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.   😳

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Eating And Drinking Well

Leftovers

There was a guy who just got out of a really bad
divorce with his wife. One day, he found a
genie’s lamp. The genie came out and said, “Hello
master. I will grant you three wishes but,
whatever you wish for your wife gets double.”

The guy didn’t like that part but he made a wish
anyway. For his first wish, he said, “Genie, I
want a house in Hawaii.” POOF!!! He got one
house, his wife got two. This didn’t make him
happy but, he made his second wish. “Genie, I want
2 billion dollars.” POOF! He got two billion, his
wife four billion. By now, this guy isn’t very
happy. The genie says, “You have one wish left. I
have to remind you, whatever you wish for your
wife gets double.”

The guy says, “Yeah, yeah. I know.”

So the guy thinks real hard and says “I’ve got it!
Genie, beat me half to death!!”

***

Into the neighborhood bar one evening, stomps a strange character. He faces the crowd and yells out, “I’m Big Bill Johnson. I’m new to the area.” He then pounds on the bar, and says, “Barkeep, a Jack and Coke for me, and set up a round for the house. WHEN BIG BILL DRINKS, EVERYBODY DRINKS!”

Well, people are ordering brandy and cognac and champagne. When the fuss dies down, Big Bill knocks back the rest of his glass. He slaps a $5-dollar bill on the bar and shouts, “That there is for my drink. WHEN BIG BILL PAYS, EVERYBODY PAYS.”

***

A cannibal invited a cannibal friend over for
supper one evening. While enjoying the soup, the
friend said, “Your wife sure makes a great soup!”.
The host replied, “Yes, and I’m really going
to miss her.”

***

Two cannibals capture and boil a missionary. After he’s cooked, they pull him out of the big pot and try to decide how to share him. One cannibal says, “Why don’t you start at the bottom, and I’ll start at the top.”

Some time later the ‘head’ cannibal looks down at his friend and asks, “How ya doing?”

His friend replies, “Oh I’m havin’ a ball.”

“You’re eating too fast! Slow down.”

***

With all the new technology regarding fertility recently, a 65-year-old friend of mine was able to give birth. When she was discharged from the hospital and went home, I went to visit.

‘May I see the new baby?’ I asked.
‘Not yet,’ she said. ‘I’ll make coffee and we can talk for a while first.’
Thirty minutes had passed, and I asked, ‘May I see the new baby now?’
‘No, not yet,’ she said.
After another few minutes had elapsed, I asked again, ‘May I see the baby now?’
‘No, not yet,’ replied my friend.
Growing very impatient, I asked, ‘Well, when can I see the baby?’
WHEN HE CRIES!’ she told me.  ‘
When he Cries??’ I demanded. ‘Why do I have to wait until he CRIES?’
BECAUSE I FORGOT WHERE I PUT HIM, OK?!

***

TEENAGERS

Tired of being harassed by your parents?
Act Now!
________________________

Move out! Get a job!
Pay your own damned bills!

Do it soon, while you still know everything.

 

Frankly, A Great Challenge

Footprints Challenge

AFrankAngle has issued a fiction challenge. He is asking his readers to take the above photo, compose a 150 word story about it, and link to his post.  Stop over there to see what he, and others, have written about footsteps in the sand.  Here is my offering.

FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND

Bobby was almost six. A fisherman’s son, he lived on an island off the Carolina coast. He’d had an argument with his Mom.  He wasn’t going to blindly obey her rules any more.  He would run away from home, and live on his own.

He packed what he thought he’d need, and marched down to the shore. The mainland was a blur, and he couldn’t run a boat.  Fine, he’d find a spot in the grass or trees to live.  With his driftwood ‘staff’, he trudged up the beach.

No suitable spot appeared, so he kept slogging – on and on. He finally came around a headland….and there was the dock again.  There was the big log on the beach – and somebody was sitting on it.  It was his Mom.  She just held out her arms and said, “Lunch is almost ready.”

Oh well, he could run away some other time.

Footprints Victory

For Frank, and others, I also offer the story of a devout man who died and went to Heaven. Before God actually ushered him in, He showed him his life with God.  The man saw it as a walk along the shore with God – two parallel lines of footprints in the sand.

At certain spots in his life, there was only one set of prints. When he looked closer, he realized that these had been the hardest times of his life.  He said to God, “How could You have abandoned me when I most needed You?”  God replied, “My child, those were the times when I carried you.”

Flash Fiction #132

Clutter

PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Potter

CREATIVE CLUTTER

A clean desk is the sign of a diseased mind.

Once, he had been embarrassed by his messy work area. Accountants are neat and orderly.  Writers are artists, whose minds must be free to soar.  Their thoughts, words, ideas and concepts eddy and flow to produce prose which will reach out and grab the reader.

Neatness was over-rated. Cleaning was non-productive.  Filing was prosaic.  His system was chronological – newest stuff on top of the pile.  Besides, his Mom was coming over to visit and bring him supper Friday evening.  She’d have his little nook Spic and Span before she left.

***

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

2017 A To Z Challenge – C

Challenge2017

In mining other people’s prompts for this post, I dug up a lot of other options but, for the letter

Letter C

it all came down to one choice. I have to write about CANADA!

Canada 150

This is Canada’s sesquicentennial. That’s just a sesquipedalian word that means we’re 150 years old this year.  We’ve been at this ‘country’ thing for a century and a half.  The Government is so thrilled that it directed the Bank of Canada to issue a new, commemorative $10 bill, which features people and places that even Canadians have never heard of.

Canadian Bill

The US gained its freedom by revolting, a definition still agreed on by much of the world. Canada became independent by asking nicely.

50 years ago, we celebrated our Centennial. I should apologise to the rest of the world, especially the Americans, for Pamela Anderson.  She was declared Canada’s Official Centennial Baby, being born the soonest after the stroke of midnight that began July 1-1967, CANADA Day.

The problem was that she was born out on the Left-Coast, beautiful-bud, British Columbia. The Centennial was already 5 ½ hours old in Newfoundland and the rest of Canada, by the time it dawned on her.  Continually told throughout her childhood that she was Special, as she grew older she decided to inflict it on prove it to other people, by getting into TV/movies.

The best thing that she ever did for Canada was move to California, where she became the bulbous Baywatch bitch. After that was cancelled, she became a born-again vegetarian, and endured a lackluster career of dressing up in lettuce leaves and shoving her boobs and her unfounded, ill-considered opinions into other people’s faces.

Canada Kicks Ass

The wife and I got married as a Centennial project. We were going to leave it until the next year, but saw little reason to wait, so we moved the date up to Dec. 2 – 1967.  We almost caused an evil-minded, judgemental, Catholic sister-in-law to wear out her fingers, counting the months till the birth of our first child.  The daughter fooled her, and saved her fingers, by being born 10 months and 1 day after our wedding.

When we got married, both we and Canada were filled with naive optimism. For proof, you can click on the YouTube link to see and hear.  The French have the stirring, martial, Le Marseillais.  The Americans have the patriotic Star-Spangled Banner, with bombs bursting in air.  We have Canada’s Centennial Song. One little, two little, three Canadians – Weeee love you. Now we are twenty million. That was then.  Now, 50 years later, we are 33 million – perhaps 34 million, if you count the illegal immigrants being welcomed with open arms by the RCMP, as they leak across the border into Manitoba and Quebec, trying to get away from Trumpetopia.

As the wife and I near our 50th wedding anniversary, both we, and the country, are older if no wiser.  Both have become harder and more cynical, especially now as we endure a Care-Bear, second-generation Prime Minister who is spending the country’s, and our children’s, financial future on frivolous, feel-good, social-engineering plots.  When he visits Donald Trump, he’s on his knees, and not to pray.

This too shall pass! We are tough.  We will prevail.  You can tan my hide and make work boots out of me.

Please use your boots to walk back over here in a couple of weeks, to see what indignities I inflict on poor, unsuspecting Letter D.   😯

Canadian Flag

A To Z Challenge – S

april-challenge

UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS

letter-s

I want to discuss my ancestors, but the above title is a lie. Upstairs/Downstairs was a British TV series dealing with the various goings-on of the upper-crust, upper-floor rich folk in a mansion, and the serving class below them, both physically and socially, who provided their every whim and wish.

My forebears didn’t live in no stinkin’ mansion, making tea, and cucumber sandwiches for effete dilettantes.   My folks have been industrious, productive people for hundreds of years.  They were ‘blue-collar’ long before blue collars existed.  A more accurate title might be Manor-House/Mill-house – and never the twain shall meet.

My father’s name (and mine) was Smith.  His progenitors originally were productive German artisans named Schmied.  Over many years, the name changed to Schmidt, and was carried to the newly-born United States of America by a Hessian mercenary, paid by the British.  After another hundred years, it got Anglicized to Smith.

Smith is a proud name, and a proud profession. It originally meant, one who produces, makes or manufactures something. Then the language changed so that it meant, a worker in metal.  Finally, the meaning narrowed to just the blacksmith, who pounds hot iron and steel.

I like to think of myself as a wordsmith.  I received blacksmith training in my high school shop class.  (Yes, I lived that far out in the sticks, and back in the mists of time.)  Blacksmith is making a comeback, both through the custom knife and sword makers, and artisans who supply millennial hipsters with hand-made gate latches, coat-racks, porch rails and coffee tables.

My mother’s side of the family supplied the name Stewart.  This is a Scottish name from the English word steward, meaning, one who takes take of something.  The spelling of this name also slipped a bit, to Stuart, and a branch of the clan became the Royal Stuarts, ruling, and ‘taking care of’, Scotland.

Before he emigrated from Glasgow to Canada, my maternal grandfather became the ‘Keeper of the Tartans’ at the fabric mill where he worked. He was the steward of the patterns of the plaids which clothed a good portion of the country.

letter-s-super

All in all, I think maybe this is the S that I should have chosen for this post.  I’m impressed with my family history.  How about you?  😎

Sassin’ The Sassenach

Union Jack

The grandson, ‘Thorn Smith’, has finished his three-year welding apprentice course, and is now licensed to work anywhere in Canada.  He recently accompanied his fiancé to Ottawa, ON (545 Km – 340 Mi. – 5 ½ hour drive) so that she could attend university there.

Before they each take this big life-step, they decided that they should see a bit of the world first. He saved money from his placement employment, and she from her job as a Starbucks barista, and they flew to London, England for a week.

One of the big attractions was a chance to see the new Harry Potter play, ‘The Cursed Child.’ On the day that tickets were released, they crouched over their computer, waiting for the floodgates to open.  When it happened, they quickly found that the system would respond to PCs, but not to their Apple.  In the slightly less than an hour that it took them to physically move to where there was an available PC, ALL TICKETS for the entire run were sold out.

Still, money had been saved, and plane tickets had been bought, so off they went. A tiny, unexpected payment from a retirement fund allowed us to gift them with £100 in ten-pound notes, because vacations are always costly, and London is said to be expensive.

SDC10989

Aside from the missed play, they enjoyed all the touristy London things – London Bridge, Tower of London, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye Ferris Wheel, Curry In A Hurry, and fish and chips.

Even before the Brexit from the E.U. England had not accepted Euro notes or coins, especially after (relatively) recently having switched over to decimal coinage. The grandson brought me back a complete set of coins.  They descend from the bi-metal 2-Pound, to the single, round-Pound, heptagonal 50-pence and 20-pence, quarter-sized 10-pence, dime-sized 5-pence, 50-cent-sized copper 2-pence, and a copper penny.

Around the edge of the 2-Pound coin is inscribed, “On The Shoulders Of Giants”, a reference to Sir Isaac Newton. Around the 1-Pound coin’s edge is, “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit” the royal Stuart and a Scottish motto, meaning, “No-one attacks me with impunity.”

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Not knowing that I had one, he also brought me back a 5-Pound note. Different from mine, I find that British notes are now not only color-coded, but size-coded, as well; the smaller the denomination, the smaller the bill.

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I also have a Scottish 1-Pound note, and a British Armed Services 1-Pound Scrip bill not to be used anywhere but, or even removed from, Armed Forces bases. I have a surprising number of items like that, Russian Rubles and Kopeks, Cuban Pesos.

Ten pounds

There’s a lot of separation going on over there. Britain has left the E.U.  Scotland wants to separate from England, and may independently rejoin it.  They are allowed to print their own money.  Ireland wants little to do with either, and also prints up their own greenbacks.

When grandson and fiancé were first driven to Ottawa to take possession of their apartment, they found a Starbucks, literally visible from their front window. When they drove over for a caffeine-break, her mother got the first coffee, and stepped back to wait.

Perhaps recognising new customers, the female manager approached to welcome and ask how things were. The mother said that her daughter worked at a Starbucks in Kitchener, and would be looking for a position in Ottawa.

“She’s an experienced barista??! I’m short-handed and hiring.  Have her manager email me, and I’ll have a job for her as soon as she’s available.”  Going to class and working part-time will be busy, but they’ll have income until he finds a decent job.  I love it when a plan comes together.

[Hopefully, the grandson is reading this on his Smart-Phone. Thanx for all your past help.  We miss you already.  Good luck, and keep in touch.]   😀