Tuesday, February 23, 2010

23 FEB 10: Two By Two, Buy Two

Happy National Pancake Day to you. International House of Pancakes restaurants are serving FREE short stacks today, in exchange for donations to the Children's Miracle Network. Fund-raising events couldn't come more syrupy than this....

BLOGGER BEGGARS #1-2 (of 2010): As I whacked a racquetball for exercise at Benning Park over the weekend, two boys seeking freebies passed my court. They were on bicycles, but NOT wearing backpacks - so they could have carried only so many cans of beer.

"Do you have any water?" one of the boys asked me.

"Is the recreation center not open?" I answered. On this Sunday afternoon, apparently not. That idea didn't even interest them - as if someone there would ask to use their bikes.

"We'll go to the fire station," one of the boys said. The fire station next to the Frank Chester Recreation Center had only one door partially open -- and besides, doesn't it normally use water from hydrants?

As the boys checked the fire station, I remembered I brought a 20-ounce bottle of water with me to the racquetball court. I also thought of the classic advice: "I was thirsty, and you gave me drink." Pointing them to more abundant sources might be considered a cop out.

After a couple of minutes, the boys rolled their bicycles to the side of the racquetball court and asked for water again. I'm not sure if the fire station was vacant because a crew was working a fire -- or if the firefighters are following the lead of Burger King and charging ten cents a cup.

I picked up the bottle of water and walked outside the court fence to offer it to the boys. Then I had to explain it was for them to drink. I only take one bottle at a time - much as I take only one racket. Some young people over the years have presumed I carry three or four in the trunk, waiting for total strangers to show up for a game.

Both boys sipped a little water. Then one asked for the lid, to take the bottle with them. I probably should have allowed that, since I have several others in the refrigerator at home. But I explained, "I fill the bottles with tap water. It's how I recycle." The mayor of San Francisco should consider that, instead of demanding an outright water bottle ban -- since the water works probably could use the money.

So the boys took turns finishing the bottle of water. But in the process, their need changed. "We need two dollars for soda, so we can get home." The temperature tops 60 degrees F. for two days, and some people think summer has come early....

The boys tried to convince me they'd been on a long bike ride, and needed a cold beverage. "We went all the way over to the flea market." I guess they meant Flea Market City on Victory Drive, about one mile from Benning Park. But they didn't say anything about having to pedal home to Harris County.

Regular blog readers know I try to avoid handing money to beggars. So I offered a compromise. "I have juice boxes in my car...." inside the "beggar bags" I've kept in the trunk for more than a year, waiting for these occasions. The current flavor is "wild cherry," in honor of wild demands for help.

The boys accepted the juice box offer, so I walked to the car and pulled two juice boxes out of the two beggar bags in the trunk. "I keep food and drink in here for occasions like this...."

"You have food in them?!" Me and my big mouth....

"But you didn't ask for that! You asked for something to drink," I quickly responded. The boys took that exactly as I meant it. I also wasn't going to put their bikes in my trunk, and give the boys a free ride home.

The boys accepted juice boxes, thanked me and went on their way. But I marveled a bit, as I returned to the racquetball court. They didn't look old enough to be teenagers, yet they tried to raise the stakes every bit as much as a middle-aged beggar might. Did they learn this method from their parents? Or do memories of Baker Village still linger in young minds?

-> We keep walking into poker rooms on road trips, and walking out with a smile. Read about the latest case at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: A blog reader apparently has been thinking about our Saturday topic, while driving downtown....

Hello Richard. I was traveling along Veteran's Parkway last evening in the direction of The Civic Center and was puzzled by a sign that read, "Begin Road Construction." Does that mean that progress has begun for road improvement or does a former Prime Minister of Israel have family in the road construction business? Just askin'.

As for the picture of Jesus on the door of a Columbus business possibly being used as a scare tactic, it reminds me of the burglar that broke into the elderly lady's home and was searching around for items to steal when the home's tenant suddenly told him, "Jesus is watching you." He paid no attention to her and continued to unload the silverware drawer when again the little old lady says, "Jesus is watching you." Somewhat perturbed by this he snapped back, "Look lady, I am not worried about whether Jesus is watching me and if he is here, then where is he?" She pointed to the corner behind the robber where a very large Doberman was quietly staring at the thief and the lady said, "Get him Jesus!"

I heard a similar story about that dog years ago, from Atlanta jazz radio host H. Johnson. And we mentioned the Veterans Parkway Streetscape work two months ago [18 Dec 09] -- with median work starting in some blocks. If the sign said, "Start Road Construction," I fear a few people still would pull over and get shovels out of their trunks.

And a future Columbus Council candidate mentioned here Sunday would like to offer a correction:

Whoops. Sorry Richard. Sorry Red. Bad wording. I meant to say Consolidation. Thanks and Have a Great Weekend.

Jeremy S Hobbs

So we're all clear: Red McDaniel has NOT served on Columbus Council since reconstruction. I think that milestone only applies to Juvenile Court Judge Aaron Cohn.

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: Our next scheduled post will come Thursday, and is scheduled to include a TSYS update.)

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