Monday Rant

Much to my dismay, I've been forced to attend a series of 8:00AM meetings for the past few weeks. I'm supposed to be at my desk by 8:00 anyway, but I usually don't make it in until 8:15 or 8:30. It's amazing the difference that those fifteen to thirty minutes make on my day. I've spent the last two weeks walking around in a haze. Imagine my enthusiasm when I discovered that I had another 8:00 meeting this Monday, and that with Daylight Savings Time being that weekend, it might as well have been a 7:00 meeting.

I always do my grocery shopping on Sundays. While hunting around for the meager scraps of food that I actually keep on hand in my house, I decided that I would make a concerted effort this week to eat breakfast at home and bring my lunch every day. I get in a nasty habit of grabbing McDonalds on the way into work, and then more greasy fast-food for lunch. It's borne out of laziness more than anything else, and it has a detrimental affect on my abdominal definition. But this time I was determined. I got everything I needed, and vowed to myself that come Hell or high water, I would eat right five out of five days this week.

Unfortunately I awoke with a nasty back ache that Sunday, and it wasn't getting any better as the day wore on. I knew it was from sitting in an extremely ergonomically incorrect position at the desk in my house. The odd thing was I hadn't been sitting there for any length of time in quite a while, and yet this particular day my back was in serious pain. It didn't help matters much that I had promised my breeder friend Brad that I would help him out with an automotive project. It was my car he was working on, but he had agreed to do some work on it in exchange for living at my house rent-free for the last few weeks. I knew that the best way to motivate him to get the work done was to sit there with him while he did it, and lend a hand when I could, so I hunched over the engine compartment for the better part of the afternoon while my back got worse and worse. When we were done he asked me if we could leave this car in the garage until we were done working on it. I saw no harm in that.

Soon the day was over, and all I had in front of me was my Sunday night TV regime. I try not to make a habit out of watching TV, but Sunday nights are my exception. I figure I've put in a whole week of work, I have a whole week coming up, and dammit, I'm gonna sit and veg. It also helps that there is a contiguous line-up of shows that I really like:

6:30 - ABC Sunday Night News7:00 - History of Automobiles8:00 - The Simpsons8:30 - Extreme Homes9:00 - The X-Files
This gets me to bed at 10:00. I have insomnia on a pretty consistent basis, lying awake for an hour to an hour and a half every night before I finally drift off to sleep, so I can't stay up much later than 10:00 if I want to be worth a damn the next day. And losing an hour on this particular night to Daylight Savings Time made it especially important to get to bed early. I advanced my alarm clock by an hour, shut off the light, and lay there for close to two hours before sleep finally came over me.

The next morning I awoke to sunlight streaming in my bedroom window. At least it wasn't a gloomy, gray morning like we'd had for that last billion days in a row. I rolled over and looked at my clock. It was 7:00. This was very odd, considering I have my alarm set for 6:30. I checked the clock and found that the alarm was somehow set for 7:30. I panicked, afraid that I'd advanced the alarm instead of the time, and that it was actually 8:00 and time for the meeting to start at that very moment. I leapt out of bed and checked the clock in the other room. No, it was indeed 7:00. How I managed to advance both the time and the alarm was a mystery. All I knew was that still I had to really rush to get to the meeting on time.

My lower back still had sharp pains shooting through it. I ran into the bathroom and began to shave. The cold temperature in my house reminded me that I forgot to advance the clock in my automatic thermostat control. I contemplated going without shaving, but ever since I dyed my hair blonde I can't really get away with that anymore. I stood there shaving, hunched over from back pain, shivering with cold, and rushing because I was late, and wound up slicing into my lower lip with the razor. It wasn't bad, but I knew it was going to bother me at least for the rest of the day.

I set the shower to extra hot and jumped in. My shower is usually my one moment of pleasure in an otherwise dismal morning routine, but with the back ache even this was an unpleasant and painful experience. I rushed through it and dried of. My hair was being particularly uncooperative this particular morning, but I didn't have time to fiddle with it.

I ran upstairs to get dressed, immediately remembered that I'd done laundry the night before, and ran down to get the one pair of jeans that's still decent enough for the office. As I went to put them on, I realized I'd forgotten once again to turn them inside-out before washing them, and the friction from the agitation cycle caused a marbling effect in the black denim as the cloth rubbed up against the other items in the wash. The main reason that I habitually walk around in unlaundered clothes is because when I wash clothes, I ruin clothes. It's that simple. I pulled the jeans on, realizing that they'd shrunk significantly, yanked the waist closed, threw on a shirt, and ran downstairs.

When I looked at the clock I quickly realized that my goal of eating breakfast at home and bringing my lunch every day this week was going to fail on this the first day. There was no way I had enough time. I threw on my coat, tied my sneakers, and ran out the door. The first thing I saw was my daily use car completely covered in frost. I was PISSED. When I was looking for houses, I made sure to buy one with a garage, and since I moved in I'd never had to scrape my car off in the mornings. But here I was, late already, and having to scrape the frost off the windows before I could be on my way, all because someone talked me into doing something that deviated from my normal routine. Even then they kept frosting over again, and I had to keep almost a constant stream of washer fluid flowing for the first five miles.

I now had barely enough time to hit the McDonalds drivethrough and still not be late for the meeting. After the drivethrough lady very deliberately and neatly folded the top of the carry-out bag three times, I snatched it away from her and peeled out of the parking lot. Some guy was coming up the street. I contemplated cutting in front of him, but decided that the space was too short and I would do the right thing and wait for him to pass. He wound up dawdling along, and allowed an excessively large following distance to build between him and the car in front of him. Just my luck, a school bus pulled out in front of him. If this moron had kept up with traffic, the bus would have had to get in behind both of us. Astonishingly, the bus didn't pull over and flash its red lights the whole time it was in front of us. I gobbled down my bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit as I drove along. At least it was piping hot.

Much to my surprise, I got to the office with about ten minutes to spare before the meeting started. Even more surprising was that I had all the materials I needed already gathered together in a folder. I thought for sure I was going to have to scrap around to find the stuff I needed, but apparently I'd already done it and forgotten. I went to the conference room and sat there until 8:10 when everyone had finally sauntered in, sat down, and shut up. I tried to keep my cool as the meeting went on. Things were going pretty well, to be honest, but I was very short-tempered and not very tolerant of error or ambiguity.

When it was over I hibernated in my cubicle until it was lunch time. I had intended to go to the weight room, but with my back ache and the fact that I needed to go out for lunch anyway, I got in my car and went for a ride. Not knowing where to go, I decided to go somewhere I don't usually go. That would be Burger King. I've eschewed their establishments ever since they initiated negative advertising back in the early eighties when they started trash-talking McDonalds. We have them and Pepsi to thank for the torrent of negative advertising that persists to this day. They were not only the first to call their competition by name, but they asserted not that their product was better, but that the competition was worse. It's a small distinction, but one that is significant to me.

I got to the local Burger King, and almost immediately regretted my mistake. Never in my life had I seen such an illogical parking arrangement at a fast food place. There were a couple of parallel parking spaces immediately inside the lot. I was fortunate enough to find an empty one. All the rest of the parking was way back behind the building. Even getting one of the front-most spots, I still had to walk around almost three sides of the building before I found the entrance.

I got to the counter and ordered my bacon double-cheeseburger, onion rings, and small chocolate shake. The woman, who had bags under he eyes so dark I initially thought she had two black eyes, informed me that I could get a medium shake and save about fifty cents if I went with the combo meal. I said okay. They brought out this enormous cup, and while I waited for the rest of the meal to arrive I pondered what ever happened to the small sized drinks. It seems that one day they created a cup size larger than anything before, threw away the smallest size, and graduated the labels of all the cup sizes one position. It took a while for me to catch on. I was so in the habit of ordering a medium drink, that I kept forgetting that this now meant getting a quantity about twice the size of what I really needed. And here I was, trying to conserve resources, and I get sucked right back into an unnecessarily large size again. I should have told the girl to give me the combo meal, but secretly use a "small" sized cup for my shake.

Finally the rest of the food arrived. As soon as they set the burger down on the tray I remembered that I could have ordered it without the pickles. That is the one true advantage to Burger King. My other universal fast-food pet peeve is that they put pickles on EVERY fucking food item on the menu. I'd like to know who decided that the entire population of fast-food customers is automatically going to want pickles on every goddam food item they order. Even in nice restaurants when I order a sandwich, they invariably put a big-ass wedge of pickle beside it. In those cases it's even worse, because the pickles they use excrete this juice that seeps down the plate and contaminates the rest of the sandwich. This behavior is so completely ingrained into food servers, that even when I remember to ask them NOT to include a pickle, nine times out of ten they forget and allow it to invade my plate anyway. When this happens I usually grab the slimy, dripping appendage, slap it back on their tray, and say, "Here, you can take this right back into the kitchen with you."

I sat down, performed a pickle-ectomy on my burger, and began eating. I tried to take a sip of my shake. It was so thick that I couldn't suck even a bit of it through the straw (and believe me, I have a fair amount of sucking experience). I'm not exaggerating here. I exerted every ounce of sucking power I had, the straw completely collapsed, a vacuum was forming in the system, and I barely got a drop of "liquid" on my tongue. I pulled the straw out, removed the top, and held the cup perfectly horizontal. The substance inside didn't move. I've had Wendy's Frosty deserts that were thinner than this shake. I held it there for a good twenty seconds until one drop of melted substance began to form on the rim.

I went up to the counter and asked the guy for a spoon. When I came back, some woman had sat down in the booth right next to me with her toddler daughter. She started talking baby talk to her. "Can you take a big bite of that? Yeaaaaaah, I knew you could. That's a *big* bite! Uh huh..." She droned on and on. A lot of my friends think I hate kids. That's not true. The kids themselves are fine. It's parents that get on my nerves. Parents and other people who turn into complete idiots as soon as they're in the presence of young children. When I talk to a kid, I verbalize just as if I was talking to one of my own friends. It turns my stomach when people talk to kids as if they're emotionally fragile, feeble-minded vegetables. This woman was particularly offensive, and of all the seats in the whole place, she sat down two feet away from me. I stood up, walked to the back of the dining area, and sat back down.

Having finished my bacon double-cheeseburger and onion rings, which tasted almost, but not entirely, unlike onions, I grabbed my spoon and began eating my milk shake. By the time I gotten a little bit past the quantity that would have otherwise been the small size, my ice cream headache got so bad I had to stop. I tossed my stuff in the garbage, got back in my car, and returned to my office. There I hid in my cubicle until it was time to go home.

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