In which something is a bitch

4309I don’t believe in karma.  The universe doesn’t care about me (or you) one way or another, and there is no balancing force or supernatural intelligence out there looking to balance any sort of scales, especially with regard to my specific life.

That said, sometimes shit happens and makes you wonder.

Monday afternoon sometime I had a guest come into the store.  It became immediately apparent that the guest was Not Quite Right in some way or another; either impaired on some sort of substance or simply, for whatever reason, not in possession of a surfeit of social skills.  She had a problem of some sort; there’s no need to go into the details, but it was immediately clear to me– as in within a sentence or two– that I was not the person to solve her problem, but that the person who could solve her problem was in the store, and I could take her to that person in mere moments, if she would shut up about her interminably long, ridiculous, boring story long enough for me to get a word in edgewise.

You have probably had this conversation at some point, right?  Where the person takes forever to explain something to you, you provide the information they need in less than a sentence, and then they go “Yes, but” and repeat the entire story again?

It happened three times in a row until I simply walked away, assuming that either she would follow me or I would collect the person she actually needed to talk to and bring them to her.

At any rate, at about the halfway point during this conversation I noticed that this woman had her shirt on inside out.  And I went into one of those stupid mental calculation things, where my desire to be done and away from this conversation and my additional desire to not do or say things that cause embarrassment to other people went to war with, well, let’s call it “basic fucking human decency” and leave it at that.

Basic human decency did not win.  I did not point out the condition of her shirt to her, having no desire to poke the bear any further, and eventually got her into the custody of someone who could actually help her.

That 382-word short story exists as a preamble to this:  this morning I did the following:

  1. Took my dog to the vet;
  2. Took my son to breakfast at McDonalds, and ate inside the restaurant;
  3. Went to the post office;
  4. Went to the bank; and
  5. Went to Target;

and only at that point, halfway through my shopping trip at Target, did I notice that the shirt I’d thrown on that morning, a shirt that I’d pulled out of dirty laundry because I was planning on mowing the lawn after all the errands and there was no point to taking a shower (one of the advantages of being bald) or putting on clean clothes if I was just going to sweat them all up; only after all of that did I notice that I’d been out in public for two and a half hours and my shirt was– wait for it– inside out.

The end.

REPOST: MOAR BUTTZ, a tale told with pictorial accompaniment.

Context: my day has been long and tiring, and yesterday was largely consumed by dealing with my now-six-year-old son’s ass and the various horrifying products it was creating and dispensing.  I am not in the mood to write a post, but I have always felt like this one didn’t get enough credit.  And most of you haven’t seen it.  So therefore: enjoy.

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So for the last couple of days the boy has been all

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and, frankly, it’s starting to look really unpleasant.  He’s clearly not terribly happy with the situation either.

My wife gets home from work today and tells me she has a mission for me.  I’ll be honest: I was tired (again) and hungry (again) and more than a little aggravated already for reasons that I don’t plan to go into and the thought of a mission was not entirely pleasing to me.

“Describe the nature of this mission,” I requested.

“I need you to get butt paste,” she said.

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“Butt paste.” I replied.  I made sure to phrase it in such a way that she heard the period at the end of the sentence.

“Butt paste,” she says.  “I’m hoping you can get it at Martin’s.”

(Context: Martin’s is our local grocery store; it’s a chain but I’m pretty sure it’s limited to north-central Indiana and maybe lower Michigan.)

I look up Butt Paste on the Internet, which sadly is probably not the oddest search I’m going to perform on the Internet this week.  It turns out that there is a product specifically called Butt Paste.  Check the URL:  you find it at buttpaste.com, which should not be a website for medical supplies.  However, frighteningly, that is not the Butt Paste that I’m looking for.

UnknownWhat I’m looking for– what the pediatrician apparently explicitly suggested my wife try to locate– is actually called Dr. Sirlin’s Bottom Ointment, which still sounds inappropriate.  Dr. Sirlin’s Bottom Ointment is, near as I can tell, only sold in one place on Earth, but more on them later.  Needless to say, that place isn’t Martin’s.  My wife calls Martin’s anyway, just to be sure, and asks the pharmacist who answers the phone if they carry, no shit, this is a direct quote: “Dr. Sirlin’s butt paste.  For butts.  Baby butts.”

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I consider protesting the use of the phrase butt paste for this query, because we aren’t looking for butt paste, we’re looking for bottom ointment, which is clearly very different.  I do not actually voice the query.  The person on the other line comes back quickly with an affirmative.  We have butt paste!  Go for butt paste!

Unknown-1And I’m off to Martin’s.  It’s not far away from home, which is the reason we’d rather go there.  Once I get there I arrive timed perfectly with a car leaving a very choice parking spot, which I wait for.  The driver of the other car, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to get that I want her parking spot, and keeps trying to wave me on past her, thinking she’s being polite, and no amount of flailing and pointing at the empty goddamn parking spot on my part convinces her otherwise.  So instead I park here:

Unknown-2And into Martin’s I go.  To be greeted with a conundrum!  Cute Cashier Girl is for some reason working at the pharmacy counter.  Cute Cashier Girl, I hope to God, is in her early twenties.  She’s a cashier, though!  She’s not supposed to be at the pharmacy!

I cannot ask Cute Cashier Girl for butt paste.  I’m gonna try and be all suave, like

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but I know me.  It’s gonna come off all

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I cannot do this.

I spend a moment considering other options and can’t think of any.  I approach the counter.  She smiles cheerily and asks if she can help me, with no idea of the horror of the request I’m about to make of her.

“I’m looking for something called Dr. Sirlin’s Ointment?”  I omit the word bottom, because I cannot say bottom to this lovely young lady.  “I understand it’s supposed to be behind the counter for some reason.”

She looks quizzically at me, then looks around for a minute.

“I don’t see it.  What’s it for?”

Don’t say butts.

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“Diaper rash.”  Ha!  I win!

She lights up, smiling again.  “Oh!  You’re the butt paste guy!”

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Oh hell no.  I am a lot of things, Cute Cashier Girl, but I am sure as hell not butt paste guy.  No.  Uh-uh.  No goddamn way.

The butt paste, apparently, is not behind the counter.  It is actually in the baby aisle.  I swallow what is left of my dignity and head for the baby aisle, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt what is about to happen.  And my worst fears come true:

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God dammit.  That, you will notice, is not Dr. Sirlin’s Bottom Ointment.  That’s fucking butt paste.  I don’t want butt paste.  I want bottom ointment.

I pick up the box, cursing God and all creation, and return to the pharmacy counter.  She’s still there, of course, it’s not like the goddamn baby aisle is that far away.

“I have a, uh, follow-up question?”

“Oh, okay!”  oh god she hates me so much she’s actually got her bright cheery smile on her face, and a bit of a twinkle in her eye that suggests to me that she’s enjoying my pain.

“I assume you are the one my wife talked to.”

“Yep!”

“She asked for Dr. Sirlin’s… (makes a face) Butt Paste.  The stuff we want is actually called

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Bottom ointment.  I thought this might happen.  Do you have the ointment?  This isn’t actually what I’m looking for.”

She looks around again and then signals the actual pharmacist, who has been hiding behind a rack of drugs and trying her damnedest to keep a fucking straight face.  The pharmacist confirms that, no, they don’t have Bottom Ointment.  Just Butt Paste.  So I have to go to the other place.

I thank her for her time and apologize for my own nonsense.  Off to the car!

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There are two reasons I don’t want to go to this other establishment.  One I’ll get to later.  The other is that they are a million miles away.  They are literally not in the same town I’m in.  I don’t want to go to another town for butt paste or bottom ointment.  I want to be home, eating dinner.  In my town.

But I love my wife, and I love my son, at least the non-butt parts of him.  So off I go.  I drive past this place on my way home from OtherJob all the time, so I know where it is, and I head there– to OtherJob, not quite realizing until it’s slightly too late that I drive past it on the way home from OtherJob, and for reasons that are not interesting I generally drive home from OtherJob via a different route than I take to get to OtherJob.  So I’m going the wrong way.

Once I realize this and correct my course, I still manage to make two fucking wrong turns before successfully arriving at Pharmacy Two.  On the way over to the pharmacy, it occurs to me that I am so fucking blogging this shit when I get home.  I take a moment in their parking lot and compose an entertaining Tweet to that effect.  Then I get out and go inside.

Well, I try to.  As I’m reaching for the fucking door, an employee locks the fucking thing from the inside and points at a sign next to the door.  The sign cheerfully informs me that this fucking place closes at six, as pharmacies do oh wait no they fucking don’t, ever.

I look at my watch.

It’s five fucking fifty-eight.

At this point my mood somewhat transitions.

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I was entertained with this bullshit up until this exact fucking second.

You did not just LOCK A FUCKING DOOR IN MY FUCKING FACE TWO FUCKING MINUTES BEFORE FUCKING CLOSING AT A FUCKING ***PHARMACY***.  It ain’t goddamn 1983 anymore.  My fucking watch ties into a goddamn satellite that tells it what time it is.  I can’t even adjust the motherfucker.  It ain’t goddamn 6:00 yet, which means your ass isn’t fucking closed yet.

Listen, bitch, this ain’t fucking Barnes and Noble and it isn’t fucking Applebee’s.  I am not fucking here to browse.  You’re a pharmacy, motherfucker, and no fucker anywhere goes to a fucking pharmacy unless they motherfucking need to. I am there to get my shit and get the fuck out, and don’t you dare fucking thing for one fucking second that I can’t see that there is at least one motherfucker in there who isn’t dressed like he’s at fucking work.

I have two fuckin’ choices here.  One is to go home.   The other is to go to jail.  Jail will no doubt feel better but either way there will be no fucking Bottom Ointment.

Not.  Happy.

I went home and had dinner.  A bit more research after dinner indicated that Dr. Sirlin’s Bottom Ointment is apparently produced by this pharmacy.  It’s literally the only place you can get it other than the Internet.  Well, fuck them.

Butt Paste it is.  I return to Martin’s.

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I collect my Butt Paste.  I go back to the pharmacy counter, because I’m buying this with a damn flex account and it’s easier if we just use the pharmacy counter to buy anything medical-related.  She’s still there, naturally.  And she, I swear to God, says:

“There’s a story here, isn’t there.”

Oh sweetie.  You have no idea.

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(ADDENDUM:  I didn’t include this in context because it kinda kills the tone of the piece, but the other reason I don’t like this pharmacy?  They tried to kill my dog.  My dog in high school/early college developed epilepsy, and rather than try to get a canine version of the drug they needed the vet just contracted through them to produce his medicine– which happened to be in liquid form.  He was on the stuff for quite a while, and at some point we went in and got a bottle that was a radically different color and consistency than every other version of the medicine we’d gotten.  The pharmacist not only argued with my mother about whether the medicine was different, at one point he actually said the words “Look, it’s just for a dog.”  So this is the second time this place has nearly resulted in a member of my family going to jail.  Merrill Pharmacy in Mishawaka, Indiana?  Go fuck yourselves.)

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(FINAL NOTE:  As I was finishing this post up, my wife, who has been bathing our son, sticks her head into the office.  “Hey, babe?  There’s poop in the tub.”  Because of course there is.)

The End.

Goddammit

anigif_enhanced-27989-1443109445-7I’ve posted, what, five times in all of May so far?  Something like that, and half of them were useless?  I don’t know if I’m depressed or what but I’ve just had nothing to say lately.  Well, that’s not quite true– I have a bunch of posts I’d sort of like to write but as soon as I actually sit down in front of a computer I’d rather do anything but write.  I haven’t written a word of fiction or drawn a picture in probably over a month.  I’ve got a damn convention coming up in a few weeks.  It occurred to me the other day that I probably ought to check my stock on my books and place a restock order, and Createspace is not fast, guys, and the entire thought was just too exhausting to even seriously think about.

So, yeah, a brief list of posts I might write, if I was actually in possession of the necessary headspace to do any such thing:

  • A review of Robert McCammon’s Swan Song, which someone recommended to me, someone whose identity I can no longer recall, a book which is so terrible that it deserves to be torn to shreds here;
  • A review of the magnificent God of War for PS4, which I beat today and is easily the best game of this generation that I’ve played;
  • I came really close last night to writing a post about how I wanted to start a Patreon and a podcast and had cool ideas for both but that would require optimism and creative energy and at the moment I have neither;
  • A music post, since I’ve downloaded a lot of good albums lately;
  • A pre-review of The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang, which I’m reading right now.  Actually, let’s do this right now: go buy this book and read it.  I didn’t get enough sleep last night because I couldn’t put it down.  It’s really something special.

I dunno what’s going on, but it’d be cool if I could snap the fuck out of it.

In which I’m not sure what I’m mad about

R-580242-1518276830-4202.jpegSo the district I used to work for just named its Teacher of the Year for the 2017-18 school year.  I don’t know the guy; he teaches fourth grade and has been with the district for five years.  I assume he’s good at his job; typically that’s a requirement for being named a building TotY, and to be named for the entire district is a genuinely big deal.  Best I ever did was top 10.

There’s an article in the paper about him.  After thinking about it, I’m not going to link to it, because the purpose of this post is not to shit on this guy and you’re just going to have to believe me that I’m quoting this accurately.  The article is mostly Good Teacher Boilerplate until I got to this part, about 2/3 of the way through:

Like his students, (name redacted) appears to have a bottomless well of energy.

He and his wife, (Mrs. redacted), have three children, ages 4, 2 and 1.

Besides full-time teaching, (redacted) works 10 to 25 hours per week at a home improvement store and is studying for a master’s degree at IU South Bend. He was head football coach for 11 years for the team at St. Matthew’s School in South Bend.

My first thought was that it’s ridiculous that we pay our teachers so Goddamn poorly that  this guy, like most working teachers in the area, has to have a second job.  Without an MA and with five years of experience he’s probably not even making 35K a year, and if he is, it’s barely.  And that’s too low.  It’s insane that a job that requires a college degree and insists on continuing education after that pays so poorly, particularly one that’s so critical to the functioning of society at large.

And then I thought about it a little more.  Dude’s a full-time teacher.  That’s, bare minimum, 8-4 five days a week.  He’s not in a low-grading classroom where he can just pass/fail everyone, and for me grading and lesson planning was at least another eight hours a week– ie, most of Saturday or most of Sunday or longer hours every day during the week– and I was excellent at crafting assignments that took as little time as possible to grade.  No Teacher of the Year is working 40-hour weeks.  It’s impossible.

And he’s supposedly laying another one to three eight-hour shifts on top of that, plus a bare minimum three hours a week in an MA classroom assuming he’s only taking one class and doesn’t spend a single second reading or studying, plus travel time to all the above, plus he has three children all under five years old?

And now part of me is going “Jesus, this poor guy,” and the rest of me is pretty goddamn sure somebody somewhere is lying, because there literally aren’t enough hours in the week for anyone to pull this schedule off.  The reporter apparently didn’t care enough to add it up and figure out that this guy is claiming eleven-hour work days every single day ever while also somehow raising three very fucking small kids.

I seriously can’t figure out which is worse: that this could actually be his schedule, in which case he’s going to burn out and hit a wall very, very soon, and it’s not going to be pretty for anyone involved when he does, or if a guy who is already Teacher of the Year still feels the need to lie about his schedule and the reporter just shrugged and wrote it down.    That’s how pervasive the teacher-as-martyr idea is; he or she looked at all that and boiled it down to “bottomless energy” and not “on the road to flaming out and divorce at 30.”