Moment of Distraction – Never Give Up http://bit.ly/17TlBzv
Moment of Distraction – Never Give Up http://bit.ly/17TlBzv
A weekly wrap up of online fun.
Moment of Distraction – A Gambling Man http://bit.ly/10noR1v
I love Kristen Wiig so much.
One of the strangest jobs I ever had in college was as a research lab technician for the School of Veterinary Medicine at my university. It was a somewhat impressive title but my real job function was to euthanize rabbits and harvest their organs for lab experiments. Now that’s not what it said in the job description, but that’s what the job was. And I took the job! To this day, I wonder what the professor saw in me to even offer me the position. During the interview, I imagine that she thought “Well, here’s an obviously emotionless psycho. He’d be perfect for this!” I guess she was right.
Like a lot of college students, I was broke. I had worked various jobs to pay for school and was looking for something that paid more than my current position as a teaching assistant at the campus daycare. Teaching assistant is another fancy title but I didn’t really teach the kids anything. I was the only assistant at the daycare and I was the only guy. This basically meant that I got all the shit duties that the real teachers didn’t want to do. When I say shit duties, I literally mean shit. There were a couple of kids who were still wearing diapers. Anytime one of them crapped on themselves, I was the one who had to clean them up. All of these scattologically-challenged kids were boys. None of them were the girls. I’d be conducting a game of Duck Duck Goose, when a teacher would bring one of them over to me. I’d always smell them before I saw them.
“Alex had another accident,” the teacher would say with a very disapproving tone. Alex however would be giggling his little ass off. He thought it was hilarious. Wherever he is today, I bet he still loves a good fart joke.
Back in the Boys’ Room, I’d try and straighten him out.
“You gotta tighten up, kid,” I’d say. “Trust me. You don’t want to be the poop guy when you get to kindergarten. The girls will never forget it. It will haunt you until the day you graduate high school.” I’d then help him into the multiple changes of clothes that his mom had left just for the occasion. Minutes later, another teacher would be bringing me another smelly customer. I had to find a new job.
I saw the posting online for the research lab tech and applied for it. I had already worked with the smelly kids at a preschool, so I was familiar with handling and being around disgusting things. At the interview, my soon-to-be boss explained how she had a hard time keeping someone in the position. The two girls who previously worked there each didn’t last a month. The position paid $12 an hour which was more money than I had ever earned up that point in my life. Because of that, I assured her that I was in for the long haul. She explained the job in such clinical terms that it didn’t sound that bad.
“We conduct experiments using animal kidneys cells. The kidneys are removed under anaesthesia and then we extract the cells. Your job will be to help with this and also to assist in the daily operations and maintenance of the lab,” she said. Sounded easy enough.
On my first day, the head lab tech walked me through what I would really be doing step by step. Based on the experiments that week, he ordered a number of rabbits to be delivered to the lab on Monday morning. He selected a rabbit from a cage that had been delivered that morning. They were adorable. He placed it inside a little holder and began to swab it’s ear with a little alcohol. Next, he took out a tiny pediatric needle and syringe. He was just showing me how to insert the tiny needle into a little artery on the rabbit’s ear and suddenly I learned something new. Rabbits can scream. Loudly. Nothing in my life up to that point had prepared me for this. With the exception of Bugs Bunny, I didn’t think that rabbits made any noise at all. But here this little rabbit was screaming so loudly that I jumped back covering my ears and knocked over a rack of Erlenmeyer flasks and test tubes. It sounded like a 2 year old yelling at the top of their lungs with a parent who won’t discipline them. It echoed off the linoleum lab floors, the painted cinder block walls and seemed to come from everywhere. It freaked me right the fuck out. The senior tech slowly depressed the plunger on the syringe and the screaming stopped.
“Yeah… they sometimes do that,” he said. “Not every time. Just when they get scared or freaked out.”
Now HERE was the real psychopath. He’d been at this job so long it didn’t phase him. It took me a few minutes to catch my breath and for my heart to stop feeling like it was going to pound it’s way out of my rib cage. The demonstration continued and I was shown how to surgically remove the kidneys. It was like I was a new waiter-in-training shadowing Hannibal Lecter at his popular foodie restaurant. “Extracting the cells” basically meant tossing the kidneys into a blender and making a kidney smoothie. This horror movie had become a macabre cooking show! You don’t want the blender speed set to high or else they’ll liquify. This recipe just called for a nice pulsing action. Like grinding coffee beans for a french press. You want them course and not too fine. Afterwards, the concoction was poured into a number petri dishes to prepare for that week’s experiments.
I would have to do this EVERY MONDAY. Monday was harvesting day at the vet school. I may as well have come to work in a black robe and carrying a sickle. You think you hate Mondays at your job? I would have anxiety attacks on Sunday because I knew what I was going to have to do the next day. I wondered if there was some poor student in a similar position over at the medical school. He had to start each week trying to hold a vagrant down and smother him with a pillow. He’s the only one who had it worse. The following Monday, my knees buckled as I came into work and found about a dozen rabbit cages waiting for me.
Can you believe I kept that job for over a year until I graduated? Geez! Just remember, these are the kind of things nobody ever puts in their online dating profile. Only person who ever knows is there therapist and possibly their former cellmates.
Moment of Distraction – Fighters http://bit.ly/16RT3Gf
They say that kids should have a pet because it will teach them how to deal with death and loss of loved one. Since I was a child, I’ve had 8 dogs over the course of my life. What it taught me, early and often, was that dogs rarely die of natural causes. They’re almost always “put down.” The message to my still-forming brain was that death was inconvenient. Our loved ones should shed this mortal coil on OUR schedule.
My first pet to “go to a better place” was our Alaskan Malamute, Canuck. When I was around 10, he was shot by our neighbor who was afraid of “that boy’s blue-eyed wolf dog.” He was planning to take his kids to Disney World that day. Canuck had hopped the fence and was standing in the front yard. How would they make it to Disney World early to avoid the lines with that frightening hound out in front of the house? They were on a timetable and Disney tickets are expensive. Just the quick crack of .22 and you’re back on schedule. My first lesson about punctuality and the magical world of Walt Disney was kind of a mixed message.
The second pet to perish under dubious circumstances was our Irish Setter, Cindy. One day she birthed an unexpected litter of puppies. I say they were unexpected because my parents had accused me for months of not feeding her since her stomach appeared distended like those starving African kids in those commercials. (Yeah, that had to be it, right? Couldn’t have been from the fact they never had any of our dogs spayed or neutered.) One day, Cindy and all the pups disappeared. I was told that Dad had “taken them to the woods” because we needed to concentrate on school and those dogs were taking up time too much of our time. Metaphorical message on unplanned pregnancies received loud and clear, Dad.
Each pet ended it’s time with us as if it were a character in an Agatha Christie novel. Out of the 8 dogs, I’ve only seen 2 die of natural causes. One was our Scottish Terrier, Scottie. He was really old, but not too old to knock up Cindy. The day after the puppies were born, we found Scottie unmoving in the flower bed. My last memory of him was the image of Dad in his shirt and tie, carrying a shovel and a large dog food bag, with Scotty’s tail protruding from it, into the backyard as my school bus pulled away. I’m pretty sure Dad was late for work that day. Scottie’s unscheduled departure may affect his upcoming promotion.
The 2nd dog to calmly walk into the light was our 120 lb Rottweiler. We named him “Akeem” because my brothers and I were big fans of Eddie Murphy and the movie Coming To America. One day, my little brother was sitting on the floor watching TV and eating his breakfast and Akeem laying across his lap. My brother was kind of using him like a food tray as he balanced his bowl of cereal on his back while watching cartoons. Akeem deciding that he had enough, took his last breath and checked out. My brother suddenly found himself trapped under 120 lbs of dead dog weight! It took us about 10 minutes to pull him free, subsequently causing us all to miss the bus to school that morning.
Standing over the body, we observed it with the cold detachment of a family of sociopaths. Thanks to a revolving door of pets meeting their maker, we were used to this by now. I could only imagine how inconvenient it would have been if Akeem had died while out on a walk. Just imagine that you’re a kid. You’re about half a mile away from home and now you’ve got 120 lbs of dead canine on a leash. What do you do? You can’t just leave it there unceremoniously on the sidewalk. Remember, this is a loved one! You’ve got to fireman carry him home like a soldier in a war movie. Dad was no longer there so we didn’t exactly know what to do or who to call. Is there a dead animal removal service? We can’t call the vet. As far as we knew, they mostly dealt with LIVING pets.
In a great moment of family bonding, we wrapped Akeem in a large, black garbage bag. We then duct taped the wrapped carcass onto a mover’s dolly and wheeled it into my bedroom. We didn’t want Mom coming home from work to find a dead dog in the middle of the living room. We hopped on our bikes and made it to school as fast as we could. That night, under the cover of darkness, we wheeled Akeem down the street and buried him in the orange groves behind our neighbor’s house. It was like we were covering up a murder. The youngest brother acting as lookout while the rest of us did the dirty work. Thanks to these experiences with pets, we are prepared for when we have to deal with the future death and loss of a loved one. Always keep a mover’s dolly handy.
Moment of Distraction – Ex-Girlfriends http://bit.ly/189R1QV
I was at an elementary school recently for a kids’ improv show. We were in front of a class of first graders and they were raising their hand and telling us what their parents did for a living. A little girl asked me what I did and I told her that I was a comedian. “What does that mean?” she asked. “I make people laugh” I said. This little 6-year old looked at me with disbelief. “Really?” she asked, but not in a way that said that she was amazed or impressed. Her tone was as if I had said that I was an alien from the planet Krypton.
“You just stand there?”
“Well, yes but I tell jokes.”
“For how long?”
“About an hour.”
“You stand there telling jokes for an HOUR??!!”
I spent the next few minutes arguing with her that being a comedian was actually a real thing. I couldn’t believe that I was trying to defend myself in front of a kid who still thought that unicorns and the Tooth Fairy are real! In my meager defense, at 6-years old, her only concept of jokes were knock-knock jokes so that’s what she imagined I did. Could you imagine adults paying money to have a grown man tell them knock-knock jokes for an hour? It does sound pretty ridiculous when you think of it that way. But even this kid knew that knock-knock jokes would get pretty boring after about 2 minutes. To this day, I don’t know if I actually convinced her or if she walked away thinking that I was pulling her leg. I wonder if she went home and asked her parents. I’ll tell you one thing. That little girl has to be pretty bright. She displayed an advanced level of incredulousness well beyond her years.