Feb 192018
 

With the most brutal bits of winter over (hopefully), Lunch Break Tales are starting to heat up! Soon, more freaks will be slithering out of the nooks and crannies of Pittsburgh, so my lunchtime walks should be getting more lively here soon.

Until then, here is a small collection from the last week of walks.

  1. St.Patrick

On one of my Strip District strolls, I felt the urge to get my church on, so I hung a right past the grocer playing “Sara Smile” and visited St. Patrick where I did some atonin’.

J/K, I was there just there for a minute to take pictures because I was bored.

Old as fuck.

St. Patrick, I guess.

He seems mean.

2. Callous Coat Compliments

Earlier last week, I was standing on a corner waiting to cross the street and talking to Henry on the phone because that’s what you can usually catch me doing while I’m outside around ‘town unless Henry is “busy” and doesn’t answer his phone no matter how many times I hang up and call right back. But on this particular day, I pinned him down and he was obediently listening to me yap about my day, when I vaguely heard a voice calling out to my left about a jacket. I didn’t think anything of it and kept right on jawing off to Henry and just as I was about to step out into the street, the voice grew louder and more forceful.

“I SAID I LIKE YOUR COAT!!!” yelled a very rough looking girl with a neck tattoo who looked like an extra from Orange Is the New Black. She was walking past me on the sidewalk, tugging on her own coat to illustrate her callous compliment.

I quickly gushed a thank you and prayed that I appeased her before she decided to shank me and bloody my damn coat that draws way too much attention.

Shockingly, from a lot of old men. It must remind them of an old beloved couch.

Henry asked, “What the hell was that?”

“Oh, just another fan of my dumb gold sofa coat.”

Random mural from another walk last week. I’m so close to being able to walk to my favorite Asian market but even if I made it, I wouldn’t have enough time left to go inside and buy anything UGH WHY CAN’T I HAVE A 90 MINUTE LUNCH BREAK.

3. Candy Cashola

On Valentine’s Day, I went to Crazy Mocha to treat myself. As I walked to the counter, I noticed a young guy sitting alone at a table, with two giant gift bags at his feet, numerous helium balloons tied to them (the bags, not his feet), and a heart-shaped box of chocolates opened on the table. At first glance, I thought this was a really sweet scene of a dude getting his Valentine gifts ready for his girlfriend or boyfriend. But then I noticed that he was methodically wrapping each bare-backed chocolate with CASH MONEY, DIRTY DIRTY CASH MONEY.

Oh I could have spit up a little in my dirty chai latte. What a poorly-executed idea.

But still….MORE THAN I GOT FROM HENRY.

4. CUTS

On Mondays, I have to take my break earlier than usual because my little group has a meeting at 2pm every week and that’s what time I usually take my walk. Do you know me? I am a creature of habit and Mondays always screw me up because I have to CHANGE MY ROUTINE.

AIGOO!

I was all ready to go out around 1 when I checked the weather (#responsible; see also: Glenn has been purposely steering me wrong lately). I saw that there was a chance of rain, so I went and borrowed an umbrella from the umbrella stash in a drawer behind Marlene.

I can’t remember now who told me about that stash but it has SAVED MY LIFE several times.

In the drawer, there three umbrellas: a black one, a blue one, and a red one. I almost took the blue one. I had my fingers wrapped around the handle and everything, but then I reached for the red because it’s the smallest one and I didn’t feel like lugging around a large ‘brella if it wasn’t raining out there.

I have reasons, OK? You wouldn’t understand.

So I went outside and it was not raining, hooray! I went and got a chai latte at Crazy Mocha with zero ordeal, totally low-key for once. Although I ordered a small chai latte and dude gave me a medium one but I was less annoyed as I could have been when I thought he charged me for a medium and was making me a small. So I left with the medium since that’s what I paid for and didn’t feel like arguing that I ordered a small, having him void the transaction, and start over from scratch. I have shit to do!

It’s some new guy. He’s OK. But he always asks, “What can I get y’all?” which always makes me toss a quick glance over my shoulder and wonder if he can actually see my imaginary friend!?

Anyway, this story is about a cut so let’s get back to it.

I finally got a hold of Henry after I left Crazy Mocha and he was trying to act all cool like he was so busy and couldn’t talk to me, so after about 10 minutes, I got fed up with his superiority complex and said, “I’m hanging up now” and then hung up before he could respond because I don’t time to be courteous, and also because it had started to rain so I needed to pocket my phone and deal with the Opening of the Umbrella, of which I have a storied history.

My relationship with umbrellas is torrid.

I was especially unfamiliar with the inner workings of this small red umbrella. It wasn’t the kind where you push a button to unleash the monster. I had to push it up on my own, and once it was completely extended, I had to push down on a metal thing to pop open the umbrella part.

But I didn’t push down hard enough so the top started to come back down and my thumb got pinched inside of it — I am having a super hard time illustrating with words what went down here because I’m not a verified Umbrella Expert and do not know the technical names of the parts of it, OK?

What I can tell you is that it fucking LACERATED the pad of my thumb and a big bubble of blood sprung forth immediately and I screamed out loud and started to panic because I was a twenty minute walk away from the office and BLEEDING. It was stinging so badly.

“Don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry,” I kept hoarsely whispering to myself. I knew that there was a fire station nearby, but it was in the opposite direction and I needed to head back to work. So I couldn’t cry to a fireman. For a fleeting moment, I also worried about the scent of my blood-bubble attracting local vampires or maybe a demogorgon, I don’t know what goes on beneath the city. Do you?

I looked across the street and saw Two Louie’s Market. I considered going in there and asking for a bandaid because surely they have a first aid kit for employees and if I had to buy a fucking beverage, then fine!

But I was afraid that if I stopped walking, I would pass out.

So I just walked back to work in blinding pain, rain pelting down on the umbrella, my non-umbrella-holding hand squeezing my thumb like a tourniquet to keep it from falling off.

Came back to work and started screaming about my injury while bandaging myself with blessedly-large Ikea bandages.

“LOOK AT HOW THE BLOOD IS SHOWING THROUGH!” I screamed to Glenn and Todd, who were trying to process what was happening so quickly around them.

Glenn mentioned something about our meeting being canceled and I was like, “ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?!” so I marched down the hall just as Amber was emerging from her office and, thrusting my wounded thumb at her, I said, “This is all your fault! If you would have canceled the meeting before I went out on my break, then I would have went out at my regular time AND THIS WOULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED!”

“Wow. …sorry?” she shrugged, completely not caring.

Then Glenn or someone suggested that we call the meeting back on so I couldn’t talk about my cut and I quickly waved it off. “No no, it’s not that big of a deal.”

I really dislike meetings!

“Was it still raining out there when you came in?” Todd asked me.

“Yeah, raining blood,” Glenn deadpanned.

************

On my way home from work, I noticed that my entire hand hurts now, from my thumb down to my wrist.

“Oh my god, what if I have tetanus!?” I cried to Henry.

“Why would you have tetanus!? When were you last vaccinated for that?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “When I was born?”

“No,” Henry sighed.

Feb 112018
 

I’m back again with more lunch break tales because my life is so fucking rich.

The past few weeks, again, have been so inconsistent, weather-wise. On Friday though, Amber came back in from a walk and said it was actually nice out.

“Like, nice enough that I won’t need gloves?” I asked.

“I mean, it’s still kind of cold. You probably don’t need a hat, but I’d still take gloves,” she said, after giving it a second of thought.

I made a disappointed grumble, and Todd said to Amber, “Look, you gotta give her the answer she’s wanting, Amber. And she’s wanting to not wear gloves.”

“Fine, then don’t take gloves,” she said with great exasperation, but I was already walking down the hall with just my coat on anyway.

And….I totally wish I had brought my gloves, fucking ugh forever.

That was just a sample of the daily convos my co-workers are forced to have with me.

Anyway, let’s explore downtown Pittsburgh with some more pictures, SHALL WE?! Starting with one that I took after work and not on my lunch break, look at me, breaking the blogging law.

Market Square. I walk  through here everyday on my way to where Henry picks me up and it’s annoying because I almost always get stuck behind CASUAL WALKERS and don’t you know I’m a speed-walker all day every day? Get the fuck outta my way.

I usually eat oatmeal or Cream of Wheat for lunch every day. Don’t cry for me too hard, this is what I choose to eat because it’s easy and simple and something I can actually handle myself. (Mostly.) But last Friday, I was out of oatmeal and felt like gnawing off my arm, so I stopped at Bae Bae’s on my break. My intent was to just get kimbap to go, but they were only serving kimbap for dinner that day. So I ended up getting the tofu steak lunchbox and had the most delightful conversation with the guy working the counter. I cannot express how much I love this place, from the people to the food to the ambiance, and I want to become friends with them in the worst way. I just wanted to blurt out I’M GOING TO KOREA NEXT MONTH CAN WE TALK ABOUT THAT FOREVER?! But I played it cool.

When I went up to get my food, the girl who is always there and I think is one of the owners (#speculation) said, “You’ve been here before, right?” and I was like, “YES LET’S BE BEST FRIENDS WANT TO COME OVER?!” JK I just said yes and then tacked on an overzealous, fan-girly, “AND I FOLLOW YOU GUYS ON INSTAGRAM.”

And as I was leaving, the other guy who is always there called out, “See you later, Erin! Have a good day!” and I was like, “OH I AM SO IN THE CLUB NOW.” JK I’m never in any clubs, not since elementary school when Spring and I had the Animal Rescue Club, meetings were held in the attic of the shed in my backyard, and the closest we came to saving an animal was when we found a groundhog that was probably dead and my mom was all DON’T TOUCH IT IT COULD HAVE RABIES THAT’S GROSS.

:(

We could have been so good at saving animals if dumb parents hadn’t gotten in the way.

I walk through a lot of alleys downtown because they’re fucking creepy and interesting. Some dude was murdered in this one. Well, that’s where his body was found, anyway.

Stupid trolley station thing that I use almost every day. There’s also a free art gallery above it, which is kind of cool I guess but doesn’t take away from the fact that I hate taking the T to work, woe is me.

When I was leaving for my afternoon walk on Friday, I rode down on the elevator with Sue, who half-jokingly said, “Hey, while you’re out, see if you can find Jeannie’s work ID. She lost it on the way back from Proper.” Since I never have a cemented destination in my mind when I step outside, I purposely walked down that particular block and without any effort whatsoever, I found Jeannie’s ID laying on the sidewalk in front of the Benedum. I AM A FUCKING HERO. I sent Jeannie a picture of it and she was like YOU’RE THE BEST and I was like LE DUH. Anyway, I get a reward now, and that’s all that matters.

Sue called me Hawkeye Kelly and I love that nickname because my eyes are actually so freaking terrible!

I treated myself to a bag of parmesan Goldfish from CVS, but I went to one of the smaller, crappier ones in lieu of the decent one I normally go to, and that was sad because this particular CVS reeks of cigarette smoke and sewage. It’s just really bad. But I really enjoy the one cashier who is there often, a young stoner named Cameron who is super pleasant and jovial and ends every transaction by handing over the bag and cheerfully saying, “Enjoy!”

Even when the broad in front of me was purchasing nothing but a pack of Always pads, he sent her off with an emphatic invitation to, “ENJOY!”

Jan 312018
 

Ugh, my lunch break walks are so depressing in the winter. This past month, they fluctuated between Motherfucking Arctic Freeze to Downright Unseasonably Balmy. We haven’t really had a chance to “get used” to winter when it’s 10 degrees one day and SIXTY degrees a few days later. Madness.

I still go out on my lunch break every day, even on the days when it’s in the teens, even when it’s snowing, even when it’s raining. Sometimes I might only last 25 minutes before surrendering to Mother Nature, but at least I got outside and moved for a bit, right? The thing I hate the most about winter is BOOTS. It’s so annoying having to change my shoes four times a day (when I get to work, before I go outside, when I come back outside, and then when I leave for the day). Sometimes, I’m lazy and just keep my stupid ugly boots on for the rest of the workday.

Like today.

#suchlaze

Because of the gross weather, not many people are outside, which means my crazy interactions with Pittsburgh civilians and alley dwellers are lacking. So I figured I would at least share some pictures taken on my various power-walks.

As I was taking this picture  in a desolate area of the Strip District, I thought someone was running up behind me and I screamed so fucking loud. But it was just a leaf, trying to be a tumbleweed.

On one of the not-so-frigid days,  I was able to wear a lighter jacket and NO WINTRY ACCOUTREMENTS (no that I don’t love my scarves and gloves, but sometimes it’s nice to be so weighed down and muffled). That meant I got to wear my beloved cow-spot jacket. I was on the phone with Henry when some guy in a fluorescent yellow hoodie walked past me and then turned around just to tell me that he liked my coat. “Reminds me of 101 Dalmations,” he said, and then he started singing happily but I couldn’t tell if it was “Cruella DeVille” or not.

“Who was that, one of your homeless friends?” Henry asked. This was right after he overheard me saying hello to someone else and he asked me the same question then too, and surprisingly, that time it wasn’t one of my homeless friends either!

“No, it’s my friend who sells flowers on the corner of Penn by Eides,” I said haughtily, like why am I having to explain myself to Henry anyway. I HAVE LOTS OF STRANGE FRIENDS DOWNTOWN. THEY PROBABLY THINK I’M STRANGE TOO.

I was walking by when this was being painted the other day.

Ew and then it was so cold and gross for a while that a bunch of shit froze, like the cool little walkway under the convention center. AIN’T NO ONE WALKING THRU THERE RIGHT NOW.

And the river walk is closed off because it’s all gross and full of ice clumps. Ugh, winter makes everything so ugly.

So what do I generally do on my walks? Usually, my first mission would be to get a latte in my hand as soon as possible, but I’ve been trying to keep my latte addiction on lock lately, so I’ll usually only stop at a cafe once or twice a week. Sometimes, I’ll have to go to the post office to mail international card orders (we just got our first Sweden and Switzerland orders yesterday!). I tried to go to one closer to our building but the lady who works there gives me the third degree every time, like I’m trying to send a metal file to my boyfriend in prison and not goddamn Valentine cards, jesus christ.

Then I usually call Henry afterward because dealing with postal things drives up my blood pressure.

One time, I was at the post office that’s inside the Westin (where I normally go because those peeps don’t give a FUCK what I’m mailing) but no one was behind the counter, two cops were at the front of the line talking abouot the embroidering on their cop jackets, an old lady in front of me had a stack of probably 40 green tax envelopes, and then an older guy behind me asked, “Is anyone even working?” One of the cops answered, “There’s just one guy here and he’s getting something for us” me and the old guy both said, “FORGET IT” at the same time and left.

I have as much patience as a surly old man! I’m so excited.

I need to start keeping more butterscotch candies in my coat pockets, though.

Static and Terror Town aren’t there anymore. This whole area just makes me sad. It’s so cluttered and junk-y.

Henry had the nerve to call me when I was trying to take this picture so I hit decline on his ass.

Heinz stuff is over there. Pittsburgh is famous for Heinz stuff, in case you didn’t know. Pittsburghers will spontaneously combust if anyone tries to serve them Hunts or says CATSUP in their presence.

Anyway, those are the Heinz Lofts now. If you move to Pittsburgh, you should live there and then let me be your roommate for cheap.

Don’t you love learning half-assed pieces of maybe-knowledge about Pittsburgh when you read my Lunch Break Tales?! It’s unreal that I’m not a Pittsburgh-famous blogger-historian by now.

Walking in the Strip can be so much fun in the warmer months because there’s street vendors and produce stands and general liveliness, but in winter it’s just a bunch of people walking around looking miserable. Except for the group of five people I passed on the sidewalk today who were SO HAPPY TO BE OUT TOGETHER that they conveniently forgot that the sidewalk didn’t belong to them and only them, just because a sidewalk is wide enough DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD ALL WALK IN A ROW AND TAKE UP THE WHOLE THING YOU SELFISH CUNTS. Both myself and the lady in front of me were nearly pushed off into the street by their sidewalk-hogger and I couldn’t help but let out a disgusted “UGH” and an eye roll, which was totally seen by one of the bitches in the group.

“Wow, you’re such a bad ass,” Henry said when I told him about it later (AFTER I TOOK MY PICTURE ON THE BRIDGE THAT HIS CALL INTERRUPTED).

But then other times people I see on my walks are so freaking nice, like this one lady-jogger who smiled at me for no reason and then I SMILED BACK, who even am I anymore, and the one young girl who cheerfully yelled over to me that she liked my pants and I was like THANK YOU and almost said “I know” because they were my bright red pants and they’re really awesome and everyone should like them.

Well, that concludes this past month in walking around the ‘Burgh. Mayhaps February will be more exciting. And maybe in the spring I’ll resume my Postcards from Erin’s Lunch Break project! Holla.

Jun 272017
 

I wanted iced coffee today while I was walking on my lunch break. Crazy Mocha is usually my go-to, and I havent been there since last week when I walked out after I reached my gagging point at the strung-out couple heavily making out in line in front of me. Not to sound like a PRUDE but it was just TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE. 

I figured enough time had past for their salacious residue to have evaporated, so I was going to go there when I remembered that Henry told me about some new place he heard about over by the Art Institute called Grateful something or other. I very recently had walked down that street (it’s pretty shady back there but I like to press my luck) but didn’t recall seeing anything other then a Thai restaurant, a head shop-looking store front, and a carjacker. 

I consulted my enemy Yelp to no avail. Maybe the place was so new that it wasn’t even on Yelp yet, meaning my Yelp nemesis probably hadn’t patronized it yet and if that was the case — did this place really even exist?!

Right before I was pulled into a parking garage sex ring, I saw a sign that said Grateful [Something] and realized it was the headshop that I had seen the last time I was on that street. But lo and behold, there was a placard out front that said COFFEE on it. 
The stench of patchouli almost warded me off, but I took one brave step across the threshold and stopped. It was a small store full of tie-dye shirts and things of that nature so suddenly the “Grateful” part of the shop name made sense. I was about to turn around when a man called from the back, “Are you looking for coffee?”

I must have had The Look. 

He motioned for me to come further into the back of the store, past some broad who was hanging hemp bracelets on a rack, I don’t even know, IT WAS ALL A BLUR. 

“So here’s the coffee,” the proprietor said in a sleepy-happy-high slur, pointing me toward a counter. “It’s self-serve. You have your iced coffee here,” he said, pointing to a cooler, “and here’s your hot coffee.” There were five or six bottles of Torani syrups as well, but this was not what I wanted! I wanted someone to make it for me! If I wanted to make my own iced coffee, I’d just go home and add an ice cube to whatever’s left in my French press. Ugh. 

I really wanted to leave but now I felt like I was in too deep because he was asking me where I work and if I’m a lawyer (lol) so I went through the motions of preparing myself a plastic cup of ok-quality room temp coffee and I couldn’t find the ice but didn’t feel like asking because I just wanted it be over. I felt so scrutinized! Like hey guy,  can you turn your back and give me some privacy here? There’s a certain intimacy to sprinkling saccharine into that cup o’ caffeine, you know? lol sike jk. I just didn’t want that dude looking at me. 

I squirted some sugar free vanilla syrup up in that shit while Spicoli kept getting in my face about how great his coffee is and showing me the gigantic printer he has to print out receipts. 

WHERE WAS THE SOY MILK?? I don’t know because I didn’t want to ask. Black it is!

After telling him three times that I didn’t need a receipt from his medieval printer, our transaction was finally complete. 

“Um can I have my credit card back?” I asked as he walked away with it still in his hand. 

“Oh yeah, good call!” he laughed, all Dazed & Confused. 

Ugh. Stress. 

The coffee was fine even though it tasted like I made it. Because I half did. 

On a scale of “Drinking the coffee you lft in th microwave for a day” to “Kind of like going to Telaropa and getting coffee from a vending machine,” I’d rate it a “I let a child fix my coffee at the gas station.”

Will I go back? Fuck yeah. It’s going on the Erin’s Shitty Pittsburgh Tour itinerary. 

This has been Lunch Break Tales. 

Apr 272017
 

Last week, I was doing my routine lunch break roaming. I generally don’t have a destination in mind, I just kind of roll with it, and if something eventful happens—cool. If not, at least I racked up some steps, amirite? Well, two days in a row I had an eventful walk. Here, let me tell you all about it. Stay for a spell, WON’T YOU.

1. The Lady In the Road

On Thursday, my free-form pavement pounding found me crossing the Rachel Carson bridge. I only know that’s the bridge I was on because there are pennants hanging all over it that say RACHEL CARSON with some broad’s face on it.

A thing to note about me is that I am VERY SCARED of bridges, but I try to cross one on foot every now and again as a psychological exercise. On windy days, I am fraught with fear. FRAUGHT. And one time I was certain the man in front of me had a bomb and I started to have blurred vision.

I made it off the bridge though in case you were wondering.

OK, back to the Rachel Carson bridge. I was on it. Everything was going as fine as it could be for someone with a crippling fear of hovering atop a disgusting river. I was almost to the end of the bridge when the man who was walking a few yards ahead of me took off into a sprint. I shrugged it off as a sudden burst of energy, but then panicked because what if he knew that the bridge was about to buckle!?

Turns out, he was running to assist a woman who was sprawled out in the middle of the road just a bit away from the end of the bridge. Several other people were gathered around, cars were pulled over, a bus too.

There was a white towel laying near her head.

I knew almost immediately that something was wrong.

In case you couldn’t figure that out.

The Alcoa building was right next to the intersection where this scene was playing out, and several people had congregated on the sidewalk. I walked up to an older woman and asked, “Was she hit by a car?” But her response to me was a screeching, “OH MY LAWD THAT WAS TURRIBLE! THAT WAS TURRIBLE! OH, I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT HAPPENED!” and then she balled up her hands, stamped her feet, and screamed, “OOOH LAWD!” and walked away from me, tears spurting from her eyes.

I clearly wasn’t getting the 411 from her, and I deduced that whatever had happened, it took place mere seconds before I came across the bridge. So by this point, numerous people were on the phone with 911, and little ol’ Erin hanging around ,with an iced lavender latte in one clammy paw, was not going to help the situation in any sense whatsoever. I lowered my head a bit and slowly walked away, and then once I got to the next block, I started crying. That poor lady! I don’t know her, or what she was doing, where she was going, but I knew that I just wanted her to be OK.

And I barely care about people, so that says a lot. I must have been struck by the gods of humanity at a weak moment, I don’t know.

By the time I made it to the next block, I could hear sirens in the distance, and my legs turned to noodles. So then I dove into an endless abyss of hypotheticals and what-ifs.

I texted my friend Debbie who works in the building right next to the accident scene and she replied to me later on to tell me that it ended up being a woman who works in her building, and that luckily she was OK – just sore and bruised.

Such a relief!

Caring is a weird feeling.

2. Bring Some Home For Daddy

I occasionally see this super disheveled yet exuberant man ambling about the ‘Burgh aimlessly, I guess the same way I do except I don’t yell uplifting platitudes at strangers or sing to myself.

Yet, anyway.

I walked past him one day about a month ago while he was looking into a store window and he was momentarily sidetracked from whatever mental mathematics he was chugging through with the aid of his fingers and an imaginary abacus.

“Oh, you have a nice day, pretty lady! Yeah, you have a nice day, now!” he sputtered jovially, and I thanked him because I’ll take compliments from anyone, NO DISCRIMINATION HERE, but I did pick up my pace a bit because…yikes.

It occurred to me that he looked really familiar, like maybe I had seen him the last time I was in the psych ward, but then I realized he looked like one of the baggers at Kuhn’s, and that is a huge feat for me to remember someone who works at Kuhn’s considering I’ve only gone there maybe 10 times in the last 16 years.

Hello, Henry-oppa does all the domestic bitch work.

I described him to Henry who admitted that he did sound familiar based on my impeccable profiling skills. But this wasn’t good enough and I set off on a mission to take his picture.

Fast forward to last Friday. A beautiful spring day, lots of activity downtown. Glenn mentioned that there was a stand in Market Square giving away tomato plants or something and I wanted one, so I stopped there first and found the stand. I just stood there for a few seconds and no one gave me anything, so I got mad and moved on to another booth where I got to try a sample of some kind of honey water. It was OK.

None of this has anything to do with the point of this story, but I felt the need to include it.

I did a huge loop around the Point and circled back onto Liberty Avenue, which is where a lot of hot messes can be found.

Just as I was approaching Planned Parenthood, I saw him. He was rummaging into a basket of chalk to help one of the protesters desecrate the sidewalk with her cheap message. I thought to myself, “Wow, a two-for-one special!” as I readied my phone.

Just as I took the picture, the man turned and looked straight at me. I mean, see for yourself:

I froze, wondering if he was going to be angry. Instead, he moved toward me quickly and put his fist up, so I was like, “Oh ok. I’ll play” and humored him with a fist bump. This was already breaking my NO HUMAN CONTACT rule, but whatever. I was in a good mood (no thanks to those motherfuckers in Market Square, denying me a tomato thing).

And then…

Oh god…

I barely have it in me to say…

The horrors….

He pulled me in, so fucking fast, into a suffocating bear hug.

It was like that Tango move. You know the one. Where the dude just yanks the broad into him.

THAT HAPPENED TO ME ON THE SIDE OF LIBERTY AVENUE.

IN FRONT OF PEOPLE.

I froze. Completely shut down. Went limp.

Obviously he smelled pretty bad, and he was so sweaty, oh my god, the dampness of his untucked shirt….

The dampness.

So much moisture on that shirt.

TOUCHING ME.

I began to hear the sounds of wavering sheet metal in my ears, which usually means I’m about to pass out, die, or be lifted up into space by a beam of light.

Did you know that I hate hugs? I don’t even like hugging my friends. In high school, Lisa used to chase me around and threaten me with hugs all the time. I have a picture somewhere depicting one such occasion but alas, I am not in a position to search for said picture at this precise moment in time.

But anyway – back to the wet embrace. I was still all up in those stinky pits, pinned against his soggy shirt, feeling his hot breath against the side of my head as he gushed in the voice of 1940s radio personality, “Aren’t you just a pretty little lady, bring some home for daddy.”

BRING SOME HOME FOR DADDY.

That gave me the strength to wrench myself out of his vice-like hold and take off down the sidewalk, past all these people staring at me like I was the crazy one for going around hugging vagabonds, and I was acutely aware of him crossing the street while singing some song about FEELING JOLLY.

Oh my fucking god, why.

Why me.

Why why why.

On my race back to work, I started thinking of all the ways this situation could have gone awry. He could have turned hostile and stabbed me or worse – he could have stolen my G-Dragon pin!

I got back to work and my hands were shaking like milk (shout out to you if you know it). My first mistake was telling Glenn what happened. He thought this was the greatest story ever told. He loved it. Every last second of it. Meanwhile, I still hadn’t regained the color to my face and was still stumbling around with the pallor of a girl who just had her soul hugged out of her.

“That guy’s going to be have good dreams tonight,” Glenn chuckled and I felt sick all over again.

My second mistake was not immediately going home and taking a shower. Instead, I spent the rest of my workday, sitting inside the sweater that had just been molested by the sweat-stippled chest wig of a sidewalk stranger.

My third mistake was also my first mistake which was TELLING GLENN, who derived great joy in asking, “Did you tell them about your new friend?” every time someone came over to my desk. The really unfortunate part was that one of those people was Wendy and if there is anyone who loves basking in a swimming pool of Erin-related schadenfreude, it’s freaking WENDY.

“Oh my god, I would have pissed myself if I had been there!” she wheezed, and then I reached into my drawer to get out more of my international candy and Glenn happily said, “Bring some home for daddy!”

****

When I showed Henry the picture of my hugger, he said, “It looks like it could the brother of the bagger from Kuhn’s, but it’s not the same guy. Good job, Erin.”

All that I endured to get that fucking picture, and it wasn’t even the same guy.

Fuck everyone.

(Except for that lady who got hit by the car.)

Mar 152017
 

Here’s another chapter from my imaginary (Don’t Read This To Your) Children’s book, “Lunch Break Tales.” Just, wow.

***

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It was really busy this one day last week and we were short-staffed, so I told Glenn that I was just going to short lunch, just long enough to run out to Crazy Mocha and grab some coffee, I said.

Won’t be long, I said.

Like, 10 minutes, I said.

Except that it was actually busy that day, and I had to stand in a line full of people who had never ordered coffee before and questioned everything on the menu. And then two aging punks came in and tried to line-jump but I called them out on it in the most Pollyanna way I could muster, and it turns out that it was an accident anyway, so they got in line behind me and the older of the two, who reminded me a bit of my friend Jason from Cleveland, wouldn’t stop raggin’ on me for being mean to an “old man” and it was funny at first, but then I was like, “OK STOP TALKING TO ME NOW” except a few minutes later, a Depeche Mode song came on and he started singing it and then his friend was talking about some Italian band who did a really great cover of it and then I was like, “OK, I’ll talk to you!” because I wanted so desperately to butt in and me my old nosy self (or nebby, if you’re from Pittsburgh) but the coffee broad was handing me my coffee and really, I didn’t care that much.

I left with my coffee and right as I turned to make my way back to work, I spotted a very familiar face walking toward me, pulling a small suitcase in his wake.

IT WAS TRAVIS WALL FROM SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE.

And I knew for a fact that it was him because the week prior to this, I was walking past the Benedum and saw him on a poster for an upcoming show, which happened to be that night. We made eye contact and I started to open my mouth like I was going to bark, but then I lost my nerve and let him walk by in peace.

But then something came over to me and I thought to myself, “NO. I AM NOT GOING TO THROW AWAY THIS CHANCE TO SAY HELLO TO TRAVIS WALL’S FACE.” So I turned around and followed him.

I’m not proud of this.

But look you guys, I was never into dance before until right after I had Chooch and couldn’t do much but splay out on the couch like Jabba the Hut while Chooch nursed, and that’s how I accidentally started watching SYTYCD right when the second season auditions started. And man, I thought contemporary dance was A JOKE and kept waiting for the judges to laugh those fools off the stage, but instead, they were practically q-tipping their dickholes in pure fervor and screaming, “COME GETCHER TICKET TO VEGAS!” Travis was one of those dancers. He ended up making it all the way to the finals of that season but lost out to a swing dancer. However, the judges recognized Travis’s ridiculous talent and eventually had him come back as a choreographer. ALL OF HIS DANCES MAKE ME CRY.

Travis taught me that watching people dance can have the same effect on me as music. And some of those routines moved me even more than music ever has! So I had to at least say hello.

I only had to follow him a few yards before he stopped at a door and was trying to open it when I very tentatively approached and, keeping my distance, asked, “Travis?”

He turned and yes, but had a “NOT TODAY” look on his face. I don’t want to make it sound like he was a d-bag, but it was obvious that he was very focused on getting to where he needed to be, and I didn’t want to be That Person who disrupted a celebrity’s day when they were clearly “off-duty” or whatever; however, I feel like if I were any type of artist/celebrity, I would want to know that I had affected a person. 

And then I just stood there with my jaw unhinged because I hadn’t planned that far ahead. So there was a frozen moment in time where we just stood there looking at each other, him assessing my level of stalker psychopath and me assessing the quickly depleting cache of words my tongue was capable of spitting out. 

So I just very quickly said, “I just wanted to say hello and that I think you’re awesome” because my vocabulary peaked in 1st grade, I guess.

He thanked me and then as I awkwardly turned to walk run away, he called after me, “It was nice to meet you.”

So there was that at least.

Meanwhile, some older businessman had taken this all in and fell into step with me.

“Who was that?” he asked. I filled him in and he laughed. “Wow, you spotted him fast!” And then I couldn’t get this weirdo to stop talking to me about it! He walked all the way back to my building (which was only half of a block away BUT STILL) with me and I was just dying from the emotional duress of so much human contact crammed into one excruciating 20-minute session.

SO  MUCH FOR THAT QUICK COFFEE RUN.

Meanwhile, Henry had the nerve to say, “Pics or it didn’t happen”like it’s 2012 or some shit. I was NOT about to ask Travis for a selfie after that lukewarm reception.

Then I went back to work and couldn’t find anyone who cared.

(GOD, why didn’t I at least say “have a good show tonight!” Or “How about that bench dance you did with Heidi, amirite?”)

***

There was another dumb day last week where I was just like FUCK IT ALLLLLLLL and put on my surliest “Pee Wee In an Alley After His Bike Was Stolen” demeanor before hittin’ the meat streets of Pgh. I was making damn sure to avoid all eye contact with every last pedestrian, but then as I walked onto the Point, some dirty hippie college student stopped me and said, “Here, have a flower. Have a great day!” as he handed me a tiny white rosebud thingie. It turned my whole day around.

ONE DUMB FLOWER!

I was like, “You know what? I WILL have a great day.” And so I did.

***

***

I almost didn’t go out for a walk today because Glenn said it was SO COLD OMG but I was like whatever Glenn, eff off, and went out anyway. Turns out it was SO COLD OMG but not as much as it was yesterday, so I was prepared.

I decided that I was going to kick it no-frills style and stopped at a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts (after almost getting hit by a car and then another car, and then passing the older black lady who screams into her phone all the time and I’m 99.999999997% sure that no one is on the other end) for a macchiato. Nothing exciting happened while I was inside, and no one was outside silently protesting donuts while wearing a tutu, either.

(This is a thing that happens downtown, trust me. Add it to your travel itinerary!)

As soon as I stepped out of DD, this old lady waddled up to me and she is straight bawlin’.

(Not ballin’.)

Tells me the age-old spiel about being homeless, can you spare some change, just want a hot coffee, etc.

I never ever ever have cash on me, except for the time that I did and specifically went for a walk in search of my favorite homeless guy so that I could FINALLY give him a buck or two because he always says things to me like, “YOU’RE TOO PRETTY NOT TO BE SMILIN'” and then the next thing I know, I AM SMILING.

I mean…

DON’T TELL ME TO SMILE, ASSHOLE.

Anyway, this homeless broad is like squirting tears all over my feet and I must have been at a vulnerable point in the day because she totally suckered me, motherfuckers.

I didn’t have any cash on me, so I told her to come with me, and I took her inside Dunkin’ Donuts and let her order some type of sausage thing and then she got an OJ out of the cooler and said, “I’ll just have this instead of coffee” and I said, “It’s so cold out, you can have coffee too if you want.” She looked like she didn’t want to press her luck with me, so I turned to the TOTALLY ANNOYED Dunkin’ Donuts guy and told him to add a medium coffee to her order.

This broad was crying all over the place and I was glad that I was in the position to help someone out a bit. However, the whole way back to work, I kept expecting something horrible to happen to me, like a piano falling on my head or tripping over a tumbleweed and right into the crossfire of a duel.

YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE I WALK.

Then I came back to work and was extra mean to Lou in order to right my devil/angel ratio.

Mar 062017
 

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I ran out of people to send postcards of all of my fascinating lunch break observations, so I guess now everyone* will have to endure it on here.

*(See also: my five readers. I love you guys very very much.)

I can’t keep of track of days anymore, so we’ll pretend like this all happened in one, action-packed stroll through the ‘Burgh. Except the first bulletpoint actually just happened about 10 minutes ago. HOT OFF THE PRESS.

  • Some broad next to me completely missed her step while we were crossing the street and tripped so hard on the curb that her shoe flung off and she fell flat down on her hands and knees. I was on the phone with Henry at the time, but felt like I had no choice but to slightly slow my roll and at least ask her if she was OK. I mean, I’m a card-carrying member of the ACLU now so I felt that it was the human thing to do. At first, she didn’t answer me and I was like, “Wow, what a bitch” followed quickly with, “Oh shit, is she unconscious?” Turns out she was none of those things, just a little embarrassed. Once she got back on her feet, she laughed it off and then thanked me for asking if she was OK. “Did you just ask someone if they were OK?” Henry asked in astonishment through the phone, so I told him what happened, and he said he was very impressed with me. For what it’s worth though, she also dropped a CVS bag which I could have picked up for her but instead just walked away after I tripped on it.
  • There was a fire at the place where I buy my coffee! It didn’t burn down though, and was reopened by the next day.
  • Speaking of coffee, I went to Crazy Mocha last week and felt compelled to get their seasonal leprechaun chai because sometimes you gotta change shit up a bit. The barista (not the punctuation-obsessed one — I actually haven’t seen her in awhile!) said, “You’ll have to let me know how this is; I haven’t tried it yet.” This was right as she started making it, so then I had a quiet panic attack, wondering if she meant, “Don’t leave this place until you drink some and let me know because I’m going to write your exact words on this chalkboard for all the customers to read” or was she telling me that she expected me to come back the next day with my review? WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO!? But then as she handed the cup to me, she told me to have an awesome day and  then turned her back on me so that was my cue to get the fuck out and never come back.
    • I went back today though but luckily some other girl was working and I had no outstanding demands to tell her what I thought of any of the drinks there, so that was a relief.
  • Walked past some broad and if I were still my old, judgemental self (lol), I’d have probably written something like, “she looked like a washed-up stripper,” but I kind of gave up stereotyping people for Lent just to see what it’s like to give something up. Anyway, right as I passed her, she growled to her friend, “I had $13 hidden in my bra, but they didn’t find it.” She looked like someone who would hide $13 in her bra, too. Damn, did I just lose Lent? So many questions though, mainly, “WHO WAS SHE HIDING THE $13 FROM!?”
  • Speaking of washed-up strippers, remember when I was obsessed with making a coffee table book full of pictures and essays of washed-up strippers, so I placed an ad on Craigslist and only one broad answered but then she said I couldn’t take any pictures, so I was like, “Well fuck you and your strippin’ history then.” I don’t know why more people didn’t respond. I clearly stated that I wasn’t a serial killer.
  • OH SHIT I HAVEN’T TOLD YOU ABOUT THE PIGEON INCIDENT YET, BLOG. Well what happened, was….I was walking down the sidewalk and a man was walking toward me, but in the middle of us was a pigeon, and the pigeon was all, “Shit son, this man is walking toward me very quickly, I better turn around and flyYYYYYY—–OH SHIT ANOTHER PERSON IS BEHIND ME, WHICH WAY DO I GO” and then he (she? The voice I made for it that day in my head was a boy voice, so we’ll go with he) slammed right into my thigh, ricocheted to the left and flew into a woman who was walking past, at which point that lady started screaming before I had a chance to scream, and the pigeon was SO UPSET at this point and probably flew into a bus or something, but all the pedestrians on the block stopped what they were doing and started laughing at the lady who was so upset that a pigeon hit her and at first I was mad because hello, it hit me first, but then did I really want people laughing at me? No. That broad can have my thunder. Meanwhile, Amber* was outside around the same time as me and she got to see Olli Matta! (He’s a Penguin, no big deal.) Yeah well…I WAS TOUCHED BY A PIGEON!
    • *I’m going to call Amber “Amber-sunbae” from now on because she was promoted and is now my boss, and in a Korean work environment, that would make her my sunbaenim! See, you just learned a thing.
      • I have a feeling she is going to reject my title for her.
      • But I probably can’t ever call her Mean Amber again, haha!
  • We have a cat cafe in Pittsburgh now! I walked over there on my lunch break, even though I knew that you have to make a reservation to get into the cat loft because they just opened and are in high demand because who doesn’t want to sit in a roomful of cat?!  Still, I wanted somewhere new to get an iced latte. It was pretty good but kind of overpriced; however, I like to believe that some of the money is going to the cats so I was alright with it. Plus, the people working there were super friendly; we had non-excruciating small talk and when I said, “Have a nice day, guys” I THINK I MEANT IT.

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