The Shot Heard Around The World…

The Archduke Ferdinand and his wife were literally killed in what we call in Oakland, a drive-by shooting one hundred years ago yesterday. Oh alright they were in the car but the thing is as a result of that incident, 71 million people died. You, who know your history, might be saying, “Twenty million soldiers died during that World War, not seventy-one million.” No you’re quite right but that single shot led to World War II and here’s how.

After that blood bath of World War One, that disgruntled German Corporal with that crazy looking mustache, didn’t like how his country took most of the blame for the war and vowed to make things right. The Second World War was followed by The Korean and Vietnam Wars thus around 71 million perished because a couple of men were upset with the Archduke. Here is my point, one single match can cause a massive firestorm. I’m sure that man who fired into that car never thought his act of defiance would result in a global firestorm. Yes there were other factors that caused the war but his single match sparked the inferno. This too will pass.

Only In Berkeley…

It’s around 6pm this evening when I was approached by two nice older people asking for my help. At first the cynical me thought it might be for a handout but it turned out to be an act of helping the man walk. The slight woman tried to explain how her friend’s sandal had broken and they had miles to go. Together we devised a quick fix using a tie-wrap and black tape. It took a few fittings before it was comfortable enough for him to be able to use the repaired sandal.

Upon a test walk of a few steps the man smiled and gave his approval. They noticed my Hey Hey Pony Buddha tee-shirt and we spoke a few minutes about life and how people come into one’s life to help one another. I told them to pay it forward and they promised they would. I left them with this blogs name but being that it’s long and complicated they probably didn’t get it down. It doesn’t matter. This too will pass

Just One Sprinkle… Please.

It’s usually right around now when the hills and fields start to turn brown here in Northern California. Unfortunately that happened a month ago and being that it happened way too early, this is going to be one heck of a fire season. This morning the smell of smoke filled the air so I got up to see if I could see smoke. There was no sign of a fire just the scent of toasted grass. We here in California are screwed but some of us just don’t know it yet. The water authorities have started the constant drumbeat of, “Save water or else.”

If it is another dry winter here, the Golden State will dry up even more than it has now. Governor Jerry Brown, my hero, is trying to deal with this water crisis the best he can but he can’t make it rain. You hear the national weather reports telling us of how it’s flooding in other parts of the country and you wonder to yourself, “Why not a drop here?”

Maybe this last rainy season was my last chance to work in the rain. I love rain! Even when you are soaked to the bone and you have all your rain gear on. I love it! People blame many causes for this drought. I really don’t care but just let it rain and yes I know that this too will pass.

The Squirrel Family….

I worked yesterday evening and when the work ran out in my usual area they sent me to Walnut Creek. As I pulled up to the house , I noticed multiple pieces of black plastic draped on our phone cable in various locations. (Shhh. Don’t tell anyone but If you see that it means a squirrel had chewed the cable there.) Most of the times you see a black plastic wrap here and there, not in this neighborhood. There were at least 50 chew locations in the length of a block.

The customer had seen me pull up so he came out to the curb and with a smile on his face said, “You’re in for it now buddy. You’ve entered the land of squirrels. I worked for The Company for 35 years and yes this cable is one big squirrel chew. Have fun.” I had to call Rob to come and help me. He was even impressed with the squirrel damage done to our cable.

As I ascended to the splice case near a fir tree, a family of squirrels met me making their chirping sound. The alpha man dared to come close to me chirping his anger. He stood watch four feet from me as I played with the tiny wires. I said to him, “Guys, You have to stop chewing our cable. Go chew Comcast’s Cable. It’s tasty too.” He would chirp his reply. Rob yelled to me, “Who you talking to? Are you on the phone?” “Na, I’m talking to these squirrels.” I replied… This too will pass.

The Falling Man….

I happened to watch this morning a documentary about an unknown man who was seen plummeting to his death the morning of September 11th 2001. Had he either jumped to avoid the raging inferno or maybe he had slipped. Who really knows? His fate was sealed when the planes hit The Twin Towers and does it really matter how his life ended? Soon after the incident The Toronto Globe and Mail sent an investigating reporter to try to find the identity of man.

One family became upset that their father was even thought to have been the man falling in the picture. Why? Because it would have made people think he had committed suicide and devout Catholics have this thing about taking ones life. Let’s review their thinking; Dad either burns to death in a confined fire storm of pain which would be acceptable or jumps to his death and is later vilified. The unidentified man did what he did and who really can second guess his actions. I can only hope that I have the spiritual fortitude to act decisively if I need to make a life ending move. After further analysis it appears he was a sound engineer working at The Windows of The World restaurant. Here’s to you sir.. You added a spark of energy into this plane of existence and your act was right… This too will pass

Brazil 2014… No Thanks

I helped one of my coworkers yesterday afternoon. As a way of thanking me, he offered me a fast food lunch and I accepted. We’ve kept our friendship to teasing each other about our local baseball and football teams successes and failures. He had heard that I was thinking about retiring soon so the conversation turned to my future plans. Out of nowhere he talked about me going to Brazil and how I can find girls there who cater to retired men. Trust me, I hadn’t asked for such information.

I didn’t like where our conversation was heading. It kind of seemed creepy and I didn’t need much more details before I realized what his life outside work consisted of. He went on how you go to this hotel and after that I quickly picked quickly at my chicken and biscuit. He kept saying, “Juan, You’d like it there. Any age and color you want.” I replied, “Yeah I will.” I wouldn’t but I said I would.

It interesting you never see the other side of people you work with. I have no interest in doing anything he would do, I have morals and just talking about it felt dirty! I guess he feels what he’s doing is just fine because it’s legal down there. I’ve never had an urge to travel to Brazil and now for sure Brazil will I never set a foot on. This too will pass.

The Mortgage Broker…”Liar Loan”

We were the people The Big Banks loved, not because we had a lot of money, no it was the opposite. We had one of those ‘Liar Loans’, I mean mortgages, that was tailored for the family who couldn’t afford one. Wow how great! A mortgage called ‘Pick-a-Payment’. You know the kind; the one where you send them whatever you can afford that month. Imagine how nice of a bank to do such a thing! For all the years of child support and alimony I would literally hand the check over to the ex and she would do what she did with it.

One day, RLG told me that the mortgage payment was getting too big. “Too big? What do you mean too big?” I asked. She then explained how the loan worked and how we needed to act immediately to save the house. She called another mortgage company which promised to find us a loan. The two of us walked into their store front office pretending to be a married couple. The two of us thought we were pretty sly by fooling them.

I found it quite interesting that they never questioned why on the credit reports I had a different address. The banks they shopped our loan to also never questioned it either. It was only later in 2008 that it was revealed the whole mortgage business had become totally corrupt. No, the day we signed the documents, the loan guy just wanted a picture of us smiling and holding the loan application and money in our hand… Guess what kind of loan they got us this time? Another ‘Pick-a-Payment’ from now famous World Savings and Loan. Well that loan carried us thru until we finally ended up selling the house. People ask me if I will buy another house and I say, “I never want another mortgage nor house as long as I live.” This too will pass.

The New World’s Largest…. Oh You Know…

Our work night came to a close the way it used to many years ago. It was too late to pick up another job so we parked our trucks near a diner and waited for the clock to get close to 9:30. For a moment it was the way it used to be at The World’s Largest Telecommunications Company. This job used to be the best job in the world until it was taken over by the bean counters. It’s no fun anymore and who wants to spend whatever time they have left being in a miserable place? Don’t get me wrong, the money is excellent but it’s the constant pressure that would drive Mahatma Gandhi to lash out at someone.

Through out my tenure I have remained loyal to the horse that fed me but lately they have gone too far. Recently upper management asked its employees to complete an online satisfaction survey about our working environment. They promised to look into and fix things that might cause employees to be upset… Everyone in my crew wrote of how miserable it has become; management telling us subtlety, “We keep you alive to serve this ship. Row well and live number 41!” (Roman fleet commander to Ben Hur in slave galley) Shortly after the survey was completed, a poster with a smiling woman’s face was plastered all over the garage stating, “You Matter!” You hardworking employees make the difference!”

Are you kidding me? That was the fix to why moral is at an all time low? The constant monitoring and intimidation couldn’t possibly be one of the reasons why people just don’t care anymore. Why should we technicians care when managements only concern is, “The customer was surveyed and they said they were happy but not very happy. Now we will check your GPS and run a full day audit because we think you weren’t doing your job. Oh and here is your monthly report card.” You might think I am kidding but I’m not… It’s time for me to retire… This too will pass.

Sir! Are You Working On My Line?

Rob is up in this tree and the man from across the street comes out and says, “Are you working on my internet line?” I ask, “Did your line go out just now?” He replies, “I have Comcast…” I thought to myself, “Are you a complete moron?” He sees the truck with our symbol on it and he thinks we’re Comcast? Then I had a moment of compassion and thought, to him all utility people look the same… I need to practice what I say…. Compassion…

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This too will pass