Saturday, April 29, 2006

It's My Fate To Hate To Wait

Right now I'm waiting for a furniture company to deliver a new sofa, loveseat and recliner. We bought them two weeks ago but it has taken us a couple of weeks to get the living room ready for the new furniture. We work slow.

This morning Big Brothers and Big Sisters picked up my old loveseat and my entertainment center, both of them about old enough to vote.

I hate waiting for anything, and especially for big ticket items. Right now I am sitting in my computer chair because there is nowhere else to sit except for the floor, and my wife says, "Don't sit on the floor because the carpet has just been cleaned." What? My sitter-downer is dirty?

Even the kitchen table and chairs are covered with houseplants, and collectibles that go into the living room, in anticipation of the new furniture.

Besides my usual paranoia about allowing strangers in the house I have an inborn sense of pessimism, a gloom-and-doom mentality that surfaces in these situations. We got a call about 45 minutes ago from the furniture guys saying, "It'll be another hour or two," and that was after they told us this morning we were slated to be delivered "right after lunch." Since it's nearly 3:00 p.m. that's one helluva long lunch! My pessimism is born of the notion of Murphy's Law: If something can go wrong, it will. If the furniture truck can break down it will. If the driver can't find the address, if for some reason the sofa, loveseat and recliner get burned up when the truck explodes into flames, it will happen to me. It's all part of my paranoia about everyday living. I just expect the worst to happen and when it does I shrug my shoulders and say, "Eh. Toldja so."

When things go right I say, "Well, it's because I was superstitious about something going wrong. It worked in reverse." Man, anyone can come up with screwy rationales like those! I'm great at them.

While I wait I thought we'd look at a few more shoes. I had some more to put into my last edition of this blog, but didn't have enough room. So let's take a looksee, shall we?

These shoes are called "Brazilian Bitch." Don't yell at me, ladies. I don't make this stuff up, I only report it.

Silver Strappy. When they're strappy I feel sappy but really happy.

"Tongue-tied," 6" heels. Yow. That leaves me tongue-tied.

Here's a gal who claims her mom says she goes out with too many heels.

Now that the shoe-show is over, an update on the furniture delivery. It was made about 4:00 p.m. The stuff looks great! We now have a retro-looking red sofa and loveseat and a coffee-colored recliner for me. I think Sally thought it would be good because at some point I usually spill my coffee. Gotta be good with this, will have to last us for a long, long time.

Ciao for now, El Postino

Finding Sally's Lost Shoe

Our friends in California have great style when it comes to birthday gifts. For my wife's birthday this week they sent a copy of an old Rand McNally reader, Sally's Lost Shoe and Other Stories. They have a nose for turning up the most unusual and unique gifts.

It helps to know that my wife's name is Sally.

The plot of the story is that the little girl has lost her shoe and can't go to church. Mamma and Daddy Bumsey (yes, "Bumsey") tell four-year-old Sally, "If you can't find your white shoe, wear your brown ones." Unfortunately her only (!!) other pair of shoes is a shabby brown pair, and they're unacceptable to wear to church with her new red dress.

Click here for full size image.

A digression. This book was published in 1945, and almost certainly written during WWII, so coming out of the Depression into a time of wartime shortages it wasn't uncommon for a child in even a middle-class household to have only one or two pairs of shoes. It seems ridiculous in our modern America of conspicuous over-consumption, but those were the times. Children reading this story in 1945 wouldn't find that unusual at all, but today's kids might say, "Why don't her parents run her over to Wal-Mart and buy her a new pair?" For one thing, the story takes place on Sunday morning and in those days no store would have been open on Sunday morning. Also, stores that sold shoes were shoestores. Like the ones I went to, Poll Parrot, or Buster Brown shoes. We could stand at the fluoroscope, some sort of x-ray machine, stick our feet in the box and look at our foot bones! No wonder my feet hurt so much nowadays.

But, I digress on my digression. Sally's story is rather simple. Her little floppy-eared dog, Jiggsey, has taken the shoe. He's being very cool. While Mamma and Daddy Bumsey (good god, what a name) and big brother Dick search for the shoe, Jiggsey just stands around doing nothing. Of course this tells Dick, who is apparently a six-year-old Sherlock Holmes, and probably grows up to be a New York City detective, that the dog had something to do with the shoe's disappearance. Dick goes to Jiggsey's doghouse, and sure enough, there is the shoe. Not a very complicated story, just kind of cute for a young kid to grasp.

If I were looking for Sally's shoes I might have a different idea of what I'm looking for. Here are some shoes I think would cause a buzz in church:

How about these high heel sneakers? "Put on your high heel sneakers, 'cause we're going out tonight..." as the old song goes. You always wondered what they looked like:

Here's a pair that Lucy Ricardo would have worn!

If she wanted to keep Ricky home more often she might have worn these along with this cute little outfit.

Finally, if Sally wanted to bring the devil into church, she might have worn these:

Yikes! I'd call these Book of Revelations shoes. They'd make it easy to "kick against the pricks."

Ciao for now, El Postino

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

¡Secretaries si. Bosses, no!

Today was Secretaries, I mean Administrative Professionals Day. I don't want to make anyone mad, but it used to be Secretaries Day, and that's the name I know it by and like.

I like secretaries. I work around them all day long. My wife is a secretary. It was also her birthday today, so she cleaned up. Her boss usually gives her a nice basket of food and goodies and this year was no exception. It was a coincidence that Secretar--errrrrr, I mean Administrative Professionals Day fell on her birthday, but she had a really big, celebrative type of day.

If there is a day set aside for secretaries, and I'm not one to knock that, but why not for other working people? Labor Day just doesn't cut it. Sure it's a federal holiday, but my boss doesn't give me a big basket of food and goodies on Labor Day. They really need to have a Working Persons Day where bosses are forced to dole out some sort of present.

That would kill my boss. He's OK with giving his secretaries a present, but it would probably put him in the hospital to give anything to the guys who work for him.

And what is this shit with Bosses Day! That comes along later in the year. I can't believe anyone would create a day for bosses. Make it Scum Of The Earth Day or Wipe Your Ass With Your Boss's Picture Day and that would be to my liking.

I've never had a boss I liked and my current one is no exception. Thirty years with the school district and without exception the bosses I've been cursed with have been incompetent, know-nothing boobs. The guy who hired me was especially bad. He had one of those affected names. He went by Jim, but his first name was B. James to make it look fancy. I used to say that the "B" in his name stood for belligerent, bellicose, bullheaded and bombastic, because he was all of those. Thank god he got cancer of the eyeball and had to retire. His cancer is now gone and thankfully, so is he. (Retired that is, not dead.)

My current boss reminds me of a living example of the Peter Principle. Remember that old book? The one that claimed that people rise to the level of their incompetence. That's my boss. He is so far out of his element it's pathetic. He came to us after being a failed high school coach and even failed at being a manager of a tire store.

When he gives orders what we do is take what he says, say "sure, we can do that," then go off and do things our own way. It's called passive-aggressive, but it's the only way to deal with a fat dickhead like him.

I would take a brick up the side of the head before I'd give him a present on Bosses Day. It galls me that one day I'll have to turn in my retirement papers and that will be enough to put him celebrating, so I told him maybe I'll just wait until he dies and then retire, just so I won't make him too happy.

He's so damn stupid he thinks I'm kidding. Yeah, right, boss...I'm kidding. Har-de-har-har.

Don't write me and tell me what a great boss you have, or if you're a boss that you're the exception. You don't have a good boss because there are none, so you must be some sort of kiss ass, and you aren't a good boss because "good boss" is an oxymoron. You're a moron just like all of the other bosses.

I am reasonably sure that Bosses Day was invented by some sycophantic knob-polisher trying to brownie up his supervisor. Well, good for him. But don't expect me to break out my wallet when you're taking up a collection for flowers for the old boy, because I'll just hawk a loogie into the plate.

Anyway, after all of that, I'd like to introduce you guys to my favorite secretary, Little Heartbreaker. I'm not going to tell you whether she is buttoning or unbuttoning that top, but whatever...I'd love to give her something special on her Secretaries...errrrr, damn, I mean Administrative Professionals Day.

Ciao for now, El Postino

Sunday, April 23, 2006

We Love Them, Yeah Yeah Yeah!

In the course of cleaning out my house over the past few days I've found things forgotten or things I thought lost. Among them was an old comic I bought back in '64 during the heyday of Beatlemania.

My brother and I were Beatles fans, and tended to buy a lot of junk as long as it was to do with the Beatles. This old comic is in pretty bad shape. Definitely not anything to sell on eBay. It has binder holes in it and the pin-ups in the back are gone. But the rest of the contents are intact and I thought I'd share some of it with you.

The cover:

Page 1. Click here for larger picture.

I especially like the last words: "...something exciting, something youthful and alive..." More than 40 years later, even with two members dead and two in their mid-'60s, they are still as fresh as they were in those long ago days of Beatlemania.
Ciao for now, El Postino "Beatlemaniacs, 1964"

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Feet Don't Fail Me Now...

Billie put her arm around me and I reciprocated, but as she moved away my arm didn't move as fast as her. I looked down to see my hand on her butt. My first thought was, "Uh, oh..."

Billie is a very pretty girl who works as a secretary in one of the buildings I visit during the course of my day. She isn't in a school, but she teaches software programs to school secretaries. Besides being attractive she likes to flirt, and I'm not one to ever turn down an opportunity for that. So sometimes when I go into her building she spots me and gives me a big hug or like this last time, what I call an "armaround." (Hmmm. Sounds like something Larry David would say.)

This is where my paranoia came in: Because I'm in contact with women constantly during the day, because I like to flirt, because I will touch if touched, I always have "sexual harassment" in the back of my mind. Because I'm paranoid about it I don't touch unless touched first, I don't say anything that could be misconstrued by the listener. Let me correct that. I like to think I don't say anything to be misconstrued, but I don't doubt that sometimes I say things that are misunderstood. I'm sure there are days when I leave a building and a woman I've been talking to turns to her workmate and says, "Did you hear what he just said to me?!"

It's as sure as the sun coming up in the morning that something someone says will be misinterpreted by another person. Our brains are just built that way. A major flaw in our design.

But sexual harassment is scary. For many years the school district had a sexual harassment policy but no one knew what it was. It was basically someone pointing their finger at something and saying, "That's sexual harassment." That never works when lawyers get involved so the District hired themselves a lawyer and they came up with a written policy.

Still, the policy has major problems. One of them is that it can still be a subjective judgment on the part of the harassee as to whether she is being really harassed, or even an honest one-time mistake, a slip of the tongue by the so-called harasser.

The other part that's really bad is that a third party can watch a verbal exchange between two people, and even if those people are mutually flirting, or making comments that neither finds offensive, the third party can make a complaint, claiming they were harassed because of the actions of others.

Anyway, touching is a big no-no, obviously. So when I saw my hand on Billie's butt I saw doom descending on me. I worried about it over the period of a day.

The next morning I went into Billie's building again and saw her sitting with another lady. Billie greeted me in her usual friendly manner and inside I breathed a big sigh of relief. Well, she seemed to be fine with me, and if she even noticed my hand on her butt she knows I didn't do it on purpose (or, as the Dirty Ol' Man in me sometimes thinks, maybe she did know and liked it, heh heh heh).

After the greeting she went back to talking with her lady friend, who had just finished removing her shoes. As I walked by I saw Billie examining the lady's toes. I could see with a quick glance they had been pedicured, sporting French tips and appliques on the nails. The lady looked up and saw me looking.

When I came out of the inner office and said goodbye to the ladies (who both had their shoes on by then), Billie called out to me, sarcastically, "What are you doin', lookin' at people's feet! Have you got a foot fetish or somethin'?" She was laughing in a friendly way but she caught me by surprise. The only thing that came to mind was, "Oh, whatta you know!" (not a real snappy rejoinder) and I went out the door.

I seethed a little bit. Hey, they were in a public place, looking at those fancy toenails. I'm not supposed to look?

The truth is I do have a thing about feet, and shoes too. I can defend it by saying if women go to a lot of trouble to make their feet look good, pay good money, wear great shoes, sandals, heels, pumps, whatever, then they deserve to get an admiring look. I'm not going to drop to the ground and start licking their toes, but I will look and if they are pretty I'm definitely going to enjoy.

So twice in two days Billie got my paranoia working, by my hand on her ass and by pegging me as a footguy. I wonder if she thought of me as a pervert like this guy: I'd call him a sole man!

This is not me. I wish I looked this good.

A few months ago in a thrift store I found this
sexy magazine cover for nail professionals, which made me wonder if I should make a career change.

Naw. The chemicals in that business would wipe me out. Maybe when I retire from the driving biz I'll apply to be a salesman in the Women's Shoe Department at Nordstrom's.

Ciao for now! El Postino

Bigfoot found!

Unsocial Insecurity

I saw my neighbor Andy heading across the street for me and thought, "Oh god, here goes an hour of my life..."

Andy interrupted me while I was mowing my lawn. Over a period of time I've whittled down the size of my lawn by xeriscaping over sections of my yard, but I still have enough lawn that I have to go out and risk pulling a muscle to get the ol' Craftsman going. Andy had a letter from his church, advising how to prepare for an emergency. It's some sort of post-Katrina thing someone at his church was thinking of, but we live 2000 miles away in a desert, far from a gulf or ocean.

Andy really brought it over as an excuse to talk. Andy is once again out of work. For the last few years he had been driving a van, picking up passengers from across the valley and taking them to the airport. I didn't ask him what happened; he was obviously laid off or as in the case of many of his former jobs, just got fired for some cause.

He knows I work for a school district. There are four of them in our area, of which the one I work for is second largest, with 65,000 students and nearly 100 schools. He told me his next door neighbor had arranged an interview for a driving job with another district, the second smallest in our area, which encompasses most of the inner city.

I asked him if it required a CDL license. He said, "I sure hope not. I'm 30% blind in one eye from my war injury. I'm partially disabled because of that." I noticed he was wearing a ball cap that said VIETNAM VET AND PROUD OF IT. He then went on to tell me some details of the job, six hours a day, Friday's off, etc., and that didn't sound all that good to me, but he capped it by saying, "I'm 60, so in two more years I'm going to start drawing Social Security." We talked about that for a few minutes.

After he left paranoia crept back up on me. Like a lot of people I'm getting close to Social Security age and wonder if the rules will be changed any more before I get there. They've already raised the age I could get my full Social Security, from 65 to 66. That's one more year behind the steering wheel of my truck, folks. I have toyed with the idea of drawing on it early, but Andy's idea that it could be some sort of pension, well...I hope he's got all his bills paid, because he'll barely be getting enough with Social Security to buy food and/or pay his utility bills.

Goddam it. When did this happen? When did everyone in government just let that system start going to hell knowing that this huge bulge in the population, us Baby Boomers, were moving down the road to retirement?

I've been told that the Social Security fund for many years was too big a stash of cash for the Big Spenders in our government to ignore, so they dipped their sticky hands in it in order to pay for things like the Vietnam war. Now we'll pay for it. Not only did we get drafted in the Army because of the Vietnam war, but we'll pay for it additionally in having to wait longer for our benefits and maybe not getting as much!

Everyone knows that Bush and Cheney or any of their families or buddies don't have to worry about depending on Social Security when they're too old to work. Since I don't trust anything Dubya comes up with, I didn't buy his Social Security plan, and apparently neither did anyone else.

I resent the implication that Baby Boomers are the cause of the problem. We're here in large numbers and that isn't our fault. We couldn't help it if our horny daddies came back from WWII ready to impregnant our moms in record numbers. Mom told me that when I was born in 1947 the hospital was putting women in the hall because the maternity wards were overflowing. Pediatricians had all the business they would want. The schools were in crisis the whole time we were in the system.

The story goes that circa 1953-'54 the then-superintendent of the district where I work told some parents, complaining about large class sizes and old school buildings: "I'm sorry folks, but your children are coming faster than bricks."

So what did anybody learn by this experience? In 1970 50% of the population was under 25 years of age! No one said, "Jeezus, in about 40 years we'll be in big trouble unless we start planning now." Elected officials didn't want to think about it, and neither did any of us in the public. Me either, I'm sorry to admit. That's the problem: No one thought about it, and if they did they didn't want to mention it. "Uh, excuse me...are you aware that in the first ten years of the 21st Century we're going to have a whole bunch of people retiring?" That would have gone over like the proverbial fart in church.

OK, so I'm what do I do? Well, I'm just glad I have a pension plan backed up by a state which has a solid state retirement fund. If I go another five years working for the school district then I can retire for 70% of my base pay and if I'm lucky they won't have moved the Social Security retirement age up to 80 or thereabouts, further punishing us Baby Boomers for being the children of parents who in the days after World War II were in some sort of sex frenzy. Or was it just a fad to have a bunch of kids? I think it had something to do with that, after all. Thanks once again, Mom and Dad!

Ciao for now. El Postino

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Paranoia Strikes Deep...

Last Thursday I got called in for a random drug test.

I have a CDL driver's license, which for those of you who don't know, is just short of being the federal driver's license everyone has been worrying about for years. It was mandated by the feds, administered by the state. I've had this driver's license for 10 years, and it's been totally unnecessary for me to have it to do my job, but my employer requires it.

Why? Well, I work for a large school district. I take mail to schools. I've been doing this for almost 30 years in various size vehicles. When CDL licenses became mandatory for drivers in certain categories, like semi-truck drivers or school bus drivers, then those folks became subject to random drug testing.

See, over the years interstate truck drivers have had this reputation for being high on speed, highballing from state to state in a semi-comatose state, kept awake by chemicals, babbling inanities into CB radios. I guess when they started regulating this some truck drivers had licenses in several states and if they lost one license they still had several more. The feds stepped in and in their way put an end to this sort of thing.

I don't know what schoolbus drivers have a reputation for except for putting up with a lot of bullshit from the students. Of all of the things I'm glad of by working for the school district, it's that I don't have to have a bunch of screaming kids behind me.

However, when OUR schoolbus drivers were forced to get CDL's and it made them subject to drug testing they got downright testy! They claimed that other District drivers should also be forced to participate and so I got dragged in with a new job description requirement, gotta have that CDL.

So I've been eligible for random drug testing since '95, but for 10 years managed not to get called in until last November. What happens is that a list comes down from the state and the driver is notified first thing in the morning. They must have my number, because I got called in again last Thursday.

For the record, I don't take drugs except for the drugs prescribed me by my doctor. I had a bad car crash in December and was prescribed Lortabs, which I took a few times for the pain from my broken sternum. My boss drives me crazy enough that sometimes I need to take a Valium, kindly provided for me by my friendly family doc.

First thing I noticed Thursday morning when I was pointed toward the men's room of the District Transportation Department was that a young woman was standing waiting for me. She looked to be 21, stocky, with spiky hair and a Misfits hoodie sweatshirt. I thought, "This is the person administering the test to me?" Yikes.

Drug testing is pretty sophisticated nowadays. They don't want you pulling out a vial of someone else's clean urine, so they make you take everything out of your pockets. After some preliminaries I was handed the cup and told to go into a stall. Misfits Girl had drawn a line on the cup about 1 1/2" up from the bottom. "Fill it up to here at least," she said. "Go quick."

Luckily I had three cups of coffee pushing at my bladder walls just waiting to shoot out of my urethra into a receptacle. The toilet was full of a blue dye. "Don't flush if you have to use it," she also said. Yes ma'am. Considering the firehose-like pressure of my urine I thought I might need to use the toilet after all for the spillover, but amazingly I filled the cup just short of the top. Good job, I thought.

I handed the cup full of warm piss to Miss Fits and she looked at a numbered strip along the bottom. "It's 96ยบ," she said. I guess that meant I passed that part of the test.

OK, that was over. I resisted the urge to tell her, "When they test it they'll find it's 99% Starbucks." I collected my pocket junk...a comb, hanky, coins, a pen, and headed out the door. I was 40 minutes late for my route so I did what I shouldn't do: I broke some speed laws trying to get back on schedule.

I was actually pretty happy with the whole situation, thinking I was done for at least a month in case I got called back in randomly, but then the ol' paranoid doubts started filling my brain. The night before I'd taken some Sudafed for a stuffy nose. That stuff has pseudoephedrine, and that's a component of meth. I started sweating. What if they check my pee and find traces and think I've been taking meth?

I had a coworker a few years ago who tested positive for THC, the active ingredient of marijuana. There was nothing he could do. His District career was over, and he was never able to get a CDL license again. The paranoid thoughts raced through my brain but as is usual with me my brain also started figuring out contingency plans. I thought, "I have 2 1/2 more months and then I'll have 30 years in with the District. If they fire me I'll just buy that time from the state retirement system and retire with my full 30." Problem solved.

Despite the warm, fuzzy feeling that gave me I don't want to get fired. I don't want anyone accusing me of using drugs.

The usual M.O. of the drug testing company is to call the person first, confirm that he or she has a prescription for what is found in the urine, or if it's a strictly illegal substance like THC, lower the boom on the guy and tell him the bad news. Then they contact the employer.

When we sat in on our initial meeting, telling us we were going to be subject to drug testing, the guy lecturing us told us not to eat poppyseed muffins because that would show up as an opiate. Was he just bullshitting us? I've heard both ways, one that stuff like that is too minute to show up in urine, and if it does they have a way of knowing it's not heroin, or that yes, it does show up and no, they don't have a way to tell if you're slamming H or ingesting muffins.

I'm leading up to nothing so far. It's been 6 days, and how long does it take to process the pee anyway? My coworker was tested on a Wednesday and called that Sunday night to be told he'd flunked. I've got one eye on the calendar, folks, wondering if I'll hear the phone ring.

I don't know about you, but I'm paranoid about all of this government required stuff. Look what happened in '66 when I innocently showed up for a pre-induction physical thinking there was no way I'd pass. I got my ass drafted! I found out then that sometimes what seems right or logical to you doesn't pass with the feds.

And especially nowadays, with President Ronald McBush in the White House, looking out only for his rich cronies while the rest of us surrender civil liberties, some of us willingly and some, like me, not so willingly.

'Bye! Postino