There are times when the columnist just needs to let off a little steam. Caution: This is one of those times!
Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. ~ George Carlin
I think I’m morphing into a curmudgeon. Perhaps not a curmudgeon of the dyed-in-the-wool, full-fledged, card carrying variety, but at the very least; a highly cynical, overly-critical sixty-seven-year-old angry, white male who’s just about had it with everyone and everything!
I’ve just said some extremely harsh things about myself. If anyone else had said these things about me I’d likely have attacked them. Not physically; I don’t do that anymore, but at the very least I would have retaliated by unleashing a fiery verbal barrage on them, unlike anything they had ever witnessed.
I’m exaggerating a bit here. I’m not really highly cynical – just basically cynical – the garden variety. I believe my cynicism is a valuable, integral part of what makes me a writer.
George Bernard Shaw said, “The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.” I love that quote. As a matter of fact, I’m so fond of it, I once had it printed on the back of my business cards.
And I can’t really lay claim to be overly-critical all the time, but it’s probably true more than I’d like to admit. It may be that I expect a lot of myself so I project that onto others as well. I’m my biggest critic. I’m tough on myself.
Now I will admit to being sixty-seven. I’m actually proud and amazed that I’ve made it this far. There are things that I did back in my younger days that, as I look back, probably should have killed me. But apparently the guy upstairs [that would be God] had other plans for me. I just wish he’d let me know what they are. I’ve been waiting a long, long time!
Now, as far as being an angry, white male; I’ll plead guilty as charged to the white male part, but angry? Well okay; I have my moments. I’ve been known to spike the old blood pressure on occasion, but it’s not something I carry around with me all the time. It’s not my nature. And it’s not my fault! I’m Irish!
But I must confess, I’ve really just about had it with everyone and everything! That portion of my self-portrait is correct. It’s my humble yet learned opinion that the human race is becoming more and more irresponsible, daft and dim-witted with each passing day.
Case in point; I ordered a pizza for my grandson, Logan, a few days ago. I called the pizza joint, which shall remain unnamed to protect the innocent employees of this establishment who may actually know what they’re doing. I’m sure there must be a least one or two of them.
The young man who answered the phone sounded like he had a mouthful of marbles. After mumbling the name of the pizza place, he muttered something that was totally unintelligible.
Having no clue as to what he’d said, I asked, “I’m sorry. What did you say?”
His response was, “Huh?”
“I couldn’t understand what you said,” I repeated.
Following five seconds of silence he again muttered, “Cup or diddly?” Or at least that’s what it sounded like. Since I’ve called this particular establishment many times and I pretty much know their phone routine, I surmised that he’d asked, “Pick-up or delivery?”
I decided to take a shot, hoping I’d accurately deciphered his garbled response. “Pick-up,” I said, not all that confidently.
There was another long pause. I waited patiently. Okay, I’m lying. I was getting annoyed. All I wanted was a pizza! Was that asking too much? “I’d like a small pepperoni pizza,” I said, breaking the awkward silence.
“Namma?” was his barely audible response.
“I’m sorry,” I replied, trying my best not to lose my cool, “What did you say?”
“Namma?” he responded.
Now I was irritated! “I have no idea what you’re saying!” I shouted.
“Phone namma,” the young man replied.
“Oh, my phone number!” I said in my most celebratory tone. Finally we were getting somewhere! I gave the young man my phone number – more silence!
“Hello!” I barked angrily, “Are you there?”
“Wa you like?” the budding genius asked.
“I already told you!” I shouted. “I want a small pepperoni pizza!”
“Ten to 15 minutes,” he said.
“Thank you!” I replied rather acerbically. I hung up the phone, grabbed my car keys and headed out the door feeling totally frustrated, yet gratified that I’d finally gotten through to this kid.
I pulled into the pizza shop’s parking lot, jumped out of my car and walked through the door exactly 15 minutes after I’d placed my order.
“Take out or eat in?” The kid at the counter mumbled indifferently. It was obvious that this was the same guy who’d taken my order on the phone. There was no mistaking his voice – or his blasé attitude. Lucky me!
“I called in an order for a small pepperoni pizza,” I said, confident that this horror show would soon be over.
“Oh, pepperoni,” he said disconcertedly as he turned away and walked hurriedly to the kitchen. “Yuh, made a small cheese. Back in the oven. Few minutes.”
Apparently this young man was incapable of speaking in complete sentences, but being that I have a fairly good grasp of the English language, I concluded that despite the fact that I had ordered a small pepperoni pizza [twice!], these whiz kids had made a small cheese pizza and were now putting it back in the oven after adding the pepperoni.
Under normal circumstances, I would have less-than-graciously chewed this numbskull out and walked out the door sans pizza, but my grandson was at my house, hungry and anxiously awaiting gampy’s return, so I sucked it up and took a seat at a nearby table.
About 10 minutes later, the boy wonder emerged from the recesses of the back room with my much embattled pizza. I paid him; he mumbled something that I’m assuming was thank you and I was on my way.
Logan ran to greet me as I walked through the kitchen door. “Did you get my pizza, Gampy?” he asked excitedly [and in perfect English I might add].
“Yup! I got it, Logan,” I replied as I placed the pizza box on the kitchen counter and grabbed a plate from the cupboard. I opened the pizza box and……….
These nitwits knew they had made a cheese pizza in error, had told me they were adding the pepperoni and had me wait an extra ten minutes while they fixed their mistake. How the hell did I end up with a cheese pizza!
And how stupid am I to believe that they had given me what I ordered? I should have opened the pizza box and checked before I left the store! I always check before I leave the store!
As fate would have it, I had some pepperoni in the refrigerator, so I plopped a few pieces on the already twice-baked pizza and stuck it in the oven for a few minutes, just long enough to warm the pepperoni. As I pulled it from the oven and took two pieces from the pan, a veritable river of grease ran down the inside of my arm. Logan’s pizza was an oozing pile of overcooked mush. It had been soaked with tomato sauce and oil!
Let’s recap, shall we?
I’m rapidly zeroing in on curmudgeon territory. I’m a highly cynical, overly-critical sixty-seven-year-old angry, white male who’s just about had it with everyone and everything!
Yup! I’d say that pretty much sums it up.
Bob Havey is an author and freelance writer. Bob’s book, BE NOT DISMAYED: A STORY OF SPIRITUAL TRIUMPH; the story of his daughter, Erin’s 22-month long battle with leukemia, is available on Amazon.com. For a personalized copy, contact Bob at email@example.com. Visit Bob’s website at http://www.bobhavey.net.