There's a lot of bad habits people have, some annoying, some downright disgusting. This is about the latter. I had a conversation with a close friend about this very subject last week and last night something happened that reminded me of it.
I smoke cigarettes. I know it's a bad habit and I'm really trying to cut down. I've quit several times in the past and I'll probably quit again. Maybe that time will be the last. Who knows?
But I'm the type of smoker who doesn't do it around people who don't, I won't light up in your car or house, I don't need to be seated in the smoking section of a restaurant. I can wait... It's not going to kill me if I don't fire up that very minute. I'll have you know that in August of last year I was stuck on the ramp of the airport in Atlanta for several hours and I was ok without a smoke. Still a lot of people are put off by it and I understand so I don't do it around them.
But I do have to say this now. Those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
I was approached last night by a woman who had a dip in her mouth, and this woman had the nerve to tell me my smoking was disgusting...
For those of you unfamiliar with 'dip', it's snuff, or smokeless tobacco. Those little round cans of Copenhagen or the like you see in every other person's back pocket.
This woman, while telling me my smoking was gross, continued to spit into a Pepsi bottle half-full with brownish shit-colored tobacco spit...
And I'm the one who's gross?
To me, there's nothing more disgusting than bottles and cups filled with spit laying all over the place. Most of my friends here dip or chew tobacco and I really have no problem with it really if they keep the spitting to themselves, but they keep leaving their spit bottles all over. A few weeks ago when I was at the fire house I picked up and threw out seven bottles of spit that were just laying around... On the edge of the pool table, on the desk in the office, in the shitter. Then, when we got a call, I jumped into Truck 9 and sat on a bottle completely full of dip spit... It's a really good thing it was capped or I'd have pitched a fit.
A few weeks ago a guy pulled into the Deli Mart to get gas and proceeded to pour out his spit bottle on the pavement. It was so gross I started to gag.
Ok. So smoking is a disgusting habit and I'll probably die at some point of lung cancer. But what's more disgusting though? Lighting up once in a while or having a huge wad of slimy brown shit in your mouth, getting stuck between your teeth and spiting all over the place? Oh yeah, lady. That shit in your mouth really makes me want to kiss you...
So I'll probably be on oxygen one day, and as I pass you on the street carrying my little green O2 bottle and my nasal cannula, don't be surprised at my stare at the gaping hole in your face where your jaw used to be.
I've had this idea for a little fun a while now, but to truly make it work I need you, my faithful readers to help.
Here's how it'll work.
We've all seen the advice columns in the newspapers, Dear Abby, Ann Landers and the like offering advice on every question under the sun. Some poignant, some pathetic. I read these columns every day, not for the advice, but for a laugh and to see what the column writer has to offer and if I would agree with them or not.
What I need you to do is on your daily read of your local newspaper, read those advice columns. Find the best questions about anything and send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org Just the questions, mind you. Not the columnist's replies. I don't want to be prejudiced with my answers.
Now the fun begins...
What I'll do is answer the questions here on You're Shitting Me, Right? with my own best jaundiced, bitter and jaded view imaginable...
It's up to you now to make this work! Let's have some fun with this!
From Friday evening until early Monday morning I was exiled to the mine in Raven, VA... Not only exiled but in the two and a half days I actually worked a total of thirty eight hours, giving me a grand total of twenty six hours of overtime.
I got back to my apartment sometime around 4AM yesterday morning and slept until about 7 PM last night. I guess I was a little tired.
I even got my boss to spring for the motel room this time, and it's a good thing too, because it snowed most of the weekend and that would have made the two-hour one way drive after a sixteen hour shift unacceptable. But in doing these little side jobs for my boss has spoiled him to some extent and I think I've really pissed him off this time.
But it's his own damn fault.
See, he's yet to hire someone for this position even though he's got a stack of applications in his in-box at the office over two inches thick. He's expecting me to do this every weekend now and on Saturday I put my foot down. I keep hearing from him "It's just until I can get someone hired for down there..." Well, I told him yet again this would be my last weekend for a while because, like I've been telling him since the beginning of January, I start the Fire Academy on April 1st and won't be available for the next six weekends.
Then he tried to bullshit me when he wasn't getting anywhere. He told me he talked to the Fire Chief , and it was ok that I missed some of the classes...
I know he didn't talk to the Chief, and two, it's NOT ok that I miss some of the classes. I need ALL of the classes to get my FF Level 1 out of the way. He's just too damn lazy to go down there himself or to go through the applications he's been sitting on and actually hire someone.
I'm not going to do his bullshit work anymore, even though the overtime pay is really nice. Besides, things in another area are looking up... Looking so good in fact I'm looking into rental places in Durbin, WV... Really close to a railroad...
So now I'm back, well rested and have a whole new motivation to work towards. On another note, to those who've written me asking when chapter III of "Bridge of Sighs" will be posted, sorry, I've been kind of busy. I'll try to get it finished and posted within the next few weeks. Thanks for the great words of encouragement, criticism and suggestions! All will be considered... Except the one guy who suggested that I burn the copies, give up and slit my wrists. Funny, you're from Arizona. I bet you're a faggot cowboy, huh?
So last night I get to work and begin my patrol. Everything is ok up until I finish at 11 PM at the Deli Mart and I'm sitting in the truck doing some paperwork (crosswords) and this Subaru pulls into the Deli's parking lot. I'm not to surprised at this because there's a few soda machines outside and many times people pull up to get a Coke or Pepsi in the middle of the night.
Until this woman gets out and storms right over to my truck. I roll down the window and ask if I could help her with anything.
"It's your fault!!" She screams. She then goes on at length telling me her husband has worked for the same company as I do for quite a few years, and I come along and they fire him...
OK, I get it. It's Barney's wife.
Throughout this whole diatribe I look at her deadpan waiting for her to finish her raving. After she finished and wipes the spittle from her mouth she looks at me with a "So what have you got to say for yourself now, smartypants?" look. I toss my paperwork (crossword) onto the dash and ask:
"Let me get this perfectly clear. Your husband wrecked a coal mine truck, and through his own stupidity never told anyone about it, and in doing so got himself fired. And this is all somehow my fault?"
"His stupidity is MY fault?"
"No Ma'am. His stupidity is the product of generations of inbreeding."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You, you butthole!" (Yes, she actually called me a butthole)
"There, you feel better now?"
With a final 'humf!" she stormed off and drove away leaving me wondering where the Mothership was tonight and why didn't it just come and beam these nutcases up and take them back to the home planet.
It was all my fault though. She must have been talking to my ex-wife. And speaking of my psychotic ex-wife, don't you all find it really ironic that the woman who told me over two years ago that nothing I said mattered and didn't want to have anything to do with me ever again continues to this day to read this blog several times a day? (thirteen times yesterday alone) That somehow what I've got to say now is important?
I guess the grass isn't really greener on the other side now is it? Your faggot cowboy boyfriend is leaching off you like all cowboys will do? He was just looking for a mommy and someone to take care of him?
You made your bed, you lie in it.
I'm happier now alone that I ever was with her. And I'm thinking of myself for a change. I sleep very well and can look myself in the mirror and hold my head high because I don't have her dragging me down anymore.
And if it's any consolation, that most definitely is my fault.
Two weeks ago we had about five days worth of sunny, warm days with high temperatures in the mid-70's. It was nice and made me look forward to the first days of spring. So Monday was the first day of spring, and do we have warmer days?
Last night I walked to work in a blinding sleet-snow mix with temps hovering around 20 F. I get to work and the battery in my patrol vehicle is stone-dead. I finally get that jumped after a half-hour standing in the freezing shit coming down and started my shift. It snowed all night, supposed to snow all day and now I hear they're calling for more snow on Thursday.
Enough is enough already! It's spring! I saw a robin this morning, and boy did he look mightily confused.
I for one am sick of winter. I'm looking forward to warmer days. I'm sick to death of going to bed when it's dark and waking when it's dark. Hell, I haven't seen the sun in two weeks. I'm getting Vitamin A deficient.
Ok. I'm done with my rant.
I'm feeling much better now so all of you may now go about your business.
Last Thursday I wrote that my schedule was again changing back to my old 2200 to 0600 shift because Barney was no longer with the company. My boss didn't say why he had to let him go, but after thirty-six hours in two days at the mine in Raven, VA and a shitty motel room later I now know the scoop.
Apparently Barney was working down at the mine last weekend and during one of his patrols he took one of the mine trucks and...
Well, you tell me.
If you were driving a full-sized Chevy pickup on a narrow, winding rural dirt road and one of the fan belts broke as you were coming to a sharp curve, a fan belt that controlled the power steering would you:
A) immediately hit your breaks as not to go over the hill?
B) Just drive over the hill doing major damage to the truck?
Well, if you answered "A" you'd be right... Not Barney. He chose "B"...
It gets better.
Not only did Barney drive the pickup over the berm and into a deep ditch, leaving the truck nearly standing on it's nose, he never told anyone about it.
That's right. The guy who writes in his patrol log when he takes a dump never says a word about the truck. He was relieved that Saturday and left the mine for home never telling a soul. If he had reported it right away, he'd probably still have a job.
He's that stupid.
Anyway, because of his colossal fuckup I had to pick up all his hours there this weekend and I have to go down there again this coming weekend. My boss better find someone for that contract soon, because I start the fire academy on the 1st of April and then my weekends will be tied up for the next month and he'll have to go there himself.
In one way I'm glad he's gone because he was such a major fuckup, but in another way I'm sad to see him go because he was such great fodder for my blog...
Wednesday afternoon my volunteer fire department was paged out for an overturned Coca Cola truck on RT. 20... There was no injuries but it did tie up traffic for some time. When I got Thursday's edition of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph much to my suprize, I saw myself on the front page of section B. (It's me, RT, standing foreground left) I was so tickled by this, being all the years on the PD and never making the newspaper (which I guess could be considered a good thing) I had a buddy scan the photo so I could email it to my friends and family back in Philadelphia... One of the people I sent it to was my 21 year old niece, and the warped sense of humor that runs quite deep in my family being what it is, I got this photoshopped picture back a few hours after I had sent the original... It does run it families! You just have to love the Wolfenden sense of humor!
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden
Article/photo Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, West Virginia
I really wish someone would make up their mind where I work concerning what schedule I'm working. My schedule is changing yet again...
I had no sooner fallen asleep yesterday morning when I'm awaken by pounding on my front door. It's my supervisor, and he has news for me. He taking me off the three 12-hour and one 6-hour shift a week, starting Monday. I'm really relieved about this because I was getting sick of the 12-hour shifts anyway. This also means I'll have to start back working weekends... WTF.
Anyway, he told me the reason is that they had to let Barney go... Really? Go figure. I'll find out exactly why later and let you all know.
So now I'm off until Monday here on my regular schedule, but I have to pick up a few shifts down at that coal mine in Raven, VA Saturday and Sunday.
We all have crosses we must bear.
Another thing. I didn't write about it at the time and have been keeping this information sort of a secret as not to jinx it. Back in December I took the civil service test for a State job on the railroad. Since it's a state job, and since civil service hiring practices move slightly faster than a three toed sloth, I've just gotten word I'm on the top of a the short list for the position. This job will either be in Greenbrier or Pocahontas counties, and if I get the job I'll have to move because it would be too far to commute every day. Being a state job, the pay would be almost triple what I'm getting paid now, full bennies and retirement.
I'll let you know more later when I get more info myself!
In the ten years I was a police officer, I saw some pretty amazing things. Things that most civilians would never come across or experience. Some things so unbelievable that all I can say is truth is stranger than fiction. Things only other cops or EMS personnel would believe. Cops get jaded after a while, seeing crap day in and day out. You see bizarre shit daily and so often you stop saying "Now I've seen everything..."
That is until one day you see something that odds are against ever seeing something like it ever again.
In my early years, when it wasn't as busy in the district I worked in we still had time to answer "Unknown Problem" calls. This is one of those calls.
My partner and I were halfway through a somewhat slow day shift when we got the radio call. See the woman about an unknown problem. We were only a few blocks away from the address and we were quickly at the residence, a well kept rowhouse in a nicer section of our sector. My partner and I walked up to the stoop and knocked on the door...
It was answered by a short rotund black woman who bore a striking resemblance to Aunt Jimima...
"Oh officers! I'm so glad you're here! Come on in!"
We were ushered in the front door into a spotless living room pleasantly decorated, fresh flowers arranged in a vase on a faux mantle. The surroundings put us at ease as she began to tell us what the problem was...
"Officers, I've lived here in this house for thirty-seven years and I never have seen anything like this!"
"What seems to be the problem, Ma'am?"
"There's a leg in my back yard!"
I looked at my partner and we both gave eachother the looks as if to say "Sure lady. A leg... And how long have you been off your medications?" But we kept our professional look out front and let her escort us through an equally spotless dining room and kitchen to the back door. I opened it and headed out first only to be stopped dead in my tracks.
There, laying in a light dusting of snow that had fallen the previous evening, was a human leg. I called for my partner to call the Crime Lab and I went closer to investigate. Sure as shit it was a human leg. Unclothed, and from the looks of it and the tracks in the snow all around, it had been a late night snack for several stray dogs that roamed the district.
My partner went back to the patrol car to get the Polaroid camera while I followed the dog's tracks and obvious drag marks in the snow up the alley...
I followed the tracks for three blocks to the rear parking lot of the local hospital where it all started to come together.
I'd never done so much Goddamn paperwork over a body part.
Long story-short, apparently someone on the medical staff the previous evening was too lazy to take the time to follow proper procedure in the disposal of infectious medical waste and instead tossed an amputated leg into the hospital's garbage dumpster instead of the incinerator giving the neighborhood strays a feast...
And causing us to call the CDC & EPA... And until their investigations were over my partner, myself and that sweet old woman had to go into quarantine to insure we didn't cach some rare infectious disease. Never again will I say "now I've seen everything".
But what I wouldn't give right now to have been there to see the look on that woman's face when she first discovered it in her snow-covered flowerbed...
It probably looked a lot like the face I had when I saw it.
This past Saturday my fire department was called out to a brushfire and about twelve of us answered the call. Appalachian Power was doing some tree-trimming along a remote section along a powerline. A tree they were felling hit the wires, arced and started a fire in the dry grass that quickly spread. By the time we all had arrived it had engulfed about ten acres and threatened several more.
We cut a fire-line around the entire area of about fifteen acres and this took about three hours. After we were finished with that chore, before we started a back-burn to contain the rest, on of the other members of our fire department, who we now call Baby Bear, needed to make a restroom break...
Of course we were out in the middle of the woods, and there's no restrooms there...
Those of you who are like me and camp, hunt, fish and hike and just love being in the wilderness have had to do this from time to time, so it's really no big deal.
That is unless you're with a bunch of demented fuckers like us on the volunteer fire department.
Rules to live by when making a BM with us:
1) Go a lot more than TEN FEET off the trail
2) Make sure the tree you're hiding behind is thicker than a fence post
3) Make sure you're far enough away from the rest of the crew
4) Make sure that no one on your crew has a picture phone with them...
So does Baby Bear shit in the woods?
Of course! And we've got photographic evidence!!!
I've spared you all that sight, but god it was funny!
I'm really in with a good bunch of guys (and girls) with this department, and they're just as warped as me. I'm fitting in here! I've made a really good decision joining this department. They're like family to me. I really haven't felt this close to a group of people since my days on the police department.
Between work, the fire department and writing I've been going flat out. My plans Friday were screwed, my buddy got tied up with another errand through no fault of his own so we didn't get to walk the railroad tracks like we wanted to, Plans I had Saturday got put on hold for a six-hour brushfire that wasn't even in our department's territory and as of this morning when I got done at work I have been awake for twenty three hours.
I'm the walking dead right now.
For the next several weekends I'll be busy with training with the fire department. I've got HazMat training this coming Friday and after that through to the end of April Firefighter Level 1 training so Ranger Tom will be very busy so I've decided to stop posting Saturdays and Sundays unless something extraordinary happens. I'll still be writing Monday through Friday, working on "Bridge of Sighs" and of course Funny Foto Friday will continue, but contrary to some people's opinions I don't live on my computer and I'll just be too busy to continue at this time posting every day.
Once the dust settles, probably near the middle of May I'll again post over the weekends but for now I'm just too damn busy.
To write about this morning. I haven't really been feeling 100% the last few days and haven't been sleeping well either. I've got a few days off now and the weather is supposed to be warm if not bright and sunny, so a buddy and myself are going back to Matoaka Friday to walk the tracks I wrote about a few weeks ago. This time I'll remember the damn camera!
I don't watch a lot of TV anymore, mostly because there's never anything good on and I refuse to pay $55 a month for cable TV when the shows on the 15o or so channels suck. Even my two old time staples, the History Channel and the Discovery Channel are somewhat stale. And don't even get me started on "reality" shows.
They suck too.
When I had satellite TV with 300 channels, I'd find myself zoning out on the Weather Channel for hours for no reason other than there wasn't shit on that was worth watching.
Well, there was a few reasons I watched the Weather Channel for hours and they were Christina Abernathy, Alexandra Steel and Joetta Jones.
I can count on one hand the shows I like and still have fingers left. They're CSI, Criminal Minds and Cold Case, so why pay for cable service when I can watch them on my computer sans commercials?
There's just so little out there of value on the tube any more, with a few exceptions. I was just turned onto a British cop show by another blogger in the UK. I like BBC programming because it's fresh, not repackaged stale jokes from last season. That, and the characters look real. The seem like everyday people, not some California plastic and cardboard cutouts like most of the US programming.
So this show is called Life On Mars and takes DCI Sam Tyler after a freak accident from 2006 back to 1973... Cop show with a twist. Go here for a summary of Episode 1:
I've seen the first episode and I'm impressed. There's a link to purchase the DVD's through the BBC, so I'll probably buy the whole first season.
Another show I watched all the time when I did have Satellite TV and could get BBC America and that show was Red Cap. This show has three things going for it. One, it's another cop show, two, it's military police, not the civilian kind, and last but definitely not least it stars Tamzin Outhwaite...
Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm!
I wish I still could get that one, but I haven't been able to find it anywhere...
As for American TV, all I can say is it's garbage. I did have a friend sending me VHS tapes of two Australian cop shows, Blue Heelers and Water Rats, along with some Aussie rules football, be we stopped doing that because the coast of transferring the tapes from PAL to NTSC was becoming expensive.
Fellow blogger Kev is getting a really hard time from a credit card company, and it's well worth a read what he had to write to them. Take a look, and if you deal with the same company, be forewarned. Go here:
Credit cards are fantastic to have, but use them wisely. Don't make the mistakes I've made. First off, guard your personal information. Never let anyone have your Social Security number and date of birth. Those two are the keys that unlock the door to identity theft. Secondly, never, ever entrust your finances to someone else, even if it is your spouse. If you do chose to have joint accounts, make sure you see what's going on, weekly. Never let it go solely into the other person's hands or terrible things will happen to your credit rating. Check your credit report yearly, and go over it with a microscope. If you find anything abnormal, report it immediately. Don't screw around.
I hadn't checked my credit report for several years and had one done after my divorce. I discovered several maxed-out credit cards in my name that I had never signed for, and ironically the address listed for them was my ex's place of employment. I never knew about them. My credit is destroyed because I trusted someone to do the right thing, and in trusting that person got stabbed in the back.
So I've learned some really hard lessons, but I've learned them well. Thankfully Kev is nowhere near where I was a few years ago and he's smart enough to be on top of it as soon as it happens unlike me.
Remember this, that credit rating is your life. It's all that stands between you and buying a house, car, getting a student loan, buying airline tickets and in a lot of places now, even getting a job.
Yesterday I did my boss another little favor and worked up in Nicholas County at another coal mine to fill in. I had to be there at 11 AM and work to 11 PM. Along with it being a twelve-hour shift, it's about a two-hour drive to the mine from my place one-way so by the time I got home this morning around 1 AM I was a complete zombie and went right to bed.
I don't mind doing this once in a while because not only does he pay me for my travel time but lets me use the company truck to travel back and forth, saving me the expense of fuel. So this little side trip netted me another four hours overtime pay.
The thing I really don't like about working at these mines besides the mind-numbing boredom is within minutes of walking through the gate you're filthy with coal dust. It's everywhere. I can't wear a clean uniform because this coal dust gets everywhere, fast. I mean everywhere.
Please do not take that the wrong way and think I'm some clean freak. I don't mind getting dirty at all, but when you wear a uniform for work as I do, you try to look as professional as possible in it, at least I do. And it's next to impossible to do that when you're filthy.
I guess it all started a while ago. I've been wearing uniforms my entire life it seems. From twelve years of parochial school, the army, then the police department, now security work... It does save time. I don't have to think about or worry what I'm going to wear the next day... I know exactly what I'm wearing for work. Einstein actually had seven suits, all alike just so he didn't have to expend the energy thinking about what to wear.
Not that I'm an Einstein.
But I've always tried to look my best when wearing a uniform. Shirt and trousers pressed, shoes shined. It projects professionalism. Long gone are the days on the PD when I could take my uniforms to the dry cleaners weekly, but I try my best with what I've got. So it bugs me when I'm not even on the clock five minutes and I'm filthy.
Someday, when I'm working on the railroad again and don't have to wear a uniform all the time I won't have to care, but for now it still annoys me.
Most of my long-time readers know I was a police officer for several years, and being a cop for that long the sense of humor sort of rubs off on you. Even though you're off the job, the same things make you laugh. But nothing ever will beat the times on the job when my partner and I had pulled off some really fantastic practical jokes on other members of our squad, go here for the full story of the "Beeper Gag":
Anyway, this story is about the same lieutenant on the department that was the target of the Punctuation Pirate. The yoyoing fuel prices reminded me of this little caper we pulled off on him back in the early 90's.
This lieutenant would pontificate to us about things during roll call, mainly bullshit things we really didn't give a rat's ass about, but we had to listen to his shit every day before shift. This one night we were all staning there waiting to get our car assignments and he started railing us about the types of vehicles we were driving. Most of us on the squad had pickups and SUV's, I myself had a full sized Ford Bronco.
He had just purchased a used Volkswagen Rabbit diesel and said he was getting fabulous mileage with it and how we should all follow his example and drive more fuel efficient vehicles to help save the planet. He was pontificating so much we were all falling asleep standing there, giving us chapter and verse of Al Gore's book, Earth in the Balance.
After he was done, a few of us decided to have a little fun with the LT.
One of the guys got a five gallon jerry can and filled it with diesel fuel and we started every night after roll call to put a gallon or so in the lieutenant's fuel tank to make it appear that he was getting far better mileage that he really was. This went on for a few weeks until one day he beamed at us form the podium at roll call.
"You're not going to believe this! I haven't been able to figure out my mileage yet, but I haven't had to fill up for over a month now! I'm getting great mileage with the VW!"
All of us in on the joke stifled a good laugh out of this and went left to head out on patrol. That night is when we put phase two of our devious plan into action... Shortly after roll call we started to siphon the fuel out of his tank... He ran out of gas heading home that morning... He filled it up and the very next night we again drained his tank...
We did this for almost two whole months. Putting in fuel for a few nights, then draining it out for a few nights. We never let it get into a definitive pattern and we all could tell it was baffling him. He had no idea what we were doing and even took it back to the dealer on several occasions, who naturally couldn't find anything wrong with the car. But the one thing it did do was stop his lectures on fuel economy from his dais.
One day he finally walked into roll call looking defeated. He explained to all of us sadly that he sold the Rabbit because of "ongoing problems" but was never specific on what those problems were.
The last I saw him he was pulling out of the district's parking lot in a Buick, and for some reason his license plate was upside down...
Or at least I thought I did, for a while at least.
My parents grew up during the Great Depression and were part of what Tom Brokaw described as the "Greatest Generation". My father was born in 1925 and mother in 1927. Growing up during that time gave both of them a real sense of appreciating what you've got and never taking anything for granted and a real experience of need and want.
Here's where a dilemma became apparent in how they raised myself and my four siblings. They never wanted any of us to ever have to want for anything, but in the same time they wanted to instill in us a strong work ethic and to never take for granted what you have because it can all disappear in the blink of and eye. But how to do that?
My mother was a stay-at-home mom, something that's rare today, and my father had a very good job with the Department of the Army at the Frankford Arsenal. Both were very frugal though, my mother clipping coupons daily to find the best bargains while grocery shopping, my father buying a new car every ten years whether he needed one or not. He only owned four cars his entire life. I've owned triple that. They also had the house I grew up in paid off in full a year before I was born.
Then along comes a skinny kid in December of 1965. They both tried to instill all those qualities in the me but I was moody and distant and never really appreciated the things they tried to instill in me. For the most part I had a fairly good relationship with my parents, that was up until I reached my teen years. I started to resent them for everything we didn't have. Material things... We didn't own a color TV set until I was a Junior in highschool. An old Philco black & white set that my father still bought vacuum tubes for when it would go on the fritz sat in our living room from the time I was born. All my friends in school had TV sets and stereos in their rooms. I resented the fact that I didn't.
When my age group was turning sixteen they all began getting cars for their birthdays. Not a lot of new cars mind you, because our neighborhood wasn't that well off, but it was well off enough that parents in my area could buy little Johnny or Susie a car for their sixteenth.
My sixteenth birthday came and went and no wheels... My brother was 26 at the time and had a smoking 68' Chevy Camaro. I wanted a hot muscle car too.
I didn't get a car, and the most infuriatingly devastating thing to a sixteen year old growing up in the early 80's was to be told you can't ever get a driver's license because the insurance would be too expensive. It wasn't until later when I was an adult I really had a strong appreciation of how really expensive automobile insurance was in the Philadelphia metropolitan area... And having an underage driver on the policy, or even having an underage driver living in the same house would have done to my parent's policy was lost on me at the time.
So what does a broody and introspective sixteen year old do then?
Says 'Fuck it!' and buys a car anyway.
I had a job at the local gas station and already had my own checking and savings account. Something I'm forever grateful to my parents for. So I had a fairly good chunk of coinage saved. I found the car I wanted. A candy-apple red 1967 Ford Mustang coup. Asking only $750.00, well within my budget. I blogged about it before, go here:
Anyway, one of my friends who had "cool" parents, ie; parents that would let them do whatever they wanted and gave them everything they asked for, got them to let my use their house as my address for my license and let me park the car in their driveway. They only lived two blocks away so it was fantastic! I was set!
I had my hot muscle car and neither of my parents were the wiser.
For a while.
I drove that car all over town, even took it to the New Jersey shore a time or two with girlfriends and buddies. That was until one fateful day shortly before my 17th birthday.
I was sitting at a redlight on Academy Rd. A few miles from home with my girlfriend, just cruising around listening to The Who and enjoying life. Until a Ford Grand Torino station wagon painted a sick shade of tan that I knew all to well pulled up along side of my at the light...
Was it me, or was this light at this intersection staying red longer than normal? My hands began to sweat and I felt this tremendous knot in my stomach. I couldn't bear to look to my left... The seconds ticked away until I couldn't stand it any longer and I had to look. I slowly turned my head to the left until they came to a stop looking straight at my father sitting there looking at me in stunned disbelief.
That only lasted a fraction of a second until I saw him mouth the words "Get your ass home now!"
My bowls turned fluid because I knew what was to come.
I was going to get the mother of all ass-kickings.
I have to quantify something here. Yes, my father beat the shit out of my from time to time, but it was by no means abuse. It came rarely, but when I got one of his ass-kickings I deserved it... Like when I almost burnt the house down. But that's another blog. I grew up in a time when there was still corporal punishment in schools. Hell, I had NUNS beating the shit out of me. It was discipline.
I'll put it to you this way. When I was growing up and you got picked up by the cops for underage drinking or curfew or other infractions and your were given the choice of going to jail or home, all in my peer group would chose jail.
Lesser of two evils.
Anyway, I digress. So my dad knocked the shit out of me from time to time. He'd never threaten anything without following through on it. It was a deterrent. He was judge, jury and executioner. He never once said "If you do that I'm going to knock you into another time zone!" and not mean it. If I went ahead and did it anyway, and got caught, sure as shit I was going to wake up in another time zone.
Anyway... So my dad caught me in the forbidden car driving with a forbidden driver's license. I got my ass beat right in front of my girlfriend and the entire neighborhood...
But the funny thing was he never told me to get rid of that car or give him my driver's license. Soon after that I enlisted in the Army and was gone for several years. Later, shortly before he died, we were sitting on the front stoop one evening shooting the shit and reminiscing about old times. Good, bad and ugly... And we both had a good laugh about that day.
He's gone now, but I sure do appreciate those little things he tried so hard to get through my thick skull. They finally sunk in after a while and I'm a better man now for those lessons, however painful they were.
But I'll never, ever forget that look on his face when he saw me behind the wheel of that Mustang as Pete Townsend sang on...
I know you've deceived me, now here's a surprise
I know that you have 'cause there's magic in my eyes
I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles
A wife comes home early & finds her husband in their master bedroom making love to a beautiful, sexy young lady.
"You unfaithful, disrespectful pig! She shouts "What are you doing? How dare you do this to me, the faithful wife, the mother of your children! I'm leaving this house, I want a divorce!"
The husband, replies "Wait, Wait just a minute! Beforeyou leave, at least listen to what happened!"
"Hmmmmm, I don't know, well it'll be the last thing I will hear fromb you. But make it fast, you unfaithful pig you!"
The husband begins to tell his story...
"While driving home this young lady asks for a ride. I saw her so defenseless that I went ahead and allowed her in my car. I noticed that she was very thin, not well dressed and very dirty. She mentioned that she had not eaten for three days. With great compassion and hurt, I brought her home and warmed up the enchiladas that I made for you last night that you wouldn't eat because you re afraid you'll gain weight and the poor thing devours them. Since she was very dirty I asked her if she'd like to take a shower. While she was showering, I noticed her clothes were dirty and full of holes so I threw her clothes away. Since she needed clothes, I gave her the pair of jeans that you have had for a few years that you can no longer wear because they are too tight on you, I also gave her the blouse that I gave you on our anniversary and you don't wear because I don't have good taste. I gave her the pullover that my sister gave you for Christmas that you will not wear just to bother my sisterand I also gave her the boots that you bought a the expensive boutique that you never wore again after you saw your co-worker wearingthe same pair."
The husband continues his story...
"The young woman was very grateful to me and as I walked her to the door she turned around and with tears in her eyes, she asks me:
"Sir, do you have anything else that your wife does not use?"
I couldn't resist. A friend sent this too me and I had to share...
Thomas Wolfenden was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is an honorably discharged veteran of the US Army. He's worked in several different jobs throughout his life, spending fifteen years in law enforcement and the private security field. He has worked as an automotive detailer, ambulance driver, a nuclear medicine delivery courier, a dairy barn cleaner, and most recently has worked as a ballast regulator operator, a switchman, conductor and a locomotive engineer on the railroad. He's traveled extensively, through the United States and abroad, and lived in several States. Pennsylvania, Arizona, West Virginia, Kentucky, Idaho and Florida being a few places. He has written several OP-ED pieces for various local newspapers, and had up until recently, kept a political humor blog. He's a Life/Endowment member of the National Rifle Association and a strong supporter of the.2nd Amendment. He now spends his time between the United States and Australia, with his life partner, Catherine.