Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Saturday, December 10, 2005

All Work & No Play...

Damn, I've been busy. Haven't had time to post in the last few weeks. Really I guess I've been more lazy that busy; but tough shit. I'm sure you struggled on with your lives in my absence. Despite the nagging feelings of rejection and torment that kept you awake, weeping into your pillows at night, you survived. Now I'm back, and you can once again marvel at my razor sharp wit and intellect.

Here's a funny story that was related to me by a coworker. Since April there has been an old man staying in the hospital here. He is a WWII vet with no family that could be found. His admission to the hospital was a necessity due to his advanced age and inability to care for himself properly. I don't know why he chose to live here in Germany, but there a lot of retirees in the area. Perhaps his wife was German and passed on, leaving him alone. The old guy had become a regular fixture on the ward, and I saw him almost daily during the course of my duties. He was always quick to smile at me, even if senillity had robbed him of the knowledge of why he was smiling. I've been told that he is full Navaho, and was one of the original code talkers.

Someone was finally able to track down a distant relative that agreed to care for the old soldier. Arrangements were made for him to travel back to the U.S.A. to live the remainder of his days in the home of family. He was escorted back to the states by a young soldier from the hospital that spoke Navaho. The two had become friends and spent many hours together during his stay in the hospital. When the plane landed, the old man was greeted with a hero's welcome. He was met at the air terminal by George W. Bush. He was congratulated on his finally completed journey home as the president shook his hand.

I'm told that he looked Bush in the eye, smiling as always, and said.

"Thank you very much. Who are you?"

Monday, November 21, 2005

No Diploma Required

Ever wonder how some people survive to adulthood? It seems that modern society strives to keep stupid people alive to fill jobs that smart people refuse to fill. Are we just shooting ourselves in the foot by not killing these people early in life.

This morning, I went to the Burger King here in the hospital to get a cup of coffee. I could tell by the slack-jawed, wide-eyed look on the chick's face that she was normally working at the fry station. It took her almost five minutes to take the the first guy's order, and I'm not so sure that it was done that well by the confused look in her eyes.

"Can I take your order, sir?"

"A large coffee please."

"O.K. Is that for here, or to go?"

"Uhhh....Does it matter? Are you going to put it in a bag, or something?"

"There is a to-go button, and a dine-in button. One has to be pressed before I can go on."

"Oh. OK then, make it for here."

She reaches over to grab an empty cup, and puts it on a tray. After a few, long, painfully sad minutes she has entered my order in all its complexity into the cash register.

"That'll be 75 cents."

Seeing a perfect opportunity to give her an IQ test, I hand her $1, 2 quarters, 2 dimes, and a nickel. She stared into her open hand for a full minute, not comprehending what she was given. Once she was convinced that she had added all the money up, she dutifully put each into its correct receptacle in the drawer. She then typed in the amount that she was given, and hit the button. Like a robot, she looked up at the magic math answer machine. Then she pulled out the same 1$ bill I had just given her and handed it back to me with a well practiced smile.

"Have a nice day sir."

"You too." I grabbed my cup and turned to go.

"Sir! You forgot your tray."

"That's alright, I don't need a tray. I decided to drink it at my desk."

"But...But...Can you put it over there for me?" She pointed at the little stack of used trays on top of the trash can. "We can't reuse trays."

Laughing outloud, I picked up the tray in front of her. The same tray that had not touched human hands other than hers, and placed it on the stack, after emptying the paper liner into the trash of course.

Sometimes I think our species is doomed.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

My son is currently obsessed with a DVD collection of Christmas movies. Kids go through phases where they will watch the same movies repeatedly. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. Ethan's current fixation on those old movies, the ones we used to only get to watch DURING the holiday season, brings back memories of years past. Times when the magic of a holiday such as Christmas was real. Times when my father's twisted sense of humor scarred my sisters and I into adulthood.

I don't remember my exact age, but I would guess that I was about six or seven years old. We lived in an old farmhouse in the country, our nearest neighbor being a mile or more away across open cornfields. Our home had the same ominous look as the Amityville house. It's front had a row of windows on the first floor that looked like a grinning mouth, full of teeth. The second floor showed two windows that made eyes. Long covered porches ran the full length of the front and back, with roofs that allowed daring children to move from one bedroom to another by scrambling across their shingled surfaces. Chimneys appeared as symmetrical horns from the top of the house, belching wood smoke to the sky in the winter months.

In those days my father hated beer, as I have noted here in the past. My mother always brought the stuff home, and being the guy he was, my father had no choice but to drink it. It was always a valiant effort on his part, he had to dispose of the foul fluid the only way he knew. Often, after long periods of judgment dulling labor, working hard to rid the fridge of beer, Dad attempted to entertain us by disproving all of our weak-minded childhood fantasies.

It was Christmas eve and, as it seemed was always the case back then, a fresh layer of snow had covered everything. We were all sent to bed to lie awake for what might have been hours awaiting Santa's arrival. I can clearly remember staring out my window from across the room. It must have been a full moon because there seemed to be an other worldly light coming from the just fallen snow outside on the roof. The whole world was glowing in anticipation of the coming of midnight, and with it the fulfillment of weeks of dreaming, wishing and begging. Slumber was slow to come. My heart was beating too quickly to allow my mind to grasp hold of the dancing sugarplums I had heard so much about.

As my brain finally felt the first tingles of sleep moving over it, I heard a noise outside. It was a heavy thump on the roof above, followed by another. My eyes snapped open before the first thump had ended. This was the moment I had longed for my whole life. I sat up, looking at the black sky outside. Was it Santa? Another thump had me sitting on the edge of the bed, my legs dangling from the side. The sound of jingling bells slipped into my room from outside, sending my heart into a dangerously rapid pace. A final thump on the roof threw me to my feet, silently running across the cold hardwood toward the window.

Three feet shy of the window, I heard a thunderous BOOM from outside. I stopped cold. The sill of my frost framed window was just beyond my reach. I was stunned by the totally foreign sound, and could not comprehend what it could have been. From outside, down on the pristine whiteness of the lawn, came the crazed voice of my father. I could hear him screaming maniacal laughter as I stepped closer to the glass and looked out. He was standing in the center of the yard bare chested, wearing only rubber boots and jeans, dancing in a circle with his shotgun.

"I got that summabitch! I got him! That'll teach that bastard to land on my roof!"

At my fathers feet laid a red velour hat with a fluffy white ball on top. From across the hall I heard my older sister screaming. She always tended to overreact in such situations, even though she was two years older than me. My mother soon rushed into the room to assure us that Dad had not really shot Santa Claus. It was all just a bad joke and we should get to sleep before the real Santa arrived. Sleep was impossible with the sound of one sister sobbing in the next room, and another screaming at her to shut up from down the hall.

I am often tempted to inject such memories into the fragile young minds of my children; but Mrs. Denotsko always talks me out of it. What harm could come from it though? I turned out fine. Right? Right?