fuzzy, black dogs

fuzzy, black dogs
All three of my fuzzy, black dogs -- Bob, Ace and Lilly.

Phillip's Scenic Overlook

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cigarettes Kill

I've started yet another job. I think I'm up to four on the job count. Let's see... I'm an author, a blog post writer, a teacher's assistant and now an employee at a retail store. (Sadly, two are voluntary at this time.) As far as the new job goes, so far so good. Working with the public is the easiest part since I'm never at a loss for what to say. However, I'm finding out that there are some tough aspects to my new job as well.

Since it's a retail store, it's kinda like a giant game of concentration. I'm certain I stocked the shampoo on aisle six and the medicine on aisle 13 about a week ago. Sometime between a week ago and last night, someone obviously broke into our store and moved the shampoo to 13 and the medicine to six. I haven't yet broken the news to my boss. I don't want to upset her.

Also, I still haven't figured out what all we carry within the confines of our little store.

"Excuse me," said a customer Monday night. "Where would I find the Velcro?"

Velcro? Did he say Velcro? As in hook and loop material? Do we even carry that product? Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh! Because it's not very professional to just scream "help," I calmly pressed the page button on the phone and said, "assistance needed at the front counter."

I should probably ease up on the "assistance" pages before my coworkers and boss decide to tie me up with the phone cord.

The toughest aspect by far would be the cigarettes. My first cigarette sale was disastrous. A gentleman came in for a pack of "reds." I turned around. My heart began racing. Behind me is an entire wall dedicated to tobacco products and a large majority of them are cigarettes. An entire third of them are red. A third of them are silver and a third are green. The rest were variations and combinations of red, silver and green, and a few other colors thrown in for good measure.

Math not withstanding, I knew I had to think of something quick. I turned back to the customer.
"Which red ones," I asked politely.
"The ones behind you," he said. No good...
"Which brand would that be sir," I asked. He gave me a hard stare.
"Obviously that'd be the Marlboros," he replied.
I turned and grabbed a pack and handed them to him. He gave me another hard stare. Then he handed them back to me.
"I'd really like some Marlboro Reds," he said. "Not these. And not in a soft pack this time."
"They're all kind of soft and squishy," I said, hoping to alleviate the moment with a little humor.
"You ain't never smoked, have you, son" he asked me.

That's when I came up with a great idea. I bravely suggested it to him. He unhappily agreed and watched as I placed my finger on one pack. I then proceeded to walk the wall, sliding my finger down the infinite row of cigarettes until he finally said "stop." And, voila, problem solved.

I don't think my boss will allow me to refuse cigarette sales on the grounds that they are unhealthy. And most smokers take their cigarette brands seriously. So if I don't learn which is which, those cigarettes will be the death of me!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fuzzy Black Dogs on Ice

It seems that the newest fuzzy, black dog, otherwise known as Bob, hasn't noticed that the ground has changed colors. I put the three of them out the back door and into the yard to do their business. As I opened the door, Bob barreled out just like I'd expect a spaniel to do. Generally, the only thing he notices is when there is a gale force wind driving torrents of rain sideways. He doesn't care for that.

On the other hand, Ace and Lilly, were just a bit more reserved about the cold, ice-slushie bathroom break. Ace generally does what I ask him to do. Generally. He slowed down considerably on the deck and looked around before going down the steps to the yard. Lilly, however, stopped half-way out the door.

One paw touched the cold, slippery stuff and the almighty princess, as my son sometimes calls her, stopped dead in her tracks. Now she's standing in the doorway with two paws inside, one paw in the vile, inhospitable ice-slush and one paw held in the air. She held this position and looked up at me with an expression that could only be translated as follows: "You pulled me off the comfy sofa to do this to me?! Wait'll you see what I've got planned when you go to sleep..."

Meanwhile, Ace has learned a new trick. While Bob is out running around the yard like it's a fine spring day, Ace is sitting nearly out of sight at the bottom step, waiting. After a certain amount of time, he runs back up the steps and to the door like he's done his business. Then I have to walk out into the elements and point out into the yard telling him to "go." Sometimes I even have to walk to the bottom step and "catch" him sitting there, as if he thinks I don't know.

In the meantime, Bob, having done his business came barreling back up to the back door. While incredibly cute, Bob is not the most intelligent or coordinated dog of the bunch. He hit the top step at top speed. He gave the appearance of trying to stop, but managed to slide completely across the deck and in through the back door. One down, two to go.

Lilly followed with her head and tail down, slowly and carefully placing each foot in the mess. She flashed an indignant look at me as she passed. Then came Ace, who had finally ventured out into the yard. I know I saw him do number one, but I didn't remember seeing number two.

As I finally made my way inside, I heard my son's voice just inside the door...

"Oooohhh...  Da poor doggies! He's so mean to da poor doggies! Forcing da poor innocent doggies to poop and pee out in da howwible howwible weather..."

Perhaps I can train him. Then I can stay toasty and warm inside while he takes them out in the howwible, howwible weather!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wetsuits, Snorkels and Dead Bodies! Oh My!

(Travel Date: February 5, 2012. Blog Post Number... Okay, nevermind!)

Okay, we really have to start from the evening of Saturday, February 4th. That would be the evening with the midnight party and buffet on the main deck. That was the night of the drunk people on the dance floor. Honestly, there are few things in life quite as entertaining as a really drunk person stumbling to the dance floor to show off his or her "moves."

Well, that evening there was a his and a hers! She climbed atop of the stone statue at the head of the pool. That's where she showed off her "moves." Not surprisingly, the rhythm of her "moves" did NOT seem to follow the rhythm of the music being blasted across the deck. He was wearing a suit up top and nothing on the bottom but his skivvies. Really. And he showed off his "moves" to any woman brave enough to come within a three foot radius of his gyrations and seizures. From my vantage point, it looked as though he scared a lot of women off.

Want to know what an evening of wild revelry and debauchery is good for? It makes breakfast the next day a quiet, more enjoyable ordeal for those of us who didn't get stinking drunk from Bahama Mamas or Coco Locos.

Some time after our pleasant breakfast, we were shuttled to the cruise line's private island called Coco Cay. I decided that if we were going to spend time in the water, my son and I would need wetsuits. We donned our rented wetsuits. It was amazing the number of heads that turned. Women up and down the beach could only gaze and wonder. That tight wetsuit accentuated all my manly curves.

After breaking away from all the attention, my son and I decided it was time to get wet. Decked out in our manly wetsuits and snorkeling gear, we hit the water. And we snorkeled. And snorkeled. And then snorkeled around some more. We had quite a blast out in the water, only to find our group spot deserted upon resigning from our water activities.

He and I spent maybe 30 to 45 minutes just trying to locate one of our herd that came out to the island with us. During that time, we got hungry. Naturally, we found some food and sat to eat. That's when this wild looking couple came upon us.

"You'd better tell your wife where you are," my parents said. "She told the officials you went snorkeling and never came back. I think they're dragging the lagoon looking for your dead bodies now."

Unbeknownst to me, my nephew wimping out halfway through the snorkeling adventure was merely the beginning of the end. That's when the trip took a turn for the worst. And that, my friends, is another blog post...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

True Grace and Style Never Go Unrecognized

(Travel Date: February 4, 2012. Blog Post Num. 34.4932.78)

The first full day of vacation on the Royal Caribbean cruise line Monarch of the Seas started off poorly. A word to the wise -- don't put off until tomorrow that which needs to be done today!

Normally, one of the first things that my wife and I do upon reaching our travel destination is to organize and put our clothes away. Had we stuck with that plan, then Friday would have ended badly and Saturday would have started better. Somehow, it seems like it would be better to end a day on a bad note than to start a day on a bad note.

As we began organizing and putting our clothes away, I noticed that we had forgotten to pack a few items. Most of the missing items, as it turns out, were minor inconveniences that were easily handled. However, I discovered an essential piece of clothing missing from my wardrobe. I've been home now for approximately two days and I still can't find the missing items! I'm down to only four!

In order to prevent any scarring upon the minds of my readers, I will not mention what it was that was forgotten. Suffice it to say that I had to go "al fresco" (as my sisters and I used to call it ages ago) throughout the remainder of our vacation. For those of you unfamiliar with that term, I believe it is more commonly called going "commando."

A little bit later in the morning, the day got rougher, literally. My wife and I sat and watched the whitecaps and the waves for a short while. The spray coming off the tops of the whitecaps began wetting us down and making us just a little chilly. Once we moved away from the pool, everything got a little better. Or at least until I ordered the bucket o' beer.

A good bit later in the day, my wife and I found ourselves by the pool again. The bucket seemed like a good idea. Through sheer coincidence, as the waiter handed me the bucket, one of the straps on the deck chair gave away underneath me.
"That was not smooth, man," he said in what sounded like a smooth, Jamaican accent.
"That's why I got lite beer," I laughed, handling the situation with true style and panache.
Apparently it was a good joke. He laughed. He was probably thinking what a witty, stylish guy I was as he walked away, leaving me to extricate myself from the chair. I pulled myself out of the hole and inspected the straps. Aha! It was just as I suspected. I discovered some dry rot on the broken strap.

He probably knew about that. If he did, it would explain why he gave me respectful fist-bumps each time he saw me throughout the remainder of the cruise.

Monday, February 6, 2012

"Look... We Can See the World from Here!"

(Travel Date: February 3, 2012. Blog Post Num. 32.4587.29)

The Haworth Herd (since there's too many of us to be called the Haworth Party) made it to the airport successfully and without incident. We arrived at the US Airways counter, en masse. An intimidating sight for any agent, I'm sure, but the US Airways representative behind the counter seemed to take it in stride.

After an interminable amount of time and conversation elapsed, I distinctly heard the agent say that it seemed our flight tickets had been cancelled. Well, he said in his friendliest, no-nonsense way, it seems that they were cancelled back in November. Strangely enough, that was also the same time that my parents booked this cruise ship vacation.

Naturally, several in our herd whipped out cell phones and began making phone calls. The phone calls yielded nothing, of course, since the travel agency we used to book this vacation was NOT open at six o'clock in the morning! The nice airline rep also said it looked as though our travel agent was the one who cancelled the flight.

It occurred to someone that if the travel agent cancelled our flight, did they cancel our trip as well? Would we be able to board the cruise ship? I immediately called "dibs" on the front position of the new boat we might be taking. You know the spot -- the person in the front with the megaphone calling out "Row! Row! Row!"

We managed to clear that mess up with our super nice US Airways rep. Everything seemed to be in order. We were finally ready to go. All we had to do was make a mad dash to the idling-and-nearly-ready-to-take-off  plane waiting on the tarmac. The counter rep read off the list of names for whom he had create a flight ticket. However, one name was missing... Mine!

Some time later, as I sat comfortably -- or as comfortably one can get on a plane -- I heard my seven year-old nephew sum up the situation well to his brother. Shortly after take-off, he said, "Look Dave! We can see the whole world from here!"