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Thread: So... Once Upon a Time...

  1. #241

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    Once upon a time a few decades ago I was the guy who got stuck with the new kid at work. Each summer our local school system would pick three kids to work a summer job in the public works department. In street maintenace we'd get a boy and a girl. It was the 1980's so pc was not in full swing. The boy would work outdoors and the girl would get secretarial duties. Being a crew leader meant I got tasked with the boy each summer. Being under 18 they weren't allowed to run motorized lawn equipment. To me that was stupid because by twelve in my community you cut your parents grass. Things were changing though. Every kid gets a trophy was a new way of thinking. My first summer the kid was a future idiot. He was lazy and dumb as a door knob. I complained to the boss after a while so they cut him loose before he hurt himself or someone else. His final straw was the day he fell in love with the summer helper girl in the office and was serinading her over the two way police radio we communicated with before pagers and celphones. When the police chief complained to the city manager my boss had no recourse but to let him go. No telling what happened to that guy.

    The next summer I had another kid who was also dumb as a door knob, but he was willing to learn and did not mind working. By the end of the summer he had developed muscles and was a skilled worker. He came back the next summer but… he had discovered girls and partying. So I had fun with that one. When he came in hung over I'd find work that needed a jack hammer and we'd bust up a sidewalk that needed replacing. We mixed concrete in a drum and moved it with a wheel burrow. He could easily move a fully loaded with soupy concrete one into place before long. He bought a nice car and ended up getting married young, buying a house and became a professional fire fighter.

    At my job later I was an inspector and I'd get an up and coming, destined for college youngster each summer. Some were great and I developed a philosophy that I was training my future boss with each one. I left the government job and began work as a consultant. It's an engineering company with inspectors. Some call us field engineers. So it is a natural thing to train young engineers in the summer months while they are still going to college the rest of the year. I've seen many go on to become leaders in the industry I work in. The leaders who spent time in the field for months at a time end up being way better bosses than the ones who never tested concrete in 99 degree weather for 12 hours or had to stand out in 15 degree weather counting steel bars in a bridge deck before covering them with concrete.

    On the bad side of the spectrum, this one guy had to put in two weeks in the field as an engineer in training. He thought that meant reading plans in an air conditioned office all day. They put him outside in the heat one day on a day a worker got hurt on a bridge project. OSHA was called to the scene. When the OSHA man asked the up and comer what happened he became billigerant with the OSHA official. Not a good idea. When the OSHA person flexed his muscles through OSHA rules the up and comer called the police on him for harrassment. How dare that government worker impose a penalty on him. That up and comer went on to be a leader in our state transportation department and is personally responsible for a whole bunch of chaotic rules being imposed on contracters who have powerful lobbyists in state government. Rules that cost the tax payers extra money in claims by the big contractors who sue the state, or end up putting small contractors out of business. But that one guy who received a trophy for showing up his whole life has no idea how life outside his little bubble actually works.

    Not long ago I saw in a trade magazine a young engineer I was tasked with my first year as a consultant had won a prestigious award for thinking outside the box on a waste water treatment facility that was over burdened in a large city. When I was working with that kid he was working three jobs one summer to earn enough to pay his next semester at school and still have some beer drinking money. He drove a junky little Toyota everywhere and was a pleasure to be around. The type of person who at times just stared into space because he was day dreaming some theory of how to turn turd water into something useful. My project was a "metric job" where everything was based on the metric system. Concrete was measured in cubic meters or finished items in meter lengths. Areas were hectaires instead of acres and temperatures were celcious. The client had conversion factors that were one decimal place. A millimeter was say 25.4 per inch. But often times when computers got involved things did not properly convert. Tons was one such number.

    The project involved thousands of tons of gravel. At a rock quarry nowadays they just push a button and conversions take place. So a gravel ticket will have printed on it a standard ton number and a metric ton number. Back then the paperwork would state standard numbers and we had to convert them to metric. Using the clients 1 decimal place conversion factor would not match what the contractors computer said it should be. So at the end of a day when the standard number of gravel tons was say 16890.23 our conversion of 0.9 would give a figure of 15280.21 tons for example but…… the contractors computer would say 16408.14 metric tons. That meant a difference of 1127.93 tons. And at $15 a ton the contractor was being ripped off some $16918.95 for that one day. That was a half a years salary for some back then. One day the boss said "you, new guy (talking to me), figure out the conversion numbers their computer is using and get the smart kid to help you". About a week later the two of us had figured out instead of 0.9 it should be 0.97145 for that one and several like it.

    We gave the list of correct conversion numbers to the boss who kicked it up the ladder as it were and some other twirp got the credit once our numbers became the official okee-dokee governmental conversion factors. As it turns out that kid (who is now in his late thirtys) saved a city millions of dollars in fines by the EPA for implimenting a method of waste water treatment he had invented in college but nobody ever thought would work. I reached out to him via email to say hello and congratulate him on his acheivement. He said he concocted the idea one early moring at the Outter Banks of North Carolina while being held upside down by some drinking buddies with the tap from a keg turned on that summer he worked with me.
    Last edited by bykfixer; 09-07-2019 at 10:05 AM.
    John 3:16

  2. #242

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    Funny how things (and people) sometimes turn out. Thankfully, I don't have to train anyone at my jobs. Every once in awhile though, someone goes on vacation. And we can't find one of the usual stand-by candidates. So I end up with a guy usually less intelligent than the previous one I've trained. Who himself was less intelligent than the previous one to him, who.... I think you know where I'm going with this. Gotten to the point that I just make sure they know how the alarm system works, show them where the required paperwork is located (rather obvious where but they still apparently can't find it for some bizarre reason), what certain responsibilities are for the shift they work, and finally close with greatly emphasizing that if they want to be relieved early then they better make sure to return the courtesy.

    We do get a few characters. Ones like "Candy." Who is a recovering drug addict who apparently somehow avoided ever getting arrested because she received her Security license. Lives in a homeless shelter (nothing wrong with that). A bit older, but still rather attractive. Pathological liar. And she was attracted to me. I told her we could be friends. Spend more than 5 minutes conversing with her and it's clear there's something wrong with her mentally too. Also, homeless shelters have curfews. You can't just go in and out whenever you want to. Plus, they close and lock the doors at night usually 1 minute past curfew. Harsh, but it emphasizes that the rules are not to be ignored. So, if you have a job, you still have to get back before curfew or you get locked out. Meaning, you can forget about working the night shift. Guess who worked the night shift with me?

    The only good thing with working with her was that you knew she'd make up stories. Even on the job. My response was that I was in charge inside the building. She was in charge of the parking lots and outer perimeter. And I trusted her judgement in handling any sort of "weird" developments that occurred in her "jurisdiction." Thankfully it never got to the point that she radioed me that she was in trouble and needed immediate assistance. But there was one time she came awfully close to doing so. Like I said, pathological liar.

    She returned a couple of years later as a fill-in for a Security Officer who called out sick. She was there for two or three days. But I only had to deal with her for one. She walks in and smiles at me. Says, "I bet you don't remember me." In the most flirtatious voice possible. I told her I absolutely did!

    Oh Candy, who could possibly ever forget you.
    Last edited by Monocrom; 09-07-2019 at 06:47 PM. Reason: Typo fixed.
    "The World is insane. With tiny spots of sanity, here and there... Not the other way around!" - John Cleese.

  3. #243

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    So there really is a girl named Candy from that Iggy Poppe song……

    I'll think of your story next time I hear that tune.
    John 3:16

  4. #244

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    Quote Originally Posted by bykfixer View Post
    So there really is a girl named Candy from that Iggy Poppe song……

    I'll think of your story next time I hear that tune.
    That would be a heck of thing if it was her. But yes, there is a Candy. Not sure if she's the Candy.
    "The World is insane. With tiny spots of sanity, here and there... Not the other way around!" - John Cleese.

  5. #245
    peter yetman's Avatar
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    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    I so enjoy your stories, guys.
    I have to save them up and then read them in a paying attenition sort of way.
    This could never work on Facebook, but no-one would understand if I explained that this is my reason for doing CPF.
    Thank you,
    P
    "O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" He chortled in his joy.

  6. #246

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    Facebook'rs have an attention span of abou……
    What were we talking about again?
    John 3:16

  7. #247

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    Quote Originally Posted by bykfixer View Post
    Facebook'rs have an attention span of abou……
    What were we talking about again?
    I think it was Raiding Area 51.
    "The World is insane. With tiny spots of sanity, here and there... Not the other way around!" - John Cleese.

  8. #248
    Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Smile Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    Soooo.... there are those times that you, we, should listen to the women in the group.

    Many years ago, I took my son, as a cub-scout to a West Point Football game. We didn't camp out, but simply took the hour jaunt up there, watched the game and came home. Yes, that was about 25 years ago, and despite my failing long time memory, except for those things that made an IMPACT on me, I do remember that day as a COLD, DAMP, Rainy, MISERABLE day, watching a game, that I had absolutely NO interest regarding who won. We were committed to going and so we went. Yeah... should a been committed.

    So here we are 25 years later and my Grandson's troop is going for a two night overnight at the West Point Academy. The predicted weather is windy, maybe rain, and 24 F lows. Yeah... I'm Not going! My daughter committed her son to go. He can only stay ONE night due to other commitments, and so she is staying as well, and they will leave late Saturday, after the game. Considering the fact that if she stayed in a tent, and she would have to break camp at 5:30 in the AM, she decided to stay in her car for the night. The Men planned on having the scouts get up at 5:30, cook and clean up and be prepared to leave the site at 7:00 AM to get on the bus, that will bring them, to the beginning of ceremonies.

    When she saw their plans, she laughed and said nothing. Well to me she said... "what the heck are these guys thinking? You see... this is why they should have a woman plan a trip like this! I'd make it a drive up and back, eat breakfast on the way up, pack a lunch or buy lunch at the field, and hit a burger King on the way back. OR if they are going to camp over Friday night it should be a bagel and cream-cheese breakfast, eat it on the bus and lets go!" Actually I agreed with her, but I wasn't going, so I also said nothing. Prior to leaving on the trip she checked to see if there were any food establishments who could and would deliver on-base. IIRC there were restrictions, but found that there was a Starbucks, Duncan doughnuts, and McDonalds about 1.5 miles away. OK... she's set!

    Her plan... sleep in the car. Get up, go to the ranger station, wash her face, brush her teeth, and go to town for breakfast.
    The men's plan... sleep in tents, get up an extra hour and a half early, make coffee, cook, wash dishes in below freezing temps, and get on the bus.
    I think there were only 8 kids going.

    As she was leaving the Ranger's station, with washed face and brushed teeth, she met one of the men on his way to the station. He didn't have coffee because the water in the containers they brought was frozen, he was going there to get water. She offered to bring back a container of joe, but noooo... "we can make our own", by time she got back, after breakfast, and on her second cup of tea, the decision was made... OK everyone into the cars we are going to McDonalds for breakfast!

    You know... there are times that we men, just have to clip the hairs on our chest's, and listen to the female side. You ladies know what I am talking about, right?
    Oh boy I hope this came out politically correct.

    I was anxious to know how my grandson made out in my -50 F Military sleep system. He didn't know. He slept in the car with his mom, and left it open because she had the heat on. LOL... tough life eh?
    Last edited by Poppy; 11-26-2019 at 07:16 PM.
    My Grand Kids call me Poppy

  9. #249

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    Guess it didn't dawn on the fellows that while coolers keep heat out in summer, they can also keep cold out too.

    They're SCOUTS dawg gonnit. They're sposed to be prepared. lol.
    John 3:16

  10. #250

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    The kids are alright:

    Once upon a time I took on the role of "dad" to three rambunctious young men who had been fatherless for far too long. A daunting task while working out of town a lot and on a low budget. I had my wife stay home with the boys for a change of pace instead of her working a lot and the kids being raised by the tv before we met. Good kids who said please and thank you a lot. But had never been required to set boundries, discipline themselves or look out for one another. We had our hands full Mrs Fixer and I.

    Not long after assuming the role of principle around the house the idea of having the boys choose an us against them way of thinking was taking shape nicely. They eventually figured out how to watch out for each other while plotting against the evil grown ups. Ah, the memories……luckily they weren't half as crafty as most of the knuckleheads I hung out with as a teen and they often wondered why that step dad could predict their trickey and sleep with one eye open. Not that they didn't get over on us at times, yet they never knew what we knew but chose not to mention. My favorite part was the times I was laying down the law and something hilarious would pop out of my mouth. Poor young man knew if he laughed it would make their punishment worse. Sometimes the middle one would laugh anyway and his eyes would water as if he knew he'd really screwed up. Hey, it showed me he was taking in what I was saying. The oldest and youngest had tuned me out my word twelve.

    Well they're grown now. They've all had their moments and have now realized hitting yourself with a hammer results in pain. Life for all three is going exactly the way I had hoped it would someday, so those sleepless nights have now paid off. Yesterday the middle one asked for a flashlight, the youngest one whose ambitions were to be a hippy someday was wearing a polo shirt at dinner. The oldest is doing a great job at raising a son, who by the way just loves to brag to family about "gam-pa's" skateboards.

    My two boys were nerds growing up. Both now drive betters cars than me and have a fruitful life out of the nest. The wifes boys have now gotten a good foundation for their own nests as well. At Thanksgiving day yesterday I was my quiet self but this time is was to hold back the happy tears of seeing how well all five boys are doing in the new millenium. Each year Mrs. Fixer says "best Thanksgiving ever". Yesterday I finally understood her view point.
    John 3:16

  11. #251
    Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    Hey there my friend,
    It sounds like you had a GREAT Thanksgiving! I'm really happy for you!

    We too, had a great day. Early to rise 4:00 AM... early to bed.
    One grandson danced in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. He had to be there at 5:30 AM. My daughter, his mom took him. His brother and I stayed home to watch on TV, and to cook. I like to think of myself as a decent cook, but my son is Terrific! I threw the bird in the oven, peeled the potatoes, and took out the other fixen's but my son got here in time to cook everything else. You know... sometimes, everything works out just right!

    Life is good!
    My Grand Kids call me Poppy

  12. #252

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    Mrs Fixer and I began the day at 5:30am. We made pies the night before.

    Her mom is an awesome cook but……

    You get this when she's around.

    The wife and I carefully crafted food on the menu and after a few years practice we ended up with this……

    Shortly after dinner was over.

    This year I handled the bird. For 12 years in a row the famdamily used the instructions on the package. "Says 3 hours" and each year the bird was way under done. My grandmother said "double it" when I was a kid. Wife said "package says 3 hours honey". I figured 5 and wasn't far off. 30 minutes was added to brown the outside. Dark meat fell off the bones and the breast was fairly juicy.
    Another grandma trick is to place the breast at the bottom and juices soak in from the top down.

    The wife bought a bunch of these

    So everybody left with their favorite food and we did not end up with a bunch of leftovers.
    Last edited by bykfixer; 11-30-2019 at 09:51 PM.
    John 3:16

  13. #253
    peter yetman's Avatar
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    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...



    Mrs Yeti is a professional chef, and that's exactly how her kitchen looks when she's working. When we had the restaurant she used to balance things on top of things on top of things, to make space, in a complete Dr. Seuss imitation.
    Tell Mrs Fixer's Mum that it's a sign of creativity.
    P
    "O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" He chortled in his joy.

  14. #254
    Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    Clever lady that Mrs. Fixer, she is.
    My Grand Kids call me Poppy

  15. #255

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    She is that Poppy.

    One thing I noticed in the "messy kitchen pix" is leftover cranberry sauce in a bowl. Now my entire 55 years as far back as I can remember was that nobody EVER touched the cranberry jelly, yet each year it was part of the menu. (the messy pic I showed was my sisters kitchen this year.)
    Perhaps her 80 something year old pa-n-law ate a slice or two?

    Now at my home not one person has ever said "what, no cranberry jelly?" Actually the stuff is pretty darn good if you like that sort of flavor.

    I wonder where that tradition comes from……
    John 3:16

  16. #256
    Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    Cranberries are grown through the northern part of the United States. The major production areas are New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Quebec.
    I guess the tradition came from New Jersey or maybe Massachusetts, nah.

    In our house, if they make it to the refrigerator, they are gone the next day. We typically buy 4 cans. One for one of my grandsons, one or two for the rest of us, and one or two in reserve. One can NOT fall short on being prepared with cranberries!
    My Grand Kids call me Poppy

  17. #257

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    It's a small world after all:

    Quite a few years back I was furloughed by my company at the time because there was no work available in my area in my line of work. Some of that was my doing though. A lot of inner office politics were taking place and I was far from politically correct, so when it came to picking people for assignments I was one left on the sidelines. Eh, I needed the vacation anyway. It ended up the hottest summer on record in my state that summer and I had lowered my cost of living enough to be ok as long as I stuck to a strict budget. It was a chance to gain perspective. Before that I had been on a frustrating assignment. One where I wondered is the whole world around me nuts, or is it me this time?

    During that assignment I met a lad right out of college who thought he had the world in the palm of his hand, but really had no clue. I told him that when he decided to interfere in my daily assignments. He ended up kinda being my boss and whenever he gave me stupid assignments I told him they were and why. He soon understood my ideas at times made sense. In time we became friends. Now others couldn't stand the guy and he got black balled in my field. I saw talent in the guy and told him so. One day while on furlough he asked me to help him install a sprinkler line in somebodys yard. I did. He asked me to help him with other projects later. Being I had no schedule I enjoyed the work a couple of days a week. It was stuff I was good at so his customers were impressed that this young kid was doing yard work for them and after installing pipes, patios etc you could not tell anybody had ever worked there. I showed him the virtue of "if you do your job right nobody will know you were there". In the meantime he was providing food for my table or extra cash to spend at the record store to make my furlough less boring. It was a win win.

    So later that summer life caused me to move to another state and in time we lost touch. I had always considered him a friend. It started out rocky, but our brutal honesty with each other had led to a bond of trust most do not understand. See a real friend will be honest with you even if it is ugly. Matter of fact only a true friend will do that.

    Well, recently at my job where I keep records I kept hearing about a contractor who was struggling with installation of pipes with very little slope. The government kept complaining about water ponding in pipes that should stay dry when it aint raining. The guy I work for was absent a couple of times so I watched the contractor at times. They were doing good work in my view. The government changed some requirements with this pipe called under drain. Most involved did not understand the new requirements. I did. All they did was go back to requiring stuff they used to 25 years ago that had not been required lately.

    I spoke with government folks about it and got their opinions, then indicated on our project we will do it that way. One after noon a gray haired fellow walked up to introduce himself. It turned out to be my friend from long ago. That made my day to see him branch out into sure enough heavy highway pipe work. He's new at it so I spoke about the new rules and explained some of why his pipe was being rejected. Yesterday another inspection of his pipes that were rejected took place and they passed this time. See, I made sure the folks checking the pipes followed the rules too. And when they did the pipes seen as faulty were no longer seen as faulty.

    Nothing changed except, the nearly flat slope pipe was filled with water and imediately checked with a camera. Of course there would be lots of water in them as pipe laid that flat takes a while to drain. Let it set a few hours and the water drains out every where but in sags. Duh. His pipe had zero sags.
    Now today he is scratching his head wondering who made the people filling the pipe let it drain for 4 hours. I won't tell it was me. Nope it was my way of returning the favors he did for me so long ago. Part of my role in my job is to resolve problems. Yet often it leads to a reputation of being too cooperative in a dog eat dog indusry where most try to be an Alpha. All I care about is at the end of the day a quality product was deemed acceptable. So perhaps someday when that young lad, now gray haired bearded guy is all rich and famous the recent situation will have been his pivot point between making it or going under.

    His name is Dan and as I can remember some of our adventures perhaps I'll write down a couple here. He was the person who allowed me to see that at one point it was actually the world around me that was crazy.
    Last edited by bykfixer; 01-31-2020 at 11:25 AM.
    John 3:16

  18. #258
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    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    Cool story bykfixer.

  19. #259

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    Greensboro NC.

    After being furloughed for a while the summer I helped Dan install sprinkler systems and other stuff I ended up working in Greensboro NC on a stretch of I-40 at the west end of town. Another project butted up to the one I was on at the eastern end of town. It was a period of life that really changed me into who I am today. See, I'd lived in a bubble my whole life in a place not unlike a gated community. A small town where everybody seemed to know everybody or had at least heard of them. After a while in Greensboro I came to realize I could probably walk down a main drag naked, puffing on a J and nobody would even notice. I stayed there for about a year and it was kinda like the period where the caterpillar turns into a butterfly. A metamorphisis so to speak.

    A few years prior I had asked Jesus to help me get through a rough time. Well, He did His part, yet I had not done mine. I partied with young people as my mid life crisis was in full swing. I worked a lot and the more money I made the more I spent. Some really cool stories resulted from that but it led to me being broke, unemployed and trying to figure out how I ended up that way. Yeah, that time it wasn't the world that was screwed up it was me. So I packed up some stuff and headed to Greensboro NC because my company had entered into a contract to supply a seasoned inspector to that project and the nine folks they sent before me had been duds. I needed income. So it was a time to shake off the cobwebs and get serious about my job about 375 miles from the bubble.

    Day 1 I arrived and met folks. A few hours later I enquired about hotels. Folks pointed to a nearby Motel 6. Now I had brought two boxes of food to live off for a couple of weeks. Canned foods, and other non perishable items. Back then I drank one cup of coffee each morning through a 1 cup maker long before the Kurieg thing. The Motel 6 charged by the day and being from the bubble I did not know what that meant. It was not long before I figured out that means "brothel". The first night was ok. Next morning I realized I had forgotten sugar for my coffee. I had $13 to last until payday so I pulled into a drive through at a McBurger joint to get a small coffee and 9 packs of sugar to last at least the week.

    I'm sitting in a long line of cars that was moving kinda quick. Being new in town I was curious about local radio stations and started twisting the tuner dial to sample the local stations. Twist a bit, move forward a bit in the drive through. A gap had opened up between my truck and the car in front of me. Seems innocent enough when suddenly a guy comes running out of the place wearing a bandanna over his face pointing a gun towards the restaraunt. Another guy wearing a McBurger uniform comes busting out chasing the guy as they began to fire at each other to my left. Holy Crap!! The guy with the bandanna crashes into the front fender of my truck and stumbles. Holy Crap!! He gets up quickly and keeps running as the employee empties his revolver while in pursuit. They both disappeared to my right so I proceed to the teller, place my order and get my coffee with 10 packs of sugar like nothing happened.

    So I arrive at work and tell the folks there what happened. The head guy looks up from reading the morning paper and says in a major Carolina drawl "that place gets robbed a lot" and looks back down at his newspaper. Everybody else just kinda shrugged like that sorta thing happens every day.

    A few days go by and I was noticing why that Motel 6 charges by the day thanks to paper thin walls. I had a small boom box with a cd player and a few cd's. One afternoon I was cooking some raviolli on the stove in my room when an especially noisy couple were doing what folks do in a brothel. So I turned up my Charlie Brown Christmas cd that was playing. Somebody bangs on the door hollering "turn down the music". My mind is pondering who the heck doesn't like Charlie Brown Christmas music. I turned it down. Another couple began filling my room with love noises from another direction so I turned the music back up. Again "bang bang bang" on the door. "I'm not going to tell you again". I hollered back "screw you man I can't hear myself thinking over the sounds from other rooms". Silence. A few minutes later "bang bang bang, this is the Greensboro police"……

    I was booted out of a brothel for listening to Charlie Brown Christmas music. I thought "toto, we aint in Kansas no more". lol.
    John 3:16

  20. #260

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    Prior to actually living in Greensboro my boss had taken me there one day to meet the folks I'd be working for. We stopped at a pizza hut and on the way out I snagged an apartment guide. My youngest son and I drove their one day to look at apartment complexes. See, the place has an airport in the middle so I did not want to stay near that. I also wanted to know I lived in a place where they could stay safely while I was at work. We looked over every one in that magazine and stuck out. The last one we were going to look at was a bust too. My son noticed through some trees their was a complex next to it. We did a lap around the place and a still small voice said "you're home". I went into the office and enquired about pricing and found out it was affordable but no vacanies for a couple of months. Hence why I started out at that Motel 6, my truck the night I was booted out and then an Extended Stay until an apartment opened up.

    The place was called Hunters Ridge and was located at the edge of a bluff where Nathaniel Green had cornered Cornwallis' army and nearly won the Revolutionary War there. Trouble was the Virginia Army had allowed Cornwallis to get past him, which is why to this day some folks from long lines of Greensboro residency hate Virginians to this day. A couple closed minded coworkers hated me for that reason. But the apartment complex was located at the highest point in Greensboro and as luck would have it my apartment was on the top floor over looking a wooded park where that battle had taken place. The buildings were surrounded by trees within a few feet away so outside my window some 60 feet in the air were the living rooms of birds and squirrels. Priceless.

    Oh, when I was enquiring about apartments I had asked the nice lady in the office about sound proofing. She said each unit was surrounded by concrete. She was not kidding. Now there was sheet rock so you'd never know. I used to lay on the floor watching the animals in the day when not working and tv after dark until I had some portable furniture. The floor quivered so I figured it was just my imagination. One morning when leaving for work my next door neighbor applogized for the loud music. I had not heard it at all. Turns out the youngsters below me had parties a few times a week, so that was why I'd feel the floor quivering.

    Now each weekend I'd drive back home and pick up my sons, drive them back to Greensboro and partake in things like gorging ourselves at all you can KFC's or just checking out the sites. Then drive them back home. At first I'd meet the ex at the state line to pick them up or drop them off until the day she showed up to pick them up sloppy drunk. I just made the entire trek after that.

    One night there was an ice storm. A total of 6" blanketed the city. It was like the whole city was under a layer of glass. I started a crock pot of chicken soup and went to bed figuring it would cook until the power went out. Next day I still had power and a crock pot of mush. It turns out my little slice of heaven was the only place with electricity for 150 miles in each direction. What had started out as what seemed like it was going to be a bad situation at that Motel 6 was turning into a really peaceful time of good fortune.
    John 3:16

  21. #261

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    A sobering day at work.

    This one is a once upon a time from a fellow I met today. A young fellow walked up to me and introduces himself to me. His role is to check materials like dirt, gravel and concrete for correct methods of installation and the quality of said items. I was filling in the for the head inspector who usually does what I was doing today so when he knew my name I was pleasantly surprised. I looked at his name tag and saw vowels and consenants in places I'm not used to seeing and when he spoke his name a broken accent was noticed. My first question was "so how long have you been doing this?" expecting this youngster to say the usual one to two years. He said "almost one year" in a very broken accent. What happened next was a great surprise that made my year.

    "So what did you do before that?" I asked. Expecting to hear what high school he had just graduated from I heard "worked for your army corps of engineers designing structures for ten years"…… I was not expecting that. "You what?" lol. He began to tell the story of how he had been designing concrete beams for bridges and other concrete structures being built and installed in his home country of Afghanistan working for US contractors. That he had skee-daddled to America with his wife and kids due to impending death at some point. He and some of his coworkers had been marked for death by the group known as the Taliban so when he had the chance to leave he did.

    He had seen his "willage" he called it destroyed when Russia invaded in the 80's and was part of a 2 million people migration to Pakistan and lived there for two years in a giant camp. He spoke of returning home and seeing the devastation left behind by that event and how the senior leaders of his family had stayed behind to fight. He told how all kinds of weaponry had been left behind and how ordinary people had turned into warriors lusting for power in his home place, which is the capital of Afghanistan. How that Bin Laden character was hated by his people at least as much as by Americans but through political donations was able to move freely throughout the country until America invaded.

    He spoke of how his president was well liked and one day was invited to attend a conference in Pakistan. There the leaders of the Taliban off'd him he said. He mentioned what it was like to wonder if today was the day "they" found him, which meant the day he was killed……for 8 years, because he worked for America. Every commute to and every one home could have been his last he said. He said arriving at work each day was a cause for celebration and same with arriving home. Every day. Can you imagine? I can't. It was sobering to see how thrilled he is to be away from that life. He smiled as he recounted a typical day in the life of an Afghanny engineer. His English was phenomenol too. At one point I remarked how his vocabulary is broader than many people who have lived here their entire life. He said thinking back now it seems pretty scarey but back then "you hear about explosion from the wife, you ask how many killed, she says only ten, you think eh, no big deal" as he chuckled.

    I asked if he felt like he could ever go home and said he hopes to. He mentioned how once the US started destroying Taliban strong holds in Pakistan (in 2017) they were no longer able to fight the US and Afghan forces then escape back to friendly territory and how it now looks like there may be peace so hopefully he can go back and help rebuild again. He said the Afghan forces seem to be strong enough to hold on to the peace now. When I asked if he likes America he said "of course, but you guys tax everything. Too many taxes"……

    We shook hands and parted ways and I felt like a different person after being honored to be in that young mans presence.
    Last edited by bykfixer; 02-17-2020 at 03:47 PM.
    John 3:16

  22. #262

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    Holy heart attack!! Growing up means growing old.

    This one begins on a typical afternoon in late June 1989. My mom was feeling listless for a few years and doctors were baffled. Now she was a pretty healthy and happy person in general and did not let fatigue change her much. At that point she had a few body parts missing like gallbladder and reproductive organs much like many women in their late 50's in the 1980's. She was blessed with coal black hair that would gray for a while, then recolorize for a while. Her mom and her mom had that trait. So does my sister now 61. At that point my mom was in a gray phase and had recently reached her 60th year. The women in our family typically made it to their 90's. The men, their 60's. Same on my dad's side. They were farmers and factory workers who chain smoked while the women were tobacco free home makers. My mom had a career but we still figured she'd live a long life.
    She liked to buy things with her income like antiques. So my dad figuring he'd not make it past 65 squirreled away much of his paycheck to ensure my mom was able to still buy stuff after he was gone. Then a doctor discovered she had a blocked artery in her heart. At that point a miracle procedure called angioplasty was fixing up folks like my mom all across America. They called it a "routine procedure" and even spoke of doing it outpatient someday. I was 25 at the time and raising a son, attending night school college with baby #2 in the oven. Life was going well and now it seemed my mom was going to get back to her old self soon.

    On June 29th she went in for her routine surgery. All seemed normal and I called her hospital room to check on her after supper. A nurse answered and said she would call me back. Figuring she was in the lady's room or something I just waited for her to call back. She was scheduled to come home the next day and had asked that we not make the trip to where she was because it was a ways from home. After a few minutes the phone rang and it was my dad. He said something has gone wrong and requested I come there and bring my brothers. My twin had the best car back then and said he'd drive. Back then a new set of tires costed more than my jalopys but they got me to and from work most of the time. Man it was a long long 10 minutes or so before he arrived. My other brother lived down the street from me so we picked him up too. Back then we were all married to our first wives and everything was peachy in paradise other than the normal young family struggles. On the way to the hospital it was near silence. The hour long drive seemed like it took 12 minutes as my twin brother broke every traffic law in his brand new Chevy Cavelier. We arrived at the hospital and find my dad in a waiting room. Now my dad was Steve MacQueen cool most of the time so finding him in that waiting room visibly rattled was startling. He appologized for not calling my brothers saying he could not remember their phone numbers. At that point nobody knew what was happening with my mom, just that she was complaining of being dizzy and wheeled off to surgery.

    At around midnight my sister had arrived from a 3 hour journey. She had moved to the coast and taken a job as a school teachers assistant. By the time she arrived we were informed my mom was in a coma and not expected to live. A normal Thursday had now become a life changing Friday. My mom was the glue that kept us all sane so to hear she may not make it was a tremendous shock to all of us. When I was a kid she used to take me to church with her at times. She never made us go to church regularly but sometimes (as she would say) she just needed her batteries charged and a Sunday evening service would put that smile back on her face. So I knew that if she was not going to come home again it meant she was going to a place where her batteries would never need charging again. (Man tears building as I typed that). So I found a comfy place on the corner of a vinyl, 1970's burnt sienna colored sofa in the waiting room and closed my eyes. There was a peaceful feeling amongst the chaotic emotions everyone in the room was experiencing. My sibblings were talking smack about me. Knowing I was the only one sensing that peace I just kept my eyes closed and let them vent. We stayed until about noon the next day and went back to our homes. My sister stayed at the hospital with my grandmother who arrived the next morning.

    We did not go back that evening as I recall since the doctors said she could not receive visitors. Early Saturday morning I was at my dads house helping him get ready to go back to wait in that waiting room. My uncle called and said there was good news. That she had begun to awaken from the coma according to the nursing staff. My pop and I both smiled in relief. My pop was a wreck but he was visibly pretty happy as he hung up the phone. As he told me what my uncle had just said the phone rang again. This time it was the doctor. My dad answered and in seconds I could see the smile disappear along with the color in his face as he listened to who ever was on the phone. Tears rose in his eyes as he set the table phone back onto the receiver. (Tears running down my face now, eyes burning thinking back. Holy cow.) He says "she's not coming home" and puts his arms around me and begins to bawl. Now my pop was tough. So within a few seconds he realized he was losing it and pulls away in order to gather up his emotions and put them in check. I was probably more stunned that my dad had hugged me like that than the bad news he shared was causing. Yet honored to have been there at that moment. It was a very special event. Very. He gathered up his things to leave and I drove him to the hospital in my mom's car.

    When we got there the doctor explained that her brain stem was not showing any activity but a machine was keeping her alive. That if she ever woke up she'd be what he called "a vegetable". He asked if my pop wanted to keep her plugged in. Again my pop could not remember phone numbers so I called my brothers. My sister was still there. It was Saturday July 1st. My mom had put in retirement papers at her job effective July 1. She had plans to take a long vacation with my dad who had scheduled a 2 month abscence from his job. He had built her a front porch on the house to enjoy sunsets in a rocking chair and installed central air in the house. They had bought a new refrigerator replacing one from the 1960's and put in wall to wall carpet. He had sold all of his camping gear, his boat and fishing tackle to pay for a cross country adventure where they were going to stay in motels instead of in a camper. They had bought a king sized bed so both could sleep in the same bed without keeping each other up with snoring, and life for them was about to be everything they had busted their butts and saved for. Yet it was not to be it seemed.

    Once all four of his kids were at the hospital he asked us if he should keep mom plugged in. At first we were reluctant to say yes figuring that was his decision. He made it clear he wanted us to decide. At 7:00 pm we voted to unplug her. At 7:15 she was gone. We all had the chance to be in the room when they turned the machine off. I chose not to. Only my sister and uncle did. I had that same sense of peace that was breifly changed from the phone call my uncle had made that morning. I did go in the room alone before the machine was turned off and appologized to my mom for all the grief I had caused her in the past. There was plenty of it too, but my brain sensed that she was already gone and all I was standing next to was a body. In my mind her soul had left that Thursday night or early Friday morning. My siblings were pretty pissed off at me again because I was not visibly sad. "How can you be happy right now?" (leaving out the colorful adjectives here.) My grandmother was also not visibly sad but they figured it was just her being her usual goofy self. My mom played her house numbers daily in a draw three lottery for over a year without it being the daily number. On July 1 1989 that was the number that popped up.

    My mom was a prominent official in our town. Well respected in the community. So my city government shut down the day of her funeral. So many people were going to attend the service that there'd be nobody there to 'man the fort' as it were. It was 3 miles from the funeral home to the burial site. Someone said the funeral procession stretched from point a to point b. I do remember looking up at the crowd and thinking "my gosh it looks like a Rolling Stones concert is being held at this cemetery". My pop had held a service the night before and there were 16 books with the names of visitors. My mom probably had no idea the impact she had in our community. She was very humble and was kind to everybody. She was one of those rare people that come along and leave a positive foot print everywhere she walked. Yet she never got jaded at all. For years after she was gone folks would say how "this place just isn't the same without your mom" as I had become a somewhat prominent official in the community too. I left there in 1998. Just last year when I was paying my car tax a lady behind the counter asked if I was her son. Again I heard "she is still missed around here".

    I hung out with my pop for several weeks after work. My oldest brother took over that role for a few years. Then my twin did for a few years. My sister visited often. Yet after a while divorce set in and the siblings began to grow apart. No strife or anger. Just differing paths in life. Yet we always gathered at my dads at thanksgiving and Christmas. On fathers day and his birthday we'd always hang out too. My dad was never the same. He never dated another woman. He said "I wouldn't take a million dollars for your mom but I wouldn't pay a nickel for another wife". My pop could tell a story in 25 words. He had been in a civil war reenactment club in his younger days. He said the closest he had ever come to divorce was when he used the rent money to buy a Rebel musket for a skit shortly after marrying my mom. So a few years after she had passed he reunited with his buddies from back then. And he got a dog. He named his rust colored Dobie "Kate" but would not tell us where the name came from. One day in his twighlight years he told me Kate was a redheaded gal he fell in love with before marrying my mom. His reenactment buddies knew who Kate was and at times would ask me "you know where that name came from, right?" "Uh, no" I'd say. They'd just chuckle and say "your dad should be the one to tell you".

    Right now I'm looking at a photo of my smiling mom from high school in about 1948 and my 4 year old dad with a frump on his face standing next to his brother sitting in a wagon. He said frump was because "they" wouldn't let him sit in the wagon. He is wearing his "Dizzy Dean" baseball cap he said he was very proud to have. Next to them is my uncle's baby picture who died at 11 after thwacking his skull on pavement while riding a wheelie on a bicycle. My parents once told me I was named after him and it was fitting because I was also a daredevil who crashed a lot.

    In my dads twighlight years I became his care taker since I was single and had no life to speak of outside of work. It was an honor as much as a chore. When he became the older man he was also a lot more relaxed. So I got to see a side of him only my mom or his friends who had since passed on got to see. I got to hear great history of his life and really got to understand what a gentleman he was. I got to hear where the name Kate came from too. When I got remarried years after a divorce my wife quit her job and became his caretaker. To my dad she was a cross between my mom and that redheaded gal Kate. Someone who was there when the chips were down. My wife was his new buddy and he called her "DeeDee" sometimes. That was my mom's nickname. Her and I learned a lot about health issues as we learned how to help him. Often times we could see problems developing before they grew too bad. Reading, talking to his doctors and just getting lucky sometimes we worked as a team with my oldest son who had gone to live at my dads.

    So this was all prompted after visiting my twin in the ICU yesterday after he had a massive heart attack the previous evening. He is going to live a long fruitful life if he listens to his doctor. I saw numbers on the machines he was hooked to that I learned during the times helping my dad are actually pretty scarey. His wife said he has no clue how bad it is but doesn't want to scare him. I knew from helping my dad that is actually a good idea. If my brother does not take his doctors advice we'll probably be at his funeral before fall this year. Yet he is the one of the four that always led a healthy life style. My oldest brother had a stroke in November last year and is now blind in one eye. Now he is like Keith Richards in that he shoulda been gone 25 years ago. My sister was told she had been diagnosed with terminal liver disease from being over weight for decades. Ugh. Now my twin is showing signs of being visited by the Grim Reaper. My sister said her deal is in remission so that's great news. My oldest brother is returning to as normal as a person who had a massive stroke could ever hope for too. It turned out that during the "routine surgery" a piece of plaque in my moms artery broke free and blocked blood flow to her brain stem. They know better these days and took precautions when performing 2 on my twin brother Thursday night. He was telling me how his doctor had explained how things have progressed since the late 1980's apparently while my brother was having it done since they don't even knock you out anymore. Yet the words "outpatient procedure" are no longer mentioned.

    My dad enventually succumbed to heart failure some ten years after being told he had 90 days or less. He was real sick one day and I took him to see his heart doctor. The man asked if he had stopped smoking and my dad said he hadn't. The man looked at me and said "get him the hell outta here and don't bring him back". So I wheeled him out in his wheelchair. He gets home and calls my sister and tells her "doc Says I'm all healed and don't need to come back". lol. A few days later my sister was all hollering at me to tell him the truth. That he is going to die soon. "No freaking way" I said. If he thinks he's dieing he'll make it happen I figured. That's why I agree with my brothers wife about not telling him how close he came and how close he could still be if he doesn't do right. Stress is his achiles heal.
    So was my mothers. Taking things too personal will kill your@$$ quicker than smoking, drinking and burning the candle at both ends. Yet it's all too easy to do. Especially these days with instant communications, deadlines and commitments getting harder to fulfill or just not taking the time to pause and reflect sometimes.

    It's crazy to think how quickly the decades have gone past. My pop will be gone 9 years in a few days. Yet it still seems like only a couple of years ago we were celebrating my mom achieving a goal of fitting 1000 lights on her 6' tall Christmas tree. So the philosphy of walking slow and drinking plenty of water as radio host Jack Gravely used to say seems even more like a good idea on a chilly Saturday morning in February 2020 than usual to this story teller.
    Life is short. Each day is a gift. Try not to go to bed angry. Live each day as if it was your first (not last). Be kind to your neighbors. Be glad with each day for it may be your last.
    Cliche's that we hear a lot but really don't consider often enough. We should.
    RIP Woods Walker.
    Last edited by bykfixer; 02-22-2020 at 11:15 AM.
    John 3:16

  23. #263

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    Today was 9 years ago since my pop was called home to go fishing with my mom at the big lake in the sky. I remember thinking after a few days there he'd probably go target shooting at the big range in the sky because mom had out fished him yet again. See back in the 1970's my pop was set up to join the BASS Pro circuit yet his state of the art (back then) graphite rods and exo-lures the size of a small chicken could not catch as many fish as my mom with her Zebco 202 and a beetle spin.

    When my mom died he stayed to himself for a couple of years and developed some health issues. Then one day he said "I'm done grieving" and that was that. He started living again and began life from a point he left off the day he married my mom including catching up with buddies from that point in time. Like a lot of people, his two favorite buddies were still living just like they did way back when. Hunting, fishing, relaxing and setting around telling stories of days gone by. My dad went to work one day and at quitting time punched his time card and announed that day had been his last. He had put it off for two years after filing paper work, but the lady in HR told somebody who told somebdy. And my pop wanted to just leave with no hooplah. So he waited then did it his way.

    The health thing was no biggy to him as he was a simple man who did not understand all latin words like diabetes, ketone levels and neuropothry. He figured stewing over that stuff causes stress and stress will kill ya. He said "stress killed your mom at 60, and I plan to celebrate my 88th birthday." Doctors gave him a 50/50 chance to make it two more years. So he decided he was going to live life while he still could. He bought a second hand pickup truck and with his buddies built a 100 yard shooting range next to the "hunt shack" he and his buddies hung out in each day. That lasted a few years until one of the two fellows died in his living room one day. It turns out his 4th battle with cancer was the final battle. Again my dad went into mourning for a while.

    By then he was ready for a heart bypass surgery. That was when my pop became an old man. Now he had lived 10 years longer than predicted after celebrating #72. But his buddy was gone, his heart was broken in one sense but fixed in another sense. Yet the spring in his step never returned. I was furloughed for a bit and spent a month at my dads lending a hand while he healed. My older brother had had a hernia fixed and was laying around a lot. Now my pop had just had his ribs separated but on day 3 at home said "call your brother and tell him quit being a <insert bad word here>" so I did. Basically my brother was drinking a lot back then and was using the surgery as an excuse to stay intoxicated and my pop knew that. When asked how painful a heart surgery is he replied "didn't hurt one bit. Uh, that was not the case but I never reminded him how miserable he was at first. I was glad he forgot.

    So a time later my dad had a surgery to invert a vein in his leg that was clogged with plaque. That one really took a lot of wind out of his sales. I was living 350 miles away but a few months later moved in with him. He had a cleaning lady who cooked his meals, which is probably why he did not starve. See, my twin helped out while I was living away, but my dad would not accept his help. My twin visited before and after work every day only to see my pop refuse to eat or bath. He was commiting suicide one cigarette at a time as he passed the time by chain smoking and eating Snickers bars even though he was diabetic. The cleaning lady forced him to eat right and bath regularly. She gave him no choice. Do right or face the wrath of a snarling Jamaican lady. She also forbid him from smoking around her. One day I moved back to my dads house and turned 40 in my old bedroom. Ugh! It was tough at first due to being a grown man back living in his dads attic. I felt like a failure for a while. But one day the A/C broke and when I fixed it with a 49 cent part I began to feel like fate had done me a favor.

    My pop had somebody to talk to and I could keep up his required maintenance after living in apartments a while where there aint much to do regarding manly do it yourself stuff. It was cool after a while. Then my 19 year old son moved in too. He was floundering around before that and soon had a full time job along with attending college full time. Now like my dad, my son does not talk much. Ask what time it is and you get the time. Me? Ask me what time it is and I'll explain how to build a clock. So one day my pop said "he don't talk much" about my son. I said "you don't either". He said "what do you mean by that?" I told him the story of one afternoon they were watching a baseball game. They both sat silently during the nantional anthem. After that my son said "this may be a pitchers dual". My pop said "low scoring probably". Silence until the third inning. My pop said "pitchers dual". My son said "kinda boring". Silence until the 7th inning stretch when my son said "that's a nice ball park". My dad said "I've never been to a pro game". At the end of the game at about 9:00 pm my dad said "see ya in the morning". I was sitting in the next room reading a magazine.

    But when my pop had issues like bumping into furniture from being wobbly or needed help putting on shoes, one of us was there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until I worked on a project that was 18 hour days 6 days a week. There were gaps that the cleaning lady could help with. I began dating Mrs Fixer and stayed at her place during the week. Her place was 5 minutes from my 18 hour a day project. My dads house was an hour away. We got married after about a year of that and moved a block away from my dad. She became the cleaning lady. So between her, my son and I my dad had round the clock coverage. But becoming more frail with time he spent a lot of time in hospitals or rehab building up strength to return home after a bout of pnuemonia, or a taking a spill.

    So when he developed a head cold that turned into pnuemonia we figured "eh, it's just episode #22, he'll be home soon". But one Saturday he asked my brothers and sister to visit him in the rehab facility he was in. They did. I visited after they had left. He asked for a peach milk shake. "huh?" "he hates peaches", but we found him one at a nearby Hardees. Then he wanted a chocolate shake. "Now that's more like it" I thought. He drank his shake and fell asleep. It was bedtime anyway so Mrs Fixer and I left for the evening. He had asked me if I was happy. "Of course" I said "how about you?" He replied he had seen all of his children on the same day so yeah he was happy.

    Next morning my wife went to see him and make sure he ate his breakfast. I was planning on going after lunch. She came home and we went to the store to pick up supper for that evening. While at the store she got a call saying my dad was being rushed to an ER and it aint good. She dropped me off at home to grab my truck while she went to pick up her son at a friends and would come to the ER. When I arrived at the ER they told me my pop was pretty much dead even though his body didn't know it. "No way" I thought. While he was laying on a bed in the ER motionless, still breathing they told me it was just a matter of time. He stopped breathing. I touched his leg and said "uh, dad if you want to celebrste #88 you need to wake up". He started breathing again. By then my brothers had arrived. We left the room and talked nearby. I figured he wanted to go in peace and a room full of wailing people would not set well with him. So I'd step back in and talk a bit more about how everybody was there. I did not have the courage to be there at the end with my mom and dammit I wasn't going to make that mistake again.

    Mrs Fixer was a wreck. She had never lost a parent and had begun to think of my dad as her dad. She had really bonded with him in a short time and was devistated he was gone too soon. I reminded her doctors have given him 2 years about 20 years ago and gave him 30 days or less twice……3 years ago. She decided it was best that he had gone home to be with my mom. He had called her my moms name a few times so she figured he would be happier with the real DeeDee (my moms nickname). After a few hours we all left and went home. I was alone in my truck driving down a country road. I cracked the driver side window and just meditated on the way home. I felt the world was short a good man now but was honored to have known him in his twighlight years when he was a much more patient person so his absolute wisdom was much easier to comprehend.

    A few days later there was a funeral. Unlike my moms, his was only a handful of people. He had outlived nearly everybody he once knew and being a person who chose to live in solitude mostly the only people there were his favorite people. I really enjoyed the preachers closing words. "So as we close we do not say goodbye, but instead knowing we'll be together again we say see you later.
    RIP pop.
    Last edited by bykfixer; 02-27-2020 at 06:20 PM.
    John 3:16

  24. #264

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    Rodney:
    So a couple of decades ago I was a person who wore many hats at work. I was a bonifide government official in a small town who had many roles since a typical small town has a small staff. Part of that role was to watch over contruction of new subdivisions. At that point in time the economy in America was in full throttle mode. So the housing industry was booming. Local land developers would hire somebody to build infrastructures to supply utilities to the houses being built that sold nearly as fast as they could build them. It was crazy times and I stayed pretty busy. But this one contractor was noticeably better at putting in water and sewer systems than anybody else around. They were a small-ish company owned by a man who had worked for a failing company in the 1970's and bought it when the economy crashed in the late 70's. He kept many of the employees. Some were his kin, others were neighbors of his kin. In the early 1980's the economy turned around and those guys were suddenly in demand. The new owner had a rock solid reputation and developers wanted his company to install pipes for them. Partly because they were good at it, but also fast. Those guys could get done in a day what it took others a week to do. Their boss treated them well and payed them well. So there was a loyalty not like with other companies. Partly because many were family or friends, but partly to a bonus system by the owner. There were little competions. Not who could do it faster, but who did it with the least errors.

    Before a new system gets activated it gets tested. Take a water main for example. You pressurize the line well beyond its normal requirements in order to look for leaks. Leaks mean you have to dig up joints or bends to find where you did it wrong. Well that company worked hard and played harder. They were a bunch of country boys who often celebrated life. At that time paintball war was a big thing in the country. The company owner held big parties for his employees on a vast spread of land and paintball was one of their favorite recreations. But if you were a pipe layer for example and had a leak last week, the "tag your it" approach to paintball meant going home from a paintball war pretty sore with welps. A backhoe operator who nicked a pipe, or a foreman who lost a quantity contest paid a price too. But they had fun. Yet nobody wanted the stigma of being it because they were all so loyal to each other and the owner.

    My job was not only to make sure they built the pipe systems correctly, but make sure when they filled the trenches with dirt they took the time to properly compress the dirt so no settled ditches occured in the roadway these pipes were under. They had equipment that got it done fast, but also done well. When I took over the job there were lots of subdivisions with settled trenches all over the place. I had come from maintenance and had personally shoveled asphalt over top of these settled ditches. My goal was to make sure others did not have to. At one point this one subdivision required pipes to be buried really deep. Well, really deep compared to what I was used to then. One day a foreman I was talking to said next week they were going to start putting in a sewer line. I asked if he was going to be the one doing it. He chuckled and said "oh no, Rodneys doing that one". I had never met this Rodney character. But that crew spoke of Rodney like he was Steve McQueen, Julius Ceaser and Al Capone all rolled into one.

    When installing a sewer line the waste runs down hill. So when building a sewer they start at the lowest point and work uphill. The bottom of the sewer ended at a giant manhole that has pumps that push the waste to another giant manhole a few miles away, then eventually to a really big manhole where the waste is treated and sterilzed. So that Monday I see the biggest digging machines I ever saw driving to that project. Many giant Tonka toys are carried to a site on a trailer and dropped off. But these Tonka toys arrived in pieces. The normal sized equipment is used to assemble these monsters like you see on tv. The digging bucket for example was nearly big enough to put a house in. It took a couple of days to assemble the diggers and loaders. Then one day this Rodney character shows up. Now I'm thinking this fellow with a larger than life reputation would be some 6'4" dude with arms as big as my head. But I saw was this thin quiet fellow who stood about 5 and a half feet tall and had a pirate style ear ring. By the end of the day his crew had dug a 50 foot deep hole, set a gigantic concrete manhole in it, refilled the hole and spread out all of the extra dirt into a small dirt bike style set of jumps his crew was going to play on that weekend. "Holy crap, this guy is both Kool and the Gang" I thought. Every project I was at that Rodney ran things was another amazing site to behold. Watching his crew build stuff was a thrill to see. Done fast and done right. On a side note, every subdivision that company installed water and sewer at in my city to this day has zero settled trenches.

    Life took me from that job to other greener pastures. So I lost track of the folks that worked for that company. Even though I was the enforcer to those people they still treated me like family. My job was small potatoes compared to what it led to later. Once there was a time when a million dollar waterline was a huge deal. Later I oversaw things in the hundreds of millions. Even billions. Bridges, canals, interstate highways etc. Yet every where I went I had not seen the caliber of ability that one company posessed in spades. Then one day I was tasked to fill in for a man who was having a bionic knee installed. That company was installing the pipes for that one. The boss told me to watch over the pipes being installed. I was met with hugs and hand shakes by everybody in that company. It was like returning from a trip to Mars and seeing the same people, the same smiles, the same dedication to quality and quantity. They all had gray hair with wrinkles and moved slower. One guy had gotten really fat. Really really fat. But it was great catching up, and a few I was able to tell how being around them decades before had changed me for the better.

    One day my boss said "those guys are amazing, in my 40 years of doing this I have never seen such a good group of guys". For me it was like my own little secret gold mine. When those guys bragged to my bosses of my abilities it was a huge boost in not only my morale but in my career later on. I had always wanted to be like that Rodney character, and suddenly people on my side of the fence saw me in a new light. To them I was Rodney.

    Of course I asked "where's old Rodney working these days?". The reply was "he quit" so I just figured he was moved onto bigger and better. Yet it turns out he is a guy in a red robe at a Lowes store in plumbing. Just some schmuck who tells you what aisle the light bulbs are on. Rodney had a brand new baby girl when I met him. She was the twinkle in his eye. Everything he strived for, the big house, the farm he later bought, the horses, the money he stashed for her college was why he got out of bed everyday and worked sunup to sundown, always at full throttle. But one day his teenage daughter bedded down with a thug nasty dude. She apparently refused to see he was a dangerous person until the day he beat her to death. It seems that for two years he struggled with watching his daughter be hospitalized by that guy, or showed up for Sunday dinner with another black eye. Meanwhile she had a daughter of her own by this hoodlum. Rodney had a grand daughter. Now he used to be the sort of guy who would take care of things the country way. This thug would just disappear one day and turtles in a nearby swamp would be well fed for a time. (wink wink) But his daughter would disown her dad if any harm came to the guy. It seems that ole Rodney was distracted a lot at work or just missed time while he drank into a two week stuper.

    The day came to identify the body of his daughter. The grand daughter came to live with Rodney. Then a custody suit took place so Rodney was in court trying to keep his grand daughter from being raised by the monster who had skated on the murder charge on a technicality. One day he checked out I was told. He disappeared for a few months and when he resurfaced it was to call his boss to say he was quitting his job. When the foreman told me that Story I was in shock. The next day my dad took a turn for the worse and passed a few days later, so life was all about that for a period. But one day I made my way into that Lowes on a day Rodney was working. Here comes walking my way this thin quiet guy with the same cheshire grin and a cocky swagger in his steps. Everybody that worked for that company back then walked like Vinnie Vegas in Pulp Fiction. But Rodney had it toned down to where it just looked Steve McQueen cool. We talked for a bit, not mentioning the tragedy, but about life as it is now. He said it came a day when he decided to liquidate everything, move to a tiny house and work at a place like Lowes where there is no pressure to do anything more than tie on his red robe and assist customers. He eventually got custody of his grand daughter too. His wife, once an executive at a law firm now drives a school bus.

    He has now gone from full time to part time status at Lowes since he owes nobody anything other than taxes and utilities. To me this guy has lived a life many strived for. Then tradgedy caused him to live a second life others have strived for. There was a life nobody would wish on their worst enemy in between. I had my share of tragedy at points, but nothing like that. One day I woke up to a new way of looking at things much like that guy I wanted to be like someday. While in Lowes last night I realized I am a lot like Rodney in some respects. He was once pretty famous in the road construction world. I was a who's who of municipal employment. We both lived a dreadful life for a time at about the same time then later found inner peace without all that fame. He is just some guy with a red robe and a pirate ear ring who shows an elderly couple where the picture frame nails are in a shopping mall sized box store and I'm just a gray haired baseball hat wearing kid showing young people how to write reports each day. When we parted company last evening he patted me on the shoulder and swaggered off to plumbing fixtures to help a customer. He has no idea how much that pat on the shoulder meant nor how much putting life into perspective it entailed this morning.
    I am truely honored to know that guy.

    Mrs Fixer said "how come he always smiles like that?" I replied "that's just Rodney being Rodney.
    Last edited by bykfixer; 03-07-2020 at 10:07 AM.
    John 3:16

  25. #265

    Default Re: So... Once Upon a Time...

    At my dads funeral gathering the night before some folks from that construction company mentioned in the previous post were there representing the owner who paid them to attend since he could not. That was pretty cool I thought. One guy who had replaced Rodney was asked to go to represent the owner while the rest were there as an honor to my family. At that point not many of the numerous people I had once dealt with at work knew I was even back around. One day I was their inspector, next day I was gone. One day I was just done and left. At times I had seen Rodney at various places. We would shoot the breeze like typical men in our field. So in so has a John Deere this or that, such n such finally bagged that 22 point buck fondly named Bullwinkle. Stuff like that. He knew why I had left my job at the government, but he was still in his role as miracle maker for his boss.

    So the day I ran across folks still working for that company he used to they knew I had landed on my feet after a hard time, but did not know where I was. The last time I had seen Rodney I was living in another state but was at a home depot buying something for my dad. I was in town for that day. There are times even now when I see somebody in a store and they say "how long have you been back?" I reply "15 years" to hear "hell nobody knew where you were". I reply is "don't tell anybody you saw me please". Fame aint all it's cracked up to be in my view. But every so often life puts you in the same spot as people who really made a difference long ago. Sometimes you didn't even realize how much that persons influence had placed a curve in the path called destiny.

    Other times you stumble across people who quickly remind you why you did not like them a long time ago, and still don't. That's the ones I tell "don't tell nobody you saw me". I'd really like to play a game of darts with ole Rodney some day, yet it will probably never happen. Neither of us even own a set of darts these days. While chatting with him in Lowes I was holding some air filters for my climate control system and remarked "when I first met you these things came in a box of. 24 for $5". Him being the genious that he is took note I was holding the budget version and says "yeah and those cheap ones are $5 apiece now". I said "yeah but small flashlights can do a thousand lumens these days" and he replied "and cars that go 150 mph can get up to 32 mpg". He was wearing a 25 year old pair of boat shoes and I was wearing a 20 year old zippered hoody.

    I also bought a pair of insulated gloves that are thin enough to button my shirt while wearing them. We both agreed it is a great time to be alive because we have been living long enough to appreciate many of the modern advancements while still being young enough to adapt to the rapidly changing world. We both understand how simple pleasures in life are easy to come by if you just slow down enough to see them. How what was once seen as ordinary can seem outdated or even strange. The technological advances unnoticed by many are modern miracles to others.

    The thing I remember is a day working next to a lake and a guy in a sail boat asked if he could drive the backhoe a guy digging next to a lake with was running. The backhoe operator replied yes as long as he could drive that sailboat. Both Rodney and I have driven the backhoe of life where you build things at a frantic pace but now enjoy driving the sail boat of life at a much slower pace. And everything is cool as long as we remember to take our little pills each day that without we would end up dead a lot younger. Pills needed after living life at a frantic pace once upon a time that inflicted wear and tear on our mortal shells. But thanks to technological advances we can enjoy the ride a little longer
    John 3:16

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