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May 28, 2008

Odd person No. 2: Attention hog

Let me preface this post by saying that it will not be as hilarious as I intended because I seem to have left the notebook in which I chronicled OP2's behavior in my office, and I am currently in Arizona.

I was at a local cafe on Sunday to chronicle a jug band contest. After having done the bulk of reporting in the first two hours of this eight-hour jug-gernaut (hyuk!), I had just returned for the last half-hour to see who would be declared winner of the coveted Krumkakke Iron Trophy (second place won freshly caught steelhead... gotta love northern Minnesota).

After the champions were announced I ambled over to the man who seemed to be their leader and asked him if I could interview him for the paper. What follows is an approximation of what the gentleman said as he got close enough to me for me to smell that he had apparently bathed in gin that morning.

"What's your name?"
"Bob."
"Bob what?"
"Bob Dylan."

***

"What instruments do you play?"
"Well, I played the harmonica tonight, but I also play guitar. And spoons. And the occasional jug. And I blow a mean whistle. I've done washboard before. I also play the ham bone."
"The hand bone? What's that?"
"No, the ham bone. Like this: (slaps hand on thigh)."

***

"What does winning this prize mean to you?"
"Apple pie... mom... the American flag... getting the Republicans out of office... no, wait, say getting those goddamn bastard Republicans out of office... want me to keep going?"

***

"Well, I think those were all the questions I had for you."
"Are you sure? Because I sure do like the attention you've been giving me."

May 23, 2008

How to make an unamusing work day more amusing

Disclaimer: At least one of my work superiors now reads this tract, so I want to assure her and all others concerned about my productivity that I only resort to the following during the spans of pensiveness I must indulge before spewing out a story. Remove treasure from your keyboard: The obsessive-compulsive in me recently became, well, obsessed with my keyboard being spick and span. Not satisfied with hanging it upside down over my garbage can and gently tapping it, I have taken to popping off the keys using a defunct pen as leverage so I can more effectively remove dust, granola bar crumbs and other errant bits of debris. I would recommend only removing a few keys at a time so you can ensure accurate replacement.

Use unique words to spell your email address: This one always gets me giggling on even the most gloomy day. Most people use a predetermined set of words to clarify which letters they’re saying, i.e. “P as in Peter, i as in igloo, r as in rat, a as in apple, t as in tree, e as in egg.” I like to use more non-conventional words, i.e. “N as in natal, u as in umbilical, g as in gregarious, g as in geriatric, e as in elephantitis, t as in Tunisia—at—t as in tinkle, p as in prenatal—dot—com.” Oh, the fun you can have.

Exchange nonsense phrases in your foreign language of choice with a cubemate: My work pal has picked up a good deal of French from visits to the Cheesey Wineland and educational media like this. Sometimes, like yesterday, we go through a list of produce vocabulary. Other times he’ll tell me, “Voulez-vous coucher sur le Lac Qui Parle, Mont St. Michel, n’est-ce pas?” and I’ll respond with, “Il y a une pamplemousse dans le forêt magique qui a un clé au royaume magique dedans. Cherche-le!”

Look for jobs in Portland: This is a really fun game, and it’s made even more amusing by the fact that you can be a college grad with all sorts of great experience and you still won’t qualify for anything that looks even remotely interesting. Plus, sometimes you come across real gems, like this job working for a Masonic Lodge. One of the job duties is to prepare “needed items for the change over to the new Grand Master, i.e. pocket calendars, etc.” My aforementioned superior and I hypothesized that “etc” might mean skulls, rings that hold poison, magic plumb-bob and most holy and mysterious fez.

May 8, 2008

I think I pressed my parking luck

Remember how my parking lot attendant was creeping me out? Since writing that post I haven’t been back to his garage. Sometimes my van spends the day at a meter. At times I’ll cough up $4 to hitch my wagon at a bowling alley’s lot.

But lately, upon the advice of some sneaky co-workers, I’ve been leaving Ol’ Red in a (free!) hotel parking lot that has signs everywhere stating that only hotel guests may park there. There’s a greasy-haired, snaggle-toothed gremlin who watches from the hotel’s back doors to guard against malfeasance, and the game is to exit your car, duck out under the garage’s overhang, speedwalk up a hill and down the street to the office without him catching you.

About a month ago, I lost. I had pulled in next to a coworker and was nervously chatting with him before making my trek up the hill. I had turned the corner to the street, thinking I was safe, when the gremlin literally ran up to me, waving his arms, telling me my actions were verboten.

“You can’t (heave) park there (heave) unless you’re a (heave) hotel guest,” he panted.

“Oh really?” I asked innocently. “I didn’t see a sign.”

I apologized and drove across the street to the bowling alley. I waited a few days before trying again, and since then I’ve only parked there if I arrive by 8:40, figuring he doesn’t start patrolling until about 8:45.

This morning, I did everything right. I left my house on time, made sure there were no shadowy signs of life from the back door before I parked, silently locked and closed my doors, and began my speed walk up the hill. When I reached the street I thought I was safe, but the gremlin appeared on the second floor of the parking garage below me.

“Ma’am!” he screamed. “You can’t park there! Ma’am! MA’AM!”

I ignored him, thinking that if he caught up to me I could claim to have been listening to an iPod and didn’t hear him. When he started moving like he planned to follow me on my trajectory, I cut across the street and headed to the courthouse, thinking I could claim sanctuary.

“MA’AM! I’LL TICKET AND TOW YOU! MA’AM! DON’T YOU WALK AWAY FROM ME!”

I walked away from him and into the courthouse. I had to get a refund from the post office there anyway. When I was done, I circled around the government buildings and entered the skywalk, not wanting to reveal my place of employment in case he was still watching.

I don’t think he’ll really tow me… He didn’t see me get out of the car so there would be a chance that he towed the wrong one. Plus, I’m parked inside the garage between two cars. Could a tow truck really get in there?

Regardless, from now on, since I’m something of a wuss, my free ride (park?) is over.

Update: I followed a complicated route around the hotel at 11 a.m. so I could catch a glimpse of my car. She was safe. I returned for another peek at four, this time risking a route that put me much more out in the open. After ascertaining she was right where I left her, I hesitated, thinking maybe I should just drive to a meter so I wouldn’t have to make another harrowing journey to the site when I was done with work. The exact moment I was about to go into the garage, the gremlin drove right past me in a hotel van. I cast my eyes shoe-ward in hopes that he wouldn’t recognize me, then continued walking down the sidewalk in case he was spying on me from his rearview mirror. Then I jumped in Ol’ Red and got the heck out in my Dodge (get it?).

May 7, 2008

More news from the dead and dying animal beat

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After the Windchill debacle of February 2008, I can’t claim to have been ignorant of what would happen when I wrote about a guy who hit a dog and is now suing the dog’s owners for damages to his car. Its name was Fester. It was a “special needs” dog after seizing as an infant and losing oxygen to the brain.

There was no way people weren’t going to “lap up” this “tail.” (Hyuk!)

When I got into the office I checked our website and, sure enough, it was the top-read story. It also had amassed three pages’ worth of comments from animal lovers and those with animal apathy alike. Then I got a call from a radio station in Montreal that wanted me to go on-air to comment on the story. Then I got another email from a nationwide Canadian station with the same request. Turns out the AP and Canadian Press had picked it up.

Those Canucks sure love their ailing critters.

I’ll update if I get impassioned pleas from animal lovers or more requests from the foreign press.