Oct 22

Dear Readers,

So here I am, wisely using my time at a recent work meeting to catch up on in-depth personal conversation with coworkers*, when the topic of facebook arose and a coworker divulged indignantly that a facebook friend had recently blocked her from posting comments on his wall. (For those of you readers unfamiliar with the concept of facebook, that is, people who are dead, almost dead, or who were born yesterday—-literally—-this is not a real wall and posting on it does not therefore constitute graffiti.) My coworker admitted mild surprise at being the recipient of this virtual barricade, considering she’d never written on his wall to begin with and that their relationship was completely cordial.

Which got me to wondering why somebody would have a facebook friend from whom they had no interest in hearing, even in the form of an innocuous wall greeting. I understand that not all of my facebook friends are those best friends for whom I would jump in front of an ice cream truck (not to save them, but to buy some ice cream) or with whom I hope to be buried (but not while alive). Yet doesn’t that facebook friend status imply some level of amicable, or at least merely tolerable, connection? If the thought of you writing a comment on my wall invokes a feeling of fear, panic, disgust, or sheer horror, and I have to go out of my way to block any possible contact you might hypothetically one day try to make, shouldn’t I perhaps not add you as a facebook friend to begin with??

But then it occurred to me that denying a friend request comes with its own set of complications. After all, everybody who’s anybody adds anybody and everybody. And just when you’ve clicked “ignore friend request” and begin to think you’re safe, you end up running into your friend’s brother’s wife’s dog’s nephew’s younger sister who you didn’t add because you’ve never met her and weren’t sure she actually existed, but here she is at Fred Meyer in the cereal aisle wondering why you ignored her friend request because she’s a very nice person really and what has she ever done to you??

And suddenly the lightbulb came on, and right after that I had a really good idea. Rather than adding facebook “friends,” we need to begin organizing our social connections and compartmentalizing them into two columns of contacts: Facebook “friends” and Facebook “foes.” People with whom we have some level of regular contact, and whom we like, love, or tolerate, will henceforth be esteemed as such in the “friends” column.

Facebook “foes,” on the other hand, are people whom you’ve never met (or you went to preschool with them, or they went to preschool with your friend’s brother’s wife’s dog’s nephew’s younger sister, or you were baptized in the same religious ceremony at the age of seven months), or people whom you dislike, cannot tolerate, and/or entirely despise. These people will be recognized as such in your “foes” column. Rather than a bright and shining profile pic, their profile box will be marred by a giant red X, and when all of your friends go to your page, they will instantly know who the cool people are, and who the rejects are. It will be just like junior high, except that in junior high I didn’t have the internet and couldn’t mark a big red X on people’s faces just because I didn’t like them. Not after that one time, when I got suspended from school for a week.**

Readers, I hope that you like my brainchild of differentiating facebook “friends” from facebook “foes” and perpetuating alienation and divisiveness among our online social connections. Please stay tuned for my next post: How to lose friends and alienate people at a rapid rate through blogging. 🙂

–Troi out

*If you are my supervisor, that sentence is entirely false.

**Just kidding. I like everybody. Except you.

Oct 10

I am dedicating this blog post to my friend John, who was unsuccessful in his recent attempt to obtain a chocolate malt shake at a fast food restaurant that shall remain unnamed, while taking his wife out for milkshakes. My friend John cannot be faulted for his lack of success, but rather it might be posited that the blame should fall on the employee who did not hear John’s seven explicit assertions of: “No, I said a CHOCOLATE MALTED SHAKE.”

Following my hysterical laughter upon hearing of John’s unfortunate experience, I found myself reflecting on incompetence in the food service industry, and I have come to the conclusion there are two kinds of incompetence: accidental incompetence, and willful incompetence.

The former, that of accidental incompetence, can best be exemplified by using the example of a novice Starbucks employee, who shall remain anonymous. (Okay, fine, it was me.) There is a minute possibility that I may have appeared incompetent my first few weeks on the job, due to a few minor faux pas. There was the time I re-used the pitcher that had previously been filled with coffee to fill it with black tea, without first rinsing said pitcher. Now, I didn’t see the problem considering I love the taste of coffee and assumed the coffee remnants left in the pitcher could only enhance the taste of the black tea; however, my supervisor thought otherwise. There was the time that I couldn’t scoop a pastry off the shelf and it crumbled on the floor; as did the second, third, and fourth pastries, until I was physically removed from the pastry premises. There were the failed attempts to add the espresso into my customer’s lattes, the successful act of spilling scalding coffee all over myself, the placing of all large bills from my cash transactions into somebody else’s cash box instead of my own; you know, the usual tiny mistakes.

Then there is willful incompetence. This is the employee who hears “Chocolate malted shake, NOT malted CRUNCH” and proceeds to pour cookie crunches into the shake while riddled with maniacal laughter. (John, the previous statement may have been embellished.) This willful incompetence could also be my coworker from Starbucks a few summers ago who, after serving a “half decaf venti sugar-free hazelnut no-foam 175 degree latte” to a customer, turned to me and whispered delightfully, “She got ALL DECAF because she was a B#$&@!!” Upon taking this customer’s order, I hadn’t been cognizant of the fact that she was a b#$%@, likely because I was so all-consumed by attempting to correctly punch in her order on the various screens on the register and was unable to look up and see the gesture that she was giving me. (I won’t tell you which fingers were used during this gesture, but I will tell you that it was not the thumbs-up.) At any rate, while I found my coworker’s actions amusing, I have to say that no matter how unpleasant a customer, if that customer is spending upwards of five bucks on a beverage, he or she should probably receive the beverage of request.

And John, you should have received your chocolate malted shake. But I’m glad you didn’t, because I’m sure I was not the only person whose day was brightened by your traumatic tale of malted misfortune. 🙂

–Troi out

Oct 1

Dear Readers,

I love the rain. I love the way it cleans the air, and how the fresh scent infuses me with a nearly euphoric feeling or at the least the genuine and pure warmth of peace. I don’t even mind the way it drenches my bangs so that they cover my eyes and blind me, or the aftermath in which each individual strand of hair manages to protrude proudly in a different direction and give others the impression I’m half-human and half-porcupine. I love the way that so many Portlanders, myself included, scoff at umbrellas and embrace the fervently falling drops, as if we’ve made our peace with the fact that taking cover eludes the windfall that makes Portland one of the most lush locales we have the good fortune to inhabit.

That’s not to say that my love affair with the rain carries on all ten—-it’s Portland, let’s be honest, eleven—-months of the year. Much like a new relationship, I find that my honeymoon period with the rain lasts approximately three months and twenty-three days, at which time I begin to become disenchanted with its adverse impact on my life. Take its direct effect on my fashion savvy. For example, while my closet proudly displays fourteen adorable jackets, only one actually repels the rain, and it’s the least adorable one of the bunch. Yet it’s the only one that gets worn during the months of September through July, leaving the others to feel dejected and abandoned. Not to mention that I can’t possibly be expected to walk six blocks to the gym when it’s raining, as the aforementioned bangs get in my aforementioned eyes, rendering me temporarily blinded by the elements (the elements being my unmanageable hair) and thus an unsafe street crosser who can’t look both ways. Or even straight ahead.

But let’s be honest; I didn’t actually have a sense of fashion to begin with, and I didn’t actually walk to the gym even when the weather was sunny. I’ve actually forgotten where my gym is, although I know for certain it’s six blocks in some direction from my place.

So the absolute delight induced by the rain far outweighs any unfavorable consequences it might inadvertently bestow in its glorious mist. And I’m excited it has returned for an extended visit. At least for the next three months and twenty-three days. 🙂

–Troi out