Good Friday

I woke up five minutes before my alarm was set to go off, so that was bad, but then things started to get better. As soon as I stepped out of the apartment, and breathed in the cool morning air, I was happy. It had been getting warmer the last couple days, but today, it’s back to being my kind of weather, which is a good thing. On my way to work, there was virtually no traffic, so instead of it taking me nearly half an hour to drive across town, it only took me thirteen minutes this morning, so that was good. I’ve been drinking a protein shake, which although it sounds like it would be similar to a delicious milkshake, it’s not. My protein shake consists of two components, two cups of milk, and protein powder, which I dump into the milk and proceed to shake ceaselessly as I walk from my apartment to my car, and then for a few minutes as I drive down the road. Normally, no matter how hard I shake the bottle, there always ends up being a few clumps of protein powder that make their way into my mouth and feel disgustingly grimy against my teeth, but today, that didn’t happen, which was good.

On my way to work, Semi-Charmed Life came on the radio, so I rolled down the windows and let the cool wind blow through my hair and melt all my worries away. Throughout the course of my life, I’ve found that there are few things as therapeutic as a perfectly timed Third Eye Blind song, and today was no exception, so that was a good way to start the day. You know how we all have that one annoying coworker, the person who can make you seriously consider creating a pros and cons list for quitting your job and being homeless just so you don’t have to see them every day? Oh, it’s just me? Well, anyway, mine isn’t at work today, so that’s a very good thing.

When I got to work, the smell of coffee brewing was too much to resist, so for the first time in more than a month, I drank a cup of black coffee. The bitter richness flavors that I love so much tasted even better than I remember. Hot coffee on a cold day is definitely on my list of favorite things, and today it was so good that I went and got myself a second cup, and that one was good too. I’ve packed the same thing for lunch that I’ve had every other day this week, but I have a feeling it’s going to taste better today for some reason, because that’s just the kind of day I’m having. I know it’s Friday and people are generally happier on Fridays, but tomorrow I have to work, so it’s not like once I get off work today my weekend is starting, but I’m happy.  I’m in a very good mood today, and I can’t exactly pin down one specific reason why, but everything just feels right today. It really is a good Friday.


What I Gave Up for Lent

IMG_4977Lent began on Wednesday, February the 14th, Valentine’s day, but I didn’t really think about it given that I’m not Catholic and not a big fan of giving up things that I like, so I didn’t, but the next day at work, one of my coworkers, who also isn’t Catholic by the way, was talking about giving up something for lent. I was listening from the drive thru, set back in the corner away from everybody else, but I wasn’t participating in the conversation, mainly because of my previous stance on not giving up things I enjoy. Two of my coworkers decided they were going to give up all drinks except for water for the next month and a half, and another said she was going to give up drinking alcohol, and as much I wanted to avoid the conversation, it turned to me, and they asked if I was going to give up something for Lent. I decided I would since everyone else was doing it, because, you know, peer pressure, so I started contemplating what would be a good sacrifice I could make for the Easter season.

Since I was going to be giving something up, I wanted it to be something that would take a little bit of effort, because I could easily say that I’m going to give up cutting off my legs with a chainsaw and then cruise until Easter, but that would kind of defeat the purpose, but I wasn’t just going to mail it in, not on the Lord’s holiday. I chose to give up caffeine, which considering than water, I normally drink coffee and tea, was going to be a pretty big sacrifice. That night, I met my wife for dinner after work at a Mexican restaurant, and without thinking ordered unsweetened iced tea, because they have incredible tea there, and drank several glasses of it, so my Lenten season didn’t get off to the greatest start. I didn’t even realize what I’d done until I got to work the next day and was asked how I did without caffeine, but I vowed to try harder, and that’s exactly what I did.

I bought some caffeine free diet soda, and caffeine free tea, and discovered, that it actually wasn’t half bad, although I swear I could tell a difference in taste, but I suppose it could have been a placebo effect. When I went to the movies, instead of getting a giant soda, I got water, and even though it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as sipping on ice cold diet coke, at least I was sticking to what I’d committed to. Of all the people at work that had given up something for lent, with the exception of that first night at El Porton, I was the only one who had strictly stuck to it for a whole month, but then one day, I was craving a soda, and that’s when everything was starting to unravel. I was at sonic and I really wanted a diet dr. pepper with vanilla and lime, but I know that there was caffeine in it. I could have gone home where I had a bottle of the caffeine free stuff, but I decided, against my better judgement to order it anyway. It was delicious, but things haven’t been the same.

I haven’t even been thinking about avoiding caffeine the last week, drinking diet Pepsi and regular iced tea, completely ignoring the sacrifice I was supposed to be making. I’m not thrilled that I didn’t stick it out until the end, but what really bothers me is now that I’m drinking caffeine again, I’m having a lot of trouble falling asleep, tossing and turning for at least an hour before I’m able to doze off. That’s why I’m going to give up caffeine indefinitely. I’m going to completely cut it out of my life because apparently it has a massive effect on the way I sleep, and I’m tired of waking up and being tired. Since I didn’t stick to it initially I’m not expecting the Easter Bunny to leave me a basket full of candy and toys, but since I’m making the commitment to renew the no caffeine lifestyle, maybe he’ll leave me a Reese’s egg or two.

The Not So Perfect Valentine’s Lunch

Yesterday was one of those rare days where my wife didn’t have work or school. It’s an occurrence that doesn’t happen to often because she works thirty to forty hours every week at her job, and is a full time student two days a week, but yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, she had to do neither, which seemed like a pretty lucky coincidence. I still had to work, so we wouldn’t be spending the whole day together or anything, but I thought it might be fun to go out for a nice lunch together since that’s something that our schedules generally don’t allow these days, so I asked Leticia if she wanted to meet me for lunch at Buckley’s Lunchbox, a restaurant that’s only open for lunch and is a subsidiary of Buckley’s Grill, which is more of a fine dining restaurant. I’d only been to Buckley’s Lunchbox once, years ago, when I came to visit my dad, and I don’t remember a ton about it except for the steak burger that I got was incredible and was instantly one of my favorite burgers in Memphis. My wife looked over the menu, something she often does before we eat somewhere she’s never been, because God forbid we make an important decision about where to eat lunch without doing extensive and tireless research, and excitedly agreed after finding a menu item, the cheddar bacon burger, that was up to her standard.
A few minutes after one, my designated daily lunchtime, I got in my car to make my way towards the restaurant where my Leticia was set to meet me, in about five minutes, but the train had other plans. To get to Buckley’s Lunchbox, I have to turn left out of the parking lot at the stoplight, but since the train happened to be going by at that particular time, even though it wasn’t blocking my path, I still couldn’t turn left because the traffic continued to flow on the busy street thanks to the stoplight that was choosing to completely ignore the people like me who needed to turn left. By the time I got to the restaurant it had taken me almost fifteen minutes, but luckily my wife had been running late as well so she wasn’t left waiting on me for too long. We squeezed ourselves through the front doors of the crowded restaurant, wedging ourselves between everyone else in the city that apparently had the same idea for a romantic Valentine’s Day lunch that we did. Once we made it to the counter, the hostess informed us that it would be a fifteen minute wait, so on top of the fifteen minutes it had taken me to get there, plus fifteen minutes waiting, my hour long lunch break would be half over before we even sat down at our table. Given how crowded the restaurant was, it didn’t seem likely that we were going to get the super quick service required to order, eat, and pay the bill, all within twenty minutes so I would be able to arrive back at work on time.
Based on the numbers and knowing that I needed to be back at work on time so that the next person could go to lunch, I informed the hostess that we wouldn’t be able to wait and that we would have to come back another time. I haven’t been in this situation too many times, but I would assume if you tell the hostess that you will have to come back another day because you don’t have time to wait today, that the hostess would thank you or say something like “We’ll see you soon.” This hostess did neither of these things, and didn’t actually say anything to either me or my wife, but she did give Leticia a look, a sympathetic look, a look that said “I’m so sorry he’s ruining your Valentine’s Day” or “What kind of jerk would make you leave over a fifteen minute wait?” The look was sickening. This person didn’t know us or our situation, she didn’t know that I had to get back to work so that another coworker could take their lunch, and she didn’t know that my wife was completely okay with leaving and going somewhere else, something we discussed before walking in when we saw how crowded the parking lot was. If there was a wait, we would just go eat lunch somewhere else, so that’s what we did.
We decided to try the Half Shell, a restaurant both we both like that wasn’t too far away, but when we got there, even though it was nearing 1:30, the parking lot was completely full, as in there wasn’t a single open parking space. Using my Sherlock Holmes detective skills, I figured out that if there was nowhere to park, then the restaurant would be really busy and there would probably be a wait, so Leticia suggested we just go to Lenny’s, the sub shop next door. It certainly wasn’t crowded, and the sandwiches we ordered were pretty good, the roast beef for her and the American club, a sandwich with ham, turkey, bacon, and cheese, for me. It certainly wasn’t the lunch we expected to have when we made plans to meet yesterday, and even though the quality of the food probably wasn’t as good as we would have had at Buckley’s, it was nice just to share a Valentine’s Day meal with my beautiful wife.

Our First Valentine’s Day

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the first Valentine’s Day that me and Leticia ever spent together, so if you’ll indulge me, then I’ll tell you the sappy love story of that first day. Just kidding, it wasn’t that sappy, so if you’re looking for something like that, then you definitely need to look elsewhere because you’re not going to find it here. It was February 14, 2012 and night had descended on Searcy, Arkansas, the college town where we were both attending school at the time. Being a broke college student, I didn’t have much money with which to take her out to dinner on that most romantic of evenings, but that was okay because we each had a coupon for a free Papa John’s pizza due to a promotion during the Super Bowl where you guessed the result of the coin toss and if the majority of the country’s population guessed the toss correctly, then they would get a free pizza. I think this might have been the one and only time I was ever excited to get Papa John’s pizza.
While I didn’t have enough money to take us out for a nice Valentine’s Day dinner, I did however make sure I had enough set aside to get her a gift, something I was very excited about. Pretty early on in our then five month old relationship, Leticia and I were talking about what we liked to read and that was when I found out that she was really big into Russian Literature and her favorite story was called “The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol, a writer I’d heard of but hadn’t read much if any of his work. She told me about the story and how much she enjoyed it, but I also discovered that she read “The Nose” on a handout in one of her high school English classes, and had never read anything else written by Gogol. When I found this out, I knew that I wanted to get her a collection of Gogol stories so that she would not only have her favorite story in a book, but also have more to read by that author that she enjoyed so much, so by the time February got here, I already knew exactly what I was going to get for her, the only problem was, the only bookstore in town, Hasting’s, didn’t have anything by Gogol.
This was a time before I became an Amazon savant, ordering any book I want with the click of a mouse and having it arrive at my doorstep two days later, but luckily, Hastings told me they could order the book for me and guaranteed it’s arrival in 7 to 10 days, which was pushing it since there was only a little more than a week until Valentine’s Day, but I knew this is what I wanted to get her, so I placed the order and just hoped that the book would get there on time. As the days ticked by I was starting to get nervous, but the day before, on February 13th, I got the call and all was right with the world.
I picked up Leticia at her dorm, then we picked up the pizza from Papa John’s, a pizza she had special ordered to arrange the pepperonis into a heart shape. Okay, so maybe it was a little sappy. We took the pizza and went to a park down the street where we walked to a picnic table where we ate the pizza, and huddled close together under the starlit night watched the movie, “Big Fish” on a laptop. I’m not sure why we decided to watch “Big Fish,” but she had never seen it and from what I remembered it was pretty good and luckily it turned out to be as good as I remembered and we both really enjoyed the evening. Before I took her back to her dorm, we exchanged gifts. I reached into the backseat of my gold Ford Explorer Sport and pulled out a little wrapped package that was unmistakably a book, but Leticia still acted surprised when she ripped off the paper and found that it was indeed a book.
She was excited about the collection of Gogol stories I’d given her, and was a little bit surprised that I remembered her talking about that months ago. I might have been offended at her surprise, but admittedly, and as a lot of people can attest to, I’m not the greatest listener. Then Leticia reached into the back and pulled out a golden brown box which she handed to me. I had no idea what it could be, but when I opened the lid I was surprised to see something I’d wanted for a long time, a Tony Romo football jersey. It’s possible that I’m the biggest fan that Tony Romo ever had, praising him with the good and standing by him with the bad. While other people were quick to criticize number 9 on a late game mistake, I was quick to defend him, knowing deep down that all the haters were just being ignorant. I hadn’t had a Dallas Cowboys jersey since I had Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman back in the mid 90’s, because since then, there had never been a player I liked as much as I had them, but ten or so years later, that all changed when a young Tony Romo came into the game and led the Cowboys to victory.
Leticia, like few other people I knew, was on my side in the Tony Romo debate, and understood how much he meant to the team as well as the fans, so she got me his jersey, the throwback jerseys that the team wears on Thanksgiving, my favorite out of all their uniforms, and to this day is still one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. I couldn’t have asked for a better first Valentine’s Day to spend with the woman who would eventually become my wife. It wasn’t an upscale dinner at a steakhouse where a man walked between tables playing the violin like we had last year, but we made due with what we had, and looking back, it’s one of my favorite meals that we’ve ever shared together. I feel very lucky to have the same Valentine’s Day date six years later. There’s that sappiness again.

Eat and Eat and Eat: A Christmas Story

IMG_4601 Christmas is one of my favorite days of the year because it combines two of my favorite things in the world, family and food, and yesterday certainly had plenty of both. I’ll tell you all about it. For as long as I can remember, on Christmas morning when I’ve been at my mom’s house, we’ve always had a big christmas brunch. Now, there’s nothing inherently christmas themed about the brunch, but I call it a christmas brunch because of the day on which that meal occurs. Moving on. Yesterday after waking up and exchanging and opening gifts with my mom, grandmother, wife, and two younger brothers, plus a stocking for my mom’s dog, coach, which was kind of odd because Santa didn’t fill a stocking for our dogs, Jack and Mocha, maybe because they’ve been bad dogs this year, we all settled around the table to enjoy brunch. As many pictures as I take, I know you will find this surprising, but for whatever reason, I didn’t snap any of the breakfast food, but you can take my word for it, everything looked delicious, except of course for the poppyseed muffins, that only my brother Logan eats, despite the fact that that is one of the worst and most vile tasting foods I’ve ever tasted.

The spread was huge and I loaded my plate with breakfast casserole, a delicious blend of sausage, egg, and cheese baked to perfection, biscuits and gravy, a blueberry muffin, as well as sausage and some bacon. Everything was really good, and if you’ve never had breakfast casserole, try it sometime, because when you’re having a terrible awful no good very bad day, you can take solace in knowing that there is something as amazing as breakfast casserole in this world, a thought that should brighten your day instantly. My plate was so full that I didn’t have room to put any cinnamon roll on my plate, so I went to get some of that, and figured while I was up there I might as well get some more bacon and another muffin as well. It was a great decision, possibly the best I’ve ever made. The cinnamon roll that my mom makes is easily the best I’ve ever had, with a sweet icing and pecans on top for a nice, soft crunch.

After eating brunch at my mom’s in Searcy, Arkansas, my wife and I hit the road and got back to Memphis in time for christmas dinner at my grandparents house last night with my dad, aunt Kathryn, uncle Jimmy, and cousin, Bailey. Again, there was nothing christmas themed about the dinner, and I only called it that because of the day on which we ate. I’m not going to explain this anymore. If you can’t figure it out for yourself from now on, get off my blog! Anyway, that spread, like the brunch in Arkansas, was enormous, and it too looked delicious, which you can see for yourself since I did remember to take a picture at dinner. For the second time that day I loaded up my plate, but instead of breakfast casserole and biscuits, I filled it with green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, ham, and last but certainly not least, a dinner roll. My cousin Bailey (which when said aloud reminds me of the great movie titled “My Cousin Vinny”) made the sweet potato and green bean casseroles, and she, a reader of my blogs where I sometimes write food reviews, asked me to give an honest opinion of those two dishes, so I did.

My first bite was of the sweet potatoes and they were delicious, my exact words, I believe, were “so good.” Next I put a bite of green beans in my mouth, and for some reason, I hesitated and failed to give a response with as much gusto as I had for the previous bite, so she thought I didn’t like them. I actually did enjoy the green bean casserole, but as much as I tried to convince the audience of people around the table of this fact, it didn’t seem to sink in. I messed it up even worse for myself later in the dinner, when it came back up again, and again I tried to explain the hesitation. I started by saying, “normally green bean casserole is my favorite dish” and would have continued to say that the hesitation was because I was judging it against others I’ve had so I could give an honest answer about what I thought of it, but I didn’t get a chance, because my wording made it seem like I was saying “normally green bean casserole is my favorite dish but this is horrible.” It was all in fun, but for the record, Bailey, I did think your green bean casserole was good, and I actually ate some leftovers from lunch today (not pictured).

The mac and cheese and mashed potatoes were really good. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the mashed red potatoes but it was a nice change from the traditional mashed potatoes and I really enjoyed them. Some people spend lots of time cooking turkey or ham for christmas, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it seems like a wasted effort when you could get a ham as delicious as the one we had last night which my dad got from One and Only BBQ in Memphis. You could taste the smoky flavor in each bite, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that that pig came from a barbecue restaurant. I haven’t been to One and Only yet, but I’ve heard good things, and if their barbecue is anything like they’re ham, I’m going to love it. Yesterday was a full day, full of lots of fun with the family and lots of really good food. It’s a good thing Christmas only comes once a year, because I’m going to need a solid 365 days to work off the weight I likely gained yesterday.

The Airing of Grievances: A Festivus Tradition

Most of you probably think of December 23rd as just another day while some of you might think of it as Christmas eve eve, but not me, because for me, this day holds a special place in my heart. As any other faithful follower of the TV show Seinfeld knows, December 23rd is the holiday known as Festivus. Created by George’s father, Frank Costanza, Festivus is one man’s rebellion against the commercialism of Christmas, the origin story most beautifully told in the Seinfeld episode titled “The Strike” which is season 9 episode 10 for those of you who would like to be enlightened. There are several rich Festivus traditions, but my absolute favorite is the airing of grievances, where, after dinner, you gather your family around the table and tell them all of the ways they’ve disappointed you throughout the year. While I’m not going to speak ill of my family, I do have some grievances to air about the past year, so gather around and get comfortable, because this may take a while.

While sports have always been one of my favorite things in life, this year the teams that I follow have disappointed me quite a bit, so this first grievance is dedicated to them. The St. Louis Cardinals, who have won multiple World Series over the past decade failed to make the playoffs this year for the second season in a row. There were ups and downs throughout the season, but it ultimately got so bad that I completely lost interest in the Cardinals midway through the summer, one of the things I can usually count on to carry me through those long, hot, and miserable months. This year there was no solace. The Dallas Cowboys, my favorite football team, gave me hope last year after finishing 13-3 and making the playoffs, hope that this might actually be our year, but a three game losing stretch midway through the season dug a hole for the team that is probably too deep to climb out of. Statistically there’s still hope that the Cowboys can make the playoffs, but they have to not only win their last two games of the year, one against the best team in the league, but must also depend on other teams losing multiple games, so my hopes aren’t too high at this juncture. The Memphis Grizzlies, my hometown basketball team entered this season with an air of mystery, as nobody really knew what to expect after losing two of our longtime favorite players in Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, the heart of our team. They started off hot, winning games against the best teams in the league, even at one point rising to the status of a first place ranking in the NBA, but ultimately it was a false hope given. Since one of our top players, Mike Conley, went down with an injury more than a month ago, the Grizzlies have only one two game, and if that hasn’t been painful enough, we fired our head coach, David Fizdale, who I really liked. Maybe things will turn around in 2018 for my teams, but as for this year, they’ve all been major disappointments. Shame on you all.

Next on my list of disappointments for the year is our president, our fearless leader, Donald J. Trump. I was disappointed last year in the American people for electing someone to the most powerful office in the world, who clearly shouldn’t have even been considered for the position, but that was last year, and I hoped that once he took office that maybe he would tone things down, but sadly, he has done quite the opposite, tweeting too much, insulting various countries and world leaders, proving what I and many others knew last fall, that he isn’t competent to be president. I fear, and I’m sure that I’m not alone in this, that his harsh words, seemingly spoken without thought, along with rash actions, will lead us into a war at some point during his ridiculous presidency. I’m very disappointed in you Donald J. Trump. I hope you can accept your grievance with dignity, something I’m afraid you have very little, if any, within you.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I would like to air my grievance against the apartment complex where my wife and I live. There have been little things that have disappointed me, such as raising our rent this year and maintenance workers parked in our assigned parking space, but there are other things that have taken place, that are a lot more difficult to overlook, like for instance, all the times the water has been shut off this year. These apartments, use as a selling tool, the fact that they pay for all of the residents’ water, which is nice, but is it really worth it when they shut the water off so much? This past week, the water was shut off four out of five days, which is absolutely absurd. Maybe I could look past all of the other things, maybe if that was all that was wrong at this apartment complex then I wouldn’t be so disappointed, but sadly, there was the squirrel incident. Earlier in the year, I woke up to a hole in my bedroom wall, a hole made by the squirrel that was living inside of it, the squirrel that I on multiple occasions spoke to the office about after having to listen to its incessant scratching on the wall at all hours of the night. They did nothing, and one morning the hole appeared. Someone should have been sent over immediately to fix the problem, really it’s the least they could have done, but it took them more than a week to send somebody over to nail a board up over the hole, and a month longer to actually get somebody in here who could actually repair the wall. I’m very disappointed, and frankly can’t wait until my lease is up so I can get out of this poorly managed apartment complex. Shame on you.

That does it for all of my grievances this year, and I’ve gotta tell you, it feels pretty good, almost cathartic, airing them on this Festivus holiday. My hope is that 2018 will be a wonderful year full of wonderful things, where nothing bad happens and nothing is disappointing, but I’m a realist. There hasn’t been a year in my life where that has happened, so I’m fairly confident that the streak won’t be broken in the coming year, so come back next December 23rd, and I’ll be more than happy to tell you about all of the things that have disappointed me. Happy Festivus everyone!

Secret Santa

Have you ever done secret Santa at work? If you are one of the lucky ones who is oblivious to this unnecessary festive tradition, it’s where everyone draws a name, and you begrudgingly buy a gift for whichever name you pull. It’s not that I’m opposed to giving gifts to people I work with, but secret Santa just seems so forced. You drew my name, therefore you owe me a twenty-five dollar gift. It’s ridiculous. And the way we’re doing it at my work this year, everyone wrote down three gift choices for whomever drew them to choose from, and most everyone just asked for gift cards, which basically means that we are all just going to be exchanging twenty-five dollar gift cards, so we might as well have just kept the money for ourselves.
Anyway, the work Christmas party is today, so naturally I waited until yesterday to get my gift contribution to the secret Santa portion of the day. I nearly forgot about it, because Christmas really has kind of snuck up on me this year. It didn’t sneak up on me in the sense that I didn’t realize that it fell on December 25th again, but this month has seemed to pass very quickly. I can’t believe we’re four days away from Christmas, because it really doesn’t feel like it. The coworker whose name I drew requested gift cards or something from Dixie Pickers, a store that I’ve never been to, so I combined the two ideas and decided to get him a gift card from that store. Yesterday on my lunch break I set off to do just that. Although I’d never been there before, I’d passed it quite a few times, so I knew the general area where it was located, but by the time I saw it on my right, I didn’t have enough time to pull over and into that first entrance, but it didn’t bother me. I would just turn down the next street and enter the parking lot from the other side. I turned down the street and into the Wendy’s parking lot that sits right next to Dixie Pickers. Unfortunately, I realized that I couldn’t enter the Dixie Pickers parking lot through Wendy’s, because for some stupid reason, the two parking lots were separated by a big fence.
I would either have to walk through a vacant lot, a gas station parking lot, and down a side street in order to navigate my way around the fence that for whatever reason encloses Dixie Pickers, or turn left on a really busy street during the lunch rush hour in order to get back to the actual entrance. I decided to walk because it would be quicker. As I started walking through the abandoned lot, it began to rain. The sky was dark, but I being the eternal optimist, I just assumed the rain would wait for me to get back to the car. I was wrong. I began rushing, trying to avoid the little droplets of water that threatened to melt me. When I got through the gas station parking lot, instead of walking on the side road because cars were flying by, I walked on the side of the road, which happened to be really muddy, I realized too late. I slipped, but luckily I didn’t fall, which was the only good news about the whole ordeal. My dress shoes plunged into the depths of the earth, mud covering both sides and even a portion of my pant legs.
I went in looking like some hurricane survivor and purchased the gift card. I didn’t browse the store, but it seemed like a pretty neat place from what I could surmise from the line I was standing in. On the way back to the car I threw caution to the wind and walked in the street, not caring if I got run over or not, because at least I wouldn’t have to show back up to work with muddy shoes and pants. No such luck. I arrived back at my car unscathed, though wet and muddy, all for a secret Santa. I hope he likes his gift card, because that’s what Christmas is all about, bringing smiles to the faces of the adults that I work with.