There was a time in my life when I was really terrible to people in service industries. I attribute this mostly to being about 20 years old and full of ego.
For instance, it would be nothing to me to be a complete dick to a server who brought me a dish that was only slightly wrong.
As a ride supervisor at a Six Flags park, I certainly faced my share of people doing that to me. I was able to easily blow it off. Perhaps that’s why I would continue to be dick-like to anyone whose sole purpose was to bring me food or tend to my needs somehow.
Sometime around 2000, though, I completely changed my approach. When things went wrong, I started by assuming that it wasn’t intentional. There’s a difference between someone intentionally putting a hair in your food and receiving a cold meal because the server made a mistake. One deserves yelling, and the other deserves understanding that people in service industries are human, too.
Ever since the start of the century, I’ve gone out of my way to build relationships with people everywhere I go. The idea is to kill them with kindness, and it totally works!
Recently, I walked into a Chipotle that I visit about once a week. The manager saw me and comped my meal. When I go to Moe’s (I have a weakness for burritos), the first guy in the food prep line sees me and begins preparing my burrito. He doesn’t ask me what I want. He just does it. Then he takes my burrito and delivers it to the cashier. The net result? I don’t wait in line for 20 minutes when it’s the middle of a lunch rush.
These kinds of things only happen because I’ve spent time building these relationships and always treating the people I encounter with respect. I’m a firm believer in this — now more than ever.
How much better would our world be if we actually treated each other with kindness instead of vitriol?
Yeah, I know what you’re saying. I haven’t written anything in more than a year. That’s not entirely accurate, I suppose. I have been writing, but I just haven’t been writing here.
From April 2012 until the end of November, I was writing fairly regularly on a website called “The Hub Now.” It’s run by a friend out of New York, and it was a great way to keep my writing chops up. I would cover stuff like recaps of “Celebrity Apprentice” and NBC’s “Revolution” along with the occasional one-off story about something happening in pop culture… all written under a pen name.
Somewhere along the way, though, my motivation to continue just waned. It could’ve been the holidays, or it could have been the fact that everybody pretty much stopped writing on the site in the first week of December.
The truth is I’ve been sort of lost for the last year or so. I had pretty much lost my motivation to do just about everything I loved. I don’t like to say it was a full-bore depression, but there’s hardly any other way to describe it.
There were lots of things that captured the youth imagination in the ’80s. There were loud fashions, Swatches, music videos and the Brat Pack. For me, though, professional wrestling ranked high on my list of interests.
In the middle of the decade, there was no greater wrestling organization than the WWF. Back then, the World Wrestling Federation – now WWE –had not been fighting with pandas over their name. I think I was in sixth grade when it first caught my eye. There had been this thing called Wrestlemania, and after the success of the first couple of years, it really started picking up steam.
In my neck of the woods, the weekly show was syndicated on one of my local stations. There were dudes dressed up in tights with names like Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy, the Iron Shiek, and Hulk Hogan. They always seemed to be angry with one another, and after all the posturing in Mean Gene Okerlund interviews, they would come out to the ring in front of a capacity crowd and beat the crap out of each other.
I was 12, and I had no idea that wrestling was more theatrics than sport. It gradually dawned on me that these guys couldn’t really tour around and hate each other constantly. I mean, if you hate the people you work with, and you’re constantly getting into fights, would you stay with that job? Also, some of the moves seemed like they were designed to distribute the force across the body so as to not actually hurt the other person. I mean, stomping the foot when they hit a dude, landing on the upper back when getting knocked down, choking a dude on the ropes when the rips are under the armpits… it’s clearly fake, right?
What did I know? I was 12. All I knew was that there was a dude named Hulk Hogan who told me to say my prayers and take my vitamins, and I would be able to defeat any challenge that came my way. That was easier said than done for a kid with a giant head and tiny body. I still have a giant head, but my body seems to have caught up.
Regardless, like many wrestling fans my age, I completely idolized Hulk Hogan. He was uber-patriotic. He would carry the flag into the ring. He would fight people who picked on the little guy, and he was like the modern-day Superman without all that flying stuff.
I remember watching these shows and getting so excited if they mentioned Hulk Hogan would appear. The best entrances, though, were the ones where you never expected him to appear. Like this one… (cue it to :45-ish)
When the music starts (“Real American” by Rick Derringer, btw) in the clip, I still get that same feeling I had 25 years ago watching Hulk Hogan come in and beat down some moron.
I don’t remember when I stopped watching wrestling. As I got older, it just wasn’t as important to me anymore. Certainly as the ’90s wore on, wrestling got more and more into story lines and less about wrestling. In fact, I challenge you to watch a WWE show today and find any wrestling within the first 20 minutes. It can’t be done.
I still remember what the Hulkster taught me, though. He always said that if I applied myself, I could accomplish anything in the world. That’s what Hulkamania was all about… not letting people tell you that you can’t do something… and showing people what hard work and determination can accomplish.
As my kiddo grows up, I try to instill that kind of positive thinking in him. I want him to succeed so bad. I want him to succeed in ways I never did. If a problem ever approaches him in life, I want him to have the confidence to jump from the top rope and knock it on its ass.
While everybody else was breathing a sigh of relief that the world didn’t implode when all our clocks hit midnight at the end of 1999, I spent a better part of the year 2000 playing a new video game called “Diablo II.”
I was single at the time, and when I wasn’t busy working or going out on first dates that never turned into seconds, I would sit at home playing this fantasy role-playing game on my Mac.
Back then, there were very few game makers that supported the Mac. Blizzard was a little late to the game, but during early development of “Diablo II,” they figured out an easy way to write the code for the game for a PC and then quickly port it over to a Mac. This allowed for them to release patches for both platforms at exactly the same time, and each platform worked exactly the same (with the same bugs, too).
Again, I had never seen a developer really care much about the Mac users. Back then the marketshare for Macs was pretty small. Once the iPod came on the market, though, users started to see how Macs could be useful in their lives, and marketshare has since improved dramatically. Now, virtually all big name PC game designers port their games over to the Mac. There are few exceptions.
You could safely say that back then, I worshipped the devil – that is, I loved “Diablo II.” Now, 12 years after the release of D2, I’m about to get devil fever again. Blizzard announced that “Diablo III” will be released on May 15. It’s supposed to be the most impressive game ever made, and given what I’ve seen at the Diablo III website, I don’t doubt it.
Here’s the opening cinematic, which features an old character… Deckard Cain.
In late January 1998, one of my friends sent an email inviting me to an Oasis show at the Verizon Theatre in Houston. Nowadays, it’s called the “Verizon Wireless Theatre” so as to keep up with advances in technology.
January 27, 1998 3:08:15 PM CST*
Hey Buddy ol’ pal
I have a couple of tickets to see Oasis in concert this coming Sunday, and I might not have anyone to go with. [My girlfriend] might not be able to make it into town this weekend, so I thought I would run it by you. I won’t find out until Thurs. if she can go or not.
I was rocking the pager back then, so he paged me to confirm that his girlfriend – now wife – was definitely not going to be using her ticket, and I was golden for the Feb. 1 show.
If you remember Oasis, they were the “it” group of the late ’90s. They were routinely called the “modern day Beatles,” and their sound and popularity seemed to support that.
Now, I haven’t been to the Verizon Theatre since 1998, but back then it was a fairly small venue. It was general admission for this show, and most folks preferred to rub up against one another on the floor. I, on the other hand, found some decent seats on the second level. These seats appealed to my sense of not wanting to get fondled by a bunch of random people while getting beer spilled on me. After all, I was unaware that I should have a change of clothes available when drunk people get more of their beer on others than in their mouths. Despite all of these obstacles to enjoyment, the show was terrific.