Forks

Close up view of a kitchen table fork isolated on a white background.
Close up view of a kitchen table fork isolated on a white background.

The place where I work is a large institution. We have three different cafeterias, in which you can have everything from a sub sandwich to rotisserie chicken to pizza straight out of the oven. It’s a state of the art facility with many unique procedures that have patients driving for hours to get here. In my department, we stay up with the latest and the greatest technologies to support the folks above. We are, literally down in the basement with the facilities management and a morgue. And in this state of the art facility there is one epic fail. Forks!

At this time, you will say that we should be using metal utensils that are washed and sterilized to save the environment. And you would be correct, but as the majority of us, we use their plastic forks. Being here for 13 years, I’ve seen some changes. Once the forks were located in the same type bins as the metal counterparts, sometimes they were just in big old box, where anyone could reach in, touch, sneeze or other things to the other utensils prior to you getting one. Perhaps they thought that was too convenient for employees to get to. Perhaps they were losing money on forks. With the advent of the “new” cafeteria, we got new plastic utensil dispensers.  These monoliths are meant to dispense one utensil at a time, which is great for most people when it works within its operating parameters, but now, after a year, they’ve become worn. Beaten. Some of them now eject two or three fork utensils at a time.

Having two or three forks thrown at you is disturbing.  I think of that scene out of Carrie, when she uses her powers to hurl knife projectiles at her mom.   Most people, shocked, go into a trance and leave the secondary objects lie on the counter, never to be used. After all, who would pick up a fork or knife strewn a counter? Why was it left there? What bacteria has collected from sitting on that hard marble surface? Did it touch the floor? Why didn’t someone just throw it out? How do you know something didn’t just use the damn thing and miss the waste basket?

There are too many questions to ask.   Forks all over the place. It’s like going into a fork battle ground, like those pictures from the civil war with dead bodies all over. I think I should see Abraham Lincoln standing next to the ketchup dispenser reading his address with a solemn face, and top hat in hand to his heart.

These forks have givin’ their all and they must be recognized. Ejected before their time, they lie here as a reminder of once was. Every time we visit this place we should say a prayer, for the brave utensils that made the ultimate sacrifice. This is holy ground.

 

I can almost hear a cafeteria worker crying softly throughout his speech, as she cleans the counter tossing them gently into the waste bin and then reloading a magazine of forks into the dispenser. The magazine empties again and the cafeteria worker loads another. “Is there no God, here Sir?” she says deep in her chest. Sad eyes. Weakened arms as she loads another magazine, and then the forks are gone again. Cleaning the lost souls from the marble, and wiping down with lukewarm water and germicidal bleach solution with a disgusting cloth. Her shift over and she walks home. “We lost many, but it was their finest hour.”

Elevators

-- they are part of a modern building interior
— they are part of a modern building interior

There is one sure thing in life other than death and taxes, and it happens to be Newton third law of physics, in essence, what goes up, must come down. As one meme that I saw this force does not apply to toilet seats. This is definitely true, in the world of elevators, and why I’m concerned at the two that are at my work.

For the last month, they’ve been tagged as out of service at least once a week. Sometimes it has been several days they were out of service. Sure I could go down to another building and ride that one, which is older than FDR, and takes longer to traverse the five floors (4 plus a basement) than an old person with a walker, a pacemaker, and glasses thicker than a Coke bottle takes to cross a sidewalk.  I suppose the other option, God forbid, is to take the stairs, but you know with the advanced arthritis and stenosis in my spine, walking up or down a flight of stairs puts a lot of pressure on my numb feet. I know, WAH WAH!   I should just suck it up, but why should I have to! You are missing the POINT! The elevators!!!

So they’ve enjoyed plenty of services this month, and I’m concerned. I don’t know if you are as freakishly as claustrophobic as I am, but sometimes getting into an elevator I become aware that the walls are coming in. If I’m not wrapped up in some part of the novel I’m writing and don’t stand in the center of the cab, my mind starts to squeeze body into something from a horror movie. Most times I only have to travel one floor, but I’m feeling like Luke, Leia, and Han in the Empire’s trash compactor. I’ve never screamed. I’ve tried to remain dignified, but my mind is like being in Club 54 on acid, popping, flashing, and swirling around in a circle until we all fall down.

These new issues make a simple ride into another type of hell. I’m spinning the roulette and wondering if I’m going to be lucky ones when the elevator decides to stop working. Then the game begins. I can remember one time that I was in the elevator with my co-worker, heading to the second floor, when, the elevator shot to the Attic, I didn’t even know that the elevator has letters? Like a rocket we raced to the top, then we fell back to the ground floor, and then we shot back to the top again. The two of us glanced at each other’s faces, permanently with our jaws locked on the floor and our eyes turning back in our heads. At some point in this pogo stick ride, it stopped on our floor and we jumped out before it changed its mind. I walked cautiously down the stairs for the rest of the day and hid in my cubical hoping the elevator gremlins didn’t find me.

So here I’m sitting, wondering when these elevators will be back in service.   It’s not the wait, it’s more wondering what is causing them to be out of service.   Is it something simple like the a light went out on the button panel or they are needed for testing how long it takes to get from the bottom to the top, or some poor co-worker fell four stories in a free-fall and had to be pried off the floor of the cabin, and environmental services had to bio-hazard sterilize the interior.

Maybe I don’t want to know.

A Month Without a Bloggie-cause

tropical beach nature landscape with white sand at summer
tropical beach nature landscape with white sand at summer

There are few things in my life that I like better than not working. One of them I’m sure you can guess, but I won’t be that obvious. I spend a month without feeding you on any of my bullshit and I see that you’ve taken the hint. The fact that no one is checking in on my website proves that don’t love me anymore and I’m OK with that. My voice comes out in for everyone out there, not just for you elitists. On the other hand, you know I love you all, within reason, after all I do have a girlfriend, you know. Back as far as 600 B.C., in the writings of Sappho, a Greek poet, there is an expression, “Never bite the hand that feeds you.” And so it goes I must feed on your love and not bite.

I spent the month editing my book Mariline trying to get it out my developmental editor, which I did before I went on ‘vacation’ on the 22nd. I put vacation in quotes, as I didn’t really go anywhere. Some might even say, ‘staycation.’ I had some fun, eating at my favorite restaurants, singing karaoke, and sleeping till 7:30 am or sometimes in the afternoon. If I were on a beach somewhere, I would be doing the same things. I guess the only difference is I’m missing the hammerhead sharks, used syringe needles and sand, which I could get anywhere. It was a freedom. Mostly it was a freedom of work which had grown into a six-headed hydra. It kept me from my love of writing over my lunch breaks and causing my blood pressure to rise like a Fourth of July rocket.

I also had the pleasure of aging a year. Forty-seven is not for the faint of heart, I’m telling you from experience. I really didn’t expect my back to feel so crazy all at once after I gained a year. I feel it was lying in wait, just for the clock to tick past 12 AM EST on the Twenty-third. Genetics is a bitch.   I can’t see my parents in the same light now. They have done this to me (and my brother too), and now I must get back at them anyway I know how. “What was that you need help with your walker? Sorry, work keeps me chained to my desk. So sad!” I’m not that bad really. But in my heart of hearts I’d like to be.

So did you miss me? I’d like to think you did. I’m readying my ego for the developmental editor’s report. I need to bank up all the positive things I can so I’m not too devastated. Getting rejections is the life of a writer. I look at other authors and wonder if I could go through so much rejection without being discouraged. I know my first musical, No One Give a Damn, was prostituted out to some places, all of which said no. The only positive from that was one that kept the pilot light burning. The letter and I paraphrase because it was twenty years ago, said that he liked it, but it would be too hard to produce.  I guess that keeps me trying. I never thought I would have written a book, but after two I continue.

I started working on Trinkets, a screenplay I wrote that I’m changing to a book. It’s a serial killer who uses geocaching locations for hiding body parts. I thought about this years ago when a friend of mine was going to one of these locations and almost fell down a well trying to get to the geocache box. That started the brain moving. And the rest, they say is history.

I’ll try to keep up more with these little posts. I know how you like to read them. There are a lot of topics I’d like to cover, but I don’t want to alienate any more of you. Yes, I am a chicken.

Talk to you soon.

Tips

Portrait of young waitress in white blouse holding a tray
Portrait of young waitress in white blouse holding a tray

I am a good tipper. In fact, I find it hard not to give someone a 20% tip. If you are my bartender and make a good drink, gosh, you might just be able to retire. I understand how hard it is to wait on people. I was an employee and a manager for several years at a local Arby’s before I went on to real estate, secretary, PC support, and then on to network/systems administration. People can be disconcerting. People can be downright arrogant. Moreover, for some reason they think they are always right. NOT! However, when the waiter or waitress is just rude for no reason, I would like to know why. I bring this up because of several occasions recently experienced.

 

Kim and her daughter were having lunch at a local restaurant. They perhaps had the gall to order from the all-day breakfast menu at 11AM that caused the older waitress to becoming enraged. She threw their food on the table, and making little mouth ticks and rolling her eyes. Kim first thought that she was having a bad day, but later observed her being extremely polite to everyone else. Between Kim and her daughter, they agreed and walked out without leaving a tip. I do not know that I could do that, and does the waitress really learn from that?

 

Kim and I were at this restaurant about 7PM, a castle looking building located on what used to be a private country club.  The Berks Jazz Fest was playing in the bar room, and we were enjoying being just outside the doorway, getting a measured amount of music just enough to hear but still being able to talk. We waited fifteen minutes, for the waiter to show up, a talk and a gawky teen who appeared to be scared of his own shadow. He took our order, drinks and food and disappeared. We waited and grooved on the slow and fast metered beats and then our food came out with the manager. She set down the food with our questioning looks. “Did you order drinks?” Yes. Back into the bar room she went, and got an iced tea and my martini. “If you want any more, get me, it is on the house.” Then the waiter brought out water glasses, and a tray of bread, excusing profusely. OK, I thought. New guy. First time. I get it. He apologized. The food was good. He got his 20%, but we have not been back.

 

The third incident was at another restaurant. Kim and I arrived at 5PM and were seated quickly. Our friend Alison joined us. The waitress was quick with our drinks, and we waited for food. It was a transitive time. I get it. I watched at help showed up and quickly took their positions. The floor manager came over and apologized for the wait. OK. We at the bread and drank our drinks and eventually the food came out. It was good. We finished and waited. I saw our waitress deliver food to other tables as it came out, and she was busy. However, there were times when she was jawing with the manager or the other waitresses, and totally ignoring my trying to flag her down. We waited 30 to 45 minutes before Kim stopped one of the other waitresses asking for her help. Again, the manager comes over and apologizes and hands us the bill. Didn’t ask if we wanted more drinks. Didn’t ask if we wanted dessert. Alison asked that the bill be split, which he did not. He went back and split the bill. Still our original waitress did not come over, totally ignored us. I am still scratching my head. What did we do? If it was not her table and she was covering, why wouldn’t she continue with it? I do not know. I gave a tip, less than I would have and noted on the bill that it was less because of being ignored.

 

What happened to customer service? I like to go out when I can, and I do not like to feel like I am an inconvenience to the server. I do not care what shit is going on in your life, you are there to do a job, and if you do not, or if you are rude then maybe you should not have it. I must say, Kim and I were out this weekend without incident, reminding me that these incidences are the exception instead of the rule.

Stick a Fork In It

After the many days, months and yes, even years, I’ve completed the ninth draft of my novel Mariline. From here it will go through a program call Grammarly to work out the grammatical kinks that befall even the greatest sage. Then I have been speaking with a developmental editor, which will take their red pen to my words, my baby and with hope will not be too sharp with the scissors. I have to say I am feeling good about this work. I think it stands up with the best writing I’ve ever done, and all that other blah-blah egotistical authors would say. I am looking forward to their review.

Just to give you some background on the novel, it is a paranormal drama I started in 2010 for NANOWRIMO. The plot had been kicked around for many years, although it did not start as a paranormal drama at the time. The elevator pitch goes something like:

 

In suburban Mainline Philadelphia, Carol is the nanny and surrogate mother for Emily, whose parents have died, or so she thought. When Emily is kidnapped, how far will Carol go to save Emily from Emily’s abusive father?

 

That’s the basis, but you guys know it is more than that. We’ll see what happens with the developmental editor.

Spring!

downtown street in springSpring is here! I know that because there is still frost on the grass in the morning, and it is wicked hot in the afternoons.  Flowers are have poked their colorful heads out of the moist and fertile ground along with every worm that had ever lived when the rains come down. It seemed to happen overnight. The trees and grass were once just barren, yellow and caustic and then the next morning, green! The Earth, overnight, had repainted itself.   Colors, now wild and free, sprung to life like a Mother Nature on a twelve hour makeover show.

 

I love the spring. There is so much promise in the spring! Of the seasons, spring is the best. Fall is good also, but spring, pound for pound, has much more to offer. OK, summer has beaches, and that is awesome also, but spring! Spring folks! You cannot do better than spring. Fall has some cool leaves, but it also has a darkness. Winter is just behind that door and could be knocking at any time. If you live in the North, you know how quickly the snow can arrive. Pretty leaves with the chance of a horrible snow or the ability to see colorful flowers blooming and getting to go to the beach? With spring, you can have it all!

Spring is growth. Spring is hope. Spring can be a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. Spring can be a torrent of rain. Spring can be tornados. Spring can be hail. Spring can be violent one minute, and gentle and tender the next. Spring is a slap in the face. Spring can be a glass of water tossed at you. Spring can be an ex-lover that teases and leaves you in a parking lot to watch her go off with another guy. Spring can be a dominatrix that is both cruel and kind. Well, you get the picture.

 

I am so looking forward to enjoying this spring. I look forward to the windows down in my car, riding along on the long and lonesome highway. Wind blowing in my hair! Oh, and PENDOT fixing all the potholes left over from winter. Lane closures. Traffic backups. A giant flashing arrow pointing to the lane that I was in, and I moved, thinking I had to get into the other. Cars honking. The stink of asphalt as they start laying down the new roadway. Oh, did I mention allergies? Yeah, spring is a wonder.

Snow Again, Again

lonely winter roadOn this lovely first day of Spring, God drops the bullshit card, AGAIN. You thought you were getting out? Only six more weeks from your furry friend saw his f*ing shadow? HA! HA! He/She has the last laugh! If you are not in the northeast, then this blog means nothing to you. Your weather, for all I know your weather is like the 86 degrees expecting in Florida or something more presentable for Spring. My brother be damned! I am glad you are trying out your pool for the first time this season. I am stuck shoveling snow. As I watch the white wisps of frozen precipitation outside my window, longing for Bing Crosby singing White Christmas. (cue: record scratch) It’s f*ing Spring! The poor birds have been chirping outside my window since February. They are sick of this fluffy stuff too! Get on with it! Move on to the next season! LET IT GO!

Mother Nature is being a jerk. There is just no other explanation. She is being like a bully on a playground that just took your kickball and isn’t going to give it back until you do something degrading in front of all you classmates. We all need to take a stand here. We need to draw our name in the snow, or something that we are not going to take it anymore from this weather nemesis. Snow is for winter. Spring is for those stupid flowers and rain. No white stuff! OK, maybe getting a free Rita’s Italian Ice today is permissible. We are all built on principles, and I am sure if Mother Nature is reasonable, she will see it our way. NO MORE SNOW OR ELSE! That is just the way as it has to be. I mean what could we do? Stop buying Promise margarine? We could all pretend that we do not care, drive crazy in our 4X4’s, oh, wait, there are people that already do that. Moreover, I pray that they get into an accident. Doing sixty on snow and ice just asking for it. I know that makes me a bad person but just once I’d like them to flip horizontally, say, twelve times, just to shake up their brains. No one else would be harmed in this scenario. In the end, the driver would realize they are a dick. I do not need you to prove to me your masculinity while you torment me driving on my bumper. Yes, I have a small car. I am not over compensating like you in your quad cab, Hemi diesel with four tires on the back, so you can pick up your little princess at dance practice.

However, I digress. Snow go. It is Spring. It is time for green stuff and birds that don’t look like homeless people in New York. And flowers; colors! We need to get rid of the blahs. One other thing, let’s not jump right into Summer. I like Summer when it is Summer, not when it is Spring. Like sex, I need a little foreplay before I go full tilt. Just a suggestion.

Mariline Update

beautiful girl with long hair in dark forest developingHe sat and mulled through the piles of chapters he had already thrown out. “What if I bring back this one,” he thought as he took another sip of coffee. In the early morning of a gray rainy day, everything looked like it could fit back into his story, but after seven drafts he should have it down to just editing. “Every draft is the first draft,” he thought. “Every draft is a chance to bring my story back to life. It had sat moribund for way too long. Mariline must be resurrected.”

 

That’s how I’ve been lately. My book is on life support. Mariline. I’ve written it from several perspectives, but Kim had gotten it right. I need to tell the story that I set out to do. So I’ve been spending time in the mythical Swedesford Township, Pennsylvania hanging out with the Fynn brothers that started this all. I am trying to get into the brother’s heads to better understand them and how to write them better. Also, I am learning to understand Max Benike, police Lieutenant and how they all fit together.

 

It is a story about baggage, people’s history and how it drives us. It is a story about life repeating itself. It is a story of the paranormal influencing our life and contributing to our death.

On the surface, we have a hit and run, something the police understand very clearly.   Benike has been on the trail of a murderer for over twenty years, and he has a new clue to investigate. Behind the scenes an accidental drowning, and how it fractures a father, and the impact on the kids. “We are all born with blood on our hands,” Detective Sergeant, Carla Ruiz tells Benike. “It depends on if we get caught as to how guilty we are.”

Snow Again?

lonely winter roadSnow. Who needs it? I walked out of my apartment this morning at 6:15 AM to see a fresh blanket of the white stuff all over. “WHAT!” I thought. Not having been alerted by cell phone, by the weather man on TV and over the internet you could imagine my surprise this morning. I would have worn warmer shoes! I would have mentally prepared myself beforehand to dealing with slick roads in my newer car before step out the door. Snow? I do not like driving in the snow after smashing my old car a few winters back. I’ve built up anxiety even with just the thought of precipitation. I took a deep breath and stepped carefully to my vehicle. Although the temperature was above freezing the snow remained as a crunch under my shaky legs. From the parking lot, I could tell the snow fall started recently. Two other spots had been covered over with the white stuff. The air was quiet. It was no more than an inch, but it still was a nuisance. I had to clean off my car!

The drive to work was filed with weather as well. There were those that didn’t seem to be affected by the blowing of snow directly toward us. Others like me were bare-knuckled, holding the steering wheel in the glow of the alert signs flashing “Winter Weather Ahead Please Slow Down.” Cars were whizzing past me, kicking up debris in their wake, trying to prove something to themselves. I took it slow, stayed in the lane, and tried not to make any violent control movements. Snow is a strange thing. It can be good and provide a firm base to drive on. Other types of snow can be slick. I think I lucked out venturing out in the beginning and thus missing out on the slicker parts. Taking my time, I did not run into issues although I did see some police cars about my journey. I was fortunate to be on the opposite of the roadway.

At this point, you probably think it was just a little snow. There are worse people out there. So what! I would have to agree. I like snow in movies. I like snow when I do not have anywhere to go, have the fireplace roaring, and snuggled with my honey under a warm blanket inside. Snow outside? Shoveling? Cleaning? Ugh! It is days like this that make me think of how much I will bitch about the heat when it becomes summer. I am not happy with the weather unless the temperature is somewhere in the middle.

I am looking forward to retiring to Key West. Rain I can handle and gentle breezes from the coasts. I look to the future when I can sit in my hammock and stare at the sky as the clouds drift in and out of view. Warmth. Humidity. The day I can leave this cold will be awesome. Will I miss snow on Christmas? We have not had snow on Christmas here in years.   No biggie! I can live without it. I will also not miss the slick ice, cleaning the car, and worrying about making it to work in the morning.

One good thing about today though. After today, there is one less day of winter weather to go.

Peace Sign

victory symbolI like peace as much as the next fellow. In fact, I would like to believe that we would all like to live in peace someday but making a peace symbol in a picture is not going to help. I would challenge that making a peace symbol or victory symbol does the opposite because it has sparked me into a rage.

In all of recorded history, there have been only a few times that someone in the world was not at war with someone. It could start with something simple, or it could be something like wanting to take over the world. Look at all the wars started by religion, politics or control. We never seem to be without dictators pushing and pulling its populous into fighting others.

In the sixties, making the peace symbol was all the rage. Everyone was extending their fingers to make peace. It was a form of greeting or as a means to say goodbye. It got you into the larger movement against the man, the war, or whatever you were trying to rebel. In the seventies, it was still used but it became passe. For me, it was destroyed. Whenever I see it, I see a slightly balding President standing on the precipice of anarchy as he was about to step into Air Force One. Richard Nixon vacated the presidency and handed control to the vice president whom he appointed (Gerald Ford). For me, that symbol represents corruption. It represents an abdication. It represents someone who overused the hand gesture to feel like part of the in-crowd, but was always left out.  In the end, he was permanently left out.

Now it is just ubiquitous. It looks dumb, and it has lost its meaning. Somebody needs to make it mean something again, and we can all use it. It is not the sixties, and it is not the seventies. We are well into the 2010’s, and we need something new for us all to relate. Even the middle finger has lost its meaning. It has been done and overdone. We need something for us to all rally behind. Something to bring us into the know. We all need some gesture that is both simple and universal.

A lot of this country is feeling alienation for whatever the reason. We live in the United States, and because my grade school teacher told me, I know that part of that title means together as one. Like a marriage, we all are not going to get our way, so do not pretend to be upset when you lose, it is all part of the unity. If you do not vote, you have no excuse for complaining. The fact that our government is being run by twenty percent of voter turnout (check your last election statistics) should tell you something. I digress.

So it comes down to this STOP the peace sign in photos. It is outdated, outmoded, and antiquated. If you want to find another mean of conveying the peace thought, perhaps doing something about it would be a start, instead of making another picture of your face.