Posts Tagged ‘stupid people

30
Jan
11

Here, kitty, kitty…

Thursday afternoon, on my way to the post office, I passed the fenced-in front grounds of a Catholic school in my neighborhood. The school day was over, so I was surprised to hear a woman’s voice inside the fence over the sound of my headphones.

She held the leashes of two dogs with one hand and her phone with the other. The dogs seemed agitated and restless, but she ignored them, carrying on as if she were talking to a girlfriend about her date last weekend or a sale at the Acme.

Ten paces further I saw a group of people clustered around a tree, each of them looking upward. None of them was wearing a coat, despite the snow and the cold. Glancing upward myself, I saw a cat, totally exposed in the leafless upper branches.

Two teenage girls were calling up to the cat, who seemed to be in no mood to come down. They held something up to it. It was white. It looked like a snowball, but I assumed it must be something else. Surely they were trying to coax it down with with something that would actually attract it.

“She’s scared. She senses the dogs nearby,” someone said.

No kidding. The dogs are as plain as day, and no more than 30 feet away. I guess it’s good that the woman is holding her dogs back, I thought, but as long as they’re there, whining and yipping, that cat is going to stay put. Doesn’t anyone watch cartoons?

Continue reading ‘Here, kitty, kitty…’

Advertisements
10
Sep
10

In Defense of “The Media”

It’s tiresome to see so many people blame The Media for blowing this Terry Jones thing up into something bigger than it should be. As if The Media is some sort of insidious, evil force desperate to manipulate reality. It’s such a cheap, thoughtless and simplistic cop-out. The Media. What does that even mean?

Continue reading ‘In Defense of “The Media”’

16
Aug
10

Fear the Schmear

The New York Post can be always be relied upon to deliver the important stories of the day that really make a difference in our harried, overcomplicated lives, such as this nugget about a woman who got tossed out of a Starbucks by the cops after getting into an argument with a barista about the way she was ordering a bagel. (It’s a biggie. It took a team of three reporters to cover it.)

She asked for a “toasted multigrain bagel,” and when the barista asked if she wanted butter or cheese on it, she dug her heels in the dirt and refused to specify or say “neither.” To her way of thinking, there was  no need to use their weird lingo.

“When you go to Burger King,” she told the Post, “you don’t have to list the six things you don’t want.”

No, lady, but when you go to Burger King, you don’t order a flame-grilled quarter-pound hamburger sandwich with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, mustard and ketchup on a sesame seed bun, either. You order a “Whopper.” You use the conventions of the fast-food place you’re in. We all feel like assholes when we order a chalupa, but that’s what Taco Bell calls it. We can’t be responsible for the fool who named it. Just suck it up, and move on. There’s a line behind you.

Continue reading ‘Fear the Schmear’

10
Feb
10

Philly’s Snow Panic Brings out the Best and Worst

Over the recent weekend, Philadelphia got its second-worst snowfall ever (since they started keeping such records in the early 19th century). If forecasts are correct and we get another foot or more today, we’ll be on track to break a record for annual snowfall.

So, we pull on our boots and dig ourselves out.

With only 14 feet of sidewalk in front of our house, it’s no big deal to shovel and salt our walk and the neighbors’ on either side. On Sunday, half a dozen people on the block took up their shovels and started hacking at our tiny, narrow street. There’s no chance of getting a plow around the corner, so it’s down to us.

There was some real community spirit out there for a few minutes. I didn’t know anyone’s name, and we didn’t even all speak the same language, but we all had a common purpose. Kids were bouncing around like puppies. Neighbors were talking.

There are not many places you can shift two and a half feet of snow. There’s only so much room between the snowed-in cars parked along one side. We were forced to dump a lot of it on the curbs, knowing we’d have to tidy up the sidewalks again.

And then the daisy chain was broken.

Continue reading ‘Philly’s Snow Panic Brings out the Best and Worst’

24
Apr
09

Last One’s a Rotten Egg

Once, when we were stopped in a traffic jam on the New Jersey Turnpike, I saw a line of cars peeling off of the left lane, passing through a space in the median and entering into the opposing traffic on the other side, just to avoid whatever was causing the slow-down — until a state trooper pulled up in the vicinity and spoiled the fun. Unassisted he was able to stop two vehicles and issue tickets. Naturally, no one attempted the maneuver after this. Forty people must have made that illegal turnaround, but the last two got stopped.

I think episodes like this justify my inability or unwillingness to make a decision. Just ride it out, no matter how bad the accident ahead my be, because the alternative could be met with sirens and flashing lights.

Or… Just make the decision sooner.

11
Apr
09

Rat Race to Nowhere

It is morning rush hour, and commuters are coursing through the hallways and platforms like blood-borne pathogens heading for the heart.

A train pulls into the station, its wheels squealing loudly, distinctly. It’s one of the old E trains. A mass of people begins to push through the open doorway before passengers have time to exit. Swimming upstream, the passengers are able to eventually push their way through to freedom.

A guy a couple of people in front of me enters the crowded train and stops in the doorway. He wants to be close to the exit to give himself the greater advantage when he reaches his stop, whenever that may be. There’s nearly room for two abreast to pass through the doorway, and for all he cares, people can just slide past him. It’s not technically a problem, right? Until a second person decides stop in the doorway for the same reason.

I have room to avoid him, but I bump my arm against him and graze him purposefully with my bag. It helps calm me to imagine him dropping and scratching his iPod or getting a smudge on his clothes from leaning against the door.

By and by, we approach my stop. Others, too, are exiting here. I can tell when people ostentatiously begin to stir around me. Several move toward the door. Someone gently nudges me from the side. Maybe it’s an accident; maybe she wants me to move. I take a step closer to the door. I’m getting out here, too. Hold your damn horses. We’re all in a hurry, lady, but don’t you worry. We’ll all get off this train, I promise you.

The doors slide open, and I feel the woman trying to get around me to my left. She is smaller than me, and I can see her black hair as her head comes out around my upper arm. I take a half step to the left, hold my left arm out a little further from my body, and she pushes against me harder. I push harder back, but not enough to stop her. It’s not worth making a fuss. I just want to clarify my existence, hoping I’ll embarrass her for the unnecessary contact. She makes it through the doors before me.

I glare at her as she awkwardly dashes toward the stairs in her uncomfortable shoes, hoping she’ll turn around to see the rude creep who was tying to keep her from getting off the train. Really I’m laughing to myself. We’ll see how far she gets. I continue at a calm pace behind her and dozens of others.

She never does look back, but it delights me to see her swallowed up in a crowd of frantic commuters whose hurry is equal to or greater than hers. In the end, her reward is to be no more than two people ahead of me on the stairs.

On the landing we all veer right to take the escalator to the next level down. There’s a short fence jutting out from the escalator entrance meant to corral us and prevent people from jumping in line in front of others. The desire is for order and forced politeness, and the majority of us is willing to comply. We round the far end of the corral, but two guys slip in through the gap between the far end of the fence and the handrail conveyor belt. They end up right in front of me, craining their necks to find a way past the people in front of them.

The idea is to stand to the right so people can pass on the left. But there are so many people at this time of day, no one is standing to the side. We are all walking down the escalator, and everyone’s progress is slow. The guys try to press past the others, but to no avail.

At the landing, they take off like broncos and meet further resistance when they reach the final set of stairs down to the platform. Again, I end up right behind them.

When my connecting train approaches, I see there are a couple of open seats in the car nearest me. I don’t imagine I’ll be lucky enough to get one of them, but I figure we’ll see what happens. It’s a little like roulette, whether the train stops with a door right in front of you or six feet to your left or right.

This time, I’m one of the first to board. I have a shot at a seat. Someone in front of me is milling about confusedly, and I can’t get by. A woman approaches the seat, and just as she turns to sit, a younger woman wearing all white literally runs up behind her and steals the seat in one swift motion. If the older woman hadn’t noticed, she might have sat on her.

The woman in white glances up for a second. The other woman turns on her adversary and raises her voice for us all to hear. “Oh, I see. You need that seat? Go ahead. There you go, honey. It’s all yours!” Her friend tugs at her arm to discourage her from saying more.

The seat stealer looks at her quietly, blankly and then stares into the space between herself and the floor.

I am filled with something like hatred for her. I want someone else to speak up and say something. I keep my eyes on her for several stops. I wonder if she’s avoiding eye contact with everyone on the train.

After a few stops, the irate woman now long gone, a space opens up next to the woman in white, just a little too small for a person to fit into. But before long another woman turns to present her back side to the row of seated passengers and, without so much as an “excuse me,” wriggles herself into the tight space. She can’t even sit back all the way. This new woman is an obnoxious cow, but I briefly I feel some schadenfreude over the woman in white’s obvious discomfort.

Leaning forward with her oversize purse on her lap, she fumbles with a magazine or newspaper and holds it out in front of her. Forgeting her surroundings, she allows the straps of her bag to flop down to both sides, hitting her neighbors in the face and chest before landing limply in their laps.

It is obviously annoying to the strangers. Every move she makes causes her purse straps to rub against them, but neither of them makes any move to stop it. My allegiance begins to change. Could it be that I have some sympathy for the woman in white? The purse lady is actually worse than she is.

I long for a confrontation. Why do we take such pains to avoid talking to fellow passengers? To avoid touching them? Why do I never make any confrontation?

My exit comes before either of theirs. I never get to see how it ends. But it never really does end. The players in these little scenes of denial only change. They never quit.

04
Feb
09

The ‘M’ Word

The discovery of Tom Daschle’s whopping unpaid tax bill of $146,000 is a big let down to say the least. I always liked Daschle, his goofy red glasses, his cogent and clear-headed leberalism, his class and demeanor as Senate majority leader. I loved that he was respected (dare I say it?) Democrat during the Bush administration. But he is reduced in an instant to a rusty old Washington crony. His specs are cracked and our president’s vision is blurred.

One bright spot in the whole mess was Barack Obama’s admission on half a dozen networks that he made a m— … a mmm— … mmmistake!

“I think it was a mistake. I think I screwed up,” he said.

I nearly choked on my coffee when I heard it on NPR. In the last eight years, I cannot recall a single instance of George W. Bush ever admitting to a mistake. The word never even got stuck in his throat, because it apparently never even entered his mind. Even his press secretaries would infuriatingly admit nothing more than “mistakes had been made,” but no one ever was culpable — except the scapegoats he expelled from his administration after they had done all they could to undermine the will of the people.

I respect a man who knows when he screws up. Whether or not Obama was cornered by the press, whether or not his mea culpa was a calculated move, this signifies a major turn in the conduct of the nation’s highest office. It is a turn toward the light.

But there is still a major problem in Washington. OK, first of all, who are these people not paying taxes? It defies explanation in obvious ways.

And do they seriously think it won’t be discovered? Especially following the scandal around the confirmation of the new treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, who owed $43,000 himself? Daschle probably would have made it through if he hadn’t stepped out of the process, and it’s a good thing he did. But the real kicker is he probably would have been tremendously effective as head of health and human services. We are all losing out here.

There must be a common root to this problem. Why does all this scrutiny happen during the cabinet confirmation process? Why not earlier? Why is their no indication of their “error” until this confirmation process begins? The damage is done when the taxes are not paid, not when the non-payment is discovered.

Maybe some good will come out of all this exposure, and the president will look into some measures to prevent these people from not paying their taxes. Serving in the government is a privilege, not a free pass. How about we set up a new branch of the IRS to go after these people — not the little people like you and me. Let’s guarantee that senators and representatives and other elected Washingtonians are paying their taxes from the beginning? Don’t they count? Certainly they do, and I’m sure there are legions more of these folks, each owing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Getting wind of Daschle’s planned withdrawal, Nancy Killefer, a nominee to a lesser position, chief White House performance officer, pulled out as well because of unpaid taxes on a household employee. I guess she owed no more than $900. Not a big deal. She could write a check right now. But the principle stands, and in this climate she was wise to disentangle herself from the administration.

Let’s hope the others in line for the cabinet wise up and start putting their fellow citizens before their wallets and their careers.

There’s always hope, I guess.




the untallied hours

the tweets

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.