Gratitude

To show their gratitude for our providing them with decorated Christmas cookies and fruitcake for their family Christmas breakfast, our Chiropractor and his family send us home with an over-abundance of lovely gifts.  One we’ve appreciated for several years is a gift certificate for a local Chinese buffet restaurant, simply named “Kings.”  There is another chain restaurant named “Mandarin”, but the range of choices and quality of food is about the same, only the price is 50% higher.

Husband, son, daughter, grandson – the birthdays all crash down like that Russian meteor, Sept. 21, Oct. 1, Oct. 3, Oct. 6.  We barely catch our breath from blowing out one set of candles, when it starts all over again.  The wife’s birthday is on Feb. 19.  It gives us time to save up our pennies, the ones that are now officially out of circulation.  The four adults do the work on the cookies, so we use the gift certificate to pay ourselves back.  The grandson and his fiancée are old enough to develop their own plans, so the rest of us have an evening out.

Ontario has established a new statutory holiday.  The third Monday in February is now, Family Day.  This year it fell on the 18th.  If we were to go out on a Saturday or Sunday, the prices for the same food are 25% higher, and the crowds are thick.  Had we gone out on the Monday, the prices are better, but the place would still be packed.  We waited till the wife’s birthday on Tuesday.

We don’t tell anyone at the restaurant that it is.  If you’re foolish enough to do that, you get – Clap, Clap – It’s your – Clap, Clap – Birthday – Clap, Clap – You’re real – Clap, Clap – Centered out – Clap, Clap.  You get a chocolate muffin with a candle, they stick a cardboard tiara on your head that makes the one from Burger King look real, and they take a Polaroid for future blackmail.  We did it last year when the son turned 40.  The wife says she’ll admit to it next year, when she turns 65.

Waiting to use the gift certificate till the middle of February serves several purposes.  The hustle-bustle and over-eating of the Christmas/New Year’s season is over.  The son is the only one with a job, but we all need a middle-of-the-winter holiday.  The weight-watch dieting has been back in force long enough to justify a “just-one-time” exemption.  It is the wife’s birthday, and she deserves one night where she doesn’t have to plan/cook a meal, and the daughter doesn’t get left, eating leftovers all alone, while the kids invade their favorite Starbucks for the evening.  It’s another evening like the ones we spent making cookies.  We enjoy a communal meal, laugh, talk, tell lies and jokes and catch up on each other’s lives.

While only able to afford to do this once or twice a year, we’ve developed a bit of a relationship with one white male server.  Even if we’re not seated in his section, he stops over to see us when we pop in.  The son was startled when he showed up at his shop one night, working through the temp agency.  Son was worried that he’d lost his job, but, while stressful, the reason was more prosaic.

Several of his friends had decided to go on a trip to Europe, or Nicaragua, or Newfoundland.  He wished to accompany them but didn’t have the funds for the fare, or the time off, so he signed up for a second job.  He got off work at ten at the restaurant, and went to the son’s shop for an 11 to 7 shift.  He did this for six weeks, to earn enough money….and the other guys couldn’t agree on where or when, and the trip fell apart.  Wisely, he invested it in a restaurant management course.

Our chiropractor has found out about my blogging, and has become a regular follower.  He goes down to his den in the basement, and gets on his computer before clients begin to arrive.  This post will be up early Tuesday morning, when wife, daughter and I have an 11 AM appointment.  I’m using it as another way of expressing the family’s gratitude for facilitating a most enjoyable evening out.  Good morning, Peter.  Let’s talk about comments.

How ‘bout the rest of you?  I’d show gratitude for some comments.

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Why I’m Proud To Be From Ontario (Or Not)

After a micro-surgeons’ conference in New York City, some of the leading surgeons were in the bar and, being drunk out of their faces, began to reminisce and brag about their accomplishments.

The first, a British surgeon explained:

“We had a chap caught in a printing press at a factory last year, and all that was left of him was his little finger.  Our team of surgeons constructed a new hand and built a new arm, engineered a new body, and ultimately, when he returned to the workforce, he was so efficient that he put five men out of work.”

That’s nothing, boasted the American surgeon:

“We had a worker trapped inside a nuclear reactor, and all that was left of him was hair.  We constructed a new skull, a new torso, and new limbs, and put him back in the workforce.  He is now so efficient, that he put thirty men out of work.”

Not to be outdone, the Ontario surgeon claimed:

“I was walking down the street one day, when a fart went by.  I took it to the hospital in a garbage bag, let it loose on the table, and we got to work.  First of all, we wrapped an asshole around it, built a butt onto it and attached a body to one end, and legs to the other.  Gradually it turned into Premier Dalton McGuinty, and he has now put the whole fucking Province out of work.”

Having thoroughly screwed things up, Daddy Dalton has now resigned, and taken his Golden Handshake with him.  It would be nice if I could have the entire Handshake, but one finger would suffice.  Goodbye, Asshole, you old fart!

Name That Occupation

Since I did a post about what’s in a name, I decided to do another about names, from a different perspective.  In my preoccupation with word meanings and etymology (history), I once made the unfounded claim that English surnames which ended in “er” were descriptions of what ancestors did for a living.  While mainly true, there are a few which aren’t.

Thayer (or Tayer) means descendant of an Anglo-Saxon lord named Theodoric.  He gave his name to the Thay (Tay) river in the south of Scotland, so a Thayer was anyone who lived within its catchment.  The name Newcomer, mostly shortened to Newcomb, is obvious.

Since few people are as fascinated with the language as I am, I am not surprised that folks often don’t know the history and meanings of words they (mis)use every day.  I am somewhat surprised that so few people know the origins of their family name.  When the census-takers for the Domesday Book came around in the late 11th century, what people did for a living often became their identification.

Language, spelling and technology drift have often concealed to modern folk, how their distant relatives made a buck….or a thruppence.  Baker and Fisher are still obvious.  A Bower bowed to his betters, because he was a general servant.  A Bowyer, on the other hand, was in the lord’s militia.  Bowman is the more modern equivalent, without the “er”.  While we’re playing with bows and arrows, Archer shot them, and (Jessica) Fletcher put the feathers on them.

A Walker walked/trod on soaking newly woven cloth, to felt (thicken) it.  A Turner ran a woodworking lathe.  A Parker maintained the lord’s park, and a Palmer had been a pilgrim to the Holy Land (palm trees).  Coopers originally fabricated small crates like pigeon coops, or chicken coops.  Later they specialized in cylinders with curved sides, and became barrel-makers.

Chandlers started by making/selling candles.  When sea-faring trade grew, ships required many candles, and those who provided them branched out to providing all things needed for ocean voyages, and the name Chandler came to mean “ship provisioner.”

People sometimes ask if a butler, buttles.  The king who ordered the Domesday census was French, and some English names came from French.  Originally, a butler was a “bouteillier”, the wine steward.  As the job expanded, he became a gentleman’s gentleman. Frankly, Rhett wouldn’t have given a damn.  That same linguistic drift has turned the likes of the Anglo-Saxon Farnsworth, into the frog Phaneuf.

At a meeting of the Kitchener council, some years ago, a suggestion was made that a particularly thorny problem be referred to Weaver, Tanner and Miller.  One of the dimmer lights on the council objected to letting “a bunch of tree-hugging artisans” have a look at private city business.  Someone had to explain that they were a well-known and respected consulting firm.  It’s just that their ancestors wove cloth, made leather, and ground grain, respectively.

Tanner’s cousin, Cordwainer, made specialty Cordovan leather, and like the Chandler expansion above, decided to make shoes from it.  A cordovaner became a shoe-maker named Cordwainer.  His partner, Cobbler, has almost as rare a name.

There are many occupation names which don’t end in “er.”  A Wright was someone who fabricated something; therefore the description is playwright, not playwrite.  Wrightson was his kid.  A wagon maker was a Wainwright, and Little Joe Cartwright made little carts.  Carter was the guy who was the medieval FedEx, making quick deliveries in his small, agile vehicle.

Like our neighbors, the Wrights, we Smiths produced things too.  I am happy that, as a minor writer and language-lover, I can describe myself as a wordsmith.  The family names Goldsmith and Silversmith came into being, but are reserved almost exclusively for Jews.  In direct opposition to the Chandlers, our job scale reduced until the only Smiths were the guys pounding on hot iron.

One reason the name Smith is so common is that every city, town and village, no matter how small, had a guy wielding Thor’s hammer.  Another reason is that semi-literate immigration officials, faced with a name with 27 consonants and no vowels, just put down SMITH.  An ethnic-Chinese co-worker, with a 17 letter Cambodian name, had a Customs official tell him, “Your name is long,” so he opened bank accounts and got a job under the name Long.

My name Smith came from the Anglicizing of Schmidt, but, before spelling rules became quite so rigid, Smidt, Smit, and Schmit also existed.  They all came from the Middle-German name Schmeid, which carried the connotation of heavy fabricator, a blacksmith rather than a shoemaker.  Not surprisingly, its partner, the German name Bender, means light fabricator.  The forebears of the actor Michael Fassbender were Master Fabricators.

What about you, my gentle readers?  Do you have, or do you know anyone with, an occupation name?  Have you ever thought about it?

 

There’s A Word For That

Aglet – the little plastic or metal thing that keeps the ends of shoelaces from unravelling.  English has a word for every object or action or thought.  Well, almost every.  Other languages and cultures have concepts that English doesn’t cover.  The Finns (the country, not the drunken Irish) are obsessed with familial relations.  English has aunts and uncles.  Finnish breaks them down to mother’s side or father’s, if they are mother’s, or father’s, sisters and brothers, or just married to them.  It runs to about 26 different words.  Who cares?  Other than Finns, obviously?

Males tend to excel at math and spatial relationships, while females do better with language and communication.  There will be no smart comments allowed when I admit that I have always been a linguiphile. (That’s a lover of language.)  I was able to read magazines before I turned 5, and my voracious print consumption gained me my greatest and best ability, one from which I have not garnered a nickel in my entire life.  I understand words, and know their exact meanings, and often how that occurred.

My daughter bought me a Words To Impress People, word-a-day calendar for Christmas.  It contained words like, dalliance, iconoclast, raconteur, ideologue, sacrilegious and abatement.  While interesting, it was no big deal.  I don’t need to impress people.  These words are in my normal vocabulary.  I’ve used them in my posts.  I hope some of you have looked up one or two you might not have known.

It wasn’t till I got to January 25th, that I hit one I didn’t know, or at least hadn’t run into – labanotation. (Oh dear, Spellcheck doesn’t like that one.)  I might have been able to pull it apart and figure it out on my own, but – there’s the definition.  It’s the nomenclature used to choreograph ballets, modern dance and other performances, so that dancers can follow the steps.  I can’t think why a classy, upscale guy like me didn’t know that one.

Words can be used for precision, gravitas or historical value.  As the late, great Benny Hill often said, “He was bent on seeing her, does not mean that the sight of her doubled him up.”  Some words are used instead of others for effect, to produce certain opinions and feelings.  I personally like the word *sonorous*, meaning to have a full, rich, impressive sound, for two interconnected reasons.  It resembles the word *snore*, and when I think of it, I get the mental image of any political assembly, half of them droning on, self-importantly, the other half snoozing.  😛

I try not to use text-speak or tweet-write.  I’ve posted WTF a couple of times, but I feel that anything more important than whether or not you had raisins in your oatmeal this morning, is worth more than 140 characters.  I’ve previously pointed out the difference between those who can read, and those who do read.  Sadly, I fear that many of those who don’t read, feel that they do, because of all the smart-phone thumbnastics they go through to feel connected.

LMFAO or YOLO is not going to get or keep a job for them.  I feel sorry for them because, with all their cute little abbreviations, their vocabulary will soon be down to 200 words.  They think they’re communicating, but actually they’re missing the broad complexities that the language is capable of.  😕

Now that I’m retarded retired, most of the sad, miscommunication I’m exposed to, comes from print, whether paper and ink, or digital.  I’ll continue to rant about crossword puzzle makers’ casual ignorance of precise meanings.  Bring – and fetch.  Bring means that you have it, and carry it to me.  Fetch means you don’t have it, but must go to get it before bringing it to me.  Tiny details that prevent you from being wrong, and looking the fool.

I ranted to myself about, should = must, yesterday.  I should study for a test tomorrow, rather than going to see the movie, A Good Day To Die Hard.  I must answer to several people for the poor mark I will get on the exam.

A misuse of names affects the son and his employer.  I have never been approached by someone who did not possess American, State licence plates, or regional accents, for the location of a particular, much-mispronounced city street.  The famous composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, has an English name, with two B’s, and six letters, pronounced “Webb-Brr.”  On his Wikipedia page, there is even a note, “Do not confuse with Andrew Weber.”  Our Weber Street is named for a German with only one B and five letters in his name, pronounced “Wee-Brr.”  See the difference?  Many don’t!  😦

The son’s plastic molding company makes parts for the American-owned Weber barbecue company, and to agree with their customer, are forced to pronounce it Webb-Brr.

I worked for four years at a precision machine shop, where tolerances went down to Millionths of an inch, yet the chief engineer wondered why his young male assistant and I bothered to set our digital watches to within a second of radio Standard time.  With my obsession with the language, I often wonder why writers (and speakers) devote so much time and energy to other things, yet fail so badly in their word choices and spelling.

There’s a word for that, but it’s not commonly used in polite company, so, I’m done.  😀

 

Spamalot

Spam!  We all get it.  Many of us have done at least one post about it.  I haven’t yet, so it’s my turn.  I intend to make fun of some of the sillier ones I’ve received.  Not as technically proficient as many of you, I can’t cut and paste, so we’ll see who gets laughed at most, the spam, or me.

All spam is designed to sell something.  The sender wants you to go to his site, and usually spend money.  Some are sent only to increase the number of hits on the site so that the site-owner can charge advertisers higher rates.

I got one spam which told me that I was brain-dead, which was why I didn’t get more and better followers.  If I would just sign up and pay for this blog-writing course, I would get a much better grade of riff-raff visiting my site.  It might have been the same spammer, but soon after, I got another, accusing you, my faithful followers, of being brain-dead and leaving dumb comments.  If I would just sign up and PAY – well, you get the idea.  Thatta-way Genius, insult me and my friends and expect us to flock on over to your site.  Well, flock you!

certainly like your web-site but you need to check the spelling on several of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling problems and I in finding it very troublesome to inform the truth nevertheless I will definitely come back again

This one irritates the shit out of me.  My spelling is better than 95% of the population.  It’s often better than Spellcheck, which I run on the word program, and then again on WordPress before I post, after I proofread at least three times.  Rife??!  You said rife?  One word per post – maybe.  Stick *rife* up your asterisk.  By the way Kettle, Pot called and said your spelling, capitalization and punctuation leave something to be desired.  What I desire is….wuzzat?  I can’t post that word?  Physically impossible??!

Hi there, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you can recommend?  I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any support is very much appreciated.

You “Own” a blog?  I got mine for nothing, but mine came with a shift-key so I can capitalize “I”.  I get a few inane spam comments, often from winners like you.  I let Akismet sift them out, and then I flush them down WordPress’s toilet.  The only protection or plugin I got, came from The Stag Shop.  I don’t think spam is driving you insane.  It’s more like a short putt.

Nice weblog here! Also your website quite a bit up fast! What web host are you the usage of? Can I am getting your associate hyperlink on your host? I wish my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

I am quite a bit up confused as to what you’re asking, and apparently I’m not the only one.  Look at my web address and you’ll see what web host I am the usage of, quite a bit up fast.  Perhaps there’s an English textbook that you could be the usage of.

Maybe if you include more photos and videos your article would be more understandable

Maybe once you put down the crayons, graduate from Kindergarten and learn to speak and write the language, you won’t need photos and videos.

I seriously love your website.. Great colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my very own site and would love to find out where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Kudos!

Really?  Great colors & theme?  On my site?  When did that happen?  Yes, I made this website all by my little self.  I carefully crafted it out of bellybutton lint and cat hair, held together with cobwebs pulled from my own skull.  Tip your skull down and read the theme at the bottom of the page.  Are Kudos those African antelope things?  You could use their fur and horns to build your site.  😕

I got an advertising spam from a furniture store specializing in sofas and chairs – in Sussex England.  They do realize I’m on another continent, don’t they?!  I wonder if they deliver, or if I’d have to borrow a dory from Ted at www.sightsnbytes.wordpress.com .  That would be a long row back.

I once got a two-page spam once urging me to purchase Viagra – so that some of the purchase price could go to a fund to save Asian tigers.  Yeah, right, that’s what I buy Viagra for, to save Asian tigers.  I got enough performance anxiety, without having to worry about dead tigers.  My own little tiger is dead.  😦

Several times recently, I’ve got one offering to help me save my possessions during a divorce – in French.  Since I don’t plan on being divorced in French, I think I’ll give that one a pass.

Search terms are almost as much fun.  I mentioned Mennonites in one post, and got the inevitable “Mennonite porn” search term.  I got “South African asteroid” one day.  I didn’t realize they had their own special asteroid.  I had used the word asteroid in a post about eight months ago, but that’s not the one the search term locked on to.  I had spoken of an asteroid which had come inside the orbit of the moon, now we have one which will arrive Friday morning and pass closer than the geosynchronous communications satellites.  Hopefully it doesn’t have any Mayans on board, and disappears back into the void.

End of silly rant!  Insert thunderous applause here!

Obey The Law

The following are some of the laws that the universe operates under.  Get used to the idea of following them.  No-one living has found a way to get around them.

MURPHY’S LAWS

Murphy’s 1st Law

The general law on why things go wrong – “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

Murphy’s 2nd Law

If it can be assembled wrong, it will.

Murphy’s 3rd Law

If it can be operated wrong, it will.

Murphy’s 4th Law

All failures will occur at the most inaccessible location.

Murphy’s 5th Law

Everything costs more than the estimate.

Murphy’s 6th Law

Every task takes longer than you think it will.

Murphy’s 7th Law

Nothing is as easy as it looks.

Murphy’s 8th Law

If you tinker with or try to improve something long enough, eventually it will break.

O’Toole’s Law

Murphy was an optimist!

Dude’s Law of  Duality

(A special case of Murphy’s 1st law)

Of two possible outcomes, only the undesired one will occur.

Gumperson’s Law

(Incorporates the concept of desirability into a general law.)

The probability of a given event occurring is inversely proportional to its desirability.

Flap’s Law of the Perversity of Inanimate Objects

Any inanimate object regardless of its position or configuration, may be expected to perform at any time, in a totally unexpected manner, for reasons which are either entirely obscure, or else completely mysterious.

Mule’s Law: The Universal Field Theory of Perversity

The probability of an event’s occurring varies directly with the perversity of the inanimate object involved, and inversely with the product of its desirability and the effort expended to produce it.

The Theorem of the Dynamic Application of the Law of Adversity and Perversity

Some events are more likely to occur in Los Angeles or New York, rather than Miami or Chicago.

Parkinson’s Law

Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

McGurk’s Law

Any improbable event, which would create maximum confusion if it did occur, will occur.

Weiler’s Law

Nothing is impossible, for the man who doesn’t have to do it.

CHISOLM’ LAWS

Chisolm’s First Law:  The Law of Human Interaction

Any time things seem to be getting better, you have overlooked something.

Chisolm’s Second Law

If you explain so clearly that nobody can possibly misunderstand, somebody will.

Chisolm’s Third Law

If you do something which you are sure will meet with everyone’s approval, somebody won’t like it.

Chisolm’s Fourth Law

All procedures devised to implement the purpose won’t quite work.

Miller’s Law

He who tooteth his own horn, maketh sure his own horn has been tootethed.

Zymurgy’s First Law of Evolving System Dynamica

Once you open a can of worms, the only way to recan them is to use a larger can.

(Old worms never die, they just worm their way into larger cans.)

Rudin’s Law

In a crisis which forces a choice to be made among alternative courses of action, most people will choose the worst possible one.

Shaw’s Principle

Build a system that even a fool can use, and only a fool will want to use it.

McNaughton’s Rule

Any argument worth making within a bureaucracy must be capable of being expressed in a simple declarative sentence that is obviously true, once stated.

Parker’s Law of Political Statements

The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility, and vice versa.

Law of Superiority

The first example of a superior principle is always inferior to the developed example of an inferior principle.

Katz’s Law

Men and nations will act rationally, when all other possibilities have been exhausted.

The Law Of Perversity Of Nature

(Mrs. Murphy’s Corollary)

You cannot determine beforehand, which side of the bread to butter.

Weaver’s Law

When several reporters share a cab on an assignment, the reporter in the front seat pays for all.

Doyle’s Corollary to Weaver’s Law

No matter how many reporters share a cab, and no matter who pays, each puts the full fare on his own expense account.

Westheimer’s Rule

To estimate the time it will take to perform a task, double the initial estimate and change the unit of measure up to the next highest unit.  Thus you need to allocate two days to complete a one hour task.

The Reno Rule

A Smith & Wesson beats four aces.

Peckham’s Law

Beauty times brains, equals a constant.

Merrill’s First Corollary

There are no winners in life, only survivors.

Merrill’s Second Corollary

On the highway of life, the average happening is of about as much true significance as a dead skunk in the middle of the road.

Oesser’s Law

There is a tendency for the person in the most powerful position in an organization to spend all his time serving on committees and signing letters.

Potter’s Law

The amount of flak received on any subject is inversely proportional to the subject’s true value.

Kitman’s Law

Pure drivel tends to drive ordinary drivel off the TV screen.

Goof’s Law

(As propounded by Inglesbe)

The insignificance of the error is inversely proportional to the intensity of the resulting castigation – or, the smaller the slip, the bigger the lip.

Spock’s Law

What mother tells daughter she wouldn’t understand, usually results in daughter doing things that mother wouldn’t understand.

Barth’s Law of Distinction

There are two types of people: those who divide people into two types, and those who don’t.

Friedman’s Reiteration of Crane’s Law

There is no free lunch.

FINAGLE’S LAWS

Finagle’s General Law of Adversity

Once a good thing is fouled up, anything done to improve it only makes it worse.

Finagle’s First Law

If an experiment works, something has gone wrong.

Finagle’s Second Law

No matter what result is anticipated, there will always be someone eager to (a) misinterpret it, (b) fake it, or (c) believe it happened to his own pet theory.

Finagle’s Third Law

In any collection of data, the figure most obviously correct, beyond all need of checking, is the mistake.

Corollary 1

No-one whom you ask for help will see it.

Corollary 2

Everyone who stops by with unsought advice will see it immediately.

Gummidge’s Law

The amount of expertise varies in direct proportion to the number of statements understood by the general public.

Hartley’s First Law

You can lead a horse to water, but if you can get him to float on his back, you’ve really got something.

Simon’s Law

Everything put together, sooner or later falls apart.

Diogenes’ Second Dictum

If a taxpayer thinks he can safely cheat, he probably will.

Hitchin’ A Ride

Ted, over at SightsN Bytes, had a recent story about not picking up a hitchhiker carrying an axe.  I was under the impression that hitchhiking had reduced significantly over the years.  It probably varies from area to area.  His story made me think back to my teen years, when hitchhiking was a way of life for me.  I have travelled a lot of miles in other peoples’ vehicles.  I met a lot of interesting folks and had a lot of interesting rides.

I was bused five miles to high school.  The bus home left the school 15 minutes after final bell.  If I wanted to do anything at school after normal hours, it was up to me to get myself home.  Hitchhiking was the usual solution.  Sometimes traffic between the two towns was light, or drivers simply didn’t want to be bothered with a schoolboy, and I would have to walk/trot home in time for supper.

When I first moved to this city, I didn’t have a car.  I lived in a boarding house with my brother, who did.  I attended my Adult Education school at night.  Friday nights I was off at 9 P.M.  If he worked till 11 P.M. we went home to visit our parents together, early Saturday morning.  If he was through at 3 P.M., I hitchhiked home alone.

I would walk out to the edge of town and hope for rides.  Directly from here to my hometown was a two-hour drive, but on county roads.  To have some greater assurance of available traffic, I hiked 15 miles east, then two hours north, then a half-hour west, to my home town.  A greater distance, which usually took over three hours, but all on Provincial highways.

I stepped out onto the highway one Saturday morning.  The clock in the bank on the corner said just 7 A.M.  I turned to face traffic and stuck my thumb out.  A car travelling at way over city speed limit screeched to a halt, and I jumped in.  The driver peeled away in a cloud of smoke.  We were soon just hitting the high points of the road at 85/90 MPH.  He would take me to the next city, where he was going to work.  I asked what time he started work.  At 7 A.M.!!  That’s why he was speeding.

He dumped me out at the city’s edge, and I walked across the intersection and turned to solicit rides, when three young men, not much older than me, stopped.  They were going to the beach for the weekend.  With one of them piloting a hopped-up muscle car, we were soon humming along at 85/90 MPH again.

As we approached the city of Owen Sound, the driver complained about having to go down over the 50 foot cliff, bumper-to-bumper, traffic light after traffic light through the town and back up the cliff on the other side.  I suggested taking an unmarked bypass, and saving half an hour.  It would bring them out at a point where they planned to turn further north, and I would continue west.  They were thrilled to have found a quicker, easier way past the city.

The little beach town where they were headed didn’t have a liquor store, and the beer store was small and always crowded.  Did my town have a liquor store?  Yes.  Did it have a beer store?  Yes.  If they drove to my town, it would only be a little extra distance, but I’d already saved them lots of time.  They drove me right into my parents’ driveway.  I climbed out and went inside, to see that the clock read just 9 A.M.  I travelled forty extra miles, and still got home in two hours.

I used to start hitching near a Weston’s bakery.  One Saturday morning I got a ride with a man driving one of the original Minis.  He pulled out and passed a Volkswagen Beetle, and I was looking up at the Bug’s door handle as we went by.  Those things weren’t cars; they were the first motorized skateboards.  I tried not to think of how close my ass was to the pavement.  If we’d run over a squirrel, I’d have sung soprano.

The next week I watched a Redpath Sugar truck pull out of the bakery, after making a delivery.  I could see the, “No Riders” sign on the windshield, so I didn’t even stick out my hand.  The driver stopped anyway.  It was a cab-over Peterbilt.  With my arm extended above my head, I could barely put my carry-bag on the floor, before I clambered up.   I traveled the same road as last week, but this time, I was looking down at roadside power poles.  What a visual difference.

One cool morning in early November, I caught my second ride, and was heading north.  The driver had no urgent destination, but was tightly wound.  We passed through a small town situated on a river.  It was still just getting light, but there was a heavy fog off the water.  We hit the outer edge of the town, just in time to get behind a fully loaded lumber transport.

The big-rig took some time to get wound up, especially considering visibility.  I thought steam was going to erupt from my driver’s ears.  He kept trying to pass, but couldn’t see far enough to make it.  Suddenly he wheeled over onto the gravel shoulder, and passed on the inside.  Just as we reached the front of the truck, out of the fog loomed a two-posted wooden sign giving mileages to the next few towns.  I thought I was riding in a toothpick maker, but he managed to crank the wheel and get in front of the truck.  He smiled angelically at me and said, “He’ll be thinking we’re crazy.”  Whatya mean we, white man?  After I could breathe again, I answered, “As long as he doesn’t think we’re dead.”

Riding with random unknown drivers was a social learning experience, but I’m glad I no longer have to do it.