The Lawsuit

I got a pretty interesting phone call earlier today, or rather my wife did, who forwarded the voicemail along to me, since it was I whom the caller was looking for. It was a brief message, claiming to be an attorney with a company that I previously worked for in Florida and asked me to give him a call back, so intrigued, and a little bit worried, I did. As I dialed the West Palm Beach area code, I scanned my brain, looking deep into the recesses of my mind trying to think what this could possibly be about. My first instinct was that it was something bad, because the default setting in my mind is negative, and when is an attorney calling you out of the blue good news? Although I was about a thousand percent sure this wasn’t going to be a fun phone call, I had no idea what it was going to be about, until on the third ring the attorney answered and informed me it was in reference to an incident that happened at the store where I was working several years ago that they were being sued for. You would have thought that would have cleared things right up, but no, I still had no idea what he was talking about, but I held onto a secret hope that grocery store that used to employ me had been running a massive illegal gambling ring in the back of the store and somebody was suing because their left pinky had been chopped off when they hadn’t been able to pay what they owed at the end of the night. Sure, it would have come as a complete surprise to me and there would be no helpful information that I could provide, but it definitely be a case that drew my interest.

I’m glad I didn’t blurt out anything about my theories on illegal gambling rings taking place in the backroom of a respectable grocery store chain, because I would have looked really stupid when he said that it was in reference to a woman who slipped on a piece of fruit, and I was the first one on the scene. As quickly as I rushed over to the fallen that day, the memories came rushing back to me, sort of, in the sense that I vaguely remember the incident happening but any specific details were left behind when I left Florida nearly two years ago. Aside from remembering that the customer had slipped on a piece of fruit, I do not remember anything else about it, not even the type of fruit that caused the fall, but selfishly I hope it was a tomato so that it can be relentlessly reminded to everyone involved in the case that tomatoes are fruit and not vegetables like too many people believe. I think it’s important to learn as much as you can, and if nothing else comes of the case, at least a lesson on which food group a tomato belongs in can be learned by all.

The reason this man was calling me after all this time, is because the other lawyers, the ones suing my former employer on behalf of the woman who slipped, said that they have been in contact with me and have scheduled my deposition in Fort Pierce Florida, and the company’s attorneys figured that if I was going to be talking to the other lawyers, then they should at least track me down to get a statement of their own. I hope you’re sitting down for this, because I wasn’t and it completely threw me off guard, but this was the first time hearing about the lawsuit, I haven’t been in contact with any lawyers, and I haven’t been to Fort Pierce in nearly two years, and I sure as hell wouldn’t have agreed to go down there for a deposition about an event in which the details are completely forgotten to me. I don’t know who those lawyers have been talking to, but it wasn’t me, something that shocked the attorney on the other end of the line, although there’s no way he was as shocked by this revelation than I was, given he at least knew that a lawsuit was taking place.

Although we did get it ironed out that I live in Tennessee now, the fact still remained that the woman’s lawyers were still going to want to depose me about the incident, since I was first on the scene. I guess I can be considered a first responder. You know what, I heard it, and that seems a little disrespectful to the real first responders who save lives, so you don’t have to call me a first responder if it makes you uncomfortable. The good news is, I’m not going to have to go to Florida for a deposition, so the lawyers will have to come to me and meet at my convenience so it really shouldn’t be too much trouble….for me. I assume it’s going to be a massive headache for the other guys, to come all the way here just for me to tell them I honestly don’t remember, but I guess that’s what they unknowingly signed on for when they took the case, so forgive me if I don’t lose any sleep over their troubles. I’ve never been part of a legal deposition before, and this morning, I had no reason to believe that I ever would be, and while this is the kind of random thing that seems to happen to me all time, blessing me with new stories to tell in my blog, it’s something I still can’t get used to, especially at noon on a Wednesday.

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Black Friday

IMG_4496Today is Black Friday, the day where we people of all ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds, come together the day after Thanksgiving, to act behave like a bunch of wild animals. I’m not judging, because the truth is, as despicable as a lot of this behavior is, I will admit, I do enjoy reading the stories and finding out where the latest herd of cattle stampeded over one of their own in order to get forty-five dollars off of a four year old game system. It’s disgusting and hilarious and if you are one of the people behaving in this manner, then I have no problem calling you and Black Friday as a whole, ridiculous and idiotic. That being said, I’ve been Black Friday shopping before.

It was Thanksgiving night, 2012, and my wife and I had just finished eating dinner at the home of my brother-in-law’s wife in Port St. Lucie, Florida, a town that might sound glamorous, but is not, and one I wouldn’t recommend visiting if you can avoid it, but that’s not the point. We were sitting around the table, stomachs full of turkey, and my brother-in-law’s wife was talking about all of the sales she was going to go to that night and in the early hours of the next morning, apparently an avid Black Friday shopper, and it all sounded so exciting, rushing from store to store in search of great deals. So we started looking at the ads and picking out gifts that we could get people for Christmas that were a lot a cheaper than normal, and there were some small kitchen appliances that we were in need of, so we decided that perhaps this whole Black Friday thing was for us, and off we went.

We made two stops that night, at Walmart and Macy’s, not because these were the only two stores that had sales on items we were interested in, but because the experiences at these two hellholes were completely draining, both physically and mentally, that we couldn’t stomach the notion of stopping anywhere else to shop. We hit Walmart first, because we knew exactly what we were looking for there, kitchen appliances, and I should have realized as soon as I entered the parking lot that this whole Black Friday thing was a mistake, because it was packed, so much so that despite circling the lot twice, I couldn’t find a parking spot, and had to park across the street at the Golden Corral, which was beckoning with warm lights through the window and smells of a roasted turkey coming from within, but we were on a mission, so we turned our backs to the happiness, and trudged across the street into the mayhem.

I hate going to the store on a normal day because of all the idiots pushing carts in different directions, standing in the middle of aisles on their phones keeping people from being able to get to the products they are shopping for, so I should have known that Black Friday was going to be a nightmare. We had a shopping cart, but soon wished we had tried to brave it without one as the aisles were so jam packed with people and pallets full of sale items that it was complete madness just trying to maneuver our cart down one of the big aisles, like salmon swimming upstream against the current of other shoppers coming towards us. We finally found the items we were looking for, a toaster oven, coffeepot, blender, and a dartboard, which wasn’t on the list but I saw it in passing and wanted to get it (it’s still in the box five years later), and headed for the checkout lanes. The lines were so long that I actually said something to my wife about cutting our losses and just leaving. Sure we got some deals on small kitchen appliances and an awesome dartboard, but was it really worth standing in line for that long? Surely my time was more valuable than that. We stayed, and within the hour we were pushing our cart out the door and through the parking lot, across the street to the Golden Corral.

I was ready to call it a night, but we hadn’t actually accomplished what we’d set out to accomplish when we decided t begin this horrific journey at the dinner table a few hours before. We still hadn’t gotten any Christmas gifts for anyone yet, and since I didn’t think my brother would be too fond of a cheap blender, we went on the mall, planning to spend the night there going from store to store, racking up great deals and getting a good chunk of our Christmas shopping done. We started at Macy’s. As soon as we went through the sliding glass doors we were met with a dinging sound and a voice over the intercom talking about an employee who had just earned a certain amount of magical points for hitting a sales quota, informing the masses who didn’t care, that this individual had leveled up and were now in contention for some prize that I’m sure even the employee himself, wasn’t too impressed with. This continued every few seconds, lauding their employees while driving the shoppers crazy. We found a few gifts, enough so the night didn’t seem like a complete waste, and got out of there as quickly as the crowd would allow. That was my first and last time Black Friday shopping, and I don’t plan to ever do it again.

Surviving the Storm

hurricane-season_980x551In my four years of living in Florida, I was very fortunate in that there were no hurricanes formed during my time there, but with the category 4 storm now passing through Florida, I have been reflecting on the time during my first summer there when I experienced my first tropical storm. I believe it was in late August, the year was 2012, and I was living in Fort Pierce, Florida, a small relatively small town just south of Vero Beach on Florida’s east coast. At the time, I was working as a delivery driver for Marco’s Pizza, which provided me with some good stories that I will share another time. In the week leading up to the storm, a hurricane was headed our way, and having never been subjected to something like that before, I was understandably panicked. All week at work people made fun of me as I asked them a barrage of questions about such natural disasters, such as, how one many people die in hurricanes, and how one might go about not dying in hurricanes. As the storm neared the coast, it was downgraded to a Tropical Storm, and I was relieved, if only for a moment.

I had the day off work, but my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, did not, because she worked at a school and it was a week day. I woke up the day of, feeling incredibly nervous, afraid and unsure of what the day would hold. I secretly hoped the county would close the schools so Leticia could stay home, which in retrospect would have meant the storm would have gained strength and would have been much worse for everyone involved. I sat in the living room glued to the TV, watching the local news channel’s non-stop coverage of Tropical Storm SomethingorOther, and as it got closer to Fort Pierce, the fact that it wasn’t actually a hurricane wasn’t doing much in the way of easing my nerves. The sky had been dark all morning, but suddenly the rain started, pounding against the walls and windows, and then finally the news I had been dreading appeared on the TV screen; tornadoes were forming from the storm and people who were on the roads and those in mobile homes needed to seek shelter, which wouldn’t have been too big of a deal had I not been living in a mobile home at the time.

The panic really hit me then, as I had nowhere to go. I had to ride out the storm in the mobile home with paper thin walls, either that or get obliterated my a tornado. Leticia was texting me, telling me that she was okay and everyone in the school was in the hallways preparing to put into action the tornado pose, which consists of crouching down on your knees against the wall with your head down and covered by your hands, a pose that seemingly looks like you are surrendering to the storm, but an effective one nonetheless. I did my own version of the pose, lying facedown on the couch, in a room filled with windows, because all of the rooms had windows, and thought about dying, hoping it wouldn’t be too painful. The storm passed and no damage was caused to me or the mobile home, and I was filled with relief having survived my first tropical storm. I hope that everyone in Florida, riding out the hurricane can come away from their storm feeling the same way I did. My thoughts are with you.

A Long Hot Walk to the Dealership

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You know how when your old car starts showing signs of nearing the end of its life you start considering the idea of getting a new one? You probably start the search online and find out exactly the kind of car you want, and then you hit the dealerships and used car lots in your area in search of the best deals on that perfect car. That’s not how it happened for me. From the time I bought my 1994 Honda Civic it was pretty clear that I was going to need a new car. The front drivers side was dented with the headlight smashed out, not to mention that there was no air conditioning, which might not have been a problem in Antarctica, but I was living in Florida, the sunshine state where even the state flag is drenched in sweat, but hey, it got great gas mileage. That car was a constant source of pain, breaking down every couple of weeks in the parking lot of a grocery store or the office, never letting me forget what a terrible decision I made it making that purchase, but eventually enough was enough and it was time to get a more reliable car, one that we wouldn’t hesitate to take out on the highway for fear of splintering into a million little pieces as soon as the speedometer hit fifty.

I wanted an SUV so soon we had our choices down to a Nissan Rogue or a Honda CR-V. I really liked the rogue, but it was a little more expensive than the Honda, and my wife’s brother, the car guy, continuously recommended the Honda, saying it was the only kind of car he would ever drive. He drives a Subaru now, but we trusted him at the time and decided that the CR-V would be the car for us. We went around to a few of the dealerships in the area, searching for a low mileage model that it was in our price range, and one Tuesday night, we found our car. We had driven to the dealership in my mother in law’s car because my Honda Civic was acting up that month, and given that we didn’t have a driving car, we were pretty thrilled to find the car that we wanted within our price range, so we talked with the sales people for a while, got screwed over a few times, and finally had a deal for us to purchase the car. It was exciting, what I imagine most people feel like when their kids finally move out of the house, but since we wouldn’t have the money until the following day, I was going to come back the next morning to fill out the paperwork and pick up the new car. If only it had been that easy.

The next morning I woke up full of hope and excited to go pick up the new car. The plan was for me to drive my beat up old civic which would be traded in to help cover the cost of sales tax, and I would be driving the CR-V home. We lived just a couple of miles from the dealership, so despite the problems the civic had been having since the time I bough it, I thought surely it would be able to make the short drive to the car lot where it would then become somebody else’s problem. I was wrong. Before I even pulled out onto the main road, smoke started pouring out of both ends of the car, one last kick in the face to remind me what a piece of crap that Honda civic was. There was no way it was going to make it to the dealership, so I drove it back home and I started walking. Walking down the side of a two way highway isn’t always the most fun experience of a lifetime, but sometimes you have no other choice. By the time I arrived at the car dealership I was drenched in sweat and feeling very tired, but at least I hadn’t been ru over on the way to get the new car. I signed the paperwork and was on my way back home in the CR-V before too long, but that experience is one that will stick with me for a very long time.

Orange Beach to Orlando

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My wife and I left Orange Beach at five in the morning, eager to get our day of travel out of the way so we could relax at our next honeymoon destination for the next week. The first week of our honeymoon on the gulf coast of Alabama was fantastic, but when the day comes for us to leave, neither my new bride or myself like to stick around and waste the day, which is why we found ourselves on the road so early. It was a good plan, but unfortunately we didn’t plan as well the night before and didn’t end up going to bed until well after midnight, so needless to say, we were both pretty tired when we got up, bleary eyed, to hit the road a few hours later. Luckily for my wife, at that time in our relationship I didn’t really trust her to drive since my mom sent me to a defensive driving class when I was fifteen where I was shown pictures and videos of why other drivers cannot be trusted, images that still haunt me to this day, so she could sleep peacefully in the passenger seat while I manned the wheel and tried to figure out where in the world I was going. I finally found the interstate about the time it started to get light outside which meant it took me a lot longer to find than it should have, almost two hours of wasted time mindlessly circling Pensacola as the directions on my iPhone sent me contradicting directions as I got sleepier and sleepier.

By the time I merged onto the interstate I felt rejuvenated, excited to be on the road to Orlando, but a few miles later my eyelids started to droop and no matter what I did to try and wake myself up, munching sunflower seeds, cranking up the music, rolling down the windows, nothing was working and I knew I needed a break or I was one hundred percent going to fall asleep at the wheel. I woke my wife up and told her of the upcoming disaster of me crashing the car and both of us dying if I didn’t get some rest soon, so she convinced me to pull over and she would drive for a little bit while I napped in the passenger seat, a plan I didn’t trust, but not wanting to lose time by stopping at a rest stop for a nap, I eventually agreed and I pulled off at the next exit. We switched seats, and I closed my eyes, ready to get that much needed sleep. I kept my eyes closed as my wife pulled the car out onto the road, but as she increased her speed, merging back onto the interstate, there was no way that I could relax. My eyes flew open, expecting to see us careening directly into the side of an eighteen wheeler that would fall over onto our car and crush me, staining the interstate crimson with my blood for years to come, but to my surprise we were okay, at least for the moment.

I tried to trust my wife as she drove, but my feet wouldn’t cooperate, stomping down on the floorboard to no avail each time I felt she was going too fast or getting too close to another car. I was driving both my wife and myself crazy with my constant flinching and wincing, thinking about every single thing that could go wrong for every car that we passed; it was obvious that I wasn’t going to be able to relax long enough to fall asleep, so a few exits after my wife took over the driving duties, she pulled off of the interstate and into a rest area. As it turns out, it wasn’t that easy to fall asleep in the rest area either, primarily because my mind was racing, thinking about the likelihood of getting murdered while I slept in the car in a strange town. A sign stated that there was armed security at night, which did absolutely nothing for me given it was a few minutes after eight in the morning. I locked the doors and cracked the windows just a crack, because in the big scheme of things, suffocating would be just as impactful on my life as getting murdered. Somehow I fell asleep, but before an hour had passed I had already woken back up. The nap had tricked my mind into thinking that it was well rested, so before it could discover the truth I got back out on the road.

About twenty miles before we arrived in Orlando, the skies opened up and the rain started pouring down onto us so rapidly and hard that the highest setting on the windshield wipers did little in the way of helping me see the road. It’s true that I didn’t trust my wife’s driving and that I had thoughts in the back of my mind about getting murdered at the rest stop, but when I couldn’t see anything around me on that Florida interstate, I really thought there was a good chance that we were going to die. It took us more than an hour to arrive at our destination as we crawled along the interstate, bracing ourselves for impact with cars that we could not see. Miraculously we arrived unharmed and got checked in to our hotel a few hours after our original estimated time of arrival, but at least we had made it and could finally relax. At the time it was not a fun day, but now, looking back four and a half years later I can honestly say that I wouldn’t want to repeat that experience again. It was terrible.

Winning a Marital Disagreement

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For all of the people out there in relationships that are full of disagreements and conflicting opinions, who believe that no matter what, your significant other will never come around to feeling the way you do on certain issues, there is hope. Until today I never would have believed it and have given up on even trying to sway my wife’s opinion, but rejoice my friends because today it actually happened. Over the course of our relationship, my wife and I have had many disagreements over things, some small, like where to go for dinner or how to load the dishwasher, and some big, like whether Lord of the Rings is the greatest movie trilogy of all time, or if we should get dogs or not. Well we’ve never sat down and watched Lord of the Rings together and we now have two chihuahuas so it’s safe to say that I lose a lot more than I win, but today I won, and it feels fantastic.

The biggest fundamental difference of opinion that we have is far bigger than dogs or movies or how to load a dishwasher to make sure that everything gets clean (Seriously why does it matter how you put a spoon in? They’re not that expensive we could just buy more spoons), but rather where the ideal place to live is based on the weather. My wife was born in California and lived there for nine years before moving to Florida where she lived the rest of her life before we moved to Memphis last year, so her opinion was completely biased based on the surroundings she grew up with. She loves hot weather, so between Florida and Southern California that are two of the consistently warm climates in the country, she didn’t think it could get any better. I on the other hand like the cold. I absolutely loved living in Minnesota during the winter of my freshman year of college where snow stayed on the ground for the better part of three months, whereas the four years spent in Florida were some of the most miserable of my life, so we had to come up with a compromise, find a place where we could both get what we wanted, so we moved to Memphis.

We moved here in July, which was perfect for her so she could go from one hellishly hot place to another, but then fall rolled around and the heat relented and I was suddenly a much happier man, my first taste of cool fall air in four years. Last winter was a pretty mild one save for the week where it was consistently in the upper 20’s, but it was nice to have the cold for at least a little while, and to my wife’s surprise, she survived it. Now that it’s miserably hot again she was really enjoying it for a little while, but lately hasn’t been as happy about it, and today she texted me from work telling me that she can’t wait for winter and said she actually appreciates the changing seasons now, so take that Florida and California, Memphis wins (at least in that respect)! That just goes to show you that changes of opinions or preferences can change over the course of a relationship, so don’t give up hope and maybe, just maybe, you will be as happy as I am today.

My Tumultuous Relationship With the Public Library

The relationship between myself and the public library has been a somewhat tumultuous one over the years, with many more negatives than positives, although this has been entirely my fault, and like a bad couple who seem to keep breaking up and getting back together, so it is with me and the library, thinking each new time will be different, but so far that has never been the case. There was the Little Rock Public library, the one I grew up visiting, a relationship that started off great as I spent summers throughout childhood checking out as many books as they would allow and returning back countless times for more, but as I got older things changed. I would check out books that seemed interesting at the time and then more often than not I would get distracted with something else and end up not reading them, which wouldn’t have been a problem at all had I remembered to return the books. By the time I left Arkansas to go to college in Minnesota I had racked up over seventy dollars in fees from the library, but my mom bailed me out, giving me a fresh start when I decided to venture into the world of checking out books again.

I stayed away from the library for a few years until I moved to Florida, but the allure of unlimited books drew me back in and I fell into my old habits once again. I didn’t accrue as many fines for not returning books, the total being less than five dollars, and I really did intend on doing the right and responsible thing of paying for my transgressions, but as it turned out, the Fort Pierce library didn’t accept debit cards, they were cash only, which posed a problem for me as I have never been one in adulthood to carry cash on me. A kind stranger overheard the dilemma as I stood at the counter explaining to the librarian that I would have to return to pay my fines after visiting an ATM, and the stranger intervened saying she would pay the fine for me. I had hit rock bottom. I tried to dissuade the generous woman from freeing me from my debt, but she wouldn’t hear of it, no matter how much I pleaded, and eventually, against my will, paid my fine. It was at that moment that I decided I was done with the public library system, preferring instead to purchase books so that I could read what I wanted on my own time, building a personal library that would allow me to choose whatever book interested me as soon as I was ready to read something new. Then I moved to Memphis and the library bug bit me again.

Within the first month of living here I got a library card, you know, just to have one, but I stuck to my guns and for more than a year I didn’t check out a single book. I had all but forgotten about my library card, that is until today. The bank I work at can be pretty slow in the middle of the week with the higher traffic days being Monday and Friday, so to pass the time I will often read until a customer enters the branch, which is what I was doing today, but unfortunately I finished my current book with more than five hours left in my shift, and the temptation to check out a book became to much to resist, so on my lunch break I walked across the parking lot to the library and began browsing the infinite selection of books. I did check out a book, but at least it was only one, telling myself that I would read it, then immediately return it before checking out another. Hopefully this time around I’ll be more responsible and my relationship with the public library will be better than ever before. Only time will tell.