Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A Whole 'Nother World

I needed to make a trip to Georgetown, DE to obtain a document necessary for the sale of our mobile home, the Li’l Retro Getaway (or LRG for short). Since the office is not open on the weekends, I had to take a day off to go there. Since the LRG’s yard still had leaves and twigs from last Fall, I thought it would be nice if I cleaned that up for the buyer, since I had to be up there anyway.

I chose today to accomplish these tasks because the weather was going to be superb! I am so tired of rain, overcast skies, and cool temperatures – I am ready for Spring! Since Joe was unable to come with me, last night I headed up to the shore in my convertible.

This morning I was greeted by the brilliant sunshine! After a quick breakfast, I headed over to the LRG to get started. The thermometer on my car read 56 degrees at 9am, so I started my leaf raking with a fleece jacket on. A few minutes later I took it off and continued raking and collecting dead branches that had fallen from a huge tree on some windy day, breaking them into pieces small enough to fit inside a plastic ‘lawn and leaf’ bag. I finished everything in about an hour and a half. ‘Not bad’ I thought to myself. Then I congratulated myself on saving at least $50, because had I opted to call some yard service to come and clean up the yard, that’s what I would likely have had to pay. But I did it myself because I had to be up there anyway for the document.

When I had packed everything up I took a ‘last look’ at the LRG and felt a bit melancholy. I thought ‘This is the last time I’ll clean up this yard.’ When the moment had passed I thought how odd it was that the moment had struck me then. I mean, I would have expected it when we had moved all of the furniture out and had gone back to clean. I would have expected it on one of those visits to show the place to a potential buyer. But no – it was when I had finished cleaning the yard that I felt nostalgic. I didn’t expect that.

After tossing the leaf bags into the dumpster I checked the thermometer again: 61 degrees. I decided to put my fleece jacket back on and put the top down! The sun was shining to beat the band and I couldn’t resist. I drove back to the beach house to shower and change clothes, and then headed over to Georgetown.

My first surprise was that there was lots of free parking in front of all of the County buildings in Georgetown. In the county where I live, there is very little parking and it is not free. You literally have to pay the county to park while you attend to county business.

Unsure which building I needed to be in, I walked into the closest one and explained the nature of my need to the lady behind the counter. She was very nice and smiled as she directed to the building across the way. “You have a nice day,” she said. When I got to the office I needed, I was again surprised that there were no theatre ropes creating a maze for people to wind through before getting help. Nope, just 3 chairs. I waited perhaps 2 minutes at the longest for the person already at the counter to finish. I walked up, stated my business, and within 5 minutes had obtained my document. Fabulous!

The kind lady concluded our conversation by asking if there was anything else she could do for me. I decided to pull a ‘Rachel Ray’. On her TV show “$40. A Day” Rachel goes to different towns for sightseeing and such, and tries to eat all 3 meals for $40. She always says that when in an unfamiliar town, ask the locals. So I replied, “Yes, I have one more question. Where would be a nice little spot for me to have lunch?” Where I live, the county employee would not have known what to say because they’d be so shocked to have normal human interaction. But this gal didn’t miss a beat. “Smith’s, right around the corner is good” she told me. I smiled and thanked her for all her help.

Since I was parked in a 30-minute spot I decided to move my car, thinking lunch might exceed that time limit. So I drove around the corner to Smith’s and was surprised yet again to find a parking place (no meter) right in front of the restaurant. Was this just my lucky day?

I walked inside and stopped at the counter where a woman was ringing up someone’s check. ‘Now that’s something you don’t see everyday’ I thought to myself, ‘someone whose job it is to just ring up guest checks. All the restaurants around here require you to pay the server, which means waiting for the server to cash out the check and return your change, while taking other people’s orders and bringing out their food.

When the payers had left the cash register lady looked at me and asked, “Are you waiting for someone?” “No” I replied, “it’s just me today.” “Oh, well you can just sit down anywhere you want, Hon” she directed me. I loved that! I got to pick my own table and she called me Hon!

Within 4 seconds of me sitting down, my waitress Donna arrived. (Don’t call her a ‘server’. Smith’s has waitresses.) She handed me a plastic-enclosed menu and a Xeroxed sheet of paper with the day’s specials on it. “What are ya drinkin’” she asked me. It sounded like something you should hear from a bartender. I told her, and looked at the specials. I couldn’t believe how inexpensive the food was. In a flash she was back with my drink and asked if I needed another minute. I ordered the pork barbeque special, with potato salad and cole slaw. At only $4.95 I was skeptical.

I looked around the restaurant to check out the local flavor. The first thing that struck me was that all the waitresses and table busers were Caucasian. Where I live, it is much more common to find restaurant workers who are Hispanic. Then I looked around at the other diners. There were blue-haired retired-looking ladies lunching, there were lots of blue-collar workers, there was a black couple with two kids, and there were professional-looking men in suits and women in slacks with blouses. Before I could finish my survey of the restaurant, my food arrived! “Wow, that was fast,” I said to Donna. “Yes it was” she replied with a smile.

My pork barbeque sandwich was delicious; chunks of pork in a tangy sauce on a warm sesame seed bun. The potato salad and cole slaw were terrific too, and homemade, I’m sure. I don’t think Smith’s gets those 5 gallon buckets of already made potato salad and cole slaw from one of those big food distributors. That just wouldn’t be their style. This tasted really good and homemade.

My lunch and drink came to $6.20 and since there is no sales tax in DE, the bill really was $6.20. I left $2.00 on the table for Donna, which was more than the standard 20% tip, but the prices were so low that I didn’t feel I should just leave 20%. Besides, I liked Donna. So I took my check up to the cash register lady, paid my bill, and hopped in my car. I was in pure Nirvana as I drove back toward home: top down, music blaring, spirits soaring.

I guess I should have thought about sunscreen before I left the beach house, but I didn’t. I have such a fair complexion that I really shouldn’t be out in the sun without at least some SPF. When I got into DC and slowed down, I noticed that my face was feeling hot. I didn’t even think about it while I was zooming down the road with the wind keeping my face cool. But when I stopped at the first traffic light in DC I could tell: I was sunburned. As I type this now my face is really REALLY hot. But I don’t regret it. I had a fabulous ride. But I do need to be more careful so I don’t wind up with skin cancer.

In just a few minutes it will be time for American Idol.


Spencer said...

being a gay boy you would think I would have loved american idol last night but as randy would say "it was alright dawg im not mad"
it didn't do anything for me any of them I wouldnt have a clue who to give the boot too.
I think scott did the best but who knows what do you think?

take me for a ride in your car! :)

Spencer said...

You ready for tonight Mark? Getting good!