Monday, February 27, 2006

Casual racism

I know, another SERIOUS topic. But it is something that I think about, and it happened today. First let me say this, everybody stereotypes. It's true. When you meet someone, when you see someone on the street, you will start assigning them certain characteristics based on your experience with their appearance. You could assign them the title of snob, bitch, thug, or anything else. Personally, I don't think it is a bad thing that people do that. It is a way of making the world around you make sense. You have life experiences, and they affect how you react to a similar experience the next time. For instance, when you are young, you find out that the stove gets hot. You burn your hand. The next time, and for the rest of your life, it affects how you approach a stove. That is a rather simplified corollary, but it does apply. You have met people with a similar appearance to someone you are approaching, your mind recalls the previous encounter, and it informs how this encounter will begin. But THIS is the main point of human behavior, at least in this case. The past can inform how you begin the interaction, but an open minded human being doesn't let it dictate how the interaction continues. In other words, the first time I walk up to a guy with a short sleeved button down shirt and polyester pants, wearing a pair of glasses with tape in the middle and with a big pocket protector full of pens in his shirt pocket, I am going to apporach the situation as if he is, for lack of a better term, a nerd. However, when I begin talking to him, if he starts talking like Antonio Banderas and discussing the merits of hemi versus turbo deisel, well you get the idea. Stereotyping as initial reaction is human nature. It is allowing the individual you meet to not be trapped in your stereotype that makes us a community.

Which brings me to the reason I brought this up. Someone who works in the dental office was behind me on the drive in to work this morning. This is one of the people up there I actually like and get along with. Well, she asks me if I noticed the damage on the front of her car, and I say that I did. She then begins to tell me what happened. It seems she was driving along York Road near the Senator (it's a Baltimore thing. If you aren't from the area, that means it is a borderline part of town. One of those "good block bad block" kind of deals). Apparently she saw tow cars in front of her to the left slam on their brakes and the two drivers get out and start arguing rather vociferously (just in case you didn't know, it's Big Word Monday!). These two men were both black. Now I will use as close to her exact words as possible..."And these two big black guts get out of their car and start arguing. I got scared. I thought bullets were going to start flying...". She was watching the fight, not paying attention to the road, and rear ended the car in front of her.

Before condeming her, let's look at this. Baltimore is one of the most violent citied in America (possibly the most violent city, if the current conspiacy rumor about the police department and the mayor cooking the numbers to drop them so it looked like crime was on the decline have anty merit. Really it is fascinating stuff. Go to or and check out the story). Like many cities, there is a lot of what I call chosen segregation. White people don't move into black neighborhoods and vice versa. There is a lot of what I have seen called "black-on-black" crime. The section of town she was in has been known to host violence. A lot of the violence ends in gunshots (we average almost if not more than a killing a day here. Not something I am bragging about, but facts are facts). All of those factors informed her thought process.

When she first said it to me, I immediately began to think that it was a racist thought. Then I started thinking about how she never seemed racist to me, I never saw her react negatively to any of the black or hispanic co-workers in the office. Then I started thinking how asinine these thoughts were. Can I not say that the same thought would not have crossed my mind if I was where she was? I cannot. And that leads me to this moral quandry. Is her (and what could have possibly been my) initial reaction racist, or does it fit within the framework of what I was talking about earlier? Seeing how she didn't get close to the conflict, what with the accident and exchanging insurance information and all, there was no way for her to get anything that would alter her view of the incident.

When she told me, it felt as if she was telling me this in order to get the okay that her reaction was valid. I cannot say for a fact that she was trying to get validation from me, but it did have that sense to it. I declined to show my hand one way or the other, because of my own ambiguity to the whole situation. So I put it to you, gentle readers. Was she wrong? Am I wrong? How would you have reacted? Can you honestly put yourself in that situation, including all of the variables, and say you wouldn't have had the same thought, if only for an instant? If she had driven through the same thing but in a different area, one not thought of as a place of violence, would she have reacted the same way? I know you can't answer that last question, but I felt it was worth mentioning anyway. Tell me what you think, I eagerly await your responses.

And as always, I will strive for my next post to contain many fart and dick jokes to make up for the seriousness of this post. I am like Playboy, no one REALLY reads me for the articles. And before you ask, yes, they are real. And they are SPECTACULAR!

Monday, February 13, 2006

If you blogged here, you would be homepaged now

If you get the reference, good. If not, drive past a few apartment complexes and you will see. Anyway, it has been a long weekend, full of snow and strife (incident at the night job. Believe it or not, I cannot get into details about it. Kinda sad, ain't it?) But the result of all the drama is that I now sit here in my cubicle and suffer from bus butt (I am going to assume you know what that is. If you don't, drop me a response on here and I will exlplain. And here I go again thinking more than 5 people read this damn thing), trying not to fall asleep before I leave. CAN YOU FEEL THE EXCITEMENT?!?!?

To tell you the truth, I am feeling pretty lethargic today. Probably a combination of the weather and stress. I could really use some tension release tonight (God I hope my wife is reads this before bedtime!), and if I don't get that, I would at least like 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Maybe I'll get that when I am dead. But I am beginning to doubt that.

Actually I really don't have a damn thing to say today. I just felt like I left you all hanging last time, and I wanted you to know that I did not kill nor was I killed. I am just in some kind of very sleepy place. I think it is that the basement is warm and the air is a little on the stagnant side. It induces coma-like qualities.

One last thing before I go. If you have not yet seen "The Aristocrats" (the documentary, not the isney Animated movie), go rent it NOW. It is vulgar and disgusting and vile and a laugh riot, not to mention a beautiful look into the psyche of humanity, especialyl comics. It really should be required viewing, but not if kids are in the room. Or the house. Or the womb. But other than that, everyone should see it. Hell, even Carrot Top is funny in this movie. And THAT is one hell of an accomplishment.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I am now officially sick of it all

Yeah, I went dark for a while again. But like Jack Bauer, I have risen from the dead to save the world and hopefully get good enough ratings for renewal.

So where do I stand? I know, on my feet, har-de-har-har. But really, it has come down to this: Married life is great so far. The night job is what it is, not really good or bad, just annoying that I have to do it. As far as the day job goes, I am done with it. I am not quitting, because that isn't economically feasible. However, I don't have to pretend that I give a rat's ass about any of it.

As you are probably aware (I think I have mentioned this before), my day job wouldn't exist if the people in the dental office actually did their jobs correctly. That isn't the case, so I have health benefits. With that comes a heaping helping of crap from them. There are probably 4 or 5 people up there that actually like me and understand why I am here. But the vast majority (including the Office Manager and the doctor in charge of the department) openly dislike me and make my being here difficult. The fact that the OM was defined as incompetent by the firm brought in to evaluate the office before my real boss was given the assignment of fixing everything, and she hired me to be the one on point, is testament to what I am dealing with. My real boss helps, but there is only so much that she can do. The fact that the DICK (doctor in charge - the "K" is just because that is what I think of him) decided that instead of reviewing with her what the evaluating firm said and working with her to correct those mistakes he would just keep them from her and allow her to continue on making the same damn incompetent mistakes over and over again is proof that I am in what is basically an unwinnable position. But all of that, I can handle. Besides, in a sick way it makes my job a little easier because my real boss knows that I am in an unwinnable position and tries her best to help me, and when something goes wrong, she sees what part of it is my fault and what part isn't and reacts accordingly. I like a boss who can think rationally. So that isn't the problem. The real problem is where I do my work from, the basement.

Here in the business office is the IT department (over against the far wall, doing what they need to and not being bothered too much by the rabble down here). Everywhere else is some form of medical billing. Accounts receivable for the hospital, pre-authorizations for surgery and physical therapy, Medicare liaisons and the like. And me. Dental. Just me.

I also know I have said in the past that some of the sensibilities down here do not mesh with mine. Nor do I expect everyone to think the same way I think (even if I am right, which I am) or like what I like. Say for instance, taste in music. My tastes are rather eclectic, but while working I try to stay with music that is relatively safe. I like "classic" rock, like REO Speedwagon, Journey and STYX. I enjoy some country, like Hank Williams Jr, Randy Travis, and Rascall Flatts. I also have a love of disco (truth be told, I love pretty much all 70's music. I really think it is some of the best pop music spectrum wise that we have seen), and will listen to ABBA or a mix cd that I burned a while ago. But here is what has me saying "Fuck 'am all" right now. My real boss was upstairs in the dental office and called down to ask me to bring her something, and while we were on the phone she asked me how loud my radio was. I told her I didn't have it on at the time. She said I need to keep it down, because a couple of people had complained to her about it. Now let's look at this.

1) NO ONE has come to me and asked me to turn it down. The last time I checked, this wasn't 8th grade. Speak to me adult to adult instead of going to the principal.

2) I am subjected to listening to THEIR music (as well as their watching the news while they cluck back and forth about how horrible it all is). I am not against Gospel music, but it is not what I choose to listen to. And yet every day I am inundated with hosannas and holy holy holies. Not to mention online keyboard (piano) lessons (!) and anything else anyone else chooses. I have not once complained to their bosses, nor have I to them. It is (to me) one of the things that you have to deal with when you work in a cubicle. A necessary evil. And yet "Don't Stop Believin' " is so offensive to their sensitive constitutions that they feel the need to go directly to my boss to file a complaint, without speaking to me?

To tell you the truth, it is just giving me extra motivation to get the hell out of here and find a new job. I get paid jack shit and all I get from this place is heartburn and tension headaches. I cannot believe that I am saying this, but it is easier to deal with JabberJaws than this. Her I can block out and grunt one syllable answers to when she starts talking to me directly. But this is going beyond the pale.

And in case anyone wants an update, I have not yet killed JJ. So far I can still run for President. And since she won't be in again this week and is off all of next week, I will get a chance to recharge my batteries before having to deal with her again. So anybody who had the over/under of the end of January, you have lost money (and to my friend the former Ms. Weird, that means you. Yes I am back. I seem to go in fits and spurts on this thing, so you can probably expect a number of posts over the next couple of weeks. And then...back to my Special Ops coversion I suppose. Just remember, you have awoken the sleeping giant, so be prepared for the consequences).

I think I will post some silly pictures so I am not a complete downer. I know when I get all morose and bitchy it doesn't make for a gigglefest of reading, and I don't think you come here for my malaise. Except for the masochistic bastards who feed off of that sort of thing. You know who you are, you pain vampires.

"I will miss you most of all Scarecrow. Now go protect my fucking corn!"

-Dorothy's original line before she got into the hot air balloon. It was thought to be incongruous with the rest of the story and was cut.