My Little Corner Of The World 7/11

This is the first of what I hope is a weekly, or biweekly addition to the Anderson Files. Each week I will take on some matter. Sometimes it will be of some importance, other times not. It will be a grab bag, some odds and ends from my life. I can see this turning into a place for me to rant as well as a place to take stock of the world I live in. So here goes. I hope you enjoy.

I got off of work a few weeks ago around 9 pm. I needed a few things before I returned home. Unfortunately, there was no convenient place to secure these items between points A & B. So I made a small trip out of my way. No big deal. I went in to the Wal-Mart and hurriedly grabbed my 5 items. To my surprise and delight there was a cashier, an actual human being checking people out, and only one person in line. Fantastic!! I get in line, pleased at my progress. Then a hold up. Uh-oh!! The cashier had the drawer open, a vacant look on her face and she was waiting for a manager. I figured she did not have the appropriate change for the customer. No big deal. Then I heard her say that she needed a calculator. I thought she had to calculate the tax. Then the customer spoke up.
“Its $1.35. The total was $23.65 and I gave you $25.00.”
Are you freaking kidding me? The holdup is over simple arithmetic? This can’t be.
“I can’t do math lady. I’ll need a calculator to figure how much I owe you.”
I was stunned. First with the fact that simple addition and subtraction is the kind of thing you have to stop everything down for. But also for the flippant attitude of the employee. She looked at this simple math problem as something like Everest. Far beyond anything she may be capable of. Rather than attempt to figure it out she immediately threw her hands in the air and gave up. No damns were given whatsoever. Finally, somebody came over and they determined that, indeed, $1.35 was owed. I was chuckling.
“Is something funny?” the snotty cashier spouted.
Now I’m in the mood to play ball.
“Yep, I think its funny you cant do simple math. That’s something a 10 year old could figure out.”
“You are going to piss me off!!”
At this point I had paid with card and had my merchandise in hand.
“I really don’t care.”
I grabbed my items and walked off as she stormed off in the opposite direction.

Was I a jerk? I’ll admit, I’m guilty of that from time to time. Maybe even here. But when a grown ass person can’t do simple arithmetic and decides they aren’t even going to try, I get a bit pissy. You are going absolutely nowhere in this world without a few basic skills. The ability to give a shit is one of them. Arithmetic is another. Nobody is asking her to put a man on the moon or even find the collision point of 2 objects moving in opposite directions. This is simple shit!! Further, her rotten attitude further torked me. I understand she is a Wal-Mart employee. They probably don’t pay her enough to care. Still, I have to think that a little integrity would go a long way. How about exerting just a little bit of effort. Just because your pay isn’t what you think it should be does not mean you can just say screw it. Take a little bit of personal pride for crying out loud. I probably should have let it go. I’ll own that. Still, it was an interaction that still puzzles me. What kind of future does a person who can’t do simple math have. That’s a scary thought. My guess is she isn’t going to be moving up the corporate ladder anytime soon. Then again you never know.

Offseason

The College Football off season is a very strange thing. Shortly after the first of the year when it is staring you in the face, it seems daunting. It hovers over you like a dark cloud. How are you going to go 8-9 full months without the glory of College Football? It seems unthinkable. The beginning is the worst. Each Saturday taunts you. Then, before you know it, spring ball comes and goes. A little while later the temperature rises and all manner of polls, predictions and asinine guesses start flying. You look up and you are a mere weeks from the start of camp. During the months of July and August the anticipation is palpable. You can feel it in the air. Soon there will be fight songs, top 25 matchups, emerging stars, major disappointments, upsets and champions. Winners and losers. Coaches will be sacrificed to the masses, and others will take their place.  Everything the College Football scene annually gives us will once again be on display. As usual, I’m extremely excited.

Spring ball is the ultimate tease, not to mention incredibly misleading. Just because your team is wearing gameday colors and playing in their own stadium does not make it a game. Far from it in fact. I’ve been to several spring games and they are all about the same. They are enormous pep rallies. Fans get together, wave their pom poms, get drunk during the day, and talk about the fall. That alone is fine. I have no problem with that whatsoever. The problem is fans and media alike jumping to conclusions based upon a glorified scrimmage. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a young player put into the hall of freaking fame because they made a few plays in the damn spring game against some Redshirt Freshman walk-on from nowheresville.  Its completely ridiculous. Then come fall when they fail to contribute anybody and everybody is to blame. The fact is that spring football is fine for a team’s development but it scarcely resembles the action in the fall.  It will also not quench your desire for College Football. So chill out, relax and remember, its a scrimmage on an April day against the bottom of the roster, not a prime time tilt with Notre Dame.

I have a tradition that Im not terribly proud of. It concerns my favorite preseason magazine. You see, every year I go through the pain of going to a minimum of 3 or 4 stores looking for the Phil Steele College Football Preview. The pursuit of this publication is a tradition all its own. Each year I storm into Barnes and Noble with a head full of fury, ready to own my copy of the College Football bible. Every year I am rebuffed. It’s out of stock or the truck crashed on its way to the store and its contents went up in flames, or there was a Presidential order preventing its release. Its always something. I never get it on my first try. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. Flustered, and majorly annoyed,  I go elsewhere and the same scene is repeated. My fuse gets shorter and shorter. Inevitably, I twist off on somebody. Don’t they understand the importance of this magazine? Then I get smart and start calling ahead. Some low level employee making $8.00/hr will tell me, with all the enthusiasm they can muster, whether or not they have it. Even then its a toss up. My wife suggests that I order the magazine direct. A very rational solution to an outrageous problem. I’ve looked into it, but the shipping alone is absurd. The magazine itself is not cheap. I don’t mind that cost. It’s worth it, but to then tack on a shipping charge? I’m too frugal or hardheaded for that. So I put myself through this same damn scenario every year. I’m a glutton for punishment.

Once the magazine is in hand I spend a serious amount of time pouring over its contents. Who are the surprise teams? Who has the toughest schedule? Which team lost the most in the draft? Turnovers=turnaround!! Its sensory overload for the first week or 2. There is so much information in this publication that there is just not enough time to get to it all. I have a wife and kids and 2 jobs and I need to sleep so that really puts me behind the 8 ball. I do the best I can, which is still better than most. But the Phil Steele College Football Preview stokes the flames for the College Football season like little else can. He presents things in such a logical and reasonable fashion that its tough to argue with some of his predictions. Is he always right? Hell no!! In fact he hedges his bets quite often, which is smart. But I dont get the magazine for accuracy. I get it first, and foremost, for the excitement it provides. There is nothing like reading up on a variety of teams that have some interest for you. Then you look ahead at the schedule and drool over upcoming matchups. Then you look ahead to those teams. It’s really great stuff. Well worth the pain and aggravation involved with securing the magazine.

Soon after come the practice reports. As a great man once said “we’re talking bout practice man. Not a game!! Not a game!! Practice.” How excited can you possibly be for a vague description of a practice? You would be surprised. Before your College Football appetite is fully satisfied it’s crazy how much you look forward to this inconsequential morsel of College Football information. Then you talk with your idiot friends about the contents of such reports. Each person seems to have a different spin on the very same paragraph of information. How many different ways can you interpret a strained hamstring from a 3rd string WR? Again, you would be surprised. They give you these little nuggets which do little to curb your appetite for the sport.  By the time the first game arrives I’m foaming at the mouth. I’ve got a blank stare about me the entire week leading up to the first game. When I crack that first beer and we get that first kickoff, its sheer ecstasy.

Cell Phone Etiquette

We live in a world with rules abound. Do this, don’t do that.  Some of these rules are written into law. Others are common sense, while others still are just basic consideration.  One area where I feel these rules are lacking is in dealing with cell phones. Its like the wild wild west out there.  People are just doing whatever, wherever with little to no consideration for those around them. A decade ago this was a problem, considering cell phones were relatively new, problems were bound to happen.  Unfortunately in 2016 I do not feel that we have made any damn progress toward civility with our various devices. It looks like I have to take action. Here are a basic list of considerations and rules which everyone should abide by.  Feel free, gentle reader, to chime in with a helpful addition or two where necessary. Its time we corralled this thing.  With your help we can make the world a better, less aggravating place.  Here goes:

*When in a shared public place like a waiting room or a line, save your conversations for another time.  Nobody wants to hear half of a conversation between you and your mom concerning last nights Game of Thrones episode. Show a little consideration for those around you jerk.

*Similarly, get off your phone when you are checking out at a gas station or grocery store.  Its super disrespectful to the cashiers time and to those behind you in line. Put the thing away and conduct your transaction.  Its not that difficult.

*When you and I are having a conversation, an actual person to person interfacing, it is extremely rude to pull your phone out and check facebook.  The subtext here is that I’m not interesting enough.  If you feel that way, just say it, because odds are I feel the same.  Still, while you and I struggle through this interaction have the decency to keep the stupid thing in your pocket.

*When in a theater put the freaking thing away. A theater is dark and your screen is extremely distracting to those around you. This one seems obvious.  But common sense is, well you know. This is also an area where we have seen some level of progress.  Some theaters have drawn a hard line on cell phone use, adopting a zero tolerance policy.  I applaud their action. Well done!!

*Limit your use while operating an automobile. I don’t care if you are cruising down the freeway, having a conversation.  Frankly, freeway driving is not difficult and the act of having that conversation is no different than if that person were sitting in the passenger seat. Texting, or internet browsing is a different matter.  It requires you to divert your attention from the roadway.  Its dangerous and inconsiderate. Please don’t be that person.  That person is an asshole.

*If you work with the public I, as a customer, don’t want to see it. I don’t care if its in your pocket or whatever, but I don’t want to see you use it. You are there to work, so work. If I were in a leadership position I would have very little tolerance for this kind of thing. Whatever it is can wait.  If it cant, you need to go home.

Look, these devices are still pretty new to us as a society.  What is, and is not, acceptable is still up for grabs. It seems like nobody wants to take the lead on this thing. If I’m something of a pioneer, or even a hero, for making a stance, Ill let you decide. For now I would like for people to put the things away and show one freaking bit of consideration for the people around them. There is a time and place for this technology. Lets not neglect the actual human interaction we experience everyday.