Monday, August 20, 2018

Quite Possibly the Best Potential Case of Irony EVER, Except Val Would Not Have Been Around to Tell the Tale

Saturday, on the way home from town, Hick sent me a text:

"Are you alive haven't heard from you"

Of course I called to chew him out. That's no way for a Sweet Baboo to greet his lady. I told him I was driving home, that I'd been too busy calling the insurance company to ask about his current sales. 

At 1:15, I passed a dark colored SUV coming out our gravel road as I was headed in. I rarely look at people behind the wheel. While I did not recognize this particular car, there are several dark SUVs out here. This one was driving slowly, but not creepy-slow, so I figured it was not some weirdo using our self-paid-for, Hick-maintained road as a short cut. I gave that car a two-fingered greeting as I drove by. Just being neighborly.

I parked T-Hoe in the garage, and was setting my 44 oz Diet Coke on the console for easy retrieval after I unloaded three grocery bags from the back. The wild baying of Thevictorian hounds caught my attention. What in the Not-Heaven? I supposed Juno was extra-irritated with Copper Jack. He waits for me at the back of the garage until I close the door, then comes around for a squatter's share of cat kibble. They were yapping crazier than normal.

I glanced in T-Hoe's rearview mirror, expecting to see Copper Jack sidling away, deferring to Juno. What I saw instead was the grill and two front tires of a charcoal gray SUV blocking my escape! Uh huh. Parked right behind my garage bay. I was trapped! Trapped like a rat in a cage!

Stupid me got out and walked back, one eyebrow raised, in the manner I used to silently question the intentions of non-compliant students. My protectors, the watchdogs, raising the alarm while I had sat unawares in the garage, were busy peeing on the passenger-side front tire of that charcoal gray SUV. And a man was walking towards me!

Let the record show that there was a time, in Val's semi-misspent youth, when she would have no qualms about confronting such an intruder. In her prime, fit from her daily 5-mile run, spry on youthful knees, ready to stomp an instep, gouge out eyes, shove a nasal bone into a brain with the heel of her hand...or take flight. That time has passed. I was wary, standing still inside the edge of the garage.

The visitor acted like he belonged. He was late 40s/early 50s, with curly gray hair sticking out from under a black cap, wearing jeans shorts with white crew socks and work boots. "Is Hick around?"

Stupid me said, "No."

"I saw you as I was leaving, and came to see if Hick was with you."

"No...he's at his Storage Unit Store for about another hour. At the flea market."

"Flea market?"

"Yeah. On the hill. As you're going into town. By the feed store."

"I guess he's retired now."


"Well, that gives him something to do."

"Uh huh. And keeps him out of my hair. He makes pretty good money. He sells guns there pretty often."

"Yeah. It's legal. They sell them down at the auction I go to. I've seen him there a couple times. Hick used to have some parts that I'm looking for. So I stopped to see if he still had them."

"I don't know. He's up at his store." Since Visitor didn't seem to have a clue where I was talking about, I gave him the basic directions. To drive to town, and turn right at the top of the hill. "Hick's store is on the right side, pretty close to the entrance. Maybe 10 or 15 down the row."

The minute he got in his truck, I went back in the garage and called Hick.

"There was a guy here when I got out of the car. Had me blocked in the garage. He acted like he knows you. I gave him directions to your store. He's wearing a black cap, jeans shorts, white crew socks, and work boots." Hick said he'd be looking for him.

As I unloaded T-Hoe, I started regretting that I'd given that dude directions right to Hick's unit. (Heh, heh, the thought of sending a man to Hick's unit makes my 13-year-old self snicker.) I sat down in the La-Z-Boy, still a little shaky. I guess Visitor wasn't a process server (they can be tricky tricksters, you know), unless Hick's been up to something criminal. The only crime I can think of is a crime of fashion. I hope Visitor wasn't an assassin! Hick has been messing in back-creek neighbor Bev's feud with Crazy Stick Road Dude again.

I sent The Pony a text:

"Is it irony if Dad sends me a text, 'Are you alive, haven't heard from you,' and THEN comes home to find me murdered in the garage?"


"Okay. I pulled in the garage and heard the dogs going crazIER, and in my mirror saw the front end of a gray SUV blocking my exit. Like an idiot, I got out, and the dang dogs were peeing on the tires while the guy walked toward me."

"That does not sound good?"

"He asked if Dad was home, and like a fool I said NO."

"What was it about?"

"He chatted a while, not revealing his identity, then I told him where to find Dad at his store."


"Then I worried if I was sending a hit man to kill Dad! Anyhoo...I called Dad to warn him with a description. He just sent me a text. It was...



"That's exactly how I replied to Dad. It's been 15 years. I'm not sure I knew what that guy looked like when he lived here!"

Anyhoo...according to Hick, he was on the lookout for the guy I described, and saw him walking up. Hick mentioned that I'd called to say he'd had been at the house, and was coming by, and Visitor said, 'I wasn't over there!' So Hick said, "Yeah, I woulda thought she'd know YOU." Only to have the REAL Visitor show up a few minutes later.

Hick had mistaken our current SIDE NEIGHBOR, Copper Jack's human daddy, for Visitor. Because they were dressed the same way!

That perhaps tells you more than you need to know about customs around here.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Tommy Has a Forking Job!

Things seemed to have been going okay for our neighbor Tommy for a while. Hick had put quite a bit of time into trying to help him find a job last year. We were able to provide him with a car. Tommy found work at the local rat poison factory, but it only lasted a couple weeks. On his own, he managed to snag a job at the Space Museum, filing things and giving tours. However...a couple months ago, Hick heard from his friend/our neighbor Buddy that Tommy had lost his job.

"He said he only has $270 left, and he doesn't know what he'll do when that runs out."

As you might imagine, we've been worried about Tommy. But, as Hick said, "It's on him now. He's got to find a way to survive. He done pretty good on his own for a while."

Last week, Hick was working over at his Freight Container Garage when Tommy stopped by. "He came to ask if I had a pair of work gloves, like I gave him when he was cutting down trees on his land. So I gave him three pairs. He said he got a job at the produce place. Remember, how I said they're always hiring, and Tommy didn't think he could do labor like that? Tommy said he's sorry for not giving us any more payments on the car, but I told him, 'That's okay. We said you can pay us back when you're able.' He said he's been working for six weeks, driving a forklift!"

Tommy told Hick, "I work with ex-cons and Mexicans. There are a lot of people that come and go there. They just fired an ex-con last week. A lot of women come and go. Maybe I can find myself a girlfriend! One gal likes me, but then I found out the ex-con that got fired was her boyfriend! She still likes, me, though. And another one kind of likes me, too."

I told Hick that compared to their other employee choices, the women who work there probably think Tommy is quite a catch. No ex-wives. No kids. He owns his own home, plus acreage. He has a car that runs.

Hick added, "And he isn't an ex-con or a Mexican." Not that Hick was being snobby or racist. Only meaning that Tommy won't get hauled back to jail, and that he can communicate with them in English.

"Tommy said he worked 69 hours the first week. He gets $8.00 an hour, time-and-a-half over 40 hours. It blows my mind that he's driving a forklift. I asked if he had training, and he said they took them in a room for a video. So I asked him how to get on a forklift. He knew about the 3-point stance, which is what OSHA wants. So I guess he paid attention to the training."

"That doesn't surprise me. I think Tommy is kind of like The Pony. He has no trouble remembering FACTS, it's just the common sense that seems hard."

I see Tommy whizzing by in his car every day, like he has someplace to be at a certain time. So I guess everything is still okay on the job front. One less person for me to worry about.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Hick Finding Coins? That's NonCENTS!

SUNDAY, August 12th, I decided to get my magical elixir at Orb K instead of The Gas Station Chicken Store. I wanted my scratchers from Orb K, so I cut out a stop. You know, because I have such a busy schedule. Big mistake on the soda front. Too much foam, and tasted flat. But I found a penny!

I was vacillating on the parking space. Around at the end of the store, the farthest space was taken. The nearest space was taken. Leaving four between them. At the last minute, I veered into the third of the six spaces. Good thing I'm a bad parker, hogging to the right to leave room for T-Hoe's driver door to open all the way, lest somebody dare to park beside me. Had I parked like a civilized driver, I might not have seen this gem hiding in the shadows.

I was meant to park there, I suppose, to harvest this 1993 face up penny.

TUESDAY, August 14, I returned to Orb K to cash in a $25 winner and get more tickets. You can bet I was scoping out the grounds for pennies. None to be found. The kid ahead of me, looking like he'd just come from football practice, all sweaty, buying a Polar Pop...even fumbled his change out of that slide-pool from the register, but he caught every cent.

Lucky for me, I was paying attention on the way out, and found

a donation from Even Steven next to the donut case by the door. I got my pictures before anyone dared disturb me by ingress or egress.

It was a face-up 1999 Abe Lincoln, lying among the door detritus.


THURSDAY, August 16th, I observed a penny while waiting in line at the Backroads Casey's.

You can't imagine how many backflips my heart did, worrying that this gal and her companion would see it and pick it up as they left. OR step on it and kick it so that I had to scurry to make it mine!

This was a 2000, face down. I grabbed it after that pair left, and while the clerk was scanning my winners.

Oh, yeah. On MONDAY, August 13th, Hick found THIS over in front of the BARn.

I don't dare claim it, because it was meant for Hick. So it won't be counted in my running total below. As Hick said, "It was probably mine, anyway, out of my pocket."

For 2018: Pennies  # 81, 82, 83
For 2018: Dimes  still at # 13.
For 2018: Nickels still at # 4.

Since 2017 (the beginning), this was Penny # 159, 160, 161.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Dime # 19.
Since 2017 (the beginning), this is still Nickel # 4.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Val's Information Is Secure. Especially From Herself.

Wednesday morning, I checked my cell phone, and saw that Hick had left me a text AND a voicemail. That's unusual, because if he tries to call and can't reach me, he just dials the house phone. Anyhoo...the text was unremarkable.

"I'm at Barber Shop"

That meant Hick would be out of my hair for a couple hours, minimum. More, if there was good gossip, or if two Baby Boomers got in a fistfight on the parking lot again.

I tried to listen to the voicemail, but it wanted a passcode. This happens EVERY TIME I try to hear a voicemail. I tried numbers that I use for stuff like that. Nope. No option to reset, or retrieve my passcode. I must have tried 10 times to get into that voicemail throughout the day. I asked Hick what it was, but he said,

"I didn't send you no voicemail."

"Oh. I guess you butt-dialed me while at the barbershop. Maybe it's a bunch of old men gossiping while they get their bald heads shined."

Normally, I would simply let it go. Forget about that voicemail. Except I couldn't, because it wouldn't get off my phone screen. Oh, once I tried to get in, and was denied, it was gone up to a little icon at the top. But every time I checked my phone again, it was a banner across the face. Making me think I had an email or a text, when it was the same dang voicemail that Hick didn't send. I was NOT prepared to go through life with that undeletable voicemail haunting me.

I sent The Pony a text, but he ridiculed me, saying that he never heard of any voicemail that needs a secret code to get into. "You just tap it, and it takes you to play the voicemail." Huh. Not on Genius's hand-me-down phone, it doesn't. Hick said to enter "7". "That deletes it. Just punch in "7" when the instructions start." Well. On my phone, "7" is an invalid passcode. Not an option to delete.

Hick had decreed a surprise trip to our new favorite casino that afternoon, and I was a captive passenger in A-Cad's shotgun seat. We were on the way home, stopped at a Goodwill, when I started fiddling with that voicemail again. I tried a selection of numbers I might ever have used as a passcode, and ONE OF THEM LET ME IN!!! Here's the voicemail, best I can remember.

"Hello. This is [woman's name] a bus driver from the school. I will be picking up William and Kirsten tomorrow morning at 6:33 on the sidewalk between the McDonald's and the motel. I hope I have the right person. See you then!"

Well. I guess SOMEBODY was late for school on Thursday. Because I have no idea who that was, or even if that school was in Missouri. It was not our area code, and I didn't recognize the number or the voice or the bus driver's name. Of course my phone would not show me the number that call originated from, only all the times I had made an outgoing call to the voice mail.

"I don't know if I should do anything. It's not like I can find out who, and call them back, and tell them it was the wrong number. It said "Dad" on the voicemail. That's why I asked if you sent it."

"Now why would it say "Dad" on your phone? It wasn't from ME. It wouldn't say "Dad", it would have my name."

"It most certainly WOULD say "Dad", because that's how you're listed on my phone."

"No, I'm not."

"Yes! Surely you don't think I set up this cell phone by myself! GENIUS did it, like he's done ALL my phones that used to be his. And every time, he lists you as "Dad" because that's what you are to HIM." I had to show Hick the screen, with his name as "Dad', while he was sweaving at 70 mph.

I don't know what's going on with this dang phone. I doubt that bus driver was a scammer, phishing with another number to leave a message about student pickup. And another thing, about this passcode...

When I was still working, our new technology guy recommended a password saver to the entire faculty. He said it was one he used for all his passwords! Pardon me, but my mind heard that REEEE of a needle on a phonograph record. Uh huh. A clash of two technologies.

We are cautioned NOT to write down our passwords! Not to leave them near the keyboard. On the off chance that a burglar might break into our house and hack our computer? Yet this supposed AUTHORITY on technology was telling us to save all our passwords in the same place ON THE INTERNET!!! That would be akin to having SATAN watch over a SOUL! Asking an ALLIGATOR to babysit an INFANT! Having HICK hold onto your HOT DOGS for safekeeping!

Don't even get me started on that cell phone number keypad that disappears when the screen goes black as you're trying to navigate through an automated phone system.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Hick Is Stealing Even Steven Away From Me

I fear that Hick has been alienating Even Steven's affection for me! Judge for yourself.

On the way home from Oklahoma, we stopped at a rest area between Springfield and Rolla. When I came out of area...I saw Hick standing in front of a vending machine. He was getting a bottle of Diet Coke. I saw him put in his money and push the button. I heard the bottle thump as it fell. Yet when Hick reached into the trough for his soda, nothing was there!

"Huh!" said Hick.

"I guess it got stuck up inside. Or landed on one that was already stuck up inside."

Hick raised his arms and put his palms on the machine and started rocking it. Then some people came in, and I told him to stop. Witnesses! Besides, if Hick turned it over on himself, I didn't want to drive home from there.

"Well, crap! I want my soda! I paid two dollars for it!"

"You might as well get something out of the Pepsi machine. Because if you put more money in the Coke machine, the next bottle will probably be blocked by the one that's stuck."

"Yeah. Or else the next person will get TWO!"

Hick moved to the other machine and got a Diet Pepsi without incident. Then he went to the snack machine, put in his money, and pushed the numbers for a Milky Way. The spiral thingy turned until the Milky Way was poised on the edge...THEN STOPPED!

Hick was about to have a conniption. He started rocking THAT machine.

"Don't! Rocking it won't make the spiral turn--"

Just then, the spiral started turning again. And kept turning. Hick's Milky Way fell out, and the one behind it, too!"

"I guess that makes up for your soda."

Yes, either Even Steven is now sweet on Hick, or Even Steven is killing him softly (and deliciously) with an overdose of sugar, and a dearth of sugar-free beverages.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Lightning Strikes Val TWICE!

We left Norman about an hour later than usual. No free breakfast at THIS free hotel. Hick said we'd stop up the road a bit, and have a Sausage Egg McMuffin. Let the record show that it's our standard breakfast on the way TO Oklahoma, about 90 minutes into our trip. So I was fine with such a meal to start the drive home, to be eaten in the car to save time.

Hick has tried forever to get the special McMuffin deal, as seen advertised on billboards along the way. However, until this very trip, he kept coming up with the regular charges, paying around $7 for two McMuffins. Uh huh. The TRICK, he discovered, is to say, "I'd like the McMuffin deal, the two-for-whatever." As he says, it's funny how you can get a McMuffin with SAUSAGE, egg, and cheese for half the price of a McMuffin with Canadian Bacon, egg, and cheese. I told him that McDonald's is probably getting a kickback for using sausage that farmers are paid by the government not to raise.

Anyhoo...I was feeling a bit under-the-weather, a pounding headache going on its 7th hour, with nausea, probably due to the headache. We tooled along Hick's new path for 30 minutes until we hit the main highway, passing McDonald's after McDonald's on this business route. By the time we got to Hick's designated McDonald's, it was 10:20 a.m.

"I guess they'll still be serving breakfast?"

"Yeah. I think  McDonald's serves breakfast all day now."

We parked and scurried inside at the truck stop we use as our last bathroom break on the way out to visit The Pony, and the first one on the way home. Hick got in line at the McDonald's inside. I started out, but a close-parker had rendered my door to A-Cad virtually useless. So I went back in to wait for Hick. Of course there was a problem, and our on-the-go breakfast took 25 minutes to procure.

"They gave me a free soda!" said Hick. Not that he offered me a drink. And also said the wait was for eggs. Seriously? Were they waiting for the chicks to hatch, grow up, and then LAY the eggs? Because I'm pretty sure a truck stop McDonald's should be sure to have eggs ready during the regular breakfast hours.

Anyhoo...we got back on the highway, seven-and-a-half hours still to go, and I unwrapped Hick's long-awaited Sausage Egg McMuffin. While he was chowing down, I unwrapped my own. Huh. It was burnt to a crisp! I do mean crisp. I don't know how you can make an English muffin both charred and crunchy, yet too tough to bite. It defied basic physics.

Biting into that Sausage Egg McMuffin was like trying to bite through a double layer of a butcher's leather apron. You'd think you had a bite, but then the egg and sausage would skitter out the back side, and you'd be left with your teeth unable to penetrate the muffin. It would have been easier for a toothless old cowboy to tear off a hunk of a saddlebag flap. AND, I could have started up a barbecue grill with my crusty black muffin, it having more charcoal in it than a bag of Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes.

By now we were 20 miles up the road, and Hick had finished his own breakfast. He DID say he was sorry, even though he didn't cook it. Going back to hold them accountable was out of the question. And I could either eat it or go hungry. "Oh. Sorry. Mine was burnt, too." I took it apart and showed him. "But nowhere near THAT burnt!" I guess they had left the muffins on the grill top while waiting for the eggs to be laid, hatched, matured, and laid again.

At least I was going to have one of my favorite Grilled Chicken sandwiches for lunch, at Downstream Casino, near Joplin. And Hick had a $10 food credit! By the time we rolled in, it was around 3:00. We ordered and sat down to wait (for what seemed like an extra 10-15 minutes over the usual time) for our little beeper thingy to go off. Hick went to get the food, and you'll never guess what I found.

Sadly, it was not a penny. It was the bun of my chicken sandwich, charred as black at my Sausage Egg McMuffin!!! What are the odds of THAT? Even a camouflage of mayonnaise couldn't obscure the fact that my buns were black! Of course Hick was already halfway done with his. He offered to go get me another one, but I didn't want to waste valuable gambling time. Besides, would YOU want to eat another sandwich, made by the person you'd just complained to and asked for another sandwich? Not this ol' Val.

Hick said he'd just take the bun back, and ask for a new bun, to be handed to him, not to be toasted. Nope. I chowed down on my charred chicken. So disappointing to go all that way and get this. Funny how there was NO SURVEY handed out like the last time we were there.

Also funny how only VAL'S food was burned, and not Hick's, at both restaurants. He couldn't even shenaniganize the serving of the sandwiches, since I was the one who handed out the McMuffins, and Hick didn't have fries with his own chicken sandwich.

It's like lightning struck Val twice. Or at least her food.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Telegraph, Telephone, Tell a Hick

On the way home from visiting The Pony, Hick likes to stop at a little hole-in-the-wall casino in Checotah, Oklahmoa. The casino doesn't have holes in the walls, but it's nothing fancy. Checotah itself doesn't have much claim to fame, except being the hometown of singer Carrie Underwood. Not that she has anything to do with the casino. Or has holes in her walls.

Hick wanted to break up the drive, and I guess he saw a sign along the road, and decided to stop. I think we've been there 3 or 4 times. They never send us any comps in the mail. The last time, we had to get a new player's card. Not that it gives us any benefits. In fact, mine was warped from baking in the console secret compartment in A-Cad, so I didn't even take it in this time. Hick wanted me to get another one, but I didn't see the point, since we don't get comps. the past, we've done okay here. Hick was a big winner once, on a wheel (not of fortune) game. I was a big winner once, on Dancing Drums. The other times, we've lost a minimal amount. So I don't mind going there, though it's not a favorite.

Hick had originally said we'd bypass this little casino this time, because we were a couple hours behind our usual schedule. But then he made the turnoff anyway. Who was I to argue?

Val the high roller entered that little casino (Creek Nation) with $100 in her pocket. I don't know how much Hick had in his. Hick couldn't find his favorite Chili Chili Fire machine, the casino having had the nerve to update their slots. Believe me, if it was just a matter of changing the floor plan, Hick would have found it. The place isn't that big.

Anyhoo...Hick sat down at one of my Dancing Drums, and I at the other. Right off, I won $60, and cashed it out. I went looking for something else to play, but since there were about 3 secruity guards for every player, I did not feel comfortably browsing around the games that interested me in the red-screen area. No need to run a gauntlet of gossiping casino officers to get to the no-armed bandits. I went back to the Dancing Drums, which promptly ate my windfall back to my beginning bankroll.

I lost track of Hick, and went into the front room, where I saw nothing appealing. There was a machine I'd never seen, with columns of money in various denominations. It was a penny machine, minimum bet 33 cents. That's what I played. It was fun enough, giving me bonuses that I'd never seen. In fact, I played the rest of my time on that machine. With only two minutes left until meeting Hick, I upped my bet to $1 (!) and hit a bonus. It played out, and you're not gonna believe this, but I cashed out, and the total I left that hole-in-the-wall casino with was $99. That's right. I had played for 40 minutes, and lost $1. That's close enough to a win for Val!'s the point of the story, now that you've slogged through all those superfluous details.

As we went out the door, Hick held it open for a lady behind us. She was perhaps late 30s/early40s. Younger than me, that's all I notice any more. Hick was being his jovial self.

"There she goes, the winner!"

I didn't hear the lady say anything. I don't know if she smiled or acknowledged Hick, because she was behind me as he held the door open.

"She won SEVENTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS! I was playing right next to her."

It was a cringeworthy moment. The lady went on around us (I was movin' mighty slow) and strode toward her car, which was parked right next to A-Cad. She had her head tucked down, walking briskly.

Now let me just say, as a woman alone at a hole-in-the-wall casino, even at 1:00 on a Thursday afternoon in broad daylight...I would NOT want somebody broadcasting at the top of his lungs that I'd won seventeen hundred dollars. You might as well be waving those hundred dollar bills over your head, hootin' and hollerin' to attract attention to yourself.

Shame on Hick. What happens in the casino stays in the casino.