Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Failure to Communicate

An occasion arose where I needed to reserve a motel room in the small town of Heavener, Oklahoma. I have passed through Heavener several times on my way to Broken Bow Lake, but never stayed in the place. Heavener’s claim to fame is the Heavener Runestone, a rock alleged to hold an inscription by early Viking explorers. However , the authenticity of the markings are in dispute.

A Google search turned up one motel.

“Sorry, we’re full.”

Full? The week after Christmas? In Heavener, OK? Are there that many people in town to see the Runestone? Uh, okay, any other motels in town?”

"The Crane Motel,” he says.

Another Google search confirms that there is indeed a Crane Motel but there are no photos, no ads, no room rates, no reviews. Fearing that the Crane would be yet another experience to add to my list of Motels From Hell, I consult the map for the nearest town. Poteau is only 12 miles north. Close enough. Google lists three motels, all well known names.

Day’s Inn looked suitable and I dial the number at the top of the add, an 866 number. From the moment she said “Thank you for calling Day’s Inn,” I knew this gal was not from Oklahoma, unless there is a colony of East Indians somewhere in the corner of the state. Like in the country of India. I’m not talking about Apaches or Kiowas here.

Now those who know me, know that I am about as deaf as a fence post. I have amplified phones, headphones, hearing aids, even a speech to text phone for Pete’s sake, and I still struggle with phone conversations, especially a female, and more so when the female has an accent. I knew where this conversation was going before it started.

She mumbled something about room preference. That’s what it sounded like. I took a chance. “Non-smoking, lowest price.” There was a long silence. I must have guessed wrong. But she came back with “One night?” Okay, so far so good.

“So that’s one night, at Day’s in at Moore, Oklahoma?”

Moore is just outside Oklahoma City. How the hell did Moore get in the picture? Or did she really say Poteau? I was in big trouble.

“No,no, Poteau, Oklahoma as in P-o-t-e-a-u.”

“One moment, we have a lot of listings for Day’s Inn in Oklahoma.” Clearly, I was not communicating, with Annahanda, or Annabarisha, or Anaconda or whatever the hell her name was.
Storm clouds of impatience were gathering. My mood turning dark.

“Mr. Williams? I have a room at the Holiday Inn for $97 and that’s with a swimming pool.”

“Holiday Inn? What happened to Day’s Inn? Who do you work for anyway?” Then I realized, she probably said Day’s Inn, not Holiday. Had my aging ears deceived me once again?

"Darlin’, it’s been nice talking to you, but I got to find somebody that speaks Okie. Goodbye.”

More Internet searches and I find another number, a 918 number, my area code. I dial it.

“Day’s Inn of Poteau. This is Joanna.”

A native Oklahoman with a trace of southern accent. I was back among my people.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


My grandson loves to play video games. The gloating is hard to ignore when he trounces Grandpa at each and every session, but I manage. He has an X-Box, not a Play Station 3 which is the type of game I bought for him to put under his Christmas tree. The game had something to do with skateboarding, non-violent, and it looked to be more skill than competition. Grandpa could relax, watch football as grandpas are meant to do, and avoid the humiliation of being skunked at every level by an eight-year old.

The Missus and I entered the Target store, the game’s place of purchase, to make an exchange from PS3 to X-Box. The thing that caught my attention at the Customer Service desk was the sight of a young woman on her hands and knees, scooting across the counter. She was African-American, on the hefty side, and was apparently grabbing for some item in a shopping cart behind the counter. The woman was not happy. She was dropping F-bombs and MF-bombs like confetti on New Year’s Eve.

“Well this is interesting,” I say to the Missus. “Let’s watch and see what happens.”

Eventually the woman landed back on the customer side of the counter but the rant continued, big time, and loud, although I never got the gist of her complaint. A security guard shows up and the woman exits the store, expressing her displeasure with Target every step of the way. But that wasn’t the end of it.

Another woman, and I’m guessing it might have been her mother, took up the rant. The security man remained absolutely calm and professional as the older woman yelled that the only reason she was being treated this way was because she was black. The guard said that was not true and she said it was true, back and forth, back and forth, the conversation never varying from the topic of racial equality for a good minute or two. That’s when the younger girl re-entered the store. Uh oh.

By now, the shouting has caught the attention of everyone in that end of the building, shoppers frozen in their tracks, buggies at a standstill. It was a little like watching a tornado headed your way, good sense tells you to leave, but the fascination is mesmerizing. Until the girl yells “I got a gun!”

Suddenly, I felt this overwhelming urge to check out some of the sale items at the other end of the store. The Missus agreed that it was an outstanding idea.

We carefully inspected a few pots and pans in Housewares, taking our time, reading the labels, and listening for shots fired. But no. We made another stop at office supplies, weighing the value of retractable ball point pens versus the cheaper models, and then took a peek around the corner of the aisle. The coast was clear, no cops, no guns, no race riots. We made a run for it.

The grandkid can exchange his own damn gift.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Texter

It was during the Thursday morning coffee when I hear the ding-a-ling from a cell phone. Not mine, the Missus, which I ignored as always. She retrieves the device from the bedroom to check the call and finds that someone has left her a text message. This is unusual because she doesn’t text and neither do I. To me, an actual voice is much more efficient. Texting reminds me of Morse Code, a skill I failed to master in the United States Navy. That statement alone should give you a clue as to old I actually am.

The Missus decodes the message (and I present all messages here exactly as they were received.)

“Is Christy there?”

Need I point out that no one in this humble abode goes by the name of Christy, unless there’s a new cat somewhere on the premises that I’ve yet to meet. A few minutes pass, then another ding-a-ling; another message.

“Tell Christy I am horny this morning.”

Enough of that. I dial the number at the top of the message and hear something to the effect of:

“This mailbox is full.”

Hmmm. Now, I’m being charged for these messages right? It costs money to send and receive text messages doesn’t it? Enough is enough. I laboriously type out a reply. Didn’t take me more than oh, five or six minutes tops.

“You are calling the wrong number. Stop calling.”

Almost immediately, another ding:

“Is this her roommate?”

If I’d had the patience to type “What part of wrong number don’t you understand you imbecile?” I would have, but I didn’t.

Ding: “Oh, this is her roommate.”

By now we have a clear picture of the intelligence of the texter don’t we?

Ding: “so tell her i need to talk to her. i am horny.”

Ding: Is she there. I meet her once awhile back at Jacklyns place.

So what we have here is an imbecile male, texting someone he doesn’t know, declaring his state of sexual arousal, requesting that his desires be passed on to a girl that he met once. My Gawd.

I reply. “I don’t know any Christy. You are calling the wrong number. Stop calling.” (how do the kids do this so fast?)

Well that should be the end of that.

Ding: “OK”

Seconds later. Ding: “I get her number from Jacklyn.”

Kid, do your really think I give a damn where you got Christy’s number from? Knock it off. (I didn’t have the energy to send that but that’s what I was thinking.”

Then another Ding: “Bye”

Yes, he actually sent the one word message, “Bye”. Polite kid. Dumber than a box of rocks, but polite.

Texting: It’s the way to go. I wonder if he would text me Christy's phone number?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ol' Weird Blue

The gray cat named Blue didn’t come home from the afternoon walk. Usually, that in itself, is no cause for the Missus to go into full panic mode, not yet. Yes, on most days, the Missus, her dog Juno, and Blue go for a walk in the neighborhood.

The scene of a woman with a fat dog on a leash being followed by a trotting cat as they make their way down the street is slightly strange to begin with. Most people don’t take their cats for a walk. It’s entirely voluntary on the cat’s part though. She patiently waits in the vicinity of the dog until she sees Juno’s excitement and the leash come off the hook. She then waits at the end of the driveway for the walk to proceed where she immediately falls in behind the dog, jogging along to keep pace. The procession has turned the head of more than one passing motorist.

Blue, if you recall, is strongly suspected of having mental problems. She is the one who constantly scans the skies for asteroids, Japanese Zeros, and UFO’s. A knowledge of the cat’s erratic behavior will help you to understand what happened yesterday.

Blue, you see, has this quirky habit of disappearing midway through the walk. One minute she’s there at her usual place in the column, and then—POOF—she’s gone. The vanishing act usually takes place on a dead-end road with heavy woods on either side. There she hides and wait’s until the rest of the troops pass by on the return leg home. But sometimes the cat misses her cue to fall in. Does she go to sleep and fail to hear the footsteps? No, because the Missus always calls out with her ear splitting KITTY, KITTY, KITTY call upon approaching the area. Whatever the reason, Blue often fails to show up.

Let us pause a moment for a breath of logic. Would it not seem, if the cat walked to the woods of her own accord, she could just as easily walk from the woods back to the house? HMMM? Seemingly not. Invariably, upon returning home and cat-less, the Missus jumps in the car and drives to the dead-end road where Blue then ambles out from the weeds and grasses with a what-the-hell-took-you-so-long look.

But yesterday, with yours truly out of town and the Missus with an afternoon appointment somewhere, did not have the time to scour the woods for old weird Blue when she once again failed to show for the return leg.

By 7 p.m., it was dark and cold. No Blue cat. My logic of the cat having a built in GPS and not to worry fell on deaf ears. Would I drive while she searched? Sigh. I get my coat and a flashlight.

The powerful beam of the light swept through neighbor’s yards with the ever present KITTY, KITTY call going at full volume. Lights came on. Silhouettes appeared in doorways. Mothers called to their children. I watched the rear view mirror for flashing red lights.

At last we reached the dead-end road. I drove to the end of it while watching for gleaming eyes in the night. We stop. More KITTY, KITTY calls and then, sure nuff, there in the red glow of the tail lights, the foolish feline appears. Go figure.

It’s enough to drive a man to drink.