Thursday, 21 September 2017

Gluckhaus - A Work In Progress

I wanted to post at least once a month, so I better get this in under the wire.

This is a gluckhaus board on which I am currently working (along with several other projects, both medieval and mundane). Gluckhaus was a gambling game popular in Germany during the late Middle Ages. We don't, as far as I know, have any extant game boards from the period, but there are several post-period examples available, and it is probably a reasonable expectation that the board didn't change much over the centuries.
Feel lucky, punk?
Gluckhaus (or House of Fortune)
Essentially, players take turns rolling a pair of dice. If there is no coin on the square bearing the number rolled, the player places a coin there. If there is a coin there, the player takes it. The only exceptions to that are the squares marked 12, 7 and 2. Square 7 is the wedding and is often denoted by a pair of interlocked wedding bands. When a 7 is rolled, the player must always pay a dowry, or a gift, as one does at a wedding, and this pot continues to build until a 12 is rolled. Rolling a 2, the Lucky Pig, entitles the player to take all of the coins on the board except for those on the 12 and the 7 (Wedding). The square marked 12 is devoted to the King, and because nothing can be denied to the King, the player rolling a 12 takes all of the coins on the board, including the wedding pot.

Though a German game, I feel a similar game must have made its way to the taverns and inns of Paris. Therefore, my board is decidedly French, and in keeping with Philippe's Dauphinist sentiments, somewhat monarchist as well. Hence, the fleur-du-lys in the corners. The golden emblem on the 12 space is a fleur-du-lys surmounted by a crown, an image taken directly from a 15th c. piece of embroidery from France.
The image of the pig is taken from the pages of Les Tres Heures du Duc du Berry, and thus an appropriate image for the time and place. 
The King!

The original, a piece of silk embroidery now housed at Paris' Musee Cluny de Moyen Ages.

The pig is taken directly from Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc du Berry, and is thus a perfectly period image for the time and place.
As mentioned earlier, this is still a work in progress, so I have not yet added the wedding rings, the other numbers on the squares, or the embellishments on the edges. I plan to use an intertwining floral motif taken from a suitable manuscript. Or maybe some fish/dolphins/dauphins.

Beyond the images, however, this is not a period-accurate board. It is made of plywood, and I used acrylic paints. This is because it is really my first effort at workworking and I wanted to keep it fairly simple. I am learning a lot on this project, and I hope on my next effort to use a proper piece of wood and egg tempera paints.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

A Hazy Shade of Douchebag

A lot has happened since I posted last, most of it unpleasant, but some of it positive enough to keep me from climbing to the top of a bell tower with a high-powered rifle. Still, there are moments...

To begin with, the day after I had a long and very supportive, positive talk with The New Guy, he called the department into the conference room to announce that he had to resign for private and personal reasons. It was a terrible blow to us (except Bananarama), and as he broke the news, one could easily see that the decision had gutted him. My strong suspicion is that his wife either decided she couldn't or wouldn't move to the municipality of Buttfuck from the city where he had worked prior to coming to us. I am speculating here, but it is possible that one of his kids has special needs or something and maybe they were having trouble finding a school or a specific program...I don't know. All I know is, everyone in that room (except Bananarama) felt a great loss at this announcement.

One of the last things The New Guy did before he left was write a report to the City Solicitor with a list of recommendations for changes to our department.  And specifically one of the concerns he raised was the culture of bullying that the clerks have to endure from specific individuals.

And thank Christ on a Cheeto that he did, because Bananarama has been on an unholy tear. And she's either not that bright or she feels empowered (or both), because she's been bullying me publicly for the whole department to see. At our large departmental meeting prior to his leaving, The New Guy and everyone else watched as Bananarama brought up the isolated incident of the incorrect acknowledgement letter that I mentioned in my last post. She wanted to discuss it as a series of ongoing, chronic issues, when--as stated--it was a one off. And I did not shrink away from reminding her that this was a direct result of her jumping the queue and insisting that her work be done on a priority basis. Bananarama did not like being confronted with inconvenient facts. She clearly resents it, and that, children, is tough shit for her.

The result of this exchange during the meeting is that The New Guy suggested implementing a new policy by which claims that need to be opened on an emergent basis be strictly defined and adhered to, so as to avoid "those that shout the loudest" getting preferential treatment.

But, of course, being the childish slitch that she is, Bananarama has punished me ever since. One day last week, I was in the photocopy room doing, you know, MY WORK, and while the adjuster M. was discussing a particularly stupid claimant with me, Bananarama breezed into the room and immediately swiped her security card on the machine, thus interrupting my print job.

M. couldn't quite believe her eyes. She looked at me, saw that I was unimpressed (and stunned) and then she said, "Bananarama, The Best Fucking Clerk in the World is in the middle of a job here."

(Okay, she might not have referred to me in those terms, but work with me here.)

"Oh," Bananarama said, unconvincingly. "Sorry."

Then, just this past Wednesday, it happened again, only this time, M. wasn't in the room. I was printing, Bananarama came in and swiped her card on the machine.

"Excuse me," I said. "I'm in the middle of something here."

"Yeah," she said, "I see that."

I fantasized briefly about taking her teeth out with a bus bench, but there wasn't one handy, so I collected my work and went immediately to my supervisor's office. She was conveniently talking to Bananarama's boss also. I briefly described the interaction, mentioned that it was the second time, and thanked them for listening to me. Bananarama's boss was in her office before the hour had expired, and according to one of the other clerks, he gave Bananarama an earful. And she attempted to deny the whole thing ever happened.

But he knows her, and he knows me, and I believe my character and my work speak for themselves. Anyway, the upshot is that now, Bananarama is not speaking to me (at all), there is even more tension in the office, and we have lost The New Guy. 

I'm not sure how this is going to pan out.

I could really use some time off.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

It's A Cruel Summer

It is a given, when dealing with the public, that one will encounter all manner of douchebaggery. What buggers the mind is the stultifying magnitude of the public's willful stupidity, hostility, ignorance and entitlement. It is never easy or pleasant to deal with, even if, like me, one is able to find a modicum of humour in all of that crap.

And this is why it is doubly disappointing when there are people in one's office who *are* the public and behave just like them. Way back here, I blogged about Bananarama, who has turned out to be, alongside Oscillating Fan, one of the worst offenders. Her behaviour has been an ongoing concern for the clerks, our supervisor, Bananarama's supervisor and the other adjusters. She is a bully and an asshole such that she has been *required* to take the Respectful Workplace workshop twice. But I think Bananarama is made of teflon, because it isn't sticking.

Bananarama is, like OF, immune to social cues and feels entitled to your time, no matter what you happen to be doing or how busy you are. Her files are to take precedence over all other files and whatever other tasks you might have before you. There is a process for the adjusters if they want changes or updates to their files. They are either to send an email with instructions to a specific mailbox (in which case the changes are made within two days) or put the physical file in a specially-marked bin. We always have at least one clerk, often two, dedicated to such miscellaneous requests.

But Bananarama regularly brings the file directly to the last clerk who looked at it to explain how we fucked up (even though her instructions about certain procedures vary from week to week). She utterly ignores the established protocol and sails into one's office to demand special attention. And when one says (through one's sandwich), "I'm on lunch", she responds with, "Okay, but I just want to show you this one thing..."

We have a new director in our department, and Bananarama hates him with a passion. This is, quite possibly, the best endorsement of his capabilities that we might have, because if Bananarama hates him, he's probably not putting up with her shit the way the former director did. The former director was a rather studious, stooped, slender man with a shock of thick white hair and a gently wry sense of humour. He always reminded me of a medieval monk. He was an excellent leader, but he was older and tired of his work, and one could see that he was just looking forward to hitting the links in Arizona. Which is what he is doing right now, and I wish him joy of it.

The New Guy *might* be forty years old, comes from the public sector, and is as bright and shiny as a new penny. He is shy and awkward like a schoolboy, but has been vociferous in defending his new department against the usual municipal bureaucracy, makes an effort to make a personal connection with each of us at least once a day and remembers little details about us from conversation to conversation. I think he is fantastic, and the only one who seems to have an overt issue with The New Guy is Bananarama. The rest of us would marry him tomorrow.

So this past week, the office was short-staffed. My supervisor is away for two weeks, the awesome man who oversees the adjusters is on medical leave until September, and Pancreas (one of the three clerks) was on holidays. And it was a brutally busy week.  If I opened one claim, I must have opened sixty or seventy (which I assure you is a lot) in addition to my other duties. In fact, because Pancreas didn't open a single claim last Thursday or Friday (when the Clueless One was absent), I was still working on claims from last week on Monday.

So, whatever, right? It is what it is, and the only thing one can do is put one's head down and get the work done. 

Except on Monday at 12:15, Bananarama came to my cubicle with a file in her hand and asked if I was opening claims.

"I am after 1:00," I said."Right now, I'm on lunch."

She moved further into my office to stand next to my desk. "Okay, I just want to ask you if you'll open this claim for me right away."

"I can't. I'm still working on claims from last week." (This is against policy, by the way. We clerks have been told we're not permitted to tell the adjusters "no". But my experience with Bananarama is that if you give her an inch, she'll put a battlecruiser in it.)

"Yeah, but this woman has already been waiting a long time and blahblahblah."

Now to clarify, this woman had been waiting a little while, but not because we were behind in our work. The claimant had not gone through the regular channels, and therefore all Bananarama had was a collection of emails to her from another department. But as usual, she felt that her file should be opened on a priority level. Rather than argue with her, I told her that I would try to get to it as soon as possible, and she finally left my office.

She came to me the next morning to ask if the claim had been opened yet. I said "No". So she came back again at 1:00 to badger me further about it. I felt harassed and bullied, so took the fucking file and opened it right then and there. Unfortunately, in my haste (and resentment), I sent the wrong acknowledgement letter to the claimant. 

Bananarama lost her mind. She came back to my office to point out the error in no uncertain terms, insisted I resend it with an apology, and then, on her way out of the office, she stood in the hallway and said, "You guys (i.e.clerks) really need to pay attention to what you're doing."

The rest of the week was equally challenging. By the time Friday rolled around, I was ready to rage-quit. And the day started shittily when I discovered that the Clueless One wasn't coming in because of some issue with her mommy (not medical). I was, therefore, the only clerk on duty.

Now I will take a moment right here and now to say that the other adjusters pitched right in. They knew what kind of week I'd had and both Ruby and M. offered to open their own claims and generally do whatever they could to lessen my load. It was really nice and I absolutely appreciated their offers. It is people like this that keep me coming back to the office at times like this.

I had a busy morning, and decided to take my lunch a few minutes early. At 11:45, I went to the kitchen to heat my pasta. When I came back, Bananarama was seated in my chair at my desk, writing instructions for me on a file she wanted me to work on that afternoon. She didn't say anything except "hi", and proceeded to sit there at my desk, forcing me to stand and wait for several minutes while she wrote a note. Then she wanted to explain what she had written.

I was, by this time, seething with rage. I almost told her to fuck right off. Seriously. Only the spectre of my fucking mortgage kept my tongue still. But by that time, I had had enough. So I choked down my lunch, and spent the rest of my lunch hour composing a long and precise letter to The New Guy about what had happened this week and over the past few months with both O.F. and Bananarama. Let me tell you, that letter compiled an exhaustive list of their various transgressions, and I did apologize for bringing the concerns to him, but in the absence of absolutely everyone else, it went to him by default.

His response?

"Please never feel that you cannot come to me with your concerns, that is what I am here for.

"We will fix this."

So for a while I felt a little better, especially when he sad he wanted to set up a meeting with me next week to talk, and that if Bananarama came to me at all that afternoon, he was to tell me and he would provide an intervention. And I do hold out hope that The New Guy can effect some kind of change or standards so that this culture of bullying will stop. We will certainly see what happens in early September after our departmental meeting.

But on Friday after work, the Fragrant Missus and I came home to discover that some addict had been in our garage and jacked some of our shit, some of which will be difficult to replace.

So, I'm not in the best space right now, kids. I'm thinking there isn't enough Prozac in the world to make me feel right about people again. 

Monday, 21 August 2017

Oscillating Fan: A Mighty Wind

Last week during our weekly clerical meeting, the subject of the Oscillating Fan came up as a general grievance. Specifically, it was suggested that our supervisor ask OF to turn down the volume on her cellphone ringer, as it is very loud and very distracting, especially since we are all in rather cramped quarters.

This was duly done. After our meeting, we all went back to our desks and our supervisor went in to see OF and had a very appropriate, very discreet chat about the volume of her cell phone. Although I sit directly outside OF's office, I wasn't able to hear this conversation.

But I know it happened because mere moments after our supervisor left, OF came out of her lair in a towering fury and complained loudly and longly to Marianne Faithfull about the audacity! How dare anyone! ANYONE! complain about the volume of her ringer! It's not loud! Some people just like to complain obviously! SHE doesn't complain (at which point, I almost choked, that's all she fuckin' does, is bitch and whine), but she is certainly going to start NOW!

And I confess I was very disappointed to hear Marianne Faithfull get right in there with the whinging. She completely supported OF, saying shit like, "People's music drives me crazy (Clerk 3) and blahblahblah, but I never say nothin', but I guess that's gonna hafta change."

And this very public exchange was done directly in front of my cubicle, so that all three of us clerks could hear it. It was aggravating to say the least to have them bully us in this manner for no better reason than we find OF's ringer loud. But we were left in no doubt as to where we stand in that office.

Or rather, *I* was left in no doubt. I mentioned in a private message to the clerk I shall call Pancreas that I deeply resented their attempts to belittle and demean us in this way.

But apparently Pancreas hasn't an ounce of critical analysis in her body because she said, "They don't have status over us!"

Uh, honey, I don't know how you can miss this, but they DO. Have you seen their paycheques? Their offices? Their other benefits? Their cellphones? Pancreas, not only do they have status over us, THEY JUST RUBBED OUR NOSES IN IT.

But I digress.

I asked the Clueless One and Pancreas if they felt comfortable going to our supervisor about it, and they demurred, saying, "Nothing's going to change" or "I don't want to make trouble." But I went anyway, cuz FUCK THAT and FUCK THEM. As usual, I found my supervisor to be extremely receptive to my complaint, she made note of it for future, correctly identified it as bullying (without being prompted) and thanked me for my time. Like, genuinely.

And then later in the week, OF was standing at the door to Marianne's office when OF's cellphone rang. And like the adult she is, OF said, "Oh, my phone. I better get it before it gets too loud."

I had to fight to suggest she stick it up her ass sideways. But both my supervisor and OF's supervisor are away for the next two weeks This means the likelihood of me getting written up for insubordination is distinctly lower than at other times, so it might just happen.

Watch this space for future updates.

And now, it is time once again for

The Claim Of the Week

Sometimes, when I try to imagine the inner mechanisms of my client's minds, I get an image of a repellent, moist slug oozing its slick, slimy path over a barren brainpan, eyestalks waving blindly in the dark, searching desperately for a glimpse of its own intelligence.

I'm not inclined to summon the slug image, though, because I rather find slugs fascinating in their way and would not intentionally offend them with comparisons to the shitbags that call my desk.

Instead, I usually imagine two, maybe three, brain cells, one of them gripping a mostly empty bottle of wood grain alcohol, stumbling around in the vast, black, empty cavern of their skull, pinging off the walls and each other in a more or less random fashion. And they hum tunelessly or shout non sequiturs, like, "He shoots! He SCORES!" or "ZUCCHINI!"

That's typically how I imagine them, dipshits like the windowlicking motherfucker who called me this morning. I start at 8:30, and by 9:00, I was ready to sign off on the entire race.

Jurassic Dork called up to ask me how to go about filling out a claim form, because on Friday, he made a turn and hit some barricades that were on the sidewalk with the result that he damaged his own car.

"So, just let me clarify a few things," I said. "You hit a stationary object on the sidewalk with your car. Is that correct?"


"Well, the City of Buttfuck is not going to pay out that claim."

There was a startled pause, while PeePee Cheeks attempted to process this unexpected response.

"Why not? They were your barricades!"

"They are stationary objects."

"Yeah, but..."

"Let me ask you this; if your car was parked and another vehicle hit your car, would you expect to pay for that car's damages?"

"So, you guys just put up barricades wherever you want and then walk away?"

"Are you suggesting that the barricades require supervision?"

"No, but they were sticking out into the lane! What do you expect me to do if the barricades are sticking out into traffic and there are cars in the other lane?"

"The City of Buttfuck expects you, as the operator of a motor vehicle, to slow down, stop if necessary, wait for the traffic to pass, and then proceed in safety without striking a stationary object."

"So, you're not going to do anything about the damage to my car, even though they were your barricades and they were encroaching on traffic? I mean, why didn't you push them back?"

"Because the barricades are placed where they are for safety reasons. They are there to stop motorists from driving into that area for safety reasons."

And at this point, the remaining functioning brain cell in this cheeto-dick's head clearly passed out in a feotid pile of its own entitled vomit, and he hung up on me.

Which was, I have to admit, imminently satisfying and a complete victory for me. It was also timely on his part, because I was about to remind the deadshit dicksack that the City of Buttfuck is not his personal Demolition Derby, and furthermore, I'd be retaining his contact information in case we needed to speak to him about recovery to damaged barricades.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

I'm Not A Fan

Most of the time when I post about my Place of Employment Not Enjoyment, I am fulsome in my contempt of the whiny populace, who seem content to wallow in vast seas of entitlement and ignorance, topped off by the frothy foam of verbal abuse hurled at those paid inadequately to serve them.

And that hasn't changed. Why, just last week, I opened a claim for some stunned bitch who feels that the City owes her the replacement of her tires because she ignored the decline of the entrance to the alleyway and drove over the curb. She instead drove into the hole where the City was doing work on the sidewalk. Her reasoning for why we should replace the tires? "I just had them replaced a few months ago." Right. Because you drive like a fucking asshole, bitch. DENIED.

Or I've had to log various incident reports from the rec centres, where young men (what is it with MEN, all-fuckin-ready? Y'all need to GROW UP as a gender, for realz) sneak into the facility without paying and then, when confronted by the staff, call the employees "faggot" and throw basketballs at their head with force enough to injure.

So, yeah, the crippling stupidity/ignorance/general dipshittery of the public continues unabated.

What has dismayed me profoundly over the last month or so is the same behaviour exhibited by one of the adjusters in my office. I call her The Oscillating Fan, because she is prone to standing around and yapping inexorably about nothing of any substance. It's really just air. 

This woman is so fucking annoying that I have had to rescue other adjusters from her endless monologues. I am famous on the floor for inventing reasons for going into the offices of these hapless victims in order to get her to move onto someone else's office (because she rarely goes back to her own). I will even go back to my desk and phone the adjusters, posing as a claimant, just so they have an excuse to get rid of her. (I will say, however, that these other adjusters need to grab a pair and start telling OF in no uncertain terms to fuck right off. Mind you, there have been a few that tried and she just talks over them, so there's that, too.)

Part of the problem with OF is that she is about as thick as two planks nailed together. She simply doesn't (won't?) pick up on social cues. People can be avoiding eye contact, looking at their screen and answering in monosyllables, and she just carries on blabbing. She has come into my cubicle at noon hour (more than once) and seen me sitting there with headphones on and YouTube on my screen and food in my face. Does she pick up on the signal that I am ON A BREAK? NO. She still asks me to look shit up for her or whatever. And when I tell her, "Can this wait until 1:00 when my lunch is finished?", she gets this look on her face like a break is a novel concept. Clearly, I am there to serve, lunch hours be damned.

Unfortunately, my cubicle is directly across the hallway from her office, so I am able to hear exactly how much she shags the canine. And, believe me, if OF is gifted in anyway, it is her ability to avoid work. It is truly staggering how much time this woman devotes to personal concerns during work hours. Because at least if she she was talking to these other adjusters about work-related issues, it would be an easier pill to swallow. But, OF comes in (late--she's already been disciplined for leaving early), and immediately goes into Marianne Faithful's office to talk about the weekend, or her daughter (not surprisingly, OF is a helicopter parent), or her sister living with dementia, or dogshit.

I cannot begin to surmise how many hours (no, literally, HOURS) OF has spend on the phone with another City department, talking about how one particular patron of the off-leash dog park she goes to doesn't pick up their dog's doodoo. I don't know how or why this issue requires hours of her attention, but it does, and when it is quiet in her office, she is usually texting her family on her cellphone. 

Also, she is a passive-aggressive twat. A couple of weeks ago, she was on the phone doing some actual work on a file when Reception called to say that OF had unexpected clients who wanted to see her. Rather than interrupt her while OF was doing rare and genuine work, my colleague left a note on her desk, explaining the situation. OF stayed on the phone for another twenty minutes, and when she emerged from her office, she said, "Well, someone could have taken (a document) up to these people for me."

Fuck you. Do it your damned self. Are we supposed to read your tiny mind? I'm glad I can't, because I don't think I could handle that profound a void.

Of course, we complain. OF's lack of a work ethic is well-noted with her supervisors. And when her immediate supervisor (who absolutely rocks, she is lucky to work for so splendid a person) has chats with her about her behaviours, you can hear her screaming at him beyond the closed office door. It is truly appalling. Let me tell you, people, unless it is someone like the streetside preacher I've mentioned previously, I don't talk to anyone like that (without serious provocation). I seriously don't know how that bitch keeps her job.

But it is completely demoralizing to work so hard and do the best we can, putting up with the steady levels of ignorance and shit from the public, and have to watch OF fuck the dog egregiously with no consequences. She makes the good bucks, she has a nice office with windows and a door (which she should use more often), and many other benefits as well. Meanwhile, I make considerably less, have an indoor cubicle with no door and work my whole entire ass off with civility and true dedication to supporting all of the adjusters (even the ones that need a good solid kick in the box with a frozen mukluk). And this bitch can't even respect the ONE HOUR I take for myself for lunch without interruption.

I am reassured by my supervisor that there is a department meeting coming next month during which these concerns will be addressed, but I am not sanguine. OF is one of these people who thinks "I wonder who they're talking about" when allegations of fucking around are raised. And as we've seen, she has absolutely no respect for her boss. (This guy is so rockin' he deserves his own praise-worthy blog post. Serious.)

It's like I said to a couple of the adjusters last week. In a department like ours, support and mutual respect goes so far in getting the work done and maintaining a harmonious workplace. Seriously, we're all just trying to help each other get home. But people like OF? They want to get there first, not to open the windows and get some food going for the rest of us. They just want to nab the best spot in front of the fireplace.  

Thursday, 13 July 2017

White Douchebaggery

Thanks for your patience, kids. It's been a while, I know, but the douchebaggery has been plentiful since I wrote last. It would be hard to encapsulate for you just how many examples of entitled fucking whining I've had to endure over the last month or so, so I'm not even going to try. 

No, I'm not going to describe the pinhead who is pounded outta shape because kids have been kicking soccer balls against her fence for years, so she wants us to replace it.

And I'm not going to describe the obvious clusterfuckery of the privileged twat in a Lincoln Navigator who hit a traffic barricade, but thinks we're to blame for his shitty driving. I hope that ignorant pignut chokes on it when we charge him for the replacement of the barrier.

And I'm sure you can all get behind my glee when I had to transcribe a phone call from some drunk cumsplat who dropped the F bomb every second word, and invited us to "CALL ME BACK, MOTHERFUCKERS!" I'm tellin' ya, that call made my whole day.

No, I'm going to take a break from municipal douchebaggery to talk about White People Behaving Badly. It happens a lot, especially in relation to other people who are not white. White People just can't--as a rule--get their shit together. They either make assholes of themselves trying to show how inclusive and liberal they are, or they're just outright fucktards.

One of my colleagues came to my desk a month ago around noon hour to ensure that I wasn't leaving the office. There was an anti-Islamic rally going on in the square in front of our building, you see, and she was concerned that in my quest for food that won't make my Nazi bastard bowel (named Klaus) punish me for eating, I would pick a fistfight with the slack-jawed biker dudes demonstrating against our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Cuz this is the kind of thing I am inclined to do. I've been seen challenging the dipshit streetside preacher who shows up at noon hour and yaps about how we're at war with God, and only Jesus can mediate on our behalf, but you can't bow down to Mecca twelve times a day or worship the Virgin Mary. This kind of shit just sets me off. I will just stand there in front of this prick with my middle finger upraised until he can't ignore me anymore, and then I will inform him that Muslims only bow to Mecca five times a day and that the Virgin is just the female face of God and that if he's going to spread hate about other faiths, he should get his facts straight.

And then sometimes, I invite him to die in a fire. And I'm encouraged by the fact that I'm not the only one, that other (white) people also get all up in his hateful bidness on a regular basis.

But most of the time, what I see are White People Behaving Badly. Like this anti-Islamic rally, for example. How deeply insecure and terrified do you have to be to go the trouble of organizing a rally about brown people? Sheesh. Get over your sorry racist selves.

I have a couple of Islamic colleagues at work. One of them--I'll call her Fatima, cuz why not?--dropped by my desk the other day to tell me about her trip to the mountains the week before. She went with a couple of female friends, two of whom were wearing hijabs. At one of the region's very beautiful lakes, they encountered a (white) woman who was renting canoes and other unmotorized watercraft. Bambi fell all over herself trying to make Fatima and her friends feel welcome.

She reassured them that everyone was welcome there and they were welcome to do whatever they felt was necessary (pray, I guess? Not eat pork by the lakeside? I dunno). I mean, I know her intentions were good, but Fatima said it was a little over the top. Like, mildly embarrassing.

But at least her heart was in the right place.

Unlike the older woman at breakfast the following morning. This mature woman of a certain age was openly gawking at the Muslim ladies, especially the ones in their hijabs. And she didn't bother to lower her voice when she said to her male companion, "My god, they must be so hot!"

Well, no, Mature White Woman With No Apparent Volume Control, they aren't. Because if you bothered to look at the world around you, you'd see that people in very warm countries know that it makes more sense to put on more clothes than fewer when the weather gets hot. They look at us stripping down to shorts and t-shirts and think, "Soon? You will be brown!" 

But more to the point, honey, if you have questions or curiousity about other cultures, there are lots of places you can go to educate your damn self. You could, oh, I dunno, ASK ONE OF THEM. Because they'd much sooner you talk to them than about them. 

And if you're not curious and all you want to do is be a giant, pale douchebag, then you can deepthroat a cactus, mayonnaise monkey.

Grow up.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Verbal Dance

It's Wednesday. I'm only halfway through this week, but already, it's a long one. I've had to deal with a LOT of dumb. 

Like, for example, the tuna taco who called to tell us that her fence was damaged by a "City obstacle". If you're like me, you're confused by that comment, because the fence is usually the obstacle. But no, this clueless cabbage went on to explain that there has been a "Road Closed" sawhorse in her back alley for two or three weeks and allegedly, someone ran into it yesterday, damaging her fence. She'd like us to fix it, because "...I have a dog that could get out and bite someone and I don't want to be responsible."

As if that needed saying. 

Fuck off.

Remember M. stertore, who wanted compensation for his time because he got lost on the way to the dump? His claim was denied, because there were no actual damages and the City isn't liable. If he went to the Sev and got wrong directions, would he sue 7/11? He was asked by the adjuster if he had consulted Google maps or his gps, and his response was that he is using a gps unit from when he worked at a local utilities company and couldn't download the most recent updates. This is a clear indication that he stole the gps unit from his former employer. Nevertheless, M. stertore has vowed to take this to "the highest level". The Mayor's Office? The Supreme Court of Canada? God? 

Bitch, ain't nobody got time for that. As Russell Peters would say, "Be a man." 

Fuck off.

Everybody's mad because no-one wants to take responsibility for anything, and they all wallow in vast ichorous cesspool of entitlement and ignorance as to how their local government operates. They scream and froth like mad dogs about fiscal responsibility until it's their shit that gets damaged, and then they expect us to dash off a sizeable cheque right fuckin' now.

Like the stunned bum fiddle who called me on my personal, direct line yesterday (THE cardinal offense, ladies and gentlemen) to tell me that she was involved in an incident on the bus earlier this month, and she was talking to her neighbour, who told her she could make a claim against the City and get compensation for the humiliation she endured. And she's asking for $10,000. The incident? The bus driver making out the report indicates that Bum Fiddle is a "heavy set woman of about 400 lbs" who was in a scooter. He notes she was not strapped in, although the safety straps were available. And as he turned the corner, Bum Fiddle tipped over.

Now, because I am myself a real bitch, the first thing that comes to my mind is, "Wow, how does a seated woman of that girth tip over???" However, I digress. The point is that Bum Fiddle was not injured by this incident in any physical way. We cannot put a price on her pride, she eschewed the safety devices provided to her, yet she feels absolutely confident in calling me up and asking for ten large without even going through a fucking lawyer.

Fuck off.

And now, children, it's time for 

The Claim of the Week

As all of you local folk know, we recently had some high winds. Lots of damage occurred. Tree branches fell on vehicles and into yards. It's true, a lot of City trees were involved. However, although we are a mighty municipality, we do not control the weather and we are not liable for the wind, and therefore, this is, in insurance terms, an Act of God. This is one of those situations in which you should be contacting your insurance companies. Because that is what they're for. It is simply astonishing how many people think this is an unreasonable suggestion. What do you pay that insurance company for, exactly? Is that a charitable donation? 

Anyway, the following is a letter from a claimant with what I would delicately describe as some anger management issues. She's upset by the wording in the acknowledgement letter she received about her tree branch claim. She writes:

"To whom it may concern...if in fact it concerns anybody.

Thanks for the great letter from a city that really gives a SHIT!!!

It was all put so very nicely..."I can go to my own insurance company".  Are you freaking kidding me?

It isn't a surprise that the city of ********* takes NO RESPONSIBILITY. Next time leave out the verbal dance and just tell me to FUCK OFF.*

Thanks for NOTHING

**City of Champions my ass!!!!!!"

This is after the acknowledgement letter. What the fuck is this bitch gonna do when we deny her???

* I excel at writing letters endorsing the combination of sex and travel and would welcome an opportunity to write the one this stench trench so richly deserves.

**This is a reference to the City's slogan, which is fucking lame and based on when the hockey team here (don't get me started on professional sports) had a string of consecutive victories, but that was 30 years ago, and the ballcap brigade can't let it go. It's really pathetic.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Christ Almighty

Monday was a holiday and I had Tuesday off, so this has been a short week for me.

But short weeks don't mean I don't get the short end of the stick, as far as stupid claimants go. No, like ants at a picnic, they abound, crawling out of the woodwork by the thousands to spread their stupid all over the place. And, children, there isn't a can of Raid big enough or powerful enough to stop these fucking titwanks from phoning or faxing their demands for compensation for things that really don't concern the local government.

For example, some enraged dumb shit (sp. Muta stercore) called today, complaining that he had called another department of the City that is usually accessed by people who want to complain about the douchebag preacher on the street corner (ooh, don't get me started), or their neighbour parked his trailer on their lawn or there's a rotten tree on City property. You know, stupid crap that the cops can't or won't deal with.

M. stercore was seeking directions to the recycling centre (we have several), and called the complaint line for said directions, which--not surprisingly--turned out to be incorrect. Go figure. Oh, he could have used Google, but did he? No. He might have consulted a City map. But he did not. Essentially, he called Dear Abby to ask her where the hardware store is.

But does this stop M. stercore from having a pissy hissy fit? Of course not. Instead, he calls our IVR system to leave his claim, and tells us that he expects to be compensated for his wasted trip, carefully itemizing two people at $30 per hour ("That's sixty bucks"--no shit, Sherlock), and a 45 minute trip ("That's fifty bucks"--wait! What?) and ten bucks worth of gas (in 45 minutes? What the fuck were you driving? a 747???).

And it's not like we're going to entertain this kind of claim anyway, so M. stercore can piss up a rope. We don't pay dumb shits because they get lost and don't consult a fucking map.

In a similar vein, kids, it's time for

The Claim Of the Week

Crazy Twat (sp. Insanus vaginitis) submits a claim this week, explaining that she wants the City to pay her $29.81 because she missed the bus, was late for work, missed a meeting with a client and had to take a cab to work. Because apparently, she just couldn't wait the fifteen minutes for the next bus.

Well, thanks for trying, I. vaginitus, but we're gonna give this one a pass, if it's all the same to you. Next time, leave the house a little earlier and take some personal responsibility for your choices.

Oh, and fuck off while you're at it.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Slip Slidin' Away

Are we seated comfortably? Then we shall begin.

Oh, my children, the post I have for you today will bugger your mind. Go get yourself a nice snack and something to drink, make sure you have no distractions and indulge yourself with this most recent account of

The Claim Of the Week

A woman submitted a claim, asking the City to compensate her for a new pair of pants. These were very special pants. These pants were suggested to her as a way of dealing with her "postpartum dystasis". For those of you not familiar with this, it is a medical term that describes what happens when a woman bears down with extraordinary pressure while giving birth and essentially shits out her own asshole. She extrudes her butt. 

Now, because I am a douche and an uncharitable person myself, this is blogworthy all on its own. But, no, it gets better!

You see, this woman tore these expensive pants on a nail that was sticking out of the top of a children's slide at one of our large parks.

Which, of course, begs the question, "If your asshole is hanging out of your asshole, what the actual fuck were you doing on a slide?"

Frankly, the visuals are just too much for me to handle. 

And there's more!

This morning, she got a hold of the adjuster in charge of the file to ask some questions, all of it information contained in the acknowledgement letter we send out when opening a claim. So the adjuster asked her, "Did you receive our acknowledgement letter?"

"Yes," said the woman, "but I didn't really look at it."

{Ed note: Fuck you, bitch. Eat a bag of dicks.}

"Were you able to get photos of your pants?" the adjuster asked.

And the woman's response was--and I swear I am not making this up--"No, because my bottom was hanging out."

I would like to feel sorry for these people, but they make it really hard.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

This Ain't No Tickle Trunk

Mostly I intend to blog once a week when I have time, but this week, I have to confess, I'm really struggling. This month, I am on the rotation in which my tasks require me to interact with all the reports and details that expose the inner douchebaggery of our fair municipality's citizenry. Looking at all that selfishness, stupidity and entitlement makes one feel really mucky, and this week, I am weighed down by the utter triviality of my job.

Today, I took a call from a claimant that sounded just like this:

Dink: Hi, I'm submitting a claim...
Me: Uh-huh.

Dink: My car got towed because there was street cleaning and I didn't see the sign.
Me: (silent eyeroll) Uh-huh.

Dink: And the tow truck damaged my car. It damaged my oil pan.
Me: I see.

Dink: So, do you need photos of the oil pan?

Me: No, the bill from your repair shop is sufficient documentation.

Dink: You don't need pictures of the damage?
Me: No.The damage will be noted on your bill.

Dink: Oh. Do you need pictures of the oil on the road?


Christ on a crutch, Dink--if I don't need photos of the actual damage, why the fuck would I want photos of oil blots on the road? Can you not process thought in a linear fashion? Just submit the fucking claim already. Dink.

And yet, he wasn't even the worst burr under my saddle blanket this week. Yesterday, I was doing incident reports from the rec centres and I received three--count 'em!--THREE separate reports from three separate employees about the same incident involving urine on the toilet seat.

It seems a rec centre employee noticed a young (teenaged) male patron pissing on the toilet seat in the men's room. The employee told the patron to clean it up, to which the patron replied with a familiar hand gesture and an invitation to the employee to enjoy sex and travel. Angry words were exchanged, which meant the involvement of two other employees and thus, children, I ended up having to read, save and archive three fucking reports about pee.

Now, on the plus side, it should be noted that *I* personally did not have to deal with either the patron or the piss, but I nevertheless have had one of those weeks in which I have had difficulty finding my work meaningful. Instead of writing a fucking useless incident report about this, I would have summoned Security and had that young pig removed from the facility with a two week ban imposed.

Because natural consequences, people.

Out of nearly forty incident reports, there were about a dozen thefts, mostly reported by people stupid enough to leave their wallets, shoes and phones on the floor of the change room in duffle bags. An elderly couple bitched and whined and felt singled as victims of ageism because the lifeguard on duty asked Ancient Vagina if she was feeling alright, since she had been in the hot tub for half an hour. Yanno, these elderly assholes would be the first ones to moan that there isn't adequate supervision at our facilities if Grandma had had a fainting spell. 

No, only one of those incident reports was of any significance at all. And it was a doozy. A rec centre employee noticed two people in the parking lot next to a vehicle. One of the people was choking the other, and forced the victim into the trunk of the car, and closed the lid. Then the choker allegedly stood around for a few moments until another car pulled up, and two people got out. At this point, the choker opened the trunk and the chokee got out, and was--the report says--not agitated.

Therefore, the rec centre employee chose not to summon the police. Probably not the decision I would have made, but what the hell do I know?

Only that it fills me with the kind of dismay that makes me sag on my spine to share the planet with people this fucking stupid, brutal and ignorant. People who think that it's okay to urinate on a public toilet seat and then verbally assault someone who objects. People who choke other people and put them in the trunks of cars. Douchenozzles who masturbate in saunas and others who take a swing at a woman who wants in the hot tub, but he's too busy massaging his leg on the water jet to move out of her way.  

And, the final straw that makes me want off the planet?



Monday, 8 May 2017

Bus Stawp

WARNING: This post contains graphic content. And I don't just mean my usual swearing. I mean there might be material in this post that upsets some of you. You've been warned.

Listen, I know I'm an elitist snob. I know I live in enormous privilege, although I do try to be aware of this and grateful. I know also that I am a misanthropist, and this combination of people hating and privilege means that there are just certain things I avoid doing entirely. 

Like riding public transit. As mentioned in my previous post about the rec centres, if a large number of the public are expected to be in attendance, I just avoid doing it. And although it would be better for the planet environmentally if I hopped the Shame Train, I won't. At least, not daily.

Another part of my job is reading the bus reports that come in from the transit authority and either archiving them or assigning them to be opened as claims. The bus drivers report everything. I mean, everything, from collisions to when some dumb fuck stumbles getting off the bus and does a lipstand on the sidewalk (I am an unpleasant person, obviously, because I LOVE reading those ones). Clearly, taking public transit on any kind of consistent basis is just asking to be exposed some variety of dipshittery. 

One of the worst routes is the Number Eight, or as my friend, The Widow, calls it, "the Ocho". The Ocho is so rife with shitty behaviour that she was for awhile considering a blog called, "Riding the Ocho", a compendium of all the crap she saw while traversing the City on this route. (It is still one my great disappointments that this blog never materialized.)

So, what does one see on the bus? Motor vehicle collisions are common. No, I lie--they are frequent. I don't know how one can miss a large 20 ft long vehicle that chuffs and farts like a fat guy after too long at the buffet, but at least twice a week some ditch donkey tries to cut the bus off and clips the bumper or rearends one while it's stopped. And this is not during the winter, children! This is when driving conditions are dry and clear.

One of the biggest complaints we get are about these inadequate dipshits in oversized pickups (usually called something ridiculous like "Titan" or "Avalanche"--oh, the fragile male ego! These are probably the same primates who get their hair cut at Tommy Gun's) who bomb past the bus and clip the bus's mirror with their own. And they don't stop! They just keep driving!

Still these are all usually pretty minor incidents and typically don't result in very much damage (to the bus) or injuries. It's actually riding the bus that you'll find the most disturbing/disgusting/unbelievable crap. I mean, you can take that literally, if you like--there is plenty of pant-shitting on the bus, to be sure. 

And let's not forget the young girls who spit on the bus. Right in the aisle!

Perhaps one of the most revolting incidents I read about was this one: a young guy was half asleep on his way home. He was careful to note in the incident report that he was wearing an expensive Perry Ellis coat and hoodie. He even noted the monetary value of each. So there he was, blissfully snoozing his way home from the office when the chick in the seat behind him barfed all over him, thereby ruining his clothes. 

Poor bugger. There's not much we can do for him in that case, I mean we're hardly liable for the actions of Barf Babe, but he has my sympathies. 

It's shit like this that keeps me off the Loser Cruiser.

While disgusting/funny, that incident was one in which--again--no permanent damage to anyone was done. I wish it was always so, but lately in our City, it has become a "thing" to assault the bus drivers. And I don't just mean slap them in the back of the head as you alight out the front door, either. No. I mean that a couple of times in the recent past, some troglodyte has beaten the bus driver to the point where one will never work at anything in his life ever again. 

But perhaps the most heartbreaking incident regarding public transit I can relate is the story of a young man who, according to the transit security videos, spent the better portion of the morning riding the train back and forth from the north to the southside. He never exhibited any agitation or aggression, or anything unusual at all. He just showed up on the camera several times changing cars, etc.

Then, at one point, he deboarded the train and seemed to loiter a bit on the platform. He checked his phone, but again, appeared calm and composed. While the train waited to take on passengers for the trip further south, the young man approached the edge of the platform and sat down on the edge, his legs dangling over. After a moment, he hopped down onto the track in between the two cars. 

And there, he waited patiently for another few seconds until the train left the station. He was immediately caught between the second car and the platform, which forced him to turn front-to-back, back-to-front for the entire length of the car until the operator realized what had happened and stopped the train immediately.

By that time, of course, the damage was done. The young man was virtually cut in half. Surprisingly, he survived somehow for two days following the accident. He was 16 years old, and in the two days before he died, no-one came forward to report their son missing.

And yes, I saw the video.

Well, after that, I think we need a little something to lighten the mood, don't you?

The Claim this week comes from the Transit Files and concerns a claimant who is so fucking stupid, she failed the stool test. This walking, talking synapse-free zone submitted a claim complaining that she fell on the bus after it moved forward suddenly. Happily in this instance, we had video from inside the bus that shows the vehicle to be perfectly stationary the whole time. What really happened was that Brain-Stem-Not-Attached wasn't paying attention to where she was putting her ass, and she missed the seat COMPLETELY. Instead she went down heavily in the aisle. 

But she still wants us to pay for her physio. Even though he damage is self-inflicted. 

I hate people.