truck and lasso

a dad blog

Archive for the category “Nostalgia”

Dent Remover

I used to work at Winn Dixie as a bag boy.  I started when I was 15, so I was a pretty senior bag boy by the time I graduated high school.  And the perks that came with that seniority were amazing.

I got to make up the overhead announcement code for a pretty girl in the store, I didn’t have to do cart roundups in the rain, I could eat out of the candy bins and was entitled to deli fried chicken at 50% off 30 minutes before these markdowns were made public.

It was difficult not to let all of this power go to my head.  I mean, I’m 17 years old and can get fried chicken at 50% off before the public even knows about it?  What would you do?  There were three of us that ruled the backroom and we made rookie bag boys miserable.  We used to play pranks on them.  I can’t believe they fell for most of the shit we piled on them.  But they did.  Here are a few of my favorites:

“Customers won’t buy the salad dressings if they’re separated.  Please make sure to shake them every hour, at least two minutes per bottle.  If the manager walks by and sees them separated, you’ll lose your job.”

“Our sell-by date on meat is contingent on a regiment of vigorous patting once a day.  Before you leave, take each parcel of meat out of the cooler and pat it down, a hard steady pat moving from left to right.  Don’t over-pat the middle or it will turn and we’ll have to throw it away.  And it will come out of your check.”

“You see all of these dents made by carts on the metal trim around the perimeter of the store?  Great.  I need you to find the dent remover and spray all of them.  The dent remover was in the produce department, last I checked.”

“Mop the freezer.”

“A customer just complained about the taste of the water in the water fountain.  I need you to grab three of the five gallon buckets, unplug it and empty it.  The guy just came in and filled it, so it may take a while.  Just keep at it.”

I pray Roscoe has his mom’s common sense.


Funny Church Bulletins

My mom says that she used to tell me on the way to church that we had to be quiet.  She would then ask if we knew why we had to be quiet.

“Sure,” I’d say, “People are sleeping.”

To this day, I don’t think I said that.  I think it was an old joke that morphed into a story about me.  Like the one about sharing that ends with me saying to my sister:

“Then you be Jesus and I’ll eat the pancakes.”

We’ve started taking Roscoe to church, although we are not the most disciplined bunch as far as getting him there.  We love the sense of community our church encourages and have made a wonderful group of friends.

And my favorite part of community, hands down, is community bulletins.  Working in advertising, I’m especially fond of typos in church bulletins.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Don’t let ‘worry’ kill you – let the church help.

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.

For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

The rosebud on the alter this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.

This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church.  Children will be baptized at both ends.

Tuesday at 4:00 PM there will be an ice cream social.  All ladies giving milk will please come early.

Wednesday the ladies liturgy will meet. Mrs. Johnson will sing “Put me in my little bed” accompanied by the pastor.

Thursday at 5:00 PM there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers Club.  All ladies wishing to be “Little Mothers” will meet with the Pastor in his study.

The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind.  They can be seen in the church basement Saturday.

At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What is Hell?” Come early and listen to our choir practice.

The Reverend Merriweather spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience.

The eighth graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the church basement on Friday at 7:00 p.m.  The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

During the absence of our pastor we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Scubbs supplied our pulpit.

Weight Watchers will meet at 7:00 pm at the First Presbyterian Church.  Please use the large double door at the side entrance.

The Associate minister unveiled the church’s new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday – “I upped my pledge – up yours!”

The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, “Break Forth Into Joy.”

Evening massage — 6 p.m.

The audience is asked to remain seated until the end of the recession.

Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 to 8:30 p.m.  Please use the back door.

And my all-time favorite:

Morning Service:  Jesus Walks on Water

Evening Service:  Searching for Jesus

XBOX 360

This boy is awesome.  Beyond the kids’ reactions, however, I love the father who yells from off camera to his son on Christmas morning:

“Don’t mess up the box!”

The unmistakable call of an avid collector.  He probably buys two of every action figure- one to open, one to save.

Christina’s World

This painting is the first piece of art that affected me.  Sixth grade.  We visited a local gallery exhibiting paintings by Andrew Wyeth’s son, I think, and studied this famous work by senior Wyeth in preparation.  The inspiration behind the piece broke my heart.  A young girl with polio crawling across a barren field towards a farm house in the distance as the artist watched from a nearby window.

I had seen art before, but this was the first time my heart hurt for the subject and I had a gut reaction:

Hey asshole!  Why don’t you go outside and help the poor little crippled girl across the field?

I had dinner with friends recently and, Roscoe as our inspiration, we talked about our earliest memories.  My friend Christina is a tall, graceful young woman with style to spare.  So it was really funny when she told a story about being pigeon-toed as a toddler.  To correct the problem, she was prescribed a corrective shoe-brace combination.  Imagine a flat metal slat making an ‘H’ with your shoes.  And the shoes?  The Amish would laugh at them.

Fortunately, she only had to wear it at night.

She had no concept of a physical ailment that required correcting.  Her family just assumed that she knew that something was wrong and that she was getting a brace as a result.  No one sat her down and laid it out.

To Christina, the brace was a punishment.  It was impossible to walk in the contraption.  Plus, while all of this was going on, her parents had talked to her about not constantly barging into their room at night and early in the morning.  They told her she was old enough to sleep in her own room through the night.

Naturally, she associated this conversation with the device.  So the brace became a deterrent to keep her from her parents’ room.

But she was resolved to make it down the hallway, brace or no brace.  She flopped out of bed with a thud and crawled to her parents room, dragging her legs, feet and eight pounds of metal behind her.  Opened their door with wild-eyed victory, daring them with a stare to keep her out.

Wyeth, it’s not.  But it is amazing that kids don’t associate physical ailments with corrective measures.  Only emotional ones.

7 Up Baby

Papa Says it Won’t Hurt Us


One of the coolest toys for the playroom I’ve seen.  So it costs as much as a first class trip to California.  And we don’t have a playroom.

Found at Restoration Hardware.


When I was 15, I began working at the Winn Dixie near my house.  I was only allowed to work weekends at that age, 8am-5pm.  I would bag groceries and get carts from the lot.

One Sunday a month, we’d meet early, 6am early, before the store opened.  Everyone with a pickup truck and a few bag boys would come dressed in street clothes and we’d drive a mile down the road to pick up our carts from the projects.

These projects were one of the most feared in my hometown because Lawrence was from there.

Lawrence wasn’t real.  He was a ghost story.  You told your kids about Lawrence to get them home before dark and keep them there.  We heard he had killed people.  Not a person.  People.  Indicating more than one.  He was 6’6″ and had been thrown off of his high school football team for cracking another player’s skull.  While the player was wearing a helmet.  There was an incident where Lawrence refused to fight a drunk sailor unless his Navy buddies agreed to participate.  All 14 of them.  Lawrence was the last man standing and smiled all the way through his sentence as a result of the altercation.  He was folklore, nothing more.

Everyone knew these stories, or everyone had their own, grittier, versions.  Add to that crime statistics regarding this row of buildings and you get a very somber ride down that stretch of road to pick up the carts, the line of raised pickups like a hillbilly funeral procession.

A majestic stretch of road

We’d roll through the turnabout and situate the trucks facing the street, in case we had to get out of there fast.  We’d quietly, but quickly, gather all of our carts and load them.

One resident of the projects, Ms. Eve, was a sixty-something woman who would come in on Sundays, straight from church.  She wore the same dress every week and rolled her stockings down to her shins for relief from the heat.  She was feeble, even for her age, and could flip her top dentures in her mouth.  She was my favorite customer in the store.

After helping her out here and there, it got to the point where I would walk with her, push her cart and collect all of the items off the shelves that weren’t immediately in her reach.  On particularly hot days, I’d clock out and take my break walking her to the projects.  I could do the mile there and mile back in an hour, easy.

After a few months, she stopped coming in.  I feared the worse and would always look towards her building when we went to collect carts those Sunday mornings.

A 15-year-old surrounded by bad influences is bound to listen to a few of them, even if it’s fleeting, a phase.  I had many friends and fewer enemies.  In my neighborhood, that was a victory.  You never though idle threats out of 15-year-old mouths would come back to haunt you.

One morning, I was bagging a woman’s groceries and this large, angry man busted through the doors like a thunderstorm, his broad shoulders and sheer momentum throwing them off track.  He could manhandle you with his voice alone, and he used that voice to repeatedly call my name.  I took flight.  As fast and inconspicuous as possible.  Fast won and inconspicuous lost.

I felt him breathing down my neck and booked it into the stock room, climbed a double-decker hand cart onto a row of pallets stacked six feet high and three deep.  I found a place and nestled, sitting on loose toilet paper.  Not dignified, but in one piece.

I heard the doors open and slap the walls of the stock room and that voice called out for me.  Angrier than before.  I knew that my fellow bag boys slacking off in the back would cover for me.  It was code.

“He’s back there.  Climbed over that pallet.  Thrifty Maid cans.”

Refusing the indignity of being pulled out, I was resolved to cower in a ball in front of this psychopath like a real man.

I climbed up and out of hiding.  The bag boys scattered, leaving the flapping, plastic doors swinging on their hinges.

I counted the perforated holes on my sneakers.  Protected my face and offered the top of my skull and shoulders and waited.  Nothing except a deep breath like a mustang’s strong enough to part my hair.

“Why you gotta make me chase you?  All through the store?”

59, 60, 61, 62, 63 holes on the toe of my right shoe.

“Look at me!”

I look up and he’s standing in front of me with his hand extended.  Out of breath, but his hand extended.

“I just wanted to come in here and thank the man’s been taking care of my grandma while I was away.”

Even this sounded angry.  I put my hand out.  It was like holding cooked spaghetti. I told him my name.

“I know who you are.  She won’t shut up about you.  I take her down to the Food Lion, but she wants to come here.  Food Lion’s cheaper.  And if you ever need anything, I mean anything, you look me up through her.  You know where she lives?”

I nodded.

“Good.  I stay there sometimes.  Sometimes I stay in Starke.”

Thinking, Raiford Prison is in Starke.

“Name’s Lawrence.  People know me, you just say Lawrence.  And I’m going to do something for you right now.”

And he whispered in my ear.

He left the stockroom and the store as fast as he came in.  I followed him at a trot.  As soon as we got into the parking lot, I screamed obscenities and threats after him.  He kept moving, faster now, down the street towards the projects.  I followed him to the end of the parking lot, screaming at the top of my lungs until he was out of sight.

I walked back into the Winn Dixie and my manager asked if he should call the police.  I told him no.

“Next time you’re out there, son, don’t come back in without a handful of carts.”

The other bag boys and onlookers in the parking were far more impressed.  I had chased after Lawrence and said things to him that left others horizontal.

Which is exactly what he told me to do when he whispered in my ear.  To paraphrase:

“Perception,” he said, “is stronger than 10 men.”

I only did what he told me because he was stronger than 14.

Death Stare

About two weeks before Roscoe was born, my wife’s parents visited.  On our way to breakfast, they sat in the backseat bickering and poking each other in jest, noting this is what we had to look forward to with Roscoe on the way.

My wife playfully said, “I will turn this car around!”

The three of them laughed.  My wife’s mom said it many times for many years.  It was the exact sentiment she was soliciting.

And my mom said the same to my sister and I twice as many times.  Here’s the skinny:  It doesn’t work. My sister and I hated each other, but we hated going certain places more:  Church, Dress Barn, French Novelty, Revco, Restaurants.

We’d act up and mom would say, “I will turn this car around!”

“Go ahead,” I’d taunt.

“How much do we have to act up to get you to actually do it?” my sister would ask.

Unless it’s Disney World, the punishment is the reward.  Looking at my wife’s parents in the rearview, I offered this:

“Have fun back there guys.  Yell and scream all you want.  But whatever you do, do not stare at each other in silence for five minutes.  It will physically burn the person you’re staring at.  Ten minutes is even more serious.  Maybe a visit to the hospital.  And if you stare at each other in silence, I mean really concentrating, for an hour?  Forget it, you’ll kill her.  Whatever you do, don’t do that.”

Night Light


She's right behind the door...


We have several night lights in the house, mostly so my wife and I can move around with Roscoe, or without him, to the same end:  do not wake the baby.

I remember asking my mom for a nightlight, as our rooms were on separate sides of the house.

“There’s no such thing as monsters,” she assured me.  “You’ll be fine.”

“I know there’s no monsters, mom, but my sister’s in the next room, and she’s real!”

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