The Amateur Traffic Cop

Sometimes even people with the best of intentions can end up looking like idiots. Take for instance the girl I saw get into a car accident the other day. Okay so I didn’t actually see the accident take place, but I did witness the aftermath, which is really the whole point of the story anyway, so let’s not get caught up in semantics. The wreck happened at a stoplight, and I’m hesitant to use the word “accident” because after seeing the idiocy displayed by the girl, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone was trying to hit her intentionally, just to keep her off the road for at least a little while, because she was clearly a danger to herself and others. I saw her from the drive through of McDonald’s, where my wife and I were waiting on her iced coffee to be ready, and we sat in both fascination and horror as the seen played out before us, this young girl, probably in her early twenties, trying to direct traffic around the wreck while coincidentally not trying all that hard not to get run over. She looked like a severely depressed girl who finally snapped and left her car parked in the middle of traffic, standing behind it just waiting for the right moment to jump into oncoming traffic, but she seemed oblivious to the danger of the situation, the innocence of her young age completely apparent, as was her stupidity.
 
    It was about eight thirty at night, too late for an iced coffee in my opinion, and also too late for someone to be standing in the middle of a dark street, attempting to direct traffic. She was standing behind a van, which wasn’t her car by the way, but the car of the person who had hit her, so I’m still not even completely sure why she was so worried about nobody hitting that van in the first place. Whatever her intentions, they were completely unnecessary because of the bright red emergency lights flashing on the back of the van, signaling to anyone within view that there was a stopped car in the middle of the road. Given the time of day, the girl was barely visible from where we sat about twenty yards away in a lit up parking lot, so I can only imagine how hard she was to see. At first it was unclear to me what she was doing, waving her arms like one of those gigantic inflatable things at car dealerships that seem to be moving of their own accord in the wind, falling forwards and then backwards then sided to side then repeated in a different order, the randomness of it all very entertaining to watch. The girl’s arms were raised, moving them from side to side, crossing over her face as she did so, and that’s when I realized she was attempting to direct people around the car that was clearly stopped in the middle of the road with emergency lights making that abundantly evident to everyone, whereas the amateur traffic director was causing confusion. When they finally saw her, drivers pulled up beside her thinking she was waving down some help, wherein reality she was making a bad situation (the car wreck) even worse by backing up traffic even more than it should have been with her ridiculous, though well intentioned, antics. I don’t know what happened to her, whether the police officer who finally arrived on the scene lectured her on why what she was doing was completely stupid, but I hope she’s okay, that she didn’t get hit by a car, so that maybe she will learn from this mistake, and pass it on to others, so I don’t have to see any more idiots standing in the middle of a dark road at night.

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.

The Problem With My Parking Spot

IMG_3603It’s a common theme throughout the landscape of the working class, that once the work day ends, nothing is better than arriving at home, seen by homeowners and renters alike as a refuge and a place to relax, so imagine arriving home one afternoon to find somebody parked in your driveway or parking space forcing you to park further away, prolonging that wave of peace that consumes you as the door unlocks and you step inside. Now imagine that happening frequently, say a weekly basis, and it’s never a pattern and no warning is given so you don’t know exactly when it’s going to happen, thus disallowing your mind to prepare itself for the disappointment it will face to encounter this problem. This has been my life since moving into my apartment complex over a year ago, and unfortunately there are no signs that this unfair practice will stop anytime soon.

At my apartments we are assigned one designated parking space, right down stairs from where we live. My wife and I have two cars so one of us parks in the spot, and the other parks further away in the uncovered areas that are open to anyone, with the person arriving home first generally parking further away so that the other person will have the close space when they get home, a system that has worked well for us, except on the weekly occasion that someone is parked in our assigned spot, forcing us to find one further away, and since the open spaces fill up as the day drags on, that person ends up having to park much further away from the apartment, sometimes even all the way in front of the main office which is about a five minute walk away. This may not seem like a big deal, and I suppose in the big scheme of things that it really is not, but when you just want to get home after a long day of work, it can be rather annoying.

The main culprit I’ve found is one of the maintenance workers, who like to park in our spot because it is directly in front of their tool shed. They do work here and should have easy access to the shed, but why then isn’t there a designated parking space for maintenance workers in order to eliminate the need to park in a resident’s spot? It’s not like our spot is the only one in front of the shed and in fact there is a whole row of spaces directly in front of it, but it seems like every time a maintenance worker is in the shed, their truck is parked in my spot, more often than not with the spaces on either side completely empty. What is so great about my particular space that they seek it out over the others? From my extensive research, hours spent studying each parking spot on either side of mine, I have been unable to find even the slightest difference. I’ve considered purchasing a traffic cone to occupy my parking space when my car is gone, but it just seems like too much of a hassle to have to get out to put the cone in place when I leave, and then again to remove it when I return home, so I guess this is just something I’ll have to continue to deal with until I finally move, and I’m not one bit happy about it.

A Trip to the Mall on a Tuesday Afternoon

IMG_4082I have to work this Saturday which means that today I only had to go into work for a few hours, so when I got home I took my wife to her chiropractor, not because I love going to the dimly lit building where my wife’s spine gets shoved back into place, but because it’s rare that we are ever off work at the same time and I wanted to hang out with her today. After the appointment that took maybe ten minutes, and cost roughly two dollars per minute, which in all sincerity is money well spent since my wife could hardly even walk before, we decided it might be fun to go to the mall since we were already over in the area, and since school started here yesterday, we figured it wouldn’t be obnoxiously crowded like the rest of the summer. Sadly, we were wrong.

I’m not kidding when I say that the parking lot was as crowded as I can ever remember and I had to park pretty far from the entrance, not that I minded that aspect all that much since it turned out to be a pretty pleasant summer day. We walked into the food court, the place where any good trip to the mall starts, and got a snack of bacon cheese fries and a soda. You really haven’t lived until you try walking around the mall on a miserably full stomach. The cheese fries were overly salty, but they were devoured nonetheless, and with no particular destination in mind, we began to wander around the Wolfchase Galleria. There were quite a few stores that have opened up since we’d last been in there, so we ventured inside, were hassled by salespeople wanting to help us find something that we ourselves didn’t know we were looking for, and subsequently left, moving on to the next one.

The process repeated in this fashion with each store we went into, which left me remembering why I don’t like the mall that much in the first place, because browsing just isn’t as much fun without unlimited funds in the bank account, and it’s uncomfortable the way the shop owner’s eyes will follow you around the store, waiting expectantly to make a purchase that never actually happens. We went into Bath and Body Works, a store that I both loathe and love, because nothing is offensive as the combination of odors that you might smell, but there are few things as satisfying as walking away with the perfect scented candle that brings back some unknown memory that translates to happiness. We walked around taking the tops off of various candles and smelling them to see if that is what we wanted our apartment to smell like for the next month or so, but more often than not we shook our heads in disgust as candles with names like “Flannel” or “Pomegranate” gave off overwhelming scents that were altogether unpleasant. We did however find one that we love, an old favorite of ours, “Pumpkin Apple”, but agreed that was a scent better suited for a nice and cool fall evening than a warm and muggy summer afternoon that is currently our reality, so we left the store empty handed, vowing to come back for that candle once the leaves begin to change and life seems much more optimistic. Although we didn’t end up buying anything, I wouldn’t consider the afternoon a bust, because it was just nice getting to spend some quality time in the mall with my wife on a Tuesday, which in itself is a pretty rare occurrence.

When in Doubt Leave the Vegetables Out

IMG_4070An immediate stomach ache that hits you as soon as you leave a restaurant and a desperate need to find a bathroom as quickly as possible, are two telltale signs that the meal you just ate went terribly awry. Unfortunately, both of these symptoms hit me like a ton of bricks, or more specifically a plate of nachos as soon as I left El Porton, a Mexican restaurant where we ate dinner last night. My wife and I met the rest of the family there, gathering to celebrate the birthday of both my grandpa and cousin. I’m always in the mood for Mexican food and had actually been craving it lately, so when I was told that we would be having that for dinner, I was pretty excited, to the point where I actually caught myself thinking at random intervals throughout my day about what I might get to eat that night. The chips and salsa arrived before the drinks, as is typically custom at Mexican restaurants, but I showed a great deal of restraint that I normally lack, by waiting to dig in until my water arrived, which turned out to be a good call on my part since the salsa was a little spicier than I remembered.

I ordered fajita nachos with steak, because steak sounded really good to me but more so for the cheese dip that I’d been thinking about relentlessly throughout the day. I had the choice of ordering the nachos with or without vegetables, and despite the kid in me screaming that vegetables are gross, I ordered them anyway, to prove, if only to myself, that I am in fact an adult and vegetables actually aren’t all that bad. I was expecting some diced tomatoes, lettuce, jalapeños, and maybe even some onions, but in my haste to order the food, my brain neglected to register that the vegetables served with the fajita nachos would be just that, vegetables typically found in a steaming pan of fajitas, but don’t worry, I found out soon enough. The food arrived and I tried to not pre-judge my nachos based on appearance with the huge chunks of onion, tomato, and bell pepper being the most visible and populous foods on my plate, something that might have been aesthetically pleasing to a strict vegetarian, but I myself found it to be very unattractive.

The steak was delicious but the pieces of juicy meat were far overpowered by the crunchiness of the peppers and onions that I was desperately trying to make an asset of the dish but was rather hindering and taking away from the best ingredient. The cheese dip of course was amazing, because white cheese dip has a way of never letting you down, but again the giant vegetables were doing their best to make themselves known above all else. I gave some of the onions and peppers to my mimi and wife, the only two people at the table of nine who wanted anything to do with them, and finished my nachos in peace. Not long after, the storm hit and I was clutching my stomach which hurt like I’d eaten a half dozen creme filled doughnuts that were a few days old for breakfast and washed it down with a big glass of expired milk, not that I would know from experience. I don’t know if my body was having that reaction because it was shocked by my vegetable intake after years of neglecting healthy food or if something else was causing my growing discomfort, but I was completely miserable. The one good thing to come from this terrible experience was a valuable life lesson that I won’t soon forget; when in doubt leave the vegetables out.

The Unpaid Debt of Portia Triplett

I can be incredibly stubborn in that I don’t ask for help a lot of times when I really need it, thinking I can handle anything on my own, or at least try to before failing miserably at whatever it is that I’m trying to accomplish and having somebody step in and offer their help. I don’t know why I’m this way, maybe it’s pride, though if you’ve read about my fear of loud noises then you are probably aware that I don’t have much of that, but it’s something I need to work on, admitting I need help and asking for it, so here I am, down on both knees with my hands clasped before me, asking for help. Can somebody help me find Portia Triplett? Now admittedly I don’t even know if that’s the way to spell her name, maybe it’s Porsche like the car or Triplet with a single T at the end, but if anyone knows this person, I would forever be indebted to you for the kindness of letting me know how to get into contact with her. Here’s why.

When I moved to Memphis more than a year ago, I changed my phone number from the 772 Florida area code where I’d been living for four years to the local 901 code, putting the sunshine state in my past with Memphis as my future, but that is precisely when the trouble started. The day I changed my phone number I began receiving calls from unknown people, often from out of state, all of the callers with one thing in common, that they were looking for Portia Triplett. These weren’t old friends of Portia, looking to meet for a cup of coffee and catch up on their lives since they graduated high school together, but rather very angry people, eager to get back money that Portia had borrowed from them for a myriad of different things, school and credit cards among the two most common.

No matter how many times I talked to these people and explained that I had no idea who Portia was, the calls didn’t stop, like cockroaches that multiply by the dozens when you leave a pizza box sitting out, these debt collectors seemed to multiply each time I answered the phone, mistakenly thinking that since they got me to answer the call that they would eventually be able to get me to admit that I am in fact, Portia Triplett, or at the very least know who she is, but let me assure you that this is not the case. It’s becoming a daily annoyance having these calls, and nothing has happened over the past year to give me any indication that they will stop, so as I see it, I have two options. I can either change my phone number, and hope the new one will have once belonged to someone who paid their bills on time, or I can find Portia and ask her politely to inform the powers that be, that she has a new phone number. I don’t really want a new number because it took me long enough to memorize this one, so that is why I’m humbly asking, if anyone out there knows Portia so I can make my plea. If things keep trending in this same way, there’s a good chance my phone will end up at the bottom of the Mississippi River, tossed from my car window after one collection call too many, but at least then, I will be able to go about living my daily life in peace, which I believe is something we all strive for on some level.