Halloween In A Graveyard

Gravestone

I once got the chance to patrol a graveyard on a Halloween night.  I know, I know!  The excitement!  The prestige!  Where do I go to apply for a keen job like that?  Sadly, the unemployment office.

When an unethical manager had pulled the cube-drone carpet out from underneath me, I had found temporary employment with a security-guard company.  They had placed me at a St. Joseph’s Hospital as a glorified ‘Lollipop Lady’ crossing guard.  I didn’t even get to wear an orange, don’t-run-me-down vest.

The hospital had two, parallel, one-way driveways down one side.  Traffic came in on one, swung around past Receiving and the kitchens, and exited on the other.  Work on water mains had them alternatively dug up for about a week.

We stationed a guard at the front and the back, with portable radios.  If a vehicle came in, the guard at the back held any outgoing traffic until the single lane was clear, and vice versa.  Out of sight of any street traffic, the guard at the back could rest in a lawn chair until called.  We alternated every hour….until the Mother Superior looked out the window, and decided that that wasn’t fair, and decreed that no-one could rest.

It was especially busy late in the morning, because they had a Meals On Wheels program.  Civilian volunteers picked up a few meals each and delivered them.  We wouldn’t want them smashing into each other, and spilling all that delicious hospital food.

As Halloween approached, and I still hadn’t found suitable employment, the scheduler asked me if I would consider patrolling a graveyard, from 6PM till 2AM that night to prevent any vandalism or skullduggery.

The hospital sat in the middle of a long stretch of main road that didn’t have any cross-streets.  The Catholic cemetery behind the hospital (where the doctors buried their mistakes) extended back to the next road.  Two pedestrian-access walkways converged through it in a V, toward the hospital.

Another guard and I followed each other around the block-long legs of the triangle.  It never occurred to us to patrol in opposite directions, to stop and talk, and compare notes occasionally.  All went well for the first couple of hours – until the sun set.

That’s when we discovered that there were no street lights on the adjoining road, no light-posts within the cemetery, and no lights between the hospital and the cemetery.  It was a typical cloudy Halloween night…. it was pitch-black DARK back there, and nobody thought to give us flashlights.

At about 9:30, I had emerged from one of the exits, and was walking toward the other, when I saw three 15/16-year-old males enter ahead of me.  While it was light, I had found a two-foot piece of 1½ inch PVC electrical conduit on the path – a tripping hazard, especially in the dark, so I picked it up, and was carrying it, just in case.

I could hear them walking, and conversing, a hundred feet ahead of me in the Stygian gloom, although I couldn’t make out the words.  Then it got quiet.  Often, that’s not a good thing.  Suddenly, something smacked into the gravestone beside me.  Something whizzed past my ear.  Something struck the grass beside me!  Holy Crap, those little f**kers are throwing things at me.

I ducked behind a nearby gravestone, and the barrage continued.  Something bounced off the gravestone beside me.  I felt around in the dark, and found a pulped crab apple.  CLANG!  That wasn’t a crab apple that hit my cover.  More crab apples, splat, whiz, then, another CLANG off the tombstone next to me.  The moon, through a slight rift in the clouds, revealed a sharp stone, as big as a golf ball.

What in Hell am I going to do??!  We don’t have our traffic-directing radios, and if this keeps up, my fellow-guard is going to walk around the corner any moment, right into the middle of this.

“It’s okay, Bobby.  You can come out now.  We won’t throw anything else at you.”  I’m not Bobby!  “Who the hell are you?”  I’m the security guard who’s supposed to keep you from damaging anything.  Are you idiots??!  Throwing crab apples is dangerous enough, but throwing rocks at someone you can’t see, or identify – in the dark….  You could blind or kill someone!  “Sorry, we didn’t think.”  Said every teenage boy ever, just before he qualified for the Darwin Award.

Patrolling a graveyard on Halloween is an…. interesting task.  Ghosts and ghouls don’t exist, so they’re no problem.  It’s the live ones who cause all the troubles.  😯

Jack O Lantern

Happy Halloween!  Trick or Treat.  😀

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Winter Vacation – Part II

We each got a couple of hours nap Friday afternoon, but both our sleep schedules were F..ouled up.  Son wants to hit the hay at 11 PM – I still want to read a newspaper and do a crossword.  Can’t do that in the room, so I take my stuff and go over to sit in the lobby, only to find it locked.  I eventually located a second vending machine room with only an ice machine…and a nice little bench, ta-da!

Afternoon clerk Stephanie was white. Now I get to meet and speak with Miss Annie, an impressive, older Negro lady.  Even older than me, she’s 72.  The clerk at the Taylor motel has been there 27 years.  Miss Annie has been here over 30, and finally plans to retire near the end of this year.  Nice lady, but she don’t take no shit.  I also met and talked with Mark, the armed Negro security guard.  Tough neighborhood, remember?

While we were conversating, a young man walked in, and said, “I want a room for the night.”  I’m sorry sir, we’re all full.  But I have a reservation.  What’s your name sir?  Xxx Yyy!  I’m sorry sir; I can’t find a reservation in that name.  He pulled out a tiny scrap of paper, and said, “Here’s my confirmation number.”  Well, ya coulda led off with that, and your name, instead of just asking for a room.

I print the entire page and present it to the clerks, because it gives every last iota of needed information.  I’m sorry sir; I can’t find a reservation here under that number; are you sure it’s correct?  I’m very sure; check again.  She tapped away for a few seconds, and finally told him, Yes sir, you do have a reservation – at the Plymouth Red Roof, 25 miles from here.  And he was sober – maybe just a brain freeze.

I spent a few dollars extra to get a room with a microwave and fridge.  After boring myself sleepy, I returned to the room – and bed, only to find that the fridge has a loud annoying buzz when it runs.  Woke us up two or three times during the night.  The second night I unplugged it, and we both slept much better.

Up at 8, we both had toast and juice, and I made myself a hot chocolate to take with me in a thermos, to the show.  I went over to the office to add some of their coffee, to make a mocha, and met Aletha, another young Negro gal.  Never met a stranger.  The only clerk we missed was Brian, because he doesn’t work weekends.

I-696 to the show venue ran right behind the motel.  Getting on was almost as easy as falling out of the parking lot.  I remembered to take the camera.  Signs on the front doors insisted, “No outside food or drink!”  I slipped the hot chocolate into my inside jacket pocket, and didn’t sip till I was way back at the back, where no officials could see.

I was irked by the fact that every second vendor had a Dunkin Donuts coffee, or Starbucks, or hotel coffee in a thermos.  I saw one guy making a roast beef and cheese sandwich, but I can’t bring in food or drink?  The WTF factor is going up.

Last year I could access my blog from computers in the entryway, but this year they were locked out, to access only the Center’s site.  After paying, and entering the display hall, I was faced with a sign that said, “No cameras allowed without the permission of the show manager.”  I left mine in my shirt pocket.

Halfway around, I met a woman waving her cell phone camera.  Some of the dealers threw a little impromptu birthday party for a compatriot, and everybody got a picture taken.  I just got the sign….and rising blood pressure again.

One of the knife dealers explained that the anti-gun nuts come to shows and take photos of the plethora of firearms and publish them as “proof” that we’re all going to die in a gigantic shoot-out.  If I had asked the show manager, I would probably have been allowed to take pics, although some gun vendors have table signs which insist, “No Photos!”

There were even fewer hand-made knives, and more “rusty jackknives.”  I took photos of all the interesting knife collections last year, so I didn’t use the camera.  I think we’ve had it with this show.  Unless we can find a show in Zanesville or Cincinnati, I think the wife and I will wait for good weather and just go to Detroit for shopping and a getaway.

It snowed on the way to the venue, and while we were there.  As we were leaving, it was changing to freezing rain.  I’m maybe a bit better at driving in that shit, but the 25 mile trip back was interesting.  One guy just fell off the road and tangled with an overpass support, ripping off his rear bumper, and throwing the back wheel across the freeway.

Since we didn’t want any of the over-priced, captive-audience, crap food at the venue, we stopped at a McDonald’s on the way home.  My bill ended in 43 cents – and I still had that 42 cents left from yesterday.  I picked a penny up off the counter that the previous customer didn’t take, and my pocket was now completely empty.

And then I leaned down and picked a penny off the floor – and went back to the motel and sat on the bed, and picked up a penny beside the other bed.  Later that night, when I went for another walk, I was telling Mark, in the vending room, about keeping my eyes open, and picked a dime off the floor.

The next day, at a Meijer’s store I found a quarter and a penny on a self-checkout bagging platform, and later used my knife to pry a nickel out of a 25 cent gumball machine.  The reason it was there may have been because it was Canadian, but the pocket’s getting heavy again.  Somewhere I picked up a brass game token.  I wonder if the son remembers where.  I don’t.

After another nap, we decided to go out for supper.  While we didn’t want to eat there, the wife had requested a blooming onion from Outback, so we started there.  I had researched online maps, and driving instructions, including Google Street-view.  Son fed the address into Miss GPS and got, “Accessing satellites….accessing satellites…. cannot access satellites.”  Oh, yeah.  Snow/rain storm.  We found it the old-fashioned way, by looking.

Tomorrow we’re going to, not one, but two, Trade Centers.  Anybody want to come along?  I’ll buy a hot pretzel, with mustard.

I Thought About Thinking

On Sunday, Oct. 20, I took the son and daughter, and we headed to downtown Kitchener for the monthly Free Thinkers luncheon.  This was the last day of Oktoberfest, so most of the tourist drunkaholics were either on their way home, or still in holding cells.

The first thing I learned about hotels on that first trip to Detroit was that they change names all the time.  We arose the next morning and went looking for the big hotel where the knife show was.  I drove past the place four times, from each direction, before pulling into a gas station, and asking for directions.  “Oh, it’s that one right over there.  They just got bought by a different chain last month.”

Thirty years old, our Kitchener Hotel (and Convention Center) is on its 6th name, and that one is just a placeholder till they complete renovations and hang out yet another shingle.  During my period of   un(der)employment, 25 years ago, I worked as a security guard there for a year.  Back before either the wife or daughter became mobility-impaired, I didn’t notice its access shortcomings.

The front entrance has a drive-through area, and elevators are just inside.  However, if you go up the small hill, to get to the parking structure entrance off the side street, that level brings you to a spot where you must either climb up a stairway, to a door which is often locked, or down a stairway, out and down a step, across an alley, and back up 8 steps.  Not really any more accessible than the current choice.

As the group started arriving at the room we had been promised, we found that the booking clerk hadn’t told the floor manager that we were coming.  Already busy with hotel guests and walk-ins, he had to quickly unlock the room, get tables and chairs arranged, brew and deliver coffee, provide sugar, creamers, cups, spoons, water pitchers, glasses, etc.  Not a propitious beginning.

No a-la-carte was available.  $10 got you a self-serve Continental Breakfast of three cold cereals, juice and fruit.  $12.50 also let you go to the hot(?) table with bacon, sausage, potato patties, scrambled eggs with cheese, oatmeal, and toast.  There was a little pizza-oven type toaster.  Feed bread in, let it wend its merry way, and it slid out the bottom, almost-brown.  I put my two pieces back in for a second run to darken it, and stepped over to get some eggs.  When I got back, some hotel guest had taken my toast.

One of the members is an unmarried young male trucker.  He’s eaten in a lot of establishments.  He complained of a cold breakfast at another restaurant, and the manager ripped up his bill.  When he complained to this maitre d’, the man held his hand over the lukewarm food, insisted that it wasn’t cold and claimed that no-one else had complained.

One table for eight was full when we arrived, so we sat at another.  Since we’re not members, when the rest arrived, they all sat at different tables, and talked among themselves.  Finally, toward the end, we convinced a couple of folk to join us.  Both the group, and the son, are willing to give it one more chance.

I recently published some uncomplimentary “religious thoughts.”  This was probably, at least in part, a reaction to some of the, “We don’t care about the laws, or your rights!  We’re Good Christians!” stories I heard at the meeting.

The Atheist parents of a GRADE THREE girl in Niagara Falls, not only would not sign the release form for her to be given a Gideons’ Bible, they refused to allow her to hand them out to the rest of her class.  The school called them in for a meeting, and the teacher, the principal, and a rep from the local school board interrogated them, as to why not.

They submitted a request that this school district cease passing out Bibles, to the exclusion of any other belief system, and, of course, were turned down.  They took it to mediation, and the government official ruled that the board either had to cease distributing Bibles, or allow other printed matter to be handed out.

The Board refused to stop the supply of Bibles.  With the help of the Humanist Association, they delivered a pile of Good Without God pamphlets, but the board refused to distribute them.  They have now instituted a lawsuit to force the board to obey, one way or the other.

A Humanist woman in the city of Peterborough, requested that the council not begin each session with a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. Having filed her form, she contacted our local chapter president, and asked if she should proceed through mediation, or legal arbitration.  His answer was that, she might win at mediation, but, like above, it didn’t set a legal precedent.

She emailed him back the next day, saying that the matter was taken out of her hands when the city lawyer filed for arbitration.  My cynical old (lack of) soul says that, in both cases, the bureaucrats know what the law is, and what the final result will be, but are holding out till the last minute to look good to the Christian majority.

Like the removal of the Lord’s Prayer (only) from schools, because they wouldn’t play nicely with others, and share, they’ll be able to point to the Godless government and the Atheists, and say, “It’s all their fault.  We were forced into it.”

Safety Patrol

When I needed to go to elementary school, the school building was too small.  There were eight rooms.  I’d have thought that grades 1 through 8 would have fit nicely.  A couple of the rooms must have been used for music or other training.  My grade 1 class was in what was known as the band-room, in the town hall, two blocks from the school.  The town band had practiced there and the town council had used it for meetings and weekly bingo games.

Back then, a grade 8 education was considered adequate, with many students getting jobs on nearby farms, or in one of the four factories in town.  The eight-room high school was under-utilized.  My grade 2 was in the high school building, next to the elementary, with rowdy teen-age boys running us down.

In grade 3, I finally moved into the “proper” building.  A steel bar had been installed from the ceiling to half-way down the rail of the front stairway, to prevent boys from sliding down the banister.  The building is now part of the Bruce County Museum, and there is a note at the top of the stairs.  You can stand at the top and sight down a 3/4 inch deep groove in the treads, on the rail side, caused by boys dragging their feet, as they slid down.

Grade 4 was across the hall.  The first day back after the Easter vacation, we all picked up our desks, and marched across the playground to our home in a freshly finished new school building, which now included a Kindergarten.

Forward-thinking for 1954, one of the new things established, was a safety patrol.  Four or five students from both grade 7 and 8 were chosen to help safeguard the welfare of the other children.  They had to be level-headed, somewhat of a leader, and of sufficiently high academic standing.  School hours were from 9 till noon, and 1:30 to 4.  The Safety Patrols were allowed to leave fifteen minutes early to go to their assigned intersections, and were expected to stay until all students had passed on their way back to school, so they might be a bit late.

The Patrol Officers (ooh, that sounded important) were given a bright-white waist/chest belt combo, with a shiny shield clipped to it.  There were no lollipop paddles or blocking a street for children crossing.  Cars had the right-of-way.  Patrol Officers stood at various nearby corners and watched for cars.  If an oncoming auto was spotted, they were to raise their arms, and students were expected to wait till the arms were lowered, to cross safely.

As I came through grades 5 and 6, I kinda thought I might enjoy the prestige of being a Safety Patrol, but I didn’t hold my breath.   When I entered grade 7, I was not surprised when I wasn’t tapped for the job, but about the end of September, I was surprised when the Assistant Principal told me I was in.  Apparently Miss Safety Patrol couldn’t fulfill her duties and I was the first runner-up.

Not only did I get the sparkly white Sam Browne belt and shiny badge, I got a book of summonses.  I could write tickets.  If I saw things like fighting, bullying, running out into the street, throwing sticks, stones or snowballs, I could hand out a ticket.  I gave the duplicate stubs to the Asst. Principal, and the offending student had a week to report voluntarily, to get a lecture and warning.  I had to issue one to myself.  The kindergarteners and Grade ones were let out the same fifteen minutes early, to keep them from being buffeted by the older grades.

I was nearing my assigned corner and thought I’d toss a snowball at a post.  I missed the post, but hit a Grade 1 girl in the face, when she suddenly ran up and dashed around the corner.  I got my lecture, and an explanation of why not to throw snowballs.  I also had to go to her house and apologise to her and her mother.

The next year, I was assigned a more dangerous intersection on the highway.  There was a Grade 1 girl who I was supposed to escort to the corner, and assure she crossed safely.  I guess I didn’t exude enough authority.  She would not walk with me, insisting on running ahead, and crossing on her own.  The street we took was in full view of several classrooms, and I was often spotted running after her.

The Asst. Principal called me in for a talk, and I thought I might be chastised, but he just told me that he was aware of her behavior problem and had a talk with her.  From then on she held my hand and behaved well.

Child Safety Patrol Officer to adult Security Guard, that’s about the extent of my social powers.  The recognition is nice, but I’m too much of a loner and free-thinker to want to control others.  Although, if I could get one of Paul Blart’s Segways, I might want to patrol a mall.

Commerce House

During the period from 1982 to 1985, I was unemployed and underemployed.  For over a year, I worked as a security guard at a ten-storey office building downtown.  Technically, I didn’t.  I had applied for work with a cleaning service.  They had the contract for the owners’ common areas, as well as several of the clients located in the building.

Building management wanted someone to answer the phone and watch the front lobby and underground parking area, keep the wrong ones out, let the right ones in and out, from when the building officially closed at 5 PM, till it reopened at 7 AM.  Only licensed Security Guard companies may legally do that, so I was on the books as a cleaner.  The only *cleaning* I ever did, was take the power buffer to the marble floor of the entranceway, and use paper towels and vinegar to remove handprints from the glass doors, left by people too stunned or lazy to use the push-bars.

At first I worked from 5 to 11 PM, but that didn’t give enough hours to support the family.  The old guy who did the eight-hour midnight shift was on Workman’s Compensation.  They guaranteed him a given sum each week, and topped up his earnings, to reach that figure.  I convinced him to take the six-hour evening shift and sleep with his wife, while I stayed awake all night.

The building sat sideways into a hill.  There were ten steps up to a landing, then ten more up to the front door.  The entrance to the underground garage was even further down, and invisible from the lobby.  Authorised parkers had swipe cards which would roll up the gate.  Unless you were listening carefully, you weren’t aware of folks entering or leaving that way.

People came into the building at the oddest times.  I was shocked several times making a walk through the three underground levels at four in the morning, and suddenly running into someone.  There was a group of six or eight teenagers who used to hang around the church property directly across the street.  If someone used their card to enter, it was easy to dash across the street and get in before the door rolled back down.

The old guy told me that he had found some of them a few times, drinking, smoking dope and screwing downstairs.  He carried a two-foot length of lead pipe and suggested I do the same.  He was older than me and lead piping had been outlawed, so I got 20 inches off the top of a broken, solid ash, rake handle.  I still have that little billy-club at the house, *just in case*.

There was a bank on one half of the main floor, and the Employment Office on the other.  Even working the midnight shift, I got to meet some interesting people.  The Employment Office didn’t open till nine, but there was one lady who came in before I left at seven.  Other than getting the coffee started, I’m not sure what she did for those two hours.

We often talked, and I got to know about her husband and teenage daughter.  One day she told me, “I bought a horse, and didn’t tell my husband.”  You what?!  Her daughter loved to ride, so, instead of paying rental fees, she bought a damned horse.  Where are you going to keep it, in your garage?  Oh no, she had a stable all picked out.  All she had to do was pay the monthly stall fee without the husband noticing.

My son was still going to high school.  A couple of times he accompanied me for a Friday night shift, to have some father/son time.  The first time he did, he found that staying up 24 hours was a bit much.  At about six-thirty AM, he curled up on the marble floor behind the guard’s desk, and went to sleep.  It was on one of these nights that he *won* a radio DJ’s contest, and got to meet him in person for breakfast.

A ten-storey building, at the top of one of the higher hills in town gave a grand view from the roof.  We used to go up in the middle of the night and look around.  You could see almost five miles in all directions.  We used to watch all the little people, the drunks going home from the clubs, and the taxis, police cars, ambulances and fire trucks.  A clear day would bring a magnificent dawn, first the false dawn, as the sky began to brighten.  Then the sun would peek over the eastern horizon and wash everything with a lush golden glow.

If you’ve read my *water guns and pony bikes* story, you already know I’m still just a big kid.  We had to know what happens when you drop stuff from over a hundred feet up.  We didn’t want a safety hazard, so no glass.  An empty plastic water bottle just whirls away in the inevitable wind currents.  A full one splits and spews rewardingly.  A pop can, filled with water and carefully dropped vertically, crushes the bottom a bit and just sits there.

One time, we found a ball of string.  The building is sealed.  None of the windows open.  We filled a Coke can with water, threaded the string through the tab, and lowered it on a big loop, down to the eighth floor.  There was about a two-inch ledge outside the windows.  We carefully swung it in and dropped it on the ledge, and even more carefully pulled the loop of string back though the tab.  Let the office workers figure how a Coke can got outside their office, eight stories up.  Eventually the water would evaporate, and the can blow away.  Ah, the cerebral adventures.

Since I’ve had this post in my drafts file for a while, I’d just like to add a wish for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the lovely people who have visited, followed, read and commented on my site in the last year.

Segway

I’ve recently read no less than three articles where the word segue was incorrectly used/spelled, because a writer, trying to appear erudite, had no idea what he was writing.  The word, pronounced, Seg – Way, reminded me of the Segway scooter, the two-wheeled person mover, which balances on its tiptoes, by means of gyroscopes.  The company is located near H. E. Ellis’ pile of tires in New Hampster.

On their website, the company brags about being green because Segways produce no emissions, and shows a picture of a wind turbine, but most people plug it in to recharge from an electrical outlet supplied by a sulphur-laced coal-burning power plant.  They also list Segway racing.  I wondered how you hop up a Segway, until I found that they were sponsoring BMX motorcycle races.

When these things first appeared, almost 11 years ago, there were people who touted them as a game changer.  They were to completely revolutionise the personal transportation scene.  These cheerleader types were what I like to refer to as seriously demented.  These things cost almost $4,000.  For that kind of money, you can get a decent-sized second-hand automobile which will carry four people at sixty MPH, enclosed and protected from the weather.

The only places where they are bought and used, is at companies with large, sprawling buildings, and malls.  If you’ve seen Kevin James, in Paul Blart – Mall Cop, you have my sympathy and pity.  If you send me a stamped, self-addressed postcard, I will send you, absolutely free, your choice of either two tickets to his new movie, Zookeeper, or enough IQ points to get you up to being able to watch Lethal Weapon or Rush Hour movies.

The automotive Big Three try to bully their suppliers into using single-floor plants.  It obviates many potential problems of moving parts from floor to floor in case of power failure, or other emergencies.  My company’s Plant II, which they sold, was one floor.  Despite the Jeep plant in Toledo being five stories high, Chrysler urged our management to move to a single-floor facility.

Plants like that often use golf carts for management to get around.  They cost about as much as a Segway, but again, will carry up to four people and/or freight, move faster, and you ride sitting down.  Some buildings are so crowded with machinery or stored goods that golf carts are not useful.

I did two weeks of Monday to Friday, midnight security in a building where furniture for Electrohome was made, stereo and TV cabinets, as well as easy chairs and footstools.  They had a boiler in the plant which required a 24/7 rotation of Stationary Engineers, but for the two-week summer shut-down period, the place was empty, therefore, security guards.

To make the hourly security patrol around the vast, winding pedestrian walkway on foot would have taken almost an hour, and then it would be time to do it again, with no-one to answer the phone or watch the doors.  For the supervisors, they provided three or four pony-bikes.  Remember them?  Small bikes, banana seats, back wheel larger than the front, protruding, chopper-style steering!  I suppose it would have been possible to roll Segways around the twisty, narrow walkways, if they’d been available back then.  I did it with the pony bike.

My then teen-age son accompanied me for a couple of midnight shifts.  Like the big kids we both were, we brought along water pistols, and rode around trying to hit different targets on the fly.  We each earned a compliment from the other.  I have taken almost 350 hours of gun handling/safety training.  Despite playing with “only water-pistols” I controlled the muzzle, and never pointed it at anything I didn’t intend to shoot.  The son lauded me for that, and I returned the praise for having noticed, and learning to do the same.

The furniture moved from department to department on roller conveyors, 30 inches off the floor, some of them powered.  In the shipping department there was a roller ramp, where the pallets/boxes rolled down to the floor.  The second night the son came with me, I rolled into the shipping department on my little pony bike, with him right behind me.  I saw that roller ramp, and silliness ensued.  I rode my bike right up the ramp, and onto the conveyor system, and he followed me.

Soon, we were making the security rounds by riding on the rollers.  The bikes were short enough that any balance problems could be immediately solved, just by putting feet on the conveyor side rails, but that never happened.  You had to maintain modest, steady acceleration.  A sudden powerful push on the pedals produced a short stretch of wildly spinning rollers. I bet you can’t do that with a Segway.

You’re only young once, but you can be immature forever.  A big part of security work is boredom, and how to combat it.  The employer hopes that as much energy and attention as possible is directed toward actual security of the facility, but, ya gotta have a little fun sometimes.  My son also accompanied me on a Friday night shift in a small-town, where they had an arena full of expensive boats for a weekend boat-show, and a broken lock on the back door.

For obvious reasons they didn’t give us the key to the refreshment stand area, but there were chairs inside, as well as paper cups and ice we wished to use for soft drinks we brought along.  Two curious monkeys investigated the stand.  I found one way in at the same time the son found a different way.  When two of the organizers staggered walked in around 2 AM, after closing a bar, we immediately waved to them.

After being asked, we pointed out the soft spots.  One could be fixed by having personnel reminded to lock the steel roll-down.  The other was a hole in a concrete wall, where they had inserted an easily moved popcorn machine.  Not so easily remedied.  Fix the damned lock on the back door!

Heading North

This is a follow-up post to my Goin’ South blog, about the first time I drove to Florida with my brother.  Before I make the big U-turn and head back, there were a few later-remembered details about the trip down, and the stay, that I thought I’d present.

The first two occurred in/near Toledo, Ohio.  First, I had worked for over seven years making parts for Jeeps.  The Jeep plant is just off I-75, and can be seen clearly from the highway.  It’s an old plant, parts of which are five floors tall.  On the roof of the building, they display three or four different models, one of which is sitting on its ass at a 45 degree slant, looking like it’s climbing an elevator housing.

The I-75 bypass runs down the west side of Toledo, then across the southern edge.  Just as it makes the big turn to the south again, across the highway sits the largest Muslim mosque in the United States.  The huge white building, with its gold-colored dome is very impressive.

We shared the driving.  Rest areas on the highway are about forty miles apart.  One of us would drive, and stop at every third rest area.  Since we drove at 110/120 KmH, which is 65/70 MPH, the hundred and twenty miles took us about two hours.  Then we’d pull in, jump out, stretch and walk to the washrooms, get something to drink, trade drivers and be on the road again in about five minutes.

All the way down I-75, at every rest area we stopped at, the men’s washrooms were on the left, and the women’s were on the right.  I believe it was at the welcome center near the Georgia border.  We pulled in and, since I was passenger, I got to the washrooms first.  I plunged through the left door, and it took me several seconds to wonder why there were no urinals.  I backed out quickly.  Fortunately there were no female customers or a security guard to explain why I was in the women’s washroom, to, at four in the morning.

While in Florida, we went to Kissimmee, where there is a huge flea market under roofs.  I bought a copy of the floating bill trick, at a magic shop for my son.  The flea market was across the road and just down the street from a Medieval Times dinner/show.  Apparently it’s not there anymore, but there is one in Toronto, a little over an hour down the highway.

We also went to a place called Olde Towne, in Orlando.  It’s a tourist cash siphon with period restaurants and cars on display, as well as a plethora of little shops selling trinkets of all types.  This was the first place I had ever seen a shop selling semi-precious stones, so I bought some and some holders, for the wife.  These shops have since made their way into Canada.  There’s one up at the farmer’s market.  The son has thirteen different carved stone skulls, from thumb-tip sized, to golf-ball.

I had won a contest in a knife magazine, and received a hand-made knife from a maker in Orlando.  In my thank-you letter to him, I said that, if I were ever near him, I would stop in to visit.  Here was my first chance.  I borrowed the van and drove into the city.  I missed an exit on a toll-road and had to pay an unnecessary charge, both going, and coming back.  We spent a nice morning.  I saw his neighbor’s mint Corvair.  He had a map, with pins, of all the people he had sold knives to.  Not knowing anything about Ontario, he had my pin in the muskeg, somewhere just off Hudson’s Bay, so I correctly placed it for him.

We left to go home on the next Saturday morning.  Early!  I had provided a Koolatron, an insulated chest with an electrical heat exchange unit for keeping things cold.  It could plug into a cigarette lighter, and had an adapter for in-home use.  We prechilled it Friday and took it out and plugged it into the van Friday evening.  We were up at five AM, finished closing up the trailer, and were ready to hit the road by five-thirty.  And the Koolatron had killed the ten-year-old battery.

Now what do we do?  He complained that “the old folks” in the park slept in, sometimes till seven-thirty or eight o’clock.  While we were still thinking about who to wake up, and when, a young man in his late teens came around delivering newspapers.  At first I thought it was SightnBytes’ rusty Corolla, but it was a beat-up red Datsun.  We waved him down and he had jumper cables and agreed to help start the van.  At last we were on our way home.  An hour *late*, but moving north.

The trip back was just like the drive down, only without a visit to a women’s washroom, and still no mountain scenery.  Three years in a row I made this trip, and six times I missed the Appalachians because they were always in the night portion of our trips.  I had to wait a couple more years till I could afford to take the wife to South Carolina, to see the wonders of the mountains.  He and I had a late supper at a seafood restaurant near Mount Airie, where Andy Griffith lived, 3500 feet up and two hundred miles from the ocean.  I remembered it and took an appreciative, seafood-loving wife there five years later.

This was my first long driving trip, and I found I liked it.  I became a bit of a map-nut from studying the road-atlas, to see where we were.  I now have two road-atlases and two hardcover atlases at home and often look up exactly where a newspaper story occurred.

P.S.

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