Do you have a story from the road? Are you a current travel blogger? Do you have any advice for future performers at a venue, or know where the best restaurant in town is?
When you travel for a living, now and then, you get hired to work some pretty cool places, like Myrtle Beach. South Carolina has some beautiful areas. I can respect state pride but some of it may be misplaced. The names of some of the most popular places have a familiar theme: Kingston Plantation, North Plantation, Plantation Point. Kind of saying, “Our golf courses are great, sure there was that whole slavery thing, but check our amazing greens.”
Since my job takes place at night, during the day, I go to the beach by myself. I feel your looks. The ones that say, “Going to the beach alone, that's so sad” After being surrounded by vacationers I realize the only sadder would be going with your family. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a family that after 20 minutes, one of the parents isn’t threatening to pack up everything and minivan back to the timeshare. The umbrella’s not even up yet and the family conversation’s already in 4th gear, “Tuna? On the beach?” “It’s closer to their natural habitat.” “97 cents a can, that’s what you get. I’d rather have turkey too, but I can’t since three times a day I also have to feed you.” “But there’s sand in it.” “Because you couldn’t just sit there and eat it before making your stupid sand castle. You don’t see the pelicans bitching. Take your sandwich to the water and rinse it off like they do.”
Sand castles, is there a more overrated beach activity? Maybe reading on the beach. Fighting the wind every second, getting interrupted by a poorly thrown nerf football every 3 minutes. Does anyone know how to throw a football anymore? It reminds me of all those sports movies where you can tell the actors never played little league. One of my favorite sports movies of all time is Major League, but Corbin Bernsen’s supposed to be this former all star third baseman. He fields a grounder, then we’re supposed to believe he throws it to first. It’s painful, steps are all wrong, the cameras don’t follow the ball because it actually went to right field. I caught the Bad News Bears on cable the other day. When they start winning, it’s unwatchable. How did they find that many kids that never had a father figure? White kids even. Don’t blame me, they only had one black kid on the team and only 2 hispanic players. To be fair, it was filmed in 1976.
Beaches are so overcrowded we're forced to hear everyone's conversations. Mom comes from water to 12 yr old son who’s minding his own business, under the umbrella, on his phone. “You’re going to spend all afternoon on Instagram? Fine, I’m going to build a sand castle with your brother Ethan.” He’s 12, of course he’d rather be on Instagram than make horrible sand buildings with his mom and little brother. He’ll have a great time posting unflattering pics of mom. Jr’s not worried about proper lighting. Mom would be wise not to turn her back his droid. By the way, can we stop with the bitching about the obsession with phones already? Of course everyone’s obsessed, these things are amazing. You have an entire computer in your palm. It’s incredible that my generation ever puts the phone down. We watched the beginning of computers. Dealt with dial up. We were told not to buy laptops because they couldn’t be updated. Now we get everything with us 24/7. Access to a world of information, pictures of anything we want to see, videos of people getting hit between the legs in ways we would’ve never imagined. How big is your ego that you believe your story about going to the grocery store is more interesting?
I’m amazed that any father takes his family to the beach once his daughters hit their teens. Thinks he’s going to get her away from all the circling neighborhood boys so he takes her to the beach where she’s practically naked. Good idea dad. Don’t give me dirty looks. I’m alone with my towel and all of a sudden, she’s playing volleyball 6 feet from my towel. You sent her in front of me. At least I have the decency to wear dark sunglasses. Enjoying your vacation?
I was minding my own business when a mother daughter stop pretty much in front of my line of site. The daughter wants to do a handspring while the mom records on her phone. First try, she doesn’t it, says she slipped. Second try, lands on her butt. Third, face plant. Now I’m interested. 10 minutes later, still going and I’m thinking, damn, mom’s phone has a ton of memory. Also wondering as a parent, how long do you have to keep being supportive? At what point can you say, “Cindy, you know those gymnastics classes are $300 a month. Maybe you reconsider the parallel bars and switch to say, the perpendicular bar. There’s only one and if you get good enough, it could pay your way through med school.” Finally, a family vacation that can pay off.
Everyone salutes innovators, well the ones that succeed, not the ones that spend their lives trying to play records with a peanut (reference to an old Eddie Murphy, George Washington Carver SNL skit...you should look it up, hysterical). Of course, most everyone craps on them when they first introduce an idea that's outside the norm. Think Elon Musk just plugged an engine into an Everready 9 volt and investors opened their wallets?
The marketplace is a jungle and everyone does what they can to survive. Creating something new? That can be tough. Creating the image you're creating something new? Now we may be onto something.
As Americans, we've gotten, well, a bit larger. Rather than turn this trend around, we found a work around, bigger clothing. So, back when I was in the best shape of my life (had a 4 pack, could never get the lower 2 abs to really pop), men's style went to wearing shirts untucked. Damnit. That said, I like the look but there were some problems with it. Many shirts, especially for a little man like myself, were just too long. A visionary was needed and we saw Chris Riccobono step up.
According his commercial, Chris was troubled and went on a mission to solve this problem, developing his company Untuckit. He spent 2 years with designers to come up with shirts that look better untucked. After all that time, his team solved the problem, somehow developing a shirt that's actually shorter. Apparently, a lot of R&D time was needed before some brave engineer reached for a pair of scissors.
Meanwhile, innovators have taken slices out of the shaving market (bad attempt at cheap shaving pun there...sorry). Dollar Shave Club and Harry's saw the absurdity in the price and inconvenience in buying razor blades. In a short amount of time, these two home delivery companies have grown and put a dent in the business of "Big Razor." A win for innovation.
Needing to respond, finally Gillette answered with a television commercial. The commercial, touts the engineers who work tirelessly to give you the best razor you can buy. The commercial talks about the jobs Gillette provides and somehow made me feel like shaving every day was the patriotic thing to do. Sure, they could make the price competitive and release their products from their locked up posts in stores, but it's much easier to make your morning routine feel like it's supporting the troops, though wonder what happens if you kneel when you shave.
While it sounds like I may be snarky or complaining, please note that these commercials were seen while watching football, which means they were a refreshing break from the messages I'm normally bombarded with on male pattern baldness, erectile dysfunction and of course, places to go get wings and beer, which will ensure I keep my shirt untucked. I think that's called the circle of life.
HARDWOOD FLOOR BAN
Anything more overrated than a hardwood floor? Sure they’re pretty and maybe it’s fun to watch your dog skate across them, but Fido slides better on linoleum. Besides, it’s the floor, why are you looking down, how negative are you? On top of that, hardwood floors scratch and if you’re in an apartment you get to know your neighbors way too well. You hear everything. Only took a couple of days to learn my upstairs neighbor has sleep apnea so now I do. Every little noise is magnified. Thank God he’s not dating right now. You can’t enjoy watching football in your own home. Come out Monday morning, downstairs neighbor’s just looking at you. “Uh, kind of tough one, huh?” Ever try to watch football controlled? It’s the worst. The whole point of being a fan is releasing every disappointment that’s built in your life under the guise that you’re pissed at an interception. “How did he not see the linebacker? You can do better…did you? You left me for a damn elementary school music teacher. Really sexy the way he rocks a triangle? Make the tackle.”
With hardwood floors, neighbors can hear, so you have to keep all of that bottled up. It just keeps building until you have an aneurism, after months of physical therapy you’re finally back home where your wife’s complaining your wheelchairs scuffing the floor. How much different would your life be if you just installed wall to wall berber? You're sleeping, you get that healthy release every Sunday and your neighbors are practically strangers, the way God intended it. You’re probably running marathons at 50. Hardwood floors are a health hazard.
Not convinced? OK, you’re a home owner, cross off coming in late. Every floor has spots that creek. You can’t get around then. It’s like a burglar alarm except it prevents you from stealing one night of fun. Come home, carefully open and close the door that you’ve prepped with multiple cans of WD40. Place jacket on your hook, first step, fine. Second step, you’re gonna make it, third…Creak, ”Babe…” Welcome to the next hour of your life. Ever try to explain a fun night to a half awake spouse/partner, that doesn’t realize they’re only half awake? Worst conversations ever.
You have hardwood floors, forget being a Cowboys fan…c’mon, every year we expect good things. Hardwood floors pretty much limit you to rooting for the Patriots. For a decade every other team in their division has sucked. That’s pretty much six wins a year before even look at the rest of your schedule. As a Patriots fan, you can actually fly on an NFL Sunday.
Try flying on a Sunday during football season. You’re all excited, “I’m going to watch the game, travel will breeze buy.” Got your headphones on, iPad on tray, not to making eye contact with anyone so they don’t have an opening to start talking to you. First roughing the passer call your realize, you realize, you may be the only Cowboys fan on this plane. Flight attendants surround you, ready to drag you down the aisle like some asian doctor refusing to give up a seat he bought. You’re so pissed off, you’d welcome it except but you’re at 35,000 feet. Everyone’s got their phones out, recording. On plus side going viral could help my career.
Everyone thinks dating out of your tax bracket would be the greatest set up ever. Those who’ve done it, understand you still pay a price.
I often mention how Trixie (gf) is a lawyer. Yes, she makes a ton of money and buys, well let’s say, a lot of meals. To be fair, I don’t need to go out to dinner all of the time. It’s not as healthy and much more expensive. She offers to buy and away we go.
Sounds great, but there are some issues. People who are constantly buying everything feel like they don’t have to do anything else. I’m constantly cleaning, she gives me airline miles. Yes I know, sounds like a great trade. Don’t want to give the impression that I’m bitching. I am, but I don’t want anyone to think that. No, it’s not irritating at all that after living in a place for 2.5 years to have your partner ask, “Where do we keep the vacuum cleaner?”
That said, I’ve never met a more generous person. She will do anything for you, as long as she doesn’t have to get off the couch. Order delivery, book a hotel, done. Ask for a ride to the airport? Are you kidding? No, but she’ll drop $60 on a taxi so she can sleep an extra 45 minutes.
Yes, I know I’m winning, but here’s something new. She decided to go on a diet. Totally her own decision. Decided to go with a program called, Isogenix. It’s pretty hard core for the first month and honestly, she’s done great on it. Though a downside is, I get a full rundown of everything she’s eaten by asking, “How’re you doing?’ The other downside, she doesn’t eat as many real meals so, she go out to eat as much so, I’m starting to realize just how much of a food source my gf became. That’s an eye opener. Her diet is costing me money. Now I’ve got to calculate, how valuable is her being thin?
Being the generous person she is, and I’m being serious, she has given me a large amount of the meal replacement shakes because she didn’t like them (she ordered different ones). So turns out, she’s not shirking her unwritten/adopted responsibility of feeding me. Problem is, meal replacement shakes never feel like the meal they’re supposed to replace. Now, I’m walking around hungry and can’t eat any more not just because I’ll have to buy food but because I’ve already used my allotted calories. On the other hand, my jeans are fitting much better. No one understands the sacrifices of a Trophy Dude.
Recently, a friend reposted something that caught my eye. It was a picture of a school assignment that the teacher had marked and made notes in red (after all these years, still a threatening ink...or maybe I just feel that way because my education was filled with red ink). Regardless, the kid had signed her name in cursive, where it said print name. The teacher's note said stop writing in cursive, you've had several warnings. Seems like a minor deal, but I get it.
What I didn't get was the original poster's comments, something to the effect of, the mother who's a military veteran, taught the 7 year old how to write cursive. This is what's wrong with today's education. I'm a little taken back by the anger at apparently three sides of this assignment.
First, it seems odd that a teacher would be that upset over cursive versus print. Is it a power thing? I'm guessing it's more of a following instructions thing. Is the kid trying pull an "I'm better than you" kind of thing in front of the other 7 year olds because she can write cursive? Maybe little Susie's been annoying all semester and this just pushed Edna Krabappel over the edge. Could it just be a case of Susie's paper being graded at the end of the Absolut bottle.
Second, why is mom posting the paper on social media? Shouldn't mom just reach out to the teacher? Parents & teachers all have email access (how is a kid supposed to get away with anything these days). A simple email of, "Why are you being such a bitch over cursive?" seems appropriate. If mom has a military background, shouldn't she respect following instructions? isn't that what the military's all about? Mom should have given Susie KP duties for a month (not sure what KP stands for...Kitchen Patrol?).
Finally, why is this third party getting involved? What stake does this person have in Cursive Gate? Is this person the teacher's jilted lover? Trying to act tough to win over the single mom. OK, not finally, what in the world does being a military vet have to do with this? I'm all for supporting the troops, thanking them for their service and all, but everyone in the service gets a free pass for everything now? It's funny how you can't say anything about anyone who enlists. Bill Burr started talking about it on stage (because he's big enough to take the backlash and he's smarter/funnier than me) but I've felt this way for a long time. Not everyone who signs up is a fantastic person. Like any job, you have great and not so great people. It's just the way life is. Of course if you bring that up, you're un-American? Impossible to over glorify?
Maybe the most troubling part of this whole thing is, why is anyone teaching cursive? At this point, isn't it like teaching latin? Everything's on keyboard. Real jobs mostly direct deposit now.
Then again, I had to sign my check from last night so, never mind. Good mom.
If there's one thing road warriors know, besides we have too way too many people. Seriously, do you really need all of your kids. One wasn't enough? Two, OK things even out when the two parents die but at this point, going .500 is losing. Got to get some wins and in this case, we win by losing...but that's another issue for another time.
OK, the other thing road warriors know is while traveling, the best car food usually comes from gas stations. Sure, we lost full service at the pump except for a couple states that don't let you pump your own gas...seriously New Jersey, I can fill up and get on my way in the time it takes some of your attendants. On top of that, why can't they screw the cap past a click so I feel like it's sealed?
From personal experience, I believe Subway was the Captain Kirk of gas station cuisine, boldly going where only 10hr rotating hot dogs and microwave burritos had gone before. Subway's 1983 infiltration into the petroleum world shocked some and was laughed off by many. Still, the sandwich artists could not be stopped, the only hope was to keep their plastic gloves away from the pumps. This was a game changer, so the game got more teams.
Gas stations figured they could make the sandwiches themselves, and keep all the dough (I know, couldn't resist...sorry). Sheetz was the first true combo gas station/deli that I remember in Northeast Ohio. I recall laughing at someone when they recommended going there for lunch. I also remember being impressed with the grilled chicken sandwich they brought back.
Of course, then grocery stores started tying in discounts with gas stations and realized, if they had their own gas, they could keep all the...ok, dough doesn't really work there. Neither does oil. I'll work on it. So Kroger started their Kroger gas stations. Giant Eagle started GetGo, not sure why they didn't just have Giant Eagle gas, unless they realized what a weird name Giant Eagle is. There may be a good story behind the name but I really don't think it's worth researching at this point. By researching I mean typing it into google. Unlike Kroger gas stations, GetGo was more along the lines of Sheetz...combo gas, convenience store and deli. Pre-made subs, wraps, salads along with a made to order deli. The gas/sub gauntlet had been thrown.
All was well and good, until traveling east and stumbling across Wawa. What's with the weird names for all of these places? Wawa takes it to another level. Seriously, and possibly sadly, Wawa has not only become a source for good road food, but conversation among travelers. Seriously.
After experiencing Wawa, Sheets and GetGo have fallen down a few notches. We've come to expect quality gas station dining. Even some Flying J's and Pilot's have stepped up (ok, they're owned by the same guy who was ripping off truck drivers...allegedly but he is being punished by owning the Cleveland Browns.
Still, I had a loyalty to a specific GetGo. When I am in Cleveland, I will often get a carry out salad there to bring home. It's huge and with grilled chicken would usually come out to about $5.50. Great deal.
Best time to go was just before rush hour. In & out in no time with a great meal. I was there so much, I noticed I was usually getting the same gas station chef. Until one late afternoon, when it was someone else. Much slower, smaller and all the ingredients divided rather than mixed in (actually makes a difference in salad distribution...hard to mix in the container). Writing off as a fluke I went another time, same thing. It hit me, the difference wasn't as much the gas station deli as the gas station deli worker. This was crushing yet uplifting at the same time.
Maybe I've been too hard on GetGo and Sheetz. Maybe it's not just the Wawa name (as weird as it is). Still, unless you're always going to the same gas station, you have no idea what you'll get.
Today, I mourn the loss of my favorite GetGo deli worker. Sure she's probably gone off to something bigger, like graduating high school. I should be happy for her and part of me is, but at what cost? She takes with her dreams of a bright future and my vision of what a gas station grilled chicken salad is supposed to be. Sure, there'll be other gas station deli's and who knows what advances in petroleum foods lie ahead, but because of the experience, I now approach eating on the road with a much more skeptical eye. Except for Wawa's, I swear, regardless of where I've been they've always come through. They really need to expand west.
A few years back, outdoor malls really seemed to become a thing. In the mid south or west, I get it. Who doesn't want to buy try on clothes while lathered in SBF50? What I still can't understand is the popularity of these shopping cities in places like Ohio. Sure, from May to October everyone's looking for something to do outside, though July/August is officially Cleveland Dad, "Hot enough for you?" season.
This leaves 7 months of "Lake Effect" snow and gray making residents wonder why the hell they still live there. Not only do people continue to live and shop in the elements (though Amazon by the fire is considered romantic), but some have chosen to live in the shopping areas. That's right, combining the joy battling for parking spaces to shop with battling with parking places to go home.
Who wouldn't want to live next door to H&M? Watch all the 50 somethings who say "age is just a number" looking for a larger sized number than skinny jeans come in. Above Bath & Body Works? Every morning the competing scents of Cucumber Melon, Coconut Sunset and Pink Lilly Bamboo fill your vents.
But think of the benefits. You wake up every day within a short walk to the food court. Starting your day with a pretzel dog? To think, some say the American Dream is dead. Sure, you'll probably fill your sodium allowance before noon, but you're an overachiever. Within 3 weeks you'll feel awful about yourself, wont be able to fit into your own clothes and some weird guy will write a blog telling you to step away from the Sbarro.
Finally depressed, you're willing to end it all, but the shopping center apartments come with fake balconies with bars in front of them. Honestly, I have no idea of the purpose. Want to impress passersby with the impression that you have a balcony without the stress of taking care of an actual balcony?
That said, it's probably all off set by the joy of watching the lights bouncing off the Cheesecake Factory. That and quiet evenings of hearing families shopping together. Maybe you can be the first to see a family of four actually enjoying the their time together. Probably not, not sure they exist and it's tough to see over the fake balcony bars.