The First Time

 

No, not sex, get your lecherous mind out of the gutter. I’m speaking of your first taste of alcohol; demon rum, the devil’s elixir, spirits of the gods, rotgut, suds, brewskies, whatever label you wish. Oh, I can hear a few of you now, your noses high, lips prim and tight.

I’ve never tasted the stuff and never will.

Let me tell you a short story of the time a friend of mine went to visit his dying grandfather at the local hospital. Grandpa’s favorite beverage throughout his many years had remained the same, the simple beer, Budweiser by name. The grandson felt it only fitting to sneak a Bud to the bedside as it might be grandpa’s last. The old man’s eyes lit up at the sight of the brown bottle and the familiar logo, the condensation still cold on the glass. He tipped it up, took a pull, and smiled. But it was a shared room. The patient in the other bed took one look at the little ceremony and snorted, “Liquor has never passed my lips.” Grandpa replied, “Well then, you old fart, you got something to look forward to.” True story.

I think I was around ten years old, maybe eleven, living on a rented farm in northeast Kansas. We had a couple milk cows, a horse, pigs, two dogs, and multiple cats. Dad spent all day in the field working the corn, the wheat, the oats, whatever would grow. Mom cooked of course, sewed clothes, tended to the garden, and tried to keep the house clean from the ever present Kansas dust.

We were poor by most standards, but I didn’t know it. We had plenty to eat. We had a radio where we listened to Fibber McGee and Molly, The Inner Sanctum, and my favorite, The Shadow. We went to town every Saturday. While my folks bought supplies and visited with the other farmers on the street corner, I went to the movie matinee to watch Gene Autry or Roy Rogers or sometimes, Hopalong Cassidy. From there it was a short walk to the newsstand where they sold “funny” books. I was allowed only one. The decision was agonizing; Batman, Superman, or Donald Duck. You couldn’t go wrong with Superman. The cost of this extravagance? Movie, 15 cents, funny book, 10 cents. Total: one quarter. That was my allowance. And I was happy with it.

With money so tight, imagine my surprise on the day I found the bottle of whiskey in the storage shed. I couldn’t believe my dad would squander what little cash we had on such things. I had never seen my dad drink, not even a beer. So what was this pint sized bottle of amber liquid doing there in the shadows, tucked behind a wall stud, hidden from view to all but the devilishly curious such as myself.

The brand name was Four Roses, never forget it. It was the top selling brand at the time. I didn’t know that of course. All I knew was that this particular bottle with the colorful flowers on the label was hidden for good reason, one of which was to keep it away from prying eyes, small children, and most likely…mom. I took it out in the sunshine for a closer look and found it to be covered with dust. Obviously, my dad wasn’t a heavy drinker.

Perhaps the bourbon was there for the days when the tractor broke down, or a cow had wandered off, or it was too wet to plow. In my imagination I could kinda see my dad sneaking in the shed, casting a glance at the kitchen window to be sure mom wasn’t watching, and then slipping the bottle outside to sit on a hay bale and watch the sun go down while he took a sip or two.

The more I thought on it, the more my young head full of mush approved of the idea. I too took a furtive look around, making sure I was not under observation, and loosened the cap. A tentative sniff was not quite the aroma I was expecting. Whiskey had to be good, had to be. Heck, the bad guys in the western bars all sat around drinking the stuff, laughing, and having a grand ‘ol time before Gene or Roy or Hopalong came in and cleared them all out.

Took me a swallow of it. Bad idea. I can’t remember if I knew any curse words at that age, but if I did, I probably said ‘em. More accurately, I would have tried and failed as air was suddenly in short supply. My throat constricted like someone had poured some of mom’s homemade lye soap down there. I gasped, I choked, my belly began to bounce and squirm or as one of my rascally relatives might describe it, lookin’ like a dog shittin’ peach seeds.

I didn’t heave. That was the only good part of the experience. I wiped the tears from my eyes and returned that bottle of fire water to its rightful place in the shed, never to be tampered with again. I might have tried to cover my tracks with a leafy tree limb ala Gene and Roy, but I’m a little hazy on that part of it.

Unlike the “old fart” in the grandpa story, never again could I make the claim that alcohol had never passed my lips. In fact, quite the contrary. A smart fella would have learned his lesson that day in the old dusty shed…but no. Although I never drank Four Roses again in my life, not one sip. There’s that.

 four roses

 

 

Published in: on April 30, 2016 at 3:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

On the course with Jack

With the Masters playing this weekend and every time one of the major golf tournaments rolls around, I reminisce about my little incident at Southern Hill C.C. Feel free to move on if you’ve heard the story before.

It was either the U.S. Open or the PGA (my memory on that specific fails me), but what I do remember is my small part in one of the biggest events in the world of golf.

I was working for Ma Bell at the time. Back then no one had satellite systems to relay sports programs form the venue to the viewer or much techy equipment of any kind. I’m sure the youngsters of today don’t even remember what vacuum tubes were, but that’s what our transmitters used to get the TV signal from point A to point B. The transistor was still a gleam in the eye of the scientists at Bell Labs.

Ma Bell was the intermediary between the network production trucks, usually ABC or CBS, and the AT&T Television distribution system known as the Backbone. In this case, the job of transmitting the program feed from Southern Hills to the ATT building in downtown Tulsa, fell to our little five-man crew. In order to do that, we had to establish a line-of-sight transmission path between the two locations in order to send the signal. With the terrain as it was, the only way to do that was with the use of a tower to raise the transmitting antenna high enough to clear the trees and buildings in the way.

The tower was of the portable type. It was made kind of like Tinker Toys (you kids probably don’t remember those either). You stacked the six foot square sections, one on top of the other, until you reached the desired height. In this case, about 80 ft. I can assure you that standing of top of that sucker with a 25 mph Oklahoma wind blowing was not for the faint of heart.

As the tournament went on the air, all was going well. Our signal was strong and steady. Millions of viewers watching. Our whole crew was tense, hoping no tubes failed and there would be no interruptions, no dreaded SORRY, WE ARE HAVING TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES. I remember feeling confident enough to leave my station long enough to watch the great Jack Nickolas tee off. He stood over the ball, rock solid, and took a deep breath. He swelled up like a big old bullfrog, cocked his head, and uncoiled. WHACK! The ball, long, straight, and true. Never forget it.

Showtime was over. Next came the part the public never saw, the tearing down and packing up of the miles of cables, temporary huts, racks full of electronics, and of course, the tower. R. Bubba Bennett and I were sent to the top to unbolt the sections a piece at a time while the ground crew consisting of the boss, Jack Mills, J. Burns, and new guy by the name of Odell Robertson, attended to the ropes and cables to lower the apparatus to solid terra firma.

The way it worked was Bubba and I would break a section loose, then maneuver it clear of the tower by way of something called a davit, a pulley-like lowering device to reduce the strain of the weight. Odell was on the rope. Down it came, section by section, removing the steel guy wires that held the tower steady as we went. There was just one little problem. We removed the last of the guy wires without making provisions to keep the remaining sections upright. Temporary lines would have worked nicely, but nooooo.

I swung another section outward. Odell heaved on the rope. I heard someone say, “It’s falling.”

The big Tinker Toy was made of industrial strength aluminum tubing, but I can assure you it was a heavy SOB, quite capable of crushing ribs and craniums. On the way down, I had a thought: If I can just space my body between the tubes, it’ll fall right around me. I’ll be fine!

I had a death grip on a tube to the left and a similar grip on a tube to my right. It was a great plan, one with merit, except for the fact that I forgot to let go of the tubes at the appropriate moment. That little oversight caused my knees (now at a stop and firmly on the golf course) to connect with my teeth (still traveling at roughly the speed of sound). The knees won that battle of course. My front teeth ended up somewhere near the fairway where Jack Nicklaus had walked just hours before. R. Bubba, it was later determined, had strained back muscles, but was otherwise okay.

My recovery was a long and painful process with multiple trips to oral surgeons and dentists, but it could have been worse, much worse.

As I watched big Jack at the ceremonial first tee at the Masters this weekend. I will always wonder if he heard me screaming on the way down. It would be my only connection to greatness.

 

Published in: on April 9, 2016 at 7:57 pm  Comments (1)  

Up, Up, and Out of Here

 

  • Internet service: Up
  • Health care premiums: Up
  • Car insurance: Up
  • Home insurance: Up
  • Utility bills. Up

The Tulsa World Newspaper. Up? Yes, up, despite fewer pages and the carrier’s short term memory problems where it seems he can no longer find my address on certain mornings, usually the cold ones. That and his unexplained hit and miss placement of the paper in the designated tube. Now about that tube…

Our front yard is sloped, severely so. I could hold ski races on it if the snow cooperated. But when it rains, the water goes where it always does, down the hill to collect at the bottom leaving puddles large enough to attract Canada geese. It was on those same days that I would often find the paper lying just beneath the surface, an unrecognizable mass of wet pulp and blurred ink.

I addressed the problem with a plastic tube, bright yellow in color, with the words Tulsa World emblazoned on the side. I attached the tube to our brick mailbox next to the street making it easily accessible to most any vehicle. The tube was free of charge. I’ll give ‘em that much.

Problem solved? Not really. Apparently, the carrier, not wanting to get another inch or two of his arm wet while extending it to the tube, would open his window just enough to shove the latest edition through the crack and let nature take its course. At times, I suspect that he makes a game of it, flinging the paper in the general direction just to see if he might actually hit the opening. A miss! Ah, too bad. Subscriber loses another one.

It’s not that I have no compassion for the carrier–– out there all alone in the dark and the rain and the snow and the tornados. They couldn’t pay me enough to do that. I can even live with a missed delivery or a soggy paper every so often. Then I get the latest bill.

It seems the Tulsa World believes it is of everyone’s benefit to receive a little insert publication with the catchy name of Tulsa World Magazine. You would think this to be a free bonus, perhaps to attract more subscribers. You would think wrong.

“Your subscription includes delivery of the newspaper on Thanksgiving day and 6 editions of Tulsa World Magazine. Your account will be charged a premium for these editions.”

And what if I opt out?

“Tulsa World will charge a $5.00 processing fee for refunds remitted to the customer.”

What to do? I see only one option. Looks like I’ll be getting my news from CNN and Facebook.

 tube.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on February 25, 2016 at 1:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cat Calls

What would you name a three-legged cat? Its given name is Snowy. But that was before Snowy tangled with the garage door. I swear I didn’t plan it. The cat brought it on herself.

The Missus and I were in the garage with the overhead door open for better light while I attempted to explain the workings of her new cell phone and how it interacted with the Honda.

“No more fumbling in your purse when you get a call. No more ignoring my calls because you happen to be driving at the time. When the phone rings, the GPS screen will light up with whomever is trying to call you. All you have to do is push one button, ONE. It’s the big round one right there in the center. It says Enter. Push it and start talking. That’s it. Same thing when you’re through talking. Push the button. Same button. Easy Peasy. Got it? Okay, let’s try it.”

Snowy, curious as all cats are, was on the hood of the car watching with great interest, perhaps considering getting a phone of her own. I stepped back in the house to grab one of the wireless phones for the big test call. I dial it up. Nothing. No answer. I hear a shout from the garage.

“I think I hit the wrong button.”

Sweet Baby Jesus. I return to the car. Check the settings. All is well. I try again. The screen lights up. Display reads exactly as it should…Call From Home.

“The button, hit the Enter button, the big one.”

“This one?”

“Yes, that one. Push that son of a bitch.”

“Hello, Ruth, do you hear me?” Keep in mind that I’m standing right beside her. That alone invalidates the test.

“Yes, I can hear you talking.”

I had to ask. “Do you hear me through the car speakers or because I’m right next to you?”

“Yes.”

“Ooookay, fine. This test is hereby terminated. Push the Enter button to hang up.”

“The big one here?”

I close my eyes. Tears roll down my cheeks.

I hit the down button on the garage door to end this exercise in futility when I hear a feline scream that would do a panther justice. Tufts of white fur flash in the sunlight. Lots of fur. Oh, shit.

Unseen, the Snowy cat had hopped from the roof of the car to the garage door (horizontal at the time), and apparently laid down for a little cat nap. She had caught her right rear leg between the descending door and the framing.

Now, if you know the Missus with her severe and ongoing case of OCD (Obsessive Cat Disorder), you might have some idea of the full blown panic that ensued. And you would fall woefully short of describing the situation. This was Def-Con One, baby, full alert, all hands on deck, sound the alarm. OOOOGAH, OOOOGAH, OOOOGAH!

I did a quick evaluation. It was an obvious fracture, but there was no blood and no bones poking through the skin. Off to the vet. We delivered the cat to experienced hands and found a chair to wait for the results. We waited. And waited. We waited for, oh, about three days, when a lady vet came out to show us the x-rays. It wasn’t good. The options were:

  1. Put the cat down and end its misery.
  2. Amputate the leg, or
  3. Bring in the surgical team to attempt the repair of the bone and tendon at an estimated cost equivalent to that of a new Chevrolet Corvette.

For the record, I hate that cat. It’s a bird killing machine. It destroys carpet and furniture with glee. It scratches, it yowls, it lashes at me when I try to pet it. Even the resident Brat Cat tries to kick its ass every chance she gets. So naturally, I was voting for door #1. Send that ill-tempered, vicious, sorry-ass fur ball to the great litter box in the sky.

The Missus on the other hand, went straight to door # 3 and had her hand on the knob when I let my vote be known in what I thought was the most tactful, logical, and humanitarian argument ever presented. I will spare you, dear reader, the raised voices, the flashing of eyes, the heated exchanges, and just say we compromised with door #2.

A little backstory here. One of the reasons our marriage has held together this long is that we have dual bank accounts. We share expenses proportionately and whatever is left over is yours to use as you wish. Usually this works, until it comes to cats. But to alter the arrangement would be like changing the second amendment. There was bound to be a stink. My options as I saw them were:

  1. Divorce
  2. Lock the Missus in the tool shed.
  3. Shoot the cat… which then loops right back around to A.

You see the problem, right? Hence, the three-legged cat. I did insist that it have a new name. In consideration are:

  1. Tripod
  2. Slinky
  3. Hop-a-long or, (and this is my favorite),
  4. Shithead

And, (drum roll please) D wins by a landslide.

snowy-2

Published in: on February 16, 2016 at 3:25 pm  Comments (1)  

Another Bobby Bracken Story

Crossing the Arkansas River the other day, a huge flock of Canada Geese came up, hundreds of them, heading north. As I watched them fly away, I had a flashback to a particular duck and goose hunt I had shared with Bobby back in the day.

We were staying in Carl King’s cabin and were on our way to the blind for a late afternoon shoot. And if you must know, yes, we were well fortified to deal with the cold and not just with warm clothes if you know what I mean. We were in a pickup affectionately known as Ol’ Brown. To say that Ol’ Brown was past its prime was an understatement as one could observe the highway passing beneath one’s feet through a good sized hole in the floorboard. But Ol’ Brown was a mudder and could travel roads that would scare the Bejesus out of most pickups. No one could remember the last time Brown had seen a car wash.

Somewhere along the way, Bobby spotted a roadside field absolutely covered with snow geese. It was just off the highway and easily accessed by a section line road. Bobby hit the brakes and pulled over. We looked at each other and grinned. It was one of those hold my beer and watch this moments. We piled out of Brown with shotguns blazing. Naturally, the geese blasted off with the first shot fired and headed for the refuge. Now you would think that with those kinds of numbers, you could just shoot up there among ‘em and hit somethin’, but nary a feather fell as far as we could see. What we did see however, was a nearby farmer running out of his house with a shotgun of his own and he wasn’t pointing it at any geese. If Brown could have burned rubber getting out of there it would have. That didn’t happen so we settled on whatever power it could give us and got the hell out of Dodge.

Later that night over a couple Bloody Mary’s, we totaled up the number of broken laws and misdemeanors.

  • Hunting from a public road. Check.
  • Hunting from a moving conveyance. Check.
  • Hunting on private property without permission. Check.
  • Hunting without a license. (I had one but had left it at the cabin). Check
  • Trespassing. Check.
  • Open container in a vehicle. Check.
  • Driving Under the Influence. (Oh, hell yes.) Check.
  • Driving and hunting while ate up with the dumb ass. A most definite, Check.

One thing for sure, if you hung out with Bobby Bracken for long, shit happened. Hold my beer events were not uncommon. And somewhere down the line when you’re sittin’ in your rocking chair, you are gonna have some flashbacks; some good, some not so good, but all memorable.

I miss you, buddy.

snow geese 2

 

 

 

Published in: on February 6, 2016 at 2:15 pm  Comments (1)  

Another Year

Another year, another New Year’s Eve, and at my age, just another night except for the shotguns and fireworks that some here in the neighborhood feel compelled to discharge at the stroke of midnight rousing me from a peaceful sleep. Oh, I used to get out there and party with the best of them. No more, in fact I can barely remember those days.

With all the usual annual warnings about drinking and driving and designated drivers and being safe out there, an incident came to mind. It wasn’t New Year’s Eve, but it did involve drinking as well as the late, great, Bobby Bracken (who else)? Some of you have heard the story (it gets better with the telling), but you can follow along if you want.

The four of us, Bobby, me, and two boys from Kansas City, Doug and Pressler, were on our way to Lake Texoma for yet another go at striper fishing. We were in Bobby’s pickup, a nice GMC crew cab, with the bed loaded to the rails with supplies. We had enough food to feed forty; steaks, taters, eggs, bacon, biscuits, cooking oil for a fish dinner, ice, vodka, and beer…lots and lots of beer.

Believe it or not, we did have enough good sense (a rare event) to pick a non-drinking driver before leaving Tulsa. Pressler reluctantly took the wheel while the rest of us laid back and settled in for the three and half hour trip to laugh, joke, tell stories, and drink Bloody Mary’s out of red plastic cups. Good times. There was one problem. Mr. Pressler had a little trouble keeping it under the speed limit. We made it as far as Okmulgee.

We were doing maybe twenty over, when we topped the hill just outside of town. The Sheriff’s car was right where you might expect it, on our side of the road, waiting for someone to make his day. Pressler tried to shut it down, but it was way too late for that. The deputy was already smiling. Pressler didn’t hesitate. As soon as the deputy moved out, Pressler  pulled us over even before the red lights came on. When you’re guilty, you’re guilty. No sense fighting it.

Bobby kicked the bottle under the seat while the rest of us casually covered our red cups with baseball caps. Pressler lowered the window.

“License please.”

He gave us a quick once over and then returned to his car. We could see him talking on the radio. We’re all thinking the same thing, speeding by a bunch, open container, this could get ugly.

The officer returns, this time checking out all the gear in the back.

“Where you guys going in such a hurry?”

Bobby speaks up. “Lake Texoma. Striper fishing.”

“I’ve always wanted to try that,” the deputy replies.

“Well hell,” Bobby says in that big booming voice we all knew so well. “Get your ass in here and let’s go!”

Oh crap, Bobby.

The cop addresses the driver. “Mr. Pressler, would you do me a favor?

I knew what was coming, not a doubt in mind. The next words out of his mouth were gonna be, “Step out of the truck and put your hands behind your back.”

Instead, “Sir, would you promise me to stay under the speed limit for the rest of the day?”

We all know that answer.

Some days you hit an inside straight. Some days you scratch a lotto ticket and make ten bucks. Some days you meet a friendly lawman that likes to fish. All unlikely, but it does happen.

sheriff

 

Published in: on December 29, 2015 at 1:29 pm  Comments (1)  

Hawk Eyes

It’s that time of year when hawks like to hang around the highways and byways on the lookout for a little road kill or an unwary rodent to expose itself. Sometimes the hawks are so focused on a meal that they forget to watch for cars, a prime reason so many are injured or killed on the roads.

What I like to do is grab a camera and cruise some of the roads less traveled, hoping a hawk will hold still long enough for a photo. It doesn’t happen often. Usually, the mere act of slowing down is enough for the bird to take off and seek another perch. One can only assume they have been shot at so many times by all the Bubba’s out there, that their DNA kicks in and tells them to boogie the hell out of there.

Finding a lonely road to travel for hawks these days is a challenge. It seems that no matter how forlorn the side road looks, the minute you start down it, someone will be on your bumper in about oh, forty-seven seconds.

Driving slowly on a country lane draws suspicion from the locals. Once, back when I was driving my little Ford Bronco !!, I stopped for a shot of a meadowlark and was immediately approached by a man in a farm truck that wanted to know what the hell I was doing. The presence of a camera with a huge 600mm lens about the size of Moby Dick sticking out my window was lost on the gentleman.

“We been losing some cows lately,” he said.

I don’t know how many cows he thought I could cram in the back of the Bronco !!, but he clearly wasn’t taking any chances.

So there I was, a beautiful day, bored out of my mind, sitting at the computer, idly looking around with Google Earth, when I spot a road that looked promising. And it was only a few miles from my house! I ‘d passed the road many times, but assumed it led only  to a couple of houses and stopped. Google said no. It kept on going for a good mile, maybe two, crossing Shell Creek and passing through a patch of woods, before dead ending at what looked to be a group of mobile homes and junkyard cars.

Double-wides and junkers at the end of a backwoods road sent red flags soaring. Scenes of meth labs and marijuana fields danced though my head. But back up the road, about a hundred yards, was a turnaround site. I made a mental note: an ‘ol boy might be prudent to stop and do a u-turn right about there.

I grab a camera, check the battery, the memory card, and halfway out the door when the Missus pipes up. “I want to go.” Hmm. I suppose she could dial 911 if things got ugly. “Get in the truck.”

Found the road, made the turn, a nice looking home appeared on the right. That was a good sign. Up ahead, another house, also nice looking, but the road narrowed to one lane. Not good. I never made it to the second house. The bumper of a monster red Chevy pickup appeared in my rearview mirror. Uh, oh. Due to the lack of a passing lane, I maneuvered crosswise in the driveway to the house, hoping the Chevy would pass me by. Didn’t happen. I swore I could hear some banjo music somewhere.

Directly across from me, a dark-skinned man, possibly Mexican, hit the button to lower his passenger side window. Reluctantly, I followed suit knowing full well it was my only shield against the immanent shotgun blast I knew was coming any second now.

“Can I help you with something?” the man yelled over the din of his diesel. He was not smiling.

“Not really.”

“You’re blocking my driveway.”

I couldn’t see the AR-15, but I’m sure it was there. “Sir, I am so sorry. Is this a private road?

“It is. You can turn around up yonder by the creek.”

“I will do that,” I said.

And did.

 

Moral: Do not travel unknown back roads in rural Oklahoma. The hawks aren’t the only ones watching you.

redtail

 

 

 

Published in: on December 20, 2015 at 11:13 am  Comments (2)  

Sleep Disorder Solution: Revised

Deeply distressed over the lack of monetary appreciation for my solution on how to get back to sleep at 2:00 a.m. outlined in a previous blog, I’m forgiving you of that oversight and continue to share my bullshit wisdom and experience in such matters.

To briefly review, the idea was to take stock of your body parts, relaxing each in turn, until all was comfy and you were reasonably sure there were no monsters under the bed. From there, you took slow measured breaths (through the nose) concentrating on each inhale and exhale, feeling the passage of air, in and out, in and out, relaxing the mind until the Sand Man returns and you drift back into a deep blissful sleep.

Full disclosure. It didn’t always work. I stumbled onto the solution late one night after yet another cat incident (hairball) and could not for the life of me, get back to dreamland. I practiced controlled breathing until my nose hairs quivered in pain, but sleep would not come. Then it hit me.

Introducing the new and exciting

BREATHE YOURSELF TO SLEEP: VERSION TWO

It’s pretty simple really. All you have to do is pretend your nose is a little vacuum cleaner. Oh, go ahead and laugh, but it really, really works. What you do is visualize the digit one, several of them (kind of like cat hairs on the carpet), huddled in the vicinity of your upper lip. On the inhale and with your mind’s eye, watch those little numbers being sucked up the nasal canals. Don’t worry. It won’t hurt and most of them will disappear. Sure, some of them might drift back out on the exhale, ignore them. Move on to digit two. Repeat. Big breath. There they go, in, in, in… exhale. On to the threes.

Oh, I can hear you now. “What about double digits, tens, elevens, seventeens? What about that?”

Here’s the good news my friend, most of the time you won’t’ have to deal with it as you will be fast asleep  long before you get that far. Tests have shown that sleep is achieved, on the average, between the sevens and nines mark. On the rare occasions when you go beyond nine, continue to think of them as singular digits, i.e. ones and twos, ones and sevens, mixed together like peas and carrots in the stew. Using a whole twelve or seventeen is counterproductive and just does not work.

Once again, please show your appreciation for this tip in the form of a Christmas card wrapped over a twenty-dollar bill, or more if the spirit moves you.

Sweet dreams.

Ho, ho, ho.

teeth

 

Published in: on December 16, 2015 at 11:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Drill, Baby, Drill.

I’ve been thinking about changing the name of this blog to The Saturday Morning Post, but that would imply a new post every Saturday morning wouldn’t it? That’s not gonna happen. Even more disturbing: if I missed a Saturday, would anyone even notice? Undeterred, I press on with the latest spur of the moment offering, this one involving America’s most ubiquitous shopping place, Wal-Mart.

My cordless drill was fading fast, at least the battery was. Charge it up and, use it or not, three days later the battery was low again. Buy a new battery, dummy. Not so fast. Seems that a new battery was only slightly less than the cost of a new drill, battery and all. Go figure.

Hello, Amazon.

I didn’t need an all-in-one device that drills, sands, buffs, pulls teeth, and washes your car. Nor did I want a heavy duty industrial version that can drive titanium screws into solid steel. Just a plain old handyman model would do. Amazon listed a common Black and Decker for $59 that would serve the purpose. My index figure hovered over the Buy With One Click button, but with Christmas coming, I held off.

I let my wishes and needs be known to all my friends and relatives (as well as Santa), but received not a hint, not a promise, not a solitary twinkle in the eye that a new drill would be under the tree come Christmas morning. Humbug to all of you. I hope your stockings overflow with coal.

Still pondering what to do, I accompany the Missus to Wal-Mart. I take my usual role as cart pusher and am idly standing by while the lady of the house fills the cart with cat food and kitty litter, about fifteen thousand dollars worth conservatively speaking. I abandon my post and sneak over to the tool section. Wouldn’t you know it, there was the very same drill I’d seen on the Internet and get this…four dollars cheaper. In the cart she goes.

I hang back at the checkout counter so as to ring up my item separately from the kitty crap. I don’t buy cat food. The Missus doesn’t buy drills. It’s the secret to a long and happy marriage. But, there’s a problem. The B&D has a security anti-theft button on the package which must be removed with a special tool. The cashier had no such tool at her station. Off she goes, register to register, searching under counters, asking questions, pleading,. “Anybody seen the tool to take the button off?” They had not.

She heads for the Customer Service Department while the line of customers behind me is now snaking back to the toy department, lingerie, almost to tires and automotive. She finds the tool at last  (apparently the only one that Wal-Mart owns) but struggles with it. The button refuses to come off. More customer service people show up. They all take a try at the thing. No joy. Finally, finally, with angry shouts from the line, success. Thank you, Jesus.

Relieved and embarrassed for the delay, I shove my credit card in the slot and get this screen message:

Card unusable or damaged. Cannot read card.

I notice the woman behind me un-boxing her new set of kitchen carving knives.

The cashier offers to enter the data manually. She shakes her head and frowns. Not a good sign. Now, I know the card is good. The Visa people call me monthly to make sure I’m okay and in good health and their cash cow is alive and well. I whip out another card from another bank. It goes through. I offer up another prayer of thanks.

Home free? Well, not quite. Pausing at the exit, I look over the receipt and notice that the purchase price was not fifty-five dollars as seen on the display, but a whopping seventy-nine smackeroos. WTF?

Back to the tool department. Sho nuff, some dunderhead had stuck a more expensive model (the I can do everything but wipe your fanny model) directly under the poor boys display.

The gals in Customer Service saw me coming, made an effort to duck under the counter, but it was too late.

“Ladies, which one of you would be so kind as to ring up a refund on box number one and a purchase for box number two?”

They stared at box number two sporting yet another anti-theft button. They have a short conference.

“How did Mary get that off before?” one whispered.

“No idea, but I’ll try.”

They tried, and they tried, and they tried. They look around for help. An older gentleman was manning one of the nearby registers, gray hair, glasses, distinguished  is the impression. He takes a look. This ain’t his first rodeo. He knows exactly where the proper tool is kept and pops the button off. Elapsed time? About two and half seconds.

I walk past the man on the way out. “Thanks for your help.”

“You’re welcome, sir. Merry Christmas.”

I swear I saw a twinkle in his eye.

drill

Published in: on December 10, 2015 at 11:07 am  Comments (1)  

Everything Happens for a Reason. Really?

It’s becoming a common phrase. The last time I heard it was from Pharrell Williams on the TV show The Voice. Some contestant had been either voted on or off, or maybe changed coaches, I don’t recall, to which Pharrell responded, “Everything happens for a reason.”

It got me to thinking. Everything? Really? That covers quite the spectrum doesn’t it? Does it refer to everything humans do, or everything nature does, or both? There are approximately seven billion humans on earth with most of them doing something multiple times a day. Just for a hypothetical, let’s say that on the average each human does about 100 actions a day each with their own outcome. That’s seven hundred billion events per day. That’s a lot of happenings.

Would not “everything” include such mundane events  as hammering a nail, missing, and mashing a thumb, or not––it’s still a happening.

Could be a basketball game. Two seconds left. He shoots. He scores! Or misses.. According to the saying, it doesn’t matter if the player made it or not, it happened for a reason.

A man leaves a door open and a cat gets out. It was an event and quite common at my house. Why did the cat go out? Why did the man leave the door open? Was there a reason behind it?

A woman leaving for work backs over her own toddler. Did that happen for a reason, and if so, what in the name of compassion could it possibly be?

And what about non-human events? ” Everything”  would include nature as well. A record breaking rain falls in Texas, people drown. A tornado touches down in Oklahoma with multiple loss of life. The tornado could have picked up and missed it, but no. (I’m thinking Moore, Oklahoma here),

I think that “everything happens for a reason” implies that a supreme being, a divine entity, is running the show here on our tiny blue dot in the universe and most impressively, down to the most finite of details. But wouldn’t such a being, even an omnipotent and omnipresent being,  certainly have his ( or her, assuming such a god has a gender), hands full at directing 700,000,000,000 events per day, not counting rain, snow, hail, volcanoes, tides, lighting, and whether a tree falls in the forest or not.

Each of those events, according to the adage, would have been anticipated, acted upon, and the impact of the action projected into the future. After all, the reason would have no meaning if the result of the action stopped there.

It all begs the question; if a divine being could have control over this mind-boggling  multitude of events… why would he want to?

No, I think there is a better phrase to sum up the proceedings of the universe. There is no official record of who said it first, but credit is given to one Connie Eble, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, when she wrote an article for a 1983 publication containing a collection of college slang. Short, to the point, and easily understood.

“Shit Happens.”

 

crossroads

Published in: on November 30, 2015 at 9:29 am  Comments (2)