Saturday, May 31, 2014


There's a website called Bloglovin', where you can look up blogs of all types. Everything from fashion to cooking to travel to politics -- if you want to find it, Bloglovin' is the site for you.

Recently I noticed that someone follows my blog on Bloglovin'. So I checked it out (I was trying to figure out how they came across me, though I'm pretty sure I figured it out and it has nothing to do with the site). Anyway, Bloglovin' posts links to the last 30 or so blogs I've written, and shows how many followers I have and allows people to get notified when I blog again.

Also, there's a "Similar Blogs" icon you can click on.

So I did. And this popped up:

"Life In The Philloverse has no similar blogs"

I'm flush with enthusiasm right now. This is one of the highest compliments I've ever received about my blog.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


A couple of years ago I lived in a duplex in Whitinsville. The attic was my bedroom. I spent a lot of time in that attic. I got a lot of work done on my master's thesis there. It was like being a kid again -- a secret hideout. Eventually I moved out, but I always had fond memories of my time there.

Six months ago a fire displaced everyone there and, sadly, the pet dog died. The house was rebuilt and my ex-roommate moved back in last week. Sad memories but ultimately everyone regrouped and emerged stronger than before.

Still, if I had been living in that attic last November, I probably wouldn't be here today.

Sometimes you think about what-ifs, and you think about circumstances that send you from one residence to another, life decisions that seem pretty benign. And you're happy about the path on which fate puts you.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Why Dr. Pepper Is a Quack

Last year Dr. Pepper rolled out this series of commercials for it's Dr. Pepper 10, in which it claims the low-calorie soft drink is "not for women." Seems a little sexist if you ask me, but what the hell do I know? I'm in the business of selling soft drinks, not producing them. (Also, why risk pissing off half of your potential number of consumers.)

A while back, one of my female coworkers happened upon a can of Dr. Pepper 10.

She looked at me.

I looker at her.

"What do you think," I asked her. "Wanna risk it?"

"Sure," she said.

That was last September. Since then:

* She has not died.

* The police have not banged down her door and dragged her away in handcuffs, or worse.

* She's much healthier than before, largely as a result of joining a gym.

* She doesn't look any more manly.

* She's been promoted.

Long story short, her life has gone pretty well since consuming this beverage.

I haven't seen this commercial recently. Maybe Dr. Pepper is finally admitting to quackery.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Vehicle Inspection

One day last week I left work early. I'm driving along and a car passes me in the right-hand lane and as I see it go by I happen to notice the inspection sticker on the corner of my windshield.

It has a "4" and "2014" on it, which means I have to get it inspected in April 2014.

Which would be fine -- if we weren't well into May 2014.

This is bad. I have a way of forgetting to get my car inspected. This has happened to me before, and I wound up getting a $50 ticket.

Its particularly bad on this day, because the reason I left work early is because my uncle passed away recently and I was asked to give a reading at the services. It would really suck to have to explain to the family that I can't give the reading because I was pulled over on the way there and towed or something ridiculous like that.

Worse, it turns out that recently, every time I take my foot off the brake, for some reason my car's "Door Open" light has been going on. I do not think my door is open -- I've leaned the full weight of my body on the door in question while the car is in park (and I'm not light) and the door feels as shut as any other door in any other car I've been in. Is my car even going to pass?

I surf the Internet and find a place up the street that does car inspections. "We can see you right now," they tell me.

I stop in.

I hand them the keys.

I wait.

I pray that my car passes.

About a half-hour later, a guy comes out with my car, freshly minted with a yellow "5" sticker.

And I have a much more relaxing drive to the funeral home to pay tribute to my uncle.

Friday, May 16, 2014

How to Scare People at the Bank Without Robbing It

A couple of times a week I have to go to the bank to buy change for the store. It's a simple process --

* Balance the change safe.
* Call the bank, let then know how much change you need.
* Wait 10 minutes.
* Drive to the bank
* Get change

We keep $5 bills in tubes of $40. I had originally called in for $80 in $5s, but right after I called a customer came in and bought $40 in gas, paying with all $5s. So I swapped those $5s out of the register and filled a tube. Makes life easier. Less to get at the bank.

I got to the bank and told the teller, "Hey, somebody came in with a bunch of $5s after I called in, so I only need $40 in $5s now."

The branch manager was right there and chimed in.

"Oh," she said. "That's going to be a problem."

I was thinking to myself, are you people for real? I'm asking for less money, not more. You guys can't take $40 and put it back in the safe? You're a bank, right? This is part of what you do, isn't it?

I didn't say any of that out loud, of course. But I must've flashed some serious bitchface. Suddenly the branch manager looked like she was about to burst into tears.

She said, "Oh my God I'm sorry....I was totally kidding...I didn't mean that for real....of course it's not a problem...We'll happily give you only $40...I'm so sorry...we're a bank....this isn't a problem at all....seriously I was just kidding...I'm sorry."

I was too taken aback by her apologizing to respond to her joke-gone-awry. I let the teller hand me the change and went on my way.

I guess sometimes I underestimate my ability to bitchface.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Return of the Thursday Night Death Shift -- a Play-by-Play

When I was Assistant Manager at the Fitchburg store, I always worked Thursday nights from 3-11 on the register. Fitchburg is one of the busiest stores in the chain. And Thursdays tended to be a busy sales day -- a lot of people get paid on Thursdays so they can afford to buy their cigarettes and Red Bull again, and some people like to kick the weekend off early by going out on Thursdays. After a few Thursday nights of doing $15,000 or $16,000 in sales I started calling it the Thursday Night Death Shift.

Now I'm the manager at a different store, which means I have more control over the schedule and I rarely work night shifts anymore. But someone needed to take a personal day this past Thursday or they lost it forever.

Like Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger, the Thursday Night Death Shift never truly dies.

Thus, here's the blow-by-blow of my latest battle with the TNDS:

12:30 -- Punch in. This is a particularly rough shift because of staffing considerations, as I have to do 11 straight hours.

12:45 -- Break shift with my predecessor.

1:00 -- Finish putting away the grocery order.

1:33 -- Jump in the cooler and work on tidying it up in there.

1:35 -- Run back out of the cooler. It's surprisingly busy for this time of day. A blessing and a curse.

2:12 -- The manager of another of our convenience stores comes in, and I exchange a couple of cartons of cigarettes for a couple of cases of Red Bull.

2:51 -- Another manager of another store calls to harass me about some invoicing issue.

4:00 -- Still in the cooler. On a Thursday, this is normally about the time of day I'd be at the gym. I'm now thinking about how much more enjoyable that kind of workout is than lifting cases of soda and energy drinks back and forth.

4:46 -- Finally get the cooler in decent shape.

6:17 -- A third store manager comes in with her mom to talk about their plans for the evening. Word must've gotten around that I'm stuck here tonight. At this point, I'm pretty sure all the managers are flat-out hazing me.

7:40 -- Flip the radio dial over to the Bruins game on 98.5.

7:41 -- Realize how much listening to a hockey game on the radio sucks. Hockey's not the most TV-friendly game -- you miss line changes and it's difficult to see plays develop. But it's even worse on radio -- you can't follow the puck, you have no idea which way the teams are headed or even who's on the ice unless the announcer specifically mentions it. I've listened to snippets of Bruins games in the car when I'm on my way to something before, but have never needed to listen to it for a prolonged period. My sanity is in Bruins announcer Dave Goucher's hands right now.

7:44 -- A customer comes in and asks, "Hey, Bruins still up 1-0?" I give him a puzzled look. The game is about 2 minutes in and it's currently scoreless.

8:21 -- First period is over. Still scoreless. Now's the time to be opportunistic and do all the nightly chores I can -- vacuuming, taking out the trash, sweeping.

9:00 -- Start the nightly cigarette count for inventory.

9:09 -- Second period is over. Still scoreless. My blood pressure is rising. Also after a hellaciously busy afternoon, since the B's game started we've had about five customers (as could be expected). Now I can finish the other chores -- mopping, cleaning bathrooms.

9:47 -- A customer comes in and says, "I DVRed the game tonight. Should I bother watching it?" There's about 5 minutes left in the third period and it's still scoreless. It's been a hell of a game, but the Bruins may still end up losing and fall behind 3 games to 1 in the series. I have no idea how to respond to this guy.

10:18 -- We're at the end of regulation and it's still scoreless. Overtime. Just shoot me now.

10:39 -- Overtime barely started and less than two minutes in the Bruins score to win 1-0. Series is tied at 2 games apiece. I start jumping around and banging my fist against the counter in excitement with such force that I nearly knock over the lottery boxes. Imagine if this game was for the Stanley Cup. Someone walked into the store about the same time the Bruins scored and I think he thought I was having a stroke.

11:00 -- Close store.

11:05 -- Do the daily sales paperwork in the office.

11:39 -- Lock up and go home.

Until we meet again, Thursday Night Death Shift, I have beaten you once again.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Checking Deposit

Someone wrote me a check recently.

Every so often this happens -- I get a few checks for my birthday and/or Xmas and when I worked at The Chopper they inexplicably did not offer direct deposit -- and so one of the tellers at the bank kind of knows me.

I filled out the deposit slip and handed it and the check to her. She looked at it for a couple of seconds and smiled.

"You know," she said, "You're the only person who comes in here who actually fills out the deposit slips correctly."

I was in a hurry on this particular day and she stopped me in my tracks.

Fill in your name, account number, list the amount of cash (if any), the amount of the check(s), write down whether you want cash back and if so how much, sign.

I realize we live in an age of direct deposit and checks are slowly becoming extinct. But this really can't be that difficult, can it?