Parental Corner Cutting

Three is a magical age when it doesn't matter to a child where their new toy came from, or even if it's new.

This morning as I approached the end of my paper route, I came upon a motorized, kid-sized Gator (those oversized go-karts that people use to drive around fairgrounds and farms and stuff when they want to drive a go-kart but have to act like they're doing work). My curiosity was piqued, but when I saw the "Free" sign on it I was sold.

I set about trying to shove it in my trunk, mostly failed, tried my back seat, really failed, and went back to the trunk. After taking a screwdriver to the plastic windshield I'd jammed most of the front end in. I found a piece of twine I had in my car and used it to tie the hood of the trunk down, though I couldn't reach anything solid with the other end so I just tied it to my heavy post driver. Somehow this shoddy job last all the way to the next town over when I stopped to get some gas and realized I could use my tow strap to better tie everything down. Now confident I wouldn't lose it the rest of the way home I set out.

When I got back I took it out and set it in the yard where I knew Emmy could see it from the window, then went up to grab another hour or two of sleep while the wife and kid were still doing so. Emmy woke me up a little bit later and I told her I had a surprise for her. We went downstairs and I pointed it out to her from inside. From then on the day became about making sure it worked for her to give it a test drive later.

I went out and tore open the back end to make sure the motors were actually turning still. They were, but once the wheels touched the ground it wasn't really going very far. So I found the battery and set to work finding a way to recharge it without any of the plugs and accessories it would have come with brand new. After several hours of stripping an old fan cord and finding electrical connectors that could fit down into the plug, I'd fashioned a make-shift charging cord. I grabbed the car battery charger, set it to the lowest setting, and hooked it up.

After an hour of charging Emmy was ready to go outside and the battery was ready for testing. I shoved it back in and pressed the pedal: It took off. Emmy quickly got adjusted to driving it and was shifting into reverse and drive like a pro.

Some parents can go out and pay the likely 200 or so dollars that one of those things would cost, but I have to cut corners. When those parents set it in their yard with a "Free" sign because they lost the charging cable, I snatch it up and begin work. It still brought a smile to Emmy's face even if it was slightly used. Maybe when she's a teenager something like that won't fly, but for now we had a fun day with a new toy for absolutely no money. It's a win-win for me.

You're the Reason I'm not Religious

Back when that giant earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan, stupid people came out of the woodwork. An alarmingly large amount of them decided they were clever to relate the earthquake as some sort of karmic retribution for Pearl Harbor (as if those bombs weren't enough). I took one of these people to task on Facebook, as he had most uncleverly left his account completely open to any stranger that happened by.

Here was his argument: On the 70th day of 2011, an 8.9 earthquake hit Japan. The Bible has 1189 chapters and 66 books; this earthquake happened 1189 days after the 66th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

It's always been funny to me the ways in which religious people decide to try to convert non-believers, but this one really blew my mind. See, I'm not a staunch atheist. If anything I'd classify myself as agnostic, in that I'm not entirely sure what I believe. The only thing I know for sure is that I will never be a part of an organized religion, and these sorts of situations cement that fact for me daily.

Every time I drive past a group of Baptists screaming at people on a street corner, I wonder why they've decided that acting like crazy homeless people will be a good way to recruit people to their belief system. This is the exact same to me. Why on Earth would you want people to believe that God planned this earthquake as some sort of retribution to the people of Japan? That is not the kind of god I would want to believe in.

Years ago, back when I was struggling even more to find what exactly I chose to have faith in, my sister (someone who has clung to religion for awhile now to help her regain control of her life) brought over her friend to talk this out with me. It wasn't said so upfront, but more or less sprung upon me in the guise of her needing to "interview" someone. I quickly deduced that this "someone" was a person she hoped to convert. I didn't tell her to leave me alone, I just embraced the conversation and started asking questions.

I asked her what would happen to Buddhists, or Hindus. Would they go to hell just because they didn't practice Christianity? "Yes," she said, "because they haven't accepted Jesus." That struck me as a tad ridiculous so I reasoned that they were good people who have likely led honest and respectful lives. If they haven't committed egregious sins, did they still go to hell simply because they didn't believe in Jesus?

"Look," she began. "Ultimately it doesn't matter what kind of life they led, as long as they accept Jesus then their sins will be forgiven and they'll be allowed into Heaven."

So Hitler could have gone to Heaven? More or less the answer was yes. That was my out, and my overall answer to whether or not I should be religious. I told her that if there's a God, I choose to believe that he will judge our lives based on what we did and what type of person we were. If we were good people, then we can get into Heaven no matter what religion we were. I told her it didn't make sense for a god to condemn a group of people from an entirely different country just because they hadn't ever been confronted with "the right religion." I told her if that's how God chose to run things then God didn't make any sense to me and I didn't really want to believe in that type of God.

Christians, Baptists, Catholics, Whatevers: If you are trying to convert people, you're failing. That guy on Facebook tried to convert me numerous times during the course of our argument, despite the fact that he was trying to sell me on a God that would devastate a country just because of a grudge. If you say things like that, or if you believe that good people will end up in Hell just because of their specific religion, or if you yell at me from the street corner, then I'm not going to buy what you're selling. YOU'RE the reason I'm not religious. Stop it. Now!

Ice Storm

We've had some interesting weather on account of Michigan not being able to figure out what season it is. After a few days of a warm 60 degrees and sun, it plummeted back down to the 20s and started raining. For the most part I hate freezing rain and ice storms as they've become common here and are usually awful to drive in, but this one wasn't too bad. It did still bring with it the one thing I like about ice storms: all the beauty of ice-covered nature and objects. Something always struck me with that, so I thought I'd take a bunch of pictures this morning while feeding the horses. Now, I'm not a photographer, and I only used my phone's crappy 3.2 megapixel camera, but maybe you'll enjoy them as well.

The slippery walkway to the barn.

The ice-covered tree in front of the barn.

Out by the horses the rain apparently froze as it bounced off the ground.

The ice had weighed down the electric fence significantly. I had to yank the bottom rung up from the ground and put it back on the plastic holder, which snapped off as I tried.

The water running off the roof made an icy mess of this corner.

A close-up of the tree branches.

And the old truck.

Speed is Relative

Some time back when I was in middle school my family took a vacation up to a campground somewhere in the thumb part of Michigan. We set off in a convoy of rented RVs like some kind of awful Robin Williams movie off for an adventure of some kind. More than halfway through the trip we came behind a truck pulling a camper of it's own. As a car blew past both of us, my dad peeked around him preparing to pass when he stopped and settled back into his spot behind. "I was going to pass him, but I just realized he's going five over the speed limit already. I'm happy with that." my dad said to me.

When we come up behind that hulking camper, semi-truck, or other large vehicle on the highway, we're inclined to believe that we're going sooooooo slooooooooow, when in reality we're probably travelling the speed limit. It's just easy to perceive things as going much slower or faster depending on the situation we're in.

This has been thoroughly cemented in my mind because I now deal with it every single day. I'm firmly of the belief that just like a large camper in front of you on the highway will make you think you're going very slow, a 20-something delivering mail or newspapers in your rich neighborhood will make you think they are SPEED DEMONS OMG SLOOOW DOOOWN! That was a long sentence. Oh well.

As a newspaper carrier I've heard this constantly. Funnily enough, only when I drive through one of those little subdivisions with the culdesac at the end. People live on those for the very reason that they can let their children run wild without respecting the road or the cars on it at all. On more than a few occasions I have been stuck barely crawling behind a group of kids walking down the middle of the street without ever noticing me behind them. They don't teach their children to be wary of the road, and then they get pissed off at you for even entering their neighborhood.

The first time they yelled at me to slow down as I passed I was befuddled. I looked down and confirmed that I was going just over 20 mph. Well, I guess that's why they never wave back to me. So I specifically kept my speed to exactly 20 mph from then on, so that if they said anything again I could throw it back in their face. I'd turn in behind one of their neighbors in a big SUV and they would be completely down the street before I even made it halfway, but I kept to 20.

A little while ago as I went to pass the group of snobby broads one of their husbands stepped out into the road and held up his hand. I rolled down my window and he asked me to slow down. I let it all loose. I was going 20 mph and was making sure of it. One of the bitches let out, "The speed limit is 15 through here." from the back. "Alright," I said, "You wanna tell me your neighbors are going 15 when I'm making sure to go 20 and they fly ahead? I stick at 20-25 until I see a child and then I crawl past them, watching to make sure they don't run out."

The husband seemed satisfied. Actually, he seemed upset he'd even been forced into this confrontation in the first place. He was literally backing away with his hands up saying that all sounded fine and he just wanted to make sure. The gabbing bitches behind him seemed completely unconvinced, but unless I get rich, buy an SUV, and move into the neighborhood I think they always will. If I ever come across a large sum of money, the first thing I'm going to do is build a highway through the middle of their neighborhood. Maybe then they'll stop judging people and teach their kids to be careful of the roads.

Developing That Thick Skin

I've never taken well to criticism, and when writing online that's kind of a big issue. The real issue is that I blow things out of proportion and perceive them as an insult when they likely weren't meant that way. This unhelpful character trait would have likely helped to cripple my advancement into adulthood, were it not for Zoe coming along and helping to talk some sense into me.

It really helped having someone I trusted and loved around that could convince me that my perception of the world around me was much worse than what was actually happening. I needed to stop being so offended by things and flying off the handle in response, because it was only hurting myself. Prior to her I'd always sort of known I needed to stop taking things so harshly, I just couldn't bring myself to change. It was much easier to fall into the trap of believing that everyone else in the world hated me.

Though, that little issue likes to pop it's ugly head up from time to time and if I'm not careful I buy into it for long enough that I go off on someone and start a feud. Here's the thing I've noticed about the Internet. For someone like me, it's even easier to misconstrue something as a personal attack even if that's not at all what it was. When my wife and I text each other we have a code for when someone gets mad at something that wasn't meant to be mean. If she asks if tonight is alright for us to go visit my parents, and I respond with, "Fine" because I don't have anything else to say about it, but she reads that as, "Ugh, that doesn't work at all but fiiiiine, whatever!" and texts back that I don't need to be snotty, well, I just respond with MTMT. Misreading Text Message Tone. "MTMT. I actually am fine with that."

That sort of thing is common when text is your only means of communication, and it has led to more than a few situations online that I am now embarrassed by. I've come to realize I am never in the "right" when it comes to arguing online. It is impossible to know every detail about the situation, and I have likely assumed the worst about the person with whom I'm arguing.

Besides, there are two major hurdles to having a writing career in the online world. The first is actually being able to write, and the second is respecting and being friendly to people. You never win an Internet argument. Even if your assumptions of the person were correct, you were the asshole for bringing them up when you don't truly know for sure. And you might be able to make something of yourself if your self esteem is high enough that you can really sell your writing to people, but eventually acting like you're better than other people or flying off the handle and attacking others that you don't even really know will come back to bite you in the ass one day.

Job Interview: Round 2

Tonight I will be returning to the Meijer warehouse where I was supposed to be interviewed last week an attempt once again to actually be interviewed. Hopefully the person who scheduled my interview will actually be there this time to interview me. And if so, I will try my best to make a good impression.

Look, it's not that I'm being pessimistic when I don't expect much from these types of things, I just don't like to get my hopes up. In the last few years while searching for a better job -- one that might actually allow us to get our own house -- I've been disappointed frequently. I've had several job prospects that seemed to be sure-fire, and as soon as I let myself believe that everything was going to work out and our lives were going to improve, it blew up in my face.

So, I take good news with a grain of salt nowadays. Zoe thinks I'm being negative and I need to have a positive attitude. It's not that I'm going into the job interview all mopey and depressed and telling them I don't expect them to hire me, I'm just giving my emotional state a parachute in case I fall on the climb to success.

I do things like this a lot and I've learned that it does pretty well for me. I disassociate with things that might cause me to plummet emotionally, because it's too hard for me to climb back up from that pit of depression. When I have a big fight with someone, I distance myself from them and never again invest myself in them emotionally. Should they say or do something hurtful again, it's cool because I was expecting it and wasn't attached to them anymore anyway.

When I allow myself to get too attached to a relationship or idea and it blows up in my face, I'm a useless lump of flesh for weeks afterwards. I don't want to do anything productive, I just want to lay around, play video games, and snuggle with my kid. When the last "sure thing" jobs fell through, I fell into a pit of not wanting to do anything related to job hunting for a long time. In not letting myself get my hopes up I'm trying to prevent that from happening again.

Unfortunately my wife doesn't really understand that I'm well aware this strategy works for me and will not adversely effect the interview, so she's been running around acting excited about it and buying me new dress shirts and ties to use on the interview. It's been pretty hard to not expect much when she's so excited for it, so if it blows up in our face I will likely not spring back very well. Now I want it, for her. I don't want her to be disappointed. I tried my best to keep my emotional investment in this potential job as far back as possible, but my emotional investment in my wife did a sneak attack.

So, if I seem particularly grumpy and annoyed with things in the next few days, you'll know I didn't get the job and I failed to keep myself from getting too invested in it. I apologize in advance.

Deer are Morons

I don't get deer. I mean, I know they have a much smaller brain than we do, but it seems like they should be able to figure out that a car will kill them. Imagine a gazelle hidden behind some brush when suddenly a lion comes running past. Would that gazelle decide to make a mad dash right in front of the path of that lion, or would they wait for it to pass, or run another way? They would obviously do the latter, because the lion is a predator and they have enough mental capability to understand that it would kill them.

So why don't deer have that same mental capability?

On Saturday morning I was coming up over a hill on a dirt back road. Just as I reached the crest of the hill, two deer came dashing across the road. I hit my brakes, attempting to not slam them down and send myself careening off the road, but still slow enough so I wouldn't hit the deer that decided to run right in front of me. It was within inches, and luckily the second deer took a leisurely path behind my car. Both of them made it across the road, and I began fish-tailing on the loose dirt. I tried twice to steer out of it but it only got worse, so I hit my brakes and let myself spin out, knowing I wasn't going fast enough to roll or anything bad like that.

Surely they must be able to understand that the giant metal beast barreling down the road could crush them if they ran in front. I know they understand this, because when they make a last-minute attempt to get across the road right in front of your car, their ears are back and they are hauling ass as fast as they can with a look of fear in their face. So why can't they get it through their stupid deer heads that they could just wait one more second for me to pass before attempting their cross?

I have a huge amount of respect for opossums. I did a report on them in high school and developed a bit of a fascination. Did you know that opossums lived with the dinosaurs 70 million years ago and have changed very little since then? They have forked penises and a two-channel vagina so it's impossible for them to breed with any other species. How have they survived this long? They've ADAPTED to new surroundings. You might think they're dirty scavengers but what else should they do when we've built up cities all around their homes? They're survivors and they're gonna survive no matter what happens.

Deer? I give them another 200 years, tops. Morons.

Things Emmy Says Part 5

The weather is warmer and some of the snow is melted, and as we were driving down the road she started yelling, "SNOW! GRASS! GRASS! SNOW! SNOW! GRASS! SNOW!"

When I was sitting down at the laptop she picked up a toy whale and stuck it just over the top of the screen and started saying in a low voice, "Giiiiive me baaack my compuuuuuteeeeer."

Just when I was thinking my car sounded kind of loud I started it up with her inside and heard, "Daddy! There's an airplane somewhere!"

For some reason she started singing the the ABC's but added "eep" to the end of everything. "Ayyeep, Beep, C-eep, Deep, E-eep, F-eep," all the way to "Now-eep I-eep knoweep my-eep ABC's-eep. Nexteep time-eep won't-eep you-eep sing-eep with-eep meeeeee-eep."

As I was arriving home from a job interview, feeling stupid for being in a dress shirt and tie, I walked into the house and was told by my niece that she "liked my costume" and by Emmy that "I was wearing a bow."

Me: Did you see anyone on your walk?
Em: Uh huh, there was a man that was walking.
Me: Oh, did he say hi?
Em: No.
Me: So you don't know his name?
Em: No. Do you know his name?
Me: No. Maybe, but I don't know what he looks like.
Em: Um, he has a circle face. His face is like a circle.
Me: Oh good, that narrows it down.
Em: Owa and Brea (Her imaginary friends) have a circle face too.
Me: Oh, do they?
Em: Um, actually, Brea has a triangle face.

American Owned: Stupid People in my Home Town

There is a restaurant in my town with the words "American Owned" on the signboard out front. This, of course, could only mean "White Owned" because you'd have to be an American citizen in order to own a business in the country. It is an obvious response to the fact that there are two Indian families that have each bought a couple of failing gas stations or party stores in town, and the racists think this is some sort of hostile takeover.

The owner of that restaurant is the girlfriend of a well-known racist. His brother owns a towing business on nearby highway and got in some hot water when he showed up to tow a woman and refused when he saw she was black. She was a judge. It did not end well for him. Still, his towing business is around, and he is likely a stupid racist. Just like his mom that co-owns the disgusting strip club next to it, and his brother that has seized control of that stupid signboard of that restaurant.

I've heard so many comments about the Indian people taking over the town. They bought businesses from people who couldn't afford to keep them running, so I don't really understand why they're demonized. Oh yeah, racism. You know, I love my town sometimes. This is not one of those times.

Resisting the Douchebaggery of Parenthood

"Little Timmy just took his first steps!"

"Oooooh, that's so wonderful! He's gonna get in all sorts of trouble now! Better keep an eye out! How old is he now? 15 months? Oh good. Billy took his first steps at 10 months."

This sort of thing is exactly the kind of person I do not want to become now that I'm a parent. It's pretty easy to not say stupid things like that out loud, but thinking them is a different story.

I guess it's not inherently snobbish to compare your child's development to other kids close to them in age, but I still feel a little guilty when I do it. I guess as parents we're just always looking for some kind of point of reference we can use to make sure our kids are growing and learning properly. It sure would suck to have to go to school for the first time and discover they know significantly less than all of their classmates, because at that point you've gotta play catch up.

I've been trying my best for three years now to teach Emmy an assortment of things. Last night I explained the concept of opposites to her, which is actually pretty hard to do if you really think about it. Go ahead, try to think of an explanation of what "opposite" means without actually using the word opposite. Hard, aye? But after a little bit she'd gotten a good idea of it.

Now, the next time I see one of the kids my sister babysits for, or one of Emmy's cousins, I'm not going to start grilling them on opposites, but if the topic comes up I will certainly be listening closely. It's some form of validation that I'm doing a good job as a parent. I really want to give her a jump start on learning so that she'll have an easier time in school, because I'm not sure what areas she'll take to quickly and which she won't. I often had a difficult time learning certain subjects at the pace with which they were taught in school, and I'd love for her to fall behind like I did.

Of course, I still feel like a douchebag for comparing her to the other children she meets. I just like knowing that I'm doing a good job at this whole parenting thing, because it certainly took some getting used to.

The Job Hunt: Disappointment Manifested

I'm not good at searching for jobs. It's too easy for me to get discouraged and stop being productive about it. Searching for openings and filling out applications and calling in to check up on them and going in for interviews, only to never hear back from them really turns me off from the whole process.

I've had several "sure-fire" connections to a new job that eventually fell through anyway. I spent a good amount of money and time jumping through all the necessary hoops needed to drive school buses only to have them tell me I had to come in to take a test at a time that I couldn't do. No negotiations, it could only be that time. So they hired someone else and I was out all that time and money.

As I've said before, my only sell-able trait is the fact that I work really hard once I'm in the job. Getting the job, well, that's a different story. I'm too easily put off by the tiresome and frustrating process. Yet, somehow I have an interview this Friday. Strangely, Zoe had only started filling out an application for me there, so either they liked that portion of the application enough to find it in their system and call me, or her cousin that works there gave me a good word.

My in-laws and wife are excited at the very chance of an interview, but I know better. There's no point in getting my hopes up here. If it happens, great, but until it happens I'll expect to be shot down. That's what I've come to know of the job hunting field. Disappointment.

Things Emmy Says, Part 4

She walked up to me with her motorized Thomas train and said it wasn't working well. I looked and there was hair or a string or something wrapped around the wheel, so I told her I'd warned her about using it on the carpet and I wasn't going to fix it right now. She came back awhile later and told me she had fixed it. She had taped over all of the wheels.

"Now the hair has tape over it! It's fixed!"

She wanted cocoa and Zoe told her she didn't know because her cousins were going to be over soon.

Emmy: "Well hurry, we're wasting time!"

That JG Wentworth commercial came on where people yell "It's my money and I need it now!" about a billion times. Emmy watched it quietly, and after it was over turned to me and said, "It's their money and they want it now." very matter-of-factly.

Zoe and Emmy were getting ready to go to Cosco and she handed her a purple shirt with frog heads all over it.

Emmy: "If I wear my frog shirt, all the people at Cosco will know how very funny I am!"

She has interpreted sounding things out as merely saying the first letter a few times before saying the word. She'll say D-D-Daddy, E-E-Emmy, and more whenever she feels like "sounding things out."

Our cat, Jack, was sitting between a set of plastic bins and the bathroom counter and Em walked in and said "Jack's a g-g-genius!"

Zoe asked her if she wanted to watch Up, she said, "No, I think we should watch Pawn Stars."

Funny Names
Emmy calls things by weird names occasionally. Here are some of them.

She calls her trampoline her jumpolene despite frequent corrections. She's quite aware that it is supposed to be called a trampoline, she just doesn't seem to like that name much.

She calls two of the cats her "Lovey Doveys" and the other two cats her "Boops." I have no idea where she came up with those.

Nope, March Sucks Too

Well, I was hoping things would start getting better now that February was over. I should have known better to believe a month had magical powers over my life. Things just like to go wrong no matter what month it is.

Before I even got to fixing the shocks that I need to replace, the wheel cylinder busted on my rear passenger tire. This is the second time that has happened to me. The wheel cylinder is the thing that takes the brake fluid and uses it to press the brakes out and into the drum, causing you to stop. When it breaks, you suddenly lose all pressure in your brakes because the brake fluid drains out. Meaning your brake pedal goes down to the floor and you can no longer stop effectively.

Luckily, both of the times this has happened to me I was on a back road with no other cars around. This time I was going down an icy hill, and was promptly spun around 180 degrees before I came to a stop. Unable to effectively stop was an obvious hindrance to finishing my paper route, so I called my mother to see if she could drive over to help me finish and get the car home.

Upon getting in the car to start slowly heading home, I found that it didn't want to move. I'd used the parking brake to see if that was feasible for stopping, and despite the fact that the pedal was un-pressed, the brakes were still engaged. This meant getting at the release wire directly to try to get them to come off. We finally got it and began the sloooooow drive home.

Now I have brakes and a wheel cylinder to change tomorrow morning, on top of the shocks that need to be changed before they wear my tires down to the rim. Unfortunately, March isn't looking good for my wallet either.

Making it Through February

I used to laugh when people said things about certain months being particularly unlucky, but February has come to be a time of great stress in my life. Now sure, three years ago I was lucky enough to see my first child born on the first of February, but that may have come to haunt me later.

After barely making it through Christmas each year, we have to turn around and get ready for a birthday party in just one month's time. This has been made all the more difficult by the fact that we purchased a piece of shit car that has had a transmission fail the last two years in a row; in February.

This year the money has been so tight that we've come down to below $50 left in our bank account each and every week of that accursed month just trying to keep up on the bills. The very last week of the month we finally had a couple hundred dollars left over that we might have been able to use to pay back some of the money we've had to borrow. Of course, I suddenly learned I'd need to spend that on control arms to once again fix my car.

It is now the first day of March, and we're entering the new month with sizable debts to family members who graciously helped us to get through. I'm crossing my fingers that this month goes MUCH better for us, but on the last day of the devil month I found out I'd need to replace the shocks and possibly struts on my car as well if I didn't want my tires worn to nothing.

February just won't let us go. March is going to have to be one hell of a great month in order to make up for all the shit we've got coming into it.

Interview with Emmy #2

I've gotta catch up on my One A Day posts, so I put it to Twitter to ask Emmy some more questions. This time I recorded her responses. Commence with your "Aaaaawwwww"s and such.

Cops Can Be Real Dicks When They Wanna Be

See, I mostly have a very prominent dislike for cops. Not because I'm a criminal, but because it seems like it is a cops job to treat you like a criminal at all times. To me, the sight of a cop should make me (someone who doesn't ever commit crimes) feel safe. How did you feel the last time you saw a cop? Chances are you got a little nervous and started thinking about exactly how you were driving. That is always the way I feel when I see a cop. Did I stay at that stop sign for long enough or was that a "rolling stop?" Am I staying completely in my lane or drifting a little bit out of it? Does that make me look drunk?

Let me be clear, I have never once been drunk in my entire life. This thought process is completely irrational, but with the way cops analyze you for any slight mistakes, it breeds paranoia. I should never have to be paranoid about a cop pulling me over because I don't commit crimes, but they will find something you did wrong. One of the lights above your license plate is out, better check if you're drunk. Why else would you be out driving in the middle of the night? Well, the license plate light seems to be working fine once we got home, so I guess that was just a load of bullshit.

Delivering newspapers has put me up against cops on plenty of occasions. The thing is, it's actually made me kind of like them. I usually pass them when I am driving down the shoulder of the road, the wrong way. Or I'm doing a u-turn right in front of where they are parked so that I can deliver a paper out my window and then continue down the road in the wrong lane. One time when I did that last thing right in front of a cop, he pulled out and drove up next to me at the next box. I rolled down my window and he asked if I was delivering something. I said yes and held up one of the papers, and he replied "Oh, that's fine then. Just making sure." and drove off.

The other day when I slid off the road a bit in front of someone's mailbox and a man in a truck stopped to help pull me back up, a cop who was driving past stopped. He asked how I'd gotten there and I told him I was delivering papers. He took my license, then stopped traffic while we worked on pulling me back onto the road. Afterwards, he told me he was giving me a verbal warning because I needed to rotate my tires and I was improperly using the lane by being on the wrong side of the road. I was a bit confused. I said, "Even with the paper delivering?" He said yes. So, that means that all the cops I've passed while driving down the wrong side of the road could have pulled me over and given me a ticket, they just aren't dicks and they understand I'm just trying to do my job. That cop that drove up next to me and asked if I was delivering just wanted to make sure before he gave me a free pass to bend the rules.

So, really, it's entirely in their hands whether they want to be a dick about it or not. Back when I delivered papers in town, I would drop papers off at stores and in the big metal paper machines around town. This meant I usually double parked in front of the stores when there weren't any available parking spots, because I was only going to be there a minute at the most. Of course, one day a cop pulled up within the minute it took me to reload the box in front of a local coffee house.

I explained to him that I was just filling the paper box, but he didn't really care. "It doesn't matter if you're delivering anything, you need to park in an actual spot." Of course, this was complete bullshit, because several times a week I would have to maneuver around the beer trucks that were double parked in front of the bars downtown for at least a half an hour at a time. I mentioned this to the cop, and he informed me that they delivered to the back of the bars. Funny, every time I've seen them it has been in the street, so I guess he's just never come across that despite the fact they're sitting there for much longer than I ever do. Or maybe it's just that he decided he wanted to be a dick to me right then, and he valued the beer trucks more than the newspaper. His choice I guess.

In a small town the police force is usually full of the dumb jocks from high school that couldn't achieve anything better in their life. Of course, in a big city you come across more serious issues like racial profiling and bribing. Cops should make you feel safe, but when it seems to be completely up to their mood that particular day whether or not you get a ticket -- or worse -- well, it's hard to feel safe, and not just paranoid.