Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Bonin Walkers

Bonin, a road that divides as much as the Rio Grande divides. One divides a clean, middle class neighborhood from a trailer park that, among respectable folks, also houses drug addicts, thieves and ner do wells. Unfortunately the undesirable are the ones remembered from across that Bonin divide. That divide is a paved road that delinates one section from the other; the upper middle class neighborhood and the area of poverty as much as the Rio Grande divides that third world country, Mexico  from the land of the USA.

There is always someone walking The Bonin Ride. One can see them dressed in their fast food uniforms. They walk the mile to their jobs in the heat, the rain and the cold. I always offer these people a ride.  Occasionally a bike will be seen on that road which is a dangerous ride on a bike. There is no shoulder on the road. The automobile driver must be alert. Most times the 'walkers' will be out at night dressed in black making it difficult to see then until you are upon them. I've had my heart drop many times from almost hitting one of the walkers on this road.

Seeing the walkers, who sometimes are carrying bags of groceries, I slow down, roll down my window and ask if they need a ride. I think back to the days when I worried about having a vechilce to drive. My big fear living away from family was being without an automobile. How would I get to work? How would I shop for the things we needed. As I watch the 'walkers', I'm empathetic  to their plight.
I've blogged on Mary#1, one of The Bonin Walkers. Mary, the mother of two sons was seen, barely though, walking toward her home off Bonin Road. She walked slumped forward, head down, hair long and straggly in disheveled clothes carrying a bag of groceries in each hand. Her son, the younger of the two she had, walked along carrying his own burden of supplies. I slowed down and turned around and drove back to ask if they needed a ride. Gratefully they accepted. A mile or two down the road, we swung down the street into the trailer park. Mary shared with me she did have a car but it was in the shop for repairs. Apparently the older son had caused some damage to it and it was towed to a holding yard. She needed to get a ride the following day to pay the charges and get it moved from that yard. Money was tight. She was a heroin addict that was off heroin but on Seboxon, a drug used to help people kick the "H" habit.  I offered to pick her up the next day and take her to pay bills and to pay for storage on that auto. She gratefully accepted.

As time went along, Mary shared her story and how she ended up being a Bonin Walker. The story wasn't pretty nor did it put her in a good light. Drugs and lots of them had caused Mary to walk down a narrow road into desperate times.

Thanksgiving approaching, I made a trip to the market. All the Thanksgiving dinner supplies, I bought and delivered to Mary and her sons. This was the first Thanksgiving they had together as a family in years. Usually she would take her two sons to a food line for their meal. This year she had no vehicle. Christmas came and the same thing we arranged. There is much more to Mary's story and in a prior blog I have went into detail. I'm moving on from this Mary.

The next Mary was a woman standing on Bonin, a Bonin Walker. She hailed me down as I pulled up to a stop sign. She asked if I was going to Walmart. I said I was and offered her a ride although I was headed to Home Depot in the opposite direction. I'm not in a hurry; nothing pressing. I have time to do 'a good deed' today. Again a story of her car in the shop and she was waiting on getting it out. Mary looked to be in her late sixties. She worn a long brown skirt, a loose cotton blouse and a very long scarf that wound around her head, around her neck and draped down over the front of her ending very close to the hem of  her skirt. TURKISH! As we rode along, she shared that she was from Turkey. In the short distance to Walmart, she shared tidbits from her life. She thanked me effusively as she stepped from my car to the parking lot of the bank. She really wasn't going to Walmart but to the bank that was next to Walmart.

I waited until she returned to my car so I could return her back to her home on Bonin. Mary was a political refugee who had left her country because of religious persecution. She told me there were no churches in Turkey and there hasn't been any since the 1800's. All of them were destroyed years and years ago and Christians had to be very careful in their worshiping.

Mary is going to be another Bonin Walker that will be interesting getting to know. We traded phone numbers and I told her I would call to see if she needed a ride to Walmart when I had a trip planned

My friends chide me for my reckless ways and the rides I offer. I say a good deed never goes unappreciated. I try to be selective in my offers. Mary#1 casually shared with me that she had killed her husband by stabbing him to death. As we rolled along during this admission, I slid my eyes sideways to look at her. It was self defense! No worries! The Bonin Walkers are interesting.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Courtesy Chevrolet, Broussard, La. Hwy 90

So, it all started with a need for a vehicle. I detest shopping for a car. It means one has to deal with a car salesmen, usually noted as a "snake oil salesmen".

I drove to Baton Rouge for my first encounter. A note here to buyer: If you are looking for a used vehicle with low mileage, make sure you buy that vehicle from a dealer that DEALS in that brand. You will then get the remaining warranty on that vehicle. Should you select a vehicle from a dealer that does not SELL THAT VEHICLE among his new car lineup, you will forfeit remaining warranty on that vehicle and the snake oil salesmen will try to sell you an extended warranty for 2000.00!

The things I have learned on this car buying trip are priceless and that little ruse of the warranty was one of them.

Besides the tax, title and license, the dealership collects a fee of 220.00 for doing the paperwork!! Oh, you thought that was free? You didn't know that one of the charges in that total was for notary to sign that paperwork? I was told two different stories when I tried to pin down the dealership on this charge. One explanation was that the state of Louisiana demanded this payment for the paper work they would have to do when the car was taxed and licensed. (and I thought those state workers were paid a salary already!). The other explanation was that the people that worked at the dealership had to charge this for the paperwork they did. This explanation became a little fuzzy as the salesmen tried to put his spin on it.

After many trips to different car lots, I settled on a little white Hyundai Elantra SE 2016. Telling the salesmen that the grandson would have to drive this car for 8 hrs. back to Corpus Christi, didn't inspire this salesmen to alert me that the car did not come with a spare tire and jack? I had no idea that this was the norm now among vehicle manufacturers. Apparently keeping up with all the safety requirements demanded of them, putting a spare tire in the vehicles not only saves them money but apparently does not relate to a safety hazard should one have a flat tire in the desert in a scorching hot summer!
When I examined this vehicle, I especially noted the tires on it. I always do this when inspecting a vehicle I'm interested in. It's a cost that I can predict I might encounter along with the purchase price of the car.

The tires were in excellent condition. He wouldn't need to replace for  many miles later.

Wrap it up. I'll take it. The salesmen left me sitting in her cubicle while she said the finance manager was going to see me as soon as he can. His spiel was to try to talk me into buying an extended  warranty. I listened to his horror stories for 30 minutes. He stressed how cheap it was and when he gave me the total of 2000.00 dollars I smiled and declined.
Meanwhile, while waiting on him, I could see out the glass window to where the Hyundai was parked and noted the salesmen getting in the car and rushing it to the back of the dealership to the mechanics. When asked why it was going back to the mechanics, she said they would be checking it out. This is strange for a dealership. I'm sure all the cars on their lots that are SLIGHTLY used have been thoroughly checked out BEFORE being offered to the public.

A few days later we picked up the car. Another day passed and when I checked the tires on this car, I found they were NOT the tires that were on the car when I first test drove it and then I realized why this auto was hastly taken back to the mechanics shop. The tires were changed to worn tires that would need to be replaced by the buyer.

Courtesy Chevrolet is NOT a courtesy to anyone. Let the buyer beware!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

It Was Just a "hunter/gather Kind of Day

A Sale! Don't we all love a sale? I have a huge freezer that will attest to my love of a sale. I'm not the typical female shopper that drools over a huge price cut for new underwear or a pair of pants.
I'm a 'hunter/gatherer'. You won't find me slaying animals and dragging the carcass home to perform magic with a knife and freezer wrap. You won't find me hunched down at the vegetable patch pulling weeds and salivating over the green bean and cucumber plants awaiting the produce they will produce. (I know, I know...produce used twice...It's my blog and I deny any English major to suggestion corrections).

Every Tuesday the grocery sale papers arrive promptly (usually ANY time of the day) but at least it's usually Tuesday anyway. We hike the 50 ft. to the mailbox to rescue the sales flyers and walk with a lighter quicker step back to our kitchen tables to 'hunt'. Products are circled, separated later into lists that appear on line paper and to each designated store. Preparation is key. Any coupon on hand corresponding to a sale item is catalogued into the list of supplies.

Next a route is formulated related to which store first and this is usually determined by what is on sale at that store. Imagine buying ice cream and then traveling from sale store to sale store. Imagine what the ice cream would be like by the time this hunter/gatherer trip made it's full circle back to the lair where the spoils of the trip would be hefted out of the collection vehicle (a car with a huge trunk in this case.) Ice Cream bought early on this trip will require a quick return to the cave to dump it into that huge freezer storage so Ice Cream gathering has to be last on the list of stores to visit.

All the preparations are done and it's time to contact Portia. Portia (pronounced the same as the car Porsche) is a friend that lives close by and is a better hunter/gatherer then I. She loves the hunt and her unskilled mathematical brain suddenly turns into a calculator that can divide at lightning speed which makes for a desirable talent when calculating the tricky pricing of some of these grocery stores and their marketing department. One learns quickly and watches and learns to divide total price by individual item.

Portia is a petite bundle of energy and usually needs no long notification to go anywhere. In 15 minutes I was at her house and we were, with our lists clutched in our hands, ready for assault we had carefully planned. (I've always thought women should run this country. We know all about preparation and planning and the necessity for such.)

After all this preparation, it comes down to the check out. Yes, this story isn't about hamburger, eggs, bread and milk. It was the checkout line that was most memorable.

Portia was standing in front of me with her loot on the grocery belt, I was standing behind Portia but in front of a women that I struck up a conversation with. A Canadian that was  on a teaching contract. She was a short woman and as I am a tall woman I could easily peruse the surroundings with nothing blocking my view. Over the head of this petite educator, my eyes locked on the person behind the Canadian. I hesitated, my eyes locked on her and then quickly returned my attention to the Canadian that was still talking to me. I wanted to keep eye contact with her but my attention kept dragging back to the person standing behind her, a female that was most unusual in appearance. My mind whirled wondering if there was some school event going on and this person was dressed to attend. Maybe Halloween was being held in March? Some sort of unusual spring thing? Maybe she was hired to do a birthday party?  I swung around and away from the Canadian to Portia standing in front of me and did one of those "jerk of the head around and eyebrows raised' which alerted her to look behind me. I watched the expression on Portia's face, her mouth got slack and her eyes widen as she scanned the row behind her, behind me and behind the Canadian.

I stole another look at this female behind be, gazing over the head of the petite Canadian into the red over arched eyebrows of a pair of eyes that had huge blackened circles around them. Tears tattooed one after another raced over her cheeks and down to the jaw line. A web was tattooed across the eyes and over the bridge of her nose. More tattoos  decorated her neck.  Her hair was an expression of freedom. I dragged my eyes away and back and away once again.

We are shopping in an upscale neighborhood.  This is not New Orleans. In New Orleans she would not have rated a second glance unless it was tourists from some small town that isn't used to see these freedom folks.

Another quick glance allowed a look at her dress. An oversized light blue denim shirt hung much to large on her body and buttoned irregularly over a pair of leggings and her feet sported a pair of men's white plastic sandals with one huge strap that wrapped over her toes. She rolled her cart to a red two door sporty looking car and loaded her soda's and pastries. Yes, the detective in me casually observed her bought items as I tried to arrange in my brain some sort of  acceptance to what we had witnessed. I wonder also if she is used to people studiously trying to avoid staring at her. She must know what her appearance does to the unsuspecting public.
My conversation with Portia on our mission to the next store was not about the sales list but about the 'teardrop lady' and who she might be and where she might live and what she might do for a living.
 might be time for me to make a trip to New Orleans. New Orleans prepares one for odd sites and since I haven't been there for a couple of years now, my senses might have become dulled to the quirkiness that surrounds us.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Back to School

We are back in school. The Christmas break has ended and Carrie has headed back to her educational journey.

This morning we woke to a definite chill in the air. We are going to enjoy a cool down for the next week. I'm not looking forward to summer any time soon. Heat is not my friend.

I'm listening to the morning news on CBS. I quickly jotted down the following changes:

Crispr gene Editing. A technology that changes the DNA gene to correct sickle cell inutero or to change the T Cell that causes AIDS. There will be new monitoring systems for diabetes. Drugs are predicted to change in treatment of different illness.

I will be doing some research on this information later today. Are we opening Pandora's box with interfering with DNA? Will parents request gene alteration to specifiy eye color, hair color or skin color?

The phone just rang and interrupted my train of thought on this. Pat called to let me know she had taken her medicines and she and son were heading to the church to collect food from their pantry.