Buyer’s Remorse (I Hope) and a Backlash of Common Sense

I know the feeling that I hope anyone stupid enough to have voted for Barack Obama is feeling in their deepest inner being right about now.

My first new car was the most stupid and ill-advised purchase I have ever made in my life.  At the time (January, 1990) I was driving a ’79 VW Rabbit that had issues- eight hundred dollars’ worth of issues that I had just resolved, and then the starter (another $150 worth) went south.  While Dad was waiting on the time and motivation to install said starter, I was stranded at my sister’s in Worthington with no ride.  So I got pissed and said to myself what the hell I might as well just buy a new car. 

The only new car in my price range with an air conditioner?  A metallic blue, 4 cylinder automatic Chevy Cavalier.  The Cavalier pictured above is not the car I had, but the only picture of a Cavalier that old I could find.  Mine was not a Z24, and it was a 1990 not a 1989 like the one pictured, but it was still a piece of shit.   Since I was working for a Chevy dealer at the time I thought well I probably should buy a GM vehicle (mistake #1) and might as well go with a four cylinder (mistake #2 unless it’s one of the four cylinder engines Toyota builds for GM) and don’t ya love the metallic blue paint (one of the blue and silver paint codes that were notorious for paint delamination all through the ’90’s.)

A week after I bought this piece of crap the clear coat started peeling off the hood.  So it was off to the body shop for a couple of days. The hood never matched the rest of the car again.  The interior trim was so badly fitted the dash vibration at idle would drive you nuts.  I had the techs look at it because it had such bad lifter noise (2.2 G) that it sounded like a freaking diesel.  The techs simply laughed and told me it was normal.  Oh, and did I say the oil drain plug was stripped at the factory so my first oil change was an oil and oil pan change?  I had this car maybe a week and already wanted my money pit VW back.  The VW at least could get out of its own way and it didn’t rattle like a freaking diesel.

To anyone who thought Barack Obama was a good deal- you got my old piece of shit ’90 Cavalier.  How do you like that sinking feeling of, “ah shit, I got hosed?” 

Of course I did NOT vote for Obama but Republicans don’t get a free pass either.  We have been too soft and not willing to tell it like it is for fear of offending someone.  Well, dammit, the emperor (or that’s what he likes to think he is) is naked- as well as being downright malicious and power-hungry.

I’ve never been anything close to an optimist in my life, but I continue to pray for a  backlash of common sense.

Endless Automated Operator Options, Eternal Hold, and Surfing the Void

I have to say I am the least “emo” person I know.  I know pop music has always been a bit on the fru-fru side, but the stuff they’re playing on pop stations when they aren’t playing rap is almost more nauseating than rap if that is possible.  The new pop songs all sound alike- like techno soundtracks for  really poorly produced porn movies.

I detest three things about so-called “customer service” call lines: wading through a maze of endless “press this button for everything except what you need” menus, being put on eternal hold, and having to listen to the most abominable music imaginable all during the hold time.  No, I do not want to dance while I wait, nor do I want to visualize in my mind the porn movie that particular soundtrack was inspired by.  Silence is OK with me. Better yet,  just answer the damned phone in a reasonable amount of time.

I also don’t need to be reminded every thirty seconds that I only have to wait seven minutes longer to talk to someone in some foreign country who can neither speak nor comprehend the English language.

Then once I do get through to Jamal or Shupadingding or Sinderatpuriikman, or some other poor soul unfortunate enough to be living in some third world country and working for 25 cents a day, I’ll get to spend another seven minutes to get that person to put me on hold for another eternity as they attempt to hand me over to someone in this country who speaks English as a first language.  For all I care, send me to someone in England who speaks English as a first language. Or send me to someone in Japan- their English is usually better than most rednecks’.

Let me talk to someone who can actually help.  Screw your damned electronic mazes and foreign call center help who are not fluent in English to whom you pay starvation wages to offer downright shitty service- in every language other than English.  I want to get my issues resolved, but my desperation is tempered  depending on how long I want to stay on eternal hold being tortured by techno porn movie soundtrack music, how long I can stand fishing through vast menus of issues that don’t even address my concern, and being just bitchy enough to insist on talking to someone who can speak the language.  Just because they tell you to say your name is John doesn’t mean it is, Shalulapondarieki.

Maybe the worst thing about eternal hold is that endless void you seem to enter into.   You’re tied to the phone, afraid to escape the torture music for even a second lest they pick up and you aren’t right there so they hang up on you.  This is frustrating as hell.  Even if you have the Bluetooth and can move about freely (which is a vast improvement to being tied to a landline for hours) you are still getting blasted with the bad hold music and thirty second “you’re going to be on hold a long, long time” reminders.

Of course eternal hold is a good time to play a word game on the DS or better yet, to answer e-mail if you’re sitting at the computer.  It’s still a big time waster.

The saddest thing about  shitty customer service lines is they do nothing more than underscore the fact that particular business doesn’t give a rat’s ass about you.

I won’t name the worst offenders by name but I will say that health insurance companies are some of the worst, followed ironically by phone companies and cable companies and other utility companies.  They must figure that since they have you by the short hairs (a captive audience if you will) that you are just going to bend over and take it.  To a degree, we must.   This is why capitalism must be allowed to work.  A little healthy competition might improve customer service.  If you don’t like the foreigner who doesn’t understand why you’re pissed that your health claim was denied, then you should be able to find a provider who does care about your problems.  The problem is nobody cares because nobody has to compete for your business.

I’d like to tell them all to bite me, once I get through the maze, endure the techno porno music, get past the foreigners, and find someone who can understand English.

Unlucky and Not Irish, Catty Comments and French Leave

As far as I can tell, the closest I get to Celtic ancestry of any sort is that my great-grandfather’s name was Ferguson and he actually came from Scotland.  Most of my other relatives are either of English or German descent and have been in this country a very long time.   I can trace one line clear back to Virginia in the 1720’s for whatever that’s worth.

I don’t like to mock other ethnic groups.  Irish and Scots are not that far apart either culturally or genetically or geographically.  I will say most the people I know who are of Irish descent do like beer drinking and fighting.  The other caveat I will add is that I know even more people who aren’t Irish in the slightest who like beer drinking and fighting just as much if not more than their Irish friends.  So I can’t say that beer drinking and fighting are particular to just one ethnic group.  Even if you look at rednecks as a whole, not all rednecks are beer drinkers.  A lot of them prefer liquor.

In a way it’s a shame that someone took St. Patrick’s feast day- the guy who brought Christianity to Ireland- and made it a beer drinking holiday.  I am not defending the Catholic practice of praying to saints (I’ve always thought that way creepy and not quite a cool thing to do) but come on.  The purpose behind the holiday is to thank God for the life of a person who brought other people to faith.  I could understand celebrating Benny Hill’s birthday with a round of green beer or something like that, but St. Patrick wasn’t a funny guy.  He was doing serious business.  Benny Hill on the other hand, would have appreciated a pint and an off color joke.

It also kind of sucks that previously solemn holidays such as Memorial Day (instituted to honor departed American war veterans) and Independence Day have also turned into beer drinking holidays.   I really don’t think that getting drunk and stupid and getting torched by one’s propane grill trying to cook burgers does much to remember departed war veterans.  In a way it’s sort of irreverent and disrespectful.   Then again, people fish in the brook in the cemetery where my grandparents are buried.  I don’t think they would have minded the fishing.  They weren’t too thrilled with drunkards though.

That reminds me, on my upcoming French leave days, I need to do a few things on the sanity hit parade.  The random rural roadtrip with pictures is one of them.  I am just debating over which small town(s) to target.   The other is to pay a visit to the cemeteries, yes I want to take some pics of Victorian era monuments in the Marion Cemetery, but also to remember that infinite truth that I am dust.

Something About the Depravity of Man, Spring Fever and the Agony of Irony

There’s something about observing the hordes of the unwashed that convinces me that the condition of the world is in a constant downward spiral.  I try to avoid shopping malls- especially when they’re crowded, but I broke one of my unwritten rules Saturday and accompanied the kids to Easton.  The original plan was for us to watch Alice in Wonderland in 3D IMAX at 4:15.  Unfortunately Jerry was watching the basketball game (like I give a shit about the Big Ten Tournament or whatever it was) and by the time we made it to Easton to buy tickets (should have bought them ahead online, shame on me for not thinking to check that) the 4:15 was sold out.  So we spent the afternoon cruising about the shops and fighting the crowds.  Jerry and Steve-o had fun at the sleep number bed place trying out the mattress and getting the sales pitch.  Arguably if I was considering buying a new high faluting bed, that’s what I would want.   At least an air mattress can’t get those funky body holes that regular beds get over time.  I still don’t know if I believe that the innards of these mattresses can stand up to dog nails.  Then again, it’s unlikely I will ever get to find out.

In spite of myself I actually did enjoy the movie.  Usually I don’t like the fantasy genre all that well and I am generally not one to go all out for “kids’ movies.”  In spite of being based on a story most consider to be a kids’ fairy tale, this version of Alice in Wonderland would likely scare the bejeezus out of most kids younger than teens.  I enjoyed the special effects.  There weren’t any dead spots either.  It was hard parting with the $14 a pop for tickets but this was definitely a good movie and worth seeing in 3D IMAX .  I would have been pissed, however, to pay $14 each for tickets to watch a shitty flick.   Sometimes things work out OK though.

I witnessed many fashion dos and dont’s on this happy foray.  One fashion don’t I observed with muted horror is that it is unwise to wear fluorescent pink if your torso is larger than my car.   It is also unwise to wear pants with chains when you’re wearing your pants halfway down your ass to begin with.   They tend to fall down as you walk.  However I did see some HK stuff in Hot Topic that I wouldn’t mind wearing.

It’s only March and far too early to be duped into thinking it’s springtime (especially here in Central Ohio) even though the time has changed.  We have had snowstorms in April here so I am not quite ready to break out the summer attire any time soon.  The difficult thing about March in Ohio is that it can be 70 degrees or 15 degrees…within the span of the same day.  There is no planning for the weather other than to take the Murphy’s Law approach- assume you are going to freeze part of the day and fry when you’re not freezing.

I wonder if anyone has actually played naked Twister- but then there are things better left unknown.  

The only concession I would like to make to the wildly changing weather is I would like to get in a good road trip.  Alone, and preferably in out of the way rural areas where nobody goes.  I’d so like to take the camera and get some good pics of old architecture, monuments, funny redneck moments, etc.  Perhaps I should not mock the denizens of the trailer park (as I am not that far removed from them) but there are some things (like pizza and bait sold in the same fine establishment) that are too funny not to mock.

Changing Priorities, I Want My TruTV, and an Old Lady’s Eye View

It’s bad when you look at a couple and then wonder about wild-thing logistics.  I admit it’s rude, but when I see a really huge couple I can’t help wondering who makes a bed with a half-ton capacity, or do they just do the wild thing on the floor?  It’s bad when I see a really large woman and a really tiny man (or vice-versa) and wonder if their kids were adopted or what.   That’s just not nice of me, but I can’t help wondering.  I like men with a little meat on them- but I have a hard time imagining doing wild things with guys who weigh more than my car.

Kids might blow fruit flavored cereal milk out their noses when they finally get it that the feral cats out front are not “wrestling” but making the next generation of kittens.  Cat sex does come across more like fighting than anything else, which really makes me wonder how there can be so many cats if the kitten-making process is so terrible.

I will say that old people have to put aside the Kama Sutra and get real.  Half of the positions in that book are physically impossible for  25 year olds,  let alone those of us with a lot more years on those stiff and crunchy joints.  The question you have to ask before doing much of anything is, “How do I do this in a way that I won’t dislocate a hip or snap a wrist?”  Then you just give up because it just doesn’t seem to be worth all the effort, and besides, it’s time for Cops, or Dr. G, or Smoking Gun Presents. And don’t even think of bothering me if Dirty Jobs is on.  Mike Rowe is hot, hot, hot.

I’ve always been one who lives more on the vicarious side- it keeps me out of trouble.  I don’t need any trouble, and watching other people screw up is a lot funnier than actually screwing  up myself.  Perhaps I stay up in the ivory tower a tad too much, but I don’t like to be too exposed and I don’t really want to share my vulnerabilities because I have so many.

I know my pathetic lack of courage and extreme risk avoidance behavior keep me from having very much fun.  Safe is safe, but not usually fun.

I am going to have to get tough on Jerry’s forays to the hell hole.  I know that technically I am enabling his drinking and gambling by giving him rides home.  If he is dumb enough to walk over there to begin with he can stagger home.  I also should never bring him money over there even though I know if I don’t he will go medieval on my ass.  I don’t like pissing him off, but it’s high time he grows up.  Drinking lost its charm for me when I woke up in the Campbell House motel room bathtub with a half-eaten Domino’s Pizza on the ledge.  That was 1993 and I was 24.  I never cared for gambling so that was never an issue for me, but still.   Jerry will be 53 in April.  High time to pull his head out of his ass.

I shouldn’t give Jerry the satisfaction of letting his shitty and stupid behavior depress me either.  I know that plain, boring and poor women like me end up with men from the shallow end of the gene pool.  As Meatloaf so aptly put it, “there ain’t no Coupe deVille in a Cracker Jack box.”  Shit, there ain’t even an old hoopdy Hyundai.  Even so, I know even though I am plain, boring and poor I can live without a man- especially one as high maintenance as Jerry- quite nicely.  In fact in many ways better because I wouldn’t have to worry about doing things for him that he’s too stupid and/or lazy to do for himself.  On days like today, when Jerry is showing his ass and acting even more stupid than usual, the thought of moving in my grandma’s old house and paying the expenses for Dad sounds really good.  That is, until I think about the hundred miles a day I would end up driving so I could get to work.  I also wonder if I would find it creepy or a comfort to live in the house my grandparents lived in for almost 70 years.  I think I would find it a comfort but who knows?  Just being in Marion dredges up a lot of memories that are better left undisturbed, and a lot of old ghosts wander about there.

Living in Marion wouldn’t be terribly expensive but there’s no suitable employment for me there.   I like where I work for the most part and I’ve been there ten years.  I do know if I were to stay in Columbus on my own that the only living arrangements I could afford would be in the ghetto.  Grandma’s house is in a rough part of Marion too but oh, well.  I don’t want to have to do that but I don’t have to take shit either.

I have mused on the subject before and more than likely my stupid soft heart will prevail.  I shouldn’t feel sorry for him.  I should leave. But something always ends up holding me back even though it doesn’t make sense.

Passive-aggressive revenge sounds so inviting at times like this.  A part of me really wants to make him pay for the stupid shit he does- especially when drinking and gambling are involved.  I wish I could give him a good ass whipping or something to make him learn better but there is nothing I can do except to step back and let him learn from his own dumb ass mistakes if that is possible.  I am quickly losing what little hope I ever had of that.

Misanthropy, Cynicism and Sarcasm- With a Hint of Mint!

One of my favorite sayings is, “Intelligence is a constant, the population is growing.”  If I knew to whom I should attribute this piece of wisdom I would attribute it accordingly, but sadly I don’t.  

The more I deal with the public at large I hate to say it but the more misanthropic, cynical and sarcastic I get toward the state of humanity.  If I recall correctly back in the day either people weren’t so bloody stupid or maybe I was less observant.  Perhaps my perception includes a bit of both factors: more stupidity and I have a heightened sensitivity to it. 

I won’t necessarily blame public education- the state of the educational system was rather dismal even back in the 80’s.  Ah, the Big 80’s, when everyone was getting laid but me, and when I was drawing on my notebooks to stay awake through classes taught by former draft-dodgers who spent their college years tuned out and still tripping on LSD.  You could always tell who the former draft-dodgers were.  Usually their clothing was about ten years out of style, and they always had long hair and/or badly groomed facial hair.    Any dude wearing a leisure suit after 1980 or thereabouts was a dead giveaway, especially dudes wearing said leisure suits with white tube socks and brown shoes.  They were the ones who would ask me to write or spell words on the board or better yet, who would sit behind the desk and read the chapter in a sullen monotone in lieu of actually teaching a lesson.  Some of my best artwork came out of those classes. 

I can spot a slacker a mile away largely because I perfected the art of slacking in high school.  It is regrettable but true that I really only studied for the math classes I abhorred.  I never had the mindset for higher math and frankly I am glad I don’t encounter very much algebra or geometry in day to day life.  In every other subject I got exemplary grades for doing nothing more than doing the assigned work  (usually in class) and taking the tests.  This left me with a lot of fart off time- usually consumed by drawing, reading according to my personal interests, and hanging out with the few friends I had- the ones who hung out with me because I had a car and they didn’t.

Not all of my teachers were draft dodgers, thankfully, but you could tell the ones that were. Most of the draft dodgers had taken education in college because it was one of the easiest courses to pass, and these guys obviously were not rocket scientists.  Most of these guys, if not for the threat of getting their heads blown off or worse in Vietnam, would have never set foot in a college and would have been quite fine with beccming roofers or factory workers.  

There was also a phenomenon during the Vietnam years where college courses were intentionally dumbed-down by academic anti-war activists, so if a person could pay the tuition and show up they could pass.  Presumably the mindset was if the courses were painfully easy,  fewer people would flunk out and more people would avoid the draft.

The problem is that the dumbing-down never stopped.

One of my major complaints about higher education is that such institutions seem to care more about the money than the education.  Some universities seem to care more about their freaking sports programs than whether or not their students are literate.  I believe anyone with enough money and enough persistence to slog through the system can acquire any degree they want whether they have the actual intellect and ability to earn it or not.  I know too many educated idiots- people who have very expensive pieces of paper but absolutely no common sense or critical thinking ability. 

Stupidity observes the trickle-down effect.  When the nation’s higher learning institutions are churning out “graduates” who would be doing good to operate a roll of toilet paper, why do we expect children to actually learn anything worthwhile in school?  I’m sure that kids are learning all about Jennifer’s two mommies, and how you mustn’t talk about what you learned in Sunday School in class ’cause you might offend the Muslim kid, and how global warming is going to kill all the forest animals.  I wonder if they are learning anything practical, such as how to make change- or how to read and study the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?

I am surprised Steve-o escaped the public education system remarkably anti PC.  Then again, he has a brain, and he was lucky enough to have a few teachers who are a part of the conservative underground.  I know I had some excellent teachers as well but I am sure today the really good teachers are discouraged.  There is no way on planet Earth that I could endure the crap that teachers have to take and I know I could not knowingly pass on the lies that they are required to teach.  I know that if I had to deal with kids I would have to have the authority to enforce rules up to and including corporal punishment, and there is no way I could put aside my conscience to teach concepts I know are just plain morally wrong.

I don’t think the educational system would ever have gotten to such a sorry state if parents actually gave a rat’s ass regarding what their kids learn.  Sometimes what kids learn in school is dead wrong.  How many parents challenge that?  How many parents give their kids the correct information and how many parents fill in the blanks?  From what I see, not too many.

I am glad that I have spent so much time in independent learning even though no university will give me a high dollar piece of paper for the knowledge I have gleaned.  Admittedly I don’t know nearly as much as I would like to, and there is no end to the learning going on in the School of the Burned Hand.