The forty year slap

Perspective is a beautiful thing but once in a while it really kind of slaps us. This was the case for me recently while I was reading a short story on social media. The author drew a conclusion which caused me to reflect and like a slap in the face, for just a moment the conclusion really had my attention.

The author stated in writing that the graduating class of 1982 had been graduates for forty years. Forty years, I thought and quickly did the math mentally. Holy crap people, that is correct. Forty years. Forty years. The impact was stunning like a Will Smith slap across the face and like Chris Rock I just stood there for a moment thinking. I even said to my lovely bride can you believe that this year I will have been a graduate for forty years? She looked at me with a, “Duh” expression clearly displayed on her face. You see she is my junior by a few and hasn’t gotten that forty year slap yet. I know there are some of you that are 50, 60, and maybe even 70 years slap recipients and you are likely thinking; “punk kid” right now. But please hear me out on this one, I think you may enjoy.

I thought about it for a few minutes remembering the last few days of school with many of my class mates and friends with whom I had endured 12 years of instruction drudgery. Ours was a small school and we knew everyone very well and were comfortable together. In the drudgery, the bond was forged and is strong to this day.

Like all graduates, we felt we had the world by the tail. I remember a teacher who was our class advisor telling us at the taking of our graduating class picture that this would be the last time that we would all be together at the same time for the remainder of our lives and that we should look around and remember that moment. I did so but at the time, as many of my classmates did, I remember thinking how full of crap that statement sounded. However; I get it now, the advisor like most of the time in those days was correct. Soon we found out that a couple would move on and leave this world just a year or two after that prophetic statement was made. Some others have moved on through the years and I try to make a mental note and think of each at that time.

Still, many of us tarry on and I associate with some still after all the years. This despite the fact that our little class of graduates has spread across the world now. When I see one of my old classmates we will normally greet and smile at our common beginnings. It has been a grand adventure for me and continues to be each and every day. Time goes fast and I must say what a wonderful journey it has been.

I recovered quickly following the forty year slap and returned focus onto tomorrow and what will be. It is good to remember and stay connected with where we are from but the excitement of life remains as it was forty years ago. It is in tomorrow, and the next, and the next after that. I’m looking forward to seeing some of you again as our paths may cross and we will laugh and catch up on goings on in our lives.

I know now just as surely as those young kids of 1982 marching proudly out the front door with wonder in our eyes, we still have the world by the tail. I hope to find you hanging on tight and running at a full speed forward just as fast as you can. Go Wildcats!!!

To that graduating class of 2022, get ready folks. Lace up your Vans, 2062 sounds far off, but it will be here quicker than you may think. My hope for you is that your adventure will be as grand as ours. It may seem like a stretch to you now but we are more alike than you know. Because you see, way back in the day, we wore Van’s too.

“Off the wall”, my young friends!!!

Free from

Will you be…

Leadership and courage presents itself in the most unusual ways and normally in the most stressful of times. Such was the case when a young man, before my very eyes, stepped out of the common crowd among his peers and placed himself directly in the lime light center stage as it were. I am proud to have been witness to it.

The day was a recent one in a local Intermediate School that I was functioning as a guest teacher or substitute for the day. I had chosen the class because of it description and age group. The class, Drama and Theatre, the age group, sixth and seventh grade. I have always loved drama and theatre because the people involved are normally very outgoing, intelligent, and eccentric. Yes, the exact type people I enjoy being with.

On this particular day as part of the teachers lesson plan was an activity called “Improv”. For those not familiar with drama and theatre, an Improv Activity involves students on stage acting out parts they are making up as they go. There is an identified control person who manages the activity to maintain order. Once the acting begins the control person periodically will yell, “ freeze”. At which time the actors all freeze in place and another actor takes their exact place on stage and then the acting continues with a “resume” command from the control. The actors themselves determine the plot and they do this without script. They just make it up as they go and it can be very funny because each actor’s thoughts, mood, and talent come out in the most unexpected ways.

On this particular day I had begun the activity with the acting queue of, “fishing”. The acting began and the action lagged for a while. The students not comfortable with fishing quickly turned to violence on stage. Yelling, mock assault, chasing one another, conflict of every kind occurred time and time again.

It seems that the challenges of maturity in these grades, the emergence of unfamiliar hormone’s both testosterone and estrogen, the difficulties of honestly interacting with each other, and the fact that our students are constantly bombarded with violence is represented with their comfort levels. They are comfortable with violence and can easily act it out. After several stop and restarts which I intended to steer toward a story line and away from senseless violence, but they, the actors, would continue to gravitate back toward it. That is until the unexpected happened.

The act on stage involved two young ladies and they were acting as if in a Knights Court. A King Arthur type setting where a good Knight was to be rewarded for gallantry in battle by the Queen. The good Knight was kneeling on one knee before the Queen who stood before the good Knight, sword drawn and about to bestow some Knighthood honor when the control yelled, “Freeze.”

At this the next actor in line was a young man who ambled on stage and assumed the kneeling position before his Queen. Now, with the change in gender came a change in the interaction and direction of the script if there had been one. The controller yelled, “Resume.” At which the Queen just stood there looking at this young man kneeling before her. I was expecting a return to violence with a scream by the Queen; “off with his head” or such. But what followed surprised all including me.

The young man placed his hands together like he was holding a small box in both hands while kneeling on one knee before his female counter part. He looked up to his Queen with pleading eyes and said in a clear voice before all to see and hear. “Will you be my Valentine?”
At this there was a dead silence in the class room as the audience of peers evaluated what they had just seen. A shocked expression appeared on the Queens’ face. Her continued attempt to be the cool and collected teen she had just been was challenged in those five words. After a brief moment the class erupted in laughter and cheering for our brave Knight and his gallant effort to secure his Valentine. I found myself laughing cheering and giving applause to the young Knight.

“Freeze”, the controller yelled again as the Queen took a tentative step backward. Was this acting? Was it real? What should she do now right before her peers? These thoughts raced across the Queen’s face in expression. Her facial details had betrayed her thoughts. Although no sound of voice escaped her, watching the shy smile spread across her face the answer was given; “Yes, Sir Knight!”

Well done my young friend, you have the courage of a thousand…

Into the Sunset

The sun settled itself into the western horizon and I flipped down the visor to better see, I thought to myself, why am I always driving into the sunset with it’s blinding glare?

Being unable to see traffic around me, pedestrians, or the control lights of intersections that day, the thought was an irritable one as I squint into the glare. That is until I took more time to think about what that blinding glare meant for me.

Whenever possible I try to make an adventure of each and every day. I’m well aware that time is short and it seems to be fleeting fast. We so often allow ourselves to forget this fact or simply think, there is a guarantee in tomorrow, I’ll do adventure then. What foolishness this thought can be, because there is no guarantee.

What does adventure have to do with a blinding sunset glare you may ask. Well, I’d be happy to explain, for me it means I’m out there still at adventures ending track. To be driving home at sunset, tells me that I have made the most of that given day and the adventure that was allowed.

My thought today is simply this, driving home into a sunset glare is a blessing that I’m thankful for. If it continues to be my fortune, I’ll have so many more. On each to come as the sun sinks low, I’ll slow the scrambling pace a bit and flip the visor down. I’ll throw on some shades and move my helmet down, or maybe simply shade my eyes with a hand raised out and high. If I stare just long enough into the brightening glare, the sun itself will surely dip below horizons of the west. When that time arrives I may just see, the best of color yet.

If someday on your homeward bound, and from adventure would be my wish, you see me slowing down a bit and staring into the sunset glare, anticipation on my face. Smile with me as it just might be, that now you’ll understand.

Life, you just Gotta Live It!!!

Look, a Gaggle of Geese

There is a river in the Nez Perce National Forest of Idaho that is called the Clearwater. The river itself is appropriately named as the water cascading through that drainage is some of the most transparent I have seen.

Peering into the water from above you can easily see to the river’s rocky bottom which in the summer months has a rusted, copper, or dark tan color from algae growth under the water’s surface. Over millennia the river has cut passage through hard rock and now clears the way for Route 13 to flank its path winding and turning in a north or south direction through an amazing forested area.

If you are thinking that sounds like an excellent route for a motorcycle ride you would not be mistaken and in fact I have travelled that way with friends not long ago.

As I rode along enjoying the turns, the curves, wind on my face, the coolness of the air and the majesty surrounding us I caught movement off to my right. As I turned to look I saw a gaggle of seven Geese flying along that magnificent river. At first they were slightly below my position but they were traveling in the same direction as I and were gaining elevation. They had formed into that well known flying V formation and were traveling at the same speed.

Have I mentioned how hard it is to keep one’s eye on the road when absolute perfection is occurring right next to you? Well that was my dilemma and I did my very best to safely take in the scene. Imagine if you can seven graceful birds of brown, white, green, and tan each painted the same beautiful pattern flying in perfect formation with a back drop of a clear river cascading over rocks of copper and forested rocky hillside behind. Absolutely splendid!!!

I would hope that moments like this last forever in my memory even if for a short minute or two in reality. I watched in amazement at the grace as the gaggle paced me along my path until at last they began to descend and eventually splash down in that cool water creating a splash of white water droplets that flew outward away from their bodies as wings tucked into their sides.

I continued on along Route 13 anxiously waiting for the next miraculous sight from a straddle my motor. But somehow I think this one will stay with me for a while.

Life, you just have to live it!!!

A Step

As I gazed upward this morning at an incredible sight, I was reminded of the phrase; “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” (Neil Armstrong, 1969) he along with Aldrin and Collins, the epitome of bravery.

I think to myself, step out there today and do something special with this gift of a new day!!!

The Expedition of Mollies Nipple

Located on the south eastern edge of the Hurricane Valley is a Butte which has a shape and size that stands out on that beautiful sky line. Mollies Nipple is one of those landscape features that the eye is simply going to notice. As such was my case some three years ago when I first started to frequent the south western corner of this amazing geographical area located in State of Utah, USA.

Of course my interest in the area was and continues to be toward a person more than the geography here but for me once I discovered that hiking Mollies Nipple is not only possible but is frequently done it has been on my, “to do list.”

So on Saturday last as the good Lord granted me yet another day to get it right and I woke with that special person who had brought me to this area in the first place along with my trusty furry side kick Kevin, the question was once again poised; “What should we do today?” At this question the answer popped into my head and I blurted out. “Let’s make a run on Mollies Nipple!” So with that the days adventure was set into motion.

Now any hike requires a degree of planning and preparation. Over the last couple years I had spent some time researching and scouting the area. Locals had told me previously of an access road that made the hike to the summit an easy one. I had spent time searching for this road but was unable to locate it and soon put the thoughts of the easy access out of my mind. I did find the hiking trail to the summit and had driven to the trail head a couple times where I looked up longingly at the summit to the Butte tracing the route visually.

Mollies Nipple trail begins on the valley floor at the edge of a new subdivision where an access gate is located. From there it quickly passes through a wash and then immediately begins a steep upward climb. Statistics indicate the trail is 1.7 miles out and back and has a “difficult” rating with an elevation gain of 1,353 feet above the valley floor. Doing some math I discovered that the hike was a bit of a scramble up covering on average 80 vertical feet every tenth of a mile. I could see that this average was mostly contained in the lower third that is steep and the terrain being that of loose gravel and rock. The trail spider webs into several routes all leading upward. They all converge on a spine that continues upward to the Butte’s summit.

As we planned our day my beautiful little companion had a number of other items on her list and was contemplating a timeline for this hike. I quickly recognized the seemingly short time allowed to complete this, “to do” listed item for me. I think I remember her saying something like; “Well we could knock that out in this many minutes and then we could…” Now my little companion is nearly always willing to try my adventures even when she doesn’t have a clear idea what I’m asking of her. On this occasion I simply stated; “Oh, let’s just play it by ear and see how long it takes us.”

With the plan set we packed hydration and snacks into my pack, donned our hiking shoes, climbed into the power Dodge and off we went onto an adventure filled day. As I drove to the trail head located at the foothill, the summit of Mollies Nipple loomed over us and Kathy asked a couple of questions as she began to grasp my adventure plan. The two I remember were; “We are going up there?” And, “How do you know where to start?” I replied; “Well I have driven out here before, I thought that you were with me?” With a pause I continued to state facts about the trail I had discovered. After talking briefly about the lower thirds challenge and its eventual transition to a easier slope I ended with; “maybe we should get you a better pair of hiking boots so you have better traction and ankle support?” To this there was a distant but thoughtful reply while she continued to look up and up. “No, I’ll be fine.”

With that we hopped out of the power Dodge and seeing two other cars parked near the trailhead I mentioned; “Well, it looks like we are going to have company up there.” I figured a misery loves company statement might be the encouragement she needed. Little did I know how accurate this statement would later prove to be.

So with a spring in our step, fresh legs under us, the thrill of engaging a challenge clearly felt and with Kevin running back and forth excited to be out with us and not on leash, we began our ascent. As we continued up and up, I began to think of some great mountaineers in human history. The likes of George Mallory, Andrew ”Sandy” Irvine, Sir Edmund Hillary, and Tenzing Norgay were on my oxygen deprived mind. Of course this was no Mount Everest but to a middle age, out of shape couple, gaining feet in elevation with every step, oxygen deprivation is the same.

Years ago, when responding to questions about why someone would want to climb Everest? Mallory and then later Hillary replied; “because it’s there!” This statement continued to ring in my mind and I began to look forward to my own statement about Mollie. You have to celebrate your little victories; they are the marrow of life.

Up, up, and up we went; resting every few paces. Over, through and around scrambling opportunities until at last we reached the spine above the lower third. I smiled when by little companion began to send text messages on our rest breaks canceling her additional plans made for that day putting them off until another time. Yes, playing it by ear for this outing was becoming a necessity.

However, once on the spine the steepness of grade reduced and scrambling gave way to upright walking on a gentle slope with a well-defined trail. Our eyes fixed on the crown jewel itself the summit of the Butte which jutted perkily into the blue sky above. Yes, yes, this Butte had been appropriately named. As legend tells the Butte was named by a Mormon Pioneer named John Kitchen in commemoration of his lovely wife Mollie. Since there are reportedly at least 6 different geological features in the State with reference to Mollie, I think she must have been some little gal who never strayed far from her husband’s thoughts.

Continuing on with heaving breath at every step I was reminded of my healing airway. Having recently recovered from a severe nasal and chest infection. Oh I tell you now, there is nothing like exertion and clean air to clear air passages and remove congestion from the alveoli of the lungs. Yes, it was a blow and go experience for me and I was so thankful that I had remembered to bring along my handkerchief.

As we pressed on and I continued to think of Hillary and Norgay and the elation they must have felt as they accomplished the enviable success in being the first to summit Everest and survived to tell the tale. I was feeling my own sort of elation and excitement at summiting Mollie when I saw movement there on the summit. I stopped mid-stride and looked closely at that amazing shape ahead. Yes, there was movement for certain. I saw standing on the summit, a person with another scrambling up behind. I said out loud; “Well look there, we are to have company today after all.” Kathy also stopped and looked at our destination. We watched for a time as the figures began their descent and were closing the distance clearly on the same trail; we would soon meet.

As the couple approached I saw they too had a furry companion and its looks was very similar to Kevin. Soon we were talking together and comparing notes on our experience of the lower third as our furry friends played together no less energetic from the start. At this time we felt we had less than ten minutes to our eventual summit success. While conversing with this wonderful couple, I continued to keep my eye on the goal by occasionally glancing up to the summit. To my amazement I saw additional movement there. I said; “look there is someone else up there too.” Thinking immediately about the third car at the trail head I determined they must be from that last car.

It was at this time that reality came crushing down upon me. The couple said, yeah there are a lot of people up there. Confused I must have looked because they continued; “Yeah, there is a road on the other side and a parking lot there. You can just drive up from the other side.” I must have let out a gasp of air like that of a fully inflated balloon being pricked with a sharp pin. With a sympathetic tone of voice the couple said; “yeah, it was a bit disappointing to us too.” Disappointing? I thought to myself. No, “crushing” was a better description of what I felt. Imagine the blow to Hillary and Norgay had someone landed in a helicopter at their Everest summit camp and hopped out eating a McDonalds Big Mac. “Road” I thought, where in the hell is the road? I had driven all over out there while scouting and couldn’t find it at all.

I soon recovered and after a few more words and joking with this fine couple we pressed on to the summit. Upon our arrival I saw out in the distance just what had been described. A dirt road with multiple vehicles parked in a turn around and a number of people walking to and from the vehicles. After visiting with some of the folks at the top I determined where I might have missed the road on previous scouting trips. The folks there were young people from a local community out on what seemed to be an awesome group date. I enjoyed helping them with several group photographs to document their day group date and then we went our separate ways.

The tremendous trio of Kathy, Kevin and I made our way to the highest point of the summit where we sat, snuggled, and drank hardy amounts of fluids while snacking on granola bars, cheese and crackers. While overlooking a spectacular view of the Hurricane Valley, we cracked off-color jokes and made creative statements about dining at our current location. We laughed at ourselves and at my scouting error. We looked back toward our own approach and eventual descent and felt a tremendous sense of victory. We had in fact summited Mollies Nipple and we had done so the right way; the hard way.

In fact I’m intending to produce tee shirts for the three of us to boast of the accomplishment. I envision a silk screen image of the Butte and conversation starting statements for the tee shirts. Maybe something like; “We did Mollies Nipple the hard way” for example. That should do it, oh the conversations and bragging opportunities we’ll have.

At having seen the area from an elevated spot, we returned to the area the next day and located the elusive road I had missed previously while scouting. I had in fact been right on the very road I was looking for but because of vegetation and angle I had missed the road continuing on past the place I had turned around.

Upon locating it we drove out to the turn around on our OHV and gazed up at the summit which was only a couple hundred yards away. I’ll tell you the experience was just not the same as the day previous, there could be no comparison made.

Although the hike is a butt kicker in every sense, I’m thankful that I had missed the road while scouting and we had experienced Mollies Nipple as we did; the hard way. It seems that the more the struggle the greater the reward. I am proud to have been a member of the tremendous trio expedition that scrambled up Mollies Nipple and we did it the hard way. What is more? We’ll have the tee shirts to prove it.

Fix it

There is an intrinsic reward in, “fixing it”. This is a simple Tale of a grill gone wrong but in the end all is made right. Broken things can be fixed and made right.

In our world of disposable everything the art of repair and the reward felt has been lost. As I watch our society continue to grapple with decline reflected in our collective sense of entitlement, demand of instant gratification, and “used won’t do” attitudes. I’m confident we can overcome financial frustration, foreign goods over dependence, supply chain delay, and a host of problems that go with it. How you might ask? Well in part by the simplest of techniques; don’t replace it, fix it!!!

I was raised by a man of immense talent. My father could do and/or fix anything. He came from that post Depression Greatest Generation Era where people made due and waste was unthinkable. In raising his family he passed on some of himself to his own. I’m proud to be one of those.

So as the Tale goes, my new little Bride told me recently that she had been gifted a new electric griddle some time earlier and after a single use she had accidentally thrown away the plug and temperature dial. Since then the griddle had sit unused.

Occasionally we have grandkids, friends, or relatives visit where a griddle would be of benefit. Now, here is where a choice was made. Reflecting my father I determined to put the griddle back into service and “Fix It.”

My first stop? You guessed it, wholesale parts on the internet. My frustration? I found I could buy new nearly every type of griddle known to mankind and have it shipped to the USA from nations of all points on Mother Earth. But to find a replacement control for an existing unit I owned; nearly impossible. Still, I pressed on continuing to evaluate my options and honestly total replacement was winning out in the available options listing. I just hadn’t pulled the trigger yet.

Then one day, I remembered a local thrift store. This is the type establishment that functions on public donation and specializes in training people for a needed workforce right here in our community. I thought to myself; “hadn’t I seen a whole section of donated used electric appliances there?” Surely if that be the case, they would have an extra control module available. I determined to check and stopped on my next trip past that store. What I found there was box after box of donated control modules for every type device built for the last fifty years. A short search rewarded me with a module I was confident would work based on appearance of the connection ends on the griddle itself. The price was a whopping three bucks!!! “Sold”, I thought to myself as I walked to the cashier.

Upon arriving home, I was actually excited and could hardly wait to see if I could fix the nonfunctional griddle with my three dollar purchase. It was a little like Christmas or the excitement of a new adventure. Ok, I admit it, I’m a bit quirky, but I could smell success and that had my attention.

I pulled the griddle out of deep storage and inserted the newly acquired control module which fit like a hand to glove. I plugged in the combination, turned the module to an “on” position and waited.

The result? The light came on immediately and held steady indicating power to the unit. For the next few moments I waited with a hand over cooking surface. Was it getting warm or was it my imagination? A minute later I knew for sure. Satisfaction was felt as the heat rose to the point where I needed to move my hand away, not long after that the control module clicked off when the desire temperature was achieved. Fixed and working like new!!!

With a great sense of accomplishment I said to my smiling little Bride. “What will it be Ma’am, Pancakes or Bacon and Eggs?”

“If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy!” Red Green

At the counter

I know many who are reluctant to dine out at a restaurant alone. If you are one of them, this tale is for you.

Now, coming from a public safety background, a widower for a time, and now retired I have and do dine alone often and have found the following to be the best strategy. Sit at the counter!

This morning I felt like breakfast out. I determined to go to a locals spot famous for home style breakfast. Now, when I say locals spot, I’m speaking of that “Cheers” type business where; “Everybody knows your name”. Someday when you would like a treat to put a smile on your face; Google and listen to the words of the theme song for that amazing show.

By sitting at the counter you are no longer alone but among a new set of potential friends, the Staff and others who know the value of the counter. Going back to the Cheers setting; you notice Norm, Frazier, and Cliff never sat at an isolated corner table but always at the counter. In doing so they were an involved and integral part of the social interaction. The same is true in real life.

This morning at a little after 7 am I walked in and was greeted at the door. My first request, can I sit at the counter? A knowing host said; “sure, pick your spot”. I chose my spot among others; one a Native American man with long hair braided down his back, one a clear Republican with his “Let’s Go Brandon” hat proudly worn, another older man with a timid voice that one had to concentrate on to hear, and me with a plaid shirt and Harley Davidson hat among several others. All so different but yet the same, you know products of a melting pot, the Great American experiment. The conversation? Well, everything from the weather to the Supreme Court and cases being considered this session.

I saw co-workers arrive at work and give one another hello hugs that had real meaning. I witnessed, laughed at, and participated in bantering with each other. All good natured and fun. I heard time and again how much each staff member enjoyed and looked forward to coming to work regardless of their duty; from cook, to service, to washing dishes, because like me as I enjoyed my sausage and eggs, they enjoyed being with their peers. I have served in management positions of human resources at front line supervision in the past and would have done almost anything then to create a work environment like the one I witnessed this morning.

I watched in amazement at the quickening of pace as additional customers filed in. I watched a fine tuned system kick in and those same friends now a part of a very effective service team rose to the demands of the day. The smiles didn’t fade and the polite teamwork didn’t change.

Others finished their meal or drink and left. I heard salutations like; “Have a good day Bear!” To which my Native American associate said in return; “You too!” I finished my breakfast, wished my new friends of this morning a pleasant day and walked out knowing I would have one too.

We all travel this life alone but the degree is completely up to us. Be surrounded by loved ones, have a great day, and I will see you at The Counter some day soon!!!

Check it out…

Have you ever experienced the self-checkout at your local Wal-Mart store? You know the ever increasing method of self-scanning your items and paying without having to speak to a single person? A sure sign of technology assisted labor cost reduction and of course significant cost savings for me the customer. Right?

Today was my day of errands running and I have to admit I was making impressive progress; one task to the next and on to the next. Making such good time in fact that I found myself with one hour and forty five minutes before the next appointment. I previously had planned to go shopping after my last appointment and I had prepared myself and large shopping list. With the day’s good fortune and efficiency I thought: “Cool, I’ll hit the local Wal-Mart and then I can head back home after my final appointment for the day. It’s all good!”

Once inside the store, I have to say my good fortune continued as I was a picture of efficiency moving from aisle to aisle grabbing the items on my list. I even took time to compare prices and purchase the best buy. Now this is an impressive statement given that I am a guy and a single guy at that who until recently has never needed to shop for myself. This efficiency continued throughout the shopping experience right up until I had that one small incident with the kid in fresh produce. I turned the corner and was walking along with intent of selecting the perfect avocado and tomato at just the right price from the long bin of items. I was at about half way down the aisle when a young person in his late teens or early twenties pulled his stocking cart across the aisle blocking any passing opportunity I might have had. You know I thought to myself, had he done this in his car he would likely have gotten shot in the latest of road rage incidents reported as breaking news over and over again by the ever efficient news networks we have become accustomed. Does anyone remember Walter Cronkite and his signature statement, “And that’s how it is?’ Oh the good ole day’s when honesty was in style and propaganda was minimized for the sake of truth to be told. Oh wait, that is another story entirely. Sorry about that, I digress, back the story at hand.

So I was thinking ok he’ll move and let me pass. Instead he picked up and began stocking pineapple on the bin. He was facing me with full view of his face which had a strange look best described as a creepy smile. My first thought was I wonder if he is suffering from schizophrenia and the voices are telling jokes? Then remembering modern day I looked for ear phones in his ear. He must have had some amazing earbuds because I couldn’t even see them. Finally I said; “Dude, you gonna move so I can pass or what?” He actually physically jumped a little at the direct verbal stimulus I had given apparently he hadn’t even noticed me before. He recognized his error and said, “Oh, sorry” and moved the stocking cart giving me a passing route. Politely I said, “thanks man.” No reply given so apparently he was back with the voices. No worries, I continued making up the time on every selected item.

Finally I glanced at my phone time and found thirty minutes before my next appointment. Among the items I had selected there were a large number of fresh fruit and vegetables items. So I headed to the clerks up front. I have to admit being fairly new at shopping, I have been intimidated for months by the self check-out station when I have fresh fruit and vegetables. No scan code bars on those bad boys and how in the world do you look them up?

I confidently strolled to the front of the store and scanned for the ever familiar numbered light which would indicate a speedy and efficient clerk was scanning and happily discussing the beauty of the day with other joyful and pleasantly satisfied customers. Do you remember back in the day when this was the case and people actually possessed the skill to verbally interact with one another and enjoy the exchange? I actually half expected and opportunity to engage in conversation and maybe make a new friend in the process.

I saw two lights illuminated on the far end of the store. I began walking to those clerks and while on my way I passed bank after bank of self-check stations but I have to admit I allowed myself to be intimated. I have fruit and vegetables and no idea how to check them out. I walked on toward the two friendly clerks who were surely waiting at the illuminated stations. However, as I got closer I noticed the lines. The sight reminded me of long lines I had seen on television as a kid of Russian people in Communist Russia waiting in the streets to buy toilet paper. Still I was intimidated and got in line and waited after all I had thirty minutes before the next appointment. Fifteen minutes later I hadn’t moved an inch. In fact I stepped forward in line to make sure the clerk was still breathing as she hadn’t moved a muscle in over five minutes as best I could tell. I was in serious debate with myself at this point, do I just leave the cart with all of my carefully selected items and walk out so that I could make the appointment? Do I buck up and give the self-check out a try? Finally another gentleman walked up, recognizing me as a friendly person who would engage in conversation he said, “Holy cow is this line even moving?” I replied, “not very darn fast.” He said, “I don’t know how but I’m going to try the self-check out”. Building my courage with his own I following him to the near endless bank of self-check stations. Now this good man had less than five selected items but his courage inspired me.

I walked up to the readily available faceless and cold scanner. I selected the first few items which had bar codes; one after another the tone sounded and my confidence built. Finally I grabbed the packet of grapes and scanned them. “BONK”… “unrecognized item, set it a side and/or ask the customer service specialist for help” the computer instructed. I did so and scanned all of the other items in my cart with bar codes. So many were there that I began to stack the bagged items on the floor because I still had a number of items in the cart including fresh fruit and vegetables. I felt stress and pressure begin to build. Finally the customer service representative walked past. I said: “excuse me, can you help me I don’t know how to do these fruits and vegetables?” Clearly irritated she said, “you don’t know how? Just hit this button and the type in the number, if that doesn’t work put it on the scale and hit this button and select the item from the menu.” She then began to walk away. At which time I became a bit more persuasive; I have a bit of a reputation for doing this occasionally. I said, “don’t go anywhere, watch me do this!” The first item was bananas and “BONK” the first attempt didn’t seem to have worked, I tried again “BONK”. With a heavy sigh she stepped closer and began to watch and correct my many mistakes correcting me as I went. I retried the bananas again, it worked. Brussel sprouts next; boom, green pepper next; boom, after a few more items; boom, boom, boom I began to go faster confidence and a smile building on my face. Finally, thinking “I’ve got this”, I released the customer service specialist from my control to go help other learning customers.

I gathered my sacked items from the floor, paid the lower than normal price I was certain that I had gotten because of the cost saving technology and headed for the door. I passed the customer service specialist as she helped others, I stopped, walked over to her touching her on the arm I said; “thank you for the assist it was quite an education.” Finally, she smiled and said you’re welcome have a nice day. “You too,” I said to my new friend. I’ve never ceased to be amazed at what a kind word and a thank you can do.

Upon arriving home following the next appointment I had the very real feeling that I had taken items for which I did not pay. So inquiring minds must know I am told. I actually checked the items off the receipt as I put them away at my home. One after the other I found on the receipt and put it away. Finally when all items were stowed each having been located on the receipt. I examined the receipt in amazement at the efficiency of this self check-out. Could it actually be that accurate?

While doing this I noticed one item listed twice on the receipt and only one check mark. One glaring error on the entire receipt. Any guesses? If you said “banana” you are so right. BONK, so much for cost savings.

So check it out, the way I see it is, Sam Walton owes me some bananas and on my next trip I’m going to find my new friend the customer service specialist and say, “Hey do you remember me and those stupid bananas?” I have a ten spot that says she does just because I told her “thank you”… Never underestimate the power of a kind word.


The value of a word; well, it’s astounding and few are better than the word “Look”. I have had moments when I am completely alone and amazing things are discovered.

Like the amazing sunrise of yesterday with its lightening blue sky over a black desert landscape and the redness of clouds set all blaze with the days first rays of brilliant light. As I drove through the desert, the voice of Louis Armstrong singing in my mind; “What a Wonderful World!”

“I see skies of blue and clouds of white. The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night. And I think to myself what a wonderful world.”

And yes, I may well have sang along with Louis for a time, Kevin being my only witness, to a rare but magnificent sight.

Moments such as these are amazing to be sure, but the power of “look” is on my mind and I have discovered. For to experience the power of “look” one must share with another.

Like a day prior from this wonderful sunrise morning, when in the amazing place we call Zion with a special friend. We walked and we talked and sat and we held hands and each other so close. Oh, what an amazing day to have been together and the power of look was there to be sure.

Oh “look” there is an amphitheater but it’s all wrong for the seats are facing the wrong way; let’s sit on the stage and ”look” at the beauty of the real act going on in the mountains behind.

Oh, “Look” there are people up there on that rock you can see them shining in the brightness of sun.

“Look” at that cliff. If someone fell from way up there how in the world would you get them down?

Oh my, “Look” at that buck in the field. He hasn’t a worry in the world and oh hey, “look” there is another and another. And “look” at that big one; he is standing right in town.

Just “Look” at those yellow leaves, I just love the color of fall leaves here against the red rock.

Oh that stream is dry, that isn’t a good sign. But “look” this one is running with cool water from above. We should give Kevin a drink.

Hey, do you hear the rumble? “Look” there they are over there. On a motor; that is the best way to see the park.

Oh “look” at that, what a pretty picture.

What makes look such a powerful word is that it also means share. Memory fades and time takes a toll but of shared moments one can always say to the other: “Hey, do you remember when…?”

And for me” look” makes adventure better in a magical way. Those who can say “look” are blessed beyond measure for it means you’re together.