Monday, November 12, 2007

People You Meet on Transit #1

I know blogs are supposed to be about personal experiences and what not. I've tried to shy away from that, mostly because my personal experiences are as incredibly boring as you can imagine. I mean, it's life. We aren't zooming through the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. Life is life, you know, work, kids, family, COMMUTING. So, in a probably ill-fated attempt to find things to write about (see my attempts at book reviews, or thoughts of the day, or even random wikipedia entries), I present to you, People Who Take Transit.

One group that can always fill my quota for the word 'fuck' in a casual sentence are the construction workers.
"So, fuck man, I was, fucking, like, doing that fucking job, right? And fucking, fuck, like, I dunno, that fucking guy just wasn't listening."
"No fucking way. That's fucked."
"You still having that fucking thing. That thing you were fucking talking about?"
"Fuck yeah."
"Alright, alright, I'll give you call later."
"Fucking eh."

It's awesome. I'm not sure what the purpose of the word 'fuck' is in those sentences. They are kinda like filler. Like so many proust quotes at a New York socialites cocktail party, it's just fluff to fill out the speech.

I'm not sure what it is about construction workers or blue collar workers in general, but I usually feel the need to be involved in some manly activity, or to, in some way, justify my manliness in the face of such raw testosterone filled men. I mean, they run big engines, or 'rigs', their toolbox and its contents costs more than my new quad core box, they have union reps, they talk non-ironically about bowling leagues (probably not the last point, that's just their lives being filtered through my understanding of Fred Flinstone).

It's probably just me, being a white collar weanie, in my khakis and sweaters. And I'm certain that the feelings aren't reciprocated. I'm certain that the forklift operator I sat next to yesterday isn't suddenly thinking if he has read up on the latest differences between Plasma, LCDs, and DLP, or hoping that the nerdily guy next to him doesn't ask him if the latest ASUS chipsets are out.

There, is, if you will, a hierarchy of Things A Guy Should Be. Dirty, knowledgeable about anything that runs on gas, a passing fancy for military weaponry (you should, for instance, know the difference between an AK-47 and an M-16 and know that the most over used handgun in action films today is the Desert Eagle), and a sundry other things that I can't publicly discuss lest I be found out by the Guy Brotherhood and beaten with rusty carbuerators (I should probably know what those are). In this hierarchy, geeky things just dont' apply. Things I like to know about, are way down on the list. That is, if you take a broad cross-section of guys.

What am I getting at? I'm not sure. Maybe it's that the construction guys on transit make me seriously consider picking up the latest issue of Lowrider and have a quick browse through Wikipedia to figure out where a winch goes and how it works. Maybe this is just so much conversational 'fuck', if you will, in the great big blather that is the blogosphere.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Random Wikipedia Article : Jiffs

Oh, you just KNOW you are running out of blog post ideas when you decide to write about a random wikipedia article. This week's article will be about Jiffs.

This is apparently a perjorative term used by the British Intelligence toward the Indian National Army. I'm not sure why sides in a battle always decide to think of slang terms to 'put down' the enemy. It's not like the other side cares. It doesn't affect their ability or willingness to kill you with whatever weapon that their government has trained them in. It's a little like throwing marshmallows at the State Puff Marshmallow Man. I mean, it's kinda, oddly ironic and everything, but the Marshmallow Man doesn't really care.

And isn't there that whole spiel about sticks and stones? I mean, it's one thing to use names and words that have been taboo in your community and society for generations. I can understand (even if it is still, on an intellectual level, absurd) how one might get riled up about that. But someone who's job it is to kill you, calling you a name they had just made up? It kinda takes away the sting.

Some might point out that it's a way of dehumanizing the enemy. Of putting a false face on the other teenagers who are about to riddle your body with inconvenient holes unless you do the same thing to them first. I mean, you certainly wouldn't want to start calling them by their real names. "Oh yeah, I sure shot Hector up good there. Good and dead. And Johnny too, plugged him before he did that military objective thing that his high command -- that has never met him -- just ordered him to do." Yeah, I can see how that might be a bit creepifying.

That just might be an interesting defensive strategy. Give all your soldiers clearly defined named tags with a few factoids. So when they die, the enemy has to read out their name, and perhaps the fact that Mark here really liked the Rolling Stones but nothing from the Steel Wheels tour.

Man, that would sow all sorts of conscience within an army.