Saturday, October 13, 2007

Yes...I Always Do That.

Uncle Kracker has left the building!!

( least moved out of the way, that if you aren't totally sick of looking at him for the past month and a half, you have to scroll down to see him again.)



Dammit, just what I thought. Empty.

— • — • —

As some of you may know, I write a weekly column in the paper for which I work. Kind of along the same lines as this blog, where I can write about whatever strikes me, and whatever I find to ramble about for six or seven hundred words.

Thing is, the big difference between my column and this blog is that if I don't submit a column every week, it won't take too long and I'll lose it. And that space will ultimately get filled with an AP story on luxury taxes for the middle class or a recipe on how best to prepare hog jowls for the holidays.

If I take a step or two away from this blog...and then return eons's still here, waiting for me. Of course, all my readers have vanished, and I'll have to go and purchase new ones now. But the blog, that's still intact.

[Wanted: People who enjoy reading, and who have internet access, to commit to a blog whose author is fully committed to updating at least once a we..uhh...once a committed to updating on his own personal whim. Topics of conversation include hot dog gluttony, spam poetry and gospel music. Come one, come all. Next entry to be posted any time before February. Comments always welcome.]

Sometimes coming up with a column topic is about as easy as admitting aloud that I'm a Lions fan. It hurts more than a little. The weekend comes, and I start thinking I better find something to write about, and before I know it it's Sunday afternoon, and Sunday evening, and after obsessing over football scores and highlights, I think, "Uh-oh. Column!!" You can write only so many columns bashing Britney Spears or commenting on unseasonably warm weather before the natives get restless. They want content...good content. Or else they'll sue!! (I made that part up.)

But sometimes...just by going through life and keeping my eyes and ears open, my columns write themselves, with the help of some unknowing citizens. Remember the blog entry (decades ago?) about the drunk woman at the wayside who couldn't find her Saturn? I didn't drive away from that thinking, "What a kook!" The first thing that popped into my head was, "Score! My column's written!"

That's happened to me more than once, and in the interest of easing back into this blogging thing after being gone for a while, I'm going to post a few examples over the next few days in which being in the right place at the right time, and observing, got me a free pass for my column that week. Those are my favorite ones to write, too. The ones that I'm not expecting.

The first one happened a couple months ago, when I walked into a convenience store to buy a few, um, conveniences. A bag of Gummi Bears and a Vitamin Water (the yellow "energy" flavor, if you're interested in trying something that'll immediately turn you into a Vitamin Water addict).

I walked to the cashier in the tiny store, and as I placed my two items on the counter, she looked at me and asked, "Do you always do that?"

With a blank stare, unsure of how to answer her because I had no idea if I did or didn't do whatever it was she was asking, my reply was something like, "......huh?" (a scintillating conversationalist, I am not.)

"Do you always shuffle past the first item and take the second or third one behind it?"

Apparently, she'd been watching me take the Gummi Bears off of the peg. I had scanned the clear front panel of the first few bags and settled on purchasing one a couple bags deep.

"Oh, that," I said. "I was just looking for the bag with the most red and orange Gummis in it, and while I know it's probably not true, this one looked like it had more."

After a short pause, I continued, "But...yeah, come to think of it, I do always do that!"

"I do that with evvvrything," she said. "Everything."

"Well, that first one's just for display. Nobody wants that one, right?"

"Yeah," she said. "Everybody touches that one."

After our brief exchange, I walked out the door, knowing she'd just written about 80 percent of this column, and all I had to do was let it spill out of my brain. But I began to wonder how often I really do bypass the first item for one behind it or below it or next to it or...wherever.

I did it with the Gummi Bears, under the excuse that I was looking for more reds and oranges, and fewer greens and clears.

But I didn't do it with the Vitamin Water. First one in the rack is the one I grabbed.

I do it with newspapers at a newsstand. I never grab the top paper on the stack. Why is that? Better news down below? Less smudging on the newsprint, perhaps? Better coupons?? (which I don't clip anyway.) Doubtful. Just a foolish habit.

I rarely buy a loaf of bread without squeezing at least three of them. Not hard enough to put an imprint in 'em or anything. But for a quick freshness check. Sometimes I go back to the first one I squeezed, but not after I've tested one or two others.

Now that I've revealed what a totally neurotic shopper I am, I hope I don't get bombarded everywhere I go with the same vague, confusing question:

"Do you always do that?"

[coming sooner than you might think: strange ladies at deli counters, and surly fast food employees.]

"You've got bad eating habits if you
use a grocery cart in 7-Eleven, OK?"
—Dennis Miller

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