Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Monday, November 14, 2005


The Sales Pitch

I had an encounter this afternoon with what I'm fairly certain is the most incompetent advertiser in the known universe. I've expressed before my incredulity at the fact that there are people who think that they will effectively market to us by annoying the living shit out of us, but today I saw this mindset taken to a truly jaw-dropping extreme.

I need to preface this with a brief explanation of parking in New York. If you're lucky enough to live in a neighborhood--as I do--that usually has on-street parking nearby to your dwelling, you cannot just park your car and forget it. The city government is apparently extremely paranoid about people leaving their broken-down junkers sitting at the curb as they rust away for years at a stretch. To this end, New York employs an armada of street sweepers, huge, obnoxious machines that come by four times a week and move dust and junk around. They don't actually clean anything, but they swirl the shit into exciting new shapes. Twice a week they come down one side of the street and twice a week they come down the other. The upshot of all this is that you have to make sure your car isn't parked on the side they're sweeping for the two hour time-window in which they're scheduled to be on your street.

It's a very complicated system designed to keep a whole lot of Teamsters employed. And so, if you own a car but take public transportation to work, you are obliged to make sure your car is where it needs to be or face a hundred dollar-plus ticket. It's fucking annoying.

It does, I suppose, help to keep you on your toes, as you sometimes have to really scramble to get your car into the space before some thoughtless prick takes it first.

I was in the middle of this harried process today when the incompetent advertiser attempted to work his mojo. We live right across the street from an elementary school, so there are several times a day when our street is jammed to the eyeballs with buses and teachers coming or going and parents triple-parked for drop-off or pick-up. I had just dumped a bunch of groceries in the passenger's seat and was getting ready to back our car a hundred yards or so at breakneck speed to claim one of a couple of spaces on the Tuesday-safe side. Suddenly, a car pulls up beside the car in front of me and stops. Logistically, this means I was blocked in, as there were cars in front and back of me and I had to pull out into the space now occupied before I could back up.

I assumed that this person wanted the space I was about to vacate and was just too stupid to realize that he was preventing me from giving it to him. I was about to give him a polite "Get the Fuck Out of My Way" horn tap when I saw him get out and walk in the general direction of my car. Going off of my previous assumption, I figured he was coming to ask if I was leaving.

He smiled and gestured for me to roll down my window. Meanwhile, the street was starting to fill up with cabs and parents and such, threatening to cut off my access to the precious space. The guy came over to me and held out a brochure of some kind. "Fucking Mormons!" I thought. (There are Mormons in Harlem, by the way. They've even opened up a truly ugly church not five blocks from here.)

He started to say something about how he'd like to invite me to some fucking thing or another, which is when I saw a bus turn the corner and start down the street to me. I knew that, if the bus got to where I was, I'd be stuck there for a good fifteen minutes while they loaded up. I grabbed the brochure and started rolling the window up, giving the guy a curt, "I'm in a hurry." He then sauntered back over to his car and slowly drove away.

I had time to maneuver out of my space before the bus blocked me in, but I couldn't back up and was forced to drive around the block--a route that almost guarantees that the space you're trying for will be gone by the time you've turned the four corners. As I sat at the red light at the end of my block, I noticed that the guy had handed me a flyer for a workshop on digital photography.

What the fuck? What the fuck kind of idiot thinks that the way to get someone interested in what you're offering is to induce road rage? This is akin to trying to sell someone donuts by pissing on their shoes. The world has found yet another way to mystify and irritate me.