Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I have flown a couple of times in my life, and largely without incident. Which scares the living shit out of me.

I know that the odds of being a plane crash are astronomically low -- somewhere between being hit by lightning and being eaten by a koala -- and yet, somehow my overblown ego feels that I'm likely to win the unlucky lottery. Even writing that sentence makes me think that I'm going to end up the footnote in some kind of ironic story where some schmuck in upstate New York predicted his own death, and how sad it was.

The thing is this: I'm not really afraid of dying, per se. It's not that I want to die, mind you, but death isn't the thing about flying. It's the falling, and the screaming, and the all that time you have to think about what a loser you are and how little you've done with your pitiful, meaningless existence. At least if I get hit by a bus, the lights are gonna go out pretty quickly and that will be that. If I ever have to put one of those fucking oxygen masks over my head in a plane, I might just tie the thing off so I can go off into the netherworld via a euphoric lack of oxygen, instead of a violent collision with the seat in front of me.

But is that really what terrifies me about flying? That's the endgame, truth be told, but there's a lot more leading up to that. You could die almost any day of your life, from almost any cause. You take a risk whenever you get out of bed or stick your face in a fan. So to me it seems (and I know that this is logically absolute bullshit) that the number of circumstances that could lead to death seem to escalate on a plane.

Side note: whenever you read about plane travel, they say that it's the safest way to get from one place to another, and then, for comparison, mention how many deadly auto crashes there are each year -- usually something like 40,000. Now I don't want to get into a fucking car either.

It's just that if the motor goes out on your car, you can pull to the side of the road and call AAA. You can't do that 30,000 feet up in the air. I know that planes can glide if power goes out (I'll take your goddamn word for it, thank you), but every little thing has to be perfect in order for a plane to work, right? Not only does each bolt have to be tightened, and the wings have to not fall off the side of the plane, but physics has to continue to work. I know that Newton proved his so-called "Laws of Physics" many years ago, but what if they aren't really laws at all. What if they're just "Tendencies of Physics"? Has anyone investigated this??

I'm not really afraid of terrorism so much, because that would be just dumb luck. The odds that my plane from Scranton to Wichita is going to be hijacked is slim. Also, it seems like if someone tries that shit these days, everyone on the plane will try to bumrush the guy. I wouldn't be one of them, only because if I take my hands off the armrests, the plane will destabilize and spin out of control anyway.

Do you know how many planes fly every day? It's something like 30,000 every effing DAY! Successfully! That has got to be some kind of witchcraft. There is no way that can happen. There aren't even 30,000 planes in the U.S., are there?

This is what scares me the most about flying. I've never had a "bad flight" (knock on Palo Santo wood), and I know that the more I fly, the greater the likelihood that I will. I've been in a few near-accidents in the car, and since I've seen them come and go, I'm pretty calm in the driver's seat when they look imminent. Not so in the cabin of a jet; the first sign of trouble and I will literally shit myself. Literally. I've done it over less.

So wish me safe travels as those engines spool up and the wind carries me and some unlucky saps to another area code. I need it.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Tumble Out of Bed and I Stumble to the Kitchen...

So here's something. 

I was unemployed for about four and a half months. The reason why is immaterial; suffice it to say that I was rather terrible at my previous job, and both my former employer and I decided that I probably should stop coming in. So I was on the government tit for 1/3 of the last calendar year; it's not something I'm proud of, but I paid into the goddamn thing, so get off my ass.

Anyway I have recently procured myself gainful employment (my new employer got a nice discount for my copious abilities), and am back among the working stiffs. And although I couldn't be happier about it, I should reflect briefly about my time on the dole.

Do you know what sucks about being unemployed?
  • You don't make as much money as you used to.
That's the list. Everything else about it is incredible! I knew when I did get a job, I would have to give up some of the comforts of my freeloading existence. It almost makes me sorry that I'm so charismatic, convincing and qualified. 

When you're unemployed, you can get up out of bed whenever the hell you want. What day is it? Tuesday? Nope, it's Saturday. Every day is Saturday. I was shocked to see Judge Judy on TV when I got up instead of college football. One night I couldn't sleep, so I stayed up all night and watched TV until the sun came up. Then I went to bed around 11am and slept all day. Just like the old joke about the dog being able to lick itself, it was because I could.

This is true: one day I woke up and thought it was Thursday all day long, but instead it was Friday. Oh to have that kind of blissful ignorance at work!

There were times I needed to get to the bank (although I'm not sure why since they really didn't have anything for me) or the post office or wherever else. I didn't have to wait until my lunch break, or get up wicked early or rush there after work. I could get up, make some coffee, edit a few Wikipedia pages (okay, like a hundred of them) and go whenever I felt like it. Showering was strictly optional, though greatly appreciated.

If I wanted to go to a coffee shop or a diner or a book store, I could just get up and go LIT'RALLY any time I wanted to. (Granted, I never did any of those things, but you can imagine the possibilities!) Hit a matinee? Grab a beer at 12:30pm? Stay in bed? You're goddamn right.

I guess there are a couple downsides: when people ask what you do, you have to tell them you're unemployed or "between jobs," which always elicits a combination of sympathy and pretending it's okay. (When met someone and told her I was unemployed, she replied, "That's understandable." Bless her heart.) Also telling everyone you are out of work is pretty humbling; it usually comes up right after they told you they finally broke down and bought that solid gold front door.

Also, no round of drinks is truly on you: it's on Andrew Cuomo.

There is a certain level of despair, too, that comes with joblessness. It is a major blow to the ego, which is why (I'm guessing) that so many people lack the gumption to get up and find a gig. I know that I took my sweet-ass time (read: the holidays and a few weeks after New Year's) before I got my bee-hind out there looking for work. I had a total of three interviews: I was turned down for the first, I withdrew from the second, and I nailed the third. But my confidence took a big hit, and I knew it at the time. It was the kind of thing where I had to sit in my car for twenty minutes before every interview to simultaneously psych myself up and calm myself down. I can completely understand why people stay home on the couch instead of getting out there and looking for work: I did it too.

There is also a certain degree of loneliness you get when all your friends are at work and you are at home by yourself. There were days on end where I never left the house. Days fly off the calendar and you make not one dent in the world. That part stinks too I guess. But I would highly recommend taking a few months off if possible to decompress, get your head back in order, and get the "itch" to work again. Because before long, the itch becomes like a rash. The impetus to be around other people is also a surprising motivator.

But these days, as another working schnook, I have to get up before 8am(!), shower, put on pants(!!!) and show up to a place promptly in order to get a paycheck and not get yelled at. Isn't that really the Amer'can Dream right there? I like my new gig a lot so far, I just hope I'm good at it.

No I'm not doing play-by-play for Bills games, or working in a brewery, or writing for The Source, or any other dream job I had when I was a high school senior. But a j.o.b. of any type is nothing to sneeze at. It's not just the fact that they give you money for showing up, but it rekindles some sense of your own worth. I feel really bad for people who struggle to find jobs for whatever reason: no experience, lack of interviewing skills, lack of networks. It has to be maddening. I got very lucky that I fooled someone into thinking I'd be a good hire. 

I don't know what the hell the point of any of this was. Oh well. Happy Easter folks.