Unraveling while traveling; life between the windshield and the rear-view mirror

Dial (800) 439-2466

Everyday, the seven deadly sins lead to unhappiness.

The dark side.

Life noir.

Imagine a hard-boiled cynic in a bleak sleazy setting.

Not being a Bible reader, in spite of its popularity, my day ends with the bridge column.  Too, as a practicing non-Catholic, sidestepping the altar of misbids and poor defense, is a free pass from purgatory.  Where the high priest of Hail Marys issues a thousand yarboroughs, hands in bridge or whist containing no ace and no card higher than a nine.

….the Church of the Painful Truth.

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The sin list, (7 ?), I plead guilty to wrath and lust, i.e., getting very snotty when being dismissed by attractive ♀♀.

The costliest sin, please, bear witness as I enter the confessional; GREED.

Late winter, 1969, reviving a Mom&Pop drugstore from imminent failure, business began an upward tangent.  The regional expansion, visiting physician offices during the few off hours, I learned that many offices resisted calling any pharmacy “long distance”.  Recalling, phone in prescriptions incurred a 25¢ charge …. a 5% expense, when an office visit with a patient then, $5.

A popular Niles, MI doctor, John Bruni MD, complained that calling patient prescriptions to us had cost him $1.75 in a single month, the = of two BigMacs and a supersize order of fries.

846-02796915 © ClassicStock / Masterfile Model Release: Yes Property Release: No 1950s 1960s MOTHER DAUGHTER COUNTER PHARMACY PHARMACIST BEHIND COUNTER SHELVES STOCKED ASPIRIN PRODUCTS MEDICINE

MOTHER-DAUGHTER; PHARMACIST BEHIND COUNTER

Willing to absorb the cost, I requested the newest strategy, a 1-800 toll free line from ATT, the sole monopoly. Offered a choice of numbers, I chose 1-800-439-2466. Why…?…because the last seven digits spelled HEXAGON.  Readers might recognize that as the six sided benzene ring, core of all organic chemistry, the pride of pharmacy students and vegetarians.chemistry-2938901__480  What could be better, easy to advertise and remember, for a failed English major, I felt quite clever. Plus, I turned down 800-244-5375 which translated to (800) BIGJERK.

images-1It worked.  That 4th line started slowly but soon rang, sometimes off-the-hook.  Yes, regional medical offices galore, but often insurance salesmen, stockbrokers, sweepstakes, roofing, siding, and the sheriff’s auxilary extorting donations.  Or else.

Guilt by benevolence must be in the Bible.

Somewhere.

The formula depicted above, adrenaline, the active component in the now infamous Epi-Pen®, a timely need if you encounter an anaphylactic reaction to nuts.  If you already knew that, stop, become a Jeopardy® contestant.  Now.

Possessing a 1-800 number became the fashion.  As the numbers available began to diminish, the value increased. Historical footnote : prefixes 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, 833 had not yet been imagined. Now we were the cat’s meow.  Today equal to the cutting edge.

A vanity plate in the world of commerce.

Then, a call, Oct. 21, during the 1st Reagan administration, a Wednesday, late, after closing,screw-1924174__480

“Hello, I’m Bill, calling from Cleveland OH, are you the owner ?

“…yes.”

“Just a chat. I’m president of Hexagon Industries, manufacturer of hex bolts.  I’m intrigued by your telephone number, as it could really benefit our business.  Would you be willing to relinquish 4392466?”

” Umm, hem, uh haw, it’s really quite an asset, we’ve spent years promoting it, at great personal cost, eight dollars a month, effort, huge effort, yada yada, priceless, yada, blah, blah”

” I fully understand, but if, say, $5000 is enough to change your mind, could you call me back ?”

” Yeah, yeah, sure, but not likely…thanks for calling”

That night, my 1st wife’s 39th birthday, I hadn’t even brought home an outdated Whitman Sampler®. 302211719898_1

Money was tight.  But greedy me, I’m walking on air. I’ve got this chump by the testicles…if he’d offer a lousy $5K, why not $10K ?

Let him hang in the wind, like a palm tree swaying in a typhoon, wait a year or two, glued to his phone, anticipating a positive response from this pharmacist, self-supposed pillar in his community, a member of the most trusted profession……ahaaa..!…not a chance, I’ll go for the gullet, $10K or no dice.

Yes, greed, like all sins, has hindsight. It taught me that class and humility mean far more than money or possession. Class would have been to offer the number, for nothing, an extension of good will, and invite him to visit South Bend if he ever headed west.  That would be a remembrance, forever, and I wouldn’t be writing this column.

I did call, a year later, and he was delighted.  Good news.  The government antitrust case against ATT was moving forward and he was offered the same number, at no charge, with an (888) prefix. “My sincere thanks that you didn’t take the bait”.

It was too late, too hollow, too late, too shallow to offer now. Too late to turn a wrong into a right….I’ve regretted it ever since.

My ex, a lovely woman, will turn 78 on October 21, 2019. She remarried.  Her second husband,  much better than the 1st.

Stay tuned…it gets worse.

Out of curiousity, tonight I dialed the number (800) Hexagon.

A recording asked if I was over 50 y/o; press 1 for yes, or 2 for no.

I pressed 2, so add lying to that list of sins.

 

insightout©2019

 

 

 

 

Call me…….Fred

−A cold morning, Saturday, 24Feb1973, Worthington, OH just north of Columbus, and the salesman, one Red Skinner, delivers.  Chocolate covered strawberries, helium filled balloon, singing telegram…none of the above.

It’s a car, a modest 4 door, entry level sedan, brand new, 4 cylinder diesel from dealer Ed Potter’s Mercedes Benz-Renault.  A surprise gift to one Frederick Ray, on his 50th birthday, special order from his wife, Dorothy (‘Dot’).

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Fred, a civil engineer/bridge builder/shade tree mechanic, admired German cars, and this beauty, in his favorite color, Db 430 Harvest Beige, was identical to the VW Beetle in their garage.  A ‘plain Jane’ to some, the Rays adored the match and vowed to save the 220D for special occasions.

220D 1973 msrp

As a childless couple, Fred enjoyed his garage time, the maintenance and care of the Benz was a passion, as he meticulously archived handwritten notes.   Noted too by a young neighborhood kid,  Jonathan Karnes, who visited often.  Fast friends, yes, but a metamorphic, surrogate grandfather/grandson bond emerged.

Dot’s odometer ended in 2003, mileage on the Benz, 26,576.  Rarely driven, Fred, too, passed away in 2013, age 90, mileage 27,003. The estate directed Jonathan inherit the car, although now grown, attending medical school, soon to be a 4/yr resident in orthopedic surgery, Morgantown, WV.  By necessity the car slumbered, as Jon, married, with small children, the chief resident accepted a post doctoral year in spinal surgery in Madison, WI.  The time had come to sever the umbilicus, an early 30’s physician with career and responsibility, surrounded by objects from Hasbro®, Fisher-Price®, and Tonka® in the crosshairs….the sedan needed a new home.  On 7April2019, the ignition keys and baton were passed to Insightout….mileage 27,571.

https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1973-mercedes-benz-220d-3/

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The stunning simplicity, French designer, Paul Bracq’s exquisite lines promise to resonate with age.  The current overload of tech advancement, unnecessary drivel of rear camera video monitor, g.p.s., parking assist, power excess, gadgetry ad infinitum has drowned the sensual pleasure of the freedom to drive. Where did we  go astray. Mercedes provided Dot, the minimalist, with the following for Fred’s enjoyment:

  • automatic transmission, AM-FM radio
  • power steering, power 4 wheel disc brakes
  • electric windshield wipers and clock

Paul Bracq graced us, a 270° greenhouse view, through tinted windshield, peering over the graceful arc of the hood, squared off fenders to the three-pointed star, and Dot thankfully excluded:

  • power seats
  • power windows
  • power antenna
  • cruise control
  • keyless entry
  • air-conditioning
  • heated seats, bluetooth, tilt wheel, yada
  • granite countertops

Yes, 0 to 60 mph times mean little, and an easily achieved top speed of 83 mph is rarely necessary, and yet, a finely tuned 46 y/o gets 28 mpg.

Commentary during the internet auction alluded to the pouring of cold honey;

‘teaches both the driver, and all followers, patience’

‘fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow- and this is a SLOW car’

‘lethargic performance, like it was on a heavy dose of Valium’

‘you have to choose either “lively” or “relaxed”, this an example of the latter’

‘on an unincorporated country road, where it’s never hot, all day to kill, this could be the perfect car for you’

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Collectors are inclined to name cars, usually in the feminine tense, which is peculiar, as the vehicle does not have headaches, a menstrual cycle, nor succumb to fashion or footwear fads.  Hence the 220D is simply, Fred.  

Not Frederick, not the teutonic Fritz, just plain Fred.

In honor of both Mr. Ray, and Paul Bracq, I designed my own vanity plate…which says it all.

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©insightout2019

Special thanks to Jonathan Karnes MD, & his father Jim, for (a) providing personal details, and (b) their thoughtful stewardship for 6 years.

David Z. Kil, photographer, for the finest rear view ever conceived.

Cartoon, courtesy, Crown Media Holdings®, 2018

And lastly, to Fred Ray, whom I never knew, but whose spirit will always remain although, at time & ½, my mind cannot find the words of gratitude. For the best ride ever. Today’s mileage, turned, with zero digital assistance, 28,000.

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….the ladies alumni, Ba T, Scottsdale, AZ, 2019

Welcome, too,  the CNBC Disruptor List 2019, through the windshield.

Pre-emptive, yes, however, a synopsis of the qualifications:

  • private companies transforming the economy and altering industry.
  • independently owned, founded after Jan. 1, 2004, are eligible.

0530 hrs. MST, Saturday, the civil sunrise begins to awaken the desert AZ floor. It’s chilly, but not to the bone. Runny nose weather. You won’t stick to a vinyl seat cover before this noon. Not today, a day when my ten lb. companion, Mrs. Wilson, can see her breath in the semi-darkness.

"ride the painted pony, let the spinning wheels turn"
“ride the painted pony, let the spinning wheels turn”

A very quick pee, hardened underside nipples, she doesn’t need a local TV disaster weather a!arm team to tell her the rattlesnakes are too cool to crawl.  The little princess is off to her favorite dogsitters.

Now, time to wake up the queen. “Honey, we’re headed to Scottsdale, get dressed”.

J.Lynn is apprehensive. “a 150 miles to do what…?…an alumni gathering. “Please, not one of those cattle-call, testosterone-laced, endless rat-a-tat_white noise_flashing klieg lights_models in lemon chiffon gowns_parading signs_white gloved, pony-tailed thugs, dressed in black, pushing used cars across a stage….is it ?”

Funny how she can remember 1998, Barrett-Jackson, and her exact words, ‘never again’

"you'll get the fur coat"
“you’ll get the fur coat”

“I’ve seen enough gold chained, cigar smoking, peter pans with hairy cleavage to last a lifetime, and I will not wear a lanyard noose.”

No, no.  This is a gathering of the faithful, alumni of a favorite website, the antithesis of the live auction industry, where we’ll be certain to meet lovely ladies, just like you. Promise.

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Both JanetLynn & myself, virgins in the popular ‘cars & coffee’ ritual, are welcomed by the BaT staff and personnel of the Stables.  A stunning, off the grid, warehouse, a premium facility where  freshly brewed coffee melds with a whiff of 110 octane jet fuel from adjacent Scottsdale airport, the aroma triad completed with a warm poppyseed muffin.  Intoxicating.

"Grandpa, I want a 21 window VW"
“Grandpa, I want a 21 window VW”

Well traveled cars, driven by their owners, sparkle. Who knew asphalt, encircled by meticulous landscaping, could provide a glamorous backdrop ?  Not a single car made in China.  Our task, self-appointed, photoshoot the shotgun seat passengers;

  • a professional model, Knoxville, TN
  • career long distance operator, Bell® System
  • gorgeous 60 y/o, an owner wife, in love with a west highland white terrier
  • dental hygienist, classmate of Hillary Rodham, Maine South HS 1965
  • Biltmore®advisor, a marketing crackerjack in cars and celebrity capital.  And sexy cute.
  • Stay-at-home Nova Scotia mom, 2 MBs, 2 BMWs, one cat, one dog, one husband
  • retired pediatrician, Sun Valley, ID
  • Southwest Air®, corp. head of stewardess services

Unidentified photos; personal privacy prohibits the dissemination of names, addresses, SSN #, credit card, date of birth, body weight listed on driver’s licenses….all remain anonymous.

"Mom, how much longer is this going to take ?"
“Mom, how much longer is this going to take ?”

Full disclosure, this writer has a prior arrest record, perjury/bribery, and currently wears a GPS ankle monitor…not by choice.  A federal judge described the photo below, in only five words,

L-R, "Motion Denied", "Guilty", "Next Case"
L-R, “Motion Denied”, “Guilty”, “Next Case”

below,

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and a celebrity parking lot attendant, who, along with co-founders, will auction ~ 10,000 lots. in 2019, in xs of $250M, from an office in the Bay Area with < 30 employees, and not a single tent, auctioneer, glossy catalogue, or physical venue.

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"Toto, when we get to AZ, you'll get to go"
“Toto, when we get to AZ, you’ll get to go”  
©insightout2019