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September 2014: The Dole Truth and Nothing But...

Posted on September 14, 2014 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Good friends afforded us the opportunity to spend the night in a luxurious room on the 26th floor of a Hilton resort for our 27th anniversary recently. Overlooking the magnificent San Diego bay, the view from our room was spectacular. As a matter of fact, I was mesmerized.

“What on earth are you looking at for so long?” Pepper asked.

“That Dole barge loading and unloading trailers!” I exclaimed.

“What are you talking about?” she said, incredulously. “The only things that would keep you so engrossed are a fist fight or a couple making out on the lawn.

The whole thing was a fascinating mystery to me. First, did anyone realize that we had a huge Dole factory on the waterfront? What is this, Hawaii?! And, what exactly was going on with the loading and unloading. Were the pineapples coming from Hawaii and being loaded off into the factory? And then canned products being loaded back onto the barge? And who knew pineapples were so popular?!

This went on all night. I know, because I was there at my post every couple of hours to witness the crane going up and down and line of semis hauling trailers driving up to the barge to be loaded. And others driving back from the barge to spaces where the trailers were parked in precision lines.

The company must employee hundreds, I thought. Day, evening and graveyard shifts. Drivers, dock workers, canners and pineapple crushers. My head was spinning.

“I told you not to drink that second champagne split,” Pepper said.

“No, seriously. Don’t you find this all a little odd?”

“You, yes. A working factory not so much.”

But, why pineapples? I could see apples or tomatoes or even oranges. But do people eat that much pineapple? I’ve seen them at buffets, sliced and placed like tiny memorial wreaths on dried up ambrosia salads. Crazy people even put them on their pizzas. But, I honestly can’t remember when I had pineapple except the few times I’ve been to Hawaii. Yet, the industry is obviously booming. Or is it?

“It’s a front!” I screamed, waking Pepper up. “It’s a drug cartel and this Dole thing is the perfect cover!”

“I’m calling the police,” Pepper murmured, half asleep.

“Not yet!” I said. “I haven’t figured everything out.”

“Oh, I’m not calling about the innocent Dole factory. It’s about the crazy woman who broke into my room, plastered herself to the picture window and is making bizarre claims.”

Pineapples are rare. They’re like coconuts. But, no, you don’t see trucks and barges and trailers allegedly filled with coconuts, do you? Of course not. All I can say is that something was fishy and it wasn’t the seafood nets.

“How was your stay?” the clerk asked as we checked out.

“It was very nice,” I said. “But the noise from the…factory…kept us up a bit.”

“Ah, yes,” he said. “The Dole factory.”

“Yes, the ‘Dole’ factory. How about that place?” I asked eyeing him for a hint of a tell-tale sign that my suspicions were correct.

“The company is huge! They have operations in 90 countries and over 75,000 employees. They supply fresh fruit from Hawaii and South America.”

“South America! Yeah!” I said, kicking Pepper. “Probably Colombia, right?”

“All over, I’m sure,” he replied, handing me the portfolio. “Do you ladies need anything else? Directions?”

“Yes,” Pepper said. “Where is the nearest psychiatric hospital?”

“So, I suppose you serve pineapple juice in the restaurant, right?” I continued.

“Uh, no. I don’t think so. Orange. Cranberry. Apple. The usual,” he replied.

“Exactly!” I blurted out. “No coconut juice either, I bet!”

We were pretty sleepy on our drive home, so we hardly spoke.

“You know,” Pepper finally said. “If you happen to tell anyone that we didn’t get much sleep last night, let them think it was for obvious reasons. Don’t mention anything about the stakeout of the Dole factory.”

-30-

 

August 2014: You Talkin' to Me?

Posted on August 3, 2014 at 3:05 AM Comments comments (0)

It occurred to me as I mentally burned a hole in the face of the driver who was blocking the driveway as I was attempting to exit a strip mall that there are things we do righteously behind the wheel that we would never do as pedestrians.

Can you imagine coming up behind someone ambling along in front of you and hovering so close you could see the hairs on the back of their neck standing up?

“Can I help you?” you might ask.

“You’re moving way too slow,” the offender replies.

“So you thought you’d piggy-back me to help me move faster?”

Or having someone trying to hurriedly cross your path and instead of just letting them, you speed up.

“No, no, no,” you say as you get up to a full trot. “Not getting away with that today. No sir. Uh-uh!”

Let’s get back to those blockheads blocking the driveway? Can you imagine someone standing in front of a doorway so you couldn’t pass?

“Uh, excuse me. I need to get through.”

“I was here first.”

“I see that, but you’re not moving and I need to pass through.”

“Should have thought of that when you got up this morning.”

“You do realize you’re a Neanderthal, right?

“Racist!”

Something about the power behind the wheel of a two-ton machine makes us think we’re Hercules, when, in fact, we are Pee Wee Herman.

Many years ago when I was younger, thinner and had a fraction of the sense I do now, I had an incident on a city street with two women in a convertible. Pepper, Janice and I were making our way across the street in the crosswalk when said chicks entered the intersection in their fancy schmancy car. Apparently, we weren’t moving fast enough for them. Perhaps there was a sale on silicone at Boobs R Us they needed to get to, I don’t know. In any case, they nudged their car into us in an effort to hurry us along. When I turned and gave the WTF?! look, the driver foolishly piped up.

“It’s not like you couldn’t use the exercise,” she called out as she sped away, long hair floating in the wind, laughing all the way.

“Take this,” I said to Pepper, handing her my carefully wrapped carton of Boston Crème pie.

Quite instinctively and with no real plan, I took off down the street in hot pursuit of the ditzy twins. Perhaps like a mother whose child is trapped under a dump truck or a person running into a burning building while everyone else is exiting, I was suddenly possessed with equal amounts of super human strength and lack of reason or prudence.

As fate would have it, the stoplight turned redder than my face and while the giggling gals pulled up to the stop, I miraculously caught up to the car. Like that hold Hertz commercial, I flew into the backseat and tapped Miss Thing on the shoulder.

“Did you have something to say to me?!” I sneered.

The only thing whiter than her face at that moment was the pasty thighs of her gal pal. They shrieked in unison, only to become frozen and fixed in place.

“I didn’t think so,” I snapped, as I calmly exited the way I came, walking back to Pepper and Janice, eyes wide and mouths agape.

“My pie, please,” I said.

So the moral of today’s story is: just like that box of chocolates Forrest’s mother gave him, you never know what kind of nut you’re going to get. So do yourself a favor and slow your roll. We’ll all get wherever we’re going sooner or later and, if you’re smart, all in one piece.

 -30-

October 2013: Autocrack

Posted on October 3, 2013 at 3:30 AM Comments comments (0)

au•to•ma•tion (ô t -m sh n) n. 1. The automatic operation or control of equipment, a process, or a system. 2. The techniques and equipment used to achieve automatic operation or control. 3. The condition of being automatically controlled or operated.

For the most part, automation is supposed to be our friend. It makes our lives easier. Redial on the phone is a good thing. It comes in really handy when you’re calling into a radio station to win that prize. Traffic signals that sense the flow of traffic so you don’t have to stop at 2 am when no one is in sight is sweet. And, well, that’s about it for me. Automation is my nemesis.

Piddling after you’ve piddled – Yes, yes, of course. We all want to save water. But, those automatic water faucets at public restrooms are for the birds—literally. Dutifully washing my hands, I haven’t even gotten to F in the alphabet when the thing turns off. And the soap spits out a fraction of Brylcreem’s ‘little dab’ll do ya.’

“No soap for you! Next!” sprays the water-Nazi.

I’ve tried to defeat it by waving my left hand in front of the sensor while my right hand stands by. Try washing and soaping one handed. Suddenly I’m a Tim Conway skit.

Keep moving, nothing to see here - The cousin of the faucet fascist is Otto Flusher. Not to get into any graphic detail but I want to make sure everything is as Dr. Oz says it should be. Can I just take a quick peek?

“Swoooooooosh!”

I’m not even upright yet and it’s all gone. What if I was one of those gals who just gave birth at the prom? How would I know? Sometimes, I’m just adjusting myself a bit on the seat and swoooooosh! Move along sister!

Once I just entered the stall and was prepping the area with a seat cover and--floop! My sunglasses fell off my face and were sucked into a mad spiral. Before I could snatch them back, they were on their way out to sea.

I have been doing this potty thing since I was 2, I think I can handle the timing myself, thank you very much.

Auto-crack – This texting feature was undoubtedly designed for the Gen-Y’s who can’t spell, can’t add—what do you do? But, really. It’s like trying to tell a story and having a control-freak in the group who can’t wait and has to fill in the blanks. I know what I want to say, let me finish!

 

Me: Sheady, what would you like for d-i-n-t-e-r?

 

Siri: Steady, what would you like for dinner?

 

Me: No, twit. It’s ‘Sheady” and “dinter.” It’s a joke between us. It’s a Madea thang.

 

Siri: Naudea thing.

 

Then, of course, there are the messages that can get a boy in a lot of trouble.

Me: Cory, do you need me to pick you up?

 

Cory: No, Mum. Emily will give me a rise.

 

Me: TMI, son.

 

Cory: A ‘ride!’ A ride! Damn autocorrect!

 

I’m sure I’ve left out amazing automation that has benefitted man and womankind. They just don’t come to mind while I'm freakishly waving my hands under a paper towel dispenser that is not automatic. But, I do have some thoughts of my own. I’d paid handsomely for a device on my coffee cup that senses tension and automatically squirts a shot of Kahlua.

-30-

 

July 2013: Emancipation Day

Posted on July 14, 2013 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

FROM JUDY LANE

FOR RELEASE: JULY 2013

“EMANCIPATION DAY”

LIFE IN THE JUDY LANE by Judy Lane

WORD COUNT: 1245

Any day now, my 13-year old daughter Shea will emancipate herself from her parents. At least that's what I would do if I were her.

Aside from the typical things parents do to embarrass their kids like speak and breathe, I have gone above and beyond. Not since my father chased the public bus down, pounded on the door till it opened and threw a Jethro-sized brown paper bag at me at the back of the bus shouting, "Joooooody! You fohgot your lahnch! has a parent consistently behaved in a way that would make a lesser child consider hopping a freight train east.

From taking the kids to school on a holiday, to jokingly telling them I wasn’t their real mother, I am guilty of crimes against children.

“You are our real mother!” 5-year old Cory and 3-year old Shea protested.

“No, I’m not,” I continued. “I’m just watching you for her till she gets home.”

To seal the deal, when the waitress commented “what sweet kids you have!” I replied, “Oh, they’re not mine. I’m just watching them.”

After that, I took them to the arcade for about an hour or more and never put a cent in. They were "playing" against the loop that goes around and around until you actually put a coin in and start a game. I finally shouted out, "Let’s go kids! What am I made of money?!”

Who knew the kids would have such steel-trap memories. They still bring this up after 10 years. I see it as my small contribution to Shea’s memoirs and Cory’s stand-up routine.

My latest infraction may have sealed the deal, however.

I’m well known for getting lost on a good day. I have the sense of direction of an avalanche victim.

"Am I up or down or--wait, maybe if I spit..."

Those “You are here,” dots on signs at the mall are useless.

“Where the flippin’ hell is “here?!” I scream.

I rarely get to a practice or meet or game on time for either kid because I somehow get discombobulated on my way.

"Those directions are whack!" I invariably scream as I come barreling up, out of breath, drenched in sweat, 20 minutes late amidst every other parent who had the same directions and arrived in time to get situated comfortably with a cold drink in hand and nary a drop down their respective butt cracks.

After years of Shea’s involvement in softball, I am just getting to the point where I don’t call practice “rehearsal” or uniforms “costumes.”

“When is intermission?” I asked a parent next to me. “I could use a nice drink.”

And all along, Shea has handled it with grace and good humor. Of course, Alfred Hitchcock was quietly plotting ways to murder his father that turned into Oscar-winning scripts, so you never know.

We scheduled Shea for softball camp at UCLA this summer. She would get to practice and play with world champions, eating and living in the dorms like a college kid. We had this planned for months. I carefully read the instructions of what to pack, where to park, and printed each piece of paper, putting it in folders for us and Aunt Patti who was scheduled to pick her up on the last day, while Pepper and I would drop her off for “Opening Ceremonies.”

The night before she was scheduled to leave, she was packing her bag, using the check-list I prepared.

“Nothing to worry about,” she said tentatively. “But I have a fever, chills, sore throat and possibly diphtheria.”

“What?!” I shrieked.

“So much for not worrying, Mama. I’m gonna be fine. Look, if I have to go on a stretcher, I’m going to softball camp,” she said as I filled her with Emergen-C, Tylenol, hydrogen peroxide, Windex and a little smudging for good measure.

The next morning she popped out of bed like a firefighter, dressed and ready to go. I had point-by-point directions on my phone and we headed out hours earlier than the 1:00 pm check in time.

The traffic was a nightmare as we navigated our way through freeways under construction, detours and just a bumper-to-bumper ride to Westwood. We arrived at 12:40 p.m. Early! Not enough time for lunch, but for once, not late.

I left Pepper and Shea on a bench outside the check-in area while I foraged for a sandwich or snack I could get for Shea to tide her over. Inside the building, I found myself swimming upstream against swarms of young ladies dressed in “UCLA Softball” t-shirts, squealing, laughing, skipping and otherwise reveling. Obviously, I thought to myself, there was a camp prior to Shea’s that was underway or wrapping up by the looks of the camaraderie amongst the girls.

I returned to Pepper and Shea to see one noticeably upset and the other stifling a laugh, respectively.

“We’re 3 hours late. Check-in was 10 a.m., not 1:00 p.m.!” Pepper said, exasperated.

If there was a super power that allowed you to instantaneously combust, your body disintegrating into a pile of dust on the floor, I would choose that one.

“It’s fine, Mama,” Shea said, noticing the look of horror on my face.

We rushed to find “who’s in charge?!” which was like asking to see the “supervisor” at a Girls Gone Wild Party. Finally after sometime, we ran into one of the UCLA softball coaches, who generously took Shea under her wing—probably seeing the wisdom in snatching up this poor mocha-latte, skinned young girl from these big, crazed white women.

“It’s all fine,” Shea continued sweetly, as she kissed each of us good bye.

“It’s not that bad,” Pepper assured me.

No, it wasn’t that bad. There was a grand opening ceremony, where pictures were taken and posted on Facebook for friends and family to see back in New Zealand. Signature t-shirts and lanyards distributed. Normal parents standing by watching their girl’s rite of passage, as they were broken up into teams, partnered up with roommates.

And, Shea? She was hurriedly trying to catch up, grabbing lunch in a packed cafeteria in five minutes, staking out a bed and dresser and reporting for practice on the field. By now, the energy between the rest of the girls was palpable. They were already blood sisters, sucking pricked fingers as they raced through the corridors, arms locked. Tattoos of each other’s names and “BFF” emblazoned on their arms. And, still others had pet names for each other and were busy making lists of who they hated. No, it wasn’t that bad.

At the end of her stay, Aunt Patti managed to pick her up at the correct time, took pictures at closing ceremonies, even one with three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Lisa Fernandez. When we were reunited, Shea was still talking to us. So, I guess Pepper was right. It wasn’t that bad. All’s well that ends well and all that, right?

“So what do you think, Shea?” I asked her last night. “You think you could get used to college life? Playing softball at UCLA or some other place?”

“Oh, yeah. Definitely. I can’t wait. That all-you-can eat cafeteria was awesome! And, don’t worry. I saw a bus stop outside the dorm so I can get myself there.”

                                                                      -30-

COPYRIGHT 2013 JUDY LANE

11252 Willowwood Drive, San Diego, CA 92127 http://www.lifeinthejudylane.com

Lotto Gods

Posted on December 16, 2012 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Twice a week I go to bed with visions of mega millions dancing in my pretty head. On most Tuesdays and Fridays I buy a chance or two in a bazillion to win the top prize. I know full well that I am more likely to be struck by lightning while dancing on the head of a pin with Prince on New Year’s Eve in Dubai than to win. But, hey it’s a certainty that I won’t win if I don’t play. And, more importantly, I’d like to believe in a miracle even for just a few minutes while I drift off to sleep.

When I was a little girl studying my Catechism and working my way through the holy sacraments as my Irish Catholic mother orchestrated, I was certain there was a God. And, that he knew everything I was doing day and night—kinda like a thinner, less jovial Santa, only you got your rewards for being nice on Christmas Day, whereas the Chief would be meeting you at the pearly gates hopefully many, many years down the line to make you pay.

“If you do something bad with your hands, your hands will burn in Hell,” Sister Mary Nevercrackedasmile chided us in religious instruction class. “If you read something bad, your eyes will burn in hell...” and so on ad infinitum, ipso facto, mea culpa, bella canto and Bella Lugosi.

As my seven-year old brain processed this prospect, I was certain I was going to simply instantaneously combust in a ball of flames with just ashes in my saddle shoes where a lively, curious little girl once stood.

An older brother or two dispelled the myths of Santa and God long before I wanted or was ready to decide one way or the other for myself. Pretending to believe in the old fat guy got me an extra present for a few more years. The other was a bit more challenging.

I went from believing, to doubting, to questioning to finding it all a bit hard to swallow. Much like the Holy Host that I instinctively threw up at the altar to the dismay of my family and rage and utter disgust of the aforementioned nun. Like ghosts, of which I have actually had personal experiences, the whole God/son of God theory was in the category one of life’s unanswered questions. Like how is it possible that the Kardashians are so popular for doing absolutely nothing? It is what it is--whether I believe or not.

But, unlike the Kardashian conundrum, people feel the need to make you pick a side. Either you believe or you don’t. Republican or Democrat. Straight or Gay. One Direction or NSync. What if you’re right in the middle? You don’t really believe but you’re not ready to throw it all out with little Moses’ bath water.

Back in the 80s, when I lost my mother, younger brother and father within a few years, I prayed. Prayed to believe. To attain that comfort that believing in God or Jesus or something seemed to bring to other people who did have faith. But, I could no more believe in one man creating and overseeing all this wonder than in Santa Claus. It just was what it was. And so I carried my grief, powering through each day until it didn’t sting as much.

When 911 happened, I was horrified and sad and shocked by what I saw--just like every other American. Once again I prayed. To believe. To get some of that comfort people talk about. At the same time, I was struck by how much overwhelming fear there was considering that 90% of Americans believe in God. I was heartbroken but I wasn’t afraid. I couldn’t understand why people didn’t feel safe in the knowledge that when it’s your time, it’s your time? That God will gather you up in his loving arms and take you into the afterlife. Etcetera, etcetera, veni, vidi, vici, semper fi!

Now with the recent horrifying tragedy in Connecticut, if you have to wonder--why is God so pissed off?!

“God works in mysterious ways,” a friend reminded me.

Mysterious, indeed! Maniacal is more the word that comes to mind. What kind of cruel joke is this guy/gal pulling on all of these faithful worshipers, particularly young, innocent children?

In 1968, when we first moved to California, my father would read the Bible to us in the evenings since we did not have a TV to entertain us. He would always close the book with the same comment.

“Dis is all just a wery good story. Det’s all. A good story.”

Some story. Makes Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy look like Sesame Street.

When I lost my sister a couple of years ago, I was again struck with what to do with all the pain and grief. Couldn’t I just give it up to somebody? Something?

Then it dawned on me that as much as I don’t believe, I really don’t know. So, in the interest of drifting off happily—if only for a couple of nights a week--now I lay me down to sleep with stacks of green bouncing around my brain. And the prospect that maybe, just maybe, I will see my parents, sister and brother again and we can all dance on the head of pin with Prince…


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