Tag Archives: Revenge

Don’t mess with Greg’s coffee

I was with my friend Greg last week, waiting on line at a Starbucks to get a cup of coffee. “And can you leave like an inch or two of space for milk? Please? Thank you,” Greg asked the barista. And I saw it, I saw how everything went down, the polite request, it was almost like he was afraid to ask, like he was really trying to communicate how he didn’t want to be a pain, if he could just get a little less coffee. And then the please and thank you, all very, very timid.


“Here you go Craig,” the barista handed him the cup of coffee. I could tell by Greg’s face that something wasn’t right, and seeing as how there was only one aspect of that coffee that could’ve gotten him upset, I guessed that just by holding the cup, that he could feel the weight, he could tell that something wasn’t right.

My initial instinct told me that the cup was probably filled too high. Maybe some of the hot liquid leaked out of the top hole on the cover, a dead giveaway that the container had reached maximum capacity. But then again, it could have been almost comically under-filled. Maybe instead of one or two inches of space, there were four or five.

I think back to my customer service days. I hate to admit it, because it’s something that I can only really describe as a serious character defect, but a lot of my interactions with customers and guests were directly influenced by the fickle nature of my mood. Sometimes I wouldn’t feel like going to work and waiting tables. And I don’t know what it is, because it’s not something that I want to have happen, but every once in a while, someone would ask me a perfectly reasonable request, like, “Can I get some extra ketchup, please?” and my internal reaction would be this automatic, “Go fuck yourself. I hate you.”

And of course, I don’t want to be that guy. That’s just not a nice way to live. And if you want to be employed as a waiter or a barista or whatever, you can’t be that guy. You’ll get fired. But on an especially dark day if I just couldn’t get my better nature to wrest control of my actions, I had a choice, I could just not get them any extra ketchup. I could say, “Sure, coming right up,” and then disappear for a while. Or I could take a really long time, watch for that customer to flag down someone else, and then right as he’s in the middle of asking that person, “Hey, could I get some extra ketchup, please?” I could show up in mid-sentence, “Here you go, sir,” make it look like he’s the one being really annoying.

This is all terrible, awful behavior, and I hope that nobody thinks that I’m condoning it or trying to make it OK. And it’s not like that’s something that I did, certainly not often. But yeah, I’d be lying if these thoughts weren’t a part of my underlying consciousness, that there’s something in me, and I’m sure in a lot of service industry workers, that just don’t want to, they don’t want to do anything, even if it’s a perfectly good-natured request, it’s so easy to slide into this almost comfortable pit of bitter entitlement.

Anyway, Greg took his coffee over to that little table by the side where you put your milk and sugar in and, it was just as I’d initially suspected. That coffee cup was filled all the way to the top. By the time Greg managed to get the lid off, there was coffee splashing down everywhere. He couldn’t even lift it up without spilling even more, and the cardboard container was already stained, becoming visibly warped by having so much hot liquid poured over the outside of the cup’s lip.

His face said that he was pissed, but I didn’t expect what happened next. I thought, maybe he’d try to take a big sip, which he did, but it was too hot to really get down a good gulp. And there was still the mess to deal with. I thought maybe he’d shake his head back and forth a little bit, try to make eye contact with the barista, give him a really nasty look. Of course the barista wouldn’t be looking. You don’t want to engage too much. The key to being passive aggressive is to focus on the passivity. That way if you get called out, if some guy that you screwed over confronts you, you’re not giving him anything like eye contact or any other sort of ammunition to further provoke a fight.

And I said it already too, that Greg’s a pretty cool guy, very polite, hardly confrontational. But that same thing that’s in me as a waiter, that same voice telling me to tell random people “fuck you” for asking for ketchup, it had to have been in Greg too. And sometimes you just can’t hold it back. Sometimes you know you shouldn’t do something, but you do it anyway.

So Greg went right up to the counter and screamed, “Hey!” and the barista looked up, and Greg splashed the whole cup of coffee right on him. And I’ve got to say, it was a perfect shot. Obviously you can’t go for the face, because that’s a hot cup of coffee, and you’re looking at burns, at legal action. No, it was right in the middle of this guy’s thick, green apron, right where you just knew there were enough layers of apron and black t-shirt and undershirt to absorb a lot of that heat. But it was a big cup, a venti, and so now this guy was soaked. And maybe it wouldn’t scald him, but there was probably a burning sensation, or at the very least, a really uncomfortable feeling of being very hot and wet.

And we just walked out. Nobody said anything, no manager came running after us. Because what were they going to do about it? What would I have done if I were in that barista’s position? I have no idea. It felt really good at the time, to have been there, to have witnessed what surely felt like such a release, just taking that “fuck you” and returning it right to sender, but without actually having to have done anything, no guilt afterward, no regret.

Because there would have been regret, if that were me anyway. Even now, a week later, I can’t help but thinking, what if that guy really did just make a mistake? What if he was really busy, and meant to leave that extra inch, but for whatever reason, he forgot? What if he’s just so conditioned to filling those cups all the way up, that it’s not even a conscious decision anymore, that it’s more muscle memory than anything else? And yeah, he made a mistake, but it’s a mistake. And now he’s got to, what, ask the manager for a new apron? For a new black t-shirt? What if they didn’t have any available? Would he have to go home, leave his coworkers short-staffed? “And why did he splash you? What did you do to piss him off?” the manager might ask, suspiciously.

No, I can’t, I couldn’t, it would have been too much. And I was expecting something out of Greg, an apology, maybe just the slightest expression of remorse, but nothing. I’ve seen him like once or twice since, and it’s like it never happened. And I don’t know, man, there’s something of that in me, definitely, and I’m pretty sure Greg has a little bit of it too. What else is inside? Aren’t you just a little bit sorry? What if he got him in the face? In the eyes?

My letter of resignation

Dear Bill Simmons:

Over the past thirteen weeks, I’ve written to you right here on my blog every Friday. Like Reed Richards desperately waving the Ultimate Nullifier in the face of Galactus in an effort to save the planet Earth, I had hoped that by repeating your name and my stated goal over and over again, this lowly Internet gnat might somehow grab the attention of the sports and pop culture Devourer of Worlds.


That’s supposed to be you, the Devourer of Worlds. It’s a Galactus reference, a classic Fantastic Four storyline from the sixties. Did you ever read comics? Just do yourself a favor and don’t watch that movie, The Rise of the Silver Surfer, because I don’t want you to get any weird ideas of what does and doesn’t work when telling a Fantastic Four story.

I’m getting off track. Bill, consider this my letter of resignation. Obviously, I had hoped to be handing you this letter, in person, some thirty years in the future. In my dreams, you’d have hired me two months ago, and it would have been the start of my illustrious career at Grantland. My rise to stardom was supposed to be so rapid that, after a short while, it would have felt like there wasn’t enough room on the web site for the both of us.

So you’d tell me to go on sabbatical for a while, not having the decency to terminate my contract and let me write elsewhere, but totally unwilling to publish any of my work. So I’d start coming up with all of these pseudonyms, submitting killer material behind your back, right to your own web site. Pretty soon you’d have a whole new team of writers, all of them me, but of course you’d be completely unaware.

And then one day we’d all go on strike. You’d reach out to all of the writers you’d have alienated in your naïve Grantland rebuild, but you know how it goes, hurt feelings, bruised egos. Nobody’s going to give you the time of day. So you’ll have to engage your striking writers, meet their one demand: bring back Rob.

You’d relent, the web site would thrive again, and after a few awkward months of us butting heads, unable to see eye to eye, arguing about even the most trivial of office nonsense, (like, for example, you’d insist on a robust dark coffee in the break room, where I’d keep making a case for a subtler, blonde roast,) we’d eventually get past our differences in an effort to make Grantland thrive.

It would be a golden age of writing about wrestling and action movies and sports, year after year of record high page views and increased advertising revenue. We’d both be rich beyond our wildest dreams. But unfortunately, all good things have to end. You’re quite a bit older than me, and so eventually you’ll be thinking about retiring, while I’ll still be in the prime of my career.

“Rob,” you’ll ask me as you start picking out a senior’s village to move to somewhere in Florida, “I want you take full control of the web site. You’ve done a great job, and hiring you turned out to be the best decision I’ve made. I’ve watched you grow as a writer, as a business man, and I’m proud to call you a partner and a friend.”

And that’s when I’d hand you my resignation letter. It would be uncharacteristically bitter, full of hatred and laced with old resentments. It’ll turn out that I never forgave you for trying to push me to the sidelines back you first hired me. This whole time, I’ve been building up the web site all while cooking the books behind your back, rotting the business from the foundation up. And now I want out, leaving you as an old man to try to clean up the festering mess of a once-great media empire.

Of course you won’t have the energy to do it, so you’ll file for bankruptcy, and you’ll have to hire a whole team of lawyers and accountants. Say goodbye to that retirement in Florida, Bill.

Anyway, that’s how I’d always imagined this going down. But you’re not even giving me the chance. It’s like that What If? comic, the one where Ben Grimm winds up chickening out of the space flight that turns Reed Richard and his friends into the Fantastic Four. I think they let Dr. Doom pilot the rocket instead. Of course this winds up destabilizing the timeline, Doom betrays everyone else, and Ben’s not the Thing, so there’s really nothing that he can do about it except for to sit there in misery, thinking about how things could have been different, if only he hadn’t left his friends behind.

OK, that one was kind of a stretch, but I’ve always had a fantasy where I got to write a resignation letter that both began and finished with relevant Fantastic Four analogies. Or metaphors. I can never remember which one is which, a metaphor or an analogy. Whatever.

It would have been an honor to work with you,

Rob G.

Revenge time

I’ve set up a pretty good thing here I think. A nice little forum, well, not a forum exactly, it’s just me. But a soapbox. I’ve got a nice little soapbox here to write about whatever I want and to make people laugh, or imagine to myself that I’m making people laugh, or maybe people are reading this right now and thinking to themselves, “Ha! Rob thinks his stuff is funny? That’s laughable!” And even that, somebody making fun of me, they’re still laughing. So even if they’re laughing at me, not with me, it’s still laughter, and so, haha to you too.

But I could be using this for so much more. I could be standing on top of this soapbox telling people what I really think of them. I could use this to get back at all the people who’ve pissed me off, and I could have the final word. Well, sure, they could always just start their own blog and then respond to me, and so technically, they would then have the final word. But that’s a big if. And even if that were to be the case I could A: choose not to read it and just tell myself that I still have the final word, or last laugh, considering all of that funny business I was talking about earlier, or B: I could just write another final word, the real final word, and keep at it until that other person gives up and stops blogging. But both of those are really unlikely scenarios. I haven’t even singled out anybody for revenge. Not yet. But here it is.

I’ve been waiting to give this one person a piece of my mind for a long time now. One time a few years ago I took this drawing class at some local college. This wasn’t my college, like I had already graduated. I was a working man now, working in some office, professionally surfing the Internet all day. But it wasn’t enough. So I signed up for this drawing class. And it was really cool, a nice little thing that I did for myself where I didn’t have to stare at a computer screen and pretend like I was working on spreadsheets.

Except, there was this one old guy in the class. Like he was really old. He seemed cool at first, and maybe it was even a little inspiring at the beginning. I thought to myself, well, no matter how my life turns out, at least I know, if I someday make it to be an old man, I can at least spend my days still taking drawing classes, enjoying this peaceful setting, drawing stuff. He was probably like the same age as the teacher, maybe a little older, and they always talked to each other before and after class, but he mostly kept to himself.

But then one class, the teacher passed out all of these eight by ten glossies of random people, some celebrities, some people that were maybe celebrities. Some of the photos were maybe just regular people, although I  couldn’t be positive that they might not be minor celebrities that I’ve never heard of, or maybe even a celebrity from a different country. Like Bjork. I have no idea what she looks like. She’s from Iceland, right? Whatever. I chose Spock. Not Leonard Nemoy, it was an eight by ten of Spock, pointy ears and everything.

I chose mine right away, because I love Star Trek, like I think it’s the best thing in the world, but I’ll get to that some other time. But because I chose mine so fast, I had to stand back and watch everybody else rifle through all of the headshots, carefully examining each one, thinking to themselves, hmm. Hmmmm. Should I pick this one? Mmmm. Maybe. Or maybe I should pick this one. Hmm. I just can’t pick.

I was watching this for what felt like forever, thinking to myself that the teacher shouldn’t have brought in so many photos. It’s the paradox of choice. The more choices, the harder it is to make a choice. Obviously that only applied to everyone else. I picked mine right away. I told you that already. Anyway, like five minutes into it, this guy my age picks up a photo and says to the teacher, “Who’s this guy?” And I looked, because I was already done picking, and I was just super bored and being really nosey about what photos everyone else was picking. I know, I said that like three times now. I don’t know why I’m so hung up on it. Fastest picker. Big deal, right?

So the teacher goes, “That’s Winston Churchill.” And yeah, Churchill’s pretty famous, kind of a big deal, World War II, crumpets and scones. And that old guy, who was still picking his photo, he just stopped, like frozen still, like I was worried that he was having a stroke or a heart attack. His jaw hung all the way open. I mean, if I relax my jaw, it opens a little bit, but to really extend one’s jaw all the way down, they have to physically move it past its natural resting point. And this old guy had his mouth as open as it could get, like a snake unhinging its jaw, getting ready to swallow something whole.

Finally, after like a really awkward minute or two, he showed some signs of life. “Who’s Winston Churchill?” the old man starting saying, to nobody in general, well, in the teacher’s general direction, but to everybody really. He was saying it out loud. He was definitely getting ready to swallow this guy whole. “Doesn’t know who Winston Churchill is?” getting louder this time. But nobody really engaged him. Nobody responded. Not even the teacher really. She met his gaze, maybe even thinking to herself, yeah, it is kind of strange that this guy can’t recognize Winston Churchill, but whatever, I’m a drawing teacher, not a history teacher, and so I’m not going to make a huge deal about it.

But this old guy was like shaking head back and forth in disbelief. “Churchill …” I would hear him whispering to nobody in particular throughout the course of the class. He totally couldn’t get over it, not even a little. At some level I could maybe see where this guy might be coming from. After all, World War II was a huge deal, and this guy clearly lived through it, so yeah, he might be saying to himself, the biggest most defining period of my entire generation, and this kid can’t even identify Winston Churchill. But that’s where my sympathy ends.

I’m not sure exactly how I saw it at the time, because it was so long ago. I’ve replayed the memory in my head a million times since, and you know how it is when you replay something in your head. Things get added, things get deleted. You automatically make the story more interesting every time. I want to say I recognized Churchill from this guy’s photo, but I’m not sure if I did or if that was the first time I really got a good look at him. I absolutely knew about Churchill. I took all these boring history classes in college. But my textbooks weren’t photo albums. I just read about him. Do I have to know what he looks like? I don’t know what Alexander the Great looks like. I don’t even really know what Lincoln looks like, all I see in my head is that top hat and beard. OK, that’s not true. Everyone knows what Lincoln looks like.

What I’m trying to say is, it’s not some prerequisite to know what historical people looked like. I’ve read about tons of historical people, and I don’t know the first thing about their physical appearances. Anyway that’s not my point either. My point is that if somebody doesn’t know something, he doesn’t know it. Instead of sitting there and making this person feel like an idiot for not knowing it, this old guy should have just let the teacher do her job, educate this guy on who it was, and then sit back and think, well, he didn’t know it, but now he knows it. No, this old guy couldn’t take it. How dare you not know all of the things that I already know? Whereas the teacher’s response was, “That’s Winston Churchill,” this old guy’s response was, “That’s Winston Churchill. You moron.”

And so, old man, if you’re still alive, and you’ve somehow stumbled upon this blog, which is probably highly unlikely, because you’re probably too busy reading really obscure Winston Churchill blogs, I’d like to say to you, you were a real jerk that day. You made it like this guy didn’t even know who Churchill was, when in reality he just didn’t recognize his face, probably because he hasn’t been alive in a while. Do you know what William Howard Taft looks like? If I showed you a photo of Taft would you say to yourself, that’s President Taft? Well, I don’t care if you could or couldn’t. You didn’t have to be such a dick. Churchill wasn’t even American.

I wish I could go back in time and start drawing my drawing really close to this old guy’s drawing, to the point where he might say to me, “Who’s that guy with the long face and the pointy ears?” and I’d say back to him, “That’s Mister Spock, you idiot. Get a TV, you loser.”

Man, this letting it all out, it really felt great. I’ve been holding all of this in for way too long.

And the Oscar goes to …

I’m not sure how, but I’ve always imagined that, at some point in the future, the Academy is eventually going to nominate and award me with the Oscar for Best Director. I know, I know, there’s a lot I have to do to get from where I am right now to being a huge filmmaker, but once I get there, I’ll already have this done, my acceptance speech. I’ve been working on it for some time now:

Thank you, thank you all! I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank everyone that’s helped me get to where I am right now. But first, I’d like to make a very special shout out to my old friend Steve. Oh, my good pal Steve. It’s been a long time buddy. Way too long. Steve and I both started out together as lowly production assistants for some reality show years ago. We got along together well enough at first, but after a few days on set, I saw this nasty, dark side of his personality. Every day Steve and I had to take turns getting lunch for the whole crew. One day as he was passing out the sandwiches, I saw one of the assistant directors grab my sandwich. And Steve didn’t say anything. He just stood there, like a coward. After everybody took their meals, I looked in the now mostly empty bag and saw one pathetic looking sandwich lying at the bottom, completely flattened from the pressure of all of the other sandwiches. It had the words “egg salad” written in marker on the wax paper wrapper.

I said, “Hey Steve, what the hell? You gave away my sandwich?” and he was all like, “Look man, I’m sorry, I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t want anyone to get pissed off, I …” and I cut him off right there and I said, “Well you know what Steve? You did piss somebody off. You pissed me off. Big time.” I made it through the rest of the season without so much as speaking another word to Steve, and I made a promise to myself that day. I told myself that, if I ever made it, if I ever got to be a big director, which I am now, I’d make sure that Steve wouldn’t have even so much as an opportunity to clean the toilets at a public access station in Akron, Ohio. You hear that Steve? I hope you’re watching this. You’re done! You’ll never work in this town again! I always wanted to say that.

Oh, and Steve, I bought you fifty egg salad sandwiches. I bought them last week. I put them all in a big box and had them shipped to your house. And it wasn’t express mail either. I wanted them on the slowest possible route to your house, like five-day regular parcel mail. So now you know what that smell is. I’ll tell you what, Steve, if you can somehow eat all of those egg salad sandwiches in one sitting, if you can do that and somehow prove it to me that you did it, I’ll let go of the grudge. I’ll let bygones be bygones. Are you doing it right now Steve? Have you taken your first bite?

Well forget it. I already changed my mind. I don’t care how much bad egg salad you eat. You could eat nothing but jars of spoiled mayonnaise for the rest of your life, and it still wouldn’t change the fact that your career in show business is over. Hey Steve, I heard you got married a few years ago. Congratulations. I’d also like to take this opportunity in the spotlight to personally ask your wife out on a date. Hey Steve’s wife. If you’re watching this, give me a call. Call me tomorrow. Tell you what, if you leave Steve, I’ll make your wildest dreams come true. I’ll cast you as the lead in my next film. I promise. And I just won best director, so you can be assured that even if it sucks, a ton of people are going to see it, and you’ll make a boat-load of money. What do you say?

But you guys have a kid, right? Sorry babe, the kid’s half Steve, so the kid’s got to go. And you can’t leave him with Steve, either. You have to put him up for adoption first, make sure that Steve will never get to see the kid again. Tell social services that Steve beats the kid up or something. Tell them that Steve’s addicted to meth. Go buy some meth and plant it in Steve’s dresser. Then call social services. Make sure that, when you drop off the kid at the adoption agency, that you tell the social workers that the kid is all fucked up in the head, that he tortures animals in the backyard. You hear that Steve? You’re kid’s going to grow up in a foster home without parents! I’m going to make sure that your kid’s eating nothing but egg salad sandwiches, alone in some government run house for degenerate brats for the rest of his life!

Steve, I’m trying to put myself in your shoes right now, trying to imagine what you must be going through and, you know, I can only think of one way out of your situation. I’m not going to say it on TV, because I don’t want to get in any trouble here but, you know what I’m talking about. What’s it going to be Steve? Huh?

I’d also like to thank the Academy! I’d like to thank my loving family; I couldn’t have done it without your support! And I’d like to thank God! Thank you Jesus for all of the blessings in my life! Good night everybody!