The Dogs Been Grilling for 24 Hours

Farlo hobbled around the car, Tina followed him. He opened Joey’s door before Joey thought to lock it. Farlo bent over and leaned in going eyeball to eyeball with Joey. “We can do this hard way or we can do this really, really hard way. What way do you want it?”

“Can you accept the voluntary way?” said Joey hoping Farlo didn’t whack him.

“We got two minutes and counting. We won’t have this chance for a week. Are you coming voluntarily or am I going to drag your sorry butt across the parking lot?”

“I said I was volunteering. You make too many snap judgments,” said Joey. He unbuckled his seat belt. He slid out of his seat and stood up outside the car.

Joey said, “I’m going, but under protest. I intend to file a grievance with Filo whenever I meet him.”

“You’re not cleared to meet him. Let’s go. It’s go time,” snapped Farlo half hobbling with his cane, half jogging. Tina walked along side Farlo. Joey walked alongside Tina.

They reached the entrance door to the 7-Eleven. Farlo held up his hand for Joey to stop. He stared inside. The clerk nervously stood behind the counter. The taller of the two men was in the back of the 7-Eleven near the cold beer. The shorter of the two was surveying the candy and gum section.

Joey said, “You think they’re going to rob this place? Call 911 and let’s get out of here.”

Farlo looked at Joey, and said, “Turn around.”

Joey did as Farlo asked.

“Just as I thought, no backbone,” said Farlo then he checked his Apple 3 watch. “We’ve got 45 seconds. Then we’re going in. You follow me. I know you don’t have my back. Tina does.”

“Who has my back?” asked Joey.

At that moment, two pickups, a motorcycle, a beat-up Chevy Malibu, and a college kid on a skateboard came into the parking lot. Farlo turned and took it all in. He looked at Joey, “The numbers are against us. If we don’t move now, we don’t have a chance. Listen up kid, this is your first test, you pass it, I’ll make a note on your weekly evaluation I text to Filo.”

Before Joey could say, “Who’s Filo?” Farlo pushed open the door and headed toward the back. The clerk dived to the floor behind the counter. Tina was on Farlo’s heels. Joey was thinking about diving over the counter and joining the clerk. Farlo reached the back aisle when the 7-Eleven door opened for another customer. He turned to his right, he exclaimed, “I made it. We’re first in line. The dogs have been grilling for twenty-four hours.” Tina barked.

The tall guy fell in line behind Joey, the short guy fell in line behind the tall guy. The first pickup driver fell in line behind the short guy. The second pickup driver fell in line behind the first pickup driver. The skateboard college kid fell in the line behind the second pickup truck driver. As for the beat-up Chevy Malibu driver, he headed to the men’s room.

The tall guy said, “I didn’t know you were in town, Farlo. What are you doing here?”

Farlo turned around, three dogs in one hand, each one in a soft hot bun. Two of dogs with relish and mustard, The third with mustard only, Filo gave the other two to Tina, who finished them within seven point four seconds. A good time, not her personal best. She wanted to enjoy the taste.

Filo looked at the tall “Son of a gun, I didn’t recognize you, Flakes. You lost weight.How they hanging?”

“Thanks for noticing. I’m down ten pounds on my all dog diet.”

Joey stared at Farlo, then he stared at Flakes. Then he stared at the little guy. Farlo turned toward Joey, “Get three dogs for Tina, none for you. You haven’t earned them.”

“What? This is not fair. I love 7-Eleven grilled for 24-hours hotdogs. They got the perfect combination of wrinkles, nitrates, chemicals, and meat waste products. They’re always sold out when I try to get one.”

“Tough noogies,” said Farlo.

Flakes said, “The punk’s got a lot to learn, Farlo.”

The short guy came around with his Snicker’s candy bar, “Hey Farlo, waz happening?”

“Bones, what’s shakin?” said Farlo.

“A little bit of this, a lot of dat. Who’s da baby?”

Farlo said, “He’s my reclamation project, his name is Joey.”

“What a minute. I’m not a baby. I’m not a punk. I’m a dude.”

“Dat’s a baby’s name. You don’t got no street name? How you gonna have street cred? How you gonna run with the big dog here?” said Bones.

“I don’t need street cred. I already got it,” said Joey.

“The only thing you probably got is a GI Joe you hide under your pillow,” said Flakes. Flakes and Bones high fived.

“Do not,” said Joey.

Farlo said, “No, he doesn’t have a GI Joe. He has a stuffed bear on his pillow.”

A fist bump, a high five, and several minutes of laughter later, Farlo said, “You boys take care of the job Filo sent you on? It was a rough one.”

“Filo’s the man, Farlo. I don’t know what he doesn’t know. What I want to know is how does a guy his age have all the women chasing after him. You know da answer?”

“I do, Bones, but it’s classified. You and Flakes got a class five security clearance, you need a class twenty. There are only two people who got it,” said Farlo.

“Who? And, BTW, the name is Joe-mo,” said Joey.

“Dat da best you can do? They gonna eat you up when Farlo has you fly solo,” said Bones.

“I’m working on it,” said Joey.

Farlo said, “The two people with security clearance twenty? Filo and me.”

“Who’s Filo? When do I get to meet him? Can I see the company manual? I want to read the grievance process,” said Joey or Joe-mo.

Farlo shook his head, took a bite of hotdog, fed the rest to Tina. He fist bumped Bones and Flakes. Then he said, “Joey, take the hotdog out of your pocket and give it to Tina.”

Who’s Filo? Who does Farlo work for? Is it a secret government agency? What kind of job did Flakes and Bones do?

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A Lesson In Teamwork

I’m not a surfer. I like the ocean and I like to swim. But surfing is something I watch. I’m amazed by a surfer’s athleticism. In the following, under one minute Vimeo video, two surfers give me a lesson on teamwork. We need each other if we are to make it through the tough times. They inspired me to always offer a hand and to accept one as well.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/85587335″>Sharing is caring</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/garethsheehan”>Gareth Sheehan</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

You Think I’m Stupid

Joey sat behind the wheel of his beat up, dinged up, dented up, bald tires, and cracked windshield eighteen-year-old Honda with 300,000 miles on it. Farlo sat next to him. Tina lied on the back seat. The car was parked on the edge of the lot of a 7-Eleven.

Farlo sipped his Starbucks’ coffee. Joey glared at him. “When do I get coffee?”

“When I think you’re clean.”

“I’ve been clean for ten days.”

Farlo said, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. You ever hear that quote?”

Joey said, “You think I’m stupid. Of course, I heard it.”

“Who said it?” demanded Farlo.

“You got the quote wrong. You didn’t even quote it right.”

Farlo moved his head slightly to the left to glance at Joey, “If I find any hallucinogens in the house I’ll hang you upside down with a rope around your feet from the oak tree in back and let Tina use you for attack practice.”

“I said I was clean I never tried that stuff. But the quote is and I’m certain I’m right, “One large step for a small woman and an even bigger step for a tall woman. Marcy Bloomberg said it on E! I’m sure that’s it. So, you’re wrong.”

Farlo twisted in his seat, “If we weren’t on the job, I’d smack you across your head and knock some stuff around, you are one sorry case.”

“You wanna bet who’s right, or are you chicken? What are you saying, I don’t hear you. I see your lips moving,” said Joey.

In a flash, Farlo’s left are shot out straight and caught Joey by the neck. Farlo’s thumb pressed into Joey’s windpipe, his fingers squeezed on the back of Joey’s neck. Joey gagged, “You’re killing me. Stop.”

“I’m not killing you. I’m giving you tough love. That’s what the manual calls it. Now admit you made it up.”

“I didn’t. Ouch. Yes, yes, I made it up,” coughed Joey.

Farlo released his head. Tina, now on her haunches on the backseat, her head rested on the top of Farlo’s seat.

Farlo said, “Repeat after me. I will not bullshit Farlo ever again.” He tightened his grip on Joey’s throat.

“I will not bullshit Farlo ever again,” said Joey. He sounded like a cat tossing up a hairball.

Farlo released his grip. He turned his attention back to the 7-Eleven.

“What manual are you talking about?” asked Joey rubbing his throat with his left hand.

“The one Filo wrote,” said Farlo.

Farlo took the top of his coffee and blew the aroma towards Joey.

“That’s cruel. You don’t have to worry about a heart attack, because you don’t have one,” said Joey.

Farlo put the cover back on his coffee, took a sip and stared into the 7-Eleven. A nondescript white van pulled into the parking lot. It didn’t have a front license plate. It drove slowly around the lot and pulled in front of the 7-Eleven.

“You see that?” asked Farlo.

“What?” asked Joey.

“The van. What are you doing, fantasizing about the date you’ll never have because no woman in right mind will ever date you.”

“I’m not choosy, she doesn’t have to be in her right mind,” said Joey.

“Look, it doesn’t have a license plate, front or back,” said Farlo.

“So? Maybe their test driving it from the dealership,” said Joey.

Two men got out of the van. One from the driver’s side, the other from the passenger side. The driver, a five foot four-inch slim guy was wearing s dark hoodie with the hood pulled up over his head. The other man, six-inches taller, was heavy. He looked like he was in training to be a sumo wrestler. He wore a black stocking hat pulled down tight and stopping at the edge of eyebrows. The shorter said something to the taller man and pointed at Joey’s car. They stared at it, mumbled something between them, turned and went in the 7-Eleven.

Joey’s eyes were closed. He was massaging his neck and throat. Farlo punched Joey on the bicep, “It’s go time. Follow my lead.”

Joey rubbed his bicep. “Hey, that hurts. Can’t you say, ‘Joey, it’s go time.’ No you can’t you have to use brute force. What’s go time? What are we doing? Are you going to rob the 7-Eleven? I’m not going.”

What is happening at the 7-Eleven? What is go-time? Did Joey learn his lesson? Who is Filo?

The Road Less Traveled

Our lives are made up of choices. We constantly choose between competing alternatives. Most of the times the choices are easy. Sometime the choices are difficult. We may ask ourselves if we should play it safe. Or, should we risk venturing into an unknown future trusting in an inner GPS to guide us. The following Vimeo video is about choices and I know you’ll enjoy Robert Frost reading his famous poem, “The Road Less Traveled.”

 

I Don’t Want To Eat It

Five days later.

“Farlo! Farlo! I lost five pounds. Come here, you got to see this,” shouted Joey from the bathroom.

From the kitchen card table, “You’ve got ten more to go.” Tina barked.

Five minutes later from Joey’s bedroom, “Farlo! Farlo! My belly isn’t hanging over my belt. You’ve got to see this,” an excited Joey said.

From the kitchen card table, “You’ve got two more inches to lose to get rid of the love handles.” Tina barked.

“Farlo! Farlo! I’m ready for inspection,” hollered Joey.

Farlo bent over, rubbed Tina on the back of her head, “We’re making progress. But I don’t want him to get a big head.” Tina barked.

Farlo stood up and got off the beer keg being used as a kitchen chair. He grabbed hold of his cane, and walked with a bit of a limp to Joey’s bedroom. The door was already open. Joey stood ramrod straight as if he were a West Point cadet. Farlo walked up to him, examined Joey’s face. Nodded with approval at the military style haircut Joey got yesterday at Zip and Clip for ten bucks. He let his eyes move down to Joey’s t-shirt. It was clean.

Farlo growled, “Turn around.”

“Do I have to?” asked Joey.

Tina barked.

“Okay, okay. But it’s clean. So what if it has some printing on the back?”

Farlo read the printing on the back of Joey’s t-shirt, “It’s Always A Happy Ending At Luis’s. Take it off and burn it. It’s not going to Goodwill.”

“But that’s where I got it. It’s just like new and it only cost fifty cents.”

“Burn it.”

“Do you ever lighten up?” asked Joey.

“I did once, twelve years ago and regretted it ever since,” growled Farlo.

Farlo and Tina walked slowly around the bed. Joey had hospital corners. The sheets were clean and pulled tight. What is that teddy bear doing on your pillow?”

“It’s not a Teddy bear. It’s the mascot for the Chicago Bears,” said Joey.

“The way they’re playing, they’re teddy bears. Losers,” barked Farlo. Then he added, “You passed inspection, your breakfast is on the card table.”

Joey waited until Farlo and Tina left the room. He made the sign of the cross for passing inspection. He took off his Luis’s t-shirt and tossed it in a trash can. He slipped on a plain white tee. Joey then went into the kitchen, pulled out his keg and sat down and stared at two pieces of whole wheat toast with avocado mashed on top of them. A glass of fresh orange juice was to the right of his plate. And, a bowl of plain strawberries to the left of the plate.

“Is this all I get to eat?”

“Yes.”

“What is this green stuff? I don’t like the looks of it.”

“Eat it.”

“I don’t want to eat it. I might throw up.”

“Then go hungry.”

“You’ve got to learn to have more interesting conversations, Farlo. Anybody ever tell you that?”

“Yah, and after he picked his ass off the floor he apologized. I’m giving you a pass this once.”

Joey ate his strawberries. He drank his juice. He stared at the avocado covered toast. His stomach was rumbling. It needed food, fast. Out of sheer desperation, he picked up a piece of the green mushy covered toast and brought it near his nose and sniffed it. Tina liked his style.

Joey set it back down and took his fork and pick off a bit of the avocado and let it touch his tongue. He picked up the toast and took a bite. “What’s this green stuff called? It come in a jar? Do you have to special order it. It’s pretty good.”

Farlo, instead of answering Joey, turned to Tina, “Do you think Filo is punishing me by sending me here?” Tina barked.

Joey was working on his second piece of toast, his mouth partially full, he mumbled, “What are we going to do today?”

Farlo finished chewing his toast with avocado on top. After he swallowed he said, “The first thing you’re going to do is learn not to speak with food in your mouth. It’s bad manners. The second thing, and I’m taking a big risk but Filo insists. I’m taking you out on a small job with me.”

Joey started to speak, but saw Farlo and Tina glaring at him. Joey chewed, swallowed, and then said, “What kind of job?”

“It’s a minimum security job. It’s all you qualify for now.”

“I need a security clearance? Exactly, what kind of work do you do?”

“You already asked your quota of questions for today. Now, clean the table, wash and put away the dishes, brush your teeth and clean the bathroom, stat.”

“I wish you’d say, please.”

Tina growled.

Joey got to work.

What kind of job is Farlo talking about? What exactly does Farlo do? Why would Joey need a security clearance? Who’s Filo?

Turning Tragedy Into Triumph

Have you ever been knocked down? Knocked flat on your back? There is only one option, get back up and get going. It’s hard, really hard. And, at times, seemingly impossible. When we get up off the mat, rise, and begin again, it is a personal triumph. The following  short YouTube video tells one man’s story of getting up and going on. Get Inspired by his story.

Our Attitude Makes All The Difference

Life isn’t easy. Some days it takes heaps of courage just to get out of bed. If you’re having a tough day, you’re not alone. Every person who has lived, is living, or will live has rough, really rough moments. The attitude we take to life’s rough moments can make all the difference in how we work our way through them. The right attitude will transform tragedy’s into triumphs. The following short YouTube video presents a short story using metaphors to illustrate the importance of cultivating the right attitude.

Where’s Your Father?

“Suck it up, kid, you’ve just started,” barked Farlo sounding like a drill instructor.

Joey lied sprawled out on the grass in the back of his house. “I can’t move. I ache all over. Can I have a beer?”

“You’ve only done two pushups. You’ve got sit ups, burpees, jumping jacks, and cardio.”

“I quit. I don’t want to get in shape. I want my beer and cereal. I wanna go to work. I want you to leave. I want everything back to the way it used to be,” complained Joey.

Farlo turned his head toward Tina, “Joey has lots of things he wants. You think he’s going to get them?”

Tina barked twice. “Tina smarter than you, Joey. She said it won’t happen.” Farlo bent over and picked up small rocks and began throwing them at Joey.

“Hey, cut it out,” hollered Joey.

“Start exercising. You’ve got love handles. Your belly hangs an inch over your belt. You’re getting a double chin. I’ll put ten dollars you’ve had hemorrhoids in the past six weeks,” now start moving your lazy butt before I start kicking it.

“Ouch, I said cut it out. This kills, three. Fo .. fo .. four. Fi .. fi .. five. I did it. I did it. I did five. I met my goal,” a note of triumph in Joey’s voice.

“Congratulations,” the words from Farlo’s deadpan voice. He added, “My five-year-old granddaughter can do twenty. Roll over, time for sit ups.”

So it went for the next hour. Joey starting an exercise. Joey quitting. Joey hollering “ouch” when rocks hit him. Joey overjoyed when he hit the day’s goal. Farlo popping his balloon.

Forty-five minutes later Joey finished his oatmeal, fruit, and juice. “I’m still hungry. I need real food. Not this fast food stuff.”

“That’s all you earned. Now we’re going to work on your psychological profile. If I had a stamp, I’d stamp the sheet LOSER. Filo gets a feather up his you know what when I do that. He told me it’s counterproductive.”

“I already like Filo,” said Joey.

Farlo waved his hand as if he was smacking away Joey’s remark, “Don’t get carried away. He also told me if I had to, I could take drastic action with you. I don’t need preapproval.”

“What’s that?” asked Joey.

“You don’t want to know. If I told you, you’d soil yourself.”

“Huh?”

“First question, where is your father?”

Joey squirmed. He looked out the window. Then he turned back to Farlo, “In the state prison. He’s doing hard time.”

“For what?”

“Dealing, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, pimping, possession, selling stolen goods, and blackmail.”

“You want to end up like him, kid? Or, do you want to make something of yourself? You got a choice, you can be a bum or a blessing.”

“He never forgot me on Christmas when he wasn’t in the pen,” said Joey defensively.

“Next question, “Where’s your mom?”

“Women’s prison for the next twenty to thirty. She might get paroled after fifteen with good behavior,” said Joey.

“For what?”

“Forgery. Intimidation. Posing as a TSA agent. Dealing. Possession. Assault with intent to maim and kill, but she had a reason for the last one. She caught her girlfriend with her boyfriend.”

“You mean she was cheating on your father.”

“Okay, she’s not perfect,” said Joey.

Farlo took out his wallet, he handed Joey two twenties and a sheet of paper, “You’re going to the store and getting only the items on this list. Tina is going with you. She has creds as a therapy dog. If you try to run away, you’ll lose the use of your leg. Bring me back the change and the receipt.”

“You don’t trust me, do you.”

“That’s right. Now move out.”

“I do not work for you,” Joey said, his voice rising in anger.

“Tina!” said Farlo.

Tina growled.

Joey said, “Okay. Okay. I’m going. Tell Tina to chill. Do you have a muzzle? Where’s her leash?”

“She doesn’t need either one,” snapped Farlo.

“Can I get a pack of gum?” asked Joey in a conciliatory tone.

Farlo lifted his cane and gripped the end of it in one hand as if it were a club.

“I’m going. I’m going. Relax.”

Will Joey make a break for it? Will Tina stop him? Who’s Filo

One Ordinary Woman – Unstoppable

Do you think you are only one person? Do you often say, “What can I do?” “How can I make a difference?” All it takes is one person, with a courageous heart. One person who sees injustice, evil, or a person who needs healing and acts. It takes persistence and an indomitable spirit. Are you that person? Irena Sendler was that person. Watch the 2 minute YouTube video and you’ll discover what one ordinary person did that was by any measure extraordinary. I know she inspired me. I hope she will touch your heart.

My Alarm Didn’t Go Off

It’s 5 a.m., Joey’s alarm is set to ring at 6:30. He doesn’t have to be at work until 8. Right now, Joey’s lying on a beach chair, tanned, clothed in a bathing suit. His beach chair sits on a white sandy beach in Jamaica. Joey takes one look at the bluest bit of ocean water you’ll ever see. Then he turns his head to the beach chair next to him to marvel at one of the world’s wonders, a scantily clad native beauty who’s smiling at him, her red lips and sultry look tell Joey all he wants to know. They’re drinking margaritas. Joey knows where the afternoon is headed, until . . .

“Wake up low life. Rise and shine. You’re snoozing you’re losing.” A series of angry barks followed. He felt the covers ripped off him.

He pulled his pillow over his head, kicked his legs and feet at an elusive enemy, and screamed, “Get out of here. My alarm didn’t go off. I don’t have to be to work until 8.”

“Five seconds, that’s all you got, you piece of work to get up. I’m feeling generous, you got fifteen minutes to shave, shower, do your business, make your bed and stand for inspection,” barked Farlo in a baritone voice mixed with the sound of a jackhammer and lawn mower.

“I’m not getting up. Get used to it,” uttered Joey’s muffled voice. Then he added, “What are you doing? Are you nuts?” said Joey jumping out of bed soaking wet. His sheets and mattress soaked. He rubbed his eyes with his fists. He opened his eyes, his arms by his sides, his fists clenched, and stared at Farlo.

Farlo stood rim rode straight in front of him. Farlo held on to his cane with his right hand and an empty two gallon water bucket in the other. Tina sat next to Farlo on her haunches. To Joey, it looked like Tina was laughing at him.

“You look like crap. You have fifteen minutes and counting. The clock is ticking. Make sure the bathroom is the way you found it or your ass is grass and I’m the lawn mower,” snarled Farlo sounding like an irritated pit bull.

Joey took a step toward Farlo, Tina let out a growl. Joey stepped back and said, “At least get out of my room.”

Farlo stared at Joey, “Don’t worry about work. I called in for you and told your supervisor you quit. You’ll get your check in next week’s mail.”

“I, I, I’ve been there for five years. I was building a career portfolio. I need that job,” Joey snapped.

“It’s a dead-end job kid. You’re working for me. You’re going to thank me for getting you out of a loser’s job. This is the first day of the rest of your life. Now, move out.”

“But, but, but . . .”

“Tina!” said Farlo.

Tina stood up. She set herself to attack Joey. Joey stepped back and walked a wide circle around Tina and Farlo and headed to the bathroom.

Sixteen minutes later Joey went into the kitchen. He saw Farlo sitting on one of his two chairs, actually empty kegs. On the table in front of Farlo sat a bowl of oatmeal, container of Greek yogurt, dish of fresh fruit, and coffee.

“Where’d you get that food?” asked Joey.

“Filo had it delivered at oh four hundred.”

“What time is that?” asked Joey.

Joey walked over to the table and sat down on the other keg. He looked at the empty space in front of him, “Where’s my food?”

“What do you think you’re doing, kid? You haven’t stood for inspection. Go back to your bedroom and call me when you’re standing as straight as a lamp pole,” said Farlo. He paused and took a sip of his coffee.

“This is not fair,” said Joey.

“I know,” said Farlo.

Joey turned and went back to his bedroom. A moment later, he called, “I’m ready.”

Tina walked in the bedroom first followed by Farlo. “Check it for drugs and weapons girl.”

Tina slowly walked around the bed sniffing the sheets and mattress. She stopped when she reached the other side of the bed. Her head stared directly at Joey’s pillow. Farlo walked past Joey and around the bed. Joey turned his head.

Farlo barked, “Eyes front.” Joey turned his head toward the door.

Joey heard a ripping sound. He heard the rustling of a pillow case and saw feathers floating over his head. He heard, “Aha, weed. Are you a pothead? Is this what I’m dealing with? You’re going cold turkey. No drugs, no alcohol. Forget coffee. You’re on a restricted, cleansing diet, water, fruit, spinach and kale and whole grains for two weeks. If it doesn’t work, you’ll get a juice enema.”

“Noooooo,” whimpered Joey.

“You don’t even know how to make a bed. You are a shipwreck. You’re standing in the middle of the tracks and a speeding train is about to reduce you to rubble. Burn the linen. It hasn’t been changed and washed in six months. Now let me look at you.”

Farlo paced around Joey until stood six inches from Joey’s face. “Listen up. No grunge, short haircut, use a brush on your fingernails and for God’s sake, trim them. I didn’t see any floss in your bathroom. I’ll make you a shopping list. You can sit and watch me eat.”

“What about me?” asked Joey.

Farlo ignored Joey’s comment. “Wait until I’m finished eating. You have to exercise before you eat.”

“What?”

“Filo told me you were a Cat 5 project. That’s as high as the numbers go. That’s the worst case of all the worst cases. Nothing to worry about. I never fail.”

“Who’s Filo?” asked Joey.

Who is Filo? I have the same question. What are Filo’s plans for Joey? Why was Joey chosen? Come back tomorrow to see how Joey’s doing.