It's been a while since I've written about my Uber/Lyft driving experiences, so here are some of the recent happenings.
One evening I picked up a young man around 1:30am, which is closing time for the bars in our area. As he stumbled out of the doors from this establishment and towards my car, it was obvious, he'd had a few too many. He opened the back door, and without saying a word, fell inside to the backseat. I asked for his first name, and he mumbled something that sounded relatively close to the name of the person I was supposed to pick up, so I proceeded. About two minutes into the drive, he suddenly popped up, and said "Piss on a Gnome!!".......and threw some cash towards me into the passenger front seat. "Excuse me?", I asked. No response. Im trying to figure out what the hell "Piss on a Gnome" means in the language of DRUNK, as I continued on. A couple minutes later, I felt more paper currency hit my right shoulder, followed again by, "Piss on a Gnome!", as he closed his eyes and fell back into his seat. About a minute later, more money came flying my way, only this time he was silent.
We had reached his destination, which was an apartment complex. I pulled up to a central location to the building and stopped. Now I'm just hoping he doesn't pull a gnome from his pants, or we were gonna have issues. He handed me some cash and exited the vehicle very slowly. After thinking about it for a while, I realized, he was probably trying to say "Please take me home." I earned $7.56 from Uber, and he had thrown and handed me a total of $32 in cash.
A couple weekends ago, an '80's cover band was playing at a softball complex near my home. I turned on my Uber app, as I expected some pick up requests afterwards. I gave several rides from midnight to around 1:30am. As I was headed home, I took another request around 2am from the same location. I didn't really expect anyone to still be there at this time. I picked up a female passenger who was probably in her 40's. She was telling me about how her friends had left her and how upset she was. Half the way into her ride, she says, "Lets have a Taco Bell date!" I told her I'd be happy to take her to the Bell, but declined any food. She ordered several items and we were on our way. She then said, "I don't know why I ordered all of this, I'm not even hu.......". Before she could finish her sentence, she was sitting next to me, barfing in her Taco Bell bag. I was getting the distinct scent of peaches covered in nacho cheese from her vomit. I'm guessing "Sex on the beach" was her drink of choice and she must have had nachos for a snack. When I dropped her off, she pulled a moist $5 bill from her purse and exited the vehicle. I threw that bill on the floorboard and went home for the night.
Last weekend, I picked up two young ladies from a restaurant around 10pm. They were both gorgeous and dressed very nicely in their party dresses. They smelled like bubble gum and sunflowers, with a hint of cotton candy. One of them was complaining about how she did not feel well, so naturally, I was a bit fearful of her puking. They had both been drinking, and one actually brought her adult beverage into the car with her. I could hear them both whispering to each other as I drove. Out of nowhere, one of them says, "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry!!" Her friend then asked, "What's wrong? What happened?". I flipped the overhead light on to see if she had spewed or spilled anything. To my surprise, I saw nothing.
Just as I turned the light back off, it hit me, and I mean it hit me hard!
All those "sugar and spice and everything nice" scents had quickly been blanketed. My eyes began to water at the smell of caca covered cotton candy, shit drenched sunflowers and butt hole bubblegum. I then heard her say, "Oh my god I wanna die", as her friend held her nose laughing. I began to wonder if this lady's ass had been possessed by some sort of demon. How could such a horrid, vile, funk come from this young woman? In my head, I'm shouting, "The power of Christ compels you!", in hopes the Ass Devil would disappear. I rolled down all the windows, as they both began to laugh out loud. We arrived at the home of one of the two, and they were both very apologetic. I dropped them off and drove around a bit as the car continued to air out.
Last evening around 10pm, I was sitting at home, when I received a request from a female a few miles from me. I went to the home and picked up two young gals who were obviously of high school age. The address to their destination was located near the Springfield Airport, about 18 miles away. The girls were taking selfies, Snap chatting and doing whatever else girls of that age do. As we neared their destination, I could hear them whispering to each other. I said "this place sure is in the middle of nowhere.", to which I got no reply or response. I asked, "which house is it?". Then I could hear one of them say, "you better tell him." They apparently had entered the address wrong and just realized it. The correct destination was another 12 miles from where we were. Their ride which should have been about 8 miles and 15 minutes, ended up being 32 miles and 45 minutes which cost them over $50. Looked like a fun, parents are out of town, place is gonna get trashed, high school party though. They even left me a $3 tip
As August 7th approaches and I prepare to go through another Junior High orientation with our middle child, I'm reminded of my first experience just last year with our daughter. Emily was about 10 months removed from her accident and still recovering from her TBI, but I knew she wanted to be a part of this experience with her first born child. I had no idea what we were in store for, other than we were going to visit each of our child's classrooms.
We started out by meeting in the gymnasium which had cooling system issues. They had a large fan blowing on us. All that did was move the accumulative sweaty stench of each of the 200 or so people all around us. Em and I sat there for about 30 minutes as we were introduced to different staff members. I was ready to be done with all of this already!!!
Next, we met up with our daughter, so we could begin going through her daily schedule, where we would walk from class to class along with her. In my mind, I'm going back to my days at Buffalo JH, in my tiny hometown of Buffalo MO. Our classes were all located throughout one hallway that ended with double doors which led to our tile floored gym. Our athletic locker rooms, were located down a narrow stairway that went underground through a creepy, cavelike corridor, which was accurately named, "The Dungeon". If someone were to ask me to go visit "The Dungeon" today, I promise, I'd wear 3 pair of socks, hiking boots and a hazmat suit. To this day, I'm astonished I never contracted athletes foot or worse, from changing and showering in there.
So, back to the Nixa Junior High. As I look at our schedule and location of classes, I quickly realize, there is gonna be a lot of walking. I'm seeing East Hall, West Hall, North Hall, Central Hall.....I'm like what the hell? There are triple to quadruple the regular amount of people trying to get through these hallways, from class to class. I'm large, slow and walk with a cane, so trying to rush through a crowd is impossible for me. My wife and daughter were like mice, slipping throughout the maze of folks as I stood and watched to see which door they would enter and catch up later. The two of them would get inside each class room and find seats. By the time I came rolling in, there would be no available chairs around them, or it would be too hard for me to get to where they were. I would usually end up standing against a wall, trying to take notes on my phone.
By the 3rd class, I could tell Emily was bored with all of it, and getting tired. We were in the social studies class, the two of them sitting next to each other, while I stood by the door, against the wall. There were probably 30-40 people crammed inside each room as we quietly listened to the teachers go through everything. For whatever reason, I looked over at Emily just as she glanced towards me. She absolutely lost it!! She began laughing historically for no reason. I'm shushing her with my finger to my mouth, as everyone else stares at us in complete confusion! Em eventually stopped laughing, as my daughter buried her head into her hands. The bell rang and we were released to move on to the next torturous destination.
As we walk, I try to talk to Em about being quiet while we are in the rooms, as if I'm reprimanding my six year old. The only thing she was concerned about, was when we would be done. I assured her, we would only have a few more classes, then we could leave. We made it to the last class, which was Science. This time, I was able to find a chair next to the girls, so I sat with them. I unfortunately, had forgotten to silence my phone from the beginning, but was lucky to have not gotten any calls.......well, until now! We were halfway through our final class of the evening, when that familiar intro to "Baby Got Back", began blaring from my pocket. Again.....all eyes on me, as I begin pressing and pushing at my pockets, trying to find a button to stop this chic from telling "Becky" that another young woman looks like "a total prostitute!" In that moment, I felt as though I was trying to defuse a bomb with the final 10 seconds ticking down before detonation. As I clicked the correct button and stopped the music, there was a lot of laughter. My wife broke down once again, only this time, she wet her pants. We patiently waited as everyone left the room, before sneaking out of the room and out the building.
If our daughter could make it through that orientation, I knew she would have no problems getting through her first year of Junior High. Heck, I may even purposely put our son through the same torture as well. Maybe I'll cue up Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher".
Growing up as a kid way back in the 1980's, sports were never pushed upon my brother and I. My Mom might ask us if we were interested in playing something, and let us decide. We were never forced to play. We both loved playing baseball from a young age, but not really anything else. I played Mighty Mites football for the first time when I was in 6th grade. By that time, I was about 5 lbs. shy of the max weight limit to even participate. I had no idea what I was doing as I recall, I just knew I was supposed to use my hands to move players from the other team out of the way. I did not begin playing basketball until I was in 7th grade, at which time I was 6'3".
I've kinda used the same philosophy with my kids, though they have always wanted to play. They have played in recreational city leagues as soon as they were eligible. Unfortunately, I've seen how this has put my 13 year old daughter at a competitive disadvantage early on. Many of the girls her age have been playing in advanced leagues for several years prior to getting into Junior High ball. She is lucky, in that she is naturally athletic, and has time to work hard and catch up.
I'm pretty sure my youngest will probably be gifted with the same height advantage I had as a kid. I will probably begin to test the waters with more advanced leagues with him as soon as I feel he his ready, though again, I will never force anything upon him.
This brings me to our middle child, a boy, who is 12, and will be attending 7th grade this August. A-train, as I will call him, is the pure definition of "vertically challenged"! Anytime I have ever asked if he would like to play a sport, I would always get the same question, "Will we get snacks and will there be a trophy or medal at the end of the season?" He has no real competitive fire when it comes to athletics. He played Mighty Mites once when he was 8. He preferred to play with the sideline cones and practice dance moves between plays, rather than attempt to understand what was going on. During baseball games and practices, he was more concerned with how big a cloud of dust he could kick up, than worry about where the baseball was. He had no interest in basketball (probably for the best), and he did more walking on the soccer field, than a group of 70 year old ladies at the mall on a Wednesday afternoon.
Last year he wanted to participate in the recreational flag football league through our city's parks department. Even though he stands well under 5' tall and weighs 68 lbs., I figured there would be no harm and he would enjoy it, which he did. One might think, hey, I bet he is quick and really fast........well......you would be wrong! He runs like he is trying to stomp out a trail of fires and has the leaping ability of a tortuous. They always say, "You can't teach height or speed", well he has neither. He and my 6 year old could get away with sharing clothes. In fact, during a recent Kindergarten basketball camp for my youngest, A-train picked up a loose ball and the coaches tried to get him back in line for drills with the 6 year olds. Any way, he caught some touchdowns and gained some confidence, which is great......or so I thought! Imagine my surprise and subsequent fear, when he tells me he is going to try out for the seventh grade football team.
Most fathers would be excited to hear their son ask to play football, as many push their boys towards the sport. Don't get me wrong, I love everything about the game, but the game is not for everyone. Football practices and conditioning are by far the most grueling of all the school sports. The discipline, mental toughness and sacrifice that those boys put out daily teaches them life lessons that are timeless. A hard work ethic, or even lack there of, shows on the field. I'm not so much worried about him getting hurt physically, despite is stature. I'm more concerned with him being hurt emotionally.
I know how the football locker room and practice field can be, even at the 7th grade level. I've seen kids of lesser ability and physical size, be targeted in practice and bullied in the weight room. It's hard for coaches to see what's going on when there are 30-40 kids on the team. Our school has an A & B team, so I'm not sure cuts will even be made, for those who are not up to par. Kids that age can be pretty cruel, and he has already dealt with a small amount of bullying in grade school. I want to be supportive, and would never discourage him from trying something new, but I'm struggling with this.
I suppose this is the point where I stop trying to protect him, and allow him to figure things out. The only rule I have ever had for them, is if they are part of a team or group, they will not quit. As the legendary coach, John Wooden said, "Sports don't build character, they reveal it." I'm pretty sure a lot will be revealed come mid August.
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007.......
The evening started out great. I was a single man, just hanging out with good friends and family, drinking my strawberry flavored, Boone's Farm beverage. I had ridden with a buddy to the home where we would enjoy our pre-4th festivities. As we began to lose daylight, he asked if I wanted to ride about 30 miles north, to the small town of Bolivar Mo, to play poker. This was something we did regularly, so I was up for it. The two of us took off and headed up Hwy 13. Ten years ago, texting wasn't popular yet, there were no iPads or iPhones, and iPods were something new to me. My buddy had his iPod hooked up to his car stereo. For whatever reason, I decided I was in the mood for a little AC/DC. I couldn't figure out how to operate this piece of technology, so he began to search for what I was looking for. It was in that few seconds of him taking his attention away from the road, and over to his iPod, that I would almost lose my life.
We were in a Chevy Blazer. I had not buckled up as I usually did when driving or riding out of town. As he began to mess with the iPod, I heard the distinct sound of gravel under the tires. We had partially gone off the right side of the highway going about 60mph. This obviously startled both of us. His first reaction was to pull the wheel to the left, to get us back on the pavement. In doing so, he over corrected, and the back side of the SUV slid forward. My side of the vehicle was quickly sliding in the direction of a road sign. I remember bracing for that impact and hearing a loud "POP"........
My next memory was of opening my eyes to tiny particles falling around me, with something dripping down my face which altered my vision. I realized I was upside down. I heard my friend call out for me and ask if I was ok. I tried to compose myself and do a mental scan of my body. I felt pain in my left leg and it seemed as though it was hanging or dangling in a weird position. I replied, "I'm ok but I think my leg is broken!" My buddy told me to hang on, and he was gonna look for help. From that point on I was in and out and my body was in a state of shock. Nobody could know the severity of all my injuries at that time. I briefly remember the sound of people attempting to cut me out of the vehicle, and I remember the sound of being in a helicopter as well. From my understanding, I was trapped inside the automobile for over an hour. I was in and out of consciousness during that period of time.
The next moment I became somewhat aware of what was going on, was when a Doctor was telling my family that I had a life threatening injury and I needed to go in for surgery immediately. I remember the words "ruptured Aorta", and not being able to put together what or where my Aorta was located. My family began telling me they loved me and they would see me once I was out of surgery.......and I was out!! My loved ones had been called to the hospital thinking I had a few fractures and a broken leg. I couldn't imagine what was going through their minds once they got the "life threatening" news. The driver of the Blazer was wearing his seat belt, and ended up with a cut on his leg.
I woke up at some point, on July 4th, 2007. I had tubes down my throat and in my nose. There were more tubes and lines running in my arm and a drainage tube out the side of my chest. The first voice I heard was that of my Mother, telling me I was going to be ok. I was alive!!!! I was heavily dosed up on Morphine or Dilaudid, so I fell back to sleep almost immediately. I recall that each time I opened my eyes, there were always friends and family there waiting to talk to me or let me know they were there. I could see the concern in all of my visitors' eyes, but was unable to reassure them verbally. I would write out a few of my funny thoughts, on paper. I hoped this would comfort them, and let them know the old Herb was still there. I was in the Intensive Care Unit for about a week. Just before my move out of ICU, all the tubes running down my throat were removed in one quick pull. The pain of having the chest tube removed was far worse. I became aware my open heart surgery was performed through my back rather than my chest.
The day had come, the nurses and doctor pulled the covers away from me, and asked me to attempt to sit up on the side of the bed. I began sending the signals from my brain to my legs, for them to move. It's something we do thousands of times a day without putting any real thought into it. This time however, they were not responding. I calmly informed my doctor what was happening, although inside, I was quite shaken up.
Once they moved me to my new room, I was much more aware of all the injuries I had suffered and the work that was to be done. The list of injuries was extensive:
Ruptured Aorta (open heart surgery)
Fractured left hip
Shattered left knee cap
Fractures to all ribs
Fractured facial bones
Spinal & peripheral nerve damage
Many lacerations which required stitches/staples including in my nose, around my lip and around my right eye.
Two weeks removed from life saving surgery, and it was time to began rehabilitation. I had to lift weights to build strength in my upper body, do exercises to wake up the nerves that had been damaged, plus learn to function and get around without the ability to walk . I also had to do breathing treatments 3 times a day to keep from getting pneumonia. All of this, with fractured bones and a punctured lung, not to mention the 3 inch incision on my back that was still healing. I would dread getting up each morning to go through what seemed like medieval torture, but I knew it was for the best.
Without the use of my legs, I had to learn new ways to do things we take for granted each day. Imagine trying to put shoes and socks on with a medical grabber or reach tool.....very frustrating, and hard to do. Every time I needed to get out of my wheelchair, I had to have a sliding board with me, to make the transfer. This was especially challenging when transferring from my chair to a large vehicle. I basically had to pull my body in, using whatever I could grab onto. For several weeks, each time I needed to change position in bed, I had to have help. They finally put a rod over my bed with a handle. I was then able to reach up with my hands and adjust my body position. I had people in and out of my room every couple hours all through the night taking blood, sticking my stomach with insulin, getting x-rays or CT scans and so on. I often felt as though I never went to sleep. One time during PT, my therapists strapped my body into some crazy contraption. I would lay down on a board, they fastened several straps around my groin area and tilted me to a standing position. The thing had wheels on it, and I was supposed to try to move my legs and take steps. Even with paralyses from my waist down, I could certainly feel the pain and discomfort of having my body weight distributed directly to my crotch. I let everyone know this would be my last time dealing with that apparatus.
Speaking of my private area.....I was obviously beyond ecstatic, when my favorite friend, "Rod Lovejoy", had pitched a tent and reported for duty shortly after being sponge bathed.
Occasionally I would get visitors during moments when I just wasn't in the mood. Every so often, people I didn't know real well, wanted to stay way too long. I also had an ex girlfriend show up, which I had no desire to converse with. It was in these instances, I would "suddenly" go to sleep, and let Mom deal with getting the unwelcome to leave.
I am so extremely thankful for all the friends and family I had around me during this time. I am beyond grateful for my Mom, Becky, who also moved in with me for a few months once I went home. My sister, Stacey was a rockstar dealing with all of this while being pregnant with her first child. My fantastic friend, Amanda was by my side when I needed her as well. This was a period before Facebook, so it was amazing how fast people found out via word of mouth. After 3 long months of inpatient rehab, I went from not being able to move my legs, to going home with the ability to stand up and walk short distances with the use of a walker. I continued to do outpatient therapy 3 days a week, plus pool therapy a couple times a week. By January, 2008, I was walking with a cane and able to drive.
I know how truly lucky I am to have survived my accident. You hear it said all of the time, but life is too short to take for granted. Cherish your loved ones and love those whom you cherish. Live each day as if it could be your last, because at the twist of a dial.......it very well could be
I remember the days when Em and I could take the kids out for a peaceful lunch or dinner. Sure, we might have to get on to them hear and there, but between the two of us, we got it handled and enjoyed our meal as a family. Nowadays, the thought of escorting this 3-ring circus into any establishment, gets me feeling anxious.
Today, I was fully prepared to make some delicious quesadillas for lunch. I was immediately met with resistance from all but one, including my wife. During this time, I happened to check my emails and saw that I had a offer from Goodcents. I love their sandwiches, and could probably eat there every single day. I suggested this as our lunch option and they agreed. Our 15 minute drive was torturous, as the boys wouldn't stop fighting. I finally advised them, the next sound I heard from either, would result in a dressing-less salad for lunch. Finally, an empty threat that actually worked!
We walked in the door and my 6 year old asks if he can have a pizza, oh boy.....here we go! My 12 year old son, who weighs in at 64 pounds and is only slightly taller than the 6 year old, asks if he can have a 12" sandwich. I calmly advised each, they would be ordering from the kids menu, and recommended a few items. The youngest just stood pouting. My other son asked for chicken wings, after I had just went through all the options of the entire kids menu, which did not include wings of any kind. I just told him to go sit down, and I'd order for him. This brought on a moment of clarity for him, as he rattled off a precise sandwich order. My wife and daughter knew what they wanted, so other than the silent treatment I was receiving from the youngest, I was ready to order.
The man behind the meat slicer asked what he could get us. I started with the ham sandwich order from my wife, then my penny club and my daughters pasta. As those were being prepared, I again tried to get Mr Grumpy to tell me what he wanted.....nothing! I asked if he wanted to tell the man his order, to which I got a slight nod. I said "tell him your order", he just stood and stared. I jumped in and gave both kids sandwich orders. The youngest had a mental breakdown over it and began crying. While all of that was happening, the 12 year old has taken over my wife's 6" ham sandwich, and has them loading it up with pickles, cucumbers, onion and a bunch of other crap my wife would hate. The meat slicer guy, asks me what I want on the boys' rainbow bread ham sami's. My wife then asks where her sandwich went at the same time I ask A-train what he wanted on his. "Oh.....I thought that one was mine, sorry Mom!" He says. H-dog is still standing next to me crying, and now Emily, looking at the sandwich my son put together for her, also begins to melt down. I quickly tapped her on the shoulder and asked her to take our new found 2 year old to a table, and I would get everything fixed.
I would have been better off having just told everyone to go sit down, while I ordered, knowing fully, what everyone would want. I guess deep down, I hoped today would be the day, "the show under the big top", would come to an end.
Anyone who has ever had a serious injury or illness that has left them bed ridden in a hospital, knows there is no place for shame or modesty. Prior to my car accident at the age of 31, I had never experienced such a stay. For the first week, I was in ICU, dosed up on meds and fed through a tube. Once I was moved out of the intensive care unit, I began to be more aware of what was going on around me. The dosage of pain medicine was reduced and the feeding tube removed. I could finally eat, though it wasn't much. When the Doctors decided I was ready to begin rehabilitation, it was then, I realized I could not move my legs. I had paralysis from the waist down as a result of spinal and peripheral nerve damage. Rather than get down about it, I put in a lot of hard work, day in and day out, over the following 3 months of my hospitalization.
My inability to walk, meant I would have to use a bed pan. I had a catheter for about a month, so I didn't have to worry about that for a while, but the first time I had to make a number two, I almost panicked. I called for a nurse and explained I needed to use the restroom. She called for an assistant, they rolled me over, stuck the pan on the bed and rolled me back on top of it. This was such a strange feeling, but one I would unfortunately get used to. I would now be sponged and wiped by 19 year old girls, 60 year old women and........Dudes!
I was repeatedly advised that I needed to be mindful of what I consumed, but I grew tired of the plain bland hospital foods they continued to serve each day. My sister, who was pregnant at the time, visited me each day, and always with a bag of Taco Bell or whatever fast food craving she had at the time. Strangely, I never really had a desire to eat any of it. Then it happened....several ladies from work offered to buy me a steak with all the delicious sides. Anything I wanted, and it was all I could think about. I could not wait for that NY strip, loaded baked potato and the buttery rolls. The salad went straight to the trash, I didn't have time or stomach space to waist on rabbit food. I waited for everyone to leave before I began to indulge. I conquered and devoured every last bite. It was absolutely amazing and I was completely stuffed. Less than 20 minutes passed before my stomach began pressing the "call for help" button. We needed a bed pan "stat"! It's always the time when you need a nurse the most, that they become the busiest. Unfortunately, my belly decided it could no longer wait. There is no worse feeling than erupting like a volcano without the ability to move, while the hot lava spills up your back. By the time the nurse arrived, I didn't have to say a word, the stench told her all she needed to know.
My Mom stayed in my room most nights. I was at the point in my recovery, where I could use a sliding board to slide out of bed and on to a portable toilet as long as I had assistance. Over the course of this particular night, I destroyed about 3 pair of shorts as I was unable to make the transfer in time. My Mom was there for each uncomfortable moment. There were times when friends would give her a break and stay with me, so I was thankful it was her there and not a friend.
The day my catheter was removed, a couple of my buddies came to visit. They sat with me in my room and watched the Cardinals game on tv. The nurse gave me a coke and told me to let her know when I felt the need to urinate. Thirty minutes or so went by, and I felt nothing. I was laying in bed with a sheet covering my gown and we were talking and joking around. One of my buddies pointed towards me and just gave me a strange look. If you've ever been to Vegas and walked by the Bellagio as Celine Dion began blaring and water shot into the sky, you'd understand what was happening to me in this moment. Out of nowhere, a huge stream with a reddish tinted fluid, came shooting out from under the sheet. I had no idea I was doing it, I didn't feel it at all. In normal everyday life, this would be embarrassing, but this kind of thing had become my norm.
I went through about three hours a day of physical, occupational and speech therapy. Many times during physical therapy, as my body was pushed and strained, it was normal for me to crop dust the therapist. It's not something I wanted to do, but it just happens. Sometimes they were odorless booty bombs, and many times they were rich, full-bodied explosions, with notes of sulfur and a hint of Cheddar cheese. Again, normally, an embarrassing moment, yet in the Hospital, just another day.
During Occupational therapy, I had to learn to use the bathroom and how to get in and out of the bathtub. I had to undress myself while in my wheelchair, use a sliding board to transfer to the tub and clean myself. While doing all of this, a young female therapist had to be there watching me. Between stage fright and the lack of manscaping, this was probably the most uncomfortable I had felt during my three month visit at Hotel Mercy.
I was released in October and left with the ability to take steps with the use of a walker. I also left with a better understanding of how to deal with life's embarrassing moments, and there would be many to come.
I hear on a consistent basis, at least twice a week, from my kids, "Dad can we go eat Hibachi or Chinese buffet?" Don't get me wrong, I love both options, however, the wallet and my stomach do not. Honestly, my family doesn't even eat enough from the buffet, for me to justify spending that amount of money. My wife, Emily, usually gets a small portion of General Chicken, some rice and a salad on one plate, then she is done. My youngest gets chicken, rice and those sugary donut things. He eats half the chicken, which he dips in sweet and sour sauce. He consumes half the rice, because the other half ends up on the table, floor and his chair. He devours the sugary donut hole looking whatchamadoodles, then proceeds to look for ice cream or anything else sweet that he can find. My middle son, will load his plate with cucumbers, carrots or any other stupid thing, which I could have fed him at home. His second trip has him throwing things on his plate without reading what he has chosen. He takes a bite of each, then pushes a full plate of food to the side, because he doesn't like any of it. He will then grab some S&S chicken and rice, eat half of it, then load his plate full of every dessert option. Again, he takes about a bite of each, and pushes the plate to the side.....and he's done. My oldest, is the only one who actually eats enough for justification of such a meal. I usually only get one plate of food finished before the evil toilet baby in my belly starts crawling through my intestines as if it were trying to escape Shawshank Prison.
The Hibachi meal is a great option, because everyone gets a lot of food and we have enough leftovers for another full lunch the next day. The problem is, with a family of five, it is expensive. It was a little less costly when the kids were younger and their meals were cheaper. I did make the mistake of trying to cheat the system once. I should have known a family meeting was necessary prior to taking a stab at executing my deceitful ploy. At that time, the kids were 4, 10 and 11. I was pretty sure kids 3 and under were free, and 10 and under were discounted. Naturally, I thought I could bump all of their ages down one, and cash in on the savings. The waitress took our orders and asked ages, to which I replied, "3, 9 and 10." Immediately, my youngest shouts out, "Dad I'm 4!" My middle child shouts out, "I'm 10 and she is 11!" My daughter, the only one who understood the scam I was trying to pull, just put her hands over her face and shook her head. The waitress just looked at me, smiled and said, "so.......4...10 and 11? Got it!" Occasionally, if I see an age related discount on a menu that I think we can obtain, I'll huddle the kids up and let them know the plan. As for now, the Hibachi restaurants are for special occasions only.
Recently, during one of the weekly Chinese buffet beg sessions, I decided to instead take them to a new Korean restaurant that I saw had opened. I had never eaten Korean food, but didn't think it could be much different than what we were used to. I've never been one to branch out and explore different ethnic foods, so neither had my kids. Although.....there was that time, a female date, insisted we eat Indian cuisine at a local restaurant. I have no tolerance for spicy foods, so I shouldn't have been surprised, when the following week, I was admitted to the Hospital with Pancreatitis, Gallstones and had to have my Gallbladder removed. I'm sure the Indian food didn't directly cause all of the above. Nevertheless, the pain I felt from the moment I ingested, digested and egested that diabolical fare, did not stop until the Doctors poked five holes in my stomach, inflated my abdomen, and sucked out my Gallbladder.
We entered the doors of this new establishment. It was a familiar place for us, because it previously had been a Mexican restaurant our family had enjoyed often. The place was very quiet, we were the only customers at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. A lady sat us at a table and took drink orders. We began looking at the one page menu. The first thing I noticed....no kids menu! I did some quick calculations.....yep this was gonna get Hibachi expensive, so it better be good. The only recognizable item I could find for the kids was teriyaki chicken. My youngest, oldest and wife ordered that. I had eaten beef bulgogi before and enjoyed it, so I figured that's what I would go with. I talked my middle son into ordering chicken bulgogi, and I would sample some of his as well. A Korean lady took our order, and said some other things which I did not really understand, so I just kind of nodded and hoped for the best. Soon after, she came out with a tray of different sides, which she began placing on the table. There were four different items, duplicated in eight dishes. My kids were used to chips and salsa or egg rolls and crab Rangoon being served prior to our meals. The look on their faces when pickled radish salad, dried seaweed and squid strips were presented, was priceless. I began taste testing each dish. I knew all eyes were on me, so if I showed any visual acknowledgement of disgust, there was no chance any of them would attempt to try any of it. I used my best poker face to choke a bite of each down. My youngest took a bite of the seaweed and without hesitation, spit it out! The middle child tried the squid, shot me a look of pure horror, then spit it out. The waitress came to the table and asked, "are you enjoying?" Emily, who is still laughing, from witnessing the torture the boys just endured, starts shaking her head no. I quickly distracted the waitress from looking in the direction of my wife, by saying how delicious it was, as I took in another painful bite of pungent pickled radish salad. I doubt she believed me once my entire face puckered, as I struggled to hold my gag reflex.
Our entrees arrived and she asked if she could remove the appetizer plates. Obviously, a quick "yes" would have been the smart and proper response, however, I had told her how delicious it was, and now felt obligated to eat it. Everyone began to dig in as I contemplated how I would make these 8 tiny plates of repulsive provisions disappear. My youngest quickly asked why there was no fried rice. "I don't eat white rice!" he says. My middle child took a few bites, then asked if he could try mine. Clearly he was not digging the chicken bulgogi. My wife and daughter slowly and silently ate their teriyaki. "I've got it!", I thought. I'll Shawshank this sh#%t to the bathroom trash, just like Andy Dufresne had done with the rocks he hammered out inside of his cell. I'll just dump some in napkins, ball them up, and send a family member to the bathroom one at a time, to ditch these vicious vittles.
As I was about to unveil my genius plan, the kids started complaining about upset stomachs. My oldest will not use a public restroom, and began to beg for us to leave. I asked if anyone wanted food to be boxed up, to which they all refused. At this point, getting rid of the apps made no sense, since we were going to leave behind 5 plates of half eaten food. Everyone loaded into the car as I paid the bill. As soon as I got into the vehicle, a wretched stench materialized under my nostrils. Not one of the three kids looked well. As I was about to ask which one of them created the smelly smog, my 6 year old erupted. It was the Coca Cola of farts, just the classic blast of stink gas. About thirty seconds later, my middle son snaked us with a minute long hissing fart which he was unable to control. It was like a deflating balloon, only with a whole lotta stank! I instantly begin to sweat, because if the food is upsetting their stomachs, I know the impending pain I'm in store for. During our 10 minute drive home, each person was calling dibs on the throne they plan to occupy once we arrive. For some reason, I still felt fine, was it possible the Korean chow would not go to war with my insides? We arrived and everyone scurried off to handle their business. I felt bad for everyone, because I knew what they were going through, but I was ecstatic that I felt fine. My daughter came out of the hall bathroom spraying a can of Ocean breeze air freshener. To be honest, it made the house smell like hot dog water and ogar butt. I went to check on my youngest who had just finished up. I sprayed a can of lemon scent freshener, which left his room smelling like Shitrus! After a couple hours and many visits to the porcelain poopers, everyone began to feel much better.
Needless to say, there will not be a second attempt at Korean food for this family.
Besides being a stay at home Dad and Caregiver to my wife, I also get my "Side Hustle" on, and drive for Lyft & Uber on the weekends. I began driving last November when Uber came to the Springfield area. I really have not had to deal with a bunch of craziness from riders up until recently. I guess people are feeling more comfortable with taking these rides than they were when these services first came to our area.
On my first night of driving, I picked up a couple of young men from a local bar. They wanted a ride home, but they also wanted to "think outside the bun", they were ready to "live mas". We went to the drive through, ordered their food and I got back on route to their destination. I was about a block from their home, when the guy in the front seat dumped his order of nachos all over the floor. He was apologetic, and gave me a $10 tip, so no big deal, I could vacuum that up pretty quick. After that, I made sure to check out the policies in case a larger mess were made in the future. I found that if someone were to vomit in my car, I could send photos to Uber, and the passenger would automatically be charged like $150 for cleaning fees.
I've been hit on by Miranda Lambert loving Cougars and pissed off, intoxicated wives. I've had twenty-somethings spewing chunks out the back window as they insist I keep driving so they can get to the next bar to meet up with that HOT guy. I've also had a female stranger jump in and demand I take her home, while picking up passengers who had requested a ride from me. That ended with my fare tossing the girls phone out the window, and as she went to retrieve it, he yelled "Go Go Go!"
All of what I have mentioned sounds a bit crazy, but over the course of 6 months, not too bad. Last Saturday around 6pm, I was sitting at home and received a ride request from a location not too far from me. There was no physical address, just a pin drop on a street near a bridge. As I neared my destination, I could not see anyone. I passed the area where I was supposed to pick up my passenger then turned around, still nobody, no house, nothing. I tried to text the person, but no response. Suddenly, I saw a guy pop up from the guard rails of the bridge, then a young lady as well. I pulled up as they walked toward me waving. In my head I was thinking, I really hope I'm not getting murdered today! They had been floating all day, their skin was burnt and they smelled like Natures Toilet. I don't know what they were floating on or where they left their raft, but they needed a ride back to their car. Fortunately, I survived, and only had to endure their foul stench.
Last night was by far the most insane evening I've had to deal with. The first guy I picked up was leaving work to go home. He worked for one of the pizza joints in Springfield. When he entered the vehicle, I detected the scent of cheese, pepperoni and the aroma of a special kind of herb. This dude had been tossing dough and dancing with maryjane all night. He was pretty calm and relaxed, so it was an easy trip. As soon as I delivered him to his destination, I received a new request from a girl named Sara. The pick up location was a place called "Friends", which is a popular karaoke bar. I pulled up near the entrance and out came a young blonde in jeans and a tiny blouse that barely covered her lovely lady lumps. She recognized my car as her Uber and for whatever reason, she began running towards me. After about 4 drunken strides, down she went, right in front of my car. I heard her say, "I'm ok, l'm ok!", then she popped up. Her right nipple had found its way out from behind the curtain, while the left bosom was center stage and putting on a show! As she stood before me, putting the ladies away, two more friends came out, one more intoxicated than the other. The three of them got in the car. Two of the girls asked me to hold on and wait for a fourth girl who was paying her tab. Sara, who was paying for the ride, says "I'm not paying to wait on that b*#ch!". One of the girls hops out and goes back in. Sara, who had just exposed herself to me, turns and says, "You seem like a normal, cool guy. Do you think my boyfriend would be ok with me bringing a girlfriend home?" Before I could give any response, out came the 3rd and 4th girl along with a 5th and 6th girl. My car seats 5 comfortably including myself, but they started jumping in. So I have 5 girls in short skirts piled on top of each other in the backseat, and one of them says, "we can't leave Stacey". Again, one jumps out and goes in for Stacey. I gathered quickly that Sara and Stacey were not besties, when Sara started calling Stacey names that made me blush! Girl #6 and Stacey come stumbling out, they walk to the back of my car, open the hatch and fall inside. Girl #5 jumps out, closes the hatch, gets in and yells, "Lets Roll Bitches!" Normally I would not allow this, but I checked the destination they entered, and it was about 1 mile away. I figured I could get them all there quickly and safely, so I started driving. Sara and Stacey instantly began screaming at each other about who knows what. Girl number 2 tells me I need to turn right at the light, which is the opposite direction from what I have as the destination. Turns out Sara put in the wrong address, and they want to go downtown. I went ahead and took them. One of the girls spilled the contents of her purse all over the back floorboard. While the ladies were trying to clean up that mess, another was puking in a plastic bag she had brought with her. The sweet stank of "Elizabeth Arden, Provocative", mixed with Vomit now filled the air. I was never so happy to get rid of seven scantily clad ladies in my life.....
My next fare was a young man. For whatever reason, he gets in and sits in the seat right behind mine. As I begin to drive, he says, "Can you scoot your seat up?". I'm thinking, dude, why don't you scoot over to the vacant spot next to you and I'll move the front seat up. Then he says, "I'm 6'3", you are gonna have to scoot your seat more." I replied, "I'm 6'4" and I feel like I'm impregnating the steering wheel, I can't move the seat anymore." He did not say anything else the rest of the trip. Not long after I dropped him off, I received my first 2-star rating..... :-(
For my next adventure of the evening, I picked up two young females from Andy B's bowling center. They were mid to late 20's and all dolled up in their party dresses. One of the ladies, who the friend kept calling CiCi, explained I would be dropping her friend off and then taking her home. They were both intoxicated, though CiCi's friend, much more so. She asked if I could take her to get a $5 box at "The Bell". Oh no, flashbacks to my first night, but I replied, "Of Course." I changed direction and went to the nearest Taco Bell, got in line, and the girl says, "No, let's just go home." So I maneuvered my way out of line and we were on our way. They were both in the backseat talking about cute boys, if the girl one of them made out with was a swinger, and if it was a good idea to drink after taking back pain medications. The next thing I know, there are two feet laying on top of my right arm which is rested upon my arm rest. The friend had taken off her heels and is in some weird laying position in the back with her bare feet touching me. I'm not trying to get a 1-star rating tonight, so I just moved my arm and continued. We arrived at the friends home, they both get out and CiCi says she will walk the friend to the door and be back. These ladies made it about 3 feet, and the friend was down in the grass. CiCi tried to help her friend up, but it just wasn't happening. I had to get out and pull the girl to her feet. They somehow managed to get in the house, I delivered CiCi home safely and called it a night. I decided I'd let someone else deal with the nuttiness of the night.
I just purchase a dash cam which I really need to install. These stories would be so much better with video!
Tuesday was finally the last day of school for my kindergartener and 6th grader. My 7th grader has her last day of Summer school this Friday. I've gotta say, I'm ecstatic that I will no longer have to get up around 6:45am, and can sleep in, until 8, when Emily is ready to get up.
For about the past month, whenever that alarm screams at me to rise, I've been a complete zombie. I literally get out of bed, slip on some sandals, yell "load up" and take the kids to school. This is a complete gamble on my part, because the kids are usually not ready at all. Ive had to turn around several times to retrieve items like backpacks, socks, chrome books and lunch. Since about May 23rd, I've been shuttling the kids to school in the same outfit I roll out of bed in, which is my boxer shorts and a t-shirt. One morning last week, the boys were upset because they didn't have time to eat breakfast. I thought I would be the good Dad, and swing by the convenience store to grab them donuts on the way to school.
I dropped my daughter off to school first, then
pulled into the Caseys General store parking lot. My youngest asked, "Dad what are you doing?". I explained that I was gonna grab breakfast for them. I pulled into a spot up front, opened my car door and slowly got out. I could hear some giggling from the boys in the back seat. I figured they were playing one of the silly games they seem to wanna play way too early in the morning. I shut the door and walked into the store. I looked towards the case filled with sugary treats, and suddenly realized......oh no.....I had forgotten my glasses at home. I had gotten out of bed and failed to put them on. What an idiot!!! I'm standing there squinting, trying to figure out which delicious delights I would treat my children to, when I heard a strange voice behind me. "Did you lose your pants?", a man asked? I looked behind me to see who he was talking to and what moron was walking around without pants. As I turned towards the strange voice, I happened to look down. Oh no.....holy sh!@t!!! I was the imbecile the voice was talking to. I had completely forgotten I strolled out of the house in my undies. I've gotta believe, if my daughter were still in the car, she would not have let me exit the vehicle. My boys on the other hand, they could care less. They just thought it was Dad's newest attempt at humor.
There I am in my old, red, Adidas t-shirt, and my bright blue, striped, boxer shorts. I have a few pair that have the button on the front to keep the barn door shut. This particular pair of "Fruit of the Loom's" did not have the button. I was one awkward movement from letting the turtle poke its head out of its shell. For all I know, it had already gotten a peak. I did not say a word to the man, or anyone else, I just turned and walked out as quickly as I could. I got back into the car where my youngest was quick to point out that he wasn't the only forgetful one.
A week or so earlier, I was rushing to get the boys to their games. My 6 year old had gotten dressed, got into the car, and rode all the way to the fields before realizing he had no shoes on. Obviously, I was frustrated that I had to go back home to get his shoes. He had remembered this, and was letting me know about it.
Needless to say, I've made sure to get myself properly dressed in the morning since.
I am a model!
I am not long and lean with large muscles to coddle.
I am a man of consistency,
for I have two boys who's eyes are always on me.
You won't see me inside some fashion magazine, full of blather and twaddle,
but you may rest assured, I am a model.
I am a father to a beautiful, teenaged girly,
I'm a representation of what her future husband should be.
To three wonderful children, I am a Dad and role model.
The love and joy they provide to me, brings a warmth I wish I could forever bottle.