Monthly Archives: November 2017

Just how cold was it?

How many times have you played a leading role in a real-life winter pageant? You need to gas up your car on a December night, to have it ready for a trip to warmer climes, like Albuquerque, and rather than waiting till morning, you head out to a station at night.

You insert your debit card, punch the necessary buttons and wait for the pump to read your card. You’re greeted by some commercials, right on the screen, when the first of many arctic blasts hits you, loosening all your back teeth. Then, as another gust arrives, you struggle to thread the pump into your tank while debating whether to wait in the car, despite the chance the pump won’t shut off automatically and you’ll flood the pavement. And pay for the spilled gas.

It seems that Mother Nature holds back her icy gusts until the precise moment that you realize you’ve forgotten to pop open the gas tank. That’s common. But becoming just as common is having to wait for a long time just to complete your transaction at an ATM. Here’s what I’ve noticed only recently.

Somehow, the ATM I use has begun to provide commercials. Rather than 1) Insert card, 2) a list of possible tasks I need help with, like withdrawals, one gets treated to a series of repetitious commercials in which a president of some bank apologizes for some mortal sin committed years ago and vows that it’ll never happen again. Continue reading

A primer on expressions

It’s been only in my adult years that I’ve come across the term “Black Friday.” I’ve heard several explanations as to why it’s called that — some much more plausible than others.

Three of the most common explanations about the term have to do with weather conditions and pollution, the kind we find in big cities, compounded by rain, snow, sleet and sludge, as shoppers rush home with their treasures.

Not convinced? Then what about the opening of the holiday Christmas season, wherein those treasure-seeking shoppers turn their financial statuses red as merchants’ ledgers turn black?

And finally, some contend the term refers to members of the clergy, who wear black in anticipation of Easter Sunday. Continue reading

Lots of zeroes in a billion

Listening to a radio broadcast on population trends in the U.S., I was amazed at how anybody could possibly understand the amount or meaning of figures the announcer tossed out.

That was a few years ago, as we drove through Indiana en route to a reunion for Bonnie’s side of the family. We hold such a reunion every four years and take turns as “hosts.

You see, the Coppock clan east of the Mississippi generally opts for a site for the three-day event somewhere in the east; we’ve been mainly to the Midwest states but have traveled as far east as Ohio and West Virginia.

We westerners usually select a cool spot in Colorado or Utah. A message on radio caught our attention: the announcer gave the then-current world population estimate at just above seven billion. That’s a seven followed by NINE zeroes. Continue reading

They searched in vein

Although it’s now a few days past Halloween, the subject of ghosts, goblins, gore and blood are still relevant.

The blood bank to which I went to make a deposit fittingly had spooky things on the walls of the Santa Fe donation center, and I even received a scary t-shirt for my effort. Recently, on Facebook, I mentioned the visit to the Capital City and received a reply from Rosalie, a former co-English teacher who asked why I hadn’t simply donated blood in Las Vegas.

I don’t know. If there is such a center in this town, I’m not aware of it, and the Santa Fe center remind me of the TV program “Cheers,” “where everybody knows (my) name.” I can joke with the staff there.

As I entered, two phlebotomists greeted me with “Hi, Art.” I told them I was disappointed: “I expected you to greet me with ‘We’ve come to take your blllllooooooodd.” So they corrected themselves and apologized for having forgotten the Bella Lugosi spiel we all remember from Dracula movies. Continue reading

49 cents can be a dollar

A penny was a lot in my youth. As a child, I used to count each one, hoping the number would increase.

Something like that happened when I was around 10 and considered myself the Rockefeller of Railroad Avenue. I was one of zillions of Optic sellers. If I sold 10 copies each day, I’d go home expecting some car company to have delivered my brand new Lamborghini.

Around Christmas time that year, after counting and re-counting all my pennies and stacking them in tidy rows of 10, I eyeballed the stacks and discovered I was missing a penny. That made me “pennic,” a word I coined for that occasion.

I took a handful of the coins and flung them all around the room, an act that startled and then amused my Uncle Juan, who shared the room with my brother Severino and me. I reasoned that after gathering all the coins, the 50th one would magically appear. Maybe the AWOL coin would have gotten lonesome and decided to join the others. Continue reading