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Sunday, July 09, 2006

We have to sour the milk.




First off, let me start this out by saying that I fully support legal immigration to America. If you follow the proper channels and you obtain citizenship legally, welcome to America! However, if you sneak over the border, if you ride over the border in a truck or someone smuggles you in here, then I have nothing but contempt for you. As an American citizen, I don’t want the trash, the criminals, and the low-lifes of other countries taking up residence on the streets of my city and I refuse to supply them with aid, comfort, or welfare. Thankfully, I’m not alone in my views or my beliefs but you could never tell that from watching the liberal media.

Illegal immigration is a big problem for America and many people have asked me about my opinions on the subject. Suffice it to say that this subject is rather touchy as it hits pretty close to home in some aspects so I have to walk on eggs whenever I talk about it for fear of hurting or angering some people’s feelings.

Here’s my honest, educated opinion on the matter; illegal immigration is …, well, illegal.

Duh.

No, it didn’t take a real big leap of common sense to arrive at that conclusion but for a large percentage of the population of this great country (and a large part of that large percentage is composed of the illegal immigrants their selves), they just don’t seem to understand it that it is wrong to enter a country without invitation and to take advantage of the people of that country for your own benefit. Now, as a police officer in my community, I consider anything “illegal” to be “wrong” as well by default and therefore it is something that should not only be stopped but should also be punished as well. Traditionally, you stop bad behavior by punishing the person acting badly, whether this is a child throwing a tantrum or an adult caught in the commission of a criminal act. You punish wrong behavior and you reward good behavior. However, over the last few decades, certain segments of this great country have taught us that we should reward bad behavior and punish good behavior.

Then, of course, you get the liberals in on the argument with their silly “there is no right or wrong, just different shades of gray” touchy feely brand of nonsense logic. These are the same people who have told us that it is politically incorrect that we call these trespassers for what they are … “illegal immigrants.” No. The liberals don’t want to hurt the feelings of these freeloaders so they ask us to not refer to them as “illegal aliens” or “illegal immigrants” but rather that we should refer to them as “undocumented citizens.” Do you see the error in that line of thought? If we start referring to “illegal immigrants” as “undocumented citizens” then we get into the mindset of thinking that these trespassers are “citizens” but that they are having a problem with their paperwork rather than the fact that these trespassers are not “citizens” and that the reason they are having a problem with their paperwork, or the reason why they are “undocumented” is because they are here illegally. You see, political correctness is a mindset which is corrosive to traditional American values because it’s like sugarcoating a razor blade, it hides the ugly beneath a layer of sweetness and lets you overlook the danger if you don’t go poking too deep.

As many of my visitors know by now, I am anything but politically correct (and I hate those who are) so if you are a bleeding heart liberal or you have a warm, soft spot for “illegal immigrants” then my suggestion is that you stop reading right now otherwise you’re probably going to get your feelings hurt and bent all out of shape due to liberal guilt and a feeling of not deserving what you have worked so hard for.

I’m different. I work hard for my money and to take care of my family. I feel that I not only deserve all that I make and all that I get but I am also tired of having to pay for people who are unwilling to work to support their own families. I am tired of having to give part of my hard earned money, in the form of taxes, to people who do not deserve it in the first place. The difference between myself and an illegal immigrant is that I am a citizen of this great country and I deserve all the rights and privileges that come from that basic fact whereas the illegal immigrant has no such claim. When I look at my paycheck and I see how much money goes to lazy, generation welfare recipients or to pay for social programs to help people who are here illegally, it really makes my blood boil. America rewards failure and we do so very handsomely. America not only rewards failure, but this country embraces failure, encourages failure, and congratulates failure when it spreads. We love failure! If anyone doubts these statements, just look at the current status of our social welfare programs and the public education system.

“Undocumented citizens.” Now, doesn’t that sound so much nicer than “illegal aliens” or “illegal immigrants”? “Undocumented citizens” is such a better, more polite term to use around these poor people and we, as a polite America, really don’t want to be thought of as mean spirited or evil. Woe be on to us if we were to actually go and hurt the itty, bitty, tender little feelings of these poor, unfortunate people who are trying to take everything they can get without going through the proper process of applying for it. We wouldn’t want to be accused, as a nation, of upsetting the feelings of the freeloaders, now would we?

“Undocumented citizens.” What a load of PC bullspit. We’ve been steered toward this way of thinking by extending every courtesy, social program, and privilege we can to people who do not deserve these things in the first place. Sometimes, it seems like we’re more concerned with people who aren’t even citizens of our country than we are with the welfare and safety of people who actually are citizens of our own country.

The liberals want to allow the children of illegal immigrants to go to school for free, to get hot meals for free, to receive extensive government aide and comfort all for free. There are American citizens out there who can’t get the kind of free aid that some illegal immigrants are getting. The liberals want illegal immigrants, who are not citizens of this country, to be given the right to vote (an inherent right of citizenship in this great country) hopefully so they’ll vote more liberals into office. The liberals (California comes to mind in particular) actually want to give the right to drive on our roads by giving illegal immigrants driver’s licenses. It’s not hard to make the jump from driver’s licenses to voting rights. How many other countries do you know of in the world where you, a citizen of the United States (and not a citizen of the country you are thinking of) could cast a vote in a political event in that country?

None. However, some people in America want that to happen. No, it doesn’t make sense to me either but then I have a brain and a college education, two things I find to be lacking in most liberal minded people.

Now, it seems to me that giving an illegal immigrant a driver’s license is tantamount to rewarding failure (something that America has become very good at in the last two decades). Giving an illegal immigrant a driver’s license would be like giving a thief a license to steal or perhaps a “get out of jail free” card. It’s not hard to see how giving a thief either of those entitlements would get that thief to vote for the politician who managed to swing those entitlements through the legal processes.

Illegal immigration is wrong and it must be stopped. The problem is, there is talk of amnesty for those illegal immigrants who are already here. That, too, is rewarding failure. If you are going to extend amnesty to those who are stealing from us, then you might as well open the jails and let every petty thief and crook out as well because you are rewarding the same kind of behavior. In fact, I would venture to say that if illegal immigrants are extended any form of amnesty, that there could be legal precedence for anyone who ever trespassed or stole property to take America to court and be forgiven on the same grounds. A thief is a thief, no matter how pretty you dress them up or what title you give to them.

We’ve been told that we cannot deport the illegal immigrant population of America because that would cost the Federal government too much money. It would ruin labor industries like the crop growers and farmers. Deporting these freeloaders would be like slitting Lady Liberty’s wrists, it would be suicide for America.

I have to call bullspit on that as this is just more liberal protectionism for a group of people who have no right to be here in the first place and even less right to any government aid. The problem is that America is not serious about its borders. We’ve already had terrorists sneak in from our neighbor to the North (Canada). Our Southern border (Mexico) is wide open and while there is always lots of talk on both sides, nothing really is being done (politics as usual). IMHO, the only people who have less of a right to be in America are our own politicians. At least the illegal immigrants do an honest day’s work for pay, I can’t say that about most politicians.

Now, what I find so ironically hilarious is the fact that while America has a severe illegal immigration problem, Mexico, in contrast, is deadly serious about protecting its own borders against freeloaders and trash from its neighbor countries. Recently, on a talk radio show, an Australian journalist told of how many steps it took to get the proper paperwork to just visit Mexico for a few days to cover a sporting event. Mexico, in contrast to America, is serious about their borders while the Mexican government has openly stated that America is wrong for trying to stop Mexicans from coming to America. What they mean is that the more freeloaders that can leave Mexico and go North to America, the better.

I don’t have a lot of respect for the Mexican government or their policies on immigration, especially in regard to the immigration of their citizens to my country.

I am wholly against blanket amnesty because that rewards failure. I’m glad that so many illegal immigrants have contributed so much to this country, but that does not negate the fact that they are illegal immigrants and that they broke the law in the first place in order to be able to do all of that good. I don’t believe that we should reward failure.

Period.

The recent demonstrations by illegal immigrants in America should have been both a wake up call as well as a golden opportunity. Think about it. What a glorious opportunity we had and we wasted it. Illegal immigrants staged a walk-out in protest. Illegal immigrants! If I had been law enforcement, I would have let every illegal immigrant who wanted to protest to stupidly show up in one place then I would have rounded them all up, checked them for papers and if they really were illegal immigrants, I would have had trucks ready to haul them off and I would have deported them back to their country of origin. Instead of an opportunity to snatch hundreds if not thousands of these people up in one place at one time, we just watched it on the news. Imagine if the protests had been by Islamic terrorists who were wanting changes at the Guantanamo prison complex? Would we have done something about it?

I wonder if we would… Given the current state of the liberal media and our own politicians, I really wonder if we would have done anything other than to make sure that the protests were plastered all over the liberal media channels 24 / 7. I also firmly believe that if we did indeed find out that thousands of terrorists who had been in hiding in this country were to come out and protest the conditions in Cuba, that if we tried to arrest them we’d be firmly told by the Left and the liberals that we were violating their right to freedom of speech. That’s how my country works, liberalism is a social cancer that is eating our country alive from the inside out. What the “Reds” couldn’t do with communism, the Left is doing with liberalism.

So, if the Federal government says it can’t do anything about the illegal immigrant population (or they are unwilling to do so since it is so politically unpleasant and hot at the moment) then I have some ideas.

First off, since the Cold War is over, I see no reason why we need to keep active military bases in Europe, particularly in Germany and France. Since these two countries opposed us during the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq (when it was eventually learned that France, Germany, and Russia were all profiting nicely from deals with Iraq…), then I suggest that we pull those troops and equipment back to America. We build new bases, in the border states, and we use those troops to police our own vulnerable Southern border. Imagine the boom to local commerce that all of those troops and their families would bring! Imagine how tight we could lock our borders down with actual US armed forces personnel and equipment on duty. Let Germany and France cry for all the lost revenue to their local incomes when our bases pack up and head home.

We need to build a wall along our Southern border and seriously enforce the immigration policies. A serious wall with barbed wire or electric wire along the top to discourage going over, too tall to go over, too smooth to climb up and too wide to go around. The wall needs to be high enough that it cannot be easily negotiated. We have access to a wide array of high technology, we could monitor the border outside and inside the wall with a variety of passive and active thermal, infra-red and visual sensors, RPVs, drones, and a host of stuff I probably haven’t even heard of yet (and probably don’t have the security clearance to know about either). Anyone attempting to climb or breach the wall would be met first with a verbal warning in English and Spanish, then with a warning shot, and finally with whatever force was required to cause the perpetrators to immediately cease their actions and leave the area of the wall. Such force would range from non-lethal, to less-than-lethal all the way up to lethal if need be.

That pretty much secures the Southern border and should bring illegal immigration down into the low single digit percentages from where it now is. The problem is that once we seal the border, we still have a great many illegal immigrants living inside the fence we have just erected. How do we deal with all of the illegal immigrants already living in America?

The answer is simple: we sour the milk.

We do what?!

We sour the milk of the breasts of Lady Liberty that these freeloaders are suckling from each and every day.

Long time visitors to my site know that I love (and love to make fun of) science fiction but science fiction can teach you a lot. One such lesson is how to sour the milk. I draw this lesson from a rather unique episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Let me summarize the episode for those of you who may not be familiar with it though I may get some of the details wrong. If I do, please don’t send me hateful raving fanboy email to correct me as I’ll simply ignore you. The details aren’t important, the lesson or moral of the story is. The starship Enterprise (under the command of Jean Luc Picard) makes contact with a pair of giant alien creatures who live in space. These space going organisms are huge and I think they are a pair. One has a smaller organism (“baby”) attached to it which somehow is attracted over to the starship Enterprise and attaches itself to the back of the Enterprise.

The rest of the episode deals with how the crew of the starship can gently get rid of this baby alien (which is sucking their vital power and draining what they have to live / travel on) without killing it. They try everything, including opening the shuttle bay (right under it) and venting high pressure atmosphere out beneath it in an attempt to dislodge the alien baby and get it off the Enterprise. You see, the baby alien is freeloading from their power and causing all amount of problems but the Prime Directive which guides the Federation in its operation prevents the crew from simply using a phaser to blast the troublesome creature from the hull and get on with their lives … sound familiar? The head engineer finally comes up with an idea. The crew has to “sour the milk.” Since the baby is, in effect, suckling off of the Enterprise like it was the baby’s mother, the crew must change the polarity or “taste” of the energy that the baby alien is sucking on in order to make the power unappealing. After several tries, this idea works and the Enterprise not only gets the baby alien creature to stop robbing them of power, but they also manage to deliver it safe and sound back to the care of its parents in space. And they live happily ever after. The End.

When it comes to illegal immigrants, America can take a lesson from this episode of Star Trek: TNG and “sour” our own “milk.” My own politically incorrect belief is that since these people are illegal immigrants, trespassers and freeloaders, they shouldn’t have any rights of citizenship and that includes any rights or protection found under the Constitution of the United States. However, as Americans, we simply cannot go around and just beat up every illegal immigrant. No, that would not be “souring the milk.”

In order to sour the milk, we have to remove all of the luxuries, rights and benefits that illegal immigrants have come to bank on and desire when they head towards our great country. First off, I would revoke the stupid idea where if a baby is born on US soil, it automatically becomes a US citizen. That bit of silliness simply has to stop right now. I would revise it to say that if a baby is born to foreign nationals on US soil, then the baby is the same citizenship as its parents. If both of its parents are illegal immigrants then the child’s citizenship reverts to the same citizenship as the parents, and if that is in question, then it reverts to the citizenship of the father. If they want to fight over that fact, let them work it out in a foreign court.

A rather harsher way to deal with this abuse (and one which would cost us taxpayers a lot of money) would be to simply snatch the baby away, declare it a US citizen, then deport the parents and put the child up for adoption to legal, US citizens. There are a lot of people in this country who want to adopt children. It is my opinion that children should not be used as some kind of a golden ticket for parents who are illegal immigrants, children should not be used as legal or political leverage and the way to stop this is to stop rewarding the failure of the system. Stop granting citizenship automatically to children born of non-citizens. If illegal immigrants bear children on US soil in an attempt to gain citizenship or favor through their child being branded an automatic citizen by right of birth, then take the child away, give it to a loving US family, and deport the real parents. This punishes their behavior. A child is a gift, it is not a tool to be used as some kind of crowbar to force your way into a better life.

Now, in the early years of our great country, law enforcement in the new territories was often handed over to individuals who had proven their selves. Lawmen were few and far between in those times so individuals often took up the call. Vigilantes and other tough hombres took up the job when regular lawmen could not. Rewards were posted for wanted criminals and bounty hunting became a profession if not a way of life for some people in the Old West. I see no reason why we can't reinstitute this practice in a modern day venue. Bounty hunters exist today, going after bail jumpers. It wouldn’t be that far a stretch to extend bounty hunting to going after illegal immigrants.

Think about it. The Federal government does not have to do anything about illegal immigration except acknowledge it as a problem and validate sanctions against illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants cost the average tax payer a lot of money each year. We support them even though they are not citizens (and have no true rights at all). I’m sure that if we offered a bounty of $2500.00 USD for each illegal immigrant captured and brought to a US immigration center, that a whole industry would spring up almost overnight. I myself know that I could round myself up a brand new Corvette in about an afternoon alone and that’s just counting the illegal immigrants one county over from where I work. You may balk at a bounty on illegal immigrants but if the Federal government paid $2500 per immigrant, to private individuals, to be rid of that immigrant, then that would probably be a drop in the bucket compared to what it would cost the government to allow that immigrant to stay for one year.

Bounties and bounty hunters. Of course, we might pay less for children, say only a thousand per child but there would be a bonus for getting a whole family at once, the larger the extended family, the bigger the bonus. I’m sure that there are stalwart individuals out there who would rise to the challenge and shoulder the burden and I, as an American citizen, would be only too happy to let some of my tax money go to pay the reward for removing the illegal immigrants. The real challenge would be in getting the Federal government not only to properly staff its immigration offices (and to have enough offices to handle the new out-flux of illegal immigrants), but also to enforce its policies (policies which, sadly, seriously need to be revamped). Getting rid of illegal immigrants by using American citizens who were legally deputized or chartered to capture, hold and deliver illegal immigrants is the easy part. Processing them would be the hard part. It would be up to the government to clear these illegal immigrants through the border and return them to their country of origin. Once again, I’m sure that a one way airline ticket to the Middle East is far less expensive than maintaining an illegal alien for a year. Databases would have to be created and maintained as well as monitored. The business of removing illegal immigrants could become a bigger profit than letting them stay! Why, just think of all the extra government jobs that such a program would create!

Yes, the key to getting rid of illegal immigrants is to make getting rid of illegal immigrants a business, a really big business open to any and all entrepreneurs and a highly profitable business at that. After all, there is a hell of a big job to be done and we need to reward the individuals that rise to the occasion. Another idea is that we could start televising illegal immigrant round ups. Popular bounty hunters or bounty hunting groups could have their own fan clubs, it could eclipse the popularity of shows like “COPS” and “Dog: The Bounty Hunter” in no time at all. Imagine seeing some tough posse of American bounty hunters raiding an apartment complex and walking away with a bunch of illegal immigrants in restraints. We’d, of course, offer higher rewards for known criminals who had committed crimes in America or who were, perhaps, wanted by other countries. Hell, bounty hunters could even have their own fan clubs and we could keep track of their stats like we do with professional sports players. We could even have annual “super bowls” of bounty hunting where individuals and teams competed to see who could rack up the highest score, the biggest cash rewards. Think about it! We could even bring in sponsors to endorse the more popular hunters / teams and use them to test out new surveillance, capture and restraint systems. The possibilities are unlimited.

So far, we have locked down the border and we have created an incentive for private individuals to take up the burden (and be rewarded for their work).

Now, we have to make America a place that is not very friendly to illegal immigrants. No, that doesn’t mean that we go around beating up every foreigner that we see, that would be un-American. No, we don’t even have to touch the first illegal immigrant in order to make them want to leave America as fast as possible. These people are here because they are being rewarded for breaking the law. They aren’t rewarding their selves, they are being rewarded by farming combines, by businesses who want dirt cheap labor and who want to cook their books in order to get it. They are being rewarded by selfish, greedy Americans who are more concerned with the bottom line than with the welfare of the nation. We can’t punish the mule that is following the carrot on the stick, we have to punish the people who tied the carrot to the stick and stuck it out in front of the mule in the first place. We don’t punish the mule that pulls the cart, we punish the cart owners who lured the mule into the harness in the first place.

So, we don’t go after illegal immigrants with a vengeance, no, we go after the individuals and people who employ the illegal immigrants. If anyone who holds public office is found to employ illegal immigrants, that person will be fined and removed from office. Corporations and businesses who employ illegal workers will be fined $100,000 for each instance plus the personnel who hired the illegal workers as well as the owners of the company in question may face further legal prosecution and personal jail time if it can be proved that they knew about the illegal hiring practices and agreed to go along with them. We have to make it undesirable to employ these poor people in the conditions under which they are employed.

If a company uses company assets to transport illegal immigrants into this country, then those assets will be immediately seized and sold at public auction. That means if a poultry plant uses one of its semi-trucks to make a run down into Mexico to bring back a whole tractor trailer rig of cheap human labor, the rig will be seized and sold, the company will be fined for each immigrant brought back, the driver will be fined and face legal prosecution and other extended charges will apply to anyone in the company who both knew about this as well as authorized this practice. The illegal immigrants will be taken to the nearest processing center, processed, and shipped back to their home.

We have to “sour the milk.”

We need to make our country “illegal immigration” unfriendly. We need to make it to where there is no reason anyone would want to come to this country illegally because they know that if they do get here, they’re only going to find that there are no jobs for them, no government benefits, and a long line of eager bounty hunters looking to make a quick buck by finding them and taking them to the nearest immigration office for a fat reward. We could even extend the bounty on illegal immigrants to anyone who reported them or turned them in, thus businesses could make a nice bonus by accepting applications for employment from illegal immigrants and then forwarding that information to the appropriate authorities. It would quickly become known that you did not go to America because you would not be able to find any place to live, there would be a price on your head and everyone would be looking to turn you in for some quick cash. Pretty soon, we’d have illegal immigrants fleeing this country of their own accord (and that might not be such a bad thing). Hell, I look forward to the day when the US Coast Guard doesn’t find one Cuban in the water on some make-shift boat.

Illegal immigration enforcement needs to start now and it should have started years ago when the World Trade Center was destroyed. We need to punish those who take advantage (and encourage) illegal immigration into our country and we need to do it with a heavy hand. We need to punish failure, not reward it. I know it is a difficult concept to embrace after several decades of being told otherwise but the sooner we take control of our borders and our own country, the better we’ll sleep at night.

Oh, and for how we would deport all of those illegal immigrants from Mexico back to Mexico, well, the NAFTA agreement is a fine and dandy piece of legislation. It allows trucks from Mexico to enter the United States and pass on to Canada as well as return. I say on their way back to Mexico, we stop them at the border, load them up with processed illegal immigrants as passengers outbound and send them on their way back down South. It’s time that Mexicans got serious about their own country. If they really are the hard workers that they are purported to be, then let them fix their own country first before they try to come to America and work here. Our country is in a hell of a lot better shape than Mexico. If they are so proud of their heritage and their country, why do they come here? If they are such great workers, why is their country so poor? I wonder what Mexico would think if they started getting all of their documented citizens back as surplus?

An opponent of my beliefs once tried to argue for illegal immigration by saying that “the illegal immigrant is just trying to feed his family of six kids and his wife and he can’t do that in Mexico so he’s just doing what any man would by sneaking into America and trying to find work.” My reply was; “When it comes to children, if you can’t feed them, then don’t fuck and keep on making them. If you can’t feed one, how do you expect to feed six?” The logic of that simple truth was apparently lost on him.

The real truth is that it is not my responsibility to provide relief and aid for someone who isn’t a citizen of my country, who sneaks into my country expecting to circumvent the law for their own benefit and who isn’t smart enough to keep their own dick under control. That’s his problem, not mine. If he wants to work hard, let him work in his country. I work hard to feed my own wife and child, the last thing I need is another eight mouths to feed, mouths who aren’t even my neighbors or rightful citizens of my country, coming out of my paycheck.

Sour the milk. Lock down the border. Punish those who employ and give shelter to illegal immigrants. Make highly visible examples out of them. Turn the process of rounding up and extraditing illegal immigrants into a business, a big American business and make it more profitable to the American economy than employing the illegal immigrants illegally in the first place. Televise the major points of the campaign, turn it into a reality TV show, add sponsors like NASCAR, turn it into a sport with teams, rankings, statistics and a year end championship showdown between the best of the best! That’s the American way!

I’m not against legal immigration.

I’m also for vastly reforming the immigration program as well. I realize that one of the reasons why there are so many illegal immigrants is because the program has flaws and that these people are desperate since the system is failing them. At the same time, I don’t want just anyone to be able to come into my country to live. We, as Americans, should have standards in order to come and live in our country. If we’re going to be changing things, we might as well change that tired old saying of “give us your poor, etc. etc.” Yes, I’d like to be able to pick and choose who calls America home. We have enough retards living here as it is, we don’t need to start importing them from other countries.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

"I like my sports cars a little on the trashy side.”

Recently I bought a car on Ebay and not just any car because cars are not (and never have been) "just" transportation for me. Quite the opposite. I love sports cars and the sleeker and faster they are, the more I love them. Like the agitated criminal says in the cult classic movie "ROBOCOP" ...

"I want something that goes really fast and gets really shitty gas mileage!"

I paraphrase … greatly, I doth.

Oh, and the car I drive has to be black. It's just a prerequisite of mine. Yes, I like my sports cars a little on the trashy side and that's why I bought a black Trans Am. Yes, you heard right... I bought a black Pontiac Trans Am.

A 20 year old black Pontiac Trans Am.

Now, as anyone with a high school education knows, a black Pontiac Trans Am is the absolute definition of an OTR truck driver's dream come true. Trans Am: the preferred transportation choice of well to do double wide-dwelling trailer park royalty (whereas the plebeians and peasants in the trailer park must suffice with driving around in old beat up Berlinettas and black smoke belching IROC-Zs (often sporting big stylized #3 decals (with a halo and angel wings) on the rear windows...)).

For what it is worth, I feel a certain brotherly kinship to the Pontiac Trans Am for you see; the TA and I were born in the same year, 1969, a turbulent year to be sure. My own birth was in June of The Summer of Love, the mid point through a year in history that brought forth the fire breathing Pontiac Trans Am and the outrageous Pontiac GTO Judge. 1969 was a year when America (the greatest country in the world) put a man on the Moon, a year when the monster Hurricane Camille wiped out the Mississippi Gulf Coast and a year when the hippies and flower children all got together at a field in New York and had Woodstock. 1969 was a very special and very interesting year; each one of those events listed above, including my birth, would have long lasting, long reaching consequences for many people.

Right from the very start, the Pontiac Trans Am and I were both destined for trouble, fast trouble, fun trouble, on both sides of the law. It was neck and neck there for awhile in the late '80's and early ‘90’s to see which one of us would die first, me or the legend that was the Pontiac Trans Am. At one point (and with some of the questionable quasi-legal company that I used to run with), it looked like the hands down winner of the bet on who would survive the longest would be the Pontiac TA (and that I would be dead and gone long before GM decided to ax the F-body).

Somehow, through luck, skill, and not a little divine intervention, both the Trans Am and I survived the end of the '60's, through the 70's, through the '80's and even through the '90's into the 21st century. Hippie music, surf music, pop music, disco, punk, new wave, heavy metal, speed metal, grunge, alternative, rap. We’ve seen it all come and go (well, except rap which seems to be more of a social cancer than a form of music...). We’ve seen 8 tracks, vinyl records, and cassettes come and go as well. Together, the Pontiac Trans Am and I made it into the 21st century and when we did, we both looked back on where we had started, where we had been, and how far we had both come through some of the most troubled and interesting decades in human history. We both breathed a deep sigh of relief and laughed at what a wild, reckless ride just getting out of the 20th century alive and un-crippled had been. It had been a turbulent journey across four decades together, side by side, year after year, change after change, through thick and thin, good and bad.

Suddenly it was all over and just like that I was alone.

GM killed the F-body, at the height of its technological advancement, at a time when the F-body was kicking the Mustang’s hiney all over the street, GM just rolled over and exposed their belly to Ford, giving them first place in the nearly 40 year long Pony Car war. Yes, GM in their finite wisdom, handed Ford the Pony Car market all to their own. I guess this was done so GM could concentrate their effort on building more lackluster SUVs and ridiculous stuff like the Pontiac Aztec and the Chevy SSR. In an age when even the GTO has become nothing more than a rebadged import, GM managed in one fell stroke to kill off its only two remaining lines of performance credibility with the youth market. What really added insult to injury was that when GM did this, they also alienated a lot of long time buyers (such as myself) who value tradition, heritage and model history more than the bottom line.

Yes, all that fun and excitement came to sudden, abrupt end in 2002 and now it is official. I have outlived the Pontiac Trans Am. I’m sad because I mourn the passing of a good friend who suffered a rather untimely death through no fault of their own. Not many people can lay claim to having been born right along with one of the most popular and influential cars in American automotive and pop culture history let alone grow up with that car and watch it change with you from year to year.

What a great run we both had but the Pontiac Trans Am is gone and I'm afraid that she’s gone forever. GM may bring back the Camaro, in a few years, but they’ll never bring back the Firebird (or the Trans Am) because the truth is, they don’t need two F-bodies. With Generic Motors’ consistent infusion of blandness into their product lines, having two F-bodies (which were little different save in name and just enough sheet metal to cosmetically tell them apart) would not be a wise decision, especially given the amount of fiscal trouble that GM is already in today (but then GM is anything but a wise decision maker lately so who knows...?).

Now, we’ve talked a little bit about the sad, tragic death of the Pontiac Firebird and the Trans Am so let’s talk about its life and what a glorious life it did have!

Trans Am.

Clap hands.

So American.

… Said with a tip of the old cowboy hat to one of my favorite bands, Wall of Voodoo. And speaking of voodoo ... that's just what the Trans Am is, baby! Part muscle car, part pure voodoo. Black magic, Santa Ria, bad mojo, and unlike the Chevy Camaro Z28 (which had more reincarnations than Shirley MacLaine), once the Trans Am was introduced to the automotive market place, it never quit from its humble beginning to its inglorious end.

The Pontiac Firebird Trans Am appeared with a bang as a separate model of Firebird in 1969 and the TA lasted all the way to the bitter end of the line when the Camaro and Firebird were prematurely put out to the pasture, Ole’ Yellar style, by GM’s short yellow bus riding upper echelon executives in 2002. Unlike Chevy and the Camaro Z28, there wasn't a single point in that long 33 year span of time where Pontiac didn't build and market a Trans Am. The Trans Am had something that few other cars in its market could lay claim to: staying power. The Camaro Z28 model name came and went depending on the ebb and flow of the market (and for several years was relegated to nothing but a badge and stripe package) but the Trans Am soldiered on undaunted, through ever decreasing engine sizes, oil embargos, soaring insurance premiums, lackluster performance, decreasing national speed limits, the introduction of lower octane unleaded fuels, the catalytic converter and through a constant invasion of well-intentioned but narrow minded, lobbyist fed safety Nazis. It was the Trans Am that carried the high performance torch for the F-body through the darkest times, not the Camaro Z28 (which had a nasty habit of going AWOL whenever things started looking the darkest for the genre). The Pontiac Trans Am was, more than anything else, a survivor. Through it all, thick and thin, good times and bad, the Pontiac Trans Am survived and not only did it survive, it thrived in great numbers.

While other car makers were running around the doom and gloom of the ‘70’s with their heads up their asses trying to appease the Federal government and the zealous Nader-ites, Pontiac was running around pretending it was the 1960’s all over again. 400s and 455s, big cubes, lots of torque and in an industry where bland had become the motivating trend, Pontiac’s Firebird model offerings were the leading edge of styling, aerodynamics, handling and performance. The Trans Am had something most other cars of the time didn’t have; character. It had personality and it had a bad attitude as well as the balls to back up its image and its swagger on the street and track. That is what set the Trans Am apart from its also-ran counterpart, the Camaro Z28.

Indeed, in the 1970's, the Trans Am’s main goal was not to beat the Camaro Z28 (which it could do with relative ease), no, the Trans Am had the Chevrolet Corvette in its sights and on several occasions the Pontiac Trans Am often out muscled Chevy's fiberglass assed beauty queen on the street, at the drag strip and kept up with it on the skid pad thanks to the constant refinement of the WS6 suspension system. Pretty impressive. The Firebird can lay claim to several famous people putting hands on the car during its life; John Schinella, John Delorean, and Herb Adams (the "father" of the Trans Am and the leading designer of the legendary WS6 suspension system) all gave part of their soul to the magic that formed the character of the Trans Am.

So what is the mystique surrounding the Pontiac Firebird and Trans Am?

Well, you see, the Firebird always appealed to the more educated F-body buyers. Firebird buyers were, statistically, better educated, more professional, higher on the social ladder and had more yearly income than Camaro owners. Pontiac was the fun provider at GM for the youth market; something they have, sadly, long since lost sight of if they haven’t gone completely blind in that regard. Firebird owners represented a more discriminating buyer, a more informed buyer, a smarter, better educated buyer who didn’t want the stigma of owning a Camaro. Yes, we may all have been GM owners, but Pontiac Firebird owners were always a breed apart from their Chevy Camaro counterparts, and it was a better breed to be sure, a different breed.

The Trans Am was different from all the rest, much like myself, and that’s why I liked the Trans Am way back then. That’s probably why I still like the Trans Am today. The Trans Am is what it is and it is unashamed in being so, again, much like myself. Birds of a feather, flock together, or so they say. I can understand that bit of philosophy, just as I can understand the bit that says "you are what you drive." though I would have to reverse that and say "you drive what you are." For me, that means a no apologies, balls to the wall, stand out in any group, part the crowd when you walk through, not easy to forget kind of car. For me, that means a Pontiac Trans Am. It fits me. It fits my nature, my personality, and my character.

It’s a real shame that America doesn’t build a sports car like this anymore. TA: another wonderful piece of Americana laid to rest for all time.

R.I.P.

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

1969 to 2002

Dead at 33 years young; you will be missed, old friend. It really is true what they say, “the good die young” which probably explains why the Pontiac Firebird is long gone and the Ford Mustang is still around.

Oh, my brothers and sisters, gather your glorious Pontiac Firebirds while you still can because they don't make cars like this anymore and truth be known, they probably never will again. The Firebird was from a different era, a better era, an era when cars could be fire breathing, oboisterous hooligan machines, not the lackluster metrosexual inspired, environmentally friendly, fuel sipping pregnant roller skates that are offered for sale today by GM and Ford.

No. The future for performance is darker today than it ever was in the 1970’s. The future holds no more muscular, affordable V8s, no more unashamed graphics and instantly recognizable aerodynamics, no more big fat tires, no more deep burbling exhausts, no more hood scoops ...

... and no more T-tops.

Pontiac once claimed that they built excitement and they may have … a long time ago in a generation far, far away but today Pontiac does not build excitement. Today, nothing that rolls out of GM can be described as “exciting” by using any stretch of the definition of the word. No, the cars that GM and the other manufacturers are producing today are nice cars, tidy cars, quiet cars, efficient and environmental friendly cars. The cars rolling off the assembly lines in Detroit today have all the charisma of a girl with Downs Syndrome working a kissing booth at a charity event.

It’s time to face the bitter and long overdue music, folks.

Today's cars are boring, criminally boring and while they may be Ralph Nader’s wet dream, they are a traditional performance enthusiast’s greatest nightmare. The cars produced today have truly become “just” transportation. They have no personality. They have no character. They barely have enough power to get out of their own way let alone break loose a long strip of rubber from a dead stop. The cars of contemporary times are full of apologies; apologies to the trees and environment, to the air and ozone, to all creatures great and small and gushing apologies to generations yet to come. The cars of today are apologizing over and over again for the cars of yesterday. They are sorry that their ancestors wasted your children's irreplaceable fossil fuels in the vulgar amounts and reckless abandon that they once did. The cars of our contemporary times are built in mass lots with very little originality. If you walk out into the parking lot of a mall, all you see is row and row of the same thing, a vast sea of multi-hued mediocrity.

Nothing stands out.

Nothing on the road or in the parking lot (let alone on the grounds of the local dealers) grabs your attention or demands that you look at it with anything more than a passing glance. Cars today even sound dull. Cars today are not exciting, they are timid, meek constructs that mewl instead of growl. Their motors hum like sewing machines, their exhausts blow like a breeze, you can't hear any wind noise from inside and there is no feel from the road. It's like getting nitrous in a dentist's chair, everything is just bland (right down to the really bad pop fusion playing on cheap speakers) and you feel nothing because you don't care to feel anything. Everything about today's cars is completely predictable and thoroughly worth ignoring. Automakers don't takes chances any more, no one produces a car just to produce a car or just because they can. No, cars today have to be carefully weighed and balanced against a large list of criteria that mean something only to those who are actually producing these ridiculous excuses for personal transportation. I think that the first and foremost criteria that is used in deciding on whether or not to build a new car is if it is completely boring or not. If it has any trace of personality, it probably gets cut early from the design process.

Cars today make everyone happy except the people who actually have to buy them and subsequently drive them. The cars of today are smaller. They’re made out of more plastic than metal and even the interiors have lost all semblance of fun or originality. Quality control has gone straight down hill and everything in these cars and trucks feels like you’re going to break it off if you grab on it too hard. Cars have gone from muscular, unforgiving rebels to dainty, overly apologizing wallflowers. Cars today are made with the cheapest parts all in the hope for the fattest bottom line. Cars today have no pride and no joy because they have no soul. They have no identity of their own, no charisma, no personality, nothing to set them apart from any other car on the road. Cars have no history, no past. The new model you see advertised today won't be available in five years and won't be remembered at all in ten. No, cars today have been regulated and relegated into the realm of abject mediocrity. Mediocrity loves company.

I don't drive mediocre cars.

Life is too short to drive mediocre cars.

No. I drive a car that moves through traffic like a recently paid sailor through a discount brothel. I drive a car that is what it is and makes no apologies for being so. I drive an American sports car. An American high performance sports car. A car that thumps because of the cubes that it has under the hood, not the tubes that it has in the trunk. Yes, I was buying another black Pontiac Trans Am and I was buying a 20 year old black Pontiac Trans Am at that because the stuff that GM made two decades ago still looks far better and has a lot more personality than the stuff that Generic Motors is cranking out today. Americans have always had a love affair with their automobiles but lately, it’s been more of an affair than any real love.

Now, I said I was buying a black Pontiac Trans Am but that's not exactly true so let me correct that ... I had already bought a black Pontiac Trans Am.

Again.

The catch was, even though the car was mine, fully paid for, it was four states away, waiting on me, and I had to go pick it up and drive it back home. It was the start of what would soon come to be a rather grand adventure in my life.

Yes, this would be the second black Trans Am that I have owned in my life (the first being a 1979 black and gold "Bandit" TA owned from 1986 to 1993). Here is a picture of my old car after I had restored it. I had many adventures in the '79 , some of which you can read about on the "Tales from the Driver's Seat." on SPO.





THEN






1979 Pontiac Special Edition Trans Am

I sold this particular Trans Am in 1993 to pay off the new car loan of a beautiful young woman I was dating rather seriously at the time (if by dating rather seriously I mean she wasn't taking "no" for an answer and so after a while, I just kind of gave up and let her have her way with me). Normally, this would be a pretty stupid thing to do; sell the one true friend you have had for the better part of six years just in order to make life easier for someone you are dating. Yes, it was a very stupid thing to do, in hindsight, but since I eventually married the beautiful young woman I was trying to impress and since we've been together for 12 wonderful, happy, long years now, selling the car wasn't as painful as it would have been. Now if you want to talk about painful, how about if I had sold my car to pay off her car and then she had left me for someone else shortly afterwards. That would have really have added insult to injury. So, I ended up trading one friend for another. Since I kept the original TA almost 8 years and I’ve been with my wife for 12 years with no end in sight, I guess I got a pretty good trade way back then. Of course, she may have a different opinion on the matter.

The black '79 Pontiac Trans Am is long gone and so is the little silver four door '91 Buick Skylark that my wife owned at the time. I did see my TA once again, many years later, being driven by some kids. The front end was smashed like she had hit a tree or a utility pole. I felt a stabbing pain in my heart when I saw that she was smoking. The paint was crap now but I could tell it was my car or rather that it had once been my car. I thought about turning around and chasing the kids down to see if I could buy the TA back right then and there but I realized that I didn’t really want to see the ugly truth up close.

The ’79 TA was gone forever and I could never get it back.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, "You cannot step into the same river twice." What he meant was that life is full of change and the only constant in life is change. Your past is your past and that’s where it should stay. The past is a fun place to visit from time to time but you don’t want to go back there and live. You can’t, ever, even if you really wanted to.

Ah, the memories.

1986. High school. Pepsi still came in a glass bottle with a screw on metal top. The record store was full of cassette tapes and phonograph albums, hell, you could still buy a 45RPM record of the song you just heard on the stereo. The space shuttle Challenger had just exploded shortly after launch. Regan was still in office. I was a junior in high school. I had just come out of a bad relationship. I had sold my ’78 Camaro Rally Sport and used the money to buy a 1979 black and gold Trans Am that I saw sitting on the side of the road at a used car lot, one afternoon on my way home from high school.

She was the last of the big cube TA’s with 403 cubic inches under the hood and enough torque to jerk an elephant through a keyhole. WS6 suspension. Front and rear sway bars. Four wheel disc brakes. Quick ratio power steering. 10 bolt GM built 3.73 geared positraction rear differential. Rochester Quadrajet four barrel carburetor. Custom black factory interior. Engine turned aluminum dash. Formula steering wheel. RTS Rally (or was that Radial?) Tuned Suspension emblem on the dash. Grab bar on the passenger side dash. 15x8 inch aluminum and gold colored Snowflake wheels. The “4 WHEEL DISC” decal on each door handle. "PRNDSL" on the shifter plate where "S" stood for "Super." The classic, smooth automatic shifter with its Hurst dual gate inspired ratchet style forward slap action with positive indents.

I remember the ability to do long smoky burnouts on demand, chirping the rear tires hard in second and third gear with heavy metal music cranked loud. I remember the open freedom of the removable glass T-tops and the way that the aftermarket top of the line 300 watt Kenwood stereo system sounded, a system that had cost me nearly $1500 to purchase and install back in 1986 (which was a lot of money for a 17 year old to save up and spend, believe me!)

I remember cruising on hot Summer nights with the T-tops off, the street lights reflecting off the waxed black paint job, the local night life, the clubs, the street races and the smells of the city.

Later that night, it was paradise by the dashboard lights...

I miss the shaker hood that torqued to the right when you stomped the accelerator to the floor. I miss the headers and custom dual exhausts with turbo mufflers. I miss being slammed back in your seat by the awesome torque of that 6.6 liter small block V8, enough power to get squirrelly on take off, to slide the spoiler tailed rear end around before coming out of the hole almost sideways amid a cloud of burned rubber, screaming tires and thick smoke.

I miss the smell of hot brakes, spent fuel, the hiss of air being drawn into the Rochester Quadrajet four barrel carburetor through a functional cut out shaker hood scoop, the whine of that big V8 engine, the squeal of the V-belts, the roar of the custom dual exhausts, the sound of performance radial tires on pavement screaming to get traction from a dead stop or singing like a siren of yore while the car is being slung around a corner at full power in a four wheel sliding drift; these are a few of my favorite things.

Sammy Hagar once wrote a song about his own ’79 Trans Am (it can be found on several of his albums). People write songs about cars like the Chevrolet Corvette, the Pontiac GTO and the Pontiac Trans Am. They don't write songs about Volvos, BMWs or Audis (and for damn good reasons, too). Some cars just naturally stir your soul, others exist merely as transportation (no matter how refined, well built or civilized their manufacturers may claim them to be). Someone once said “you can’t polish a turd.” What that person should have said is “nobody ever waxed nostalgic over a Saab.

Memories.

I have many, many memories of the '79 Trans Am and rather good ones at that but they are just memories of the past and that is where they should (and must) forever stay. I miss the '79 TA, to this day I truly miss that car a lot. I even looked at buying another '79 "Bandit" Trans Am and have passed up three of them in the last six months (two four speeds and one automatic), one on Ebay and two from private sellers who contacted me to try to see how much of my hard earned money they could get flowing their way. I was only too happy to disappoint some of them as I just really can't see myself driving around in a car that has two hundred feet of gold pin-striping on it and a hood decal of a bird that is nearly as tall as I am.

Buying another '79 Bandit just wasn't an option this time around. I had moved on. I had grown up. It just wasn't me, any more. It had been me at one time and now it wasn't me. It wasn’t who I was. It wasn't a car I felt comfortable with driving around in my old age; it would have been a caricature of my youth and a rather poor one at that.

No.

Now I wanted something different, something sleeker, something more ... subtle. I wanted something more refined and not as gaudy or in-your-face obnoxious as my '79 TA had been. I wanted something that, like myself, had grown up (somewhat), something that had matured (somewhat). That meant no "screaming chickens" on the hood, no two hundred feet of gold pin-striping and no huge gas guzzling, 6.6 liter engines under the hood. No Rochester Quadrajet carburetors and no dual exhausts to wake up the neighbors early in the morning when I was coming home from a long night of street racing, bar hopping and skirt chasing.

I wanted something from the mid-1980’s, as that is the time period for my high school-went, hell-bent, misspent teenage years. I wanted something high tech, something where suspension and tire technology finally caught up with horsepower and allowed the driver to get more of that horsepower to the pavement. The ’79 TA had been an awesome car to own, for its time, but now I wanted something that was refined and even if it had a smaller engine, I wanted an engine that still made more horsepower than my old 6.6 liter V8. Granted, it may not have had as much torque but it got a higher percentage of what horsepower and torque it produced to the pavement thanks to advances in suspension technology and engineering.

I wanted better handling, braking and acceleration, in that order. I wanted my cake and I wanted to be able to eat it as well. I didn't want another '79 Trans Am. I wanted a better Trans Am. A sleeker Trans Am with a lower coefficient of drag (Cd) and a higher top end. I wanted a more refined grand touring sports car, something that would be home on the street, on the curves, on the highways and interstates as well as the drag strip. I wanted a Trans Am that had matured like I had, more or less. I wanted something that would walk softly and carry a big stick.

Growing up and maturing meant, for me, a mid-80’s Trans Am, preferably with a EFI engine. I wanted something that looked good 20 years ago and still looks good today. Some car designs are timeless. A split window Stingray Corvette with mechanical fuel injection. A GTO Judge with hideaway headlights. A Hemi Barracuda with shaker hood and pistol grip. I personally think the 1985 to 1990 Trans Am is one of those timeless automotive designs. Apparently, I’m not alone in my thinking, as evidenced by this quote:

"Acclaimed as one of the most visually stunning cars ever built, the Trans Am's styling will no doubt remain timeless. ... If you think '57 Chevys still look good, you'll love the Trans Am - even 20 years from now." - John Baechtel,

"Different Strokes" comparison test,
HOT ROD MAGAZINE, August 1986

How prophetic Mr. Baechtel's words were when viewed 20 years later. I wonder if even he realizes the impact of what he once said. I wonder if he even still cares...




NOW




1986 WS6 LB9 Recaro optioned Trans Am

So, almost 20 years to the month after I bought my first black Trans Am, I am now buying my second black Trans Am. Call it fate. Call it one part brand loyalty (I've always loved Pontiacs over any other GM make or model) and one part mental retardation (I am, after all, buying another GM product...). I'd call it more loyalty than mental retardation though I'm sure that particular aspect of my reason for getting this 20 year old Trans Am is certainly a hot topic which is wide open for much heated debate.

I have a Trans Am. Not a GTA (Great Tubby Am). No, I have a Trans Am. The original. The only. The first and last and always … (with a nod to another favorite band of mine, The Sisters of Mercy.)

My new TA is black on gold and is powered by the 9.5:1 compression ratio High Output 5.0 liter (305 cubic inch) Tuned Port Injected LB9 small block V8 cranking out 205 horsepower and 270 lbs-ft of torque. The small block V8 is backed by a THM700R4 four speed automatic transmission with a deep first gear and a respectable overdrive ratio in fourth gear. The overdrive is for fuel economy and top speed. Now, while the 700R4 four speed automatic is a lot better than the THM350 three speed automatic I used to have in my ’79, you don’t buy these cars for fuel economy. These are not “grocery getters” and you don’t buy them to carpool in or take the kids to soccer.

At least sane people don’t buy these types of cars for those reasons.

After all, the kind of person (and personality) who would buy a Honda minivan and wear a tie to work is not the kind of person who would ever own and drive a Pontiac Trans Am. If you want storage space, room for the kids, fuel economy and a quiet, soft ride then there are far better designs out there for those chores; just look at any GM or import dealer lot today and you'll find many examples of vehicles designed to get you from point A to point B with minimal fuss and minimal impact on anything and everything around you. Once you buy a mini-van or a station wagon, you've lost all of your cool and you aren't ever going to get any of it back. It's a trap that too many people fall into today, they sacrifice their youth on the altar of maturity, never realizing it’s a false religion with no real long term rewards. A Trans Am is not a mini-van or a station wagon; the only thing you haul in a Trans Am is ass.

You can grow up without having to grow old. Age does not go hand in hand with maturity nor does maturity automatically come with age, this I firmly believe. A Trans Am is for someone who refuses to grow old (which is different than someone who refuses to grow up).

I also believe that I'm not old enough yet to want a level of comfort that would make Epicurus smile. Truth be known, I like my sports cars to rattle. I like to feel the engine vibration through the firewall. I like them to thump and shake over bumps and irregularities in the road. I like them to ride like a Sherman tank. I like my sports cars to let me feel the road under me, not cushion it out and to that end, I'm happy to say that my "new" Trans Am (just like my old TA) is optioned with the legendary WS6 high performance suspension.

The RPO code WS6 means that she has an Australian built 9 bolt Borg Warner heavy duty positraction rear end with four wheel disc brakes and 3.27 gears (the Borg Warner is supposedly stronger than the Dana...). She has a big ass sway bar up front, just slightly smaller sway bar in back. Specially selected coil springs. Specially selected gas charged shocks, front struts and a quick ratio power steering unit that has 2.4 turns lock to lock. She also left the factory with a set of four 16x8 high tech deep dish turbo wheels packing P245/50VR16 steel belted radials all the way around. Yes, when you own a WS6 equipped Trans Am, you have to give up some ride comfort for superior handling but then that's a sacrifice that I'm still willing to make, even at the age of 37 years young.

The ’86 TA also has a rare Recaro optioned cloth interior (the last year this option was offered by Pontiac), top of the line factory radio, optional factory performance subwoofer system, cruise control, all power, air conditioning and T-tops.

Oh! Did I mention it has T-tops?

Real Trans Ams are black and gold with T-tops. Yes, GM and God made only a few perfect Trans Ams, the rest were painted some garish color other than black (or, in a vulgar attempt to be perfect, their owners have repainted them black to in a futile effort to hide their original sin). The Trans Ams which are truly the brunt of the Maker’s ire are those which have solid roofs. Their shame is great for they cannot partake of the open air goodness that surrounds them at speed nor are they able to redirect the sweet smells of this world and of the high performance hijinks this car is more than capable of into the interior for the olfactory enjoyment of the driver and any passengers.

Yes, my brothers and sisters, it is the 21st century, 2006 A.D., the year of our Lord. It has now been four long and turbulent years since the official death of the Pontiac Firebird and subsequently the end of the proud Trans Am lineage. I am 37 years old, college educated, very happily married (first and only marriage) to the same woman (12 years we've been together, it’s her first and only marriage as well) and I have a 3 year old daughter (first and only child with whom I am well pleased). I am an IT professional, highly intelligent, well educated, quick of wit, dark on humor and I now own a 20 year old black 1986 Pontiac Trans Am (which I drive when I’m not riding my black and silver 115 horsepower 2004 Honda CBR600RR super bike).

May God have mercy on my white collar, college educated soul.

Oh, I'm sure that there is a self-help group out there somewhere for people like me and if you would kindly let me know what and where it is, I'll be sure to stay as far away from it as possible. You see, I don't want to change. I don't want to be normal or accepted or liked for what I have or for what I pretend to be. I'm not trying to be anyone I'm not.

I'm me.

I live my life with no apologies and few regrets. I'm comfortable being who I am and I am unashamed of it. I don't want to be like someone else, I want to be more like me because, truth be known, I'm a pretty interesting person. If you like me, fine. If you want to be like me, then you have problems. If you don't like me, fine. I don't have a problem with that and won't lose any sleep over it, I assure you.

I mean, owning a 1986 Trans Am, a pristine condition black 1986 Trans Am is a hell of a lot better than owning a riced out 1995 Honda Civic or a 1984 Chevy Caprice with chameleon paint, $10,000 worth of audio / video equipment in it and 24" spinners on the corners, if you ask me. Yes, it could be worse. I could own one of those four door mid-80's GM or Ford products I see tooling around with chrome wheels on them that lift the car so high off the ground that the owners need one of those step rungs you normally find on really lifted 4x4 trucks just to get out of the driver's seat. The latest craze is apparently taking one of those ridiculous cars and adding big diesel truck or freight train air horns to them to announce your presence as you cruise the mall and try to pick up teenage females outside of the local Chuck-E-Cheese. I'm not kidding. A word of advice here, guys... if you're cruising for female company at the Chuck-E-Cheese Pizza Time Theater, you're pretty damn desperate.

Now, given all of this blatant mental retardation and the effort given to calling attention to these ridiculous hip-hop fueled chariots of ire in the quickest manner possible, I feel more than confident that whatever brain damage caused me to desire to (again) own, let alone actually buy a 1986 Trans Am (off of Ebay, no less!!!), pales in comparison to the overt social retardation I see on evident and open display in today's ridiculous hip-hop driven pop culture.

Yes, the culture is full of pop and it must be burped.

Hell! I'm normal compared to the guys and girls I see cruising the local mall in automotive constructs that make you wish for the immediate return to the lackluster days of custom vans and disco music! Yep. I'm stark raving, straight edge sane compared to some of the rap supporting mutants I see rolling around the urban wasteland.

So, I have a black 1986 Pontiac Trans Am, a fully loaded, low mileage, pristine 1986 black Pontiac Trans Am with just one small catch; I have to go four states away, pick it up, and drive it home. That’s 750 miles and I have just 36 hours to do it, two days, Saturday and Sunday, one weekend. Oh! This was going to be a grand adventure, probably my last big adventure so I wanted to do it up right.

Yes, I'd always wanted to find a good, rare, low mileage sports car, fly somewhere far away and drive it back over a period of days. Call it the "Route 66" complex or fantasy, to see America from behind the windshield of one of the last big gas guzzling V8s, the T-tops off, the windows rolled down, the tunes cranked up and the clocks on the dash spinning their needles to the far right sides of their faces as the exhaust note proclaims the powerful engine’s authority on the open, heat shimmer draped super slab of interstate.

The old saying of "be careful what you wish for or you might just get it" comes to mind, in hindsight, as it always does. With the purchase of the '86 TA on Ebay, it does indeed look like my wish has come true. However, the car is in North Carolina, not Washington state, not Northern California and not in Denver, Colorado, all very interesting places to be sure. No, the car I bought was in North Carolina which even for my learned mind can't produce one interesting bit of information other than there is a South Carolina to match it (and there’s probably a very good reason why there is a North Carolina and a South Carolina just like there is a very good reason why there is a North Korea and a South Korea).

Yes, I had always thought that my ultimate car adventure, the one adventure I had been craving for a decade, would take me somewhere in the Rockies or perhaps California, or way out West, not to North Carolina. I mean, finding out that you're going to have to pick up a car in North Carolina instead of California is like telling a six year old he’s won a 20 minute shopping spree at a GNC health and nutrition store instead of a Toys-R-Us. Bill Cosby once described "mixed feelings" as "seeing your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your brand new Ferrari." Now, I was about to go to North Carolina to pick up a black Pontiac Trans Am. I don't think the term "mixed feelings" could adequately describe what I felt. I think if you had given me a choice between going to North Carolina to pick up a black Pontiac Trans Am and getting dragged naked through a banjo maker's convention, I might have had to seriously think deep and hard on my options before giving you my final answer.

Going West just seems more romantic, more adventurous, more exciting... You have the remains of Route 66, you have the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, the Rockies, the Pacific Ocean, you name it... it's all out West. As far as the eye can see, you can't throw a rock and not hit something interesting out West.

Going East?

Nah. That doesn't stir you soul as much as it frosts it. Going East is not a road trip, it's more like a punishment, possibly even one step harsher than community service. There's just not much on the Atlantic seaboard that I really want to see that I haven't already seen. Out West, it's sunny and beautiful, mountains, blue skies, pretty people and vast sights to see along the way. Out East, you just have dirty sea water, dark skies, rusting amusement parks, boardwalks selling greasy food that homeless vagrants wouldn't eat, grizzled old fishermen in their boats and people who talk like they're holding their nose pinched shut between forefinger and thumb.

There's a reason why someone once said "Go West, young man." It's because whoever said that oft used quote actually liked the guy he was talking to. If he hadn't liked him, he would have said "Go East, you stupid dang burned idjit." and if he really, really, really hadn't liked the guy he was talking to, he would have said "Go East by way of Cincinnati, you stupid dang burned idjit."

But... beggars can't be choosers and North Carolina it was or rather North Carolina via Cincinnati, which is even worse.

So, in order to pick up my new (20 year old) Trans Am, I have to fly North across several states, cross the Mason Dixon Line (always a very bad thing to do from a South to North perspective …) and pass through a time zone or two (which is great for throwing off my internal chronometer which pretty well hums along like it was made in Switzerland). I don't like flying. It's not that I'm scared of flying, it's just that I prefer not to. It's like when I’m going someplace I rather drive than ride. They don’t let me fly the plane so I don’t like flying. I don't like being carried where I want to go, I like to go by myself. It’s a personal philosophy (one of many, many that I have). If I'm going somewhere, I want to go when I want to go and I want to be the one steering the vehicle and working the brakes and accelerator / engines and rudders. I'm a misanthrope. I don't trust other people, especially when I'm being carried through the sky at 31,000 feet and 500 miles an hour.

Look at it this way … If someone is going to be having a really bad day and find their self sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle / control seat of a plane, then I definitely want it to be me, not some guy behind a locked door controlling my fate and the fate of many, many others around me. In other words, if someone is going to be mad at the world, I don’t want to be along for the ride.

With that in mind, the adventure truly began on March 18, 2006 where the first leg of my trip to get my beautiful 1986 Pontiac Trans Am found me flying from Jackson, MS to Cincinnati, OH. When I arrived, the mirth ensued...

(... this story is continued in all its gritty detail at Goingfaster.com (see side link).)

Saturday, February 25, 2006

“Speak the Language”

Recently I saw a sticker on the back of a beat up old pickup truck that showed a pair of deer antlers and the caption said “Speak the language.” I was unaware that deer had a spoken language or that any human had ever deciphered it (let alone learned to speak it). I guess the bumper sticker must refer to the act of rattling some plastic antlers together so that a deer might think you are one of them and thus walk right up to spitting distance to you (all the better in order for you to blow them away from a camouflaged position). My own thought on deer hunting is that it is not a "sport." How can it be a "sport" when you have better camo than that "Predator" alien, you pack more personal firepower than a National Guard unit and you slather yourself in a chemical that tells every male deer for two miles around that you are not in fact a hunter with a big gun / bow / muzzle loader but rather that you are a horny slut-minded doe who is wide eyed, bushy tailed, sloppy wet and ready to get it on with anything sporting two or more points on their rack.

I've never thought much of deer hunting as it seems to be a bit one sided. I have many ideas on what a "sport" is (or what it should be) and sitting all day forty feet off the ground, freezing your ass off, smelling like deer twat, wizzing into an old milk jug, drinking beer and then jumping up and simultaneously trying to use a high powered weapon doesn't sound much like a "sport" to me. No, it sounds more like a Darwin award waiting to happen. Deer hunting would be far more of a "sport" if you had to hunt deer buck naked (no pun intended), run through the woods barefoot and the only weapons you could use would be your choice of either an ice pick or a claw hammer.

However, one thing that I have discovered in life is that you can learn from the behavior of others. There is no need to repeat other people's mistakes and if they can get hurt while you avoid it, too bad for them and all the more good for you. “Speak the language” is apparently a philosophy of many hunters and other primitive food gatherer sects that still exist in our society. What it means, simply put, is that if you don’t learn the language of what you want to eat, chances are, you’re going to starve to death. This is an important fact to know in life as it applies to not only the rural areas but the civilized areas as well in more ways than you could imagine. After all, some of us are smart enough to realize that you no longer have to grab your spear and head out into the woods in order to get something to eat. No, today we have a modern convenience called "fast food" and while you don't have to wait in ambush to secure a meal, there is still a lot of hardship and grief to be spent in filling your tummy. Technology will help you with this, but it is still an uphill battle to be sure.

“Speak the language” I think is an important phrase to remember whether you are out in the woods or walking into your favorite fast food burger joint and no place did I learn that lesson quicker than my lunch time sojourn to the local Church of the One True Clown (lead by the illustrious Pope Ronald McDonald the XVII). One thing I detest is having to deal with the minimum wage fueled personality-free labor oriented automatons that compose the current crop of fast food service employees mainly because they tend to be, well, dumber than a burlap sack full of rusty old nails. These minimum wage fueled personality-free labor oriented automatons also have their own language which is important to learn, since modern day food gathering practices are much changed from the way that your knuckle dragging ancestors once went about getting the job accomplished. Today, gathering food revolves around choosing the correct location then initiating a general barter or exchange where you give them some form of readily accepted legal tender and they give you a hot meal in turn. That, at least, is the principle but it is not always the practice.

The less social interaction between the clueless automaton and you is the preferred mix for success as the truth of the matter is that you really don’t want to talk to them and they really don’t want to talk to you. Anyone who would sell their mortal soul to the likes of the Church of the One True Clown, all in order to earn enough money to buy the latest Eminem CD and have their belly button pierced is not the kind of person you want to try to have a stimulating intellectual conversation with let alone become part of your blood line, mix their DNA with yours and subsequently bear your children somewhere down the line.

One day, hopefully in my life, we may actually see fast food restaurants run by one or two of these minimum hapless automatons at the most with the establishment being nearly completely machine operated. Imagine going to a fast food establishment where you walk in, swipe your credit or debit card (or throw some money at the token organic behind the register), use a touch sensitive audio/visual menu to order and receiving a hot meal that pops out built to your satisfaction further down the line. A hot meal made to order and perfectly correct. Oh, yes, I have a dream bigger than Martin Luther King, Jr.'s and it involves freedom from having to deal with idiots behind the fast food counter. Trust me, some of the people I see moving down the food assembly line are not the kind of people I would generally want touching my food (or me for that matter irregardless of how much money changes hands).

I find it amazing what different dialects and languages each franchise has. The fact that these languages and dialects can very well differ by establishment and locale, even among restaurants in the same organization located in the same geographic location, is nothing short of astounding. Staying on top of being fluent in the language of fast food service can be a heady experience to say the least and should only be shouldered by those with a few favorite establishments that they frequent. Take for instance this example; I walk into the Church of the One True Clown and try to barter for food with the devoutly zealous if nigh often retarded Followers of the One True Clown. I am hungry and I wish to negotiate a transaction, trading some of the hard earned legal tender in my pocket for some of their quickly prepared tasty (and oh so unhealthy) food. The days of ordering food in the same language that you speak (i.e. "English") are long gone and even though the menus are bilingual (in order to aide the illegal aliens from being disenfranchised by The Man and to make it easier for them to adjust to a country where the dollars they earn are more welcome than they are), the language that is spoken behind the counter is something else entirely.

In days gone by (i.e. not quite a decade ago), you could merely state your desires to the person behind the register and all would end well. Money would change hands and you could be assured of a fast, tasty lunch that filled your stomach and clogged your arteries. Those days are long gone and they aren’t ever coming back. Today, you order your food by numbers since the low grade automatons behind the counter aren’t programmed for either etiquette or language translation any more (it saves the corporation money if they hire the low grade models). No, most establishments now have groups of food pre-selected and pre-packaged for quick sale. These groups, or “combos” are shown as big colorful pictures containing tasty arrangements of the most often asked for combinations. Deviation from the norm is generally frowned upon (as we shall discuss shortly).

Yes, Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible and not one bit simpler.” He obviously never counted on the current crop of sub-humans entering employment and what measures are having to be instituted to guarantee at least a base level of productivity from them. It is a sad but true fact that fast food restaurants have, for the most part, ignored Einstein’s wisdom. Now, when you want to get something to eat, you can’t just walk up to the drab colored uniform draped, paper hat sporting automaton behind the counter and say “I would like a Quarter Pounder, plain, just meat and bun, no cheese, a regular order of fries and a large sweet tea.” If you do, the look of utter astonishment and despair on the automaton’s face will quickly inform you that you have just thrown a wrench into the guts of what amounts to a precision machine the likes of which would give any Swiss watchmaker a full-on chubby.

The key word to remember here is “minimum wage fueled personality-free labor oriented automaton.” You aren't dealing with a human being so you shouldn't feel guilty if you hurt their feelings as they have none. Any emotion they display is simply part of their programming and isn't real. Most of the automatons found in fast food establishments are drawn from the lowest common denominator in society, that tepid substrata where rap music, reality TV, NASCAR, the WWF and Harley Davidson are all considered intellectual successes in their own right (as well as worthy goals to personally aspire to). What this means is that given the average below par intellect of this group of sub-humans from which the fast food franchises draw their employees from, there is a better than average chance that you can Jedi trick-fuck their minds with the promise of earning approximately $6.50 per hour (a sum which is considered quite the king's ransom in their particularly lowly social circles). However, if you do the math (as a popular quote goes), this lowly amount equates to 0.18 cents accumulated per second (which means that the minimum wage fueled personality-free labor oriented automaton is earning exactly 1.8 cents per every ten seconds, or just shy of eleven cents per minute of labor put forth). This is hardly the kind of income that would allow one to realistically achieve a great amount of personal financial freedom in their life let alone even think about parking something like a Ferrari Enzo in the employee parking lot just two months after being hired. As such, given the rather somber nature of what you are dealing with, a cheerful outlook is hardly to be expected. Hell, you should count yourself lucky if you get the correct amount of change back let alone that your order arrives in a satisfactory manner congruent to elevating you a little bit higher in this moment of time on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Rap for your food

Even the registers have been smarted up to accept the slow, single finger pecking input from the otherwise culturally dumbed down operators. I firmly believe that were I to enter the Church of the One True Clown and rap my order in contemporary hip-hop fashion to the automaton behind the counter that I would often achieve a near 100% satisfaction rating on what I received in return for trading my money away. The only side effect that I could see from rapping my order to the automaton is that there is an increased chance for spontaneous co-rapping that might spread not only behind the counter but in front of it as well. Co-rapping is a curious societal effect where one rapper is joined by another and another until soon, no communication is taking place at less than the speed of rap. Given that rap is a very effective and efficient form of communication for those who are either severely intellectually challenged or mentally retarded, it is nonetheless a rather tedious way to communicate for anyone possessing even a fifth grade (or higher) level of education. Indeed, rap often comes off as nothing more than some rock addled crackhead trying to read aloud from some obscure volume of Dr. Seus' seminal work.

WARNING! I should caution you now that the chance for a spontaneous co-rapping resonance cascade to occur is quite high and could quickly lead to a chorus line of employees trying to communicate in various dialects of rap to each other. Needless to say, this completely undermines the Grillspeak (which we will soon discuss) like God did to the crowd at the Tower of Babel. Like a vile computer virus, this spontaneous and contagious rap event could rapidly disrupt the internal machinations of the food assembly line and quickly lead to complete chaos. Violence may ensure when the humorous teachings of the studio gangstas are reiterated or put into effect and it is entirely possible to fragment the entire food assembly group along gang lines if you are not careful. At that point in time, the best policy is to simply run and duck as fast as you can for the nearest exit and hope that they don't have gats. Failing that, pray fervently that they learned to shoot from watching music videos on "Yo! MTV Raps."

Modern technology has not reduced stupidity so much as it has allowed corporations like the Church of the One True Clown to cut their labor costs considerably by scooping up huge segments of the lowest common denominator and depositing them behind the counter, all with promises of being able to one day own their own franchises or, failing that, at least getting free uniforms and a sizeable discount on any food ordered during their lunch break. The cash registers, as well as the computerized food preparation and logging systems you see behind the counter are all geared for efficiency at the direct expense of natural intelligence. If Darwin was amazed at what he discovered on Galapagos, he would be astounded were he to study a typical fast food establishment for a single day. I feel confident that if he had, he would have had to completely rewrite his theory on evolution.

You simply must have advanced technology as the backbone of any contemporary fast food establishment like the Church of the One True Clown when you populate the behind the counter labor force with portions of the population drawn directly from the LCD of society. Yes, technology is the interface between the raw materials being taken from storage, prepared and finally delivered to the waiting customer, after receipt of their hard earned money, of course. If not for all of this wonderful technology on display, you would have utter mass confusion from a group of people who are not only dumber than the product that they assemble and serve but who also just might actually be dumb enough to be considered an alternate food source in their own right.

No longer does the employee have to know how much each item costs (using a keypad to enter the price for that item), no, this process has been replaced with graphics crudely representing the items on the menu, a process of icon form communication that goes all the way back in history to the earliest cave paintings. Yes, one would think that the Human race had moved way beyond having to use simple hieroglyphics to communicate but the Church of the One True Clown depends on the use of hieroglyphics to aid employees in taking and completing orders. By touching the keys faster than a lonely woodchuck can masturbate, the low grade automaton now has a better than 30 percent chance of getting your order correct the first time, thanks mostly to this high technology and the simplicity of the interface. Without this bit of high technology, the percentage chance of success falls to negative numbers (which at first would seem to be mathematically impossible but then physics (and mathematics) work different inside the Church of the One True Clown – and most other fast food restaurants as well - more on that later). You will be pleased to know that even without the threat (let alone the actual application) of negative reinforcement to this labor unit, your chance of resolving any food order conflict or mistake rises approximately by 20 percent (with a plus or minus two percent margin of error) each time you return to the counter which means that if you leave the counter, find a table and discover an error in your order, immediately returning to the counter will give you at least a 50% chance of getting the problem resolved to your satisfaction.

It should also be noted that this increase in efficiency applies during the initial visit only. The margin of error again drops back to a baseline thirty percent if you leave the premises for any reason whatsoever including the very act of simply walking out the door, turning immediately around, walking back up to the counter and ordering something else from the same employee you just dealt with. Even this minor change in action is enough to reset the statistical chance for success. Other instances have been recorded where a momentary step out of line has been enough to reset the statistical probability of success in receiving what you order in the manner in which you ordered it.

CTFAMGAA! - (stopped here) -

I’d like to now present the “Checked Twice For Accuracy, My Golden Arched Ass!” theory. One of the tricks that the Church of the One True Clown employs on special orders is to attach a print out of your order to the box or bag in which your order will be deposited and to affix this print out with a small sticker or decal which shows a big check mark and the text “Checked Twice for Accuracy.” This sticker is geared towards putting your mind at ease and convincing you that you really are dealing with future rocket scientists or Nobel Prize contenders. Neither could be farther from the truth. Don’t take someone else’s word for it, ignore the “Checked Twice for Accuracy” stickers, break the sacred seal and instead immediately do a physical and visual inspection of your selected food choice as soon as it appears on the tray in front of you. There is a better than thirty seven percent chance that what is in the box or bag is not what you ordered and you will have to start the convoluted process of reconciliation, as described above.

If your order is incorrect, then the “Checked Twice for Accuracy” sticker takes on a whole new meaning; double incompetence on at least two levels of assembly and operation. This is not good.

Now, not only are you dealing with a problem in communication with the low grade automaton behind the counter (who could not get your order right in the first place), but you are also dealing with a communication problem with an automaton who is at least one level higher than the assembly level automaton who built your food product. It should be noted that it was this higher level automaton who wasn’t smart enough to catch the lower level automaton’s mistake. It all boils down to a game of stupidity and the grand prize is sitting in front of you on your tray. A bit of caution should be exercised here; automatons do not like to be corrected, at all, in public, especially at certain high pressure times of the day (identified as “breakfast,” “lunch,” and “dinner” times). The automatons can be extremely temperamental in some instances though again their feelings are mostly for show and should never be considered to be genuine (that's what the "personality-free" part means).

The very act of you breaking the sacred “accuracy seal” and verifying for yourself whether the order is correct or not may not be taken well by the automaton who took your order. You are publicly questioning not only their limited authority but their limited intelligence in being able to complete a simple task assigned to them by you. If you immediately present the error to the automaton who took your order, abject confusion will more often than not reign supreme. This situation will often require a higher level automaton, one exhibiting some amount of free will (and often referred to as a “manager”) to be summoned (from the overseer position on the food assembly line) to review and possibly correct the mistake. You should pay careful attention here as the actions which follow are very interesting.

Some type of telepathy will be conducted between the lower level automaton and the management grade automaton through a process that modern science still has yet to understand. The lower level automaton will motion with its hands at the register, and from the register to your item in question. The manager automaton will press several buttons on the register, review the data that is meant for their eyes only (which is why you can’t see it from the side of the counter that you are on) and then will invariably produce a small key often kept tethered on some neon colored plastic cord which they wear around their neck, on their wrist or at their belt. The key will be inserted into the register, some more buttons will be punched, the key will be turned again and removed from the register. The amount of information that has passed between the two automatons on the other side of the counter is startling and one has the distinct feeling that some small amount of knowledge was (hopefully) gained in this exchange. This exchange passes from the management grade automaton to the lower level automaton through a process of wireless, telepathy, osmosis or pure magic (science isn’t quite sure of the process). There is the slight hint that this mistake might be a learning experience for the lower level automaton however the hope that the same mistake won't be repeated in the immediate future is slim if it exists at all.

The manager grade automaton will invariably take your “Double Checked for Accuracy” stickered food item, sneer at the sacred seal which you have broken, personally inspect the item and once it is determined that a problem has indeed occurred on the assembly line (and that there is no way you could have made the mistake up like by carrying a handfull of pickles and lettuce in your pocket, adding them to your sandwich when no one was looking and then trying to blame it on the assembly crew just for fun), the manager grade automaton will quickly move back to the food assembly area and start barking out what I have come to refer to as “Grillspeak.”

Grillspeak

Grillspeak is the solemn language of all grades of automatons employed by the Church of the One True Clown and consists of a kind of verbal short hand interspersed with rapid hand motions, self touching and monosyllabic grunts.

Grillspeak is not a difficult language to pick up, especially if you realize that employees barely smarter than the food that they serve have already mastered it in short order. It is easy to see that an intelligent, tool using creature such as yourself probably shouldn’t have much of a problem with learning this rather simplistic language either (though you may want to practice the hand motions in front of a mirror, in private, to avoid any public embarrassment the first time you try to use these gestures). Grillspeak is understood by all employees of the establishment but strangely uttered most often only by those automatons operating the registers and the manager automatons. This very well could qualify Grillspeak as a language of the masters rather than a language of the slaves. Once you learn this language, your chances for success go up considerably. Not only can you tell if your order is being translated correctly from the register to the assembly crew, but you can also tell what you are getting (or not getting) and you can quickly intercept any mistakes on the front of the counter before a manager automaton has to intervene and become involved (the act of which never bodes well).

Deviation from the holy assembly template is unacceptable and tantamount to religious heresy. Let’s take, for example, my usual order for lunch. There’s a big difference between ordering a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in English and ordering the same sandwich in Grillspeak, especially if you plan on deviating at all from the proscribed assembly template by which the workers of the food assembly line use as a reference in building your sandwich. A Quarter Pounder with Cheese is a multi-part food construct consisting of many different labor steps and organic materials. The high level of speed and efficiency (hence the term "fast" food) is gained when a large quantity of standardization is utilized and deviation from the primary template is kept to an absolute minimum, if it is allowed at all. Each Quarter Pounder is, in essence, an exact duplicate of the one built before it and once you start building them, the same thing over and over again, you not only get into a repetition but you also build speed (much like an exhaust driven turbocharger spinning up and gaining boost).

The urge to maintain standardization and reduce deviance is often given the form of trendy advertising campaigns involving popular media personalities consuming and immensely enjoying the exact same product that you see on the menu boards. Many times, the media personality will have a look on their face which implies that their eating experience is bordering on orgasmic if not downright Earth shaking. Strangely, I have yet to enjoy such a feeling when eating any product purchased at the Church of the One True Clown...

One theory that I have concerning my lack of ultimate enjoyment is that the supreme emotional fulfillment that I see on these people's faces and in their body language may in fact be a byproduct of ingesting one of the "special sauces" which I refuse to have applied to my sandwich. Since I do not receive this "special sauce" on any of my products ordered, I may indeed be missing out on some of the best sex to ever hit my tastebuds. This is one theory that I held until recently when more direct observations of the products being used by ordinary customers lead me to believe that all of these smiling media personalities locked in the spasming throes of culinary orgasm are perhaps just a bit of excessive and rather silly advertising designed to keep you from deviating from the norm and thus lowering efficiency of the establishment.

How do I conclude this?

Easy enough. I've seen a lot of people eat at the Church of the One True Clown and most of them have ordered the standard assembled items with little or no deviation from the template and not one of them ever looked on the verge of culinary orgasm. While I do admit to hearing some grunting every now and then, the other sounds that these people emitted during their meal could in no way lead me to believe that what was going on in their minds had anything at all to do with coitus and that's how I know the people in the advertisements are faking their orgasms.

Deviating from the norm? Yes, the problem with your order happens when you decide to stray from the proscribed assembly instructions. If you were to order, for example, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, hold the cheese and make the Quarter Pounder instead plain (just meat and bun because the Church of the One True Clown does not offer a regular, cheese-less Quarter Pounder without some noted customization of the basic model presented), then you have not only thrown one hell of a king-size monkey wrench into the fine tuned gears of the food assembly line, you are probably going to send one or more of the poor automatons into a mental state akin to the old computer error code of “Abort, Retry, Fail.”

The reason why special orders take so long at the Church of the One True Clown is that special orders and customization are frowned upon in general. It should be noted and remembered that while the customer is always king in principle, this pious decree is seldom carried out in practice among the clergy of the Church of the One True Clown. Primarily that is because the One True Clown wants you to buy his products and he considers these products to be good and perfect products in their natural state, as he created them. When you start adding components or taking away components from the initial design, you reduce speed by causing the automatons to become creative (something they are wholly unfamiliar with doing). You force the low grade automatons to either skip or add steps and to build a product they are not “programmed” to build, a product that is new and different from what they are accustomed to cranking out. The automatons rely primarily on simple visual cues and retained muscle memory (mainly because it is illegal to use a bullwhip or electrical cattle prod on them). When you order a specialized item, you defeat both of these inputs.

One would think, logically, that if a food product consisting of ten different items arranged in a set order took a minute and a half to assemble, then the same food product constructed with just three of the ten component items (70% less components) would take far less time. One would assume that it would also cost less but that is asking way too much and we won't even address pricing by individual component yet as that is a method that we probably won't see until the full, true automation of these types of businesses.

No. As I previously stated, physics (and mathematics) work a little different within the Church of the One True Clown, especially behind the counter and on the food assembly line. I’m sure that Dr. Stephen Hawking could explain it better (and use bigger words) but I simply cannot. The problem is that the assembly line, as a whole, is not geared towards customization, it is geared towards efficient assembly, using standardization and muscle memory to create speed. As such, when a special order item appears, the automaton in charge of assembly cannot just begin assembling the item according to standard specs. No. The automaton’s muscles go into a kind of hard lock and its substandard cranial matter questions what it must do next. This brings the assembly line to a sudden halt and follow up orders begin to back up like traffic at rush hour in San Antonio.

Something is new here, something is non-standard and there is great cause for alarm!

The typical low grade automaton employed by the Church of the One True Clown is simply not prepared to adjust its assembly procedures on the fly. Instead the hapless automaton must start a backup and often barely remembered binary assembly process in order to cope with the turn of events. Formerly the assembly process was a simple set of ten steps, carried out in repetitious order, whereas now in order to produce the custom product, each step, each component must be submitted to a lengthy binary test, a yes / no or add / do not add type command structure. Steps will be skipped and this is what slows the process down, thus delaying your order (and those stacking up behind it) considerably.

Instead of the traditional “wham bam” style of production, you have just set this assembly line automaton into a state of decreased labor efficiency as it has to check each step of the build process (and because it is a custom built item, an automaton of a higher level of working order will have to "Double Check for Accuracy" the finished product and secure the food container with the sacred seal of (supposedly) guaranteed customer satisfaction). The binary process consists of reviewing the components and deciding if they meet the desired specs for custom assembly. It goes something like this:

Component one: yes / no.

Component two: yes / no.

And so on. Previously, all components were simply rated as "yes" and included in the design. Customization requires that each component be tested, one component at a time, for either inclusion or deletion from the standard model product. The time lapse between testing and arriving at the answer (correct or not) is sometimes considerable, given the mental capacity of the automaton in question. Now you can see where the “Double Checked for Accuracy” fallacy comes into full effect.

The bottom line is now you know why special orders take longer to process and produce. It's a good thing that they don't charge you extra for all the disruption you place on the overall process and the delay which you cause to other people in line behind you when you submit a custom ordered item because the end result is that you are getting away pretty cheap for all of the trouble you ultimately cause.

Ordering protocol

Yes, we must talk about ordering protocol which is one more phase of "speak the language." One last thing to remember when visiting the Church of the One True Clown and attempting to barter with The Faithful behind the counter is that you simply must follow ordering protocol. There is a certain sequence in which your order must be presented and that protocol must be followed, like steps in a dance, if you are to enjoy success in the transaction.

For example… if you take your turn at the counter and, when prompted, place your order completely out of the expected sequence, you also slow down the assembly process on the front end. One would logically think that when you were prompted that you could simply state your food desires along the lines of “I would like a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, hold the cheese. I want that burger plain, just meat and bread. I want a large fry and the biggest sweet tea you have available.” Sadly, you cannot as this is information overload and may short out the data processor array of the low grade automaton who is taking your order. Abject confusion now reigns supreme just a few feet in front of you and it isn’t a pretty sight. Once you have stared into the eyes of a mentally stunned automaton, you will never forget the experience of the soul-less, blank look.

Yes, in one fell swoop, you have just committed the equivalent of a Windows data dump on the hapless automaton who was expecting you to follow established protocol when ordering. If you look closely deep into their eyes, you might even be able to see the infamous “blue screen of death” somewhere back among their rods and cones. Invariably, the look of confusion will pass as professionalism resets itself and you will be asked what combo number that is.

[IMPORTANT NOTE- You must remember that items are now sold in combos which include a primary product (burger), a secondary product (fries or other side item), and usually a beverage. Combos are a very orderly way of allowing the low grade automaton to reduce what would normally be three items worth of input down to a single item being input into the system. Whoever designed the "combo" system was a genius as it reduced the immediate work load of the low grade automatons by 66%.]

If you are lucky, your chosen automaton may actually turn around to look at the menu displayed behind it in order to try to comprehend what you just said. If not, then the automaton may indeed be rendered temporary useless as it scans the register for a clue on how to enter the data you just gave it. If you see smoke or smell something burning, chances are it is the automaton in front of you trying to think on their own. Often, a slow recital of your order will be given back to you, followed by several slow, even cautious finger pecks on the keypad of the register. If the mental shock you have just delivered proves too much, a manager grade automaton may be immediately summoned to assist in the barter transaction.

[IMPORTANT NOTE- Your chance for success in ordering a special custom food item goes up considerably if a manager grade automaton is summoned and subsequently takes command of the data entry procedure. Protocol for food ordering is much less important in the presence of one of these stupendous examples of establishment worker since their translation capabilities are far more advanced than the assembly line automaton and they have what passes for a functioning brain stem as well.]

However, it is important to remember the proper protocol for food ordering at the Church of the One True Clown. Like I said before, protocol is like a dance. If you follow the prompts of the automaton at the register, you will have a very good chance of success in the transaction. Please wait until you are prompted, and then courteously answer each prompt using the smallest words you know and the shortest amount of data. As you answer each prompt, the automaton will key in your order on the register in front of them. This accomplishes two things; it charges you for the items you intend to consume and it places your desired items in the assembly queue (where you may actually see them appear on the big screen just behind the automaton). If you follow the prompts from the low grade automaton, you should stand a better than good chance of having success in your transaction. If you try to force the issue or dictate your desires outside the established protocol format for order taking, you are only causing needless trouble and delay. Confusion and delay are simply not tolerated well by the dwellers and the visitors at the Church of the One True Clown, especially at key bartering times during the day.

I have compiled a list of the more well known and established prompts used by the minimum wage fueled personality-free labor oriented automatons who are employed within the Church of the One True Clown. Please don’t try to offer any extraneous information during your transaction as this only confuses the automaton taking your order and reduces both the speed and efficiency of your transaction (as well as creates a high percentage for error to creep into your final assembled product).

Standard Automaton Prompts followed by the closest possible English language translation.


Automaton: “May I take your order?”
Translation: “What the hell do you want?”

Automaton: “Will this be for here or to go?”
Translation: “Do I have to put your food on a tray or do I just shove it all down into a bag?”

Automaton: “Would you like to try one of our combos today?”
Translation: “Please just order one of the damn combos. I have the brains of a retarded monkey and can’t count higher than ten without taking my shoes off. That’s why there are only ten combos listed on the menu at any given time. Don’t even think about ordering anything that isn’t already pre-packaged and ready for quick assembly or there will be trouble.“

Automaton: “Would you like to upsize that?”
Translation: “Please order the upsize option because we're having a contest and whoever gets the most upsize orders sold this week wins the contest and gets to wear the Bumble Bee Good Employee Award. Yippee!”

Automaton: “What size drink would you like with your order?”
Translation: “Order the upsize drink. You're not smart enough to realize that you can get a small cup and all the free refills you want from the beverage bar but then again there’s only twenty-five cents difference between a “small” and a “super large” so we’re getting our money one way or the other.”

Automaton: “Would you like any desert to go with that meal?”
Translation: “I still see that you have some money that has not made its way from your hand to the inner bowels of my assigned register. Prepare to fully surrender far more legal tender.”

Automaton: “What kind of sauce for your chicken nuggets?”
Translation: “We're all out of barbeque or sweet and sour sauce but we still have a whole lot of sour cream and dog crap flavored dipping sauce which is your only real choice in the matter.”

Automaton: “Uh…. Tee-hee-hee. Hold on just a second, please ...”
Translation: “Serious Processing Error. Input failure. Management unit required to resolve data collision. This automaton shutting down for cranial dump and neural system restart. Bzzzzzzzz.”

Automaton: “We’re out of chocolate mix.” / “the shake machine is being cleaned.”
Translation: “I’m too damn lazy to build you a triple thick shake this late at night. It’s almost the end of my shift, I have a date and if I’m lucky, I can trade some cold fries and a hot apple pie for some serious booty. Bottom line, you aren’t getting your shake, fool, so just deal with it.”


Automaton: “Thank you. Come again.”
Translation: “Screw you and your special order Quarter Pounder, fool. I’m going to be driving a Ferrari Enzo with twenty inch rimths in a few months ‘cause I got mad skillz and I’m working in da Holy House of da True dat Clown. Hallelujah!”


Final thoughts

Now, as for the sharp rise in the use of minimum wage fueled personality-free labor oriented automatons in the service market sector, I think that the general dumbing down of America over the last four decades has resulted in a generation, nay, a sub-species of human being that is going to be ill-equipped to do anything but work at menial labor and fast food franchises. The key will be if we can limit these people to breeding among only other members of this sub-class of genetic discards. In another generation, if the breeding process is successful, we could have an entirely new slave race geared towards nothing but fast food production and menial labor.

Let's face reality, people. If someone can’t figure out how not to fuck up putting a piece of cooked meat between two pieces of bread, shoving it in a box and then throwing it in a bag, chances are, that person isn't going to be building space rockets one day (or driving a Ferrari Enzo anytime soon).

Word.