Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Hit Me Baby, One More Time

We had a fantastic stroke of luck last week when my wife had parked our Honda Accord on the street, and a nice man decided to remove our front bumper for us with his truck. How awesome is that!?

Speaking as someone who has dealt with car insurance agencies following our Suburban being totaled, I am really pumped to get to go through another damage claim.

I say the man who gave us a bumperectomy was nice, because he really was nice. He left a note on our car with all his insurance and contact information, and then hung around long enough to actually meet my wife when she returned to the car. He obviously can’t drive very well, but he acts appropriately after he’s finished hitting your parked car.

His insurance company took all liability for the repair costs, so as far as the world as we know it goes, everything is working as it should.

But that’s not good enough for me. The insurance world, as we know it, sucks.

We didn’t do anything wrong in either of our major insurance claims. We weren’t at fault. In this case, we weren’t even near the car. So why do I still have to take time out of my life to get the car fixed?

Why do I have to meet with a claims adjuster to look at the damage? Why am I responsible for getting my car to the repair shop? Why do I need to drive a rental car in the meantime? Why do I need to return that rental car and go to the repair shop to pick up my car when it’s done being repaired?

I am required by law to have car insurance, and I pay them an insane amount of money every year for the privilege of driving around and not causing accidents. Yet, when someone else hits me, I have to do all the work to get my car fixed. This is obviously a huge injustice that we, as Americans, have let go now for far too long.

Here is my proposal for the 28th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America – also known as the “This Crap Was Not My Fault” amendment:

Any insured and licensed driver in the United States of America whose vehicle incurs even the slightest dent at the hands of another driver, regardless of the bad driver’s status (i.e. insured/licensed or not, in the country legally or not, high/drunk or not, originally Canadian or not, extremely low IQ or not, etc.), shall be immediately compensated with a new vehicle, at the site of the collision.

The new vehicle shall be the current model year version of the old vehicle, or, if the model is out of production, any comparable new vehicle of the good driver’s choice.

The new vehicle shall be delivered within one hour of the time the collision occurred, regardless of the time of day or night. It shall come with a full tank of gas, and one thousand dollars cash in the glove box to compensate for the one-hour wait and the inconvenience caused by the bad driver.

The new vehicle delivery agent shall transfer all the good driver’s belongings to the new car, then meet the good driver at their home to deliver them a case of expensive imported beer and a predetermined number of bacon cheeseburgers, with a corresponding number of large fries.

While the good driver and their friends/family eat, the agent will take care of setting up the garage door opener buttons, pairing all their phones to the new car, installing car seats, and/or anything else that needs to occur to make it as though nothing ever happened. All DMV paperwork and fees for the car swap will be handled behind the scenes with absolutely no action needed by the good driver.

The good driver will not experience any change in their insurance rates even though the car is newer. The bad driver will not experience a change in their insurance rates either, however, they will be completely on their own for any repair/replacement costs for their vehicle, as well as any beer and cheeseburger-related expenses.

Based on what a ridiculous racket the collision repair industry is, insurance rates should actually go down under the new system.

Contact your congressman today!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 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, August 21, 2019

Slovak Style Link

God bless the internet.

Never in the history of man has it been easier for two neighbors to be toxically rude and disrespectful to each other without ever having to actually speak in person. And that’s just one example of the amazing benefits the internet has brought us. If I could kiss Al Gore right now, I still wouldn’t.

We could go on for days about how the world wide web has improved interpersonal communications, but today I want to focus on the benefits it brings us in terms of our personal style, wealth, and ability to attract women. Specifically, I want to gush about how the internet has introduced me to Mr. Martin Železník, Slovakian Men's Style Coach.

I was just a regular, boring old day on LinkedIn, until I got the connection invitation that would change my life forever.

Hi Marc,

Nice to “meet” you,

I see you’re a speaker. I help men make more money and triple attention from women by developing their own authentic personal style.

If that's something you're interested in, let's connect.

Martin Železník l Men's Style Coach

This could be the break I’ve always needed. I mean, who doesn’t want more money, but TRIPLE ATTENTION from women!? That would be insane! Where do I sign, Martin?

Wait, I’d better not be too hasty. This is the internet, after all. I need to learn from my past mistakes with all those deposed but still super-rich Nigerian princes. Does Martin even care about me at all, or is this another scam?

Let’s look a little deeper into his LinkedIn profile.

His signature line reads:

Martin Železník l Men's Style Coach
I help men make more money and double their confidence in any situation by developing their own authentic personal style
Slovak Republic

Double confidence and triple attention from women, PLUS more money. This is sounding almost too good to be true, but there is a picture of Martin Železník right there to reassure me. The picture, however, is not insanely reassuring, by American standards, in the style/confidence/women’s attention/money category.

Martin has a thin, weaselly, “I’m super sure that I’m super cool” smile, and thin blonde hair cut close at the sides with an ocean wave-looking section on top that is gelled enough to preserve the individual comb tracks and could likely withstand a forty-knot wind. He does not appear as if he could grow any discernable amount of facial hair.

His shoulders are at a quarter turn, but his head is cocked back to the camera, as if to say, “Hey, what’s up, ladies? As you may have noticed, I have quite a bit of style and personal confidence. I also have an American LinkedIn account. Yes, it’s true.”

Captain Style Coach is rocking a blue Oxford-style button-down shirt, a beige V-neck sweater, and what appears to be a heavy black wool suit jacket of some kind. He scores bonus Slovakian style points by popping the collar on his jacket.

Based on the picture, I have to assume that if Members Only jackets were available in the Slovak Republic, Martin would own as many as he could afford.

All that being said, I’m not current on what is hip and trending in Slovakia at the moment, so maybe Martin is the Tom Selleck of Eastern Europe. I’m inclined to believe he’s on the level, because he seems to really care about helping me develop my own authentic personal style, based on his second communication.

Hi Marc,

Thanks for connecting with me.

I specialize in helping men make more money and double their confidence in any situation by developing their own authentic personal style.

I’m curious, Marc, what do you want to communicate with your clothes?

Wow! I have only recently connected with Martin and he’s already blowing my mind with insightful personal authentic style queries. And he cares enough to ask the tough questions. What do I want to communicate with my clothes?

I took a second to total up the amount of time in the last forty-seven years that I have spent thinking about my clothes. It’s in the neighborhood of ten to fifteen minutes total, so it’s safe to say I have no idea what I’ve been trying to communicate with them. I have given it some serious thought now that Martin has encouraged me, and I have come up with the following.

What I seem to be currently communicating with my clothes is, “Hello. I am a middle-aged man. I am not homeless.”

But is that what I want to communicate? Martin is getting me out of my middle-aged, non-homeless comfort zone and forcing me to come to grips with that tough question. I really don’t know what I want to communicate right now, but one thing is for sure – my current clothes-related communications are not helping me at all in the money/confidence/women attention department. Martin is a Slovakian style genius!

But what to do about it?

As if Martin could read my mind, he just sent me this urgent communique:

Hi Marc,

I’m offering all of my new LinkedIn prospects a free style diagnosis of 1 outfit of your choice to find out how is your current style and appearance helping you reach your goals.

Would you like to take advantage?

My style and appearance are related to my goals!?!? Holy crap, Martin, you are turning my whole world upside down right now. Hell yes, I would like to take advantage.

Free style diagnosis, here I come! I am currently wearing a black San Francisco Giants T-shirt with less than two holes in it, and khaki shorts. I can’t wait to find out if that’s correct or not. I’m really looking forward to doubling my confidence and increasing my income by an unspecified amount.

I’m not entirely sure what will happen when my wife finds out that I am experiencing triple attention from women, however, or how that will impact my confidence/money escalations, but we’ll cross that authentic personal style bridge when we get there.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 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, August 14, 2019

Teaching Me Happiness

School started today.

Actually, let me write that the way it feels. SCHOOL STARTED TODAY!!!!

That doesn’t do it justice. How about 28-point font and some old-school emojis?

SCHOOL STARTED TODAY!!! :-) :-) :-) WOOT, WOOT!!! (Clinking champagne glasses)

I like summer as much as the next person, but when you work from home, summer can get fairly crowded and loud when three ever-growing boys are around the house all day. Or trapped inside the car with you on a three-week road trip. Always fighting. Just so much fighting.

But everything is better today. Today they went to school. Today, they are not at home with me. They may be fighting, but I can’t hear them, and if the school calls, I’m probably not going to answer. Not today, anyway.

Do you know what it sounds like inside my house right now? It sounds like a yellow Lab snoring. I imagine the angels singing in Heaven sound just like a sleeping Lab.

I woke up this morning, and like every morning in the past month or two, my feet hurt when I got out of bed. I think I have plantar fasciitis. It hurts. Today, however, I don’t care, because school has started.

Running hurts now, due to the probable fasciitis situation, so I’m actually gaining weight instead of losing some like I wanted to do. Bring it on. I don’t care. Not today, anyway, because school has started.

I forgot to put the trash bin out this morning and missed the truck. Now I will spiral into the nightmare of trash hoarding for the next three to six weeks as I slowly work myself out of the collection deficit. Doesn’t bother me a bit today, however, because school has started.

My old Ford Expedition’s driver window switch broke again, and the window is stuck halfway down. Do I care? Not today. School has started.

A couple of weeks ago, our new Suburban’s A/C stopped blowing cold air when a rock punctured the condenser, which apparently, is vitally important to making cold air. It cost $1300 that I didn’t have to get it fixed. It had to be fixed, however, since it’s going to be 105 degrees today. Am I worried about any of that? Nope. School has started.

And speaking of money I don’t have, besides the looming abyss of college costs, our boys are going to start driving soon, which means my insurance rates are about to double with the first boy, triple with the second one, and then the policy will probably just be canceled altogether when Son Number Three gets his license. Doesn’t even faze me today. School has started.

And to top it all off, I had a stiff neck this morning when I woke up, because my wife stole one of my two pillows last night. My neck is still a little sore, but I don’t care, because school has started.

There was no way I was going to try to steal that pillow back and risk waking her up. She’s a teacher. They need all the sleep they can get, because school has started.

Thank you, teachers. We love you. You can have all the pillows you want.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 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, August 7, 2019

Clash of Siblings

My wife and I caved. We caved hard.

Well, to be fair, since she’s going to read this and I don’t want to get into more trouble than I’m already in, it was probably me who did most of the caving.

OK, all of it.

She already went back to school. That’s essentially the problem. She left me here all alone with the three boys. We had a fun summer, and together we played fairly effective man-down zone defense. But now she’s off enjoying the peace and quiet of teaching high school math, and I’m stranded here, a week before the boys go back to school, hopelessly outnumbered three to one.

There was nothing I could do. They got on my last nerve. I was out of options. I snapped.

Sure, I tried movies. We watched them all. We watched the Batman movies. Everything from Lego Batman to Keaton, Clooney, all the way through Christian Bale, and into the who-paid-to-have-this-guy-cast-as-batman Ben Affleck debacle.

We watched Planet of the Apes, Rise of Planet of the Apes, and Dawn of Planet of the Apes. I have no idea why.

We watched Paul Blart, Mall Cop 2. Twice. You heard me.

When we passed through Ocean’s Eleven and got all the way to Captain Ron, I finally said enough is enough. I was considering calling Child Protective Services on myself.

“Get away from the TV! Go find something to do.”

The things they found to do were argue, yell at each other, get into fights, and cry.

“Go get in the pool!”

In the pool, they forgot to swim. Instead they decided to argue, yell at each other, get into fights, and cry.

“OK, fine. If you can’t get along, we’ll do chores! How do you like them apples?”

We cleaned the house. We cleaned the backyard. We trimmed trees. We cut grass. We weeded vast expanses of lawn. We washed cars. And during it all they decided to argue, yell at each other, get into fights, and cry.

I simply couldn’t take it anymore. Like I said, I snapped.

We have always had a “no video games” rule in our house. In general, my wife and I believe that video games warp their tiny brains and turn them into moody, obsessed, psychotic little blobs of pasty-white flesh.

I still believe that, but I just don’t care anymore.

“Here’s an iPad. Why don’t you get that Clash Royale game you heard about?”

“What? Dad, are you feeling OK?”

“Shut up and get the game.”

They have all since graduated to something called Clash of Clans, and they are officially obsessed. They have learned an entirely new language in just a few short days. The people at Rosetta Stone should look into this technology for language acquisition.

Here’s a sample conversation I just heard when I was able to pry them away from the screens long enough to eat lunch:

“Bro, what if you put your dark elixir in front of your magic archer, with a dragon queen and a scarmy behind them?”

“Dude, then you could totally balloon a city hall with your pekka. But your barracks would be completely hard-pushed.”

“Not if your wall breakers were in front of a barbarian king or an archer queen. Then your goblins could balloon a hog rider, with a lava bowler hound golem….”

I tuned out after that.

We don’t have normal conversations anymore. It’s all they can talk about, 24/7, but I don’t care. Because they are talking, not yelling.

For now, I will take it. I will pull the plug the minute school starts and go back to being a responsible parent who cares about their mental health.

“How much longer can we play?”

“Shut up and play the game. Don’t ask questions.”

Right now, we’re dealing with my mental health.

School cannot start soon enough.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 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!