Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Am I recyclable?

(a hometown classic column)

How I wish I could take my aging, tired body and put it in a blue recyclable street box and wait for the giant waste truck to come by and pick me up only later to drop me off reprocessed and revitalized. 

Can they just melt my parts down and fashion another new shiny one out of the mix?

Or would they turn me into a seat cushion?

I refuse to go the route of Hollywood Celebs with thick pocketbooks and thicker self absorption who recycle their faces at the local plastic surgeon. Most stars come out of the plastic machine looking wide eyed, swollen and ….scary.

Yes, plastic is recyclable but do we really want reused syrup bottles in our cheek bones?

Hair is a good recyclable part of our body. Women will grow their hair long and donate the locks to charities where cancer patients can have wigs fashioned from the reused material. That is a worthy cause. However, if I donated my never-had-a- good-hair day mop to someone they would hunt me down and slap me.

Or is bad hair better than no hair? There are days I would consider bald.

You can always wear a hat for a bad hair day.
The phrase “Reduce Reuse Recycle” can encourage us all to be more responsible Earth caretakers in which God intended us. He didn't provide a paradise with maid service. I believe the almighty wanted us to keep our room clean. Thereby, less junk in the landfill is better, and less trash on the side of the roads, the rivers and streams, and the ocean would follow as well.

In that intent, recycling is Biblical, whether you are Old or New Testament, all of the planet’s residences should take responsibility.

Another way we can recycle ourselves is by being an organ donor. What better way to reuse old parts than by reusing lungs, hearts, and a couple of kidneys? A dear friend passed recently and it was great comfort to his widow that seven families were given a wonderful and treasured gift.

After all, a second-hand heart is better than a broken one.

I can live with the idea of donating my organs, but please make sure I am completely dead. 

Why are folks stingy with their parts? They won’t be using them anymore. 

Not all things are negotiable, I draw the line at donating my soul, no matter how much the devil will tempt or bribe me with great guitar skills.

Brilliance is recyclable. I reuse great quotes from literature and movies in my writing and to update my status on Facebook. I don’t have time to produce my own wise sayings.

Words are always reused. In the seventies, “Sit on it” or “Kiss my grits!” became iconic phrases used over and over again, reused and abused! Totally, 'Like' totally overused.

Stories are reused. Cable television recycles old sitcoms. They can’t seem to make good ones anymore as if no one has an inspired new thought. Its sequels, part twos and remakes, oh my!!Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun (or at the movie theater.)

There is a point where recycling should be toned done.

How committed am I to recycling? I participate if it is made convenient or it profits me…then I recycle.

As a young entrepreneur in the seventies I would gather coke bottles and recycle them at the local grocery store. I wasn't interested in the green revolution but rather capitalism.

When baby number two came along, I invested in cloth diapers because the disposable ones were bad for the environment. It didn't take long before I could care less about the landfills but rather how not to see or smell what my son’s diet had reused in his diapers.

When we die we are suppose to turn back into ashes. Not today, we are stuck in non-disposable coffins that take up beautiful land plots and stick non-decaying plastic flowers atop the grave for decoration. How green is that?

Can’t I be fertilizer? I want my nitrate filled ashes to re-energize the dirt. I want my organ-less, bald body to degrade and donate nourishment to the Earth.

I want to be recycled.

People’s lives should have a recyclable mark on them. All lives can be made new. But, not all will take advantage of reprocessing their mistakes or poor choices. When a person gives up on reinventing themselves after making a mistake then they are sent straight to the trash heap. Wasted.

As a Christian, we love to recycle lives. You can be the sorriest piece of humanity that ever lived but in our faith, you can be transformed from trash to a reused commodity. That is probably why other religions are suspicious of our quick and easy reinvention system.

It seems I have answered my question. Am I recyclable? My hair, my brilliance or the lack of can be continually shared over and over again, my organs can bring hope to another person, my soul can be transformed from once was lost to now found. 

YES, I am a reusable material.

If only I could recycle my kids?
Can I put them in a blue box on my street corner for the recyclable truck next Monday morning? 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ain't No Cure for the Summertime blues

  It is the lazy hot days of summer...
..... where you take a deep breath of fresh air but the humidity is so high you feel like you are sucking in bits of air and a whole lot of steam. It is the longest daylight hours but it’s too hot to go outside. Its children who seem to multiply as the day goes on and on. 
Pickin' Cotton in Bama
 It’s the summertime blues and according to Eddie Cochran, there ain’t no cure.

The summer blues reminds me of the old-fashioned hillbilly scene on the comedy show, Hee Haw where the actors are all lounging around on country porches, fanning themselves along with the laziest hound you ever saw and the scene is accompanied by the lethargic harmonica tune which always announces the skit.
Our version of the lazy hound...Cody

Summertime swim hole

I sometimes hear that music in my head on a dusty, lazy summer day.

As summer comes to an end, anxious children have just realized their summer fun is whittling down as ads of back to school begin to remind them that in a few short days they will have to hit the books once again instead of the pool. 

For as many kids that complain of short summer breaks, there are as many moms who cheer that school year brings peace and tranquility to their homes, at least after 8 o’clock.

Summer blues is sometimes escaped by heading to the local movie theater because during the summer the movie folks shove out all their best epic films to keep you in the air condition movie theaters.

Although it is getting harder each summer to find extra dollar bills to spend at the show, especially when the tickets, popcorn and a coke could be used to fund a car payment. Too poor to go to the movies, a Redbox and some microwave popcorn may have to do. 

NFL Saints & Titans
As for the Who Dat fans, the summer seems so long. We are anxious for the new year of football to begin and as the long days seem endless before we see our black and gold suit up for their first game we have to bask in the glory days when our guys went to the Super Bowl, a memory that has not faded. Pre-season has begun and the days of summer are dwindling down! Come on boys of fall, let’s hurry to the NFL highlight reels!

Summer blues means there is absolutely nothing on television to watch, because Hollywood actors must take the summer off. I guess the TV producers think everyone else is able to go on holiday for the summer and no one stays home to watch TV series. They must not have humidity in Celebville because many seek shelter indoors during the sweltering July and August heat. Did anyone mention mosquitoes?
Pea Pickin' in the summer

Canoe the Creek

No football, no TV, no escape from bored kids, what can this Mom do? I must sing the Southern Tracy Blues, “Summertime, and the livin’ isn’t easy, kids are jumpin and the temps are high. Hush little baby, don’t you cry!” Sorry Gershwin, but my lyrics are more fitting.

Just a few more days, the blues will go away, and we can begin the countdown of all things autumn. Cause there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues….

Monday, August 5, 2013


My Who Dat dog, Cody
More corruption, More scandal for the Who Dat nation: don’t worry, a New Orleans Saint’s fan can survive.

Will the NFL commissioner throw the book at Drew Brees? Will more disgrace rock the black and gold? Can the Who Dat Nation catch a break?

Again, will we be the ESPN’s running debate for another football season?
New Orleans Saints official photo

So what if A-rod may get suspended from baseball? So what Lance Armstrong cheated with steroids.  So what if Tiger Woods slept around while married? So what if the Patriot’s Hernandez allegedly killed some folks?

So what? Drew Brees tipped $3 on a $74 dollar TAKE OUT order in California!
the dirty.com's tattle tell photo

Yes, you heard it…the latest scandal de jeur for my Saints team has NFL fans across the nation gasping in shock! Breesus has sinned.

Judgment, condemnation, and agony on me!

Will the NFL suspend Brees from leading the New Orleans Saints as star quarterback this year? Will the NyQuil folks fire our Who Dat hero from their commercials?

Will the One Direction pop dude’s ‘one-up’ Drew in their Pepsi advertisement?

Oh, dear, what will the Who Dat Nation do now?

Basically? Yawn.

Celebrating Super Bowl Win!!
I mean, please, we have been through much worse.

However, internet outrage has taken up the tipping scandal charge but faithful Who Dat fans have picked up the gauntlet and have tipped generously in Brees’ name, saying they have Drew Brees’s back!

So, as I investigate this newest impropriety from our dear NFL players, I am forced to address the latest controversy that has hit the proverbial fan.

Takeout orders, tip or no tip?

Being a server, waiter or waitress is really hard work. I have had bad service and tipped lightly, but never have I not tipped. Why? Because, I have been a waitress! But on takeout or drive-thru's? No tipping from me.
MY Who Dat boys

My eldest son works for Outback, and is training for management; he has worked every level of the service industry: the bus boy, the curb side takeout waiter, table server and bar tender, plus he has been a cook in a couple of nice restaurants. He knows the inside and the outside of this industry and as one who makes a living being tipped, he knows how desperate a server is for good tips.

Tips are not bonuses, they are wages.

For some folks, tipping is a representation of your character. For others, they want to be more generous but have tight budgets and stay at the minimum requirement. But most, tip according to service which is a good rule, as long as you start at the suggested minimum amount.

And by requirement, it is not a law of government to tip, but a law of society, it is expected.

All service employees depend on their living from tips and should be expected, and budgeted in your eating experience.

I remember my hard working son complaining that a $100 plus ticket for a meal had an $8 dollar tip which is less than ten percent. At most establishments, up to 3 percent of the cost of the ticket (NOT the tip) goes to bus boys, hosts, bar tenders and etc. That would mean already nearly $3 dollars of the tip is deducted. They were rude, he worked hard but they were drinking.

You should be careful if drinking and tipping, it can go both ways, expensive or cheap.

But what is expected? It is evident that many in our culture are either not sure or just cheap. Ignorance is not an excuse.

Where do you stand?

In this Brees issue, the question we have to decide is, do you tip on takeouts, if so how much, and if you are a millionaire celebrity, what are society’s expectation rules?

The irate finger-pointers cry foul, probably Atlanta fans, but then, they don’t get too worked up over their team enough to be outraged, so it’s the other NFL fans ire that has been erked.

Miss Emily Post has the say for what we, the normal average folks do. Here are some of those Thou Shalt’s of tipping:

  • Restaurant waiters who serve you at a sit-down facility should get 15-20%, before tax tip. To break down those numbers here is a value scale from TripAdvisor.com: 10% means very unhappy, 15% means all was ok, 20% means excellent and 25% equals outstanding! The 15% mark is the norm.
  • Buffet servers, since we do most of the work serving our own overstuffed plates of food, should get 10% of the pre-tax bill. I think most of us just drop a couple of dollars without thinking.
  • For the takeout order, the recommendation is this: “No obligation.” For curb delivery takeout the guide is a 10% tip with more for extra service or large orders.
  • Home delivery such as pizza should be 10-15% of the bill, or $2 - $5 measuring order size and difficulty.
  • Bar tenders should get $1 - $2 per drink or 15 – 20% of the tab. Tipping jars have no obligation and restroom attendants, who kind of creep me out, get .50 - $3. This is dependent on the service which I am still not sure why I need help in the bathroom…yet.
  • Valet attendants, which since I am married I never use one, should get $2- $5 when the car is returned. Check your odometer first which is a vague Bueller reference.

I have a cousin who is raising two children, works at catfish restaurant, kind of out in the woods, and at a table of ten I have witnessed the sacrilege of a $2 tip and a mess of epic proportions and dozens of refilled drink trips. She served the customers well, but because of ignorance or they were just too darn cheap, she has less in her check.

Waiters make below minimum wage, average is $2 an hour.

Who made this an issue anyway? The Dirty.com posted the photos last week, the scandal was born and was played out on ESPN and sports shows across America. Maybe their full name should be the dirty(bird) dot com?

What has been the response?

The manager of the restaurant defended Brees, “If this is an authentic receipt," he said in a statement, "it would indicate that Mr. Brees is a very generous individual, as it would be a takeout receipt ... and takeout orders do not usually garner a tip at our restaurant." He went as far as apologizing to Brees and donated an amount to charity.

Drew Brees, was caught unaware, working out in the gym staring at the sports stations on the television screens dragging his receipt through the mud. 

He responded, “In case anyone still cares about this report: I tipped $3 on a takeout order. Had we sat down it would have been 20% plus.”

Yet, now the offended are saying his financial status requires him to do more.

I remember in the last presidential election, the charitable donations of the candidates did not even make the headlines. One candidate out gave ten to one of his income and yet it did not make a trickle of concern to the masses.

So, here we stand, judging another man’s generosity who gives and sacrifices time and hard earned money (NFL players work really, really hard for the money) not because he gives over and above to worthwhile charities and causes, but because he did not tip enough in a non-obligation tipping situation and that he could have given much more because of the size of his pocket book.

Oh, the agony of being a Saint’s fan.

I expect Sean Payton will be exiled because he was aware of the tipping habits of his star quarterback and did not report it. Mr. Benson, as a writer, I deserve a tip for being a loyal Saint’s fan.
At a Tennessee Titan vs NO Saints game!!!

Today, please be kind, and tip wisely and generously. Plus, Mom’s deserve tips too, if not monetary, with kind words or hugs.

And Who Dat? Who dat say they not going tip?