Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bus Lines: Ditching the Morning Bus Ride Drama

The bus route that goes by my apartment complex is probably the best one in the entire transit system. I used to ride that bus to Other City around 9:30 a.m. at least once a week. I liked taking the bus, instead of the train, because I had less of a walk to the library.

But I won’t ride that bus in the morning anymore.

Some very needy people board the bus when it reaches a certain stop a few miles from my destination. I’ve learned that those passengers probably have just left a neighborhood homeless shelter or a nearby soup kitchen.

Unfortunately, several of them seem to have mental health or anger management issues. According to a deputy sheriff, many of them are on probation or parole. During almost every trip, at least one of them will become disruptive. Their loud rants and ramblings about politics, the transit system, and whatever else upsets them frequently offend other passengers who can’t pass up the chance to verbally spar with them.

Sometimes these sad individuals verbally attack other passengers whose only offense is asking them to please quiet down. I was brought up to be nice, but there are times when I have to fight the urge to tell them to shut up.

Yes, I do know better. Some of these people are scary.

Other passengers have told me that the transit company is reluctant to ban passengers with a covered disability out of fear of violating ADA regulations. One very rude and disruptive passenger said that she could say or do whatever she wanted to and get away with it. She boasted that the transit company would never ban her from riding the bus because she is disabled and would complain to the ADA.

Apparently the only way disruptive disabled passengers can be banned from riding public transportation is if they physically attack the driver or another passenger.

I feel very sorry for these people whose lives are in shambles. And I realize that they have the right to ride public transportation. But I’ve decided that I just can’t put up with their outbursts any longer. I don’t think that what they seem to believe is their right to freak out during a bus ride supersedes my right to have a safe, reasonably drama-free trip to the library. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Another Mom and Pop Store Out of Business

[Note: This is sort of a rerun. I previously posted about this store, but this post is, obviously, the final one.]

The other day, I decided I needed a few more small plastic containers to house my endless supply of beads. So I took a walk to a nearby discount store. The store was closed. Permanently.

I’m not sure when that happened as I hadn’t been there for a couple of months. Maybe the owners decided not to renew their lease on general principles. Then again, maybe the national discount chain that is currently remodeling a nearby store had something to do with the decision to close the Mom and Pop store.

Although I previously had bought beaucoup small plastic containers and a few other things there, I wasn’t impressed with the place. It was a dark, dusty, disorganized store filled with mostly low quality merchandise. Like the store that will supplant it soon, it wasn’t actually a dollar store. Most of the items sold for more than one dollar. The most expensive item I noticed, a personal cart, was priced around seven dollars.

As I mentioned before, I will always wonder if the store owners thought their customers didn’t deserve a clean, well-organized store.

And as I mentioned before, the store was owned by members of one ethnic group, but the majority of customers were mostly low-income members of another group. During the past two years, I  went there maybe once a month. I usually noticed one or two customers and/or their children trashing the displays, but most customers were respectful of the inventory and the owners. 

Just my opinion, but I think the owners should have made more of an effort to keep the place picked up out of respect for the people who kept them in business for years.

Sorry if I’m perceived by some readers as being insensitive or politically incorrect, but, honestly, I’m not really sad to see that one go.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Next Time, I'll Remember When the Store Opens

One Friday morning not too long ago, I think I inadvertently surprised and, most likely, upset a shop employee. Honestly, I didn’t mean to do it.

I needed one or two inexpensive plastic containers for my beads. I wasn’t sure if the store had opened yet, but I decided to walk down there and find out. What I found were two ladies standing on the sidewalk in front of the store. “Is the store open?” I asked. They frowned, and one of them mumbled something. Uh, oh, they didn’t speak English. Or maybe they just weren’t speaking it to me.

I peeked through the door. The interior looked dark, so I figured the store wasn’t open yet. However, the lighting there is dismal, anyway, so I tugged at the door. Not locked. I pulled it open and saw a shop employee (SE) stacking up toys near the register. She frowned and told me the store didn’t open until 10 a.m. I was ten minutes early. I thought, Hey, if you’re not open, keep the door locked. I started to close the door, but she told me come in.

I walked in, followed by the women who probably just assumed they were included in the invitation. I don’t think SE noticed them standing behind me. She didn’t look happy to see them. I suspect that SE is probably well acquainted with them.

Supposedly, the store is one of those dollar-type places; however, items generally sell for between one and five dollars. Although I’ve found a few good things there (like inexpensive plastic containers), most of the merchandise isn’t the best quality. The displays are drab, dingy, and disorganized. And the place could use a good scrubbing.

The immediate neighborhood is composed of members of one ethnic group who, I would guess, are mostly low income folks. The store owners are members of another ethnic group. I would bet that the owners are not neighborhood residents.

The majority of the store’s customers are neighborhood residents. Every time I shop there, I notice one or two customers and/or their offspring tossing merchandise around or dropping it where it doesn’t belong. Their behavior always reminds me of the several times I worked at retail jobs and seemed to be constantly picking up discarded merchandise and putting it back where it belonged. That was a never-ending job.

I suspect that maybe, just maybe, the owners of the neighborhood store intentionally keep the store drab, dingy, and disorganized. Maybe they think the neighborhood residents wouldn't “appreciate” a clean store. No matter how many times the store was cleaned up,  shoppers would just trash it again, and again, and again.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

NaNoWriMo is Over for 2014

Well, NaNoWriMo is over for another year. This year, I managed to write 52,539 words in 25 days before deciding to call it quits. In 2013, I gave up halfway through the month and wrote only 10,000 words. Guess I had a lot of other things to keep me busy in November 2013. Now I have to focus on revising my NaNoWriMo project and getting back to blogging on a semi-regular basis.


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Started in the Library, Ended in the Street

Some poor soul with mental health issues recently freaked out in the Oceanside library. Among other things, he overturned a table, prompting security to call for reinforcements. Figuring he was in trouble, the man fled from the library, ran across the street, and plopped down on the curb in front of the petite madeline Bakery and Patisserie (yes, that’s how their sign reads).

I had decided to stop there first before heading to the library. Thanks to a serious need for a caffeine fix, I missed witnessing the man’s outburst. Instead, I sipped coffee and watched as four police officers showed up.

My view of the confrontation was partially obstructed by customers sitting at tables near the window. Although the man didn’t seem belligerent, one of the officers pointed something at him. That move didn't look good. “Is she pointing a gun at him?” I asked a customer sitting near the window.

“No, it’s a Taser.”

The man apparently decided to surrender peacefully, so one of the officers cuffed him and sat him in the back of a cruiser. Then all four officers huddled on the sidewalk and discussed something for what seemed like forever.

I wondered why it took four of them to arrest one man. I can understand why two officers would answer the call because, these days, they never know what they’re going to find.

When I walked over to the library a little later, I noticed an evidence van parked on the side of the building. Hmm. . . .  Did the police confiscate the table?

Hey, you never know.

Friday, September 05, 2014

My First Day of School Wasn't That Exciting

Yesterday morning I watched the neighborhood moms marching their kids to school. There were legions of them, both moms and kids. The elementary school is located just west of a busy intersection. So I understand why the moms walk their younger kids to school. But I sometimes wonder how the older ones feel about that.

My mother walked me to school only once, on my first day at kindergarten back in the Early Jurassic Period.

My memory of that day has blurred over the years. I know that I looked forward to going to school. However, even at the age of five, I was quite independent and liked being able to roam the neighborhood, within boundaries of course. I must have suspected that I would have to give up some of my freedom for a few hours a day.

I will never forget sitting in that kindergarten classroom surrounded by squeaky clean kids who were dressed to the nines. Some of my new classmates looked bemused; several of them wept quietly. Others were sobbing as though they thought the first day of school was the end of the world.

In hindsight, I guess it really was the end of our world as we knew it.

But there I was, sitting at my pint-sized desk, squeaky clean and dressed to the nines. I probably was bored out of my mind and eager for my education to begin. Or maybe I was plotting my escape.

I remember that I was totally mystified by the kids who ran sobbing to their moms standing at the back of the room. I’m pretty sure some of those moms were sobbing, too. My mother wasn’t one of them. I know Mom missed my being around after I started school, but it’s not like I was her only child. I had two brothers, one of them less than a year old.

I thought, What the heck is wrong with these kids? I’ve waited five years to get away from home.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Mystery Novels Can Be Hazardous to Your Sleep

Maybe I should stick to reading romances before bedtime. I suspect that reading mystery novels probably isn’t the best way to relax at the end of the day.

The other night, I stayed up way too late because I wanted to finish reading a serial killer novel. Actually, another character with homicidal tendencies also popped up in the story. That one was a surprise— and not a pleasant one.

Later that night, or, more likely, very early the next morning, I had a dream about the second murderer, the one who wasn’t a serial killer. I’ll call him “Dewey,” but that’s not his fictional real name.

I dreamed that Dewey had kidnapped me and one of my friends. He threatened to kill us if we made the proverbial false move. Dewey drove us to a humongous industrial complex where he forced us to apply for assembly line jobs at a company that manufactured some of those widgets hyped in “as seen on TV” ads. To add to the weirdness, the interviewer looked a lot like someone I had worked with back in the Late Jurassic Period.

I told the interviewer that the creep lurking at the back of the room had shanghaied my friend and me. I repeatedly asked the interviewer to call the police, but he ignored my pleas. He kept chattering away like a wound-up robot, expounding on the requirements for the job and complaining about Obamacare. Then he asked, “If we hire you, will you go to the company picnic?”

(Yikes! I actually was asked that question during an interview, but it wasn’t a picnic; it was a Christmas party. And, yes, I was hired. And, yes, I went.)

I was desperate to ditch both Dewey and the interviewer. One scared me and had a gun and the other seemed insane. Fortunately, stupid Dewey had neglected to confiscate my cell phone. So I went to the ladies’ room and frantically scrolled through my contacts list. Instead of calling 9-1-1, I searched for a certain individual’s phone number. I found it and poked the number.

And then I woke up.