An Otherwise Eventful Sunday Pt. II: Bonnaroo

I was well prepared both mentally and physically for this particular adventure.

I loaded the Saturn with a brand new rolling Rubbermaid cooler, a 24 pack of water, my own water thermos, a knife (in case a knife fight ensued), assorted snacks, a few handmade signs, and a dozen copies of Vagrants in Paradise. Anything less than getting into Center Roo and selling half the books would not be acceptable.

As I made the turn onto the curving road leading to the promised land, I saw a line of cars backed up. This was no surprise. However, there was no line to leave, which I found odd for a Sunday with a festival of Bonnaroo’s magnitude. While stuck in line, I put the car in park and retrieved a few books from my bag, which was wedged inside a tomato cage I had in the back seat. I kept eyes all around for walkers. Not more than eight minutes sitting in the line, a group of scraggly tie-dye folks descended down the hill soon to pass my open window.

“Hey guys, anybody interested in a funny nonfiction book by a semi-local author?” I asked, holding the book out of the window.

They all stopped and mumbled their indifference, except one guy.

“Yeah man, cool. Local like Manchester?” He asked.

“Nope, Nashville.” I said.

I quickly took note of his crystal blue crossed eyes, and acknowledged his tweaked out southern demeanor.

“My grandaddy actually owns this farm- well he done sold it, but this wa’ his land. I been comin’ here damn near e’rry year nah.” He said with his thick rural Tennessee twang.

I went along with it, which for all I knew was the truth. I was asking $15 for the book.

“Man I think I got $12. That work?” He asked.

Of course I accepted, making my first sale while I was sitting in traffic. I was stoked.

“Well hey mang find me on Facebook and check out my outdoor clothing line, Riverside Outdoor Gear it’s called.” I completely made that name up but it was something along those lines. He patted me on the shoulder as I told him I’d check it out.

His posse strolled ahead as we did our transaction, and I hopped out to grab an ice cold water for him to show my appreciation. He was much obliged, and we went on with our day. One down, eleven to go.

As I crept up the line closer and closer, my arms and face baked in the sun, I noticed a residential home with a “$5 Parking” sign in their yard. Angels, these people. They could’ve charged $20 easy, as it was mere yards away from the entrance. This was great, as the dreadful parking monkey was now off my back.

A young girl eagerly hopped off of her lawn chair to greet me as I pulled in, while her parents glistened with sweat sitting under an oak tree, raking in the easy money.

I grabbed my backpack, pulled out the rolling cooler of water bottles from my trunk, and strolled over to the entrance with no elaborate plan to get in.

I entered the gravel area where a line of about ten white tents stood for car and bag inspections. Regardless of the lengthy line to get in, this area was not congested. I casually strolled over to a young man and woman.

The man sat and the girl very blankly and unenthusiastically had me take off my bag as she unzipped and peered in.

“What’re all these books? You’re not trying to sell these are you?” She asked.

“No, no. I was going to hand them out, it’s no big deal.” I said.

She was very skeptical, as I stood there with my folded cardboard signs I wrote on that would completely go against my statement had she bothered questioning that.

“Wait. Where’s your wristband? You don’t even have a wristband.” Now she was really catching on.

“Well, I was hoping since it’s midday Sunday that I could maybe just go in?” I asked with a smile.

“Um, no, you absolutely can not.” She was far from amused.

I then went to the little trailer where a completely stoned bro sat selling weekend passes. It was a brief and useless encounter. I went back to the car to reevaluate.

It was clear I needed a bracelet. I left the cooler in my trunk, and decided to walk the opposite direction to post up and tap my wrist to the passers by.  I stood by a fire hydrant with a good pull-off area ahead, laid out a few books, and held my hardly legible sign referring to the books.

After not even fifteen minutes of waving and smiling and tapping, a pimple-faced teen was soon to cross my path.

“Hey man you leaving?” I asked.

“Yeah.” The sun reflected like a tractor beam off of this young ginger boy’s braces.

“Can I have your bracelet?” I asked.

“Yeah, sure.” He said, with a tone suggesting his brains were fried like green tomatoes.

“Do you read?” I asked.

I ended up swapping one of my books for the bracelet. Another success. Small victories were adding up quick under the punishing sun.

With that I knew I was set. The barrier was broken. With a cheerful heir, I strolled back to the car. Considering I was wearing a collared lobster shirt and striped shorts, I thought I may look a bit too familiar to security, especially given the brief time frame. I happened to have pants and a long sleeve flannel shirt, which was going to be rough in the heat, but it had to be done. I threw on my Ween hat and new clothes, stuffed about six water bottles in with the books, and was about to leave when a man who saw me on the road moments ago came up and bought a book from me.

This time I was sure to go to the security the farthest away from the first soulless girl.

I strutted up with great confidence and set my bag down, jiggling my orange Volunteer wrist band around so he’d see I was legit.

Again the question came.

“What’re all these books? You can’t sell these here.” The man said.

“Oh no I know, some guy was handing them out so I took a bunch.” I said, switching it up a bit from the first time.

“Well either way you can’t have more than ten of the same thing. We have to consider that illegal vending. Could you count them for me please?” The guy asked.

I was more than happy to, knowing I came with a dozen and sold three. I counted nine, and with that, I penetrated the nucleus of the festival with a feeling of great success. I knew my best bet would be to peddle my wares to the campers, and those gearing up to leave. Approaching people in the actual festival would likely prove difficult. Nobody wants to buy a book with all the stimulation going on 360 degrees around them. Campers, however, would be hanging loose and away from the madness.

I asked a few people along the way who declined before finding a group of greyed older men, and a couple in their thirties. There was a neon sign that read “Bar” with a Martini glass hanging on their tent pole. I smiled at one of the guys as I passed.

“Is the bar still open?” I asked in jest.

“Hell yeah it is! You want a beer?” A man who could’ve been Keith Richards’ brother answered. It was shortly after I took a seat on the grass and cracked open a Yuengling that I told them that I was trying to sell my book. After a brief discussion explaining it, four of them ponied up the dough and wanted them signed.

Dear Rick….Dear Pete…Dear Jana…” I was loving it.

“I’ll be able to say I met you when you were just a wandering Bonnaroo book salesman when you get big!” Rick said with a laugh.

“Damn right! And you can sell that signed copy for like, $15!” I said.

We shared some laughs as I gulped the final warm swig of my beer. I thanked them as I got up and decided to put book peddler mode on hold, so I could indulge in the music and sights to behold.

I caught some Margo Price, Umphrey’s McGee, and Royal Blood, who I’d never heard of, but they laid down some heavy British rock from the main stage.

I decided I would enjoy the rest of the festival and bask in the success of selling seven books and getting in for free, or rather, getting paid to be there. Determination and motivation proved successful on this endeavor, as I knew it would. Handing out water bottles to a select portion of thirsty and thankful Roo Dwellers also brought about contentment.

I was on an incredible high both literally and figuratively, especially as I had eaten next to nothing all day, and had my skull baked for many hours. I was engulfed in the festival feel.

On my way out I made half-assed attempts to sell a few more books which didn’t work, and I was fine with it. As I walked out, I made a point to wave to the girl who wouldn’t let me in initially. She was blank and perplexed. I won.

I drove westbound on 24 chasing the magnificent colored sunset, basking in recent events. I noticed strips of rubber on the side of the road that looked like black pythons glistening in the sun. My high maintained but would be brought back to reality, as I kept seeing dark and ominous signs for a gun company on what seemed to be every billboard. I was reminded of my surroundings, that of a conservative southern red state, which couldn’t have been farther from my reality. One sign read, “Yes, Silencers are Legal.” These signs all had huge pictures of different guns, with dark several word tag lines. It was a quick shift in realities.

Regardless, I was psyched to have more books out in the world. I made it home to watch the deflation of the entire city of Nashville as the Pittsburgh Penguins brought home a second consecutive Stanley Cup. It was a bitter ending to such an otherwise eventful Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An Otherwise Eventful Sunday Pt. I: Mike the Pharmacist

I went to bed Saturday night as Paul the Jack of Some Trades, and woke up Sunday morning Mike the Pharmacist. (the latter has a better ring to it)

Let me explain.

While scanning the infinite wonders of Craigslist, namely the gigs section, I saw something in the Creative category that caught my eye. The title was along the lines of, “Help me win back my girlfriend.” Naturally I clicked on this.

Long story short, this desperate 30 year-old man paid me one hundred dollars, yes $100, to visit the diner where his kind-of girlfriend worked, and simply introduce myself as Mike the Pharmacist, say I’m a friend of his, and casually slip in positive things about him and nice things he’s said about her. That was all.

Of course I initially thought this was a bogus post, but when I requested an initial deposit, he did it gladly. The dude was legit.

I completely took this as a great opportunity to showcase my acting abilities, and put another feather in the cap, if you will.

I went to the downtown multi-level diner, rode the elevator to the 4th floor, and chatted with Courtney, the hostess, for all of 45 seconds. I expected her to say they weren’t together, but she was happy and chipper and made it sound like all was well. She did mention some misunderstandings and them “projecting their insecurities on each other”, but that was it. Of course it’s only logical this girl wouldn’t want to open up in grand detail to a complete stranger about her love life while she’s working.

She brought me to a table where I drank a crisp ice water pretending to wait on friends, before I told the waitress I had my times mixed up. I was sure to leave a few bucks for the water and shenanigans. I texted him and let him know the painstaking job was complete, and to let me know if there’s anything else I could do. I gave him ten minutes to respond, which he didn’t. Out to the bustling city streets I went, back in the thick of CMA Fest, only to hit the road to Bonnaroo for the next order of business.

I would find out later I, somehow, was of immeasurable assistance, and I’d never know how much I helped. He happily paid me. Mike the Pharmacist proved to be a smashing success. And then it was time to be Paul the Book Peddler.

 

Libraries Are Cooler Than You

Right now I’ve got Leonard Cohen’s Death of a Ladies’ Man spinning in my computer, soon to be secured in my iTunes for my future listening pleasure. Death of a Ladies’ Man joins about a hundred other albums I’ve transferred via Compact Disc to my music library, thanks to gift that keeps on giving, the actual library.

You can rock your skinny jeans and scarves or flat-brim caps and Lonzo Ball sneakers all day long, but you’ll never be as legit as a library. As the old adage goes, it’s what’s in the inside that counts, not the outside- or whatever.

I was recently interviewed for a documentary on libraries whilst at the 7th Annual Gonzo Fest in Louisville, and I was reminded just how badass libraries really are. No, I’m not necessarily talking about the hush hush environment, lack of activity around you or perhaps the pungent old man in a muscle shirt and gym shorts next to you. But just consider all of the information and content stirring that might as well be alive within the library walls. Thousands of books of all kinds both in text and audio, rows and rows of free music via CD to help you drift downstream, and the plethora of FREE movies and TV shows on Digital Video Discs to capture your eyeballs and brains. A wealth of free entertainment that will help you forget the world, your job, your lame boyfriend, your debt, your dog that wakes you up multiple times throughout the night to go to the bathroom (that may or may not be specific to me) and so on. There is much knowledge to behold. And again in case you didn’t catch that it’s all FREE FREE FREE.

Just don’t forget to return them on time or you’ll wind up with a casino-sized debt like me. The library pit bosses are still on my ass about Good Will Hunting and Mrs. Doubtfire.

And don’t give me that new age rubbish that books, DVDs and CDs are out of style and value. To hell with your iPods, iPads, Kindles, MP3s, Laser Discs, Tamagotchi and so forth. It doesn’t get much more convenient than getting a seemingly endless supply of media and information for no cost, and little moving. I know how lazy us Americans are and we want our Game of Cards and House of Thrones with a half-click of a button, but come on. Libraries need more recognition for their infinite power, wisdom, and resource.

Now I use my phone and computer plenty, but you don’t need to be a slave to Apple and Verizon. Challenge yourself, and make a conscious effort to take a break from the screens and their infinite and often useless distractions. Set up a hammock and get lost in a book. The library will lend you that book, and heck, maybe even the hammock.

Not to mention that libraries are a fantastic haven to focus and work. It’s a solid place to collect your thoughts and “work from home.” If you feel cooped up, just take a stroll to your neighborhood library. No distractions from your dogs or cats or birds or frogs or children, nor temptation to pop on some Sportscenter or Price is Right “in the background.” Yeah coffee shops are okay for that too, but they won’t have any Roy Orbison CDs for you to put on your computer.

It’s time to give libraries their due, and recognize them for the quiet fortresses of stimulation they really are.

In the Louisville library interview, I was asked multiple questions, the last being do I think libraries should remain free and open to the public, or privatized and require a nominal fee. That was an absolute no-brainer. Charge the bastards an arm and a leg.

Just kidding.

It would be a sad, sad day if libraries turn to the dark side and pull such a move. We’d truly be facing the end of times. I hope that isn’t even a legitimate option, but seeing what’s transpired in recent history, anything is possible. Pigs will fly in no time. In fact they already have…

So do yourself a favor, and next time you pay your Direct TV bill, splurge on iTunes and at Barnes and Noble, finding yourself without extra spending money, remember: your neighborhood library will welcome you with open doors. (unless they’re closed)

 

 

Separating Music From Character

There’s long been debate and uncertainty around how we should feel about legendary (or not so legendary) musicians who have made some poor life decisions.

I recently read an article that brings to light character issues of iconic musicians, paralleled with their musical accomplishments and view in the public eye. It discussed people holding high praise for certain musicians while ignoring their personal wrongdoings. But here’s the thing: the praise is generally for the music, not necessarily the person. Sure it differs, but the general consensus is BECAUSE of the music, they earn the praise. Nobody would give a shit about Elvis if he didn’t make groundbreaking music. The article didn’t sit well with me, so I was compelled to write this.

It’s pretty damn hard to hate timeless music, period. Especially if you are someone heavily steeped in the music world, be it a diehard fan and/or fellow musician or whatever. Some (weirdos) like music as much as they like a cup of tea- they can take it or leave it.

BUT.

A lot of people grow close with music, and get the wind knocked out of them when they find out a particular musician they love does something bad, if not heinous. It can suck. The trouble is the gray area of what’s forgivable and what’s not.

I believe the right thing to do is to acknowledge a separation of music and character, just like church and state. It’s a bummer when you love somebody’s music and find out later they married their 13 year old cousin (looking at you Jerry Lee Lewis) or allegedly molested children (no need for a name drop there) or whatever. Musicians can do things that are awful and often times unforgivable, just like anybody else. That can and will often hinder an artist’s fan base and general outlook on that individual, and rightfully so, and if you love their music, you’re in a pickle.

Bask in the pickle.

Accept that people aren’t perfect and make mistakes. You don’t have to defend these people in court to enjoy their music. Not to mention much of what we hear are allegations, and we have little idea of the reality of said situations that can make a person, in this case a musician, “a bad person.”

This isn’t to say people should embrace or condone their behavior.

If you’re really put off by the actions of a musician you love, maybe stop buying T-shirts, concert tickets, hats, pins, buttons, cufflinks, MP3s, cassettes or whatever people get these days. Either way, you don’t have to like their character to like their music, as synonymous as the two can be.

Picture this: you’re at a wedding, or maybe a bar with your friends, and Michael Jackson plays. You love to drink and dance and be merry. Are you going to sit and protest? If you’re at a rock n’ roll club and the band plays a Stones cover, are you going to protest and sit down because Mick was a serial womanizer? Will you, hypocrite who lives to criticize and judge? Doubtful.

The “sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll” perception exists for a reason, folks. More often than not, music isn’t about being a boy scout/ girl scout. Lord knows these people aren’t saints otherwise they might’ve chosen the convent or monastery.

Per usual, it all boils down to individual choice. Just like every debate there ever was. The perceptions of the person. The individual. They either will be swayed or not. It can be a mental conflict, but it is what it is. Either you stop liking the music or you don’t. Either way, take comfort in knowing your opinion likely isn’t worth a dime. Just like mine.

So. Does it make you a bad person because you like music of somebody who did bad things? No and who cares. It’s about the music. Good people make good music. Good people make bad music. Bad people make bad music. Bad people make good music. That’s just the way it is. Now scram I gotta eat dinner.

Take a Permanent Vacation Pt. I

Well I got into another fight with an old woman. At least this time fists weren’t involved. Just kidding. They were. (the shaking of fists, that is) This lady, maybe late 60s, began by waving her skinny wrinkled Slim Jim arms with wild intent to get my attention. Every time somebody feels the need to flail about in their seat for my attention I look at them with a blank face and make them wait at least another thirty seconds. I gave my last shit many moons ago with this establishment and the jackals inside.

“What else do I need to do to get your attention?” She said in a most condescending elitist tone.

“Sit there patiently and be motionless?” I said with a bit of snark.

She laughed a most high society, nose in the air laugh.

“Tell me young man what can you tell me about these Rosés?”

“They suck. Just kidding!” I went on to explain.

Her husband sat back letting out some sly remarks here and there, but the queen beach rat was the head honcho in this situation.

“Bring me some ice, would you dear?”

“We don’t have ice.”

“Don’t have ice? How bizarre! What kind of place do you run here?” She began laughing again.

“Yes a little strange perhaps, but we are a wine bar. We don’t cater to the 3% that wants ice to dull down their wine. Apologies madamè.”

There would be another time or two with her flailing those dehydrated beef stick arms for my attention, but gears started to switch towards the end of their visit. Things were finishing on a reasonable note, and I even joked with the husband about his youthful picture on his credit card compared to his current old ass self.

They cashed out and left. No big thing. Moments later they saunter back because of a flight delay. This time they take a seat closer to the bar. The woman makes a remark about them being back. I continue to keep busy for a minute. Then things start to get ugly again.

“HELLLOOOOOO! Did you think we just came back here to sit down?” My blood began to boil and I took a deep breath.

“Oh wow you’re back I hardly noticed!” I hollered over the counter with a teeth-gritting laugh. I walked over to them.

“So what can I get you this time?” I had my hands in my pockets sure to look as disinterested as possible.

“Crossings Sauvignon Blanc and make sure it’s COLD.” The man said.

“Oh I’ll be sure to find the warmest possible bottle. Hell I’ll even pop it in the microwave for ya!” I said in devious jest. Of course we had literally just ran out of the Rosé ol’ mechanically separated beef arms had.

“Well could I get a taste of the other one?”

“No.”

I didn’t feel like telling her why. Truth is we aren’t allowed to give tastes which is unfortunate but it’s a corporate wine bar in an airport, what do you expect.

“You know what? I’m pissed off now. No ice, you run out of the wine I JUST had, and I can’t taste the damn wine? You guys REALLY need to rethink your setup here this is just awful.”

“I encourage you to contact some of the people who make these decisions and share your feelings, miss. The customer is always right.”

“Good idea! Why don’t you go ahead and give me your manager’s information!”

“I would be so glad to do that for you miss.”

Naturally I wrote down a fake name and email address. John Binns. This was a “professional skateboarder” from our town that my friends and I had an inside joke about for years. I happily provided her with his “info.”

Words cannot express the nature of the ever-revolving bullshit encountered on a daily basis. It’s chaos in one shape or another damn near every day. Yet on the contrary it’s rarely boring, which I reckon is the silver lining. A classic situation is people frantically realizing they need to board their plane and dropping this line: “Hey I have a flight to catch I gotta cash out.” Really? Holy shit let’s get you outta here buddy why didn’t you say so! Everybody else here is taking the train! Often they smash in front of people at the bar or counter and throw their card at you. I make sure to take my time when this happens.

The only way to deal with the shit-circus is to be a dick right back to these people, in a more clever subtle fashion, or just kill them with blatant fake kindness. Or start drinking. Or take a permanent vacation.

 

 

 

 

Smack Dab In the Middle of a Situation Overrun by Fools

Bomb scares, angry drunk women, obnoxious gingers bothering nice Indian men, and Macklemore. Pretty much sums up the past week at BNA.

First was the ordeal in which an entire Ft. Lauderdale bound Southwest plane had to evacuate right before take off. A nervous young girl at the bar was giving us the lowdown of the situation at hand. Apparently a belligerent man, unfortunately a man of Middle Eastern decent, was getting unruly on the plane and not complying with attendants. Not putting on his seatbelt and loud cursing, that kind of thing. Eventually the man had to be escorted off the plane, to which apparently he did very willfully without hesitation or argument. When he got off the plane somebody noticed that he’d left behind his phone and a gold box of sorts. This triggered a scare that forced everybody off and the police and bomb dogs to board the plane. I could see a group of policeman surrounding the man in question. How necessary this all was I don’t know, but apparently enough to halt 120-some people from getting to Florida. As time passed they deemed the plane unfit for flight, forcing the flyers to wait on another plane. It was a disturbing reality check that this shit actually happens, and not only scares but the real deal. So hard to fathom.

Shortly after the frantic young woman left, two middle-aged women arrived to the center of the bar, separately. One got her computer out like many do and got settled in.

“What’s your guys wi-fi password?” She asks.

“Our internet has been down for awhile now, but the airport has a general wi-fi for people but it sucks.” I said

“YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. What kind of place doesn’t have wi-fi nowadays? Seriously ridiculous.”

People are so reliant on wi-fi and plugs it’s completely insane. I would be lying if I said I don’t seek them out myself, but the amount of weasels that come in stripped of all decent, reasonable human qualities asking for either of the two is astounding. Like fucking zombies, people just walk in with a dumb blank face and come up to the bar saying “plugs? wi-fi? wi-fi? plugs?” Like yeah sure I get it but what about uttering out a five second greeting at least. A little “hey there, do you guys have wi-fi or perhaps a plug I can use? That’d be really swell.” Is that so much to ask? And we have to shoo away so many clueless assholes bumbling into the store to sit on the floor to charge like little brainless selfish zombies. I fantasize about headbutting all of them square in the nose.

Next to the woman whose lifeblood was wi-fi, sat a shockingly put-together drunk woman who hid the fact for a little while. She complained that the Chardonnay was corked, and upon smelling it I acknowledged it did waft a little funk to the nostrils. I gladly opened a new bottle and got her a new glass.

“You know sometimes a whole case of wine can be corked.” My compadre Susan said to the lady.

“Um no actually. It’s 2% of all wines that gets corked. It can never be a whole case.”

“Yes it CAN affect a whole case as a matter of fact.” Susan said in her enjoyable British accent.

“You’re wrong, I work with wine, I think I would know but thanks for trying.” The drunk woman snapped.

At this point Suzy Q had to walk away because she was boiling with anger, and believe you me this is a tiny older woman you don’t want to fight with. She will tear you limb from limb.

Regardless of who was right, the woman was being so unpleasant. After she cashed out, she not once, but twice attempted to pay her bill again.

“Look lady if you want me to buy a few things with your card I will, but you’ve already paid, I don’t know what else to tell you.” I said. She was visually embarrassed each time, and with a sloppy stroke of the hand signed the receipt and stumbled off into the sea of hasty travelers.

Finally was a jacked ginger fella sitting at the end of the bar next to a meek, mild Indian man quietly eating his tomato soup, not bothering a soul. The ginger was loud as hell from the start, asking me 21 questions and aggressively pointing to different items on the menu. Eventually he settled on the cheapest glass and when he lost my attention he started chatting with the Indian man.

“Hey bro how’s the soup? What’re you drinking? How is it?” He led in with some basics and they got talking a little more. The Indian man was clearly not comfortable talking with the buffoon, giving quiet one word answers. The Indian man fumbled a piece of crostini into his soup and it splattered on his shirt a bit.

“AW NO WAY DUUUUDE THAT BLOWS! How much was that shirt? Where’d you get it?” The Indian man was getting more and more frustrated. It was a long sleeve, crisp white button up now filled with pale red dots.

“So what do you do for work? A cardiologist? Whoa. What’s your actual title? Do you have any regrets?” Such a weird chain of questions, I thought. The poor guy couldn’t chug his wine and finish his soup fast enough.

“Wait a second are you on this flight to Houston? HELL YEAH BRO!” The Indian man died inside a little bit, and was soon on his way.

Oh, and I also passed Macklemore by the O’Charleys around gate C10 on my way to work. I got him in a headlock and we commenced into a good old fashioned wrestling match right in the middle of the walkway. I mean I got a creepy several seconds long Bigfoot-style video of him. What is life.

 

 

The Matzah Curse

You know it’s a good month in the airport when you don’t see the ass of an elderly man upon entering the bathroom. Unfortunately this was not one of the months. Twice in the past three or so weeks I’ve been blindsided by senior citizens with their pants at their ankles and their tiny bodies crammed into the urinal releasing their demons. I walk in, turn the corner and BAM- my day is completely disrupted and I can’t remember my name. Their backs melt into their asses and their asses melt into their frail stick legs and I die a little inside.

While it was a bad month for old man ass, it was good for spotting a couple bigwig celebrities. On my way out of work around gate C6 I breezed by Kiefer Sutherland and one of his cronies. I was 90% it was The Kiefer. It was all but verified when I Googled him only to find out that he just put out a country album and started his tour the very next day. It was indeed the Lost Boy in the flesh. I listened to one of his songs and let’s just say acting is his strong suit. Surprise surprise. Later that week on my way into work I crossed paths with Heisman winner and Titans franchise savior hopeful Marcus Mariota. He’s a real goofy bastard, but I’ll be damned if he couldn’t kick my ass.

Recently I found myself envying and admiring a few airport workers with lower end jobs. Particularly this one fellow who I can’t tell if he’s Latin American or Asian, or perhaps a mix of both. He always rocks the dual eyeglasses/sunglasses combo and appears to have a mental condition of sorts. This guy is always hauling ass and hauling shit around the airport either talking to himself, laughing, or both. He seems like the happiest/craziest guy in the world sometimes. Every time I see him he’s booking it through the concourse tugging two carts full of soft drinks or food or just whatever. If I had to guess his job title I’d say “General Goods Hauler.”

He’s not the only one who seems to be in good spirits given his lowly profession. I admire the fact that they’ve accepted their fates near the bottom of the social totem pole and appear to be fine with it. People acknowledge your position, and while they may judge and scoff, they tend to leave you be and not expect much from you. There’s no pressure to succeed or experience heavy failures, and more or less there’s few places to go besides up. There seems to be a certain freedom in these kinds of jobs. While their level of intelligence may be on the lower end, I would think ignorance is bliss to them. And maybe all janitors and general good haulers go to heaven. Nobody can disprove that.

Then it’s back to reality and I find myself dealing with this sixty-something shrew of a woman who looks like she has Macy’s on speed dial. She’d been at the bar the previous week being rude, waving empty wine glasses and checkbooks at me and being generally unpleasant. Things went alright in the beginning and who knows if she remembered me. Then the Gipsy Kings came on the radio and she couldn’t contain herself.

“I’ve never heard THIS kind of music before in Music City,” she said like a devoted supporter of the Ku Klux Klan.

“Well miss we like to be cultured here and mix it up,” I said. Our radio station has a vast variety of music it plays (not always great by any means) from Jack Johnson to Bob Dylan to Buena Vista Social Club and so on.

“Oh really? It sounds like something I’d hear in El Paso.” Such a strange thing to say, I thought.

“What’s wrong with El Paso?”

“It’s not a place you want to be.” The guy next to her chimed in. He was in the US Armed Forces and his name was Brian Landtroop- a most appropriate military name. Regardless of how dreadful a place El Paso may or may not be, this lady was just bitching because it was Latin-influenced music. Definitely a Trump supporter.

And then there’s the matzah curse. Unfortunately I don’t have a grandiose story for such an intriguing title. I feel like this could be a really awesome or really horrible horror movie title. Maybe I’ll work on a screenplay for it. Anyways, I had an older Jewish couple in from Philly who insisted no crackers or bread come on the cheese plate they ordered. They had matzah to eat with the cheese. They then went on to teach me a brief lesson on Passover, and how it’s never in sync with Easter, especially on leap year. Their son was some sort of tour guide of Jerusalem and was especially busy around this time of year. They talked my ear off and asked 21 questions before I was able to make my escape.

After they finished their sparkling Oregon wine and all but licked their cheese plate clean, the lady came up to the bar.

“I’m so sorry but we got matzah crumbs all over your floor. It’s the matzah curse. No matter how careful you are with it it’s almost guaranteed you’re going to need the dust pan after you eat it. There’s no escaping the matzah curse!” She laughed and her sluggish husband just kind of shrugged and picked up his things to get ready to leave. Between making it a point never to visit El Paso and the matzah curse, I learn something new here every day.