Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How To Rob A Bank

Robbing a bank would be easy if you worked there. This idea occurred to me one day on my lunch break. I was working a temp job at an insurance company, mostly filing. Word to the wise; if you need filing done, don't ever hire out this job to a temp agency, because temps don't give a bloody shit if the files are in the right spot or not.

I usually loved temping; not the actual jobs, just the idea of temping. Its the employment equivalent of a one-night-stand. Sometimes you would take an assignment that turned out to be so heinous that you would leave for lunch and never go back. Or maybe you would call the agency and bitch to them about how terrible the place is and they'd offer you fifty cents more an hour if you'll stick it out the whole week.

Office jobs tended to be the best because they required a minimal amount of actual work and had the least supervision. Best of all, offices have tons of stuff to snatch from kitchens and supply rooms. The first couple of days on the assignment you get familiar with the layout of the place and the usual schedule of who's coming and going. The third day was typically when I began to fill my pockets with an odd assortment of whatever could be found. Liquid paper, highlighters and Post-its from the supply closet and then coffee, tea and cup-o-soup packets from the break room.

When you're a temp there is no fear of "losing your job" and no worrying what your co-workers might think if you were caught stealing. All of the "regular" employees are the enemy and they treat you like a second-class citizen, a slave to whom they can pass on the crap-work that is beneath them to do. Keeping this in mind at all times provides the necessary emotional detachment to aide in the thieving as well. And, like any burglar worth his salt, by the time the crime is discovered you will be long gone. I am actually not usually prone to theft nor am I anti-establishment; but I won't lie, it was upsetting to work each day among others who acted as though they were better than you and were paid more than you and had far better benefits than you, (which is to say, none at all). I therefore considered my pilfering leveling the playing field. Sure, I didn't have major medical coverage, but my cabinets at home were stocked with hundreds if not thousands of dollars worth of Chock-Full-O-Nuts coffee.

Once, I remember hitting the mother-lode on a fill-in receptionist position for the executive offices at a bank. The job was a new low level of boredom the likes of which I had never seen or have yet to see again. Nobody ever called the three or so execs and on the two occasions that someone actually did, you simply transferred them to the extension and were done. There were nearly no employees on the entire second floor with me and next to no work to do all day long. On the morning of my first day, this woman, Nancy, was telling me the details of what I'd be doing for the next few days. "Oh, and help yourself to the executive pantry down the hall and the restrooms are a little further down." At least, I think she mentioned the restrooms, but can't be entirely sure, since I heard nothing after "Executive Pantry". At the first opportunity, I wandered down the hall to see if this little kitchen lived up to it's namesake. I walked in and I swear I heard angels singing as I was bathed in the warm glow of fluorescent light glimmering off of shelves lined with rows and rows of beautiful snacks. I nearly wept as I beheld Poptarts and Powerbars, Combos and Crispy Cremes, sweet rolls and donut holes. I finally came to and stuffed my pockets with the loot and casually strolled back to my desk with my coffee and a cheese danish, some of Little Debbie's finest work. It was lucky for me that most people just don't notice temps because those three days I was like Eddie Murphy in Flubber, I walked in all skinny in the morning and shuffled out the door 200 pounds heavier in the afternoon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waking Up

Waking up is a curious thing. About 95 percent of the time we pay no special attention to our little daily ritual of coming out of sleep. 95 percent our our lives we wake, probably to the blaring annoyance of an alarm or obnoxious morning DJ on whatever station is programmed on the clock radio. Then we lay there for a few moments, sort of contemplating whether or not to crawl out of bed, "what would happen if I didn't get up?". Of course, eventually we succumb to whatever qualifies as a motivation in our lives and we drag our  clumsy asses to the bathroom to begin the day.

I don't care about the 95 percent. I'm thinking about the other five percent. There are days when just waking up is the most thrilling and amazing feeling you can experience.

Like when you're about nine years old and, somehow, nobody is quite sure how, you instantly know that it's a snow day. And not like one of those days that it might possibly be a snow day, because those are a dime a dozen, but for sure, like there's no way in hell because it snowed 21 inches overnight. Those are great days to wake up to.

Or when you are on vacation, be it on some remote tropical island where nobody speaks a bit of proper english or visiting one of our beautiful southern states where nobody speaks a bit of proper english. That feeling what you first wake as fantastic because for a split second you're mind is saying, "where the F am I!?" and then you remember, oh yeah, I'm in a cushy hotel room on vacation. The next feeling is the sweet satisfaction you get when your mind is just about to roll through the reasons you need to get up, just out of habit, and you stop yourself mid-thought and say, "No, I don't need to get up early today, in fact, I could stay in bad all damned day if I wanted to." Those are great days to wake up to.

For a little kid of maybe seven or so, there is almost no feeling of exhilaration that can match waking up on Christmas morning. This is because Christmas has all of the amazing elements of childhood ecstasy rolled into one day; no school, toys, candy, presents and family. It's funny to see my daughter, literally falling down the stairs with excitement on that morning of mornings. Those are great days to wake up to.

There have been some scary times waking up too though. Usually when you wake up in a strange place you are freaked out, but as you slowly realize where you are, you become ok. But sometimes that is not the case and you only feel worse once you take it all in and understand where you are. Several times that has happened to me; waking up in a dumpster behind a post office, arising in the loft of an unknown cow barn in the middle of nowhere, and waking up under a girlfriend's bed after spending the night there.

Just waking up itself is a pretty damned amazing event. We go to sleep every night fully expecting that we'll wake up the next morning when the truth is that we just might not. If I could only have one goal in life, maybe that would be a pretty good one; To awake each day thankful to have the gift of another day of life. Or maybe my goal should be to become a greeting card writer.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Rules of Parenthood

Yesterday morning was a weekday much like any other, or at least that's what I thought upon getting up. I made coffee, showered and got dressed as I normally would, unaware of the grave error that I was about to commit. Around 7:20 I went into my little seven-year-old Brianna's room and began the process of rousting her out of bed. Every school day I go in, make a ruckus of turning off the fan, turning on the light and saying "Good morning! Time to get UP!". I remove all covers, pillows and items of comfort until she just curled into the fetal position in the middle of her bed. Then I begin picking out her clothes and usually by the time I'm done with that she's began shivering enough that she is motivated to get out of bed and into her clothes. Yesterday, however, at the end of the process, my sweet little one just glared at me and growled...yes, growled. I was about to get upset when I school today! I couldn't really believe I had committed such a grave error. I hastily threw pillows and blankets back into place, turned on the fan and shut off the light all the while apologizing profusely for being such an idiot.

And so I've done it, broken one of the cardinal sins of parenthood, and woken my child on their day off. To some parents, perhaps they can shrug this off, but not me. See, I have a list of parenting commandments  in my head that are not to be broken, and "Thou shalt let thy child sleep on holidays, snow days and weekends" was on that list. Now I really have to watch it on some of the others lest I end up in parenting hell, (which is not, as it turns out, may or may not be Chucky Cheese).

Thou shalt not show pictures of my daughter in the bathtub to her prom date

Thou shalt not tell cute pottytraining stories to my daughters friends during their sleepovers

Thou shalt immediately halt "hugs n kissies" when dropping my daughter off at school

Thou shalt not attempt to use the same slang that my daughter & friends are using to appear "cool"

Thou shalt not ever wear a fanny pack on a family outing

Thou shalt not pick up my daughter from school in my robe

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Rolling Keiths: You think you know what you know, but you just nev...

The Rolling Keiths: You think you know what you know, but you just nev...: "I love the movie Forrest Gump and it's not just the great acting, amazing soundtrack or hilariously quotable one-liners throughout. The main..."

You think you know what you know, but you just never know.

I love the movie Forrest Gump and it's not just the great acting, amazing soundtrack or hilariously quotable one-liners throughout. The main reason why I think it's so great is that Gump is an idiot, just like you and me, who manages to stumble into a number of scrapes and successes in life through sheer dumb luck. Granted, some luck is good, some bad, but in the end, it's all just luck.

Gump was right, "Life is like a box of chocolates" but he was wrong about WHY. Life is like a box of chocolates, but usually, we do know what we're "gonna get", thats what that little paper insert or the list on the back of the box is for. The problem is not that you don't know what you're going to get, but that once you get what you thought you wanted, it's not at all what you expected. So you look at the little chart, "hmm, dark chocolate hazelnut cream, that sounds fantastic" then two seconds later you're spitting the nastiness out in the trash.

This is a major issue we have as people, we think we know what we like, need, want, or what will make us happy. The problem is that we are wrong...a lot. This is ok, if we can accept it and move on. When we are wrong, if we could back out of the decision as quickly as we did with the wrong chocolate, how much time and suffering we would save. But we don't, for many many reasons, most involving our ego. Backing quickly out of a choice that was clearly wrong would mean admitting that we were wrong, and who likes to do that? Also, maybe the result of a bad decision has some good parts, so we stick it out, take the bad with the good. 

Here's another piece of the puzzle; once people have an experience, they convince themselves that they knew what the outcome was going to be all along. I did a little experiment last week, asking a handful of people, "So, how do you think the Bears are going to do against Green Bay Sunday?" and there was a range of different reasons why everyone thought the Bears would win, some technical and some more emotionally based. Then I asked those same people again on Monday how they felt and I got another range of answers, but everyone apparently KNEW that Chicago would not beat Green Bay.

The end result is people reading "self help" books wondering why the hell they are not happy when they have all the things they could ever want. I went through this phase and cursed myself, "how dare I be unhappy when there are so many people the world over who have nothing, I should be thankful, dammit!" All of our lives, we all have been subconsciously imprinted with visions of what a happy life is supposed to be, but the truth is that those are someone else's ideals. A bum in an alley is likely to be more happy than you at this moment, but we can't believe that.

So, the unfortunate summary that I have for you is that whatever you have in life, good, bad, or somewhere in between, it really is just dumb luck...but you already knew that, right? 

Friday, January 21, 2011

My Father, The Clown

Growing up, my Dad had many different jobs and businesses, most of them quite successful. Some that I can remember are: Dohnut shop manager, painting business, balloon factory worker, carpet cleaning business, head chef at a retirement community, drywall & remodeling business, janitor, and of course... the clown.

Yes, my Father was a clown, Howdy the Clown, actually. My Dad was a great clown and took his clowning very seriously. Though I was not aware of it previously, there are schools for clowning, and my Father attended clown classes and eventually received certification. Dad had a family friend custom sew his costume and he was always adding wacky accessories to the mix just to make it more fun for the kids.

Once, Dad thought it would be cool if Howdy the Clown had a sidekick. It was agreed that I would be Howdy's right hand man. Being a shy kid of probably about 12, I'm still not sure how my Dad convinced me to do this. I am certain that I picked out a clown name, but sadly I cannot for the life of me remember what it was. A costume was quickly thrown together for me and Dad spent hours writing little skits that we would perform. At home we would tirelessly practice these skits for the big birthday party coming up. I remember one where I do something to make Howdy pissed off, like stealing his horn or something. Howdy then chases me around the room with a bucket of "water" and finally catches up with me right in front of the audience, I duck at just the right moment and a bucket of confetti gets sprayed over the kids.

Time has faded the memories of my feelings about that time. Was I mortified to do a clown show with my Dad or was I disappointed that there was only one? I don't see my Father much anymore and I'm not entirely sure if Howdy has hung op his rubber nose for good or not. I think that next time I talk to him though I'll tell him I'm proud of him. Now that I'm a grown man, I know what courage it takes for a man with a family to follow a dream.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011 Chicago Boat, RV & Outdoors Show

On Saturday Heather, Malia and I went out to McCormick place for the 2011 Chicago Boat, RV & Outdoors Show. Paul, Connie and Brianna wanted to take the train and bus in, just for fun, so they met up with us a little later. Can I just say that despite the number of times we've been to events at McCormick, it never ceases to amaze me how immense the place is, (2.6 million sq. ft of exhibit halls and 600,000 sq. ft. of meeting rooms, for those interested).

We knew we only had 3 hours, so we headed straight to the RV's first. The Airstream booth was the first stop, not that we intend to buy an Airstream, since they mainly make trailers, and we won't be towing a trailer around. Airstreams are just cool as hell, both inside and out. For those not familiar with the name, these are the classic looking trailers that are basically a stainless steel Twinkie on the outside. Well, they have very sleek modern styling on the inside as well, not at all like most other trailer interiors. I was also pleasantly surprised by the prices on them, as I always thought they were way more expensive, since these babies really hold their value.

We wandered around a bit more until Breezy, Paul & Connie showed up. The center of the hall had this nice area of activities for the kids and it was all free. Breezy got to try catch-and-release fishing in a pool, climbed a cool rope jungle gym and bounced around on an inflatable slide.

Then is was off to the Dock Dogs competition. This is where trained dogs run along a dock and then leap into the air off the end of the dock, as high as they can, in an attempt to reach a toy, finally landing with a great splash into a pool. I had seen this on tv before, but never in real life and I have to say it was pretty impressive. The dogs we saw jumped as high as 6 feet 6 inches off the dock. These dogs are quick, and after several failed attempts, this is the best shot we could get of the leapin' labs.

They had several boat restoration companies on hand with some really amazing examples of completed projects as well as pre-restored Chris Crafts that showed just how much work they must put into these fantastic restorations. Some of these boats were sunk or rotting away in a barn someplace but now they are flawless. I would actually be too afraid to put these beauties on the water. 
We also saw a few incredible yachts that I'm not even posting pics of because they just didn't do justice, but if you're interested, Google "Formula 45 Yacht".

Lastly, we got back to the RV's. We looked through tons of them and, I must say, we had it in our minds that we were going to have to go with a Class C to live in full time and that hasn't changed after going to the show. Just for fun, we did look at a lot of Class A and the bus-type motorhomes, but we found them to be not a whole lot larger in the interior then the Class Cs. This is actually a blessing, since they cost at least twice as much as a Class C and I had this fear that we'd go into some Class As and fall in love, but thankfully not. On top of all that, how I would drive something 50 feet long is something I don't ever hope to contend with. The RV we really loved is called the Forester. It's 31 feet long and has a back bedroom for us and a hallway with bunkbeds for the girls. 

That's all for now, but believe it or not, next Sunday, we're going to the Lake County Camping & RV show as well. I'm looking forward to this one too, since it's all RV's & no boats. We're also talking about hitting one last RV show in March at Rosemont.