Saturday, March 31, 2012

Running with the Herd

It has come to my attention, dear readers, that mankind (at least those that can be found frequenting grocery stores for their daily needs) has retained an interesting piece of its past. At some point in our history as a race, we were more animalistic than we are now. We, especially those of us in the Western world, have evolved beyond the need for a tribe mentality.

I am an individual. I make decisions on my own. I go buy things when I damn well please. And when I am good and ready to leave, I will make my way to the checkout lanes.

It just so happens that all of the other individuals out there in the world decided to shop right now. And they’re all mucking up the checkout lanes! What bastards, each and every one of them.

That woman and her 4 screaming children: bastards. (Well not the children. Their father is over at the service counter getting lotto, so we know who he is. Though, they are still little bastards for being so loud. So yes the children too.)

That crotchety old man in the electric cart: a bastard.

A nun, the parade of non-English speakers, the lunch breakers, that smelly homeless man and the myriad of other folks who resemble the normal people I know: every single one, a bastard.

All of these individual bastards have decided to make me late for the rest of my independent day.

Let me tell you something. In my nearly six years of working in grocery stores, I’ve had loads of time to observe people. On the whole, human beings are fascinating creatures. So many of us think we’re completely autonomous and make every last decision on our own.

I call bullshit!

I’ve developed a theory as to why customers flood the checkout lanes in waves and then completely disappear. For anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour, the front end will be dead. A few people trickle through lanes here and there, but nothing big. During this time, I can always feel the pressure building. I see all of you individuals as you mull about the store holding on to your personal shopping carts (all of which are identical, but that is neither here nor there). Some of you rush by in a hurry desperately seeking that one item you forgot for a party. Some of you have been in the store for hours deciding which sugary cereal will stifle your children long enough for you to enjoy a cup of coffee. Many of you wheel your overflowing trolleys around in a daze as if you are waiting for a sign.

And then: SNAP!

Whatever mystical barrier that was holding you all back breaks, and every single one of you individuals rushes to the nearest cashier. This happens every single day.

My theory is this: we individuals of the Western world have preserved in our heads some biological imperative to move with the herd. Think of it as a subconscious need to leave with a group. Safety in numbers, isn’t that what they say? No matter how long any individual has been shopping, the lot of you will always move together. I would say it was just a coincidence if it wasn’t a daily phenomenon.

If you find yourself in disbelief and wish to call shenanigans, I think you should go observe for yourself. Best case scenario, you can come back and rub it in my face. Worst case scenario, you get to open your eyes for a while and see some interesting shit.

As for those few that trickle through during the interims, I have another theory. Many just have luck on their side or some remarkable timing. But there are some who deliberately choose those times. They will wait until they see the rest of the herd is long gone before making a move. Perhaps those of us that can see the biological imperative in action and consciously choose to avoid it are genetically defunct. Mother Nature forgot to implant that seed in our brains.

Or perhaps we’re the truly evolved individuals.

But hey, what do I know? I’m just a cashier.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Games with the God of the Sea

I feel like a bad Floridian.

This past Sunday was the first time I’ve been to the beach in what seems like years. When its been so long that you can’t remember, you may as well have never been before. We are the sum of our memories…or something like that.

I had forgotten how truly wonderful it can be. The interesting thing, though, is that my body remembered it all.

Its as though this was a well rehearsed scene. I started by taking off my shoes. Adjusted my gait as the sturdy planks of the boardwalk disappeared and turned to earth and glass. Feeling the sand, warm from the sun, as it conformed to the shape of my feet. Without even realizing that I made a decision, my shirt slid over my head and was tossed over to keep my shoes company. The sun felt so nice on my long since exposed shoulders. The sand hardened and became cool. The water that held the sand in place backed away with each step…it always made me feel like I had some kind of super power watching the sand change color under my weight.

At long last, I reached the water.

With each tiny wave, I was reminded of something: I was born to this. As much as I cherish my connection with the earth, half of me is a child of the ocean.

Native Floridians are hybrid creatures. We are born on land and surrounded on all but one side by the sea. The cold water licking at my feet urged me to remember.

When I was younger, I would play this game with Poseidon. I would call out to the god of the sea and tell him to do his worst. Send his waves at me! For hours I would fight the ocean with fists, feet, body slams, shells, and balls of wet sand. Basically anything at my disposal was fair play. If I ever said anything too harsh, I was reminded that I was in fact playing around with a god. Waves can slam you down pretty hard onto shell beds, let me tell you.

Tough love.

I never was able to outlast him. When my young body reached its limits and exhaustion inevitably set in, the waves would still be coming strong. As a reminder of who was really in charge, he would always send one last wave to throw off my balance just before I reached the shore. Such a joker.

On some level, though, I felt that I was respected. Here I was, only one tiny half breed among millions…but I stood up to him. I gave him everything I had, and I felt recognized for it.

This past Sunday, I remembered everything.
Then I got that feeling. That rush of being with an old playmate and rival. Seeing a friend you haven’t seen in years. Standing knee deep in the surf, I could feel myself readying for battle. It was invigorating.

He pulled gently at my feet as if asking me to come in further. And then I heard it. A familiar voice spoke from the depths of my mind.

“I remember you, child. Are you ready? Have you come back for more?”

Unless you were right next to me, you probably would not have been able to see the smirk in the corner of my mouth. How else could he expect me to respond?

You bet your ass I’m ready, old man. Game on.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

People Make Me Smile

9am to 7:45pm. That was my shift at work today.

No matter how generally bubbly I appear to be, and after five or so years working at a grocery store I have gotten pretty good at keeping up the effervescence, that is a long damn day. Even the bubbliest soda goes flat if you leave it open for too long.

By about 5 o’clock, I was flat as a cartoon character that’s been run over by a steam roller. For a clear mental image, just think Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. If for some reason you can’t recall that scene or have never seen this movie, you deserve to be steam rolled.

Moving on!

Out of the blue, a magickal thing happened.

“Brogan?” A man with brilliant blue devilish eyes and a lilt in his voice peered at my name tag through his Harry Potteresque spectacles. “You must have some Irish in ya.”

“Well yes, it is Irish. I’m only about half Irish, myself.”

“I’m just teasin’ ya, boy. I know a thing or two about being Irish. The name’s…” This man listed at least six names. Among them were Brandon, Patrick, and Riley. Some I didn’t catch because his accent was rockin. Needless to say, I felt no need to question his authenticity.

“You know, I knew a Brogan growin’ up. We were friends in school. Well, not really friends. The man’s a bit of a bastard. But you seem really nice.”

Feeling round aboutly complimented, I continued with the transaction. The whole time, no other person came in my line. It was like one of my homelands, sensing its child on the brink of losing his bubble, decided to send an emissary my way. He was charged with setting up a barrier to keep my line down for about 10 straight minutes (an invisible Irish magick barrier, mind you), being ridiculously awesome, and of course re-carbonating me.

As a side note, I’m not surprised that when my effervescence was direly low I heard nothing from my German homeland. There’s nothing like a full blooded German to kick your ass back to happy town. ‘You vill bubble. YOU VILL BUBBLE NOW!’

Regrettably, I was still at work and had to finish the order. My new Irish friend told me he frequents the store, and now he would be keeping an eye out for me. We’ve got to stick together, I suppose. Kind of like I gained a new family member…crazy old Irish uncle six names.

“Alrighty, you’re all set. You have yourself a wonderful day and I will see you around.”

Crazy uncle six names looked over his change, grabbed his bags and said, “Oh with the help of Jesus and a couple police, you will.” He winked at me and then disappeared through the front doors.

Maybe I will see him again. My gut says no though. 

Either way, he put a big smile on my face and gave me the energy to finish off the day without decapitating customers.

Glad to know that Ireland’s got my back.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Daydreams and wishes...

Something wonderful happened at work today.

In the midst of my I-had-no-coffee-today stupor, I had a daydream about a genie. His metallic purple lamp complimented his periwinkle eyes. With much grandeur, this genie of mine offered me my three wishes.

But first he gave the spiel. 
  1. No more than three wishes! Don't be a greedy douche-nozzle.
  2. No affecting the will of others. They like their shit the way it is.
  3. Let us not forget, no going against the natural order of things. Dead people are dead people, and zombies are an abomination. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Jesus. 

He sat...stood...floated? Whatever he was doing, he did it behind me for a while as I took care of customers and thought long and hard about what it is I wanted. Three whole wishes just for me? I could do great things for the world, but that would take away from my rather limited amount of wishes. And as the genie informed me earlier...they are in fact my wishes.

Better world for humanity? That's out.

But what would I be able to do for myself in just three wishes? I'm a successful professional actor! My family is set without financial concern for the rest of their natural lives. My bones are laced with adamantium and won't ever break again. (Thank you Wolverine.) That's three not entirely selfish wishes right there, but there is so much more I could want or do.

Thankfully there were no customers in my line in that next moment because LIGHTNING STRUCK MY BRAIN!!!! Epiphany time.

"My first wish," I whispered to the seated/standing/floating genie, "is to have the power to grant my own wishes as long as I live."

He snapped his fingers and a wisp of his purply mist tapped me on the nose. "As you wish. Its done." A little underwhelming if I do say so myself. I would have thought my daydreams could pack a more spectacular punch than that, but whatever. "What is your next wish?"

Now that I could handle my own wishes (and I wasn't limited to a measly three wishes), I wished the genie freedom and a happy day. 

This got me thinking though...I don't really need a genie to achieve my dreams. In general, my wishes aren't all that extravagant. Except for the unbreakable bones...but for that I can just work on being more careful. You know, look where I'm going and stuff.


I've got everything I need to make my wishes come true right here inside me. I just have to get off of my ever-increasing-in-size lazy ass and get to it. 

My withdrawals can be so inspiring. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

My first big break.

I always imagined my first broken bone would be the tragic but well earned result of something terribly exciting. Isn’t that the dream for any battle scar? You have to have the battle for there to be something deserving of great tales.  Legendary tales, if you will. As a child, I did some pretty break-worthy things. I spent several years sparring with boys (all much larger than myself) in Karate. I recall windy days and being dragged across the lawn by high flying kites attached to the end of my dad’s fishing pole. Climbing and jumping off of higher and higher launching sites just to see how well the umbrella would support me.

My neighbors and I even played this ridiculous (and by that I mean AWESOME) game with a cardboard box: steam roller. All three of us could fit inside this old empty refrigerator box from the garage. After some careful bending and crushing, it became our flimsy hamster wheel of chaos and mayhem. Once inside, we three fearless adventurers would barrel on in whatever direction forward led us until we smacked into something sturdy or we found our way down the hill to the ditch. There was no reverse in steam roller…only forward motion! When we hit a wall, we would turn around inside and once again crawl onward. I can’t even remember how many times we ended up in a heap on top of each other at the bottom of the hill. Even with all of this, steam roller managed to produce an unnoticed bruise or two. But a broken bone? Forget about it.

Friends move away, Karate dojos close down, kites get eaten by far away trees, and you inevitably run out of functioning umbrellas. I can’t even play steam roller any more. And people say being tall is this wonderful thing. Psh! There are so few boxes in my size.

Time went on, like it tends to do. The scenarios changed, but the bones remained unbroken. Four years of marching band and three years fumbling around in the hazardous death zone that was my high school’s backstage area, and not evens a scratch!

Flash forward through my four college years. My legs still ache at the memory of all those muscles pulled in dance classes and theatrical endeavors. Those rough and rowdy games of Humans vs. Zombies gave me a few decent sized scratches. I mean, let’s be serious. Being a zombie is always more fun than being a human, but it’s also a lot more dangerous. Zombies aren’t allowed to care about pain. Nerve endings die with the rest of you.

Enough digression!

Point to be made here? Graduation from college came and went, and I remained intact.

I was really starting to believe that the whole broken bone experience was just not going to happen for me. I would never have the cast to accompany stories of grand adventure ending in a delightful crunch. Destiny, fate, God(s), the universe…they all said ‘NOT FOR YOU, BROGAN!’ This must be what the onset of depression feels like.


What’s this?! At the age of 23, I have at last broken something other than my cell phone: my pinky toe. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. For the next several weeks, I get to sit on stools at work, walk around with my sexy flat footed black boot, and show off my incredibly limited but still nifty collection of canes. You can keep your stinking crutches! I want to make a statement.

“Hold the phone, Brogan. How did it happen?” you seem to say. “Certainly, one who has led such a daring life must have done something so worthy of remembrance that we shall put it down in history books for all future generations.”

I mean come on. I’m an adult now. No more children’s games, no more school day antics…this is time for the serious injuries. Adult injuries. Man injuries. In this moment, I feel compelled to grunt.

Well listen closely, dear readers, and I will tell it all to you.

In the learly hours of twilight, there lurks a beast of great fluff and intimidation. Once he catches on to your scent, you’re pretty much doomed. So I did the only sensible thing I could think of. I ran. For what seemed like hours, my energy was spent dodging objects this way and that, cutting corners and making sharp turns to try and throw him off of my trail. Dehydration set in…fatigue, confusion, blurred vision. In one last ditch effort, I chose a direction and bolted to my fate.


I soccer kicked a table in my living room. Manny, my 4lb Yorky Pomeranian puppy stopped hopping after me and tilted his head at the sound of daddy in pain. He’s very cute when he’s concerned.

At least I didn’t cry. In fact, I didn’t even know it was broken (fractured corrected my doctor…you type tomato, I re-type tomato) until the following morning when I nearly toppled out of bed.

So here I sit about two weeks later, foot propped up and still sporting my super sexy boot. Let me share with you some fun things I’ve learned through this experience:

  1. My tolerance for pain is higher than I thought it was. Hooray for me.
  2. You don’t truly realize how important your little toe is until it’s impossible to use.
  3. Canes are the bee’s knees and get you showered with lots of positive attention. You simply need to be selective with whom you mention the sword hidden inside.
  4. Whittling wood is a good way to get your mind off of being stuck in a chair. It’s very meditative. I have a wand or two in the works.
  5. Unless it is severe enough to require a cast, friends and co-workers will take little issue with hobbling along beside you and granting you endearing nicknames like “gimpy” and “hop along.” And by co-workers, I mean managers.
  6. Work days go by so slowly when you can’t dance.
  7. I was an idiot for ever wanting to break something larger than my toe.

Overall there are some good lessons in there. I have nothing profound to say about human frailty and how such small events as these have the potential to derail our lives. I already knew that, and I’m sure that if you’re honest with yourself, you already knew that too. In the grand scheme of things, we’re pretty tiny and relatively fragile. And that’s all incredibly depressing, isn’t it?

So forget the grand scheme for a minute. Instead, as your Monday Fun Day assignment, I think you should focus on any personal lessons you may have learned through an injury. It’s the lessons with a personal touch that will make bigger differences for you in the end.

As for my experience, I’ve concluded that limited mobility is not my cup of tea. If you know me at all, that’s saying a lot. Tea lover is one of my many titles. I’m a mover and a doer, so the sooner I don’t have to rely on this boot, the better. Consider a broken bone checked off my bucket list.

Much like steam roller, there’s no going backwards now. The only way to go is forward and onward to mending. Perhaps my future adventures can teach me life lessons without any more fractures. After just two weeks, my feet are itching to tap dance again. I would hate very much to keep them waiting.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Fun Day

Hello, hello my dear as of yet nonexistent readership! My name is Brogan. You may, however, call me any of the many variations I have come to adopt over the years. (Brogie, Bro, Brog, Bro-gain, Broseidan King of the name a few) Here I'll be signing off as Brogie McDoogerson.

Today is March 19th, 2012. A Monday.

Monday's always seem to have a certain stigma about them. People dread this day like an oncoming plague. Well no longer, I say! Let's all spice up our lives just a little and try something new whenever a Monday happens to roll around. In case you need further directions, that's roughly every seven days beginning from today until eternity.

My new venture? This blog, of course!

I'm going to come out with it right now. Honesty. This is not my first attempt at a blog. Truth be told, its not my second or third time around this track either. All have been flops after about a month. But I have a plan...let me tell it to you!

The plan: a little structure. Structure goes a long way. My previous blogs were almost pure nonsense. All willy nilly were they. Posts appeared in three day bunches every month or so. Then a gap of two, three, ten months creeps in and BAM! Absolute failure...

I think I always felt overwhelmed by the need to journal every day. Especially when those blogs had no true focus. They really were online journals rather than anything of significance.

So here the structure will not come from what I write about, but rather when I write it. Monday Fun Day!!!

I cannot guarantee it will always be interesting, nor can I promise a particular time of day. But I will write something here every Monday from now until I don't. Let the experiment begin!

Hope you enjoy the journey...I plan to. :)