My Morning Protein Drink

By Jim Hagarty
2017

We face many decisions in life. Halfway through the best takeout coffee I’ve had in weeks, sitting under my favourite shade tree, I notice a dead fruit fly floating on top of the brown elixir. Curses. Try several times to scoop it out with my finger but succeed only in driving it down into the liquid, never to be seen again. Finish my drink or throw it out? Now I have to swallow a spider to catch the fly.

Deal of a Lifetime

By Jim Hagarty
2012

I bought a new, big, black, plastic garbage can to put out at the street every week. Thirty dollars or so.

Today I noticed, as I was removing a sticker from it, that it has a lifetime warranty. Really? I am 61 now. When I am 91 and the thing falls apart as I drag it out to the curb, will I really contact somebody about it to get my money back? The store I bought it at will probably be gone by then. Maybe even the company that made it.

So how much time am I going to be able to spend by then tracking down the people who promised to replace my garbage can if it breaks? And it will break because plastic left outside eventually becomes brittle and cracks. And with our garbage pickup guys treating it like they were roping a bull at a rodeo, its lifespan will be limited for sure.

So why print “lifetime warranty” on this thing when everyone knows that except for the first few months maybe, those words hold absolutely no meaning? It would have been just as true to have put “free food for the next 50 years” on it.

At least that promise I might try to collect on.

The 1964 Mercury Montclair

I saw this lovely 1964 Mercury Montclair in a parking lot at a muffler shop near my home in Stratford, Ontario, Canada recently. One unique feature of this semi-luxury car was the back window, the middle section of which rolled down. Mercury was part of Ford’s lineup of cars back then and it was always a step up from the basic Ford lines. I don’t believe Mercury even exists as a brand these days. – JH

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The Tables Have Turned

By Jim Hagarty
2012

I went for my daily walk yesterday morning and had a few things on my mind. I can’t remember what things, exactly, but I know one thing that I wasn’t thinking about when I left the house. I had absolutely no plan to get more furniture for the rec room.

Along the streets I walked, turned a corner and there they were: Four, perfectly good, solid wooden TV tables, all standing in a wooden case. Interesting. As I was looking them over, Frank, the crossing guard, who was sitting in his car nearby, said, “If you want ’em you better take them ’cause I’m going to throw them in my trunk when my shift is over.”

“You can have them,” I said, nervously.

Then I continued my walk, and this thought began to obsess me. I had to have those tables. Had to. The thought that Frank was going to get them started driving me crazy. As I walked, I pictured two futures: one with the tables and one without and believe me, the one that included those tables was much preferable to the one without.

I picked up my pace and was practically running by the time I hit my driveway. I ran into the house, grabbed my keys, drove the van like crazy over to the street with the tables and raced down there. Frank’s car was still there, but he wasn’t inside. I couldn’t see, couldn’t see, are they, what is that?

YES!

No one anywhere on Earth at that moment was happier than I was as I loaded them into the van. Funny how something I didn’t even know existed 10 minutes before became the whole focus of my existence until they were safely tucked away in my garage.

Next year, they’ll be sitting out at our curb with a “free” sign on them.

I bet Frank comes by and gets them. I just bet he does.

Specializing in Fear

By Jim Hagarty
2017

I have a problem with authority. And authority figures. Childhood thing, I think.

This character defect is behind the four times in my life that I have been fired from a job. My Dad always said every good man should be fired three times so I have done him one better. I must be a great man.

Unfortunately, the authority figures I fear the most wear white coats and are gainfully employed as medical specialists. And now that I am well into my seventh decade of wandering aimlessly around this planet, I find I am encountering medical specialists more often than seems desirable.

With most of the specialists I see from time to time, I am able to play it fairly cool and disguise my terror. I smile, use a little humour and am suitably deferential. But there is one guy who scares the pants off me.

Now some specialists order me to take my pants off and this man is not in that business. Nevertheless, I stand before him every time as though I was in line for approval by an admissions committee at a nudist colony.

I don’t know exactly what it is about this specialist that has me dreading appointments with him months in advance. But I think it has something to do with the fact that he was apparently born without a sense of humour. And he was endowed with an overabundance of ability to be sarcastic.

He is not the least bit shy about scolding me, as though I was a two-year-old, slumping in my high chair. In fact, he has actually, sternly and loudly ordered me to sit up straight in my chair.

“I told you to sit still,” he has remarked.

“Look straight ahead!” he has said. “I did not say look to your left.”

I went to see him on Monday and could hardly sleep Sunday night, waiting for the encounter which was scheduled for 10 a.m. I was up and showering at 8 a.m., fully two hours ahead of the appointment at an office a five-minute drive from my house. I showed up a half hour early.

Finally, he came to the waiting room and called my name, directing me to one of his examination rooms and ordering me to sit in the “chair on the right”, or at least that is what I thought he mumbled. I walked into the room and panicked. There were three chairs there. It was hard to tell which one was the one on the right. I chose the one in the middle and fortunately, I guess, chose the right one.

He came in and barked out a few questions which I tried to answer without fainting. Then, as he always does, he asked me to tell him what medications I am taking. He may as well have asked me to read out the alphabet to him backwards, skipping every second letter. Or to recite to him the table of minerals, if there is such a thing. I couldn’t remember the name of even one pill.

However, trying to be helpful, I said, “Actually, I did what you told me to do last time and went and got a wallet-sized printout showing my medications from the pharmacy.”

“Well, where is it?” he asked.

“It’s in my wallet. In the car.”

“So, when you show up at emergency some day, and they ask for this information, you’ll tell them it’s in the car?”

I slithered out of the chair in a puddle and oozed under his desk.

I would ask my family doctor for another specialist but I would have to drive 40 miles for appointments and for all his abruptness, I know that my guy is one of the best around.

Besides, I’d just be terrorized by a new specialist is all. Because it is not their problem; it’s mine.

I just hate anyone telling me what to do.

The Car Minder

By Jim Hagarty
2016

I drove into a nice shady spot at my favourtie fast food restaurant and opened my coffee, prepared for a nice 15-minute break. A car pulled in beside me. Its driver got out and peeked inside my open passenger door window.

“Hey Bud. Mind looking after my car?” said the middle-aged man, who, without hearing my answer, then walked away and into a nearby store.

I looked at his car. It was not a car that anybody needed to look after. In fact, I am going to guess that nobody had looked after it for a long time. But now I was looking after it. I had no information to illuminate the task I had been assigned, a job given to me casually by a stranger who offered me no option but to accept the challenge. Were the keys in the ignition? Was there a baby in a car seat in the back? A thousand dollars in silver coins lying on the seat?

Immediately, I imagined a horde of car wreckers lurking in the parking lot, waiting to launch a car invasion on the vehicle I was suddenly guarding. I went from relaxed coffee drinker to nervous car-watching pile of human misery in about 15 seconds. I didn’t know if I had what it would take to fight off a bunch of nasty auto vandals.

And here’s the thing. The car owner who had enlisted me in the serious business of protecting his mode of transportation, seemed to be in no hurry to return from the store. For all I knew, he worked there and had just started an eight-hour shift.

I finished my coffee and sat there. The car owner had found the one guy in this town who feels responsible for everything around him, twenty-four hours a day. I would have sat there for three full days watching that bucket of bolts simply because I had been put in charge. Finally, after almost another complete half hour, I came to the logical conclusion that the car owner’s words to me must have been the last he ever spoke. He had obviously been either kidnapped or murdered upon entering the store. Now, I had to worry about his kidnappers/murderers emerging bloodthirsty from the store. Seeing me watching the guy’s car, they would probably toss a grenade, or at the very least a stinkbomb, through my open window.

Wisely, at last, I got the hell out of there.

I seem to attract these kinds of assignments. This morning, a neighbour came to my door. Nicest guy I know. He has done a lot for me and my family over the years. He had a request. A FedEx truck was delivering a package from Spain and he had to leave. He gave them my name and wondered if I would be home to accept the delivery. I did have plans to not be home accepting FedEx packages from Spain, but here I am. Locked inside my home, staring out the window.

My neighour drove away. I have no idea where he is. For all I know, he’s sitting in shorts and straw hat at a seaside outdoor cafe, sipping sasparillas or mint juleps, and contemplating how good life has been to him. Either that or he is at the fast food restaurant, ransacking the car I had left unguarded there. Seems like that would be out of character for him but it is a crazy world. And I would like to know what it is he has ordered from Spain.

And you wonder why I am a wreck. I feel almost like I am one of those marks in a Just For Laughs TV prank or a Candid Camera episode. Pretty soon I will be directed to look into the disguised camera that has been trained on me all along. I will laugh uproariously.

Meanwhile, would you mind looking after this website for me? Hackers and such. Thanks. Now back to my mint julep. Which should be interesting as I have no idea what the hell a mint julep is. Or a sasparilla, for that matter.