Just rambling thoughts about anything that happens to be on my mind and that usually isn't much!
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Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Fall of Man

Well I just have to tell you about another Wal-Mart event. Yesterday the Warden told me to pick up some stuff while I was in town. I went through that same old scenario of circling around like a buzzard trying to find someplace to park within a half mile. But I was lucky this time, I found one just a few hundred yards away!! (I should have bought a lottery ticket being that lucky.) I go walking in the front door, grab me a cart and get ready to start hunting.

That’s when it happened. There’s this elderly gentleman leaning on his cart just inside the shopping area shaking his head back and forth.

Being concerned, I ask “Sir, are you alright?”

“Son, this world is coming to naught!” He responded rather matter-of-factly.

“What do you mean?” was my quizzical reply.

With a wave of his arm indicating the whole store, “Look at that! Look how far man has fallen!”

Somewhat perplexed, I asked for clarification, “you mean the size of the store? The amount of stuff in it? We are just getting to greedy?”

“Oh no, nothing like that. Look yonder at that guy standing in the ladies lingerie section with a list in his hand” he said as he pointed. “No doubt his wife has written down a certain size and brand for him to pick up and he can’t find it. Back in my younger years men were men and would NEVER have come to town to buy the wife’s underwear!”

“Look around you! Men every where, pushing carts with list in hand” he continued. “Women are trying to rule the world”.

It was then I noticed that there were indeed a very large number of men holding their list and pushing half-filled carts from place to place. They were reading, selecting, re-reading, re-selecting and then pushing the cart to the next item on the list.

Then he grabbed my shoulder and pulled me close so I could look down his arm as he pointed. “Over there” he went on, “that guy in the women’s hygiene section. Now that has to be embarrassing!” And I agreed remembering a few red-faced times spent in that department also. “All sorts of sizes, shapes and brands. And if he don’t buy the right one, she’ll send the poor guy back to EXCHANGE it!”

“Son”, he continued in somewhat a militant voice, “when women started burning their bras back in the 60’s, men should have took heart and stayed men! We should have put them back in the kitchen! We are letting this get totally out of hand.”

“I remember how it was back then”, he stated in a voice similar to George S. Patton to his troops before the Sicilian invasion, “Men didn’t go to town and shop for the wife. He stayed home and hunted or fished or watched football!”

Well, I must admit, he is beginning to get me worked into being a part of his revolution to over throw women’s rule. I’m nodding my head and agreeing that men do indeed need to take back their rights.

Just at that time, another man walks by pushing his cart full of food with three kids in tow. “See what I mean? Even that has changed! No man in my younger life would have done the shopping AND watch the kids on a Saturday!”

I am really buying into his new radical movement when he gives a heavy sigh, reaches into his pocket and pulls out a list. “Well I reckon I had best get the little woman’s stuff” and begins ambling down the isle towards the ladies lingerie with his cart.

With my militant thoughts of overthrowing another dictatorship now dashed, I too reach into my pocket, pull out my list and head for the feminine hygiene section.


Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Express Lane

The warden called me yesterday while I was out in the territory and ask me to stop at a Wal-Mart. She needed a clip for her phone since hers had broken. No problem, I drive by them all the time, won’t take more than a minute or two.

Well, I pull into the parking lot of a SUPER CENTER and start looking for a parking space. (My goal in life is to find the first non-disabled parking spot close to the door!)

“Wow”, I think to myself, “so many cars out here the place must be full of people”.

I finally find a parking spot at the end of row Z, almost a half mile from the door! Oh well a guy needs exercise!

Finding the needed part is not too much of a hassle and I head for the check out line. 50 check out lanes and every one of them with a line. Then I see it, “Express Lane, 10 items or less, cash only” with only 3 people in line. I nearly run to the lane but a guy wheels a cart in front of me.

I look at his cart and it has to have at least 30 items in it! I give him the “raised eyebrow” look, then look back at the sign, “10 items or less.”

He looks at the sign, looks as his cart, looks at me and SHRUGS!

OK, I am NOT a violent man, so I don’t say a thing. I merely stand behind him and wait patiently. I am SURE the checker will tell him that he has to move to a different lane when he gets there. All the others in the EXPRESS lane have the proper amount of items like myself!

I watch the lady at the check-out reach into her purse and pull out a checkbook!

I look back at the sign, “cash only”!

But being the patient man I am (and non-violent), I don’t say a word. I lean on the candy rack and sigh heavily though, so she is aware of my distaste for her lack of obedience to “the rules”! She senses my displeasure, but continues to write. (I swear I could write a novel in less time than this woman takes to write a check!)

Finally we move forward one spot.

The Express Lane checker now picks up the item this next gentleman has laid on her counter and tries to scan it. No familiar beep. She tries again, different angle, still nothing. She works the thing back and forth, changing angles. Still nothing.

The Express Lane checker now reaches up and pulls on the chain that starts her light blinking which is to summon a manager. Being the patient (and non-violent) man that I am, I simply begin to browse the candy rack. After all, she is doing her job. The light continues to blink. Finally a manager shows up, but not before I have read all the nutritional labels on the 40 different candy varieties.

We move forward one more spot.

The next woman lays her red top (only one item) onto the counter and proceeds to ask if this is available in blue. The Express Lane checker reaches for the “summon manger chain” again!

Being the patient (and non-violent) man that I am, I simply help out by hollering “We need a manager down here!”

The manager arrives much quicker this time, but with security in tow. I am drumming my fingers on the candy rack and stare eye to eye with the security guard.

The lady is helped, receives her top in blue and we move forward another spot.

We are now up to the guy with the 30 items. I wait for the Express Lane checker to send this guy to Wal-Mart purgatory, the “normal” check lane. She doesn’t! She begins to check his items as he places them on the belt.

I am appalled and vow to write Helen Walton, Lee Scott and John Glass a personal letter about this breech of “the rules”. The security guard is still standing there, looking eyeball to eyeball with me, his hand resting on his service revolver.

This Express Lane checker has apparently NEVER been to the “scanning school”. The first item (out of 30) will not scan! Before the Express Lane checker can even reach for the “summon manager chain”, I holler “Manager”!

I see the security guard flip the strap on his service revolver.

I am now freely eating selections from the candy rack and daring anyone to say something.

Each of the 30 items are scanned and rescanned and scanned again, with the manager helping.

Finally, after only 30 minutes in the “Express Lane, 10 items or less, cash only” lane, I approach the belt!

Just as I lay my ONE, single item on the belt and reach for my “cash only” billfold, I over hear the manager tell the Express Lane checker, “you have really done well for your first day. It’s time now for your break.” And then she lay a “Lane closed” sign on the belt in front of my ONE item.

I hate Friday the 13th

Monday, January 2, 2006

New Years Resolutions

As a feed salesman, I need an opening line whenever I call on my customers and prospects. I need something that will open the door to them and help build a relationship. People do business with people not entities. So as I made my rounds last week, my opening line was something like, “Ready for the New Year? Do you have any resolutions?” Most would shrug their shoulders and say something like “same ole same ole”, however occasionally you would come across someone with a resolution of losing weight, keep better records or go some place with the family.

But then I ran into Bud Wilson. His response made me stop and think. The exchange went something like this:

“Hello Bud. Ready for the New Year?” I asked.

“Do I have options?” he asked with a grin.

I laughed and then ask, “got any new plans for this year?”

“Yes” he said rather matter-of-factly. “I plan to hug the kids more often, tell the wife I love her everyday, talk to my folks at least once a week and make sure that I say thanks to everyone that helps me with some aspect of my business.”

Well now I was sort of taken aback with his statement, so I probed a little deeper. “ Will you explain your reasoning on this?”

He explained, “ Suppose I had been a wealthy businessman with offices on the 110th floor of the World Trade Towers in January 2001 and my resolution had been to retire December 31, 2001? Or what if in 2002 I had resolved to take a vacation in May of 2002 and had been driving on Interstate 40 through Webber Falls that morning of May, 26th? Or by a quirk of chance in 2003 I had been walking through a farmers market in Santa Monica when Russell Weller drove into it? Or what if I had planned a Christmas vacation in Sri Lanka for 2004? In any of those cases, my life would have been lost.”

“Well that’s true, “ I conceded, “but a guy can’t go through life worried every minute.”

“Very true!” Bud concluded, “but, I want people remembering me for what I am, not what I want to become or what I plan to do. While it is true you can’t go around worried about life, you should at least leave the major things, such as family, knowing that they were your primary agenda.”

What Bud said stuck with me the rest of the day and I guess still does. He was right. What are your resolutions for the next year?