My wife will be right back

Our family just got off the power grid. Hurray. We did it, we really did it and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Our house is the first in the area to have solar panels installed on the roof and on the roof of our garage. No more ever increasing power bills for us. Goodbye, First Energy. The system became functional Saturday morning and is working great.

The kids are so excited. They’ve taken pictures of the solar panels and the electric meters and of their father ripping up the last electric bill this family will pay and have a created a show and tell presentation for school. I’ll just bet the phone starts ringing tonight when everyone in town hears what we’ve done.

I’m kind of the nuts and bolts guy on this project, I just love to see the latest technology in action. I’d like to take credit for making it but it was Jeannie who sits down to pay the bills who was the driving force behind our decision to go solar. She wanted to jump in here and tell everyone how thrilled she is with our new money saving energy independence and how we can now use the money we save for Hunter and Bethany’s college fund or for family vacations but she’s not here right now. She’s busy making the kids’ breakfast and it’s a cloudy day so she had to go next door to make toast.

When’s the press conference?

I cannot believe that I’m concerned about beating out Marty for the Regional Manager position. I’ve got the education, years of service, company knowledge, product knowledge and experience in the department plus I’ve been told by a number of people who should know that I’ve got the inside track.

Marty? Really? Marty? The guy’s a worm. No way. Why am I even concerned?

But I am so as I get ready to head home after work on the one hand I’m glad it’s Friday but on the other hand I wish it was Monday so I could finally put this to rest.

Marty? Give me a break.

“Hello, oh hi, John, what’s up? Whoa, that’s great. How’d you come up with tickets? I can’t believe that you got tickets, the game’s been sold out for months.”

And so my concern about the promotion only consumed 90% of my time Friday night and Saturday and as Sunday dawned my first thought was about the promotion but then I started to get excited about the game. I still can’t believe John came up with tickets.

As John and I walked through the parking lot the crowd was roaring and I don’t think it was just the result of tailgating and a lot of cold ones. What a great day for a game.

Marty who? “Let’s go.”

The stadium looked great, it was warm, the crowd was huge, the beer was cold and everyone was ready for the one o’clock kickoff but then it was 1:15 and nobody was on the field. Fans who were screaming started a rhythmic clap but then it trailed off as everyone just sat there and stared at the empty field.

“May I have your attention, please, may I have your attention. The following announcement has been received from National Football League headquarters.”

“The National Football League has received information that the entire rosters of both teams have been accused of domestic violence. Although no evidence has been received by league headquarters that the accusations are true the league is following its zero tolerance policy for domestic violence and has no choice but to suspend all of the accused players effective immediately and cancel today’s game. An announcement will be made in the next few days about rescheduling the game and ticket refunds. We apologize for any inconvenience and ask for your understanding.”

The crowd was so stunned that it just stood there silently for a couple of minutes with only a few scattered boos and then began to slowly exit the stadium.

For most of the fans the ridiculous cancellation was all they could think about. For me? Sure, I was disappointed about the cancellation but also that I had lost the distraction that kept me from thinking about my promotion.

Monday morning on the way to work the game cancellation was the only subject on talk radio and when I walked into the office I could see that it was the only subject being discussed by everyone. Everyone but Marty who was busy emptying his desk into a large plastic storage tub.

Apparently Marty knew that he wasn’t getting the promotion and had decided to quit. What a weasel. He should have just buckled down and worked hard to get the chance that I was going to get. I looked at him and thought, there is something wrong with that clown. He didn’t get the promotion and now he doesn’t have a job and he’s sitting there smirking?

“Hey, do you have a minute” my boss said as he shook his head while looking at a copy of the sports pages sitting on the table outside his office.

“Sure. Can you believe that, Mr. Dugan? A game was cancelled based only on accusations. I know I can’t believe it.”

As I sat down in the chair in front of Mr. Dugan’s desk he said, “I don’t know if there’s going to be a season this year but I guess the NFL doesn’t really have a choice.” “Well, anyway”, he said as he realized that there really wasn’t anything that either of us could say about the NFL situation that hadn’t already been said, “I wanted to sit down with you early this morning to discuss the Regional Manager position. Ah, um, we’ve decided to offer the position to Marty. Now it’s not that we don’t think that you’re a great employee and that you deserve a chance to advance with the firm it’s just that, ah, um, ah, over the weekend it’s come to our attention that you’ve been accused of domestic violence.”

“What? Domestic violence? Says who? What? I’ve been divorced for over a year and I’m not even seeing anyone. What the…”

“I know, I know, it’s just an accusation but the company has established a zero tolerance policy for domestic violence, sexual abuse and sexual harrassment and my hands are tied. You will have to be suspended while this thing is sorted out and since we need someone right away in the Regional Manager position we have to go with Marty. I know this is not what you want to hear but be assured that when this is all sorted out you’ll be welcomed back to your old job or if that isn’t available we may be able to fit you in somewhere else in the company, maybe.”

As I sat there waiting for him to say, “we apologize for any inconvenience” I could see Marty walk by Mr. Dugan’s office door with his storage tub heading toward his new office. As he looked in and saw me sitting there he gave me a little smile and a wink.

“You know, Mr. Dugan, while I’m here I want to tell you that I have been made to feel uncomfortable by unwelcomed gestures made by Marty which I believe may fall under the category of sexual harassment.” Mr. Dugan groaned and then gave me a strange and angry look until he noticed that I was looking at his wife’s picture sitting on his desk.

“How’s the Mrs., Mr. Dugan? Gee, Mr. Dugan, is that eye makeup or a bruise? She looks a little bruised to me.”

“Well,” he said, ”let’s not get carried away. I’ll see what I can do about putting a hold on everything. No sense getting excited about all of this. Boy, can you believe this NFL thing? Isn’t that something?”

“It’s a new day, I guess”, Mr. Dugan.

Do you have Tom’s number?

“Do you have Tom’s number?” I asked. “He told me to call him and now I can’t find his number” and with that my wife pulled out her iPhone and began pecking away.

It really is amazing. She didn’t have to dig in her purse for her old green and yellow address book, all she had to do was make a few clicks on her phone.

“Did you get Tom’s number?” I asked after about ten minutes.

“What?”

“Do you have Tom’s number, his phone number?”

“Oh yeah, Tom, sorry. I went to get it and saw I had an alert about a chocolate chip cookie recipe and remembered that Judy had asked me about my chocolate chip recipe a few weeks ago. I was going to send her a better one on Pinterest but then when I went into Pinterest to get it I saw this really cute bathroom soap caddy that I’d like to make for the upstairs bathroom and now I’m trying to get on Amazon to order some of the stuff I’ll need to make it.”

“Give me a minute,” she said, “Now I’ve got to change my Amazon password for some reason, passwords are such a pain. I think that I’ll get one of those password keeper apps. I saw one yesterday that’s free and it really looks like it could help me stay organized. I can’t believe I should have to carry around a piece of paper with all my passwords. There it is, Passkeeper. Got it. Done. You should get this too” she said. “You’re always complaining about forgetting passwords.”

“Probably so”, I said. “I know what you mean about having a piece of paper with the passwords. It sort of defeats the reason you have a password in the first place.”

A couple of clicks, a new password and I was all set up with Passkeeper. The app really does look like it’s the way to go to keep things straight.

“I’m glad I took care of that. Thanks, sweetheart, you’re always looking out for me. Maybe I should take care of you, too. How about we get a pizza and go to a movie?”

“I’d like that”, she said. “Maybe we should call Tom and Judy to see if they’d like to go. We really don’t talk to them much anymore.”

“Good idea, do you have Tom’s number?”

The county fair

The county fair was five dollars this year. Every year I ask myself why I’ve come but every year I go. Every year I see the cows and horses and pigs and ducks and goats and rabbits and chickens and sheep. Every year I see the brand new John Deere and Case tractors and combines as shiny as convertibles in the showroom. City kids gawking and laughing at the FFA and 4-H kids and the country kids making fun of the city kids. County extension services displays about the importance of the American farmer with pictures of healthy foods from the farm across from the stands selling fried pickles, fried cheese, fried Oreos and cotton candy and candy apples. Guys in white short sleeve shirts with old ties trying to sell replacement windows and basement waterproofing services and looking at their watches to see how much time is left to make their sales quota for the day. The Tilt-a-Whirl and Flying Scooters and Loop-o-Planes and girls in cowboy boots and guys wearing giveaway logo ball caps and tattoos all around. 350 pound men with 120 pound women and 350 pound women with 120 pound men walking along together proving that there’s a lid for every pot. The smell of the chickens and the cow barns and Italian sausage and diesel smoke. A grandstand full of screaming people welcoming this year’s feature attraction and a grandstand full of screaming people watching an angry John Deere tractor in the tractor pull. A midway where playing a game for two dollars gives you a chance to win a prize worth maybe a nickel and an old-fashioned freak show where the freaks are now described as strange and interesting people.

And before heading out of the gate I stop and get a paper plate stacked with hot elephant ears sprinkled with powdered sugar and hope that the warmth will carry me through the winter.

The county fair was five dollars this year. Every year I ask myself why I’ve come but every year I go.