Reading Is Evil

As a child I found it difficult to pick up a book and read.  As opposed doing what with it you might ask?  Picking up a book and throwing it across the room?

More like tearing out the pages and trying to smoke them! (With a few added ingredients) Turns out the Bible DOES provide some value!  Bahhhhhh-Zing!  Relax, it’s a fucking joke.

To be honest, as a child even the small bubbles above some of my favorite comic strips seemed to be more of an absorbing task than I was willing to undertake.  It could have been because I had a creative mind that didn’t want to conform to the proposed story line that was set forth for the masses to mindlessly ingest.  I preferred to imagine my own commentary and create a story that was unique.  One that isn’t confined to the four boxes of poorly written and obvious drollery that has been regurgitated from the 50’s.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Because he was an unoriginal bastard and his highly predictable life of crossing the road for arbitrary reasons forced him to throw himself under the fastest moving eighteen wheeler he could find.

That could have been why I avoided reading. . . .

Or a majority of my disinterest in reading might have boiled down to the fact that I was fucking lazy.  Still em.  Actually, being lazy is pretty much my hobby.  It is a very diverse hobby actually, widely applicable.  I can do my hobby pretty much anywhere, at anytime. Not many other hobbies have such a luxury.

I digress.

Yes, most books bored me as a child (most still do as an adult) and at a young age I equated reading to torture, which I firmly believe derived from two things:

1) All books in school are fucking painfully boring!  Shakespeare, Dickens, and what ever else was placed in front of me that was immediately thrown into the back of my locker.  Left to collect remnants of chewed gum and overlooked weed scraps.  I mean, come on! Great Expectations!? What a fucking false advertisement that was.  The only thing “great” about that book was it was thick enough to use as a desk pillow during class.

I think it is a government conspiracy.

This is how they ensure the blue-collar work force is sustained.  Bore people to the point of dropping out of high school.

2) The summer reading program put on by my local library.  When you are 8-years-old and reading is the devil, walking into a library is pretty much like walking into the flames of hell itself.  But what are my parents to do with two intelligent future leaders of tomorrow (my step-brother and step-sister) and a child that was kicked out of pre-school?  Yes, true story.  I was kicked out of pre-school.  An obvious foreshadowing of my accolades to come (i.e.) 0.0 G.P.A spring quarter my sophomore year in high school.

The concept was simple: read a book, fill out a summary worksheet, earn tokens, buy shit with said tokens.

Sounds great!

What young preadolescent doesn’t want shove a brand new sparkly pencil up the ass of an anatomically incorrect naked troll with fucked up neon hair?

Fucking sign-me-up!

If I recall correctly I made it through one and a half books that summer.  I say one and a ‘half’ because after the first 30 page torturous endeavor I learned a valuable life lesson.  Read the back of the book, the first few pages for some character names, and then skim the rest to pick up on some key plot points.  That’s right folks, at the ripe old age of 8 I learned that to beat the system, you gotta cheat the system.  It was enough of a showing to keep my parents off my back and earn me a few stickers for participation, literally.

Thus my literary development was an even paced crawl through the trenches of underachievement.  Managing to sustain enough improvement to carry me from one prison cell to another.

Or as the teachers liked to call it, “From fourth grade to fifth.”

Occasionally I would incite optimism in my parents by bringing home a book from the grade school library that didn’t require me to locate Waldo.  A few ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books popped up on my radar after I was informed by a classmate that they contained some type of violence.

My parents desperation for me to read reached an all time high when I was eleven.  Forced to find a book in the public library and told I couldn’t leave until said task was accomplished, I returned with two.  One about mafia hits and the other about serial killers.

They were not impressed.

But it turns out they were determined.

I not only was able to check out both books, they actually became the staple of my extracurricular educational development.  I remember marveling at how many times my name was sloppy scribbled on the checkout slip that was glued to the back page.  Thank God someone out there had the decency to put both of these kick-ass subjects in an easily digestible kid friendly format.  Heavy on the photos with quick little blurbs about the most gruesome facts.

Valentines Day Massacre – Al Capone’s north side Italian gang dressed up like cops and slaughtered a rival gang.  See photo below:

Huh……….cool!

The Night Stalker (Richard Ramirez)  – A serial killer / rapist who was actually detained through the help of mass media.  Locals spotted Ramirez and pinned him down until police arrived.  Administering a little public justice while waiting.

Wow………….. I would have kicked him in the face!

As you can imagine, this was not the best spring board to propel me through the literary challenges that awaited me in junior high and high school.  Try going from stories about the Boston Strangler to ‘The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe’ was a struggle.  Edgar Allan Poe, oh fucking yawn!  Talk about driving someone mad.  Psychologists want to draw a connection between violent video games and school massacres.  Maybe they should take a look at the fucking school curriculum.

I don’t actually recall where I learned the motto for my anti-reading campaign  that ran through the duration of my teenage years.  But having regurgitated it countless times and scribbled it in every book that was assigned to me, I think I have the right to coin it?  Not that anyone can really contest it.  Trust me, I googled it and nothing came up.

“Reading is knowledge, knowledge is power, absolute power is evil.  Thus, reading is evil.”

Seems like a pretty simple case of connect the dots to me.

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The (Not-So) Great New Zealand Road Trip (South Island)

The (Not-So) Great New Zealand Road Trip (South Island)

Posted on January 23, 2013

I made the mistake of taking a summer philosophy class at the local community college to fill out some of my elective credits.

This was a mistake for two reasons, which are not mutually exclusive.

One, I found philosophy surprisingly boring.

Two, my professor was a fucking crackpot.

Our second week of class, after spending the entire first week lecturing rhetorically about whether or not ”physical life is real, is the chair real, is what we see real, how many more dimensions are there that we are not aware of, blah, blah, fucking, blah”, he was asked by one of the students, his stance on drug use to ‘enlighten the mind’.

He replied back without hesitation or inflection in his voice, “I think everyone should take LSD at least once a year.  It clears the mind.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I am just as much in favor of the recreational use of hard drugs as the next guy.  But as I took a look around the room and saw just how impressionable my peers actual were and just how much of this guys bullshit they were actually believing, I became slightly concerned.  I envisioned several of these 18-year-old kids explaining to the arresting officer, “It’s for school, I swear.”  While sitting in the back of a cop car, wondering if the hand cuffs that are cutting off the circulation to their hands are actually “real” (Turn on, tune in, and, um, drop out?).

It was about this time that I started questioning the validity of our “professors” teaching credentials.  I know he had written a book.  He had succeeded at mentioning that part of his resume 17 times during the enthralling first week of class (I kept a tally).  He even offered us a $5 discount off the hard copy version.

The fucking cheap bastard!

To top it off, the book wasn’t even something he wrote.  It was simply a collection of philosophers that he felt were relevant, placed into a single book by him (and a co-”author”!).

I use to make mixed CD’s of my favorite rap artists as a kid but I don’t claim to be a music producer.  Can you imagine if I managed to throw this blog into paper back and then used it as evidence that I should be lecturing impressionable, young, naive college students about global culture.  Undoubtedly I would be telling them to come to my class piss-drunk, to get their head right for my lesson.

I personally prefer the philosophers of my generation.  I can not only relate to them on a more personal level, but I feel they are more direct and eliminate most of the bullshit (unlike this blog post).

Take Xzibit for example, “I can drink a whole Hennessy fifth, some call it a problem but I call it a gift.”

That is a great observation of the duality of man.  On one hand, drinking an entire fifth of Hennessy is considered a problem.  While that very same attribute can be seen as a blessing.  Is it a problem?  Is it a gift?  Maybe a gift that is a problem?  Or better yet, a problem that is a gift?  Certainly one for the ages.

Or one of my favorite and more widely applicable quotes:

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” – Mike Tyson

We had a plan for The Great New Zealand Road Trip (South Island).  A complex and in-depth plan that detailed the entire first five days of our two week journey.  We spent an entire half hour putting this elaborate and complex plan together!

Then we got punched in the face.

We drove from Queenstown to Te Anau at a leisurely pace, without a care in the world, chalked full of excitement for our days to come.  The plan was to stay the night in Te Anau and head to Milford Sound the following morning.  Spending an entire day enjoying the wonderful scenery that Milford has to offer from the decks of an overpriced tour boat.

We had become familiar with New Zealand’s weather patterns from our time in the North Island.  But we never thought (didn’t properly research) that the road to Milford Sound might be closed if the weather was too extreme.

Even worse, closed with no fucking clue when it would reopen.

The most we could get out of any of the locals when we asked if the road would open soon was, “Maybe” with a shrug and a half-smile.  That same fucking smile and sense of uncertainty you would get from your high-school pot dealer when asking when the drought would be over.  So you could buy some more of his shitty and overpriced weed.

Convinced we would be missing out on a South Island highlight, we had no choice but to burn a day, sit inside our hostel, and watch as the torrential rains pounded the already flooded streets outside.

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The weather report comes out twice a day for the roads in New Zealand (South Island).  Once at 4:30pm and once at 7:30am.  We waited until the seven-thirty report but didn’t receive confidence-building news.  The roads were closed, it was currently raining, it was planned to continue raining, and no one wanted to give a firm answer on when they thought the roads would reopen.

Our time in the South Island was already fairly limited and after taking advice from pretty much everyone (to include the local North Island hobo) on where we should be spending our time in the South Island, we were left feeling like Shanic Johnson during her supermarket sweepstake run.  Crashing our cart into the wall, trying to grab as much shit as we possible can.  But realizing as we slammed our way through the aisles, there just wasn’t going to be enough time to grab some ribs AND make it to the beer section.  So we did what we thought would be a close second and snagged as many hot dogs as we possibly could.  That is, we cut bait and headed up the west coast.  We were hoping to somehow squeeze Milford Sound in at the end of the trip.

Unfortunately our contingency plan was about as well thought out as our initial strategy. The road back to Queenstown was also closed due to flooding.  We had to make an hour and half detour to circumnavigate the additional flooding.  We managed to get as far as Lake Wanaka, until we were met with flooding again (this is summer right?).  The lack of planning (in general and in regards to weather) left us scrambling for a place to stay, along with half of the South Island tourists.  All of the hostels and hotels were full with people who didn’t leave and or people trying to hustle their way up the coast to avoid further saturation. Thankfully, after five different attempts, we scored a cabin at one of the camp sites for only $40 more than we budgeted for a nights accommodation (that’s drinking money man!).

With nothing to keep us entertained during our stay but a couple of bottles of wine, Dancing On Ice Finale 2011 (featuring Vanilla Ice), and a Thanksgiving episode of Ellen. . . we were more than ready for an immediate departure and sunnier skies.

The drive up the west coast of New Zealand (South Island) is nothing short of amazing. The rugged mountains sharply find their way into the stunning blue water that can only be described as the kind of beauty that literally takes your breath away.  The kind of beauty that could at least land a part-time modeling gig.  The impressively turquoise water seems more out-of-place than an intelligent comment coming out of the mouth of Lindsay Lohan. The color rivals that of the waters of Thailand, but the temperature (if tested), would ensure that your manhood served as dimples for your belly button (regardless what the locals say and do).  It grabs your attention every time you come around a corner and it is brought into sight.  Interrupting conversations, slowing the speed of travel, and requiring one or both of us to state how “fucking awesome” it is.

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After several days of driving and stopping at virtually every scenic lookout available, we finally reached the north part of the South Island.  Our time in the South Island thus far was pretty much spent confined to the inside of the car and or inside our hostel watching the rain pour down.  We couldn’t help but feel like Charlie Brown when we watched the evening news.  It seemed like the rain was literally following us around.  Leaving sunny skies and warm weather both behind us and where we planned on going.  At least we were achieving a scenery change with the different hostels, but we were starting to have a growing hatred for the car.

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Thankfully the following day was supposed to be partly cloudy with off and on light rain. That was encouraging enough for us to make a dash to Abel Tasman National Park.  Even if there was going to be just a moment of sunlight, we had to get outside and do something, anything!

As luck would have it, we arrived to the park just a pinch too late.  Most of the tours had left only 15 minutes prior to our arrival.  We had two options left:  A boat trip up the length of the park and a two-hour break to walk and explore.  Or we could be dropped off half way up the coast and walk back four hours.  Those of you who know me, understand that I am inherently lazy and though I tried my best to smile at Sally and explain that I was game for either option.  We ultimately ended up doing to the longer boat ride, shorter walk (score!).

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P1040791The boat company turned out to be more geared toward taking people to various parts of the park to drop them off.  A taxi service if you will, hence the name Aqua Taxi.  I am not sure why they sell a “Tour Package”, but they do, and we bought it.  The tickets really entitled us to speed up the coast as quick as possible and drop off/ pick up other passengers.  But as luck would have it, the weather took a turn for the worse (surprise surprise) and the waters became a too rough to continue the trip up the coast.  The boat company was able to turn a perceived rip-off into an extremely enjoyable afternoon through the single actions of our skipper.  The local Maori (ex-kayak guide) Eric provided more cultural experience about the local culture, plant life, and history then we collectively experienced during the duration of our trip in New Zealand thus far.  He also catered the rest of the afternoon to our interests.  By taking us (and another couple) to Seal Island and a little cove for a quick swim in the water (Sally and I stayed on the boat).

A post from aroundtheworldtripping.com

Locked Up Abroad

The build up to the Full Moon Party turned from a burning camp fire of anticipation into an uncontrollable wildfire that would take collaborative efforts of both city and state officials to contain.  Evacuations were necessary. . .

We had managed to find a comfortable spot on the giant wood balcony of Mushroom Mountain (or was it Mellow Mountain)? For the purposes of this story, both names are suitable and may be interchanged.  The weathered wood platform stretched out over the ocean at what felt like skyscraper heights.  The tables reduced to mere inches from the floor with worn rugs and old cushions provided to absorb your tired body.  The only light that was provided derived from the almost full moon and countless black lights that were strategically placed throughout the bar.  With mind-blowing, time absorbing, black light enhanced painted pictures placed directly below them.  The thumping techno music was loud enough to reverberate throughout your entire body and excuse any complications that might arise from language barriers.

Chips?  . . . . . Chips?  Oh. . . . you mean fries!  Fuck yeah I want some fries! 

But quiet enough to ensure the illustrated commentary about the significance of life could reach your melting brain cells.  Giving you the opportunity to smile and shake your head in agreement.  While wondering just how in the fuck people like this survived in regular society.

We had been on the island for only five hours before we decided to make the journey through the thick, black, night, to the mystical structure that overlooked Haad Rin Bay.  The journey alone was enough to detour most party-goers.  As you left the main strip of the bay, the silence of the night gave a sobering realization to the madness that you left behind.  The competing music from the string of bars that lined the beach fades into a quite and singular dull thumping sound, before subsiding all together.  The journey is was only further complicated when you reach the base of the cliff that serves as the foundation for the memorizing lighted structure above.  Various sets of unorganized rock steps lead you up to one of two bars (of the same establishment).  The lower bar being left for the faint of heart.  While the rewards of completing the trek to the upper bar was enough to ensure our return each of the following nights.

The full moon gods must have been shinning down on us as we situated ourselves onto an empty space on the floor.  It was only a matter of a few Jack and Cokes before we were officially welcomed with the burning smell of road kill.  Small talk was exchanged and I quickly directed the conversation toward the correct individual to speak with about scoring my own welcoming incense.  Coincidentally the middle-aged women that had befriended us happened to be the girlfriend of one of the Thai bar constitutes.  She ducked away behind the bar and returned moments later with more than enough supplies to sustain the average traveler a week of recreational use.

It was gone that night.

Once my generosity was known, we quickly became the center of attention.  Several other backpackers gathered around our table and the constant smoke arising from our location was enough to induce an introduction from the provider himself.  Who clearly knew how to identify a cash cow investment.

Two Australian travelers that were close to our age returned from the bar with milkshake type concoctions and received several taunting remarks from my friend and I.  The sarcastic comments about ordering a “bitch drink” quickly subsided when it was announced that these “bitch drinks” contained high levels of mushrooms and only cost around $4 each.  Moments later an icy cream drink was in the hands of everyone on the deck.  The party carried on well through the night and into the next morning.

We quickly discovered that the days were meant for sleep, the evenings for food and planning (flyers passed out to travelers about the evenings happenings: waterfall party, jungle party, etc) and the nights were meant to get completely fucked out of your head. Thankfully I had a matured childhood and was already well acquainted with this goal and rarely caught off my game.  I wouldn’t rank myself as an elite (Ozzy osbourne), but I definitely have more than just participation medals hanging from my wall.

Thailand

Thus, the nights continued much in the same manner as the first occurred.  To the mountain, the jungle, the waterfall, and ultimately back to the mountain.  The fruits of our luck not squandered, but rather shared with virtually everyone who crossed our path.  A simple request for a lighter or some papers, followed up with an inquiry.

“You know how to roll?”

“I got weed, if you can roll it, you can smoke it.”

The fact is my rolling abilities at the time were about average (much improved since) but my laziness and enjoyment of sharing have been constant variables in my life.  It was also entertaining to see the pros do it with one hand, in less than two minutes, while maintaining conversation.  Even more entertaining to watch was the desperate amateur. Who stumbled through three papers and half of the weed I provided them.   While fighting back beads of frustrated induced sweat.  All the while ensuring me that they knew what they were doing, but clearly just desperate to smoke some free weed.  It was this generosity that I firmly believe kept me from spending time in a Thai prison for possession.

Four days of constant smoking and four nights of multiple mushroom shakes was enough to cause confusion when forced to look at that stranger in the mirror.

This rare occurrence would find me staring into the eyes of the very same weirdo I so easily dismissed before the 96 hour mushroom binge. The one who told me about dropping out of the grind, the evil of government, and the importance of keeping your mind free (fucked beyond belief).

My eyes widened as a smile began to form at the corners of my mouth.  I reached out and placed all of my finger tips to the finger tips of the stranger and I knew that together we would get through this insane attempt to escape reality.  Or was this an attempt to survive it?  (That’s deep man)

We had watched as the crowds grew from 100’s of people to 1000’s.  Two boats a day brought the new energy of unfamiliar and overexcited (over-intoxicated) tourists.  The long-haired hippies that lived the simplistic and nomadic life of a true traveler slipped into the shadows of the island and the expression of the local Thai become obviously more tense. It was apparent that a long standing tradition had become more of a over-marketed tourist trap then the celebration of traveler and Thai union it once was.

Acoustic guitars replaced by thumping techno.

The spirituality driven with their worn out cloths and dreads are now alcohol crazed college kids sporting their frat and sorority attire, wooooing (there is nothing worse then a fucking woo-girl. . . . ).

We had been warned about this transition.  But our concerns were focused else where.  The boats were bringing more than just thousands of over-intoxicated travelers.  The police force of two, who rarely make appearances and from what I understand are quite good at looking the other way.  Are bolstered to a staggering 17 cops, to include several undercover agents.  This should have been a clear warning sign that the fun was about to come to a screeching halt.

The day of the full moon party had the island pumping with excitement (literally).  The beach was filling up with firework platforms, black light paint artists, fire jugglers, and of course the endless rows of booze buckets sprawled across folding tables and bar stands. Five dollars provided you with a bottle of your choice and a mixer, dumped into a child’s sand bucket.  “Meant for a group”, but often absorbed by a single party-goer.  I wasn’t sure if it was the weed, four consecutive days of mushrooms, or the combination of the two? But I was feeling quite overwhelmed and even startled at the drunken mess that the island had become.  I made my way to the Mountain to conduct my usual transaction and hopefully find ‘a peaceful place to loose my mind’.  But I was informed by the bar owner that he could do nothing for me today.

“To much trouble, to much police.  You come back tomorrow”

“Tomorrow?  Tomorrow does me no fucking good man!”

More than a little discouraged, I ordered a mushroom shake and sat on the edge of the balcony.  I quickly sucked it back as I observed the madness developing below.

Then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The usual 45 minutes it took for the shake to kick in had turned into an hour and a half.  I ordered another one and again waited out the expected delivery time.  I finally asked the bar tender if I was given the “correct” shake and he informed me they had to cut the dose to a fraction of the usual amount.  In past full moon parties the hordes of drunk college kids would try to drink their way through several buckets and then add a few special shakes to top off the night.  They ended up with large scale freak outs and health problems (kids passing out in the water and almost dying).  Thus they have been required to tone it down.

Of-fucking-course!

No weed, no mushrooms, and a head that is quickly fading from a dreamworld daze into a withdrawal nightmare.

Forced to stick to the booze buckets, I did a frustrated shuffle to the closest vendor I could find.  I made my way through one in less time then it took for the ice to melt and began my drunken stumble of self-pity.

As the night weaned on my frustration turned to determination.  I made a second trip the Mountain and again asked to be hooked up.  This time being as discreet as possible to detour any other regulars and employees from noticing.  It might also have helped that I was holding up some extra cash.  By extra, I mean four times the regular cost.

The bartender must have taken pity on my “desperation’.  He slide me a bag and told me I had to leave the bar immediately in case any cops came in.  More than happy to oblige, I skipped my way back to the beach-side bars.  A big happy “I just scored some fucking weed” smile on my face!

It didn’t take me long to find one of my fellow Mountain regulars and we headed to the treeline to roll one up, or two, or three.  By the time we reached what I deemed a safe location, our group, had grown five strong.  We collectively worked feverishly to roll several pain relievers.

We coughed, passed, and laughed for the next twenty minutes.

Just as the last joint was reaching roach status a flashlight pierced through the night and exposed our deer like expressions.  The older French man who was laying on the sand at the time, quickly shoved the last joint deep into the sand.

The cop started yelling at us.  Stating that he knew we had drugs.  He kicked the sand but failed to expose anything.

“I smell your drugs.  You give me drugs now!”

We all denied this accusation and insisted we had no idea what he was talking about.

With an obvious stale mate being reached with verbal instructions, the cop called his partner over to conduct a search.  One by one the group was searched.  My heart began to beat as I had visions of being stuck in a Thai prison.  I slowly slide my hands into my short pockets as I stood quietly and observed the pat downs.  The Thai cop had clearly conducted more than one of these in his time and was not showing any weaknesses in his method.

I debated making a run for it.  I gauged the speed of the cops, factored in my flip flops, and my high blood alcohol level (not to mention cotton mouth).

I thought to myself,  “I just might have the upper hand.  At least I have the element of surprise.”

Just as I was digging my right foot into the sand to prepare for my dash to the left.  The cops radio buzzed with another Thai cop from somewhere else on the island who was headed our way.  It was clear that I was surrounded and I assumed they knew the island far better then I did.  Considering my knowledge was limited to Mushroom Mountain, my hotel room, and the flyer guy that hooked up the tuk tuks to various other party locations (in which I had no fucking clue as to their whereabouts)

What to do? What to do? What to do? Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

I made eye contact with my fellow Mountain man and he nodded with a look of confidence. Just as the man finished searching the third member of our group, my partner in crime jumped up in front of the cops face and threw his hands out to his side.  Jolting the silent air with forced laugh and making a mockery of the searching process.  It greatly decompressed the situation and he even got a few chuckles from the cop.

He also obstructed the cops view with his theatrics.

I lifted my right foot and dropped the bag.  I stood on it and slipped out of my flip-flops. When the cop finished his search I continued the joke and approached the cop in a laughing manner.  Leaving my flip flops in the sand where I had standing, hidden by the shadows.  My search was complete and the cops were satisfied with their results.  They warned us that drugs are bad and very serious in Thai land. (You don’t fucking say)

“You just drink alcohol and you not have trouble.”

We all agreed with the advice and walked toward the party with the cops.  I returned to the “safe location” 30 minutes later to find my flops still sitting there with my bag underneath them.  I grabbed my weed and rushed to my hotel room to stash it.  I marveled at my luck and scoffed at what a miserable event the full moon party turned out to be.

Fucking tourists ruin everything. . . 

Cover Letter

Why settle for an individual that can talk their way out of a parking ticket while explaining how the meter works? When you can have someone that was offered an honorary deputy position and given a key to the city after a routine traffic stop. Do I want to get into the PR fast lane? My entire life has been spent in the fast lane. I spent four years in the Army jumping out of fast moving planes, I was promoted to sergeant faster than anybody in my entire company, and after two combat tours I left the Army so fast it made their heads spin. I not only graduated with an above average GPA (3.6). I graduated from an above average school (Foster School of Business). I am also an extremely fast learner. I was one of the first fourth graders to master cursive writing and I learned to ride a bike without training wheels. I was hired by a start-up company as one of their first Sales Associates (with no sales experience). We worked out of a house in the suburbs when I started and by the time I left I was the top producing Sales Executive and the company was selling to hotels all over the world. You need a broad range of experience? How about getting shot at in war, working a blue collar job, college, working for a start-up and spending the last fourteen months traveling the world.

My name is Bret Armstrong and I have the self-starting and relentless motivation you are looking for. Does my name sound familiar? Yes, you may find my application already buried at the bottom of your trash folder. That is because I allowed the formalities of professionalism to restrain me from presenting myself correctly. But in all fairness, the rejection email I received stated that you were in the fortunate position of having a wide array of talented applicants. Considering that was a week ago and I just saw the job posted again on craigslist, I think we owe it to each other to consider it a wash. So please, do us both a favor and reach out to me before I find myself stuck in a dead-end job, incorrectly filling out TPS reports, and releasing my frustration on stolen office equipment.

Interested in perusing my resume? I would be more than happy to email you a hard copy before our scheduled interview time.

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.