Wednesday, April 19, 2006

There is no God in Rhode Island...

...which is funny, because didn't they start Rhode Island to get their God on?

I was at a friend's wedding, which was in some retreat in the woods in Rhode Island. At one point, I had to find a store. On the way back, I stopped at a Dunkin Donuts.

Me: Can I get a Mountain Dew and a chocolate stick?

Cute Dunks girl: A Mountain Dew and a what?

Me: And a chocolate stick.

CDG: Stick?

Me: What? OH! You don't have those?

CDG: (Smiles and looks at me like I'm a jerk)

Me: OK, sorry, can I get a chocolate glazed?

What's up, Rhode Island? How do you not have chololate sticks? It's bad enough that Dunks took our cruellers away from us, but to deny me the Go-Bots version as well?

Monday, April 10, 2006

My silent war with the school crossing guard

Every day I pass my old grade school on my way to work. It's the Paul Revere School, on Revere Street, in Revere. You can't get quainter than that. Here's the thing: The crossing guard at the school is making me miserable.

Look, I'll say this up front: Of course I want children to remain safe as they walk to school. And this is a woman who volunteers her time to make sure the children stay safe. That's fantastic. I'm sure she's a wonderful lady with a big heart. My concern is that her heart's a little too big.

Our Lady of the Crossing Children stops traffic for every single little snot who steps up to her crosswalk. She doesn't wait for other kids approaching to reach, and then cross them all at once. She doesn't allow parents to cross by themselves. She crosses everyone as soon as they show up.

As a result, she stops traffic like a dozen times before I can pass her. I turn onto Revere Street about 6 blocks away from the school. It should take me 30 seconds to pass the school. Instead, because of her, it usually takes me the better part of five minutes. Every day. That's nothing, really, but it's killing me because it used to be different when I went to school there.

Back in my day, Dotty was our crossing guard. Dotty was awesome (I was best friends with her son). A kid would walk up to her spot, and she would look to see if anyone else was coming. If there was, she'd wait patiently until everyone was sort of gathered up and THEN cross us. It was a marvelous system that balanced the safety of children with the need of everyone else to get to work every day. Thoughtful, pragmatic, caring. Those were the golden years of school crossing guards.

Today, however, was a perfect example of how this once-great art has been lost. We all stopped for the bus as it let out the kids. The crossing guard (who I swear really must be a nice lady) stood in the road to block traffic, which is fine. But then she lets some van scoot out from a side road in front of the bus, which seems crazy to me. But fine, whatever, the van is also a school bus of sorts, so it's in her purview, I suppose. But after that, she stops traffic to let a kid across the street, and then stops traffic AGAIN to let some old Buick out from the same side street. I was trapped a block away from the school for like seven minutes while all this was going on. What the Hell!

Had Dotty been there, things would have been different in a number of ways. First, the bus would have used some side street to turn around and therefore dump the kids off onto the sidewalk in front of the school. Maybe that wasn't Dotty's doing, but it happened back in my day and it was better. Traffic would still have stopped, but keeping the kids on the right side of the street is safer to begin with. This would also allow the van to pull out and line up behind the bus, dropping off the kids inside and saving us all an extra step in the process.

Dotty would have held onto the kid as others were walking down the street toward her, and she never, NEVER would have stopped traffic to help some old guy in an Eighty-Eight pull out into traffic, because she has better things to worry about. Just like that, you trim the wait time in half, and stop at least one commuter from mentally swearing at a person doing a bad job with a good deed.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Atlantic City: When bad choices are all that's left

I went to Atlantic City for a bachelor party this weekend. We had a
blast, but let me say a few things about Atlantic City:

Atlanitc City is gross. I mean that literally. The place literally
stinks of old people, cigarettes, and Drakkar Noir. If sadness and
failure has a smell, this would be it.

Even the boardwalk was sketchy. Picture Hampton beach with casinos. They have these hand cabs, where you sit in a little cart and a guy pushes you down the boardwalk to wherever you want to go. But because it's still early in the season and it gets cold at night, the cabs all had this clear plastic sheeting over them, so sitting in one would be like riding around on a tricycle with a huge ziplock bag over your head.

And the hand cab drivers were all sort of scary too. I mean, maybe I
don't understand their industry, but having a guy scream "Spend some
fucking money! Spend some fucking money here!" doesn't seem very
inviting. Along the boardwalk, I saw a few women have their heels get
stuck between planks. As soon as that would happen, the hand cab
guys would swarm like seagulls on a french fry "Did your shoe get
stuck? How about a ride?"

You can't even see the beach from the boardwalk, which is weird.
There's a big berm of sand in between. That makes sense, I suppose,
but it was a bit disappointing.

Even the casinos were sort of seedy. Some were really nice, like the
Sands and Caesar's, but others were filthy. I was sitting at a table
game in the Showboat, and the felt looked like a used towel. There
were drink and water stains all over it. The place smelled a bit
dingy, too.

My buddy Jason has more details on the Hotel, but it was no prize,
either. We couldn't get a second cot in our room (fire code,
supposedly), so two of us were forced into a position the Catholic
Church says is a sin. There was a balcony with a nice view of the
ocean. But no furniture to sit on and enjoy the view. There was,
however, a helpful sign reminding us that seagulls are known to shit
wherever they please. Seriously.