The Book of Despair

  1. In the beginning there was the Uncaring Universe. And the Uncaring Universe did not give a shit about you or your problems
  2. And, behold, the Uncaring Universe did look upon the vastness of space and say “that’s a lot of room. I should put some shit there”. And the Uncaring Universe did shit upon the space.
  3. And when the Uncaring Universe had shat upon space, it gazed upon its shit and it did say “Meh. Good enough”
  4. The Uncaring Universe did gaze upon its shit and it saw that one of the pieces was a little less shitty than the rest.  And it said “I should do something about that.  I will create Man and place him upon the less shitty world that he may cause the world to be more shitty.
  5. And the Uncaring Universe did place man upon the face of the Earth that he may go forward, multiply, and cause The Earth to be shitty.
  6. And shit happened
  7. And one day Ian the Campbell was born.  And behold, that was bullshit, because that was not his real name
  8. And Ian, whose name was bullshit, did grow into a man
  9. And Ian, whose name was bullshit, did wax wise in the sophistry of men.
  10. And behold, Ian, whose name was bullshit, did inflict his sophistry upon willing readers
  11. And thus he spake unto his willing readers
  12. “Willing Readers, this I desirest thou to know:
  13. People Suck
  14. When someone you’re not related to welcomes you to “The Family”, turn and run like a son of a bitch
  15. Whenever a manager uses the word “proactive” in a sentence, you know something is about to suck
  16. If wishes were fishes we’d have some to fry
    1. (Corollary)  Actually, If wishes were fishes, they’d probably all get that disease where the fish literally puke their guts out and die and float to the top and all the other fish would devour the dead fish–or wish–in an orgy of cannibalism.
  17. If someone preemptively assures you that something isn’t going to happen, you can count on it happening
    1. (Corollary) If someone preemptively assures you of anything, then they are full of shit.
    2. (Corollary) If someone preemptively asserts that they are or are not something then they probably are, or are not exactly that thing
  18. The bigger the pickup, the bigger the asshole at the wheel
    1. (Corollary) The bigger the pickup, the smaller the penis on the asshole at the wheel
  19. Suicidal teenagers are fucking annoying
  20. Teenagers who think they are Vampires are fucking annoying
  21. Teenagers are fucking annoying
  22. They have mobile phone coverage on the Summit of Mt. Everest now.  Climbing Mt. Everest has jumped the shark.
    1. (Corollary) The phrase “jumped the shark” has, itself, jumped the shark
  23. The driver’s side windshield wiper will always wear out before the passenger-side
  24. The shitty-ness of the music is directly related to the loudness to which a teenager will feel compelled to turn up the volume
  25. The internet is full of shit
    1. (Corollary) People on the internet tend to be full of shit as well
    2. (Corollary) …and they don’t know when to sit down and shut up
  26. Everyone thinks that no-one loves music as much as they do
  27. When picking up a take-out order from a restaurant, the special order you have to double-check before leaving will be at the very bottom of the bag
  28. In the parking lot, that stupid person meandering aimlessly in front of you will be parked right next to you
    1. (Corollary) They will also drive the way they walk
  29. Whenever someone comes into your office, the most embarrassing song on your your iPod will come up in shuffle.  No matter how many un-embarrassing songs there are to choose from.
  30. Nothing profound has ever been said on Twitter
  31. Nothing profound will ever be said on Twitter
  32. The further away from New York you were on 9/11/2001, the more likely you are to wax rhapsodic with affected pathos about The World Trade center on any given 9/11.
  33. Everybody thinks that they are more like grumpy cat than anybody else
  34. Wikipedia:  A million nerds can’t be wrong
  35. Unless they’re talking about women, in which case a million nerds are always wrong
  36. All internet comments sections are headed to the same destination:  a huge dick-waving contest.
  37. You will hit every light green when you just need 10 more seconds to finish surreptitiously sending that text message from your car.
  38. Everybody thinks the drivers in their town are worse than everybody else’s town.  The truth is everybody is a bad driver everywhere.
  39. Jaywalkers will always run across the two lanes you’re not in, then walk across the lane you are in
  40. Any person who declares that they were educated at “the school of hard knocks” or “the school of life” on Facebook is 99% likely to not only be catastrophically ignorant, but also noisily proud of their own ignorance.

The Fire that Lasts Forever

The Fire that Lasts Forever

By on November 21, 2018 in Airports, Tales from the Road

A story of travel and the durability of the human spirit.

Imagine that it is January, 2002. In rapid succession we have had 9/11, the anthrax scare, and the Shoe Bomber. When I had planned this trip to Venezuela six months ago, no one knew how psychotic air travel was going to get. It ended up only being a handful of days after the Shoe Bomber incident but that seemed like a thing we could deal with. Take shoes off at security, got it. As if this were not enough indignity, I had to fly through Miami airport. I loathe that airport. I have no documented proof but I’m pretty sure they let a toddler on mescaline plan the layout. I’ve been trapped in that airport against my will more than once and this certainly colors my opinion of it. I was facing a route of LAS -> HOU -> MIA -> Whatever-the-hell-Venezuala’s-Airport-Code-Is where I’d have to spend the night in Miami either on the airport floor or in a nearby hotel before flying out the next morning. I had done this dance on my way to South America before and while the floor of MIA might seem gross, dirty and bug infested, I’m not sure it was any more so than the nearby, affordable hotels.

LAS to HOU was uneventful but there was a problem in Houston. Do you think pilots say to Houston air traffic control “Houston, we have a problem” any chance they get? I know I would. I’ll bet this is an occupational hazard. “Houston, we have a problem, our plane is out of peanuts.” There is no way I wouldn’t wear this phrase out flying into that city.

The problem in Houston was of the more mundane variety. The plane I was supposed to board and fly in to Miami had thrown some sort of a mechanical alert. Some light was blinking or the rudder fell off or they found squadron of bats in the left engine. I don’t know exactly. The outcome was that we weren’t getting out of Houston anytime soon. Voices were raised. Tempers were flared. Supervisors were contacted. Vouchers were issued and a bus took us all to a nameless nearby hotel to let us get a handful of hours of sleep before heading back to the airport to try it all again in the morning which it did hardly any hours later.

Surprisingly enough, they weren’t being overly optimistic about sending us all back to the airport because there really was a plane which departed without incident. It was dark and cool. The engines hummed just the way I wanted them to and I settled in to catch some much needed rest. The only problem was that I couldn’t fall asleep. I wanted to sleep. I needed to sleep. All of that was true and yet, I was wide awake and feeling like death.

Oh the humanity…

I finally gave up the charade and reached for my book. I had a big fat biography to engross myself in or maybe it would pummel me to sleep. I was good either way. Or would have been if I hadn’t left the book in the hotel.

There’s nothing quite like an in flight magazine and a skymall to pass the time. Nothing that hasn’t been imagined by Dante as toture, that is. God help me, it was all I had. I read every word, cover to cover. They say you use everything you ever learn and I hope to prove that true someday. If I ever land in St Louis I’ll know the top 5 hottest breakfast venues of 2001 without even using the Internet.

I was standing there impotently holding an unlit cigarette, no more able to do something with it than your average, thumbless primate.

I deplaned in MIA. I was so tired I was hallucinating and I was also starving but we had landed so early in the morning nothing was open yet. There was only one thing left to do, I was going to go have a smoke. This wasn’t the 50’s. I was going to have to go outside to take care of this. Past the secure zone shopping which was irritatingly closed, past the security area watching the people forced to take off their shoes for security, past the insecure shopping which was also irritatingly closed. I walked past it all and out the front door. That is when I realized I had a problem.

The shoe bomber. The shoe bomber had made us all give up all methods of making fire. I had abandoned my lighter long, long ago (was it really only 12 hours ago?) to a judgemental security guard in Las Vegas. I didn’t know if he was judging me for smoking or being stupid enough to have a lighter in my pocket while trying to get on a plane but judgement was rendered and I was found wanting. I was standing there impotently holding an unlit cigarette, no more able to do something with it than your average, thumbless primate.

This is the moment I started fantasizing about leaping in front of a shuttle bus. Would I still be here to write this today if one was moving quick enough to release me to death’s sweet embrace? Only deep and quantum physics will ever know the answer to that.

There I was, eyeing shuttle buses and calculating velocity, when I caught a whiff, a whiff of sweet, sweet burning tobacco. By sheer luck I had come out the door near the official smoking area. I couldn’t see it, but that smell doesn’t lie. I followed my nose around the corner and there they were, what Stephen King called “The Ten O’Clock People”: The smokers.

The smoking crowd is one of the most egalitarian of all groups. Pilot or flight attendant, janitor or CEO, soccer mom or an effervescent, twitching urban camper, the smoking crowd accepts all who show up and I wanted to join the group.

In my younger years we would call this maneuver “Monkey Fucking” and it was something a dude would never do to another dude…

I casually strolled up to the edge of the group and did my one-man show I like to call “Where did I put my lighter”. I pat ineffectively at my pockets before letting an exasperated sigh sneak out and look at the person nearest me. “I forgot they confiscated my lighter in Vegas, can I bother you for a light?” The man I address this to I will call John because if you imagine John Candy in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” and subtract a couple hundred pounds, you’ve got a very close picture. He chuckles and says “Yeah, mine is in an airport trashcan in Toledo. I think Bic’s stock is going up this month” and he reaches over and grabs my sad, unlit cigarette from my hand and lights it from the end of his lit cigarette and gives it back to me, gloriously lit.

In my younger years we would call this maneuver “Monkey Fucking” and it was something a dude would never do to another dude but, if you were lucky, you might light a girl’s cigarette this way, preferably with each person having their cigarette in they’re own mouth. It was as close as I got to kissing a girl for a long, long time.

It was an oddly intimate moment, shared with a stranger and after an entire day of travel seemingly designed to bring out the worst in us all, it was a kindness I didn’t know I needed until it happened. I chatted with him until his smoke was done and he went off to brave the airport. I decided to light another for myself from my already lit cigarette, thinking it felt vaguely masturbatory. I also had to admire the efficiency: that was 3 cigarettes off of one flame between his and my two. I wonder if the person who lit his had actual fire or if it was also a bit of monkey fuckery. This led me to ponder how many smokes got lit, tip to tip, in this group and how often an actual flame showed up to renew the cycle. I hadn’t seen a single person with a lighter or a match the whole time I was out there. I stood out there and watched the group. Ever shifting and changing. New people coming in, old veterans of the group hustling off and not a fire to be found. Someone came up next to me and performed their version of my famous one-act play and I reciprocated as I had been taught. I stood, smoking, and just watched the glowing embers get passed from traveler to traveler.

I don’t know if it was the sleep deprivation or solitude but in that moment I saw this incredibly diverse crowd helping each other out and I thought of all the stories I’d heard of people protecting Muslims (or Sikhs or any other vaguely Middle Eastern looking people) from getting bullied and harassed. Where it seemed like every day the government was using these tragedies and events to divide and separate us and we weren’t taking it. Not everyone, anyway. Not this group. This group was a single, nicotine fueled extended family where the fire was passed from person to person with no regard to gender, religion or social standing. I fantasized that the originating fire had been lit somewhere in previous days and might possibly never be extinguished. That I could show up in Miami a week from now and see the same thing and get a light off a cigarette that was in fact an ancestor of one I had lit myself.

I didn’t want my theory popped but I had to satisfy my curiosity so I lit another one for myself and watched. My theory held true the whole time I was there. I was a part of the group for almost 30 minutes and never saw a flame show up. I lit 2 newcomers to the group (a personal record!) and then my last smoke was gone. I left to continue my journey feeling better, and not just because of the cigarettes.

About the Author

About the Author: Edgar is a man who has a hard time settling on things. Living in Mexico, Nicaragua, Colombia, Arizona, West Virginia and Nevada before finally settling in Washington State. That final move explained as "after a life lived in disgustingly hot places, the sight of a gray, rainy day calms my soul". He fared no better in the work environment trying food service, retail, mining, shipping and customer support before figuring out what he really wanted to do was make websites and write for Radio Free Last Vegas. .

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