Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Quid Pro Quo, Sarah

A couple weeks ago I was playing Warcraft with my friend Bri. When Bri was talking, I could hear her bird squawking in the background. The wierd thing was that the bird was also talking. It seemed like this bird could carry on a conversation with his owner, and that really intrigued me. Over the next week or so I couldn't stop thinking about it. I did some reading about birds on the internet and found out that every day budgies are 'champion talkers'. Suddenly found I couldn't stop thinking about budgies. Early Friday morning I decided I should get one.

I couldn't wait to go to every pet store in town and pick out the perfect budgie. I called my mom and made plans to go bird shopping after work. Then I called my sister and made additional plans to go bird shopping. I was so excited I didn't know if I was going to go with both of them at the same time, or just do it all twice. As it turned out I was so excited I couldn't even wait until I was done work. At lunch time I went to the pet store nearby instead of eating lunch.

The budgies were not exactly what I had built them up in my mind to be. They just sat there squeaking. They were not even moving. Certainly none of them were talking to me. It was strange, but everything I had been feeling all week seemed to collapse into nothing when my mental image met reality. I was about to leave when this weird gray bird with yellow feathers on his head started making eyes at me. He came right over to the front corner of his cage and was looking right at me. He wasn't at all like those boring budgies. This guy seemed inquisitive, he seemed interested in what I was doing. I found myself spending the rest of my lunch break staring at him. Before I left I checked the label and saw that he was a cockatiel. I realized that a smart, inquisitive cockatiel was probably way better than even the most talkative boring old budgie.

I decided that before I did anything about buying a bird I had better check my rental agreement. I was pretty sure it was going to say something like maybe no dogs or cats, but I was also sure that there must be different rules regarding birds. I was wrong. There it was. Point number 6. It was the only one in bold font: no animals of any kind are allowed on the premises. When I read that, it really bummed me out.

I moped around all that evening and the next day. On Sunday I went to meet Megan and Jenn for lunch at a nearby restaurant. It was nice out, and I decided to walk. Along the way was that pet store where I met the grey cockatiel. I knew I wasn't allowed to buy a bird, and I knew didn't have much time, but I really wanted to see him. When he saw me he came right up to check me out and it felt like we were connecting. My heart was melting.

I left the pet store and from the middle of the parking lot I called my land lady. I knew I should wait until Monday because she hates Sunday phone calls, but I sometimes often lack patience. I asked her point blank if I could have a bird. She paused and said, "... yeah, you can have a bird. Can you come over and fix my computer?"

My spirits were high again, knowing I could buy a bird but I wasn't sure that I should. These birds live up to 20 years. I didn't know if I wanted that responsibility. After lunch Megan and Jenn and I went to see the cockatiel, and Jenn simply told me I should get him and give him a good home. That was all the nudge I needed. That afternoon I brought home my new baby.

Chino suggested that I name him 'Baby' and I decided that was a good name. So far he is great. I love him a lot. The only bad thing about getting him is that now I have to fix my land lady's computer.
I hate fixing computers.

Good day, eh

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Life Lessons

I am mostly nice, but sometimes I write things that are mean...

I am one of those people that is scared to speak up without knowing what I am talking about. I think it goes back to elementary school when I once responded to a question and some of the other kids laughed at my answer. In their defense, they were 8. Also in their defense, I said pianos were percussion instruments, so I guess I deserved it, but it still affected me deeply. Even now decades later, to avoid people laughing at my responses (and the possible crying that followed the elementary school incident), I just don't speak unless I know what I am talking about. It isn't easy, but this means that in order to talk at all I have to try to remember as many tidbits of information from as many sources as possible.

I am 36 years old now, and as such I feel like I have at least a good enough knowledge base to talk about many subjects. I keep on learning though, mostly from my friends. A few years ago I was grateful to have them to rely on to inform me about a whole new world of female specific information. I am thankful ladies, it was much appreciated. Now I can talk about fingernails.

I also pick up information from other people I associate with. Sometimes I meet someone who just has an incredible amount of knowledge about many and varied things. Over the last year I spent a lot of time with one such person. He was my roommate, and all I can say is that his set of ideas was very foreign to my collected experiences. Some of what he had to say was surprising. Pretty much all of it blew my mind and made my head shake. Somehow my inner censor has gone on vacation and I suddenly feel that it is appropriate to share these ideas on the internet for everyone else to see.

Please, dear readers, I invite you to expand your worlds with the top fifteen ideas and notions of my former roommate:

  1. If you want to brush your teeth and watch TV at the same time then do so. Take off your shirt, fill a glass half full of water. Take that glass, your toothpaste, and toothbrush into the living room. Have a seat on the couch and start brushing. When your mouth is full of frothy toothpaste, just hork it out into that glass and continue watching TV.

  2. All human behaviour can be predicted by having someone answer a 15 question test, then assigning one of four colours to that person based on his or her answers.
    i) Believe this system to be the ultimate tool for interpersonal relations, assume it is completely infallible, and never bother to critically analyze the process. *
    ii) At random intervals remind your roommate that she is a green. If your roommate looks puzzled and says "agreeing to what?", just get agitated and loudly repeat "You're a green!" until she understands.

  3. It is ok to ignore your roommate when she says hello, as long as you feel she does not show enough variation in how she says hello.
    Tell her that repeatedly greeting you with the same old word 'hello' everyday is boring.
    ii) It is also ok to ignore your roommate if she says "Afta'noon Guv'na".

  4. Phone calls are the most important part of the day.
    If your story cannot achieve a four hour run time, then call multiple people and tell them all the same story until four hours has elapsed. Example. if you just got a job as a "Food Services Worker" at a hospital, and you want to tell people you just got a job at the hospital organizing diets for patients. Since that only takes 8 minutes to relate you must call thirty people.
    ii) 70 long distance phone calls per month is not out of the ordinary.
    iii) When talking on the phone, do so in the living room, but make sure your vibrating bed in the bedroom is constantly vibrating.
    iv) The louder you talk into the phone, the better people can hear you. Speak so loud that anyone can hear you in any room of the apartment. Immediately after getting off the phone, knock on your roommate's door and tell her to turn down her TV because you can hear the voices through the wall. Never realize that she just listened to four hours of your voice coming through the wall and didn't complain.

  5. Seminars solve every problem.
    i) It is not weird to spend lots of money in order to attend a seminar on debt management.
    If a seminar urges you to find a job that makes you happy, and also tells you that you should wait 90 days before making any major life decisions, then immediately quit your job and give them 90 days notice.

  6. If your roommate cleans up after you, do not try to be more tidy. Instead act insulted and belittled.
    If you put your phonebook on the couch every day, and every day your roommate moves it from the couch to the end table, then this is to be taken as an insult.
    ii) If your roommate moves your pen from the couch onto the end table, this is also an insult.
    iii) If you put your newly purchased percussion practice pads, drum sticks, the box from said pad and sticks, your music books, a pad of paper, and the bag in which you carried everything home on the couch, and your roommate moves them all to the end table, then get very angry over this incident and confront her.

  7. Anything to do with alcohol is awful.
    i) Anything to do with alcohol is to be considered a sign of 'classic alcoholic behaviour'. Mention this term often.
    ii) When it comes to alcohol, try to behave as if you are the president of the dry grad committee in grade 12. In other words, act like you (and everyone else) is still in highschool.
    iii) If necessary, inform your 36 year old roommate that drinking doesn't make her cool. Then say the following phrase softly and slowly to drive in the point, "Drinking is not cool."

  8. Sex is gross. So is kissing.
    i) Noises of disgust should always be made at the mention of sex or kissing, even if it is mentioned by characters on a TV show.
    ii) Disgust must also be displayed if there is no mention of sex or kissing, but you have made a leap of reasoning that a certain situation has lead to sex. Example: If your roommate's best friend comes over and spends the night, then the next morning you must look disgusted and ask your roommate which of you slept on the floor.

  9. If you are accustomed to putting your dirty dishes on the counter top, it is impossible to learn to put them in the dishwasher. If questioned about why you put dishes all over the counter just say "because I lived by myself for too long I can't change now." This answer works for lots of things, like learning not to put all your belongings on the couch. Or like wanting to keep a giant record player where it blocks an entire hallway.

  10. Never EVER take your clothes out of the dryer or washing machine because this is your roommate's duty.
    Once your roommate has taken your clothes out for you, please feel free to get mad at her for putting them on your bed. Tell her that beds have a lot of germs that you really don't want on your clean clothes.
    ii) Once your roommate has learned to put your clothes on the top of the dryer, make sure to immediately fill both washer and dryer with a new batch of clothes. Leave the clothes in there for her to take out and put with the other clothes already on top of the dryer. The ultimate goal is a mountain of clothes on top of that dryer.

  11. Plastic, paper and cardboard recycling must be a top priority. If your roommate throws out some cardboard, please make sure to retrieve it and put it in the huge 127 litre garbage bag in the laundry room. The recycling must occupy more space in the laundry room than do the washer and dryer.
    i) Despite being your personal cause, you must store your recycling in the apartment, and never ever take it to the recycling bin unless your roommate offers to drive you because the cardboard sitting in the small laundry room has taken on a musty, damp smell.
    ii) You must often tell your roommate how important recycling is, yet never even buy a cloth shopping bag. Always get the little white plastic shopping bags. Don't buy proper garbage bags that conveniently fit your kitchen garbage container. Insist on using the tiny plastic shopping bags instead, so that they don't go to waste.

  12. If a piece of furniture can fit into a room (or hallway), then placing it there is fine - even if there is no place left to walk through that area (or hallway). Example: a two foot wide, 5 foot long console record player clearly fits perfectly in the three foot wide, seven foot long hallway. The presence of such a console record player looks awesome to you and in no way looks congested, cramped, cluttered, out of place, or ugly.

  13. Old couches can be worth $1300 if you put $1300 worth of reupholstering and wood refinishing into them, therefore they should be heralded as valuable antiques even before a single dime has been spent.

  14. Anything older than the 1977 is an antique and must be kept in the apartment even if there is no room. Even if made of particle board covered in a faux-wood plastic veneer. Even if it says "Sears" on it. Even if it is a five foot long console record player and you do not own any records. Even if it is really really ugly and blocks the entire hallway.

  15. Sudden loud grunting and violent jerk spasms are fine as long as you say they are caused by a mild case of Tourette Syndrome coupled with a form of Restless Leg Syndrome (even if you only do them during commercial breaks on whatever TV show you are watching, or during pauses in conversations). Loud burps are also acceptable due to your inability to prevent them (I assume from the Tourette Syndrome again).

  16. All behaviour except yours is rude.
    It is your job to point out rude behaviour. It is never ever rude to tell someone that they are being rude. Tell them as often as possible. Include an exaggerated, exasperated sigh and an eye-roll when telling someone they are rude.

That is it, the top 15(+1) things I learned from my former roommate. I'd like to say I hope you learned something from him, but I am pretty sure you didn't. I'm even more sure that you just learned that I am a vindictive bitch for writing this. You are completely right. I have done no good whatsoever by posting this potentially hurtful article. ... Still, it was a rough year for me. I am still decompressing. Besides, this is my blog, and writing about things that upset me makes me feel better. Perhaps if we hadn't had two fights on his last day here, I wouldn't feel the need to write about his impact on my life.

  • BONUS MOVE-OUT SPECIAL #1: When cleaning it is not necessary to make things clean so long as the actions are carried out.
    i) When washing your bedroom walls, don't bother doing a good job. Just run some water over a dishrag from the drawer near the sink. Don't even consider using cleaner either, unless your roommate makes you use some.
    ii) When steam cleaning the carpet, if you run out of water then do not stop. Believe in your heart that the action of pushing the machine across the carpet is still good enough, even if the carpet doesn't get wet. If confronted by someone claiming the carpet isn't clean, then just say the carpet is just that dirty, that you pushed the thing around already and shrug it off as being done. Then put on your jacket and get ready to leave.

  • BONUS MOVE-OUT SPECIAL #2: If you have an item that you do not wish to take with you when you move, simply 'give' it to your roommate before leaving. If your roommate says "Warren, I don't want it." then say, "Throw it out then. It's yours. I don't care what you do with it." This logic is infallible to you, and to argue with it deserves an angry response. If your roommate absolutely insists that you are responsible for this item, then yell "FINE!" and storm off with it.

* This colours test is funny. Once you have identified your colour you look up the description in a book and it is shocking how much that description will sound like you. Just for fun I looked up the other colours too and holy shit they all sounded just like me! I am sorry but sometimes you are confident, sometimes you are funny, sometimes you are emotional, sometimes you are organized... any one person is all the colours of the rainbow. Those colour description paragraphs are just specific enough to be different from each other, yet general enough to allow us to see ourselves in each one. I wonder why people don't realize this.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Everyone's a Thief

I have been driving with the low fuel light on for a few days, so today after work I decided I should fill up before I strand myself somewhere. I drove to the 7-11 about two blocks away. I pulled up to the pump and saw a brand new professionally printed sign stuck to it. I've seen signs with similar messages on these pumps recently, but previous versions were always written in ballpoint pen on a piece of loose leaf and taped to the pump. The first sign I saw said 'Please pre-pay after 10'. I thought that made sense. I imagine there are people out there who take advantage of the fewer staff on and the dark of night and simply drive away without paying. A month later the sign changed to 'Please pre-pay between 7:00 pm and 7:00am'. Ok, I guess this one make sense too, for all I know there is only one staff member on between those hours. Today it just simply said 'Please Pre-pay'. I thought this was ridiculously restrictive.

I was actually ticked off when I read that sign, but when I thought about it a moment it seemed to work out to the same amount of time in total. The only difference is I have to pay before I fill up. It shouldn't be much of a change at all. Still, I was annoyed, so I walked inside and asked the clerk why we have to pre-pay 24/7 now. She looked around like she was about to tell me a secret, she lowered her voice and said "It's because of all the drive-offs..." she glanced behind her, then back at me, "... I have one or two a week." I guess that adds up over time, but I still felt that forcing everyone to pre-pay just means that 7-11 is treating everyone like a thief.

I went to use the bank machine and I grabbed a couple bottles of diet coke. I also picked up a container of raw veggies to have for supper. I headed back to the counter and my cashier friend had her back to me and was counting stuff. I waited and waited for her to turn around and ring in my stuff, but she was engrossed in her counting. I cleared my throat a couple times, but that didn't work. After a couple minutes I reluctantly began tapping my keys on the counter and she finally turned around. With a level of awareness like that I am surprised she doesn't have every car drive off on her.

She punched it all in and said it was $8.27, so I added that I also wanted to get $31.73 in gas. She asked what car was mine. I said "Pump 8".

I realized it wasn't what she asked, but I wanted to make sure she enabled Regular, and not Premium. She then asked "The red car?", so I said yes. "Or the blue car?"

"The red one." I confirmed. "Pump 8 though right?" I asked. She looked out the window for quite a few seconds and then meakly said yes. She looked really confused. I didn't think it was that hard to figure out. I should have paid attention to what she was looking at out there.

She bagged up my stuff and I walked out to my car. On the way I noticed a woman beginning to pump gas into the blue car, but to be honest I was looking at her bum, not what pump she had in her hand. I put my stuff in the car, then walked around to the passenger side. I took off the gas cap, then reached over to grab pump 8's nozzle and - you guessed it - it wasn't there. The woman with the bum was pumping the gas I paid for into her blue car.

You know that thing on gas pumps you have to flip up after pulling out the nozzle? I reached over and pulled it down and said "Whoa!". The pump immediately cut off and the woman using it gave me a look that said 'what the fuck are you doing?' Before she could say anything I said "I already pre-paid for this gas..." and I pointed at the sign.

She said "Yeah I saw the sign... I guess I just didn't think it meant this time of day."

She had already put $16 something of my gas into her tank, so she pulled a twenty out of her wallet and gave it to me. She filled up the rest and handed me the pump. I tried to pump the rest of my $31.73, only to discover the cashier had only authorized $31.00. I looked inside and saw a line at the counter. I decided it wasn't worth the hassle to get the seventy-three cents, so I left.

Luckily there is a gas station directly across the street from 7-11, so I got the rest of my gas there.