Sunday, June 10, 2007

Mission 3: Route 2 Line Cutters, Part 2

I went to Google Maps, so I can show you all the area that our friend is referring to. I've attached a few labels, so that you get a sense of what these chowder heads are doing.

My first idea was to toss a few nails where the cutters are merging, but then I thought: What if an ambulance necessitated this access? I couldn't be responsible for this kind of tragic result.

My next idea was to make a complete ass out of myself by dressing up as Miss Manners, screaming at the cutters with a megaphone. I knew that I might be the receiver of many a middle finger, but the satisfaction I was bound to deliver to the group of rule-following citizens would be worth it.

I waited until about 8:30 AM on the next workday (as a librarian, I often work weekends, which allows me the occasional weekday off) before shoving off to the scene. I wanted to be sure that I embarrassed a good lot of these jerks and figured that this was peek time. I wore a gray suit with a white button down top and a pair of fashion thick-rimmed glasses (my vision is actually 20/20 to this day - something I am quite proud of). I found a pair of orthopedic shoes to complete the costume. I was going for a no-nonsense type of enforcer of social code and I thought this was the sort of ridiculous picture most folks conjure up when imagining such characters.

I pulled my car over to the breakdown lane, put my hazards on, grabbed the megaphone (my sister teaches geometry and there are a ton of them at her high school, so she let me borrow one) and made my way to the grassy island at the very nose of the on ramp. I got some looks, but I didn't let it bother me. I had a mission. The first violator saddled up beside a nice looking man in a Corolla. She had a real attitude, this one. When Corolla refused to allow her majesty in the Focus cut in, she began flailing her arms about. Imagine this? I saw this and immediately intervened.

Hey, looks like we've got ourselves a line cutter here! Missy, how about waiting in line like everyone else? Do you think you are special or something? Do you realize that your lack of patience and utter selfishness are going to cause some people to be late for work today? How about getting off the highway, looping around, and waiting in line properly?

Well, wouldn't you know. The good doobies rolled down their windows and gave me a thundering round of applause. I got approving whistles and thumbs ups from all. "Fight the Power!" I continued. More applause. The woman in the Focus did just as I predicted, but added a "Rot in hell!" to her bird flip.

This encouraged me to continue. I spent the next ten minutes humiliating bad drivers and as I walked back to my car, I handed out little bumper stickers that read, "It's Rude to Cut in Line" to all the patient folks. I figure, since I can't be there, I can spread a little of my spirit around to those who continue to cut.

Mission 3: Route 2 Line Cutters, Part 1

Dear R.E. Prisal,

I've just about had it with the jerks who cut in line queuing up to the 128 on ramp from Route 2 every weekday morning. Along with about a million other people, I sit in my car in the far right lane, waiting and waiting and waiting for what seems like an eternity. Without fail, the "cutters" make their way in to line toward the exit by nudging in like bullies. Rarely is there a wave of gratitude.

It really gets me off to the worst possible start, especially since said cutters are responsible for the duration of the wait with their sliding in ahead of everyone else at the beginning of the line.

There are never any cops to witness this, so this behavior continues without any sort of consequence. There are no alternate ways for me to get to work, so I am forced to deal with these bozos, day in, day out.

Any ideas, R.E.?

Lost Patience in Cambridge

Oh, you poor dear. I know how very frustrating this can be. You want to know who might be blessed with the kind of nerve it takes to do this to those patient enough to do the proper thing and wait in line. Trust me, I feel for you. These people are super tools. Fear not, my good little doobie, I think I can come up with a few options that will help settle the score with these insensitive asswipes.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Mission 2: The Chatty Hairdresser

We've all been there. You go to a salon and they set you up with Jabber Jaws. This mission was a little tricky, but I think I got my point across. It came to me from a gal in Brighton.

Dear R.E. Prisal,

Every time I go to get my hair done, my stylist flaps her gums like a nut. Am I a terrible person for wanting to relax during my time in the chair? I have nothing in common with this woman and truth be told, I think she often forgets where social boundaries begin and end. I know about her child's bedwetting and about her mother's recent hep C diagnosis.

She does a great job with my hair, so leaving is my last resort. Can you help, R.E. Prisal?

-Need Some Silence

Well, NSS, I think I've got a great idea for ole Chitter Chatter. I've come up with a Courtesy Card for your salon. Here's the design:

I will drop off a stack of them at the front desk. That ought to put a cork in her yapper!

Mission 1: Cell Phone Charlie

I contacted Coffee Dispensing Dude and met with him in a secret location last night (The Sligo Pub in Somerville) to discuss the plan. CDD elaborated a little more on his initial letter and I've got to tell you, it really got my blood boiling.

CDD is a hardworking student whose parents are not rolling around in a lot of dough. He attends B.U. thanks to a scholarship, but his housing is not included in this package, so, like the vast majority of society, he's gotta work for a living. This means getting up at 5 in the morning and walking to the coffee shop while most of us are still sleeping. He then has to prepare the shop for caffeine guzzlers like yours truly and hope that some of us will be kind enough to drop a few coins in the tip jar. After a long morning shift, it's off to classes, then to the kitchen for Raman, then to the desk for homework.

Enter Cell Phone Charlie. He's your typical rich kid and boy does he love to flaunt it. He wears expensive casual wear, has expensive sunglasses and so on. He strolls into the coffee shop at about 10 AM, every day. CDD claims that Cell Phone Charlie doesn't appear to have morning classes or at least, he doesn't attend them. His hair is always tussled, sending the world a very clear message: I'm rich, I can sleep until whenever, the world revolves around me. Naturally, Cell Phone Charlie is using his favorite prop upon entrance and exit: His Cell Phone. He's very important, you know. He's a man in demand and a simple thing like common courtesy can't stand in between he and those in desperate need to converse with him, let alone a minion like CDD.

Over a beer at the Sligo (cardboard cut out of the St. Pauly Girl by our side), we settled on a gem of a plan, but it meant that we needed to get others in on it.

Early this morning, I recruited a few of my friends (no, they aren't ALL librarians) and we, along with some of CDD's co-workers got busy staging the scene. This one was easy, since most of us already have cell phones. All we needed to do was dress me in the standard coffee shop uniform and we were ready.

Like clockwork, Cell Phone Charlie came a-sauntering' on in at 10 AM. Immediately, everyone in the shop reached for their phones. He stood in line gabbing away (he is just as smug-looking as CDD had described), but slowly realized that everyone - including me, behind the counter dressed in my coffee shop garb - was fully engaged in a (one-way) conversation on our little gadgets. I, of course, ignored him when he came up to the counter. I reached into the mini fridge for creamer, then wiped down the espresso machine. I was doing my best to annoy his ass with lots of "Uh-Huh" and "Really?" and "Oh My God, no way!" My friends bumped into him while chatting away, pacing back and forth in front of the counter near him. CDD was in the back room, watching everything play out from the plastic circle window in the door. His co-workers were tidying up the dining area, actually talking to each other on their cell phones. This was pretty obvious to everyone, including Cell Phone Charlie. It proved to be the Pièce de Résistance. Finally, Cell Phone Charlie asked his pal to "hold on for a sec." The room hushed immediately. He looked around, eyes pierced, and bellowed: FUCK YOU ALL!

Naturally, we tried to keep in the laughter and feign shock. But there were a few grunts here and there, until he shuffled out of the coffee shop in complete and utter humiliation.

We celebrated over a round of cafe lattes and savored our victory.

Chalk one up for the good guys.

Friday, June 8, 2007


Rules are not made to be broken. They are meant to be respected. And by this, I don't mean the "rules of acceptable music" or whatever. As a librarian and appreciator of history, I must say that I am in constant awe of rules that need breaking in order to deliver the next artistic or literary wonder. These aren't the kind of rules I'm driving at. I'm talking about the rules of every day social interaction, or social code. I'm talking about good citizenship. When I was a kid, I collected many blue "citizenship ribbons" for being a decent human being. Lots of kids in my classes received these ribbons. Evidently, good citizenship meant something in 1978. So, what happened? When did we stop being conscientious and well-mannered toward our fellow persons?

I'm not a Christian. I'm not Jewish. I don't worship any sort of "god." I simply believe in a general appreciation of one another. If a kind driver motions for me to cross the street, I scurry like hell and wave my hands around in utter gratitude. This is my style. I don't expect pedestrians to be quite as emphatic, but at least make it look like you are making an effort! Please don't trudge to the other side as though your feet are stuck in giants vats of marshmallow goo, or worse, as though there is some sense of entitlement that forces you into this lazy, smug fucking stroll.

So, here is my first mission. It comes from a coffee shop worker in downtown Boston.

Miss R.E. Prisal,

I am a student at B.U., and like many students, I have a part time job. I dispense fancy coffee and sugary delights to the masses for a little above the minimum wage. Between school and work, my life is stressful enough. However, there's a pukebag who comes in everyday and talks on his cell phone while placing his order. I work at one of thse big chain coffee venues, so I can't just come out and challenge this behavior without fear of losing my job, or at least getting a talking-to from a higher up. Can you help me teach this "holier than thou" cell phone user a few manners?

Coffee Dispensing Dude

Well, Coffee Dispenser, I've got to tell you that this type of person really steams my clams. I am already "brewing" up a few ways to deal with this problem. I'll be in contact shortly to stage the plan.