September 12th, 2004


Where have all the burriters gone? (long time pa-assing...)

Compelling Chronicle:

I actually thought of chronicling my whereabouts and whatabouts on 9/11/01 to celebrate 9/11/04, but two paragraphs in it felt dry, boring, already-been-done-to-death and I realized I have reservations about celebrating disasters anyway. So this will have to suffice:

I heard on the radio before I got out of bed that a "small plane" had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. Like a lot of people I know, I thought to myself, "Some idiot flying low taking pictures and not paying attention." I got up and got in the shower. My definitive memory of 9/11/01 was that every time I got back to the radio it was worse. It was an airliner not a "small plane". Then it was two airliners. Then it was the Pentagon. Then one tower collapsed. Then another plane was missing and presumed hijacked. Then the other tower collapsed. Then the fourth hijacked plane was confirmed down in Pennsylvania.

For four hours I didn't know what to think. How many of these incidents were there going to be? It took me forty minutes or so to get to work because the airport area was completely locked down. I was there for about thirty minutes before they sent us home. I came over here (where T&P lived at the time) because I had no television at home and watched the towers collapse a few times on CNN. I had a lunch date with one of my ex-Goodwrencher friends and over Boston Market broasted chicken we traded speculation on what was going on. He was sure it was "the Arabs" (which I guess it turned out to be, more or less). I had been sure that the Oklahoma City bombing was "the Arabs" and it turned out otherwise, so I wasn't ready to decide till there was more information. We weren't allowed back to work for two more days after that.

. . .

The guy who had my office before I did left a life-size 3D molded plastic pop-up target in the shape of a of a guy with a gun. These things are cheap and expendable and they are used to train cops. They have a course with a bunch of these targets that pop up as you walk through. Some are like the one on my wall, a swarthy, menacing dude with a gun*. Others are a woman with a baby in her arms. Still others are a woman with a baby on one arm and a gun in the other hand. The idea is that the cops are supposed to learn to make split-second shoot/don't-shoot decisions. I like it because people who haven't been in my office before invariably walk in, start talking to me, catch this guy out of the corner of their eye and jump back, "Whoa!" I'm the kind of anti-social easily amused nerd that gets a kick out of it every time.

Anyway . . .

They are always on us about safety and corporate security. We get handouts and doodads all the time exhorting us to build safety and security into everything we do. I was given a mouse pad that said in big letters, "IT CAN HAPPEN HERE." In smaller letters it explained that it was talking about corporate espionage. I took the mouse pad and hung it on the wall over my pop-up target guy and then put a little banner I made with MS Word over that which said, "Tony The Terrorist says:" So Tony The Terrorist became my mascot for corporate security.

After 9/11 I took down the banner and the mouse pad because whatever sense of humor people had about terrorism previously had completely evaporated and it just wasn't something you joked about. The loss of that particular bit of humor is not unfounded or without good reason. What I find sad is how much of the rest of our sense of humor about everything has vanished since 9/11 and especially during this election season. There are people who don't socialize with me anymore because I have a more liberal perspective than they do and they consider me "the enemy". This "loss" is survivable because if they are that opposed to free speech and diversity of opinion, I'll be proud not be seen with them. But still, it's sad that the country has become so polarized that these things can't even be discussed anymore. The 9/11 terrorists really did strike a blow at the heart of America that hasn't even begun to heal.

. . .

So there. I've pretty much done what I said I wasn't going to do.

Current Events:

Went down to the Golden Pride to get me one o' them breakfast burriters this morning.

The Frontier Restaurant across from the university is a warehouse-sized cafeteria-like place that has become an institution. It used to be open all night (maybe still is) and it's where a lot of students went to pull all-nighters before mid-terms and finals and such. It's also where a lot of dealers in kevis and trillium would meet to deliver their goods and collect their credits, but we no longer discuss that sort of thing.

When the Golden Pride chicken franchise in town went belly-up, the Frontier folks took it over and now it's Golden Pride Chicken, Bar-B-Que and Breakfast Burritos. The burriters aren't bad, but in a state that practically invented Southwestern culture, you'd think it would be easy to find a truly fine breakfast burrito. It's not. Most are dry. Many have nothing but potatoes inside. Yuk. But, like I said, the ones at the Golden Pride aren't bad.

Anyway . . .

I'm standing in line behind this older lady who is on the phone (of course) and the one girl behind the counter is trying to take her order. However, the lady knows the girl standing behind the girl standing behind the counter. So we have to wait through this interminable exchange wherein the lady and the second girl have to do all of the, "Oh Hi! How are you?" business. The whole time the lady is alternating between talking to the second girl and talking to whoever is on the phone. Girl number one and about four customers in line behind the lady are just standing there staring into space and shuffling their feet. Girl number two is drop-dead gorgeous. A wide perfect smile with large straight white teeth. Like a Miss America contestant she maintains this arresting smile constantly, whether she's talking or not. The amusing thing, to me (one of the most easily amused people on the planet), was the conversation:

Girl #2: Did you hear?

Lady: What?

Girl #2: My dad got sent to prison.

Lady: No!

Girls #2: Yep.

Lady: What for?

Girl #2: He beat my mom up because she was cheating on him.

Lady: You're kidding!

Girl #2: Nope. He got the verdict Friday.

Etc., ect.

All through this exchange girl number two smiled and spoke as if she were hawking Pantene hair care products (which she was fully qualified to do, given alternate circumstances). Just a weird bit of entertainment to start yer Sunday morning.

Mostly I get terrifically annoyed with people who can't put the goddam phone down long enough to order a burger or finish putting their 75 cents in the Coke machine. Maybe if they strove to make their conversations a bit more entertaining people would have more patience with them, though I don't honestly think they care.


*People have a hard time deciding who my guy looks like. Some say Burt Reynolds. Others say Tom Selick. Still others say a younger slimmer Saddam Hussein.