Archive for the Honesty Category

[I, Petunia] Not for sale; Decency II

Posted in Documentaries, Honesty, I Petunia, Life is like Christopher Guest said it was, Life Performance Art, Literary, Love Thy Fellow Man, MANNERS, Mockumentaries, Narcissisim, Non-Selective Empathy and Compassion, Petunia, Philosophy?, Regretful Human Behavior, Thoughts with tags on July 20, 2013 by Admin

A work of fiction, by Petunia Jablonsky, to be presented in serial format, a few sentences or paragraphs whenever… our attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.

 “The important thing is to write and to keep writing…for when you start you won’t stop until your story has been told, and you never know what you might find along the way, or at the end. You have a gift. Certainly all the money stolen from you — from “family” no less, and including the man you’d called “dad” who kept the money your Grammie left for you, excusing it by saying, “I’m keeping that money; I earned it by being stuck with a sick woman all my life”, and the brother you’d always protected and who’d stolen well over half a million dollars for you because his life is devoid of the things that matter more than money” — means you bought and paid for these stories, so write them and don’t stop for a minute. Do not edit, do not re-read, just write forward and never look back” 

I, Petunia, often think of the good times, the hilarious times, the great times, regarding both of these aforementioned situations and peoples.

When we first met at the wedding of a friend we clicked immediately, in a good way and a true way, not a heat-driven or cheap way. We laughed and danced and smiled and laughed again. I left with him and his friends, a hilarious couple, all of us exuberant and unwilling to let the evening end, and my friend K drove back alone, without minding or worrying, as these were all friends of friends. On the way to an after party of some unknown shape or destination they suddenly pulled over to the side and so we pulled over behind them. They got out, so we followed suit. We all looked at each other, still laughing, not knowing or caring why we’d stopped, and because our radio was blasting Brick House we all began to dance on the sidewalk as cars drove by honking and staring. After a few minutes of this we all, without a word, got into our two respective cars and simply resumed the drive as a mini convoy, still laughing. The days that followed were heady, hilarious, epic, swoonful.

I digress… I promised to just write and write and this is easy for me as I, Petunia, do not write so much as let my three typing fingers do their jerry-rigged thing, loudly as I am often told, on the keypad. There never seems to be any communication between mind and fingers; they just go, seemingly of their own accord. After years of promising that today is the day I will get back to my blog, I, Petunia, have begun, and I will honor that promise and neither rein in my fingers or look back. Editing is not an option.

… So, according to the 48 year-old ex-brother (8 years older now than in the title of that aforementioned Steve Carell movie that I shamefully snickered about)  who, until he got the/our father, incapacitated by stroke, (it was in the newspaper, as such things are) to sign over the house that the martyr already half-owned in addition to his half-ownership of all the bank accounts and funds (he is not very bright but he is crafty. My mistake was never seeing the crafty side and believing a diligent church-goer would never lie, steal, or chat) by way of legal maneuvering,  was reportedly couch-surging, yet I always had my hand out. And he finished that fabrication up with, “Ya know?”, as if anyone “knew”, or would ever believe that I was anything other than what they knew me to be, and saw for themselves, all along.

I get reports from… let’s see.. (counting), 5 states. I pretty much hear most of they say, though they likely believe I am universally ostracized as the results of their efforts toward that end; that the wife is “openly-loathed” to the south and “barely tolerated” to the north; that her husband, my ex-father, is not allowed private conversations and she is often on the other line listening; and that of all the family friends who’d loved my mother (may she RIP, and who would be utterly-appalled at all that has transpired since her passing), and who’d attended her funeral and wake and all the parties over the years that only 2 friends and 3 relatives were at the wedding. The Mole (the new “stepmother”, who the martyr had once called a golddigger, pushy, manipulative, and not at all a nice person) calls herself a widow, but sometimes, after her 4th or 5th drink, she refers to her deceased husband as her “ex”. Once friends of mine had offered to pay for a private investigator, sure that something other than a lie about widowhood would turn up about the woman whose being made the hair on my arms stand up from the first meeting when she’d smirked at me upon introduction, but I declined. It doesn’t matter any more. Or maybe some day I will accept. I prize my clean conscience above all for I, Petunia, cherish my untainted integrity above all. Money can’t buy shit, beyond material things.

“Oh, he (the martyr) stays at the house when they let him and sometimes he stays at her place” (her being The Mole; the misogynist new wife and perhaps, hilariously, my stepmother, who once followed me to a place out of earshot and asked, faux innocently, if I saw a dermatologist for the “rosacea” that I had no idea that I was burdened with, and them smirked at my shocked expression) — “he just flits about. The two of them are thick as thieves, always giggling over things and buying each other gifts for each others’ homes (this from back when he had a home, where he paid actual rent, rather than sponging) and talking decorating, like a couple of old queens”.

A hilarious, and highly ambitious, lie, that of me having my hand out, considering the source and considering that I have supported myself all my life, in my own apartments, since I graduated from high school, including paying my entire college tuition and rent at the same time, working two jobs till I cut down to one at age 35 which is, coincidentally,  the age at which he finally moved to his own apartment, after finally growing tired, in his own words, of his friends calling him a “Mama’s boy”.

At around this same time he began his scheming with the estate lawyer — “I can take a day off work and drive out from Boston to go to the meetings if you like. But I have already used all my days watching mom while you and dad took vacations so if you don’t need me then I won’t bother. I trust you“. Fucking hilarious last words, now — to not only get the big prize, the house, but also to get every penny meant for me.

“Mom always made the shittiest steaks. They were so thin and tough.”

“WHAT?  The Martyr, can you possibly not know how poor we were? Did you think the whole, “Hey! Let’s have breakfast for dinner” thing was because pancakes from a ready-made mix with fake syrup were so delicious and healthy? Why do you think dad always worked two jobs and we didn’t eat in restaurants and every vacation was spent in tents a short drive away? Do you not remember all the talk of medical bills killing us and being why Grammie and Grampie slipped mom money, because dad was too proud, then, so he said, to take their money? Were you that self-absorbed?”

The Martyr is a bit obtuse and self-occupied, but I guess I don’t blame him. I will get to the why of all this.

One night, late…

“Dad, can I talk to you? I am wondering if you can maybe tone down all the talk of ____’s kids living in McMansions (my word/take, given the size of the houses as compared to the little lots they were built on) and making so much money? The Martyr has told me that is greatly upsets him and makes him feel like a failure so I am wondering if, for his sake, you can sorta tone it down. He has talked to me about this and so I am asking you on his behalf. He is very sensitive, as you know.

Also, WHY don’t parents ever brag about how their kids turned out to be such kind people, or brag about the volunteer work they do? Remember the time Nate (not my older brother’s real name, may he RIP) came to you and suggested that you become a contractor since you do construction in your part time anyway, and because you would make so much more money? You blew up at him, you were so very angry at that, and lectured him on how money is not as important as doing what you love, and how you love teaching so much regardless of what it pays and will never worship at the altar of money. I totally do not get how that aligns with all the mentions of whose kids are making the most money and what fancy material things they have, as if you are in awe of that.”

“Dad, can I talk to you? The martyr is freaking out because you are suddenly using The Mole’s name in every sentence and he is having trouble adjusting to the fact that you are dating someone other than mom. Can you just try to sort of ease him into the situation? I have no issue with this woman and look forward to meeting her — and my philosophy is the more the merrier — but TM is freaking. He is till not over mom’s death so maybe just try to be cognizant of that and try to scale it down? there is nothing wrong with it and we all do it but in this case it is causing him to jump up and run out of the room a lot, lip trembling. Could you do that?”

NEXT: THE “HILARIOUS’ JOKES ABOUT THE FUNERAL PLOTS, AND MORE…

I, Petunia, will be back.Every day, as promised to my therapist, whom I will call Theresa, bc she has been my Mother Theresa.

PIXY103.com

[I, Petunia] Not for sale; Decency

Posted in Communication, Confusion, Fellow Human Beings, Honesty, I Petunia, Life is like Christopher Guest said it was, Life Performance Art, Literary, Love Thy Fellow Man, MANNERS, Narcissisim, Petunia, Philosophy?, Regretful Human Behavior, Schemes, The meaning of life with tags on July 19, 2013 by Admin

A work of fiction, by Petunia Jablonsky, to be presented in serial format, a few sentences or paragraphs whenever… our attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.

I, Petunia, am not angry. I no longer feel anger, at anything; I am angered out and logic has prevailed. I am flattered in some cases and proud in others. The common denominator of what I, Petunia, feel is pity. I am absolutely content. I always survive. I have me to thank for being that smart, that logical, that strong, and I am that grateful for these gifts such that all I can muster is pity.

They say we teach others how to treat us, that we seek that is what is most familiar, that the first 3 months of a person’s life are the most important in terms of early childhood development, that we make our beds. I, Petunia, believe all of this. I believe I am the common denominator of all interactions i have in life and thus I merit some responsibility for my part in them. I did not choose my adoptive family but I did choose my partners in life and I taught them how to treat me. Once I realized this I set about changing. I’d always been working toward change, struggling to evolve, but it often seemed like shoveling against the tide. Sometimes if you cannot beat the mouse infestation you need to burn down the barn. My barn was burned down when I was robbed, emotionally beaten, and left for dead. It took a complete breakdown to rebuild where effecting change was unsuccessful. Thus, I would not change a thing that has ever happened to me and with me, because it is how I got here — to complete contentment, however modest.

“She always had her hand out”, explained my ex-brother regarding my years-long absence to one of our relatives in the state to the north, who listened and nodded, filing this tidbit away so as to tell me later.

greedIt was an absolute and absurd lie as he, the ex-brother, the “martyr”, had schemed and plotted over a decade or so to steal my inheritance because, as he’d reminded our entire family ad nauseum since the day he arrived as an inexplicably grasping, greedy, and sad infant, that he was “the good one”. He got off on being “the good one” as he had an empty life and so money and material gain, the reward of attaining all of these empty means, became both void-filler and lover of sorts. I used to be angry about it but after many years of rumination could muster only pity, though there was a time when I was all too aware of the fact that his daily walk from home to office meant having to walk past the huge marquee announcing the movie, “The Forty Year-Old Virgin”, during it’s run at the little theater downtown. Now I feel shame for snickering at that, and can muster only pity.

I’d never coveted money — preferring to spectate as others shamelessly and transparently fall all over each other, selling their souls and yet believing themselves absolved by way of a weekly trip to church or whatever justification they fabricate — and had let this happen while never believing it could happen, just as I had politely turned down the lawyer who had insisted I sue another ex, the sole ex boyfriend (of a list I can count on one hand) with whom I am no longer friends, for Malicious Prosecution, after he’d unsuccessfully sued me (not his first or last visit to that rodeo) in a case the judge had thrown out while shaming the DA for even daring to present such a travesty in an actual courtroom, though it had cost me $4800 to hire a dense lawyer; a criminal defense lawyer at that.

Lrainater I was told that the window clerk who’d allowed the bitter ex to even file the criminal complaint — an expansive and sad girl “not impervious to flirtation” — had been reprimanded, as had the clerk of courts who’d nervously allowed this farce to proceed from complaint to trial, and the DA who’d blushed when the judge had forced him to repeat the charges aloud, so as to emphasize the taint now blighting his career record.  The judge had later insinuated that he might feel inclined to award treble damages should I wish to pursue damages for the time and money I’d spent, but I declined, finding the idea unseemly.

220px-40-Year-OldVirginMoviePoster

I’ve forgiven both exes since, on my own and in lieu of any sort of apology or reparation though I have reached out and provided the opportunity, and have unloaded that baggage in a metaphorical dumpster, content to have my integrity intact, yet I feel the stories are forever mine to tell, as I am a fictional character and this, of course, is a fictional tale…

It was 2 am as my dog and I walked the dark mountain road through a monsoon reminiscent of the ones Tony and I had experienced in Chaing Mai, with rain of the sort that was not made of raindrops and did not fall, but rather drove and it pounded in sheets,  punctuated by thunder and frequent lightning which seemed to hit the ground dangerously close, and we were terrified. A car rolled up and I heard my name…

Some Beautiful work…

Posted in art, Artists, BUY LOCAL HOLIDAY GIFTS HOLYOKE MASSACHUSETTS, BUY LOCAL HOLIDAY GIFTS NORTHAMPTON MASSACHUSETTS, Honesty, lessons in Art, LOCAL WESTERN MASS ARTISTS, LOCAL WESTERN MASS HOLIDAY SHOPPING, LOCAL WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS ARTWORK FOR SALE, LOCAL WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS HOLIDAY SHOPPING, Love Thy Fellow Man, MANNERS, Special People, The meaning of life, The Process of Art, Thoughts on December 16, 2012 by Admin

that I felt I must share.

I have been following Tracey’s work for years and delighting as it gets better and better. Her use of color is astonishing  and her composition is delightful and yet mysterious!

Someday I am going to own a Tracey Physioc Brockett.

“On my Home Health visits I see the effects of war, the wearing down of age, the ravages of disease, the entropy of life. As well as stories of pain and loneliness, of loss, there is love, joy, beauty and above all hope. Sometimes when I am tired and overworked, I forget to look out the window as I drive, to see the sights. Sometimes, as when I am working with a profoundly deaf woman, it is the light streaming through an old window pane and onto a glass ornament that can spark us to look deep into each other’s eyes. At night, when I am exhausted I ask myself, is this all there is? To eat and sleep and get up and do it all over again, to dress and wash and settle people for the day? Is there a future for this planet where we have done such wonderous things, where there is so much incredible beauty that it makes me hungry for it, even as it is plundered and disregarded, where so many people are taken advantage of, or, worse, ignored? Then I pull out my colours and let my mind quiet, and I paint for all the hurt and beauty of the world. I can not know if it is enough for the future, but it is enough for the NOW.”

~Tracey Physioc Brockett

Tracey Physioc Brockett

Cricket, 2012
Tracey Physioc Brockett

For more work see her website at http://www.physioc.com/, and for mer musings, see her blog at http://physioc.blogspot.com/

Tracey Physioc Brockett

Slow Turn diptych, 38 x 50 inches acrylic and oilstick on paper, 2012

Diagram B; Tennis
30.5 x 31 inches
acrylic and oilstick on paper, 2012

FOR MORE CLICK HERE

Wonder Bred

Posted in Activism?, Adventures and Interludes, Being a Virgo, being defensive, Confusion, danger, Empathy, Fellow Human Beings, Get Informed, Honesty, Important Social Issues, Life is like Christopher Guest said it was, Life Performance Art, Love Thy Fellow Man, Non-Selective Empathy and Compassion, Northampton Police Department, Philosophy?, Regretful Human Behavior, Special People, The meaning of life, Thoughts, We Are ALL Peers with tags , , , , , , on September 19, 2012 by Admin

UPDATE: It seems that Mr. Sir and John counted fourteen policepersons in all on this fateful evening and so I thought this worth adding. Because so often people tend to exaggerate numbers and situations, it is my way to… what is the opposite of exaggerate? I am going to check the antonymary… I am going to go with understate. Anywho, I tend to always round things down as I find that hyperbole discredits the point one is trying to make. My memory of that evening is very clear though it is the emotional part of it that is most fixed. As we waited for forty-something minutes for the FOURTEEN policemen to decide what to do with us, I ruminated on the inherent hypocrisy of the situation, the shame, and the tragedy, while my ethnic companions counted cops over and over, as the numbers increased. Part of me doesn’t want to believe there were quite that many uniforms surrounding mar car but I know my companions to eschew hyperbole as well. I am not going to go back and edit the post below, so this update shall suffice as sufficient edit.

All that for a YELLOW light.

I have a friend, whom I shall call Mr. Sir for this post, and who is a rather wonderful mixed breed of African American, German, and Native American, which is rather evident in his features. Mr. Sir is a well-educated and accomplished sort of sir and holds a very prestigious position at a highly regarded art museum with a notable (7$s worth) collection of Fine Art. Often Mr. Sir is sent to other countries by this museum as trusted escort for priceless artwork — by the likes of Monet, to name a one — when this museum borrows or loans work from/to other prestigious museums. Museums do this, and the work being shared MUST be escorted for various reasons, all of them, like, totally important. He has also been sent to other countries to authenticate rare works of art ($729,000 worth of rare art on one trip alone) before his employers write the check, and is responsible for conserving six figure works, like when kids stick gum to paintings and whatnot.

Art is also “handled” by “Art Handlers” and shipping companies, but that good, bad, and sometimes rather ugly inside scoop is for another post. Mr. Sir is not an Art Handler though, yet our pal Biggie is, who is big. And strong.

Cowboy Curtis,  looking surprised, in a gold fine art frame. I kill me!

Mr. Sir has experienced his fair share of flights running late, resulting in his dashing through airports alongside said priceless works (think very large packages and/or crates) in order to make connecting flights and he has been stopped — due to the packaging and the features and the dashing — at a more frequent rate than other running airport people, the point being that he is among those who seem to attract such visual scrutiny in airports. Therefor, Mr. Sir is ever-s0-vigilant to shave on flight days, even if that means shaving at 3 am, because he has learned by the seat of his delayed-ass pants that the combination of facial hair plus dark skin color and exotic features can result in scrutinizinglied missed flights, and how often can one ask their employer to purchase yet another last-minute flight due to attention attracting (not ALL of it bad, actually) exotic features?

I have tried to walk a figurative mile in Mr. Sir’s various ethnic shoes yet I am merely able to  approximate what life must be like for persons of different colors and ethnicities, having been born a whitey through no merit of my own (I’m looking at you white people who feel superior for “winning” some sort of pre-birth lottery). Recently, however, I had a small taste of this thanks to the Northampton, MA Police Department. Thank you NPD, I am now ever more sensitized to the dubious perils of being non-white. Though having been pulled over in the south — by another baby-faced, blond-haired, blue-eyed officer — and astronomically ticketed for being a Yankee,  I know a wee bit of the helpless rage one feels at such injustices.

It’s all fun and games until someone gets profiled and finds their car surrounded by policemen wielding flashlights and a few rounds of hollow-point suspicion.

I don’t choose my friends by visuals; I choose them by their souls, how they make me feel about myself, and that which is abundant in their hearts. My companions on that fateful night are two of the most sensitive, sincere, compassionate, spiritual (by which I mean that they believe in and practice that which is truly good and beneficial for fellow humans, though not affiliated with any particular brand of religion), kind, generous, intelligent and evolved people I have the fortune to know. They are beautiful people, inside and out.

Mr. Sir, like many of his related relatives before him, has in the last few years been getting more involved with his Native American roots.  He grew out his adorable jheri curls and now sports braids, often sporting Naive American-ish clothing. Noooooo, not feather headdresses and immodest scraps of buffalo hide barely covering his manly bits, I mean “ribbon-ed” shirts and beaded necklaces. “Ribbons” in this case refers to hand stitched designs — by an authorized person — which signify one’s specific tribe and whatnot, including admirable accomplishments I believe, though not scalps of whites brought back to the rez, silly. I don’t understand all of it and so I will leave it at that. Mr. Sir goes to Pow Wows all over the country, participating more and more in Native American ritual and philosophy, which is about kindness, peace and forgiveness. They best believe in forgiveness, for what was done to those native to this land was deplorable; being slaughtered and herded onto fenced millifractions of what was once their own land. And it hasn’t ever gotten much better, though the slaughtering ceased ages ago.

My stash.

Mr. Sir always bring me back a satchel of sage blessed by a Medicine Man at the Pow Wows and I burn it for friends who need prayers. I swear sometimes it works. I have never been to a Pow Wow or even a reservation — not because I haven’t wanted to go, but because, “It’s not a fucking theme park”, and I get that.

Through Mr. Sir, I had the fortune to meet Gary Farmer, an accomplished actor (Dead Man, Adaptation, and Dances With Wolves — in which he uttered his now-iconic line, “Stupid Fucking White Man”, and who now tours North America with his band, Gary Farmer and the Troublemakers, and with whom I once did a pretend duet at a gig and furtherly for whom I am to one day do a documentary of his life as activist, actor and blues musician — our interview went THAT well. Mr. Sir plays in Gary’s band, as does his pal John, who is part of this story.

BTW, soon I will post here an interview I did with Gary Farmer over a year ago (shamefully delayed) and which I have since been editing down to an hour.  Our conversation was so fascinating that I didn’t want to lose a single sentence of it but, alas, 2.5 hours is too much.

AnywhatthehellwasItalkingaboutanyway, this post is about profiling in what had once been considered one of our most “sensitive” and progressive  towns here in “The Happy Valley”, and involves a traffic stop, a few police cars and foot/bike patrolmen, my car being surrounded by EIGHT policemen (there were no female police present, hence the term), and a subsequent verbal warning, after about 40 minutes in all of boredom and profound embarrassment for all involved (looking at you and your armed cohorts, Babyface).

The Northampton, MA Police Department at work; As seen in my rear view mirror.

It all started one night when Mr. Sir and his pal John and I were on our way back from seeing a band in Greenfield, Ma. It was a dark and stormy night… yet it was a clear and balmy evening.

John, the other passenger, was in town from Rio Rancho, New Mexico for a visit with his pal Mr. Sir, as well as for a reception; he was showing his work at an area gallery. John is a big guy, and has hair down to his waist. One can easily guess at his heritage. John also has a business crafting beautiful custom guitars and plays as a studio musician and in several bands including Gary farmer and The Troublemakers. A friend of his from high school in was playing at The Art Bank in Greenfield and so we all went to see her band and I paid 3$ for a airplane-sized bottle of water, while Mr. Sir and John each had a single $20 (ish) beer, as I don’t often drink and we’d been fairly depleted by the $10 cover charge.

On the way home we took the scenic route and as I approached the intersection of Main and King/Pleasant streets in downtown Northampton, MA the light suddenly changed from green to yellow, just as I reached the stop line. Rather than slam on my brakes — though I was in second gear and thus only going about 20 mph, having just stopped at the Cumberland Farms for a candy bar and thus having not driven far enough to get past second gear — I felt it safest and perfectly legal (it is) to just go through the intersection. As it is a short yellow light, it turned red just as my tires crossed the stop line at the other side of the intersection.  Just then Mr. Sir said, “Monkey (he calls me ‘Monkey’, because of this picture of me as a child, in which, logically, I look like a monkey), there was a cop right at the intersection on the left, facing us!”, and I said, “No problem. That was a perfectly legal maneuver.” But the cop had seen Mr. Sir’s ethnic face in the back seat window — they looked right at each other — and soon enough I saw the flashing lights in my rear view mirror.

I pulled over immediately, which un/fortunately was right in front of The Elevens ( a local bar popular with the young folk), and as luck would have it, half the bar was on the sidewalk out front providing us with an audience. It would later turn out that one of Mr. Sir’s coworkers was on that sidewalk, watching the whole show and wondering whether or not to jump in, being a sophisticate and well-connected and all that.

View from passenger side window.

Then there was a flashlight in my face, held by a young, very white face. “Do you know why I pulled you over?”

“Yes, because I went through a yellow light.”

“Well, it was red…”

“It was yellow.”

As we spoke, his flashlight searched my car. A second cop then joined the non-fray, and his flashlight also got busy all over my car through the window on the passenger side, including into Johns face in the passenger seat, and all over the back seat including, as I noticed during one of my rear view mirror glances, right into Mr. Sir’s non-buffalo-hide-clad crotch.

“How much have you had to drink tonight?”

“Nothing.”

“You sure? Because..I mean, you ran that red light back there.”

“It was YELLOW. I had nothing to drink. Check me.”

“Well, no, I don’t really smell alcohol.. it’s just that…”

“Check me.”

His flashlight continued roving the depths of my car, breaking up his sentences as he divided his attention between what he was saying and whatever insidious contraband for which he eagerly searched. It shined into my eyes, down to my feet, straight into John’s and Mr. Sir’s faces. New flashing red lights arrived, reflecting off the rear-view mirror, and then there were a few more cops comically/cautiously nearing, elbows bent and hands twitching near hip-mounted gun holsters — while yet more approached the car, and us perps, from a different direction, suggesting they were not from the arriving/flashing car behind me. Perhaps they were on foot and/or bike? Northampton, MA has a few bike cops, because it is a very dangerous town. In all I counted ten cops, which suggests some of them had to be on bike or foot, as there were only two police cars; ONLY. I amused myself by picturing them all tumbling out of a single cruiser clown-style, while we waited. And waited.

“Go ahead. Check me. I give you my full permission. I had one small, over-priced 3$ bottle of water.”

I had handed over my license and registration, and so I added, “Run my license. I have a clean record. Perfectly clean.”

Me and my homies. Werd.

Throughout all of this both Mr. Sir and John had been staring straight ahead, neither saying a word. They seemed oddly immobile, and even possibly nervous, which surprised me because one does not get arrested for running a yellow light. And that’s when it hit me — this, the two police cars, the ten policemen in total circling my car with flashlights, the lights GLARINGLY flashing, all of it — this is what happens to them, this is what they expect and are what they are used to, even for more minor “transgressions” than running yellow lights. This was a nearly inconsequential example of what it is like to be them, to be viewed with what seems an awful lot like an assumption of guilt, rather than an assumption of innocence, or an assumption of neither.

Were I, a white woman, alone, and had that light actually been red, I sorta doubt there would have been an extra police car and a few extra foot cops. I felt angry, embarrassed to be white, sad, and resigned. With the crowd waiting and watching from the sidewalk across the street — likely thinking this was some serious shit going down and someone was about to be cuffed and taken away, due to the sheer number of cops and cars — I felt shamed, demoralized, furious. I am grateful that I am not made to feel this way on a regular basis, but there are those for whom this is a way of life simply by virtue of their appearance and it begins at birth.

NOTE: Neither of my passengers wore gang colors, do-rags, or saggy pants; both were securely belted, seat belt and otherwise. Neither of them wore face paint or wielded bows and arrows. There were no battle calls, tomahawks, guns, knives, glassine packets, glassy eyes, or vicious dogs involved. No test tubes, scales, suitcases full of cash (else I might have had an adult-sized bottle of water at the bar, or even two), there was no cloud of smoke in the car, no odor, and no lawyers on board.

I forget what the blue-eyed cop with the fair and enviable baby-smooth skin said next, but before he walked back to his car to run my license I found myself blurting/explaining, “Look. My friend here had one beer at the Art Bank, and he works at ____. And this is our friend visiting from Santa Fe, who is a musician and artist. I think he had one beer as well.  We went to see a high school friend’s band and now we are tired and on our way home. That is all.”

The accessories make the scofflaw.

My young, fair, blond, blue-eyed cop joined the bulk of the group of now TEN cops — well, he joined five of them; four were in front, ostensibly keeping an eye on us, while the rest had gathered behind the car. I watched in the rear view mirror while they discussed “the matter”  for 20 minutes. Does it take that long to run a check? For 20 minutes we sat and waited, and I kept an eye on them in the rear view mirror as they discussed us while facing my car from the back. There seemed to be some brainstorming going on as they chatted back and forth, while looking at my car, at us, back at each other, some chin stroking going on, some harsh reproving glances, more chatting, and then FINALLY Blondie came back to my window.

“I’m going to give you a warning. This time. But [something something something] red lights [something something]“, to which I replied again, yet this time halfheartedly, “It was YELLOW“, and he nodded, handed me my license and registration, and walked away. No written warning, just a mere verbal warning.

I was a bored/exhausted nervous wreck as I pulled out back into traffic, and I had trouble seeing because of all the still-flashing lights, but then we were free, and we waved to the few dozen patrons of The Elevens still on the sidewalk as we drove off, at 5 mph.

All that for a verbal warning.

This is fucking hilarious!

The Diesel Car Repair Debacle in Greenfield, MA

Posted in Activism?, Consumer Reports, Diesel car Repair Greenfield Ma, Diesel car Repair Pioneer Valley, Homelessness, Honesty, Important Social Issues, Life is like Christopher Guest said it was with tags , , , , on August 14, 2012 by Admin

DIESEL CAR REPAIR IN THE PIONEER VALLEY (SPECIFICALLY GREENFIELD, MA) AND A NEAR ESCAPE FROM A $2800 TURN OF THE WRIST

Update: In writing this, the whole scenario began to seem less like an innocent mistake — I’m not saying it was purposeful, just that I am more alarmed because, were it me, I’d have dashed off a huge apology right away, at the very least, and probably refunded the $100 fee for the FREE consultation and quote — and so I finally decided to do what I’d not wanted to do; I wrote an honest review on Yelp. I was then told by a reader that business owners can pay for a “cleansing” of their Yelp reviews. Should that happen, the name of the business, the URL, and the address will be added to this post. That’s just not right. And I cannot find anything on yelp.com about this “option”. 

 

 

My car is 12 years old. It has like 150k miles on it. It will easily make it to 600k or more miles; diesel engines last forever and that’s why I bought it. The body is another story though, and it is expensive, and that’s why I have done the body work myself. If you have a disk sander you too can do your body work. If you catch it in time it is easy. If you let the rust build up… well, now you are a sculptor and you need to learn to use Bondo. And get a double-barrel respirator.

Anyway, it was time to get it checked for a clutch anyway but then I noticed a spot in the middle of my parking spot. I had also noticed my mileage was way down. The usual 50mpg seemed halved. or, i was getting siphoned, though I doubted that bc we have a gate on the alley where we park.

Friends had heard a radio ad for a place in Greenfield that specializes in this exact type of diesel so I started googling but came up empty-handed.  I asked around. Finally a friend said she knew of a guy who had something to do with diesels and, as he had his business in Greenfield, he might know the place for which I’d been searching. So I called, and after a funny exchange in which I became easily confused, I realized this was that place, and so I exclaimed, “OMG! YOU’RE that guy!”. I was so excited — it felt like my pal Fate had stepped in!

I arranged to go up at noon the next week and coordinate that with a friend in Greenfield I’d not seen in ages. “Great! I can drop it off and have Petunia meet me there, and you can look at it while we go for lunch!”

He insisted the entire engine scan and diagnosis would take no more than 15 minutes so we could wait and then go on to lunch, he is that fast, and that “Yes, there is no charge for the consultation and estimate.”

So, Petunia and I arrived and while we all chatted, he opened the hood, plugged in a laptop, and within minutes — less than the estimated 15 for sure — he had a diagnosis; “See this puddling around the Fuel Injection Cap? (I *think* he said cap, though I have been calling it a “Fuel Injection Thingie* all along), It’s cracked. I will have to replace it. It will be $2800: $1000 for the part and $1800 for the labor”, and “yes”, was positive.

I almost fainted. I knew I was nearly due for a new clutch, first gear was acting jiggy so I had to baby it. I’ve never owned an automatic — though, this is only the 4th car I have ever owned. I keep my car forever and take great care of them. In fact, I bought this to be the last car I would ever buy. And I knew that the clutch would be really expensive.

I tend to eat bulk seeds for the protein, corn tortillas with beans and cheese, yogurt, and scant few fresh fruits and vegetables because I have to eat within my budget. Organic fruits and vegetables are a splurge. Only when I have a dinner party do I buy fish or chicken and all the fixings, and they are always potluck — like many of us, there is no other way I can entertain. I economize however I can and I get all needed clothing from the free pile (most art buildings have free piles) or thrift stores. You really can find cool shoes at thrift stores, and furniture too; though I like the stuff I find discarded and fix up myself.

I’d also been driving 8 years with no air conditioning due to lack of budget, though I am of the pathetic physiology that wilts, faints even, in heat and humidity. In years past I’d often borrowed cars from friends for fancy events during heat waves so as to not arrive nauseous and drenched. The quotes I’d gotten for the AC fix were all in the $1200 range. And my medical co-pays for the degenerative spinal disorder were adding up faster than I could pay them, and I have appointments a lot.

He advised that I not drive it as it was leaking fuel so I left the car at his shop and said I would call when I figured out how to get the cash, as credit cards are not accepted at this place. There is no cash discount either, BTW, which I found odd as so many other places do offer a cash discount, especially if you pay up front. I find cash is generally negotiable in these parts. So, I planned to get the cash somehow and then write a check because while I tend to be overly-trusting, cash freaks me out. I said I would call when I was sure. It is one thing to put a charge onto a card, but taking a cash advance is a whole different story, often (in the case of my credit card’s terms) with interest rates at 19.99%. I was a wreck.

As he was the acquaintance (albeit not seen for decades) of a friend, I not only trusted him but forced, absolutely FORCED, a deposit on him. I had taken all the cash I could get my hands on, $150, and pressed it on him as both deposit and show of good faith.

Petunia and I went o grab a bite and she generously drove me home, which was a rather long drive.

But then.. friends stepped in — as I told various friends about this quote they all had the same reaction… they were all very suspicious. Every one of them suggested I get a second opinion and most were certain that I could actually drive the car in the meantime. I’d not been leaving a trail of fuel, it had just puddled once in my driveway, and that after sitting for a few days. One knew him from when he worked for Justin (with whom he said he is no longer in contact) in The Arts and Industry Building in Florence, MA where I used to have a studio; — Justin is THE guy who invented the Grease Car, i.e., cars running on Vegetable Oil — doing conversions from diesel to vegetable oil, in what is now evidently called, “Renewable-fuels transportation”,  and he smirked, saying,  “I would definitely get another quote.”

One pal, Mr. Sir, suggested I call his son who is a student at an area Technical Institute and also suggested the quote (which I’d received via email and forwarded to him) seemed “off”. The advice was 100% in favor of getting a second opinion, including one from a retired mechanic.

So I called the Diesel Repair Place in Greenfield and told the guy I had no choice but to have my car towed to the Tech Institute because it was that or starve. He let out a long “OOOoooof”. I apologized, I explained I had thus far come up empty-handed and had no way to get the money. He said he understood, that he too was struggling, that though the business pulled in 100-something k annually in gross income, what was left for him was under the poverty level, that he had no health insurance, mortgage woes (I rent, BTW, and will for life). I apologized more, explained more that I could not manufacture money. It was a very uncomfortable conversation and I felt I should not have had to endure it, to be honest.

I called back, as arranged, with the exact date and time AAA would come to tow the car. As he made no mention of the deposit I finally had to ask for it. He said well, he had done the scan and had to work up the invoice (the one he’d practically bragged about doing in less than 15 minutes). I countered with the fact that it had been done while I waited and he said well, he had taken some time to put the data into the template and print it, to which I replied that it had come via email. Finally I said, “Look, I was under the impression that this was a free consultation. If you could find it in your heart to return it, even a portion of it, I would be grateful. I know my car has been sitting on your lot for days on end but then, you do have the space and it could only help to make your shop look busy, right?”

When I went to wait with the car while AAA came I found 50$ in the center console. he had collected $100 for the free consultation and for my car being in his lot — his big, mostly empty, lot.

To make a long story short — the Fuel Injection Thingie was NOT cracked; it was merely a loose bolt, and it had taken the kid 5 minutes to ascertain as much. In one twist, he saved me $2800.

For another $1200 the kid also replaced the engine mount clips (which are evidently important and which the Greenfield due had missed), fixed the AC, replaced the clutch (well, i put the clutch itself on my credit card, as we went clutch shopping together), cleaned out the air intake valve, replaced the timing belt, and replaced or fixed the brake sensors.

I emailed the diesel repair guy in Greenfield and told him how it had merely been a lose bolt and heard nothing in return. Months later I emailed him again, telling him I felt torn about writing an honest review of my experience on Yelp so as to not wonder if others would have a similar experience, and wondered if he had anything to say or even had any feelings about the whole thing, asking him what would he have done had he noticed the loose bolt, or if he’d not have noticed and just replaced it anyway for $2800. I said I felt especially upset at having paid $100 for a free estimate while nearly being wiped out financially in the process, and felt I was entitled to it’s return. His reply? He was being evicted and would get back to me as soon as he settled in anew place. That was months ago. Google tells me is still High and dry in Greenfield, MA.

SUMMARY: Go to a tech school. Or at least always get a second opinion. And beware places that don’t accept credit cards (Do they really take something like 20%, as I was told?).

And if you live in the Greenfield, Ma or Pioneer Valley area and drive a diesel, email me and I will tell you where to go, or not.

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