The Value Of Time

We had confined ourselves to our hotel room for almost the entire week.  Breaking out only to replenish our food supply and the occasional after dinner walk.  The days were built into a structured routine of job searching and applying.  With heavy doses of day time television to remind us why we needed to be employed.  Our enthusiasm levels were high as we diligently weaved our way through the bullshit (Knife Salesman, Telemarketer, **Earn 10,000 in your first WEEK**) and found a few promising positions to apply for, in which we were clearly under-qualified. (VP of Operations, Branch Manager, Knife Salesman)

It was only a matter of time until the optimism began to fade and the reality of the situation exposed its self.  The cramp hotel room started to feel more like a prison than our spring-board into San Diego life.  The sun heated the freeway facing room to sauna like temperatures, watching the fucking Jodi Arias case, and attempting to dodge the sixty-year-old drunks that wonder the halls.  One actually brought his Chinese food into the small workout room and demanded the remote.  While he sat on the workout bench in the middle of the room (which we were using) and tried to keep from falling asleep.  He only peeled his drunken gaze away from the screen to patronize Sally about her form on the elliptical machine, yelling about how she needed to work harder.  Giving a self-enthused cackle of enjoyment.

Did I mention it was seven in the morning?

The jobs we wanted turned us down or didn’t write back.  The jobs we didn’t want dumped spam into our in-boxes and cluttered the job search sites.  On the verge of being completely discouraged, we did what any dedicated pair of thirty-year-olds attempting to begin their career in a new city would do.

We started to drink.

One bottle of wine turned into two, two to three, three into a five liter box.  We debated if the box wine purchase signified a new low in our attempt to reintegrate into normal society or was a significant improvement in our ability to plan and budget.

We had managed to keep our spirits up by purchasing a car and hunting for apartments. After all, these were both necessities for our new life in California and it is easier to accomplish both processes while unemployed?  

You have more time to conduct a thorough search, actively pursue potential leads, and make un-rushed decisions!  

Who cares about the fact that we have no money, no way to get more money (jobs), and a credit card bill that is higher than Cheech and Chong during the 70’s.

Thankfully, our travels and life experience didn’t mature us to the point where were too proud to mooch off of our parents. . . . uh, I mean ask for help. 

Thus our car situation was resolved.

With a $9,000 IOU (That’s as good as money sir, those are IOU’s.  $9,000 for a car. Might want to hang on to that one).  

However, a small formality of not allowing an out-of-state co-signer on the lease, was leaving the apartment hunting a little grim.  

To top it off, our old landlord in Seattle of five years had done his best to drop off the face of the earth.  After driving by the apartment, looking at our old contract, countless internet searches, a Facebook stalk of his son, and a 411 call that scored us a number of one of the “current residents” who I creepily left messages for and sent texts too. (which wasn’t too encouraging considering it still had us listed as a current resident even though we had vacated the building over a year and a half ago). We still came up empty-handed.  So where did this leave us?

We had no proof of income.
We had no verification of our rental history.
We had no bank statement that showed adequate financial stability.
We had no fucking chance of bamboozling anyone in their right mind into giving us an apartment.

But that didn’t detour us from searching, viewing, and even applying.  I wish we could have captured some of the facial expressions and change in tone of the rental agents and managers when we described our situation but assured them we could cover the $1,400 a month rent.

On our third full day of procrastinating our job search (apartment hunting) we narrowed it down to our top two apartments.  They were by far the best two we had come across and we decided either one would be the perfect place to start our California living.  Now, if we can just circumnavigate this whole application process and beat out other applicants that have applied and were clearly better qualified.  Which could have included the fucking bum on the street at this point.  At least he has a tangible wealth of loose change and half eaten sandwiches retrieved from the dumpster.

After we submitted our application to the better of the two apartments we did what anyone with no money and no job would have done when unemployed (awaiting their obviously doomed fate).  

We went to explore San Diego’s beach side watering holes!  

It’s not that we thought getting a little drunk would soften the blow of being denied our 72 hours of hard work, and it certainly wasn’t to help us forget the fact that we were getting absolutely no where with the job hunt.  It really just came down to the simple fact that boozing it up was, is, and will always be, our favorite pastime.  Hey, don’t judge!  It’s not like we are blasting our way through eight balls of cocaine (we save that for special occasions).

We strolled the streets of La Jolla for the first time, trying to find that perfect place to enjoy an adult beverage (the cheapest happy hour we could find).  As we made our way past a Mexican restaurant with some outdoor seating we couldn’t help but notice an obnoxiously drunk older couple that was harassing virtually everyone that walked by.

Drunken Man: We’re people watching, wanna join us!?

Drunken Woman: Yeah you guys!  Come help us!

We stared at the menu posted on the exterior gate and tried to ignore their annoying behavior and the irony of the situation.  That worked until the man directed his attention directly at us.  He bellowed out again about people watching as we smiled to ourselves and tried not to make eye contact.  Again he told us to join him as I made eye contact with Sally.  Her expression was piercing as she whispered “let’s-just-go”.  We started to shuffle away from the clearly marked road hazard when then man muttered the only words that would make me even consider suffering through his belligerent outbursts.

Drunken Man: We’ll buy you your first drinks.

And the record scratched to a stop

Bret: Mother fucker say what!?

Bret: Sally, maybe we should just. . . you know. . . head in.  Check it out.

Sally: What? Why!? NO! 

Bret: That dude said he would buy our first drink!

Sally: Mother fucker say what!?

With a shared look of (we are broke and margaritas are $10) we reluctantly walked through the gate to join the couple.  The theatrics of their drunken petitioning to gain “fellow people watchers” was only the tip of the iceberg that sunk our ship of public embarrassment.  The mans volume was instantly cranked up to eleven as he began swinging back and forth like Chubby Checker.  Only his sluggish gyrating and pivots weren’t the sweet tune of ‘Lets Twist Again’.  He was simply attempting to flag down a waiter, any waiter, who were all clearly avoiding his charades.  Hand waving high in the air, pointing aggressively at his empty cup, then shaking his empty cup eye level.

Thankfully for us and not so thankfully for management, the man sped off to the kitchen to order his drinks in a more direct manner.  As soon as he was out of sight a waiter darted in to offer us chips and salsa, smiling in an apologetic way as if to say “There is no fucking way what you are about to go through is going to be worth a free drink.”  Foreshadowing?  Absolutely-fucking-not!  It wasn’t worth the two free drinks we got out of it. . . . 

We managed to strike up what I would deem a fairly intelligent conversation with his wife in the mans absence.  I only docked her points for the slight slur in speech and the repeated conversation.

“Oh, he means well.  He has a BIG heart you know.”

“Where are you guys from?”

“He is really a sweet guy, I promise you”

“What was your names”

“He is like a big teddy bear, really sweet you know.”

“So Brian and Linda? Did you say Seattle?”

You might be imagining in this situation an apologetic wife attempting to excuse her husband’s behavior.  But in reality it was more like a curator attempting to convey an artists message to a critical public.  Her tone suggesting that we simply don’t understand his nature.  Rather than, I can’t fucking believe he is in the kitchen ordering drinks and showing the bar tender the “correct way” to make them.

The man came barreling back through the restaurant, a waiter with a full tray of drinks in tow.

The man explained his secret drink: “You have them make a virgin margaritas, virgin, you know, with no booze.  Like a virgin, oh! (he began to sing) touched for . . . . . like a virgin! Oh! . . . 

Hmmm, I don’t like the sound of this at all. As I pushed my stool away from the table in a attempt to flee.

Then you make them add the shot on the side.  That way they can’t fuck you out of the booze!” (And he pulls one out ladies and gentlemen!)

Based on his affectionate hand around my shoulder and breath that would shake the knees of all of Mexico, I don’t think he was fucked out of any booze by this particular establishment.

We sucked back our first drinks with a forced smile of enjoyment and a mutual look of desired escape.  It wasn’t the racist jokes about Mexicans (in a Mexican restaurant), the cat calling to every female between the age of 18 and 50, the harassment of the waiters, or even the arrogance in which he conducted all of these actions.  It was the projection of his voice that had the entire restaurant and half a city block looking in our direction with judging eyes.  

It is really fucking hard to mouth the words “We’re not with them” when the guy has his arm around your shoulder (still. . . ).

It occurred to me that I may have made a poor choice in joining the drunken couple yelling at people on the street.  

Which is odd, because usually that is such a safe move?

I think you are now able to fully grasp the irony of this couple “people watching”.

So I excused myself to the bathroom so I could devise an escape route.  I was halfway out the bathroom window when the realization of my stranded wife gave me second thoughts (she had the keys).  I came out of the bathroom with my phone to my ear, ensuring the fake conversation was conducted in clear view of the couple.  As I slipped my phone back into my pocket I announced we had been accepted into our apartment and we needed to go meet the manager to sign the contract and get our keys.  Sally’s reaction was convincing enough that we all enjoyed a second (free) margarita to celebrate.  We inhaled our drinks like kids huffing paint out of a paper bag.  Refusing to come up for oxygen until we either passed out on the floor or finished our task.  A drawn out good-bye was thankfully cut short by another group passing by who lingered at the menu for a second to long. (Suckers!)

“We’re people watching, you guyzzzz wannnna join in!?”

We dashed out of the restaurant and rushed as quickly as we could to get out of sight. We found ourselves equally buzzed and thankful to be out of that “interesting situation”.  We made our way back home to the comfort of our half empty boxed wine (or was it half full!?), continuing our fulfillment of the afternoon.  We were left to reflect the value of the last hour we just spent being the spotlight of embarrassment and debating if the free booze was worth subjecting ourselves to the annoying theatrics of the drunken people watchers.

(4M = 1H) M = $10  /  H = Hour

Value Of Time = Forty dollars an hour.