Tuesday, February 1, 2011

No Stranger to Philly Attitude!

I caught the train after work this evening like I do every day. Upon arriving at my train stop, which is about a mile from my house, I noticed the bus that I usually take home pulling away from the stop just as I was descending the train station stairs to the street. Missed it by a hair! For some reason, I really didn't feel like waiting at my regular bus stop for another ten minutes so I began the walk home and figured I'd just jump on the next bus that caught up with me.

After walking for only a few minutes, I turned and saw the next bus about a block behind me. Much earlier than I expected! And I just happened to be standing by a bus stop. Could this situation BE any better? I waited for about twenty or so seconds until the bus pulled up to my stop........and suddenly began to pull away! I flailed my arms and made some kind of verbal exclamation before the bus soon came to a halt. As I entered, the driver yelled "You're standin' there like you don't WANT the bus!!!" I was flabbergasted. You know that scene in Anchorman when Ron Burgundy says "I'm not even mad; that's impressive!" to his dog Baxter, who had just eaten a whole wheel of cheese and pooped in the refrigerator? That's kind of how I felt. Here was a professional SEPTA bus driver, lashing out at me because, according to her logic, I was standing at the bus stop because I didn't want to get on the bus. I could barely even be angry at such an asinine statement.

This same driver had actually blown by me in similar fashion at a bus stop this past summer and angrily claimed that "You weren't looking!!!" even though I was stepping off the curb toward the bus with my SEPTA transpass in hand. Given tonight's recurrence of events, I'm ashamed to say that in the moment, my pride got the best of me and I said some pretty rude things back to her regarding her ability to function in her current occupation. She, naturally, shot some venomous hot air right back at me. Needless to say, this made a scene amongst the other passengers, who didn't really know how to react. I sat down in the middle of the bus and didn't say another word. The driver, however, kept on saying things just loud enough that I could hear, but not loud enough that she would seem like she was trying to create another verbal war.

At that moment, I instantly felt nothing but sadness for this woman. I wondered what was going on in her life that she felt the need to start fights with passengers; I wondered where all the anger was stemming from; I wondered how I could pray for her. At that moment, I felt tremendously convicted in my heart about the way I'd talked to her and for the scene I'd made in front of the other passengers. While I get angry like everyone else, I'm not really a confrontational person and I'm certainly not someone who blows up at people in public. My behavior was inexcusable, regardless of whether or not the driver had been doing her job poorly or unprofessionally.

As my stop approached, I thought about hopping out the back door. But that just wouldn't justify the way I'd acted. I made my way to the front of the bus and said "Have a good night. I apologize for yelling at you." She softly muttered something that I couldn't quite make out, but I'm pretty sure it was an acceptance of my apology. As I walked up to my house, I prayed that the Lord would enable this woman to overcome whatever it is that's causing so much bitterness and anger to manifest itself toward total strangers.

I believe that broken people can be healed; that relationships can be restored; and that all wrongs will ultimately be made right. During that time, those of us who follow Christ, like myself, ought to be willing to be used toward this process, not against it. Tonight, I confess that my foolish actions worked against it. While I'm grateful that I got the chance to apologize, I am hoping for another opportunity to show kindness to this woman who, like me, suffers from occasional bouts of Philly attitude.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Remembering My Couch

There comes a time in every man's life when he needs to give up and surrender the very things he holds dear to his heart; the things that are present with him when he experiences some of life's more exuberant moments; the things that have been there for him, comforting him through the good times and the bad.

This past week, I said goodbye to my couch.

It was truly my couch since, at the time, it was the only couch I had ever paid for myself, and it was the first couch Tara and I got right after getting married in 2006. At the time, we literally asked around to find out if anyone was giving away a couch. We weren't being picky; we just needed something to sit on in our living room. Through a friend of a friend, a mere twenty dollars was exchanged before this couch became a valued part of the household.

But times have changed and at the dawn of 2011, the wife was no longer satisfied with it. Truth be told, neither was I. I cannot help, however, but fondly recall all the great Phillies games I watched while sitting atop its leathery goodness, how many naps I took upon its soft belly, how many movies were enjoyed while enveloped in its gentle comfort, how many nights of talking with friends were induced by its inviting presence, how many times....well, anyway....

A new sofa bed has officially taken its place, and so far, after a nap and a movie night, the relationship is going quite well. But time will tell whether or not it can fill its predecessor's big shoes. I mean cushions.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Million Dollar Question

A common question people are asking me more and more these days is this:

"Do you like American Idol now that Steven Tyler is a judge on the show?"

If you know me at all, you know I'm quite infatuated with Aerosmith; have been since the age of 13 when I first heard "Cryin'" on the radio. At that time, back in 1993, there was no internet, no iTunes, no YouTube. All I knew is that I couldn't get enough of that song, but didn't know what it was called. Today, you just Google the few lyrics you do know and you'll find your answer in one click. Back then, you had to do some digging. I asked my friends and they would start singing the chorus, but then admitted to not knowing the song's title either. I went to a music shop and awkwardly asked the guy at the counter if I could buy the album that had the song "Sweet Misery" on it (which is what I simply assumed the song was called). The guy had no clue what I was talking about and rather than embarass myself any further by trying to tunefully recreate it for him, I just left. My luck changed when I just happened to be watching SNL one night and Aerosmith just happened to be the musical guest. When the band launched into "Cryin'," I almost fell out of my bed! The next day, I went to the music shop, bought Aerosmith's new album, "Get a Grip" and got hooked on every song. Shortly thereafter, I fell in love with the band's entire catalogue and have been a student of this legendary group ever since. You see, I love hard rock and I love blues. I love fast, up-tempo screechers and I love slow ballads. I love loud, thrashing guitars and I love soft acoustic tunes. In my opinion, no band covers this entire spectrum of sound bliss quite like Aerosmith. Not nobody! Not no how!

It goes without saying then, that I consider Steven Tyler to be the greatest songwriter and performer of all time; a master of perfect pitch, harmony, and rhythm. As a musician myself, there are a lot of artists whom I pattern my own songwriting after, however, my attempts to emulate my own work to Aerosmith's have always fallen flat, as I could never dare to accomplish such genius.

So, getting back to the original question: Do I like the TV show American Idol now that Steven Tyler is one of the new judges?

Um...nope.

I know this comes as a shock to most people who think I blindly love anything and everything to do with Aerosmith, but them's the facts. I think American Idol is lame and is driving today's music industry -- already in a state of continuous degeneration -- even further down the spiral. The fact that Tyler alienated his bandmates and a large part of his fanbase by contributing to this problem instead of getting back to making great Aerosmith music just makes me think less of the man himself. And that certainly doesn't make me want to start watching American Idol all of a sudden. Here's another shocking anti-Aerosmith revelation for you: I really really dislike the song "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." I went along with it when it was all the rage during the summer of '98, but it got old fast and now, more than a dozen years later, the band continues to play it live for all the fourteen year olds who think Aerosmith got its start from the film Armageddon. I don't care if the song is the band's big #1 hit...it's crap (and they didn't even write it!). Ok, just had to get that off my chest.

So there it is. While I hold Tyler in the highest regard as a musician, and admire how he overcame drug and alcohol addiction, watching him sit at a table and critique a bunch of wannabes sounds only slightly more appealing than removing an ingrown toenail.


Dude (Looks Like He's Not Getting Any Younger)