Monday, December 16, 2013

Vote "Yes"

Lady yelling at me from across the parking lot: "Would you like to sign a petition to legalize medical marijuana?"

Me: "Hell yeah. Bring that over here."

Lady: "Medical marijuana has many medical benefits such as--"

Me, signing: "Lady, you had me at 'marijuana'. Here you go."

Lady: "Thank you very much."

Me: "So you got any?"

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Store Story #662

Recently, an elderly couple came into our store in Naples, Florida to discuss some aspect of their account. The lady, somewhat heavy-set, moved quite well and set in her seat with ease. The gentleman, skinny and slightly hunched over, with wisps of gray hair futilely covering his balding head, struggled to his chair. I asked how I could help.

She began discussing her issue, but soon started blinking her eyes in the sunlight that was beaming through the near window directly at her face. Her husband immediately noticed this, struggled back up off his chair, bent slightly over, awkwardly reached out, and with both hands formed a shade that blocked the sun from her eyes.

He looked--well, he looked like an idiot.

"Oh sweetheart," she said. "Please, you don't have to do that."

He replied that it was no problem, just continue.

"I had eye surgery a decade ago," she told me. "I'm supposed to be careful with sun exposure, but I haven't really been sensitive to it for years." She acted frustrated that her husband was in this weird position near her.

But her acting wasn't very good. Her lips curled up slightly at the ends and there was a sparkle in her eyes. Her knight in shining armor was protecting her.

So, sitting behind my desk, seeing this old man looking like some kind of breathing gargoyle playing first base, and this old lady, sitting prim and proper, hiding a smile while she has a weird shadow over her eyes, it hit me what exactly I was looking at.

I was looking at true love.

In that moment, there was nothing more important to that man than his wife, and weird position be damned, he wasn't going to let anything hurt her. I wondered if I would ever love someone that much. I decided I definitely would. Someday.

I also decided that true love could make a man look pretty stupid.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Store Stories #829

It caught me off guard when the door chime rung. Its beeping is usually unnecessary, since sales reps in our stores generally see our customers coming from their vehicles in the parking lot. But I never saw a car pull in. A short, older gentleman with thinning salt-and-pepper hair walked inside. He was probably in his 70s. I’m trained to give a warm greeting when someone comes in, but he beat me to it.

“Hello,” he said with a huge smile and strong Italian accent. “How is this day treating you?”

I instantly liked him. There are some people that carry themselves in such a way that they exude positivity. I could tell this is how he greeted everyone. I returned the greeting.

“I’m having a problem with my smartphone,” he started.

That string of words is all too familiar to wireless reps, and none of us like it. It means:
A. I’m not selling anything.
B. I’m about to spend a lot of time not selling anything.

But it’s part of the job, and I thought I’d enjoy his company, so I listened intently and eventually resolved his issue. He graciously thanked me. He followed that by asking, “So, how’s business?”

“Eh, it’s Summer,” I responded. In Florida, everyone knows that means it’s slow.

He nodded politely, and then seemed to search for another topic. “Well, at least you can catch up on other things in your life.” He smiled.

Immediately I recognized that he didn’t want to leave. In Florida we get a lot of elderly customers that seem lonely and starved for conversation. Sadly, sometimes we have to find ways to ease them out for the sake of business, but this time the store was empty and heck, he was so damn pleasant. I engaged him.

“Yeah, I’ve kept myself pretty busy. Been hitting the gym a lot, riding my bike, and…”

I hesitated for a second. I tell maybe one out of every twenty customers about my double life.

“…and, believe it or not, I have a night job. I’m a standup comedian.”

His eyes lit up. “Really? How exciting! How did you get into that?”

Usually, it’s a story I’m pretty sick of telling, but I jumped into it with him. His enthusiasm was infectious. Soon he knew about the blogging, my old phobia of public speaking, the first time I got on stage, pretty much everything. I also admitted that while I’m excited about what’s going on in my comedy career, I’m getting pretty old to be chasing dreams.

“Preposterous,” he replied. “It’s never too late. I can tell you have a passion for your art. Don’t ever give up on your dream. I think you’ll make it. No, I’m positive you’ll make it. If you have the talent, the passion, and you never give up, you can’t fail.”

He then shook my hand and gestured like he was going to leave. Then he stopped, smiled again, and seemingly to emphasize his point, he repeated himself. “I’m serious. Do not give up on your dream. I fully expect to see you on television someday.” And with that, he got up and left.

I never did see how he got to the store.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

My earliest memory of my father is when he was in his late 20s, and took me with him to pick up a new 1974 Chevy Impala. I was three years-old at the time, so the memory is not much more than an image and an emotion, but the image is of me looking out the front window from the passenger seat, and the emotion was pride—as if I had bought the car—and seeing Mom come outside as we pulled into our house in Pensacola, FL.

(Funny side story: Dad got in BIG trouble with Mom for not bringing her car shopping.)

Dad was in the U.S. Navy for my entire childhood, and couldn’t always be there for my sister Lori and me, but I knew he wanted to. When he was home, he assumed the role of “Dad” perfectly: he played with us when we were good and disciplined us when we weren’t so good. When he was away on some months-long deployment, he’d write us letters telling us he loved us, and always buy us things from whatever country in which the U.S.S. Nimitz was in port.

One of my favorite memories is standing on the pier at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, waiting for the Nimitz. I was about seven at the time, but even to a full-grown adult a Nimitz-class nuclear carrier is a gigantic thing to behold. The tradition was for all the sailors to be on deck, in their Navy whites, waving to the crowd below. For Lori and me, it was a game of trying to pick out Daddy. At that distance, though, it was futile. But we had no problem picking him out when he came off the ship, and as we ran into his arms screaming “DAAAADDY!” We let Mom get her hug and kiss in eventually.

As I got older, I played the role of the typical stupid, long-haired rebellious teenager, and got into a lot of trouble with the law. Once this required a court appearance where I had a lawyer and there was a prosecuting attorney whose job was to sentence me. I was acquitted, but I’ll never forget who was standing beside me, supporting me, the whole time: my straitlaced, military-bred Dad.

Dad has been an amazing father to me, as well as an incredible husband to my mother. If I end up being half the man he is, I’ll feel I’ve done a good job in this life.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Where's my Dos Equis Tryout?

I've written for a blog that had thousands of readers. I've worn the UPS uniform. I've gotten on stage in front of hundreds of people, with a lone spotlight on me, and made them all laugh. I've seen the Latvian National Latvia. I'm on a comedy podcast. I once carried on a three-hour conversation with a Russian fashion model who couldn't speak English.

I've written freelance sports coverage for the local paper. I've made out in a red London phone London. I've sat in a jail cell for a crime I did not commit. I've been interrogated by The Netherlands equivalent of the TSA in Amsterdam, while hungover. I danced the night away with a professional dancer in the Philippines. I've been in at least two motorcycle accidents.

I once got a private message from Louis CK on MySpace. I got lost late one night in Cancun, Mexico and had to walk a long, lonely stretch of road half drunk and pretty sure I was going to get kidnapped. I also met a sexy Canadian flight attendant down there who taught me what a "phallix" is. I never watch TV. I call a lot of girls "ex-girlfriends" that I never once called "girlfriends". I once scored the only '100' on the Real Estate exam, then never became an agent.

I've been broke. I've been rich. I've been in-between. I've been heartbroken, though I'm not sure I've ever been in love. Todd Glass once handed me a joint. I had to perform the day after one of my close comedian friends died, I bombed, and the only thing I felt was numbness. I've seen the world from the top of the Empire State Building.

Every single thing I've written is absolutely 100% true. That Dos Equis guy can go fuck himself. I'm the most interesting man alive.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

About five or six years ago, I was riding as a passenger in a car where the driver noticed an immigrant-looking woman walking with two small children on a long, empty sidewalk. The three of them were by all indications neither near their starting point nor their destination. The driver made a joke. I didn't laugh.

I immediately thought of my mom. She’s Filipino, having moved to the United States shortly after marrying my dad in 1969. For several years, Mom didn't have a driver’s license, and would have to run all her errands on foot. This was especially difficult when my dad, who was in the Navy, was on a months-long deployment in some ocean. She had no choice; she had two young children to raise. Shit had to get done. Groceries had to be bought. Kids had to be taken to school.

My memories of this time are scant; she got her license when I was in about 3rd grade. But one that does stick out: When we lived in Springfield, Missouri, we rented a small two-bedroom house with no air conditioning, which over the Summer Mom decided was intolerable. So we went, by bus, to buy an air conditioning unit from a department store.

Have you ever tried to lift an air conditioner?

I have no memory of the sales people or which store we bought it from, but I can only imagine what they were thinking when they saw my tiny 5”1’ mom and me—all of six-years-old—lug that unit into the parking lot and off to the bus stop.

Then up onto the bus. Then down off the bus, for the long walk back home.

I often wonder what it was like for Mom, moving to an entirely new country, not knowing anyone, not having any family nearby, responsible for two kids, with my dad gone for months at a time. But I know this: she never once hinted to my sister and I that it was hard on her. She was always loving, supportive, and positive.

She’s definitely been a hero to me, and the best Mom a son could ever have.

Happy Mother’s Day, Norlina P. Simmons

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

NYC Trip Update II

I'm posting this from the train station in the Woodlawn area of the Bronx, sitting on the steps pretending like I'm a New Yorker. Everyone here seems to be coughing, sniffling and hacking, so I fit right in. This Goddamn cold hit me the day before I left for the Big Apple, and hasn't left me since. It's been more committed to me than any of my last three girlfriends. I'm starting to fall in love, I think. What's a good engagement gift for phlegm?

The last seven days haven't gone exactly as planned, but what a whirlwind. Upon arrival at the apartment of fellow comedian Devin Barnes (and his beautiful girlfriend Ashley Hughes) my body told me: "It's time to sleep for about a week". I had a temperature, cold sweats, a sore throat, and congestion. Devin asked me if I wanted to rest for a couple of days. Yeah, right. I'm in NYC. No stupid fucking cold is stopping me. It'll probably be gone in a day or two, anyway.

(Author's Note: that last sentence was repeated by me every single day of this trip. I'm now pretty sure I'll have a antibiotic prescription in my future)

I'm on the train now. It's packed. Where are these people going at 10:38 at night?

I've only performed twice this whole trip. I really thought I'd get on stage more, but shit happens. More importantly it's been eye opening seeing the comedy up here. It's just...different. I'm based in Florida, where most of the crowds are either rednecks or octogenarians that are a broken hip away from death. They want simple, easy to understand jokes. Here in New York, you can write complex multi-layered bits and the crowds actually get it. I'm like in heaven.

Shit, I need to hit "Post" because I'm about to lose service in some damn tunnel. I know these statuses are weird and unevenly written, and I swear, the moment someone pays me for this shit I'll worry about that.

I love you all. Make me famous.


Wednesday, May 01, 2013

NYC Trip Update

I'm currently at about 30,000 feet in a Delta airplane the size of a tube sock. I hate everybody in here. I'm sitting on the aisle and fantasizing about tripping everyone that walks by. If we crashed it would suck because I would die, but everyone else getting killed would take the edge off.

Okay, I know I sound bitter. I'm on three hours of sleep. Plus, I have not been sick in two years and NOW my dumb ass body decides "hey, why not pick up a hacking cough so everyone on the plane loves you?" Yeah, trust me, if I died no one on this plane would shed a tear.

In case you're wondering, I can post this because I paid for Internet access for my phone. OF COURSE I had to pay. Just like I got charged $25 for checking one bag. I'm pretty sure on my next flight there'll be a pay toilet. They'll also announce "due to worsening economic conditions, we no longer pressurize the cabin. For your convenience, we do offer oxygen for $30 per hour. Please enjoy your flight".

I'm on my way to New York City to perform comedy. And they just announced I have to turn my phone off. Don't rob my house.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


Facebook looks back at me in grayed-out words and and asks "How's it going, Joseph?" like it gives a shit. It doesn't. It just knows that getting you to post something--anything--is the key to facebook. Heck, it's more than the key, it is the everything of this "social network".

Facebook produces no content, it just organizes billions of megabits of keyboard diarrhea into easily digestible forms for consumption by an increasingly A.D.D.-afflicted population. It's a wonderfully programmed, sterile, blue-on-white-on-blue sublimation of desires to have an actual social life. It looks back on you and asks, "what can you do to get your Likes and Comments today?" And in your attempt to get your rat pellets, you produce page views, which produce ad images. The picture you just uploaded of your toddler with cookies on her face just bought facebook's campus a new park bench.

The word "everything" in my first paragraph? I wanted to italicize it for emphasis. I couldn't, because facebook doesn't permit that. Too many options for the commoner. Facebook is created to crush creativity to the point where no one stands out, meaning that everyone feels comfortable. Hey, MySpace allowed creativity, and we all know what happened there. Bad things, man. Bad things.

If Facebook commits crimes against creativity, Twitter is a serial killer. 140 Goddamn characters. That's what you get, fucker. Now even NBA players can be twitterific. Christ, did I just type that word?

I'm not complaining. This post has no point. I don't even know what the problem is. But I just decided that NyQuil is the solution.