Sunday, December 26, 2010

Silent Night

All's quiet on the western front. 12 o'clock and all's well. Quiet as a mouse. Marley was dead. Oh, no, wait. Dead as a door nail. There, that's better. It's not even Christmas eve yet things are pretty slow. We are actually closed from 12:00a.m. until 8a.m. Christmas eve to Christmas morning. I get the night off. With no pay evidently. This kind of bums me out. I always look forward to being around in the wee hours for the people who need things on Christmas eve. People do come in to gas up for the trip to Grandmother's house, or to get that forgotten loaf of bread or gallon of milk. Of course the big seller tonight is scratch off lottery tickets. The dream of big money is always a good last minute stocking stuffer.

Wow! A guy who has become a regular over the last few weeks just came in to buy his vanilla mini Dutch. As I'm ringing him out he asks, "Hey, you smoke don't you"? "Sure", I say. I'm ready for him to ask if he can bum one. "Why don't you grab a pack. I'll buy 'em for you". I'm flabbergasted. "Really"? "Sure, why not"? I ask again and he assures me it is something he wants to do. "Enjoy your night" he says as he's making his way out the door. Huh. I guess he felt bad that I was working the over night so close to Christmas.

How do you end up reacting to Christmas? Is it a joyous, festive time where the birth if the infant reigns supreme? Perhaps it's one of the two times a year you make it to church. You end up praying that the walls don't fall in on you triggering the Apocolypse. Maybe you spend the season filled with anxiety over money and gifts and appearances. So many of us spend the last few months of the year in a blue funk. Depressed over life and death and things we just ultimately can't control. Maybe you find yourself alone. Trying hard to figure out what to do with yourself on this ultimate family holiday.

I was listening to a show on NPR the other day. It was all about dating, the barren landscape that can present, and a book called something like How to Win Her Love. There was no new earth shattering information as far as I could tell. If you want to meet someone you've just spotted at the bookstore just walk up, be polite and mannerly, and start a conversation. It reminded me of a Christmas present I got when I was younger. It was this Magic Wand. A piece of extruded plastic with a fancy plastic star on top. The directions for a spell on how to get a date with THAT girl were straight forward enough. Wave the wand over your phone while reciting something or other. Pick up the phone and call her. How absolutely funny. There were no guarantees with the wand or the spell. Basically it was find a way to work up the nerve and call her you dingleberry!

Anyway, one of the points that one of the guests was trying to make was what a waste of time it is being depressed over relationships. Be happy with yourself and love will come. One of the things he said was that really, it's our duty to be happy. We owe it to all the people we've known and all of the people we ever will know to always work on being as happy as we can. Our duty to be happy. I don't know. I agree in many ways, but I think the duty lies in being happy for yourself first. I don't mean selfish and rude. I guess being able to love yourself; being comfortable in your own skin. I don't think you can be truly happy or love someone else if you're not ok with yourself first. That's been my life long struggle anyway.

A friend of mine was arguing the point that it's impossible to be happy when everyone is out for themselves. (If I remember it correctly) I think he was looking at it from the dark side though. Use the force. Become happy within yourself and the external garbage doesn't matter so much. The more centered and grounded you are the less other outward problems will bother you. If you are centered and grounded everything else seems inconsequential.

I think.

All right. Enough's enough I guess.

Until next time. Peace.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Little is Enough

As hard as this might be to believe, or maybe it's the admitting of it; I was wrong a couple of months back. I talked for a bit about how custom slows down in the fall and dwindles to a stand still in the winter. We are steadily busy now. Turns out name recognition is a powerful thing. Huh, who woulda guessed? (That was rhetorical) Almost as soon as I start some mindless chore a car rolls in. It's not that I really mind the interuptions. I used to have a rhythm though. I could count on certain quiet times when I got things done. Now I feel rushed to squeeze in stuff between customers. I am thankful that the people who work the shift ahead of me always try and do a few things for me. Stocking cups, cleaning some machine or other. They might seem like small things reading them here. Small matter the most some times.

Well, I did it. I gave my two weeks notice here at the store. It was a no brainer in many respects. I find I am starting to fail at keeping such a schedule on little sleep. I've had such trouble lately waking up from naps. I would miss some overtime at my regular job because I had to leave to take a nap, or on Saturdays and Sundays I am just too tired to stay for more than a couple of hours. I would literally be falling asleep while trying to work. I'd hate to run a drill through my hand or rivet myself to some part I was working on while feeling so sleepy. I used to be ok with it all. It's getting harder and harder though. Maybe if I ever need to I could find something more towards second shift. Wouldn't lose so much sleep then.

Don't get me wrong, as glad as I'll be to feel like I'm getting back to a normal schedule I will miss some of it. Mostly the interaction. The human connection. Good and bad. The regulars who are actually happy to see me there. Small thing I know. Sometimes it's those small things that keep us going.

Well, it's that time of year again. Children dream of catching Santa in the act. Or Sinter Klass, Father Christmas, Pere Noel, Babbo Natale, Swiety Mikolaj, Ded Moroz. Many names in many places. It's all about giving though. No matter how much or how little one gets, it's still about trying to give.

It doesn't matter how much or how little we give either. I have recently read about Marc Gold. Did you happen to see the article entitled The Shoestring Philanthropist in last weekend's Parade magazine? He travels the world giving people a helping hand. His donations have never exceeded $500 yet he has touched countless lives. He bought antibiotics for a woman that saved her life. A sewing machine for another woman who started a business with it. Instead of wanting to grow bigger Gold encourages others start their own sharing. Many times he gives people who are interested in this kind of giving their first $100 donation.

This is spectacular to me. He is not trying to save the world. He isn't paralyzed worried about how much he can give away. He just goes out and does it. We can all do something. Mittens on a mitten tree perhaps? One toy for Toys for Tots? Your time volunteering tutoring students in reading or math? People often feel nervous donating to large charities for fear if where their money goes. Or the old story of giving the person begging on the street. How do you know what that person will your money on? Well you don't have to give on the spur of the moment. If you really want to give take the time to give to something you know in your heart is worthwhile. In these times there are plenty of local charities that really need your help.

Sometimes the small things mean the most. Sometimes a little is enough.

Don't forget, I'm pullin' for ya.

Until next time, Peace

Thursday, December 16, 2010


1a.m. Friday morning. It is cold. Cold with a capital C. Oh heck, make that a capital OLD too. I don't just mean it's December and cold. I like it on the cooler side. I wear shorts for a good part of November. Now? Now my breath freezes on my mustache as I empty the garbages. No grumbling tonight about pesky customers interrupting my chores. Tonight I welcome the chance to step inside and warm up a bit.

A guy was just in, cell phone in hand, buying cigarettes. He was evidently answering a text when he came in. As he's ordering his brand his phone alerts him that the next phase of life is awaiting his attention when he is ready. He's annoyed though. Annoyed that his pregnant wife, or girlfriend or somesuch, contacts him so much. Annoyed that so many people feel free to constantly intrude upon his time. Annoyed that while he illegally talks or texts while he drives he must be ready at a moments notice to hurl the offending phone down so he doesn't get in trouble. Annoyed I tell you! Annoyed, annoyed, annoyed.

I guess he didn't read the manual. It's hidden deep in the small print, but I'm pretty sure the manual explains that it's ok to put the phone down. I think there are even instructions on how to make the phone silent. Or even, gasp, turn it off. I mean if it's that annoying and you are rude and miserable to everyone else around you, do something about it.

Every one has something they'd like to change about themselves. Physically, spiritually, psychologically; I don't know, there are so many things people are dissatisfied with. Maybe the shape of your ears has always bothered you. Are you at peace with the Universe? Do you lack confidence? I have heard or read more than a few times lately that there is and always will be only one you. Simple yet so true. I don't think enough people think of life in this way. No one is born as special as you are. No one can possibly have the same effect on the world as you. We are all worthy of change. We are all worthy of bettering ourselves. You have to start with believing this. Don't let anyone or anything keep you from truly understanding this and making it an integral part of yourself. So many things in this life can keep a person feeling unworthy of good things for themselves. Don't fall into this trap. Remember every day, every hour if you have to that you are good and worthy of love, peace of mind, happiness; what ever it is you feel you are missing in your life.

Twenty one days. That's what people say. Three weeks to make or break a habit. As a friend of mine has said recently, why wait until the New Year to make a resolution. Why not make one now? Be different. You'll be well on your way come New Year's Eve.

Well, this post is late enough. See you in a bit. Peace.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Within You Without You

Well, tonight I am hacking and coughing. Oh yeah, and achy and sneezy. I am somewhere far off in a corner of my head. You know, ears plugged and ringing when you bend over. Dizzy in waves. Tomorrow is gonna be a long day. The trumpet's clarion call of me blowing my nose sounds oft and loud. Ok, more like a fog horn. I tend to blow my nose too hard. There's one guy at my regular job who teases me every time he happens to hear me blow. He'll look up surprised. He glances at his watch, shrugs his shoulders and makes to leave like it's break time. We laugh at this every time. I think we laugh only because he carries it out every time. Like a tradition. Something we will always share underneath everything else. It's a small way in which we are connected. For some reason I just find the idea of him doing that funny. I sit here alone giggling out loud to myself. Eh, maybe I'm feverish.

It's almost 1am Saturday morning now. It was definitely hell at work Friday. All I craved was to curl up and sleep. Perchance to dream of not feeling like crap.

Dualism. Dualism is a twofold division in several spiritual, religious, and philosophical doctrines. Dualism is also a philosophy of mind where the mind and body are considered irreducibly distinct. The soul can exist without a body. And for our zombie fans out there the body surely can exist without a soul. That brushes the topic so lightly. People from Zarathushtra to Aristotle to Plato to Descarte have wrestled with the concept.

It's simply staggering the forms dualism takes. It's all over the place. In religion, politics, physics, feminist theory. There's more, but I gotta get going here.

The title of the George Harrison song Within You Without You has always fascinated me. Life goes on within you on two levels. Both the workings of the mind and the body. Life goes on without you; what's outside of you and well, you know, with out you. Pottersville and all that.

For those who ever took the time to ponder who their favorite Beatle was; I'd have to say mine was George. He wasn't political and hard like John. He wasn't cutesy and fluff like Paul. Ringo was, well, Ringo. George was the quiet almost forgotten one it seems to me. He was the one always searching I think. He had a yearning for people to realize their own greater good for the betterment of the world. He certainly searched long and hard for his own peace of mind.

So while a lot of people I know mourn the loss of John Lennon and listen to his Marxist manifesto Imagine; ponder these lyrics of George's from Within You Without You, "When you've seen beyond yourself-then you may find, peace of mind, Is waiting there- And the time will come when you see we're all one, and life flows on within you and without you."

It's the seeing beyond yourself that is so hard most of the time. To shake off whatever is holding you down at any given moment and truly know that the person sitting at the next work cubicle or across town at the lunch counter; the guy waiting for a train in New York, the Mom comforting her baby in Cairo; we are all connected. We are all one. We have basically the same hopes and fears. We feel the same emotions. It's within you and without you. We are tied together as surely as anything can be on this blue globe.

I'm pullin' for ya. Peace

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Last Thanksgiving these two very drunk, barely English speaking guys came in the store some time in the middle of the night. Oh let's call it 2:00am just for the heck of it. I had seen them a few times before and knew they lived in the apartments just across the street. One guy wanted coffee. The other wanted hot dogs. In fact he wanted thirty hot dogs. Pointing to the roller grill he slurred, "Thirty hot dogs". "Thirty"? I asked. "Yes". "No, I can't make you thirty hot dogs". A little frustrated with me he repeated his request, "Thirty hot dogs". He is so drunk I ask him again if it's thirty hot dogs he wants. Yes it is. We go back and forth like this a few more times. Finally I ask in Spanish, "Treinta"? "Yes". I tell him one more time to forget about it. I couldn't have fit that many on the grill. So it would've been two batches of hot dogs at forty minutes to an hour each. Call me a cynic if you must; something told me no matter how adamant he was he didn't really want thirty hot dogs. He wanders around and finds a couple of cheese burgers to throw in the microwave. The other guy comes up with his coffee and a couple of cheese burgers also. He was going to pay for everything. The motion of digging his hand in his pocket almost made him fall over. They left once he paid and I could see them sitting on the curb eating with drunken fervor. I guess I was so flummoxed by the hot dogs I paid little or no attention to what was going on with the coffee. I was not prepared for what greeted me when I came from behind the counter to see what needed cleaning up. I would love to know how many cups of coffee this guy spilled. It was everywhere. It was as if he bad poured ten cups, set them in a row, knocked them over and splashed around in it a bit for good measure. When I went out later to sweep the parking lot there were cheese burger wrappers strewn about that I had to clean up. I've never seen them again.

I woke up with a start from my nap tonight surprised that I was up before the alarm. I stretch and begin to rouse myself. No, wait. What time is it? I quickly reach for my phone to check the time. 2:00am! Holy... Oh man! My shift starts at ten. I am four hours late in the blink of an eye. I can see there are some missed calls, voice mails and text messages. I don't bother with any of those and call the store straight away. "I'm SO sorry! I guess my alarm didn't go off". It ended up ok with a few people switching shifts. I stopped by the store later in the day to talk to the manager who had to cover the shift for the woman who covered mine. Ends up every one had been worried when I didn't call that I had quit. That's a big thing in this company I guess. People quit without a word. No call, no show. Nah, not me. I'll give my two week notice when the time comes. With relish. Finally going through the texts I discover the key to why I was late. I had set my alarm early so I could make a stop before work. There was a text asking me if I could stop by the next day not tonight. I answered yes. The original text came twenty minutes before my alarm. My response was sent two minutes after my alarm. Evidently I woke to the alarm, answered the text and fell back asleep. I think. I don't remember any of it.

So, having missed a night of work I was not able to finish this post in a timely manner. They say one of the keys to blogging is consistency. Oops.

I'll finish quickly. I promise.

I guess for a lot of people the holidays have become a crushing weight. Instead of a time to show your true love for family and friends it's a race to the end and heave a sigh when it's over. The whirlwind from Thanksgiving to Christmas is enough to make you dizzy. The thing is you don't have to feel that way. Go against the grain this year. Be nonconformist. Why not hand make some presents this year? People really will appreciate the thought and love behind something you've spent time on. It doesn't have to be about spending money you don't have. Give gifts that matter. Gifts you give because you want to. Be a misfit this year. Show people you really care. Stay away from the mall. Give of yourself and your time. People will remember that long after the socks have holes in them.

See ya next time.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Games People Play

I wish sometimes I was a better person. See I just found myself being knowingly petty. And passive aggressive. Oh I know. I can hear your gasps of horror.

As soon as I saw the blue Toyota pick up truck pull up to pump 5, I knew. As soon as I saw the grumpy old man I knew. I felt the plug pulled, draining away any semblance of good humor I was feeling just then.

This gas station still has the option to pump your gas first and then come in to pay. The only catch is is that there is a simple sequence that must take place before you can pump your gas. You take the nozzle from the pump and press which grade of gas you want. This tells me your intention. More importantly it allows me to activate the pump. You have to press the button. I can't turn the pump on otherwise.

So we have this ritual, he and I. It's a whole process. I see him pull up. He gets out of his truck and puts the nozzle in the filler tube. He looks over at me waiting for me to turn the pump on. I look at him blankly. He knows. He knows the deal. I have seen him almost every week for two years now. If I could turn the pump on before he pushed the button I would. I grow so weary of his game. I know I've mentioned him in passing in other posts. I've never told the whole story though. When he's done pumping and comes in to pay he throws his bills across the counter. He will always say, "I've got the change", and digs out a handful of coins from his pocket. He'll ask, referring to how much change he owes, "What is it"? I tell him. He counts it out one coin at a time. He slides, rolls, and bounces it toward me so I have to play goalie for him. Usually I just hand him the two or three dollars, say thanks and wish him a good night or some such.

Tonight I rebelled. He held out his hand for the change. I had the three dollars in mine. I paused. I tossed the money on the counter in front of him. He scooped the money up and turned to get something in the store. He handed me whatever it was and slid the three dollars toward me. I now had coins in my hand to give him. He held out his hand. I paused ever so slightly. I slid the coins toward him on the counter so they landed in a neat straight line that he had to pick up one by one. He didn't say a word. He didn't blink. He just picked up his change, turned and walked out. Did he even realize that I was so demonstratively disrespecting him? It doesn't seem so.

Yeah. Pretty evil huh? Why don't I just talk to him you might ask. Tell him, gently, how rude he seems and how it makes me feel? Maybe I will next time. It's not my "place" though you see. It would be rude and out of place, wouldn't it? I'm supposed to smile and nod and say thanks.

Every one has boundaries. Every one has some line in the sand some where. I guess the problem comes when desires bump into boundaries. Well needs versus desires really. Are you willing to relax your boundaries for what you desire? I have to believe Angie (the young woman from my last post) knew it was wrong when she started skimming from the register. She probably needed the money because she wanted something. It was just a game she was playing with herself. Justifying the means and all. Did I know I was wrong and being petty tonight? Umm, yes. My desire to show this customer how disrespect feels over rode my need to be better than all of that. You have to be mindful. No matter how strong your boundaries are there are always patches that have been rubbed thin making it easier for that line to be crossed either by you or to you.

very quickly I want to tell you of the futility of one of my chores here and then I'll let you go. Every Saturday night I have to stuff the Sunday papers. It starts with the inserts I stuff into the comics. Later when the body of the newspaper gets here I stuff the comics and inserts into that. There are thirty papers to stuff. As I do this I wonder how many papers we actually sell on Sundays. To be honest I hardly ever think about this place when I leave here Sunday mornings so I never think to ask when I come in and see some one who would know. Some one actually mentioned it to me the other day. The woman I was relieving a week or so ago was noticing the inserts sitting on the floor waiting to be stuffed. She said she would never understand why we get so many papers on Sunday; when she works Sunday nights she throws out 25 papers. Wow. I try to make sure that the papers are put together the same way every week. That when somebody comes and buys their paper it will be the same. What ever ritual that person carries out with their Sunday paper can be performed uninterrupted. Guess it doesn't really matter how I do it. I mean I'll do it the same way as before it becomes much more of a Zen exercise though.

Had enough for one week?

See ya next time. Peace.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bohemian Rhapsody

So it's Thursday night again. My night so far? As soon as I walk in the guy I'm relieving asks, "Did you hear about Angie"? Angie is pretty young. Nineteen. Maybe twenty. She's had her hand in the till.

We had our monthly audit this past week and ended up somewhere around twelve hundred dollars short. Evidently she has been ringing merchandise up but not finalizing the sale. She would tell the customer the total, take the money and give out change. She would void everything before actually ringing it through. The area behind the counter is 6' x 16'. There are seven cameras in the store. Four of them are behind the counter. FOUR. From what I understand you can see her on the tapes putting the cash on top of the register and later pocketing it.

This is the same girl who called me a few weeks ago asking if I could come in early because she felt so sick. I was wicked sick myself with only four hours of sleep over the last thirty six hours. I was kinda grumpy that she woke me from my nap. Since I was awake though I said I'd come in as soon as I could. When I got there she was standing out in front of the store with her boyfriend smoking a cigarette and just laughing and laughing over something. She was having such a good time. I went in the store and started to count my drawer. As Angie came in with her boyfriend I could see him texting. He asked "When should I tell her we'll be there"? "Fifteen minutes", she replied. This certainly caused a Spock like raised eyebrow from me but, I said nothing. And then she left. She hadn't said hello, thanked me for coming or apologized for waking me. She barely said good bye. I was feeling slightly put upon to say the least. As it turns out I was only the latest to help her out while she was under the weather. She's been avoiding coming in lately. Not a no show no call like she's quit. She's called out a few times since the audit. I guess she doesn't want the confrontation. That or she doesn't want to feel the sting of the ax. Either way, not a good way to start your adult life.

What's next on Your Hit Parade?

Why the machete wielding thieves of course.

As I was leaving last Sunday morning the last customer I saw told us to be careful today; a 7-Eleven in town had just been robbed by two men with machetes. I commiserated with the woman just coming on and left shortly after that. I forgot all about it. The second question tonight was, "Did you hear about the machete robberies"? I explained how I heard about it last Sunday. "Oh, no, there's been more".

Two men wearing all black with some kind of masks have been hopping around the state robbing different 7-Elevens. I imagine these guys are thinking they are extremely clever. Try to be random and all. They are so random in fact they've hit the same place twice. Course they aren't really random are they? Unless they're picking names from a hat somebody will find a pattern.

It's Saturday night. Right on the cusp of Sunday. I am happy to announce that the crime spree is over. Evidently there was surveillance at the next targeted store and the suspects were snagged as they were leaving the store. I haven't heard any other details. Don't know if many stores were watched or if that one was pinpointed. The majority of people that I talk to blame the rising tide of robberies on drugs. I might agree if unemployment wasn't hovering around %10 with no real relief in sight.

The last thing I had planned to share about the start of the night Thursday was about the guy who sneezed in his hand, wiped it on his shirt, and handed me his money.

'Nuff said about that I think.

Oh, I found out Angie was fired Friday. Don't know any of the details. 'Spose it doesn't really matter.

So where does all this lead my wandering mind? Unfortunately for you right back to the haves and have nots. This is where I go all conspiracy theory on you. Have you heard of Bohemian Grove? This all mens club is a yearly meeting of the rich and powerful. One of the accomplishments this group points to is a 1942 meeting to plan the Manhattan Project. How about the Bilderberg Group. Another group of very rich, very influential people from the worlds of politics, the military, banking and industry. These are the haves. Not you. Not me. Probably not even anyone you know. (Well, I don't know who you know but...) No one on the outside really know their aims. One world currency? New World Order? The end of democracy in America? Some believe it's all about ridding the world of most of its pesky population. Well good for them. A video that was making it's way around Facebook was George Carlin speaking his truth. He says there and in many other appearances before that that the ultra rich who are in power don't care about any of us. They just don't care. Period. How we all think we have choices in people we vote for, but don't. No choice in anything really.

So here goes. We do have choices. Right? I mean we all have choices. How do we greet the day? Do you smile and wave at the driver that just cut you off? Do you hang on to things and carry a heavy heart or can you let go and live lightly? Somethings we can control. Be mindful of how you want to represent your spirit on this physical plane.

I always feel like I go on and on. I really have to view this blog on a real computer to see how long some of these posts are. Oh well, time for chores.

See ya next time. Peace.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Stormy Weather

Yup, it's raining. There really isn't much more about rain that I can say at this point that I haven't in the past few posts. It's not violent, cute, or interesting tonight. It's cold and it's raining. Period. Although, this IS the time of year when almost everyone I know starts to say "At least it's not snow"! Later, when it the middle of winter I'll be hearing something like; "You know, every foot of snow equals an inch of rain". I take exception with that statement of course. I mean it depends on the snow doesn't it? Would small, dry, light flakes create the same amount of water as big, bloppy, (An official meteorological term by the way. Ha ha.) wet flakes? Maybe it's time to drag out the old graduated cup and let a few snow falls melt to find out.

Oops. Looks like I managed to talk about the rain anyway.

It's Saturday night now. I had no chance to write last night. At least it's not raining.

There are a few things that keep crossing my mind as things to write about. I don't know how they are connected. They must be though; everything is eventually.

I remember watching the national news when I was a kid and hearing how the gap between the rich and the poor was widening. The haves had more and the have nots, well, had not. It was reported as though it was a new story. A new fact that we should all be alarmed over. I remember thinking this story was of no real consequence. Hasn't this been going on since we were all hunter/gatherers? Once one person has more than another the power and advantage only seem to grow. I'm sure the adage about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer was around long before I first heard it. I think I see now why that story was important then. It's even more important now. With the world's population is approaching 7 billion people there are only so many resources to go around. What happens when gas prices reach, oh I don't know, $10, $15, $20 a gallon? Impossible you say? Keep devaluing the dollar and push us toward one world currency and see what happens. Food will be scarce. What food there is will be whackin' expensive. What happens when potable water becomes scarce? One thing I can tell you for sure is at that point it'll get worse before it gets better. Many people will tell you to start buying gold. It will only go up in value. I tend to side with the people who say start storing food. Learn to tend a garden. Start a community garden. That will save the average person's life more than a lump of gold will.

I hate to be all doom and gloom. Really. It just seems things are going to get worse for the average person before they get better. My only hope is that people remember that together we can weather any storm better than standing alone. That taking care of each other becomes more important than greed.

Enough said I guess.

See you next week. Peace.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

... and in the end...

We've been spoiled here the last few days. After a run of cold nights and crisp New England Fall days we have had an Indian summer. Officially, there needs to be a frost at some point during the cooling weather before the warm stretch. I think we had a frost. If we didn't exactly where I live I know there are plenty of places that did. The exact origin of the term is somewhat clouded. It is either tied to the time Colonists first saw the Natives harvesting their squash and corn crops; the period when Native raids on European settlements ended for the year, or of course closely related to "Indian giver" as in false summer. There are many names for this warm respite from the inevitability of the winter months. In much of Europe there is St. Martin's Summer. In Russia there is Old Ladies' Summer. I imagine the list goes on and on. Those are the only others I know. Feel free to share any others you may know.

It's funny how some things stick with us. Becomes part of us. Part of our mythology. When I was young I always thought of myth as ancient stuff. You know, Zeus and all that lot. It took me a good long time to realize that George Washington throwing a silver dollar across the Patomic say, or some of the deeds of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table were just as much myth. Stitches in the fabric of what makes us us.

No wonder the world is in such shambles though huh? Everybody off in their own corner. Every region silently swayed by such deeply ingrained mythos. Add religion into the mix and I'm surprised people get along at all. Everybody's racing around with their heads down trying to get ahead of the next person. Trying to be more important. Trying to get more money. Drive a better car. Buy the biggest house. Pray to the best God. Every one is out to get for themselves. Screw the next person. We should just hand out guns to every last person. Make it a level playing field.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! What just a second. (Everyone lurch forward as I slam on the brakes.)

I know, I know. Crazy talk from the Night Guy. After all don't we all just want the same thing? Don't we all just want to be safe and secure? To have some stuff to make us feel comfortable? Of course. The thing is can't we do it all together? Can't we give a hand up to the person behind us? Does it all have to be Machiavellian?

If the love you take is truly equal to the love you make; if you really get back what you give, isn't that how we should be striving to get ahead?

Well, running out of time here. Still lots of chores to do.

Until next time. Peace.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Once In A Lifetime

I feel like poetry tonight. I can't make this editor space the words the way I need them though so no rhyming couplets or stylish stanzas tonight. (I can hear your sighs of relief from here.) If I just start pecking at the "keyboard" something will form and I'll be on my way. If I just spout out whatever is on my mind in one long stream of consciousness maybe just maybe some spark will ignite the tinder that will fuel what I need to say.

Or not.

I wrote that last paragraph on Thursday. It it 12:25am Saturday morning now and I have been way too busy to even think about writing.

Ok, ok. There are a few things that I think to share with you now and again.

You would be very surprised at some of the things I find in the garbage here. Not poking and digging. Just casual observation as I am changing bags. Say you had just bought a 20" double headed sex toy. Where would you think to throw out the packaging? Oh wait! I know! Honey pull over into that gas station so I can throw this out. Wouldn't want want my husband/wife/mother/brother/sister/father/kids having the opportunity to find it. I guess I was naive before I started working here. I always thought one would take the time to dispose of something like that in a less trashy way (Oops, no pun intended). Then of course there is all of the empty alcohol containers. From nips to six packs to wine bottles to liters of Jim Beam and the like. Again, pretty naive. I always thought most people were fairly sober while driving. From the evidence I see more people are drunk or stoned. Watch out on the roads is all I can say. It's not just the person leaving the bar that you need to watch out for. People clean out their cars while they're here too. Almost as though seeing a garbage can they don't have to empty is enough to spur some one on to tidy their car. That's ok. That's what the cans are there for. It's a service we provide. What gets me is the person who will spend fifteen minutes cleaning his car and then dump his ashtray on the ground. Or comes in and buys a candy bar and throws the wrapper on the ground. Like it's not litter that some one else now needs to clean up. At least their car is clean. At least once a weekend I will find old car parts. Wiper blades, wires and spark plugs, body moulding. Where were these people when they changed their spark plugs? I mean it was all neat. The old plugs were in the new plug boxes. The wires were rolled up and bundled together. If only I could sell that stuff for scrap.

So it's Sunday morning now and as I was emptying the garbages outside and thinking about what I've been writing and noticing all the thoughtless litter all over the parking lot; I got to thinking about passive aggression. I mean why do most people change once they step in a store? Resentment over having to spend their hard earned money? I will be outside sweeping the parking lot. Some one will pull in get out of their car look at me and throw their cigarette butt on the ground. Then they greet me like I'm a long lost friend. And all the people who put their money on the counter just out of reach so I have to lean way over to get it. It's not just me either. Other people have mentioned this in conversation. Oh well I'm really just spouting about nothing, it's the same as it ever was. It's the same as it ever was. It's the same as it ever was.

A woman came in last night with a quart of half and half. It was no good she said and scolded me for the company selling bad half and half. She had called earlier in the day apparently and was told she could return it. Of course, no problem, so sorry for the inconvenience. She handed me the quart container. If there was a half of a cup left I'd be surprised. The container was dated for November 17th and it was spoiled. Huh. She didn't even want a replacement half and half. Instead she took a gallon of milk. Me thinks she just needed milk.

So I guess all of this rambling leads me to remind you to get what you deserve for your money; you just don't have to treat others with disrespect to get it.

Keep those sticks on the ice.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Love a Rainy Night

Rain. Again. Rain tomorrow too I guess. Slow night. Get to do some extra special cleaning tonight. When this store was bought last January they remodeled top to bottom. There are a few problems with that though. Though it's a tiny store the air conditioning unit could barely handle the load when temps would get up to 80. Through the remodel they managed to squeeze more stuff in the store. More heat producing stuff. By the time the temperature reached 80 this summer it was probably 95 in the store. No matter how long the air conditioner ran and ran there was no cooling this place down. It took probably two weeks before we were given permission to buy a fan. It was just plain hot. As far as I know there are no plans to fix the problem. The other problem happens to be with the new drains installed for the coffee and soda stations. They leak. Empty the coffee pots and the stuff stored in the cabinets below wind up wet or sticky. We were urged at the very beginning to clean under the cabinets every day. Yeah, right! How about fixing the drains? The drains were supposedly fixed today. It only took nine months. I have cleaned all the coffee stains and drippings tonight. We'll find out tomorrow whether I bother to clean the sticky soda. If they still leak, why bother? Not lazy. Just not that stupid.

There was a commotion in the parking lot last Saturday morning. It was around 5:30 or so. I saw a woman walking quickly past the front window. I thought I heard her yell, "Mom, wait!" My relief had just come in and we were catching up on the two weeks since we had seen each other so I didn't really think any more about the yelling woman.

I needed to take out the last of the trash. I gathered it up and headed for the dumpster. As I round the corner there is a woman shepherding a guy across the street. She is yelling at him. "C'mon Rob, get it the car like the man I know you are and let's go". He is drunk (Blackout drunk, acting a complete fool drunk. Bender drunk. I haven't the words for how drunk.) and apparently wanted to visit someone he knows who lives in the apartments across the street. He spots me and says in falsetto, "Ooo, help, help, she's gonna rape me". I ignore him and ask the woman if she is ok. She says yeah it's all ok. I throw out the garbage and head back in.

I am willing to give them a few minutes to straighten everything out and take off. When I tell my co worker the situation she immediately says, "They gotta go! Call the police"!

Great! Now I have two situations. Well, three now that I think about it. The drunk, the woman's safety, and not getting them arrested.

Their car is parked in one of the spots near the dumpster and I head out that way to smoke a cigarette. Okay, to check in on the situation. Now I'm not looking in the car directly, but I can tell that the passenger seat is reclined all the way and there is a tangle of bodies.

It turns out the woman is in the back seat restraining Rob. She's trying to get him to stay in the car so she can get a pack of cigarettes and they can leave. She digs out some money and asks if I could please run in and get her cigarettes. When I come back I ask if she is sure she's ok. She nods. She kisses Rob on the shoulder and, referring to her own actions says, "This is love". I can't help myself. I grunt and tell her no, it's trouble waiting to explode. She says something like been there, done that. I shrug. I tell her I don't care that they are there, that I am leaving soon though and the woman inside is ready to call the police. She makes sure Rob understands this, gets in the front and drives off. I go inside and punch out. I head off for some overtime at my regular job.

Life flows on.

In other news, the drains still leak. Just not as badly. Some one came in tonight and actually gave me the five dollars I fronted them for some gas. (A regular customer) It's been three weeks or more. I had kind of written it off.

See ya next time.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In our world of rush rush rush rush, have it all, have it now, we forget our one of most valuable asset. Our health. So many times the people we count on as partners and caretakers don't give themselves the time to be taken care of.

I don't know the exact demographic for the readers of this blog. Five out of the seven people who have signed on as followers are women so logic would say that the bulk of the people who see this will be women also. I find though that I must pass on a message to any of the men out there.

Do you want to show the women in your life how much they mean to you? Take care of them. Be concerned with their well being. That'll probably get you more points than taking the garbage out on time.

Did you know it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

Though I can only go through some statistics and warnings it's an important enough issue for the tired and grumpy Night Guy to repeat them.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women. According to the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month website,, there are several risk factors. I have lifted some information directly from their site. A lot of us may already know most of this stuff but please pass it on. The more people who are aware, the better chances of a life being saved.

The highest risk factor for breast cancer is being female; the disease is about 100 times more common among women.

The risk of breast cancer increases as a woman grows older. The risk is especially high for women age 60 and older. Breast cancer is uncommon in women younger than age 35, although it does occur. There is some evidence to suggest young African American women are at greater risk for breast cancer than young Caucasian women.

Women who have had breast cancer and women with a history of breast disease (not cancer, but a condition that may predispose them to cancer) may develop it again.

The risk of developing breast cancer increases for a woman whose mother, sister, daughter, or two or more close relatives have had the disease. It is important to know how old they were at the time they were diagnosed.

The next 5 risk factors all involve estrogen, a hormone that naturally occurs in men and women. However, at the time menstruation begins, women start to produce larger amounts of estrogen and will continue to do so until they reach menopause. Estrogen appears to play a key role in breast cancer. Although estrogen doesn't actually cause breast cancer, it may stimulate the growth of cancer cells. Estrogen-related risk factors are:

Having an early menarche (first period or menstrual bleeding). Women who begin menstruating before age 12 are at increased risk of developing breast cancer. The more menstrual cycles a woman has over her lifetime, the more likely she is to get the disease.

Having a first pregnancy after age 25 or 35. Although early pregnancies may help lower the chances of getting breast cancer, particularly before the age of 25, these same hormonal changes after age 35 may contribute to the incidence of breast cancer.

Having no children. Women who experience continuous menstrual cycles until menopause are at a higher than average risk.

Use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Based on the Women's Health Initiative Study (2002), women do appear to have an increased risk of breast cancer while they are on HRT and a short time thereafter, compared to those who have never used postmenopausal HRT. This is based on a study of 16,000 healthy postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 who were taking either estrogen plus progestin as HRT or a placebo (an inactive pill).

Use of Oral Contraceptives (OCs) and Breast Cancer. Current or former use of OCs among women ages 35 to 64 did not significantly increase the risk of breast cancer. The findings were similar for Caucasian and African-American women. Data also show that former OC use does not increase the risk of breast cancer later in life.

Early detection is the most important step to fighting cancer. Men please help take care of the women in your lives. Be aware of the risk factors and help them take care of themselves. Ladies, think of yourselves first some times. Take care of yourselves some times. Please, please, please do a self exam or get a mammogram.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fool In The Rain

More heavy rain forecast for tonight. Biblical stuff from what I gather. Though only for a few hours and not the traditional forty days. The wind is quite raucous in heralding the news of the storm. The garbage cans are having a right jolly time playing in the wind; skittering across the parking lot in some crazy game I don't know the rules for yet. I have to go outside, collect the gabage cans and line them up along the store out of the wind as if they are being punished for playing outside after dark. I suppose they are in a way since I will have extra sweeping to do in the parking lot because of their midnight romp.

"Did you hear about the robbery?" were just about the first words to greet me when I came in tonight. This happened a few days ago. Only a few days before that a drug store just up the road had been robbed. The person I was relieving knew no details except that a woman fairly new to third shift here was working.

As long as I have worked at this gas station men have worked the Night Shift. This always just kinda made sense to me. For safety more than anything else. Meaning absolutely no offense to any women readers out there, but I always figured a man was somehow more of a deterrent. Not that a man would handle the situation any better or more bravely either. It seems the odds are just better against it. I'll have to look that one up I guess.

So... I now have all night to ponder. Were there weapons? Is my co-worker ok? How much was taken? In short I guess, what happened?

And what happens now?

How comfortable am I now? The thought of being robbed has never bothered me. One shouldn't work this shift in a place like this if does. These are desperate times for a lot of people though. Crime seems to be on the rise around here. Are my chances better or worse now of being robbed on my watch? When will I stop looking at people differently? It's not even me who it happened to yet I can't help but wonder how long before things feel back to normal.

The manager came in early in the morning and explained what happened. The clerk evidently went to use the restroom. She did not lock the door when she went. A couple of guys had been watching the store. Waiting for her to disappear into the back for a while. While she was gone they came in and stole some cartons of cigarettes. They left before she came back out. She had no contact with them. She only new from cartons scattered on the floor. The two men did the same thing in a neighboring town and were caught by the police.

Well that wasn't so bad.


I mean what do you think of when some one says a convenience store was robbed? In my head it was all gun waving and violence and threats. I'm not trying to belittle this woman's probable feelings of violation and unease; I'm sure I'd feel the same. All in all though it was the best of outcomes for her.

We do rush to judge sometimes huh? We are a judgmental lot, we humans. We are so willing to take that first bit of information, that first impression, and run with it. How easy it is to think the sky is falling if you never look up. If we never walk that mile in our neighbor's shoes. If we never even try and see the world through another set of eyes. And if we're not willing to do that how can we ever expect to be understood or respected?

How about this; next time either one of us feels like we are rushing in with the fools; let's not. Let's just take it easy on ourselves and each other.

Ok, 'nough of me for one sitting.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chances Are

A customer came in last night that I haven't seen in quite some time. He always comes in on his motorcycle. He'll buy some kind of drink or snack and then sit with them on the curb. Just diggin' the night.

Now if you read my earlier post; The Problem With Kids Today, you know that people are always stopping here and hanging out in one fashion or another. Last weekend a woman came in for non-drowsy cold medicine and proceeded to sleep in her car for the next five hours. Assorted groups of guys will come in buy snacks and stand around by their cars talking. When I tell some of my co-workers about this hardly a one of them can understand why I just let people hang out. "Doesn't that scare you?" "Why didn't you call the police?" Never a word about how good it is for the store that people like to come here. For what ever reason. The manager doesn't seem to have a problem with it and neither do I. It always surprises though me how uptight people get at the thought of people wanting to relax here for a bit. Get what you need and go! A CVS up the road was robbed just last night. Would you feel safer letting people socialize or being completely alone? Either way doesn't bother me. I do know though that the odds are in my favor of not being robbed if there are people around.

Well, let's get back on track here.

The first few times this guy came in be just sat for a while and left. Eventually we started talking. Don't remember how we first started talking. It's just like that sometimes. We were talking last night about a woman he knows who said she wants to get a motor bike. There is always a concern about safety though. He kinda shrugged at that point and said, "We don't control fate."

THAT'S what got me to thinking.

Some time ago I read The Drunkard's Walk; How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mladinow. It's all about famous theorists and mathematicians, statistics, and probability. He talks about such heavy hitters as Bernoulli, Gauss, Pascal and Thomas Bayes. What's that you say? How could I? Well, he's a very good author with a breezey narrative style for such a topic. He discusses for instance the Monty Hall Problem. Ok, you are on Let's Make a Deal. You are trying to win a new car or some other great prize. You choose one of three doors. You are shown a booby prize behind door #2. You now have the option of choosing another door. What's it gonna be? Stick with door #1 or switch to #3? Intuition might sway you either way. Using principles first put down by Gerolamo Cardano in the 16th century you would see that your odds of winning actually increase by switching doors. Or take Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak. If you compare his statistics with other players there end up being something like 85 different players who could have accomplished the same feat. Or a winning streak. Whether it is a movie producer with a string of hits or a football team trying to win it's 18th game in a row. People are so surprised when the next movie is a flop, or that stock that had done so well for so long suddenly nose dives. None of that should be of any great surprise though. Things like that always regress toward the mean. The more you win, the better your chances of losing. Mr. Mladinow explains things in more depth and much better than I ever could. I found it a good read and it will change the way you look at some things.

So. Fate.

No, we can't control where we are born, what kind of family we are born into, the nature of our passing; you know, all that good stuff. We can have a hand in what goes on in between that first shuddering breath and shuffling off this mortal coil though.

Be mindful people. Help take care of each other. The odds are you'll be better off for it.

As Red Green says, "Keep your stick on the ice."


Sunday, September 19, 2010

One Man's Trash

The rain tears out of the sky hurling itself at the ground as if chased by demons. The large store windows have a spray pattern that any forensic investigator would find child's play. Heavy spatter on the bottom where the rain has hit the sill and bounced up onto the window. It becomes less dense as the eye travels up the window. Some drops have bounced very high in the violence of their escape. Others are mere wind strewn accidents. All are brilliantly illuminated by the ranks of canopy lights over the gas pumps.

The few cars I see on the road spray geysers as they plunge along. The people who do come in for gas stay with their cars. No one wants to get soaked impulsively buying candy or a soda.

It's so easy to feel lazy on slow nights like this. I would rather be busy running between chores and customers than plodding along stocking cups again. Mopping the floor, again. Facing off the shelves, again. Wiping down the counters, again. Throwing out wasted food, again. Cutting the headers off old newspapers, again. Eh, you get it by now.

Hey, hey! Wait, wait, wait! Go back a second! Throw out old food?


Really really?


Evey night by 2a.m. The delivery of fresh pastry arrives. I'm supposed to have it neatly arranged on the shelves by 3. There are muffins and doughnuts, bear claws and apple fritters. All kinds of stuff. Every day I throw out easily half of what we got the night before. Every night more comes. I am often interrupted while tipping trays into bags as the food slides off and officially becomes garbage. So many people are genuinely surprised that it all just gets thrown out. No one can understand why it doesn't go SOMEWHERE. Feed SOMEBODY.

There is a roller grill too of course. The iconic gas station hot dog. Only 2 for $2. The company wants stuff on the grill twenty four hours a day. Just for that impulse buy. I imagine very few people actually long for our various grilled items. We keep a waste log for the grill. We mark down what we put on the grill and what we throw out. Easily, rediculously so, we throw out %75 of everything that goes on the grill. Stuff sits on the grill, goes bad and we replace it. Just in case.

Let's not forget the Deli case ok? Pre-made sandwiches, grinders, (Hoagies, subs, heroes, torpedoes. I don't know any other names. Do you?) fruit cups, hard boiled eggs, all patiently waiting for your approval. Waiting for the expiration date more like it.

Now this is a large chain of convenience stores. I forget the exact number. It's upwards of 600 stores though. Something close to that. Though not all the stores have grills or pastry for that matter; I cringe at the thought of the food that is thrown out every day. If I throw out ten pounds of pastry and hot dogs alone and there are 600 other stores throwing out that much in sandwiches and such, the mind boggles. That is THREE TONS of food. Every day.

Maybe, just maybe we could change corporate's mind about it's food waste. Think of the benefit for the shelters if some of that food could be donated. Maybe if enough people comment on this post I could come up with a phone number to call or an email address to write to to suggest other options.

I imagine I must sound preachy sometimes. You know, think of others, better yourself, blah blah blah. I never think that. I always think we are all like minded. That what I write down everybody must've thought or felt at some point. As the saying goes; the one thing I know for sure is that I don't know anything. There's got to be a better way though. There just has to be.

So as Red Green always says, "I'm pullin' for ya. We're all in this together."


Monday, September 13, 2010

A Hard Day's Night

Have you ever worked third shift? Did you like it? Think you would like it? Some people love it. Some say that they can make appointments easily during the day. They have all day after all. They have time for family and friends. They can get so much done before they have to get to work. It's another club to belong to also. There is a special place in the heart for fellow third shifters.

I have always hated it. I find that I always end up tired and grumpy. It seems I always end up having to choose between sleep or spending time with my family. Instead of sleeping right away I would stay up too late, or of course get up too early. Then there's the whole losing a day of sleep thing. It's Saturday morning. You have the next two days off. Your family is headed for the beach. Do you skip the beach and sleep or do you suck it up get your trunks on and go? How many times can one do that and make up the lost sleep some other time? Then suddenly it's Monday. You've kinda readjusted, you've slept at night for the past few nights. Oops you have to stay up all night now.

It's not like people can sit around while you are sleeping either. How quiet can one expect your family to be while you sleep? Your neighborhood? Heck, might as well include the rest of the world! How long before you alienate the people around you because you are just too tired all the time? Not trying to be a cry baby. I'm just sayin' is all.

There are two or three reasons to take a night job; during a stagnant economy it is sometimes the easiest way to get a job, there is usually a shift differential for wages, and I love driving home in the mornings in the fall when the leaves are aflame and the angle of the sun is low in the sky positively squeezing every last drop of color out of those leaves. That's when I feel truly lucky to work at night. I think one sees sunrise all together differently when you are up for it and not groggily shuffling off to work.

One weird thing is day light savings on the night shift. In the spring when just about everyone is losing an hour of sleep I actually gain an hour. I don't work a full eight hours and lose an hour of pay. I end up getting it back in the fall when some of you gain an hour of sleep and I lose it.

At an exit interview for a job I was leaving I actually suggested to the general manager that he should do something special for the third shift some time. You know, buy 'em pizza some night just for the heck of it. Show them some how that sacrifice those people make. The extra dollar an hour just doesn't cut it some times.

So be mindful some times. When you're buying that fresh fruit, or your package arrives on time, or you feel safe in your house in the middle of the night; some one has been up all night to make sure it all happens.

All right, enough of my yappin' about nothing.

Until next time, peace.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wouldn't It Be Nice

Have any idea what the #1 rated overnight radio talk show in the country is? It's a show called Coast to Coast AM. (I listen on WTIC 1080 from 1am to 5am. You of course would have to find your own station if you're not close by. Or of course What do you suppose makes this show so popular? What could it possibly be about that would spawn chat groups, podcasts, a newsletter, an iPhone app, and even a video game based on some of it's segments? Jeez, what is it do you suppose? Politics? No. Zealous evangelism? No. Ah, sports? Nope. Any other guesses? Here's a short list of some of the topics discussed on the show; life after death, near death experience, cryptozoology, aliens in all their forms from abduction to crop circles, crystal skulls, 2012, Hitler and the occult, the face on Mars, ghosts and shadow people.

It's about possibilities. It's about the mysteries that surround us every day in this life of ours. The unexplained and seemingly unexplainable. It sheds light on people who spend sometimes their whole lives searching for answers. Most times answers to things outside the mainstream.

I can hear some of you scoffing, laughing behind your hand, from here. What's makes aligning the chakras, let's say, any more valid than hunting for ghosts or looking to the stars for our origins?

On Thursday night Dr. Melvin Morse was a guest on the show. He is a physician who was trained to believe that dead was dead and that was the end. After a few specific cases he became very interested in the near death experiences in children. He had found too many kids who remembered things from emergency situations that they just couldn't possibly remember. One girl told him some time after an event that she was still mad at him for putting a tube in her throat. She was unconscious and needed to breath. Others were dead as doornails yet survived and remember similar events.

He has been able to do a 20 or 30yr study of a number of childhood near death survivors. The survivors tend to be more satisfied in their lives. More charitable. More at peace. One person runs a construction company that employs a handful of people. He says he knows he is fulfilling his life's purpose. He knows the people he hires would be in much, much worse shape without what ever income he provides.

One boy said he knew why we were all here. When pressed for an answer as to why, he simply said to be nice to each other. Wow. Wouldn't it be nice if that's really what it's all about? If there are aliens and ghostly visitations and guardian angels, you know the whole spectrum of unexplained, all they are doing is reminding us to be nice to each other. That to wend our way safely and gracefully through this maze of a life is to be nice?

But that's so hard some may say with their best pout and stomping their foot. Really? THAT is hard. Come on! If some one told you that to be truly happy all you had to do was treat others nicely you wouldn't at least try it? How about we put it differently. How about treat others how you wish to be treated? Want the King James version? You know, do unto others. Does that make it any better? Ok, never mind just you. What if you could make your neighbor's life better? No? Still too hard? Alright, fine, you give me no choice but to pull out the big guns. What if you could make the world a better place? Huh? Like THAT one?

We never really know how our actions will effect others. I can tell you this though; if we were nicer to each other, became mindful of it, we couldn't help but eventually change the world.

Good luck on your new found mission.

Until next we meet, peace.

Friday, September 3, 2010

For Entertainment Purposes Only

Did you know Princess Diana's body is missing? Do you know Jen's revenge on Brad? How about who's gay in Hollywood? Who wore a particular dress better than someone else? Johnny Carson's grandson cut out of the will? Kendra's shame? How much weight has Snookie put on? (I truly hope you just asked yourself who's Snookie.) Did you know Elvis was murdered, Oprah has moved on, Stedman is gay, Brad is drinking too much? I could go on and on and on.

The store is tiny. I counted the ceiling tiles one night to get a measure of the place. Being me, I have of course forgotten. The size is of no matter to the company that now owns it. I mean they knew the deal when they bought the place. See I was hired by one company whose headquarters are in Louisville and is a pretty big chain out in the mid-west. They had been operating five stores around here for about thirty years. I guess they felt it no longer made geographic sense to them to keep the stores. They sold out to a very large chain around here. I still get people in who tell me they grew up with the other place and miss it a lot.

Oops! Kinda digressing there.

My original point was going to be about the magazine rack in the store. Being such a small store we have a fairly small magazine rack. Still though it is crammed full of tabloids and gossip magazines. So much in fact that the plastic fronts that keep everything in place positively groan under the weight. It seems the plastic could snap at any second under all the weight. There is the odd Time or Yankee Magazine, but mostly it's gossip we peddle. Not Scientific American, Popular Machanics, Games Magazine or any of that ilk. In Touch, Us Weekly, The National Inquirer, that's what we proudly display. I think some publications actually print the same stories under two or three magazine titles.

Do we really care about all these things? Really?

I absolutely love movies. I think the art of making a film is a beautiful thing. I love the word celluloid. The stupidest things in some movies can make me cry. I have acted in and directed a goodly number of plays. I have even had the experience of acting in a movie. Do I follow these people's lives like they matter more than any of my friends or loved ones? I think not! You know why?

It's all pretend. It's for entertainment purposes only. Isn't it all just an extension of the entertainment industry? I mean no one prints a magazine devoted to how much weight you've gained or lost, who you dissed in your latest tweet.

So here are all of these people who have thrust themselves in our faces for fame and fortune. So many of us follow their every move like we have some real personal stake in some star's success. We forgive their foibles and transgressions with the greatest of ease. Because they're not real to us. We don't have to deal with the bail money, lawyers, court appearances, real heartbreak or let down. It easy to watch some one we don't know have a rougher time than we are.

How does that all translate into our real lives? How much empathy can we show the gambler, the womanizer, the drunkard or even the yo-yo dieter in our personal space? When is it time to draw boundaries for ourselves? Remember, we're at the real part here. How long do we let our own feelings help enable some one else? The first time some one abuses you? The second time the rent money has gone to gambling?

Look, we all learn our life lessons at our own pace. Do me a favor though? Take care of yourself some times. Don't make yourself sick by constantly swallowing your fear or your anger. Or yourself. Don't turn yourself inside out to please somebody else be it friend, lover or spouse. Not only will you end up losing your self respect, you'll lose the other person's respect also. You'll probably end up losing that person too.

OK, OK, enough of me for one sitting I guess.

Until next we meet, peace.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

If Not For You

There are a few stories that keep rolling 'round and 'round this too crowded head of mine. Every time I think about sitting down and writing something for Notes, these two stories elbow their way into my thoughts; pushing anything else aside like greedy playground bullies in line for lunch. They are completely unrelated. Why they have paired themselves together I couldn't say. Maybe I'll tell them and find out. Maybe not. Ready? Let's go.

There are two people in the store. A woman buying cigarettes and gas. A man in line behind her. As she is paying he feels comfortable enough to sort of sidle up next to her and start a conversation with her. Oops. No, wait. Ah, it's a pick up line.

"Has any one ever told you you have Halle Berry's eyes". Now I can see an ever so slight shadow of an expression cross the woman's face as I hand her her change. Irritation? She acts flattered, laughs, and says some deflecting remark I can't remember any more. She leaves to pump her gas followed shortly by the guy pumping his gas. As quickly as they are out the door I am on to some chore or other letting the whole exchange evaporate into the night.

I truly don't think of it again; until a few weeks later that is.

A woman walks up to the counter. I chuckle and say, "Well good evening Miss Berry".

"Oh, you were here for that"? She laughs. "What a creepy guy he was. He kept saying things like; Your eyes aren't the only thing lookin good tonight." And assorted other comments. We share a moment in silence kind of pondering the situation. She expresses a firm desire to never meet up with him again and leaves the store.

Huh. I never woulda guessed. Out of sight, out of mind and all that, you know?

Now, the first few hours of my shift are usually busy with costumers. The chores have to wait a few hours 'til things die down. There's somebody always coming in though. Even if it's only one person every fifteen minutes or so. Just enough to make it hard on someone who has chores AND wants to write a blog. Well it is late late one night and this girl strolls in. We've seen each other before and comfotably say hello. Now I've been around long enough to know not to just call someone a girl out of hand. A girl is a girl and a woman is a woman. Much like you wouldn't call a man a boy. She has to be all of fifteen as near as I can figure. She is all Ghetto and cool that way. She knows life and ain't nobody gonna tell her different. She is also drunk. (I must sound like a teetotaler sometimes. I am not. At one time my thirst was quite prodigious. I could just never stand sloppy drunks if you know what I mean.)Now as you walk in the store there is a VERY large sign stating that part of your purchase of a fountain drink will help send a kid to camp. There is also a large gauge to show progress toward a stated goal.

Drunk Clue #1, she stands looking at the sign and swaying for a good long time. Confusion growing rapidly on her face.

Drunk Clue #2, she manages to swivel toward me and ask, "What's this sign for?" "You do read, don't you?" "Oh, yeah." She turns once more and reads the sign. "Why would we want to send a kid to camp?" she asks in all seriousness.

Now of all the things I might have been expecting, this one didn't even make the list. For once in a handful of times, I dumbfounded. I can actually FEEL it. My mouth working like the proverbial fish. Lips opening and closing, not having the faintest idea what to say.

"Well, every kid deserves something special" I finally work out.

I don't remember a bit of anything that happened next. Sometimes when I am in the store though, that question rings in my head. That and how it made me feel. Sad for her. I am sure she never bad the chance to go to camp. Not sure how I know that. I just do. That and how floored I was by the question. She really, really, really had no idea why.

It probably doesn't end there either.

Why should we send packages to soldiers far from home serving our country? Why should I see if that person needs help? Why should I feed the hungry? Why should I give blood? Why should I get involved?

Why should I look anywhere but inside at my own hurt?

Why? Why? Why?

If not for you, if not for me, then who?

Go on.

Go make a difference.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's a Small, Small World

Was it Groucho Marx -another oldie that you should really get to know- who said something to the effect of "I wouldn't join any club that would have me as a member"? (Well of course it was. That was just a quick way to pull you into conversation.) We all belong to some group don't we? Call it a club, a team, a party, a sect, a pod or a herd. We as individuals find things better when we surround ourselves with like minded people. As hard as some try to express individuality; it seems we all need to feel like we belong to something. We share our talents, our views, our essence with people we come to admire, trust, or respect. We form mini communities within whatever larger community we live in.

I don't remember when I first recieved an invitation to join Facebook. I do know I resisted for quite some time. I really felt I had no need for it. I don't even remember why I finally decided to join. I have made some connections that have surprised me. Some that I never communicate with yet feel good somehow that the connection is there. All this connecting has me thinking about community. They call it the Facebook community after all.

There are people I have not spoken to in person in thirty years. I have chatted with some online now. There are a few I trade private messages with. There are now a few I am looking forward to seeing at an upcoming reunion. I have created an online community that I find I look forward to "seeing" and sharing my thoughts and passions with.

How funny.

So many people shuffling off to create their own lives. Some far away from where we all grew up. Some still living in a place they always have, and alway will know. Some testing the adage about never being able to go home. Yet no matter where we've gone, what we've done we are still connected through the ether. We are still part of the same community we loved or hated as kids.

It's a small, small, world.

Where ever you are, what ever you're doing; take a look around. Do you like where you've landed? The friends you've made? You're spouse? Do you appreciate your kids?

Tell 'em. Let 'em know. We never know where life is going to take us. Make sure the people in your many communities know you're a better person for having them in your life.

It won't hurt.

I promise.

Friday, August 13, 2010


It's Thursday night. Cool pesky rain comes in fits and starts. It sprinkles just a little, stops, dries up, and does it all over again. Like a child getting over a tantrum when all that is left are the sniffles and the rememberance of injustice, forgotten as quickly as the clouds scud by overhead. The customers come in fits and starts also. Only the middle of August and I think the height of summer custom is over here at the store. The tide of business follows the seasons here. Like floating in the ocean and bouncing with the waves. There will always be busy spots, 11pm for some reason. People getting home before it's too late I guess. 1 or 2am depending on how late the bars are open on a particular night. There will be more and more time to complete my chores. You know, stocking cups, lids, napkins. Cleaning coffee pots. Mopping floors. All that really cool stuff I get to do while you're asleep. (Except for someone I know who is probably just rousing somewhere else in the world.)

So, big deal. What's your point here? Is that all you got tonight; silly descriptions of the weather and traffic flow? What are you getting at? What are you trying to communicate here?

Ah! Communicate!

Are you a good communicator? Do you always say what you feel or mean no matter what? Or does your own pain get in the way sometimes? Or not wanting to cause someone else pain? Or fear? Or self protection? Ego? Do you communicate with yourself in an honest way? If you can't be honest in communicating with yourself how can you ever expect to do so with anyone else?

Wow, lots of hard questions there Night Guy! Cut it out! I don't WANT to go there and think about that stuff.

Well we have to sometimes.

Me? Well, I'm a pleaser. I have hesitated to communicate my true wants and needs for the sake of a relationship. In so doing I have made myself and the other person miserable. I have foolishly done this a few times. No more though. If I ever want another person to feel I care about them in this lifetime I know I MUST be as thoroughly communicative as possible. I must acknowledge things to myself and communicate them.

Jeez, that seems like a tall order Night Guy. How can you be so sure you won't just slip into the same old patterns? Well, through vigilant mindfulness to start. Aren't we supposed to change and grow? Old dogs can indeed learn new tricks. And as they say in the sports world, that's why they play the game. If the outcome of every baseball or football game or soccer match or dragon boat race was a sure thing why bother playing the game?

To quote a Pete Townshend song "Communicate. Communicate. Never never hesitate." Will I succeed? I'll keep ya posted.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Not much. You?

Sometimes there is no wisdom to be gleaned from selling cigarettes, gas, and snacks all night long. Sometimes the people come and go without incident. Well, most always really. So sometimes it is hard to find a starting point. Anyone who has stared at a blank page in anticipation of having to fill it knows what I mean. (OK, even if you haven't stared at a blank page I'm sure you can relate to how it feels) A friend of mine posted a piece to her blog asking where people get their writing prompts from. I was too busy wondering where I'd get mine to post an answer.

I started this post Thursday night waiting for something to happen and send me on my merry way. Anything. I waited. Waited some more. Nothin'. Started toying with an idea for filler fluff just to get a post up. I tend to start getting anxious pretty quickly worrying that nothing will trigger a good post, but I sit with it and wait. 2am and still nothing. I start to write this. I get as far as the first paragraph and no further. Feeling frustrated that it will be at best a two post weekend I set my sights on Friday.

The plan is always to post something all three nights I am here. Probably too ambitious since I am supposed to be working not enlightening the world. Well Friday comes and I'm in no mood. No mood for the drunks, the complainers, the whiners, none of it. I don't even want to be here. I would much rather be in bed sleeping so I could feel awake when I go in to my regular job. Way over tired I guess.

And STILL no I inspiration, no prompt.

Could I make something interesting out of the three drunken strippers who come in offering to strip right here for the money in the register? The guy who buys a quart of oil and complains about the price and how if I had a conscience I wouldn't sell it? All the drunks who can't even pronounce Marlboro light correctly? Nah. Nothing real to be learned from any of that. No tricky twists in story line, no grand point to be made that I can see. Another wasted night with no post. Oh well. Some night I will write some short bits of stories from the past. Before Notes came along.

Which brings us all the way back to filler fluff.

I have come up with some answars to some FAQs. I will not need to list most questions as they will be apparent from the answers. I will list some questions I wish people would ask.

No, I'm sorry there is no public restroom. No, you may NOT pee on the side of the building. No, I can't break a hundred. Good luck finding any one at this time of night with change for such a big bill. How can I pour a slushie without tracking it all over the countertops and floor? Put the domed lid on first. Don't be greedy. Bring in a bigger cup and I'll charge you for a refill. Just stop getting it all over everything. Please? What can I do with this cigarette butt, or the wrapper for this candy bar, or this empty cup once I am out of the store? Hmm... Well, any of the six garbage cans COULD serve as a receptacle for your trash. Oh, and those butt cans? Yeah. Use 'em. I am wicked tired of picking up after piggy piggy people.

I guess I've gone on and on about nothing long enough for this post. If you have any questions about the night shift or anything you'd like me to post about concerning this blog, just let me know.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

You Can Fool Some of the People

Why do you give your business to some establishments while ignoring others? What is it that attracts us to one supermarket over another? One gas station. One restaurant. Somethings are easy to pinpoint of course. Competitive prices, fine cuisine, word of mouth. Marketing plays a huge part also. Signs, slogans, logos, ads. Seen from space I'm suprised our planet doesn't glow with a neon haze. Can anyone old enough tell me the ingredients of a Big Mac without thinking of the song? Didn't think so. Nike. What do you see in your head? Swoosh? All of these things to try and make us feel part of something. Like we are cared for. Like we matter. Like everything a company does is for us. Of course I'll give my money to someone that makes me feel so loved. Why would they go to such lengths if they didn't really care?

Fool me once.

I had to take part in a training session the other day all about the store's stance on the Employee Free Choice Act. According to the video I had to watch this proposed law is a tool of the Unions to be able to more or less trick people into letting your workplace become unionized. The video stated over and over how the company is not anti-union; it would rather see everyone work as a team with open communications between management and employees. They care more about their employees than any old union ever could; why be tricked into paying union dues when a union can't really promise you anything. Don't trust anyone associated with a union; they'll trick you, take your money, make your job worse, AND eventually force your company to close its doors.

Fool me twice?

Do you know why you get paid vacations at work? Have a forty hour work week? Just about anything you take for granted at your workplace is due to some kind of union activity somewhere in time.

Now I'm not taking sides here. Some companies are great to work for. Some unions have done a lot of work for the average Joe. What I am getting to though is to be mindful of who you do business with. 'Cause it's all about the money. All the marketing strategies. All the warm fuzzies some faceless corporation wants you to feel. Everything. All of it. Even down to what the weekend night guy wears. Anything on the surface to ensure you will come back and spend more money is no coincidence.

But how much of that surface stuff really matters? Why do you walk away from some transactions satisfied and not so much from others? Isn't it all down to human interaction? Isn't the rapport you have with the waitress, the salesman, the meat cutter, the weekend night guy? I know I always like to think that some of the people I see all the time come back because they know their human contact won't be horrible at least. So consider that next time someone serves you in a store. Is it the public face of the company you are buying or is the human contact you appreciate?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Problem With Kids Today

Thursday night. A woman is paying for a fountain drink. I have seen her a half dozen times or so before. Usually in the morning as my shift is ending. She is a known grumpus and trouble maker. She has called Corporate numerous times over some perceived injustice or other. She grumps to me almost immediately. "Do you know there are kids out front smoking?" They weren't there when I came in. I'm not sure who it is, but I'm fairly certain the world is safe. All I can muster for her is a slight shrug of my shoulders and a distinctly uncaring "So." Though not the ultimate in customer service; it fits the occasion. She turns and leaves, not exactly in a huff though I am suddenly sure I am next on her hit list to Corporate.

I don't really care.

For the next three and a half hours I have four young adults sitting on the sidewalk next to the store doing nothing more than enjoying a pretty nice Summer night. Smokin' cigarettes. (For the record I have seen all of them quite often over my time here and they are old enough to purchase cigarettes.) Talking about life. Keeping me company.

Almost every person who came in the store had something to say about these young adults hanging out. My answers always ran along the same lines; at least they're not out -insert unspeakable act here -. Or, at least they're safe here. Once reassured in this way the big brave adults knew everything would be ok.

So now we come to the crux of the problem. What IS the problem with kids today? As far as I can tell, nothing really. Are some of them spoiled? You bet. Do some of them express their rebellion in really pretty harmless ways? Uh-huh. And they are pretty harmless ways even if the over 40 gang can't quite grasp it. Hasn't it always been thus?

If there IS some problem with young people today, whose fault is it? Who was responsible for raising them? Did they raise themselves? Did they have a meeting one day after gym class to vote on a change in the young adult by-laws? That seems a bit far fetched.

When I think back on my childhood and how I felt my parents were so uninvolved in so many parts of my life; it really seems so many more parents try to be more to their kids. Trying to be more involved and more than just authority figures.

Why do so many adults distrust younger generations? There are many many level headed adults that know being young is just part of getting old. There are just as many who don't quite get it. So I guess the question I'll be pondering for a while is what's the problem with adults today?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

You Can't Help Who You Love

This is the story that convinced someone to convince me to start this adventure. I would relate my astonishment surrounding events or people to this voracious reader kind enough to indulge my mutterings. On the fly, off the cuff, live reporting. The idea of a blog was eventually mentioned. A gentle nudge became a gentle push. I'm happy to say shoving never came into play. When I eventually win a Tony Award for Best Play, and then an Oscar for Best Movie, Director, Screenplay, and Actor I hope I don't forget to mention THAT name.

I endeavor every week to keep that live, spur of moment exercise going. Writing only when something happens that demands attention. Though I do have some ideas rolling round and round; I will never post pre-written material. Though this story has been told, the original form no longer exists in the physical grasp of this writer.

It's Friday night. I am watching people come and go. Observing. A van pulls in the lot. Ever with the short distance between the road and the pump it pulls up to, I can see it swerving quite a bit. This guy gets out of the van, comes in the store, and starts to use the ATM. Though the lot is pretty full he is the lone customer actually in the store. Most of my attention is drawn to the sudden battle at the ATM. Swaying back and forth to his own internal drunken beat, his confusion rises as the ATM is evidently out of order. Muttering or swearing under his breath he can't figure out why there is no money for him tonight. As his struggles continue a white Explorer comes to an abrupt stop outside the front door. A woman gets out. She sticks her head through the door. "What're ya doin' here Ray? You're drunk. I have to go to work. Go home." He says something to her I can't hear. As she comes in and heads to the drink case at the back she says, "What do you need money for Ray? Where're ya going? Huh? You going to go smoke crack with Jimmy, or you going to the strip club?" He turns and with arms spread wide and in his most innocent voice says to her "Never the strip club honey." She is making her way to the counter by now with a gallon of milk and sundry other items. I can see the extremely skeptical look on her face over Ray's denial. He occupies himself looking for snacks as I start to ring her up. She leans into me and disgustedly says, "He always does this. He gets drunk and drives around. He never gets caught! Never gotten a DUI. I get three speeding tickets a month, but he can't get caught."

She rocks back, shrugs her shoulders and almost looks embarrassed.

"You can't help who you love." She says. Shrugging her shoulders again she picks up her stuff and heads out the door.

No, but, we can change our situations, our lives, our hell. We can choose not to enable. We can choose to face the fear and change our lives. We can. We can choose to grow. I promise.

Ray buys some cigarettes and pays for some gas with the hard earned money from the ATM as I ask if he's ok to drive. "That's what I do." he says, and leaves to pump his gas.

I spend most of the rest of the night thinking about men and women. Relationships. How I see so many women who feel they don't have a choice. How powerless most women feel. And when they do see a choice or do feel powerful they are punished. They are stalked. They are beaten. They are killed.

So many times when I think about us on this earth and how far we have come - and we have - I am reminded all over again how far we have to go.

Friday, July 16, 2010


No funny stories, No rallying cries. It's a pretty dark night For the Weekend Night Guy. Maybe the solace of writing Will make the world seem less biting.

Pretty slow night for me to try and entertain with rhyming poetry.

Parallax. I won't make you look this one up if you don't know. Very VERY basically it's the idea that something appears different when viewed from different angles. There is mathematical and astronomical jargon to go along with that, but I know none ot it; so I must keep it simple. Reading a scale for instance. Standing on a scale and cocking your head from side to side one could weigh 179lbs or 181lbs. Look at it straight on and it's 180. I could go on and on, but you dear reader are smart enough to cite your own examples.

How many ways are there to see something?

How many sides to a coin? How many shades of grey, colors on a pallet?

Last week while I was writing about trust a woman came in saying she'd just about run out of gas. She didn't have any money on her. Could I let her have a dollar or two worth of gas so she could get home? She'd be right back with the money, she only lived down the road. (In the poor section of town.) "I can't, I just can't let you have gas." I told her. She asked if I could buy her some gas out of my own pocket. I had a couple of dollar bills doing nothing in my pocket. I said ok. "A dollar?" she asked. "Nah, two." I told her. She asked what time I got off and promised to be back before then. Her husband, or whatever, cheerily waved thanks to me as he pumped their two dollars worth of gas. Did she indeed come back? No. Did I expect the money back? No. Was it a matter of trust? Only in the aspect that I hoped they weren't begging gas from everybody in town.

Was I a sucker, a fool? No. I cocked my head and looked at it differently. Do you think she was proud to be doing this? Looking at her, the car, her husband, they were definitely in need. Is this something I a proud of or am bragging about? No. But I'd do it again.

Cock your head to the side some time. Just a little.

Tell me what you see.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

It's a Matter of Trust

Social contracts. Those unwritten, unspoken contracts that weave the fabric of our society. Over 300 years ago the idea of cotractarianism started as a philosophical idea. It explained why a people would be better off to give up their rights provided in nature for the rule of governed law. Government and governed working on behalf of everyone's good. I'll bet that was a pretty big step philosophically.

I know, I know, pretty heady stuff for the guy behind the register.

It's become so much more than that though. Every day there are dozens of times we expect neighbors and strangers alike to act in everyone's best interest. You know, keep society on an even keel. We count on the policeman to remember his duty and not ignore us if we're in trouble. Our neighbor to not drive drunk while our children drive on the same roads. Our weekend night guy to greet us with a smile and give us the right change. In turn of course others expect the same from us.

But why?

Well, because we want to feel safe. At a very basic level we all want to feel safe - the lock on the door will protect us, the mechanic is fixing our car properly. For some, walking a hiking trail without a cell phone clutched in their hand. There has to be a certain comfort level in our daily lives. That is part of it I think. I would say there is a more basic component to all of this.


It's a matter of trust.

Why do our children feel safe with us? Trust. Isn't love based in great measure on trust? We look for people we can trust all the time. Lawyers, doctors, carpenters, car salesmen(!) all those are people who must earn our trust. What about more mundane things? Why is trust given freely in some instances? We want to believe we are safe. We want to believe we are all looking out for each other. That you will be treated as you are expected to treat others.

I cannot speak for anyone else, but I can tell you that if you happen to wander into my store in the middle of the dark lonely night, you will be safe.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Times, They Are a Changin'

How on earth is it possible that the weekend night guy has his finger on the pulse of the economic barometer for a whole country? A simple enough question you might think. Being able to observe spending trends in a diverse clientele? Gauging people's reactions to see-sawing gas prices? Any number of statistical analyses or socio-economic studies might come in handy for the lonely night guy. It's so much simpler than all that hoo ha.

It's all in the change.

Huh? Good question. What do you suppose things are like for the average person when people pay for gas or a pack of cigarettes with handfuls of change? When a single dad brings his daughter in for a "treat" consisting of two hot dogs for $2 from the roller grill. For dinner. When teenagers can't find their traditional jobs because all the out of work adults scooped them up.

Blame it on Obama, blame it on Bush, blame it on Warren G. Harding for all I care. See, the thing is, it doesn't REALLY matter. We created what ever mess we're in together. All of us. As much as the Heelots (I give you permission to Google it. I implore you to take the time to find the movie and watch it.) would love to inherit the earth, they need the small guy to survive in order to have what ever luxuries they deem necessary. Bank bailouts, bonuses, all that stuff you've read about, floating around with no thought as to where the money really comes from. It's from the guy buying cigarettes with his last bit of change til pay day. The woman apologetically asking for $2.79 worth of gas.

As Red Green (More Google if you must) is wont to say, "I'm pullin' for ya. We're all in this together."