Friday, June 22, 2012

38 memories of wookiee

My best mate Wookiee (aka, Christopher J. Fulaytar) has a birthday today.  I have a card for him, but like a bad friend, I keep losing his address. 

Its worth noting that two of my other good buddies--Mikey and Shawn--also have birthdays today and tomorrow, respectively, but I'll see them on Wednesday, give them the cards I bought them, and probably will leave them notes on Facebook with my birthday sentiments.

But I thought this time for Wookiee, I would give you, the reader, some insight into why I love this big lug.  Actually, many of you won't get many of the references listed here, though each has a story behind it. 

So, in no particular order, here are 38 memories I have of Wookiee, my best mate Wookiee, one for each year of his hairy life.

1) Fruit Wheels Twin Packs.  His cereal of choice.

2) Eating at Denny's once per month.  Its like... our man date or something. 

3) I was trying to use up a roll of film (remember the days before they were digital) and I walked into Wookiee's room and said, "Okay!  Show me mad!"  And he did.  "Okay!  Show me happy!"  And he did"  I took a pic with each emotion... flirty... serious... fun... and when I said, "Sexy", this pic is what he gave me.  Check out those pants.

4) The fact that, as big as he is, I found him one night curled up in the corner of that same bed you see here, playing video games.  His reason?  He saw a mouse.  I left.  I came back around 3am, four hours later.  He was in the same position, telling me, "Dude, I ain't getting up til I know that mouse is dead, or daylight hits." 

5)  For some reason, Wookiee and I liked to perform the 50s classic song "Little Darlin'".  Well, he would lip-sync and I would play the spoons.  And I would not just play the spoons, I would also drum them on anything within reach, which usually meant Wookiee's head was fair game.  One night, our buddy Barrow was spending the night on our floor, and our antics had him laughing so hard he could barely breathe.  He literally opened the front door and hung halfway down the steps to get some fresh air.  It was classic.

6)  His mom and dad are are awesome... they are really, really good people.

7)  His wife Gina is also a great person, helping him produce his spawn, Austin.... and his other spawn, Abby Grace.  Good job, Wookiee.

8) He's been a part of at least half of my moves from one place to another.  Somehow, we finagled him into moving our big Sony Trinitron from The Apartment to The Deuce... and he helped me move from our first apartment to The Cabana.  And when I say helped, many times I mean he's moving heavy stuff and I'm supervising.  That's the way it should be.

9) He used to drive a Trans-Am T-Top.  He is 6'9, so its understandable that you couldn't sit behind him in the backseat.  He had the seat pushed all the way back.  I'm pretty sure his head stuck out of the top of the T-Top itself.

10)  Wrestlemania.  He, Big Tom and myself attended last year's Wrestlemania in Atlanta, an experience I'll never forget, and one of the top four coolest things of all of 2011. 

11)  He took me to see Troy play Central Michigan in the GMAC Bowl in Mobile.  It was my first overtime bowl game (Troy lost in 2 OTs), it was crack ninja cold out there, and our seats were eh.  But Gina, the wife, had given him two tickets to the game, and he called me up to go. 

12)  He booked us a room at the La Quinta.  Not the Marriott next door, or the Hampton Inn on the other side, but the La Quinta Inn.  It was, however, within walking distance of... you guessed it, a Denny's.

13)  We dated the same girl at the same time, he as a freshman in college, me as a senior in high school.  It was absolute hilarity when we discovered this fact some years later.  I'm serious--we laughed for an hour.

14)  Our Halloween party at the Thomas Circle apartment.  He went as "Fulaytar Vader"

15)  In our Three Notch Street rented house, we shared a huge bedroom, complete with a wall gas heater.  When The Wench, his chick at the time, broke up with him, he skipped all of his classes for like, two weeks, sleeping in the room alot.  As a result, our gas bill was over $175.  As a broke college student having to pay for half of this, I had no idea what to do, until he told me he was going to pay all of it because he felt like he was responsible for it being so high.  This is the kind of guy Wook-Fu is.  (she cheated on him, but they got back together soon after)

16)  A year or so later, at our next apartment in Thomas Circle, I get a tap on my window at like, 6 in the morning on a Saturday.  I open the window and see... its The Wench.  "Can I talk to Chris?"  I rolled out of bed, opened the door, and let her in, then went back to bed.  About two hours later, Wookiee opens my bedroom door and says, "I just broke up with The Wench."  Awake now, I said, "Dude, what happened?  Are you okay?"  He nodded and said, "She cheated on me again.  I just said, 'Get out, The Wench'.  I'm cool.  Want to go get some breakfast?"  And we did.  He might have even bought.  And he was fine. 

17)  A teacher, he got a job after graduation in the humming metropolis of Hazelhurst, Georgia.  On the morning he was moving, he had all his crap in a U-Haul, ready to go.  We had breakfast at Julia's in a hotel nearby, and then he said a somewhat tearful goodbye.  It was sad to see him go.  But I'll always remember the sadness of seeing my best friend leave for however long it would be. 

18)  Troy State versus Missouri.  His bachelor party, as a bunch of us bought this ticket to see the 17th ranked Tigers come to Troy, anchored by Heisman hopeful Brad Smith.  Then in an unbelievable night, we watched Troy handily beat Missouri, knock them out of the rankings, kill Smith's Heisman chances and then become the 24th ranked team in the country the next week.  What a night.

19)  Exploring the USS Alabama with Wookiee.  Both of us have connections to the military, so it was great doing something like that with someone who understands it.  If only I hadn't lost all the pictures. Whoops.

20) People don't understand our bromance.  We're very special.  Or some would say. 

21)  The 1996 Olympics.  Yes, The Wench was there, as was the upstairs neighbor, Smokey Steve, but we actually got to see the second incarnation of The Dream Team play--Jordan, Robinson, Barkley and more.  And, of course, we were almost blowed up by the bomb in the park.  That was fun.

22)  The hilarious sight of him, in only his boxer shorts, leaving our apartment and walking up the hill to the parking lot to get the morning paper.  There are somethings you just can't un-see.

23)  One day, I'm reclining in my bed watching TV, and he sticks his head out of the bathroom.  Then we have this exchange...

Wookiee:  Uh, d$... can I ask you a question?
Me:  Sure.  Whaddup?
Wookiee:  When you are in the shower... does the curtain ever... well, does the shower curtain ever attack you?
Me:  Uh... sometimes.
Wookiee:  Okay, just wondering. 

Then he disappears back into the bathroom.  And I cracked up.  And 17 years later, I just laughed out loud thinking about that conversation.

24)  He was the best man in my wedding, and I in his.  Wouldn't have had it any other way.  He was petrified he would lose the ring, and more petrified of the bride's reaction if it happened.

25)  He knows how to break it down.  Like a big, hairy clown.  (and though it looks like pants, I am totally wearing jorts in this picture)

26)  During the Deuce Days, he lived at The Deuce for two summers in a row, and it was awesome watching him immediately integrate amongst all the friends I had here, and become just a part of the group.  He actually had a portable closet he kept in our dining room with all of his close.  And sometimes, because he would get so annoyed with Tommy and Drew playing Tetris until the wee hours of the morning (especially when Wookiee is trying to sleep on the couch), he would hide Tetris.  And THAT was hilarious.

27)  I wrecked my car on the third Saturday in October of 1996.  Fell asleep at the wheel of my old Buick on the way back to Samson, ran off the road and into a telephone pole.  Head snapped forward, face hit the steering wheel, and it caught me in that space between my upper lip and my nose.  Blood spatter on the windshield, and I was lucky I didn't break my nose entirely.  Had stitches from one nostril to the next, and three feet of thin gauze in each nostril.  And I was without a vehicle. And Wookiee, graciously if not begrudgingly, gave up the Alabama/Tennessee game to drive an hour south to Samson, pick me up and take me back. 

28)  Many of my favorite catchphrases somehow lead back to him.  We went rock climbing with Michael Brunson and a few other friends one day, north of Birmingham.  And when the rock climber guy in charge strapped on the harness to Wookiee, it was fastened around his mid-section.  Before the V-shaped harness was pulled tight, the rock climber guy in charge gave caution to Wookiee for any necessary... well, adjustments.  He said, "You may want to make sure and keep 'Sparky' in the 'V'"  And "Sparky in the V" is a phrase that elicits loud laughs even now.

29) So, in the Three Notch House, in our shared bedroom, we both woke up on a Saturday morning around the same time.  Neither of us wanted to get up, so we both went back to sleep.  Around 11, we both woke up again. And then both went back to sleep.  By 1 or so, we had agreed upon a contest... whoever gets up first, loses.  About 515p, I won, when Wookiee had to get up and use the restroom. 

30)  Also in that bedroom, also when we are both laying in our beds, refusing to get up, we are watching TV... it might have been the same day as the sleeping contest, who knows... and the former President Bush is on TV.  The annoucer is saying something political, with a "something something something something George Bush something something."  And randomly, Wookiee pipes up, saying "Yeeesss George Bush".  After I finished rolling in laugher something like 20 minutes later, I wiped my eyes and knew I had something.  And the "Yes" catchphrase caught on big during The Deuce Days.  Its not used as much now, but you'll still hear it from me, or Mikey or one of the guys from time to time.  Yeeeesss Wookiee.

31)  We are riding in the car with a friend of ours, some tiny little vehicle we were stuffed into--me in the backseat because Wookiee couldn't fit... anyway, at the time, Jann Arden had a big hit on her hands with the song "Insensitive", which came on the radio.  I actually really like that song, and was singing along.  Apparently none of us knew the second verse, though, because it was all quiet in the car when Jann Arden sang, "How do you numb the skin... after the warmest touch... how do you slow your blood... after the body rush...", to which Wookiee breaks the silence by saying, "Yeeesss body rush."  I lost it.

32)  Because of our height disparity, people think its fun--and original, to take our pictures back to back.  And this pic is the typical result (taken at the 1995 Farmhouse Fraternity Formal).

33)  We are all sitting around The Deuce one day, plotting on how to get the downstairs neighbors to move out, so we could rent that apartment as well, putting a firemans pole between the two apartments.   I, who worked for a radio station at the time, said, "I'll broadcast subliminal messages that they need to leave!"  Mikey, working at a bank, said, "I'll screw up their finances and force them into bankruptcy!"  Shawn, who worked for the phone company at the time, said, "I'll tap their phones and black mail them!"  Tommy, working in interweb stuff, said, "I can plant viruses in their computers!" 

Not to be outdone, of course, Wookiee, a teacher, yells, "And I'll make their kids stupid!"  I lost it.

34)  The Great Rib Eat-Off.  Tony Roma's, when they were open, offered "endless ribs" for $20 or something like that... Mikey, Big Tom, Wookiee and I went to Tony Roma's to participate in this feast of gluttony.  Well, actually, Big Tom got something else, and I think I went the burger route... but Mikey and Wookiee went at it.  And they ate, and ate, and requested more, and ate and ate and ate.  All in all, they ate 50 ribs.  Each.  Between the two of them, they devoured 100 ribs.  The lead cook came out to meet them and tell them that they went through an entire case of ribs, plus 4.  The other patrons watched in horror wonder. 

This is the actual napkin from that day at Tony Roma's.  I dug it from the upstairs back bedroom, which is
full of random Deuce memorabilia that I've somehow been able to keep... who knows if this will make
it back upstairs.

35)  While typing this, its fitting that my 21st favorite movie of all time, "Major League" is on TV... like myself, Wookiee is a huge sports nut, and a sports movie nut too--he shares my love of "Major League"...

just a bit outside... going somewhere, meat?  about 90 feet... and for the Indians, that's one run on, let's hit? That's all we got?  One goshdarn hit? [Monty: You can't say "goshdarn" on the air!] Don't worry; nobody's listening anyway... up your butt, Jobu... hey bartender, Jobu needs a refill!... personally, I think we got hosed on that call... I can't find it, to heck with it!... this guy threw at his own kid in a father/son game... forget about the curveball, Ricky!  Give him the heater! 

...but he also has a big hankerin' for "Mystery, Alaska", something I will admit I've never seen. That's a bad friend on my part.  Hold on...

...I just added it to my Netflix queue, 7th on the list, in between the remake of "Fright Night" and Disc 3 of Everwood's first season. 

Anyway, Wookiee has an almost obsessive love of the Chicago Cubbies, the Boston Celtics and I believe the Dallas Cowboys.  Being a Orioles/Spurs & Magic/Broncos fan, we always had something talk about--especially when it came to college football. 

Though we love the line, now that we are married, Heywood's line "How's your wife and my kid?" doesn't work as well anymore.  Sad.

36)  You can't help but love a guy who does this to a swimming pool... our buddy Drew called it a "complete phenomena of water displacement." 

37)   At our very first DeuceFest, on June 20th of 2000, we had a karaoke machine... too good to pass up, Wookiee joins the father figure of the group, Mikey's dad Mr. Ken on "stage" to sing a rousing rendition of "My Way".  It was quite a hoot.  And a holler.

38)  I became a Christ Follower in January of 1995. He became a Christ Follower a week later, led by the same guy, Reggie MacAllister. It was thrilling to relate our testimonies to each other, and share in such important spiritual matters as our eternal futures.

And one to grow on...

39)   He's my best friend.  Wookiee truly is.  We've known each other since September of 1993, been friends since April of 1994, and he is my brother in Christ and my best mate. 

Happy Birthday, Wookiee.  Hope I made you proud with this dedicated post, though I'm sure there is something vital that I'm forgetting... Next stop... FORTY!!  Well, 39, but FORTY sounds so much more dramatic. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

more taco bell price wars

Here's the lead up to this story...

I go to Taco Bell a few days later.  Part of it was because I only had 5 bucks for lunch, but a much bigger part now was that I wanted to see if the menu boards had been changed.  I already knew I would be blogging about all of this, so this had the potential to add more to the story.

And, as you can imagine, I was not disappointed.

The same boards were in the same place.  There were two older ladies right ahead of me, and because I was on a time schedule, I was a little fidgety.  Though I wasn't fidgety for this purpose, the older ladies in front of me were kind enough to let me go first, as they didn't know exactly what they wanted.

By this point, I'm just going to have some fun here... I got to the counter and smiled, saying, "I want the Deal #4, please add on a cheesy roll up, and I'd like a Doritos Locos Taco Supreme, no lettuce or tomatoes."  And then I added on, "And I'd like to pay this price [pointing to the promo menu] and not that price [pointing to the other menu three sections down], if you don't mind."

The cashier looked around at both menus, looked back at the screen and looked up again at the promo menu.  "They are two different prices," he observed.

"I know, and I'd rather pay the $1.49, not the $1.69," I said with a pleasant smile.

"Well, I can't do that, because the computer rings it up for $1.69," he started, and I replied, "But you have it on the menu board for $1.49."  He pointed way down to the other side and said, "The price is $1.69, though, cause this one [pointing to promo menu] is old."

Perhaps I should have just paid the 20 cents extra and have been done with it.  Perhaps I should just chalk up the 20 cents as the price for stupid people, or for incompetence, or just as a Taco Bell thing... but no.  Not today.  Not with this.  I'm right.  I don't care about the 20 cents.  I don't care if I pay $1.69 forever.  I just want someone at this stupid fast food place making $7 bucks an hour (too much for some of these guys) to realize that what they are doing is wrong, and somewhat cheating the customer, because until Vivian pointed the other menu out, I had no clue they were two different prices for the same item--seriously, how often do you check your receipt?

"Well, sir, whether its old or not, you have two prices for the same thing, and I'm asking to pay the cheaper price."

"I'll... well, I'll have to get my manager..." he stammered.  I nodded, "That's fine."

While Genius Einstein went to find his manager, I heard the two older ladies behind me with this exchange:

Bertha:  He's right, there are two different prices for that same taco
Batilda: I know!  How stupid is that to leave that up there?
Bertha:  Well, its not his fault they were too lazy to take it down.  He should get the cheaper price.

I smiled, knowing at least I had Bertha and Batilda's support.

Instead of Big Brother Manager, I had Forty Something White Guy come out, and say, "Is there a problem?"

Now, up until now, even though its been a level of mediocre service and slight incompetence, everyone has been at least pleasant.  This guy, however, changed all that.  He didn't want to be there, he didn't like being bothered by something as dumb as a customer being overcharged, and he had this "I'm 44, a shift manager at a Taco Bell on a Tuesday afternoon, where is my life going" air about him.  Don't get me wrong--there is nothing bad about working at a Taco Bell in your 40s, because a job is a job, work is work, and who knows what circumstance led him to be here... but he was bitter.

"Yes sir, I noticed that you have two different prices for the Doritos Locos Taco Supreme, and I am requesting to pay the cheaper price."

Like all the other Bell-hops, he glanced at one board, to the other, and back to the first again.  He looked at the computer, then back up to the menus once more.  "So, you want to pay the $1.49?  The price is $1.69."

"Maybe so, but the menu here says $1.49."

"This is an old menu, sir, and we just haven't taken it down yet."

"Again, maybe so, but there is no expiration date on the promo menu, and because its still up, I think you should honor it."

And then, he said the worst thing possible... he looks at me and said, "Okay.  I can do it for you THIS TIME.  But next time, you'll pay the regular price."

Wait... what?  This time?  Like I'm asking something unreasonable?  Like I am negotiating the price of a taco?  Like I'm trying to wear you down, and I lowballed you for a Quesadilla Supreme by not offering a cent more than $1.08?  This time?  You can do it for me THIS TIME?

I paused for a minute, bit my tongue, and quickly assembled my respectful, yet direct, response.  "Well, sir, until you change the menu, you'll have to do it again, because you are offering this item for $1.49." Seriously?  He'll do it for me this time?

Anyway, it was changed, and my bill went down 20 cents.

My plan is to visit Taco Bell over the next few days and see if the boards are different.  Wanna bet they won't be?  We'll see if Grumpy Manager will do it for me this time again.

PS... I drove by Taco Bell this evening, glancing in the window as I zipped through the parking lot.  Guess which menu boards were still up?  Yup.  I almost went in, not to order, but to just say, "Did you know that you have the same taco up there for two different prices?  Just sayin'..."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

paying the price at taco bell

I do love me some Taco Bell.  Mostly because it's cheap, but in addition to that, the food is pretty good.   Okay, let's be real... its almost 99% because its cheap, and the other 1% or so is because of the food.  Its not that good, but the cheapness of it overrides the not good tasteness of it any day.  Why do you think I go to Krystal's sometimes?  Of course, Krystal's isn't cheap either, when you get more than one or two Krystal's, or toss in a Chik or even a Corn Dog Pup, but still...

Back to Taco Bell.

I'm a creature of frugal habit, and at Taco Bell, I dig on The Deal #4.  Its a burrito with a bag of Doritos and a drink for like, $2.39 or something.  I add on a 99 cent cheesy roll-up and up until recently, I'd add on a regular soft taco for 89 cents and my entire meal tops out at around 5 bucks, tax included.

Lately, however, I've been on this Doritos Locos Taco kick... if you don't know much about it, its simply a regular hard shell taco, yet the shell is made of an actual Dorito, all cheesy and greasy and fattening and everything else.  I'm personally a Cool Ranch Dorito guy myself, so the day they come out with that puppy will be the day I'll be living at Taco Bell, but I digress.

I also enjoy sour cream on my Mexican food.  Tacos are not any different, even when its fake Mexican like Taco Bell... the problem at The Bell, however, is sour cream comes at a premium.  Its 45 cents extra to get sour cream, and they essentially take what must be an actual tea spoon, scoop out a slight dot of sour cream and glop it right in the middle of your taco.  So for your 45 cents, you get two bites of your taco that taste normal, one glorious, sour cream filled bite in the middle, then two more regular, bland bites.  I must also tell you that I ask for no lettuce on my taco, so it really is just a meat and cheese experience.

So the first time I got my Deal #4 at Taco Bell, I added on my cheesy roll up, and decided to try the Doritos Locos Taco... the food was good, as usual, but the Doritos Locos Taco was marvelous.  So the next time, I figured I'd get the same thing, but added on the 45 cent sour cream.  Again, it was awesome, though that one single bite with the glop of sour cream right in the middle was marvelouser.  So, so good.

The next time I visited Taco Bell--mind you, this is over a matter of weeks, lest you think I'm just kicking it Bell School nine times per week--I did something a little different.  I noticed the price of the Doritos Locos Taco was $1.29.  The Doritos Locos Taco Supreme, however, was $1.49.  For you math scholars out there, that's a 20 cent different.  Add the 45 cents to the $1.29 price, and I'm paying $1.74 per taco...

however comma...

...the Doritos Locos Taco Supreme comes WITH the sour cream in that $1.49 price.  And they don't just drip it on in a minuscule amount... nay nay, since the sour cream is an actual ingredient in the recipe, they use that big sour cream tubey thing and smear it from one end of that crunchy Doritos shell to the other.  So this day, I ordered a Doritos Locos Taco Supreme with no lettuce or tomato for $1.49.  How smart am I, right?

Now, what kind of blog post would this be were there not some conflict?  And I'm not just talking internally with stomach issues later, 3 to 5 hours after dinner...

The view, standing at the middle register and
looking at the menus.
About a week ago, I went in with intentions on getting my Deal #4, and this time, skipping the cheesy roll up for two of the Doritos Locos Taco Supreme, minus the lettuce and tomato.  I'm not going to give you the location (Highway 280) of the one I visited, but when you stand at the register, you can look up and dead center to you is a menu panel that says the words "FEATURED: DORITOS LOCOS TACOS", with pictures of the supreme and a few of the tacos in a box.  Below that are your options... the regular ($1.29), the supreme ($1.49) and the box ($5.00).  Its important to note that this is so plainly right in front of you, so remember this.

I don't remember the little 50-something white lady I talked to, but we'll call her Vivian...

Vivian:  What can we get for you?
Me: I want to get a Deal #4 please, and please add on two Doritos Locos Taco Supremes, minus the lettuce and tomato on both.
Vivian:  You know its the lettuce and tomato that make the supreme, right?
Me:  Yes, but it also has sour cream on it.  If I get the regular, its an additional 45 cents for a very small amount.  Or, I can pay only 20 cents more and get a larger amount included.
Vivian:  Oh, okay, I guess that makes sense.

She rings me up, I pay, and then stand off to the side with my receipt.  Had Vivian stopped there, I don't know that this post would exist, because I honestly can't tell you I'd be any the wiser... but she didn't stop there.

As I stood over to the side, she came over and said, "You know, if you wanted to, you could just get a 45 cup of sour cream on the side..." and I replied, "That's true, but then I'd have to put it on the taco myself, and its just easier to take off the lettuce and tomato from the supreme."  She then said, "Well, if you get a couple of them, it would be a little cheaper than the $1.69 price in the long run..." She pointed not to the Featured Doritos menu board, but to another menu board about two sections of the left of middle.

The board also had pictures of the Doritos Locos Taco with "$1.29" beside it, but then it had a Doritos Locos Taco Supreme, not priced at $1.49, but $1.69.

Wait... what?

I stared at this menu for several seconds, then took three or four steps to my right, back to the middle and stared at that board.  I looked down at my receipt, looked back up at both boards, stared again at the middle board searching for something that said "Offer good from -- to --", saw none, then looked back at the other board.  They were the exact same items offered for two different prices.

I looked again at my receipt, did the quick math and realized that I paid the $1.69 price, not the $1.49 price for both Doritos Locos Taco Supreme.

"Um," I asked, "can you tell me why you have the same item offered for two different prices?"

This was taken from the cafe, as they were suspiciously eyeing me after
I snapped the earlier photo.  You can't see the prices, but you can see on
the far left board in the pic, the fuzzy image of the Doritos Locos Tacos.
And on the far right, you can see part of the promo board.
Vivian, who was wiping the counter, looked up at me in confusion.  I continued, "Ma'am, I ordered the Doritos Locos Taco Supreme, for $1.49 each, as you have on the menu.  But you charged me $1.69 for each one, the price on that menu board."

She stepped back and looked at both boards, then back at me.  "Well, how about that?  I guess that's a mistake.  We should probably pull this menu board [the cheaper one] down."

I chuckled, knowing this would be the response, and replied, "Maybe so, but you overcharged me."

Her smile faded slightly, and said, "Well, its $1.69 in the computer, and that's what I have to charge you."

Now, understand, this is not about the 38 cents I would save.  In fact, I told her that I didn't want a refund... but this is about the principle that I, as the consumer, am being overcharged for an item they are offering at a lower price.  Its also important to note I was being very respectful and kept my tone very light while saying all of this, so please don't think I was being a jerk.

"Well, ma'am, first, I've worked retail and fast food in my days, and can pretty much guarantee there is a function on that register to change an amount on an item," I said.  "Secondly, you overcharged me.  You are offering the same item for two different prices, and are charging me the higher price."

"You have a valid point, I'll definitely take it up with my manager."

"Understand, I don't want a refund, but I want you to see that its wrong to show an item for two different prices then charge the higher price.  If you went to a steakhouse and ordered a steak dinner for $12, then saw the same steak dinner on another page of the menu, you wouldn't be happy if they charged you $16 instead of the $12 you ordered."

"You have a valid point, I'll definitely take it up with my manager," she said again.

Knowing that she would forget this entire thing as soon as I was 10 feet from the counter, I said, "Well, may I say something to your manager?"

Her smile was now completely gone, as she walked over to a large black dude in the kitchen.  I heard her say something to the effect of, "I've shown him the price and he wants to pay a cheaper price...", which really annoyed me.

Big Manager Brother came over and asked me, "What's the problem, sir?"  I said, "Well, its not necessarily a problem, but I wanted you to know that you have a the same item for two different prices, and I don't think its right to charge me the higher price, especially when your promo menu doesn't have any sort of expiration date on it."

He looked carefully at both menus for a moment, and then said, "Wow, your right.  Same taco."

I said, "Yep."

He said, "We shoulda already taken this promo menu down."

I said, "Perhaps, but your failure to take it down isn't my fault.  Again, I don't want a refund, but if I come in again, I'll ask to pay the $1.49 price and expect you guys to honor it, if both menus are still up."

He said, "Oh, we will get this down tonight, cause we can't have both of these up..."

Vivian just smiled, somewhat fake, and waited for me to leave.  Yes, I had a valid point.

And I did go back in a few days later.  And here's what happened...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

viktor and his waiting

I love airplanes.  When I was a wee babe, for a time the answer to "What do you want to be when you grow up" was "an airline pilot"... I wanted to work for Delta or American or, at the time, Eastern Airlines, or TWA, or anything else, and it was because I love the concept of airplanes and flying and such.  Even now, I hope I can sit by the window so I can stare at the ground below, and am usually disappointed if I am in the middle or aisle seat, or on window seat but can't see anything due to cloud cover.

Likewise, I love airports.  I love the hustle and bustle, how thousands of people from all over the country, and even world, come through any given airport at any given time.  Each of those persons has a story... going to see loved ones, or to say goodbye to them... or maybe they already said goodbye.  Going on vacation, perhaps to Disney for the 39th time or the 1st.   Coming back from a business meeting where they struck the big deal... or struck out.  Or maybe headed to that big meeting, hoping that deal gets signed.  Honeymooners or singles getting away.  I love people and their stories.

I love the anticipation of sitting at the gate, and watching our plane pull in, people getting off, and soon, being allowed to get on.  I love touring the little shops in the airports, be it a newsstand with overpriced magazines or a luggage shop or a random market.  I love standing on the moving sidewalks.  I love just walking around.  I've been known from time to time to actually go to the airport, with no flight or ticket, and just walk around. 

I really didn't mean to spend three full paragraphs discussing my love of air travel, but there it is.  So, now I'm going to tell you about a movie I love, then I'm going to tell you what spiritual lesson can be derived from it... let's go, shall we?

Anyway, going along with the theme of air travel is the fact that I also love MOVIES with an airport and airplane theme.  In my top 100 films of all time, THREE with the air travel theme land in the Top 20... there's DieHard 2: DieHarder as my 12th favorite film of all time... there's "Up in the Air" from 2009 landing as my 14th favorite film... and a few spots later, my 17th favorite film of all time, Tom Hanks' 2004 forgotten film "The Terminal". 

I stinkin' love love love "The Terminal"... well, as you can imagine, any movie that is one of 20 favorite films of all time you'd have to love love love.

"The Terminal", directed by Steven Spielberg, stars Tom Hanks as Viktor Navorski, who is coming through JFK airport in New York City in order to accomplish a small project for his late father.  However, while Viktor traveled from his home country of Krakozhia, while in the air, the country erupted into civil war.   As a result, the United States no longer recognizes Krakozhia as a sovereign nation, meaning that Viktor cannot enter US territory.  And since his home country is now in civil unrest, he cannot return home, leaving him stranded in the airport.

This catches the attention and ire of the head of airport Customs Frank Dixon, wonderfully played by Stanley Tucci, who wants Viktor gone so he doesn't have to deal with him.   The Tuch is never evil, he's never a complete jerk, but his character is so by the book, he refuses to show Viktor any compassion, making him a great villian that you really can't hate, but find easy to dislike.

In the months and months and months that Viktor remains confined in the airport, he begins to befriend and even win over most of the employees there, in the shops, in the bars and behind the scenes.  The cast of characters is also great, with a couple of unknowns--Diego Luna and Kumar Pallena--playing airport employees of various capacities, and Catherine Zeta-Jones portraying the stewardess that Viktor takes a liking too.

The movie itself wasn't well received by many critics, and many people didn't think this film was up to snuff with Spielberg standards, but I just loved it.  I think its warm, its funny and Tom Hanks' Viktor is very, very likable.

Now... wait for it... wait for it... the purpose of this entire post... the spiritual lesson I took from this film.  Its in one scene, somewhere close to the middle. 

The Tuch giving The Hanks the business
Frank Dixon figured he needs to get rid of Viktor.  The best way to do that is have Viktor leave... so he walked Viktor to the entrance, gives him some money and says, "You are free to go." Frank Dixon then walks away, back to the offices and turns on the monitors.  Everyone watches as Viktor stands at the entrance, wanting to leave.  Frank Dixon knows as soon as Viktor walks out, immigration will take him and *poof*, problem solved.

Viktor takes a step.  Then another.  Then another.  The automatic doors open.  The temptation of something so simple is right there.  But he knows this isn't the right way, this isn't what he's supposed to do... he steps back, looks at the camera, and says, in broken English, "I wait.  I wait."

I wait.

I think we could all learn a lesson from Viktor.  Wait.  When you know its not what God wants, wait.  Instead of walking through that door into the cold of temptation, taking the easy route, wait.  It might be--probably is--harder to wait.  You want to move forward, you want to go on, heck, it might seem like something YOU think is the best thing... wait.

I wait.

Like Viktor, we should look into the camera, and say "I wait".  Its a patience lesson, one that none of us wants to hear.  Patience is something I refuse to pray for, as that's a prayer request I feel that God will always answer...

Yup, this one has been all over the map... air travel... a film review... and Jesus.  I'm sure you were waiting for this to be interesting.  Whoops. 

Monday, June 04, 2012

more found stuff

As I mentioned yesterday, I dug into a couple of plastic bins that hadn't been opened for 15 years, and contained stuff that hadn't been touched in 20, maybe 25 years.  And here is more of that random crap...

That's right... this pic says "Perfect Attendance".  Since I had no social life, and I so very seldom get sick, I actually didn't miss a day of school from late 8th grade to late in my senior year... and the only reason I missed a day in my senior year was when Chris McCall, Tonya Windham, Stephanie Phillips and I did a campus visit to Livingston University, now called The University of West Alabama.  It was an excused absence. 

And for this one?  It says "Family and Home".  Yes, it was Home Ec.  I had the highest average for like, 3 of the 4 six week periods in Home Ec during my junior year.  I sewed a button on faster than anyone. 

I really don't know why I had this... I've never used an electric razor.  They kinda frighten me.  I'm afraid I'll press too hard and saw part of my face off.  And I certainly wasn't going to start with this little beauty.

Choose your own adventure?!  Yes please! 

Mad Libs!  Admittedly, I wasn't always a Christ Follower, and it was evident while flipping through some of the pages of the Mad Libs 12 book.  Apparently me, Greg Avant and Clay Fulford liked to use naughty words in our Mad Libs.  Maybe in 8th grade, we thought they were cool, or we had just seen Eddie Murphy: Raw too many times.

So this book is called Santa's Magic Mirror, and it was from Avon.  Its this cheez-ball story of Santa's elves and some mirror that had... well, magic in it.  There were three things that stood out about this... first, there is actually a mirror on the last page of the book--but you couldn't give a 7 year old a real glass mirror, so its a flimsy piece of reflective plastic that made you look all funny... secondly, the record, a .45, is a flimsy piece of plastic.  Third, the song that is on that record is horrendous.  I can barely remember the words, but I remember it being catchy when I was 5, terrible now. 

   In this folder of papers contains not only my ACT test scores from all four times I took it (my best was a 27, but had a 29 composite score), but my high school admissions papers and... my enrollment into Samson Elementary School on October 15th, 1984, from Ridgetop Elementary School in Austin, Texas.  

Thanks for humoring me and my box of junk... there's more, but I think I'll end the list here... well, there is one more thing that just blew my entire mind.  More on that later.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

stuff i found at mama's

Anyone from Samson, my hometown, who has seen my childhood home on Johnson Street knows that in the back yard stands an old storage building.  Its not a big building, its shaped like a mini-barn, made of tin and is rusted on all sides in the corners and doors.  As a young child, I even had thoughts of living in this little barn, even though it had no kitchen, no bathroom and no air conditioning, something that is usually pretty key when it comes to summers--heck, even late spring and much of fall--in humid, hot South Alabama. 

In that storage unit, for the last 15 years or so, have been two large plastic bins with some of my stuff in it.  Stuff that I had when I was a kid, books, papers, trinkets, things... just random, random things.

When my Mom died last fall and the house passed to my aunts, my Mama visited the house and grabbed those two bins for me so they wouldn't get tossed or mixed up with other things that would be disposed of.   (if you are confused by the "Mom" and "Mama" in that statement, then read this)

So, in the Easter weekend trip I took with The Lovely Steph Leann and Campbell down to Andalusia, Alabama, it was time to go through these boxes... in the late evening of Easter Saturday, I pulled out the two heavy bins that hadn't been opened in over a decade and a half, ripped off the crusty, dirty duct tape that held the lids on, and opened them up. 

And here is some of the random crap I uncovered...

These little tiger guys... about an inch high, puffy, and silly. 
And you would get these when you got a "highest average"
in a class over the six week period.  I had like, 14 of these
piled up in the bins, though some were pretty ratty.

So, in 2nd grade, at Ridgetop Elementary School in Austin, Texas, we had some sort of school assembly for Cinco de Mayo.  We were doing some sort of re-enactment of the Mexican
revolution or what have you, and naturally, I was on the Mexican side.  And I wore this. 
Don't ask me why.  And also don't ask me why we were doing something to
commemorate Mexico's independence on Cinco de Mayo, when the two are
actually months and months apart. 

For some reason, I have this knack for saving newpaper clippings of various events, disasters, celebrations and yes, deaths.  And here is John Candy, from the March 5th, 1994 clipping in The Dothan Eagle

I've got the newspapers from the Colombine shootings, the 9/11 attacks, last years tornadoes in Tuscaloosa, and in this bin, wrapped up for a 15 years, The Dothan Eagle from the day after Elba's major flooding.
I don't even know how I got this... and I am pretty sure I never read it. 
An original Family Ties story?  Talk about fan fiction...

Did any of your schools have random bands come and perform duing a school assembly, then later on a concert? Free Fare was that band for us.  They came and did a few songs in the gym, then had a concert that night in the same gym.  I was in 8th grade, and went alone because I wasn't that popular.  Looking back, I remember them being a little silly, but at the time, I thought they were cool.  Cool enough to spend the $2 for the hankerchief/flag thingy here.
Oh, you think thats a bunch of crap, wait til the nex post...