In which jocks and nerds are compared.

A Timeless Classic

Aren't we all the same?

I am a nerd. I know, this may come as a huge surprise to all of you, but I’m extremely comfortable with this fact. Sadly, most people are not comfortable with nerds. In fact, they treat nerds as second-class citizens (until they need their computers fixed). We nerds are different. Abnormal. We don’t act like regular members of society.

Or do we?

I speak not only from personal experience in this, but from my observations and discussions with other sub-humans (which is how nerds are often made to feel by “better” folk). What is it about nerds that make us such exiles from polite society? Yes, I know that there’s been a recent trend of “nerds are cool,” but we still have a long way to go before we’re allowed to vote and be in the military. Or was that someone else?

Not to trivialize the plights of other groups that are looked down upon in society, of course; I simply believe every single person has the right to be treated based on how they treat others, not on how they amuse themselves. A nerd will gain entertainment by sitting on their couch and watching Star Trek, or maybe logging in to a computer game and pretending to be an Elf. That’s pretty stupid, isn’t it? Most men my age would be sitting on their couch and watching football, or logging into a Fantasy Sports site and pretending to be a team manager. Oh, wait a minute… those sound remarkably similar, don’t they?

You see, nerds are exactly the same as anybody else, but in different areas than most others. Society thinks it’s weird how we remember how THAC0 and Armour Class interact, and how THAC0 was actually done away with in Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition (Editor’s Note: It’s a change I actually liked and thought made good sense). We think its weird how it’s considered “normal” to memorize decades of sports statistics and salary levels. We’re laughed at for not knowing how many outs are in an inning, but the reverse is rarely true; how often have you seen a group of nerds snorting derisively at a “regular” person for not knowing the difference between Shadowfax and Roheryn?

When I’m not among other nerds, I feel like I need to be constantly on guard. I work in a male-dominated business, so the topic of sports is typically the talk of the day. When customers (or coworkers who don’t know me better) attempt to involve me in these conversations, I feel immensely uncomfortable. Do I let them know my secret shame of ignorance? Typically, I just give non-committal grunts and smiles, trying not to come out of the closet and tell them I’ve no clue what they’re talking about. When I do let them know that I don’t really care for sports, I typically get shocked replies. One stranger even made the comment (and I quote) “what the hell is wrong with you?”

Is this really any way to be forced to live?

For those of you out there are are “normal,” I plead with you. For those who prefer Payton Manning over Clayton Forrester, do not judge us based on our preferences. For those who would rather watch Monday Night Football than Doctor Who, do not give us your scorn. For those who would rather look at Maria Sharapova than… okay, we look at Maria Sharapova, too.

See? We’re really not so different, after all!

Until there is no more discrimination against nerds everywhere, I’ll be lurking in the limelight.

Published in: on April 6, 2010 at 7:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

In which I ponder “Customer Service.”

The holiday season can mean as many things to as many people you ask. It could mean giving to loved ones, finally getting a gift you’ve always wanted, or the hassles of shopping for people you can hardly stand. There’s the Secret Santa at the office, the triumph of finding a parking space at the mall, and the charities ringing bells and knocking on doors to give to those in need.  However, in the commercialized blitzkrieg that has come to be a yearly tradition every December, perhaps it’s well-advised to take a moment to ponder the implications of this season on the people who perhaps suffer more than anyone else in these trying times.

I mean, of course, the poor retail workers.

In our capitalistic society, there’s a mantra that’s often repeated time and again in the customer service field: “The Customer is Always Right.” It’s a trite little saying designed to remind the lowly worker bees that the man screaming about the condition of his shopping experience has every right in the world to be upset. The customer is your paycheck. Without the customer, there would be no store to complain in. There would be no food on the table. Just do everything you can to appease Mister Forehead-Vein and when you get home, just add a little extra kick to the eggnog and try to forget your day ever happened.

In the modern days of shopping and consumerism, it seems that the public at large has forgotten that the poor sod ringing up your shoes or flipping your burgers is still a human being. Certainly you have every right to be upset in the face of gross incompetence; should you receive the wrong change after four or five times of explaining basic arithmetic, naturally you have proper grounding to show great displeasure. But more and more often, there are customers with a certain sense of entitlement that seem to believe they have absolute power over these gnats who dare try to make eye contact during their business transactions. How dare you check my identification when the signature on my credit card is smudged, knave? Don’t you know how much I spend here? I should have you fired!

Being polite and businesslike to a customer is absolutely not something that should be disputed. When a person walks through those doors, there’s no reason to not treat them with some respect. The issue seems to happen as something may happen to make the customer upset, and suddenly they become more important than those that quietly go about their day. The squeaky wheel getting greased fixes the obvious problem, to be sure, but there’s many other wheels that will become squeakier to get their hot, greasy action as a direct result. “You have to complain loudly,” mothers will tell their children, “because if you cause a big scene, they’ll give you what you want.”

Then, of course, that same mother will wonder why their children destroy the furniture when told to turn off the Xbox.

Whatever happened to “catch more flies with honey?”  Why does “customer service” need to equate to “unquestioned subservience?” The blame cannot fall on the belligerent customers alone; at least equal part must be placed on the management of the establishments. The simpering floor manager that apologizes for their employees behavior is just as much at fault as the shopper who absolutely knows that there’s more copies of that book “in the back,” and the computer system clearly is wrong.

This holiday season, after you wait in a long line and you plop your piles of presents upon the register counter, try not to be too hard on the poor schmuck that may accidentally have rung up the same item twice. Sure, you may have waited behind all those people for forty-five minutes to get to the cashier… but that cashier had to deal with every one of those people personally. Maybe she has a good reason to be a little bleary-eyed.

The golden rule of “The Customer is Always Right” should not be superseded by the original golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Until your holiday shopping and New Year’s celebrations are complete, I’ll be lurking in the limelight.

Published in: on December 14, 2009 at 3:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

In which I discuss a hellish, yet short commute.

trafficWhen I (unwillingly) transferred from an office thirty minutes away to an office in the same zip code, I consoled myself with the fact that my daily drive to and from work would be substantially shorter. I could even go home daily for lunch! How horrible could it be?

Well, funny thing; Fate hates commuters. If you don’t work from home, it is destined that there will be something in your path to piss you off on a regular basis. My drive to work is seven minutes in length. During that stretch of road, barely over a tenth of an hour, we have the following (in order):

  • Two liquor stores on the intersection of a major US Highway (Route 1).
  • A Cowan truck yard.
  • Railroad crossing.
  • School bus lot.
  • A warehouse with loading docks facing the street.
  • Donut shop.
  • Another railroad crossing.
  • Another Cowan truck yard.
  • My office.
  • County landfill.

Individually, many of these things would be a horrible pain in my posterior, but I think it needs to be pointed out how certain combinations of these things case me great rage, and thus why I feel the need to rant about them.

The Railroad Crossings

These are perhaps the single most frustrating parts of my short drive. Even though they are completely unused (or at least, I’ve never seen a train moving along them), they still cause the most hassle of my entire day.

You see, drivers in my area aren’t the brightest lot. For some reason, when they see a railroad crossing, they seem to believe that means they have to slow to roughly 2 miles per hour while crossing over them. It’s very lucky for them that no trains ever use the bloody things, else they’ll be smashed into bits for their crawling pace.

Compounding this further is the school bus lot between the two sets of tracks. School buses have to come to a complete stop at every railroad crossing. Since there’s an entire lot full of them, it’s not unheard of for me to be stuck behind several buses, each stopping for their own time at the tracks, and sometimes followed by old Granny Gurt and her fear of bumps. (Hint: Going over the tracks slowly makes them feel infinitely rougher than if you simply speed over them).

Oh, but it gets even worse; the county dump just past my building. This means that every local yahoo in a rusty pickup truck fills themselves to the brim with refuse. These are the folks who should drive slow over the tracks. It’s a lose/lose situation; they either slow down appropriately (thus annoying me – they’re moving too slow!) or they go far too fast (thus annoying me – their garbage is strewn dangerously about!).

The Liquor Stores

I’ve nothing against liquor stores, per se. Its the placement that bothers me, in this case. The parking lots for both stores are directly on the road, and that road happens to be US-1. That means that as I’m waiting at the red light (and it’s always red), people are trying to squeeze this way and that to get into the parking spots that I’m inadvertently blocking just by waiting for my light to change.

Why are people buying liquor at 8:30 in the morning, anyway?

The Cowan Truck Yards

Nobody likes being stuck behind a truck. They’re slow to accelerate, hard to see around, and rather loud. Being behind a truck that’s on it’s way to a long haul isn’t quite as bad; once they accelerate, they tend to stay somewhat fast.

Not so with my commute! There are not one, but two truck yards belonging to the same company. This means that most days, I am stuck behind a truck going from one yard to another. I don’t know what they’re doing that requires them to have two offices so close together, but it leads to the trucks staying at a very low speed as they put from one yard to the other.

The Warehouse

This one is actually rather simple. The loading docks facing the street mean that delivery drivers have to swing their trucks out into traffic in order to access the building. Even worse, Cowan never delivers to this warehouse. That means the truck in my way is never going to be a Cowan truck; thus I’m stuck behind said Cowan truck until it gets to their other yard.

The Donut Shop

I have to give it to them; they have good donuts! It’s very nice having a bakery this close to work. If it were a normal donut shop, it would be a non-issue.

But it’s not a normal donut shop. It’s disguised as a business park. I know, it sounds very strange, but when you look at the building housing the donut shop, you don’t think “hey, that’s a donut shop!” You think “hey, why are people walking out of that office building with boxes of donuts?”

The billboard for the shop is rather understated. That’s a shame; they really deserve more business. It’s also a shame because it means people slam on their brakes, either because they didn’t realize there was a donut shop there and they suddenly want donuts, or they were looking for the donut shop and realized they were just about to pass it.

Remember that warehouse I noted above? Directly across from the donut shop. Trucks waiting to get into the warehouse sometimes park right in front of the donut shop, thus causing even more problems as the place is now doubly camouflaged.

In Conclusion…

I had no idea just how much about a seven-minute commute I had to vent about until I started typing it out. Now I can understand why people rant online… it’s a bit therapeutic!

Until I get the inspiration to ramble on pointlessly again, I’ll be lurking in the limelight.

Published in: on September 16, 2009 at 8:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

In which I begin my blog.

I would have never thought myself to be the sort to put up a blog before.

Oh, for certain, I’ve put up my thoughts in various other places. I’ve had LiveJournal, done my fair share of Facebook status updates, and even ranted about various things on DeviantArt. None of that felt like writing a blog, however. This is the real deal. At least it feels real enough. It feels like the sort of things I’ve never done before.

Now, my reasons for even beginning this undertaking are a little vague; most of all to me. What made me want to start blogging? I’ve political opinions, sure; but I rarely advertise them, let alone debate them. The same goes double for my religious beliefs. I’m also not exactly the most outgoing of folk, spending most of my time indoors when I’m not at work.

However, I need an outlet. As a good friend pointed out to me just earlier this day, blogging can be a good form of “channeling emotions.” Being as my emotions are typically what control my daily life, I suppose I’d better get them under control. I’m hardly getting any younger.

I realize that this initial post is much ado about nothing; that’s somewhat intentional. Like any new thing to come into my life, I’m very hesitant and cautious, thinking I’ll make some sort of monumental mistake that brings it all crashing down around me. Ironically, that sort of worry is usually the very thing that causes the downfall of my projects.

Though, in all honesty, there’s a very good, overarching reasoning behind my sudden decision to plunge into this world.

I feel like it.

Until my next post, which will probably be my first post with any real substance, I’ll be lurking in the limelight.

Published in: on September 16, 2009 at 6:48 pm  Comments (1)