As anyone who has read this blog knows, a good portion of it is dedicated to venting about people that have shown some sort of incompetence. Whether it’s in line at the grocery store, on a crowded bus, or on my computer or television in the form of “news,” and “celebrities,” pretty much everyone I have any sort of contact with who isn’t one of my immediate friends or family is a fucktard in my mind.
Although I spend a lot of time seething over other’s idiocy, rest assured, I’m hardly sitting on some high horse. I mean, this morning, I went to put on my rainboots as I was determined not to fall on my ass yet again and found a dollar bill, three bottle caps, and two crumpled up drawings of clowns that appeared to be in jail jammed in the foot. Despite not having children to blame this on, I wasn’t surprised. So believe me, my glass castle shattered some moons ago. Despite this, I still have no problem calling out the general public on their inadequacies and dumbfuckery at the grocery store or on the bus. However, I’ve had a few incidents in the past week or so which have me think that perhaps I’m being a tad judgmental. And that sometimes? I’m the fucktard.
Incident #1 – Dominicks.
Earlier this week, I made my daily stop to Dominicks after work. There appeared to be four thousand people in the store, and the lines were already about 15 deep. I got hit with a cart, blocked by a trio of elderly ladies debating the merits of their yogurt brands, accosted by someone posing as a medical professional who wanted to check my spine, and almost exploded from holding in profanity whilst waiting for the cutesy couple in front of me to figure out how to pull a produce bag off the roll. (Hint – it’s not by standing there and giggling, “OMG! I ripped another bag! You try!” “No, you try! You can do it!.” So very much hate.) By the time I got to the end of the line behind 17 people waiting for the self-checkout, I was already kind of crazy and spent the next 15 minutes in line cursing each and every one of my fellow shoppers. I was seething at the inefficiency and sheer stupidity of these folks who were holding up the line. Tapping my foot, rolling my eyes, sighing huffily – the whole nine yards.
Until I got my own dumb ass up there, scanned my container of soup (one of the main reasons I still frequent Dominicks is they have the most amazing baked potato soup on the planet,) a six-pack of Miller Lite, a roll of toilet paper, and some cat food. It was right about here that I realized I had eight singles in my purse, along with a whole mess of quarters. Now, not only am I that person holding up the line, but I’m paying for the saddest combination of items ever WITH CHANGE. And then? I ran out of quarters. So if I was looking for a lesson in humility, I certainly got it while digging for sixty more cents in my purse while everyone behind me tapped their feet in exasperation, rolled their eyes, and mentally called me a pathetic jackass in unison.
Incident #2 – CTA Part One.
The CTA has done everyone a big favor since the new year in raising their prices on one-day, three-day, and seven-day passes. And by “done everyone a favor,” I really mean bent them over without consent, lube, or dinner. Without going into all of the math, it is no longer economically efficient for me to buy a seven-day pass and instead makes more sense to buy ten dollar CTA cards every couple of days. Which means, of course, with me being me and whatnot, I occasionally find myself near running to (fucking) Dominick’s before work once a week because I forgot my pass is no longer valid. Earlier this week, I got on the bus, put in my card, and got the hateful message that there was only $.75 on my card. Once again finding myself digging around for change, I assumed the bus driver would do what every other bus driver does when the person is short, which is either wave them on or let other, better prepared folks board while I got my shit together.
But if that had happened, it wouldn’t be my life. So instead, the bus driver just sat there while I dug around frantically for my wallet – and isn’t it always the case that the more you’re in a panicked rush, the more shit you drop? Seriously, normally I can reach in my purse without looking and find my lighter, keys, and phone within seconds – leaving everyone waiting behind me in literal freezing rain. After I’d dropped my lunch on the floor, pulled out a tampon wrapped around my headphones, and mistook a quarter for a penny, I finally had enough to carry on and began walking through the near empty bus while other passengers boarded. And apparently said bus driver really had it in for me, because as soon as my last quarter passed through, everyone else jumped on the bus and she immediately slammed on the gas. At which point I dropped my lunch a-fucking-gain and was too afraid to bend over and pick it up while the bus was lurching to and fro, then caught my foot in the plastic bag it was in and nearly gave someone a very unwelcome lap dance.
Incident #3 – CTA Part Two.
I get out of work at 5:30 every night. From there I catch the Blue Line at Clark/Lake in order to catch my bus. For those unfamiliar, the Clark/Lake stop is a relatively busy one, as every other train line save the Red Line stops there. In addition, 5:30 is somewhat of a turning point – it’s not necessarily considered “rush hour,” anymore, so if you miss a train by 30 seconds, you may be stuck waiting for another 12 minutes listening to the guy play the buckets and desecrating some classic Temptations hits. The Blue Line train also runs to the airport, so quite often I’ve found myself behind some clueless tourists who are trying to pull their giant luggage through the turnstiles. (Another hint – it ALWAYS gets stuck. Always.) While I’ve certainly been frustrated by this, I will honestly say I never get mad at the tourists, because they don’t know any better and I do not forget that not long ago I was right there with them, terrified and confused by all of the people rushing by me.
That being said, I have often become apoplectic with the girls carrying giant gym bags, the sales guys in suits and backpacks standing at the turnstiles and just waving their wallet in front of the sensor despite it CLEARLY NOT RECOGNIZING THEIR CARD, the vagrants trying nine different cards that they’ve found on the ground, and the folks that get up to the turnstile and then begin searching for their pass, holding up the rest of the line for us savvy travelers. All of that being said, I have to wonder what names I was called today as I bopped up to the turnstiles with my headphones, singing along to Tiffany, when my card wasn’t accepted. No worries, I took it out, waited a beat, then tried to put it in again. No dice. Wouldn’t even go in the slot. Waited another moment – not noticing the security guard trying to get my attention as I was too involved in my music – and tried again. Nothing. Now, I’m irritated, and at the same time I look up to get the guard’s attention, he taps me on the shoulder. Exasperated, I turn around – with headphones still on, mind you – and make a “WHAT?” gesture. He points at my ear and I yank a headphone out, all, “Yes??” ”It’s upside down, ma’am.” Me. (And I’m embarrassed about this, honestly.) ”What? I can’t hear you.” ”Your card. You’re putting it in upside down.”
I wonder how many people are telling stories about the dumb blonde they got stuck behind this week?
Well, the holidays have been over long enough that I feel comfortable dispensing with that holiday cheer goodness and going back to actively hoping folks twist an ankle when they’re being jerks. Here’s to the first 2013 installment of Friday Blast Off!! Who pissed you off this week?
The Pain in the Arse Secretary Who Tried to Throw Me Under the Bus for Her Error:
What I Said: “I understand and I’m sorry for the miscommunication. But we do not have anything for your firm on our calendar today. I’m happy to send someone right over.”
What I Meant: “You know damn well this was your mistake, you dizzy cow. Do your job, I’ll do mine, and we’ll all live happily ever after. Everybody makes mistakes; it’s okay. Didn’t you read that book? Oh, wait, that’s ‘Everybody Poops.’ I bet yours doesn’t stink, am I right?”
My Downstairs Neighbor Who Insists Upon Galloping Up and Down the Stairs and Slamming Doors When I’m Home Alone:
What I Said: ****Mute with terror. The murderer has finally come and my last moments are going to spent with these stupid cats.****
What I Meant: “Hey! Jackhole with the heavy feet! KNOCK. IT. OFF. I’ve seen you – there is no way you’re in a hurry to go anywhere, nor are you rushing home to a loved one. Please respect your neighbors by not stomping around like a fucking rhinocerous on crack. Some of us have relatively severe low-grade anxiety and you are not helping to dissuade their fears. While I’m at it – stop taking your dogs out at 5AM and standing right below my bedroom window while you yell for them at top volume.”
Overly Zealous and Angry Gentleman Demanding Spare Change Who Called Me a Bitch:
What I Said: “I’m sorry, I don’t have anything to spare.”
What I Meant: ”Listen, fuck, you’re wearing a fur coat. You have on a gold watch, a hat I know costs at least 30 bucks, and brand-new gym shoes. My coat doesn’t zip and I’m buying a single serve Kraft Mac and Cheese with the three dollars I have on me. I don’t even have a fucking watch. Or a hat, for that matter. Give me that.”
Person in “Wheelchair” Who Totally Pretended Not to Notice The 40 Person Line Behind Her and Then Yelled at the Cashier to Come Scan Her Purchases:
What I Said: “That’s fine, please, go ahead.”
What I Meant: “Hey! HEY!!! What the fuck?? No. No, you cannot go ahead of everyone. That’s a store-issue wheelchair and I saw you literally VAULT out of it to grab the last DiGiornio pizza from an unsuspecting hipster. So I know for a fact that you could lean over enough at the self-checkout to scan your pizza and 40 oz. of beer. You, ma’am, are an asshole and your only disability is laziness. You are disrespecting your fellow shoppers, baby Jesus, and people with actual disabilities. Stop it and wheel your ass to the back of the line.”
Happy Friday Everyone! Feel free to post your comebacks to the folks who made you want to punch something this week…..
Here’s my question. What the fuck happened to customer service? You know, customer service – that whole “customer is always right even when they’re so stupid they should be kicked in the head to save everyone else the trouble of talking to them.” In the past week, I’ve found myself in several lines in different venues, completely dumb-fucking-founded at the lack of efficiency in operations.
I’ll put a caveat here as anyone who knows me is aware that I am possibly the least efficient person on the planet. As I’m writing this, I’m mentally calculating how many times I may need to pee in the next few hours and whether I can hold off on going to the store for toilet paper because I forgot to buy some. (Again.) I am the queen of, “Eh, I know we’re at the store now, but I don’t need that until TOMORROW. I’ll just come back then.” (And yes, when tomorrow comes, I’m inevitably calling the me of yesterday a complete asshole.) I’m famous for only putting enough gas in the car to get where I’m going at that particular moment, putting a bottle of pop with three sips left in it back in the refrigerator, and ignoring the bag of garbage on the porch despite the fact that I am going right past the garbage cans when I leave the house.
However. HOWEVER. At work -where are there are consequences for being lazy far more stringent than being told, “You dick. Take. the. garbage. out,” I am the epitome of efficiency. My desk is spotless, my emails are categorized, my pending folder is cleaned out every Friday, and my inbox is empty each night. You know why? Because I am being paid for my time. My employers expect me to live up to the promises I made while terror-sweating through my interview and they expect me to provide the service that they are paying me produce on a daily basis. Other reasons would include being brought up in a household where I was taught that you receive a paycheck for an honest day’s work, that you should take pride in your work, and, oh yeah, that you shouldn’t be a complete douchcanoe.
Which is why I found myself internally screaming, “Do your job, you lazy cow!” several times this week at the following people.
Kohl’s Employee with Zero Concept of “If the Customer has a Coupon, They Expect to Pay Less.”
I returned a Christmas gift at this fine establishment, and, receiving store credit, decided to buy myself an electric sweeper. Without going into the math, I had more on the store credit than said (fabulous) sweeper cost. In addition, I had a coupon for 10% off. Excited about my bargain hunting, I handed over the coupon, and we started to sled downhill. “Well, ma’am, it shows this isn’t valid.” Me. “Okay. Why?” Person Who’s Super Good At Her Job. “Um. There was a return on it?” Me. “What now?” PWSGAHJ. “I’m not sure. It just says return.” Me. “I don’t understand.” PWSGAHJ, with a big smile, “Me neither!” Me. “So, you’ll take the 10% off?” PWSGAHJ, bewildered now, “Oh, you still want that?” Me, in my head, “No, you dizzy bitch. I’d prefer to spend 10% more than I owe you because you don’t know how to do your damn job.” Me, in reality. “Yes. Yes, actually I would. If you can tell me why the coupon isn’t valid, that’s fine, but if not, then yes, I would prefer to spend 10% less.” PWSGAHJ, with an exaggerated eye-roll, “Well, okay, ma’am. I guess we can honor this.” Really? Do people actually just say, “Okay, no, I would prefer not to save eight dollars!” and just hand it over?
All Arby’s Employees at the Thompson Center.
When I was in high school and college, I worked at the movie theater in my hometown. At the time, it was a second-run theater, charging $2.25 for movies that had been out for a few weeks and were no longer available at the big name theaters. As this was before Netflix and OnDemand, it was a pretty good deal. Add to that fact that Elk Grove had to hire extra security when the Krispy Kreme opened, you can imagine this particular theater did a relatively brisk business. I can remember rushing around behind the counter, slipping on (real) butter, covered in popcorn grease and syrup from the pop boxes, doing everything I could to make the customers’ experience better and their wait shorter. Which may be part of the reason it makes me batshit crazy when I am in a line of seven people on my lunch hour and wait longer for a premade BLT sandwich than it would take me to cook a fucking steak. The waiting isn’t what makes me want to eat my own head – it’s the seven employees languishing behind the counter, moving at the pace of drugged snails, that makes me nuts. Seriously – I’ve walked faster on my way into a gynecologist appointment, and let’s face it, no one’s really rushing into that office. These folks will hear the timer go off and lumber off in the general direction of the fryer, stopping to talk to their co-workers who are doing absolutely nothing, and occasionally to check their phone. One time, an employee particularly hell bent on making me want to take a hostage leaned over and retied her shoes before handing me my order. It goes without saying that she didn’t wash her hands first. Is there no lack of urgency anymore?? If I had tried that back at the theater I would’ve been out on my ass before the 9:30 showing of Pulp Fiction.
Management at Dominicks on Chicago and Damen.
I know, I know. I’ve beat this horse nearly to death and have clearly expressed my distaste for the clientele and employees involved in each experience. However, my visit tonight enforced my belief that the problem clearly lies at the top of this pyramid of morons. Picture, if you will, a crowded metropolis of thousands of people living in a four-square mile radius. Then place one solitary grocery store in the middle. Now, explain to me why, on a Friday night at 6PM, you would only plan to have four cashiers available. Then, explain to me why only one of these cashiers is over the age of 21 and therefore able to scan adult beverage purchases, which is approximately 75% of your sales at this particular interval. After that, please – fucking please – enlighten me as to why you would allow the aforementioned only adult employee to sit on the goddamn phone at the end of the self-checkout, where she used the word “Motherfucker,” no less than four times, while every single line in the store had increasingly irritated customers waiting to have their booze purchases scanned and the lines continued to expand all the way to the produce aisle. It’s called forecasting, people. Fail to plan, plan to fail. It’s quite basic, really.
Am I the only that wants to simply start screaming in these situations? How is it possible that so very many people have zero pride in their jobs? I can understand feeling you aren’t appreciated; I can understand feeling that the job you do isn’t important or worthy of your talents. As a college graduate who spent two years waiting tables and catching terrified lobsters out of a tank on Saturday nights for delighted diners, all while wearing a FUCKING BOWTIE, believe me, I understand. But for me, that’s a life lesson. If you want a roof over your head and appreciate electricity, nothing is beneath you, my friend. You take that job and you do the best you can at it. And you do it with a (fucking) smile.
I love my city. I do. So very much. We have our bad side, for sure. This summer has been one of the deadliest this city has ever seen, our public school system has made national headlines and not in a good way, our politicians keep going to jail, our mayor’s kind of a dick, it was 90 freaking degrees for way too many days this year, and we have one of the worst public transit systems in the country. (That last part may or may not be just my opinion, but having heard stories from other cities, I’m fairly confident we’re sadly lacking.) We have gangs, we have guns, we have burglaries, and we have Jesse Jackson. Despite all of this, I still believe I live in one of the most beautiful, amazing, unbelievable cities in the world; sometimes I look out at the skyline from my back porch and can’t even believe that I am lucky enough to live and work here.
However. HOWEVER. Being a resident of a sprawling metropolis has its downsides, and the longer I’m here, the more the inconveniences make me (occasionally) wonder if perhaps I wouldn’t be better off on a mountaintop somewhere – somewhere without so many people, somewhere where they’ve never had to play the ”Was that gunshots or fireworks?” game, which we played an awful lot this summer. Somewhere where your automatic response when a stranger approaches you on the street isn’t “I don’t have any money.” (I used to smile at people because I hoped they’d ask me for directions because I’m super proud of myself that I can now give them relatively confidently. I learned fairly quickly that was a mistake and I was inviting myself to a very long story ending with, “And that’s why I need two dollars and forty cents.”) I know in my heart I’d miss this place like a phantom limb, but I do occasionally wonder. So for those of you on the other side, (i.e. the suburbs) who may be considering a move to the Windy City – here’s my gift to you.
Here’s a few things you probably don’t realize if you don’t live in Chicago.
1. There’s really only one grocery store within walking distance, and you will grow to hate said grocery store with a white-hot passion you didn’t know you possessed. In my neighborhood, this grocery store is Dominicks. My Dominicks, which I find myself at at least once a day, is on Chicago and Damen. Here’s why it sucks.
- It has the dumbest layout of any store I’ve ever seen. You walk in and on one side, there’s the deli, Starbucks, salad bar, and fresh baked goods. The bread, however, is waaaay over on the other side, conveniently situated next to the fish counter. In between, you have the booze, then pizza, then an entire aisle of almost ice cream, (we are trying to win that “Fattest City in America” trophy, aren’t we?) then frozen foods, then toilet paper? Then greeting cards? Then crackers, dry goods, then….dog food? Then light bulbs and cleaning supplies? Then….soup. You get my drift. It’s like the person who designed was completely stoned and just followed their thought process on things they might want or need in no particular order. I shit you not, the other day I was there and needed sugar, which was inexplicably nowhere near the spices or salt but instead nestled in between the baby food and cat litter. All by itself.
- Every person there is a moron. This may seem to be an exaggeration, but I challenge you to walk in there at any given time of day or night and NOT want to punch at least three fellow shoppers in the throat. My neighborhood is quite the melting pot of hipsters, immigrants, young couples who tend to be a combination of the two and have extremely loud children, and old homeless people. Put all of these together and you have an amalgamation of some of the most irritating people IN THE WORLD. Picture Tyler, with his ironic t-shirt, skinny jeans, and pointy glasses trying to find the best sparkling water and vegan chili sharing an aisle with an old lady in a motorized cart mowing down everyone with a basket full of chips and grape pop sharing an aisle with a couple screaming in Ukrainian at their toddler in one of those giant carts that look like cars, and you’ve found aisle 12 at Dominicks. Which is, coincidentally, the one aisle which houses the only thing you are there for.
- And then you have to check out. Never, at any time in my life, have I been so close to homicide as at the self checkout at my Dominicks. I have long been a proponent of requiring some sort of IQ test before one is allowed to use the self checkout, but no one listens to me. Therefore, the self checkout, which boasts four stations, usually has a line of oh, about 15 people. If you have a cart full of free vegetables, none of which you know the name of – please go to a regular checkout. If you have a fistful of coupons – please go to a regular checkout. If you and your companion are in lane-blocking motorized carts – please go to a regular checkout. If you CANNOT READ ENGLISH OR SPANISH – please go to a regular checkout. Last but not least, if you are the aforementioned Tyler, and are going to lovingly re-bag your backpack 47 times so it has the best distribution of weight while you ride your bicycle home, tying up the line for another seven minutes – please go to a regular checkout or suffer the consequences.
2. You will no longer enjoy driving, as it’s less of a relaxing, listen-to-music time while talking on the phone as it is a NASCAR/bicycle/moped/pedestrian avoiding terror ride that ends in you losing your parking spot and having to walk four blocks anyway. Therefore, you have to get used to the bus or the El. Here’s some situations/people to be on the lookout for.
- The bus driver. He hates you. He hates his job, he hates driving up and down the same street for eight hours a day, he hates the cab drivers that cut him off, he hates the bicyclists that veer in front of him, he hates answering the same questions day in and day out. But most of all, he hates you. He will hit the gas the second you let go of your tenuous hold on whatever surface you’ve managed to grab onto. He will slam on the brakes the second you take a sip of your morning beverage. He will laugh when he waits for you to run across the street and then closes the doors and drives off while you stand, huffing and puffing like a fat kid in gym class, with no one and nothing to take your aggression out on.
- The assholes that sit on the outside seat when the bus or train is packed full of people like sardines.
- The assholes that use the seat next to them for their backpack and glare at anyone ballsy enough to politely ask them if they can sit down.
- The assholes that pretend not to see the pregnant lady, octogenarian, or handicapped person and don’t get up.
- The assholes that wait until the bus has pulled away from their stop before yelling “Hey, I need to get off!”
- The assholes that pretend not to notice there’s 30 other people waiting in line for the bus and jump straight to the front of the line.
- The assholes that stand to the left of the escalator without walking. Stand to the right, walk to the left, people. We’re in America. This isn’t new.
- The crazy person who tries to sell you cardboard/wants to converse about his overseas online girlfriend/thinks you need Jesus/want you to listen to their mix tape/offers you their phone number/pretends to lose their balance whilst grabbing at your private parts.
- The crazy person who takes up three seats due to a combination of their stench/mumbling/bags.
- Pretty much everyone but me.
3. Chicago is a “bicycle friendly” city. If you are not a bicycle rider, this will eventually wear on you. Bicyclists in Chicago – and please understand I know I’m making generalizations here, but there’s a reason such stereotypes exist – believe that they have more rights than anyone else on the road. They have their own lane but this is simply, to them, a general direction in which they should be heading. They will fly through red lights, miss your mirror by inches as they zoom by (because if you are in a car, I promise you they are moving faster than you are,) and zip in front of a city bus without a qualm. They will also become irate and yell profanities should anyone question their movements. Sometimes, they will make you doubly angry when they get on the bus and take up precious commute time by attaching their bike to the front of the bus.
4. There’s two Targets. They are not the Targets you know and love. They are cesspools of masses and masses of people. A simple trip to get a mop will take you at least two hours so plan accordingly.
5. I wasn’t kidding about the “gunshots or fireworks” game. A majority of the time, it is fireworks – at least in my neighborhood – but the fireworks? Are just as loud. They start in May and as of this writing, are still happening. Get used to big booms.
All of the above considered – it’s still a fabulous city. For every idiot I meet, I see a kind gesture every day – someone helping a businessman whose papers dropped, anonymously putting a bottle of water next to a sleeping homeless man, a teenager with his pants belted securely six inches below his hips giving his seat to a nondescript, middle aged female simply because she’s a woman, a bus driver leaving the bus to help a blind passenger across the street. We are a great city. We are a community. We are better than the gangs and the drugs and the guns; we know we are. We are teachers and nurses and businessmen and baristas and street performers and lawyers, and every time I see a tour bus in the Loop, I remind myself that there are people who pay money just to see, once in their lives, the streets I get to walk every single day.
We are lucky. And there’s no place I’d rather be.