Who Am I?

My photo
A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

29 August 2018

A Most Perplexing Situation

I have a bit of a conundrum. My friend, Terry and I hang out a lot. We're the same age. And he's a lot like me when it comes to dealing with people, especially people we don't know, like those we deal with in our daily rounds (convenience stores, banks, etc.). He's outgoing and caring, lighthearted and friendly (sometimes overly so). He looks people right in the eye and speaks to them with respect, like they're human. He jokes with people like I do.

I greatly admire this about him.

In this fast-paced day and age, we tend to overlook and forego the little human niceties that make life on this planet pleasant. You see it at fast-food joints all the time: The person in front of you gets to the head of the line, and they begin barking out their order without even acknowledging the employee...the human on the other side of the counter. Those in the service industry take it for granted now. It has become customary...the norm.

But not for Terry and me! Before doing anything else, both of us always take the time to greet the person we are dealing with. A simple, ”Good morning!” We smile. We act like we care about them. Because we do. But Terry will take the time to talk (as in “extended conversation”) with service people even when there are other customers waiting behind him for their turn. This can sometimes be annoying, even for me, I'll admit. I'm, like, ”Come onnnnn...get his/her life story later. Let's eat our goddamn subs before they get cold!”

My conundrum is that Terry is often on the receiving end of some very bad vibes. He routinely comes across people who are having a truly bad day and are just in a foul mood – and they take it out on him. He often relates tales of encounters he's had with really nasty, angry people. He even went into a Chick-Fil-A one day and got a surly attitude from the little old lady taking his order! At a Chick-Fil-A!

Me, I never run into unhappy people. Never. People are always nice to me. Every interaction I have with people is always positive. I always walk away happy, a little richer for the experience. And I hope they do too. In fact, I cannot remember the last time someone was short or even curt with me, much less in an overall bad mood. I don't know what it is – am I just lucky?

On the other hand, Terry just seems to attract those who need an outlet for their anger or bitterness. They home in on him like they're guided by a military-grade radar targeting system. It's very strange. And it weighs on him, I can tell. In the moment he doesn't let it affect his mood, but afterward he'll say how much it bothered him.

When we're hanging out...having lunch someplace, say...I watch him, and watch how he interacts with others. And there is nothing that I can put my finger on that's different from how I do it...no obvious “triggers” or anything. So it's not like he's causing it.

But if someone is having a bad day, they'll find Terry.  It is most perplexing.

22 August 2018

Even More Uber Stuff

I know I'm kind of running on and on about this Uber thing, but I really love this “job.” It's fun! In fact, I surely thought driving my taxi was fun.  But this is better.  Much, much better. I feel like Howard Hughes at the end of the movie, “The Aviator.” Remember? His OCD took hold of him, and he kept going, “It's the way of the future...way of the future...way of the future...”  And so it is with Uber.

We're kind of still in a “honeymoon phase” with so-called "ride-sharing." Passengers still see it as something of a novelty. In reality Uber is exactly like conventional taxicabs. They've just managed to convince people that they're not...that Uber is something different.  Hey, people believe what they want to believe.

Sure, the method of dispatch and payment are different...and sure, you can see the cab...sorry, Uber car coming on your smartphone screen... But other than that, Uber cars are taxis. To think anything else is just not being honest. It's not “ride-sharing.” I'm not sharing anything with anyone – certainly not my car.  I wouldn't be "going that way anyway," and you're being charged!  It is Uber that shares with me the request from a customer who needs a ride.  That is all.

Nevertheless, the passengers think it's something special. Far be it from me to disabuse them of that notion.

Honeymoon phase” or not, Uber passengers expect a different experience than that of riding in a taxi. Ubers are less formal...more friendly. People are more inclined to talk to me and...strangely...sometimes they act as if we're already friends. It's quite bizarre. My taxi passengers were never so familiar and open.

It was my friend, Terry who figured it out: People don't often aspire to be taxi drivers. In fact, most people would probably consider themselves something of a failure if they were ever to sink to the level of driving a cab for a living. On the other hand, many of our Uber passengers can see themselves doing this job – as a “side-hustle” to be sure, not necessarily a full-time thing.

And so they ask questions. They want to know all about Uber, and what it's like driving for them? I always answer honestly: It's a gas! I recommend to everyone that they try it. (And no, it's not for everyone, obviously.)

I hadn't planned on going back up to Washington State this past summer. But they offered me a boatload of money to go for six weeks and do basically nothing. I may do the same thing next year. In the meantime, I drive my Uber when the urge strikes. I'm glad I don't depend on it for full-time employment, but it's good to know that I could if I had to.

08 August 2018

Minding Your Business

In a recent news story from here in Florida, we have yet another senseless shooting.  This one was the result of an argument over someone parking illegally in a handicap spot at a convenience store.

On July 19th of this year, security camera footage captured a car pulling up into a parking spot on the side of a convenience store in the city of Clearwater.  We learn that this is clearly-marked as a handicap spot.  A man (Man #1) exits the car from the passenger side.  A small child also gets out.  Man #1 and the child go inside the store. The driver remains in the car. 

Street view of handicap spot on side of convenience store

Shortly thereafter, an SUV pulls in and parks near the car in the handicap spot.  The driver of the SUV (Man #2) gets out.  He walks to the rear of the car and looks at something.  Then he walks to the front and looks.  We can deduce that he is checking to see if it had some sort of "handicapped" signage.  He then initiates an animated, extended discussion with the driver of the car.  The police report said it was a "pretty significant yelling match."  It lasted for over a minute.

Eventually, Man #1 comes out of the convenience store, without his child.  (Perhaps he'd been notified of the altercation happening outside.)  He walks briskly toward the car, apparently unnoticed by Man #2. Suddenly, Man #1 body-slams Man #2 violently enough to send him straight to the ground, hard. Man #2 then pulls out a pistol and shoots Man #1, who turns and stumbles back inside the convenience store.  Where he dies.  

Is this a "too many damn guns in this country" issue?  I don't believe so.  Let us acknowledge here that Man #2 was carrying his pistol legally.  Everyone should know by now - especially those who live here! - that Florida has rather generous rules on granting "concealed carry" gun permits.  And even if you "know" this little fact it's something of which people must be more cognizant.  You never really know who's carrying.  If you get into a fight with someone and they become fearful for their life, they just might pull out their gun and shoot you!  So maybe you should think twice before body-slamming someone to the ground, for whatever reason.  

In any event, the police have refused to charge Man #2 under Florida's famous and controversial, “Stand Your Ground” law.  Rest assured, this is not the end of this little story.  Even if there are no criminal charges pressed against Man #2, there will certainly be a civil wrongful-death suit brought by the family of Man #1.

Moving on...  Is there a racial component to this story?  Oh, but of course!  Isn't there always?  The woman in the car is black.  Man #1 is black.  Man #2 is white.  The media has already latched onto this.  Was Man #2's initial confrontation racially motivated?  

In fact, we may never know the specific motivations of any of the players for their actions in this horrible event.  But to a large degree, I think the racial element is irrelevant. What matters is this: A man confronted a woman over parking in a handicap spot. He got his ass kicked, and now another man is dead. Aside from the tragedy of Man #1's death, Man #2 will now have to live forever with the fact that he shot and killed someone for no good reason.

Wait...what? For no reason? Yep!

In telling me about this event (of which I was only vaguely aware), my friend Terry vociferously defended Man #2. "All he was doing was telling the woman not to park there!” Terry said, as if Man #2 was totally innocent and justified in his action.  (And perhaps Terry was implying that he might have done the same thing.)

I had a few questions. To wit:  Why was it important to Man #2 that the woman parked in that spot? What was his gripe?  Was he a cop? No. Was he handicapped and in need of parking there? Apparently not. Was he the neighborhood handicapped parking spot enforcer? No.

So I disagree with my friend, Terry.  My view is that Man #2 should've just stayed the hell out of it. By injecting into himself into a situation that was absolutely none of his concern, he initiated and provoked a confrontation that resulted in another man's death.  Man #2 precipitated the whole thing, and now he'll probably "get away with murder," so to speak. 

In the grand scheme of things, parking illegally in a handicap spot is not a heinous crime worth dying over.  There was no need for Man #2 to intervene. Had he simply not done anything...had he looked and walked the other way, the altercation between he and Man #1 would not have happened. Man #1 would still be alive.  Everyone would have gotten into their cars,  driven off, and lived happily ever after (we hope).

We all need to learn to MIND OUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS.

You can read the story and watch the video of the event HERE.