Insecurity Blanket

security blanket

I was recently reassured that, as a person, I have value.  That’s not something that I usually worry or am in doubt about.  In my usual, humble way, I am normally pleased with who and what I am.  That did not hold entirely true before my recent trip to visit BrainRants.  Online, he seemed like a nice guy, but in person, he would be

 A GENTLEMAN AND A SCHOLAR
AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN

Could I keep up?  Would I fit in?

He has two university degrees, and a small string of subsequent educational certificates.  He has more letters after his name than Noah Webster.

I have a Grade 12 education, and a few minor employment-related post-secondary courses.  Of course, over the course of a lifetime almost twice his, I am a continuing scholar of the English language, communication, amateur psychology, and the human condition.  Would that be enough?

Hero

He left the Army as an officer.  While I have respect for people in uniforms – police, fire, ambulance, etc. –I am not necessarily impressed with just the fact that someone is an officer.  Too often it merely indicates a slavish, unthinking addiction to rules and regulations, the established system, prevailing policy, and current convention.

He earns five times what the wife and I receive together, in our paltry retirement pensions.  I’ve met some monied ‘gentlemen’ – business owners, and captains of industry.  Some of them were nice.  Others had homes where commoners mowed the lawn, not sat on the furniture.  Would I be accepted?

I had concerns that I was travelling to meet a cultured, scholarly, conservative, socially-judgemental ‘Gentleman.’  I need not have been concerned.  All my petty fretting and worry was for naught.  The true mark of a gentleman is his ease with any company, in any situation.  True gentleman that he is, he immediately and completely put me at ease.  I kept up.  I fit in.  What I was, was accepted and enough.

We spent a glorious week, discussing a wide range of topics, unaffectedly bouncing erudite words off each other in normal conversation – and letting the other know that we’d noticed (Paucity – Ding!  There’s another.)

He was the stereotypical common man, who just happened to have more formal education and income than me.  He was the kind of guy that I might have been, without my learning disabilities.  I will never doubt myself again!  Thanx, Rants, for providing far more than just a great getaway vacation.  😀

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WOW #37

Newspaper

All opinions expressed in this blog-post are not of the management, but solely those of the author…and, in MY opinion, the Word Of the Week

TEMERARIOUS

is arty, and pretentious.

I was thrilled to find it, although less thrilled to find that I was not already aware of it.  I was correct to deduce that it was the adjective version of the noun ‘Temerity’, which means audacity, effrontery, foolhardiness, reckless boldness, or rashness.

Without really thinking about it, (Oh, Damn!) I always assumed (making an ASS out of U and ME) that the adjective form would be ‘temeritous,’ but never had the need or occasion to use it.   I was not disturbed to see it used by a newspaper advice columnist.  Lord knows, I only have a Grade 12 education.  This lady may have a string of letters behind her name.

Eleven letters and five syllables in it, I was disturbed to see it used by a newspaper advice columnist, for people whose largest piece of vocabulary might be ‘Wal-Mart.’

I always advise to write to the level of the anticipated readership.  If I had to go and look this up, I’m sure that there was a passel of confused John Deere drivers.

Now that I’ve entrusted this ostentatious, mostly useless, $8.47 word to you, try to be careful with it.  Please keep out of the reach vocabulary of children.  Perhaps reserve it only for TED discussions.

As my Father used to say, before they changed the name of the country to Ethiopia, ‘Abyssinia’ later.  😉

’18 A To Z Challenge – Flood

Challenge '18

Letter F

Unless the Mayan calendar apocalypse comes to pass, my little home town, situated where a river meets a lake, will never have a flood.

Lake Huron’s levels are closely monitored and controlled by the St. Lawrence Seaway commission, the geography is stable, and it would take something larger than a falling Chinese Space Station, to cause a tsunami.  The land quickly rises, so that most of the town is 50 feet above water level.  My birthplace house is more like 70’.

The closest thing to a flood is the spring ice-breakup in the river.  It starts 3 miles upstream, below the little rapids.  The thin ice breaks, pushing downstream against the thicker and thicker layers, partly impeding the water flow, until finally it lets loose.  Suddenly, thousands of tons of ice blocks, 2 – 3 – 4-feet thick, and as big as buses, thunder down the canyon, scour the harbor docks, and spew into the lake.

I’m told that it is an awe-inspiring sight and sound, but silly little things like education and employment have never allowed me to be present.  In late fall, the docks are cleared.  Ladders for swimmers and boaters are unbolted.  Fishing boats are winched onto the concrete, and placed well up on the banks.  After the cascade, ice that’s in the way is bulldozed back into the water.  Blocks that aren’t, are still melting beside the little park, well into June.

***

When we made our pitifully few visits to the lower United States for vacations, we were usually fixed on getting to our destination as soon as possible, and took the Interstates.  Humming along steadily for hours, at 110Kmh/70MPH, the extra distances were made up for by not having to follow some farm tractor, or stop at every stop sign and red light in every goober little town.

The time we took our On Top Of The World trip, we decided that we had the time, not to go 100 miles from Buffalo to Erie, PA, to get on I-79.  Instead, we took State highways down and back, from Buffalo, through Pennsylvania.  The entertainment and education justified the decision.

We passed through Du Bois, PA, named after W.E.B. Du Bois, a 19th century Negro civil-rights pioneer.  Both names are pronounced ‘due–boys’, rather than the French ‘due-bwah.’

We found a small PA town that clings to a mountainside so steep, that the northbound lane of the highway/main street, is 8 feet above the southbound lane, with a guardrail to prevent cars from falling in.  The industry in another Pennsylvania town was a Weyerhaeuser paper mill.  We could smell that one 3 miles before we got there, and 3 miles after we left, and rolled the windows down to clear the stench.

Rolling into one town we were faced with 6 or 7 truck-docks, at the back of a large plant.  Each dock seemed to be a different color, red, green, orange blue, purple.  When we got closer we found that it was a Pittsburgh Glass plant, and what we’d seen was hundreds of pounds of broken bottles and other glass, all sorted by color, which had fallen below the docks as it was being brought back in for melting and reuse.

As we were coming back north, we reached a spot where a secondary road met the highway at a T-intersection to our left.  Suddenly, in the middle of Nowhere PA, miles from any town or city, I was faced with the first roundabout I’d ever seen.

Like the 1942 song That Old Black Magic says, “Down and down I go.  Round and round I go.”  Round and round the roundabout I went, missing the northbound, uphill highway.  Instead, I continued ‘round, and exited onto the westbound, downhill road.

Six miles this steep, two-lane blacktop weaved its way down and down, with not a sign of a turnoff, another side-road, or even a farmer’s lane, to turn into to turn around.

Finally, after losing hundreds of feet of altitude, we reached a sign that said, “Welcome To Johnstown PA”.  Johnstown??  Like in the Johnstown flood??  Sure enough, there was the Conemaugh River, before we started our long trek back uphill.

In 1851 a dam was built 14 miles upstream, to provide water for area industries, and for a barge-canal system.  Later, trains replaced barges, so the dam was sold to a railway company.  The Railway Company wasn’t in the ‘dam’ business, so they didn’t maintain it, even removing and selling piping that could lower water levels behind it.

In 1889, a ‘Century Storm’ dumped 12 inches of rain in the mountain valley in two days.  The dam finally failed, and the flood roared through several small towns and Johnstown.  It caused $17 million 1889 dollars worth of damage, almost $500 million today, and killed over 2200 people.

I quietly drove back up to the highway and home, to compose this happy tale for you.  Stop back again later, when we visit The Rockies and talk about avalanches.  😯

Progressively Worse

Little Red Schoolhouse

It ain’t gettin’ any better, folks!

A mass shooting has got the lefties screaming, yet again, for a gun ban. As someone who has lived in Ontario, and was married when you needed an Act of Parliament to get a divorce, abortion was illegal, and murderers were executed, it is so saddening to watch how progressives have destroyed yet another generation of our children.

Kids today can only print their names. They participate in games with no winners, attend schools where failure isn’t an option, and in general, are not taught to compete, for fear of losing, at any aspect of life.

Without learning to deal with any type of failure, they no longer can deal with it; yet there comes a time when they do fail, and then they are too weak to move on past it.

Our kids’ ‘progressive’ world leaves them unprepared for life, and academia convinces them that, just as in sports, the workplace should have no winners or losers, and that everyone is entitled to the same paycheck, just as they were entitled to a ‘participated’ ribbon.

In their world of ‘no consequences’, their failure to ever hear the word “NO”, a life of no discipline, and no idea how to cope, leads to more frustrated ‘shooters’ who have not been taught how to live a competitive and disciplined life.

Does anyone expect anything else from this progressive philosophy, which is financially and morally destroying the West??!   😯

 

A To Z Challenge – M

Challenge2017

Please don’t let me be misunderstood, by The Animals.  (Click for YouTube)

letter-m

Worse than being misunderstood, is being misidentified.  Those of you who know me, know that my name is not John Smith, but it’s almost that common.

I once worked with a young woman named Kauffeldt, a very non-common German name meaning ‘a purchased field’. She came to Kitchener from a town north of Ottawa, the equivalent of a 6-hour drive, because – that’s where the jobs were.

She started dating a guy, then they were ‘going steady’, then after a year, they got engaged. I thought that I should show at least a little bit of interest, and asked his name.  She told me that he was Barry, but managed to pronounce it more like Bawry, than berry.

As the wedding approached, I asked what her married name would be, and she told me that it would be Kauffeldt. “You’re not going to keep your maiden name are you??”  A hundred years ago, two brothers settled on opposite sides of a lake….and the families lost contact.

Barry was a 4th or 5th cousin, who lived in a different township.  They went to different elementary and secondary schools.  He also came down here for a job, and they met in Kitchener.  Talk about not even needing to change the monograms on the linen – she didn’t have to change her driver’s licence, or any other official paperwork.

My more common name though, has caused misunderstandings, if not actual problems.

I went to my dentist, to have some work done on a lower, right molar. The tech bustled in, and gave me a shot of Novocaine in my upper left jaw.  When I asked why, we found that another ‘John Smith’ had moved into the neighborhood.  She had his file, and I got his shot.  Then, of course, I got my own Novocaine shot, and spent the rest of the day with my face falling off.  I’ve since learned to provide address, Social Insurance Number, telephone, and/or birth date, to prevent this sort of thing.

On a street I once lived on, a house was built on the last empty lot, 8 houses past mine. One day I got a letter from a lawyer, threatening to sue ‘John Smith’ for cutting down a tree.  John Smith the contractor was from a small town, 25 miles away.  Shouldn’t someone know this?  When I called the lawyers office, the clerk alibied that, “We thought it was a work-site address.”

About 2:00 AM one Saturday morning, as the wife and I were watching a late movie, the phone rang. “Hey, this is Guido.  I’m checking in.”  That’s nice Guido.  Why are you calling me?  “Ain’t you John Smith, my parole officer?  I lost my contact information, so I looked you up in the book.”   Shortly after that, we put the phone in the wife’s name, and list it with just her initials.

One evening the phone rang, and when I answered it, a very irate man threatened to come over to my house and “punch your f**kin’ lights out.” Why would you want to do that?  “Halfway to the next town, my f**kin’ transmission fell out.”  And what does that have to do with me?  “Well, aren’t you John Smith, of John’s Transmissions?”  No sir, and next time, take a business card, or better yet, take your car to Mister Transmission.

Fifty years ago, when I took my Government-operated Academic Upgrading/Business Practices course, I may have been a bit more intelligent and educated than the run-of-the-mill factory/fisheries/ lumber crowd. I was dragooned into being the Acting Office Administrator for two weeks, while the real one (finally) enjoyed a much-earned vacation.

With a strong, independent Mother, it was amusing yet disturbing, that there were still bastions where a 22-year-old kid made executive decisions and directed 3 competent middle-aged female clerks – because men ran offices, and told women what to do.

Later, I found myself supervising and teaching several classes per day of a Basic Business Machines course, for six weeks, while they located and hired a replacement for a teacher who’d found a better job.

Shortly after I graduated, my Adult Education Program was absorbed, and officially renamed Conestoga College Continuing Education. About ten years ago, just before we put the phone in the wife’s name initials, I answered it one day.  A man queried, “John Smith?”  ….Uh, yeah.  “From Adult Education?”  What do I respond to that?

It turns out that it was a new student, trying to reach a newly-hired instructor named ‘John Smith.’ Apparently, unofficially, the old Adult Education name was still being used, to encourage mature students.

Call me anything you want, just don’t call me late for dinner – but please be sure, when you do call me, that I’m the Me you really meant to call.   😳

***

My apologies!  I should have posted this under the title A For Alzheimer’s, or F For Forgetful, or wait and publish it under R For Rerun.  I knew it sounded familiar.  We did it before, and, apparently ‘we’ (I) did it again.  This is an almost word-for word repeat of ‘Oh Yeah? Name One!‘ which you can click on below if you want to leave a comment, ridiculing my memory.  Sorry about that.  New material coming soon.   😳

I’m Working On It

office-worker

A young woman had been pounding the pavement in search of a job with no luck. Frustrated, she asked her Dad to look at her résumé.  He didn’t get much farther than the first line of her cover letter before spotting the problem.
“Is it too generic?” she asked.
“I doubt it.” said her father.  “Especially since it’s addressed ‘Dear Sir or Madman.”

***

My friend’s hour-and-a-half commute to work got old quickly – the time spent stuck in traffic was sending him over the edge. So I was happy for him when he found a new job closer to home. “That’s great,” I said.  “What are you doing now?”
“I’m a bus driver.”

***

A secretary liked to yammer on the phone to her friends. One day her boss was going to interrupt her chat to tell her to get back to work, when she looked up at the clock and put an end to the conversation.  “Sorry, I have to hang up now.  It’s time for my break.”

***

Applicants at a company were asked to fill out a questionnaire. Among the things that candidates had to list was their high school, and when they attended.  One prospective employee dutifully wrote the name of his school, followed by the dates attended – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

***

A worker at a new company was annoyed that the company’s automated telephone directory had seriously mangled her last name. She called the person in charge and asked that he fix it. “Sorry,” he said, “All requests must be made by email.”
“Okay,” she said, “just tell me how to email the correct pronunciation of Zuckschwerdt.”

***

Winding his way through the office cubicles, the young boss spotted one of his employees playing a video game on the computer. “Why aren’t you working?” he asked.
The employee had an excellent excuse.  “I didn’t see you coming.”

***

“Good morning.” I said to a co-worker in the parking lot. He mumbled something back, and continued toward the door, obviously distracted.  As we walked, I got close enough to hear what he was muttering to himself.
“It pays the bills. It pays the bill.  It pays the bills.  It pays the bills….”

***

One office manager was a tyrant when it came to keeping the printer area clean. A co-worker printed something, but when he went to pick up the document, it was gone. “You know I throw out anything more than 24 hours old.” the manager told him. “But I just printed it.” my friend insisted.
“Sorry,” she said, “But I’m not in tomorrow.”

***

A business-writing instructor read lots of résumés. Inevitably, he ran across some students with skills no employer could pass up, such as; The young paramedic who makes ‘life-threatening decisions’ every day. A child-care worker who can ‘overlook up to 35 children at one time.’ An entertaining young woman who is ‘flexible enough to perform all manner of positions if the situation gets desperate.’

 

Flash Fiction #122

grind

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

GETTING THE RUNAROUND

His mother had told him a thousand times. His Dad had said the same thing a few times, but nothing nags like a Mother.  Stay in school! Get a diploma!  Get a good job!

He was smarter than that.  Right after high school he’d got a paying job, while the rest wasted their time and incurred debts.

Ten years later he was making auto parts, while his sister was a doctor, making triple his salary.

All he had to look forward to was the daily grind, round and round. Get up, work his ass off, come home tired – and poor.

***

This little cautionary tale is all Rochelle’s fault. Go to her Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story for the Friday Fictioneers.