Thursday, May 19, 2005

In Response

A faithful reader(I didn't know I had any, honestly) remarked to me earlier this week that they missed me writing over the past couple of weeks, and I explained to them that something had come up and kept me from posting. With that in my mind, I'd like to address my absence the last two weeks.

Firstly, I did have a week vacation that I spent doing a lot of running up to the Speedway for some R and R. That, wasn't, however, the reason I didn't write.

A serious family matter came up, which I won't go into here. What I will address is the profound effect it had on me. Quite literally, I thought I was going to lose it completely.

When something happens to a loved one, it's a personal and a private matter. It's not something that needs to be brought out into the open, thrown into one's face or something that even needs to be discussed. All the "good intentions" aside, if you don't know the whole story, even though you think you do, simply keep your mouth shut and mind your own business. If I need your input, trust me, I'll ask you for it.

Someone had the audacity to bring this subject up to me. Whether it was out of genuine concern or if it was actually meant to try and rub my face in it, well, it doesn't matter. Like I said before, it was a serious and personal matter, and no one, and I mean NO ONE, had all the facts.

My family is my world, my family is my life, and to have someone try and cause emotional hurt to me and mine is inexcusable. Trust me, we had enough on our minds and we sure didn't need any more to worry about.

The good news is, we're moving ahead, one day and one step at a time, and we're doing it as we always have, as a family. Mistakes have been made, and trust me, we ALL make them, and we don't need anyone reminding us that we do, because like I said, we all make them. Some of us just have a little more class than others.

With that said, I thank those of you who have given us your support and prayers. We appreciate you all more than you'll ever know. This chapter in our life is moving ahead, and with God's help, which He's so richly blessed us with so far, we'll get thru this problem and learn from it in the years to come. Besides, those miracles we sometimes think never happen, do indeed happen as I found out earlier this week. Thank you, Jesus!

I'm proud of my family, each and everyone of them, and I hope someday that I can have them just as proud of me as I am of them.

The writing will continue....

Friday, May 06, 2005

Common Courtesy(A Dying Art)

More and more with each passing year, I'm discovering that people are becoming less and less courteous, in more ways than one. One of these areas I notice a lot, since I work daily with the public, is tact.

Anyone who knows me has to be aware of just how much of a kidder and a joker I am, but I do my best to never, ever, hurt anyone's feelings with my remarks. I sure wish I could say that I am paid the same respect in return.

I have been shaving my head daily for the past five years, simply because it's an easy way to hide hair loss. Hey, if you don't have any hair on your head, it sure makes it hard for anyone to tell just how far that hairline has really receded. My skin is pretty tough, so I can take the occasional kidding or snide remark from someone I know really well, but you know, I hear this crap everyday, several times a day, from people I barely know, or some I've never seen before.

When I was growing up, my folks taught me that if you can't say something nice to someone, it's best not to say anything at all. I've remembered this throughout my life, and I don't think I've ever intentionally said something to belittle someone publicly or to hurt their feelings. At least 4 or 5 times a week, I have to put up with the intelligent soul covering their eyes, talking about the horrible glare my bald pate is causing.( They seem to think this is an orignal statement that I've never heard before. I got news for them:ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!) Some call me baldy, some ask me why my head shines so much; the list is nearly endless, but trust me, after 5 years, and working with a lot of thoughtless idiotic comments, I've pretty much heard it all.

This week, a septugenarian customer asked me if I used Simonize on my head to get that tremendous glow I was giving off. Now, since I was not waiting on this intelligent soul, but was in the middle of a transaction with another customer and another clerk was actually waiting on her, I did the most repectful thing I could think of: I ignored her!! I was thinking to myself, this was the best course of action to take, because by acting like I didn't hear her, she would think twice about her senseless and rude comment and not repeat herself.


The customer I was waiting on gave me a look and shook her head, as if to say, "What a dumbass!" I winked and smiled back at her. Anyway, I heard her tell the other clerk, "Oh, shoot, he didn't hear me." Now I was positive I had done the right thing.

Wrong again!

As soon as I finished with my customer and she started walking away, the older lady with the questionable intelligence once again uttered, "Excuse me, do you use Simonize on your head to make it shine like that?" She looked out at the two remaining customers who had yet to be waited on, both of whom ignored her. She looked back at me, awaiting the comment I was going to make.

Oh, the things I wanted to say to the woman! First of all, I almost remarked to her, "Any just why do you want to know? Do you have an area of your body that you would like to have shine like this?"

Or, " Why yes I do, but it won't do your wrinkles any good, so don't try it. You have far too many and they're all way too deeply imbedded in your skin."

But, I didn't. Mom and Dad's teachings held fast, so I simply replied, smiling as I did so," No, ma'm, I just sweat a lot!" And I kept smiling and stared her dead in the eye for a long time.

I think I got my point across to her, because she gathered up her items and made her exit. My co-worker looked at me, shook her head, and started waiting on her next customer, commenting about how rude and thoughtless that remark was.

My point here is simply that people don't know what common courtesy is anymore. They make comments without thinking, only wishing to be cute, when actually a lot of times they not only hurt someone's feelings but they make total and complete asses out of themselves.

Case in point:

About ten years ago one of my favorite customers was at the window, talking to me. She is such a warm and wonderful Christian woman. I love this woman so much, they don't make them any better than her, I assure you! While we finished our transaction and our visit, a woman she knew came in as did a couple of other customers. Becky beamed with her one of a kind smile and spoke to the woman, who so graciously greeted her with, "Oh, God, Becky! You're so fat!"

Talk about wanting to "reach out and touch someone." This woman doesn't know how lucky she was that day, because I really did want to reach out and touch her, over and over again until she lost conciousness. But sweet, wonderful Becky only smiled and told her she knew she had been gaining weight, all the while the tears welling in her eyes.

Another time, another older customer of mine was just walking up to the counter, and I was so thankful, because this rude and obnoxious old fellow was just getting ready to walk away from the counter. As he turned around to see who was coming up, she spoke to him which gave this intelligent soul his chance to be "ass of the month."

He looked at her and spoke, and then added, "I didn't know your daughter was married."

Marjorie replied, "She isn't married, Bob."

To which he replied, quite loudly I might add, "Well, she's pregnant!"

And again, another classy comment from a well mannered woman, that this idiot didn't comprehend. All she said back in reply was, "Well, yes she is and she's sure not the first single woman to have a baby, either."

I could go on, because idiocy seems to run rampant in this day and age, and after 26 1/2 years on the job, man, have I heard some doozies! Trust me, you don't want to hear them, because some are a lot worse than these.

My point is, think before you say something to someone. They have feelings, folks, and those feelings in some cases hurt very easily. In other cases, some of these people just really might reach out and touch someone, and that someone might be you. Show intelligence when you speak, and when you do kid someone, do so without trying to hurt or embarrass someone, because if hurt or embarrassment is involved, it's not kidding and it sure as hell isn't funny!

And for the record, no, I don't Simonize, I don't use Nair, I could care less if the glare is that blinding to you, that's what sunglasses are for. Yes, I have hair, but after five years I don't know where it's growing and besides, it's no one's business by own. Yes, I grow a pony tail with my shaved head, and the reason why I do that I shared with another intelligent soul at Wal-Mart one day when he asked me what the ponytail proved, I told him it was a sociological experiment. When he asked what that was, I told him it was to see just how many people thought my hairstyle was really any of their business....

Funny thing, he hasn't asked me since.

Must have been all those people that laughed when I told him that!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Indiana And The Month Of May

Since May of 1963 when my parents first took me to a practice session at the Indianpolis Motor Speedway, there is a feeling in the air that gets into your blood if you're a true red-blooded Hoosier! It's called the Indianapolis 500!

I've been a fan of open wheeled racing since May of 1963, and although the sport has mutated a lot in the last ten years since the split between CART and the IRL, I'm still a fan of the sport. While most of my Sundays between mid February and mid November are spent watching Nextel Cup racing on television, my truest love of racing has to be rooted deeply in the Indy 500.

It used to be the entire month of May was a festival of activities at the famed 2 1/2 mile rectangular oval, but as the years have gone by and Nascar has drawn a larger and larger audience, the activity at the Speedway has been reduced to a little more than 3 weeks with days of inactivity during the same space of time. This year, even further reductions in activities will be made, and the entire qualifying procedure is going to be changed. Regardless of these changes, I anticipate the month of May more than any other month of the year. May at Indy to me signals the beginning of Summer each year.

The first year I attended practice back in 1963, Parnelli Jones topped the 150 mile an hour barrier for the first time in Speedway history. Now, 42 years later, engine and chassis restrictions are made almost yearly in an attempt to keep the speeds below 225 MPH, which usually works for a year or two, and before one can blink an eye, the speeds are back above that targeted limit. Two years ago speeds once again cracked into the 234 MPH barrier, and almost immediately, the IRL began new restrictions to attempt to lower speeds to a "safer" level. Afte 2 sessions of practice last year, the speeds were once again in the upper 220 MPH barrier, and fliriting with 229 MPH. What this year holds in store no one can be quite sure.

One thing that has changed is that the track has been resurfaced, a major undertaking that began the day after the Brickyard 400 in August of last year. Will the newly blacktopped surface allow even faster speeds than last year? Most true racing fans hope so, myself included.

This year rookie orientation will take place on Mother's Day and the day following, with practice sessions not starting until Tuesday. Instead of practice times beginning at 11 AM, this year the practice time will start at noon, Tuesday thru Fast Friday. This is supposed to be an attempt at keeping racing team costs down. Regardless, I have the week of Mother's Day scheduled off for vacation so I can make my annual pilgrimage to the greatest race track in the world and enjoy a few days of relaxation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hey, with free infield parking and at a cost of only $5 a day to be inside the magical place of IMS, it's well worth the hour drive and the small expense.

Seating is restricted to just a few areas until Fast Friday, but if you can ignore a few rude "rowdies" who insist on trashing the grandstands with chicken bones and beer cans, you can find a place to park your body and grab the sunscreen and watch some really good racing practice sessions! Myself, I carry my trash down the steps to the nearest trash can and throw it away, knowing that the next day someone else might be sitting in those same seats and they don't need to maneuver their way around my trash. I just wish those idiots I sat just north of last year would show the same consideration.

So, with that in mind, I'm looking so forward to another week at the famed Brickyard, spending quality time with my sister, my wife, and various friends for the week. It won't be the same people with me each day, but hopefully this year I won't have to make the trip up there alone like I have done in the past. I'm looking forward to cold jalapeno loaf sandwiches, a few cold beers, the much-anticipated Indy Speedway Bloody Mary's, and the tradition that is itself, The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Hope to see you there this year!