...a potent blend of Miss Manners and Batman

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Of Pookiedoodles and Men

One summer at sleep-away camp, an incident occurred which galvanized everyone under 16 against one 14-year-old kid. It wasn't anything that he'd said or done. He didn't drop the last out in the big game, he didn't give everyone lice. The big crime, in fact, was committed by his mother. She wrote him a letter and began it with the salutation: "Dear Pookiedoodle."

This boy had not been especially liked in the first place, which is how his private letter had become public in the second place. Some mean kids in his bunk had stolen his letter and read it during rest hour one day. They taunted him about it, and pretty soon the word was out. The boy did not return to camp the following year; I'm amazed he made it past visiting day.

I hadn't assumed my alter ego yet, so the only thing I could do was snicker to myself whenever he passed by. I'd like to think that I didn't shout a few "Pookiedoodle"s of my own, but in all likelihood I did.

This did teach me some important lessons, however: Never behave towards your children in a way that could scar them for life, and always assume that some bully is reading over your shoulder.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Not-So Smart Car Admirer

I have a new car: The tiny Smart Car from Mercedes. It's not even 9'-long, making it perfect for parking, and the mileage is an awesome 45 miles per gallon so far. It drives like a little sports car (hey, it was designed in part by racing legend Roger Penske)

I was pulling out of a larger-than-a-Smart spot in Manhattan this afternoon when a man pulled alongside me to ask about the car (I could tell he had a Q from his behavior). I motioned for him to move his car so that I could get out of the spot, but he made the 'please roll down your window' move with his hands. I quickly rolled down the passenger-side window, and he asked, "What kind of mileage does that get?" I explained, "It doesn't get any miles-per-gallon when some freakin' idiot boxes me into a parking spot just to ask me a question he could easily look up on his own!"*

I couldn't believe this idiot thought he had a right to slow me down - and block me in! - just to ask me about the car.

* Sorry, but that's what I immediately WISH I'd said. In actual fact, I replied: "It gets about 45 mpg. Could you move your car, please? I'm in a rush." I've become too nice since moving out of The City.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Identity Divulged

Driving from my favorite pizza place (Koronet, on 111th and B'way in Manhattan, featuring 14" slices for $3), I found myself on 113th St, heading for Riverside Drive. My unicycle club was meeting today, and I was heading there with my kids, a dozen unicycles, and some humungous pizza. Then trouble loomed in the shape of a car, and it was wearing Jersey plates.

The driver of the cream-colored SUV was waiting for a parking spot. She failed, however, to consider that I was waiting behind her or that she hadn't left room for anyone to pass her. Manhattan streets are almost unfailingly wide enough to allow passage even to a moving van, but this inconsiderate woman ignored my plaintive toots. Then she ignored the brief honks. Next she proceeded to ignore a few lengthy blasts. She did not, however, ignore my knuckles loudly rapping on her window a few seconds later.

Thru that glass, which she refused to lower, she tried to ask what was wrong. I shouted: "Move your car so I can pass!" She went back to her cell phone. I then got back into my car and moved it up to hers so that she was unable to back into the spot she had been waiting for. I rapped on her window again and waited for her to lower the glass an inch. New Jersey then asked,

"What's wrong with you?"

VoSMan: There is nothing wrong with ME. You're the one who wouldn't move your car to let me pass.

NJ: Who are you?

VosMan: I'm Voice of Society Man, and I'm speaking on behalf of everyone who has to wait behind an insensitive person like you! I'm here to teach you a lesson so that you won't do it again!

Then I moved the car to let her finish her parking, and we drove on to our destination. I had chilled her blood, but the pizza was still warm. We enjoyed every bite.

New Jersey, now chastened, can try to get on with her life. Perhaps she will find a way to atone. Volunteering as a traffic cop comes to mind.

Monday, February 4, 2008

R3plica V1agara P3nis 3nlargments

As I've already noted, I HATE T*MOBILE. But I forgot to mention their lousy spam filters.

Unlike Google's gmail, T*Mobile essentially has no spam filter. On my gmail account, I basically do NOT have spam. And if something unwanted somehow pierces their shield, one click of the mouse, and I will never receive crap from that source again. T*Mobile's website is terribly clunky, and their pathetic spam filter page doesn't even work anymore.

Everyday, I wake up to find my phone clogged with about a dozen spam messages. It's bad enough that they think that people are interested in fake watches or cheap stocks, reduced debt or enlarged penises. But do they really think we'd be ineterested just because they spell their words incorrectly? Ooh, I'm not really partial to real watches, and I only kinda like replica watches, but 'r3plica' watches? Sign me up! And let me order some medications online, too! I'll take some C1allis, V1codin, and maybe some more V1agra. Here's an idea, T*Mobile: If a message contains a word spelled with numbers, I don't fuck1ng care! 4uck y0u, T*Mobil3!!!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

I Hate T*Mobile!

When we put our eldest on our cell phone plan last summer, we extended our contract with T*Mobile another two years from that day. Then we discovered that we hate T*Mobile!

In Manhattan and Brooklyn, it really doesn't matter what carrier you use because they all have brilliant reception. My cell phone even works in the elevator of my mom's building. But around New Paltz, my wife and I noticed that our cell phones cut out in various spots. This is especially true in the outlying areas like Gardiner and Rosendale, where there aren't any local cell phone towers, but more annoying is that my phone loses contact when I'm driving to and from Manhattan on my way to The City. This is especially troublesome because I often lose contact with my students' parents I'm speaking with, so I tend to have difficulty conducting my work. When I took the bus to Manhattan, this issue wasn't quite as irksome because people aren't really allowed to use their cell phones en route. But lately I've been driving, and the problem has become much more apparent.

I wouldn't mind this so much if it weren't for the fact that many other major carriers have better coverage. When I was up in the relatively obscure north western part of the state where the fire academy is located, all of the other would-be fire fighters had fine reception, but I was totally blacked out. In fact, I couldn't use my cell phone until I was miles away from Montour Falls. And the same is true for the highways to NYC. T*Mobile works fine for most of Interstate 87 (not all of it, mind you), but it fares poorly when I break from 87 and take some of the other roads that speed up my trip.

Verizon doesn't have this problem, and one of my friends showed me his cool new Verizon phone. It does everything my Sidekick III does -- AND it works where my stupid phone doesn't.

I called T*Mobile to see if I could get out of my contract, but I don't think it's going to work because they insist that if you have good reception at work and at home (but not necessarily in between), then you're stuck with them. Time ticks (almost) inexorably towards two summers from now -- just 18 months to go....

Sunday, January 6, 2008

What is There to Complain About?

I'm finding it hard to maintain this blog -- my life is pretty complaint-free, and I've learned to take a lot of things in stride that previously annoyed me, like the reckless driving of young turks on the highway. I guess that life in the country will do that to a curmudgeon. Here are some things I used to find annoying in Manhattan that simply go too easily in New Paltz. Let's start with the letter P.

Well, big-city parking hasn't got a lot to say in its favor. The furthest we've had to drive for a spot in the Noop is about a City block. In NYC, on the other hand, I can't even count the number of times I've parked over a mile from where I'm heading or have spent over a half-hour looking for a place.

Parking Tickets
We've gotten a grand total of one parking ticket in our 16 months in New Paltz. It was for an expired meter, and Shirra didn't pay it on time, so the fine doubled... to $20. The cheapest ticket in the 5 Boroughs, on the other hand, is about $55, but the one I got last year (for parking on the street-cleaning side at the wrong time one day) was for $110. I almost got a second one in New Paltz, but I arrived at the car just as the ticket-writer did, and he simply smiled, exchanged a few words, and walked away. In NYC, that sort of behavior is extinct in most locales, which explains why meter-readers in Manhattan want guns and bullet-proof vests.

How many NYC folks dread ever having to set foot in a post office? Part of the success of FedEx and UPS is probably the simple fact that they are NOT the post office. In New Paltz, there are only three postal workers you're likely to see, and all of them are pleasant, knowledgeable, and efficient (you're lucky to bat one-for-three in The Big Apple).

How often does it happen that a person has to pee but can't get to a toilet in New York City? Sure, they're plentiful if you know where to look (Barnes & Noble, McDonald's), but first you have to park. Of course, most Manhattanites don't have cars in the first place, so they just have to walk two blocks to the nearest Starbucks, but then those bathrooms are likely to be either occupied or occupied and disgusting (those are apparently the only two options). In New Paltz, on the other hand, it doesn't take long to learn best places to pee (Starbucks is one of them), but they're rarely occupied when you get there, and they're all much cleaner. My favorite ones can be found at the Stop and Shop, the Library, and best of all, Water Street Market.

What's a complainer to do? It's easy to be a kvetcher among the tall buildings of the city, but it's not so easy to be a kvetcher in the rye.

About Me

My pesky alter ego who will set you right if you break one of the unwritten rules of getting along