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.