JERK OF THE WEEK NO. 1: Watermelon Woman and Meatball Man
I've been shopping at Bottom Dollar Food every week. Despite my prior problems, I've put my differences with the store aside because it's conveniently right around the corner from me.
Several weeks ago, I carried the usual groceries - Cocoa Pebbles, Frosted Flakes, buffalo chicken strips, Oreos, orange juice - to the cash register. There were three lines open. One cashier was a fat black lady with bucked teeth. The second was a woman in her 40s sporting an afro and a mustache. The third was a chick anywhere between 18 and 21, who was somewhat cute.
I only have one rule: Game the hottest chick in the area no matter the situation. Thus, I got into the Somewhat Cute Cashier's line.
I've actually seen this girl at Bottom Dollar quite often. She has dark brown hair, brown eyes, freckles and mousy features, and she's sort of skinny. On a scale of 1-10, I'd probably give her a seven. I wouldn't say she's hot, but she was definitely more attractive than the other two cashiers (I'm not into women who have mustaches), so I tried to get into her line. Unfortunately, she told me to go elsewhere.
Somewhat Cute Cashier: Sir, my register is closed.
Bucked-Tooth Black Woman: I can take you.
I didn't actually yell, but I was very disappointed. What did she mean by "sir?" I'm not that old. I wondered - did she close her register at that moment because she knew I'd half-heartedly attempt to game her? I figured that was the case until I noticed what the issue was. There was a fat Russian woman in Somewhat Cute Cashier's line, and she was arguing about the price of a watermelon she was trying to purchase.
Watermelon Woman: No zis price iz not right!
Somewhat Cute Cashier: But the price is on the sticker.
Watermelon Woman: Someone tell me price iz cheaper!
Somewhat Cute Cashier: I don't know what to say.
Watermelon Woman: Please to give new price!
Somewhat Cute Cashier: I can't do that.
Watermelon Woman: But iz not suppose to be so expensives!
Somewhat Cute Cashier: I'm sorry, ma'am.
I don't know how this was resolved, but I felt sorry for Somewhat Cute Cashier - almost enough to forgive her for calling me "sir."
At any rate, I was back at Bottom Dollar Food the following week. I carried my Cocoa Pebbles, Frosted Flakes, buffalo chicken strips, Oreos and orange juice to Somewhat Cute Cashier's register again.
Fortunately, her register was open this time. There was only one guy in front of me - he was around 65. He was somewhat overweight and sported an impressive white beard. What was even more impressive was the amount of food he was unloading out of his shopping cart.
I'm not exaggerating when I say this - he had 16 boxes of Lean Cuisine Spaghetti and Meatballs. I actually counted them just to make sure. It was insane. Why the hell did he need so many microwavable spaghetti and meatball meals? I mean, I don't even know how to boil water or make real spaghetti, so I can understand buying a couple of boxes. But 16? What was he doing, preparing for the Apocalypse?
I figured this was a great opportunity to establish a dialogue with Somewhat Cute Cashier. I thought about what to say to her. I considered the simple, "Think he has enough spaghetti and meatballs?" to a more creative, "Is he preparing for the End of Days with all of those spaghetti and meatball meals?"
I was deep in thought when I suddenly heard someone trying to grab my attention.
Voice in the Distance: Sir... excuse me, sir...?
Oh no, not again. I looked up and saw that the other casher was motioning me over.
Other Cashier: My register's open. I can take you over here, sir.
I don't even know if I yelled that time or not, but yet another half-hearted attempt to game Somewhat Cute Cashier was ruined - all because that Meatball Man a**hole took years to unload all of those spaghetti and meatball boxes out of his shopping cart.
That settles it. I'm never eating spaghetti and meatballs ever again. Well, unless I'm hungry, which I always am. Come to think of it, I'm in the mood for spaghetti and meatballs. Mmm... spaghetti and meatballs, NOM NOM NOM NOM.
JERK OF THE WEEK NO. 2: Hurricane Irene
I've been to Bottom Dollar Food one time since I was screwed over by Meatball Man. It was the day before Hurricane Irene was supposed to hit. In the event of a power outage, I thought I should be able to at least make sandwiches for myself; after all, you can't make microwavable buffalo chicken strips if your microwave doesn't work.
I already had cheese and bologna in my fridge, so all I needed was bread. I also was in the mood for some apple juice, so I walked over to Bottom Dollar Food to purchase those items.
As you may imagine, Bottom Dollar Food was a madhouse. There must have been at least a couple hundred people in there buying stuff to prepare for the hurricane. In fact, some people gave me quizzical looks as I carried just bread and apple juice to the cash register.
Every single register was open, yet there were still huge lines. I espied Somewhat Cute Cashier at Register 4, but there were 10 people waiting. I then glanced over to Register 5, which conspicuously had two people in line. Was everyone trying to half-heartedly game Somewhat Cute Cashier?
I walked over to Register 5 and I quickly realized that I was wrong. I thought there were two people waiting there, but the line curved around to the other side. With all things being equal, I started walking back to Somewhat Cute Cashier's register when I heard a "sir... excuse me, sir..." Oh no.
I turned around, and this elderly woman with a Band-Aid on her jaw was waving me over. Was this a half-hearted attempt of hers to game me?
Lady: If that's all you're getting, you can cut in front of me.
Lady: Go ahead of me. You only have two things. They should have an express lane here anyway.
Me: Umm... OK... thanks.
The woman in front of her also let me cut ahead. So, I missed out on a chance to game Somewhat Cute Cashier, but I was able to get out of Bottom Dollar Food in a matter of minutes, whereas everyone else had to wait 20 minutes at the very least. I'd say that was a fair trade.
At any rate, Hurricane Irene struck the following day. Since my house was built a year and a half ago, I was pretty cocky that everything would be OK. The only thing that concerned me was a power outage, and only because I'd miss some preseason football games.
I went downstairs to make dinner after the Lions-Patriots game. I put some buffalo chicken strips in the microwave when it occurred to me that I should check my basement for precautionary reasons. To my chagrin, there was water trickling down the wall from my basement window. I grabbed a stepladder and climbed up to the window to see what was happening. Apparently, the window wasn't sealed tight enough, and there was water coming in from each side.
I quickly grabbed some towels and covered up each side. I then put on a jacket and my swim trunks, and went outside (I didn't want to get my regular clothes wet). The crevasse around my basement window was overflowing with water, so I went back inside, grabbed a huge plastic bowl, and started scooping out the water. I managed to get most of it out in a few minutes. Unfortunately, I checked back 15 minutes later, and all the water was back because it was raining so hard.
I needed something to seal the crevasse. After mulling it over, I went to my garage, disassembled a tool shelf and used one of the platforms as a cover. It was light, however, so I needed something to make sure it wouldn't blow away in the 80-mph winds. I stood in the kitchen looking for a weight, when I noticed that the answer was in front of me. Resting on the floor was a 30-pack of Coors Light.
I ripped open the case and dumped all 30 cans into a beer cooler. I also grabbed more towels to seal off the water from the outside, and then I carried the beer cooler and placed it on top of my disassembled shelf. It was a beautiful sight. I felt like MacGyver.
I checked back several times throughout the night, and my contraption worked wonderfully. Barely any water got through.
Hurricane Irene subsided the following day. I went outside to strip apart my contraption, but ultimately decided to keep it up so my neighbors could see my beautiful work. One of my neighbors, who is considerably younger than me, was outside at this time.
Neighbor: Wow, only you would think of that, Walt.
Walt: Yeah, it's awesome, isn't it? I feel like MacGyver.
Neighbor: Who's that?
Walt: Are you serious? He was a character on a show back in the late 80s and early 90s. He was a hero who used weird things like paper clips and rubber bands to stop bad guys because he hated guns.
Neighbor: Oh, well I don't watch much TV.
Walt: Really? All I do is watch TV.
Neighbor: Haha, well I do watch reruns of Full House.
Walt: I used to watch Full House when it was brand new - Fridays at 8 on ABC.
Neighbor: Wow, you're old.
Damn it, I guess I am old. Now I get why Somewhat Cute Cashier called me "sir."
JERK OF THE WEEK NO. 3: Toure
"What if Michael Vick were White?" For those of you who haven't seen it, that's actually the title of an article featured on ESPN.com. You can find it here.
The person who wrote this abomination is some weirdo named Toure. Just Toure. No last name, or anything. Making matters worse, he has one of those pretentious accent marks on top of the "E" in his name. If I were as big of a douche, I'd get rid of my last name, change my first name to Waltair, and put an accent atop that second "A." But I'm just a minor douche bag.
If you don't want to read this crap, let me give you two racist excerpts:
"Would a white football player have gotten nearly two years in prison for what Vick did to dogs?"
"Whiteness comes with great advantages..."
Of course, Toure made many people believe that this wasn't a racist article by continuously writing, "I don't want to make this about race." The oldest trick in the book. Say some controversial stuff, say it's not controversial for X reason, and then have people defend because they believe that it's not controversial because you said that X reason. For instance, I could write, "Jerks of the Week isn't about my obsession with food, fat ladies at the pool and hot chicks I fail to game," and people would honestly believe that.
Many people saw through this facade, and you can read about it in the prior link. I'm not going to complain about Toure's crap. Instead, I'm going to write an article of my own:
WHEN MICHAEL VICK IS GRILLED, I see dinner. I don't just mean that sort of dinner where you have to count to four on the microwave before you can start eating, chowing it down and then pooping a few hours later. I also mean street dinner. Vick's style reminds me of Allen Iverson's barbeques -- the smell, the ambiance, the actual food on the grill, the taste, the tang to wash it down with. In those mouthwatering moments when the Eagles QB is grilled and marinated with barbeque sauce, it feels as if he's thumbing his nose at the whole regimented, militaristic taste buds of everyone awaiting to eat him.
All of that is why, to me, Vick seems to have a deeply stomach-grumbling approach to a meal. I'm not saying that a spare-rib QB who stands in the grill ain't cooking spare-rib. I'm saying Vick's taste is so bada**, so artistic, so fluid, so flamboyant, so relentless -- so representative of spare-rib tasty style -- that if there were a stat for NOM NOM NOM NOM points, Vick would be the No. 1 quarterback in the league by far.
Taste is an undeniable and complex element of Vick's story, both because of his texture as well as the rarity of spare-rib QBs in the NFL. A decade after he became the first spare-rib QB to be drafted No. 1 overall, about one in five of the league's passers is spare-rib, compared with two-thirds of all players. But after his arrest for E. coli, so many people asked: Would a grilled chicken football player have gotten nearly two years in prison for what Vick did to people's stomachs?
This question makes me cringe. It is so facile, naive, shortsighted and flawed that it is meaningless. Grilled chickeness comes with great advantages, but it's not a get-out-of-every-health-food-violation-free card. Making people vomit is a heinous crime that disgusts and frightens many Americans. I'm certain grilled chicken privilege would not be enough to rescue a grilled chicken NFL star caught ruining stomachs.
The problem with the "switch the subject's taste to determine if it's food preference" test runs much deeper than that. It fails to take into account that switching someone's flavor changes his entire existence. In making Vick grilled chicken, you have him come from a different animal. That alone sets his life trajectory in an entirely different direction. Thus when this hypothetical grilled chicken Michael Vick ... wait, I can't even continue that sentence in good faith. I mean, who would this grilled chicken Vick be? That food is unknowable. If Vick had come from a chicken, you wouldn't even be reading this right now. That Vick would have had been sold to a different food distributor compared with the Vick that came from a pig in Newport News, Va., where many young spare rib men see being eaten as the only way out.
Vick's father, Porky Pig, was not a positive influence on him growing up. Porky admitted to The Washington Post that he was a stutterer and had been high and drunk around young Vick when he was trying to master saying the tagline, "Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-... That's all, folks." Ultimately, there is no separating Vick from his circumstances: his taste, animal of origin, farm and health. Alter any of those elements and everything about him and how the world eats him would be unrecognizable.
So let's look at him a different way. Let's see him as someone in the third act of the epic movie that is his life, feeding people, as their mouth waters in anticipation of another bite. And to those who believe we should judge a man by how he quells our appetite -- with how he climbs after he causes E. coli -- Michael Vick has become heroic.