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Righteous Indignation January 30, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Loathin'.
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So, as I’m sure everyone is aware, my part of the country was hit with a massive ice storm this week.  We’ve got it better than most right now–at least we have electricity–but John now has a vicious 24-hour stomach virus that’s making him wish he was dead.  Neither one of us slept a wink, and once he finally nodded off I headed to Walmart to buy out their cleaning products aisle.

I’m sure anyone who watches me shop seriously considers purchasing a shotgun in the Outdoor section and putting me out of my misery right then and there.  John and I don’t make a whole lot of money.  We’re blessed in that we make more than some, but we’re able to live comfortably because of our spending habits.  Each item I pick up I make sure we really need, and my trips take hours because I not only compare prices, but I compare quality as well.  Anyway, we’re able to save a lot of money by cutting out “unnecessary” foods, i.e. snacks that provide no nutritional value whatsoever.  Sure, they taste good, and we’d love to have them…but for us, they’re a luxury.  Again, not trying to seem like we’re the Mr. and Mrs. version of Oliver Twist, but we have to make sacrifices in order to remain financially secure, and some of those involve groceries. 

Anyway, I pull into the check out lane, and begin to patiently wait my turn.  This trip I’ve passed over a few things I know we could use at the house, electing to stretch what we have until the next paycheck.  After all, medicine and household products are expensive!  As I begin unloading my cart, I have to push the items of the patron in front of me a little further up the conveyor belt to make room for my Pine-Sol and bleach.  I can’t help but overhearing a conversation between the lady in front of me and the Walmart associate, so I look up.  

Associate:  Ma’am, I can’t accept this voucher. (He hands the woman back her “food stamp,” pointing to a specific area.)  See, this one expired a week ago.  

The woman shoves the paper back into her (nice) purse.  At this point I realize that she’s about 7 months pregnant, and I can’t help but look for a wedding ring.  I don’t see one–and whether it be my religious leanings or personal value system–I feel sorry for her.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to be pregnant without someone chained to your side, obligated by vow and federal government tax information to at least sort of help you raise a kid.  I know, I know, sometimes it’s best to have the dad out of the picture, like if he’s abusive, an alcoholic, etc.  I can’t help it…my initial reaction is always pity.

It’s then that I notice that her handbag is more than just nice–it’s designer.  She’s wearing what look to be brand new Nike shoes, complete with a pink swoosh.  She’s wearing stylish glasses, and the highlights in her hair seem to be professionally done.  I begin to look at her groceries; perhaps, I reason, her clothes are a windfall trip to Goodwill, or a donation from a kind stranger.  

Despite her government provided WIC food stamps, she’s buying all sorts of pricey items.  She has special protein shakes, at least 4 boxes of ding dongs and Hostess cakes, bags of potato chips, Air Wick refills, and organic products.  There isn’t much in her stack that isn’t name brand.  I stare at her again; she’s noticed by now, and does her best to avoid eye contact.  I’m sure she thinks I’m crazy, maybe I am, but righteous indignation begins to boil up inside of me. 

Look, there’s no way for me to know this lady’s situation.  I get that.  She could have been laid off because of the economy.  Maybe she has kids at home and is recently divorced.  Who knows?  It just makes me mad to see such flagrant spending when it’s obvious she doesn’t–or at least, shouldn’t–have the means.  I’m not against government assistance.  I know that there are people out there that need it, and the welfare system has its place in society.  I just hate that it can be exploited.  I’m not accusing this woman one way or the other, but it’s beyond arguable that there are people exploiting the system.  They keep families who really do need the help from getting enough assistance.  

I don’t think anyone would argue that the welfare system needs to be reformed.  At least make fiscal education classes and family planning seminars mandatory.  Help those who are stuck in poverty to learn how to work their way out of it instead of handing them band-aids to stick over the festering wound.  It might make it look better and it’s a temporary solution, but eventually the leg’s going to rot off.  

I’m probably just upset about this because I’ve only had 4 hours of sleep.  Maybe I’ll look back at this post tomorrow and be embarrassed by what an ass I’ve been.  Maybe…but right now I’m just plain pissed.

I’m Lovin’: Jonathan Adler Love/Hate Mugs January 29, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Lovin'.
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I’ve decided to let everyone in on a little secret:  I love sharing my opinions.  About everything.  Therefore, I’m going to occasionally post about things I’m currently in love with.  Right now, it’s this love/hate mug from Jonathan Adler.  I’d love to add a picture straight into the post for those of you who are too lazy to click the link, but unfortunately, the images aren’t downloadable.  

Anyway, I love the fact that each of these mugs are hand-thrown by the artist.  The design of the mug itself is vintage chic, and I adore anything with letters on it.  The “love” and “hate” labels add a bit of classic whimsy.  How handy would these be for passive-aggressive advertising account managers or introverted publishing house submissions editors?  Instead of verbally crushing someone’s hopes and dreams, you can do it from a distance.  Just pick your drink up with your left or right hand, then conspicuously sip your home brew without making eye contact.  

I recommend you look through Adler’s Web site when you have the time.  He has a lot of nifty pieces in his collection.  They’re pretty steep, but at least they can provide some modern design inspiration (you can probably find some similar pieces at Ikea or Target).

P.S:  The mugs also come in an anger/joy option.  You know, if you’re into that.

Subtly Terrifying January 27, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Bus Songs.
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I rode the bus home on Friday; as I surveyed the bus looking for my seat, I realized that the bus was primed for crazy-talk.  There were groups of oddballs congregated at different spots.  I happened to catch a whiff of a politically geared conversation up towards the front.  Sounded like it could turn violent at any moment, so I plopped myself down within hearing range, but far enough away to avoid any flying debris.

The couple participating in the discussion were probably in their 50s.  I couldn’t see much of the gentleman; he was staring pretty intently at his old school clamshell cell phone, texting slower than anyone I’ve ever seen in my whole life.  He had a large red beard–which I assumed would be fairly unkempt if I was looking at him face to face–and a baseball cap.  His companion was in her 50s.  She was of average build and height, and her greying hair was cut in a bob.  Her mustachioed, oval face was slightly oddly shaped, probably because she seemed to be missing many of her top teeth.

About 15 minutes into the trip, as I’d hoped ,the conversation exploded.  All of a sudden, the woman begins to raise her voice. 

Lady:  “That’s irrational.  That is just totally and completely irrational!” 

She’s using big words, which is a plus.  She’s also yelling at the top of her lungs, which negates any SAT points she might have earned. 

Lady:  (continues)  “Obama did not take a pay cut because he’s black!  It has nothing to do with the color of his skin!  Hell, lots of people voted for him, too.  My whole family voted for him; we didn’t care that he was black.  He’s not getting paid less because he’s black, for God’s sake!”

It’s important to pause for a second and point out that this woman was arguing on the premise that Obama did, in fact, take a cut to his salary.  Now, to the best of my research, it’s my understanding that Obama put a freeze on raises for his White House aids.  The articles I’ve read haven’t said anything about the freeze or a deduction being applied to his own paycheck.  Not criticizing–heck, if I’d just been sworn in as the President of the United States, I wouldn’t assign myself a pay reduction, either.  Oh, but she couldn’t just leave it there.  

Lady:  “Besides, he’ll be dead in six months anyway.”  

And with that, she turns around, folds her arms, and starts pouting.  I, on the other hand, am sitting in my seat, staring, unabashedly slack-jawed.  She didn’t qualify that with “I hope that’s not true” or “God forbid.”  Her matter-of-fact delivery sent a chill up my spine.  

Look, it’s no secret that I didn’t vote for the man.  As a matter of fact, this election had me between a rock and a hard place.  I didn’t like either candidate (oh, Hillary!), to be honest.  However, even though I didn’t choose Obama myself, that doesn’t make him any less my President.  I do believe that he is–and will–do the best job for the nation that he can.  His election is historical, I admit.  I mean, I wish that race had not been a factor in the election for the sole reason that ignoring his genetic make-up would have been the real indicator that America is truly post-racial.  However, his presence in the White House is a huge step towards reaching that goal.  For him to be killed in office…no sane person wants to see that. 

So here’s sending a prayer up for you, President Obama.  May you have a safe and healthy 4 years in office.  


P.S:  This conversation is the most accurate I’ve ever recounted; I definitely recorded it verbatim onto my iPod Touch.  It’s a brilliant deception, really.  “Oh, you think I’m listening to music?  Haha, I’m actually blogging about you!  Take that!”  Tee hee.

Question… January 22, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Uncategorized.
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So, I’ve been thinking about this for a while…

Should I keep this blog specifically for bus stories and create another one for life’s goings on, or do you think it’s kosher to put them all in one place?  I’d like to start keeping track of the books I’m reading and stuff I think is great/awful, too.

What do you think?

An Awkward Group January 22, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Bus Songs.
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Last week I caught the 5:00 bus home, which is like, the HEIGHT of Crazy Time.  It had been a hard day at work, so all I really wanted to do was get to my truck and head home.  

I got to the bus depot on campus a little early, so I sat down and pulled out a newspaper.  A few of the “Red Bus Regulars” were also milling about.  There’s one elderly lady that I’ve noticed repeatedly because she just doesn’t seem to fit into the “Red Bus” demographic.  She’s shorter than me, so about 5’3″ or so, and really well-kept.  Obviously not a college student, she always dresses nicely and keeps to herself.  That’s not to say that you can’t ride the bus without being 1) a college student or 2) trashy, but…okay, well, maybe that’s usually how it works out.  

Anyway, this quiet little lady and I have had a few interactions.  The first time she was trying to get on the bus while I was getting off, and she was still a ways away.  She started running–mind you, this woman is like, 70, so it was more like quick, erratic hobbling–so I knocked on the door to the bus as it began to move and asked the driver to wait for her.  She was very soft spoken; not impolite per se, but definitely a little shy.  The second time she and I spoke, the bus had to turn around because of road work.  This kept her from getting to her stop, so she asked for the bus to drop her off about a half-mile from where she was headed.  As she was getting off, I offered for her to ride to where I was parked (at the mall, about 4 minutes away), and told her that I’d be more than willing to give her a ride if she’d like to wait.  She looked at me, a “deer in the headlights” look on her face, and promptly shuffled off the bus.  OKAY, LADY.  WHATEVER.  Then I watched her almost get hit by not one but two cars as she attempted to teeter through traffic.  

Come to think of it, maybe she does belong on the Red Bus.  Hmmm.

Anyway, I noticed that she was speaking to a young man in the terminal.  He was probably 23, fairly tall with a shaved head, heavily freckled.  I remember thinking what a bad look that was for him, but he seemed to be speaking with the elderly lady in a decent manner, so I let it go.  She seemed to be getting along quite well with her skinhead friend. 

Anyway, once we boarded the bus, those two (along with a few of his friends) sat right in front of me.  I tried to put my headphones on and relax, but the conversation up front was too loud to ignore.  

Skinhead:  (speaking to a young Hispanic man sitting across from him)  Hey Jose, where was you last night?  I needed you there with me to calm me down!

(Jose has a young wife and a child–I suspect the family is a result of an unexpected teen pregnancy.  I often wonder what they saw in each other, but one fact is undeniable:  their son is SO CUTE.)

Jose:  Man, I got a family.  I can’t be helping you like that no more. (Admirable reply, I think)

Skinhead:  Man, no really man, then I wouldn’t have done what I did if you was here with me.  Man, I punched a guy.  

At this point, I realized that Skinhead’s right hand, which was draped around The Elderly Lady’s shoulders, was bandaged.  

Jose:  Who’d you punch?

Skinhead:  Oscar (who I gathered from later conversation was a neighbor).

Jose:  Man, you can’t be doing that.  

Skinhead:  But he was trying to get into the apartment!  So, you know, I was drunk, so I told him to get the f*** out, but he didn’t!  (insert donkey-esque guffaw here).  So man, like, I punched him.  And I was so mad I couldn’t feel my hand, so then I punched the wall, and then I ran outside and punched through the newspaper stand.  

At this point my jaw drops.  Seriously?  You punched through a wall and a newspaper stand?  

Skinhead:  (continuing) Yeah, man, you know.  Then the cops came, but they didn’t arrest me!  Jose, you should have been there, man.  I needed you to hold me back!  You know, man, if someone was out to hurt you or your little one, I’d kill ’em.  I’d kill ’em dead.

I just bet you would.  My bus stop quickly approaches, so I arrange my things.  The conversation in front of me lapses into silence for a few minutes.  Then, to my surprise, Little Old Lady chimes in, as serious as she could be.  

Little Old Lady:  That’s right.  You go right ahead and kill him.

Uh huh.  Right.  She should totally be on the Red bus.