Archive for the Local Category

A thank you letter, long overdue.

Posted in 'Merica, America, Christmas, Freedom, Holidays, Jeremy Dotson, Local, Modern, Patriotism, Soldiers, U.S. Military, Uncategorized, USAF with tags , , , on August 15, 2014 by Divide By Zero

I wrote this letter probably 2 years ago, and it seems more appropriate than ever to post it now, what with all the turmoil over in Israel and with all the crap about missing planes.  I don’t agree with some of it, and other parts of what’s going on I’ll admit I know nothing about.  But I do have friends/family friends/relatives in the military and they don’t deserve the flack they get for following orders.  Anyways, here it is:

 

There are millions of letters out there addressed to our soldiers.  And for some reason, I feel the need to add one more.  I want to make sure that we all understand, that even if you don’t support the cause, support our troops.

This letter is for our military; past, future,

A while ago, I read on my brother’s [USAF A1C] facebook page a quote that I can’t forget.  It read “Land of the free, because of the brave.”  That quote could not have summed everything about this country up more perfectly.  I admire our military men/women, and only wish I had the honor.. to do what they do each and every day.  Thank you.

This letter goes out to every soldier who has spent a holiday or birthday away from home.  It goes out to those who have gone overseas for Uncle Sam; for those who have seen the look in their childrens eyes when they leave.  And for the gleam in those same childrens eyes when the soldiers return.

This letter is for the Marines who keep a picture of their loved ones in a pocket close to their heart, and wonder if they’ll ever see them again every time they clean their weapon.  For the Airmen, Seamen, and Army personnell who have a brother, a sister, a mother and father.

This letter is for the soldiers who caught Osama.  For the ones who caught Sadam.  The ones who insured our freedom, once again.  This is also for the ones who were there giving back-up.  I don’t care if you were loading things on a ship, or fuelling up a jet, I thank you.  No wait a second.  WE- The United States- thank you.

This letter is for the batallion that moved in yesterday. The one no one has heard from.  We don’t know whether they will live or die.  We thank you.

This is for the sniper who is waiting on the hilltop.  It’s been a week since he’s had any food or water.  He’s staying his post, “just doing his job”.  We thank you.

This is for any veteran who has come back from war and been denied a job, or a check, or a place to live, or a thank you.  We thank you.

This is for any damn veteran who has lost a limb, or a piece of their spirit, or a part of their mind somewhere outside of the United States, in order to protect it.  Thank you.

This is for the brotherhood, the comraderie, and the overall greatness that makes our military what it is.   It’s also for [and I’m quoting/paraphrasing from someone else here] everyone who has written a check out to the People of the United States of America for the amount of “..Up to/including my life.”  Sincerely.  From the deepest, most patriotic part of my heart.  Thank you.  God Bless You, and we wouldn’t survive without you.  You soldiers are the blood running through this countrys body.

And to anyone brave enough to go to Boot Camp, Basic Training, or whatever else, sign your life over – for however long – to the government, and say “Whatever you got, bring it on!”

But most of all, this letter is for the families of those soldiers, for letting them go out there and fight for us.  We thank you, too.

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Followup to my Craigslist Post

Posted in Craigslist, Downtown Bristol, Local, Modern, PS2, PS3, Video Game on April 12, 2011 by Divide By Zero

I apologize for not posting articles in a timely manner as I should have been doing.  But I am not skipping any, I am sticking to the schedule I had made up months ago.  Except for this article, I changes what it was going to be.  A number of weeks ago, I posted an article complaining about people who are trying to rip other people off on craigslist.  I didn’t think I’d have a lot of responses to it, but people in my area (and across the nation) have been flooding my inbox with complaints about my.. complaint.  I think it’s because I sometimes promote my blog on the local news pages of Craigslis *snicker*, as well as have it featured on tricities.com.  So everyone out there in my locale who is a craigslist user can read it.  Let’s see what they had to say:

“ur such a whiney complainey moron! i hope you were one of the people from clist that i ripped off in kingsport!” ~Mandy from Johnson City

Well, Mandy.. where do I begin?  I wasn’t whining, at least if I were I’d be able to spell the word “whiny” when describing myself.  And I wouldn’t have to make up words like “complainey”, then I’d be a moron.  And notice how she says: “one of the people…I ripped off”.  So she was definitely one of the people I was trying to lecture to in my last post.  Who’s next?

“why are you such a b**** dude? its just ppl trying to make a buck.” ~Dave from Asheville

I agree, dude.  But buyer beware, I think that if people were more interested and knowledgeable of the value of what they’re trying to acquire was, then stuff like this wouldn’t happen.  That was one of my intentions of writing my post (hereafter referred to as The Letter), to bring awareness.

“But I have over 55 games that im seling with my ps2, that makes it worth at least $150 moer!” ~Toad from Abingdon

Negative, Ghost Rider.  Head to GameStop and see how much they give you for your “over 55 games” (read: 56 games).  You would be extremely lucky to walk out of there with 60 extra dollars, depending on your collection.  Asking more than double that is just stupid.  Like your face.

“just bc u’ve been burned b4 on the clist doesnt mean ereyone is gettin burned” ~Byrne from Johnson City

How do you use an apostrophe in (not even really) a word like “u’ve” but you don’t in “doesn’t”.  Come on man, step your grammar and punctuation up.  And this is the second time people have called it “the clist”.  What is a clist?  Do you want to slang the word “Craigslist”?  Then there has to be a hyphen in there.  The C-List.  I can see that.  But poor rhetoric aside, Mr. Byrne does have a point.  Just because one person gets burned, doesn’t mean everyone is out to burn someone (Mandy).  I am fortunate enough to not have been burned on Craigslist yet.  Although, I have only made one purchase off of it.

“u need to kwit wit all dis bull**** man what give u da rite to preach like you now sumthin? i do all my business on craig list and i nevur rip no bady off” ~Phil from Damascus

Don’t send your kids to school in Damascus.

All I was trying to say to everyone is that their old video games are not worth what they think they are.  There’s no way you’re going to trade an original XBox for a PS3, even if you have all the games and extras ever made for it.  If you do, give me that persons contact info, I have a few XBox’s I’m trying to get rid of.

There are many many more e-mails I could post up here, but I don’t see any point in it.  I really wasn’t trying to stir the pot of the online Craigslist community.  Just seriously think about a trade, or a purchase before you buy from someone online.  I know it’s been said about a trillion times.  It should be common sense by now, but still people get tricked into every kind of scam.  It saddens me a little bit.

Stay tuned for next week’s Outback Chronicles!

The Jester.

My Open Letter to Craigslist Users

Posted in Craigslist, Downtown Bristol, Local, Modern on March 8, 2011 by Divide By Zero

This isn’t going to be about the creepy predators or anything like that.  And I’m sure it’s going on around the web, not just locally.. but I’ve dealt locally with Craigslist users and most of the time I end up bailing out on the deal 3 e-mails into the negotiations.

Specifically the video games section of the Tri-Cities Craigslist sellers.  This goes out to all of you:

No one is going to buy your Nintendo DS for $150 when the PSP just dropped to $129.99 (or even $128.77 at wal-mart).

No one is going to trade you their Wii for a PS2, or an Original XBox.. I don’t care how many games you have with them.

Seriously, you need to go to GameStop, and see how much they would give you for your games.. you’re not going to get much more for your 10 year old games than what they have to offer.. unless it’s a really rare game.

Trading a PS3 for an XBox 360, I can see.. that makes sense.  Trading your “PS2 EXCELENT [sic] COND. WITH OEVR [sic] 60 GAMES 4 CONTROLER [sic] PLUS XTRAS! [sic] WTT FOR XBOX 360 OR PS3” <– are you kidding me, guy from Kingsport?  First of all you can’t spell, so you have to lay off the video games for a bit anyways.  Second of all.. go to GameStop, look at how much you’re going to get for all of that.. $75.00 if you’re lucky?  And 360s/PS3s retail for between $150-$225 (read: 2 or 3 times what your crap is worth).  Really?  You know better than that.

Just because your games are “BRAND NEW” or “SLIGHTLY USED” they are not new.  Even if they are still wrapped in plastic, they are used.  Example: you buy a new car, and drive it off the lot and try to sell it online as “new” just because you bought it new, and you didn’t take the paper covers off the floor mats… are you going to get what you paid for it?  No.  Same thing with your video games.

Seriously, don’t try to take advantage of other people.  Quit trying to rip them off.  Video games are supposed to be fun.. don’t take that away from people!  I thought that living in the Tri-Cities, a more tightly-knit, friendlier community people wouldn’t do this to each other.  Let’s stop the craziness and be a little more non-rippy-offy to each other.

The Jester.

The Special Olympics: My Interview with Nancy Brown

Posted in Downtown Bristol, Family, Local, Special Olympics with tags , , , , , , , on March 8, 2011 by Divide By Zero

My deepest apologies go out to Ms. Brown, the Special Olympics, and everyone involved with them.  I was supposed to have this article written about 2 weeks ago, but I just got over the worst bout of the flu I think I’ve ever had.  I also wanted to make it to the Bowling competition that was held this past weekend.

A few weeks ago, I had the distinct honor to interview Ms. Nancy Brown.  She is a wonderful and generous woman who gives a lot of her time, and herself really to supporting the local Special Olympics; a cause that is very near and dear to my heart.  She was so nice that she told me all about the Special Olympics in detail not only once but twice.  Let me explain:

Upon being welcomed into her office, I explained to her that since I didn’t know much about the local Special Olympics, I didn’t really have any interview questions prepared for her.  So she divulged a lot of information to me in detail.  I was amazed at how much was involved with this one organization!  It’s like our entire community backs the Special Olympics, helps out in every aspect, and supports it 100%.  I felt very proud to be a part of this community when I heard all of this, and this article is the very least I can do to show my own personal support, and hopefully to bring other people’s support to the Special Olympics, either in donation or volunteer form.  Like I said, this is a cause very near and dear to my heart.

Once Ms. Brown, was finished telling me about everything involved with this locally, I was in shock.  Then I calmly said: “Could you repeat that for me once I hit the ‘record’ button?”  She kindly obliged.  Here’s what she had to say:

 

Del Dotson:  Okay this week, I’m here with Nancy Brown. She’s going to tell you all a little bit about herself and what she does here at the college and also how she’s affiliated with the Special Olympics, and she’s really just going to take it from here. So here she goes!

Nancy Brown:  Well I’m an Assistant Professor at Virginia Intermont. I teach in the education department, and my specialty is that I make the program for special education teachers. For young people that are going to use special education in their teaching profession. And I help them get into the program that includes their course descriptions, and getting their certification and their endorsement in special ed.

I also teach some psychology with the exception of childrens classes. That goes along with our education program also. Since 1974 I have worked in Special Olympics. And Special Olympics is the sports program for individuals who have intellectual disabilities. It’s really dear to my heart, because it gives all of us an opportunity to provide [sports] programs for those individuals and let them have a successful experience.

I am the coordinator for Area 10’s sports programs which includes all of Southwest Virginia. We’ve got 2 events that are coming up in just a few weeks, actually. March 5th we have our bowling competition at Interstate Lanes. We will have between 70 and 80 athletes that will come in to bowl from all over Southwest Virginia. Our youngest athlete is going to be about 12 to 13, and our oldest one is going to be in their 70’s.

Then in April, we’re going to have our Spring games. We have a Track & Field competition that’s going to be April the 16th. Once again, we’re going to have about 125 athletes from all over Southwest Virginia. They will participate in wheelchair events, they will participate in running events, softball throw, shot-puts, and we will have ages probably 11 through 75. It’s a big day at John Battle [note: a local high-school] because we have a lot of key volunteers that come in to participate and sponsor us. The Knights of Colombus will usually be represented in some form. The Knights of Colombus will help us in our bowling competition. The Veterans of Foreign Wars, the VFW always does the opening ceremonies for our Spring games, and that’s just such a privilege. We have had an athlete do the National Anthem for us for the last 2 or 3 competitions, and that’s just.. it’s a heart-stopper.

Oh, we have some wonderful key volunteers, we have a bunch of colleges that come and help us. Emory & Henry has sent volunteers, King has, my own VI [Virginia Intermont] has. One of my real good friends here on campus actually runs the competition for me. The education department gets involved with us. The photography department here at VI did coverage for us last year. We generally have wonderful media coverage from both WCYB and the Bristol Herald Courier.

We do take donations to run the program. We’re very conscious that we want to run the program for our athletes, so we do take donations that helps pay for state events. We try to make sure that we take our athletes up on Thursday, so they don’t have to travel all day Friday and get really tired. So we do try and raise money so that we can cover a third night of motel bills. Plus covering the rest of the expenses. We usually end up taking between 30 and 40 people to state games. That includes the athletes, coaches, and the volunteers, which is a good group. We try to take the athletes who have done everything that they have needed to do to train and get ready for state games. We want to make sure that we take athletes whose parents are comfortable with letting us take them away for 3 nights. We make sure that they, themselves are comfortable with being gone. We like to take athletes who have trained, and trained hard for what they’re doing.

DD: Right.

NB: This is something… We don’t take this lightly! It’s not something that we just throw out there. We really take this very strongly, it’s something that means a lot to all of the people involved. Because we know that our people can succeed, we just have to be there to give them the opportunity.

DD: That’s awesome. And can you.. I mean you mentioned a little bit before [Read: before I started recording the interview.] about the history of the Special Olympics here in Bristol.

NB: Yes. Now we had started, I think in 1974, we had a wonderful special ed teacher here by the name of Ruth Thrash, and a special ed director by the name of Calvin Durting, who saw the need for this to begin here. I was a young teacher, and they let my young legs take care of them. They’re the ones that really got us off to a beginning, and we just held it in place. All of us became involved with Ms. Thrash and Mr. Durting, and they built a strong core, and after all these years we’ve still got a strong core. We’ve got a family here by the name of Jim & Anna Combs, who have been involved as long as I’ve been involved.

DD: Wow.

NB: They started out with me in ’74, and ’75 and they’ve always been there. They go to the state games most of the time and we have got other people that have been involved now for about 20-25 years. We’ve got a lady in Big Stone Gap, her name is Joyce Gilbert who has been involved a loong time. And she brings a strong support group with her from Big Stone Gap. And that’s the neat thing about what you’re doing.. is that these blogs and things that you do, they see them over there where they are.

DD: Right. [I felt really humbled by Ms. Brown telling me this]

NB: And, when you mention certain names like Ms. Gilbert, Darlene Dean in Smith County, there’s a group from Crossroads Point that’s got a really strong coordinator, her name is Melanie. You’ve got a lady by the name of Deb Greene, who’s very strong in Wise County, and you’ve got people in Tazwell.

DD: I think I’ve met Deb Greene, I’ve spent some time out at Uva Wise.

NB: Oh, do you?

DD: Yeah, small world.

NB: She brings her athletes, I think at Uva Wise.

DD: I think so, I think you’re right.

NB: And Deb, she is just a great, great lady. Her church is a big support group, I forgot what the name of it is. They’ve been a big support group, and you’ve got people like Virginia Goodson, you may have heard of Ms. Goodson…

DD: It sounds familiar.

NB: She’s on City Council, no not City Council, on the School Board here. I think she came off last year, but she’s been a big support system for this group. Abingdon Civitan with Ms. Lee Price, I mean there’s just… I go down through and I think about all the people [involved].. You probably know this family, the Campbell family.

DD: That’s ringing a bell, but I can’t place them.

NB: Bill [Campbell] was over the City Bus system for years. Bill and his sister JoAnne, they were the ones that bowling program so strong here in Bristol. You know? When you start looking at it, these people that are involved with us, they’re not fly-by-night people, okay? They’ve become a part of us. Year after year they come back. It’s not like they volunteer one year and then they’re gone. You’ve got Jack Wisenberger who has been involved with us now for a number of years through the Knights of Colombus. That group.. They’re just wonderful people! And without them, I honestly, I probably would have given up a long time ago.

DD: They just make everything so easy?

NB: They do! I almost feel guilty when I’m the one that’s interviewed. It makes me feel so humbled because I know I’m representing them.

DD: Of course.

NB: And without them.. it’s just a big team, we all work together.

DD: Yeah, and like I’ve said before, I didn’t really know anything about all this stuff. And just you mentioning all of those names, and telling me about all of these organizations that support this so strongly, it’s just… it makes it seem like it’s a whole lot bigger to me now, than 10 minutes ago when I came into your office.

NB: Well, what’s so great about it for me as a person is.. I moved here to Bristol in 1969. I’m a farm girl from Middleton. And I love this area because this area gives to it’s people.

DD: Yes.

NB: I came here as a young teacher, and here I am now the old.. OLD teacher. Haha, I don’t like to admit it, but I am! And people still are there for me. I’ve got people that volunteer for us, and with us, year after year after year. I had a group to call me, the Moose Lodge, from Abingdon, called me last week. They chased me down from last week about helping us. It just thrilled me to death because I know organizations have hurt for money the last 2 or 3 years. NHC called me and said they would like to get involved. Well you know, these are groups that, I know a lot of these people but I’ve just never been involved with them over stuff like this. To have those and the other organizations that have backed us, it’s just been a blessing. That’s all I can say is it’s just been a blessing.

DD: It sounds like it!

NB: They call and.. there’s some people that call and say “Don’t. Forget. To call us. You’re getting ready to have Spring games…” I can’t say enough for the people that are involved. This is not an organization that… you don’t get burnt out. I don’t know what it is.

DD: I know what you mean.

NB: I have got athletes that are in their 50’s and 60’s now, that started out as young kids with me.

DD: Wow.

NB: And this young man that’s in this wheelchair [Ms. Brown has a poster of a past special olympics event hanging up by her desk, she pointed to it]… I started out working with him when he could walk and run just like you and I. And he was not much bigger… I could pick him up and throw him over my shoulder.

DD: See, that’s incredible.

NB: And to watch him today, and still, I can maybe not even see him for years and walk in to where they’re training, and they’ll holler at me and say: “HOW YOU DOIN’ MS. BROWN?!” You realize, Yes(!), you’ve made an impact on their lives because they still remember your name.

DD: Exactly.

NB: I do.. It’s in my blood, and I’ll probably stay in it until the day I die.

DD: That’s inspiring. Well God bless you. I know if it weren’t for people like you, and the people you’ve mentioned, none of this stuff would be possible.

NB: that’s true.

DD: I’ve worked with people with disabilities before, I’ve been fortunate enough to do that and it is, it’s really rewarding. It’s more rewarding than just giving money to a charity, or donating clothes to the Salvation Army, or something like that. You develop a really special bond, and it’s one of the quickest ways to see rewards, and it makes them feel worthwhile. And it makes us feel worthwhile.

NB: It does, and you know, there’s a lot of things that I think you see that they really get out of it. It’s that they are just so appreciative.

DD: Yeah.

NB: Whatever you do, OUR Special Olympians, and they’re representative of all individuals with intellectual disabilities, they do appreciate.

DD: Yes.

NB: And they let you know. They have a warmth about them. I know that the Kennedy family established this because of their sister Rosemary, I know that’s when they saw the need. But they stuck with it. I remember last year, when I was introduced to Timothy Shriver, who I guess is now the President/CEO, of Special Olympics, because I think he took over for his dad Sarge & Mrs. Shriver, and I looked at him and I thought of how humbled he seemed to be as a young man following in their footsteps. I’ve had an occasion with my involvement in Special Olympics to be around some of the Kennedy family in the Special Olympics arena. Never with the politics and things that they have been into, but they have been to games and things where I have been, and that was the impression that I got of all of them. That they were genuine, and they did love that aspect of their lives.

DD: Yeah. And they were sincere about it?

NB: They were sincere about it. That’s what I read out of him [Mr. Shriver], just like the rest of them. I remember the first time, I guess it was, that I ever saw part of that family was at an international game in New York. And then, here all these years later I see him and it’s just like you’re looking in the face of where you looked at them 30 years ago. Good feeling. Good feeling.

DD: Oh man. Well, I think that about covers everything

NB: Okay.

DD: Thank you very much for your time!

NB: I’m glad you came by!

 

I’m really glad I got to interview Nancy.  After typing all of that up, I really don’t think there’s anything I can say that could sum any of that up, or even supplement it.  I personally thank everyone involved with this cause and anyone who donates money to the people at the Special Olympics.  I think it’s good ot end on that note, and with this:

If you’d like to donate to the local Special Olympics here’s the information:

Area 10 Special Olympics

C/O Nancy Brown

35 Timber Ridge Rd.

Bristol, VA  24201

I really urge anyone to donate, because there’s a world of people that are going to benefit from it.

I hope I was able to get people more involved!

The Jester.

The Outback Chronicles: Part 4

Posted in Alcohol Involved, Bad employment, Downtown Bristol, Local, Modern, Outback Steakhouse, Terrible work on February 24, 2011 by Divide By Zero

This time in my little OS-Lounge mini-saga, I’m going to tell you about the time that guy that got fired for drinking at work in the dish pit.

Let me set the “dish pit” up a little bit first.  I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I haven’t done it justice.  It’s hard to communicate with the other people in the kitchen, it’s hard to see who’s walking by, and more or less, it was like a dungeon.  I guess it really wasn’t that bad, but that’s how you feel about your little corner of hell after a million 13 hour shifts.

It was so weird working in that stuffy little corner that… check this out:

One kid about 19 years old or so, we’ll call him Dusty.  He worked there for about 3 weeks, and then one day while he was on break, he went outside to call someone back who had called his cell earlier in the day.  After his break, he came back in and said “I think I have to go to jail.”  He told Ted about it, and cleared it with everyone he needed to and left.  His story didn’t add up, and no one ever saw him again.  That’s right, the dude faked a jail sentence in order to get out of working there.   It makes more sense now that I said it like that.

Back to the story at hand though; the person who trained the guy with the jail situation, we’ll call him Bruce, was not very professional at all.  He showed up to work every day hungover or buzzed.  Either way, he had the stench of alcohol all over him most of the time.  Granted, most of the kitchen staff was like that too, but they got their job done.  They also didn’t empty their paycheck out at the gas station and liquor store every week, either.  He was borderline, if not a full blown alcoholic.  And he was in charge of training most of the new dishwashers.

Before too long, he had trained one of the busboys’ brothers, and they were in the dish pit together most nights for the next few months.  At least until one fateful night, when everything Bruce was doing outside of work came to a boil at work and exploded all over his face.

The busboys brother, we’re going to call Scruffy.  He had a perpetual 5 o’clock shadow, and that’s the first word that came to my mind. And it’s my story, so I can name him whatever I want.

Anyways, one night, Bruce came in with 2 water bottles.  Not just the standard 12 oz. size water bottle that most people carry.  It was the big, I don’t know, 28 or 32 ounce bottles.  However you want to slice it, those 2 bottles were big enough to hold a fifth of vodka.  And back when I knew him, Bruce drank cheap, cheap vodka.  The kind of cheap vodka that should have eaten straight through anything plastic.  It was gross.

He brought in 2 bottles because he didn’t want to drink alone, so one bottle was for Scruffy, and the other was for Bruce.  I could kind of see the thought process behind Bruce’s thinking, because the dish guys were so disconnected from everyone else, he figured no one would really notice that he was tying one on, while he was on the clock.  Also I think his biggest problem was that he planned on his share of the vodka lasting his entire 10 hour shift.  When in all actuality it lasted about 2 hours before it was gone.. and I don’t think Bruce ever ate anything before he clocked in.

So one sip of the vodka led to another.  Then one broken plate led to another.  Then one fall led to another.  Larry ended up stepping in when Bruce was taking forever and a day to load dishes onto a tray, and push them through the dishwasher.  Scruffy told me later that he could have smoked an entire cigarette in between each one of the trays that came out of the dishwasher.  For anyone who hasn’t worked a commercial dishwasher, you can usually push about 40 trays through the machine in one minute.  Needless to say it’s super slow when you’re only pushing 1 through every 7 minutes.  Poor Bruce.

To this day I don’t know if Larry stepped in because he didn’t want Bruce to get in trouble, of because Ted & the management told him to.  Larry made Bruce sit on a milk crate in the corner for a bit, to see if he would be able to sober up quickly.  I think that if Bruce would have done as he was told – which was sit and stay like a good boy – he may have been alright, and been able to finish his shift without any help from Larry.  BUT.. as drunk people are prone to not listening to what other people tell them to do, Bruce kept trying to stand up.  He’d fall, then he’d break more dishes.

So Scruffy took it upon himself to take Bruce to the employee bathrooms in the back of the restaurant.  Scruffy basically had to carry Bruce all the way to the bathroom, and sit him down on one of the 5 gallon buckets that littered the floor of the employee bathrooms.  He wanted to keep Bruce there so he could smoke, and also to keep him away from any and all management that happened to be there that night.  Bruce passed out on that 5 gallon bucket, only to wake up 20 minutes later.  Determined as all get out, he tried to work again.  He fell again.  Now the management really knew about what was going on with him and was fed up enough with it (and rightfully so), so Bruce got sent out of the building, so he wouldn’t hurt himself or anyone else.

He was instructed not to drive home.  And before long, he was gone.. so was his car.  We all thought that he drove himself home, and everyone immediately got pissed because he drove home drunk.  Not.  Ever.  Cool.  We all found out later though that he had some people pick him up and take his car back to his house.  Bruce was a good guy, so I believe it.

Some hours later (that same night), Bruce’s mom called the restaurant.  She proceeded to yell at Ted, and then again at Larry.  I don’t know, nor can I imagine what was said over the phone, but I know the guys in the BOH passed the phone around and let Bruce’s mom yell at one another for a while.  The phone finally ended up in the hands of the head waiter/host (I’m not really sure what his official title was), but his name was Kyle.  It’s against any restaurants policy to give out information on their workers, so Kyle wouldn’t answer any of Bruce’s mom’s questions.  I can’t imagine how mad she got after that.

After that happened, Larry smoothed everything over with Bruce’s mom.  He at least got her to hang up the phone.  He went back to work along-side Ted, and Ted was so fed up with the whole situation that he fired Bruce.  It was kind of hasty, but it had to be done.

The next morning, the owner’s husband, Houston, calls Bruce and tells him to “get his ass back to work, no matter how bad his hangover was.”

Everyone goes through hard times, sure.  And I think everyone deserves to be forgiven at work once for something really bad like what happened that night.  They forgave Bruce for that night, and he didn’t let it happen again [that anyone knew of, anyway].

A few months later, the owner came back to work after a period of leave.  Bruce showed up one day on his day off to check the schedule while he was wearing an Outback work shirt.  The owner smelled booze on Bruce (which was typical for him).  After he left, she had a meeting with the other managers and anyone who was connected to the situation.  I don’t know what was said but I know that they either called him that same day, or the next morning to fire him for real.  To my understanding, he has never been back to the OS-Lounge since.

It’s weird how peoples’ moods change and the past is brought back around full circle.  In my opinion Bruce should have been terminated the night he got plastered at work.  That’s what he deserved.  And in any other job he would have been.  But since he worked in a restaurant.. C’est la vie.

See you by table 7.

The Jester.

Another “Things You Learn When…”

Posted in 2000's, Downtown Bristol, Family, Gourmet, Grocery Stores, Local, Modern on February 17, 2011 by Divide By Zero

A lot of the things I do for money are part-time.  One of those jobs is working in the seafood department of a grocery store.  There are a lot of things you pick up that they don’t tell you in orientation.  As with any job, some of the things you learn are good to know, and will help you become a better salesperson because you’re getting to know your customer base.  Other things you learn are completely useless.  Here are some of those things:

Things you learn while working in a grocery store in Southwest Virginia:

  • Old people shop between 7am and 9pm.
  • You [obviously] sell more seafood and milk [for some reason] during Lent than any other time of the year.  Aside from Christmas.
  • In this part of the country when you’re nice to a customer, (shockingly!) they are nice to you back.
  • A lot of people prefer “krab meat” as opposed to crab meat.  For those that don’t work in a seafood department, when “crab” is spelled with a “k”, that means it’s imitation.  And the  customers will argue with you when you tell them “it’s actually a fish”.
  • I think there may be a mathematical relationship between a persons favorite NASCAR driver, and what kind of fish they buy most often.
  • Some people want to complain because they are bitter people.  EXAMPLE 1:  There is a brand of egg rolls called “Chung’s” it’s made in the U.S.A. and distributed in the Mid-West.  There are customers that won’t buy it because they think it’s from China, and won’t change their mind.  Example 2:  People will complain about the price of salmon (or   whatever fish they want) going up and up and up!  Even if it has been the same for months on end.
  • There are customers out there that actually try to hurt employees feelings/make it their fault that they don’t like a particular type of fish.
  • It doesn’t matter how good or bad your uniform looks–how subtle or flamboyant it is–people will still ask “Do you work here?” before they ask you the question they want to ask.
  • A lot of customers come in regularly because let’s face it, people need groceries a lot.  Some of them are good, and a pleasure to talk to, and you remember them.  There are also some customers that are a pain in the ass.  You remember them too.
  • People will come up to you and ask where something is, and get upset when you don’t know.
  • You might be buying shrimp and imitation krab meat, but chances are you’re paying the all shrimp price.
  • There are more kinds of paper towels than you can imagine.
  • For grocery store employees, there is one size extension cord they can use should they need it.  It’s 150 feet.  It doesn’t matter if you need it for 8 inches, you get 150 feet.
  • Customers who have their hair dyed radical colors (blue, purple, green, etc.) are generally more fun and interesting to talk to.
  • Pepsi delivery men seem to be happier, and more cooperative than their Coca-Cola counterparts.
  • Men with mustaches generally shop later than everyone else.  The bigger/longer the mustache, the later they shop!
  • After about 10:30pm, just about any and every teenager in the store is inebriated in some way, shape, or form.
  • [This is the way it should be everywhere] At a grocery store, if you’re on time, you’re late.  If you’re early, you’re on time.
  • Little kids don’t care where they vomit, or who is watching them.
  • The amount of catfish a grocery store sells is directly related to how far south of the Mason-Dixon line that particular store is located.
  • Apparently craw fish are the same deal, and they are sold in “even 17.5 lb. bags.”
  • After a few days, you can tell what people do for a living by what kind of clothes they wear [e.g. painter, drywaller, manager, computer programmer]
  • In that same vein, there is no shame in wearing a tool belt to go grocery shopping.
  • If you work in an older building almost none of your freezer/cooler case thermometers work.  Always trust your temperature gun!
  • Also, if you work in an older building, you won’t have hot water after about 6:00 pm.  It doesn’t matter if you close your department at 9.
  • Male employees are supposed to shave every day.  No matter what the customer base  looks like.
  • None of the clocks, not even your cell phone, are right.  None of them except the time clock.
  • Working with seafood, it’s possible to burn yourself at the exact moment you cut yourself.
  • Two things parents should never be allowed to do:
  1. Buy their annoying 4 year old kid a harmonica.
  2. Let that kid run around a grocery store unsupervised with said harmonica.
  • For grocery store employees:  Every customer thinks that every employee knows where every item on every shelf is.  No matter what department you work in.
  • People get their food stamps at midnight on the first of the month.  Grocery stores know this and stay open until 2am on those days, because by 11:50pm [read: 10 minutes before they get their stamps] they are loading up their carts to spend all of their food stamps by 12:15am.
  • On Saturdays, tweens/teens buy out all solo cups and tang.
  • It’s estimated that 83% of all grocery store employees are part-time.
  • There is more drama between grocery store employees than there was in my middle school.
  • One good thing about working in a meat/seafood department is that it’s like working in a restaurant, without ever hitting a dinner rush.
  • I would be willing to bet good money that at least 90% of all the customers that ask a minimum of 15 questions to a clerk–walk away without buying the product at the end of their questionnaire.
  • I would also bet that at least half of all people who partake in free samples, wait until the employee giving them out turns their back , so they can take more without the employee noticing.  Why?  I don’t know.
  • There’s always one customer that comes around about once or twice a month just to poke their finger through anything shrink wrapped.
  • Cleanliness really is next to Godliness.
  • Common sense is next to impossible to find.

That’s about it.  That’s what I’ve learned in my few short months of working at a grocery store.  I don’t know if it’s the same all over the country, but that’s how it goes down here.  For better or for worse, that’s how it goes down here.

See you from behind the counter.

The jester.

The Funniest Man in America

Posted in Downtown Bristol, Family, Jeremy Dotson, Local, Stand Up Comedy with tags on February 7, 2011 by Divide By Zero

This past Friday, I was fortunate enough to attend a performance held by Mr. James Gregory.. the self-proclaimed, and widely agreed with.. funniest man in America.  It was held at the beautiful and prestigious Paramount theatre.  Let me be the first to tell you, he did not disappoint.

Before I tell you the story about Friday night, I want to tell you another story to make this hit a little closer to home:

When I was growing up in Northern Virginia with my father, a true Good Ole Boy, my sister gave my daddy a cassette tape of James Gregory.  After work, if no one else was home, he loved to listen to that tape.  He would sit at the kitchen table and listen to it… I honestly couldn’t tell you how many times.  Enough times that my 9 year old brain would have it memorized in just a few months.

That was also right around the time that I was teaching myself to imitate voices.  Back in my hay day, my whole voice repertoire consisted of Bugs Bunny, Sylvester, Ace Ventura, this Chinese guy that worked at the 7-11 closest to my house, and James Gregory.  I used to be able to imitate his voice fairly well.

Some of my fondest childhood memories revolved around the hilarious wisdom recorded on that tape.  My mother, bless her heart, almost without exception worked nights the whole time she was raising my brother and I.  She would put my brother to bed, tuck him in, and kiss him goodnight.  Then she’d do the same for me.  We’d hear her head downstairs, and the door would shut, the car would start up, and pull out of our little cul de sac.  Not 5 minutes later, my daddy would come get Jeremy and I out of bed, bring us downstairs, and we’d listen to James Gregory until we could no longer keep our eyes open.  And when we were passed out with our heads down on the kitchen table, daddy would throw us both over his shoulders, and throw us back in bed.  We were told to keep it a secret from mom, but she knew.  I knew she knew, but the whole thing was just so fun!  And it was like this big old secret between the “boys of the house”.  It felt good, and it gives me the warm-fuzzies every time I think about it.

Back to the story at hand!  I was walking my puppies down state street about a week and a half before the day I wrote this.  I saw on the marquee at the Paramount that James Gregory would be doing a show, Feb. 4.  How excited did I get?  Well, I didn’t know whether I should cry tears of joy, or pee myself a little bit.  I’m not going to tell you which one happened, but there was some saturation in an unnecessary place.

Jeremy ended up coming into town and we both decided that there was going to be no way in the world we were going to miss this show.  We ended up getting tickets in the second to last row, and didn’t care in the least.

The house was packed.  And that’s saying something for a man who has been doing stand-up comedy for 20 years or more.

The first man to come out was there to introduce Mr. Gregory, and his opener, Mr. Steve Mingola.  He was definitely a great ice-breaker.  He and the entire audience joined in a few big rounds of applause for the workers of the Paramount, the volunteers, the organist, and everyone who made the show possible.  The first funny thing to happen was when he began with the cell phone speech.  You know how it is, they tell you to turn off your cell phones, or at least put them on silent, or something.  He then continued with: “…and if you have a beeper… you really need to get with the times and get a cell phone, then come here for a show and turn it off.”  There was a little slip up though when he followed that up with: “If there’s anyone here from Grundy, Lebanon, or ‘Hay-see [sic]’…”  and before he could go any further, the audience corrected him with a big “IT’S HAYSI!!!” pronounced correctly, of course.  The introducer (and sir if you read this, I apologize right now for not remembering your name), undeterred and unembarassed, finished strong with: “Oh is that how you say it?  Well if you’re from one of those places, the CB-radio check in is in the back corner.”  Already on a roll, and the show hadn’t even started.  Fantastic!

The opener, a Mr. Steve Mingola was pure entertainment.  I have never been to a show, whether it be a comedy act, or play, or concert, or anything where the opener was very good.  But this time, I could not stop laughing!  It was as if he had a direct line to the funny-bone of everyone in the audience.  He talked about himself (an Italian guy) being married to a Southern woman.  Hilarity at its finest.  I’m not going to tell you any of his jokes, because you’d have a better time just going to see him perform, and I don’t want to take away from that.  At one point, I swear to you , I turned to my brother, and could barely keep my eyes open because I was laughing so hard, and Jeremy was wiping tears off of his face.  He was doubled over and could barely breathe.  It was just a good time.  We were halfway through just the opening act, and already I felt as if I underpaid for my ticket.  You are a very funny man Mr. Mingola, and I hope you come back to visit Bristol very, very soon!

I had never seen what James Gregory looked like before this past Friday, so I didn’t know what to expect.  But I tell you what, he did not disappoint anyone.  The tape of him I used to listen to with daddy and Jeremy was given to us somewhere around 1994.  It was probably 5 years old at that time.  And while I was sitting in his audience, and he came out on stage and uttered his first words, I immediately recognized his voice.. it hadn’t changed from what was on daddy’s tape in the least bit.  It made me nostalgic, it made me sentimental, and I couldn’t have been happier.

His performance was phenomenal.  If you’re looking for some of his jokes, you won’t find them here.  Look him up on youtube, he is awesome.  I will tell you though, that he is as comfortable a performer as you will ever find, down here, New York, L.A., anywhere, I don’t care.  He made me feel as if I were sitting in his living room, just shooting the breeze.

Jeremy and I figured on about an hour, more or less for the man himself.. but Ol’ James was on stage for 2 hours and 15 minutes by himself!  And it was joke after joke after joke!  Back to back like that.  There was not too many pauses between bursts of laughter.  I really couldn’t believe the energy, stamina, and persona he had.  It made it one of the best comedy shows I’ve been to (and I’ve been to a few in my short time here on Earth), and it was definitely the most enjoyable.

Mr. Gregory, from the bottom of my heart, and from my family to yours, thank you for stopping by our little piece of America.  Thank you for bringing laughter and joy into our lives, and please come back at your earliest convenience.

To the readers:  Go see his show.  Stop reading my article right now, and book a flight, buy tickets, or whatever you have to do.

I’ll see you at the concession stand.

The Jester.