Thursday, March 24, 2011

Peeing at the Board of Ed

Peeing at the Board of Ed

Barbara was getting her elementary teaching license in New York City.  In order to do that, you had to fill out the application deliver it to the Board of Ed headquarters in Brooklyn, and while you were there, submit to a urine test.

Sounds simple enough, says the guy who could pee on demand.  Not so simple for certain other people.

It was winter, and there was ice and slush on the ground.  Barbara asked me to take her to the Board of Ed Headquarters.  Her appointment was for 9:00 AM, making us travel in NY rush hour, a daunting task by car or any other means for that matter.

We arrived slightly before 9, and turned in her application.  Next came the urine test.  Not really sure what they were testing for, but I was confident Barbara would be fine.

We reported to the lady who conducts the test.  She gave Barbara the sample bottle and asked her to go to the bathroom down the hall and come back with the sample.

Barbara dutifully went to the bathroom.

About 10 minutes later, Barbara came out and gestured for me to join her down the hall.  She told me she couldn’t urinate.  She tried but she wasn’t ready.

She proceeded to drink water, run the faucet, all to no avail.

What to do, what to do?

I had a simple and I believed foolproof solution.  I would pee in the container.  How could it hurt?  I wasn’t taking drugs or sick with a communicable disease: what else would they test for?  The best part was I could pee anytime, anywhere.  A win, win.

Barbara of course was against the idea.  She tried peeing again, no luck.

Finally after about an hour of fruitless effort, she agreed, albeit under protest.

As advertised, I was able to pee into the cup.  Barbara returned the cup to the woman in charge who told us to wait.

After about a half hour the woman returns and tells us Barbara will have to make a new appointment.  She tells us the urine was not Barbara’s. 

How she knew that, I never really was sure.  Did the Board of Ed check for sex of the applicant, thinking perhaps to find a Transvestite in their midst?  I don’t know.  The woman didn’t seem concerned that the urine wasn’t Barbara’s; she just wanted her to make a new appointment.

We made the appointment for two days from then.

Barbara was determined not to duplicate the last visit, so she pee’d at home into a small bottle and brought it with her.  We arrived at the lady’s desk and presented the bottle.

“Sorry,” she said, “it’s too cold, which means too old”.

“What??? What does that have to do with it?” I asked.

“It’s the rules,” she said, “has to be fresh for testing”.

Once again Barbara couldn’t perform on demand.  A new appointment was made.

They say the third time is the charm, they were right.   Barbara held it in from when she first got up in the morning (an unbelievable feat as far as I’m concerned) and passed the test.

I had to return to the Board of Ed for my own testing a few months later. 

Aced it the first time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Choice or Prime

Choice or Prime

Bob and I were in the food business for a few years.  We would deliver fresh steaks, frozen prepared foods, fish, shrimp, chicken cutlets, cheese cakes, lobster, and many other items in portion controlled boxes.  These things would be delivered to people at their home or business for their home consumption.

We became the “Meat Man”, just like the old time milk man, bread man, etc. who came to you with the items you ordered.  We would give them recipes and advice on how to cook, offer them specials, and we would have regular routes going from Palm Beach to Miami.

At one point I was the only salesperson authorized to make deliveries and sell this kind of service on Palm Beach Island.  I had to register with the Palm Beach Police and carry an ID card with me.  Since I was registered the police didn’t give me a hard time, and kept other “salesmen” off the Island.  We sold to some famous and near famous people, such as the sister of Senator Jacob Javitts.

Almost all our customers stayed with us for a long time, and we were always looking for new customers.  We would always have extra items with us to sell to new customers, generally at their place of business or where they were when we arrived with a delivery, such as a beauty salon.

The beauty salons were great.  Once one person bought, it often inspired the other women to buy and we would gain new customers.  Sometimes it would turn into a buying frenzy which was great for us.

We often got recommendations to other customers.  One such recommendation was a man in Delray Beach.  He ordered a box of NY Strip Steaks and asked for it to be delivered to his home.  I called him before coming and he seemed a little befuddled on the phone, but gave me directions.  The house was on the beach.  I knocked on the door, and the man came to the door stark naked with a drink in his hand.

I decided discretion was the better part of profit, and quickly turned around and left, leaving him swaying in the doorway.  Needless to say, I didn’t go back.

Some of our customers were commercial establishments like restaurants and bars.  We had some topless bars as customers. 

Their licenses usually were restaurant licenses, so in order to keep their licenses; they had to “sell” food. 

The inspectors would look at their purchase receipts to make sure they were buying food.  They would generally buy items they could prepare easily.  They would buy steaks, hamburgers, hotdogs, Chicken Fingers, and the like.  Their cliental were more drinkers than eaters.

The first time I delivered to a one particular customer, he gave me a check as payment.  I told him I couldn’t take his check.  He asked me why and I replied, “the name of your company is Goniff, Inc. (a Yiddish word for No-goodnik or thief, a bad person), and I know what that means. 

He gave me cash.

We would also sell to the dancers in the clubs.  They would pay us in $1 bills.  Our pockets would bulge with the wad of one dollar bills they would pay us with.  Hint, that’s a good way to pinpoint the occupation of your young female acquaintances.

One time, I was delivering a box of Prime NY Strip to one of the clubs.  I was in the kitchen when one of the dancers came into the kitchen.  She had just finished performing and was wearing a filmy negligee.  She spied the box I had just brought in and asked what was in it?

I replied, “Prime NY Strip Steaks”. 

She asked me to open the box.  Her eyes lit up.  She asked what they cost.  I told her.

She lifted her negligee and said, “Do you want to trade Prime for Prime?”

I replied, “Looks kind of Choice to me”. 

My comment went right over her head.  She didn’t understand what I was referring to.

Fortunately, the owner came in with my payment and I left.

I told this story to Barbara when I got home. 

I never understood why she awarded me no points for my behavior.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Dead Guy in the Apartment

The Dead Guy in the Apartment

My brother-in-law and I own some properties together which we rent out.  In the course of several years we have encountered various renters who were or are truly characters.

One of the rental units is in a building on A1A in Fort Lauderdale.  It is a converted hotel and has all studio apartments, half of which have little kitchens.  The hallways are drab looking and the place used to be filled with transients who were less than desirable.

Barbara and I had to go there once and were accosted by an older woman carrying a bottle of liquor, wearing a long blouse that came down to her thighs and was basically unbuttoned, and no panties (don’t ask).  She asked if we were interested in a party and nearly floored us with her alcoholic breath.  Barbara quickly left the building and I went into our rental unit to collect some rent.  

It has gotten better over the years, although we do have one couple who consistently come home drunk and have fights.  The condo management has sent us surveillance pictures of the husband dragging the passed out wife by her feet into the elevator. 

In another building we have 5 units, and at one time there was an older lady leaving there with a heavy, black, southern accent.  She would pronounce my name as “Shirley”.  She would call the office and ask for “Shirley” and be told there is no-one here by that name.  After a while we learned to recognize her call.  She was very demanding of certain things and once called to complain the tenant in another unit didn’t say hello to her.  What was I supposed to do?  I’m not the guy’s father.

We had a tenant who was a dancer/escort, who hated men, a guy who thought he was a musician and insisted on practicing all day and into the night (we evicted him), a guy who would troll the bus station looking for naïve out of towners; offer them a place to stay the night and then lock them out and steal their stuff (also evicted).

There were and are many other “characters” who we have and are renting to.

The one tenant who stands out is the one that died.

I first met him when he answered our ad.  The first thing he asked me was “do you want to see my teeth?”  I was a little taken aback by that, but pressed on.

He next informed me he was an “Official Police Informer” for the Pennsylvania Highway Patrol, and he had a little card printed which stated that.

By this time I was becoming very leery of him and felt there was something a little off.   

He did have rent and security and we had guarantee’s from his mother and brother back in Pennsylvania that they would pay the rent. They were probably glad to get rid of him. We rented him the studio in the building on A1A.

Everything went along well for the first two months.  The rent showed up and we had no complaints about him from the management.

Towards the end of the third month we had a message left on our answering machine that said “I have been attacked in my apartment, I am going to the hospital, the police are here and I have contracted Aids”.

We called the building management to see what had happened.

It seems a young girl had come home drunk about 3 AM; she got off on the wrong floor and attempted to open our tenant’s door with the key to her apartment.  This woke him up.  Instead of looking through the peephole or asking who was there, or keeping the chain on when he opened the door, he flung the door open.
The girl pushes past him and thinks he is in “her” apartment trying to attack her.  She proceeds to attack him.  They fight, rolling around, and in the scuffle, she bites him (thus the Aids comment).  The police are called by some other tenants and the girl is arrested.

Our tenant while not really hurt, goes to the hospital, thinking he’s infected with Aids.

We speak with him that afternoon and he seems fine, or as fine as he gets.

A few days later we get a call from the tenant’s brother. He tells us he can’t get a hold of his brother and wants us to go investigate.

We tell him we can’t go today but will tomorrow morning.

Bob, my brother-in-law goes to the apartment, knocks, gets no answer and opens the door with a key.  He finds the tenant dead in his bed.  He calls the police.

The police and coroner come and take away the body.  They think it’s an overdose of prescription medicines, they have found a virtual pharmacy of prescription drugs. We think it may have been deliberate since he was worried about AIDS.

We are informed we have to hire a special bio disposal company to take way the bedding and mattress.  It’s rather expensive.

We get a call a few days later from the brother of the tenant.  He implies it’s our fault his brother is dead.  He ignores the fact the brother died 2 days before, and that he and his mother sent the brother to Florida to get rid of him.

Never the less we agree to help pack up the brother’s stuff and load his car and meet a transporter who will take the car and contents to Pennsylvania.

We do all that. 

A few days later, the brother calls again. We are expecting a thank you for our help in getting the brother’s stuff and car.  Instead, he asks if he can get back the 5 days rent remaining in the month. 

We are speechless and hang up.    

A new development just occurred and I have to add it to this blog.  

We got a call from the building manager at the A!A property.

The police called him at 3 AM to ask if someone lived in the building.  It seems our newest tenant was found wandering on the railroad tracks at Commercial Blvd in Fort Lauderdale STARK NAKED.

He had no recollection of how he got there or where his clothes were.  The police brought him back to the apartment where they found the door wide open.

I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.           

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Volley Ball Incident

The Volley Ball Incident

Barbara and I, and our friends Gina and Mark were going on a cruise. 

As is her routine, the General created a list a few weeks in advance, listing all the things to take along including Passports, medicines, etc.  She packed the day before and was dressed and ready early the morning of our departure.  I of course, being more spontaneous (she says disorganized) opted for that morning to pack.

We had arranged for a car service to take all of us to the port.  We arrived at the port around 12 and proceeded to the boarding area.

We were on line waiting our turn to go through security when the guard told us to have our passports ready.  Barbara confidently looked in her handbag for the passports.  They were nowhere to be found.

Now Barbara’s handbag is always pretty big and filled with various items.  Today was no exception.  We stepped off the line to search the bag.  We took out a fairly large pile of items, still no passports.  We turned the bag upside down, unzipped everything we could see, still no passports.  By this time, I am picturing having to leave the terminal get a cab and go home to look for the passports.  The General is sure she had taken them and insists she has them.  We spend about fifteen more minutes searching her bag, her pockets, etc.  Now we fear she has put them in a bag we have checked through to the room.

We turn the bag inside out, and tucked away in the dim recesses of the bag is a “secret” zippered compartment.  We can feel something in there, but when we open it up, we don’t see anything.  Finally, we see a slit in the lining and find the passports inside a more “secret” area of the secret compartment.

Barbara is overjoyed and runs ahead to catch up with our friends.

Unfortunately I am left with a couple of carry on bags, two hats and the camera to go through security with.  Of course I am pulled aside.

“Come with me,” the security guard says.

“What seems to be the problem?” I inquire.

“The x-ray machine has detected what appears to be round cylinders or bottles in one of your carry on bags,” she replies.

“Really,” I say, “round cylinders, what the hell could that be?”

I look around for Barbara; she’s gone on ahead, leaving me to my fate.

The guard and I approach a counter top with another guard.  They take the offending bag and open it up.  They discover the suspicious objects.  It’s Barbara’s hair rollers.

Between the passport fiasco and the hair roller incident, I have spent a total of 20 minutes on line and I haven’t even approached check in yet.

I eventually catch up to Barbara, Mark and Gina, and we make it on board.

We are too early to get into our rooms so we go to lunch carrying our carry on bags.  We finish lunch, drop off our bags and go around the ship looking it over and signing up for specialty restaurants and Mark and Gina for the Spa.

We have chosen late dinner seating and are placed at a table for 10.  For the whole trip, two of the people are never present.  The other 4 people are friends traveling together.  They are friendly and funny.

We spend the first day at sea, the second at Cozumal.  At this point my stomach is upset and I am being very careful to eat small portions and simple foods.  I contact the nurse and she tells me if I want any medication they will isolate me until I feel better.  I choose to tough it out. The next day is at Routan, Honduras.  We have signed up for a shore excursion that includes a beach day and snorkeling.  They take us to a great beach with a nice resort and we spend the day there.  Barbara does not go snorkeling.  She does go in water, never getting her hair wet (a family legend).  I’m still not feeling well and stick with fruit and water.  I survive without embarrassing myself.

We get back to the ship and discover the door to our cabin is covered with crepe paper ribbons and a large poster which says: “Happy 85th Birthday Shelly” It has various side messages such as “you look good for your age” and other things meant to emphasis an 85th Birthday.  It is really funny.  Barbara and I laugh about it. 

We go into our room and Gina calls us.  She managed to do this while we were off somewhere.  She is getting me back for a joke I pulled on her a month before.  I decide to leave the poster and crepe up for the remainder of the cruise.

People passing by when we are going in and out of the room comment on how well I look for “my age”.  Gina and Mark’s stateroom neighbors on the other side of the ship tell them about the 85 year old on the floor.  We all get a laugh out of it.  I leave the poster up.

The cruise is great, we have a great time. We participate in many of the ship activities, we dance every night before dinner, and I get to dance with the singer in one of the bands as well as one of the activities directors.  Barbara dances with the dance instructor during a theme party.  I even wind up winning about $30 dollars at blackjack at the end of the cruise.

We love Costa Rica, taking a gondolier through the treetops of the rainforest, a boat through the Panama Canal, a tour of Cartagenia (Barbara manages to buy an emerald ring.  I send an email to our Grandchildren asking them to get their parents to send money) and especially the Caymans.  Mark and I have talked the girls into swimming with the Stingrays at Stingray City, something they are hesitant to do.

We get on board the boat, which takes us to Stingray City, a sandbar off the coast of Cayman Island.  We anchor and step onto the sandbar.  The water is warm and about 3 feet deep.  The stingrays are all around.  The crew is terrific.  They grab hold of a stingray and show us how to feed the stingrays with the octopus they have brought along.  We all get to hold the stingrays, get massaged by them and kiss them (its funnier than it sounds).  The crew takes photos and videos of everything, which we buy.  No one will believe Barbara has done this without proof.  Mark says his family won’t believe Gina did this either without proof.  Barbara has managed to do this without getting her hair wet.  The legend grows.

I send another email to our grandchildren saying “Barbie Poppa has kissed a Stingray” We get an email back saying “There is shocked silence” This is definitely not the Barbie Poppa they know.

Barbara and Gina have a great time.  They forgive us for making them come on this excursion.

The next day is a day at sea.  The activities people have organized a pool volleyball tournament.  I wander down to the pool and meet our table mates. One of them has signed up and I decide to sign up too.  Barbara, Gina and Mark are on another deck reading and sunning themselves.

It’s my team’s turn.  I jump in the pool and get in position.  The ball comes my way.  I jump up to hit it back.  I rise up out of the water, my bathing suit does not.

My suit is not tight enough around the waist and has chosen this moment to make that evident.

I quickly pull up my suit.  No one seems to have noticed.  Not sure if I’m relieved or insulted.

Now, every time I jump, I try to hold my suit up.  Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes not.   It makes for an interesting time.

We manage to lose our game, but since there are only 4 teams competing (have I mentioned I’m considered a “youngster” on this cruise, most of the fellow passengers are older), my team comes in 3rd and we are awarded a bronze medal. 

I return to the side of the pool where my tablemates are.  I casually mention my wardrobe malfunction, much to their delight and amusement (they didn’t notice either).

I go back to where Barbara, Mark and Gina are, wearing my medal which is bronze colored.  I let them think it is gold.  In the sun they can’t tell the difference.

During the cruise, something has happened to Mark.  Gina blames me.  She claims Mark is usually shy.  He now appears to have become much more gregarious.  He is introducing himself, talking to everyone (remind you of anyone?) and being very “unlike Mark”.  I think this is a good thing, Gina’s not so sure.

The cruise is coming to an end.   People are still commenting on the Birthday Poster.  We have all had a great time. 

Barbara and I would definitely go on a cruise somewhere else, not sure if it would be together.