Stories that don't fit into any of the other categories and are about living the dream :)

SEP
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Sometimes You Have To Be Careful Not To Jump To Conclusions

It is popular these days to bash younger people. It is also easy these days – thanks to thousands of hot takes you can read on social media at any given hour – to form a mindset of quickly jumping to conclusions.

And then you meet a young man like I did today named Javier.

It occurred when I was bringing my car in for regular service at the Tysons Corner Mercedes dealership. I refer to it as my “annual hosing by Mercedes” because maintenance is not cheap and they generally find something that keeps the bill around $1,000. It comes with owning a Mercedes I’ve always thought. First world problem, just accept it and get it over with.

I’m new to the Tysons dealership, and certain things about it are unimpressive. I own three cars, with the other two being a Lexus and a Volkswagen, and the other two dealerships make waiting for maintenance as painless as possible. Lexus and Volkswagen provide coffee machines, snacks, fruit, ice cream, free wi-fi, several different televisions on different channels…all the things that can make time go by quicker.

Mercedes – one of the crown jewels of luxury brands – had a coffee machine. Period. They had areas for snacks, doughnuts, etc. but they were not stocked. The men’s bathroom was filthy. There was no wifi. The guy sitting next to me said Mercedes’ wifi was listed as Penske – why you’d use Penske when you have a brand name like Mercedes is beyond me – “but don’t bother,” he said. “It doesn’t work.”

A few minutes later I offered him the password to the hotspot on my phone so at least we both could access the internet with our laptops and get some work done. We also both noted somebody forgot to turn the air conditioning on and we both were waving off flies that seemed to have invaded the waiting room.

Hardly a “Mercedes” level environment. As a result, I was prepared to be disappointed with my day at the dealership.

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JUL
22
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I Believe They Call These "A Blessing In Disguise"

Admit it. Something bad you don’t expect occurs, and you immediately think, “why did this have to happen?

This week, it happened twice to me. And the answer was “to prevent you from something even bigger happening in the future."

It started last Sunday. My daughter was visiting and realized when she came home late Saturday night that one of her headlights had burned out. That’s something you have to fix, or when you’re driving home from work the next night you run the risk of getting a ticket for not having two working headlights. And Sunday isn’t the best time to be getting repair work done.

I suggested she call our normal repair shop in the neighborhood and see if they were open. They were, from noon to 5, and were able to fix it, although for a not-so-cheap $350.

“Why did this have to happen?” may have been heard somewhere in the house.

It got worse. While fixing the light, the technician said the water pump was leaking. That’s a major repair of over $1,000, and for a millennial walking the tightrope of making ends meet, getting hit with thousands of dollars of auto repairs can be a source of significant stress. The technician did suggest that it might be covered by warranty, so call the dealer.

She did, and they told her, sorry, the warranty had expired. As in expired just two weeks ago. They would, however, be happy to fix it. For $1,300.

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JUL
04
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In The Spirit Of Life, Liberty And The Pursuit Of Happiness...

On this 4th of July, I want to share a story with you about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The pursuit of happiness actually found me. And it involves the deep satisfaction I’ve been finding just trying to help people.

 It all started back in March. I’d decided I’d had enough with the working world. I checked my financials, and believed my wife and I had enough for a comfortable (although not exotic) existence the rest of our days. She was going to work for the next few years anyway, and I had been seeing far too many people I knew encounter serious health problems within days or weeks of them reaching retirement age.

So I called it quits and retired at a relatively young age.

Not too long after, I got a phone call from a young friend. She was frustrated with her job, had been sending out letters and resumes for months and not getting any calls back. Would I be willing to help?

I mean, who could say no to that?

So I worked on the two documents. Young people these days, it appears to me, view these documents as court depositions. They are really marketing documents that help sell themselves and don’t require every single detail of every time you’ve been paid. I sharpened the focus of the resume, changed the format to make it stand out, added some color, and made it tight and bright.

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JUN
16
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You Know, You Could Actually Help Someone On Social Media

I have long followed people on social media I’ve never met and probably never will. If you have similar values, or are funny, or just live in my general area, I’ll follow you.

What tends to happen is they follow back, and over the years we get to know each other’s families even though we probably wouldn’t recognize each other if we passed down the same aisle at the grocery store. Similar pictures at holidays, pics of our kids growing up, comments on how a Washington sports team let us down (except for this month)…we find out we are more the same than different.

It’s the cool part of social media. Conversely, there are times like the last few days on Twitter (and it’s now starting to bleed into Facebook) where we’re back to the “I’m going to shout out a declarative sentence that oversimplifies a complex issue and makes you look like a monster” phase.

It’s what I call the “impulse control” days of Twitter and Facebook. React to such statements from a friend and you won’t change their mind; you’ll just lose them as a friend. Debate a stranger and you’ll get dragged into an ugly circle of name-calling and snark that you swore to yourself you’d never stoop to.

Lest you think this is just a recent social media deal, this situation goes all the way back to biblical times. Proverbs 26:4 states "When arguing with fools, don't answer their foolish arguments, or you will become as foolish as they are.” Mark Twain and George Carlin modernized it by saying “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” No matter how you word it, it’s true.

It drives me crazy, because in the greater scheme of things, none of it matters. Case in point:

Only a few weeks ago, I’m reading all this “I hate your guy” and “yeah, but your guy is even worse” nonsense, and decided to go check out a few Facebook posts. One person – who I have never met – had a Dad who, like me, really enjoyed cooking. I view people dishing up great meals as modern-day Da Vincis, as to me they are artists who practice in a medium I enjoy consuming.

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JUN
06
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D-Day Is More Than Just A Historical Footnote To Me

To some, today is a footnote in history. A day on the beaches of Normandy 74 years ago when an event codenamed Operation Overlord was launched, beginning what many say was the beginning of the end of World War II.

D-Day.

It will always be more than history to me, because in that first wave was a 21-year-old Private First Class from Henry County, VA by the name of Allen Homer Sink. He would survive that initial wave, participate in battle until it ended in August, then come home to marry and raise a family of four, including two daughters after the war ended.

He would also become my father-in-law until his death in 2006.

His nickname for some reason was “Hank” and when I asked him how he got it, he said some guy in the Army said he “looked like a Hank.” From the time I first met him, he was a salt-of-the-earth man who was never afraid of anything. He was a carpenter by trade, and he’d stand up on the tallest roofs, grab bumblebees with his bare hands when they tried to persuade him to move elsewhere, and never be bothered by anything.

His hands were tough and leathery, but he was a softie. He spoiled his children, complained when my mother-in-law would gripe about something involving one of his alleged misdeeds, and always thought he was fooling everybody when he snuck around the back of the house and lit a cigarette, a habit everyone opposed but he could never part himself from.

He could talk your ear off for hours at a time, and I always suggested he become a greeter at Wal-Mart when he retired because then he could talk all day to strangers and none of them would – like his wife and daughters often did – tell him to be quiet for a few moments. Yet for all his love of talking, there was one subject he just wouldn’t discuss.

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