Monday, March 29, 2010

Dispatch From Escalatorville: "So I got that goin' for me, which is nice."

I've been thinking a lot about the "follow through" lately. Y'see, while a stagnant pond might be easy and warm to sink into, if you don't start yourself moving, you will drown. You wanna cross that pond? You can't wait in the middle, you have to follow through to the other side. It's a common rule, but one that can be often ignored. One gets to a certain point where you look back at all the ideas that course around your brain within that early part of life, and start to rethink which ones you still should follow through. You also start to understand certain aspects of life: you can appreciate Jazz music more - realizing that most of the best stuff was recorded by musicians who died before they reached the age you are now; you start to actually interpret maps, planning possible future trips based on how soon you can get from Memphis to Detroit if you make a pit stop in Louisville; you start to understand the easygoing coalition of serenity and agitation from whence we get the game of Golf.

Here is where we mark the rejection of stagnation - and start to begin the follow through. A new Dispatch From Escalatorville, which doesn't exactly come out swinging, but brings with it a renewed desire to provide more of what we originally intended with this occasional missive. Like the slow motion limbs of a Tai Chi master or the swing of a club at tee-off, the best results come when you follow through...

Tales Of The Nagged, Volume 1
So, I work the Night Desk at a local hotel a few times a week (when I'm not looking for other avenues of employ). As per the strenuous tenets of my job, we strive to appease every customer, regardless of complaint. At 1:30AM on a recent night, a woman came to the desk a bit flustered, and with her elderly mother in tow.

"My mother has, uh, I mean WE, uh, there is a problem with our room."

I was told the thermostat was broken - and it needed to be fixed. I saw the small gleam of hope on the customers face turn to a look of desperation when I told the women (with verbal expulsions of the "oh my" and "well I'll be" variety from "Mom") that, alas, we don't keep a maintenance man on call at 1:30 on a Tuesday morning.

A relatively slow night, as it was, I simply moved them to another room just a few doors down. I made up a key for them, and sent them on their way. Huzzah, for problem-solver me.

10 minutes later, the woman again arrives at the desk - without Mom - and proceeds to explain how, since her frail and aged mother cannot shut the door properly, that I will have to find them yet another room - on the ground floor please, Mom can't take the stairs.

I explained to her with an empathic semi-frown on my face (and a silent giggle running around my brain), that both of the open rooms on the first floor were currently assigned to her and her mother. Reluctantly, the customer agreed to their original room, handing me the newer key to inspect the faults of room #2.

"I am sorry that WE have been so difficult," she stated, and turned to leave. Within two minutes, I had inspected the perfectly functional door - but as I passed the women's room again, I could feel a certain heat coming through the wall, and it wasn't from the thermostat.

TV Turnoff Week is April 19th - 25th
The local cable company just did some restructuring in the programming it allows in the Nations Oldest City. Ironically, the one network they eliminated - was the History Channel.

I was actually watching the television one day when a lady appeared onscreen extolling the virtues of new digital technology. She described how science was advancing the art of television and the cable system that she was a shill for. In the middle of her pitch, however, her face froze. It then pixilated itself as her voice shorted out and the screen went blank. I laughed. Out Loud.

In the midst of the flabbergasting "News" cycle that we've been through in the past few months, I was delighted when the lovely Bess managed to find this video - it might be a good thing if all the the news makers of the world paid attention.

Tales Of The Nagged, Volume 2
In the back of a downtown pastry shop, I was pouring cream and sugar into my to-go cup when I heard a man in the coffee line get told by the counter clerk:

"I'm sorry Sir, we're not an actual Starbucks - we just serve their regular coffee."

I turned around just in time to hear the man call his wife to confirm a new order, "no, they DON'T have the frappuccino mocha latte. I told you it wasn't a real one..."

Old Town Trudging
I like to take long walks through the neighborhoods of my town. Sometimes for the sights, and sometimes for the sounds. I overhear a lot of conversations, most of which I ignore, but occasionally I will hear something that illustrates the nature of our little town. Recently, I was walking passed a lady and heard the following half of a phone conversation (picture me saying this in the voice of a middle-aged skinny woman from the urban south):

"Hey, you still have that car? Yeah, you should come get me. Pick me up by the Shell station where you got arrested for stealing..."

This is, of course, the convenience station that is located directly across from the police department.

When one walks the streets of my neighborhood in the old town, one can usually see a number of fire engines about. If you can't see them, you certainly hear the sirens, tremendous, overwhelming sirens. This is a direct result of the fact that the average age of the residents/visitors in St. Augustine hovers slightly above 107.

As such, there are a lot of fire squads and emergency teams racing through the city any number of times a day due to an older tourist falling, misstepping, or having a heart attack at the cost of a meal for four in the downtown area.

I, however, am a paranoid sort. I usually hear the sirens as I head out to take my daily walks.

Thus, as an antsy individual, I always imagine that the sirens are headed. directly. toward. my. house.

Sure enough, If I'm only a couple blocks away when I hear one, I'll usually head back to the house just to check. If I'm further away, I figure that the fire will have already gutted our tiny house by the time I could return, so I shelve my worry and walk on...

On a recent sojourn I was a neighborhood or two over, when I believe I saw a frat house in the making (funny since the local Advanced Edutarium in town doesn't officially allow sororities or fraternities). Either that, or these college kids are just trying to scare the residents around them.

I saw a small bundle of collegians cleaning out the garage space between two rental houses on the same lot. I peeked in, as much peeking as you can do from across the street, and saw that they already had a "bar" set up - seats in place, tap at the ready.

Oh, but they weren't done. The coup de grace; a restaurant size grill/broiler - lay in the bed of a pick up truck in the driveway. Kids, once that starts heating up, maybe slide a few burgers to the folks at the houses around you. Nothing mends fences like the delicious warmth of a dead cow.

Just A Few Of The Many Many Ways To Fall Down (circle ones you've completed successfully):
-straight backward
-face forward
-like a baby
-in a heap
-like a train on a mountaintop in the middle of summer - or a cup of pencils from a teachers desk.

Caligraphy Of The Complacent
In the past few months, there have been a lot of sign writers and sign holders coming out of the woodwork to grace the street corners of our town. Sometimes they work individually, sometimes in groups. I'm sure you've seen the signs before.

Now, when it comes to panhandling, I don't know my ass from a hole in the ground (and no one's ever told me that I was talking out of my ground hole) - however, there are rumors that say some of these folks can pull in $200 or more per day.

If this is so, you'd think they could afford to get a better sign maker. Shoot, I bet if all the sign holders got together and formed a union, they might actually get a better rate.

Tales Of The Nagged, Volume 3
A man checks into the hotel, gives his full credit card info, signs receipt, and takes keys to go to the room. 20 minutes later, he returns to the front desk...

"Um, I'm gonna need to check out and have that not charged to my card please?!?"

I apologize and ask if there's anything wrong with the room.

"No, uh, my wife just wants to meet me at a hotel that's not this one"

Maurice Chevalier, Eat Your Heart Out.
For all the Dirty Old Men In Training (D.O.M.I.T.) like myself,
springtime in the Nations Oldest City is one of the favorite seasons of the year. The scenery turns very pretty, and very retro. The greens, yellows, and light browns that color the flora of the old town directly after a great storm are beautiful and; for those of us that aren't actually perverts, whom can acknowledge the beauty of the female form without becoming too ribald about it - living in the city is like living on one those great southern folk rock album covers. Those post-hippie, pre-valley, simply dressed yet ornately gilded, devilishly innocent girls that you found so crushworthy on those LPs of the late 60's and 70's, they live here. They thrive here. They create here. They cruise here. They are one of the many aspects that beautify the place we sometimes call "St. Uglytowne" - and they make living here all the better.

I should know, I married one of 'em. She's a beaut'!

Thanks for reading, we'll be back later this week. In the meantime, don't do this without a license.

Escalate and follow through,
Z.F. Lively
Proprietor, Fancy Dancer