Yesterday I drove to Philadelphia and back, to pick up a set of restored 1970s stereo speakers. Our very own Dr. Buford buys them at yard sales etc., and cleans ‘em up and replaces the wiring. I wanted to get a set for our younger boy, who seems to have been born a few decades too late. He loves vinyl LPs, and vintage electronics. Oh, these things are going to be right up his alley.
I’ve been working under high-stress conditions, putting in close to 60 hours per week. So, I tried to rope someone into riding down there with me, to keep me from nodding off and crashing through a Red Robin. But, I had to do it solo; nobody was “available.”
I worked Friday night (Saturday morning) until 2 a.m., so I didn’t get on the road until noon. I had to buy gas, and also wanted to swing by that questionable store called Five Below. Do you have these near you? Everything is five bucks or less, and they stock every phone charger known to man. I wanted to pick up a car charger for my Droid Bionic, ‘cause I knew it wouldn’t last the entire day without one.
My first stop was Sheetz, and it was pandemonium. Every pump was engaged, and there was also a vehicle waiting at most of them. I chose well, and the car in front of me was gone within minutes. After that task was completed, I moved my car to a parking space (because I’m not an asshole) and went into the store.
It was also a madhouse. I used the no-fee “money for nothing” ATM, and needed to break a twenty, for tolls on the turnpike. So, I bought a Dr. Pepper fountain drink.
As I was filling my cup, some fatass in a heating/air conditioning windbreaker came barreling through and passed between my back and the shelf behind me. He knocked about six bags of chips into the floor, turned to see what had happened, and just kept on moving. “Nice!” I said, and picked up the debris and returned it to the shelf. I guess I told him.
There were six or seven people in line to pay, and one lady working the cash registers. Grrr… I stood there and sighed theatrically as people placed very precise cig orders: “Winston kings in the hard pack, gold seal ultra-extremes, please.” WTF? Some guy even bought two cans of Skoal. I felt like I’d passed through some kind of time-warp, and ended up in 1979.
Some riffle-assed member of the Future Metformin Users of America club put loads and loads of candy and soda on the counter, and it came to more than $30. Good god, man! As he pulled his money out of his pocket, a secondary wad of cash fell to the floor, without him noticing.
“Um, you dropped some money,” I told him. And he looked at me for a beat too long, bent over (putting great strain on denim), and picked it up. Then he returned it to his pocket, and never said a word to me. What a dick. He offered no ‘thank you’… not even a nod of appreciation. I hoped he’d choke on his foot-long tray of Mallo Cups, or whatever.
When it was my turn to pay, I handed the cashier my Sheetz card. She told me I was in luck: all fountain drinks, regardless of size, are 99 cents with the card. Cool. My total was $1.05 with tax, so I gave her a twenty and a nickel.
Yeah, and you can probably guess what happened after that… She gave me $18 in change, I told her she owed me $19, and a minor argument ensued. Eventually she broke out a calculator(!), and crunched the numbers on this complex equation. When she realized she was wrong, she angrily opened the drawer, and handed me another dollar. Wow! Bitch can’t do basic math, so she gives me attitude?
There certainly was a lot of hostility in that place, bubbling right under the surface. And I, for once, had nothing to do with it. I was too tired and burned-out to be hostile.
I left there, and drove to Five Below. I’m almost certain Charlie Daniels himself came through the front door, carrying helium balloons. He was rocking an American flag leather jacket and a full graying beard, and clutching an enormous number of balloons.
I went inside, and there was a line of people waiting to pay, halfway to the back of the store. I’m not exaggerating, there must’ve been forty people waiting. Bastards! I hated them all, for doing the same thing I wanted to do. I turned and left in a huff. If my phone died, it died. No way was I diving into that frothy whirlpool of humanity.
At the first toll plaza on the turnpike there was a guy outside of his car, walking around. A bad sign. Apparently he had a large bill, and needed change. He’d gone through one of the self-serve lanes, and needed full-serve. Again: bastards!
Eventually a man with a pronounced gut and reflector vest appeared, and made change. And we were on our way. It was a minor three-minute setback that felt like an hour.
Immediately I had to piss. And by the time I reached the first rest area, it was a Code Red situation. I Frankensteined it into the men’s room, and approached one of those ludicrous waterless urinals (aka pee shells). And it hurt. It felt like I had a charley horse in my wiener, and/or fire shooting out of the tip.
It just kept going and going and going… until finally the pain subsided. But I was still peeing. Guys who came in after me had finished, washed their hands, and were probably back on the turnpike – and my stream remained strong.
Finally it stopped. I bought some peanuts in the convenience store, and eventually made it to Buford’s house. During the final thirty minutes I was thinking: this is dumbass, you should’ve just mailed him $25 extra and had them shipped to you.
But he wouldn’t even accept payment. We drank a beer together (Sierra Nevada – yum), and put the speakers into my car. And when I went to settle up with him, he told me to forget about it. I objected, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He said he wanted to help my son get off on the right musical foot.
Buford is a good guy, who grew up near me. We didn’t know each other back then, though. He’s a reader of this website. We got together for some beers in Scranton a couple of years ago, and he went to the Graham Parker show with me and Steve last summer. He has a doctorate, but is the anti-Nancy. He loves Cheap Trick, not tofurkey.
The drive back is a blur. Most of it was in the dark, and in the rain. I listened to London Calling in its entirety, and a Steely Dan compilation called Show Biz Kids. I talked to Steve for a long time (my phone survived the day), but think I was in a state of suspended animation. I remember very little of it.
I had a couple of Yuenglings when I got home, and was in bed clear-cutting timber by 10:30. I was so tired, I felt sick. Do you know that feeling? I was having flu-like symptoms, from fatigue. And by 7 a.m. I was up, getting on Toney’s nerves. This has been one of her days of Too Much Jeff. Heh.
And that pretty much brings you up to date on my life. Anything new with you? Please tell us about it, in the comments section below.
I’m excited about my son’s ‘70s stereo; it’s out of the ordinary. Have you given or received any especially unique gifts through the years? Which ones stick out in your mind? At the height of my baseball card mania, back when I was 14 or so, my parents surprised me with a 1971 Topps complete set, in mint condition. It blew my mind. I didn’t even think they’d know how to get their hands on such a thing, but somehow pulled it off. What do you have on this subject? Please share.
And I’ll see you guys again soon. Hopefully before Christmas.
Have a great day!
Now playing in the bunker
Do your holiday shopping at Amazon!
Here’s the link for our Canadian friends
A young man who starts his listening adventures with vinyl and “acoustic” speakers is less likely to commit mopery and more likely to complete his education than your average victim of MP3. I’m just saying…
Ozzie Bucco says
Mopery. Excellent word.
For what it’s worth, I keep a modest stash of ones and change in my car for tolls, parking meters, low-priced hookers, etc. That way, I can pay at the pump and be on my way.
Also, and we’ve discussed this before, even though my income is lower than yours, I keep some actual jack in my wallet (at least a hundred bucks) so I don’t have to find a cash machine every time I need a candy bar. Not having access to ready cash would be, for me, like leaving the house without underwear. I could do it, but I’d be walking funny.
jim britton says
If I’m going out I have to be carrying cash also. I am convinced that all the teller machines are going to seize up at the same time, leaving me cash-less.
I paid at the pump, and needed money for the speakers and tolls. The latter adds up to $23.20, round trip from here to Philly. It’s not two bucks, it’s real money. And also a rip-off, I might add.
I carry cash for small purchases, because it makes me angry to see people swiping the plastic for a pack of gum. For tolls and parking meters I carry a film canister (remember those?) full of quarters in the car’s armrest. Yes, I could get an EZ-pass, but a) I don’t live anywhere near the only toll road in the area, and b) some jurisdictions use the time stamps to generate speeding tickets.
It’s been years since the typical cashier has actually known how to make change. How long, do you think, until the act of paying cash is viewed with suspicion?
I have about 20 of those plastic film canisters with the tight-fitting lids left over from the 60s and 70s. Each one has a small amount of marijuana detritus clinging to the bottom. Those babies were the transportation container of choice for grass in my neighborhood.
WB in OH says
There seems to be a divide somewhere between the ATM crowd and the keep cash on hand crowd and the even newer generation which pays for everything with credit cards. My neighbor is 55 and always has a couple of hundred dollars on him. I’m 46 and get $100 out of the ATM whenever my wallet gets thin. I’m not sure where the line is at for the charge everything crowd but one thing is certain, when I walk into my favorite watering hole Tuesday afternoon, the place will be packed with college aged kids and there will 30-40 credit cards lined running tabs.
Then again, it might have little to do with age and more with some other socio economic phenomena.
WB in OH says
I think your age theory is sound, and you did a good job describing the dynamic. I think Jeff is punching a decade or two below his age, but that might be one of those socioeconomic phenomena.
As a cash-carrier, I’m always entertained by the people who say, “If I carried a lot of cash, I’d just spend it.” Good Lord, you’re always packing your sexual apparatus: Why aren’t you always pulling to the side of the road and masturbating? I once tried that argument on an attorney, who said, “Hell, I do that all the time.” I hope she was kidding.
Ozzie Bucco says
Living in NJ, we don’t pump our own gas, so I miss the interaction inside the Sheetz, WaWa, or Turkey Hill. On the road, I use a credit card to eliminate the need to go inside.
I also get driven batty by those who approach making change as if they’re solving Fermat’s Last Theorem. I usually end up getting the coins I gave them back, along with the regular change, essentially a dollar in coins rather than the bill I had hoped for.
John Smith says
Yeah, I just got back from Oregon and they won’t let you pump your own gas either. 16 pumps, 2 people manning them. I haven’t been 6th in line at a gas station since 1974. Those dudes must have one HELL of a union.
Otis Day says
OMG I say the EXACT same thing about the people buying smokes at the convenience stores. I’m in line and the asshole up front inevitably says…
I’ll take a pack of Marlboro red hard box upside down inside out 100’s menthol with a reservoir tip or some such nonsense.
WTF. and as the hapless cashier walks 25 feet away to where the cigs are *who lays out these stores anyway) inevitably she pulls one out.. No not that one, ..another – no not that one.. and finally on the 3rd or 4th try finally gets the right one.
then after all that, they spend 5 minutes figuring out what kind of scratch and sniff lottery tickets to buy, oh and can you see if any of these 45 tickets I have is a winner?
Blizzaks and an EZ-Pass for goodness sake.
The cool kids ride on Hakkapeliittas.
Yeah, they’re hand made in Finland. Reminds me of a girl I used to go out with.
WB in OH says
I got my Accord stuck in the snow the other day, I think I need some Blizzaks. Doesn’t look like the Hakkapeliittas are available in the USA! USA! USA! yet.
I hate the assholes who think they’re on vegas with the friggin scratch offs and daily nunbers. Gimme 6-2-1,straight. 781 trifecta etc. Etc. Etc man???? I just want a goddamn soda and I’m stuck for ,10 minutes waiting for some asswipebblowing through 40 bucks of scratchoffs.
Otis Day says
AMEN to that! I hear you!
Rat Bastard says
Yes. You know you are in trouble when they pull a scrap of paper out of their pocket with 70 numbers written on it that they want to play. The cashier inevitably will fuck up one or two, which adds to the hilarity.
Mountain Dew makes smokes now?
They are Antifreeze Flavor. Now with extra fizz.
Oh and here it is December 22 and my tree isn’t up yet. I am so exhausted I can’t even think of decorating
The tree will be up somehow
I hope you did not buy him my old 70’s stereo. BSR turntable with 2 nickels taped on the tonearm so it would not skip. Blast that threw Radio Shack speakers made out of masonite. Of course this was the early 70’s.
Phil Jett says
I remember getting a couple of these magnetic city toys when I was probably around 5 or 6. Had a blast playing with it, especially the one with trains. My older brother would play with it sometimes with me, but all he ever wanted to do was run down people with cars or trains.
The fambly and I left the house at 9 heading east to visit Mom for Christmas. I knew it was raining but that shit was ridiculous. The halfway mark was 5 hours where we would bed down for the night. Took us 9. Got settled in, chillin with a cocktail and the desk called. Please come to the first floor there is a tornado warning. Saturday night in a stuffy hallway with the full complement of the Doubletree and some big ass party from the ballroom. Got here, I’m done, God bless us all because this Cmas is gonna blow.
Billy Joel says
Your description of your visit to Sheetz (or Sheetzeses, as they called it in western Maryland), reminds me vividly of my five years living in that region. The folks up that way were patently unfriendly, as I recall. Seriously, it took me a little over a year after moving away from there before I could regain a reasonable semblance hope for the human race again. I understand why you and Toney are making plans to get the hell out of there as soon as your kids are grown and out of the house. Just about anywhere else in the country is preferable as far as the prevailing local attitude is concerned.
I hope those speakers are Advents. You will also need a Marantz receiver and a Dual or a Phillips belt drive turntable. 🙂 I upgraded (years ago) to a nice pair of KEF’s and gave my Advents to my son; they were still like new…beautiful walnut cabinet and the works. He has since passed them on to his half-brother and I just wonder where they are now. Those speakers were kick-ass and I should have just kept and stored them. I was smart enough to hang on to my vinyl collection.
I am guilty of not carrying enough cash with me. The problem is, if I have $20, it is “just enough”, but if I have $100, that is “just enough” also. The more cash I carry, the more I spend. I know…it’s stupid but it’s my way of holding down on my spending. And we don’t have to mess with tolls in Memphis so that makes having change unnecessary.
Here’s wishing all my fellow surfers a great holiday!
jim britton says
Somewhere around my house or garage I have a box of records I bought in Iwakuni, Japan when I was stationed there (1980-1983). They are thicker than the records I bought stateside. One of the selling points if I recall correctly was that the Japanese records were mastered with more care than the standard American releases.
I’ve also got a Technics linear turntable to play them with, but the preamp and receiver I used have disappeared.
Around that time (early 80s) record companies were releasing “Japanese pressing” versions of albums here in the US. The appeal was that they were thicker vinyl. Maybe a better recording, maybe not. I still have some, as well as a Dual belt drive turntable on which to play them. I bought it in 1973 from Crazy Eddie.
I picked up an old set of Advents a couple of years ago. The foam surrounds were toast but after I replaced them they sound awesome. I spent $30 for the speakers and about $20 for the surrounds.
Happy Christmas eve everyone. It is Laphroaig time here on the left coast. I’m pretty sure it is what Jesus drank during the holidays.
Hear, hear! Just got back from a dinner party full of Drinking Responsibly here in the Eastern Hemicontinent, and I am now enjoying a tiny drop of Laphroaig myself. This is a Signatory bottling of non-chill-filtered 14 year old.
And I’m sure a pair of AR 3as would have done the trick too. I couldn’t afford them back in the day.
And to all a good night.
Merry Christmas, it’s free
I used to work with a fella that was fond of saying I gotta piss so bad, I can feel it throbbing in the head of my dick.
Hmmm….a charlie horse in the ol’ wiener? I think that’s what we used to call growing pains.
I remember once that I held in pee so long that I almost threw up.
When I finally got to release the pressure, my kidneys and liver area starting hurting with a furious rage. At one point it doubled me over in pain, but I was still peeing. I had to hold myself up against the wall (I was pissing around the back of a small train platform) and just let the spray go like a loose fire hose.
My entire sub-shaft (urethra or uvula or whatever) felt like it was being butterflied like a chicken breast ready to receive heavy helping of mushrooms and spinach. My dick hole felt like it was blasting course grain sawdust and the stream was more akin to a pressure washer the “fine mist” setting.
It was the most brutal piss I’ve ever experienced. After all was done, my body was sore from my balls to my rib cage and I felt sick.
Gonorreah is a bitch.
Rachael Smith says
Oh, Jeff. You remind me oh so very much of my ex-husband. NOT a bad thing. He went to a small Christian college in western PA which made pretty much all of his “besties” from that area. He grew up in DC, blah,blah. I think remaining in PA is detrimental to your mental, phyisical and emotional health. You are dealing with some of the nasiest, rudest, ignorant and depressed people in the country. Im so sad to tell you that you havent realized that you have become one of them! On a scale of 1 to 10, certainly you are a 4 at most; but you can not deny the impact this geography and professional life has had on you. You are so many things to me because u remind me of so many east coasters that I know; its a crime against humanity that you cant make a living doing anything than whatever the hell you’ve been doing in “what’r u lookin at?” PA.
All my love and curiosity,