Thursday, May 12, 2005

Learning To Be On Time [Exclusive]

Today I have been inspired by my kids’ lack of understanding about the stress factor induced upon their parents when they find it necessary to seek personalized modes of transportation to school (they missed the bus). In this particular case it may be fortunate for them that they did not grow up in God’s personal paradise, rural Alabama. But then again, sharing my experience might have taught them a bit about proper planning and such. Hopefully I am imparting that information in another fashion so as they are able to function in our continual financial crisis organized by our fine leaders in Washington. (By now I am sure you folks understand my disdain for those who are employed to freely take from and rule over those of us who work.)

When growing up in rural Alabama the bus was a very necessary mode of transportation for obtaining your education. Bicycling to the school house would require beating the chickens to their crowing post by several hours and walking certainly wasn’t an option either. Both Mom and Dad had to be at work so hitching a ride with them was an unpopular and necessarily rare luxury. Now what I am about to share about our bus drivers has no reflection on them personally. They were both honorable God fearing men of the community. Rather it speaks to the dedication of getting the job done in their own way.

Our first bus driver who transported me in the early elementary years was a meticulous driver who made his rounds in due time. As such my sister and I were rather spoiled because if you were late getting out the door he would wait patiently while the occasional truck waiting for the stopped bus would rapidly grow impatient. The excitement in our life came with the bus driver who carried me beyond the third grade. Since the boys in Washington liked our money in those days almost as much as they do now our bus driver needed two jobs to keep everyone including his own family well fed. It was necessary for him to get the bus route completed in time to complete the rest of his work at the second job. This being the fact we were usually the first kids at the school house and the first kids home regardless of the length of the bus route. Our driver could pass through those gears shifting up and down faster than the pianist could play “I’ll Fly Away” down at the church house. It is a fact that I learned how to drive a stick shift by watching our bus driver. I learned all about maximizing RPM to get the best combination of torque and speed. When they came out with the new fancy buses with automatic transmissions we stayed with old faithful number 17. You see you have no way of using the right combination to get maximum acceleration with one of those automatic transmissions.

Now our driver was a very kind person who wanted to make sure we all got to school. But we did have a schedule to meet. So about half a mile up the road around the sharp curve he began to lay on the horn. This was your notification that it was time to high tail it down to the road. He usually kept that horn humming until he could see you standing down at the end of the drive waiting for him to pick you up. Now since we lived near the fertilizer plant (other than the barn) the trucks passing by were appreciative of our efficiency and minimization of wait time. Once you made your way onto the bus it was highly important to get in your seat so we can begin the magical rhythm of working our way through the gears. I would gladly put him up against any of today’s NASCAR truck racers if he were still able. But with all that speed and efficiency I never knew of a single incident with our bus or with a passenger thereof. That boys is what made a real school bus driver.

But if you didn’t make it out to the road by the time that bus got to your drive you had to face the parents with the fact you needed a ride. Thank God our driver had a good horn because that was an event you wanted to be rare. So my sister and I took turns on who got ready first so the other one could look out my parents’ bedroom window and watch for that yellow traveling alarm horn to signal your morning race down the driveway. That, my friends, is how we learned the importance of rising early and being on time for your appointments. It is one paranoia I carry to this day which makes me lack understanding when my kids drag around and miss the slow city type school bus with the automatic transmission. God bless my drivers and may old number 17 rest in peace. She got the job done.

Folks I have got to bow out again. But I leave you with one last piece of good news. The boys down at the bank found my money. So now I am searching for that magical form which is going to move that money to somewhere that doesn’t give me heart seizure. Now go catch that bus.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Thank You Sir! May I Have Another? [Exclusive]

Its another lovely day here in Northern Ohio. God has decided to provide a little sunshine which imparts mixed feelings of enjoyment and home sickness for this misplaced Southerner. For now I have decided to make the most of this blessing and see where it leads. So I have taken up the role of flower gardening. Now you know where I’ve been hiding the last couple of days. It isn’t as original as you might be led to believe. I was given a head start by the boys down at the super sized building supply store. It is amazing what those boys sell nowadays. They have enough stuff to make the simple minded either look intelligent or dangerous. Now I won’t admit to any of the categorization, but I do tend to enjoy spending a might bit of time browsing through their goods. And one good thing about Ohio, these boys have a heap of what we call rich dirt. My whole yard here is full of what we had to find down at the banks of Malone Creek back home to fix up the dirt for planting. Of course you already thought I just said Ohio was full of manure, but I actually meant dark soil. We got the other stuff from the barn too, but you don’t necessarily need it in my flower garden. While I was at the big store I got one of them pint sized tillers too. My regular tiller which we inherited from my wife’s Grandfather was too much for the size garden we could have here. So I got what looks to be a weed whacker on wheels, but it has more energy than a horsefly in a barn. It tore through every weed, clump of dirt, and some of my wife’s perennials without blinking. It was kind of interesting watching the wife sift through the dirt finding the parts of what I just tore through and explaining how I kind of turned loose like a bull in a china shop. But its done now and the plants are happily in place.

It is kind of nice to talk about the garden. Gets your mind off things that trouble your mind like job security and such. That is just one of those questions the politicians of late have insured would haunt us for the near future. I took a look in the paper and saw where they were talking about jobs might be picking up a bit. But if you’ve reached the lower part of the bucket it is easier to fill it up than pour more out. Even though things are picking up the telecom industry has thirty percent fewer workers than it did four years ago. Now folks, that is almost scraping the bottom of the bucket. Thank God most of the businesses aren’t that bad off. So now we understand how bad it can be, just where are the jobs at? Well according to the federal government a right good bunch of you folks are looking for these jobs. The national average unemployment rate for May is 6.1%, the highest since 1994. Well I took a look at the unemployment rates and you will never believe what I found. You boys in Mississippi need to pack your bags. Only the District of Columbia has a higher unemployment rate than you. Mississippi clocks in at 7.0% with DC at 7.8%. You boys need to pack up and move to Hawaii. The sellers of pineapple seem to be doing well with only 2.8% needing a job. Other places to get a job include Wyoming (3.1%), North Dakota (3.3%), and Virginia (3.3%). The real question is just what are these jobs paying. Well it seems that the rate of new jobs in the lower paying segment is greatly outstripping those in the higher paying jobs. Those boys reporting this stuff from Washington are just figuring out what most of you already know. Like I’ve said before, we need to help those boys in Washington join us down at the state employment office. But most of them get those hifalutin teaching and consulting contracts which I think means they are gladly teaching the next round of politicians how to do the same thing. Pass the pineapple boys. We might need to learn how to live off these.

Well one last piece of news from this end of the pond. I let one of those fancy banker type fellows talk me into consolidating my IRA accounts. Now seeing as how that will be my only source of income when the boys in Washington spend out any social security I might be supposed to get then I need to keep an eye on these funds. So, I called the fellows at the bank today just to see how things were going. Well, the next words I heard puckered up my backside so tight you couldn’t pry it open with a toothpick. “Uh, sir, have you moved your funds? We just don’t see anything here.” Now folks, my heart is still trying to figure out the correct rhythm after that interruption. While I was trying to find some polite words my brain was trying to figure out the next flight to Florida (where they have my account) so I could just hear this fellow say those words in person. The gentleman now knows I am imagining how he might fit on a skewer in the hot coals of my fireplace so he begins to start a frantic search. We called the “national accounts center” together. Well, the new fellow comes on the line and we tell the story of how I am receiving CPR and such. “Sir, you have an A89 account.” And you my dear friend are the son of a donkey. What is an A89 account? And to correct you I better have two of them. “Sir, your account is abandoned.” Just how in Hades could that happen? I am sitting right here talking to you and I am wishing I knew just where your knowledgeable behind is at so we can figure this out. That is what I was wanting to say. So now the sharp tongued fellow has his assistant trying to sort this out but has assured me nothing is lost. Nothing is lost?!?!?! Sir, my mental chastity just got flushed down the toilet possibly along with my only hope at some retirement for my working butt. So now I sit by the telephone waiting for the call that someone at that national institution has some possible intelligence while I diligently search for all proof of my accounts. Oh, and our friends in Washington (don’t they always play a role?) have it figured out that I can’t just get this money in my hands (early withdrawal penalties).

So with that said I pick up my ball and chain, place it carefully in the back of my truck, and head into the sunset. I need my rest so I can earn those politicians some more money to freely insure THEIR life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. I told Momma that I needed to be a politician. Oh no, I went and became an engineer.