Tag Archives: this is why I don’t go out

Do You Work Here?

I’m back to school this week. Time is short. Nerves are frayed. Free time is nearly nonexistent.

So, a lack of posts lately. Sorry about that. But here’s a quickie for today:

I’m on my way to work yesterday morning. Shirt and tie, because that’s how I roll (and yes, in several rooms full of teachers preparing for the upcoming year, I was the ONLY guy wearing a tie). And because I’m running early, and because, as the theater teacher, I have been given an unholy jumble of keys to contend with, I decide to stop off at the Wal-Mart to get some key labels. (Yeah, I know, Wal-Mart. It’s the only place I know that sells these things.)

So I go in, but it’s laid out differently from the Wal-Mart closer to my house, so I’m wandering the aisles looking for the key doodads. It’s taking a while. As I’m walking, trying to avoid human contact (because that’s what you do in a Wal-Mart: who knows what communicable diseases are lurking on the clientele), I notice this guy stalking me. I round a corner by the housewares, he’s there. I double back somewhere around the fishing lures, he’s there.

Finally, he approaches me. “Do you work here?”

For some reason, I get asked this all the time, doubly so when I’m in a shirt and tie. (Though why anybody would suspect a Wal-Mart employee of wearing a shirt and tie is beyond me.) I give the polite get-the-fargo-away-from-me smile. “I don’t, sorry.”

The guy looks at me oddly and walks away.

I still can’t find the key thingamajigs, so I’m still wandering, and somewhere around the power tools, I see him out of the corner of my eye, birddogging me again. I take another turn down yet another aisle (seriously, where the hell are the key flibberdijibbits?), and wham, there he is.

“Hey man,” he asks me with a hint of desperation in his voice, “are you sure you don’t work here?”

I mean, let’s analyze here. What could possibly be the thinking that would make him ask me again? That I do work here, but was just lying to get him to leave me alone (which I might do if I did, but I don’t), and that I will now be convinced to help him out because, hey, sorry, you got me? That I work here, but I’d just forgotten, and have now been reminded thanks to my anonymous stalker? My brain lights up with a pinball machine as I’m trying to figure this out.

I finally shake my head. “No, man. I told you, I don’t work here.”

He shakes his head, looks a little lost. “It’s just that I’m looking for this guy, he’s supposed to work here, I thought he’d be in this section.”

I’m past being polite. “Hey, I dunno what to tell you. I can’t help you.”

Again, that odd look — like maybe he thinks I’m gonna unzip my skin and underneath I’ll be this guy he’s looking for — and he shuffles off.

Thankfully, I find the key doohickies around the next corner.

I am still trying to figure out what the hell went on in this guy’s head to get him to ask me twice.

Probably drugs.

Jury Doody


It’s not that I mind getting the summons for jury duty.  This is something we must all face sooner or later.  No, what bothers me — and I’m going to go on a limb and say it bothers me not even as English teacher, but as a human — is that on this letter, which goes out to literally thousands of people in the community monthly, is a typo so obvious and egregious that I think my high school students could spot it.

Using “who’s” when you meant to use “whose”?  Scrub city.  For that matter…


It may be hard to read in this picture, but that sentence positively makes my brain boil.  If you can’t read it there, it reads:

I hereby affirm that I am a: a full-time student at a college, university, vocational school, or other postsecondary school who, during the period of time the student is enrolled and taking classes or exams.

Is it a subject/verb agreement error?  A misplaced modifier?  This one, I think, falls into the category of scratch the whole thing and try again.  Is it too much to ask that if I’m going to be summoned to do my civic duty — which I am happy to do! — that the means of the summons at least make sense in the language we will presumably use for the service?


That Time I Overheard a Jerk in a Restaurant and Learned a Lesson About Writing

It’s odd how one little detail, left out of a situation, can completely change your read on it.  Or, to cut in the opposite direction, how you can think you have a handle on what’s going on, and then you learn something new about what’s happening, and all of a sudden you feel like a horrible sharknadoheel for thinking a certain way, or maybe you feel totally vindicated.

The wife and I went to dinner while the grandparents kept the kids for the evening.  Sidenote: when I say dinner, for us that means we hit the restaurant at about 4:30.  I know, we might as well be geriatrics, but when your kid’s bedtime is at seven, you have to rethink the way you live your life.  So it’s 4:30, and we’re at dinner at a nice little pasta place we like where there’s tacky 90’s stereotypical Italian decor and they serve you way too much food so you eat leftovers for two days afterward.  Because it’s 4:30, we have the place almost to ourselves, so we get served quick and we eat quick, which is nice, because having a two-year-old has left me unable to savor a meal; all I know how to do anymore is shovel foodstuffs into my beak while my mind wanders to the sprout and whether or not he’s likely to get into mortal danger before I can swallow a half-chewed mouthful.  But the kids aren’t there so we actually get to focus on each other and the ambiance, a really rare treat.

I don’t know if it’s my inclination as a writer that makes me such a shameless eavesdropper or if I’m just a jerk, but while we’re at dinner this other couple comes in and I immediately start with the judging.  There’s nothing special to say about her, but he is a paunch-bellied, unshaven slob, and that biases me against him before he opens his mouth.  To be fair, this restaurant isn’t the swankiest of joints, so there’s no dress code, but, come on.  Call me old-fashioned, but if you’re taking your wife / girlfriend / main squeeze to a dinner that’s gonna cost more than ten bucks a plate, maybe don’t dress like you just came from a World of Warcraft marathon session in your mom’s basement? Continue reading

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