By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) I work Monday through Friday nights at the restaurant along with entertaining you here and not entertaining teenagers at school. I’m an American hero. After the usual dinner rush that happens between 5:30 and 7:30, the amount of deliveries slows down to the point where I can usually catch most of a major sporting event on a nice flatscreen TV that’s just inside the dine-in area and catch portions on the radio when a random delivery gets called in.
Wednesday night something awful happened, though.
See, starting last year late in the NBA season, a customer began showing up that I didn’t recognize (I’ve worked at this place for eight years, and there are a lot of regulars) who would sit at the bar and drink and eat—nothing unusual there. Thing is, he was showing up for every Bulls game and then every NBA playoff game. Fine, right? Hoops fan. No problem.
Actually, big damn problem. This idiot not only is one of the dumbest basketball fans I’ve ever been around, BUT HE’S ALSO LOUD ABOUT IT. And he’s the kind of guy that has to comment on every. Single. Damn. Play. Then he also expects you to engage in his brilliant analysis, such as: every missed shot is taken by a player who sucks. Is there anything short of cancer worse than a stranger who is prolifically stupid about something who doesn’t know it AND wants to converse with you about it? A person without a filter who doesn’t understand when you don’t wish to speak with them?
After the 2011 NBA Playoffs—POOF—the dude is gone and never to be seen again… until the 2012 Playoffs began. I got a text message from my cousin/coworker who wishes awful things on this man as much as I do while I was on a delivery that just read: “He’s here.” I didn’t even need to ask. Back on his barstool stuffing appetizers in his face and spitting crumbs and idiocy out to anyone who wants to listen. And most don’t.
While I would usually have to endure this moron from a distance—the bar is on the opposite side of the room where “my” TV is—I at least didn’t have to engage in any conversation with him. Until Wednesday.
When loud buffoon showed up, the bar was full of people watching Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Loud assclown’s face began to contort in the way an infant’s does when it first learns that poop is not edible. I was ecstatic. I wanted to point and laugh in his face that he was stuck with hockey and wouldn’t be able to regale the bar with nuggets like “This Garnett has been good for a long time.” Few times have I been happier to see someone so dejected. Supremely satisfied, I turned my back to the bar and began to take in the Heat/Celtics game.
“This is a big game” I heard shortly thereafter. But not from the normal distance. It was…
I turned around. “Big game, right?” In a booth. The booth I lean my back against whenever I’m fixated on the TV above. Within arms’ reach of me. Within the distance where I could reach out and dig my fingers into his eyes. Deep into his skull until I reached the breezy space that a brain should occupy. Where I could bend slightly, grab a butter knife, and cut out his tongue and fill his blowhole with salt. But management frowns on killing or maiming the clientele unfortunately.
As panic set in, I dropped the remote, which made a sound similar to this guy smacking his lips as he ate. As I knelt to gather the batteries that fell out I heard, “Well, at least you won’t be needing those.” Huh? What did that mean?
Resigned to the situation, I inched further away from him to where I had to crane my neck to see the TV at a reasonable angle. I was going to make the best of it.
“That Rondo sucks, don’t he?” A tiny twitch of my eyelid.
A timeout. I flip over to the hockey game. “Whoa, what are you doing?” Oh, the customer wants no flipping to hockey during breaks in the action. Okay. The customer is always right. I returned the remote in my trembling hand to the bar. I wept silently.
He is more immortal than man, I tell you. I refused to respond to any of his questions or comments, yet he kept. On. Talking. Commenting. Pondering. Chewing. Slurping. Burping. Shouting. Giggling. His lack of self-awareness was beyond comprehension. He was some sort of brilliantly awful SNL sketch.
I don’t remember much of the game because this guy managed to gradually suck my brain out through my ears. Every play was a foul unless a foul was called, and then he didn’t understand why that was a foul. At one point I remember him saying that he liked Manu Ginobli coming out of college. I almost attempted to have his food tampered with, but I couldn’t remember how to say “poison” or “mucus” in Spanish.
From time to time I would walk over to the bar to check on the hockey game. At one point a patron asked me, “You okay? You don’t look so hot.” I whimpered something in reply and slowly shuffled back to hell.
A newer driver was on the clock at the time, too. Really nice guy. New drivers are always very nice because they haven’t had their souls crushed yet by pizza delivery. Too nice. He stopped to watch some of the action at one point. “Mufflargin robble nargin” the beast bellowed. (In the second half of the game my brain could no longer register his speech.) “I know, right?” chuckled the other driver.
What? Wait, no. No. You can’t acknowledge him, man! You can’t make him think he’s insightful and funny! Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God. I’m having a stroke. This isn’t happening. He’s indestructible now.
Someone has accepted him. This is bad, this is bad, this is bad. The other driver walked away to take a delivery like a puppy who doesn’t know its leash is wrapped around a card table full of beverages.
Now this juggernaut of stupid wanted responses from me. “Wobbin chobbin rumblobbin. Right…? Right?” I turned slowly toward him, and mechanically and silently nodded as though I was permitting my executioner to continue. “Right. Mibbin plibbin ibbibblin.”
After a bathroom break that consisted mostly of contemplating eating the towel dispenser, I returned to my cell only to hear, “You’re pretty quiet for a sports writer.” Bullets entering chambers.
“Um… what?” I rasped.
“The waitress said you write about sports for some website.” Spinning the chamber. “What’s it called?”
“I… uh… me do for Bleacher Report.”
“But I thought you wrote for…” the waitress began until I decapitated her with my eyes. Trigger slowly pulling back.
“I’ll have to check it out. Any good?”
“More of a hobby. Nothing serious.”
“Ah, gotcha. So that’s why you still deliver pizzas.” My vision became cloudy, and I smelled burnt toast.
More bouncing ball going in basket and blurting out of inane things. There was even the joy of overtime.
“Think the Bulls should trade Boozer for Rondo?”
I’m told I screamed before running to my car. I can’t recall. I spent the rest of the game with my head pressing against the steering wheel hoping my head would explode amid the yawning of Dr. Jack Ramsay yawning through the color commentary of the game.
I tell you my harrowing tale because some of you reading this are that thing that wouldn’t shut up. You are that awful, subhuman mass of gelatinous flesh that goes to a bar, bar/restaurant, bar/golf course, wherever, and does not bring with you that mechanism us normal people have in our heads that screens for random, pointless things coming out of our mouths. That teeny little fella that lets us know, “Hey, these other people don’t find you interesting or humorous whatsoever—notice how you have to always speak first and nobody invites you into conversation?—so maybe it’s a good idea to shut the hell up.”
My restaurant mortal enemy is not the only one, I know. There are many of him. Some of them can read. They just can’t read people.
And there are many like me who just want to watch a game somewhere outside our homes without someone hijacking that.
So, please, please, in the name of sanity, shut up. I don’t want to hear your insight into the game while I’m at work. I don’t want to hear why you’d be a better coach while I’m relaxing during a meal or a beer.
I don’t know you. You’re not my friend. We’ll never be friends. I will eat your face on the side of a highway in Miami before I consider you someone I want to talk to.
Stop ruining the sporting experience for others. #$%^ing stop. We can’t hang up on you or mute you or change the station. And us leaving the place because of you is not fair. I’m staring at my phone during the entire conversation, I’m making unusually large amounts of bathroom trips, all of my responses to your blithering garbage are made without removing my eyes from the TV—all signs that I hate your presence. I’m sorry if you don’t have a lot of friends or you get no attention at home or whatever. That doesn’t mean you get to vacuum the joy out of my viewership.
Be sports self aware. Please. Understand that polite head nods after your wisdom mean that I find you to be painfully stupid and would prefer that you be relatively quiet. If you don’t get a genuine response from a stranger to your analysis or question, that should indicate you are bothering that stranger who just wants to take in the game on his or her own level. Not yours.
Conversation is great—when it’s invited—but not everything needs to be yelled about. Not everything demands a demonstrative reaction. Everyone knows the refs aren’t perfect and might even be awful. Yes, the players make a lot of money to play a game. Your child has better fundamentals. Your buddy in high school had more passion on the field or court. We all get it.
Just. Please. Shutthheellupandletmeenjoythedamngame!
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget, but please don’t follow him in real life. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.