Exercised Futility

April 5, 2006

I have the strangest life.

For starters, I have one bottle of shampoo that smells like pumpkin guts (close your eyes and it’s Halloween), one that smells like cotton candy, and, as I discovered tonight, conditioner that smells like honey. Like, the honeycomb itself honey.

“Good for you!” you’re saying. . . “you smell. . . erm. . . fruity!”

(Yeah, at least I match. I know.)

Point the First:  In Which an Innocent Mistake is Made

I was supposed to go to a hockey game Saturday night. My boss calls me Saturday morning, tells me he has KILLER tickets for that night’s game, and can’t go. Would I be interested in them?

Do we even need to wonder how fast I said, “Ha-ell Yas!”

So I’m now the proud recipient of four prime tickets to see the Thrashers in a must-win game against the Hurricanes. Yes, those Hurricanes. Sybil’s Hurricanes. (See Edallia‘s entries for true hilarity with Sybil).

I call my best friend. I call my best friend’s husband. I call my best friend’s “best-friend-from-high-school”’s husband. I call my parents. I call my grandparents. I call the kids who used to work for me across town. I call the rink rats I don’t even particularly like. NO ONE WANTS TO GO TO A HOCKEY GAME.

So I’m feeling pretty pathetic, right? But it’s all good—I’ve got $80 seats for a prime game, and it’ll only be my second NHL game ever. And my little brother will go with me—he doesn’t get a choice.

“Hey, Jonathan. You’re going to the Thrasher’s game with me after work.”

“Okay, but you’re driving.”

Fair enough.

So we travel ONE HOUR AND FORTY-FIVE MINUTES (Atlanta’s mass transit system is NOT renowned for speed, and we live about an hour north of the MARTA station as it is.) I’m in a snit because we’ve missed the first period, and I’m totally in all-out hockey mood by now.

We climb the escalators that scare me to death, cause they’re so high. We go through the security guards who find my phone suspiciously similar to an incendiary device. We go through the little guy with the barcode scanner.

“Bad ticket,” he grunts. Do I freak out? I do not. Clearly, there has been a misprint on the barcode. We have four to chose from, and I accept this delay graciously.

Then all the tickets are bad.


My boss had brought over the tickets for NEXT WEEKEND’S game against the Hurricanes. (We won’t mention how RIDICULOUS it is to schedule two games with THE SAME TEAM on CONSECUTIVE Saturday nights, with other cities in between. Because that is stupid enough to MAKE YOUR BRAIN EXPLODE.)

So Jonathan and I had no choice but to turn around, descend the nose-bleed escalators, and make our way back out to the suburbs. Tragedy, right?

But the story isn’t done yet!

Point the Second:  In Which Our Heroine Fights The System

I am notoriously anti-stuff in my hands. When I go clubbing, or on MARTA, I put my license and debit card and phone in my pocket, and deny my purse the opportunity to lose itself on the trip. This works well for me, as long as I take them OUT of my pocket before leaving the next day.

Because otherwise, I find myself on the way to work with no gas in the car. There is ONE gas station in the state that still takes checks. I stop there frequently. They always smile and tell me to have a nice day. We’re friends, buds, pals, amigos.

I go in armed with a charming smile, my student id, my checkbook, and determination

“I’m afraid that I’ve left my license and debit card at home. I am able to present picture identification, a local address, a local phone number that you can honest-to-God call to verify it’s working order, my social security number, my mother’s maiden name, three references, a copy of my resume, pocket lint from my cup holder, and some blue gauze hockey tape. Will this be sufficient for me to purchase $15 worth of gas so I can get home to get my license?”

“Ma’am,” the gentleman behind the counter replied with great patience, “you must show a valid driver’s license to write a check. That way, QuikTrip can find you, kick your cat, TP your house, and call you foul names if it bounces.”

“Aha!” I cried, pleased to be making headway. “You see, I am a kind, understanding customer. I realize that QuikTrip is heavily vested in my honor and integrity, and there’s isn’t much of that around these days. This is why I’m willing to give you a ludicrous amount of personal information to safeguard the veracity of my check for $15.

“Otherwise, my small, innocent female self will be left stranded on the side of the road,” I added, trying my best to look small and innocent. The female part wasn’t hard.

“Ma’am,” the gentleman replied, “you must show a valid driver’s license to write a check…”
“Sir,” I interrupted, becoming a little confused, since I believed we had already resolved that particular issue.

“Ma’am,” he continued over me, “if you would like to go home and get your license, I will be happy to accept your check.”

At this point, I realized that I was 0-for-2 in the “getting one’s way despite bureaucracy” department. I crossed my fingers and hoped that my uncle would be at the rink, and I could gank some money from him without humiliation. I theoretically had enough gas to get there. The gas light hadn’t been on THAT long.

Except he wasn’t at the rink. The only person at the rink was one of my fourteen-year-old rink rats, and I draw the line at borrowing money from people younger than me.

A solution presented itself. There was a bank between the rink and work. I was a little worried about the no-license thing, but I figured that worst case scenario, I would rob it. No drama there.

I successfully obtained $20 from a very nice teller lady who was completely content to look at my student id, and seemed very proud of my ability to tell her my birthdate and address without hesitation.

Point the Third:  Something About Counting Chickens

Triumphant, I returned to my car, reassuring it that I would break its fast within two miles. It’s a good car, it likes to vroom, and if it just vroomed me to the gas station, it would be a very, very happy car.

My car, like the gas station gentleman, declined to accept my reassurances without a valid drivers license, and refused to start.

I am now late for work and stranded in a bank parking lot—but at least my hair smells like pumpkin guts, right?

But wait! Signs of hope. Specifically, signs that say “Honda.”

My bank sits in the midst of three very large car lots. Surely, very large car lots come equipped with gas! Y’know, for the cars, right?

Batting my eyes in preparation, I tiptoed into the service bay, looking for someone who seemed willing to rescue a damsel in distress. (I have discovered that while my morals evaporate at $89/night, my feminist principles become precociously feminine at the first sign of car trouble. Realizing that I CAN walk over a mile to a gas station on my own, I find it vastly more practical to flatter a guy into doing it, if they volunteer.)

I found instead, Chad, Kurt, and Paul. They were very nice guys—clean and not at all creepy, and they didn’t seem to find me morally lacking for so disgraceful a situation as running out of gas.
Unfortunately, they had no gas.

Yeah, at a car lot.

They did, however, have A GAS CAN!

An empty one.

They also had, A HONDA COURTESY BUS!

A short one. (I gracefully ignored the obvious joke.)

So, at 11:30 in the morning, Kurt, Paul, the gas can, and I found ourselves driving down the road to my second QuikTrip of the day. (I ultimately visited three before noon.)

They were nice guys, and I can wholeheartedly recommend the service department at Honda Gwinnett Place. Well, as long as you don’t need to fill up.

Point the . . . um. . . Somethingth:  In Which We Break the Bands of Reality and Run Screaming Towards Insanity

For those who don’t know, Big O the Zamboni Repairman is the man who, ahem, repairs the Zamboni. Big O is a large man. He is a man who is proud of his Southern heritage. He can best be described as a (very) redneck Santa Clause, perpetually dressed in a teal polo that proclaims “Big O” on the pocket. I would assume that his mother calls him “Otis.” The rest of the world, including me, greets him as “BIIIGGGG OHHHHH!!!” He is a wonderful man, because he delivers us from The Valley of the Shadow of the Uncut Ice.

I recently procured Big O’s card for Edallia, so she could have it and pet it and know that somewhere in the planet was someone named “Big O the Zamboni Repairman.”

Let me preface this by saying that when I actually focus on what I’m doing, entire civilizations may rise and fall without my noticing.

It had been a trying day already. I had gone to work after the gas debacle, then I had to pick up a shift at the rink… and it only made sense to drown my sorrows by filling the vending machines. When I fill the vending machines, I release my OCD in all its symmetrical fury. The same colors can’t be near each other, chocolates can’t be on the same row as chewies, and God himself forbid if the chip flavors are mixed together. But I was out of candy, and I was trying to make the best of a bad situation to fill it until Friday.

I was. . . focused. . . when a voice OHMIGOD-COMPLETELY-IN-MY-EAR said, in a wicked Billy Bob Thornton Slingblade impression, “I think I Love you.” Or, more accurately, “Ah thank Ah LOAF ewe.”

I quickly considered my options. Either a) one of the kids was screwing with me (before I killed them for it) or b) one of the loonies had wandered in off the street and attached himself to me. With this rink, it was honestly a tossup.

But the voice in my ear was waiting for my reaction to his proclamation of love, and I was determined not to jump three feet off the ground and squeak like I’d been poked.

Staring very hard at the M&Ms, I didn’t stop filling them as I said, “Well, that’s always good to know.”

Hey, anytime you need a smooth line, folks. . . go to someone else. You’ll get no help from me.

‘Twas, of course, Big O, who had taken it upon himself to scare me. Which he succeeded at admirably.

I finished the day by learning to sharpen skates. Blades, sparks, and spinning grindstones.

Somehow, it seemed appropriate.



  1. How in all three holy hells did I manage two misplaced modifiers, an ill-patterned quotation, placing extraneous periods outsite parentheses, and misspelling Santa Claus?
    I MUST stop writing when I’m crazy and tired.
    Santa ClausE???? What next, silent 5’s?

  2. *sneaks in*
    I am laughing so hard… go you! I would lost my temper at obstacle one and we all know how very very bad it is for the world at large.

  3. Indeed. Of course, when you lose your temper, the police come and drag the malefactors to jail forthwith. ‘Tis an admirable trait.

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