Saturday, May 3, 2014

A fee to ride with me

Whenever I have to work in the Bernalillo County Clerk's Office I have to ride the elevator. Ok, I don't have to, or so the signs posted by the elevators claim. The signs advise I do my body a favor and take the stairs. Uh huh. I'm fat. I smoke. And it's seven floors up. This is after I've already climbed one flight just to get to the basement elevators. 

I am considering a gradual approach. I'm thinking I could climb to where I'm about to pass out and then swap over to the elevator. I'll get back to you on this.

Elevators have become my favorite social experiment.

Here's how it works: typically when I get on the elevator in the basement I'm by myself. Within two floors another rider or riders join me. Now for the fun part.

I wait for the doors to close and inform my fellow passenger(s) there is a fee for riding with me. Most people respond with a nervous glance and shift their stance. The fee is simple, I tell them; no money required. 

The fee is a joke. It must be clean. It must be funny.

1% of men say they don't know any jokes yet their face says otherwise.
99% of men blush, duck their heads and try to suppress a laugh. 
At this point the trick is to make eye contact. All men shift uncomfortably. Their smiles get wider and they begin chuckling aloud. The ones who hiccup laughter are also shaking their heads as they mentally recall and discount known jokes.

70% of women go into panic mode. A joke? She wants a joke - ahh! Help!
The remaining 30% is a mixed bag of: I can't tell jokes; I just heard a great one but can't remember how it goes; or they show a goofy picture on their phone. If I get a goofy picture, I also get the story behind it. More often than not the story is better than the picture so this does count as a joke.

Now I've been requesting a fee at every opportunity for more than a year. Rarely my fellow passengers and I share the same destination. But we all depart the elevator with a smile.

The other day I shared the elevator with three men. Did I get a joke? No. Two of the men got off on a lower floor. The other man announced to me "you're always so chipper. I've ridden with you before so I knew about the fee." Yeah but he didn't tell a joke. 

He went on to say he thinks he has me figured out. He believes I am a naturally happy person on a mission to share happiness.

Ok. Far be it for me to disillusion him. That's not why I charge people to ride the elevator with me. The fee began as a coping mechanism and has evolved into a very amusing social experiment. No one has ever gotten angry. No one has ever copped an attitude. And everyone leaves happy.

So why the fee? Because I had an intense fear of elevators. My father spent decades trying to convince me of the soundness of the science, engineering. What goes up must come down, except in elevators where you can be stuck somewhere between. I don't like confined spaces to begin with so the fear of being trapped between floors is very real to me. All alone in a little box and no one knows I'm there. This is the stuff of nightmares.

Hence a coping mechanism that not only shifted my focus onto another person but made that person aware of me. Simply it's how not to be alone in a crowd. Charging a fee to share an elevator maybe a kooky way of getting attention but it's highly effective. And I'm getting over my fear of elevators.

Oh yeah, and I'm sharing happiness. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

You made me go there

People are commenting that I am short with them and at times all out losing my temper while speaking with them on the phone. 

My initial response is "Duh. Thank you for repeatedly proving you haven't been listening to a word I've said."

Fuming about yet another of those conversations, I concluded the direct approach didn't work nor did using examples of what's irking me. Since listening is not the offending parties strong suite, I am now putting it in writing. 


1) have your kid or grandchild answer the phone. If you are busy - don't answer, it's that simple. Later when we do make connection you spend the first 5 - 10 minutes apologizing for, regardless of age, the kid's inability to take a message and then remember to give you the message. 
   In the future I shall either hang up when the kid answers or give a scandalous message specifically tailored to piss you royally.

2) what is the deal with women over 50 calling just to sniff and groan? Not only is this thoughtless and unappetizing, you're too busy sharing your misery long distance to realize how utterly ridiculous you sound. At your age no one should have to tell you to get off the phone, blow your nose and take drugs if needed. Trust me, "sniff, ugh, sniff, ah" is not scoring you sympathy points.

3) if you're more interested in what's on TV - get off the phone. Likewise, if a show is coming on you want to watch, don't call me. 

4) the growing fad seems to be making me repeat myself over and over, and over. An appropriate response to "are you still there?" is not huh? 
     Thank you for expressing how little I mean to you. Have you noticed I quit calling?

5) before uttering any sentence that begins "I know you don't want to hear this" unless 'this' is refers to a tragedy or work related issue or directly involves you and me - bite your tongue and pick a different topic. The real amazing part is how often I get phone calls on the same damn topic in which "I know you're tired of hearing this" is stated. 

6) please stop taking the statements "I'm working" or "I'm writing" as an invitation stay on the phone or, once I get you off the phone, to call back repeatedly. It wouldn't be so bad if you actually had something to say. 

7) see #6. The same holds true for the statements "I'm fixing a meal" or "we're sitting down to eat". You don't take my phone calls at these times. Yet when I say this my phone doesn't stop ringing. Honest I didn't think much about it until a friend quipped "are your eggs cold yet? have you given up trying to eat and gave your food to the dog?" Thank you. I'm not even going to ask why you find these stunts fun. The comment it makes on your view of our friendship is unflattering.

8) when you call to ask my advice will you please warn me when the question is the opening salvo of an argument? I am not your spouse, kid or boss. I don't live with you therefore I don't know the history behind your current mood. 

9) yeah. you know. ah huh. These are NOT descriptions. When relating an incident try including pertinent information. Saying "Then he, ah, yeah." tells me nothing. Typically the conversation ends with me having no idea what you were talking about. 

10) this is actually my #1 pet phone peeve. The phone rings. I answer and you make a partial declaration such as "shots are being fired" and the line goes dead. Then you don't call back with the rest of the story. And your phone goes direct to voice mail for hours or days.
     In the future I shall assume you are either dead or have killed someone and you're on the run. I will post the least appropriate condolence on Facebook. 

Yeah, I'm copping an attitude. Yeah, I'm fed up.  Would I have to go to this extreme if our conversations were face-to-face? 

One last peeve - ask before giving out my phone number. Maybe there's a damn good reason I didn't give that person my number.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Chapter 19, edit of Desert; I'm staring at a blank page and I do it well. My heart beats once to every third blink of the cursor. An episode of Midsomer Murder, quite simply the best detective saga written and then transformed wonderfully into a series, plays on the television. Desiree sleeps nearby. Now and then she lifts her head to check on me. My coffee cup is empty but I've a full pack of cigarettes. Dinner is thawing in the oven. 

I click on the blue W icon. Yep, the page is still blank. Yep, the cursor is still blinking. One, two, three; yep, my heart's still beating. The coffee cup has yet to refill itself. 

People often tell me I should designate writing hours. Oh my god; to do so would frustrate the tar out of me. My heart would be beating with the cursor. Work has specified hours. Writing is not work. I do not set out to write a certain number of pages or words per day. I wonder at those writers who claim they pound out 5,000 words a day. 

If the average book is under 100,000 words and I've been writing at a pace of 5,000 per day yet I'm only completing one to two books a year - how many days begin with deleting the words written the prior day? 

I am at peace with the blinking cursor. I see possibilities in the blank page. Apparently however, I will have to refill the coffee cup.