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Friday, May 16, 2014

Going Postal

So here I am in scenic San Francisco, a city, in which, for all intents and purposes, I should be allowed to live in just because I really like it here. I like the fact that it is probably the most liberal, progressive, and environmentally friendly place on earth. A place where you can’t buy a single serving plastic bottle of water. A place where you bring your own bags to the grocery store or pay a fee for a paper one. A place where the majority of taxi cabs are not Crown Victorias, but rather, Priuses. A place where, up until a couple years ago, you were allowed to walk around buck naked in the street if you wanted to. They reversed that law when they realized that it was the people you really didn’t want to see naked who were the ones availing themselves of that law. If you’ve ever been to a nude beach, you’ve read that book.

But the paradox about San Francisco is: you have to be stinkin’ rich to afford to live here. Rents are so high that if they fell out the window, they would die. If you want to live here, you have to be a super smart rich kid who takes a luxury wi-fi-enabled coach to your systems analyst job at eBay, a place where poor people go to try to sell their old underwear. The toilets on these coaches actually use Dom Perignon for flushing fluid.
So when the low-to-moderate income Bills come to San Francisco, they stay in a hotel kind of place where the rooms are still less than a hundred dollars a day. This place is rated minus three stars and is so sad that travel sites like Expedia and Hotwire don’t even list it. This place is so below mediocre that when friends pick us up, due to embarrassment, we meet them in front of the Motel 6. We would meet them in front of the Fairmont, but really, who’s kidding whom?

One thing we like to do is send postcards to friends and relatives. Most of these postcards have pictures of places tourists like to go to like Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, Alcatraz, and the 
Motel 6.

So yesterday we went to a post office to buy six postcard stamps. When we got there we were pleased to find a line with only one person ahead of us. The post office had a nice display of sub-American Greetings, dollar-store quality greeting cards for sale.

“Why is the post office selling cards?” Other Bill asked to no one in particular, but I decided I should answer it, or else the man in front of us would.

“If you were as financially strapped as the US Postal Service, you’d be selling your underwear on eBay just to make a penny.”

Because it was a US post office, there were no postal clerks behind the counter. They were all in the back performing pension payout calculations with variables of different dates of retirement. Either that, or they were just slacking off.

The man in front of us shifted from foot to foot, restlessly. Apparently, he had been waiting a long time for a clerk to come out and tender his resignation and retire. To our good luck, eventually there appeared in the lobby what looked like a postal clerk. This meant that she was dressed in postal garb, with a little patch of an eagle on her starched blue shirt.

She also answered the looming question, “What looks like a postal clerk but isn’t?” The answer we learned (and I will explain about later) is “A Postal Lobby Assistant.” Sadly, this is an actual job, and not just a punchline to the riddle.

The Postal Lobby Assistant asked the long-waiting man in front of us what he needed today.

The now-testy man said, “Do you have a stamp machine here?”

“I beg your pardon?” said the PLA, who seemed outraged that there was such a machine in existence.

“A stamp machine. All I need is one stamp for this bill.”

“No, sir,” said the PLA, who wrote something down on a scrap of paper. “But if you hand this to the next available employee, they’ll be happy to help you.”

“What is this?” asked the tired man.

“That’s what tells the associate what you need.”

“Well, hell, I don’t need that,” the old man said. “I can tell them myself what I need. I just need a stamp!”

“Well someone will be right with you,” lied the lobby assistant, and then she moved on to the next in line, which was us.

So the Postal Lobby Assistant position is basically an English-to-English translator of goods and services. Apparently the Postmaster General came to the conclusion that all postal clerks had IQ’s of 30 or lower and were incapable of comprehending customers' needs, but miraculously could still read the handwriting of an over-30-IQ Postal Lobby Assistant, and thus the position was born.

Before she could speak (or lie) to us, Other Bill made a pre-emptive strike and asked, an in incensed postal customer tone, “Is anyone working behind the counter?”

“What?” asked the PLA. Apparently she was partially deaf. I know she wasn’t stupid, because her IQ, by job description alone, was over 30.

“I said, is there anyone working behind the counter?”

“Oh yes. They’re just helping other customers,” said the PLA, lying through her insured teeth. “Now what can I help you with?”

She prepared her pencil and her scrap of paper, which was a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of an officially sanctioned US Postal Service form called a Lobby Assistant Checklist (see photo above).

“I just want six postcard stamps,” said Other Bill.

She wrote down on her scrap, “6 postcard stamps.” Apparently on the Lobby Assistant Checklist, there is no check box for stamps, because most people who go to the post office are there to order the veal cutlet, not stamps.

“Very well, is that all you need?” said the Assistant, as if she were actually doing something to help us.

Other Bill shrugged and said, “I guess that’s it.”

The Assistant then moved to the next person in line, which was now expanding.

At last, one postal clerk had realized that it was not his day to retire, and he came out and began a lengthy, drawn out philosophical discussion with a customer already at the counter about the five vs. nine digit zip code agenda. This diatribe forced the impatient man with the one-stamp need to give up and leave in a huff, muttering something about getting a got-dammed stamp faster at Walgreens.

“So, what, postal clerks can read English but they can’t understand it?” I rhetorically asked Other Bill. We just stood there laughing, and I insisted that he not give up the Lobby Assistant Checklist, but speak in his own voice when our time came.

Finally the one clerk behind the counter invited us to his domain and asked, “What can I help you with today?”

“I’d like six postcard stamps, please,” Other Bill requested.

“For Europe?” asked the clerk.

Apparently, postal clerks have been coached on confusing customers to get them to pay more for stuff they don’t need. Either that, or it was our Nordic broad shoulders, gleaming white teeth and thick blond hair that made the clerk think we were Scandinavian and were sending home well wishes.

“No, domestic, please,” I said.

“I think I have some,” he said, digging through his drawer. He rang us up and handed us our stamps, and we walked away. I looked down at the stamps.

There were four there, not six. We went back to the window.

“You said four,” the clerk told us.

“No, I said six,” Other Bill insisted.

“Oh okay, so you want two more?”

“Yes please,” said Other Bill. I paid him the change and got my two stamps, along with an apologetic glassine envelope to put all six stamps in.

As we exited through the glass doors onto Geary Street, Other Bill said, “See, if you had let me use the Lobby Assistant Checklist, he would have gotten the order right the first time.”

We laughed and headed to the Safeway. There was no way I was going to surrender that checklist. I needed it for this story.

That was yesterday. Today we walked up to the FedEx store and stood behind one person to get the Postal Lobby Assistant Checklist scanned to a jpg file.

“I’ll be right with you,” said the woman behind the counter.

“No hurry,” I said. Less than a minute later another FedEx employee came to the counter, apologized for making us wait, and then scanned the file to my thumb drive and charged us 97 cents. She then thanked us again for waiting patiently.

And unbelievably, she performed the entire transaction without having anyone to write it up for her.

I was going to say something about how the feds could learn something from private industry, but I guess that’s already implied.

Creative Commons License by Bill Wiley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

800 Kay Lay

Recently I read about a 28-year-old medical student who is auctioning off her virginity online. Bidding currently stands at $800,000. I won’t promote her to the two people who read this by posting the URL. You’ll have to find it yourself.

What was I thinking? I gave mine away for free!

Could someone help out this gay boy and make me figure out why a hymen is so valuable? I really do want to understand. People with my sexual orientation see post-coital blood stains on their penis as a cause for alarm, not euphoria. Can someone explain this to me?

In an effort to understand, I went to this chick’s website. She’s a skinny bleached-blonde, and proud of her green eyes, which I suspect are tinted contacts. The winning bidder will be treated to a 12-hour “date.” I wonder if dinner is on her or if that’s extra. The triumphant CEO who wins the prize (I’m assuming here, because who else has nothing better to do with that kind of dough?) agrees that he will either wear a condom or bring along a valid certificate (lab reports, maybe?) of being STD-free. Gee, you’d think that a medical student would know that one can be exposed to HIV and not test positive until months later.

And while you’re explaining to me the value of the hymen-pop, could you also let me know what straight man on this planet is going to pay close to a million dollars and wear a condom? What person is that? Someone with a latex fetish?

In the fine print, the winner agrees not to be violent with the Virgin (they capitalize it on the website). They also swear they will not penetrate the Virgin’s anus. I’m sorry, but for 800K, I would expect to have unbridled access to all orifices, including the back door, even if that didn’t appeal to me in the least (which, for the record, it doesn’t.)

The Virgin is using a pseudonym and is trying to keep her identity anonymous, lest she get canned from medical school. Yet she doesn’t have any qualms about posting pictures of her face, as well as of herself decked out in trashy Victoria’s Secret drag.

What’s funny about men is that we never pay attention to the post-orgasmic experience. Straight and gay alike, once we’ve finished, we’re ready to either go to sleep, take a shower, or, in Other Bill’s case, have a corned beef sandwich. We don’t recall any after-sex regret. We don’t remember the people we’ve slept with who were genuinely lousy lovers. We can’t recall times that we’ve wasted money wining and dining people, only to be disappointed to find out they have bad breath or never learned to kiss or just laid there looking at the ceiling or crying into their pillows. Whoever wins the Virgin is setting himself up for some serious buyer’s remorse.

If I were foolish and rich (is that redundant?) enough to shell out 800 G’s for a roll in the hay, I would want an iron-clad, money back guarantee that THIS roll in the hay would be the best roll in the hay I would ever, past and future included, experience. I’d want this written in:

If for any reason, the Successful Bidder takes part in sexual intercourse in the future which brings him greater pleasure, or has, in the past, experienced a better bang, the Virgin hereby agrees to refund Successful Bidder 100% of the fee, plus the restaurant tab, including tip.

What do men find attractive about sleeping with a virgin? Is it just the conquest? Bragging rights? Because when all is said and done, I would imagine that sex with someone with zero lovemaking logged hours would be lame at least, but probably pretty grotesque. I imagine that the Virgin’s nether parts are a little on the rusty side. She probably has a very angry va-jay-jay that is pretty upset about being ignored for almost three decades. What’s that word I’m looking for? Atrophy, that’s it.

The Successful Bidder agrees to not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the deflowering, but there is nothing in the contract about being impotent. And if you think about it, you know the Successful Bidder is going to be thinking about the money he just shelled out and won’t be focusing on the mechanics.

Jesus Christ, I paid 800 thousand dollars for this! What was I thinking? I could have gotten two more Ferraris for that. I could be behind the wheel of one of them right now. In Germany, on the Autobahn. And instead I’m in the sack with this standoffish whiner who isn’t even good at this. I’ve gotten better results with hundred dollar hookers. God, if my wife finds out I shelled out this kind of cash, I will NEVER hear the end of it. “Oh sure,” she’ll say. “You won’t spend $250,000 to remodel the kitchen in our chalet, but you’ve got no problem dropping 8,000 C-notes on some Internet slut!” Wait, what’s going on down there? Why am I not responding? This babe is a FOX. Everything worked fine when I was looking at the pictures on her website in my office. But now, in person, you choose to go on strike? What is wrong with me? C’mon. COME ON! WORK! Maybe I could get a divorce and marry this girl. Think of the money I’d save.

It’s too bad the Virgin has a passion for medicine and not law. The contract looks like it was written by a slacker whose parents wanted him to go to law school, but he dropped out the first semester to become a DJ. Instead of being full of restrictions and roadblocks, too much of it is spent on Definitions. To quote:

             “Auction” refers to the auction referred to on the Website
             “Bid” means a bid lodged on the Website
             “Sexual Intercourse” means insertion of a peepee into a hoohoo.

Nothing in the contract specifies what she’s not willing to not put up with. No limits. So let’s say her knight in shining armor decides the only way he’ll have sex with her is if they do it in a hot tub filled with, say, camel spit? Hey, I’ve heard a lot worse. Nothing in the contract forbids that, so she’d be stuck. 

The Virgin lists five reasons for why she’s doing this. One of them is the eroticism.
Perhaps this will lead me into the arms of a gentleman with a similar appreciation for these unique circumstances, and make my first time worthy of both the wait and lasting memory.

Nothing says unforgettable like losing your cherry inside a vat of camel spit.

But wait; back up. She’s expecting a gentleman?

Call me old fashioned, but I think the Virgin needs to lose her naïvete before she dismisses her hymen.

Creative Commons License by Bill Wiley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.