Grafton Times

What are you doing this weekend?

I hate Friday. Friday is when people ask you questions to which they don’t want answers. “Got any plans for the weekend?” They don’t give a shit.

This is, of course, not an original observation. But, sometimes we forget the important things about life, like why Fridays are shit.

We forget that when anyone asks us on a Friday for our next 48-hour itinerary, they don’t give a fuck. They’re just waiting for you to finish, so it won’t seem like bragging when they brag about going  to Cirque Du Soleil, or their grandmother’s 100th birthday party, or some other stupid shit.

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It’s annoying to answer that question, so my suggestion is a life-hack. And it’s free. When someone  corners you at the cooler, in the kitchen, in the middle of taking a shit and you’re like, “aw, fuck, it’s Friday”, YOU ASK THEM FIRST. Then, as they start going on about how their grandmother is turning 100, just walk away.

I tell you it works for me. Even after I lost my job, nobody has ever asked me what my weekend plans are. I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m in business for myself now, and I work alone, in my home-office, and I haven’t had plans for the weekend since 1998. These days, an exciting weekend for me is “Liking” other people’s weekend plans as they get posted on Facebook.

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It’s fun, low-risk, weekend activity. Today, in fact, several members of my family are tentatively planning to get together. And it all happened in the comments of a Facebook post. I totally Liked that. And I would probably think of going for a few minutes if I lived in their city, and we were still on speaking terms. In any event, we can all learn something from me. You don’t have to have plans to enjoy your weekend. And you don’t have to work in an office to hate people. That’s what Facebook is for.

 

 

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Some injured people are very rude

I didn’t see the Grafton Residents Association newsletter in the mail slot until it was too late.

The single-sheet circular announced a General Meeting on April 13th, which had already passed.

Jacquie and I weren’t too disappointed to miss out on the fun.

Me and the old-lady just moved to the neighborhood, so we had yet to accumulate a list of grievances of sufficient length to warrant the meandering, slobbering public harangue we’d always looked forward to making as proud homeowners.

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You can bet your life the GRA will get an earful from me next meeting, when I excoriate their tardy communications, no matter how indifferent I am to checking my letterbox.

Who the hell wants to check their mailbox? It’s either a bill, an advertisement, or a letter from your grandma without a check inside. It’s all bad news.

I’ll probably lead with that in my remarks to the GRA at the next meeting. I’ve got 20 minutes of material already. I haven’t even gotten past complaining about my grandmother yet.

In retrospect, I started looking forward to addressing one of the agenda items a week too late, after all. Bummer. Item 4: Local Issues was right up my alley. It read, I mean It still reads (ie, I haven’t twinked it yet):

A number of local issues have been taken up with Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and others. For example, we have received complaints about some helicopters going to and coming from the hospital, taking short cuts across the residential area. This has caused noise problems, especially at night.

Having mistaken myself for a journalist in the past, I instinctively put out some feelers. Communicating with the inside sources was very deep throat, very cloak and dagger, very click-here-for-more-information. They helped me to clarify to myself, in time for the next GRA meeting, in what direction I will publicly spew my bilious indignation.

They confirmed that Westpac Rescue Helicopter had received complaints, Westpac apologized, and their pilots are once-again faithfully adhering to flight paths designed to mitigate noise in residential areas. So, no darms. Another bummer.

Speaking strictly for myself, I thought,

Man, it takes a bit of cheek to complain about a rescue helicopter making noise. Aren’t people in rescue helicopters literally at death’s door? Isn’t that, like, their main qualification for being in the helicopter in the first place? Doesn’t bad shit happen all the time? Isn’t it better to land a patient as quick as possible so that they don’t die, or end up a vegetable that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer funding to maintain its oh so special existence? Did I amend my will to make sure Jacquie DOES or DOESN’T unplug me if I end up in a coma? I really should get that will sorted out. Maybe I’ll bring this up at the next GRA meeting.

Then my thoughts trailed off to something else entirely.

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The point is, at first, I thought the complainers were being assholes.

But then I remembered what a light sleeper I am, and how cranky I can be without at least a solid seven. What if a helicopter rushed over my house at three in the morning because someone in Dargaville let their kid stay up all night drinking Jack Daniels and riding their bicycle into telephone polls. Is that any reason for me to be irritable and tired the next day?

You may think that’s a really mean thing to write. I used to be as naive as you. Look at all the benefits to society that delaying medical treatment to a head trauma from Dargaville—or any place. I’m just picking names out of hat, really. Do we really want that drunken kid mixing his (demonstrably undesirable) DNA with the old national gene pool? No, because he’ll grow up to sire kids that will get drunk and ride their bicycles into telephone poles. You see what I mean?

That’s how I started coming around to the other way of thinking. I live across the road from the hospital, and though the helicopters don’t fly overhead any more, these hospital people and me, we don’t see eye-to-eye all the time, as you can see from Episode 3 of my webseries Let’s Get Fixed.

 

And really, at heart, I’m all about being a good neighbor. I look forward to fighting with all of them.

Grafton’s despicable hordes

I never wanted to be a parent.

Kids just didn’t seem like anyone I’d want to spend time with. Don’t know why.

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It’s not that I despise children, with their exasperating need for constant attention, their volatile emotional states, their ‘live and let live’ approach to hygiene, their nonexistent social skills, and their psychotic conversations.

It’s just that, I despise children. How irritating, then, that I now live upstairs from a kindergarten.

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I know I’m coming across as a babbling old fart shouting tired clichés about kids playing on someone’s lawn, but there’s a very good reason for it, which I’ve now forgotten.

Oh, right: I like children as individual people. In fact, some of my best friends have children, as far as I’m aware. And all my nephews and nieces are cool beans.

It’s when kids form hordes, clamoring like armies of Orcs disguised as ugly children, that they become instantly despicable. Kids in groups are the people my parents instructed me to avoid when I was growing up. While other kids were outside doing sports or stealing shit from the deli, I was sitting quietly in my bedroom, hands folded on my desk, waiting to turn 18.

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It has taken me since that time to become an actual adult. I haven’t wet myself  in years, I rarely simper in public. And now Jacquie and I bought this flat.

My personal equity until last month had never matured so much as rocked back and forth in the fetal position. Owning a home has foisted great responsibility on my shoulders to convince other people that I’m mature. It’s a duty I take quite seriously.

 

Our apartment is a funky walk-up, a short walk to Karangahape Road, in one direction, and the Auckland Domain in the other. And as one reader pointed out, it’s a very convenient place to be hit by a bus, because Auckland hospital is right across the road. (I’ve already taken the time to introduce myself to the emergency room staff).

Our home would be perfect, if not for the horde of Orc-children downstairs.

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The other day, one of the them was shrieking and sobbing in the playground. For about six hours. I got so pissed off, I finally went to the window and screamed, “I’ll give you something to cry about.” Then I told her how much money was in my checking account. One of the teachers heard what I’d said and scolded me for scaring the children, who had all run inside. Mission accomplished.

After that, the teachers would shoot cold leers of indignation in my direction, whenever I happened to pass the window. They didn’t like my attitude toward the children, and they were furious last Monday, when I got a little drunker than usual for a work day at noon. A terrible commotion downstairs drew me to the window. One boy was beating up another, and that made me angry. So I lit a cigarette, topped up my Jack Daniels and marched right to the window and screamed at the bully.

“Leave that kid alone, you little bastard,” I said. Then I pointed to myself and said “This is you in 39 years.”

Then I tossed the Jack Daniels out the window, and it splashed all over the kid’s Spider Man costume.

Then I flicked my cigarette at him, hitting him in the eye. It was a lot of fun watching him try to explain to his teachers why he reeked of alcohol, to say nothing of the cigarette butt still smoldering at his feet.

Those teachers need to relax about the whole incident, because I was simply trying to illustrate that in New Zealand, anyone can grow up to be the kind of person who smokes cigarettes and drinks heavily in the middle of a work day.

So, not only did I stop the bully from beating his victim, I also put the fear of god in him, using my life as an example.

They should be paying me.