I deserved a break today.

I’m not normally in town on Mondays, but I was this week, which happened to intersect with THE DARKEST SHAME OF MY LIFE, the every-other-week visit from my cleaning woman. Neither one of us wants me here while she’s working, and somehow I ended up at the newly opened McDonald’s in my neighborhood. They promised, when it was on the drawing board, that they wanted it to become a Starbucky gathering place, with free wifi, so I figured I’d take them up on it.

How many here have ever put on the paper hat of McDonald’s? I know, it’s a visor now, but it was a paper hat when most of us here were likely to work there. Working at Mickey D’s is the classic American first job, and I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve known who earned their first paychecks dishing up fries. I’m now mellow enough that I don’t mind little mistakes in my orders, figuring they’re payback on the millions of mistakes I’ve made in my own work.

This McDonald’s is in Detroit, and of course Detroit is an African-American city, so most of the kids working there are, as well. Also, Grosse Pointe kids get their first jobs clerking for Supreme Court justices or caddying for General Motors board members. Today, this crew is being overseen by a middle-aged woman, black, a clone of every other manager or assistant manager in every other McDonald’s in this part of the world.

When my friend Deb’s son was getting his training at his local McD’s, one of these women came into the room where they were learning the closing procedure and food-handling procedure and all the rest of it. It’s a lot for a 16-year-old to take in. She was carrying a tray filled with french fries. “MAC-Donald’s kicking y’all’s butts yet? How about something to eat.”

The woman Monday afternoon was shepherding her young workers with that mix of absolute authority and indulgent maternal instinct so necessary in this particular environment. One blocked an aisle I was trying to walk through, and she barked, “Make ROOM for this lady — she’s a customer!” before turning back to the kid she was sitting down with.

“Do you know your schedule?” she asked him.

“Um, yeah,” the kid said. Pause. “I think.”

“Tell it to me,” she ordered.

“Saturday, 3-9,” he tried.

“And Sunday?”

“The same?”

“That’s right, honey. You’re doing good.”

It cannot be easy to run one of these places. You’re always hiring, always training, always ready to step in when one of your teenage workers decides not to show up on Saturday, having not yet learned the courtesy of two weeks’ notice. The owner of Zingerman’s once described dishwashing positions as something that change on almost an hourly basis, and any restaurant owner too good to handle that duty isn’t long for the business. You don’t have that problem at McDonald’s, but you better not be too proud to make coffee and shake salt over the fries.

I passed the time writing a letter of recommendation for one of my former students, now trying to get into Berkeley’s documentary program. The advantage of dealing with digital files is, the selection committee won’t be able to see grease smears on the paper.

The kid who took my order was obviously a greenhorn, but like I said: No biggie. The time to worry is when people who are plainly overqualified for the work start turning up behind the counter. During the absolute worst of the recession, I had my bags at Trader Joe’s packed by a guy who took enormous care to use every inch of space wisely. I walked out with two perfectly balanced bags and thought God, I hope this man didn’t go to engineering school.

So. How was your Monday? I see the Petraeus story is getting weirder (and more understandable) by the day, now that we know it features that fixture of Washington scandal — a man sending around shirtless photos of himself:

A federal agent who launched the investigation that ultimately led to the resignation of Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus was barred from taking part in the case over the summer due to superiors’ concerns that he had become personally involved in the case, according to officials familiar with the probe.

New details about how the Federal Bureau of Investigation handled the case suggest that even as the bureau delved into Mr. Petraeus’s personal life, the agency had to address questionable conduct by one of its own—including allegedly sending shirtless photos of himself to a woman involved in the case.

May I just offer this word of advice to the men of the world — from Detroit judges to U.S. Congressmen — who feel compelled to send seminude photos of yourself to women you want to bag? Don’t. It doesn’t work. Women appreciate a nice-looking man, sure, but our brains don’t really work like that. Yours do, but not ours. Send a funny note instead, or an iTunes mix, or whatever. She’ll thank you, and you’ll be less likely to end up famous for the wrong reason.

On a more serious note, a Q&A with an expert on education policy worldwide. We’re doing it wrong:

When we think about market mechanisms in education, we think about managing consumer demand. It’s all about school choice.

And then you look at Shanghai, which also believes in market mechanisms, but has a totally different strategy. They operate on the supply side. What Shanghai has done is create incentives to attract the most talented teachers into the most challenging classrooms. And to get the best principals into the toughest schools. It’s the same kind of philosophy, based on market mechanisms. But they turned the problem on its head and achieved a remarkable improvement in educational outcomes.

Having dispensed with Monday — during which Sunday’s 70-degree temperatures fell 35 degrees — Tuesday is looking far better. Let’s hope so.

Posted at 12:14 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

93 responses to “I deserved a break today.”

  1. Sherri said on November 13, 2012 at 12:38 am

    I consider it a big sign that education reformers have an agenda other than actually improving education that they compare US test scores to other countries but are completely uninterested in how those other countries succeed in educating their students.

    There’s a profile of Diane Ravitch by David Denby in the latest issue of the New Yorker, but it’s behind the paywall. Most people here who are familiar with Ravitch’s story and work know the material in the article.

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  2. Basset said on November 13, 2012 at 1:39 am

    NPR or maybe it was Marketplace, one follows the other here and they run together for me, anyway there was an interesting piece yesterday about how US and Japanese schools handle kids who are struggling. Here, we assume they’re just not as bright; there, the willingness to continue the fight and keep trying till you get it right is respected and encouraged. In their example, American students presented with an unsolvable math problem gave up in the first thirty seconds and said they hadn’t been taught that yet, while every last one of the Japanese kids kept at it till they were stopped at the end of the period.

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  3. Dexter said on November 13, 2012 at 1:48 am

    In the days before we could order event tickets with click to send, a few times some of us guys would pile into a car and drive to Comiskey Park in Chicago to buy White Sox tickets. We could always get good seats with face-to-face contact with a person in the ticket office booth compared to mail-order requests, so it was worth it, and gas was cheap and we always had a good time blasting Stones tunes and slamming beers back, and yes the driver had a few, too.
    However, none of us really knew a lot about Chicago, and so when we asked a guy on the street if there was a burger joint nearby he pointed us east, over the Dan Ryan, into Bronzeville. Of course as soon as we crossed the expressway overpass we were the only white people in the neighborhood, but so what? We didn’t give a damn, and there was a MAC-Donald’s right there, don’t miss it.
    It was jam-packed, lunch-time, and 100% African-American. We got our burgers and fries and Cokes and headed back to Indiana with our White Sox tickets and our McDonald’s bags.
    In a couple weeks we went back for the game, and after the game we were having a beer or three across the street from the ballpark at the regal McCuddy’s Tavern. I began making small talk with a guy who eventually told us he was an off-duty cop. I shared that it was a hard thing to find a place to eat right around the environs of the ballpark and he said it wasn’t if you knew where to go, and I told him of eating at the Bronzeville McDonald’s. He was incredulous…”you ate THERE?!” Yes, why? “…because THEY spit in your food!” Well, shit…I just turned away from the cop and ended the talking, seeing where this was going. I was in no mood for this racist cop, even in a friendly setting. Then later, much later, I read this about Jesse Jackson: “…he told of his days as a waiter at the Jack Tar Hotel in his home town of Greenville, S.C. Just before leaving the kitchen he would spit into the food of white patrons he hated and then smilingly serve it to them. He did this, he said, “because it gave me psychological gratification.”
    Yuck. Jackson has apologized many times for this, but he did it and he has described it, and well…did those kids maybe spit into our burgers and fries like the cop told us? Life is a bitch. And hell no I do not think those kids spat in our stuff. Christ, what a world. 🙁
    – –
    The woman had access to Petraeus’ email…she knew stuff the President didn’t know! It’s a big scandal but my interest is waning, and I want to focus on who the next CIA head is going to be.

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  4. Dexter said on November 13, 2012 at 2:21 am

    …and now super-soldier-boss General John Allen is up to his ass in scandal-tide:

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  5. Sherri said on November 13, 2012 at 2:41 am

    What is an “unpaid social liaison” anyway? A CENTCOM groupie?

    And doesn’t anybody remember that emails are discoverable? People, don’t write it down!

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  6. JWfromNJ said on November 13, 2012 at 4:03 am

    I remember reading that about one out of every five Americans have worked at McDonalds, and a few Google searches back up that figure.

    Just in our household three of five have. My oldest son did for about a year before becoming a servant to the King. that was in his high school years. My wife has worked there three or four times between her high school years to today. Once in the early years of our marriage when we lived in a seasonal beach resort I asked (begged) her to work there because (I KNOW I AM A TERRIBLE PERSON) at the time I liked the ganja and within three days of her working there she had made connections, and had a manager who let the employees pop in for free food – it doesn’t get much better than that when you are 24 and stoned.

    I’m the third one. We had just gotten married and were living in Ft. Wayne but saving $$$ to move to NJ. I had a real job at a company that did video production, and at the time she had a job with her parent’s catering company. We had one car. I lived in a tiny street off Packard, and I sucked it up and took the McJob. It was pretty degrading – every step was dumbed down and I nearly died when a shift supervisor told me I was doing so well at the fries station that I might move up to grill in a few months. uggghhhh.
    I moved up to grill in a few days but it sucked. Here begins the shart story. One night in February when all the roads were iced over, and I was ending my shift at 10 p.m. I stopped in at Tom’s Supermarket on Rudisill – right by the McD. I wasn’t feeling well, but we needed some basic groceries and baby food. I also wanted a 12-pack. As I go to the register I sharted myself, bad. But seeing as I was going to be walking home either way and this was the glamorous South Side I paid for my stuff and started shuffling home.
    About three blocks into my journey the temperature worsened my situation, then I slipped on a patch of ice, groceries went everywhere and three of my beers exploded. I was a young adult man crying in the street. With another 5-6 blocks of iced over roads to my house. I made it home, took a long hot shower, double washed my clothing, and never went back to Mickey D’s.

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  7. Deborah said on November 13, 2012 at 4:37 am

    Where else you can tell a shart story other then at nn.c?

    I never worked at a McDonalds but the company has been my client on two occasions. I designed a rebranded prototype store for Boston Market in Oak Park. BM was owned by McD at the time, they have since sold it. The rebranding was supposed to go nationwide, but it didn’t work, it didn’t appeal to their big beefy guy core customer. Then later I worked on the design of environmental branding of a portion of McD Hamburger University campus. I learned a lot about waste from the McD people, it is unbelievable how much food is wasted, thrown out, perfectly good food because of health regulations. Well, I said “perfectly good food” but we are talking about McDonalds.

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  8. alex said on November 13, 2012 at 6:19 am

    I’ve never worked at a McD’s, but I’ve got shart stories out the wazoo. Doubtless some came about as a direct consequence of eating there.

    My most cataclysmic loss of bowel function, however, came about after eating Chinese in Chicago. I was with a group of friends and we went out shopping around the neighborhood after a hearty Sunday brunch where I’d put away some spicy seafood dish. I let rip and felt drip and suddenly knew I had better get home. I was about five city blocks away and I began power walking while clenching with all my might. I made it to my hi-rise, fumbled for the keys, got into the back door and followed the corridor to the elevator bank. A crowd of impatient-looking people were standing there eyeing the numbers atop the elevator doors, all showing the cabs parked or taking their sweet time up on high floors. I was almost doubled over with stabbing pain to my stomach and didn’t think I’d last another ten seconds. So I went to the freight elevator, found it available, got in, pressed my floor and made it there. Before I got to the door of my condo, however, all hell broke loose, about a gallon’s worth.

    It was some time before I had a taste for shrimp again.

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  9. JWfromNJ said on November 13, 2012 at 6:32 am

    See what I started (sharted). My wife can’t get past saying Rudisill Blvd. without the image of me with frozen shart down my leg and exploded beers – to make matters worse they were Little King’s Cream Ale.
    I was lying in the road in tears and no shower ever felt better.


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  10. Linda said on November 13, 2012 at 6:42 am

    Here’s the reason Shanghai is working differently from us: they respect teachers. They offer incentives because, when you think about it, that’s how you treat a worker class you respect. That’s how the U.S. attracts good workers in most fields that aren’t teaching.

    We abstractly worship teachers in inspirational movies, but we don’t want to pay good money for them. We draw inspiration from stuff like Teach for America and charter schools were green recruits are worked to pieces, but are reluctant to create an attractive long-term career in teaching for most people. That’s because a lot of the people in charge of the “education reform” movement in this country don’t respect workers in general. The idea of incentive mostly revolves around threats–we’ll get rid of your tenture, and may give you some bonuses if we don’t fire you.

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  11. David C. said on November 13, 2012 at 7:38 am

    My sister is the secretary at a charter school. She said they have a 50% turnover of teachers every year. The good ones go to the public schools and they get to keep the bad ones. So much for innovation.

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  12. Linda said on November 13, 2012 at 7:51 am

    Re: the supervisor in McDonald’s working with her young charges. It reminded me of a story in the LA Times about a Target store in Compton, California that actually had a workplace counselor to help its workers with their issues so that they could hold down their jobs.. It’s worth a read.

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  13. Dexter said on November 13, 2012 at 8:14 am

    As soon as I read JWNJ’s story I knew another sharter was to be soon documented here at nn dot com. Both you guys made me laugh, thanks, because I have a little poo poo pee pee story of my own. I am a night owl and I am only awake at 6:00 AM if there’s an emergency. I was up until 4:00 AM watching TV and I walked the Labbie dog. Two hours later I was made aware of that tell-tale smell: my beautiful sweet dog had crapped on the carpet! It wasn’t any problem tracking down the pee spot as well. This is a real pain in the ass for me. Pick up and clean, scrub the spot by hand, then fill and run the big carpet cleaning machine. Believe me, scrubbing dog waste residue spots , liquid and solid, is so much easier when using the hot-water and chemical solution with a powerful rotating brush than it is to use elbow grease, down on my painful knees. I just continued and cleaned the entire carpeted area, so that’s done. It’s my fault: I made chili dogs last night and I split one for the dogs. I think the black bean chili sauce was just too much.
    Once a trucker friend of ours took his wife along on an east coast run and then he got dispatched to Florida, so they called us to ask if we could take their child to a truck stop in West Virginia so the kid could go along and they could go to Disney World. We met up at a Flying J or TA or whatever and had a big Sunday buffet dinner. Ninety minutes back towards Ohio was when I had what I will call my Alex moment. I had been poisoned by the buffet. There was no driving to the next exit, there was just pulling over on a damn-busy freeway and scrambling down the hill across the barrier railing and letting ‘er rip. Disgusting. It then took hours longer to get back home as I had to stop in to every rest stop until I finally got home.
    Years ago my doc put me on a medication takes a body time to adjust to. Rural Ohio, on the way to the graveyard shift, and I wasn’t going to make it. I came upon an old-time cemetery, the kind with worn, small headstones. Just the same height as a toilet bowl. ‘Nuff said. 🙁 … and then I felt so bad for desecrating that grave I returned in the morning with materials to un-do my mess.

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  14. Dorothy said on November 13, 2012 at 8:29 am

    I will spare you all the specifics but I will say I learned my lesson last weekend about the necessity of taking stool softeners while also taking percocet. Saturday morning was extremely unpleasant for me after going five days without :going”, if you catch my drift. I thought perhaps there would be a baseball bat in the bowl once I was finally relieved.

    My husband was let go from a job he’d held for 13 years, had 7 months of severance pay (full salary) from Nov 2000 to May 2001. His degree is for mechanical engineering. He took a job as a clerk at Lowe’s so he’d at least be bringing in some money. We banked his unemployment for the 7 months – that helped pay for our daughter’s first year @ Penn State. Three days after he started at Lowe’s he was offered a job – after a phone interview only – in Cincinnati. He didn’t pack any balanced bags for customers but he did wait on more than a few jerks who were condescending assholes. When we shop at any home improvement store now he always tries to be sure he is respectful and polite to an amazing degree. He knows what they have to handle.

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  15. Danny said on November 13, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Last night, I saw a video of Ms. Broadwell giving a talk at a college. In it, she explains how she was “embedded” with General Petraeus. Obviously, she is a literalist.

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  16. beb said on November 13, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Everything about the Patreus scandal has gotten squirrely, except the General himself. His philandry was, by comparison to everything else, dull and boring. This is a story you couldn’t make into a movie, unless directed by Mel Brooks.

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  17. Danny said on November 13, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Now this.. this my friends, is good, good writing. Particularly the paragraph below which has it all… alliteration, humor and a whole lot ‘o awesome.

    “Some of the steamier messages made clear that it was an affair. The besotted Broadwell may have viewed the curvaceous Kelley as a threat. Broadwell may be able to run a six-minute mile with Petraeus, but Kelley looks like a woman who lets the guys do all the running—and in her direction.”

    From this link: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/11/12/exclusive-paula-broadwell-s-emails-revealed.html

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  18. Danny said on November 13, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Crap, missed a pointy-html-tag bracket. It is supposed to read.

    Now this.. this my friends, is good, good writing. Particularly the paragraph below which has it all… alliteration, humor and a whole lot ‘o awesome.

    “Some of the steamier messages made clear that it was an affair. The besotted Broadwell may have viewed the curvaceous Kelley as a threat. Broadwell may be able to run a six-minute mile with Petraeus, but Kelley looks like a woman who lets the guys do all the running—and in her direction.”

    From this link: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/11/12/exclusive-paula-broadwell-s-emails-revealed.html

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  19. nancy said on November 13, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Gotta get John to fix that edit button. He was working on it, but he must have been distracted.

    Meanwhile, if you want good writing, there’s talk on Romenesko’s site that this might be the best lead ever:

    Roy Mars was peeing in his compost last weekend — it adds nitrogen — when he looked up and saw something streak across the sky.

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  20. Danny said on November 13, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Okay, one more from the article and only because I know you were a Sopranos fan:

    Agents are required to abstain from even listening to such purely personal conversations as mushy talk between a mob killer and his mistress. Minimization in these instances may have saved lives, as Mafia wives are notably more liable to express their fury physically than, say, military spouses. The wife of one Gambino crime-family boss sent an email concerning her philandering husband that was unquestionably a death threat. She then followed it with an apology.

    “I am sorry I misspelled ‘arsenic.’”

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  21. jcburns said on November 13, 2012 at 9:07 am

    What edit button?

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  22. Danny said on November 13, 2012 at 9:10 am

    jc, it is better without the edit button.. then the record stands and this place is written in ink.

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  23. coozledad said on November 13, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Pissing on your compost adds nitrogen and also hastens the breakdown of larger pieces of organic matter.

    Piss-saving and community composting were essential factors in the development of Chinese civilization. They also led to the discovery of gunpowder, once they figured out the combination of dried urine soaked animal bedding and charcoal produced an explosive mixture.

    Before the development of large scale saltpeter mining, the Royal houses of Europe uniformly enforced a “King’s Tax” on piss soaked straw the same way they did for naval stores and mast-quality pine. Press-gangs were also conscripted to dig up the earth floor in the corner of your house where you were most likely to take a piss.

    I tell this to people at parties, adding “It pretty much died out around the time of the Stuart Monarchs and the development of smokeless gunpowder”, at which point they tell me I’m batshit.

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  24. LAMary said on November 13, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I recall a line from Ben Johnson about “ladies who piss on their hands to make them soft.”
    There is urea in hand lotion to this day. Piss, it’s free and there’s no shortage of it.

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  25. Dexter said on November 13, 2012 at 9:37 am

    danny…I watched that Jon Stewart interview with Broadwell from the NY Post site. That “embedded” word just jumps out of the screen back atch-ya. Did you catch the part when she describes “our relationship”? But she was cool…I find it hard to simply label her as a whore. She was and is an opportunist. No way do I believe she “fell in love” with the general. This was a power-attaining grab.
    Once I knew a young woman who had moved here to Ohio from Texas. We were in a group that included my good friend, a man of 40 or so at the time, and the pretty young lady was about 25. She developed a real crush on my pal, and the fact that he was happily married after a rough patch made no difference to her. He continually ignored her hints, then one day after our meeting she purposely walked right past us two guys and said to her friend in an extra-loud tone, ” …oh yeah, I date married guys…[giggle giggle]…” I looked at my friend and shook my head “no”. He looked back and responded the same way…then he grinned and just shrugged his shoulders. I knew right then he was a goner. He was gonna fuck-up. He did. His wife found out and since he was on his final chance anyway, he was out of his home, no contact for months with his kids. He started back up with the crack pipe and the booze and drifted off to Orange County , California to bum off an elderly aunt. The old lady directed him into a drug rehab and he returned to Ohio so changed I didn’t recognize him. From a real plain -looking dude , he now had multiple piercings and a wild dyed hair situation, and was gaunt-thin and he mumbled a lot and wouldn’t speak unless he had a glowing Marlboro in his face…I guess he thought he was Keef. My point is…he was in a stable environment, in good shape, and crazy pussy ruined it for him. Or he ruined it for him, either way. He’s been married a few more time since those days, but I have not seen him for a decade.

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  26. Peter said on November 13, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Sweet Lord, this is the best topic since who knows when!!!

    First off, Dexter, the MacD’s you went to by Comiskey was located at the southwest corner of 35th and Wabash, at the south end of IIT. It says a lot about engineers and architects that my alma mater was served by not one, but two McDonald’s at the edge of campus property – Black Macs on 35th and Wabash, and White Macs on 26th and King (now closed).

    McD’s employees wouldn’t spit on your burgers – you can see them being made. The shakes might have been a different story, so I never got one unless I could see the machine.

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  27. Prospero said on November 13, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Before this Petraeus/Allen hoohaw, I would have thought being a US General was a time consuming and difficult job. Now, I’m wondering when they squeeze a little work into their hyperactive sex-emailing schedules.

    The official said 20,000 to 30,000 pages of emails and other documents from Allen’s communications with Kelley between 2010 and 2012 are under review. He would not say whether they involved sexual matters or whether they are thought to include unauthorized disclosures of classified information. He said he did not know whether Petraeus is mentioned in the emails. Holy shit, that’s 41 pp. per day. If he gave it a rudimentary plot, the General could be replacing Shades of Gray on the NYT lists.

    As far as the Kelley twins are concerned, I think Mix-a-Lot said it all. As for the American Big Brass:


    Never worked at MacDs, but did have a dishwashing job once when I was in college. It was a high end steak and roast beast place. Very depressing on game days in Athens putting $1000s of dollars of food down the disposer from the dinner plates of Tri-Delts too loaded or anorexic (or both) to eat. The steam heat from the big machine was ennervating to the point of being debilitating. Very unpleasant work.

    The former PM of India Morarji Desai was a believer in and practitioner of Urine Therapy and claimed that drinking his own urine healed his hemorrhoids. And that’s alliteration, four “h”s in just three words.

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  28. mark said on November 13, 2012 at 9:41 am

    “…she knew stuff the President didn’t know! ”

    That seems to be damning her with faint praise. She kne about the CIA safe house, the requests for more security, the “prisoners” held there and the FBI investigation, while nobody filled the President in on anything, or so the story goes.

    Seriously, how can the FBI be investigating the Director of the CIA and nobody tells the President?

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  29. Peter said on November 13, 2012 at 9:44 am

    OK, here’s the second story:

    My sister got her first full time job in Chicago on the basis of her past work experience – her resume had an entry which stated that she was a sales rep handling fleet sales, and started a specialized worker training program.

    Months later her supervisor asked about that job – my sister said she worked the drive up window at Burger King and trained her replacement.

    Well, the joke was on her, eventually. The building’s owners were Mormon, and one day they came to town and took my sister out to lunch. They brought up her personal life “we see you’re married, Tina, thinking of having children?” “Planning on coming back to work after you have a child?” My sister thought it over and said that she values being a mother and raising a child, but she also values her career, and would come back to work. They thought it was a shame, “back where we’re from a woman takes time off her career to be a true mother.”

    My sister took the hint, and found a new job two weeks later. One year later she became pregnant, and then she did take the next 20 years off.

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  30. Peter said on November 13, 2012 at 9:46 am

    LA Mary, there was a former Cub (NNc crew, help me out on this one), who regularly urinated on his hands to toughen them up.

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  31. Dexter said on November 13, 2012 at 9:46 am

    LAM: Piss, the magical cure all! I went to grade school in a very primitive rural Indiana setting, and some kids’ parents used home-remedies in lieu of taking the kids to doctors.
    My friend told us how his dad cured ear-aches: Take a tin can and piss in it. Let it set overnight. Pour a few drops into the infected ear in the morning. Cures- ear aches!

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  32. coozledad said on November 13, 2012 at 9:52 am

    That seems to be damning her with faint praise. She kne about the CIA safe house, the requests for more security, the “prisoners” held there and the FBI investigation, while nobody filled the President in on anything, or so the story goes.

    Eric Cantor could have notified the president if he hadn’t been balls deep in trying to to figure a way take Boehner’s job.
    What is it about the Fox News tribe that they don’t understand historically male dominated institutions are hermetically sealed, all the better to facilitate ball swinging, backbiting and infucking. Have they never held a goddamn job?

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  33. Bob (not Greene) said on November 13, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Peter, it was Moises Alou. Thanks for bringing back memories of 2004. I can’t believe Cincinnati wanted anything to do with Dusty Baker after that disaster.

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  34. Joe K said on November 13, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Try having to go 5 miles into a 10 mile run, I always carry some paper with me when I run. One advantage to running in the country is corn fields, the bad is trying to go in the woods while wearing reflective gear, you really show up in the glare of headlights. While it has never happened to me yet, I have heard story’s of guy emptying there flight bags and lunch boxes, while airborne and punching a grumpy.
    Pilot Joe

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  35. Prospero said on November 13, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Henry Rollins takes gloating over the recent Presidential election pretty seriously.

    Actually Mark, Broadwell did what you’re doing. She related some bullshit from Bullshit Mountain and got the details awry. And Cantor did know about the mess on October 27, according to Cantor.

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  36. Danny said on November 13, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Dexter, I had an interesting/terrifying incident earlier this year where a crazy neighbor lady was kinda after me. And though it does not make a difference from my reference point, she is young and good-looking too.

    It started out simple enough. my wife was away for three weeks on a European trip with a girlfriend because I had to remain home for work issues. The single mom next door, who we have helped from time to time, was having a birthday party for her 7-year-old son and my wife had texted me instructions to help her by taking over a folding table, some chairs and a canopy for the party.

    The party was on a Saturday and I did not attend the (again due to work issues), but when I collected the borrowed items the following day to put them away in our garage, the neighbor struck up a conversation with me and expressed how really appreciative she was and how she wanted to invite me to have dinner that night with she and her son. I, of course, politely declined and went back to work (yes on a Sunday) because I had some crazy stuff going on in Turkey and Spain that I had to work on.

    Anyway, I get home about 10 PM Sunday night and there is a prepared meal waiting on my door step with a nice “Thank You” note and a renewed offer for dinner some time this week. I get in my house, start towards the bathroom to get ready for bed and there is a phone call. It is this woman asking me if I could come over right then because she had something important to talk to me about. I could hear her son in the background, so I thought it might be innocent enough, but it wigged me out a little because I thought with the timing of the call, she must have been watching for my arrival home that night. Anyway, I figure with the son present, I could stop by and see what deal was, so I walk over after washing my face. I ring the door bell, the door opens and she is standing there all doe-eyed and dressed to the nines. Soft mood-lighting is in the background and her son, the 7-year-old, is no where to be seen. This really concerned me so I made some excuse as to why I could not stay and how I was very exhausted (which I was) and left immediately, telling her, perhaps we could have a discussion another time… like maybe a cold day in hell, I was thinking.

    The next morning as I left for work, there was more food waiting at my door step with a note to enjoy the food for lunch, have a great day and a renewed invitation for dinner and a serious conversation about “something.” This, of course wigged me out farther, but trying to put the best context on the situation, I chalked it up to a cultural difference between us since she is Vietnamese and perhaps this was a normal cultural foible ala Gran Torino.

    Well at work that day, after a series of morning meetings, I come back to my desk at lunchtime with seven text messages awaiting me. I thought, Robin must be having a great time in Europe and she wanted to fill me in on the day’s excitement. Boy was I wrong and as you my guess, this was NOT the case.

    Instead, it was the neighbor woman who had sent me all these texts in very broken English declaring how she thought I was “good, honest, nigh man who deserve better” and how she would “have baby” for me and her then son would “have brudder” and how Robin “very nigh also, but I love u more” and “I will take care of Robin in her old age.”

    I mean total WOW.

    All of the blood, of course, was draining from my face when I read these messages and I felt quite sick. My first thought was what had I wrought and my second was, what I had ever said or done to give this woman her these ideas. I quickly texted her back something in very simple English that would be less likely to confuse, that she had the wrong idea, that Robin and I are very happy and she is the only woman for me and please stop texting me, calling me or talking to me. Additionally, I called our friends, another married couple, and we decided it would be best if my buddy stayed over at my house to keep me company for a few nights in case anything crazy happened (which it did) and that I should wait to tell my wife until she got back home in a week.

    While my buddy was over, we ended up watched all of the Godfather’s and a few Rambo’s, occasionally interrupted by this neighbor knocking at the door to see if I had changed my mind about dinner.

    Geesh. Upon her return, my wife took care of the situation, but it was strange and it all happened while I was dealing with a 4-alarm fire situation at work.

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  37. nancy said on November 13, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Stopping work right now to sketch out a sitcom/reality show pitch — a household with a husband, first and second wives, with the second wife charged with taking care of the first, as a payback for giving wife no. 2 a brother for her firstborn.

    Oh, wait, someone already did that. “Big Love.”

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  38. Danny said on November 13, 2012 at 10:27 am

    And just think, Nance. We could have had that amount of awesomeness you describe on the national stage, but nOOO-ooo… you had to vote for Obama!

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  39. 4dbirds said on November 13, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Men sending pictures of their junk is nothing new. Before I was an officer, I was a legal clerk for an ordnance battalion in Germany. One of our young officers sent a photo of himself naked with his ‘member’ wrapped in a ribbon to a pretty young enlisted woman. She handed the photo over to her commanding officer and young officer was soon drummed out. This was around 76/77.

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  40. Bitter Scribe said on November 13, 2012 at 10:27 am

    My first job was at an A&W, and it just about turned me off to the world of work forever. The basic problem was that the owner rarely showed up and left it to us teenage inmates to run the asylum, with predictable results. My first night there, the biggest, dumbest guy on the staff came up to me and told me that every new hire had to “rumble” him. (We ended up indeed getting into a fistfight, just not that night.) I don’t even want to talk about what we did to the food. Suffice it to say I’ve never patronized an A&W since.

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  41. 4dbirds said on November 13, 2012 at 10:30 am

    May I also join Nancy in saying that while the fit male body is a thing of beauty, I would never respond to anyone who sent me a photo of himself naked. It is way too strange. A nice smile? That’s another thing entirely.

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  42. 4dbirds said on November 13, 2012 at 10:45 am

    My daughter, the cancer/hit by a car survivor currently works for McDonalds. She loves it and apparently they’re quite happy with her. Everything is computerized so her short-term memory problem doesn’t foul up the register or the customer orders.

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  43. Deborah said on November 13, 2012 at 10:46 am

    From this thread I will forever now associate charter schools with sharts. Sharter schools.

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  44. Bitter Scribe said on November 13, 2012 at 11:03 am

    I’d be interested to know the ratio of male-nudity pictures that were unsolicited vs. requested. My guess is, it’s pretty high.

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  45. Peter said on November 13, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Danny: I could swear that’s a scene out of Playboy After Dark’s European Vacation: “You bring friend? Two handsome men for me?” (cue chicka-chicka music…)

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  46. Danny said on November 13, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Funny, Peter. We have two close friends who are Vietnamese and we asked them if there was some sort of cultural thing going on. They assured that there was not and that this woman was what she seemed, a crazy home-breaker. They have offered their services as translators in case there are any future “mix-ups.” Probably no need though. Robin was quite direct with her, especially about the parts of having a baby for me and taking care of her (Robin) “in her old age.”

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  47. Prospero said on November 13, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Petraeus was boinking Broadwell. Then Petraeus started boinking Kelly. Broadwell told Kelly to stop the boinking via email. Shirtless dude, who also wanted to boink Kelly, complained to Cantor (we don’t know who Cantor was boinking), who clutched his pearls and complained to the CIA. Meanwhile, the FBI, which wanted in on the boinking, wrote to the CIA, at which point Patraeus resigned because he couldn’t continue to do his job amidst all the boinking.

    That helpful recap is posted by Traak as a comment on the following Crooks & Liars post:


    Punching a grumpy?

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  48. Mark P said on November 13, 2012 at 11:32 am

    I saw a news report about one of the women involved with the generals’ scandal (Night of the Generals?). It said she had “low level classified” documents on her computer, but that the FBI had determined that she had authorized access to them, no no problem. As usual, the media have trouble with what “classified” means. From the report I concluded that she did not have ANY classified documents on her computer, because NO ONE can legally have classified documents on an unclassified computer system, whether they have authorized access to that information or not.

    And now, about the odd uses of pee. I read somewhere that in the past people (including, and possibly mainly, royalty) rinsed their mounts with pee to whiten their teeth. It also ruined them, eating away at the enamel, so eventually they ended up with really bad teeth. But for a while they looked good!

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  49. LAMary said on November 13, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I’m shocked to learn that powerful men in high visibility jobs screw around. Shocked.

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  50. Kirk said on November 13, 2012 at 11:53 am

    It wasn’t my first job, but for about six months of my freshman year in college, I donned a paper hat and clip-on bowtie and worked at a Dairy Queen Brazier. It kept me in beer money. Worst disaster was when I didn’t put the milkshake holder on the mixer securely enough, and chocolate mixed with DQ ice cream-like product hit me in the face.

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  51. alex said on November 13, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Punchin’ a grumpy is Hoosierspeak for having company knockin’ at the back door.

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  52. brian stouder said on November 13, 2012 at 11:57 am

    So between the generals and the sharts and the whizz and the shirtless pics* – it’s Bodily Function Day at good ol’ NN.c!

    Put it all in a blender, and the general effect (so to speak) is that it’s reminding me of Dr Strangelove.

    General Jack Ripper, and his precious bodily fluids; and/or George C Scott attending to business in the bathroom at his mistress’s flat. (She answers the phone, and then yells across to him that “It’s the president!”, and – from the bathroom – we hear him bellow back “Can it wait?”)

    Anyway – upthread the word “whore” was used sarcastically, and that reminded me of a youthful-Lincoln poem from the 1830’s which also used that term sarcastically, which I just re-read a day or two ago.

    I’ll copy that here tonight

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  53. LAMary said on November 13, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    I just read that Paula Broadwell got her master’s at University of Denver. My alma mater is showing up in the news for something other than hockey scores lately.

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  54. Peter said on November 13, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Mark P, “royalty rinsing with pee”? I think that was in the film playboy showed after Danny’s.

    And “Night of the Generals?” Oh, we can find a better NSFW name than that.

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  55. LAMary said on November 13, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    If you find D. Trump as offensive as I do:

    Urge Macy’s To Dump Donald Trump http://signon.org/s/wx=Hbt @signon

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  56. brian stouder said on November 13, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks to lunchtime at Uncle Google and this site –


    Here’s the clip from AL’s ditty

    >>Whatever Spiteful fools may Say —

    Each jealous, ranting yelper —

    No woman ever played the whore

    Unless She had a man to help her.

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  57. Catherine said on November 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Total tangent, but there’s a Donald Trump FRAGRANCE? Is that what batshit crazy smells like?

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  58. coozledad said on November 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Catherine: A mixture of tangerine and butt-sweat?

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  59. Prospero said on November 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    John Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe have similar taste in wildly funny, 20th century dissident Russian novelists. Coming undoubtedly to Masterpiece Theater soon. And anybody that hasn’t should read The Master and Margarhita as soon as possible. Hilarious satire, brilliant novel.

    I really want somebody to find out Allen West is involved in the Generals brouhaha, or is it a fracas? Like, West was mailing shirtless photos of Ayn Ryan to Hermanator Cain. And pantsed photos of Anthony Weiner to Rieille Hunter.

    Power of piss.

    And apparently, from Crooks & Liars, the FBI guy in the Swinging Dicks Emailers Club is a bonafide Teabanger Obama conspiracy theorist.

    Nate Silver: Karl Rove ::Climate Scientists: Non-scientist Climate Deniers.

    There is probably a whiff of merkin glue in that Trump cologne. I mean, he’s got the world’s largest beaver wig on his ginormous head.

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  60. Deborah said on November 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Ok now we add butt-sweat to the list of body fluids on the thread today.

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  61. Joe K said on November 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    In pilot speak, punching a grumpy was a exit strategy. Urban speak, defines it as speed shitting. It’s nice we can drop the political stuff and get back to discussing important things.
    Pilot Joe

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  62. coozledad said on November 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm


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  63. Catherine said on November 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Flop sweat with notes of bergamot and bat guano?

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  64. Catherine said on November 13, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Brian, love the Lincoln poetry. Apparently the answer to, “What would Lincoln do about General Petraeus?” is “Fire his ass.”

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  65. del said on November 13, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Yes, it’s true, sometimes even generals have a tough time getting their soldiers to salute.

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  66. Peter said on November 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    JW from NJ, that was a good shart story, but my friend can top it:

    He’s in Rome visiting Saint Peter’s, and all of sudden his lunch is implementing a rapid exit strategy.

    Terrified, panicked, he finds an employee who speaks English, and directs him to the WC, which is located in the basement at the end of the colonnade on one side of the square. My friend dashes out of the church, runs across the square, flies down the steps, runs to the end of the corridor, lunges through the door to the toilet, finds an empty stall, closes the door, and – didn’t quite make it to the toilet.

    The pants are completely soiled. But there is a silver lining in every cloud – a teenager is nearby, washing his hands. My friend stands on the toilet, asks him for a big favor – on the way in I saw a cheap clothing store a few blocks from here – can I give you $100.00 to buy a pair of pants for me? The boy says sure.

    Two hours later, and for some odd reason, the boy hasn’t shown up. My friend exits the stall, rinses down the pants as best he could, puts them on, and climbs the stairs to make the walk of shame.

    Well, he’s walking through the square when he’s stopped by the police – scoozi, could you wait here for a minute, a motorcade is entering the square, so several people in the motorcade can see my friend, with the wet pants, leaving a brown pool at St. Peter’s Square.

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  67. john (not mccain) said on November 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    I am quite surprised and a little squicked to discover so many others have befouled trousers stories. I will spare you the details of mine except to note that waiting to get home was not an option. I had to sneak into a ladies’ room in one of the Key Bank Towers in Buffalo for repair. I feel so sorry for the unlucky woman who was next in that room.

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  68. nancy said on November 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    And that’s what you get for trusting a kid in the Vatican.

    These stories are killing me.

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  69. Connie said on November 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    It’s all too icky for me today.

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  70. Julie Robinson said on November 13, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Me too, Connie. I figure it comes from growing up without any brothers.

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  71. brian stouder said on November 13, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Julie – I had 4 brothers (and no sisters) – and I’m icked –out!

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  72. Connie said on November 13, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    I don’t know Julie, I have two younger ones.

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  73. Mark P said on November 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    We really need that edit button. I just reread my post and saw that people used to rinse their “mounts” with pee. I guess most everyone figured out I mean “mouths” since I mentioned teeth. But still, I’m picturing horses bathed in pee.

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  74. Dorothy said on November 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    I find all of these stories to be honest and straightforward. In retrospect I’m wishing I had not hit “Submit Comment” until I waited for a half hour or so after typing my 2 cents’ worth today. So I apologize to all for not reconsidering what I shared. I’m not grossed out too much by the other tales (four brothers and lots of boy cousins!) but I am glad these kinds of conversations are few and far between here!

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  75. jcburns said on November 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Next big redesign that will have all kinds of other changes that discombobulate and annoy regular readers, the edit button will return. When is that? Ah, not sure.

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  76. MichaelG said on November 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    When I was in Vietnam we had a saying: Happiness is a dry fart.

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  77. LAMary said on November 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Mark you had me imagining all these smelly toothless horses.

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  78. 4dbirds said on November 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    I too learned to carry some tissue in my pocket when I went running. Just saying.

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  79. Prospero said on November 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    MichaelG: Yes it is. Sherri, I admire your knowledge of sports, but deciding them Dawgs cant beat Bama isn’t smart after A&M did. Johhnny Football is not nearly as good a QB. UGA’s back 7 on D is basically better than everybody else, and Gurshall is unlike anything A&M has seen in centuries.

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  80. Sherri said on November 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    The Petraeus-Broadwell-Kelley-Allen story is entertaining and salacious, but meanwhile, this general is being accused of much worse and is flying under the radar: http://fayobserver.com/articles/2012/11/08/1216138

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  81. Joe K said on November 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    My brother, who sometimes ways in here had a incident standing in line at meijer ran into the bathroom dropped trow and let loose, looked down at the next stall and saw high heels. Yep lady’s room.
    Pilot Joe

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  82. Scout said on November 13, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    MichaelG @ 76 FTW.

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  83. Scout said on November 13, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Reason # 7544 that I have a love/hate relationship with Arizona.


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  84. paddyo' said on November 13, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    LA Mary, you have no idea how the Broadwell connection to D.U. just got played out on last night’s early news here in Denver.

    Channel 7, the ABC affiliate, led with a story about how a talk she gave previously at the U. of Denver gave “insight” into the then-secret relationship with Petraeus. The station aired archive footage of her at the DU podium, and superimposed, on the left side of the screen, a copy of her book’s cover.
    Only it, uh, wasn’t exactly the cover. Check out what some hapless producer apparently too hastily pulled off the Internet and aired live for Denver viewers:


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  85. deb said on November 13, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Danny, that story was incredible. Props to your wife! She’s the man. Woman. Maybe both. I’m in awe.

    JC, thanks for bringing back the edit button. Those of us in the biz are never happy with that first draft.

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  86. deb said on November 13, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    The Donald Trump fragrance almost certainly involves a heady (har) aroma redolent of hair products. And not the good expensive ones, either.

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  87. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    In ministry, there is a certain look in the eyes that you learn to be double extra special careful of, as in don’t end up in the building last after a meeting with, be careful about requests to “ride together” to that meeting, or having conversations anywhere other than with other neutral parties within ear and even eyeshot. Broadwell has that extra intense, a little bit anxious, too much smile sort of look.

    Which is why one of the best things Billy Graham set loose in the church is the principle “never be behind a closed door with a woman who isn’t your wife or your mother.” There’s lots of well-meaning pressure to end up in that situation, and you have to learn to not offend while making it clear that you just don’t do that kind of counseling, and don’t do visits to private homes under those circumstances. Because you can’t always tell, and worse, you really can, but it’s not something you can explain fully.

    And I will say, that “look” (an unfair and uncertain category, anyhow) has something to do with lots else going on in a person, and if you make your boundaries clear, you can have a good working relationship and they’re good people, and you may always wonder “I may have been wrong about her.” But it’s best to not find out the awkward way.

    If you lean in, encourage, and accept inappropriate intimacy in those circumstances, you’ve got problems. Clergy with problems aren’t as uncommon as I might wish, and I suspect being a general on a base and a pastor with a church have a great deal in common, minus the stars on the collar. But we’ve been teaching power differential ethics to clergy for about twenty years now, and some just can’t get that it comes down to a simple principle: don’t get busy with parishoners. Period.

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  88. Bitter Scribe said on November 13, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Getting back to the McDonald’s thing, this is somewhat related.

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  89. Kaye said on November 13, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    What a lovely story at Bitter Scribe’s link above. I hope the Chicago folks here will stop by Curt’s Café and support their mission.

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  90. Deborah said on November 13, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Oh so sad Jeff tmmo, I can so remember in my former life being entirely unhappily married and a visit to my doctor when he put his hand on my shoulder and gave it a squeeze meant so much to me. I would never in a million years at the time have thought it was a sexual overture. It’s just that I was so needy physically, that someone touched me in that quasi-intimate way was reassuring. So sad to remember now that I have remarried and life is so different for me.

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  91. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 13, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Hugs and shoulder squeezes aren’t the problem, nothing wrong and everything necessary about personal contact — just not behind a closed door. Especially when the other person is controlling the door.

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  92. Danny said on November 14, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Amen, Jeff. In my situation, I thought about Billy Graham’s example… and also Joseph with Potiphar’s wife.

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  93. Dexter said on November 14, 2012 at 1:05 am

    Well, I suppose we have all our stories in by now regarding bathroom accidents.
    I suppose that even though this blog is certainly far from being a family blog, it is still a step back from plunging into tales of embarrassing situations in that other field: getting caught doing stuff we sometimes do in motels and neighbors’ bedrooms that gets us in all kinds of trouble. I think this is well and good. Who wants to read about our friends’ sexual mishaps? I think that with this thread today, ” we’ve gone about as fer as we can go”. But who knows?

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