Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Thirteenth Open Letter to Lifetouch School Portraits

Dear Lifetouch School Portraits,

Gosh, fellas. Who woulda thought, only a few short years ago as I wrote you my first letter, that we’d need to get all the way up to letter number thirteen? But here we are.

I have felt, for a number of years now, that you might not be reading any of these letters that I so graciously spend my time and energy writing you. That was mostly due to the utter lack of response I have received from you. I see now how wrong I was.

Foolishly, I assumed you would respond to my helpful business advice with a civilized letter, a phone call, or maybe a nice note on your website. But it seems you are the petty, passive-aggressive type. You have chosen to take my sincere and constructive criticisms with a malice that was never present on my end. And you have chosen to take the low road; responding not to me, but instead, viciously attacking my children’s self-esteem.

Well, not all of them, actually. For some reason – probably rooted deep down in your brutal, calculating business core – you have chosen to retaliate on the weakest member of our herd, the youngest – Son Number Three.

Have you no shame? Have you no decency? Or are you going to claim innocence in this matter and try to convince me that you don’t have anyone in the building who can spell common English names?

No, I’m not talking about “Schmatjen.” That’s not common, or English. I mean, I think we can all agree that Schmatjen is a ridiculous last name. I expect it to be misspelled. I can’t even spell it correctly myself half the time.

But given the last name, we purposely gave all three boys traditional, easy-to-spell first names. Not like my parents, who doubled down on the crazy with Marc instead of Mark. We decided to give our children the gift of only needing to explain the spelling of their last name.

And yet, here in my hand is the class picture you produced. And there’s my youngest son, smiling sweetly in his cowboy hat and red bandana. (You may recall from Letters Eleven and Twelve your culpability in that make-up picture day costume extravaganza, which, by the way, may have either ruined our Christmas tradition of framed school portraits for the grandparents, or made it infinitely more awesome, depending on if you ask my wife or me. Guess who won that argument? Thanks again for that, jackasses.)

Anyway, there’s his smiling face… and there’s his “name” under his photo. Yep, there’s our son, Josepm Schmatjen.

Josepm? Seriously?

Congratulations. You got “Schmatjen” right, but couldn’t seem to pull off the easy first name. If this isn’t a backhanded attempt at retribution, then please tell me what’s going on over there.

Did you guys think my son was a nocturnal Hispanic child with a cool nickname?

Who’s coming over tonight?
Jose PM. We’re going out for another late night on the town.
Oh, I thought Joseam was coming over.
Nope, that kid’s always in bed by seven.

Or did you outsource the “Kids’ Names Below the Pictures” department to India, like you probably did with your call center? The reason I ask is his classmate Abhaijeet’s name is spelled correctly. Do you have some underpaid guy in a tiny office in Mumbai still trying to grasp all these crazy American names? “Timothy” is still a mystery, but to him, “Chhailbehari” looks like “John.”

I really don’t know what you have going on over there, but since you never reply, I’m forced to speculate. Given the deterioration in our relationship, I can’t help but think this might have been personal. I sure hope it wasn’t.

Hey, I just had a thought. Maybe I’ll send Son Number Three back for retakes dressed like a lifeguard with white zinc oxide on his nose. With a slight tweak of his already misspelled name I could use your free picture services to launch his career as Joe SPF, sunscreen model.

Let’s talk.


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day Part I and II - Reposts

You get a two-fer this Valentine’s Day. These words are as true today as when I wrote them oh, so many years ago. And unfortunately, I know even less about women now, so I have nothing new to add. Enjoy, and have the best Valentine’s Day you can possibly have, given the fact that it’s impossible to fully enjoy. Cheers!

“Valentine’s Day”
Originally posted February 14, 2012

I am coming up on ten years of marriage, so I thought, this Valentine’s Day, I would help all you guys out by imparting to you all of my knowledge about women. This should be pretty quick.

All you guys out there who have been married longer than ten years can refute this entire article, since marriage is an ever-changing, dynamic situation. All those of you out there who have been married less than ten years, treat this advice like the gospel itself. I know what I’m talking about!

All my vastly limited knowledge about women boils down to what I have learned about “quality time.”

In the beginnings of marriage, usually, unless you did things in the reverse order from the standard procedure, you don’t have any kids. You both work, and other than that, you have no responsibilities whatsoever. It’s awesome. You come home from work, and spend the entire evening together. You go out to dinner all the time, and you have more money than you know what to do with, even though, at the time, you think you’re poor. Boy, were you wrong.

Then the kids come and you find out the true definition of poor. When the kids are newborns, you foolishly think that you have no free time, but again, you are wrong. It is only when they grow up and start going to school and playing sports, and karate, and piano that you truly have no free time.

As your married life progresses and the kids get older and stop staying where you put them, your couple’s together time gets less and less. After almost ten years of marriage and three children, hypothetically seven, five, and three years old, you and your wife see each other for about twenty minutes a day.

As with anything in life, when you start running out of time, you invariably are forced to concentrate only on what is critical. For example, if you were only given five minutes per day to eat, you would not spend any of that five minutes chatting or doing the dishes. You would be stuffing your face with anything that was even remotely edible within arm’s reach for the entire five-minute period.

I think, as a general rule, guys tend to be much more pragmatic in those squeeze-play situations than women do. For instance, if a guy is on a boat and the captain suddenly starts shouting orders at him in an excited voice, most guys will tend to just grab the winch handle and start cranking it clockwise like they were told to do. It is more of a female trait to pause for a moment and wonder if the captain doesn’t think they can follow orders without being yelled at, or if they did something earlier in the day to make him angry with them.

When the couple’s together time gets squeezed down to twenty minutes per day, both parties naturally agree that they’d better make that time count, and make sure it’s all “quality time.” This is where the differences between men and women come into play. Both parties yearn for “quality time” with each other, but unfortunately, both parties have different definitions of “quality time.”

Now, like it or not, us men are pretty simple animals. Our “quality time” standard is universal, and does not involve clothing. Enough said.

Women, on the other hand, are very complex and complicated creatures. Their definition of “quality time” is a fast-moving target, based on a multitude of different factors that may or may not include the weather, the rude clerk at the department store, the temperature inside the house, their awesome boss, the cable company, their idiot boss, the smokin’ deal on spaghetti sauce in the paper, the kids’ reaction to dinner, the tone of your voice, the cost of living, the note from the teacher, the situation in the Middle-East, your cute text this afternoon, your son’s snotty attitude, the neighbor’s stupid dog, and any number of other things that you cannot possibly know about, but have a heavyweight bearing on the situation.

Nine times out of ten, your wife’s definition of quality time that day involves you doing a lot of listening, and cuddling on the couch, usually fully clothed. When that is the case, guess what you’ll be doing?

If you thought that you would be receiving some incredible nugget of wisdom or some sage-like advice at this point, you were dead wrong. I’ve got nothing. I don’t know any more about women than I did ten years ago. In fact, all told, I know a lot less.

All I really do know is that you’d better get on board with her definition of quality time if you ever hope to have her get on board with yours.

Happy Valentine’s Day, and good luck out there, men!

See you soon,


“Valentine’s Day, Part II”
Originally posted February 13, 2013

Valentine’s Day is a confounding “holiday.” The number of people around the world who actually enjoy Valentine’s Day is very, very small. Most women will probably tell you that they enjoy the day, but they’re lying. They’re only saying that because they don’t want to be seen as “anti-romance.” Truth be told, Valentine’s Day is very stressful for most people, men or women.

Let’s try to figure out who really likes Valentine’s Day. No man in the history of the world has ever liked it, so take out roughly half the population of the earth. Sure, it’s a day dedicated to romance, so if a guy plays his cards (and flowers) right, he might get rewarded for his efforts. However, this is a day where he is expected to be romantic, no matter what. If he happens to forget and go about his business as usual, he will be in deep trouble. Birthdays and anniversaries are one thing, but Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year where every guy in the world can simultaneously get into a special, life-long, still-bringing-it-up-twenty-five-years-later kind of trouble, just for doing the same thing we did the day before. By the mere act of being yourself, you can be branded for life as an uncaring idiot, if you happen to forget the 14th of February. Who needs that?

By my (incredibly limited) experience, cards and flowers have a much more positive impact on her emotions (and on your love life) if they are given when she is not expecting them. A specific day of the year when they are mandatory?  Far too much pressure. And speaking of pressure, it is entirely one-sided. There has never been a man in the history of the world who’s has had his feelings hurt when his wife or girlfriend didn’t get him a card on Valentine’s Day. The onus is all on the men. Heaven forbid you screw it up, boys. If you do, Valentine’s Night will be pretty lonely. It’ll just be you and your onus.

As I said at the beginning, no man has ever liked Valentine’s Day, but that doesn’t mean they all dislike it. Single men who are not dating have no particular feelings towards it one way or the other. They could care less about it. Single women who are not dating, however, hate Valentine’s Day. This is due to the fact that men and women are polar opposites when it comes to feelings about anything other than food and shelter being good things. Valentine’s Day for the single female is a myriad of emotions, all of them probably serving some sort of anthropological function, but none of them that you want to get anywhere within forty feet of. Most of these emotions will be doused with wine, which can either have a suppressive effect, much like throwing a bucket of gasoline on a single match, or in most cases, an accelerant effect, much like throwing a bucket of gasoline on a campfire. Either way, it is best to observe the forty-foot perimeter.

Valentine’s Day for the single male means a shorter wait at the pizza place.

For women who are dating or married, Valentine’s Day is stressful. Not as stressful as it is for their men, but some amount of the man’s stress is transferred to the woman. That’s because the women know that we won’t get it right, no matter how hard we try, so they spend the weeks before Valentine’s Day worrying about what we’ll get wrong. Will he screw it completely up like I think he will, or will he surprise me and get it almost right? Never mind perfect. That ain’t happening.

Women who are dating someone casually worry that their significant other will go overboard and try too hard, making Valentine’s Day awkward instead if nice. Women who are dating someone seriously worry about the marriage proposal. If she feels that the proposal is imminent or overdue, she will worry that he won’t ask her to marry him. If she feels like it isn’t proposal time just yet, she will worry that he will ask.

In my estimation, women who are already engaged to be married are the only ones who truly enjoy a stress-free Valentine’s Day. If a lady’s fiancé has a track record of forgetting Valentine’s Day, she probably wouldn’t be engaged to him in the first place, so there is much less of a chance that she’s worried he will forget. (Naïvely, she thinks he will always remember the day once they are married. Boy, is she wrong!) There is no proposal pressure or worry, since that already happened, and since both parties are in constant communication about romantic stuff like wedding plans, chances are the guy will have a pretty good idea of what to do for the gift. Jewelry, flowers, chocolates, just a simple card… He is about as locked in as he’s ever going to be on what she wants. He will never know for sure, however, because reading a woman’s mind is a lot like reading Sanskrit in the dark. You’re never going to get it exactly right.

So, of all the people currently on the planet, the only ones who enjoy a truly worry-free and relaxing Valentine’s Day are most of the engaged women, and a handful of female newlyweds.  That probably works out to be far less than one percent of the population.

This leads me to the question of why we still have Valentine’s Day in the first place.

I don’t buy the argument that it’s just a day created by the greeting card, flower, and chocolate industries. It goes deeper than that. We all feel like we have to participate, because the men don’t want to be seen as the Scrooge of February, and the women don’t want to be left out. Truth be told, everyone would be a lot happier and less stressed if the day just went away, but stopping Valentine’s Day is an all or nothing deal. If there is one single solitary guy left on the earth still buying flowers for his fiancé on the 14th of February, the rest of us are going to hear about it.

Until those engaged guys can stand up and say no, we’re all going to have to keep going with it. Those engaged guys are weak. They are scared to screw anything up, and rightfully so. They don’t know what they’re getting into, and they know they don’t know. They are yes men, just trying to survive. They will never help us.

So, we’re stuck with it. Do your best, and hope for the best. That’s all we can do.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go see if they have any Valentine’s cards left at the gas station mini-mart. My wife loves those cards. I think.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

An Open Letter to Our Parents

Dear Mom & Dad,

I want to apologize for everything.

Your eldest grandson is now thirteen years old and has become a total butt. This development is probably no surprise to you, but we were caught completely off guard. He used to be so nice and now he is a moody, stubborn turd.

I mean, we still love him and all. It’s just that we don’t want to live with him half the time anymore. Come to think of it, this is probably why they invented boarding schools on the east coast, huh?

Anyway, like I said, this probably isn’t a shock to you, since you had me. Hence my apology. Looking back on it all, I remember knowing everything there was to ever know. If only I knew half as much today as I thought I knew then!

I was always right. I was convinced of everything. I had opinions that could not be argued. I didn’t want to hear it. I was not nice. I was probably mean to my sisters but thought they were really the ones being mean to me.

I had no goals or plans or skills of any kind. I had nothing to do all day but still complained about doing anything at all. My judgement was crap and my ability to plan was even worse.

My comprehension of cause and effect was nonexistent. I was impulsive and dumb and unable to come up with a good reason for anything I did, other than, “Whatever. I don’t want to talk about it.”

I understand now that this all stems from the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The prefrontal cortex – which, as any reputable brain surgeon will tell you, is probably located directly north of the post-rearward cortex – is the part of the brain in charge of not being a giant butt face. Apparently, no one’s works at thirteen.

The nice folks at the middle school sat us down at the beginning of the school year and told us all about the lame-o prefrontal cortices of thirteen-year-olds and what to look forward to. I’m not sure I totally believed their hype at the time, but now I’m thinking they might have held back some of the more disturbing information just to keep us from trying to preemptively sell our kid.

Too late for that now. Anyway, I just wanted to say sorry for my teenage years. Sorry for being such a turd, and thanks a million for never kicking me out of the house.

To return the favor, I guess we will continue to provide room and board to your intolerable butt of a grandson.

Love you both,


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Something Stinks at the DMV

We have had a major shift in our public services. The script has been flipped, as the cool kids say. The Department of Motor Vehicles used to be the gold standard for government inefficiency, but not so anymore. Based on a few news items that caught my attention recently and my own personal DMV experience this week, I would have to conclude that the DMV is greased lightning compared to our justice system.

Don’t get me wrong. The DMV still sucks immensely. They’re just doing it much quicker now. I had a DMV appointment at 8:30 A.M. on Monday to get new license plates. I walked out at 8:32 A.M. with my new plates. The thing that took the longest was having to walk all the way around the line of eighty-five people without appointments to get out the door. Moral: Don’t go to the DMV without an appointment. And also, based on a recent news story, if you have an appointment to get a commercial drivers license, but can’t pass the test, you should bring bribe money. Apparently, it speeds the process along.

Yes, the headline reads: Two California DMV managers investigated in bribery scheme.

For the second time in just over a year, the California Department of Motor Vehicles is dealing with a federal investigation for bribery.

According to court documents obtained by KCRA 3 Investigates, Kari Scattaglia and Lisa Terraciano, both managers at the DMV in the Los Angeles area, accepted bribes to allow drivers to get commercial drivers licenses that allow people to drive semi trucks, tour buses and other large commercial vehicles.

You read that correctly. People who had no business doing so were driving tour busses and semi trucks, thanks to the California DMV.

The complaint… states that the two managers had been taking money to give passing grades and commercial licenses since 2013.

Over the last year, federal agents set up sting operations at least six times where they asked the two managers to change failing grades and grant Class C licenses.

So, here’s my problem with this. It’s not that two government employees thought they could use their positions of power to cheat and steal. That’s like breathing for a lot of government employees. Sad, but not shocking. My problem is with the federal agents who felt the need to set up six separate sting operations over an entire year, and apparently have known about these two idiots for FIVE years.

Hey, federal agents, how about just one single sting operation and remove them from their jobs right away, huh? Throw them in jail or don’t, but get them out of the DMV so Bad Choices Bob, the Unsafe Truck Driver, isn’t hurtling his massive rig down the highway near my family while he smokes crank and continues not knowing what the minimum safe following distance should be for an 80,000-pound Peterbilt with forged maintenance records.

And these two ladies weren’t the only DMV employees in on this lucrative off-books retirement plan. There have been investigations in Sacramento and San Joaquin County as well, both spanning multiple years!

Ultimately, the DMV admitted that more than 600 illegal commercial licenses were issued in the Northern California scheme. The office would not reveal how many more commercial licenses were allegedly issued by the two Los Angeles-area managers, claiming that it was an open investigation.

Six hundred truck drivers on the road in Northern California, and an untold number in Southern California, all of whom had no business driving a Miata, let alone a semi or a tour bus. That actually explains a lot about the state of things out on the highways these days, but it does not explain this: How, in this situation, are the good guys as slow as the DMV, and the DMV is finally efficient, handing out bogus licenses as fast as McDonald’s hands out heart disease.

I mean, maybe the federal investigators didn’t have an appointment and had to wait in that line. Maybe that’s why it took five years to stop these people. Who knows?

The other news item that caught my attention was from all the way over in Kansas City, Missouri, but ties in perfectly in my mind with the California DMV story. The headline reads: Suspect's farting shuts down interrogation.

A police interrogation of a Kansas City man charged with drug and gun offenses ended prematurely when an investigator was driven from the room by the suspect's excessive flatulence.

A detective reported that when asked for his address, 24-year-old Sean Sykes Jr. "leaned to one side of his chair and released a loud fart before answering."

The Kansas City Star reports that Sykes "continued to be flatulent" and the detective was forced to quickly end the interview.

How could these two stories be related, you ask? Simple. If our federal justice system is really concerned with justice, those bribe-taking California DMV employees will all be flown out to Kansas City and put in the same air-tight cell with Sean Sykes Jr.

Having Mr. Sykes transported on a plane to California just seems too risky for everyone involved.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

High School Knowledge Week

I went back to high school today. Not my own high school, but a very similar one. It felt the same. The smell of gym socks and mysterious cafeteria “food” has not changed much in thirty years.

It’s career week at Rocklin High, and they invited me to speak about being an author. I wanted to speak about being a bullfighter, but they said it was better to stick to things I’d had direct experience with, so whatever. Author it is.

I really had a fun time sharing my knowledge and insights with the students about authoring, but I also felt like I left a lot on the table, advice-wise. I mean, I gave them plenty of advice about being an author, such as, “If you want to be able to afford food and clothing, be a dentist instead,” and “Never name your evil villainess after your mother-in-law if you can help it.”

But I really wished I could have gone a step further and given them general high school life advice. The format and time constraints of the day wouldn’t allow for it, but there was definitely more wisdom I wanted to impart, such as:

- Talk to the girl. She’s nervous and self-conscious just like you are, even if all you see is her being amazing and you having zits. If she wants nothing to do with you, smile and say, “OK, no sweat. I hope you have a great day.” Or cover her front yard in toilet paper at midnight. Either way you want to play it is cool.

- Pay attention, you idiot. The things they are teaching you do not suck and are not lame. This is all stuff you will need in life. Except algebra. Algebra does suck and is lame. No one uses algebra in their job.

- Here’s a good joke for your math teacher:
What does the little mermaid wear to math class?
An algebra.
You’re welcome.

- While you are here, learn to form grammatically correct sentences on paper and with your face. If you can’t do that, you will always work at the car wash.

- Drive while driving. And drive as little as possible while you’re in high school. You think you’re amazing at it, but you’re not. You suck at it. So much.

- Stand up straight, look people in the eye, have a firm handshake, and speak clearly. In other words, stop being you and start acting like a human. It’s time.

- Quit wearing beanie hats unless it is below 45 degrees. Never wear them indoors, unless you work in a walk-in freezer.

- Be extra nice to your joints – your knees in particular. Trust me.

- Go to any other country before you start college. Just go. You don’t need any money.

- Get your hair out of your eyes. For you boys, it makes you look like a lazy slob. For you girls, it makes you look like Cousin It. Not good, either way.

- Go to any other country after you finish college. Just go. You still don’t need any money.

- Sit up straight.

- Your parents know a lot of useful information, and they want you to have it because they love you. You don’t know anything useful at all. Listen to them and stop being a turd.

- And no, having “likes” on your selfies is not useful. Stop taking selfies and learn how to cook a steak properly.

- Pronounce words correctly.

- You will get out of college exactly what you put into it. So be sure to study. Also, be sure to learn how to do an upside-down keg stand properly. Both are vitally important to college.

- Seriously, stop wearing beanie hats.

- Get a job if you don’t have one yet. You are not too busy. Throw your cell phone away and you just freed up 80% of your day.

- Once you learn something, start your own business with zero dollars in your bank account. If you fail, big deal. You’ll still have zero dollars. If you succeed, you’ll have more than zero. It’s just simple math.

- Deodorant. Always.

- Don’t say, “To be honest with you...”
It gives the impression you aren’t being honest all the other times.

- And above all else, remember -  Us adults are just as lost as you, but we have mortgages. Stay in high school. You have no idea how good you have it.

I’m going back tomorrow to talk to more students. Maybe I’ll find time to fit some of this good stuff in.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Pinewood Derby

Son Number Two is a builder. He started with Legos, but long ago abandoned them in favor of my Dewalt driver drill and 4 x 8 sheets of plywood. He has his own tool belt. His favorite Christmas gift this year was a Home Depot gift card. He buys construction screws in bulk.

He builds mostly weapons and shelters. He would have been a good medieval villager. He has a “fort” on the side of our house – fully visible from the street, so as to curry favor with our neighbors – made of OSB plywood, discarded fence wood, and random 2 x 4’s. It looks like an Afghan refugee camp from the outside, but inside it has furniture and running water, which most Afghan refugees would probably love. Come to think of it, his fort might actually have an afghan inside since he also crochets.

So, when our neighbor came over and asked if he would like to compete in their cub scout troop’s annual Pinewood Derby race, he naturally said, “What’s a Pinewood Derby?” After they explained that you built a car and raced it, he was all in. He was slightly less enthusiastic later when I explained that he wasn’t allowed to add a motor to the car, but he got over it and remained adequately enthused.

We have never been involved in scouting, but we did see the movie Down and Derby, so we were already alert to some of the tendencies of dads to take over the project, to the detriment of the child’s overall experience. No way was I going to make that mistake! As a recovering engineer, I would definitely need to refrain from interjecting myself into the design of his car. I would help with the cutting of his wood block, but past that, I’d let him do all the work.

After discussing his plans with him, it turned out he was only planning on sanding, painting, nailing, and gluing. When I asked about his plans for 3D prototype printing, honing, powder coating, dynamic balancing, and wind tunnel testing, he just stared at me blankly. It was his project, so I let it go.

One minor area I helped with was reading the instruction sheet. He was given an official Pinewood Derby kit, with all the materials included he would need to build the car. Immediately sensing the piece of paper with all the annoying words was useless, he tossed it aside and got right to work. I had a feeling that whoever bothered to type the words on the paper might know a little more about the Pinewood Derby rules and car specs than us, so I retrieved it from the garage floor, making an old man noise as I bent down, as is my custom, and read the instructions.

You are allowed (and encouraged) to sand your axles down for less wheel friction. Since the axles provided were basically just nails, I seconded the encouragement to sand them down. He sanded for a few minutes and got bored. I tried to explain the disastrous negative effects on forward gliding motion as a result of increased wheel bearing friction to him, but he just shrugged. I found some time to sand in the evenings.

The car can’t be longer than 7 inches. He drew his car-shaped design on the side of the pinewood block provided in the kit, and asked me to cut it out. I told him no way I would consent to cut it out, because his design was less than 7 inches long. Why would you shorten a car that is supposed to go fast? Who does that?

Once we had a 7.000-inch-long car cut out, it was time to think about where to mount the axles and wheels. The car came with standard slots for the axle nails, and guess what? Captain Derby wanted to use those. Hello?? McFly??? The rules state that you could increase the wheelbase, as long as the wheels don’t stick out past either end of the car. Why would you use the shorter wheel base? Are you trying to lose? We will of course be drilling new axle holes for the longest wheel base possible.

You can only use dry lubricant on the axles. He asked me if we had any and I said no. He just shrugged and said, “I guess we won’t use any then.”

What? Are you crazy? No lubricant? Didn’t it ever occur to you that we could go online and order a special aircraft-grade Teflon/graphite blend, guaranteed to obliterate the standard dry metal-on-plastic coefficient of friction, from a custom dry lubricant manufacturer in Dayton, Ohio? What the hell are they teaching you in the sixth grade?

The car is allowed (and encouraged) to be painted. He just wanted to use spray paint from the garage shelf. Well, that sounds like a great way to lose. Why don’t we just put glue and feathers all over the outside to slow it down even more? No, we’ll be getting a three-part acrylic resin underlayment with an epoxy top coating that we can buff to a mirror shine. You go to bed, I’ll handle the fourth and fifth coats.

The car can’t weigh more than 5 ounces. When I explained that you wanted it as heavy as possible, he actually said, “We’ll just get close.” Good call, son. Maybe when we drive to the race, we can just get close, but not actually go inside. Not only do we need to be 5.0000 ounces on race night, but we need to run a whole battery of tests to decide proper weight placement and distribution. I’ll take it from here if you want to go play.

In the end, we had a great time building the car together, but I really wish I had more time to dedicate to the project. I wasn’t totally happy with the car on the morning of race day, but I was able to take the day off and do some tweaks and modifications while he was at school. By race night I thought we had a pretty decent product. Certainly good enough to take first place in this small town rinky-dink division.

We came in fourth out of eleven cars. Fourth! I’m deeply disappointed, not in our design, but with the other dads. I am seriously questioning the shaping and ground clearance specs on Dad Number Three’s car. I guess nothing else got done that week at his aerospace firm. I’m assuming Dad Number Two owns a machine shop specializing in turning, grinding, and polishing miniature axles, and don’t even get me started on Dad Number One’s custom recessed underside lead weight arrangement. Talk about hijacking the project from the kids.

I’m glad my son and I didn’t fall into that same trap. We had a great time together designing the car. I think he really enjoyed penciling in the car’s initial profile on that block of wood. And I think he learned a lot when I explained to him why his design was crap.

If you’ll excuse me now, I need to get back to the design and prep work for next year, and I need to figure out where those other dads buy their wheel lubricants.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What's in a Name?

Usually, at the beginning of each year I do an “About the Author” column to help our new readers get to know me a little better by learning some incredibly interesting facts, like my favorite breakfast cereal, and which shoe I put on first.

Recently, however, I have begun to notice how many other Marcs there are on, so in lieu of a “getting to know you” column this year, I thought I’d go with a “getting to know who I’m not” theme.

When you go to Amazon looking for one of my books (two-thirds of my sons think they’re really great), and you start typing my name in the search bar, things can get confusing.

For instance, if you just type in “Marc,” there can be a lot of misleading suggestions dropping down for you.

Marc Jacobs is not me. Apparently, he’s some big shot fashion guy from New York. He seems to only design things for women. In contrast, I know nothing about women and even less about women’s fashions.

Marc Anthony is a singer who is also not me. I can’t sing. I think he also dances, so that’s strike two. He might also have a line of expensive women’s hair care products. I don’t know anything about women’s hair care or even men’s hair care. I don’t even have any hair to care for. Strike three.

If you type in my first name, but have no idea how to spell my last name (and who could blame you?), but you suspect it might start with a consonant, you’d be right! Being the shrewd guesser you are, you would probably choose the right one and type “Marc S.” This still presents problems.

One of the first drop-down suggestions Amazon will give you is Bruno Marc shoes. Marc is my first name, not my last, and I don’t make shoes. I own shoes, but none by Bruno Marc. His shoes seem fairly affordable, though, so maybe I’ll grab a pair.

Marc Secchia might be your next choice. You’re getting closer, because he’s an author too, but he writes prolifically about dragons. I can’t even spell prolifically, and I don’t write about dragons.

You might be tempted to click on Marc Singer, but I’ve already told you, I don’t sing. And I was also not the super-buff star of the 1982 smash hit The Beastmaster, even though people get me confused with that guy all the time.

I am also not Marc Shapiro, even though he’s an author as well. He seems to write unauthorized biographies on semi-famous people. If I were going to write a biography on someone, chances are I would get their permission first. I hate getting sued.

If you happen upon Marc Stevens in your drop-down choices, beware. He writes what appears to be very low-budget erotica. I am a children’s book author. Those two things don’t go together.

Marc Simont and Marc Silvestri are also not me. They are illustrators of books. I am not. I wish I was, but my stick figures don’t even look like people. It’s sad, really.

If you have a near-photographic memory and somehow remembered that my last name starts with “Sch,” you can still get into trouble. Typing in “Marc Sch” brings up more issues.

Marc Schelske is a Christian author and also seems to be a singer. I’m a Christian, and also an author, but “Christian author” usually gets you a specific type of book. And we’ve been over the whole singer thing. The world does not need to hear me try to sing. The unruly crowd at the karaoke place made that abundantly clear.

Marc Schoen, a man who is also not me, is a Ph.D. in something or other who has also written books, two of which are entitled When Relaxation is Hazardous to your Health, and Your Survival Instinct is Killing You. He sounds fun, huh? I, on the other hand, want you to live a long, healthy life. And I think you should relax and take a break whenever you want, unless you’re my pilot.

Marc Schorin is not a real person, but I am. His name comes up because a lot of people who want to learn how to stop relaxing keep misspelling Schoen.

Marc Schiller is a real person, who wrote a real book about his really weird life story. He’s the real-life victim of the insane kidnapping and murder plot by three steroid-junkie Miami personal trainers known as the Sun Gym Gang in 1994. Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson play two of the idiot bodybuilding criminals in the recent movie, Pain & Gain. I have never, to my knowledge, been kidnapped by muscular lunatics.  

Once you’ve got as far as “Marc Sch,” if you’re good enough to guess the next letter correctly as “m,” you should be home free. I think I’m the only “Marc Schm” on the Amazon suggestions list.

So there you go, new readers. Now you know a little about who I am and a lot about who I’m not, as well as how to avoid the pitfalls and successfully navigate to “Marc Schmatjen” on Amazon. Thanks for joining us! Browse around a while and see if there’s anything that catches your eye. And for any of you veteran readers who already have some or all of my books, I would sincerely appreciate an honest Amazon review from you or your kids. Thanks in advance!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Roar of the Antioxidants

I know what you did on Sunday night. No, not that. The other thing. Yes, on New Year’s Eve you declared to yourself and the rest of the party guests that you had a resolution. Some of you may have even remembered what it was the next morning.

This is the year you’re finally going to eat healthy.

You fool. You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. Sure, healthy eating sounds great and all, until you really hear it. It made me deaf.

I was like you once. All full of New Year’s resolution, ready to kick those junk food habits and eat clean. It was going to be great. A few years ago on January 1st I fired up my new healthy diet. And what’s healthier for breakfast than a fruit smoothie? Answer: nothing.

Bananas, apples, peaches, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, and even some spinach thrown in there. How could I go wrong? Just toss it all into my wife’s Vitamix blender and flip the switch.

Holy horsepower, Batman, this thing could blend a brick. And wow is it loud! I mean, I’ve made my fair share of margaritas over the years, but those old blenders never sounded like this. Even crushing ice with the “frappe” button when the Oster was switched to “high” wasn’t half as loud as this Vitamix just chopping up some fruit.

Sweet mother, I’m only at 7 on the 10 dial. What the hell does the “high” switch do? Oh, it makes the blender sound less like a NASCAR engine and more like one of the jets on a 737, that’s what.

Wow! This thing is insane. Our antioxidants are going 400 mph. I just made a fruit smoothie in 2.6 seconds. I love this blender!!

Turbo smoothies became a morning staple, and eating clean was going great until one night a few months ago my whole family started getting agitated and walking around the living room saying things like, “Where is it?”, “Who has it?”, and “Is it in the couch?” Everyone was annoyed but me, and I couldn’t figure out what they were talking about.

“What are you looking for?”
“The watch!”
“What watch?”
“You don’t hear that?”
“Hear what?”
“You’re joking, right?”
Now they were all staring at me incredulously instead of looking for some watch.
“You don’t hear the watch alarm going off in this room right now?”
“What watch alarm?”
“You have to be kidding.”
“Here it is,” said one of our boys, finding the offending digital watch under the corner of the couch. He held it up. “Hear it now?”
“Hear what?”
At this point they all can’t believe what they’re hearing (or more to the point, what I wasn’t), and I think they’ve all conspired against me in some half-assed and altogether idiotic plot to make me think I can’t hear anything. Then they handed me the watch. Holding it in my hand, I was still convinced I was being punked. But when I held it up to ear – literally pressed against my ear - I could finally hear the beeping. Faintly.

Hmm… that can’t be good.

A few weeks ago I took the boys to their annual check-up visit at the doctor. As part of the initial tests, the nurse put headphones on them and checked their hearing. All three boys laughed and told the nurse that I was the one he should be checking. He offered to check my hearing when he was done with them, so I put the headphones on and prepared to raise my hand when I heard the beep.

It was a long time before I ever raised my hand.

At one point, I stopped and told the guy I thought the headphones weren’t working. He assured me they were working fine. He knew they were because everyone else in the room could hear the beep coming from the headphones – located ON MY HEAD – and I still hadn’t raised my hand.

Apparently, as kids we are supposed to be able to hear sound frequencies between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz. Your standard middle-aged man can hear between 20 and 16,000 Hz, and an old man should be able to hear between 20 and 8,000 Hz.

Normal conversation happens at 4000 Hz and below, which is good news, because I could hear the beeps below 4000 Hz. It’s above that where my problem lies. I seem to be just fine from 20 – 4000 Hz, but severely iffy between 4000 and 5000.

Above 5000 Hz I have the hearing of a grapefruit. Nada. Zip. I max out 11,000 Hz below my own age group, and old-timer grandpa can hear 3000 Hz more than me.

Drastic measures need to be taken. Hearing aids? Of course not! Hearing aids are for old people. I’m just going to stop using the Vitamix. Fruit smoothies have obviously destroyed my hearing, so fruit smoothies must go before I start hobbling around with a cane saying “Eh?” to everyone I meet.

Be careful what you wish for. Eating clean has been proven to be incredibly dangerous. That’s why this year my New Year’s resolution is to get back to my old habit of eating Oreos for breakfast. Oreos are silent. Oreos can’t damage your hearing. It’s science.

Happy New Year,


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Be Best Life! - Repost

It has been 364 days since I posted the column below about my favorite Christmas gift of all time, and to this day, my family and I are still quoting Son of Wang.
“The simplicity is comfortable.” Enjoy!

I got the best Christmas gift EVER this year. It’s 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!”

Thank you, Son of Wang, for giving my family our new motto for 2017.

Be best life!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2017 Marc Schmatjen

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The 2017 Do-it-Yourself Christmas Letter

You’ve done it again, haven’t you? It’s December 20th and you haven’t written your annual Christmas letter yet. The stores were sold out of holiday stationery three weeks ago and you just don’t have the energy to think up a bunch of lies about how “successful” everyone in your family has been.

You were probably thinking the situation was hopeless, but like every other important decision you made this year, once again, you’re wrong. Finally, for once this year, there’s hope. I’ve got you covered! The 2017 DIY Christmas letter is here, just for you.

So, pour yourself another 100-proof glass of eggnog, bubble in the appropriate choices with a #2 pencil, fill in the blank if needed, and you’re all set.

You don’t have to thank me. It’s just what I do.

Christmas 2017

O   family member,
O   close friend,
O   friend from thirty years ago that I probably wouldn’t recognize even if we were introduced,
O   co-worker who sent me a Christmas card last year so now I’ve added you to the list,
O   ex-co-worker who I rarely, if ever, see, but it would be awkward if I took you off the list and then saw you in January,

Merry Christmas from the
O   Smith Family!
O   Gonzalez Family!
O   Lee Family!
O   Johnson Family!
O   Other _______________!

We feel so blessed to
O   have you in our lives.
O   see you once in a while.
O   hardly ever run into you.
O   have been able to avoid you that one time at Walmart by ducking into the bedding aisle and hiding in the pillow display.

We had another
O   amazing
O   nice
O   disappointing
O   mind-numbingly bad

year around here!

Dad has been
O   keeping busy
O   mostly staying out of trouble
O   incarcerated
O   embarrassing the family

all year. He continues to
O   work and enjoy his job.
O   goof off more than he should.
O   add time to his sentence for bad behavior.
O   avoid his responsibilities at all costs while making a complete ass of himself.

Mom still
O   works with kids
O   lays on the couch
O   abuses her Xanax prescription
O   shoots her mouth off

every day, and we’re all amazed at her
O   energy level.
O   ability to do nothing.
O   incoherent speeches.
O   ability to make every other life form on the planet dislike her.

Sister has a new
O   fiancé
O   iPhone
O   idiot yappy little Taco Bell dog
O   street corner
O   all of the above

and we are all getting
O   excited for the wedding.
O   way too many emoji texts and stupid duck-lip selfies with graphics added to them.
O   money together to hire a doggy hitman.
O   tired of bailing her out of jail.
O   all of the above

Brother and his wife are
O   expecting their third child in a few months
O   coasting, relationship-wise
O   moving further away from us
O   finally splitting up

and we
O   can’t wait to meet the newest grandbaby!
O   don’t think they’ll make the long run.
O   only wish they were moving further.
O   are thrilled to see her go because none of us ever liked her in the first place.

The grandkids continue to
O   grow like adorable little weeds
O   break things at our house
O   grate on our nerves
O   be a constant source of shame to our family

and they
O   couldn’t be smarter, cuter, or more talented.
O   never offer to pay for anything they break, the little cheapskates.
O   are completely without manners or decorum in any and all situations.
O   make us seriously consider just leaving them at a rest stop.

We certainly hope your year has been
O   as blessed as ours
O   filled with joy
O   better than ours was, for your sake
O   free from the need for police intervention
O   better than your last year, you sorry bastards

and we count you among our
O   dearest loved ones.
O   B-list friends.
O   annual holiday obligations.
O   list of people we keep in touch with for comparison, to make us feel better about ourselves.

If you’re ever in town, be sure to
O   stop by!
O   text us and maybe we can grab a coffee or something, if we have time.
O   see the new mall.
O   keep driving.

Have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

You’re welcome. Now just sign, copy and send. You’re all set.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2017 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Golfing with Bob - Repost

The world recently lost a great man. Bob Loperena, Sr., my wife’s grandfather, passed away last month. He was just 99 days shy of his 100th birthday.

He smoked a pipe and ate nothing but sugar and bacon his whole life, so let that be a lesson to you kids out there.

The family got together over the weekend and had a wonderful memorial service, telling stories and remembering his long, successful, and amazing life. Anyone who ever met him was better for the experience, and us lucky few that were related to him count our time with him as a true gift from God.

Here’s something I wrote about him in July of 2011:

Bob is 93 years old. He can't hear, can't see very well anymore, and can't walk very fast. He has his own golf cart, and when we drive up to the first tee, the starter knows him by name.

I am 39 years old. I can hear and see just fine, and I can run when I need to. I don't own my own golf cart, and the starter doesn't know me from Adam.

We step up onto the first tee box at Morro Bay on a beautiful summer morning with the slight ocean breeze making a gorgeous day just that much better. Bob has lived in this idyllic beach paradise for 60 years. I just visit occasionally.

I swing my club back and forth in large exaggerated arcs, trying to stretch the muscles in my back. Bob laughs at me and says that I'm wasting a lot of precious energy. He does not warm up.

It is the 4th of July weekend, and my family and I are in town to celebrate our nation’s independence with my wife’s family. Bob knows a thing or two about liberty, and what it takes to keep it. He was the pilot of a Navy bomber at an early age during WWII. He fought for the freedom of the civilized world, and returned home in one piece to tell about it.

His commitment to liberty has remained strong his entire life. He has been retired for many, many years now, never having had a boss. He worked for himself his whole life, free to schedule in as much golf as he could get away with. He scheduled in a lot of golf! I only manage to find time for golf when I’m on vacation. I don’t play much.

It’s time for us to tee off on the 480-yard par-five. I'm up first. I square up with my driver and let it rip. My backswing comes way over my head with the club shaft coming parallel with the ground, and my follow through comes all the way around so the club's shaft is vertical behind my back. It's a picture-perfect amateur’s swing. My ball takes flight and rockets out away from the tee box. As I admire its trajectory, it defies my wishes, slicing to the right, leaving the airspace over my own fairway and ending up coming to rest 270 yards away under a small tree on the other side of the cart path. Bob laughs at me and says, "Boy, if I could hit the ball as far as you do, I'd be unstoppable." He takes his driver out of the bag and shuffles up to the box. His backswing barely gets more than 10 degrees behind his legs, and his follow through is non-existent. He hits it 100 yards. It goes straight up the middle of the fairway. 

We hop in Bob's cart and drive to his ball. He gets the 3-wood out of his bag and hits it again, 100 yards, straight up the middle of the fairway. He keeps the 3-wood handy as he gets back in the cart, knowing he'll need it again. We drive straight up the middle of the fairway to his ball, which he hits again, 100 yards, again, right up the middle of the fairway.

We then take a sharp right turn off the fairway to find my ball. My ball is under a tree and the tree is between my ball and the green. The smart move is to hit a short sideways shot back onto the safety of my own fairway. Not always one for the smart move, I opt to try and knock down a 3-iron, under the tree, at a slight angle to the green, making up some ground and possibly getting to the edge of the green for a chance at birdie. I let it rip. I am an idiot. My ball skips off the side of the tree I was under, and hits the neighboring tree square in the trunk, sending my ball ricocheting backward at a 45- degree angle onto my own fairway. I have lost 50 yards with my second shot. Bob chuckles and tells me that I’m going the wrong way. I thank him.

We drive the cart away from the green toward my ball. I really get ahold of my 3-wood on my third shot and hit the ball almost 250 yards again, slicing to the right again, landing almost pin-high, but to the extreme right of the green, almost on the tee box of Hole 2.

Bob hits his fourth shot 100 yards, straight up the middle of the fairway.

Bob hits his fifth shot 70 yards, onto the green, 5 feet from the pin.

I chip my fourth shot all the way over the green, landing near, but luckily not in, the sand trap on the left side of the green.

I re-chip for my fifth shot, onto the green, 17 feet from the pin.

I putt my sixth shot to within 6 feet of the hole.

Bob easily makes his 5-foot putt for a bogie six.

I miraculously toilet-bowl my 6-foot putt into the hole for a double-bogie seven.

Bob has beaten me by a stroke on the first hole. This continued all morning.

He never hit the ball more than 100 yards at a time the entire round. I got ahold of one drive on Hole 13 that I swear went 320 yards. Big deal. He beat me by 11 strokes.

Bob shot his age. At 93 years old, he shot a 93. I don't want to talk about my score.

Bob has shot his age every year of his life since he was in his 60's. If you aren't a golfer, suffice it to say, that is something that all golfers – including the pros - wish they could do.      

I have had the pleasure of getting beat by the old man for quite some time now. Bob is my wife’s grandpa, and a fantastic Great Grandpa to my boys. When I started playing golf with him, he was in his early 80’s and he beat me by 20 strokes or more every game. I’m not getting any better.

He teaches my boys to putt whenever they slow down long enough for him to hand them one of his ancient wood-shafted putters and show them how to line up to play the break of the game room carpet. Maybe they’ll be good.

On this Independence Day weekend, when I reflect on my many blessings as an American, getting to spend time with Bob is on my top-ten list. He is one of the people in my life that I hold in the highest regard.

He has taught me a lot about the importance of controlling the golf ball over the years, and one day I might just start listening.

He has taught me much more about the importance of liberty over the years, and I have hung on every word.

He has never needed to lecture me greatly about either subject. His actions, his happiness, his success, and the story of his life do the majority of the talking for him.

Thanks, Bob. Happy 4th of July!

We’ll sure miss you,


Copyright © 2017 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Special Delivery

Let me just start this by saying I love almost more than my own kids. I get hives just thinking about driving past the mall, let alone actually trying to park and go in, so Amazon is a Godsend. Plus, I like to shop in my underwear, and they kick you out very unceremoniously when you try to do that at the mall.

I especially love Amazon when it comes to Christmas shopping. I can get everything I need from the comfort of my own underwear, and the Amazon website never makes snide comments about my mental health or tells me to join a gym.

I love that about them, and apparently, quite a few other people feel the same way, because this time of year the UPS drivers come in pairs – one seasoned employee to drive the truck while sipping a pumpkin spice latte, and one poor sweaty bastard from a temp agency to run up and down approximately ten million driveways every twelve-hour shift.

Despite all my love and devotion to Amazon, I do have to take issue with something I’m seeing as the holiday delivery season ramps up. I’m not sure if UPS and FedEx just can’t handle the whole load, or if Amazon just thought Uber was a cool idea, but they are now hiring private individuals to deliver some of the packages.

That’s great and everything, but it’s becoming glaringly obvious that these folks haven’t completed the same rigorous package delivery training courses that the UPS and FedEx drivers are required to take. And if they have, it seems some of them were absent for theft deterrent day.

Porch piracy is a big problem these days, prompting millions of Americans to install cameras in their doorbells, so they can use their mobile device to actually watch their packages being stolen from their porches in real time while they’re at work. They are then able to post an out-of-focus video to the internet, asking if anyone has seen this blurry thief, possibly either male or female, between the age of thirteen and seventy-two, who may or may not have been wearing clothes.

Besides amazing camera technology and complaining on the internet, one big deterrent of porch piracy is simply keeping the packages out of view from the street. Our porch, for example, has a few good-sized nooks and crannies, and one large post that could hide a new refrigerator fairly well. That’s why I was more than a little surprised by the package delivery location my amateur Uber-esque delivery guy chose the other day.

Our Blu-ray player can still play DVDs just fine, but it decided to stop playing Blu-ray disks. Go figure. So, in my rich tradition of combining things we need with my wife’s birthday and Christmas gifts, I got her a new Sony Blu-ray player from Amazon.

The skilled delivery guy pulled up in his Nissan Sentra and, scanning the porch area and all its good hiding spots, decided the best thing to do would be to PROP THE BOX UP ON THE FRONT DOOR THRESHOLD, so as to be as visible as possible from the street. Maybe he likes to admire his deliveries one last time as he drives away? I’m not sure.

What an idiot, you might be saying to yourself. But wait, it gets better. In another turn of events that I guess constitutes one more thing I need to chastise Amazon about, the box of Sony thief candy was not packaged inside an Amazon box. It was just delivered unwrapped, in its store display Sony box, that said SONY in big letters. And to be extra helpful to the thieves that might be experiencing some degree of illiteracy, the box artwork included nice color pictures of the expensive contents.

So Captain Delivers-A-Lot basically put a poster on the bottom of my front door advertising “Free Blu-ray players! This porch only! Supplies are limited! Act fast!”
I mean, he may as well have just left it in the street.

Speaking of leaving things in the street, I guess it could have been worse. When I came home, at least I would have wanted to pick up my new Blu-ray player out of the gutter. While my guy skipped anti-theft day at delivery school, at least one contract delivery driver extraordinaire right here in the greater Sacramento area missed the all-important “don’t poop on the street in front of the customer’s house” seminar.

I’m not making that up. Some guy in Sacramento has blurry, but-good-enough-to-see-what-you-really-didn’t-want-to-see video footage of a lady in a U-Haul van, squatting in front of his driveway and leaving him one Christmas delivery that you just can’t buy on Amazon.

I guess there’s a minuscule chance that she was trying to help. She may just be an outside-the-box thinker when it comes to theft deterrent methods, and she was setting a trap for any would-be porch pirates, but something makes me doubt that as a possible motive. I think she’s just a crappy delivery driver. (Get it?)

Seriously, Amazon, I love you, but what kind of fly-by night, poop-by-day operations are you hiring to bring us our boxes? Do us and yourselves a favor and put a few more people in the Delivery Driver Qualifications and Standards Department. You don’t want any more customers having to say, “Hey, I didn’t order this crap!” (Last one, I promise.)

Oh, and U-Haul – you guys might not want that van back. There didn’t seem to be any wiping happening on the video.


See you soon,


Copyright © 2017 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!