“Mom, when is dad coming home?”
Those are the first words I remember coming out of my baby brother’s mouth. I’m sure if I took a minute and really focused, I could come up with something else, but that’s what I remember.
Our dad had been dead only a few hours when he asked that question. ***
|Four of a kind: Sloats.|
I’ll never forget letting him drive my car for the first time. I’ve blogged about it before, but I can condense it here for those who haven’t heard the story.
Josh could not have been more than 10 years old. I needed to move my car a few feet from the driveway to the patio to do something stupid to it, like add subwoofers or crappy undercarriage lights.
Josh wanted to drive. I thought, “eh, what’s the worst that could happen?” and I let him hop behind the wheel, scoot the seat up, and give it a go. The car rolled a few inches then caught the lip of the patio and wouldn’t move.
“Alright, Josh. I want you to reach down and just tap, just TAP the gas. You understand?” “Yeah!”
He floored it.
The car jumped over the lip, hit a picnic table we had on the patio, shoved it off and directly to our pool, which it would have destroyed had I not jumped into the car and mashed the brakes with my hand.
Josh looked at me, eyes wide, breathing hard, not scared at all.
“THAT. WAS. AWESOME!”
He called me one night about six months ago.
“Travis, I’m going to join the Marines.”
I laughed at him.
“No you’re not, it’s not that bad at home.”
To tell the truth, I was kind of upset with him. For those of you who aren’t intimately connected with my family history, my dad had three brothers, just like me. Out of those four boys, one died at the age of 9, the other at the age of 20, and my dad at the age of 40.
Four brothers. Now one. The oldest is still alive. I am also the oldest.
I am absolutely petrified of losing one of my brothers. One of my biggest requests to the Lord is that He’d take me home first, to spare me the pain of losing any more of my family. I am scared to death at the thought of one of them dying before me.
As for military service, I’ve always supported it, but never really seriously considered any one of my brothers joining. Brad talked about it some, but never did. Jordan and I never really even considered it. It’s one of those things where you think “Oh, that’s fine for other people, but not for us.”
Well, it turns out Josh was serious. All three of us tried to talk him out of it. We insulted him, laughed at him, and told him how the Marines would eat his lunch. He’s a small town kid from Okay, Oklahoma. He wouldn’t know anyone. He has authority issues. People would stick bars of soap in pillow cases and make him their girlfriend.
We probably overdid it.
But he joined up. Then he left us for three months so he could go to boot camp.
He wrote the family a letter the other day, his last one before graduation from boot camp in San Diego.
Jordan tried to read it.
It took Brad, faithful, strong, dependent Brad to read it.
“I got my Sloat name bar the other day. I think dad would be proud of me.”
I can’t even fully comprehend how proud our dad would be of you, Josh. I’m proud of you. Mom is proud of you. Aven and Akeeli are proud of. EVERYONE here is proud of you.
Tomorrow I’m going to wake up and head to my mom’s house, where I’ll meet Jordan, my mom, and Josh’s girlfriend Miesha. We are going to get in a van and drive 24 hours to San Diego. The Missus will fly out on Wednesday evening, and we’ll all be watching Josh walk across the stage and become a Marine.
I’ll cry. It’s what I do.
I’m going to post a few more things about Josh this week. Give him a blog dedication of sorts. I think he deserves it. Truthfully, all of my brothers deserve it. We are Sloats.
|The night before he left. I’m praying they didn’t take his sense of humor.|
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.
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.|
“When you get there,” said The Missus, “and you’re looking at the ocean, it doesn’t matter how bad of a trip you had. You just feel peace. Everything just melts away.”
Reagan chimed in next.
“You mean like the turnpike?”
Everyone laughed, but I was the only one who felt a small twinge in my brain, reminding me just how close I’d come to the edges of my sanity after a fourteen hour road trip and a road that wasn’t there…
A long time ago, I had a thing. That thing? It was called “Memoir Monday,” and it was huge. It was my baby, and I let it die when I took a blogging break. I’m not saying my baby has come back to life, but I thought I’d give it a bit of the ol’ CPR and see what happens. I’ll make a new button later. For now, enjoy this memoir, and maybe think of your own, for the time may come where I’m asking for link ups again.
The story really should start with Voxer. I’m sure some of you have heard of this app. Basically, it’s a walkie talkie that enables PTT (push to talk) on your iOS or Android device. You select a friend or group of friends, hit the button, and boom, you’re talking with them.
So when I suggested to the families going with us on our vacation that we should be using walkie talkies to communicate instead of cell phones, this is what was suggested.
“Travis, just download Voxer. It’ll work great. We don’t have the money for walkie talkies.”
Now I’ve been avoiding the Voxer for one very good reason. I hate talking to people on my phone. I hate phone calls. Text me, email me, Facebook me, Twitter me (heh), but DO NOT call me. I simply hate your voice. It’s not just you though, it’s everyone. Call it a quirk, whatever.
So I download Voxer, thinking, “Alright, I’ll get it for the trip, and then delete it, and no one will know.”
I could not have been more wrong. Fifteen seconds after I download it, my phone chirps at me.
“So and so is now voxing at you!”
|That’s how I looked at my phone when that happened.|
Then I get another Vox. Then another. Turns out, eighteen million folks got a notification when I downloaded the app. So, thanks Voxer, I see privacy is really high up on your priority list.
After finally getting everyone to shut up and leave me alone, it was time to head out on vacation.
Fourteen hours and six thousand Voxer beeps later, we get to Florida.
It wasn’t all bad. At one point, we had this idiot from Georgia that thought she’d tuck in with our convoy and use us as cop protection, and we used Voxer to communicate how to get her top speed down to about six miles an hour. That was fun.
It also came in handy for bathroom breaks, pit stops, lunch plans, etc.
But as we drove into Florida, things sort of hit a breaking point for me.
Our GPS told us to take a turn to go get the keys for the condo. This was a turn no one else was making, but it was our GPS, so we trusted it.
We drove about two miles in the COMPLETE WRONG DIRECTION before our GPS said, “Oh, that’s my bad, you’re going the wrong way, make a legal u-turn and let’s go get those keys.”
Meanwhile, my Voxer is making more noise than two cats making the sweet, sweet love under your windowsill on an otherwise completely calm night.
I was occupied with the driving task, so I was ignoring it. Then I was mad because our GPS is dumber than a bag of wet hammers, and so I was ignoring it.
At this point, I still trusted my GPS. I was mad at it, but hey, I get mad at The Missus, and I still trust her, right?
So when our GPS told us to take a turn to get on the turnpike, I did it without asking any questions whatsoever. I was slightly pissed about spending five bucks to cross a friggin’ bridge, but I was ready to get to our destination.
About that time, the Voxer set a new record for most Voxers in a second. My phone was chirping like a bird with a squirrel in its nest.
I made a final turn to get on the turnpike…and the road was gone.
There wasn’t a road.
My GPS, God love her, was saying, “Hey man, just go straight. You’re so close. I can feel this road. Just two seconds further, we’re there.”
The road wasn’t there.
The Voxer, at this point, had burned through about sixty-five percent of my battery just with the noises it was making.
Folks, I’m sorry to say, I lost it.
I opened my eyes slowly, I looked at my wife, and I said, “How big is that sidewalk?”
“Travis…you’re going to tear my car up…”
I reached down, grabbed my phone, and turned it off. I pulled slowly back onto the road, and I found the turnpike.
The Missus picked up her phone.
“Umm…hey. Yeah, guys? Travis is really, really mad right now. He has his phone turned off. If y’all need something, can you just call me? That’d be a lot better right now. We’ll be there in a few minutes.”
As I rolled to a stop at the turnpike toll booth, I looked politely up at the gentleman who took my money and asked, “Hey man, how many people do you have a day come through here that are pissed about that road that doesn’t exist?”
He replied, “I can’t even count, man.”
I stared at him for a couple more seconds, honestly contemplating how much trouble I’d get in for dragging him from that booth, and beating him mercilessly to the rhythmic beeping of Voxer while screaming, “MAKE A SIGN! MAKE A $#$#*$#&()%$# SIGN!” And then I drove off.
We finally pulled up, an hour later, keys to the condo in hand. I looked at everyone and addressed the situation.
“If y’all will give me till tomorrow without talking about this, I’ll be fine. I just need to calm down and see the ocean.”
Everyone quietly looked at me and nodded their heads.
Then Reagan. Dear, sweet, Reagan…looks at me with a straight face and says,
“Was it the turnpike?”
And it turns out, all of them had done the exact same thing, and all those Voxers were them trying to tell me not to take that road, because it was the road…the road that doesn’t exist.
I still have Voxer on my phone, but I probably won’t talk to you on it unless you have a foreign accent or you’re a celebrity. I keep meaning to delete it, but I’ve never gotten around to it. Seriously though, just text me.
A while back, Johnny Virgil (my blog hero) posted a blog about having to choose who he should get behind at an intersection. It’s a choice we’ve all had to make at some time or another, one with an immediate consequence if you pick wrong: you don’t get to accelerate near as fast as you want to.
Before I launch into my story, I’d like you to know something about me. If I have a 50/50 chance at doing something correctly, I will inevitably pick the wrong thing. Allow me to elaborate. A USB flash drive has one way it can go in a computer. I have NEVER put it in the right way the first time. I always have to flip it over, sometimes more than once. Go ahead, make any sexual themed jokes in the comments below. It’s the same way with docking my iPad 2 or iPod. If it’s plugging something in, I never line the big plug up right the first time, I have to flip it. If I have to guess at True/False, I’ll without exception choose the wrong one. Please don’t ask me to help you choose between two tough decisions, because I will undoubtedly choose the one that will ensure your life will end in misery and a long, painful, slow death.
Now, back to yesterday, and the situation I found myself in. I was in a hurry, as usual, and I came up to an intersection with a vehicle in each lane, so I had to pick who I wanted to get behind. In the first lane, there was a mid 2000’s Ford Mustang GT convertible. In the other lane…a big, boxy mail truck. As in a diesel truck with a big box on top. It’s been my experience that Mustangs and mail trucks don’t accelerate in the same fashion ever. So the choice wasn’t even a choice, really. I settled in behind the car that belong to the mid-50’s, slightly windblown couple sitting in it and waited for the green. The light turned green, and I goosed the gas in anticipation of a 0-45 time that would be in the under 5 second category. Then I IMMEDIATELY stomped on the brakes, having almost driven over the top of the shiny white sports car. Turns out, Mr. Mid-Life GT Mustang Crisis had decided today was the day he was going to save his $4 a gallon gas. He took off not as if there was an egg under the gas pedal, but a human embryo.
|In the battle of Mass * Force = Acceleration, the winner will be the one I don’t pick. Eat your heart out, Newton|
Needless to say, I yelled at him.
Oh yeah, and the mail truck? I’ve never seen a mail truck accelerate so fast before in all my days. I don’t know if it had a turbo on it, maybe a cold air intake, or maybe he’d put one of those chips in there that make things go faster. I don’t know. All I know is that thing took off like a bat out of hell.
So when I got to the next intersection, I was all set up to get behind the mail truck. I had been proven wrong, sour grapes aside, I knew what I needed to do. Then I saw the car in the other lane. This car had followed me all the way in to Muskogee, and the whole time they had proved that they were in just as much of a hurry as me. It was a little gold Dodge something or other, and the driver was a young man with a heavy foot and somewhere to be. So in what little time I had, I over-ruled myself and the decision to get behind the mail truck, instead opting for the “sure thing.” I waited. The light turned green.
In the moments that followed, I learned two things. The first was a SOLID confirmation that in any given circumstance where there are two choices to be made, I will pick the wrong one. The second was that from here on out, I will NEVER get in a race with a mail truck. This dude had some horsepower, and he had driving skill to back that up. He successfully blocked me for 2 miles before I got around him, and when I did, he had a huge smile on his face.
I couldn’t even be mad. I’d been bested by a mail truck.
So if you and I are ever in a situation with a bomb, and I have to cut the red or green wire, and I don’t have any clue about which one to cut so we both decide I should guess, then I want you to know I sincerely hope you have your affairs in order…because we’re going to die. And if you’ve read this blog, you can’t get mad at me either.
Hey Facebook readers! You can comment on my blog now! I’m currently testing this feature to see if any of you utilize it. If not, fear not old readers, I’ll go back to blogger comments, which I know will at least make Mandy happy. Also, for those of my readers with dichotomous lives, you CAN use anonymous commenting in this form.
Did I just use a pop culture reference to describe what has turned into a potential serious situation?
Yes I did.
Some of you read my blog yesterday. Others didn’t. If you didn’t, this one won’t make sense, so go back and read up. Also, read my blogs on time from here on out, then you won’t have homework, doucher.
So I get a Facebook message last night. It reads:
“Obviously you need the part in the bible that says Thou shall not LIE! You need to be careful what you say about others! The rath of GOD is much worse!”
Me being the classy guy I am, I responded.
“That’s all well and good, but do I know you?”
From there it disintegrated into a pish posh of her threatening me with stuff like:
You have know idea who I am or who you’re messing with! Don’t say I didn’t warned you! So I think it’s time you stop it!”
Ok that’s fine keep diggin that hole! Just tryin to help ya! Sorry!”
Now it sounds like you can’t handle someone commenting on what you write about people! Uuuummm! Maybe you should think before you speak! Oh and I told you sorry! Won’t try and help anymore! Just FYI!”
So yeah. That’s how I spent my night. Responding to vague threats from a 33 year old “Christian” mother who drives a vehicle suspiciously like the one that I had the altercation with yesterday. I asked things like, “How deep am I allowed to dig?” and “That’s the best way ever to spell wrath.” And the whole time she wouldn’t admit that is was about the blog. THE WHOLE FREAKING TIME.
So I did what any self respecting, red-blooded American would do. I threatened her with legal action.
No dice. She obviously isn’t scared of the long arm of the law.
So here are some scenarios that I’m playing out in my head.
1. She’s a witch. She’s going to put a curse on me, and that’s what she was warning about. Maybe she’s going to pray down the “rath” of God on me. Either way, I can only hope that she does what that dude in that one Stephen King book did. “Thinnerrrrrrrrrrr…” No diets, FTW!
2. She’s going to try to take out some form of “justice” on my vehicle. I’ll be the first to admit, the prospect of paying for tires or an insurance claim is kind of lame. So maybe I can confuse her. I drive a white Mercury Milan. Matter of fact, IT’S IN YOUR DRIVEWAY! SCRATCH IT!
3. She’s going to eventually have me killed in my sleep. In the words of Snoop Dogg, “I done seen everything but God anyway.” Naw. Seriously, I don’t want to die. Don’t kill me. I have so much unfinished business left here like…well, um…let’s see…more blogs? OH! Duke basketball! It’s the start of the season! I don’t want to miss it because we’re going to be REALLY good this year. Also there’s that whole adoption thing. Kids and what not. The love.
So there are my 3 possibilities.
Now for the serious part.
Listen, I know you’re probably reading this right now. So maybe you realize…THAT THERE IS NO SERIOUS PART! This is a HUMOR blog, you ninny, and it will continue to be one. I’m not going to threaten you back, I’m not going to call you ugly and say you can’t read well. Enjoy your time on my blog, and thanks for telling all your friends and family about it so my page gets more hits.
Just try not to give my vehicle quite as many, okay?
Most of you know my drive to work sucks more than a Dyson on cocaine.
Today however, it reached a new point.
Back in this post, I outlined a couple of roads where people like to pull out in front of me on my drive. Usually when this happens I’m running at about 70 MPH, and when they pull out in front of me, I have to lock up my brakes and pray to the Good Lord that I don’t rear end them. It also cuts into my Facebook/Twitter/Text time on the drive to work.
This morning, as I was driving along at about 70 MPH, a lady pulled *almost* into the intersection, and then slammed on her brakes, bringing her just inches from her car jutting out into the roadway. I had already started applying easy brake pressure, but I was able to back off and continue along. This prompted me to be nice, and instead of giving her the finger, I just kind of held both of my hands up in a “What the heck?” kind of gesture.
She copycatted me.
Well, things had clearly escalated. She wanted to act like she had done nothing wrong, so in order to make sure that she KNEW she had messed up, I flipped her off. Now. I’ve been trying to get back in church and straighten my life up a bit in preparation for kids and…you know…eternity and what not, so I’ll be the first to tell you I felt kind of ashamed to be driving by her with my middle finger at full mast. However, it felt pretty satisfying too. “There. She now knows she’s wrong, and she knows never to drive like an idiot again.” Those were my words as I sped happily on down the road, feeling good about my ability to be a teacher of the rules and regulations of the Oklahoma Highway System.
When I passed this lady in the intersection we were about 10 minutes from town. She was also about 10-15 cars back from me on a road that is barely accommodating of 2 cars side by side, much less open for passing. Folks, I’m here to tell you, this lady overtook 15 freaking cars and caught up to me at the last intersection before I turned to pull into my work.
SHE FLIPPED ME OFF.
Let me set the situation up for you with a little picture.
Here’s what went down. I was turning, and as I turned, I gave the lady the “Come here” hand. You know the one. Palm facing you, bringing all 4 fingers down towards you then release and repeat. The one you give when you want to let someone know you’ll fight them, but you’re too lazy to start it.
The reaction I got seemed as though I gave her the “GET OVER HERE!” hand, as seen here:
I CRAP YOU NOT, this lady slammed on her brakes in the EXACT spot as indicated in the picture above, then attempted to take the white arrow route to get back to me. WITH OTHER TRAFFIC BEHIND HER.
I’ll let that sink in.
I am so glad I made it into my parking lot safe and sound. I don’t think I wanted to have to fight this chick. Mostly because as crazy as she was, I’m pretty sure I’d have gotten my butt kicked. Also now I’ve been going out randomly to the parking lot to make sure I still have a nice paint job and my tires haven’t been slashed.
And that’s my drive to work this morning. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.