Finally the watch commander, Sergeant Pessis, arrived on the scene. He quickly identified our situation. He could see the fees were paid, and that it would be a great inconvenience for me to return to the Bay Area without my truck. He phoned the antagonist, Ronny, and told him to release the vehicle. When grumpy Ronny restated his reasons for keeping the vehicle our hero said, "I'm the main guy here. Put it on me." We liked Sergeant Pessis.
We returned to the yard where Ronny still made us a wait for a while. Eventually, I paid a ridiculous fee to reacquire my own automobile, because someone else stole it from me. Finally, it was towed to a nearby spot on the street. Now we had my vehicle, but no key.
Earlier in the tow yard I learned from a friendly employee, not named Ronny, that old trucks like mine were often easy to steal. The ignition can be worn down enough a key from another truck of the same model would often work in either automobile.
We called a few different locksmiths until we were quoted a price of $80 to make a new key. The locksmith said he would be arriving in a green Mustang in 45 minutes. He showed up over an hour later, but in the Mustang as promised. The driver was a large white guy wearing a wife-beater displaying his heavily tattooed arms. His sidekick, an even larger black guy, remained in the passenger seat talking on his cell phone. Their appearance led you to believe they may have been late because they stopped to buy some marijuana on the way.
After we explained the situation to him he returned from the Mustang with a key and file. He then proceeded, by hand, to file the key down until it would open my truck. The process took about 45 minutes. I asked our "locksmith" if he knew if it was easy to steal a car like mine. The white guy, in his wife-beater, who was filing a key by hand, looked straight at me and said, "I don't know nothin' about stealin' cars." I accepted his answer and didn't inquire as to how he got into the trade.
Finally, with the process nearing an end, his black counterpart finished the cell phone conversation and emerged from the Mustang. Upon their arrival I expected him to have some part in the process, but I observed no participation. So I said to the well-built black guy, that was twice my size, "So what do you do here? Nothing?" The good-humored gentleman responded, "I'm security. I got people all around here surrounding this place. You're lucky I didn't wear my hat today, because if I turn it backwards they shoot." We all laughed. I don't know if Mark was more amused from his answer or that I was willing to ask that guy the question.
The two-sided key only worked one way, but it would get us home. We paid our $80, and after I requested it, we received a makeshift receipt with a couple things scribbled on it. So I finally had my truck back and it felt great. I was so happy to see it. I wanted to give my truck a hug, but I don't really know how one would hug an automobile. I also wanted to give Sergeant Pessis a hug, but didn't know how that would be received. We dropped the rental at the Enterprise near LAX, and with my new key, old truck, a gallon of water, and three people, we joyfully headed north to the Bay Area.
Both of my nurses yesterday were a little older than me. My nurse in the pre-operation room was extremely attractive. They made me take my contacts out during the surgery so the nurse I had in recovery I didn't get a good look at for a while, but I think he was pretty attractive too. They were both very friendly, like the type of people I would enjoy hanging out with outside of the hospital.
However, when I asked him out he didn't seem interested.
I plan to resume tomorrow with my regular column. But if you would like to read mundane details about my life and recovering from surgery I plan to post that on my other blog.
Need a hammer, two pillows, a toaster, and a gallon of milk?
Beautiful. It's like one-stop shopping. Some people would go to four stores to get those things.
That's how I'm starting to feel about the ER. Need a blood sample, urine sample, x-ray, ultrasound, and intravenous medicines?
I did. Monday Morning.
Beautiful. It's like one-stop shopping. Some people would go all over the hospital to get those things.
Plus the hours are great. You don't have to schedule an appointment in advance. And, similar to the gym, if you go at certain hours (like 3am) there is a lot of availability and not a lot of distractions. It only costs me $35 too. (which is $35 more than my regular doctor co-pay.) However, if you consider the convenience and benefits I think $35 is a bargain.
I landed in Sacramento Sunday night at 6:30pm. At the Dallas airport I enjoyed a meaty burger with fries from TGIF. Also, I had a small snack on the plane. By the time I was home I wasn't that hungry. About 8:30pm I decided instead of having an actual dinner I would just fry up a couple eggs before bed. Two fried eggs with salt and pepper. That's it. That's all I ate. Within 30 minutes I had bad stomach pains. I managed to fall asleep before ten, but when I woke up at 12:30 the pains were still there. Sharp. Constant. I called the advice nurse and described the situation. She asked if I had anyone that could drive me to the emergency room. Not really. It's 12:30. Then she said she wanted to talk a doctor and get back to me. After consulting one of the docs in ER she came back and said because I wasn't throwing-up, or having diarrhea, or other symptoms I didn't need to come in. Just take some Tums and Tylenol.
I wish I was throwing up or having diarrhea. Then I at least would know my body was doing something about it. Instead, I was just in pain. Sharp. Constant.
Tylenol and Tums. I dug through the medicine cabinet, but found neither. Drove to Safeway. At 1am. As I'm buying only two things: Tyenol and Tums, the cashier scans my items and politely asks, "How are you doing tonight?" Several possible responses enter my mind.
"Could be better," was my response.
That was the truth. For some reason I didn't think those drugs would help. I didn't feel upset to my stomach. This was different. I had packed a backpack for the ER even before the trip to Safeway. Finally, around 3am I caved and drove the emergency room.
I got my own room this time. Room 11. The doctor asked me some questions. One of them involved ulcers. That sounded like a good lead. I asked him if that was what he was thinking. He said he was thinking about 28 different things. He didn't elaborate on the other 27.
Later I was rolled to x-rays. This was a new ER treatment for me. I felt pretty special being pushed through the hall. At least until I heard them talking about me. "Take room 11 to x-rays." Then upon arrival, "Room 11. Here for x-rays." The x-ray lady said, "You Kevin?" "Yes, but room 11 is fine. That's what they're calling me now."
They pushed me back to my room. Nobody ever mentioned the results of my stomach x-rays. Later the doctor came back with an ultrasound machine. He rolled it on my stomach. He even let me see the picture.
I have gallstones. Lots of them.
He made an appointment for me to see the surgeon, and gave me some drugs to take until then. Told me to eat a low-fat diet. Stay away from things like milk, foods that are high in fat, and fried eggs.
I asked him for a drug to help me sleep. He said he would get me something. I was thinking for right now, but he thought I meant to take home. I'm very thankful for the misunderstanding.
After some commotion it was agreed I wouldn't drive home (I believe it was just after 5am) until I took a nap. I slept until about the time half of Sacramento showed up (around 8am). A few of the loudest residents were assigned to room 12.
When I woke at 8am I unhooked several things from my body. Two on my chest, one on my stomach, and one on my finger. Once free from the chords I walked down the hall to use the bathroom. Came back to room 11 and got dressed and ready to go.
I asked the nurse some dietary questions, and she came back with a paper saying stuff I should and should not eat. She checked my vitals and said I could go. I asked where to pay and she directed me to lady at the desk in the middle.
I land in the massive Dallas airport. I have over two hours before my next flight so I scan the monitors. Another flight leaves for St. Louis in forty minutes. Gate C11. It is nowhere near my gate, but I have time. Just as I'm contemplating my options I see a call from my sister, who I thought was already in St. Louis.
"Vickie! Why are you calling me? Don't you think I'm on a plane or something?" "Aren't you in Dallas?" "Yeah. Just landed. How did you know that?" "Paco told me." "Where are you?" "Dallas too." "Oh, are you at gate C11?" "YES! Can you see me?!!?!!!?"
It turned out my sister is flying standby. She already has missed one flight, and just learned she won't likely be getting on the flight leaving from gate C11. Grandpa's funeral is tomorrow, and the viewing is today from noon to nine. We've already missed some of it, but I should still get there sometime just after six. My sister, on the other hand, has no idea when she will get there. I can't see her, but I begin to head for gate C11. I'm still on the shuttle heading across the airport. My phone rings. It is Vickie again, wondering where I am. I'll be right there. Finally, I arrive. I see her from a few hundred feet away. I can see it on her face. A face that just says, "I'm really glad you're here. I need someone with me right now." I walk toward her. She walks toward me. Then I wrap my arms around her and hold her. It is one of the greatest hugs of my life. A time where I didn't need words to convey what I was saying:
You're not alone now. I'm here with you. And it is going to be okay.
I buy us some lunch. For some reason the $3.50 price tag on the small appetizing plastic box of green apples, dried cranberries, and blue cheese seems reasonable. I get that along with a soup and a salad. The apples with cranberries are delicious. I watch my sister's temperament change from anxious to relaxed. We still do not know if she's going to make it on my flight or have to wait for another one, but for a second that doesn't matter. What matters is I am here. She calls our brother Scott back. He was doing his best to take care of her despite already being in St. Louis. She fills him in on the details, and then passes the phone to me.
I say to Scott, "I got her."
He doesn't even need to respond. That is all he wanted to know. I can tell he would have been there himself if possible.
The next day I spoke at Grandpa's funeral. I shared about our hug at gate C11. Maybe sometimes it takes death to realize what's important in life. Too often we are too concerned with the insignificant. Thursday, I had the opportunity to be there when my sister needed me. I'm so glad I was, because I didn't want her to have to go through it alone.
Following one of the greatest times of my life (summer of 2003) I had a string of tumultuous events at the end of my vacation. My truck was stolen. My identity was stolen. The thieves bought an assortment of items using the credit cards that were still in my back pocket, including an $80 trip to Pizza Hut. Who eats that much pizza? Party on me. I pick up the story the night after hitting a motorcyclist on the way back from the Dodgers game. Now, with a stolen vehicle, a stolen identity, a damaged rental car, and a damaged ego, I had to head back to San Jose on Sunday. However, we learned Saturday afternoon my stolen vehicle had finally turned up in the LA area. Here are my thoughts from that day in 2003:
I woke up at 6:45am Sunday and looked up some information before waking Mark and Sean. The three of us arrived at the tow yard Sunday at 8:10am. There were a couple of people in front of us in line so we finally were helped a few minutes before 9:00. They opened the door to the back and I was allowed to see my vehicle. I was to look at it to determine if it was in good enough shape for me to repossess it.
I guess it was somewhat like how it might feel picking your girlfriend up at the airport after a 20-hour return flight from Europe. She clearly doesn't look as good as she usually does, but after five weeks of not seeing her, to you, she looks as beautiful as ever. It made me almost want to just go kiss my truck. But instead I examined it for damage.
Everything was gone. They added an empty beer can to the trash already existing in the cab, but everything of value was gone. The glove box was cleared out. The bed, which previously contained nearly everything I owned, boasted just one gallon of store-bought water. I don't know why the thieves didn't take the water; it was still in a sealed container. I guess stealing my stuff didn't make them thirsty.
The exterior of the car was extremely dirty. The dash was a little damaged from how they removed the stereo, but overall the truck looked like it was in fairly good shape. For the most part they seemed to be fairly conscientious thieves. I opted to drive the truck home, but was unaware of the struggle to follow.
We returned to Ronny, the guy behind the desk that may have been in the most recent "Grumpy Old Men" movie. He was in no hurry helping each customer despite only being open for such a short period of time during the weekends (8am-10am). Ronny explained to us that I could not have my car because it had expired tags. I told him that the tags expired during the time the vehicle was stolen. Also, I need to smog the vehicle for registration. I said this implying that I would indeed need the truck in order to smog it.
Ronny rebutted by saying that I need to have my DMV fees paid before he would release the vehicle. With a hint of malice, or possibly just apathy, Ronny had no trouble not caring at all about us. Fortunately, I had paid the DMV fees before it was ever stolen, and was ready for him to release my truck. Unfortunately, the DMV was closed, so he called the police to get the information. He was able to confirm the registration was not current because it lacked smog verification. However, this was not sufficient for our friend Ronny. He insisted that because it did not specifically say the fees were paid the vehicle would not be released.
I made multiple failed phone attempts to achieve the desired information. The police were able to see that the registration was held up by smog and not fees, but they could not provide documentation to prove it. I was instructed to call the DMV Monday morning. But I didn't have until Monday morning. I had till Ronny left (at 10:00am), and the clock was ticking. We rushed to the nearby Inglewood police department. The woman there gave us a form to release the vehicle, and we scurried back to the yard. We were abrasively greeted by Ronny who quickly informed us the paper in our hand did nothing to help our cause. I tried to formulate an argument, but was shot down. We were sent on our way.
Thinking our quest was lost I still made one last ditch effort by returning to the police station. Now it is was just minutes before 10:00 and we returned to our friend behind the counter. We reiterated our problem, and she told us to wait for the "watcherman." We were at least able to get a few laughs waiting for the "watcherman." While we were anticipating his arrival two black women near us, who were more fluent in "ghetto," correctly translated the term to be "watch commander."
Stay tuned next week to learn about the aid of the watcherman, the locksmith in the green Mustang, and the secret security team.
Is fantasy sports destroying real sports? Grown men (and women) sit at their computers and "manage" a fake "team" trying to beat their friends. Now, if I go to a sports bar I may see the same guy rooting for two different teams. He doesn't even like either team; he is just cheering for his fantasy players. What's the problem? The actual game itself isn't interesting enough? We need to create a little fantasy world to give us something to cheer about. There is now fantasy everything. Fantasy soccer. Fantasy Golf. Fantasy Poker. It is getting a little ridiculous. I, and a lot of other men out there, recognize what is happening... and we love it.
This year alone I am going to play in fantasy baseball, basketball, and football. Three baseball teams. Three different types of football leagues. And I'll probably do a bracket for March Madness. (that's all I know of for now.)
If that isn't ridiculous enough... Recently I've been participating in some mock baseball drafts. This is where baseball nerds go to practice picking their teams, for a league that doesn't even exist, so we can be better prepared when we pick our players for our actual fake baseball league. Somebody stop me. It's getting excessive.
I hope we draft soon, because this fantasy is consuming my thoughts. Thankfully, I was thinking about what to write for this column tonight so I didn't participate in another mock draft.