Tag Archives: career

Antofagasta©

  One doesn’t come across the name Antofagasta—a Chilean city 678 miles north of Santiago—in ordinary conversation and one assumes that the words Atacama Desert come up even less frequently. Probably even fewer readers of this column have stopped off at either place. The region produces much of the world’s supply of copper.
I certainly didn’t intend to land in Antofagasta when my flight left Bogota, Colombia.  My destination was Santiago itself. I’d made many trips to Latin America and the Caribbean over the years on assignments for the United States Information Agency (USIA) to train journalists and seek their support for friend of the press.


The first indication that passengers had that we were going to land before we got to Santiago was when the pilot’s voice came over the intercom. Pilots often talk to passengers from the cockpit, pointing out places of interest.
“This is the pilot speaking. We have just been informed that the Santiago airport is fog-covered. We can’t land there yet. We’ve been instructed to land at Antofagasta, which is nearly 700 miles north of Santiago. Please fasten your seatbelts and put your tray tables in the upright and locked position in preparation for landing. Thank you.”    The plane banked and we began a steep descent.  After an uneventful landing the plane taxied to a very small terminal building that was apparently closed.

We learned later that the air terminal only opened when flights were scheduled. Fortunately, the landside of the terminal was open 24 hours a day to accommodate traveler and commercial vehicle traffic.  Food and beverages and travel items were available at various counters.


The passengers disembarked and headed for the counters and restrooms. They were immediately surrounded by people wanting to purchase U.S. dollars. Passengers were offered a variety of exchange prices depending on how vulnerable they looked.  The gullible-looking passengers were offered 7.50 pesos for a dollar. The official exchange rate was 750.00 pesos per dollar.
One could tell the seasoned travelers by how few people surrounded them.  One could detect the passengers who hadn’t understood decimals in school by the fact that they got taken by buyers who moved the decimal point one or two places and cheated them ruthlessly.


Shysters moved through the crowd s trying to bully passengers into yielding their dollars. Others gazed into passenger’s faces and with mock sincerity and sought dollars by pleading poverty and hunger.
To their credit a number of honest citizens berated their crooked country men. The most effective do-gooders were those who spoke English. But they were berated by the shysters also. A few fights broke out.
At this point the aircraft’s captain grabbed a bullhorn, climbed on top of a wooden box and began shouting. The captain was a veteran of this airline route. He spoke Spanish fluently.
He shouted: “This is the captain speaking! Everyone take a step back and be quiet.”
Then he spoke in English.  “Passengers, move return to the airplane and take your seats. The fog has lifted and that the airfield in Santiago is ready to receive our flight. And in the meantime, courteously decline currency transactions of any kind.”

Despite the pilot’s orders there was a flurry of currency exchanges as the the passengers moved across the tarmac and climbed the stairs to the airplane.
As the plane taxied and lifted off, a few passengers complained about the delay. Most were glad for the diversion and for a chance to see a place they had never heard of and to which they would never have thought of booking a flight.
The plane reached cruising altitude and passengers were told they could move around the cabin.


A passenger shouted, “I forgot. How much is this money worth?
Another shouted, “Who cares? I’m saving mine to give to my grandkids. I’ll give you $30 for all your Chilean pesos.


“Pesos?” shouted another passenger. “Pesos?” Shoot! Some shyster sold me a hand full of Brazilian paper money I thought I was getting a real good deal.”
“I’ll give you a buck for all your Brazilian money,” said the grandma.”
“Coffee, tea or milk?” asked a flight attendant.

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-Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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The Suit Case Irony ©

My older sister, Merci, is six years older than I. She graduated from high school in in 1947 and was accepted at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. We lived in Idaho Falls, Idaho—a 350 _-mile trip.
Back in those days one took the Greyhound bus from place to place. Merci packed her belongings in two of family’s battered old metal suitcases. She was living in a dormitory. She took a taxi to the dorm from the bus depot. The taxi driver carried her suitcases into the lobby of the dorm. The other residents saw the battered suit cases. Merci was embarrassed.
Fast forward. Merci graduated from BYU in three years and got a good job back in Idaho Falls with the Atomic Energy Commission. She was making really good money.
When it came time for me to get ready to attend BYU Merci bought me a an expensive matched set of leather luggage to take to college. I wasn’t going to live in a dormitory, I was going to live in an off campus apartment with four guys from Idaho Falls. The irony: we drove down to BYU in my roommate’s car. I unpacked the beautiful luggage and stored it away.
The story does have a happy—and worthwhile conclusion. After two years at BYU I was called by the LDS Church to serve as a missionary in Uruguay. The luggage was excellent for the trip down and it held up well over the two-and-a-half years I spent in various towns and cities in Uruguay.

-Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Parking Sticker Blues©

In most confrontations, The Powers that Be win and the Little Guys lose. In this story, the Little Guy won, and the Powers that Be had to do re-write the rules.
Some background is essential for readers to understand this story. Decades ago when I came to teach at Letongaloosa Community Junior College, Emmaline and I moved next door to a retired military officer. His last assignment was in a country where cars drove on the right side of the road. The colonel bought a four-door Hillman Minx, and shipped it to the U.S. The car’s steering wheel was on the right hand side. When he moved a couple of years later, I bought the car. I loved driving that car. The gearshift was on the left side of the steering column.
At the beginning of fall semester the university administration gave faculty members and students a pamphlet that outlined driving and parking instructions. Everyone on campus had to buy a parking sticker and display it on the rear window of their car. The instructions were explicit. The parking sticker was to be displayed in the lower corner of the rear window on the driver’s side.
I affixed my parking sticker in the lower corner of the rear window on the right side of my right-hand-drive car. That model Hillman Minx had a curved rear window—so the parking sticker was less visible than on domestic cars.
A couple of days after school started I received a parking citation for not displaying the parking sticker correctly. I called the Parking Department and told
them that my parking sticker was displayed according to regulations and asked them to invalidate the parking citation. For the next several days, I found parking citations under my windshield. I put the citations in the glove box, assuming that the Parking Department would inform the people who issued the tickets that my sticker was properly displayed and would void the citations.
A week or so later the dean called me to his office The Parking Department had accused me of being an egregious parking offender. They asked the dean to make me pay the fines for all the parking tickets that the department had issued..
I told the dean that my parking sticker was displayed strictly according to the regulations, but that I would get the problem straightened out.
The university police handled parking on campus so I called the department and told the dispatcher that despite the fact that my parking sticker was affixed strictly according to regulations I had received numerous parking citations and that the department had contacted my dean.
The dispatcher said that the people who issue parking citations didn’t make mistakes and that my sticker was obviously misplaced. I demurred, he insisted. I demurred. Finally he told me to bring the car to the parking lot behind the Police Department so he could see for himself.
I drove to the Police Department parking lot and parked near the office with my car facing away from the building so that the dispatcher could see my rear window. The dispatcher took one look at my car and said:
“That sticker is on the wrong side.”
I said, “Sir, do I have the option of changing the way I follow this pamphlet? I handed him the parking regulation pamphlet.
“No you DON”T.” he said emphatically.
I said, “the regulation says that my sticker is to be displayed on the back window on the driver’s side. That’s where the sticker is.”
“No, it’s on the left side, That’s wrong.”
“Sir,” I said. “Please Look! The steering wheel is on the right side. I am displaying the parking sticker on the driver’s side just as the regulation requires.
The officer looked, sputtered for a few seconds, and then said, “WELL, That’s not what we meant!”
The Parking Department voided all my citations and I reported to the dean that the problem had been solved.
The next year the parking regulation said that parking stickers were to be displayed in the lower corner of the  LEFT side of the rear window. I smiled.
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-Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Pope John Paul II in Central America 1983

 

 

I was in Costa Rica and Pope John Paul II visited Central America. As a stringer for several news organizations, I was impressed by the tight security surrounding his Eminence. I was assigned to cover the Pope’s night speech at a youth rally in a suburban soccer stadium.  The Pope’s procession approached the speaking platform by driving along a rutted road that ran along the soccer field and in front of the bleachers. Suddenly the stadium lights went out. The whole place was dark for several minutes.  When the lights came on again (whew!) the procession proceeded. Calm and unruffled,  the Pope gave his scheduled address to the youthful crowd.

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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A Christmas Luau in Letongaloosa©

From Garrison Storm’s earliest memories, Christmastime in Letongaloosa meant
sledding and snowball fights in down at Ol’ Man Connelly’s farm, hot cider and
skating with the Duggins kids, and sampling the cookies that he and his Mom
baked for Santa on Christmas Eve. Garrison has countless wonderfully, nostalgic,
childhood memories, but his most memorable holiday memory happened last
year when he and Clara Vidente, Letongaloosa’s resident psychic, saved
Christmas.
Typical days at MEGA-TV are an odd mix of terribly busy, and nothing much to
do. Everyone works in ebbs and flows. Some days are calm. Others are frantic.
Holidays are just plain crazy.
Garrison, the station’s lead meteorologist, was in the middle of a frantic stretch
which meant he would be working over the weekend to get forecasts ready for
Christmas. By Sunday, despite the lure and distraction of the yuletide activities in
town, Garrison had had a productive day. He had managed to deliver the
forecast for the upcoming week. He tweaked the layouts of the night’s
weathercast and even made time to go online to order a shiny, snow racer sled
for his nephew, Parker. He then walked across the street to eat at the diner
where he struck up a conversation with his psychic friend, Clara.
Clara had lived in Letongaloosa for years. She had a shop on Main Street that
lured passersby to come in to have their futures told. Garrison always walked by
on his way to go sledding with Paul and Tommy Duggins. She’d wave at him
through the bright yellow and green neon sign hanging in her store window.
That afternoon, as he waited for his roasted turkey sandwich and potato salad,
Clara told him she was concerned about the weather. It had been a bit
blustery, but after pouring over the radar all weekend Garrison saw nothing out
of the ordinary. Weather conditions were normal for that time of year, cold and
snowy. In other words, perfect weather for warm cider, cookies and sledding.
“I’ve been consulting my crystal ball and I don’t see snow at all,” Clara told
Garrison.
Garrison could tell she really believed in what she had “seen”, so he just sat and
listened. He had known this sweet lady his whole life.
“Go on,” he said.
“I see flowers blooming, children eating the snow, instead of throwing it. This is
going to be unlike any Christmas Letongaloosa has ever seen. We’ve got to do
something!”
“Tell you what,” Garrison said. “I’m going back to my office and I will check
every forecast again. I promise to issue a special weather bulletin if anything
other than snow happens on Christmas day.”
After lunch, Garrison took a short walk down Main Street to stretch his legs. It felt
good after the frantic pace he’d been on. He looked down at the snow on the
ground, took a deep breath, and thought about what Clara had said.
Garrison didn’t consider himself a haruspex. He couldn’t predict the weather.
And all of his data and experience as a meteorologist told him that everything
would be normal.
Walking back to the station, Garrison met Merry Duggins. She’s Paul and
Tommy’s mother who volunteers at the courthouse as a guardian ad-Litem.
Merry always had a kind word, a smile, and a pat on the back for kids in need.
Merry was as level-headed as Clara was psychically inclined. As they chatted,
Merry told Garrison that the winter festival would have a bit of a twist. He
promised he’d be there. He thought she had given him a peculiar smile as she
continued down Main Street.
Weeks later, Garrison walked into the courthouse meeting hall. He couldn’t
believe his eyes. Tropical flowers were everywhere. The good folks of
Letongaloosa had donned Hawaiian shirts. Their kids were chomping snow
cones. Garrison had walked into a Christmas Luau.
Clara’s crystal ball predictions had come true. He glanced around the room
taking it all in. Then he spotted her.
“You were right!”
“I can get used to this. It’s nice.”
“Merry Christmas, Clara! Now let’s go sledding.”
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Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Shy Freddy and Salesman Sam©

Freddy was smart and looked handsome with his dark hair and his horned
rim glasses. But Freddy was so painfully shy that he almost never spoke. Some people
mistook Freddy’s reticence for wisdom and admired him for it.
Freddy grew up as an only child on a farm a long way from town. His father and
mother died unexpectedly when he was in his teens and Freddy came to live with an
elderly aunt in Letongaloosa.
After he moved to town Freddy hardly ever went out. Occasionally Mrs.
Chattermore or Mr. Buttinsky would see Freddy in the yard and force him into a
conversation. That made Freddy panic, and when he panicked Freddy spoke gibberish.
Freddy read a lot, and he watched a lot of television. He had vast amounts of
information from books and television stored in his head, but when he was forced speak,
Freddy’s shyness made him blurt out gibberish phrases. Some people thought he was
being clever; others may have thought he was high on something.
Freddy lived quietly and peacefully until Salesman Sam came along. Salesman
Sam was very smart, but he looked really dumb. His beady black eyes and his pug nose
were set smack in the middle of a big flat pumpkin-pie face. Sam was hulking and
rotund. His body sloped up toward his head and down toward his feet. He looked like a
toy gyroscope.
Sam was the kind of salesman that makes people put “no solicitation” signs in
their yards and on their porches. Sam ignored “no solicitation” signs and “Beware of the
Dog” signs. He even ignored “Quarantined” signs. Salesman Sam was pushy and
persistent. Once someone cracked the front door and Sam had inserted his number
fourteen shoe inside, it was all over. Sam had a sale.
Despite being pushy and persistent, Salesman Sam didn’t get into many houses. His
bulk and his ugly pumpkin-pie face worked against him. That hurt his sales, and he was
looking for a partner who could get him in the door.
Fate, or destiny, or the Native American trickster gods brought shy gibberishspeaking
Freddy and bombastic Salesman Sam together.
Salesman Sam was working in Freddy’s neighborhood and he was having a
terrible day. People yelled at him from behind locked doors but they wouldn’t let him in.
Freddy’s aunt was at her mahjongg club when Sam loomed onto the porch and
pounded on the door.
“Open up. It’s the F-I-B,” he shouted.
That scary door approach was one Sam saved for times when he was desperate.
It worked. Freddy opened the door and Sam clumped into the house.
“I have a really great deal for you, young man,” said Salesman Sam.
“Stocks were mixed in mid-day trading, and when used as directed Duodib
relieves symptoms within minutes,” said Freddy.
“What did you say?” asked Sam the Salesman.
“Foster told sports reporters he was keeping his options open with this marvelous
new double ply bathroom tissue,” said Freddy.
“Huh?” said Sam.
By this time Freddy was trembling noticeably.
“Okay, son,” said Salesman Sam. “Just take it easy. Everything’s going to be all
right. Can I sit down?”
Freddy nodded. Sam lowered his bulk onto a sofa and motioned Freddy to sit
beside him. Sam smiled. “You and me need to talk, kid,” he said. “I need a partner. Do
you want a job?”
Freddy nodded.
A year later Sam and Freddy were featured on the cover of Neighborhood Sales,
the industry’s leading retail door to door magazine. They had won the magazine’s
annual sales award. People couldn’t resist letting nerdy Freddy into their houses, and
once they did, Sam never lost a sale.
Standing behind a microphone at the awards banquet Sam the Salesman said, “I
couldn’t a done it without Freddy.”
A trembling Freddy said, “Side effects are mild and may include headaches, sore
throat, and much more sunshine over the next five days.”

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Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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A Cotton Candy World

One time I was flying from Bogota , Colombia to Santiago, Chile.  It was a beautiful clear night.  There was a full moon high above the airplane.  Down  was a floor of white clouds reflecting light upward.  It was like flying over the surface of a cotton candy world.

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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