I spoke in front of my former sports journalism class at Penn State a few years ago. My professor, Mike Poorman, invited me back to discuss my Web site and Internet journalism. Once I explained everything, this blonde girl asked me an interesting question in the Q-and-A session:
Blonde Chick: You can like work like anywhere right?
Me: Yeah, pretty much, as long as I have Internet and a TV.
Blonde Chick: So why don't you like work in like the south like Florida where it's like warm and stuff?
That was a damn good question. I told her that my family and friends were in the Philly area. I could always make new friends in a warmer climate, but that would be difficult because I work from home. I can't exactly go out drinking with new coworkers. Well, I guess I could make up some imaginary coworkers and hang out with them, but I don't think that would make for interesting conversation...
Me: Oh man, I need a beer.
Imaginary Coworker: Me too. Our boss is such an a**hole.
Me: Yeah, I know. Wait, that's me!
Imaginary Coworker: Oh, my bad.
Me: That's it! You're fired!
Imaginary Coworker: Nooo! Please don't fire me! I promise I'll never say anything bad about you again.
Me: Fine, fine. You can keep your job - but only because I don't have anyone else to talk to.
Imaginary Coworker No. 2: What about me?
Me: You're a loser. Shut up.
As you can see, I need to remain in the Philadelphia area at the moment to have any sort of healthy social life. But that begs the question - why did people settle in the northern parts of this country in the first place? I mean, I'm sure miners and stuff had to be up here a long time ago, but most people can basically reside anywhere now. Why are people remaining in the Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minnesota, etc. areas? Why not just migrate south where it's comfortable for most of the year?
I'd be all for that. If my family and several friends moved south, I'd follow almost instantly. I hate the cold and I hate the snow - I like to avoid going outside at all cost if it's cooler than 50 degrees - so as you can imagine, I didn't like the news that there was a massive blizzard headed our way a month ago.
A blizzard affects me far less than most people because I work at home, so I don't have to go anywhere. I also don't have to shovel snow because I live in a townhouse community, so there are illegal Mexican immigrants who do that for me. But I still hate the idea of driving through the snow and spending all day shoveling it. It sucks, and it needs to stop.
On the positive side, the Blizzard of 2013 provided me with tons of Jerks of the Week material. It all started with a phone call early that Friday afternoon...
1. Depressed Decision-Maker
My phone rang, and it was my mom. Before even picking up, I knew she was calling to warn me about the blizzard.
Mom: Hey, did you buy yourself food for tonight, tomorrow night and Sunday?
Me: I might buy something for tonight. We'll see.
Mom: YOU HAVE TO PREPARE WE'RE GETTING A LOT OF SNOW AND YOU NEED FOOD FOR TONIGHT, TOMORROW AND SUNDAY JUST IN CASE!!!
Me: Meh. Weather.com says it's going to stop snowing Saturday morning, so maybe just something for tonight.
Mom: Well, if you're not concerned... just don't starve to death!
I thought about it, and purchasing something for myself that night sounded more and more appealing with each passing minute. Buying food is one of my favorite pastimes, and I hate leaving my house when there's snow on the ground, so this seemed like a good move.
I decided to go Primo's - the best hoagie place in all of Philadelphia, as far as I'm concerned. I've only tried two things on their menu thus far - the Italian primo and the buffalo chicken cutlet primo - and both are absolutely amazing. I have a tradition for the first day of the NCAA Tournament. I buy both sandwiches before the games start. I eat the buffalo chicken one for lunch and I refrigerate the other for dinner. I gain about 20 pounds that day, but it's sure as hell worth it.
There's just one problem with Primo's, and it's that it's too damn far away from my house. It's a 15-minute drive just to get there, and the area where the restaurant is located is full of insane drivers. I'm not exaggerating - and it's weird because the other three quadrants surrounding the intersection are fine. I want to draw a detailed map for you:
That's exactly what it looks like. If you zoom in, you can actually see people walking on the street. Google Maps has nothing on WalterFootball.com. But I digress. The drivers in that particular quadrant are such douche bags. They'll cut you off mercilessly, swerve in and out of lanes without using a turn signal and frequently drive in the wrong lane. For some reason, all of the drivers in that quadrant think that the bicycle lane near the sidewalk should be used for driving. As a result, three lanes form, which causes nothing but trouble. I guess there's a reason that a major insurance agency labeled this as one of the 10 most dangerous intersections in the country.
Oh, and don't get me started on the Primo's parking lot. I've nearly hit so many people in all of my trips there. I don't know why, but there's always an old, blind woman walking to the supermarket, or a fat black lady wobbling around or an obese fellow taking a stroll with his tiny dog in the parking lot. It's so damn annoying.
I somehow managed to survive my trek to Primo's without getting into an accident or running anyone over. I walked in and saw a gray-haired man in his 50s standing by the counter.
Me: Hey, are you waiting in line?
Gray-Haired Man: No, no, no, you can go, I'm still trying to decide, trying to decide, trying to decide.
Me: OK cool...
Gray-Haired Man: I don't know which sandwich to get... I just don't know... I just don't know...
This guy shook his head and sat down. I ordered and waited for my Italian primo to get ready. Minutes later, I paid for it and walked out of Primo's. As I was heading toward the door, I saw the guy still sitting at the table. He covered his face with his hands and was shaking his head frantically.
What an idiot. It's not like he was deciding whether to buy a house or not; all he had to do was select which freaking sandwich he wanted for lunch. It's not that important of a choice.
If this a**hole had this much trouble picking a sandwich, imagine the difficulty he'd have with a more important decision.
Wife: Honey, should I call the realtor and confirm that we're going to purchase the house?
Depressed Decision-Maker: Still trying to decide, still trying to decide, still trying to decide...
Wife: But honey, we need to make a decision soon because the house isn't going to be on the market much longer.
Depressed Decision-Maker: I just don't know... I just don't know... I just don't know...
Wife: Oh my God, my husband just spontaneously combusted and there are bits and pieces of him on me AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
I'd feel sorry for this guy's wife, but at least he's one terrible driver I won't have to worry about anymore.
2. Homeless Clown Woman
My old gym is much closer to Primo's than my new gym, plus the pool at my old gym is actually heated, so I decided to go work out there. I had some extra time on my hands, so I decided to lift and swim.
I usually just swim. I hadn't lifted in quite a while. In fact, one of the more recent times I lifted weights was when I wrote about this lady called Homeless Clown Woman. I encountered her again, but I nearly didn't get into the gym in the first place. I scanned my gym ID, but the Russian woman behind the desk wouldn't let me in.
Desk Worker: You membersip expire January.
Me: What? That's not possible.
Desk Worker: Is possibles. I look in computer. Say you membersip expire von mons ago.
Me: No. I renewed in April. I'm an advertiser here so maybe that's why it's not registering.
Desk Worker: Ehh... no... you membersip expire von mons ago.
Me: No. It expired in April. You can call Carmine or Andy if you'd like and confirm this.
Desk Worker: Zey no vork today.
Me: Well then we're at an impasse.
Desk Worker: OK I let you pass today but you must renew membersip next time.
Thanks, a**hole lady. When I came home, I looked at my checkbook and confirmed that I paid in April, so I don't know what she was talking about. Maybe she couldn't see and mistook the month number "4" for a "1." That's my best guess.
At any rate, there were three people in the weight room: two old men and Homeless Clown Woman. If you don't feel like clicking the link, here's my description of her:
As I was doing a set of biceps curls, I heard the woman laugh. I looked over, and she was doing sit-ups and laughing randomly for no apparent reason.
If she were hot, I could live with this. But this woman was one of the most disgusting human beings I've ever seen. Her long, brown hair looked like it hadn't been washed in months. She had thick veins protruding the skin on her neck and forehead. She was wearing a purple shirt that had stains on it. And worst of all, it appeared as though a blind person put on her makeup.
I wish I were joking, but there were random colors all over her face. She had lipstick on her cheek and eye shadow just above her lips. She was seriously one rubber nose short of looking like a homeless clown.
Homeless Clown Woman looked exactly like she did two years ago. In fact, I think she was wearing the same clothes. She was on a machine across the gym, so I didn't pay much attention to her. I did some benching, tricep extensions and bicep curls. Right after a set of the latter, I took a pair of five-pound weights off the rack to add to the curl bar. I was in between sets, so I mindlessly killed time by holding the five-pound weights and raising my arms to get some sort of semblance of a shoulder workout.
I suddenly noticed this horrifying stench, but I assumed it was me. I continued to do my halfhearted shoulder thing, but the smell lingered. After about 25 repetitions, I finally put my arms down. I turned around and - WHOA! Homeless Clown Woman was standing right behind me. She didn't even say anything - it was like a scary movie where a creepy character lingers right behind someone.
I said, "Oh, sorry," and moved aside. She walked by, and I instantly knew that aforementioned stench was hers. And that begs the question - how long was she standing behind me? Why didn't she say anything? Why didn't she walk around me? And why, in God's name, can't she take a freaking shower?
It's been weeks since I've seen or smelled Homeless Clown Woman, but her disturbing face and nauseating smell are still fresh in my mind. I keep thinking I'm going to turn around and see/smell her. I've been having nightmares about this. I only hope I can regain my sanity soon.
3. Asian Pharmacist and Blizzard Bolaris
As it turns out, the weather forecasts were correct. The snow concluded around 9 a.m. Though New England and New York was hit pretty harshly, we got just a few inches. By the time I woke up around noon, people were driving and going about their business normally.
I planned to meet my friends Dale and Larry for dinner around 5:30. I left my house around 5:05 even though it was about a 12-minute drive to the restaurant. I had to stop at Rite-Aid first to refill my medicated toothpaste. My teeth are so incredibly bad - I had 17 cavities in one visit once when I was in college - that my dentist prescribes special toothpaste for me.
I walked into Rite-Aid and approached the pharmacy section. I had never been there on a weekend; it's usually bustling with tons of female pharmacists, but there was only one woman back there, an Asian chick in her late 20s. I handed her the toothpaste. She looked at it and said, "I'm going to see if I have this in stock. I'll be right back."
Asian Pharmacist didn't return for about five minutes, but instead of coming back to me, she went to the computer. She frantically typed away for minutes. I tried to get her attention, but all she said was, "wait a moment."
She finally approached me 10 minutes later with some confusing news.
Asian Pharmacist: I'm sorry, but they've discontinued your toothpaste, PreviDent 5000.
Asian Pharmacist: They now have something called PreviDent 5000 Plus.
Me: Oh, OK. I'll take that then.
Asian Pharmacist: Oh no, you misunderstand. I can't give you that without calling your dentist first.
Me: Are you serious?
Asian Pharmacist: Yes. Pharmacy regulations.
Me: But it's the same damn thing. They just added a "plus" at the end of it to sound fancier. Plus, my dentist is just going to prescribe it to me anyway.
Asian Pharmacist: Well, we have to know for sure. I'm sorry. We'll call your dentist, but we probably won't get an answer until Monday.
What a**holes. I hate pharmacies. Why couldn't they just give me the PreviDent 5000 Plus? It's not like I was asking for Vicodin or something. It's freaking toothpaste. Ugh.
I arrived late to the restaurant because of the Rite-Aid bulls***. One of the topics Larry, Dale and I discussed during dinner was past blizzards, including the blizzard that never was. Back in 2001, a local meteorologist named John "Blizzard" Bolaris predicted one of the worst snowstorms of all time. The entire city shut down because of this, yet all we saw were some flurries.
I asked about what happened to Bolaris. He's apparently in Miami now, which is good for him because he doesn't have to worry about projecting any blizzards.
Having said that, this mishap of his wasn't even the worst of his in the past decade. Larry and Dale told me about something that happened to him in Vegas. They said he paid for some hookers. They went back to his room and stole everything of his. That's definitely a bummer, but you won't be feeling sorry for him after you hear this - the following night, he apparently paid for more hookers and got his stuff stolen again!
There are plenty of promiscuous ladies in Miami, so maybe it's not such a good thing that Bolaris moved down there. Then again, he could always lead a more conservative lifestyle from now on. Maybe he'll even go to the bar with a pair of imaginary coworkers.