Wednesday, September 28, 2022

A Soggy Regatta

I was treated to one of the most entertaining sporting events barely known to mankind on Monday. A sixty-five and older men’s soccer league match, you ask? No, even better than that. I attended a high school physics class cardboard boat race.

I know what you’re thinking. "Oh, how fun. The kids got to make model boats and float them in a tub of water."

No. The kids had to make full-size boats out of wood with cardboard hulls, put either two or three high school students in each boat and race them across the Olympic-size swimming pool.

It was epic.

The design criteria was simple. The outer hull shall be cardboard. No direction was given past that. So, as you may imagine, there were a variety of different size and shaped vessels come regatta day. (It should be noted that prior to launching, each boat was wrapped in plastic so the cardboard didn’t just melt away in the water.)

One team built a legitimately reusable wooden canoe. On the opposite end of that spectrum, one team appeared to have simply gathered four intact medium-size moving boxes together in a rectangle and duct taped them together. When it was time to race, each of the three rowers just sat in a box. It actually worked pretty well.

I was blessed to attend this aquatic catastrophe because Son Number One and his buddy had taken over my garage for a few weeks building what can only be described as an inverted doghouse. It was constructed of fence boards and 2x4’s, and was big enough to fit both of them, or had they flipped it over, three adult Great Danes.

They formed a bow and a stern (those are the official nautical terms for front and back of a huge, inverted doghouse) with PVC pipes, and then, of course, covered the entire thing in cardboard.

They did some physics calculations at some point with regard to expected buoyancy - after they built the whole boat, of course – and decided that they’d better add some outriggers made out of five-gallon water jugs, and also bring some weight plates along to ride with them in the USS Casa de Perro.

It seemed as if, on paper, at least, four hundred pounds of dudes was not going to be enough weight to get their craft low enough in the water to be stable.

They were right.

Race day came and the “boats” went into the pool in heats of three at a time. It became immediately obvious that every team spent whatever time they allotted for the project solely on design and build. Not one team spent a single minute working on paddling technique prior to the race.

A watercraft consisting solely of the lid to an Ikea entertainment center shipping box is going to naturally be hard to steer, but even more so if you had no plan whatsoever before the starting gun.

There were a lot of collisions

Fortunately for the spectators, the high schoolers in the boats were acting like high schoolers, so entertainment was in no short supply. One team had Viking helmets and a bucket, specifically for drenching their enemies.

The ROTC ladies had two rowers and a machine gunner, manning twin Super Soaker water rifles from the bow.

In heat three, when it was time for the doghouse to race, external sabotage was not its downfall. Son Number One and his buddy made it about a third of the way across the pool before the sheer physics of the situation became too much for them to overcome, and the world’s most unstable boat capsized in spectacular fashion.

The Ikea box finally passed the shipwreck, after running into it twice, to win heat three. The semi-finals were filled with high seas drama, as the canoe was completely swamped twice by Viking bucket fire and still came in second.

The Ikea Pirates were finally dragged down to Davy Jones’ locker, and the rectangular moving boxes got taken out by the ROTC boat’s machine gunner, right before they were rammed by a skiff made entirely out of cereal boxes.

It was a ten-foot-long contraption that looked like a cross between a canoe and a coal barge that ended up taking first place in the extended up-and-back final race. It was in the process of sinking when they made it back to the wall.

The good news for Son Number One and all involved was that grading for the project was not based on sea worthiness. If you showed up with a boat of any kind, you got credit.

The races were just for bragging rights. And some quality entertainment.

See you soon,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen

 

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Property Mismanagement – Repost

This month marks the third anniversary of us living in a meth-free neighborhood (as far as we know). We have a celebration each year where we barbecue, only we use natural gas instead of lawn mower gas. And we barbecue in the actual barbecue. Allow me to explain – here’s the account of what went down three years ago:

 

We had a neighborhood barbecue a while back. It was on a sunny Sunday afternoon in March, and it was the kind of day just tailor-made for an impromptu get-together out on the street.

We didn’t grill burgers or dogs, though. We cooked a Prius.

Well, I shouldn’t say “we” cooked a Prius, so much as, the meth addict felon who lives down the street cooked his Prius. We just all came out to watch.

That fine afternoon, Sir Meths-a-Lot had somehow caught something in the middle of his driveway on fire. He remedied that situation by intentionally kicking over a large can of gasoline at the top of his driveway, which ran down into the fire and strangely enough, started a much, much larger fire.

By the time I saw the giant plume of black smoke rising above the rooftops, the entire driveway was burning, his Prius, which was parked at the curb in front of the driveway, was ablaze, and a flaming river of gasoline was running down the gutter toward two of his neighbor’s cars.

Good times.

His also-a-meth-head-but-so-far-only-committed-misdemeanors brother managed to get the fiery river put out before any more cars caught on fire, and it wasn’t too much longer before a couple garden hoses had the entire barbecue extinguished and Captain Felony Meth could concentrate on shouting at one of his neighbors to – and I’m not making this up – “mind your own business, bro.”

This fun Sunday afternoon get-together came after at least a year of other amusing antics and shenanigans over at Methtopia, including, but not limited to the following (and keep in mind, I am not making any of this up):

Fights on the front lawn

Homeless lady living in her truck out front and using their potty

Power washing the house/driveway/street at midnight

Throwing two dozen eggs from the side yard onto the neighbor’s house at 3 A.M.

Vacuuming the street with a Hoover upright

Mowing the street with an electric lawnmower

Power washing the lawn

Oh, and a full guns-drawn SWAT team raid on the house

That was all just neighborly fun and games, but apparently I have a limit, and as we found out, that limit is lighting the street on fire.

After the barbecue that no one was invited to, I did some internet research and came up with a few phone numbers. I texted around until I found the property owner and told him that his renters just lit his entire driveway on fire and it was time for them to find other, more suitable accommodations.

He then told me he only managed the property for his son, who owned it, but he would go check things out that day.

When I inquired back about the property visit, he texted back, “Everything looked fine. No problems.”

I decided at that point that an in-person meeting might be appropriate.

At the meeting, which took place at my kitchen table, I informed Roy of all the silly things that have been going on over at his son’s rental property, and that it was definitely time for the renters to fire up the old Prius, as it were, and head on out.

He amazingly tried to make the case that they were really quite nice, but I finally convinced him to give them notice. We settled on a charitable thirty days’ notice, even though three days were all that was required by law, given the many, many drug arrests that had occurred in the home. We shook on it.

The thirty days would have expired sometime in April, but he texted me later that week to tell me he changed his mind and they could stay until the lease ran out on August 31st.

I texted him back and told him how small claims court works for a landlord operating a nuisance property.

He ignored me.

During the dedicated public servant portion of the barbecue, Mr. Amphetamines-R-Us got popped for felony possession of a weapon while on parole (parole in this case, I’m assuming, meaning the entirety of his twenties and thirties), so he went back to his home away from home.

My first-ever incarceration report search (God bless the internet) turned up the fact that Doctor Now-I-Have-To-Do-Crappy-Jail-Toilet-Meth was scheduled to be in the slammer until after the lease expired, so I let it go.

A For Sale sign went up on the lawn in July, and things were looking promising until Future Eagle Scout Time-Off-For-Good-Behavior came home in mid-August to resume his standard routine of basically living in the front yard and doing absolutely nothing even remotely productive with his life.

I texted Roy. Here’s how that went.

Me: When will they be out?

 

[August 31st ]

 

Me, On August 31st: Will your tenants be gone by the end of today?

 

[They will start moving tomorrow hopefully . but not later than Tuesday

They are moving to my other house, other house’s tenant be out till midnight,so don’t worry PL try to help me find a nice buyer]

September 2nd: [Because holiday,may be we are running behind ( one day)]

 

Me: So, will they be out by Wednesday?

 

[Yes sir (OK hand emoji)]

September 4th: [They are moving since last night sir]

 

Me on September 5th: Your tenants are still at the house tonight.

 

[They are moving it may take 3 days to finish,sir]

 

Me on September 10th: It is Sept 10th. Your tenants were supposed to be out on August 31st. They are still in the house, with no signs of being out any time soon. What is your plan to get the felon drug addict who nearly burned your house to the ground out of our neighborhood?

 

At this point, I received a text from the second number I had, which I thought belonged to the owner, Roy’s son.

[This is Bea. Im Roy's daughter. I cant help but get your texts everyday. Are you renting the house or buying the house on plum? Whats really going on?]

 

Me: Sorry to have included you on the text string. I thought you were one of the owners. I'm a neighbor with kids, on a street full of people with children. The tenant is a meth addict, a felon, and the definition of a nuisance. He nearly burned down the house one day, which was when I contacted your dad and told him they needed to go. And I am honestly amazed that he didn't come to that decision on his own! This was after the SWAT team raided the house with guns drawn while my kids were playing in the street, and I don't know how many fights on the front lawn between the felon and his drug addict associates. I met with your dad and he told me in person he would evict them in 30 days. He then went back on that and told me they would be allowed to stay until August 31st. It is now Sept 10th. They need to leave this neighborhood, and I need to know an actual day they will be gone. They are wholly unacceptable, and suing your father for running a nuisance property is the only next step. I already made him aware that each affected family can sue for $5000 per person, including children, which adds up to a conservatively estimated $100,000 lawsuit. Time for them to go, now. That's what's really going on.

 

[First, I d like to thank you for being a concerned neighbor.

Second, if my dad says he will do something. You can mark my words. He is a man of his word.

3rd, My dad raised 3 kids in the same neighborhood. I want you to know things are being taken care of.

I just need to step off the gas pedal a lil bit and know you have been respectfully heard and my family is making it happen.

My dad stays unwell. Please be respectful. Nobody is ignoring you. We are all families in this community

Contact me directly from now on.

The new family thats moving in has their trucks outside being loaded.]

 

Me: I was not aware your dad was unwell. I will contact you from now on, but hopefully that won't be necessary. What do you mean when you say the new family moving in has trucks outside being loaded? As of this minute, the Plum house is still occupied by the old tenants.

 

[Again Marc, I want you to know my dad is under doctor's care and is very fragile. He is a good man. You will be taken care of at any cost. Period.

Have faith and some patience. M working on it too from Chicago as well.

You have our utmost respect n attention. I will personally contact you soon.

I m looking out 4 my dad and his health too. I only got 1 old man.

He dont need threats, your request is enough 4 all of us to step in.

My name is Bea. M his oldest kid. I invite you to be patient with serene calm mind. Universe will return the favor in 10 folds.

Namaste! (prayer hand emoji)]

 

Umm… say what?

Me: I am nice and serene. You didn't answer the question. What do you mean when you say the new family moving in has trucks outside being loaded? Outside where? As of this minute, the Plum house is still occupied by the old tenants.

 

[We have new tenants moving in very soon. Be patient, be kind. Everytime u look towards the house, inhale love n exhale love. Right now, you may not be perceiving things as they are, rather how you see!

No need to be on pins n needles. Cuz I got chu! Relax.

Your request has been received, approved, accepted, sealed, stamped!]

 

What in the actual hell is this idiot talking about? Are there three different people on the other end just grabbing the phone to text random crap at me? Can someone throw the phone to an adult?

Me: What actual date on the calendar will your current tenants be gone?

 

[I will call you tomorrow with that. Im sending my own tenants from my house to shift over there.]

 

Me: Text me. I like to have things in writing. It brings me peace and harmony.

 

[Blessings (double pink and red heart emoji)]

 

They did finally move out, but it took another week. I spent that week wondering if I was perceiving things as they really were, and concentrating on inhaling n exhaling love.

I’m fairly certain I was communicating with Bea’s idiot boyfriend more than half the time during that week, and I’m positive he was inhaling n exhaling something entirely different.

Namaste.

See you soon,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen

 

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Wednesday, September 14, 2022

A Brief History of Communications

Many, many years ago, people used to scribble messages and stories on the walls of their caves. That was great, but you had to go to their cave to see what they had to say. That was inconvenient and dangerous, because without advanced notice of the visit, they were likely to kill you when you entered their cave, and there was no way to give advanced notice, because you couldn’t send your own cave wall over ahead of time.

People eventually started scribbling notes on rocks and throwing them to other people, but that was also problematic because of the concussions and rotator cuff injuries associated with the longer/larger messages.

Finally, someone got smart and invented paper, followed closely by the invention of the carrier pigeon. But the pigeons were hard to train and only batted about .500 on delivery because none of the streets were named, and also hawks. There was also a poop-on-the-messages issues until someone figured out the messages should ride of the top of the bird instead of underneath, but the poop-on-the-recipient problem remained, so that program was short-lived.

It wasn’t long before Alexander Graham Bell took credit for a lot of work done by an Italian guy and “invented” the telephone, famously uttering the first words ever to travel across phone lines, “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to talk to you about your car’s extended warranty.”

Americans instantly fell in love with the telephone, but within hours of the first network being connected it was rendered completely useless by teenage girls clogging up all the lines.

Then along came World War II and all the teenage girls were sent to work in factories, finally freeing up the phone lines. Radio technology had been progressing side-by-side with the telephone, with Nicola Tesla first demonstrating wireless radio message transfer. He then went on to pioneer the self-driving electric car. The radio was later patented by Gugliemo Marconi who had already made a fortune in cheese-covered pasta.

Radio waves were vital during the war, but there was a problem. The crafty Germans had figured out how to jam our radio signals, rendering our entertainment systems, and possibly more importantly, our torpedo guidance systems, useless. Thankfully, Austrian-born actress Hedy Lamarr had escaped her arms-dealer husband and moved to Hollywood ahead of the war. She went on to star in many, many movies that no one has ever seen, and she was quite famous.

In addition to being smokin’ hot, Hedy was also a genius. During the war, she and a music composer friend took it upon themselves to solve the problem of the Nazis being able to jam our torpedo guidance signals. Those crazy kids invented a radio guidance system that used frequency hopping.

“Frequency hopping?” you ask.

Yes, I don’t know what it is either, but apparently it was later the foundation for the Bluetooth and WiFi technology we know and love. Enjoy your digital device lifestyle? You can thank Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr. I am not making that up. We had to wait nearly five decades for something to come out of Hollywood that was even remotely as impressive, which, of course, was the movie Die Hard.

A few years prior to Hans Gruber falling out of Nakatomi Plaza, Al Gore invented the internet, and along with it, email. I first heard about “electronic mail” when I was in college in the early ‘90s, and I thought it sounded like the stupidest thing I’d ever heard of. Why wouldn’t you just call them, I thought. That is why I’m not a multi-millionaire.

Anyway, radio shows and my beloved phone calls enjoyed a long run of popularity until 2002, when Blackberry introduced the first phone that had a keyboard on it. Sure, the keys were far too small to actually use, but the idea was born. Finally, we could send emails from our phones! I mean, sure, you could use the Blackberry and the iPhones that followed as phones, but you could type on them!

The invention of the smartphone was the turning point in a communications timeline that has come full circle. We used to enjoy writing letters. Then we ditched that practice in favor of telephone calls until our telephones were able to write letters. The long letters known as emails gave way to texting as we grew more and more averse to actual phone calls.

Now, no one likes telephone calls anymore and everyone just writes short, incoherent texts to each other with atrocious grammar, zero punctuation, made-up words, a never-ending array of emojis, and no capital letters whatsoever.

We’re all the way back to basically texting each other cave painting scribbles.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why my wife and my children never answer my calls.

I’ll just leave them a quick voicemail…

See you soon,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen

 

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Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Ford versus Chevrrari

This is not by any means a car column, but a great wrong has been perpetrated upon us, along with a great right, and it needs to be discussed.

Growing up, I was a Ford guy. Not necessarily out of any great passion or loyalty toward Fords, it was just that when you were a teenage boy in my day, you were expected to pick a side. Wishy washy on the subject was not an option. My dad had a Ford truck, so I was a Ford guy, and Chevy could suck it.

The two sides of this ridiculous feud had all sorts of fun wordplay to put down the other team. If you were a Chevy guy, Ford stood for Found On Road Dead, or Fix Or Repair Daily. There were many others, most where the F stood for various forms of the “F word,” my personal favorite being F’er Only Rolls Downhill.

Us Ford guys would counter their clever acronyms with one of our own by saying, “I think you meant to say, ‘First On Race Day.’” Take that! Unfortunately, that was the only positive Ford acronym, so then we’d politely ask that if Chevrolet is supposed to be American, why does it have a French name?

Later on, in the early ‘90s when Chevy came out with the “Like a Rock” campaign, we could say, “Yes, like a rock. Found on the side of roads everywhere.” That was about all us Ford guys had. The Chevy guys had a lot more ammo with the long list of Ford acronyms. They were all dumb, but they had a lot of them.

Both sides had their hallmark cool cars. Ford had the Mustang and Chevy had the Camaro and the Corvette. The Camaro was short-lived, but the Mustang and the Corvette lived on. The ‘80s were no good for either brand, especially the Mustang, but to be fair, the ‘80s weren’t good for much of anything.

The Mustang and the Corvette made it through those dark years and stood the test of time. Up until now, that is, which brings us to our discussion here today.

First, let’s talk about the good. The 2022 Corvette is the coolest Corvette ever. They finally got away from the ridiculous twenty-three-foot-long front end and made a race car. It looks like an Italian supercar now. The driver can finally see something other than three acres of hood, and the mid-engine design looks fast as hell. It has two really cool looking air intake holes on the sides behind the doors. I don’t know if they do anything, but they look awesome, and the engine sounds throaty and amazing, without that annoying supercar high-pitched whine. Well done, Chevy.

On the other hand, things have gone terribly awry over at Ford. They have introduced the 2022 Mustang. The only problem is, you have to ask which 2022 Mustang? On the one hand, they’re making the normal gas-powered ones, including the amazingly sweet Shelby Mustangs that make you want to drive 250 miles per hour and outrun the cops while blasting Born to be Wild from the 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system.

On the other hand, they’re making a “Mustang” that is electric, and also an SUV.

What?

How can you take one of the most iconic sportscars in the universe and decide to make two versions of it that look and act nothing alike? That aren’t even the same shape?

Do you want the car Mustang or the large SUV Mustang? Or the boat Mustang. We have one of those two. We also have a Mustang 10-speed bike, an e-bike, a Mustang food truck, and a Mustang Little Rascal grocery store scooter.

What the hell, Ford? Did you guys want to make a different car but you just ran out of names? Mustang was the only thing anyone over there could think of?

Do you see Chevy over here saying hey everyone, check out the new 2022 Suburbans. This one is shaped like a Suburban and seats eight passengers comfortably, with room for everyone’s luggage. This other Suburban seats two and is shaped like a rolling turd. It runs on fairy dust and happy thoughts.

No, you don’t see Chevy doing that, because that would be stupid. Ford, you’ve gone stupid and I’m officially a Chevy guy now.

I need to start saving up for one of those Corvettes! By the way, did you guys know that Ford stands for Factory Ordered Road Disaster?

See you soon,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen

 

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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

An Open Letter to the Student Loan Department

Dear whomever is in charge of the student loan forgiveness program,

Son Number One is a high school senior this year, so he’ll be off to college around this time next year. We’re all very excited about your new plan to wipe out student loan debt, and we plan to take full advantage of that next year.

Originally, we were thinking he’d need to stay in our home state of California for college to avoid those high out-of-state tuitions, but your new program has really opened up the possibilities. Since money is no longer an object, I think we’ll have him try to get into some of those famous schools that always seem to produce good results, like Harvard, Cambridge, or MIT. However, I’m not sure if he really has what it takes, grade-wise, so we’d really appreciate it if you could put in a good word for him. Thanks in advance!

I’m really writing today to inquire how to get started on the forgiveness of all of our past and existing student loans. I noticed that the program was entitled “Student Loan Forgiveness” without the “College” qualifier, and that’s great for us, because we’ve had student debt for years now with the three boys.

Let’s start with the obvious one – our mortgage. We’ve been housing up to three students here for the last fourteen or fifteen years, ever since Son Number One headed off to his first day of preschool. That obviously qualifies under the “room” section of room and board.

We’ll obviously split the mortgage amount by three-fifths, since my wife and I aren’t students anymore. Just let me know where to send that sizeable bill for forgiveness. Will you work directly with the bank that holds the mortgage, or will you send us a check? Either way is great. Whatever works best for you.

Now, let’s talk food. We’ve also been feeding these young students the whole time we’ve been housing them, which falls under the “board” portion of room and board. (Interesting side note, in case you were unaware – the term “board” means food because it refers to what folks used to eat off of before plates were invented.)

Based on our current weekly grocery bill, I can get you a fairly decent estimate of the total for the last fifteen years. Again, I’d be happy to split it by three-fifths, which in this case is extremely generous on my part, because these boys eat waaaay more than we do. You’ll obviously need to send me a check directly for the past amounts, but going forward, I’m happy to have you send me a credit card that I’ll use only for the boys’ food. Just make sure it has a high credit limit. I think they plan to start dining at some pretty fancy restaurants.

Besides tuition and room and board, transportation costs to and from school are the only other thing I can think of that needs forgiving. Son Number One and Two drive separately to school because of differing schedules, and Son Number Three has to ride with whomever lost the Ro-Sham-Bo that morning. We have never had any car loans, mainly because no bank will loan us money to buy cars as crappy as ours, but also because I have an aversion to financing anything that can roll off a cliff.

That’s all going to change now that student loan forgiveness is in full swing. We’ll start shopping right away for new cars for the boys. I’m thinking we should just get three new cars now, since Son Number Three will be learning to drive in about a year. Might as well handle all the paperwork at once to make things easier on you guys. You’re welcome.

We’ll want to go mid-upper level with the new rides. I’m thinking in the BMW/Audi/Maserati arena. We both obviously want to get something reliable, but I don’t want to spoil these kids, you know? Gotta keep them grounded and teach them how the real world works out there, right?

Do we call you from the dealership to handle the loan side of things, or do you want to just send a check in advance? Again, whatever works best for you.

We just can’t thank you enough for this new program. Super helpful! Looking forward to hearing from you soon about moving forward on all this, and we’ll be back in touch again next year for the college costs.

Yours in forgiveness,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen

 

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Wednesday, August 24, 2022

An Open Letter to Lowe's

Dear Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse,

A long while ago, you built one of your stores in my town, and you built it literally right next-door to the existing Home Depot. When my wife and I bought our first house, we remodeled the entire place, floor to ceiling, from that Home Depot. We were able to do that because we didn’t have kids yet, so we had all the time and money in the world.

We were rich and carefree. We could go out to eat anywhere, at any time. We could go to the movies any day of the week – not just on Tuesdays - and buy all the popcorn we wanted, even at those movie theater prices. We played golf, both mini and regular. We could do all that while still saving for retirement and pouring tons of money into the home renovations.

We had no idea how much would change when we had kids. No one at the Home Depot warned us. You’d think they would have, since they knew damned well that once we had kids we’d have no more time or money to spend at their store. Go figure.

Anyway, when you built your Lowe’s right next to our Home Depot, I remained very loyal to them. Their employees had always been top-notch (except for the not warning us about the kids thing), and I wasn’t going to share my business with you.

However, over the period of a few months to a year I began to notice a decline in the Home Depot customer service levels. The employees seemed to be getting younger and less knowledgeable, not only about general home improvement how-to, but also about where things were actually located in their own store. Then one evening, a funny thing happened.

I was walking down an aisle and overheard a customer ask one of the employees where something was located. The employee didn’t know what it was. She explained what it was, but the employee still had no idea where to find it. I stopped and told the woman exactly which aisle to find it on, how far down the aisle, and how high off the floor it was located. She thanked me and asked if I was an off-duty employee. I said no, just someone who’s shopped here a lot, as I shook my head in disgust at the pathetic excuse for a customer service representative, hanging his head in shame above his orange apron.

That night was when I decided to give you a try, Lowe’s. And our relationship was good for a long time. Your employees would drop whatever they were doing and walk me to where I could find something, even when I insisted that it was OK if they just told me. Sometimes that was uncomfortable and weird, but it was appreciated, nonetheless.

Somewhere along the way, Home Depot got the memo and stepped their customer service back up, and over these many years, you have both performed fairly well. But I wanted to give you the courtesy of a warning. You’re slipping, big time, in the stocking and returns department.

My wife and I have denied our teenage boys food and shoes just long enough to be able to afford some new lighting and mirrors for our master bath. We bought two light fixtures from you the other day, and I was more than a little upset when I unpackaged the first one back at home. It was immediately obvious that something was wrong, from the complete lack of internal packaging involved.

The only damn thing in the box was the light fixture. No protective bag. No Styrofoam end caps holding it in place, no installation instruction sheet. Also missing were the bracket that holds it to the wall, the electrical connectors, and the screws. And to cap it all off, it was visibly and obviously scratched up. Digging down to the bottom of the box I did actually find one other item – the receipt from the last time it was purchased!

I have one simple question for you: How in the actual hell did this thing end up on the shelf?

Based on my recent past experiences, combined with this incident, both purchasing and then returning this fixture (for at least the second time in its life), here’s my estimation of the current inner workings of your returns department:

1) Customer brings in a return.

2) You ask zero questions about the product’s performance, current state, reason for return, or even origin.

3) You assess whether the product is in the original packaging.

4) If it’s not, you shrug and say, “whatever.”

5) If it is in the original packaging, you will, under no circumstances whatsoever, open that packaging to inspect the item, or even verify that it’s in there at all.

6) You give the customer back whatever amount of money they ask for.

7) You turn around and throw the return into a Lowe’s shopping cart.

8) Someone rolls that shopping cart out into the store and puts whatever it is back on the shelf in the approximate location it came from.

9) Everyone in the breakroom complains about how many returns we’re getting today.

10) Repeat.

Like I said, this is not an isolated incident. It’s just the latest one, and I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. The price of gas is too high for me to make two round trips to get one item. The boys will eventually need to eat again, and the school is complaining about them being barefoot.

So, from now on I’ll be the guy bringing my own box cutter in and completely unpackaging everything right there in your store before I buy it.

And fair warning: If it’s not all there, I’m just going to leave it lying there on the floor.

Do better,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen

 

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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

An Open Letter to Chase bank

Dear Chase Bank Liars and Cheats,

Regarding my Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit card, I dislike you greatly. Please don’t misunderstand, I like the card itself, just not you.

I applied for this airline miles card while booking our summer vacation flights to Washington, D.C., the place where you should be tried and convicted for fraud and probably also treason.

The offer you presented me was an immediate $200 statement credit, and then 30,000 bonus miles and a companion ticket after I spent $5000 on the card in the first three months. We have three teenage boys who eat everything inside a ten-foot radius of their bodies during all waking hours, so I figured no problem on the $5K.

I clicked yes to your offer, saw my $200 credit on the first bill, and bought $5000-worth of teenager fuel on the new card well before the three-months were up.

Then a funny thing happened. No miles and no companion ticket showed up. OK, I figured, you’re waiting for the three months to expire and maybe a little longer just to make sure I don’t return anything I bought, even though that would be physically impossible. Everything I bought was gone before I could even set it on the counter or put it in the fridge. Seriously, they come out to the car and eat the groceries right out of the bags. We’re raising wolves.

Anyhoo, months past the spending deadline, I dove into my Southwest miles account only to see that you had given me 10,000 miles about a month after I opened the card, and nothing else. Hmm… That’s 20,000 less than you said I was getting, and conspicuously lacking the promised companion ticket.

Here’s where my intense dislike of you begins. I grabbed my file folder and looked at the paperwork that showed up with the card. Nothing at all regarding the deal. I looked for an email from you. Nothing. I found your phone number and called you. After about a month of sweet hold music, your first customer service agent was useless. They had access to less information that I did. It was as if I’d called my neighbor for help.

We escalated to a manager, which required another few years of hold music and empty statements about service and gratitude and loyalty, only to be further disappointed. I know we’re all big on pronouns these days, but your managers are using them wrong. He kept saying “they” instead of “we” when referring to Chase Bank. I called Chase. Who the hell do you work for? Did that first guy just transfer me to his dad?

The end result was that dad put in a “formal request for investigation” to “them” (you), and I received a letter in the mail seven to ten business days later. It said the stupidest thing I’ve ever read, and keep in mind, I have proofread all my sons’ school essays since kindergarten.

We regret to inform you that the 30,000 points and Companion Pass offer has expired as of March 14, 2022 all request will be declined after that date regardless of date account was opened.  

Not only was the grammar in that sentence atrocious, but I opened the account on February 14, 2022. That’s a month before the offer expired. When I pointed out that fact to a different manager after another few decades of hold music, he was similarly powerless to change anything, even after I carefully walked him through the intricate calendar math. He was able to put in another formal request for investigation, but warned me ahead of time that “they” would probably just send me the same letter. Seven to ten business days later, he was proven right.

It was at this point that I decided to sue you. That fantastic dream was soon shredded when I Googled my situation, only to find hundreds of posts on various complaint-based sites detailing someone else’s tale of my exact experience with “them” (you).

Each story came with multiple comments of commiseration from similarly affected consumers, along with tips from trollishly helpful internet bystanders, like, “you should have taken screen shots,” and “you probably didn’t understand which offer you were actually applying for.” Whatever you’re paying those trolls, you should double it. They are exceedingly good at being the exact opposite of what “we” (us) need.

We obviously have the class, but we all know class action lawsuits are useless. You’ll pay out $100 million dollars, which you’ll just take out of your petty cash drawer, the lawyers will get $70 million, and each affected credit card holder will get $1.38.

No thanks.

I spent about three minutes Googling how to sue you in small claims court, but just reading about the process, let alone the process itself, was intolerable.   

So here I am. Mad at “them” (you). Disappointed in everyone involved. And ultimately, pissed off most by the math. I would love to take my little personal stand of decency and morality and ceremoniously shove your Rapid Rewards credit card into my shredder, but I won’t. That’s the part that makes me dislike you the most. The math works. It makes financial sense for me to keep this card, and I am ultimately, at my core, logical and practical.

I hate that.

So, I will keep using this credit card and getting Southwest milage points, but I just want you to know, I’m not happy about it. (I’m happy with the points. Just not you!)

Take that.

Spitefully,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen

 

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

A Seventeenth Open Letter to Lifetouch School Portraits

Dear Lifetouch School Portraits,

I really have to give you some credit.

“For our photography skills?” you ask, hopefully?

Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous. You’re horrible at the photography part of your photography business.

No, I have to give credit to your branding team for their self-awareness. (I’d like to think my previous sixteen letters may have guided them a bit, but there is still no actual evidence that you have read any of them.)

Son Number One just started his senior year of high school, and senior portraits for the yearbook are required to be completed by September. Your branding department obviously knew “Lifetouch” would never be able to secure the coveted senior portraits contract. You’ve done too much damage over the years.

There’s a three-mile-wide path of food-on-face, jacked-up shirt collar, torqued hair, forced smile destruction in your wake. The damage you have inflicted on the refrigerator doors of innocent parents and grandparents over the years is incalculable.

But you couldn’t just let another company – perhaps even a photography company that hires actual photographers – swoop in and steal all that business. So what did you do? You gave them a fake name, just like my wife did to me the first time I met her. Genius!

I’m sure after minutes of thought, you landed on “Prestige Photography.” Sounds legit. Sounds classy. You were probably even fairly sure ‘prestige’ was a real word, even if none of you knew what it meant.

Since you don’t hire actual photographers, you were able to severely lowball the competition and you landed the contract. Congratulations! Smart business move.

Unfortunately, however, you can only put so much lipstick on a pig, as it were. Your Prestige website to set up my appointment was just as wonky as its Lifetouch cousin, and I especially enjoyed the appointment reminder emails I received once a day literally every day for the seven days prior to the session, yet not one the morning of the actual day. Go figure.

As I have shared with you numerous times in the past, Son Number One was tragically born with CFSD (Chronic Forced Smile Disorder). His natural impulse in front of a camera is to make a face like he just caught his pinky toe on the bed frame. Because of that fact, my wife made me go with him for his senior portrait session, as comic relief, in hopes of getting a genuine smile for at least one of the pictures. “Prestige Photography” was cleverly disguised as a real studio, complete with multiple sets sporting various backgrounds that high school kids love, like gaudy Victorian living room, and yellow swirly wall.

It looked so professional in fact, that I was almost lulled into a false sense of security. That was until the costume lady put him in a tuxedo jacket that was roughly six or seven sizes too small and said, “Great.” It honestly looked like she might have been going for a “look how much I’ve grown since the fifth grade” thing.

I got the jacket issue fixed only to discover the tuxedo shirt was a complete fake. It was just the front of the shirt with fake buttons, held in place by a Velcro collar. Typical. And don’t even get me started on the graduation “gown.” It only went down to his waist!

I lost my focus again after the pictures had started, mainly due to a vexing Wordle situation, but I was snapped back to reality when I heard a concerning statement from the lady holding the camera. (I cannot in good conscience refer to your employees as “photographers”). She said, “I love these smiles.” I was off to the side without a very clear view, but I immediately knew his CFSD was flaring up. I have enough experience with your company to know what you consider to be a great smile.

I think I cracked off enough one-liners and stupid comments to get a real smile out of him. The only problem was my jokes were really landing with the lady holding the camera. She was laughing the whole time, so I’ve got my fingers crossed she managed to hold the camera steady.

Probably not, though. I have no way to tell, since you haven’t yet taken the very simple and obvious step of projecting the pictures to a monitor somewhere in the room so that parents can approve them on the go.

I mean, I know that kind of logical idea is well out of reach for Lifetouch, but I expected just a little more from a company called “Prestige.”

Can’t wait to see the proofs!

Yours always,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen

 

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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

An Open Letter to Josh Wardle

Dear Mr. Wardle,

Damn you. Also, thank you. Let me explain.

In October of last year, you gave us Wordle. I genuinely want to thank you for that. Not only does your simple little word guessing game bring me joy personally, but it also united us as a nation.

You see, it’s hard to brag about things these days, because everyone is so sensitive about everything. The new cancel culture makes it almost impossible to toot your own horn.

Cooked a beautiful steak? Here comes PETA to tell you why you’re evil. Proud of your ballpark diagonals in your front lawn? Don’t you care that we’re in a drought? Got that sweet ’65 Mustang running again? Why do you hate mother earth? Evaded the cops by doing 120 mph on the freeway after robbing the 7-Eleven? Wow, you’re so “reckless” and “criminally negligent.”

Invariably, some jealous internet troll will cry foul and shut you down with the help of their basement-dwelling minions.

Thankfully, however, bragging about our Wordle scores is still seen as socially acceptable. For now, anyway. Thank you for that. On a side note, Mr. Wardle, I’m happy to report that I remain undefeated by your game. My record as of this morning stands at 181-0. Again, just a small side note. No big deal. Just undefeated in Wordle after 181 games.

Here’s the thing, though. Your fun little game spawned a snakes’ nest of spin-offs. Spin-offs that I’m equally as drawn to. That is presenting a problem.

I don’t know who the lair-dwelling Swiss supervillain was who created Dordle, but in early 2022 this psycho took your beautifully simple game and created the offshoot where we play two Wordles at once, side-by-side, with seven guesses instead of six.

Who even thinks of something that weird and wordishly sadistic? It’s crazy. I was immediately hooked.

Things got out of hand fairly quickly after that. After Dordle came Quordle, with four. Then Octordle, with eight, etc.

Many other game developers abandoned words, but kept your once-a-day, everyone playing against each other theme that we fell in love with. Soon we had a song guessing game called Heardle, and a map guessing game called Worldle. Movies, shapes, Nerdle for numbers. Anything was on the table.

As the non-word-based games ramped up, the word-based developers kept adding on more and more simultaneous puzzles, while also working on the “opposite” of your Wordle. Eventually The Evil Wordle and Absurdle sprang to life. Semantle, a ridiculously impossible one for semantically similar words showed up. Popular series fan-based games emerged like Lordle of the Rings, Hogwartle, and SWordle for Star Wars.

Basically, chaos ensued, and I’m hanging on by a thread. I used to be a simple man. I had my crossword puzzles and I was happy. But you changed all that. Now, among many other things, my day involves the Duotrigordle. Thirty-two Wordles at once.

I don’t want to live like this. Please help me.

You created this mess. Now please create an online support group of some kind where we can get help.

Maybe the support group could also have games of some kind for us to play while we wait for the meetings to start. Perhaps word-based guessing games?

Just please make sure the games keep stats so we can brag. Did I mention I’m 181-0 in Wordle?

Yours in word nerdiness,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen

 

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Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The Key to Our Security

I found a great new reality show that I’m really enjoying. There’s only three episodes, but I am loving watching them over and over again. Unfortunately for you all, I can’t really recommend the show, because it’s all footage from my Ring doorbell camera.

Allow me to explain.

We went on vacation last week, and our good friends’ son, who is a teammate of Son Number Two, and a young man we know and love, moved into our house to dog sit for us. He’s about to be a senior in high school, which makes the show even more entertaining.

In the first episode, our main character comes over to the house for the first time. He spends quite a bit of time at the front door fiddling with the lock before he actually went into the house. Our dog thought it was awesome, and continually barked “I’m so happy you’re here! Please come in!” at the window.

I wasn’t quite sure what he was waiting for, since I knew he wasn’t scared of the dog, but eventually he went in the house and I didn’t think much of it, until Episode Two.

Our main character is a social animal, much like our Labrador, and he had a number of friends over during the week. One of his friends, who is also a teammate of Son Number Two, ended up taking over for him one afternoon/evening when our main character had to work a long shift at his summer job. Episode Two of my new favorite show began on our front porch with our main character painstakingly teaching his stand-in dog sitter how to lock and unlock our front door using the key.

It was only then that I realized how important to the series Episode One had been. Prior to coming to our house, neither of these monkeys had ever used a key to unlock a door. They had both grown up with keypad-entry front doors. Episode One was our main character figuring out how the whole confounding key/lock system worked. I was mesmerized.

Just when I thought the series was limited to only two episodes, our good friends’ girls from down the street came over to walk our dog with her sister. (To clarify, our dog and their dog are sisters. The neighbor girls are also sisters. All were involved.)

The key that our main character had in his possession works normally. The key that our friends down the street have was cut a little wonkily. It opens the door just fine, but you have to jiggle it a little bit to get it to turn at first. This added an exciting dimension to Episode Three, and extended it well past the length of the first two episodes combined.

In all, four different girls attempted to unlock our front door before finally gaining entry. After retrieving our dog and her leash, it actually took even longer for them to re-lock the door, apparently not learning much about the ingredients of success on the entry. It was magical entertainment.

Apparently, we are the only house left among our friends that still has keyed doors. It seems, in the not-too-distant future, this will be a new level of security, along with a new level of convenience. Soon, we won’t have to carry our keys around with us. We can simply lock our doors and leave the keys hanging on a hook on the porch.

I’m sure at some point advanced thieves will figure out some code scanning software that can read the keypad door locks and produce the codes. It’s probably already an Android app. The thing is, anyone advanced enough to use the code scanning software will also be young enough to apparently not know how keys work. It’s a lot like how we adults can now write coded messages that teenagers can’t crack simply by writing in cursive.

My old, keyed door lock will soon be more secure than a keypad combination lock, at a fraction of the cost.

What an informative and entertaining show I discovered!

See you soon,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen

 

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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

An Open Letter to the TSA

Dear Transportation Security Administration,

Let me start off by just saying what a great job you all are doing. I know you are obviously not a petty or vindictive group, based on the personalities I’ve run across with your agents over the last twenty years. You are a crack squad of mentally-balanced, well-adjusted, and rational folks. That’s for sure.

Even though I know you would never ever hold a grudge, I just want to make it clear up front here that I’m on your side and I think you’re great. You’re a dedicated group of patriots, keeping us safe, even when those other people (not me) don’t think you’re doing a good job. Or even a marginally reasonable job.

I’ve even heard some of them say your airport agents are most likely hired outside popular fast-food establishments when rejected applicants are exiting from their failed interviews with the twenty-three-year-old managers. I don’t think that’s true, and I would obviously never say anything like that into a recording device.

So, now that it’s clear that I love you and think you are all top notch yet undervalued, underpaid, overworked, and underappreciated, I’d like to suggest a few things, if I may.

I noticed something on our recent family trip to Washington, D.C., where you are doing a superb and again, underappreciated job of administrating your organization. We were making our initial contact with your agents at the end of the winding rope line in front of security. Our family of five assembled in front of an ebullient TSA agent and she began to check our passports. (We weren’t sure if Washington, D.C. was its own country yet or not, so we brought passports as our identification just in case.)

Our three teenage boys were behind me, acting like teenage brothers, which in this case meant they were flexing at each other and telling the other one they looked small and weak. She looked at them and instead of choosing one and asking to see his passport, she very graciously decided to do some parenting for us.

She snapped at them to listen up and then told them that they were in an airport, and that even though they were not adults yet, they were old enough to take her TSA security station very seriously, just like it should be taken, because she was serious about her job and they needed to be serious about her job also, even if they didn’t understand how serious it was yet, because they were not really adults yet, but they were at an airport. (Or something to that effect. I’m going to be honest with you here, she started to ramble a little bit, and as an actual adult already, I kinda lost track of her point.)

So, anyhoo, I just wanted to make some friendly suggestions about the possibility of maybe putting your applicants through some sort of personality tests and screening procedures during the hiring process. I’ve taken the liberty of coming up with a few questions to ask prospective agents that I think might be helpful.

 

1) Have you ever been rejected for any or all of the following due to mental or physical fitness reasons?

Military

Police

Fire

Volunteer fire

911 operator

Security guard

Lifeguard

Nightclub bouncer

Personal trainer

Walmart receipt checker

Walmart greeter

2) Were you horribly tormented as a youth by an older sibling or a school bully?

3) Does the idea of becoming a TSA agent give you an unbelievable electric sensation of unbridled power up your spine?

4) Does the idea of performing a secondary screening pat down on a stranger fill you with any feeling other than mild discomfort?

5) Does the idea of making someone late for their flight fill you with glee? 

6) Do you have a foot fetish of any kind?

7) Given the opportunity, would you open a stranger’s luggage to inspect it without being asked to do so?

8) Do you fully understand how dangerous more than 3.4 ounces of any liquid can really be?

9) Do you have a burning desire to see everyone’s portable electronic devices, such as laptop computers?

10) In this sample picture of an X-ray screen, do the machete and the souvenir coffee mug look identical to you?

11) Prior to coming to this interview today, were you ever turned down by Taco Bell because they didn’t think you could be trusted with the sour cream gun?

12) Do you desperately want this job for any other reason besides a steady paycheck?

 

I think these types of questions could be a great addition to the already amazing hiring process you have in place.

Again, I think you’re doing a really great job.

Yours in honor and security,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen

 

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Wednesday, July 13, 2022

An Open Letter to the Postmaster General

Dear Postmaster General,

For starters, I have absolutely no idea what your title means. I assume I’m writing to the person in charge, but maybe yours is an honorary title and you’re reading this from your yacht in the Caribbean while the actual CEO of the post office does all the work? (If that is the case, please have your yacht captain forward this to the CEO.)

If you are the one in charge, I have some questions about the title. “Postmaster” seems fairly self explanatory. You’re the master of all things postal. I get that. It’s the “General” that I’m confused about. Is that General as in encompassing all things, or is yours a formal military position?

If you are, in fact, part of the military, could I make a request that you change your staffing immediately. The civil servants delivering the mail now are, shall we say, a tad on the apathetic side. We could really turn that around by replacing them with Army Rangers.

Every kid in America, and probably most of the adults, would be thrilled to see the Blackhawk touch down in the middle of the cul-de-sac and the Rangers pour out from both sides to do a coordinated strike on the mailbox cluster. Costs may increase slightly, but efficiency will go through the roof. Something to think about.

Anyhow, I’m writing today on a postal matter that obviously needs your attention. I recently turned fifty, and out of nowhere my doctor’s office sent me a specimen collection kit in the mail.

The sending of the specimen kit to me is not the postal issue. The specimen kit, as of now, is harmless. However, if I follow their instructions, it won’t be harmless for long.

They want me to mail them my poop.

Now look, I don’t know if this is a prank or not, but the kit and the paperwork look fairly official. Apparently fifty is the age I need to start worrying about my colon. Add that to the long list of body parts I need to worry about, I guess. If the kit is bogus, it certainly is elaborate, so I’m treating it like it’s real. That being the case, this is obviously something you should be aware of.

Did you know about this? If this is real, I can’t imagine this is the first time this mail-order poop request has gone out. Again, I have no idea what your job entails, but I would rank preventing mailing of poop as probably a pretty high priority for your office.

The instructions are detailed and clear, and the poop collection stick and containment bottle seem well made, but let’s face facts. They want me to send my poop through the mail. That’s crazy.

How did something like that ever get approved by your office? Are you trying to tell me in all the years this has probably been taking place that not one less than desirable situation ever occurred with a poop mailing? I find that hard to believe.

You know FedEx and UPS would just be a hard no. How is the USPS allowing this? Are you asleep at the wheel? Just bad at your job? Or are you being paid off by the poop specimen lab lobbyists? That’s it, isn’t it!? You’ve used your powerful position for personal gain at the expense of the poor poop-toting mailmen. That’s how you can afford that gigantic yacht!

On second thought, you might not want to get the Army Rangers involved. I’m starting to understand the apathy I’m seeing in the civil servants you currently employ. If the Rangers ever found out they were transporting cardboard envelopes of poop, you might end up with a Blackhawk full of disgruntled soldiers landing on your shiny yacht.

I wonder if they’d land it on the poop deck, just for emphasis?

Probably best not to think about it.

Disappointedly,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen

 

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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

An Open Letter to the Guy Who Installed My Floor

Dear Captain Staple Gun,

I don’t know who you are, but since my house was built in the early 2000s, I am assuming you are in your mid to late 30s now. You might still work in construction if you managed to get yourself under control. If you did not calm down, I doubt you were able to hold down any sort of real job and are probably reading this from your parent’s basement.

I’m writing you today because I’m in the process of installing laminate flooring in our master bathroom, with which, you are familiar. You, after all, were there about twenty years ago installing the extra sheet of plywood onto the subfloor in the tiny little three-foot by five-foot toilet room.

Your boss, I’m sure, explained to you that the three-eighths plywood was necessary to raise the floor in that room up ever so slightly so the light beige linoleum would match the height of the dark beige carpet in the main bathroom.

In case you were wondering, the key words that identify the need for our new laminate flooring project are ”beige,” “linoleum,” and “bathroom carpet.”

I just want to start by saying thank you. Thank you for not gluing it down. Since the laminate floor will be continuous throughout the bathroom, I needed to pull out your small sheet of riser plywood so the subfloor would all be the same height. I was already on my knees when I discovered it, so I stopped and prayed that it was not glued down.

I’m not sure if you happen to remember which member of your construction crew installed our original hardwood floors downstairs, but if you do, I’d love it if you would do me a favor and set fire to their house.

We had this same laminate flooring installed in the entire downstairs area of our house a few years back, and I decided I would remove the old hardwood floors myself. After all, they were only in the kitchen and foyer. I thought, how hard could it be?

I’ll answer that for you. They were glued down with some substance the Pentagon would love to know about. You could have vaporized all of Placer county with a targeted nuclear strike centered on my home and those floors would have remained securely attached to the concrete slab, somewhere hundreds of miles away.

I had to cut through the hardwood with a Skilsaw, making a cut perpendicular to the board lengths every three inches, and chip the floor off with a giant long-handled scraper. It took our entire family of five a whole week to get the floor out of two rooms. I honestly wished I’d had access to nuclear weapons at the time. I still have a lingering case of PTSD about the whole thing.

So, yes, thank you for not gluing the plywood down, knowing you had access to whatever the hell that stuff was. That being said, this is where my thanks to you stops.

Instead of glue, you used the pneumatic staple gun that shoots two-inch construction staples. Good choice. I would have used that too. And if I was installing the small little piece of plywood to the small little floor of the small little toilet room, I would have used anywhere from twenty to thirty staples total. But that’s because I tend to overdo it a little on my fastener count. I want to know that it’s going to stay nailed down.

Not you, though. No sir. You, my friend, are on an entirely different level. I hammered my prybar under that sheet of plywood and got stopped cold by your first row of staples across the doorway. You had over thirty staples in that first row alone. The door is only twenty-eight inches wide, so you were doing better than one staple per inch. Impressive.

Speaking of staples per inch, or in the regular construction world, inches per staple, it would have been cool if you had some sort of plan or consistency to your work. But you didn’t. In some areas I encountered staples grouped so close together they were actually touching each other. In other places I may have gone a full two inches before I came upon another one of your little projectiles.

There was one spot in the middle where you had a six-inch line of staples so close together it looked like a zipper. A removal project that should have taken me about ten minutes to complete ended up taking me hours. Hours on my hands and knees in a tiny little room doesn’t really work for me anymore. I’m old now. And in more pain now because of your insane rampant stapling.

I just have to ask. What the hell were you doing? Were you hiding from the boss but needed to sound like you were still working? Were you hiding from the crazy hardwood gluer guy? Can’t blame you there. Was it the end of the day and you wanted to milk that project as long as possible so you didn’t have to start something else? I just have to know!

Were you getting paid by the staple instead of by the hour? That would explain why my fifteen-square-foot floor was honestly more staples than actual wood. I’m amazed it didn’t all cave in from the sheer weight of the steel.

Or was it your first day on the job and/or the first time you ever used a nail gun? If that was the case, then I guess I’m glad you had fun at least. And I hope you haven’t lost that childlike enthusiasm for life. I just never want you to do anything like that again.

Ever.

I have to go take more Advil now.

Settle down,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen

 

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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Be Best Life - Repost

A commissioner from the FCC is calling for Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores. If you are unfamiliar with TikTok (in other words, if you’re really old), chances are it’s the thing that your grandkids are staring at when they are staring at their phones. Which is all the time. Literally, right now. Look at them right now, and they will be watching a TikTok video.

TikTok is a video app where young people record themselves either dancing or hilariously getting “accidentally” hit with something by their friends, and then trillions and trillions of other young people watch those videos in a trance while drooling and forgetting to do their chores and homework.

The FCC has shown, however, that TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese government, is illegally data mining off every phone it’s installed on. TikTok is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but rest assured, your teenager doesn’t care, so Apple and Google will keep offering it.

TikTok may be bad, but I’m here to tell you that not everything coming out of China is nefarious. I mean, the copywriting on Chinese products is bad, but it’s hilarious, and only harmful to the sales of those products. Actually, it has an outside chance of being harmful to you, I guess, if you happen to fall over laughing like I did when I got the SUPERSEALER for Christmas.

The SUPERSEALER is a crappy ninety-nine-cent as-seen-on-TV plastic bag sealer that is really hard to operate and works poorly. I could care less about the bag sealer. I am in love with the little cardboard box it came in.

The WORKWONDER SUPERSEALER is made in China by a Chinese company that obviously has two copywriters. One of these people has some background in using the English language. We’ll call him Bob. The other has to be the owner’s son, and after disappointing performances in many different departments, copywriter was the least harmful position his dad could think of to stick him. We’ll assume the owner’s name is Mr. Wang. Mr. Wang doesn’t know any English either. Bob is obviously terrified of Mr. Wang and won’t tell him that Son of Wang partied continuously for four years at the international university in Beijing and knows no English whatsoever.

In a few places on the box, Bob invites me to Just slide SUPERSEALER across bags to seal in freshness!

Son of Wang tells me, Relaxed onepulls, guarantees quality to retain freshness. Based on what we get from Son of Wang in his main paragraph, I guarantee Bob helped him with the last half of that sentence.

Here’s Bob’s effort on selling us on the amazing benefits of the SUPERSEALER:

Finally an inexpensive and easy way to perfectly reseal unused poutions of food. This amazing new SUPERSealer creates an airtight seal that locks in freshness.

You simply slids SUPERSealer along the edge of any bag and it’s sealed airtight. It’s that easy. You’ll not only save on storage bags, but you can save even more buying bulk at warehouse clubs. Just use your SUPERSealer to reseal any unused portions over and over again!

I never claimed that Bob was great. I just said he has some background in English. He’s not the best speller, but I do have to give him credit for using American sayings like, “locks in freshness,” and “it’s that easy.” That would suggest that he has a better than average grasp on American English than your standard WORKWONDER employee.

Here’s what Son of Wang had to offer us. I swear, I am not making any of this up, and keep in mind, folks, this is written on the SAME BOX as Bob’s paragraph.

Have sometimes been able to affect your state of mindbecause of a lot of situation such as damp , becomingmildewed , depraved , water leaking from in the dailylife, have used you feel very vexed , good under this , have had the convenient plastic bag of new model seal implement , have all have made stable , no matter howvexed your nonutility be. Collection such as all food , clothing and other articales of daily use , postage stamp, you have put plastic bag lining inside as long as with them , seal machine has taken form lightly with convenient adheaive tape of new model as soon as the fault , one have protection against the tide , mould proof, the herm etic sealing bag retaining freshness. Such is simple , the simplicity is comfortable, be best life!

After reading the box about a hundred times (and laughing out loud every single time), I have to assume this conversation took place at the WORKWONDERS office prior to printing the box:

“My dad wants you to proofread my copy, Bob. What do you think?”

“This is the most unintelligible thing anyone has ever written. What the hell, Wang?”

“My dad is the owner. I’ll have you fired.”

“Looks great. Let’s print that box!”

 

I mean, am I a little concerned that Communist China will eventually collapse the world’s digital economy by waging a cyber war against us with our own data? Sure I am, but at least Son of Wang provided my family our new motto:

Be best life!

Postage stamp,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen

 

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