Bbbys

A few years ago my husband and I decided to have lunch together. The area where we work, which is a pedestrian mall, has lots of restaurants, and some of them have outdoor eating areas. We got some food from a place that has a great salad bar, and sat at a table at the outdoor eating patio in front of the store.

About 15 minutes later and older gentleman approaches us and says, “I’m not going to make you move, because you’re pretty much done with your lunch, but this eating area for Baggby’s only.”

Baggby’s being the sandwich shop right next to the place where we bought our salads.

I smiled at him and said in return, “I’m so sorry! I saw the plackard in front of this eating area and thought the seating area belong to the place where we bought our lunch.”

He, in turn said quite nastily, “I don’t care what you thought. There is a sign right there (picture him pointing) that says this eating area is for Baggby’s only.” Then he began to rattle off the money he has to pay each month for the spot, and how it’s not spent for folks who don’t support his business.

I stood up and said, while cleaning up my stuff, “well you don’t have to worry about seeing me here again, because if this is the way you deal with an honest mistake, I’d rather eat out of the garbage can than ever buy anything at your restaurant.”

And I’ve stuck to it. Besides, their sandwiches are expensive and completely average. I’ve made tastier sandwiches using Oscar Mayer lunch meat.

Today at my office they are hosting a lunch and learn. I could’ve had a free lunch courtesy of our guest speaker. But he was ordering from Baggby’s.

I proudly passed and brought lunch from home instead. Because even if I wasn’t paying for it, I didn’t want that asshole making one thin dime from me.

podcast-headphones

For the past few years I was a devoted downloader of audio books from LibriVox.org – it’s a site that has tons of books that have been released into the public domain.  Through that site I discovered a stockpile of great reading material that I might have overlooked simply because the books were “old.” I discovered authors like Horatio Alger, Jr., and Lucy Maud Montgomery, and wonderful books like “The Enchanted Barn,” and “Dandelion Cottage.”

But after a few years, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve listened to all the good ones. I’ve downloaded dud after dud the past month or so – either the story sucks or the reader does, and I give up after a chapter or two. I needed something new, and fast.

Enter the podcast. I found that there are tons and tons of podcasts on iTunes – all free, and just sitting there waiting for me to download and enjoy. I mean, there are so many it’s almost overwhelming. It’s like I’d stumbled into an audio goldmine.

Here are my favorites so far:

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.03.43 PMReal Time with Bill Maher: We recently had to cancel HBO in order to save some money on our ever-rising cable bill. Therefore, I was thrilled to see that I could download new episodes and listen to them while I walk. Who needs to see the panel? It’s what they say that’s of any interest anyway.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.09.22 PMRadio Diaries: This was the first of the story-telling podcasts I stumbled across. They are stories on seemingly random topics – like when a plane hit the Empire State Building back in the 40’s, or the Miss Subways contests, which I never even knew existed.  There were only ten episodes available for download, and I listened to every one of them. I’m hoping for more to be available soon.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.16.53 PMCriminal: Stories of crime – like a guy who went to jail for murdering his wife, when actually they think she was killed from an owl attack. Or a girl who spent a few months passing off counterfeit $20 bills with her shiftless boyfriend. Or, a young hacker who pretty much shut down the internet back in 1999.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.45.38 PMUnfictional: I’m not sure how to describe this one. It’s just stories on random topics…a gravedigger in England, the Salem Witch Trials, the story of Dog Mountain. Perhaps it seems like a snooze to you, but they are really well-crafted and super interesting. They remind me of when CBS Sunday Morning runs a story on some person you never heard of, but it’s still very entertaining.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 1.59.36 PMPorchlight Storytelling Series: This one’s a wee bit wacky. These two San Francisco gals invite 6 people to an open mike to tell their stories relating to a specific topic. These can be delicously awkward, especially when the story teller is hoping for a response from the audience—aka, a laugh—and gets none. Plus they never know how to end the story gracefully. It’s great.

I really dig these podcasts – maybe because they remind me of my blog. I’m just telling my stories to anyone who cares to listen. I, in turn, like hearing their stories. It makes the world seem wonderfully chaotic – filled with all these people who all have their own tales to tell.

I’ll tell you, it makes my walks and my morning commute much more entertaining.

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This morning I was taking my usual 2.25 mile walk around my neighborhood. The street I predominantly walk on is somewhat busy, especially in the morning with folks heading to work and school buses picking up kids. So even though I am usually listening to a podcast or an audio book, I keep my eyes and ears open to what is going on around me.

I was coming up to an intersection and noticed a car was approaching but wasn’t concerned because she has a stop sign and I was pretty much already 1/3 of the way across the street. She’s rolling up, and rolling up, and her car begins to turn (towards me) and turn and she’s still coming, and I’m still walking and she’s still coming.

I pretty much had to stop dead in my tracks to avoid being hit. As I peered into her driver’s side window to be sure a zombie wasn’t behind the wheel, I see a woman, head down, fiddling with stuff in her middle console.

Her head was down. And she was making a left hand turn onto a busy street. She never even stopped.

I began to yell things like, “Hey watch it!” and  “You almost hit me!” as her car moved on down the road. I was pissed, and I felt the need to tell her so. I raised my bright green gloved hands and gave her the double middle finger.

As I began to turn back around, I noticed her put on her brakes and pull to the side. So I stopped, took off my headphones and watched as she made a U-Turn and came back my way.

She pulled up along side me, lowered her window and began to apologize. The first thing she said? “I wasn’t texting.”

Apparently she had spilled her coffee and was too preoccupied with that to notice me. Okay, I guess that can happen. We’ve all been distracted while driving from time to time, and luckily nobody got hurt. Then she volunteered the information that she was breast pumping – I am assuming it was an automated thing – but I guess she needed it to add validity to the fact that she blew through a stop sign and almost killed me.

Being a naturally forgiving person, I was telling her that all was okay when she said, “But I have to tell you, it was very inappropriate for you to give me the double finger when I have kids in the car.”

Um….what?

For a split second, I felt a pang of shame, but then my rage took over. The rest of the coversation went something like this…

ME: Are you kidding me? You almost ran me over!

IDIOTIC DRIVER: But I have a four year old and a baby in the car – that was very rude.

ME: Well gee, maybe you would’ve been happier if you had actually hit me. Then your kids wouldn’t have been subject to seeing the middle finger. Instead they’d get to see a mother of two put into an ambulance because their mom doesn’t know how to pay attention.

IDIOTIC DRIVER: Yes, I was wrong to not be looking, but you were wrong to give me the finger.

ME: I had every right to do that! YOU ALMOST HIT ME! Besides, how am I supposed to know you have kids in the car? I was too busy watching my life pass before my eyes to take note of how many passengers you had in your car and the ages of each!

IDIOTIC DRIVER: You should ALWAYS assume there are kids in the car and never gesture like that.

ME: Why would I ever assume you had kids in your car WHEN YOU ARE MAKING A LEFT HAND TURN WHILE LOOKING AT YOUR LAP? What lunatic drives like that with KIDS IN THE CAR?

Inner dialogue: Ok moron – here are a few things I can assume.

  1. I can assume that when you come to a stop sign, you are actually going to stop, especially if there is a person in front of you.
  2. I can assume that if you did spill your coffee, the responsible thing to do is to put your fucking car in park and take care of it. NOT to just keep on truckin’ while you mop up your shit.

If I can’t assume those things, I should not feel the need to assume that your precious kids are in the car. Kids that you are so fearful of maybe knowing what the middle finger means rather than a mom who drives distracted.

She was apologizing over and over, but she was asking me to do the same and I just would not. In the end I might have said something like “Fine Sorry. Whatever. Keep your eyes on the road.”

Bottom line was, she was wrong. Dead wrong. Yet somehow she was incenced that I had flipped her the bird. I’ve been in her shoes – but when I make a boneheaded driving mistake I beg forgiveness and take whatever crap the other guys throws at me. I have it coming.

Because after she almost hit me I was not going to let this lady continue on with her busy toddler toting, breast pumping day without letting her know just what I thought of her. And short of chasing her down, which I could not do, I resorted to the international sign for go fuck yourself. Sue me if you disagree, but in my book I had the absolute right.

And as I walked back home, it dawned on me that her kids couldn’t possibly have seen me flip the bird. They were driving away; the kid’s backs to me. Unless her kids are owls, or Linda Blair, there is no way they could’ve seen it. But I failed to think of it when I could have used it to shut her big trap.

And that is so Typical of me.

Life Awaits you

You know, life can really be a mind-meld, especially if you try to make any sort of sense out of it.

We recently noticed our dishwasher was leaking water. After finding yet another puddle of water on the kitchen floor, Hubby was all ready to head to Lowe’s and plop $500 down on a new one. Afterall, it’s more than 10 years old. But I was not quite ready to throw my money in Lowe’s direction. Perhaps the seal was worn.  Maybe there’s an easy fix if we do a little research.

So I made a call to Whirlpool, and put hubby on the phone with a parts gal, and together they realized that somewhere in the past month or so, a little part had fallen out/off of our washer. And the best part was the fix only cost us $27.

I spent the rest of the afternoon bathed in a rosy glow, happy that we had avoided spending all that money. Perhaps the rosy glow was more due to the low-grade fever I was running at the time, but I was happy none-the less.

Flash forward to 5 pm. I’m feeling pretty lousy, sick with a cold, when I go to the laundry room and immediately step into a puddle of water. What? Not again.

Turns out something behind the wall is leaking. This is where the life mind-meld comes in. I had just saved us $500 mere hours before. And here we are staring at a job that we are going to need to call a plumber to fix.

It was like a financial final destination. I’d cheated life out of our having to pay $500 bucks to the universe, and it came right around and found another way to make me pay.

It was super spooky. And really annoying.

bigstock-Quick-Dry-Cleaning-Retro-Ad-17348990

I recently listened to a podcast about jobs that are becoming extinct, and it made me think of George.

For as long as I can remember, a man named George came to our home every Saturday morning/early afternoon to pick up and drop off my parent’s dry cleaning. While the art of dry cleaning clothes is not likely to fall by the wayside like the milkman any time soon, this man actually delivered his services. And nobody does that anymore – not around here, anyway.

Except Domino’s and Papa John’s.

Each Saturday George would spend a few minutes standing in our foyer as my mom took dad’s freshly cleaned clothes wrapped in cellophane, and would hand him the week’s soiled suits. He’d hang them on one arm and talk with mom or dad for a few minutes, then he’d be on his way. He was bald and had a moustache – and he wore glasses.

George saw me grow up in an odd sort of way, one Saturday at a time. As a kid he saw me in my pajamas, in my bathing suit, and with curlers in my hair. When I got older, he cleaned my Leonia High School jacket, and my prom dress, and. And each Saturday someone would chat with him in our foyer. For years and years and years. It was really a very intimate sort of relationship.

And I had sort of forgotten about him until this morning. So here’s to you, George. Thanks for being a part of my family each and every Saturday.

Old News

This morning while watching the Today Show they did a story about boys who insist on wearing shorts to school in the dead of winter.

I turned to my husband and said smuggly, “Hmph! I blogged about that two years ago.”

And if you go on the Today Show’s website, the story is “trending.”

My husband, while supportive of my blog, thinks it’s boring. He’s not alone. I had this comment from some asshole who I hope is an ex-reader a month or so back…

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 12.26.09 PM

I answered with the typical “If you find it meaningless, then don’t read it (shithead).”

And the things I wrtie about? They’re not meaningless – not to me. They are my thoughts and memories and observations from my little corner of the world. And I was tickled pink to see that a social phenomenom that I had blogged about in the past made it to the main stream.

And is trending.

Kids Knees

 

Track

My freshman year in high school I decided to join winter track. I’d always been a decent runner, and I was eager to get involved in a school sport now that volleyball season had ended.

During tryouts, the coach had the freshman run various race lengths to see where our strengths lied. I was at the starting line getting ready to run the 220 next to a proven sophomore – she had legs like a colt and was rumored to be the best female runner on the team.

She knew it too. She looked at me with snort and a smirk, clearly displaying her superiority over a mere freshman. It pissed me off, and I wanted to beat her really, really badly. The coach, before firing the starter pistol, warned us to take it easy and not push ourselves to the max. These were just warm up races.

Yeah, coach. Sure thing. You betcha.

When the pistol shot rang out I was off, as was the smirking sophomore. We quickly left the pack behind, and it was just me and her out in front. We were neck and neck for the longest time, when I heard her say, “Ugh, I can’t!” as I passed her.

Ha! Having crossed the finish line first, I toyed with the idea of smirking back at her, but Tracy don’t play that way. Instead, I walked it off, heading across the field back to the starting line. As I approached the team clustered around the stands, a few girls ran up to me and said, “You broke the school record!”

WHAT? ME? On my first DAY?!?

Turns out I had. I was so intent on beating that show-off sophomore that I had run faster than even I knew I could. The coach confirmed it, but said it could not be counted officially because it had not happened during an actual race, just during practice. A friend of mine said that during the race the coach had said something to effect of, “Look at her go…”

I always liked that.

I spent the next month or so running and re-running the 220 in practice, sometimes breaking the record, sometimes not. Our only meet that season was a huge Tri-State event in which runners from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania would compete. It was held on a college campus with a large, indoor track facility; where I could not tell you. I just know we had to leave really early and the bus ride was loooong.

I had one event, a relay in which each of 4 team members ran 220 yards and passed the baton to the next runner. While I cared if my team won our heat, I was more interested in my portion of the race, because this was my shot at beating our school record.

The event arena was crowded, and It was difficult to make my way to the starting line when the call time for our race came. groups of students from God knows how many schools were camped in any open spot they could find

I had the outside lane. I remember being confident rather than nervous at the starting line. All I had to do was run, right?

As I heard the bang of the starting pistol, I was off running and was soon neck and neck with girls from the tri-state area, but I wasn’t interested in them. I could come in dead last, as long as I beat our school’s record.

As I came into the first turn, there were legs across the track. How odd.

See, the arena was really too small for all the people that were there. A set of bleachers came within 2 feet or so of the outside lane of the track until you got to the turns, where it opened up a bit. A group of students had decided this little spot by the turn would be the perfect place to hang out and relax before their next event. Apparently said group of students had not heard the race begin.

So there they were. A set of legs, clad in athletic socks and white sneakers, in my path. Not to be deterred, I leapt over them without breaking stride, which was fine & dandy.

Except for when I landed, my ankle twisted and I stumbled right into the girl running next to me, who fell. It was enough of a blunder to demolish my time and annihilate any chance I had at the school record. I remember passing the baton to my team mate with the sage advice of “Run your ass off!”

Our team not only lost, but didn’t qualify for the next heat. And like that my winter track season was over. I would never gaze proudly at my name on the record board in the cafeteria. No mention of my name would be made in the morning annoucements in home room. No accolades, no nods of approval from fellow classmates.

zip.

As if all that wasn’t bad enough, the chick I stumbled into? She was pissed. And tough. She looked like a Bronx gang lord. I’d not only messed up my chances, I’d messed hers up as well. With wounded pride and a sore ankle I spent the remainder of the meet skulking around in the shadows desperately trying to avoid getting my ass kicked.

I don’t rememer if my coach ever lodged a complaint about the human obstacle in my path. Who knows what might have happened if that girl had sat cross-legged, or had used a Q-tip that morning and had thus heard the starter pistol, or maybe just decided that baton twirling would be way more fun that winter track. Who knows?

But she was there, and in my path, and changed my fate.

Typical.

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The other day we were talking about crime filled areas, and somebody mentioned that I must have experience with that coming from Northern Jersey, and having lived so close to New York. Actually, my town had very little serious crime at all. Until January 8th, 1975 that is.

I had been at the next door neighbor’s house playing, and walked across the driveway to the back door. I found it locked and banged on the glass to be let in. My sister, peeking through the door, quickly opened it up, pulled me in, and locked the door behind me.

Then she said, “There’s been a murder in town.”

What? IN LEONIA? To make matters worse, it had happened just a few blocks away. And I had just been out in the near dark alone…with a murderer on the loose.

Over the course of the next few days we’d all hear the gruesome details of how Joseph Kallinger, a shoemaker from Philadelphia and his son, forced their way into a house in my town and murdered a young nurse, Maria Fasching, in the basement.

After the murder Kallinger and his son had walked down to a park in our town that is literally a few houses from where my husband grew up…they probably walked right past his house to get there. They had washed off in a puddle in the park, and Kallinger discarded his bloody shirt there, which was a dopey move because the shirt had his name imprinted in it from his cleaners in Philly.

He was caught days later.

Maria Fasching’s face was plastered on the cover of every newspaper for days, and I remember feeling so sad for her. She was young, and was going to be married. And she just happened to stop by that house to check on a patient at the wrong time.

Oh, and that house – it scared the crap out of me for years and years. If I had to walk past it in the daytime, I’d try to not stare at the basement windows. But at night? I kept my eyes on the sidewalk and walked very, very fast.

There was a book written about Joseph Kallinger and his life leading up to the murders called “The Shoemaker.” I’ve read it, and let me tell you, this guy was really wacko. It amazed me that someone so mentally ill could slip through the cracks and live right out in the world with the rest of us. It scares me to think of how many similar characters are out there now…

Yesterday marked the 40 year anniversary of that murder. It really changed our little town – it smudged it. Made it seem less of haven and slightly haunted.

FIVE

WordPress sent me a congratulatory message today – I’ve been blogging for five years.

I was like, “whoa, really?”

So I checked. My first post on my first blog was exactly 5 years ago today. It was a private blog, meant only to record happenings in my life and stories of the past for my kids. But after a few posts, my ego got the better of me – I wanted to tell my idiotic tales to the world!

I was curious to see how many followers I could get, or if anyone cared enough to comment on a particular story. I started a semi-daily blog regarding my diet and weight loss goals, and stuck to that for a year and change – way longer than I stuck to my diet.

Then in July of 2011 I started Typical Tracy with no fanfare or intro blog. I just started writing. While I’m no internet sensation, I have to say I am smugly pleased with myself. I have over 470 followers to date and almost 34,000 total views. Not to bad for an absolute zero from New Jersey.

My most popular post by a landslide is the one I wrote about my years on the nude beach. Go figure. Another popular one was about girls who wear boots with shorts. Not sure how that one marched it’s way to the top of the old blog hit parade.

But there are some posts that I thought were overlooked – ones worthy of more views than they actually got. Here are a few for your re-consideration.

1. The worst camping weekend. Ever.

2. My Biting Habit

3. Driving Miss Tracy

4. Losing One’s Debit Card

5. Getting Even is Sweet

And in case anyone is mildly interested, below is a screenshot of my first ever blog post. Oh, and thanks so much for reading. Here’s to another five years together.

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2014 – I have to admit it was kind of a cruddy year. We lost a pet, I learned that Obamacare is not in any way affordable, and in turn am stuck driving the Sloviemobile, at 235,000 miles, for God knows how long. But in an effort to end it on a positive note, I’ll talk about the good things the year had to offer.

I’m still alive. That’s always good. Although I finished off yet another year not losing a single pound, I did manage to walk over 400 miles in 2014, so much so that I actually wore a hole in my sneakers.

I saw my friend John. My trip to NYC in June was probably the best 72 hours of the entire year – I only wish I’d had 24 hours more – then I might have been able to eat a hot dog at Hirams. Best of all was sharing a few hours with my oldest buddy John, and finally meeting his significant other over several drinks and fabulous Chinese food.

The Week at Flagler Beach. During our annual visit to my dad’s in Florida I came to the conclusion that I absolutely adore Flagler Beach. It’s kitchy and unspoiled and a mere 10 minute drive from Dad’s house. If I ever decided to do the senior move down to good old F-L-A, Flagler Beach is where I’ll place my Welcome mat.

The Big Breakup. My daughter finally got her head together and broke up with her manipulative boyfriend who was wasting a ton of her time and bringing down her GPA.

Summer Days at King’s Dominion. I really had a blast this past summer with my girls at KD, the big amusement park an hour away from our home. With a season pass it was fun every 10 days or so to take a few hours, go on rides and leave without feeling like we didn’t get our money’s worth. If the park was empty, we stayed all day. If it was crowded, we’d split and spend the day shopping instead. We already have our season passes for 2015…and it is my goal to ride the Intimidator.

As this year ticks away its last few hours, I wish my readers a fantastic new year filled with love, health and happiness. And here’s hoping 2015 is a year very untypical to Tracy.

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