I’m quite the proponent of small government that stays out of my life and let’s me keep as much of my money as possible (I have this annoying little conviction that I can do better with my money than a huge bureaucracy – call my silly). I’m also a proponent of choice and personal responsibility. This idea carries over in to every part of my life – including pumping my gas.

I’ve been pumping gas since I was a kid. I’ve done it about once a week since then. In that entire time, I have managed to not blow up a gas station, blow up my car or spray it on another person. There have been the minor snafus of dripping gas on the car or a little dribbling out onto the concrete as I replace the nozzle. But all in all, I would say I’m a good gas pumper – and so would anyone who knows me.

But apparently the state of New Jersey does not feel the same. You see, New Jersey is 1 of 2 states (Oregon being the other) that have outlawed the practice of pumping your own gas. Apparently in 1949, legislators felt the average person was not capable of handling the flammable substance. In this state, only those properly trained in gas pumping are allowed to introduce the precious liquid to your gas tank. If you try and do it yourself you are yelled at and forced back into your car.

So what does this mean for your fill up experience? Well, think about any other time the government takes over a private enterprise and you’ll have a good picture. 2 things stick out most to me.

1. These certified gas pumpers look homeless, dangerous and appear to have never finished high school. The first time I encountered one of these “professionals”, I was so scared I locked my doors and almost called the cops to report an attempted car jacking.

2. Long lines. Think 1970’s gas shortage. Most of these stations only have 1 person working per 3 or 4 pumps.

Mind you, I don’t mind the full service, but please let me have the choice.

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I haven’t been as active on my blog since coming to Princeton for the simple fact that things have been pretty quiet around here. Princeton is pretty calm, it has it’s quirks, but I will save those for later posts. I began to wonder if was losing my creative juice, if my synapses weren’t firing as they should.  But yesterday taught me otherwise.  I was reminded that if I want to post something in my blog…

I JUST HAVE TO GO TO INWOOD.

Yes, Inwood. The lovely place I lived while in NYC.  The place with the crazy neighbor, the leaking bathroom, the asinine post office, need I continue?

Well, yesterday, I was in the city for a voice lesson and ventured into Inwood for said lesson.  Now, I’ve been going into the city once a week for a lesson since coming to New Jersey, but apparently when you go in and out of Inwood undetected, nothing happens to you.  It’s when you try to actually accomplish something up there that things go haywire. I made that horrible decision yesterday.

Right before my lesson, I went to the doctor to get some sleep medicine.  A dorm bed and flourscent lights are not conducive to a relaxing atmosphere which a chronic insomniac needs for sleep.  I decided that since Target has $4 generics, I would just drop off my prescription at the Target just north of Inwood in the Bronx (OK so technically not Inwood, but in my mind, same thing).

I arrived at the counter to find a long line of people, one of which was an old jewish lady yelling at the tech about some problem. The tech looked completely overwhelmed. I should’ve turned around then, but since I pay out of pocket for my drugs, I decided to give it a shot.  The tech finally made her way to me and informed me that that pharmacist was new and was very backed up (that didn’t instill much confidence), but said to come back in and hour and my drugs would be ready. (I think that is really a secret ploy by Target to get people to buy stuff).  So I mosey around the store. Since I hadn’t had lunch yet, I was getting really hungry, so I stopped in the snack aisle and grabbed some trail mix and started eating while perusing the store, hoping not to be caught by one of the rent-a-cops (mind you, I had every intention of paying, but I couldn’t go another hour without food).  Slowly the hour ticked by and I made my way back to the pharmacy. I was glad to see there was no line and felt I would be victorious in my endeavor to get myself to sleep before 3am.

What I should’ve known was that the lack of a line was really a bad sign.  You see, the tech came around the corner with an apologetic smile on her face, and said, “Oh, I wish you had come back sooner.  Our system went down and we can’t fill anyone’s prescriptions today. We can have it for you tomorrow.”  To say I was angry would be an understatement. I mean, the woman had my name on a freaking info card. She could’ve paged me. She had my phone number. She could’ve called me. Did she do any of that? Of course not.  Why not?! Because it’s Inwood and Inwood is backwards and unfortunately, something always goes wrong in Inwood!

I paid for my trail mix and left.

P.S. I got my drugs today at CVS.  And note to self: NEVER GO THERE AGAIN! They charge 3x as much as Walgreens, Walmart and Target for the same drugs.

You too can do your part to bring down health care prices by not going to CVS.  If they lose enough customers, they’ll bring down their prices. Power of the almighty dollar, baby! (OK. Soap box is now put away, and I’m going to crawl into my dorm bed drugged heavily so I can sleep)

Rule #1 – Remember singers who have worked for you in the past

One would think this is an easy thing to do. It is the job of the general and/or artistic director of an opera company to hire singers. Once a singer is hired, there is often much interaction with said director. This normally translates into them remembering you – or so you would think. But, as I found out not long ago, this is not always the case. Let me share.

First of all, I shall change the name of the person and the opera company so as not to incriminate anyone. One never knows who will read the blog.

Let’s call the company Big Voice Opera and let’s call the artistic director Bob. I have sung small roles for Big Voice Opera and taken part in some of their young artist performances. Bob has directed both shows I was in, I have auditioned for Bob on several occasions and I have carried on conversations albeit awkward with Bob a couple of times. Now, Bob is odd. He’s not very social and it’s always like pulling teeth to carry on a conversation with him. He’s also rather rude. In fact, he’s so rude and socially awkward and good at making you feel inadequate, I began to make a sport of talking to him and seeing how uncomfortable I could make him.

Well, I recently ran into Bob at another company where I was doing a show. And the old desire to make him feel uncomfortable overcame me and I could not resist. So I walked up to him and said, “Hi, Bob! How are you? Good to see you.” My greeting was returned with a blank stare and wimpy handshake. Trying to quell the awkwardness of the situation (I’m at least humane in my endeavors to make someone feel weird) I continued, “Do you remember me?” Again, blank stare and cursory check of my name tag. A little light comes on, but still nothing. I continue, “I sang a couple of small roles for you, I took part in your young artist concerts and was a guest artist on a recent concert.” I kind of felt like rubbing it in. (The charming thing never worked with him, so I figured why bother. Let’s have fun). Again, a blank look and then he sort of gave the polite, “Oh, good to see you again.” Awkward silence. Now, normally in this situation, someone like Bob would ask what you have been up to, but not Bob. He looked at me oddly some more then said, after looking at my name tag one more time, “Oh, Sarah Kennedy. Of course! I’ve been to your website.” I must give him credit for his valiant effort.

I smiled politely but didn’t have the heart to tell him my website’s not up yet.