Some Linecutters Can be Real Turkeys

by admin on November 26, 2014

It was the evening before Thanksgiving break at my college, and everyone was rushing to get home because the dorms would be closed soon. My school required all freshmen to live on campus, but did not allow us to have cars due to limited parking. This meant that just about every freshman who did not live close by relied heavily on public transportation. More specifically, they would all be relying on the one bus that stopped in front of our student center every hour or so and went to the local metro area’s train station. In apparent acknowledgment of that fact, bus traffic to our school was doubled to accommodate (it stopped every 1/2 hour), but the line of people waiting to get on the bus was still massive by the early afternoon. It led all the way from the entrance of the student center, through the building, and out 100ft to the bus stop. There usually wasn’t a line to get on the bus, so there were plenty of people who ignored the line as they walked through the student center only to stare in horror once they got to the bus stop. They would then dejectedly turn around and head back to the start of the line. There were lots of heavy suitcases and backpacks, and all of us were looking forward to cramming into a standing-room only bus for a half hour ride only to wait at an overcrowded train station to board an even more overcrowded train. Tensions were high, but everyone was trying to keep the grumbling to a minimum since we were all in the same boat.

Then, it happened. I had finally made my way to the front of this line after waiting patiently for over an hour. The next bus was in sight, and everyone around me was bracing to finally get on it. A pair of girls suddenly steps in front of me. They were chatting absent-mindedly as they did so, as if they did not even notice me or the line of people behind them. Assuming they really did not notice, I said, “Excuse me, but there is a line of people here who have been waiting for a very long time. The line starts in front of the student center.” One of the girls completely ignores me, while the other blithely responds “I know. I’m being selfish. It’s a life-or-death situation.” Before I or any of the other astonished onlookers could respond, the girls had already climbed on to the bus. Some choice words were mumbled around me, but there was little we could do without holding up the bus so we all just shuffled in.

I can not fully express in text the apathy and entitlement in this girl’s voice and attitude. Suffice it to say that it was extremely obvious that there was no actual “life or death” involved – at least not more than anyone else who was waiting patiently on line. If there was any outward sign at all that this girl really was in a bad spot, I might have chalked it up to dire circumstances, but the girls were giggling and gossiping frivolously the whole way. I don’t know where this girl got off thinking that just admitting that she was “being selfish” let her off the hook for actually performing the selfish deed.    1025-11


Be Thankful Your Family Isn’t Like This

by admin on November 25, 2014

I grew up around my Mother’s very large, close, well-adjusted family. My Father was welcomed into this family and was estranged from his own. I had no idea of all the reasons why, thankfully he’d kept his children sheltered from them. The summer I was 13 I got my first experience with his relatives. My paternal grandfather died that summer, and his funeral was where I met them.

Some background:

I learned all of this as an adult from my Mother: Both sides of my father’s family were highly dysfunctional. His mother was so poor growing up that she and her 13 siblings only got one meal a day. When they’d get home from school, they got to have rice with sugar. But there were always ants all over the rice, so they’d spread it on a cookie sheet and bake it to get the ants off. Only then could they cook it. Their mother was a mentally ill prostitute and all the kids had different fathers (none of the children knew who their fathers were). My grandmother was very attractive and her siblings considered her sooooo lucky when she married a sailor (my grandfather) and became a military wife. She escaped from the grinding poverty. However, my grandfather was a violent alcoholic who beat her, and eventually, their three children. His entire family were Arkies—they’d come to California during the depression, from the Arkansas Ozarks. They were actually inbred (my great-grandparents were apparently cousins), pretty much illiterate, and quite violent. This is what my Father came from. No wonder he estranged himself!

My dad was the oldest, and he had two younger sisters. My Father’s earliest memory, according to my Mother, was of being in the car while his parents argued in the front seat. My grandfather stopped the car, dragged my grandmother out on the side of the road, and beat her until she bled. Then shoved her back in the passenger seat and kept on driving. When my father got old enough, he began to protect his mother and two sisters by from the abuse. By the time he was 15, he was big enough to fight with his father and hold his own.

My father was physically forced by his father to join the Navy after he graduated from high school. He was shipped off to sea and my Grandfather started to beat his wife and daughters again. One day my grandmother had finally had enough, she and the two girls got in her car (they were 16 and 18) and drove off, sobbing, through Sacramento. She ran a red light, and they were hit by a semi, killing all three of them instantly. My father was brought back to the states for this, where he had a mental breakdown and was consequently discharged. He had been very close to his mother and sisters, after spending an entire childhood protecting them. He blamed his father, and after several ugly incidents between them, he was shipped off to an aunt’s house in Bakersfield about six months after the accident.

My Mother then met my Father, because she was caring for an elderly family friend, and his aunt lived next door to said elderly family friend. She was invited for Thanksgiving dinner at his aunt’s house after making his acquaintance. My grandfather arrived to this shindig drunk, verbally abused all of his relatives, and then physically attacked his son. Consequently my Dad and his father had a huge knock-down-drag-out fight in front of all of them which culminated with them knocking over an entire table full of food, destroying the turkey and everything else. My Mother was absolutely speechless at this behavior, and walked out. My father cornered her later and apologized. He was fascinated with her because she’d shown no fear of my grandfather (my Mother, to this day, has balls of steel. She fears NOTHING).

There’s lots more, but that should give you a general introduction to my Father’s family, and why he distanced himself from them after marrying my Mother. She taught him how to have backbone, and with her support, he cut off contact with them, except for supervised visits with my grandfather. We were his only grandchildren, so he was allowed to see us, as long as rules were followed. 1)Grandpa couldn’t be drunk. 2) He wasn’t allowed to take us anywhere or be alone with us. and 3) my Father warned him if he ever laid a hand on any of us he wouldn’t be responsible for the fact that my Mother would not hesitate to shoot him. Apparently my Grandfather laughed at this until my Father showed him my Mother’s gun collection. She is an old, tough cowgirl and again, the woman is absolutely fearless. She was raised by men who took her grizzly bear hunting for fun—she wasn’t scared of some old, drunken, bullying sailor. Of course, I knew none of this growing up, we were sheltered from it. (End of background)

So anyway, the only one I had ever met was my grandfather, and he had always been on his best behavior around us. He died the summer I was 13; we had to go to Sacramento to hold his funeral and settle his affairs. Apparently my grandfather had bought a house for his widowed mother some years back; after she had passed away, one of his sisters (Aunt Susie) lived in the house. She was elderly and widowed and lived off social security, so he let her stay. At the funeral, Aunt Susie, whom I had never met, latched on to my arm when she discovered who I was, with this incredibly painful vise grip. You see, the house now belonged to my Father, and she was terrified he was going to sell it from under her and leave her homeless; this was apparently not out of character for the men in my Father’s family. She whined and cried to me the entire time and begged me to appeal to my father not to sell the house and leave her out on the street. My parents were super busy and it took a while for them to realize this woman was hurting me (I was quite timid at the time and didn’t say anything to them, trying to handle it on my own). After my father pried her off of me I had bruises all up and down my arm and bloody nail marks; my father had to promise Aunt Susie he wouldn’t abandon her and tell her to stop harassing me. She kept coming back and eventually I had to stick to my father’s side like glue to keep her at bay (I was quite scared of her by this time). He finally yelled at her and she huffed off and didn’t come to the reception.

At the grave site, my Grandfather was laid to rest next to his wife and daughters, who had died 16 years before. Several of my father’s cousins decided to have a loud conversation right in front of my Father about his mother and sisters, and how awful their deaths were, and how mutilated their remains were; that they knew this because my grandfather insisted—INSISTED!—on having an open casket funeral despite this. In other words, they were gossiping quite rudely and graphically about it, during a graveside service, and in front of my Father. My Mother glared daggers at them but kept her mouth shut.

After the funeral there was a reception at my Grandfather’s house. During this reception I went to the bathroom and discovered a dark stain on my underwear; I’d just had my first period. Oh joy. I told my Mother discreetly; she went to find me a pad and mentioned it to my father. My father’s cousin Ricky, who had been following him around all day and trying to get money out of him, overheard this, and proceeded to loudly announce it to every single relative at the reception. For the rest of the afternoon I had strange women coming up and asking me about it, while I just wanted to die of embarrassment. Ricky’s sister Roberta then started talking to me about how boys were evil, they were going to want to attack me now that I was a ‘woman’ so I’d better watch out, and that sex was bad and evil and such until my I ran for my Mother and she had to intervene and tell Roberta to shut her trap and stop scaring me.

Roberta’s two teenage sons, during all this, had gone out back bored, and decided it would be fun to harass the neighbor’s two German Shepherds by throwing rocks at them. When the neighbors got mad, they responded by yelling and screaming obscenities and threats back, until Ricky and my Father heard them and dragged them back in the house. The neighbors called the cops, who showed up at the reception and asked my Father to control the boys. By this time he had had enough, and he told Roberta to take her kids and go home. She tried to refuse and to this day, I remember her exact words: I want some of Uncle Al’s stuff and I’m not leaving until I go through the house and take what I want. My Father suddenly morphed into a man I’d never seen before; he began bellowing at her, calling her really bad things and telling her to get out of the house before he beat the holy living crap out of her. He made several threatening gestures and she and her boys retreated, fleeing the house.

Ricky tried to stand up for his sister, and was holding his own until he made the mistake of telling my Father he was acting like his Dad, at which point my Father lost all self control and put a fist in his face. Suddenly I and my siblings were shoved into a bedroom by my Mother, as she had witnessed these family brawls before and didn’t want us being collateral damage. We were in there for a good half hour before it finally quieted down and my Mother let us out. Everyone was gone and my Father was out back chain-smoking and trying to calm down.

The whole experience was quite frightening for me, I’d never been around people like that before. The entire family was that way! My Father refused to ever speak to any of them again, except for Aunt Susie. He arranged a place for her in an assisted living center before he sold the house she lived in; to her credit, she wrote him a nice thank you note, although she never apologized for hurting and scaring me at the funeral. When she died a few years later, that was it. He told my Mother as far as he was concerned they didn’t exist. I certainly didn’t blame him.

That was 25 years ago. Recently one of my father’s cousins tracked me down on Facebook. I tentatively communicated with her for a little bit. She talked a little about the family and one of the first things she did was inform me was that her father, my Dad’s uncle, had molested her and her sister, and began to tell me about it in great detail. I had to block her, it was so disturbing and she wouldn’t stop. To this day I cannot believe I actually share DNA with these people. 0609-11


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Poetic Public Transportation

by admin on November 24, 2014

I have written this ode about etiquette on public transport, inspired today by the man-boy who spent all train journey on his mobile phone debating with his mate the various merits of sending a picture of his winky (not the term he used!) to a woman he barely knew…

Perhaps you might like to feature it on the site? It’s written from a Londoner’s perspective, but the principles am sure apply the world over…

Kind regards,  Sarah

Commuting Instructions

If you – like me – commute each and every day,
Whether by bus, train, or tube (the subway),
Your faith in humanity may have now started to wane,
Let’s all follow the below to save on commuting pain…

First thing – don’t make us commuters any more later,
Stand on the RIGHT side of the escalator,
By which I mean “right hand” but also “correct”,
Please do not block the way by standing on the left!

If your travel card doesn’t work, don’t keep just trying,
Go see the station staff – you are causing a line!
And if you failed to top up, don’t blame it on them,
I’ve seen this type of staff abuse time and again…

Don’t travel in rush hour when in a large tourist group,
Packing out overfull carriages at just one fell swoop,
First thing in morning, don’t shriek as loud as you do,
Argentinians, Brazilians – I am looking at you…

And please do not dawdle – it’s not on to walk slow,
City-dwellers have places we all need to go,
So get off your phone please and pick up the pace,
We are all rats here, so just get into the race!!

When more passengers get on, please just give a smile,
And make room by moving further on down the aisle,
And by the same token, if the train’s full – it’s full!
Don’t delay us all by trying the doors open to pull…

And here another point I can’t emphasise more,
For God’s sake do NOT lean against the tube doors!
You’ll annoy the driver and the passengers too,
Because when you do this, the train cannot move!!!!

And yet another thing that I can’t stress enough,
If a pregnant lady gets on – well, for you that’s just tough,
Just give up your seat – it’s the right thing to do!
The same goes for the old and the handicapped too…

Teenagers especially – please listen when I say,
Great you’ve got those new ‘Beat’ headphones by Dr Dre,
But the rest of us don’t all share your musical taste,
Don’t want to hear your bass blaring all over the place!

And while on the subject of unwarranted noise,
Nobody else much likes the sound of your voice,
A very quick phone call’s permitted – yes, that is alright,
But no-one cares what you’re eating for dinner tonight…

If you’ve brought kids on the tube, then I do sympathise,
Well, at least I do until one of them cries,
And you just do nothing except chat to your mate,
Unaware that their screaming is now starting to grate…

Don’t eat smelly food and definitely do NOT speak,
To strangers with whom you uninvited eye contact seek,
Best use deodorant when your armpits are in someone’s face,
Remember that we are in “public” and not “private “space!

Now, I know public transport’s not just mine to dictate,
But if we could all do just that, it would be really great,
Can’t prevent signals failures, overcrowding, delays,
But we’d all at least have a more bearable time on the way…



Gym Etiquette When The Rugrats Are There

by admin on November 20, 2014

I’d like some advice here.

I started going to a local gym regularly about 6 months ago. I like the gym except for one thing: kids uncontrollably running around. The gym has a daycare from 8a – 6p so after it closes, it’s a zoo around there. I’ve been on the rowing machine and had a child run by inches away from me. I thought I was going to hit him. When I go to the bouldering room to go climbing, there are kids running around in there. It’s a small, converted racquetball court where people can climb and fall onto thick mats if necessary. When kids are running around, it’s very unsafe. Sometimes older kids will use it as a hangout space. I’ve alerted gym staff and they take care of it once you tell them but as soon as they walk away, it’s crazy again. The response I get is that there isn’t enough staff to watch everything.

One particular time I went into the bouldering room and said “excuse me” as I walked through the door since people were loitering around the door and this woman yelled, “I will as soon as I check on my kid! She fell! How rude!” First, her kid (about 15 years old) probably fell because she wasn’t being careful and wasn’t wearing appropriate shoes. Second, there was no way I could have seen that she was down through a thick, brick wall. She continued to talk to her kid saying, “I’m sorry but that rude woman came in.” As I put on my shoes, she looks at me and says, “Oh, you have special shoes.” I said, “Yes, climbing shoes” and pointed to the sign listing the rules of the room, “They’re required.” She rolled her eyes, collected her kid, and walked out.

What’s my role here? Should I be telling these kids to be careful and not run around the equipment? Should I just keep alerting gym staff, which is getting to be every visit? I don’t want to get yelled at by some parent for chiding someone’s kid but this is almost ridiculous. I feel like I’m working out in a daycare. I have kids myself and I would not allow them to run amok in a gym around dangerous equipment. 1024-14


I worked at a health club in my early 20’s and have been a member of a few more over then years.  The type of accidents that can occur on weight equipment can be somewhat gruesome (crushed fingers, dislocations) so children under 13 were never allowed past the lobby doors into those areas.   Swim times for youth were strictly regulated and to use a racquet ball court required reserving it.  Clearly staff cannot be everywhere but the places I’ve gone to, the members are vigilant to enforce the rules.    You appear to belong to a “club” that allows teenagers to use all the equipment areas (a YMCA perhaps?) and if that bothers you, you’ll need to vote with your feet and go elsewhere because you are swimming against the current trying to change that gym culture.


The Never Ending Funeral Procession

November 18, 2014

I know it is considered rude to cut into a funeral procession, but isn’t it also rude for members of a funeral procession to refuse to allow a car to pass through? I live in a busy suburban area near a cluster of three large cemeteries of different faiths. We see funeral processions fairly often […]

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“It’s The Thought That Counts”

November 17, 2014

I was having a nice chat with a friend on the phone the other day. We don’t know each other very well, but see each other at parties maybe twice a year, and I really like her. Out of nowhere she said, “Do you have a teapot in the shape of a bird?” (she knows […]

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