The word of God? Not so much

When I was a kid, I tried to be the best little christian I could be. As a result of that, the following words are burned into my brain:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

That has been etched so deeply into my memory that I couldn’t forget it even if I wanted to. It’s like the pledge of allegiance*: while I haven’t actively thought about it for over three decades, I remember it verbatim. So, while leafing through a booklet today while I was eating lunch -one of those books that is disguised as something other than the bible. You know, it has picture of a waterfall and a title like, “Ten easy steps to change your life” or something like it, then you open it up and get Rickrolled into reading the bible. I was surprised to see this:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

I’ve added some italics to the passage above to highlight the changes. It has always been the argument of the church that the bible was the undisputed word of God. Sure, I’m talking about the gospel according to John here (purportedly written somewhere between the first and third century -depending on who you ask), but I’m also talking about the single most recognizable verse in the whole book. If they can change four words in the most recognizable verse of the bible in the forty years I’ve been alive, how can anyone believe that the rest of it isn’t, at best, paraphrased?

I can already hear the arguments, “The words have only been changed to make them easier to understand.” Or perhaps, “The words may be different, but the message is the same.” Which are both valid arguments, but which in no way change the fact that the words were altered. I’m not arguing that the message changed, only that the words changed. It may not change the meaning, but if they’re brazen enough to change this verse right in front of us, just imagine all the other ones that have changed over the millennia. Maybe the message remained the same (although that seems unlikely since we are forever watering it down to discount all the brutality, murder and sex) but it seems like the best case scenario is that it’s God’s word filtered through a game of Chinses whispers involving tens of thousands of people and lasting for hundreds of years.

Just saying.

*What’s funny about the pledge of allegiance is that I remember it as:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

I highlighted a portion of the text there, because the way I remember it isn’t the way my Grandparents remember it:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

And even the version they remember wouldn’t be the same as the one their Grandparents remember:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

I wonder how our children’s children will remember it…

Gay marriage legal in Arizona

In a post that took way too long to get to, gay marriage is finally legal in Arizona. -This after an amendment passed in 2008 banning it was ruled unconstitutional.

You’re goddam right it’s unconstitutional.

While I’m not gay, I do have both friends and family members that are, and any law that singles them out is clearly against the principles that founded this country. It is in no way different than singling out a group of people for any other reason, be it race, religion, or even something more trivial like eye color. That each state in a country founded on the principle that all land owning white men are created equal still has to challenge this fundamental right in court just boggles my mind. But, in a state like Arizona (where stripping people of their basic rights is status quo) it is quite a victory.

At least we weren’t quite as bad as Texas, or so I keep telling myself, whose ban on gay marriage had actually banned all marriage since being enacted with 76% of the vote in 2005 (this one was ruled unconstitutional in July 2014). Their law actually stated that, “This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.” And marriage is just about as identical to marriage as one can get.

I’m happy that same sex couples will finally be able to enjoy a right that they should have had all along. I’m even happier that I will never again have to listen to this bullshit argument: “If two guys can get married, what’s next? A guy can marry a horse?”

And if you are one of the ignorant rednecks that made that argument, let me explain something to you called logic. Before you go bandying about same sex marriage leading directly to bestiality being legalized, consider this: In order to apply logic to the thing you are trying to decry, you must also apply it to the thing you are trying to protect. In other words, if you want to make that case against gay marriage, you must first check it against straight all marriage. It seems that your logic there is if a man can marry his male partner, he would then marry his male horse (he is gay after all). So applying your logic to traditional marriage, that would mean that since a man can marry his female partner, he would then go on to marry his female horse. We’ve not seen a lot of that here in the U.S., and marriage has been legal for a long time…

When the few remaining states finally overturn their unconstitutional laws, we can move on as a nation and get back to telling women what do do with their bodies despite the UN requiring certain basic rights to health care among its members:

[UN members] must take measures to ensure that legal and safe abortion services are available, accessible, and of good quality.

Public morality cannot serve as a justification for enactment or enforcement of laws that may result in human rights violations, including those intended to regulate sexual and reproductive conduct and decisionmaking. Although securing particular public health outcomes is a legitimate State aim, measures taken to achieve this must be both evidence-based and proportionate to ensure respect of human rights. When criminal laws and legal restrictions used to regulate public health are neither evidence-based nor proportionate, States should refrain from using them to regulate sexual and reproductive health, as they not only violate the right to health of affected individuals, but also contradict their own public health justification.

with liberty and justice for all land owning white men

The Bus Ride

Being the child of cheap/poor divorced parents is never a great deal of fun, especially when said parents like to keep a state or two between them to help maintain civility. So when it came time to travel from parent to parent -for the umpteenth time- to try to see what new boundaries could be set in the doing whatever the hell I wanted to category, it was going to be on a Greyhound bus that I made the journey (if you are a Greyhound executive, I hereby give you permission to use that sentence as a slogan; honesty in advertising is better received than you might think).

Starting around the time I was twelve or thirteen, the Greyhound trip became a part of my summer and Christmas vacation rituals. The odd thing about it was that I seemed to be the only person on the bus just because it was inexpensive transportation and my parents were poor/cheap. Hell, I once sat next to the owner of the company for a 10 hour run from L.A. to Phoenix –at least he said that he was the owner of the company; he just liked to ride the bus from time to time to check up on the service. His credibility remains a bit suspect in my mind since one would assume the owner of such a large company would be able to afford to buy matching shoes. I personally would also assume that the owner of such a company would make a better choice in travel wine than grape flavored Mad Dog 20/20 -of course I was young and had a lot to learn about life. This wasn’t the only time I met someone so powerful on a bus though, also included in the list of people I met on the Greyhound bus was the CEO of NBC television studios, and again one would assume that someone with such a high profile, well paying job would care enough about hygiene to grab a shower once a month or so.

I met a couple of famous people on the bus as well. I met Oprah once, on the bus between Portland, OR and Denver. This was back in 1988 or say, way before I knew who Oprah was so I didn’t really have a way to verify the validity of her claim, of course based solely on the pattern of less than forthright individuals I did meet on the Greyhound I am going to guess that this wasn’t really the queen of television. There was one person I met on the bus that I am still not entirely sure of. I met someone who claimed to be Terry Jacks in L.A. one time. This one still seems plausible to me since he was such a minor celebrity in the 70s that I could certainly believe he may be traveling by bus in the 80s (I had no idea who he was when he told me. He mentioned the song seasons in the sun which I vaguely remembered having heard, but I remained rather unimpressed. I bet the guy gets that a lot).

The other thing you find out about people that ride the Greyhound is that there seem to be more than an average number of certifiable nutjobs riding the bus. Say if you were to round up 100 people at random, you could probably paint them into two groups –using a very broad brush- of around 99 people who were “normal” and just one who was just batshit insane; he’d be the guy off to the side arguing with his brown bag about whether Oswald acted alone or if there may have been some Lawn Gnomes on the grassy knoll acting as covert KGB operatives. Once you get on the bus that equation shifts to the point that you get about a 50/50 blend of normal people and people that you realistically fear might eat your spleen if the voices in their head will it and you happen to fall asleep at the wrong time. Unfortunately it is difficult to judge which category people fall into by looks alone. A handy bit of advice I can pass on from experience though is that while you might think that sitting next to the guy in the three-piece suit is going to guarantee a sane companion, it is usually exactly the opposite. The guy in the three-piece suit is probably the CEO of some huge corporation who is going to be yelling into his phone the whole trip (and mind you this was well before the era of cell phones, this guy will just be yelling into a regular old phone that he happens to carry in his backpack). In general I found it best to just try to find anyone that looked more scared than me, and let me tell you that was always a very small group.

One summer I was going to have to make the trip on Greyhound from Roseburg, OR to Weableau, MO to visit my mom. This would probably be about a 30 hour drive if you were to make it in your car (following posted speed limits of the era), but on a Greyhound, after one takes layovers and bus changes into account, it takes a couple hours longer than 2 days. The bus ride itself wasn’t going to be a problem, hell I was at an age that I felt a measure of independence when riding the bus on my own, but what was going to be a problem was my parents’ inability to understand that value of a dollar in a bus station. Very few bus stations have restaurants in them. What they do have is vending machines with all manner of foodstuffs. The sandwich that you can buy out of a vending machine really doesn’t taste too bad, but it is horribly overpriced (even back in the late 80s I remember paying 5 bucks for a turkey sandwich), but there was generally never a store close enough to walk to, so I didn’t really have a choice but to pay it. Occasionally I could find a convenience store close enough to the station to make the trek in search of food, but bus stations are generally not in the best part of town, so this was rare.

For reasons that I still can’t quite figure out, my parents had it in their heads that twenty dollars was enough to cover meals on a bus ride. This had been pretty true when the ride was going from Arizona to Oregon when the trip was about a day, but when the travel time doubled the meal allowance did not. So on my trip to Missouri I ran out of money by the time we got to Denver with still about 14 hours remaining on my trip. I had some change in my pocket but certainly not enough to buy anything solid to eat. By the time I got to Kansas City, MO (incidentally I only found out once I arrived in Kansas City, MO that all of the sports teams were from Missouri not Kansas, it was like a whole geography lesson during my summer vacation) I was pretty damn thirsty too. But even back then the bus station vending machines wanted a dollar to buy a soda. So stuck in Kansas City for a 3 hour layover, I had to find somewhere else to quench my thirst -because, as a teenager, I would rather have died of thirst than have had to drink from a water fountain.

I was standing out in front of the bus station smoking a cigarette while looking down the street when I saw a 7-11 sign. It didn’t look like it was that far away, but this was back in the day when I wasn’t able to so simply find out so much about depth perception, so I was about to learn a valuable lesson in spatial relation. Judging by the size of the sign, I though surely that it wouldn’t be more than a three or four minute walk…

The year was 1988 and I had recently decided that I was a rebel. No longer was I going to be oppressed by “the man” (in the same way that “the man” has been oppressing the young, white man for so long), I was going to lash out against the system by not showering as often as they would like (though truth be told I actually did shower, but I tried my best to look like I didn’t) and wearing shoddy clothing -This was the era of glam rock, but also the prime of bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax. While my more mainstream Glam rock self wanted to pretty myself up, my more central, Metal self wanted to keep it to torn up jeans and a t-shirt. The compromise was to try to look as homeless as possible; ripped up jeans, faded out shirt, hair intentionally done to look like it hadn’t been washed or combed in days… (Thankfully pictures of me from that era are not known to exist.) So I stepped off the bus out into the city streets as it were.

Growing up in rural Oregon doesn’t lend itself to cultural diversity. Which is to say that in 1988, at the age of 14, my only real experience with people who weren’t white was limited to what I had seen on that show COPS, and to a lesser extent that show Diff’rent Strokes. I wasn’t racist, but if one watches COPS enough, one will develop a pretty deep fear of black people with tattoos and gold teeth, well, them and any white person with a shaved head or a mullet (which is why I never like Billy Ray Cyrus; I always thought it would be only a matter of time before he went all trailer park. But now that he is whoring out his own daughter the trailer park in him is really coming out). I still don’t think these preconceived notions were far off base, and they were certainly very real to me at the ripe old age of 14.

I was a bit scared as I was walking because of the sounds I was hearing. While I was used to maybe hearing dogs barking or the occasional sound of one of the neighbors running a chainsaw, I was not used to hearing so many people yelling and screaming at each other in the streets, though I could never see who was screaming –to my ear it was just a bunch of disembodied voices coming from somewhere just out of sight. Doors were slamming, alarms were sounding, gunshots were ringing out.. I’m pretty sure a fair amount of this was being created by my mind –some sounds misheard, some amplified, others outright invented-, but some of it was probably real too. In fact it was all I could do to not turn around and run screaming and crying back to the bus station. I had to remind myself that I was 14 –an adult- and it was my right to walk this street to get a soda at that 7-11, though with every step it grew a bit more difficult to convince myself.

I had probably made it about half of the way to the store when my absolute worst fear began to materialize around me. Somehow, and rather suddenly, I found myself surrounded by the four scariest looking guys I had ever seen in my life. Four very large, very tattooed, black gentlemen had somehow managed to surround me within a matter of what seemed like a fraction of a second. Because of my previous viewing of COPS, and the number of gold teeth this group had, I was relatively sure that my untimely demise was imminent. None of them had made any action at this point that I would deem as threatening, well, aside from getting tattooed and mouths full of gold teeth, but nothing so far in my interaction with them. Nonetheless, I was scared as hell. They were walking along surrounding me like points on a compass until the one in front of me turned and asked “what are you doing walking out here all alone?”

Now I had seen enough after school specials to know that the first thing you should do in a potential kidnapping situation is to make the aggressor believe that someone is expecting you back rather immediately so that their chances of getting away before the police arrive is slim –not that these guys really looked like they were going to take the police all too seriously anyway-. So, summoning all the expertise and cunning I had at my disposal, I came up with the following line: “I’m on a bus to my mom’s house in Weableau, stuck here on a three hour layover. I just need a drink.” Do you see what I did there? I managed to convey not only that I was traveling alone but also that I wasn’t expected anywhere for several hours in one very short sentence. Never before had I been such a master of brevity.

“Well, it’s not safe for you to be out here all alone,” Said the biggest, scariest one, “you could get hurt.”

Incidentally, that was exactly the same thing I was thinking at that very moment. And while I couldn’t be sure whether or not he had meant that as a veiled threat, that was what I took it as.

“You should come with us to see the Father.”

The four of them were still surrounding me as they turned off of the main street and down a much darker, scarier street. I made my last attempt at a protest by saying, “I just need a drink and then I’ll go right back to the bus station.” But the plea fell on deaf ears, as they continued on towards wherever it was they were taking me.

Never in my life had I been as scared as I was in that moment. I wanted to turn and run away, but I really didn’t know if I was with these men by choice or not and I didn’t want to find out that I wasn’t in a brutal way, so I walked with them. With each step I was coming up with new curses for my parents, I mean seriously, twenty bucks for two days food and drink, come on. If they would have given me a couple more dollars I wouldn’t be on the streets in Kansas City, surrounded by four very large men, being led ever further from the main road down a series of alleyways that, all of a sudden, made me realize that they must be planning to kill me. I had seen a lot of movies, and I knew that if they took you this deep into the alley it was to rob and kill you before throwing your body in the dumpster. My life began to flash before my eyes, of course I was young enough that it only took a few seconds, which was good because currently we stopped next to a large, sliding metal door.

“Here we are.” Said the largest of them, and come to think of it, I think he may be the only one who said anything during the entire ordeal.

I looked at the abandoned building and my mind started replaying all the mob films I had seen in my young life. Obviously in Kansas City the mob boss was called “The Father” and they had brought me here so that The Father could end my young life for the crime of trespassing on his streets. It was remote enough that they could probably just leave my body right there and it wouldn’t be discovered for days, not that it really mattered since, as previously mentioned, I had already told the guys that no one would come looking for me for a while anyway.

One of them grabbed the large door and slid it open. I was expecting it to make a sound like in horror movies; a grating, possibly almost squealing sound that pierced your ears and filled you with a sense of dread and foreboding. Instead it was silent. The silence was even more disconcerting for, in my mind, that meant that it was used regularly. Of course that meant that they led kids back here all the time to kill them and dump their bodies into the streets. The Father was one ruthless bastard!

The building looked like a warehouse from the outside. It was a red brick building with no windows on the ground floor and only the large metal door as a visible entrance. It appeared to be four stories tall with windows spaced apart every fifteen feet or so on the three upper floors. Some of the windows had the glass broken out while others had bars covering them but appeared to be open air. One step inside changed my previous assessment though, as instead of being a large, open, warehouse space, the first floor was actually one long corridor leading straight to what appeared to be a service elevator in the back with a bunch of rooms off to either side. My group stopped and turned to the first door on the right. One of them knocked on the door, and it slowly opened.

The man who appeared in the doorway was rather diminutive; perhaps 5’7” and very thin with some of the most striking eyes I have ever seen in my life. While I can’t remember a lot about this man, I can remember those eyes with clarity. As I live and breathe, the man had silver eyes. They looked like just like the picture here. This was long before people regularly wore colored contacts for vanity, and to this day I don’t know if he was or not, but this diminutive man, with his calm face and these serene, silver eyes scared me so deeply that I will certainly never forget it -just writing about it now actually caused a shiver and goose-bumps to form on my arms. He had a smile on his face as he looked at me, “My child,” he said, “what brings you here?” And while I wanted to tell him that I didn’t want to be there and ask if I could just go, my voice wasn’t working. It was the big guy with me that eventually said, “We found him wandering the street looking for a drink.” It was at that moment that I realized that they probably thought I was an alcoholic since I had earlier said that I was looking for a drink, but the reality was I only used the term drink because I didn’t know if Missouri was of the “pop” or “soda” group and in such cases it’s usually easier to just say drink… Unless, of course, you happen to be talking to people who will automatically assume you mean liquor.

“It is not safe for you on the street.” He said.

“I need to catch the bus to Humansville,” I said, my voice returning for the first time since this all started (Humansville being the closest town to Weableau that had a bus stop, it was actually where my ride would end).

“You should wait here, it is safe here.” He said, as he took my hand and led me back towards the elevator, all the while being followed by the four men who had initially brought me here. Once inside the elevator, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small key. He put the key into a small lock on the elevator panel and turned it, then pushed the 3 button. In a few seconds we stopped on the third floor. He turned the key and took it back out of the panel, then turned and led me to a small room near the end of the hallway. There was a single, barred window in the corner. There was a small cot with a military blanket on it next to the window and a small bedside stand with a phone on it. The phone had no buttons. “You should wait here.” He said as he closed the door. Once the door was closed, I heard the distinct sound of a bolt being locked. A quick look at the door showed that there was a knob and a deadbolt. The deadbolt was either either locked from the other side or of the double-barreled variety, as the side I was on would require a key to open.

I went to the window and shook the bars, they were solid. Although from the third floor I wouldn’t really have been able to make the jump if they hadn’t been. So I sat on the cot and took in further stock of my surroundings. The room was about 10 by 12 feet I would guess -very small. The walls were an off white color that I suspect was actually white but yellowed with age. There was nothing hanging on the walls; the room was just a little dingy white box with a cot. I took a look at the bedside table and noticed that in addition to the phone, there was a drawer. I slid this open to discover two books inside: The Bible, and Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume. What I did not know at the time (and I’m glad I didn’t) was just what the book was about: The subject is a girl dealing with the death of her father. All I knew at the time was that the girl on the cover creeped me out nearly as much as the “Father” guy did. And the fact that these were the two books that were in the room was getting to me in the way that it could only get to a 14 year old kid who had only recently found out that his death was likely to come in the next couple of hours. I was nearly in tears.

And what the hell is the point of a phone with no buttons? Obviously this was an intercom, if I was to pick it up I would only get the creepy father guy. So I sat in silence, staring at the phone and thinking. No one had ever said that I was being detained, but I didn’t want to pick the phone up to ask. If I didn’t ask, I could continue to believe that I was free to go at any time. Only I didn’t believe that I was free to go at any time. However since I hadn’t yet been killed, I came up with a new scenario: I was going to be sold as a slave. Obviously I was too old to be sold as an orphan on the black market, but I was the right age to be sold into slavery. I was sure there were countless evil dictators out who were are just dying to get their hands on… what? A lazy white kid? Maybe that was also unlikely. Ransom? Of course patrolling the bus station to do kidnapping would mean that would be a low dollar affair. Besides, they hadn’t asked who to contact to get the ransom anyway. Nor, come to think of it, had they rifled through my pockets to relieve me of my 85 cents. Obviously it wasn’t about the money.

Even though I was now relatively sure that there was no reasonable reason they would want to abduct me (thanks to the epiphany that I was completely worthless), it still took me quite some time before I was able to get up the nerve to try the phone. When I finally did the question came out in syllables, “um, am.. am.. am I.. can.. can I leave?”

When I asked the question the Father laughed a soft laugh -that I remember as chilling, “of course you may leave. Did you think you were a prisoner?” Which, while reassuring, did little to comfort me because it was followed by, “I will be right up to unlock your door”.

True to his word, I heard the bolt being undone only a few moments later. The Father stood before me with those piercing, silver eyes and said, “The streets really are not a safe place for you.”

“I, I know…” I stammered, trying to think of the right combination of words to bring this to an end, “but my bus is leaving soon, and I need to get back to the station.”

“Very well,” He said, “Would you like my children to escort you?”

I don’t remember exactly what I said, but whatever it was got him to escort me back to the door and let me leave on my own. I didn’t really know where I was since my impending mortality had somewhat clouded my internal compass on the way to the building. Over the rooftops I could see the same 7-11 sign that had beckoned for me in the first place and I ran -at a dead sprint- back to that street. My speed didn’t slow as I rounded the corner and headed back to the station. I didn’t slow down or turn around until I was back safely back in the depot.

To this day, I’m still not really sure who that guy was or what the hell was going on in that building. The logical part of my brain says he was just a local volunteer who was reforming inner-city youth, while the irrational part of my brain thinks of the Heaven’s Gate cult . Either way, I never left the bus station during a layover again.

Fox News misleading people? Surely you jest

After probably three years without posting any news, this one is just too precious to skip.  Evidently Fox News is again accused of airing misleading video.  I know what you’re thinking, not Fox News, surely they mean one of the more dubious, liberal media outlets.  Fox News is certainly above suspicion on this sort of thing, right?  I guess not.

For the second time in just over a week, Fox News is coming under fire for misusing old news footage. The latest flap is leading some people to charge that the cable news network is intentionally misleading its audience, while Fox claims a “production error.”

Wednesday’s incident occurred when Fox News host Gregg Jarrett mentioned that a Sarah Palin appearance and book signing in Grand Rapids, Michigan had a massive turnout. As footage rolled of a smiling and waving Palin amidst a throng of fans, Jarrett noted that the former Republican vice-presidential candidate is “continuing to draw huge crowds while she’s promoting her brand-new book,”…

All sarcasm aside, is there anyone who is even remotely surprised by this?  Fox News has been a mouthpiece for the Republican party since its inception.  Their stock and trade is to mislead their viewers/listeners into believing what they deem necessary for them to believe in order to demonize Democrats (although there is no such thing as a Democrat to Fox News; All democrats are Liberal Democrats when spoken of) and push their viewers/listeners to believe that whatever it is they are talking about is so right that every person in the country -aside from a couple of Liberal nutjubs- is behind it.  If there is no evidence to back them up, they make up the evidence.  Probably the only thing I find surprising about it in this case is that the subject is of the “who gives a fuck anyway” variety.

The last time they were caught doing it, just last week, in fact, at least they were trying to sell bigger support for a Republican rally:

The current mishap comes on the heels of a controversy sparked last week when footage from a conservative rally held over the summer was played on “Hannity” during a segment on a more recent rally.

It is kind of a blessing really; People tend to get more conservative with age, and Fox News has a viewer base with a median age of 65 (all the websites that I could find with a median age for Fox News in 2009 had the same number.  Unfortunately all I could find from the Fox News website was a “30%” increase in viewership).  While they are keeping the fleece over the baby-boomers, they are further isolating themselves from the moderates with these antics.  I, for one, know that regardless of how conservative I happen to get as I age, I will never assume anything on Fox News is factual.  Of course as the nation ages, values will change, and the Republican agenda will probably start to more closely mirror my ideals by the time I am in my sixties.  That doesn’t mean I want to be lied to.

This particular piece of deception is of such little importance it would hardly warrant a mention were it not for the fact that it really exposes Fox News’ capacity to outright lie to make a point.  Perhaps they should change their taglines from things like Fair and balanced and We report, you decide to something more accurate, Op-Eds for Old People or Inventing a more Conservative reality, would certainly be more accurate.

Help my wife make money for breast cancer

Every year my wife does the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk here in Phoenix. Her mother passed away from breast cancer a few years ago, so it is something that she feels pretty strongly about. I also like the ta-ta’s, but my job keeps me from making the walk; I settle for a nominal donation to her.

She is doing her fund raising exclusively online this year, and I wanted to pass that link on to some people at work, unfortunately the web address to make a donation to her is: “”. Since I know that some people will have to actually write the link down, I decided I would just throw a link to it up here, ’cause is easier to remember than

So here is that difficult to copy and paste link in a handy, clickable format.

Please go and donate…Or I curse you to experience homosexual desires the next time you see bare breasts!

The shoplifter that made me excercise. Bastard!

It was just before midnight on a Tuesday night when I saw the kids come into the store. While I have over fifteen years in retail that makes me keenly sensitive to the signs put out by potential shoplifters, these kids were throwing out signs that anyone would have picked up on: The were both so nervous as to almost be shaking, they were looking back and forth more than I have ever seen anyone not on crystal meth do, when they saw the cashiers, their eyes went straight to the floor. Long story short, this would be a beer run, and one that was telegraphed so clearly that everyone in the store new it.

Nearly all retail stores have a fairly strict policy of not pursuing shoplifters. In the past several years several store clerks have been killed while trying to stop shoplifters, and in turn, several shoplifters have been killed by store owners who fear for their lives -a situation that only comes to bear when they have made the foolish decision to pursue the shoplifter in the first place. When it comes right down to it, there is nothing in a retail store that is worth a human life, neither the store clerk’s nor the shoplifter’s, and with security cameras able to catch every angle from inside a store nowadays, it really isn’t necessary anyway.

All of this I know. But as I stood watching two kids, probably both between the ages of 15 and 17, so clumsily making preparations, it started to piss me off more than a bit. Being a salaried manager, my bonus comes directly from controlling profit and loss -which they were about to take a chunk out of- and maintaining a corporate set profit margin -which the loss directly effects-. I took up a post about 30 feet from the door and stared at them as they walked through the store, hoping that they would get the message. They didn’t. But as they made their way to the door, someone opened it to come inside, and not having to stop to open the door gave them an extra second that I hadn’t planned for when I took up my post. They were both in a dead sprint by the time they got to the door, and I had a corner to make it around plus the 30 feet to cover.

When I reached the door they were 20-25 yards ahead of me, running with, and quite possibly the funniest part of this, exactly: two 18 packs of budweiser, one 12 pack of budweiser, three 32oz bottles of gatorade, two 20oz Nestea Iced teas, and 2 bags of Cheetos Puffs. Frankly, if it had been just the beer I would have stopped at the door and let them go, but something about the random nature of the snack food just seemed so insulting that I got so angry I just couldn’t. Also, they were running towards a gold Jeep Cherokee that was inexplicably parked at our fuel drop station, nearly a hundred yards from the front door. I wasn’t going to let those little fuckers get away with it.

As anyone who played in sports knows, you can run much faster than your body thinks it can. While it is difficult to explain, you can overcome the limitations your body places on you more or less by willing it to be. I first discovered this back in High School while doing some distance running. Near the finish, when my legs could hardly carry me and my ribs were painfully cramped, I could call on this unforeseen reserve of energy to finish the last eighth of the lap as fast as if I was on fresh legs. I soon found that this energy could be called upon at will, and it made me a terror on the kickoff squad in football (affectionately called the meat squad), able to close the fifty yards in far less time than anyone my size had a right to. And while my body isn’t conditioned like it was back then, the discipline to control it is still there.

I had to make up 20-25 yards before they made it the 70 or so yards to the safety of their vehicle. Game on. I caught up to them about 2/3 of the way to their car, and that was when I realized that I didn’t really have a plan for what to do once I did. I was pretty sure they were both underage, and I wasn’t (and still am not) sure what would happen to me, or the store, if I was to injure them. I smacked the beer from the hands of the larger boy, who then looked over his shoulder to see who was behind him. He yelled something I couldn’t make out and the other boy threw down all he was carrying as well. Not sure what to do at this point, knowing that they would be leaving with nothing, I knew I had to let it go. Before I dropped the pursuit, in a final act of anger, I gave the big guy a firm push in the back which sent him tumbling to the ground. He was back up in a second and kept on running. The jeep that they had been running towards had long since taken off, having surely seen the pursuit, and no doubt knowing that if I was able to get their plate number it would be pretty easy to I.D. all involved, so both kids ran off the lot, through the desert landscaping, on the way to the freeway overpass. The Jeep was actually parked on that overpass waiting for them, but I had no intention of following them off the property; pursuing them into the lot was questionable at best, off the property was definitely going to get me fired.

As I began picking up the goods, which were now strewn about the parking lot, one of the clerks brought a couple of bags out to help me (the beer packages had split open when I knocked them from his hands, there were broken cans all over, but we could get credit on them, so it’s all good). As we were picking the items up, he said to me, “You have amazing speed for your size.” Obviously it is the last part of that line that did it. He didn’t mean it like I took it, of course, but he said it all the same for my size. As we entered the store with the stuff, the other cashier said, “You’re a lot faster than you look”. Which is really just a variation on the same theme. I know they both meant it as a compliment, but when it hit my ears it came across as “Holy shit! Lard ass can move!”

I should take a moment here before I get into the self-deprecation to point out that at 5’10” and about 190 pounds, I am in better shape than most Americans. In this deep-fried, super-sized world though, that isn’t saying a whole lot. As my weight would indicate, I am not into the range of morbidly obese. In fact I only show the weight in the form of love handles and a gut – a gut which, I am proud to say, doesn’t flop over the top of my belt when I do up my pants (you know you have seen these guys who wear a 36 inch pant, even though it cuts through the flab, and the flab hides their belt buckle). And the weight fluctuates so that in the winter I usually go about 190 while in the summer it is more like 180. I know I am not in great shape, but I didn’t realize the signs of it were so outward. But what really, really, got me to thinking about it was that I was winded, and couldn’t even speak when I got back inside. A sprint of sixty or seventy yards had never done that to me before…

If my being out of shape were purely aesthetic, I would probably let it go. At least until 200 pounds. That is a deal that I made to myself long ago: If I ever hit 200 there must be a regiment of diet and exercise put into place to get me back below that mark. The 1000 pound man, I reasoned, must have crossed that 200 mark at some point, and if he had taken action then it wouldn’t have come to a bed-ridden existence. It was the breathing and heart-rate that really had me concerned. At 34 years old, I shouldn’t be winded with chest pounding after such a small exertion. I’m not sure what role adrenaline may have played in all this, but regardless, for my health something must be done.

I don’t have the time or inclination to go to a gym, so I needed to find some sort of cardio training for the home. The first thing that came to mind was an elliptical machine. I spent a couple hours online reading reviews and found a couple that seemed to be pretty good value for the price at Wal-Mart. I looked at a few of them in store, and while they seemed sturdy enough, they were just so loud and clunky. I looked at some that cost a bit more money at Sears, including a Nordic Track, but it was just as loud and clunky as the others. I am at my most active between 2 and 4am, while my wife is asleep and I am winding down from work, and every machine that I looked at was loud enough that I feared it would wake her up if I used it. So I decided to just go with a simple treadmill.

I went for a low-end treadmill for several reasons. First, I’m not as young as I used to be, and one of my knees has been pretty screwed up since high school. I can certainly work through the pain now, but if the impact should become a problem in the future, I don’t want to have a huge investment in the thing. Second, I’m not sure just how much use I am going to get out of it. Hopefully I will continue to use this thing as preventive maintenance for my body, but I am enough of a realist to admit that I may not. Third, it is just a motor and a piece of tread, all the rest is just frills. Why does one cost 300 and one cost 1000? Can the motor or tread really be 3x better? I guess I’ll find that out in the future, and I will hope the answer is no.

And now to the whole point of this post. I had no idea just how bad of shape I was in until I got on the damn thing. Thinking I was in better shape than most (I think a lot of us walk around with that delusion) I set the incline to max, which is only 9% and started the first workout plan. 6 minutes into it I felt like I had a dagger under my ribs on the left side (a cramp) and my legs couldn’t take it anymore. I adjusted the incline to the middle setting 6% and slowed it down to 4mph (a slow jog, or a really fast walk) and still only made it a total of 9 minutes before I had to give up. I had to give up from the pain in my shins though, and if you ever played sports on a hard surface you know that the shin splints hurt like hell. If you stop when you first start feeling them you won’t be in debilitating pain the next day. So for the immediate future the plan is to use shortly every day until my shins can take a full thirty minute workout. Then I will probably get into an every other day, 30minute type thing.

So, 189 pounds and winded after 10 minutes to start. I’ll check back later.

On alcoholism (the addiction, not the disease)

In a casual conversation with a co-worker today, the subject of alcohol came up. Since I quit drinking I have been of the mind that while quitting drinking is a great accomplishment, it is also a personal one, and not one that I really run around telling everyone about. If asked directly, however, I do freely admit to having been an alcoholic. And this was the sticking point in the conversation. Having been an alcoholic.

First and foremost, I would like to say that I don’t think anyone who has never personally had a substance abuse problem is capable of forming an educated opinion on the subject. You can read all you want to about, and know a lot about it, but without living through it you just don’t know what it is like -much in the same way that I don’t know what it is like to fly a rocket to space, even though I have read a great deal about it. Doctors are able to diagnose the substance abuse problem, but all they can really do is recommend detox and/or some form of third-party program to help deal with it.

In the conversation today, the co-worker said that I had a disease, and the fact that I hadn’t drank for a couple years didn’t mean that I wasn’t an alcoholic anymore. This is where I call bullshit. I think the key point I want to make here is that I never claimed that I had a disease. That is an important point for me to make. Calling alcoholism a disease seems (to me at least) to absolve someone of blame. I disagree with that 100%. I had a very serious addiction, but it was entirely self-induced. I don’t think a disease can be self-induced. There may have been factors that made me more susceptible to becoming an alcoholic, but again I had to make the choices to send me down the road to alcoholism. That’s far different than suffering from a disease. You don’t have much of a choice over whether you are going to have Parkinson’s Disease, for instance. I always maintained that what I had was a compulsion; an addiction. Much in the same way that I used to have an almost subconscious compulsion to bite my fingernails. I was able to overcome that as well, and to my knowledge no one has ever referred to nail biting as a disease.

Since I don’t believe that I had a disease, I think that since I quit I am just not an alcoholic anymore. I am not a “recovering alcoholic”. I quit, I am done, end of story.

The co-worker went on to say that quitting without a 12-step program is extremely difficult to do. I agree with that completely: it was hard as fuck. But I did it. He then went on to say that I had completed most of the steps of the program, just that I had done it on my own. I disagree. Here are the original twelve steps, borrowed from the Wikipedia entry for Alcoholics Anonymous:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Let’s just start with point one, the argument won’t get past there anyway. “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.” I will agree to the latter part of that sentence, my life had become unmanageable. The first part, however, is the polar opposite of what it took for me to quit drinking. I did not admit that I was powerless over alcohol; I forced myself to admit that the alcohol was powerless over me. It was entirely my decision whether or not I would drink it, and I decided not to. That is really skipping past the reality of how difficult it was to maintain the willpower, the weeks I went with literally no sleep as my body waited for me to administer a dose of the depressant, the mornings that I would wake up trembling, knowing that with just one drink my body would relax. But that is what it took to beat this addiction, so that is what I did.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that AA works for a lot of people, and if you are an alcoholic you should use whatever means are necessary to reach the sober end. For me probably the biggest part was that I never said that I was going to “quit drinking forever”. Instead I made a choice each morning to not drink that day. If I needed to, I reasoned, I could go ahead and have a drink the next day. And the next day I would make the same decision. And then a couple of months passed, having decided not to drink each day. That is still the philosophy I use today, though I rarely even think about alcohol anymore. And if I decide to have a beer with my friends one day, I don’t think that will automatically make me an alcoholic relapsing, I think it will just be me having a beer with my friends. The me that was an alcoholic lost the battle a long time ago.

Take this post for what it’s worth to you. I just wanted to get it out there that for some admitting they are powerless over alcohol may not be what it takes to beat the addiction. To admit that you are powerless over something can be really like giving up control completely, and feeling like you have no control is what leads a lot of people to alcohol in the first place.

Mental Giants: The Wal-Mart cashier

Sometimes I have to interact with people who really aren’t very intelligent. In fact that happens most days. Sometimes I find it humorous, sometimes it makes me angry, it really all depends on the mood I am in going into it. Well, that and just what their incompetence happens to be. While I may find it funny when someone is trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole, it is more likely to make me angry if I suffer a loss of time or property as a result -say like if I owned the peg and hole they are trying to mash together.

I find that the most common form of incompetence that I run into on a day to day basis is Math. I suppose that makes sense, since every time I make a purchase at a store it involves Math (well, nominally, since most of the transactions are strictly card-based at this point). The thing is that I have always been good at Math, so I can’t understand how someone can struggle with it. I am not talking about Calculus or Trigonometry here, I am talking about very basic addition or subtraction; the type of 2+1=3 crap that you have to learn to make it out of the first grade.

A good example of this is when you are buying something at a convenience store and the total comes out with a few cents change. Say the total is $3.14, and you give the clerk a $5. After they have already entered that in the register, you realize that you have the 14 cents and hand that to them as well. Now they are staring at a screen that tells them to give you back $1.86, but also holding your 14 cents, and sometimes they just can’t do the math in their head. I try to help them along when I see them struggling with it; “you owed me one eighty-six and I gave you fourteen, that makes two-hundred.” If they don’t get it pretty immediately (usually claiming a brain fart or something) I will just take the change back. No sense ruining my day and theirs over a pocketful of change. If you are feeling really sadistic you can take this to the extreme: when the total comes to $6.86, give them 12.11 and watch them stare vacantly.

Anyway, the particular circumstance that I ran into today was something much simpler. I had to buy a new air conditioner for my bedroom, so I found myself at Wal-Mart looking over their selection. Of the three that they actually had in stock, the two that were still in boxes were far too small for the room. That meant that my only real option was the larger display model. I am no stranger to buying display models. Basically you get an item that has never actually been used, but that item may come with a couple of scuff marks on it, and you get it for a decent discount -just how decent the discount depends a lot on the store, since many stores just do a stock 10% or 20% discount for floor models, and they don’t allow their cashiers any latitude for negotiating. Such was the case with the air conditioner at Wal-Mart. 10% off the already reduced price (prices on air conditioners were slashed somewhere around the end of June, that I know because I was trying to find one for my office at the time, but couldn’t find one to fit a vertical window opening).

I can’t find the exact machine that I bought on the Wal-Mart website, but this one is damn close. The price was reduced to $217.00 from the original $237.00, and they were going to give me an additional 10% off. That was going to put it right about the same price that I paid for the tiny little machine that it was replacing, so I was all over it. I threw that bad boy in my cart, making sure that the department manager put a note on the tag reflecting that the discount was in addition to the marked price, and made my way to the register.

I got to the register and waited as the cashier keyed in the UPC code, hoping that it would ring up at the discounted price. It took her three tries to get the code right, but it did indeed ring up at the $217.00 price, so I was halfway home. Then the register prompted her with the message “enter reason code”. I thought for sure that there must just have been a button that she pushed which allowed for an immediate 10% discount, but alas it was asking for the reason she had to manually enter the UPC in the first place. After she looked up and entered the code for that, it was time to get to my big 10% savings. The cashier pulled a small scrap of paper out of her trash can and began to write the following equation on it:

x    .10
    0 0 0 0 0
2 1 7 0 0
2 1 7 0 0 0
I shit you not. She wrote the equation down, complete with the multiplication sign, did the long multiplication, then added the columns together. After which she counted one too many decimal places over and proudly declared that my discount was $2.17. Of course I corrected her, saying that $2.17 was 1%, $21.70 was 10%, and she didn’t believe me. She walked over to the manager’s station (whatever happened to calling for help?) and came back a few minutes later with the receipt paper from a 10 key, where someone else had actually taken the time to multiply the whole thing out instead of just moving the decimal point one to the left. Anyway, now she knew that the discount was $21.70, so I figured that all she had to do was type that into ye olde register and I would be able to pay and get on my way. Instead, she started writing the following equation on her piece of scrap paper:

– 21.70

In the time it took her to actually write that down, I had subtracted 22 from 217 in my head then added 30 cents back onto it (I always do it that way too. When subtracting odd decimal amounts I always round up -even if the decimal is like .08, I will subtract the next whole number then add .92 back to it. Since that is the way I have always done it, I don’t have to try to remember if I rounded up or down. It is always up. Of course that is just me). I told her it was $195.30, and she just kind of stared at me. She didn’t even try to do the subtraction on the scrap of paper, just headed back over to the manager’s station. Why she didn’t think to go ahead and do that the first time she was over there is beyond me. A few minutes later I was pushing the cart out the door.

I won’t fault the woman for not being able to subtract the 21.70 from 217 in her head, not everyone can do simple math that quickly, I accept that. What I will fault her for, and her manager as well, is actually doing the math on a 10% discount. I mean, it’s 10% FFS, that’s not Math, that’s moving a decimal point! I would lay down even money that any child in the third grade could have done that without having to resort to a calculator.

When the woman actually started writing down the equation for the 10% discount, at first I was going to get angry, then I was going to laugh, then I was kind of dumbfounded. I imagine that I must have looked much like that guy I handed $12.11 to at the convenience store earlier…

The seldom used pedal that sits directly beside the brake pedal

One of the biggest differences between my new job and my old one -well aside from being treated as both a human and a peer- is the commute. My previous commute was about 2 blocks, and them is small town blocks where it actually only worked out to about a half a mile. The new job is 48 miles each way, but most of it on highways and the freeway during off peak hours, so it’s not really all that bad. Now that I have to spend two hours a day in the car though, I can tell you firsthand that the 12 bucks a month for commercial free radio is so worth it.

Having to make the drive everyday, I have been finding out that all the stereotypes about people and the way they drive are pretty accurate. Not to say that every guy that is driving a convertible is exactly 50 years old with a small dick, or that every SUV is being driven by a blonde woman on a cell phone, but enough of them are that I can tell that the stereotypes are at least grounded in fact (although I haven’t actually yanked the pants down on any of the guys in the sports cars to check penis size).

One thing that I have learned while driving around on the outskirts of a huge metropolitan area is that a lot of people tailgate. I’m not talking about the type of following close enough to put you a bit out of your comfort level either, I’m talking about cars following at a distance of less than 18 inches from the car in front of them. I’m sure that the people who are doing this assume that their superior driving skills will be able to keep them from getting into a collision (and a note to everyone out there: most wrecks are collisions not accidents. In order for it to be an accident, it must necessarily be unavoidable. Unavoidable means that driver error didn’t play a role. So say an axle snaps and your car rolls over, that is an accident. If you are following someone too close and smash into them when they lock up the breaks, that is a collision, it can’t be an accident since it was your action that directly caused it. Just because you didn’t do it on purpose doesn’t mean that it was an accident), but it just doesn’t wash. First off, if they indeed possessed superior driving skills they wouldn’t be following so close to begin with. Secondly, humans all have roughly the same reaction times in given circumstances, regardless of how good a driver you are, or how good your vision is, it takes the same amount of time to react to what you see. Give or take a couple thousandths of a second.

There are two simple ways to judge if you are following at a safe distance or not (well three I guess. Since if you can read the dash instruments on the car in front of you, you are following too close). These are the ones that they teach in driver’s ed. The first one was always pretty vague and subject to your ability to measure distance. It says that to follow someone safely, you should maintain a distance of one car length per 10mph. That method works pretty well for driving on surface streets, but that would mean that in order to fit that definition, you would have to be about 70 feet behind the car in front of you on the freeway, which I think we can all agree is just too much distance. The other method is the 2 second rule. Which is pretty self-explanatory. You should be passing any given landmark two seconds after the car in front of you. This one works pretty well since the distance will increase as speed increases. Two seconds is a good distance to be following at anyway, since human reaction time is about .8 seconds. If you are 2 seconds back and you see the car in front of you lock up the brakes, it will take you about .8 seconds to register it and hit your brakes as well. But since the car in front of you may have better brakes, you may need every bit of the 2 seconds to stop before you hit them.

Of course no one, myself included, ever really follows those rules. The only time I will actually maintain a full 2 seconds behind the car in front of me is if I am being seriously tailgated by the car behind me. You see, I don’t want to get into any collisions, even if they aren’t my fault, and I also know that it is going to take the guy behind me about .8 seconds to react if I hit the brakes. If he is following me at, say, waytoofuckingclose, he is going to hit me if I have to lock up the brakes. So I give the car in front of me a cushion that will allow me to to touch the brake pedal just enough to make my lights come on for a half a second or so before I start braking. That should give the guy behind me enough time to react to seeing the brake lights and hopefully avoid a collision. Probably also reinforcing the guy behind me’s belief that his superior driving skill can keep him from smashing into the car in front of him. But what do I care as long as that car isn’t the one I’m in?

But how to know if the guy behind you is following too close to stop safely? If you can see a bit of pavement between you and him in the rear-view, give that guy a fucking medal; he is at least 2 seconds behind you. If you can see his bumper in the rear-view, he is probably far enough behind you to react if necessary, this assuming that he is paying attention to what he is doing. If he is close enough that you can’t see his headlights, he is way too close and you will have to make an extra effort to keep him from hitting you if you do have to brake suddenly. If you can’t even see the hood of the car behind you, he is going to hit you, and it probably doesn’t matter what steps you take to try to avoid it.

And that is Donnie’s guide to safe following distances in a nutshell. Also, and totally unrelated to actually driving, you can walk around a parking lot and pick out cars of people who habitually tailgate. Since that type of driving leads to braking hard, often, it tears the brakes up. Cars should have an even amount of brake dust accumulated on all four wheels, but if they habitually tailgate it will wear the front brakes out 10 times faster than the rear ones (since the front brakes do about 2/3 of the work in normal circumstances, but that amount goes up significantly when the full weight of the car is thrown onto them by locking them up at freeway speeds). So people who habitually tailgate will have a much thicker coating of brake dust on the front wheels than the rear ones. Which also generally leads to having to replace the front rotors with every brake job, thereby doubling or more the cost to maintain the brake system. That information is, of course, completely useless.

All of the judging of distance and increasing my following distance to accommodate the jack-ass behind me is done pretty subconsciously at this point. In fact it doesn’t really even bother me anymore. Well, most of time. Sometimes, though, a situation will develop that I just know is going to lead to a collision. I found myself in one of those situations a couple of days ago.

On a two lane road with a 65mph speed limit (one lane each way, undivided), a girl in a green Ford Taurus was following me so close that I couldn’t see the hood of her car in the mirror, just her face. She was talking on a cell phone. I was behind a Budweiser delivery truck that was going about 5mph less than the speed limit, but oncoming traffic made it impossible to pass. We were a few miles away from the Blackwater Trading Post (which is actually just a small store that specializes in beer sales. They sell a lot of beer, being that they are the first store you can buy beer at once you leave the reservation -beer sales are forbidden on the reservation). I want to pass the beer truck, so I am staying close enough to him that I can get around if a spot opens up in the oncoming traffic. I made an attempt to go around, but had to fall back when a car turned onto the road from a side street. The girl behind me came inches from hitting me and, well, that pissed me off.

She nearly hit me when I accelerated to go around the truck then just let off the gas. If I were to have to hit the brakes she, being so distracted on her cell phone, would surely hit me. Knowing that the beer truck was most likely going to be stopping at the trading post, which requires coming nearly to a stop on the 65mph road, I needed to get that girl behind me to fall back a bit. But since I was already a touch miffed (if you are going to tailgate, pay attention, damn it!), I decided to use the “scare the holy fuck out of her” technique. I fell back from the beer truck just a bit, and smashed the brakes with my left foot. I only hit them for a fraction of a second, and I accelerated hard with the right foot immediately to keep her from hitting me. In the mirror, I saw an expression of terror on her face as she locked up her brakes. She also dropped her cell phone. What I did was foolish, sure, but it usually makes them fall back a bit, since now they are worried about the maniac in front of them. Not this girl. She picked her phone back up and got right back on my ass.

At this point, we are maybe two minutes from getting to the trading post. I still think the beer truck is going to stop there, and the traffic still won’t allow me to pass. The girl behind me is going to hit me when we have to stop guaranteed. My only other option is to slow way down, which I did. I just let off the gas and coasted my way down to 40 or so. There still wasn’t a break in the oncoming traffic, but the girl passed me anyway, forcing me and two oncoming drivers to pull partially off of the shoulderless road. Dumb bitch. Anyway, since the beer truck was going under the speed limit, I caught back up to them just before they got to the trading post. The truck put on his brakes to stop to make the turn and…

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

The girl smashed into the back of the beer truck.

I dialed the local police on my cell phone (yes I know the number, don’t ask), and pulled off the road. I grabbed a sheet of paper from my leather binder (still in the car from the job interviews in September and October), and started writing out a witness statement (which I am an old hand at at this point, again, don’t ask).

When I saw the guy get out of the beer truck, I went over to talk to him. His name is Lenny, he used to deliver to the store I worked at. We were looking at the back of his truck, which took only minor cosmetic damage, and talking about me, actually. He hadn’t seen me since I quit working at the store here in town, so there was some catching up to do. The Taurus was pretty fucked up though. The front end of it was smashed up accordion style (well the hood was), with the requisite smoke billowing from it. The girl was crying, begging us not to call the police -which Lenny had already done as well- screaming that if she got into another wreck she would lose her license.

The cop arrived only a few minutes later. I went to his car to give him my witness statement and let him check my ID. I let him know that I was on my way to work and all my contact info was already on the statement. I was back on the road within ten minutes, and made it to work on time (of course I am usually about 20 minutes early since I leave early enough to account for getting stuck in traffic).

The whole thing leaves me wondering though. How many wrecks has that girl caused? If you aren’t driving drunk, how many collisions do you have to get into before they actually take your license away? 3? 5? Hmm. What if it was like that for other things as well? Say you shoot 2 people and the judge says, “okay, that’s it. You shoot one more person and we take your gun away!”