I had ever seen.....a table, as though the broad shoulders of Atlas supporting the Earth, was holding the weight of a hundred books upon its back. My eyes widened, my heart's pace quickened, my mind began furiously deliberating the possibilities; how many books were there? What kind could they be? Could there be anything good in that mountainous heap of paper and print?

As if compelled by a force not my own, my legs carried me directly to where Atlas knelt, with my dog in a similar trance as he locked in on a box of stuffed animals. Trying to remain calm and not appear too desperate, I quickly began my investigative probe. As I scanned the titles of books, I quickly came to 2 major conclusions: 1) Whoever was selling these books has amazing taste. 2) they must either be an idiot, or have lost their mind for selling them for only 50 cents a piece. We were both drooling noticeably.

The Namesake, White Oleander, Drowning Ruth, What the Dead Know, and Atonement were my final choices. Can you believe that? For $2.50 I managed to snag these stupendous books for a fraction of what I spent at the store. I know what you're thinking, why didn't I buy more? Well, the truth is, not only is my to read shelf growing exponentially out of control, but I would't have had anywhere to put them.

As I was guiltlessly ripping my neighbor's off, and my dog the head of a lion, the owner came down and we began discussing our passion for literature and how this table of books barely put a dent in what she had upstairs. For a moment, I imagined a vast library of books in her home, shelves upon shelves of awesomeness, countless stacks as high as the ceiling, books consuming every open space and covering furniture like wild Ivy. The thought made me smile. We talked for about twenty minutes before my dog was like, dude the lion's dead and you're boring the shit out of me, can we go? The book lady asked which ones I had purchased, and as I went down the list I said, "Oh, yes, and apparently that decapitated lion as well."

I never did find the Time Traveler's Wife, but I found so much more instead. Just goes to show you that you don't always get what you want.......sometimes you get more! Oh, and the city's no place for a lion.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Smart People

I read an article the other day about the concerns of proper grammar usage and spelling in everyday life in relation to texting. The main theme of the article was sort of rhetorical, but did pose the question of whether or not we, society in general, were becoming stupider more stupid due to the frequency in which we use slang, acronyms, abbreviations, and phonetics to communicate through text messaging.

The author of the article interviewed a few experts, one being in language and communication, who ultimately believed that our intelligence would go on unaffected and that the proficiency of our written and spoken language would not be ill fated. [using a pretentious British accent] I, however, vehemently disagree with that assessment. As a matter of fact, I think that stupidity has become pandemic and the ever growing popularity of hip techno devices is eventually going to create generations of dimwitted morons. Uh, did I say eventually?

Look, I like texting for a myriad of reasons (it's more challenging to drive that way) Mainly, because making a phone call requires very specific protocols, which ultimately take up valuable time. Customary salutation, determining if current moment is appropriate to continue verbal communication or if another time would be preferred, transfer of meaningless data, polite responses, possible awkward silences, promises and/or excuses, exit strategy, and termination of transmission.

Now, since time is such a precious commodity and because I am such a thoughtful person, I figure it's faster (and more polite) to just send someone a text. This process is even more poignant if all you have is a quick question, or are unable to talk. This way, the person can determine the importance of the correspondence, and respond accordingly, or as time permits. Furthermore, I like to be even more efficient, by shortening words,and leaving out some punctuations. Otherwise, if I have to spend too much time texting, it becomes self defeating.

Being that this is the case, my two most aggravating pet peeves as of late, are people who despise improper grammar in text messages and people who speak as though they are text messaging. To address the former, as long as you are intelligent enough to understand what I am texting you, then the process through which I send the information is irrelevant. If I shorten words or leave them out entirely, I'm doing so for the sake of time, not because I can't spell. God forbid you have to use your brain for a moment.

The latter is much more frustrating because once this form of communication has infected your speech, it's quite difficult to overcome. For instance, I don't mind when my sister texts me a word like "whatevs", "latr", or "cuz". However, what I can't stand is when people start chopping words in half or fusing words together whilst speaking. One of my friends does this so incessantly that if you were eavesdropping you would think he was a "motard". (moron + retard = motard) See how that works? Yeah, I think it's stupid too. He'll say things like, "Damn she's hidi!" As if adding a third syllable would expend too much energy. Dude, you're 40 years old, don't be an idiot.

Many people see this as a process of social evolution, where I think it's more indicative of a nation that will continue to lose its competitive potential in the global market. We are breeding fatter and dumber offspring and people think this isn't a problem. Most European kids speak multiple languages, are well traveled, and know where Papua New Guinea is on a map. I bet if you ask an American kid, he'd probably think Papua New Guinea is a rapper. Damn shame.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cellular

Apparently, cellphones are the bane of my existence. If I'm not getting bitched out by some disgruntled cashier over one, I'm putting my phone through the most rigorous high velocity impact tests known to man. I'm not quite certain how some of this shit happens, but I've managed to drop my phone in a toilet and accidentally kick it across a parking lot a few times. It's been stepped on, bounced off the bed into the wall, and more times than I can count. . . . . I've forgotten that it's in my lap when I get out of the car, but am quickly reminded as I hear the familiar sound of metal and plastic crashing and scraping along unrelenting cement.

I used to drive a big truck and one day after coming home from buying a brand new phone, as I was exiting this mammoth vehicle, I managed to drop my two hour old phone which literally shattered into thousands of unrecognizable pieces. Buttons flew in every direction, the LCD display was obliterated, and I had to use the voice recognition key for a week before I was sent a replacement. All I can remember is how thankful I was that I had had the foresight to purchase the insurance.

Years later, and I'm still pushing my phones to the limits of their structural engineering fortitude. The interesting part is that I take amazingly good care of everything else I own. I treat my DVD's so gingerly you would think I was a mad scientist handling explosive materials, I avoid vigorous driving to reduce wear and tear on my car, and I still dust off my Playstation 2 that's probably older than most of your kids. I know what you're thinking, How can someone so assiduously protective of his belongings allow for such atrocities to happen? I wish I knew. I drop kicked my phone in the throat just last night.

My friends call me the Text Master. I don't have one of those nifty miniature keyboard touch pads, oh no. I have the old school model which you can operate with one thumb. You've never seen a phalanx move with such precision and blinding speed. I text multiple people at the same time, I text while I eat, while I drive, while I watch T.V., and when I'm shopping. I text at the gym, in between clients, during my lunch break, and while I walk the dog. As a matter of fact, I'm texting right now. In retaliation to my pervasive texting, my phone's 9 key has decided to stop functioning. I think it's sprained. It works sometimes, other times I have to think of another word to use that doesn't need a W, X, Y, or Z. You'd be surprised how often you use a "W" or "Y".

This isn't the first time my phone's suffered a Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI). A few months ago, it was the number 3 key. It's virtually impossible to text without the letters D,E, or F. Trust me, I've tried, and I possess a rather impressive lexicon. A few months before that, various directions on my select key would give out from time to time, making navigating through menus more difficult than threading a needle in the dark with lotion on your hands. (I don't know, I'm guessing that's tough) At the very least, as equally frustrating.

Why don't I get a new phone you ask, well, not only do I feel a special kinship with my phone, but I've invested more money in that damn thing than my car. I've had to buy multiple batteries (one on account of the toilet debacle), blue teeth, (plural for blue tooth?) car chargers, and home chargers. I'm also not too keen on parting with my current phone, because I like to text while I drive. You can't do that with one hand on the majority of these new phones. I'm not ready to part with that facet of my communicative repertoire. I see countless nimrods texting with two hands as they drive. That's just a little risky, and not to mention, down right stupid.

I suppose it's time to say good bye to this phone and turn it in for a newer model. Who knows, after getting to know the new one, I might really like her. I just hope they can transfer all the naked pictures I've collected.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What's Eating Gilbert Grape

I had a disconcerting experience today while I picked up a few things at a local store. After I had located my desired items and deposited them in the bacteria infested cesspool of a shopping basket, I headed towards the open cashier to pay. As I began placing the items on the counter, I received a phone call from work and had to answer it being that I could be getting called in to rub rich people. (I'm still waiting for the call to work on Jessica Alba)

As I answered the phone, the cashier asked me if I had a store card which I promptly began locating on my key chain when she just about took the keys from my hand, as if I were performing surgery and lacked sufficient concentration to delegate to her request. (mind you, there were no other customers behind me) As I answered a few questions from my manager, I heard the woman bark the total of my bill. I retrieved two twenty's and before I could even extend my arm to pass her the money, she spitefully snatched it from my hand as she exclaimed (loudly), "So rude!"

Dumbfounded, I drew a breath, looked around, and then placed the phone aside and said, "Excuse me?"

"It's so rude to talk on the phone while I'm trying to talk to you," she responded.

I drew another breath to simultaneously gather my thoughts and calm myself before responding. During the the nanoseconds of nerve synapses in my brain, I pondered whether I would give this woman an intelligent, well thought out, eloquent verbal assault, or get medieval on her ass. I decided that although she was wrong in execution, she was right in principal. Ultimately, I figured a mild retort to her inappropriate behavior towards a customer, coupled with an acknowledgement of her frustration, would be the best way to go.

"Ma'am, I apologize for talking on the phone; I realize that it was rude. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have answered, but it was an important call from work so I had no choice. However, snatching money from my hand was vehemently uncalled for and tactless."

I don't think she was expecting my reaction. In fact, she was probably expecting me to get ghetto on her or something. After she picked up her jaw, she said, "I'm sorry, it just happens all day."

I wanted to say, Well, perhaps you should look into some anger management classes, or get another job! But instead I said, "Sorry to hear that, hope your day gets better". And then I left.

Truth is, I totally agree with her. Talking on the phone while interacting with someone who is helping you, is rude. However, being in the customer service field and treating people like shit is egregiously imprudent and worthy of a reprimand. Believe it or not, I see this kind of stuff at my own work from time to time, but I can't let those people, or moments get to me. It's not fair to myself, or to the next guest. Its kind of like when women treat their current boyfriends in regards to how the one before him treated her. Look honey, I'm not your daddy or any of your other boyfriends. Learn to drop the extra baggage, or your going to be paying those extra fees on every flight you take.