What Did I Just See?

I took the wife out the other day.  Ooh, isn’t that nice?  A date.  Nah, first I took her to a doctor’s appointment.  Then I took her to a pharmacy with a prescription to be filled.  Then we stopped off at a supermarket to pick up a few items.  That’s about the limit of the excitement in our lives….usually.  This day then got a little stranger, but I’m not sure exactly how.

By the time we left the grocery store it was after 3:30 PM.  That’s what we get for not rolling out of bed till nearly noon.  We’d both only had a glass of juice and our “morning” pills.  As I loaded the groceries into the trunk the wife asked me if I had any plans for lunch.  Other than definitely wanting some, I said no.  The grocery store is at the end of the plaza, perpendicular to the road.  Then the buildings ell off, with a row of smaller stores at the back of the parking lot, facing the main road.  About halfway down the row is a pizza shop.

The wife wanted to share a pizza.  I thought she wanted to go in and sit down to eat.  Since she’d already walked a fair bit for her, I decided to drive the car from the store side of the lot and park in front of the pizzeria.  I cruised the line directly in front of it, but there were no open parking spaces.  Back in the second row I spotted one, right where we needed it.  Down to the end of the row, and back around to the second line, quickly, before someone else takes it, and pulled in.  I had to park carefully.  To my immediate left there were four people milling around their car.

I’d parked beside a Guidomobile, with two Guidos and two Guidettes around/behind/beside it.  I don’t know exactly what make and model the car was.  It was a bright red, small, two-door hardtop, had big wheels with low profile tires, a small whip antenna, which probably meant it had a stereo system worth more than my entire car.  It had bucket seats, a center console and lots of dingly-danglies over the windshield.  The whole bunch could have been the cast of Jersey Shores, dark skin, tight pants, muscle shirts, tattoos and lots of gold, mouth and attitude.

The wife said she wanted to take the pizza home and eat it there, so I went in and ordered and came back out to sit with her in the car, and wait for it to be ready.  It was a warm, sunny day, so we both rolled down our windows.  Now I could hear these people as they roamed around the little car, talking at and to each other.  Gabble-gabble-gabble “dos Rios”?  Gabble-gabble-gabble “amigas”?  Gabble-gabble-gabble “caliente”?  It sounded like Spanish, yet not.  It didn’t have the imperious fullness of Castilian Spanish, nor the round mud-voice of Mexican pronunciation.  This was tighter, quicker, more aggressive.  They kept looking toward the entrance off the side street.

Finally, a guy came out and moved the car in the row behind them and opened up the spot I’d wanted.  Parking spaces don’t stay empty long and the girls (25/30-year-old women) kept walking through and looking towards the side entrance.  Suddenly joy was in the air, much shouting and waving.  Another vehicle came down the driveway and parked behind them.  Not exactly a car-crushing Monster-Truck out of an arena, but, I’d have needed a stepladder to get up into it.  Black paint so shiny I could see seagulls reflected in it, and about a ton of chrome.

The driver swung down out of it and went to join his compadres.  He’s dressed like his friends, loose patterned cotton shirt over a colorful t-shirt that says ECUADOR!  Ah, it was Spanish, and that explains the accent.  The women got close to him and carried on most of the conversation.  Finally he reached into his pocket and pulled out the clichéd “wad that would choke a horse”.  It was only folded over, but he still could barely hold it.  After a bit more discussion, he flipped it open and began peeling bills off.  I missed the first couple because I was trying to see if they were all hundreds; we can tell, here in Canada, because of our color-coded bills.  They were merely twenties, but he counted out at least ten of them, and gave them to head-Guido’s tension-reducer.  She stuck them in the back pocket of a pair of jeans so tight that I could read the serial number on the top one.

Happy happy, gabble gabble, the girls walked up and both got in the back seat.  Heaven forbid a man should ride back there.  Chrome-guy talked to the other two for a few seconds, then it was handshakes and macho hugs and they started for the car too.  He followed them, still in conversation.  I heard a question, and out came the wad again.  He peeled off another twenty and leaned in the back window and offered it to the same gal.  I understood some tentative, polite negatives.  There were a couple of seconds of consideration, then the driver nodded and she took the money and stuffed it in her bra.

It was a good thing our windows were down.  When the little tuner rolled away, the exhaust could have blown them out.  Chrome-guy wandered around his toy, adoring it, while he finished a cigarette.  Then he climbed up and moved it out, quieter than the car half its size.

What in Hell did I just see?  What were these adults doing, hanging around in a parking lot in the middle of the day?  Was this payment for a drug deal?  They weren’t surreptitious, and nothing but money changed hands.  Did Chiquita get paid for services rendered last night?  Was the extra twenty a tip for something below and beyond the call of duty?  Or is that blow?  It was just so out-of-the-ordinary that I’m still curious. I wish I understood Spanish better, although with the regional accent, I’m not sure how much I’d have understood.  Maybe Chiquita was Chrome-guy’s sister, and he just gave her money to buy mamacita a birthday present.  Yeah sure, that’s it.  Anybody want to take a guess?

A Penny For Your Thoughts


Quick!  Take the offer!  The penny won’t be around too much longer­.

BrainRants did a post about a week ago, about the American government considering stopping production of the penny.  Like the flying cars that we would all be driving, I’ve heard that story every six months or so, since the late 1950s.  I got so used to it never happening, that the announcement in the paper, that the Canadian government had actually made the decision, came as a complete surprise.  Look to the Americans following suit soon.  Perhaps they’ll even try replacing the one-dollar bill with a coin.

In Wednesday’s paper, it was front-page, front-section News.  There was a photo of 30 or 40 pennies.  Side by side were a 1978 penny, and a new, shiny 2012 penny.  As a coin collector, I haven’t even seen one of the ‘12s yet.  I occasionally get pennies older than 1978 in my change.  Very occasionally I still get the odd, pre-1952 penny, with the head of Elizabeth’s father, George.  I haven’t seen a penny in change with his father, Edward, for 15/20 years.  The 1978 to 2012 range was fairly representative of what’s out there.

By Saturday’s paper it was just a business story, with another, different photo.  This one shows only eight pennies, but interestingly, two of them are American.  I’d have thought to check the pile, but then I’m a numismatist, Plus, I can think.  A local company had a quarter-page ad a while back.  Save big bucks with us, with a picture of a fan of bills, all of them American.  I called them up and suggested that the next time they pulled something off the internet; they might try harder to make it Canadian.

There’s another difference between Canadians and Americans.  American coins circulate with Canadian, probably about one in fifty.  Two, in a pile of eight, is a little heavy.  Canadians will accept American bills, almost anywhere, close to the border or not.  They might not allow the same rate of exchange as a bank, but they will let Americans spend them.  Americans, even those in border cities, still react as if we were trying to spread Ebola.

I went into a little shop in Kissimmee, and saw two pennies sitting on the edge of the cash register.  Looking closer, I realised that they were Canadian.  I thought perhaps someone was saving them, but the almost-hysterical clerk insisted that somebody had STUCK them with these two man-eating monsters, and nobody wanted them.  I offered to exchange them for two American pennies, but she wouldn’t even have that.  I should please, just take them away.

In my youth, I had a summer friend from Windsor.  He and three of his buddies wanted to bar-hop with some Americans they’d played baseball with.  Back then there were no debit cards, so they went to the bank, stocked up on U.S. cash and crossed the bridge.  At the end of the evening they wanted to have one for the road, but he’d run out of American money.  He asked the bartender if he could pay with a Canadian five, and the guy agreed.  I mean, he could almost see his house, across the river.  Just as he was finishing, he got a hand on his shoulder.  The bartender had called the cops.  Not merely a local Smoky, this was state trooper.

Tall, dark and retarded wanted to charge him with COUNTERFEITING.  Even if the bill had been a counterfeit, it would have been a Canadian counterfeit, produced in a foreign country.  A case of fraud might have been applicable, but not counterfeiting.  Without “resisting arrest”, he argued with the trooper for over fifteen minutes.  The guy’s hat was on so tight, he just didn’t get it.  Finally my friend insisted that he call his Sergeant, who finally arrived and set both the trooper, and the bartender straight.  I could see this reaction in Arizona, or even Kentucky, but, Detroit??

Zero tolerance also means zero thought applied, zero consideration, zero actual work done and one hundred percent cover-your-ass.  Establish a policy and hide behind it, and you’ll be able to piss customers off without ever having to make a decision again.

A Canadian man returned from a trip to Mexico.  He had promised to get his eight-year-old daughter a present, but had forgotten to do so before he left.  He had to land in Toronto, and take a connecting flight to Nova Scotia. While he was in the airport, he went to the gift shop and purchased a horse-shaped piñata.  When he attempted to board his plane, an Air Canada flight attendant confiscated the piñata, claiming it was a security violation.

The piñata was bought inside the secure area of the airport.  The attendant claimed that it had been soaked in kerosene.  Kerosene is what fuels the plane; piñatas are papier-mâché, newspaper and glue, just like the newspapers or books on the plane.  An Air Canada spokesman, in charge of Cover-Your-Ass, announced that airline personnel consider passenger safety first, when carrying out their jobs.  I don’t think any consideration at all was given in this case.  I think a PMS Princess, angry at her boyfriend for forgetting her birthday, took it out on the first convenient passenger, and instead of admitting that maybe someone had made an error, or been a little over-zealous, Air Canada just started waving the Passenger Safety banner.  Feel safe yet??!