Invasion USA

chuck-norris

Recently Chuck Norris the wife and I executed a quick little raid into American territory for cultural observation and retail therapy.

We were barely outside the city limits, when trouble first arose.  It wasn’t long before there was a knock-down, drag-out, cursing and swearing, screaming and yelling, hair pullin’, eye-gougin’ match going on over in the passenger seat, between the wife, and Ethel, the snotty GPS.

The last little village we went through before getting on the Superhighway, was Roseville, ON. Our destination, north of Detroit, was Roseville, MI.  When the wife tried to enter that, Ethel insisted, “You’re already there.” The wife finally punched Ethel in the button that read ‘Change State or Province.’  Suddenly, Ethel knew all about Roseville….California.  No! No!  No!  I finally suggested adding the Michigan ZIP-code, and the fight ended with no serious injuries.

The Windsor/Detroit crossing is the most heavily-used border point between Canada and the US, and the one we’ve been using for years. Security is strict.  Since we were going well north of Detroit, we chose to cross from Sarnia, to Port Huron, MI, and work our way south.  Between a less-busy crossing, and the passage of 15 years since 9/11, it was quick, easy and almost informal.

Our border guard was a young, white male, who wasn’t suffering from testosterone poisoning from listening to Donald Trump speeches. When the wife volunteered that we were staying three days, he replied, “I don’t care how long you stay, as long as it’s not more than six months.”  When he found that we were going to strew cash into the economy, we got waved through before The Donald could collect enough Mexican pesetas to erect his wall.

Hotels/motels and restaurants cluster around Interstate exits. The better ones are usually right up front, while the Eats Diners huddle a little further back.  Right across from my Red Roof Inn, was a Days Inn, while the Victorian Inn was half a block south.

Red Roof

While searching for a Taco Bell, on the next main road over, and a block north, we drove past the Alibi Inn….because apparently the name Divorce Depot was already taken.  They oughta warn a fellow about things like that.  Trying to drive a car while giggling hysterically, looks a lot like DUI.

We went to a Wal-Mart to get some work jeans for Shimoniac, in his ‘big and tall’ size that Ontario Wal-Marts no longer carry. The first one we tried was down towards Eminem’s Eight Mile, surrounded by ‘houses made of ticky-tack, and they all look just the same,’ occupied mostly by melanin-rich folks.

It wasn’t dirty, but had the feel of dowdy, and unkempt.  In the Men’s Wear section, there were shelves and shelves of jeans.  Regular fit, Boot cut, Relaxed fit, Carpenter style and Flex-waist were all inter-mixed in the same piles, as well as waist sizes from 28 to 48, and inseams from 30 to 48.  After 20 minutes of frustrated searching, we managed to find one pair.

We then drove north and west to another Wal-Mart. Soon the homes were $500,000+, with gated drives and manicured lawns.  The area mall shone like Xanadu.  I’m surprised that we were allowed in, and disappointed that they didn’t have valet parking and shuttles to the shops.

This store gleamed. In the Men’s Wear section, all the styles were carefully kept separate, and sizes ran from smallest at the top, to largest on the bottom.  They have a much-different clientele.  It took only 30 seconds to find another pair of jeans, leaving the wife time to peruse the ladies’ sweaters.

You know you’re having an interesting vacation when you look out your motel window in the morning to see a State Trooper putting his steel battering-ram door opener back into the Police sport-ute.  He didn’t have to use it.  A local woman rented a room for a couple of visitors.  They partied too rowdy.  Instead of calling the front desk, who would have had to call the Police anyway, the outraged neighbors called the cops themselves.

While I was gabbing with a room-clerk, a young man came in to get another keycard. “I didn’t mean to pull the door all the way closed.”  Fortunately, he didn’t do it while dressed only in his Calvin Kleins, ‘cause she wanted ID.

The motel leaves a printed sheet, reminding guests to flip the ‘privacy’ switch on the inside of the door, so that no-one can enter, even with a keycard. While doing my usual wandering around, I found a keycard which someone had dropped just outside their door while entering.  I turned it in at the office.

At the wife’s suggestion, we ate supper the first night at Taco Bell. Michigan stores offer nachos Bel Grande that Ontario outlets don’t have.  We followed that with Cracker Barrel, and then The Outback, finishing off the last morning with brunch at Denny’s.

The Cracker Barrel wasn’t really busy, but in our section, the Negro waitress stood around talking to a Negro friend, while the white waitress took orders, delivered food, and cleaned tables. When she finally rushed over to serve us, she apologised for taking so much time.

The wife assured her that we were in no hurry, “You’re busy.”  We had till closing time, and told her to take her time.  You could just see the stress flow away.  “Not a lot of people are like that.”  We each got two corn-meal biscuits.  I, of course, ate both of mine.  The wife ate one.  When the bill arrived, I asked for a bag to take the biscuit home in.  When she returned, the bag held three more fresh biscuits, “So that you’ll both have two for breakfast, and there’ll be no fight.”  Quid Pro Quo!

Finally, well-fed and happy, we headed our mule-train loaded with beet sugar and new clothes back towards the land of maple syrup, socialized medicine and good manners. I’m sorry if that offends any Americans.  Please accept my apology….and come back soon.   😉

 

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NoMoWriSo

The month of November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  I first ran into it about a year ago as I began blogging.  A lady writer, whose blog I had been reading and commenting on, gave it a try.  I offered to stop bugging her for a month, but she felt she could handle both tasks.

You are expected to produce a short novel of fifty-thousand words, in thirty days, an average of 1667 words per day.  It would be a good idea to get out ahead of that, and produce 2000 words a day at the beginning, to give yourself time at the end for proofreading and editing.

H. E. Ellis has been encouraging me to “write” but the creative muse still hasn’t tasered me.  Perhaps if I come up with a story line, I may try it at a later date.  I’ve published more than twice that amount on this site; it just took me a year to do it, a thousand words at a time.

November is also Movember, when the more testosterone-laden among us, male and female, are urged to grow mustaches as evidence of support for education about, and eradication of, prostate cancer.  Much as I would like to be one of the guys, especially at my enlarged age, I can’t grow a mustache, not unless I shave off the one I already sport, and start all over again.

My father wore a mustache, pretty much all of his life.  I’ve seen photos of him during W.W. II, even before I was born, and he had a mustache then.  Without consciously copying him, I’ve also had a ‘stache since shortly after we were married.  Nothing outlandish, no Fu Manchu, no Mexican gunfighter, and definitely no David Crosby soup-strainer.  I don’t know how guys can stand those things. I hate it when one side of my mouth collapses and follows a bite of sandwich in.

Back in 1965, when I was enrolled in the Adult Education scholastic upgrade course, I didn’t shave for a week.  I came to school on the Monday, and the uptight Accounting professor demanded to know what I thought I was doing.  I explained that I was going to grow in a mustache and a neat VanDyke beard.  Oh no!  You can’t do that!  Shave it off!  It wasn’t till much later that I was appalled at the nerve of this man making judgements on what I could and could not do with my own face.

A couple of years later, after I became a husband and father, I decided to skip the beard, but grow in a mustache.  My wife actually prefers me with a beard, and has encouraged me to grow one on several occasions.  Five years or so after the mustache first appeared, I grew in a big, bushy, Grizzly Adams one, and kept it for over five years.

Many years later, I started riding motorcycles, and the beard came back each winter.  You see it in my Gravatar.  Up here on the frozen tundra, I still rode my bikes nine months a year.  I could put up with the cold, as long as the streets weren’t snowy or iced.  I found that a heavy beard below my full-face helmet kept the cold winds out.

I had three levels of gloves, from thin to insulated thick, because that’s where a motorcyclist feels the cold most.  Snowmobilers often have heaters installed in their handlebars, to keep their hands warm.  Each winter I thought about doing it to my bike, but never got around to it.  As the temperatures plunged, my rides got shorter and shorter, till I was down to just the 15 minute ride to and from work.

One year, December 21 was the last Friday I worked before Christmas.  Since there’d been no snow, I still took the bike.  The coldest day I ever rode was another year when the temperature at 6:30 AM, as I left for the shop, was minus 18 C (0 F.).  The heat dissipation fins on the engine become your best friends when you stop for a red light.

Our son has inherited some of the wife’s Italian genes.  You can’t braid the hair on his back, but he comes well supplied.  I was taking a night, Business Law course the evening he was born.  I went to the hospital after class, and looked in the nursery for my son.  I eliminated all the pink ID slips and scanned the blue ones for one with our name, but couldn’t see one.  As I went down the hall to the wife’s room, I passed this hairy little monster with motorcycle goggles, under a spotlight.  I told the wife I hadn’t seen our cute little child, but had spotted this little Hell’s-Gnome.

She said to get used to it; that was the one we had to take home.  He had been born severely jaundiced, and they put him under an ultra-violet lamp to assist in clearing the toxins.  Ordinary babies just got sleeping masks, to protect their eyes.  With the full head of hair he had, his kept slipping off, so they had to install the biker shades.  With his huge head, the wife had to hold him erect, when his aunt gave him his first haircut at three months of age.

At twelve, his Grade 8 teacher suggested that he shave off his black incipient mustache.  He did, but when he went to high school in the fall, he just let it grow.  By thirteen, he had a better mustache than any of his teachers.  At about twenty, he grew in the Grizzly Adams beard to go with it, and has not looked back in twenty years.

Neither he nor I can do anything for the cause, that we’re not already doing.  So, there you have my twin excuses.  No Mostache growing, no Writing a novel, So what?

To Serve and Protect – Yeah, Right

With all due apologies but absolutely no accusations to KayJai’s husband, I would like to state, as delicately and tactfully as I can, that I regard anyone who unswervingly and continuously believes in Absolutes of any sort, as stupid, gullible, closed-minded and deeply into denial.  Religion, particularly Christianity, in Canada produces people whose arguments to save face become laughably Byzantine.  When the book and movie, The DaVinci Code came out, there were those who just could not see the possibility that Bishop Aringarosa would commit a small sin to prevent the commission of many large sins and save the Catholic Church and its way of life.  He’s a priest, they wailed.  He wouldn’t do that.

If you point to a news article about a priest charged with sexual assault, the answer is, “It’s an anomaly”.  When you point to another report of a diddling priest, it’s just another anomaly.  A third report, a week later gets labelled as yet another anomaly.  How many anomalies are there in a trend?  No matter how Holy or well-intentioned, all people are human.  The Holiness or good intentions may help hold them above the level of the common man, but, To Err Is Human, and human they remain.  Not every man who becomes a priest, does so just to serve God, and not every (wo)man who enrolls to be a cop, does so with the altruistic intent to Serve and Protect.

In accordance with the above stated opinion, all subsequent absolute statements should be viewed as conditional.  Police don’t want Law and Order, they want peace and quiet.  Police officers have my admiration.  I don’t think that I could put up with the s**t that they have to, day after day.  However, there are lines that should not be crossed, and valid reasons for not crossing them.  Some guys become cops because they were schoolyard bullies and want to continue to enjoy the feel of pushing others around.  Some become so convinced that they, and their cause are (Holy) correct, that, like Dan Brown’s bishop, the only sin is to get caught.

Police forces are driven by testosterone and absolute faith in their rightness.  Watch any cop movie or TV show.  I know it’s illegal to – Hack this computer – Search this house – Hold this guy without charges, but, we’re the good guys, so, do it anyway.  In the movie An Innocent Man, Tom Selleck’s character went to jail to cover up the fact that two, inept drug detectives illegally and incorrectly entered the wrong address.  It happens in real life, out on the street.  Two Toronto police officers, out looking for a “suspicious person” named Raymond,(no description) tried to stop Joseph Williams, on his way home after work.  They demanded that he stop and produce identification.  He, none too politely told them to P**s-off and go harass someone else.  It is alleged that they then beat the snot out of him for not respecting them and their orders.  His facial injuries are not alleged.  They were photographically displayed in area newspapers.  Perhaps he allegedly fell down the same set of stairs, three or four times.

The police do not like it when citizens do their job for them.  A Chinese flower merchant in Toronto had been shoplifted by the same drug addict seven times.  The merchant had reported each theft and offered to identify the culprit.  He was told by the police that, since the theft was not occurring at that moment, there was nothing they could, or would do.  The thief came in an eighth time, in the morning, and returned for another snatch and grab later the same afternoon.  The merchant spotted him, and he and a male clerk grabbed the guy, tied him up and put him in the company van.  They then immediately called the police to come and get him.

The police came out….and arrested the merchant and his clerk.  If a crime is not happening, at the moment, a citizen’s arrest is not legal.  They were charged with assault and forcible confinement.  The clerk, like most retail workers, had a box cutter.  He didn’t use it or threaten to, but was charged with possession of a dangerous weapon.

A week later, all charges against the clerk were withdrawn, but the merchant endured another eight months of legal intimidation before a trial judge finally threw out his charges as well.  The druggie/shoplifter was brought in to testify against him.

An Indian restaurant owner reported that someone had broken into his car, parked in an alley behind the business, and his GPS unit had been stolen.  Tough luck, was the official police response.  He put up video surveillance equipment.  A week later he got film of a man who broke into the vehicle and took a digital camera and a laptop.  Two weeks later, he noticed someone attempting to get into the vehicle again, as it was happening.  He grabbed a broom and ran into the alley.  Anesthetized past caring about the broom, but disturbed that his midnight value sale had been interrupted, the miscreant forced the owner back into his restaurant, uttering threats against him, and his wife and children, who were upstairs.  The cook grabbed a bowl of his chicken curry powder and threw it in his face.

When the police arrived, they arrested (Are you ready for it?), the shop owner again.  The charges this time were assault and administering a noxious substance.  Apparently, protecting property, business and the life and safety of yourself and your family is not allowed to be performed by anyone but a policeman.  I’m just cynical enough to wonder what would have happened if these two had been white merchants in Rosemount.

The strange added fillip to these stories is a (Well, they can’t DEMAND) strong request by the police department for the newspapers to cease and desist from printing negative articles which show the force in a bad light.  The excuse is that these are ongoing investigations and the police aren’t allowed to comment, to give their side of the story.  I might feel a little sympathetic except, all information printed came from official sources.  An authorized police official gave copies of the police blotter, showing the shop-owners’ reports and complaints.  The Provincial Crown Attorney (State Assistant DA, for you Americans) revealed all charges, as well as hearing and trial dates, and another police liaison officer released copies of both of the surveillance videos.

I’d sooner have the police than not have them, but they’re not perfect.  I’d sooner have them honest and sympathetic to those they’re charged to protect, than hyped up on the steroid of power and doing what they THINK is right, or what pleases them and makes them look good.