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Effortlessly Average

Sort of half-heartedly leading the charge into mediocrity since, oh, let's say around 1987 or so.

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Location: Roaming (additional charges may apply), Argentina

Proof that with internet access and a powerful laxative, even insipid people will blog; the place where your excellence and my mediocrity collide; where my Karma whips ass on your dogma.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Mr. Pidass, You're Craftsman Is Ready

Following a trip to my local 7-11, I now have my Dr. Pepper and am prepared to write.
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Several years ago my wife and I thought it might be a good idea to retire for a while. Not in the traditional meaning of "retire," mind you; we don't intend to sit on the front porch at dawn, waving at the joggers, drinking prune juice, or endlessly complaining about the gov'mint - although truth be told we already complain about our leaders a lot and now that I think about it I seem to recall a rumor that the base ingredient in Dr. Pepper is prune juice. Oh, well. Now if there were any joggers in our neighborhood - or if we were awake early enough to notice - at least we'd fit the stereotype, despite being decades away from enrollment in AARP.

Perhaps a more accurate way to describe our intentions isn't to call it "retirement," per se, but more along the lines of a willful unemployment. Only we intend not to suffer the typical ills associated with unemployment. Instead we plan to use our unemployment to better ourselves and our children by traveling North America in an RV-Bus conversion motorcoach, experiencing all those things you'd never see otherwise. Perhaps we should call it "funemployment."

To prepare us for this adventure we sold the big house, the fancy cars, and generally divested ourselves of the trappings American society brainwashes us into believing are the definition of "success." We moved into a small rental house to prepare us for our next step down, i.e, into a converted bus. How small is this house, you ask? Let's just say we keep a generous supply of lubricant on hand in case someone wants to change their mind.

This move meant I had to give up my huge garage for a tiny little toolshed in the back yard. I don't mind so much, although I do miss having somewhere in which to putter in a manly manner, the way manly men do when they have their very own garage space. On the side of this putterless-able toolshed is several old pieces of junk left over from previous tenants, including an old lawn mower. When we moved in we tried to dispose of these unwanted articles of clutter via our local trash collector.

Now, I'm not one I'd normally consider to be "old." According to my daughter, that status isn't achieved until the age of 40, at which time I think she believes it's time to collect social security. At 38 I don't yet qualify, but in her eyes I'm close enough to smell it. I mention my age only because I am old enough to remember when trash men actually collected unwanted things. At any rate, trash, rubbish, refuse; they took whatever it was and by whatever name you called it. Don't want it? Leave it outside on garbage day and it would magically disappear.

To show these denizens of the refuse of rampant consumerism that we appreciate their efforts we'd leave a bag of M&Ms or a bottle of Old Spice on the can around Christmas. We'd even wrap a red bow around said present so he'd know this item wasn't intended to be discarded, but was a small token of appreciation for taking that burnt-orange lounge chair out of our lives forever. In retrospect I'm not sure of the message we were sending though: either "here's a $1.50 bag of frozen chocolate to suck on throughout your day" or "you stink."

But that's what Christmas is for, right? You become a little more generous. You give gifts to those within your sphere of existence whom you'd ignore entirely on any other normal day: the garbage man, the mailman, the checkout girl at the local mega-mart. Well, I realize that might sound a little sexist; the checkout person doesn't have to be a girl - it could also be a gay guy.

But I digress. The point I was about to make was that today's "disposal engineers" feel that the advancement of their title now grants them immutable power over the world of refuse. Today, you may arrive home from work to find that the spare tire or Liberace oil painting remains at the curb while the other trash is gone. When we moved into this matchbox I placed those miscellaneous toolshed junk items out by the curb every Monday for three weeks and every Tuesday they remained behind. That explains why they were hidden behind the toolshed all this time. Apparently the previous tenants didn't know what to do with them either. Finally we received a notice from the "disposal" company that they do not accept paint cans, tires, cadavers, lawn mowers, or any of the other items that I just happened to have piled on the leeward side of my toolshed. Well, except for the cadaver of course, in case any law-enforcement types are reading this. Looking at the phone book-size list of forbidden items I remember thinking WTF? What am I supposed to do with this sh..tuff? Actually I really thought "shit," but this is a family friendly blog for fuck's sake.

Shortly thereafter I experienced another interesting discovery resulting from this quest. There is no place convenient in which to dispose of an unwanted lawn mower. Well, not convenient and legal anyway. Because yeah, I could take it out to one of the innumerable desolate roads in the area and dump it somewhere along the way, but unlike the other heartless bastards who dispose of everything from deer carcasses to washing machines on our nations roadways, I have a heart goddamit! Apparently people who live in New Jersey have no idea where their garbage goes. They just put it outside and like many primitive people they believe the trash fairies flutter by on gossamer wings, making it vanish with a wave of their glittering wands. An actual land-fill apparently doesn't exist in this area of the country. When I'd ask someone for the location of a landfill, I'd either receive a look that told me I might as well be trying to find the lost golden city of Tenochtitlan or directions that lead to a remote hillside along State Route 519.

Last Sunday morning I sat out on the back porch with a cool glass of Dr. Pepper in hand. I was intermittently thinking about the wholesale dismantling by Washington of what used to be our civil rights and what to do with that damned lawn mower. I glanced over to the toolshed. There it was, staring back at me; mocking me. I'm not even sure if it works. At least if it worked I could perhaps sell it for a few bucks. Then, just as the sun peaked above the tree tops, the solution presented itself. It was right there in front of me, looming like... like... like something big standing right in front of me. I waved at the neighbor jogging by and went back inside, grinning to myself over my epiphany.

Monday morning I took the lawn mower down to my Sears repair center and told them it wouldn't start and I just couldn't figure out why. The young man behind the counter treated me with the kind of reverence and understanding only another man with a broken power tool would understand.

"I understand sir. We'll get it running again for you."

"Thanks. I can't wait until fall, when I won't have to mow again for several months."

"Heh heh, I know what you mean, sir. You want to give me your name and phone number and we'll call you when it's ready?"

"Sure. My name's P-I-D-A-S-S. Pronounced 'Piday.' I know, try growing up with it. First name Stewart."

"Ok, Mr. ... Pidaye [doing is best not to laugh], what number can I reach you at."

I ignored his use of a preposition at the end of a sentence. "Please, call me Stu."

"Ok, Stu. Where can we reach you?"

"I'm at 669-487-9377. That's my cell." I figured the unusual area code wouldn't seem so unusual as a cell phone, what with cellular service being national now.

The Sears man, in his freshly pressed uniform, pushed my four-wheeled adversary into the back like an orderly about to prepare a patient for surgery. "Ok, Stu, we'll call you when she's ready."

I left, feeling both smug for escaping the impenetrable refuse web in which the garbage man - excuse me, "disposal engineer" - had me trapped and a bit guilty for what the Sears guy is going to think when he dials 1-669-487-9377 (or, phonetically, "1-NOW-ITS-YERS") only to find no Stu Pidass lives there.

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