Saturday, October 23, 2021

A CENTennial of Sorts, Worth More Than a Hick Nickel

Even Steven is up to something. Sure, he provided me with pennies this week. But not only did he withhold the higher denominations, he DISTRIBUTED ONE TO SOMEONE NOT WORTHY!
 
On SATURDAY, October 16, I stopped by Orb K for scratchers. While waiting at the counter for my tickets to be harvested from the dispenser, I spied a special treat:
 
 
It was a heads-up 2014 penny. Unfortunately, my phone camera pretended to snap the closeup, but kept that picture as well as a car-rental agency kept a reservation for a guy with a horse-face and flaring nostrils. Thus one customer received a totally unnecessary ample-rumpusing. Sorry. I do believe somebody at Orb K finally swept the floor!!!
_____________________________________________________________________

FRIDAY, October 22, I went in Country Mart to get my scratchers from their lottery machine. When I came back out, the sun was just right to point out a penny waiting for me on the sidewalk by T-Hoe!

 
Good thing there wasn't a wayward child revving that car-cart to run me down as I bent over to harvest my coin, and leave me cents-less!

 
It was a face-down 2020 penny, looking as if I had posed it to perfection. In reality, I zoomed in with my phone camera, and took the picture blindly, due to the sun's reflection off the screen. I DID crop it for centering purposes, but it was happily aligned like this.
____________________________________________________________________

Yes, I was pleased to be double-pennied this week. But just to shove my nose out of joint, Even Steven bestowed a special gift on Hick!

 
Hick found a NICKEL on a floor joist under the Master Bathroom of Pony House where he ripped out the the floor. Of course he sent me a picture. He probably spent the nickel! He does not understand sentimentality. I would have put it in a little frame for Pony to perhaps hang in that bathroom. 

"Was it an OLD nickel?"

"Nah. It was a 1980."

"Um. That's 41 years ago. SOME PEOPLE, like The Pony, would consider that old..."

I can't claim the Hick Nickel as my own. It obviously wasn't meant for me. I don't know who's sending Hick this coin, but they sure knew where he'd be likely to find it.
_______________________________________________________________________

That makes 2 PENNIES this week, for 2 CENTS towards Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune, reaching the 100 PENNY MILESTONE for 2021!
________________________________________________________

2021 RUNNING TOTAL

Penny       # 99, 100.
Dime         still at 12.
Nickel       still at 6.
Quarter    still at 6.

2020 TOTALS
Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1
________________________________________________________

Friday, October 22, 2021

The Customer Is Always the Rumpus of the Joke

I'm not happy with my treatment at the Sis-Town Casey's on Thursday. ME! A loyal customer who buys gas there once a week! I'm sure I'm keeping them in business.
 
To begin with, there was some jackrumpusery going on behind the counter. It was not clear which of the two registers were open, nor who was woking. I stood at the counter between the registers. Patiently. Two women were chatting, and one gave the side-head to a young man of about 20. "Go help her over there." Nodding at the left register.
 
I stepped over and told him I wanted $40 on Pump 3. T-Hoe is thirsty, with a hollow tank. That would only fill him halfway. I also told Young'un that I was cashing in two draw tickets (a $2 and a $3 winner), and buying more. He set to work scanning the winners, then tore off and printed my new tickets. It's always hard to hear in there, talking through the Plexiglass the the VIRUS can't jump over or slither under, and the employees wearing masks, and some machinery always humming. Perhaps their freezer. 

During Young'un's activities, two different employees stood by and watched. Nodded and walked off. I assumed he was training, since I hadn't seen him before. I didn't look at his name tag. He had everything done, and scanned my new tickets to ring them up. I saw that he had given a wrong ticket.

"Oh, I don't want this one. I said two Cash4Life with EZ Match. This is only one, without EZ Match." An honest mistake. I was just bringing it to his attention, to get what I'd asked for. This discombobulated Young'un. A bigger older women came over. I assumed she was the manager. She was quite short, and I don't mean in height.

"What did you DO?"

Before Young'un could explain, she locked eyes with me through the Plexiglass. I explained about the two Cash4Life with EZ Match. She printed them, and removed the other ticket I didn't want.

"That will be $52."

"Um. No, I think that's wrong. I had planned on giving you $60, and getting $5 back."

"Oh. Did you have gas?" [Seriously, she was asking ME, a customer with a possible motive to lie and save $40, rather than Young'un, her own employee?]

"Yes. $40 on Pump 3. And here are the tickets." 

 I started grouping like tickets together, to show how they added up. Then she got all snippy with me!

"CAN I JUST!"

Sure you can, Hitlerzilla. I thought, but didn't speak. She proceeded to turn over the tickets I was buying, one by one, calling out their code numbers, while looking at the register readout. They all checked out just fine. The whole time, she was sighing and giving side glances at Young'un.
 
I was the only one in line when we started, and now there were two customers behind me, a man with two grade-school kids, and another man. 

"Jeannie, see if anyone has cash."

"No, I already asked."

"Well, take HIM at the drive-thru register." Hitlerzilla turned to Young'un. "Now what did she give you? Did you take that off?" Young'un said he did. $5 worth of winners.

At the risk of having my head bitten off through the Plexiglass, I said, "I had one $2 winner, and one $3 winner."

Hitlerzilla looked through the receipts Young'un had printed out. "Oh. That's it. $55."

I gave her the money, grabbed my tickets and change, and turned to leave. The next guy stepped up, and laughed. Hitlerzilla was ROLLING HER EYES! It was all I could do to hold my ire by muttering under my breath, 

"Can't ANYBODY do a job right in this place?"

Pardon the Not-Heaven out of ME! How dare I do business at their store, and purchase the products they offer for sale! 

The way I see it, this whole crapshow could have been avoided by:

THEM:
 - Training new employees completely, or supervising them until they learn all transactions.
 - Less personal conversations and more work.
 - Fix their card-scanner that's been down a month, so they don't need to do cash-only at one register.
 - Do not mock the customers or berate the help

ME:
- Accepting $8 in change instead of the $5 I was owed, thus cheating them out of $3.
- Taking a ticket I did not want, and foregoing two that I did.

I'm sick of their shoddy customer service! I'm not going back there... until next Thursday, when it's time for T-Hoe's gas.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Pony Does Not APPRECIATE Such Behavior

Remember back in June? Hick had his nose out of joint because The Pony bought his own whole milk (not a version that Hick drinks) to have for breakfast before work, and told Hick, "I would appreciate it if you did not drink my milk."

As much as it caused a frosty response, that statement did, indeed, preserve the milk. Perhaps The Pony should have lay in wait, to spring the same appreciation on Hick about the Symphony candy bar I bought him as a treat. It was the big bar, with many little rectangle pieces to be broken off and savored. The plain Symphony, not the kind with nuts and crunchy things. The Pony has simple tastes, unless he's buying one of every wine ever imagined, or exotic gourmet sauces and oils to add to pasta.

Anyhoo... I bought the Symphony with my groceries on Tuesday. The Pony got off "early" at 4:00! After working only 8.5 hours! In fact, he had clocked out before I was home from town. He got home before I did, and carried in my groceries. I guess his feet were teeming with energy, conditioned for another 3.5 hours of walking.

Anyhoo... Hick was not yet home. The Pony cranked back in the recliner to do some computer gaming, and enjoy some Symphony. Shortly after Hick arrived home, The Pony ran his 2-hour bath in the big triangle tub in the master bathroom. I served Hick his supper, and sat down to chat. After consuming his delicious Frito Taco Salad, Hick reached over and picked up something off the side table, next to the TV remote.

"What's this?"

"Oh! That's The Pony's Symphony I bought him as a treat."

"Huh."

"So don't eat it. I guess he left part of it there. I just got it."

Let the record show that Hick has no shortage of SWEET TREATS that he absolutely should not consume. Yet he does it anyway. By sneak or by blatant disregard for other people's concern for his health! He has two kinds of individual ice cream cups, one vanilla with strawberry or chocolate swirl, and the other half vanilla/half chocolate. He has bags of Christmas cookies and animal cookies that he bought at the auction. He has expired Russell Stover chocolates that he bought at the auction. He has chocolate-covered raisins that he asked me to buy for him. And right then, I offered him an alternative treat:

"There's an individual bag of Little Debbie mini oatmeal cakes, like little cookies, that I bought Pony a couple weeks ago, and he didn't want..."

"Okay. Where are they?"

So... Hick ate the mini oatmeal cake/cookies. You know what else he ate, don't you?

The Pony had Wednesday off. He came to the kitchen as I was getting ready to leave for our yearly meeting with our financial advisor.

"Did you eat some of my Symphony, Mom?"

"No. I always ask before I take something. I have those Dove dark chocolate squares. I like my Symphony with the crunchy stuff."

"Well, there are TWO SQUARES of my Symphony missing."

"Dang it! Dad picked it up last night from the table, and I TOLD him not to eat it!"

"I'm pretty sure I had half left, plus two squares. I guess I could be confused..."

"I doubt it."

The Pony got an early jump on his nightly 2-hour bath, around 4:30. When Hick got home, and was eating a repeat of his Frito Taco Salad, I inquired about the Symphony.

"Did you eat some of The Pony's candy bar?"

"Only ONE SQUARE!"

"You act like that's okay! I TOLD you not to eat it! AND you ate more than ONE square. WHY did you eat it? You even had the oatmeal cake/cookies after your ice cream!"

"Well. It looked really good."

I later revealed the confession to The Pony. Nothing more was said, but I could tell he did not APPRECIATE Hick's behavior.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Accommodating The Pony

Hick bought three more lights for Pony House at the auction Monday night. He did NOT share a picture with me! Why even bother to tell me if he's not going to provide PROOF?

Tuesday, Hick was working at Pony House when The Pony himself called. This is twice now that The Pony has asked Hick to pick up some lunch for him. Heh, heh! I need to ask who's paying! Anyhoo, last time was on Friday, when The Pony was working in Backroads. Of course he wanted Hick to drive over to the next town to Burger King to pick up a Whopper. So the excuse that, "Well, I knew Dad would be at his Storage Unit Store, so I thought he could bring my lunch," kind of stretches logic. It's not as if he asked for something right there in Backroads, like Hardee's, or Casey's, or Dairy Queen.

Hick asked The Pony why he didn't just get his own lunch, rather than eat it on his 10-minute break.

"Dad. I get PAID for my break, but I don't get paid for a half-hour lunch!"

Anyhoo... I guess on Tuesday, The Pony did a walking lunch, because Hick said he stopped by Pony House to walk through and take a look. To be fair, he WAS delivering on the route that includes Pony House. No word on what was for lunch.

WEDNESDAY is The Pony's day off. He had planned to go over to Bill-Paying Town for his favorite meal of Steak N Shake. And to stop by Walmart for socks and deodorant. THEN he had second thoughts when he saw me cooking hamburger for a taco salad on Tuesday night.

"No, I don't want tacos, but if you have some of that hamburger left, I might make myself hamburgers tomorrow."

Uh huh. After working 8 straight days, a 20-minute trip to Steak N Shake is not so appealing on a day off! Not when you can lie around the house and play computer games with your FEET UP. I guess maybe The Pony can wear holey socks another week (or 8 days), and maybe not smell so fresh. 
 
I even patted out his hamburgers for him, but he'll have to stand to cook them. Hick and I have our yearly appointment with our financial advisor around lunch time. I'm meeting Hick there, and hoping to sneak out early. No need for me to sit around while they chew the fat over collectibles and firearms.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

O Pecan Tree

O Pecan Tree, O Pecan Tree
How heavy are your branches
O Pecan Tree, O Pecan Tree
How fragile are your branches

Your boughs so green in summertime
Will soon be gone in wintertime
O Pecan Tree, O Pecan Tree
How heavy are your branches

Let the record show that PECAN tree is debatable. A couple of the tree-trimmers who came to inspect the tree and give an estimate were not sold on the pecan narrative. They said a pecan tree usually does not drop branches like the Pony House tree. Hick swears there are pecans in the yard that have fallen from the tree. I asked if maybe they were hickory nuts, but Hick swears they are pecans. As does THIS GUY, the one who sold us the $5000 Hick House.

Anyhoo... when we last convened to discuss the Pony House Pecan Tree, Hick was waiting on Tree-Trimmer Guy to get a license to do business in Sis-Town. Hick and I were discussing this very topic on Thursday evening when Hick got a text from Tree-Trimmer Guy, providing a picture of his city business license! I don't know what it cost. Hick thinks probably around $86, the cost of his building permit. He DID see on the copy that Tree-Trimmer Guy's business license is good until July 1, 2022.

Hick and Tree-Trimmer Guy met to finalize their contract on Friday afternoon. Tree-Trimmer Guy raised his price from $3000 to $3250, and Hick agreed. He is having the entire tree cut down, not just trimmed. I will worry less about it falling on Pony House that way, although I hate to lose such a large shade tree.

Tree-Trimmer Guy said he is working a regular job. He had been trying to get on with this guy for a while, and just got hired. So he will be cutting down Pony House Pecan Tree on the weekends. Except for Sundays. He doesn't work on Sundays. This does not bother Hick. He is not in a hurry, just happy to have the project underway. He went by on Saturday after closing his Storage Unit Store, to watch the process.

Hick says it is only Tree-Trimmer Guy and TTG Wife doing the trimming. Tree-Trimmer Guy climbs into the tree, secured by a safety harness, and crawls out onto a limb, which he ties off in a 4-foot section, then cuts and lowers it with a block-and-tackle. TTG Wife helps from the ground, and drags the brush out of the way, then hauls it off. Together they take the cut sections to the concrete pad up by the garage to stack it.
 
 
A story about that ladder coming up later! 

 
OOPSIE! One of the wood hunks fell onto the corner of Pony House! Hick told Tree-Trimmer Guy that he could fix the damage, or Hick would deduct money from his fee, and fix it himself. Tree-Trimmer Guy said he would fix it. Hick still holds the purse strings. He's not worried.

Hick came home Saturday afternoon to GET HIS TRACTOR! He loaded it on his trailer, and hauled it to Pony House. So Tree-Trimmer Guy and TTG Wife could use it to move the wood! Hick says insurance will cover any accidents. He is trying to make it easier for the Trimmers to move that wood up the slight hill to the concrete pad. "They can load it in the bucket of the tractor, and drive it up there."

Hick went over to the neighbor's house and knocked on the door, just to tell him that the Trimmers would be working there off and on. This one didn't want the power turned off like one of the other candidates. Neighbor Guy opened the door, and told Hick,

"Just a minute, I've got some money for you."

"I didn't come over to ask for money. Just to tell you they'll be working over here."

"Oh, I went and took out the money like I said. I knew they were working. I was watching, and the guy knocked his ladder over. I went to get it for him, so he could get out of the tree. His wife was gone in the truck, hauling off the brush when it happened."

Neighbor Guy gave Hick five $100 bills. Nice and crisp, but I'm pretty sure he's a smoker. Anyhoo... THAT'S a good neighbor! Let's hope nothing falls and smashes his property.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Val Gets a Crime-Fighting Lesson at the Gas Station Chicken Store

The more you know...

Sunday, business was slow at the Gas Station Chicken Store. It was just me, at the soda fountain filling my 44 oz Diet Coke, and Man Owner puttering around wiping down the counters (they close at 5:00 on Sundays), and Woman Owner behind the counter waiting on customers. As I walked up front, a man stepped one foot in the door.

"I just want you to know, my son is getting gas, and then he's got to leave for work. I'm in my truck, and I'll be getting diesel fuel around at the side, but I'm going to pay for both of us when I'm done. So he's not driving off. I'll be paying for his gas and mine."

"All right. Thank you for telling me. I don't feel like running fast today!"

They both laughed, and the guy went back out as I set my magical elixir on the counter.

"He thinks I'm joking, but I'm serious! I cleared off my counter so I can get out fast!" [There's a section that flips up like a drawbridge, where she'd moved the merchandise that sometimes sits there.]

"What are you going to do if you catch someone, grab onto the bumper?"

"I've stopped people before! There was one time that I stopped a stolen car! I didn't know it was stolen at the time. I just wanted my gas money. It was a couple years ago, a car from Michigan. There were four guys in it, and I ran out as they were trying to get away, waving my arms and screaming at them to stop. They DID!"

"I'm surprised. You'd think they'd want to get away. Oh, but I guess they'd rather face you than have you call in a gas drive-off, since they were in a stolen car."

"I was standing there while they tried to get their stories straight, to tell me how they were going to pay, when a State Patrol car made a U-turn and came flying in here! The trooper jumped out pointing his gun, yelling 'Put your hands on top of the car!'"

Man Owner walked up. "I was out there by that time, and I put my hands in the air, and said, 'Hey, this isn't how you do it on TV!'"

"Turns out the car was being tracked by GPS. They got arrested, and I had to go to court 4 times! They tried them all separately. I got a letter from Judge Judy, wanting me to be on the show. They would pay us $500 each, plus our expenses to get out there, and the judgment if we won. 
 
I remember sitting on the bench over at the courthouse on Law Day, waiting to be called in. I leaned over and hollered at one of the guys who worked for us, 'Hey, David, did you get your letter from Judge Judy?' Well! All the noise stopped, like I was E.F. Hutton! Everybody looked at me. 
 
When I got in the courtroom, I mentioned it to the judge. She said, 'Are you going?' and I told her no. Then she said, 'At least you have a little self-respect.'"
 
"Wow! You could have been famous!"
 
"No way would I go be on Judge Judy! I've watched Judge Judy! She makes everybody look like a fool, not just the guilty people!"

Never a dull moment at the Gas Station Chicken Store.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Hick Has Been in the Bathroom All Week

Hick's project at Pony House this week was Bathroom 2, the bathroom off the second bedroom. I must have misunderstood when I thought he said he would start on Monday and be done Monday night! Even Hick is not THAT efficient. I think maybe he meant something about the floor? I must have listened like he was Charlie Brown's teacher, and only heard BATHROOM and DONE. Anyhoo... I'll tell the story in pictures.

It started with boards Hick removed from the walls of Bedroom 2:

 
Those long boards, leaning against the wall, here in Bedroom 2. Hick said he was going to use them on the floor of Bathroom 2. Not as floorboards, but as an extra layer of insulation material. He put down the wall boards, then the insulated blue board that's made for floor insulation, then the good plywood, then the laminate flooring that IS waterproof and made for bathroom use. As Hick said, "I'm using these boards because I HAVE THEM. They are free. More plywood is NOT free."

 
This is the corner where the sink will go. Bedroom on the other side of that wall, and to the right, is the wall that will be against the porch/back door area. Hick says the boards come with these markings on them, so you can know where the wall studs are, since wall studs are spaced at standard intervals which I don't remember.

 
This is where the shower will go. The wood wall is the back of the house, and the other board is against the porch/back door area. You can also see the marked boards on the floor. That's the third floor layer, the bottom layer being those old wall boards, then the insulation board, then this. Hick had a little problem on Monday, when he dropped his WRENCH down the shower drain pipe. He had to drive home to get his magnetic stick thingy to pull out the wrench.

 
Here's the shower, partially done, except for the back wall. The plywood will be covered by some shiny white board that reminds me of those school whiteboards for dry-erase markers. We have it in our basement, and it makes the room bright. Pony and I think Hick should leave the wood on the back wall, and the unseen wall to the right, which is the side of the house, where the toilet will go. Too much white board will make it look like a hospital! The contrast of wood and white will be good, we think. Hick will sand the wood and seal it. That different area, which was a window, will get a mirror. You'll see!

 
Here's the sink corner, and the sink drain pipe. No wrench lost in that one! As you can see, Hick has the laminate flooring down. I said it looks too small for a vanity here, but Hick says a vanity is only 20 inches deep, and then quoted me the measurements here, which I can't remember. Again, these two walls seen will be covered by the shiny white board. There's a brief glimpse of the door opening to the bedroom.

 
This is the back wall with the mirror in place of the old window. The reflection in the mirror is the window that is over where the toilet will be. The window still needs framing. I'm really liking the thought of these two wood walls contrasting with the two shiny white board walls.

That's it so far. I don't think Hick has put in the toilet, or there would be pictures. He might be waiting to tie in something with the plumbing. His helper has only been there once, because he's working another job.

That's the current progress on Bathroom 2. Not sure what room will be next.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

A PENNY and a DOH! Not Quite Dinner and a Show.

All good things must end, and this week that good thing was Val's multi-coin streak at filling the coffers of her Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.
 
On TUESDAY, October 12, I was over in Sis-Town on banking business, and stopped by the Casey's for scratchers. When I came out the door, a gift was waiting, just for me!
 
 
Can you see this one? If those three gum spots formed a kite, the PENNY would make up the bottom angle where the tail would be attached. The license plate numbers have been removed to protect the innocent non-coin-harvesters.  

 
It was a face-down 2002 penny, basking in the sun, unseen when I entered those very doors about 5 minutes earlier. Thanks, little buddy, for saving me from a shut-out this week!
____________________________________________________________________
 
Since I don't have an interesting penny-finding story this week, I'll share a short typing faux pas by The Pony. He sends me a text every night when he clocks out, so we know when to expect him home. With him working those 12-hour days, we tend to worry if we haven't heard anything. 

"Waiting for a trick to move, then parking my LLV right, and clocking out."

"A TRICK? How interesting..."
 
The Pony explained, once home, that he was waiting on a TRUCK, the big mail truck semi that was blocking the whole parking lot, so he couldn't put his LLV in the line with other LLVs. Good to know. I was starting to wonder if all 12 hours were always on the clock! Or what kind of neighborhood he might be delivering in!
____________________________________________________________________

That makes 1 COIN, for 1 CENT added to Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune this week.
___________________________________________________________

2021 RUNNING TOTAL

Penny       # 98.
Dime         still at 12.
Nickel       still at 6.
Quarter    still at 6.

2020 TOTALS
Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1
________________________________________________________

Friday, October 15, 2021

They Might as Well Hitch The Pony to a Wagon

The Pony could be more efficient if he was harnessed to a buggy. To a surrey (fringe missing from the top, of course). Or in keeping with the current newness of the post office vehicles, an Oklahoma Sooner prairie schooner kind of wagon. At least it would be dependable transportation for The Pony and his mail. 

The LLV (Long Life Vehicle) that The Pony was issued on Tuesday must have been on its 10th life. I got a text from him at 11:51. It was a picture:

 
"This is a problem. Gear shifter came off."

Well. Yes. That IS a problem. The lever came right out of the column. The Pony said he could put the lever back in, and change gears, but that lever would not stay. It kept falling out. The Pony called back to the post office, and the manager sent a mechanic. Not a USPS mechanic, but the local guy from the shop that always has 2-3 LLVs in the driveway, near the Sis-Town Casey's, cattycorner from the pawn shop where Hick does business.

The mechanic put the lever back in, and used some kind of bolt thingy to hold it on, according to The Pony. So I don't have the technical specs, due to Pony-speak. So he could continue his route. However... another pitfall awaited.

"Somebody put barbed wire by their mailbox! I think I know which one it was. I had made a stop, and before I got very far, I heard a noise coming from my back tire. When I went around to look, there was a coil of barbed wired wrapped around the axle twice. It took a while to get it off--"

"Didn't that cut up your hands?"

"Not too bad. I got it loose. I kept watching that tire, and it was going flat. Not all the way flat, but not full. Before I clocked out, I left a note on the steering wheel for the lady who usually drives that LLV, telling her she should probably check that tire, because I thought it was going flat from running over barbed wire."

The Pony was thrilled on Wednesday to get one of the two new mini vans to deliver packages, and not for foot delivery house-to-house. It had AIR CONDITIONING! And, I'm presuming, a working gear shifter, and a working horn, and four inflated tires. PLUS, The Pony only worked 10.5 hours! Not 12. It's the little things, people. The little things.

Anyhoo... The Pony said that on Wednesday, he saw the LLV's regular driver, and mentioned that tire. She said that she'd been having trouble with it for a while. That it kept losing air. So she didn't think the barbed wire wrap-around had much to do with it. She said she was going to report the tire, and have the mechanic pull it off and see if it had a slow leak.

I think The Pony has 54 hours so far this week, with one more day left before the next work week starts. He has not mentioned a day off... At least he had the Monday paid holiday off, which some people did not. Although for The Pony, a regular 8-hour day is a pay cut.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Hick Scoops Up a Deal

Only a few things in this world are certain: death, taxes, and Hick's entrepreneuring.

Sunday afternoon, I heard the dogs going crazy out front. I thought I heard a motor. Not a car. Maybe a 4-wheeler. I looked out the front door, and saw Hick on his blue tractor. What in the Not-Heaven? Was he smoothing the gravel of Shackytown Boulevard? I went to put on my CROCS, and by the time I got back outside, Hick was in the side yard. In the back of SilverRedO.

 
Huh. What was he up to now? Was that some contraption to sand the floors of Pony House? Hick was maneuvering it into the bucket of his tractor.

 
I watched as Hick hopped down off the tailgate to the bumper to the ground, and the recoil of SilverRedO made the contraption slide back mostly onto the tailgate.

"Hey! It slipped back!"

"I know. That's why I'm getting my chain."

Hick often takes chances which I, myself, would not.
 
 
Hick yanked his own chain before driving that contraption across the side yard. Shorts by Goodwill. Tractor seat by Some Junk Hick Took Out Of Something Else. 

 
Of course Hick turned my direction to smile for the phone camera. Yes. That's as smiley as he gets.

 
Hick was escorted by neighbor dog Copper Jack, who lets no wheel turn without a warning.

 
Final destination: the School House Shed. Oh, how I wish Hick had clairvoyantly saved that magnificent window for Pony House!

In case you hadn't noticed by now (I would not have), that contraption is a SNOW BLOWER! Hick says it sells for about $1000 at Lowe's or one of those kind of stores. He named off some specifics, but that means nothing to me.

"Where did YOU get it."

"A guy I know had it up at the lockers today. I gave him $180 for it. It's new, but I have to work on the carburetor to get it to start. I might be able to spray some ether into it."

"Is it stolen?"

"No! I've known this guy a while. He bought it from a lady over in Bill-Paying Town, who is selling all her stuff to travel across the country in a motor home. It was part of everything. He didn't buy it separate."

"How'd you load it in your truck?"

"He had it on a trailer, and he leaned his trailer tailgate ramp up against my truck tailgate, and pushed it up in there. He's a stout guy!"

"What are you going to do with it?"

"I'll put it on Buy/Sell/Trade. I'm asking $500, but I'll take $350."

Always the wheeler-dealer, our Hick.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Tranquility Before the Tempest?

Regular readers probably remember that Val has a faux-criminal past. She's been treated as Public Enemy #1-3 over the past several years. Most often the finger being pointed by HER VERY OWN BANK where she has done business for 30 years. The most notable incident being the deposit of a check from her credit union to withdraw cash to buy Hick House for $5000, when the teller called the wrong verification number and commenced phone-whispering to a superior right in front of Val, concerning the attempted deposit of an invalid check.

Tuesday, I was still suffering PTSD from this deposit debacle when I stopped by my credit union to withdraw a check for Pony House expenses. The folks at my credit union were quite polite, even if I did have to go through the same explanation twice, once over the phone, and again at the window. I suppose saying, "I am Val Thevictorian. I called earlier about doing this and this with my account," is not enough of a hint for the gal to turn to the only two other workers and ask if one had talked to me on the phone.

As it was, she went across the open office to get authorization, and the authorizing party talked her through the bits and pieces she had already told me on the phone. Once I had that check in my hand, ready to take to the bank for deposit, I said,

"My bank will probably call in a few minutes to authorize this check. Last time they thought I was trying to deposit a counterfeit check! They tried to tell me the funds weren't authorized by this credit union."

"What? Why would they do that?"

"The gal called the number on the check, rather than your local number, even though I TOLD HER that it just came from down the road. I guess she called a St. Louis number, and they said they had NOT issued that check."

"Give me your check back! What number? There shouldn't be a different number on the check."

Great. Now my CREDIT UNION thought I was a liar! I gave her the check, and she took it back to the authorizer's desk, telling my tale. I could hear them discussing it. Huh. Such a mystery. That number (still there) shouldn't be on the checks! They hadn't used that institution for a long time! Huh. Why was it still there? 

Seriously. I can't believe nobody has noticed this number on their checks they print out. IT HAS BEEN 2 YEARS, 9 MONTHS SINCE I HAD THAT INCIDENT AT MY BANK! All this time, my credit union has been handing out checks with an invalid phone number on them!

Anyhoo... the credit union gal gave me their business card, and said, "Here. Make sure they call our local number if they want to verify the check. NOT that other number printed on it."

Of course when I got to my bank right down the road, the lobby was already closed! So I went to the drive-thru. I put in my deposit slip, endorsed check, and the business card of the credit union, and sent in the canister through the tube. 

Of course I got no greeting from the teller. I was waiting until I knew someone was listening, such as AFTER A GREETING, to tell them to use the phone number on the credit union business card for verification of the check. Next thing I knew, the tube was humming with the return canister, and the teller was saying, "Thank you, have a good day."

Well. That was a bit dismissive. She didn't even say there would be a 10-day hold on the check, as they SO love to do with our deposits. Huh. I guess everything went okay. 

Once I got home, I was still pondering the ease of the deposit. WHAT IF they called for verification after I'd driven off, and used the wrong number, and they're going to put a security hold on my account, or try to charge me for an invalid check???

I guess I'll find out... maybe this is just the calm before the storm.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Rest Insured, Hick is a Thorough Investigator

Yesterday I mentioned how Hick was concerned about his tree-trimmer not having the proper insurance. Well. Hick uncovered more facts during his Monday investigation.

Our insurance rep (his office manager, specifically) assured Hick that even some of their company's policies now allow the policyholder to make changes online and submit a document. She said the language in this policy looked like the industry standard.

Hick called the actual insurance company in California that holds the policy of Tree-Trimmer Guy. The agent verified that Tree-Trimmer Guy's policy, while recent, was in full effect, and would provide coverage for the trimming of the Pony House tree. He has paid his monthly premium and the policy is good for at least 30 days. This agent sent Hick a copy of the policy with Hick's name on it as the insured for this job. So Hick is comfortable using Tree-Trimmer Guy, IF Hick approves the final contract that Tree-Trimmer Guy was bringing by Pony House on Monday evening. It contains details such as Hick not paying a cent until some work is done. Hick will pay for what is done, at the end of each day, but not the full amount unless ALL the agreed-upon terms have been met. Such as the limbs being cleared from the property, and six-foot lengths stacked on the concrete pad up by the Pony House garage. Hick is planning to use some of the wood for heating his workshop this winter.
 
Hick also found out that Tree-Trimmer Guy has formed an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation), so he seems to be trying to go about this in a business-like manner, and not in a shady kind of way like just showing up in a truck and climbing a tree to trim it, then pocket the cash.

However... in talking to our insurance office manager, Hick was reminded that Tree-Trimmer Guy will need a business license issued from the city (of Sis-Town) if he's going to do work within the city limits. Hick says he plans to ask Tree-Trimmer Guy if he has gotten a license, emphasizing: "Look. The mayor is my brother-in-law, and you HAVE to have a business license. I'm not going to have some nosy neighbor saying that the mayor is playing favorites and not requiring a relative to meet all the regulations."

So... for now, Tree-Trimmer Guy is back on Hick's schedule to trim the Pony House tree.

Monday, October 11, 2021

If a Tree-Trimmer Falls in the Yard of a $23,000 House, and No One is There to See Him, Will the Insurance Pay a Claim?

Hick is re-thinking the Tree-Trimmer Guy. They had agreed upon the price, the removal of the debris, and the day to begin, but Hick insisted that he would not move forward until he had a copy of the Tree-Trimmer Guy's insurance.

That's the first thing Hick asks them, if they have insurance. No need to proceed if they don't. We have an umbrella policy, and we also have a rehabber's policy for one year on Pony House, but neither will pay for any claims is we use a HIRED worker. According to Hick, it will pay if his buddy comes over to help, and some mishap befalls him. But not if he's getting paid. Hick is pretty smart about the legal stuff.

In fact, Hick knows from his years as a manager of facility maintenance in a factory that made saw blades for butchers, that the contractor's insurance should have YOUR NAME in the policy, and be authorized by his insurance carrier, or it's just like not having insurance. He told this to Tree-Trimmer Guy, who's in his mid-30s, and used to trim trees in another state. Tree-Trimmer Guy said nobody has ever asked him for that. But that of course he has insurance. Hick explained that all he had to do was call his insurance, tell them what he needed, and they would send it to him with Hick's name on it, making him insured for the job. 
 
Tree-Trimmer Guy sent Hick a copy of the policy with Hick's name in it the next day. He said that his insurance company was in California, but that he'd figured out a way to put Hick's name in it online. Hick said, no, that wasn't right. The insurance company had to do it. And how had the insurance company rep signed it? Tree-Trimmer Guy said it was an electronic signature, so he had put the same name as the person who had signed his policy. Hick said NO. This was not a legal agreement.

Hick looked up the insurance company online. It has been in business since 2017, and had a rating of 4.8 out of 5. Hick also saw a complaint from the Better Business Bureau. I told him that doesn't mean all that much. Some people are never satisfied. That you have to read the whole thing, and see how the business tried to solve the complaint. That if it was THAT bad, the insurance company itself would not have a rating of 4.8 over four years.

Anyhoo... Hick is leery of using Tree-Trimmer Guy now, not in small part to more details revealed by Tree-Trimmer Guy himself. Like he just got this insurance last month, at a cost of $150. And that the day before, he paid his monthly premium of $75. Not criticizing the guy for just recently becoming insured, but it seems he only got a fire in his belly to get insurance AFTER talking to Hick. Also not saying Tree-Trimmer Guy is trying to pull a scam. Only that he probably doesn't understand the insurance process. I sure don't. 
 
I never would have made sure to have my name on the insurance policy before letting him do the work. Hick had seen a buddy who pours concrete while he was at Casey's buying donuts, and asked HIM about the insurance. And Concrete Man said that's right. That's how it's done. It's really simple. All the contractor does is call his insurance company, and they will issue the policy with the hiring person's name on it as the "insured" for the job.

So... Hick is pretty sure that Tree-Trimmer Guy does not have $300,000 worth of coverage for this job. I don't know where Hick arrived at that amount. Hick is going to talk to our own insurance rep on Monday, to see if they've heard anything about this insurance company, and how legal Tree-Trimmer Guy's process is, since our rep will be familiar with procedures, and the wording of insurance contracts.

I'm pretty sure we're going with the guy Hick already met with, and texted by mistake about the insurance contract while thinking he was talking to Tree-Trimmer Guy. The other one will do it for a few hundred dollars less, and says of course he can get Hick an insurance contract with his name on it, and that Hick is welcome to talk to his insurer, who is in a town about 20 miles north of us. He is so booked up that he doesn't mind if Hick hires him or not, but to please let him know if he should put us on his schedule for about 2 months in the future.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Nobody Puts Pony In a Dumpster

The Pony has been working his tail off now that he's back to work. Four injured came back the same week, and the other broken ankle (broken three days before The Pony's) comes back on Monday. Trouble is, they're still losing people left and right. It's brutal work, until you make regular. That's mandatory within two years, but most make it sooner, due to turnover in The Pony's facility.

The Pony has worked just over 120 hours during this two-week pay period. Like Seinfeld's not-buddy Newwwman said, "The mail never stops." Thursday evening, The Pony came home with a baffling tale.

"I got back too late to hear any gossip, but when I looked at the schedule, two names were whited-out. Not just the hours on the schedule. Two PEOPLE were whited-out. I don't know what happened. Why are they off the schedule? Nobody is supposed to be getting off. I don't know if they got hurt. Or quit. There are two new ones since I started. One was asking about getting her uniform allowance. I'm pretty sure she already passed the 90-day probation. The uniform allowance comes after 120 days. So I don't think she'd quit. The other one is pretty close to making probation. I can't imagine they'd fire anybody right now, with us being so short-handed."

"They fired your buddy MAW (Middle-Aged Woman) the week before her probation was up. So you know they WILL do it. Maybe somebody wasn't fast enough, like her."

"Still, even somebody slow, who's already trained and has worked, is better than starting over. Especially with the holidays coming. This one is not real fast, but the one I think passed probation is as fast as me! Not that I'm fast, but the more you work, the faster you get."

Well. Friday night... mystery solved. 

"I heard one of the regulars talking about it. One quit, one got fired after someone reported her throwing away mail."

"I can't imagine somebody quitting after passing probation, and asking about the uniform allowance."

"Oh, she's the one who got fired. Somebody along the route saw her dump a whole tub of mail into a dumpster."

"You mean like junk mail?"

"No. Regular mail."

"Like bills and letters? I sure hope I didn't have any mail in that batch! Do you know what route?"

"No, I don't know the route. But you wouldn't have had any local mail going out around here."

"Well... I wonder how many times it happened before she got caught. That could explain how she was as fast as you!"

As for the quitter, it IS a demanding job when you're low in seniority. Your reward for working hard and finishing as quick as you can is to be given more work, helping the slower. Like The Pony on Friday night. He went in at 7:30 a.m. At 7:49 p.m., I got a text:

"Clocked out. Manager forgot about me, apparently."

There was more to the story.

"Around 7:00, I sent in a text that I just finished my packages, and was starting my regular mail. Usually they send help as other people get done. We're not supposed to deliver any regular mail after 8:00. I guess she didn't see my text until later, because she sent one that said, 'You're STILL OUT THERE? Just bring the mail back.' It was the new manager they've been training."

Poor Pony. Forgotten on his route. I'm sorry the new manager overlooked him. At least nobody put him in a dumpster.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Deja Vu For These COINS, Two

Limited success this week in bagging the elusive penny! It was literally a repeat of last week! On SUNDAY, October 3, I was pleased to spot a penny waiting for me in the entryway of Country Mart.

 
I didn't want to hurt business by ample-rumpusing those entering after me, so I walked past the penny and turned to get the picture. Those who'd already filled their cart were unlikely to abandon them in horror once the ample-rumpusing commenced. There's one of the lottery machines on the left.

 
It was a face-down 2020 penny, so shiny and photogenic against the tile background.
_______________________________________________________________________

THURSDAY, October 8, I was at the Sis-Town Casey's for T-Hoe's weekly gas. My preferred Pump 4 was occupied by a USPS LLV! So I had to take Pump 3. After trading in scratchers and pre-paying, I headed back to the pumps.

 
Perhaps you don't have Val's eagle eye. It's behind T-Hoe, in the direction of the Claddagh Irish Dance studio and pawn shop. They're separate businesses, but in the same mini mall.

 
Here's a bit closer view. There it is! To the left of the two tar spots. I was quite excited at first, thinking it was a quarter. Seems that Val's eagle eye is more of a hummingbird eye.

 
It was a face-down 1976 NICKEL! Such an endangered species in Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune. So special. !976 was a very good year.
________________________________________________________________________
 
That's 2 COINS, for 6 CENTS this week towards Val's Future Pennyillionaire Fortune.
_______________________________________________________

2021 RUNNING TOTAL

Penny       # 97.
Dime         still at 12.
Nickel       # 6.
Quarter    still at 6.

2020 TOTALS
Penny     134
Dime        25
Nickel      10
Quarter      1
________________________________________________________

Friday, October 8, 2021

Back to Pony House

Hick spent a couple days this week working on the back of Pony House, on the side with Bathroom 2. He stripped off the old layers of siding, put in insulation, and finished it with the vertical sheets of cedar siding that I don't really like. He still says I'll like the finished house-back. I'm not so sure.

 
Hick spent Monday stripping. Heh, heh. I actually like this old wood siding better than the new stuff Hick is using to cover it up. But I'm not the one doing the work. There used to be a window here, which won't be now. On the inside, Hick is going to put a mirror in that space. Like a framed mirror. He happened to buy two mirrors at the auction for a grand total of $2.

 
Yeah. Not a fan of this look. I would at least expect it to be painted white. 

 
That white middle section will be torn off, and it will be an open back porch, but under roof. For now, Hick is leaving it there, to use as a storage area for his tools and materials, so they're out of the way while he's working.

Thursday, Hick had a hired guy there (who works for Hick's friend, who's a general contractor), to crawl around under the house and check out the duct work and plumbing. They found rotten floor joists under the Master Bathroom, so Hick has to replace the whole floor there. Also, he will need to shore up the floor joists under the Master Bedroom, but they're not rotten.

Hick hopes to finish Bathroom 2 by Monday evening! That's what he told The Pony. I'm not so sure, but Hick says he can. Maybe he means get all the fixtures in place, not necessary finished like move-in finished, with paint and everything. He set the shower base where it's going to be, to take some measurements.

 
Hick needs to put down the sub-floor and some kind of insulation board, and then he's using the laminate flooring, which he said is the kind MEANT to be used in a bathroom, which is labeled as such by something on the back of it. In fact, he said the laminate flooring he used in his Railroad Car Shed actually came out of Back-Creek Neighbor Bev's bathroom.
 
Anyhoo... he's got the toilet there, and a vanity top here in the BARn for the sink. I think he might need a cabinet to set that on. You can see the back entryway there through the wall studs. So he needs an inner wall, and outer wall which will again be that vertical cedar siding. He's keeping that board wall, and scrubbing and painting it.

This is Hick's favorite part of the job, when he can show off a nearly-finished room, that actually looks livable. I don't expect him to be done on Monday, but for sure by the end of the week.

Saturday, the tree guy is coming to deal with the (possibly) pecan tree. A price of $3000 has been agreed upon. Next to the heating and cooling, this will probably be the biggest expense of Pony House.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Fake-Bic Flickin', Belt-Buckling, Pennant-Waving, Gewgaws Have Arrived

Hick picked up some new merchandise for his Storage Unit Store at the auction Tuesday.
 
 
There's a decorative baseball-theme clock for the St. Louis Cardinals. And several belt buckles. I'm most intrigued by the silver buckle at the top, which says "White Castle Slider Pilot." For anyone who has never had a White Castle hamburger, they're greasy little things called "belly bombers." Hick paid $2 for it, and will ask $10.  He paid $10 each for the two Harley Davidson belt buckles, and will ask $25 apiece. The panther was $2, asking $10, as was the "marijuana leaf," as Hick calls the other silver buckle. I don't know what kind of weed Hick has been smoking, but that doesn't look like a marijuana leaf to me...

 
Looks like Hick got a deal on Bic-like lighters. He paid $6 for all, and will get $1 per 2-pack. So he'll double his money. He didn't mention the batteries.

 
Here are some sports pennants. Hick paid $2 for all. He will ask $4 per pennant. I don't know how well they will sell. I suppose they will, or Hick wouldn't have bought them. Maybe they're collectibles. Especially that blue St. Louis Rams pennant, since the Rams have been out of St. Louis for a while now.

 
Lots of jewelry! Hick paid $13 for all, and will ask $2 each. Suitable for a child to give a beloved lady as a Christmas gift, perhaps...

One thing is pretty certain. Hick will recoup his investment, plus at least 50 cents.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Something is Fishy in the Regional Distribution Center of Knoxville

Back on September 29, I revealed the pitfalls of the simple mailing of a packet of The Pony's documentation for a RECONSIDERATION of his denied workman's compensation claim. The gist of my outrage being that such a package mailed on September 17 had been IN TRANSIT for 12 days, its last known location only 60 miles from home.

Well. If only I'd known that this gripy blog post would jostle The Pony's package into motion, like The Fonz hitting the jukebox.

That blog post published at 1:06 p.m. on September 29. When I checked the tracking number of The Pony's package that day before leaving for town, the USPS site showed that it left the Knoxville processing center at 1:23 p.m.! Such a grand coincidence! I almost did a Snoopy dance. I sent The Pony a text. I never bother him while working, but this was good news, so he wouldn't have to compile another set of documents that night when he got home.

Good thing I held off on the Snoopy dance. When I checked later that night/morning, the tracking history had CHANGED! The Pony's package had arrived earlier, but had left later. Something is fishy in the Regional Distribution Center of Knoxville.
 
However, there is good news to report since then. I think...
Here's what I copied from the tracking website on October 1. You read from bottom to top.

October 1, 2021, 7:08 am
Available for Pickup
LONDON, KY 40742 
Your item arrived at the LONDON, KY 40742 post office at 7:08 am on October 1, 2021 and is ready for pickup.

October 1, 2021, 5:28 am
Arrived at Post Office
LONDON, KY 40741 

September 30, 2021, 12:01 am
Departed USPS Regional Facility
KNOXVILLE TN DISTRIBUTION CENTER 

September 29, 2021, 11:19 am
Arrived at USPS Regional Destination Facility
KNOXVILLE TN DISTRIBUTION CENTER 

September 21, 2021
In Transit to Next Facility

September 17, 2021, 11:22 pm
Arrived at USPS Regional Origin Facility
SAINT LOUIS MO DISTRIBUTION CENTER  
_____________________________________________________________________________
 
I was all excited about this, and told The Pony immediately. He was off that day, and headed for Steak N Shake. Of course I kept checking the tracking website so I'd know if that package was picked up. I was getting peeved-off again. I ranted to Hick:

"The Pony's package hasn't been touched! [heh, heh] Nobody from the Department of Labor has showed up to get it! Surely they pick up their mail at least once a day! It was ready at 7:08 a.m. What do they do, take Fridays off? Surely they'll pick it up Monday!"

"I don't know, Val. We always went oncet [that's how he said it, sounds like wantst] a day when I worked at the plant. But I don't know how they do it. You'd THINK they'd go oncet a day."

Of course I didn't have much hope for a Saturday pickup. But by Monday night I was really worked up. I told The Pony when he got home.

"Your package STILL hasn't been picked up! But it would have been the same if I sent it as just a letter. Only we wouldn't know. Because the only address they have is a post office box."

"Mom. Once the mail is ready for pickup at the post office, it doesn't get scanned again. It's just there. And it gets picked up. They put it in the PO Box, and that's it. You don't know when it actually gets taken out of the box."

Never mind...

I'm hoping The Pony's package is lying on somebody's desk, waiting to be opened within 90 days, which is the time frame they give for the reconsideration of a RECONSIDERATION.
 

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Speaking of Parking Lot Problems...

When I returned to T-Hoe from Country Mart on Monday, I saw THIS across from me:

 
What kind of inconsiderate oaf does THAT?

I tried to put myself in such a scenario. If I had my young child in that little car, and perhaps an infant in a basket, I might not want to leave them in my car while I returned the cart. You can't leave small children alone in a car. But you CAN unload your groceries, take that cart to the corral, or park it by a light pole out of the way of future parkers, and THEN grab your toddler out of the little car, and pick up your basket baby to walk back to your car.

 
A wider view shows that the perpetrator could have put that kiddie cart up against the light pole without much hardship. The cart corral was to the left, one space farther than that red sedan. ANOTHER cart corral was one space to the left of T-Hoe. The store itself is to the right, the sidewalk just across the driving lane by the light pole parking space.

Let the record show that Val does not always return her cart/walker. After a half-hour gathering groceries, and ten minutes in line, it's painful to toddle across pavement on knee bones that grind against each other without benefit of cartilage. If a cart is sitting out, I take it in with me on the way in, and leave it near where I got it after loading T-Hoe. In the very least, I park it against the building, or a light pole where none of the spaces will be obstructed, and the wind won't blow it into cars or the driving lane. On less painful days, I take it back inside to the indoor cart corral.

What's that? Did I just hear a whinny from a high-horse, begging me to hop on for a ride?