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 “Usual Suspects”

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.

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

Throwback Thursday from Oct. 2015

The Oscar Meyer What?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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. 

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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.”

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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.

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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’.”

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Meatballs, Mocha, And Mr. Dillon

St. ArbucksTHIS MORNING DOWN AT ST. ARBUCKS the Usual Suspects were deep in conversation. The Heavily Caffeinated Philosophers were arguing about which fast-food chain had the most stores. One said it was McDonalds, another suggested KFC. At least they weren’t discussing something trivial.

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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.

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Throwback Thursday – May, 4 2015

Throwback Thursday 2

Scream, No Sugar

Scream Waldo

 5/4/2015

THE USUAL SUSPECTS WERE DEEP in meditative thought on Friday morning in the Chapel at St. Arbucks when the High Priest (Manager) dropped a bombshell on us. It seems that, following corporate policy, our Chapel will be closing for about two weeks in November. The Bigwigs in Seattle like to remodel every ten years.

I have no problem with the idea of remodeling – it’s just that…

Whatever will we do?

Wherever shall we go for those two weeks?

I now know how Scarlett O’Hara felt when she had to leave Tara

When the Manager told us about it the world fell silent. Birds stopped chirping in the trees. Babies everywhere stopped crying. My Facebook crashed. Someone finally spoke up saying, “It’s the End of Days.” Maybe that’s just what I heard. I think he actually said, “Cool, the joint’s been lookin’ kind of frumpy.”

 What he said really is kind of true. I just hope that it is not looking “kind of frumpy” because of our presence on an almost daily basis. To a large degree this store is a college hangout/study hall and the youngest of the Usual Suspects is 53 years old. Of course, head to head, I think we could take ‘em. We are older and know all the dirty tricks. In Differential Calculus though I’d give them a slight edge – they wouldn’t need Spell Check to get that right.

One of our group was a touch irate, suggesting that they just might want to get rid of us squatting in the corner most mornings. I told him that if that was the case all they’d have to do is drop a few Ex-Lax into his Venti Mocha for a couple of days and he’d be back to visiting with Ronald the Clown who lives down the block.

I guess fate is fate. They are going to remodel. It will be closed for a while and then there will be a glorious Grand Reopening with balloons, music and baristas fresh from Caffeine Rehab. I just get iced coffee, but those people behind the counter down shots of espresso like they were M&Ms. By mid afternoon some of them are so wired you could send Morse Code on them.

Let’s be honest though. Closing this St. Arbucks, for even two weeks is going to be a bit of an upheaval. There are solutions.

There are two other St. Arbucks here in Terre Haute (That’s French for “You can’t get decaf at 2 in the afternoon.). Both of those Chapels are on the other side of town. In LA that would mean a three hour drive, but here that is no more than 15 minutes away – but it’s the principle of the thing – sort of.

I suggested that, for the duration of the remodeling, we adjourn to a locally owned coffee place that is about two blocks away. They make good coffee, they are open early and they have enough room in there so that if someone felt the urge to do some interpretive dancing it wouldn’t be disruptive. That last factor might be a big selling point with the Usual Suspects – Artistic bunch that they are.

This November will be one of those times that try men’s souls. It will be tough. It will call upon us to gird our loins (metaphorically) and to carry on.

This will not be easy for a group of guys who, if this place served alcohol, would be called “Barflies.”

Who Is Having A Baby?

baby 1RONNIE WOOD OF THE ROLLING STONES IS EXPECTING A BABY? No. He and his wife are expecting twins. Ronnie is 68.

The other day I was having a conversation down at St. Arbucks with one of the Usual Suspects about Ronnie Wood – daddy to be.

My guess is that Ronnie has been itching to top Mick Jagger at something for a long time. Ronnie fathers a child at 68 while Mick’s youngest joined the world when Mick was 56.baby 2

Sorry, Ronnie, but Mick, born in 1943, is a great-grandfather. Mick wins.

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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.

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Whatever Will We Do? Wherever Will We Go?

Starbucks party

IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME since I’ve written about St. Arbucks.

St. Arbucks, the Chapel of the Patron Saint of Jittery People is where I officially start my day about nine days a week.

When I arrive I pull into a parking space and stumble into the Chapel and beg a coffee from one of the Barista/Acolytes who run the joint. With my coffee in hand I take my place in the pew next to the other regular worshippers – AKA “The Usual Suspects.”

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