Posts Tagged Shopping
(Whatever you do, when you get up to the counter, do not say the word “antlers”. You want a cup of water. This is McDonald’s. There are people in line behind you. They are anxious to get their McRibs or apple pies or whatever they came here for. Just say “Water, please”. That’s all. Don’t screw this….)
Woman Behind The Counter: Welcome to McDonald’s. How can I help you?
Woman: (with a quizzical, mildly amused look) Uhmm. How can I help you?
Me: (pleadingly) Antlersssssss…
Woman: (in a sacchariney sweet “oh, I get it, your trying to be funny and I’m trying to get through the day without choking a customer” voice) Ha. No sir, we don’t have antlers? Would you like a Quarter Pounder?
Me: (I swear, I’m trying to say “water”) Antlers…antlers, antlers…..aaaaaanttttlers.
Woman: (losing patience) Sir, we do not have antlers? What is it that you….
Me: (I have lost any control of my tone) ANTLERS!!!!!!!!
Woman: (looking frightened) Uhm. Sir, are you okay?
Me: Antlers? Antlers! Antlersantlersantlersantlers!!! ANT-LERS!!!!!
(The people in line behind me are growing more impatient. There is angry mumbling. People behind the counter are starting to pay attention)
Woman: (near tears) Sir, I’m going to have to go get the manager. I don’t understand…..
Me: Antlers!!!!! What part of antlers do you not understand???? ANTLERS!!!!
(The woman behind the counter turns and begins to walk towards the back of the kitchen)
Me: (Turning towards the gathering crowd behind me) Antlers!!!! All I want are some antlers! Antlers! I’m thirsty!!! Don’t you understand! Antlers!!!! Anyone….please!!!!
A large man in the line: (helpfully) Are you okay? Do you need some….assistance??
Me: I asked for antlers! Not a difficult request! Antlers! Antlers! Antlers! Am I not speaking English or something?
An elderly woman behind me in line: (slowly dipping her hand in her purse for either mace or a cellphone) I think that you are confused. Antlers are things that are on a deer’s head?
Her husband: Or an elk. Or a caribou. Or a…..
Me: Listen you ignorant mongrel! I came in here, I asked politely for antlers and these people are acting like I’m crazy. ANTLERS!!! You are trying to confuse me, but I’m not confused. I’m as clearheaded as I have ever been IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. I was born in New Rochelle Hospital! My mom’s maiden name is Czechlowski! I have green eyes! The 18th President was Ulysses S. Grant! ANTLERS!!!!
(The enormous manager comes out from behind the counter with a menacing look. He puts his hand on my shoulder. I spin around and glare at him. His name tag reads “Timothy”)
Manager: Sir, I’m going to have to ask….
Me: ANTLERS! Listen you burger flipping, fry shoveling fascist! I made a simple request. I asked for….
Manager: (sternly) You are going to have to…..
Me: NO!!! I will not be silent in the face of tyranny! I will not wilt in the face of oppression! I will not change my order!!! I will not stand mutely as you ignore my desideratum!!!! You will not press down upon my brow with this crown of French fries!!!! You will not crucify me upon an arch of gold!!!!!!
Manager: (looking towards the kitchen) Somebody needs to call the police. CALL THE POLICE!!!! (looking at me) Sir, if you do not calm down you are going to be arrested. Please…CALM DOWN!!!!
Me: Calm down!!! Don’t tell me to calm down. Don’t you understand!!! Antlers….you mindless chromosome deficient mongoloid! Antlers are all I wanted! ANTLERS!!!!! The world is falling apart! The ice caps are melting! Small microbes are currently circulating through this room AS WE SPEAK that have the power to kill us all! I just want some ANTLERS!!!!
Manager: (trying to hold in his fury) Okay….OKAY….we don’t have any antlers? Is there anything….ANYTHING….else we can get you?
They were banging wildly at the windows. Bloody, barbeque sauce stained hands clutching at whatever they could grab. We had kept them at bay by throwing of the store’s stock of McRibs through the drive-thru window into the parking lot. The horde of undead monsters gobbled them up, consuming them in a grotesque span of seconds. In their fiendish delirium, they could no longer tell the difference between human life and a dollar ninety-nine cent sandwich (2.99 in some markets). The five of us were about to become a very unhappy meal.
There was Janet, the waitress, Addams, the cop, McBain, the lawyer with great hair, and The Doctor. They had gone through their lives secretly wondering when their hour would finally come round. They never would have believed they would perish terribly, mistaken for a limited time sandwich. I had dressed well, anticipating teaching an excellent day of thought provoking history classes. Instead, I was going to be eaten by zombies at my local neighborhood McDonald’s.
Janet: We should feed them something else.
Addams: We should not feed them, it will just encourage them.
McBain: We should reason with them.
Me: We should run.
Doctor: I’m a doctor.
Janet: We should scare them.
Addams: We should shoot them.
McBain: We should trick them.
Me: We should hide.
Doctor: I’m a doctor.
Janet: We should climb out through the air conditioning ducts.
Addams: We should set off an explosion in the parking lot.
McBain: We should wait for the army to save us.
Me: We should help them.
Doctor: I’m a doctor!
(Banging on the windows is growing louder)
Janet: We should feed them the cop.
Addams: We should feed them the lawyer.
McBain: We should feed them the poor.
Me: We should try to understand them.
Doctor: I’m a Doctor!
Janet: We should fight them with our mop handles.
Addams: We should make an example of one of them and scare the others.
McBain: We should poison the McRibs, then feed them to the zombies.
Me: We should educate them.
Doctor: I am a….Doctor!!!!!
(More zombies pounding on the windows. The zombie moaning is becoming intolerable)
Janet: We should protest their actions.
Addams: We should show no fear.
McBain: We should see if we can pay them to go away.
Me: We should build them houses.
Janet: We should raise their taxes!
Addams: We should use our weapons!
McBain: We should offer them a simplified tax code that does not punish job creators!
Me: We should offer them adequate dental care!!!!
Doctor: I am a doctor…I am a doctor….I am a doctor! I’m a Doctor!!!
(The glass in the main window begins to crack. Zombies swarm towards opening with horrific glee.)
Janet: We should pray with them.
Addams: We should pray for them.
McBain: We should pray for ourselves.
Me: We should love them.
Doctor: I am a doctor????
(The window shatters and the zombies pour through)
Janet: This can’t happen; I’m too young.
Addams: This can’t happen; I have a family.
McBain: This can’t happen; this is America
Me: This can’t happen; we’ve acted honorably.
Doctor: This can’t happen; I’m a doctor.
The zombies attack and overwhelm us. Lots of gore and guts and gizzards and grossness. You’ve seen this movie before or at least one like it. Just make up your own ending. Mine is…They all die. Alone.
Vladimir: So….you take a watch and you put it in a bag….
Estragon: What type of bag?
Vladimir: It doesn’t matter.
Estragon: Well, what type of watch is it?
Vladimir: Again…not important. You put the watch in a bag. Now, you take a hammer and you smash it.
Vladimir: Just see if you can follow me here. You smash the watch into a hundred pieces….
Estragon: Is it a digital watch or a nice one?
Vladimir: It doesn’t matter….You take the watch and you smash it into….
Estragon: Well, why are you smashing the watch?
Vladimir: Okay, that’s really not important! The important thing is…
Estragon: What kind of lunatic would break a perfectly good watch?
Vladimir: It’s a metaphor. Nobody is really breaking a watch with a hammer. The idea is to prove a point.
Estragon: But how can you prove a point using an example that is completely unrealistic.
Vladimir: I don’t know. It’s not important! Just listen.
Estragon: Well, if it is a digital watch with one of those plastic bands it’s not going to break with a hammer
Vladimir: Fine. It’s a Rolex. A really nice gold Rolex.
Estragon: A Rolex is really expensive. Why would you want to break an expensive watch? And I don’t know if a hammer will break a Rolex into a hundred pieces.
Vladimir: Fine. It is an inexpensive magical watch that magically will break into a hundred pieces. Can I get back to my point?
Vladimir: Okay, so you break the watch. You shake it up in the bag?
Vladimir: Does it re-form into the same watch?
Estragon: Well, of course not!
Estragon: See what? I’m not sure I follow.
Vladimir: Evolution is impossible.
Vladimir: Something has to be there to assemble the watch if it’s going to come back together, right?
Estragon: I guess.
Vladimir: And the watch has been reassembled into a perfect whole, right?
Estragon: That is what you said.
Vladimir: Well, then there has to be a watchmaker who has a plan, right?
Estragon: Uhmmm. Okay. So, who is the watchmaker?
Vladimir: God is the watchmaker! Otherwise the watch would still be in pieces.
Estragon: Wait…so God reassembled the watch?
Vladimir: What do you mean why? He’s God. He doesn’t need a good reason.
Estragon: So, God just goes around putting broken watches together? We’re not sure why. That’s just what he does.
Vladimir: Exactly. He loves us. Maybe he wants us to have a nice watch. Maybe he wants us to be happy. That’s for Him to know.
Estragon: If he wanted us to be happy, why didn’t he just stop us from breaking the watch in the first place?
Vladimir: Free will!
Estragon: So, wait, he loves us so much he is willing to fix the watch, but he won’t stop us from breaking it?
Estragon: That’s not a very efficient system.
Vladimir: Well, He doesn’t have to be efficient. He’s God. He doesn’t have to explain anything.
Estragon: Well, if he’s going to go around smashing watches, I think he owes somebody an explanation. That’s pretty rude. If he smashed my watch I’d be really angry!
Vladimir: Okay…forget the watch. We’ll use another example. Pick something.
Estragon: A piece of ham
Vladimir: So, you put a piece of ham in a bag…
Estragon: Ham….in a bag?
Vladimir: Yes! And you smash it into a million pieces.
Vladimir: It still tastes like ham and smells like ham and looks like ham. RIGHT?!?!?
Estragon: Yes…I think.
Vladimir: So there has to be some kind of ham designer, right?
Estragon: Yes…well….maybe…I guess….
Vladimir: Evolution couldn’t have designed ham.
Estragon: Wait…why not?
Vladimir: Because it is perfect.
Estragon: What is perfect?
Vladimir: Ham! Ham is perfect!
Estragon: Compared to what?
Vladimir: To a universe without ham.
Estragon: How can you tell?
Vladimir: God wouldn’t have created it if it weren’t perfect. Ham is in our universe. Therefore, ham is perfect.
Estragon: Okay, now I’m really confused. If God is perfect and created a world that is the most perfect possible world for us, why does he create people who smash ham and watches in bags?
Vladimir: To test us.
Vladimir: To see how much we love him.
Estragon: Oh…so we show him we love him by not smashing things in bags?
Estragon: I see. So that’s the point of the whole thing!
Vladimir: YES! That’s the point. We have the choice whether to smash ham or watches or even possums in bags. If we choose not to, we do it because we love God. And if we do that we will be rewarded.
Estragon: With a nice watch?
Vladimir: Maybe with a watch. Maybe with eternal happiness. We’re not exactly sure. We just know that the reward is going to be REALLY good.
Estragon: And if we smash things in bags?
Vladimir: Then bad things happen to us. REALLY bad things. Things like sickness or eternal suffering or boils on our face.
Estragon: Boils on our face?!?!?!
Vladimir: It won’t be a problem for you if you just do what you are supposed to.
Estragon: So these are the rules?
Estragon: And if I follow them, I’ll be…………happy???
Vladimir: Unless God has another plan for you. But eventually you’ll be happy. At some point.
Estragon: Will I get a watch?
Vladimir: If that is what you desire and that is God’s plan and you follow the rules then, yes, you will get a watch.
(At this exact moment, a giant meteor hits the earth obliterating smashing it into a million pieces. The entire human race, including Estragon and Vladimir, are destroyed in a firey, horrible instant without warning)
A new class of criminal is lurking in the shadows of organized society looking to take advantage of those who have been lulled into a false sense of complacency. The most effective criminals are often ones who can appear innocent. Their innocence gives an unsuspecting victim a feeling of security, and then, when their guard is down and they are at their most vulnerable, these criminals will strike. Babies are often thought to be the most innocent among us, but upon closer consideration, this façade of innocence quickly fades.
The other day I was walking around the local Target and a family shopping with an adorable little child who had to have been about a year and a half old sitting in a shopping cart. I immediately became fascinated with this family and began following them around the store. While they were in the toy aisle and the parents were distracted, I watching this “harmless” child reach out of the cart and grab a small toy car. He played with the toy car for the rest of his time in the store continuing to play with it as the parents moved through the checkout aisle and out of the store. This baby had just committed the crime of shoplifting. What disturbed me about this was the joyful, guilt free expression on the child’s face and the ease with which he pulled off this little heist. Many of you are apathetic to this sort of crime. You may wonder why it even matters. You may think that this sort of theft is a victimless crime. According to research done by the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office in Olympia Washington, shoplifting costs American businesses 16 billion dollars per year. Yet babies, who commit this type of felony with impunity, are rarely held accountable for their crimes.
Recently, I watched two babies fight over who was going to get to play with a Fisher Price Little People Happy Sounds Home. One of the babies pushed the other baby to the floor and snatched it up into its sinister little hands. If this had taken place on a street corner and it had been a mugger throwing an older woman to the ground and taking her bag, people would have been horrified and the mugger would have been jailed for several years. This baby, however, was merely put in timeout for 2 minutes. After this so-called punishment, the baby returned to the toy room to no doubt continue its violent, plundering ways.
By the standards of any civilized society, babies are immoral little creatures. Let’s measure the actions of most babies against the golden rule: do unto others as they would do to you. This is a maxim that has showed up in different forms in many major world religions. Babies are often willfully negligent of this idea. If you were to rip a toy out of a baby’s hand, it would scream and cry for mommy or daddy to make things right. Clearly, babies value possessions and feel as if their rights to property should be protected. But babies will clumsily grab an item that belongs to another child without a moment’s thought. When the size two Hello Kitty slipper is on the other foot, they feel no remorse or empathy.
If this argument sounds absurd to you, it shows how deeply you have been conned. They look back at us with those darling little eyes and make those cute little sounds and we are ready to forgive almost anything. But we must not be fooled. The impact of baby kleptomania is a massive drain on our economy. Baby on baby crime has reached near epidemic levels. The sociopathic, inconsiderate nature of babies is an issue that has strained our great nation to its breaking point. As a society, we must band together and take a stand against them…before it’s too late.
My basketball team got beat by 31 points last night and I am still alive. It was a long, cold night, we got the bus back at nearly 10 o’clock and we committed 15 fouls in the first quarter, which must be a record in the state of Georgia. I have a vague fear that people watching might think that the team is losing because I am a bad coach and I have no clue what I am doing. I worry that there is something I am missing, some vital piece of information that could allow me to dramatically change our fortunes. Losing games has the painful side effect of bringing to the surface dormant feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. These are hard things to avoid.
In spite of this, I really don’t feel that bad about the whole thing. Losing is not something I am proud of, but it is something that I have become less afraid of over the years. What I am about to say is heretical in the world of coaching and probably will elicit eye rolls from folks who worship at the altar of the “Church of the Winner”, but losing is really not all that bad. I’ll even go one step further into the nether reaches of coaching apostasy…I had a great time at the game last night and my players did as well! How is this possible?
A good deal of the culture of sport is built on the mistaken belief that winning actually means something beyond the basic fact that Team A scored more points that Team B. I have often been told that character wins basketball games. This is absurd. If a team has character and scores less points than the other team, they still lose. You could put together a team of sociopathic axe murderers and put them against a team of people who have run into burning buildings to save the lives of children and if the axe murderers put the ball in the basket more often they are going to win.
I have been told that winning is a product of hard work and determination. Another patently ridiculous statement. I have coached players who were extraordinarily committed to every aspect of the game but cannot keep up with disinterested natural athletes. Working hard may make you a better player but it can only close the gap so much. Hard work and determination are great character traits to have and will serve one well in life, but once the players step on the court it can only carry you so far. In order to get at the heart of how insane this idea is imagine for a second two basketball teams. One is a highly talented team who wins many of their games, some by embarrassingly high totals, and another is a minimally talented team who gets beat soundly on a regular basis.
Which team really shows the most determination? The team that often loses has to deal with the hopelessness and sadness that losing can create. Sometimes people are angry with them because they have not performed well. Sometimes they feel embarrassed or ashamed because they lost. Yet they keep coming back game after game. During the 2007-08 season, the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders men’s basketball team went 0-29. Can you imagine how much determination they must have shown to keep playing and working hard day after day?
The all time weakest sports cliché is the one where people think winning is a product of discipline. Bobby Bowden perfectly summed up the problem with this statement when he was asked if discipline was the key to winning. He responded by saying “if it was, Army and Navy would be playing for the National Championship every year.”
Maybe all of these positive attributes can be put together to create a culture of winning. They may help you, but when your team walks out of the tunnel and the other team has a significant advantage “height, speed, natural strength, etc.” there is only so much you can do. We don’t remember the story of David and Goliath because it is a regular occurrence; we remember it because it is the exception to the rule.
I once heard a football coach asked what he liked most about his star running back. He replied, “The kid makes me look like I know what I am doing.” I have stolen that quote and used it repeatedly over the years because I believe that it is instructive in understanding what I actually do for four months of the year. I try to teach skills and technique, but some players are able to get it and some are not. The great players often pick things up after a few repetitions and the ones with less ability may spend their entire time in high school working on one skill that another player could pick up in a half hour. Those with a set of attributes that gear them for success in the game will make them me seem as if I am a brilliant coach, those without the winning attributes will make me appear like I don’t have a clue about how to teach the game. If winning is the goal and my self worth as a coach is derived from it how on earth can I feel anything but anger towards those who don’t perform well and favor those who are successful?
Last night, while we were driving down to the game the girls on my team had a blast. They sang along to pop songs on the radio, they told hysterical jokes, wore funny hats and laughed uncontrollably. We showed up at the gym and were baffled by the bizarre conditions. The locker room looked vaguely like something out of the Saw films. The gym had no heat in it and it was a balmy 40 degrees at game time. We got on the court and the other team scored the first 17 points. None of the players put their head down and no one was angry. Our center hit a jump shot to get us on the board and the bench went crazy. My point guard picked up her third foul in the first quarter because of a bit of ill-advised gambling on my part. She came over to ask me to keep her in the game and I informed her that she had three fouls. She looked over at me and said “But I get five!”
We laughed about that one the whole bus ride home. Another girl on the team asked me if she could coach the next game. I told her she couldn’t and she looked at me without a hint of irony and said, “Coach…let me shine!” Great line! We laughed about that for a while, too.
We stopped for gas and snacks and two of the girls bought matching day-glow hats that made them look like a pack of tropical Skittles. Sitting on the bench with me was a young man who is the assistant coach of the boy’s team. He played for me when he was in high school and he loves the game so much he has decided to try coaching. He is a great person and is a tremendous coach one day. I have been lucky enough to get a chance to coach with several athletes that played for me in high school and it is an unbelievably wonderful feeling.
I guess I should have been acting dejected after the game. Smiling while your team is losing seems like an act of betrayal, but it isn’t. It is an act of love for the game and your players and an act appreciation and reverence for how much fun a game can be. I have never been one for oft repeated bromides about how winning isn’t what’s important, but I have to wonder what type of person I would be to be surrounded by all that joy and life while sadly brooding about not winning a basketball game. Think of what I could have missed.
Vince Lombardi once said, “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.” Well Vince, I don’t want to teach my players to be good losers, I want them to be the best losers that ever stepped on the court. I want them to experience elation every time they play basketball. I want them to look back with an incurable fondness and veneration for every moment of the season. If I could choose one thing to teach every player who puts on a uniform it’s to love the game without reserve and to play like that everyday.