Saturday, February 13, 2016

Hick Skates on Thin Ice

Heh, heh! Not so fast! You're not out of Val's unfortunate cheese-cutting week just yet!

Thursday we were off again for another snow day, after being sent home early Wednesday. Let the record show that the roads were bad when The Pony and I came home Wednesday afternoon. When I pulled into the garage, I asked him to get the long arm of the ice scraper/brush favored by large SUV drivers in cold climes, and use it not to clear off the icy slush from around T-Hoe's windshield wipers, but to instead sweep the icy slush off my running board. That thing is treacherous in the winter. Slush blows up on there as I drive, and then freezes when I park. It's like you have to be Dorothy Hamill or Tonya Harding to get up in there the next day. But not Nancy Kerrigan, because a bum leg and that incessant whining will hinder your climb.

The roads were clear Wednesday night, according to The Pony. He said the lettered county highway and the numbered highway were completely clear. He and Hick made a trip to town to get something for my birthday. Uh huh. Ol' Val has made it another year! It wasn't so much what Hick and The Pony brought me as what they LEFT for me.

Imagine our surprise later Wednesday evening when I got the snow-day text! What a way to go out in a blaze of surprise days off and a lengthened school year!

Thursday morning dawned cold and bright. By 10:00 a.m., the sun had melted the snow from the yard. I decided to make a trip to town. Which is when I found out that Hick is the gift that keeps on giving.

Tra-la-la...Val nearly skipped to the garage, an unexpected day off ahead of her, footloose and fancy free. As I stepped my foot onto T-Hoe's running board, it slipped right back off! A couple inches of slush were clinging there, preventing my ascent. I scraped and scraped with my shoe sole. The long scraper/brush was in T-Hoe's rear, and a puddle of ice was waiting for my not-Hamill, not-Harding, not-even-Kerrigan feet to set foot on it. No sirree, Bob! Val was not falling for that one.

Once the running board was sufficiently tractioned, I stepped up and, with my usual into-the-seat motion, attempted to deposit my ample buttocks onto the cold, cold leather of T-Hoe's driver's seat.


My back was wrenched tighter than the Operation! guy's ankle! The seat was at the maximum forward position. Twiggy herself could not have squoze in there in a single motion. Hick had left the driver's seat on his setting. He gets in on my setting, and hits his, which pulls that seat forward until he can drive it with his belly. I'm surprise he doesn't wear a hole in his shirt when he makes a turn.

Out I went. Back down to the cold concrete floor of the garage. I pushed the "1" setting on the door control, and the seat went back to my position.

It really shouldn't be so hard to make a trip to town on your second-and-a-half snow day of the week.

Don't think you're getting out of here without a report on Friday's misfortune...

Friday, February 12, 2016

ACK! Woe Began.

Woe was Val on Wednesday. Her cheese-cutting-faux-pas ways followed her to midweek.

Off to school we went Wednesday morning. The Pony was having practice for his academic team after school, then meeting with a teacher-sponsored group from 5:30 to 8:00 to discuss a new venture involving scientific inventions. Or so we thought.

During lunch at 10:53, I found out that school was dismissing at 12:30 due to impending snow. Unfortunately, the pupil body was also informed at that time, which stirred them up like yellowjackets in a nest mowed over by Hick Thevictorian. Lucky for Val, she had plan time next, so she was not responsible for calming the freshly-caffeinated hordes until ten minutes before dismissal. The snow arrived at 11:35 and had coated the roads by the time The Pony and I started home. Well...home by way of two banks.

As Even Steven would have it, no fewer than five buses pulled out in front of us at various points of our journey. It is only five miles, people, from school to that bank. Note to little kids riding buses: "When the bus stops, you should stand up and walk forward and climb down the steps." Uh huh. Because we spent an inordinate amount of time stationary behind stopped buses with no sign of activity. I could have hummed that Jeopardy song five times over before any urchins emerged. Those five miles took us 25 minutes!

Just as I parked T-Hoe on the bank lot, two other vehicles entered. "Oh, no, Pony! They're going to beat me to the tellers! And they probably have some lengthy business to conduct. We'll never get home!"

I grabbed my account folder and my purse, and rushed inside. Rushed as fast as Val on sore knees on slippery snow in a concrete parking lot can rush up a little untreated concrete ramp with no rail at the back entrance of the bank. Darn that SUV that parked right beside the door after backing into a handicap spot! An old lady darted inside just ahead of me. Had I been a bit more agile, and she less spry, I might have grabbed the belt of her coat and held her back. But alas, Val was unable to belt the old handicapped lady.

Ack! Woe began at 12:55. Three tellers were working. Let's rephrase that. Three tellers were at their stations. One was working. The one closest to the door greeted me and said the others would be with me in a minute. I stood in front of the middle one. The old handicapped lady (without even a cane to show her handicappedness) was detailing a time-consuming problem to the teller on the other end. DoorTeller asked me if I was just dropping something off.

"No. I'm here to close an account and withdraw the money." Which probably should have been said in the opposite order, but Val is no banker.

More time elapsed. MidTeller was computing and papershuffling. DoorTeller asked if I was also opening an account. She intimated that HORROR OF HORRORS THE AccOpe FROM ONE YEAR AGO might be able to help me, and gestured toward her desk.

"No, I'm only closing. Not opening."

After 10 minutes, MidTeller said she could help me now. I explained my situation, and handed her the account-opening form with our account number on top. MidTeller looked to DoorTeller. Who promptly put on her coat and said she'd be back later. MidTeller started talking to herself softly. I explained that Nikki from the main branch has said that everything they needed was in the computer file.


AccOpe came sidling from her desk across the lobby and scooted into MidTeller's booth from behind and WHISPERED (too loudly) "I told her yesterday that she would have to contact Nikki, because Nikki is the one that's handling it." AccOpe looked over at me through the money-shoving gap and said, accusatorily, "Did you call Nikki?"

Val was having none of that! She pulled the note card out of her folder, the note card upon which she had taken notes when talking to Nikki.

"Yes. And here's what Nikki said: 'I am so sorry you had to make an extra phone call. I put a letter in the file that says the account is unrestricted as of February 4th, per an email from NAME REDACTED at Local Land and Title Company. Anybody would have been able to see it. Either you or your sister, Sis, should be able to close the account and take out the money, since you are both owners of the account. You can do that at any of our branches.' If I had my phone in here, I would call Nikki and hand the phone to you."

AccOpe looked suitably embarrassed at the apology from Nikki about her mishandling of the initial phone call. Then she looked bent on revenge. She leaned over MidTeller and pointed at the screen. Whispered some more. Not loud enough. But MidTeller had a good set of lungs. "It says UNrestricted!" Heh, heh. AccOpe slunk off with her tail between her legs, with a look like "Nevermind" on her face.

By now it was 1:15. The snow continued to pour down outside, and Val with many a mile to go before she napped. MidTeller said, "I need to go get approval from my supervisor." The not-heaven you say! I was trying to close an account and get my money back, not make a deal on a new car.

MidTeller came back five minutes later, with a song and dance about how her supervisor was gone for now. Gone for the rest of the day, in fact. How conveeeeeenient! A line had started to form, the old handicapped lady having given way to a middle-aged man getting money to buy his sister a car, and two very-far-Backroadsians smelling of smoke chewing the fat behind me. I was not sure what my response would be.

So I kind of mumbled, "I don't know what I can do about THAT."

MidTeller stared at her computer screen awhile. Typed up some stuff. Stared some more. Typed some more. I didn't think we were getting anywhere. I told her, "I can go get my phone and call Nikki." I kind of liked drawing her like a gun, like Kim Darby as Mattie Ross of near Dardanelle in Yell County drew the name of her lawyer, J. Noble Daggett, when talking to Strother Martin as Colonel Stonehill the horse trader in the original True Grit.

"I can call Nikki if I need to," said MidTeller, making no move to call Nikki. "Normally people have a letter from the title company. I need to follow my protocol to close the account." Even though the necessary information was in the account file. After some more fiddling, she went to interrupt the car-buying brother's teller. "I might need you to get some money out of the safe." MIGHT?

More fiddling. More typing. Finally Mid-Teller pushed a paper at me. I wasn't sure what was going on, because it looked like a check, but I had told her initially that I wanted cash, because I was dividing it with my sister. Eventually she told me to sign it. Then when I asked if my own bank was going to put a hold on it, like they do with even a cashier's check, which I think is probably against banking regulations, MidTeller said I could cash it right there. Well, why didn't she say so!

I finally got my money, with MidTeller counting it five times, then counting it LOUDLY to me, thus announcing to the smoky woodsmen who had taken car-buying brother's place, and the self-important cell phone man behind me calling about his kids getting out of school early to an ex-wife or new wife (probably the latter, because he said 'I love you' at the end) that Val was going to be loaded walking out that door. After 30 minutes standing in line being insulted trying to get her money back from the hostage-holding bank.

You know what? Sis and I made 33 cents on that account. SOMEbody's gonna get an extra penny...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Year and Five Days Late, and 3500 Dollars Short

Tuesday. Ahh...Tuesday, of this ill-fated cheese-cutting faux pas week.

Tuesday was the day I was meeting my sister the ex-mayor's wife to storm the bank and liberate four figures worth of our mom's estate. The money that the title company made us put in an untouchable account until one year passed since Mom's passing. Just in case any claims were levied against her estate. Yeah. We never heard of such a thing, either, until we went to sell her house, which was transfer-on-death and not even in probate. Anyhoo...

The actual date of February 4 was not good for me, nor the 5th or the 8th. So we settled upon Tuesday the 9th. I arranged a personal day to take care of banking business. Sis called the title company to see what we needed to get our hot little hands on that cold hard cash. And that was the end of the planning.

I was supposed to contact Sis Monday evening to set the meeting time. But Hick hung up the phone just as The Pony and I entered the homestead, saying that Sis would not be able to make it. "Your sister says she knows you took off tomorrow, but Babe is very sick, and they're at the ER waiting for an ambulance to take her to Children's." Babe being the just-turned-two-year-old daughter of Sis's daughter. [Who is currently in Children's Hospital with a tube in her lung, trying to recover from pneumonia]

Still, I had the day off Tuesday to deal with the estate issue myself. To see if I could get the WHOLE THING from the bank, and give Sis her share later. I puttered around Monday night. "I don't have school tomorrow, Pony. We can stop for a donut if you want on the way to school. Then I'll do my banking as I come back to pick you up."

Tuesday morning, I found out after showering and packing The Pony's lunch that school was canceled! A SNOW DAY! A day off on my day off! After all that planning and lesson rearranging. Those dadgum meteorologists are overpaid clowns.

But that's not the worst part, getting up and ready at 4:50 a.m. and then having a day off on my day off.

I got out my folder from when we opened the account with part of Mom's money. I called the number on the business card the Account-Opener gave us. I asked for her. I explained the situation. Told her that Sis said the title company lady had called the courthouse, that no issue had come up, and that she told Sis she was calling the bank to let them know. I gave the AccOpe the account number. She said that I needed to call Nikki at the main branch. That Nikki was handling it, and that she would know what we needed. Then she asked if I had a letter from the title company. No. The title company lady said everything was good to go.

So I called Nikki and told her that AccOpe had asked me for a letter from the title company, and told me to call her. Nikki said, "I am so sorry you had to make an extra phone call. I put a letter in the file that says the account is unrestricted as of February 4th, per an email from NAME REDACTED at Local Land and Title Company. Anybody would have been able to see it. Either you or your sister, Sis, should be able to close the account and take out the money, since you are both owners of the account. You can do that at any of our branches."

With the wind chill at 5 degrees, I decided not to venture out on my double day off, but to wait until Wednesday. Since I wouldn't be meeting Sis, and since I knew exactly what to do, I would have time after school to go to the nearest branch of that bank and close the account.

Sounds deceptively simple at this point, huh?

Yep. Wait until you hear about Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Winging It (NOT!)

Yes, I knew the week was off to a bad start with my cutting-the-cheese faux pas on Sunday.

Then on Monday, I had a very busy day at school, what with duty before and after, and getting my room ready for a sub Tuesday, and taking The Pony to an appointment at 5:00, knowing we would not be home until 7:00.

I was really tired, and the temperature was in the low 20s. While I waited in T-Hoe for The Pony to emerge, I covered myself with my parking-lot-duty coat. It's SO warm. Purple with quilted tiny squares. With a hood lined with really soft gray stuff. I put it over me, the hood material by my chin. So toasty, what with the heated leather seats still emanating warmth like coals beneath my butt. BUT I WAS AFRAID TO FALL ASLEEP! What if two young policemen came and tapped on my window, and took my license with that really REALLY bad picture of me, and then asked me to step out of T-Hoe into the freezing cold? I admit that I surreptitiously stole about two winks while the snow showers swirled in the dusk and the radio played some Gordon Lightfoot on the Sirius XM 70s station. Every highway seems to slip away on you...

Lucky for me, I didn't have to cook supper. The Pony wanted to drive through Rally's, which is made for driving through. I was planning on some delectable chicken wings left over from Hick's Super Bowl snacks. And Hick had the Li'l Smokies in BBQ sauce left over, and who knows what else he'd put away after his feast.

Dang! The Pony seemed to be taking longer than usual. I really had to pee. Never mind that I went right before we left school. We'd already been to the post office to mail Genius's Valentine, and to a convenience store for gas, and to the bank for the weekly cash allowance for Hick, because it was on the way. There's a bathroom in the hallway of the office where The Pony goes. Not goes to the bathroom! Goes for his appointment. But he said the waiting area has been crowded with little kids lately. I was not going in there to wade through unchecked pre-tweens.

At last The Pony came out, taking his own sweet time texting across the parking lot. Then we hit Rally's for a cheeseburger and a funnel cake. They don't have a public restroom, you know. So I headed for Sonic. Not to buy anything. Just to use their outside bathroom. I've spent many a penny on their outrageously-priced Route 44's over the years. They owe me a pee, in my opinion. I parked at the end, and found their women's room pleasantly warm, with a little heater in the wall. The people in the black pickup truck silently judging me didn't even matter.

We made it home through the showering snow by 7:00. The Pony was sated. I rummaged around in Frig II looking for those wings. Hmph! Not a wing to be found! I asked Hick if he'd seen them. Oh. He ate them all ON SUPER BOWL SUNDAY! Hick ate ten wings. Not that ten wings is a Takeru-Kobayashi-size training meal. But Hick had all that other food on Super Bowl night! The Li'l Smokies, and pepper-and-garlic steak fries (half of a half of a bag), Ruffles and Hidden Valley Ranch dip, restaurant-style tortilla chips and queso dip, sugar-free sugar cookies, and sugar-free oatmeal cookies. They were the BIG wings, too. The Tyson Anytizer bone-in wings. Big strong wings, from chickens that might have been part pterodactyl, chickens able to fly like transport planes carrying heavy equipment, over the ocean.


Just what I wanted to do, make my own meal when I got home at 7:00 p.m. I set to work on some super nachos. Let the record show that it took 20 minutes. Maybe 30. Because Hick wanted to chat while sitting in his La-Z-Boy with me in the kitchen cutting up Saturday's leftover boneless skinless chicken breast for nacho topping.

Yeah. Wait until you hear about Tuesday.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Guess Which Tool in the Shed Val Would Be

I should have known how this week would go when I couldn't cut the cheese on Sunday.

I only wanted a couple of thin slices off one-fourth of a two-pound block of sharp cheddar. To go on my Roasted Garlic Triscuits, you know. I would not be partaking of Hick's Super Bowl snacks of wings, Li'l Smokies in BBQ sauce, pepper-and-garlic steak fries, Ruffles and Hidden Valley Ranch dip, restaurant-style tortilla chips and queso dip, sugar-free sugar cookies (yeah, I thought the same thing), and sugar-free oatmeal cookies. Hick has cut back too, you know. Didn't want our usual Super Bowl snacks of potato skins and mozzarella sticks and Velveeta/salsa/sausage dip.

Okay. I admit to three chicken wings. Woman does not live by Triscuits and cheddar alone, you know. Gotta have some protein.

That darn cheese was not cooperating! I know sharp cheddar is firmer than Velveeta. But this cheese acted like it still had the wrapper on it. That paring knife was going nowhere. I broke one of them previously, snapped the handle right off, trying to cut the cheese. So I pulled it back, looking around for the giant butcher knife (contrary to popular opinion, not used by Val to cut the tails off of visually-challenged mice).

It's ironic, (no?) that the wife of a man who runs a knife-making factory doesn't have a sharp knife in the house? That's like a cobbler whose children go barefoot. Like a cattle rancher whose children are vegetarians. Like a woman practicing the world's oldest profession whose children are not bast--. Okay. So Hick's kids are not knives, but they're plenty sharp. Unlike Hick's wife.

I glared at that uncooperative kitchen tool. Whoopsie!

I had been using the wrong side of the knife.

Never mind.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Pony's Sliced Package

Just in case you were wondering...The Pony's grocery packaging selection streak remains alive.

Uh huh. That's not a decorative crescent moon on the back of these Triscuits, but rather a significant slice from the stock boy's box-cutter. Let the record show that it was a case of no harm, no foul, because the bag inside containing the Triscuits was not damaged. That I know of. Because I only ate four before I figured out that they were not my coveted Roasted Garlic Triscuits, but instead Rosemary & Olive Oil Triscuits, an abomination to Triscuithood. Actually, I ate three before I knew, but then, why let a Triscuit already out of the box go to waste, even though you find it abhorrent and repulsive?

I hope the chickens like Rosemary & Olive Oil.

Sorry if the title tricked you. All of you cruising past the scene of this accident, wondering how many stitches were needed to repair The Pony's package. There is no truth to the rumor that Val was found holding the contents in the middle of Little Caesar's.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Honk if You Think Hick Was Violated!

It was a simple exchange, really. A man who loves his wife sent her a text after school. And a wife who loves her husband replied. The unaltered exchange follows:

"Had an interesting lunch taking my nap in the park and the cops came and said I was suspicious sleeping in my car some called them I thought parks were public places"

"You are a bum! I will not bail you out. Did they have to call work to verify that you're not a creepy vagrant?"

"No. They checked my licence atold them I knew the chief"

"You are the story gift that keeps on giving!" Let the record show (but Hick doesn't need to know) that this part was sent from the toilet of the faculty women's restroom while I was running copies.


Oh, dear. How I wish I had my mom to call and tell this tale to! She would have laughed until she cried. I can imagine it now, "Val! Stop! You've got me tickled! I can't breathe!" In fact, I sat in the garage for 10 minutes, laughing until I was out of breath, as Hick told me the details.

Ring! Ring!

"Hello..." Said kind of in the way Jerry said it to Newman, because Hick always calls at the most inopportune times.

"Are you home?"

"I'm sitting in the garage under my new metal roof that blocks my radio signal."

"Your new GREEN metal roof that you love."

"If you say so. Did you get arrested?"

"No! But they asked for my driver's license. I can't believe you can't even sit in a park anymore."

"Were you parked right, in the parking lot?"

"Yes. I was leaned back in my seat, taking my nap. I had my cell phone set for 12:23, so I could wake up and get back to work by 12:30. I wasn't really asleep. I heard a car pull in, and a door close. I looked out the window, and a cop was right there!"

"Did he tap on the window?"

"No. But he was getting ready to. The other one was just getting out of the police car. I rolled the window down. He said, 'We got a call that said a suspicious man was at the park, sleeping in his car.' I told him, 'I come here all the time to eat my lunch, and then I have a nap.' He said, 'Yeah, they said you were here yesterday, too.' But I wasn't there yesterday. I went to the restaurant yesterday."

"Who called to complain about you?"

"I don't know. I said, 'There's a white car down by the caboose. Why don't you go check on them?' And he said, 'They didn't complain about that white car. They complained about you. Can I see your license?' So I handed it to him, and he said, 'Can you take it out?' So I took it out of the plastic, and he took it over to the patrol car and I heard him running my license number, and it came back with no warrants and no arrests. Then he gave it back to me and asked me if I would step out of the car."

"Why would they want you out of the car? They had no reason for that. What were they trying to do, see if you had your pants down?"

"Val! I don't know why. Maybe to see if I could walk. If I was drunk. I asked him what the problem was. 'Am I not allowed to park in the park? Other cars do. People walk. People run through here. Am I doing something wrong?' And he said, 'Well, somebody called and complained that you looked suspicious. And there are all those kids over there at recess.'"

"Kids? Were you in a playground?"

"No! I was parked by the picnic tables, except I ate my lunch in the car, not at a table. I could see them coming after me if I was sleeping on top of a picnic table. But I've seen people do that, too. The boxes from the two hot dogs and the bag from the chips I picked up at the convenience store for my lunch were laying right there on the car seat. And those kids playing had to be as far away as from our front door to the gravel road. [let the record show that is 1/10 of a mile] I was nowhere near any kids."

"I don't think they can do that. Imagine the fit some people would throw if they were sitting in a park and had their ID run and were asked to get out of their car."

"I know. I didn't mind giving them my ID. When I asked if I was doing anything wrong, the guy said, 'Well, it IS a public park.' I told him, 'I work right over there at [REDACTED]. I know the police chief and all those guys. I deal with them for work.' It was two new guys I'd never seen. Young guys. I think one was in training. I think I'll go down to the police station next week, and say, 'Hey, Chief, am I not allowed to sleep in the park anymore?' I've been doing that for 20 years! I got there about 11:45, and didn't lean back for my nap until five or ten after. It's not like I'd been sleeping there overnight."

"I don't think they can take your license like that and ask you to get out of the car without a reason. You weren't matching a description of a robber or a murderer. The complainer only said you were sleeping and suspicious."

"Yeah. All they really had to do was tap on my window and say someone called them and they were checking to see if I was okay. Then if they smelled anything, they could have asked me to get out, or searched the car. But all I was doing was sleeping in my car that had been there for a half-hour, parked in the parking lot of a public park! I think next week I'll make myself a big ol' sign to put on top of my car when I park, that says 'I'm eating my lunch and taking a nap!'"

Val is not a politically-motivated person, even though some might want to pin a label on her lapel because she lives in the country and has guns in her house. But it seems to me that Hick's 4th Amendment rights were violated. What has this country come to, when a man can't even sleep in a public park??? (Hick seems to think that's the most normal thing in the world, but I'm of the opinion that he might just get his window broken and his head bashed in before his slumber is done).

It's not like Hick was parked in a car on a private road by somebody's mailbox, taking a whiz in plain view. Or driving an unmarked truck through somebody's yard, picking up parts of their metal roof. Or getting out of an unmarked truck and tromping across somebody's front porch. Yes, those activities are suspicious. But did Val call the police? No. Did Val brandish a gun? No.

Would you have taken offense to this inquisition? I'm not asking if you would have complied. Of course you would have complied, because you had nothing to hide. But does it seem a bit unlawful? Must we all walk around, ever-vigilant, with hands in the air, clutching our IDs for easy perusal should someone complain that we look suspicious?

What say you?