Monday, December 31, 2007

Dumb Luck - Chapter Five

Here it is, the fifth and what I thought would be the final chapter in my story "Dumb Luck". This chapter took a bit longer to unfold than I thought it would, so I'll be writing a sixth tomorrow. I'm confident I'll be able to get to the end of the story in that chapter.

Thank you all for your encouragement along the way. It definitely helps to know that you're out there and are interested in hearing the plot unfold.

I think I'll continue, outside of the blog, to develop the characters and expand on the details and see what the end result is. I've never tried writing anything of this size before, but in my own little fantasy it sure would be nice to see this sitting on a bookshelf someday.

Thank you as well to those of you that have offered up suggestions for the story and most importantly how I can improve as a writer.

If you're new to the site or haven't had a chance to read the first four chapters I would encourage you to go back a few posts and start there. Happy New Year and . . . Enjoy.

Each with money in hand, the two men were off to complete their transaction. As they crossed the front lawn Darren asked, "Is there any gas in the car?"

"Yeah, at least a half a tank." Stopping at his driveway Ryan continued, "Think about what you're doing man."

"I don't have time to think about anything, except getting as far away from here as I can."

"Look, if you do this, you're done! I mean no more house, no more job, goodbye family . . . Where does it end?"

"Are you kidding me?" Darren replied, "I just bought a house I can't afford and that dead end job of mine will probably never even know I'm gone."

"OK, so what about your family? You can't just bail on them."

"What family?" He said, "My dad walked out when I was five and my mom's drunk more than she's sober!"

By now they'd made it into Ryan's garage and neither of them were feeling too good about the situation they were in.

"The keys are in the house. I'll go get them."

As his neighbor reached for the door Miles said, "Are Karen and the kids home?"

"Yeah, they're inside."

"Not a word!"

"It's cool, I don't think they know anything about it yet. . . I'll be right back."

A couple of minutes later Ryan came out of the house with a set of keys in his hand and his wife in tow. What was she doing out here? He wondered.

"Hi Darren." she said, "What are you up to?"

He shot his neighbor a, What the hell did you tell her? look.

He was immediately greeted by Ryan's wide open eyes and his head shaking back and forth ever so slightly. This was his non-verbal communication that indicated, I didn't say a word.

Darren knew this wasn't the time for idle chit-chat, but he had to come up with something to say. Trying to keep his cool, he looked at Karen and while pointing to the car said, "I decided to buy the Buick from you guys."

"Really. . . I thought you said you hated this old clunker. Besides, you have that nice Jeep of yours. What are you going to do with two cars?"

This was the opening he was hoping for.

"Didn't Ryan tell you?"

With a puzzled look aimed toward her husband she said, "Tell me what?"

Darren quickly interjected, "My Jeep was stolen today."

"Oh my god, it what?"

"It's a long story and I don't mean to be rude, but I've got about a half a million things to take care of and I really need to get going. I'll fill you in later OK?"

"Sure. . . Darren. . . I'll leave you boys alone to finish up then."

As she headed into the house she glanced back over her shoulder. Her intuition told her something wasn't right with this picture, but it also told her not to get involved. . . at least not yet.

"Good night." she said, and went inside.

It seemed like every time he turned around someone else was getting drawn into this saga.

"Look, you two have been good to me the past few months and I don't want to get you in the middle of this so here take this."

What he said and what he did next seemed to be in complete contradiction with each other. He reached into the bag, then handed Ryan another bundle of fifties.

"Here take this. It should help you forget I was ever here. . . Right?"

"What about the car? They're going to find it eventually."

"I don't know. . . Report it as stolen. . . I don't care, tell them anything. . . Just give me a couple of days please."

"I'll do what I can"

With that he threw the bags in the trunk, climbed in the car and fired it up. As the garage door raised, Ryan stuck his head in the passenger side window and said, "Where are you gonna go?"

"I don't know yet, someplace warm though. I'm sick and tired of this cold weather."

Seconds later he made a left turn onto Kingston Street and he could see flashing lights ahead. They were getting closer. He knew he'd barely made it out of there, but just how much time he had left was a mystery.

He pulled over and watched as three black Suburbans zipped past him with their red and blue lights flashing from inside the front grill. These were no ordinary police cars, he thought. These are what the Feds drive and they're way to close for comfort.

All he could hope for now was that the couple he'd just left would keep their mouths shut long enough for him to put some distance between them.

Snow started falling again as he was headed south on the interstate. He wondered what was happening back at his house and more importantly perhaps, he wished he knew what was going on next door.

Two hours had passed since getting into the car and still not a single piece of news on the radio that was of any use to him. He found himself cursing the stations for playing music and wished he'd hear, 'WE BREAK AWAY FROM OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMING TO BRING YOU THIS SPECIAL BULLETIN.' but it never came.

He still wasn't completely sure where he was going, but if he could keep up this pace he'd be out of the state in a couple of hours. That's a start. He thought.

A couple of miles later he looked down at the gas gauge and realized the needle was on E. He'd have to stop and fill it up.

Another ten miles down the road he saw a service station ahead and pulled in. He was in luck. It didn't look very busy and there was an open pump on the island to his right. When he stepped out, he realized the gas cap was on the opposite side of where he normally filled up his Jeep.

Noticing what Darren had done the attendant said, "Not your car huh?"

Paying no attention to the fact that the guy was just making small talk, he harshly replied, "Of course it's mine! What are you talking about?"

"Take it easy buddy, I didn't mean any offense, but your gonna have to move it to the other side for the nozzle to reach."

By now other people filling up their cars were starring at Darren and listening to the two men's exchange of words. This was not the kind of attention he needed.

To be continued.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dumb Luck - Chapter Four

In case you're wondering, I will be wrapping this story up soon. I've got enough ideas swimming around in my head to write quite a bit more on this, but I think I'll do that outside of the blog.

One of my blogging buddies Travis, gave me a suggestion that might help in following the dialog of the story a little better. So the style here might be slightly different than the previous posts, but the story itself continues on in the same manner. BTW is there any way of indenting a sentence on blogger? Not knowing how to do that is a bummer. As a result I'll be putting in a space between lines instead.

If you're new here or haven't read the first three chapters, I would encourage you to go back a few posts and start there. Enjoy.

Like a light bulb going on, something came to Darren. As he walked towards his house he remembered the Jeep was still registered under his late grandfather Nigel's name, and more importantly the documentation for it had a completely different address on it than his own.

Talk about dumb luck. He thought. Any kind of luck right now, as long as it's not bad.

Even with this bit of good news, he knew it wouldn't be long until either the authorities or the family would be able to connect the dots and follow a paper trail back to him.

He was now standing in front of his home and as far as he could tell, it was just as he'd left it earlier that morning. Everything seemed quiet, but if he'd learned anything from this adventure, it was to not get too comfortable about any situation.

Obviously the police weren't around or they'd be all over the place by now. Probably getting a search warrant right now. he thought.

The Bennetelli's on the other hand, didn't have to play by the same rules. In fact they didn't have to play by any rules at all. He wondered if one of them was inside right now waiting for him.

Why would they do that though? he wondered. If they'd have found the money, they would have just taken it and left . . . right?

Now the only thing standing between him and what he hoped was still a bag with a half a million dollars in it was fear, a tremendous amount of fear in fact. With a deep breath, followed by a heavy sigh, he swallowed the lump in his throat and headed up the driveway. Gently making his way through the side gate he eventually made it to the back door.

He pulled a set of keys out of his pocket and fumbled for the right one. His hand was shaking so much he could barely control it long enough to find the slot in the lock. With a bit more persistence he was able to open the door and slip inside.

Once there, he half expected a light to come on and be met by the wrong end of a gun barrel. He stood there motionless in the dark, waiting . . .

He could hear the "tick-tick-tick" from the clock that was hanging on the wall of the kitchen just ahead of him. I sounded so loud against the quietness.

As he counted, 58 . . 59 . . 60, he felt it was safe enough to move on.

Still not ready to turn on any lites, he worked his way through the lower level, shutting the few blinds that had been left open. Now for the upstairs.

Like a b-rate horror movie, the fourth step up moaned out a, "creeeeek" as he put the weight of his foot on it. Any hope for a stealthy entrance was blown now and anybody waiting upstairs would be ready for sure.

That's it! he thought I'm not going out without a fight!

So with a Comanche style war cry, he bolted up the stairs, around the corner and into the bedroom, catching the lite switch on the way in.

"COME ON!" he shouted.

Now he really felt like an idiot. He was the only one there to enjoy his theatrics. At this point he began to laugh. It was one of those types of laughter that comes from an overload of emotions, and it was soon replaced by tears.

Nearly out of breath he glanced over at the closet and saw the duffel full of money sitting in exactly the same spot he'd left it.

I don't have much time, he thought, I've got to figure out how to get this bag of money out of here.

Since his only type of transportation was probably being searched by the FBI at this very moment, he also had to find a way of getting to where he was going next. This presented another problem . . . where to go? He hadn't even thought of that until just now.

Being on the run was not something he was accustomed to.

"A quick shower, a few clothes and I'm outta here." he said out loud.

After showering and filling-up a separate bag full of clothes, he took both bags down stairs and put one on either side of his favorite wing back chair. Sitting down he tried to gather his thoughts. Formulating an escape plan on the fly was not what he'd expected to be doing on a Friday night.

I should be out with my buddies shooting pool, he thought, or better yet, on a date with Nikki from the marketing team.

He sat back, closed his eyes and tried to come-up with some sort of solution to his latest problem. Before he knew it, both physical and mental exhaustion had taken over and he was out. Now the precious little time he had was wasting away as he sat there sleeping.

An hour and a half later he was jarred from his slumber by the "DING-DONG" of the door bell. Like a fighter coming out of the corner for the first round, he shot up out of the chair.

He heard, "THUMP-THUMP-THUMP" on the front door along with the muffled sound of his neighbor Ryan calling his name, "Darren . . . Darren . . . open the door man!"

Jumping to the door he pressed his eye up to the peep hole. When he looked out and saw that Ryan was alone he opened the door and pulled him in with a, "Ssssh . . . Shut up would you!"

Tripping over the threshold, his neighbor fell down right in front of the green duffel bag that lay next to the chair. As he got up, he looked at Darren and said,"It's you isn't it? That's the bag they've been showing on the news tonight!"

"What are you talking about?" Miles replied.

"Oh man, I knew it was you. . . They were talking about all that money, then they showed a picture of your Jeep with the out of state licence plates on it. . . I looked in your driveway and it was gone, but I saw a lite on at your house. . . Holy shit, I can't believe you really did it!"

His neighbor was talking so fast he could barely keep up.

"Then. . . Then they showed that drawing of you. . . I knew exactly who it was. . . Man, you were on every news channel. . . Everybody's looking for you!"

Darren Miles was caught and he knew it. No amount of back peddling or elaborate story telling was going to get him out of this one. As quickly as that realization hit him, something else flashed through his mind.

"Ryan, do you still have that old Buick you're trying to sell?"

"Yeah, it's over in my garage."

"What are you asking for it?"

"Oh wait a minute, I don't know if I want to get involv.."

Cutting him off Miles shouted, "HOW MUCH DAMN IT!"

He quickly replied, "I was hoping to get fifteen-hundred for it, but. . . "

Darren knelt down, grabbed a hold of the bag and unzipped it. Reaching in he picked up one of the bundles and handed it to him.

"There's at least five-grand here. . . Let's go!"

To be continued.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Dumb Luck - Chapter Three

This is chapter three in the continuing story "Dumb Luck". If you haven't already done so, I would encourage you to go back a couple of posts and start at the beginning. Enjoy.

There he sat, just a couple of blocks away from where he'd found his 'ticket to freedom'. That bag full of cash was supposed to have given him freedom...right? So why did it feel like he was in prison? "Ironic" he thought, Prison, that may be my best option now."

As if he didn't have enough problems swimming through his mind, the realization that his only way home meant getting into the most recognized vehicle in the city, certainly added to them. There it sat, right there across the street. He didn't want to get in it and go anywhere for fear it'd be recognized, but he couldn't risk leaving it there for long either. With a one hour parking meter about to expire and the ever present meter maids around every corner, letting it stay there would mean getting a ticket. By itself that wouldn't be the end of the planet, but having the licence plate number entered into the database might be . . . for him anyway.

After a few more moments of contemplating what he was going to do next, he got up, walked across the street and put a couple of coins in the meter. That would give him enough time to walk two blocks over to Ellsbury and check out where he'd found the bag. He wanted to look around to see if there were any other cameras that might have caught his image on tape that day.

As he approached the corner, he started seeing news vans parked along the street. He could also see yellow crime scene tape cordoning off the area ahead. "Maybe I should turn around and go back." he thought, "But there's no way just my face would be recognized from the photo in the paper. Without the Jeep I'll be just another face in the crowd." It was amazing how cavalier he was acting. Perhaps it was all the adrenaline or perhaps he figured he had nothing else to lose. Either way he was determined to get a closer look. What he didn't realize is he was more likely to be caught on tape now with all the cameras buzzing around, than he ever would have been by an ATM photo or any other type of surveillance video.

There were easily a couple hundred spectators gathered around as the crews set-up their shots for the five o'clock newscast. He was actually feeling more at ease with this many others milling about. "I'm a lot less likely to stand out with this many people around." he thought. Suddenly that feeling was gone. Walking down the sidewalk towards him was a K-9 unit. "What if he recognizes my scent?" It had been almost a week ago but, "Dogs have some kind of extra sensory smell, maybe he'd still be able to pick me out." Every episode of COPS where the 130-pound German shepherd pins the bad guy to the ground in a death grip with his teeth around his neck raced through his mind. He could feel his eyes squint in anticipation as the dog and his handler approached. Running was completely out of the question and even avoiding them was impossible now. As they walked past each other he could feel the shepherd's black and tan coat brush against his pants leg. If the dog didn't recognize his scent he was sure to smell his fear, but to his amazement, both man, and more importantly beast, continued down the sidewalk without so much as a sniff in his direction.

Once around the corner, what he saw displayed before him seemed to be a combination of a three-ring circus and one of those crime scene shows. There were journalists from every newspaper and TV network and all of them were conducting interviews with various officers, shopkeepers and on-lookers. He was totally overwhelmed by what he was witnessing, and looking for any sort of surveillance cameras was out of the question. He couldn't recognize any of them, but he was sure some of the Bennetelli's were there too, gathering their own evidence.

Amidst all of the confusion he overheard one news team report the following: "In an exclusive interview with WLTV an eye witness has just confirmed to us, seeing a white male in his early thirties, approximately 5'11" tall leaving the scene the day the money disappeared. She also confirmed that she was able to provide the police and FBI with at least a partial ID of the licence plate from the red Jeep seen in an earlier photo. The officers we talked to would not confirm or deny whether they had been able to make a positive identification from the information provided. They did however, say they would be checking with local DMV officials to assist them in their investigation." Holding up a black and white drawing, the reporter continued, "The eye witness, Miss Sarah Watkins, along with a police artist were able to provide this sketch to us of the man, believed to have found the missing money. For more of this developing story and further details we go back to you at the studio."

If he'd have just listened to his instincts and turned in the money that day he'd probably be a hero now instead of being a wanted man. Shoot, he might even have been given a reward for his effort. Now he had a small fortune at his home that he'd probably never see again.

'Oh, damn! What time is it? The Jeep!" He just realized with all the activity going on around him he had forgotten about the parking meter that, by his calculations had expired ten minutes earlier. As quickly as he could walk without bringing any more suspicion to himself, he began heading back towards where he was parked. About another ten minutes later he turned the corner where his Jeep sat only to find a meter maid and a police cruiser with its lights flashing sitting next to it. "Now what?" he thought, "I've got to get the hell out of here fast. Cab!" he yelled out.

As he climbed in the driver said, "Where to buddy?" "Anywhere but here." he replied. "Say again?" "Oh, eighteen-four-fifty-three Hamilton Drive will be just fine." He was happy to have this yellow and black taxi whisking him away from this segment of his nightmare. When they passed by the corner Miles had been at moments before the cabby said, "Can you believe all this?" Pretending not to hear him, he just starred out the window. "Think they'll find the guy?" he heard. With a noticeable irritation in his voice he replied, "What?" "The guy who found all that money. Where do you think he is by now?" You're talking to him you moron, is what he wanted to say, instead he said, "He's probably a million miles away if he's smart." "I sure wish I'd have found it. I could retire with all that cash. I'd pay off my house and quit this damn job for sure. What would you do if you found it?" As he looked at the driver's eyes in the rear view mirror he said with a solemn voice, "I'd leave it right where it was and run the other direction." "you're nuts buddy!" "I couldn't agree more."

The rest of the drive was silent until he heard the cabby say, "Hamilton's just up ahead, right or left?" The second he heard that he thought, I can't go directly to my house. Any number of people could be waiting there for me. "Uh . . . just drop me off here. It's only a couple of houses away, I'll walk the rest." "Suit yourself, that'll be eighteen bucks." Without thinking he handed the driver a fifty that he'd taken from the bag and told him to keep the change. "For this I'll be happy to take you the rest of the way there." "I'm good." He shut the door and began the rest of his journey on foot.

Everything seemed quiet on his street so far. As he got closer to his house he didn't notice any unusual cars parked along the street or any visual police activity anywhere. He figured with all that had happened earlier he couldn't be very far ahead of those that were looking for him, when he remembered something.

To be continued.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Dumb Luck - Chapter Two

The following post is chapter two of the story, "Dumb Luck". If you haven't read the first chapter I would encourage you to go back one post and start there, then read this one. Please enjoy.

"Excuse me." he said to the bus-boy, "Did I just hear those guys talking about some kind of lost money?" "You haven't heard?" replied a nearby waiter, "It's been all over the news today," Not wanting to tip his hand that he knew at least part of the story, he followed up with, "So, what happened?" Without skipping a beat the waiter reached over to the table where the gentlemen had just been sitting and grabbed the front section of the morning paper. As he handed it off he said, "Here, check this out, it explains everything."

He eagerly grabbed the pages and began to read the headline when he was struck by what he saw. "What on Earth was this?" he thought. He slumped back into the upholstered cushion in utter disbelief as he looked at a surveillance photo showing a side view of his red Jeep. This couldn't be possible, could it? There he was, on the front page of the "Daily Journal", or at least his vehicle was. As he looked closer, there, behind the glass of his passenger side window, sitting in the driver's seat, was a profile shot of him. To most people it was just a grainy shot of what appeared to be a white male driver, but to him it might as well have been a high resolution, 8x10 color glossy with his name printed under it in bold type.

He was sure everyone in the restaurant was looking at him by now, but as he lowered the paper a bit to scan the dining room, he found nothing out of the ordinary. Just families sharing meals together and businessmen engaged in conversations. The TV in the corner was airing the Delta Hawks game just like it always did this time of year. He was sure any minute it would have one of those "Breaking Story" news flashes with a picture of him and a caption saying, "Have you seen this man?", but it didn't, it just kept on playing the end of another meaningless game in their losing season. To everyone else seated around him it was just another day in a large city, but to Darren Miles it was anything but ordinary.

He hadn't looked at the rest of the article yet, and right now that didn't matter. All he could think of was getting out of there and sorting out what was happening to him. He folded the paper, stuck it under his arm, and headed for the door. Just as he was stepping outside he heard the waiter behind him say, "Hey buddy!" His heart dropped. "Oh crap, he knows!" rushed through his mind. Turning around he managed to stutter, "" "I don't need to call the cops do I?" he heard. Ready to bolt he said, "I...uh...I...excuse me?" The waiter grinned and said, "I'm just kidding, you forgot to pay your bill." As he turned to go back into the restaurant, his knees nearly buckled under from the scare he'd just had. "Oh my god, I'm so sorry...I didn't mean to..." he stammered. "Don't worry about it." said the waiter, "You look like an honest guy, it probably just slipped your mind."

"What the hell am I doing?" he thought, "Did that really just happen?" Opening the paper again, he noticed the picture didn't show the licence plate number or any other distinguishing characteristics that he could tell of. He certainly felt better about that, but then again maybe that wasn't the only photo circulating now. He could feel a knot forming in his stomach again as he looked for a place to take in the remainder of the article. Oblivious to the near freezing temperatures outside, he took a seat on a nearby bench. Now he could read the whole article and find out the rest of the story.

"Sting Operation Goes Awry!" was the headline. The article went on to say, "In a bungled attempt to break the notorious Bennetelli auto thief ring, police not only loose an arrest, but also one million in cash." Darren sat there paralyzed in fear of what he had just read. It was bad enough seeing his picture plastered on the front page, but to know the Bennetelli's were involved was more than he could bear. "It couldn't get any worse than this." he thought. These people were part of the largest organized crime family the city had known in over fifty years. When stories about mysterious bodies found floating in the river, or unexplained disappearances of high level executives surfaced, it was always the Bennetelli family whose name came up. Although no arrests had ever been made in these matters everyone, Darren included, knew they were involved "I can not be in the middle of this!" he kept thinking.

When he'd composed himself enough to read further, he saw the police had recovered one of the empty bags along with the tracking device that they'd placed in it. It also explained how there was a second bag that was still missing and that they were working on leads to recover it as well. Did this mean the cops were in his house right now, seizing the bag of money he'd left there earlier in the day? "If there is a god in heaven, please tell me that somehow the tracking device fell out of the bag before I found it." He was not a religious man, but he found himself mentally on his knees praying this thought over and over again now.

Something that kept nagging at him, was how his Jeep became the picture he saw on the front page of the most read paper in the city. He feverishly poured through the rest of the story to find his answer, when he saw the following: "Police found the second tracking device, which appeared to be malfunctioning, at the corner of 49th and Ellsbury. Surveillance photos taken from a nearby ATM showed this yet unidentified vehicle at the scene moments before its discovery. Investigators believe the driver to be involved in the whereabouts of the missing money, according to eye witness accounts."

What he thought couldn't get any worse, just had. Knowing the most feared family in the city would be looking for 'their' money was reason enough to panic, but knowing the police were also trying to track him down was bringing him to the brink. He had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. How could anyone feel this alone in a city this size?

To be continued...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dumb Luck - Chapter One

Here's another original story by Jeff B for your enjoyment.

"What on Earth is this" he wondered? "No it can't be", but it was, right there in plain sight with no one else around it. As he knelt down to get a closer look he felt a strange sense of mystery and excitement rush over him. "Nay, this is some kind of joke", he muttered to himself. Probably one of those hidden camera shows he'd seen on TV as a kid he figured. On the other hand, maybe it was just his turn to have some good luck for a change.

He grabbed the loose bills that had worked their way out of the large green army duffel lying on the street before him. Holding the canvas handle on one side and working the zipper with his free hand he could hardly believe his eyes when he looked inside. Cash, and lots of it filled the bag, which appeared to be abandoned. Reaching in he shuffled neatly bundled denominations of currency from one side to the other all the while looking up and around at his surroundings like a prairie dog on the plains searching for a waiting predator.

Cars drove past and people walked to their destinations barely giving a glance in his direction. Certainly no one sprang out from behind a tree and exclaimed, "Smile, your on candid..." No, this was real and as he began to accept that fact his mind started to race with all sorts of thoughts. First and foremost, whose bag full of cash was this and how did it come to its resting place? Surely it had fallen out of someone's car as they made the turn onto 49th street, but considering how cold it was outside who'd be driving around with a window open. Besides, a bag that size doesn't just slip out from under your nose without notice. Something else that didn't make sense was that anyone caring this much money around would certainly be consciences of its whereabouts at all times. One other thing, who carries that kind of cash around anyway?

"Drug dealers." he reasoned, "They're the only ones who'd have that much money in a nondescript bag like this." He knew it didn't belong to a bank, otherwise it would have been in an official looking bag and the bundles inside wouldn't be bound with rubber bands, instead they'd have those printed-paper wrappers around them. No this was not 'honest' money, it couldn't be.

Suddenly he felt his breathing become shallow and his pulse quicken. What if it did belong to drug dealers or may robbers who'd be coming back any minute now to look for it? What if they found him with it? He could feel the sweat forming on his forehead as his mind pictured what would happen if they saw him with their loot. "Their loot" he thought? "How could they call it theirs if they hadn't earned it legally?" Legal or not, he knew that wouldn't matter if they found him with their bag in his hands.

Without further hesitation he scooped up the bag and walked just under the pace of a run to his nearby Jeep. Tossing the bag into the seat and loosely covering it with a jacket he turned over the engine and quickly sped away. His heart was pounding so hard now he could feel its every beat inside his chest. "I can't drive home." he thought, "What if they saw me and are following me?" His eyes scanned all the rear view mirrors and he cautiously looked from side to side at the other drivers as they passed one another. Nothing though, no one was following or watching, but just in case he decided to drive to the police station where he'd feel safer.

He pulled up and parked near enough to feel secure, but far enough away so as not to be too obvious. He sat there nearly frozen somewhere between fear and exhilaration. "Now what?" he contemplated, "I should just walk in and turn this into the cops. That'd be the right thing to do wouldn't it? But what if they think I stole it? No one just walks in with a bag full of money and declares, "You're never gonna believe this, but I just found this on the street." They'd arrest me, lock me up and sort out the details later. Nay, that sort of stuff only happens in the movies...right?"

"I could just keep it for a while." he began to think. "Yeah, that's what I'll do. If someone legitimately reports it missing I can always turn it in at that point." As he started to rationalize this new way of thinking he could feel his body start to relax a bit, but that was far from what his mind was doing.

Realizing he was safe and that no one had tailed him he decided to put the Jeep in gear and head for home. Now thoughts of 'What if?' started to occupy him. "What if no one claims it" became his focus, "and how much was in there?" he wondered. Mentally picturing how many bundles he'd seen earlier he tried to calculate what the net worth of his discovery would be. Try as he might though, it was impossible to come up with any sort of number that seemed reasonable.

Twenty-five minutes after leaving the police station he'd stopped at, and nearly an hour and a half since the whole whirl wind ordeal began, he pulled into the driveway of his suburban home. With a deep sigh of relief he was more than ready to get inside. A quick survey of the neighbor's yards showed no signs of activity. "Great, I can get to the front door undetected." he thought. With the coat still draped over the duffel he made a b-line to the front door, unlocked it and slipped inside. Upon entering he immediately bolted it behind him.

Now it was time to find out just how much was in the green bag he'd retrieved. He raced to the top of the stairs, made a quick left and went to the end of the hallway where his bedroom was. As he poured out the contents onto his unmade bed he noticed he'd forgotten to zip up the bag earlier. In his haste he had just grabbed it and ran. "Did any of it fall out?" he wondered. "Who cares?" he heard a small voice say, "There's plenty left anyway." That was quite the understatement, because as he looked at the pile on his bed he could barely believe his eyes. He knew there'd be a substantial amount of cash, but even this surpassed what his imagination had conjured up. The majority of the bundles were hundreds, with a smattering of fifties and twenties, nothing smaller could be found. After counting it and recounting it again he came to the conclusion that there was well over $500,000 sitting there.

How could he use that much tax-free money? His imagination wandered from exotic trips to luxury cars. As much as he'd like to pay off his house with it he knew that wouldn't be possible without raising suspicion. For the next several days, 'what to do with it all', seemed to occupy all his waking moments. He tried to maintain a sense of normalcy with his everyday activities, but found it increasingly difficult as the days went past. The guilt of carrying this enormous secrete around was starting to wear on him. Nearly a week had gone by and he hadn't told another sole. "I've got to get this off my chest." he thought, "there must be someone I can tell." Just then as he was about to take another bite of his turkey club sandwich he overheard two guys in the booth next to his say something that would change everything.

To be continued...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

I'd like to take a moment to wish all of you a very heartfelt Merry Christmas!

We all have different reasons for celebrating this season. For some it is driven by faith, for others it's a time to connect with family and friends. There are many others I could list, but obviously you each know what is on your heart. Still, others may feel sad because there is an emptiness with the loss of someone close.. One thing is for certain, this time of year will bring out emotions in all of us.

I hope where ever you are physically, mentally and spiritually you are able to find peace and happiness today.

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 21, 2007

What Is It #2 Solved and Ring Those Bells

Well the first attempt at this was pretty much a give away, almost everyone guessed correctly. This time however, I managed to stump you all. Some were on the right track guessing that it was some sort of a bucket while others were sure that there was something frozen in the bottom of it. Must have been the blue color that gave it that effect. Katherine asked for a hint and I nearly gave the following as a clue: 'If you look at my previous post it might help solve this one.' So if you haven't already scrolled down to discover what it is see if that helps.

Here's the original photo:

And here's a wider view:

It's a one gallon paint can shaker/mixer from my local paint supplier. What you were looking at was the 'bucket' that the paint can sits in. The 'frozen' material on the bottom is blue paint from a can that the lid wasn't tight on. I purposely did not pick the machine on the right because it had too many different colors splattered on it and figured it would be way to easy to identify.
While reading a post over at Roger's about the Salvation Army bell ringers I remembered a story about a bell ringer of a different kind.
There was a church that had a beautiful bell tower and was in need of a new person to ring it for the Sunday services. After several weeks of looking for a candidate and no one coming to apply for this prestigious honor, along came Igor.
Now Igor was born without any arms, had a terrible hunchback and was quite ugly to look at. This did not stop him from insisting that he could do an excellent job.
"But you have no arms, how will you operate the ropes to ring the bell?" said the Bishop.
"I will not use the ropes at all." insisted the man.
"I will climb the stairs and when I reach the top of the tower I will run to the center of it and thrust my body and face into the bell and a glorious sound will be heard throughout the town!" he exclaimed.
The Bishop gasped and said, "We could never allow you to do that to yourself. That would be unthinkable. There must be something else for you to do."
"I beg of you to let me show you what I can do. I come from a long family of bell ringers and in my fathers honor I implore you to reconsider."
After much begging and pleading from the man and pressure from the congregation to fill the position, the bishop agreed to let the man have the job.
Finally, Sunday came and he climbed the tower, ran to the center of it and with a WHACK! he thrust his body and face into the bell. (((BONGGGGGG))) the sound of the massive bell filled the town square and all the people were delighted to hear its music again.
Several weeks went by with the hunchback man performing his duties flawlessly until one fateful Sunday when he tripped half way across the floor and missed the bell completely. AAAAAAAAA...!!! he went flying through the air and landed with a THUD! dead on the ground below.
As the towns-people came milling towards the church for service that day they were puzzled as to why they had not heard that familiar sound they had come to expect. About that time some of them came across the man they had listened to and saw, but never really met. As one of the men turned him over he heard another say, "Who is that?"
"I don't know?" he said, "But his face sure rings a bell!"
A short time after this the man's twin brother came and took the job as the bell ringer. As fate would have it he too met the same doom as his poor brother. Upon finding him, one of the towns-people asked who he was.
"I don't know, but he's a dead ringer for the guy who died hear a couple of months ago!"
On a completely different note, Marilyn over at More Random Than Average has a comment story going on over at her site. It's a live story where your comments become the actual story. If you have a chance check it out and add to it. It's pretty fun to see how it changes with different people helping to script it. I asked her about linking to it before hand and she was all for it so don't be shy about joining in. (Yeah, like any of you are shy. haha)
Ciao for now.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What Is It? #2

It's been a few days since I've posted anything and it feels like I've been gone for weeks. Funny how attached I've become to all of you in such a short amount of time. Not funny haha, but that in a couple of months I've been able to meet and get to know so many wonderful people through this world of blogging. I'm looking forward to taking some time tonight to get to your sites and see what you've been up to.

The other thing I'm looking forward to is some time off from work. As I've mentioned before it's been really busy for the past few weeks and now I'm ready to relax and enjoy Christmas. Waaaahoooo!!!! It's nice to be able to choose to take time off this time of year instead of hoping the phone is going to ring. As an added bounus the last job paid in cash so that will definatly help with the shopping. Of course if any of you are IRS agents, please put your mind at ease, I will naturally be declaring this as income. Bwahahaha

For now I'll leave you with another mystery photo to guess at. This one might be pretty easy too, but then again I know what it is, so of course I think it's obvious.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Painting with Dad

The past few days have been unbelievably busy in the work arena and in the middle of December that's a beautiful thing. For those that don't know, I'm a general contractor. My primary focus is on specialty concrete coatings, but I've also done several other trades through the years such as framing, sheet rock and painting.

Most of this knowledge I gleaned from my dad as I was growing up. You see when something around the house needed fixing or doing, he didn't pick up the phone book and call someone at random, he picked up the tool belt and called down the hall to his three sons. "Come on guys, we're painting the house this weekend." would not be an uncommon phrase heard in our home. Neither would, " Boys, we're putting in a sprinkler system and new lawn."

Now actually doing these jobs was quite the process. The reason, there was only one way that any of them could and would be done. That was the Gene Bach Sr. way! My dad was an expert in all fields of home renovation. Never mind that some things he had never done before. In no way did that influence his ability to be the world's foremost authority on any subject. This would be painstakingly played out in his detailed instructions on how every aspect of a particular job was to be done.

If painting the house was on the agenda, he would start by giving us the complete history of how paint was made including, oil based, latex, varnish, shellac, primers, base coats, sealers and any new concepts that hadn't reached the market place yet. This would be followed by a 'Everything you ever wanted to know about a paint brush, but were afraid to ask' speech. He would then continue to enlighten us with wisdom concerning all the other items we'd be using throughout the project. By the time I was ten years old I could tell you more about painting supplies than most paint store owners.

Following the 'History of paint' portion of our morning we would then be treated to a 'How to properly prepare a house for paint' session. All the joys of scraping, sanding and priming were magically brought to life right before our very eyes.

Once our chemistry and physics lesson was complete it would now be time to learn the masters skill of application. As you might have guessed, this was no short explanation and turn them loose type of talk. It was a highly detailed demonstration of how all houses on the planet should be painted. In this chapter we would learn firsthand how, by example, to properly apply paint to a vertical surface. It should be noted that no paint can was to be opened until drop clothes were meticulously placed around all areas where a droplet of paint could possibly find the ground. With these precautionary measures in place and all shrubs and flowers trimmed or tied out of the way (insert whole other lesson plan here) it was now time to open the first can.

For the next several hours dad would show us how he wanted "us" to paint the house. As he would dip the brush into the paint and spread it onto the house he'd continue our education in proper technique by showing us over and over and over again how he wanted it done. Then the moment of truth would arrive, our 'graduation ceremony' as it were. Just before we passed out from boredom of watching him do what he wanted "us" to do he would hand over the brush or roller to one of us. You could see the clouds part and hear angels sing as this moment of greatness was thrust upon us. It was like a passing of the Holy Grail from the master to the pupil.

Now is when the tension would really mount. Would our hours of training pay off? Would we have truly learned the one and only, correct way? With the first stroke of the brush our skills and memory retention would be put to the test. Inevitably one of us would paint from left to right instead of the other way around and dad would spend the next hour on a refresher course to instill that we got it.

About this time my wise and crafty mom would come out and look at us to see how it was going. She would be greeted by our usual rolling of the eyes or a mock strangling of ourselves from the sheer frustration of watching dad all morning. She'd give us a wink or a smile and then find some pressing need for dad to come into the house to 'help' her, or if she was exceptionally cleaver that day she would get him to go up town for something. At this point my brothers and I would go into full commando mode, attacking the house from all possible directions. We would paint like Micheal Angelo on steroids. By the time dad would return we'd be well on our way to completion and he'd see that all his instructions had paid off.

This is pretty much how all the projects around our house went and after we had grown and knew how to do all the things he taught us, he took the roll of supervisor. We would later refer to him as Inspector 12. Dad's methods may have seemed excessive at the time, but I must admit it has made me one heck of a detailed oriented contractor today. He taught me valuable lessons such as taking pride in craftsmanship and working hard, both of which I find the general workforce to fail miserably at today. There were times when I though I was going to lose my mind from his comprehensive instructions, but I wouldn't trade them in now for anything. Thanks dad for taking the time, sometimes lots of time, to show me how to accomplish anything!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What is it #1- Solved

You all are too cleaver. I'll have to get a bit more creative if I'm going to stump this bunch. As many of you guessed its the front window of my truck as I was taking it through the car wash (or is that truck wash?) Anyway there were some interesting guesses as well. Such as a beer glass, toilet bowl, fishing buoy, sea foam, spray foam and our dear friend Matt-Man even shared some of his culture with us.

I'd like to offer up something new but for now I'm in a couple days of idle blog activity. I've got back to back to back jobs happening and I'm quite frankly beat. Trust me, this is not a complaint mind you. As a contractor when I'm this busy in the Winter it's a great thing. The next couple of days should be a bit shorter so I should have something of more substance to offer up. If that doesn't produce the desired effect, the family and I are taking public transportation into Portland over the weekend so I know I'll have plenty to write about after that.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What Is It?

Would anyone care to take a guess?

Monday, December 10, 2007

My Poor Ears

I haven't heard it yet but I know it's coming. For some reason each and every year about this time that sound of fingernails on a chalkboard is broadcast over the television airwaves. Although I refuse to watch the entire presentation, I will be subjected to the ear piercing opening song every so often by way of a TV commercial. What is this noise that's reminiscent of a cat's yowl when its tail gets caught by a lawn mower blade? It's Julie Andrews bellowing out 'The hills are alive with "The Sound of Music".

Just the thought of hearing this again makes me want to take a pair of knitting needles and jamb them into my ears. Arrrgh! Yes, blown out ear drums with blood dripping down my neck would be better than having to listen to that siren of the underworld again.

Is the rest of the movie good? I'll never know. Just the mere possibility that the opening song would be replayed somewhere else during the show is enough to keep me at bay. Have I mentioned how much I don't like that song?

I don't have anything against Julie's accomplishments as an actress. She's been in numerous movies that I've enjoyed over the years, but "The Sound of Music" otherwise known as "The Sound of Satan Calling His Demons Home" isn't one of them.

Perhaps they could do a remake of this so called classic and call it "The Sound of Silence". Now that would be worth not listening to!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Can You Hear Me Now?

"Are we receiving a clear signal or
is it being distorted through the fog?"

How well do we communicate through the blog sphere?

As I read through different posts I find all of my emotions surface through the words that have been typed into the authors post. Sometimes I'm in stitches because of the cleaver humor, sometimes I'm in tears because of the pain and emotion that's poured out. Great moments of contemplation come from those who write from a philosophical perspective while anger comes out from an occasional post.

I wonder about the comments or lack there of, that come through the various sites. Are they always honest evaluations of what was written?

Do some leave comments with the sole point of increasing traffic on their own site?

If you disagree with the author are you willing to leave a comment that honestly reflects your point of view and how do you feel about comments on your blog that are not positive?

As far as I'm concerned I'll allow any comment to stand on this blog as long it isn't filled with excessive vulgarity or hatred. I try to respond to all the comments that are left even if it's a simple thanks and when I visit other sites I'll leave a comment when I've found something that resonates with me whether I agree with the author or not.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Merry Ebonic Christmas

In December 1996, the Oakland (California) Unified School District ignited a national controversy over the use of Ebonics in the classroom. There was quite the heated debated between the white and black communities and many African-Americans were mixed on the issue as well.

On one side of the argument you had people claiming that Ebonics (ebony and phonics) was and is a language derived from both ancestry and culture. They continued by insisting that it be part of the educational format so that black students who were struggling due to a language barrier would have a better chance of success in school.

On the flip side many people argued that by incorporating this 'slang' into the classroom it would actually impede these children's understanding of the English language. There were many in the black community who felt by allowing the use of Ebonics by the school system that it was 'dumbing down' their race.

I personally thought this was one of the most idiotic things I'd ever heard of. To me this was not a matter of race or even of trying to preserve a culture's roots. It was just another special interest group that felt the need to syphon more tax dollars out of the already economically challenged school system.

I had just been thinking about the classic 'Twas The Night Before Christmas' tale when the whole Ebonics bombshell dropped. What would this sound like I wondered? So out of immediate inspiration I wrote the following:

"Merry Ebonic Christmas"
Twas da night befo crismus an all tru da crib
Not no critter was stirrin' not even no pig
Da socks was dun hung from da chimney wit care
In hopes dat my Home Boy Clause soon would be dare
Da chiles was be nestled all snug in dey beds
Wit visions o chitlins dancin in dey heads
Da ole' lady in her jerry curls an me in my cap
We had just chilled out fo a long wintas nap
When out on da lawn dey rose such a clatta
I jumped to my feets to see wuz up da matta
Ova to da windo I dun flu like a flash
Bus open da shutta an trowed out da hash
Da moon on da pile a da new yellow snow
Gave da lusta dat da dog had just ben below
When what to my bloodshot eyes dun did appear
But a '76 Caddi an eight tiny deer
Wit a little ole' driver so crusty an lost
I dun knowed it mus be dat Home Boy yo Clause
Mo rapid dan eagles his deers dey dun came
An he spit out his chaw an den call dem by name
Now Leroy now Tyrone now Tisha an Ester
On Bubba on Kunta on Wilma an Lester
To da top o da poach wit yo hands on da wall
Else I bus a cap off in all a ya'll
So up to da roof does deers day dun flu
Cause dey was high on some crack an my Home Boy was too
An den wit a thud I dun heared up on top a my shanny
Laughter from deers as dat Home Boy fell onto his fanny
As I dun started to chuckle myself
Right down tru da chimney came dis big ole' fat elf
Still dressed in his orange jump suit from his head to his foot
His clothes dum did matched his face now cause a da soot
Wit a bundle a radios dun hung from his back
He look just like a thief openin dat sack
He dun had a butt ugly face an a big ole' fat belly
Dat jiggled an shook like some nasty ass jelly
Not no word he dun speaked but went straight to his work
Stole all our stuff off dat big stinkin jerk
Den he dun sticked his finger right up in his nose
An flicked out a bugger as away he done goes
He jumped in his Caddy an to da deers he dun shout
Lets get down da road befo da cops dun fine out
But I dun heared him say as he drove out a da getto
Merry Ebonic Christmas to all a ya all and to all of ya Yo!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Houston...We Have a Problem

NASA announced today that it was postponing the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis due to a problem with the fuel gauge. Now I'm no rocket scientist but come on, how important is this piece of equipment? Don't they fill those babies up before take off? It's not like one of the astronauts takes it down to the local Kwik Fill, looks in his wallet and says, "Hey buddy, I'm running a little short today so just put in five bucks worth OK?"

I also have a feeling mission control knows how much fuel it's going to take to get them to the space station and back again. Of course the crew could decide to go for a joy ride around the moon a couple of times, look down and realize the idiot light has just come on. I can hear the captain now, "Hey guys, keep your eyes open for a gas station cause' we're about out. Oh, and let's make sure we hit one on the right too. Making a left this time of day can be a real bitch!"

Alright I'm sure the gauge has a very intricate and vital function to the overall performance and safety the the entire flight, but ever since the dreaded seven hundred dollar toilet seat debacle I always feel a need to question just what is and isn't necessary when it comes to the government spending my money.

Do you ever wonder what kind of mileage those birds get? I doubt there's an estimated MPG sticker on the window when you pick one of them up from the new space shuttle lot. Maybe they could come up with a hybrid model. The initial lift off would use high octane rocket juice but after it cleared the atmosphere it would cruise on an alternative source like used McDonald's fry oil. Ah yes, the entire cosmos could then enjoy the smell of french fries emanating from its exhaust. If that doesn't bring the little green men from Mars to our planet nothing will.

I could be onto something here. We could lure all the aliens to our planet via this little plan, watch them pork out on Big Macs and Happy Meals then waddle back to their piece of the galaxy. They'd be so fat and lazy they wouldn't have the energy to invade us. WE COULD RULE THE UNIVERSE!...Muwahaha (said with a sinister tone).

Oh, the possibilities.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

This Watch

And now for something completely different. This is my first attempt at writing a short story. Hope you enjoy it.

As the tall lanky man approached she carefully prepared her brush off. "I just simply won't make eye contact" she thought, "That's it, if I don't look at him then he'll just pass on by."

Too late, he'd already spotted her. "Ma'am before you say no would you consider saying yes?"

Somehow this was not the typical 'Can you spare some change?' she'd grown accustomed to hearing on this particular stretch of sidewalk.

"Yes to what?" she found herself saying.

"To helping me with this watch" he replied.

He reached into his tattered denim jacket and pulled out a vintage time piece. Even from a distance of a few feet she could tell this was no ordinary pocket watch. From its hand crafted gold exterior to the mother of pearl face, no amount of detail was overlooked. Upon closer inspection she found beautiful precision cut diamonds highlighting the three, six, nine and twelve o'clock markers.

It glistened as if it had just been taken out of a fifth avenue jewelers case. Quite the contrast to the unshaven vagabond standing in front of her.

"Are you sure this is your watch? I don't mean to insult, but you couldn't possibly afford something of this caliber."

"You're absolutely right ma'am, I could never dream of buying something this nice anymore and you're also right about it not being mine."

'Ah ha' she thought, 'just as I suspected, it's stolen.'

"Um, where did you get it then?"

Seeing her raised eyebrows he quickly said, "I know what you're thinking and I can assure you it's not stolen."

"I, uh, well that's not what I, well, where did you get it?" she stammered.

"My grandfather originally owned it" he began, "then he passed it on to my father who in turn gave it to me. I held onto it for some twenty-nine years before my son was at the age where he would become its next guardian."

"Where's your son now?" the woman asked "Why doesn't he still have it?"

"If you must know, about fourteen years ago we were driving home from a fishing trip when a driver missed a stop sign and hit our car on the side where my boy was sitting."

She could see the moisture building behind his eyes as he unfolded the story of his loss.

"Surprisingly, I was barely scratched. Brian wasn't as lucky though. I looked over and could tell right away it wasn't good. His legs were pinned under the crumpled dashboard and a mixture of blood and glass littered the seat around him. I sat there holding his hand for what I hoped would be a lifetime, but it seemed to pass in just a few minutes."

"We shared a couple of quick stories and told each other how much we loved one another. All the while we both cried, not from the pain of our injuries, but from the impending separation we would soon face."

"Just before he slipped away he reached into his pocket and pulled out this watch I had given to him only a couple of short months earlier. 'Dad' he whispered, 'I want you to keep this watch and when you look at it you can remember all the good times we had'."

"Then he was gone."

By this time the two people who were just strangers on the street a moment ago now held each others hand as the tears flowed down their cheeks.

"The grief was too much for my wife" he went on, "and she left our home, or what remained of it a few months later. I still blame myself for what took place that day. You see, it was my idea for Brian to skip school and go fishing with me. Had I have gone by myself, none of this would have ever happened. Then I Guess after a while I didn't see much point in staying in that big ole' empty house by myself anymore so I just left. It's been quite a few years I've been out here now but don't worry about me, I'll make it OK. There's just one thing I need."

"That's what brings me to why I stopped you in the first place. You see, this watch has been acting up lately. It's been loosing a couple of minutes each day. I've already lost too much time with my son and I'm afraid if it stops my memories of him might stop with it. So, if you would ma'am, could you spare some change so I can get it working right again?"

Carolyn didn't make it to work on time that day, but she and her new friend did make it to the jewelers where for thirty-nine dollars she got what hundreds or even thousands couldn't have come close to purchasing, hope for a tired old man.

She walked that same route to work each day for several more years but never saw the man whose story changed her that cold Autumn day. She did however, see many more men and women who fit the same physical description, (cold, tired and hungry) of that lonely traveler. Now as she passed by each of them, she no longer looked the other way. She instead, looked into their eyes and wondered what untold story they held onto that had brought them to this lonely place.

We may never know what brings people to such low places in their life, but we can be assured that our wealth will only truly be measured by how much we invest in others.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Goodness, Gracious

He's at it again. Roger over at Idaho Daily Photo has created another customized set of hangers. Now you may be familiar with the Secret Service men and women who are willing to take a bullet for the president, but this guy actually gave me his balls! Talk about above and beyond the call of duty.

I'd like to think receiving a gift of this caliber makes me special, but it would appear Roger is just a very giving guy. His balls are popping up everywhere. I know he's let Odat hold a few of them and I've seen Matt proudly displaying one as well.
Suffice to say Roger has a lot of balls, so if you'd like to see the rest of his package head over to his site and hang out with him. While you're there make sure you say hi to Ol' Tex too.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Tipping - It's Not a City in China

After ordering a plain coffee without any frufru extras and shelling out a $1.85 for it I looked down and noticed a sad little tip jar starring back at me. It's the very same one that's there each time I visit and like most other times it has a couple of dollar bills and a sampling of coins in it. So what do I do now? I can drop my remaining fifteen cents in and make it an even two bucks this trip or I can pocket it and be about 12% towards my next cup.

Well at this point you may be saying, "Who cares, It's only $0.15" Alright granted we're talking about an insignificant amount of money here, but that's not the point at all. The fact that there's a tip jar there in the first place is what gets me. Am I to assume by leaving a tip today that on my next visit I might expect to receive my java in a fancy imported paper cup? Perhaps upon hearing the coins drop into the offering jar the young girl on the other side of the counter will pick up my cup and whisk it off to my truck then gently place it into the center console cup holder.

No, I don't really expect either of those things to happen. I do wonder though, why so many people expect a tip for simply doing their job. Isn't doing your job what you get paid for?

What about service industry jobs such as waiting tables? By all means, I fully expect to leave an adequate tip provided I receive more than, "Hi, here's your food and here's your bill." Trust me this I understand because I was in the restaurant biz for many years. It used to frost my shorts when the waiters would complain about not getting enough money from the customers. Almost every time, and I stress the word almost, this happened it was because the waiter wasn't doing anything above the normal 'job requirement'. The exception to this was the occasional cheap SOB customer who would stiff them no matter how pleasant they were to them.

This makes me think of something I learned from my mom (no, not the SOB part). On a few occasions I've seen her leave the waiter a small tip, but then call the busboy over and give him a much better tip. She does this when it's the busboy who's busting his backside setting the tables, filling waters and coffee, clearing the dirty dishes... and still manages to be pleasant and the waiter simply takes the order and brings the bill. If you've never done this it's amazing to watch their eyes (busboy's) light up with that 'somebody gives a rip' look.

OK, back to my original gripe. Why does everyone expect a tip these days? Maybe it's because the companies they're working for aren't paying them enough. Sounds like a legitimate reason right? It does unless you consider that they knew what the job paid when they took it.

Take for instance the local take out pizza place. Now in this scenario I have called in my order, driven to their place to pick it up and paid for it. They have taken my order, made the pizza (sometimes it's even what I ordered) and taken my money. That's pretty much all there is to take out pizza. Not a lot of room here for extraordinary customer service, but low and behold when I get there, once again I'm greeted with that wonderful little tip jar. Not paying with cash? Don't worry that's covered too, at the bottom of the debit card receipt is a line to add a tip. Not leaving a tip here is generally greeted with a 'you dirty dog, now I can't buy my school books look'. Nothing like Pizza with a side order of guilt! Ummm...Tasty.

At this point it may sound like I'm a real Scrooge. I'm really not. I mean I do feel compelled to buy Girl Scout Cookies or candy from the Boy Scouts when they hit me with their sales pitch at the supermarket and I've also bought my fair share of wrapping paper and magazine subscriptions for various school fundraisers. So no, I don't think I'm a complete tightwad, I just get tired of tipping out of obligation to everyone in the retail sector.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Digital Service

Things you don't want to hear from your Proctologist.

  1. Guess what? You're my very first patient.
  2. Now open wide and say, "aaah"
  3. Shoot na, I dun grad-e-nated from one a dem Vetnar..Veteranair...Dog & Cat Colleges.
  4. Oops, my bad.
  5. Sorry, I'm all out of lubricant.
  6. Nurse, if this is the oral thermometer then who got the ...ut o.
  7. That's not my finger.
  8. What beautiful brown eye you have.
  9. Have you seen my wedding ring?
  10. Ta Daaa.....
  11. Don't you just hate hangnails?
  12. Oh all of Them? They're here on my sons 4th grade class field trip.
  13. Whew, I feel like a cigarette.
  14. Mind if I snap a photo for my scrapbook?
  15. My daddy was a plumber too.
  16. Nurse, please schedule a follow-up exam for tomorrow.
  17. Wow it's dark in here.
  18. Hello..Hello...Hello
  19. Now how did that get in there?
  20. Crap!
  21. Nurse, hand me that scraper please.

Did you hear about the guy that was tailgating the Proctologist?