How’s it going? I thought I’d give a little holiday recap and reflection, in 3 little CNF vignettes. Tell ya what, you can skip the intro and go right to them if you want:
Or you can keep reading. It honestly doesn’t matter to me if you skip the intro. Seriously, it’s fine. If you insist on reading the intro, I won’t stop you. I will use this as a time to remind you that there are tons of other posts on my BLOG, I have a PODCAST, I’m all up on SOCIAL MEDIA, and I gots me a WEBSITE. OK, look. I’ll be honest with you, since you’ve come this far with me: I only recently mastered the art of using internal links and HTML anchors, which is why I’m experimenting with them here and giving you a kinda long intro to skip. Don’t know what HTML anchors are? Those links to the stories in the bullet list are attached to the titles of the stories down below. If you’re not a blogger yourself, you probably don’t care and are wondering why you didn’t skip the intro. If you are a blogger, you should learn about HTML anchors, if you haven’t already. They’re pretty sweet. Anyway–thanks for reading the intro…. Enjoy a few of my holiday time misadventures!
Did you know 2020 had not one, but two Friday the 13th’s? Maybe you did, maybe not. It stuck out extra to me this year because my kids had in-person school cancelled twice–both Fridays. March 13 and November 13.
Of all the two days. Kinda funny, no? If I were a math guy, I’d tell you the odds were of that happening, but I’m barely a word guy, so…
This was the first week of virtual class for my two elementary-aged boys. The iPads the school gave us wouldn’t let us log in to the app the teachers were hosting virtual classes with; the teachers sent a help ticket. Still didn’t work; we sent a help ticket. They insisted it worked, gave us kindergarten level instructions how to use the thing, and told us to try again. Still didn’t work; I sent this to the teachers:
Then this to the tech dept:
Luckily, the tech dept had a sense of humor, and, when they called me right back, they understood it was a joke, and not, like, an actual threat.
But nope. He understood the humor and we had a nice chat as we finally got the issue resolved.
I know, right?
The last couple weeks I had been working on a short story for a state-wide contest. It was fun putting it together and working on it. Between the podcast, writing for other folks, and trying to get a book published (while writing another one)–I simply haven’t done a short story in awhile.
But after I shook the dust off, it was a lot of fun. I wrote a creepy, borderline horror-ish story about why some writers are compelled to write weird or dark shit.
The contest uses a website called Submittable. I hadn’t used it before. Hadn’t even heard of it before. But it’s a pretty neat little tool for “aspiring” fiction writers looking for places to get published.
Anyway, I went to submit my story in the morning, around 11:45. The website said “submissions close in 12 hours”, so I thought, I’ll go work on this thing some more if I have until midnight!
So I did. Then. About 8 hours later. When I checked again:
I looked on the website. It said noon. Why the website was telling my computer the wrong info, I’m not sure. The aforementioned tech department from the story above did say that the iPads weren’t configured correctly and may have negatively impacted our WIFI.
I don’t know. But that’s what happened. I was super bummed.
But then I started looking around on that website. I found a few other places to submit to, including a few places I could send the manuscript for my yet-to-be published novel.
So when one door closes, another really does open. It’s just annoying when the first door closed because you didn’t read the rules carefully. Ya know, like a dumbass…
I made a trip to the grocery store on Thanksgiving Day for a few dinner items we didn’t realize we were lacking. One of those things was coffee. Now, I’m not a coffee maniac, but my wife kind of is. And I’m a caffeine enabler, so I asked if she wanted something from the Starbucks at the end of the pet supply aisle.
(No, not in the pet supplies, but directly facing into it. Like, when you walk down the pet supply aisle, all you’d see at the end is the Starbucks. Well, unless you’re going the other way. Then you’d see milk, I think. Or maybe cheese. Not eggs, those are on the other wall. Just go ahead and skip long sections in parentheses from now on…)
I heard a ping!, which was my beautiful wife’s coffee order a la text message,–
16oz – almond milk – pumpkin spice latte – half the syrup – no whip cream
–as I was headed to the checkout. I took a right at the end of the aisle, away from the mostly unmanned (unperson-ed…whomever) checkout lanes, towards the pet supply aisle.
It’s important to note at this time, the grocery store allows people ordering coffee to also checkout at the coffee shop. I’m not sure that’s normal practice for all grocery/coffee combos, but this one–it is. I had roughly half a dozen small items in my cart, which most people would just checkout at the Starbucks.
I walked up to the Starbucks, pushing my minicart, and took a spot in line. I parked myself on the social distancing marker they put out for potential lines. Once stopped, I looked around and saw a man, roughly 20 years older than me, had been rushing to get to the line before me. No cart. Just wanted coffee.
He walked past, glaring at me as if I had yelled at him, “Your father was a hamster, and your mother smelled of elderberries!” (***If you know the movie, pleeeeease comment!!!)
I didn’t know whether to assume he thought I saw him coming and I was just trying to be a jerk, or if he was just an asshole. I leaned toward the latter, thinking, Hey, maybe this dude always has an unpleasant disposition. So I took a peek over my shoulder at him. His arms were crossed, his chin was down, and he was staring at me with hellish rage spewing off his face. He had one of those clear plastic masks and was doing everything short of mouthing, This motherf****r over here thinks he’s hot shit…
So I turned around, waiting as the woman in front of me finished her order and grabbed her receipt. My turn. I thought about ordering the coffee and going up to the regular checkout with the rest of my stuff. Maybe out of discomfort, maybe empathy. Who knows. I walked up to the counter to order.
“One moment, sir. I’ll be right with you.”
“No problem,” I said, as the barista went to the aid of her coffee-slinging colleague to help finish the previous order. Then I heard a voice behind me. But it wasn’t a man’s voice. It was a woman’s. And her speech was a bit slurred, with a choppy, inconsistent delivery that were symptoms of a disability I’m not qualified to diagnose. Suffice to say, she had difficulty speaking, and spoke with the simplicity of a much younger person. And she was talking to the angry looking man behind me.
“What are…you getting?” she asked.
“Me?” The man said, sweetly taken aback. “Just a coffee. Why do you ask?”
“I-I’d like…to buy…buy it…for you,” she said.
“Be…because,” she said. “You were…nice to me…earlier.”
“You’re supposed to be nice to everybody. All the time.”
“Well…” she said, making it obvious that, in her experience, not everybody feels that way all the time.
Then I thought, I bet this guy was just behind me getting to the line because he held a door, or slowed his car and let her cross…
“You don’t have to do that,” he said. “Really. Thank you, but you should save your money.”
“It-it…it’s my money…and…I want to,” she said.
“OK. Thank you. And I’ll tell you what, I’ll return the favor. What do you like?”
She answered almost before he was done asking: “Chocolate!“
“Can I buy you a brownie, then?”
“What can we get started for you today?” the barista asked me. Then she scanned my groceries. The guy behind me was deep in conversation at this point, and didn’t even notice.
So. Long story short. Always be nice to everyone. It works out.
Christopher Tallon writes, podcasts, and…wait a second. Are you actually reading this? HIGH FIVE!
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These three pieces evoked lots of emotions in me. Didn’t really expect it. Ending with the coffee line, I’ve got tears in my eyes. Your writing skills took me from frustration to anger to tears. Wow. Got a lot to think about. Thanks.
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