Eleven taps on the shoulder

Unlike everyone else in America, I don't carry my cell phone with me everywhere, and it's set to "absolute silence" so I don't answer when it rings. I hate phones. I check text and voice messages when it occurs to me, which isn't often, so several hours had gone by before I saw the text messages and emails from my brother Dick.

July 19, 2022

His car had conked out. It was in the shop, he texted, and he was missing work because he had no transportation. He wanted to borrow my car. Get back to me please, he texted, several times. There were also some missed phone calls from him, that presumably would've asked the same question again.

Well, I have an ancient Chevy that sounds awful and needs work, but it runs. It's convenient when I go shopping, and I usually drive to the bus stop when I'm going anywhere cuz it's a long walk.

But, OK, he's my brother and maybe he'd have a crazy long bus ride to his job, so I decided I'd loan him my car for a few days.

Thought I'd eat dinner, then text him and arrange the details, and then drive my car to his house and bus back. He lives in a far-away suburb, so busing back would take an hour.

Ate two frozen hamburgers and drank a lot of Diet fake Dr Pepper, and then I picked up my phone to text him. But I didn't, because a new message from Dick had come in, saying never mind, he'd gotten his car fixed and didn't need mine.

It was a perfect family dilemma, then — I got to consider myself a great guy for coming to the rescue, without having to come to the rescue.

I'm gonna confess to some less-than-heroic thoughts about this, though. Tallying up the missed calls, voice mails, text messages, and emails, Dick electronically tapped me on the shoulder eleven times today, over the course of about four hours. Maybe it's just me hating phones and being a mega-recluse, but eleven seems like a lot, even in a "car emergency."

Also, I'd never ask but Dick has told me what he makes, and it's more than I've made at any job. So how come he never mentioned maybe using a rent-a-dent car for a few days, or any other alternative but me and my Chevy?

And none of his messages mentioned looking into the bus service from his house to his job. The county has pretty good bus service.

Six months ago I lived in Wisconsin, so I wonder whose shoulder he would've tapped eleven times if I wasn't here. I'm filing the whole thing under Hmmm.

Let me tell you about those frozen hamburgers, though. They're a dollar from the dollar store, and not as bad as you'd expect for frozen dollar-store hamburgers. They're not delicious or anything, not half as good as a burger from Mrs Rigby's, but not half the price either. They're definitely better than a basic burger from McDonald's or Jack-in-the-Crack, though, and cheaper, and so damned easy.

Microwave two of 'em for two minutes, and eat a head of celery on the side, and that's dinner. It's becoming a staple of my unhealthy diet.

My flatmate Robert has COVID. Nothing serious, just slight sniffles and shivers, and he was nice enough to knock on my door to tell me. A note might have been preferred.

Everyone in the house is vaccinated and boosted, so none of us have been wearing masks inside, until now. Robert is masked up when he's outside his room, and I guess I'll cover my ugly face in the kitchen and when I'm pooping or peeing. I sure ain't gonna wear a mask in my room, though, and probably won't wear a mask in the shower.

Sneeze at me if I'm mistaken, but my reading of the newspapers is that if you've had your shots, COVID is usually just a minor inconvenience. Robert said he's still playing World of Warcraft in his room all day, and frying potatoes for breakfast and baking a pizza for dinner.

"Eat your whole corn. Crash your whole crop." A homeless guy at Alaska Junction in West Seattle was saying that, over and over, so I jotted it down. It makes no sense to me, but if you hear it 75 times while you're waiting for a bus it starts sounding like country music, something which also makes no sense to me.

Listening to an old-time radio show, I was jolted when they mentioned as a passing plot element that the librarian locked up the branch every night at 10:00. I very vaguely remember libraries with late hours, when I was a youngster. Now, of course, the library opens at 10 in the morning, and closes at 5 in the afternoon, on days when it's open at all.

And now, the news you need, whether you know it or not… 

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How many cops did it take to do nothing during Uvalde school massacre? 

In total, 376 law enforcement officers — a force larger than the garrison that defended the Alamo — descended upon the school in a chaotic, uncoordinated scene that lasted for more than an hour. The group was devoid of clear leadership, basic communications and sufficient urgency to take down the gunman, the report says.

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Will making kids wear transparent backpacks save them from gunmen marching unhindered into schools and slaughtering them? 

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Florida Judge dissolves injunction blocking paper from publishing names of officers who killed a man 

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The vexed question of authorship 

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Jane Avril, "The Strange" poster child of the Moulin Rouge 

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Models in hair pulling match, 1940 

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One-word newscast, because it's the same news every time...

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The End
Claes Oldenburg
Adam Wade
Spider Webb

Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always Stephanie...


  1. >Listening to an old-time radio show, I was jolted when they mentioned as a passing plot element that the librarian locked up the branch every night at 10:00

    Ha, I 100% remember having the same reaction that you did at that episode. Also, lots of all-night drug stores and cafes and such, or hardware stores open until midnight, just in time for a late-night stick-em-up. But Chicago and NYC and LA, where a lot of these shows are set, are different towns than Seattle and Madison and SF.

    1. I do remember when, in Seattle, 7-Eleven was a novelty because they actually stayed open until eleven, when all the other stores locked up at 6 or 8 or *maybe* 9.

  2. Yes you're weird about phones, but to keep calling and texting to ask for a big favor, your brother is crazy.


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