City Answers Plea to Not Allow Stinkpots on the Bus

It appears that my petitions to the city have finally been heard.

As usual, I waited for the bus this morning with a handful of strangers. Not as usual, I forgot my cell phone and reading material making it necessary to just stand there and pretend I am not staring at people.

There was an extremely small gamey-looking guy who was short enough to be a midget or a child of seven. But at closer look, he had perfectly proportioned body parts to his head disqualifying a midget title. And peeking out at me from his soiled tank top was white fuzzy back hair, hopefully eliminating him as a kid. Another gentleman was almost as tall as the traffic lights with a huge nose and pants that were three sizes too small. His other oddities included tiny hands and ears. He was with his girlfriend who was dressed in all Black Hawks attire. Oh yeah. Hat, tube socks to the knee, plastic red earrings that read, “Stanley Cup 2010 Champions,” and an oversized quilted jacket despite the heat. I wanted to tell her the rally was last month but didn’t have the heart.

Just as I was going to ask when the circus got in to town, the bus loomed up behind a garbage truck and I focused on the job of finding my fare card.  When the bus doors opened, I stepped up and passed through what looked like  a metal detector before swiping my fare card. My first thought was…gee, it really is getting more dangerous in this city. But as I passed through, a computerized voice said, “Admissible.”   Weird.  As I headed to the back of the bus I heard, “Very smelly… Not admissible,” and turned to see the bus driver ask the little fella to get off the bus.  The Hawks fan and her giant made it through, the bus driver closed the doors and we jolted on our way.  Still unseated and in the aisle, my head spun back at the little fella still on the curb shaking his fist and yelling something. Holy crap. What just happened?

Then I remembered. About a month ago, I sent a letter and 452,675 signatures to the Mayor’s office petitioning they should do something about the Lawrence bus. I sent video’s and pictures. I drew diagrams of seat configurations. I spent weeks putting the evidence together but really believed that it was all just an exercise to vent. I didn’t think anyone would actually do something about my complaint.

Fast forward back to this morning. I was so overwhelmed by mixed feelings of confusion and excitement of being heard. I started to fantasize the mayor going through his mail and after reading my letter, calling an emergency meeting! I was so dazed I nearly missed what happened at the next stop.

A woman with her baby asked the driver to lower the bus ramp. The driver did and as she passed through the smell detector backwards dragging the stroller, we all heard, “admissible,” followed immediately by “unchanged diaper – not admissible.” She was told to get off the bus and we watched another rejected passenger eat our exhaust. At the next stop, the detector sniffed out another stinker, but this time the fella refused to get off the bus. A seemingly dignified man in a business suit, he protested he had every right to enter as a pre-paid fare card passenger. The driver explained the new rules and the smell detector, “If you got gas, you ain’t gonna pass!” This slogan brought giggles from some teen boys in the back of the bus. The man persisted angrily he be able to board. “Look man, it smells like you just have gas. Step off the bus, air yourself out and try  to get through again.” The man agreed to this idea and hopped down. We all watched him pull on his pants and flap his suit jacket up and down a few dozen times. Then he ran around in a little circle and re-boarded. “Admissible.” One of the passengers applauded and Mr. Farty Pants made his way to his seat. One of the kids in the back yelled, “Hey man, what if he farts again!?” To this, the bus driver announced that all seats were equipped with detectors and any questionable smell would trigger the seats to eject it’s passenger and fold up. The kids in the back seemed amenable with this strategy and we all watched Mr. Farty Pants successfully seat himself with no issues. Whew.

At our next stop, a woman was rejected for too much perfume. The following stop, a very clean-looking man was rejected for bringing aboard  his potluck offering for the office. “Smelly rolled cabbage. Not admissible.” We, the clean smelling passengers, leaned forward and were engaged with every stop. The kids in the back began betting who would be rejected and for what reason. “I’ll bet that old guy just crapped his pants!…That guy looks like he ate a dead mule last night!”

I guess the city is doing a test run with just the Lawrence bus. Hopefully it will not slow the route down too much and they will be able to implement on all of the busses. Maybe even the trains. Maybe they could add them to the security at airports!

The opportunities are endless.

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Filed under Black Hawks, Public Transportation

She Did?

Have you ever been so numb by a comment that was made, that you miss your opportunity to respond appropriately and end up obsessing about it? It happened to me yesterday at the bus stop.

There is a girl of about 27 or maybe 30 who I see sometimes at the stop. I don’t know her name, but our silence was broken one day when a little dog came out of nowhere and ran into the street. We suddenly had concern for the dog in common and were talking about it. Eventually he ran down the block and we got on the bus saying no more to each other that day.

Yesterday, at the bus stop, she immediately addressed me. She said she hoped “that dog” was OK. I agreed as she plopped down next to me on the bench (I knew I shouldn’t have sat on). I didn’t notice the week before, but she is a classic close-talker. Face and body way too close than necessary. I moved over mentioning that I was giving her more room and do you know what she did…? Yeah, she moved closer. Luckily the bus came and I could get up before she was on my lap – making mental note to never sit on a public bench again.

I boarded, sat down, began to put my fare card away and the girl sat down right next to me again. Apparently, I was so unhinged by how close she was a few seconds ago, I didn’t notice that she was in the middle of telling me a story.

“So when Roger called me and asked me if I wanted the dog, I told him he knew I had no room for a dog in my little apartment…” Once again, I was paralyzed by how close she was and had to force myself to remember that the ride will be only 15 minutes. I could keep my head forward and nod. I finally listened enough to learn that Roger is her boyfriend and he is abusing her when he was angry – verbally and physically. Now hooked, I asked her why she didn’t break up with him. “Roger and me did break up. That’s why we have different apartments now.” Frustrated that she wasn’t piecing together an organized story for me, I asked her if she was still seeing him after their split. “Well… yeah. I guess so.”

I told her I would kill anyone who treated my sister (or anyone I loved) that way. And do you know what she said…?

“Well, just between us girls, I did.” Then she put her finger to her lips and said very quietly, “Shhhhh.” My eyes locked with hers finally and I hung in an out-of-body moment where everything felt quiet and slow.  Then her head bolted around and she said it was her stop, yanked the chain in time for the driver to screech us to a halt and she jumped off.

She did…what? I keep repeating my sentence and the only action I mentioned was killing. We toss the word “kill” around all the time… I could kill him for being late. Did you see the Bulls game last night? They got killed! Would I really kill someone for harming someone I loved? I’d like to think I would not, but my brain is racing with what I may know. Do I call the police? I don’t even know her name. I don’t know where she lives or where Roger lives. If I do tell the police, will she kill me too? If I don’t tell the police, am I an accomplice? Or did she mean something else when she said she “did”? Maybe she thought I said I would cook for anyone who harmed my sister…

I hope I see her tomorrow at the bus.  But mostly, I hope I never see her again.

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Filed under Break up, love, my ex-boyfriend

Cheap or Broke?

I’ll be short on this one. I feel a little guilty talking about it aloud anyway. Isn’t there always one friend – in the various groups you swing with – who absolutely never brings anything to the party. I first noticed it with Bob 15 years ago, when he showed up at my party without anything. I thought …well, he’s young and single and maybe hasn’t had a nice girl to teach him party guest etiquette 101… Rule One: if you’re going to drink 2 bottles of wine at the party and consume most of the artichoke dip and brie cheese…maybe think about bringing a very nice bottle or any bottle for the host. My friend, Donna, once showed up with 3-buck chuck and I thought it was just fine. In fact, once everyone seemed to not be leaving anytime soon and I was running low on my mid-range $10 bottle of whatever, I popped that baby open and no one knew for the better.

As the years have gone on, Bob’s dated nice gals and they would sometimes bring something, but never Bob. And certainly not after the various break up’s. Of course, we don’t think these gals are breaking up with Bob because he doesn’t bring a bottle or host gift. And who knows. Maybe Bob brings something to everyone else’s parties and I said something years ago that might have indicated I don’t accept a party offering. Come on.

Each time it happens, I vow to never bring a thing to his house, but his next party presents itself and I come with an appetizer, plenty of wine and am really happy to do it. All the angst is gone…until my next party. I can see me writing to Dear Abbey and her response…Have you tried to talk with “Bob,” about this? Perhaps mention that you really are hurt from his lack of…. NO, Dear Abbey. Who do you think all of the rest of the people on the other side of your news paper article are? We only dream about talking about things. I wonder how often you sit down with each of your long time friends and let them know what irks you occasionally. In fact, who do you write letters to when you have a question about etiquette? You can’t know everything. I’m getting off the subject.

Back to Bob. I guess I can deal with it longer if I’ve dealt with it this long. And honestly, it’s only recent that I began to really notice it kind of bothers me. And I am finding out that everyone has one of these “Bob’s” in their group of friends. They’re the same ones that ask to divvy up the bill at dinner according to what everyone ate/drank rather just divide it evenly amongst the group…”I just had a salad so here is ten dollars.” Either these people are broke or cheap.

I really like Bob, so I’ll end this and consider it out of my system… Until my next party.

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Filed under 70's, Today's

An Awkward Black Hawks Party Sunday Afternoon

 

Amazing. 

I got an invite to a friend’s house to watch the Black Hawks take on the Sharks Sunday. Despite regular visits to Canada, I am not a hockey fan. But growing up in Chicago, you are entitled to be a temporary fan when your home team is winning. So when Rob sent the email, I thought it would be a safe place to watch history happen and opportunity to catch up with my old pal from high school. Sure thing, Rob! What can I bring? 

Rob and I were close friends when we went to Glenbard East High School a long time ago. Never dated, but we confided in each other and had a similar sense of humor. As years have gone by we reconnected here and there, but now it’s effortless with social media and people throwing their status around like cheap meat. Rob is laying by the pool…Rob is going to Tuscon…Rob just baked cookies!!..Rob is now Single. 

I met Rob’s girlfriend a couple times. She looked like a rock star’s model girlfriend, but with an incredible lisp. “Ith thoe nithe to meet you!” I could never tell if Rob was embarrassed or just didn’t hear it. Love is blind, right? Or deaf. Anyway, the thing that mattered was Rob seemed very happy, she seemed genuine, and God Bless him for overlooking something I would be immature and dump someone over. They moved into Rob’s condo after a mere 6 months of dating and all signs pointed towards that positive marriage path.  Pictures were posted monthly with smiles and obvious fun in the back ground. I heard less and less from Rob, but that’s what happens when your guy friends get a lady friend. 

Getting back to Sunday, Rob agreed I could bring some wine and appetizers. He also agreed I could bring my friend Amanda. Amanda recently had a break up as well, but seemed to be in a good place with it. When we arrived at Rob’s, I remembered too late that he likes to kiss on the lips. He even hugged Amanda, but she didn’t seem to mind. After a quick catch up, I asked for the kitchen so I could prep my appetizers. As Rob showed me down the hall, I became aware that there was a lot of noise coming from the kitchen. At first I thought other guests were preparing food until I was standing there with my mouth open staring at his ex-girlfriend on the floor packing in her jammies. Rob actually stepped over her box and said, “Carol, you remember my friend, Jane.” More of a statement than a question, she nodded and gave me a half smile. “Good to thee you again.” 

The door bell rang and Rob excused himself to get the door nervously. In the next few moments, I decided I was in a terrible situation. So was Amanda and whoever was at the door. As loud male voices are heard from the living room, I asked if I would be in her way if I set up a cheese board. “Thute  yourthelf, Rob doeth’nt have a board. That wath mine and ith packed.” Thankfully, Rob rushed back in and got me a plate and a few knives. I brought everything back into the living room to set up there and left Rob alone with Carol. As Amanda chatted up the testosterone in the room, I sat quietly putting out my Stilton, aged Gouda and Stinking Bishop.  Poor Carol. She looked like she hadn’t showered or even washed her face yet today. What the hell, Rob. 

And then it struck me. Not only was this a nasty surprise party for Carol in her jammies, but he allowed us to be pawns in his relationship drama. 

The thing is, Rob isn’t that smart. I mean, he’s smart enough to do a job and have friends and can be clever occasionally with a joke, but he doesn’t have the brain to orchestrate something like this. He would go unconscious if someone asked him to plan this. Back in high school, when he confided in me about something sad in his life, it was almost like you needed a pull string in his back before he’d speak.  Yep, my guess is he had no idea she would be packing today, but when he saw her in the kitchen wrapping wine glasses in paper and assembling boxes, he didn’t know how to ask if she could wait or how long it would take her to finish. He let the afternoon spiral into this mess. 

Rob rejoined us in the living room, avoiding eye contact with me. I could still hear Carol banging things around but after we all settled into a conversation about Amanda’s new cottage in Door County, she seemed to calm down and was more careful. For a few minutes, I thought this might work out. Maybe Rob found his voice and apologized to Carol. Or maybe he offered to finish up for her later. Rob’s buddy, Tom was sharing his Memorial Day weekend plans when we all heard the distinctive sound of champagne being popped in the kitchen. Tom continued speaking, but Rob stood up looking confused. Then he shot down the hall to the kitchen. 

Have you ever heard couples fight in public? They try to keep their voices down, but can’t help but snarl and raise their voices slightly. We all sat quiet quietly waiting for someone to remember what we were talking about, but couldn’t help hear that the bottle she opened was the bottle of Vueve Cliquet they were saving for a special occasion. “Thith ITH a spethal occasion! I finally don’t have to thleep on a futon anymore, you cheap inthenthitive bastard.”  Rob returned after uttering something low to Carol and was all smiles… “Sorry guys! Drama!” I told Rob I thought it wasn’t a great time to visit. He completely misread my discomfort and told me Carol was fine and not to worry. I decided to go. Amanda stood up too after exchanging cards with Tom. I remembered I had laid down my sweater in the kitchen and excused myself to get it. There was Carol, still packing, but with a huge clear tumbler of bubbly. She said she was sorry about everything and asked how you split a bottle of wine? I told her I was sorry too. I wanted to tell her to just take all the wine, but instead gave a sympathy smile  and wished her good luck. 

On the drive home, I thought about a break up I had years ago and how painful packing was. Empty frames, yard sale treasures, even a stupid chip & dip bowl, Perfume bottles nearly have to go in the trash. To this day, I still want to heave when I smell White Linen.  But a break up is necessary no matter how you look at it. If things aren’t right now, they won’t fix themselves magically after the kids and mortgage come. My guess is Rob and Carol were unhappy for a while and should have pulled the plug a while ago. Maybe she tried but didn’t know about the pull string on his back. Even with his handicap, relationship problems breed low self-esteem and  I know it’s hard to discuss them when you’re in them.

I also think if I’m invited to a live show again, I prefer a comedy.

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Filed under Black Hawks, Break up, my ex-boyfriend, Uncategorized

Bob Got Fired Today

I shouldn’t let my first blog be about Bob, but I have to.  Bob got fired today. Or laid off or whatever they are calling it nowadays. Downsizing.  He was our Office Manager and oversaw about 10 people who clean the office or deliver mail and sit at Reception.

I have to say that I didn’t really like Bob.  He’s the kind of guy that, if he thinks you like him, he never leaves your cubicle. Once you’ve been in the office world for about ten years, you can generally identify the people you want to stay away from within your first week; the office slut, the backstabbers, the nosey freaks that want to know if you’re recycling properly, the slackers who just want to plan happy hour, or the dorks from high school who look at Corporate America as their second chance to be cool and have a lot of people like them. That’s Bob.  The girl who sits across from me, Brooke, made the mistake of bonding with him on her first week and every day he comes back and repeats the same joke she laughed at back then.  Lucky me gets to hear it too!  On Halloween, Bob came in a full bear costume his wife made. He walked around the place like he was a celebrity giggling nervously and soaking in as much attention as a man could. He said the whole family had the same costume and would go out trick-or-treating after supper! Don’t get me wrong, I like enthusiasm. But I don’t know how he got any of his work done. That day, on Halloween, we had a water pipe break in the office above us and he was in charge of evacuating and trying to clean up the mess and call up the electrician. He looked ridiculous, his face sweating make up and his bear suit all soaked.

Another irksome office moment is if you needed something like …a bunch of steno pads for a meeting or extra paper for the clip board in the conference room, you had to go find him. And if he was at his desk, you’d have the pain of looking at the latest family vacation photo he brought in. As if the sight of his cubicle wasn’t enough to give you a heart attack with all of his toys and company swag.

Anyway, back to today. About two weeks ago, someone had the idea to do a retro potluck. Everyone who wanted to be a part of it was encouraged to bring something their mom made while growing up. They called it “That 70’s Potluck.” About 27 people signed up and of course, it’s all Bob has talked about for the past 11 days because he played such an important role in it. He was organizing how many crock pots would need an electric socket and folding tables and enough chairs and ice for soda’s… Bob was in hysterics if you signed up and hadn’t told him what you were bringing yet. Poor Brooke got a visit everyday on the subject. And finally today came…

The office began to be smelly at around 10 o’clock with the large assortment of crock pots bubbling in the executive board room. It was really hard to work hearing everyone running around and people being paged by Bob. And then I saw him… Bob showed up for work today in polyester bell bottoms, a big afro, Elvis sun glasses, 6 inch platform shoes and a shirt that looked like the same pattern of my grandmother’s couch growing up. I know he was waiting for a reaction, but I couldn’t give anything. I ducked into my cube hoping he wouldn’t follow me.

About 45 minutes later, everyone hears Bob being paged every 2 minutes for about 20 minutes. And then it was quiet, which made me think maybe everyone was finally settling into work…uh, the real reason we’re all here. After a while I noticed it was really quiet. Too quiet. I stood up and prairie-dogged to see what was going on. Something was amiss.  Most people seemed to be gathered in offices or in the kitchen or the board room. I kept standing there dumb-founded until I saw Bob come out of the CFO’s office.  It wasn’t hard to see him because of the platform shoes and the shirt. His head was down and was walking  my way. I sat down wondering what was going on until he sprung past me and headed to the back corner of the office where his cube was. I stood up again and saw him collecting things and grabbing stuff under his desk. It was very hurried and all the while, his afro was bouncing around. Then he walked into to board room. I  heard some rumbling of conversation and then Bob walked out with his crock pot, obviously hot and grabbed garbage bags and a box of things from his desk and made his way towards me again. I sat down again until he passed and then shot up again. This time, I noticed that the HR intern was following him and holding his huge key ring. Bob was fired.

I sank down in my chair stunned and very still. I could feel the office getting noisy again and even a laugh, which made me sick. How could Bob be fired? And on top of it, why would anyone want to fire someone seated across from them in a fake afro, bell bottoms and their knees up to his chest because of  his shoes. What is more annoying? Bob or the tact used in his discharge?

As I continued to sit there in my cube I thought about that Halloween day when the water leaked through our ceilings and remembered the worried look in Bob’s eyes. Pure distraught. And that day I knew it wasn’t about the water leak, but that his Halloween was ruined and his wife would probably kill him for ruining the costume. His kids would be disappointed. I began to think about what it would be like for Bob to come home early today and how he would tell them he lost his job. I wondered if his family were nicer people than me and saw him as a hero and a happy guy and not just some annoying boob who won’t stop talking.

It’s nearly quitting time and the potluck is over, the office stinks of more than just chipped beef and tuna noodle casserole. I feel awful in a million different ways and don’t think I’ll feel better any time soon. I do know that the next “Bob” that comes into my life will get at least a thumbs up now and then. Or maybe an extra minute longer looking at his photos from Disneyland.

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Filed under 70's, Bob Got Fired, fired, layoff, potluck, That 70's