There are so many intelligent and articulate people covering the hard-hitting
issues in our country these days, that I felt it was my duty to cover the
rather inconsequential bullshit that tends to make up the vast majority of
our lives. Actually, I'll just be griping a lot which, if you weren't aware,
doubles as a synonym for complaining, and as a descriptor for
a sharp pain in the bowels.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Postal Service

United States Postal Service within Chicago is known to be bad. Within Wicker Park it is known to be perhaps worse. Whether you're hitting the regular stop or actually need to pick up a package/certified mail that they will pretend they attempted delivery on. I mean, I get it, a little bit. Take the winter we're having: it's cold enough outside I could see not wanting to walk about stuffing mailboxes. But it is your job, and if you're not going to do it, please don't pretend you did it so that I am forced to come down to a hole in the wall at unlisted hours and pray that I will be given what's been bought and paid for. Or, in the case of certified mail, when I'm finally able to get to the facility after guessing at their hours, I'm quite sure they'll tell me I need a slip designating my mail is there, which was never delivered in the first place and I'm only relying on the sender's tracking notification that it was in fact delivered. Delivered how, where, and in what capacity exactly?

It's like Catch-22 meets 1984 in some ways. All of these hoops are thrown at your to discourage and dishearten. This is why people are so angry at the post office. In turn, postal employees have to deal with already angry customers. But I have to say, they don't generally improve the situation. There's a lot of the "this is what is stated" type of speak, rather than any actual thought or questioning of the system, certainly not in any way that might assist a postal customer.

Comcast could give these guys a run for their money of course. I tried to cancel my Internet service—which is somehow something that cannot be done on the Internet—and had to call four different times with varying hold rates. Representatives told me they would see what they could do and yet, on the fourth call, the woman I dealt with was able to directly close my account. Same number, same phone tree, same bullshit. The first time I had the wrong 800 number (even though it was listed on their site to use for cancellation purposes) and when I asked to be transferred they said they couldn't do it and that I should just call the new number. Wait, a cable TV and Internet company doesn't have the ability to connect me to another part of their own business via telephone? Do these guys do phone service too? Lest it not be clear I am joking, I know they do phone service.

But these are all just minor aggravations, things put in your way to discourage you. Don't be discouraged. Take the hard line. Follow through. It's mail and Internet service today, but trust me, allowing three or so corporations to dominate an industry isn't doing us any favors. This is nothing new, but a reminder here or there never hurts.


Sunday, January 26, 2014


Reggie. That's my guy. For a long while and for whatever reason, I've always had a special place in my heart for homeless people. Oh sure, some of them are assholes, just as in the day-to-day you encounter home people that are assholes. Those damn homeowners. If anything the percentage might be lower among homeless people.

Many people seem to have an aversion to the homeless, and this can be for any number of reasons. I won't speculate on them all, but I'll entertain one quick extrapolation of the feeling I sometimes have. It starts that homelessness is a clear problem, and often people don't like to deal with problems. Couple that with it being a problem that doesn't have an easy solution, and therein lies a heightening of the problem. Why do I want to be considering a problem I can't really hope to solve? This is that dangerous line of thinking that brings one toward apathy. So instead, how about incremental steps?

For me this is treating homeless people as human beings, because they are human beings. Just as I can't know all of the reasons people dislike the homeless, I can't know all of the reasons people have become homeless. With the exception of a group of traveling dickweeds sometimes referred to as "crusties," most folks don't want to be homeless. Especially in Chicago. Especially in winter.

So when I can't offer leftover food or money—somehow homeless people aren't supposed to use your money to buy booze, even though that is what plenty of homeowners spend it on to "drown their sorrows," as if those sorrows are somehow more relevant—I offer my ear.

This was my experience with Reggie the other day. He asked for a little help and I had none I could offer—no cash, no food. But we did chat, and we even got onto the topic of the plight of homeless shelters where, even if there are beds to be had, those beds can include bedbugs. And if regular people don't want bedbugs, why should homeless people? Because remember, they're actually regular people too. So while onlookers looked at me as if I was crazy, Reggie told me, "You know what man, you made my day." It made me wish I had the boldness to offer him a place under my roof for the night. I didn't, and I don't. But you know, Reggie made my day too.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Wringing In the New Year

Well 16 days into this 2014 and my blogging's behind if you know what I mean. I don't mean that it's behind me—though there's been blogging in my past—I just mean that any effort at scheduled/ritualized posting of content is, as is often the case, not happening. A strong example of this includes my changing 14 days to 16 in that opening line.

2014 is keeping a brisk pace, at least on the weather front, and perhaps soon on the beverage front. January's only half through, and while I never like to count days off and out, it would be nice for it to not be so nut-chillingly cold. Still, there are other locales with other climates, and there's no sense griping about the weather when I can gripe about literary frustrations. At the moment those include picking up a well-reviewed and well reviewed novel that is going down about as smoothly as insert simile of your liking to connote a degree of bumpiness. Which is to say that's it's not terrible or anything, sometimes jaded to the point of cynicism me just fails to see something new or, more to the point, wholly interesting in the concept.

But while I might fail to love the book in question thus far, I do like it for raising, to me, the ongoing issue of defining what it is we like—rather than simple harsh denigrations of what we don't like. Saying no is fine, but if it's not getting you any closer to yes, it can become a bit of an issue. So know that there are some no's as far as this book goes, but I will continue to give it a go. Why? A combination of curiosity and already having abandoned one book of late. Reading, like many things, is a personal matter. A preference for a degree of realism in lingo and dialogue made me drop the last book, and a the old writer writing about a writer scenario has given me a current itch. In the latter instance it's because I know it to be a thing I do as well, and while writing should include you, I also look for it to step outside of you in some meaningful way.

Lackluster literature for this layman aside, I'm feeling good about 2014, and I hope you are too in your corner of the world.

Thanks for stopping by…you stay classy Planet Earth.