Updated whenever Tom gets off his big wide duff.
Got your blood pressure under control? Good. Because, here's another one ofour our brand new, hemorrhoidally-induced collection of rants and raves,now available as a genuine hardcover book from our Shameless CommerceDivision.
by Tom Magliozzi
Hello, my name is Tom Magliozzi and I'm a recovering bum. I guess I've always been a bum and I always will be. After all, given my education...to quote a famous man..."I coulda been a contender." I mean, many of my fellow graduates are company presidents or otherwise big muck-a-mucks. And what am I?I do a Mickey Mouse radio show and I write silly stuff for our Web site. Sure,I go to my office almost every day, but it's mostly because my wife wants me out of the house. So, basically, I'm a bum.
Actually, I was a real, unadulterated, full-fledged, card-carrying bum for a while. In my bio (earlier in the book) you read the story of my brush with death on my way to work one morning many years ago. (I went straight to my boss's office and quit.)
For the next two years or so, I collected unemployment and hung out in Harvard Square. With the other bums.
I should mention...for those of you who are contemplating bumness...that it has certain advantages. For one, you avoid a lot of expenses and disagreeable activities related to working, like having starched shirts, buying suits, buying lunch for others, and, of course, the work itself.
And, for two, being broke brings out one's creative nature. For example, during my bum days, meals were a problem. Then I discovered Grendel's Den in the Square, which had an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for 2 bucks (it was 1974). It went from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Quite a deal for a bum. But not good enough. So, here's what I did. I'd arrive promptly at 11 and have breakfast (you're way ahead of me, aren't you?). Then, I'd sit and read the paper or a few chapters of a good book (I think those were the Carlos Castaeda days). At about 2:30,I'd do what? Have lunch, of course. After all, it WAS all-you-can-eat from 11 to 3, wasn't it? Two meals, 2 bucks. Quite a deal, even for 1974.
Meeting girls was a problem, too. No water cooler to stand around and make small talk...or, as the Brits would say, chat up the birds. But creativity again came to the rescue. I lived in a complex of several hundred apartments that was well populated with attractive females.
But how to meet them? When my apartment needed painting, I discovered that the owners of the complex would supply the paint, but not the painter. I got my free paint and painted my apartment. Then I thought, "What a great way to supplement my meager unemployment 'income'...paint other people's apartments." And who, pray tell, were these "other people"? They were the attractive females that I had only seen in the elevator. I put an ad in the laundry room. Max Wasserman will supply the paint, and I'll paint your apartment for $50 a room. See Tom, apt 6B."
I had to...as they say...beat them off with a stick.
During this time, I also discovered transcendental meditation. I brought flowers, fruit, and 75 hard-earned dollars to the TM center on Garden Street and got my mantra. I meditated each morning (while waiting for Grendel's Den to open). Two interesting things happened that were related to the meditation.
For a while, I was really into it. I'd meditate for hours at a time. SometimesI wouldn't leave my apartment for days (when not eating at Grendel's, canned sardines were the only menu item; high in protein, low in cost). During one of these meditation marathons that lasted for about two weeks, I finally decided to venture out to the Square. I walked, as I always did. When I got to the Square, I was ambling toward Grendel's. (That is another advantage of being a bum...one ambles. What's the hurry? Ambling allows one to see and feel things that aren't otherwise available to the senses. No one ambles anymore.)Anyway, I was ambling. A woman was walking toward me. I had never seen her before; a complete stranger. As I approached her, she stopped and stared at me.I stopped. She said, "You should come out more often." And she walked on. Explain THAT.
The second curious event: I was meditating. Had been for quite a while. I must have fallen asleep, because I was lying down when I suddenly woke, sat bolt upright, and said the words "Omean Aspiavodos." (I'm guessing at the spelling.I pronounced it as mee ahn As pee ah vuh dose.) Then I said, "What? Who's Omean Aspiavodos?"
Since then I have become convinced that Omean Aspiavodos is some sort of "channel" to the world beyond. A mentor, who will someday help me to achieve nirvana. He (or she) has not surfaced since that time. And not for lack of trying on my part.
Who IS Omean Aspiavodos?
Postscript:If you know who Omean Aspiavodos is (hopefully, he's a wise man living in the mountains of Tibet), please write to me c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
If you ARE Omean Aspiavodos and you were knocking on my door...yelling your name in an attempt to wake me from my sleep to sell me magazine subscriptions...that would be very disappointing. Please don't bother to write. A person needs his dreams.
Check out the complete Rant and Rave Archives