Covid-19 Blues

Well, maybe now, I’ll have some time to write, at least.

The company that uses me as its shuttle bus driver has advised its employees to work from home, if they can, for the next two weeks, due to the you know what. That means fewer people to shuttle, which means no need for yours truly for the rest of this week, and maybe next.

Boooooooo…

So now, this thing is hitting me in the pocketbook, like it is several others, as the world continues to shut down. Sporting events and concerts cancelled or postponed. Schools temporarily closed. Restaurants and shopping centers emptied out. Grocery store shelves ransacked. Toilet paper is the new precious metal; won’t surprise me to see it go on the black market.

Utter craziness.

Oh, and a lot of people getting sick around the world, including the United States.

And for those of you trying to convince yourselves and everyone else that this is just the flu, permit me to wake you up: the mortality rate for Covid-19 is 10 times that of the flu.

This is serious, folks, and it needs to be taken seriously. Look out for yourselves and each other. We will get through this, but not without some sacrifice and some common sense precautions. By now, I’m sure you all know what those are; do them.

As for me, I guess I’ll have some time to get caught up on a few things around the house, spend some quality time with my wife and cats, and maybe write some more.

Y’all, please take care, and take your finger off the panic button, for gosh sakes.

 

Oh, one more thing: I have avoided comment on my government’s response to this whole crisis in order to maintain a stable blood pressure. Later.

 

 

 

 

 

The Straight Poop (or, Excrementally Yours)

 

NOTE: To you-know-who, don’t let Jason ever read this.

 

So, as many of you know, I drive a shuttle bus in a part of town, all day, five days a week. Actually, I drive from one town to another and back, which is funny when you consider I just drive one mile each direction.

Anyway, both these towns are home to some very well-to-do people.

Which, as occurred to me today, explains the prevalence of pickup trucks rolling through the neighborhood, advertising pet poop pickup service.

I wouldn’t lie about something like this, although “pet poop pickup” is kinda fun to say, I must admit.

I mean, obviously, these well-off folks would never stoop (literally) to doing such a vulgar, disgusting chore so, thank God, there is someone available to do it for them.

Naturally, this raises a few questions:

  • First of all, where were these guys on Career Day in school? They could have seriously altered the trajectory of my life.
  • Who was the first person to say, “Hey, I can get paid for picking up this stuff!”
  • Likewise, who was the first person to say, “Hey, I can pay someone to pick up this stuff!”
  • What kind of experience lends itself to this kind of career? (I’m thinking, ex-Trump staff member, perhaps.)
  • What must the training process be like for this work?
  • Do you get to wear a suit, like those HAZMAT guys wear?
  • What opportunity for advancement is there? Can you get promoted, maybe to Master Scooper? Expert Scooper? Super Duper Scooper?
  • Would you even feel like taking a lunch break? Ever?
  • And why have I seen ads for more than one company? Is there seriously competition for this job?
  • What does it sound like when these guys “talk shop?” Example:

MOE: How’s business?

CURLY: Oh, it’s picking up, how about you?

MOE: Oh, I’m cleaning up, man!

  • Do the dogs get to know you well enough to plan for your visits?
  • Have I really written over 300 words on this topic?

 

I obviously have way too much time to think.

 

And How Was Your Day?

 

The surprises life occasionally drops in your lap can sometimes be nothing short of incredible.

 

I drive a shuttle bus five days a week for a particular business. I’ve been driving it for two years, now. In that time, I’ve gotten to know several of the folks who ride it on a regular basis. I know many of them by name, and enjoy talking with them when they ride with me.

We’ll talk about just random stuff: music, sports, the job, the mercilessly hot weather (currently), whatever.

And, somewhere in the conversation, I try to get a laugh or two out of them; maybe make them forget a few seconds about the stress of the day. Some people, I can joke with relentlessly, because we know each other that well by now.

This one fellow, who shall remain nameless, and I are like that, but one day, we got a little deeper in our dialogue. I don’t recall how we got to this subject, but I shared my depression struggles with him, which led to him opening up about his depression, and sometimes thoughts of suicide.

He told me he’s thought about it “logically”, i.e., exactly how he would go about it.

I told him about how I wrestle with those same thoughts, and recommended that he get help, as I did. Because, like I’ve said before on this blog, that’s way too big a dragon to try and slay on your own.

He thanked me for the talk, and we haven’t brought it up since. Which is probably bad; I should have followed up on it with him. But, I don’t see him as much, now; since relocating to the main office, he doesn’t need to go to the other facility too often. Not that that’s any excuse.

So today, when I walked into the office, the lady at the security desk, who I also know, had a card for me from him. Now, we both expected it to be something funny, because he and I sometimes leave snarky little notes for each other with her. She kinda gets a kick out of being the go-between, I think.

Not this time. Instead, it was a thank-you card. Inside was a generous gift, and a note which read:

I really struggled on a daily basis with depression during my old job. Part of the reason I was always on the bus was you. Thank you for making me laugh and smile.

 

I just stood there for a minute, looking at that note, totally dumbfounded. I genuinely didn’t know what to think. I’m still trying to get a grasp of the significance of it.

At the very least, though, it’s immensely gratifying. I have no idea if I’ve helped anyone with what I’ve written on this blog; I can only hope. But, I can take some satisfaction in knowing I helped him.

With just a few jokes. Who would have thought?

I don’t know what this story will mean to you, if anything. Like I said, I’m still processing what it means to me.

But, have you ever been at a point in your life where you never envisioned yourself being, wondering why you were there?

I don’t know for sure, but maybe, this guy was the reason I’m right here, right now.

Which blows my mind just a little.

Love one another, y’all.

 

 

Wendell is Smiling

 

All right, let’s hear it for Darrell Wallace, Jr.

Which is who, you ask?

Oh, he just finished second in Sunday’s NASCAR Daytona 500 stock car race. In only his fifth ever career start, no less.

Second? Big deal, you say.

Well, it is, and here’s why: It’s the highest finish ever at Daytona by an African American driver.

Not that that list is a terribly long one. Anybody know the last black driver in the Daytona 500?

Answer: Wendell Scott, in 1969.

Yep, you read that right. 1969. Forty…nine…years ago.

And Sunday, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, Jr. made a little history in Black History Month.

Congratulations, Mr. Wallace. This is a well-worn cliche, but even though you finished second, you’re definitely a winner.

That’s all I got today. Just wanted to shine a little spotlight on this man.

Take some time this month, or any month, to read up on some important folks whose lives we commemorate during Black History Month. Their history is very much part of ours.

 

Homewreckers

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Some things just don’t make sense to me.

I work over in a pretty heavily wooded area, which allows me to still catch an occasional glimpse of raccoons, possums, armadillos, squirrels and even deer as I drive up and down the same road all day.

I enjoy that very much. I love seeing wildlife; it’s my way, however small, of staying connected to nature.

One evening two weeks ago, when it was after dark and I was still driving, I came upon a deer crossing the road. Fortunately, I could stop in plenty of time to avoid hitting him. We just looked at each other for a second, then continued on our way.

A little later that same evening, I saw him again, over in the woods. I stopped a few seconds as we regarded each other again, me admiring the majestic presence of this beautiful animal, him…I don’t know, checking out some goof in a minibus.

And the sight of him thrilled me and saddened me, at the same time.

Because, it reminded me of what we’re doing to his home.

 

Now, I’m not saying we should never build any new roads, or construct any new buildings, in deference to the original inhabitants of this land. I know better.

But, here’s the part that doesn’t make sense:

On the street I drive on all day, what looks like a perfectly good office building sits empty, vacant, unused by anyone.

Meanwhile, more land nearby has been cleared for construction of a new office building.

And I don’t understand.

What’s wrong with the vacant building? Is it in disrepair inside? Wouldn’t it cost less to refurbish it, instead of starting from scratch?

And why do we have to crowd all the animals into an ever shrinking amount of space?

I just can’t help thinking, in our endless zeal to keep building, keep growing, keep expanding, maybe something’s gotten lost along the way.

Something like respect for the land, and the divine creatures that inhabit it.

Honestly, I don’t know what the solution is.

I just know, the last deer I saw was on the side of the road, dead, struck by a vehicle.

And it broke my heart in two.

 

Driven to Insanity

 

I drive a motor vehicle for a living. A shuttle van. 🚐

Bigger than a car or SUV, but not like a big 18-wheeler. 🚛

The point is, I’m a driver. Which is okay; I enjoy driving. Always have, I suppose.

I got to thinking about that lately, and had to chuckle a bit. Because my classmates in Drivers Education (along with the teacher) (and maybe, my parents) would have probably told you back then I should be banned from the road for life.

 

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My sophomore year of high school, I got to take Drivers Ed. This was a big deal. I was so ready to get my license and be out on the open road.

But the first step was getting through this class. The classroom portion was pretty straightforward and simple, learning rules and regulations, defensive driving, watching that driving film, stuff like that.

But then, there was the actual driving part. Getting behind the wheel and taming that beast!

That gave me a bit of trouble.

For example, my first time to get out on the highway, I thought I was doing pretty well. My teacher wasn’t yelling at me, he maintained a calm demeanor the whole trip, just writing things down occasionally on some kind of form on a clipboard.

Then it came time for me to pull over and trade places with the other student, in the back seat; it was his turn. The teacher got out of the car to stretch for a bit. While he was out, I noticed, in the front seat, the form he had been writing on.

It was a driver evaluation.

At the bottom of the page was a blank section designated “Comments.”

In the Comments section, he wrote: Scared hell out of me.

Hmmm. Guess I didn’t do so great, after all.

Wasn’t exactly perfect on the practice course at school, either. I remember one particular session where I started to slowly drift into the path of an oncoming car. (I mean, 5 MPH slowly, if that.) I didn’t hit the car; I corrected my course in time, but the other people in my car and in the other car all reacted as if we narrowly avoided a fatal head-on collision, blood and scattered body parts and everything. When it was time to switch drivers, the one in the other car got out and, clearly perturbed, asked me, “What are you trying to do, kill us all?”

OK, so I had my moments.

Then, there was the whole ordeal of learning to drive a car with manual transmission. All I have to say about that is: I HATE manual transmission. Please, may I never have to use it again!

 

The first time I took my on-the-road driving test was great fun. (That, ladies and gentlemen, is sarcasm.) For one thing, I took it in our Chevrolet Kingswood Estate station wagon.

Now, if you’ve never seen one of those, I invite you to Google it and check out the images. The thing measured approximately 50 feet long. You could eat dinner in the front seat while the guy in the back was having breakfast.

Now, try to imagine parallel parking that bad boy.

Needless to say, that’s why I had to take a second on-the-road driving test. Took that one in Dad’s not-much-shorter Pontiac Grand Prix. (Welcome to History of Automobiles) This time, fortunately, I had a younger examiner. The first guy, you could literally break pieces of crust off him.

Anyway, I passed the second time. Yaaayyyy!!

Now I could drive on my own, and start scaring the hell out of my friends, too! Which I did, poor souls.

 

Through the years, I’m happy to say, I’ve gotten better. Now, I’m a more conscientious driver, and I can even communicate with other drivers in fluent sign language.

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