Please excuse me while I have a moment: A tale of friendship, appreciation, car washes and a two dollar bill

I stood there behind the bar, slinging drinks as I’d done every night for the past three years, my chosen profession.

chile_mapA high school friend walked in, one who had just moved back into town.  I had seen him recently but prior to that, it had been years.  When introducing him to another, newer friend and bar patron, it dawned on me that I had known my old compatriot for thirty years.   A quarter century is a long time, thirty even longer.

Thirty years ago, in 1983, I was a wide-eyed, lanky teenager with a full head of hair and barely a clue to my name.  I was about to move overseas to a world I had never known.  Poverty-stricken yet wealthy, authoritarian-ruled yet free in so many ways, Santiago, Chile would introduce a fifteen-year old to an environment he had never before seen, changing his life forever.  I spoke no Spanish, had only made it to second base with a girl and had no idea that you couldn’t just say anything you wanted whenever you wanted.  In America you could, South America not so much.

That was thirty years ago.

A lot has changed since then.  Hair’s been lost, weight’s been gained and loves have come and gone.  Chile is no longer under authoritarian rule but I’ll never forget an old Spanish professor telling us in confidence what had happened with the government overthrow only ten years earlier.  He whispered to us, almost fearful of who might be listening.  We gathered round as if we were listening to ghost stories around a campfire.  Technically, we were.

I played little league only blocks away from where political dissidents had been allegedly assassinated, a constant reminder that every ground ball I fielded and every batter I struck out bore little importance to what went down in that stadium a decade earlier.

It was at that time that I learned one of life’s most valuable lessons:  That of appreciation.  Too often we take for granted life’s simplest values: friendship, health, family and freedom.

old lady cane drawingI overheard a woman at my local car wash the other day.  She was making a huge scene, literally berating every employee on site for charging her an extra two dollars to vacuum out her trunk.  The car wash obviously had to charge her for the extra labor but she wasn’t having it and she damn well let everyone know about it.  All for two dollars.

I sat there wondering what could be so wrong with this woman’s life that she was causing such a stir over pocket change.  I was tempted to hand her the two bucks just for peace of mind.  It would have been a small price to pay.

That’s the problem these days.  Too many of us fail to enjoy the simple things in life: to laugh, to love and to appreciate.  The friends I’ve made in my lifetime are a pleasant reminder of what to value.

I hope I never get like that old lady.  Oh, and if I do, please be sure to hand me two dollars… and a vacuum.

28 thoughts on “Please excuse me while I have a moment: A tale of friendship, appreciation, car washes and a two dollar bill

  1. Haven’t visited lately. Sweet story. Had to find an opinionated sports fan to hear what he thinks of Arod and others. Take care of yourself!

  2. At least the crazy old lady lived in a country where you can get away with that shit. In the pre-1973 Chile you mentioned, she easily could have marched into a gravel pit and machine-gunned.

    Oh, wait, I forgot you are in Florida, where any one of those car-wash employee could have machine-gunned her.

    Never mind.

  3. Chris


    Family and friendships are truly to be valued !
    . My greatest friendships from my past, which many of them still remain to this day , are with my former military buddies . We try and keep in touch as often as we can (Skype) and even plan the occasional get together, when possible .

    Wait a minute , hasn`t A Rod quite possibly now obliterated his friendship with teammate and Yankees` catcher Francisco Cervelli ? How crazy is that story , if allegedly, it is true ?

    I see Tebow had a wonderful game (minus yardage gained in is completions ) for the Patriots ? I am praying that is not a sign of tings to come if both Brady and Ryan Mallett were to get injured , simultaneously ! Tim Tebow`s stats last night are the type of things that make his supporters appear so damn stupid . It is now becoming clear tat the kid does not have what it takes to play at the highest level .

    Belichick and his ego may well love these reclamation projects , but they only work if the players in question are good in the first place ( Moss and Corey Dillon) . 2011 was simply an aberration for Tebow and not much more beyond that .

    tophatal …….,

  4. Ola’ SC. Good read. I remember (& love) that ” long lanky” & clueless kid- and the wonderful man he’s become. 🙂

    After being away for a short while … I agree … ya really DO appreciate the USA & all it’s wonderful idiosyncrasies!

    Looking forward to yr next creative post. Thx for all you are & do ….
    M

  5. Agreed, Al.

    This whole thing is looking like it’s going to end very badly for the partnership that is A-Rod and his soon-to-be former team. They obviously want nothing to do with him.

    Belichick will find some sort of use for Tebow, I’m sure. After all, he’s one of the last remaining members of those Florida teams that hasn’t run into any sort of trouble.

  6. Chris

    They (Yankees) do want to do something to A Rod but by law, it is illegal to do so , unless it is done in order to protect one`s self .

    Left you a follow up response . Read carefully , because I believe you may well see what I am saying is right , especially as it relates to the wildcard race . Only three games separates the team (Yankees) from the top two wildcard aspirants . And the Rays as of late , have not been helping their cause .

    People who live in glass houses

    The Royals sort-stop Miguel Tejada will receive a one-hundred-five game suspension for violating the league`s steroid policy for a second time . I didn`t know meth-amphetamines were so popular in Kansas City , Missouri ? LOL,LOL,LOL !!! So were does crack cocaine or heroin rank on that scale/table ?

    Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

    MLB suspends Miguel Tejada 105 games for positive amphetamine tests

    By Jeff Passan

    Kansas City Royals infielder Miguel Tejada has received a 105-game suspension after twice testing positive for Adderall, a penalty that could end the career of the 39-year-old former American League MVP.

    Because Tejada had previously tested positive under the league’s amphetamine policy, he was subject to a 25-game ban for a second positive, which was found in a test this season. A third positive, in close proximity to the second, called for an additional 80-game suspension, totaling a concurrent 105.

    It will be the third-longest non-lifetime suspension ever levied by MLB, behind Alex Rodriguez’s pending 211-game ban and Steve Howe’s 119-day sanction in 1992.

    Widespread amphetamine use throughout baseball led to a crackdown in 2006, though the drugs remain prevalent in clubhouses through therapeutic-use exemptions granted by MLB’s medical staff. Last season, the league gave 116 TUEs for players diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, allowing them to use drugs prescribed to treat ADD without repercussions.

    Tejada did not appeal the penalties and will begin serving them immediately from the 60-day disabled list, where the Royals placed him this week with a strained calf. After serving the remaining 41 games in Kansas City’s season, Tejada would be ineligible to play in the first 64 games of 2014, though one source close to Tejada indicated he is strongly leaning toward retiring.

    It would end an up-and-down career that peaked with the 2002 AL MVP and saw its nadir when he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in 2005 about his knowledge of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Though Tejada never was suspended for PED use, he later admitted to buying more than $6,000 worth of human growth hormone, which he claimed to have thrown away before injecting.

    By then, he had parlayed his success in Oakland into a $72 million contract with the Baltimore Orioles, who after four years traded him to Houston. In 2008, his first season with the Astros, Tejada admitted he had falsified his age before signing with Oakland by two years, and he was actually 34, not 32.

    ===============================================
    Click on link to read in full.
    ===============================================

    This was Tejada`s third offense overall . How the hell can he ave been so stupid ? Two failed tests inside of a year , subsequent to his first failed test ?

    MLB is now becoming like the CBS reality show ` Big Brother ` . Who`ll be next to be voted out / get a multi-game suspension ? Answers , please .

    tophatal ………

  7. Whenever I am struggling all I have to do is look at the pictures of my family on my desk to realize how lucky I am.
    Everything else pales in comparison.

  8. No I can’t believe it’s been almost 30 yrs- whew! Crazy how fast time goes by.
    Good news is that we’ve packed a lot of good stuff in all these years.
    How wonderful it is that the SC has so many good friends going back so many years. Not everyone can say that.
    Yrs are like family! And that sez a lot about U.
    Great friends are rare and are real gifts. You are rich in many ways SC.

  9. Chris:

    Long time no seen nor hear. How are you? Glad you still remember Chile and the people that loved you here. Hope you keep in touch and most important of all, take care and never lose hope.

  10. Hey Chris,

    I do believe this is why everyone should travel, because you learned something that changed your life.

    Friendships can come in all kinds of ways, you may not see the people for many years or speak to them that often but the important thing is you remember and pick up where you left off.

    Loved this even the story of the old lady made me laugh, I have an old man in my life just like that, his name is Dad… It is the generation they worked hard for everything, and most of the time their Social Security is not enough to keep them going threw the month, so $2.00 is a lot. Or she is just a crotchety old lady who is just angry she is old, and everyone else has to pay for it now!

  11. The Tejada news isn’t surprising at all, Al, but this A-Rod stuff keeps getting more and more juicy.

    Glennon’s all the rave these days. Think he’ll eventually earn a starting spot over Freeman?

  12. Amen.

    The most valuable currency between human beings is trust.

    Money, possessions love and friendships come and go -but when you have a friend, wife or family member that garners your trust, then you truly have something of value.

  13. Bitterness and misery are like viruses. They spread amongst people and infect some that otherwise don’t deserve it…Like this miserly old bitty you saw at the car wash…I’m all for saving a buck but making a scene like that is unecessary and just plain rude. I just try to let that kind of crap roll off my back like a duck and water….Otherwise their misery gets into you and you carry it around like luggage. That’s why I say Fuck it. (Thanks again Chappelle Show!)

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