Job Description: Mall Kiosk Sales Associate

EARN EXTRA HOLIDAY MONEY AND BE A PART OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON!

Mall Location: Robinson Township Mall

Salary: $11.00

Intro:

As a Mall Kiosk worker, you have the ability to follow a multitude of paths to your ideal career.  We have several exciting categories of business including but not limited to:

–          High End Dog Biscuits
–          Mildly Offensive Apparel
–          Chemically Harmful Hair Treatments
–          Watch Straps (Assorted)
–          Acne Solutions
–          Retro-fitted Bathtubs
–          Calendars (Baby-Dressed-As-Animal, Animal-Dressed-Like-Adult-Professional, Australian Stud-Muffin, etc)
–          And more!

Essential Functions:

–          Looking disinterested and distracted for long periods of time.
–          Texting and other smartphone-related competencies (8-hours per day)
–          Half-assing sales pitches.
–          Lollygagging in the Food Court.
–          Paying little to no attention about the product you are there to sell.
–          Annoying women by asking them to do a makeover, doing half of it, then requesting that they buy the product in order to complete the makeover.
–          Eye-rolling.
–          Gawking at groups of college students.
–          Talking to that one Assistant Manager at GameStop.

Experience:

–          Absolutely no experience (preferred)

Closing:

Listen, times are hard.  Obama, right?  We know you have no vested, long-term interest in the financial success of any of these companies.  Seriously, that’s fine.  No big deal. We just kind of need someone to be there to ring up customers and make sure that teenagers don’t steal anything.  Follow your dreams today!

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The Heckler at the Pro Wrestling Show

This past weekend I went to a Pro Wrestling show in Monaca.  You know, because I was all done solving the mystery of the Higgs-Boson constant.  This show was billed as Extreme Rising with many of the favorite wrestlers from my youth: Stevie Richards, The Blue Meanie, Perry Saturn, Shane Douglas, Rhyno, Sabu and my favorite New Jack.

Everybody say cheese….grater!

I like to think that comedians are pretty similar to pro wrestlers.  They travel from town to town, put on a show for a little bit of money and their contributions to society are heavily under-appreciated.  So I felt a little kinship walking into the Community College of Beaver County Golden Dome.  I saw Perry Saturn’s trying to sell his t-shirts, Rhyno posing for pictures with fans, and the club promoter checking the audio levels.  It felt all too familiar.  I must have got caught up in the pre-show atmosphere because I felt a real urge to pace nervously back-stage.  But I was going to be a spectator now, so the pressure was off.

The first several matches were great, lots of good action accompanied by some hilarious/incendiary mic work.  The peak of the night came in the middle of the card when two lightweights put on an aerial display.  The crowd was really into it.  The following match had high expectations too.  It was Sabu against Devin Storm in what was billed as an “Extreme Rematch.”

Keep in mind, both Sabu and Devin Storm have been brutalizing their bodies 200x a year for the past two decades.  They’ve broken bones, received concussions and smashed their faces with steel chairs all for our entertainment.  Sometimes I’ll complain about my chair at work not being ergonomic and slightly uncomfortable.  Then I think about poor Sabu’s working environment.

Think of this barb-wire match next time you start banging your mouse on the desk because Outlook won’t open.

What I’m saying is that compared to the expectations, the match was slow.  Pretty boring.  The crowd was lulled into a quiet murmur while the two combatants struggled their way through. And not two minutes went by before a heckler showed his greasy little head.

I tried to pay no attention to the heckler, but it was impossible his sarcastic commentary rang through the Golden Dome.  He continued harassing every wrestler throughout the rest of the event.  Even if the rest of the crowd was into what was happening in the ring, they were quickly snapped back into apathy by the constant heckles.

“This. Is. Boring.”

“Did you guys get the AARP discount to wrestler tonight?”

“This would have been better in 1997!”

I noticed people gradually paying more attention to the heckler than to the matches they paid to see.  Some people were laughing, others annoyed.  But the heckler’s mission had been accomplished.  He had diverted all of the attention onto himself.

This is what I realized: Being a heckler takes absolutely no skill or risk.  This guy went to a focal area of attention (a wrestling ring in this case) and chipped off pieces of that energy and slipped them into his pocket.  It takes skill and dedication and time to make it into that wrestling ring.  It takes no skill to shout obnoxious things to people who in theory he was there to support.  He probably found it easy to be bold while, cloaked in anonymity, another shadowy face in the crowd.  He’d never, in a million years, say that to anyone’s face.

I won’t go as far as to say he ruined the show but he definitely made it more difficult to enjoy.  I wanted revenge for these performers.  But I’m a comedian.  I can only use my words.  I would have rather done something like this to the guy:

But I didn’t.

Grown Men Fight for the Affection of Someone’s Dog

York, PA –  Attendees of the Aubrey Carrenton’s High-School graduation party were unaware that they were in the midst of a power struggle.  “To be honest, I thought it was getting a little weird,” said Amy Fitzpatrick, an older cousin of Aubrey.  Two party-goers subjected other guests to their annoying, albeit subtle, battle for the affection of some random dog.

Kurt Mayo arrived at the party around the same time as Tyler Dixon, both friends of the family.  After dropping off their presents and filling their paper plates with rigatoni, they focused their attention on the Carrenton’s German Shorthair, Blaster.

“No he seriously like keeps coming up to my side” laughed Dixon.  “He’s my new sidekick.” 

Fourteen seconds later, Blaster made his way over to Mayo.  “He’s just loving the fact that I rub his belly.”

Not to be outdone, Dixon called Blaster away from Mayo by whistling and mimed holding table scraps.  “No he really likes having his ears scratched,” Dixon said. 

The battle that ensued lasted throughout the night, both parties refusing to give up fighting for the affection of a creature that eats its own vomit.  As Mayo and Dixon became more inebriated, the lavish attempts at dog-bribery became dangerous.  “Here boy, want a Twix Bar?” Mayo asked of Blaster, holding a piece of candy down to the floor.  Mayo only retracted the candy after being scolded by multiple people who said the chocolate crunch might kill the canine.  “A little bit won’t hurt,” he muttered repeatedly. 

The most brazen move of the night was when Dixon, perhaps fueled by one too many Vodka and Sprites, decided to scoop up the 13-year-old dog and hold him in his arms like a baby doll.  “The chicks were going nuts for that,” recalled Dixon, who was reached for comment afterwards.

The battle ended without a clear victor and both Dixon and Mayo left the party without closure. 

Blaster proceeded to knock over a candle in the living room and then went to sleep on the couch in the basement.

The Open-Mic

The haze of cigarette smoke fills the backroom of the Corner Café in the Southside.   Nowadays it’s practically impossible to find a bar that has this smell anymore.  It’s a terrible, God-awful stink.  But there’s something connective about it.  I’m out of the HEPA filtration zone at my office.  I’m with others.  I’m with their germs, their whiskey-breath, their hang-ups, their sense of humor.  And it’s just plain nice.

One white spotlight burns onto a black stage.  Glasses full of Yuengling are being lifted to thirsty lips then set back down on skinny wooden tables.   A crowd of students from Duquesne asks if they can borrow a chair from a pack of people from Mt. Oliver.   I’m 6th in the line-up of comedians, so for now I’ll sit back and enjoy the show.

Several comics parade past the stage, each one bringing a different sensibility to a joke.  There are some who are polished and precise.  There are others who showcase thoughts so vile and unconscionable, that it makes the crowd squirm.  These comics believe nervous, uncomfortable laughter is still laughter.  The audience gives appropriate feedback though, remaining silent during particularly bad gags.  Voting with laughter. 

I go on stage, do my shtick, get off the stage and return to my beer.  Now that the pressure is off, I really relax and observe.  The next comedian, James J. Hamilton, goes on stage with a Bible.  Using the perfect mix of thoughtfulness, delivery and content, he cites passages from the Good Book verbatim and uses the language to paint a twisted picture.  Then it hit me: this no-name, dive bar on the outskirts of the nightlife in Pittsburgh is perhaps the last outpost of truly free speech.  There are no expectations for safety.  No assurance that you won’t be offended.  There is only a promise of comedy.

The disappointing thing is that the Corner Café is rarely packed.  It’s not an easy place to locate.  It’s not a place to be seen.  It’s a cave of anonymity.  It’s dark stage and smoky clouds obscure the vision and dirty your clothes.  But there, you can laugh freely at whatever you wish.  You can finally take all the pent-up frustration and twisted thoughts you have and just wait for someone else to say what you’re already thinking.  There will be no record of what happened tonight.  No employers running background checks or people Facebook tagging.  The night itself will dissolve into a thin vapor that will dissipate with the changing wind.  You may notice several days from now, something sticking with you.  It might be the way the one comic talked about his Grandpa, or the thing that other comic said about car insurance. 

My point is that these open mics (embarrassing, offensive, or just plain unfunny as they might be), are still important.  It’s a platform of freedom.   It’s a return to the beer-soaked taverns where whispers of rebellion first found open ears. 

You may say that I’m over inflating the importance of a piece of crap barroom where sad souls can talk about their issues like some type of mass therapy session. 

You may say that.  Isn’t that beautiful part?  You can say anything you want.

Election Night

The Obama family sat watching an old Seinfeld re-run on the TV.  A hotel room had become synonymous with home for the incumbent President.  He spent the last 7 months in the air, on the road, talking a fire halls and Veteran’s Hospitals and all manner of diners.  It was good to just sit.  He tussled Sasha’s hair as she texted her friends.  “What’cha hearing out there baby?  Any good news?”  The polls were looking good.  Very good so far.  CBS, NBC, CNN and HuffPo all had the Chicago native projected to win.

“Daddy none of my friends really care if you win.  They’re just mad The Voice isn’t on tonight.”

“Hey, I’ll be glad when it’s over too,” Barack said, patting his daughter’s back.

“You mean, when you win,” Michelle chimed in.

“Oh yes,” he said.  “I definitely want to win and am going to win.”

He looked at Malia.  She was 14 years old.  Going to be driving soon.  She’ll need a Secret Service Agent to take her to the DMV.

David Axlerod, chief campaign advisor rushed in from the other room.  “Mr. President,” he said, a smile creeping onto his face.  “I have Mitt Romney on the phone.”

The President picked up the Blackberry.  He sighed.   If he never exchanged another word with Mitt Romney, it’d be too soon.

“Hi there Governor.”

“Good evening Mr. President,” said a crackled voice over the phone.  Romney was in Dallas or Salt Lake City or God Knows Where. “I just wanted to congratulate you on your campaign.  I’m conceding New Mexico and the election.”

Oh…

“Really?”  Obama said.  There was a brief silence.   “Well, thanks Mitt, I guess.”

“Goodbye, Mr. President.  And congratulations.”  The phone went silent.

Obama took a deep breath. He exhaled through his nostrils and shook his head slightly.  He looked at his family and then back at a stack of papers.  He had to sign an executive order, look over some recent fatality statistics from Afghanistan, and review a recent Supreme Court briefing on why police can’t use dogs to search a private residence without a warrant or some bullcrap.  He’ll probably need to release a statement about it sometime next week.

“Well?”  Malia asked her dad.  “What happened?”

The President looked at his family.  “I won.”  His face curdled in disgust.  “Goddamn it!”