Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

Killer Instinct

Until now it has only been a fleeting shadow living in the edge of the lights cast by the Love Boat. (A term we have given our back porch, since it is lit up like the deck of a cruise ship.) We’d seen it occasionally darting in and out of the chicken shack, sneaking food and water before returning to its home, which was a burrowed out hole leading under the concrete step off the back of the garage. I’d held to the belief that it was a rabbit, and we were providing safe haven for a growing family of cute little bunnies.

The hole grew bigger, yet we were not blessed with the joy of baby bunnies running around the backyard. But we saw the shadow more often under the safe cover of darkness at night. It grew bolder and came closer to the Love Boat when we were relaxing. Then our tomatoes began to disappear, and I found half-eaten tomato carcasses at the mouth of the hole. This unwanted guest began to dominate our discussions, and unable to sustain the burden of curiosity any more, we decided on a plan of action. We would flood the hole and see what came out.

It was a rat. A very big, very wet, rat. Robert saw it in it’s entirety, I rushed to the window just in time to see it’s skinny little tail as it ran back into its flooded home. All I could think about was the cartoon version of rats—any rats. Glowing red eyes, long sharp fangs, hissing and generally looking for trouble. The rat clearly had to go. We could not cohabitate. We hatched a plan to pour a bag of concrete down into the wet hole and seal its destiny forever.

We couldn’t quite bring ourselves to do that immediately, I don’t know why. I have no problem catching mice in traps, but suddenly the thought of taking a life wasn’t so easy. We debated a new plan of action, which included setting a live trap to see if we could get it to give up peacefully. We loaded it with cheese and pepperoni, and hoped it would do the right thing.

The trap was empty the next morning as I headed out for Longmont, via public transit. I had mixed emotions about the rat as I sat waiting for my bus in Union Station. I was relieved to not have seen the rat, as the thought of it just creeps me out. But I was also disappointed, as I knew the absence of the rat’s voluntary surrender, forced the showdown closer to a deadly conclusion. I don’t know why I was suddenly worried about killing a rat. I was raised in the country and death of rodents and animals were not uncommon events, and I certainly didn’t have any feelings of affection for the rat.

Conflicted, I sat in the station and watched the people go by. I distracted myself by focusing on the sounds of the station, specifically those of footsteps. I tried to guess who was passing from behind before I saw them, based on their footfalls. There was the click click of high heels, the clomp clomp of work boots, and the occasional squeaky loafer.

I heard small footsteps approaching from behind, and guessed it must be a child, which is always a pleasure in the station because of their joy and wonder of trains and buses. I waited for the child to come into sight, and when it walked past me so I could see it, I couldn’t believe what I saw. I honestly thought for a moment I had experienced a psychotic break, or a stroke, or just lost my mind.

The owner of the small steps was a woman, about five feet tall. She wore  hard-soled boots and was taking tiny steps, almost like a shuffle. She clutched a yellow stuffed bird to her chest, and she was wearing a full, furry, one-pieced rat outfit. Yup. A rat outfit. The legs of her onesie were tucked into her boots, and there was a tail dangling from her bottom. The gray fur covered her chest and ended with a hood, topped with ears. She quickly shuffled, or scurried, across the terminal and stopped to look at a schedule. A moment later she scurried back across the terminal and checked out another schedule. She scurried her way down the terminal as I stared in disbelief.

I wanted to shake my head to get the picture out of my mind, but was afraid if I’d had a stroke shaking might make the damage worse. I just watched her. What was the universe telling me? Was this really happening? What the hell?

I guess I’ve seen stranger things in downtown Denver, but really? A rat?

I decided then and there that our rat could stay for a few more days. We would bait the trap with tastier treats, and I vowed to find a way to get it to leave peacefully. Clearly my killer instincts were not strong, and I wasn’t prepared to take a chance on doing something I would regret. So, as of this writing, the rat lives.

P.S. Turns out there is a sexual fetish genre called “Furries,” where people dress in full animal costumes for physical gratification.Hmmm…

 

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September 21, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Convenient Update

I must admit Robert and I had a wonderful time at the Little Big Town concert. From the minute we hit the gates at the opening of the facility, the people  working the venue were incredibly nice. It started with our first line, where everyone was being wanded with a metal detector. All of the workers were well into middle-aged, with some teetering on the edge of old. An elderly gent was standing at the end of the line of gates, and with nobody bothering to venture all the way down, he was obviously feeling useless. He jumped up and down, waving his arms and wand, and shouted “pick me, pick me!” Of course we went through his line.

We passed the wanding and advanced ten feet to the next person, who cheerfully asked how we were doing.

Good. We’ve never done this before, so I hope it works,” Robert stated, as he handed over his phone.

That’s why I’m here.” The woman said nicely. “I’ll make sure it all goes smoothly.” She tapped his phone to her machine, and it spit out two tickets, which she handed to us with a smile.

There, that was pretty painless, wasn’t it?” Her sidekick said to me. I had to admit it was, and some of my previous anger started to seem a bit silly.

We advanced to the next person, about ten feet ahead again, and they took our tickets and granted us access to the venue. It was a typical country concert, with lots of boots, denim, plaid and beer. The evening was really cold, with a wind that made it worse, and I watched as many of the young women pranced around in short-shorts, skimpy tank-tops, cowboy boots and goosebumps. It is times like these that I am glad to be middle-aged, as we were all covered in boots, jeans and bulky sweaters.

We circled the stadium, got dinner and a beer, found our seats and enjoyed the first act. We headed to the restroom along with everyone else as stagehands went to work to prepare the stage for Little Big Town. We had eaten in a bar earlier, and I smartly directed Robert back to the bar, as I had noticed bathrooms near the rear, and was pretty sure they wouldn’t be as crowded as the general restrooms. I was mostly right, but there was still a line when we arrived.

There was one closed door with a sign for both a male and a female bathroom on it. Having been in the bathroom already, I inquired from those at the front of the line if they knew there were two bathrooms in there, and if they were both in use. Being women, being country and being a little bit tipsy, the ladies at the front of the line threw open the door and marched into the small hallway to investigate. The remaining ladies spilled into the newly opened hallway, forming a line that went down the hall to the men’s room and back along the other wall to the ladies room. Word from the front was that there was both a urinal and a stall in the men’s room. A cry went up as the first woman in line headed for the men’s room. A man came out of the bathroom with a shocked look on his face, head down and hustling through the line of ladies.

Robert was the next male in line. The ladies were getting restless and a little bit crazy, and as Robert headed through the gauntlet, the ladies demanded payment for entrance.

Dance. Dance. Dance.” They chanted as Robert advanced.

And I am very proud to say, that not only did Robert dance his way through the line, he shook his money-maker so hard there was whooping and hollering heard all through the stadium. That’s my man!

While the $11.20 convenience fee still annoys me, watching Robert dance his way to king of the restroom was priceless.

September 14, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Convenience my A**

I begrudgingly admit that technology has made a few things in my life easier. Specifically, I no longer have to pick up the phone, dial the number to my bank, then enter my twelve digit account number to get my balance. I simply pull it up online.

And over the past two days I have learned about this thing called a “convenience” fee, which implies our lives will be easier because of it. Or so I thought.

So years ago, if I wanted to attend a concert I was forced to leave my home and go to the local Smithtix, which was the service center at Smith’s grocery store, which here in Denver is King Soopers. If the ticket cost $30, I gave them $30. I took the tickets home and put them someplace safe until the night of the concert.

If it was a band I really liked, and wanted great seats, I could suffer the inconvenience of lining up at the record store at midnight the day the tickets went on sale. It was brutal standing in line with other fans, usually the band’s music blasting from a number of boom boxes. Eating and dancing and chatting about how exciting the concert would be. Oh, the horrible experience and inconvenience.

Then there was the worst possible inconvenience. I would be sitting home with a full weekend of boredom planned. Nothing to do and no money to spend. When horror of horrors, a friend would call. “My wife/husband/kid is sick and I can’t go to this concert. Do you want the tickets?” It was so inconvenient to drive over to their house and pick up the tickets.

Those days are gone now though, thanks to the concept that computers are the easiest way to do things. Here I must apologize for the length and detail of this post, but I want to make sure  every single establishment that has made my life “convenient” over the last two days gets their due recognition. So here we go.

Robert and I decided to go to the Luke Bryan concert at Dicks Sporting Goods Park. We’re not really Luke Bryan fans, but we are Little Big Town fans and they are his guests. So I go to the Dicks Sporting Goods Park website. Click on tickets. Purchase. So far pretty convenient. I am redirected to a web page for Altitude Tickets, and see that each ticket, which costs $39.50, will be assessed an $11.20 “convenience fee.” Oh hell no. I search the website for box office information, hoping I might just go down and pick some up after work. This is verbatim what I found.

“Tickets may be purchased for all events at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park through Altitude Tickets. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Box Office, by calling Altitude Tickets at 1.866.461.6556, or by visiting AltitudeTickets.com.”

Tickets can NOT actually be purchased in person. I could however buy the tickets online, and pick them up in person at the will call booth, for a small fee of $25. I carried on through the website, resigned to paying the $11.20 fee.

Turns out I had exactly three minutes to complete this transaction before the computer signed me out. This process involved answering two questions to prove I wasn’t a robot. Then entering all my personal information, then all of the credit card information and three more personal security questions. I failed miserably. Twice. Even with Robert sitting next to me and prompting me as we went, there was no possible way we could get it done in three minutes.

We realized that in order to get our tickets, Altitude was forcing us to a website called Flash Seats. So, being the relatively smart people we are, we venture into the Flash Seats website and created an account there. Then went back to Altitude and started the process all over again. Finally success!

The emails started pouring in that we now had an account with Altitude, and Flash Seats, and we had purchased tickets. And both sites had all of our personal and credit card information. None of the emails gave us an option to print our tickets. Finally we found in small writing that we now had to download the Flash Seats app on Robert’s phone in order to have access to our tickets. We followed the link they sent us, and could see our account and that we had purchased the tickets, but no bar code or option to print tickets.

Exhausted and frustrated, we went to bed. I wrote down three service numbers, a physical address and several confirmation numbers, and assured Robert I would return at the end of the day with tickets in hand.

I will spare you the gory details of my multiple calls to service centers. The end result was this: we either download the app and hope our phone has service at the venue, or bring the credit card we bought them with to be swiped, yet again, at the venue, or pay the $25 and pick them up at Will Call. There was absolutely, positively no way to print tickets. Simply couldn’t be done they said.

I get home and deliver the news to Robert, who is holding two pages of printed material explaining how and where to park, how to get there, and how if we use our new accounts we get $5 off on parking. But nowhere could they have printed a freakin’ little barcode for us to get in. And there was no sign of the app we thought we downloaded.

We clearly needed vodka.  Several drinks later and unsure if we had downloaded the app, I did find a details screen about the Flash Seats service we had been forced to sign up for. There were pages and pages of how to bid on tickets, buy tickets, trade tickets, transfer tickets, search for tickets, and confirmation that no tickets were refundable, however we could certainly give the tickets to someone else, after, of course, they sign up for the service, download the app and for a fee. Finally, ten pages down,  I found how to use our tickets at the venue.

So after more than two hours of work online and on the phone, this is what the convenience fee has gotten us: We arrive at the venue, look for the line that says Flash Seats. Show our phone, credit card and ID to whoever. After they have verified that we are indeed the people who purchased the tickets, they will reach down to their little portable machine and guess what?

They will spit out two ticket stubs for us.

Which we will then take to an usher and be shown to our seats.

Convenience my ASS!

 

 

 

 

September 9, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bus Family II

Bus Family II

The O bus is always full of characters. It travels the length of Broadway, which is a major North/South road that runs from downtown to Highlands Ranch, and is full of Mom and Pop stores, bars, restaurants, antique stores and marijuana dispensaries.

I was on the last leg of my journey home, and watched as the regulars boarded the O at the Englewood station. First came the young man I call the Thug. He’s about 25 and wears baggy shorts, a funky ball cap askew on his head and walks the gangsta walk. Actually he has a legitimate reason for the walk, since he wears a knee brace that actually hinders his stride.

Next came a middle-aged man who walks with a cane. I call him Grimace, because he always has a look of pain on his face. I can’t tell if he’s genuinely in pain or just has a scowl about him. They both took a seat at the front of the bus.

Then Construction Guy got on the bus. He’s tall and about my age, and always has his orange construction vest on, shorts and dirty work boots that come just high enough up his ankles to allow room for his electronic monitoring anklet. He never smiles or acknowledges anyone when he gets on, and heads directly to the back of the bus.

We all settled into our usual seats, and politely ignored each other. A few stops down the road a young man got on, early twenties I’d say, and very, very buff. The kind of buff that not only shows muscles, but muscles on top of those muscles. He was carrying a case of water and as the bus began to move he grabbed onto the bar by the front seats, dropping his water and bumping into Grimace. He didn’t apologize, and as the bus went down the road he opted to keep standing right in front of Grimace, periodically bumping his legs. Grimace finally asked him to take a seat, and the young man bent down and got right in his face and placed one finger in front of his lips and made the “Shhhhhh…” motion to Grimace.

The thug sat up a little straighter and Grimace’s eyes squinted. I could feel the level of testosterone quickly rising. Grimace stared at Buff Guy, and the driver encouraged him to sit down. Without breaking eye contact, he took the seat across from Grimace, and again made the “shhhh..” motion. I was already sitting two rows back from the two, but at this point two other women sitting in the front got up and moved to the back, and a couple with a young child got off at the next stop. I checked both of them out to see if there was any sign of a gun, and was pretty sure they didn’t have one, so I rode it out.

The tension continued for another couple of stops, then Grimace pulled the cord signaling he needed the next stop. As soon as he pulled the cord, Buff Guy stood up as if he were also exiting the bus, and stood in front of the door waiting to get off. But when the bus stopped and Grimace got up to leave, Buff Guy just stood in front of the doorway, blocking his exit. Of course Grimace just pushed into him, trying to force him down the stairs of the bus. Buff Guy braced himself and didn’t budge. The Thug got up and threw his weight into Buff Guy as well, and a full on scuffle began. Buff Guy against the two handicapped men.

The bus driver stood up to help, and suddenly Construction Guy came running from the back of the bus to offer his assistance. He realized Buff Guy couldn’t be reached from there, so he came to the back door of the bus and got off, then went around to the front and pulled Buff Guy down the stairs and out of the bus. Of course Buff Guy tried to run back onto the bus, and as Grimace and the Thug made it off the bus, it looked as if they were going to go to blows.

But the bus driver and Construction Guy held them apart, and the driver pointed out that Buff Guy probably didn’t want to go to jail for assaulting two guys with handicaps. Buff Guy argued, but Construction Guy got in his face and reinforced the bus driver’s sentiment. “They’re handicapped for hell’s sake! He wears a cane and he has a leg brace!” That seemed to snap Buff Guy out of it a bit, and reluctantly he hung his head and got back onto the bus. The driver and Construction Guy made sure Grimace and the Thug were okay, then they got back on the bus. Construction Guy sat next to Buff Guy and made sure he minded his manners until he got off the bus a few stops down.

We all breathed a sigh of relief when he left, and the bus driver apologized to us ladies for having had to see such a spectacle. I don’t understand male ways, but it seemed to me that this group had created the best possible outcome for this situation.

So here’s the kicker. Buff Guy was wearing a T-shirt from some anti-violence youth campaign with a slogan printed on the back.

Hearts not Hands. Make good choices.”

Hmmm….

September 3, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments