Asshole in an Audi

I was driving home on Santa Monica Blvd. and a guy in a new Audi A5 passes me on the right which is not a lane then cuts in front of me before he hits the parked cars.

This shit happens all the time but it’s one of the biggest douche moves. And since I frequently have road rage, I decided to teach him a lesson.

I merged left and waited for an opportunity to pass him. Fortunately, the left lane did go faster than his lane at some point and I did nudge ahead of him for a second. I made my move.

I signaled, of course, and cut in front of him. Then I slowed down equal to the car next to me so he’d be boxed in. I could see in the rear view mirror that he was going nuts. He swerved left but that car was going too slowly. He merged right behind me again. I literally laughed out loud at all the frustration I was causing this guy.

We got the light at Westwood and he managed to pull up next to me. So I rolled down my window and motioned for him to do the same. He did.

I said, “Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?”

He said, “Go fuck yourself.”

The light changed and he literally burned rubber.

Does this count as talking to strangers?

Chloe, Meet Michelle

Michelle and I were hanging out at the Farmers’ Market in Brentwood when I saw the pet adoption sign.

Normally, Chloe works in Santa Monica on the weekends, but for some reason, she was in Brentwood this time. I thought about avoiding her, but why should I? She dumped me after all. And it’s not like I needed to prove anything to Chloe but still I couldn’t help feel excited at showing off Michelle to her.

So we went up to the adoption area and I said, “Hey, Chloe.”

She turned and saw me. I said, “This is Michelle. Michelle, this is Chloe.” Now Michelle already knew who Chloe was so it was no big deal but Chloe had no idea who Michelle was.

Chloe said, “Hey, nice to meet you.” She turned to me and asked, “How is Tad?”

I told her he was doing well. You could tell she missed him and suddenly I felt kind of bad. I mean, Chloe never really did anything wrong to me. So I said I would bring him around some time.

Michelle said she was going to look at some strawberries. That’s one thing I love about Michelle. She’s very secure in our relationship and had no problem excusing herself so Chloe and I could catch up.

After some small talk, Chloe said she thought Michelle seemed perfect for me. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that but she seemed genuinely happy for me. It hadn’t been that long since we were together but I had already forgotten how nice Chloe is. So I said to her, “You know, Chloe, I’m sorry things didn’t work out between us, but I just want to say, you are one of the nicest, most sincere and generous people I’ve ever met.”

Chloe smiled and said, “Wow, if you would have said stuff like that, we’d probably still be together.”

She laughed and I went to find Michelle.

Another Poker Douche

Gunther invited me to a poker game at his place last night.

Normally I’m not much of a poker player but I’ve been feeling down lately, like I’ve lost some of my talk-to-strangers mojo, so I thought it would be good for me even if I lost my fifty dollar buy-in.

When I sat down, I knew Gunther and his sidekick Gordo. The other four guys I didn’t know. So in between lulls in the play I asked questions, mostly stuff like, “How do you know Gunther?”

That in itself is always a good one since Gunther doesn’t have a real job and knows people in the weirdest ways. One guy literally said, “Skydiving camp.”

One of the guys was a heavy-set douche with a beard who not only won a lot of hands, but told everyone what they did wrong to lead to their loss. (This is the second time I’ve played poker this year and that table had a poker douche, too. What’s up with that?) Everyone seemed to know him and his douchey quality and they just ridiculed him mercilessly, like “Hey, maybe if you spent less time reading poker books you might get laid this year.”

I did not enjoy listening to him tell me how many outs I had or what my pot odds were. So when he went after me one too many times after I lost a big pot, I said, “Jesus, man. Do you have Aspergers or something? Can’t you just tell when people have had enough of your little ‘helpful’ comments?!”

The table went kind of silent. Then the guy said, “Yeah, I do have Aspergers. Sorry if I upset you.”

Shit. I turned totally red. Obviously everyone else knew this but me. Thanks for the head’s up, guys!

At the end of the night, I apologized and said I didn’t know. He apologized, too. And then a weird thing happened. He said Gunther told him about my project, and was wondering if I could tell him about it so maybe he could get better at meeting people.

So it just goes to show you, that for every poker douche out there, there’s some actual mental disorder (or trauma) causing it. I think I’m going to help this guy.

Seminar Fail

I don’t know what’s gotten into me but I totally failed at a seminar I had to go to yesterday.

I had to do this training seminar on new federal regulations and there were about fifty bankers from ibanks all over the city in a hotel yesterday morning listening to some guy bore us all to tears. And what’s amazing is that I didn’t talk to a single one of them.

I walked in, got my name tag, and surveyed the buffet breakfast. I’d already eaten and I was being good about not eating the same meal twice, though there was a large tray of bacon which I easily could have eaten all by myself. People were milling around waiting for things to start and making small talk. But for some reason, I just didn’t have the energy (or maybe it was lack of courage) to start any conversations. I knew one guy from my firm and I talk to him for a while, but I didn’t meet anyone new.

During the breaks, people went back to talking to the people they already met earlier so I felt like the window of opportunity was closed. I felt like I was the odd man out and that feeling of being the awkward guy who doesn’t know anyone really brought back some bad memories. And what’s worse, I felt paranoid that people were paying attention to my lack of buddies, so I pretended to check emails on my phone to look busy. So pathetic. I was so embarrassed. I haven’t felt like that since freshman orientation in college.

Anyway, I wish there were some twist to the story where I pulled things out, but I didn’t. I just kept to myself, failed to socialize in any way, then as soon as it was over, I got the hell out of there.

Cell Phone Lady

I found a cell phone in the parking garage this morning. It was newish, in good condition, and it worked. So I took it to a pawn shop and sold it for ten bucks.

Just kidding. I did the only thing you can do in a situation like this. I called home.

A lady answered. “Hey, I think I found your phone.”

“Oh, my God, you’re kidding me! I’ve been looking for it all morning.”

She asked where I found it and she said it must have fallen out of her purse when she was at an appointment this morning. We made arrangements for her to come by my office during lunch to get the phone.

When she arrived, she was a lot younger and prettier than I thought she’d be. I don’t know, she had an older lady’s voice but this woman was in her twenties.

When I met her in reception and handed her the phone she was so thankful. She said, “My life is on this phone.” I told her she should get a program to remotely wipe the data if she loses it. She thanked me, then she reached into her purse and pulled out some money. She said, “Here, this is for you.”

I felt incredibly awkward. I said, “Uh, it’s okay, you don’t need to pay me.” Then she turned a little red and put her money away.

She said, “I’m sorry. Well, how else can I repay you? Maybe I can buy you lunch some time.”

Something about the way she said it, I was pretty sure she was asking me out. Totally weird. I just said, “Uh, no that’s okay, I have to get back to work. Take care now.” And I turned and left.

I called Michelle and told her about it. Not that I was feeling guilty or anything, I just thought it was weird.

Michelle said, “I can see I’m going to have to keep my eye on you.”

El Pollo Loco

I was in the mood for El Pollo Loco for lunch yesterday. Don’t ask me why. I just felt like it was time to go back.

So I drove to the El Pollo Loco and ordered the three-piece combo. Oddly, the place was jam-packed. No open tables and the counter was full, too. So I waited by the salsa bar until they called my number, and when I got my food, I scanned the place for empty seats at tables occupied by friendly-looking people.

Being a people person with a lot of experience talking to strangers, I picked a guy in a shirt and tie (like me) sitting alone at a table for two. I walked up and said simply, “Hey, there’s no empty tables, mind if I join you?”

He looked up at me and said, “Fuck off.”

Seriously. I was actually startled by the reaction. I didn’t even respond. I just turned and walked away.

This guy totally crushed my confidence for the day because I went back to the counter and asked them to wrap my order to go. Then I ate the food in my car.

Tile Guy

Michelle is redoing the bathroom in her condo, so I went with her to look at tile at the flooring store.

This is something you do when you are a good boyfriend, which I am. The reason I know this is because Michelle said, “You’re a good boyfriend” after we left the store. And yes, she did use the term “boyfriend” so I am feeling pretty secure about our relationship so far.

At the tile store, they have samples hanging on the walls, leaning on display stands, and basically wherever there’s any spare space. Michelle went off to look at sample with one saleslady and I wandered around for a bit. Something occurred to me and I turned to the sales guy who was just straightening a display and said, “You guys have earthquake insurance?”

He was like, “Huh?” so I explained, “You know, because if a big one hits, pretty much everything in the store is going to break.” After all, it was like a proverbial china shop. Shit was going to fly off the walls and smash everywhere even if there was a little tremor.

He said he didn’t know about the insurance but he worked at the store in the Valley during the Northridge earthquake and he said they just tore down the store after that one. “You couldn’t walk into the place. There were shards of tile covering everything. The floors, the computers… they said there were slivers of tile in the Post-Its.”

I said, “Good thing you weren’t in the store at the time. It would have been like Mortal Kombat with that guy who shoots ice daggers.”

He laughed and said he loved Mortal Kombat. We talked for a while until Michelle pulled me away to give my opinion on her top choices.