Breaking Bad-der

My dark side has led me to this.  I just watched the entire Breaking Bad series on Netflix, and unassuming Mr. White was on to something big!  This was a guy I could relate to.  In fact, the similarities between us are remarkable!

  • Just turned 50
  • full on mid-life crisis
  • Spending way too much time in our underwear
  • Look awesome in sunglasses and a goatee

Walter White

Heisenberg

Other than his health issues, we’re practically the same guy.  Heck, we both even have a Brother-in-law who works in law enforcement.

Naturally, Walter White’s little foray into entrepreneurship ended badly for him, but I think I figured out what his problem might have been.

He chose a product that was lucrative, but meant dealing with the most unsavory and unpredictable group you’re ever likely to run across. That was his fatal flaw…literally.

My plan is a bit more pedestrian that cooking crystal meth, but under recent municipal legislation, just as likely to get me busted by ‘The Man’.  The upside to dealing in things of an illicit nature is people who want your product will pay big bucks to get it, and are motivated to keep their yaps shut about where they got it.  “Loose lips sink ships” as they say.

The key is finding a product in high demand, no one else is making, and can be distributed quietly without raising suspicion.  The answer was right under my feet – herbicides.

Thanks to heavy political pressure from the environmentalists, our local governments banned all types of residential weed killers.  The herbicides disappeared off store shelves faster than half-priced foam fingers at a Miley Cyrus concert.

One thing the government should have learned from the early years of prohibition, is that demand will always be there, and when something is suddenly made illegal, felonious characters come out of the woodwork to fill the need and make a pant-load of cash along the way.  This is where I come in.

Homeowners are faced with few options now that the Panda-lovers outlawed lawn sprays.  They can get down on their hands and knees, pulling those nasty yellow weeds out by their roots, or they can give up and surrender to this plight to their grass.  It’s in their dirt stained, desperate fingers that I will deliver their sacred nectar.

Contraband dandelion killer will be the next crystal meth for my community.   I even have my own ‘Jessie’ to help me with distribution.  There’s a little kid who wanders around the neighbourhood all day with nothing to do.  He seems to know everybody and would never be suspected by the tree-hugging police.  He’ll give out some small samples.  Maybe even spray an entire lawn as a show of our awesome power over weeds.

Poor desperate gardeners will come begging for more.  One squirt and they’ll be hooked!  Demand will outstrip supply, which will drive up the price. Economics 101, right?  I might have to move my operations from my garage to a mobile unit to stay ahead of the green cops…a Winnebago?  Yeah, I can see it now, cooking my special blend, hidden in plain sight, maybe at an unsuspecting campsite where the transient population is used to looking the other way.

I’ll have to move my product around.  Too many perfect lawns in any one neighbourhood will create suspicion. It’ll be important to stay ahead of the nature fuzz.  I might even have to leave my own lawn a semi-dead weed haven just to throw off their scent – just like the way Walter drove that Aztec around even though he could afford a Ferrari.  It’s a sacrifice I’m prepared to make to stay ahead of them.

My plan is fool-proof.  Nothing can stop me!  After this long winter, everyone will pay whatever price I set for my secret herbicide, to ensure they have the best looking lawns around.  Balancing my fame against total anonymity will be the real challenge. This whole plan should keep me busy until mid-June when the current crop goes into hibernation.

Hmm.  Let’s see – it’s almost May now.  With the new equipment and raw materials I’ll need, and with the free samples to get the word out, giving my ‘Jessie’ his share, I think I should just about break even….maybe that’s no better than breaking bad, now that I think about it.

I’m sure something else will pique my interest – I just started watching Dexter.

 

 

 

 

 

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The humility of being humbled

There’s few things more gratifying than watching some loudmouth get put in his place.  You know the guy – usually drunk and obnoxious, bullying everyone else until he gets clocked by someone half his size, or his pants fall down, showing off his Buzz Lightyear underwear…or no underwear at all!

Mortified, he runs for cover while everyone laughs at him.  At least, that’s what you hope for.

There’s gotta be a million You Tube videos out there of karmic revenge on the annoying or stupid.  We love the modern telling of David and Goliath.  Rooting for the underdog against a jerk-faced foe is something we can all relate to.

In Hollywood movies, it’s the villain who is the most annoying, hated person and ends up with the most spectacular death scene, not only getting shot 100 times in slow motion, but falling into a pit of molten metal, while being eaten by zombies or something.

But, have you ever been that guy (or girl) who is the unwelcome star of these little vignettes?  C’mon, sure you have.

I was retelling a story the other day about something that happened to me a long time ago that kind of fits this scenario.

For the record, I wasn’t drunk, and I was just doing my job.  I’m sure, though, that the other characters in this little scene were just as pleased as those watching the bully run away with his pants down.

I had a job once where part of my duties included making sure that my customers followed some expected level of quality, since they represented our products to the world.  This could make things a bit tricky at times, seeing as I needed these customers to buy stuff from me, but I also had to act like a Mom telling her kid to clean his room….without the folded hands and tapping of the foot….you know the look.

I used to wear a suit.  Not because I had to, but because I thought it was important to look professional….what a jerk!

Anyway, I had to meet a customer who’s business was in desperate need of the ‘angry Mom’ look.  The owner was very casual and would always tease me about wearing a suit all the time, ‘Geez!  Even the Mayor doesn’t dress like that’.

Fully suited up, just to make a point, I parked a block away from the store, again making a point about giving the best parking to the paying customers, and walked into the rear entrance of the store.  Very smug and probably abusing my power, I’m quite sure they were not happy about this visit.

As I walked the store with the owner’s wife, pointing out how bad the business was, I started to notice a foul smell.

I said, ‘Another thing.  Do not smell that?  It smells like dung in here.’

She acknowledged that she too smelt it, then motioned at my shiny dress shoes.  I looked down at the same time, and saw where the smell was coming from. I guess somewhere on my pretentious strut to the store, I stepped in a steaming pile of doo-doo.

I glanced back to see the owner on his hands and knees, scrubbing the disgusting footsteps I had taken all through the place.

I turned as red as the goal light at a Leafs game!

Mortified, I carefully took off my shoe, and hopped out the back door to find a stick.  I think I just went home after that.  Any sense of superiority or authority was left on the stained carpet behind me.

Of course, I had no way of making an elegant exit from that train wreck.  I think I mumbled something about why there would be horse poop on the sidewalk outside the store in the first place, then quickly got in my car, and drove home with one shoe on.

I stopped wearing a suit after that.

The Awkward Shopper

I’ve been out doing back-to-school shopping with my kids.

Now that they’re older, with one in university and one in her last year of high school, the old list has changed a bit.  No more backpacks and colored pencil cases.  Now it’s modular shelving and office chairs.

We still managed to drop almost a hundred bucks at an office supply store, getting stocked up on extra paper, binders and pens, just for old times sake.

Today’s shopping was with my wife and daughter – my son, thankfully, was spared (and we were from him) from being subjected to ladies fashion and shoe stores.

While they happily browsed racks and racks of various sizes and styles of outfits, I was in charge of purse-holding, and rack leaning.  The rack leaning becomes a fine art after about 20 minutes of standing next to your ladies while they hold up outfits and say “‘what do you think about this one?”.

Leaning on the rack is the only thing that keeps you from falling over altogether, since these stores are clearly designed as a shopping marathon, and not a shopping leisure event.  No comfy couches, no televisions, no coffee machines.  This is ALL business, mister!

The endless line of clothes that dizzy the eye and the hours of standing on your feet, trying to stay engaged in the shopping process is not the worst of these outings, though.  It’s not even heading to the cashier with an armful of garments to hand over your credit card, or holding the purse – does any guy know how to hold a purse properly?  Really – I’m asking.

The big challenge is knowing where not to look.  Wandering eyes for any man in a ladies clothing store has to be the trickiest part of the process.  Standing there in the store, holding up another rack of clothes (hopefully not underwear), you have to refocus your eyes so that you don’t slip into unconsciousness.

It’s during this ‘refocusing’ that things can get dicey.  You look out, further than the rack directly in front of you, trying to recalibrate your vision, when you realize that you are looking directly at a woman holding up some slinky little number against herself.  This is coincidentally enough, the exact moment that she catches your nonspecific gaze at her.

Nothing can feel more creepy for either parties.  You’re trying your hardest to quickly look away, like you were never looking at her in the first place (which you really weren’t), and she, I assume, realizes that there’s a creepy dude staring at her while she sizes up outfits.

Awkward.

If you’re really lucky, you might catch the eye of another poor male soul, trying his best to look natural in this most unnatural of settings.  There’s a common bond in these unspoken connections – brothers in arms, fighting the good fight for the sake of our precious relationships.

There’s sometimes a silent nod – ‘Hey, brother, I feel your pain.  Hang in there.  You’re taking one for the team’. Somehow, we find comfort behind those desperate glances.

At least we know that we’re not the only creepy stalker dudes hanging out near the undergarments.

Of course, when your lady heads to the change rooms, there’s a whole other level of awkwardness going on.  Now, you’re standing outside the change rooms where ALL the women come out to get opinions on their finds.  You don’t know whether to quickly look away, or give a thumbs up on what they’re wearing.  You’re busted – no way out of it.

That’s one area of the shopping process that you can’t skip out of either – they want your feedback.  They need your feedback.  So, you have to standby and wait, again trying to look natural, leaning against something you shouldn’t be leaning against, hoping that when you hear that change room door open, it’s for you.

If the people who design ladies apparel stores were smart, they’d set up ‘Man Cave’ zones, where we could be within sight lines of our lovely shoppers, but sit in comfort – maybe they could have a TV set up somewhere – heck it doesn’t even have to be on a sports station – the Weather Channel would be better than the alternative.

I know this all sounds rather sexist, but I tell you, it won’t work in a Men’s store, because men don’t shop – they buy.  We pride ourselves not on the great purchase, but the great speed at which we made the purchase.

We’re not in there long enough for anyone to get sore feet or stand awkwardly against a rack of ties.  And we don’t try things on, either.

“Hmmm.  This plain white shirt seems okay, and it comes in large.  I’ll take it”.  Done.

When we get home, and put it on, it might fit – it might not.  If it doesn’t, that’s okay, because the old one was perfectly good – just a couple of stains.  We’ll just keep wearing the old one, kind of like our underwear.

It’s a wonder that the fashion industry hasn’t figured this all out yet.