El Gringoqueño

All a man needs out of life is a place to sit ‘n’ spit in the fire.

Category: Culture (page 2 of 6)

Well what can we say. I’m a big white guy masquerading as a Puerto Rican. Shh, don’t tell anyone, I’m taking copious notes on my anthropological journey. No one will notice me.

Rockstar

Here’s an interview with a fictitious rockstar you’ll never hear.

Rolling Stone: So, Rob, your shows are legendary.  We know the women throw their underwear on stage, you are a man among men, and that the arena goes insane.  First, where do you get the energy for these performances, and two, what’s the strangest thing someone has thrown on stage?

Rob:  <chuckles>  I appreciate that you like the shows.  They are a blast to put on and the entire team lives for that energy, ya know?  When we’re on the road, prepping, rehearsing; we sometimes don’t eat the way we should.  I know I’m guilty of this.  We have caterers that bring in all sorts of wonderfully prepared dishes, but we just don’t get much.  Frankly, it’s mostly for the crew; we’re just so into the music, man.  We don’t have much time to eat.  Somebody’ll put a bag of Cheetoes and a coke in my hands at some point, and I’ll munch it down.  You know, if I think about it, I don’t know where we get the energy, by all rights we should be zombies.  It’s got to be the adrenaline.

Rolling Stone: Yeah, sure, adrenaline, that’s it.  <snicker>

Rob:  What? <smiles>

Strangest thing thrown on stage?  I can’t recall anything specific, but people throw all kinds of crazy shit up there.  It’s like some sort of old Testament altar for some people; they’ll throw their favorite book, article of clothing, sometimes food (although I don’t know if that’s because they were unhappy with the show), sometimes children’s toys, demo tapes you name it and someone’s thrown it.  People will put envelopes with messages to us, some desirous, others confessions about the strangest things; stuff they wanted to get off their chests. It’s weird. We just kind of take it in. These are people who have poured their hearts into us, our music, and they have this connection that allows them bequeath their guilt, desire, regrets, passions up onto the stage and then leave it.

Rolling Stone:  That’s kinda creepy man.  These people unbalanced or something?

Rob: No, I don’t think so, in fact, I don’t think they want anything from us that they are not getting.  There’s the music.  I mean, the smallest amount they paid for the show last night was $75 and it was packed.  There must be something they like, right?  They are yelling and jumping and dancing and their faces are lit up.  It’s infectious, the energy.  But if they are leaving behind something, unburdening themselves, it’s so they can go out without whatever it was.  The demo tape guys, are young musicians looking for validation a break, something.  We listen to most of them, and some are pretty good.  We have even gotten back to a few who knocked our socks off.  But you see it’s not really about the tape, it’s the act of leaving it.  They took the chance, they put themselves out there.  That act, I think, is all it was about.  It’s like the act of leaving a piece of themselves on stage with us, lets them purge it. They’re all confessions, really. It’s like they are saying, here I am, this is me, unadorned, no pretense.  Here are my innermost desires and since they don’t know us personally, they don’t have to worry about being judged.  It’ll never get back to them.  If the demo tape sucked, nobody has to know.  It’s sorta cathartic, i think.  It’s all good, man.  We’re just stoked that they continue to come to the shows and as long as they let us keep doing it, we’re gonna fucking tear the house down.

Rolling Stone: Pulled it together at the end there, didn’tcha?  You’re sort of a rock star philosopher, man.  It seems a bit incongruous to the stomping strutting arrogant rock god we all know and love.  I know you guys got a lot of bad press for some of the demands in your riders.

Rob: <Laughs>  Yeah, sure there’s that. You kinda have to do that, you know.  I’m not naturally a dick in real life.  I swear.  But sometimes for the show you have to act like it.  I totally swear it’s necessary up to a point.  We’re a focal point of male energy, female desire and to create the illusion sometimes you just have to say fuck it. <Interviewer’s aside:  Rob reaches across the table, grabs my bottle of water and pours it down his throat, then tosses it across the room>.  That.  That was a dick move, but you totally want to be me now don’tcha, bro?

Rolling Stone: <laughing>  A little bit.

Rob: There’s a bit of arrogance to being what someone would call a rock god, but I don’t for one second think it’s about me.  I strut, I stomp, I stroke my instrument, I sing, but it’s not about me.  Sure they came to see the band, but we are surrogates or proxies.  Think about it, there’s always some rock god, heartthrob, mega star, diva, whatever.  You think those people created the followers, created the fans created the urges to fucking rock?  Nah.  We’re just like vessels, man.  It’s not about me or the band or even about the music.

Rolling Stone: There’s a first, rockstar says it’s not about the music.  I mean we all know that about Nickleback, but even they wouldn’t say it.

Rob: Haha, touché.  I think you’re misunderstanding.  Yes, the music is important, it’s under its auspices that we come together.  If it was unworthy, they wouldn’t come… but, and here’s a big but, they would still come to someone.  We, the rockstars, are fulfilling a pent up demand.  We didn’t create the demand, the human need.  They wouldn’t be sitting at home if we sucked.  In a more economic sense, they have a set amount of money to spend on food and water, and they choose us.

Rolling Stone: This is turning into either those best or most bizarre interviews we’ve ever done.  So let me get this straight, you’re comparing your music to food and water.  That’s arrogant even for you.  <Snickers>

Rob: FUCKING YEAH!  We rock, now worship at the foot of our awesomeness!  Being a rockstar is partly an act. D’uh. It’s a shared delusion, one into which we both enter willingly.  It’s a collective delusion where the band and I get to feed off the energy of the crowd, to channel it, if you will, and direct it back at the crowd.  The crazier they get, the crazier I get.  We can’t control it, it’s a collective.  We all need to be worshiped a bit and by coming together in these venues, they get to experience that pure energy vicariously.  Hell, I experience it vicariously, even when I am on stage.  Again, the band and I are not the goal, purpose, or end destination of their energy, just the channels for it.  It flows through us, we amp it up, feed it back, and we get more in return.  It’s like fucking drugs, man.  I sometimes think that’s why a lot of rockstar do drugs.  They’re trying to fill the void between gigs.  It’s a real letdown, let me tell you.

We all have our roles, you know?  Some of us are builders, thinkers, and creators.  And some of us are clerics.  Not gods, but clerics.  We are channels and facilitators for spiritual energy not recipients of it.  We’re not rock gods, dude, we’re fucking rock priests!

<flips over coffee table and struts out>

Overlooking the Obvious

We’re were all out the other day doing some grocery shopping, when we came upon the canned food isle.

“Hey, Daddy, did you have Del Monte when you were growing up?” Of course they said it as “Dayl MOAN-tay”

“What? Hmm…” I repeated it to myself as they had said it. There was something off, something wrong. In a flash there was an epiphany, a revelation. Del Monte, is Spanish for “of the hill.” It’s a brand as American as can be, and the name is Spanish for of the hill. My kids would see it and assume it was a local thing, something Hispanic maybe Puerto Rican but not necessarily American.

“Yes, we did have as we were growing up. It’s a popular American brand, but we say it; Dehl MAHN-te.”

“Eww,” they all said. That sounds terrible. “You really said it that way?”

“Yes, Del Monte said it that way in the commercials.” I paused letting the wrongness of the words sting my mouth. I realized in that moment that the Del Monte of my youth was gone. I turned to my children with a confession. “I never realized until this moment that the brand name is in Spanish.”

I left them scratching their heads as well, their minds perplexed by the idea of daddy not knowing “Del Monte” was actually del monte.

I’m not even going to go into all the Hispanic baseball players I grew up with but never realized were Hispanic on account of how the sportscasters pronounced their names.

Turns out that Del Monte was named for a brand of coffee in a hotel in Oakland, California. “Of the hill” is a good thing for coffee… not so much for peaches.

Is “Once Upon a Time” the Whitest Show on TV?

Watching “Once Upon a Time” when it hits me – and I don’t know why I’m realizing this now – Disney is racist. There are no black characters, and when they appear they are either disappeared or killed post haste.

  1. Sidney / Genie / Mirror – gone, probably in jail
  2. Lancelot (yeay a black Lancelot – oh wait, he’s dead) uceremoniously killed by Cora
  3. Gus Gus / Tow truck driver – killed by king
  4. Cinderella’s fairy godmother – blown up

Seriously, Disney?

On the Death of Journey Sentences

This has been sitting in my drafts folder for over two years (Feb 19, 2006) – time to publish, I say!

You’ve all read them; they are what I like to term, “Journey Sentences.”  They are the typical sentences from the earlier part of the 20th Century and before. Most them would start out like the following:

Having all the deftness of a barnacled fishing trawler and half the wit of a common ordinary housefly, which is to say, not a lot, and wishing to keep up appearances so that should a potential suitor ever be quite so oblivious to said traits and stumble or perhaps bumble might trip and land with such a thud as to cause an impression upon the earth from which his posterior might never escape, Grace quietly nibbled on her egg salad sandwich.

Hah! that was a hoot.  Look, I don’t even know if that was grammatically correct or whatever, and frankly, I’m not going to go back find out.  You get the point.  But ahh, the journey sentence, the sentence which begins and ends you know not where.  Half the fun was the journey and the folly.  Might you reread the sentence, absorb its richness for clever clues as to vistas one might find along the windy path.  Lovely.

Who has time for that?

In today’s society with its fast pace and ruthless efficiency, we have no time for journeys.  Where are we going?  We ask.  Tell me now, dammit!  I don’t have time for your foppery, your magic journeys of butterflies and candy coated magical literary foreplay.

Let’s just get to it, shall we?

Perhaps this style of prose had its place long ago when the well-placed and small gentry of leisure had more time on their hands. Reading was idle time, time for relaxation.

Then: They wrote these crazy mad sentences.
Now: We watch people eating bugs.

Or maybe the world was so arbitrary and ruthless that literature just reflected what was familiar.  Whether rich or poor, you or your kids/wife/husband might be dead in a week from some fever, infection, or God’s will.  You didn’t know where it was going or when it might end, so you needed to be vigilant in all moments.  Literature might have reflected the capricious nature of life.  Meandering verbiage reflected what was known of the world and our control over it, which is to say, not much and very little.

I note with amusement that Spanish speaking people still have a tendency to write this way in English as they do in Spanish.  There is a taste to the words, something intrinsic to them that renders them uniquely  important not just as constructs of a sentence.  Their order, the languid pace, the setup, the tendril-like clauses that reach out in all directions pushing and pulling and twisting all feel like some kind of full sensual body massage of prose.

Is it a Catholic centric culture that shows less willingness to own the future?  It is not my place, I might say.  I am but a conduit.  The journey is what it is, to endure, to accept the way as it unfolds according to God’s plan.  Should it transpire too quickly, all enjoyment, all suffering, and by default all Grace is lost.

I’m not sure I buy it myself, but it does explain a lot.

Mandela Pancakes

When I finished reading Nelson Mandela’s memoir, there were many things that stuck with me.  One detail in particular, rattling around in the back of my mind, was the Xhosa tradition of leaving milk in the sun to sour it.  Apparently this makes it easier to digest for those that have mild lactose intolerance and is common practice for the Xhosa people.

Mandela related a specific incident involving this spoiled milk while on the run from authorities.  He was staying in a safe house in a white area, and without thinking, put some milk on a windowsill to sour.  A couple of laborers noticed it and remarked, “Why would a white man put milk in the windowsill?  We are the only ones that do that.”  Nelson was spooked by his near discovery and left for a new hiding place that very night.  Interesting, I thought, and yucky.  But, I mused, sour milk is absolutely perfect in baking, cakes and… pancakes.

“Yes, pancakes,” I said, “I resolve to make Mandela Pancakes.  I will call them Mandela Pancakes, and I will sing an African Folk song while I make them.  Nel-son  Man-del-a, Nel-son Man-del-a. “

Yesterday, I zipped out on my bicycle to fetch a small carton of whole milk for the purpose of spoiling it.  I left it out the entire day in the hot Caribbean sun, the sides bulging as gases pressed on the waxy cardboard container.  I picked it up several times to check it, shaking it for good measure and when the night arrived,  I opened it and took a whiff.  It was there, yes it was, that faint sweet acrid smell of spoiled milk.  Aha!  Tomorrow, we shall have Mandela Pancakes, and they will be delicious.  “Nel-son Man-del-a, Nel-son Man-del-a,” I sang, and the kids laughed.  I then told the story of how he was almost caught because of his soured milk.

Who knew the things one can learn from a man on another continent?  And it is suggested to me that these things we learn, the serendipitous delights of interconnected knowledge, are made possible by diversity, by embracing the pluralism we find everywhere.  And the pancakes?  They were delicious.

May You Live in Interesting Times

Me: I just thought of something.  Where did the word guapo come from?  Do you think it’s a word from indigenous peoples in the Caribbean?

    I was noticing that the gua (Gooah) diphthong sound is associated with the language of the Taino peoples of the Caribbean.   A good many of these words, guanábana (fruit), Guánica, G­uaynabo, (places),  guayaba (another fruit – guava), etc, are all indigenous and you can see their origins from the gua sound. 

Me: So I am wondering about the word guapo (Spanish for handsome).  Could that word have come from the New World?  And if so, why would the Spanish people have needed to appropriate it?  Wouldn’t it have already existed in their language?

    My error is a basic one, as I was to soon find out, but enlightenment is surely a blessing and one of the many benefits of being married to a smart cookie.

Laura: Interesting track of thought, I mean train, or whatever, but remember,  "gua" frequently occurs in Spanish in words that are borrowed through commerce and contact that have a "w" sound in the original language.  Remember "waffle?"  In the Basque Country they called it gofres. Ok, it did not go to GUA but it went to the gutteral "g". Perhaps a better example is the Spanish translation for "wow" is guao or "William" which is Guillermo.  Perhaps the Taino people’s spoken word for the town of Guaynabo, was Whai-NA-bo, and the fruit guanábana was Whai-NA-bah-na. 

Laura: I don’t know for sure, but some time ago I looked up Taino grammar and vocabulary and I found out that "gua" was a common article like "the", "this," "that." This results in phrases, rather than words being translated or transformed into current taíno words we know today. I think in my research I was able to come up with towns that were descriptive phrases "the settlement by the water," "the area by the big tree." Who knows if the name was an actual taíno name or a common way of referring to an area that became Spanish shorthand for a place and hence a name we know today.

Laura: However, in my limited knowledge of taíno words I can’t say they use a strong consonant sound such as "p." So I would be inclined to say that guapo is NOT of taíno origin. But then where did it come from?

A Ben Stiller Moment

This story starts out with some little details. I can’t really make them up, I wish I was that smart. These little details, represent metaphors for life in Puerto Rico, things that make up the backdrop of our lives. I’ve touched on them before. Flat tires is one good example.

This time, at the top of the hill exiting our urbanization, there was a backed up sewer. It had been spewing funky toilet paper laced waste water for the better part of a week. Each morning as I climbed the hill on my bicycle, I would gingerly pedal through the torrent, careful not to splash any of the filth on me or my bike, my poor bike. I was reminded of Jerry Seinfeld removing and discarding shoelaces which had touched the floor of a public restroom. I could do no such thing with my tires.  Ay bendito.

Thankfully, I had avoided the dreaded splash from cars or my own bike for the past four days. Cranking slowly up the hill increased my exposure, but I gaged my ascent carefully and with a bit of luck managed to avoid cars. I was ascending, however, where I would spend more time dancing on the razor’s edge, taunting fate as zippy cars raced off to the day of labor, their windows rolled up tight.

Coming back down the hill should have been a breeze, a smelly breeze, but a breeze nonetheless. The shoulder is wider, and the rivulets of dung laced paper mache ran farther from me. If I took to the shoulder, I was on dry pavement. Hurrah!

Fancy my surprise as a Toyota Corrolla flew past me at a breakneck pace, sending a tsunami, a cascade of putrid liquid over me. This was no splash, a few splatters, but a drenching shower, the kind that only happens in movies and to Ben Stiller.

Ah hell no, they did not actually just do that!

I chased the person to their house. I was surprised to find that this careless person was a 60 year old woman doing her morning shopping. Mrs. Maggoo, was her name. She was a sleepy phlegmatic character.

"Hey, thanks a lot for throwing that disgusting water all over me!" Should I have led with sarcasm? It’s too late for that now.

"What? Um, where was this?"

I couldn’t believe she was going to pretend she didn’t see me. "It was just up the hill here," I pointed, "You know where the sewer is leaking. You drove past me and covered me in that water, that disgusting dirty water."

"I passed slow, and you were off to the side."

"What? I thought you just said you didn’t see me? And are you saying now that I’m making this up, that you didn’t drench me? Wanna smell?" I approached her and leaned in. "Here, smell!" She backed away. Or maybe recoiled is a better right word for it. For you see, I did indeed smell like shit. She continued to protest her innocence, I didn’t see you, but passed slowly, carefully because I was being careful in my careful slow moving careful-mobile car of carefulness.

One pissed off, drenched smelly-assed cyclist in her front lawn seemed to have no bearing on her deny campaign.

I’m sorry, she finally said, or rather, "Perdona." Which in my mind never actually owns the fault. Maybe I’m wrong, but "pardon" just seems like a, oops I just touched your foot in a crowded room, not I just gave you you a shit shower.

At least she could have offered me a wipe to clean myself, a cookie, anything. Bitch.

"Next time, wake up, woman." And I pedaled off to scrub myself and my bicycle.

*shudder*

Rescued from the Dogs

I bag on Puerto Rico a lot, but there is one reason why I am still here. There are lots of things for an American to dislike, but one thing continues to stand out and surprise me in pleasant ways.

I was pedaling my bicycle up the hill from my house to buy groceries, as I do every morning. At the foot of the hill there is a junkyard, rusted and hidden by bamboo and vegetation. From time to time, a dog from the area takes it upon himself to assume authority over all in his domain. Little packs of them charge and bark with all that their little yippy lungs can muster. They are an annoyance, but not much trouble.

Today, however, was different.

This time the dogs were big. Huge. They were not the little yippy dogs that bark from the safety of their porches, but big ass rottweiler or pit-bull muts, a couple of big 80+ lbs dogs, furiously barking at me and racing up in my blind spot.

I did what I usually do, dismounted my bicycle, put it in between myself and the dogs and slowly moved toward them, hissing and seething at them. I find that the hissing freaks them out and I’ve never failed to cow a dog with this technique. I felt relatively safe with my bike as a shield, and the dogs tucked their tails and took off. Whew.

Unfortunately, as soon as I turned my back on them, mounted my bike and started pedaling again, they regained their courage and came roaring back. Sigh. I’m going to have to open up a can on these asshats. I had to let them know I meant business. Perhaps I should pursue them farther, stand my ground for longer.

At that moment a little Suzuki Gran Vitara bounced up the hill, and first, I got the friendly adviceTM:

"Necesitas un palo (you need a stick)." The person yelled.

Step two after the friendly advice was the actual help, as my new friend proceeded to weave all over the road and shoulder chasing after the dogs, yelling, ye-ah ye-ah! I smiled. "¡Gracias!" I yelled.

Yes, I thought, this is why I am still in Puerto Rico.

Tomorrow: Same hill, different story.

Thirteen Years!? How can it be Thirteen Years!?

Laura and I celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary this Monday. Actually we celebrated it on Tuesday, because that was our date visiting a coffee farm, or rather a collective of coffee farms and a processing facility. Here’s a pic:

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Those rows in the distance are coffee plants.  Breathtaking how beautiful it was up there in the mountains in Ciales, Puerto Rico.  I spit on the city, ptooie, I’m moving here.

And here’s our little campecino farmer guy delivering his load of fruit for the day.

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Look, it’s the Puerto Rican Juan Valdez, maybe here he’d be Juan Sanchez.

Guy really fit the part, is all I’m sayin’.

The next one is of the little coffee plant that grows next to the processing facility. The manager joked that they use it to gauge the ripeness of the fields. It’s like their little ripeness trigger plant or something.

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Those are coffee beans. The flesh is juicy and somewhat sweet. I popped one in my mouth and tasted it. It was like a cherry with a hint of tartness and no coffee-like flavor. In fact, the coffee flavor comes from the roasting. This fruit, unroasted and ripe, would make a great pie. Seriously. I’ve got to try it at some point. I’d probably just follow my mom’s recipe for cherry pie.

Here’s the last pic. This one is from one of the farms on the mountain-side. These are small young coffee plants. They will yield fruit after two years, and are considered mature after four. If well cared for, the plants will continue to bear for many years. The farmer joking told us, "… and if they are not well cared for, they die quickly."

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Coffee plants don’t like too much sun. They don’t like too much shade. They like to be up high, not down low. Do they seem fussy to you? Many times coffee in Puerto Rico is planted next to the plantain or orange or lemon trees. The neighboring vegetation helps regulate the sunlight.

I liked the scene above because the whole high country was frothing with hazy mist, like big steaming cups of hot bubbly java.

mmmmm.


Well, I Can Certainly Tell You Who DOESN’T Answer Prayers

Know who else doesn’t answer prayers, requests, complaints, or issues? Read this to catch up on the whole answering prayers thing.  Now let me share something with you atheists out there, about the whole God not answering prayers, meme. You have no idea. You have no idea of the depths of indifference to which other entities stoop. Let me tell you who really doesn’t answer prayers, and they don’t give a flying rats ass if you boil in your own bile for all eternity… in fact, they revel in it. No, scratch that, they just don’t give a shit. Who am I talking about?

Customer service.

Ha! You just CAN’T make this stuff up.

This evening I assembled my favorite photos to print out using Walgreen’s internet photo printing service. It’s great, I can upload my photos over da intarweb and get them printed out at the store AND pick them up in an hour – so convenient. What they don’t tell you, is that if your photos are too good, and by too good, I mean better than what the slack-jawed minimum fucking wage stooge in the photo development area could snap, then they will confiscate them.

"Sir, I can’t give you those photos," she sneered.

"Huh? Why." I’d never heard this one before. What was going to come next? Do tell.

"I need the release in order that I may release the photos to you."

"Huh," I’m thinking… what the hell. Release? Of the models in the photos? They are my kids. Release of the photographer? I’m the photographer. They are pictures I took. "I took those photos," I said, those are my kids. That is my wife. You see, we look great, don’t we?"

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"Well then who took that picture, if you’re the photographer?" Like a burly detective she was sure she had me, like, smartass, who took that picture if you’re in it, hmmm?  Well, truth be told, since I’m never in pictures myself, I handed the camera to my son’s godfather to snap.   Laura and I were dressed in formal-wear… all gussied up and shit. Sigh, he’s not a photographer. It’s my camera. I set the shot, and told him to push the button. They are my pictures. He was my assistant. Maybe I used a tripod. Why are you interrogating me. Just give me my pictures!

"And hey, wait a minute, since when do I get to be treated like a crook for printing out my photos at Walgreens?"

"I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to see the originals so that I can release these photos to you." She was a snot, a horrible little snot. Arrrgghhh.

"You can keep the pictures, I’ll just print them someplace else," I ranted and walked away.

I considered my predicament for a second. Although I’m flattered that my pictures have raised so many eyebrows here at the Walgreens Institute of Photography Art, I’m still pissed that I don’t have my pictures to put in my wallet. They are beautiful pictures of my beautiful family and by God I would like to show them off.

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"I want to see a manager," I demanded.

"I’ll get her." And she got on her little phone and called her little manager.

So by this point I was fuming. First, I wanted those pictures. Second, that smug little bitch thinks I’ve stolen some photographer’s work, trying to recreate these to get out of paying him for his prints. I’m mad, but flattered too… it’s just all kinds of messed up.

"Look, I’m not happy one bit," I said in a loud voice to the manager when she showed up. "You’re calling me a liar, that I am stealing some photographer’s work. How dare you. Are you going to resolve this!" I was being kind of loud. Fuck it, I’m a big loud American. It’s who I am. I can’t help myself. It doesn’t help that Puerto Rican’s are like the Japanese without the efficiency. They shy away from conflict. They will not raise their voices. They will not engage. They go limp. They will redirect, be indirect, but they will not deal with the issue in front of them.

I know this, but it still doesn’t do any good when I’m pissed.

"Sir, would you let me talk. Please lower your voice."

"Is what you’re going to say something along the lines of ‘here are you pictures, sir, sorry for the inconvenience?’"

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"If you would let me – "

"I’d really like to know what you’re going to say. Please say it. I’m waiting."

"Please sir, lower your voice. If you would let me talk."

Frankly, her attitude is so common in so many walks of life. It’s really just a technique "ad hominem" to redirect her inaction, fabricating as its cause, my emphatic and irritated voice, like she is some clucking mother, I’m sorry I cannot help you until you use your indoor voice. You’re making this difficult, sir. It’s you who is wrong. It is your demeanor that is making this difficult.

Bah!

"So what do I need to do to get my pictures?" And I stood there, and although I couldn’t see them, I’m sure my nostrils were flaring.

"As I told you, we need to see the originals in order to release them."

"What is an original? They are digital!"

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"Sir, lower your voice."

"Look, just forget it. I’ll get them printed someplace else. Ignorante!"

And I left.

So, I’m now at home. On the one hand, I had the fact that The Walgreens Institute of Photographic Art thinks my pictures are so good that I couldn’t have possibly taken them… which I guess makes me feel okay, until I consider the minimum wage drone working the counter… which sends my blood boiling again. On the other, I did this transaction through the Walgreen’s website and no where anywhere did it mention that I could face the copyright theft gestapo at my local Walgreens. No where. The terms of use clearly state that I must have the right to upload pictures, which I do. I have violated no policy. They have my contact info.  Why the hell then, did the store take it upon themselves to refuse to deliver me my photos?

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My next step is to call The Walgreens Institute of Photographic Art’s corporate headquarters. I dialed up the 24/7 customer service number.

"Hello, this is Gale, how may I help you."

I explained to Gale my predicament, my irritation, and my confusion at this arbitrary policy. No where on the website was this mentioned as a possibility.

She said that I should call another number. I thanked her and called it. "We are not available to take your call now, please leave a message and we will get back to you."

WTF. I looked at the contact information on the Walgreens website. Customer Service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It says it right there. I call it back.

I launch into my story again, get part of the way through it, when Gale cuts me off. "Sir, we just spoke. I told you have to call that other number."

"That’s funny, because I’m calling the 24/7 hotline that says Customer Service. It’s right here on your website."

"Well, the problem is that this is an in-store issue and needs to be escalated through the proper channels."

"Again, I see ‘Customer Serivice, 24/7’ What is it that you do there, anyway?"

"Well, I’m not going to get into that with your, sir."

I had her on the ropes. I could tell. She was getting flustered. My logic was ironclad – my resolve, firm. "Okay, I can kinda see what you’re saying, but I don’t see this as an in-store problem only. I initiated the transaction online, through www.walgreens.com so if anything you’re partly responsible for the issue as well. I should have been notified of this policy. Is there, in fact, any policy at all?" I asked, channeling Monty Python’s Cheese Shop. Funny how often that comes up, huh?

"Actually, you’re like the fourth or fifth person to call with this issue. I don’t really know. I haven’t heard of it either, but I’ve gotten maybe four or five calls. Maybe there’s been some change. I don’t know. If you want I can take your information and we will get back to you."

"Okay," I sigh. I know where this is going. My complaint will be filled out in triplicate, stamped, processed, filed and sent on a on-way ticket to a happy place, a place of rainbows and unicorns and magic butterflys with candy fountains. No, there’s no fighting it. I lose. Customer Service, you win. I acquiesce.

*I ended up happily using www.shutterfly.com to print my pictures.  No problems.  Cheap.  You have to wait for them to come in the mail, but at least I don’t have to go to submit to the fascists at Walgreens 

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