Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#062 In which our hero is given an offer he can refuse.

I recently had lunch with my boss. Not really my boss, but rather the president of the company. I wouldn't have lunch with my direct boss, of course, because he's a sniveling asshat that I wouldn't trust further than I could defenestrate* him.

Anyway, this came about because of an off-hand comment the president made several weeks ago. We were in a meeting and he was surprised by something I said, and I said that if he was surprised, then he didn't know me very well.

And this is true. But not just for the president, of course, I don't really socialize with anyone I work with. Anyway, a little background to help you understand my motivation:
  1. I've been passed over for a raise twice in the 14 months I've worked here. And not because of job performance, but because of the cash-flow situation in the agency, which is poor. I've written about that before, but it hasn't improved any. Needless to say, when I'm told "I'd like to give you a raise but because of the poor business decisions that we've made, I can't" it pisses me off. The thing is, I could get a raise if the powers that be really wanted to make it happen. The money would have to come from some other source, but that's not my concern.
  2. I have no job security. It true that I'm the only writer on staff and you might think that guarantees my position, but it doesn't. I could be axed tomorrow and replaced with a freelancer. Or fired and asked to freelance, so they didn't have to pay me benefits. But, since my job performance is solid, me getting fired would be a business decision. And ultimately, that decision would come from the president. And it's harder to fire people you like.
  3. Also, the president is an interesting guy. Not interesting as in inspiring or motivational (and he is those things, too, to a very small degree) but interesting as in "how the hell has this guy run a successful business for 20 years?" He's a cartoon, a dead-on racial stereotype... if he was a character in a movie, I'd dismiss the writer as being too lazy to create a more realistic portrayal.
  4. And finally, free lunch.
Now, this may seem like a total suck-ass move, and I guess it is, and part of me is ashamed for suggesting that we "do lunch" to get to know each other a bit better. But, there are concrete reasons, and like I said, free lunch.

We head out to some Italian joint. Now, here's the thing: the guy has been wheeling and dealing for decades in Cleveland, and he knows everyone. He's a bit of a big shot in the advertising community, I guess. So of course he knows everyone that's waiting in line to be seated, and he introduces me around, blah, blah, blah. This is the perfect moment to "network," but I'm really shitty at it. I just have a hard time acting interested in someone in the hopes that it'll pay off at a later date.

Finally we sit, order, and eat. We're making small talk ("Where'd you go to school?" "Tell me something interesting about yourself," etc., etc.). He mentions that he wanted to eat early, because he has a dentist appointment later in the afternoon. This prompts me to say that I also need to get to the dentist, because I suspect that I need a root canal and I've been putting it off. He asks me who my dentist is, and that's when it all gets a little strange.

See, I'm under The Scientist's healthy insurance. She signed up for a dental plan, but we haven't received our cards yet. Since this damn tooth has been getting progressively worse, I've been bugging her to call her HR department and find out what dentist we can go to. Turns out that under this particular HMO, you can't choose your own dentist, one has to be assigned to you. I'm not crazy about this idea, and assume that our assigned dentist is going to be some cut-rate chop shop.

I explain all of this to the president, and he wrinkles his nose. "Eh, you should go to my guy, he's the best. His father is also a dentist. Him I wouldn't sent you to, but his son is the best. I'll set up an appointment for you since I'm seeing him this afternoon."

Now, I don't know if this is friendly "we're-having-lunch-and-we're-buddies-now" BS or if he really intends to do something, but I let it go and say something like "sure, that would be great" and don't give it a second thought.

Then, later in the afternoon when I'm back at work, he calls me from the road. "Craig, you have an exam next Wednesday at 4:30." I'm truly confused by this, thinking that he wants me to take some sort of test. Then I remember our conversation at lunch. "And if you need a root canal you have an appointment for that the following Tuesday."

This is all strange territory for me. The president is obviously one of those people that knows people and can "make things happen," but I've never ran in circles like that. Matter of fact, I had already called our assigned dentist and set up the earliest appointment I could get, which was a month out. And here he's booked an appointment for me in less than a week. And he tells me that he'll talk to the dentist, and get him to accept my insurance. Which seems unlikely, since this dentist is out of network, and my wife's HR manager is telling her that the insurance won't pay for him, not a cent.

But, I end up going to see this guy anyway. The first visit is just a consultation to see if I need a root canal or not. I called to confirm that insurance will pay for this visit, and was told yes - so why not?

The dentist is a quiet little guy who is fighting a fierce battle against baldness - and losing quite badly. To make matters worse, he's gelled the little remaining hair he has on top, making it look not unlike he's glued a well-used brillo pad to his head. But he has nice teeth, and that's really the point, isn't it?

He X-rays my tooth, pokes around in my mouth and confirms that a root canal is the best course of action. It's $750 for the procedure (this is before I knew that insurance wouldn't pay). He assures me that it's not as horrible as people think it is, but he also explains how they drill down into the top of the tooth and scrap out the pulp with little files - so I'll be the judge of how terrible it is.

And this guy bends over backwards to help me. He can't do it right then and there, since it's the end of the day, but he gives me his card and his home number, in case I need it. I can only assume this level of service comes from him knowing my boss.

And what, exactly, would I call this guy at home for? What could he possibly do for me?
ME: Hi, this is Craig, I saw you earlier today?
HIM: It's 3AM.
ME: Yeah, well, this tooth is really killing me. Can you help me?
HIM: Holy shit! I'll be right over!
But he does offer to prescribe me narcotics to deal with the pain, which seems waaay over the top to me. Narcotics? My tooth is a little painful, but it's not like I'm rolling around on the floor in agony. But don't think it didn't cross my mind that having a bottle full of narcotics in the medicine cabinet would be a good thing. Y'know, just in case.

Anyway, the following day I see the president and tell him about my visit and how I need a root canal. He asks if I'm going to go ahead and do it next week then, and I say we're still screwing around with insurance (again, this is before I knew that the HMO wouldn't pay). The president assures me that if there's a gap in coverage, he'll get the dentist to cover it. Which sounds to me like he's going to call in a favor or otherwise lean on this guy to eat the cost. I can't imagine he'd get him to eat the entire $750 bucks, and frankly, I don't want to put this poor dentist in that position. Maybe this is SOP for the president, but it makes me wholly uncomfortable.

My current plan is to wait for the HMO-approved dentist visit and get it done then. I can gut it out until next month.

But maybe I'll still call that dentist and take him up on the narcotics.

* De-fen-es-tra-tion
Pronunciation: dE-"fe-n&-'strA-sh&n
: a throwing of a person or thing out of a window

What a great word, huh? It's one of the Top 10 Words of 2004, as compiled by Merriam-Webster. Which is strange, though, if you look at the rest of the list. Blog? Sure, I can understand that. Incumbent, electoral, insurgent? Yeah, I've seen all of those words in the news over the past year. But Defenestration? Was there a rash of people being thrown out windows that I somehow missed?


#061 In which our hero ponders names.

I assume that everyone that reads this page knows me personally, and already knows this, but on the off chance that you accidentally stumbled in here during your search for goat porn, I have big news: The Scientist and I are expecting our second child. And, just this week, we found out that it's going to be a girl.

This is a dilemma, of course, since we had a girl name and a boy name picked out, and it took us forever to decide on names we could both agree on. Now we have to run through the exercise again; a daunting prospect. Especially considering that we're both hard-headed people with a long litany of names that are offensive due to past girl/boyfriends, people we've worked with, etc.

In order to get a jump on things (we only have five months left!), I've gone to my #1 Internet resource, Today's suggested name list is "Female Boston Marathon Winners." I've included the year they won, and the reason I've rejected them:
Allison (Roe, 1981)
I worked with an Allison years ago. She briefly dated a friend of mine (who I also worked with) and he once told me an odd handjob story that involved him, Allison and her roommate. I can't in good faith give my child a name that invokes a handjob story.

Charlotte (Teske, 1982)
Makes me think of two Charlottes: Charlotte Rae, the lovable Mrs. Edna Garrett from "Facts of Life," and another, much less agreeable Charlotte who is a local horse trainer that I once got into a heated argument with. The two sort of merge in my mind, resulting in a rotund smiling woman in breeches that I want to punch in the face. Next.

Gayle (Barron, 1978)
My first reaction to this name is completely neutral; I haven't known any Gayle's, I don't think. But as I look at it longer I think of "gale," as in blowing wind, and my mind wonders down the "blowing" and "getting blown" path, and it just doesn't lead anywhere good.

Ingrid (Kristiansen, 1986)
Invokes Ingrid Bergman (sexy Swedish actress, so far so good) but when hearing this name, I inevitably confuse it with Ingmar Bergman (not so sexy but very talented male director, also Swedish) and do you really want a lifetime of gender confusion with your daughter's name? Of course you do not.

Jacqueline (Gareau, 1980)
I knew a Jacqueline in high school, and, of course, she was called Jackie. Beside being a horrible nickname, it brings to mind that horrible screeching actress Jackee (ja'KAY) and we just can't have that.

Jacqueline (Hansen,1973)
Pfft! Again? See above.

Joan (Benoit, 1979)
Just about as non-offensive as they come. I have an aunt Joan, whom I like. Also makes me think of Joan of Arc which is cool (the leading armies part, not so much the being burned alive at the stake part). But in the end, it's just sorta blah, y'know?

Kim (Merritt, 1976)
Knew a Kim in high school who was a very nice girl. At the 10 year reunion she had become monstrously fat. Plus, you occasionally come across Kim as a boy's name, so no thank you, sir.

Liane (Winter, 1975)
Is this name pronounced "lane" or "Lie-aine?" Apparently it's a spelling of "Leanne." That's just stupid.

Lisa (Larsen-Weidenbach, 1985)
The first Lisa that jumps to mind is a Lisa I knew in high school. We even dated for about three days. Later on in college, due to an odd chain of events I would come to "know" Lisa, if you know what I mean, one drunken night. So The Scientist would put the kibosh on that one, I suspect.

Lorraine (Moller, 1984)
Lorraine? As in quiche? Next.

Miki (Gorman, 1974, 1977)
Just another spelling of Mickey, a horrible, horrible girl's name. Plus, when I was 15 I worked in a restaurant in which Mickey was the older, trying-way-too-hard-to-still-look-sexy bartender. Plus, she never once offered to sneak me a drink.

XXXX (Kuscsik, 1972)
Kind of a cool name, but unfortunately, also XXX XXXX XX XXX XXXXXXXXXXX XXXX. Who XXXXX XXXXXXXX. Moving on.

Olga (Markova, 1992-93)
I'm sure my daughter will have plenty of reasons to hate me growing up, I don't need to saddle her with Olga and start that hating early.

Rosa (Mota, 1987-88, 1990)
The Scientist likes "Rose" very much, and this name is just a stone's throw from that. But I'll remind you that daughter #1 is named Lily, so we've put a ban on any further flower names. Besides, if we didn't, I'd totally be pushing for Daisy.

Uta (Pippig, 1994)
See "Olga," above.

Wanda (Panfil, 1991)
As in "A Fish Called..." I'm sure she'd rapidly get sick of her father saying "I love you, W-w-w-w-w-wanda," then laughing hysterically.
It appears the search must continue.


#060 In which our hero moves.


The move sucked, but in hindsight, not as much as it could have. The suckage level was quite high during the move, of course.

You'll remember from the previous post that we finally got the keys on Friday, a short amount of time before I needed to leave to drive The Scientist and baby to the airport. Considering the trouble that we had in securing said keys, I figured I had better call and check on the moving truck, since that was a critical element in the next day's moving plans.

Naturally, there was a problem. Understand that I reserved this truck (a whopping 26' of portable space) a week in advance, with my credit card, and I was assured that it would be ready and waiting for me when I needed it, early Saturday morning. The guy I spoke to at the rental place told me that he had my name and information recorded, but they didn't have a truck available. Of course, I remained calm and reasonable throughout the conversation. I think my exact words where, "Fuck me! This is the absolute best fucking capper to a fucking shitty week!" He told me he'd have to call me back, and I gave him my cell number since we where out the door to the airport. He never called.

Interlude: airport.

We got to the gate without any problems, and the ticket guy even issued me some sort of fake boarding pass so I could help the wife carry all the assorted crap to the gate. We got the little girl her own seat, thinking she'd be more comfortable that way, than squirming on mama's lap for five hours. However, this meant that we had to bring the car seat along. Now, car seats, as I learned, are meant to go into cars and stay there. Lugging that SOB through a crowded airport was no kind of fun.

But anyway, security was easy and we took turns chasing the little girl around for an hour before boarding began. It was really rather sad to watch my wife and daughter board without me, even if I was to join them in four days. I'm just a softie.

End of interlude.

Getting back from the airport there was a message on my answering machine from the truck rental place (y'know, I gave you my cell number for a reason, dumbass) saying that they transferred me to another location, and put in a reservation for a truck; this one a 28' diesel. The only problem was that they didn't open until 9am, and I told everyone to come over at 8am.

So the next day people came over and we ate donuts and drank juice until it was time to fetch the truck. And, oh what a truck it was.

I've been in big moving trucks before, but this was by far the biggest truck I've ever personally driven. It was diesel AND manual, which is okay since I'm driving a 5-speed right now anyway. The wheel was probably three foot across, and I'm not exaggerating. It was insane.

After a few tentative starts, I get the behemoth moving, and manage to drive all the way to the old house without running over any thing or any one. Thankfully my friend Dave have experience with big moving trucks (having moved, I think, 10 times in five years) and was able to back it into the drive; a feat that was well beyond my abilities.

Truck in place, helpers in tow, we packed the hell out of that truck. My hopes that we could get the entire house in one trip proved to be laughable, even with the superior roadie-like packing skills of my friend Bob. We unpacked at the new place and went in for round two.

The second load was dominated with things that are hard to arrange efficiently (like a lawnmower and computer desk). This meant that we would have to come back for a third load. Ugh.

The third and final load was that pesky, picking-up-the-odds-and-ends load that I hate so much. It also involved me throwing everything from the fridge (which I sorta forgot about) into a couple boxes.

Word of advice: when packing food, label it clearly FOOD or PERISHABLE or DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME, JACKASS because somehow one of these boxes got mixed in with the regular boxes (i.e., those not filled with frozen meat) and sat out until we returned from California. I'm sure there are worse things to come home to than the smell of rotting meat, but I don't know what they might be.

After the house was packed and locked up, the storage area remained. We had dumped a bunch of our stuff into a rented locker in order to make the house look bigger when we showed it. And when I say locker, I mean a 10x10' bunker filled to the roof with boxes.

It was dark by this time and everyone was wearing out. Matter of fact, out of the original eight, there were only four of us left. This was the point when my attitude changed from "Whee! We sure have a bunch of stuff." to "Mutherfucker! Why do we have so much shit?!" I was done and pulled the plug on the operation before we cleared out the storage area. I would end up doing the rest myself the following day.

Finally, much pizza and beer ensured. We where really lucky, because even though it was cold, it was clear and dry all day. Around 10pm, when the final load from being off-loaded from the storage area, it started to snow and didn't let up until a couple feet of snow where deposited all over Cleveland.

A final thanks to all those that helped and a thanks for nuthin' for those that said they'd show but didn't.

Ah, home sweet home.