Thursday, December 23, 2010

I love this time of year

This is the best time of year to work customer service.  People are nice to you more often than not.  I even receive the occasional "Merry Christmas".  This is frowned upon.  Because freedom of religion only applies to non-Christians.  At least that is what it seems like.

I know that the good will and pleasantries will go out the window on January 3rd.  Most everyone will be back to their rude and terrible selves.  So, Merry Christmas and if you aren't Christian and/or that offends you, don't read it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I work the overnight shift. That means I work alone from 9pm to 7am. Our area requires a badge to get into and the only other person I’m likely to see is the security guard. He will walk by once or twice in an evening and we rarely speak.

I had just finished using the bathroom. They are located near the elevators and outside of the secure area. I was just about to use my badge to get back into the office when the door opened up. There was the security guard. The surprise was total. I was only slightly startled, but he was doing his best heart attack routine (true Sanford and Son style). I kept him from falling down, but the laughter made it difficult.

It has been a little over a week since the incident. We still can’t look at each other without laughing. Nightshift changes your sense of humor.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

For laughs

It’s been cold here for the last week or so. It even snowed over the weekend. Not enough to shut us down, but a nice covering of the grass and trees. The temperature has stayed below freezing.

Last Friday we were supposed to take our friend’s daughter to dance class. I yell upstairs to our son that we were leaving and would be back shortly. Deb yells up to him “He’s making me go with him!” I had no idea that I was doing anything of the sort. She volunteered to do it and I just assumed she was going to ride along.

“You don’t have to go. I can drive her all by myself.” I said this just outside the front door.

It’s cold.


Bam! The door shut with her on the warm inside and me on the “not so warm” outside.

I guess I set myself up for that one.

A few days later we stopped for lunch at a pizza shop and we overheard a phone conversation. “Ma’am if you refuse to give us your address how do expect us to deliver the pizza?” We both busted up laughing.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fond/Painful Memories

A few of us were sharing stories a while back and this one always makes me laugh. I'll admit that, at the time, there was nothing funny about it.

It was the summer of 1987. I was in Fort Sill Oklahoma doing my advanced training for field artillery. I was in the Army Reserves.

The Kevlar helmets were still very new and only active duty units had them. We wore the old World War II style helmets that consisted of a "steel pot" that sat over a helmet liner.

Being in the Army Reserves allowed me to split my training (at the time I was still in high school). During the summer of 1986 I did my basic training and went to drill with my unit until the following year. My unit consisted of a battery of four M110 eight inch self propelled howitzers.

That big spade, in the back, is actually dug in when they are set to fire. When it does fire the whole front end of the vehicle comes off of the ground. It launches a 200 pound projectile a very long ways.

During the advanced training the Army showed us the M110, but all of our hands on training was on the smaller M109 howitzer.

This one fires a much smaller projectile (about 90 pounds) and does not require the spade in the back. The barrel of the cannon can be lowered quite a bit closer to the ground as well.

When a cannon crew sets up to fire each member has an assigned task. My responsibility for this particular day was run the communication wire from the back left side of the vehicle to the front right. During my short trip I ran in front of the howitzer to secure the wire. At this same moment the gunner is preparing the gun for a fire mission. One of his first tasks is to lower the cannon to remove the dust cover. He will also open the breach to make sure nothing is in the barrel.

Speed is everything. You have to be able to set up and be ready for a mission in X amount of time. When the mission is over you need to be able to pick up and go even faster. This is what we were working on.

I had the comm wire secure in the back and I was beating feet to the front right. The wire comes on a handy-dandy spool and I was watching so I did not get too close to the track. I zipped around the front of the vehicle making excellent time. That is when the barrel of the howitzer came down on to the top of my head with crushing force.

My knees buckled as my chin slammed into my chest. My feet sank 2 inches into the mossy ground (that I had the good fortune to be standing in) and then fell to my knees. The spool of wire rolled under the vehicle forgotten. My calf was bruised as the business end of my M16 (slung upside down on my back) jabbed into it as I landed. My helmet was squashed, Beetle Bailey like, on top of my head. Minus the smile.

I flipped the steel pot off of the liner. I then took both hands and, with much effort, managed to pry the liner off of my head. It did not pop when it came off, but it sure felt like it did. I looked around to make sure no one had witnessed the accident. No one had. I collected everything and carried on like nothing happened. I only suffered a stiff neck and a bruised calf for my carelessness.

One year later I decided to go Active Duty Army, but the recruiter told me that I was not allowed to change career fields. I thanked him and walked across the hall to speak with the Air Force recruiter. I joined the United States Air Force became an aircraft mechanic for the next 8 years.

Nearly 20 years passed before I told that story to anyone. I guess it took me that long to see any humor in it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's snowing!

Not really. There are snow flakes, but it is not sticking. I'm ok with that. In fact, if I never have to shovel snow again it will be too soon.

My son would rather see a foot of snow. That means no school for at least two or three days. I would still have to go to work. My boss would not buy the "too much snow to drive to work" excuse. He grew up in the same general area of New York (state) that I did. Ten inches of snow over night did not even slow us down. What I need is a boss who grew up in Virginia. I could play on that person's idea of "lots of snow".

We get so little snow here that I do not even own a snow shovel. A broom works for any snow removal needs.

Life is good.