Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Excuse Me! This Is Not A GEICO Commercial!

I had just wrapped a meeting in Atlanta’s West End and got back in my car, heading toward I-20 East. It was only a matter of moments before I was cruising and listening to my favorite afternoon sports talk show. As I drove, I was distracted by some movement on or near my shoulder, which I barely noticed out of the corner of my eye. What could it be? A piece of lint? A fly? A spider? Surely it was nothing that a quick flick of the wrist couldn’t handle. Then came the quick flick of the wrist. Then came, well, utter shock. Turns out, it wasn’t a piece of lint, a fly or a spider; IT WAS A GEICO-COMMERCIAL LOOKING GREEN LIZARD!!!!!!! Now, mind you, I wasn’t really afraid of GEICO Jr., but I have to confess the shock of it startled the **** out of me—so much so that my body clenched up, causing me to accelerate and swerve into another lane of traffic. I really didn’t really care about the honks from the 18 wheeler whose path I had dangerously crossed into. I was more concerned about this f***ing creature in my car.

There it was. Sitting on the front passenger floor mat—chilling like it belonged there. There was nothing I could do about it. I was still driving. But I was NOT going to be denied. I was going to get GEICO Jr. out of my car—dead or alive. First, I had to get off the Interstate so I took the next exit. GEICO Jr. was still sitting there when I stopped in a parking lot of a strip mall. I looked around for something to use to get this thing out of the car. The only things within reach were some mail and a three-ring binder. Yes, the three-ring binder was going to get me out of this situation. I grabbed the binder and took a whack at the lizard. Success—or so I thought—I hit the lizard but not hard enough or in the right spot. But I did leave some damage; that little bastard was bruised all over the back. Yes, there had to be some damaged organs, internal bleeding, or something wrong with that little mf’er. Despite its injuries, it just scurried around the floor and eventually under the seat. I got out of the car and walked around to the passenger side to try to get rid of this thing. I moved the seat forward. The lizard ran to the back. So I moved to the back. I tried to guide GEICO Jr. out of the open door. No luck. The lizard wasn’t having any of it. I had no choice. I had to take another whack at the lightning quick creature. Damn it! Missed. Now it was under the seat again. So I slid the seat backward. GEICO Jr. ran to the front. But as soon as I got to the front of the car, my little tormentor ran under the seat. So I moved the seat forward and it ran back to the back. This went on for about three more times.

In the midst of all of this seat moving and lizard chasing, I picked up something else I didn’t really want—a spectator. It was a young man who was asked me if everything was ok. (I imagine it did look kind of crazy) I explained that I was trying to get a lizard out of my car. He looked at me, put his palm up (as if to tell me to talk to the hand) and said, “nah, bruh, I’ma let you handle dat.” I mumbled under my beath, “Fine, mf’r; I didn’t ask for your help anyway.” Unfortunately I did have to get out of there. I had another appointment to get to, about five minutes away. When I arrived I looked in the back and there was GEICO Jr., just sitting there. I had a clean shot. WHACK! Missed again. As I sit here typing this, I imagine GEICO Jr. is still sitting under the seat trying to recover from that bruised back. I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to get rid of my unwanted passenger. Should I buy some Raid and try to poison it or set a mousetrap (I don’t think there’s such a thing as a lizard trap and if there were what would you put in it?) or just try to wait him out? Suggestions, please? GEICO Jr. has got to go!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Never Spit on A Dying Rat

Other than Michael Jackson, most people I know hate rats, and understandably so. You can add my sister to the list of rat-haters thanks to a traumatic childhood experience. My two sisters and I were playing in our grandmother’s yard when we came across a big old country rat. The interesting thing was that something was clearly wrong with this rat. It was stretched out on the ground and breathing extremely fast, as if it had just run a marathon. For some unknown reason, seeing the rat in that condition really intrigued us. We all gathered around the rat, initially expecting it to get up and run but it just continued to lie there, with its breathing getting more and more labored. In our amateur veterinarian opinions, the rat was inching closer and closer to death.

Since the rat either didn’t notice us, didn’t care about us, or couldn’t do anything about us, my youngest sister decided to play around with it a little. She found a long stick in the yard and took it over to the rat. Of course, I was trying to figure out what she was about to do. Then she took the stick and poked the rat in its side. The right’s body moved a bit, but otherwise there was no reaction; just more heavy breathing. At that point, we were convinced that the rat was completely harmless and would meet its demise in that spot in the yard. We even thought about having a rat funeral. Then my sister decided to get a little bolder. She slowly inched closer to the rat and took her foot and nudged the rat gently. Again, the rat’s body moved a bit but otherwise there was no reaction; just more heavy rat breathing. Then she started leaning over the rat. A big wad of spit fell from my sister’s mouth directly between the rat’s eyes, splattering all over its face. Without warning, the rat sprung to life and made a bee-line straight toward my sister. Almost as quickly, my sister, panicked by the sudden turn of events, turned and started running away from the rat. The rat proceeded to chase her for about 100 feet before it veered off toward the woods. To this day, the sight of that rat chasing my sister remains one of the funniest things I have ever seen. But it raised the question of why it took the spit to piss off the rat and make it spring to life. Being a thinker, I tried to put myself inside the rat’s mind. All I could come up with was: “you can kick me, or even hit me with a stick, but if you spit on me, that’s your ass!” You’ve been warned. Govern yourself accordingly.

When You Gotta Go, Don't Go There!

Sometimes in everyday life you stumble across a classic comical moment. I was at an auto repair shop when I walked by the restroom to go to the waiting area. I saw the funniest sign ever on the door. It read, "NO NUMBER 2's. NUMBER 1's ONLY!"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Butt Out At Work

While at work one day I was feeling really restless so I decided to walk across the street to take a Starbucks break. I don’t drink coffee but I just needed to get out of the office. I hung out there for about 30 minutes before heading back across the street to the office. Just before I got to my office I was greeted by a co-worker who wanted to talk to me. He followed me into my office and before I could sit down, he calmly interrupted me and asked, “Jonathan, do you realize that your pants are split open in the back?” I’m like, what is this dude talking about, is he crazy? I reached around to see if I could feel the split. Oh shit! Not only could I feel the split but my hand went all the way through to the back of my leg! The freaking pants were split from the belt line to the knee, as if someone took a razor and sliced them open! All I could think was, “how the f*** did that happen? Then I had to wonder how long it had been like that. Did I walk all the way from the Starbucks with my ass out? And of course the most pressing issue was what I was going to do about it.

By this time, my co-worker had left, undoubtedly feeling that the problem I had was more pressing than the one he wanted to talk about. I started brainstorming, trying to figure out how to solve this problem without walking out of my office and flashing everyone who happened to cross my path. I started thinking about who in the office was approximately my size. Bingo! Russell. Maybe my friend Russell had some extra pants in the office.

I dialed his office. “Russell, I’ve got an odd question to ask you. Do you happen to have an extra pair of pants in the office? “Ahhh, why do you ask?” he replied. “Well, somehow I managed to split my pants in the back and my butt is, well, pretty much completely out.” As you might imagine, all I heard for the next five minutes was non-stop laughter. After composing himself, he told me that he was actually leaving shortly to play golf, and had brought a change of clothes. (I was in luck.) He offered to bring me the pants he was wearing after he changed for the golf outing. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I felt about wearing someone else’s pants, especially pants someone was taking off to give to me. Well, what other choice did I really have?

Always a man of his word, Russell dropped by my office with the pants, but not before laughing hysterically for a few more minutes, especially after I showed him the split, which was an unannounced condition for getting the pants. After he left I thought I might be able to slip his pants over the pants I was wearing. No way. First, I couldn’t easily pull them up. When I did I couldn’t button them. But worse, they looked absolutely ridiculous, a bunched-up, wrinkled, crinkled mess. I had to face it; I was going to have to wear dude’s pants. And I did. And it worked out fine. The next day I brought the pants back to the office, dropped them off at the cleaners in our building (pre-paid of course), and gave Russell the claim ticket. I looked him in the eye and, in my most serious voice, told him to never mention this shit to anyone—yeah right. Needless to say, I was always grateful to him---the man who would give you the shirt off his back, or the pants off his ass!

Morale of the story: Always keep a change of clothes at work. You just never know what might happen.

Kids Say (or in this Case Rap) the Darndest Things

My sister was helping my six year old niece with her homework recently. This particular assignment required her to write a sentence using each of her eight spelling words. As usual, she breezed through the assignment. Before she got to the last word, my sister announced, "you've done a great job so far, only one more to go. The last word is under, can you think of a sentence with under?" Without hesitating, my niece started dancing, looked my sister in the eye and dramatically delivered, "it's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from going under." Grandmaster Flash would be proud.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Watch Out For The Key Thief!

This misadventure started innocently with a routine, early morning visit to the Gold's Gym in Ellenwood, Georgia in July of 2007. I wrapped up my workout around 7:30 a.m., gathered my belongings, and went to key holder to get my keys. My gym, like many others, has this square piece of wood with 2 or 3 dozen hooks for holding the members’ keys while they work out. When I got to the key holder I discovered that my keys were missing. That was weird because I could remember the exact spot where I left them. I checked my pockets, walked around the entire gym 2-3 times, retracing all of my steps, all to no avail. Then I decided to ask someone at the front desk if anyone had turned in any keys. Of course not; so, I sat there at the smoothie bar like, “ain’t this a bitch?” Now mind you, I know I don’t have a regular 9-5 job but, hey, I had things to do. As usual, clients needed things done yesterday so I needed to be on point and this bullshit was getting me off schedule. I continued to sit there at the bar looking pitiful, trying to figure out my next move. Then the lady at the bar offered me a smoothie. It wasn’t like I had anything else to do, so I gladly accepted. As I sat there drinking the smoothie I came to the sad realization that no one else in the world had a key to my house except maybe my parents, who lived over 600 miles away. All I could imagine was some gang of thieves at my house with a moving truck taking everything out of my house.

After sitting at the gym for over a half hour, I decided I was going to walk the 2.5 miles to my house. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do when I got there, but I’d worry about that later. I gave the people at the gym my cell phone number so they could call me WHEN my keys showed up because I knew they would turn up. Now before I get to the walk home, I have to say something about the gym employees. They really, really pissed me off because they were acting unconcerned as hell. I know it wasn’t their problem per se, but, damn, those people were just shrugging shoulders and chit-chattin like nothing was wrong. Oh, not to mention them telling me that this had never happened before. Did I really care whether it had happened before? It was happening now and that’s all that mattered. I just wanted to say something like “keep that that shit to yourself and act like you care.” At least tell me it’s gonna be alright.

At this point I have to describe the road between the gym and my house. First, it is a road, not a city street. There are no sidewalks (until the last 500 feet or so), no crosswalks, or anything remotely pedestrian-friendly. It is very curvy, including hairpin turns with literally no shoulder. I had driven the road hundreds of times before but never walked it, which proved to be a wholly different experience. About a half mile into the walk I said to myself, “hmmm. . . . I should have peed before I left the gym.” No worries. I’ll be fine. I kept walking, listening to my IPod. Shortly after recognizing that I had to pee, my stomach started rumbling and churning, slightly at first. I was like, “this can’t be happening.” I was still at least a mile and a half from home. I tried to focus on my music and not what was going on inside my body. With every step it seemed I had to pee more and the stomach churning and cramping was getting worse and worse. Then I saw a nice patch of woods next to a fence that I thought I could slip into to take a quick pee. I went in and maneuvered myself next to a tree to shield myself from traffic and any residents. As I got into position I heard these galloping and snorting sounds that sounded a bit too much like a rodeo. I looked up to see this big ass horse coming toward me like some damn bucking bronco. Even though it was fenced in, it was really big, and acting super-aggressive and I didn’t know what its intentions were. I totally forgot about what I was supposed to be doing, and just ran my ass back out to the road and continued on my journey home. It was a miserable walk, full of the pain of stomach cramps and the pressure of an overflowing bladder.

At long last, I got to my street and my house was in sight. Initially, I didn’t notice that there were 3 or 4 cars parked on my street and several people walking all around. I wondered if a raid was in progress, or if someone was having an early morning party. As I got closer to my house I noticed that they were carrying little magazines and knocking on doors. Then it hit me----Jehovah’s Witnesses. As I walked down the street I tried to put on my best don’t-fuck-with-me today face, which is really hard for me because for some reason it’s hard for me to be serious when I have to, and that kinda thing just makes me want to laugh. I walked down the street trying to maintain that look but it didn’t help, as two of them cut me off just before I got to my driveway. Now I’m not a mean person at all and I realize that their intentions were good but their timing could not have been worse. I really didn’t want to say anything to them so I decided to put some nonverbal communication on them. I’m sure you’ve seen the situation when a cop is directing traffic and someone he or she is trying to stop either is not paying attention, and the officer throws that hand up like he’s mad as hell and starts blowing that whistle like a madman. That’s how I was with them. I damn near had my hand up in their faces, almost violently gesturing for them to get back. Then, without thinking about it I blurted out (with that police arm still up in their faces), “NOT RIGHT NOW! Maybe when I come out of the house.” I didn’t even give it a second thought. I still had to figure out how I was gonna get in the house. So I went up to the front door and of course it was locked. Then I went to the back door---locked. Even though the doors were locked there was no reason not to take a leak in my back yard. I moved up as close to the house as I could, unzipped and let it go. It was such a relief, but it nearly triggered a chain reaction that almost caused my increasingly bubbly stomach to let loose!

Now that I had taken care of one of my problems I had to figure out how to get into my house so I could take care of the other. Then it hit me. Two years earlier, I had a house guest who liked to put the windows up but never seemed to lock them when she put them down. I went all around the house checking my first floor windows. This was quite embarrassing when I got to the front because the Jehovah’s Witnesses were still out like a SWAT Team. Lo and behold, one of the front windows near the front door was unlocked. As I was about to raise the window I could feel the unmistakable presence of the Jehovah’s Witnesses watching me. Frankly, though, I didn’t give a damn because I needed to get in the house. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to climb through a window with a cramping stomach, but let me tell you, it’s not easy because you’ve got to contort your body in way that causes you to lose control of the muscles that hold everything together during the most intense cramps. Bottom line, I almost lost the smoothie while going through the window.

Going in through the window triggered some additional problems, the most immediate of which was the alarm. Second, it probably looked suspicious as hell to the Jehovah’s Witnesses to see a brother climbing through a window while triggering an alarm. Now if they did call the police I might have had another problem because I had no ID. Why no ID, you ask? BECAUSE MY WALLET WAS LOCKED IN THE GLOVE COMPARTMENT IN MY CAR AT THE GYM! Can you imagine me trying to explain this story to a cop? Never mind all that. That was just a possibility. I had to deal with the reality of getting to the bathroom. But first I had to shut off the alarm and deal with the call from the security company. Actually, there were just gonna have to catch me in the bathroom.

Ok, I don’t mean to be gross here and I’m sure this is too much information, but let me tell you, when I finally sat down on that toilet, it was definitely a HAZMAT situation. I don’t know what was in that smoothie but it did not agree with my stomach. I’m not even gonna say anything else about that ordeal. But while I’m on the subject, I’m just gonna state the obvious; it’s a real dilemma when your body really, really wants to function and you are not in a position to let it happen. To make matters worse, I had two functions that wanted to take place at the same time. That was no joke! (Somebody should invent something for situations like that).

After handling my business, I managed to find my spare house key and car key. I debated asking a friend to come pick me up and take me back to the gym. Ultimately, I decided not to bother anyone and just walked back to the gym. Yes another 2.5 miles. About five minutes into the trip, I got the call that I had been waiting for. The gym called and said that a gentleman called in and said that he’d accidently picked up an extra set of keys. I was told that he would be bringing the keys back to the gym on his lunch break. The gym employee also gave me the perpetrator’s number. I called him right away to verify his intentions. He seemed like a nice guy BUT he told me that he probably would not be able to bring the keys back to the gym because he was on base and had an appointment at 1:00. We agreed that I would come to the base, which was about 25 minutes away, and get my keys. He said that was fine, as long as I got there before 1:00. I continued on to the gym, got my car and went back home—all without incident. After a quick shower, I was finally on my way across town to get my keys!

I arrived at the base about 12:35 and parked in an administrative office just outside the main gates of the base since I did not have access to actually get on base. I called the perpetrator who answered in a whispering voice. Of course I wondered why this motherfucker was whispering. I could sense that he was about to feed me some bullshit. My suspicions were confirmed when he whispered, “I can’t come out. I’m already with the doctor. I retorted in my mind, “what the hell do you mean you’re already in with the doctor?” He said, “sorry but you missed me by two minutes. I’ll call you when I get out,” and hung up. I can’t really describe how I felt at that moment but it’s a good thing that I didn’t have a gun or a bomb because I would have been tempted to blow some shit up or shoot somebody. All I could do was wait, again. But I couldn’t simply wait in peace. No, I had to wait under the watchful eye of the military policemen who I’m sure were monitoring my every move. I felt uneasy just waiting and waiting, but I didn’t want to leave either and risk missing the perpetrator. So I just waited and waited and waited some more. Finally, at about 3:00 p.m., I got the call. The perpetrator was coming out to bring my keys. He drove up and I swear I just wanted to take my car and ram into the side of his Expedition. He parked and got out of his car. He was a tall, older gentleman in full army uniform. Despite his tall stature and impressive physique, he was incredibly humble and soft spoken. He was clearly embarrassed, so much so that he could not even look me in the eye. He apologized over and over again. My instincts told me that his apology was sincere and that there was really nothing sinister about this man. Honestly, all of my anger toward him instantly turned into compassion. We chatted for a few minutes, exchanged business cards, and went on our merry ways. A few days later when I arrived at the gym, he was walking out as I walked in. I grabbed my keys in an overly-exaggerated fashion and turned my back toward him, and yelled out, “watch out for the key thief!, watch out for the key thief.” We laughed, shook hands, and went about our business.