Sunday, March 12, 2017

Time out... again, UPDATE

Time out... again, UPDATE

Due to a number of complications the Celebration of Life for our daughter won't be held until next weekend. It just makes for a LONG time to get closure... but Elle and I are hanging in there. Her husband and kids seem to be doing the same. Thanks for the thoughts of sympathy.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Time out... again

Time out... again

Just received word that the daughter with health problems died this morning from a massive brain bleed. It was totally unexpected as her recent problems have been with her heart. We'll be leaving for Connecticut later this afternoon and have no idea when we'll return.

Friday, March 03, 2017

HOME AGAIN... to some surprises (Partr 157f)

HOME AGAIN… to some surprises (Part 157f)

The panties went right into my suit pants pocket and then they got hung up and put in the closet. It was the safest way to handle it even if I had to wait until the next time I wore the suit to put them with my stash. Back downstairs I, as innocently as I could, asked Elle what was up with the carry case on the bed. She smiled and said she’d been warned that the class she’d been called in to teach was scheduled for a field trip. Not having any concrete information about the trip itself she told me she decided to not take any chances and brought ”spare everything”. I had to ask if she needed any of it and got a big smile as a response. I decided not to pursue it any further as I now had the panties and she was back to being ’normal’ and not upset with me any more. That made me smile too.

With the kids occupied I had the opportunity to explain about my upcoming trip to the city. Unexpectedly, it didn’t seem to phase her. I wondered if it might be a good time to bring up the race car. I figured “Why not?” and plunged ahead. I started by telling her the racing season started in mid May but there was a practice before that and I'd be needed. I was waiting for some sort of a negative response but didn’t even get a ‘rise’ out of her. I didn’t know if that was good or bad so I didn’t go any further.

Mary Carol, the new switchboard operator, was waiting for me at the back door of the bank the next morning. Trish had had her complete all the necessary paperwork the previous day so she was all set to start training on the PBX board. Lynne was relieved to see her and anxious to get started with training her. While doing the introduction J J appeared so I had to introduce him as well. It turned out that he knew her father as he’d worked on the building of his house. For some reason that pleased me. However, seeing him reminded me that I still hadn’t gotten any information about his meeting with the president after the incident that caused Netta to quit.

Back downstairs I overheard Jerry talking with someone of the phone about the branch. That disturbed me as he’d been told that anything having to do with the construction was to go through Hobie, and in his absence, me. As much as I hated talking to/with him I felt I had to. He tried to ‘dance’ around my question but I wouldn’t let him. While I was away he’d managed to talk with Albie at the data center for some reason. Somewhere in the conversation the matter of the teller machines for the branch came up. That was totally under my direction. I really had to reign in my dislike for this man as I reiterated that fact to him. He did manage to divulge what information the data center wanted and it had to do with the phone wires for data transmission. I can assure you Jerry didn’t have a clue as to just what it was that they wanted to check on. I called Albie to get clarification and the end result it meant me having to go to the branch to confirm that the data packs had been installed. After watching them being installed at the main office I knew exactly what the data center was looking for.

I told Hobie I was headed for the branch. He told me the teller counter had been roughed in when he was there the last time so I decided to take a tape measure to make sure they had the right width for the teller machines. That decision turned out to be somewhat critical as the plan from the architect had used the dimensions for  the old type NCR machines that we were no longer using. I found he data packs were in place which meant the data center could test the lines as soon as the machines were delivered. That, to me was a very positive sign as to being able to open by July 1st. I’d heard from a friend at another bank that they’d had to postpone a branch opening because the data lines  were not in place.

The only other thing that I saw that was of a concern was the signage. A temporary sign had been put up to announce that we would be opening in early Summer. Because of the odd shape of the property and the need for a drive-up window the building was quite close to the road leaving no room for a sign that could be seen until you were right on it. It was just another thing that annoyed me about the Trustees being involved with something they really didn’t have any experience or knowledge. However, what was done couldn’t be undone so I headed on back.

I was still a bit upset about the situation with Netta and J J and on my way I went over what she had said about the dropped calls she’d been experiencing. I got to wondering if there was something wrong with the board itself. I only knew a little about the history and that it had been installed right before WWII. That meant it was going on 30 years old. By the time I got to the parking lot I knew I was going to put a service call in on it when I got back to my desk.

My timing was almost perfect for my return to the bank. Gertrude (the travel agency lady) had called for me and when told I was out and left a message for me to call upon my return. It had only been minutes since she'd called and when I got her on the phone she said she'd be right down with the check to open the account that Jerry had refused to open for her. I wondered what Jerry's reaction would be when she walked in.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

HOME AGAIN... to some surprises (Part 157e)

HOME AGAIN… to some surprises (Part 157e)

Hobie walked up to the gate at the platform and motioned for me to follow him over to his new work area. I thought it might be to discuss the Netta/J J situation but it wasn’t. Back in the December Board meeting I’d been designated as the bank Security Officer. At the time all I knew about it was that the Federal government was in the process of promulgating new rules concerning how Banks were to handle bank robberies. The first step was that each financial institution was to designate a person to monitor and administer the rules when finalized. After the appointment I’d not heard a word about it… until I stepped into Hobie’s area.

While I was in Florida the State banking association we belonged to contacted all the members and offered a two day seminar to go over what was known about The Bank Protection Act of 1968 even though it hadn’t yet been enacted. Hobie had signed me up… Thursday and Friday, in the city. I just stood there wondering how I was to get all the other things I was responsible for completed. I needed to visit the new branch site; meet with the premium (gift) vendors; review the data center’s performance during the ‘busy time’ with them; review the applications for a new switchboard operator and, on a more mundane item, review the pile of mail on my desk. I don’t remember saying anything at all. Walking back to my desk I saw Jerry which reminded me that I had to call Gee. While dialing him up I started flipping through the applications. Among them was a name that seemed familiar and I pulled it out. Gee agreed to call Gertrude (the travel agency lady) to assure her that her money was safe. That was the first thing that had gone right for me since I got up.

The second thing that went right was the familiar name I’d seen on a job application form. It came to me that she was the daughter of a lady I’d met while taking adult education golf lessons at our school. I had Trish call her and she said she could come right in. She appeared at the gate to the platform just before the noon siren. Certainly not a ‘looker’ (actually a little on the plump side), Mary Carol had a pleasing personality and a great sounding voice. Studies had shown that most initial contact with banks was through the phone so that aspect of the job was definitely important. In the interview I gleaned the fact that she’d been homesick in the short time she’d been at college and had decided to find a permanent job near home. I’m not going to say that I wasn’t looking for an easy way out of the situation when I offered her the job. She said she would be there at 9am the next morning… another positive in my day.

With Netta gone, the back-up for her was Lynne, J J’s secretary. I knew from past history that he hated that arrangement and had tried to get Joanie to fill the role. That was something that I was dead set against as she was way to bright to be saddled with a ‘nothing job’. So, from that standpoint getting Mary Carol started was a priority.  I’d managed to avoid J J all morning. Hobie had filled me in on just what transpired after Netta walked out. Bert, the president, got J J in his office and closed the door. Hobie was told that Netta was contacted by Bert but she wasn’t interested in returning under any circumstances and I couldn’t blame her. I just hated loosing a nice person like her and decided to call her at the end of the day.

She was surprised to hear from me as we’d actually had little one on one contact on a daily basis. I told her I was sorry to hear that she’d decided to leave and asked if she cared to give me the background on what had happened. She declined at first but then told me she’d been having trouble with the switchboard itself. It was an old PBX type where the operator had to plug wires into the board to make the connection. She said she was aware that some calls were getting “dropped” but hadn’t said anything about it. On that day it had happened to J J a couple of times and he’d been rude to her. Then, on that particular call it had happened to the same caller twice and that’s when J J  went ‘off’ on her. I told her I understood how she felt and told her that if she used my name as a reference I’d give her a  good one.

By the time I left for home it was well after 6pm. By then I’d addressed most of the items on my ‘to-do’ list for the day. Driving home I was a bit concerned to have to tell Elle I’d be in the city Thursday night. I knew the seminar would be over in time to be home for supper on Friday so it wouldn’t be too bad. Hobie had had Trish make a reservation for me to stay at the same hotel where the conference was being held which was a definite plus. I was thinking about that when it came to me that it might be possible to visit with one or more of the premium (gift) vendors while in the city. The reason I wanted to visit them rather than have them come call on me was I could see the whole range of products they had to offer rather than them just pick out a dozen or so for me to choose from. Pulling in the driveway was when I was reminded of the carry bag and the bikini panties. I’d been so busy all day that I’d actually forgotten about them… not good!

Elle was very understanding about my lateness which was a good sign. However, as I looked around I didn’t see the carry bag. I thought that maybe it was back in the closet so I told her I just had to get out of my suit and get comfortable before eating. I think I went up the stairs two at a time. Walking into the bedroom which was right at the top of the stairs I saw the bag on the end of the bed. I also saw that the zippered pocket that ran along the bottom of it was unzipped. Instant heart attack! I think I stood there staring at it for maybe thirty seconds before moving over to it. I reached down for the bag and stuck my hand in the pocket. Nothing! I probably took a few deep breaths before it came to me that Elle had been in a good mood when I walked in which she certainly wouldn’t have been had she found the panties. I stuck my hand back in the pocket and pushed it to the far corners. You can’t believe the relief that came over me when I felt something soft and satiny on my fingers. I grasped it and pulled it out…
This is it... no label/size... & no idea who they belonged to...

  To be continued...

Monday, February 27, 2017

HOME AGAIN... to some surprises (Part 157d)

HOME AGAIN… to some surprises (Part 157d)

There was no work done on the car that day. The sole purpose of the meeting was to address the money situation. “Big B”  and I were out of the shop by 3pm which gave us time to look at the boat he was interested in buying. He’d come up with a way to make some good money in the fall by going scalloping. I’ll spare you the ‘education’ of just what’s involved in scalloping and limit it to say that for his plan to work he needed fairly big, flat bottomed boat powered by an outboard motor. We pulled into this yard and saw just that with a ‘FOR SALE’ sign on it. He talked with the owner and they quickly agreed on a price. “B” had hoped the boat would fit in the back of the pick-up but it was longer than he thought which meant he’d have to come back with a trailer. Aside from that he was really excited. On our way back to my house he started in ‘selling’ me upon becoming his partner in the venture. It sounded good but with all that I had going I told him I’d have to hold off on making a decision.

“B” let me off in front of my house and I walked up the driveway wondering what kind of mood Elle would be in. I smelled dinner cooking as I opened the kitchen door. Elle had a big smile on her face and it gave me a sense of a relief. I just hoped it remained. What was a surprise was that she never asked how our boat viewing venture went. That was a bit of luck in that if I’d told her what “B” had planned for the Fall I’d be back in ‘hot water’ as she was already complaining that I didn’t spend enough time with the kids. So, it turned out to be a good day as far as Elle was concerned. However, as far as the race car… not so good... knowing I’d have to come up with more money.

The rest of the evening went quietly and once in bed I resumed my thoughts of retrieving the bikini panties from the carry bag in the closet. With Elle having to leave really early because she’d been called to teach at one of the schools near where we used to live would give me the extra time to get the panties and to put them in my ‘stash’. In my mind, once that was accomplished I could relax. In the morning, as soon as Elle headed downstairs to shower, I headed for the closet. In writing this, I’m reliving one of the biggest shocks I’d ever experienced… the bag was not on the shelf where I’d put it the night before. I remember standing there and not believing my eyes. I knew it just didn’t up and walk away. I also didn’t know just what to do about it.

Panic was the mode. My first job on mornings where Elle was to off to teach was to make sure the older girls were washed and dressed and downstairs for breakfast. That prevented me from searching for the bag. I know my heart rate was elevated as I hustled the girls on their way. When Elle returned to get dressed I had a brief thought of asking about the bag. But, I didn’t, quickly realizing that it would probably seem suspicious since it was a hardly used item since I’d stopped playing basketball. Elle told me she was skipping breakfast which meant I was responsible for getting breakfast for the kids… not what I wanted. I got them downstairs just in time to see Elle going out the door… with the carry bag in one hand. That didn’t leave me anything to do but spend the day worrying about it… and I knew I had a ‘bear’ of a day facing me.

Just being gone from work for a day would mean  playing ‘catch-up’ on the first day back. Being gone a week… who knew? There were a couple of open items when I left… the new branch and choosing gifts for the new account campaign that would coincide with the grand opening. Because of my ankle, I’d missed the last inspection of the branch construction. I’d also not been able to go to the city to visit a number of ‘premium’ (gift) distributors and was running out of time to make the choice of premiums to offer. And… the first thing I had to do was to call Gee, the Trustee/attorney and to ask him to call Gertrude to assure her that her accounts were legal and safe. However, I wasn’t prepared for what I was greeted with upon my arrival.

I was a little late and I knew it not from looking at my watch but by the fact that Trish was at her desk. She was never there before 9am sharp. She actually greeted me by handing me the job applications folder. “Netta quit” were the only words spoken. Bret was right by his desk when she told me and he proceeded to fill me in with the details. J J was on an important phone call and was cut off. He came out of his office and went over to the switchboard and proceeded to “ream her out”, calling her incompetent. Netta got up, picked up her things and while walking away told J J “go f__k yourself!” I stood there almost not believing what I was hearing. After digesting that news I asked if anything was said to J J. Neither of them knew. I also asked if anyone had reached out to Netta. She'd been a good employee and there had never been a problem with her. I was having a hard time accepting that either of them would have done what I’d just heard explained to me.

And, that was just the beginning of my day…

To be continued...

Saturday, February 25, 2017

HOME AGAIN... to some surprises (Part 157c)

HOME AGAIN… to some surprises (Part 157c)

Both of the girls were pretty animated as they gave us the details about their cousins, twin girls a couple of years older than they were. They’d never met them and only knew them from pictures. They’d arrived from Germany in February and stayed with relatives in the Philadelphia area. It was their intention to go to an American college in the Fall and had come over to get used to life in the USA. The way the girls told it to us their mother, Phyllis, pushed for them to spend some time in the country. They lived in a city in Germany and were staying in the outskirts of another city. Phyllis felt they should be exposed to rural life and had finally ‘won’. I asked where they were going to live in their house because I knew that each girl had their own room. It was Mo who answered and I could tell from the tone of her voice she wasn’t all that pleased with the decision that they would have to share a room. Not that we’d remember but Elle asked for the cousins names… Herta and Helga.

The diversion of Barbara and Mo’s visit took some of the pressure off me as far as Elle was concerned. Neither of them had ever been to Florida and when Elle described Marineland and the dolphins and whale performances I could see their sincere interest. I remember our girls asking when they could go… and also remember not being able to give them an answer. I felt it was a good time to ask about how their new house was coming and Barbara laughed. She said she didn’t really know but she said it wouldn’t be ready by July 1st. I didn’t want to go any further on that topic so asked when the twins would arrive. They weren’t sure but said it might be the following weekend. As they left I couldn’t help but to wonder what they’d look like. I’d only met a couple of girls who were actually from Germany and they were taller than both Barbara and Mo and had blonde hair. Only time would tell…

As I said, Barbara and Mo had taken the pressure off me for a while. I tried to keep as low a profile as I could for the rest of the evening. When it was time for the girls to go to bed I again offered to take the suitcase and carry bag upstairs and got Elle’s approval. The first thing I did was to put the carry bag up on the closet shelf with the goal of retrieving the bikini panties while Elle and the girls were at church the next morning. With the bag out of sight I could finally relax. I fully expected to get ‘an earful’ about not being home to watch the girls earlier but got nothing… like I wasn’t even there. Past history told me to wait until morning where a new day and new events would supersede those of the previous day.

As usual for a Sunday I made it to the 8am service at church. Back at home I wasn’t sure what to expect but it certainly wasn’t to be told to return and take the girls so they could attend Sunday school. Elle had gotten a call to teach on Monday and had a week’s worth of wash to do plus getting the house back in order. Trying to make the most of the situation I convinced myself that by doing it without complaining might lessen the damage that my going to work on the race car would bring. Back home by noon, we had lunch and as I ate I tried to figure out what would be the best time to tell of my afternoon plan. Still at the table I spied a old red pickup pull up behind my car in the driveway. I didn’t recognize it until I saw the large form of Big “B” emerging from the cab. I hadn’t seen or heard from him in a while and wondered what brought him to the house.

The girls all loved “B” and pretty much surrounded him as he tried to enter. Elle liked him as well so we had a bit of catching up to do. After a few minutes, “B” looked at Elle and asked if she could spare me for a couple of hours. “B” was always very cagey with Elle in that sense. I stood there, not knowing what he was up to. I hadn’t spoken to him in more than a month. Elle, not surprisingly, asked what for. Very calmly he said he was looking at buying another boat and wanted my advice. I stood there listening to him but was thinking that I needed to get to the garage and the race car. However, Elle, somewhat disapprovingly, gave her approval. In what turned out to be very fortuitous, she never asked how long we’d be or gave us a time to return. Walking out the door I was happy to be free of getting chastised by Elle but had to bring “B” up to date about the race car.(50)

As I’ve written before, “B” was a really good guy. I explained about my commitment to the race car and found him to be more than amenable to changing his plans. Other than Cliffy, we were the first to arrive at the garage. The car was up on jack stands and looked somewhat naked without wheels. While I was away they guys had sanded off the white paint and the numbers and had painted it with a gray primer. Upon seeing the car “B’s” interest in racing was once again, kindled. He asked any number of questions which Cliffy patiently answered. As they chatted the other partners showed up and Cliffy got down to the business at hand.

Opening night was just three weeks away. He’d attended the organizational meeting going over the new rules. The main one had to do with tires.The race track promoter had required that everyone use the same tire manufacturer. The complaints had been many and he’d decided to lift that restriction.
At this point I’m going to give a little discourse on naivety… mine and the partners. When we’d been offered the car for just $1,000, we all jumped at it. The sales price for cars in the similar racing class usually started at $3,000 and went up from there. The others were so anxious to continue racing (and I to get back into it) that they hadn’t thought about the ‘big picture’… and that was where the money was to come from to operate (race) the car. With Cliffy’s father having paid the bills in the past no one gave it any thought. We’d struggled to get the $1,000 together just to buy the car. I, of all of them, should have picked up on it but hadn’t. Five of the six of us were married, had homes with a mortgage and a combined total of 14 kids. To put it bluntly, we didn’t have any spare money.
Cliffy then told us that there was a newly designed tire available and, according to the manufacturer, it was the perfect tire for a track the size we were racing on (1/5th of a mile). However, it was $10 a tire more that the old style. For us to buy a set of four we needed approximately $175. I was standing next to “B” and he gave me a ‘rap’ in the arm. I looked up at him and heard him mumble “Wow!”. Glancing around I saw a bunch of blank looks of the faces of the others. I did a quick calculation and came up with my share being $35. I knew I could do it but it would be tough since I’d overspent on the Florida trip. By then the others were complaining that they didn’t have any money they could spare. Cliffy then asked how much could the bunch of us come up with. The final tally was somewhere around $130 with Buster saying he couldn’t come up with anything. It was then that “B” spoke up and said he’d throw in the rest. As we left the shop at least we knew we could race on opening night.

To be continued…

Thursday, February 23, 2017

HOME AGAIN... to some surprises (Part 157b)

HOME AGAIN… to some surprises (Part 157b)

Gertrude was her name. She didn’t want to be called Mrs.B____, Gert or Gertie. She’d told me her mother named her Gertrude, that was her name and that's what she wanted to be called. I walked through the front door of the agency and saw a big, broad smile appear on her face… for only a few seconds. The first words out of her mouth were “Tell me the truth!”… and then she proceeded to tell me, in detail, about her experience with Jerry. I knew it was useless to interrupt her so stood there and listened.

I’d known Gertrude since I was about 14. She had two sons, one of which was a high school classmate of Elle’s, that I knew. Her husband had been a State Trooper (motorcycle) that had been killed in some sort of accident while I was off racing horses but I never got the details. The son who was in Elle’s class also died in an accident but the rumor was that it was suicide. In any case, Gertrude ended up getting a large settlement from the death of her husband, plus life insurance, and that’s what she used to start the travel agency. Since it was located right down the street from the bank she had come in one day to open an account and saw me. We hit it off right away. Over a period of time I persuaded her to deposit a good amount of money… and she’d come in on Friday to deposit more.

When she finally stopped talking I tried, as calmly as I could, explaining that Jerry was new and was not aware of the arrangement and approval I’d gotten to open her accounts. She proceed to call him an incompetent and told me I should fire him. She was, at that point, ‘preaching to the choir’. I told her that her accounts were legal and that I’d have the bank attorney (and Trustee) call her Monday morning to reassure her. That seemed to satisfy her… and gave her an opportunity to just chat. That ‘chat’ ended up being a bit of a sales pitch when she asked when Elle and I had last taken a vacation. I remember laughing when I told her that just 24 hours earlier we'd been in Florida. That didn’t stop her though as she asked what the occasion had been. I explained and thought I could escape but I was wrong.

Gertrude then told me that if ever I (and Elle) wanted to go someplace to celebrate a birthday or anniversary to stop by to see her and that she’d “take care of me”. I thanked her and said I had to get home to get caught up from my week away. As I walked out the door she called to me that she’d see me on Monday. That told me that Bret’s suggestion to go to see her was a good one and I made a mental note to put a blurb in his file about it. The only bad thing was that I had to go home and try to make nice to Elle. I expected that it might be harder than talking to Gertrude.

I got home about mid afternoon to find no one there. Before I left Elle had mentioned that she wanted to do the grocery shopping and wanted me back by 2pm.  That told me I was really going to face some ‘heat’ when she and the kids arrived home. She hated to take them grocery shopping not because they misbehaved but because they got to see all kinds of ‘goodies’ that she didn’t want them to have. On top of that was the fact that I was planning on going to work on the race car on Sunday afternoon… and hadn’t yet told Elle. When I’d called Cliffy from the airport in Florida to confirm our arrival time I’d asked him not to talk about the race car on our trip home. That was when he told me about Sunday afternoon and I said I’d be there.

At least the kids weren’t mad at me when they returned with Elle. She didn’t speak a word as I helped carry the groceries to the house. They were all excited to see the pictures from the trip. I hadn’t unpacked anything so told them it’d be a few minutes. When I went to the carry case that had the Polaroid camera in it I discovered Elle’s ‘package’ from our last night there. I’d stuffed it in there along with some trinkets for the kids. I handed it to her and went searching for the pictures. I don’t know why it was then that I remembered that I’d hidden the bikini panties I’d found when I did some wash in Florida in the pocket under the bottom of the bag. If Elle had been looking at me she would’ve known something was ‘up” as I know I turned beet red. She’d opened the suitcase and was unpacking the dirty clothes so I knew I’d dodged that ‘bullet, at least for the moment. I located the non X-rated Polaroid pictures and showed them to the kids but was really trying to figure out how to get the bikini panty out of the bag without getting caught.

The bag in question was normally stored on the shelf in our closet. As an excuse to go upstairs and to put it back I offered to take the suitcase with the clothes that didn’t need washing upstairs. Still not speaking more than grunts she shook her head telling me “no”. I knew I wanted to get those panties hidden as soon as possible but I knew going up the stairs with just that little bag wasn’t going to ‘cut it’. As mad as she was it would be an untenable situation if she discovered them so I was really concerned. Leave it to the girls next door to come to my rescue. Both Barbara and Mo showed up to see the girls. I’d not had a chance to tell Elle about the guests that they’d be hosting so chose to have them tell her. They seemed surprised that I knew but proceeded to fill us both in.

To be continued…