Friday, December 5, 2008

6 Hour Commutes SUCK

Today was BossLady and My 2 year anniversary together. We spent the day (Wednesday) like we did our very first together-- At Disneyland.

The story goes something like this, and it starts in Fremont, CA (near San Jose/San Francisco/Oakland)...

BossLady had the misfortune to work for me a couple of years ago. I had been transferred to her store because I was to have surgery on my arm, and that store was a much slower volume location. The thinking was being slower volume, I could work with my arm in a cast and not get hurt (my DM failed to take my stubborn-assed work ethic into account).

BossLady had started about two weeks before I got to that location. So not only was she being broken into the new guy, she was being broken into the store in general (and she will KILL me if I have my timing wrong... or for just mentioning this... I am dead either way).

Things started well. It wasn't long before I realized that she had talent. I could ask her to do anything and she usually with, though it would cost me a smart ass remark or four. Fair trade.

I started calling her "Crazy Lady" with a smile. She replied by calling me "Psycho Man". We got along great.

I then vanished for a bit, having my surgery on my arm.

When I got back, we ended up talking a lot, along with a few others who constantly ended up on the same shift. We all became pretty good friends.

About this time, she had a medical issue of her own that was quite serious and missed a lot of work. She would bounce in just to let us know she was still alive, and during one of those visits, I gave her my number and told her to call if she needed to talk.

A week or so later, while I was in physical therapy getting the living beejeezus zapped out of my arm (this is rehab? having some crazy woman apply electrodes to my arm and set them for extra crispy?), I got a text message. It was from BossLady. The great text war was on.

For the next few weeks, she seemed only capable of messaging me while I was being fried in PT.

Fortunately, she returned to work, though with a downer. She was leaving for school in Southern California soon. Real bummer.

Before she could leave for Long Beach, I got transferred back to the store I loved in San Francisco. BossLady had a surprise for me. My last day at Fremont, she met me in the parking lot with a gift bag as a going away present. She had several items in it for me, but what stood out were the three CD's she burned for me to listen to while I was sitting on BART.

Those CD's told a story, or so I thought.

A few weeks later, in August, she left for Long Beach. I was not happy. We hadn't developed any real closeness yet, but we had been talking so much, I was certain I was losing a good friend. I mean, she certainly wouldn't waste time talking to me from that far away...

Almost immediately, I found I was wrong. I got a bajillion text messages from her each day. If I forgot my phone at home, I got chewed out when I got home and online from her for ignoring her. We talked every night for hours online. She even called me at home in Fremont and asked me for directions in Orange County (which is SoCal... I was in NorCal!).

What all this did was prove to me just how special she was.

Then the wars began.

Each of us would go through a phase where we realized we were too close to each other and back off. We would even go so far as to tell the other it wasn't working, and we would never hear from the other again. Bitter fights. Very stressful.

It finally came down to her telling me we were through and that was it. I called her and we fought. And I do mean fought. We were yelling, screaming, crying into the phone. I know I was pounding the walls, my bed, kicking the cat... you name it. I finally challenged her to say goodbye to my face when she came home for Thanksgiving.

That holiday was hell. We met at a bookstore in Fremont late in the evening. I knew it was goodbye. I was terrified. We ended up just walking around and talking for a few hours. We went to my studio and shared our photos. We left that night in peace.

The day before the holiday, she met me in the City for lunch at Blondie's Pizza on Powell. We spent my lunch hour walking around Union Square.

She surprised me by texting me on Thanksgiving. I had gone with a friend's family to dinner in Modesto, while she was with her family.

The day after, she called me and asked me if I wanted to meet her for coffee after work before she went to see a friend in Santa Rosa. I agreed. We met and talked for an hour or so. As she went to her car, we took the first two photos of us together.

That night, I got a series of very interesting phone calls from a very plastered BossLady.

I was now so confused that I gave idiots a bad rap.

She called me one more time that weekend to meet me for breakfast the day she left. As we went to our cars, she took a photo of me. I am NOT photogenic at all (Kodak is terrified of my image... they pay me to stay away from their cameras!.. I wish), but I let her. We then got in our cars and headed out, her for Long Beach, me for BART.

It was a long day.

I didn't hear from her that night. I dealt with it by getting drunk.

The next day, I got home and turned on the computer and got surprise. On her yahoo360 blog was a photo of me. And it looked amazing. To this day, I don't know how she got such a good image of me.

That night, we talked. I had just reconciled myself to the fact that she would not be happening for me when she dropped the bomb on me. She was interested, and that she was tired of hiding behind her fears.

She had decided to go for it.

My next day off was 5 December. I talked my boss into giving me an early (IE 5am to 2pm shift) so I could sneak down to LA for a day. My boss (love that woman!) gave me a better deal... 5am to 10am. I told BossLady to be ready as I was making a suicide trip down to see her.

I bolted from work that day and made the six hour drive in something like 4. The entire drive down the 5 was a blur.

That first night, 4 December, will always be burned in my mind. I stayed at my mother's place in Anaheim, and I remember talking to her how I felt like I was 15 going on my first date. I was terrified of the trip to Long Beach.

I went. We went to dinner in Cerritos, then down to Irvine (ironically, less than 2 miles from where I now work!) and played minigolf and hit in the batting cages. We ended the night by the Queen Mary in Long Beach with our first kiss.

The next day, 5 December, was magic. We went to Disneyland and discovered just what we truly are-- two overgrown kids. We spent the day riding our rides, talking and just being together. Disneyland lived up to it's slogan of "where dreams come true" for me that day. It was magic.

The day ended, and hell began.

We went back to my mother's place in Anaheim, and I packed my things up for the drive home. Leaving was hell. I think we shot about 200 text messages before I cleared the Grapevine (North of LA). It was snowing that night, so driving over the pass was not fun. The drive took forever. Getting home was... empty.

I learned two things that day.

First, six hour commutes REALLY suck.

Most important, I didn't want to live without BossLady in my life.

Wednesday was a reminder of that magical day for me. We got to the park, had breakfast, walked around arm in arm, rode the rides, took pictures (some are posted here, others on myspace... if you want to see) and just had fun. We did the same thing last year, and probably will for the rest of our lives.

Thanks BossLady, for taking that chance two years ago.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Evil Incarnate

I have decided after this weekend that I am evil incarnate.


Every time I went to measure a kids' feet using the Brannock device (foot scale), I ended up with a screaming heebeejeebee. And it's not like this scale is scary or anything. At worst, it's a cold piece of metal. But put it in my hands near a bed wetting toddler, and the banshees come out in force.

It really makes me wonder.

Yesterday was a great example.

Two kids were playing with the scales while their parents shopped. Each kept taking turns running behind the counter and grabbing the devices. They would then run around (literally) the store swinging the scales until the other relented to have their foot measured. All fun and games (except for the customers that we cannot help since we can't find the scales now!).

Until it's their turn.

The parents finish demolishing the section of the store that they think they own, and now it's time to put shoes on the snowflakes. All hell is about to come crashing down about our ears.

Mom (usually) or Dad comes up to us and asks us to measure the feet. In yesterday's case, it was Mom.

First things first, I have to have a Brannock device. We keep some behind our counter, and a couple up high at the end of the aisles, so no problem.

Remember, these fiends have been playing with these same scales, laughing and running and basically terrorizing the entire store, just moments before all this...

I kneel down and talk to the snowflake, asking if they are having fun, smiling the entire time.

Snowflake takes one look at me, one look at the scale and decides this ain't happening.


I am sure the scream was audible somewhere in the orbit of Neptune.

Little Precious now starts kicking and yelling, pointing at the scale. Tears are falling fast enough to flood the Mojave. Other customers look at us either in fear, wondering what we are doing to the poor child, or in sympathy, or relief since it isn't their child--yet.

Mom is looking at me with apology all over her face.

The other child, in the spirit of the moment, decides they want attention. She starts screaming with the intent of setting off new decibel records.

Mom thanks me for the effort, and says she will just guess on size unless she can talk Snowflake into being measured. I tell her that I will leave her the scale and give her a brief how-to on using it should the twerp decide to be measured.

I get up, leave the scale on a bench and walk towards another customer.

INSTANT silence from Snowflake.

It's got to be me that Snowflake hates.

It's okay. I am not exactly her biggest fan either.

After all, I am evil incarnate.