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.   😳

Flash Fiction #135

Halo Statue

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

I GOT CONNECTIONS

Giancarlo had come to America, the land of promise and opportunity. After several years of hard work, he had saved enough to bring Mama over.

He installed her in a nice apartment, in a safe building which also housed several European widows of similar age. He made sure she had every comfort, and visited her each day.

After almost a month, he asked if there was anything she lacked. She said, “Yes, I wanna Halo Statue.”

They were good Catholics, but he’d never heard of a Halo Statue.

Impatiently, she mimed picking up a telephone, and said, “Halo, ‘stat you?”

***

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

 

You’re Fired!

Fire Truck

A blonde calls the fire department and yells,
“Help me, help me, my house is on fire!”

The chief replies, “Ok, how do we get there?”

The blonde says, “Duh, the big red truck!”

***

An English professor wrote the words,
“woman without her man is a savage”
on the blackboard and directed his
students to punctuate it correctly.

The men wrote:
“Woman, without her man, is a savage.”

The women wrote:
“Woman: Without her, man is a savage.”

***

One day, Bill and Hillary went out to dinner.
The waiter asked Hillary what she wanted. She said,
“I’ll have the steak, well done, potato, chicken
soup…” the waiter asked, “what about the vegetable?”

Hillary said, “Oh, he’ll have the same”.

***

According to my calculations, the problem
doesn’t exist.

***

You know things have gotten bad when you have to
fake your orgasms while masturbating.

***

It has just been discovered that research causes
cancer in rats.

***

She tripped over a cordless phone…

***

A guy walks into a bar – and says ouch!

Two blondes walk into a bar.
You’d think the second one would have noticed.

***

An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow
why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t
happen today.

Laurence J. Peter

***

An old man is on a park bench, crying. A concerned
pedestrian enquires, “Why are you crying?”
Old man: “I just celebrated my 85th birthday,
and I got married yesterday to an 18 year old
nymphomaniac blonde beauty who is all a man
could ask for”.

Pedestrian: “Then why are you crying?”
Old man: “I don’t remember where I live.”

***

A lady came up to me on the street and pointed at
my suede jacket. ‘You know a cow was murdered for
that jacket?’ she sneered. I replied in a
psychotic tone, ‘I didn’t know there were any
witnesses. Now I’ll have to kill you too.”

***

Why is it that when you transport something by car
it’s called a shipment but when you transport
something by ship it’s called cargo?

***

Two hydrogen atoms walk into a bar.
One says, “I think I’ve lost an electron.”

The other says, “Are you sure?”

The first says, “Yes, I’m positive.”

***

A neutron walks into a bar, and asks the bartender,
“How much for a rye and coke?”

The bartender replies, “For you, no charge.”

Archonology – The Next Generation

 

A couple of years ago, I wrote of finding an old English bus ticket from 1942, in an old book. If you didn’t read the post, you’ll have to take my word for it because, despite my impressive filing system, I can’t seem to find it.

Like father – like daughter.  Recently, LadyRyl picked up an old hard-cover book at a Thrift Store.  As she was reading it, out popped an old post card.  Anybody remember them??

Image

Isn’t this darling? And isn’t that pile of concrete impressive?  It has all the architectural magnificence of a Russian tenement.  What a building!  You just know that important stuff happens in there every day.  Stuff like….merchandise marting.  Kind of like the Pentagon of its day.

Image (2)

Here’s the back, where the more interesting, human-interest stuff shows up. It was mailed on Jan. 9, 1946, from Chicago.  Who wants to be in Hell-frozen-over Chicago in January?  Sent home to Grand Rapids, Michigan – a 185 mile, 3-hour drive these days, but probably most of a day, back before Interstates.

It was sent to ‘Bobby’, but the phrase “be a good girl” says that she was Barbara Jane.  It cost a whole penny for the stamp to mail it.  Back before ZIP-codes were even a gleam in a bureaucrat’s eye, it was addressed to Ward (8) in Grand Rapids.

The aunt and uncle senders were Val & Al – too cute for words. I don’t think Big Al had much to do with this piece of mail.  Aunty says she tried to call Bobby’s father, “but the line was busy.”  The entire family seems well enough off to afford a trip to Chicago, and a telephone when most folks didn’t have them.  I’m amazed that the phone was busy.  Without Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, what could they have had to yak about?

It’s not quite as old as my bus ticket, but it’s further before her birth, than mine was for me.  Like me, Ryl is guarding and preserving this piece of historical ephemera.  It speaks quietly from the past, of a society and lifestyle, a little more gracious and courteous, and far less crowded and frenetic than the ‘modern’ one we endure today.

Oh, Grow Up!

Rink

On an irregular basis, the local newspaper allows 500-word articles from members of the Youth Editorial Board. These are intelligent high school students.  I am often impressed with their knowledge of social problems, and their mature suggestions.

I was recently sadly disappointed by a female Catholic student’s rant, titled Complaint About Rink, Masks a Bigger Problem.  A family in this hilly little town had found a large enough flat spot to build a small rink in their front yard.  By-law Enforcement had become aware of it, and the City gave them two weeks to dismantle it.

I share her opinion that Canadian kids are overweight and out of shape, and need all the outdoor exercise they can get. The City has sufficient good reasons to specifically make this behavior illegal, and mentioned several of them in their media release.  To ensure compliance, a possible fine was stated.

Not one to let the facts get in the way of a good story, she went on to paint the family, not as lawbreakers, but as Phys-Ed heroes, and later, as downtrodden victims.

If she built a snowman on her lawn, would someone file a complaint about that too? If it were eight feet high and blocking sightlines at an intersection – Yes!

She felt that vanity(?) was triumphing over enjoyment.  All exercise and fun obtained in a back yard would be just as enjoyable – and less dangerous.

She felt it was unfair that they had to dismantle the illegal structure because just one person filed a complaint. It’s possible that the entire street narc-ed out these people, or that only one did, with the knowledge and support of many others. How dare the City threaten a fine?  It wouldn’t be imposed, if they just obeyed the directive.

The list of weasel-word excuses that she used to rationalize her denigration of the complainant was long and impressive. She listed: intimidation and oppression, lowering self-esteem, verbal and physical abuse, criticism can follow creativity, attack with negative words, victims, power and control, lonely perpetrator craving attention, jealousy, compensating for their own troubles, anger, unfair, bullying, and frustration.

The City’s main stated reason for not allowing this behavior centered around the 14 inch steel tent pegs used to anchor the frame boards. Things like this, driven into the ground, could damage telephone and cable lines, power cables, and water and sewer pipes.  These would not happen if the rink were situated in the back yard.

Not mentioned by the City, were things like wobbly figure skaters or body-checked little hockey players crashing into passing pedestrians and baby carriages, or even worse, onto driveways, as cars pull in or out. Hockey pucks or frozen rubber balls can break windows and dent cars and garage doors.  Kids chasing them into the street can easily be run over.

The midnight-shift worker who tries to sleep during the day would be none too pleased with a noisy crowd of kids beneath his front bedroom window. None of these things have anything to do with vanity or oppression, merely safety and good manners.

Just wait till she gets older, gets married and moves into her own little house in the suburbs, next to a neighbors-from-Hell family like the one she’s currently defending.  The people who casually violate City ordinances about front-yard rinks, do it so that their kids have fun, not so that neighbor kids get exercise.

These same people are the ones who own a dog which is tethered outside 24/7, to bark its head off, or a cat that they let run loose to shit in your carefully tended garden beneath your living room window. They think nothing of having an illegal campfire in their backyard, which fills your house with smoke, and forces you to close all your windows on otherwise lovely days.

They feel entitled to blast loud music from their stereo out through windows and French doors, all day and night, while they throw loud, drunken parties on their deck, or in the pool or hot-tub. Now who’s intimidating, oppressing or bullying?  Ah, the joys of living in the city, there’s one on every block.

When we moved in here, the 10-year old from across the street wanted to play one-on-one street hockey with his friend, using their driveway and ours as ‘goals.’ I told him clearly that I would not allow it.  I didn’t want our car, or the house, dinged and marked, or the work and expensive garden plants wasted and ruined.

We left to go shopping one day and came back to a hockey net blocking our driveway, and the two boys resting on the curb. He jumped up and moved the net – the first time. I repeated that it was ‘my’ driveway, and I didn’t want him playing here.

We had lunch and went back out. On returning the second time, there was the net, blocking our access again, and he was now too tired to get up and move the net.  My son got out of the car and threw it onto the boulevard.

Not five minutes later his mother came over to accuse the son of ‘putting a hole’ in it.  It’s a hockey net.  It’s all hole!  And I don’t care how much healthy exercise he’s getting, it doesn’t belong on my driveway.

I think our little ‘fitness and fun’ defender’s entire screed “masks a bigger problem.” She needs to grow up, and I think when she does, our rose-colored-glasses wearing, sheltered little Catholic, is in for some nasty surprises about urban reality.

The Business Of Fame

Pence

Most Famous Man Who Ever Lived

One day many years ago at a school in South London a teacher said to the class of 5-year-olds, “I’ll give 20 pence to the child who can tell me who was the most famous man who ever lived.”
An Irish boy put his hand up and said, “It was St. Patrick.” The teacher said, “Sorry Alan, that’s not correct.”
Then a Scottish boy put his hand up and said, “It was St. Andrew.” The teacher replied, “I’m sorry, Hamish, that’s not right either.
Finally, an Indian boy raised his hand and said, “It was Jesus Christ.” The teacher said, “That’s absolutely right, Jayant, come up here and I’ll give you the 20 pence.”
As the teacher was giving him his money, she said, “You know Jayant, since you are Gujarati, I was very surprised you said Jesus Christ.” He replied, “Yes, in my heart I knew it was Lord Krishna, but business is business!”

***

$200 Bucks It Is…

A guy goes over to his friend’s house, rings the bell, and the wife answers.
”Hi, is Tony home?”
”No, he went to the store.”
“Well, you mind if I wait?”
”No, come in.”

They sit down and the friend says “You know Nora, you have the greatest breasts I have ever seen. I’d give you a hundred bucks if I could just see one.”

Nora thinks about this for a second and figures what the hell – a hundred bucks. She opens her robe and shows one. He promptly thanks her and throws a hundred bucks on the table.

They sit there a while longer and he says “They are so beautiful I’ve got to see the both of them. I’ll give you another hundred bucks if I could just see the both of them together.”

Nora thinks about this and thinks what the hell, opens her robe, and gives him a nice long look. He thanks her, throws another hundred bucks on the table, and then says he can’t wait any longer and leaves.

A while later Tony arrives home and his wife says “You know, your weird friend Chris came over.”

Tony thinks about this for a second and says “Well did he drop off the 200 bucks he owes me?”

***

Italian, French and Indian

An Italian, French and Indian all went for a job interview in England. Before the interview, they were told that they must compose a sentence in English with three main words: green, pink and yellow.

The Italian was first: “I wake up in the morning. I see the yellow sun. I see the green grass and I think to myself, I hope it will be a pink day.”

The French was next: “I wake up in the morning, I eat a yellow banana, a green pepper and in the evening I watch the pink panter on TV.

Last was the Indian: “I wake up in the morning, I hear the phone “green green”, I “pink” up the phone and I say “Yellow.”

***

What’s The Point?

When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that ballpoint pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat the problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 million to develop a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to 300 C. The Russians used a pencil.

 

The Red Phone

Red Phone

Once upon a time, there was a simple and little Hindu priest who lived in Mathura, India. One time he had the chance to go visit the Pope at the Vatican in Italy. After traveling to the Vatican, he walked up the steps and through the halls of the opulent building where the Pope stayed. He looked in awe at the beautiful marble floors and majestic columns.

Then he came into the Pope’s office and greeted the Pope who was seated behind his desk. The little Hindu priest sat nearby and they exchanged pleasantries. Then he noticed a red phone sitting at the end of the desk, so he asked what it was.

“Oh, that’s my hotline to God,” replied the Pope. “Whenever things get too difficult and I need to have a personal talk with God, I give Him a call.” “Oh,” said the priest. “Would you mind if I tried it?” “No, not at all,” the Pope responded.

So the little Hindu priest picked up the phone, dialed the number, and sure enough, he got through to God. He offered his respects and prayers, said he was very happy to talk to Him, and then hung up the phone after only five minutes.

He was a simple priest and did not have much more to say to God. He then thanked the Pope for the privilege of using the special red phone. The Pope replied, “Oh that is quite all right. By the way, that will be €75.”

“Seventy-five Euros?” inquired the Hindu priest. “Oh yes,” said the Pope. “For long distance charges. It’s a long way from here to God, you know.” So the priest pulled out his wallet and gave the Pope the seventy-five Euros.

Several months later, the Pope had the opportunity to visit India, and it was arranged for him to come to Mathura and visit the little Hindu priest. So the Pope approached the little hut of the Hindu priest, ducking his head as he walked through the door. He sat in a chair in front of the little table where the Hindu priest was pleased to again meet the Pope.

They exchanged greetings, when the Pope noticed the same kind of red phone on the priest’s table as he had at the Vatican. So the Pope asked what that was. “Why, I also have a hotline to God,” replied the Hindu priest. “Do you mind if I use it?” asked the Pope. “I really have a lot on my mind.” “Please do,” responded the priest.

So the Pope got on the phone and got a good connection and managed to get through to God. He offered his prayers, but then had many things to discuss. He talked about the trouble in the Vatican, the difficulties with the priests and legal charges in the United States, the changing attitudes of the congregation in England and Europe, and so on. Fifteen minutes went by, then a half-hour, then finally, after nearly an hour, he was able to put the phone down.

Then he said, “Thank you very much. I feel a lot better now. I had so much to talk about. By the way, how much will that be?” The Hindu priest thought a moment and then said, “Two rupees.” “What,” the Pope replied, surprised at how inexpensive it was. “Why so cheap?” “Why don’t you know?” asked the little Hindu priest. “Here it is a local call.”