Posts Tagged ‘State College’

If you haven’t read part one, I’d suggest you do.

So we did our research, which meant going to the store, asking a few questions and making our purchase.  We decided on a Garmin.  A decision I will never regret.  I’ve been to Harrisburg a few times and I always get confused because as you reach the outskirts everything tends to bottle neck and if you are not on the correct side of the highway who knows where you will end up.  Garmi takes all the stress out of the ride, Garmi tells you what side of the road to be on.  Garmi is brilliant.  When I started training at work I had to travel to Philadelphia.  Garmi got me there and back without any glitches, without any of my usual find a new place stress. I’ve learned a few times, Always trust Garmi!  The first time I was in the warehouse van just pulling out of the Huntingdon office which is about an hour away.  The most direct route home entails pulling out of the office crossing a double yellow line and making a left hand turn.  Before making my illegal move I checked my side mirror, and there standing outside the door talking to a technician was our safety officer.  My choices were two-fold, make the illegal turn and know where I was going and suffer the consequences of the illegal turn when I got back to the office or take a chance and turn right and be pointing in a direction I had never been.  Really wanting to avoid conflict I decided to go on a little adventure.  I didn’t cross the double yellow.  Garmi who was set to Halloween mode started giving me directions in his haunted vampiric  voice. “In two hundred feet turn right” I made the turn like a good little follower and it took me up a little hill at which point Garmi said “In fifty feet turn left”…”Turn Left now” The problem was turning left meant turning into somebody’s driveway.  I continued to go straight, Garmi objected, seeing as I have Garmi set to no u-turns it resorted to “Let me consult my magic book” which in Halloween mode means re-calculating.  Much to my horror it repeated itself “Let me consult my magic book” I kept going straight and Garmi repeated himself again.  Was Garmi lost?  Eventually Garmi said, “Continue on route” I was getting a little nervous.  There was no sign of human life.  I was surrounded by woods and while I was not on a dirt road, the road was so narrow the branches were scrapping along each side of the van. My only consolation of being lost was at least I was lost in an absolutely beautiful spot on a magnificent fall day.   If you have never been to central Pa you should really make an effort to come down in the fall the scenery is simply majestic.

I always play a little game that may one day get me a speeding ticket.  When I leave to go somewhere I always check Garmi to see when I’m supposed to arrive at my destination, and then I try to beat that time.  When I started the journey Garmi said I would arrive at my destination at 2:45 now, even lost Garmi told me I was going to arrive at 2:41, score!  Although I was pretty sure that in a few years time somebody was going to find a rusted out Comcast van with my skeletal remains hunkered down in the driver’s seat with Garmi saying, “Let me consult my magic book”! I continued to drive.

Finally Garmi told me to make a left and suddenly I was back in civilization.  I was still lost, but now there were other cars on the road so I figured I must be headed somewhere, chances of us all being lost was pretty slim.  A mile or two later I absolutely knew where I was (Pine Grove Mills)  I actually knew somebody who lived in the area.  I had no idea geographically where Pine Grove Mills was in relation to State College and Huntingdon in fact knowing I was in Pine Grove Mills was no help whatsoever because I was still lost, but Garmi wasn’t and I had found my faith in Garmi.

When I got back to the office, (ahead of time I might add) I was telling the story to my co-worker.  He informed me that I should have made that first turn onto the ‘driveway’ because it just looked like a driveway.  The reality was that once you got to the house the ‘road’ was leading too there was a slight drop not visible from the beginning of the road and from there it made a sharp turn which would have put me on the correct side of the double yellow and it would have been an easy drive home.

 Always Trust Garmi!

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Picking up from my last post,  Vancouver, like everywhere else has its share of characters.

The Sweeper:  he was an odd dude, nobody was sure about him.  He would just stand there. Now and again he would put his hand out.  Occasionally he would get upset if you didn’t give him money,  I call him The Sweeper because I was in my office and I heard the manager of the video store ask him if he would like to earn a little cash by sweeping up the sidewalk in front of his shop.   “No” came his response, “I really don’t want to work”.  I guess begging pays.

Braveheart: I was in the shop one day cleaning the display cabinet and this guy walks in.  I knew he was schizophrenic the moment I saw him.  It was a cool cloudy day and he was wearing really dark wrap around shades, when he walked his knees hardly bent, his arms did not swing, his back ramrod straight.  Not only was he schizophrenic he was off his meds.  We had the following conversation:

Me: “Hey, how you doing?”
Him: “I am Braveheart and I’m afraid of no man”


“Well Braveheart, that is good to know.  Can I help you with anything?”

All I could think of was my cousin who works with schizophrenics I really could have used a little help. I also remember the bandage on my cousins face when one of his patients punched him in the nose.

 “What type of magic do you have?”
“Magic tricks, for entertainment.  Here let me show you.”

I showed him a trick, there was no response his face never showed any emotion. He didn’t move, when he spoke only the lower part of his face moved. It was spooky.
“Is that a trick?”
“Yes, did you like it?”
“Has anyone been bothering you?”
“No, everything is fine.”
“Well if anybody does, I am braveheart and I am afraid of no man”
“You do good magic”

Months later this guy comes into the shop he introduces himself as Steve, he looks familiar, but not.  He tells me he just came in to say hello and to say he was sorry if he scared me.  He then explained that he came in earlier in the year calling himself Braveheart!

The Con:  Once again in the magic shop. This time there were two other magicians with me.  This scruffy guy who hangs around the mall comes in. 

“Do you have a fiver for five loonies?” 

Loonies, for my non-Canadian friends are Canadian dollar coins

“Yup” as I reached for the cash register I noticed he was holding his loonies like they were poker chips so I couldn’t really see them. I held out my hand for the loonies but he refused to part with them.

Him: “Give me the fiver and I’ll give you the loonies?”

“I don’t think so!” but I was curious, so I held the fiver just in front of him where he made a grab for it, at which time I pulled the fiver back and knocked his hand that held the loonies, four loonies and a washer fell to the counter. I looked at him, scooped up his money and his washer and handed it back to him while motioning him towards the door.  The other customers began to chuckle, “Dude, look around, you are in a magic shop!  Did you actually believe that was going to work?”

Of course I can’t leave good old State College out of the picture, after all, State College is called the Happy Valley.

Table Thrower:  Early in my short lived banking nightmare career I had to go stand outside the bank at a table we had set up with giveaways for returning students.  This greasy long haired freak of nature, complete with tattoos, bad body odour, scars and more than a few needle marks comes weaving up the street and of course he is heading straight for little ole’ me.

“Hey, you have to do this shit for your job?”
“Yeah pretty much”
“Wouldn’t catch me doing this shit!”
“Ahh, well, bills to pay family to feed, gotta do what I gotta do.”
“You get paid extra for standing out here with this shit, you should you know’
“Well, it just goes along with the territory, it is not so bad.”
“I’m telling you, this is just shit, shit work, shit pay, you should quit! Lets throw this table and all this shit into the street.”
“No really its fine thanks”
“Whatever but I’m telling you its shit!”

 In the end he was right.

Benny:  I know we already had a Benny, but this guys name was Benny. Everyone in downtown State College knows about Benny.  He has an orange jumper and is harmless, but crazy.  So he walks up to the teller next to me, “Miss, do you have 4 quarters?”  Katy, being new, young and naive gives Benny the quarters. Benny thanks her and walks out of the bank.  The rest of us are busy laughing.  Katy, looking at the empty lobby with that bewildered look in her eye, “But…b…but he didn’t give me a dollar!”  Yes Katy that’s why you get the money before you give the change, especially to the staggering, swill smelling homeless guy!

 And then there was David. David and I were buddies. David is also the topic of my next installment. Street Urchins: The Saga Continues.

 Thanks for reading.

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The players:

Farmer Bob. 

First, he is not a farmer, farmer Bob is a consultant for farmers in Tennessee. Here is a very brief and simplistic explanation of what farmer Bob does.

If farmer John’s crop is not quite right  he calls farmer Bob and sends him a plant or soil sample, farmer Bob can then possibly  tell Farmer John what he needs to do to grow a healthier crop.

Secondly, his name is not Bob.

Lab technician Clarice.

Who is  really the Assistant supervisor in an environmental testing lab.  In brief, Clarice tests plants (and water) for a variety of chemicals for a variety of reasons mostly for the betterment of growers and researchers to produce better products.

Her name is not really Clarice, (but she is my wife).

So what in blue blazes is this post about?  It is about small worlds. 

Farmer John in Tennessee is having problems, so he calls farmer Bob, who gets plant samples which he sends to the lab (here in Pennsylvania) where my wife works.  There is a slight glitch and Bob calls Clarice, and as always happens with my wife, they get to talking.

Before Bob went to Tennessee he was in California.  My wife lived in California until she was 19.  Bob used to do consultant work in California one of his clients was a poinsettia farmer.  My wife used ride her horse on the same poinsettia farmers land.    Bob raced motorcycles, my wife was also involved in motorcycle racing, (see where this is going?) it turns out not only were they part of the same SCORE (International Off Road Racing) for the famous Baja races in mexico, they also raced at the same raceways in California. They clearly didn’t know each other back then, but chances are pretty good that they crossed paths, probably more than once.  Here they are 30 yrs later in different parts of the country doing business and sharing shared memories together they didn’t know they had. 

Kind of makes you wonder how the moron driver you flipped off on your way to work this morning is going to fit into your life 3o years from now.

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The Waffle Shop is a very trendy breakfast/lunch restaurant here in State College. The food is always good and there is always a line to get inside. My wife and I decided to take Friday off work and thought what the heck, let’s go to the Waffle Shop after all the french fries are to die for. Due to the lines to get in and the noisy atmosphere the last time we dinned there was about a year ago.

As predicted, there was a line but it wasn’t too long. The first change we noticed was that they had installed a large flat screen TV over the cash so those waiting in line would have something to watch. Naturally the only thing that was showing on the TV was one long commercial for the Waffle Shop. I thought this odd seeing as we have never seen the commercial on TV and we were already in the restaurant, so what exactly was the point?

So we waited, and watched the annoying loop of the smiling chef flippin’ eggs, but really it was okay, we had fun watching the people. Finally the hostess who was standing about halfway into the restaurant pointed at us and then pointed to a table, ah yes, nothing in the world beats that personalized level of service. The table was set for one and I figured they are busy I’m sure they will get me flatware and some napkins, not a problem. We ordered our food and waited. I started to get a little annoyed as they seated us next to a wall that was about waist-high, it was more like a solid partition. There was not enough room for a person to pass by the back of my chair and the wall yet both wait staff and patrons alike managed to do just that and the wall was unforgiving. I can’t tell you how many time the back of my chair was bumped. Of course the way the tables were scattered there was no alternative route to the back of the restaurant, the kitchen and the front of the restaurant I must say it was an absolutely brilliant design.

When our food came the first thing that was apparent was the change in french fries. No longer did they serve steak fries now they serve wimpy little fries, to the credit of our waitress she did go to the kitchen to check if anything could be done and of course nothing could be done. She asked us if there was anything else she could get for us. Seeing as I don’t enjoy eating coleslaw with my fingers I asked for some flatware. I do enjoy a good fork now and again.

The Philly Cheese steak I ordered was a far cry from a PHILLY cheese steak but non the less it was very good. The hoagie that my wife ordered was also very good, except for the fries I really have no complaints against the food.

Too add to our dining experience a large party needed to be seated in an already crowded restaurant, but where do you seat a large group of people in an already crowded restaurant? No problem, not for the able staff at the Waffle Shop. One manager and a waitress lifted the empty table that was on our left and proceeded to lift it OVER OUR HEADS to the point where I had to duck so I didn’t get hit in the head by one of the steel legs, Lucky for me I was forced to duck as now I was able to cover my food with my head and shoulders to protect my food from anything that might fall from the underside of the table that was being transported OVER my head while we ate!

Trying to keep on a positive note I figured, “hey, at least I have the next topic for my blog” So you know what Waffle Shop? You can keep your fancy flat screen TV set, your lines, your pay by cash or check only, you can even keep your trendy preppy patrons and your crappy wimpy assed french fries. As for me? I’m going back to Denny’s where they don’t lift tables over your head while you eat.

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Yes my wife and I eat at Denny’s.  I’d be the first, okay the second to tell you that the track record with Denny’s has not been great. My father would be the first.  However even my father likes the Denny’s in State College.  The food is good, the location is perfect for us and I even know some of the wait staff by name, which for me is an incredible feat.  There is Dana who is so good at her job and is such a fun person to be around, that she got my father to admit that there is hope for Denny’s and is now willing to eat there when he visits, of course we have to make sure that Dana would be taking care of us.   We have also gotten to know Mark quite well, in fact my wife is talking to him on Facebook as I write this blog. Even when not sitting in Mark’s section he makes sure we are taken care of properly.   Carrie always makes sure she comes by our table to say hello and enquire about us and the dog and is joy to talk too.  We don’t see Marvin (one of the managers) much anymore, but when we do he always stops by to say hello. There are others I like who I will apologize to now seeing as I can’t remember their names off-hand, such as the young woman who is usually at the cash and always laughs at my corny jokes. 

The other night as a couple sat down at a table across from us the woman nodded and waved at my wife.  My wife asked if we knew them from somewhere.  The womans response was that she has seen us in the restaurant a few times now so she felt like she knew us.  I thought it a little odd, but my wife being who she is started up a conversation.  I don’t know how the conversation ended up where it did, but it turns out that this couple were also volunteers for Sparrow, the wild life rehabilitator. They help her transport the animals when transport is necessary.  I realize that Sparrow is the only wild life rehabilitator in the area, but how many people are involved in this endeavour.  How many of you release wild life? or transport wild life? or even know a wild life rehaber?  I’m not seeing many hands.  Yet I’m eating at Denny’s and my wife strikes up a conversation with a complete stranger and of course we know the same people and have the same interests. 

A family at another table was obviously listening to our conversation and they decided to chime in.  While they are not involved in animal rescue on any ‘formal’ level they do have six cats and like our six cats they rescued them all.  They also happened to be looking for a good vet, and seeing as we just found a good vet in the area we were able to help them out on that front. 

After all this time I’m not sure why I am still surprised over incidents like this, but I am.  What worries me is I’m getting used to it, what worries me more is I am starting to think that it is a good and positive way to live.  What pisses me off however is that now I learn that Sparrow has people to transport animals.  Where the heck was this information before the skunk incident?

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Stardate 11/25/09 11:09 pm Mount Nittany Medical Center, emergency room, State College Pa.

Evening started out easily enough sitting around watching TV rejoicing in the fact that tomorrow is a holiday and I took the day after that as a vacation day and then it’s the weekend. Four days off in a row. Suddenly it happens, the phone rings. I hate phones they make loud sudden noises and when you go to shut them up there is somebody on the other end wanting to ‘arghh’ talk to you. The horror!

Well it was my neighbour on the phone, it would have been so much better if it was the neighbours I don’t like, (funny, they never call. I should probably like them). Her husband is away, she had to put her cat down  and she is feeling horrible, has been home all day can’t eat and has been throwing up and really needs a ride to the emergency room. Like I said, good thing my wife and I really like these people or she would be finding her own way. We changed into our respectable street clothes, grabbed the neighbour drove like a crazy people over the thick as pea soup fog covered mountains praying the entire time that a deer doesn’t jump out in front of us, stopping twice only long enough so our neighbour could go stand in the ditch and puke.

My job now is to sit in the waiting room, I’m reasonably sure I can handle this task.  Not many people here tonight and between it being bear hunting season, buck season, drunken thanksgiving and of course smack dab in the middle of the h1N1 scare I kinda thought that this would be the bustling place. Wrong!

My observations;

The people sitting behind me are way to comfortable. They even brought a picnic dinner. I think I’ll go sit closer to them.

Based on the attire of those that do manage to show up it appears that I overdressed for the occasion. Jeans and a T-shirt are out, PJ’s and fuzzy slippers are in.

Uh oh Pregnant lady just walked in. I can assure you I’m not birthing no baby no matter how much they beg. Coast is clear an orderly whom by the way didn’t look that orderly just  took her away.

The public water fountain is making me nervous. In these days of wide spread pandemics, epidemics and academics you would think in a hospital they would do away with such a barbaric device. There are these little hand wipe canisters every two feet and posters on the walls teaching you how to cough without spreading germs, (putting your nose and mouth into the crook of your elbow appears to be the accepted method) But by all means go ahead and use this water fountain that every sick person has been touching WITH THEIR MOUTHS.

I’ve walked another two circuits of the waiting room, not much to report except the two EMT’s standing on the other side of the glass doors which I am forbidden to pass through are far to young to be out this late never mind driving and saving people.

My wife and neighbour are coming through the glass doors on their own volition and my neighbour looks  better than she did when we brought her in and my wife is as beautiful as ever.

All that’s left is the drive home through the thick as pea soup fog covered mountains with the leaping deer and all will be good.

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