Hell of a Guy
If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough. - Mario Andretti

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Membership Has Its Privileges

08/30/2007

After my not-so-wonderful experience this past week with my flights from Chicago to Washington-Dulles, I am again thinking about retirement.  As with the title of this ditty, retirement also has its privileges, or so one would think.  One of those will be United Airlines and AirTran Airways will no longer be a part of my life; however, while the idea of retirement intrigues me, the reality of it is worrisome.  For one, I cannot afford retirement unless The Nancy takes on a second full-time job.  She refuses to do it, and there is an unselfish side of me that understands her disdain of my idea.  But nonetheless, I need some means of additional income in order to pull this off.

I had way too much time to contemplate a whole bunch of meaningless BS on Thursday and a good portion of Friday while loitering at O’Hare, Midway and Atlanta airports.  Part of this thirty-seven hour mental exercise was joyfully spent devising a means to supplement my small pension and Social Security.  I believe I have come up with a sure fired way to secure the extra funds needed to make this work.  The process to get to this point is full of schemes (or felonies).  I thought at first about just really padding my expense report each week for another year or so, and using the money to pay off a chunk of my mortgage.  I would only have to falsify about $800.00 worth of expenses each and every week.  Sounds easy, but inasmuch as I travel only about twice a month, it just won’t work, and jail time might be involved, which would take care of my retirement issues, for sure.  I also thought perhaps I could talk The Nancy into a little larceny, but, dammit, she is way too ethical and honest.  So after really stretching my brain I came up with this idea: Membership in Hell of a Guy.

This website has now enjoyed over 56,000 hits in the year and a half since Meredith and Phil (http://www.topdeadcenterdesign.com) gave it to me as a birthday present.  That is 56K’s worth of happy folks that have enjoyed my wit (or halfwit) and my off beat sagacity (far out wisdom).  If my limited mathematical skills are correct, it makes just about 800 hits each week.  The plan is to have each of you put $1 in an envelope and send it to Hell-of-a-Guy.com, PO Box 430, Berkeley Springs (aka Town of Bath – population 711), West Virginia each time you access this website.  If everyone takes part in my plan, my days with this company are numbered.  My time in the abyss of employment will be but a memory in a matter of days when this ship comes in.  I will spend the remainder of my life writing asinine bullshit like this, but only in retirement instead of on my company’s time (Oops!, I probably shouldn’t have said that.) 

I suppose I should do more for you than just write stupid stuff and post it for you to read and hopefully enjoy while taking your money.  So, for your dollar you will receive by return mail a membership card suitable for framing or laminating and an eight by ten, autographed picture of me, also suitable for framing or laminating.  But wait, there’s more…I “may” even throw in a set of six, faux-pearl handled vegetable knives - I don’t do steak, but I am not a vegetarian.  I have some leftover Thanksgiving napkins (forgive the autumn motif) I may throw in as an extra added attraction.  Self-addressed, stamped envelopes will get immediate attention: all others may become inexplicably lost in the mail back to you.  I cannot be held responsible for the ineptitude of the US Postal Service. 

Please give this some serious thought?  Membership has its privileges, the main one being me.  All seriousness aside, I think this is an excellent way for you to expand my horizons.  I must admit, my expectations are not very high.  At the very least I ask give this about a half a second’s consideration before you give this screen the finger.

And that is all I have to say about that…   

 
Friday, August 24, 2007

United Flight 710 – Thunder From Down Under…

08/24/2007

I am beginning to think there is a curse on my flights in and out of ORD, aka Chicago’s O’Hare.  Here I sit out on the tarmac about a half mile from the terminal in a plane full of passengers watching the rain roll in and out, listening to the little ones who are not happy to be here.  We are sitting because of the occasional lightning that is bombarding the airport every three or four seconds, as well as very limited visibility.  The wind is blowing the rain sideways and the plane is rocking as if it could flip over.  As long as lightning is in the air, we are not.  This has to be a jinx.  It is now 7:15pm.  I boarded the plane as 3:30pm.  This is fun.

No one is panicking; no one is complaining.  Everyone on the plane can readily see what the issue is.  There are a few restless children.  One screamed at the top of its lungs for almost an hour.  I think that one is sleeping now.  This situation boils down to the fact that God will not allow us to leave this place and God has reasons.  Chicago is Hell.

The captain has just announced a break in the weather.  We may get to leave this purgatory, after all.  We are number three for departure. 

Well that dream was short lived.  After sitting on the plane for nearly five hours, the crew would have been beyond their allowable hours on duty so we returned to the terminal and eventually canceled.  I was told immediately the first flight I could get on was to be 9:25 Friday night – twenty-four hours from now.  I did not panic, though I was not especially happy.  But this is life, and worst things can happen to make this one look like a walk in the park.

Okay, now it’s Friday morning.  I am sitting at a gate in the Midway Airport.  I gave up on United and bought a one-way on Air Tran through Atlanta.  Guess what?  It’s delayed.  I may not get back to The Farm until about eleven this evening and that is the time I may have got back to Dulles had I stuck with my original ticket.  It is what it is though, and nothing more.  Nothing I can do but love the life I got.  So I will.

I remember a long time ago a story my nurse-daughter told me about an 18-year old girl whose legs where amputated shortly before the skin on her torso died and fell away.  She was just weeks out of high school.  I think about her often when I get upset with the little things life throws at me.  I don’t have it bad.

Perhaps I am overtired or just a little wacky, but I am sort of enjoying this.  I am watching people blowing their minds and raising hell with the gate attendants, and it’s all for naught.  Life, goes as shit, it happens.

And that is all I have to say about that…

PS:  I don’t usually add postscripts to these little stories.  Today, it is required.  My flight from Atlanta to Washington, DC got a little hairy.  Because of this and that, plus a couple of human errors, I finally arrived at my doorstep at 3:40 Saturday morning, a mere thirty-six hours from the time I began my excursion.  I was just a tad tired, but happy.

 
Friday, August 17, 2007

A Wave in the Country…

08/17/2007

I have written a few times about Country Life, its ups and its downs.  This morning, on the seven-mile drive from the Farm to my office, provided me with another reason to contemplate an “up.”  Just after turning on the hard-surfaced road I encountered a neighbor and we exchanged waves, as he drove in the opposite direction.  This wave is a pretty common to do along the road in small towns and rural areas.  People just seem to wave at everyone, and it’s a nice thing to do.  I know it makes me feel good when I do it.

This little jesture got me to thinking about something that was said in the book “Conversations with God.”  The guy in the other car, by virtue of the wave, whether he recognized it as such is superfluous, was acknowledging the fact that we, he and I, are connected.  He doesn’t know me, nor I him, but we are nonetheless connected as the One is with the All.  Spiritually, there is no “me” and there is no “you,” there is just an “us.”  Weird eh!  And the “us” is the sum of God.  God, therefore, is us, and we are, therefore, God.

Wow!  Heavy stuff.  My daughter, Meredith, is guffawing over that one.  Me, her dad, the consummate agnostic speaking of God, but this is where I am these days; Me and God as one.

So this morning as I left my house and drove to work, I waved at God and I waved at me and therefore waved at all of us, and the God of All Things waved back, and I could hear God say, “Have a nice day!”

And that is all I have to say about that…

 
Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Dozen Years - August 11, 1995

08/11/2007

Picture this:  August 11, 1995, this Hell of a Guy was driving back to Richmond, Virginia from a weekend in Grafton, West Virginia – the former home of The Nancy.  It was late afternoon and I was hungry.  I zig-zagged off Interstate 68 at exit 22 and made my way north about a quarter of a mile to a Burger King restaurant…you know, “Home of the Whopper.”  I have never viewed fast food as good food, or, for that matter, anything other than just filler.  Bulk food is all that it is.  This time was no different, except that I was about a third of the way on a 300 mile trip and I was hungry as hell and the Burger King was about the only game in town.  I got a Whopper, some fries and a Diet Coke and ate it all; more like scoffed it down, as I drove eastward and homeward.  Just about the time I finished these epicurean delights, I began to feel a little queasy.  The further I drove, the worse I felt.  Stomach cramps.  And pop-pop, fizz-fizz, Alka-Seltzer was not the answer.

This “sick feeling” is something I had experienced about once a month for over four years prior to this episode.  I referred it as my “period.”  Stomach cramps would begin as merely a sensation and worsen throughout an eight to twelve hour period.  Eventually the cramps reached a crescendo with me doubled over with a searing pain in my lower abdomen, then I would get sick (such a nice word for puke) and then the pain would quickly subside leaving me in a weakened condition, but I was good to go for another month or so.

On this August the 11th, as I managed to drive myself the other 200 hundred miles to Richmond, my stomach and I made the momentous decision to cut animal flesh out of my diet.  I just assumed it was the meat making me ill.  No more burgers, steaks, seafood, pig meat and definitely no fowl.  Having never really been a big meat eater, giving up barnyard scavengers was not all that hard.  I did miss some things – Calamari, sushi, a really good hamburger, maybe even pickle loaf sandwiches and Thanksgiving stuffing, but only for a couple of months.  Other than that, I cannot think of a thing I miss, and looking at my overstuffed, ever burgeoning body, you might think I drink pig fat by the gallon.  Actually my calorie intake is about the same as it was before I shunned meat.  These days a lot of my calories are provided by copious quantities of India Pale Ale.  Ovo-lacto vegetarians don’t necessarily have to look like Gandhi.  But one thing is for sure, I have not been ill since I gave up critter. 

Well, today I officially declare an end to my meat fast.  I end my claim to be a vegetarian.  I will not tell anyone from this point on that I do not eat animal flesh.  Does this mean I will dive into a huge plate of chitterlings and bratwurst?  No!  Is a visit to Chic-fil-A in my future…probably not, and definitely no Burger King.  In fact, I probably will not alter my diet at all.  I will, however, deny, deny, deny that I am a vegetarian.

Mainly this is being done to keep The Nancy from telling people that I am vegetarian.  Many times when we have been out to enjoy a meal, she, for some reason, has felt it necessary to explain her oddball husband’s dietary eccentricities.  Not that I really care one way or the other, but it gives me something to bug her about, and, after all, it’s why God brought us together, and probably why she loves me so much.  She must; at least she hasn’t shot me, yet.  Anyway, so long Hell-of-a-Vegetarian.  I have rejoined the mundane world of meat lovers and carnivores.  It was nice while it lasted.  Now I can just be a regular, nothing special guy.  No “Hell of a” or anything like it.  Just regular.

And that is all I have to say about that… 
 

 
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