Saturday, March 29, 2008

F%$#^*G Girl Scouts!

This is the last day of March, which is delightful news as far as I'm concerned. Why, you might ask? (You know you asked.) Because today is the day the f%$#^*g Girl Scouts will go back to their cheery, helpful holes, and stay there until next March. And they'll take with them the few boxes of overpriced, under-delicious Samoas, and Thin Mints, and Tagalongs that they didn't manage to pawn off on poor unsuspecting grocery store customers, office workers, and teachers the nation over.
Since my current co-workers don't have Girl Scouts of their own, I'm mercifully no longer cornered at my desk with the grease-stained, ink-splotched, barely decipherable order form, listing fellow employees who succumbed to the Cookie Mafia. ("Jesus Bob, four boxes of Samoas?") But just like the real mafia, they find you eventually. In my case, it's because they've staked out every godforsaken grocery store from here to D.C., and a person's got to pick up supplies sooner or later.
The first weekend when I rolled into Trader Joe's and saw the dejected moms standing guard at the cookie table, while a gaggle of nine-year-old girls turned cartwheels and jumped up and down and threw paper cups at each other, I thought about turning around and coming back once it was past their bedtimes. But since TJ's is a 20-minute drive, I steeled myself and stepped out, immediately assaulted by the shrill cries of "GET YOUR GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!!!" and "THIN MINTS, SAMOAS, DO-SI-DOS!" over and over like a broken record. I steeled myself to run the gauntlet, grabbed a cart, and hustled inside. Just like in prison, or if confronted by a vicious dog, the key is to avoid eye contact at all costs.

Of course, it doesn't matter how you did on the way in, how you managed to perfectly time your entrance while two scouts were helping "customers" and the third was busy with back handsprings. If you go in, you're going to have to come out. And even if you succumbed on entry, you're not assured future immunity. After all, how are they supposed to keep track of every moron who gives them $4?

Ironically, it's not even a good deal for the little satan spawn, who only receive 60 cents for every box of cookies they sell. And that rate is only for troops who rack up a certain number of sales. It's a racket, people. Which is all beside the point, because it doesn't really matter to me whether the Girl Scouts are savvy enough to identify a good business proposition. My only desire in this situation is to enter the grocery store in peace. To this end, I propose the Girl Scouts cease their lazy "bake sale" system and go back to the traditional pavement-pounding method of harassing people at their offices and homes. At least that way I can hit the deck when the doorbell rings and wait until they go away.

Until then, a whole blissful 10 Girl Scout-free months. See you next year, Green Demons!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

People Who Definitely Totally Suck, Part I

A few days ago, I introduced a new feature here at Yankee Scum: People Who May Not Suck. Yesterday, a quick glance at the headlines indicated that a far more important feature might be: People Who Definitely Totally Suck.

Of course, given my outlook on humanity, one might think this feature could become somewhat overwhelming. You know, as in take over the whole blog and leave no time or space for my insightful commentary and pithy observations. But rest assured, dear reader, that my prudent approach to posting, née laziness, will rule the day. It's a foregone conclusion that posts here, including ones about people who suck, should stay pretty manageable.

But on with the show. How to pick a subject appropriate for the inaugural post about people who suck? The good news--it sort of picked itself. On CNN (sometimes I like my "news" in small, digestible bites--sue me) I read that Wal-Mart had successfully sued a severely brain damaged woman (and former employee) named Deborah Shanks, to recoup $470,000 in medical bills that the company paid after a debilitating car accident left Shanks brain damaged, disabled and penniless.

The problem, apparently, is that Shanks received a settlement from the trucking company at fault in the accident. The balance after legal fees, somewhere around $470,000, was placed into a trust to cover the astronomical costs of her future long-term health care. But according to the fine print of its medical plan, Wal-Mart (which netted $90 BILLION in sales in just the third quarter of 2007) doesn't have to pay health care costs for enrolled employees who've received a legal settlement. The policy apparently doesn't take into account how desparately that money might be needed, but what does Wal-Mart care? It also took them three years to realize that this woman was sitting back enjoying the spoils of Wal-Mart's hard work, but hey, justice doesn't punch a clock, right?

A week after the verdict, the woman's son was killed in Iraq. Her brain damage is so severe that despite being told about his fate, she regularly asks how he is doing. And did I mention that her husband had to divorce her so that she could qualify for Medicaid?

Who says corporate America isn't totally awesome? And congratulations to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott, who earns the honor of my first "People Who Definitely Totally Suck" post.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

People Who May Not Totally Suck, Part I

Yeah, yeah, I haven't blogged for a while. What are you going to do about it?

And in that same spirit of kindness and generosity, we (that's the royal "we") introduce what could quite possibly become an irregular feature here at Yankee Scum: People Who May Not Totally Suck. Whilst I believe that most people suck practically beyond measure (and am generally proven right time and time again) every once in a while I come across someone I don't wish to run over with my car.

Tonight, while not paying attention to the Evening News with Brian Williams, I nonetheless heard a story about this year's Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. Among those honored was a man named Don Schoendorfer (this guy):

(yeah, I know, it's quite a moustache,) who founded an organization called Free Wheelchair Mission. According to the organization's website: "Twenty seven years ago, the sight of a crippled Moroccan woman crawling across a dirt road planted a seed that germinated in 1999 when Don Schoendorfer...invested his education and professional expertise as a PhD Mechanical Engineer to create a simple, rugged, and inexpensive wheelchair" like this one:

The website gets a little "God's Love"-y from there, but you get the idea. Based on Schoendorfer's pretty incredible concept, the organization has donated just under 300,000 wheelchairs to some of the world's poorest, most disadvantaged people, in 70 countries around the globe. That's just cool.

So, Don Schoendorfer, should I happen upon you crossing the street, trust that I will not swerve to hit you. To the rest of you, don't be so sure.

For more information about the organization, and how the wheelchairs are made and distributed, go to

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Uh, Say What?

Today while I waited in line to order coffee, I couldn't help but
overhear the conversation between the two middle managers behind me. You know the type--Oxford shirts, khakis from Macy's, bluetooth, youth long since slipped through their fingers. One lamented the fact that he's always forgetting his Starbucks gift card. To which the other replied "Hey, don't worry. I got bling." My snort was involuntary, promise. I couldn't help wondering, though, whether the gentleman intended to offer up a giant bejeweled necklace, or similar, in exchange for the two coffee drinks. A furtive glance behind me revealed nothing involving diamond-encrusted initials, or even a giant gold clock.
This is what happens when middle-aged men try to be cool. Money is not bling. Even I know that. And I live in the suburbs. The world's most trusted source of information, Wikipedia, (after Fox News,) says bling is short for "bling bling" (which I wish more people would use, actually, because it's hilarious) and refers to expensive jewelry and other accoutrement. But not cash.
Which just goes to show you that after a certain age, you shouldn't be allowed to watch MTV anymore.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Power-Washing Your Kid: Passing Fad or Good Parenting?

A few days ago I read about a woman in Florida who power-washed
her 2.5-year-old kid because the girl was apparently having a tantrum. The incident was caught on an unpleasant CCTV video and caused at least a small uproar.

What surprised me most about the whole thing is that it's apparently not common practice. Being mercifully sans children, I'd just assumed that at least every third child wailing like a demon at Target was taken outside in short order and given a good dousing. That's what we do with the cat when it's clawing the couch. (With a water pistol, not a car wash hose, but the cat's smaller.) And when dog's are fighting the recommendation is often to throw a bucket of water on them. Seems to me it's a fairly reliable way of discouraging unwanted behavior. Plus, some people just find it refreshing.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

That Ain't No Etch-a-Sketch

I find the conversation about whether "Juno" is a really good movie or a pretty bad movie, to be fairly entertaining. I'm open to persuasion one way or the other on the issue, but I particularly enjoyed this guy's take on it:

I want him to be my friend. I just thought you should know, home-skillet.