Valentine’s Day is fast approaching

 

In my home, next to the wife’s birthday, Valentine’s Day is the 4th biggest holiday of the year. Falling behind Christmas, Easter, and her birthday, of course. It really is a big deal. And, rightfully so. Every year I try to do something that lets her know how much I love her and also express my amazement that she settled for me. And believe me, she SETTLED. I, on the other hand, definitely married up. She’s a great wife and we have great kids but I’m cheap and we both acknowledge this. I can’t really help it. I’m cheap about almost everything. She points this out constantly and it only seems to really bother her when she thinks I’m being cheap about safety. I’ve been known to cut corners on safety in an effort to save a few bucks. But, in all fairness, I cut corners on everything to save a few bucks. It’s just that when it comes to safety she feels that we shouldn’t worry about the cost.

I grew up real poor. I’ll save the woe is me stuff but I’m no stranger to going to bed hungry. I’m still poor by my own standards. I work a blue collar job and consider myself lower middle class. However, I have a college degree and we’re probably middle-middle class (did I just invent a class?). Well, you get my point. What I’m driving at is that I don’t like to spend money and society has made this holiday about just that. I know the day should be about spending quality time with the one you love and you don’t really need to spend a lot of money to show someone how much you care. But, that’s not the reality of it. It’s almost impossible to get a decent box of candy and a dozen roses for under $100. That may not seem like much but expensive is relative.

I also know that roses and chocolates are the cliche gift to give, but that’s me. I grill on the Fourth, sing carols on Christmas Eve, and carve pumpkins on Halloween. I’m all about the cliches. I love the hokey Americana of our holidays. I’m not so big on Christmas lights, they drive up the light bill. Just kidding. Basically every year I have the same problem trying to find something traditional yet unique and within a reasonable price. That can be harder than it sounds.

I remember last year I went with Sharis Berries. Funny story. I couldn’t make this up. I spent about $80 for some berries and a couple of individual cheesecakes. First off, let me say this place sells the biggest strawberries I’ve ever seen. I don’t eat strawberries but the wife loves them. Anyway, I placed an order and all was well. I even paid extra to make sure they arrived in time. Like with most online orders I had a tracking number. They shipped my order through UPS. I’ve never really dealt with UPS, my company and I usually ship through FedEx. So, like any anxious husband I was following the package from day to day to make sure my extra shipping charge was well spent.

Their packages are shipped with dry ice so they generally arrive in a couple days. I followed my shipment to my town and saw that it stopped. For three days. No movement. So I called the UPS customer service line and was told that because I was the receiver and not the shipper, I couldn’t be told what the problem was. I called Sharis’ customer service and had the rep contact UPS. The Sharis’ rep put me on hold and when she came back she said that she would refund my money and send me another package. Two problems. First, why did I need another package? Second, another package wouldn’t make it in time.

The Sharis’ rep told me that the package made it over 1000 miles to within 5 miles of my house and then an employee of UPS at the sorting facility opened it and ate the contents. That’s a true story! Now, this could happen at any shipping company so I don’t think it says anything about UPS except maybe they should keep a snack machine on the premises. I have other stories like that regarding various holidays, it seems that things like that happen to me all the time.

This year I was hoping to maybe go to the beach for the weekend. You can do that in Florida in February. It’s nice. But my wife would probably see it for what it is, an attempt to save money.

 

We always have fun but maybe not a good choice this year. I’ll probably just go with chocolates and flowers and a fancy dinner at the Outback. I’ll probably slip in a special surprise for her this year though. She really is the best thing that’s ever happened to me and after you put all the cards, candy and commercialization aside, that’s what it’s all about. Taking time to tell your significant other that you love and appreciate them. It’s amazing to me that I found anyone, much less my wife, that would want to spend the rest of their life with me.

 

Hope everyone has a great Valentine’s Day.

Dr. King Weekend

Today is a holiday for my company. I’m not sure how many companies celebrate Dr. King’s birthday by letting their employees off, but mine does. Where I grew up, at least in my family and community, Dr. King’s birthday/holiday wasn’t anything we recognized. It was considered a “black” holiday and didn’t really apply to us. At least that was the thinking back then. For some of my family it’s still the same. I know calling something a “black” holiday may immediately make some think “racist”, but you’ll just have to take my word that we never intended it that way in my home growing up.

I’ve got an uncle that calls King, Marther Luther Kings. I’m not sure if he really doesn’t know his name or if he does it on purpose. He also refers to Oprah as Ofra. He’s kind of a weird guy in general though. But, like I said, King’s holiday was never celebrated in my home or community growing up. I don’t think it was the result of racism or hatred but I never asked either. I never picked up on any racist or hateful remarks regarding the holiday. It was just a holiday for a person that we didn’t know much about and someone that didn’t really effect our lives in any noticeable way. Or, so we thought.

It was not until I got into college that I found out more about his contributions to society. He did a lot for the poor and lower working classes. He really lived his convictions and was a leader with character (sorely missing today). I know he has his detractors and critics and I think legitimately so. In America, everyone has detractors. I think it’s a real testament to our country that people can and do stand up and complain about Dr. King. In this country there’s someone out there to complain about everyone and everything. I think that’s a big part of what makes this country so great. Not that we are a country of complainers but that in this country we have the right to voice opposition to anything and everything.  You don’t have to look too  far to get both sides of an issue.

The only down side to Dr. Kings critics is that some of them are labeled as racists. I believe calling someone a racist without rock hard proof only hurts free speech.  Some may be racists, but I think they represent the minority of his detractors. I for one take issue with his Christian beliefs. I was raised in a pretty conservative, Christian home and my beliefs tend to run very close to traditional Christian teachings. So, Dr. King’s take on some very key Christian doctrines run afoul in my home. But, I can still respect his position on many other issues. I can’t think of any one person that I agree with all the time on every issue.

The point of this post is that now I have my own family. It’s a little embarrassing that I didn’t know more about a great historical figure like Dr. King until I was in college. I have my own children now and I hope to break that cycle with them. I’m going to teach them about all great Americans. Whether their contributions seem to directly effect us or not. If someone makes a great contribution to America then it benefits all Americans. So, later today when we’re grilling (no good American holiday forsakes the grill), I’ll take a little extra time to educate my children on just why today is a special day and the man it honors is deserving of that honor.

Here’s hoping everyone has a great holiday!

Funny story about a trip to Wal-Mart

This happened just before Christmas. About 2 weeks before Christmas I was in a Wal-Mart doing some work. Wally World is one of my company’s bigger accounts and I’m in and out of them a couple times a week. When I’m there I wear a typical service tech’s uniform, khaki pants, polo shirt and a name badge. Now, my uniform doesn’t look anything like a Wal-Mart employee’s uniform, at least not to me. But that doesn’t stop people from constantly coming up to me and asking me where the toilet paper is located.

Well, me and another tech were doing some work right up front, in the entrance of a Wal-Mart one morning. The store we were at was in a medium sized city but I would still call it rural just because of the county it’s in. It’s on the outskirts of a medium sized city. But, this city is more of an urbanized farm town, of sorts.

Anyway, my friend and I were working when this man came running up to me saying he’d been attacked. I looked at him and saw that his eye was swelling shut. I looked over to my partner and he just kind of shrugged his shoulders. The guy was about 5’10” and maybe 180lbs.? He was talking pretty fast and by the time I had taken in the info, he’d already went on to say that he needed the police because he was attacked in the parking lot and his attacker was following him into the store.

There was a lady next to him and while the guy was telling me he was attacked, she was saying “call 9-1-1, my husband was attacked”. So, I assumed that the guy was her husband. After all, they came into the store together. At the same time. They were both borderline yelling.

I was just about to tell the guy that I don’t work for Wal-Mart but by then several managers were walking up. So, I just turned back to what I was doing. Right then the guy turns to the woman and screams “You whore, you whore. You F—ing whore!”. It was then that I realized that they weren’t together.

So, after hearing the guy scream out those profanities, I stopped what I was doing and turned to watch the show. The guy’s eye was still swelling. It was almost cartoonish the way his eye was swelling shut right in front of us. This all took place in a matter of minutes.

About this time a guy came casually walking in. This guy was at least 6’3″ and had to be at least 250lb. He was noticeably bigger than the other guy.

The bigger guy goes up to the smaller guy and says “don’t call my wife a whore”. I figure that the big guy is about to pummel this little guy because the little guy is still calling his wife a whore. Then, the little guy proceeds to spit directly in the bigger guys face. Not once but 3 times. Right in front of everyone. The big guy doesn’t do anything.

By now the Asset Protection Coordinator (LP) comes out and gets between the two guys. The whole time, all the big guy says is “follow me back out to the parking lot”. The little guy won’t move though.

The little guy eventually runs out to his car, bends his tag up, and takes off like an Ethiopian with a lunch ticket. The cops do eventually show up and after reviewing the video and getting a statement from the big guy, the altercation went down like this:

Big guy pulls into a parking spot and gets out of his truck. As he exits his vehicle and closes the door, he turns around to see the little guy standing there. Little guy tells big guy “you took my space”. Big guy says “Nope. You’re crazy”. Little guy hits big guy and is surprised when big guy doesn’t fall down. Little guy is even more surprised when big guy hits him back. Little guy lands on his back and his mother (Yep, MOTHER!) gets out of their car and begs big guy to not hit little guy. Little guy looked to be in his mid 40’s.

After that, little guy gets up off the ground and runs into Wally World looking for help, followed close behind by big guy’s wife.

All this over a parking spot.???

Different part of town and someone could have ended up shot.

This whole scenario was funny as hell to watch. I’m not sure how well the humor translates to a blog but more importantly, there’s several good lessons to learn from this.

You’ll have to mine out the lessons on you own.

Well, it’s been over a year…

I started this blog back in 2010 and today is the second day of 2012. I posted 2 or 3 posts in 2010 and NOTHING, in 2011.

2011 was by far, one of the least productive years for me in recent memory. My wife and I had a second son and we couldn’t be happier. We saw our favorite singer back in Sept and we were lucky enough to get awesome seats. We were three rows back from the stage and we both had a blast. That’s about all I accomplished.

I picked up a copy of Rosetta Stone and had hoped to learn either Spanish or Hebrew, I didn’t learn either. I also hoped to finally start playing my guitar but that didn’t happen either. I’ve had that guitar for 4 years and never once tried to play it.

The few bright spots are that so far, my family and I have been blessed to still have decent jobs and I’ve only seen a small reduction in overtime. My friend AJ made it back from the mid-east safe and sound and he’s getting out of the military after 11 years. He says it’s just changed too much and he can’t take it anymore. He had planned to be a lifer but the B.S. has forced him out. And that’s saying a lot considering he’s a SEAL.

We work together for the same company and we’re starting a business venture together, so we’ll have plenty of time to mend any hurt feelings that occurred prior to his leaving. This year I’m hoping to set attainable goals that will afford me the ability to spend more time with my friends and family.

Anyone that eventually finds this blog, here’s hoping that 2012 is the best year of our lives. That’s saying a lot because I’ve had some pretty good years.