Monthly Archives: June 2015

Crashing into Houses

Google images: carcrashtester.blogspot.comI had some heavy furniture to move from my house, so I rented a truck. The rental company offered a special deal on a 26-footer for the same price as a 7-footer, so I took the big truck rather than the smaller one. I picked it up last Friday.

Hey, I’ve driven heavy vehicles before. I’m not a novice. When I was a teenager I drove a tractor to cut my dad’s grass. And his property had some steep hills. Driving this truck should be no problem, I thought.

And it wasn’t. As I drove toward home I began to feel even more confident. Switching lanes using only the side mirrors wasn’t as difficult as I’d imagined. After driving several miles I was feeling such assurance that I decided to risk pulling off at an exit to buy a bag of pretzels at the Bargain Carb Outlet.

The parking lot was easy. I just parked into two head-to-head spaces and pulled out frontward when I left. The only minor problem occurred when I hit a speed bump too fast and my head smacked the roof.

Oh, I thought, rubbing my pate. I better slow down over the speed bumps.

And when I turned a corner, I bounced over the curb and hit my head on the window.

Oh, I thought, holding my temple. I better make wider turns around corners.

Other than that, I was having no worries.

Until I arrived home.

No one was home. The furniture I needed to load into the truck was in the garage, and I needed to back the truck up to the garage door. Shoving aside any remaining insecurities, I thought, who needs a flagman? I can do this. After all, I have these handy side mirrors!

I looked carefully at the driveway. No vehicles there. No vehicles in the street either. No overhanging tree branches. No other obstructions or impediments that I could see. I pulled the truck forward warily, put it in reverse, and started backing slowly. I cautiously made a wide turn, eyeing the neighbor’s mailbox. I looked back and forth repeatedly to ensure I was lined up accurately. So far so good… Moving back… Back… Almost completely in the driveway now… A little further and…


“What the heck was that!” I screamed. I jumped out of the cab and ran around the truck. I saw that I had backed into my house. The gutter above my garage was crushed and hanging pathetically from the eaves.

Oops. I thought.

I moved the truck forward a bit and went to sit dejectedly on the front stoop. After several minutes I sighed and thought, Oh wellGutters are only necessary when it rains.

In the distance I heard thunder.


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Trapped in the Dumpster Corral

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“Hi, do you have any extra cardboard boxes?” I asked the cashier at the convenience store. “I have some loose items in the back of my car, and I need a box to put them in.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” said the cashier. “I just threw out some boxes in the dumpster behind the store.”

“Oh, that’s too bad,” I said. I paid for my cherry slushie and walked out to my car in the parking lot.

Hmm, I thought. Maybe the boxes are accessible in the dumpster, and I can just drive back there and grab one or two.

I decided to go for it. After all, my son told me he had found some excellent bargains in dumpsters, so I knew dumpster diving wasn’t difficult. The activity can be embarrassing, however, and I’ve heard that in some localities the action could prompt calls to police departments.

I drove around the building. Oh good, I thought. No one is here to see me.

I opened the gate to the 9-foot wooden fenced area surrounding the green dumpster and walked in. This doesn’t appear problematic, I said to myself.

I scrambled up the side of the dumpster and lifted the lid. There at the bottom of the dumpster was the cardboard box. Oh good, I thought. It’s not even smashed. Perfect size for the extra junk in my car.

I leaned into the dumpster. A little more. I little further. I could almost reach it. If I just leaned a little…

Got it!

Wow, I thought, holding my corrugated prize. Thank God I didn’t even fall in! This is my lucky day!

Meanwhile, a breeze had blown the wooden gate shut. The lock on the outside of the fence had latched, and I was trapped in the dumpster corral with the dumpster.

No problem, I thought. I have my cell phone! I’ll just call my wife and have her come get out of here!

There was no cell-phone service available in the dumpster corral.

I stood there for 15 minutes with the sun beating down on the garbage and me. I decided to shout for help.

“Help, help!” I screamed. “I’m trapped in this dumpster area! Can someone come unlock the dumpster gate so I can get out of here?”

No response. There were no employees or customers nearby.

I tried to climb the wall, but there were no handholds.

I shouted some more.

I had left my car running, and eventually I heard it sputter and run out of gas.

As evening fell, the cashier came to throw away another bag of garbage. She awakened me, and I walked down the street to buy a plastic gas container and a couple gallons of gas.

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Ding Dong! Wife Calling

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“Business,” said my wife.

I looked over at her, but I really didn’t have to look to know that she had the phone to her ear.

“Business,” she said again.

Oh boy, I thought. Here we go again!

“Business,” said my wife, a little more loudly this time.

I snickered quietly, turning my head so she wouldn’t see me.

“BUSINESS!” she screamed.

I snorted.

My wife is a frugal person, and I truly appreciate that about her. That’s why, instead of using the usual directory-assistance number on her cell phone, which costs a few bucks each time it’s accessed, she calls 1-800-CHEAP-NOS when she needs a phone number. It’s free.

The problem with 1-800-CHEAP-NOS is that the automated ear on the other end of the phone never understands what anyone is saying to it. Thus my wife must continually repeat herself to get the robo-operator to comprehend and provide the correct number. She becomes frustrated. The rest of the family, however, finds it humorous.

Finally the fake operator understood the word “Business.” I could assume this, because my wife went on to the town name.”

“York, PA.” she said. “York. York. PA. Pennsylvania. PA. No, Pennsylvania. York, Y-O-R-K. No. Y like ‘yellow.’ No, ‘YELLOW,’ I said. No, yes, ‘YELLOW’ like the color. No, not ‘BUTTER,’ you idiot!”

One of the advantages of using 1-800-CHEAP-NOS is that you can insult it without hurting anyone’s real feelings.

By this time the family was gaffawing and looking at one another. My wife continued: “Y like ‘yellow,’ or ‘ying-yang,’ O like ‘ostracization,’ R like… Oh forget it. What? I said “BUSINESS,” not “BUMBLEBEE,” you ditzy flake!”

The reason for my wife’s call was that she was searching for the phone number of the eyeglasses store near our house so she could check on our son’s contact lens order. I got in the car, drove there, checked the status of the order, thanked the receptionist, obtained a copy of our receipt, and drove back home.

I walked in the door and my wife was still on the phone, saying “NO, I said CONTACT LENS EMPORIUM! Yes! No! Not AUDITORIUM, you LABYRINTH BRAIN! And I said ‘YORK,’ not ‘STORAGE!'”

“Sit down,” I told my wife. The Contact Lens Emporium said Biff’s contacts would be ready Wednesday.” I handed her a copy of the purchase order that I had picked up from the store. “They’ll call us when they’re ready.”

It was too late. My wife was on a roll and couldn’t stop. She continued yelling at the robot on the phone. It was getting dark, so the kids and I went out to dinner. We brought home a doggie bag for her.

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Beware the Warehouse

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“Could you direct me to the packing tape?” I asked the woman in the blue vest at the warehouse store.

“Aisle 453,” she said as she smashed big cardboard boxes and shoved them into a compactor.

“Thanks, where’s that?”

“Next to the in-ground swimming pools,” she said.

“Okay.” I wandered through the store, looking for the in-ground swimming pools. Finally I saw them near the mountain department.

I located aisle 453, turned left, and walked toward what I imagined was the back of the store. As I walked, I realized that no one was there. The store was quiet. There were no people. It was a creepy. I turned right into an aisle, then I turned left into another aisle, reading the signs: “airplanes, yachts, railroad cars, toaster pastries…” Where could the packing tape be?

I looked up. Forty feet above me on top of a giant metal shelf, was a sign that said Packing Tape, Discount 900-Pack.

Well, I thought, I don’t really need that much tape, but I have no time to go to another store, so I’ll have to buy this.

I walked to the far end of the aisle to look for someone in a blue vest to help me get the tape. No one was there. I walked to the opposite end. No one was there either. The store had become deathly quiet. Even the piped-in “Duran Duran” music had stopped. All the people had disappeared.

That’s really weird, I thought. Well, I need that packing tape. I’ll have to go get it myself.

I started climbing up the metal shelves. Higher and higher. Up and up. Past huge vats of hand sanitizer, past owl-shaped note pads wrapped in stacks of a 150, past a 1948 replica Remington typewriter.

This is getting scary, I thought as my toes struggled to find footholds on the metal grill shelving.

Finally I reached the top shelf. Gripping the shelving, I read again the sign about the special 900-pack packing tape on sale for $2700.00. Hmm, I thought. I hadn’t seen that price before. I’m not sure I have $2700 on me.

I looked around from my perch atop the shelves. I did not see one soul in the mammoth store. Only rows and rows of soaring silver metal shelves crowded with bulk-packaged products of every description. Carloads of ant traps, stacks of broccoli, cleats, everything one could imagine. I felt dizzy.

I ripped open the plastic wrap containing the 900 rolls of packing tape and took one roll. I climbed down the shelves and left $2.00 at the deserted customer service desk with a note that read, “This was an odd experience.” Then my alarm clock rang and I woke up.


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Coffee Junkie

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Several years ago I managed to kick my habit of killing people, but I’m still addicted to coffee. In today’s atmosphere of societal guilt and health consciousness, I sometimes feel blameworthy for quaffing coffee and not sipping instead some healthy kiwi carrot kumquat concoction for vibrant bones and hair follicles. Heck, I even feel ashamed at times for eating Cheerios with sugar, milk, and bacon bits, because there are too many homeless pets in shelters who can’t afford these breakfast items.

Even though I’ve tried to stop drinking coffee, I don’t really want to quit, so I never try very hard. Let’s be honest. I never try at all. Instead I try to hide my addiction from coffee judgers.

I pour coffee in my blue plastic water bottle and pretend I’m drinking healthful H2O.

I drizzle coffee on my sandwich and suck it.

Embarrassed, I never face the window when I’m ordering four cups of coffee at a drive-through. I always pretend I’m searching for change in the car’s armrest compartment so the cashier doesn’t see and recognize my face and assess me as a habitual coffee Dracula.

I know what you’re thinking. Who cares if you drink coffee? It doesn’t do any harm. If you like it, have at it!

Yes, that’s what I thought back in the days when I cared even less. Now I have read many reports and documents stating that coffee might cause your eyelashes and one of your arms to fall off, and caffeine may even cause your foot to become leaden when you’re driving. Who needs that! Not I!

I also read that coffee makes your tonsils shrivel and your brain oscillate, although I’ve heard conflicting opinions about the tonsil thing.

Long and short of it, my health-conscious side says I can’t risk more coffee. But my go-ahead-and-live-a-little side reminds me that I’ve stopped shooting heroin, so what’s a little coffee going to hurt?

It’s the old coffee angel/coffee devil on the shoulder thing. Some people will just never understand.

Whatever. I drink coffee. I’m addicted, okay? My teeth are stained. My eyelid twitches. My hands shake each morning. I’ll drive 10 extra miles for free cappuccino. In my mind the benefit of nipping fresh hot coffee outweighs any downsides. And life already has enough downsides even without espresso insomnia.

So that’s the way it is. Learn it. Love it. Live it. Like it. Lump it. While you’re at it, make it two lumps… Yeah, coffeeBoom, baby! Let’s PERCOLATE!

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