Memorably Invisible

Ghost

My belief, which I have occasionally stated, is that I am a loner with few friends, because I don’t reach out to make them. My view of the arc of my working life, especially the final 20 years, spent at the auto-parts plant, is a tapestry of – keep my head down, my mouth shut, do the job, don’t make waves, be quiet, small, and unnoticed.  I may have to revisit and re-evaluate that.

Three times, in as many months, I’ve been with the wife in a store, and someone with less seniority, who got laid off before me, someone who hasn’t seen me in over ten years, has recognized and remembered me, and approached, just to pass the time. The last time, a man saw me, and not-quite-jogged across half a Wal-Mart to engage in small talk – no “Remember when you taught me the easy way to do that hard job?” or, “Remember that asshole supervisor?” just….conversation.  I had to insist on continuing our errands after 10 minutes.

When we got home, the wife said, “You know, those people really like and respect you. They’re happy to be in your presence, and proud that you take the time just to talk to them.  It’s as if you emit a soft, warm glow of benediction.”  Who knew you could get friends just by not being an asshole??  Apparently I had ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ even before I had a blog.

Neither she nor I is a Trump, or a Kardashian, but I guess we’re not timid wallflowers either. Our new Osteopath is forever shaking his head and chuckling at our strange humor, our oblique viewpoints, and our widely based social and political opinions.  Plus, I take him strange shit to look at – a sword, a legal two-headed coin, an American 2-dollar bill.  He says he has no other couple anything like us, especially at our age.

The staff at the nearby Staples store is happy, friendly and helpful to us, willing to kid around, as they professionally solve our problems. Of course, as a service industry, they have to be like that with everyone, but with a PC, a laptop, a 7 in. tablet, a 5 in. tablet, two Kobos, a Kindle and a cell phone, they are exposed to us more than I really want.  (As I typed this, the wife’s cordless mouse died.)

We have joked with the female assistant manager for more than ten years. As a good retailer, she knows her customers.  The wife’s last laptop fried its graphics card.  We had to go in and choose another laptop.  We left it with them for formatting and setup – Windows 10 was released that day – and came back later to pick it up.

The wait, both times, at the Electronics Desk, was 10 to 15 minutes. The wife’s arthritis makes just standing quite painful.  Our gal quickly slipped back to the office chairs section, grabbed the expensive new OBUSFORME support model, wheeled it up and slid it under the wife.  Then she realized that the wife wasn’t using the ironwood cane she normally has, and wanted to know why it had been replaced by a forearm crutch.

The wife told her that it takes more weight off her feet; it reminds her not to overextend her right knee, and permits less stumbling. The manageress swooped her arm up, and said, “At the end of the year, can you throw it in the air, and shout ‘Happy Christmas, and God bless us every one’!”?  If the wife hadn’t been sitting down, she’d have been on the floor with me.  The gal says, we’re the only couple she knows who would get that joke – in July – think it was funny, and not be offended by it.

The day we went back, she was on break, so I got the good chair for the wife. When she came out, the wife yelled, “Hey, Sandy!” and pretended to throw the crutch.  We all howled, except the young tech, who didn’t get the joke.  Suddenly she rushed over, solicitously.  Since she hadn’t got the office chair, she was afraid the wife was in a wheelchair.  “Are you all right?  Did you fall?”

I guess, unlike many people, we don’t have flocks of folks we just have to be connected to.  We don’t have BFFs.  They say a friend will help you move.  A good friend will help you move – a body.  I should keep that in mind.   It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.  Mister Rogers won’t be in the neighborhood for five to ten years.  Would you be my friend?  ;)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRAINRANTS!

Birthday Cake

I sent BrainRants a birthday present!

From comments on previous years’ posts, I knew that BrainRants’ birthday was some time late in January. Using stalker senses honed by sticking my nose into Cordelia’s Mom’s business, I found a link to the employment consultant who was aiding him in obtaining suitable civilian employment.

She’s a lovely lady. Wanting to surprise Rants, I sent her a package, along with a note, asking if she could discreetly forward it to Mrs. BrainRants.  No black helicopters came winging north over the border, only an email saying, “Can do, and did!”

Rants’ new bride doesn’t know me from Santa Claus.  Inside the shipping envelope I included another note, asking if she could hand him the final package on the fateful day.  She obviously knows of his blogging, and coterie of blog-friends.

Perhaps the arrival of strange bundles, delivered in odd ways, isn’t all that unusual. All I know is that the FBI didn’t ask the RCMP to stop around and ask some pointed questions.

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During my ongoing housecleaning, I realised that I possessed two commemorative medallions, one bronze, the other aluminum, honoring astronauts, and the Apollo 11 and 12, 1960s Moon Missions. Knowing of Rants’ interest in science, NASA and the moon, I wondered if he might have any interest in them.

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I included a shield-shaped Canada shoulder patch which I picked up the day I went to photograph the tank and Spitfire.  I doubt that he has uniforms anymore.  The army made him turn all his stuff in.  He would only wear one for a special occasion, and the Maple Leaf patch would not be allowed because it is non-regulation.

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No cost was spared when I packaged his coins in the Costco box I received my membership-renewal Christmas gift card in.

While not ‘strange’, my plan was unexpected and unannounced. Mrs. Rants was apparently willing to go along with it.  She sneaked out an email to confirm that she had received his gift, and presented it to him.  I received another, from him, thanking me for my little piece of thoughtfulness.

This sending of physical packages and actual printed letters seems almost outdated in today’s electronic society. I couldn’t use a drone, because the DC area is a no-fly zone.  Somebody, perhaps Rants himself, would have shot it down.

If you haven’t already, drop in to his site, wish him a Happy Belated Birthday, and really make him feel old. I had hoped that another gift might be the ability to announce that he has secured gainful and productive employment.  We waited – but none of us as hard as him, and now everyone’s wish has been granted.  He scored a job – cube-drone trainee, working under Dilbert.  Still got the training wheels on. Good Luck, Rants, and thanx.  :cool:

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The presents, as they sit proudly in Rants’ house, at an undisclosed location in the Eastern USA.   :lol:

 

Flash Fiction #83

Lotus

PHOTO PROMPT © Erin Leary

TOO CLOSE ENCOUNTERS

No-one knew what the odd little posts in the Lotus Lagoon were for, or even how they’d got there. They just seemed to appear one day.

Late one night about a week ago, I was walking home from the bar and a strange, silent, glowing airplane without wings swooped out of the night sky and settled onto the pilings. A ramp dropped down, and two squid-like things waddled into the water.  Then it rose soundlessly and disappeared into the dark heavens….

I KNOW what I saw!  Take this strait-jacket off, and let me out of here!  I can prove it.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Reading Challenge

I just want to make it perfectly clear. I may – or I may not – participate in and/or successfully complete the 2016 Reading Challenge, shown below.  Since reading is always good for you, I suggest you consider trying it.  Next year, I may or may not tell you how I did.  For now, I’ll tell you how it would have turned out, applied to 2015.

Reading challenge

A book published this year

Since the year is still very young, I’ll list ‘The Fold’, an alternate dimension Sci-Fi by Peter Clines. It was released late in July/15.  I received it from the Library on January 3/16, and returned it on January 7/16 because there was another person with a reservation against it, waiting to read.

A book you can finish in one day

‘Refuting Evolution’ was only 132 pages. I could have finished it in a day, but since I often read three books at a time, I didn’t.  As a tween, pre-television, I once took out two Hardy Boys mystery books from the library at 7:00 PM, and had one of them finished by 9:00.

A book you’ve been meaning to read

At any given time, I have 20+ books ahead of me. I (eventually) mean to read them all.  I read one book by Faye Kellerman, but possess a hard-cover book by her husband Jonathan Kellerman, which I’ve had for almost 15 years.  Maybe I’ll get around to it this year.

A book recommended by your librarian or book seller

Both my regular book-lady at the market, and librarians, see my eclectic choices and know better than to suggest anything. Book-lady just makes me aware if any books from my preferred-authors list have come in.

A book you should have read in school

I read them all in school. I had my 6 yearly book reports in by the end of September.  I read sections of English Lit texts that weren’t even assigned.

A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child or BFF

Nobody chooses for me.  I inherit the occasional book from the son’s overflowing library.  Ted @ SightsNBytes told me about the ‘Repairman Jack’ series.  Jim Wheeler recommended ‘A World Lit Only By Fire’.  BrainRants suggested ‘Guns, Germs And Steel’, which I am currently reading, now that the Library finally notified me that it was ready to pick up.

A book published before you were born

Are you kidding?? I have an autographed, first-edition of The Ten Commandments.  In 2015 I read ‘Malleus Maleficarum’, and ‘Cymbalum Mundi’, both written around 1500.  I own The Collected Stories of Sherlock Holmes, from the 1880s.  In 2014 I borrowed ‘The Bible Unmasked’ from a local university library.  The hardback was dated 1906.  I have 1960s, paperback copies of Ralph Milne Farley’s ‘Radio Planet’, written in 1914, and the original Buck Rogers novel, published as a serial in 1918.

It is possible, though not likely, that another such old book may arise in 2016, but I’m not going out of my way, just to fill an online quota.

A book that was banned at some point

Banned where? Boston?  USA?  Iran?  I read books which hold relevant interest for me.  Lady Chatterley’s Lover and The Satanic Verses just don’t do it.  See ‘Quota’ above.

A book you previously abandoned

Again with the kidding! Any book I choose must hold at least some value.  Even if I find I’ve chosen poorly, I slog through to the end.  The only book I’ve ever abandoned, unfinished, was L. Ron Hubbard’s ‘Dianetics.’  After a month, still not done, I said, Fun’s fun – but this ain’t it.  He didn’t take it seriously, why should I?

A book you own but never read

I hereby solemnly swear to finally read Jonathan Kellerman’s 2001 hardback, ‘Flesh And Blood’ this year – probably around June. Take me to task if it doesn’t show up on next January’s list.

A book that intimidates you

The 1200 page size of ‘Hell’s Gate’ was a bit intimidating, but I stuck with it to the end. Both ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ and ‘Cymbalum Mundi’ were written in Bible-style English.  ‘Mundi’ was also allegorical, and almost indecipherable.  My thanx to the female scholar who added pages of notes to explain.  Manchester’s ‘World’ was dense.  If I can understand them, they don’t intimidate me.  If I feel I won’t understand, I simply don’t read.

A book you’ve already read

It would have to be science fiction. All other books are traded in for newer ones.  With so many ahead of me, I seldom go back.  In 2015, I reread Heinlein’s ‘The Door Into Summer.’  I may pull out a couple more this year.  I’m considering downloading a $2 Kindle version of ‘The Dark Light Years’, by Brian W. Aldiss.  It’s easier than digging into the storage area under the basement stairs.

I’ve got a shitty memory, but I don’t understand those who reread, and re-reread books.  Like the neighbor who boasted that he’d seen ‘Titanic’ 8 times – the boat sinks, everybody drowns, the hero ain’t gonna make it this time.  Didn’t you get it the first time?

Read me! Then go out and read something else – and tell us about it.

Rhyme Time

Rhyme

This guy has four daughters who all live at home.
One Friday night the doorbell rings. The guy
answers it and a kid standing there says ‘Hi, I’m
Freddy. I’m here to pick up Betty. We’re gonna go
eat spaghetti. Is she ready?’

The man, mildly amused calls down his daughter
and the two leave.

A few minutes later the doorbell rings again and
he answers. A kid standing there says ‘Hi, I’m
Jim. I’m here to see Kim. We’re gonna go for a
swim. Can I come in?’

The guy, now perplexed, says yes and the two take off.

A few minutes later the doorbell rings and again
the father answers. A kid standing there says
‘Hi, I’m Joe. I’m here to pick up Flo. We’re
gonna go to the show. Can she go?’

The man, now kind of annoyed, says yes and the two depart.

Sure enough, a few minutes later the door rings
and the father answers. A kid standing there
says ‘Hi, I’m Chuck..’

The father shot him.

***

A young fellow was about to be married and was
asking his grandfather about sex. He asked how
often you should have it. His grandfather told
him that when you first get married, you want
it all the time…and maybe do it several times a day.

Later on, sex tapers off and you have it once a
week or so. Then as you get older, you have sex
maybe once a month. When you get really old, you
are lucky to have it once a year…..maybe on
your anniversary.

The young fellow then asked his grandfather, “Well
how about you and Grandma now?” His grandfather
replied, “Oh, we just have oral sex now.”

“What’s oral sex?” the young fellow asked. “Well,”
Grandpa said, “She goes to bed in her bedroom, and
I go to bed in my bedroom. And she yells, ‘Fuck You!!!!!’
and I holler back, “Fuck You too.”

***

Gun control means using both hands!

***

A man is driving home late one afternoon, and he
is driving above the speed limit. He notices a
police car with its red lights on in his rear-view
mirror. He thinks “I can out-run this guy,” so he
floors it and the race is on.

The cars are racing down the highway – 60, 70,
80, 90 miles an hour. Finally, as his
speedometer passes 100, the guy figures ‘what
the hell'” and gives up.

He pulls over to the curb. The police officer
gets out of his cruiser and approaches the car.
He leans down and says, “Listen mister, I’ve
had a really lousy day, and I just want to go
home. Give me a good excuse and I will let you
go!”

The man thinks for a moment and says…”Three
weeks ago my wife ran off with a police officer.
When I saw your cruiser in my rear view mirror, I
thought you were that officer and you were trying
to give her back.”

***

 

Flash Fiction #82

Sandbox

PHOTO PROMPT – © ceayr

SANDBOX

We put the gate up because people steal sand. We came home one day, to truck tracks across the lawn, and a hole in our beach.

The Sahara has lots of sand, but it’s the wrong kind, and it’s too far to ship. Sand to make glass needs lots of silica.  Saudi Arabia imports it.

The sand people steal is to make concrete for construction. We even had a small ship in our cove with a suction hose.  What used to be a shallow bottom is now deep and stony.  We called the Coast Guard, but they didn’t catch them.

***

While theft of sand may seem strange, it’s actually quite common, especially along California’s coast, and on the Hawaiian Islands. The pressure of providing for more and more development is fierce.  Dump-trucks with a bulldozer in tow remove tons of sand from popular beaches.  Sucker ships destroy the bottoms of small bays.  Subsequent erosion threatens the concrete supports of decks of beachfront homes.  Play in the sandbox is getting rough.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Everything Ended Perfectly

Aghast

For any of my readers who might be in the Southern Ontario region – I suggest you take a few steps back for a couple of weeks. If the Karma Balancing Equation is correct, my house should get struck by a medium-sized meteor soon.

All 3 puppies

Daughter LadyRyl recently got to go for her first plane trip. The crazy cat lady also breeds Chihuahuas.   The daughter has been fostering a female for her, and recently oversaw the delivery of four cute little puppies.

She has had a long-distance friend for almost 18 years – almost since before there was an Internet. She Facebooked photos, and Skyped with the friend, showing off the wee dogs.  They’ve often spoken about getting together, but they’re 500 miles apart.

Alug & Tara

Alug (a look), with Tara, new, much older sister

The friend was entranced by one little male, and decided to add him to her menagerie – then her 7 kids would have 7 pets. Ryl decided that the time had come, and offered to deliver him by hand.  The friend lives a 2-hour drive east of Thunder Bay, ON, and offered to pick her up there and house her for five days.

She has blogged about the flight up, and plans to detail her stay. If you haven’t already, you might link over and have a look.  She had a wonderful visit, although, halfway through, the new main bridge on the Trans-Canada Highway,  between her and the airport, popped a rivet and got a bit bent out of shape.  Crews had it at least usable by the time she left.

Nipigon Bridge

She paid for her own flight. Cat-lady offered to drive her to and from the Toronto airport.  It’s the least she could do.  She’d have had to drive down once, and pay to have the dog shipped, whereas, the daughter took the puppy as carry-on luggage.

It’s a two hour flight home, and it’s a two hour drive from the cat-lady’s home. Just as daughter was getting ready to board her plane, cat-lady texted her.  The storm that was blowing down from the north had reached her.  She got to the highway, and visibility was ZERO.

We got a desperate text. Was our weather still clear??  Could we pick her up at the airport??  Of course!  Where and when?

I’ve been past the Toronto Airport, but never actually entered.  We got some things ready and took off.  Obscured lane markings and a bit of blowing snow made the trip a little longer than the usual one hour.  So did the fact that I left the highway one ramp too soon, driving up the airport’s ass-end, across the top, and back down, coming at the entrance from the wrong direction.

Pulling in off the street, I was suddenly on a Disneyworld ride – roads and ramps and bumper cars, oh my. In the dark!  In a snowstorm!  Where’s the signs?  Where’s the parking.  If I’m not careful, I’ll drive to Disneyworld, rather than fly there!

I followed a previous suggestion, made by the son. He describes it as Zen driving.  Find a car that looks like it knows where you’re going, and follow it.  Those two that just cut me off – they look like they’re going to pick someone up.  Sure enough, they both pull up a poorly marked ramp, and lead me into a parking garage.

Soon, I’m in a handicap spot, ten feet from an entrance. This opens to an overhead concourse, where we can look down on (in both senses) the chaos at the main entrance.  The daughter texted that she was landing, and that her plane would be a D-Gate #111.  Her one checked bag would unload at baggage carousel #9.

As we enter, signs say that Gates A – C are waayyy down there.  Gate D is right around this corner, an easy hobble for the wife and her two crutches.  However, carousel 9 is two football fields away.  With no seating on the upper level, we go down the escalator and take seats beside carousel 1.

Another text tells us that daughter’s plane was 10 minutes early, and the plane at ramp #111 is 10 minutes late leaving. They will unload onto the tarmac, and send luggage to carousel 1, since it’s the closest.

Soon, an airport employee delivers daughter and her carry-ons, in a wheelchair. We grab her checked bag and head for the car.  All done in just under an hour, we pay the outrageous $10 parking fee, and quickly hit Highway 401.

A bit more snow on the way home, a bit less wind drifting.  Traffic moves smoothly.  We’re home safely in an hour.  Where’s the snotty GPS?  Where’s the bumper-to-bumper traffic?  Where’s the getting lost and having to stop and ask some rag-head for directions?  Where’s something to rant about?  Karma’s up to something!  I’ll probably get lost going to the supermarket, but, Everything Ended Perfectly!  :D