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2014

19 items

I spent the last week working from Chicagoland. The alternate homebase allowed me to catch up with many old friends I hadn't seen in years. My last few passes thru Chicago have been quite quick, leaving me only time to clean my teeth and see my folks; I maintained a social velocity sufficient to obscure the subtleties of my surroundings - like, for instance, the weather. It’s bloody cold in Chicago, yo! I know, I know ... “duh” … but remember, it’s July. For as long as I remember Chicago’s been delightful in July. I mean shit, Chicago gets 75 more minutes of daylight than Miami does at the moment, and yet - somehow - can’t manage to shine away from applying a windchill to their “78 degrees.” But that’s not really the point of my story…

Lately I’ve grown very irritated with my eyes. I don’t believe there’s been any actual change in my vision or anything, but I’m convinced my eyeballs are on strike. You see, I’ve had a mild astigmatism and a touch of far-sightedness my whole life, but I also rock some incredibly accommodating lenses, so when I apply myself, I can read 20-20 no worries. That said, I’ve also been a fan of computer glasses for some time. Because I simply don’t think I should have to try to see. Normally, “corrected” 20-15 is no trouble for me, and it’s still not really - but lately I can’t seem to hold focus for the life of me. The opthamologist explained that, while she could correct the astigmatism with a laser, the problem was more in my brain than my eye. Fan-tastic. 

So I’m walking down Washington the other day with Ralph when all of a sudden I notice he’s no longer by my side. This is unusual because he’s one of the few blokes I walk about with who can actually keep up with me. When I turn to see where I lost him, I discover him staring at a puddle in the street. He looks up and goes “come check out these tadpoles!” Leave it to eagle eyes to spot a school of tadpoles in the gutter out of his peripheral. We both immediately became enamored by the idea of street frogs and quickly boarded the snowball of bad ideas and giggles, or SoBIG as I prefer to think of it. We eventually carried on our way, but as the afternoon marched on and our respective errands concluded, I couldn’t get the street frogs out of my head. After a few more rides on the SoBIG the excitement surrounding this adventure became so big we simply had to go back. Armed with two gallon zip-top bags, a couple of plastic measuring cups, a strainer, and a smile, we marched our way back up Washington to “rescue” some tadpoles. We might have gotten carried away, for when we got back to my place and transferred our refugees into their halfway house in the form of a 5-gallon bucket, we realized we retrieved almost two dozen taddys. Sadly I had to leave town the next day and head to bootcamp, but like any good absentee parent would, I first established a solid joint-custody arrangement; Ralph committed to their care for the next week. 

While digging thru my game cabinet for some unjinxed dice the other day, I stumbled upon an old puzzle. One Tough Puzzle is a brilliantly frustrating 9-piece puzzle boasting 300k incorrect arrangements. Unfortunately for Ralph he witnessed this reunion which resulted in my challenging him to locate the singular solution. A mere 5 days later, while in NYC, I received his victory text. Naturally I scheduled a debrief as soon as I returned; I had to hear the strategy that resulted in such an expeditious resolution! 

After driving along the rental return road for so long I actually thought I had missed the turn off, I finally arrive at the Hertz counter and happily hand off my temporary Fiat. While waiting for the lady to issue me a receipt I decide to get ready for pre-check. I chug what’s left of my water, retrieve my driver’s license, and place it in my phone holster for quick access before powering toward the shuttles. As I turn the corner to discover a bus for terminal C standing by, I realize I don’t know if there’s pre-check in C. Looking to avoid another contruction cock block, I text Jason who - despite being painfully under-familiar with the local shower scene - remains the resident DFW expert to ask. 

For a plethora of bad reasons that, taken together, sum to nothing more than a rationalization for “because I want one,” I decided to get a new chair. As I alluded to last week, office chairs fall into the category of things requiring specific configuration. Since I seldom run the air conditioning - I like listening to the sounds of South Beach more than I dislike humidity - the new chair shall be mesh, not leather or fabric. Sweat less, check. Since I prefer to assume a position reminiscent of being shot into space - leaning back, base pivoted to the rear, feet up - the new chair shall be bendy, bendy in many ways. Recline more, check. Since the air in my apartment is salty - first world problem number 9 - the new chair should have more plastic parts than metal ones. Rust less, check. Finally, since I sit at a table that’s not technically a desk - thank you CB2 - the new chair shall have a very high, very stable up position. Sink less, check. 

SugarCRM turned ten the other day which provided me the perfect excuse to pop off to San Francisco and stop by my favorite dice store. Jelle graciously accompanied me on my mission to make 1-4-24 a bartime staple. We arrive at Jeffrey’s Toys and Comics where I ask the shopkeeper to pass me the bins of dice. “Sets of six,” I say to my confused comrade who still isn’t sure why we’re there. I have pretty specific, albeit slightly neurotic, criteria for certain commodities. Suitcases, di, desk chairs, cocktails - all subject to well defined parameters, but good a di is pretty easy to define: sharp, not curvy edges with high contrast numbers. This way they’ll be easy to read in dim light and won’t roll all wild like and force you to your knees under some bar attempting to drunkenly retrieve your toy. As it pertains to the set as a whole, I’m a purist. All six should match only because otherwise I’ll overthink the fairness of each di as if the rolls aren’t representing independent random variables…. yea, I overthink things a lot. Whatever, live with it. 

After 10 years, countless beers, and busted straights, I decided the time had come. My bowling cards, now too sticky to shuffle and too mismatched to maintain, needed replacing. Naturally my first thought was Amazon.com, but the only budget-friendly decks they had were generic and as much as it may surprise you: people will cheat at cards. Then I remembered I live in a tourist town riddled with beach shops carrying tchotchkes of all shapes and sizes. Surely in one of the myriad of markets might I find Miami playing cards. Shortly into my hunt, while still establishing a baseline, I realized I haven’t haggled for anything in a loooong time. 

I’m allergic to smells: probably the most poorly architected sentence I utter on a monthly basis. The sensitivity is severe enough that I actually voluntarily purchased a year’s supply of fresh rain scented All - the only flavor that doesn’t actively make me sneeze - from Walmart when I moved to Miami. So you can imagine my delight when I started seeing this seemingly obscure scent at stores like Publix and Target. Naturally I stocked up, just in case it was a fluke. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to cut Walmart out of my life for good. Flash forward a few weeks and I go to do laundry and I swear, All changed the smell I’d been using - no, relying on - for YEARS. 

On our way home from dinner the other day Shale and I decide to stop for some soft serve. We walk into the Burger King on 5th, look at each other, and decide it was my turn to deal with the humans. I stroll up to the counter and announce my order to the woman. She gets wide panic eyes and says: “oh no we’re out of co… wait did you say you wanted the ice cream in a cup?” I did, 2 cups of vanilla, one with caramel and the other with chocolate please. Relieved she didn’t have to disappoint another cone covet-er she relayed my order to the drive thru chick. Had I known the only operable register was by the window we would’ve stayed in the car, but whatever ice cream was coming - not the ice cream we ordered, but ice cream nonetheless. 

A few months ago, while skating around South Beach I realized the Rollerblades I had on my feet were 15 years old. Not the wheels, but the boots and overworn brake were original from my freshman year of high school. Sometime after college I tried to buy new skates; I bought good (read: expensive) ones that killed my feet, so needless to say they didn’t make the move to Miami. I can’t imagine Rollerblade expected the cheap plastic boots to last 5, let alone 15 years, so rather than rolling the dice, and risking being without comfy skates I figured it time to start the search for replacements. 

I’m having pigeon problems. Not Pidgin problems, I’m talking actual birds here. What’s worse there seems to be a consensus among my friends that I shouldn’t just shoot them, so I’m stuck resorting to more benign tactics. Thing is, I don’t speak pigeon and - after the last week - I’m of the position that pigeons don’t respond to reason. Here’s how it went down … 

Last week my two favorite things: talking to strangers and dance music, had a baby named Winter Music Conference. Ten days of networking, sunbathing, dancing, and discussion among leaders in the dance music community, and… well, me. It’s oddly refreshing to partake in an trade event in which you hold no professional interest. While industry independence doesn’t get you any complimentary cocktails, it invites a level of candor that camaraderie cannot because, unlike the up-and-comers, *I’m* not trying to sell them anything. 

Rob sent me a link to this video this morning about a real life conference call. Not only did it hit waaay too close to home, it reminded me of the real life infomercial I participated in last Friday night. My friend Tammy was in town and due to meet Josh, Shale and me at Finnegan’s Road. Josh hit happy hour pretty hard and needed some Crack Chicken so he could hang the rest of the evening, so Tammy beat us over to Lincoln Rd. After a half a cocktail and still no sign of Tammy I began to wonder, okay worry, about what she got into. My concern must have made her ears ring because not a moment later I receive a “come rescue me” text. Problem was I had no idea where this “Adore” bar was… so I called and came to learn it wasn’t a bar at all; Adore sold makeup. 

Like I mentioned last week, with wheels come bowling, and with bowling comes new bowling balls - since, in addition to the fact my “good one” is still in Chicago, it’s been 4 years… I was due :-). I head to the bowling alley with two agendas: bowl (duh), and scout a league for next season, a.k.a. make friends. So I ordered myself a Black Widow online and took it down to good ol’ Bird Bowl to get it drilled. While schmoozing in the pro-shop I handed out two cards: one to a bloke with his son who may need a bowler next year, and the other to the pro-shop dude that I had met the week prior who said something about practice on Sundays. (I should probably note, I gave a third to a gentleman I played cards with later that night.) Skipping forward to the next morning I awaken to two texts. 

I decided I wanted a car the other day. Not need, I still don’t *need* one (for the record), but if I was going to get back into bowling, I’d need weather friendly wheels. So off I went, in a rental, up to Hollywood Toyota. When I got there, I did what you always do at the dealer: I marched into the showroom to look at some cars. On the way in I passed upwards of a dozen dudes, presumingly sales reps, but you wouldn’t know it from their reaction - I scurried on past without so much as peep from the peanut gallery. Inside, much to my dismay there were no cars… many more men, but no motor vehicles, and I looked! I spent the next 8 min casing the joint; I went up and down every corridor, scoped out service, tested the toilets, even passed by parts - nothing, no cars, no pleasantries, no pitch. 

As a part-time editor, and exiguous contributor for the Salesman, I sometimes undertake research projects. Granted these forays into dusty archives usually arise more out of ennui than any real desire to learn anything new, but as I thumbed through antique and yellowing newspapers (yes, they once actually printed the news on paper) I found the following published in the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday, January 18, 1994.

So last week I land in MIA, grab a cab home, power up all my devices, hop in the shower, get ready and - as I’m about to walk out the door - think “log into windows really quick ‘case someone wants to IM you.” I walk over to the computer, shimmy the mouse, ponder, shimmy it again, wait… hit space… look around - lights are on and I can hear the fans. By now surely it must be booted, I mean it’s been 20 min, so I turn it off and back on again only to realize it’s not beeping. A couple hours of Tourettes troubleshooting later, with my hands in the air, I pronounced Narcissus dead. 

Last night, before checking into my flight, I made the big decision to move my seat from the lonely, albeit roomy, island of 1A to 3B for all its potential for single serving friendship. Upon boarding the plane I asked the gentleman to my right, point blank, if he was fun. And faced with his confusion I explained the 2 hour and 40 minute gamble I made on him. He then assured me that he was fun. He was, but not in the way he thought. 

2013

5 items

On my flight to Dallas I got to talking with a dead heading captain about why I try to avoid connecting thru the metroplex. The conversation led me to share an epiphany about “nice” people I had the last time I visited SLC. You see, generally speaking, I’m a happy person. I smile, giggle, and even occasionally jump up and down; I get, and often am, excited about life. Yet even as a turbo extrovert, who longs for conversational companionship, I can - as it turns out - be happy all by myself. Nice, on the other hand, nice requires others to participate. You can’t just go around being nice to yourself. Nope, if you want to “be nice” you need to involve someone else. 

Right now I’m jetting along at 38,000 feet on my way to spend, what’s sure to be, a delightful hour in SeaTac before turning about and flying home; today marks the date of my 2013 AAdvantage EXP miles run. While watching Jobs, for the third time flying, I partook in a very fruitful conversation with American. I sought to confirm my return was indeed on the same plane as my - delayed - outbound flight and the folks on the AA twitter desk graciously facilitated my contingency plan (a 2320 thru DFW) while researching the return aircraft. By the time I finished my filet all was well flightwise, and by the time the movie concluded I was well on my way to a Bacardi fueled bout with existentialism. 

Remember when you were a kid and, before you headed out somewhere, your mother would insist you pee. It didn’t matter how recently you had just gone, or how plausible your promise to make it til you got there was, eventually the conversation would devolve, she’d drop a “just try and go,” and off to the potty you’d prance. As an adult who walks most places I’ve grown to appreciate the philosophy; before I leave the house, see a doctor, or get on a plane, I do my best to make sure nothing will stand between me and whatever mission I’m about to set out on. So you can imagine my retort when an ultrasound technician insists that I pop off to the toilet before we continue the procedure. “Because this is the thing,” I said… “I JUST PEED, not more than 10 minutes ago. I swear, I even know where it is… 4 doors down on the left.” I don't know why I was so adamant about not going, I guess I just assumed she thought I was lying. I even paused to give it a good think over after which I became even more convinced: “I [didn’t] have to pee, I promise!” She rolled her eyes and instantly became my favorite person as she placed the ultrasound instrument square on my bladder and goes: “See there’s pee in there! Now go try, I promise you’ll pee.” I laughed all the way to the bathroom. Can’t argue with science. 

Last Friday I witnessed first hand a formal battle between “flirting for sport” and “flirting with purpose.” While one of the SB Coterie did his thing across the bar, I leaned on a table an toggled my focus between him and Sports Center. After a few minutes a very tall bloke shimmied past me and mumbled something about my shoes being quite tall as he made his way to the bar to order a drink. Never one to forgo an opportunity for extroversion, I requested he repeat himself thereby initiating a conversation of sorts. You should know, at this point I’m like 90% sure he’s tangentially affiliated with the boys, but even if he wasn’t the fact that I was literally surrounded by a crew of companion cops… left me kinda cocky. So when he quickly turned conversation to one of solicitation, I couldn’t resist playing along. 

My night went something like this: realize I’ve been in Miami 6 months, vow to reconsider the cupboards of shit that have gone untouched, start tearing thru the kitchen. The easiest project to tackle was the booze and book cabinet, so I did. Don’t worry, no liquor was lost during the execution of this mission. After review, my once mini library went micro and 25 lbs of overflow literature got loaded up for the library. I consulted Google to confirm location and operating hours, strapped on a backpack, snagged my skates, and took off. The rollerblades lasted about 5 blocks before I became convinced the displaced center of mass would land me on my ass. I plodded the next 15 blocks in flip-flops, in vain; for thru the sweat I saw a sign saying the library closed at 6pm. I tried to play it off - maintained stride as I turned the corner before putting the book bag down to take a drink and regroup. The denial continued for a good 30 seconds during which time I reviewed the entrance three or four times; I couldn’t believe there wasn’t so much as a book drop slot for me to unload - albeit anonymously - into. 

Erin Wilson is the author and publisher of the Sapient Salesman

A "sapient salesman"?

 A sapient salesman is tasked with being a psychologist, technologist, empathist, humorist, conversationalist, and a dozen other “ists” in the course of practicing their salescraft. Most people can’t wear that many hats, and these tidbits are designed to minimize your millinery mandates. Read more

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