Saturday, January 18, 2014

Worst Jobs

I recently had a discussion with my wife about what we considered the worst professions to be in. Here are a few of the strongest candidates:

Infant Tattoo Artist – Endless release forms, overbearing parents, and delicate skin with the surface tension of a moist Kleenex are just a few of the challenges facing practitioners of this underappreciated art form. On the plus side, it is unlikely the client would regret a decision that they were never given the opportunity to make.
Congressional Marital Counselor – Rampant infidelity, unpredictable hours, and an inflated sense of self-importance would certainly keep your calendar full. Not to mention that your entire day would consist of trying to coax an admission of wrongdoing from a member of our Federal legislative body. The only bright side would be the creative seminar names like, “Are You Emotionally Sequestered?” and “How to End the Intimacy Filibuster.”  

Facebook Conflict Mediator – These brave souls would attempt to defuse social media feuds utilizing the very communication medium that initially created them. In-laws won’t speak to you because of a thinly-veiled status update concerning their parenting choices? Co-worker giving you the cold-shoulder after you tagged them in a photo with the hashtag “creepersauce”? Simply inbox your local Facebook conflict mediator and watch as the social tension melts away into your timeline. I can haz reconciliation?

Keith Richard’s Physician – What kind of advice could you possibly offer a 70-year old rock star who claims to have cured himself of hepatitis C through sheer will power? Medical science is powerless to explain this man’s continued existence and you are forced to look him in the eye and advise him that he reduce his bacon consumption. When Keith quit heroin there was a measurable drop in Afghanistan’s GDP and you are going to chide him about dietary restrictions?

Federal Prison Concierge – Never has “Is there anything I can do to make your stay with us more enjoyable?” been such a loaded question. Sure you may get tired of deflecting requests for contraband flatware or female companionship, but where else can you expect a Christmas bonus calculated in unfiltered menthols?  Also, dinner reservations tend to be a non-issue and “de-lousing coordinator” looks good on anyone’s resume.    

Hate Group Spokesperson – While it may not be the most sought-after position in the public relations arena, the talking points should be reasonably consistent. Most of the questions from the press could be answered by memorizing a few phrases like, “Yes, we still harbor an intense dislike for blacks, Jews, and ambidextrous Methodists” or “In the event of inclement weather, our annual three-legged (master) race will be held at the community center.”

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pimpin' Aint Easy

I consider myself a student of unique lawsuits, so I was intrigued when I read about the story of Oregon-based short term relationship consultant Sirgiorgiro Clardy. In June of 2012, one of Mr. Clardy’s clients refused to pay one of his independent contractors for her services. Following a brief discussion, Mr. Clardy began stomping the client’s face outside of a Portland hotel before forcibly relieving him of his wallet. Soon thereafter, he beat the 18-year old independent contractor he had forced into service to the point her ears bled. The client required stitches and plastic surgery to repair the damage.

As a result of the encounter, Clardy was convicted of second-degree assault and robbery amongst other legal transgressions. As it would happen, Mr. Clardy was wearing a crisp pair of Air Jordan sneakers at the time of the altercation. A fact which he has come to believe played an integral role in the events he was convicted of. For that reason, he recently filed a $100 million lawsuit against Nike for failing to provide “adequate warning or instruction” concerning the “dangerous product” that caused “personal injury in the likes of mental suffering.” He alleges that the Nike Corporation failed to inform him, as a consumer, that their footwear could be a dangerous weapon when used to repeatedly step on the face of another person. Nike has yet to respond to the lawsuit.
Mr. Clardy
While some might label such litigation “frivolous”, perhaps this young entrepreneur has a point. How is he, as a small business owner, to know that his sneakers were capable of causing injury and mental distress? There was certainly no disclaimer on the box informing him that said footwear could be a potential source of unpleasantness when forcefully applied to the jaw of a client. Is it really too much to ask for Nike’s legal department to produce a blanket disclaimer for Air Jordan packaging?

Caution: Nike sneakers are designed, produced, and sold for the purpose of various athletic pursuits in accordance with all local laws and ordinances. Their utilization by west coast pimps to curb-stomp a john over an invoicing discrepancy is strictly forbidden.

To me, the biggest mystery is why he felt it necessary to beat the prostitute for the client’s failure to pay. Being unfamiliar with the standard operating procedure in these cases, I wasn’t sure if it was customary for the servicer to be expected to check for financial solvency before performing services or if that aspect relies on the honor system. I assume it hasn’t gotten to the point where the pimps are using Square on their iPads. What would he even yell at this poor girl, “How many times have we gone over the closing procedures Daphne!? Do I need to get you another copy of our mission statement!?”

Just as disturbing as the details of this incident, are the comments that appear below the story on The Oregonian’s website. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly any forum for Internet commentary can devolve into a political debate.

It was unclear how “lamer” ascertained the political ideology of Mr. Clardy (as I have yet to hear either party run on the Pro-pimp platform) but soon enough another reader labeled him as a “another brain-dead conservative cliché spewing moron”. This eventually led to a disagreement about which political party spent more on footwear before culminating in a heated discussion about gun-control. Is this how far we have fallen? Unable to simply agree that a violent felon filling frivolous lawsuits is a meritless pursuit, we now find ourselves speculating on his voting record in order to validate preconceived notions about other people.

Those that chose not to participate in the partisan melee supplied cringe-worthy puns:

I am trying to recall the last time that the commentary section of an Internet news story contributed anything to the collective wisdom of modern society; but I suppose one could make the same observation about a blogger that takes the time to editorialize on said commentary…

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Can I Help You?

One of my favorite phrases is “Can I help you?” By altering nothing more than voice inflection and context, it can convey anything from a helpful countenance to a hostile attitude. Let’s say that you walk into a store, and despite taking note of their cryptic aisle signage, are still unable to locate a can of Rotel. Exasperated, you approach a nearby employee and just as you are about to ask for their assistance they smile and say “Can I help you?” In this particular case, their body language expresses approachability and a willingness to assist in your search.

At the other end of the spectrum is the “bank line” scenario. Let’s say you are standing in line at your chosen financial institution waiting to cash the 41-cent check you received from a class action suit against Pontiac, when you notice that the individual to your right is talking rather loudly on their phone. Unbelievably, the conversation consists mainly of their retelling of an inebriated Friday evening. Around the time they utter the phrase, “Dude, how was I supposed to know she was 16? What am I supposed to do, check the ID of every chick I hit on at Roller City!?” you realize that you are clearly staring at this person in disbelief. They place the phone against their shoulder, look directly at you, and ask, “Can I help you!?”

Even though this individual utilized the identical phrase of the store employee, it is apparent that they have no desire you assist you in your search for dry goods. Instead, they earnestly wish to convey that they have taken note of your interest in their conversation and find it disagreeable. How the scene plays from here depends greatly on your response. You generally have three options:

1.      Feign surprise that they have even taken notice of you, shrug your shoulders, and sheepishly check your deposit slip for the eighth time.

2.      Politely suggest that perhaps they might wish to consider discontinuing the conversation in mixed company.

3.      Inform them that although their dogged pursuit of underage girls at a skating rink is infinitely fascinating to the rest of us, it might behoove them (and their soon-to-be-filed statutory rape case) to choose a more secluded venue for bro-time.

Taking the first option would be the most advisable way to avoid antagonism, but would result in being further subjected to Fast Eddie’s hot-pretzel themed pickup lines. The third option will lead to either a fisticuffs or an enduring friendship so you decide to take the middle ground. This is the approach most likely to win you the silent adoration of your peers but avoid being garroted by a wallet-chain.

My wife recently had occasion to employ the more hostile of the “Can I help you?” incarnations. After hearing a faint knock at our front door, she discovered a man standing outside the window where our son was napping. She stepped out onto the porch, cleared her throat, and said, “Can I help you?”

In the south this is a thinly veiled way of asking “What the hell are you doing on my property?” As it turns out, he was a plumber that I called a week ago to look at a burst pipe that had since been repaired. However, he clearly understood the implication of my wife’s question as he quickly identified himself and apologized disturbing her.