Monthly Archives: September 2013

Maybe I’ll call in sick

I’m taking the day off. I’m going to call in to work and be like, “Sorry boss, I’m feeling pretty under the weather today,” and he’ll cut me off, he’ll be like, “You know Rob, if you can’t get your shift covered, well, you better bring a doctor’s note is all that I’m saying,” trying to discourage me from taking a personal day. But that’s OK, my wife’s aunt is a doctor, I could always just put a pinch of black pepper up my nose, and then I’ll call her up and be like, “Achoo! Oh my God! I’m so sick! My boss said if I can’t get a doctor’s note then I have to show up for work!”

And I know my wife’s aunt, she’ll get really worried, she’ll be like, “You know Rob, that sneeze actually sounds pretty serious. I’d like you to stop by my office in an hour,” and I’ll have already regretted calling her. Why wouldn’t I have thought this through before actually picking up the phone? I’ll try, “You know, I think I’m OK. I know my body, I just have to rest this one out, please,” and she’ll protest, “No, Rob, I’m actually very concerned.”

So, what, that’s not that terrible, is it? Getting to the doctor’s office? I’d still have most of the day to myself. Even though, yeah, I had really intended for this day to include me staying asleep, but now I’d be up, I’d have already taken a shower and brushed my teeth. I’ll think to myself, this actually isn’t that bad, I’m a lot less tired than I was before. Maybe I should just go to work.

But no, the call to my boss, I’ll have already involved my wife’s aunt. I’d have to go to the doctor. And I’ll get there much later than expected, by the time I actually make my way into the office, sneak into the bathroom to apply some more black pepper, realize that my nose must have developed a black pepper immunity since the morning, kind of panic seeing as how I’d have to sit down in the exam room, totally healthy, making up a bunch of vague sounding symptoms to which the doctor would kind of just look at me puzzled, trying her best to act sympathetic, but doing a terrible job at hiding the belief that maybe, probably, this guy is just faking it, like what kind of an adult does something like this, how did my niece wind up with this clown, but still, she’s family, and so she’ll prescribe me a bunch of antibiotics, sending me on my way, me having to remind her a bunch of times about that note, the only thing I’d really be there for, that doctor’s note, by the time all of that would be over, it would be way past lunchtime, I’d be starving.

And then traffic on the way back would be much worse than it was coming in, it’s always that way, and now, what, do I really have to go to the pharmacy and pick up a bunch of medication that I don’t need in the first place? It might not be a bad idea to have some on hand, in case I really do get sick. Like, I’m not stupid enough to self-diagnose everything. But I know what strep throat feels like. Why spend a whole day going to a doctor when I could just get started on that Z-Pac? But my cavalier attitude toward popping pills will alter my body’s microbiome, my system will develop antibodies so that, when I’m an old man, if I ever get pneumonia or whooping cough, none of the medication will work and I’ll die.

By the time I’ll have snapped out of my daydream, I’ll think, man, I should have just gone to work. This whole day off has been a total bust. And I’ll show up the next day and my boss will be standing there with his hand out for the doctor’s note. He’ll look at it and say, “Hey Rob, this doctor’s note says that you went to the doctor because you weren’t feeling well, and that she prescribed you antibiotics. That’s it.” And I’ll say, “Yeah? What else are you looking for?” And he’ll tell me, “Oh I don’t know, maybe a diagnosis, maybe confirmation that you were actually sick?”

And I’ll have no choice but to feign indignant, like, “What are you, a health care practitioner? I was sick. I went to the doctor. Now I’m feeling better.” Which is true, my boss shouldn’t really cross into my medical history, but he’s clever, he’ll be like, “All right, well let me see your antibiotics.” And I’ll realize, shit, I’m not taking those meds for real. I left them at home. I’ll call his bluff, “Fine!” and then make a big show of looking everywhere, pretending like I must have lost them, asking people if they’ve seen a pill bottle anywhere.

But my boss will get in my face, he’ll be like, “I’m writing you up.” And despite my protests, “But! Come on!” he’ll walk away, “You try anything like this again and you’re out.” Most likely I’d get really sick like a week later, for real, and instead of going through the proper channels, doctor, medicine, stuff like that, I’ll have already used my sick excuse for the year, and I’ll have to tough it out, work while I’m sick. Maybe I’ll develop an infection. Maybe I won’t make it. I probably won’t. I should probably just go to work. But I really don’t feel like going in today. Maybe I could make up a death in the family. Nobody close, just a distant cousin. One of my in-laws. A distant in-law. Someone close enough that I’d have to go to the funeral, but distant enough so that nobody at work would feel obliged to say stuff like, “Sorry for your loss Rob,” and I’d have to fake it, “Yeah … thanks …”

I can’t think of anything to write about

It’s been a while since I’ve sat at the computer and not been able to think of anything to write about. During this blog’s first six months, I used to have that problem all the time. My solution, mostly because I didn’t have enough content to really get something posted every day, was that I’d write about not having anything to write about.

It works, generally, if only to get words on the page. I haven’t done it in a while though, I’d like to think because I’m getting better at writing, that every since I started this blog over a year and a half ago, I’ve figured out how to get my brain to come up with something new.

But, I don’t know, lately I feel like I’m back to where I started, like I sit down at the computer and my brain is empty. At first it wasn’t a big deal. I had so many of these blog posts saved up that if I miss a day here and there, it’s really not a huge loss. But after a while my surplus began to diminish.

And then my computer got stolen over the summer and I lost like maybe thirty posts or so. Ever since then I’d say I have about six or seven days worth of material at any given time. And now recently I’m back to not being able to come up with anything to write about, and so instead of writing, I’m on the Internet, I’m watching TV. There’s so much TV to watch, it’s ridiculous. I’m watching Breaking Bad, each episode an hour, each session of TV watching not really feeling complete unless I’ve watched two or three episodes.

I don’t think the nature of distraction has changed. There’s always going to be more good TV out than I have time to watch. The Internet is constantly hogging a huge amount of my attention. But it’s just frustrating. I’ve been doing this every day for around a year and a half now. I know that it can be done. I know that I’m more than capable of churning these things out.

So it kills me, it drives me crazy when I sit here and stare at the screen and I can’t think of anything at all. I had off from work yesterday and today. I was looking forward to everything I’d be able to get done. Usually it’s this mad rush to get up in the morning, eat, write, and go running, all before I have to be in the restaurant at five.

But yesterday I didn’t wind up getting out of bed until close to noon. And then I kept telling myself, well, I have all day, there’s no need to rush. So I watched some TV. That turned into a nap on the couch. The next thing I know it’s late at night, I’m still sitting here at this computer not having done anything, telling myself that the next day would be better.

And today was better. I got some writing done. Some. I should just take it easy and not stress out, it’s not helping anything really. Sometimes I need to do this, I just need to write, to not be afraid to write stupid, boring pieces about not knowing what to write about. Because I’ve been here before and I’ve gotten past it.

This is all coming off as way too dramatic, but I’m trying to think of a way to at least end this without just abruptly stopping. I always find that endings of anything are the hardest part to figure out. I’ll be so satisfied with what I’ve already put down, and then I get to the end and I can’t think of an ending. It’s the same with titles. Jeez, it’s like, trying to come up with a line to summarize everything, I can totally see why they hire people dedicated to copywriting, to solely looking to come up with something nice.

I guess I can’t think of an ending either. So here it is. I hope nobody reads this, it’s so incredibly boring. I’m saying that as I put it on the Internet. A blog post about absolutely nothing. Whatever, it buys me another day, right?

I saw a bunch of tourists having trouble crossing the street

I was in Midtown Manhattan the other day on a lunch break and I wanted some food from a place a few blocks away. I was crossing East 54rd Street, and there was this family of out-of-towners waiting at the corner, stuck. It looked they wanted to cross the street, but they couldn’t get their feet off of the sidewalk. While they hesitated, cars and cabs kept making the right turn from 3rd Avenue onto 54th.


As I got closer to the family, the mom looked toward me, clearly frustrated, and said, “You’d think these cars would let us cross!” And I was walking pretty fast. I’m tall, so I have a naturally long stride, but it’s also New York, so everybody walks kind of fast. I didn’t even break my pace, but I turned to look at the lady as I stepped into the intersection, telling her, “You just have to walk. You just have to go for it. The cars will stop.”

I kept going, I made it across the street all while the lady stood there holding hands with her family, that distressed look on her face, me on one of the street and her on the other, both of us now separated by a whole line of cabs already continuing their endless stream of right turns. This whole interaction took maybe ten seconds, and once I was safely across the street, I turned forward and marched on.

But I couldn’t help but thinking about this lady and her family, were they on vacation? How long were they planning their trip to the city? Now that they were here, were they having fun? Sure, it’s a lot of filling in the blanks based on the fraction of a moment that we were in each other’s lives, but there was something there, there was us, there was a street, there were pained facial expressions.

I spent the rest of my walk imagining that family making it back to their hotel room later in the evening, they’d be exhausted, all of that walking around, nobody behaving in traffic like they do back home. How many times had she stopped random pedestrians to complain about cars? Was she giving that same confused/pissed off look to every single driver that didn’t stop and wave her along with a smile?

In my head she went back home to wherever she was from, her friends and extended family members would ask stuff like, “So how was your vacation? How was New York?” and not wanting to give the impression that they had a bad time, she’d lie, “It was OK, but everyone is in such a hurry. Everyone is so rude!”

And yeah, I’m in my head here, but this isn’t that uncommon of a thing to imagine, right? New Yorkers have a reputation of being rude. On season five of True Blood, this guy’s about to get killed, so he starts crying, hysterical, he’s like, “I never got to go to New York, to see the Big Apple,” and Eric the vampire says, “New York smells like pee and everyone is rude.”

Are New Yorkers rude? I don’t think so. I’m going to fault the tourists in this situation, that lady and her family. I’m presuming that they took this vacation and found themselves on the streets unfamiliar with the pace of everyday life. Unable to cross the street on account of traffic not coming to a halt simply because they were waiting on the corner, they reached out for a little sympathy from a fellow pedestrian.

But I didn’t give any. Imagine if every single driver stopped at every corner where a group of people happened to be waiting for a light. Cars wouldn’t be able to move an inch. Traffic would remain at a permanent standstill. There are more people than cars, and with heavy foot traffic, the lights are necessary to keep people in line as much as they’re there to regulate the cars.

I try to reverse the situation in my head. I picture me going on vacation to some small town somewhere. I’m driving along and as I’m about to round a corner, I see a family waiting to cross the street. If I just kept going, like if I aggressively made that turn without their consideration, they could look at me, they could give me that, “What the hell?” face, and I’d clearly be in the wrong. But I wouldn’t do that, because I’m not rude, I’m not an asshole.

What I’m getting at is that I don’t travel to other places and walk around acting like the whole world is New York. People from out of town should come to New York and be prepared for things to be different than the way they are back home. It’s not rude. In fact, I think if anybody is rude, it’s the person that travels around and acts as if every social code and rule is somehow universally based on how people get along from where they’re from.

I’m being way too judgmental here myself. I hate it when New Yorkers talk down to everyone else, like we’re so enlightened. As a waiter, I can safely say that a good chunk of New Yorkers are indeed rude. In fact, a lot of them are assholes. At least when they’re hungry. Does this just contradict everything that I just wrote down? Whatever, I’m probably being a huge asshole myself. Yeah, I just reread this whole thing, definitely, big-time asshole. Still, I’m right about the street crossing thing.

Let’s play The Million Second Quiz!

A few months ago my mother sent my siblings and me a mass text message, something about a friend of a friend working for a casting company, looking for people interested in auditioning for a game show. I’d never really directly thought about being on a game show, but as soon as I gave it even five seconds of consideration, I realized that I desperately wanted to, that the idea of going on TV and potentially winning money was something that I needed to do.


I sent over my contact information along with a few photos from Facebook and the casting lady got in touch with me later in the week to schedule an interview. While I had no idea what was going on, no clue as to the format of the show, I thought it my head, just get me in front of the cameras, and I’ll figure it out.

The casting process took place in some office building in midtown Manhattan. They said dress to impress, which meant a whole lot of me staring at my closet not knowing at all how I’d even manage to put my clothes on. Dress to impress? If I’m ever dressed to impress, it’s a total accident. I have no idea what goes into a good outfit, and so after standing there clueless for what had to be an hour, I went with a safe jeans and button down combination.

Whatever, I got to the office, they made me fill out a bunch of paperwork, answering questions like, “What makes you think you’d be a great contestant for this game show?” and “Do you have any funny stories that set you apart from potential competitors?” I don’t even remember what I wrote down, a bunch of made up stories most likely.

They put me in front of a camera and started asking me all sorts of questions. Would I consider myself more book smart or street smart? I told them, both. “Get cocky,” some producer directed me, “I want to hear why you think you’d win over everyone else.” What, the being both book smart and street smart thing wasn’t cocky enough? This went on for about five more minutes, they thanked me, and I went home.

And then nothing. I did find out that the show in question was something called The Million Second Quiz, but after trying to garner information from the Internet, the best I could piece together was that it had something to do with trivia, and something to do with a million. In the meantime, I had ample opportunity to spend every waking second daydreaming about how I’d make a splash in front of a national audience on live TV, overcoming all odds to beat the game show and walk home with an insane amount of money.

My fantasies got a little too real, and I felt myself getting all revved up for what in all probability wasn’t going to happen. My everyday actions were starting to be tainted with just the slightest touch of hubris. Like I’d be waiting tables at the restaurant and someone would ask me for a Diet Coke. Before I automatically answered, “of course,” or “right away,” these thoughts would flicker through my head, like, get yourself a Diet Coke. Go ahead and complain to the manager, see if I care. I’m going to win a game show and then I’m going to follow you around all day paying you to get me Diet Cokes, and then I’ll send them back because I don’t like Diet Coke, I want regular Coke.

And as the weeks and then months went by without having heard any news, I tried to ramp down, to prepared myself for a future in which game shows weren’t a part of my life. This was harder than I planned, because as the date drew closer to the September 9th premier, NBC started advertising pretty heavily about the show, about lucky Americans from all across the country competing for a chance to sit in the money seat.

I still had no idea what any of that meant, but it was hard to put out of my mind the fact that somewhere in some stack of papers on some producers desk somewhere in the city was my name, a file labeled Rob G., potential candidate. “I bet you they call you last second,” my mom kept telling me, and I’d be like, “I’m not even thinking about it anymore. I’ve all but forgotten everything.”

I was lying, of course. This game show was probably the only thing I was thinking of. The dreams of how I’d make my way onto the stage vividly choreographed, the witty banter I’d exhibit as I’d back-and-forth with host Ryan Seacrest. So when I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket on Sunday afternoon, September 8th, I knew even before I took it out that it would be something about me coming into the city tomorrow to win a lot of money.

“Be there at six!” the producer told me. In the morning? I had to be at work at eleven, should I try to take off? “Oh yes, this is a commitment. If you’re going to win, you’re going to need to have your schedule totally clear for the next two weeks.”

I found someone to cover my shift on Monday, but should I really try to get off on Tuesday and the next day and the week after that? Last minute favors are really hard to come by in a restaurant, and even if I did somehow make it happen, that would be a lot of good will I’d owe to my coworkers, not to mention the zero dollars in income I’d earn while sequestered away at the studio.

But … fuck it. I’d probably be winning a million dollars, and then I wouldn’t need to worry about a stupid restaurant job. I showed up at six am the next day, me and about five hundred other people snaked around the outside of the building. You mean all I have to do is beat all of these people? Ha!

Ha. But seriously, seeing that many contestants felt like a punch in the stomach, a punch that began winding up three months earlier, when I got that text message from my mom, a giant cosmic fist that began hurtling my way as I picked out my wardrobe for the interview, imagined all of the jokes I’d say on TV, planning out the small businesses I’d start with my winnings, all of that momentum making contact with my gut as I saw the amount of people surely suffering from identical delusions of grandeur. For the first time in months I felt actually humbled.

The rest of the day went like this: I made my way through the studio where I had to fill out a textbook sized contract in front of an NBC lawyer. Then I got sent to a room with a TV where they played a video of someone basically reading us the contract that we got just signed. From there a giant group of us were shepherded into a waiting cell with computers, board games and Twinkies. They’d make us wait up to ten hours before calling us to potentially play.

I got selected along with seven other people after about two hours. We were led outside, around the block, to an enormous tent filled with couches and sofas. A production assistant did his best to explain the rules. We’d be answering trivia questions in eight-minute bouts with the hope of winning a spot in the money seat. Once in the money seat, we’d start accumulating cash. Just don’t press the doubler button. Also, you might get sent to something called Winners Row. Also, there was something about a line cutter. And point leader. I didn’t really get it. Did anybody watch the show?

After a whole day of waiting, it was finally my turn to actually compete. I was whisked away not to the studio, but to a closet somewhere in the building where the off-air competition took place. The guy I was facing off against had won the previous seven matches, so I admit that I was a little intimidated.

The first question was: In which city did the TV show ER take place? I had no idea. I’d never watched ER. I guessed San Francisco, and now I’m cursed with the permanent knowledge that the show ER in fact took place in Chicago. I was at a deficit, one from which I could not recover. I wound up getting two more questions wrong, something about Blanche Dubois from A Streetcar Named Desire, and another asking about the best selling Atari game of all time. (It was Pac Man. I guessed Donkey Kong. I’m an idiot.)

I didn’t even have a chance to make a comeback, because all of the other questions were so incredibly easy. Sure I got ten out of thirteen, but because most of them were along the lines of “Which web site lets users sell handmade crafts,” I didn’t have any opportunity where my opponent could have screwed up, giving me a chance to take the lead.

Still, I can make all of the excuses I want. He won, I lost. It was over in eight minutes, and eight minutes later, I was exiting the studio, face to face with that steady line of hundreds of people, all waiting for their chance to unseat the victor, to go home with millions of dollars won on live TV. Me, I didn’t win any money, but at least I didn’t take all of that time off from work. That would have been an awkward two weeks hanging around the house.

Thoughts on the new iPhone

Are they going keep naming new iPhones based on the numerical order in which they’re released? Right now everything’s fine because we’re only up to iPhone 5. But what about years from now? Are consumers really going to be as excited for the iPhone 36? Hopefully I’m still alive by then. Also, hopefully scientists will have figured out a way to keep everyone looking young and healthy indefinitely, kind of like in that movie In Time with Justin Timberlake, just minus all of the massive inequality and social injustice, not to mention the terrible storytelling and horribly overdone time puns, “Time’s up,” stuff like that.


What am I talking about? Nobody saw that movie. But back to the iPhone. We’re all ignoring the fact that it went right from iPhone to iPhone 3G. What happened to the iPhone 2? And then after that it was 4 and then 4G and then 5 and now 5G and 5C. Talk about a horrible naming strategy. I’ve heard all sorts of theories, how the C is supposed to be for China, because they’re trying to get Chinese people to not only manufacture iPhones, but to buy them as well. But when I hear 5C, all I think of is the word cheap.

Like, “Oh, I see you bought the cheap one.” Why would you want a plastic phone? Why would you want a neon pink iPhone? Although, that’s a pretty stupid thing to say on my part. I shouldn’t be in the business of judging people’s preference in colors. I am a little disappointed by the fact that there really isn’t much of a selection. Not that I’m interested in buying the cheapo model anyway. It’s just that, what if you’re not into really bright colors? I guess for me it never really mattered anyway, seeing as how I never take it out of its plastic protective case.

While I’m on numbers, isn’t anybody else going to point out the obvious incompatibilities with model number and operating system? I’m talking about how when they released the 5S/C, they simultaneously made available the new operating system, IOS 7. Can’t the boys in marketing figure out a way to synchronize the numbers? I’m being petty here.

I just get annoyed whenever a new product comes out and everybody starts gushing over it, the media, everyone at work, people on the subway. And then like a week after it comes out, I start to see them everywhere, new iPhones, shiny new colors, slightly different ringtones and message alert sounds. I took out my phone the other day, and a coworker was like, “You didn’t upgrade to IOS 7 yet?” looking at me like I had just contracted leprosy.

And so I went right home and downloaded IOS 7. And it took like an hour and a half out of my day, plugging it in, waiting for it to download and install, laying on my bed going through all of the menus and settings, discovering which marginal changes had been made to my phone’s user interface. The whole thing left me very underwhelmed, and now I was holding my same old iPhone 4, only it felt less comfortable, my old bright wallpaper was no longer compatible with the white numbers used to tell me the time, but of course Apple wouldn’t give you an option to change the color of the home-screen text.

Or let you decide if you like the old interface better. And I know it’s such a tired argument, that Apple doesn’t really let you customize anything. It does bother me, like the old operating system looked a certain way, and then all of the sudden Apple decides that they’d like mine, and everybody else’s phone, to look a different way. That would be like living in an apartment and the landlord busting in every year deciding to paint all the walls an entirely different color.

But it doesn’t matter. I have this fear that the minute you stop upgrading operating systems is the moment that you decide to get left behind in terms of technology. Sure, skipping one update won’t really get in the way of how you use a phone, but there are subtle changes with every release. You let those changes pile up, and before you realize it, you’re an old man that puts his hands on the newest model only to find that he doesn’t know how to use anything, he’s too set in his old ways.

This is crazy. It’s a fucking iPhone. I can’t believe I just spent all of this time actually writing this down. Sorry if you’ve made it all the way down here. New cell phone releases cause me an unnecessary amount of anxiety.