Saturday, February 25, 2006

The only way to fly...

Everyday I take the local Metra train to work. This is because I work an obscenely long way from where I live, around 60+ miles away. The fastest I’ve ever driven it is 1h 20m, the longest was 3hrs 32m while average is about 2hrs. The train ride itself is two hours and I find that riding in a train for two hours is far less stressful than driving for two hours.

I live around the Chicago area and driving 60+ miles through the 3rd largest city in the U.S. is nothing like driving 60+ miles between Kalamazoo, Michigan and Grand Rapids. You can't drive it in an hour at 7:00am and pop out of your car in the parking lot at work.

What you get to do in Chicago is sit behind someone who's sitting behind someone that's sitting behind someone else who ate 2 bran muffins and drank 4 cups of coffee 30 minutes ago. While deep angst has set in from still being in their car and the concentration required to keep their clothes from becoming soiled, they're feeling a bit on tetchy.

In other words, you find people with attitudes. The kind of attitudes that do not make “love thy neighbor” an easy thing to do.

Most attitudes are the old favorites, a little, retired lady/man staring out at the world between the top of the dashboard and the top of the steering wheel driving in the fast lane at 50 mph. They’re on the highway at rush hour because you just can’t beat grocery shopping early in the morning when nobody else is there. Then there’s Young Miss Thang jabbering on her cell phone driving Daddy's Sweet 16 b-day present at 200 mph while she cuts everyone off and can't understand why people are rude enough to honk at her and what’s with all those screeching brakes anyway? Don’t these idiots know how to drive?? Finally, let’s not forget Mrs. There's No Time Like the Present To Apply Mascara or Mr. Screw You, It's all about Me and My Mercedes/Lexus/BMW…but everyone has seen these people before.

What I like are the really novel attitudes - The 80 year old guy behind you that’s flipping you off and vocally questioning your parentage. He’s so close to your rear bumper that if he sneezed, you could hand him a hanky and politely request that next time, could he cover his mouth? You are going 70mph and he wants to pass you. Really, really badly. You find out how badly when he whips around you at the speed of light, swaying over a 1½ lanes of traffic, putting his life, your life, and several other peoples lives in jeopardy to get in front of you so that he has the freedom to go 71 mph. He’s not actually drunk, just old and pissed off at whatever. But on the other hand, all is now right in his world and that's really all he wanted, especially since now, you’re out of his way. So because he is now exhibiting all the calmness and tranquility of a tropical breeze, it's absolutely NO surprise when he slows down to let a cute, any age woman get in front of him with all the courtesy of Cyrano De Bergerac.

Of all these negative attitudes there is one that I LOVE because it isn't negative, it's polite. It is what's supposed to happen. In my ideal world of highway driving, THIS is the way it should be. The very rare instance when someone in front of you actually notices you coming up behind them on a major highway and pulls out of your lane so that you can float on by at the requisite Faster Than You Should Be Going Anyway speed. It’s always a stunner here in the big city where the popular attitude is “What? YOU want something from ME? Write a note and I’ll get back to you.” When it happens to me I make sure to do that three more times before I drive like I own the entire road again.

After all, we all live in the world and why shouldn’t we spread a little love, eh?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Stolen checkbook

For those of you who are caught up in the drama of my stolen checkbook, strapped into the dentist chair waiting for the next thrilling post, this one's for you.

My bank just returned all the stolen money. How cool is that?

I may love my bank now. I don't know yet for sure if it's love or just fond feelings, but they are definitely giving me a warm, 'you're still rockin my world' feeling.

Who says Christmas is once a year?

Today I did something that I've been wanting to do since December 15th. I would have liked to have one the lottery last night ($102M and really, who can't use a little extra spending money?), but instead, I finally finished a project that has taken literally MONTHS to complete. I've thought about it almost daily since the middle of January.

Today, with little fanfare, I finished mailing the Christmas presents for 2005. I. Just. Finished. Just now. On Saturday, February 11, 2006, I just mailed the last Christmas presents. Is anyone really this busy? "Hi, My name is Humor Me and I'm a lazy bastard, but I've thought about you often and how much you'll enjoy here." I'm surprised these people still talk to me. We love them, we really, truly do, but we are shamefacedly TERRIBLE at getting up the motivation to drive CLEAR to the post office.

It's like before I had e-mail, I'd write a letter, put it in an envelope and address it. Put a stamp on it and set it next to the door so that I could take it out to the mailbox tomorrow morning. Then, the next morning I'd walk right by it. I'd get home that night, look at it, and think "I just got home, I don't want to go CLEAR out to the mailbox now, I'll do it after dinner." Three weeks later, I mailed it at work.

I know that you can send a wedding gift up to one whole year after the blessed event, but I don't think that really works for Christmas presents unless you're in a war, prison or a graveyard during the holiday. I know it doesn't work for Valentine's Day and I'm totally not brave enough to find out just how long the grace period lasts. I suspect that on Valentine's Day, the grace period only extends until 5 minutes after I come home from work. If a present hasn't been found by then, I'd better be returning to the war, prison or graveyard.

I am however in possession of what My Girl calls "The living example of the world's worst memory." I can still find my way home, but I'm not certain that it's because me or my car remembers the way most of the time.

Granted, we bought the presents in the beginning of December which, for me is pretty much shopping during July. It's way to soon to be serious about gift buying then. I look at it like this, the retailers aren't desparate for my paltry dollars until they think the season is almost over. They overbuy everything in anticipation of a "record year" in the gift giving industry so they're frantic come Dec. 21. THAT is the time to shop. Plenty of choices still thanks to overly eager purchasing agents and plenty of discounts thanks to overly panicked sales managers with Sales Goals and Sales Quota's.

Right now I can only cringe in embarrassment of the anticipated phone call. "Um, yeah, hi, it's us. Just wanted to tell you that the presents I've been telling you are coming will, um, be there on Wednesday..."

Marriage is love.