Jim Varagona

Category: pinoy

>Best License Plate I’ve Seen

>I hear a lot of folks say personalized plates are dumb because they make no sense, but isn’t the fun in wondering? The obvious plates are fun too, like the mom of a high school classmate with a “666” plate. This was especially amusing considering it was a Catholic high school we attended. It also made me think of the fact that it is the only “666” plate in the state, so she must have felt special when it was available.

My plates say “DIABTO”, which is of course in reference to my Diabetoboy moniker. It’s fun to have folks guess at its meaning or ask me about them.

Before we hit the road to Jesusland last year, the Filipinos of the IRS and I spotted these plates in a grocery store parking lot.

I later saw the same vehicle in transit while bar hopping with friends one night. We tried to snap a photo to no avail, but I did remember this photo which I snapped on my phone upon the first sighting. Does it help that it belongs to an older handicapped woman? I think so.


>Driving with My Brake Lights On

>You may think from the title that this will be about some cautious time in my life and I am metaphorically “driving with my brake lights on”.

Just take it literally.

For the past 5 days, my brake lights have been on while driving. Since I noticed and my neighbor also pointed it out to me, I have been disconnecting my battery at every destination or leaving my vehicle running. I’m sure it looks interesting to people when before entering my car, I go under the hood for a second and then jump in and start it. I did notice a funny look on the face of an elderly woman pumping gas next to me at a gas station. Then again, that was also after I told the pump, “No I will not go see the fucking attendant” when it told me to do just that. I prepaid $15 and it stopped at 4 cents past that. I’m assuming they were going to make me pay for that, but it was their pump that stopped 4 cents too late, and I wasn’t told to stop it on my own.

Yeah, yeah, I’ve been a bit testy lately, but I’ll get to that later.

I’m hesitant to fix my own car or even investigate the many issues that the DiabetoMobile has. My 1990 Honda Accord has 215,000 miles on it. I have had quite a few mini-problems along the way, but the engine hasn’t failed yet and that is what matters.

The mini-problems like this one become a little more scary when I have a job that requires me to drive so much. Imagine driving over a hundred miles every day with your brake lights on the whole time. It presents an odd situation. Either folks are so discombobulated by you riding the brakes, even while accelerating, that they simply go around you, or you get the hard-asses that ride your bumper and honk like that will magically fix everything. The funniest was a guy driving a DirectTV truck. Why would you make yourself look like such an idiot if you are representing a company, and if I really wanted to, I could easily identify you and your vehicle and make a complaint?

After a bit of online research, I figured out that it had to do with my brake switch. Most likely, it was defective. I contacted Babyface Pinoy from the now defunct Filipino Mafia, because he helps me maintain my foreign vehicle, which isn’t to say that only foreigners can do that, but he is good at that, and he isn’t a foreigner, but an American because he was born in this fine country run by messed up people. That was a run on sentence. Anyway, he couldn’t help because he’s a busy family man I’m sure, so I was left to fend for myself.

Since I am poor, my mother came over to assist me with a flashlight and cash. That could be taken the wrong way, so please don’t take it that way. First she brought over a brand new shiny brake switch. After I actually stuck my face into the mess under my steering column, I realized the problem was much simpler and cheaper. A small piece that engages the brake switch, which disengages the lights, was crumbled and in effect, not doing its job. I think I saw it the other day, and for some reason thought it was a piece of a crayon that made its way into my car, so I tossed it. The fellow at AutoZone told me it was a dealer part. I asked if I should just rig it up, which he grinned at and confirmed that I had the right idea.

I tried a few bolts when I got home to my vehicle, but they were too small, but it can be rigged, oh yes, it can be rigged. It can wait till manana though, and then I can keep my battery hooked up.

And now to what makes me testy. When I was downsized, I addressed my landlady in a blog, stating that I wouldn’t pick up my dog/daughter’s poop anymore until the lawn was mowed. Shortly after, it was mowed, although I am sure the two were not connected. That was after about a month of it not being done though.
Once again, it has been over a month without it being touched, but this time the 4 foot high weeds were at least pulled earlier this week. I left a message on her voicemail and her man showed up instead. He told me that the lawn looked fine, yet it grows over my feet. He told me they didn’t have to notify us that workers were coming in our yard everyday to work on a mother-in-law house behind our home. We asked why so much work on that and none on our unit. He replied that they are moving into the 3rd unit very soon. When we said that we never agreed to this nonsense, he scoffed at us and said, “If you want to spend money on a lawyer, go right ahead.”

I later received a call from him saying that someone would be by to mow the lawn the next day. Strange how one says there’s no problem, but does something to rectify that non-problem. He also adds that I need to pick up my dog’s mess everyday, which his lady friend told us every week or two would be sufficient. If they really kept up with our joint, I’d consider it, but we are from from that point.
So I picked up all the poo, and lo and behold, it is 5 days later and the lawn still hasn’t been mowed. The new poop shall stay and torment the workers in our yard. They leave trash back there anyway, so it’s how we fight back.
Renting is no good. As much as I have read that tenants have rights, they really don’t. A tenant can’t end a lease if the landlord goes against it, but in the reverse case, it is a no brainer, you’re out to the curb.
Twice our gal came in without notification, which is illegal. We confronted her on it, which she neither confirmed or denied. She did however complain that supplies she left behind on those occasions were tampered with by myself. Oh well. Maybe if I didn’t have to have a bathtub faucet head fly at my foot the first time I attempted to shower, things would be different. Or maybe if after we asked for little things like a light in the rear and a working lock on our back door, we didn’t get an eye roll and no response, things would be different. It is amazing what a call to the city and 13 code violations can do to get things done. Unfortunately, there are no more definite code violations, just annoyances, so they know that is their loophole.
A couple of months ago, I accidentally busted the water line to the ice maker as I moved the fridge to clean up mouse crap. They fixed it, but later sent us an invoice for $65. We asked nicely to take it out of our deposit, to which we were told they’d talk it over. No response was given until 2 months later when we get a new bill stating if it isn’t paid in 15 days, a 24.99% APR will be applied. First, I never signed anything stating an interest could incur and I never signed an invoice giving a price at all. She has to take it from the deposit, but figures we were stoopid in the first place, so hey, why not try to push this one over.
I know when it comes time to recover the deposit, the courts will be the only way. Wouldn’t it just be easier to treat people how you would like to be treated instead of like pond scum? I could say more, but I will save it for later.


>Blog of a Married Diabeto–a review of the nuptials and honeymoon


The happy Diabeto’s, now in married flavor!

To answer the first question people have naturally been asking me, it feels exactly the same. That’s not to say none of what has happened in the last 3 weeks has not been special. The past 5 years have pretty much been a trial marriage with my Russian grandmother, so this is simply the formalizing of it all. Before, we were happy together, like The Turtles’ tune, and now we are happily married.

An amazingly flush Diabeto and the Brothers Pinoy

I’d like to thank everyone that shared the occasion with us and those that wished us well. Even the Filipinos and that dirty old man I work with graced us with their presence. Special thanks to the Don for his gift of a set of stainless steel Knorks. We are forever indebted to him.

The ceremony was held at The Jewel Box in Forest Park, here in St. Louis. The weather cooperated and things went swimmingly. Best man Dan Roth managed to keep the rings in his posession until it was time for them to be exchanged. We were so appreciative of this feat achieved by our hippy friend.

At the reception, Dan was a real hit with his speech, during which he quoted Bob Dylan by using his line “How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man?” and said I must’ve walked down my last road. He also said something about my bride and I sailing away into the horizon, which makes me wonder if he got the brown acid. He also did a great rendition of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” with my sister’s friend Cara, whcih makes one wonder further (click to watch the video).

My new sister-in-law, Amy, gave a heart wrenching toast, which quoted my first words to her…”I’m bleeding.” When I went to pick her older sister up for our first date, she approached me at my vehicle to tell me that if I hurt her sister, she would kick my ass. All I could say was “I’m bleeding,” because I just rushed out of the house with a bad shave.

Photos from the wedding and reception will be available for viewing at Collages.net until 7/27. The event name is VARAGONA and the password is 9478. Enjoy.

My babushka and I went on our honeymoon to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It’s great to forget about what time of the day it is, what day of the week it is, and who you are, all without having horribly much to drink. The only drawback is that I get patchy burns in the sun. You’d think my Italian blood would put me more on par with my Pinoy brethren, but my midsection ended up looking more like Gorbachev’s head.

We did go parasailing, but have yet to develop the photos. That is probably for the best, considering I was whining like Woody Allen, because the knot didn’t look secure and we were over water that I couldn’t see through, except for the masses of jellyfish, that I later found out were an order whose sting couldn’t hurt humans.

The best part of the honeymoon was that we accidentally went during Bike Week, which happens every Memorial Day weekend. First the Harley boys and girls come through town and take over. We missed them. Then the sport bikers come through, which is mainly made up of young black men. Behind 80% of those men on their bikes, was a large assed black female, with variations of decoration on their buttocks, ranging from fishnet to thong to a lightly draped short skirt. We sure did get a kick out of all of the cottage cheese we got to see. Although I did not get a photo of the real thing, the following t-shirt on sale there, illustrates this amazing sight.

And then it was back to the rat race of the IRS and our new married life. We’ll always have those asses though.


>Weird Scenes Inside the Depot

>Work has been odd lately. I really can’t tell if I like it or despise it. The IRS is a demanding group. The Don has begun referring to me as Lieutenant, which is flattering, but at the same time, puts a lot of pressure on me.

“Keep the Filipinos in line,” he tells me. “They’re creating payroll issues with hours. You’re gonna have to gaffle ’em.”

Did I sign up for this?

No, but my Italian heritage gave me this life, and I must accept it. Even if I have a BA, my calling is in retail servicing. If only the benefits were better, and the damn pirates stayed away from my products.

I have said this before, but I worked for the major fertilizer and grass seed company last year. This year, I work for their competition. My job is to make displays and make the products look pretty. These dirty grass seed pirates from the competition feel the need to destroy my displays by trashing them or slashing holes through it until it is unrecognizable like a baby calf at the veal factory. I come into my stores only to find emptied bags of seed, with holes riddled all over it. This is not the work of mice, no, this is most definitely the work of the pirates.

Why do they do it? Is there a sick satisfaction in it? I suppose so, because there is no monetary bonus for these workers at the bottom of the totem pole. They move our products where no one can see them and take over prime spaces. They throw my displayers away. BASTARDS!

They have a stranglehold on the stores that they are merchandised in because of their fancy national advertising campaigns with B-grade baseball stars. They sell more than the rest only because they defeat their competition through these dirty tactics. Management can’t do anything about it. They are bullied as well or bribed with promises of enough free fertilizer to cover 20,000 square feet and kill all of the pests that inhabit their lawn.

Our only way to fight back is to fight fire with fire. They have more manpower though. The trick is to squash them when their not looking, to use trick plays. And only then will they swim with the fishes.

Aside from the pirates, one of the my cohorts in the IRS has been exiled. When things like this occur, it is only human for rumors and innuendo to follow. I can only hope that this isn’t the beginning of the downfall of the IRS. If one guy slips up, does he take others with him? I doubt it.

Change happens at the most inopportune times. You can only roll with the punches. That goes for the war with your opponents and the drama of everyday relationships.

And you must always watch your back. I was once a pirate. I have learned much.


>Bachelor/ette Party Hijinks

>I am a married man in less than two weeks. So far it hasn’t sunk in much, except during our premarital counseling sessions. It’s so much fun to review why this is and is not a good idea. Luckily, it mostly is.

On Friday, we had our joint Bachelor/ette Party. We envisioned it at as an extravaganza with stripping midgets and plenty of penis and boobie macaroni and cheese for everyone. Neither happened due to lack of funds…you’d be surprised how much a stripping midget costs. Throw in your obligatory half off joke there.

Anyway, the place we planned to have it at turned out to be closed when we got there. Having connections with the management is not necessarily a good thing. So please never give business to The All American Bar and Grill in St. Louis County.

Thank you.

About 15 of our party showed up there on time to find us gathered at picnic tables in front.

What almost was a Bachelor/ette Party Picnic

We left that joint for greener pastures in South City at Crusoe’s, where we had a grand ole time.

The entire Filipino Mafia came to send me off into the marital abyss by purchasing multiple alcoholic beverages for me and my lady. Most of our wedding party was there as well, including best man Daniel Rothstein, who floated around in an inebriated state.

Hollywood Daniel Rothstein, the best man

It is difficult at such events to spend equal time with folks. I tried as best I could with a fake ball and chain attached to my ankle given to me by one Babyface Pinoy. Penis lollipops were distributed to the female guests, and were surprisingly worth my money, since they lasted through the 3 hour plus affair. I even sampled one myself.

I did my best to rope off our area of the bar with “Orgy Zone” caution tape, but it kept getting wrapped around people like myself and Babyface Pinoy’s little brother, whose given name is Marquestro, especially by some dirty old man that works with us in the Italian Retail Service. He told me it was okay because he bought me a shot of the finest Irish whiskey in the place. I told him I had the finest Irish lady in the place and if he so much laid a hand on her, I would have Big Boy Pinoy annihilate him.

A dirty old man introduces Marquestro the Pinoy to the Orgy Zone.

Things went well though, considering the love in the air and the location mishap to begin the night. Most left saying they had never been so drunk. Since I paid for nothing, except for some penis-shaped pops, I would say the night was a rousing success.

>Cheaper Gas In St. Louis Than In Kuwait?!


Babyface Pinoy called me yesterday to tell me he discovered a pump at his local BP on the south side that was dispensing gas from the Silver slot at 27 cents a gallon. He had already filled up three of the cars at his place for under fifteen bucks. I explained to him that we couldn’t drop everything and go there, but we would head that way once we were done with our business at the cemetery.

The few in on the secret

An hour later we arrived at the station. Babyface was there getting ready to fill up car number four. People were at the pumps looking pretty angry. Apparently the cheap gas had run out. At least that’s what the first excuse we got was. An Arab looking fellow who was working there ran out and began pulling the pumps out of people’s tanks. A few got yelled at him for touching their vehicles. It looked as if punches would be thrown, but it didn’t happen. More cars pulled up to cash in on this deal that was spreading by word of mouth. The worker intercepted each new customer saying that the pumps were out of order. This obviously was not true considering some had just put as much as 34 gallons in their tank and for under ten bucks!

34 Gallons for Under $10!

The folks at the pumps refused to leave until they received gas at the price which was still indicated on the pump at 27 cents a gallon. They said someone spoke with the cops and the officer told them that those at the pumps should receive it at the current price. The Arab worker ran out with register tape in hand (which he was keeping very close to hide it from some) telling people to leave because they were closed, which was contrary to the neon sign in the window.

We stuck around a little longer until the worker and some of his cohorts got the price corrected, which should have just involved moving a decimal point on the computer. The crowd slowly disappeared as their dreams of dirt cheap gas were flushed down the drain. For several hours though in south St. Louis, the gas was cheaper than it was in Kuwait.

>Ours…and The Don’s Gas Crisis

>The Don of The Italian Retail Service visited me at work the other day and sat me down at a pation furniture display.

“Don Diabeto, something is troubling me”, he said in a somber tone.

“What is it sir? Do you need me to crack a patio umbrella over some poor soul’s shins?”

“No, Don Diabeto. We may need to castrate somebody though. You see I went to get gas today. I gave the attendant a Lincoln. He proceeded to pull a cup out and fart into it. He then handed me the cup and went on his merry way.” The Don was obviously tense and angered.

“This is the price we pay for giving others freedom, liberty, and democracy“, I retorted.

Just then, I faintly heard the polyphonic version of The Grateful Dead’s “Casey Jones”. It was Daniel Rothstein, of The Daniel Rothstein Blues Revolution and my best man for my upcoming wedding.

“Jimbo, I dreamt about that guy you blogged about, the crazy one that said he would castrate Bush.”

I listened on.

“I was just watching him. Suddenly Bush appeared and he was writhing in pain, clutching himself. The guy told him, ‘Now you are just a Bush.'”

I considered telling The Don this humorous story, but thought it might rub him wrong at this point and proceed to fart in a cup and rub it in my face. I told Daniel goodbye.

“Who is worth disrespecting me and interrupting our conversation?”, he demanded of me.

“Oh, that was Baby Face Pinoy. He says he’s stranded in Jesusland without any gas.”

I saw the steam burst from my boss’s ears. “I’LL GIVE THAT FILIPINO SOME GAS.”

The Don stormed off, and I fell asleep under a gazebo indoors, dreaming of gnomes and Butt Paste.

>Strange Days in Jesusland with the IRS

>I spent three long days in Poplar Bluff, Missouri starting on Monday and going through Thursday. I had no choice in the matter. They wanted the best and the brightest of the local IRS (Italian Retail Service) chapter to head down there to clean up one of those big box home improvement warehouses. The Don couldn’t make the journey though, due to another Don coming into town to look into the local boys’ retail servicing skills.

The drive there was long; a third of it spent on a single lane highway. We even passed through Zion, Missouri. Zion is the New Jerusalem according to the Church of Latter Day Saints. I saw no such thing. We must still be years away. Someone should tell all of the flea market owners there to clear out if that’s the case.

It does make sense that Zion was along the way though. Poplar Bluff itself seemed to be the capital of Jesusland. After work, we drove the streets of this odd town, because there was nothing else to do, except admire the new coat of paint on the Kmart or the recent expansion of the KFC. During our drives, I spotted a church on about every 3 blocks. There were quite a few Baptist, but also Protestant and Jehovah’s Witness places of worship to boot. I really wonder what the ratio of people to each church is.

He certainly does. That’s how we ended up in this mess.

There weren’t any Catholic churches in sight, not to say that there aren’t any at all, but it is still worth noting. At least I didn’t have to fear an abundance of nuns and priests to go along with the abundance of churches.

I can’t say the townsfolk necessarily seemed religious. The few I encountered weren’t the kindest though. They were a bit more relaxed. As we worked at the retail establishment, workers would take turns napping on their breaks on the patio furniture we assembled not too long ago.

At the store, my brethren of the Filipino Mafia and I encountered oodles of colonies of mice, which seems to be a theme in my life. They were attracted to the mounds of grass and bird seed we were re-arranging. As we moved each pallet of seed, we would reveal a layer of seed, which was sprinkled with mouse excrement and the smell of their urine.

Grass seed nest of mice

One by one, live adult mice and their babies, even the pinkies, would crawl out. It startled our Gonzo foreman so much that he stomped a few.

An artist’s rendition of our foreman

(actually a swell painting of Hunter S. Thompson by Prince of Space)

“My god, there gonna eat us alive”, he told us.

They did outnumber us, but as friend to the mice from my escapades, I tried to take the friendlier route. When Gonzo looked away, I nudged dozens of fetal mice to safety, where most likely they would die without the assistance of the adults, but I felt better at least. I felt like anOscar Schindler to my rodent friends. That isn’t to say we were out to kill them, but we had to disrupt their nests for our job, and as they scurried about, there were unwanted casualties.

Fetal mice fleeing the nest.

The stench was horrible. The ammonia in their urine was unavoidable. One of the Pinoys fell over wretching from the scents entering the feelers in his nose. He became angry and began kicking in the air, such as he does when he has a nightmare (I was his roommate). We all became angry…you can’t help it once you’ve seen a mad Filipino. There was grass and bird seed scattered everywhere and it was littered with the waste of what seemed to be at least 100 mice. Witnessing this made me feel better about my apartment, which has only seen 11 die in about two months.

It took us an entire day to clean the area of the mess, which boiled down to 13 plus hours of work. The mice helped the store lose more money by destroying its seed than the stores in the city here lose to theft. The four of us needed more than showers. We needed someone to hose us down–prison style.

Since there were no prisons in sight, we simply showered and looked for a nightcap. Just on the outskirts of town was a new joint called Shenanigans. A cowboy, with that generic Jeff Foxworthy look, carded us after we entered. We sat down to a table and a waitress carded us. I had a feeling this place must’ve been caught serving to 12 year olds before. That’s forgiveable when you’re that close to Arkansas though.

There was an odd mood to the place. It looked normal enough, with the dark lighting and neon signs. The music seemed to be coming from a nice-sized boombox though and they only played cover songs. I had no idea there was a punk version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”, but I guess you can make anything into a punk song. My favorite is a take on John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane”.

The menu we received reminded me of a high school test. It was simply printouts of black type on white paper, which were stapled together. The appetizers were all $4.95, and were the usual bar fare, except for the bowl of barbequed smokies, which Big Boy Pinoy ordered. There was also Cap’N Crunch coated chicken strips for $6.95, which were tempting, but you can’t pay that much for something that you don’t know much about in a place smack dab in the middle of Jesusland.

Since the day was so crappy, you can’t really expect the night to be much better. Big Boy felt ripped off by the Deppression era portion of smokies. Baby Face Pinoy got potato skins, with cheese that wasn’t even melted. Only my meal, which consisted of mighty fine spicy hot wings, was satisfying.

The entertainment consisted on vintage athletic competitions on TV, such as the baton throwing and weightlifting championships, which were interesting, but not enough to lift our mood. We considered dining and dashing, but I reminded the boys of the fate of the men in Deliverance, so we paid, but snubbed on the tip.

Wednesday went a lot smoother, but still almost as long. The mice frolicked around us, almost taunting us, but we didn’t uncover any nests. We just wanted to leave that place. We finished what we could, which didn’t fit our required amount, but what can you do when you’re fending off rodents left and right. It was by far our worst experience in our field, and we are the best in our field. We won the goddamned Retail Servicing Cup.

As we left Poplar Bluff, I got a stomach ache. It was from a nasty Chinese buffet we had earlier, but I think it was also from everything else we endured. I looked around at my co-workers as my belly churned. I knew we would never be the same after our experiences in this odd place. What we shared couldn’t possibly be conveyed to others, but hopefully you can understand a bit.

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