Erratic Ramblings from More Strangers on the Train

It all started on the train with the two women sitting behind me, talking about their kids in baseball. The struggle was real. I was only half paying attention until one of them, let’s call her Lefty, said, “Oh jeepers.”

snort

I knew it was time to pull out my phone and document snippets of this conversation,because I know y’all love it when I eavesdrop.

Then Righty says, “Then, I watched The Nerds. You know, After the Thrones. They’re all SO nerdy! They think they’re so cool. But they’re such nerds.”

I don’t think Baseball Mom got the memo, that it’s hip to be a square these days…Even my mom (who was a cool girl) thinks the Big Bang gang is cool.

Lefty jumps back in with, “Did I ever tell you what Brett’s final grade was? He got an A. And she still wanted him to take it again. He told me, ‘She still says I don’t know the concepts.'”

Coming from a recovering teacher, I can attest to how hard it is not to pass students with Cs and Ds, but if they don’t understand the concepts, how the hell do they get As?

Righty, apparently checking her phone, “My email is full. It says delete some files and try again.  What Files!?”

Lefty was only half listening, because then she chimed in with, “I had 1,099 texts. From you from two years!”

A few minutes later, Righty was back on Game of Thrones, “I hope Danerys and whatsher face hook up. Yara? Maybe he’ll become an unsullied. What’s his face? He’s halfway there. Poor thing. He did betray his fam – his…Starks. When is Danerys going to find out all this stuff?”

Then they rambled some more about baseball and kids…

Righty was all, “What’s an Ethel Merman?”

And Lefty replied, “It’s German.”

Righty responded with “I have such a hard time visualizing things…”

snort

I couldn’t help it.

Then Righty starts singing, “Do you, do you want my love?” Followed by a whistle.

Lefty said something quiet enough for me to miss, and Righty quipped back, “It’s cuz I’m fancy. Fancy Nancy.”

I wish I was making all if this up. But it’s 100% real life.

Then Lefty says something like, “I’m sorry that you almost died but…I’m really glad I swim. It helps me!”

Righty dramatically reiterates, “I would have died.  I would literally have died.”

Ummm…okay, Righty. Glad you didn’t die or anything.

Conversations overheard on the train...and the Snapchats that shame them.

Conversations overheard on the train…and the Snapchats that shame them.

I  tried to turn them off, but then Righty said, “I’m like your lady’s maid.”

Lefty, realizing this was a brillz idea, responded, “I need a lady’s maid!”

“Doesn’t everybody.”

Well, actually…maybe?

And then they started talking about their appearances.

Lefty was all, “You don’t have football shoulders.”

Righty knows a good life when she sees it…”Thank GOD I don’t have football shoulders.”

“I do and it sucks.”

Poor Lefty with her football shoulders.

And then Righty starts singing again, “Do you do you want my love?”

And scene.

You know, commuting on the train is almost as entertaining as watching one of my favorite binge watches on Netflix. Everyone is a character in this world. Everyone. I get a glimpse into their lives, just like the tiny Carrie Bradshaw I’m currently obsessing over in The Carrie Diaries. Or the crazy awesome kids in the weird AF town on Stranger Things. Or my favorite office culture on 30 Rock.

What characters do you love to watch?

Netflix Stream Team

This post was brought to you by my friends at Netflix, who provided me, as a member of the Stream Team, with a year of Netflix, a device on which to watch it, and this month, a freaking awesome harmonica to play with. All opinions and words are mine.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

What Can You Do With an English Degree?

Whilst shopping at Carson Pirie Scott, I observed (eavesdropped) a couple of ladies who had run into each other randomly. I listened as they played catch up and maintained a somewhat blah degree of small talk. I drew a little bit closer as they began discussing one of their children who, to her mother’s dismay, was getting a degree in English.

Her friend/acquaintance asked, “Well, is she going to teach?”

The mother of this English major expressed her disappointment and incredulity that her daughter was, in fact, not going to be a teacher and what in the world could she do with such an inferior degree.

If you major in English, there are a LOT of career paths you can take. These are just a few ideas.

It was, at this point, the time I felt it necessary to interject. Yes, I did jump from being a fly on a wall to joining their conversation. Because OMG people need to understand the relevance and brilliance of English majors everywhere.

I marched right up to those women and interrupted the fuck out of their conversation. “There’s actually a lot you can do with an English major.”

They looked at me only a little funny, because in the Chicagoland area, and probably by extension the Midwest, it is entirely normal for people to just jump into your conversations. We’re a pretty friendly people. Even if we do eavesdrop and take joy in overhearing people quitting their jobs out of the blue.

“I have a Bachelor of Arts in English.”

“Do you teach?”

“No, actually I don’t. I’m certified to teach English, but I have no desire to do so. On the contrary, there are many things that a degree in English can prepare college grads for that other degrees don’t.”

“Really?”

Well, duh, lady.

“I’ve actually had a couple of thriving careers with my English degree, and the beauty is that I’m not tied down to just one. I was a catering manager for a couple of years, and now I’m a senior copywriter for a Fortune 100 company.” (And now I’m an editor. Maybe one day I’ll own a restaurant or something. It’s the circle of life, bitches).

The ladies were impressed and maybe a little less judgeysaurus rexy about the whole English major thing. As I walked away, I was transported back to my senior year of college in which one of my favorite professors, Dr. Prescott, led our senior project class. The project? Write a research thesis discussing one career path you  can take with your English major.

Of course, not knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up, as I had JUST dropped my education minor (to teach English) the previous semester, I looked to what I knew. Dad was in wine sales for years before he took on ownership of the bar. Liquor sales seemed like a brilliant idea. Plus I could source dad and some of his cronies for my first-person sources. It was ingenious. I got an  A.

English majors, and really anyone with a degree in the liberal arts, often get a bad rap for being lazy and stupid (LAS – Liberal Arts and Sciences). None of which is actually true. Lazy? Fuck no. We’re intuitive. We’re clever. We believe in working smarter not harder. If we can write a paper in 3 hours when we’re given 3 weeks, why in the world would we waste time writing it early? If we work better at 2 am than at noon, we’re going to write the shit out of a final paper in the middle of the night. Because we can. We understand our strengths and weaknesses. We know where and how to thrive.

-Literature is unbelievably helpful, because no matter what business you are in, you are dealing with interpersonal relationships,It gives you an appreciation of what makes people tick.-

As an English major, I learned more life skills than most of my friends in other more direct degree programs. Sure, a business major is going to learn how to land a deal or make a sale, but I learned how to talk to and more importantly, write to people. To engage my audience in a way that makes a sale feel natural and authentic. I learned how to negotiate a big fancy contract without ever discussing contract negotiations in a class, because I know people. I know words. I know the intrinsic value of human interaction in every aspect of business. Someone who went straight from their B.S. to an MBA program without working a day in their life doesn’t necessarily have that luxury (this also doesn’t mean that that don’t).

So what can you do with an English major?

Whatever the fuck you want.

Did you go to college? What did you major in? Did your major lead you down an expected career path? 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Who Needs Big Brother When I’m Listening to Your Conversations?

I realize that I’m a total creeper. To be fair, you guys asked for more of these…so if you’re weirded out, you’ve only got yourself to blame. Except for the graphic. That was all me.

I'm always listening to conversations, and when I hear or see something noteworthy? I write it down.

My old company had a big ole corporate office that I almost never visited. I worked at a satellite office full of hipsters and people who didn’t seem to mind that I wore rainbow yoga pants to work. It was a comfortable place to be. In my last couple of months at the company, I was required to make my way to corporate on a weekly cadence. My teammates and I called it Mordor because a dark cloud seemed to loom over the long drive to the office.

One of the neat things about Mordor err…corporate was the miniature city within an office. When I realized I needed to buy tampons, I could just head to the convenience store inside the building. Which is exactly what I did on my last Mordor err…corporate day.

I walked into the shop, where a woman was sitting behind a register on the left side of the counter and a young man was standing behind the register on the right side. Another employee was walking back and forth through the store, and I made my way to the pharmacy aisle.

I grabbed a box of tampons, walked down the snack aisle, stared longingly at the box of Oreos that I opted not to purchase, and made my way to the cashier, a young gentleman in his late teens/early twenties. I thought to myself how far I’d come since my embarrassing first period, and how I didn’t give two shits that some dude had to pick up a box of tampons, look me in the eye, and ask if I needed anything else. If he did ask, I considered telling him to hold on a second, I needed some Midol – just for funsies, but he never gave me the chance. He scanned my tampons, and as I was punching in my phone number to the system, some other guy (my assumption is that he was the manager or supervisor) walked behind him.

This was the exchange that played out.

Cashier: K, I am not in the mood. I’m sick and don’t feel well.

Wait, what the fuck is going on? Where did that even come from? That guy never said anything.

Supervisor: I don’t give a shit.

Woah. Hostile much? Wait, these people are AT WORK. This is how they’re speaking to each other in front of customers. This is SO fucked up.

Cashier: Fuck this place.

Well, this is an interesting turn of events…I wonder if he’s going to…

The cashier reaches behind his neck, pulls off the lanyard he’s wearing, and drops his badge on the counter before I’ve had the chance to swipe my credit card.

Cashier: I quit. I’m done dealing with this bullshit. Have fun making deliveries today.

Did that seriously just happen?

Yep. Yes, it did. That guy just quit. While ringing up my tampons.

Me: Ummm…can someone complete my transaction?

The girl sitting down stood and moved toward the register I was at, and the previous cashier turned from the door before he left.

Cashier: A, I’m really sorry. I’m sick of this shit. I have to go.

That was fucking ridiculous.

The girl completed my transaction, and I went on my merry way. Furiously typing up the exchange in my “other people’s conversations” files, anxious to tell you about this insanely ridiculous story.

It seemed fitting that this happened on my last day at the central office, as I only had a few days left. I was glad I didn’t quit in anger like that guy, but it definitely added to the weirdness I felt about leaving.

Have you ever witnessed someone leave their job or have you quit in a rage? What is the craziest way in which you’ve left a job?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

I’m Listening to Your Conversations and Writing Down Your Words

One of my favorite pastimes is people watching. It began as a simple pleasure.

Dining alone at a restaurant allowed me to play games in which I guessed everything about you, from your relationship status to the reason you ordered the salad or the steak. I’d watch carefully as you tucked that strand of hair behind your ear 15 times or as you hugged your girlfriend, wife, mother, child goodbye at the door. I’d create a story about you in my head that made sense. Sometimes it was a funny story, and sometimes it was sad. But it always felt real.

Sometimes, I’d pen a few words in a notebook as I watched you. Write your story down, to remember it. To change it and tell it later. Maybe you’d be the hero in my future fiction best seller. Or the villain in a screenplay I’ll write one day.

And then something changed. I started carrying this mini computer everywhere. I got lost in Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. Blogging. E-mails. Everything but what truly surrounded me. Scrolling through an endless stream of what people I “know” are up to. What they’re eating. Where they’re vacationing. When they go to work. How they go to work. I discovered I could people watch without watching anyone. I could see their lives unfold without being anywhere near them. I didn’t need to make up a story, because it was all right there on my screen.

You were forgotten.

Instead of watching you argue with the cashier at LOFT about a coupon, I was staring down at my phone in a trance. Watching them talk about their most recent Amazon purchase or what their kids ate for breakfast. Laughing about a meme that everyone was sharing.

Once in a while, I’m reminded of you. Your screaming is so loud, I’m drawn back into the real world. I see you. I hear you. And everything you say is absolute gold. And now, with this tiny computer, I can capture it. Whether I’m recording you on Snapchat like an asshole (I’m the asshole, not you) or sending myself your words for posterity in an email, I’m there. Listening to everything you say. I promise.

I'm Listening to Your Words

In case you don’t believe me, here are some of my favorite things you’ve said.

Middle Schoolers on an air plane trip to Washington DC

“I feel bad for all these people.”

To be fair, we were warned that it was a full plane and the back half of the plane was going to fill up with tweens.

“You have to pay $8 for Facebook!?”

Technically, it’s $8 for the whole Internet, but you know…tomato, tomahto.

“I’m attracted to a 7th grader.”

I’m assuming you’re in 8th grade, and it’s probably not going to work out for you, my friend.

“Wow, they’re really pooping those things [luggage at baggage claim] out.”

You’re not wrong, my young friend. You’re not wrong.

In case the Internet isn't creepy enough, whatever you say in public has become fair game. Click To Tweet

Lady on the train without a ticket

“My sister died! My sister died! They didn’t even let me see her! You know who my grandfather was? Al Capone. Could you hold this [coffee]?”

I feel really sorry for you, lady, even though you’re lying…at least about Al Capone. But I also feel sorry for the women to whom you passed your coffee cup. We shared a sympathetic look as she set your coffee cup on the floor while you went to take a crap in the train bathroom.

Business guys at a hot dog joint

“What is she Croatian? Is she Romanian? I know she’s not Greek, ’cause I insulted the Greeks in a meeting and she didn’t flinch.”

Oh boy, gentleman. Your deep Chicago accents are making this way more entertaining than it should be.

“He dead?”

You sound so flip. At least train lady was obviously distressed.

“Just like that guy who got his arm stuck in a boulder and had to cut it off.”

You guys are a train wreck. Please don’t leave. I want to listen to you for hours.

You left.

What juicy conversations have you overheard in your world? What are your favorite people-watching places?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!