Someone introduced me the other day: “Do you know, Terry? He’s one of the coolest guys I know.” And I thought Where did he get his crack pipe?

Then it occurred to me: Maybe he doesn’t know what I do? and balance was restored to the Force. So I let him go with a citation.

People think otherwise, but I’m the shyest person I know. Which is why, I suppose, this introvert likes to observe his friends—live vicariously.

[Getting digits and criticizing others after the jump]

A cab ride home

“So, I assume you got her number, right?” I ask.



“I didn’t.”

“Wait.” I say, “We’re talking about that tall, cute waitress girl you were talking to in the beginning.”

“Yes,” he replies.

“She was really into you. Even L— and B— noticed.”

He shrugged, “Maybe she wasn’t.”

“Let me get this straight. She was leaving the place. Stops. Comes back, goes up to you and says, ‘I really enjoyed our conversation.’ and you didn’t even get her e-mail? That happened, right? I wasn’t just imagining that out of the corner of my eye.”

“Yeah. Pretty much.”

“Uhh…” I was really at a loss for words. “That’s what they do. She can’t ask for your number if she’s interested in you, because it looks too forward—she has to be indirect. They have to leave the opportunity for you to ask instead.”

“That makes sense.”

“Thanks, I sort of made up that theory just now,” I say proudly.

“Well it’s okay. I didn’t want to ask because other day, I was at S— having an interesting conversation with a cute girl. I got her e-mail and when I friended her on Facebook, it turned out she’s only 22.”

That’s a lame excuse. “So? Say she turns out to be 22. Just because she’s interesting doesn’t mean you want to sleep with her—there is something called friends…” I trail off.


“And heck! Maybe in three years, you’ll both be single!” I laugh.

“I suppose.”


*long pause*

“Damn, I should have asked for her number.”

Uhh, yeah!

Mama’s boys

I have this theory: when people criticize other people, really it’s a mirror on oneself. I got this theory because I had an asshole of a CEO once. He’d always say negative things about other people, things like…

“You know the problem with O—, Terry?”


“He’s Korean. He’s an only son. He’s so used to be mothered.”

“Oh?” Umm, you’re Korean, only son, and your mom comes by and does MY laundry.

“You can’t really understand…”

…because I’m banana. Interesting grave you’re digging there. Do go on? “What makes you say that?”

“I called O— and his mom picked up. And she started really laying into me saying what a bad person I was and yadda yadda. I mean this guy can’t do anything without his mom—talk about being babied!”

“Interesting.” Yeah, it had nothing to do with the fact that our servers are in his colocation and you haven’t paid him in months.

(Now you may be wondering, so I’ll enlighten you with an event on a different day…)

We launched, but I’m still sleeping under my desk

An engineer walks into my office and sits down. He’ll soon be promoted to CTO when I leave the company.

“Hey, so has D—’s mom arrived or something?”

“Yeah,” I reply.


“Wait! How do you know that?”

“Oh, I was walking by his office and it looks like someone cleaned it up. It’s spotless.”

“Hah.” I laugh. “She does D—’s and my laundry. It gives me the willies, but I don’t know Korean so I can’t get her to stop.”


“Yeah, folds it and everything,” I shrug. “She also cooks every meal. And if I’m there, she signals to me to eat. Some of those dishes may not even be Korean. I think they’re just weird ones that D— likes, but I can’t be sure. And dusts and vacuums—even my room.”


“Why do you think I’ve been sleeping in my office these last couple days?”

Another of my enginerers peeks in, “Hey, so is D—’s mom here or something?”


(Yes, it really happened. You can’t make up comedy like this.)

Our failings in others

Go sometime and test this next time someone you know criticizes someone else. You’ll find, more often than not, they’re really talking about themselves. Or just go to the driving range and watch people give advice. Invariably whatever one of them is teaching the other person is what the former is working on himself.

When we give advice, it’s probably something we should follow. When we criticize another, we’re just revealing what’s wrong with us.

A couple weeks after the cab ride

I’m at a dinner with three friends. Since I’ve never been here, I’m nervous. And when I’m nervous, I’m friendly. Our waitress is very professional when talking about the menu—but I notice if you get her away from anything scripted, she has a great smile in which her eyes sparkle. It’s not like the others three care—two of them are gay and the other one is married. What a waste.

(Since there was an open bar at an event earlier and I’m having drinks with my meal, I’m a little sloshed. People seem to like me more when I’m drunk.)

I invent a private, clever game: see how many times I can get the waitress to smile. The beauty is that it doesn’t really matter—all I have to do is ask a question no one has asked that night, “What do you think of this song that’s playing?” (one) “Have you heard of Facebook?” (two) “Do you like my t-shirt? And why isn’t anyone else here wearing t-shirts?” (three four). I could have asked if the cook made Gelatinous Cubes for dessert—it wouldn’t have made any difference.

Since we were the last reservation, we close out the place. I have to stop by the bathroom before we leave so my friends are already outside. As I am leaving, she is on the phone.

*to the phone* “Hold on a moment.” “Hey!” she tries to stop me.

I’m rushing toward the door and turn around.

“Thanks for coming by!” she shouts at me and flashes that great smile. Right at this moment, a normal guy would be, “Hey! I’m Terry and I ate so much organic stuff here that I feel like I’m the Gelatinous Cube. What’s your name so I can tell people who my future ex-wife is going to be?”

Instead I mumble, “Thanks, it was a great meal” or something similarly trite. I exit.

Could you imagine if I were in the cab ride with myself?

“Umm, so you asked for her e-mail right?”


“She was into you.”

“No, it’s her job to be nice.”

“So? You could have stopped and talked.”

“She was on the phone and my friends were outside.”

“Dude, it’s not like it takes that long. Besides, you already know she’s on Facebook, you could have just done the Mager thing.”




*long pause*

“Oh my God, I’m totally that guy in the cab!”

Uh, yeah!

We need to give this a name

One of my favorite words is treppenwitz. Treppenwitz from German literally means “stair wit.” It’s when you think of some clever repartee on the stairs as you leave a place. It happens to me a lot. That’s why I blog.

Only in these instances, you don’t have to be witty; you just have to be warm-blooded and capable of vocalization.

So, I’m going to call this cabbenwitz: the failure to ask for an e-mail because of some lame excuse you cook up in the cab ride home.

Back to being the observer

Three of us are talking in a crowded place. “Excuse me.” A hot girl weaves between us.

“What?!” L— shouts to the entire world, “You buzz our formation and not even a look back?”

*She glances back as she walks away*

“Haha, Terry, did you see that! She looked back.”

Oh, I did. It was genius.

“Haha! You’re smiling. You totally did!”

*shrug* I’m surprised she didn’t come back. That shit would have even worked on me.

“But I didn’t eye-fuck her. No! I’m not going to give her the satisfaction. I caught it in my peripheral vision.”

Well, I eye-fucked her, and I think you made her blush.

…a little later…

“I had to put the drink down. I’m sorry.” Hot girl joins us.

“Hey, so this is P—, and this is Terry…”

*greetings exchanged + other boring pleasantries*

“Nice to meet you. What’s your name?” she turns to L—.

“Me? I’m L—.”

Later, L— is recounting this to my friend.

“Yeah, did you see? I introduced you guys first.”

“Yeah, I noticed—so she’d have to ask your name.” A pity we were boring, she was totally into you, L—.

“What did I say to start that? When she came by? It was a reference to MiG jets…”

Fuck this, now I’m bored. “It was great!” I say with faux excitement to my friend, “…and right after he said that we got down on our knees and serenaded ‘You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’” to her, and the whole bar cheered… and then…

Okay, L—, I admit it: I was jealous—that shit was awesome. 🙂

I wonder if L— remembered to say hi to her later and score her e-mail?

I think so.

Somehow I don’t think he gets Cabbenwitz.

4 thoughts on “Cabbenwitz

  1. @Tony. Thanks. What did you learn? That there are people like me even more introverted than you?

    @denny I upgraded WP and tried to fix it, but it isn’t working. 🙁

    The other day, a friend showed me his performance review. One of the people in it was very negative and there was a suspicion he was his manager. So I read the performance review and turned every criticism of my friend into a question: “Okay, so is this manager guy not a team player?” “Yes.” “Is this guy hard to approach?” “Yes.” “Is it hard to know what this guy is working on?” “Yes.”… It would have made a hilarious drinking game but I was already at a few beers gone.

    I told him, he should just go up to the CEO and say he didn’t get to where he was by taking this this passive-aggressive bullshit. Either the manager goes or he quits. If the latter, I know about 20 companies that want to hire him.

    (Imagine if Yahoo had VP’s like this manager. Oh wait, they do! 😀 )

    He did just that and IM’d me that the manager will be gone by the end of next week.

    (I’m a bad, bad man.)

  2. @bout Cabbenwitz

    thougth #1) As any great warrior we must set aside our and embrace the eventuality of own death so that we may only die once in a big flame ball

    thought #2) creating a time space continuum where we go forward in time and then back-to-the-present makes you seem like you have a ‘gift’… it’s name is ‘present’

    thought #2b) conscious incompetance is much much better than unconscious competance

    my fave book, needs a chapter on “Creating Selling and Managing the Illusion of Talent”

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