A Holiday Shopping Strategy

                 The annual shopping frenzy is upon those of us who call the United States home. There will, no doubt, be several articles written and spoken by wordsmiths and speechmakers alike all across the land decrying the commercialism of the season. These written and verbal lamentations will denounce those of us who will do anything necessary to get the exact presents desired by their dear family.

                I will not do that here. Instead, I seek, in this short treatise, to equip those of you who chose to participate in activities such as “Black Friday” or any other shopping day that lies between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.   Herewith are the tools and strategies you, dear reader, will need to successfully survive those days.

  • A GAS MASK. These can be obtained from any Army surplus store or an industrial supply company. This is an absolute necessity in those cases when your target item is a video game or perhaps the latest version of a game console. Do ensure that the filters are current and work against pepper spray and/or tear gas, these being the weapon of choice among “competitive shoppers.”
  • STEEL TOED BOOTS will protect your feet in the initial onslaught into a big box store. They should be 15” boots at the minimum for the added protection of one’s shins. Competitive shoppers use these in an offensive mode. Personally, I do not recommend using these as a weapon of attack unless, of course, the target item is the last one on the shelf.
  • A DOWN FILLED COAT is the perfect thing to add padding to your upper torso when jostling in a crowd. It does limit your ability to throw a timely punch but, then again, the padding will limit, if not eliminate, any bruising you may incur from one or more competitive shopper. It also helps you conceal the next tool.
  • FLAK JACKETS should only be worn when going to a really large, ultra gigantic big box store located near certain rough parts of town and all prisons. The competitive shoppers in these areas are tough; battle hardened, and they play for keeps. They have been known, on a few very isolated occasions, to carry multiple weapons to include pepper spray, lead pipes, and expired make-up.
  • A BODY GUARD is a great additional tool to escort you from and to your car. There are competitive shoppers out there who, having failed to gain their targets, will stalk and rob successful shoppers in the parking lot. Walking to your car with a large, angry man will, in most cases, guarantee a safe escape.

I hope you find this advice of great use while you seek to make this Christmas the best your family has ever had. I remain, respectfully yours.

S. Emmett

The inevitability of being late

                Have you ever noticed that when you’re in a hurry, the world slows down and intentionally gets in your way? How about when you are late for work and the car in front of you is driving ten miles BELOW the speed limit and you cannot pass him/her? Or maybe your normal ten minute commute turns into an hour or more because, on that particular morning, a semi truck loaded with five thousand bottles of real maple syrup spilled its entire contents onto the highway and the cops won’t let anybody through. Or, how about this real life scenario:

                I had a 7:30 AM meeting on the other side of town (albeit, I do live in a smallish town). I leave the house at 7:10 with the intention of stopping off at the donut shop and getting a cup of coffee to go. Plenty of time, I thought to myself. When I got to the coffee shop, there were two people in front of me and one of them wanted just a cup of coffee. Piece of cake, I thought to myself. In and out with plenty of time. That’s when the older gentleman in front of me placed his order:

                “Ummm…Let’s see. I would like a dozen donuts and a cup of coffee. Can I have a mixed dozen?” The server indicated that he could.

                “Great. Let me see. Hmmm (he ponders here for at least a full minute). I would like one buttermilk cake, one glazed, one plain cake and, hmmm, let me see.”(another full minute spent pondering the vast donut selection.). “Oh gosh. I don’t know. How about a chocolate glazed and a chocolate cake donut. Make that two chocolate cake donuts but leave the chocolate icing off one. How many is that?  Six? Maybe I should call my wife and see what she wants.” (He does – and spent at least forty-five minutes on the phone (or so it seemed) while he recited the entire donut menu to her).

                 “OK, she wants one original, one apple crumb, one Boston crème, one pumpkin donut, a French cruller, a cinnamon cake, and one vanilla cream filled.” The server politely informs him that he now has thirteen donuts. “Oh, I only want twelve. So I have to take one out, don’t I?” (He agonizes for another  two minutes). “Ok, take out the second chocolate cake donut. The one without the frosting.”

                The server, who has visibly aged by now, boxes everything up and hands it to the gentleman along with the bill (I think it was nine dollars and change).  In keeping with his character, he counts out the money in one dollar bills and pocket change to the server who is now considering retirement. I was glad that he stayed long enough to give me my coffee.

                I wound up fifteen minutes late to my own meeting. I am glad that he got a French cruller though.

The news

(Talking to myself) It sure has been a long day. Think I’ll sit down and watch the news and relax a bit before dinner.

            Hmmm. Somebody got shot over on the east end of town. The culprit is still loose too. Say! That’s not very far from me. Think I’d better make sure the doors are locked and my “little friend” is ready….  Glad I got that done. Think I’ll grab a drink on the way back to watch the news.

            Now what? The weather forecaster on the television is telling me there is a storm heading my way and it will be here in sixteen minutes. How do they know the exact time? O well. Better go make sure all the windows are shut and get the cars in the garage. Is the mail in yet? Now that the house is ready for a storm, I can get back to the news.

            Whaddya mean there’s been a yogurt recall? I’ve got three half eaten yogurt containers in the refrigerator! Sheesh, now I have to go check those. Won’t do us much good if they’re bad ones! We’ve already eaten from all three. The wife is looking a might poorly though. Better go check. They’re not part of the recall. Good. Back to the couch. My drink has gotten warm. Need more ice.

            A peanut butter shortage!! Really!! You know, you’d think in a country as great as ours, we’d have figured out how to keep the peanut butter coming. I’ll have to make a note to have the wife stock up on my favorite food. Now, where is my to-do list? Wait! I need the wife’s to-do list. It’s in the office.

            Good grief! Will this never end?! Now the newsman says there is a food poisoning outbreak right here in our neck of the woods and it is all caused by somebody selling bad soy sauce! Now I have to go check and make sure our soy sauce (do we even HAVE any?) is not tainted. Well, can’t seem to see any in the frig so I’m not going to worry about it. Back to the couch.

Less than five minutes later the wife comes downstairs and asks if I heard about the soy sauce recall. I had, I said, and I had already checked and we don’t have any soy sauce. With that, she goes right to the frig and pulls out a full bottle from the door shelf. Luckily, it is not tainted.

            Finally! Back to the couch. Maybe I can catch the last five minutes of the news. Now they remind me that I had better check and make sure the windows on my car are closed as the storm is only four minutes away. I rush to do that only to find that I had already put them in the garage. Back to the couch and what’s left of the news and my, yet again, warm drink. The news is over! Thank goodness. I’m exhausted.   

A Panhandle memory

Recently, I went back to Amarillo, Texas at the center of the Texas Panhandle.  This trip to the home of my boyhood has already brought back memories from those days so long ago.

Memories like the time I got hold of some cheap wine. That story is a might too embarassing to tell except to say that I have not like wine much since then.

My sister reminded me of the A&W Root Beer stand that Dad would take us to on the occasional Sunday afternoon. He would get us small root beer floats while he got one the size of a wash bucket. I remember thinking there was no justice in the world.

My wife, sister, and I drove by the old neighborhood. The fields of my youth are long gone, replaced by houses. The neighborhood known then as Chateau Village, now some fifty years old, has seen better days. The old house on Hall is run down now and in sad shape. The grass that my mother worked so hard on is dead after the drought that Texas has suffered for so long took its toll. The rest of the houses are in various states of age.

The schools we went to are still there. Remodeling has kept them up but they are essentially what they were in the 1960’s. I reckon you really can’t go back home.

What the trip has done is bring back a lot of memories that might eventually be stories. Like the time I took the Vice Principal’s bbq set home from school and it caught fire while in the truck of my car.

Then there was the time I got caught late one evening on Soncy Road visiting with a girl in my car. The police just did not understand that we were just talking about “different things.” That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Oh! I attempted to drag race (if you want to call it that) in my 58 Chevrolet Biscayne (a.k.a. land yacht) against a 66 Mustang. That went real well.

(I did not do this – I swear) Some bozo poured a bunch of gasoline in the high school parking lot and threw a match to it. Really. Right after school too. Really, I DID NOT do it!!

I’ve lost count the number of times I got caught smoking in the bathroom or on the corner. Some of the circumstances behind those time are funny now. They weren’t back then.

More to come.