“Do You Mind If I Smoke?”

I was a young sales guy trying to befriend a prospect, hoping it would lead to new business.

“Do you mind if I smoke?”

He’s the prospect, he can do what he wants, right?

“Hey. if you got ’em, smoke ’em!”

Foolishly, I agreed to go on a late evening boat excursion up the Chadakoin River, through the heart of small town Jamestown, New York, with a prospective client and friends. Destination, a local bar in the seedy side of Jamestown, which we accessed through a jagged hole in a chain link fence above the river bank, a barrier against unwanted traffic. We must have been unwanted.

Buying lunch or dinner with a client was a common practice and expected as part of the normal business culture, an opportunity to be engaged with a prospect in a relaxed setting. But climbing through fences after dark for a beer? Not so much.

I was young, aggressive, enthusiastic, and naive.

After a couple of pops, we left the bar and managed to wiggle our way back through the hole, a couple of beers heavier but still upright.

Finding the boat was a relief and boarding it felt even better. My ‘prospect’ needed something more than two beers and asked if I would like to join him for a ‘smoke’. A nice courtesy, I suppose, but I declined. He cranked the motor, headed upstream, and lit up. I mean, he ‘lit up’*, ‘torched up’*, gleefully noted that it was ‘tea time’*.

I was young, aggressive, enthusiastic and naive.

It didn’t take but a good whiff to realize what he was smoking and it wasn’t cigarettes.

The prospect never became a client, but I grew up a bit that night, and thought a bit more about my own values, the how and where I should conduct business. Not in bars. or cruising on dark rivers with a boatsman smoking a joint. Not anyplace where I might be compromised.

Those are the same values for Life, aren’t they? Make good decisions and be the best you can be. It always works for the better.

Love On The Veranda…

“Love comforteth like sunshine after rain.” (Shakespeare)

With the kids safely aboard, the crossing arm retracted and the flashing red lights turned off, the school bus pulled away from the curb, leaving the young parents in a wake of noisy fumes. A quick wave, one that likely wouldn’t be seen as youngsters are in their own element once aboard, signaled the end of one phase of their day and the start of the next, the work day.

They turned and walked hand-in-hand up the inclined drive, stopping for a moment on the veranda before heading off separately, he to his car and she inside the house for some final to-do’s before going to work, herself, I imagine.

At that moment before separating, in a somewhat theatrical move that belied its spontaneity, they embraced. Their arms wrapped around each other, her back arched under his guidance, and he bent to kiss her. Her leg lifted slightly, reminiscent of the iconic photo of a sailor and nurse in Times Square at the end of WWII. It was a brief but beautiful interlude of love, love on the veranda

(Wikipedia)

Continue reading Love On The Veranda…

The ‘Kid’, He Called It

The ‘kid’ called his shot

He didn’t point, only the great Babe Ruth did that. No, he didn’t point, instead the ‘kid’ just called it, he called the shot.

I witnessed it, and have played it over and over in my mind’s eye. The ‘kid’ called his own shot.

“I’m gonna hit a home run, Steve“, he said with the naive clarity, confidence and high pitch of a young boy. Such Chutzpah.

I can still hear the classic October sound of bat on ball, plastic on plastic. ‘WHOMP’! The ‘kid’ called it and true to his word, the ball flew over the single tall arborvitae behind the pitcher and rolled into the street, a bonafide homer per the arbitrary ground rules set by the ‘pitcher/umpire/announcer’ dad.

Continue reading The ‘Kid’, He Called It

What’s In Your Daily Planner?

What’s in your daily planner?

Be it Franklin, Moleskin, Lemome or one of the myriad of other planners, whatever you use for daily reminders, do you have a page devoted to a verse, message, picture or quote that inspires you to kick start your day?

I had these three messages taped to the front page of my planner for years, as I went about my sales chores. They weren’t the only impetus behind my ‘get up and go’. But they, along with others I kept, helped remind me of the dedication required and purposefulness of my work.

We’re surrounded by messages that help drive us and focus our energies, aren’t we. One sees them in books, posters, billboards, locker rooms.

The exit to my Army barracks had a message that’s been attributed to former auto exec, Lee Iacocca…

Lead, follow or get out of the way’

The barracks version was a little ‘saltier’, I recall. Seems an appropriate message for a military environment, or anyplace that invokes a team mission.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet has one of the best messages…

‘To thine own self, be true, then it shall follow, as night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man’

Great advice from a father to his son, but then, Shakespeare was good at using his work to give advice. I find this message helps remind us of their own ethics as we set course on our daily business.

Sales people are likely drawn to quotes, I believe, because their work is filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, negativity, as well as positivity. Starting thé day with a few poignant words might be the magic one needs to go after the challenge…

‘Unseen and Untold is Unsold

The success of the mission is the burden that often saddles itself on the salesperson’s shoulders. The above words clearly make that point and drive the individual to succeed. And the following shows the importance of sales and salesmanship…

‘Nothing happens until something is sold’ (author unknown)

The author may be unknown but the message makes so much sense. The powerful image this creates is palpable. The successful salesperson is the machine that keeps the wheels of industry from grinding to a screeching halt. Think about it for a moment.

Do you doubt that words can propel people to act?

‘Never give up! Never!

Great Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave hope and courage to a nation with those few words. During WWII.

‘Nuts!’

This was the reply of General Anthony McAuliffe to the overwhelming German force at the Battle of The Bulge in 1944. His smaller force kept up the fight and repelled the enemy. Words.

Again, what’s in your daily planner?

Steve B

Aug 2021

A Frog, A Hog & A Dog, #2…A Hot Summer Day*

* Note: ‘If You Can’t Be There, Then Write A Story’, #4

By Grandpa

For Ben & Summer

Oh, what to do on a hot summer’s day…

That was the challenge facing the FROG, the HOG and the DOG on a hot summer day…

The first day of summer was so hot and the three friends, the frog, the hog and the dog were doing what good friends like doing on hot summer days, or any days, they were enjoying being together…

The day was too hot to hop, too hot to stomp and too hot to romp, nevertheless, the three friends knew just what to do…

The frog, the hog and the dog gathered along the edge of a nearby pond under a huge shade tree. While cooling my feet in the pond waters, I watched them with my trusty binoculars, as they tried their very best to stay cool…

The small friend, the green frog, sat on a lily pad in the pond, which helped cool its smooth skin…

Sometimes, it would slide into the water for a refreshing swim

The small frog thought that staying wet was the perfect way to stay cool on a hot summer day…

The big friend, the pinkish hog, flopped its rather big body in the muddy edge of the pond under a gigantic shade tree…

Because the hog was so big and so heavy, it sank into the soft mud, way up its wide sides, over its bottom and nearly covering its curly tail. The hog found the muddy water cool and comforting…

The big hog thought that laying in the mud on its side…

on its belly…

and on its back…

was a perfect way to stay cool on a hot summer day…

The medium size friend, the black and white dog with thick long hair, decided just to lay on the ground and rest…

The tall green grass nearly covered the dog’s eyes, nevertheless it could still see its friends by the pond, preferring to stay on dry ground, itself, deep in the blanket of soft, cool grass.

The dog thought that laying down and letting its tongue hang out the side of its mouth…

was the perfect way to stay cool on a hot summer day…

And while the frog, the hog and the dog relaxed under a shade tree, on a lily pad, in the mud, and on the grass, they could still see and speak to each other, friend to friend to friend, all about the fun times they have together…

And that is how the three friends, the frog, the hog and the dog stayed cool on a hot first day of summer…

What do you do with your friends to stay cool on hot summer days?

Ben & Summer, brother & sister and best friends forever

Steve B

June 2021

A Frog, A Hog and A Dog

Note: If you can’t be there, then write a story #3

By Grandpa

For Ben & Summer

A Story About Friends

A frog, a hog and a dog

This is a story of three very different friends, a FROG, a HOG and a DOG, and the fun they had when the rain stopped and the sun peeked from behind the clouds.

Three different friends

The smallest friend, a FROG, had smooth green skin and made funny noises with its throat, ‘Ribid’, ‘Ribid’!

The biggest friend, a HOG, had rough, pinkish skin and made grunting noises with its nose, ‘Grunt, ‘Grunt’!

The medium size friend, a Dog, had skin covered with thick black and white hair and made barking noises with its mouth, ‘Woof’, ‘Woof’!

It didn’t matter to the frog, the hog and the dog that they were different, they just enjoyed each other’s company, especially when the rain stopped, because you know what you have when the rain stops…

PUDDLES!

All sorts of puddles: BIG and SMALL puddles, WIDE and NARROW puddles, DEEP and SHALLOW puddles. oodles and oodles of puddles…

(color the rain, clouds, grass and puddles)

And what do you do with puddles? The frog, the hog and the dog knew…..

Jump in them!

Stomp in them!

Run in them!

First, the frog jumped in a puddle and made a small splash. After all, the frog was the smallest friend. But the frog was having too much fun to be concerned about the size of its splash. Look at that big frog smile!

(color the happy frog!)

Next, the hog squatted it’s bottom in a puddle and made the biggest splash. After all, the hog had the biggest bottom.

(color the ‘biggest bottom’)

The hog was having so much fun, so it splashed in another puddle.

This time the hog stomped up and down on its hind legs snd waved its front legs, which wasn’t easy because the hog was so big. Puddle water splashed everywhere…

(color the hog stomping the puddle)

Just look at that happy hog face…

(color the happy hog face)

Finally, the dog ran into a puddle, went one direction, then went the other direction before rolling in the puddle. The dog was covered with muddy puddle water from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail, except for one spot. Can you find it?

(color the happy dog)

The dog had so much fun. Just look at that happy dog face…..

(a happy dog face)

As I enjoyed watching the frog jump, the hog stomp, and the dog run through the puddles, I was distracted by the cheerful sounds of children playing in the distance.

With my trusty binoculars, I was able to see a boy and girl playing in their own puddles. They wore the perfect boots for jumping, running and stomping, a blue pair and a pink pair.

(color the boy, girl, grandpa and tree)

I wonder who they were…

Do you play in puddles with your friends?

“I wondered who they were”
“Just look at those happy faces!”

Listen My Children…1775

‘Listen my children and you shall hear…of the midnight ride of Paul Revere…T’was the 18th of April, ’75…’ (H. W. Longfellow)

A little bit of US history as memorialized in Longfellow’ long poem, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.

My 5th grade teacher, Miss Meehan, wrote several stanzas on the blackboard (remember those?) and we had write them, ourselves, then memorize them.

I’ve never forgotten those stanzas and am reminded of the history and Miss Meehan every April 18th, today. It’s important to remember our history and important people in our lives. Miss Meehan was a good teacher and that period in US history was, well, what can I say.

It’s also important to understand our past, as a country and an individual, so we can learn and make in-course corrections as we continue to grow.

Paul Revere wasn’t the only rider that night and the British grabbed him before he got carried away with his warnings to the public. However, HWL chose to use him in his narrative and now his name is synonymous with revolution and liberty.

I hope you find the poem to read, yourself. And, as I like to do, read it aloud. It seems to resonate better with me when I do.

Remember history, and the teachers who made it come alive for you.

Steve

If You Can’t Be There, Then Write A Story: #2, ‘Daisy The Dog Makes A Friend

The first story was a hit with the grandchildren. The video of our son reading it demonstrated they had great interest and even were able to decipher the sketches as to who was who. It was fun writing and illustrating the story. So much so, that I’m trying my hand at it, again.

As a reminder, the story is based on real events, all the way down to the staring.

Enjoy and any tips to help my sketching are appreciated.

Steve

The Bar Chronicle: #29, ‘There Are No Canaries In The Canary Islands…’*

*strange as it seems. I started this episode of ‘TBC’ in early 2020 and failed to finish it. Just found it, so here we go…

The cold and flu bug sacked two of us from our 29th ‘Bar Night’, including the ‘guest of honor’, tonight was to be his ‘swan song’ before heading for the Sunshine State, leaving us behind to suffer Lake Ontario’s winter wrath.

Of course, going south for warmer weather automatically designates you as the official buyer of rounds upon your return. He knows that and is eager to accommodate. Who wouldn’t be?

However, we still had a quorum, a legitimate excuse to ‘party’, four of us. And, we did, after the appropriate toast and well wishes.

Caverly’s Irish Pub, on South Ave., is still our favorite watering hole and we headed there again, on a Tuesday evening this time, instead of the usual Wednesday, and were surprised to find a full house. Don’t people know it’s winter?

That full house meant a loud house, so we ordered our ‘stouts and lites’ and made haste to an empty back room for some privacy and relative quiet. For me, even a ‘back room’ requires cupping the ear.

Tonight’s conversation seemed a bit different. We tabled any talk of extra terrestrials, for now, and filled our hour with brief , yet serious discussions of declining church attendance, Sudoku and humor, at the risk of repeating stories that we probably told in prior meetings.

We even discussed the importance of drinking water.

I came prepared with an article to share on health tips. One tip urged people to drink enough water, 8 cups a day. I’ve never been a big water drinker and find it challenging to swallow eight cups a day but have discovered that adding a dash of scotch makes it more palatable. Or is the other way around?

Starbucks coffee shops have very good water. It should be, it’s filtered three times and during hot summer months, I add a cup of water to my coffee order. And it’s free.

We ended the night on comedy. Laughing is a prescription for ending the day, or anytime, isn’t it? See what you think.

One among us knows how to set up a joke and he did it perfectly during our talk about stations in military service. He was in the Canary Islands at some point and dutifully noted for our consumption that, believe it or not, there are no canaries in the Canary Islands. I have no idea on the veracity of that statement, but he was setting us up, after all.

In the course of our discussion, the same gent offered that he also had been to the Virgin Islands. And guess what’s not in the Virgin Islands. That was my first thought, but no, it’s canaries, again. Think about it.

We headed home shaking our heads and chuckling because, it’s true, laughter is the best medicine.

Steve

Note: this was the last time the ‘Bar Nighters’ met before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down our gatherings. We next met in February 2021 via Zoom.

For more stories, check my WordPress blog, S’amusing, at ‘srbottch.com’