My first job earning a paycheck introduced me to a much wider variety of people than I had experienced before including, unfortunately, The Poop Fiend. I was 14 years old and was hired to help out after school and on weekends at a Vickers gas station on a main road just a few blocks from my home, which lasted about six months. Two other guys worked at the station; Charlie, an older man with a great sense of humor who liked to recite dirty poetry, and Mike, a young guy who was pretty serious and liked to tell me stories, usually involving his sex life. My job included all the menial tasks such as sweeping the station and parking lot, stocking the coolers, cleaning the bathroom, and so on. If it got real busy Charlie or Mike would call me back behind the counter to help operate the pumps and wait on customers. I enjoyed the job and really liked getting a paycheck, until that fateful day when I went into the mens room to give it a quick clean. What was supposed to go into the toilet was smeared everywhere; on the walls, the toilet seat and handle, the sink and handles and the mirror. Mike was furious, but since it was “my department” I alone had to clean it up. Thinking that was the worst that could ever happen to me on the job I shook it off, until it happened again, and again. Mike was obsessed with catching this poop fiend, for which I was glad, but it was taking longer than I had hoped. Somehow Mike had gotten the idea that it was a boy who lived in the neighborhood. We could see his house on the hill from the gas station, and Mike kept an eye on it until one day he spotted the kid walking down the hill towards the station. When the kid entered the mens room Mike grabbed a full size ax I had never noticed before and headed to that side of the station, telling me to stay inside. The next thing I saw was the kid running and screaming through the parking lot with Mike close behind, holding the ax over his head. In his terror the kid tripped and fell, rolling onto his back as the ax came down next to his head, embedding in the hot asphalt. The fiend wet his pants before getting up crying and running for home. We never heard from him, his parents or the police, or saw his handiwork again. Case solved!
A few days ago while walking down the driveway to get the mail (in the country most everyone has a mailbox at the road) I stopped to look at some of the lilac bushes that run along the front of our property. Over the years I have noticed that the buds of many trees and bushes start to grow during February, and our lilacs are full of big ones waiting for the command to open up. After months of snow and cold, seeing those large buds brought a smile to my face. Finally, some proof that the snow and ice and cold that surrounds us will not remain forever. After over a year of living in this part of Iowa it has become very apparent why there are so many wind farms dotting the landscape here and there. The last little snow storm that came through a few days ago dropped less than an inch of snow but the wind blew so fiercely that it created drifts here and there around the place over two feet high. Our two dogs, Marley and Steve, have discovered an outdoor snack of almost unlimited supply, namely rabbit poop. They sniff along with their noses down, eating the little pellets as they go. We have called them off, only for them to give us hurt looks then sneak off to an area of the property where we can’t see them to continue the feast. If only the rabbits would clean up after the dogs we would have a nice little system operating out here.
When my kids were preparing for college one of the sites we used was Fastweb, to look for scholarships. From their About page: “For over 25 years, we have worked to help students discover scholarships that are targeted to their strengths, interests and skills. We also assist students in discovering the right college for their budget, making tough financial aid decisions and finding internship opportunities that will help them bridge the divide between college and post-graduate life. Finally, we give students the option to pay for college with part-time jobs by offering part time job search and advice.” If you or someone you know has college looming in the near future take the time to check out this very helpful site.