Sunday, May 27, 2012


Summer mode means being home more.  It doesn't mean no work, contrary to popular opinion (and since when did those opinions become outrageously anti-teacher?  Whoopsie....getting into a completely different mad rants now...oosah  oosah....).  I'm working on nine projects.  Nine.  But being home means no dealing with traffic and no dealing with, hmm, what do you call those things?  Oh, yes, people. Being home means having the freedom to make my own schedule.  That means that I can cater my schedule better to see Eddie and hang out with Eddie and occasionally help Eddie with the business.

I kept Tuesday free so I could drive around with Eddie to do the collections.  Every Tuesday, he collects money for the bread he sold that week.  It's also the day he collects returns.  Because bread?  Is returnable

And so, I got a taste of the bread business in the figurative sense, the literal sense having been covered over these past few months by way of delicious carbs parading through my front door through the kitchen and into my mouth.

The daytime business, in my mind, should have been uneventful.  Sure, at night the crazies come out, flinging things and yelling and crying and boozing.  (I keep telling Eddie that he should just sell bread out of his truck to drunk people on the streets who are coming out of clubs--drunk people will pay anything for food.  I know because I used to be one of those people in my younger and more intoxicated days).

The daytime business turned out to be quite different from what I'd imagined:

1. People simply cannot drive.  Double-parking I understand.  What I don't understand is people who don't know how to change lanes blocks before seeing double-parked cars up ahead, the ones who cut me off at the last second, finally realizing within inches of another car's bumper, oh this car is not moving and that's why its hazards are on.  Also: the changing of the lanes on the parkway has become a kind of production of slowly grazing across the lines and moving back and then grazing again until the lane feels just right.  Also: not speeding but the opposite--lollygagging at 20 mph when the speed limit is 50 and we're in the middle lane and cars are whipping by on either side and there's no way to get out of it.  Also: speeding on side roads where there's barely room for one car to go through safely.  Also: just stupid people.

2. Lifetime Movies are right: teenagers are obsessed with fighting and recording it on their cell phones.  We pulled up to a deli and there was a crowd of kids there, yelling.  I told Eddie, please don't get out of the car.  He shrugged and waited.  I didn't know if there were weapons there.  In watching the situation unfold, he was like, Now you're really seeing Brooklyn the way I grew up.  I kind of was, only when he grew up, there were no cell phones and kids weren't kind of fighting--when he grew up, they fought over more important things than "let's get famous on YouTube."  In any case, this was a real fight between two girls.  Mostly, it was yelling and onlookers egging them on.  From what I gathered, one girl really wanted to fight and the other kind of did but kind of didn't.  All this was blocking the doorway to the deli, which was closed with a man standing against it, occasionally opening it to look on and then go back inside.

One girl called out what time it was.  Apparently, they all had to get back to class soon and didn't want to be in trouble.  Seriously.  They're tough enough to beat each other up but they are scared of being late because they fear their teacher. 

One girl wound up, we think, dragging the other girl.  The group moved away from the door.  Eddie went into the deli.  That's about the time the group ran down the side block.  That's also about the time the cops arrived having been called by the deli. 

3. When we arrived at a super market, we stood to the side waiting for a  manager.  In that time, a homeless man wearing a jacket of the market was pulling on some woman's shopping cart.  One of the managers told him to let go because her purse was in the cart.  He was like, No man, I just want to help.  The woman took her purse from the cart and the guy started wheeling the cart for her out of the store as the cashier hit him with a stack of plastic bags, just wailed him once on the back of the neck.  When he came back in, he leaned up against a closed check out counter.  A Styrofoam cup on the counter apparently had some change in it because in under three seconds, he shook it, flipped it, took the change, and put the cup back to where it had been.

4. On the way home, two crazy crackheads were not only walking in the street, but were yelling at each other across the cars that were zooming by.

In the midst of all this, Eddie got his work done, skimming almost an hour off his usually time because I'd been driving.  Now that I've had time to process it all, I'm wondering really what's in store for when I accompany him on the truck at night.  Hmmm, maybe I'll have to work that night.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's Still A Party When The Ice Is Empty

What do you do when your team is in the Stanley Cup playoffs but they aren't playing at home?  Simple.  You go to the home arena anyway and watch the game for free up on the big screen.  Yeah, that's right.  MSG for FREE.  We also got towels for FREE.  We sat in cushy seats way down by the ice for FREE.  Eddie's friend Big Puma sent us on this little FREE excursion to the viewing party, and party party it was, complete with John Amaranti singing the National Anthem in person.  Also in person?  The boom guy who slipped on the ice and fell over as he sang.  Ah, falling.  It's the funniest thing in the world.

Between periods, the entertainment team--one of whom is an Asian chick who I think was on a reality show at some point in time--kept us occupied with interviews of old players.  Unfortunately, I couldn't understand one thing that they said, but it was nice that they were there.  Also between periods was a mini-hockey game played by very tiny people, some would call them children, who could skate and score better than I ever could.  One of them was really good at face-planting, but he was still eons better than I could be.  The game was my kind of game--no stopping, constant scoring, lots of falling, everybody wins.

It was like a real game.  There was cheering.  There was booing.  There was some cursing.  There was a fight in the stands.  There were really, really long lines at the concession stands.  There was dancing and singing.  There were people making enough commotion to get themselves up on the big screen when there was no hockey action going on.  There was a guy in front of us walking around with an inflatable Stanley Cup (which we later found out was fifty bucks, which is pretty hefty for something that could double as a poolside toy). 

This guy was there.  It made me happy.  I'm not sure why.

More importantly, there were contests.  They had a few people come out to center ice to slide a puck into a small slot seemingly miles away.  One guy did it and won tickets to some game.  Another contest was based on randomly choosing seats to see who could win a family gift pack of tickets.  Every time they called a seat number, we were like, why isn't it ours.  Then after we'd moved over two sections to see the screen better, we heard the announcer announce not only the section we'd been sitting in, but the seat that one of Eddie's friends had been sitting in.  We all looked at each other.  Ummm, he would've won the tickets. 

It was like some odd hockey version of Final Destination.  Moral of the story: don't change your seat.

And on the way out, my wish to steal the balloons that were waving in arches along the seats became a reality for someone else.  Some dude found a way to cut the balloons off of the railing and take them with him.  There he was, big doofy man, with a big doofy bunch of balloons trailing behind him.  The security guy followed him for a while but then came back, mumbling, I'm not gonna fight with him about balloons.  Heh heh.  I wonder if he made it to the train.

The only aspect of the night that was disheartening was my dream of riding a zamboni still being a dream.  All these little kids get to ride it.  Why can't I?  We're all about the same size.  They're out there for quite some time.  It's actually a bit of work to ride the zamboni.  Those kids are forced to wave the whole time.  You can see that when they stop waving, the driver leans over and whispers something.  Then suddenly, the kids are back to waving more frantically than ever.  I think I'd excel at that, and the driver wouldn't even have to remind me to do it.
Heh heh.  We look great, huh?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thirsty?: A Story of Traffic

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Belt Parkway, Bensonhurst, BrooklynWe're not sure what started it.  We think it was a merging issue.  The Belt has construction and narrow lanes and not many drivers follow the speed limit nor do they heed warnings or abide by common courtesy.  All this makes for an entertaining if not thrilling ride from Long Island to Brooklyn, thrilling in the sense of "I'm going to die," of course.

Eddie and I are in his Cruz, jamming to some Hot 97, short-sleeved shirts on, sun setting, stopping and going with the stuttering flow of cars and trucks and motorcycles.  We're in a good groove of dropping off invoices together so we can spend time together on our very opposite schedules.  Car time is our time.  His car smells like bread.  It's better than motor oil.

From the right, we see a silver-white sporty coup careening through the lanes, from right lane to middle to left and then back to middle.  Then from the right, we see a large tractor-trailer truck thing also veering over into the right lane from the ramp and then into the middle and then back to the right.

And then, from this tiny car low to the ground, from the driver's side across through the passenger's side window, we see a Poland Spring bottle fly out and up.  Not only does the bottle hit the truck, it hits the driver of the truck square on the forearm that is resting on the ledge of the open window.  It's not one of those small
20 oz bottles.  It's that large-drink-your-day's-worth-of-water-from-one-bottle sized bottle.  It hit him hard enough to bounce off and arc back over the middle lane and back towards the left lane, the bottle eventually resting for a second before being crushed by oncoming tires.

It's a physics miracle.

The truck driver?  Not happy about this turn of events.  The car driver had been yelling something as he threw the bottle--one-handed, I might add.  The truck driver had been yelling back.  He stopped mid-yell as the bottle hit him and he punched at it to get it away. 

The truck driver begins yelling more.  The car driver hears none of it because he's now weaving in and out of traffic, trying to get wherever he needs to get without being slowed down by silly things like laws and the threat of danger.

Not to be treated in such a manner, the truck driver decides that his truck is not a truck but is also a tiny sporty coup.  In this delusion, he continues waving his arm out his open window and yelling whatever it is he's been yelling as he ignores the lines in the road and acts as if the Belt Parkway is now one very wide lane meant for him only.  He starts weaving in and out of cars, chasing down the guy in the sports coup.

The truck--by another miracle--holds its own and almost catches up to the car. 

Eddie and I in our Cruz have turned our attention away from our late-day groove towards a play by play of our live and up-close version of Cannonball Run: The Water Bottle Debacle. We lose sight of the car and the truck around a curve, but then I see the truck ahead of us, getting off at our exit. 

Eddie speeds up to the exit to follow the truck, but the light at the end of the street is green and the truck is long gone.  We don't know the fate of the car, but I'm guessing it either made it to the Verrazano before the truck could catch it or it got off at our exit before the truck and the truck is still hunting him down, perhaps to thank him for the water. Maybe that's what he'd been yelling and why he'd been chasing: manners.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

No Horse No Boxer

I hate horses.  This should be no surprise.  I know I've said this before.  Every time I start reading a story or a poem and a horse enters, I stop reading.  Every time I see a picture of a horse, I cluck my tongue and roll my eyes.  I really don't know where my aversion came from.  I do know that it's a pretty strong aversion.

Except for when those horses are set up at the gate and ready to run in a circle and possible win me money.

And so, as the Kentucky Derby fell on Cinco de Mayo, I found myself mixing Crystal Lite Mojito with Bacardi Rum from the freezer, OTB bet in hand. 

I don't choose horses based on the odds.  I refuse to even look at the odds.  I choose horses based on their names.  I chose El Padrino, thinking that it's a Spanish name and Mexicans speak Spanish, so it fit the day.  That's the definition of logic.

Eddie chooses horses based on odds as well as how the name would sound being yelled by the announcer as it came down the home stretch.

Everyone else randomly chose horses based on their own systems.  Everyone else pertains SMM and AF, J and C, and S and R, who we scrounged up at the last minute when Eddie found out he could get a driver for the night.  We threw together some crackers and cheese and called it a get-together.

We watched the race on delay because no one could show up until after 7 and Eddie had to make a trip to Brooklyn and back, so I was on media blackout, not wanting to find out who won before we watched.

We fast-fowarded through the hours of coverage.  We watched the race.  I lost.  Miserably.  My horse, I think, is still rounding the bend to the final stretch. His name didn't even come up once during the commentary.  I had flashbacks to last year's Preakness when my horse had a fever and then didn't want to even get into the gate.  The only difference?  That horse won.

Cutting my losses, we turned to boxing.  Mayweather was fighing Cotto.  The only thing I know about boxing is that the object is to beat the living crap out of someone else.  I understand why you have to be fit to do so, but I don't understand why the point of a sport needs to be to pummel someone.  Why can't they punch the punching bag and judge by the impact?  Or maybe they can each have a crack at the strong man game--just take the booth from the local carnival, put it in the ring, and try to make the bell go ding.  Just a thought.

So we watched the fight and it was filled with swollen faces and Justin Bieber.  That kids is everywhere.  I didn't bet on the boxing match, though.  I'd rather take my chances on the horses.  Maybe I'll eventually learn to like them.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

And The Grand Prize Is....Nothing

Stupid stupid TD Bank is so, so stupid

That sentence is years of higher education in creative writing put to excellent use. However, no other word describes TD Bank as precisely as "stupid."  Here's why:

Eddie and I were standing in line for the longest time as usual.  They had two tellers and a long, long line and no one seemed to be moving.  We'd already visited the coin machine and had our ticket.  We weren't able to guess the amount of change within 1.99 so we didn't win a prize. 

When we finally got up to the teller, Eddie said we're making a cash deposit.  He had bills and he had dollar coins.  She told us we need to use the machine for the dollar coins, too.  I took the coins over to the machine.  I had time to put them through because the bank has no machine counter, and that means the teller has to manually count all the dollar bills.  There was even enough time for the machine to break down--as it always does--and to be fixed.

Because we'd separated the dollar coins from everything else, we knew exactly how much money was in the bag.  So when Penny the Animated Blonde Girl at the Penny Arcade Machine asked if I'd like to take a guess as to how much money we had in coins, I entered the EXACT AMOUNT, which is well within 1.99  because it is EXACT.

Penny congratulated me as my ticket printed because I'd guessed the right amount.  She told me that I would get a prize when I got to the teller.

I handed over the receipt to Eddie.  I'm a winner! I said quite loudly so pretty much everyone in the bank hear me.  He handed the receipt to the teller who had finally finished counting and seemed unimpressed with my winner-status.

She handed us a receipt of deposit. 

That?  Was apparently our prize because we got nothing else.  No lollipop that she could have simply plucked out of the lollipop holders that stand at either end of the teller counter and are covered in dust because no one in their right mind and even in their not so right mind would eat them.  No change purse.  Not even an extra penny.  The next time I go to the Penny Arcade, I might punch animated Penny in her animated face.  Or I'll punch this guy:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

All About The Bread Business

Bread is returnable.

That is one of the many facts I never even thought of thinking about yet have learned over the past few months. Eddie and I took the Now Or Never Approach to attain one of his goals in owning a bread route, something he had done before when he was like 19 or 20. He'd told me stories about how he and his friend would pile up bread in the van and in one of their cars, drive around and deliver it like maniacs, buy some butter, have a snack, and then go out to the club.

My how things have changed in the bread business since then. Now, the bakery has more than three types of bread.

There are over 4000 types of bread. Guestimating based on what I've learned so far.

The bakery he bought the route from has an online system of inputting orders. Every day, some orders change. Every day, some orders stay the same. Every day, invoicing must happen prior to inputting orders. Every day, calls need to be made to some places, sometimes to simply remind them that they need to call back to place their order. All this needs to happen in a window of about two hours. There are over 45 stores involved. It's all very confusing.

Bread is yummy. Okay, that's more of an opinion, but I've never been a big bread-eater, and now, I'm telling Eddie to stop bringing home certain breads because I will devour them all in one sitting. On the list: croissants, pretzel croissants, cranberry pecan heros, wheat bread heros, and sweet rolls. Also: bagels of any kind.

There's always extra bread. Fact. We don't know where it comes from. We don't know how it happens. It just is. Maybe something magic happens in the box when no one is looking and the yeast just reproduces.

Eddie is a good samaritan. We've been giving the extra bread to my dad who volunteers at the church's pantry. The sisters there are very happy about the shelves being stocked with bread. We also distribute bread to the neighbors and to the people who work around the corner at the school my mom retired from last year. Everyone is very happy about the bread. On some Mondays, I bring bread to work. Sometimes people eat it. Sometimes they don't. It's a crap shoot.

Probably the most harrowing times thus far have involved vehicles. One night, I went into Brooklyn with Eddie to drop off invoices for a driver who drives the route for him once a week (when he collects, he drives the route all night and then goes straight to collecting during the day, so he's awake for over 24 hours straight, so finding someone to drive the next night is kind of helpful--also, when he collects money, he also collects the bread that the store is returning. Because bread? Is returnable). He was organizing the back of the truck. I climbed into the back and swept. He said, Hey this is our truck honey! Yeay. We own a massive truck filled with crumbs. Also? Kind of exciting.

Until the truck decided it did not want to cooperate. A truck with a flat tire at 2 AM is not a good situation. Even in New York, where everything is always open, he could not find someone to help with the flat for about an hour.

A few days later while collecting, his car got towed. He needs to collect from a restaurant where there's virtually no parking. He hopped out for a minute and the guy already had it up on the tow truck by the time Eddie came out. The woman at the restaurant followed Eddie out, screaming at the tow truck guy about how he was mean and needed to put Eddie's car down.

The next day, Eddie got a parking ticket while he was unloading bread at the super market.

And then, the truck stopped working. Transition kaput. Over and done. Thankfully, it happened right after he finished his deliveries for the day. He's now using a brand new truck, bakery-owned, that does not chug chug chug along but actually runs well and doesn't gulp gas. The first night the truck was used, it was by the other driver; during that run, all the racks the bakery had put into the new truck from the old collapsed. The driver told Eddie it was a good thing Eddie wasn't driving because, as a new comer, he probably would have panicked. Agreed. Eddie got his friend to install new racks and the truck is stylin and functional.

New trucks are better than old trucks.

The best part about the business is the stories. Eddie has encountered many new people, most of which are not the kind he would seek out. The stories are wonderful. In the first week of the route, he got a hug from a drunk homeless man who then tried to steal bread off of the truck. Since then, he's encountered a hooker who asks for bagels and then complains if the bagels aren't cinnamon raisin, many drunk people who shout out Yo Breadman!, a woman who screamed out "We should all be like Michael Fuckin' Jackson!" as she roamed the neighborhood, a guy running with a pipe, a guy running after the guy running with the pipe, and several people who ask, hey do you have any bread?

People like free bread.

We're getting into the groove of things. I've helped him figure out how to use Excel with my very limited knowledge of it. What used to take hours to complete now takes a little under one. We both know the bagel order by heart. He can tell the difference between two types of bread by their weight when they look exactly alike--and a lot of bread looks exactly alike. It's a niche business. It's an art.