The Eagle is Grounded

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The Eagle is Grounded – A very large gentleman, perhaps in is fifties, hobbled out of his ranch home, down the single step and onto the driveway. I pushed the front seat back all way to enable him to have as much room as possible. He was on his way to the doctor, and that is not unusual. Transportation back and forth to medical appointments is a common use for rideshare. This particular gentleman shared that he was a linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles in the mid-80’s but his career was not long. He played just a few years. He then hit hard times and became a corrections officer, and somehow contracted a bacterial infection which became so severe that his leg was amputated above his knee. He admitted he was in pain, and this visit to the doctor was to determine what action could be taken next. The infection seems to have not been stopped and he said they are discussing additional amputation.

There wasn’t anything I could do to help this man, but he seemed kind and in need of some good news. I hope he finds it and recovers to enjoy a bit of his life.

Champagne Girls

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Champagne Girls – Time: 8:45 AM, Friday morning after Thanksgiving. Location: Buckhead, just north of downtown Atlanta. I answered the chime to pick up two females. I had some difficulty locating them, but after a few moments, they stumbled into the nearby parking lot. When they piled into the backseat, the car was enhanced with an odor that mixed stale smoke and a urinal with an exhausted freshen disc. Destination? 50 miles north…50 miles equates to at least 45 minutes in the best of traffic. Fortunately, the Friday morning after Thanksgiving is as slow a traffic window as possible in Atlanta.

All was acceptable until they spoke. “My friend doesn’t get out much. She’s got a ten and twelve-year old at home.” Wow. My first judgment was that neither was old enough to drink. Wrong.

“Did you have a good Thanksgiving?” That seemed an appropriate and safe question.

“Did we f….ng ever! You know, we’re not cheap drunks. We’re what you call champagne drunks. There’s a difference, you know?”

“I didn’t. Thanks for the information.”

“$!@^&*(!# %!W^^!”

That introduced me to 45 minutes of a new education in foul word combinations that I never imagined. They laughed. They shared their opinions on some of their acquaintances, all interspersed with expletives that were not fit for a prison cell. Perhaps not even solitary confinement. I located their destination which was one of their homes and they dragged themselves out of the car and stood erect at the garage door, giggling and chatting like death row inmates granted a few more moments of a stay of execution. They weren’t home yet until they walked in that door. I left them in glee.

Emergency? Call Rideshare

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Emergency? Call Rideshare – Two figures clung to each other as they stood outside an apartment building. At first, I judged them to be males. The taller one wore a crisp black eyepatch and had an arm wrapped around the stockier, shorter companion. As they stepped forward, the arm now provided more support as the second figure grimaced in pain. The right leg was askew and trailed behind the move to my car. After several moments, they both had maneuvered into the backseat, but not without a few squawks of pain.

Onward to our destination. I then learned my riders were mother and daughter, with the mother wearing the eyepatch which she earned during a fight at a bar while playing billiards. They laughed as she recounted the episode. Full body laughs, chortles, with an occasional pause for the mother to swig from her flask.

Meanwhile, the daughter spoke several times about how she received her injury, but her thoughts were convoluted. She fell? Someone fell onto her? A large dog? The dog jumped onto her and pushed her over, then someone fell onto her? The dog? The mother? I never was sure what happened but was certain it was very funny. It had to be. They laughed all the way to the hospital, until the pair hobbled together through the sliding glass doors that opened for them. The daughter’s right leg below the knee dragged at a severe angle.

* * *

I continue to rise before dawn each morning and embark on my day’s adventures. It is a rare occasion when I return home without at least one memorable ride. Humorous. Peculiar. Even dangerous at times. Always unpredictable. But I must ask. When you next have an urgent need for transportation for a medical emergency, would you dial 9-1-1 or choose Rideshare? (Keep in mind – I believe an ambulance will have an open container regulation.)

Christy or Anna

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Christy or Anna – Not sure. As drivers, we are only provided with a first name, or initials. I’ve driven several people who identify only by one letter, and two “DRs” who did happen to be doctors. But I have had the privilege of driving one young lady a few times who has two names. I first met Christy, or Anna at a woman’s shelter. She’s in her early twenties or so is my guess and works as a server in an upscale breakfast restaurant. She explained she was Anna, not Christy but that was the name under which she ordered the ride.

After that, I picked up the same young lady, still identified as Christy on the rideshare app, but now she had moved and was renting a room in a much improved neighborhood. She explained that the lodging at the shelter was not that comfortable, and she was only permitted to stay for a limited time. Anyhow, her new digs were awesome.

I’ve never asked why the shelter, or why the Christy/Anna names. I still drive her on occasion, and have become a fan of the eating establishment where she is employed. I will always request her table. I know little of her past, but hope that her future is brighter. Seems she deserves it.

THE BIG RIG

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The Big Rig – I typically get an address or name of landmark to locate my passenger. On many occasions, this is a retail location or a name of a residential complex. The app pinpoints the requestor at the time of the order so even if there is a data entry error, I can locate the rider almost always by targeting their icon. The signal is sent from their mobile phone. In this instance, I had an address and icon that was in a large shopping plaza. I wasn’t worried about finding the rider since the icon was visible as soon as I entered the parking lot. As I approached the area, I only saw an idling deep-black eighteen-wheeler. A man stepped down from the rig and waved his hand. He was indeed my rider. On we went to pick up two small boxes from his post office box at one of those generic postal stores. The trip was uneventful and only about ten minutes one-way. He was an amiable man, friendly conversation, nothing out of the ordinary.

I wondered why he would request rideshare when he could have driven the short distance in the truck. The store was in a rather large shopping plaza as well and this was at 8:30 AM. Plenty of parking. I appreciated the fare and enjoyed the trip, as I do with most. But I will always question the reason. I will never have the answer. Sometimes I wonder what was in those boxes. After all, it would be my license plate and description on the video cameras. Life goes on.

The Unhealthy Trio

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The Unhealthy Trio – I’ve picked up three men who work at a plant that manufactures countertops. I’ve driven them to work a few times and wonder if there will always be three. You see, they seem to be the unhealthiest trio imaginable. First, when I pick them up, they are finishing their last puffs of cigarettes. Once in the car, they start coughing and explain they are sanders. They use sanding machines all day long and even when wearing masks and goggles, the sand permeates into their mouth, nose and eyes. They explained a cloud of dust in the plant is always present. But they cannot smoke on the plant property, and I was thinking that was probably a good thing. This explained their need for the last few nicotine doses before the ride. But then they asked to stop at the gas station for chewing tobacco because they couldn’t smoke at the factory. I obliged, but felt their path to poor health was set, and the haze of particles inside the building would likely blur any path to escape.

LAZANKI

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LAZANKI

Total time to prepare – Approximately one (1) hour. 

 – This is an old Polish or Eastern European recipe. You can use the ground meat of your choice, such as beef, pork, turkey or veal, which I used on this occasion and I prefer for this recipe. I suggest using an electric skillet but a 12-inch non-stick skillet or cast iron skillet works well, too. Serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Ground Veal or ground meat of your choice. 
  • 1 Onion – large, diced
  • 1 Green Cabbage – small, shredded
  • 12 oz. Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. Flat Egg Noodles
  • 1 Tbsp. Minced Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. Salt, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Cajun Seasoning (such as Emeril’s Essence)

Directions

  1. Place the diced onion and ground meat into a hot skillet. Brown the meat and crumble into small pieces, saute the onion. The juice from the ground meat should provide enough liquid to saute the onion. 
  2. Sprinkle 1 tbsp. salt, the pepper, cajun seasoning, and minced garlic onto the meat and onion mixture.
  3. While the meat and onion are working in the skillet, boil water in a pot for the pasta. Add the remaining 1 tbsp. salt. 
  4. Prepare the pasta to el dente. Place in a colander to drain.
  5. Boil water in a pot and add the cabbage. Boil for fifteen (15) minutes or until tender. Drain and place in a colander.
  6. Add the sliced mushrooms to the meat and onion mixture. Cover and saute for ten (10) minutes until mushrooms are tender.
  7. Add the cabbage and then noodles. Mix together and keep on low heat until all is warmed through, about three (3) minutes.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Pan-Fried Catfish or Perch

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Total time to prepare – Approximately one (1) hour includes thirty (15) minutes of time the fish is resting in the fridge. 

 – This recipe uses Cracker Meal, while most recipes use cornmeal or bread crumbs for the topping. Give this a try. I’ve been making this recipe for over fifty years and haven’t disappointed an appetite yet. My dad used to call these “Little Fishies” because the fish are sliced into smaller fillets (see photo). Serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Catfish or Perch Fillets 
  • 4 Tbsp. Canola Oil
  • 4 Eggs – Beaten with fork
  • 2 cups Cracker Meal
  • 2 cups Flour
  • Garlic Powder to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Slice perch or catfish into small fillets. The easiest pattern is to use the natural line in the middle of the fish and slice through that, and slice the remaining fillet in half if needed. 
  2. Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic powder onto the meat side of the fish.
  3. Beat eggs in container so you can dip the fish into it. Set aside.
  4. Place 2 cups of flour onto paper plate or parchment/wax paper.
  5. Place cracker meal onto paper plate or parchment paper.
  6. Place fish into flour mixture, roll about, making sure the fillet is covered. 
  7. Dip fillet into eggs, again making sure all is covered.
  8. Dip into cracker meal and cover all.  
  9. (you can repeat steps 5, 6 & 7 if you want extra breading.)
  10. Place prepared fillet onto parchment or wax paper to dry while finishing all the others.
  11. Put the prepared fillets into the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes to allow the breading to take hold.
  12. Heat oil in frying pan or electric skillet. Make sure the oil is hot.
  13. Carefully add fish, perhaps 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
  14. Remove to paper towels or wire racks to allow excess fat to drain.
  15. Serve and enjoy!

 

Aquatics, Bocce & Irene

       

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Aquatics, Bocce and Irene – I was surprised when Irene told me she was 93 years old. She walked quickly from her home to the car, and didn’t need any assistance getting onto the backseat. We were on our way to a senior care facility. At first, I misjudged that she had been visiting someone and was now on her way back home to the assisted living center. Wrong. She lived alone and was going to her Aquatics class. Tomorrow, she would play in her Bocce League. 93. Amazing. She informed me that any resident from the county could join the center. If I didn’t live in the county, she would sponsor me and the cost was only $100 per year. Thank you, Irene, for showing me there is a path to a long life that can be happy and full, even if I live alone.

SKIN SO SMOOTH

Skin So Smooth – As a driver, somehow you fall into the oddest of conversational topics. On a considerable lengthy drive of about one hour, I listened to many stories and complaints from my rider in the backseat. She was 56. I know that because she told me. She shared lots of facts about herself. One will never escape my memory.

“Mister Driver, do you know why my face doesn’t have a single wrinkle and I’m fifty-six years old?”

I readily admitted I had no guesses and knew little about creams or remedies for maintaining a youthful appearance.

“When I was just a young girl, before a teenager, my grandmother shared her beauty secret that I started using right away. And I have never stopped or skipped a treatment. And it’s free!”

“That’s fantastic,” I said.

“Do you want to know what it is, Mister Driver?”

“Sure. I probably won’t understand it, but go ahead.” I was thinking of some complicated formula of split pea soup and egg whites or similar.

“Urine. That’s what my grandmother told me. I spread my own urine all over my face once a week, and I don’t have a single wrinkle. I know you’re driving now and you can’t see me, but I’m telling you. I have none. The skin on my face is as smooth as a baby’s behind.”

“That sure is a surprise. I would have never guessed it. I suppose that’s one of those natural beauty secrets that’s been handed down for generations.”

I have no doubt she was telling the truth. But I immediately wondered, what would make a person think of trying that the first time? And it likely would take many applications over several years, since spreading urine on a twelve-year old wouldn’t produce an immediate result. I am going to stop thinking about this. Should I enter a disclaimer here? Do not try this at home?

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