Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018

Archive for the category “Coffee”

The Games People Play

 

THINGS ARE GETTING COMPLICATED. Most mornings I go and get my coffee at St. Arbucks. I need that coffee to sustain life, but I am not up to playing all of the games that are wiggled in front of me.

Win! Win! Win!

St. Arbucks’ web site has all sorts of online games, based on purchases and/or “collecting game pieces” that promise to winners that they will get “Starbucks For Life!” If you purchase six million special coffees and a cookie you might be a winner! I just can’t keep up.

Points! Points! Points!

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The Captain

 

IT HAS BEEN AWHILE SINCE I HAVE GONE TO MY OFFICE (St. Arbucks) in mid-afternoon. I’m usually there before sunrise and back home a little after 8 AM. The other day was a little different.

Despite the cold weather some grocery shopping had to be done. I volunteered and after picking up the basic building blocks of modern life (Dr. Pepper and bagels) I dropped into the Chapel of St. Arbucks – the Patron Saint of Jittery People, to say a little prayer and have a cuppa.

In the afternoon it is an entirely different population slumped over the tables. There are a number of students from Indiana State University and a few stragglers from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. The kids from Rose-Hulman will end up ruling the world. The ISU kids will be asking them if they want cheese on their burgers.

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Toe The Line

I AM SO GLAD THAT I AM MARRIED. I don’t think I would fare well in the Dating Game today. I find it a bit scary. No…I find it a lot scary.

This morning I was in line trying to get my opening blast of coffee at the Chapel of St. Arbucks. If I had been a little quicker I would have been at the head of the line but my old and out of warranty legs didn’t carry me fast enough and I was stuck behind a young woman who was ordering something for everyone in the Western Hemisphere. I wish I’d brought a snack. Because the young lady was ordering everything on the menu I had a lot of time to coyly observe.

The woman in front of me was about an inch or two taller than me. She had long blonde hair that framed a very nice friendly face. She was dressed casually, but neat. She had her look together.

That was about it – until she dropped her credit card. When she stooped over to pick it up off the floor a whole new world opened up in front of me.

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Hi, Neighbor!

 

WE HAVE NEW NEIGHBORS! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

The house next door has been empty for several months – ever since the crazies and their dogs moved to Florida. This past weekend a caravan of SUVs, cars, and a van or two began to show up unloading furniture and household goods. I said a silent prayer.

About an hour after the parade of vehicles began, my wife, the lovely and eternally ecclesiastical, Dawn, and I were on our way out. We were just getting to the Toyota when we heard a loud voice coming over the fence.

“Hey! Hey! Hey!”

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I Was Getting Desperate

A FEW DAYS AGO I BECAME CONVINCED THAT THE WORLD WAS OUT TO DRIVE ME INSANE. To start off with I am not yet in the groove with the time change thing that drove my internal alarm clock into therapy.

It was a little after 6 AM (Or was it 7AM?). I was crawling through the door at the Chapel of St. Arbucks (Patron Saint of Jittery People) in search of coffee when I heard an approaching siren that quickly turned into a full blown hook and ladder fire truck. It careened around the corner and came to a halt in front of a Pancake House across the street. At least it wasn’t the Chapel; I would have been forced to wait among the flames for my coffee.

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Throwback Thursday From November 2015 – Grumble, Grumble, Mutiny, Mutiny, Mumble, Mumble

Throwback Thursday From November 2015 – 

 

Grumble, Grumble, Mutiny, Mutiny, Mumble, Mumble

Angry gifMY OFFICE IS CROWDED TODAY. Of course, “my office,” also doubles as a corner table in the Starbucks a few blocks from home. I can usually shut out the hubbub and foot traffic around me, but today, for some reason, it is all getting on my nerves.

Most of the people in here at this time of day are college students. This location sits almost exactly halfway between two schools. On most days they have their noses deeply buried in either textbooks or computers, but not today. Today must be a day after they have gotten their grades or test scores back. It sounds like they all did well.

Rather than studying the majority are socializing (read: putting the moves on somebody) and trying to look and sound like they can read and write in cursive. I’m seeing short hair being combed and patted to keep it in place and long hair being tossed and flipped, almost as punctuation marks.

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I Am Being Productive…Honest.

WELL, HERE WE GO AGAIN. It is 6:30 AM. I have my coffee in front of me and my pen is in my hand…and I haven’t the foggiest idea of what comes next. I know that I should have glowing prose spilling from my brain onto the page. But, as I stare at the empty paper in front of me all I can think of is, “I’d rather be back in bed.”

It took me only five minutes to turn on my phone and check my overnight mail. Most of it was junk. There was one very nice note from a new reader praising a post from last week. That’s always a nice way to start the day. It is certainly better than having some disgruntled insomniac telling me how wrong I am about everything and that my writing style sucks like a ten year old Hoover.

Take a number and get in line. Our Complaint Dept. opens at 9 AM – after my coffee and meds.

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Throwback Thursday from October 2015 – “Halloween, Schmalloween”

Throwback Thursday from October 2015 –

 

Halloween, Schmalloween

OK. THAT SOUNDS A LITTLE CYNICAL, I SUPPOSE. I’m not against Halloween or anything like that. It’s just that it paints me into a corner every year. What kind of costume should I have?  Should I buy something or make it myself? Should it be in good taste or just the usual?

I haven’t gone “Trick or Treating” for years. I finally figured out that people don’t like to part with their Snickers when the bag is being held by a guy with a white beard – a real white beard.

Nowadays I wear a costume when I’m handing out the goodies at the door or when we go to a party. Neither one is as much fun as hitting up the neighbors for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

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Watching On An Afternoon

AH, YOUNG LOVE, WELL, MAYBE CLOSER TO MIDDLEAGE LOVE. The two people had to be in their forties, maybe a bit more. But looking at their eyes and body language they could have been teenagers

If there is one thing St. Arbucks is good for, other than filling up that empty lot on the corner, and the odd cup of coffee, it is that it is a good spot for People Watching. And that’s what I did yesterday afternoon.

I was out and about taking care of some errands and I stopped in at the Chapel on 25th Street for a nice iced tea. I sat over in my usual corner, the better to watch the world.

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Throwback Thursday from October 2015 – “What Am I Looking At?”

Throwback Thursday from October 2015 – “What Am I Looking At?”

What Am I Looking At?

eyechartSOME DAYS YOU HAVE TO GO OUT HUNTING for something to write about. Some other days it walks up and sits down in front of you. Today was one of the latter.

Let me preface this by saying that I have the utmost respect for and hold in high esteem the members of our Armed Forces, both present and past.

But this morning I witnessed something that just flat out bothered me.

I was finishing up my coffee down at St. Arbucks, chatting with a couple of the Usual Suspects when I noticed a tall fellow in Army garb crossing the parking lot. Trailing him by a few steps was a rather scruffy looking young man, arms dangling by his sides and his eyes cast downward.

I said out loud, “Here comes the Sergeant with a new recruit in tow.” I was joking, I didn’t even know if they were together, but – they were.

When they came through the door the Army guy led the younger man to a table near us, sat him down, and handed him a small bundle of papers and a pen.

“Here, fill these out. What are you drinking?”

I watched the young man look over the papers then take out a pair of glasses. When he put them on I could see that they were what we used to call, “Coke Bottle Glasses,” thick, heavy lenses in black frames.

Even with the glasses on he still had to bend over the papers until his nose almost brushed on the table. This did not bode well for his time on the firing range.

The kid (Anybody under forty is a kid to me) worked diligently filling in the blanks. His tongue stuck out periodically to help with the tough parts.

After a couple of very long minutes The Recruiter came back to the table carrying one short cup of hot coffee and one huge Frappuccino topped with whipped cream. As he passed by our corner he glanced at us and smiled. His smile spoke volumes. It said –

“Yes, this just what you think it is and I know that you know.”

He set the whipped cream drink in front of the young man, still busy with the paperwork. Then The Recruiter sat back and began to text away on his phone, smiling all the while.

I turned to my Partner Suspect and said, “This sucks. Would you want to be in a foxhole with that kid? He can’t see worth a darn.”

“Nope. Yup.”

When the new and unshaven Guardian of Freedom reached page three he paused. He lifted his head from the table and located the man sitting across the table from him.

“What does this mean?”

Not to let anything foul up his “Catch of the Day,” The Recruiter got up and, looking over the kid’s shoulder, took the pen and said, “Here, let me help you with that.”

Not surprisingly, the rest of the paperwork went quite quickly.

It took no more than two minutes for every blank to be filled in and every dotted line signed and dated before the two of them were heading out the door. The kid clutched his Frappuccino, but the small hot coffee sat where it was from the start. He had never touched it. It was strictly a prop.

I can’t see how this kid could ever pass the Army induction physical with eyesight like his. I doubt that he could read the big E on the top line of the eye chart.

I understand that the recruiters have quotas to fill, but really now – taking this kid into the Army isn’t doing anybody a favor – except Starbucks, if he keeps bringing his enlistees in to fill out the papers and slurp up the whipped cream.

Throwback Thursday from October 2015 – “One Man’s Trash”

Throwback Thursday from October 2015 –

One Man’s Trash…

THE SUN IS SHINING, BUT THINGS HAVE CHANGED. There is a chill in the air that is here to stay until springtime. This seems to happen every year about this time. Where do I go to lodge a formal complaint?

I know that complaining doesn’t do any good. It is what it is. There is also that AA prayer about changing things you can and not changing the things you can’t ending with, “…and the wisdom to know the difference.”

That is the tricky part.

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Run That Past Me Again

I DON’T MIND IT WHEN PEOPLE ASK ME QUESTIONS. I don’t even mind tough questions – not at all. But what constitutes a tough question often depends on the time of day.

You can ask me for the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything after lunch and I can give you the answer (42). However, if you ask me that before my first coffee of the day and I’d be stumped. Actually, almost any question before coffee is likely to be answered with nothing more than a grunt.

This morning that is what happened to me.

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Places To Go, People To See

 

TODAY IS ONE OF THOSE DAYS when I feel like I could just fold myself up like a road map and put myself in a desk drawer for a bit of a break.

I did get a good night’s sleep, but I don’t think I’m done with it. Everything and everyone is in a fog around me. On some days I’d appreciate that, but not today. I have things to do.

We are going to be heading down to Texas soon and there are a number of things that need to be taken care of beforehand. I need to go to the Post Office to stop mail delivery while we are gone.

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Another Cup? Don’t Mind If I Do.

 

SADDLE UP! GET READY TO RIDE! They are opening up another St. Arbucks here in our little town!

I’ve been hearing the scuttlebutt for some time now, but this morning I got confirmation straight from the horse’s mouth. My pony was the Manager of my usual St. Arbucks Chapel/Roastery.

This new Chapel of the Roasted Bean will be Number 4.5 in Terre Haute (That’s French for “Pass the Half ‘n Half.”). The “.5” is a coffee counter in the Student Union building on the campus of the Indiana State University. That doesn’t really warrant a full status in my view.

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Throwback Thursday from September 2015 – “Don’t Panic! OK, Go Ahead – Panic!!”

Throwback Thursday from September 2015 – “Don’t Panic! OK, Go Ahead – Panic!!”

 

THERE ARE SOME THINGS that Mankind should just not tinker with – Forces ofgiphy-6Nature that, if disturbed, can have cataclysmic repercussions. It is foolish to think that you can control the weather or the motion of the planets. We have tried to go against Nature with things like The Designated Hitter in Baseball or continuing to bankroll Adam Sandler movies and the results have been appalling.

This morning it happened again. I got up, abluted, dressed, made tea for my wife, the lovely and sound asleep, Dawn, and then I headed off to St. Arbucks. When the young barista handed me my coffee she said something that chilled my soul.

“The Power Company has to work on the transformer on the pole outside, so we are going to be without power. We will be closed for about a half hour.”

“When, for God’s sake? When?” I asked her calmly.

“In about three minutes.”

Why not just try to reverse the rotation of the earth like Superman or rewrite the first season of “Sherlock”? Empty the fish bowl and tell the goldfish to chill out for a half hour. Mess with Texas.

There are some things you just don’t do! Don’t spring things like that on me.

With no other choice I skulked back to the car. I sat there as the lights winked out and a poorly written sign was taped to the door. I sat there and sucked on my straw. It helped me to not hyperventilate.

I had my first coffee. I would survive as long as I didn’t panic-sip and “Empty the Venti.” But what about those other poor souls who didn’t get there on time? I sat there in the car and watched a procession of vehicles pull into the Drive-Thru Lane only to see another sign saying, “Closed. You killed my father. Prepare to die!”

Well, maybe it just said, “Closed for thirty minutes. Sorry,” but after seeing the word “Closed” the rest of it must have looked like a death threat.

In just five minutes I saw about 40 cars and trucks pull in expectantly, and then leave looking dejected and desperate. It was more than I could take.

In an effort to save myself I took emergency measures – I went across the parking lot to Kroger’s and did some shopping. I needed some distraction. I took my coffee with me. I wasn’t going to leave it, visible and unguarded, in the car.

When I had made my pedometer click enough, I “self-checkout-ed” and slowly approached St. Arbucks from the rear. It had been thirty minutes at least. It felt like a week chained to a prison TV showing only Benny Hinn.

The lights were still out. “And darkness came over the whole land.” – Mark 15:33.

It was then I remembered that I had received a call from my pharmacy telling me that they had a prescription refill ready for me. Never was I so happy to get more meds to swallow. I have downed enough Potassium Chloride to perform a dozen lethal injections. And now I was going to pick up another month’s supply. Oh, Happy Day!

This time when I returned to St. Arbucks I could see from a distance that THERE WAS LIGHT, and parked cars, and a long line in the Drive-Thru Lane. Life as we know it had returned.

I wept a little.

I took my last sip from my original coffee and went inside to claim my refill. It was Ambrosia. It was Nectar of the Gods. It was Iced Coffee, a splash of cream, but unsweetened – the way Nature intended.

I wish that they had posted a warning about this shutdown a week or so ahead of time. I could have prepared myself – driven to the Auxiliary Chapel in the south end of town, or taken a sleeping pill to just miss the whole thing.

Plans are already being made to deal with a scheduled two-week shutdown in November when they close for remodeling. So far, the best option for that time is a two week sabbatical to Seattle.

Throwback Thursday from September 2015 –”Downwind Of Upstage Is No Place To Be”

Throwback Thursday from September 2015 –”Downwind Of Upstage Is No Place To Be” 

 

 

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THERE IS A GOOD REASON my wife, the lovely and unfailingly perceptive, Dawn, calls my trips to St. Arbucks, along with, “The Usual Suspects,” my “Play Group.” I admit that there are some days when the maturity level drops below Pre-School closing in on Pre-Natal.

For several days now the main topic of conversation among the group has centered on the television western series, “Gunsmoke.” This show hasn’t been on the air since 1975. Why this has become important enough to warrant two days of conversation is unknown.

I understand the lure of nostalgia – the being able to share common memories with contemporaries who are now getting along in years. What I can’t understand is why it has become necessary to dramatize scenes from the show – right there in the corner of the coffee joint. It mystifies me and I think it scares some of the staff and other customers.

The conversation seemed to center around one character on the show: “Chester Good” – portrayed by Dennis Weaver, a mediocre actor at best.

“Chester” was the Deputy to Marshall Matt Dillon, played by James Arness and irrelevant to this discussion.

The character of “Chester” was disabled on the show. His character was gunned down in an early episode and for the rest of his time on the show he ran around with one leg, unbending, and stiff as a pool cue.

Week after week he would scuttle around, getting in over his head with the local bad guys. He would then run, after a fashion – stiff leg swinging out like the line on a weed eater, and yelling, “Mr. Dillon, Mr. Dillon, come quick.” Not exactly a showcase for Mr. Weaver’s acting chops, but it paid the bills.

How all of this was remembered by The Usual Suspects in 2015 is where things got dicey.

After describing “Chester” and his “mobility issues” it was determined by one Suspect that more was needed to illustrate his point (Whatever it was). He also thought that it would help if he performed Chester’s lines, but his recollection veered a bit from reality.

The Suspect hauled himself out of his chair and began to stiff-leg it across the floor. Then his dialogue came out, loud enough to reach the back row at the Hollywood Bowl.

“Holy Sh**, Mr. Dillon. Come quick. Holy Sh**!

It was at this point that I tried to hide under a table. I’m positive that “Chester” never said that on network television – ever.

This breach of nostalgia etiquette had the other Suspects trying to force him back in his chair.

“Sit down! You’re going to get us all thrown out of here!”

I peeked around and all of the baristas and other coffee drinkers looked like prairie dogs – alert with eyes wide open, wondering what was happening. Was the big guy with the bad leg going Postal? Was he a threat or merely nuts?

The answer to that particular question was: All of the above. But I’m not being judgmental.

Now, all of this could be written off as a quirky, one-time event, like Ross Perot or World War Two, except that there was an encore performance the next day.

When I arrived on the scene this “Faux Chester” was already wound up like a Joy Buzzer and moments later he was off and running, albeit with a significant limp. I was still near the door, so I just sidled over toward the recycling bin and pretended to be checking that things were being sorted properly.

If this was going to be a daily performance, I told him, he was going to have to join the Actors’ Equity labor union. It was either that or he was going to be hauled off for a 72 hour observation at the Bubble Factory. Personally, I’m voting for the 72 hour gig.

Most days at St. Arbucks are quiet, contemplative even, but this week it was more like being trapped inside bad Community Theater.

Somedays…

 

“HELLO, MY NAME IS JOHN AND I’M A LUMP”

“HI, JOHN.”

That’s how I would introduce myself at a meeting of “Lumps Anonymous.” Some days are like that. Yesterday was one.

I don’t want to say that I had a lack of energy, but I felt the need to put a mirror up to my own mouth just to be sure that I was still breathing. Rolling out of bed was easy. It was the getting up off of the floor that took a while.

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Words, Words, Words

I WANT TO WRITE ANOTHER NOVEL, but right now I don’t have an idea what kind of story to write. I will though.

I WANT TO WRITE ANOTHER NOVEL, but right now I don’t have an idea what kind of story to write. I will though.

It’s a strange thing about ideas. They come by the millions. Some are better than others, but they all are viable to one degree or another. It just depends on the skill of the writer. There are some ideas that could easily be turned into a decent story and there are others that would take a hundred years to open up.

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She Hates Bats

 

IT’S STILL DARK. IT’S RAINING CALICOS AND SCHNAUZERS. When I walked through the door at St. Arbucks I am greeted by the Barista with, “I hate bats.”

There was not much I could say to that except, “And I hate Komodo Dragons. Now, can I get some coffee?”

As I stood there politely paying for my coffee I was presented with a non-stop confession of everything that was making the Barista unhappy. I was waiting to see if I had made her list. I didn’t.

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Look Into My Eyes

YOU KNOW ME. I’m a pretty easy going guy. I really don’t care how you choose to live your life – as long as you don’t scare the dog or foul the footpath. If you want to have blue hair and walk around all day wrapped in aluminum foil like a baked potato I say – Go for it. I’m cool with it as long as you don’t expect me to chip in to help you buy your supply of Reynold’s Wrap.

In my personal opinion, there are too many laws trying to regulate how people want to live their lives. Part of that is because there are too many lawyers, but that is an issue for another day.

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