Archive for February, 2017

The law of order

I was in Starbucks a week or two ago, and people in line ahead of me gave me an idea for a mini post.  First someone said to the woman at the register, “Yeah, gimme a grande (insert something with four additional adjectives here).”  As I was contemplating how much I disliked the “gimme” command, the next person stepped up.  “Let me have a (insert more obnoxious adjectives).”  I didn’t like that either.  “What do I normally say when ordering?” I wondered.

I thought about the options.  I think I probably go for some kind of permission-seeking question like, “Can I have the (something unobnoxious because I’m a purist when it comes to coffee) please?” It doesn’t totally make sense since the answer is going to be “Yes” almost all the time.  It’s still nice to give the barista the illusion of power in our relationship though, I guess. I surveyed the other options, and I think I settled on the one that was most me: “I’d like the (blank) please.”  A statement, still polite, and with the conditional “would like” in there, it still opens the door for potential disappointment.  And…I’ve officially over-thought this.  I need more coffee.

Quick final sidenote: I have several go-to lines I use when attempting to be humorous.  One is, “That was my nickname in high school.”  Works really well in many scenarios, so I like trotting that one out from time to time.  I mention it now because I got one of my best reactions to that line in that same Starbucks recently.  You see, a new co-worker of mine ordered a “skinny vanilla latte.”  What was I supposed to do?

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Checking myself out

Two recent things made me email myself as possible small blog topics (smogics? smalopics?).  And since it’s been a couple of weeks since I started doing this again sporadically, I figured I’d write them both up at once.

First up: my lovely wife, our children, and I went to a cabin in the snowy mountains for a weekend.  We did all of the things you’d expect to see in the movie montage version of the trip – sledding, making a snowman, inner tubing, playing boardgames, etc.  The night before we left, I looked at the “Check Out Check List” the cabin owners had left, and something caught my eye: “Do not make beds at check-out (you’re on vacation).”  I thought that was nice, especially since I’ve stripped beds at places before and been instructed to leave sheets a certain place in a certain way.  I don’t think I’ve ever been asked to make beds, but I still appreciated the gesture.

Except…that wasn’t the only thing on the list.  It’s smack dab in the middle of:

  • Set thermostat to 55
  • Turn spa down to 80 and put spa key back
  • Close all windows
  • Check around cabin for personal items
  • Wash and put away dishes
  • Clean out lint from dryer if used
  • Empty contents of grill drip tray into garbage (Be sure it’s cooled off)

But relax!  You’re on vacation!  None of that was hard per se, and the cabin worked out really well for what we wanted, but I thought it was funny to slip in a comment about not having to do something in the middle of a long “have to do” list.

The second thing happened a couple of days ago when I went to get new passport pictures taken.  I’ve been needing to do that for way too long and finally just made myself go.  I told the guy what I was there for, and he directed me to a chair while he got a camera.  I sat and posed – a smile, not too big, but still happy and friendly.  I wanted to give off a vibe of “happy dude” without veering into the “what’s he so fucking excited about?” territory, ya know?

So I was a little crestfallen when the guy looked up at me and said, “No smiling.”  “What?” I asked.  “It’s a new thing,” he continued, “for facial recognition software.  You’re not allowed to smile.”  So I changed my approach on the fly.  I’m a rule follower, so I fought my natural instincts to still have the corners of my lips curl a tiny bit (even though I really wanted to).  Instead, I focused on my eyes, and tried “smizing” like a pro.  (Look it up, mom – it’s a thing.)  He took the picture, then showed me on the camera for my approval.  It was still mugshotty, but there was a bit of the glint I’d been hoping for.  Not enough; I still looked unfriendly (which bothered me), but I gave the thumbs up and he went to print the picture out.

A minute or two later, he met me at the register and we completed the transaction.  Then he dropped this little nugget: “Yeah, no more smiling with teeth allowed.”  “With teeth?” I asked.  “Uh huh.  I guess that’s what throws off the software.  Smiling without teeth is still ok.”  Well shit! He’d left that part out when it had been a viable and much-preferred option.  But time was short, the deed was done, and (rightfully or not) I didn’t want to put him out and make him do it again.  So I got a little story instead.  And 15 years later, I’ll remember this when I go and update my next long-overdue passport.  Oh, and I learned something new in the process: if you ever plan on robbing a liquor store or bank or something, smile with teeth the whole time. You’re welcome.

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