Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Just One More Block

Day 69
     That’s a lie. I’ve lost track of how long I’ve been here, and it’s only because of my immaturity that I’ve given it that distinction. The days here pass into night and back into day without any sort of effort at all. I know it’s kind of a late start, especially because I think I’ve actually undersold the amount of time I’ve spent in this place, but I finally decided that I should record this for posterity in case it’s ever found.
    I awoke some time ago on the beach not far from where I’m writing this. No signs were evident in how I had gotten there, or who had deposited me. Before this, I was a college student, happy and safe at the University of Northern Iowa. One day I was studying for finals and the next, I’m on a beach, the ankles of my blue jeans soaked from the lake it surrounds.
     Immediately, I tried to get a bearing on my location, and climbed to the top of a hill near where I had awoke. Empty, seemingly untamed land stretched in every direction. However, I didn’t immediately go exploring because night was beginning to fall, and I didn't want to get lost or separated from the one piece of land that I had any familiarity with. Of course now I’ve scouted out some dozens of square miles around it, but on this night I was content with my beach and my hill.
     With the night came strange sounds in the distance. Howls and strange cries I didn’t recognize scared me stiff, and I knew that I did not want to spend any more time in the dark open than I absolutely needed. I grabbed a large log that must have washed up on the beach and began digging into the hill in an effort to give myself some shelter. To my luck, there was only a few feet of dirt before I found myself in a large enough cave to spend the night. Piling the dirt I had dug into a sort of barrier against the outside, I looked out into the strange night I had removed myself from.
    Whatever was shuffling around outside, I knew I wanted no contact with. What appeared to be giant spiders cavorted about seemingly aimlessly, searching for prey. Other four legged animals grazed in the grass, and a strange four legged creature I could not attach any label to also roamed around, and all other creatures avoided it. Scared, I retreated into my cave. I did not sleep on that first night.
    When the day broke, I poked my head out, and set out to find some way to improve my cave. First I found some thicker parts of the log that I had used last night to dig, and fixed a stone head on it to cut down a tree. It was hard work and I got numerous blisters that I had to nurse through that night. But now my shelter had a door I could hide behind.
    As the days went on, I grew more and more confident about leaving my cave behind to go looking for some sort of help. It was impossible. I didn’t, and still, to this day couldn't, find a single other soul besides myself, although I have found what at first glance appears to be natural caverns until you realize there are levels too neat not to be human-created stairs. At least I hope they were created by humans. I shudder to think what creatures put up with those dreadful spiders and four-legged monsters that come in the night.
     Occasionally I’ll find some precious materials in the walls of these caverns, and carefully pick them out with my trusty array of tools made from the surrounding stone. I don’t know why I do this. Who am I going to give all these diamonds and gold to?
     Through trial and error, I recently built a raft that would float on the lake, and a fishing pole to catch some food with. Speaking of food, several species of animals I recognize roam the landscape at all times of the day. It feels like a scene straight out of Lord of the Flies whenever I find one of these wild boars roaming in front of my cave. To cook this meat, I built myself a crude stone oven that I fuel with the wood from the surrounding trees. Not bad survival skills from some no-name sophomore from Iowa.
    I’m not kidding about that no-name thing. In all these days without any human interaction, I’m beginning to forget who I was. Occasionally, I see what looks like another person walking on top of my hill at night, silhouetted against the starry sky. But I shake my head and get back inside my cave before those spiders spot me.

Day 70
     The curiosity was too much. I had to find out what that silhouette was. I fitted myself a torch from the continuous fire that burns in the oven, lest I have to find more flint amongst the gravel, and iron inside the caverns. I also carried a weapon and fitted myself with a small leather helmet I had fashioned from my hunting kill earlier today, to protect me from the spiders.
    I spotted the silhouette again, and made my way towards it, careful not to make too much noise or travel too close to any hostile-looking shadows. I got close enough to recognize it was clearly another human. I called out to it, “Hey! What are you doing out at nigh-” when it cut me short by turning around. This man was not alive.
    I do not know what black magic propelled him, but he stepped frighteningly quickly toward me, drawn by my torch. I swung my stone tool and cracked him on the head. A low gurgle I recognized from my first terror-driven night sounded from his throat, but the dead man kept on coming. I swung again and again until finally, he collapsed. Breathing hard, I turned around only to find one of the giant spiders had snuck up during my battle. It pounced on me, and I flailed the stone… sword I suppose, I don’t have much of another word for it. I flailed the stone sword in a blind panic, striking in the eyes in an attempt to drive it off of me. I don’t know if it was poisonous or just ill tempered, but I was in no hurry to find out. Finally, the spider collapsed just as the dead man had, and I stood back up, shaken but mostly unhurt.
    I dusted myself off and began running back towards the safety of my cave. Closing the door, I leaned against it, head in hands. Suddenly, a snakelike sound reached my ears before I was thrown towards the back of my cave, by what felt like an explosion. Looking back, I saw my precious wooden door was blown to smithereens and rubble stood where the entrance to my cave had been. I piled the rubble into another barrier, as I had on my first night here.
     Now I sit and wait for the morning light to come, and write on my bamboo tablet to pass the time.
     Now that my cave is no longer a viable shelter, I’ll need to create another one.
     I’m thinking Skull Fortress. 
Skull Fortress: Home Sweet Home
Based on a true story,
Mick Dickinson

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Open Mick Night

"Ladies and gentlemen, Mick Dickinson" *pity applause*

     Hey everybody, my name’s Mick and I’m here to say jokes at you. You know, writing isn’t that easy. Well I mean, it’s not that hard, it’s not like being a firefighter or something. Plus if you have to work super hard at making people laugh, maybe writing jokes for others isn’t exactly the best idea for a hobby. But still, finding the jokes to tell isn’t a walk in the park. One trouble is the temptation to repeat certain jokes. It’s hard, well, I mean, not as hard as being a firefighter or anything…  Some of the best jokes I come up with are on Twitter. Well hey there!
     Not only was that a shameless plug, it’s also a great segue into my next line of jokes!
     Twitter is an amazing invention. My thoughts are almost always simple enough to sum up in 140 characters. Plus, I’m just egomaniacal enough to believe everybody wants to hear my genius jokes about how bad my farts are, but this time, I write it in less than the 1,000 words I use on here. My favorite place to use Twitter is at lunch. You might say I’m tweating. Tweating. Moving on… If I had to sum up Twitter in one example, it’d be that not only can I tell complete strangers how big the poop I just took was, but if I was so inclined, I could show them a picture of it.
"No." -The Internet

     That kinda sums up what our culture’s become. We’re so wrapped up in ourselves that we think people want to see how big of a crap we took, and that it’s totally okay to go ahead and show it to them. I’m serious; it’s really troubling me how the world is teaching us that everyone wants to hear about the stupidest, most meaningless details in our lives.

This picture has also made it
into one of my dreams.
     So this one time I had this dream where I was playing basketball with Conan O’Brien against Arnold Schwarzenegger and the kid from Home Improvement in basketball. The one with three names, you know. That guy. Arnold kept boxing me out but luckily Conan was rainin’ threes. I want to see Sigmund Freud analyze that one. Did anybody stop to think that maybe it was just Freud that was so crazy? That he was the one with the messed up relationship with his mother, and not all of us? How would you react if I was a psychologist and I told you every single person, including me, wants to have sex with barnyard animals. Would you say “Huh. Guess it’s buried away pretty deep,” or would you nudge the person next to you and be like, “Uh… I think this guy has a hankerin’ to bang some chickens, and is willing to go to med school to legitimize it.”

"You seem to have an inferiority complex  stemming from
your cigar smoking and resemblance to George Carlin." - Sigmund Freud
     I really don’t get how we take a 19th century coke-head psychologist seriously. He figured out that by saying the most outrageous things he could get humongous amounts of attention. Freud was like the 1800’s version of Glenn Beck, but with cigars and cocaine. Moreso. But there’s a lot in this world I don’t get. Like pralines. Say that word out loud. Pray-leens. Now, do you really want that in your ice cream? A praline is most certainly a fish. A cold water, Alaskan, freshwater fish. Now we’re throwin’ that in with some pecans and frozen milk and calling it dessert? “Ma’am, can I get some tartar sauce with my frosty tasty treat?”
     I should know a little something about fish. I mean, I don’t want to brag, but I was in the Boy Scouts. Yeah, no biggie. Just kidding. Well, I was actually in the Boy Scouts, it’s just a real big biggie. I hated it. Hated it. I spent the entirety of my career in the Scouts waiting until I was allowed to start a fire. But there was always that kid with like, the bandolier of merit badges that would start bragging he could start a fire without matches. He always came around when I had this huge can of gasoline and a Zippo (just kidding, we didn’t get Zippos in Boy Scouts. Not until we killed us some Nazees) and he’d be say “Psh, I could start this with a magnifying glass.” And I’d say “Well that just means you didn’t pack well enough to start a fire. Always be prepared, holmes. Now stand back, I’m going to set this puppy off!”

    For all I’m knockin’ on it, Scouts does teach you to respect nature, and how fast a canvas tent can start on fire. You know who else really respects nature? The people we’ve named after the country we stole from them, Native Americans. They’re cool enough people, just don’t date one like I did. There are too many white-guilt moments. I mean, everyone has their comfort sections for racial guilt, but when you end up in a strange family member’s basement inside his Indian arrow-head collection room surrounded by pictures of white people being scalped, you have to fight not to just yell out, “I’M SORRY, OKAY?! IT WASN’T ME, IT WASN’T MY IDEA!” But you can’t yell like that, of course, you have to be more polite, like “Do you have any black friends who build models of slave ships I can meet?”
    I broke up with that girlfriend in a way going down in the record books. I asked her over for Thanksgiving with my family dressed as Pilgrims, and we kept trying to sell her blankets.
    That was a lot of history packed into that last made-up joke. You don’t even know how much I’m a huge history nerd. It’s going to be my job for goodness sakes. That is to say, if this whole “blog writing” thing fails to materialize. (3000+ views, dawg). But seriously, history is pretty great. How can you not be interested in the study of 16th century kings? I mean, right?
    That’s, after all, what I’m going to college to study, history. College is an interesting place. It’s like the final step between childhood and adulthood. Especially for freshmen. One great example of adulthood: “Psh, what are they going to do? I know all my rights, man.” But then later that night, “Mommy, I’m in jail and I’m scared! Please come get me!” Freshman regress that quickly. I couldn’t pull that with my parents. My mom would be like “Why were you breaking the law?! I’m so disappointed! You get yourself out of this mess.” And my dad would probably say something like, “If I were you I’d still be running! You’re 19, how can you not outrun a cop?” “Dad, I had sandals on, I wasn’t prepared to deal with that situation!” “Well shit, didn’t Boy Scouts teach you anything?!”

He may not have a big stick, but he'll speak however he darn well pleases,
Mick Dickinson

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Guest Post: Cart-Carriers, Inc. HR Department

     Hello, and Welcome to Cart-Carriers Inc.™ (We like to joke it stands for In-cart-porated). If you’re reading this that means that you’ve been hired to join the fast-moving and exciting world of cart pushing! Many different stores employ our workers to clear their lots, and our records (re-carts) of success are higher than any of our cart-erparts©. Businesses like Lot-sa-Carts™ and Pushin’ Stuff Etc.™ may give us a push for our money but we stand alone, much like that one cart you will eventually be too lazy to go get.

We meet again, my mortal coil.
    Although the cart workers of the world have many names, like Lot Associate, Cart Jockey, Lot Jockey, and Cart Associate (or Cart-sociate©), they all have the same job: pushing in lots and lots (get it?) of shopping carts for the customer’s ease of use, until the customer puts them right back out there in the wrong place, and it starts all over again in a continual (cart-tinual) cycle of passive aggressive declarations of "Let me get that for you".

    Now, before we get started (s-cart-ed) with the rest of your orientation, like the sections on Sexual Abuse (Long story short: don’t do it. We mean that in every sense of the phrase.) and Customer Relations (Try not to yell at them), we thought we might test your mettle with a little thing we like to call…

The Hard Truths© of Carts

1. You will assume any and all b**ch work inside the store
  Being the cart person (let’s face it: cart guy) in any given store means that you will also assume the roles of janitor, tool picker-upper, gopher, message runner in times of walkie-talkie failure, general eye witness, and pop refill guy. You will never be recognized for performing all of this work that’s not in your actual job description.

2. You will not look cool
   If a cute girl watches you push your stack of carts by, she won’t see that you’re pushing 13 carts, which adds up to be actually quite a bit of weight, and that you’re steering them quite well, and she won't understand why that's cool if you begin to brag about it. She’ll see a sweaty dude with a really crappy to mildly crappy job. Just get through your head that sweating and panting are no way to go through life, son. There’s almost no way to look cool in a bright orange vest with reflectors when it’s broad daylight outside. In fact, instead of looking cool...

3. You will look a little crazy
   We here at Cart-Carriers, Inc. ™ don’t judge you. You’re part of our loving family, as soon as you sign a contract (cart-tract) to be paid by this hourly wage. But others may see you for what you’re actually doing, and choose to treat you differently because of it. We’ll just lay it out for you: You’re going to talk to inanimate objects. At some point or another, sooner or later, you’re going to get so frustrated with a broken or defective cart, that you will honestly believe berating it for being uncooperative is going to work or change anything at all. Some of you may even take to talking to the carts with sarcasm, because your straight-forward tough love approach wasn’t working. You will get frustrated because no matter which way you're pushing the stack, the front cart will go in the direct opposite direction, causing you to lean into the push like you're a sailor on rough seas. The only way you can look halfway impressive is if you get to drive some sort of power machine around, which is a problem because…
"Yeah, awesome. YEAH. DO EXACTLY THAT. NO,
4. You won’t get trained for anything
   Let’s face it, your orientation for cart-jockey-ing could be six words long. “See those carts? Push them here.” So it’s not too hard or expensive to train a new you. You’re going to be so replaceable that your employer won’t bother actually attaching any knowledge of worth upon you, lest they have to think twice about your disposability. You will learn things, of course (of carts), but they won’t take the actual time to train you. Employers can hire two of you for the time and effort it would take to train the one. Which is odd because…

5. The person that works before you each day is the laziest on Earth
   You’re going to get to work and breath in a fresh, full breath of asphalt, gasoline, and dead dreams, ready and rearin’ to get cartin’. But then you will find that each and every corral is dead chocked full of carts of every kind, and that inside the store are more ownerless shopping baskets, strewn about the aisles like so many ownerless crying children, also in the store. Then you will find your predecessor in the break room, watching until the seconds tick down to the point when they can get back home and leave you alone to deal with paying customers.

6. You will lose your faith in humanity
   Not all at once. Oh no, it’s much more subtle than that. Our researchers here at Cart-Carriers Inc. ™ have taken the average time until cart-plete soul crushing as about three weeks. Slowly but surely, questions creep up in your mind. “Honestly how can it be easier to push a cart onto the grass islands than into the actual corral?” is a common one. “Who thinks that that is okay?!” is our number one question asked whilst throwing hands up in exasperation. Pretty soon, you’ll believe every customer is out to get you and make your life slightly harder (slightly cart-er), and that adds up. Plus, there will be one time every two months when you have to pick up a dirty diaper someone left in the lot. Like that’s okay.

"This seems like a good place to put this," he thought,
before life (unfortunately didn't)  punched him in the throat.

     So there you have it. If you can get past all these Cart-Carriers, Inc.™ Hard Truths© without weeping, or perhaps are still willing to work through those tears because we’re the only place that bothered calling you back, then you’re ready for a glorious life of not being recognized for doing some of the most physical labor in the retail store of our choice.

Thanks for your time, and get Cartin’!©

Cart-Carriers, Inc. ™ HR De-cart-ment

Cart-Carriers, Inc.™ does not claim any responsibility for rises in depression, mood swings, odd tan lines, a new wardrobe made entirely of briefs and cargo shorts, or excess sweating.