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The Fisher of Stories



It started innocuously, as a nice Thursday evening dinner at Rib Crib with my family.

Aven challenged me to a game of Tic-Tac-Toe, and I’m here to tell you, he actually beat me one out of four times. The boy beat me.

This was essentially the look I gave him after he won.

He looked up at me and said, “You let me win that one, didn’t you dad?”

Faced with a crossroad, I decided to actually tell him the truth, in hopes that it would encourage him to feel better about himself, and let him know he’s capable of doing great things if he tries.
Then I beat the brakes off him in the last game.
Just because I want him to do great things doesn’t mean I want to lose.
For those that don’t know, I’m practically deaf in one ear, and I really can’t hear out of the other. Although I’ve had my hearing tested, and the doctor said it really wasn’t that bad, I still think it’s terrible.
So you can imagine my surprise when I started overhearing a conversation at the table just in front of me.
And then you can imagine my surprise when I started hearing this guy use every curse word I’ve ever been privileged to know while discussing the television show “Duck Dynasty” with his family.

I’ve never watched the show, but with wisdom like this dripping from the mouths of the cast, I might have to.

You might even be able to imagine my surprise when I saw that his family consisted of a little girl around 10 years of age.

My friends, I do try not to be a hypocrite.

I have used curse words in the past.
Hell, I use them now (sometimes).
But what I don’t do, EVER, is use them in front of my children.
Now listen. If that’s your thing, or if you’ve accidentally let the F-bomb slip in front of your 5 year old, I’m not judging you. I’m absolutely positive that if a situation called for it, and my carefully placed “kid-filter” wasn’t firmly situated, then I’d change my rules on cursing in front of children in an instant.
But I don’t go to Rib Crib on a Thursday night and talk about an insanely popular TV show sprinkling the conversation with profanity as one might sprinkle salt on their catfish dinner.
As die-hard readers of this blog, or die-hard fans of my stories will know, I do not like confrontations. However, having children has somewhat changed that.
While being mildly offended myself, I recognized that our kids weren’t listening to the man at all. They were engrossed in their corn dogs and grilled cheese, blocking out all ambient noise, and the boy was busy kicking me in the leg thinking it belonged to the table.
I decided to withhold a confrontation about the language until after my wife and kids left the table. I told The Missus what I was going to do, and I sent them on their way.
I got up, my mind racing with possibilities.
I walked over slowly, my body going cold, anticipating the man’s movements, trying to ascertain how aggressive he might be, and how he was going to react.
I was, to put it bluntly, scared to death.
I approached the table and smiled. I looked at the man and said, “Sir, I apologize for interrupting, but the language you’re using is absolutely terrible, and there are kids all around.”
He glared at me.
“Well, I have the right to free speech. So why don’t you f*ck off.”
My temper flared.
“Yes sir, and I have the ability to take that right away from you if I have to.”
He caught my meaning, and unfortunately, he called my bluff.
He rose from the table at a Rib Crib on a Thursday night, cocked his fist, and hit me square in the jaw, knocking me out…
…I got up, my mind racing with possibilities.
I walked over slowly, my body going cold, anticipating the man’s movements, trying to ascertain how aggressive he might be, and how he was going to react.
I was, to put it bluntly, scared to death.
I approached the table and smiled. I looked at the man and said, “Sir, I apologize for interrupting, but the language you’re using is absolutely terrible, and there are kids all around.”
And, in the most surprising twist of all, the man looked up at me with actual shame in his eyes.
“Sir, I apologize for that. I’m very sorry.”
I smiled, thanked him, and walked out the door.
It turns out, standing up to myself is a lot harder than standing up to others. Hopefully I remember that next time.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” – James Neil Hollingworth

The morning was fair, and redolent of promise. It carried with it the hopes of a new day, not yet crushed by entering the building where I work. There was joy, there was laughter, and there was good music on the iPod. The day would eventually bring great things – incredible things, actually – but they hadn’t become a reality at this point.

I pulled into the parking lot, and I watched as a woman attempted to swing a minivan into a parking spot that was lined up for a car coming a different direction. When she was finished with her fantastic parking job, this is what it looked like.

Navigating a Toyota minivan is tough.

As you can see, the spot directly next to her is virtually impossible to fill, unless you drive a Prius, or a motorbike, or you roller skate to work. And that just so happened to be the spot that I was lining up to get into. You see, I was going to be parking appropriately, not trying to go against the grain.
I stopped, and I watched as her reverse lights came on.
“Oh! She’s realized the error of her ways, and she’s going to correct it,” I thought. “What a wonderfully nice woman. She is truly one of the people that make our society a great place to live. I shall wait for her.”
Then the reverse lights shut off with no further movement from the vehicle.
“Surely she will see the error of her ways, and surely she’ll see me waiting for the parking spot and fix this egregious error shortly.”
A few minutes passed, me still waiting, her still parked incorrectly, and so I gave a polite “Hey, I know this sounds douchey, but you’re parked like a jackass and I’m a bit late for work so if you could just nip on over and take care of this mockery you call a parking job, we’ll all be fine” honk on the horn.
Nothing. No response.
And still I waited, contemplating my next move. Would I have to have an honest to God face-to-face confrontation? And then I decided, I would exit my vehicle and politely explain to the woman the error of her parking ways.
“But Travis,” you might be asking. “Weren’t there like, eighty-two other parking spots besides the one you wanted?”
The answer to that is a not so simple yes. You see, there were other parking spots. But the point is, this lady needed to be taught a lesson, and it had been ordained and handed down by a higher power that I was to be the one to teach it.
As I got out of the truck, I saw a man exit our building and head towards the vehicle in question.
“Oh! Thank God, he’s getting in, and they’ll leave, and all confrontations will be avoided.”
You see, I’m still a pantywaist, in even the most minor of situations. Just call me Sam Tarly.
The gentleman got in the vehicle, and…
…it just sat there.
And sat there.
And sat there.
I waited another good five minutes before I worked up another set of balls courage to go over there and ask the woman to move so I could park. At this point, I’m about fifteen minutes late for work, and something had to give.
So I got out, walked over, and explained the situation to her. She was not at all polite in her reply.
“You know what, go park somewhere else. There are eighty-two other parking spots. Go use one of those.”
“Yes ma’am,” I retorted. “But what you’ve done is actually narrowed it down to eighty-one, and it just so happens I was waiting to claim the one next to you.”
Then she laughed in my face.
Oh snap.
I walked into the office to figure out what my options were. Turns out, I had no options. So I announced to the entire office that I would be in a stand-off in the parking lot if they needed me, and I returned to my vehicle, ready to stay this out for the long haul. In the meantime, I tried about six different times to call a supervisor to apprise them of the situation, and couldn’t reach any of them.
So I sat there, and I waited.
I really wish this story had a more dramatic conclusion, but in reality it ends with me giving up after thirty minutes, taking a bunch of pictures of their vehicle to try and see if I could get her fired from whatever job she had, the dude in her van taking pictures of me taking pictures, her calling me a “f***ing idiot,” and both my supervisors making a trip down to my office to make sure I was “calmed down” and to write me up.
That’s right, I got a write up.
I won’t get into the details, but apparently the situation could have been handled differently. Who knew?
In the Game of Parking, you win…or you get wrote up.

My Photoshop skills are really developing nicely.