Instead, this post is about what I do on my daily break at work. I have a generous 45 minute break, which gives employees enough time to go home or drive to a fast food restaurant to get a meal. The problem is that I live 30 minutes from my place of employment, and I consider fast food to be a luxury I can't afford, which is sad, because I think if I ate a little bit more fast food, I might actually gain back some of the six pounds I've already lost since January. Grumble.
But back to the matter at hand: breaks. Every day I get stranded in Richmond for 45 minutes with nothing to do except escape to a quieter place to get a refill of therapeutic resolve and diet cola. It would take about 10 minutes to drive to Meijer or Kroger, so running errands is usually out. I usually eat a complete and tasty meal with a double-portion of dessert at the hospital cafeteria for a mere fifty cents, so eating isn't a priority either. Since we don't have the staff to send two people at once, socializing cannot be accomplished. I have 45 minutes with nothing to do, every day I work.
Luckily for me, Nothing is pretty much what I do even when given a choice.
The usual break starts with a short, three minute drive to Village Pantry, during which the oldies radio station will often play a Billy Joel song. They play Billy Joel quite frequently.
Once I arrive at Village Pantry, I buy myself a refill of diet cola and possibly a snack of some kind, depending on if I brought anything from home. My snack is usually of the Gummi variety: sharks, worms, Sour Brite Nite Crawlers, or Swedish Fish are the usuals. I notice, when I purachase these gummi comestibles, that the Gonzo Candy Company that packages them offer smaller .59 or 2/$1 bags, and larger .99 bags of the same type of candy. The thing is, you get more gummi candy if you buy 2 of the 2/$1 bags than if you buy a .99 bag, and yet the bigger .99 bags are nearly always sold out while 2/$1 bags are in abundance.
I am seriously craving some Swedish Fish about now. Back to my post.
After my purchase and my daily yakking with the friendly VP staff, I meander toward the nifty booths they have set up and pick up a Palladium Item to read on the way. A lot of people around here criticize the Pal-Item, saying its coverage leaves much to be desired, but I find it suits the area. It covers a lot of local events in depth while leaving national news to other media that have more time and space to cover them better. I don't read about these local events, because I do not give a care, but I still respect the idea behind them.
Instead, I flip straight to the comics. I'm pretty lenient on daily comics, as I'm not sure I could come up with something patently hilarious every day if I had to. My general rule is that if a comic is funny a couple times a week, then it's ok. Regrettably, there are more than a few comics that fail to do this for me, so I have to do my own work to make them funny. For instance, Garfield can often be improved immensely if you ignore all of Garfield's thought balloons. It suddenly becomes a dark and disturbing strip about a lonely man obsessed with his cat. I read that online somewhere. I have no clue where. It's been noted in many places that you can improve The Family Circus by writing your own captions. Using tried and true techniques such as this, there are only a few comics that remain unreadable. I have yet to come up with a method for improving Dennis the Menace, and I really don't have the patience to read For Better Or For Worse, which typically is about 100 words too long in very small print spoken by characters who all look exactly alike without a punchline to be seen, so I can't help you there. Old people love it, so I'd ask one of them. The worst part of the Pal-Item comics is that there are no "serious" comic strips. My life would be more complete if I could make fun of Rex Morgan and The Phantom on a daily basis.
I then read my horoscope. Every day it says some variation of "Get off your ass and do something for a change." Every day I ignore it, just to spite those smarmy stars and their "advice." From the horoscope, it's on to Dear Abby, who recently fielded a letter asking if it's rude to tell a husband not to track deer blood all over the house after he goes hunting. Abby says it is, but the matter was up for debate again in a later column.
Finally, I head over to the always frightening Viewpoints section. This is where the editors of the Pal-Item really shine. Rather than simply asking for "Letters to the Editor," which require some form of literacy, they devised a feature they call "Sound Off", where readers simply call the office and rant for a few minutes, at which point the editors deem it fit to print. Hilarity ensues. Here's my personal favorite:
Universal health care is about the end of the world. Read the Bible and read Revelations -- it's coming down to the end. We're letting all these illegal people in here and giving them rights? And they're taking our Social Security and everything else? I've been disabled for a year and fighting disability and can't get it because of the illegal immigrants getting Social Security that don't even belong in this country. And they're complaining? Right now, they need to get them out of here. They don't belong here in the first place. The end of the world is coming, people. Read your Bible. Get ready.
As expected, after the opinion section, I've had my fill of Completely Normal People and return to work a broken and morose man. If I do my job well enough, my clients will become functional, healthy citizens like that gentleman.