Monday, October 27, 2008

My People

Today my employer hosted an information session featuring the good people from Houston Metro, the goal of which was to get more citizens to drink the mass transit Kool-Aid.

The modest turnout was comprised of mostly late middle aged folks with a disproportionately high number of bald spots, including women.

I describe them thusly: whiny and dim.

For example, "My vanpool captain [editorial aside: Yes, 'vanpool captain'] is always changing the rates on me, I never know how much to pay."

Following a lengthy discussion (and slide show) about creating a commuter account to pay metro fees on a pre-tax basis, "Is this account pre-tax?"

And my personal favorite:

"My metro card's busted."

All this while a woman in the second row gave a play-by-play of the events to someone over the phone.

After spending an hour with other people's vannies, I have a new found gratitude for my own relatively low-key group, even if they do irk me from time to time.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


David Sedaris on undecided voters:

I look at these people and can’t quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.


I'm having too many brushes lately with the Death's half-cousin thorough marriage, the Angel of Maim.

A short two days ago, I was sideswiped not only by a teen with a newly minted driver's license in his Camaro but also by the cliché of getting hit by a teen driving a Camaro.

For those of you keeping score, that means that both of the adults in my household have been in a car accident in the past three weeks.

The only modes of transportation we have left are a lawnmower and a treadmill but I am too fearful to use either.

I spent the next day looking up my available vacation time and happened upon my Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance. This threw me into a tailspin: Is my coverage sufficient? How would I look missing a few digits or a whole arm? Would I get one of those cool robot appendages and take up competitive arm wrestling?

The cherry on this cake of mortality came today when my Best Gay left a message to say that he and his beloved are planning their wills and, "In the event we should die tomorrow in a fiery car crash, will you and [vAnnie's spouse] take care of our dog? Ugh, it's pledge week on NPR. God I hate pledge week. Call me."

In times like these all you can do is get (and by 'get' I mean 'sing') Laid. I believe that it is good for the soul to air drum until your rotator cuff smarts and your throat is parched from all the falsetto.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's Raining Men

A significant portion of the vanpool population is female, male riders are definitely in the minority. My vanpool has recently upped the testosterone level with the return of Generic White Guy and the addition of Rider to be Named Later.

Generic White Guy had been missing for at least three months now (granted, it took me about a month to notice his absence). I desperately tried to overhear the hushed tones the other ladies used when talking about him, but all I could gather is that he had surgery and was facing a long recovery.

This was his first week back and it was good to see him. He looks somewhat worse for the wear, a little fragile and extra pale, but in high spirits. I thought my heart would literally rip in two when we picked him up at the end of his first day back and I watched him stumble and nearly fall while trying to hoist himself into the van.

Someone tried to make a joke out of it, something along the lines of, "We all know you're ready to get home, but pace yourself! Har-Har!" But I think everyone in the van just wanted to give him a hug.

The other fellow is a vanpool first: Young. Younger than me. Young. On all of my vanpools, I have been at least a decade or two younger than the other vannies. I've caught the new guy looking at me the way I know I look at him, a look that says, "What are you doing here?"

It's kind of like getting caught enjoying something you know is lame. You feel a little ashamed and a little self conscious and feel a little hate for the person who discovered you.

Unfortunately, the whippersnapper has yet to reveal himself. He's quiet and unobtrusive, cloaked in the rumpled anti-style of the heterosexual man in his early twenties. The only catty thing I have on him is that he needs a haircut.

I know Generic White Guy won't let me down, as soon as he gets to feeling better he'll be reading aloud what's on sale at the grocery store and commenting on weather patters and gas mileage, but the new guy is still a mystery.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Morning Fatalism

A petite middle aged Asian woman recently joined the vanpool. She is relentlessly cheerful and with her heavy accent, sounds exactly like the Laotian neighbor Minh on King of the Hill.

So, Minh it is.

A few weeks after joining the van, Minh started asking questions about becoming a driver. She wanted to know about the route, where to park the van, and qualifications for becoming a driver.

As it turns out, a pulse and a valid driver's license are the only requirements.

Two days after submitting her paperwork, it was Minh's turn to take the wheel. She told everyone that she was going to practice driving the van around the parking lot over the weekend to "get the feeling of things" but admitted as she was backing out of the parking space that she never got around to it.

She successfully reversed about two feet before stomping on the brakes and asking how much more room she had to back up. Gap Lady rode shotgun to provide moral support and directional assistance. After a twelve-point three-point turn, we coasted toward an intersection.

The light at the intersection was red. It was red as we approached it. It was red as Minh kept a steady foot on the gas. It was red when the van filled with the sound of about seven people gasping. It was red as Minh sailed through it. It was red as horns honked and oncoming drivers swerved. And it was still red while my fellow vannies hustled into their seat belts.

For a woman who got a little cagey about backing out of a parking space, Minh's devil-may-care attitude for intersections was surprising.

"We're going to have to have a talk about what the colors mean," said Gap Lady with a strained voice.

"What? Oh. Yeah," smiled Minh knowingly.

For the duration of the trip she puttered along at 45 mph, hugging the right edge of the far right lane. But when a cement truck in front of her began kicking up road debris, Minh made the only lane change of the drive.

As soon as she was safely ensconced in the center lane, a triumphant Minh pumped her fist in the air.

"Congratulations!" beamed Gap Lady.

This is woman I entrusted with my safe passage to work.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Hits Keep Coming

An open letter to the woman who rear ended my husband at a stop light this morning.

Dear Fleshwaste,

I can certainly appreciate that the intricacies of piloting a motor vehicle are difficult. What will all the staying awake and occasionally looking at the road, it is indeed a taxing activity.

I also suspect there are additional challenges associated with driving a vehicle the size of a Stegosaurus.

After living in Houston these past five years, I have become largely inured to the antics of my fellow drivers - I have minimal expectations of you.

You have every right to drive your behemoth vehicle, take up multiple parking spaces, bully small car drivers, and behave as a general menace.

But please, for sweet Christ's sake, keep your goddamned foot on the brake.



You see gentle readers, when my spouse got out of his car to assess the damage, the woman who hit him meekly said, "I didn't have my foot on the pedal."

She didn't have her foot on the pedal of a vehicle that, according to the manufacturer's website, weighs in at 5,928 pounds.

The best part? We purchased our brand new car 6 days ago.