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Traveling Northbound In The Southbound Lane

The columnist seems to have hit a string of bad luck.

I was the kid next door's imaginary friend. ~ Emo Philips

There’s an old adage - sometimes you eat the bear - sometimes the bear eats you. I’ve gotta tell ya; that old bear has been fattening up on lately. 

I’m not complaining. We all have our share of misadventures. We all take a thrashing now and again. What goes around comes around [apparently it’s old adage day here on ]. It just seems that over the past few weeks I’ve had more than my fair share of time tied to the whipping post.

Have you ever felt this way? I’m sure you have. And if by some extremely remote chance you haven’t, please send me an email and let me know when we can get together, because you and I can make a bundle of cash when I write your life story.

But we both know that if you haven’t experienced trouble in your life, you’re either a liar or you're under the age of three; unless you count having a poopy diaper as trouble. Then I guess that just leaves you a liar, which means I can’t help you with the chronicling of your life story. I don’t write fiction.

I’ll spare you the majority of the sordid details of my recent descent into the proverbial abyss, but if you’d be so kind, let me share just one day’s worth of minor irritants with you. Actually, you’re going to hear them regardless of your willingness to ‘be so kind’ as to listen, so you may as well sit back and enjoy it.

It all started a couple of weeks ago. My wife and I went to Target in Easton to pick up a few things and, as is our custom, we made a stop at Starbuck’s before doing our shopping.

If you’re familiar with the Easton Target store, you know that Starbuck’s is located just inside the entrance.  And if you’re not familiar with the store and you didn’t know that, but you do now because I just told you. No extra charge for that. It’s what I do.

So, we went to Starbuck’s and my wife grabbed a table. Well, I guess she didn’t actually grab it; I was just using a colloquialism. But she sat at a table so we’d have a place to sit and drink our highly-caffeinated, over-priced beverages. Tasty little buggers though – and potent! That’s the Starbuck’s marketing secret. They create a physical and physiological need for their product. I believe that’s called addiction.

Oh, by the way, just as an aside; there could be a pop-quiz on colloquialisms when you least expect it, so be sure you understand them. That’s why God created Google.

I went up to the counter at Starbuck’s, spent a few minutes visiting with one of the nice young ladies who work there [I’m a well-known protagonist at this particular location] and placed my order.

I grabbed our drinks and headed to the table, sat down, set my latte on the tabletop, and reached over to give my wife her drink, spilling my latte all over the front of my pants in an area where no man wants to experience the painful sensation of a hot beverage.

That’s okay though. I was more than happy to supply the 20 or so nice folks in my general vicinity with a good, hardy belly-laugh and, as a bonus, a hilarious story for them to relate to their families at the dinner table when asked, “So, how was your day?”

One of the girls cleaned up the mess on the floor and, in between snickers, asked, “Are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” I replied. “We weren’t planning on having any more children anyway.”

The young lady was nice enough to bring me another latte and admonished me to be careful as she set it down in front of me. I carefully picked it up and my wife and I walked to the front of the store to grab a shopping cart [this grab was not a colloquialism. I actually did grab it. This will not be on the quiz].

I did my best to hide my wet, stained crotchal area from the other shoppers [no – crotchal is not a word - just having some fun] because I was terrified that someone would notice the huge, beige stain that if I didn’t know better, I’d swear was beckoning passers-by to take a peek at it.

Do you have any idea what people are thinking when they see a guy in his 60s walking around with wet pants?

All things considered, we made it through our shopping trip in fairly good fashion. We went home and I changed my clothes before retreating to the solace of my writing cave, aka my office.

I was on deadline. My column was due to be submitted that afternoon. I sat down at my desk, opened my web browser to the Norton Patch site, signed in to the Admin section, clicked on Articles and then selected Create Article, which then took me to the submission engine.

From that point on, everything that could possibly go wrong, did! Internet Explorer froze up on me several times. When I tried to cut and paste from my MSWord document to the submission engine, nothing happened; it wouldn’t paste. And when I finally did get everything pasted in, the submission engine chose to mess with me just a little more by not allowing me to set up my embedded links. When I clicked on my links to check them they linked me to nothing! Then to top it all off, when I clicked on Submit, nothing happened.

I know all this seems like small potatoes. I know it seems that I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but a whole slew of little annoyances can quickly grow into one massive conglomeration of exasperation. Kind of like a snowball rolling down a steep hill.

After much effort and a whole boatload of consternation, I succeeded in getting my column submitted to my . I had some errands to run, so I grabbed my car keys and was about to head out the door when I remembered I’d wanted to trim my beard earlier that morning, but didn't have the time.

I went into the bathroom, opened the drawer in the vanity and took out my electric beard trimmer. I affixed the 3/16 inch attachment, plugged in the trimmer and turned it on.

I carefully trimmed my beard on one side of my face, turned the trimmer off, removed the attachment and cleaned it out before starting the other half. I snapped on the attachment, hit the switch and – nothing! The trimmer wouldn’t turn on.

I again removed the attachment and hit the switch again – still nothing! So, being the mechanical whiz that I am [that’s a lie] I figured it would be a good idea to take the shaving head off the trimmer to check inside.  

Bad idea! As hard as I tried, I couldn’t get the head reattached to the handle properly. Every time I thought it was ready and turned the trimmer on, it made a horrible grinding noise. I wasn’t about to put that up against my face.

After several more fruitless attempts to get it working, I threw the trimmer into the trash [after screaming some choice expletives that I can’t write here] and headed out to my car, slamming the kitchen door behind me.

Of course, in the midst of my tirade I'd forgotten that I had only trimmed half my beard and as a result I ran around town all day looking like both sides of a before and after commercial.

My first stop was the car wash. It was closed! In the middle of the day! On a Tuesday!

Next, I went over to Dunkin Donuts to grab a coffee and a breakfast sandwich. Apparently, unrestrained anger stimulates my appetite.

I placed my order, waited by the food window, got my coffee and my sandwich, sat down at a table next to the window and unwrapped my sandwich. I had ordered a turkey sausage flatbread. They had given me a wrap!

I walked back to the counter, handed the girl my wrap and told her I’d ordered a flatbread.

“I’m sorry, sir,” she said apologetically. “Let me get that fixed for you.”

“Thanks,” I replied.

I went back to the pick-up window to wait for my sandwich and had a pleasant conversation with a very nice lady who had also been given the wrong order.

A few minutes passed and finally a young girl came to the counter with two bags in her hand. She handed one to me and the other to the woman to whom I’d be conversing.

The woman opened her bag, pulled out the sandwich, unwrapped it, looked at me and said, “Okay, this isn’t right. I’m a veggie. What are you?”

“I’m a turkey,” I responded.

The woman laughed hysterically!

Stupid bear!

Make it a great week!

Bob Havey is an Easton-based freelance writer and a consummate trouble-maker. His column, The Way I See It, runs every other Wednesday at http://norton.patch.com.

Vicki Bailey March 28, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Thanks for the laugh! :)
carol sabin March 31, 2012 at 01:06 PM
You make a couple of upsets very funny Bob! Love reading your articles!
Carl White April 08, 2012 at 01:13 AM
It's my experience that these types of days are few and far between! Tomorrow will be a better day. Remember to count your blessings! I think of my daughters and grandson. Think of all your friends and loved ones. It's normal for these types of things to happen. What's that saying? When life serves you lemons, make lemonade out of them. Have a wonderful Easter! Carl
Bob Havey April 09, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Carl - You're absolutely right, though when life hands ME lemons I buy vodka. Most of my columns are 'tongue-in-cheek' - just in case you missed it. Great! Now I've ruined my reputationas a curmudgeon!
Bob Havey April 09, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Thanks for reading, Carol. I'm glad you enjoy them.
Bob Havey April 09, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Glad to help, Vicki.
ELAINE NORDBERG ROCK June 24, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Thank you for a fun read & thank heavens this doesn't happen to us every day! If you can make a 'ha ha' out of a bad start that won't 'restart into a better mode' you are still ahead of the game! You, of course, have that gift as well as the gift of the right words to share it with us and give us all a laugh & few minutes relief from out day. You never fail to perk us up! Thx

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