Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What's that on your shirt?

This next story takes place during my college years. At the time I was working for a retailer of licensed sports apparel. This was located in an extremely unsuccessful mall in the town adjacent to where I attended school. I lived approximately 5 minutes away from this place of employment, so I was always waiting until the last possible moment to leave my abode. This day would be no different. I do not recall what caused me to run behind that day, but I hurriedly found some clothes to throw on, ran out the door, and scampered to work. Upon arriving at work, I was greeted by my manager. This fellow was quite the goofy character. The first thing he asked, as I stood there on the floor ready to approach the 3 customers that would be in that day, was, "Did you have an accident on your shirt?" I looked down and noticed a large stain on my shirt. "Oh heavens," I thought to myself. What was this stain you ask? Well for that we will have to skip back a few days.

A couple days prior I had come home from classes and was greeted by my lady friend. She must have had a splendid day, because she was very eager to meet me. Apparently she had chosen to reward me for having been a wonderful individual. I will spare everyone the gritty details, but an important part of the story is that she had chosen not to consume the nectars of the gods. I could respect the decision, but this did end up causing some a fair amount to be splattered onto my T-shirt. "No big deal," I thought to myself. I proceeded to remove the shirt and place it in the washer where it would soon be joined by other clothes in need of cleaning.

A couple days passed, and the day had arrived in which I was hurriedly heading out the door for work. As I hurried around the house I was looking for a T-shirt to throw on and head out the door. Often when we removed clean clothes from the dryer, we would simply place the pile atop it. Thus, this was the first place I checked for a shirt. Luckily I was able to spot one resting innocently alone on top of the dryer. I quickly picked it up, placed it to my nose to smell it. This was necessary to determine that it was in fact clean. It passed my scientific sniff test, and I threw it on and ran out the door.

Once I had arrived at work, my manager had pointed out the stain on my shirt. Upon looking down, I noticed firmly entrenched below my shoulder sat a giant white splatter on this dark blue shirt. Instantly I knew what it was, and it was fairly obvious to everyone else as well. Apparently my lady friend had decided to complete a load of laundry. However, she had decided that my shirt would only get in the way. She had removed my shirt from the washer and placed it on top of the dryer. I'm not sure why my shirt was not qualified for a washing, but I feel I was sabotaged.

This was not good news whatsoever. I did not have a backup shirt lying around. It was the middle of the summer, so I hadn't brought a sweater or anything else to throw over the top of the shirt. I was stuck. I was aware that Foot Locker sold their blank T-shirts at 5 for $20. However, the Foot Locker was located on the other end of the mall. I decided that this was necessary rather than awkwardly approach customers the entire evening with this gigantic stain on my shoulder. One could imagine the stain talking to the customer as I approached them, much like a Tide commercial. So I chose to venture out to the Foot Locker.

As I walked down the corridor I attempted to cross my arms in a fashion that would potentially cover up this stain. It was in a place that this wasn't particularly successful. I went into the Foot Locker and chose 5 shirts in a variety of colors. I walked to the register and attempted to rest on my elbow in a manner that might hide the stain. Awkwardly I kept shifting around and looking down to see if I might be able to disguise this stain. The man working behind the counter was a middle-aged Foot Locker employee that took his job very seriously. He decided to ask me if I would like to purchase socks, shoe cleaner, the works. I just wanted to head out of there to place on my new t-shirt. This gentleman was having none of that however. He continued to probe me on all of their exciting products. Finally, he handed me the receipt, and I was able to escape from this man's rant.

I scurried back to the store and went into the back room to change. Quickly, I proceeded to place on the new shirt and bag up the stained shirt. I seemingly do not embarrass easily enough, because I actually forgot to take the shirt home that evening. I've been told that my manager proceeded to pull it out of the bag and show it to all the other employees at the store over the next day or so. I hadn't realized that my shirt would be turned into a Smithsonian exhibit. He seemed to have no qualms holding up my encrusted shirt. I told you he was an oddball. Thus concludes the story of how I wore a semen stained shirt to my place of employment.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ouch, My Eyes!

Let's turn back the clock to my 8th grade year. During the Christmas Break I had moved from Kansas City to a small town in Central Oregon. I had become acclimated in the culture, and was participating in my usual activities. One of these activities happened to be Little League Baseball. Yes, this does become somewhat relevant in this story.

I underwent LASIK treatment a couple of years ago. Prior to that I did not wear any type of corrective lenses. Part of the reason was due to this incident that occurred in the 8th grade. The other part was because I wasn't a fan of glasses, so I simply chose not to wear them. Not terribly smart thinking, but I preferred to squint throughout the day and not see half of what was being discussed in classes. During the 7th and 8th grades I experimented with using contact lenses. It wasn't terribly successful as the contacts and I never got along well. Some days they would go in effortlessly, but others it would be a struggle. It may have had something to do with the fact that I was later diagnosed with astigmatism. Then again, that could not have been a factor at all. Perhaps I was just inept with contacts. The night before the incident I had worn the contact lenses to play in a baseball game. Supposedly this was a contributing factor to what was to happen the next day. The contacts were the type that were worn for 2 weeks, and removed each evening.

When I first put in my contact lenses that morning it felt a little strange, but that was a typical occurrence. I didn't think much of it, and continued on to school. However, once I reached school my eyes started to become irritated, and my vision was becoming cloudy. It appeared that I was walking in a constant mist. I couldn't see more than a couple feet ahead of me, and everything was incredibly blurry. I actually went through the entire school day not being able to see anything clearly. Honestly, I could not make out the faces of the people a couple feet in front of me.

On the bus ride home, despite the fact that my eyes were still in pain and my vision was not improving, I decided to go over to a friend's house. We exited the bus at his bus stop and proceeded to walk to his abode. Once reaching there it was apparently decided that porn would be viewed on his computer. Looking back, I don't understand why young boys like to get together and watch porn. Now that I think about it, it makes for quite the awkward situation. One cannot comfortably have an erection with another male sitting inches away looking at the same stuff. It all seems pointless. Yet, it happened. However, since I couldn't see very far I was even placing my face right next to the monitor. I was apparently hellbent on viewing this porn regardless of my condition. Eventually, I figured that if I took out the contact lenses perhaps I would have a more clear viewing of this cinematic production. Upon removing the lenses, a stinging pain shot from my eyes. When I shut them, it felt better, but each time I tried to open my eyes this shooting pain would radiate from them. At that point, I decided it might be time to return my home and inform my parents of the situation. I left my friend alone with these videos to do whatever it was he had to do.

Once I returned to my home, I informed my mother of the situation at hand. At this point I had decided to discontinue attempting to open my eyes. It had simply become too painful to continually do. As we went to the doctor's office and entered it, I looked like a young Ray Charles whom had his cane taken away. I held my hands out in front of me with my eyes closed and felt around for door handles and objects that might be in my way. Finally, the doctor was ready to see us. After some tests that involved me actually opening my eyes it was determined that both of my corneas had been scratched by my contact lenses. His theory was the contacts had gotten dirt in them from playing baseball in them the night prior. Then upon placing them back in my eyes the next day that had rubbed against my corneas and scratched them. I suppose that's not an entirely preposterous theory, and I don't have a better idea so I'll stick with that. All that was required was that I place a few eye drops in that evening and keep my eyes rested. Luckily, I was given drops to numb my eyes as well, and I simply went home and slept the night away. By daybreak everything felt normal again, but I don't believe I ever wore contacts again after that day. Thus ended the day in which I watched the cloudiest porn I have ever seen.

Debauchery in Espana - The Finale

I am going to combine the last couple evenings into one post, because quite frankly I'm ready to move on from this subject. Also, it kind of blurs together into one spectacular event. We had taken our journey to the Playa del Sol. This was supposedly going to have the nicest weather, and the most beautiful beach of all time. Instead what we received was torrential downpour. This weather pattern seems very consistent in my life. It certainly seems to rain often wherever my travels lead me.

The first night's schedule was formulated by Kirsten, our tour guide, and it was a delicious recipe on the menu. This night would consist of exploring the Spanish night life. That meant hitting up the clubs and bars around town. Our chaperons attended the first bar with us, though we still were not allowed to drink at this location. Of course, many of us were already in a drunken stupor at that point in the evening. At this bar the tables we were once sitting at were suddenly pushed aside and the dancing had begun. I do recall that at one point 50 Cent was requested as he had just hit the scene with "In da Club." The crowd of Americans got wild, and much dance floor grinding occurred. Then an event happened that I will always remember.

One of the 2 fellows I was with had gathered the courage to make possibly the boldest move of his life. About 10 feet from us there were 2 attractive Spanish mamasitas getting their groove on. One could see the confidence start to brim from him, and he tailored his dancing to swiftly move away from the boring American ladies towards these Spanish ladies. We speculate to this day that they were lesbians, but they may very well have simply been 2 ladies having a good time on the dance floor. As he approached them, the determination in his eyes shown brightly. He made a valiant attempt to squeeze between the two of them, doing so in a very smooth motion. However, they appeared to ignore him altogether and even made a move towards the left together to get him out from in between them. Dejected and with his pride shattered, he continued to dance but this time back towards our group. This has been dubbed the "Dance of Shame" by all those that witnessed it occur.

Upon leaving this bar, the chaperons returned to the hotel. The tour guide was expected to keep a good eye on us. She was suddenly open to us all purchasing drinks at the bars from that point. Perhaps it was because she was there to monitor us, but she seemed to encourage it. In fact, she drank right along with us. The club we went into was not terribly eventful. I believe that the entire crowd that evening consisted of members in the 50+ age bracket. I don't recall the night of the week, but this seemed quite unusual. The only memorable part of this evening that I can recall is asking the Danish bouncer what language they spoke in Denmark. Under normal circumstances I obviously know the answer, but I was a bit intoxicated at the time. The night culminated with us returning to the hotel. This is where my night got a bit more interesting.

For some reason or another many of us ended in the same hotel room. A couple beds were pushed together and we crowded in. The bed I was lying in consisted of me and a couple ladies. No, this did not get interesting in the manner you may be thinking of at the moment. I had chosen a nice comfortable spot on outside. Suddenly one of the ladies started complaining that I was taking up too much room, and she was squished in between the two of us. I found this outrageous since I was not a big guy to begin with, and I could feel the edge of the bed. However, she kept complaining. At that time I said, "Ok, let me roll over for you then." I knew what would occur, but I did it to get my point across. I rolled, and went tumbling out of the bed. This sent laughter throughout the room, though I still a bit annoyed by her complaints. I got crawled back in, but could not fall asleep. Eventually I heard much snoring around me, and that wasn't helping me fall asleep. I made a decision to exit the room and attempt to return to my room.

I had left my room key in the room, so I attempted knocking at the door. One of my buddies answered, but only opened the door a crack and peered out. I realized I had actually left my shoes in the room. I'm trying to recall at this point in time if I asked to come into the room, or if I simply asked for my shoes. Either way, he denied my entrance. I would later discover that he was partaking in sexual intercourse, and he didn't realize that I was actually locked out of all rooms now. Without shoes or a room, I decided to venture around the premises. As I walked through the lobby in my socks, the lady at the front desk politely stated, "Sir, we ask that you do wear shoes in the lobby!" Keep in mind this is a 5 star hotel, and I was some crazed American stumbling around in socks. "I'm sorry, I'm locked out of my room!" I yelled back and bolted out the front door. Now I was actually stuck outside without shoes at 4 AM. What was I to do? Obviously the answer was stroll down to the beach and walk along the water in my socks. No, I was not intelligent enough to actually remove the socks. I wore them the entire time.

There was a McDonalds that I had spotted at the end of beach at our arrival to the hotel. I decided perhaps I could take a jaunt over there and have an Egg McMuffin Spanish-style. I passed numerous homeless Spaniards along my journey that had set up shop along the beach. It turned out to be a much longer trip than I had anticipated. Eventually I reached the McDonalds to discover that it was of course closed at that hour. Dazed and reaching a sober state of mind I decided to simply park it at the beach for a while. I attempted to actually fall asleep on the sand. Probably not an entirely wise decision, but it seemed like a great idea at the time. An hour passed and that plan had also not succeeded. Eventually, defeated I decided it was time to return to the hotel. I was once more scolded from across the lobby by the front desk employee. I bolted to the elevators and returned upstairs. By this time it was about 7 or 8 AM.

Once I arrived back to the room, I was greeted by both of my roommates. They were concerned for my well being upon noticing that I was nowhere to be found. I told them the story of my travels along the Spanish coast. Laughs were shared, apologies were spread, and we all went our separate ways to gather rest for the evening ahead.

That evening would involved an intense karaoke session. The entire group came together to attend this event at a bar downtown. The first performance was chosen by the group. The group of males on the trip were to perform "Bye, Bye, Bye" by N-Sync. I feel that we performed admirably, and I even attempted to do the dance number to the best of my ability. My next performance was a terrible decision on the song choice. Two of us stood up to perform "It Wasn't Me" by Shaggy. Now, I could only understand one of every 4-5 words that Shaggy utters in this song. This was also prior to my Lasik procedure so my vision was heavily impaired. I could not see the screen, so I was usually simply relying on memory to attempt to sing these songs. This song turned out to consist of me often muttering nonsensical lines in hopes that it vaguely sounded like Jamaican "rap." To compensate for this failure I attempted a dance move that likely should have never shown up at a Karaoke bar. I fell back onto one hand and proceeded to thrust my pelvis into the air multiple times. It seemed somewhat appropriate with the song at the time, and seemed fairly well received. However, it's not likely something that I should have brought out without proper notice to the audience. This move was a bit risque after all. Our final performance was a stirring rendition of Enrique Iglesias' "Hero." My voice quivered with each note, as I strived to achieve a perfect imitation. Between these performances a Spanish woman was bringing her A game to the table. After each one of our dreadful performances, she would proceed to get on stage and perform a heart-wrenching ballad that would bring tears to the bar patrons eyes. She even appeared to have a coach at her table that would critique her performances. It was a very odd sight, and she was taking it very seriously. Yet, we would immediately return to the stage and make a mockery of the entire process once more.

The next morning we boarded our flights to return to America. It was a glorious trip, and there are so many great memories that I was able to take from it. Honestly, there was so much more than I even shared here that simply happened in this one week's worth of time. It was truly an amazing experience, one that I will always cherish.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Debauchery in Espana Part Three - Lost in Sevilla

The common theme of this trip obviously involved getting into trouble due to the use of alcohol. This night was no different from the rest I assure you. The trip had moved forth to the city of Sevilla. The majority of the posse would be attending a party boat that evening. Sure that sounds like a boatload of fun (see what I did there?), but it is very deceiving. There would not be any alcohol involved, so basically it's just riding around on a boat. Where's the party in that? Therefore, the tantalizing trio decided once more to do some exploring on our own. This time we added a fourth member to the wolfpack. Seems one female had caught on to which group of people was having the greatest amount of fun on the trip.

There were drinks to be shared before we left for our voyage. This was done in a timely manner and we went downstairs to meet up with the rest of the group before they departed for their "party boat." As we all chatted about the upcoming events in the hotel lobby, our tour guide, Kirsten, approached the four us that were set to do our independent exploring. She pulled us to the side to have a very stern conversation with the quartet. She was German and had a very thick accent, which possibly makes this quote funnier for those of us that witnessed it than it would be reading it from a page. "You guys have been drinking and you are going to get more drinks aren't you?" she asked us. We responded that this was absolutely not the case. "Shut da fuck up!" she sternly stated. It caught us all off guard. She mentioned that she didn't feel comfortable letting us go out there, and would need to tell our chaperon. This is where my mastery of the German language paid off, or so I thought. I was born in Germany and speak fluent German so I decided to utilize this to my advantage. I began to speak to her in my native dialect, and assured her that I would watch out for everyone and we would be fine. Kirsten seemed to fine with that, and told me to make sure nothing went afoul. That was all the clearance we needed.

Off we went into the yonder with no apparent destination in mind. We went into the heart of the city, not keeping track of exactly which path we were taking. Eventually, we decided to sit down and enjoy some tapas. This was considered to be a necessity on a visit to Spain, and it was indeed magnificent. Once the tapas had been devoured, the four of us decided to return back to the hotel to finish what we had started. Only this was not going to be as easy as anticipated. As we attempted to navigate through the back alleys and roads to find our location we were becoming increasingly further lost in this city. We considered a taxi, however since we had just arrived at the hotel earlier that day, we could not recall the name of the hotel. Therefore we spent a solid hour and a half aimlessly walking the streets of Sevilla attempting to find our destination. Eventually we accidentally stumbled upon where we needed to be.

At that time we proceeded to return to the room and continue the party in our room. Shortly after Kirsten came to the room and joined us inside. Once more we were interrogated about our levels of sobriety, and whereabouts for the evening. After about 15 minutes she left the room. Shortly after we heard a knock at the door. I hurriedly cocked my head back and finished off the bottle of Tangueray, and stashed the bottle in the closet. I opened the door to find our Spanish teacher standing there. She requested that we come out into the hall so she could speak to us. Mrs. Wilkinson stated that she had heard concerns from the tour guide that we were skipping the party boat to go out drinking. We stated that this was simply not the case. I vehemently stated, "All we did was have some tapas. I had jamon serrano." Apparently I felt at that time that I needed to hammer that point home, because I would repeat the fact that I had jamon serrano at least 3 more times in the conversation. In my opinion, she did not believe our answer whatsoever, but she left seemingly content with what we had told her. Another bullet had been dodged by the daring trio. The night continued as every other night had, or so I believe. I honestly don't recall the end of that evening, but as far as I can recall nothing scandalous happened beyond that. Thus ends the story of my night lost in the city of Sevilla. I will attempt to conclude the Spain story in the near future with one last glorious post.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Debauchery in Espana - Part Deux

My second night in Spain was actually able to eclipse the greatness that was our first night in my eyes. Our tour guide, whom by the way will have a significant role in a later story, had suggested that the group attend a Flamingo dancing lesson. The ladies were all over this idea. The fellas, however, had other ideas in mind. We informed the group of leaders that we were worn out from all the traveling and were going to rest for the evening at the hotel. Shortly after the group had left on their journey to dance like Flamingos, our plan was set into motion.

The three musketeers had decided to tour Madrid on their own and experience all that the culture had to offer. Essentially, this meant consuming numerous alcoholic beverages and immersing ourselves in the Spanish nightlife. The plan was immediately put into fruition as we found ourselves a nice little dive bar, and began putting the wheels in motion. This was a small bar that consisted of only a few tables. They served pizza and of course the most important component, liquor. Granted 2 of us were actually not 18 years of age, but the bartender did not seem concerned with this so everything worked itself out. The pizza was consumed, many drinks were had, and the night was starting off with a bang. At that point we realized that none of us had brought any money to pay for these luxuries. I took it upon myself to retrieve the necessary funds to cover our expenses. When I have consumed the sauce, I suddenly gain bounds of energy and can often be found bouncing around. This time was no different. I sprinted the entire way back to the hotel only to realize that I hadn't brought a hotel key with me. Therefore, I needed to sprint back, and do it all over again. Eventually I was able to gain access to the dough in our room, and return to the scene of the crime.

Upon once again arriving at the bar, I was greeted with an odd sight. One of my buddies was playing soccer outside with the children of another bar patron. Keep in mind that we were clearly not in the right state of mind at the time. Apparently that did not matter to this man as he seemed perfectly fine with this occurring. Also, this was at about 11 in the evening, and it seemed odd to see small children playing soccer with drunk fools at a bar at that hour. Inside, my other buddy had started quite the banter with the bartender. I entered the door and joined in on the fun. It was an amazing experience. Suddenly, it seemed that we could speak fluent Spanish. Many topics were discussed with the Spaniards at this bar, including soccer, R.E.M., and America. It felt as if I had learned everything from the Rosetta Stone disks in a matter of an hour. Granted, we were drunk so it is very likely that we were actually butchering the language. However, the bartenders seemed to understand what we were saying, and it all felt natural.

At some point we realized that it was about time to head back to the hotel before the group returned from their excursion. Somehow we successfully returned to our hotel and at that point we had more plans in mind. One of the trio had mentioned our first day in Madrid that he had seen some very attractive "Belgian" girls arriving around the same time we had checked into the hotel. It seemed to be a similar student travel group to ours, but apparently made up of Belgian hooligans. We found it in our best interest to explore this further and bang on their door to see if we could attract their attention. After unsuccessfully attempting to make contact with them for about 20 minutes we found it fruitless and returned to our room where we passed out.

Wait, the story does not actually end there. The three of us had sunken into an apparent comatose state at that point. This was evident as when the girls returned from their dance of the Flamingos they had proceeded to pound on our door for many minutes. Panicked by the fact that we were not responding to their bludgeoning of our hotel door, they went downstairs to retrieve an extra key to our room. The front desk at the hotel must have been on high alert, because they simply handed an extra key to these ladies. They proceeded to storm into our room, and wake us all from our drunken stupor. I still have photos of that scene, as apparently the ladies decided to pick up our cameras and begin a photoshoot. One of the musketeers could barely open his eyes. The girls forced water down each of our throats despite our pleas that it was unnecessary. Therefore we were awakened, when in reality we could have had quite the peaceful sleep that evening.

The next day we met these exotic Belgian ladies that were down the hall from us. After speculating about these mysterious Belgians for the past couple of days, we learned that they were in fact high school students from Philly. Not much different than our initial observation of the situation in my opinion. We held an intellectual conversation amongst ourselves, and then proceeded outbound for the next city in our tour. That next day was not very kind to me, as I was still clearly liquored up that entire morning during bus ride to Sevilla. Upon arriving in Sevilla we explored many great landmarks in the town. Things had begun to turn for me as the alcohol was wearing off, and I was progressively becoming more nauseated. This day was apparently intended to torture me as it included climbing 100 floors of steps in a tower. The day was capped off with a visit to Christopher Columbus' tomb where I uttered a line to my friend that still lives in folklore whenever we see each other. "Dude, I think I'm about to vomit on Christopher Columbus' tomb." Luckily, this did not occur and I was able to maintain my cool. I continued to do so even when our Spanish teacher's husband lifted my hat and stared me dead in the eyes, as I sat slumped on the street while the class visited the markets around them. I was clearly still out of it at the time, and I think he suspected something was amiss. However, I played it cool and stared right back at him until he blinked and moved on. A very successful tactic had been employed. I had simply out-willed him. Thus concludes my second Spanish adventure. More installments to come in the near future...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Debauchery in Espana - Part 1

I think I can make this story into at least a trilogy, and I feel like I'm running out of stories so I need to draw this out as long as possible. During my senior year of high school a group of us took an epic trip to Spain that would forever change our lives. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience. There are things that happened there that I'm not necessarily proud of, but I would not take back one moment of that trip. At least I don't believe I would since I can't remember one of the evenings. And so the story begins...

When I began high school I knew that I would like to accomplish was to learn another language. I found that Spanish would be the most useful. Plus French was the only other language offered at my school, and I sure as hell wasn't going to waste my time learning that garbage! There were 3 Spanish teachers at the school, but as I progressed through school I continually had the same teacher. Many of us that were in her class continued on, because she was such a great teacher. By our junior year we discovered that there was actually never a Spanish 4 class offered at the school. We talked to her and convinced her to create a Spanish 4 class so that we could all continue to learn under her tutelage. Essentially, she was our Mr. Feeny.

As our senior year began, we had a brilliant idea during one of our Spanish classes. The class should take an exhilarating trip to Spain! Mrs. Wilkinson, our wonderful teacher, said she would be more than happy to look into the prices and information regarding using a student travel agency for this trip. It all fell into place from there. Unfortunately, not everyone was able to make the trip from our class, but a great majority did. I believe the head count consisted of 3 males and about 20 females. This could only lead to good results one would assume. Mrs. Wilkinson and her husband were the only chaperons for this affair.

Once Spring Break approached we took off on our soon-to-be epic journey overseas. As we were on our flight, an event occurred that would make for a much more intense trip. That day was the day that Iraq was first attacked the the US. The reason I mention this detail is because it would lead to one of the craziest days of my life.

We arrived in Madrid early that next morning. Nobody from our group had an idea of the events that had transpired in Iraq, but we would soon discover this event had in fact occurred. As we exited the subway, and proceeded out the tunnel to downtown Madrid, the group saw a gigantic protest happening in the town square. Signs were held up by angry Spaniards. The one that I will always remember stated in Spanish "We hate Americans, I love Bin Laden." At that point I realized that this was a sticky situation to be in. There we were, with our baggy pants and New Era hats on. The Americans stuck out like sore thumbs. The outcasts took a seat outside at a restaurant and watched the madness ensue. Angry protesters would march by, and upon seeing us start chants that did not sound very friendly. Being the fool that I am, I attempted to join them in some of their hostile chants, though that did not seem to please members of the mob as they passed us.

Eventually we moved on to our hotel, which was amazing. All the hotels we stayed at during our time there were 4 or 5 star hotels. It was truly an amazing experience. That night the group ventured into downtown Madrid to explore the area. We split up into smaller groups and went our own ways. That is the point when things really began to get real. Since some of our crew consisted of the 18+ crowd we were able to secure some alcohol. We were told at the outset of the trip that drinking would not be allowed, but obviously that would not hold up. Quickly a small group of us downed a bottle of vodka. Then the fireworks began. Many of the smaller groups had combined to form a large pack now.

The two other males accompanying me on the trip had gone into a bar to utilize the facilities. While I waited outside with a herd of females I suddenly heard the sound of glass smashing everywhere. A riot had begun in downtown Madrid. People were racing around wildly and bottles were smashing everywhere. As I waited out there I began to hear the sound of police sirens, and the ladies huddled into a large doorway. By large I mean it was huge as there were a good 10-15 of us. Suddenly a brigade of policemen came around the corner and the ladies backed further into the doorway and I was actually gently shoved out into the road in front of them. It's always good to be amongst a group of friends you know will be there for you! As I stood in the road alone I stared at numerous policemen pointing their guns down the street at me. Now, I don't want to sound too dramatic, because I believe they were likely only shooting beanbags at individuals, but it's still not a comforting feeling. Drunk fool I am, I simply raised my hands in surrender. A few moments passed and they continued on their way to find the source of the riot.

Once the other fellows joined us outside, the crew decided it was time to reunite with the chaperons and company. Upon finding them we were all quickly ushered towards the taxis. Each male was assigned a group of ladies to ride in the cabs with back to the hotel. My cab ride back did not seem out of the ordinary though the taxi drivers are menaces to society out on the roads. However, another cab received quite the outspoken cab driver. I was informed they were told something to the extent of, "You OK, Bush..." and he proceeded to give the throat slashing gesture toward them. Luckily, we safely reached the hotel in one piece and our trip could continue. This was only the first night of one of the greatest weeks of my life. The rest is to follow...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Let's Talk About Banana Hammocks!

Where do I even start with this story? I will definitely have to provide a backstory in order to provide some perspective on the entire situation. I went to college to pursue a degree in Sports Business. It was my dream to work for a professional sports franchise, ideally a Major League Baseball team. Sports has always been my passion, and the opportunity to work with something I love was always my main objective. Immediately after graduating from college I partook in an internship with a professional baseball team.

Shortly after that ended I heard from the Arizona Diamondbacks, a major league baseball team, regarding a position I had applied for with their team. They wanted me to come down along with a group of other individuals from around the country to partake in a group interview. A good portion of these candidates would be chosen to work in the front office at various sales positions that were being added on the team. I had never been more excited for an opportunity than I was when I first received this invitation from them. This was a chance for me to live the dream I had always envisioned. There was no possible way that I would blow this opportunity.

Well that turned out to not be entirely true. I have a hypothesis that I intentionally sabotaged myself on this interview, but that's probably nothing more than an excuse. You see at the time of this interview I was in a relationship that was 4 years running. Well, this person was not entirely supportive of my endeavours into the real world. This job would take cause me to move 1500 miles away. This was made painfully clear to me during the few days leading up to the interview. I was out of town for 2 weeks prior to the interview, and had a quick layover back in town on my flight to Phoenix. We met up at the airport during this time, and here is the direct quote that was given to me. "I know you will get the job, because I don't want you to get it." This was not all that was said, but it basically sums up the rest of the discussion. Now, perhaps some may see this as a sign of support. After all, she did say that I would get the job! Needless to say the phone conversations before the interview weren't much more joyful, and were accompanied with tears from the other party. There's really nothing more demoralizing than knowing the person whose opinion means the most isn't supportive of you pursuing your dream. However, this blog is not intended to be sappy, so I will leave it at that and move on. The only reason I included this was to support my sabotage theory. I may have tossed away the job, because I didn't want to risk leaving somebody unhappy that I cared for so deeply. It's hard to put everything you have into something that is simultaneously tearing this person apart.

There were about 30 people that were invited to this group interview. Over half would be receiving offers in the weeks following this set of interviews. The first day of interviews would consist of the group being split into 3 smaller groups. These groups would each be interviewed by 3 heads of departments within the organization. It all began innocently enough, and I provided what I thought to be fairly witty commentary throughout the interview. When I am placed on the spot before a group I will usually resort to making a fool of myself, and utilizing corny wisecracks.

This interview was no different from the usual routine. I felt things were going fairly well at the time. I've always had decent success in interviews. I rarely stress out about situations, and my plan is to simply be myself during the process. I don't try to act the part of a model employee with what people deem to be the ideal attitude in an interview. The way I see it is that I can't go wrong with being myself at an interview. The interviewer will either find my personality a great fit for the position or worst case scenario they will not believe that is the case. In that case the job wasn't meant for me in the first place. It's best to know that ahead of time rather than after I've started the position, and find out that your personality isn't a match for what is expected in the company. I've diverted a bit from the story to mention this, because in this instance being myself most likely cost me my dream job. Though don't forget that whole sabotage thing had a large role in it as well. I don't want to hold myself completely accountable, thank you.

Back to the story at hand. The third department figure to come in to interview our group was the President of Human Resources. She spoke to us for a while about her background and various other subjects. The one thing she said that stuck out to me was that one should go into an interview feeling like they didn't need the job. If you are to do that, then you won't worry about trying to portray this perfect employee that doesn't allow the interviewer see the real you. The irony is that I would shortly attempt this tactic and it would completely backfire on me. However, it may be due to the fact that I took this advice a bit too literally and a little further than she likely intended.

The group interview began with the routine questions. Why do you want to be a part of the Diamondbacks? What would you think of moving to Phoenix? The works, essentially. Eventually, we reached a portion of the interview in which role playing would be involved. Any time I am involved in role playing, it's a dangerous scenario for all parties involved. As I mentioned earlier, I am out to make a fool of myself and try to elicit laughs. The role playing would take place with the person sitting next to us at this interview. The group had been formed into a wide circle in order to perform these scenarios. The first role playing scenario began innocently enough with one partner selling a strange product to their partner whom would play the role of a potential customer. One example of this would be selling a bathing suit to a customer in Alaska. This portion of the role play went off without a hitch. I was doing my thing, impressing the ladies with my incredible charm and wit. Then things quickly took a turn for the worse.

The next scenario involved a customer bringing back in the product they had purchased due to their being unhappy with the item. The "employee" would need to find a solution for them, and help them however they could. I happened to be the customer in this role play, so I would dictate the flow of the conversation. This did not bode well for my partner, and I most definitely threw him a curveball. I began the conversation with the following line, "Hello, I would like to return this banana hammock I purchased last week, please." Now, I'm not entirely sure where the use of the term banana hammock falls within the parameters of things you should not say during an interview. If I had to guess it probably ranks fairly high on that list. At least in the upper 30th percentile of terms that shouldn't be used. If only it had ended at that point. My partner quickly responded, "I'm sorry about that. What seems to be the problem." At this point I could have still recovered and gone about with a mature response that would have been deemed acceptable. As you may have guessed I did not choose this route. "Well, people at the pool have been laughing at me, because my bulge is too small," I informed him. Yes, it's true. I had started to discuss my "bulge" at a professional job interview. Things were turning sour very quickly. Inside my head I was telling myself to stop, however my mouth was working more quickly than my brain could process this mess I was creating. I could see the interview quickly sliding down a slippery slope but it seemed to be too late to turn back now. "I tried stuffing it, but that wasn't very effective either. So, I would just like to return this if at all possible." I'm sure that more dialogue was included during this discussion, but I believe I have touched on the major points involved. The group seemed to get a good laugh, and if I do recall I saw a smile on the interviewer's face as well. I'm still quite certain that this dialogue hurt me in the long run. The group interview continued from there as planned.

That evening I decided to inform friends and family of my blunder. I feel that I laugh at myself more than anyone I know. I believe that everyone needs to have this ability. Things aren't always going to go the way you plan. There's nothing you can do at that point. You can either dwell on a bad situation, or make light of it and move on with your life. I guarantee the latter will lead to a more joyful life. Sure, my dream was shot for the time being, but in that case it just wasn't meant to be. I knew that I would have plenty of other opportunities to fulfill this dream down the line. At least I had an entertaining story to share with the world to show for this blunder. Alright, enough with this preaching. Back to the point at hand. When word reached the ears of a certain significant other, one could instantly notice the tone in her voice change dramatically. Joy had once again filled her body, as she knew there was no possible way that I could recover from this disaster. In a sudden turn of events she was lending words of support. She was damn certain that I was done for, and she had fairly good reason to believe that.

I did go back the next day for the one on one interview. This only took place with one of the three department heads. The woman with whom I had shared my deepest insecurities, did not conduct my individual interview. Whether that can be seen as a positive or negative is debatable. I could have potentially recovered from my mishap, or it could have been incredibly awkward. As I see it, this very well could have gone in two entirely different directions. Once that day was complete, I returned to my paradise back home.

Once I arrived home, I decided to send the obligatory thank you to the interviewers. I literally sat over the keyboard for about an hour pondering whether I should make a comment regarding "the joke." I couldn't decide if there was any possible way to salvage what was left of my dignity. In the end I came to the conclusion that I should leave that portion out of the message. Needless to say I did not receive an invitation to join the organization. I suppose I was never directly told that this banana hammock incident was directly tied to my not having received an offer. However, I find it safe to assume that it played some role in the final decision. When placing two fairly similar candidates together, how often are you going to choose the guy that brought up banana hammocks and his small bulge in front of a group of strangers? I'm afraid that guy simply isn't going to win that battle very often.

The interview was not a complete waste. I received a call shortly after from a member of the Arizona State University Athletic Dept. stating that he had received a recommendation from the Diamondbacks for a position within the athletic department. Perhaps they had decided that I should be amongst my people: other immature fools that would like nothing better to do than discuss their genitalia at inappropriate times. What better place than a university!?! I did end up receiving the position at ASU. I chose not to accept it for certain reasons, but that is irrelevant to this story so I won't delve further into that. Thus ends the story of what may possibly the worst job interview ever conducted.