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 “Usual Suspects”

Throwback Thursday – “100 Years Of Turning Left”

Throwback Thursday – “100 Years Of Turning Left”

Indy 1946

Indy 500 – 1946

AUTO RACING IS BIG, VERY BIG IN INDIANA. This year it is even bigger.

“Why, Oh, why?” I hear someone ask.

The reason is that this year is the 100th edition of the Indianapolis 500 race. This year, as in every other year, 33 cars will tear around the 2.5 mile track for 500 miles – turning left the entire time.

Read more…

There May Be More To This

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE…

The rumor is that tomorrow the nabobs in Seattle will be shipping in a truckload of individual trampolines to help people get out of the congestion during busy times at St. Arbucks.

Either that or they might install those little metal spikes that you see on buildings to keep pigeons from roosting.

Coo…Coo.

I trundled into the Chapel of St. Arbucks this morning and I could tell that the little elves from Washington State had been in overnight and they were busy. Gone was the row of chairs along the front of the store and in their place was a long bench unit. The seat was technically padded, but the padding was more “suggested” than real. Just think of your favorite Hollywood Starlet – looking soft and comfortable, but you know that it’s not real but “enhanced.”

Read more…

Doin’ That Crazy Hand Jive

UH, OH! I SEE A CHALLENGE AHEAD. At least it is not directly involving me.

I learned the other day that one of the Usual Suspects is going under the knife in a few days. It’s nothing life threatening, but according to him it’s worse – he is going to have his golf game taken away for a year.

Why not just cut out his heart?

Read more…

Set It And Try To Forget It.

YOU CAN TELL THAT THEY MUST HAVE SKIPPED BREAKFAST. All those guys wanted to talk about was food. They started out comparing restaurants and moved on to recipes. These guys are eaters, not cookers. They could easily kill themselves if they went into the kitchen. They would either poison themselves or blow the house to Kingdom Come.

The thing is – they are making me hungry and I’m stuck with them, sitting in the corner at St. Arbucks.

I think that part of this discussion of theirs has its Genesis in their desire to break out their backyard grills and destroy some perfectly good meat while they are popping open enough beer to get them all arrested for BUI – Barbequing Under the Influence.

Read more…

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 May 2015 – “The Cake That Wouldn’t Die”

Throwback Thursday from May 2015 

The Cake That Wouldn’t Die

Circus cake

IF YOU RECALL, about two weeks ago there was a posting here called

“Now THAT Was A Surprise Party”

https://johnkraft.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/now-that-was-a-surprise-party/

It all had to do with an effort to do something nice for someone. We should have known better.

For Newcomers and Amnesiacs I will give a brief reminder of the circumstances.

One of the baristas at our local Chapel of St. Arbucks was leaving to go be a circus performer – flying on the high trapeze to be exact. A few of us regulars here (AKA “The Usual Suspects”) decided it would be nice get her a cake for her last day on the job. One Suspect volunteered to assume the task of getting the cake from the nearby Kroger’s Supermarket. This is where it all began to fall apart.

He ordered a cake that was to be decorated with little plastic figures giving it a circus motif. He was to pick it up at 7:30 AM and bring it to the party.

At 7:30 AM he went to the Kroger’s and they told him it wasn’t going to be ready until 7:30 PM. Major Snafu. He showed them the receipt saying clearly “7:30 AM.” They panicked and told him to come back in 30 minutes.

Snafu Number Two

When I arrived at St. Arbucks I was informed that the young lady had decided to blow off her last day on the job. No cake, now no Guest of Honor.

Great. Just great.

Fast forward a few days. Kroger calls our Cake Orderer and says, “Come get your cake, Bucko!” He goes to the store and a confrontation ensues that results in the Bakery Manager chewing out the clerk, the clerk being upset, and Kroger tearing up our bill for the cake. Now the circus cake is THEIR PROBLEM.

Jump ahead to this past Wednesday when our innocent Cake Orderer goes into the Kroger to do his shopping. As he walks past the Bakery counter he clearly hears the same chewed out clerk tell a fellow clerk, “There’s that guy.”

He is now officially, “That guy.”

Unable to resist the chance to throw kerosene on a fire I went into the store yesterday afternoon. I browsed the cakes on display. The aforementioned clerk asks if she can be of assistance.

“Yes, thank you. Do you have any cakes with a circus theme?”

Her back got stiff and her eyes got skinny.

“Who is this for?” she asked.

I gave her a cock and bull story about a coworker leaving. It made no sense, but it seemed to satisfy her.

“”Well, we had a circus cake last week, but not anymore.”

“Can you make another one for me?”

“No.”

I didn’t push the issue. I never argue with someone who is skilled in using kitchen knives.

Last night our original Cake Orderer went back into the store. He spoke with someone else at the Bakery who gave him a behind the scenes glimpse at what had gone down.

It seems that this cake fiasco caused quite a furor inside their little frosting covered world. There is bad blood behind the counter now. I advised my fellow Suspect to do his shopping elsewhere.

All we wanted to do was to have a little going away party for a nice young lady who likes to hang upside down thirty feet in the air and who can make a good cup of coffee. What was wrong with that?

I guess this goes to prove that no good deed goes unpunished.

Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 – There Is Music In The Air

Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 –

There Is Music In The Air

SOMETIMES I THINK THAT HEARSAY IS BETTER than actually being a witness to something. A couple of nights ago was one of those times.

Now, I want to put a Caveat, with a capital C, in play here. The following anecdote was told to me by one of the notorious Usual Suspects. For that reason alone I take it all with a fifty pound salt lick. A grain of salt is just not enough.

Let me begin.

Read more…

Throwback Thursday from Oct. 2015 – “The Oscar Meyer What?

Throwback Thursday from Oct. 2015

The Oscar Meyer What?

20151009_095409

THERE ARE SOME DAYS WHEN THE WORLD JUST SHORT-SHEETS MY MIND.  I don’t take it personally. I know that the rest of humanity’s billions has it happen to each and every one of them too.

Today’s little, “Say What?” happened when I went to the pharmacy and headed back to the car. When I stepped outside I was greeted by what you see in the picture off to the right.

Now, I have seen the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile  before. This must be the Sports Model. It appears to be built on the frame of a Mini Cooper. Therefore I feel awkward calling it a true Weinermobile – it is more of a Vienna Sausage Mobile. An Hors d’oeuvre. Ram a toothpick through it.

Read more…

Not Today, My Friends

TODAY IS A DAY WHEN I NEED AND RELISH THE ROUTINE. I want it to be a quiet day so that I can think about the past, live in my present, and dream about what I see for the future.

I want my day to begin softly with a coffee or two and not much in the way of conversation. To do this I will have to visit St. Arbucks early, do a little writing, and then leave before the influx of Usual Suspects filter in. If I don’t I know what will happen. There will be anger and high blood pressure all around me. Not today, my friends. Not today.

Read more…

Throwback Thursday from Sept. 2015 – “She Just ‘Sort of’ Robbed The Bank”

Throwback Thursday

She Just “Sort of” Robbed The Bank

tripleI WAS CHATTING WITH THE USUAL SUSPECTS the other day when the topic of bank robbery came up. Sometimes they scare me. This bunch of Geezers couldn’t rob the Food Bank, let alone an actual – “Money in the vault, Can I see some ID, please,” type of bank. This group would be called the “Don’t forget to take your meds gang.” Even so, they would be a bigger threat than a person I once knew who really did try to rob a bank.

About ten years ago B.R. (Before Retirement) a female coworker whom I knew and liked working with, called in to her Supervisor one sunny morning. She said that she was going to be in a little late because she “Had some business to take care of.” Little did we all know that her “business” was knocking off a bank.

While I and everyone else at work were getting ready for another day on the job, she was out pulling into the parking lot at a local bank.

From later reports it went down something like this –

My coworker drove to the bank, checked her .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun to be sure it was loaded (it was), got out of the car and walked up to the front door of the bank. At this point things began to fall apart for her.

She pulled the handle to open the door – nothing. It wouldn’t budge. The door was locked. It was locked because, in an effort to rob the bank and still get to work, she got an early start to her day and arrived, fully loaded, before banking hours. The bank wouldn’t be open for another half hour.

There is an old adage that says, “Plan your work and work your plan.” My friend, the would-be bank robber, skimped on the first part of that. If this plan was to be as easy as 1 – 2 – 3 you can’t skip the 2 and go straight to 3.

So, there she is – standing at the front door of the bank, holding her shooting iron, and she can’t get the door to open. It was then that she made the decision to try again another day. Perhaps it was best to just go on to work like nothing had happened. No harm – No foul.

No way.

While she was standing there contemplating her “Plan B” the people who worked in the other bank, just across the street, witnessed this entire fiasco and had already called the Terre Haute Police Department. Terre Haute – that’s French for, “Mama don’t ‘low no bank robbin’ round here.”

Before she could get back to her car and go off to work, she found herself surrounded. It was not even 8 AM and her day was not going to get any better.

Since she never really robbed the bank, they couldn’t charge her with that crime, but they had a list of others to present her with.

It turned out, upon further investigation, that she had lied on her job application – in that part about “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” She had done some hard time a few years back for some other failed misadventure. This, of course, made her possession of the .45 caliber semiautomatic weapon a serious “No – No.” Added to that – she had no Concealed Carry permit for the gun – which was not registered anywhere. At least she did have a valid driver’s license – but the car wasn’t hers.

Fast Forward about three years –

I was tooling up and down the aisles of a store in town when I hear a voice behind me call out, “Hey, John!” This happens a lot to me. It is usually a former client or parent thereof – not this time. I turned around and there was our own local Bonnie Parker Wannabe.

“Hi, John. Remember me? We used to work together.”

Now this was one of those moments when you really don’t want to say the wrong thing. So, of course, the first words out of my mouth were,

“Sure, I remember you. Where you been keeping yourself?”

“Oh, I’ve been out of town for a while.”

Courtesy of the State of Indiana.

I really don’t remember the rest of the conversation.

I always enjoyed working with her. She was friendly, confident, and easy to get along with. Lucky for me she never needed an accomplice.

Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “Randall The Candle”

Throwback Thursday from July 2015

Randall The Candle

candleIN 1997 THERE WAS AN EPISODE of “Law And Order” (An American Cops and Robbers TV show set in New York City) that had a character, an arsonist, who went by the moniker of “Randall the Candle.”

Cut to 2015 in Terre Haute (That’s French for “Change the battery in your smoke alarm.”) and a conversation with one of the “Usual Suspects” during services at the Chapel of St. Arbucks.

The “Suspect” – a former resident of New York City and the son of an NYPD Detective and I were discussing the recent fire at a café across the street from St. Arbucks that destroyed the place within 24 hours of their “Grand Opening.” He hinted that it looked a little suspicious and that maybe “Randall the Candle” was in town.

Egads!

Read more…

How Was Your Morning?

HUMAN BEINGS ARE THE CRAZIEST PEOPLE – and I think I know the zaniest of the bunch. They follow me.

I lived in California for 25 years – the world’s largest open-air asylum, and to put the frosting on that, I resided in San Francisco – Ground Zero for weird.

After all those years in California I moved to Indiana. Terre Haute (That’s French for “We’re gentle people aside from the Meth.”) is the Peoria of the Midwest with good, solid, hard working people who don’t wallow around in being nutty. If this is so why am I sitting next to a guy who would make San Francisco move to another table?

Read more…

If A Tree Falls In The Woods…

fam1FAMILIES ARE AMAZING INSTITUTIONS. Some people can trace their “tree” back centuries into the shadowy mists of time while others seem to have popped up with the most recent rainfall. I think it all depends on how much research you want to do and how much fertilizer you are willing to spread.

Today’s world is one where our lives are very fluidic. People move from one place to another as easily as a mountain stream. Town to Town, City to City, Continent to Continent. Immigration and Emigration are words we hear every day.

Read more…

It Has Been A Slice

pizza1WHO SAYS WE DON’T KNOW HOW TO BE SOCIABLE? We can be just as sociable as any other group of semi-civilized men who spend their Golden Years discussing the important issues of the day: Which was better – “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” or “The Bionic Woman?”

The “Usual Suspects” as I call them, or my “Play Group” as my wife, the lovely and sarcastically fine tuned, Dawn, calls them, hold our meetings in the Chapel at St. Arbucks almost every morning over coffee.

Read more…

Throwback Thursday from December 2015

Throwback Thursday1“Coffee With The Morlocks”

 

TIMESBlue Hair Gif HAVE CHANGED. THE WORLD HAS MOVED ON. I have been left behind. But, really now!

I was up early today. It just happened. So, naturally I crawled down to St. Arbucks earlier than usual. It’s a different place at 7:30 in the morning. It’s like a scene from “The Time Machine.” At 7:30 the Morlocks are out and the Eloi arrive later.

 

It started with me standing in line behind a woman who hemmed and hawed, deliberated and mused before ordering a “tall” black coffee.  (At St. Arbucks, a “tall” coffee is just a hair bigger than a thimbleful.) At first I thought she was doing a “Sophie’s Choice” kind of thing. I’ve gotten mortgages quicker than her decision on a cup of coffee.

After I got my order placed with the young lady, whose eyes told me that she had already downed a half-dozen shots of espresso, I shuffled to the other end of the counter to await delivery.

Most of these people order “Half Decaf, Half Caf, Soy milk, Pumpkin Pie Spice, Sugar-free, with 12 pumps of Hazelnut, Frappuccino,” sorts of things. I order “Iced Coffee with a hit of cream, Thank you.”

As a result, they may be standing there for five minutes while the mad scientist/barista fills their order. While they are huddled in anticipation my coffee is ready in about 12 seconds.

This morning, as I burrowed my way through the twitching mob to get to my coffee, I saw proof that I belong to a different generation.

Standing by the counter was a woman in her mid-30s by my guess. She was dressed for work – a sharp looking gray business suit, low heel, sensible, shoes, and tortoise shell rim glasses. She had the Corporate Executive look going strong. Her brown hair was in a short, stylish, coif. It was also half blue.

Blue.

The back half of her hair was brown, but the front half was a nice, sort of, Robin Egg Blue.

This is a gal who has two lives.

There is her 9 to 5 life with the brown half of her hair along with the gray business suit and then there is the 5 to 9 life with the blue front half calling the shots.

At 11 AM I see her leading a Board of Directors meeting deciding on next quarter’s stock dividend.

At 11 PM I see her playing lead guitar in a Neo-Goth, Heavy Metal, Steam Punk, Dance Band – all the while dressed in Peek-a-Boo black leather lederhosen and seven inch heels.

Visualizing all that at 7:30 AM was a bit rough on me. It was a good thing that I found a seat quickly.

I know that things have loosened up a bit in the corporate world with regards to acceptable dress, make-up, and even tattoos, but where is that line in the sand anymore? As recently as ten or fifteen years ago, anyone showing up on the job with blue hair would have begun their day by putting on a paper hat and firing up the deep fryer.

Oh, well.

Time marches on. Things change. What used to come under the heading of “Anything Goes” in my Wild Oats days would be looked upon today with the question, “Are you, like…in a cult or something?” And I’m sure that in a few years folks will snicker at the gal with the blue hair as looking “quaint.”

But I’ll bet that, in the days to come, it will still take forever to get a cup of coffee when the person in line ahead of you has all the decision-making powers of a squirrel.

Blue Hair 2

Terre Haute Couture

lsd1

Timothy Leary

I KNOW THAT YOU WILL FIND THIS HARD TO BELIEVE, but I am the man who put the “Haute” in “Haute Couture.” I am not the man who put the “Haute” in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “He’s the man who put the ‘Haute’ somewhere else.”)

I can make that confession about Haute Couture because I have kept a clear eye on Fashion trends over the past fifty years. I’ve watched what’s Hot in Haute.

Read more…

The Early Bird Gets The Coffee 

write1I LIKE THIS TIME OF DAY. The sun is not up yet. The only sounds I hear as I step outside are a few birds that are bothered by my presence as I bustle about opening and closing doors and starting the car. I try to be quiet. We do have neighbors after all. 

Read more…

It Couldn’t Hurt

ellaYOU KNOW IT’S A SLOW DAY when the conversation at St. Arbucks scrapes the bottom of the intellectual barrel. An example:

“If you’re in an elevator that’s falling would jumping at the last second before it hits bottom help save your life?”

It got real quiet when one of the Usual Suspects asked that question. I’m not sure if it was a stunned silence or a thoughtful pause to reflect. An answer to that came shortly.

“That depends.”

Read more…

Dalai Lama – Yes. Pauly Shore – No.

coffee1IT’S AN UNUSUAL DAY AT ST. ARBUCKS. It is a little before 8 AM and I am the only worshipper present. The Drive-Thru chapel is doing a booming business, but inside – I’m it.

On most mornings this place is hopping and quite noisy. This morning it is a good place for contemplative thought. Maybe they should put up a new sign out renaming this place as: “The Dalai Lama Coffee House.” Ommmmmmm.

Read more…

Could I Get A Do-Over?

decide1EVERY MORNING WHEN I VENTURE OUT into the wilds of St. Arbucks I make a point of switching on my phone. I log into the St. Arbucks server just in case I need to go online. There might be a call to settle a dispute among the Usual Suspects – “The correct answer is ‘Have Gun, Will Travel’.”

Read more…

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: