Monday, August 23, 2010


Everybody has a DMV is mine.

Not only did I have to get permission to leave work early, I had to skip lunch.  I left the office at 4:00 on the nose to go to the DMV that closes at 4:30. The purpose of my mission; to renew my drivers license.  I arrive at the DMV at 4:10.  There is an older couple at a desk just inside the front door I just walked through.  There is no signage to let me know which line to get in or window to stand in front of or door to enter.  There is no "take a number" machine.  There is no drivers license renewal kiosk.  I step a little further in the main room and do a 360 degree turn looking for any sign indicating where I need to go.  Nothing.

The front desk must be the gatekeeper.  The line at the desk has increased by one lady.  The older couple leaves as I get in line.  The lady in front of me requested a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) manual.  She was handed a manual that was about an inch thick.  She seemed surprised at the size of the CDL manual.  "You have to be ____ing me!"  She left with the manual right in front of her wide opened eyes.  

I politely smiled at the gatekeeper and let her I know I needed to renew my drivers license. "Sir it is 4:15.  The line for renewing your drivers license is over there."  From here to when you read (to here) took about a nano second and a half.  I thought the clock in my truck must be off, I thought it was about 4:12 but hey what is 3 minutes. She gave me the time, they must be tracking how long people have to stand in line.  Maybe they were trying to set or beat a record. (to here)  "OK thanks."  I start toward the line.
"SIR!  I cannot let you get in the line!"  I stopped in a state of shock and quickly turned around.  I noticed her State Trooper uniform about the time I got "Excuse me?!" out of my mouth.
"As I was saying sir, we close at 4:30.  There are people in line already.  We have another office across town that closes at 5:00.  Maybe you should try that office."

Without saying a word, or making facial expressions that would remotely cause me to spend the night in the slammer, I exited the building.  I was furious.  I knew I could not complain to the authorities.  They had just asked me to leave.  I could not plead my case or schmooze the gatekeeper.  She made it clear she was ready to go home and did not care I had skipped lunch to make here before they closed.

What makes me mad is when I compared what happened to my own job.  If a customer of mine needs something 20 minutes before closing, I do my best to resolve their issue.  I have even stayed late to assist customers.  Seeing the blatant disregard for service irked me.  Not only the disreguard for service but the lack of appreciation of a tax payer.  Is this facility not controlled at least in part by the voters and the tax payers?  Being asked to leave the facility because it was late and there was already a line...   

My first thought, seriously, for real... How do I get a job here!?  Being in customer service for almost 15 years.  What is like to be able to talk down to a customer?  "Hey dude, get out of here, its almost closing time."  To be able to shout at a customer.  "CUSTOMER!  Did you not just hear what I said!?Can you imagine not having any recourse for shouting at your customers?  To have no quota to worry about.  "I could only finish one of your seven priority requested TCMP reports today there John.  Tomorrow?  You requested seven, I  You do the math there sport."   

My second thought... Is this what we have to look forward too?  You think you might have broken a leg?  Uh the line for X-ray is pretty long, maybe you ought to try the other facility down the road.  What, you are having chest pains?  Well we do not have the staff here to test for that condition.  You need to go the other facility in the other town that specializes in chest pain.  How old are you?  Oh sorry you are over the qualified age limit for that procedure. 

Maybe I am still a little peeved at showing up 20 minutes before closing time and not getting to conduct my civic responsibility because there was already a line for that.  I am sure things will be better tomorrow when I take my lunch hour to go to the DMV across town.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Not on my watch

My girls rented "Nanny McPhee" from the library last week.  Since most of you, most likely none of you have seen it, let me summarize. In what must be jolly old England where they over pronounce their vowels, a widower is left with six or seven children to raise.  His children are little devils.  They have just run off the seventeenth nanny in how ever long it has been since their mother passed.  The father is under the financial support of his late wife's aunt.  This aunt has given him an ultimatum to get re-married by the end of the month or his financial support will be cut off.  Being in the bind he is in...he calls on the last available single socialite.

She shows up on the scene for a quick introduction looking like Ronald McDonald's sister.  However she does not share Ronald love for children.  The kids of course pick up on this and decide to take matters into their own hands to make sure he does not wed.  

She returns later for a more extensive visit.  I believe the English call it "tea".  The kids pull out some old Home Alone type shenanigans.  The finger sandwiches had earthworms in them, the tea pot was tipped and poured out frog eggs, as the father lifted the lid the frog jumped out.  They nearly impale her derriere with an arrow as she is about to sit down.  They attempt to sling shot a bowl of oatmeal at her, etc., etc.  Each time the father diverts the disaster by throwing himself at this woman, literally.  I am giving too much probably just need to watch the movie.

My daughters are giggling with delight as they watch these antics.  Each new assault seems to bring more giggles.  When the scene finally concludes, my youngest (who is currently four years old) looks at me sideways, pointing her finger at me and says, "Dad if you try to get a new mommy.  I will do tricks." 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Foot n Mouth

Funny how my thoughts and words come back to bite me in the butt.  How long has it been since I posted the blog about all you cell phone addicts?  Two, maybe three weeks?  My mouth is getting used to the taste of my foot.
I just found out I am no different than you guys.  I just found out I have a strong attachment my wireless Internet router.  Whether it was a power surge from an afternoon thunderstorm, or a tripped breaker due to the printer, modem, router, lamp, and laptop all plugged into the same outlet I am not really sure.  Whatever caused the tragedy, my wireless router went offline today.  
Follow me down the home entertain trail for a minute.  First their was TV.  It had a dial on the TV that had to be turned to change the channel.  In case some of you younger folks did not catch that, you had to stand at the TV to turn a dial to change the channel.  You may be surprised to know that even today their are buttons on the TV itself to change the channels.  Then came the remote control.  No more getting up off the couch to turn the channel or call your youngest son into the room to turn the channel.  One could just use their thumb to change from channel 3 to 5.  

Another example is the telephone.  First it was a telephone in our homes.  It had a cord that only allowed you get about six feet away from the wall it was attached too. Then it was the cordless phone.  Being able to walk around the house leash free was the ultimate phone experience.  

Then came the Internet.  Its first form was called dial up. The most annoying noise in the world would take place for about thirty seconds as you dialed up.  Get this, some of you have already forgotten, you were charged by the minute to access the Internet.  Yes it was a long long long time ago.  Then every body's favorite three words arrived, high speed Internet.  It was now unlimited minutes for Internet access for one low monthly fee.  You could spend as much time as you wanted surfing the Internet.  But even those three favorite words have been upgraded.  Now we have free high speed wireless Internet!  We have come a long way baby.

All that brief home entertainment history to say, with a bit of laziness, not much effort, and even less ambition, the level of couch potato status one can reach with a laptop and wireless Internet is absolutely slothful.  We are a spoiled ruin people. With no wireless Internet, I went from a normal human to a work driven, brain functioning, Internet support technician in about five minutes flat.  

When a man's comfort level is threatened there is serious panic.  I looked for support from my spouse.  Honey just so you know we might be without the wireless Internet for a day or two.   "OK"  OK?...the poor woman was in shock.  I had to fix the router.  I found some notes my IT buddy "Wheels" had left me when we set up the router.  I muddled my way through the notes and within an hour or so I had my wireless Internet back up.  I heard "You da man!"  As a calm settled over me, I started thinking about just how heroic it was of me to get the wireless back up and running.  My kids wanted to know who I was talking too.  I informed my wife the wireless was back up.  She must have still been recovering from her episode.  All she could muster was "OK." 

All you cell phone users are laughing at me aren't you?  Well all I got to say is I am a high speed wireless Internet addict just like you.  I admit it and hope you will accept me into the group.  But by the way, I fixed mine without having to cancel a contract and set up a new plan under a new cellphone provider.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

You added some things to it

Getting together with family during the holidays is always fun for me.  Sometimes we just like getting together because something is in season.  For example, if the month has an "R" in its name, it is a good month for oysters.  Football season is good time for a BBQ.  When the first nip is in the air, it is a good time to make a pot of chili.  During these "get togethers" somebody always starts reminiscing about the good 'ol days.

Whether it is how far they had to walk to school, uphill both ways in the snow, or how many days of there summer vacation were spent on the porch shelling peas.  The stories seem to get more dramatic every time they are told.  My favorites are the ones the elders describe happening 50 years ago.  They may go on for several minutes telling of these events of the yester year as if it happened last week.  They brag on how their minds are sharp as a steel trap but how some of them can remember the exact events of a day 50 or 60 years ago makes me suspicious.  Especially suspicious when they cannot remember where they went for dinner last Tuesday.

My great aunt Peg had just finished one of these golden anniversary stories that some how sparked a more recent memory.  "What was going on the day the MG was driven around the yard?"  Trying to remain discrete I asked if she meant the actual MG incident or the result of the MG incident?

Let me digress for a second.  A few months ago, I was working on writing down different stories.  I had written down the events from about 15 years ago.  To make sure I was on the right track I called Aunt Peg and asked her if she would proof it.  She agreed.  I printed a copy and delivered it her with instructions to proof read for grammar and accuracy.  I asked her to be a strict editor and critic.  She called me about 30 minutes after I dropped it off.  "Your grammar needs some help.  You misspelled some words.  You left some words out.  But most of all you added some things to it.  That is not the way I remember it.  But it still makes me laugh thinking about that day."   I thanked for her for being honest with me and told her I would look back over it.  But I had to tell her I did not add much.  I was there, I saw what happened.  We chuckled about it again.

Back to present.  Hopefully I have corrected the misspelled words and added in the missing words.  As far as grammatical errors...well let me know if you find any.  Here is my version of the events of that day once again stirring up debate with my Aunt Peg at the last get together:

I want to take a few moments to tell about a few of my memories living with my Aunt Peg.  Peg took me in to provide me room and board while I attended college.  She was not only taking care of me, but she was the primary care giver to her mother Verna, my great grandmother.  Peg worked nights as nurse so it gave them both great comfort knowing Vern was not alone in the house all night.  

Verna, Vern, Nanna, Momma Roberts, or “Greatnanna” as I called her, had a wonderful sense of humor.  She loved to laugh.  She had great stories of growing up.  She would tell me stories of her childhood in Mississippi and all the things developed in her lifetime.  She told me about the first time she saw a car, a telephone, indoor plumbing, air conditioning, ice maker, just to name a few.  Things I had never been without, she had seen them introduced.  Her sister in law and best friend, Celia Faye, would come to visit about twice a year.  The both of them would sit, talk, and laugh about those days into the wee hours of the morning. I could sit and listen to them for hours.  

The years I lived with Peg, Greatnanna was in her eighties.  She was nearly blind and deaf; both of which she took in stride.  She spent most of her time listening to books on tape.  If she was not listening to books on tape or taking a nap she was praying.  She often wanted to know “how (my) schooling was coming along”.  She often told me she had prayed for me every day but especially during my exams.  Lord knows I needed it.

One of my favorite memories while staying with Peg and Vern was during one particular weekend Peg had bought her granddaughters a swing set.  Her oldest granddaughters might have been about 6 and her youngest about 3.  Their father, Benny, and I were told we would be putting the swing set in Peg's backyard on Saturday.  From what I remember Benny had been called in to work for a few hours that Saturday morning.  So to guarantee our labor, Peg promised us a good lunch before we started.   Benny shows up in his MG.  As he called it, it was his “just to tinker around with” car.  

He arrived and called his wife Dara to head that way with the girls.  About the time he and I finished lunch Dara and the girls arrived.   Benny had parked the MG at the end of the driveway near the backyard.  For some reason, I cannot remember why, we needed it moved from the driveway so we could work on the swing set.  The box the swing set came in was already in the backyard.  So there was no reason I can remember why we needed the MG moved.

Why is it the car that in the driveway first is always the one needing to get out first?  Over the years we had just driven around the house into the front yard and out the driveway.  Apparently Peg did not approved of tire tracks it left in her yard.  She had been on us about stopping this practice.  Our argument was it saved time and saved a bunch of people having to shuffle cars in and out of the narrow driveway.  Dara, who was exempt from any such rules, suddenly announced that she would like to move the MG.   We were not shocked at her desire to go rouge on the rules, we were stunned she wanted to move the MG.  She did not know how to drive a vehicle with manual transmission. 

Peg said, “Well if Dara is going to drive the MG, she can circle around through the backyard.  She needs the practice driving a stick shift.”  Benny reminded Peg that Dara is not very good driving a stick shift.  Both Peg and Dara tell Benny how can you learn if you do not practice.  Giving me a look of "I am not going to win this battle today", Benny tossed Dara the keys.  Vern made her way out onto the carport announcing she was going to supervise the swing set project.  She wanted to make sure the job was done properly for her great-grand children.  So the whole family was under the carport watching.

Dara gets in the MG and asks Benny for instructions.  “Now what was it again, give it gas and ease off the clutch?”  “You want me to move it?  It will not take me near as long.” Benny asked as Dara cranks the MG.  “I can do it” Dara said.  As Peg, the girls and I are standing clear under the carport with Vern sitting close to the back door, the anticipation grew. 

Benny is standing near the MG prepared to give further instruction.  The engine roared to about 4,000 RPM’s.  (Normally when a gas pedal is pressed and released it makes a  “vroom, vroom” sound.  When a gas pedal is pressed and held down nearly to the floorboard the sound is much higher pitched and intense like it is in pain, “WHIIIIIIIINE”) The MG is screaming from Dara’s revving WHIIIIIIIIIII.  Benny screams, “Not so much gas!”  I was tensed up hoping she did not pop the clutch.  She eased off on the gas pedal and the engine slows back to an idle.  Dara asked “Was that about right?”  
 “Are you sure you don’t me to move the MG?” Benny said.  “No I can do it!” Dara replied.  The engine revved up again WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiiiiiinnnn… SPIT SPUTTER…the engine died.  “I eased off the clutch.” Dara said as she looked at Benny as if it was his fault.  “But honey you have to keep the gas pedal down as you release the clutch.  You let off the gas to release the clutch.”  “OK but that is hard to do.  Let me try again.”  Dara cranks the MG and rev’s it up again.  The engine screams WHIINNNN…SPIT…SPIT…WHIIIIIIIIIInn…SPUTTER.  The MG moves about 2 feet forward before the engine dies.  “OH I did it!” Dara screams excitedly.

Benny is shaking his head.  Peg is starting to get tickled.  The girls are laughing.  Vern is being the steadfast mother of encouragement, “Dara you are doing fine, keep trying honey.”  Dara cranked the MG again.  WHHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIn---SPIT...WHIIIIIIIII—SPUTTER—SPUTTER---WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII…SPIT SPUTTTER…WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIInnnn…SPUTTER SPUTTER….WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIInnn engine died.  She had move about 10 feet.  She cranked it again.  Benny made a comment about how glad he was he had just replaced the starter.   WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIInn..SPIT SPIT SPIT SPIT SPIT SPIT WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIInnn SPIT SPIT SPIT SPIT engine dies.

Peg is really laughing now.  Vern is laughing.  Dara is laughing.  The kids are laughing. Benny and I are shaking our heads.  She made it about half way around the yard at this point before it died.  She cranks it again.   WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIInn SPIT SPIT SPIT SPIT unnnn BOG SPIT SPUT SPIT WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIn unnnnn.  While she is moving ever so slowly in continuous motion for the first time, I look over at Peg to say “I think she finally has it.”  Peg is holding her belly laughing hard with one leg pulled up.  This makes me smile.  Then I start to laugh a little.  The whole time there is still all the noise from the MG.   WHIIIIIIINN unnnnnnn…WHIIIIIIIINNN…unnnnnn! Then as I am watching Peg she spins her south side towards me and straightens up to get a breath.   That’s when I see it.  Peg a mature woman, mother, grandmother, registered nurse, landlord and caregiver has peed herself from laughing.  Well now…that’s funny.

I get Benny’s attention and point to Peg, “She’s peed herself!” I announce to him.  Benny’s head snapped around faster than had he been in the passenger seat when Dara popped the clutch to take a look at his mother-in-law.  He fell directly to the ground lying on his back, knees up, holding his stomach.

Vern, again her sight was not the best, but apparently seeing Benny disappear starts tugging on my shirt and asked me what is going on.  “Great…Greatnanna…Ben…Benny….is…laughing.”  I can barely get it out for laughing myself.  “Is he laughing at Dara?  Why in the world is he on the ground?” she asked.   “No not Dara, Greatnanna…Peg.” I stuttered out.  “Peg!  Why Peg?” she asked.  “Peg has peed her pants laughing at Dara’s driving!” I managed to get the news out in one breath.  “Well you don’t say.” Vern replies with a chuckle.  Vern gets up out of her chair and shuffles over to Peg to get a closer look.  Mind you, while all this is going on, Dara is still in the MG.  So there is still the WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIn…SPIT…SPIT SPUTTER BOG…..WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIn.  Vern gets close enough to Peg to see her wet pants.  Vern turns her head toward me and starts laughing.  Next thing I see, I swear on a stack of Bibles, is Vern starts holding her stomach and raises her leg.  Peg sees Vern pants points and screams out “Like mother like daughter!” 

As Dara finally passes the corner of the house with her neck stretched high making sure she is not going hit the house, she is smiling like a mule eating briar's.   When she makes it around the house the noise dies down to a hum.  The scene in the backyard is left with two grown women still laughing, walking around funny from their wet pants, and two grown men on their backs with their legs pulled up, arms across their chest heaving trying to catch their breath. 

When Dara comes around from the front yards she thinks we are all laughing at her driving.  She says curtly “It was not that funny”.  I wipe my eyes and roll up on my side a bit to explain.  But before I could say anything to Dara her six year old daughter pulls on her shorts and points at Peg.  “Peg and Nanna pottied in their pants momma.”   Dara looked over at her laughing mother and grandmother in their wet britches, started laughing, grabbed her stomach and raised a leg…

Peg's version of the same story:
Bless her heart, Dara was having trouble driving the MG around the house that day.  She was starting and stopping so many times.  I remember we all got real tickled.  That's all I remember about that. 

Favorite quotes

A repeat from an earlier list but it is just so good:
Life is hard; its harder if your stupid.  - John Wayne

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work. - Stephen King

Never, never, never, never give up. - Winston Churchill