Greenville

Sarcasm Unnecessary

Sometimes I feel my spiritual gift, although it does not appear in the Bible, is sarcasm. I fight it with my students, my politics, and myself. But this morning was one of those mornings when everywhere I went, people were pleasant, efficient, and friendly. Here's the most amazing part - two of my stops included the Department of Motor Vehicles. F262-large

First thing this morning, I headed out to transfer ownership to us of an often-used Mazda pickup truck with 176,000 miles on it that we intend to use for gardening and minor hauling. I had to go pay taxes at one location, then go on to another location to get my new license plate. At the County Tax Office, I was the third person there and was gone in five minutes. Five minutes! And the lady I communicated with was smiling and wished me a nice day. I am serious. Then I trekked over to the DVM office to get my new license plate. It was crowded as usual, but efficiently run, and the lady I worked with there was smiling and courteous and patient, even though I'd made a minor mistake on the paperwork (I had designated myself as "Thor" and my long-suffering wife {LSW} as "Venus" - just kidding). So from the time I entered the congested offices until I left, a total of only 40 minutes had gone by, and that passed swiftly as I people-watched. I had expected to be tied up there most of the morning. I left feeling chipper about my fellow man.

Next I went to the recycling bins to get rid of cardboard boxes, and that area was clean and maintained with plenty of room for my cardboard. Next door was a supermarket where I FAXed a Letter of Recommendation for a friend of mine headed for grad school. The people at the supermarket were downright cheerful, efficient, and accommodating. Next I dropped off books and DVDs at the library - again, more of the same kind of people. I felt sick to my stomach. Something was definitely wrong. My final stop was at the vet's offices to pick up routine meds for our yellow tabby cat, Beeker, and to make an appointment for his annual checkup. Again, happy people who seemed to enjoy their jobs.

It was a fine and glorious morning, I tell you, one in which I felt renewed faith in my fellow human beings in a beautiful part of the Upstate of South Carolina. And, I was home by noon and greeted with a kiss from my LSW. Talk about a blessed guy.

Seasonal Shopping Disorder

christmas-shopping I'm afraid the main reason for the season around the end of December is, for many people, shopping. We're all familiar with people being stomped to death fighting over bargains, shoppers shattering glass doors of Big Box stores to beat each other to sale items, lunatics camping out for days in line in order to seize good deals ahead of anyone else. These behaviors call for a Three Stooges group slap to bring them back to their senses.

I do not engage in such activities. I DO shop, and I'm good at it. For example, when my niece was getting married a while back, down in Florida, it was decided I needed to buy a suit. I used to have a couple-three suits. Back in high school, where I played basketball (and the older I get the better I was), I had two 3-piece suits available for road trips, where we had a suit-and-tie dress code. But I didn't shop for them. My mother did. And they fit.

So, with a wedding looming and pressure to suit up, I went shopping. By myself. I forget the name of the store, but it was a big store, a chain, and it had men's clothing. Seven minutes after entering the store I was leaving with my suit. And it fit. I had gone directly to the "Men's Clothing" department, found a conservative dark gray suit with light, narrow pinstripes, and bought it. On sale, a detail I didn't know until I paid the cashier. Truth is, it would have been a "5-Minute Suit" except that I tried on the jacket still wearing my sweatshirt, which made it a little snug. But an astute sales lady suggested I try the jacket on without the sweatshirt. Perfect. And I was on my way. Today, the "7-Minute Suit" is a quirky part of family lore.

At Christmas time, I enjoy giving gifts. But my long-suffering wife buys the gifts for our daughters, so that frees me up to shop for her. Sometimes our younger daughter feeds me info-tips on what my bride might like, data acquired over the previous year while they were hanging out. This year, a few days before Christmas, I went shopping downtown (I hate malls). It took forever to purchase my beloved's gifts. Fifteen minutes. One store. So, what did I buy her? Well, three gifts, actually - an article of clothing, a scarf accessory, and earrings - all coordinated aesthetically into one stylish fashion statement. She was genuinely pleased.

And the article of clothing fit. Some of us have the gift, others not so much.

Socially Signing Signs of Struggle

Fiction Addiction

There's an enormous, hugely-exciting, and breathtaking social EVENT taking place this Saturday afternoon in Greenville, South Carolina, from 4-6 PM at Fiction Addiction, the best bookstore east of the Mississippi River. And, in a moment of shameful self-promotion, I must admit that it's a Launch Party for my debut novel, Signs of Struggle. Copies of the book will be available for signing, and not only that, but there will be free refreshments, ranging from cake to punch to veggie trays to hot cider. Conversation is free, of course.

So come on by Fiction Addiction (which has launched other authors' novels, including Moby Dick, Last of the Mohicans, True Grit, and The Old Man and the Sea) at 1175 Woods Crossing Road, Suite 5, Greenville, South Carolina 29607. Your GPS will get you there unless, like ours, it occasionally breaks into Mandarin Chinese. Or you can Google "Fiction Addiction" and get directions from their website.

In any case, I would be delighted to see you and sign your copy of Signs of Struggle. Blessings!