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 – 2019

Archive for the category “Dollar Stores”

Digging My Way Out Of Kolaches

 

I’M GETTING INTO A RUT. SOME PEOPLE MIGHT SAY, “KRAFTY, YOU ARE GETTING TO BE AS DULL AS DIRT.”

They’re probably right.

It was just yesterday (if you actually read yesterday’s blog) that I highlighted (highlit?) my day with safari into deepest, darkest Dollar General in search of the Wild Parmesan Cheese. How could anything be less exciting than that?

Quite easily if you are me.

This morning, after dream-filled night fraught with images of me walking in circles and the more I walked the farther away I got from everything, At a couple of minutes after 6 AM I popped into semi-consciousness. With only one lobe plugged in and operating I dressed myself, staggered down the stairs and made a pot of tea…all without any injury or embarrassing fashion faux pas. That gave me hope that things might be on the upswing.

I should have known better.

As I sat there slumped over my mug of tea like an early-morning barstool cowboy my wandering (read: unfocusing) eyes lit upon a shopping list note propped up within my field of vision.

Small Bottle of Bleach

Pepto Bismol

I don’t care what fad diet you may be following in your pursuit of skinny jeans, there is no way in Rochester, Minnesota that mixing Bleach and Pepto Bismol can be a good thing. Just seeing that list at that hour made my tummy-tum-tum do a triple back flip. I tried to ignore it as I submerged myself into my tea. It didn’t work

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Everyone Say “Cheese”

SOMETIMES IN THE MIDDLE OF AN ORDINARY DAY there can be a moment that makes all of the nonsense fade into the background. I had one of those moments yesterday- in the middle of the Dollar Store of all places.

It is a scientific fact that one of universal tasks of men worldwide is to go out and pick up that one item that got left off the shopping list during the trip to the supermarket. Yesterday that straggler was Parmesan Cheese. You know, that stuff that is called cheese, but that I think is really just flavored pencil shavings.

It was getting close to dinner time and the guests would be arriving soon and there is no way we can serve a big pot of spaghetti, sauce, and garlic bread without that plastic container of pencil shavings…er…Parmesan Cheese. That was my call to saddle up.

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Pull The Plug!

 

IT’S A GOOD THING I’M NOT AFRAID OF SNAKES or I would be exiled from the world of modern electronics and Social Media. Not that our little “Pied a Terre Haute” (that’s French for “My feet hurt.”) is the home to 45 rattlesnakes like that dude in Texas had in his home. No – I’m talking about all of the cords and cables that seem to be everywhere charging and connecting all of our phones, Kindles, and computers.

No matter where I turn I am constantly getting tangled up in those skinny little cords. One end is plugged into a wall socket or power strip and the other end is stuck into one of our electronic gizmos. Those little snakes have tripped me up as they lie in wait ready to pounce as I shuffle by. Ambushed I was!

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Clean – Up In Aisle Seven!

IT USED TO BE THAT EVERY TOWN HAD A “FIVE AND DIME” STORE. Well, inflation took care of that. Now we have “Dollar Stores” which vainly attempt to be what Woolworth’s and the others used to be. Until the Dollar General puts in a lunch counter I will not accept them as the worthy heirs.

While there may be a number of Dollar Stores in every town, village and wide spot in the road in the country they are little more than Garage Sales with a neon sign. Much of their merchandise carries labels that I do not recognize – and that does not induce confidence in me. Sorry, but I don’t like “gummi bears” anyway.

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Beware Of The Gaboon Viper

I LOVE TO TRAVEL. I JUST DON’T LIKE GOING PLACES ALL THE TIME. A luxury trip to see the Taj Mahal is one thing. Going to the Dollar Store is something else.

That I can do without.

We are down in Texas, home of the Alamo, the Houston Space Flight Center, and lots of good Barbeque, but am I penciled in for a trip to any of these places? No. I’m being scheduled to be a Bearer on a safari to the Dollar Store.

This whole thing is being presented to me as something special, something once in a lifetime. Really? Yes – because this is the BIGGEST Dollar Tree Store in existence. That must mean that it has Two Aisles with Party Favors and Unknown Brands of Chili Con Carne. That’s my first thought anyway.

Let me compare and contrast my options.

  1. I could go out in the 97°/94% humidity and walk around the largest Dollar Store on Earth – or
  2. I can stay inside with a cool beverage and either get some writing done – or
  3. Sleep

The jury has returned with a verdict!

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Fiction Saturday – “Boxer”  – Part One 

 

Boxer

by John Kraft

 

“Our words and deeds, Good or Evil, are the dishes we put before the Lord.” 

—  Pope Severinus – 640 AD

The light shining in Doc’s kitchen was the only light on in the neighborhood. It would do. It always has before. In a couple of hours things on the street will begin to percolate, but now? Nothing good happens at three in the morning.

“I think your hand is broken, Terry.”

“No, it’s not, Doc. It’s just scraped up a little. I’ve broken it before. I know what that feels like.”

“Uh huh.”

Every knuckle on Terry’s right hand looked like he’d tried to knock down a brick wall.

“I just need you to clean it up, Doc, and tape it to keep the swelling down.” He held out his hand like it was a sledgehammer that needed repair.

 “Uh huh. What was it this time, a bar fight or what?”

“Business. Just business, Doc.”

“I swear, Terry, you get busted up more now than you ever did in The Ring.”

“Yeah, well, I gotta earn a living, right? In The Ring there were rules. Now, not so much. Different rules. I tell you, it gets hard for me sometimes to understand what the rules are.”

The peroxide washed over the scraped and bloody knuckles, stinging like hell. Nobody winced.

“What you need is a tetanus shot. You should go to the clinic for that.”

“They ask too many questions. This’ll do, Doc. This’ll do fine.”

He wiggled his fingers, testing for flexibility, and could he make a fist?

“You know, Terry, that I’m not a real doctor.”

“Yeah, I know. You went to medical school for a year or two. I heard you tell it all to Dutch, my old corner man. I remember.”

“Two years. I had two years of medical school, Terry. That’s all.”

Doc was a tall and sickly looking thin man. Skinny was more like it. His kitchen was his office and, on occasion, his surgery. This morning it was a little of both. He didn’t have a license to practice medicine. That dream died after two years and a weakness for gin. He drained away until all that was left was enough knowledge to pretend. Knowing enough to earn the nickname “Doc” that stung every time he heard it.

The gin introduced him to a different level of the culture and he got himself hired on as a “cut man’ for prize fighters. His job was to stop the bleeding and make things look not so bad when the referee came to their corner to assess the damage.

Doc knows only to blame himself. One night when he can’t hide in a haze he will open a vein and leave the mess for someone else to clean up.

“I can patch you up, Terry, but Jesus, I can’t keep putting you back together forever.”

“I don’t need forever, Doc. I just need tonight. Now tape me up and I’ll go.”

“Boxing is real easy, Life is much harder.” —  Floyd Mayweather Jr.

 

Terry Jarosz, 36 years old and at one time a boxer. Middle-Weight Champion for about five minutes, a punching bag the rest of the time. A guy who struggled with the world of rules and laws.

After too many fights the damage to his body didn’t want to heal up fast enough and he couldn’t get any more matches. Permits were denied and that was that.

A guy who played by the rules in The Ring was thrown out of work by the rules from outside The Ring. He had to make a living.

Terry had to work, but it’s hard for an ex-fighter to find any work that doesn’t call on his only skills – hitting and hurting other people. At that he proved to be better than most.

He took work where he could find it. “Lift this.” “Carry that,” and more and more frequently, “Hit him. Break that.”

When he was in The Ring it was nothing personal. It was two men beating each other for the purse, or a part of the purse, after “expenses” were taken out by half a dozen men who called the shots.

Whatever else he was, Terry Jarosz was known as a hard guy who never took a dive when maybe he should have to save himself. He learned too late that in his world being an honest man paid a lot less than the other kind.

People who knew his name assumed, that because he had been a “Champ,” that he was set financially. But people who knew Boxing knew that money had a way of walking out of the door faster than a Ten Count from a crooked Referee. When Terry “retired” he had less than eight hundred dollars to his name. At least he had his name.

That got him some free meals and a few jobs, but after a year or two he became “Terry who?” Fans moved on and real friends, like always, were few and far between.

Now, working as muscle, collecting debts, it always ended up being personal. Sometimes he knew the men that he was leaning on – again for just a cut of the money. He got 5% of whatever he brought in.

It didn’t take long for word to get around that Terry Jarosz would get rough if you tried to snow him. When he first started working as a collector he was easy to fool. A good sob story and he’d end up buying you a drink or slipping you a few bucks. A couple of weeks having to sleep on a sidewalk heating vent fixed that. He learned that in his new world there was no “Loser’s Purse.” He changed. He didn’t listen to the sob stories any more. He didn’t care if your mother was in the hospital. It was either pay up or tell Momma to move over.

“A man’s gotta eat.” That became his motto.

Errands Must Be Run

BUSY DAY TODAY. I have a list of errands that sort of stacked up while we were down in Texas dodging hurricanes. Some things can only be put off for so long and then they will stand up on their hind legs and demand attention.

I needed to write a couple of checks (I know, I’m the only person in the Western Hemisphere who still writes checks.) and then I needed to go to the bank to deposit a couple of other checks that were in our bundle of delayed mail. High finance on a small scale.

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Throwback Thursday from Sept. 2015 – “Get Well Soon!”

Throwback Thursday from Sept. 2015 –

Get Well Soon!

dead deer get well soonHOW CAN ONE TRULY DEFINE what is, “Bad Taste” and what is not. Just as “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” the same can be said about humor. What one person thinks is funny another may not. In fact, I think you can be rock solid sure that for whatever one person thinks is funny there is another person who won’t laugh.

Such is the case of the picture to the right.

I think it is funny and I’ve had others say that it is “In bad taste.” Of course, if I ask them to tell me the difference, they fall silent.

One person tossed out the “bad taste” thing, saying that the balloon was what made it so bad. I then asked him if it had been a Get Well Card instead of the balloon would they have approved?  That was met with stony silence. That was kind of nice compared to his whining. He was also upset when I said I would have done as much for him as was done for the deer.

Somehow I don’t think he’ll be bothering me again.

Judging from the appearance of the deer I would guess that it had been there for a day or more. The sympathetic balloon delivery person probably had seen it there by the side of the road and made a special stop at a local Dollar Store for the balloon. I doubt that the driver who hit the deer just happened to have the balloon with them. If he/she/it already had the balloon in the car then there was someone in a nearby hospital who probably got a card attached to a salt lick.

Deer are, in many ways, nothing more than big, antlered, squirrels. They don’t pay attention to the traffic and tend to stop and stare at the headlights of approaching vehicles. If that vehicle is a Vespa or a bicycle then the deer has a good chance of making it across the road. If that vehicle is an 18-wheeler Peterbilt… Well, let’s just say that chances are the deer won’t be home for supper.

Earlier this summer my wife, the lovely and with a heart of gold, Dawn, and I drove from Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Get Well Soon”) to Michigan. Along the stretch of Interstate Highway from Indy to the Michigan state line we counted about a dozen deer in need of “Get Well Soon” balloons. All of those deer may have been part of a suicide pact or they were scofflaws when it came to traffic safety.

Someone else suggested that they were all part of a club where they “played chicken” with the cars and trucks. I’d never heard of such a thing until he told me that the first rule of the club was, “Never talk about the club.”

I don’t know how much credence I can put into that idea, except that it would bring a whole new perspective to the old question –

“Why did the chicken cross the road?”

Do You Believe In Miracles?

A SATURDAY MORNING IN THE RAIN. While you are reading this on a Tuesday I wrote it a couple of weeks ago. And it’s raining again. We could seriously use a miracle.

The past two weeks have been very wet here along the Banks of the Wabash – and those banks are a lot closer than they were before all of this rain. We have had over 7” of rain in the last week or so. Everyone and everything are waterlogged. All I can say in a positive sense is – At least it’s not snow.

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I’m Only Following Orders 

ADDITIONALLY HAPPY, ADDITIONALLY HAPPY, MODERATE JOY, MODERATE JOY.

A little piece of the jigsaw of my everyday life has fallen into place once more. About a month ago the Little Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood reopened and yesterday the Dollar Store right next to it has returned to active duty. Both places were hit by a pair of teenage arsonists last August. The little intestinal orifices were caught, but I was in Pot Sticker and Won Ton withdrawal for a long time. Now, praise to heaven above, both commercial spots are open again.

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It Was A Dark And Stormy Night

ONE OF THE THINGS I REALLY ENJOY about doing this blog is the freedom of expression it allows me. Monday through Friday is pretty much of a Nonsense Dance. I can let my “Silly Gene” run wild. Mutations happen.

Each week I know that I can come up with about five things that can make me, and hopefully a few readers, laugh – or at least giggle.

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Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

joy1HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!

The sun is back rising in the east. Up is up. Down is down and Baseball is soon to reappear and…

My favorite little hole in the wall Chinese restaurant is open again. It was closed last August when two “youths” decided to burn down the Dollar Store next door. A brilliant move it was not. Not only did the fire gut the Dollar Store, but smoke and water damage destroyed my favorite little family run restaurant. All of this just a bagel’s thrown from St. Arbucks. But now…

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Flarp

28ea868f-2859-4737-add3-12fa449ec6f9_1-edfc2e689dc9ad33570c7bbd1526ec65IF I SAY THE WORD “FLARP” TO YOU WHAT COMES TO MIND? If you are over the age of 12 probably nothing – I hope. Unfortunately, it does carry a very specific meaning to me and I can blame several children and one adult for that.

“Flarp” is a product that is gloriously described as “Noise Putty.”

Indeed.

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A Fact Finding Mission

boxingWAIT! WAIT! LET ME HEAR THAT AGAIN!

This morning as I was sitting on the edge of the bed, barely awake, and still trying to figure out how socks work, I thought I heard something.

I had the TV on and there was an ad running for a local Terre Haute (That’s French for, “We need more wrapping paper.”) store – a place called Boot City. They sell boots and then some.

Doing the commercial was a young lady (obviously a relative of somebody from the store) and she was doing her best “I’m just a little ol’ country girl” accent. In her best Daisy Duke impression she rattled off a list of what they sold at the store.

And that was where either my brain shorted out or Boot City was branching out.

“We have over six million pairs of boots, and thirteen million pairs of denim jeans. We also have tons of Cowboy Jewelry.” (That alone should have gotten my attention.) Then she added something to the inventory that had me dropping my socks.

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Throwback Thursday – Get Well Soon

Throwback Thursday 3

From September 2015

Get Well Soon!

dead deer get well soonHOW CAN ONE TRULY DEFINE what is, “Bad Taste” and what is not. Just as “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” the same can be said about humor. What one person thinks is funny another may not. In fact, I think you can be rock solid sure that for whatever one person thinks is funny there is another person who won’t laugh.

Such is the case of the picture to the right.

I think it is funny and I’ve had others say that it is “In bad taste.” Of course, if I ask them to tell me the difference, they fall silent.

One person tossed out the “bad taste” thing, saying that the balloon was what made it so bad. I then asked him if it had been a Get Well Card instead of the balloon would they have approved?  That was met with stony silence. That was kind of nice compared to his whining. He was also upset when I said I would have done as much for him as was done for the deer.

Somehow I don’t think he’ll be bothering me again.

Read more…

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