Bathroom bugs, the resistance, Applebee's, and fentanyl

Because they're so small, it took weeks for me to notice, but there I was, in the bathroom pooping, and there they were. Hadn't brought a magazine or a book, so I was simply sitting and grunting and looking around. Not much to look at in a bathroom, so eventually I looked down, and saw all the tiny, almost invisible bugs.

May 28, 2022

Intrigued, I watched half a dozen of them wandering across the floor tiles. After wiping and flushing, I came back with my reading glasses to get a better look.

The bugs have disgusting little pincers in front of their disgusting little faces, and you gotta wonder what they're picking up and eating with those pincers. Are these bugs biting me and my flatmates and eating tiny chunks of our flesh? I've noticed no wounds or itching.

Thought it would be easy to gross you out by finding a picture of our bugs online, but all the pincer-equipped bugs at Google Images are much, much larger than our uninvited guests. They're barely the size of a speck of dust, so small that if they weren't black and crawling across beige floor tiles, you'd never know they're there.

In an abstract sense it's kinda cool that the bugs are surviving and thriving in our little bathroom. Much as I love nature, though, a can of generic Raid is coming for them soon.

The same bugs are probably in my bedroom, too, but the room's carpeted, and in a dark shade of green, so I can't see them. And if I can't see them they don't exist, y'know?

This morning I'm wondering what I'd be doing, if I lived in Ukraine and my town was being bombed daily, people I knew and loved were dying, Russian soldiers were everywhere, and Russian puppets were running the local government.

Would I be shooting at tanks, or involved with some underground resistance... or would I be cooperating, doing whatever the Russians asked of me, an old man hoping to die of old age instead of a bullet through the skull?

After staying with my sister and mom for a while when I first got back to Seattle, I offered to take them to dinner, any place they'd like. They both said Applebee's, and they said it with a smile, so to Applebee's we went.

I'm not going to bother writing about the meal and service and atmosphere. It was exactly what you and I and my Mom and sister expected it to be. Never before had I eaten at Applebee's, and it'll never happen again, unless again it's someone else's choice.

Being only technically part of the species, I'm generally clueless about the humans and their behaviors, so for me it's a news flash to learn that many or most or maybe all of them except me sincerely enjoy eating at Applebee's and Denny's and Red Lobster and such. They choose it, prefer it.

I don't understand the appeal of Applebee's et al, but my revulsion is such a basic tenet to me, it's an instinct, more than a decision. I will briefly try, though, to explain it:

Even if dinner at Applebee's was both tastier and less expensive than at a real restaurant (and it was not, of course) I would still prefer eating in a place that's not exactly like hundreds or thousands of other places, where the menu and recipes come from one or two people's creativity, not from a well-funded test kitchen and millions of dollars in market research. If I'm paying to have a meal made for me, I'd like the food to be prepared by a person, not a corporation.

Jeez, Doug, you're so weird.

Judging from worried reports in the media, fentanyl is the drug America's supposed to panic about in 2022, following all the previous panics — demon rum, opium, marijuana, LSD, heroin, crack cocaine, meth, MDMA, etc.

There's no smoking on the bus, but once in a while people puff marijuana, and a few times I've seen people smoking fentanyl. I'm guessing it was fentanyl because it didn't smell like either tobacco or marijuana. I could hardly smell it at all, even when it was being smoked only two seats in front of me.

As a matter of good manners, if people must smoke on the bus, please make it fentanyl, just because it doesn't seem to stink.

There might or might not be something fresh on this site tomorrow. Depends on whether anything pops into my head, so probably not.

Expect nothing from me on Monday, though. It'll be Memorial Day, so no internet access — all the libraries and most of the coffee shops will be closed.

And now, the news you need, whether you know it or not...

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The city promised them a crosswalk, but years went by and no crosswalk was painted. So someone painted a crosswalk themselves. The city promptly came out to sandblast it away. 

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Manufacturer of guns used in Uvalde massacre featured photo of toddler handling gun on its Twitter feed, citing Bible verse 

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One-word newscast, because it's the same news every time...

♦ ♦ ♦

The End
Julie Beckett
Colin Cantwell
Hazel Henderson

Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to All Hat No Cattle, Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always Stephanie...


  1. We experience the world similarly, Doug. My MiL, tired of going to the independent ethnic restaurants we pick (Indian, Mexican, Thai), asked if we could maybe go to a "good restaurant like Applebee's." This is a lovely woman who drives past her locally-owned handpacked ice cream stand to eat exclusively at Dairy Queen, so corporate branding is huge with her. We gently explain why we prefer restaurants owned by chefs and local folk but I find the only way to shut her down is to explain it this way. "My friend Jerry worked in a place like Applebee's and he says it's McDonald's with a bar." Somehow, negative corporate branding makes the point to her. Whatever works. Until the next time she asks if maybe we might try Buffalo Wild Wings. -- LArden

    1. I'm taking that as almost a hug, thanks. Always felt this way, even before the rest of my politics moved leftward. Right now I'm remembering a young woman I flirted with decades ago, and we talked about dating but never did, mostly because she suggested dinner at Chi-Chi's.

  2. Mr A, unless you married a child bride, your MiL is old enough to have grown up in an America without much corporate restaurant food. (If you DID marry a child bride, that turned out to be a pretty good investment, but I digress). I recall Dennys opening a yellow scourge in our town in 1960 or so -- I'm pretty sure I've still never been to a Dennys -- but restaurants largely were owned by fairly local people. The same person might own two restaurants, but even that was rare. So your MiL had to LEARN corporatization -- or adapt to it.

    After my Mom died, my Dad frequently ate at a national or regional chain "restaurant" (I forget which one). I don't think he even noticed he was doing it, but he taught his children well. My Sis and I would never visit a corporate joint. Maybe Dad's aberrational behavior has something to do with the Great Depression -- lots of behaviors do. "His" corporate joint had senior discounts and "early-bird" specials. Dad was not destitute, but that would have appealed to him.

    I just don't understand, but when Dad invited me to dinner, I went quietly. The man was in his 80s and was a good and decent person and I loved him to death. Thankfully I've lost the name of the joint in the long list of "national chains". Chain chain chain, chain of fools.



    1. Another hug, appreciated, and right back atcha.

      Not much I hate more than being marketed at, and I don't think anyone learns corporatization naturally. It's a result of professional marketing, whether via commercials or whatever's on the wall or on the menu.

    2. Today I'm taking my mom to lunch, which, since she doesn't drive and I'm coming by bus, means I'm bringing her a sammich from a sammich shop, and we'll eat in her living room. I've "taken her order" so I can bring the sammich by bus, and she's mentioned *three* times that she'd prefer genuine Subway®. Sigh.

    3. The corporate food folks get away with that kind of shit because of the deep, pervasive ignorance of the buying and eating public. It's perfectly natural for a person in her 90s to confuse the world she's living in with the one in which she grew up, and I cast no asparagus upon your mom, but the thirty-something parents to take their kids out to eat "genuine" McDonalds burgers (high sodium, sugar added) that is little more than a cell in somebody's corporate spreadsheet. In Tacoma, we have many local burger joints that are family-owned and wonderfully situated (not adjacent to a strip mall). Pick-Quick Drive-In, between Tacoma and Fife is on a small creek and has a number of picnic tables on a nice, but not fancy lawn. When they make a banana milkshake, they start with a banana, not banana flavoring. And strawberry season is about a week away. They'll have fresh strawberries grown about a mile away in the Puyallup valley with which to make shakes. It's been owned by the same two families for as long as I can remember. There are a half dozen other local family-owned joints within pissing distance or a little farther. Why in the name of Zeus would you take your family to a corporate outlet for shitburgers? I rant. I can't help it.


    4. I have been accused of being an underground member of the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce. I can tell you that I'm not a big fan of commerce and I'm getting a little tired of Tacoma, so my need to tell you the story of another Tacoma fast food eatery is not to lure you here, but just to tell a story.

      Frisko Freeze, a traditional drive-in near downtown Tacoma on Division Avenue, opened in 1950 and was owned by the same guy until he died about ten years ago. WARNING: SEXIST CONTENT . . . He only hired high school BOYS to work at his drive-in for the first 40 years of its existence. He finally caved in the 90s and by 2000 there were a few girls working there. Probably what killed him, although he was going on 90 which couldn't have helped.

      Frisko Freeze has no indoor dining, and not a lot of space inside for the workers and is a very busy joint, so the people who work there have to be very productive and work their asses off. The owner (sorry, I've forgotten his name) figured out fairly early that if he motivated his workers through good long-term pay and benefits, he might end up with a kickass workforce. So he started paying them 20 percent more, but didn't give them the money. He kept the 20 percent, matched it, and put it in an aggregate interest-bearing account as a college fund. So when the guys were ready to go to college, they could cash out their fund and pay their tuition. If they went to college locally and kept working part time, the owner would keep contributing to the fund. Three or four, maybe five generations of students worked their asses off at Frisko Freeze and went to college because they did.

      Jump-cut to 2004. I went to work for a local bank as CIO (small bank, 13 branches, 230 employees, 25 IT staff). The CEO was a hard-working guy and a really nice person to work for. He was barely 40, and even in a small bank, that's pretty young for a CEO. I asked him how he got there so young. He said he grew up in the worst neighborhood in Tacoma pretty much dirt poor. He did two things right. He worked very hard in school and got himself a couple of college scholarships at a time when they were not ubiquitous as they are now. And he went to work as soon as he was the proper legal age at Frisko Freeze, which was adjacent to his neighborhood. He graduated from the University of Puget Sound, a slightly revered institution founded in 1888, with honors and started working in banks.

      He said Frisko Freeze taught him how to work hard and how to save money. I guess it paid off.

      Frisko Freeze is still in business under different management, and my understanding is that the people who bought the place after the founder died chose to continue his policy of helping employees save for a college education, but now they try for a 50/50 mix of girls and boys, which poses its own problems, but time marches on.

      Apparently it's possible to own a business that makes money while contributing to the community in which you do business. I know there are other businesses that help their younger employees get ahead in life. The cool thing about Frisko Freeze is that this dude started these policies in the 50s, when this kind of compensation policy wasn't common or even heard of.

      By the way, the burgers and fries are really good. It's a popular joint for all the right reasons.


    5. > I cast no asparagus upon your mom

      Sometimes I wanna, but veggies are expensive.

      > Why in the name of Zeus would you take your family to a corporate outlet for shitburgers?

      Because they're cheaper, is the only 'logical' reason, but of course they're cheaper because they pay the workers less, and buy beef by the ton instead of the pound, and cups by the billions instead of the thousands, and each ubiquitous location is run by the same penny-pinching rules, and they can afford to blanket the world with advertising... Everything in the American system is set up to favor and encourage mega-evil conglomerates and disfavor and discourage individual humans from running their own businesses.

      Choir-preaching, I know.

    6. I don't explore much beyond city limits, and Tacoma is far enough from Seattle there's no easy transit, so I've never eaten at Frisko Freeze or even heard of it. Sounds awesome, though.

      Up here in the north, we have Dick's, maybe among others. I don't know about a college fund, but they're famous for paying workers a living wage plus health benefits, which is a helluva lot better shake than anyone gets at McDonald's, pun intended but it's true. $20 an hour, last I heard, and if there was a Dick's close to me I'd have already applied.

      The food is greasy salty deadly marvelous, so working there would probably kill me.

    7. Doug, I wasn't suggesting such a journey to the south; I was just noting, as you noticed, that the business model of local family-owned establishments differs considerably from bigass chains. You already knew that. I was just testifyin'. Thus the difference between Dicks and the national chains that are run by dicks.

      The oblique reference to the Hessean journey is mostly coincidental. On the other hand, if I feel the need to splain my references I've probably gone around the bend. It's a slippery bend.


    8. You gotta 'splain everything to me, twice probably.

      It's so rare that a company treats employees right, and invariably it's a small company. The bigger ones, with stockholders and all that jazz, are required by stupid-law to maximize profits, as if profits are the only value a company provides.


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