On Wednesday I was sitting in the Lackawanna Trail Elementary school gym, listening to the principal Kelly speak to the parents of the incoming class of 2027, and I began to think of how awesome it was that I was going to be helping a little girl to become an adult. Man, what amazing changes have happened to my life.
If you’d have told me a decade ago that I would be in a “parental” position today, not to mention that I’d like it as much as I do, I would’ve laughed in your face. Piper and I have known each other for a little over 3 years now, but the alterations that she (and her mom) has made in the very man that I am have been astounding.
I remember well the “Things That IAbsolutely Will Not Do… Ever” list that I had established for my life, it was written in stone and I would dictate the items on it verbatim to anyone who wished to hear them.
I will never have a job that will force me to wake up at an unreasonable time… plenty of other employment options to choose from with a normal start time.
I will never drive a pickup truck… I don’t need one
I will never date a woman named Erika… too hokey.
I will never work in radio… TV is more my style.
I will never date a woman with a child… just because.
The items on that list seemed pretty concrete to me at the time, and I laugh to think of how I truly believed that they were going to remain the commandments that I’d live by… but that was then.
As the years have slowly ticked off I have watched in disbelief as each so called concrete item of the “Things That IAbsolutely Will Not Do… Ever” list began to fall, and my life became better as a result.
When you’re in your teens and early twenties you truly have the incredibly convoluted notion that you absolutely know it all, and there is nobody and no thing that will convince you otherwise; strangely it wasn’t until the day that I said to myself, out loud, “God, please help me, I really have no idea at all of what I’m doing in this world” that I began to learn any of the answers that would be of help. I am convinced it was on that day, when I uttered those words, that I began growing up.
Today I woke up at 3:10am, kissed my fiancé named Erika and her daughter Piper, and drove to my radio job… in my pickup. Astounding.
The lessons Piper will learn and the experiences she will be a part of in her school career are the things that will influence her entire life, and knowing that I had to share one of the most influential lessons that I have ever learned, and hopefully one that she learns a lot sooner than I did: Never Say Never!
When Harrison Ford in an interview was asked about how he dealt with fame he had an interesting answer: “You seldom see or hear it in front of you… you hear it around you, and behind you”. To me that was an odd response, but I remember the day that I found out exactly what he meant.
We had been invited to a fundraising event as guests, not “celebrity guests” or performers, and that was a bonus to me. It was to be an evening out that had nothing to do with my work. Don’t get me wrong I love what I do, and I do a lot of it, but when we are given a chance to just chill and simply enjoy a night out (without a work commitment of any description) it’s a rare gift!
The event was in the backstage area at the Scranton Cultural Center, and as we entered we did so with a relaxed sense of peace. Our friends had held a couple seats for us, and our timing was unusually perfect. The crowd, however, in the entry way was oddly large and rather dense, so getting from the door to our table would pose a challenge of sorts.
As we pierced the outer edge of the massive herd of party goers to head towards our seats I said “excuse us please”… in response three people turned to look with a sort awareness in their glace. They said nothing but slid gently apart and held their gaze as we passed. I will admit that most of their attention was focused on Erika, as it should be, but the mood of the moment had changed somehow as we pressed on.
Then it happened, my moment of clarity… the three lookers were behind us and as we were moving briskly away from them I heard one of them say to the other two “That’s the morning guy from Froggy”, and just like he’d described in the interview, the small amount of fame I have attained revealed itself to me… not from in front of me, but from the side and behind me.
We stopped, said hello, took some pics and spent several minutes chatting up a trio of great people. I came away from that brief interaction feeling like I’d made a couple of new friends… but I couldn’t help but wonder what it must be like for a guy like Harrison Ford, who’s attained worldwide fame, to attempt a date night and fail at every attempt.
I am more grateful than you can understand for every ounce of recognition I receive. I never find it an inconvenience to say hello or shake a hand with a listener of the show, or any Froggy fan for that matter… ever, but I did learn what it feels like to have a person briefly hold you in a higher place, to be somewhat intimidated to speak to you directly, and to hear the background voice of fame talking… but this time it was about me.
There are few things on this earth that I claim to hate… but one of them is the roads of NEPA!
The driving in this state is abhorred, and year after year, as I continue sailing down the byways of the Keystone State I am less and less inclined to believe it’ll ever be anything but that!
From the potholes to the heaving concrete, the crumbling road shoulders to the dilapidated signage, there is no joy in traveling from place to place here; but this week I saw the last straw thrown onto the camel’s back… the state approved the install of my personal favorite road pain in the ass: “tar & chips”! Let me explain.
The stretch of road that separates Erika house from mine (Rt. 107) was a road that could have easily fit in well to a war zone! Regular air raid bombings could only produce more damage than was visible on that 14 mile stretch of highway for the past 8-10 years. Well a miracle happened, as the macadam God’s smiled on us and a crew of yellow trucks delivered miles of fresh black smoothness to the gateway to my fiancé’s house, and Rt. 107 got a new and flawless layer of paving last year. Sadly, that was LAST YEAR!
Fast forward to yesterday and the disaster that is Rt.107 now… (see the attached picture).
“Tar & chips” is a process where by a huge spray truck applies a generous layer of hot sticky tar to the flat (usually flawless) road surface and then another truck spills an equally massive amount of crushed gravel (dusty, dirty and most of it not adhering to the tar) on top of it. It then is brushed over by a vehicle that I can only describe as a street sweeper from hell that pushes the excess to the ditch. In about a week the street sweeper from hell does an additional pass, and the job is considered complete.
The problem is that during the week that spans from application day to the final sweep day, it is up to the cars and trucks that travel that road to compact the chips into the tar, and during that process your vehicle is treated to a covering of dust, clanking gravel smashing under your fender wells, slippery stone filled travel lanes, and a shower of the same gravel flying over your vehicle from the drivers (just as pissed as you are) traveling the same road at a speed that sprays your car with military precision!
May I now ask: What in the name of the good Lord almighty above are you doing PennDot?! Why, when you do your best work, do you find it necessary to cover it? Why have you ever so consistently done this on the roads I frequent? Why is it that you have no respect for those of us who own black vehicles and wish them to remain clean and free of paint chips?!! WHY?!!!!