Tree of Life

First, some bus driver talk:

We just had our semi-annual route picks. Every six months we pick new routes to give drivers a break from routine and an opportunity, if one exists, to get a better route. It’s based on seniority and I’m not at the top of the list, but the good news, this time I was able to get one of my choices.

For the past few years I’ve been stuck on a particular route. As routes go, it’s one of the least favorite because it requires a special type of driver. For me, it wasn’t all that bad because, let’s just say—when I need to be, I can be very special.

In a nutshell, you have to deal with many (this is to satisfy the PC police) residentially challenged passengers who ride for free so they frequently ride, and they expect concierge service. I’ve developed a few techniques I use to remind them that I work for the county, not Uber, and they can stick their concierge service where the sun don’t shine. It’s been successful. Although in their case, that place where the sun don’t shine frequently sees sunshine—moonshine too. Modesty (by necessity) is not one of their virtues.

Now for the tree:

The image below is just another example of why I needed a change. It’s the stump of what used to be a beautiful shade tree that I passed under nine times a day while driving my route. It was beginning to grow into the power lines directly above and rather than trim it, they cut it down. That was about five months ago and for me, it was sad. Why? Because, on what was normally a dismal drive, this particular spot with its large shade tree and four-way stop, was a brief yet peaceful respite. Entertaining too! You can’t imagine how outrageously funny people can be until you watch them try to figure out how to work a four-way stop.

So there I was driving my route and passing this dead stump day in and day out, when out of nowhere, the unimaginable happened, and it happened fast. One day there was a dried-out stump, the next, it was green with life. And it really cheered me up to see that with each passing day, there was new growth, greener and denser than before. To me, it represented real hope for the future.

Then, on my last day driving this Godforsaken route; a beautiful sunny day that followed three days of rain; I expected to see the tree, my tree, thriving with life and promise. Alas, I think the meme speaks for itself.

Au Revoir, Vaya Con Dios — Later Old Friend

Pray for the Homeless

This morning while I was eating my breakfast I turned on the morning news. There’s nothing unique about that; it’s my routine. However, there was something coincidental. It has everything to do with breaking routine. You see, every morning the news for the most part, is the same. And it’s bad. Crimes committed against the vulnerable, crooked politicians, wild-fires out of control—you name it, it happens.

But this morning one of the first stories reported was about a photograph. It was taken by someone who was in the right place at the right time. The picture was of a teenager kneeling at the foot of a sleeping homeless man. The teenager wasn’t there to beat the defenseless stranger, or to steal whatever small valuables he might have, or to just be cruel and divvy out more bad luck to someone with clearly an abundance. No, he was there to pray for the man.

The story touched me because just the day before, I was on the road running from one sales appointment to another and needing a pit-stop in between. My head was full of the things that people like me would consider important. How am I going to pay my bills this month? My leads suck. My closing ratio is down this week. I just had a huge fight with my girlfriend. My cat may have cancer. My this, my that, my everything.

Notice how many “my’s” there are?

Okay, back to what happened. As I said, I needed a pit-stop so I turned in to a Bee-Back service station at the corner. By the way, not the cleanest I’ve seen. Anyway, as I walked in I passed a homeless guy. He wasn’t headed out of the store; he was just walking by. To describe him would be redundant, other than to say, he looked truly down on his luck and . . . he was shoeless. As I walked past him he didn’t acknowledge me and I returned the gesture.

Fully relieved and fully engrossed in my personal issues again, I got in my company car and headed to my next sales call. On the way out of the parking lot, I saw the same homeless guy sitting on the ground around the corner of the store, his back against the building for support.

I drove right passed.

Then, this morning I saw a photograph of a teenager bowing his head in prayer at the foot of a homeless man sleeping on the street. It made me wish I could do something; it made me wish I had done something.

I think . . .

Is this my prayer?





P.S. – Maybe we should all carry a spare pair of flip-flops.



After Graduation, A dream inspired by “Brothers”

“Darren Dixon,” the female reporter was short of breath as she caught up to the unlikely hero. “Your first home run of the post season is a walk-off to win the series. How did it make you feel?”


The reporter needed more. “Darren, you aren’t known as a homerun hitter; you were facing their lights-out closer with a 3-2 count. It was the bottom of the ninth, two outs, down by one, and the leadoff man was still camped out at first. With all that pressure, how did you know you had a walk-off in your bag of tricks?”

“I didn’t.”

She still needed more. “So tell us Darren. What was going through your mind before the pitch?”

He looked into the camera and a smile came to his face. It was the smile of someone who knows a secret, and has just decided to share it. He turned back and looked her in the eye. “You’re right. I’m not a homerun hitter. My average is high but that’s because I connect and get the hell out of the batter’s box as fast as I can. I’m faster than most and my job is to advance the runner and get on base. But last night something changed. You see, usually, I don’t get nervous about games, not even post-season games. I get excited but not nervous, for me there’s a difference.

“But last night I couldn’t relax to save my life. I just kept tossing and turning, eyes wide open, and I was really getting on edge. It’s something I’m not used to. Anyway, I like to read and it was late so I grabbed my Kindle and browsed around looking for something new, you know, to take my mind off of things. Of course, the first thing I searched for was something baseball related, I couldn’t help myself, and up comes a link to a short story called “Brothers.” And guess what? It was free. I thought what the hell, it’s free, so I downloaded it. Five minutes later, I’m reading this story and not thinking about anything else. The next thing I know its morning and at first, I thought I dreamed the whole thing, but I saw my Kindle next to me on the bed and then I remembered.

“All day, every time I started to feel nervous I’d think about the story, the dream. It just kept popping into my head and it was a distraction. But it distracted me in a good way, because thank God, I wasn’t anxious about the game anymore. Later on, standing there at the plate, with the game and the championship on the line, I started to think about the story.

“I regained my concentration just in time to see the pitcher take the sign and start his windup. But as he gained momentum, something weird happened—he seemed to move in slow motion, kind of like a dream. When the ball came out, it looked as big as a cantaloupe. It was a fastball but it looked like it was moving slow. Then it started to drop a little and inched its way to the outside of the zone. Everyone knows that’s not where you pitch to me. I always hit those, but never out of the park.

“The next thing I knew, the bat was coming around and it felt light as a feather, I could see the ball like never before. I could see the bat; I saw it all. When the bat connected, it felt like butter, smooth silky butter. I have never hit anything that hard before but I knew it was gone.” Darren winked at the reporter. “I guess there’s a first time for everything; I never hit a walk-off homerun before, and I never saw a pitcher throw a cantaloupe either.”

The reporter got what she asked for, unexpected as it was. Ramblings about a story and cantaloupes? What was that about? But her time was almost up, there were other reports waiting. “Just one more thing Darren.” He nodded his approval and she went on. “The camera caught you saying something as you watched the ball and started around the bases. What did you say?”

Darren smiled the same smile he had from before and said, “This one’s for you Mikey.” He winked again, “Thanks,” and started to walk away.

“Wait!” The reporter couldn’t leave her impromptu exclusive open like that. “Who’s Mikey? Is he a close friend?”

Darren turned back as he walked, “Read Brothers.”

I know guys, it’s a shameless plug, but what the hell. You can download “Brothers” for free today and tomorrow. It’s my way of saying goodbye to the 2014 baseball season. Just go to my website  by clicking one of the links below.

Let me know what you think. Feel free to leave a review too. Don’t worry, I can take it.

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