Max Lance

What’s The Acceptable Wait Time for the Trader Joe’s Sample Station?

trader joes sample station

It’s going on 15 minutes now and there is still no sign of the tiny paper cup of chicken curry I’ve been promised by the freezer. This has gone long past the point of insulting or pathetic and now it’s war. If you think the one sample per person limit is being enforced after the wait I’ve committed then you are mistaken.

 

Let’s not keep up this pretense of how long I’ve been standing two feet away from you. All you’re doing is pouring lemon water for people pretending they didn’t just come by for the sample as well. I am not afraid of who I am, so why are you pretending I don’t exist? You are a food barrista in no position to judge me.

 

If you don’t want me to hover, then you shouldn’t offer a free snack in the first place. What did you think was going to happen? I know that I am waiting for one lone chickpea. I know that in this same amount of time spent waiting here, I could’ve bought a bag, gone home, cooked and eaten a full meal, but that’s not what this is about.

 

If it’s a challenge to see who can out-wait whom, trust me, I have all night. If I had anywhere better to be then I wouldn’t be rounding a double digit wait time for the prospect of one shred of coleslaw.

 

Once you pass a certain point of lacking self-respect, there is no solution except for one simple morsel of a solitary baked cashew. Do you want me to put on a charade? That’s fine. I’ll take a few laps through the store. I’ll pretend that I’m actually shopping and not just trying to get a free dinner that will tide me through until my visit tomorrow.

 

Maybe I’ll go peruse the beer section like I’m some sort of hipster connoisseur. “Oh yes, the seven dollar six pack of Laguinitas IPA is the more sophisticated choice than the Red Trolly Ale. What is this? Samuel Adams and Stella Artois? Geez, this Trader Joe’s has really gone corporate.”

 

Now can I come back to the sample station?

 

No, I am not there for a mini cup of lemon water. If I wanted lemon water, I would have camped out in a restaurant, perused a menu while sipping my lemon water and then fled the scene without ordering anything. No matter what you think of me, Trader Joe’s sample station manager, I am always three steps ahead of you.

 

I’ve already grabbed my miniature plastic fork. Yes, I’ve been banging it on your plastic sneeze guard for the last nine minutes. I don’t care how much longer it’s going to take for you to cut the little snippets of chicken fingers, I’m not going anywhere. This should be clear by now.

 

Maybe we can both point out all the other people pretending to hover-not-hover. There’s that older guy who only has a jar of peanut butter in his basket. We all know it’s not getting purchased. He just had a level of guilt to pretend he’s going to buy something before stopping by the sample station. I don’t need such pretenses. You offer Trader Joe’s finest lentils. I’m here to see what you got.

 

Then there’s the mother of three keeping an eye on the sample station behind him. We all know what she’s planning. That’s right, going to try and claim four samples under the pretense that her kids are just as entitled to the sample station as I am. Have they been standing here staring angrily for the past ten minutes? If she even thinks of using sympathy for being a mother to wipe out today’s samples, she’s got another thing coming.

 

And yeah, after I clean out every last morsel of my little paper cut, you better believe I’m doing another lap around the store. You just inspired me to see what this Trader Joe’s is all about. So if I walk down the obscure cereal aisle that’s kinda like a normal grocery store and then happen to stop by the sample station again, y’know what? I might just be hungry.

 

So start serving, get those little tiny samples ready and let’s eat.

The Week Podcast 3.20.2015

The Week Podcast 3.13.2015

The week of March 13th 2015 in two minutes. Republican senators make pen pals with Iran, the secret service fails a driving test and Oklahoma frat boys sing on a bus.

Visiting a Friend’s Baby is the Equivalent of Visiting a Friend’s Mentally-Challenged Penguin

penguin baby costume

An afternoon visiting a friend or family’s newborn is a great way to spend a few hours. You can also have the exact same experience visiting a friend or family’s mentally-challenged pet penguin. There is no difference.

 

It is important to note that a mentally-challenged penguin is just as adorable as a brilliant penguin, except even more so. The mentally-challenged ones are a bit more prone to flopping around in the same way that toddler does in the pursuit of a toy. They try and stand but you can just see it teeter this way and that until the inevitable crash and fall. Both baby and penguin make noises like, “Eeeeararghagawe,” in their abject failures to communicate with the group. It is no coincidence that the word for a herd of penguins is a Waddle. And that applies to the ones with fully-formed mental capacities, let alone mentally-challenged ones.

 

A baby standing, like a mentally-challenged penguin, is similar to trying to balance a chair on its back two legs. Wildly entertaining, a great way to kill a few hours and close to impossible. You think, “Oh man, this is going to be the one, it’s going to happen, yeah, yeah, you did it for a fraction of a second!” And then boom, down it goes.

 

Then there is the mobility. Both baby and mentally challenged penguin lay around on their bellies in a haphazard attempt at transportation. They slide onto their respective stomachs and then hope that inertia will handle the rest.

 

Whether it is a baby’s chubby arms or a mentally-challenged penguin’s slippery flippers, they whirl at their sides like old-school propellers. It is as if they are trying to get just enough wind resistance. Maybe, just maybe, they can swing their arms/fins with enough violence to allow gravity or ice to take over.

 

After that doesn’t work, they look at you with a glazed look on their faces. Do they recognize you as a sentient being? Do they remember you? Do they even know where they are?

 

It is, across the board, insanely adorable, mind-numbingly boring and tremendously stupid. All they need is a little more balance, a hint of muscle strength or, like, six additional IQ points and they would be capable at everything they are trying to achieve. We need to embrace them for their pure idiocy.

 

If we understand that they are here for our entertainment, we can come to terms with them being a fabric of our daily lives. If we are able to do that, then we might be able to enjoy looking at other people’s babies or going to the mentally-challenged penguin enclosure at the zoo.

 

It is important that we nurture other people’s babies and mentally-challenged penguins rather than leave them open to pure ridicule. And I know you might say, “They are here so I can ridicule them and feel better about myself,” but who is the true idiot in that scenario? Yes, probably the penguin or baby still, but just remember that every baby and mentally-challenged penguin is different. They are special and precious and maybe someday, with nurturing care and patience, they could achieve greatness.

How I Hate This Horrible Gluten Allergy that Plauges My Girlfriend And Keeps Her Super Hot

celiacdisease

Curses to this terrible, debilitating scourge of a disease. There aren’t enough words in the most destructive passages of the Holy Bible to convey my hatred for Celiac Disease. Because of this devilish plague that has stricken my beautiful and youthful girlfriend, she is sadly the victim of a disease that makes her super hot. It breaks my heart every day.

 

I wouldn’t wish this disease upon my greatest enemies, let alone my cherished love, with whom I spend every opportunity to admire her super hotness. If it weren’t for her daily struggles having to eat healthy, wholesome, gluten-free foods, I would identify myself as the real victim in this tragedy. Some would say that it’s just as difficult to watch her battle as it is for her to experience the fight itself.

 

Whether it’s beer, pizza, fast food, sandwiches or almost any brand of junk food, I shed rivers of tears that my super hot girlfriend is forced to seek a healthy alternative. While I dine on greasy pizza that rains melted cheese down my chin, I feel the beating heart of tragedy for her dilemma. Because of this plague placed upon her, I am forced to deal with a skinny, healthy hottie with the body of an ageless Goddess.

 

Sometimes I feel as though we, as a couple, are making the sacrifices for people dealing with Celiac Disease, just the same way as Jesus did for humanity’s sins. It is our responsibility to suffer a martyr’s struggle against fattening foods so that awareness shines upon the issue. And just as Jesus Christ before us, the result of this travesty is tight abdominal muscles.

 

I only wish there existed a way to solve this issue, but fighting fire with fire only magnifies the issue. If we stare this gluten issue in the face and consume the sweet nectar of cholesterol and carbohydrates, it quickly backfires in the most literal sense. Such is the evils of gluten. When she consumes the banned substance, her traitorous body reacts in such a violent way that she becomes even skinnier. I have tried numerous times by secretly sneaking gluten into her meals, but the result is always the same. Damn you, Celiac Disease. Damn you.

 

I refuse to allow her suffering to go in vain. Even though her hips and belly stay put while the gluten-eaters we envy get larger and larger, I am a staunch advocate for widening the issue. I urge her, and other women who are plagued by a gluten allergy, to take on other allergies in the cause.

 

If these model-esque, skinny, beautiful women, like the girl who I fell in love with the very first day we met, compliment gluten allergies with lactose intolerance and negative blood-sugar levels, the point will be made. Men will be forced to gaze upon our taut girlfriends who suffer these indignities every day. The pain inflected by our empathy will be overwhelming.

 

We need to address the problem, draw attention to the issue and promote the disease among as many women possible. It is the only way to accomplish real and effective change. Maybe there will be a day that my girlfriend can eat fattening foods again. I fear every single day that such an event will occur at a very distant time from now. Far, far in the future. Until then, we will do what every other victim of Celiac Disease can do. We can only do our best.

When You Rip Someone a New One Online You Should Also Have to Provide a Compliment

captain picard middle finger

The Internet provides the perfect resource to interact with strangers, express your opinions, connect with new friends and learn anything you choose. It is also the greatest opportunity in history to say the most racist, horrible, insulting thing you can think of to a worldwide audience in any language you learned online. Which is fantastic. I think we should keep this ability, but tack on the provision that you should also have to provide a compliment.

 

If you are a 14-year-old gamer, you can still connect via XBox to string the most horrific string of anti-gay slurs to casual video game fans twice your age. But I have a feeling the world would be an incrementally better place if the teenager also said, “Nice hat.”

 

Call me an idealist, a utopian or a dreamer. It sounds like I’m getting soft, but I promise, nothing should be done about the horrific things people say about each other online. Terrible people can still make fake profiles to make people feel popular, then publicly dump them. If you let Internet comments make you that depressed, all the compliments in the world won’t save your sorry ass.

 

But if your long and steady stream of slurs and bigotry were topped with something as simple as, “You have good grammar,” at the very least it would round out the constructive criticism.

 

I can’t post your average Internet comment or review without having my blog banned by WordPress (tragically keeping me away from the millions of dollars my blog generates). And that’s just the average, completely ignoring what the Internet is capable of producing. Your casual 4chan commentator can make the Aristocrats seem like a Disney Earth nature documentary. But I think the world would be a better place if they tagged a racist rant with, “You’re really good at receiving racist rants.”

 

It comes from a selfish place. As a person who creates content and throws it up online, it’s a nice welcome mat for people from all over the world to tell me how horrible I am. I will spend years crafting a book or short film and get it written off by a 10-year-old who says I suck and I’m a retarded pussy. That’s fine. It’s that sort of feedback that makes my work suck less. But the addition of the 10-year-old saying I suck less than my competitor would go a long way.

 

I believe that over time, one compliment for every Internet insult will preserve the web as a terrible place to spend a few hours. But at the very least, people can have a constructive way to give back. Plus it will ensure that content creators will continue producing material that gets eviscerated by pre-teens. For all the assholes out there who suck and are morons and are inbred retards. You generate creative insults.

After We Enact Gay Marriage We’ll Be Running Low On Really Good Stuff to Protest

time travel protest sign

I fully support gay marriage being a constitutional right that’s enacted as soon as possible. Gay marriage is a noble cause and I applaud everyone who fought, protested and lobbied to give couples in same-sex relationships equal rights as heterosexual couples. My only fear is that after we enact same-sex marriage, the list of things left to protest is going to get pretty lame.

 

I’m not trying to take anything away from gay marriage. I just mean that compared to ending slavery, women’s suffrage and the civil rights movement, we’re running really low on good problems we need to fix. The previous generation fought for equal pay in the workplace, women’s rights and the end of the Jim Crow era. The generation before that fought across Europe to prevent the spread of Imperialism. The generation before them gave the vote to women. What are we going to have after gay marriage? Exactly.

 

As it stands right now, we’re left protesting wealth inequality and sex slaves overseas. The protests are already starting to blow. Occupy Wall Street turned into an adult version of a college drum circle. It had nothing on the sit-ins from the civil rights movement. Back in the Jim Crow south, nonviolent protesters were sprayed with water cannons. Now we have a trust-funder with dreadlocks who wants to legally smoke pot in the financial district. Protests are only going to go downhill from there.

 

If we keep clearing civil rights at a steady clip then future generations are going to have a sorry lot of available protests. There will be movements to let people marry the robot they made in their garage. Violent clashes to give flying cars the right of way. Marches in the street to ensure transgender people can have their own bathrooms. Are they good causes? Yes. Are they good protests? Lame, lame, lame.

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I Spend Most of My Work Day Watching Videos of Happy North Koreans

cheering north koreans

Most people spend their free time at work getting distracted by Internet videos. Whether you spend your down time at the office looking at cute cats, skateboard crashes or hardcore pornography, the Internet is there for all of us. When my soul is wasting away at a day job, I find solace in watching videos of happy North Koreans.

 

It’s mostly out of jealousy. Here I am, trapped in front of a computer for 40 hours a week, yet there is an entire nation full of people who have no choice but to cheer with joy. There is no other option for them in life. Whenever someone says the names Kim Jong-il or Kim Jong-un, it’s like the secret word on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse: everyone goes ape-shit. If they don’t, they’ll die, which is an enviously easy choice.

 

North Koreans aren’t dragged down by the trappings of middle age in America. They don’t have mid-life crises, identity issues or career setbacks. They are happy or they’re dead. Who wouldn’t want that? I have the same conversations every time I walk into work: “How was your weekend?;” “What’s new with the family?;” “It’s almost Friday!” Do you think North Koreans care about any of that sort of drab crap? Hell no. When I watch them on YouTube, their conversations look amazing. “I’m so happy because I love Kim Jong-un!” “I’m even happier than you!” “Oh my God, we’re all so happy!”

 

North Korean videos make it look like the entire population consists of teeny-boppers who got backstage at a Justin Beiber concert. They are crying with joy at the sight of their leader. That’s how happy they are. We don’t cry for joy over anything in this country anymore. Can you imagine if we rallied around our President the way they do? We wouldn’t have Fox News or the Westboro Baptist Church. We’d have organizations like the I Love the President So Much Club getting into fights with the I Love Him More Than You Society.

 

North Koreans storm into the water to chase after Kim Jong-un because he makes them so happy. If I spill a drop of water on my shirt at work, the day is ruined. They give him hour-long standing ovations. They march in unison. They sprint and dance and sing and cheer. We write political blogs.

 

Can you imagine how much more pleasant Fox News would be if we were all as happy as North Koreans? “Y’know what I think? I think the President is doing a perfect job.” “I agree with you.” And then instead of a mindless 24-hour news program that digs for the whisper of a story to sensationalize, the TV could go black and we’d have to be outside like those joyous North Koreans.

 

I know your first thought is they don’t have any choice. Well doesn’t that sound nicer than waking up every day and having to figure out how to be happy all over again? I’d love it if my options in life were to be happy or die. It would be such a nice motivator. They are happy around the clock and it fills me with envy. And if they’re not happy then they’re dead. They don’t have to see therapists or get in touch with their feelings or go on retreats. They can just be happy or not be around anymore. In America we can pursue happiness and we usually come up short. In North Korea? One hundred percent happiness.

 

So whatever Kim Jong-un is doing, keep it up. Not only does he have a flawless approval rating at home and a national press that has his back. He also has an ardent supporter across the pond. One who watches the North Korean leader’s devoted followers every day and wishes for the day that he can be as happy as them.

 

Max Lance Stand-up at the Comedy Store

I Volunteer With Inner-City Kids Because It’s The Only Place I Can Talk About Soccer

Why I "give back" to my community.

This Spring wrapped another fantastic semester volunteering with the Young Storytellers Foundation. YSF is a charity organization in Los Angeles where failing actors, writers and musicians work with inner-city kids in screenwriting. Over the course of ten weeks, students develop a five-page script. At the end of the semester, their work is performed by actors in front of the entire school. It’s a rewarding, challenging and fun program for students and mentors. It’s also the only place in L.A. where I can have in-depth conversations about soccer.

 

I look forward to my weekly-YSF session with glee. I come prepared with my notebook, laptop and updated scoreboard from La Liga. I have to keep my soccer fanaticism a secret all week, but when I volunteer with kids in L.A. I can finally have a meaningful debate over Lionel Messi being better than Cristiano Ronaldo.

 

No one at work appreciates my opinions on Manchester United’s recent match with Everton. But if Chicharito has a good game and I’m volunteering with kids in L.A.? Oh man, it’s on! We go to war over the Mexican National Team. Whether Dos Santos will rediscover his game in time for the next round of World Cup qualifying. If Ochoa is the best keeper in Mexico. The best games of Rafa Marquez. These things make me sound like I’m from another planet when I talk about them at work. But with your average 8-year-old in Los Angeles? It’s my ticket to the clubhouse.

 

It’s important to volunteer with your spare time. It helps enhance your local community and allows you to connect with new groups of people. That said, I volunteer for the entirely selfish reason of fighting about match-fixing in Italian football.

 

The only other place to engage such a conversation is the Internet, but I’ll get crushed in debates with those losers. The kids I volunteer with aren’t allowed to have smart phones at school and I come prepared. Little Pablo might say something like, “My favorite player on Barcelona is Pique.” And then, bam, I destroy him with a statistical analysis of Pique’s recent performance. “Oh yeah? Well he conceded five corner kicks and picked up a yellow card against Valencia. Is he your favorite player now?”

 

The joke is on me when Pablo comes back with, “Considering he lead Barcelona to back-to-back La Liga titles and manned the back-line in the World Cup and Euros, yeah, he’s pretty good.”

 

It’s only around the kids during my volunteer sessions that it’s perfectly normal to have my walls covered in English Premier League posters. When I wear soccer jerseys to work, I get a lecture. When I wear them to YSF, I get a high-five. When I show-off my face paint at work, I’m called retarded. At school, I compare my war paint to the young writers. My girlfriend keeps telling me to grow up, but my buddies at school consider me the coolest guy to pretend to be in fifth grade.

 

We’re midway through World Cup qualifying, with the grand tournament slated for next summer. It’s important to have these debates any way you can and I’m lucky enough to find classrooms full of children who validate my opinions. Next time you volunteer, I recommend you too try and find ways for your time to give back to you.

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