Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Dispatch From Escalatorville - Ruptured Antique Postcards (Mean Nothing To The Coast Guard)

i have lost my notes...

A Vehicular Man's Laughter
On Easter Sunday, I witnessed a jubilant gent driving a convertible Mini-Cooper, speeding his way toward a local roundabout. With precision and adept handling of the vehicle, he rode around the otherwise empty traffic circle a full three times before heading off in a different direction. On his face - the look of a cartoon come to life, a man who had released himself for a moment of high speed fun and frolic, a laughing and carefree frivolity - a wild eyed and wonderful look that he shared with the world at large.

But, shared by the clearly concerned and semi-frightened elderly woman in the passenger seat? Most certainly NOT.

Meanwhile on an internet invented by Al Gore...
At some video site the other day, I was trying to load a recent interview with George W. Bush, but it wouldn't play.

"Timed Out while trying to connect" read the monitor.

"How appropriately descriptive!" thought I, realizing I now had no need to finish watching.

Ah, the humanity(A scene from retail):
One by one, in spaced-out intervals, the family of eight adults entered the shop - each one of them progressing toward one gewgaw or another. It was only upon the last of the family's entrance that they collectively realized they'd left their carriage in the middle of the street - with the baby still inside.

They proceeded to blame each other for a good four seconds before one of them left to retrieve the little bundle of joy.

I believe the faces of the growing and concerned crowd outside was enough to hasten the family's retreat to their own hometown.
As Yet Untitled
The past year has been an interesting one to say the least. Most folks I know, including myself of course - have experienced a personal upheaval in some fashion or another. As such, I've taken to giving myself a little bit of indulgence/extravagance every now and again to simply escape/enjoy various particles of this organism called life.I recently rented a car and took an out-of town excursion to the itsy bitsy swamp village of Welaka, Florida. The visit in and of itself was wonderful - the journey to and from the journey - were their own exercises in wonderment.

I got out of work early on a Friday intending to walk to the Consumerist Megalopolis in which the rent-a-car counter was located. Halfway there, I realized the error of my tired ways and opted to call a taxi. As I stood, oddly enough, at auto parts store - the cab company operator informed me that a vehicle would pick me up "in about 8 to 10 minutes, Sir."

So I stood and waited, and stood, and waited, and stood.
Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Twenty minutes. Twenty Five minutes.

O.K. 27 minutes was the extent of my patience. With no answer from the cab company,I started walking again.

As I was now going to be late for my pick up time, I wanted to call the rent-a-car agent inside the Consumerist Megalopolis to inform them of my tardy arrival. Calling information, I asked the number for "StungbidyBoo Rental."

"StungbidyBoo Rental" the voice on the other end of 411 responded, before handing the line over to Sally Robotica and her too-soothing autovoice;"we will now automatically connect you..."

5 seconds and three rings later-

"Smoochykabobs Rental!"

Me: "This isn't StungbidyBoo Rental?"

"Not StungbidyBoo - No sir, this is Smoochykabobs..."

I tried information again. The exact same thing. Two more times.

I'm a large man and I take big steps - so I wasn't too far from Consumerist Megalopolis by the end of my calls. "If the counter's closed by the time I get there," I figured, "I'll take it as a sign, call a different cab,ride home, find something else to do for the weekend."

Nonetheless, I was going to try my damnedest to get to the rental place, I had my sights on being elsewhere, if only for a night.

I cut across parking lots, walked around fence posts, hopped over culverts, darted between trees - and then, attempting to mount a small wall between two parking lots:


The Pants were mortally wounded. One entire section of the 'crotchal' region of the pant itself, torn asunder as if by wolves - revealing the lovely yuletide themed boxer shorts beneath.

Walking normally, jacket pulled slightly down, I easily covered the affected area for the block or two remaining until I reached Consumerist Megalopolis. I didn't expect to see so many people that I knew once I entered the main gate, however. Funny how so many people tend to congregate at the same place simultaneously, ain't it?

I pressed on to the rental counter.

"Name's Z.Lively, I have a reservation, my apologies for being late."

"No problem sir, you're all set."

Two initials and a signature later, and I was ready to go. I casually hid myself again as I lumbered across the parking lot of the Megalopolis and found the rental car. I opened the door and sat down - feeling relief for the first time in 45 minutes, and pleased that I didn’t have to parade around in crotchless jeans in public.

One has to be in the mood for that sort of thing, and I wasn't.

Once home, I did some light packing and thought of scores of stores and restaurants which I could visit, now that I had a car at my disposal. The convenience of car equals a greater chance to succumb to temptation. I went nuts on the food thing - for the entirety of the weekend, really. Suffice it to say that I eat much healthier when I walk everywhere.

The trip itself went great. I picked up a couple of good friends and headed west to the town of Welaka, to meet up with two other friends who live there. Welaka is a bump on a swamp by the edge of the St. Johns River, and a great day trip escape. It is exactly 65 minutes and a world away from where I reside.

In my short time there, I saw a roadside market with used motorbikes and used baby strollers, got to shoot a bb gun at a bow and arrow, scour the ground for gators and moccasins, ran the town's only red light while en route to the the Putnam county speedway to see youngsters driving way faster than I ever will, and ate enough fried food to fuel a jet pack. I saw a country-rock cover band at a restaurant that I swear was full of people yet didn't have an indoors section, anywhere. We plucked strings later by a campfire and slept in enough to still have a home cooked breakfast and zip home before the afternoon had fully set in. I dropped off my pals and ran a few errands before calling it a day.

I awoke early the day I was to return the car. My tiny experiment in vehicle responsibility near an end, I pondered the idea of getting an actual vehicle of my own again. A thought I still ponder as I walk around each day(and yet I still walk around each day...).

I got to the rental counter early, handed in the paper work and that was it (it is surprisingly easy to rent a car in this burgeoning metrocentre). As I exited the Consumerist Megalopolis, I rang for a cab to my 'hood.

Within 7 minutes, a taxi arrived on scene, a different cab company than the one I'd called - but I got in anyway.

"Good morning," I stated to the driver; a frail looking woman in her early 60's, perhaps - wearing what I guess she assumed a cabbie is supposed to wear, based on film and television depictions from the 1970's and early 1980's. This seemed to be the era she had arrived from.

She greeted me very quietly and asked where I was headed, after which she gave me a price quote. But, it was a price quote in the form of a question - which made me believe that she either hadn't been doing this for long, or thought I may be the type that couldn't afford it (and no, I was not wearing the crotchless jeans).

I got an eerie kinda vibe from that point out, as if I was riding in a sort of ghost cab. From the back seat, I could see that the driver had no personal effects- usually, most cabbies keep their car as their office, so the front seat should have a little bit of junk in it - this cab didn't, and it spooked me.

At the first traffic light we encountered, I noticed the driver take a picture from her coat pocket, look at it adoringly, and sigh. The photo was of a black Labrador retriever...

"Ah, sad - a missed dog" I thought. T'was then I realized it wasn't an actual photo, just a picture clipped from a magazine.
She placed it back in her pocket as the light turned green.

"You have exact change, don't you?" she asked.

"I'm not certain," I lied, knowing that I did not have exact change(but shouldn't a cab driver have at least some?).

"I suppose I could try to figure out your change, or if you wouldn't mind, we could stop at 'Convenienstaurant,' and you could get some change. You mind if we do that?"

I told her that I didn't mind, but did I have any choice? I was in the back of her spooky taxi after all, she still had control of the wheel. Or something did.

I really thought of heading out the back door of 'Convenienstaurant,' but most often I'm too paranoid to be a jerk. I got change, got back into the cab, directed the driver the four blocks to my street. Turning down the "soon to be finished" portion of my homeroad, I pointed to a nearby corner, stating:
"You can just let me off here, there's a bunch of construction further on down."

She didn't stop, instead noting the construction signs a block ahead, and took a detour to the left.

"Um, you can just let me out anywhere around here and I'll be fine. This next corner is great."

"I just wanna move around those construction signs" she mumbled, and continued onto another side street, rumbling slowly in the direction of my house, but now on a completely separate road, three blocks too far.

As she made yet another turn I loudened my voice slightly.
"Just let me out here, please."

We were at a corner, directly in front of a friends house, a perfect place to suit my request, yet she continued to ignore me and slowly rolled on.

She stopped entirely when I then stated, evenly and perfectly calm - but loud enough for even the dog in the picture to hear;

"Right here is just fine,
I'd-like-to-get-out-of-this-car, IKnowForAFactThereAreConstructionVehiclesDirectlyInFrontOfMyHouse-

"Are you suuuure?" she pestered.

I said nothing but "thank you" as I exited, placing an extra dollar on top of the fare+tip I was already giving. I then cut through a field and an abandoned yard so that my eerie chauffer couldn't see where I was headed.

I usually have good experiences with cabs in this city, but I think I'm turned off of 'em for a while. Besides, the rental experience all but convinced me of needing to get a vehicle of my own. Nothing too big or fancy just yet - maybe I'll check out that motorbike/stroller stand on my next trip to Welaka.

Selections from the What's Wrong With This Planet files:
Exhibit A - I gazed a family walking down the road on a lovely Saturday afternoon, two kids leading mom and dad, who were holding hands as they strolled. Something seemed weird, however.

I'm thinking it was the dad's shirt, which read: "I'm not a Gynecologist, but I'll take a look!"

Exhibit B - Less than ten minutes later I passed a woman walking away from a corner with her companion. She was complaining how stupid it was that the one way street had just been blocked off...
by those troublesome cop cars making an arrest at a traffic accident.

Passing Fancy in a Downtown Alley
I overheard a conversation between a few ladies of the septuagenarian persuasion. One of whom lightly badgered her friend...

"Tell the story about when you saw the Queen."

Without hesitation, her friend launched into a ten minute epic which centered around her writing for and getting a pair of tickets to see the Queens processional at a gala for General Norman Schwarzkopf many years ago in a town halfway across the state.

Throughout the tale, however, she kept informing her audience- much in the manner of a character played by talk show host in a filler sketch on late night TV- that she was "so endeared of the royal family." She must have used that exact phrase a half a dozen times within the story itself - a story which culminated in our subject being flummoxed at the moment of actually meeting Her Royal Highness, while clumsily handing her a bouquet of flowers. Despite flubbing her own greeting, our storyteller also bemoaned the fact that her husband was too nervous to get a picture.

Nonetheless, the Queen herself had personally said "thank you" - and that was the proudest moment in her House of Windsor loving life. For, she was, y'know "so endeared of the royal family."

"A great story," chimed in another friend, "and how do you like William and Kate?"

To which she replied; "Who?"

Slips of the tongue
A friendly reminder kids - when talking to a lovely and effervescent customer make sure you ask

"Miss, can I help you out with anything?"

- as opposed to

"Miss, can I help you out of anything?"

Also, it bears repeating; when complimenting a lass on her choice of vintage moped or similar transport, be sure to add an extra pause between the words "Nice Scooter."

"Got to be good looking cause he's so hard to see"
I didn't realize that I was such a hipster. If you didn't notice either, then surely it must be true. Yes?
thank you for reading

The Dispatch From Escalatorville
Z.F. Lively; Proprietor/Gadflyer/BadLiar - we write soundbites.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Dispatch From Escalatorville - Confessions; Seattle Years Part 1

Walking past a gaggle of young adults headed to a neighbourhood party, I overheard one of the girls - you know this girl; the one who always has an obstinate yet undeservedly parental air about her and is prone to be the sore thumb except when she's inebriated ('cause then she's just normal) - that girl. I overheard her say aloud, as an alert to the other party goers she had been cavorting robustly down the street with: "You guys? O.K. there is one rule, you guys. We all have to be quiet once we're inside. It's a rule."

That type of behaviour would, at this point in time, kinda kill my wanting to hang out with that person for the remainder of the evening. However, It's that type of person that can also drive you to a different corner of a party - and I treasure those excursions...
Lets say it's the late 1990's and you're new to a bigger city in the Pacific Northwest; you don’t know too many people outside the ones you and your room-mate have met at the new job, which you've literally just started a couple weeks ago. You are going to a party in a section of town in which you are not familiar but do not care because you have just gotten your first real paycheck in a number of years and are still slightly tipsy from dinner.

You enter the party and while your room-mate and work friends are indeed grand and inviting people, there is that one girl (or was it a guy?) - one of those types who had randomly stumbled upon  your groups familiar faces while on the bus ride and then because of a tangential friendship coupled with a collective act of sympathy for a loner in the city on a Saturday night, that loner is now part of your entourage.

At the outset of your party arrival, you feel the need to simply get away from that one person - which drives you across the room to stand next to a gal you caught giving you the eye, as you were giving her the eye, when you entered through the doorway moments earlier.

The ease with which you both slid into conversation reminded you slightly of the camaraderie you’d had with your, at that point in time, favourite ex-girlfriend. This girl had a universe of her own, however. You shared a beer, then another, and yet another - you talk music, politics, pop culture and 'what happened to it?'

A flurry of conversation - until soon enough, your room-mate grabs your attention..

"Hey man, it' s like 2:00 - we're gonna catch the next bus over to our place, you coming?"

And you respond that - No, you'll catch a cab or something in a little bit - knowing full well that you have no more cash on you and only a now expired bus transfer in your pocket. You figure it's not that big a city, you can hoof it a bit, and who knows - maybe you won't have to.

You sit and stare and laugh and talk and debate -  and continue to sit and stare and laugh and talk...until you realize that the dawn is nigh and you both have previous plans for the approaching day.

Meeting again is a mutual grand idea - alas, she has bummed a ride to this party, and like you has no personal transportation - but wouldn't it be great if you can ever make it out to Olympia, where she resides.

Seattle to Olympia is not a terribly long journey, if one has the means - but it is a world away without a reliable vehicle. She may as well have said Bellingham, Spokane, Walla Walla, or Valhalla. Each it's own planet in the solar system of the Pacific Northwest.

Wary yet still hopeful, you exchange email addresses and a hastily scribbled phone number. Within a week and half, you've realized that a short, yet witty, email and a probably too polite voice-message are to prove fruitless. No harm no foul - it was a great night, with great conversation and a great gal simply on the wrong side of convenience.

This story could sum up my relationships with a lot of the folks I acquaintanced there (I say acquaintanced because my friends know whom they are, and are still golden), and is quite possibly a metaphor for my ongoing relationship with Jet City itself.

Seattle; I like you.  I am drawn to your charms, your dialogues, your awareness...yet we connect only through strange circumstance.

Otherwise, and sadly, you are mostly unreachable and on the completely opposite side of my galaxy.
The Dispatch From Escalatorville
Z.F. Lively, Proprietor/Cross-Country Cynic, for long distance electronic communications