Friday, April 21, 2017

The Fire of Mr. Green Shirt

“The layouts on fire!” the tall, white haired man in the green shirt shouted as he ran out of my office and almost hitting his head on the overhead “G” gauge train roadbed. He left down the three stairs that led up to my main office floor and shot out the door.
I didn’t move from where I sat in my desk chair with one foot resting on top of my desk. I just watched and thought “Shouldn’t I be disturbed? Worried? Concerned? In a panic?… No. No, I was pretty much worn out for the day and all the cares I’d had when I started had departed many hours before.
I dropped my leg to the floor, shook my head and picked up one of the two mini-cameras I’d been using to record new train layout footage with for the past five hours and wondered if any of the footage was any good. I plugged the camera into my computer and waited for the machines to shake the binary hands and talk to each other.
Sounds of the green shirted man climbing over the protective barrier and hustling around to where the “Fire” was floated into my office. Sounds of visitors talking and laughing trailed in with the frantic pace of Mr. Green Shirt.
I shook my head, tried to concentrate on finding video files on the camera but my mind started to wander…
“Skip, shouldn’t you be concerned?… No, if it were a real fire people would be screaming.”
“Skip, shouldn’t you check out the damage, after all, you designed this layout, poured your heart and soul into it?… No, we have a sprinkler system, and an alarm system and we are insured.

“But Skip, you love this work. Yes, yes I do, too much. But I just can’t muster any strength for another problem today. I’m just too dam tired and I just want to go home and relax.”
“Your job may depend on this incident.”
Which is about the time Mr. Green Shirt walked back into my office holding one of the track cleaning cars between his fingers. “Wow, never saw that happen before. The car derailed and the sparks set the denatured alcohol on fire.” he said almost gleefully.

I looked up at him and said “You know Mr. Green Shirt, I’ve been doing this job for over sixteen years, cleaned the track of this layout and four other layouts on a weekly and sometimes daily basis and I’ve never once set a layout on fire. This truly is a first.”

Mr. Green Shirt laughed, I chuckled and when he handed me the melted felt pads that had only until recently been attached to the track cleaning car I just shrugged and nodded toward the trash can. He threw the pads into the trash can.

He then changed the pads, soaked them with a bit of denatured alcohol and went and put them back on the track.

The trains rolled on.

You see, there are days like this in my life as I’m sure there are days like this in your life.

Days where when you get to work, something small goes wrong, then another thing goes wrong only this time it’s a bit more important, then another and another and another. Soon, you have things on fire, a person yelling and you’re trying to muster the energy to actually not just care but inspect the damage and fix the problem.

This was the low point in my day and all I could do was chuckle to myself. After all, when I thought about what had happened, it was pretty damn funny. So for the rest of our time together, Mr. Green Shirt took my good natured ribbing with a wink and a smile. 

Now, before you say, “Skip, you’re being a bully. You’re pouring salt into the wound of his pride. You’re just being mean.”

No, I’m not.

Mr. Green Shirt and have been working together for fifteen years and have developed an excellent relationship and we consider each other friends more than anything else. Sure, we both have a love of trains, jazz music and old time crooners, but more importantly we have a huge amount of respect for each other. Also; he gives me as much guff as I give him, sometimes more even. Which is good.

Now, I will say this, if someone else had shouted “The layouts on fire!”

I would have been the first on scene. But Mr. Green Shirt, nah, it was his mess, he needed to clean it up and figure it out. I’m not there to hold his hand, I”m there to teach him and work with him. Besides, It was a bonding moment for the both of us.

Have a great week. I hope you have someone at work that gives you as much frustration, joy, laughter and friendship as I do. Oh, and the occasional proverbial heart attack.


Love you Mr. Green Shirt. Hope you dig this blog.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Bad Medicine


“You know, if they put THC in medicine, I don’t think there’d be an issue of people not taking it.” Was the comment I made to a dear friend of mine the other day.
You see, he’s sick, he’s been sick for years and there really isn’t anything the doctor’s can do for him. He has to take about a dozen pills a day, he’s on a restricted diet and stuck in a damnable motorized wheel chair. He hates the pills, he hates the wheelchair and he damn sure hates the dietary restrictions.

He hates the food restrictions so much that sometimes he goes off diet and puts up with the illness that ensues. It’s a conscious decision and I can’t really blame him. He hates the pills so much that sometimes he doesn’t take them because they upset his stomach and make him just a bit sick. (By a “bit sick” I mean he pukes. Then he has to eat bland, food that he hates and then drink some sort of artificially sweetened protein shake that tastes awful, trust me I know, I tried one and it almost made me puke.) I feel bad for him.

His response to my comment was a giant smile and a hoarsely whispered “I wish.”

His caretaker, an elderly woman with a heart of gold just frowned at me and shook her head.

I chuckled.

Then I thought to myself “Why not?” Why doesn’t “Big Pharma” make medicine that makes you feel good and isn’t addictive? It can’t be money issues. After all, if you had a condition that required you to take a pill or three everyday, wouldn’t you want ti to make you feel good? No, I’m not talking about the opiate plague that seems to be the craze on the news on every channel. 

I’m talking about a natural substance that actually makes on just feel good and relax and take things in stride. Yeah, yeah, I know all about Aldous Huxley’s book “Brave New World”. And all that implies. But, I’m not talking about mandatory mood altering drugs.

I’m talking about pills that have side effects that make one feel like garbage when they could make you feel good. After all, have you heard what some of the side effects of modern medicine is? No? Okay, I’ll quote some for you:

        • drowsiness, dizziness;
sleep problems (insomnia);
mild nausea, gas, heartburn, upset stomach, constipation;
weight changes;
decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm; or.
dry mouth, yawning, ringing in your ears.
drowsiness, dizziness, tired feeling;
mild nausea, stomach pain, upset stomach, constipation;
dry mouth;
changes in appetite or weight;
sleep problems (insomnia); or.
decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm.
constipation,
diarrhea,
nausea,
fatigue,
gas,
heartburn,
headache, and
mild muscle pain.

      Crazy list isn’t it. However that is a list of three separate medicines. I know at least a dozen people who are on at least one of those pills. So why can’t we feel good about the drugs that keep us alive? I wish I knew. I wish some really smart guy in “Big Pharma” would figure it out.

      I hate seeing the people I know in pain and I really hate that some of the drugs they take cause them pain as well. Let alone help them relax. It seems to me that with some drugs you take you have to take more to offset the side effects of the drugs keeping you alive and sort of well while dealing with your chronic condition.

      I don’t know. Maybe that is what “They” want… 

     “Here’s a pill for this condition… Oh, don’t worry about the side effects, we have pills for those too.”

      Then you carry your handful of prescriptions to the pharmacy and find out that you have to spend $150.00 for all of them. Then you go home, dejected, depressed and eat a handful of pills with a large glass of water and your so full from the medicine that you’re not even hungry. Then your family fusses at you for not eating, but you can’t eat, cause you have a stomach full of water and pills and they don’t understand.

      So you call your doctor, he prescribes another drug with a list of side effects three pages long. So you get that medicine, you take it, along with all the other medicine and you repeat this day in and day out in the hopes of a cure or wellness or a life. But you don’t have any quality of life. You just exist.

      You barely take joy in anything. You try to watch television but all you see is bad news and bad movies with bad actors. So you turn on the radio and are subjected to twenty minutes of commercials for things you don’t want, need or events that you wouldn’t go to even if you could. Then you hear a song or three by bands you’ve never heard of so you turn off the radio and pick up a book and try to read it. But with all the drugs in your system you have a hell of a time focusing on the words on the pages.

      So you say fuck it. I’m done. I’m going outside, but as soon as you do, it you regret it. Because you don’t know anyone. Everyone you know is at work, or is with their family or are busy or dead. You don’t want to ask family for help because you feel like a burden and all they want to talk about is your health. And all you want to talk about is anything but that.

      So you go to your room. You take your pills. You lie down on your bed. You stare at the ceiling and remember a life you once lived before all the pain, the illness, the pills. A life that seemed to belong to someone else.

      A life filled with travel, adventure and interesting people. A life filled with lovers and dreamers. A life where every day was a new experience and you never really knew what was going to happen or who you’d meet. 

      You tell yourself this was who you were. But it’s all mist. Mist disappearing in the heat of the rising sun. You try to hold onto those memories. Yet the memories only mock you in who you used to be. The pleasant experiences in your life become painful because you know those days are nothing but fading ink on the pages of your mind.

      Just when you think it can’t get any worse. The little alarm on your watch beeps and you realize it is time for another round of pills…

      So, yeah… why can’t they make something or put something in the medicine to actually make a person feel good?

      Okay, enough for now… I’m going to go take my medicine.

Have a great week.