I can't take much more of this,
I'm not going to the grocery store today....
("Evil" Kevin La Bounty, 1992, "The Grocery Store Song")
There I was, minding my own business, toodling around Greater Podunk as usual. When I got back to my office I decided to leisurely check out the news on the internet....
and then I SAW IT....right there in black and white on the computer screen, in the news section......
But did you see the article in the news about the employee "revolt" at a Walmart in Florida? Apparently, on Oct. 16, workers on the morning shift at that Walmart walked out in protest against some new company policies and rallied outside the store, shouting "We want justice!" and criticizing the recent policies as "inhuman." The number of participants was about 200, or nearly all of the people on the shift.
They all walked out on the job and started picketing the Walmart!
They WALKED OUT on the job!!!!
Click here to see the whole horrifying article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15305178/ I took one look at this and a cold wave of fear swept through my very soul. As I gazed at the computer screen my eyeballs popped opened real wide in shock-- and I'm sure I looked like a gigged frog. I almost hyper-ventilated. My gosh, the very HINT that anything--anything at all, I tell you-- could disturb the peace and business of Walmart is simply awful! Something like this could very well send the economy of this ENTIRE area into a standstill--and I'm sure it would cause a widescale panic. Good heavens, a revolt at Walmart. What is this country coming to? I mean, if Walmart workers go on strike we're ALL in trouble around here, I can tell you that for SURE. Walmart is the foundation of our local economy. Walmart is the bedrock of our financial network. Walmart is our HOME. Walmart is our LIFEBLOOD.
And more importantly--Walmart is our ONLY grocery/department store.
I can't imagine the horrifying consequences to Greater Podunk of a "strike" at Walmart. The sad fact is that if we didn't have Walmart, we'd all have to drive a very long distance--over an hour-- to the next decent-sized town in order to be able to buy the everyday things we need, like Swanson's Pot Pies, TV dinners, Fresca, gossip magazines, deer-hunting gear, flip-flops, ketchup, cheap sweat pants, Corelle dish sets, fake-wood furniture, and....GOD FORBID....a source of plastic bags which can be used for a zillion purposes, i.e. garbage sacks, spare "purses", laundry carriers, take-a-lunch bags, car-trash bags, and a gazillion more uses for those wonderful Walmart bags.
A small town like this would be completely derelict without a Walmart. Where would we shop? I sure as hell don't want to have to drive over an hour to the next town, no way. And I don't want to shop at the gas-station convenience stores because their prices will kill you.
We're thrifty here in Greater Podunk. Very thrifty. And we're not only thrifty with our own money, but with other people's money, too. Today I went to see Myrtle Lamar at a retirement community in a nearby farm town. She was watching "The Price is Right" when I arrived, so I settled into one of her easy-chairs to watch it with her. The Showcase Showdown had just started.
The first showcase was crap. It featured a jukebox, a big fireplace, some furniture, and some fireplace tools. The first contestant, a college girl, rejected it and passed it to the next contestant, a military guy. He bid $11,700 on it, which Myrtle and I both agreed was too low. Then the girl's Showcase came on, and it was a great one. It contained a vacation to the Bahamas, a bunch of dishes & crystal, some furniture, and a huge camper.
"$25,000!" I blurted. (I consider myself a pretty good "Price is Right" bidder.)
"$24,500," Myrtle stated evenly.
I figured Myrtle was just guessing, but she looked pretty sure of her bid. Anyway, they played out the rest of the game and sure enough, the guy had underbid. But then they announced the price of the girl's Showcase--and it was $24,334. But the girl had overbid also-- and thus she lost out to the guy.
And I was very impressed with Myrtle's calculations.
"Dang, Myrtle" I said. "You almost had that bid right on the money--you were within just a couple hundred bucks."
"$166 to be exact," she replied, sliding a little calculator back into her pocket.
And then I realized--that Myrtle had been playing the game while calculating and adding up the prices for the Showcase items by using a little calculator from her pocket.
I guess Myrtle takes her "Price is Right" pretty seriously....
Anyway, we're thrifty around here. And although I really don't think a Walmart strike would happen around here, I like to be prepared--so I started thinking about alternatives for shopping, just in case. So later on in the afternoon I took a look at this area's free publication, the local classified ads, a handy little rag called the "Greater Podunk Bargain-Buy". I got one from a group of newspaper bins outside the Dairy Queen. It's a weekly paper chock-full of classified ads selling all kinds of goods & services in the Greater Podunk area. And I began to peruse the ads to see what items are for sale around Greater Podunk: Homemade Pies! Chocolate, lemon, coconut, buttermilk, sweet potato, $12. Pecan $14. All pies 9" and filled to top! Homemade crust, real butter. No smoking or pets in home. Very clean kitchen. Call Talulah, ###-####. (Real butter? After I saw this, I called the number for a buttermilk pie.)
Pigs for sale. Ready for butcher, call ###-####.
(Okay, here's a source for bacon....)
Playhouse for sale. Would make a good deer stand. Call ###-####.
(I know it's a probably a perfectly good structure, but I just can't see a bunch of hick, redneck men, dressed in camo, sitting in the woods all day with their guns while drinking beer-- and squatting in a playhouse which has the words "Fisher-Price" written on its side.)
Delivery driver wanted, $400 per week. Character welcome, crack heads need not apply. Call ###-####.
(This guys goes straight to the point--and I'll bet he wouldn't sit in a deer-stand which has the words "'Fisher-Price" on it, either...)
ACK short-haired red male Daschund. Carries the Chocolate Gene. $100. Call ###-####.
(Er....unfortunately, I think I carry the Chocolate Gene, too.....)
Reward! Lost in East Podunk. Black male kitten. Vaccinated, no collar. Please call ###-#### if you find him. (I wondered if whoever finds this kitten is going to ask first: "Hey, are you vaccinated?") Horse riding lessons. Horse provided. Monday thru Thursday evenings. $20 per hour. Call ###-####. (Now THIS is definitely a bargain--but I'd ask about the horse. What would REALLY be special is if they'd let you ride a paint pony.) Two Mausoleum Crypts at the Cemetery for sale. Lot 30, Block C, Graves #1 and 1a. Call ###-####. (Umm...I wonder how many people shop for their crypts in the Podunk Bargain Buy? And also, it bugs me that they give the directions to the specific place--because what if there's a bunch of looky-loo's who go tromping through the cemetery looking for the right plot? That would be disturbing to the residents, don't you think?) For Sale: Fresh brown eggs. Call ###-####. (Hey, fresh eggs! And this way you can meet the chickens that actually layed them. Everybody knows brown eggs taste better--and "fresh" around here means that they're right out from under the chicken's butts. I bet if you go early enough in the morning, the eggs are still "warm".) Crappie Fishing on houseboat. Everything furnished. Kajun meal afterwards. Lake Podunk. Call ###-####. (Who's going to answer this ad? It must have been placed by an out-of-towner because any fool around here can catch crappies with their eyes closed right off the bank of any lake--without any help or a houseboat. And nobody around here who can cook decent cajun food spells "cajun" with a "K"....) Just a little "brag" note: I once caught a crappie off a boat house pier using only a piece of string, a safety pin for a hook, and a piece of Oscar Meyer balogney for bait.
Divorce $59.50 and up. Payment plan, missing spouse and one signature divorces. Member, BBB. Greater Podunk Divorce Services. Call ###-####. (Only $59.50? That's a DEAL. Where was this lawyer two years ago when I needed him? )
Ludlow's stump-grinding. Call ###-####. (Stump grinding? I thought you just chopped them up with an ax...) Three-Year Old Molly Mule, 15 hands. Brown with white stocking legs, excellent disposition, out of registered gaited mare. $1000 OBO. Call ###-####. ("Molly Mule"? I guess that is the mule equivalent of a "Jenny" donkey. Huh. I learn something new every day.....) Red Jack Donkey with blazed face, halter broke, very gentle, $150. Call for information, ###-####. (Only $150? I smell an attitude problem. I've said it before and I'll say it again--I don't like donkeys.....) (In fact, speaking of donkeys, see this grumpy character? Doesn't he have just about the most SMART-ALECK-IEST face you've ever seen? I've got to pass by him EVERY DAY on my way to one of the ranches I go to. He always stares at me rudely--and here's the proof. He thinks he's being sneaky but I KNOW--yes, I KNOW-- what dastardly things he's plotting in his beady little donkey mind....) (I can tell by the look on his face.)
Pgymy Goats: Mother, daughter (8 months) son (wether, 2 1/2 mos.) Real pets. Call ###-####. (Awwww.....I wanna little pygmy goat! I asked Belinda about them and she said: "They're tee-niny".) (Translation in hickese: "tee-niny" means tiny--but a little tinier than tiny.)
Attention Country Singers & Songwriters! You've always wanted to do it. You still want to do it. Just do it! Call Kuntree-Dreams Recording Studios ###-####. (Hey, maybe I'll call them--you should hear me sing "I Feel Like a Woman"....) 2 Paint work horses, work good to wagon, $1650 pair. Call ###-####. (Okay, what JERK would make some poor, beautiful, paints work? If I had a pasture I'd buy these paints just to set them free to roam and be beautiful. Paints were never meant to work--paints were meant to be pampered and hand-fed the best pears and apples.....) Vacation Time Share at Campgrounds. Buying, selling, renting, exchanging. Change the way you see the world. Save $$$. Call ###-####. (Forget this--because if I spend money on a vacation, it sure as hell ain't gonna be in a damn campground, buddy--it'll be in a nice, comfortable Motel 6 or something.) 500 cu. in. Cadillac motor, automatic transmission, Camaro front end, Camaro rear end. Other parts miscellaneous. $400 for all. Call ###-####. (What I want to know is this: if it has a Cadillac engine, a Camaro front, a Camaro back, and "miscellaneous" parts in the middle--then just exactly WHAT ARE those "miscellaneous" parts in the middle? If I'm going to get a "mixed" vehicle, I don't want a Camaro front and back--with a VOLKSWAGEN middle or something, if you know what I mean.) UKC Redbone Coonhounds. Seven females and three males. Good hunt, show, or family pets. Call ###-####. (I didn't know Coonhounds were a UKC breed--I thought they were just the Podunk word for "huntin' dog". Huh. And so I repeat--I learn something new every day.) * * * * Okay, that was the Podunk Bargain-Buy. Hmmm..... I don't mean to belittle the local classified rag, but I was somewhat disappointed. I didn't see any ads for gossip magazines, cheap sweat pants, Swanson Pot Pies or Fresca. Thus, I am going to make an APEAL TO THE WORKERS OF WALMART: PLEASE DON'T GO ON STRIKE!! PLEASE STAY AT YOUR JOBS. WE HERE IN PODUNK NEED YOU. WE CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT YOU. OKAY? Otherwise, I just might have to round up groups of "scabs" to break through the protest lines in front of Walmart in case of such a strike. But the problem is, would such a group of "scabs" be able to communicate with the local clientele here in Podunk?
The Texan "accent" around here is heavy on the southern, high on the "twang"-- very full-bodied "country".
It's difficult to understand if you haven't grown up in a Texan family. People who come visit the state frequently have a problem. And the tourist population seems to be increasing, due to the increasing traffic on the Interstate and the fact that this town is the only bathroom stop in a very long lonely stretch between more populated areas. We only have two exits on the Interstate, but tourists love to stop and sample the country cooking and local "atmosphere". And these tourists frequently have trouble communicating with locals. The other day I had to translate for a hapless out-of-towner who simply could not understand the check-out girl at Mandy-Lee's Country Bar-B-Que & Gas. The guy was asking for directions to the nearest Mexican Restaurant and was getting extremely frustrated with the answer he got. It seemed that he somehow got the impression that there was some sort of object called a "yunder" that he was supposed to "go over" -- and he didn't know what a yunder looked like.
(Yes, I did clear up the misunderstanding and directed him to go three blocks to the left, "that way"....) So I think that in addition to the local Bargain-Buy classified ad paper, someone ought to publish some sort of Greater Podunk guide/translation manual for any tourists who may come to our lovely area. I truly believe that it might be helpful.
I think such a travel guide book should give the highlights of the local attractions, tips on the best eating places, and a translation of the local dialect. I'm sure this would be a best-seller to just the right market of travelers to this part of Texas. (Heck, I've seen entire SECTIONS in book stores devoted to travel guide books.) And this travel-guide book could have a "cute and catchy" title, like the following titles I thought up off the top of my head: "Planet Podunk" (No? I thought it had a nice ring....)
"Happy Chili-Dog Trails To You" "How to Avoid A Dry-County On Five Dollars-A-Day" "Recipes from Mama Luke's Weenie Cook-Off, 2006"
(My daddy always said about long road trips that "you know you're getting close to Texas when you start seeing weenie-sandwiches on the menus"...) "The Hillbilly's Guide to the Best Fried Egg & Biscuit Houses of the West"
"Four-Star Dining at Gas Stations & Bar-B-Que's On Interstate Exits 47A thru 53" (Alright, so I'm not the greatest tavel guide book title-maker-upper.)
Anyway, the section in the guide book which shows the translation of the "local dialect" should also include an index of useful key words and phrases for understanding everyday speech in Greater Podunk. After all, this is an isolated town--and the language here has had time to develop into its unique form over many eons and centuries, into a strange blend of Texan twang and hick-ish colloquialisms. (Whew! Typing the word "colloquialisms" wore me out--I need a Fresca after that one....) In fact, here are some of the words and phrases I think ought to be included in the guide book. I know the phraseology is weird, but that's simply how they talk around here. (If you don't believe me, just come on down here and strike up a conversation in the check-out line at Walmart): "Yunder" means "over there" or "over that way". (You have to figure out the distance for yourself based on the direction-giver's body language, tone of voice, or finger-pointing); "Over by the Dairy-Queen" means towards the eastern side of town; "Over by the hospital" means toward the northern side of town; "Over by the Donut Factory" means towards the new bank, First Podunk Federal, because it was built on the site where the old Donut Factory burned down three years ago; "Rahch-heer" means "where we are now" -- as in "Walmart is about 3 miles from rahch-heer"; "Over ta" means "at the"-- as in "over ta the fire house"; "Do you know where the chicken plant is?" means the person you're asking directions from has no earthly idea where whatever it is that you're looking for is; "fixin' to" means "I'm about to" do something. As in: "I'm fixin' to go get me a hamburger over ta the Dairy Queen"; "to sass" means to "talk back to", as when a parent tells a kid not to "sass" when they're getting lectured about something by their teacher, as in "Don't you sass that teacher"; (but it can also mean "feisty and cute" as when somebody says that a precocious 6-year old is "a sassy little thing"); "fav-or-ite", rhyming with "light", said in three distinctly separate syllables, means favorite, as in "Who stole my fav-or-ite pen?";
(I use that example because that is the sentence that my co-worker Lu-Lu says EVERY SINGLE MORNING when she can't find her durn pen, and she always suspects me because I use the same gel ink-pens that she does, but I'm telling you here and now that I have NEVER taken her dadburn fav-or-ite pen!) "Hidy" means "Howdy!" or "Hi!"; "Tow-head" means a blonde child;
"Ugly" means "bad" or "mean", as in: "Don't talk to him before he has his morning coffee or he'll act ugly all morning";
"Titty baby" means an immature adult who whines about stupid things or pouts when they don't get their way; (versus a child who is crying too much about something relatively insignificant, in which case they are liable to get called "a squawl box" or a "bawl baby");
"bawling" or "squawling" means crying;
(But "squawling" can also mean a woman "bitching loudly", as in a Texan man saying something like: "I accidentally broke her windchimes with the rake and Lord, you could've heard her squawlin' about it all the way over ta the Dairy Queen") "Wallago" means "awhile ago", as in "I went to the Dairy Queen wallago"; "Y'ont?" means "Do you want?", as in "Yon't cheese on that chili dog?"; "Y'onna?" means "Do you wanna?", as in "Y'onna go to the Dairy Queen?"; "tumped over" means "knocked over" or "fell over"; as in "Miss Edna tumped over the ridin' lawn mower when she tried to mow the hill side-ways";
(Unfortunately, the above sentence was said by our new nurse, Lu-Lu's cousin Jane-Anne, who had just come from poor Miss Edna's house where she'd gone to check her blood sugar log for the week. But don't worry, Miss Edna is fine, although she is now sporting a nice little cast on her left ankle where the ridin' lawn mower landed on her. I'm afraid that the accident is Miss Edna's own fault as her husband has told her a hundred times that "an 85-year old woman has NO DADBURN BUSINESS mowing the dang lawn" but stubborn Miss Edna always says that "she'll work till God sees fit to Take Her To Glory".)
(And her husband also said: "And after she tumped the dang thing over, you could'a heard her squawling for miles....") For the next section note that country people around here have a fondness for turning one-syllable words into two-syllables:
"kee-eds" means "kids"; "Cay-ow" means "cow"; "Quee-et" means "quit" or "stop", as in "The preacher told him he should stop drinkin' but he just couldn't quee-et"; "Ah ain't a gonna dew it" means "I'm not going to do that"; (But "ain't" also means what you call your aunt) "Walmark" means "Walmart"; "light bread" means white bread;
And finally, the travel guide book's translation section should really include a a little chapter on Texan cussing, just for cultural information's sake. Texans love to cuss and they have a wonderful way of varying their cussing according to their level of frustration. Thus, the Three Levels of Cussing.
There's Level One, the mild form, which consists of a single word:
Then there's the Second Level, where you "add" onto the single word, either another syllable or another word, to make a stronger point:
"Shit Fire!", or the one-syllable word in two-syllables variation as described above, "Shee-It!"
And then there's the Third Level of cussing, which is where you take a deep breath and really let it out--to show the entire WORLD how mad you are (which, rumor has it, is what Miss Edna said when she tumped over the ridin' lawn mower):
"Well, Shit Fire And Save Matches!"
Lastly, the travel guide book really should include a section on etiquette. But since I'm not the greatest expert on etiquette, I'm not going to say too much on this subject except one particular warning, a sin of which I had the misfortune to commit:
Podunk Town Etiquette Hint: Just make sure that you never cuss at any Level whatsoever in front of a Baptist preacher or somebody's grandmother. Because if you forget and do this, your name will likely end up on the Prayer List at the local Sunday School and embarass your family to death....)
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