The Head of the Class

By Jim Hagarty
2017

The letter came in the mail in an unassuming presentation. Almost as though the plain, white envelope contained little more than advertising. But it didn’t. Inside were riches unimaginable.

It was a notice from a law firm acting on behalf of the shareholders of a large company trading on the stock market which had run afoul of regulations. There had been a class-action suit filed and a settlement was finally arrived at.

That settlement is $69 million. I will write it out as it seems more impressive done that way. Sixty-nine million dollars.

The law firm was searching for people who owned shares of this company between 2004 and 2009. As it happens, my wife and I did own shares in that company during that period which is why we got the letter. In fact, we owned a lot of shares, 1,091 of them. That is a very large number to me. I do not own 1,091 of anything, not even screwnails though I do have three peanut butter jars full of them.

I am not a stock market expert, not even close, but I cannot imagine anyone else owning even a fraction of the shares in this company that we did. We owned, after all, 1,091 of them. I am also not a mathematician but I have a good feeling with our majority stake in this company back then, we can probably expect a cool thirty or forty million coming our way. We will know for sure in 60 days.

I was at the coffee shop when I opened the envelope and I called my wife from the Cadillac dealership which is located between the restaurant and our home. I told her the good news and wondered what colour of new Caddy she would prefer. She didn’t have an opinion on that but instead, advised me to come right home so we could talk about this new development in our lives. I might be mistaken but I think I remember her using the same tone of voice when she was trying to talk our kids into climbing down carefully from the highest branches of the maple tree in our yard.

So I told the dealer “the red one” and then rushed straight home to celebrate our sudden good fortune with my spouse. She is not usually a spoil sport but on this occasion, she put forward the idea that we might not see even $20 million of the settlement funds, let alone forty. I was disappointed by her pessimism but pretended to be reasonable. She took the position that there might have been a few investors who owned more than 1,091 shares in the company between 2004 and 2009, as doubtful a possibility as could be. In fact, she guessed that some people might have actually owned many times more than 1,091 shares, a position I found totally unimaginable. I still maintain that 1,091 is a big number, whether we’re talking screwnails, stars or stocks. And I realized the more she talked the poorer we were becoming so I dropped the subject.

Then I set to work filling out the required forms to ensure we qualified for our cut of the settlement, or our eff ewe money, as I like to call it when my wife is not around.

It took me a month to fill out those stupid forms. And during that period, I discovered something funny. I swore out loud more than 1,091 times during that month and the strange thing is, it hardly seemed like I was swearing at all. All I know is there were long stretches during that process when the dog and cats went missing.

Today was the last day to send in our application. I spent the whole day finishing it up, swearing and rushing it to the post office before the deadline.

I have never known my wife to be wrong on many occasions but boy is she in for a surprise two months from now.
Either that or I will be calling the class-action lawyers and yelling, “Eff Ewe!” into the phone.

I will report on the lawyers’ decision in eight weeks’ time but don’t expect me to wave at you from my red Caddy. I will have moved up a class or two by then.

Top of the Mornin’

By Jim Hagarty
2013

It seems to me, life is like this. Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies and Shreddies. Once in a while, Lucky Charms, maybe Cap’n Crunch. Then Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies and Shreddies. Oh Happy Day: Fruit Loops! Euphoria unending: Frosted Flakes. Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies and Shreddies. Then there are long stretches of granola. With honey. With nuts. With honey and nuts. With apple. With almond. With apple and almond. Granola in chunky clusters, granola loose as sand. But sooner or later, you may as well face reality, you will be sitting there at breakfast eating Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies or Shreddies. And that’s OK because they make the Fruit Loops days just all that much sweeter.

When We Are Where We Belong

When We Are Where We Belong
2017

We ask ourselves, from time to time,
Whether we are happy or not.
But we only really know for sure
When misery takes over our thought.

Then we see, by remembering,
Wherein the difference rests.
When happy, our lives are synchronized;
Unhappy, our days are a mess.

But a simple rule can serve as a guide
When we wonder why things are so wrong:
We are happy when we have managed to be
Exactly where we belong.

And just the reverse, when life seems so hard
And we don’t know the words to our song,
It’s because we are occupying a place
Where we simply could never belong.

But the Universe is rarely in error
And will always deliver a way,
To get us back up on just the right path
Which will lead to a happier day.

-JH

A Classy Ford Fairlane

Last week, I stopped at a service centre along Highway 401 just west of London when I spied a small crowd of old guys admiring this 1955 Ford Fairlane Crown Victoria in the parking lot. I took a bunch of photos and eventually was approached by the owner, a man who lives near a village called Rodney, not far from London. He told me the story of his vehicle. He bought a car just like the one pictured here, brand new, in 1955. But after a few years he sold it to someone who really wanted it. He regretted that decision and 30 years ago he was able to replace his first car with the one pictured here. One unique feature of the classy car is that the front half of the roof is made of glass. The front licence plate is a clue to the car’s history” HAD 1B4.

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Oh Those Stupid Races

By Jim Hagarty
2014

Well isn’t that cute, I thought. One of the horses in the race we were betting on was called You Can’t Fix Stupid. Six of us former journalism teachers were sitting around a monitor and looking out the big windows at the racetrack, following the excitement and checking our tickets after every race. We had each thrown $20 in a pot and when that was gone, we’d quit betting. This night, we were doing pretty well. In fact, by Race 5 we were up almost $500.

I’m new to this but nevertheless I was sent up to place our bets for Race 6. I took some money, approached the wicket and carefully placed $24 worth of $2 bets. When the race was over, there was great rejoicing at our table. We had won $499.80.

OMG we’ve made a thousand dollars tonight went the shouts and there were still six races to go.

One of the other teachers grabbed the winning ticket and went to the wicket to collect. He was there a long time and he seemed to be almost arguing with one of the women there. I suggested helpfully that maybe she didn’t have enough cash to pay us. Someone else said he looked like he was negotiating with the clerk. Finally, he turned and came back to the table with a disgusted look on his face. He tossed the ticket on the table in front of me. “You bet on the wrong race,” he said to me.

It was quiet on the way home, all of us in the car. The only thing that saved me at all was the fact that our winning streak carried on for the rest of the night and we ended up ahead $800. Nevertheless, there was some suggestion made that I would be left in a cornfield somewhere and the words “hide the body” were also spoken but I am not sure what that was all about. I didn’t want to know.

All I do know for sure is You Can’t Fix Stupid didn’t win, place or show, and I felt badly for him as he and I seemed to be kindred spirits that night.

Cleaned Up Good

By Jim Hagarty
2013

Picked up the phone just now.

How are you sir? Don’t understand, don’t understand, $120, don’t understand, flat rate, don’t understand, guaranteed, don’t understand, don’t understand, don’t understand, limited time offer, don’t understand, no hidden fees, don’t understand, when would you like us to start?

Never, I guess, because I do not speak whatever language you are speaking and as a result, I really don’t know what you are selling. Duct cleaning, carpet cleaning, tractor cleaning – not quite sure. I think you want to clean something.

Sorry.

Friendly guy not so friendly any more. Click.

Now, what was I doing with my life when I was so rudely interrupted? Oh yeah, I was cleaning the floor.