J. C. Mogensen

Reality with a Healthy Dose of Humor


The Athlete

Posted on February 23, 2015 at 2:55 PM Comments comments ()

I've been super busy (and a little worried that I didn't have anything to say anymore), so I haven't written much in quite a while. I still have plenty to say, but it's mostly bad jokes or complaints about the dumb-dumbs in the world. In an effort to jump back into the wordifying, I'm gonna share another in a long list of stories about me being occasionally idiotic. Here goes:


There was a time when I trained for a marathon. “A 5k isn’t a marathon!” I can hear the CrossFit, P90X, Intensity lunatics cry. Well, fuck you. Since 8th grade P.E., my nose is the only part of me that runs regularly, so a 5k goddamn counts.



While training my body to move at a speed beyond a jaunty stroll, I started to notice that my right leg hurt beyond the ‘why are you doing this to me, we agreed we were done with this crap when we got a driver’s license’ levels of the rest of my muscles. I went to the doctor, who said that the primary vein was responsible for the pain. He sent me to a clinic for an ultrasound. I assured them that, despite a vigorous humping from a Labrador, my leg was not pregnant. Apparently, ultrasounds can do more than look for random babies. Never stop learning, huh?


I sat there making awkward small talk with a pretty twenty-something ultrasound technician for over an hour while she consistently ventured farther north than I felt was really necessary and blasted my leg with what she promised was not gamma radiation that would leave me a lop-sided super hero. After that, it was back to the doctor.


The doctor, a nice Indian man, kept referring to the vein in his foreign accent as “main,” and “primary” which led me to ask if it was such a good idea to rip it out. “The other veins should compensate for the loss,” he said. Now, I have a lot of faith in medical experts, but I don’t like hearing words like “should” come out of the mouth of someone who’s already planning the addition he’s going to put on his house with the money from my upcoming surgery. “The other veins should probably take over, I think. Maybe.” is what I heard. I tried explaining that, if the main one was so lazy and defective, there wasn’t any good reason to believe that the other ones would pick up the slack and do more than they were required to by the vein union. In the end, the pain was enough to make me take the risk.


The recovery from “stripping” a vein is every bit as painful as it sounds and, even though the official recovery time is something like two weeks, it takes more than a month before a person can do any sort of jumping jacks. Because of the excruciating immediate pain, I got some powerful pain killers, chiefly Vicodin.


Vicodin is a wonderful, magical drug that doesn’t so much take pain away as make you not give two wet shits about it. With enough Vicodin, I’d be able to endure such torture as church, reading ‘50 Shades of Grey,’ eating hot dish, or even listening to a U2 album. My own unique physical make-up means that drugs like Vicodin hit me like a two-ton heavy thing. Unfortunately, while tripping crazy balls, I also get all the side effects - sleepiness, bowels that take a vacation, having no lead in the pencil, and, my personal favorite, itchiness. After a few days of scratching at myself like a meth-head, I called Dr. Probably and asked for advice. He suggested either switching to a less powerful drug (I tried it and found it to be about as effective as praying the pain away) or using Benadryl to control the itching. The antihistamine in Benadryl took the itching away, but amplified every other side effect. I would have curb-stomped a toddler for one good pooping. In the end I decided to go with option 3: take a drug that made me forget about my leg while also allowing me to see sounds and hear colors, claw myself raw and eventually learn to live with the scars.


Somewhere around day three of being a one-legged junkie, I saw a tow truck drive through the parking lot of my apartment building. He made several laps – clearly looking for a particular car. He stopped by mine each time. Through the pharmaceutical fog, I called upon my memory for the file in my mind where my payment records were kept. After concentrating harder than I ever had before, I realized that I could not remember making a recent payment on my car. In fact, I wasn’t entirely sure I had ever paid on my vehicle at all. The tow truck was clearly there on a repo run. My condition meant that I couldn’t even make it to my phone to try and call for help, let alone run down three flights of stairs and stop it from happening. I might have cried.

"Shoulda paid yer bills."


Hours later, when my then wife got home from work, I told her about the bank taking my car. She gave me that ‘You’re an idiot’ look that she had mastered and I had gotten so accustomed to over the years and said, “Your car is right where you left it.”


Ha! The tow truck driver must have missed it! “I need to make a payment before he comes back,” I said.


Again with the look. “You paid cash for the car when you bought it last year. Why is the Vicodin bottle empty?” she said.


Oh, that’s right.


And that, boys and girls, is why I never ran again.


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Do Great Things

Posted on January 16, 2014 at 11:35 PM Comments comments ()

I have a lot of reasons to be proud, but if someone asked me to make a list off the top of my head of the first things I'd brag about if given the chance, the things that come immediately to mind might surprise you. Sure, I have great kids and friends I can count on, but who doesn't? No, the things that I'd like people to know about me are decidedly less wholesome.

My dad has 7 brothers and they like to tell stories of the cunning stunts they pulled in their younger years whenever they get together. When I heard about them blowing up a shithouse or stealing the driveshaft from a cop's car, I took it as a challenge.

A quick disclaimer:

These things happened at least fifteen years ago. I've been a good, law-abiding, volunteering-to-teach-old-people-how-to-use-computers citizen since then. Swear.

Banned for Life

I was far from the wildest of young men, but I was no saint either. I got into my share of scuffles and taunted fate more times that I should have reasonably been able to get away with. Everyone has stories of dumb shit they did before they were old enough to know better. But, I doubt there are very many people who can say that they've been banned from a state park for life. I have.

Back in the summer of '98, my closest friends and I decided that what we needed was a break from drinking at home or the bars. So, logically, we decided to end the monotony by drinking while camping.  We borrowed a 20' camper and headed to Sibley State Park to enjoy some nature for a couple days. After two days and two nights of debauchery that may or may not have included the ritualistic burning of a Ouija Board, streaking, a fifteen foot tall bonfire, what I'm sure sounded like a death metal concert, a fist fight in the public showers, and the forced removal of a few parking posts with the help of an old Ford 4x4 in order to make room for a larger bonfire, a park ranger rolled up on Sunday morning and told me that I (because the whole thing was registered to me) had been forever blacklisted from the park. It was suggested that I leave before they forcibly removed me and mine from the park. We left, never to return.

Everything's Legal in Mexico – That's the American Way

In '96 a friend and I decided on a whim to take a trip to Arizona. We spent a week in Tucson and a fair amount of that time across the border in Nogales. Now, to be honest, I don't recall exactly what transpired, but what I do know is that we were kicked out of a bar. Twice. In Mexico. Wrap your head around that for a minute - Two white boys with pockets full of foldin' money behaving so badly that a dive in a shitty Mexican border town threw them out. Twice. Because we went back the next day.

Everyone should be 20 and in Mexico at least once.


 Screw Disney, this is the most magical place on Earth.


White Water

My sister decided to move to Idaho when she was about 19. A friend and I loaded her up and helped her move. After dropping her off, we decided to swing though Oregon on the way home to Minnesota, like you do. I had some extended family out there so it wasn't just a sight-seeing trip. When we arrived, a plan was put into motion to turn the night into more than just a quiet evening of catching up. What started as a trip into the mountain to do some four-wheeling quickly deteriorated into shotguns being used to gather firewood, a flaming, severed deer head on a stick as a torch, and a mid-eighties Toyota truck being lifted back on its tires after falling over like a fainting goat.

The highlight of the evening was when we took our considerable supplies and broke into a YMCA at 2AM. Why there was a set of kayaks there will always be something of a mystery, but it wasn't long before I rode one off the high-dive like a goddamn hero. When I get a neck ache in the middle of the night these days, I sometimes wonder if the fifteen foot drop in a plastic canoe had anything to do with it.


There are plenty of other stories, some that I'm not sure I can't still be prosecuted for and some that only come to me when they're triggered, kind of like a 'Nam flashback.

  • I once yelled at a topless woman who was sitting on her boyfriend's shoulders to get out of my way because she was blocking my view of Chris Robinson during a Black Crowes concert. I remember thinking I should throw my beer at her. I don't remember if I did. I probably did.
  • "Breaking in" is a strong term, so I'm not going to use it again. I picked up the bad habit of smoking after finding a way into a closed country club in the midle of the night and helping myself to their impressive collection of top-shelf liquor. One of my co-conspirators was rooting around in the kitchen for some grub and came back with a pack of the cook's Camels.
  • I once set my best friend on fire. Accidentally. And I don't mean burning the fuzz off his new socks - he was doing a pretty solid Ghost Rider impression. I don't feel bad about it though, since he had knocked me out cold with a blow to the head from a 10lb wooden block on a rope just a few months earlier. He had it coming. 
  • I flirted my way into a great SubWay scam. It was surprisingly easy to get the sorority girl to hand over an entire roll of stamps and a stack of SubClub cards. I didn't pay for a sandwich for a year.
  • Then there's the story of my bookend, which I will never commit to public record.


 I'd like to invoke my Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination


Yes, some of my proudest accomplishments were fueled by booze. Yes, I should have been arrested a dozen times over. No, I don't want my girls anywhere near a person like I was.

But, man, I've had some fun.


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The New Waitresses

Posted on January 3, 2014 at 4:55 PM Comments comments ()

There's a rule of thumb out there that says you can tell a lot about a person based on how they treat wait staff. This theory is so prevalent, in fact, that just about everyone has heard it used as a measure of determining the potential shag-factor of a date. While this theory definitely has merits, a better way of judging a person's humanity is probably how they treat customer service staff that they never see. After all, only a total sociopath is horrible to a stranger in person, but it's surprisingly easy to be shitty to an anonymous voice on the phone.

I've been making my money with words for about 4 years now, but a few months ago I got a bad case of cabin fever. Even though I'd worked in a retail environment a long time ago, I decided that I needed to get out and work with actual people for a while. A schedule, coworkers, and a boss would do me a world of good, I figured. I liked the freedom of being my own boss and being able to earn in a living entirely in my pajamas if I wanted, but I could spot a burnout coming and realized that I needed to do something different for a while. I wasn't looking for a career, just a break from the norm so I could fall back in love with writing. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all. So, I took the first job that came along at a place where ringing phones and grumpy customers are just another day. To help you get the best results, here's what I've learned so far:

They Already Know You're Pissed

You don't need to start out the conversation with a detailed explanation of just how angry you are. The workers just assume that there's going to be a snarling rage-monster on the other end of the line every time they answer the phone. Instead, how about you get to the point and tell them WHY you're mad? It's also a good idea to keep in mind that the person you're talking to had nothing to do with causing the problem, they're just the clean-up crew. Do you yell at the firemen when an electrical short burns your trailer down? Same thing.


 Another pleasant customer who isn't going to ruin someone else's day


Speaking of attitudes, having a sense of humor about it is a lot more likely to get you good results. Here are the people who get remembered by customer service reps and discussed later with coworkers – 1. Hateful assholes. 2. People who make them smile. Guess which ones get the best service.

They Have More Power Than They Let On

Reps know exactly what they are encouraged to do, what they absolutely cannot do, and what they can get away with once in a while. Here's the thing though, like any good poker player, they aren't going to tell you that. If you act like a dick, they're gonna do as little as possible and try to get the hell rid of you as fast as possible, but, if you're nice, they can make it rain accommodations. Now, not all companies give their reps the same amount of leeway, but I can guarantee that they all have a few tricks up their sleeves that you don't know about.

If All Else Fails, Act Like A Southern Belle

There is no creature on this Earth who can be furious and sweet at the same time quite like a Southern Belle. People in the Midwest are incredibly passive-aggressive, women from the Northeast have voices that make horny cats sound like the Vienna Boys Choir, guys who think of themselves as tough drop effenheimers like they're Nazis bombing London in 1941, and people from the West are, well, kind of a mixed bag, but Southern ladies are a little slice of heaven no matter how mad they are. "Now darlin', I am mad as a hornet. I know it weren't yer fault, bless yer heart, but we are gonna get this dickens figured out." Actually, a well-placed "darlin'" really goes along way.  And it's not just me. While good manners and a Southern accent hit me where I live, I've heard plenty of people remark about what a joy that Southern lady they just talked to was.

In Conclusion

It's easy to understand why a person would be irritated when a telemarketer or bill collector called them during dinner time, but if you're calling a company because of a problem you need sorted out, it's not a good idea to make the person in charge of fixing your problem hate you. If you were hitchhiking after car trouble, would the first thing you did after getting picked up be to punch the driver in the face? Next time you want to impress someone, forget treating waiters and waitresses like human beings – they get tips. Instead, be nice to a phone a rep. You'll get laid for sure.*

*Guarantee not legally binding except in Narnia, Oz, Middle Earth, Rebel held planets of the Empire, Non-Federation systems, communities directly controlled by The Ministry of Magic, and Pecos Texas.

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My English Is Long And Strong

Posted on September 19, 2013 at 1:20 AM Comments comments ()

I'm a pretty smart guy. Maybe not "Doogie Howser" smart, but who is? I'm a writer – it's how I pay my bills. I'm no Stephen King, but even Stephen King isn't Stephen King all the time. (Pennywise is a giant spider!?! Really?) Being smart enough to avoid poking myself in the brain with a Q-Tip after a shower and the fact that I use words as key part of my livelihood should mean that I'm always able to communicate clearly and effectively. But, NOOO….

The problem is that I say and write things to other people in the very same way that I do to myself. I know what I mean when I tell myself something, but, because everyone else refuses to live in my mind with me, there is an occasional bit of confusion. This isn't so much a huge problem as it is a source of never-ending awkwardness for me.

Take, for instance, the time I was expecting some eBay goodies, but wasn't gonna be around to greet the delivery man. I didn't want my stuff sitting on the front step for any old savage to just wander off with, so, I left a helpful note. It wasn't until later that I realized it could be interpreted as, well, something else.


 I forgot to write "Gently,"


Then there was the time I was setting up a meeting with someone from Craigslist to buy a used smartphone. We agreed to meet in the parking lot of a Perkin's. She texted to tell me that she was going to be in a silver Chrysler Le Baron convertible so that I'd be able to spot her. I replied that I would be in a red Taurus with a bra on. She responded with, "Ummmm…. OK, I guess."

 What she was expecting


 What I meant


Lest you think that inadvertent innuendo is a thing of the past for me, here's a conversation with a nice gal that happened just a few days ago.



Yes, I'm a writer whose communication skills are just a notch above a shit-slinging monkey that's taking sign language lessons.

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When In Doubt, Ask A Britney

Posted on April 17, 2013 at 6:45 PM Comments comments ()

I swung into a gas station recently to pick up the kind of treat that you have to be old enough to vote in order to purchase. It's a relatively simple task, one that's by no means unique or that requires the cashier to even make eye-contact with you.

The nice lady said, "I need to see your I.D., Hun." Dutifully, I handed it over.

I've seen people get all kinds of pissy about being carded, but it's never been the kind of thing that bothered me. Except when the junior with bad skin refused to sell me a ticket to a midnight showing of 'Showgirls' until I handed over my license back in '96. Of course, I was about to watch a terrible movie in the middle of the night in a theater that used to be someone's house just because I wanted to see Jesse from Saved by the Bells' boobs, so I wasn't in any position to feign righteous indignation.


 Oscar, Schmascar

She bent it, looked at it from a few different angles, scanned in through the credit card thingy on her register, and handed it back. "You've got one of those faces, you look young." She smiled at me, I smiled back. "You're a baby-face," she added.

I wasn't sure if she was teasing me so I just laughed and said, "If that’s a compliment, I'll take it."

Now, I don't get embarrassed easily and this was nowhere near the outskirts of my comfort zone. But when she called for back-up, things got awkward. Not for me, mind you, but there was a definite weirdness.

She looked past me and said, "Hey Britney, doesn't he look like a baby-face?" She turned back to me and continued, "Turn around, honey, so she can see your face."

As a rule I like to stay open to new adventures and, it's been my experience, some of the best stories occur when you least expect them. Like, for example, the time a friend and I went to the theater to watch the 'Brady Bunch' movie (it occurs to me now that I watch a lot of really bad films). After the flick, which was a late show, we went to McDonald's for a late night snack because that was before my body lost the ability to efficiently process fast food. We noticed an older fella in a trench coat pacing back and forth through the restaurant, but figured he was just a harmless old loon. I went to the bathroom quick while my friend took our food to a hopefully-clean-enough-to-eat-off-of table. The old guy noticed me heading for the men's room and quickly fell in line behind me. It was odd, but, like I said, I have a pretty high tolerance for that sort of thing. As soon as I walked into the room, I knew there was a doing's afoot. There were at least 50 little green Army men and a dozen random G.I. Joes lined up on the sink and on every flat surface of the urinal. He gave me a glare like we were gonna have trouble so, thinking quickly, I said, "Permission to pee, Sir?" He looked me over slowly, nodded, said, "Granted," then turned to the commode and said, "At ease, men." And that's how my diplomatic skills prevented a border war in a McBathroom.


I turned around and saw a cute, but forgettable, blonde who couldn't have been a day over nineteen. She was squatting, refilling the chip rack, and looking like she wished she was wearing Doritos camo. This girl was honestly at a loss for words. I don't know anything about her, but I'm going to take a leap and say that, between "Likes" and gum-smackin' "Y'knows," she's probably rarely wordless.

I turned back to the first cashier and she said, "How old are you honey?"

"I'll be 37."

"Bullshit. Britney, would you guess he was 37?"

For the record, when you get asked a question like this and find yourself in the spotlight, the correct response is to answer in the extreme. She should have said, "Oh, goodness no. I think we might have had a class together, as a matter of fact." It's just like when racist old men complain about that dirty Kenyan Obama at the ol' fishin' hole. I always respond by saying something like, "Damn straight, he's fuckin' awful. He keeps it up and he's likely to find loyal patriots like yourself rising up and giving him a good old fashioned blanket party, just like the Constitution demands." They get an answer they think they like, but they can never be quite sure whether I'm serious or not.

I turned back to Britney, who was now bright red. I'm sure anyone who remembers dial-up might as well be a hundred as far as she's concerned. Incidentally, was anyone named "Britney" before 1990?
It's the kind of dilemma that only exists in the minds of overly-earnest young people who haven't learned to laugh at themselves: If she said that I didn't look young enough to card, my feelings would be hurt, if she said I did, that would clearly mean that she wanted me to put a baby in her. She had no way out, so she kept quiet. She stuttered something and stared at a bag of Funyuns like it was Kim Kardashian's diary.

"Healthy livin'," I said as I pocketed my menthols. I may or may not have winked at her.

"You have a good one, Baby Face," the cashier called out as I left.

Once I climbed back into the car, I told my friend the whole story. She laughed and said, "So an old lady made you feel pretty and you got to embarrass a college girl?"

"Yup. Perfect day."


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How You Doin'?

Posted on April 6, 2013 at 2:40 PM Comments comments ()

I'm combining three smaller bits into one extra awesome blog this time around. Please to enjoy:

You'll Do

There's a scene in one of the recent episodes of 'Justified' where a hit man, posing as a cop, has the misfortune of running across Marshall Raylan Givens. He orders Raylan to get out of his way or face the business end of his pistola. When he draws on our good Marshall, Raylan puts him down with extreme prejudice. After thoroughly aerating the bad guy, Raylan looks at the body of a man who, only moments earlier, he had assumed was a fellow lawman and says, "Jesus, I hope I got that right."

A friend decided that she needed a few things from the mall the other day. So, with nothing else to do, I tagged along as she did a little retailin'. We stopped at the usual places and I tried my best not to look like a pervert while she searched for the perfect pair of underpants. When we got to a store directly across from the restrooms, I excused myself to release some coffee back into the wild. Upon coming out, I walked into the store and came up behind a pretty little brunette who was holding up a transparent white jacket/shirt/thing and said, "You wear that and no one will have any doubt what your boobs look like." I then realized that I had never bothered to look close enough at the cute girl I was talking to to make sure that she was the one I'd come in with. I thought, Jesus, I hope I got that right. My friend turned around and giggled and I let out a little sigh of relief knowing that I wouldn't be getting forcibly removed from the mall for sexually harassing a coed. Tiny victories.

The point of this story is to 1) draw a parallel (however thin) between myself and my favorite small screen cowboy and B) to demonstrate just how bad I am at paying attention even when it's in my best interest to do so.


Ding Dong Duck

I learned this week that ducks are one of nature's least romantic animals. Males have counterclockwise spiraling penises – a corkscrew if you will, while females have clockwise spiraling vaginas because they just don't want any of that nonsense. Oh, and the males get their rocks off in the most rapey way possible (although the scientific phrase is "forced copulations.")

And yet, despite this genital arms race, you can't walk through the local riverside parks during the summer without having to constantly dodge the fluffy little duck babies and their impressive pooping abilities. I guess the ladies of duckdom need to re-evaluate their anti-shag measures.

I bring up sexually predatory Anatidae Anseriformes because Faux News (and their merry band of dumbfucks) threw a stink after learning that the government had spent just shy of $385,000 on a duck dong study by Yale University. I could mention that even the most obscure scientific knowledge often has real world benefits later on or argue that, if we're gonna keep letting churches run tax-free, we should at least spend just as much money as they would pay in order to advance our understanding of the world around us and combat their Iron Age mythology, but I'll just post a link to a clip about that foreign exchange student who was named after a duck's dork instead.

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Purse Burritos

Facebook is not getting any better at putting ads in my newsfeed that are actually relevant to me. They are, however, occasionally hilarious. Like this one:



I often turn to the women in my life when I need pain reliever or chapstick or a Kleenex or tweezers because I just expect them to be able to pull whatever I happen to want out of their purses. In fact, a part of me believes that the scene in 'Mary Poppins' when Mary pulls furniture out of her carpet bag is a documentary. If I said I was hungry and one of these ladies pulled a burrito out, however, I don't think our relationship would survive. In fact, one look at this ad was all it took for me to make the decision to NEVER trust any woman with a McWrap (do they know it sounds exactly like 'McCrap') in her handbag. Fajitas are a different matter entirely.

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The Spaghetti Method

Posted on January 18, 2013 at 10:10 PM Comments comments ()

As a kid, I thought that when you teased someone you were "making front of them" instead of "making fun of them." It made sense since you were teasing them to their face instead of laughing at them behind their back.

I also thought that "for all intents and purposes" was actually "for all intensive purposes." This, too, made perfect sense, but only of your purposes were really demanding.

I think Germans would like me. I don't have any good reason for believing this and I don't have any great love for Germans or Germany myself. I don't hate them either. Here's what I know about Germany firsthand: my wife owned two VW Beetles that were surprisingly unreliable, I really like the song '99 Luftballoons,' and "No" comes after eight when you're counting.

I really, REALLY, want to believe in Hell, just so there's a place where web developers who put any kind of media that autoplays on their sites can go and finally pay for their sins. Also, screw you and your click-through page view monetization, it's the Internet, not a newspaper, I shouldn't have to go to a new page to see the rest of a story. You can fit the whole damn article on ONE PAGE!

Checks need to be banned. Seriously, why not just bring a sheep into the grocery store and try to barter for your goods?

"I before E except after C" screws me up every time I try to write the word "weird."

When I was 17, my uncle told me I wasn't a man until I was 18 and a legal adult. When I was 18, he said I wasn't a man until I was 21 and able to order a beer at a bar. At 21, he said I wasn't a man until I was married. After I got married, he said I wasn't a man until I had kids. I'm 36, I was married for over 14 years, and I have two daughters, but he and the rest of my relatives don't speak to me anymore because of religion. Being a man is not always what it's cracked up to be. (That was funnier in my head.)

I spent the better part of my childhood believing that Pat Benatar sang, "We're riding with our saddles on too tight" in 'Shadows of the Night.' Never mind that the correct lyrics are right there in the title. I blame it on terrible speakers.

My ex-wife is an over-talker, especially when she's excited. It makes attempting to get a word in kind of like trying to board a moving train, only more dangerous. She also tries to guess the next word I'm going to say, usually poorly. I still try to converse with her even though I'm not any better at communicating as I should be by now.

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Posted on January 14, 2013 at 8:25 PM Comments comments ()

Let's play a game.

They come in different shapes and sizes, but that doesn't have anything to do with whether they can get the job done. If you have one, it's hard to keep your hands off of it. Failing to use it safely can really ruin someone's day. In this country, we can safely assume that at least half of the population has one.

If you guessed penises (peni?), you have a filthy, filthy mind. And you're wrong.

The correct answer is guns. Of course, we could spend all day making jokes about how guns are just extensions of everyone's favorite pokey parts, but that's too easy.

Over the last few weeks, I've heard just about every reason not to try and rein in our national love affair with hand cannons, and I gotta say, none of them are terribly compelling. I've read, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people," so many times on my Facebook feed that my default response has gone from trying to debate the issue calmly and rationally to just posting this clip in the comments section:

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 Nothing says you're a godless Liberal quite like an anti-gun video featuring a transvestite Englishman


Now, to be clear, I don't want an outright ban on all firearms. For example, I have no problem with hunters who own rifles and shotguns because their version of art is to paint the forest floor with Bambi's insides. Also, I fuckin' hate geese, so go ahead and blast those honking rats right the hell out of the sky, thank you very much.

What I honestly don't understand, however, is this bizarre need to own military grade weapons under the guise of self-defense. I think a person who is genuinely concerned with putting a hole through an intruder could do it just as well with their hunting shotgun as they could with an Uzi.

One of the tactics floating around out there is to create a false equivalency between guns and things like cars, hammers, knives, forks, and, I shit you not, stairs. Here's the thing though, all of these things are tools designed with a much more benign purpose than whittling down gratuitous members of our species. A car, hammer, etc., is only dangerous when misused, either accidentally or deliberately. A gun is only dangerous when used properly. Look, we humans are good at inventing things that make jobs easier. I'm sure it was exhausting hacking enemies apart with a broad sword. The gun, like all tools, makes us better at a particular thing. It's easier to travel thanks to automobiles, we don't have to try and drive nails in with our foreheads anymore thanks to hammers, and guns make the average person a very effective and efficient killer – that's what they do.

Another argument involves taking the position that guns are so ingrained in our society that it would be impossible to ever get them off the streets and out of the hands of average 'Muricans. To these people I say, we put a man on the moon. It is subversively unpatriotic to say that this country can't do something just because it's hard. It will take a long time and it won't be easy, but we can reduce the number of guns out there and make our schools and neighborhoods safe.



There seems to be two different groups of gun nuts out there that are unbalanced enough to oppose common sense changes to the gun laws already on the books. The first group believes that owning an arsenal is their birthright because of an Amendment that isn't even the first one that the founders came up with. They fail to understand that the Constitution isn't Holy writ handed down by baby Jesus to George Washington so that we could guarantee that this land would become God's favorite vacation destination. It is designed to change with the times and it is time for a change.

The second group is the tinfoil hat crowd, these moonstruck lunatics are so afraid of an invading army, or even worse, our own government, that they see being armed as the only thing protecting us from dirty politicians, Mexicans, gays, atheists, Muslims, or whatever other bogeyman Fox News has concocted. Is our government a little on the shady side? Sure, but they are more inept than corrupt. I don't think big brother is anymore untrustworthy than every other powerful, well-financed, influential body on the planet. They are every bit as bad as the Catholic Church, BP, AIG, or Monsanto, to name a few. Besides, a whole platoon of Billy Bobs in jacked up 4X4's isn't going to stop a well trained professional military, no matter what Red Dawn would have you believe.



Once again, I am not strictly anti-gun, but I do have an issue with assault weapons being in the hands of the sweaty masses. I think guns should be harder to get, not easier. I think people convicted of any crime should be unable to purchase a gun. I think gun owners should be required to carry insurance on their weapons to cover any damage, hospital expenses, or loss of life resulting from the use of their gun by themselves or anyone else. I think conceal and carry laws should be repealed.

In 36 years, I have never been in a situation where a gun was needed. I don't allow guns in my home. When a probably inbred redneck pulled his gun out in the parking lot at work and started shooting at some ducks that were flying overhead, I told the HR lady that the next time I saw a gun at work, I was going home. No discussion, no asking for permission, and I didn't care if the gun was unloaded and perfectly safe, I would leave and not come back until it was gone.

We clearly have a problem and we need to address it, but there are a few things that we need to agree on first. 1. My kids, and every other innocent person out there, are exponentially more important than your "right" to own a handheld killing machine. 2. Just owning a gun means that you are more likely to be at least abstractedly connected to the loss of an innocent life than someone like me who doesn't own one. 3. You have to stop pretending that your gun is anything other than what it is: a machine for killing. You may use it for sporting purposes, but that doesn't change what it was made for. 4. Stop acting like gun owners are the most responsible citizens out there because they aren't. They're just as flaky, emotional, quick to anger, and unpredictable as the rest of us. I know people who have conceal/carry permits and I wouldn't trust most of them to light my BBQ pit, let alone walk around with a deadly weapon hidden in their pants.

I believe that a change is coming and I don't think it will necessarily be at the hands of this, or any other, administration. The kind of change we need will happen organically as guns become more taboo. But for now, go ahead and stroke it when you're feeling down. Just remember that firing prematurely is going to make a mess bigger than what a Kleenex or dirty sock can handle.


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Adventures In Retail

Posted on November 23, 2012 at 9:40 PM Comments comments ()

It's that time of year again, when neighborhoods twinkle with festive lights, families get together, and heathens wage a non-existent war on a holiday that Christians barely understand. While other people are practicing their close combat techniques so that they can more efficiently body-check the old broad reaching for the last flat screen at the Black Friday sales, I'm reminded of the six months I spent barely getting by while working for the world's biggest retailer back in '94/'95.

My actual title at Wal-Mart was "stockman," but it was never made entirely clear what my duties were. I spent most of my time in the back putting together displays, gathering carts from the parking lot, refilling the pop machines out front, and flirting with the girls in Health & Beauty or the Shoe Dept. (the rest of the store was staffed by ugos). I like to think I was as loyal and faithful an employee as $2.25 an hour above minimum wage will buy, but I hated that job with the intensity of a thousand suns. As shitty as that job was, and it was pretty damn terrible, it was occasionally entertaining.





Petty Principles

Wal-Mart employees are supposed to park at the extreme edges of the lot so that the morbidly obese customers don't have to waddle so far before plopping into one of the store-provided Rascal scooters. It was colder than a witch's tit that winter though, and I didn't feel like walking, so I parked right in front of the doors just like a lot of my fellow "associates." Management decided to crack down on this bad habit and started putting $2 parking tickets under the wipers of offending vehicles. I laughed the first time I got one and actually said "YOINK" as I tore it from the windshield of my baby (a black '88 Mustang) and left it crumpled on the ground, but they got progressively more annoying as time went on. The fact that someone had the nerve to try and charge me 30% of my hourly wage for parking too close to the door became a matter of principle before too long. When I was finally confronted by one of the four assistant managers, I had racked up 28 unpaid "tickets."

"The money goes to charity," I was told.

"I make $6.50 an hour. I am a charity," I replied.

"It's store policy for associates to park at the edges of the lot," he said.

"That's not in the employee handbook," I countered. I had no idea if that was true because I never read the damn thing, but I was willing to gamble he hadn't either. "My policy is to call the police if my car keeps getting vandalized while I'm at work," I added.

"Will you just stop, please?" he asked.

"Probably not," I answered. And that was that, I didn't change my ways and the tickets stopped. $56 in unenforceable parking tickets are still out there with my name on them.


The Emergency VCR


Sometimes, when I was wrist-slashingly bored, I would wander the store and see if any of the mouth-breathers needed help finding socks or AA batteries. While on one of these walk-abouts I was taken by surprise when a war-cry rang out from behind me. A woman the size of a linebacker had a VCR cradled in her left arm as she used her right to clear the road ahead while bum rushing her way towards the fire doors at the corner of the store.


"STOP HER!!" The call came out from a winded department manager to me as the thief put more distance between herself and him while closing in on me. She and I made eye contact for a terrifying second before I politely stepped aside. Seconds later she crashed through the emergency exit and into a waiting GMC Jimmy.

Now, theft is not uncommon at Wal-Mart, but the brazen way that big broad had lifted her soon-to-be-outdated gadget was enough to make it the topic of discussion for a few days. I personally had seen probably hundreds of shoplifters while working there; I just never cared enough to stop them. When the VCR bandit was brought up in the break room the next day, I remarked how funny it was. Almost on douchey cue, one of the assistant managers asked if I really thought it was funny that someone would steal from our store.


"Maybe not funny ha-ha, you know, more funny strange…" I said, backpedaling. But it was funny.


When he asked why I didn't do more to prevent the devastating loss, I said, "She clearly wanted that thing more than I wanted to stop her."


I'd like to think she took it back to her trailer house and had her baby-daddy wire it up to the VCR they already had so that they could use one to record the rented tapes they were watching in the other one.




The Wal-Mart I worked at was almost brand new at the time and was located right between the University of Idaho and Washington State University (hence the uncommonly high number of attractive coworkers I had). It was an especially snowy winter that year, not to mention ball-crackingly cold. I mentioned earlier that one of my tasks was to fetch carts from the lot, but you should know that this was before cart-fetchers had those cool motorized contraptions to do the hard work for them. I had to muscle dozens of those metal bastards at a time over a slushy and frozen lot and in through the hobbit doors on my own.

The snow piles left by the plow crews out in the lot were easily fifteen feet high at times and, for some reason, the frat boys got a kick out of tossing the shopping carts as high up there as they could. The carts would sink into the snow and get even more buried once the next storm and plows came through. The manager took me aside one day and told me to dig the carts out of the mini mountain range outside. I spent half a day out there digging like a dog on all fours because he wouldn't let me take a proper shovel off the shelf to get the job done. After freeing three of the probably thirty buried carts I told him to live with it 'til spring.

The manager was not happy with my work shirking, but, after three other stockmen told him what they thought of his plan, he gave up.


Impressive athleticism aside, is there a reason we, as a society, continue to tolerate fuckin' frat boys? All they do is listen to shitty music, make nice girls feel bad about themselves, drink awful beer, and wreck things.


"You can trust me, Baby. I'm a Women's Studies major."



The Reason For The Season

The telltale sound of Salvation Army bell ringers serves to remind you that poor people don't disappear just because an overweight elf who loves himself some good old fashioned breaking and entering is on his way. Still, even the most Christmasy person has to acknowledge that those bells get old in a hurry.


The bell ringers at this particular Wally World were stationed inside the foyer, which gave their bells a little extra echo. After receiving constant complaints from the cashiers about the noise, management made the decision to ban the bells. Instead, the ringers were given red and green laminated papers that said "RING RING" and "DING DONG," respectively, on them. It takes a special person to ring a bell all day in order to guilt strangers into giving up their pocket change, but flapping a Christmas-colored onomatopoeia at the savings-driven Grinches is a lot to ask of even these giving souls.


This is one of those rare occasions where I can feel for both parties. The ringers were just trying to use a time-honored way of getting the attention of the distracted masses so that less fortunate folks could have a brighter holiday, while the already frazzled cashiers were slowing going batshit from bell-torture. There are no winners in a situation like that, but holy fuckpops, were those bells irritating.


The Moral Is: There Is No Morale


This is only a few of the often bizarre, always soul-crushing, things that happened during my short stint at that particular circle of hell. I put in my two weeks notice before lunch one day after deciding that I was moving back to Minnesota. I never went back. The thing you have to understand about Wal-Mart employees is that the only thing they hate more than their jobs is the herds of simpletons they have to deal with on a daily basis. These are people who get paid peanuts to do an utterly unrewarding job and put up with holiday shoppers who are in such a rush to rack up credit card debt on shit they don't need for people they don't like that they can't muster even the bare minimum of human decency towards workers who know that they are almost instantly replaceable.


A cashier once told me that a customer who was angry about being charged the wrong price on an item actually opened a 1lb bag of Skittles and started throwing handfuls at her until security dragged the not-at-all-insane woman out of the store. When you're out there this holiday season, don't forget that the schmucks who work retail are people too. It wouldn't kill you smile and be nice.


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