Tag Archives: help

Could you please help me up?

Excuse me, sir, yes, you. I’m sorry to bother you but, could you please help me up? Yeah, I don’t know, I just, it’s like my legs folded and I sat down and now I can’t get back up again. I know. I am trying. Look, see, I’m moving my torso around, right, yes, well that’s exactly the problem, I can’t get them to move. No, don’t call an ambulance. I’m just, I’m just thinking that if I could somehow get back on my feet, I can’t explain it, but I think everything would sort of right itself out.


Well, just, could you kind of come around behind me and grab from my chest? Yeah, I’m only about one eighty, one ninety, you think you could do like a squat? Yes, I’m sure I don’t want an ambulance, I don’t have any insurance. Yeah well, Obamacare doesn’t go into effect for another year or so. I don’t know, my boss said something about open enrollment and the lady on the state hotline said the same thing, I was getting nowhere, and then one of my uncles told me that they’re not going to start fining people for another year or so. So … yeah, no hospital, please.

Well, is it the weight thing? Because I’m sure we could get someone else to help out. Could you deadlift ninety pounds? What about that guy, over in the corner? Go ask him if he’d help you out. No, not that guy, the guy with the yellow jacket. True, but I think he looks a little bit more well-rounded than the other guy, more core strength. And yeah, that’s totally just a random guess, I mean I have no idea how strong either of them are. Just, look, it’s your call, but if I were you, I’d ask the guy with the yellow jacket. I don’t know, just ask him if he could help you lift something.

Well what did he say? No? Did you ask the other guy? Well, I don’t see why you wouldn’t have asked him since you were already over there. Aw man, they’re both gone now. OK, look, maybe if you just kind of give me a roll. Can you get sort of under my lower back? I get it, but just, I wouldn’t be asking if I weren’t stuck here. There we go. OK, and now just leverage the rest of your weight against my …

OK, now I can’t move my hands either. My arms are working fine. But it’s like everything below the wrist is just disconnected. Are you looking that up on your phone? Do you have any doctor friends or relatives? No, me neither. Yeah. Maybe you should call the ambulance. Yeah, I’m starting to lose my vision. No, it’s cool. Just, can you take my wallet, my ID, everything. Just throw it out. Tell them you found me this way. I’ll try to go for the whole John Doe thing, and maybe they won’t figure out where to send the bills. Just hurry up, OK, I’m having trouble swallowing. Thanks again man, for stopping I mean. You’re like the only person that stopped. I really owe you one.

Home Depot

I got lost at the Home Depot the other day. For some reason, it’s always Home Depot. What should have been a routine visit turned into a two-hour session in social anxiety, an exercise in the many subtle social interactions that in thirty years on this planet I’ve yet to learn. I could be feeling at the top of my game, like I’ve got everything figured out. And it only takes one trip to Home Depot to make me feel like a little kid again. A little kid who has no idea what he’s doing in life, just wasting everybody’s time with his presence.


It should have been simple enough. I wanted some cedar to build a vegetable garden in the backyard. The wood comes in these twelve foot long planks, and I know that they’ll cut it right there for you. But figuring out how to get them to cut it, it’s crazy. It’s not like the Home Depot commercials, where everything looks so easy. “You’ve got a project but you don’t know how to start?” the faceless announcer pegs me right away, “Just come over to Home Depot, where we’ll tell you what you need, and how to do it.”

But what they don’t tell you is, there are like three hundred people also shopping at the Home Depot, and while most everybody knows what they’re doing, like they’re able to navigate the maze of endless choices of tools and equipment, instantly zeroing in on precisely the right product that they need for the job, there are always at least ten or fifteen people per aisle doing exactly what I’m doing, staring ahead blankly at the walls, unable to even think about how you’re supposed to start doing whatever it is what you want to do.

Sure, it should be as easy as just grabbing someone in an orange vest, “Can you help me out for a second?” But each orange vest is always helping someone else out. Not only that, they’ve got like two or three other people waiting in line to be helped out. Only, there’s not really a line. You’re just supposed to kind of hover around the orange vest, hoping that whenever they’re done helping whoever it is that they’re currently helping, they’ll turn to you next and go, “OK, so what can I help you with?”

Nobody’s taking numbers, it’s always a free-for-all. You’ll be awkwardly orbiting an orange vest, you’re clearly next in line, in fact, you’ve gone above and beyond what should have been necessary to secure your spot. You might have started out in the tool aisle, you’re waiting as the orange vest helps someone pick out a choice screwdriver, and all you need is some help picking out your own screwdriver. But no, after this guy gets his screwdriver, he’s like, “Also, can you help me pick out a good doorknob?”

“Sure! Right this way!” And then it’s crazy, you have to follow them to the doorknob aisle. You’re lost, very far away from your intended goal, and for all you know, there might be a new orange vest in the tool aisle, someone ready to help out the next tool-seeking customer. But you’re invested. You’ve waited. You’ve tried to give these two enough space so as not to intrude upon their moment while also remaining close enough that everyone knows that you’re there for help, that you’re next.

But how many times does it happen, when you should be next, but maybe you’ve got like two or three other hangers-on, waiting for the orange vest’s attention. It’s your turn, but right before you can jump in, someone else cuts the line, “Hey sorry, just real quick, can you help me pick out a doorknob?” And what are you supposed to say? “Excuse me, I’m next, and we’re going back to the tool aisle.”

No, you have to sit there and wait, and then other people see that you’ve just given up your turn, so when that turn is over, it’s like you’re labeled, go ahead and cut me, I won’t say anything, I’m not going to protest.

That’s what it was like for this wood that I needed cut. I found the wood, right, and I found the cutting machine. “Hey man, do you think you could cut some wood for me?” and he just kept saying, “What? What?” Like, was I not speaking properly? Every single question I asked, “What? Huh?” Finally I had to spell it out, “Can. You. Cut …”

And then he was like, “OK, yeah, fine, go get the wood, I’ll cut it.”

So I got the wood, eight pieces of cedar. I loaded it onto this awkward lumber shopping cart, and I waited by the machine. Only, he was gone. He disappeared. I waited for like fifteen minutes, tried to go on my phone to make the time go by, tried not to look impatient. Finally I felt like I was being had, I stopped some other orange vest, someone walking by with his own posse of hangers on. “Excuse me,” I said really quickly, “I’m not trying to interrupt, but do you know where the wood cutter is? He was here like fifteen minutes ago, but I don’t see him anymore.”

And everyone gave me that stink eye, like what the hell man? Don’t you see the vague circle-like amorphous blob of a line? Nobody here knows exactly who’s up next, but it’s definitely not you.

This orange vest looked around, he told, “I think he’s at the other cutting machine. I can hear it cutting.”

“Thanks,” I told him, leaving my wood behind to go investigate this other cutting machine. Of course there was another cutting machine. And of course there was a new line of people all waiting to have some wood cut. I waited, and by the time it was my turn for assistance, some other Home Depot employee had returned all of my lumber that was waiting at that original cutting machine. I had to start all over again, lifting the wood off of the shelf, trying to get the cutting guy to stay with me, having to speak really slowly all over again so he could understand how long I wanted each piece to be cut.

Does it have to be this hard? Why can’t they make it easier to get help? They should have like a structured system, like you need help, you go find someone at the front, all of the orange vests could help people on a first come, first serve basis. You won’t have to wander the aisles and worry that you’re bothering the wrong people. “Oh sorry, I’m just stocking, I’m not doing customer service.” OK, well how am I supposed to know that? You’re all wearing identical orange vests. And everybody looks like they’re doing something else.

Fix it, Home Depot. Don’t you want me to spend money at your store? Don’t you think I’d be more inclined to visit more frequently if I didn’t feel like such an amateur every time I walked through your giant warehouse doors?

My freezer is kind of broken and I can’t get myself to deal with it

The ice cream in my freezer kept getting softer and softer, to the point where it felt almost like soft-serve in a pint, and while I could lie to myself, try to ignore my problems and think about how cool it was to always have soft ice cream on hand, eventually the decline in freeze got to the point where I needed to do something, I had to like look up something on the Internet or call up somebody to come and take a look at what was going on.


Even this thought took a couple of weeks to really plant itself in my head. Slightly above temperature ice cream is one thing, but that box of frozen hamburger patties? How long could I really continue to enjoy this stuff without worrying about all of the harmful bacteria that might start to take advantage of my less that optimally functioning freezer?

Still, there was so much inertia, I couldn’t stand to let another day go by without taking care of the problem, but I was frozen, unable to think of how I’d go from not doing anything about it to doing something, anything.

I think the root of it had to do with my not-so-irrational fear of freezers. That sounds crazy, but it’s not, it comes from a real, traumatic experience. My wife and I were living in Ecuador as Peace Corps Volunteers. We had this cheap-o refrigerator, so wildly out of synch with what we were used to dealing with back home. This thing didn’t have whatever our modern freezers have that prevents frost from accumulating and building up along the sides of the walls.

Again, it was this slow issue that never really warranted immediate action, but left undealt with, it was like one day we couldn’t close the freezer door anymore, the ice had literally snowballed it’s way into becoming this problem that had to be addressed immediately.

And so, with no Internet to look up how to take care of something that I would have never had to deal with back home, I imagined a reasonable course of action involved me taking a kitchen knife to the inside of the freezer, stabbing at the chunks of ice until I’d shaved off enough space for the door to close.

In retrospect, of course this seems like a stupid idea. You don’t just go hacking away at your problems. But at the time, I thought, OK, I’m getting somewhere, ice is falling off, this shouldn’t take too much longer.

But it’s an awkward stance, kind of half crouching down, jabbing my arm in an upside-down upward motion inside of a small frozen box. I hit something, I knew I had made a big mistake because it started hissing, a stream of gas blowing out of the freezer. I thought, that had to be the Freon, all of this gas leaking, this is what’s keeping everything cold.

I had to stop it. I had some silicon glue lying around and figured I’d stick my head in there and try to plug everything up. There were bubbles involved. I’d think I had everything patched up when there’d be a pop, more expelled gas. Finally the hissing stopped, and even though I had my fingers crossed, a few hours later it was obvious that both the fridge and the freezer no longer functioned in keeping anything below room temperature.

It was a nightmare, getting this thing fixed, it was like a whole month and a half with no refrigerator. I felt like a caveman. My wife was pissed. I’m still haunted by this story, every time there’s any sort of kitchen problem, it always comes down to me trying to stab my way out of everything. And that’s not even mentioning the paranoia I still suffer as a result of having probably breathed in way too much Freon. It never occurred to me that maybe I shouldn’t be sharing a two by two foot box with all of that leaking gas. What are the long term effects? Do my lungs seem cold to anyone else?

So it was with this fear that I approached my current freezer dilemma. Fortunately, the Internet told me that before I called in a serviceman to charge me several hundred dollars, all I had to do was first clean out the vent behind the appliance. Apparently it’s a dust-trap, and after a couple of years of neglecting to be cleaned, this build-up can cause the cold to be not so cold.

But again, moving the fridge was this impossible chore, jostling it into a position in which I could at least see the back. There was dust everywhere, that patch of unseen floor was practically blackened with soot. And when I finally got to where I was in a position that I could maybe do something about it, I realized that I didn’t have a vacuum, and that my dust-buster was out of battery.

I made a weak attempt at wiping off the grate with some paper towels, but there was so much more dust that I didn’t really accomplish anything. Still, what was I going to do? I moved everything back into place and set the dust-buster to charge.

The whole thing took me like fifteen minutes. I’m worried that it’s going to be another two weeks before I find the motivation to attempt the cleaning again. And there are so many variables. Will the dust-buster still have any battery? Would the half-assed cleaning with the paper towel somehow have been enough to prevent me from trying again? Why do I keep fighting the urge to grab a kitchen knife?

I don’t know, man, I’ve got to commit to some action, my ice cream’s like soup, like not totally runny yet, but definitely less than soft-serve, and the frozen patties are starting to look a little gray.

It’s not that I don’t want to help

It’s not that I don’t want to help, I do. I want to help. I just don’t feel like it. If only I felt more like helping out. Like, I wish that I were in the mood to lend a hand. So I want to help, it’s just, I can’t get past that internal inertia, dammit, if only that weren’t there, then we’d be good to go, because I always want to help out, in any way that I can really, it’s just, right now, I don’t think there is a way. Because I’m so tired.

ants log

And it’s not that I don’t like that shirt you gave me. I do like it. It’s only, well I can never figure out the right occasion to wear it. Like, yeah I guess I could have worn it out tonight, but then that would have been it. The first time you put on a new shirt, that’s something special, something you can’t recreate the next time. After that it’s just an old shirt. So yeah, I’ll get to it eventually, but it has to be the right time. That’s something you can’t force. If anything, it’s too nice of a shirt. I may never get around to wearing it. And that would actually be a good thing, get it?

Please, don’t mistake my not eating very much of this meal as any sort of judgment on your cooking, it’s delicious, really, it’s just that, I’m still full from lunch. That happens sometimes, you eat lunch but it kind of just sits in your stomach. Right? And your appetizers, I mean, they weren’t that big, but they were really filling. Even just that one bite that I took out of those … what was that, a celery stick, yes, but filled with what? Yogurt? Cream cheese? Mayo? I couldn’t pinpoint the tartness exactly, and, when you put chocolate chips instead of raisins, was that on purpose? Those were raisins? Right, of course they were. And they were delicious. Can I take some of this home? Because I’m totally going to wolf it down tomorrow.

And come on, I think you’re a great driver, but I couldn’t accept a ride home from you, it would be too much. Besides, I always walk home, it’s only like seven or eight miles, I’ll be home in no time. I know, I did look pretty anxious the last time you gave me a ride, but don’t take it personally, I’m nervous in any type of an automobile. Christ, you should see me on an airplane. And the constantly checking to make sure you looked when you turned, the grabbing onto the side handle, the violent flinching when you kind of ran that red light. Well, it was pretty much red. Yeah, well, just because you didn’t get pulled over doesn’t mean you didn’t run the light. But whatever, you nailed it. You’re a great driver. But I’m going to walk.

And, again, I’m sorry if I misunderstood the reason you had us all over. I had no idea you were trying to organize canvassers to help out on Election Day. And bravo to you, seriously, that’s very commendable, getting out there, providing a great role model for the rest of us regular citizens. It’s not that I don’t want to help … I told you this already, right? Yeah, it’s just, I thought you were just having people over to have people over, not to fundraise or organize, or … and yeah, I’m a grassroots guy all the way. Except for right now. I’m so tired. I think that huge lunch from before, it’s turning into an upset stomach. Good thing I didn’t waste that shirt on tonight, am I right?

Well, hopefully this long walk home will help everything settle down inside. But let’s hang out soon, OK? Next Monday? Next Monday I think I’m busy. Actually, all of next week, and the week after that, man, I can’t believe I was even able to get free tonight. But this headache. Soon, definitely soon. See, look, I’m writing you in my calendar, “soon.” I’ll see you soon, man. Later.

I met my guardian angel while waiting for the subway

I was running late for work the other day, so late that I must have forgotten to check my pockets as I flew out the door, I didn’t have my MetroCard, it’s usually in my left back pocket, not in my wallet, easy access, you need the easiest access for a MetroCard. It’s like, any sort of moisture on your hands, whatever the plastic material that the card is made out of, it becomes impossible to get a grip on if it’s stuck in a wallet, you’ll be standing there at the turnstile, why isn’t this thing coming out, it’s barely raining, or I’m barely sweating at all, and people behind you are like, “Come on buddy, let’s move it pal, I don’t have all day here man, let’s go …” and you want to be like, “Shut up! All right! Just shut up!” but the best you can muster is a feeble, “I’m sorry, it’s just that, I can’t, my grip, it’s right here, I … it’s … I’m,” and they’re like, “Hurry! Up! Move!” and then the MTA employee gets on the mic behind the box, you think she might defuse the situation, but she’s not on your side, “Sir! Please step aside and let the people through!” and it’s only been what, ten, fifteen seconds so far, you’re not allowed ten or fifteen seconds to try and grab the card that’s right there?


Right, so back pocket it is, which, until now was the most effective strategy, walk through, loose MetroCard in the pocket, swipe, if only that guy ahead of me would just hurry up already, what is he, a tourist, come on pal. But this time it’s my undoing, I’m going to swipe but there’s no card, there’s nothing, I look behind me, there’s a line, I start to panic, I can feel the group conscious start to come down on me, it’s going to be negative, maybe it’s going to be violent, who’s going to turn on me first.

“Hey friend,” who the hell said that? “Need a swipe?” It’s this guy next to me, I don’t know what to say, what’s his angle? What does he want? “No, it’s just that … well, I can’t seem to … I just,” and then he just swiped it. The turnstile screen said go, so I went. “Hey man, that was really … you didn’t have to, I … thanks, just … just, thanks a lot, all right?”

“Yeah, no problem.” And then I turned, I went up the stairs to wait for the train, I always walk to the end of the platform, nobody ever walks all the way down, and so even if it’s a full train, even if it’s rush hour, there’s always a little more room if you head toward the first or the last car. But I couldn’t help but thinking about that guy, was I just his good deed for the day? Does he do stuff like that pretty regularly? Man, I’ve got to buy a new MetroCard, which sucks, because I don’t want to have to get attached to a new one, I used the old one for so long that all of the lettering faded away, it was just a white card with a magnetic strip, which I thought was cool, it was like I owned it, like it was …

“Hey man, you dropped your magazine.” It was that same guy. He was holding a magazine. I instinctively reached back to touch my other back pocket, yep, it was gone, no magazine, and that’s weird too because I’m never losing things out of my back pockets, and now today, twice, first the MetroCard, now, well, maybe I lost the magazine while looking for my MetroCard, that moment of panic, I could feel everybody’s eyes on me, just waiting for me to trip up, sometimes even if you have your card, you swipe it that first time and it doesn’t read, it’s just like, “Swipe again, at this turnstile,” and so you’re stuck, come on …

“Thanks man, I owe you again,” I told him and grabbed my magazine. “Yeah, don’t mention it.” Wow, I’ve got to be more careful I guess, just a little more aware of my possessions, my sense of what’s in what pocket, right? When I got on the train there weren’t any seats, so much for my strategy, well, whatever, maybe it’s just unusually crowded today, or maybe there was a delay right before I got on, so everybody had a chance to walk to the end of the platform, but it doesn’t matter, I guess I really don’t mind standing for …

“Hey man, you want to sit down?” I couldn’t believe it, it was the same guy, what is he, my guardian angel? How did he get on the train before me? I didn’t even see any open seats, there are like twenty people standing in the car, and this guy was definitely behind me when I took the magazine out of his hands. I wanted to ask him all of this, I wanted to freak out, head to the next car and try and give this guy the slip, but the car doors closed right behind me and, yeah, I actually did want to sit down, I’d been rushing this whole morning, everything off on the wrong foot, no coffee, I was exhausted, “Yeah, man, thanks.” And he got up and I sat down and read my magazine. That was really nice, that guy, what a nice thing to do, three nice gestures in a row, this total stranger, what a guy.