Jan 10

So I found myself ending 2014 with a trip to Walmart.  We needed some stuff, and Walmart has stuff.  So I went to Walmart to get the stuff.

Now, I didn’t need much stuff, and the crowds at Walmart were unusually small, so my trip to and through Walmart was going off better than expected.  See, I hate Walmart.  I hate shopping at Walmart.  I hate spending time in Walmart.  I hate checking out at Walmart with one of two checkers available on most given dates and times and waiting in line at Walmart for 7 times longer than necessary.  When I am in Walmart, my dislike for my fellow humanity reaches near-Biblical proportions.  The wrath that fills my soul as I am cut off and run into by the carts of other shoppers makes me, for a brief moment, realize the kind of hatred that could have led Cain to kill his brother.  This is what Walmart makes me become.

When shopping at Walmart, I always have my headphones on.  I listen to music.  I listen to music and pretend that I am not really at Walmart, but that I am performing on a grand stage in front of tens-of-thousands of screaming fans — fans who just happen to be wearing pajamas and have their 6 screaming toddlers with them.

I had gone to Walmart the previous week, and had a typical Walmart experience.  As I pushed my cart full of over-expensive groceries (which were still 20% less than any other store in town, which is why I shop there) out to my car, a small boy with his smaller sister worked their way out of the store in front of me.  The boy had his hand on his little sister’s head and he seemed to steer her.  He would turn her head one way, and she would walk that way.  He would turn her head another way and she would walk that way.  Cute, right?  Yeah, that’s what I thought, until they actually got outside the store.

When the brother and sister approached their minivan, the little girl, sliding across the snow-packed parking lot, exclaimed, “It’s f*@#ing slippery out here!”  This small child couldn’t have been more than eight.  “And it’s f*@#ing cold,” retorted her probably about 11-year-old brother.

Lovely.  The parent or guardian of these kids was still checking out with her two carts of government subsidized groceries, so the kids were apparently comfortable talking like drunken sailors in the Walmart parking lot.  None of my business. It doesn’t take a village, it takes decent parents, which these kids apparently didn’t have.

So the boy opens the back of the minivan and the thing is packed with foul-mouthed, white-trash, EBT-fed children.  “Close the f*@#ing door, it’s G@%#$mned cold out there.  What, do you have s#!t for brains?”  The little girl climbs in through the back of the van.  “F*@k you, a$$#@le”, yells the boy as he slams the back hatch behind his sister.  He then goes to the side door to get in himself,  but the pack of prepubescent condom-leakage inside the van has locked him out.  He erupts in a tirade of expletives as I quickly load the rest of my groceries into the back of my car.  I push my empty cart to a cart corral (something I’m sure the mother of the debris inside the minivan will not do; she will leave her two carts along side her van for he next person who parks in her spot to deal with, because that’s the sort of person she is) and walk back to my car.  As I’m getting into my car, I notice a father and his little girl, hand-in-hand, walking behind the minivan with the boy, now bouncing on the back bumper, screaming “f-this” and “f-that”.  The father picks up his little girl and speed walks past the rocking minivan.  I can take no more.  I get back out of my car.

“Hey!”  I yell at the kid.  He doesn’t seem to realize I’m yelling at him, as he continues to drop f-bombs directed at the spawn inside the van.  I yell again, louder, “Hey, kid on the minivan, watch your mouth!”

He stops bouncing and jumps down from the bumper, looking at me.  I’m in full-on rage mode, ready to fly across the parking lot and grab this little piece of garbage by the front of his shirt as soon as he gets mouthy with me.  “What?” is all he says.  He looks shocked.

“You’re big enough to use that kind of language, but you’re not big enough to realize when it’s not right to use that kind of language?  There was a little girl behind you just now, and I’m sure she and her dad didn’t appreciate you talking like that. You need to watch your mouth!”

The kid is slinking along the side of the minivan as I’m scolding him, and the locked door has magically unlocked.  As he’s sliding up into the van, he mutters, “Sorry.”  He looked like he was going to cry.  I should have felt triumphant, but I felt sad.  I wanted to kick that kid’s parents in the groins more than I have ever wanted to… well… kick anyone in the groin.  I honestly don’t think the kid realized that he was doing wrong, and that is the fault of his parents… or parent… whatever.  Walmart draws this kind of drama like stinky poo attracts flies.

So, anywho, I’ve got that last trip to Walmart on my mind as I’m strolling through my adoring fans while they listen to my truly brilliant falsetto on “Payphone”.  The trip is quick, and before you know it, I find one of the two available checkers ready to help me.

I leave my headphones on, but I mute the music so I can partake in any silly small talk the checker throws my way.  I don’t recognize her.  She must be new.

“Did you find everything, Hon,” she asks in the too-familiar manner of a truck stop waitress or a convenience store clerk.

“Yeah, I’m good,” I say.

The checker is young, probably early twenties, but she looks like she has some miles on her.  Her dirty-blonde hair is back in a pony tail, which exposes her cheeks and their hint of acne scars.  She isn’t an unattractive young lady, but she has that I-smoke-three-packs-a-day kind of look… and it rasps in her voice as well.  The checker next door is a young guy, probably about the same age as my checker, and, seeing as he doesn’t have anyone to ring up, he comes over to flirt with my checker help bag my stuff.

Now, I’m loading my stuff from the cart to the conveyor, not really listening to the small talk going on between the two checkers.  I finish unloading my cart and catch the end of whatever they were talking about.

“You would never do anything like that, you’re too nice of a guy,” says my checker to the boy bagging my stuff.  “I can’t imagine you doing anything bad.”

“Well, there was that one time I smoked,” said bag boy.  “Remember, I told you about that.”

“Yeah, but that was just once, right?” asked my checker.

“Yeah, it was actually just one drag,” said bag boy.

“Don’t say ‘drag’,” said my checker.  “People will think you smoked weed.”

“Mighta been weed,” smiled bag boy.

“No, you’re too nice of a guy to smoke weed,” said my checker.  “Me, on the other hand, you name a drug and I bet I’ve done it.”

Suddenly, the girls appearance starts to make a little sense.  She has been through some rough stuff.

“Meth?” asks bag boy.

“Yep, I did meth,” says my checker.  “At one point, I was down to ninety pounds.”

“Wow,” says bag boy.  “Is that why you were such a good stripper, because you were so skinny.”

Wha…

“No,” replies my checker, “I was a good stripper because I had good upper and lower body strength.  You have to have strong arms and legs to be a good stripper.”

WHA

My stuff bagged, my purchase paid, I left the two of them discussing meth addition and the ways of the stripper.  You could have shoved a softball in my open mouth, I’m sure, because every guy knows that the real secret to any good stripper involves tight buns and… wow… did I just really hear that conversation?

I know some folks who work at Walmart who have worked there an awfully long time.  They have risen through the ranks and are making pretty decent bank and they like their jobs.  I don’t feel sorry for them.  Most folks who work at Walmart, I feel sorry for.  I think, “You could do so much more with your life than work at Walmart. There has to be more out there for you than this.”  I don’t think I will feel this way again… ever.

I used to think of Walmart as the kind of place where people fell at the bottom of their career.  I now realize that Walmart, for some people, may actually be a way to a better life.  Who would have ever thought that Walmart would be the kind of place where a drug-addled stripper could begin to turn her life around?  I wouldn’t have, if not for the conversation to which I was exposed.

God bless Walmart… but I still hate it…

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May 10

Hello, my name is Adventurer Rich, and I’m fat.

There needs to be a twelve-step program for fat-o-holics.  Food is most definitely a drug, and I’m addicted.

Ever since the holidays, I have had a bit of added stress in my life.  And by “bit” I mean I’m genuinely surprised my heart hasn’t exploded.  I don’t deal with the regular old stress of daily life very well, so when stress is added that makes me wonder what in the hell I’m going to do with my entire future, I don’t hold up too well.

And I eat.

I wish I were one of these people whose appetite just disappears when they get stressed or depressed.  You know the type, people who fall into a funk and they lose like twenty pounds because they are too depressed to even eat.  If I was one of these people, given my predisposition to look at the darker side of all situations,  I’d be super-model thin.  I am, however, the complete opposite of these lucky sons-a-guns who can’t eat when they are down.  When I’m in the dumps, I eat like a pig.

  • Can’t figure out how I’m ever going to be able to retire?  Eat some left-over pizza and it doesn’t matter as much.
  • Realize that most of my life has been wasted giving up on dreams?  A roll of summer sausage and a tin of Pringles make the pain go away.
  • Wondering how we’re going to cover the mortgage and other regular monthly bills plus the plethora of medical bills that recently reared their ugly heads while adding a teen driver to our insurance?  PB&J with triple PB sounds about right.
  • Job situation a little shaky and not sure what is going to happen if that falls apart?  One-pound block of sharp cheddar, take me away…

So, needless to say, I’ve packed on a few pounds over the last few months.  The problem is, I not only eat when I’m stressed or depressed, I eat when I’m happy too.  Proud of the older boy for his performance at a soccer game; celebrate with a fast food treat!  Proud of the younger boy for earning his next belt in karate; stop by the bakery and get some donuts!

So, whether I’m winning or losing, I’m gaining weight.  The more I weigh, the higher the old blood pressure gets, the more I feel like crap, the more my self-esteem slips, the more I eat, the more I weigh…

See the problem?

I love food. Food is a great way to celebrate when you are happy and it makes you feel better when you are down.  And any food that doesn’t taste like butt makes you fat.

So I am fat.

I exercise, but exercise just makes me hungry.  The more I exercise, the more I eat after exercising.

So I am fat.

I was trying to lose weight last June, and I wrote about it.  I actually weigh more now than I did then, and that sucks.  I am officially “obese”.

Actually being obese frees me in so many ways…

  • I can wear my pajamas to Walmart… I can probably even use Walmart’s little scooter/shopping cart and park it in the middle of an aisle while I take my sweet time deciding which flavor of Doritos I want.
  • I can let my feeling of guilt slip away while filling that seventh plate at the all-you-can-eat buffet.
  • I can drop ten bucks at McDonald’s ordering only from the dollar menu… all for me… for a snack between lunch and supper…
  • Celery no longer needs to take up any space in my fridge.
  • Screw the diet pop; I’m going full-on high fructose corn syrup!  I don’t even need the carbonated water to thin it down.  Just point me directly to the high fructose corn syrup and some Red Bull: the breakfast of champions…
  • Elevators and escalators will no longer be the “fun” way to get where I am going; they will be a necessity to prevent stroke or cardiac arrest.
  • Trips to the YMCA, long having been a pain in the butt, are no longer necessary.  The sooner I let my obesity consume me, the sooner disability and a life of leisure can kick in.
  • I may be shortening my life, but I’d rather live a short, happy, fat life than a miserable, long life eating things that make my taste buds cringe and my poop green.

I used to think I could get in shape.  I used to think I could be healthy.  I used to think a lot of things…  I try not to think anymore.  Thinking hurts.  Smart people can think and it doesn’t hurt, but it hurts me when I think. I must not be very smart.  Being not very smart is kind of depressing… pass the pork rinds…

 

 

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Jan 26

I am, I think, probably the poorest sport of a sore loser that I know. And it’s not just with stuff I lose at (which would entail a list far too long to list here). My sportsmanship sucks at all levels of losing. I’m a very gracious winner, but if I or my family or even people I don’t know but I have associated with on some level lose, I’m a pissed off cry baby waiting to cause a scene.

I mean, I was at the YMCA the other night and I was on an elliptical with a little TV attached. I was jamming to my MP3 player and I decided to put ESPN on the TV just to have something to watch other than my feet going round and round on the elliptical. There’s a college basketball game on, so I decide I’ll watch.  Now, I couldn’t give two craps about most college or professional sports.  A bunch of people with height and skills that I could never possess playing games that could lead to lucrative careers… playing games… while I struggle to make ends meet and try to face the fact that I will work a job making less in a year than most professional basketball players make in about half a week.  And I will work a job until the day I die.  And I start to hope for that day just so I won’t have to work a job anymore.  And that is depressing.  And I’m getting off topic…

So the teams playing are Florida and Tennessee.  I could care less about either of those teams.  I didn’t have a horse in that race.  So, how did I decide who I was going to root for?  Well, Tennessee is losing by about 14 points.  And Tennessee isn’t ranked.  Florida is ranked #6, so I decide I’m going to root for the underdog.  And you see, this is how I usually end up on the losing side of stuff.  When  one is predisposed to root for the underdog, one is going to face a lot of disappointment.  Underdogs are underdogs for a reason: they have less likelihood of winning because they aren’t as good as the favorite.  So, Florida starts to pull away.  Before you know it, Florida is ahead by over 20 points.  And I’m starting to get pissed.  I’m seeing smug looks on all of the Florida player’s faces.  The Florida coach is starting to look like an arrogant jackass.  I’m starting to see Florida getting away with fouls that aren’t getting called.  And Florida is suddenly up by 30 points and the game is over and I’m completely pissed off.  I hate the state of Florida and everyone associated with the state of Florida and I vow to do everything in my power, which is quite limited, to destroy everything associated with Florida… all because of a stupid college basketball game that I didn’t give two craps about before I started watching it…

I am a very poor sport.

My oldest kid played in an indoor soccer tournament a couple of weekends ago in Rapid City.  The family and I went to watch.  And for everyone of the three games that my kid’s team played and lost, I sat there acquiring a major disdain for Rapid City, South Dakota.  As our team would get further and further down in the score, I would become increasingly annoyed with the parents of the winning teams.  How dare they cheer for their kids!  How dare they encourage their players!  Whose bright idea was it for all of the parents for both teams to sit together?!?  Is someone just trying to make my life miserable?!?

Now, I honestly am a rational adult.  I know that those parents have every right to cheer for their teams.  I know that good parents encourage their children whether they win or lose.  I’m just not that good of a parent.  I want my kid and his friends to win.  Of course, they have to play better than the team they are playing against or that won’t happen, but when in the heat of the battle, I don’t think reasonably.  When in the heat of battle, all I can think about is how I want my kid to win.  If he can win at soccer, maybe he can win at life.  If he wins at life, maybe he will end up with a good paying job that he actually enjoys in a place that he likes living.  In other words, I don’t want my kid to end up like his old man.  I’ve lost a lot in my life and I have learned from those losses.  You know what I have learned from losing?  I’ve learned that losing sucks.  Period.  Sure, you win some and you lose some, but losing still sucks.  There is no redemption in losing.  You lose and then you work hard to improve and if you still lose after working hard and improving, give up and do something else.  Because losing sucks.  There is absolutely nothing you can do to make losing not suck, so avoid losing.  I know this isn’t possible, but it is a worthy pursuit.

My younger son plays in a kids basketball league at the YMCA.  His team played this past weekend, and his team lost.  These are 9 and 10-year-old kids.  And as my kid’s team is losing, I’m looking at the 9 and 10-year-olds on the other team and I start to dislike them immensely.  I dislike their smug little smiles and their cocky attitudes as they score more points.  Of course, their smiles aren’t really smug and their attitudes aren’t cocky, but it sure seemed like they were as they were kicking my kid’s team’s butts!  If my kid loses at 9 and 10-year-old basketball at the YMCA, he may be destined for a crappy existence in someplace like Scottsbluff, NE where he would have to work for over 100 years to make what the average professional basketball player makes in one year… and I want more for my kids than that…

See, I think of my current misery associated with life in the panhandle of Nebraska as being a direct result of the many loses and failures I have experienced over the course of my life. Because I am a loser, I am here.  If I were a winner, I would be living elsewhere doing something else and being paid exceptionally well to do it.  Currently, if I were to become fed up with my job and were to search for something else, what would I do? Maybe I could sell farm equipment; that sounds pretty rewarding, doesn’t it?  I could work at the sugar factory; there’s a dream come true!  I could maybe make slightly over minimum wage at Walmart; that would lead to my praying for God to strike me dead every working minute of every working day…

You see, winners don’t have to consider an entry-level job at Walmart as a real possibility for earning a living.  Real winners don’t even have to shop at Walmart.  So I’m a poor sport… I’m a sore loser… especially when it comes to my kids.  I want my kids to have completely Walmart-free futures…

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Jul 22

Last summer, the family and I went on a cruise for our summer vacation.  It took almost 3 years of scrimping and saving to accumulate enough money to go on this cruise.  It was an awesome experience and we had a good time.  However, since we went on the expensive cruise last summer, our plans for this summer’s vacation are a little less… well, less.

I had really hoped that by the time I reached my forties, I would be in a financial position to be able to take a decent vacation every summer.  Life and the panhandle of Nebraska had different plans for me, and we have to save up for a decent vacation every two or three years.  But, with our oldest son entering high school this fall and our youngest not really that far behind, we want to do something fun over the summer to create some memories before the boys are all grown up and far away from the panhandle leading their own successful lives.

This summer, for our family vacation, we are going camping.  Camping vacations are kind of our go-to vacation during the summers where we are saving up for a real vacation.  Now, we have been camping in Yellowstone National Park and Tetons National Park in Wyoming.  We have been camping in Estes Park, Colorado.   This summer, we thought we might do something different than a beautiful mountain retreat.  This summer, we are going camping near… Omaha.

Okay, we really didn’t plan on going to Omaha on purpose… not really.  The oldest boy is in this AYSO soccer thing and the one tournament that it looked like he would actually be able to participate in was in North Platte, NE the same week we were planning our vacation.  We still wanted to take a vacation, but we wanted the boy to be able to play in this tournament, so we decided to go camping in Mahoney State Park outside of Omaha.  We figured we could visit the Omaha Zoo and whatnot and stop in North Platte on our way back so the kid could get his soccer on.

Well, it turns out that the oldest boy’s age group didn’t have enough kids that could go to North Platte… that and the fact that they didn’t really have a coach.  I, being Johnny on the spot, already had made non-refundable reservations at Mahoney, so it looks like eastern Nebraska is our destination for this summer’s vacation.

Omaha…

Nebraska…

Does anyone really take a vacation in stinking Omaha?!?  Well, Adventurer Rich and his family are.  We’re trend setters like that.  Oh, who am I kidding…

Okay, so I’m sure we will have a good time on our vacation.  Any time spent with the family is fun… until the boys start fighting… and I lose it and yell at everyone… but there will be good moments.  Still, a vacation in Omaha seems a bit oxymoron-ish, but it is what it is.  It is an eye-opening exclamation that I need to make more money.

So, Adventurer Rich is looking for a way to make some additional income. I need to do something so the family and I can take real vacations every summer.  I’ve thought about delivering pizzas in the evening or something like that, but I’d like to make more money doing something that doesn’t completely suck.  I’ve tried a couple of different multi-level marketing things, and I just don’t have what it takes to be successful with those (people who are successful with MLM seem, to me, to be a touch annoying).  I don’t mind making people mad, but I really don’t want to annoy anyone…

I’ve messed around on Mechanical Turk, and the work there is kind of fun, but I really need to make more than a couple of bucks an hour or it’s really not worth my time doing it.  I’ve thought about writing articles for eHow or about.com, but I don’t really  know enough about anything to be able to write any articles that would benefit anyone.  “How to Put Your Walmart Shopping Cart in the Cart Corral, You Flipping Moron” probably wouldn’t get a lot of hits and, thus, would not really be a money maker.

sigh

Well, I’ll keep thinking on it.  Something will come to me, I hope.  In the meantime, I need to go pack.  Omaha awaits…

sigh

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Oct 21

Fall

A few years back, I had a job that required me to spend a large portion of my time behind the wheel of a truck.  Early mornings were common, and I’d drive a lot of miles before returning home.  One memory stands out in my head above all others from that period of my life, and I believe that memory helped shape my current attitude toward the community I currently call home.

The day I remember must have been really close to this time if year.  The leaves had mostly turned, early mornings demanded a slight scraping of frost from the windshield, and the jacket I wore to brace against the frigid morning breeze rested on the seat beside me before noon.  Fall in Nebraska is almost like two seasons in one: the pleasant, warm time while the sun brightens the day, and the crappy, cold time when the sun, too, has had its fill of Nebraska.  On this particular day, I had left at around 3:00 am for some early morning business in Kimball.  The business in Kimball didn’t take too awful  long, and I found myself driving back into Scottsbluff at around 11:00am.  As I drove north on Highway 71 and drove over the bridge spanning the meek North Platte River, I couldn’t help but notice all of the leaves that littered the side of the road.  The area around the river is one of the few places where you can find a multitude of trees all in one spot in western Nebraska, and a significant wind must have blown through the previous night.  I can not remember a time before nor after that day where I have seen an exodus of leaves along the roadside of that magnitude. I was so impressed that I actually pulled over to the side of the road and just stared at the leaves.

A light breeze blew, and the leaves tumbled and twirled along the embankment.  Brown leaves, yellow leaves,  and even some green leaves and the occasional red leaf — leaves of all shape and size, though mostly cottonwood leaves — bustled along in an attempt to find the final resting place where decay could completely consume them.  The leaves fascinated me.  They were just a bunch of stinking leaves, but they were beautiful in their own way.  As I watched the leaves, I realized that they had all come to this stretch of road in Scotts Bluff County, probably through no choice of their own (I don’t think leaves have “choice”, do they?) either to die or because they were already dead.

While watching the leaves from my truck by the bridge over the North Platte River, I remembered a man I had recently seen at Walmart.  A funny looking man standing back in the dairy section caught my eye.  From a distance, the man appeared to be quite well-off.  He appeared to be dressed in a nice suit with shiny shoes and a stunning little bowler hat.

“How odd for someone to be dressed like that in Walmart,” I thought to myself, “and it’s not even Sunday.”

As I pushed my shopping cart closer to the man, his clean, crisp image began to unravel.  The man’s suit was not really very nice at all; it was haggard and stained… and it smelled… smelled bad.  His shoes (although it was obvious that a great deal of care had gone into their shining) barely had any soles, his right toe peeked out from not only the right shoe but the right sock as well, and the frayed laces appeared to be just getting the job done of keeping the shoes on his feet.  The white sweat stain that circled the man’s bowler added to the appearance of age that the runs in the bowler’s fabric created.  The old man seemed to be in a hurry to find something.  As I passed him, however,  he offered a sincere, toothless smile as he gently touched the brim of his hat… then he bustled on his way.

The memory of the man faded, and once again I watched the leaves — the leaves whose sole remaining purpose was to become fertilizer for the next generation — the leaves whose final resting place may be a stretch of road in the panhandle of Nebraska.

My mind wandered again, this time to the overweight population of Scottsbluff.  In 2009, Quality Health ran an article titled “10 Fattest Cities in America.”  Scottsbluff (not a community that graces many “top ten” lists) with 31% of its population classified as obese, came in at number seven.  Seventh fattest city in America… there’s something to take pride in.  See what a little corn-fed beef and buttered corn on the cob can do for a community?  And don’t forget about the wonderful high fructose corn syrup!  Corn… it’s what for dinner… and it leads to obesity!  Maybe people here just don’t know how to take care of themselves.  Maybe people here just don’t care.  Maybe people in the panhandle of Nebraska are just trying to tumble and twirl through life and get what little pleasure they can along the way.  A lot of pleasure can be found in a couple of Big Macs with a large fries and a Coke.

As I continued to watch the bustling leaves, I started to get cold.  The leaves I watched put on quite a show, but I started to realize that they really weren’t as beautiful as I originally thought.  I began to suspect that, upon closer inspection, the leaves might actually be kind of gnarly — full of bug bites and patches of disease and torn flesh and broken dreams.  I thought of the people that I know who have a bachelor’s degree in this or a master’s degree in that, and they are stocking shelves at a grocery store or working as para-educators  or slinging a construction hammer.  The leaves weren’t searching for a fulfilling life there along the side of the road in Scottsbluff, NE; they were there because they were dying or dead.

My appetite for watching the leaves gone,  I  suddenly just wanted to go home.  Still chilly, I slid on my jacket from the seat beside me as I started the truck and bustled toward home with the dawning realization that I probably had a lawn full of leaves in need of raking…

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May 24

In my last post, I pointed out how both high school and college graduates are often (usually) unrealistically optimistic. That’s me, destroyer of young dreams… but I only tell them for their own good.  Better to have no dreams or to know that your dreams are probably unachievable than to dream and have those dreams shredded and left on the compost pile of life.  Did I just quote Shakespeare?  Wasn’t that in Hamlet?  … maybe not…

I felt kind of bad for presenting the future of most of these graduates as the miserable abyss that, for most of them, their lives are going to become.  I wanted to make a modest attempt, in my own very special and unique way, at letting them know that everything is gonna be alright.  Here we go…

Sometimes, my family worries about the level of pessimism (or, as I like to think of it, “realism”) that I display on my blog.  I spoke to my dad on the phone shortly after he read the last graduation post. He seemed slightly concerned.

Dad:  “Son, I bet people who don’t really know you think you’re very bitter.”

Me:  “Ya think?”

Dad:  “You’re really not that bitter , are you?”

Me:  “I thought you knew me.”

Dad:  “I do, I just have a hard time believing you’re that bitter.”

Me:  “Yeah, me sometimes too.”

Dad:  “I mean… you’re really not that bitter… are you?”

Me:  “Not always.  Sometimes, I sleep.”

Dad:  “… oh…”

Hahaha!

Nothing says “good times” like making your parents believe that they somehow failed you in your childhood and your current level of life-misery is all their fault.  No worries, Dad.  All of my pessimism is self-induced.  Life has taught me that it often sucks without any help from you… although the short-gene that you have passed on to me hasn’t helped.  How was I ever supposed to live out my dream of playing in the NBA when I come from short European stock?  But, you just passed on what was passed to you, so not really your fault  (I don’t want to piss off my dad… he’s one of 3 people who read this blog regularly.)

Ok, back to encouraging high school graduates.  I think part of the problem I see with the whole free education system is that, by the time you are finished with it, you are still way too young to have a decent idea what you want to do with the rest of your life.  “I’m going to be a doctor” or “I’m going to be a lawyer” you may say if you are one of them real smarty-pants-types… or you actually have parents with enough cash to help you get through medical or law school.  But, do you really want to be a doctor?  Do you really want to be a lawyer?  You’re 18-years old.  How can you really know what you want to do with the rest of your life?

You can’t.

When you are 18-years-old, you know you want an attractive person of the opposite sex to pay attention to you, you know you like hanging out with your friends, and you know that you like to eat food that, a couple of  years in the future, is going to end up straight on either your gut or your butt; this is what you know about life.  I’m 41-years-old, and I only really figured out what would have been pretty cool to do with my life a few years ago… and by then it was too late.

For my college education, I went the business route.  4-years and a lot of money went to Montana State University and the Bozeman community while I earned a bachelor of science in marketing.  Now, I knew I could make more money if I chose something like engineering, but I always had issues with science.  I didn’t enjoy it, so why would I want to apply it to my career for the rest of my life?  Teaching sounded okay, but kids who took the teaching path seemed to be looking for the easy route.  Besides, teachers don’t make squat, right?  Business… no crappy science, and good money, right?  Oh, how wrong I was.

There needs to be a large disclaimer when someone enrolls in a business program at the university level.  That disclaimer would read:

This degree does not guarantee any kind of future success.  This degree will most likely lead to some crappy job in sales or retail management.  If sales and/or retail management aren’t what you are looking for, chose another program of study!

Of course, this disclaimer does not exist… until now.  I am warning you, if you get a business degree (unless it is very specialized, like accounting) you will most likely wind up as an assistant manager at Walmart or trying to sell computer software to companies that don’t need it and who cringe every time they see you come through the door.  This is a proven fact… well, I don’t have proof, but I’m pretty sure it’s true, which is almost the same as fact, isn’t it?

So, I went through college, got a crappy retail management job, and jumped from crappy job to crappy job every couple years.  A few years ago, I realized that an education in literature would be more up my alley.  I’ve always liked reading and writing.  Maybe that teaching thing wouldn’t have been so bad.  Besides, as crappy as I perceived teacher pay to be at the time I was making career decisions… in reality, I’d be making a hell of a lot more if I had been teaching for the past 20 years than I am now… and I’d have my summers off.  Hindsight… it’ll kick your ass every time.

A few years ago, I figured, heck, why not try pursuing something that would be a little better fit with my personality.  I enrolled in an online graduate program through Fort Hays State University in Kansas.  I was gonna get me a Master of Liberal Studies with an emphasis in English.

“What could you do with that?” you may have asked.  Well, boy howdy, I could have taught English at a community college.

“How does that pay?” you may have asked.

“Like crap,” would have been my response, but I was going through a brief period of insanity in my life where I thought maybe money wasn’t everything.

I enrolled, took a couple of classes, loved the classes, started to get a fresh perspective on life, and then reality smacked me upside the head.  First of all, I stopped working for a company that had a really good tuition reimbursement plan, and college classes are not cheap.  Second, I realized that taking these classes was interfering with family time (and my kids aren’t going to be around forever… they will get out of high school and, I’m assuming, move as far away from the panhandle of Nebraska as possible).  Third, I realized that the odds of getting an actual job teaching English at a community college were pretty slim, and, even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to support a family on that kind of crappy pay.

See, even a seasoned pessimist like me can let stinking dreams and hope and all of that other positive garbage creep back in every once in awhile.  I’m just glad that dream got smacked down before it grew too large.  I was in my mid-30s when that one snuck in.  I’m in my 40s now and any silly hope of getting an education that would lead to some sort of life-happiness is a thing of the past.  Once you get family obligations and mortgages and car loans piled on you and once you get accustomed to a certain quality of life and start thinking about the prospect of being able to retire some day, going backwards financially to make silly dreams come true becomes what it really was all along… a pipe dream.

So, you may be wondering how these words can be construed as “encouragement” for recent high school graduates.  I’m not exactly sure.  I guess my words of encouragement would have to be:

DON’T STRESS IT!

Don’t stress the fact that everyone expects you to plan out the rest of your life through the choices you make at age 18.  Plans change.  Dreams change.  Hopes change.  And most importantly… YOU change.  You will not be the same person at age 28 that you are at age 18, and 38 is going to make 28 look like a total stranger.  You will see the world differently, you will value different things, and your passions may change hundreds of times before you leave life in this realm.  Very few choices that don’t involve death are permanent, and any wound that doesn’t kill you will heal.  Scars are badges of effort,  and it takes effort to survive.  Whether you accomplish your goals or realize your dreams, or if you end up living the disappointing life of the average mortal, you will get some scars along the way.  Wear them with pride.  They show that you made the effort.

Now, if you end up bitter and pissed at the world like me, I’m thinking I’m probably going to be looking for a protege to take over this blog in about 20 years (if I ain’t dead by then).  If you are 18 now, you’ll be 38 then (which is how old I was when I started this bad boy) and we may have to get together and discuss you taking over old Happy Stinking Joy.  See, even when your dreams are dead, you may still have something to look forward to… or not…

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Jan 13

I received a letter-of-resignation from one of our staff recently.  One of my coworkers is leaving the employment of the company I work for, packing up his family, and moving to Texas.  A better paying job with more opportunity awaits him in a climate that is more to his liking.  No one begrudges him the opportunity he is not letting pass him by.  In fact, the only mumblings around the office that have been created by his announcement are mumblings of slight jealousy.  He has done it… he has found a way out of Nebraska!

My coworkers and I seldom complain about the work we do on a daily basis (unless we have a particularly stressful day of telephone calls or the subcontractors we use for a majority of our service work are giving us grief).  We all seem to like our jobs.  We do, however, like to complain about living here.  We have come to the conclusion that, of our little staff of nine (soon to be eight), the majority of us are not completely in love with living here.  I figure that about 5% of the population here in the panhandle of Nebraska… a percentage that consists mostly those in the higher echelon of wages and stature, … actually “love” living here.  The other 95% of the residents of our area fall into one of two categories (please remember, there was no scientific research involved in the estimation of these percentages… just raw, gut instinct from a guy who likes to bitch) :

1: People who hate living here.  By hate, I mean anything from somewhat dislike to extreme, pull-your-hair-out hate.

2: People who are indifferent.

The second category are a bigger thorn-in-the-side of my attitude than the people who actually love living here (all 5% of them).  The indifferent people make excuses and self-justifications and talk down to those of us in category 1.  The lovers talk down to us as well, but at least it’s because they love it here and they don’t like us harshing their love mellow.  The indifferents talk down to us because our rants about the crappiness of Nebraska makes them think about their own pathetic existences here… and they don’t like that.

The indifferents don’t really like living here, but they come up with reasoning that can be difficult to follow.

“Why don’t you try to find the positive instead of always looking at the negative?”  Because “finding the positive” sounds like work, and why should one have to “work” to find joy in a community? If a community doesn’t offer joy, find a community that does.

“Instead of complaining, why can’t you try to appreciate what the panhandle has to offer?”  This is like having a turd on your dinner plate.  Now someone is telling you not to complain about the turd, and that you should realize that the turd actually has a small amount of nutritional value because of the undigested corn.  Pick the corn out of the turd and enjoy it instead of complaining about the turd.  Brings new meaning to living in the “cornhusker” state, doesn’t it?

“It’s negative people like you who make it difficult to live here!”  The villager who complains about the wolves coming in and eating the village’s sheep isn’t the cause of the lack of food and wool.  The villager who complains is bringing light to an issue that will not be solved if the other villager’s don’t realize there is a problem.  If no one complains about it, won’t get fixed.  Without the pessimist, the optimist has no bright side to look at… or, better yet, no dark side to look away from.

“If you don’t like it here, just leave!” Oh, if only life were so simple.  For some of us, there are children in school, mortgages to pay, job commitments, lack of funds for a move, and many other excuses that really do make it difficult to completely uproot lives in search of greener pastures.  Plus, I really feel like many of us who hate it here would love to not hate it here, but we don’t know how to institute the change necessary to make it better here.  For example, Scottsbluff and Gering are currently two separate communities with two separate governments, school systems, law enforcement agencies, etc.  Combining the two communities seems like it would benefit both communities by saving tax-payer money and by attracting new employers and jobs with a single community of about 25,000 instead two separate communities of less than 20,000.  Problem is, the morons in Gering want nothing to do with the jerks across the river in Scottsbluff.  In fact, the residents of Gering feel so strongly about “keeping their own identity” that they voted out the mayor who was in favor of starting to consolidate the two communities in favor of the hot-head who is all about keeping the communities separate.  So Gering took one step forward by electing Susan Weideman and then took twenty steps backward by electing Ed Mayo.  Opening the eyes of the people who don’t really want to see the communities grow and thrive as one, but who instead view the two communities as rivals, is a difficult, if not impossible, task to overcome.  So, if we don’t like it, we’re supposed to leave; and many of us do leave and the population continues to stagnate… and no one can quite figure out how to fix this!?!  We are just doing what you tell us to do!

I’m not usually one who gets too deeply involved in the whole positive/negative energy thing.  However, there really does seem to be a negative energy in this place.  Don’t believe me?  Try spending a couple of hours at the Scottsbluff Walmart on the first weekend of the month when all of the government-assisted shoppers are loading up and you will know the meaning of the words “negative energy”.  Given the fact that such a large percentage of the population here is either negative or indifferent, the negative energy thrives.  At times, you can actually feel it washing over you.  I can feel it, can you?

Happy Stinking New Year…

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Dec 25

If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, stay away from Nebraska!

I can remember the Christmases of my youth in Montana: Christmas days filled with sledding and snow-fort building and snowball fights and ice skating.  These are fond memories that my children will most likely only experience on the rare “Christmas visit to the extended-family in Montana.”  My boys will grow to adulthood thinking of Christmas as a time of brown grass covering the earth and patches of dead leaves that avoided the rakes of fall.  Dust and dirt, brown on brown… nothing screams “Christmas” like the colors of death and decay.  This is Christmas in Nebraska.

When most of us think of Christmas, reds and greens and whites (is there more than one?) fill our imaginations.  Red represents the blood of Christ that was spilled for our sins.  Green stands for life, the eternal life found through Christ’s sacrifice.  White is for snow; snow that covers the earth and hides all imperfections, just like Christ.  Brown is for… uh… well… there really is no “brown” in the Christmas color-scheme.  Brown is reminiscent of… crap?  Crap that life can be without Christ, I guess.  Or, maybe a donkey in the manger or something.

Southern states can boast of the green of year-round vegetation and temperate weather, and I can see how Christmas could be enjoyable down there what with the reminder of the eternal life that awaits us.  Northern states are covered in the virgin snow that reminds us of the love of God.  Central states, like Nebraska, remind us that this life can be a pile of crap and, I don’t know… maybe that we can expect donkey-rides in heaven?!?

Christmas should be all about Christ.  This time of year, we get caught up in the gift-giving and the gift-receiving and the food and the extended mid-day naps (ok… so that’s probably just me).  We all remind each other to remember the true meaning of the  Christmas, and then we head out to buy that one last present, or we run to Walmart to get that last box of Jello for the salad.

I’m gonna keep this post short, because I don’t want to complain too much on the day we set aside to remember the birth of Christ.  I’m going to try to end this post in a positive manner in tribute to the ultimate sacrifice of our savior.  As I look out the window at the brown grass and the blowing dead leaves, I shake my head and try to think positive.  It’s too cold outside to enjoy the lack of snow, but it’s not cold enough to go ice fishing or ice skating.  Brown upon brown upon brown… I guess riding a donkey would be kinda fun…

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Dec 04

My wife has this crazy ritual of getting up well before the butt-crack of dawn on the Friday after Thanksgiving and, with her sister, heading out to various retail locations to fight mobs of people for a very limited amount of sale items. I love my wife, and I know she is muy inteligente almost all of the time… but this yearly ritual makes me doubt her sanity.  In fact, she and her sister sit down after Thanksgiving dinner and draw out a game plan (war plan?) for the following day’s shopping blitz.   They almost always gets what they were shopping for, and they always have interesting stories to relay to the men-folk (who are usually just crawling out of bed upon the return of the shoppers).

There was apparently some hot deal at Walmart that had people lined up all the way back into the laundry soap aisle.  Apparently, there was a pair of young couples who had the foresight to grab some folding chairs from  the “folding chair” aisle at Walmart, and these couples had set-up camp in the laundry soap aisle.  By “set up camp”, I mean they had their Walmart folding chairs strung across the aisle and their laps and the shelves beside them loaded with some McDonald’s fast food and other heart-healthy treats.  And, according to the wife, each couple had a baby with them, and each mother was breast-feeding her baby… right there in the laundry soap aisle… sitting on the Walmart folding chairs.

Of course, being a guy, I’m thinking to myself, “uh huh huh… breastfeeding… that’s cool.”

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Feast

The wife, sensing the smirk on my face and the glazing of my eyes says, “Remember, this was in the laundry soap aisle at Walmart.”

“So, they weren’t hot?” I ask.

“Seriously… the laundry soap aisle at Walmart… what do you think.”

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...uh...feast?

After clearing the image from my head, I let the wife continue with her story.  Apparently at 5am, the Walmart people cut the shrink wrap off of the “special item” and the laundry-soap aisle cleared quickly.  The trailer trash that had set-up camp in aisle seven left as quickly as everyone else… leaving behind an aisle and shelves filled with chairs from another department (for all other shoppers to navigate around), their uneaten fast-food remnants, and a bunch of trash.  Seriously, someone needed to yell at these trashtastic couples, “Really?!?… I have to watch your ugly kids suck on your ugly wives’ knockers, and now I have to move through your filth to make it down this aisle?”  This would probably have led to the trailer trash yelling obscenities (’cause that’s what trailer trash does) and the holiday season could have started with a real bang!  The amount of disrespect that certain people seem to exude at any given opportunity is one of the reasons that I do not venture out on the morning of Black Friday.

According to the wife, the shoppers at Walmart were actually quite pleasant this year.  The real jerks seemed to be the upper class shoppers at Menards.  Apparently the upper class isn’t used to having to venture out early on a Friday morning and deal with other shoppers en masse in attempt to complete their holiday shopping in an cost-effective manner.  Thanks, crappy economy 😀  I love it when the beginning of the Christmas season brings out the worst in people… which is what it’s all supposed to be about anyway, right?  Apparently the Menards shoppers were pretty careless with their carts full of appliances and… bean bag chairs (I don’t know what marketing genius came up with the grand idea of  having a Black Friday special on some stupid 70’s relic that easily can load up a shopping cart and make it very difficult to see where one is going when one is loaded up on them, but he/she should maybe find something else to do career-wise).  A bunch of pissed-off people pushy around carts full of crap and not being able to see (nor apparently caring) where they are going… sounds like fun, huh?  Yeah, if I had been there and some inconsiderate boob had banged me with his/her cart, there would have been a tipped over cart flying down an aisle and a string of obscenities flying from my lips (’cause I’m kinda trailer trash like that 😀 )

People, in general, tend to suck.  I’m pretty sure that many of the really sucky ones come out early on Black Friday morning… so I find it’s best just to avoid it.

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Feb 24

Anyone who has spent any time on my blog knows that I am pretty much good for nothing.  I complain a lot, and I’m relatively good at complaining… in fact, if complaining were an occupation, there is a good chance I would finely be at the top of my game career-wise, ’cause I am, in my humble opinion, a top-notch bitcher.  Ok, so I’m not good for nothing!  I’m a good… no, a GREAT…  bitcher!  Man, if only the world could compensate me for this talent.  That’s what I want on my tombstone: “Not Good for Much, But Boy Could He Bitch!”

Anyway, I had an experience a couple of weeks ago that got the complain-mechanism in my brain all fired up and ready to go.  In fact, I was so torqued, I had to wait a couple of weeks just to prevent this post from becoming a spewing geyser of venomous hate… which it still runs the risk of becoming.  I promise, I’ll try to be civil.

I was feeling adventurous and was going to try our a new recipe.  In order to follow this recipe, I needed some Italian sausage links.  Since we had none of these links at home, I was forced to drive to a grocery store.  The closet grocery store to my house was a local store called Panhandle Coop, so I drove to Coop in an attempt to save time.  I figured I could pick up about 3 packaged of Italian sausage for about $3.00 each.

I walk into Coop and head to the meat department.  I walk up to the section that contains the Italian sausage and the crap is like $5.00 per pack.  I turn around, grumbling loudly to myself and I leave the stinking store.  “Hometown friendly my $#*!,” I grumble.

I drive a couple of blocks over to Safeway.  I almost never shop at Safeway, because I feel like their name should really be “Wanna-Shop-Here-Then-Bend-Over-And-Take-Our-Exorbitantly-High-Prices-Like-A-Convict-Reaching-For-The-Soap-Way.”  But maybe… just maybe… they are having a sale or something.  After all, I have one of their pain in the $#*! Club Cards!  I like to think of people who shop at Safeway as mostly mentally-deficient, because only those with brain damage would pay twice what something is worth just have the store pretty much to themselves while they shop.

Ok, so I walk into Safeway and I make my way to the meat department.  I walk up to the Italian sausage section and… GLORY… they have Italian sausage on sale for $2.99 a package.  I grab 3 packs from right behind the sign (this is particularly important and will come into play a little later) and I head to the counter.

I’m fumbling through my wallet searching for that stinking Club Card as the pimple-faced checker rings-up my sausage.  I hand him the card and he swipes it.

“That’ll be $17.97,” croaks pimple-face.

“Should be like 9 bucks,” I tell him.  “It’s on sale.”

He looks over at the cashier next to him and holds up my sausage, “Is this on sale?” he asks.

“No, not that one,” says next-door pimple-face.

“I’ll show you,” I say and I start walking back to the stinking meat department.

Me and my pimple-face get to the meat department and I point triumphantly at the sign which boldly proclaims that Italian sausage is on sale for $2.99 per package… and then I notice in very small print that it’s the Safeway brand of sausage that’s on sale.  I had grabbed Johnsonville, which isn’t on sale even though the Johnsonville is the only sausage I can find in the meat cooler.

“I want the stuff that’s on sale,” I say.

“Yeah, we’re out of that,” says pimple-face rather a little too smugly for my taste.

“Then why is the sign still up and why is the Johnsonville piled up behind the sale sign?” I ask.  “Can’t you honor the marked sale price with the product that is displayed?”

“No, that sausage isn’t on sale,” says Smugly van Pimple-face.

“Screw Safeway,” I say and make for the door, grumbling and unleashing expletives as I storm past the manager at the customer service counter as I realize that Safeway having a customer service counter is somewhat like Payless Shoes having an airplane repair counter.

“But Payless Shoes doesn’t offer airplane repair,” you may say.

Exactly.

I get in my car and I drive five mile to stinking Walmart.  I get out of the car and hike like 1/2 mile to the meat department.  I grab 3 packages of $3.00 Italian sausage and go to the checkout.  I don’t have to get dig out any stupid cards, I pay my $9.00, and I leave.  If I had just gone to Walmart in the first place, I would have saved time, I would have put less wear and tear on my car, and my blood pressure would have stayed within a safe range.

Ok, so the safe bet is to avoid all of the other retarded grocery stores and shop at Walmart, right?  Moral presented in a solid fashion, correct?  I thought so, until a couple of days later.

The family and I decide that the dry, itchy skin we are all experiencing needs to come to an end, so the oldest boy and I head out to buy some water softener salt for our water softener (which has been out for awhile because… uh, well, because I’m lazy, I guess.)  But the boy and I play it smart.  We don’t go to Coop, we don’t bother with Wanna-Shop-Here-Then-Bend-Over-And-Take-Our-Exorbitantly-High-Prices-Like-A-Convict-Reaching-For-The-Soap-Way, we head straight to Walmart.  We park the car, head into the store, and make our way right to… where… the… water…softener… salt… used… to… be…

“Where in the crap is the water softener salt?” I ask the boy.

The boy shrugs and gets that oh-man-Dad-is-getting-mad-and-is-going-to-embarrass-me-in-public look on his face.

Our Walmart recently went through a remodel, which means that they put down new floors, moved everything in the store to a different location, and cut their selection way back… after all, they have already capitalized on offering a great selection and low prices and they have most people in the area trained to shop there, so why would they want to go through the expense of offering any sort of selection anymore?  Walmart know better what you need to buy than you do… trust them, they are Walmart!

Finally spying an elusive Walmart employee, I ask where the softener salt has been moved to.  The employee points out that the salt has been moved to the opposite end of the store, so the boy and I trek that direction.

After loading our cart up with softener salt, we head to the checkouts (which, it is not easy to push a cart full of bags of water softener salt through Walmart.)  After paying for the crap, we start to make our way out of the store, struggling with that stupid cart full of heavy softener salt.  I’m about to leave the building when one of the ‘greeters’ yells, “Excuse me… sir… sir…” and I finally realize that the dude is yelling at me “… I’m going to need to check your receipt!”

“What?”  I ask.

“I’m going to need to check your receipt.”

“You think I’m stealing a cart full of water softener salt?” I ask.

“I’m sorry, I need to see your receipt.”

“Of course,” I spew.  “I’m shopping at Walmart, therefore, I am the kind of person who would steal, right.”  I’m pretty hot.  Go into flipping Walmart, spend your hard earned money, and be treated like a criminal for it!  I HATE Walmart.

“Well, if you are shopping at Walmart, you are the one that is being robbed,” says greeter-dude.  He smiles.  He puts his hand on my shoulder as he delivers his lame attempt at calming me down.

The boy pulls the hood of his hoodie up over his head and heads straight for the parking lot.

I’m not a violent man… mostly because I’m kind of a wimp and fear getting the snot kicked out of me… but this Walmart dude is about to lose his hand!  And then, in a brief moment of clarity, I realize that this poor sap is stuck greeting ticked-off Walmart customers and making sure that the thieves aren’t running rampant through the front doors of Walmart.  His employment at Walmart is punishment enough for his hand touching my person.  I let him check my receipt, proving to him that not every nincompoop that graces the front stoop of Walmart is out to rob the stinking store blind (but… if you’ve ever looked around Walmart, you must realize that many of the shoppers in a Walmart are the kind of people that you would search if they spent a few minutes in you house, and by shopping at Walmart, we apparently put ourselves in the same class as this trash, and we should feel happy being treated like thieves by the greeters at Walmart after we’ve spent our hard-earned money to support their employment!)

The boy and I get home and I relay the experience to the wife.

“You shouldn’t act like that in front of the boy,” she says.  “You’re setting a bad example… and it embarrasses him.”

So, I’m coming to the holy revelation that I am meant to stay away from grocery stores, and the final anchor in this feeling was pounded home the other night.  My favorite ice cream in the entire world is Ben & Jerry’s Pistachio Pistachio Ice Cream.  There is no better treat on the planet.  We seldom have this treat.  I know that 2 of the 4 grocery stores in our little berg do not carry this particular slice of heaven because they suck!  That leaves us with Walmart and… heaven forbid… Safeway.  After a great meal, the wife says, “Wouldn’t some Pistachio Pistachio be good right about now?”

“Oh yeah, that would be AWESOME,” I say… because I am a dorky product of the 80s.

“Well, Walmart doesn’t carry it anymore,” says the wife.  “Since their remodel, they went from carrying about every flavor of Ben & Jerry’s to, I think, like, six flavors.”  After all, Walmart knows better what you want to buy that you do yourself.

“What!,” I cry.  If Walmart doesn’t carry my Pistachio Pistachio… and stinking Panhandle Coop doesn’t carry my Pistachio Pistachio… and the stupid Nash Finch store doesn’t carry Pistachio Pistachio… that leaves stinking Safeway, where I recently swore not another of my hard-earned pennies would be spent!

Needless to say, I called Safeway, they had Ben & Jerry’s Pistachio Pistachio Ice Cream, and the wife ran to their store and spent, I believe, about $20.00 for a pint of my favorite ice cream.

The moral of the story is… who knows?!?  Corporate American SUCKS!  Walmart SUCKS!  Panhandle Coop and Nash Finch SUCK!  I would honestly consider voting democrat if it meant our local grocery stores would stop being so stinking SUCKY and actually put the wants… no, I say, needs of the customers right up there alongside their stinking PROFITS (uh… ok, me vote democrat… hahaha… that may be pushing it… hahaha… I’m upset, I didn’t have a lobotomy.)

I guess the moral of the story has to be the same as the title of this post: Safeway SUCKS!

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