Friday, December 14, 2012

The Power of "No"

Lots of people say “no” all the time.  You hear it everyday.  It’s one of the first words you learn as a child.  It’s a simple two letter word that we all take for granted, and don’t give much thought to.  However if you take a step back for a moment and think about it, you’ll realize the strength and power of that word, if and when used properly.

It’s one thing to say “no”, but it’s an entirely different thing to mean it.  To stand behind it.  To be willing to fight for it.  If used properly, it is actually a positive, not a negative, and becomes an invaluable tool for success in both your career and personal life. 

In order to be able to use the word “no” to your benefit, there is one thing that you absolutely MUST have, and that is knowledge.  To say “yes” is to go with the flow, to follow the herd.  Of course there are many reasonable opportunities to say “yes” on a daily basis, I’m not suggesting you delete that word from your vocabulary, but think about what the words mean.  “Yes” is a much easier thing to say than “no”.  If you’re going to use the word “no”, you had better be prepared to defend and explain why you feel that way.  You can’t simply make a hit-and-run statement of objection, take off, and expect to be taken seriously.  You’re either committed, or your not.  Stand behind your words, or don’t say them in the first place.

Elementary and high school is great for providing a basic education, university is great for allowing time for socialization and maturing, and by the time I finished my post-graduate studies after university, I was graduating with high honours.  That’s all fine and dandy, however, what all those years in school don’t teach you is what the “real world” is like once you’re out there on your own.  Diplomas of course have a purpose, and certainly look great on the wall, but they don’t prepare you for the “real world”.  Diplomas get your foot in the door, where you go from there is up to you.  There’s only one way to learn the “real world”, and that’s through experience.  I had a great looking resume by the time I finished with school, and I thought I was fully prepared, but the fact was, I didn’t know anything.  People who don’t know better have no option but to trust that the person standing across from them knows something they don’t, so they say “yes”, and quietly continue on with their business, trying not to draw attention upon themselves.

I didn’t realize this at the time, but early on in my career in the building and development industry, I said “yes” an awful lot.  If someone at City Hall said I needed to provide something in order to obtain a Building Permit, I said “yes”, and got them what they asked for.  If an engineering consultant said we needed to design a residential subdivision in a certain way, I said “yes”, and that’s the way we designed it.  The problem with that however is that by me saying “yes”, it usually meant more time and money on my side of the table was being spent.  Looking back at it, the reason is obvious.  I was young, green, and didn’t know what I was doing! 

I’ve been in this industry for over 16 years now, and by no means am I suggesting I know everything, because I don’t.  Not even close.  But I know that, and knowing that is important.  Through the course of these past 16 years, I’ve gained experience.  I’ve gained knowledge of the Planning Act, Official Plans, Zoning By-Laws, Provincial Legislation, legal agreements, and Building Codes to name a few.  More importantly, I’ve gained knowledge of not only the words within those documents, but what those words actually mean, and how they translate to the “real world”.  Words are something you learn in school.  Words are simple.  The true meaning of words however is something you don’t learn until you’ve experienced them.

Only once you have this knowledge behind you can you legitimately step up and tell somebody “no, you’re wrong, and here’s why”. I now know whether the information City Hall is asking for is something that is actually required, or whether they’re trying to take advantage of a situation, or whether the person asking for it doesn’t even know themselves what the actual requirements are.  Maybe it shouldn’t, but it amazes me that the people put in charge of administering Provincial and Municipal policies, don’t always know what they’re talking about.  They assume they know more about these types of things than the general public, and so does the general public, so City Hall is used to hearing “yes”.  City Hall usually gets what they ask for.  As the saying goes, “You can’t fight City Hall”.  I didn’t know this 16 years ago, but actually, you can.  They are not used to hearing the word “no”.  It catches them completely off guard, and they are not comfortable having to take off their blinders and take a second look at what the policies actually say.  It’s not easy to argue with people who are set in their ways, but it can be done.  Now that my eyes are open to this, it’s a whole new world.

I’ve been in ongoing negotiation meetings over the past two years battling with senior legal and planning staff at two of our local municipalities, and through these negotiations have been successful in convincing them to essentially re-write portions of their Official Plans and Zoning By-Laws to put in place wording that reflects the “real world” interpretation and implementation of those words.  When I submit an application for a new residential subdivision, I don’t cater to what City Hall wants, I give equal or greater consideration to what I want.  I’m afterall the one paying for everything (well, I should say the company I work for is paying for everything), shouldn’t I therefore get a say in this?  When I show up at meetings, and stand up in front of a team of municipal lawyers, engineers, and planners who have been doing things a certain way for years, and tell them that “no, you are wrong”, I damn well better have a good explanation why I feel that way if I want to retain any shred of credibility.  Nowadays, I win more than I lose, and it’s a great feeling.  The fear of confrontation long gone, it’s empowering to know that I have a voice, and whether people agree or disagree, at least they’re listening, and that’s a good start.     

Whether in your professional life or personal life, the moment you say “no”, whether you like it or not, you’ve stuck your neck out.  It is the only way to achieve greater success, and is absolutely necessary, but there is no denying that you are exposing yourself.  You are no longer part of the faceless herd, and sometimes must take positions that are not necessarily popular with others.  But if you have the knowledge and self-confidence to stand behind your position with conviction, and the willingness to fight for what you believe, you’ll do just fine.  I couldn’t do that 16 years ago.  I can do that now.  I can now say “no”.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Union Nonsense

I am so sick and tired of hearing about unions and strikes.  Nobody should have the "right" to strike.  If you don't like your job, or if you don't think you're being treated fairly, then what you DO have the "right" to do is quit your job.  Go find a job somewhere else if you think you've got it so rough.

Your success or failure in your career should be entirely up to you, and how hard you're prepared to work.  Don't hide behind union representatives whose only job is to create conflict in order to secure their own jobs.

If you are a public employee that relies on my tax dollars to pay your salary, and feel that I'm not paying you enough, or somehow not treating you fairly, multiply my frustration by 10, and that's how much hatred I have towards unions.

Time to abolish all unions and create a level playing field for all.

Just had to get that off my chest.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Reminders

Christmas is once again upon us, and accordingly, so too is the Christmas party season.  It has been a full year since the last Christmas season, so here are just a few little tips and reminders of what is expected of you around this time of year.

DO:  Bring a host/hostess gift of a nice cabernet sauvignon, pinot grigio, or delicious dessert treats, particularly if attending a Christmas Party on, say for example, December 15th.  A little bubbly is also a favourable gift, and will ensure you are granted entrance into the host’s home, rather than being forced to view the good times from the outside of a frosty window.

DON’T:  Bring fruitcake.  Nobody likes fruitcake.  How fruitcake became associated with Christmas, I’ll never know.  If you bring fruitcake to my party, don’t be surprised if I throw it at your windshield as I chase you off my property.  The same applies to a Jello mold.  Don’t put shit in my Jello!

DO:  Say “Merry Christmas”.  It’s Christmas time, you’re at a Christmas Party, so just say it.  Come on, say it!  SAY IT!!

DON’T:  Say “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings”, simply to be politically correct.  I’m not offended if someone says “Happy Hanukkah” in my presence, and if anyone is offended if I say “Merry Christmas”, well that’s their problem.  We’re all entitled to our own beliefs and traditions, so don’t buckle under an imaginary and ridiculous pressure.

DO:  Cut down a real tree.  This is the only time of year when those greeny tree hugger types aren’t going to get all over you for that.  And who says it has to be a fir or spruce?  I work for a land developer, and we have lots of nice oak, maple and butternut trees that we’d be more than happy to allow you to cut down at no charge, that would make a nice alternative for those looking for something a little different.  And once you get it home and decorate it, call it what it is… a Christmas Tree.  Santa does not put gifts under a “Holiday Tree”.

DON’T:  Drink too much at the office Christmas Party.  Nowadays everybody has a Facebook or Twitter account, and a cell phone that takes photos and videos.  Your office enemies will be all too happy to post photos of you embarrassing yourself all over the internet for all to see.  Unfortunately, long gone are the days when you could Zerox your bare ass and get away with it. 

DO:  Spike the egg nog.  Forget what I just said about not drinking too much at the Christmas Party.  You only live once, and think about how boring life would be if you didn’t have a few embarrassing moments to look back on.

DON’T:  Forget how lucky you are to have what you have both in terms of physical possessions, and more importantly, loved ones, as there is always someone less fortunate out there that would gladly trade places with you.  Remember the good times with those who are no longer here, and make new memories with those that are.

DO:  Prepare yourself to gain a few pounds over the next few weeks.  It’s going to happen whether you like it or not, so just give in and let it happen.  Go find a nice pair of elastic waistband pants, lose the belt altogether, and dig in.  There will be plenty of snow in January that you can shovel to work off those few extra pounds.

DON’T:  Drink and drive.  You know better than that.  Don’t be an idiot.  Just plan ahead, assign a designated driver, or take a taxi.  Nothing dampens the Christmas spirit like having a friend or family member killed as the result of your bad decision.

DO:  Finish your Christmas shopping early to avoid the crowds.  I fail at this one every year.  I always tell myself that “next year will be different”, but it never is.

DON’T:  Bug me and ask why I haven’t written a blog post in a month, otherwise you get posts like this, which are barely entertaining at all, but at least buy me a little time to think of something a little more interesting.

DO:  Enjoy the season, and have a very Merry Christmas!! J

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Letter to Bell Canada

This blog post is a little different than my usual posts.  After yet another disappointing and frustrating experience with the customer service staff of my telephone/internet/television provider (Bell Canada), I sent the following letter: 

November 2, 2012                                                                                              

###### ####
President & Chief Executive Officer
BCE and Bell Canada
# Carrefour Alexander Graham Bell
#######, Quebec
### ###

Dear Mr. ####:

Re:            My Experience with Bell Canada

As a customer with Bell Canada for over 20 years, it is with great disappointment that I must write this letter.  I think it is important that you understand what the “Bell Customer Experience” has become, so that significant improvements can be made, and believe me when I tell you, there is much room for improvement.  With this letter, I am not asking for special treatment, or even a response, as by the time you read this it is very likely that I will no longer even be a customer of Bell Canada.  My request is simply this:  Please read this letter.  I have given you over 20 years of my time and money; therefore I trust my request for five minutes of your time is not unreasonable.

Over the course of my time as a Bell Canada customer, there has been frustration all along the way, yet I have remained loyal.  Whether it be calling customer service and speaking with someone whose accent I struggle to understand, the fact that EVERY time I call Bell Canada with an issue, I must dedicate well over an hour of my time and in many cases speak to three or more representatives in order to resolve an issue, I have remained loyal.  Telephone, internet, and satellite television, I have gone “all in” with the services offered by Bell Canada.

After stumbling upon some information that I could obtain a better deal through one of your competitors, and then calling them to verify that I was not reading that information incorrectly, I contacted Bell Canada on October 7, 2011.  I explained that where I was currently paying over $240 per month for Bell Canada’s services, your competition was offering me the same services at $140 per month.  As any reasonable person would, I called to ask what Bell Canada could do for me, and whether I should remain a Bell Canada customer.  After nearly two hours of aggravation on the phone, and after speaking with four different representatives, we finally reached an agreement.  We agreed that for the next 12 months, my monthly rate would be $136.  No more.  No less.

Over the course of the next 12 months, the price slowly started to creep up again, and as of my last bill, the charge was over $180.  Not wanting to deal with the stress and anger that takes control of me every time I contact Bell Canada, I foolishly chose to just stay quiet and pay my bills throughout this 12 month period without raising a complaint.

On October 6, 2012, I woke up knowing it was once again time to reach out to Bell Canada to renegotiate my new rate for the coming 12 months.  Before doing so however, I decided to visit my local Bell Store as I was very interested in switching to Fibe TV, and the big sign outside the store stating “FIBE TV IS HERE!!” was an encouraging indicator that I had come to the right place.  So I went inside the store and got in line to speak with a Bell representative. 

After waiting in line for half an hour, I finally reached the front.  I explained that I was interested in finding out more about Fibe TV, and that if the price was right, I’d like to sign up for it.  I was subsequently quoted a price which I suppose seemed reasonable, then advised the representative that I am an existing customer, and asked whether there were any discounts or promotions available.  The response I received was shocking.  I was told that he was unaware that I was an existing customer, and therefore the price he just gave me is not available to me.  The price for existing customers is nearly THREE TIMES more expensive!!  Not only that, as an existing customer, I cannot make this type of change through the Bell Store, I need to contact Customer Service and make the arrangements through them.  I was essentially turned away.  I questioned why Bell Canada is punishing existing customers, to which the representative replied “That’s just the way it is.” 

Upon returning home that afternoon, I contacted Bell Canada as instructed to once again negotiate a new 12 month rate, and ask them about the possibility of switching to Fibe TV.  Upon speaking with a Bell Canada representative, it quickly became obvious that it made absolutely no financial sense for me to switch to Fibe TV, as I would have ended up paying MORE money for LESS channels than I currently have.  Why would any reasonable person agree to that?  Putting the Fibe TV scam behind me and choosing to focus instead on maintaining my current services, I spent nearly two more hours of aggravation on the phone.  After speaking with just three representatives this time, I was able to negotiate a new rate of $144 per month.  I explained the concern I had about the increasing rates throughout the previous 12 month period, and was assured that no, we are agreeing on $144 per month for 12 months, therefore there will be no increases over the next year.  I specifically asked when this new rate would take affect, and was told that this new rate is effective immediately, and would be reflected on my very next bill.  You record all these telephone calls, so please, feel free to listen to the recording and verify this for yourself.

I assumed everything was fine, and that I could live the next 12 months of my life stress-free, not having to deal with Bell Canada.  That was until yesterday, November 1st, just 26 days since I had reached a new agreement with Bell Canada, when I received my latest bill.  Not only was the price not what we agreed on, it was actually HIGHER than what I had previously been paying.  I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t want the aggravation, but I had no choice, I had to contact Bell Canada.

Last night I called Bell Canada Customer Service and explained the discrepancy in the bill.  The first person I spoke with immediately agreed that an error was made, and that my new agreement was not reflected in this bill.  Unfortunately there was nothing she could do to help me however, and said I needed to speak with another representative.  After 10 minutes on hold, I was finally transferred to another representative.  Upon speaking with this second representative, I was shocked to learn that the agreement I had reached with Bell Canada just 26 days earlier was no longer available to me.  An error was apparently made by the Bell Canada representative I had spoken with on October 6th, therefore that agreement was null and void, and he could not or would not respect that agreement.  He said the best he can do is offer me whatever promotions are currently available, but that there was no possible way of getting me the $144 rate that I had previously agreed to.  I told him that was unacceptable.  An agreement was reached on October 6th, you have the recorded telephone conversation and notes in my file that verify this, yet Bell Canada has chosen to back out of this agreement with no advance notice to me.  I expressed my frustration, and do you know how the Bell Canada representative responded?  He laughed.

I immediately asked to speak with his supervisor.  Another 10 minutes were spent on hold before I was finally able to speak with the “Senior Manager”.  She acknowledged that an error was made by Bell Canada, but that they cannot give me the $144 price that was previously agreed to.  Instead, she claimed that the best she can do given the current promotions that are available is to give me a new price of $154 for the next 12 months.  I told her that is unacceptable.  I had an agreement with Bell Canada for $144, and that is all I am prepared to pay.  She confirmed that she has notes to that effect in her file, yet maintained her position that $154 was the best she could do.  She then proceeded to tell me that “Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter what price we settle on, because we can increase your rates whenever we want.”

I once again expressed my frustration with the situation, and asked her if she is prepared to lose a 20+ year customer over $10 per month.  Her reply was that while they certainly do not want to lose me as a customer, I am free to cancel my services whenever I want.  She asked that I provide 30 days notice.  I asked if I could speak with whoever is next on the chain of command, but was told she was as high as I could go.  I told her she was wrong.  After pressing the issue, she finally agreed to pass my complaint along to a “Senior Executive”, who she claims will call me at home this coming Saturday.

In the meantime I asked her what I should do with this current bill for $182.  Her reply, “Pay it”.  I told her that was unacceptable.  At the very least, she could give me the $154 rate and issue a credit.  She refused.  After some back and forth, we did ultimately agree to change my account to $154, however she would issue no credit, and advised that it may take up to 2 months before this new rate becomes effective.  Again, unacceptable.  I made it very clear that my agreeing to $154 now in no way ties me down to a 12 month term.  If Bell Canada can change their mind whenever they want, so can I.  I asked if this $154 rate would apply for the full 12 months with no increases, to which she replied “Yes”, even though she had just moments ago told me it may not come into effect for another 2 months, thereby effectively minimizing my 12 month agreement to a 10 month agreement.  I asked if she could email me confirmation of this, to which she replied “Yes, I will email you within the hour.”  It has now been 15 hours, and I have yet to receive such confirmation, leaving me with no confidence whatsoever that my account has been revised.

Quite frankly Mr. ####, I cannot deal with this aggravation anymore.  It’s just not worth it.  It is clear to me that Bell Canada does not respect its customers, and after decades of essentially having a monopoly over these services, does not feel there is anything wrong with the way you do business.  Luckily for me times have changed.  Where I couldn’t necessarily say the same 20 years ago, I now have options.  I can choose to stay with Bell Canada, or switch over to one of your competitors, who seem more than eager to offer me their services.  For me, it’s not about whether I end up paying $144 or $154, the money is no longer important.  It’s the principle.  Do I stay with a company like Bell Canada and continue to support them, or do I look elsewhere and give someone else a chance?

With minimal effort, I have already found several options with competitors of yours that can give me the services I need at the same price or less than $144 per month.  I don’t know why, but I feel that before I make the switch, I should at least hear what the “Senior Executive” has to say when/if he calls me on Saturday, even though I suspect it will be a very short conversation.  I am not interested in hearing excuses or apologies, all I want to hear is that Bell Canada will stand behind the agreement they made with me on October 6th, and that effective that date, my monthly rate for the next 12 months is $144.  I’m not asking for a further discount, or any other one time credits for the aggravation you have caused me, I only want you to stand behind what we agreed to.  Failure to do so will make my next move an easy one, and in roughly 30 days from now, Bell Canada will be out of my life for good.
Thank you for reading this, and I truly hope this motivates you to open your eyes and investigate further what is really happening between Bell Canada and its customers.

Yours truly,

Account# XXXXXXX

UPDATE:  November 5, 2012

To their credit, the Executive Customer Service Department did respond within 4 hours of me sending this letter, and after looking into the matter further, did end up giving me a slightly better monthly rate than even the $144 I had previously agreed to.  While I am reasonably satisfied with the outcome, it is a shame it took this much effort to get this resolved.  Thankfully I now have 12 months before I need to worry about it again.  If you are experiencing similar frustrations, I strongly recommend you do the same, and go well over the heads of the useless customer service staff.  It shouldn't be this way.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Contradictions

For Children

Typical Day:  Don’t take candy from strangers.
Halloween:  Go take candy from strangers.

Typical Day:  Just be yourself.  You’re great just the way you are!
Halloween:  Don’t be yourself, that’s no good.  Be someone different, someone way better and more interesting than you’ll ever be.

Typical Day:  You’re too young to wear make-up.
Halloween:  Hey, you’re young, put on make-up.

Typical Day:  Don’t eat too much sugar.
Halloween:  EAT SUGAR!!

Typical Day:  Come inside once it gets dark, I don’t want you wandering the streets.
Halloween:  Go outside once it gets dark, and wander the streets.

Typical Day:  Here, eat an apple, it’s good for you.
Halloween:  Don’t eat that apple, it might not be good for you.

Typical Day:  Don’t take that pillowcase outside.
Halloween:  Here, take this pillowcase outside.

Typical Day:  Candy is not good for you.
Halloween:  Is that all you got?  Go out and get more candy!

Typical Day:  Can you please pick up some eggs on your way home from school?
Halloween:  Hey Bucko, where do you think you’re going with those eggs?

For Adults

Typical Day:  Don’t dress too provocatively, you need to look respectful.
Halloween:  Pfft… that’s not nearly slutty enough!  You need to show more skin!

Typical Day:  I hope the weather is nice today.
Halloween:  I hope it’s cold and rainy so no kids come to my door.

Typical Day:  Hmmm… chocolate is on sale… oh I better not…
Halloween:  Hmmm… maybe I better buy another couple boxes of these little chocolate bars, just in case an unexpected busload of children show up at my door.  It could happen you know.  It could.

Typical Day:  This pumpkin will be a nice fall decoration on my porch.
Halloween:  If I catch that little prick that smashed my pumpkin on my driveway, I’m going to wring his freakin’ neck!!

Typical Day:  It will be a cold day in Hell when you’ll see me wearing those green tights.
Halloween:  Honey, do you remember where I put my green tights?

Typical Day:  Let’s turn on some lights, it’s too dark in here.
Halloween:  Turn off the lights!  If the neighbourhood kids don’t think we’re home, maybe they won’t ring the doorbell.

Typical Day:  Rocky Horror Picture Show is a weird movie.
Halloween:  “Let’s do the time warp again!!!!!!”

Typical Day:  It’s not okay to scare small children.
Halloween:  I’m gonna scare the shit outta those little fuckers!!  It’s gonna be awesome!!


Thursday, October 25, 2012


So who’s drinking the peach drink anyway?  You know, that orange liquid cascading in the clear plastic dispenser behind the cashier at your local coffee shop, the level of which never changes.  Ever.  I mean really, is it so popular that nearly every coffee shop feels the need to have this stuff readily available to their customers?  I’ve never seen anyone order it.  I’m fearful of even trying it at this point, as I can only imagine what years of evaporation have done to the sugar concentration.  They probably give away a free diabetes home test with every glass just as a precaution, but only after you’ve signed the waiver!  The Surgeon General won’t even take a sip!  I’m sure there’s someone out there reading this right now and muttering to their cat “Hey, I like that peach drink!  This guy’s a jerk!”

And what about those Eat-More candy bars?  You know, the dusty ones on the bottom shelf at the convenience store, next to those small individual boxes of chocolate covered cherries.  Who’s eating those?  Seriously!  To this day I’m convinced they stopped making Eat-More candy bars 30 years ago, and the ones you see on the shelves now are the same ones you saw on the shelves as a kid, just a little dustier!

And when was the last time you ordered a Filet-O-Fish at McDonalds?  To the Executive “Chef” at McDonalds, here, take this thick black marker, cross the friggin’ fish stick sandwich off the menu, and replace it with something people might actually want to eat, like the McRib!!  And since you have the marker in your hand anyway, you may as well cross pickles off the list of ingredients that go into making the McRib!  There is nobody in this world that eats ribs and thinks to themselves, “Hmmm,  these ribs seem to be missing something… what could make them even better… oh I know… PICKLES!!”  That does not happen!  If you remove pickles from the McRib, maybe you could use that leftover pickle quota to put more than two on my cheeseburger!  Two tiny pickles is not enough, especially when your people stack them like two dimes so that out of my entire cheeseburger, I only get one bite with pickles!!

And then there’s Home Depot and Canadian Tire, both home improvement stores in Canada that are doing quite well in their chosen lines of business.  Not wanting to rest on their laurels however, and always looking for an edge over their competition, they’ve found a new item to sell in their stores which of course only makes perfect sense – SUCKERS!  What the??  What are these guys thinking?  Using the technology of an old-school artificial Christmas tree, they’ve cut a broom stick in half, drilled holes in it, and placed the sucker sticks into those holes.  So now every time you want to purchase a furnace filter or can of paint, you’ve got to manoeuvre around this large sucker tree!  And do you know why that sucker tree is always full of suckers?  BECAUSE NOBODY’S BUYING THEM!  And do you know why nobody is buying them?  BECAUSE YOU’RE A FRIGGIN’ HOME IMPROVEMENT STORE!!!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

99 Bottles of Beer

We all know how the story begins, but how many of us actually know how it ends? 

99 Bottles of Beer – EXPOSED! 

99 bottles of beer on the wall
99 bottles of beer
Take one down, pass it around,
98 bottles of beer on the wall.

And so the party begins.  Four friends sitting on old beat-up lawn chairs in a garage, sharing stories, remembering good times, and enjoying plenty of laughs. 

82 bottles of beer on the wall
82 bottles of beer
Take one down, pass it around,
81 bottles of beer on the wall.

With a nice little buzz beginning to soften their senses, the volume of both the music and their stories slowly increases.  The funnel has been brought out of storage, and now swings from the ceiling, the beer pong table becoming increasingly moist.

69 bottles of beer on the wall
69 bottles of beer
Take one down, pass it around
68 bottles of beer on the wall.

“CHUG CHUG CHUG CHUG!!!”  The party now in full swing, all four friends howl with laughter.  “Hey look what I found… Lawn Darts!!  We so gotta play this!!!”  “Are we seriously all out of chips?”  “Ohhhh Def Leppard!!!  Turn that up!!!”

46 bottles of beer on the wall
46 bottles of beer
Take one down, pass it around
45 bottles of beer on the wall.

“Hahahahaha!!!!  Look at Bill!!!!!!” as Bill lays passed out in sitting in a blue recycling bin.  “Pfft… What a pussy!!!”  They take a black permanent marker and draw penis designs all over his forehead.  Finding his cell phone, they take photos, hack into his Facebook account, and post them.  “Hahahaha, we’re awesome!!” followed by a round of high fives.

29 bottles of beer on the wall
29 bottles of beer
Take one down, pass it around
28 bottles of beer on the wall.

“LET’S GO STREAKING!!!!”  The three of them strip down and run bare-assed out into the night.

28 bottles of beer on the wall
28 bottles of beer
Thrown in jail, waiting for bail,
28 bottles of beer on the wall.

Bill’s cell phone rings, awakening him from his drunken stupor.  Sore back and all alone, he wonders where everyone went.  “Hello?” he mutters.  It’s one of his buddies filling him in on the little situation they’ve gotten themselves into, and asking him to come bail them out.  “You gotta come get us man!  And whatever you do, don’t tell my wife!”

28 bottles of beer on the wall
28 bottles of beer
Take one down, pass it around
27 bottles of beer on the wall.

“Bad boys, bad boys, watcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you!” they sing loudly together, arms around one another, and now fully clothed and back in the safe confines of the garage.  “Oh I was totally not scared! Hahahaha, you were shitting your pants in there, but not me!!”  “I can’t pee when other people are watching, alright, and I really had to go.  Leave me alone!”  “You guys are assholes, why did you have to draw on my face?”

15 bottles of beer on the wall
15 bottles of beer
Take one down, pass it around
14 bottles of beer on the wall.

“Was that fridge there the whole time?  Why is your beer on the wall, and not in the fridge?  Dipshit, no wonder the mountain isn’t blue!!!”  “No, you’re the dipshit!!  Go buy your own beer you fuckin’ mooch!!”  “Why didn’t you buy more chips?!!!”  “Who am I, your mother?!!”  “Hey, don’t you talk about my Mom like that!!!  I’ll kick your ass!!!”

1 bottle of beer on the wall
1 bottle of beer
Take it down, pass it around
No more bottles of beer on the wall.

“Sun’s starting to come up.  You wanna shot of tequila?”  “{{hiccup}}  Nah, I’m good... I think I’m gonna hurl…”  “Huh, what’s with all these Facebook messages?............ YOU ASSHOLES!!!!!”

The truth behind “99 bottles of beer on the wall”… regrettably, more shameful than glamorous.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Things I Did Not Need To Learn In Public School

Math.  Sure the basics come in handy, that is undeniable, but when was the last time you used a protractor?  When was the last time you used a compass?  If you think I’m talking about that little Boy Scout gadget that tells you which direction you’re facing, you’ve only proven my point further.  When was the last time you did long division, or multiplied fractions manually?  Do you even remember how?  I don’t.  If I have a math problem to solve, I’m not reaching for my pencil, I’m reaching for my calculator.  They have those now you know.  Number of times I’ve used a protractor since public school:  zero.   

Gymnastics.  In my public school for about one month each year the gymnasium was turned into a gymnastics museum where ancient relics were hauled out of storage and dusted off for us to admire, before finding out these were to be used for some sort of athletic purposes, all having the potential of causing us great bodily harm.  The spring board didn’t spring, the rope climb made me feel funny like I was going to wet my pants, and most of the “equipment” was actually wooden boxes with a thin layer of leather padding.  The scariest of all was the trampoline, especially for me being the tallest kid in the class.  Oh, did I mention the metal ceiling in our gym was only 20ft high!  Along with the anxiety of jumping on this thing without a helmet or neck brace, I did not have a great deal of confidence that my smaller classmates who surrounded all four sides of the trampoline with their arms up, would actually catch me should I mistakenly take an errant trajectory.  Number of times I’ve been on a trampoline since public school:  zero.

French.  I have nothing against people who know how to speak French, in fact I applaud their ability to do so.  I wish I knew how to speak French, but I don’t, and do you know how many problems that has caused for me during my lifetime thus far?  Absolutely none.  I’m pretty sure that if I was ever dropped off somewhere in downtown Paris, I could walk out of there with a tasty croissant.  Je ma pelle hungry.  Or whatever.  You know what I mean.  I’d do just fine.  Number of times I’ve spoken French since public school:  zero.

Art.  Simply by showing up to art class you should be guaranteed an A+.  Art is an expression of oneself, not something to be graded on.  But were you ever allowed to express yourself?  No.  Sure, the teacher would let us take turns sniffing the fruit scented markers repeatedly until we got a nice little buzz, but then just as our creative juices started flowing, she’d force us to twist a small square of tissue paper onto the end of our pencil, dab it in glue, and paste it to a piece of cardboard over and over again until we made something that resembled a turkey.  That seems unnecessary.  Number of times I’ve twisted a small square of tissue paper onto the end of my pencil, dabbed it in glue and pasted it to a piece of cardboard over and over again until I’ve made something that resembles a turkey since public school:  zero.

Pfft… waste-o-time.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

I'm An Adult Now

I’m a little early with this I suppose, but in another year and a bit, I’m going to be 40 years old.  I don’t consider myself old by any means, however as I approach this benchmark age I can’t help but think about the life experiences that have brought me to where I am today, and how my perspective on life has changed through the years.

Basketball was such an important part of my youth, and I remember running through the various drills during high school practice and the feeling I got after dunking over the opposition like they were yesterday.  But that wasn’t yesterday.  My last game was nearly 20 years ago.  I’ve barely touched a basketball since.  “Kids” who weren’t even born yet at that time, are now themselves graduating from high school.  It just kind of blows your mind when you stop to think about it.  Where did the last 20 years go?

Every morning when I wake up now, I get out of bed and hobble to the shower, working through the stiffness that has taken control of my ankles.  Multiple severely sprained ankles during my basketball playing days, and 20 years tacked on for good measure are surely to blame.  The stiffness goes away after about 15 minutes of moving around, but still, it’s an undeniable sign of age.

Grey hairs that once freaked me out, no longer even get a second look.  They’re there, I know it, and there’s nothing I can do about it.  It’s just a matter of time before my receding hairline takes care of that problem anyway. 

My knees make weird noises sometimes when I walk up the stairs.  That’s new.  I’ve accepted the fact that I wear glasses.  Contact lenses are still great for the rare occasion that I do anything remotely athletic, but aren’t worth the hassle otherwise.  I am who I am, I like who I am, and if you don’t like me, that’s your problem, not mine.  I wear a tie 5 days a week.  I know how to cook a turkey now.  Couldn’t say that 20 years ago.

If there’s garbage that has blown onto my front yard, I notice that now.  20 years ago I never would have even thought about it, but now I want to hunt down whichever inconsiderate neighbour didn’t have enough common sense to secure their garbage on a windy garbage day, tie that garbage to a rock, and throw it through their front window.  That’s what I want to do.  What I actually do however is leave it there for several days to see if it will blow off my lawn and into someone else’s lawn, and if it hasn’t done so by the next garbage day, I’ll pick it up and include it with my garbage, wondering why I hadn’t just done that a week ago.

Kids seem dumber these days.  I don’t understand them.  They have so much, yet they appreciate so little.  They wear their clothes funny.  They expect things, but aren’t prepared to earn them.  Is this really the generation I’m going to have to rely on to take care of me in my golden years?  That scares me.  How are they ever going to be prepared for the “real world” when they’ve grown up being handed everything on a silver platter, cannot be adequately punished for bad behaviour, and cannot be given a failing grade in school even though they deserve it?  That’s not real life.  In my day things were very different.  Oh Jesus, I just said “In my day…”, that’s not good.

I am no longer immortal, and though I plan to be here for at least another 40 years, I know that someday there won’t be another tomorrow.  I’ve lost close family members, but I’m still here, so I better make the most of it.  If what they taught me as a child in Sunday School was correct, I’ll see them again someday.  I truly hope so.  I’m thankful for what I have, not remorseful over what I’ve lost.  People talk about saving for retirement at my age.  Save what for retirement?  Money?  Travelling?  Retirement is a tomorrow that may or may not come.  Of course I’ll plan ahead just in case, but I’m here now.  Now is what counts.  If I can do it now, I will.  If I can have fun now, I will.         

I watch the news now, intentionally, and actually pay attention.  I don’t have a job, I have a career.  Staying awake past 11pm is sometimes a chore, and sleeping in on a weekend past 9am is a rare treat.  I don’t count how many beers I’ve had in order to brag about it, I count how many beers I’ve had to make sure I make the right decision when it’s time to go home.  You will not find any references to my after-school job at Valu-Mart on my resume.  All-inclusive resort vacations no longer interest me, I want to see the world, not the bottom of a cup.  I don’t call anyone “Mr.” anymore. 

As a teenager we think we have the world figured out, but the truth is, we don’t know jack!  We reach our mid-20’s and realize the world is a much bigger place than we ever imagined.  In our 30’s our eyes finally open, and we learn to understand just how little we actually knew back then.  We laugh at our former selves, not with regret, but with humility.  When we reach 40 we have a new respect for life.  We’ve experienced a lot by now, and are getting ready to enter the prime years of our business careers.  Is this the age when we finally get a handle on life, and what it means to be alive?  I think I have a pretty good idea, but then again, maybe I don’t.  I imagine there’s a 60 year old somewhere reading this laughing at me, thinking “Nice try kid, come speak to me in 20 years”.  I look forward to seeing what the next 20 years will bring, but I’m in no hurry to get there.  I’m having too much fun right now, and really, isn't that the point?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Things People Say

Without even thinking, we all have these little reactionary sayings we blurt out at the appropriate time almost like a defence mechanism protecting us from awkward situations, but not accurately expressing how we truly feel.  I know you know what I’m talking about.  Here are just a few examples:

Have a nice day!  Translation:  I’m done talking to you, and I really don’t care what you do, as long as you do it away from me.

Happy Birthday!!  Translation:  Where’s the cake?  This means we’re having cake, right?  What, no cake?  Pfft… then I don’t care.

Oh, it’s ON!!  Translation:  It is so not on.  People say this when they just got burnt or embarrassed for whatever reason, and in an attempt to save face, they say such ridiculous things such as “Oh, it’s ON!!”, failing to realize that everyone around them knows all too well that they are not going to do anything in retaliation, thus only compounding the humiliation further.

Hey Chief, how’s it going?  Translation:  I’m going to be polite to you, but I have no idea who you are.  If we did ever meet before as it appears you are claiming based on the expression on your face, clearly I was so unimpressed with you that I didn’t feel remembering your name was a priority.

Enjoy your vacation!” to co-worker.  Translation:  Yeah, you better run!  I can’t believe you left me with all this paperwork to do!  You knew you were going away, why didn’t you deal with it you lazy SOB!  I hope you choke on a pina colada.

You gave it your best  Translation:  Oh my God that was horrible!  In what world do you live in that makes you think you could even pull that off?  I’m embarrassed to know you right now.

Happy Holidays!  Translation:  Sorry Jesus, I am a weak, weak person who lets political correctness get in the way of what I really want to say.

That looks great on you!  Translation:  If I say what I’m really thinking, it may impact our friendship, so I’m just going to say this, and try to change the topic as quickly as possible so that I don’t accidently utter something I might regret.

It’s okay, don’t worry about it  Translation:  It’s not okay, I will remember this forever, and I will get my revenge if it’s the last thing I do!  I will hunt you down bitch!!

That random blog thing you do is great!  Translation:  You are my hero, and everything you say is bang on.  Thank you for putting my feelings into words, and for being so handsome.  You should be paid a lot of money to do this, you are so incredibly awesome!