Teens, When Lying to Your Parents, You Need to Up Your Game

Teens, When Lying to Your Parents, You Need to Up Your Game

[The following true story is based on a time when a good friend of mine’s then 16-year-old daughter tried to wriggle out of several lies she told her parents about a “sleepover” at a friend’s house, which in actuality was a party with several boys and alcohol, while her friend’s parents were out of town for the evening, unaware of what was taking place at their house.]

Hey, teenagers, don’t you hate it when you make up a perfectly good lie to get out of trouble, and your parents refuse to believe you? Well, this just means you need to work on your prevarication skills. Either that, or you could try telling your parents the truth for once. Nah, forget it. That would never work.

Hey, teenagers, don’t you hate it when you make up a perfectly good lie to get out of trouble, and your parents refuse to believe you? Well, this just means you need to work on your prevarication skills. Either that, or you could try telling your parents the truth for once. Nah, forget it. That would never work.

Hey, girl. Wazzup? Sorry to hear your parents busted you over your harmless shindig last weekend at Monica’s house. I can’t believe they completely lost it just because you girls had a few boys join you for your sleepover while her parents were out of town.

You did absolutely nothing wrong – if you overlook the minor fact that you failed to mention that the get-together would include boys… and alcohol… and weed… and cops. It was all just an unfortunate misunderstanding. It could have happened to anybody.

Parents are so lame, right? With all their Nazi rules about showing them respect and cleaning your room and telling you to get off your phone even though you’ve only been on it for an hour and a half, and not letting you do sleepover parties with boys, beer pong, and weed. So unfair, I agree.

Hey, next time you plan to make up a fiction to conceal your plans for an epic underage beer bash, perhaps you should invest a little more time on your fake backstory to avoid getting caught. Let’s go over what happened, and just maybe, we can piece together where your deception went off the rails.

Before you headed out on your weekend of teenage debauchery, I liked the way you chose to compliment your parents, even though they probably found it a bit odd, given it was the first time you had said anything nice to them in ten months. But when you said, “Mom, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you look so pretty,” it might have come off sounding a tad bit more credible had you not told her this while she still had her hair in curlers and her face slathered in Noxzema skin cream. Just saying.

Then, when you were at Monica’s house, remember how your mom texted you, asking for her parents’ names and phone number in case of emergency? I applaud your fast thinking, given that Monica’s parents were in Chicago, 1,800 miles away, with no idea of the party you girls were instigating. But perhaps you shouldn’t have panicked and given your mom the phone number of your friend Chad, who was also at the party.

Who could have possibly foreseen that your mom might then call that very same phone number to ask Monica’s parents if they’d like her to bring a homemade dessert for the sleepover. Imagine your mom’s confusion when Chad, doing his best middle-aged dad impersonation, lowered his voice an octave and replied, “Nah, thanks, girl. But we’re chill. The girls are having a crazy’ lit’ time. Later, gator.”

Then, do you remember what happened when your mom asked Monica’s dad if there would be any alcohol served at this sleepover? Drawing a blank? Let me refresh your memory. Dad, er Chad, explained, “No way, mom. I made sure to lock up all the good stuff in the fridge.” Can you see how that might have elevated your mom’s anxiety ever so slightly?

Do you notice anything missing from this photo of a party of teenagers? If you guessed, “Where are the parents?”, you’re a winner. These underage kids are having a fun time chillaxing with 45 of their closest friends. If you ask me, they’re just having good clean fun – and perhaps just a little too much tequila.

Do you notice anything missing from this photo of a party of teenagers? If you guessed, “Where are the parents?”, you’re a winner. These underage kids are having a fun time chillaxing with 45 of their closest friends. If you ask me, they’re just having good clean fun – and perhaps just a little too much tequila.

Then barely twenty seconds after she got off the phone from Dad/Chad, she called you, remember? She asked you, “How old is Monica’s dad? He sounds rather young.” Then your brain misfired, and you blurted out, “Monica’s dad can’t talk now. He had to go to work.” 

If I have my notes correct, it was around 10:45pm when your mom shocked you by showing up at Monica’s house, because you had forgotten your sleeping bag. Imagine her dismay when she learned that apparently both parents had to leave the house suddenly for work emergencies – and would not, according to you, be home for another two hours.

If you ask me, it is entirely plausible that there might be a work emergency at 10:45pm on a Saturday night – especially for Monica’s dad, who is an accountant, not to mention for her stay-at-home mom. Like you, I would have been furious at your mom for not believing your lies. The fact that she feels she can’t trust you is totally her fault.

That’s about the time when your mom, walking through the front door, noticed that there were six boys on the premises. I think you almost had her convinced when you made up that narrative about how the entire group of them had just stopped by moments before, asking for help with their geometry homework. Too bad your mom could not hear your very believable explanation over the six 16-year-olds boys singing and dancing along to K-pop songs by BTS blaring on the karaoke machine at 160 decibels.

I also have to applaud your quick cerebration when your mom saw the beer keg on the back patio. I’m not sure I would have been as imaginative as you to come up with your almost convincing fabrication that Monica’s dad had bought it for a neighborhood block party later that week. I think your mom would have fallen for it, had it not been for your idiot friend Troy, who unwittingly approached her and said, and I quote, “Hey, you must be Monica’s mom. I thought you were in Chicago. Welcome back. Care for a brewski? Or are you more of a Tequila mom?” I understand now why Troy had to repeat 9th grade.

Where are the parents, you ask? On a weekend visit to Chicago. But don’t worry. Their 16-year-old daughter Monica promised them she’d just have a quiet sleepover with a couple friends. She’ll even vacuum the house. Such a responsible girl.

Where are the parents, you ask? On a weekend visit to Chicago. But don’t worry. Their 16-year-old daughter Monica promised them she’d just have a quiet sleepover with a couple friends. She’ll even vacuum the house. Such a responsible girl.

Still, I bet this would have all blown over, had it not been for the two cop cars that pulled up in response to a neighbor’s complaint about the ruckus. Who knew that police dogs could detect the smell of pot so quickly? Impressive. Too bad your mom didn’t buy your next anecdote about how you had no idea what it was and thought it was some sort of seasoning to add flavor to your salad. A valiant Hail Mary try, girl.

I’m relieved to hear the cops let all of you off with just a warning. But I’m sorry your parents have grounded you for two months. I guess that means you’ll miss the secret rave party at Jessica’s house next weekend – I mean, the all-nighter where just girls will all be working on that science fair team project. I hope your mom changes her mind. You might start by complimenting her on her cooking. Good luck.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021

Welcome to Orca Falls

Welcome to Orca Falls

Welcome to Orca Falls (formerly Stanwood), the happiest town in America. Come for our incredible natural beauty. And if you’re lucky, you just might catch a rare sighting of one of our orcas swimming up our waterfalls, as they do during mating season.

Welcome to Orca Falls (formerly Stanwood), the happiest town in America. Come for our incredible natural beauty. And if you’re lucky, you just might catch a rare sighting of one of our orcas swimming up our waterfalls, as they do during mating season.

I live on Camano Island in Washington state. There are no towns on the island and very few stores. To find a Starbucks, beauty salon, or tattoo parlor, you need to leave the island and head into Stanwood, the closest town. Like so many other small towns, Stanwood has been hit hard by the economic downturn caused by the COVID pandemic.

At the risk of offending the fine people of Stanwood, let’s face it. The town is not exactly a tourist mecca. It’s a hardscrabble, working-class community, whose stores are for the most part utilitarian and uninspiring. “Inviting” is not a word that comes to mind when you think of this place – unless you count Jimmy’s Pizza, which is always inviting – and full. When you think of a struggling small town like Stanwood, what comes to mind? Answer: Boring strip malls, a paucity of nice restaurants, and an unsettling number of “out of business” signs on boarded-up storefronts.

As my several million weekly readers will attest, I’m a humble man who is loath to boast about my impressive achievements. Heck, I never bring up my Nobel Prize unless you forget to ask. But it’s no secret I’m a nationally respected marketing / PR maven (because it says these words right on my business card). So, when Stanwood’s town council recently approached me for advice on how to turn around their flagging economy, I accepted my civic duty to save their town from disaster.

Now for some context. In the first half of the 20th century, there was a town called Leavenworth, nestled in the heart of Washington state’s Cascade Mountains. It was a thriving community with an economy based on logging. But by the 1950’s, the main railway had stopped serving Leavenworth, the logging industry collapsed, and the town came perilously close to bankruptcy. To avoid imminent financial ruin, the town reinvented itself into a Bavarian village, and all retail storefronts adopted a Bavarian theme.

Today it’s a bustling, highly sought-after tourist destination, annually drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors who apparently can’t tell the difference between an authentic Bavarian village and an IHOP restaurant dolled up with a lame Bavarian knock-off façade.

My point is this: What’s good for Leavenworth is great for Stanwood. When I think of the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, two things come to mind: breaching orca (“killer”) whales and craggy snow-capped mountains teeming with waterfalls. Admittedly, you might not think of these two things together, but just go with me, okay?

Ladies and gentlemen, WELCOME TO ORCA FALLS (formerly known as Stanwood). Doesn’t that sound charming? Of course it does. Forget about the Stanwood you thought you knew. It’s time to bring your family – and your credit card – to this heavenly, undiscovered Cascadian paradise we’ve rebranded to avoid foreclosure.

First-time visitors will receive $500 in ORCA BUCKS, which they can redeem at any participating store – sure to be a big hit! [Disclaimer: One Orca Buck = 1/100th of a penny.]

First-time visitors will receive $500 in ORCA BUCKS, which they can redeem at any participating store – sure to be a big hit! [Disclaimer: One Orca Buck = 1/100th of a penny.]

Are there really orca whales in Orca Falls? Technically no, but we’re working on it – just as soon as we can find a way to import 50 trillion tons of salt water – and a few dozen pods of orcas. And what about the towering waterfalls, you ask? Almost. We’re installing them as fast as we can. You’ll just have to visit to see for yourself.

As soon as the town council signs off on my modest $2.5 billion business development plan, before long, people will be flocking here like snow geese. Here are just a few of my brilliant plans for Orca Falls, which I am confident will win approval:

ORCA WORLD:  The largest – and only – amusement park for hundreds of miles, featuring the exhilarating Thunder Falls roller coaster ride and It’s a Small World. (I read that Disneyland is looking for a buyer for that ride). And we haven’t forgotten the kids. Make sure your youngsters get here early to beat the crowds waiting to ride on the backs of playful baby orcas – just be sure they jump off before the whale submerges. We’d hate to see them drown in such a magical setting.

For added fun, park visitors will enjoy imagining the sensation of being a salmon as they attempt to steer a rowboat upstream in the Ragin’ River Rapids ride. They will compete with other guests as they try to avoid being eaten by one of the park’s five adorably rambunctious grizzly bears. Don’t worry, our grizzlies are well-fed and wouldn’t hurt a soul – so long as you don’t make direct eye contact – or smell like salmon.

KILLER WHALE WAY: The town’s main street will be renamed and re-imagined with a fanciful whale theme. Store owners choose which whale image to carve into their storefront – orca, grey, humpback – or for a larger store, I’d go with a blue whale motif (it’s the largest animal on earth). Other storefront façade options include “Shipwrecked”, “Mutiny on the Bounty” and “Captain Crunch.”

Audiophiles will thrill to the soothing recorded sounds of whale clicks, whistles, and mating moans blasted at 150 decibels, sure to make you feel like you’re in the splash zone at Sea World (before they shut down the whale attraction on animal cruelty charges).

Visitors will thrill to the rides and shows at Orca World, where you will see our whales do things you never thought imaginable. [Park opening delayed indefinitely. Check back in summer 2031.]

Visitors will thrill to the rides and shows at Orca World, where you will see our whales do things you never thought imaginable. [Park opening delayed indefinitely. Check back in summer 2031.]

BUBBLES’ BATH: There’ll be no shortage of fun at Orca Falls’ giant public indoor – outdoor wave pool “where kids will have a WHALE of a time!” (I just made that up – that’s called marketing.) Visitors will delight to the hourly “Free Willy” playtime, as killer whales are let loose to mingle joyfully among the unsuspecting swimmers.

I’m confident my scheme will turn the town formerly known as Stanwood into a world class destination – right up there with Monte Carlo or Scranton, PA (another one of my success stories). But in the unlikely event the town council’s members aren’t quite the visionaries that I am, I have a fallback rebranding plan:

Welcome to Eagle Canyon. Come for the Eagles. Stay for our world-famous Eagle Pot Pie.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021

My Cat Zippy’s Tell-All Book

My Cat Zippy’s Tell-All Book

This is my first tell-all book. Spoiler alert: My owner, Tim Jones, is cruel. He never shares his ice cream or caviar with me. And he adopted a mangy cat off the streets without consulting me. He calls him Buddy, yeah, like we’d ever be friends.

This is my first tell-all book. Spoiler alert: My owner, Tim Jones, is cruel. He never shares his ice cream or caviar with me. And he adopted a mangy cat off the streets without consulting me. He calls him Buddy, yeah, like we’d ever be friends.

In these contentious times, it seems like every week there’s another tell-all book promising to reveal shocking secrets of sordid behavior by a politician or celebrity. Being neither a politician nor celebrity, I was taken aback when my cat Zippy jumped on the bandwagon with his own muckraking treatise – all about me! Out of a warped sense of courtesy, his publisher, Random Mouse, sent me an advance copy. It’s full of lies and half-truths. I doubt Zippy penned it himself, given his lack of opposable thumbs. But then, I have noticed him often lurking by my keyboard.

At the risk of letting the cat out of the bag, here are a few startling passages from this disturbing publication. The full title is CATastrophe – An Unflinching Look at the Horrible Cruelty I’ve Had to Endure for Years at the Merciless Paws of My Evil, Heartless Owner, Tim Jones, Who Lives on Camano Island, WA and Who Could Stand to Lose 25 Pounds. If you ask me, that title is overly lengthy. He should have hired a better editor.

Page 13: “I didn’t choose the name ZIPPY. Like most everything else in my life, it was foisted upon me without consultation or consideration of my feline feelings. Why not a dignified moniker such as Buttons or Tigger? But Zippy? What was he thinking? I asked my owner, Tim Jones (if that’s even his real name) why he chose it. Acting like he doesn’t understand Catspeak, he merely gave me a goofy blank stare and patted my belly. I hate it when he does that. I keep telling him to scratch my ears or chin. But no, he always lunges for my ticklish underside. So insidious…”

Page 88: “Then there’s his annoying laser pointer. He’ll move it left and right, up and down, zig-zagging across the room, until I get nauseous. He thinks it’s hilarious to point the red light at a wall and watch me pounce on it. Splat! I’ve repeatedly asked him to cut it out, but he doesn’t utter a word (apparently the cat’s got his tongue). He just grins, like a Cheshire cat, getting some sadistic pleasure from torturing me…” 

Page 147: “Every day, I stare out at the birds hovering around the feeder. There they are, not six feet from me, separated only by a pane of glass. So plump and tasty, especially the chickadees. But Tim refuses me even a feather for a snack. I’ve been drooling for just one tweet – er, treat –  for 35 years (ok, 35 CAT years, but that’s over 1,825 human days!)…” 

Here I am tying my owner’s shoes, using the standard Cat’s Paw knot. Tim gets all hissy when I bite the laces to pull them tight. He just doesn’t appreciate fine craftsmanship.

Here I am tying my owner’s shoes, using the standard Cat’s Paw knot. Tim gets all hissy when I bite the laces to pull them tight. He just doesn’t appreciate fine craftsmanship.

Page 260: “One time when my captor opened the front door, I made a bolt for it. Other cats might be afraid they’d get eaten by a coyote, but not me. I’m no scaredy-cat. Oh to explore the amazing outdoors! My escape would have worked, too, except for one thing: He shook a bag of kitty treats. I am powerless to resist that sound. I froze, turned, and zipped back inside. Hey, maybe that’s where he got my name?  I forfeited my momentary chance at independence for two measly morsels of Friskies bits. In my defense, they were catnip-flavored, so I really had no choice…” 

Page 355: “I don’t understand why my owner never shares his human food. Several times a day, I watch him stuff his pie hole with English Muffins, burgers, ice cream, Cliff bars, you name it. Whatever he wants. But does he offer any of these goodies to man’s best friend? (Sorry dogs, take a number.) Heck no! It’s always the same entrée: dry cat food pellets. What am I, a rabbit? Oh sure, once in awhile he offers me a can of moist food, something called “chicken” or “mariner’s catch”, but I’m pretty sure they’re not serving any of this crap at Benihana’s. Would it kill him to serve me filet mignon once in a while? (Preferably medium rare – I hate when they over-cook it)…” 

Page 499: ”Every few months, Tim does something deeply perverse. He brings home a litter of foster kittens. He claims it’s his mission to socialize them with humans so they will make happier pets for some other family. But I know he has a Machiavellian plan to keep one. Thank God for his wife, who nips that in the derriere. Anyway, while these newborns are nosing in on my turf, guess how much time Tim spends with me. That’s right; Zilch, Nada  – except when, without warning, he hauls me into their room and drops me in the middle of the meowing horde. Next thing you know, five mini furballs are trying to nurse off me. Did I mention I’m a male? But they don’t care. I plan to sue Jones for pain and suffering from all their nasty teeth marks…” 

Page 572: “My owner sometimes forgets that, as a cat, I’m supposed to live life on my terms. I’m related to lions and tigers, so it’s stressful living all my days on couches, beds and windowsills when I’m destined to be free. And then there are all the absurd rules he imposes like, “Don’t eat the flowers” and “Stay out of the washing machine“ and “Stop watching On Demand. That costs me money.” He’s crushing my soul…” 

Here I am with my baby “brother”, Buddy. If I’ve told him once, I’ve told him a thousand times: the salad bowl is mine.

Here I am with my baby “brother”, Buddy. If I’ve told him once, I’ve told him a thousand times: the salad bowl is mine.

Page 691: “For reasons I can’t fathom, he gets a real bug up his butt whenever I pee on the bed. What’s his problem? It’s so demeaning to squat in a pile of sand in the laundry room. I’m pretty sure the ‘wight to wizz wherever I want’ is one of the freedoms specified in the Constitution. I feel so persecuted…”

I’m only about a third of the way through, and apparently it gets worse. I haven’t gotten to the part where he accuses me of profound emotional cruelty for neutering him – or for the time I dressed him up like a ladybug for Halloween. He’s never forgiven me for that.

Zippy never once interviewed me for my take on his lurid accusations. I considered filing a defamation lawsuit, but my attorney said collecting damages from a house cat could be a long shot. So, I just might keep Zippy out of our bedroom for the next two weeks. That will teach him a lesson.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021.

So You’ve Been Asked to Come Back to the Office

So You’ve Been Asked to Come Back to the Office

Welcome back to the office. Your boss is excited to have you here. Don’t worry. You’ll get the hang of it. It will be just like it’s been for the past year – except that you’ll be expected to put in more than 3 hours of work during an 8-hour shift. And you won’t be able to play Minecraft during the weekly staff meeting because your boss will be sitting next to you, now that these sessions are no longer on Zoom.

Welcome back to the office. Your boss is excited to have you here. Don’t worry. You’ll get the hang of it. It will be just like it’s been for the past year – except that you’ll be expected to put in more than 3 hours of work during an 8-hour shift. And you won’t be able to play Minecraft during the weekly staff meeting because your boss will be sitting next to you, now that these sessions are no longer on Zoom.

So you’re going back to work soon, eh? Not to imply that you haven’t been working extremely hard all this time over the past year, your nose to the grindstone three dedicated hours a day (six hours if you count your time playing video games) – ever since you’d been ordered to work from home due to the pandemic. But you just received word that, for the first time in over a year, your employer is asking everybody to report for work at the office.

If you’re like most people, you’re probably greeting this news with mixed emotions. Sure, you’re excited finally to see all your co-workers again. But you’re also wondering if you’ll even remember what they look like. [Hint: they look the same as before – just 35 pounds heavier.]

Having, until recently, worked in a corporate office environment for most of my career, I thought it might be helpful if I reviewed some workplace basics, to prepare you for your transition back to the world of co-workers, company lunchrooms, and office gossip.

First of all, when you enter the office, that slightly annoyingly perky person greeting you is the receptionist. They can help you locate your desk since by now you’ve probably long since forgotten where you used to sit. [Another Hint: It will be in the form of a 5’ x 5’ cubicle with 4’ tall dividers – just like the cubicles everybody else has, except that your desk has been relocated to the basement.]

Feel free to personalize your workspace to capture your own unique style by displaying photos of people you care about, along with fun posters and knickknacks to let people see your fun, quirky spirit – just so long as your photos have been approved by Human Resources, and your cubicle adheres to the company’s new “no posters or knickknacks” policy.

That vaguely familiar plastic device on your desk – the one with a curly cord – is called a desk phone. It works much the same as your cell phone, except that your desk phone can’t check your Facebook feed, or play Angry Birds, or binge-watch Bridgerton. Okay, so it’s essentially useless. But it might make a ringing sound occasionally. If it does, you probably should answer it. It just might be your boss – either that or someone from HR, asking you to take down your Texas Chainsaw Massacre poster (it’s starting to creep people out).

That large white boxy-shaped machine in the hallway where people press buttons and curse at it is called a copier. When you’re in a hurry and you need to make copies of an important document, it will conveniently jam roughly 80% of the way through the run. But don’t worry, with help from three co-workers, you might be able to locate the source of the problem in under a half hour.

Check out your new socially distanced work space. Now you will have more safety and even less privacy than ever before. Your cubicle will look just like this, except that it’s in the basement with a peek-a-boo view of the dumpster.

Check out your new socially distanced work space. Now you will have more safety and even less privacy than ever before. Your cubicle will look just like this, except that it’s in the basement with a peek-a-boo view of the dumpster.

Since it’s been over 12 months since you last had to wear pants for work, let’s go over office attire etiquette. While pajama bottoms technically constitute a form of pants, you may not score points with your manager if you show up in them – unless you choose the PJs covered with images of your cat. It’s adorable. And let’s leave your Seattle Seahawks sweatpants at home too. Looks like they’ve not been washed since their heartbreaking loss to the Patriots in the 2015 Superbowl. (It’s really time to get over it, buddy.)

Personally, I think your bunny slippers are hilarious, but your annoyingly traditional stuffed shirt of a boss might be a stickler for something they call “shoes.”

Also, while this may seem totally unfair, the office expects you there by 8am. Crazy, I know. So, you might want to update your previous routine of waking up at 9:30am if you plan to make it in on time.

When you get to the office, it’s a great idea to re-introduce yourself to your co-workers. It’s been so long, they might not recognize you with your beard and ponytail and the Hello Kitty lower back tattoo you got on a dare that you lost. And when you greet them, smile, and feign interest in their response. Perhaps don’t lead off by saying, “Hey, you looked way slimmer on Zoom than in person.”

When you greet one of your colleagues, for safety’s sake, don’t shake hands. Settle for a friendly elbow bump or an “air” high five – unless the other person is a total jerk and you’ve already been double vaccinated, in which case, go ahead and plant a fat, wet kiss on their cheek. They’ll steer clear of you from now on. However, you may get a visit from that same HR representative who has a thing about ghoulish movie posters. HR reps have no friends.

While the pandemic appears to be in decline, we’re not out of the woods just yet. Be patient. Please continue to wear a mask in the office until you are told otherwise by management. But don’t wear your mask over your eyes as eye shades – especially during the team meeting. It may be your go-to move for your daily 2pm nap, but the corporate policy on napping is a bit less lax back at the office.

When you’re stuck in a meeting you feel is a complete waste of your time, refrain from saying out loud that the presenter is an incompetent idiot and a bore. Your mute button only works in Zoom meetings – not during in-person meetings. I can’t stress this enough.

You will be asked to do your small part to keep COVID away by wiping down your desk, computer, phone, chair and office supplies with an antiseptic cleanser every 45 minutes. Remember to bring a new box of disinfecting wipes to work each day. No, you can’t expense it.

You will be asked to do your small part to keep COVID away by wiping down your desk, computer, phone, chair and office supplies with an antiseptic cleanser every 45 minutes. Remember to bring a new box of disinfecting wipes to work each day. No, you can’t expense it.

Oh, one more thing. See that large room with all the swivel chairs around a large mahogany table? That’s called a conference room. It’s typically going to be used by your boss when they convene a meeting where they will go around the room to scream at each team member about how they are failing to abide by the company’s new “no posters or knickknacks” policy.

Being stuck in a conference room is no fun. But don’t worry. You will only have to attend these meetings for a few weeks – until they realize that the vaccine you got does not protect you against the latest COVID variant and they need to send everybody back home again.

Before you know it, the next spike will hit, and you’ll be back on your couch, in your pajamas and bunny slippers, with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. Good luck beating your high score on Fortnite.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021.

Never Accept a Ride From a Stranger

Never Accept a Ride From a Stranger

When you were young, remember how your parents told you never to get in a car with a strange man? Well, this is the harrowing true story of the time a young, innocent couple accepted a ride from a strange man. And by strange man, I mean ME. A cautionary tale.

When you were young, remember how your parents told you never to get in a car with a strange man? Well, this is the harrowing true story of the time a young, innocent couple accepted a ride from a strange man. And by strange man, I mean ME. A cautionary tale.

They seemed like such a lovely young couple, deeply in love. They had their whole life ahead of them. They were on their honeymoon, without a care in the world. And then, they made a fateful decision that just might change their destiny forever. They did something incredibly reckless and impulsive, as young people are wont to do. They accepted a ride from a complete stranger. I saw the whole thing unfold because, well, um, that stranger was me.

Austin and Ali from Kansas City, KS, were vacationing in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). I now realize that they probably would not like if it I mentioned them by name, so henceforth, I will refer to Austin and Ali as Jeff and Beth from Lawrence, KS, to protect their anonymity. They were on a day trip to an idyllic tropical island called Jost Van Dyke and had taken a taxi ride to a remote beach, where they were frolicking in the ocean waves.

Unfortunately for this innocent couple, there was someone else lurking nearby: ME – and my wife, Michele. It turned out that we had similar plans for today, as we too were on vacation, and we had recently been on our own honeymoon 34 years prior. Like them, we’d heard that the most incredible beach in the entire BVI was on the opposite side of this extremely rugged, mountainous island. Austin and Ali, I mean Jeff and Beth, had just one small problem. They had no car. They would have to call a taxi driver and wait another 30 to 40 minutes to be picked up.

That’s when they made what could only be described as the worst lapse in judgment of their very young marriage, They accepted my offer to drive them to the other beach, The four of us piled into our cramped Suzuki hatchback rental car, whose main power source, I can only surmise, based on this experience, must have been four AA batteries.

This is Ali and Austin, I mean Beth and Jeff, a lovely couple on their honeymoon. Don’t they look sweet? Well, within minutes of this photo, they’d be praying to God to let them survive the ordeal I would soon inflict on them.

This is Ali and Austin, I mean, Beth and Jeff, a lovely couple on their honeymoon. Don’t they look sweet? Well, within minutes of this photo, they’d be praying to God to let them survive the ordeal I would soon inflict on them.

I was the driver, Michele the navigator. A word about roads in BVI. Even the very best of them are bad, filled with potholes, way too narrow, no lane divider markers, and extremely twisty, with lots of blind hairpin turns. And you have to confront all these obstacles while mastering driving on the wrong side of the street. But today, there wasn’t a “best road” in sight. No, we unwittingly embarked on a fool’s errand to test my driving skills on the most grueling road I would ever attempt in my life.

Michele consulted Google Maps on her phone for the quickest way to get across the island to the other beach. Apparently, the app must have thought we were using a helicopter or a zeppelin because the route it selected took us right over the very top of the island. Or perhaps the BVI version of Google Maps was designed by Satan. Because someone was out to get us this day.

I apparently missed the sign that said, “CAUTION: ONLY IDIOTS ARE PERMITTED TO TAKE THIS ROUTE” because within one minute, we had diverged from a paved surface and found ourselves routed to a dirt and gravel path barely wide enough for one vehicle.

I recall distinctly asking Michele, “Are you sure we’re on the right road? This doesn’t look right,” to which she calmly replied, “Yes, I’m sure. Google says this is the most direct route.” And of course, by “direct route,” what Google apparently meant was the most direct route to ensure your imminent death.

Very quickly, I realized we had made a horrible navigational error in choosing to go this way. If this route qualified to be considered “a road”, then having watched two seasons of Grey’s Anatomy qualified me to be “considered” a brain surgeon.

While this is not our vehicle or our road, this is a lot like the road we took, only safer.

While this is not our vehicle or our road, this is a lot like the road we took, only safer.

The trek became steeper and steeper, and narrower and narrower. The cliffs were easy to see because there were no pesky guard rails to block my view of the 1000-foot sheer drop-off. The further we drove, the rougher the terrain got. The boulders got bigger, the ruts deeper, and in many places we were attempting to scale an incline with a 45 degree angle or higher, sometimes transitioning to a switchback requiring us to make a sharp blind hairpin turn while accelerating up a steep uphill.

If there had been someone driving from the other direction, one of us would have had to make the very difficult choice to drive off the cliff, because there was no way we could pass each other on this narrow obstacle course. But I needn’t have worried about the possibility of someone coming at me from the other direction, because there was no way more than one idiot would try to cross this Highway to Hell.

As all our heads jostled up and down uncontrollably with every bump, like cheaply made bobble head dolls, I wondered what Jeff and Beth must have been thinking: “Lord, we will go to church every Sunday for the rest of our lives if you’ll just deliver us from this nightmare” or maybe, “Why did you agree to get a ride from a complete stranger? Maybe he’s a serial killer. Or worse – a Suzuki used car salesman!” 

The further I drove, the worse conditions became, Then I noticed that the pitch of the thoroughfare sloped noticeably to the right, and I had to fight to keep the car from drifting rightward, towards the cliff. Going downhill wasn’t any easier. I kept pumping the brakes over and over, to keep this freight train from barreling off the cliff as I tried to negotiate one 160 degree turn after another. But I stoically kept my fears to myself, so as not to alarm our passengers – except for the four or five brief moments when I came upon yet another gut-wrenching hairpin turn and I blurted out, “HOLY SH*T, WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!”

I’ve been to Italy’s ancient star-crossed city of Pompeii. Two thousand years later, their roads still were in better condition than what I had to contend with. During our nerve-racking ordeal, I was increasingly worried that this might end badly. I had visions of the lead story on CNN the next day: “HONEYMOON COUPLE MURDERED BY TERRORIST SUICIDE DRIVER,” followed by a related story on how Suzuki hatchbacks are not recommended for off-road travel.

Can you find a road in this picture? Neither could we. But this is a photo of the road we took. In many sections it was almost impossible to tell where the road was. This is a “road” my ass, Google!

Can you find a road in this picture? Neither could we. But this is a photo of the road we took. In many sections it was almost impossible to tell where the road was. This is a “road” my ass, Google!

This misguided journey took us over the literal peak of the island, through what was inarguably the most treacherous terrain I had ever attempted. If you could ignore the fact that in minutes we were all most likely going to perish in an agonizing 1000-foot crash, I have to say, the panoramic view from up here was rather magical.

After what felt like three days, but was probably closer to 40 minutes, we reached the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen: a paved street. Somehow I had delivered the newlywed couple to their destination physically in one piece (albeit emotionally in tatters). I thought about asking them for $25 for having provided them with a thrilling memory they would undoubtedly tell their grandkids one day, but Michele thought that would be in poor taste.

Hopefully, someday Jeff and Beth will be able to forgive me for the terrifying experience I put them through. Maybe they’ll even laugh about it. They had to head back home to Kansas the next day. I briefly thought about offering them a lift to the airport. But something told me they’d probably prefer a taxi instead.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021