Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Oh That's Interesting... And Funny!

I'm a big fan of the sort of history you never learned in history class--secrets and coverups that the books keep out to maintain our patriotism for America as kids--so when I bump into some good readin', I feel the need to pass it along, especially when it's hilarious.

My good history readin' sent me to lots of other good readin', so I'm passing that along, too. Be warned that these are very funny yet also crass and vulgar at times. There are definitely some Not Safe For Work words used in these articles, but for the most part they're just extremely interesting and rather funny.

Did you guys know all of this stuff? Even I haven't read through all these yet, but I thought I'd put together a collection for all the time-wasting I'll be doing after this final week of school wraps up!

Enjoy! :)


Five Famous Inventors Who Stole Their Big Idea

Seven Great Men In History (And Why You Should Hate Them)

The 5 Historical Figures Who Died The Weirdest Deaths

The 5 Most Ridiculous Lies You Were Taught in History Class

History’s 7 Most Astounding Sexual Résumés

The 10 Most Insane Medical Practices in History


Five Horrifying Food Additives You’ve Probably Eaten Today

The 6 Most Terrifying Foods in the World

Movies & Celebrities

Five Awesome Movies Ruined By Last-Minute Changess

Six Least Plausible Jobs Held By Steven Seagal Characters

The 20 Most Bizarre Celebrity Baby Names

Where Aren’t They Now? The 7 Strangest Post-Sitcom Careers

Treason! Eight Celebrities You Won’t Believe Aren’t American


The World’s Most Ridiculous Sports Team Names

Nine Baseball Moments More Wretched Than Steroids

Words & Origins

Nine Words That Don’t Mean What You Think

The Bizarre History of 10 Common Sayings

The Gruesome Origins of Five Popular Fairy Tales

Ten Words or Phrases You Won’t Believe Shakespeare Invented

Bad Asses

The Five Pimpingest Historical Figures

The 5 Most Bad-Ass Presidents in History

The 5 Ballsiest Con Artists of All Time

The 9 Most Bad-Ass Bible Verses

The 5 Biggest Badass Popes

Myths & Urban Legends

Your Mom Lied: Five Common Body Myths Debunked

The 5 Creepiest Urban Legends That Happen to be True

Grab Bag

Seven Insane Conspiracy Theories That Actually Happened

Eight Child Prodigies So Amazing That They’ll Ruin Your Day

The 6 Most Frequently Quoted B.S. Statistics

The 9 Manliest Names in the World

Gay Bigfoot and the 7 Weirdest Mythological Creatures in the World

Five Psychological Experiments That Prove Humanity is Doomed

Six Things You Didn’t Know You Could Get Addicted To

The 5 Most Amazing Real-Life MacGuyver Moments

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Not Next Weekend, But the One After That

The third awesome road trip of my life will commence in exactly two weeks' time. Trips past have included the "Midwest Road Fest," which covered Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, as well as "Beer and Now: On the Road Again," which tooks us through Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

This one, "Road Trip All-Stars," is going to guide us through Kentucky and Tennessee as we enjoy lots of blues music, barbecue ribs, and so much more. It's going to be ridiculous.

Below are this year's shirts. There are five of us going this time (the most ever), including Little Brother, Kevin Clark, Craig, Ed, and myself. If you're wondering why the nicknames are so goofy it's because we decided to go with bluesy names this time around. I, for example, will be known as "Peachpit."

This is going to be ridiculous...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Student Quotes, Year 4

With the 2007-2008 school year all but over, it's time to post my annual list of silly things my students have said. Some of these, as always, are pretty darn hilarious. Enjoy!

“After years of the case, they finally tested the sperm found from the crime scene for DNA. The DNA turned out to be a male.”
-a student's FBI Dossier paper

“I wanted to be a vegetarian this last summer, but my dad wouldn’t let me.”
- Darci

Michael: “What are you guys talking about?”
Darci: “None of your business. This is an A-B-C conversation.”
Justine: “Already Been Chewed?”
Me: “I think she means, ‘This is an A and B conversation, so C your way out of it.’ “
Darci: “Oh. Yeah, that’s what I meant.”

Me: “Other than the word ‘romantic’ meaning ‘lovey-dovey,’ what else could it mean?”
Darci: “Is it like when my grandma tells my grandpa to stop getting fresh with her?”

Jordan: “That character in the story died of epidemic.”
Me: “No, she died of epilepsy. But you were close.”

From Becky (another teacher in the department):
I am giving background info on the construction of the Berlin Wall on Monday. One girl raises her hand and says: “So, where does Gandhi fit into this?”

Jordan: “Didn’t the slaves invent the Big Dipper for the Underground Railroad?”

Ethan, reading a copy of my magazine: “I wish I could be cool like Brigs and write an article for a magazine.”
Travis: “I just wish I could write complete sentences with periods and stuff.”

Me: “Does anyone know how Stonewall Jackson got his nickname?”
Alissa: “Isn’t it because he sat funny, like a wall?”
Me: “What does that even mean?”

Tiffany, in the midst of discussing Harriet Tubman: “I thought she was the one who refused to sit on the bus?”

Ryan: “Hey Brigs, what’s the word for scaredness?”
Me: “You mean fear?”
Ryan: “Fear!”

Me: “Okay Beau, let’s say that your best friend told you he was gay. Would you still be friends with him?”
Beau, a very serious homophobe: “Well, I don’t know. Probably. I couldn’t just stop being friends with him.”
Me: “But you’d still hang out with him, though, right?”
Beau, totally serious: “Yeah of course. But there’d have to be a supervisor.”

Me: “Who found a connection for the simile, people are like stars?”
Megan: “People are like stars—sometimes they get shot.”

Some of Becky’s annual Columbus quotes:

“He is Shakespeare from olden London.”

“From the looks of the guy he looks like he could at least be a class one or class two in the social classes.”

“He does not look like he is married and if he was then his wife either died or left him.”

“He is wearing a wig because his hairline is really far back on his head or it is reseeding.”

A student's test response about the Declaration of Independence: “The king of England allowed slavery. He also highered the taxes of Americans.”

Me: “Adam has gotten a lot bigger and stronger since freshman year. He’s not on HGH, is he?”
Jared Mugler: “I have ADHD.”
Me: "Not the same thing, buddy."

Me: “So in Leaves of Grass, Whitman believes that when you die, you decompose into the soil and become part of the earth. It’s kind of this Circle of Life thing—that if you can become the nutrients that become the grass, you can live forever.”
Sami, totally serious: “So what happens when you mow the lawn?”

One student, in answering a test question about Longfellow’s “A Psalm of Life,” gave an interesting dyslexic response to a question that should’ve been answered, “Be not like dumb, driven cattle.” Instead, he gave, “Be not like drunk drivin cattle.” Yup, mind those inebriated bovine drivers!

“Velocial Raptors”
-One senior's spelling of “velociraptors”

Some goof-ups from my English 2 kids’ Civil War letters:

Garrett: “I feel that the South is about to claim its own independents.” On what? Their 1860 tax returns?

Joe: “They then surrenderendered on the 13th day of December.” Doesn’t he mean the 13th day of Decemberember?

Ori: “My grandparents don’t like it when I wear my dirty baseball hat. They say it’s diminutive to my character.”
Me: “They actually used those words?”
Ori: “Not exactly, but they told me I looked like a vagabond.”

Megan, a Creative Writing student, does some very strange hiccup thing, and I say: “What was that?”
Megan: “It was one of those things, like, you know when you inhale air?”
Noah: “You mean like breathing?”

Noah, in an assignment where he was asked to guess where the phrase “Get Off Your High Horse” comes from:

“Back in the ‘60s, hippies were rampant and they believed in free love and flowers and all that crap. What most people don’t know is that hippies loved horses and would let the horses experiment with drugs. So whenever a hippie, thinking they were all pure and better than normal people, came riding up on their stoned horse, they of course would hear something like, ‘Get off your high horse!’”

Me: “So Ethan, you got a big date for prom this weekend?”
Ethan: “You know it! I got her a crochet and everything.”
Me: “A crochet?”
Ethan: “Wait… Crochet is that thing old people sew with. What do they call it then? The flowers that go on your wrist?”
Me: “A corsage, you mean?”
Ethan: “Yeah! A corsage!”

As Bill Simmons would say, Yup, these are my students...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Flipping the [Expletive]ing Bird

One of my students flipped me off earlier this week. That same day, another student dropped an f-bomb on me right in the middle of a conversation the two of us were having. Neither student got into any trouble. Try and figure out that riddle.

The answer? Both former students performed their vulgar deeds on the senior trip at Six Flags Great American on Thursday of last week, and neither action was done maliciously.

The girl who flipped me off happened to be a member of the group of students I was currently riding roller coasters with, and before every ride I’d sit right behind her and tell her I heard some kid died on this ride. After about three or four repetitions of that, she got fed up and flew me the bird.

“Did you just flip me off?” I said incredulously.

“Oh my God! I’m so sorry—I didn’t even think about it,” she replied, giggling.

It was funny. I laughed it off.

Then later, the other student asked me what the Iron Wolf was, and I explained to him that it’s a coaster you experience while standing up.

“Are you [expletive]ing kidding me?” he asked.

Stunned, I retorted, “Did you just say what I think you said?”

His excuse was a pathetic one: “I didn’t even realize I was saying it until it came out. Sorry, Brigs.” But then he chuckled slyly and we continued on our way to ride the [expletive]ing crazy roller coaster where you stand up while you ride.

It was funny. I laughed it off.

Understand that in a school setting I wouldn’t have tolerated either action, but considering these kids were just three days away from graduating I knew it was time to let my little birdies fly. I didn’t have the heart to berate what I suddenly considered young adults, especially when both of them are terrific kids.

The whole day echoed the surreality of those moments because I was given the opportunity to see students as real people and not just minions I get to order around and assign essays to. On the bus ride home from the theme park I spoke with a lot of kids about college, love, parents, dreams, and memories. These weren’t like our previous classroom discussions from English 2; they were regular ol’ people discussions, and by the time they concluded, the experience had become one of the most rewarding of my teaching career.

Some students talked about the excitement and anxiety of leaving home. Others wondered about the difficulty of college and relationships and work. A handful just wanted to reminisce about funny moments from a class they took with me, and a couple even told me I was their favorite teacher (and, I think, actually meant it).

For some reason I’ve been looking at students very formally (though pleasantly) while they’re in school—the way a waitress might look at a customer. The minute I no longer had to see them as my job, I got to see them as people, and this particular graduating class is an especially bright, enjoyable group of young people.

Graduation was yesterday and I got to see all my kids experience that important rite of passage. When it was all over, some wanted hugs, some wanted to take a picture with me, and some just wanted to hear me say “Congratulations.” Whatever the request, I was happy to oblige.

The only thing I wouldn’t do is flip someone off or drop an f-bomb. I’ll save those for next year’s senior trip.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Define "Hero"

Everybody dreams of having the sort of sports moment where everything falls on your shoulders. At bat in the bottom of the ninth, two outs, down by one with a guy on third. Fourth and goal at the six-yard line with three seconds left in the game. Fending off beaters and dodging bludgers in a frantic race to catch the Golden Snitch before the other seeker. It’s all the same basic principle.

In eighth grade the majority of my sports fantasies came in the form of basketball, which happened to be the sport that would soon provide me with my own real-life heroic moment in athletics.

How could a kid not love basketball in 1996? Michael Jordan and the hometown Bulls were right in the middle of winning championships and the NBA was at the height of its popularity. Coincidentally, I was at the height of my height, having grown six inches the summer before junior high to the 5-foot-10 frame I still exhibit today (though I have put on a pound or fifty), making me a surprise call as the starting center on my eighth grade basketball team.

I was definitely tall—I’ll give me that—but I was also exceptionally awkward, which made all tasks requiring brain-body coordination nearly impossible. Rebounds came pretty easily for me since I was several inches taller than 90% of our league, but things like shooting and running with shoes on made me look like a limping flamingo in Nikes.

Basketball, however, is a game of confidence. There’s something called “The Zone,” in which a player gets hot for some reason and suddenly can’t miss a shot. Before high school I only had this experience once, but happily it came in the form of a major championship tournament game.

Allow me to set the scene: Every winter an area school hosted a tournament of sixteen teams from all over the northern part of the state. There were the usual teams from our own conference but also a handful of private schools from the Chicago area that we had never seen. Some of these groups consisted of children clearly from a pygmy race and would prove no real obstacle, but other teams had six-foot black kids with facial hair. Facial hair!

And of course our school’s rival, St. Joseph, came into the tournament heavily favored to win the whole thing. I know, I know… this sounds like the premise to a corny Disney sports flick, but these things really do happen in real life. I swear this is all totally true and that I didn’t steal it from “Mighty Ducks 3” or “Hoosiers.”

(Side note—if you were drafting a basketball team strictly from fictional players from sports movies, how could you select anyone but Teen Wolf with your first overall selection? Someone show me a scouting report on Michael J. Fox. You couldn’t guard that guy—he was an animal!)

My team, the Saints (it was a Catholic school, after all), breezed through the first three games of the aforementioned tournament without much trouble, sliding us easily right into the championship game against St. Joe’s. This championship game, ladies and gentlemen, was a battle between harsh rivals, right down to the bitter end. Kids were throwing elbows and fouling hard as both teams contiued to exchange baskets and the lead.

There was even a kid on St. Joe’s that would’ve been on our team that year had he not transferred out, which sounds even more like a minor plot point in a Disney sports movie. I’m totally blowing this story, aren’t I?

However you feel about the setup, the real suspense came at game’s end. We were up by three with twenty-something seconds left. Timmy, the kid who transferred away, took it in for a layup but got fouled with just about six seconds to go. He drained the first free-throw, cutting the lead to two, and then St. Joe took a timeout.

The purpose of this break was to instruct Timmy to miss this next one on purpose with the hope that they would get the ball back and sink another shot before time expired, thereby sending this clash of the titans into overtime.

Our coach Sam let us all know this was going to happen and told us to be on our toes for a big rebound. So when the clanged foul shot finally came to fruition, whose hands should that sexy orange orb fall right into?

Mine, baby. Mine.

Coach was screaming for me to pass the ball to a guard who shot free throws better that me, but I shut him out and cradled the thing into my gut like a pregnant woman having labor pains. The clock ran down, 6… 5… 4… and then the whistle blew. Up by two, I was going to have to sink at least one of two free throws to solidify the win (there was no three-pointer in eighth grade leagues back in those days). If I missed, St. Joe would have a chance to run it down the floor and get off one last shot to try and force overtime.

This time Sam called the timeout, basically looked me in the face and said I better not miss these damn free throws. “After Joel makes these shots, get back on defense and don’t foul.” Not “if” Joel makes these shots; “After.”

Now, as I mentioned before, most of my motor skills were still in the process of undergoing puberty with the rest of my body, so something as simple as draining an uncontested fifteen-foot free throw can quickly become arduous for a pubescent thirteen year-old.

But I was in a state of Zen. Everything in that little junior high school gym got pleasantly warm and surrounded me with an aura of fuzzy confidence. I stepped up to the line and bent down into my stance, lanky legs and knobby knees tilting as I practiced my shooting motions. The ref tossed me the ball, and I was finally provided my time to shine.

Usually in practice when I would shoot free throws, I would see the rim as this cold iron hole, unwelcoming and defensive. In my Zendom, however, I may as well have been tossing a tennis ball through a hula hoop. I nailed the first one without the ball touching even a little metal on the way down. Pure nylon, by the way, doesn’t make a “swish” sound; it’s more like a “twack,” which is infinitely more satisfying.

The second free throw is where I left my legacy. Knowing that I had this thing in the bag, I lofted the shot up in the exact same way as the first, but before I even heard that familiar “twack,” I turned my back to the hoop, threw up my arms like I was Julius Caesar after a great battle, and damn near pimp-walked down to the other end of the floor. One of the kids from St. Joe lofted up a half-court shot at the buzzer, but it was fruitless and futile. I, Joel Brigham, had sealed the deal. I was a hero.

I bet you’re wondering what I did after that. Disneyworld, obviously. They paid me a buttload for the movie rights.

Friday, May 09, 2008


How many people do you know that were shot out of cannons for a living? Three? Maybe four, tops? Well, then you know far more former circus performers than me. I only know one.

I’m aware of this because while admiring some black-and-white photographs of a young man performing pretzeline acrobatics, swinging on trapezes, and being rocketed out of a gigantic cannon, Mr. Wayne Wright basically approached Amy and I and sighed reminiscently, “Those were the days…”

This happened after one of our dance classes, which we are taking so we can perform a basic waltz at our wedding without me crushing any of my newlywed lady’s feet. Naturally, we had some questions about these remarkable pictures, and about Wayne’s past before he started teaching the Rumba and the Foxtrot in downtown Bloomington.

But before we get to that, you’ve probably got some questions of your own. If you’re a male friend of mine between the ages of 23 and 28, you’re wondering why in the name of Krishna I’d be taking dance lessons in the first place. I know, I know—you can practically hear the crack of the whip snapping in my not-too-distant married future, but women have to love guys who can dance. It’s a state law, man. Look it up.

Besides, to this day I can’t understand how a woman of Amy’s quality ever agreed to marry me in the first place, so I figure I’ll need every advantage I can get to make sure she forgets what a gigantic bum I am.

Not only that, but in just a few weeks’ worth of lessons I’ve already peeled back half of the big toenail on her right foot in an unfortunate Cha-Cha accident. Had we tried to do something unpracticed and fancy like that on our wedding night she unquestionably would’ve bled all over the rented dance floor, and believe me when I say we don’t have the extra funds in the wedding budget to cover a stain that significant.

While I’ve stepped on her toes at least three dozen times since class started, I’m doing so with less and less frequency as we continue to get better. She and I both were blessed with an instinctual grace, so at the very least we’ve got the steps down (which is more than we can say for some of the unfortunate dancers in our class).

So that’s what we had been up to, when about three sessions into things we noticed the pictures on the wall in the waiting room of the dance studio. At first we must’ve just assumed that they were décor for a room blessed with nothing else but musty hardwood floors and plain sky-blue walls. Upon closer inspection we thought, “Hey, that looks a little like Wayne!”

Mr. Wright is a pretty solid teacher. He’s a short little guy, but wiry, and probably somewhere in his 60s. His sparse, shaven white hair has receded to just about the knob on the back of his head, but his attire more than makes up for the youth lost on his noggin—flare collar shirts, comfortable dress pants, and the sort of undersized dull leather shoes only a 60-something dance instructor could pull off.

Patient and relatively soft-spoken, Wayne’s sense of humor is subtle and dry, and when he tells a joke he never laughs or even smiles at you to give an indication that it should’ve been funny. He faithfully assumes that you’ll be smart enough to get the humor in his playfully sarcastic jabs.

Personally, I like the dude, and for the most part I think Amy and I have done well in his class, so I felt comfortable asking if that was him being shot out of the cannon.

“Yes, that’s me. That was a long time ago, though.”

What does that feel like? Getting shot out of a big gun like that?

“Imagine the biggest rush of adrenaline you’ve ever had in your life, and then try to imagine something even more powerful than that. When you come out that thing you’re going over 100 miles per hour. You can’t imagine the rush.”

Apparently, they’d load you in that sucker with a platform towards the back of the barrel. Then when the gun powder exploded the platform would rush forward and catapult you into the wild blue yonder.

I’m surprised this hasn’t taken on the status of skydiving or bungee jumping. It’s the same basic combination of adrenaline and idiocy that the other two activities provide.

But Wayne wasn’t just a cannon guy. He also did these intense balance/gymnastic routines with his wife and his son—the kind you’d see those creepy clown people performing on Cirque du Sole. Also as a family, they’d fly from trapeze to trapeze, but Wayne said that was the easiest and most boring of the circus acts to perform. There was always a net beneath them. What fun is that?

His family even had a stage name. Something that sounded Italian, started with a “Z” and ended with an “I.” Something like “The Zaloucci Family Tumblers!” How ridiculously fascinating, right?

After about four or five questions it started to feel like we were prying into the personal past life of a man who probably has some deep, dark skeletons he doesn’t want let out of his closet. For example, when I asked what his son did now, he was aloof and made it sound as if he and his son no longer got along. We didn’t even ask about his wife, but he kept referring to her in the past tense. Death? Divorce? Alien Abduction?

It was just the tip of the iceberg for one of the most intriguing people I’ve ever met. There’s so much more I want to know, but wouldn’t it be rude to ask? What if his wife died by getting shot out of a cannon? Maybe he hates remembering all that stuff because the circus took her away from him.

Without that damn circus, I could know two people who got shot out of a cannon for a living. I still wouldn’t be caught up to three or four, but it would certainly make the deficit more surmountable.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Very Powerful Statement. Also, Wet.

I’m a gentle man by nature, but sometimes you just have to stick it to the man.

Let me explain.

As a 21-year-old college student desperate for summer employment, I took the first thing available to me: a wretched job working for the devil himself and his impish minions.

Our boss, a man-troll named Danny, oozed evil. His red, leathery skin and straw-like blonde hair appropriately complemented his deep, raspy voice and menacing claws. You think I’m exaggerating for the sake of hyperbole, but I assure you he was pure wickedness.

The job essentially entailed Danny sending my friend Cole and me out to various gas stations to complete crappy upkeep tasks like power-washing diesel fuel off of mucky pumps or shoveling the sludgement out of filthy car wash basins. The company we worked for owned several stations, and it was our job to do all the horrible stuff that minimum wage-earning teenagers already employed at these buildings wouldn’t even do.

Cole and I both are weak men we usually just listen to authority and do as we’re told. Better to be submissive than unnecessarily confrontational, I always say. And since we were pretty sure that Danny was under the employ of the Lord of the Underworld, we blindly followed whatever barked order he spewed in our directions.

Unfortunately, one of his assignments sent us to a truck stop in Gilman for an unreasonable amount of time. I am neither a fan of Gilman nor truck stops, so our long list of ridiculous tasks to complete—painting rails, power-washing pumps, wiping down the underside of the canopy, and picking up trash in the giant truck parking lot behind the building—did not exactly get my tail wagging.

However, after days and days of drudgery we finally got everything on the list completed. Sunburned, crabby, and muddied with a sandpapery combination of suntan lotion and dirt specks, we thought we’d head home an hour early our last day at this particular assignment. We’d had enough of that place, so we packed up our things and went to let the store manager know we were heading out.

But Gilman’s slumping, middle-aged female manager, a fellow troll-person probably spawned asexually from Danny’s armpit in an ancient ceremony of the hell circles, decided she’d like to keep us busy until the work day was over. This horn-toothed sprite had another job for us to do.

She wanted us to clean the bathrooms.

In a truck stop.

“No,” we said, trembling ever so slightly—something in between rage and fear. “That’s not our responsibility.”

But that didn’t stop her from calling Demon Danny and letting him know we were done early. “Can I keep them busy for this last hour?” she asked, giving us a puckish grin that deepened our ire. Danny, of course, said that her request was perfectly reasonable, and even though I couldn’t hear him on the other end of the phone, I’m pretty sure he belted out a raspy Vincent Price laugh like at the end of “Thriller.” Both of them were real bastards.

Acid burbled in the depths of my gut and for once in my life I knew how the Incredible Hulk felt right before he turned all green and strong. Except I’m pretty sure I remained relatively frail and may have exhibited only a slightly darker shade of pink in my flushed sunburned cheeks.

In any event, we were going to have to clean those damn bathrooms. There was no way around it.

For a minute Cole and I just stood in starting at the door to the men’s restroom, yellow rubber gloves and a bucket full of industrial strength sponges in tow. Any good director producing an idie film about this experience would’ve zoomed in really close onto one of our eyes in a black-and-white shot as a single tear rolled down our cheek. Then some artsy violin music would kick in and the emotional effect would be truly impressive.

But this was not an artistic moment at all. There were a few moments were we silently imagined the types of men who went number two in those toilets. Giant men with hairy stomachs and dirty socks. Lengthy stubble and smelly flatulence. And probably the sort of bowel movements that curved around the oval of the toilet’s mouth like a giant brown horseshoe. I’m sorry for the inappropriate imagery but there’s no other way to create a sense of empathy for our situation at the time. We did not, under any circumstances, want to do this.

When we finally walked into the room I actually threw up in my mouth a little bit. The walls were grimy, the ceiling tiles were an odd shade of brown, and splotches of ricocheted hand grease splayed three feet away from the faucet in every direction.

“Oh hell no,” Cole said. And we immediately marched to the manager and said, “We’re not cleaning those bathrooms. They’re disgusting. That’s what your gas station employees are for. Clean your own bathroom.”

We felt pretty proud of ourselves for standing up for what is good and just, but we should’ve known it wouldn’t be that easy.

“You heard what Danny said. You’re going to do what I tell you to do. Do I need to call him again, or are you going to go clean those bathrooms?”

Okay, so we lost the verbal battle, but the war was far from over.

Cole and I aren’t usually spiteful, but we are extremely creative. For you math majors out there, spite + creativity = sticking it to the man, which brings us to our story’s climax.

On the back of our F150 we had a trailer to haul around our industrial strength power-washer for cleaning off the diesel pumps. This thing was powerful, friends. Strong enough to strip the chrome off a bumper. During training Danny told us not to put our hands in the line of fire if we valued our finger flesh.

In our heads we must have truly believed there was only one way to clean a bathroom that disgusting. For my own moral peace of mind, I have to believe that our intentions were entirely professional in dragging that heavy power-washer hose into the building and through the men’s bathroom door.

Cole cranked the ignition from outside and the giant machine roared to life. It was on the other side of the building, but you could feel the rumble and smell the exhaust throughout the store. We stood in that disgusting bathroom like Terminator 2 and smiled at each other, knowing full well that we could end up fired for this. If we had sunglasses to flip down coolly off of out foreheads, we totally would’ve done it.

Then, we power-washed the living bejezzus out of that festering, disease-riddled facility like the prize for doing so was entrance into heaven. Grime leaked down the walls and poo mist swirled all over the room. Steam filled up the entire area and the walls started to condense. After three or four good minutes of spraying the hell out of that restroom we stopped to let the smoke clear.

There were white streaks running across the once yellowy-brown walls—the work of our incredibly powerful hot water stream—and the sink area was pretty clean, too. The only problem was the three inches of water on the floor and the completely saturated ceiling tiles. Whoops.

The incredibly wet mess we left behind didn’t keep us from laughing heartily for the entire drive away from Gilman’s hell mouth. Better to skedaddle before the Queen of the Trolls discovered our handy work and got us fired.

For the record, we did keep our jobs and made it through the summer (though later trips to Gilman for other reasons got us the dirtiest of looks from our new arch-nemesis), but for at least a day Cole and I got the gumption to stick it to the man. Or woman. Or beast.

Whatever. Somebody got stuck, and it felt great.