New level achieved

I met a man who made my dreams of minimalism look ridiculous. Anyone who knows me or has read deeply into this nonsense knows I have a deep desire to pare my life down to its bare essentials. Few things give me joy like getting rid of something. It’s probably the same rush that others get from the hunt and purchase. In five years I’m going to be deeply disappointed in myself if I have half of the physical crap I currently own. I am working on a one new thing in two old things out policy and it’s working for me personally but not as fast as I would like. I say all that to set the stage for meeting a new hero.

I was in the United lounge deal at the airport and before I put on my DO NOT DISTURB headphones the gentleman next to me struck up a conversation. We talked for a while and then he asked how I liked the iPad I had just pulled out of my bag. I talked about how it is my daily driver and the one piece of technology I love over all others but it has some drawbacks. He said that he wanted one but if he got it he would have to sell his laptop. When I asked him why he blew my mind.

He went on to tell me about his life to this point. He was tree years out of a failed marriage that yielded no kids and a messy divorce. He had always loved work more than anything and once the divorce was final he dove back in with both feet. He is operating at a different level than most having reached a senior Vice President level at a large corporation so he was used to a certain lifestyle. After a year of living alone in an oversized home he sat down and did a complete accounting of his life.

His house was in an upscale suburb of Chicago called Oak Brook. He had a $5,000 a month jumbo mortgage payment that he could easily afford but it bothered him. More than half of that was paying property taxes and the other half was a jumbo loan that was basically paying interest. So he decided to do something that everyone he asked told him not to do and that was sell everything and make some drastic changes.

Not only did he sell his house and both of his cars but he challenged himself to get everything he owned into three suit cases. Ultimately he wants to be down to two but he is still working that out with the suit requirements for his job. But that’s not even the part that blew my mind. He now lives full time year round in hotels!

And these are real hotels not weekly or monthly motel six type places. He stays at mostly Marriott properties as he has the highest available status. He is on the road a lot so he gets reimbursed and also has some tax thing worked out with his accountant. His only bills are food, cell phone, dry cleaning, Uber and or taxis to get him around. He pays no utilities obviously but he also pays no gym memberships because he stays in full service hotels that in his words “have adequate facilities for my needs.”

I asked what he pays and he said after a full year of tracking and keeping in mind his status upgrades and being able to go in to management and negotiate multiple weeks at a time he averaged a little under $150 a night. I did the math and almost choked but he reminded me that it is less than he paid per year in his house for just the mortgage.

Fascinated I asked about buying something smaller or renting an apartment and he said he could never go back. He doesn’t have to pay anyone to clean he never has to make a bed and if he doesn’t like his view a phone call or a complete change of location can fix it. The next thing I knew forty five minutes had passed and I had to get on my flight.

I could have talked to him all day but when I thought about exchanging contact information it felt creepy for some reason so I chickened out. Hold shit. Three suit cases and permanent life in hotels. This dude makes the tiny house folks look like hoarders.

Happy sale day

I woke up to a bloated personal email inbox just because we have entered the month of my birth. 36 birthday related offers from every business that is keeping track of such things. I read them all and have kept 4 that seem mildly interesting but that’s not the point of this writing.

The majority of these emails were designed to get me to buy something but they have had the opposite effect. I just opted out of more than 20 mailing lists and am canceling 2 reoccurring monthly memberships. The marketing mistake is alerting me all at once BEFORE the holidays.

This forced me to do some Jethro Bodine style ciphering (too young to understand the reference? Look it up) and it all added up to wasted money. This was a long lead up to explain that one of the companies required a phone call to complete the operation.

I knew this was an attempt to save my business and I was fully prepared to take a ride on the scripted customer service system. What they weren’t prepared for is my level of crazy and some time to kill on this blustery day. We started by going through the normal stuff about keeping my business and a price reduction offer.

When we finally got to the part where they wanted to know why I was canceling I told them that the voices in my head were telling me to cut expenses and if I don’t listen, something bad is going to happen. The silence after you drop words like that is palpable and something you either love or hate.

I’m in love with derailing scripts so you can guess where I land. I really should figure out how to record one of these. I almost felt bad because the dude on the other end of the call was rattled. But then he hit me with the three months free final offer so I knew he was back in the game. The best advice for acting crazy over the phone involves repeating yourself and mixing up your rhythm tone and pitch. With that in mind I’ll write what I said that got my account canceled.

No no no no not again not again not again not again not again where do you live where do you live where do you work what is your full name no no no no not again not again not again

I have this dream that I am on training tapes at companies all over the land of customer service. It’s good to have goals.

Hey Alfred

I just got an email from Bank of America telling me about their new digital assistant what lives inside their app. Her name is Erica and apparently she will make my BofA experience so much better. I don’t need any more assistants or assistance in fact I have made an effort to cut the number in my life down to one. Between Alexa, Siri, Okay Google, and Bixby, I was just saying too many nonsensical names out loud to ask simple questions. So I have trimmed down to just “Hey Siri” because I am nipples deep in the Apple ecosystem and the others were just bothering me.

Alexa for one was always listening and sending what was happening back to the mothership for analysis. I know they all do that but I feel like Apple has figured out how to charge enough to stay in business where everyone else has to sell my info to make any money. My naturally suspicious brain still doesn’t understand how Google can afford to give so much away for free. (still use Gmail like it’s a god given right) And Amazon doesn’t even charge what the echo things cost just to try to dig in like an all-knowing tick. (I pay them to be a part of their special club like millions of other sheep) Don’t even get me started on that evil Facebook Portal Plus camera phone they are advertising right now because I don’t trust that smug little prick as far as I can paper football flick him. (but when he gets tired of trying to sell them and ships every user one for free I won’t refuse the package)

Every once in a while I get that boiling frog feeling regarding my privacy. You know that old saying about boiling frogs in room temperature water and turning the heat up slowly so the stupid things don’t figure out whats happening until it’s too late… it sure seems to be getting warm in here personal information wise. That might seem odd coming from a guy who doesn’t really care what he talks about on this stupid thing but I am in complete control of this nonsense.

The only option out of the system is to completely disconnect and that is something I’m unwilling to do. I love being able to look crazy shit up on my schedule. I love being able to learn like I watch TV, constantly changing channels. I love technology. Even if I were to try to go completely off grid I would need the internet to teach me how because the thought of hauling a pile of survivalist books around with me at all times seems exhausting.

Apologies for that side order of paranoia. Just before sitting down to write this I got angry because none of these things let you change their names. I hate saying the name Siri. I would not be friends with someone so annoyingly named and yet she lives in all of my devices. I get that they were trying to go with the uncommon as to trigger fewer false positives but come on. The technology HAS to be there. My inner nerd would love something like Hal, or Jarvis, or my childhood favorite, Alfred. Even some mild swearing would cheer me up. By the way, as long as I’m asking for features, I would love to be able to choose a salty assistant. One that would swear back at me…

“Hey Alfred” “What now dumbshit?”

Soft serve delivery

It snowed.

Way more than normal but no need to name the storm or add a dramatic made up term to it like blizzaster. It just snowed a bunch and now it’s cold. Anyone who lives around here understands the science involved.

You shovel as much of the heavy snow as you can as many times as you can over the course of a twelve hour storm. Get things as clean as possible knowing full well that the plow drivers are going to unintentionally screw you overnight. They have to go at speed to clear the streets which sends waves of brown slush arcing everywhere.

The next day if it’s cold you have no shot at cleaning anything even if you bought all the ice melt in the area. You can try but it’s a fools errand. So when I heard a delivery truck out front and realized that my duck blind was blinder than normal…

I got to the front door just in time to see my delivery dude go ass over teacup and my box take flight. When he handed me my package he had the nerve to bitch at me about the ice on my frozen surface of the moon driveway. No mention about flinging my package which happened to be a drunken kickstarter frying pan but he didn’t know that.

Why don’t you move somewhere warm where someone as soft as you are will have a better chance at survival?

I got nothing in response and he couldn’t even hurry away as he had to traverse back down the ice field. I stayed at the door until he climbed back in his truck knowing he would glance back up at me and when he did I waived.