Archives for March 2011

What The Hell Happened to Courtesy

English: A KONE Ecodisc elevator in Glasgow af...

English: A KONE Ecodisc elevator in Glasgow after a fire alarm has been activated, causing the lift to enter Fireman’s Mode. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have written many times about the lack of elevator etiquette. There are the people who try to take a cigarette into the car, those that dump buckets of perfume/cologne over their heads and then enter the car and there are those that think that it is ok to hold the door while they finish their conversation with someone who has chosen not to get on the elevator. How is that for a run-on sentence.

But today I encountered a new jerk. Today I rode the elevator with a man who thought that it was ok to share his flatulence with me. It is one thing to share these in silence. I’ll do my best not to cough and turn blue while holding my breath.

It is quite another thing to just let one rip” as if you haven’t a care in the world and it is even worse when you don’t apologize or excuse yourself. That is what happened today.

The man didn’t yell “fore” or “Geronimo” or give any indication that he was about to soil his pants and I am fairly certain that this was “wet.” I apologize for the detail, but I am still horrified by this and as a father who has changed many a diaper I know the signs.

It was loud. It was wet and was most aromatic in a most unpleasant way. I wanted to run. I wanted to flee but there was no place to go. The doors were closed and we were between floors.

As I gasped for breath I thought about my family and a sob escaped my throat. There was something so unfair and so unjust about this. My children were going to have to be told that their father died trying to rescue children from a burning building not that he died as a result of asphyxiation caused by noxious fumes from a common “fart.”

The thought was so upsetting. In my mind’s eye I could see them being teased on the playground. I could hear the vice-principal suspending my son for fighting and saw his mother explaining that he didn’t need to fight every time some kid tormented him about it.

Suddenly the elevator doors opened and I flung myself into the hallway. Gasping for air I rolled on the floor and inhaled the stale but ever so sweet after effects of the cleaning crew. The scent of their passage lingered in the air and I reveled in the gift of life I had received.

In the interim stinky rolled on out of the office and waddled down the hall. I carefully followed him and watched him enter an office. Later today we will show him how we deal with terrorism in this part of town.

The boys and I are going out for burritos and chili. Together we will enter his office and then drag him to a utility closet where we will unleash our own WMDs, mercilessly. And as all good terrorists do I’ll videotape this so that I can create more terror by uploading the file onto the net.

Flatulent Fred, judgment day is coming for you.

(Originally run here)

Linked up with Dude Write.

Anger Management


ANGER MANAGEMENT When you occasionally have a really bad day, and you just need to take it out on someone, don’t take it out on someone you know, take it out on someone you don’t know.

It all started one day when I was sitting at my desk and remembered a phone call I had forgotten to make. I found the number and dialed it.

A man answered, saying, “Hello.” I politely said, “This is Chris. May I please speak with Robin Carter?”

Suddenly, the phone was slammed down on me. I couldn’t believe that anyone could be so rude.

I tracked down Robin’s correct number and called her. I had transposed the last two digits of her phone number. After hanging up with her, I decided to call the ‘wrong’ number again.

When the same guy answered the phone, I yelled, “You’re an asshole!” and hung up. I wrote his number down with the word ‘asshole’ next to it, and put it in my desk drawer.

Every couple of weeks, when I was paying bills or had a really bad day, I’d call him up and yell, “You’re an asshole!” It always cheered me up.

When Caller ID came to our area, I thought my therapeutic ‘asshole’ calling would have to stop. So, I called his number and said: “Hi, this is John Smith from the Telephone Company. I’m just calling to see if you’re interested in the Caller ID program?” He yelled “NO!” and slammed the phone down.

I quickly called him back and said, “That’s because you’re an asshole!”

One day I was at the store, getting ready to pull into a parking spot. Some guy in a black BMW cut me off and pulled into the spot I had patiently waited for. I hit the horn and yelled that I had been waiting for the spot. The idiot ignored me. I noticed a “For Sale” sign in his car window, so I wrote down his number.

A couple of days later, right after calling the first asshole (I had his number on speed dial), I thought I had better call the BMW asshole, too.

I said, “Is this the man with the black BMW for sale?”
“Yes, it is.” “Can you tell me where I can see it?”
“Yes, I live at 1802 West 34th Street. It’s a yellow house, and the car’s parked right out in front.”
“What’s your name?” “My name is Don Burgemeyer,” he said.

“When’s a good time to catch you, Don?”

“I’m home every evening after five.”

“Listen, Don, can I tell you something?”

“Yes?” “Don, you’re an asshole.”

Then I hung up, and added his number to my speed dial, too.

Now, when I had a problem, I had two assholes to call. But after several months of calling them, it wasn’t as enjoyable as it used to be.

So, I came up with an idea. I called Asshole #1.

“You’re an asshole!” (But I didn’t hang up.)

“Are you still there?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said.

“Stop calling me,” he screamed.

“Make me,” I screamed back.

“Who are you?” he demanded.

“My name is Don Burgemeyer.”

“Yeah? Where do you live?”

“I live at 1802 West 34th Street, ASSHOLE!

It’s a yellow house, with my black beemer parked in front.”

He said, “I’m coming over there right now, Don. And you had better start saying your prayers.”

I said, “Yeah, like I’m really scared, asshole.”

Then I called Asshole #2.

“Hello?” he said. “Hello, asshole,” I said…again, without hanging up.

He yelled, “If I ever find out who you are!”

“Yeah, you’ll what?” I said. “I’ll kick your ass,” he exclaimed.

I answered, Well, asshole, here’s your chance. I’m coming over right now.”

Then I hung up and immediately called the police, saying that I lived at 1802 West 34th Street, and that I was on my way home to kill my gay lover.

Then I called Channel 9 News to let them know about the war going down on West 34th Street.

I quickly got into my car and headed over to 34th street.

There I saw two assholes beating the crap out of each other in front of six squad cars, a police helicopter, and a news crew.

NOW, I feel better.

Anger management really works!!!

Cocktail Party

I don’t particularly enjoy flying.  It is a combination of things that bother me. My knees hit the the seat in front of me, my shoulders hang off of the edge and I don’t enjoy having people sit on top of me. If there was ever a doubt that I have become old and cranky that should dispel it.  Thanks to the broken lock episode from the night before I ended up getting far less sleep than I had intended to. Under ordinary circumstances I would have grabbed a big cup of coffee but the last thing I need to do is get myself amped up on a flight.

It is not unlike crossing the streams- it would be bad. So I opted to wait on the cup of Joe until I reached the Emerald City which I might add is mighty gray today. Besides I can sleep anywhere so I figured that I would catch a few winks on the flight and I did, but not enough. I think that the past is catching up to me and that the lack of sleep is only going to get worse so changes need to be made. The hard part is trying to determine what to cut out or see if I can finally develop that 32 hour day I have been talking about inventing.

Meanwhile I have to get ready for a cocktail party. It is going to be here at the hotel as part the Nintendo program (hashtag #nintendoenthused). Moments like now are among the many reasons why I am happy to be male. I am not agonizing over what to wear or whether my hair is perfect. To be clear I am not saying that all of the ladies will be either, but there is a better chance of that happening than of me getting pissed off ‘cuz some guy is wearing the same shirt.

Circling back to the topic of being tired as I sit here typing it has become quite apparent that I am, tired. It feels good to sit here, barefoot and clad in t-shirt and shorts. I could easily lie down on the bed, throw on some music and sleep for a long while. But I am not going to do that because I came here for a reason and the purpose won’t be served if I miss the moment.

And that is just not going to happen. There have been too many moments that I have missed and I promised myself long ago to continue to make the effort not to miss those moments. Not to mention that I have had multiple conversations with the kids about not missing the moment. I don’t believe in trying to fit everything in because you can’t do that and appreciate them all. But I do believe in going after the moments that resonate the most with you with a ferocity that borders on crazy. Suck the damn marrow out of life and live.

Never Bet Against A Sicilian When Death Is On The Line

jjj locksmith

The connection between The Princess Bride and this post won’t be obvious to most of you, even those who know me. Bear with me and I’ll do my best to explain the connection.  The Traveling Jack show is about to hit the road again. This time I am traveling without groupies, minions and fans. The upside to that is that I’ll enjoy a calmer trip than I would have. The downside is that I have to carry my own luggage. That is ok, I am a big boy and happy to do it, but first I have to pack.

You might wonder why I waited until almost 11:30 the night before to start cramming clothes into a bag.  You might also wonder why I would cram things into a bag knowing full well that I am meeting a bunch of people for the first time. Perhaps it is because I am starting a trend that says that wrinkled clothing is cool.  While I have been known to march to the beat of my own drummer this isn’t one of those moments and not because I lack rhythm. It is because cramming is just an expression as is the word I used when I found myself locked out of my house at 10 PM.

It wasn’t among those 7 words you can’t say on television. George Carlin can rest in peace knowing that I am not trying to steal his material. Instead I used “inconceivable” to express my feelings about the door. I put my key in said door and unlocked it only to discover that it wouldn’t open. When the knob turned but didn’t open I did what we all do. I pulled the key out of the lock and stared at it. Or maybe it is more appropriate to say that I glared. Played 90 minutes of basketball and was desperate for a shower only to be locked out.

Had that key been one of my children they would known instantly that dad was unhappy, but the damn key is an inanimate object that doesn’t give a damn what I think or feel. Eventually I decided to enter through the side door and immediately my way over to its brother-in-arms. Imagine my surprise when I found it unlocked yet still unwilling to do its job. I must admit that I tried a few more tricks. I said “Open Sesame,” “abracadabra,” “Hocus Pocus” and the very powerful but ineffective “open the fuck up.”  And as you can imagine I was ignored. It is probably a good thing because when the door starts talking back it is time to make sure that you are taking the appropriate meds and or be seen by a nice doctor.

Since Old Jack is a stubborn curmudgeon I was unwilling to accept its desire to go on strike. So I took out the tool set and prepared to do battle with it. Our first salvo was semi-effective. We filled that sucker full of WD-40. That stuff is magical and has helped me on a million different projects, but this time it didn’t quite get the job done. For a moment I mulled over making a trip to Home Depot to buy a new lockset. I am relatively handy and have replaced locks before, but this time I choose not to. I didn’t want it to turn into a two hour or more project. I am tired and impatient. I just didn’t have it in me to worry about complications that may or may not happen.

So I called a locksmith and spent a $65 bucks to make sure that the front door works again. It was well worth it. Even though I would have preferred to use that money in a different way it had to be done. Can’t have a front door that doesn’t work and I couldn’t get on a plane for Seattle knowing that there was a problem with it. It is a safety issue.

The whole thing was so absurd that I couldn’t help but think of The Princess Bride. And now though it seems “inconceivable” I am going to go pack.

Dad’s Life


My daughter and I are in the car. She has asked me to tell her about what life was like before mommy. She wanted to know if I was a grown up for a long time before I got married and what I did for fun. So I told her a little bit about my old apartment and how my friends and I used to play together and shared a few innocuous stories. Later on that night when all was quiet and I was left alone with the dog and my thoughts I sat and remembered what had once been.

It is April 1995 and I have been back from Israel for a very short time. My intention is to finish out my contract, pack up my bags and move. I can’t stop thinking about Jerusalem. I can’t stop thinking about ancient streets interspersed among modern conveniences. I can’t stop thinking about sights, sounds and smells that are very different from home. And though I think of Los Angeles as home I see Jerusalem in similar terms.

I can’t walk the streets without running into people I know. Late at night I share a pitcher of beer with friends and we talk about the future. I am a Peace Corps baby. My parents met in South America. It wouldn’t be unheard of for me to pick up and move. I think about all that is involved and wonder if making Aliyah is the thing to do. I stare at soldiers and remember how when I was 16 they all looked so old and now at 25 they look so young. I picture myself in uniform. I am still young enough to serve and am willing to do it. It is a good thing.

The relationships you make in the army make a difference in your life. Shared experiences help to minimize some of the distinctions between being a native and an immigrant. I sit in a pub in Jerusalem with a group of Anglos. The South African guy and the girl from Scotland give me a hard time because I wear my baseball cap backwards. They try to tease me about my accent in Hebrew and I tell them that when they learn how to speak English they can talk. A vigorous debate erupts about what is going to happen.

Rabin and Arafat are still talking, maybe peace is possible. Or maybe not. Not far away are bullet holes left from a terrorist attack. We don’t know it, but Rabin will be assasinated, the second intifada will break out and for a while there will be a ton of terrorist attacks. But that is all in the future and the night is young. Someone asks me if I know their cousin in San Francisco. They don’t realize that San Francisco is 400 or so miles away from Los Angeles.

My apartment is dark. I don’t have cable or satellite television. There is no DVD player here. That is new technology and I can’t afford to think about spending $500 or more for a player. I have a VCR and lots of movies on tape. I live on the second floor in Apartment 19. It is a one bedroom that some people might consider a bit of a dump, but I like it. It is big and I can afford to live there on my own. The neighbors in 20 and 21 are a bit crazy but fun. The guys in 20 have three pitbulls that are exceptionally friendly. They bark like crazy whenever people walk the stairs and you can’t quite tell where they are. Lots of people think that they are in my place.

That uncertainty leads me to not always lock my door. I figure that anyone with common sense will avoid “breaking” into my place.

I am sitting on the couch listening to one of my Ray Charles CDs. I am drinking Scotch and trying to imagine what life will be like. It is hard to be home. It is hard to be in LA when I feel like I need to explore. It is hard to be in LA when I feel like I need to figure out what Jerusalem is. I can’t say for certain that it could be home without living there for an extended period. I get lost in thoughts of what could be and feel less connected at both home and work.

“Look daddy, that is where you used to live.”  She is only partially right. We are passing by where I used to live but the building is gone. Torn down to make way for something else the ground is devoid of evidence that once I lived there.  Can’t say that I am surprised by this. It is not an archeological dig and even if it was they wouldn’t find anything that identified me. When I moved out I took the few possessions that I owned with me.

I don’t tell her that I regret not having done it. Can’t tell her that. I celebrate being a father daily. My children bring me joy, but I am honest with myself.  I have very few regrets in life but those that I do have are big. This is one. This is an itch that has never been scratched. Maybe one day I’ll do it. Maybe one day I’ll have the opportunity and we’ll see what happens. I don’t want to dream my life away. I want to live my dreams.

What is done is done and I can’t change that. I am good about being present in the moment, whatever moment that is. But sometimes I get lost wondering about the road not taken and what might have been.