A man walks into a confessional. “Hi Father. Last Friday night, I was at a bar, and this girl half my age walks up to me, says it’s her 21st birthday, do I want to buy her a drink? So I do and we hit it off, suddenly I’m hanging out with her and her two girlfriends who are about the same age, one thing leads to another, the four of us end up in a hotel. The next two days, we barely stop to do anything other than have sex. It was a 48-hour fuckfest, if you’ll pardon my French!”
“I see. Are you prepared to repent for your sins?”
“What? No, I’m not Catholic.”
“…. then why are you telling me this?
“Oh, I’m not just telling you. I’m telling fucking EVERYBODY!”


”I don’t understand how you got this job,” said my co-worker to me after I told her I was likely too honest during my interview. I’d said, flat-out, that a) I am not a car guy and b) while I am capable of doing hard selling, I have no interest in doing so. This being an interview for a car rental agency. I told her I probably got the job because I have been working literally longer than she’s been alive.

I’ve said forever that I’m long past the point of aiming for a job I love. I had that with Nintendo, back before I moved to Sweden, when my professional life and personal interests coincided perfectly. It was a wonderful time. If I didn’t have standup, I might be more inclined to find another job like that, but since I have another outlet to express myself within (read: care about) I just wanted a simple, reliable job that would pay the bills.

It’s nice to finally have that. I suppose I shouldn’t count my chickens before they hatch, as I’m on probation until August, but I have no reason to worry. Not that I don’t worry any time my boss asks to speak to me for a moment; I’m so used to getting bad news, it always makes me flinch.

Normally, when someone arrives to pick up a car, we hand them their keys, tell them where to find it, and wish them bon voyage. Operating often as a skeleton crew, we don’t have the option of bringing every car to every customer. We’ll make exceptions under extreme circumstances.

Now that Spring has sprung in spectacular fashion (May began with snow in the air and a few weeks later I went for a swim; it’s like someone forgot to toggle the change between seasons and just flipped a switch a few weeks late), my standard for what qualifies as extreme circumstances has sunk dramatically. It’s hotter inside the building (air conditioning is all too rare here, as it’s needed all too infrequently) and busier with more tourists arriving, so I welcome any excuse to go outside, even for a few moments.

Taylor Swift playing three nights in town last week led to many fun interactions with customers, particularly Americans visiting Sweden for the first time. I met a family of four from a Philadelphia suburb and the dad told me, “We could’ve bought tickets to see her in Philly. Or spend less to fly the whole family to Sweden for a week, rent a car and stay in a hotel and buy tickets to see her here.” I heard a similar story again and again. I wouldn’t be surprised if Swedes were in the minority at those three sold-out shows.

Despite my oft repeated remarks about social awkwardness and one of my new co-workers calling me shy (feels weird to ascribe the word shy to a fifty-year-old man; seems more appropriate to say “loner” or “kept to himself” or “we didn’t see it coming”), I’m a veritable Chatty Cathy with customers. It was fun to meet so many Americans and see them smile when, after asking me what brought me to Sweden, I answered, “Love.” This, of course, is a lie- my ex-wife being the reason I’m here, the answer is closer to spite. Kidding! Kinda.

Anyway, as much as I dreaded the thought of getting back into customer service, it has been an overwhelmingly positive experience so far. Sure, there have been a few assholes, and some consistent behavior amongst people of certain cultures that makes my inner Pop-Pop say, “See? What did I tell you about those people?” but not enough to make me feel negative about it. I’m not leaping out of bed at 5 AM with excitement, “Oh boy! Time for work!” but I’m also not wrestling with the alarm clock, trying to find any excuse to call out lazy.

Customers have given a lot of positive feedback, both in-person and online, and that’s been nice for my self-esteem. Not to mention my ego. I brought a car to two American Swifties, a forty-something mom and her twenty-something daughter, and as I walked away I heard the mom say, “He’s such a gentleman!” and the daughter respond, “And cute, too!” I hope Taylor Swift announces more dates here soon. Or maybe a residency.

Well, yesterday, two women came in to pick up a Tesla, one of them walking with crutches. It was gorgeous outside, it wasn’t particularly busy, I’m a nice guy, and also poor enough that my only opportunity to drive a Tesla is forty feet (twelve meters) at a time, so I brought the car closer for them. It was one of those low-slung sedans, so climbing into the car felt like climbing into bed.

Going on break almost an hour later, I discovered my phone was missing. I was 99% sure it must’ve fallen out of my pocket in the Tesla, but I couldn’t be sure. I’ll just use Apple’s Find My Device online…oh, but I can’t remember my password. As a safeguard against my forgetfulness, I knew I written my password on a note… on my phone. Oh well, I’ll just reset my password. To do that, simply confirm on your Apple device. Don’t have one? That’s okay, borrow a friend’s Apple device.

Android is much more popular here but I don’t have interest in learning anything new, so I stick with Apple. Fortunately, the one other person in the office had an iPhone, so we used his, only to get a warning message that resetting the Apple ID can take several days. Abort. Okay, I’m reasonably sure I have my password saved in my gmail, though it took me several tries to get my gmail password right. Finally, success! Except, this being the first time I was opening my gmail on that device, there’s 2-factor authentication. Open YouTube on your mobile device.

I realize I’m not going to break any new ground with material about passwords. That’s why I say this without irony- implant several devices, cut into bone, tattoo a barcode on me, whatever it takes so I don’t need to remember any more fucking passwords. The phone is locked, so I’m not worried about security, and while it sucks to not have immediate access to Candy Crush, at least I can play on my laptop at home. No, the problem is that my phone has my monthly train ticket on it. The only way to access my bank, other than finding an ATM, which are going the way of the pay phone. I literally cannot work without it, as, after being the victim of a massive hack some years ago, the login procedure on work computers involves jumping through several hoops, including needing one’s phone, fairly often each day.

I went home early to go on gmail there, remembering on the way that my kid could see where my phone was, and she verified within minutes that my phone was exactly where I thought it was. Ironically, after finding my Apple ID in my gmail, the app couldn’t Find My Device. The good news is that my phone is simply stuck between seats in a car that will return to my office. The bad news is that will be four days from now. The good news is, I have the next three days off. The bad news is, I start early on Sunday, and the car isn’t scheduled to arrive until five hours later- and that doesn’t mean it will actually arrive on time- meaning I’m still screwed.

I can’t say I blame them for not wanting to drive back to the office just to give me back my phone. The place they’re staying at is over an hour away. But I can’t help but think of that old, cynical expression: no good deed goes unpunished. I am glad that I helped them because one of the women was older and on crutches, and not because they were hot.

Speaking of which, I did fall for that trap last week with a French girl who’d booked a car. She said hadn’t driven that type of vehicle before- it being one of the most basic automatic cars in our fleet- so could someone please show her how it works? As usual, it was quite warm in the office that day, and as she asked she fanned herself with her own shirt, exposing her midriff, and I said, “Duuuhhh, oh-kay.” I brought the car to her and she asked if R means Drive (I’m not kidding) and I was happy I don’t have a car of my own at the moment.

Again, I know I’m not charting new territory by commenting on our increasing reliance on mobile devices, but it’s a big deal to me right now and I’ve got nothing but time to kill. I’ve thought for many years that the rise of the smartphone gave the lie to all Buddhists, wannabe and otherwise, who claim we are all one, maaaaaaaaan. The internet and smartphones in particular show, at once, both that we aren’t naturally connected and that we are desperate to be so.

On a final note, being without a phone made me break my Facebook Fast, since Messenger is my best option for communication for the time being. I’ve been sorely tempted to scroll but managed to avoid that, so far. As it’s quite prominent on the front page, however, I couldn’t help but notice today the first of FB’s “People You May Know” friend suggestions was a guy I’ve known, disliked, yet previously been connected to for over a decade, until recently, I guess. They should combine “People You Many Know” and “Memories” into “Here are Some Ex-Friends and Dead People.”