News of the closings of Toys 'R Us hit me in a most unexpected way last week. It has been years since I've ventured into a Toys 'R Us. As an over-the-hill baby boomer with not a single grandchild to brag about, I have about as much reason to go into a toy store as I do Victoria's Secrets. As I read the article I had stumbled across online, memories from another era passed through my mind. Memories of excited youngsters grasping my finger as we strolled up and down aisles of toys. Memories of hurried and frantic last minute Christmas shopping, scrambling to find those items my children had scribbled on the top of their lists. Memories of my three-year-old daughter pointing as we drove by the store on so many occasions, unable to read but readily recognizing the colorful signage, her eyes widening as she begged,
"Oooh, can we go there today?"
And it's gone. Other brick and mortar stores will fall before this year's calendar expires. Experts predict Macy's may not make it through the year, along with JC Pennys, Kmart, and Sears. All from a result of failing to live up to their customers' expectations and a failure to keep pace with a rapidly changing way of doing business, these companies and more will cease to exist, nothing more than a vague memory. The blame always seems to gravitate to Amazon, but if we were honest, every one of these companies simply fell asleep at the wheel. Any one of them could have been the Amazon we all know and love. I believe the one company I am most disappointed in is Sears. They were the Amazon back in their day. Sears and Roebuck had the foresight to reach out to millions of customers right in their own homes, as far back as the nineteenth century. They pioneered home shopping, mailing out millions of catalogs, shipping everything from wood cook stoves to baby chicks directly to their customers' front doors. I remember the glee we experienced as children when the annual Sears Christmas catalog arrived in our mailbox. But somewhere along the way Sears lost their vision and stumbled. And now they lay gasping their last breath, mortally wounded by a giant corporation whose founder quite possibly discovered his vision while browsing through a Sears Christmas catalog at a young age.
My daughter and I found ourselves on the topic while driving around the city the other day. I asked her what society was going to do with itself in a decade when there were no more stores to shop at, no more malls to stroll through, and not a single movie theater left unshuttered. She disinterestedly responded that surely it'd not come to that as she fretted over the fact that she had left some needed adapter to connect her iPhone to the car radio at home. I laughed and suggested we could listen to the radio. I readily agreed with her when she suggested that silence was better than stooping low enough to actually torture ourselves with listening to the radio.
As we rode in silence, my mind dwelled on this ever-changing landscape we find ourselves in. While familiar retailers decompose before our very eyes, there are even more industries we're not readily seeing struggling to survive. Yes, even radio has perhaps seen its heyday. Will we, in a decade or less, be driving through all but abandoned city streets in silence because...there is no more radio?
According to a recent Forbes article ( In The IHeartMedia Bankruptcy, Expect A Major Selloff Of Radio Stations ) as many as 850 radio stations owned by the struggling IHeart Media group could hit the market soon, going at rock bottom prices. These stations simply aren't making any money. The number two media company, Cumulus Media filed for bankruptcy just months ago and may be forced to unload as many as 450 stations. So, if you've ever wanted to own a radio station, now is the time to make your move. They will be going cheap!
Radio began failing us years ago but we had few options if we wanted to listen to music. Commercials annoyed us to no end, with as many as eight to ten being forced upon us between songs. I recall reading an article a couple of years ago that the average station is now playing commercials fifty percent of their airtime. Coupled with struggling music genres whose powers that be had lost touch with listeners, radio became almost a disdain, forcing us to consume music we didn't care to listen to sandwiched between annoying commercials we really, really didn't want to hear. Me personally...I turned the radio off years ago, even before Spotify and Pandora made their appearance. I see radio's chances of survival about as slim as that of a T-rex.
So who's next? Allow me to make a prediction based solely on my own ever-changing habits. I am frankly on the threshold of addiction to streaming television. I've got it all, baby! Netflix, Hulu, Amazon...powered by three Rokus attached to all three TVs! I lived my life for years, perhaps a decade, with the TV off. I did not want to watch fat people lose weight. I cared nothing about watching spoiled millennials trying to outdo each other on some deserted island, nor did single chicks trying to one-up each other to land the bachelor of their dreams interests me in the least. I detested mindless sitcoms, still adding canned laughter so even the most stupid viewer would know when they were supposed to laugh. And should I even mention the countless breaks for ads about everything from erectile dysfunction to maxi pads.
It took me a while the other night to figure out which button on the remote to push to get me back to network television, but something beckoned me to watch the premiere of the 'Rosanne' revival. It was, to an old baby boomer like me, a breath of fresh air...perhaps I should more adequately describe it as a blast from the past. For the first time in a very long time, network TV made me laugh out loud and it felt good. It took me back in time. It jarred memories of evenings when a family gathered around the television after supper. Back to a time when radio played good music...and when toddlers grasped your finger as you led them down aisles and aisles of toys, their eyes gleaming, unknowing at the time that those times would someday be nothing more than a memory.
The cuckoo clock chirped ten times and I glanced out the dark window. Rising ever so silently from my easy chair, I tiptoed to the door of the office and listened. Stinky was snoring soundly. Pulling the door shut, I made my way to the bedroom, reaching for my boots. It was time to make my move.
I carefully lifted the coffee can full of bacon grease from the stove and cradled it in my arm. Sliding the patio door open as quietly as possible, I stepped out into the darkness. Down the driveway and across the dirt road that led to the highway, past the pecan tree, I paused. My eyes peering into the darkness, my steps cautious so I'd not trip and spill the grease, I finally came to the telephone pole looming before me. Perhaps this will do, I thought. Perhaps Stinky would not discover the secret place I had dumped the can brimming with tasty bacon grease. I carefully poured the can onto the ground in the dark of night. Finding my way back to the house, I placed the now empty metal can in the cabinet and stealthily crept back to the office. The dog was still snoring loudly, unaware of my escapade. I breathed a sigh of relief and sat on the couch to remove my boots. As I trudged down the hall, boots in hand, I came face to face with the Boston terrier, wide-eyed, wagging her stub of a tail.
"What are you doing up? No, you don't need to go outside. Go back to bed!"
The dog persisted and I reluctantly let her out, standing at the door like an old school marm monitoring recess. Stinky disappeared into the darkness. I looked at the clock on the wall. One minute passed, then two. Panic flooded my body as I called out into the night.
"Stinky, come on!" I paused, listening, "Come on, you bonehead!"
Still no dog. I growled under my breath as I headed to fetch my boots. By the time I returned to the door, the dog had found her way back, standing patiently in the porch light, her brown eyes bulging at me.
I slid the door open and began to chastise her.
"Did you eat that bacon grease? I know you did! You smell like rotten bacon!"
The dog cowered and slowly disappeared into the office, settling into her bed, doing her best to ignore me.
I found the dog the following morning sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, her eyes barely open. I could tell she was in discomfort as she shifted ever so slightly in an attempt to relieve her pain. It took several commands to get the dog to lethargically waddle to the door for her morning pee. When she returned, I stood at the door with a liver-flavored Milkbone, as was expected of me for years. She glanced at the treat with squinty eyes and uttered a groan, passing on by and resuming her place on the kitchen floor. I dropped the bone into her doggie dish and told myself she'd be alright tomorrow. She had done this before. There wasn't anything the dog wouldn't eat.
But by the third morning, the dog's condition had worsened. I stared at the critter still sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, obviously in intense pain. I knew the dog would die if I didn't seek professional medical attention. She wasn't even my dog. My daughter had reluctantly left her behind last fall as she headed off to college, with strict orders to take care of the animal. I couldn't let the canine die on my watch. My child would never forgive me. And I hated to admit it, but I had become attached to Stinky. She was a good dog. She had the bladder of an elephant and never had a mishap in the house. And she made me laugh. She had been a good companion after my daughter had left. I had found comfort in her incessant snoring as I watched TV in the evenings, and her smelly farts were a constant reminder that I was not alone. But what stood out in my mind the most as I made the decision to take her to the vet was that it hadn't rained in a hundred and fifty days. There was no way I could dig a hole in that rock hard dirt to bury her in.
The vet was one of those good old boys that you couldn't help but like. My last encounter with him had been a decade ago when I pulled up into the parking lot of his clinic at midnight in a driving blizzard, a pregnant goat in my trailer who couldn't deliver her baby. When I called and woke him, he had eagerly agreed to meet me and the two of us had bonded somewhat in that hour it took to deliver that baby goat. That adventure had cost me two hundred bucks.
"I believe she is impacted," he said as he gently felt the underside of the dog, "Have you seen her defecate, you know, poop in the last several days?"
I shook my head. It's not like watching dogs poop is a hobby of mine, but I was fairly certain the dog hadn't. She hadn't ventured too far off the patio since she'd became ill.
"An enema will probably fix her up. I'll need to take an x-ray to be certain."
Well, here we go, I thought. How much would that cost? The x-ray apparently confirmed what we all already knew and the doggie nurse appeared in the doorway, scooping Stinky up in her arms.
"You are not going to be happy with me!" she giggled, the dog glancing back at me as if she were going to her execution.
Moments later a recognizable stench permeated the entire vet clinic. I held my breath as my eyes began to water. The smell was undeniably worse than any fart Stinky had ever unleashed. Twenty minutes later, the doggie nurse reappeared with a smiling Stinky in her arm.
"Oh, that poor, poor puppy. She had quite a time getting all that out of her. The doctor wanted another x-ray to be sure we got it all out. She looks good to go!"
With mixed emotions I paid the two hundred dollar bill, silently cursing Stinky and all forms of bacon grease. I glanced down at the dog happily standing at my feet.
"How are you ever going to repay me? No, it's a serious question. Maybe I can sell you on Craig's List for two hundred dollars."
And so, Stinky is back to normal. As I wrap this up, she lumbers from her doggie bed and walks toward the desk, her big brown bug eyes glance upward, an evil grin on her face...and then:
"Oh! Why did you come over here to fart! You think it's funny!" Gag...
They took my ibuprofen away from me. Personally, I wouldn't call myself an addict, but I do admit to driving forty miles to an all-night Super Walmart before just to buy a two dollar bottle of the wonder drug. That little adventure, out in the wee hours of the morning dodging Saturday night drunks, taught me a lesson. From that day forward I always made it a point to have two or three bottles in the cabinet. I still have a couple of bottles. Sure could use a handful of ibuprofen right now, but no. I have something to prove to myself. I am not an ibuprofen addict!
This all started fifteen years ago after spending a summer day painting the trim on the house. I spent the entire night rocking back and forth on the couch, hunched over, tears in my eyes from a pain searing through my shoulders like I'd never experienced before. The next morning I was waiting for the old country doctor when he pulled up in his Ford pickup.
"Well, you're paying for your sins," he teased as he gently gyrated my shoulder in a circular motion, "you're not a young buck anymore. You have discovered the joys of arthritis. Ibuprofen will probably manage it. Run down to the Walmart and buy a bottle."
So began my relationship with the ibuprofen. It worked fairly well for fifteen years, failing me only when a strong cold front came barreling through or when I got a bit too overzealous trying to do my 'manly' chores, like use a screwdriver. But along about last October, something changed. The pills no longer fought off the pain. Nor was the pain just in my shoulders and hands...it began to haunt every joint of my body. Reluctantly, I made a doctor's appointment.
The old country doctor long gone by now, I explained my situation to the doctor who had replaced him. He scribbled a prescription while disinterestedly listening to my whining. Handing me the script, he sternly cautioned me to stop taking the ibuprofen. I became leary of this new medicine when the pharmacist handed me a thirty day supply and charged me a buck fifty. This couldn't work, I thought. Walmart brand ibuprofen costs two dollars a bottle. Two weeks later I stopped taking the prescription and went back to my ibuprofen. Another two weeks and I was back at the doctor's office.
"Those pills you gave me don't work! I still ache all over my body." I spewed, squinting my eyes at him.
"They're not supposed to make you feel better. They stop the damage to your joints. Do you want to feel better? I can give you a steroid called Prednisone. It has very harmful side effects so I will only prescribe one week's supply." he drew his pad from the white coat and scribbled on it, "Here, you can feel better for one week. I'm not doing you any favors! And I will make you an appointment with an arthritis specialist but it may be four months before you can get in to see him."
The following morning I woke up feeling like a twenty-year-old. There was not a single ache in my entire body. I leaped from the bed and threw on my clothes. I hadn't done either in a very long time. Throughout the day my mind began plotting on how I could get my hands on more Prednisone. I desperately needed to find a drug dealer. This stuff was far better than ibuprofen! For the next seven days I did things I hadn't done in months. I could open a bottle of Coke. I could rip open a bag of chips with my bare hands. I could button a shirt...and my blue jeans. Yes, I could even get up off the potty without a single groan. But just as the doctor promised, my seven days of painless bliss was over too soon, and I'd not found a drug dealer who could hook me up with more Prednisone. Woefully, I settled in to wait the four months until my appointment with the specialist.
"You have severe rheumatoid arthritis," he spoke in a foreign accent as his fingers gingerly massaged the knuckles of my hand, "There are many new drugs to treat this, but I am going to prescribe the number one drug for you. It's called METH..."
Well, there was more to the name, but my ears perked up when he said METH. Heck, even I could probably find a drug dealer who could get his hands on meth.
"Methotrexate. It is a cancer drug..."
My eyebrows raised and my eyes bugged out.
"No, it doesn't mean you have cancer, well you may. I don't know. I am an arthritis specialist, not a cancer doctor. But, this drug is often prescribed in low doses for rheumatoid arthritis. It doesn't work immediately. In fact, it may take several weeks. It is very important you do not take ibuprofen with this drug. I will prescribe a painkiller for those bad days...but whatever you do...no ibuprofen!"
Well, today is one of those bad days. Those painkillers sit in the cabinet right next to my ibuprofen. I have read the warning label. It is an opioid. The warning says a single dose could cause death if taken incorrectly. Probably when mixed with ibuprofen, I figure. My eyes dart from the bottle of ibuprofen to the painkillers and back again. I settle back in front of my laptop and Google, 'Black Market Prednisone.'
Canada! Yes! They have Viagra, too. Gotta go, I've found a whole new adventure here...
It slipped up on me, really. I retired just as 2017 wound down, right in the dead middle of winter. From my experience, that may be the absolute worst time of the year to make such a drastic life change. While I have enjoyed sleeping as late as I wish and being able to toss any form of structure into the wind, truthfully I spent most of my time buried beneath a blanket. I detest cold. In fact, when winter rolls around next year, I may back a bag and head south to Costa Rica. I don't really like lizards but probably could get used to sleeping with one as long as it is warm wherever I am at. But for the past few afternoons, I have relished the warmer temperatures that have lured me and Stinky out to the patio to bask in the warm sun, a brisk breeze blowing through my hair at forty miles an hour. Typical for this time of year, we who have been banished to West Texas know that when the winds make their appearance, spring is one step behind. Even with daylight lingering around until seven or so in the evenings, I just hadn't given it much thought until my daughter mentioned it just the other night. Spring Break! Yes! I've been waiting on that.
Heck no, I'm not going on spring break. All spring break means to me at this age is that spring will show up a week later. Trust me, the week of spring break here in west Texas will be overcast, chilly, and it may even snow, but take it from an old timer, when the following week rolls around and the kiddos head back to school, the weather will be absolutely perfect! And that's all I'm waiting on. Besides I am way too old to be indulging in binge drinking, acute alcohol poisoning, experimenting with all the latest synthetic drugs, and wild sex orgies beyond your wildest dreams. Nope, I'll leave all that to my daughter. As she meticulously packs her ten suitcases with everything she could possibly need to get her through a week of spring break on South Padre Island, my eyes tear up a bit as I realize how proud I am of her.
Let me explain. As thousands or perhaps even tens of thousands of college students invade the most popular spring break destination of the southwest, if not the nation, busloads of their peers set out right behind them. Their mission? To save these kids from themselves. My daughter, who is very dedicated to her role in the Baptist Student Ministries on her campus, along with a number of her classmates will spend their spring break ministering to those who need it most, wayward, intoxicated, and misguided young adults searching for something that they don't know they need. Other Baptist Student Ministries from colleges throughout the state of Texas will join them, and as one army of God will embark on perhaps the most important mission of their entire lives.
'Beach Reach' was started in 1980 and has grown into an enormous annual endeavor. The kids involved in the Beach Reach project will be offering transportation to college students too intoxicated to drive. They scoop college students who have passed out from the beach and take them to safety. They will find a way home for those who ran out of money half-way through the week. They will find clothing for those who can't remember where they left theirs. In short, they will take on the roles of guardian angels for a week. And, as well as nourishing the masses with all the pancakes they can consume into the wee hours of the night, they will nourish their souls as well, spreading the Word to all who will listen.
The college kids who have volunteered their spring break for this will pay a portion of their own expenses, a substantial amount for a college student. Yet, hundreds eagerly will head toward the Texas coast with high hopes and prayers leading them into the unknown.
The Baptist Student Ministries provide ongoing services and ministry to students on college campuses throughout the year, such as fifty cent lunches served with a side of the gospel. I've been fortunate to observe one of these lunches, and trust me, they are a hit with broke college students. The ministry offers Bible classes, activities, and fellowship to these kids who find themselves in a whole new world so far from home. If ever I've seen an effort worthy of financial donations, this is it. The Baptist Student Ministry is all some of these college kids have to get them through.
In all my years of writing blogs, I've never done this, but if you feel a tug in your heart to support the efforts of this wonderful organization and the students who so freely give of their own money and time, follow the link below and give something to help...anything would be greatly appreciated. As for me, I'm going to the patio and dream of Costa Rica...and yes, I made my donation!
Baptist Student Ministry Donations https://goo.gl/ARoiFr
The South Plains College BSM exists to share the Gospel and disciple students at SPC. We want them to Believe in Jesus, Belong to a community of His followers, and Become the person God made them to be.
We couldn’t do what we do without your help. We rely on the generosity of Texas Baptist churches and donors like you to keep our doors open. Your gift impacts the spiritual growth of students affects generations to come and reaches into eternity. Thank you for partnering with us!
It was a couple of months ago or so, I suppose. I lay in my bed, near midnight and close to crossing over to Dreamland. As I do every night out of fear that I've missed something that couldn't wait until morning, I picked up my iPhone and disinterestedly began scrolling through my Facebook timeline. Not really paying attention, my finger continued flipping the page upward when suddenly I heard a woman's voice. I dropped the phone beside me on the bed and sat up, my ears perking up like a Doberman contemplating an attack. I listened intently to the silence, pondering my next move. Should I reach for my twelve gauge shotgun loaded with double ought buckshot? No, I thought, perhaps the woman that voice belonged to was nothing more than lonely...as lonely as me on any given night. With no further sounds to be heard, I settled back down and resumed my thoughtless stroll through Facebook. Suddenly the sound of a raging bull elephant once again jerked me upright. There are no elephants in west Texas, I told myself and glancing down at my phone I observed a video of, yes, a charging elephant.
For years I have had my Facebook settings set to 'Do Not Auto-play Stupid Videos' and for years, my phone had obeyed. That night something had changed...well, namely Facebook. Not only did videos take on a life of their own, but there were thousands of them and nestled inside nearly every video were ads. Unlike Youtube, Facebook gave me no option to 'Skip Ad.' I had to endure them. I knew then that Facebook was up to something.
Soon afterward, Facebook made an announcement that they 'were returning to their roots.' Facebook's valued customers would now see posts from their friends and family, rather than countless corporations, news outlets, and celebrity gossip mongers. Yes, Facebook was kicking all those folks to the curb. And you know what? For the two weeks following that announcement, I actually began seeing posts from friends I had forgotten I had. Honestly, I've never met many of my Facebook friends, but it was refreshing to see something other than cat videos and 'people expressing their political beliefs' videos.
So, how is it going six weeks later? I'm going to saunter over to my Facebook page and see which of my friends have posted something...be right back.
Okay, here are some folks who have posted in the last few minutes: AARP, Southern Living, Sports Illustrated, Governor Greg Abbott, NBC News, Silver Singles, Yahoo, Netflix...none of these people are really my friends. So, what happened? Money...buddy!
All of these entities pay Facebook money to show their posts. Apparently, the video ads just aren't pulling their weight. To hell with your friends and family! If they want you to see their posts, they will have to pony up the money because Facebook is greedy, greedy, greedy! How much money is enough? Well, in July of last year, Facebook hit the 500 billion dollar mark, so apparently, that's not enough. No sir, they are going to force us to watch thousands of videos with advertising inserted inside them and shoot for 1,000 billion dollars. Is that a trillion? I don't know. I still have a jar of pennies on my dresser.
So here's my beef. I have three Facebook pages where I promote my books, websites, etc. Somewhere along the way throughout the years, folks have stumbled across these pages and 'liked' them, indicating that they wish to see content from these pages on their timeline. Facebook has continually put the squeeze on Facebook pages such as mine, choosing to only allow around 5 - 7% of the people who apparently wish to see this content to actually see it. After this recent change, it has dropped to around 1 - 3%, that is, unless we pay their ransom money. Now, in all fairness, it's Facebook's social media site, not mine and if they wish to charge me and millions of others money, it's their prerogative. But the fact is...it just doesn't work. Here's the other side that most of you don't see:
Facebook: Boost Your Post for $10
Your post "This week's story..." is performing better than 95% of posts on that Page. Boost it for $10 to reach up to 3,900 more people.
Now, my very best post ever was one I paid Facebook twenty dollars to 'boost' on their promise that I could reach up to 13,000 more people. A whopping 493 people were reached through paid advertising. And the results were heartbreaking. I made not a single penny, but Facebook made twenty bucks off of me.
So, how does this affect you? We let the privacy issues slide a decade ago. We overlook Facebook's facial recognition technology. Not only can they put a name to your face, they know where you work, where you live, how many kids you have. They know your friends and family. They know whether you swing right or left, or gay, for that matter. They know if you attend church and where, and yes, they know whether you are happily married or not, and if not, they likely know who you're sleeping with on the side. Yes, they know everything about you, all two billion of you. That's not the worst of Facebook, though.
Former President Obama even touched on it in a conversation with David Letterman on his Netflix talk show 'My Next Guest.' He mentioned that social media decides what America sees and hears, which is obviously whatever they want us to. With all of that information Facebook gleans from our pages and profiles, they determine what they want us to see, or not see. Think of such a powerful sword they swing! And with that sword, they swing the American people whichever way they wish. Welcome to the America that Facebook created.
I am a small town boy. Not really a boy anymore, but that's how we Texans describe ourselves, you know, like 'good ol' boy.' Small towns are full of good ol' boys...laid back and easy going. Small town boys gather at the local coffee shop and drink their coffee black, unlike city folks who hang out at a Starbucks. We put in a hard day's work. We attend our kids' ball games. We wear our blue jeans to church every Sunday. We tend to stand firm in our beliefs and cling to our values and our hunting rifles. All in all, not much riles us up. The outside world is somewhere on another planet. Nobody gets murdered here and there's not too many break-ins because everybody knows we have those hunting rifles and we aren't afraid to use them. Yes, laid back and easy going and that's not always a good thing. Take last week, for example.
My daughter had come home from college for the weekend. She unloaded her car with ten suitcases of clothes which would hopefully get her through Saturday and Sunday, and when she shut the car door, the lock fell off. Just fell in the dirt. I fiddled with it for an hour or so and well, it's a Ford and don't get me started on that. I decided I'd have to take it to the Ford House on Monday which presented two problems. My daughter had to be back at college on Monday and it was highly likely that I'd have to walk home from the Ford House since it typically takes them ten days to fix anything. Luckily we have a spare car that she could drive and we drove the Ford to the shop on Sunday afternoon. I'd just go down on Monday morning and tell the mechanic to fix the lock. It still presented me with the problem of getting the car back home, but I decided I'd cross that bridge when I came to it.
I walked into the Ford house bright and early Monday morning with the defective lock in hand. The man at the service counter nodded and told me they tend to do that, just fall off in the dirt...and they'd get 'er fixed sooner or later. As I walked out to my pickup, my phone rang. It was the realtor.
My dear old mama passed away last June and lucky me, had been cursed with the job of executor of the estate and that's another story I'll tell some other time. I had been trying to sell her house for months. I had an eager buyer since November. They had cash money. And it's February...that's where that laid back and easy going small town way of life comes into play. I would venture to guess that not more than a dozen houses are sold in our podunk little town on a yearly basis, yet three months after the buyer and seller shook hands on an agreement, the house still stood vacant. The realtor had originally set the closing date on December 31st, but it seems the two people working at the only title company in town were out of pocket, one with a surgery and the other having a baby. Reluctantly, the buyer and myself agreed to postpone the closing date to January 31st.
On January 30th, I called the realtor concerning the closing, expressing my fears that the buyer might back out if we didn't close the next day.
"Well, you know they're dealing with some health issues down there. I don't know if we will close tomorrow or not. You know that one woman had a baby..."
I bristled and replied, "That baby is crawling by now."
Apparently, the lawyer overseeing the probate of my mom's estate owns the title company. With the realtor now cracking her whip, he took on the chore of preparing the paperwork, with the assurance that the house would close by the end of the day. But there was another problem...
Keep in mind the original closing date was December 31st. The weatherman forecasted temperatures dropping down to five degrees for several nights during the first week of January. I had kept the utilities on at the house for the six months since my mom's passing. However, it had slipped my attention that during those six months, I had not received a gas bill. On the first week of January, I got a notice in the mail that due to not paying the bill for six months, the gas had been shut off. At five degrees, I knew every water line in the house would burst. I frantically called the city water department and told them to turn off the water.
The girl on the other end of the phone tartly responded, "I can't disconnect the water unless the person whose name is on the bill calls."
"She's dead! I'm the executor of the estate! I need the water turned off!"
"Well, you will have to bring us something official that shows you are the executor of the estate!"
Later that afternoon, having appeased that wench down at the water department, I pulled up at the house. A city water employee was getting into his truck.
"We got it shut off for ya!" he shouted in his good ol' boy accent and drove away.
I went into the house to drain the water out of the pipes. For thirty minutes I drained the water, but it kept coming...a stream about the thickness of a pencil. The water wasn't completely off. I called the wench back.
"The water isn't completely off! It's supposed to get down to five degrees tonight. I need it off!"
"No. It shows the water has been disconnected. It's off."
I held the phone to the faucet so she could hear the water running.
"Well. it's four-thirty. We're all winding down for the day..."
And as one would expect, a pipe in the bathroom burst that night, flooding the entire house.
The good ol' boy from the water department came out the following day.
"Must be a defective water meter. I'll just pull it off and that will stop the water. I know you'll need water when the plumber comes to fix that leak. Just give me a call and I'll put another one on for ya."
Fast forward to last Friday:
The attorney called to inform me they had the paperwork ready but wouldn't close on the house until the leak was fixed. I called the wench at the water department and explained the situation.
"Well, we can't put a meter on until the buyer comes down here and puts up a deposit."
"But we can't close on the house until a plumber fixes a leak and he can't find the leak without water."
"I will have to have a deposit from the new owners, that's final."
Well, it wasn't final. I called the realtor and at exactly 11:40 that morning, the good ol' boy from the water department pulled up to the curb.
"Yeah, just let me grab some lunch and I'll be back at one. Go ahead and call the plumber."
"Okay, but whatever you do, don't turn the water on. You'll flood the house."
I met the plumber at the house at exactly 1:15 pm. We walked into the house, which was flooded because the good ol' boy from the water department had turned the water on. The plumber lumbered out to his truck and came back into the bathroom with of all things, a hammer. He watched me mop the floor for a moment and with one powerful swing, destroyed the wall.
"Let's see if we can find where that leak is." he said in his good ol' boy tone of voice.
An hour later the leak, which he discovered was in the attic after tearing up the bathroom wall, was repaired. I stared at the gaping hole in the wall as the plumber handed me the bill.
"You know of anyone who does sheetrock work?" I asked, thinking surely of all people, a plumber with a hammer might.
"Naw," he drawled in his good ol' boy tone.
Standing in three inches of water, I called the attorney.
"The leak is fixed."
"Just bring me a copy of the plumber's bill. Oh, and you'll have to fix that wall before we can close on the house."
My eyes darted around the tiny bathroom, searching for a hidden camera.
I walked into the attorney's office last Thursday. He was leaned back in a leather chair in typical good ol' boy fashion, his hands behind his head. Sitting upright, he reached toward his desk and handed me a check.
"That's what you've been waiting on." he said in his good ol' boy tone of voice.
"Yeah, for three months," I replied, forcing a smile.
"I'm sorry it took so long. That's just the way things go around here."
"Oh, I know," I responded with a guffaw, "believe me, I know how things go around here."
As I stepped out into the sunlight with a check in hand, my phone rang.
A sultry southern voice on the other end spoke in my ear, "Hi, this is the Ford House. Your car is ready to pick up."
I stared at the check and shrugged it off. I had forgotten about the car.
"Think I'll go down to the Dairy Queen and get a steak finger basket," I spoke out loud to no one in particular in my good ol' boy tone of voice. I let out a sigh of relief as I felt that laid back, easy going good ol' boy feeling sweep over me