Why I hate Driving on the Freeway….

Today, I actually had to work at my studio in Burien and had to drive today. Usually, this time of year I work mostly out of my home office. So on my way back from Burien in the middle of the day, one should expect the freeway traffic to flow easily. In the Seattle area, that is never the case. I made it past the madhouse near the Sea-Tac International Airport. Once on I-405, I get stuck behind a guy in a gold minivan doing 46 mph on the freeway that is clearly marked 60 mph. This is way I hate driving. We have some idiot on the freeway that thinks he is on a nice country drive. It isn’t a nice country drive; it’s January and it is a cool 40 degrees out. I’d like to get on my merry little way home. I don’t need you endangering my life with your slow driving.
Sure, I could whip around this guy in his golden minivan; however, I have to take the next off ramp to get onto the other freeway. It makes no sense to barrel around this guy. Of course, he takes the same exit. I wasn’t in a hurry but I was annoyed. I’m not a freeway Nazi; I just ask that you drive the speed limit. Go at least 5 mph over or at least the speed limit. Is that too much to ask? I’m not asking you to drive at an unsafe speed. The pavement is dry, the sky is a mix of sunshine and clouds, driving conditions are pretty darn good out there…just do the speed limit so the guy behind me isn’t tailgating me.
Thanks for allowing me to offer my own personal piece of Worthless Advice on how to drive on the Freeway!

Everyone loves to drive on the freeway, right?
Everyone loves to drive on the freeway, right?

How Not To Be That Idiot Driver

I’m not much of a commuter so when I do have to drive somewhere, I pride myself on not being an idiot. I know where I am going and what freeways and exits I need to take. I know where the problems will be and when I should merge or exit.

Today, some idiot decided she needed to merge in front of me without bothering to look. She must have known she had three choices: speed up on the on ramp and cut me off, crash into me, or stay at her present speed and gently merge in behind me. As we know from my present tone that she cut me off.

Now, I didn’t blare my horn, tailgate her, or even get that upset. I just shook my head in amazement. Seriously, it was that important to get ahead of me in your Blue Tahoe? Like it made the traffic go that much faster? And don’t bother to look at me as you merge, the rest of us will gladly watch out for your vehicle this morning.

I did catch up to her as I neared my final destination and she was texting on her phone. I honestly could have cut back in front of her, slammed on my brakes, caused an accident, and gotten a new work truck out of it.

But I didn’t.

And I live to write another day without back pain!

Thanks for allowing me to vent and release.

Lost in Dallas

My summer has been a busy one with a schedule full of family vacations and activities.  With the fun of the summer also came a great sadness as one of good college friends died this month.  It wasn’t a fair way for him to die and I have yet to hear all the details.  I don’t understand why the guy hit my friend and caused his death.  I do know that I had to attend the funeral and get some closure.

My friend Darrell had a great deal of friends besides me.  While I know everyone couldn’t make it to the funeral, my wife and I thought I should go.  A last minute flight is expensive but a friend offered a solution flying out of the Portland, Oregon airport into Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas airport.  This cut my airline flight cost by 75%.  We’d split the cost of the car rental and since I would be returning to the northwest a day earlier, I would return the car.

This isn’t my first time flying or returning a car to the rental place.  However, it was my first time returning my car to the discount rental outfit that isn’t based at the airport.  They operate out of a little kiosk in the lobby of some 2 star hotel about five minutes from the other rental car complex.  To return the car, you just need to bring the car back to the same hotel and catch the shuttle to the airport.

I left in plenty of time to get to the airport and return the car.  My flight departed at 11 pm and I stop about 20 miles from the airport around 7:50 pm for a quick bite to eat.  My phone battery was a little low and since I knew I was about to use my GPS on my phone, I plugged it in at the restaurant for a quick boost.

I recharged it a bit, fueled up the car at the local gas station, punched in the address of the car rental company and got back on the freeway.  Traffic was light and I was making great time.  I could see the city of Dallas in the setting sun and again, thought to myself that I’m making great time.  I navigated through the freeway interchanges while the GPS lead the way.

My GPS hasn’t let me down in the past and today it held true to form.  I was on time and headed in the right direction.  The GPS lead me straight to the front door of the rental company’s building….where they house their accounting department.  Uh oh.  Now it is close to 8:50 pm and I don’t have the address of the kiosk where I’m suppose to go.  I can’t remember the name of the hotel where we picked up the car and I have two hours to get to the airport.  Everyone knows you need to be at the airport at least two hours before your flight so you don’t actually miss your flight.

I grab the rental car paperwork and call the rental company.  They give me the local correct address.  According to them, I’m only 15 minutes away.  I have about 10% power left on my phone battery.  Well, I thought I had 10%.  As soon as I entered the address and get the routing map, my phone shuts off.  OK. I just saw just a piece of the map.  I know I need to get back onto one of the half dozen freeways I’m near and drive south a bit.

The area I am currently in is a construction zone and I have to recharge my phone again.  I curse myself for not bringing my car charger and for listening to Pandora (thus sucking my battery dry).  I start to tell myself not to panic.  Be calm.  I still have plenty of time; I’ll get to the airport a little later than I thought.  It’s now closer to 9 pm.  I have no landmarks to base my direction on.  It’s dark and I can’t see the city to get a bearing.

I remind myself, I don’t have any luggage to check in and I’ve printed out my boarding pass already.  I’ll be fine.  This is what I keep telling myself as I sit in construction traffic on a side road.  No, I haven’t made it to the freeway yet.  9:15 pm rolls around as I enter a KFC with my phone and charger.  I scan the fast food restaurant like a junkie looking for his dealer, finally finding the electrical outlet (there is one in the whole place right next to the soda machine) and start charging my phone.  I turn it on, bring up the GPS and mentally take notes of where I’m at and where I need to go.  It is now about 9:23 pm.

Urgh.  Now I’m starting to stress out.  I see a text message from my friend asking if I’m doing OK.  No, I’m not doing OK but I don’t have time to text him back.  I decide I’ll text him when I get to the airport.  I can see the planes taking off and landing.  I know I’m close.

I hop back into the rental car.  Following the GPS, I am lead through more construction zones and into more construction traffic.  I discover that most people are idiots and don’t know how to drive.  It’s now 9:30 pm.

I get onto the right freeway yet they have realigned the freeway and the off/on ramps.  The GPS is going nuts and rerouting me thinking I’m on the freeway….no wait…I’m on the feeder road….no, it thinks I’m on the freeway.  It tells me to go straight, no wait, rerouting…go left and use the on ramp.  There isn’t any left and there is no on ramp.  Now I’m really stressing out.  It’s got to be 9:40 pm.  GPS warns me a toll road is coming up.  What?  There wasn’t a toll road before.  I don’t care at this point as I roll up to the toll booth.  I ask the toll booth worker where Airport Freeway is.  He looks at me and says I’m going the wrong way.  Oh jeez!

Not to worry, he says, take the ticket, use the turn around and head back out to the freeway.  Give the ticket to the other toll booth guy and he’ll make sure I get on the right freeway.  I thank him, cut from the right lane across six lanes to the left side and use the turn around.  I make the turn and reach down for the ticket.  I can’t find it.  What?  I stop the car on the side, get out of the car (making sure to leave the door open so I don’t lock my keys in the car and leave the car running).  I run to the other side and try to open the passenger side.  It’s locked.  I run back around, unlock all the doors, run back to the passenger side and search for the toll booth ticket.  I can’t find it.

I don’t care what it costs, I’m leaving.  I roll up to the exit toll booth.  The guy asks for the ticket and I tell him I don’t have it.  I tell him I don’t care what you have to charge me, I’m lost, but I have got to get to the Airport Freeway.  He signs…punches in some code, tells me to cut across the six lanes and go right (south) on the freeway.  I thank him and gun the engine.  It is now 9:50 pm.  My flight leaves at 11 pm.

My phone dies again.  GPS is killing my phone and my nerves.  Again, I tell myself not to panic.  I devise a plan to bribe the shuttle driver to take me straight to my airline and gate.  I also am driving too fast and looking for anywhere to plug in my phone.  Again, reminding myself to bring my car phone charger on my next trip.  It is now 9:56 pm.

I take the first exit that looks like it as some kind of restaurant or gas station I can get my phone charged at.  I have the air conditioner blasting because it is 95 degrees outside, I’m nervous as hell, and I’m stressed like a crazy man.  I chuckle to myself with the thought that if my wife was in the car she probably would have killed me by now.  Of course, she would have a fully charged phone and would have the right address in the first place.  We also would have been at the airport an hour ago and sitting at our gate.  Next time, I’m bringing her.

I see a Starbucks and it is actually open late.  I run in, plug in my phone but don’t turn it on.  It charges faster when it is off and I run back out to the car to get a paper and pen.  I’m taking notes this time in case the phone dies yet again.  It is 10:01 pm.  I let the phone charge and flip it on.  I scan the GPS map.  I’m 20 minutes away?  For Pete’s sake!  I run back out to the car. And take off.  I’m driving too fast and race around the on ramp (thankfully, I had purchased a 15 lap NASCAR racing car course in June) and avoid spinning out on the ramp.

This time my GPS actually stays on and I make the 20 minute journey in 14 minutes.  I whip in front of the hotel front doors and race inside.  It is now 10:15 pm.  I apologize to the rental guy.  He asks when my flight is.  I tell him 11 pm.  From the expression on his face and the words out of his mouth, I know I’m screwed.  He knows the shuttle isn’t going to get me there in time.  He tells me to get in the car, he’ll take me himself.

He goes on to mention he doesn’t know which gate my airline flies out of.  Luckily, I do.  He looks up my flight.  It’s on time.  We jump in the car and we take off.  He also goes on to mention that he hasn’t heard of anyone making the flight after coming in this late.  I’m praying I’m the exception.

At least he knows which way to go.  I take a mentally note that I would have gone in the wrong direction if I was driving.  Again, thankfully he is driving.  We get to the toll booth and the guy stops us.  The automatic machine can’t read our license plate because the idiot behind us is too close to our bumper.  He has to get out of the booth and walk all the way to the back of the car and manually write down our license number.  The rental guy says this would happen since we are in a hurry.

We finally get our toll booth ticket.  The airport is seconds away.  I still need to get through security and then get to my gate.  My rental car guy is about to go to the wrong section of the airport.  No, gate E33 go to the next section.  He pulls up to the curb.  I slap a nice tip in his hand and leap out of the car.  I haven’t a clue what time it is since my phone has died yet again.

I run up the escalator (almost running over some old lady who sees I’m in a hurry and quickly sidesteps out of my way).  I’m at the main level (I hope) and I’m looking for any clue on which way to go.  Where is my gate?  Where am I?  I see baggage pick up, I see arrivals, where is the entrance?  Finally, I look to my left and see the “TO ALL GATES” sign.  I cut though the crowd and see the line for the TSA check station.  I have my license and ticket in hand.  Still, I have no clue what time it is and where my gate is from here.  There are ten people in line in front of me and half don’t speak English as their first language.  I’m never going to get through this line and I still need to go through the X-Ray and body scanner station.

The line actually moves quickly.  I’m already taking my belt off and my shoes while the TSA worker looks at my driver’s license.  The next station is the X-ray machine and every person in front of me seems to have a huge backpack, a laptop, and a sense of stupidity.  Now hard is it to take off your shoes?  How hard is it to place your bag on the conveyor belt for the x-ray machine?  To the people in front of me, it seems to be really hard.  Really? Who carries that many coins in their pocket?

I grab a bin, throw my stuff in it, and throw it and my backpack on the conveyor belt.  I cut in front of the people trying to figure out the bin rack.  I wait in line for the body scanner (again thinking maybe I should tell people I’m an idiot and really late for my flight maybe they’ll let me go ahead of them).  I make it through the scanner, grab my stuff, slip on my shoes and prepare to run for my flight. I look to the left and see gate E15.  Oh great, my gate is E33. I look to my right to make sure I’m headed in the right direction and it is gate E33.  What?  Gate E33 is next to E15?

The seats in the waiting area aren’t crowded.  There is no clock at the counter nor a sign telling me if the flight is on time, they are boarding or what time it is.  I run up to the counter and ask have you started to board.

No, they haven’t!  I made it.  My phone is dead and won’t turn on either.  I can’t send a text to my wife or to my friend to say I safely made it.  They start boarding and I take my seat.  On the flight home, I reflect about my mistakes.

As I told my friend back in Seattle this story, I comment that I believe my friend Darrell was watching out for me as my guardian angel.  He laughs at me, and says that my friend my friend was probably screwing with me one last time.  Yeah, he probably was but at least he made sure I made my flight.

Dedicated to my good friend Darrell DeSouza!  Thanks for the memories!


My run in with Jim Bibby City of Burien Code Enforcement Officer

City of Burien Employee Jim Bibby – a man who doesn’t do his homework!

“A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it, is committing another mistake.” -Confucius

Earlier this week, I received a letter from the code enforcement officer Jim Bibby of the City of Burien stating that my business doesn’t exist and I need to take my business sign down.

What?  Really?  So my City of Burien business license is worthless?  Why do I bother obtaining one every year?  Why was it issued to me by the City of Burien if my business doesn’t really exist?  Hmmm, do I get a refund then?

Jim Bibby doesn’t like me.  I had a run in with him in 2006 about this same sign.  He wouldn’t listen to me so I went over his head to get some answers and some real customer service.  I think he didn’t like that.  I didn’t cower up and do as he said.  He was clearly wrong then and he is wrong now.

I had another run in with him in 2008 in regards to a “For Rent” sign I had posted for an empty apartment we had.  He stated that I had to have a professional real estate sign posted, not a homemade one.  This is even if we (as owners of the property) wanted to rent it out ourselves instead of having a real estate agency do it.  (Please note: I am a Washington State licensed real estate broker).  We ended up post a sign in the window and it rented fairly quickly despite of Jim Bibby’s and the City of Burien’s actions.  Needless to say, the City of Burien is clearly anti-business and anti-landlord in that respect.  They probably hate cute puppies too.

People like Jim Bibby don’t help the City of Burien; they harm it.  Jim Bibby wants to impose his idea of what my photography business should look like onto me.  Jim Bibby stated in his telephone conversation to me that my photography business doesn’t look like a photography business.  Excuse me?  What?  Jim Bibby has moved from being a code enforcement officer to a photography business expert?  When did that happen?  Did I miss something?

I did ask him in his vast knowledge as a photography business owner that he knows exactly what a photography business looks like, right?  He told me he has never owned a photography business!  The how is he suppose to know what one looks like?  He sold shoes before he had a job as the code enforcement officer (according to the West Seattle Herald).  I told him that you can not pigeon hole all photography businesses into one small minded category.  Some photographers create passports, others photograph weddings, and still others like to strictly do commercial photography work.  Thus, we are not all the same and our businesses are all different.

You can say the same thing about people.  I have been mistaken for a cop a number of times.  I guess I have that “cop” look to me….but I’m not a cop.

What truly upsets me is that Jim Bibby has the gall to tell me what my photography business should look like.  He is a public servant working to enforce the code.  He is not an interior decorator designing a photography business.  If I want to paint the inside of my walls black with pink elephants and put photos of kitty cats in orange dresses, I’ll do it.  If I want to take my equipment home every night, I will.  If I want to work out of my studio some days and take other days off, I will.  For Jim Bibby to tell me that I’m not a photography business is beyond his scope of expertise and his job description.

The thing is, I share space with another business and I’m not over at the studio every day.  That is the nature of my photography business…I don’t have to be there every day.  I meet a lot of clients out on location and not at my Burien studio.  That is the way I run my business and that is the way I like it.  If I want to work from home, I’ll do that.  My photography business is strictly “by appointment only”.  If you don’t have an appointment, I probably won’t be there if you stop by unannounced.

If Jim Bibby did his job correctly and the way the taxpayers pay him to do it, he would have properly researched that I do have a LEGAL business license issued by the City of Burien and I do have a LEGAL business license from the State of Washington.  I have had these for years.  I pay my taxes.  I collect sales tax in the area my business is based in and forward it to the State of Washington as I am required to do.  I’m not trying to make waves here, I’m trying to run my business ethically and support my family financially.

Instead, Jim Bibby wastes my time and the taxpayer’s time and money by sending me a certified letter stating that I need to remove my LEGAL sign.  Yes, it is legal according to the laws and codes of the City of Burien!

In my conversation with Jim Bibby today, I asked him point blank: Do I have a business license in Burien?  The answer is yes.  Does that make my sign legal?  His answer: Yes.

Well, I guess you have your answer don’t you?  I informed this fact to code enforcement officer Jim Bibby.  I don’t think he was too happy with me.  I don’t think Jim likes it when someone points out he is wrong.

I also told him that he was harassing me and I didn’t like it.  He can’t tell me what my business is supposed to look like.  I’m not operating a pet store and claiming it is a photography studio.  I operate a photography business and I take my photography equipment with me on location.  If I want my business to be empty, it can be. My equipment doesn’t have to be all set up in the studio if I don’t want it to be.  In fact, the other business I share space with just painted and installed new floors.  The place looks awesome!  My equipment couldn’t stay set up during a remodel anyway. 

So Jim Bibby, Code Enforcement Officer of the City of Burien, please do your homework before you harass me again.  Otherwise, I will file a restraining order against you and have you arrested by the City of Burien Police Department for harassment.

I’m a fucking idiot and so are you!

I enjoy those demotivational posters a little too much. It is because I’m a sarcastic bastard and I enjoy embracing those feelings. I am in tune with the negative and downer attitudes. The truth is that I am a positive person; I truly believe in all that feel good positive thinking crap! I love it. Yet, I enjoy the smart ass humor of the demotivational posters. They are so me…and at the same time like everyone else (see the “unique” poster). Check out despair.com