Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"Life in the Snow Globe"

So here we are with cold weather bearing down on us. "Well hello there, Jack Frost. Go away now please." Snow is starting to fall and I'll be honest, I just don't like it. 
Unfortunately, it's something that happens every year. The temperatures plummet, blizzards dropping more powder than Charlie Sheen at a bachelor party, and I've gotta start buying Christmas gifts.  Not that I mind buying Christmas gifts but I'd be fine with handing those out in tank tops instead. 

So here I am revisiting an old topic. Global warming. Tell me, do you feel exceptionally warm right now in the Northern Hemisphere? I think probably not. The only thing colder is my friend, Jeri's house. That place? Pfft. Elsa would need a parka. I'm not kidding. Last time I was there there was a polar bear standing around a burning barrel like one of those homeless guys on tv shows. I had to fetch a thermal blanket for a penguin suffering from frostbite. And that was a summer visit. 

I digress. We were discussing global warming. "Climate change", as they call it now. That's the reason I'm given for why so many steel mills and coal yards are closing down. Interesting theory. Except...
Why are we getting so much steel from China now? Or shipping them so much coal to use in steel mills? Don't they share the same planet as us? One would think that "climate change" would affect them too. 
Yet, somehow, it's only something we worry about here in the States. We've got the EPA all over us in the trucking industry. Many states have laws stating "no idling of vehicles over 5 tons longer than 5 minutes." Apparently it's perfectly ok in smaller vehicles. 

In fact, I was out in California a few years ago and there were 3 EPA trucks there for 9 hours writing tickets for idling trucks. The whole time those EPA trucks were idling in the parking lot looking for violators. 
Ever been to California? Their public buses and school buses smoke like steam engines from the 1800's. They get a pass though because they're state run. Sure, that seems to make sense. Only ticket the people who need their trucks to run so they can sleep comfortably. 
I even asked one of the EPA guys "what if you've got pets with you? It's 105 degrees outside and even hotter in these big metal trucks." He responded that that is no excuse for idling. However, if you have a pet in that kind of heat then that's animal cruelty and they'll call the sheriff out to fine you for it. Am I the only one that finds this whole situation absurd? 
I asked "well what about you guys sitting here idling your trucks for hours while you look for people to ticket?" That's the point at which he finally asked me which truck was mine. "The one of there that doesn't have ac so it's pointless to idle. Why, you wanna spend the next few hours sitting in IT while you ticket people for being comfortable?" Turns out he didn't find that option attractive. Like I'm gonna be dumb enough to have my truck running while I point out the hypocrisy of their mission? 

Can't run your truck for ac or for heat. Welcome to truck driving. Trust me, it's not for everyone. One would think that we folks driving 80,000 pound+ vehicles would be among these the government wants sleeping well. 
Now that the roads are gonna get icy and people in cars are gonna try figure skating on the highways I'm even less thrilled. I don't even put ice in my drinks, what makes nature think I want it on my roads? 

Monday, November 23, 2015

"The Mysterious Meteor of Louisville"

So I'm in Louisville a few weeks ago and meet up with friends. Well, they're really more like family than friends. Good folks, Jeri and Dave. 
Jeri scares the hell outta me though. Can't lie. She offered to swing by the company yard and take me to their place for the night. Usually I just drop my trailer and drive my truck there but I've gotta get some repairs done. What Jeri never knew all these years is that the main reason I take my truck to their house is because, if I'm gonna die it's gonna be on my terms. 

Don't get me wrong, I don't think she, herself, would hurt me. But her behind the wheel?? She always comments on how, when she's driving, I practically fall asleep. "That's because I want to die in my sleep, Jeri. I don't wanna see it coming." Like I said, she scares me half to death. I didn't have white hairs until I got in a car with her. Now, as soon as that door closes, you can watch the colors change. They just skip grey. Straight to platinum. It's like autumn on my head, just POOF! brown to white. 
So she offered to come pick me up this time. "Why'd you go all quiet, boy? You don't have to come see us if you don't want." No no, I want to come visit. I just can't speak while my heart goes into tachycardia. Plus, I was internalizing how to word my will. I'll be here waiting. I know you haven't seen me in a while; I'll be the one holding the rosary and kissing the pavement. 
So she shows up. I put my stuff in the backseat and instantly regret not bringing a crash helmet. She's the only person I know that Saturn insisted on installing a roll cage and 5 point harness in her car. I'm strapping in like Tony Stewart and wishing they'd set this car up like a driver's ed car. Even just a passenger side brake pedal would be a blessing. And awaaaaay we go! 

She's rounding the corners like they're banked and someone just dropped the green flag. Four tires on the car but only 2 in contact with the ground on corners. And that's the surface streets. 
When we get on the highway my ears pop as the sonic boom hits, other cars are swerving from the shock wave, an F-16 drops down to drag race. She's pulling away from them. There's a red glow around the car like we're entering the atmosphere. 
As we hit the end of the on ramp I'm looking over at the speedometer wondering how far the needle goes, feeling like Marty McFly and yelling "we don't need roads where we're going!" But she can't hear me because we are now at Mach II and even our voices are behind us. 

She comes flying up behind a pickup in the far left lane. I can feel the heat of the brakes through the floorboard. The poor sucker in front of us is only doing 10 above the speed limit and I'm thinking "this is where I die!" She manages to slow this missile all by herself but I was trying desperately to jam my feet through the floor and Flintstone the car down to double digits. She's so close to the guy's bumper that I got the serial number off his trailer hitch. Then he gets over and we're off again. Her foot comes off the brake and hits the accelerator hard enough it sounded like a starter's pistol. We're going so fast the wind is whipping through my hair even with the windows up. And she's just over there laughing like the devil at a Hillary Clinton rally. 

We're bobbing and weaving through traffic like Cheech and Chong at a Bob Marley festival. We make a 40 mile drive in under 8 minutes. As she takes the off ramp she asks what I want to eat and I tell her anything but a drive-thru. So we Tokyo Drift through her town and stop at a local restaurant where we wait on Dave, her husband, to show up. He's taking a little longer to get there because he's traveling at less than breakneck speeds. 
As always, it was a fun visit. I was fortunate enough that either David or I drove everywhere during my stay so I lived long enough to tell this tale. The moral of the story? Apparently Saturn made a really good vehicle. If they can withstand the atmospheric friction of Jeri's driving and keep right on going...NASCAR should write the Saturn folks for tips. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"Don't Tell Me Who Matters"

I wanted to give France enough time to mourn its loss before posting this. Before talking about something that I find offensive. Ironic, really, since the post that I'd had scheduled for today was about how inured I'd become with how we Americans are offended by every little thing. Guess I can scratch that post now. Too bad; it had some humor to it. 
So what has me so bothered that I'm having to edit (and you'll see later, censor) myself? Well, let me start at the beginning. Or the middle as it may be. 

See, I love me some Taco Bell. So I stopped at the TA truck stop in Greencastle,PA since they've got the Bell next door. As I pull in I see they are flying the American flag at half mast. Wanting to confirm my assumption as to why, I asked inside. They looked at me like I had been living in a cave and said "because of the terrorist attacks in France."
Respect for innocent lives needlessly lost. The manager of that TA in Pennsylvania didn't know any of the people who were murdered but wanted to show respect and sympathy from half a world away. Had that manager been working I'd have gladly shook his hand. 

People's actions tell a lot about what kind of person they are. We can agree on that, right? Respectful people deserve our respect. You agree? Me too. So here comes the other shoe...

Here lately I've seen posts saying "F%*k France". It's hashtagged in all sorts of Tweets. How callous can you get? To steal a thought that was shared to me: these people would feel completely differently if one of their loved ones had been among those lost. I'm paraphrasing but the sentiment remains the same. Mercifully, this time it wasn't here but it has been before and there's no guarantee it won't be again. Especially since Emperor Obama thinks it's a good idea to invite unknown Syrian refugees to come to America. (One of his dumbest moves yet. And he's funneling them in through the most "French" state in the Union, Louisiana).
I know people who have family abroad. Had any of them been injured and someone responded with that level of disrespect I'd throat punch them. No, I don't mean that figuratively. I would quite literally bring those disrespectful assholes grave bodily harm, personally, given the opportunity. 

 I've read articles about how the folks at "Black Lives Matter" have said they don't care about France or its problems. In fact, they're upset that the news of the attacks is out shining that group's agenda. 
Seriously? They want us to take their movement seriously yet they have no respect for the innocent victims? They hurl obscenities regarding an entire nation during one of that nation's worst tragedies yet want us to feel sorry for their ignorant, "entitled", whiny asses? No. You lose your credibility. You lose any and all sympathy from me. 

Here's a bit of history for you: One day after the September 11 attacks, Le Monde, the famed French daily, ran a full front page editorial under the headline "NOUS SOMMES TOUS AMÉRICAINS," which translates to: "We Are All Americans." The very first sentence was: “In this tragic moment, when words seem so inadequate to express the shock people feel, the first thing that comes to mind is this: We are all Americans". They did NOT say "F%^k America." 

France played a key role in aiding the colonies during the American Revolution. They sent us supplies, troops and money to help us win our independence. They left themselves deeply in debt financially to do so. Without the help of France, Spain and the Netherlands this country would not have won its independence. What they did NOT do is say "F*^k the colonies". 

In 1886 the French even sent us a gift. A little thing we call the Statue of Liberty. Engraved on the pedestal for that statue it reads: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
It does NOT say anything indicating they didn't care about our problems. 
Yet I see people posting on Facebook "what did France ever do for us?" What did France do? They helped us create this country. They mourned with us when we were attacked by terrorists. They stood by us during the darkest parts of our history. They put themselves in debt to stand with us. They've been our allies since before we were even a NATION. 
Before we became so self-centered and so self-absorbed as people that we disrespected them during one of their darkest times. 

You addle brained jackasses who lack respect for innocent victims, you racists who can't understand that ALL lives matter, not just the black ones, you aren't worthy of respect. You're nothing more than hypocrites. 

(Upon rereading this prior to posting I'd like to make a correction here. I say "all lives matter" but I know I don't mean that. Terrorists, radical Islamists who seek to impose their will through wanton death and destruction: your lives actually DON'T matter to me or to anyone else. Jihadists who wish to destroy us: your lives don't matter. To all of us you consider Infidels, you are nothing more than a plague that needs to be eradicated. The world truly is a better place without you.) 

Yeah, I probably sound like I'm irritated with these "Black Lives Matter" people. That's because I am. "Waa! We are so oppressed. Waa! We should be entitled to whatever we want. Waa! We should be allowed to commit crimes without fear of justice." Blah blah blah. Meanwhile, 2 black men, police officers, are charged with murder after gunning down an unarmed white man in Louisiana. The hail of bullets also killed the man's 6 year old autistic son. Because that little boy wasn't black does HIS life not matter?! Is there a rally demanding "justice"? Is there looting or rioting? No. In fact, it gets quickly glossed over on the news because it doesn't fit anyone's agenda. 
Soldiers of every ethnicity are killed fighting a war to keep these racist, "Black Lives Matter" people safe. Do those SOLDIER'S lives not matter?! Innocent blood is spilled by terrorists globally. And you disrespect the victims because they took time away from your "movement"?! Which is ironic when you think about it. There were black lives that were ended in the attacks in France. Are you guys saying since they weren't part of your group then THEIR black lives didn't matter?
We are all being attacked by a common enemy. One which our President is sending reinforcements from Guantanamo Bay, by the way. Now is the time to grow up and actually unify if you want to institute change. 

Yeah, we get that all these people in the "Black Lives Matter" group had rough lives. They feel they should get paid more for unskilled jobs like pulling fries out of the fryer than firefighters get paid for saving lives. 
They didn't have access to college, despite the NAACP or the United Negro College Fund. They didn't have access to good jobs despite Affirmative Action or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They didn't have access to anything to help them. They didn't have access to the same schools as everyone else. Oh wait, they had access to all of these things. Maybe their lives are difficult because of their own choices and actions. Maybe people just didn't respect them enough because people's actions tell a lot about what kind of person they are. 

Maybe, just maybe, if these people put as much effort into improving their lives as they put into finding someone to blame then their lives would already be better. No, I don't feel these people are entitled to anything except to leave. Go to Mexico or Central America and see how rough life actually is for those without opportunities. Go to Africa where Jewish people were slaves for centuries and see how difficult life truly is. Maybe you'll learn to appreciate the opportunities you actually have here. Maybe you'll learn the value of respect. And, if you don't, then just tell them you're "entitled" to whatever you want because you say so. 

I don't care what color a person is, what their sexual preference is or what type of vegetables they like, if they treat others with respect then I will treat them with respect. Conversely, if they go around disrespecting everyone else then I have no respect for them. They could be whiter than aspirin or darker than midnight, the skin color doesn't make the person. The measure of a person's value is universal. No one life matters more than another. When a person donates blood, organs, money or anything else they don't label on it the skin color of those that gave. Nor do they discriminate who receives it by skin color, sex, religion or sexual preference. Why is that? Because we all matter equally. Every ethnicity has had its share of difficulties. The difference is that everyone else learned to overcome them instead of acting like disrespectful thugs. Your actions define you. 

(Author's note: I censored myself as much as I could in this post but, for those who I may've offended with my language, I apologize. If you'd like the language cleaned up so that you can repost if you wish, send me a message and I'll do what I can without damaging the integrity of what it is meant to convey.) 

Monday, November 16, 2015

"The Thugs of Olive Garden"

More and more often I see this. Uniformed officers asked to leave because they're carrying guns (TGIF Franklin,TN and Olive Garden Kansas City,MO) being told "we don't serve cops" (Dunkin Donuts Hartford,CT), and being refused service (Arby's Pembroke Pines,FL).
Just this past week, in Baltimore, an officer was punched and knocked to the ground by a guy while several citizens stood around and watched him wrestle with a female officer afterward. Someone even videoed the whole thing. Did anyone offer assistance? Nope. They can video and "oohh and ahh" but no one will step up to help. Situations like this are occurring more often. 

Some have said that the tension between citizens and officers started after the Michael Brown case. They escalated again after Freddy Gray. Both incidents resulting in riots and looting. Videos surface that incite rebellion against police officers, people threatening the lives of law enforcement. 
I've spoken with people about this while at truck stops. Some have said it's racially motivated. Except, apparently, when a black guy puts on a badge they quit seeing him as black. Interesting twist but I don't buy it when they play the race card. Videos surface wherein people try to claim all cops are racist regardless of a cop's color. Again, I call nonsense. 

Let me put this as simply as I can, folks. We live in a society. We have rules and laws. The police are law enforcement. Don't blame the cops for enforcing laws you don't like. Not their fault. You want to show your unhappiness about having to live by laws, tell the law makers. Looting your own village is stupid. Here, I'll say that again: looting. your. own. village. is. stupid. 
"We don't like that we get in trouble with the cops when we break the law." Yeah yeah. So quit breaking the law, moron. Or move somewhere that encourages lawlessness. Pillaging like a bunch of angry pirates is NOT how laws get changed. Acting like an angry 3 year old towards law enforcement officers isn't going to go well for you. When your restaurant is getting robbed who are you going to call, your fellow looters? 

These big restaurant chains that are starting to kick out uniformed officers and soldiers carrying their side arms, their corporate offices issue apologies later. The corporate mouthpiece says something like, "our manager made an error in judgement." No. Me wearing spandex, that would be an error in judgement. A bad, bad, bad one. Kicking out the person you'd call for help because you don't like their uniform? That's just idiotic. Don't confuse that with "an error in judgement". What they SHOULD be doing is making those employees apologize. Then firing them for "blatant stupidity". Look, if these managers have to be retrained on the restaurant's gun policy so they know "good guys with guns, good. Bad guys with guns, bad" then maybe these chains should consider the people they're hiring. These people are clearly at the bottom of the intellectual gene pool. 
I know times are tough. I get it. But there are plenty of actual intelligent people available to hire instead of these nitwits. If any employee of mine makes an armed officer leave then the only "training" that employee will get will be instructions on how to file unemployment. It's just that simple. 

These officers put their lives on the line every day. Not just the days they reach for their uniform but every time they walk out their door. They may have done things that resulted in saving your life without you even knowing it. Yet they get shunned and disrespected by the very people they're here to protect. They get their lives threatened simply for doing a thankless job many people are too cowardly to do or simply aren't bright enough to do. The very same people who would call 911 demanding justice. 

Get your act together people! Don't blame the police for doing their job. Don't like the police? Don't break the law and you'll deal with them less. 

The same goes with you folks who seem to have a problem with military personnel. They put their lives on the line to fight for your freedom. Give them the respect and honor they deserve. Remember, among the freedoms they fight for is your freedom to leave. You want to disrespect the flag they are fighting for, leave. It's that simple. Go to a lawless country without freedoms. I'll help you pack, I've got no problem with that. 
As a kid I never imagined I'd grow up in an America where cops and soldiers were treated like criminals while criminals and thugs were regaled and treated like martyrs. 
These soldiers, just like the police, do a job these ignorant thugs aren't brave enough to do. These people who disrespect soldiers and our country's flag? I doubt they have the aptitude to sort an 8 pack of crayolas without aid. 

I see posts wherein people are openly insulting our armed forces. Or posts where one liberal or another will refer to vets as trained killers not to be trusted. Or war mongers. Etc etc. "Why do we need soldiers here? No one attacks us here." 
You buncha Chowderheads, you're safe BECAUSE of these soldiers and the police. They're the entire reason you have the freedom to act as stupid as you do. 

I'm not saying that insulting the people who live to protect you is stupid but...wait. Yes. Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. These people kicking out the cops, the ones insulting soldiers, those stepping on our guys, have you been tested for mental retardation? I mean if you're genuinely disabled then I might understand the depth of your stupidity. Otherwise, you guys have no excuse. 

It's almost as though our society was bent on proving deterministic chaos is thriving and that scares the hell outta me. I've never wished for an alien invasion so badly. (E.T. Aliens, not illegal immigrants. That one's been happening for decades). 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

"Bedazzled Beliefs"

I know some really good Christian folks. Down to earth yet wholesome and of good moral character. I like them a lot. Here recently I met a few that I can even look up to. They've offered guidance but not in an "in your face" way. With me that's really a key factor. Due partly to their gentle approach and partly to the fact I'm realizing how much a mess I made of my own life while trying to do things my way, I've been thinking I should consider church. Not one of those "let's play with venomous snakes" kinda churches or the "let's act like we're having some kind of seizure" churches or anything though. One that's gonna be tolerant of me asking lots of questions about things that don't make sense in the bible. 
Now, for me, getting into organized religion is a pretty big step. Being part of organized Christianity scares me still. Not in a "oh no, I'm gonna burst into flames when I walk in" way. It's more a matter of making sure I'm not mistakenly lumped in with what I call the "super Christians" or "uber religious". Don't expect me to start posting "inspirational" quotes from that clown Joel Osteen. Not gonna happen. I greatly dislike that type. 

What I don't want to be associated with are those ridiculous "super Christian mainstream bandwagoners" you see more and more often. The ones that are basically legal bullies. Yeah, I said it. They're hypocritical bullies. Oh, you're waiting on an example aren't you? You're waiting to see where this post is going now. Don't worry, this was the windup. Here comes the pitch....

I love coffee. I drink lots of it. Not to keep me awake or anything like that. In fact, I can set down my last cup from a full pot, roll over and go straight to sleep. I'm weird like that. Yeah, yeah, I'm weird in many ways; that's not the only one. 
Coffee is a simple drink. They take seeds from a berry, dry them out, grind them up, pour hot water over them and boom! Coffee. You can even add cow juice and sugar. That's how I like it. Some people prefer steamed cow juice and pumpkin spice. That's not me. I like simple. 
It's not very expensive either. The most expensive thing about a to-go cup of coffee is the cup. Companies like Starbucks get that. So they market special cups, mugs, coffees, etc. The yuppie, hipster types flock to Starbucks regularly. The "ohmagod, Brittni, can you believe she's wearing that? It's soo last season" types and the "look how trendy I am" types. Personally, I think the $2.00 I pay for coffee at the truck stop is too much. $8.00 a cup at Starbucks? Genius on their part for drawing you in. 

What's this got to do with religious bullying though? Simple. For decades now Starbucks has had a mermaid on its cups and as a logo. A creature from Greek mythology. Are the uber religious upset about a pagan icon on their cups? Nope. They're upset about Starbucks didn't put "Merry Christmas" on the cups this year. 
Oh, they're up in arms all over the Internet about it. They're giving Starbucks hell over it. I find that interesting. See, if you do something that can be construed as violating "religious freedom" then these mainstream bandwagoners will fight it tooth and nail. What they seem to forget, however, is that the constitution is designed to protect us from "religious persecution". You know, the reason people came here from Europe. Yet they're persecuting Starbucks for exercising their own religious freedom. 
What I don't understand is you can make a cup of coffee for pennies and pour it in your own cup. So why get upset over the cup Starbucks has? Just take your own mug in there if theirs offends you so much. Me, I'm more offended at paying so much for coffee. So guess what my solution was. Did I start a campaign to make them lower their prices? No. I just don't go there. Problem solved. 

Stop it already! Good grief, people! We have all these "anti bullying" campaigns (which are complete lunacy by the way) then society tries to collectively bully a corporation not because that corporation is pandering to a specific religion but because they're not catering to ANY religions. Enough already. It's a damn cup. 
If you don't like that a cup doesn't say "Merry Christmas" then just take your own cup to Starbucks. Bedazzle the hell out of it with snowmen and Merry Christmas and shit. They won't refuse to put your $8.00 coffee in it. Or bring a marker and write "Merry Christmas" on the cup they give you. They won't give a shit. It'll be  your cup at that point. What are they gonna do, repossess it and kick you out for it? 

Seriously, folks, is it really THAT big a deal? For heaven's sake, their logo is a friggin mermaid. A MERMAID people. You've been drinking your overpriced coffee out of cups with a creature from Greek mythology, a pagan symbol, on it for decades. And NOW you get upset?! Do you not realize how insane this has become??

Look, Jesus wasn't born in December. There were no Christmas trees, mistletoe or fancy wrapped gifts in that manger either. Christmas was CREATED, yes, CREATED by the Catholic Church to convert pagans. Pagans who were celebrating a holiday called Saturnalia. A festival honoring Saturn. The entire holiday is pagan in origin. The whole "kissing under the mistletoe" was Norse. It's from the legend of Balder. That's Frigga's son. Frigga was Odin's wife.  The Druids considered mistletoe to be a sacred plant. The Greeks and Romans liked the idea and used it in their festival before the Catholics assimilated it. 

Come on, people. Even the days of the week are pagan in origin. Each one of them was named after pagan gods. Is anyone campaigning to change THOSE? Yet these uber religious people attacking Starbucks over not putting the words "Merry Christmas" on their own cups, that's not a touch hypocritical? That's the tolerance the Bible teaches? Isn't there anything more important to rally around, like feeding the homeless? Brew your own coffee, put it in your own bedazzled cup and use the rest of that money to buy blankets for the homeless. Feed them. Give gifts to impoverished kids. Do something to actually show some love and compassion for your fellow human. That seems more Christian to me. No, I'm not what you'd call a liberal. I just believe in fairness and dislike hypocrisy. You can't get mad about someone infringing upon your right to religious freedom then also get upset and try to dictate others' religious choices. As long as their religious choice doesn't affect you then leave them be. You have the freedom to just go somewhere else. When the people from these uber religious groups climb down off their high horse maybe they'll realize it's a disposable coffee cup, not the vessel for your soul. 

The down to earth people, the type I've gotten to know, that's the type of people I'd like to be associated with. Yes, they celebrate Christmas. As do I. But they don't try pushing people around using their beliefs as a shield. They seem to understand that it's not necessary to force others to believe as they do. They don't drag you kicking and screaming to the river; they simply show you a path and offer to walk beside you to keep you company on your journey. And they'll bring coffee in just a plain white cup because the writing on the cup is less important than the message their care and compassion carries. 

Those are the people Christians should be. That's the kind of person we could all take notes from and that's the type of people I'd like to raise my boys to be. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

"No Truckin Way"

Ok, I've gotta start this one with a disclaimer. I own my truck and trailer. I'm what's called "an ownin operatiner" but I know people who drive trucks owned by companies. Those companies have fairly strict rules about certain things. Therefore, this story is not mine but is an approximation of a story I was told. I may have taken a little license in its telling but I'm telling it in first person anyway though because that's just how I write. If this were about me, here's how it would go:

So I show up in New Jersey to make a delivery the other day. Ok, so it was today but it feels like a week has passed already while I'm sitting here. I pull up to where the "yard" is supposed to be and it's packed like a city girl going camping. There's hardly walking room, much less truck room so I park out in the road and go looking for a shipping office. 
I would've worn numbers if I'd known I was entering some sadistic track and field event. 

I'm dodging trucks, hurtling people and pacing myself to set a new record in the 5k. The whole time thinking "I bet some cultures send people to New Jersey as a form of punishment. Why do I ever agree to come to these places?!"
After 2 hours of "rush hour" to get here (why do they even call it "rush hour"? It should be called "in no big hurry 3 hours") I'm already frazzled and ready to kick some small, furry creature should I find one. In Jersey? Ha! 

But I finally find a dock that appears to be for receiving. As I try asking about delivering, the guy starts waving his arms around like he's drowning and shit. I didn't know if I should keep talking or dial 911. He's all frantic "no unload here! No unload. You no come here unload." Now, I know you guys are picturing a little Chinese guy. Racists. He's Mexican. 
After a couple minutes of poly lingual charades I figure out he wants me to go a building over. Excellent, my truck is still out in the road. "Please, no one hurt my baby"

Fortunately, another driver offers to lead me through the yard to a big spot for me to turn around. For you non-truckers, backing in from the passenger side is called "blind siding". Wanna guess why? Backing in that way is like putting Stevie Wonder behind the wheel. 
So I sprint back out to my truck. Well, the best I can with everyone milling around. Is it just me or did it get 30 degrees warmer all of the sudden? I look up and the sun is 3 times bigger than it was a few minutes ago. 

In the midst of my heat stroke I climb up in the cab to follow this other truck. In a crowd of 50 trucks it's like playing "Where's Waldo" on a global scale. I'm looking for the white truck. Oh good, that narrows it down to 45 of them. 
I find the Good Samaritan and he's driving around like he's in a sports car, flinging himself from one block to another without turn signals. Seriously? "Follow" you? This guy's driving like he's trying to lose me. I can't tell if he has an actual destination in mind or if he's just using the Force to guide him.

Mission accomplished. I've now lost HIM and my sense of direction. But I finally manage to get to an intersection where I can turn around. An intersection with no protected green arrow and half the state of New Jersey blocking the intersection. I sit at this light, waiting so long for a break in traffic, that it's gone green to red three times. I'm losing all patience and ready to play bumper cars. Finally, frustrated to the point homicide is an attractive option, I make a desperate move. There's a big, shiny, beautiful Peterbilt headed towards the intersection on the yellow light. I figure "his truck is too nice, he won't hit me and mess up his truck" so I make a quick left and brace for impact as cars torpedo themselves at me all pissed that I'm on their road. How dare I deliver shit they need! 
Another "quick left" and I'm pointed back towards the yard. I'm thinking "I'm coming in hot, clear a spot!" as I pull a Tokyo Drift into the lot, this time facing the direction I need. 

Finally a receiving guy comes over to point where he wants me and my trailer. I laugh, "no, seriously, where do you want me?" He's adamant, "right there." So I respond, "which part of 'no, seriously' makes you think this thing will fit THERE??" 
Here I should mention that backing into a spot can be tough when a yard is dead. This place being an anthill of people makes it virtually impossible. As do the trucks and trailers lined up next to the building. It's a physics thing. 80 feet of vehicle needs 80 feet of room and there "might be" enough. But just barely. And I'm tinkering on insanity as it is. 

Here's the part where I hang my head in trucker shame. (Author's note here: I can't believe I'm even writing this part in first person it pains me so much but I'm committed now). I looked at this space, looked around, and felt my blood run cold as I considered my options. I needed this load delivered but I just knew that in my current state I'd make a mess of even trying. So I went to talk to the "yard dog" (trucker jargon for the worker who shuttles trailers about the yard in a vehicle less than half as long as our sleeper trucks) to weigh out options and throw myself at his mercy. I'd hoped, best case scenario, that I'd just drop my trailer where I was and he'd back it into the spot. 
Upon talking to him I found out he'd had over 30 years on the road and he understood my situation. But he couldn't just hook to my trailer. The solution? (Shudder) he climbed up in my truck and backed it in for me. With an ease that verified the decades of practice he'd claimed. 

Now, here I am, hiding in my truck and waiting for them to finish. Either I'm gonna have to drag a few trailers away from the dock when they're done or there may be an issue with getting back out. All the local guys were smart enough to flee so I'm kinda stuck here. I guess I'll have to adopt a New Jersey accent and prepare for this spot to be my new home. Well, at least Jersey has good pizza. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

"Abreast of Awareness"

Here it is the end of the first week in November. October and Halloween are behind us. Gonna miss the costumes and stuff. I like October. You don't really have to dress up all fancy and stuff at any time during the month. Bonus!
Of course, when I was growing up, October had specific colors for the month. Black and orange was on display everywhere throughout October when I was a kid. Although I think black and orange are kinda ugly together it was neat that the whole month was color coordinated. 

Not many months get their own colors. December, March and February come to mind. December gets red and green. And an old guy in red and white. March is all about shamrocks and green beer. February gets pink, lacy hearts. It's all romantic and shit. 
Unfortunately, we are taking 2 of these away slowly. Kinda hurts my feelings a little. And I know I'm gonna sound like the bad guy here but I guess I'll go ahead and explain why that bugs me. 

See, as I said, it's November right now. I'm sitting at home and get a call from a telemarketer. Will these people never learn to avoid my number?? She's all cheery; telling me about how October is breast cancer awareness month and they'd like to send me a pink ribbon (for a donation of course) so I can show all the ladies I support them. Wait right there. Let's explore this, shall we:

First off, am I a time traveler? Can I go back to the beginning of October to start sporting my pink ribbon once they send it to me in November? Or am I just being like "super prepared" for next year??

Secondly, this ribbon is going to show all the ladies how much I support them. Ah. So men can't get breast cancer anymore? When did that happen?!  Why are we picking one specific cancer to make people aware of? Why not show EVERYONE we support them? Cervical or ovarian cancer would be considered "ladies only" but breast cancer is all about equal opportunity. Yet we conveniently forget the male gender when we support breast cancer. 

Third, can I support this cause without wearing a pink ribbon? When did ribbons start curing shit? And why specific colors? "Oh, you're wearing a brown ribbon. Is this the month we show support for colon cancer?" 

I'm a little confused. How many people on this planet aren't aware that cancer exists? We are busting our collective asses each month to raise awareness for one thing or another. So much so that they overlap now. Ya kinda lose the "special" when you start stacking causes like those little Russian dolls. 
Yes, cancer is tragic and horrible. So are a whole host of other incurable diseases. Yes, I'd love us to find a cure. It's a global disease. We are aware of it. Just as we are of the rest. So why spend millions of dollars "raising awareness" when you could allocate that money to finding a cure? Why choose a month that already has a color scheme and a big holiday? Why not choose something like August? It doesn't have a color yet, let August be ribbon month. 

Look, honestly, if I thought a ribbon could cure something then I'd have more ribbons than the gift wrapping kiosk in the mall. But it won't. It doesn't "raise awareness". It makes people start to just ignore it. The ribbons become part of the scenery. Have you honestly ever pulled up behind a car that had a pink ribbon bumper magnet and suddenly pulled out your check book to mail off a donation at the next mailbox? More often what happens is people see them then keep scanning the road. Why? Because we pick a cause then saturate the countryside with it. 
I see these chain letter things on Facebook like, "if you support __________ awareness then copy and paste this in your status for one hour." Ok, so you posted it. How many people did that cure? How much new awareness did it create? 

I can post pictures of the ocean and say things like "we need to raise awareness of how wet water is" and it may make the rounds but, trust me here, drawing attention to the obvious does nothing to make you more aware of it. 
So what 2 months are we taking away? Well, many schools are getting rid of Halloween but that pink reminder ribbon for breast cancer is getting more frequent. That pink is gonna eventually become so prevalent that I won't know if I'm supposed to buy a ribbon or a box of mystery chocolates and a teddy bear. "Is it February already or is it October? It's hard to keep track." 

I'm not saying breast cancer isn't a worthy cause, I'm just saying that inundating us with it isn't going to cure it. Raising awareness is redundant. Raise money instead. If someone on this planet isn't aware of cancer yet then the odds are they aren't old enough to talk or they've got their own issues that a ribbon won't fix. 

While I'm at it....I'm fairly certain Jesus doesn't have a Facebook page and keep track of how many "likes" he gets as a basis for whether or not he's going to help someone. If he did then cancer would've certainly been cured by now. He's not sending out apology letters, "dear kid, I would've healed you but you were 6 'likes' short of the required amount. Sorry."

And it's cute that people post those little memes saying God didn't stop this tragedy or that tragedy because He's not allowed in our schools but here's a newsflash: our rules don't apply to Him. He's not a vampire, he doesn't need to be invited in. He's not in the parking lot going "sorry, can't help you; the restraining order said I can't go in." 
People, these tragedies happen because people are disturbed. We don't take preventive measures and we let our kids run around without respect for authority. The problem is here because WE created it. Everyone's so worried about not offending anyone that when people do get offended or get their feelings hurt they can't cope with it. Then we, as a nation, look for which weapon to blame instead of our own societal PC crap. We raise awareness for what we can't control and shift the blame for the things we should've controlled.