Helicopter Parents

Helicopter

Helicopter parents, stop hovering and come in for a landing.  You’re not doing your children any good.

After a bit of anecdotal research, a local community service group is organizing Basic Life Skills seminars for youngsters this summer.  Parents who do everything for their children forget that they’ve never taught the kids how to do things for themselves.

A smart and accomplished 17-year-old neighbor did not know how to use a can opener.  An otherwise bright 15-year-old nephew tried to microwave a plate of spaghetti, with a fork in it.  A female Uni student singed her eyebrows off, when a baked potato exploded in her face.  She thought that the fork holes that her mother put in them were just for decoration.

One young lad used the dining room table as a makeshift bench, to cut a piece of wood, forgetting that, in cutting the board, he would also cut off a giant slice of the table.  His sister once called her dad to ask how she would know when water on the stove was boiling.  He hung up on her.

Courses will include
How To Iron Clothes.  Turns out that there’s more than one way to mess this up.  One college lad tried ironing his shirt while he was wearing it.  Another used the new couch as an impromptu ironing board, and melted the foam in two of the cushions.

How to set a table properly:  Also, how to wash dishes by hand, and load and unload the dishwasher – and what soap to use.  One woman says that a couple of college interns at her work have poured dishwashing detergent into the dishwasher.  “Bubble for miles!”

How to use a paper map:  One woman was driving her son across town to a soccer meet, when both their cell phones died.  They dug a street map out of the glove compartment and, with a little help from her, managed to get where they were going.

How to order food (like pizza) using a landline phone:  This will ensure that they know how to use the land line, how to politely order something over the phone, and how to interact with a delivery person, and calculate a tip.

How to mow the lawn:  Also how to identify/pull weeds, and plant/water flowers.

How to do the Heimlich on yourself:  There is nothing scarier than choking while you’re alone.

How to cut up common fruits and veggies:  And how to do it without requiring medical attention.  This course goes over basic knife skills – also, how to wash fruit and vegetables properly.

How to shop for groceries:  How to compare prices, the value of store brands, how to choose fresh produce, how to interact politely with a cashier, and how to bag the groceries without crushing the bread.  One woman waits in her car, and sends the kids in with money, and a list.

How to write – and mail – a thank-you note:  What to write beyond, “Thank you for the ______.”  How to address the envelope properly, write the return address, stamp it and mail it.  One office manager says she has college-aged interns who don’t know where to put the stamp.

How to do laundry:  What to wash in hot or cold, where to put the detergent, the magic of drying things slightly, then hanging them up (no ironing), how to fold clothes for a trip.  A young woman who moved to Arizona to attend University, was so befuddled by laundry, that she shipped it home – to Minnesota – by train.

If you haven’t taught your kids these things, and many others,

How to turn off water to an overflowing toilet
How to plunge said toilet
How to turn off water to an entire house
How to make a few simple meals
How to relax when you can’t sleep
How to be a good guest
How to politely address adults
How to recognise the smell of propane and natural gas, and what to do when you smell it
How to show good etiquette
How to resolve a dispute
How to make an important decision

it’s time that you started.  I’ll be here when you get back.

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Flash Fiction #157

Amazon

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

CURSES, AMAZONED AGAIN

Poor forlorn shopping mall, not long ago, it was visited and loved by many. It was chock-a-block, cheek-by-jowl with teeming throngs of shoppers.  If you felt someone else’s hand in your pocket, it wasn’t a pickpocket.  It was just the guy beside you trying to reach his wallet.

Sadly, times and technologies change. Now, people buy things they can’t feel, hold, try, or try on, online, and little toy helicopters deliver them to your door.  I miss the milling crowds, almost as much as the forlorn mall merchants do.  At least I can get a parking space near the door.

***

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

***

As a personal pat on my own back, today’s 100-word Flash Fiction is my number 900 published blog-post.  I know of a couple of bloggers who have been at this for over 10 years.  At least one of them has surpassed the 2000 mark.  Plod, plod, plod, I am better than the May-flies who flutter in and die after a few posts, or the uncommitted, who post “I know I haven’t published anything in over a year…”

Friday Fictioneers

Lost In The Urban Jungle

Department Store

In my little hometown, in the late 1940s, the selections in the two small, local, independent grocery stores were not great, and low-volume buying and shipping made prices a bit higher than in ‘the big city.’ My Dad suggested that we start driving 25 miles to the ‘giant metropolis’ of 10,000 people, and shop at the Loblaw’s store.

In our little blue-lawed town, stores closed at 6:00 PM, and there was no such thing as Sunday shopping. On Friday nights, the Loblaw’s stayed open until 9:00.  Dad would come home from work at 5, we’d have a quick supper, and be on the road by 6.

It became a routine. The choices were greater.  The lower grocery prices paid for the gas burned, and it was a family adventure.  There might even be enough left over to have some French fries from a ‘chip wagon.’

One warm July Friday night, we rolled up main street. Dad found a parking spot about a half a block from the store, and put a dime in a parking meter for an hour’s stay. Long before the advent of suburban malls, stores were ‘downtown.’

We walked to the Loblaw’s, did our shopping, and checked out, with some time to spare.  In the days of good manners and social restraint, shopping carts were not allowed out of the store onto main street.  All groceries had to be carried.

We had four large paper bags. I was 6 years old, and my brother was three. We weren’t going to carry any.  My Mother tucked two of the lighter ones in the crooks of her elbows, and my Dad hefted the rest.  When we exited the store, there were no hands free to guide us, so my Mom said to me, “You take your brother, and go on ahead to the car.”  So, leading him by the hand, off we set down an un-busy sidewalk.

We got to the (unlocked) car long before they did. In the days before air conditioned stores, the double doors of the store beside the car stood propped open.  Just as I was about to open the car, I heard ‘clickety-click, clickety-click.’  What was that sound?  Dragging him, we stepped over to the store doors and looked and listened.

This was not quite a department store, more like a 5 and 10, five times as big as the tiny Dime Store in my town.  There were sales-clerks in various spots, but no cash registers or money.  They had a something much like a pneumatic tube system, only made out of steel mesh.

All the price tags, and the customers’ money, were put into a 4” X 4” x 6” steel mesh car, with a little electric motor, and pushed into a drop-tube. Clickety-click, clickety-click, up it went, turned at the top, and clickety-click, clickety-click, ran around the store, and up into a cash office on a mezzanine level.  There, a clerk verified all totals, made change, and returned the little car along with a receipt.  An adjustable semaphore determined which station it would drop out at.

This was the sound that I’d heard. We, or at least techno-geek me, stared in awe.  The nearest clerk noticed us, and asked if we’d like to see it again. “Yes please!” She wrote a note that said, “I have two fascinated kids here.  Just return it.” and stuffed it up the tube. Clickety-click, clickety-click, up it went, around the room and up into the office.  Thirty seconds later, clickety-click, back it came.

She wasn’t busy, so she asked, “Wanna do it once more?” “Yes please!” She added, “One more time” to the note and, clickety-click, off it dashed again, like a 1950 slot-car and clickety-click, soon returned and popped out one more time.

Now…. Let’s step outside, and see what this looked like to our parents.  They’d sent two kids half a block on a main street sidewalk, in broad daylight, but when they got to the car, we weren’t there. Where the Hell did the kids go??! Had someone kidnapped us?  Had we got into the wrong car, and inadvertently been driven off?  Were we lost, and wandering the streets?

They quickly stowed the groceries, and began searching. Up and down the street, asking random pedestrians if they’d seen two little boys – back to the Loblaw’s – Dad went one way, Mom went the other.  They finally returned to the car in a panic….and we calmly walked out of the store.  We hadn’t been more than twenty feet away, all the time, but there had been no reason for them to think we’d gone inside.

Too happy, to give me shit, Mom still impressed on me that I should never do such a thing again. And while we weren’t at the car, the dime’s worth of parking had expired, and an eagle-eyed meter maid had given Dad a parking ticket to pay.  No French fries that night.  I didn’t get lost again for 8 years, when I got swept up in another school group touring a Niagara power station, and had to explain to the Principal, why I wasn’t there for our head-count.  😳

 

Cultural Clash

Guy Fawkes

In each minority group, there are always one or more fanatics who can lead themselves, their faction, and society, into trouble. It’s what got Guy Fawkes tortured and executed.

Here in Kitchener, in Toronto, and in many other cities, the (What are they calling themselves today?? Negroes?  Blacks?  Colored?  African- Americans/Canadians?) are upset, and calling for an end to ‘Carding,’ – random stops of people by police, to identify themselves.

Black spokesmen claim that this practice unfairly focuses on people of color, yet statistically, it is ‘people of color’ – usually young black males – who are proven to commit more crimes, especially against other Negroes, than white folks.

The Toronto Police Force has CROs – Community Relations Officers – who hang out in various schools, helping out, coaching or refereeing sports, and generally showing that the Police are ‘good guys’. Black citizens’ representatives demanded that they be removed, because black children felt threatened, harassed and oppressed.  If you don’t do the crime, you won’t do the time.

Black Lives Matter. All lives matter, including the black, and the white, cops who are trying to protect all the population.  In Toronto, a rabble-rousing female spokeswoman for BLM, has high-jacked this year’s Gay Pride Parade.  It’s unclear just how she gained control – perhaps sheer volume.

At first, she and her cabal – and these aren’t even home-grown Negroes; they’re immigrants – demanded that the police not be allowed to march in the parade. After a large public hue and cry of protest, the demand has been modified.  The police may march as a group, but will not be allowed to wear their uniforms – symbols of authority and control.  A similar ‘activist’ has exacted a similar demand in Winnipeg.

I recently took the daughter shopping. I often check out through the ‘12 Items Or Less – Express lane’.  This day, I only had 1 item, but the daughter had 16 or 18.  In all honesty and fairness, we decided to use a regular lane.  Besides the Express, there were only 2 open.  The line from one extended back into the bread department, but the other….  I could see a man at the front with 2 or 3 items.  Behind him were only two women, both like the daughter, with a few items on the bottoms of their carts.

Nearby, jammed against the rack with the gum, candy, and National Enquirers, was another, fully-loaded cart, but no-one around. I motioned at it, and raised an eyebrow.  The daughter shrugged, and we quickly got in line behind the second woman.  The man at the front cashed out.  We moved up.  When the first woman’s items were almost all scanned, the second started to unload her stuff, and we moved up again.

Now, a 20ish black football player showed up and grabbed the cart.  He started to push toward the checkout, and the daughter moved the front of her cart a bit, so that he wouldn’t drive it into her.  When we didn’t move any further than that, he looked at me, pointed to the checkout, and said, “I was there.” I replied, “Yes, you were – then you abandoned your cart, blocking people, and went away, to do some more shopping.”  “I wasn’t shopping. I just went to get some more items.”
“THAT’S SHOPPING!”

“Well, I don’t think I should have to stand and wait. Your wife was going to let me in line”  “She’s my daughter, and she’s handicapped.  She doesn’t want to stand in line and wait for you.  You’re a big, strong, healthy guy, (I pointed at his tree-trunk legs.) you can do it.

“Oh, she’s handicapped?? I didn’t notice.”  The daughter said, “And the big shiny crutch didn’t give you an idea??”, and shook it at him.  Now he tried a different tack. “I’m going to tell you something.” “No shit!  Could I stop you?” “I’m from Jamaica; you know what I’m saying?” “Sometimes!  Vaguely!”  (That went right over his head.)

“You people say, (What people?  White people?) that Canada is a welcoming country, and Canadians are kind and well-mannered, but I see people swearing at the clerk at Tim Horton’s, and arguing with the checkouts here, because there’s a back-up, and they have to wait.” I said, “That’s probably because of guys like you, who butt into line and hold things up.”  Game!  Set!  Match!

What a case of creeping entitlement! If you want to be welcomed by kind, well-mannered Canadians, you gotta show some respect and good manners of your own.  Not all of us are apologising doormats, and some of us do not suffer arrogant fools well.

Poppa Attack

poppa attack

Just to show that procrastination isn’t the only reason that I don’t get accomplished, what I should. Like Mary and her lamb, I love (most) animals, and they love me.  When I stop in at the daughter’s place, I don’t usually sit down.  I get in and out quicker.

The above photo, dark and murky though it may be, shows what happens if I sit in the big recliner chair. Daughter is hosting two short-haired female Chihuahuas for a breeder.  One insists on licking my entire face – could be for the perspiration salt – could be because she really likes me.  The other doesn’t lick faces, but will clean out both of my ears.

The grandson’s German Shepherd-cross never believes that the Chihuahua does my face correctly, and insists on re-licking it. With a much larger tongue, it should take her less time, but if I don’t insist on coming up for air, it could go on all afternoon.  She took out my sapphire ear-stud out one day.  I never noticed, and I’ve never replaced it.

The daughter’s younger male cat, who will not be picked up, has picked up on the fact that I’ve been practicing my petting and skritching at home.  He has settled onto the left side of my lap, while the little female loudly stands below him at my knee.

Not seen, on the sofa to my right, is Benny, the big son to my now-gone Contessa. He was battling a two-ear infection, with partial deafness and vertigo, but still loudly insisted that I reach out to him too.

The daughter sometimes babysits the breeder’s little, male, long-haired Chihuahua, when she’s on a business trip. He will let no man near him, but will run to the daughter when I arrive. She is allowed to pick him up, and hand him off to me.  There, he quickly settles into the crook of my left elbow, and closes his eyes as I stroke him.  He’d probably purr, if he were a cat.

The wife insists that I’m the reincarnation of St. Francis of Assisi. All this adoration is like high-octane gasoline; it fuels my soul.  It de-stresses me, and lowers my blood pressure, though it doesn’t help my memory or concentration.  “Why did I come in here today??  Shopping??!  What for?  What time is it?  What day is this?”   😕

A To Z – History And Hi-Way Market

Challenge2017   Letter H

About 125 years ago, just at the turn of the 20th Century, in the heyday of Ontario manufacturing, Kitchener was not yet a city.  It was still a town, a booming, industrial town, full of Germanic Mennonites and Pennsylvania Dutch, called Berlin.

A bit over a mile (a long way in those days) north of ‘City Hall’, toward Waterloo our Twin City, two companies were established, and two buildings were erected. The nearest was Kaufman Footwear, making slippers, shoes and boots.  A square, three-storey structure went up.  Over the next 50 years, three more additions produced a plant a half a block wide and a city block long, right where the main street crossed the old highway.  At its height, it employed hundreds of men (and later women).

I applied for a job as a lab assistant in 1965, when I first came here, but was turned down. I worked for Kaufman for two years, 25 years later, after they’d moved storage and most of the manufacturing to a new plant at the edge of town.

Another block further north, a rubber company was formed. This was the plant I retired from.  It began as Merchant’s Rubber, then became Dominion Rubber, then Uniroyal bought it, and later amalgamated to become Goodrich/Uniroyal, though it never produced tires.

The asshole brother-in-law worked there for almost 25 years. After he left, I joined it as Becker’s Lay-Tech, then it became Perstorp Components, and finally, Collins and Aikman drove it and its sister plant down the street where my brother worked for Dominion Textile in 1965/66, into bankruptcy.  During its Uniroyal heyday, there were 3600 people working around three shifts.  It didn’t grow as neatly as Kaufman.  Over 50 years there were 13 ‘buildings’ which became another half-block wide X block-long X 4-storey plant.

A mile further north, in the open fields and meadows between the two cities, dozens – hundreds – of stout little homes were built to house all the men who walked or biked to work at these plants. The wife was born in a sturdy brick house, three doors north of the imaginary boundary of Waterloo.

This neighborhood was once called the North Ward, home to the blue-collar families who worked in these factories. The North Ward is slipping away.  The area is called Mid-Town now, and it’s the up-and-coming place for young professionals to move to.

Of course, not everyone in the subdivision could be a mindless plant drone. Her father built a barber shop a block and a half from the Uniroyal plant, and raised 9 kids by cutting hair for men going to or from work.

Two nearby young brothers tried plant work, but found they were more interested in installing and adjusting machinery, so they started a millwrighting/rigging firm in their dad’s garage, to service the two firms. Years later they built a facility further out of town than the Kaufman plant.

I worked for them for two years, and the engineer down the hall, was the guy who didn’t hire me at Kaufman. The structure is now the plastics plant where the son works, and they rent warehouse/assembly space at the nearby ex-Kaufman building, where I once cut shoe/boot parts.

The man whose Portuguese wife sent him to work with delicious sandwiches, started providing them for a friend – or two – or more – soon dozens. He quit the company and started his own catering business, eventually stocking the vending machines, and running the three-shift, hot meal cafeteria in the plant he no longer worked at.

The greatest success story was the local grocer. He also couldn’t take the plant work, but had an inspiration.  If it was a mile walk for the men to go to work, it was a lot further trudge, dragging children, to go shopping.

He turned his front living-room into a little ‘corner store’, when such a thing didn’t exist locally, and stocked it with the essentials. GENIUS!  He had a captive audience.  Soon, he expanded the ‘living-room,’ and then added on….and added on again.

Then he had another flash of genius. In the late 1950s, more families owned cars, and the rise of shopping malls was beginning.  In order to get around an hours-of-opening bylaw, a mile outside the city limit, he built Hi-Way Market.  In the days of two-lane highways, you could just drive out to the A & W, and turn left across the road.  Today, it’s two exit ramps and an access road.

This was the Costco/Price Club of its day, 20 years before Costco was born. He erected a huge big barn of a building, as big as any Costco.  Like Costco, he sold everything, and much of it in bulk – canned and boxed goods, produce, meat, bakery, clothing, hardware, electrical.  He had a sit-down lunch bar where both the wife and her brother worked, and a postal, and a banking facility.

There were actually two floors, but much of the upstairs was used for storage and staff/administration. He put a photography department up there, which later went independent, and still exists in town.  Aside from the main-floor diner counter, he tried a slightly upscale restaurant upstairs.  It became famous in the region, as The Charcoal Steakhouse.  It built a fancy new home a block further up the street recently, when the original building was torn down.

So much history! So much local commerce emerged from the wife’s neighborhood.  The Kaufman plant is now a preppy downtown condo, and my C&A plant had a tiara added and is home to a bunch of Google gremlins.

Jeep goiing up

And so, the ugly duckling has become a swan.    😉

Google Building

 

COOL

ice

Shortly after the last ice age ended, and the glaciers withdrew, the Neanderthals started to notice that the carcasses of woolly mammoths began to go bad quickly. Soon, many people were looking for an artificial way of producing cold/ice.  Finally, about 1850, using ammonia, some Americans perfected a machine to remove heat.  It only worked on a large scale, but the race to develop a smaller version was soon on.

In 1930, Frigidaire (frigid air – get it?) developed Freon™, and made lighter, safer, cheaper, home-size refrigerators possible.  The chiller-tubes (actually freezer-tubes) were wrapped around a small box at the top of the fridge, to increase the cooling area.  The cold air drifted down to chill items on lower shelves, but anything placed inside the box froze solid.

The makers soon learned to put doors on these boxes. You could put a tray of ice cubes in, but there wasn’t much more room than would take a modern cell phone.  Housewives still relied on regular trips to the butcher or grocery store.

This technology didn’t drift north into Canada very quickly. Possibly Americans felt we still had enough ice to keep us going.  My parents relied on an icebox until after 1950.  Too young to notice, I don’t know how or where we stored meat for daily meals.

One of the businesses on the main street was a lumber store, with saws and planers and sanders. The little office at the front did not require the full store width.  In an attempt to increase his income, the owner had one of the big refrigeration units installed, forming a large, walk-in freezer. He installed various-sized lockers, and rented them out.

Of course, only the more well-to-do in town could afford this service – to pay for the locker, and afford to buy and have butchered, a side of beef, half a pig, or a dozen chickens. As a young child, wandering the main street, through the big front window I often saw the ‘Rich Lady’, from the other side of the tracks, entering this strange room, wearing a full fur coat – in the middle of summer.  When I asked my Father, he explained about the rented frozen food storage.

By the time I got old enough to travel to other towns and cities, and look around, refrigerators were equipped with larger freezer compartments.   Both the lumber store and the need for its freezer room had disappeared.  I am not aware of this service anywhere else, but find it difficult to believe that it was unique to my little hometown.  Have any of my (particularly older) readers seen or heard of this service elsewhere?