Those Magic Moments

August 29, 2018 at 11:11 am (Cussed Dumbers, Drunk and disorderly)

Hall of Fame

As I approached the Pink Store, I noticed someone in a ventilator mask doing something to the front-door lock. WTF? It’s 10 PM, and union rules say… As I got closer I saw it was Mrs Brady’s husband behind the mask, with Grinder at his shoulder, supervising. Oh goody.

It was the final stop on the middle day of my three-day weekend, excepting this short shift giving lunches to the stores. I had been rolling along, smooth and sure, didn’t even have to open separate tills, just take over for whoever was working. Piece of cake! But all of a sudden I’m walking into a construction zone full of supervisor-types.

I repeat. Oh goody.

Grinder has risen! After a long bout of office work, he’s back to managing a store. When the city closed The Mothership, Master P bought an old corner store a few blocks away, in the West End. $20,000 in electrical updates later, the store has gone from rickety old bodega to somewhat snazzy snack shop. There was a lot of cleaning and updating to do, and after Southie finished dealing with the construction aspects, Grinder was brought in to pretty the place up.

Grinder is an early-bird, workwise. He gets in, gets his stuff done, and ducks out when possible, but when duty calls in the dark hours, he’s there with minimal grumbling. (The situation he’s dealing with gets plenty of grumbling, but the fact that he has to come out on his off-hours isn’t usually an issue.) He was in an exceptionally good mood this night. I figured it might have something to do with the fact that he was stuck overnight doing heavy physical labor, and the large travel-cup he was not letting go of for any reason. Pure speculation, of course…

I took over Carlito’s till, and made a few sales. Grinder and I chatted amicably; he heard tales of Dr T’s wedding and updates on all the buzz around the Nightclub Store. Igor dropped by, and it was like an employee meeting.

That’s when El Cunte walked in…

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The Overwhelming Emptiness

August 16, 2018 at 11:00 am (Cussed Dumbers)

I love the early quiet hours. At dawn, when shade covers the ground but the sky is alight with the optimism of a new day.

“Can I get a dime for this?”

I’ve always worked at night. I love the quiet and solitude of early morning, and would hate to spoil it by rushing off to work. I’d rather smoke a joint and fall back asleep for a few hours. Stoned thoughts followed by deep sleep, then wacky REM dreams before waking refreshed about 10 AM. Add caffeine to the equation, and I’m mostly ready for work.

Mostly.

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Flight of the Stewl Pigeon

June 2, 2018 at 11:11 am (Cussed Dumbers)

A bird in the hand…

I deal with all kinds of animals at work, mostly the stinky two-legged human variety. Pitbull “service animals,” the occasional rodent, or, the most frightening, cockroaches and bedbugs. (These critters will get us moving; the last time a guy came in with a bagful of cockroaches, we badgered him out of the store forever, and I locked up and ran to Rite Aid for bug spray. WAR!)

A more common interloper, something we are almost used to?

Birds…

I’ve talked about birds before, specifically when referring to certain managers. It’s the perfect metaphor for what happens when Grinder shows up, or when a pigeon walks in.

We get pigeons, seagulls, crows and starlings wandering into the Waterfront Store. Eventually they find their way out. To the best of my knowledge, no bird has died at the Waterfront Store.

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On The First Day of Summer

May 6, 2018 at 4:20 am (Cussed Dumbers, Drunk and disorderly)

Cinco de Mayo; it’s the beginning of our Xmas season.

Downtown is a constant beehive, although the past few years the sidewalk seems to roll up earlier than ever. I could take my break on 5th Avenue, sitting in plain view puffing on my one-hitter, eyeballing the occasional bus or MAX, and only see one or two shopping cart people rifling the trash for empties. That is standard from January through April. Nobody out for the hustlers to hustle.

But once May rolls around? Yeehaw!

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The Seven-Year Itch

May 3, 2018 at 10:40 am (Drunk and disorderly, On the road again..., Sweet sticky things)

“Hello, my name is Charlie and I’m an alcoholic.” And a drug-addict and all-around man-about-town.

I’ve been quiet lately, not feeling like sharing, or much of anything, really. Was dealing with depression issues for a bit, but like in my teens, eventually it evaporated. Depressed about what? Nothing more than the pressures and general shame of life. In the midst of the downtime, I’ve had some fun. It’s just that the fun evaporates as well, leaving me to my own empty (yet way-too-busy) thoughts.

My friends have been there for me. I drop in on Dr T. Dizzy and kitty Naomi are stalwart companions, giving me smiles and support. At work, Igor has risen to the top of the milk jug like fine cream, positioning himself to become manager-apparent. Doing such, we spend lots of time working together. I’d rather teach my boss what I want than have to make them figure it out.

And then there’s Wednesday, my day on the road. Mizelle and Lily show up about 9 AM, smiling and bringing sunshine on the rainiest days. I get up about 6 or 7 AM, putter and get my head ready for driving. Lately there’s been nothing to prep my head with, which leaves me in a weird limbo…

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The Chuck Wagon To Kansas

March 28, 2018 at 3:18 pm (Cussed Dumbers)

“Get out! No! Get out.”

I say that so many times a night. Thieves, scumbags, crazies. If I see them coming through the door in time, I issue a preemptive strike. I start with a normal tone, albeit a bit loud. If I have to repeat myself, I switch to Dad-Voice and project an authoritative “HEY!” that would pierce the tones of Slayer on headphones. It usually involves an argument, “I didn’t do that!” or “That was somebody else!” Once in a while I am wrong, but not too often.

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The Redhead’s Rolling Rock Review

March 15, 2018 at 11:40 am (Cosmic Encounters, On the road again...)

I look forward to Wednesdays. Mizelle and Lily come down from the mountain, and I chauffeur them all over the metro area. One of the perks is the music. The Ford Explorer has a CD player as well as AM/FM, and it gets put to use.

Knowing better than to mess with another’s presets, I clicked around on the radio until I found presets closest to the stations I was after. Preset One, or Preset Five, and four clicks of the search button going right, got me one of the two classic rock stations in Portland.

KGON, to quote Bob Seger, is still the same. I called it the B.S. station. Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Squier, Buffalo Springfield. But no Black Sabbath, unless you count Paranoid. (Or Iron Man, if the DJ has to take a shit.) KGON does play a lot of Ozzy, but mostly Crazy Train and Mama, I’m Coming Home. Sho’nuff, Mr Crowley was playing when I turned on the radio.

So we click button number five, and push seek four times, to find 105.9 The Brew. Basically KGON with more Def Leppard and less Journey. (I stopped Believin‘ a long fuckin’ time ago.) Bonus: Cort Webber from the old KUFO days is the 10 AM-2 PM DJ, so the on-air interjections are humorous and brainier than usual. It’s comforting to hear a voice on radio that has been there for 30 years. From his intern days on the Bill Prescott Show, to the Cort and Fatboy heyday, Cort’s baritone snarkery is a constant favorite. He’s like Portland’s Walter Cronkite, with more nose hair.

Lily helps with musical selection. I try to explain that Pink Floyd isn’t really anti-education as we rock out to Another Brick In The Wall on the way to school. Pink Floyd gets the loud treatment; it was fun watching Lily’s face react as Welcome To The Machine threw itself around the speakers of the SUV. I reassured her it was supposed to sound that way, and the car wasn’t falling apart.

Time, with all the bells and cuckoo clocks, plays nicely in our terrestrial space ship.

Sadly, most of both channels are a playlist unchanged from 1986. Can we put Steve Miller away already? And Bon Jovi? Fuckin’ king of the earworm. I love AC/DC, but all they ever play is Back in Black and TNT. Put on some Soul Stripper or Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and watch the volume knob have an orgasm. Judas Priest is touring again, sounding as good as ever. How about a little love? Besides You’ve Got Another Thing Coming? (I noticed they are playing the song Grinder on this tour. It’s radio-safe!)

Ozzy’s duet with Lita Ford is lovely, but I skip songs about suicide when Lily is in the car. We have some deep conversations. I’m not ready for that one yet.

The past few weeks I’ve been bringing CDs, either off my sister’s “drinking pile” or stuff I’d previously burned for road trips. Lily wasn’t as excited about Blue Oyster Cult as I was, but, judging from her facial cues, she really enjoyed my Paul McCartney and Wings homemade greatest hits. We were the band on the run…

After 12-13 hours, I’m ready to let the eardrums rest for another week. I’m keeping my eyes open, in case Sister unearths another great one. My ace in the hole? When Bohemian Rhapsody comes on, and both Lily and Mizelle are in the car, I’m going full-on Pavarotti.

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Riding With The Manny-Goat

March 6, 2018 at 12:13 pm (On the road again..., Sweet sticky things)

Explorer’s Spirit Animal

Arrgh. 7 AM. Usually when I’m drifting from hard sleep to REM. When the TV gets muted because the ads will keep me awake. (Enough with the miracle spring water, already.) But on Wednesdays I bounce out of bed, as bouncy as this old bag of bones gets, and make a frozen waffle breakfast. Kelly green butter is the first of many pretty colors I will be seeing.

By 9 AM, I am dressed and sitting by the window, waiting for Mizelle and Lily to pull up. Wednesday is road trip day!

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The Mango Shitz

March 4, 2018 at 2:22 pm (Cussed Dumbers)

“Party woohoo!”

Oh, the humanity.

I deal with a lot of downtrodden types at work. I’m given a lot of latitude when it comes to who I serve. Our goal is to serve everyone (legally) and send them away happy enough that they will return to spend more money.

Returning empty bottles is a bane to every cashier. You have to stop whatever you’re doing and go dig through trash, and then pay the stinky disruptor. (It isn’t always that bad, but more often than not.) As of a couple months ago, there’s a dime deposit on damn near every drink bottle in the 8 oz-64 oz range. I love certain aspects of the new system. I redeem my own at work, and am shameless as I collect cans along the way.

But, I don’t dig in the garbage, and I don’t smell awful when I’m done. Others aren’t so blessed.

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“Where Ya Been?”

February 24, 2018 at 12:35 pm (Cussed Dumbers, Sweet sticky things, That's not funny...)

Ya Big Silly!

Hey strangers… It’s Stranger Yet!

Yeah, it’s been a while. I’ve been a negligent blogger, watching life’s moments pass by without stopping to note each one. Been spending a lot of time pondering the universe, and sometimes the thoughts that wander through the brain need time to age, ripen, ferment. Not that I’m any kind of genius. I just needed a break.

Sunshine passed away last week. Rain’s new boyfriend and Sunshine were best buddies, and Rain was crying when she called to tell me. Sunshine had a major case of ass-cancer, and was a hard-living old coot, so it wasn’t unexpected. (Anyone who can smoke three packs of American Spirit full-flavors in a day is living on borrowed time.) How he lasted as long as he did is a tribute to the stubbornness of the human spirit. I’d been holding up okay, but then I saw Werner Klemperer on a Law and Order rerun, and noticed that Werner and Sunshine were dead ringers for each other. (Literal.) I’d thought about reaching out, but our chats lately involved lots of his get-rich-quick schemes, usually needing my financial support. (Sorry Sunshine, you can’t get blood out of a turnip.) The doctors, frustrated with his use of street drugs, cut off his prescription meds and told him to go for it with the heroin and meth. I don’t know if he passed from natural causes, or got a fentanyl hit, but Sunshine has faded into the night. RIP, you giant teddy bear.

I have a sneaky feeling my beloved cousin has also moved on to the next level. He’d not been well, and moved to Arizona. All phone numbers are disconnected, no news whatsoever. I’m going to write him a long letter, in longhand, to tell him goodbye. Whoever says adopted relatives aren’t as close as blood relatives has not met our family. WE decide who is family, and if you burn us you might find yourself unadopted, bloodline or no. You can choose friends but not family, the saying goes. Our best family are the ones we’ve chosen, not those thrust upon us.

A lot of other stuff has been going on, which I will eventually write about. I needed time for life to percolate. Also, there have been major changes at work, and I don’t want to pontificate too much about that in a public space. I love my job at Master P’s, and now, other than the bookkeeper, Grinder and Master P himself, I have been there the longest. Art East is behind me by about six months. Everyone else, my bosses? I’ve trained them all. I’m feeling a bit of burnout, it’s been thirteen years. But I’m not so burned out I’m ready to jump. I took a sick day, creating a four-day weekend, and it was just what I needed. I sat around just long enough to be restless, but not long enough to appreciate being bored. I came back to work a half-hour early, urging Southie to bank those minutes for the next time my bus is late.

It’s been a dark time in my world. Ain’t no Sunshine to brighten it up. It will be a long time before I forget Sunshine. He was a sweet, thoughtful career criminal who gave me more smiles than I ever realized at the time. Save me a fistful of happy pills, bud, and I will see you when I get there.

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