Happy Humbuggery

I haven’t had much time to write in the past week. My job has been a bit on the demanding side what with the caterings for seasonal parties, and the local university’s graduation ceremonies bringing in a couple of thousand extra people into town. All of whom needed a place to have a good meal, most of whom decided that had to happen between five and seven p.m. on Saturday night. I thought I had bulled through it and managed to sleep in on my first day off in a week, but when I awoke  this morning I was introduced to fresh hell that I could no longer put off participating in holiday preparations with the family.

I am neither religious, nor am I a fan of gross consumerism so pretty much the whole holidays thing is lost on me. I am all about good will towards men, so long we’re speaking inclusively about the entire human race. Provided ,of course, that inclusively they leave me to my own devices and don’t go trying to throw any holiday cheer my way. Especially the carollers. I can’t believe we live in world where gangs of roving merry makers are allowed to go around singing at decent hard-working people. What do I pay taxes for, I ask you?

Anyway, the majority of society has these things called holidays. I also have a nine-year old daughter, and as I recall the path to disillusionment and bitterness in adulthood does indeed start with the childhood wonder at the magic of this particular season. In result I am required to do holiday type things. This morning I took her out so she could get her mother a present. To this end my wife is getting a hot glue gun for christmas.

The evening was spent putting together a rather sad little tree purchased at the discount store. Not a real tree of course. I am fairly sure that this one is made from recycled plastics and disappointment. Then, there was the annual sorting of gew gaws so that the could be hung on the skeletal piece of greenery. Nothing glass mind you, because inevitably the damned cat is going to climb up it and knock everything off, and nothing of any significant weight because It would probably make the poor thing look even more depressing. But, it is up and has been sufficiently admired for the time being, and now my family has gone off into separate rooms in order to avoid any uncomfortable togetherness.

So the point of all this is that for the next few weeks I will be busy doing things I do not in general approve of and then moping about how little I have accomplished for the year, and finally making a great deal of overly ambitious and most likely empty promises to myself about the next.

So I hope you had a Happy Monday, and all have a wonderful whatever it is you’re planning on having.

Let’s pick this up again sometime in early January shall we?

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The Coffee Technician

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I posted that thought as it occurred to me, whilst standing in line at local cafe. I was feeling put out because I was stuck behind a slew of meticulously dressed down tattooed scenesters. I was feeling my beard get longer as they cheerfully order their chai lattes, soy milk mochachinnos, and navigating the sandwich menu trying to remove all the joy from the items that weren’t already vegan. The slacker on duty took each order individually and then listlessly went about the motions of making each drink. All the time I stood impatiently annoyed at the needless complexity involved; angrily certain that the whole process could be sped up if the barista would just put some effort into it.

Finally the herd thinned and I was able to approach their comrade behind the counter and order my simple cup of simple, hot, black coffee. It literally took less than a minute for the counter person to dispense it from the air pot and serve it up with a smirk of boredom, and ring me up with a snotty look. I dropped my change in her tip jar and began to walk away.

That’s when it struck me.

It might be me that’s got it all wrong.

This poor beleaguered barista had been selected from all the other job candidates She has spent months if not years practicing making coffee drinks1. Had to be trained to properly tamp down the espresso. It had to take hours to learn to pour just the right amount of foam on a cappuccino. Constantly wrestling with that damned finicky machine to get just the right concentration of water that makes a ristretto well, a ristretto, not just simply an espresso shot. They ceaselessly have to argue with nitpicky hipsters over the difference between a lungo and an americano. I mean, I sure as hell don’t know the difference between a mocha and a mocha breve2. Do you? Not to mention the all the other day-to-day horseshit involved with customer service jobs. I mean this person has dedicated a considerable amount of their time, energy and brainpower to become competent at their job. And here I come, this unenlightened jerk. this smug dipshit who has the temerity to be so basic as to order a fucking cup of house blend, without so much as adding a god damned shot of espresso to make it a red-eye. I’m essentially wasting her fucking time over here.

Feeling like a bit of an ass for being so impatient, I turned back to the counter to throw a little extra in the tip jar by way of silent apology.

And that damned half-wit was too busy staring gaped mouthed at a ceiling fan, fidgeting with her nose ring to notice.


  1.  To be clear once you add anything to it you’re having a coffee drink and not coffee, and that’s fine but let’s just fess up to that and move on. 
  2. Actually I do but, for the purposes of this rant, let’s just pretend. 

A Sign of Evolution

I’m sure I mentioned this before but, I used to smoke.

Like a freakin’ chimney.

At the top of my game I smoked three packs of non-filtered cigarettes a day. But then I realized that I didn’t really have that kind of free time.

When I started smoking, at the completely appropriate age of fourteen years old, it seemed like one of the most socially acceptable vices ever conceived. It was easy to buy smokes with your allowances, because they were cheap and readily available in vending machines. You never got busted, mostly because no one cared.

Me and my buddie, Lefty and Sing-Sing Tommy just killing time outside The Gap. The good old days

Me and my buddies, Lefty and Sing-Sing Tommy just killing time outside The Gap. The good old days

I’m serious, literally not one adult gave a rodents rear-end when they saw kids smoking. At least not enough to do more than grumble about those damned delinquents with nothing better to do but hang around the malls in their black denim jackets smoking cigarettes.

That’s right you could smoke in the mall.

You could smoke pretty much anywhere. In restaurants nonsmokers would huddle in small, cramped separatist camps, the boundaries of their clean little world clearly demarcated by signs on brass poles, open doorways, and (if you were in a real classy joint) velvet ropes. All of seemed things seemed sufficient to ward off dreaded second-hand smoke.

Things started to get a little serious just before the time I was old enough to buy cigarettes legally. Someone shouted, “Think of the children!” and so they got tough on sales to minors. I got carded once or twice but that was easy to get around. Most of the Einsteins they had jockeying registers couldn’t imagine a seventeen year old being ballsy enough to present there driver’s license in expectation that they weren’t going to be paying enough attention to notice he was a minor. Either that or they really sucked at math.240px-No_smoking_symbol

Also I started noticing a lot more of these odd little signs every where.

Flash forward a couple of years and by the time I was in my mid twenties the tables had turned. These signs were practically everywhere and it was smokers being herded to a few scant tables in the dark recesses of local eateries. Gone were the tall sand filled ashtrays that once lined the halls at local shopping centers. My friends and I would constantly complain how it wasn’t fair. We talked with some indignation about some imagined rights of ours being overlooked, ignored, and just plain violated.

Time passed, I grew older. I became a homeless wastrel, faced the harsher realities of life. At some point you see that there is more to existence than when and where you can smoke. So when, after I spent sometime getting my crap together, the state I reside in decided to outlaw smoking in restaurants I didn’t take it as a personal insult. I did think it was dumb that it became a matter of legislation rather than the property owner’s choice but whatever. So it became that you could only smoke outside. Well, except if your standing outside the airport waiting for your ride.

 

No smokes, no gum. Now your screwed

Their really cracking down on this second-hand chewing thing.

Eventually I quit smoking. Not because anyone was making harder to do, because lets face it they’re not. You can still get all the nicotine you want at your corner drugstore.  I quit because it was bad for me and I was tired of doing it.

The thing that got me thinking about all of this was on my way to work I saw this sign I had never seen wpid-img_20150325_125033.jpgbefore. It caught my eye and made me think.

I started wonder if this was some sort of symbol of us evolving as a society. That we didn’t have to bother telling people that they couldn’t smoke somewhere anymore, because it was just expected that you couldn’t. That finally we have accepted that the health of the many, might outweigh the desires of the few.

It was in that moment I realized how fortunate it is that we, as a society, have finally sorted out where people can and can not stand while smoking.

With any luck and another couple of decades or so worth of work we can finally deal with smaller social justice issues, like poverty or civil rights. That would be nice. Maybe we could get a couple of guys to get some real work done with public education, you know if we can spare them.

Anyway, that’s what I spent some time thinking about in the past week.

Happy Monday.

P.S.: Can someone go get a ladder and help me down off this horse?

Photo of newsies smoking by Lewis Hine and is in the public domain.

No Smoking placard pictured at the right side of this article modified from
No Smoking Sign by Zubi CC BY-SA 3.0