-You’re late, fucker. Your shift started 45 minutes ago.
-Wow, you’re real observant. What’s got you all twisted?
-Hey, it’s been a long, shitty shift. And it feels like it’s only getting busier.
-I saw three ambulances headed out on my way in. I’m sure they’ll be headed over here.
-Dude, it’s been like that all night. One after another.
-God, it’s going to be a long night.
-Sure the fuck is. So what the hell happened to you?
-I got stuck on the red line. Some asshole jumped the tracks and killed himself.
-I know. We were stuck for an hour while they scraped his ass off the tracks.
-Isn’t that annoying? Selfish fuck.
-I know. I mean, If you want to end it all, who am I to stop you? But do you gotta make me late for work in the process?
-You gotta admire the determination, though, right? Dude wasn’t playing around.
-Fuck yeah, you do.
-That’s not like all these attention seeking assholes we get that take a bunch of pills then call 911 crying, talking about ‘I want to kill myself.’
-Then they get brought to ED and they cry some more and say how they didn’t mean to hurt themselves.
-Nope, you’ve made up your mind once you commit and jump in front of a train.
-No turning back.
-That’s called going out with a bang.
-Oh man, you’re an asshole.
-What? I thought we agreed that the guy was an asshole.
-”Going out with a bang,” though?
-Alright, maybe that’s a little too much.
-What’d you bring for lunch?
-Steak and cheese sandwich.
-Let me get half.
-Fuck no I’m not giving you half. That’s the only thing I got to look forward to tonight.
-You really are an asshole.
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Rolando: Crazy Kid
AUGUST 1ST, 2015
I was a bizarre kid with a lot of weird ideas when I was growing up. And lately for some odd reason, I’ve been revisiting a lot of memories from my childhood and having a good laugh in the process.
I mean, the crazy shit that I used to think up. Most of it was based almost entirely on my own imagination, some of it was based on observations my young mind would make, but almost all of it–now that I look back as an adult–was hilarious.
Take, for example, my take on some of the differences between white folks and brown folks. I can remember clearly, at the age of seven or eight, believing that white people did not feel cold the same way brown people felt it.
I was convinced that white people didn’t feel cold on their legs or arms.
How did I come to this conclusion? Well, it was simple, really. We’d be in my dad’s car, driving down the street, and I’d see a white person, jogging, with shorts, a t-shirt and gloves and a skull cap on. In the middle of winter. Just bare arms and bare legs.
I saw this repeatedly. So I formed an opinion: White people’s arms and legs don’t get cold.
Or take for example my belief that, as a young, nine-year-old little league baseball player, if I were transported back to the twenties or thirties, I would be as good, if not better than the pro ball players of that era.
The Babe and all those old timers? I’d show them how to knock it out of the park. I’d run faster, hit harder, throw missiles from any position on the field–they’d have to rewrite the history books about this young Puerto Rican kid phenom who was killing the league.
How would I be able to do these things at the tender age of nine? Well clearly (in my mind) the human body had progressed so much in the intervening six or so decades, that a nine-year-old in the early nineties, was much stronger and a more capable athlete than someone from the twenties or thirties.
If only I could’ve gotten a fully-functioning time machine. I would’ve been a star.
The funny thing about all this is that I don’t remember at what age I stop believing these things or what it was that finally made me understand that things didn’t quite work that way.
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-The way you blew that guy off.
-I didn’t blow the guy off. I returned his iPod. That’s a damned noble thing to do. I could’ve kept it.
-Yeah but he tried to thank you and you practically shoved the poor guy to the floor.
-That’s cause he tried to go in for a hug. And I didn’t shove him. I just put my arm up to stop him like a stiff arm.
-The guy was just happy to get his iPod back. It was a genuine act of gratitude you damn caveman.
-A simple thank you would’ve been just fine. There’s no reason for us to embrace over a lost iPod.
-You’re unfit to live in a society. You don’t know how to behave like a normal human being. That was an asshole move.
-Hey, I’m pleasant as fuck. I just don’t go beyond a handshake with strangers. I know the guy 30 seconds and he already wants to touch chests? I’m good.
-It’s not just the touching thing. There’s also the way you avoid interacting with people in almost every social situation imaginable.
-So I don’t engage in conversations on the street with complete strangers. I would say that’s pretty normal.
-I’ve seen you pop in your earbuds in line at the grocery store so you don’t to talk to the checkout person.
-I’m there to buy food not have a discussion about how my or their day is going.
-Or how about the way you pretend to be reading something really engaging on your phone when you see someone you know on the L and don’t want to talk?
-That’s cause I usually am.
-Reading Joe Rogan tweets can’t be that captivating.
-What do you want me to say? So I’m not very sociable. That doesn’t mean I should be cast off to some penal colony for the antisocial
-No that would too easy for you. You’d be in heaven. I’d send to a place where every one is super friendly and talkative and happy. And where you can’t avoid people and every interaction begins and ends with a hug.
-Jesus that sounds like hell.
-Sure it does.
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I’m not a sweets guy. I’m a beer and steak or chicken or fish or anything but sweets, guy. I certainly wouldn’t mix any of the aforementioned all at once.
That is until we touched down in the great country of Belgium–Brussels, then Bruges, specifically.
As part of our great European trip extravaganza, we–the girlfriend and I–sandwiched a few days in Belgium between Paris and Amsterdam.
Holy shit, folks.
Talk about a place where if you didn’t have certain vices, you’ll develop them.
I mean, not horrible vices, but bad enough.
You can’t walk a block with out there being at least three chocolate stores. There’s a waffle shop on every other block.
And there’s nothing like their beer…
Oh my their beer. Sweet nectar from above, beer. They don’t mess around in Belgium. They love their beer.
I knew going in the beer was what I was looking forward to sampling.
My girlfriend, who loves sweets, was looking forward to the chocolate, the waffles and everything else sweets related.
But by the end of our stay in Belgium, I’d developed a waffle a day habit (and on one occasion, was caught sneaking one on the low), I’d eaten countless chocolates, and, well, drinking their fine beer.
But I wasn’t alone. As to be expected, my girlfriend was enjoying her fair share of chocolate, waffles and other sweets, but she for the first time since we have been dating, was enjoying beer, too.
Thankfully we made it out of there, but not before experiencing a real love affair with Belgium.
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Rolando: Dispatches From Europe–Hot Chocolate, Cappuccino and an Unthinkable Act of American Aggression
We arrived two days ago after a long-ass flight from Chicago to Dublin and then to Paris.
My girlfriend and I had been planning the great European trip for over a year now. And after all that planning, the time had arrived.
On the agenda? Well, you know, all the typical things: The Eifle Tower, The Louvre, crepes, croissants and… Cafe Angelina.
Cafe Angelina, you ask?
Yes, Cafe Angelina. It’s an old cafe that dates back to 1908 that specializes in hot chocolate and pastries.
Who’s idea? The lady’s, of course. So we plan it out on our second day and we go. Only it’s pouring buckets out when we leave. And within minutes we’re both soaked to the bone.
Soaking wet and cold, we, at least in our own heads, both thought about calling off the mission.
But it’s on the list, so we march on. I googled mapped it so we wouldn’t get lost, but some way another we got lost. We walked in one direction, trying to find the place, only to turn around,head in the other direction, just to be equally lost.
The back-and-forth went on for over an hour before we decided to stop at a brassirie for some lunch.
After which we both regained our composure and returned to the mission at hand: Find Cafe Angelina.
We returned to the area where we thought the cafe would be, only to find ourselves lost once again. But then an older Parisian gentlemen came to our assistance.
“Are you lost? Do you need help?”
“Yes, we’re looking for Cafe Angelina.”
He didn’t know the name, but after we gave him the address, he sent us in the right direction. And after passing several museums, and the French Senate building–That’s right, the French Senate–we found the place.
Honestly? Wasn’t impressed. It’s a little tea room off the side of a museum. But I like to make my lady happy so I’m in.
She gets their world famous hot chocolate and a sponge cake. Me, I don’t do hot choco but I order a cappuccino and a chocolate eclair.
It isn’t until I’m half way through with my cappuccino that I remember why I don’t drink coffee.
My stomach gets to rumbling. I ignore it, thinking I’ll be fine and carry on like nothing is wrong.
We finish and I think, ‘Maybe I should use the bathroom.’
I think about it, and… ‘Nah, I’m good.’
We leave and head back the same way we came. I’m good. My stomach is rumbling, but I’m good.
Then, I’m not.
“I need a bathroom,” I half cry out.
“Oh no,” she says.
I look around and there’s nothing. It’s coming and I need to find somewhere. An alley or a dumpster, anywhere but in front of her. I scan the streets and think, ‘There. That’s a spot. In that side street. Oh God I can’t wait.’
Then I look to the right and see two armed guards with automatic rifles: They’re guarding the French Senate building. And immediately, despite, my most urgent need, I realize that if I get caught, it would probably be considered a hostile act of aggression and would cause a diplomatic melt down between our to great nations.
Luckily we saw a pub over the next block and the crisis was avoided.
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FUUUUUCCCKKKK, I’m tired. What time is it? It’s gotta be at least three. No, maybe it’s four. If it’s four, that’ll mean four more hours to go. I can manage four more hours of being this tired.
One o’clock? Only fucking one o’clock? I’m not going to make it. I’ll die before morning. They’ll walk into this EKG room and find me slumped over in this chair, face down on this keyboard—death by sleepiness they’ll call it.
‘He was a good man. A young man.’
‘It’s a shame how he passed.’
‘How’d he go again?’
‘From lack of sleep.’
Ok, get up and wipe down the cart and EKG machine again. Do something. Anything. Can’t fall asleep. You just got this job. Can’t fuck it up. Cart and EKG machine are clean. What next? What next….
I can’t be in this tiny ass room anymore. Feels like the walls are closing in on me.
Damn, I’m so tired.
Stop being a baby. There are worse things that you could be doing right now than making money. So it’s a little slow tonight and you’re tired. Get over it.
I know. Write your blog post. Yes! I’ll write my post. That’ll kill some time. At least an hour or two.
I’m writing my post….
Yeah, this is good. I’m writing this am I’m not tired anymore. Good shit here, writing this post….
God I’m still tired. Still fucking tired.
Only 15 minutes have passed? Shit! SHHHIITTTTT!
I know, I’ll wipe the cart and EKG machine down again. That’ll kill some time…
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I consider myself to be a pretty tough guy. I mean, I’m not wrestling gators for fun or any shit like that but I think I can hold my own. I like to consider myself a man’s man; I do my work, accept full responsibility for the good and the bad things that I do and try not to complain much.
Having put that out there, I recently had a couple of experiences that have called my toughness into question.
The first happened about two weeks ago.
I’m walking home down Thorndale after a long day at work. I have my earbuds in and I’m jamming to something intense, completely zoned out.
Now mind you, the stretch between Broadway and Clark on Thorndale is dark as shit. There are old trees that line both sides of the street, blocking out the street lamps. So I can’t see shit.
I’m marching along past one of the larger apartment buildings when I hit the corner and run into a little white woman about half my size.
“Oh, shit,” she screams as she damn near falls to the ground, absolutely paralyzed with fear. Her fear was almost immediately replaced with embarrassment for her reaction at the unexpected sight of a big, bald brown man harmlessly walking home.
My response? I was a bit startled.
Actually, if I’m being absolutely honest with the readers of this fine and reputable website, I let out a squeal like a little school girl at a haunted house.
Well, shit…. She scared me. It was late and I was zoned out jamming to my music and mentally on another planet. I didn’t expect to bump into anyone.
You might as well try to wake me from a nightmare or trance or whatever dream-like states you’re not supposed to wake folks from.
Whatever…. I punked out at the unexpected sight of a little white woman. Who cares?
The second event happened a week later. I’m walking to work and I stop at a light where I see a couple fire rigs rolling by that belong to the town I work in.
I was curious because three of our ER boys had recently made the cut and were in training.
As I look into one of the rigs, I see one of our guys sitting to the left , which made me happy.
Those boys worked their asses off to get on the department and it brought a genuine sense of joy to see one of them living out their dream.
So naturally, and enthusiastically, I smile and wave. Only, the fire rigs are moving so fast that our guy catches a brief glimpse of me and the guy seated on the right–who I didn’t know and had caught a full glimpse of my goofy ass smiling and waving–was left to wonder why a fully grown man was smiling and waving like a five year old boy who’s dreaming of being a firefighter one day as fire trucks steamed by.
All that was missing was for me to scream out while jumping up and down: “Yeeeeeaaaahhhhh!!!!!! Fire trucks!!!!Awesome!!!!!”
Anyway…. Just two of the many of my not so proudest moments as a man’s man.
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