Archive

Archive for the ‘Stupidity’ Category

The Time I Was Told to Burn for the Good of the Company

August 11, 2013 1 comment

Burning-Man

Back when I was working my terrible receptionist job, I learned a lot about corporate culture. Namely, that nobody gives a single shit about you unless you somehow bring in lots and lots of money.

There were several low moments for me. One time, one of the salesmen on the floor lectured me at length for “not doing enough with my life” and told me my self-esteem sucked. I hardly knew him at all. Another time a crazy man came in through the door and blew past the reception desk. I was told to physically chase him down and tackle him, which I refused to do. At 5’0″, I didn’t get paid nearly enough to risk my life trying to trip up a crazy person who was possibly armed.

But one of the worst was when there was a fire in the building. Not a drill, but an actual fire, at least as far as we knew at the time. The alarm went off, and I gathered up my purse to begin evacuating with the others. My boss told me put my things down, stay put, and keep answering the phone (despite the fact that the alarm was so loud that it was impossible to hear who was calling). A missed call could mean a missed sale. He told me that there probably wasn’t a real fire anyway, so I should just keep doing my job. He stood over me as the rest of the employees filed out the door, watching me answer calls in vain, shouting, “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you!” as the phone rang again and again. He finally left with the others, telling me to keep manning the phone unless I saw smoke.

As soon as he fled out of the door, I ran to a different exit, fearful that I was going to be burned alive on the 37th floor. I headed to the stairwell, and hoped he wouldn’t turn around and see me. He didn’t. I headed to a local cafe after reaching the lobby, and continued to hide from my coworkers. It turned out the fire was real, but small, and not on our floor.

After we finally got the all clear, I tried to run up first. My boss found me still at my desk, answering calls. As far as he knew, I stayed at my post. He gave me a little nod, perhaps impressed that I was willing to risk my life for the good of the company.

I hope to never work in a corporate office ever again.

Advertisements

The Time I Hated Citibike

August 4, 2013 2 comments

Citibike

So, I became a member of Citibike, the bike-share system launched in NYC in May, fairly early on. I wasn’t one of the people with a little blue key fob the first week, but I was there by the third. And I’m here to tell you why I don’t much like it.

Some of this is probably unfair, and I’m sure many of my complaints are shared by just about every big city bike-share system in the world. But still, I can’t say I’m not disappointed. When I first heard about Citibike, I got pretty excited since I have a long walk to a subway hub, and I thought bikes could become a part of my daily commute. Or I could just use it to help me run errands after work. Alas, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

The system works roughly like this: You have an annual membership (around $100) that allows you to use a key fob to unlock any bike in the city. You then have 45 minutes to ride it to your destination, and you must park it at another bike dock before time is up, or get charged some pretty outrageous fees. For those who buy only a day or week bike pass, the time limit is reduced to 30 minutes. In NYC, this is theoretically not a difficult hurdle since the bike racks are practically everywhere. Well, except for where you need to go.

Oddly, there are very few racks on the far East and West of Manhattan, where you would think the demand would be high because of the dedicated (and therefore more safe) bike lanes that run along the edges of the island and give you fantastic river views. But nope, all the racks are at least 5 blocks from the edge, forcing you to grab a bike and ride through NYC traffic to reach these oases.

And NYC traffic is terrifying. I’ve now ridden through it several times, and I immediately get panicky and sweaty, my heart pounding hard enough to cause ripples in my shirt. Many streets are one-way, and have no bike lane, and vehicles will not hesitate to honk and narrowly swerve around you. You are constantly scanning the cars parked to your right, hoping against hope that someone isn’t about to open a door and clothesline you to DEATH. Seeing brake lights is a good indication that a door is about to open, but not always. Pedestrians also couldn’t give less of a shit about you, and will cross directly in front of your path even if you have a green light. Nobody looks. Nobody pays attention.

I have never been so aware of traffic as when I’m on a Citibike.

The bikes themselves are also insanely heavy at about 45 lbs. apiece. For someone who is 5’0″, this makes for an ungainly wobbling ride through hot, crowded streets. To unlock the bike from a dock, you have to physically lift up the bike and remove it from the magnetic lock, which is a task I struggle with mightily. I have such problems docking and undocking the damn things that often a bystander will do it for me out of pity. The small baskets on the front of the bikes have bungee cords to hold your belongings, but I find they’re still too small for my purse (though to be fair, my purse is the size of my entire torso).

But my biggest gripe with Citibike is the docking situation. There is an app for the system that is supposed to tell you how many docks are free (and therefore able to be parked in) in a given location, but in practice, the numbers are wildly inaccurate. Every time I have tried to park near my apartment, the docks are all full, no matter that the app told me that there were five parking spots. I then ride another five minutes to another dock, now not very close at all to my apartment, which is ALSO full, though the app assured me that seven delicious parking spots were ready and waiting. Upon arriving at my THIRD dock, I find not only zero parking spaces (the app said there were nine), but also two other worried-looking Citibike riders circling around, fruitlessly seeking a place to leave their bikes. One rider, fed up with the system, just left their bike by the docks and threw up his hands in disgust. Doing this will automatically charge your credit card $1000, so finding a dock, and finding it QUICKLY (before your 45 minutes are up) is imperative.

On three separate occasions, I have had to go to four different docks before finally finding a parking space, and frantically shoving your bike into a dock is a race against time. Often, another bike is racing towards the same one empty parking spot, and it is survival of the fittest. I have had to ride aimlessly around Manhattan for 30 minutes searching for spots at 1 in the morning. I then have a long walk in the dark to actually get to my apartment. It would have been faster to simply ride the subway and walk in the first place. Also, a few times, docks have been “closed for rebooting” or simply closed indefinitely, the shiny bikes glittering in the sun, but ultimately useless.

Despite the fact that I have paid for a year’s worth of this system, I plan on walking from now on. It’s simply not worth the stress of both the streets and the docks. Of course, this could all be remedied if I just spent $200 or so on my own bike and parked it at my apartment, but then it would probably get stolen. NYC bike thieves seem to be second to none. Also, I am supremely lazy. So there.

The Time My Boss Showed Me Her Boobs

April 7, 2013 Leave a comment

fireant

So, my former boss had boobs.

This, in of itself, is not remarkable. However, when she sustained an injury to said breast that she insisted was my fault, I found myself face to face with a lot of boob meat.

It all started when I decided I simply had to have a pet in the office. Our soulless span of cold grey cubicles seemed like a parody of a stifling office, and I was beginning to crack. I had already decorated my cube with a lava lamp, a Rubik’s cube, some putty, and other assorted toys, but it still felt like a desk of despair. Perhaps it was the lack of visible windows, or my beautiful view into a dangerously overcrowded supply closet that maimed many a fellow employee.

Whatever the reasons, I somehow felt that introducing LIFE would be a good start.

The natural cubicle pet is, of course, a plant. But given my previous experiences with plants of all shapes and sizes, I knew that I would somehow manage to care it to death within a few weeks. Either that or it would thrive, but then become infested with tiny mites that would then spread across the thinly carpeted floor. Plus the aforementioned lack of sunlight would doom all but the heartiest vegetation.

No, I wanted something that would move.

And so came the purchase of an ant farm. To save myself time and frustration, I opted for the creepy blue gel version of the farm, in which the unfortunate ants would both dig, eat, and shit out only a space-age gel the color of Windex until they ultimately died from despair. Because owning an ant farm as an adult is truly one of the more depressing experiences out there. As the Onion so eloquently observed, an ant farm is a “fun, interactive way to teach children ages 5 and up about unceasing, backbreaking toil and the cold, inescapable reality of death.”

The ants are all female, and fucking PISSED OFF when you receive them in the mail. I placed mine in the workplace fridge to calm them down, which upset many coworkers who felt I was doing some sort of cruel experiment. In a way, I suppose I was. After depositing the now semi-comatose ants into the enclosure, they quickly perked up and began to dig. And die. And dig. And then muse on the ephemerality of life. And then die some more.

The bodies piled up quickly, and the living ants seemed determined to dismember the dead rather than dig more pointless tunnels. A fat ant with glasses was at some point hunted down by a roving pack of insects covered in war paint. The conch lay forgotten at the dead end of a tunnel into which no one dared enter, for a spectral beast lurked within.

Anyway, each day the environment within the farm became more and more bleak. I occasionally had to pry open a corner of the lid to allow the ants some precious oxygen. But upon lifting the plastic, every ant who still possessed the will to live immediately tried to swarm out. They were shockingly fast, and had large mandibles that would leave fiery welts on your fingers.

And so the day finally came when my coworkers begged me to set the ants free. Most were now lying on the surface in a stupor, unwilling to eat, drink, or move. They were waiting for their inevitable extinction.

My boss, a kindhearted soul, took it upon herself to empty the remaining ants into a nearby park. Tired of looking at a constant reminder of my own mortality, I gave her permission to do what had to be done.

She came back with stings on her boobs as the imprisoned ants had ravaged her chest in their haste to escape. She threw the empty ant farm, which resembled some sort of horrible chemical bomb, into a park trash can. I imagined it being surrounded by the NYC bomb squad and detonated within hours. She showed me her battle wounds with a mixture of anger and pride, as if to show me that she had been strong enough to do what I could not.

But she still blamed me for the whole fiasco, and ant farms are now not permitted in the office. However, her boob scars were showed to all for weeks afterwards.

The Time My Brother Talked About Guns

December 17, 2012 Leave a comment

So.

Another mass shooting. Targeting children.

I’m not really sure what to say. It’s fucking awful, and what do you write in the face of such tragedy? So I thought I would share my brother’s thoughtful essay he posted to Facebook on Saturday. He said it better than I ever could.

***

And what is this fantasy? What is this fantasy that makes us think, as a nation, we need to have guns?

I know the fantasy. I know it because I grew up with guns. I know it because I had my own gun when I was sixteen years old. My Dad had a .357 revolver and he got me a little .22 caliber pistol. He kept them on the top shelf in his closet, each in a padded case, with the cylinder and clip placed neatly, safely beside them. We’d go shooting at the gun range. We’d try for accuracy and speed. We spent some of our best hours together in the stifling little room breathing gunsmoke. After, we’d come home and clean the guns and talk and browse gun magazines and chat.

Eventually, though, the conversation would turn to delicious ‘what ifs?’

“What if someone is trying to break in?”
“What if someone has already broken in?”
“What if someone has broken in and they’ve found the guns?”
“What if they have knife?”
“What if they have their own gun?”

Invariably, the scenarios became more and more baroque, with multiple attackers and heroic risks and clever ruses that got us to the closet and put the familiar weight of our own guns in our steady hands. Then all hell would break loose in our minds, the wallpaper shredded, the furniture blown to bits, fear and doubt nowhere to be found. The stories always concluded with my Dad and me standing victorious over a field of faceless victims, each lying dead, each undoubtedly deserving of their fate.

Our fantasies, though, never entertained the reality – that more often than not, a wielded gun will end up the hands of the attacker or, as we’ve witnessed now another heartbreaking time, in the hands of those we never intended to hold them.

But the fantasy is always there:

Your family is in danger. It’s you against them. They drag your kids out of bed. They tie them up. They drag your wife to the garage and close the door. They’re about to unleash Hell. Only they didn’t count on you and your 9 millimeter, which somehow ends up in your hand and which you unload in a righteous hailstorm of searing lead that also somehow avoids each of your family members.

You’re in your car in a bad neighborhood. Suddenly your door is yanked open. Your kids are in the back in their car seats. Hands on your jacket, you’re being dragged out. But not before your fingers close around the handle of the Glock you keep by your left thigh. A second later, it’s painfully clear that they fucked with the wrong guy.

Or the war is coming. Everyone knows that. And every one of us will have a shot at our John Wayne moment. We just need a gun. Or a couple. We’ll keep it in the safe, under lock and key or combination. Ignore the wife’s concerns that somehow the kids will figure it out. They know who’s boss around here. You’ve told them to never touch that safe. That cabinet. That padded case. And they never would because you’ve got your house in order.

It’s a right. America was carved by strength of will out of nothing. We are the rugged individuals, the mavericks, the lone wolves. We need that pistol at our side because when the shit goes down, it’ll be the American left standing, a wisp of smoke trailing from his red hot barrel.

But, from a raised and confirmed gun enthusiast, hear this:

It. Is. Fantasy.

Your house will, most likely, not be invaded. Your car will, most likely, never be jacked. The zombies or Russians or Chinese or Martians are, most likely, never coming. What is much more likely is that your guns will end up in the hands or your kids, or their friends (who come over when you’re at work and who aren’t as well-raised as your kids). And if not your guns, then it’ll be your neighbor’s guns your neighbor’s kids – your neighbor, who was on the fence about owning a gun, but he knows you do so he figured, ‘why the hell not?’ He needs a new hobby and Walmart is having a sale. He’s got his own fantasies, after all.

Gun ownership, I know, is essentially about preparing for the worst. But while you set the scene and lay the props for some fantasy that never materializes, the worst does indeed come.

It comes in the shape of Sandy Hook.

Gun Control.

Now.

-Damian Baldet

The Time I Looked at Sexy Halloween Costumes

October 22, 2012 Leave a comment

So I know hundreds of blogs have covered this topic, but there were some costumes even I was surprised by this year, so here we are.

Sexy Soldiers

So we have not one but TWO Sexy Russian Communist costumes, and what are essentially Sexy Nazis, but without the swastikas.

Sexy Palace Guard

This just cracks me up since it’s one of the satirical costumes featured in the Girls’s Costume Warehouse video, and now it’s for real. One of these years, I’ll dress up as the Sexy 1900s Steel Conglomerate Tycoon.

Lingerie

So these are PASTIES NOT COSTUMES! Why in the world are they in the costumes section?

Sexy Board Games

I really don’t understand this trend. We have Sexy Etch-a-Sketch, Monopoly, Darts (x2), Tic-Tac-Toe, Twister (x2), and Operation (x2). I was a little surprised not to see a Battleship-themed costume given the movie. Hollywod really missed a tie-in there.

Sexy Breakfast Cereal

This also baffles me. These aren’t even costumes. Why did Kellogg’s think anyone would want these?

Sexy Fruit

Okay, so I know corn isn’t actually a fruit, but it’s fruit-adjacent. Or something. Is there someone out there seeking some hot corn action?

Sexy Booze

Sexy Jager Bomb, Rum, Martini, and Beer. Sure, why not. They’re no more stupid than the rest of these.

Sexy Non-Sexy Things

Cindy Brady is seven years old. Little Orphan Annie is 11. Just think about that. Brian from Family Guy is a cartoon dog. When’s the last time you thought about the insane sex appeal of golf, one of the most boring sports ever? There is a girl here sincerely trying to stir your loins as a pink TV remote control.

Sexy Bizarreness

And here we have the weirdest ones, at least to me. When you were watching the Honey Badger video, were you thinking how much you’d like to fuck that animal who eats poisonous snakes and munches on bees? The next girl has a terrifying gaping maw on her bright pink stomach. Is this one supposed to be referencing something? And the coup de grace is the Sexy Tarantula, who appeals to absolutely no one on Earth, except perhaps some creepy guy who masturbates to Arachnophobia. We must stop this madness.

The Time I Worried About Disasters

October 1, 2012 1 comment

It has been a persistent fear of mine for many years now that a natural disaster will strike, and I will be naked for it.

Maybe not even a natural disaster. Maybe a terrorist attack or a fire eventually traced to arson. Whatever the situation, my recurring nightmare is that something unspeakably terrible will happen, and I will be naked while dealing with it.

I have no idea why this should terrify me so much. Perhaps it’s just adding insult to injury, that I’d crawl out of a burning building or swim out of a flood, then still have to deal with the indignity of being nude and vulnerable. Or that I’d drag myself out of a building ravaged by an earthquake, then spend my first dazed moments searching for a blanket or something. In these bizarre imaginings, I never just suck it up and deal with self-preservation first and foremost. I don’t spend my time saving others crushed by buildings, or seeking precious fresh water. No, for some reason in these scenarios I see myself simply wandering around, sadly looking for clothes to steal.

I’d like to think I wouldn’t act so stupid in an actual life-or-death situation. But there was the one time it almost came true.

I was living in Japan in the Fall of 2004, staying with my host family in Kyoto on a semester long study abroad program. I was busy showering in my host family’s expansive bathroom, and was cold, covered in soap suds, and most assuredly naked. At that moment, an earthquake struck that was stronger than any I had felt so far. The rumblings were strong enough to knock me to the floor in my sudsy state, and there I lay, terrified and thinking only, “My fear has finally come to pass.” I imagined myself having to wander the streets of Japan nude, my pale foreign skin still wet from my shower as fires burned around me from ruptured gas lines.

Of course, the earthquake was considered mild by Japan standards, and the only thing damaged in our building was the elevator. I finished my shower and dressed quickly, still prepared for a sudden evacuation that never came. But I still remember my terror.

I don’t know what is with me and nudity, but I seriously need to get a grip.

The Time I Almost Went to Law School (Part 2)

August 13, 2012 2 comments

University of Chicago Law School, aka “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here.”

 
(Continued from Part 1, which discussed my terrible reasons for wanting to go to law school, and the LSAT kicking my ass.)

So I eventually sat down and took the LSAT for the second time, and did much better. Luckily, most schools decide to simply accept your highest LSAT score, though a few will average the two (or three) scores together. After taking the LSAT three times, you have to wait a few years before trying again. With my shiny new LSAT score in hand, I could now narrow down where I would apply.

The combination of LSAT and GPA is so powerful that the two alone can practically tell you where you’ll be accepted. There are a few websites out there that will tell you your chances, including the Law School Probability Calculator and the Law School Predictor. Technically, your essays, extracurriculars, and coursework should count for something, but in practice, it seems rare. Unless you’ve won an Olympic medal or something, these calculators are pretty damn accurate, mostly because of the annual U.S. News rankings. Since these rankings are based mostly on test scores, law schools come to value them as well. I have never met more prestige-obsessed people than law students. If you want to peer into the mouth of madness, check out the Top Law Schools Forums, which turn OCD into an art form. And yes, I frequented the forums on a daily basis when I was an aspiring law student, since even crazy advice is better than no advice. Nutty though some of those students may be, they were still extremely supportive and knowledgeable.

I spent ages crafting a personal statement, which was surprisingly difficult to write after not having written anything even vaguely academic in over three years. But I eventually came up with something satisfactory, and applied to 13 law schools in the Fall of 2009. Thankfully, I received fee waivers from 9 of these schools, which meant that it cost me nothing to apply there. Note for anyone interested in applying to law schools: if you ask for a fee waiver via email, you’ll often get one.

My application “cycle,” as crazed law applicants call it, went very well. I got into 8 of the schools, was waitlisted at 3, and only rejected from 2 (Harvard and Stanford, naturally – not sure what even possessed me to apply there). Three of the schools that accepted me were in the top 10 in the nation, at least according to U.S. News, so I was feeling pretty good. I even got some scholarship money, including half tuition at the school I ultimately decided to attend, the University of Michigan (aka “Hogwarts”). I was exhausted and relieved that the application process was finally over, and I gleefully submitted my seat deposit money, officially ending my cycle.

And then came the existential crisis.

I had finally achieved what I had set out to do, and for the first time, I actually had the leisure time to think about what I had done. I would be attending law school, to become a lawyer. For…some reason, surely? A reason I couldn’t seem to remember at the moment. Had I ever had one in the first place?

As the weeks passed and I made arrangements to move to Ann Arbor, I grew more and more uneasy with this decision. The closer I got to orientation, the more sure I was that this wasn’t the right move for me, at least right now. But I was too stubborn to admit this to myself. I had put so much work into the LSAT, and invested myself so fully into the idea of law school that it seemed insane to back out now. The last two years would then just be a waste of time – a run down a street that only terminated in a dead end.

No, I decided, I’d just have to go through with it. Plenty of people head to law school when they aren’t sure about it all, and they turn out fine. What would my alternative be? I had already quit my receptionist job, and was unemployed in the deepest recession of my lifetime. Surely this was the best investment I could make at the moment, even if it meant taking on substantial debt, scholarship or not. I had convinced myself that I really had no choice in this matter anymore, and that I just needed to suck it up and go become a lawyer.

Naturally, I then suffered a complete nervous breakdown, along with panic attacks on the hour, every hour. For weeks. With no coping mechanisms whatsoever.

The week that I was supposed to move to Michigan, I completely lost it and decided I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to be a lawyer, and never had. I had simply been overcome with the thought of achieving something more than being an anonymous admin in a sprawling company. I had seized onto graduate school as a life preserver in a dull black sea that stretched out into infinity. At the time, I honestly saw no other way out.

I cancelled the movers, and flew to Cincinnati to go cry my eyes out with my parents. They were confused and somewhat disappointed in my decision, but really just wanted what would make me happy, and so were ultimately supportive. I wondered constantly if I had made a huge mistake, and when I flew back to NYC, I feel into a deep agoraphobic depression. Unemployed and lacking even air conditioning, I stopped leaving the apartment altogether, and withdrew from most of my friends. My meager savings drained month by month as I struggled pathetically to get a job. Seeing as how I could hardly leave my apartment building at that point, I wasn’t much of a candidate.

Only through medical and psychiatric intervention did I eventually emerge enough to get myself employed, a year after I had originally quit my job. Even two years later, I still feel guilt from my decision, and wonder sometimes what life would have been like had I gone to law school. I would have graduated next year.

But overall, I’m satisfied with my decision. I still think it was the right one to make for my mental state at that time, and I still don’t want to be a lawyer. Why else would you go to law school? Just to have the JD on your resume? Though I’m sad it took me two years of nonstop work to figure that out, it’s better that I discovered my true feelings BEFORE I spent a good $80K or so on an education I might never use. It’s still hard to rationalize the joy I felt at being accepted to schools versus the sheer dread at the thought of actually attending one. It’s funny how the human mind works sometimes, isn’t it?

%d bloggers like this: