Shouting Into the Void

I Can't Help Where I Have To Park

A man called in to complain about his car being damaged. He was working at a building where people had to pay for parking. So, this man decided to park in a side street to avoid the fees.

Man: They forced me to park in the side street.
Me: How do you figure that?
Man: I don't want to pay for parking and I have to go to work. It's their fault this happened.
Me: Let me get this straight: You chose to park in the side street, and that is your employer's fault?
Man: Well, if I hadn't been forced to park there for work, my car would be fine.
Me: How do you think things will go for you at work if you sue your employer for damage to your car?
Man: What do you mean? Can they fire me?
Me: As long as they can prove it's for a non-discriminatory or protected reason, they can fire you. We are in an at-will employment state.
Man: That's not fair!

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Emigrating To The Green Isle

A man called in the day after Barack Obama was elected President in 2008. Obama's victory had convinced this man that the U.S. would soon become  a "Socilist" haven that would target God fearing people such as himself. So, this man decided he wanted to emigrate to Ireland.

Man: So, do I call the U.S. Embassy in Ireland about this?
Me: No, you have to contact the Irish Embassy here in the U.S.
Man: Really? Why? I'm an American citizen.
Me: Because if you're trying to emigrate to Ireland, you need to ask them what their laws and regulations are to enable you to do so. The U.S. Embassy can only counsel you about matters pertaining to this country. Besides, wouldn't that be akin to sleeping with the enemy?
Me: I never thought of it that way!

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Just Send It To My House

A man called in about evicting his adult stepdaughter from his home. Stepdaughter was originally supposed to stay for two weeks while she found a new job, and then was to get her own apartment. Six weeks had now passed, and stepdaughter was whiling away her days sleeping and watching TV. He asked what the usual eviction process was. I explained that a letter would usually be sent to the tenant, along with a notice of eviction being attached to the apartment door.

Man: So, can you send a letter to [stepdaughter]?
Me: Let me get this straight. You want me to send a letter to evict your adult stepdaughter from your house. Meaning the letter will be sent to your house?
Man: Yeah.
Me: Just curious: How does [stepdaughter] receive her mail?
Man: My wife hands it to her.
Me: So, your wife will hand an eviction letter to [stepdaughter]?
Man: Yeah.
Me: This will not end well.
Man: I have to do it!

About a month later, the man called in because stepdaughter had gone nuts after getting the letter. He now wanted to sue her for the damage to his dishes and other breakables that were damaged during the ensuing altercation between stepdaughter and wife.

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I Need Better Cell Service!

A woman called in about the deterioration in her cellphone service. She was a legacy customer of Cellular One, which had recently been acquired by U.S. Cellular. I asked her when her contract was up, and she told me it would expire in 2 months' time. So, I offered to contact U.S. Cellular to see if they would let her cancel her contract with no penalty.

Woman: I don't want to cancel! I want better service.
Me: I understand. If we get your contract cancelled, then you can move to another company that has better cell reception.
Woman: I just want better cell service! I don't want to change my company! I been with them for a long time.
Me: How do you think that your cell reception will get better if you stay with U.S. Cellular?
Woman: I don't know! I need you to make them do something!
Me: They're not going to move a cell tower closer to your house so your signal gets better.
Woman: Why not????

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The African Diamond Affair

A man called in with an unusual request. He needed me to contact Interpol on his behalf. This man had gotten into touch with some men in the African nation of Benin (I wasn't told how the two parties met). The man calling me had completed a couple of transactions with these men to buy diamonds, spending around $2,000 each time. After the completion of the second sale, the Beninois told the man they had an unbelievable deal for him. They would send him a diamond worth at least $1,000,000 for only $50,000. The man promptly wired the money to Benin. After the money was received, the Beninois mysteriously disappeared.

Me: Did you know these people personally?
Man: No. I only conversed with them over the Internet.
Me: Just curious, but how were they going to get the diamond to you?
Man: We agreed that the diamond would be sent by DHL.
Me: Wait a second. Did you intend to declare the diamond and pay import duties?
Man: Why would I need to do that? They were sending it via DHL.
Me: DHL packages can be checked by customs.
Man: They can?
Me: Yes. Anyway, I can't initiate an inquiry to Interpol. You'll have to go through the [state] Bureau of Investigation.
Man: Will they find the Men?
Me: Not very likely. You have been tricked by criminals.
Man: I see. I suppose I should tell my wife.
Me: Not a bad idea.

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Making Money Shouldn't Be So Hard

An elderly woman called in about a website she had "bought". A nice man called her approximately two months earlier and said that for only $10,000, his company would sell her a website that would make her money. After the money was sent to the nice man, he mysteriously stopped taking the woman's calls.

Me: So what exactly were you going to be selling?
Woman: He told me I'd be selling products and that every time someone came to the website, I would get paid.
Me: Right. But what were you selling on this website?
Woman: I told you! Products?
Me: You don't know, do you?
Woman: silent

About six months later, the woman called again about another website she had "bought".

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People Who "Tell the Truth" Aren't A Protected Class

A woman called in about being discriminated against at work because she was African American. She said that her manager was not giving her the same hours as all the other employees. I sent her a questionnaire to fill out to get more detail about the case. About a week later, I got the paperwork back and called her. She sent in a work schedule as part of her packet.

Me: I am looking at this schedule, and I see that there is a Sheneneh and Laquanda [names changed]. May I presume that they're African American as well?
Woman: Yup.
Me: I also see that they are getting 40 hours a week.
Woman: That's because they're friends with the boss.
Me: That really sinks your case. You can't claim racial discrimination if there are other people of the same race getting 40 hours a week. If these women were all getting reduced hours, then we might have something.
Woman: If I get fired, do I get unemployment?
Me: Not unless we can prove discrimination. Which we can't.
Woman: Well I'm going to apply anyway.
Me: You are free to do so. The likelihood of you getting benefits is low.

She called back in a month later about being denied for unemployment. The reason for her getting fired? Telling her boss "the truth".

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Send Me Cash and I'll Send You More Cash

This woman called in wanting me to contact a lender who had not sent her money from a loan she was promised. The woman had seen a commercial about real estate investing. This commercial directed viewers to contact a specific lender to get the loans they needed to begin living their dreams. After doing some research and finding the lender on LendingTree.com, the woman determined that the lender was "legit".

Me: Well, what did you use as collateral?
Woman: They said that I needed to send them $3,000 as collateral and they would send me the $35,000 they promised me.
Me: Wait a second, you used cash as collateral for the loan? That doesn't make any sense.

But wait, it gets worse. Once the woman contacted the loan company and sent the cash, they stopped taking her calls.

Woman: I need to pay these loans by Friday.
Me: Who did you borrow from?
Woman: I took out payday loans for the money.
Me: You did what?
Woman: I was going to pay the payday loans back when I got the money from the loan company and use the rest to start investing in real estate.
Me: I hate to tell you this, but you've been defrauded by these people.
Woman: But they were on LendingTree.com!

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The Party Boy

A man called in about his son's expulsion from the local school district. Dad wanted son to be reinstated at once. It was imperative because the young lad's cheerleading career hung in the balance. The new school didn't recognize the son's brilliant cheering abilities. It was the kid's senior year; his time to shine.

Man: He's really a good kid. All he did was a dance called the "Party Boy". Some teacher got all bent out of shape about it and told on him.
Me: What's the "Party Boy"?
Man: It's from a movie called Hot Rod.

I decided to watch this dance on YouTube while the man gave me some other details.

Me: So your son was doing a dance that consisted of him thrusting his groin repeatedly at someone or something?
Man: Well yeah. But he was just kidding around. That teacher has no sense of humor! I can't believe she can't take a joke.
Me: Wait a second. He did this in front of a female teacher?
Man: Well, yeah.
Me: Is this conduct considered acceptable by the school?
Man: They said he violated the Code of Conduct.
Me: Was there a hearing?
Man: Yeah. It didn't go well.
Me: If there is another school district that is willing to take your son in, the old district doesn't have to take him back.
Man: That's not fair!

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Unfair Accusations

A woman called in about the police unfairly targeting her son. The son's phone was found near the scene of an arson; he was currently sitting in jail.

Woman: They're always accusing him of stuff!
Me: Like what?
Woman: Oh you know: robbery, attempted murder, burglary, drug possession with intent to distribute.

This wasn't the main issue though.

Woman: Is it legal for the police to look at my son's text messages?
Me: If they have probable cause to believe that the phone was used in furtherance of a crime, then yes.
Woman: That should be illegal! They're trying to get him on drug charges because someone sent him a text asking if he could get them some weed.
Me: They're allowed to do that.
Woman: That's so unfair!

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There's Only One Motel In Odessa, TX

This woman went to Odessa, TX and booked a three night stay at a budget motel. The premises were apparently so unsafe that she was forced to stay inside her room for the majority of the day. When she did go out once a day for ice, she had to be escorted by a member of the hotel staff. Of course, she wanted the hotel to compensate her for "pain and suffering". Naturally, some questions arose.

Me: Why didn't you go to another motel?
Woman: Well, I had a reservation for three nights.
Me: There are other motels in Odessa. It's not a small town.
Woman: But I was so scared! I suffered a lot of emotional pain.
Me: You could have gone elsewhere.
Woman: Really? I thought you couldn't do that if you had a reservation.

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Punjabi

You should not sing the chorus to the Punjabi song "Mera Long Gawacha" in a predominantly black neighborhood.

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Fair and Lovely

I was in Bangladesh back in 2006. I am much lighter skinned than most of the people in that country.

While I was there, my 20 year old cousins had several friends over for a birthday party. While we were talking, I let slip that I used 3-4 tubes of Fair and Lovely every day and had done so for the past 10 years. Thus, I had much lighter skin. All of the girls ooh'ed and aah'ed, delighted to see someone they knew who had gotten such great results using such a product.

I'm sure they would have bought all of the Fair and Lovely in the country had I not told them it was all a joke.

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Muneerisms

Early to bed, early to rise means that the opposite sex doesn't find you attractive.


Do unto others as you would pay others to do unto you.


Always a bridesmaid, never the one who has to do all the housework for two people.


If at first you don't succeed, give up and find someone else to do it for you.


Happy New Year!

As a youth in Saudi Arabia, I once collaborated with two classmates and made a dot matrix ASCII drawing that said "Happy New Year". After hanging it up, we basked in the admiration of our fellow students. Our religion teacher then ripped it off the wall and into pieces. We were then harangued for close to 30 minutes about our un-Islamic conduct.

Since then, I have been unable to wish anyone a Gregorian calendar Happy New Year without hyperventilating and wetting myself a little.

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Interest

The one thing my parents taught me was exactly how interest works. So, when I got to college in the late 90's, I avoided the credit card company tables like the plague. My friends and dorm mates snapped up the hats, t-shirts, and knick knacks along with the credit cards they were subsidized by.

One night, I'm sitting in my friend's room and notice that he has a new CD changer. On top of that, he's ordering pizza for the third straight night. We came from similar economic backgrounds and I was broke as hell, so I asked him how he was making all this dough. "Oh man, I just charge it, and then pay $20 on it each month." I began to tell him that he was only paying interest, and if he's only making $20 payments, he'll be paying that card off until he's 30. His face suddenly fell, kind of like when a dog figures out that the steak you've just made isn't for him.

This guy, along with my some of my other pals, had to take on a second job and cut way back on everything to help pay down that stereo and all that pizza. I was still broke, but at least the money I made went to my bank account and Playstation games.

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Mr. Belvedere

When Mr. Belvedere first started airing in Saudi Arabia, it enthralled me. (Note: I was 8 at the time.) Here's this English dude who seems like he did alright for himself in England. He moves to America and is no better than a common servant. Plus, he knew the Royal Family, corresponded with British officials, and seemed to possess things that only a rich person could afford.

It made me think that America was a place where any immigrant would be forced to live in servant quarters and serve his new American master. Which was significant because the next year, my dad announced we were moving to the USA.

Also, didn't he own a Faberge egg?

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Ascertaining The Effect Of The “G Thang” On Skill Level In Hip Hop

(Author’s note: I am stealing an idea from Sean Keane and expanding upon it. I am assuming his mantle as a distinguished scholar in hip hop theory, philosophy, and technique. My first lesson will go to a time before Mr. Keane’s seminal essay and analyze “Nuthin’ But A G Thang” by Dr. Dre and featuring Snoop Dogg.)

The song in question is a tale of mutual loyalty and general badassery. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg not only illuminate the listener as to their individual and combined strengths, but also pass on individual life lessons that young listeners can apply to their own lives, lest they get burnt.

Snoop Doggy Dogg, in only his second official foray into released recording, begins the proceedings. We are tipped off to the potential lethality of an alliance between Compton and Long Beach. Worse for all aspiring challengers to their throne, Dr. Dre and Snoop are paragons representing the danger and menace emanating from their respective hometown. As a result, they are loc’d out to the point of insanity. This is a good tactic, as it establishes a potential alibi based on insanity for any actions that may injure, maim, or kill their opponents in the future. Snoop, foreshadowing his future role as “The Doggfather” and “King of the Motherfuckin’ West Coast (Baby)”, urges the listener to be wary of engaging in sexual relations with an unchaste woman without proper contraception. Such carelessness can result in the sucka getting burnt, as a bitch who would engage in such risky sexual behaviors will have no qualms infecting her lovers with various STD’s that may weaken an otherwise healthy and strong man. Not to be putting a damper on the entire arena of sexual relations between gangsta and ho, it is acceptable to take a small piece of some that funky stuff if the earlier suggested precautions are in place.

The second verse, as a sign of his elder status, is bestowed upon Dr. Dre. Having recently escaped the villainy and absolute control exercised by Jerry Heller upon Dr. Dre and his NWA cohorts (please listen to Ice Cube’s “No Vaseline” for more information), Dre is eager to pass on the lessons that enabled him to earn a doctorate in the rap game. From the beginning of the song, the listener may have experienced an uneasiness, a newness that cannot be explained or described by human speech. Dre explains that this is all a function of his ability to rap and control the maestro, in an understated display of his supreme status in rap. This advanced technique has the ability to make the listener feel as if he or she is under the influence of “The Chronic”, a particularly potent strain of marijuana originating in Dre and Snoop’s home state of California. Any alarm one may encounter should be taken in stride, as an inability to do so will render the lessons Dre and Snoop moot and unintelligible. While this has no effect on Dre and Snoop, as they have already mastered the subject matter, they are showing an uncommonly magnanimous nature in urging the listener to learn and better himself so that he may deign to attempt an approach to their seemingly unreachable skill level.

Not one to become complacent and rest on his laurels, Snoop follows and augments the Doctor’s lessons. Snoop, perhaps feeling that the listener has digested the earlier lessons and is ready to take a further step in her development, describes various things that enable him to approach Dr. Dre’s level without the formal study undertaken by the Doctor. Some necessary ingredients include a hellafied gangsta lean, getting funky on the mic like an old batch of collard greens, showing much flex when it’s time to wreck a mic, and pimping ho’s and possessing weapons like 1970’s blaxploitation icon Dolemite. While the exact nature of combining these elements to become an analog of Snoop is kept secret, their mere revelation may shave decades off the studies the next generation will have to engage in. Unlike the ancient Egyptians and Aztecs, who left no hints as to how they created their architectural marvels, Dre and Snoop leave a record that can be studied by future generations in an attempt to duplicate their accomplishments. At long last, the listener is ready for some muthafuckin’ G shit. Ostensibly feeling the pride a mama bird must feel when her chicks leave the nest and take their first steps into the cold world, Dre and Snoop both agree that the listener is ready to receive a piece of their wisdom, undistilled and raw. This is the only way that their wisdom can be received. Watering it down would be akin to reading a Bible translated into text speak rather than one written in the original Hebrew.

At this point in the proceedings, the listener may be thinking, “It’s not hard, what Dre and Snoop are up to. I can do this too!” Oh, the folly in such thinking. Dr. Dre did not receive his doctorate through an inferior institution like the University of Phoenix. He attended the School of Hard Knox, where only the strongest survive and complete the rigorous curriculum. As a result, Dr. Dre’s mic skills can make challengers crumble in the way a properly made Pecan Sandie or chocolate chip cookie yields to firm pressure. One should be wary of ignoring these entreaties and challenging Dr. Dre, as Snoop will aid him in destroying any fakers, haters, punks and perpetrators. One should take utmost care in not allowing the Doctor to slip. Allowing this slippage may force Dre’s hand in using his cache of firearms to protect his status and honor. Further, Dr. Dre is operating at a level so far above that of the normal person that he can project the illusion that he never rests. To attempt to pierce this illusion will have deadly consequences. It is therefore not advisable to ever challenge Dr. Dre. The listener may increase his skill level, but never far enough to mount a serious challenge to Dr. Dre.

Finally, the customary pledge of allegiance is made to Dre and Snoop’s respective hometowns of Compton and Long Beach. In a twist, however, the duo emphasize the catastrophic consequences this pairing of ferocious California municipalities will have on the rap game. This is a shift from the usual technique of MC’s from different areas engaging in one upmanship when describing the danger and sinister consequences faced by outsiders venturing to their hometown. It ultimately has the desired effect in chilling any potential challenge to the reputation for murder and mayhem possessed by either Compton or Long Beach. This technique also has the additional benefit of discouraging field trips to either locale, as such a decision is likely to result in death and dismemberment for any suckas who dare to attempt it. The economic benefits for this warning cannot be understated, as it prevents a deluge of claims against insurance companies that would threaten a destabilization of this nation’s already fragile economy.

At the time this song was made, one could have dismissed it as mere hubris. After all, Snoop was an eighteen year old, who had somehow already served four years in the county jail with hardened criminals and thrived in that environment. He had no professional accomplishments to speak of at that point. Dr. Dre, having just completed his residency with NWA, was making his initial foray into solo practice. The years have shown that this early song was a harbinger of the colossal accomplishments each man is credited with. Even more impressive, this initial pairing had the desired result of propelling both Snoop and Dr. Dre into the forefront of the hip hop community. They were rewarded for their early hard work and experienced massive success, as a graduate of Harvard may experience in the area of commerce. Few have sustained the high levels of achievement Dr. Dre and Snoop have sustained in the nineteen years since this song was released.

Until next time, keep it real.

A Union Story

A pal of mine is an attorney, and was doing a deposition related to a mesothelioma case in Illinois.

He asked the witness how long he worked each day. The guy replied, “You want to know how long I worked, or how long I clocked in?” My friend asked him to explain.

“Well, I’d clock in at 8am, then go have some coffee and read the paper,” he said. “After doing that, it was time for lunch, so we’d all go to a bar and have a few drinks. I came back around 2pm and checked to make sure my machine was working OK. Then I went home and took a nap. I came back at 4.30 to clock out.”

“So how long did you actually work on a normal day?” my friend asked. “About 40-45 minutes,” the witness replied.

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Bullied At Work

Last night, I was being bullied by my co-workers into bringing treats today. I know it was bullying because I watch Oprah and she knows what she's talking about.

So, I go to Munchers, and ask them for 2 dozen mini cinnamon rolls in a box and then 6 in a paper bag. I walked into the office belligerently holding the paper bag, telling people that their treats are here. I got death stares, looks of confusion and hurt, and outright rage. 

Once I felt that the blood pressure of my co-workers had risen an acceptable amount, I went to my car and got the box. Looks of relief and phrases such as, "I was trying to figure out how I was going to screw you over" flowed in abundance. 

We had mini cinnamon rolls, but also a lesson: Don't bully Muneer.

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The Dinner Party

[Friend]: We'll bring something nice to eat. I'm not sure what, though. Any suggestions?
Muneer: I believe you should bring king prawns simmered in butter and curry powder.
[Friend]: But [Other Friend] and [Other Friend] are vegetarians!
Muneer: True, so you should also bring naan for their lentil curry and my prawns.

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Why grow up?

A friend of mine and I were recently talking about this and came to the conclusion that there is no longer a positive reason to be an "adult".

Back in the times of our grandparents, there were sectors of society (lodges, etc.) that one could only gain entry to if one was deemed an adult. It was an exclusively adult realm and thus may have made getting a wife to keep up appearances more desirable.

Since the times of the boomers and trend of making almost every aspect of society "family friendly", those exclusively adult realms have essentially ceased to exist.

So, what is the real draw in having a soulsucking 9 to 5 job, wife who hates you, kids who drain all your cash, and an avalanche of societal obligations? The alternate, which is staying single longer (i.e. "not growing up") becomes a lot more attractive.

Rosa Lee's Story

In 1994, Leon Dash, while still at the Washington Post, wrote a Pulitzer winning series of articles about a woman named Rosa Lee Cunningham.

Cunningham was one of the many urban poor living in the housing projects of Washington DC. The story of her family helped show the effects of drug abuse on the urban poor and the cycle of despair people on public assistance sometimes find themselves in.

In addition to the newspaper articles Dash wrote a book, and Frontline did a documentary on Rosa Lee's life.

Rosa Lee passed away on July 8, 1995.

Soft Drinks Around the World

Soft drinks have become ubiquitous around the world. Everywhere you go, you are more likely than not going to see them being sold at stores, food carts and roadside stands.

It all allegedly started with sherbet in the Middle East. Today, Coca Cola has over 3000 different soft drinks it markets around the world.

With the proliferation of carbonated beverages, some truly odd flavors have been released. Among these are kimchi cola, colas expressing nationalist sentiments, and the usual strange entries in the field from Japan. These drinks can also shed some light upon the local flavors.

For the past few years, there has been a debate within the U.S. as to whether American Coke or Mexican Coke is better.

Whatever your thoughts, this flavored water has certainly come a long way.

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