Your Best Shot


I have been playing Golf since I was a kid and I have never gotten a hole in one.

Granted I play about six rounds of golf a year and spend most of those rounds wandering through the woods looking for my ball like I am lost on a jungle expedition.

But regardless of whether I play one or twenty rounds a year, and despite the fact that it is one of the rarest possible achievements in any sport and requires a perfect confluence of factors to even be possible… every time I step up to the tee box on a par three it is all I can think about.

I tee up my ball, take my practice swings, take a deep breath and set my stance.

And then my mind goes bat shit.

Hit it go hit it hard smash it come on hole in one here we go come on man they are looking at you what the hell are you waiting for?

And that is why on most par 3s I end up hitting the ball 40 feet, or into the water, or somewhere I will never be able to find it.

I’m not sure I will ever play golf regularly enough to have a legitimate chance at a hole in one, or if I will spend the rest of my life praying that I just don’t embarrass myself.

My father on the other hand, plays golf several times a week now that he is retired.

And this past Wednesday, just a week before his 67th birthday, my father got his first hole in one.

It was in the seventh hole of the course he plays every week with his buddies. It is a hole that he has played dozens of times, wide open with swirling winds and a seemingly innocuous yet somehow magnetic lake along the left hand side that collects way more golf balls than it should.



It was a beautiful 73 degree day in South Carolina. He had already played very well on the first 6 holes of the course this particular day.

My father is a pretty cautious man when it comes to his golf game. He knows his tendencies and the bad habits he can fall into. He doesn’t overestimate his swing or his strength, and always takes maybe a little bit more club than he should. He’s practical. Not flashy.

His approach to his golf game is not unlike his approach to life.

The winds that day meant he would need some extra club so he pulled out a 5-wood which might seem like way too much club to some people. But again, he was being cautious. And while I can hit the ball farther than my father when I’m playing well, there are really no rewards that come from hitting a ball into somebody’s backyard, which is what I tend to do.

Sometimes their front yard.

But he stepped up to the tee box, kept his head down, and it happened.

He didn’t know it at first. It wasn’t until one of his buddies put his arms up in the “touchdown” signal that my father realized what had happened.

After some celebration my father’s group moved onto the next hole and continued, what turned out to be, one of the best rounds of his life.

Had he played a crap round full of deep divots and shanked shots, he could have chalked his hole in one up to luck, a fortunate turn that saved an otherwise lost round.

But that wasn’t the case. This was a great round, a phenomenal one, something he'll never forget. So it makes sense that his hole in one happened during this particular round.

Standing on the tee box I often feel myself wanting a hole in one just for the sake of being able to say I go a hole in one. I have never played well enough to warrant it but man do I crave it.

Like life, where I might crave a promotion, a prize or some other kind of incredible reward without having really earned it, I hope for that one moment, an unprompted panacea.

Sure you could chalk my father’s hole in one up to luck. I'm sure there are people who have shot 130 with a hole in one tossed in.

But this was a perfect hole in a fantastic round, a phenomenal shot on a tough hole that came as a result of the correct club selection and an undeniably perfect swing.

And I think there is so much to learn from that. In that for as much we may spend our whole lives thinking about something incredibly occurring, many times, that incredible thing doesn’t happen until the absolutely perfect moment. We can’t control when it happens, we can only hope to be present if it does.

The summary for the golf course describes hole number 7 as such:

This medium-length par three can be visually intimidating from the teeing ground. An elongated green, sternly protected by a long bunker and water on the left, makes proper club selection and flawless execution a must.  A missed shot that travels long or right of the green will leave the player with a very difficult pitch.  Bold tee shots played to the back left flag positions are risky endeavors.  A ‘3’ always looks good on the scorecard.
Yea but you know what looks even better?

‘1’

Happy Birthday Dad.

Picture of a Perfect Flight

I just bought a plane ticket to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. It is the most I have ever paid for a domestic plane ticket in my life. And it is for this reason that I will be eating air sandwiches and sneaking into movies until my bank account recovers from the hit.

Airlines make me angry. Not angry like, say, the way slow walkers piss me off. No I’m talking about feeling violated. Like I’m in an abusive relationship with somebody that I only see 6 weekends a year, but I still can’t get out of it.

Rich are you going out with Delta AGAIN?
I can’t help it. I just know we’re so good together.
The last time you were together Delta punched you in the mouth and stole your money!
You just don’t understand her. She did that out of love.

Air travel hasn’t been a pleasant experience since… well, I really can’t remember the last time it was a pleasant experience.

And certainly with the new baggage fees in play, passengers are extremely angry. I don’t know who charges what to check bags, I just don’t do it. I try to pack as little as humanly possible, and if I have to pack a lot, I jam my stuff into my carry on so tightly that I anticipate the zipper snapping off and killing somebody.

But when I have the ability to do so, I travel only with my laptop, a book, and a toothbrush.

The latest wave of airline backlash has resulted in some pretty interesting airline ads. They are getting very creative in describing just why THEIR airline is the one you should choose. And when you are on these planes they are sooo gracious.

“Thank you so much for choosing our airline.”

It is at that point that I want to stand up and say;

Excuse me, I would just like to point out that I didn’t choose this airline OK? I was forced into it by the fact that you are the only airline that cost less than 500 dollars and wasn’t leaving from New Jersey. OK? So when you say I chose you, well yea, but I also choose to go to the dentist and he regularly stabs my mouth until I bleed. So don’t get a swelled head. Airline.

Really the only interesting thing about flying is the Sky Mall magazine and half the time somebody has stolen the copy that I am supposed to read. So I just pour over the safety guide and try to imagine what the people in the pictures are saying to each other.

I wanted to take some home so I could use them in this particular post but I am not in the habit of stealing other people’s safety guides. I feel like that is really bad karma. And I also didn’t want to be the creepy guy on the plane taking pictures of the safety guide.

But I really need to express the ridiculousness of the safety guides so I googled a couple to show you just what I mean. Like this one:


It appears to say, “In case of an emergency landing, if there is a redheaded woman on the flight…. Push that bitch off the plane!”

And I really love this one.


This woman doesn’t open her eyes throughout all of the examples. As though in a time of airplane crisis its just soooo easy to find your life vest, attach it to yourself, find your way to the open door, and then strike a hip-out pose before jumping into the ocean.

Asshole.

After I am done judging the artists who try to save our lives through instructional cartoons, I start browsing the airline’s magazine. It is sometimes interesting, and usually doesn’t get me riled up. But on my last flight I realized a drastic and inexcusable bit of false advertising.

As I got to the back of the magazine where they show food and beverage items available for purchase, I realized something I had never noticed before. This image:


Now I know first class is different than coach, but I have never been on a flight where TAP BEER was an option. Unless of course they are advertising that this particular beer magically fills up a glass (and who gets a glass on a flight - its plastic cups all around friendo) twice the size of the can it came from? In which case I would like to see the science behind that.

So now I am salivating over the idea of a beer but I know the best thing to drink on a flight is water. Doctors say so. Your body needs water on a flight. So I throw back a couple of waters because I am terrified of DVT, but now I have to pee. And there are few experiences more uncomfortable than an airline bathroom.

In fact I try to avoid using them.

I am not a big person. I am not a wide person. I’m 6’2 and on the skinny side. But sweet baby Jesus, every time I have to use an airplane bathroom I have to contort my body into a series of angles and loops that are far from natural. I feel like I’m auditioning for a spot in Crap Du Soleil.


I am too tall for the bathroom though so I have to stand with my neck at a right angle. Its such an uncomfortable experience that I need a visit to the chiropractor just to undo the damage from a simple potty break.

There’s no making any of this better. It just sucks. Well, unless maybe I kept my eyes closed the whole time. Yea, maybe that will work.

How Stupid Do You Think I Am?

Ok don’t answer that.

I am aware that I don’t always make the best impression on people. It could be the reflection off my skin or the way I like to pretend strangers are my long time friends. I’m not sure what it is but I am used to getting a stare that says, “Are you stupid?”

But sometimes people have actually followed up with a question by actually asking,

“Are you stupid?”

OK, OK those things I can handle. But that’s just me. I think we as a society, and more specifically the people who are in control, are starting to think everybody else is stupid. And not just a little bit stupid… a lot bit stupid.

It’s not an aggressive assumption of stupidity; it’s a bit more subversive. You really only notice it if you are paying attention. And if you are stupid, you probably don’t pay attention, so you probably don’t realize that the people that think you are stupid are… well… thinking you are stupid!

The first time I noticed this was a couple of weeks ago when I had some friends stay with me. My friend was brushing her hair with a fine piece of hair management equipment.

I was quite impressed with it and picked it up to take a closer look when I noticed the handle was extremely squishy. It was quite a nice feeling. I am not one to brush my hair really, but this was a brush I would make an excuse to use so I could feel the squishiness of the handle. I took a closer look at the handle and noticed this:


Plasmium gel? What the hell is plasmium gel? I don’t even know if I am supposed to capitalize it, and in fact Microsoft Word is underlining it in red right now to let me know it too, has never heard of it.

Plasmium Gel? It sounds like something Astronauts rub on themselves so they don’t get a space rash.

Jim: Hey Connor my feet are itchy as hell, do you have space rash too?
Connor: Nope, I put 2 scoops of plasmium gel in my boots this morning.
Jim: You are so wise.

It’s not like hair brushes come wrapped in air tight containers where you can’t touch and feel what they are made of. The advancements in hairbrush technology have been quite limited over its lifespan. You don’t really need to oversell a hairbrush, which perhaps explains the ridiculousness of this marketing.

I have to wonder what kind of clientele they were expecting to lasso with that bit of marketing. It’s a hairbrush… not a rocket ship.

They could have just written “Feel Good Squishy” and that would probably have been enough. I don’t know what plasmium gel is so I’m not sure I would want to touch it, but feel good squishy? Oh yea. Give it here.

Recently I was down visiting my parents in South Carolina and I was hanging out at the pool. I have already detailed some questionable poolside activities here before, but I was not expecting to run into it again.

I was lounging in a chair and soaking up the sun and trying to not burn my lily white skin to an unrecognizable crisp. I decided it was about time to cool off. So I sauntered over to the edge of the pool.

Now this particular pool had a graduated entrance. So basically there was a dry ramp for about 15 feet before the water started and then it went down slowly to about 5 feet.

I was just about to make my way down the ramp when I saw this sign.


Wow.

Who the hell is diving into no feet of no water? That doesn’t even qualify as a pool. I mean is this a risk that people face daily? Are there people around the world just jumping headfirst into pavement?

I mean, by that assumption we should start putting “no diving” signs in parking lots, grocery stores, and car dealerships.

I can even understand the no diving sign in the 1 foot of water because OK maybe your eyesight is bad and you think it is deeper than it looks. But 0 feet of water. I mean if you can’t tell there is no water there you either don’t understand the concept of swimming or you are blind. And if this sign were in fact intended for blind people, it would have been in Braille, but it was NOT in Braille. I checked.

So I was left with the conclusion that either somebody had dove headfirst into the no water before, or the management did not think the swimming public could be trusted to not dive into the no water.

Shortly thereafter I was about to open up a new toothbrush (yes I know, I enjoy good dental hygiene) and not really paying any specific attention to the packaging. It was a normal toothbrush. In fact I even took a picture of it.


I was struggling to open it (sometimes I have issues) when I noticed a tiny, tiny bit of writing in red right near the base of the toothbrush. And do you know what it said?

It said, in tiny nearly unreadable red lettering: “toothbrush.”

Ohhhhh OK. Thanks for that.

What idiot is turning this over in their hand wondering what it could be? Who is this writing for? Aliens? Distant tribes who just happen to speak English but don’t recognize toothbrushes? I can only imagine the conversation taking place in the grocery store.

Jeb: Hey ma, I wanna buy this here thing.
Ma: What all you got there?
Jeb: It’s like a stick, but it’s got like some bristly things at the end.
Ma: A bristly ended stick? Sounds like the devil’s work. Does it say anything on it?
Jeb: Don’t know, I can’t read good.
Ma: Give it here. OH OK, see here at the bottom it says, Toothbrush.
Jeb: Ohhhh… does it have a plasmium handle?

Or something like that.

I'm Done

I've come to a decision: I'm ready to retire.

Now I know what you are thinking. "Rich you are too young and full of pep and zest to head south for the rest of your life!" But I really don't think I am. I've taken stock of the things I enjoy in my life, and the things I would be able to do as a retiree, and aside from the fact that I have no idea how I would be able to support myself financially... I really do think it is about time for me to retire.

As I cross the hump from my early 20s into my late 20s, I have started to wonder: shouldn't I be a millionaire already?

When I was in my teens I looked at 25 as the pinnacle of my life. That would be the year of my prime, the year in which I was wanted by gorgeous women, making tons of money and reveling in my success.Well since rounding 26 and heading deeper into this decade of my life, I realize the only gorgeous women who want me are those who need a jar of jelly opened. I certainly don't make tons of money. And after some unmet expectations, I have redefined success as getting through the whole day with my fly closed.

So if I can't have the life I had anticipated, I might as well fast forward to the end of this movie and head right into retirement. I think it is really the best option at this point.

My parents are retired and living in South Carolina. This is a fine place to retire. Visiting them makes me realize that while I may have to give up certain things I enjoy to live in a place like they do, the benefits to my life would far outweigh any losses I would suffer.

Here is why I think I should retire.

While I enjoy an active and engaging lifestyle I also really like doing nothing. Not the kind of nothing that involves bumming around the house, fiddling with this and that. No. I mean nothing! Staring out the window at a tree kind of nothing. Doing so much nothing that I fall asleep because I am so relaxed. That is the kind of nothing I can really sink my teeth into.

Here is a rough itinerary for the days I typically spend visiting my parents.

Wake up, eat, golf, eat, nap, eat, watch TV, read, eat, sleep.

This is by far the most beautiful schedule I have ever seen. Picasso couldn't have painted a better schedule if he put its nose on the side of its face. Now the activities may switch place or occur in a different order, and once in a while there will be something additional like "shopping" or "visit Savannah" or "eat thirty cookies" thrown in. But for the most part, the schedule here is pretty accurate.

I would like to take this moment to point out that the golf is not a fixed structure on the calendar. While I generally enjoy golf I am so bad at it I really do question why I continue to play. It is a sport that entails a fair amount of adding. And the way I swing the club I have to do a lot of adding. The ball never goes in a straight path. And I usually end up spending half the day walking around the woods like I'm trailing Sacagawea.

Retirement relaxes you... I'm guessing. At least I feel relaxed when I am pretending I am retired. The only reason I even wear my watch when I visit is to make sure I didn't miss my tee time. Otherwise who needs a watch? What was I going to miss? It is always time to eat a cookie and take a nap. Always.

And as for my phone I just leave it in my room. Nobody calls me. The only person that calls me is my friend Megan and I'm pretty much the only person that calls her. So if we both walked around without our phones the only thing we would be wondering about is what the other person is doing.

In fact a lot of the time I turn my phone off. Why not? Nobody is going to call me to ask me to have dinner or hang out or anything like that. All my friends are 800 miles away. Who is calling me? Phone, you can be turned off.

I want to lead a life like these dogs I saw in the backyard of one of the houses on the golf course.


Any place where dogs hang out on lounge chairs has to have something really special about it.

Now maybe you think I am going to miss out on some really important things by skipping right to retirement.

Like what?

Working for 40 more years? Pass. Fighting commuters, crazy cab drivers, and mass hordes or tourists? Pass. Battling the freezing cold? Really pass.

The only concern I have is how I will support myself financially. And to be honest I really don't know how I will do it. But I'm sure there is a lot of money to be made in the untapped market of opening jars for old ladies. And as long as my fly stays up, I will have all the success I need.

Be Nice and Say Cheese

Manners: They are rare and elusive like a good doctor or a unicorn. While I would like to think I am a patient and loving person, I constantly find myself bemoaning the lack of manners and politeness in society.

For instance, I get all silently bitchy if I hold open the door for somebody and don't receive a thank you.

"You're welcome" I'll mutter extremely sarcastically to myself like a cranky old woman before storming off, all the while complaining about the deteriorating quality of the human race.

Now I know I can be a bit extreme about some things but I don't think I'm alone on this one. If you are looking for a conversation starter just mention how somebody was rude to you recently and you will light one hell of a fuse. The funny thing is those people who love to talk about their personal indignation were probably the same people who didn't say thank you when somebody else held open a door for them.

Bastards.

But I digress.

Now I think big cities get an unnecessarily bad rap, especially New York. Something about the hustle and bustle and the constant motion can be a little off-putting to people who are not used to it. Eight million people in a hurry to get where they need to go can come off as rude.

And aside from the staff at Trader Joe's (the people there are so dang friendly) I rarely walk out of a clothing or grocery store and think to myself, "Wow, the friendliness and eye contact of the sales staff in there was incredible!"

And I love living in New York. The energy, the opportunities, all of it is fantastic. But as I have detailed several dozen times in this blog, sometimes even this native New Yorker can lose his cool living there.

It usually happens on the subway when I'm in a pissy mood because I burnt my Ego or something. I'll be standing on the subway and some Neanderthal is pushing thorough the train car without regard for anybody and I think "If I just leaned my knee out a little bit they would trip and it wouldn't really be my fault."

Then I catch myself and realize I am a bad person. And I realize I need to get away.

I then usually take some time off to visit my parents in South Carolina where things are quite the opposite of what they are in New York. Things move slower. People are good natured and jovial. OK maybe not jovial, but the sales staff in stores are strikingly friendly. So friendly in fact, that it confuses me sometimes.

My dad and I went into the grocery store to get some lunch meat for, well, lunch. He was already at the deli counter when I met up with him and as I walked up to the counter the meat slicing lady said, "I will be right with you sir." I paused for a moment and looked around slightly confused. Who was she talking to? Was she talking to me? I hadn't even spoken to her. Why was she acknowledging my presence if I hadn't made some sort of a complaint or yelled at her.

I smiled to myself and just enjoyed the moment. It was so polite of her to acknowledge my presence without any precursor. Just, oh there is a human, let me make him feel welcome. This is a stark contradiction to when I normally go buy lunch meat and have to throw multiple bags of pumpernickel in the air just to get someone to notice me.

After I got over my flusterment I watched as the deli lady sliced a half pound of yellow American cheese for us and do something extraordinary.

First of all she sliced one piece of cheese and then asked me if I would like a sample.

Of course I would like a sample!

In the history of my life there have almost no instances where I didn't want to taste a sample. In fact when I was a kid, my friend Mike and I would walk around the food court at the mall feeding ourselves exclusively on samples.

I did this same thing in my college years at Costco around lunch time. But there you have to battle the old fogies who line up 20 minutes early for a cocktail weenie or a crab puff.

So back to my deli lady who is offering me a sample. And not just one sample, but for every single meat and cheese we ordered (4 in total) she offered up a sample. I should have just held up a sign like Wile E. Coyote that said "Yes I would like a sample" so she didn't have to ask.

But then she did her most magnanimous act of all. She finished slicing the cheese and put it on the scale to make sure it was indeed a half pound like we had ordered. Seeing that the weight was just slightly over the correct amount she took 2 slices off the pile, weighed it again, printed out the ticket, and then added those slices back onto the pile.

In essence what she had done was not charged us for some cheese.

She had given us FREE CHEESE!

This woman was a vision. A meat slicing prodigy. I wanted to take her home with me and install her at my local grocery store where they don't even look at me unless I happen to actually be laying down on the counter.

Now I'm not saying people in New York aren't friendly. You meet plenty of sparkling personalities in my dazzling city. But sometimes you forget just how nice people can be.

And you certainly forget what it is like to get some free cheese!

I really shouldn't' have been caught off guard by such a small gesture. I shouldn't have whispered to my dad, "Hey dad did you see what she did? Did you see?!" But I did. Now I'm not suggesting that everyone give away free delectable sandwich products. But I think it does say something about a slower pace of life where people are friendly and go the extra mile with you.

So for these reasons and several more, I have decided I am ready to retire.

To be continued...

Airports Part 2 - Depression

My favorite thing about visiting my parents at “the resort” is the fact that I have an entire wardrobe and nearly all my necessary toiletries down there, so I don’t need to pack much to go. I just grab a backpack and I’m off.

I though this would simplify the entire process thereby eliminating things that could go wrong during travel.

Incorrect.

My 6 am flight from Savannah was due to arrive in New York at 8 am. But due to inclement weather we were forced into a holding pattern.

After 30 minutes of essentially flying in circles the pilot came on the speaker and basically said, “We’re about to run out of fuel so we’re going to go ahead and land in Baltimore.”

This began my 12 hour delay.

On this particular flight there was an especially annoying individual wearing a Bluetooth headset the whole time. I will refer to this gentleman as a WMD or Weapon of Mega Dooshdum.

I’m almost sure he would have been sitting in first class had our plane been larger than a hot pocket.

After we landed in Baltimore, everyone was worried about whether or not would be taking off in this plane again or getting on a new plane. This is when the WMD spoke up and said, “I just got off the phone with the platinum desk, this plane isn’t going anywhere.”

Ooo you got off the phone with the platinum desk? Everyone come and listen, Ezekiel is back with tales from the Platinum desk!

What else did the platinum desk tell you? How to solve the sub prime lending crisis? The name of the next American Idol? When Jesus would return?

I would have continued to focus my hate on him but of course, the woman sitting behind me was screaming in Spanish into her phone. The plane was completely still, no engine noise, there was no crisis and no need for yelling. But she apparently felt her speaking voice Spanish was not appropriate and instead was using her tornado warning Spanish.

I then realized what I don’t like about flying.

It’s the people. They are everywhere. Being weird. Being abnormal. Being creepy. I would not be bothered by flying as much if I got to do it, say, in my own plane, by myself.

I hung out in the airport for a couple of hours while angry passengers yelled at unsuspecting gate agents who were doing their damndest to help them. One woman was yelling at this particular gate agent about how this was the 3rd time this happened to her and blah blah blah.

She kept yapping until I said;

“SHUT THE HELL UP AND GO LAY ON THE TARMAC!”

Well not quite but I did tell her to leave the poor gate agent alone. I am so very brave.

If you take a look around an airport you realize this is no longer the golden age of travel. People don’t travel in suits and elegant leisurewear. They travel in whatever they found on the floor when they woke up that morning. I saw a man in a purple t-shirt whose belly was so big I thought he was wearing a prosthetic.

Perhaps he had some sort of silicone belly implant? There was no way one belly could stick out so far. It was only for the fact that his shirt stuck out so far I could see his bare flesh exposed underneath it that I realized this was no prosthetic. It was like a belly penthouse.

Beautiful.

I found out I had 7 hours until my new flight to New York, so I decided to take a shuttle bus to a train into D.C. to go see the Cherry Blossoms. I figured this would get me away from the crazies and the hideousity.

Incorrect.

In the fully packed Amtrak waiting room I came across another prized individual.

This gentleman sat across from me (also with a belly penthouse), directly in front of a brightly lit vending machine. He sat there cross eyed and absolutely transfixed by the colorful offerings available inside that magical glass box. I thought he was going to try and make a withdrawal from one of the many shelves when he made another decision.

You know how sometimes you cough up a little bit of phlegm, but you just deal with it because you are not in a place where you can get rid of it?

The gentleman sitting not 4 feet across from me in the Amtrak station waiting room did not think this was one of those places. So I watched him, cough, gag, and then let loose a horrific dribble of phlegm that fell like an autumn leaf and landed between his feet on the floor.

Beautiful.

He didn’t even try to hide it. His basic philosophy appeared to be, “I’m gross, everybody watch.”
So I took the train into Union Station in D.C. and in an effort to save money (I’m becoming cheaper by the day) I walked 45 minutes to the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms, and the sun came out and it was beautiful. I sat strolled and took pictures such as this one.




And then it started to pour on me. I didn’t have an umbrella. So I walked the 45 minutes back to Union Station where I bought an Amtrak ticket back to Baltimore, which I then immediately dropped on the floor and didn’t realize until I heard over the loud speaker;

“Would Mr…. Bo-em-key please pick up his ticket at the information desk.”

Damn it.

Back on the train to the shuttle bus to the airport where I checked in for my 6 o’clock flight, and went through security. I sat down in the waiting area for a while, and was walking to my gate when a woman ran up to me and said, “Sir! You dropped this!”

It was my plane ticket.

Double damn it.

I was starting to think maybe someone or something was trying to stop me from going home. But 14 hours later I made it. Which means it took me an hour LONGER to fly home than it would have to drive.

Forget airplanes. Forget travel. Next time I’m just going to stay home and grow a belly penthouse.

Signs of the Times

As a New Yorker, I have grown quite accustomed to signs throughout the city telling me what to do and how to live my life. Some of them are very important (Trains do not stop at this track) some of them are just plain confusing (No Standing) but they all carry some bit of value.
I realize it is important to read these signs. I read all of the signs that I see. It is because of this that I know that subway litter causes track fires. I always mind the gap, and I typically wait for the little white man to appear before I cross the street. I believe if someone took the effort to craft a sign to educate me about something, it is my duty to abide by it.
That is, until I went to visit my mother in South Carolina.
I was looking forward to a couple of days down south, a little golf, a little southern cooking, and a whole lot of relaxation. I fully expected to be seduced by the slower pace of life, and the southern drawl that infuses every word. And I was, but what I did NOT expect, was to be completely baffled by the signage. I guess when life moves that slow you can both dwell on insignificant details, and completely miss the important ones.
There are actually 2 signs in particular that can pretty much sum up my entire time in the swamps of South Carolina.
My first encounter was at a gated community of my parents’ friends. There is a small fenced-in pool for residents and their guests to use. It was a nice little facility that was quite empty when my mother and I rolled up for a swim. I am always curious how late things are open so I walked over to the pool rules to see what the last swim time was. Imagine my surprise when I saw rule number 6:
Persons with diarrheal illness or nausea should not enter the pool.
For me, if I have either of those things I typically don’t stray far from my favorite toilet. But I could understand their worries about small children leaving deposits in the pool. I guess nothing should be taken for granted. However rule 7 kicked it up a notch:
Persons with skin, eye, ear, or nasal infections should not enter the pool.
Isn’t this common sense? I know how painful it is when you get chlorine in your eyes, or water stuck in your ear. I can only imagine how it would feel if you had an infection. But the one that took the cake was rule number 8:
Persons with open lesions or wounds should not enter the pool.
Open lesions or wounds? OPEN LESIONS OR WOUNDS? Is this a housing development or a leper colony? Who the hell is walking around with an open lesion thinking to themselves, “Hmm, you know what would feel good right now is the incredible burning sensation of some pool chlorine in my exposed flesh.”
Come on. I am not sure if the pool manager once managed a pool for an amputee hospital or an STD clinic, but I did not feel some of his rules were needed.
I fully expected rule number 9 to say:
Persons with gout, scarlet fever, or the Black Death should also not enter the pool.
But it didn’t.
The other sign that had me wondering was a lot more cut and dry. It was on a local highway from Savannah back to Hilton Head, on a road that had more than a few creepy broken down trailers along its side. And then I saw it. On a big piece of white wood maybe 4 feet in width, written in black spray paint:
FRESH SHIMP
Really? That is your sign? Your entire business is comprised of people seeing your sign and then driving down a dirt road to your apparent “Shimp” stand. Don’t you think you would have taken at least a second glance at it? To be honest, at that point, it really doesn’t matter how amazing your product is, you could have “Magical Talking Shimp” if you cannot even spell the name of your product, it is going to put a serious dent in your drive by customer traffic.
It is not even the spelling mistake that gets me, because we have all stopped something in the middle, walked away from it, and then come back to finish it while forgetting a letter or a word. That is fine. But this did not appear to be a new sign. This sign had been hanging for a while. Literally thousands of people had seen it. The owner had to have seen it every single day.
He must have thought, “Well gosh, I spent 3 minutes spray painting it, and another 2 minutes nailing it to that tree… I couldn’t possibly spend 9 seconds drawing an R into there. No, I will just leave it and hope for the best.”
Hey, if it works for him it works for me. Just don’t expect me to stop my car to support the local economy. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to check myself for open wounds and lesions.