Shine on you moneymakers

Having money is a joy.

Not for reasons of greed or power or controlling others. I’m not like Hillary Clinton, not even a teeny bit!

Having money is a joy because it allows me to give to others. To bolster businesses and livelihoods of others. To grease the wheels in free markets and capitalism.

I leave with cash after every driving shift delivering pizzas. Cold hard cash — rather warm tender — in my pocket.

It’s not a lot of cash. It’s mileage reimbursement plus tips. A good chunk of that goes directly into gas pumps. Another portion is simply bumping me up to minimum wage since, as a tipped service worker, I earn below.

Thus, in net income, I’m not sailing on the wealth ship. I’m barely even in the parking lot where that ship docks!

Still. There’s something truly gratifying about leaving work with cash in the pocket. Ready to be spent (or saved). Ready to give to others to support them, help provide them jobs and income.

Example.

The pizza shop’s a half block from an ice cream store. Not a store I frequent typically.

But after a work shift and with tip money in my pocket, a treat sounds nice. So I stop in often for a double scoop.

Boom! Right there I’ve helped the economy.

Boom! I’ve helped others maintain or get employment.

Boom! I’ve helped others prosper. By my prosperity, even if it’s just a little, others proper.

 

That is capitalism. That’s the free market doing what it does naturally, when government gets and the fuck out.

Politics, economics, socioeconomics, cultures, those are my passions. But I’m not going there. That post would never end!

Money is the focus. The power of money.

The power of money is the power to give to others, via capitalism (the ice cream store being a simple example) or charity.

Such joy I experience in giving to others. When my income can assist others to receiving or maintaining theirs, all’s right in my world.

I’ve never been super wealthy, with more money than I know what to do with. But I’ve long said that if I were, these things would and would not happen:

  1. I wouldn’t go buy a new car, fancy or otherwise. My 14-1/2-year-old Subbie is just fine! I love that car. I might buy a second vehicle, a Toyota pickup truck (for practical purposes that a Subbie can’t provide). But that Subbie’s going nowhere.
  2. I wouldn’t hire a housekeeper. I’m all about work and taking care of a space myself. It’s deep, it’s intimate, it’s personal, it’s a personal quality that ain’t ever gonna change.
  3. I’d have fresh-cut flowers in the home every week. And I’d have someone deliver them rather than pick them up myself — which, believe me, is VERY much my over-independent-receive-no-help-from-anyone-never-ever (thankoufuckedupchildhood) way.

The reason? It’d provide another person an income. A livelihood. A means of supporting his- or herself.

That is gratifying.

That is fulfilling.

That is joy.

Shine on you moneymakers! {sung to tune of Pink Floyd’s “shine on you crazy diamond”}

 

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The Day I Met Vladdy Putin.

So just started this job of delivering pizzas. There’s a backstory there but rather than tell it, I’m gonna jump right into the pool of adventures that is delivering pizza.

I’m gonna tell you how I met Vladdy Putin. Some of you might recognize the pet name of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

The day after Thanksgiving is off to a steady start. Reportedly among the busiest days of the year. No one wants to cook after the holiday.

I’m driving midday to evening. Not as busy as they expected. Small orders going long distances. My runs have been awash with irritations, frustrations, annoyances in both logistics, like finding the places, and customers, like minuscule to no tips. (Like restaurant servers, drivers earn below minimum wage & depend on tips.)

It’s been a bad day every which way.

But a great delivery — smooth-as-silk delivery, nice customer, generous tip — can change that in a heartbeat.

7 o’clock, pick up the order. Pizza and breadsticks to Embry-Riddle, the aeronautical university. Renowned. Expensive. But students are proving to be shitty tippers. As in zero. Even though their schools cost a zillion dollars to attend and/or they’re from wealthy families.

Embry-Riddle is a university. As thick with buildings and dorms and thus confusing like any university. Thus the laminated map of the campus at the pizza shop. An experienced driver details the route to the customer’s dormitory.

I’m good to go.

I arrive with pizza piping hot in the parking lot of M-400 dorm, as the order states.

All dorm entrances have security codes. Drivers, of course, don’t know those so we call the student to meet us outside for delivery & payment.

So I call. “The owner of this number hasn’t set up voice messages,” says the automated female voice.

I call again. Again. Again. Same.

Fuck!

It’s dark. It’s cold. Leaving the hot pizza in the car, I leave the car and march to M-4000 hoping it’s the correct building. No numbers visible!

Thick steel door. Of course. I pound pound pound with fired-up fists and PRAY that someone hears.

On top of everything else making this customer inaccessible, it’s Thanksgiving weekend. Most students are away for the holiday.

Seems there IS a God! A female student appears in the hallway. She’s wearing earbuds. How she heard the pounding is amazing! She approaches cautiously, opens the door a crack.

“I’m with {pizza place}. I’m trying to deliver a pizza to Vladdy Putin. He lives in this dorm. Do you know him?”

“No.” Of course not.

“I’ve really got to find him. He’s not answering his phone. It’s not set up to receive calls. Do you mind if I come in and knock on a couple of doors. Maybe I’ll get lucky or someone’ll know him.”

This despite that drivers are NOT supposed to enter homes. But this is a large complex with locked individual doors. She grants me entry.

I knock on the first door on my left. Correction, pound. Thick steel doors.

Three guys live here, evidenced by fun bubble tags taped to the door. None reads Vladdy. Still, they might know him and be able to direct me. My hopes are raised as minutes tick away and the pizza cools.

No answer. Of course.

I move on to the next door. No answer. Of course.

What a fucking waste of time.

I gratefully thank the young lady wearing earbuds. Dash into the cold night into my car. Dial Vladdy again x 5.  Not that I expect him to have set up his phone to receive calls in the last 10 minutes.

Pounding on locked thick dorm doors, enlisting ANY help from the ONE human being there on a holiday weekend, repeated calls — all valiant efforts to get pizza and breadsticks to Vladdy Putin.

Bet it’s not this hard at the sealed-shut imposing Kremlin!

Between the drive and exceptional delivery efforts, 30 minutes have passed. Way way waaaaaaaayyyyyy too long! There are new orders waiting to be picked up at the shop. Other customers waiting for their hot pizzas, wings, breadsticks, garlic knots.

Vladdy Putin is not the center of the universe! — though circumstances have certainly made him so.

For the first time in my short — Day 2, to be precise — delivery career, I give up. Throw in the towel. Wave the white flag. I’ve gone the extra mile x 100. Done everything a human being could do.

Vladdy Putin. Is that even his real name?

He’s already PAID by credit card. So yeah, a legit order. But pranks happen. Maybe this is one.

Whatever. 45 minutes and the customer can’t be reached despite every Herculean effort. I’m heading back to the shop, undeliverable pizza and breadsticks in tow. Maybe we’ll get to partake of the mistake?

Halfway there, my phone rings.

“blah blahblah blahblah ordered a pizza blahblah.” “Ordered a pizza” is all I can discern in a REALLY SHITTY connection. Muddy, echo-ey, impossible.

Customer service is not my greatest strength, I admit. I love work. I like tasks, not people. My frustration at 45 minutes of wasted time and a customer who doesn’t even have his damn phone set up is through the roof.

Don’t make out a damn thing he saying! Whether he can hear me, who knows. I give it a go. I’m that desperate.

“I’ve been trying to deliver for the last 45 minutes! Your phone’s not hooked up! The dorm’s got security doors. I’m coming back. Wait outside the building.”

Speaking of the broker-no-nonsence stern dictates of the KGB.

I U-turn and speed back to the parking lot where I already wasted 25 minutes.

Despite the shitty phone connection, I keep Vladdy on the line the entire drive. Not gonna risk calling & calling him again to no avail!

I pull into the empty lot, beneath the brightest streetlamp there, next to a bright blue car. Vladdy’s nowhere to be seen. Of course.

I describe the setting. He and a buddy walk over. Finally!

I’m ready to erupt. I really am. But he’s a customer. So I seek civility. Tone down the summary of all frustrated efforts to deliver him his goodies from a verbal dropping of the atomic bomb to a simple granade. Maybe two.

Then a discovery. Not only is Vladdy’s phone not set up to receive calls — bad enough for any delivery driver — BUT the address is wrong!

ARRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

What’s another dozen granades at this point?!?

I reel it in best I can. Politely stress the importance of phone service AND a correct address. Especially since drivers DEPEND on phones to reach you inside your locked-up secured dorm!

Looking more and more like the Kremlin every moment.

Otherwise, how are drivers supposed to get pizzas to the customers? Carrier pigeons? Roped around a missile targeted at the building. No one wants that.

No matter how much you love or want pizza.

In the end, it’s mission accomplished. Pizza and breadsticks got delivered. An hour late. After 45 minutes of wasted time AND, don’t forget, a U-turn flipped en route back to the store!

That is how I met Vladdy Putin.

Not a world leader, granted.

Wish it had been.

For starters, he’d have tipped better. Way better. Of that I’m certain.

The local Putin tipped a measly 2 bucks and a penny for all that frustration and grief (that he, remember, caused).

Plus the real Putin would’ve insisted on sharing shots of Russian medicine, aka vodka, before sending me on my delivering way.

 

 

Kingpin of communism and one of the world’s scariest and most covert mafia. Sure. But that’s a gentleman manners!

Blending a black cup of coffee & a beacon

There’s a place in town that holds a special place in my heart.

And it’s not what — or where — you’d think.

It’s the restroom at Starbucks on the hill.

Because of polished granite countertops? A fancy waterfall faucet? A spectacular view?

Nein.

It’s where I went when I was homeless.

March 2014. I’m winding down 1-1/2 months of homelessness. Of extended time on the road crossing a few Western states. Of sleeping on dirt at primitive campsites — aka dispersed camping, aka boondocking — places with no services and no fee.

Weather permitting. Where it doesn’t, I sleep in my car. My beloved Subaru. I got that down to a science. There’s a story waiting to be shared.

Crude homemade curtains to block the light and create privacy and safety. A small assortment of worldly goods — bedding, change of clothes, camping items, health & hygiene goods, my teddy bear Berr Symon, a Goodwill rescue some 6 years ago — artfully organized in tight quarters at bedtime. Which comes early, VERY early!, when you’re sleeping with the sun and moon.

My Nocturnal Nature is not pleased. But it adapts. 🙂

When I arrive in this town I increasingly call home, I’ve no job, place to live, friends, family.

Contrary to most people’s needs or perceptions, this ain’t a disadvantage. I oft quip: “Wherever my family is, I hasten the opposite direction!”

Familiarity is NOT my guiding force, rather reason is venture another direction! The stranger the terrain, the more unfamiliar, the more attracting. Weird, no; unique and in the minority, yes.

I’m sleeping in the mountain forest at a primitive site. The only signs of civilization amid towering pines are very uneven hilly dirt roads rutted by monsoons and vehicles and campfire rings bordered with rocks.

The forest service maintains the area. This is drought country so during the fire season, they lay yellow strips across rings banning campfires. Dunno how many people respect that. I would.

But I’m not there in summer, rather late winter/early spring. Chilly nights have me slumbering in my Subaru.

There’s no water whatsoever. Not even a rusted old tap gone parched! I meet my hygiene needs with bottles of water I refill in town — a mere 15-minute drive.

If you’ve ever been homeless or camping at length or backpacking, you know how much you miss, want and need! a shower!

More than that, you realize the beauty of running water. Absolute beauty. From a sink. A hose. A well pump. Any device that delivers clean flowing water — cold, hot, lukewarm, matters not! — is paradise.

That’s how that Starbucks restroom becomes special.

My spot in the forest is some 8 miles from the Starbucks on the hill.

It’s my link to hygiene, to upscale living, to the comforts of modern living that far too many people take for granted.

That ladies’ room is one room, one door that locks (so if it’s in use, you stand in the hallway and wait).  It’s tiny. Half the size of a single prison cell.

To me, it’s a mansion of luxury!

There’s a sink! I scrub my face with their liquid soap, rinse, pat dry with fresh paper towels (instead of the one washcloth in my car) — and as many as I might need. I wet my scalp, do a partial sponge bath (without fully undressing, of course).

There’s a mirror! I can see the whole of my face, finger-brush my bed-hair. Or is that car-hair?

There’s a flush toilet! With all due respect to my inner Survivalist and Nature Girl — and much is due her —  it’s pretty darn spiffy compared to spots by bushes and trees!

There’s a door that locks. The room becomes my own lil’ caretaking spot for a spell.

That means so much at a time when the only space that I know and have is my Subaru. (That’s not changed and lordie I do love that car!)

One ladies’ restroom. I keep no one waiting; that would be wrong. But in early morns, most customers are at the drive-thru getting coffees before work; scant restroom demand.

That Starbucks on the hill becomes a beacon during the rigors and peculiarities of homelessness.

It’s where I can go any morning for needed or desired running water, more luxurious “bathing” than afforded by a blue washcloth and bottle of water (use sparingly!), for an actual sink for spitting during toothbrushing, for a toilet that whooshes AND TP too!

I still live in that town and frequent that Starbucks but not for the same reasons. Now it’s just about the coffee and Wi-Fi.

And yes, perhaps, sentimentality.

That time of homelessness is some 2-1/2 years my rear-view mirror.

That lil’ restroom is basic as it gets. Beige (or eggshell?) walls, beige tile floor, basic white fixtures, a mirror above the sink, a single skinny stainless steel shelf, a black paper towels dispenser.

Would its make the pages of Better Homes & Gardens? Of course not. But to my eyes, it’s one of the loveliest rooms I’ve ever been in.

It supplied care when I needed self-care.

At that Starbucks and just that one, I can’t but feel a rush of memories from a very uncertain and challenging chapter.

I feel powerful emotions.

Appreciation.

Gratitude.

Tender affection.

Shhhhhhhh. I’ve a secret soft spot for that Starbucks. To my worldly and humbled eyes, it is a beacon to civilization, a veritable Hilton on the hill.

Zip it. Put a sock in it. Wind your neck in. Shut your pie hole.

However you say it, whatever charming idiom you select, the message is the same.

But I get ahead of myself.

Happens every time.

Put three women together who don’t know one another well or long.

And one won’t shut the fuck up.

One has Diarrhea of the Mouth. A Mucky Mouth (“muck” = a poetic reference to that brown stuff.)

Instruct each woman to briefly introduce herself and one’ll yammer on and on on and on and on.

The world is her stage: all the time.

She’s stage center: all the time.

Everything she says is important: in her mind.

In her verbiage, she has no sense of measure, proportion, value or lack thereof of content, sharing, fairness or equal air time for others.

Her self-importance fills the room like fumes from a toxic spill. She has no awareness that (a) her listeners exist and (b) are human beings with their own needs.

She has no sense of what needs to be shared in a group and what is better  put into a journal or spilled into the ears of family and friends — poor them.

A basic introduction is, what, 3 minutes. The Mucky Mouth’ll yak yak yak ramble ramble ramble ramble for 3-4 times that, convinced that everything she says is interesting, important, valuable.

She’s wrong 99.9% of the time.

The world’s divided into two kinds of people, my wise and not-very-talkative dad imparted once at the dinner table.

The Takers and the Givers, he said.

At 10 years old or so, I didn’t yet have life experience to prove or disprove. That came later and soon enough.

He was spot on.

The world IS filled with Takers.

Givers are a distinct minority.

A TRUE listener (which I am, my sister is) the rarest minority of all.

The Yakkers, The Yammerers, the Ones Who Won’t Shut the Fuck Up, the Diarrheas of the Mouths, the Mucky Mouths.

Call ’em what you will, it’s all the same. Women are far more guilty of ceaseless yammering than  men.

Excepting generally gay guys, put three men (who aren’t close or longtime familiar) in a group and know what you’ll get?

Silence.

Eventually someone’ll grunt. A second may add his grunts to the first.

Then the next. But no guy’ll go on and on and on until the universal clock itself expires or a black hole sucks him in, whichever comes first, shutting him up — finally.

In groups, outside of bars, racetracks, sports fields and the sort, guys don’t vomit banal, boring verbiage into the laps of listeners, across the table, over the chairs and floors.

It’s a women’s thing.

{shudder}

I hate it. Just one of many traits that make me unlike most women.

I’ve theories about why women won’t shut the fuck up while getting men to talk in identical situations can be like pulling teeth.

This topic rankles since Sunday night, Halloween eve. A new moon — in Scorpio no less! Rita held a New Moon gathering/ritual for women to plant seeds for desired manifestations.

Of course “sharing” was involved.

Some 34 women showed, most strangers to one another. So we went around the room doing brief introductions.

Allegedly “brief.”

At least two women yakked and yakked. Eating up valuable time. Adding, really, nothing to the group. One diarrhea-ed (made-up verb) on.

When my turn came, I stated my  name, nothing more or else.

Women are generally extremely social creatures. Social and verbal. The mix lends itself to EXACTLY WHAT WOMEN DO: Talk too much. Talk endlessly. AND AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS — the most damaging of all. They won’t listen. Can’t listen.

But they sure can fucking talk!!

A definitive characteristic of a Talker is Zero Listening.

Biology lesson. Females socialize. They talk a lot and too much. They attach to one another, they bond — even when it’s no genuine bond. They congregate. Form groups, nee cliques. Then they become all catty and backstab and exclude. They become Mean Girls.

I digress somewhat. The moon circle. So that Mucky Mouth went on and on. I looked at the clock. I turned my attention away from her, scanned the group, basically turn my attention away in hope that she might read the signal that her time was up. 10 minutes ago.

But she didn’t notice.

The Talkers never do. They’re oblivious.

Had I had my phone, I’d-a started researching Brazil’s soccer scores from the 1970s.

I couldn’t care less about Brazil. Or soccer. Or scores from 4 decades ago. That’s how much that Mucky Mouth needed to zip it.

Just as snow must stop falling in summer, the Mucky Mouth finally shut it. But as every female group has one that she will be revealed, so it went on moon night.

So that Mucky Mouth at the gathering and EVERY one past and future, to your spillage of 4,000-words, I’ve got but 4, simple and concise:

shutthefuckup

Ah, Sweet Tradition, the Halloween Coma

Once a year I eat myself sick. Sweetly seriously sick.

Helloooo Halloween!

My favorite “holiday.” At 59, I’ve loved it as much as I did when I was 35, 15, 5. If I’m venturing out, I dress up in a costume created if not partly then entirely by moi.

My mother told me long ago that when my sister and I were young, she, mom, offered to take us to the dime store for costumes but we always insisted on making them.

Some things never change!

In my town, Mount Vernon Avenue is Halloween on Steroids. An amazing avenue it is. So much so that kids come by the busloads from outlying areas, especially Phoenix, hours away, just to participate.

An estimated 5,000 people descend on historic and moneyed Mount Vernon for over-the-top decorations befitting stately homes and oak-lined streets that scream Halloween.

The candy. Ohhhhhh the candy! Along those several spooky city blocks, each resident spends HUNDREDS of dollars on candy! Some even hand out full-sized Snickers!

It’s a diabetic’s worst nightmare and a sweet tooth’s wet dream.

I don’t eat much sugar. The sweet tooth of my youth is pretty much bye-bye.

But on Halloween, I make an exception. I costume up and trick-or-treat. The Mount Vernon residents don’t care whether you’re 3 or 33 or 93! Sweets for all!

I raked it in, needless to say. In one night, collected more candy than I eat in a year.

Then I ate it. In a night.

Not ALL of it, mind you. I’m a picky eater, especially with sweets.

What I don’t go for on Halloween:

Fruities. Chewies. Anything endangering my zillion dollars of dental work! Hard candies. Suckies. The likes of lollipops.

What I go for:

Most Americana chocolates, excluding waxy Hershey’s. Milky Ways. Snickers. 3 Musketeers. Butterfingers. REESE’S PEANUT BUTTERS!!!

I pig out ’til I feel kinda woozy. Rest. Then eat more.

Repeat.

Like the Romans at their Gluttony Fests.

To be honest, it’s not really FUN. It’s tradition.

Dating back to my late 20s. I worked in an office a stone’s throw from an old Woolworth’s, where you could buy candy corn by the pound.

REAL candy corn. Brach’s. There is no other!

So I’d buy a pound. Bring it back to my desk and dedicate the day to a Sugar High courtesy of candy corn. One day a year. I’d eat until I was in a metaphorical coma.

Then I wouldn’t touch it ’til Halloween the next year. And the next.

Here in my senior years, I can no longer inhale sugar like that young pro. It’s been ages since I’ve pigged out on candy corn.

BUT I can still put it outta the fire with the right chocolates!

In the spirit of tradition. In honor of Halloween.

And what of the suckers, Starbursts and sour balls, oh my!

Fear not! Nothing goes to waste. Only waistlines.

A local dentist invites the community to bring their leftover Halloween candy to his office.

Then he ships it to military men and women serving overseas. Volumes of candy. At his expense.

How cool is that?!

So you see, my Halloween gluttony ain’t entirely self-serving. Peel back the wrapping for a peek at my patriotism.

However, as with any military venture, there IS that line drawn in the sand: No touchee the Reese’s!