This Tinyletter is dedicated to the vanity license plates …
- THE HERO
- SWIM MO
- THE MAUI
- O TIGGER
- 7 ZIGGY
- SYLV D
- THE DONK
I could go on and on. These are just the ones in my most current notebook –– never mind other notebooks, and what I have on my phone. I am fascinated by this. Craziness. Oh, it’s just a bit of fun, one might say. Yes, and so is wearing a tiger mask all day. Tremendous fun, until you walk into a bank.
I have a dream. In this dream I am on a long road trip, but I have to stop and buy a suit from an English tailor. Actually, I buy two suits, because I seem to buy one and then return to buy a second suit one week later. But the second suit is not ready. In fact, it has to be made from scratch, and while it’s being made I live with the tailor and his (now) Indian family. They are very accommodating and polite until I break something, which seems to happen a lot, and then they erupt into Bollywood levels of volcanic anger. There is dancing. I shrug and go back to my room. I have this dream on a Saturday morning and for once I get to sleep in but then there is light behind the shade and it’s time to get up. End dream.
My department has a Christmas luncheon. This is a nice surprise because I hadn’t paid any attention to the emails and now for once my coworkers will be out of the office over lunch (they never go anywhere during lunch, in fact they never get out of their chairs, which can be extremely depressing). On the way out the door, one of my coworkers comments that she wishes I was going. “Have a great day!” I say. While they are gone I play music and podcasts and chess and make the printer do things that it will never remember but always regret. No one comes back from the luncheon. I leave early.
The last department luncheon I attended, I sat at a crowded table where everyone spoke French. I do not speak French. They knew I do not speak French. Very good reasons for not attending luncheons (and anything non-compulsory) had been compiling for awhile but this was the moment where I said to myself, This will be my last luncheon.
One of the senior managers we enjoyed for about five minutes (we’ve enjoyed a couple dozen, all for about five minutes or so), and who had a farewell luncheon when he left (they always have luncheons, despite changing titles like shirts), stopped me in the hall and asked me how I was feeling, in reference to the day I called (well, emailed) in sick, the very date of his going-away luncheon. “Oh, I’m fine,” I laughed, moving past him. “Have a great day!”
There is a vast power in not doing things. I am part of a generation that loves to say no. We were the first generation to start getting collectively screwed by the boomers, who now suck up all the resources and savings and essentially run government for themselves, and are largely incompetent (see: current world), but we were less affected than all successive generations, while at the same time being the last generation to be raised by wolves, which means parents who instead of explaining anything just yelled a lot and told us to get the hell out of the house (to be fair, they had it worse). This combination gives us a very specific outlook on life, which I would sum up as I am completely on my own here. This does not make us amenable to being told what to do. We are not team players. We will not come on in for the big win. The big win is empty and senseless and probably a lie. We’ll take our little wins, and any other corners we can cut along the way.
Anyway, my coworker’s comment was not about me. We are not friends. She exists in a place that I go to in order to help pay my mortgage. We sometimes exchange tepid observations on the weather or the most obvious political issues, and I never argue about anything because she will always be contrary (“I happen to like hurricanes! They look so beautiful from space!”). So her comment was really about my non-participation. She should let this go. I can’t close my eyes and even imagine commenting in any meaningful way about her social choices. If she told me that she spent her entire Christmas holidays playing SimCity, eating cat food, and drinking gallons of Mountain Dew, my reaction would be, “Oh, Mountain Dew.”
I go to mail a small packet to the United States. I call it a small packet because that’s what the system will price it as. I have a printed QR code (a type of bar code) generated by the online customs form (they really don’t like it if you come in without this code). The clerk at the Shoppers postal outlet measures and weighs my mail and tells me that it is a small packet. I hand her the paper with the QR code. She taps away at her computer screen and frowns. “The system is telling me that this is a bar code for something bigger than a small packet,” she says.
I look at her. I tilt my head. Is this some kind of riddle? “This bar code is generated from the online customs form that I filled out,” I say. “It’s a unique code for this parcel. It is not for some other imagined parcel.”
“The computer is telling me it’s not for this parcel,” she says. “The computer is saying that it’s for a larger parcel. But if you want to fill out the paperwork, then we can still send it as a small packet.”
“I’m not filling out any paperwork.” I say, retrieving my small packet and beginning to walk away. “Thank you anyway, I’ll figure this out.”
She is completely bum-puzzled. “I just don’t want you to pay more than you have to,” she says. “The computer…”
“Thank you!” I say. “Have a great day!”
I walk a block over to the main post office. It’s empty. They take my mail and my form with the QR code and it goes through as a small packet.
Jesus Christ it’s Christmas in two weeks. I knew there was some reason for this rash. At least as we drive around town, glowing with the satisfaction of our vanity license plates, the lights will look nice.
Have a good holidays (Holidays?), everyone,