Bezos and Mussolini

It probably sounds like a joke or an exaggeration when I say I'm a hermit. It's not, though. It's almost a disability, sometimes. I can handle being around people, but I seriously and very much do not like talking with people. I will go miles out of my way to avoid a conversation, and it's hurt me in life.

Sept. 5, 2022

You won't have many friends, if you never talk to anyone. You won't get a promotion at work, if you never more than nod at your co-workers. You don't get many dates, if you hem and haw and hesitate for weeks before asking.

More often, my hatred of conversation leads to smaller problems, like with Max. He's one of my flatmates (sort of) who sells his internet connection.

When I moved into the house, in April, I was told that Max would provide his wi-fi password in exchange for twenty bucks a month. Sounded great. Why pay $50 a month or whatever for internet access, when I can get it for $20, and support a neighbor's pot habit instead of some ghastly conglomerate's next dividends or union-busting?

Max lives downstairs, though, and I'm an upstairs tenant. We sleep at the same address, but we don't share a kitchen or bathroom, don't pass each other in the hallway. The four flatmates downstairs don't enter the house through the same door as the upstairs tenants. Some of the downstairs tenants, I've never met. Max is the only one whose name I know.

I needed the internet, though, so I knocked on the downstairs door, hoping to meet Max and strike a deal with him. He wasn't home. He works weird hours. And then he was out of town for a week. Etc. 

For a while I knocked on the downstairs door daily, then weekly, and eventually I knocked more rarely. For months, I went to public libraries seven days a week for internet access, mostly because I was tired of knocking on the downstairs door.

And then one fine day, I was shoving my soiled undies into the washing machine, while some other guy was pulling his clean undies out of the dryer. There's only one washer and one dryer, shared by both halves of the house, so sometimes you see downstairs people in the laundry room.

"Hi," said the stranger. "I'm Max, from downstairs."

And I said "Holy shitfuck! You're Max? You exist? I'm Doug from upstairs, and I want the internet!"

I handed him a twenty-dollar bill, and he wrote the password on a piece of junk mail from the trash. I've been internetting at home ever since, for a month now. The library is only for books and magazines, and on hot days, for air conditioning.

When I was paying the rent a few days ago, it popped into my head that, oh shit, I gotta pay Max another twenty bucks for September's internet. I gotta walk around the house to the downstairs door, knock, ask for Max, maybe make chit-chat with him, and all that crap.

I was in no mood, because I never am. I put it off and put it off, until finally knocking yesterday morning. No answer. 

Knocked again this morning, and Max wasn't there, but I talked to one of his flatmates, and left a twenty-dollar bill on the counter outside Max's door.

My upstairs flatmates, Robert and Dean, have told me that's what they do, and they say leaving cash on the counter is never a problem.

Still, I frickin' hate going to the downstairs door and talking to anyone, so I'm gonna start carrying a hundred-dollar bill in my wallet. I wouldn't leave that much money on the counter downstairs, but next time I see Max I'll pre-pay five months in advance, so I won't have to knock on the downstairs door until March.

Amazon is evil and corrupt, bad for the world, and ought to not be allowed to exist. I'm planning to let my Prime membership expire, but meanwhile, holy crap they're efficient.

At 5:05 on Sunday afternoon, I needed something, but didn't need it enough to go to a dang store, so I went to amazon.com. Made the purchase at 5:12 PM, and to my surprise, the estimated arrival date was "Tonight, by 10:00 PM." No extra charge. I hadn't even asked for rush delivery. My order arrived a little before 8:00, less than three hours after I'd ordered it. On a Sunday.

Mussolini made the trains run on time, and Jeff Bezos offers same-day delivery.

In years subscribing to The New Yorker, I extracted perhaps two giggles from their attempts at humor, but this piece is funny:

If you want this job, we must interview you forever.

I've heard similar horror stories, about applying for work and being perpetually jerked around. The closest I've experienced was a temp assignment, when I lived in Madison.

Every temp assignment in my life had been something like, "Report to this address, 8AM-5PM, starting on Monday, for two weeks." For this assignment, though, the temp agency sent me for a pre-interview. "Report to this address at this time," they said, to talk about maybe working as a temp." And they weren't even paying me for this trip and talk.

It sounded idiotic, and mostly because it sounded idiotic, I showed up, and chatted with the person I was supposed to chat with. I was kind of a smartass, too, annoyed that I was giving an insurance company some of my afternoon, free of charge.

When I said that, though, my future boss laughed and said he'd be pissed, too. After we'd chatted, he called his boss, and I chatted with her. After that chat, they called the woman who was the 'lead' among people who did the work in question, and I chatted with her.

It took an hour or so, for three fairly low-key interviews. They brought me in as a temp, and a few months later they hired me as an actual employee (with no further interviews!) so you could say it worked out.

It was damned idiotic, though. Three interviews, before hiring a temp?

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

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US freight rail crisis threatens more supply chain chaos 

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FBI materials seized from Trump's Mar-a-Lago home included 90 empty folders 

Don't you wonder what used to be in those folders, and where it all went?

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Fact Check: Donald Trump may face same charges as Assange and Snowden 

"Fact check," my ass.

Fact is, we've seen headlines like this for years, and Trump is obviously, flamboyantly guilty of a thousand crimes. He ought to be prosecuted and imprisoned, but he's never even been arrested, and he never will be. He believes he's above the law, and it's one of very few things he's right about.

Donald Trump is above the law, same as rich bastards everywhere.

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The long-lost unhappy ending of Little Shop of Horrors [video]

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The humiliating history of the TSA 

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Girl wanted to keep the goat she raised for auction. Shasta County Fair sent cops 500 miles to seize it and drag it off to be slaughtered. 

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Columbo solves the Hoffa disappearance and Kennedy assassination 

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Pope declares 'zero tolerance' for Catholic Church abuse, saying he takes personal responsibility for ending it 

That's absolutely 100% bullshit. 

The Vatican has a very long list of kid-diddling priests, pervy perps who've never been prosecuted, always been protected by this Pope and the Popes who came before. Turn those names over to the authorities in every country where the church has a presence, and then claims of "zero tolerance" might be a bit less laughable.

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Advice for sale. 

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The Bogdanoff twins 

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Time traveler? Probably not. 

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




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The End

Esther Cooper Jackson
Sterling Lord
Robert LuPone 

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 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. >Mussolini made the trains run on time

    Yeah, except he didn't. Good old il Duce PROMISED to make the trains run on time. Early 20th century Italian train service was notoriously random, and he promised the Italian people that he would fix that with top-down organization and sheer will. What he did was this: at every major station, the officially posted train schedule was changed to reflect when the train was actually expected to arrive rather than when it was originally scheduled to arrive. Train schedules were rarely published under Mussolini: you just had to go to the station and check the "big board" and pretend you didn't notice that the times would change with the regularity of the Rome Stock Market. By the time people caught on (it didn't take long) Italians were being shot for criticizing "big jaw", so everybody agreed that the trains ran on time, but only by definition.


    1. Mussolini making the trains run on time is a cliché I had never questioned, same as a stitch in time saving nine. And just as bullshit! A stitch in time, after all, might only save seven, or might save eleven -- there's no knowing.

      Moral of the story is that dictators are not even efficient!

      Seriously though, thank you for straightening me out but good. I had never questioned it. You are more educational than all of high school and two years of community college, put together.

    2. American trains ran pretty much on time in the day because there was competition between carriers. Free enterprise actually works, more or less. Its first cousin Capitalism leaves victims in its wake, but the trains run pretty much on time.


    3. I love the trains. Woo-hoo. I;m hoping for an Amtrak ride to San Francisco some time, but first I'll probably need to find a job and all that jazz.

  2. >If you want this job, we must interview you forever.

    That shit was funny.


    I own that hat:


    But I'm a pussy, and haven't worn it in redneck-ass Gettysburg.

    1. It's not 'pussy' or cowardice, just common sense. You bet your butt that I peeled the Bernie Sanders sticker off my bumper before driving across the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana, and frickin' Idaho.


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