Thursday, March 20, 2008

Holla Black Guy

I really like to sing. But of course, singing in public could be misconstrued as insanity. I try to limit the amount of singing I do alone in my apartment too, for fear that someone might hear me and think I'm crazy in the coconut. But when I'm walking home especially late at night when I feel no one is around to hear me, I sing like a madman, to the top of my lungs with songs playing on my Ipod. Now, inevitably, when I'm singing like some kind of lunatic someone will appear out of nowhere and give me a funny look. At this point I'm convinced that some people in the neighourhood have even chosen to walk on the opposite side of the road, giving me a wide berth while I embarass myself.

I used to be more reserved about it, but now... It's become a new way to be intimidating. I sing, and people flee. That makes me top dog in Cote St-Luc... Somehow. I've also put it into my head that no one would mug a Black guy walking down the street singing. It would be so awkward.

Me: "Few times I been around that track, but it's not just gonna happen like that cuz I ain't no holla back girl! I ain't no holla back girl!"
Mugger: "Give me all your money!"
Me (reaching for my wallet): "... I ain't no.... Holla..."
Mugger: "Shut up!!!"
Me: "... back..."
Mugger: "...."
Me: "... girl..." :-(
Mugger: "What the #$%^&* are you singing?"
Me: "Gwen Stefani... I don't usually... It was just.. on my Ipod, I got caught up in the moment... I didn't think anyone was listenning."
Mugger: "What kind of black guy are you?"
Me: "My taste in music is eclectic. Or you might say... Ecleftic... Get it? Like that old Wyclef Album. You know he did that song with Witney Houston.""

Then I imagine the mugger would just look at me and walk away kind of bewildered and annoyed.

Anyway, I find a good song is great way to start off your day. The theme song to this old TV show, A Man Called Hawk, gets me into a good rythm to face a day of... rythmlessness as I stare into a microscope counting microscopic cells. As I walk to the bus, I sing that and it puts an extra spring in my step and my countenance becomes 26% more badass, which would bring me up to 126% badassness by the time I actually get to work.

In fact I'm quite obsessed with this song and I spend a lot of time just whistling it. So I was whistling at the bus stop, sitting down inside the shelter on the bench. I really didn't want to stop whistling even when I noticed some dude approaching the bus shelter. I really didn't want to stop grooving. I had it playing on my Ipod, I was bobbing my head and everything. I had told myself, even if he walked into the bus shelter, I would just keep whistling and bobbing my head. Surely he would be too uncomfortable to stick around for too long.

But this guy, came into the bus shelter and while I was still whistling he sat down right next to me! My whistling slowed down and I kind of looked at the guy sideways. I really didn't know who was wierder, me for whistling that 1 minute song over and over again, or him for sitting down next to someone who was emphatically whistling a theme song from an obscure 80's tv show. I kind of feel it's only polite to give someone space while they sing/whistle.

Anyway, it became far too awkward to continue whistling. I was so jaded I think I even turned off my ipod. Badassness was reduced to 0%. Way to ruin a moment random stranger. Next time I'll sing a song with some good cussing in it. That will keep people at least 3 meters away from me I figure.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Save the rod

I know I make this point a lot, but it's good to beat children. I was on the metro today when some kid was apparently swearing at his mother. The mother was furious, but sadly she was also white. The punishment for her child was reflected in her whiteness, "When we get home, you will spend five minutes in your room!"

That's a punishment? It brings me back to the days of my childhood. Swift punishment in the form of spankings set me straight early on and I was for the most part well behaved. But my youngest sister. Oh man, did she used to get some harsh spankings. I'll tell you the sign of a true disciplinarian. When you're willing to spank your kids in public, that's going the extra mile. And my dad didn't care where we were. My youngest sister used to really act up when she went out and my dad would give her a good spanking, mall or no mall. My mom would make the mistake of waiting until she got home after saturday shopping to give my little sister a good spanking. My middle sister and I would see the car pull up in front of the house, Mom furiously dragging my youngest sister up to the house. We all knew punishment was imminent. And if ever you've been around kids, you know that they enjoy watching their siblings get punished. I've seen little babies marvel at their brothers getting yelled at. It's quite a spectacle.

My dad would shake his head in dissapointment. "Why does you mom wait until she gets home?" You see, when the punishment is delayed it creates an opportunity. Now the offending child can decide whether or not it is worth a day of misbehaviour in exchange for an eventual spanking at the end of the day. Usually the answer is yes, it is worth misbehaving for the day to get a spanking later on, if misbehaving is your bag. Why? Because the punishment in spanking is the shock of it, the humiliation of it. If you know the spanking is coming, it's not much of a punishment at all. Certainly a spanking is not painful. Certainly it is not as embarassing at home as it would be in public. I mean, at home, everyone's seen and enjoyed your spankings already. It's like... a rerun. A spanking is defanged without the element of surprise.

I remember my cousin telling me with a twinkle in her eye, about how she saw a black child misbehaving in public swore at his mother. That child's punishment was swift and severe. You've never seen an ass-whoopin' like this... Upside his head... Upside his nose... It was terrible I tell you... TERRIBLE!!! But, I'm relatively certain that he strongly reconsidered swearing at his mother again.

So when I see cheesiness like a mother telling her kid, "You will eventually have to spend 5 minutes in your room." I scoff. Ridiculous. Whup that kid butt for both of your sakes. Now I've had some pretty interesting conversations with people on the subject. I hate to bring race into it but, generally speaking, non-white people agree in beatings, and white people are against it. I know chinese people get some interesting beatings with bamboo sticks and fishing rods. My dad used to use the flip flops he'd wear around the house to spank us with. Relatively painless, but effective. Belts are also classic.

I've spoken to one white woman who was passionately against beating kids. Her argument was something to the effect that beating kids screwed them up somehow and spanking kids is a relic from old-fashionned religious beliefs. The passage in the Bible goes something like, "Save the rod and spoil the child." Amen. You'll notice such people are usually suckers for barely coherent articles that say things like, "Most of the children who were spanked as kids grew up to be violent, therefore spanking produces violence."

A note about studies like this. People who write such articles are usually idiots. Why? They can't interpret data. I mean, if one kid was spanked more than another, it probably means that he was always badly behaved, not that the spanking produced bad behaviour. It wouldn't be such a big deal, except if you look at society today we can see the effects of such negligent data aquisition. "So, don't spank your kids when they misbehave, give them groovy drugs such as ritalin!"

Now that I'm about to defend my PhD, I feel I have the authority to give the diagnosis for bad behaviour; Light your child's behind on fire! Give him a beating he'll remember and he'll thank you for it when he's older. Some people say the best punishment is the one that you never have to give. I say, the best punishment is the one you only have to give ONCE! That's how dad did it... That's how ethnic people do it. And it's worked pretty well so far.

Monday, March 03, 2008


I've been coughing for months. Around the winter months I do get a persistent cough which has been diagnosed as bronchitis one year, allergies another year. The point is, aside from being very annoying, it doesn't seem to be lethal and normally goes away on its own. It is this belief that saved me hours of waiting in the doctors office for them to tell me, "Oh, you have a cough caused by some ill-defined biological event. Let's call it... Greggitis and just give you some anti-biotics."

Every year people will comment on the cough, often encouraging me to see a doctor instead of blasting out atomized mucus infected with all kinds of microbes from my throat. Normally I refuse the suggestion, but this year I got a few other symptoms to go with the cough.

I first went to the CLSC. I waited for over an hour, and finally was told there were no doctors available. I did get to see a nurse though. The nurse told me I had a cough and I could see a doctor if it didn't get better. Thanks! That assessment was well worth the wait.

A month later, this passed Friday, I went to the Concordia Health center at the downtown campus. They have a walk-in clinic. I go downtown, take a number, see a receptionist and I'm told there's an hour wait. I finally see the doctor and hour and a half later and he basically guesses what's wrong with me. "Well, it's not bronchitis. USUALLY a cough like that might be caused by streptococcus. Normally I would take a mucus sample but it's Friday so... I'll just prescribe some anti-biotics." It's Friday?!? Have I been in the waiting room that long? Even so, whatever disease I have doesn't really care if it's Friday or not. What if you guess wrong doc?

Honestly, it's better than a kick in the pants at this point. I took the prescription and went to the pharmacy. I love the old myth that pharmacists can read a doctor's cryptic handwriting. Why do I say myth? Because I went there, showed them the prescription and the pharmacist there concluded that the doctor hadn't even signed the paper! I looked at it and said, "Isn't this slightly curved line his signature?" The woman said, "No, that's not a signature. Did you go to the Concordia Health Center? Who was the doctor you saw?" I couldn't remember his name. Well, remember would imply that he had given me his name, which he hadn't. This then resulted in an awkward situation of me describing the doctor who I went to see. "He was asian... either chinese or vietnamese...."

Clearly it was Friday and they weren't going to argue the point. So they made me a file and after about 10 minutes told me they didn't have the anti-biotic that was prescribed. Makes sense. Why would a pharmacy have antibiotics? I'd have to go somewhere else. But I'd make sure I got the doctor to make his signature more obvious. So I went back to the clinic. I didn't bother taking a number and just went directly to one of the receptionists. "Yeah, they said the doctor didn't sign this."

The receptionist was in a bad mood because apparently the clinic is busy on Fridays. I just look at her sitting there with a scowl. Poor lady. Life is so unfair, isn't it? There are sick people coming in and you have to do precisely what you were paid to do. So naturally she started to crab at me. "You'll have to take a number, sir."

As if I hadn't waited long enough in the waiting room to see the doctor in the first place, gone from there to the pharmacy and back just to get his signature. "No.... There will be no number taking. I've spent the better part of the day trying to get some antibiotics All I need is for the doctor to sign this paper that he should have signed in the first place and I'll be on my way."

She looks at the paper. "He did sign this!" I smiled, finally some progress, "That's what I said! Perhaps we can go to the pharmacy together and discuss with a pharmacist whether or not the doctor has in fact signed this paper."

She was getting very agitated, "I'm sorry Sir, it's Friday, and I'm stressed, and there's people here and you'll have to take a number."

"You want a number? Here's a number. 5... As in 5 seconds before I tear this motha f*#$@# down!!!" Yup, it was time for some angry Black man stuff, on the last day of Black History Month no less! How appropriate. I was about to get ethnic when a women who seemed a lot busier than the cranky receptionist accomadated me (politely, who would have figured?) and got the doctor to put a little stamp on the prescription with a legible version of his name. It took about 10 seconds. The cranky receptionist got that look on her face where you could tell she resented having the wind taken out of her sails. Like the woman who helped me went over her head or something. She looked like, "When that b**ch gives people excellent service, it makes me look bad."

So I go to a pharmacy, they make me a file. Two of them start arguing over what a particular doctor's name is on a prescription, I'm not kidding. Then more waiting. A pharmacist approaches me, "Mr. Gregg?" She's holding a huge bottle. "So, you should take these antibiotics twice a day for 3 months."

I raised an eyebrow, "3 months? That's... strange."
Her: "Yes. And the prescription is renewable 3 times."
Me: "And what exactly did the doctor say I have? That zombie virus from Resident Evil?"

The woman finally decided to stop and think for a moment. I could see the gears turning in her head. "Now let me think. Have I ever prescribed so many antibiotics before? What will happen if someone takes antibiotics for 1/4 of a year? Think back to pharmaceutical school. Ah yes... One day marijuana will be legal. It makes the pain go away. My hands are huge."

Lady! Focus! Snapping out of her drug induced reverie, the woman finally realized she had misread something and gave me the correct amount of pills to be taken for 1 week and not the previously prescribed 12 weeks. Her excuse, "Yes, his handwriting is difficult to read."

And it was Friday. Well thank goodness your incompetence only extends to dealing over the counter drugs, many of them potential hazardous to a human being's health. I hope I never have to have surgery on Friday. What if I hadn't said anything? And then people wonder why I don't like seeing doctors. The hours that I spent just to get some anti-biotics, talking to dozens of people who really, really don't care. They're just going through the motions of getting people in and out of their lives as fast as possible. Is that a consequence of free health care? I dare not speculate.

You know, I'm one of the few people who enjoys going to the dentist. Man, I went to the dentist the other day, I was in and out in less than 30 minutes. Dentists are usually funny, and they get the job done! My teeth were sparkling like a rapper's bling after he was done. And he was super excited about the thing he used to clean my teeth. "This is like a sandblaster. It contains a saline solution with baking soda. It's really efficient and reaches plases the other rubber polishers can't. It makes other polishing techniques look like a joke!" He kind of looked like William Stryker from X-men 2. He was funny and enthusiastic... A truly excellent service.

Contrast that with medical doctors? "You have a cough? Whatever... Antibiotics might help. If not I don't know what the f**k you have anyway. Maybe you have a cough.... If antibiotics fail... Meh..." Lazily scrapes a pen across a piece of paper.

Me:"Excuse me doctor are you sure you've signed this?"
Doctor: "I may have signed it. I'm a doctor not a calligraphist. Now please leave. It's midterm time and there's a bunch of students in the waiting room who want to defer exams and they can't do it without my pseudo-signature on a piece of paper."

Oh well, at least I seem to be getting better... I mean, I'm still coughing but... The doctor really gave it his best guess. I'm sure everything will be okay. I exagerate to vent my frustration, but the doctor was a nice guy and whatever... I can only imagine after a day of seeing students with minor to non-existant symptoms you must get pretty jaded. I know doctors work hard in many cases and it's probably a thankless job just like most jobs. I'd also like to point out that I dealt with 4 receptionists that day and 3 of them were really nice. I just never feel justified going to doctors. It's almost like I'm bothering them or something. Like they want some more challenging diseases to diagnose. "A cough? You're a Pussy... I'm not even going to diagnose this, there are people with real problems. Let me fill out a prescription. How many 'S's in placebo?"