Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fix your taillight for heaven's sake!

Strange Coincidence

Do you wanna know what the biggest coincidence in the world is? Pretend you do.

No, it’s not that your keys are always in the opposite pocket of your freehand. That’s ceased being a coincidence. The Society for Correctness in Word Usage has now labeled that occurrence as customary. (By the way, the SCWU is having a fundraiser Tuesday evening at The Ice House.)

No, the biggest coincidence in the world has to do with defective taillights. A study at Dartmouth University found that 97.4 percent of all cars with defective taillights are driven by people soon to be arrested for something.

Just odd as it can be. Last week I read about a guy who wasn’t even driving the single tail-lit car. He was just a passenger. Yet, come to find out, there was a felony warrant out on him. Police would not have known to arrest him had he not been in a car with a defective taillight.

I don’t know what that tells you, but it tells me that if you’re gonna do the crime, you’d better check your taillights. It also tells me that the law that prevents felons from keeping company with other felons and from owning firearms should be expanded to include driving a car with more than one taillight operational. We wouldn’t even have to have probation officers. The police would constantly be stopping P.I.s and seeing what they’re up to. – What? Oh, It stands for “Previously Incarcerated.” According to the SCWU, “ex-con” is no longer acceptable.

What makes the defective taillight/criminal ratio all the more bizarro is the fact that I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw a car with a defective taillight. I’d come closer to seeing a whopping crane perched on my satellite dish. That must mean that crime is down. Way down.

Used to, it was common as could be to see cars with only one operational taillight… or headlight for that matter. We had a ’54 Ford pickup that came with only one taillight. The left side had a reflector, but no light.

It also had no blinker lights and no power steering. The truck was impossible to steer with one hand, yet, by law, I was supposed to give a hand signal while going into my turn. Couldn’t be done.

Fortunately, I had no police record, or as fate would have it, I would’ve been pulled over every day. – “Mr. Hayter, do you know why I pulled you over?” – “Well, I haven’t checked my taillights, but I assume I must’ve robbed the Sinclair station back yonder. I can’t buy a break.”

So, where am I going with all this, you ask? Well, somebody’s bound to have. The recent article about the defective taillight arrest got me to thinking. When I was young rambunctious teen, Tommy Cromeens and I were pulled over one night at about 1:30. We were out looking to rumble. Or, looking for a 24 hour Shipley’s Donuts.  I can’t remember.

Anyway, the officer pulled us over, put the ol’ light in our faces, studied us for a few seconds and then said, “We were looking for two guys in a car like this. We think they robbed a, uh, a 7/11 on, uh, Burke. Or, Red Bluff. One of those.”  He then suggested we call it a night.”

I didn’t mind the experience at all. Gave me the false impression that I looked tough. We were all the talk at school on Monday. “Hey, they yanked Tommy through the window. Me? I wasn’t going down without a fight.” Our friends wouldn’t have laughed so much had our reputations been just a little tarnished. Turned out to be a big embarrassment.

The weird thing is, had Tommy and I been tokin’ on reefer, or bootin’ the ol’ gong (work with me here), we wouldn’t have been stopped for driving in a car the same model as one involved in a robbery. No, we would’ve been pulled over because we had a defective taillight.

For the life of me, I don’t see how that happens. I imagine any day now the ol’ SCWU is going to change the defective taillight/criminal-pullover occurrence from “coincidence” to “customary.” And, I’m not even sure what that means.


You can view Brad and Mark’s latest restaurant by clicking on photo.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Ten years later


    ROOFTOP -- Anybody know what time sunrise is this morning? Anybody? Oh well, no worry. Li’l Orphan Annie assures us that the sun will come out… come what may. That little 87 year-old girl is just as perky as can be. We need perky.

    I might’ve researched the timing of sunrise, but the decision to climb up here was one of those spur of the moment things. I’m just shocked that a few of you were awake and alert enough to join me. Shows fortitude. Shows something.

    I dragged our buns up here ‘cause I just couldn’t sleep. I was stewing over my article. Not this one. I haven’t written this one yet. No, it was the one I wrote a few hours ago. I thought it best to write something about 9/11, this being tenth anniversary of the horrid event.

    Since so many others were writing about it, I figured I should. Didn’t think it proper to write my usual humor piece, so I got serious. Took me three stabs at it, but I finally ended up with something. Something I really didn’t like. I sounded like a guy who needed direction. I was all over the place. Got into history, politics and social values.

    And, were it not for Kay, I would’ve sent it in to my boss. You can only imagine the amount of bad stuff that girl has kept from you. 

    Like I say, I was in need of direction, so I dragged my rear out of bed and headed to the roof. I heard a wise man once say that if you can’t sleep, don’t fight it. Perhaps God is trying to get your attention about something.

So, here I am. And, here you are. Looking for direction? Well, from up here we’ve got direction in spades. Any minute now we could even get a glimmer of guidance.

Speaking of glimmer, I can see a faint glow right over yonder. I don’t know what time it is, but the sun is definitely on the rise. No, it’s over there in the east. See? No, Peggy, the other east. There you go. Looks like it will be joining us in just a few minutes. I need to assign one of you to keep an eye on it. No, Peggy, let’s let Claudia. Okay, both of you! Sheesh.

What? Oh, before I got the ladder out, I noticed the thermometer read 63 degrees. Almost wish I had thought to bring a long-sleeved shirt. And, Scott, I wish you had thought to throw some pants over your pajamas. Who sleeps in pajamas? Hey, it was rhetorical!

Doesn’t it feel absolutely great up here? I wonder how long we’ll remember this moment. What is the half-life of a memorable moment? Again, rhetorical.

Last night’s article had a part in it about remembering where I was when 9/11 happened. I thought it an interesting story. Interesting to me. But, who cares where I was? Phil, rhetorical. 

We were all somewhere? And, we each have our thoughts of that day. I absolutely hate it when someone describes something as being “surreal.” Just so overdone. But, let’s face it, that was pretty much the sense of the day.

Ten years ago. What’s happened since then? Have things gotten better? Worse? Seems we’re a little less patriotic than we once were. I bought two new flags and some flag decals after the disaster. I still fly those same flags on celebratory days. They’re a bit faded, but I can’t see me replacing them. Maybe when things settle down a bit.

And, yes, Peggy, here comes the sun. Annie was right, again. Just look at that orange glow cutting through the pines. In lieu of the fire season, I’m so glad I’ve still got my pines. They could catch fire and burn the house tomorrow, but right now they’re providing quite the spectacle.

And, yes, it’s a cool 60+ degrees right now, and it will be in the 90s later in the day. But, now, it feels all right. We’re quietly sitting, looking, listening. Right now is good.

This moment reminds me of one of my favorite passages. “Be still and know that I am God.” -- He just got my attention.


To view Mark and Brad's latest restaurant review click on pic below.   

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Not good a waiting

“The DPS Adventure”

Did you know that the Texas Department of Public Safety does not inform all residents when their licenses need renewed? I didn’t know that till Kay told me a couple of weeks before my birthday.

The DPS apparently doesn’t have a budget large enough to send out mailers to everyone. Nor does it have enough money to maintain all its offices. They’ve been closing ‘em right and left. That’s what’s been making the experience at the Montgomery County DPS office purgatorial.

Unless you’re incarcerated or deemed a road hazard, you will eventually need to make that trip. All roads lead to the DPS. Add just a tad of heat, and you’ll think you died and went to the bad place.

    I made it to the DPS in Conroe at about 2:00 in the p,m. I read somewhere that it didn’t matter how early you got there, you would still have to wait till your nose bled. I don’t know if that’s true or not, ‘cause I left when I saw the crowd. I couldn’t find a place to park. There were cars circling the parking lot and lined along the railroad track.

    A conundrum is what I had. Had it by the knees. I needed to do one of two things. I could go home, and come back in a better mood. Or, I could go to Huntsville. After 20 minutes of pondering, I headed to Huntsville. That’s what the Plilers had done a couple of weeks before. Said it was faster in Walker County.

    In Huntsville I didn’t have to wait outside. I made it just inside the door, and stood with about 20 other poor saps that were waiting for a chance to make it inside the room with the chairs.

“Hey, what are you here for?” the loud talker said. Every line has one. “Uh, renewal.” I said. – “Don’t you know you can do that on-line?” the know-it-all lady said. Exhibited one of those superior airs.

“I’m gonna bust you up, lady.” That’s the first thing that came to mind. The fourth thing was what actually came out of my mouth. “If your driver license photo was taken back when Nixon was President they want you to show up for a new one. That’s what I found out ON-LINE.”

It was the loud talker’s turn. “Hey, where you from? You know we’re gonna be here five hours don’t you?” -- “Uh, Conroe.” – “Oh, man, that’s the worst. My nephew tried to—“ That went on for about 30 minutes. During the harangue I found out I was standing in line with people from Magnolia, Spring, Montgomery, Hempstead, Willis and Iowa.

The Corn State (sometimes called “Hawkeye State”) couple were newly weds who just moved down. They had no idea what they’d stepped in. “In my hometown we just go to the Courthouse walk up to a window and they take care of us in a matter of minutes.”

“Well, you’re in Texas now. Don’t mess with us, Little Missy.” I was waiting for the know-it-all lady to say that, but she didn’t. I guess even she had her limits.

When I finally got inside the big room I noticed that there were only two clerks. One nice and one not so. Isn’t that the way it is? I wonder if there’s a place in the world where both clerks are nice. 

I was so pleased when the nice lady called me over. She didn’t make me fill out another form or anything. Did some computer stuff and then told me to stand in the square so she could take my picture.

I stood for, oh, 30 seconds. Nothing. Then I looked up for a second, closed my eyes and flinched. Snap! – The nice lady was a ringer. They coax you in with politeness and then catch you off guard with the camera. Oh, they’re good. -- By the way I was in and out in two hours.

Matters not anymore. I’ve got my temporary license, The new one is in the mail. Next time I have to do this again, I’ll be a road hazard. Or, incarcerated. Always a chance of that.


You can find Brad and Mark’s review of Hyden’s Sport’s Pub by clicking below.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I did my duty

“The voir dire experience”

    Did you know that something is more certain if you believe it “beyond a reasonable doubt” than if you are “clear and confident of it?” Hey, I was shocked, too.

    That’s what I learned on jury duty last week. The prosecutor explained stuff like that to me and the other 32 prospective jurors. I was number 29. It was a misdemeanor case and they were only looking for six jurors. Being 29 when they’re looking for six is good. (You just read a sentence that has never been written before. I’m clear and confident of that.)

    Anyone selected for the jury would have to serve for about two days. That’s what the judge said, and he’d been around long enough to know. I’m patriotic as all get out, but I really didn’t wanna show back up on Tuesday.

    Did you know that some people make weird comments during the voir dire phase of a trial? “Voir dire?”That’s the technical term for the process of selecting a jury. The judge mentioned that, but I already knew.

     I wanted to raise my hand and tell him I knew, but one of the clerks already gave me a questioning look when I stood up to see if I could steal a better pen. I don’t think you’re supposed to stand without permission.

    Where was I? Oh, weird comments. The prosecutor asked if anyone would have to be 100 percent certain before finding a person guilty. In other words, did we all agree to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” criterion?  

    A few raised their hands and said they’d have to be 100 percent sure. Good grief! Witnesses can’t even be 100 percent sure. Witnesses are lousy witnesses. (Another invented sentence.) If I had to draw a composite picture of Brad Meyer, the restaurant critic goober I eat with, I couldn’t tell you if he had hair or not. I’m around him at least two times a week. Does he have a beard? Not sure. Do you know? Well, see there? We’d both be lousy witnesses. 

    The only person who can be 100 percent sure of who did what is the person charged with doing it. He knows if he did it or not. Anyone who might’ve seen him can only know “beyond a reasonable doubt.” An extraterrestrial could’ve taken the guy’s place and committed the crime. That’s possible, but not reasonable.

    I wanted to raise my hand and explain all of that to the prosecutor, because I didn’t think he was explaining as well as I could. But, I didn’t.  Low profile. That’s the course of action I chose. I was number 29. Didn’t wanna stand out. If it were a big highfalutin famous person trial, I might’ve said stuff to get on the news.

But, I was keeping it low-key... which was a popular name for boys born in 2008.  I didn’t even want to stand out in the lobby when we were waiting to be called in. Get there at 9:00 the jury summons said. I came 15 minutes early and couldn’t find a place to park. Impossible to park where the summons instructed. Billions of cars. I ended up parking in the Baptist Church parking lot. Been my experience Baptists seldom tow your car.

    I did get there just in time to wait 40 minutes to be called into the courtroom. I imagine the lawyers were trying to strike a deal and avert a trial. They do that a lot. Bring things right down to the wire to see if one side caves. No caving.

    The trial is over by now. I didn’t serve, but I did my duty. I showed up, I spoke when directly spoken to (which was not at all) and I returned the pen I stole. I participated in the process called voir dire, and was judged to be unwanted, unneeded, and marginally well behaved. It was a rather successful Monday for me.


 To view Brad and Mark’s latest restaurant click on photo.