Carpool Buddies, Won’t You Chat?

Family carpool.

Strap In Carpool Buddies!

Sometimes I wonder what my relationship will be with my children when they get older. You know when poop isn’t their favorite word and ice cream doesn’t cure everything.

Today’s guest today is with someone whose children are older than mine: my cousin Bonnie.  She and her husband, Howard, have two children ages 16 and 13.

She works as a resident coordinator in a large hospital in Philadelphia. Bonnie enjoys reading, baking and going to the movies.  She also loves playing board games and recently became addicted to some I phone games.

Bonnie was one of my first followers. Unfortunately, she rarely comments. However at every family function she tells me how much she enjoys the blog. Family is a good thing!

This is her first blog post. Enjoy.

Do you drive your kids to school?  I do. I drive my teenage daughter and her friend to a school in center city Philadelphia that is 13.9 miles from our home.  We are carpool buddies.

Anyway, the girls sit in the back which leaves the front passenger seat available for my tote bag, pocketbook, box of tissues, and makeup.

The three of us spend 45 minutes together every morning fighting traffic jams, pot holes and obnoxious drivers.  We have lots of time to talk, listen to the radio…. etc.   This has been our routine for 5 years.

A few years ago we carpool buddies found a radio station that we all liked.  We used to sing along, listen to the gossip about Hollywood stars, and try to call in for trivia contests and concert tickets.  Unfortunately, some DJs left and the ones who remained became increasingly annoying.  We no longer enjoyed the “talk” and the music become very repetitive.

The girls’ response was to plug into their personal audio devices (Ipods). I was left to listen to the news or an “old lady radio station” with light rock/easy listening.  I missed the old days when I felt we were carpool buddies.

I missed their animated conversations about who likes whom or what teacher did what.  I missed hearing about the parties they might attend and the outfits they might wear.

They may not have always been including me, but I felt like I was part of it, and felt privileged to have that window into their lives.

Sometimes we still have great conversations, or my daughter will read out loud to us. Yet now, more often than not, there is silence in the car.  The girls are either sleeping or studying quietly, and I don’t want to disturb them.

You should see them.  They are bent over writing, reading, calculating or memorizing.  Otherwise, they are reclining in their seats, snuggled under a blanket and out like a light.

But, I can’t sleep.  I can’t read.  I have to drive!  I get a little jealous…

However, I treasure these early mornings.  I love having my carpool buddies.

Before I know it, my kids will be driving themselves and will have no need for me in the driver’s seat.

Hmmm…It’s not a bad idea.  Maybe next year they will be in the front, and I will be sleeping in the back with my tote bag, tissues, cellphone and other essentials!!

 Photo courtesy of Microsoft clip art.

Ain’t Feeling Love For the Monthly Bus Pass

20140116_081746Pressure
You’ll have to answer
To your own
Pressure

Billy Joel – Pressure

We all feel pressure in some form or another.

Maybe, it’s paying the bills, getting or keeping a job, satisfying your love ones, or satisfying yourself.

Pressure can manifest itself in many ways. It could be loss of appetite, headaches, disturbed sleep, etc.

Generally, I deal with pressure rather well. My wife, however, may disagree with that assessment.

Anyway, something recently has come along in my life that has caused me to feel pressure. The kids are fine, my job is secure, and my wife and I are in good health.  So, the issue is not particularly serious and the pressure should not exist.

Let me give you some background.

I’m a loser. No, I don’t mean this in a self-deprecation sort of way. Well, not completely.

It’s just that I have a history of losing things.

This history goes back to childhood.  I had clips on my jacket which attached to my gloves. You remember those? I still went through six pair of gloves one winter. My mother has reminded me of that particular winter a number of times.

Unfortunately, this habit of losing stuff continued as I got older.

Check out this partial list of all items I have lost:

Three passports. (It’s a miracle I am not on some terrorist watch list.)

Two driver’s license

Lunch Bags

Water Bottles

Library Books

Eyeglasses

And my children. But luckily I keep finding them. Or they me.

Clearly, it’s a long and ugly history.

And I am scarred.

Yet, there is hope.

I actually retired my last lunch bag – after two years.

I had a pair of glasses for three years – and then they broke.

This is the first Chanukah since my wife, Ms. MMK and I got together (12 year anniversary on Monday) that she did not buy me a hat or gloves as a present.

Maybe, I am a loser no more.

A burden has been lifted.

I’m swelling with pride.

I keep things. I retain.

While getting used to this newly earned title, my wife, Ms. MMK made a decision. It’s actually very practical, and I love practical.

Her decision was to buy a monthly bus pass for us to share. On those days she works in the city, she uses the monthly bus pass, and I use it the other days. Gold for 50th anniversary, silver for 25th anniversary, and a shared monthly bus pass for a 12th anniversary.

I do love her, but she has no idea of the pressure this has put on me.

You see I thought of buying a monthly bus pass for myself during those months when it would make sense monetarily.

But I held back.

Why?

Because the monthly bus pass is pricey. So, if it is lost that’s nearly 150 dollars down the drain in one fell swoop.  And I would be angry and feel like crap if I lost the monthly bus pass.

Each time I ready to get on the bus these days, there is a moment when I can’t find monthly bus pass. I rifle through my brief case.  I fight to remain calm.

It’s pressure man!  Pressure, pressure, pressure.

So far, so good.

I need to relax and let

High Speed Chase

I walked in dejected.  I rummaged through my pockets, emptied my briefcase, and checked my lunch bag.

“What is it? What are you doing,” my wife asked.

“I forgot my phone on the bus.”

My wife called the bus company. With the third announcement of, “All operators are busy. Please stay on the line. We appreciate your patience,” my wife said, “Do you know the bus route?”

“I think so.”

“Why don’t you try and catch it?”

And so began a high speed chase.

Nary a moment passed as I hopped into my car. I would have gone in through the window ala Bo and Luke Duke getting into the The General Lee (I know Dukes was cheesy with Confederate overtones. However, I loved the car chases and seeing Catherine Bach in her Daisy Dukes.  I waited and hoped for a wardrobe malfunction). But, the windows were merely cracked on my 2005 Grey Honda Accord. This slowed me some but, to make up time, I didn’t allow the standard warm-up time for the engine.

Dukes of Hazzard photo courtesy of Google.

Dukes of Hazzard photo courtesy of Google.

Wait, it gets crazier.

I soon was on Saddle River Road (in case you want to plot my journey) but saw no sign of the bus. I cranked up the One Direction – “But when you smile at the ground it ain’t hard to tell, You don’t know…” Damn, that song is still catchy (http://larrydbernstein.com/top-40-kids/).  Of course, I’d rather have been listening to Springsteen.

One Direction - courtesy of Google.

One Direction – courtesy of Google.

This car chase motored into another city, Glen Rock, where the speed limit is a whopping 25 miles per hour. Larry Leadfoot was speeding along Ackerman Avenue at 35 miles per hour.

In the immortal words of Pee Wee Herman: I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.

Despite my rebellious bad ass self, my mission was incomplete. Still no bus in sight. I was at a crossroads. I no longer saw bus stop signs and wasn’t certain of the bus route. While I was weighing the option of heading directly to the end of the bus line, I saw not one but two buses drive past perpendicularly. (By the way, I got a D in high school geometry. I hated that class with a passion.) So, I made a right turn on to Maple Avenue and was hot on the trail. I was feeling confident.

But which bus held my phone? I was two car lengths behind when I saw a passenger get off one of the busses. I know this guy. He is an older construction guy.  I’ve eavesdropped on many of his conversations. Actually, he talks so loud that “eavesdropping” is not the proper term. He doesn’t go two sentences without using the f-word (this chase scene is PG-13).  He also is very knowledgeable about his trade.     

A nagging question haunted me: how was I going to get on that bus? Where is Keeanu Reeves when you need him?

Speed Movie Poster courtesy of Google.

Speed Movie Poster courtesy of Google.

I considered parking and running after it. It was hot, and I am tired on Fridays. Next. I thought about trying to get in front of the bus, but we were on a one-lane road which did not allow for passing even when the bus dropped off more passengers. I decided the first thing I needed to do was to get the license plate number – which I did. And then, I forgot it 30 seconds later. I did, however keep the bus in my sights. Then, trouble came in the form of a traffic light. 

The bus made a left on to South Ridgewood Avenue. When I was ready to turn, the traffic light had been yellow for a few seconds. I went for it. And made it. And only checked three times for cops. I’mma crazy – right?

The bus finally reached the end of the line. But wait. The bus driver did not exit the bus. In fact, people were still getting on. I looked for a parking spot and only saw a filled train station lot. Well, I had come too far to stop then. I parked my car in an area that was not designated for parking. I ran out of the car without bothering to roll up the windows and made a run for the bus.

The Eagle has landed. I spoke to the bus driver, who was clearly overwhelmed by my good looks and therefore eager to help. She pulled out a case that was found. Alas, it was not mine. My search of the seat. A good Samaritan had the sense to call my number. The vibration went off and I knew I was good. I took my phone, expressed my gratitude, and walked off the bus.

I drove home at a more careful 25 miles per hour, the adrenaline gone, but my phone safe beside me.

The Need for Speed

Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go, go, go.

The last couple of Sundays I have been out of my house just after 7. I’d love to tell you a great story about an adventure. Maybe, I met friends and we went fishing and talked about life and stuff. Well, besides the fact that this sounds like a sappy beer commercial, and I don’t like fishing, it’s not true. I could tell you that I had to be out early because I am training for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. That would be a lie too: the only way I will get there is if I buy a ticket.

I WONT BE THERE

I WONT BE THERE

No, the reason for my early ventures into the day was to partake in that chore I have mentioned in the past: food shopping (http://larrydbernstein.com/food-shopping-shopping-shopping/ & http://larrydbernstein.com/contribution-to-greatness/). As you can imagine, I had the roads nearly to myself on Sunday morning. Part of my trip (about 2 miles) to the supermarket includes a highway where the speed limit is 50. How could anyone expect me to go at that speed? I wanted to turn it up. You know what I mean. You have your favorite driving song on – “Running Down a Dream” by Tom Petty or “Radar Love” by Golden Earring or “Life is a Highway” by Tom Cochrane (or nearly anything by Bruce if you are like me) – and an empty road. Now, I ask you again, could I really go just 50 mph? No way!

When I was 23, I accompanied my aunt down to Charlotte, North Carolina. My aunt, who was in her 50s at the time, was going to Charlotte to attending a three-day racecar camp. Anyway, to quote Tom Cruise or Maverick in Top Gun, you could say my aunt felt, “the need, the need for speed.” As part of the camp, she got to drive around the track in a racecar at unbelievably high speeds. After the two days of training, she did one lap and got scared. It was too much speed.

Courtesy of Google.com

Courtesy of Google.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7O1ZhHts8MI

Back to my shopping trip: When I got to Shop Rite – in record time, mind you – it came to my mind just how much of a rush I am always in. I am perpetually in “the need, the need for speed” mode.  My odometer is always burning high whether I am zooming down an empty road, briskly walking up the block, or pushing my boys to “Hurry up! Let’s go!”  I wondered, “Why am I always rushing?”

Not everything is an open road. Sometimes, I need to stop and smell the proverbial roses. The food will get to the shelf, the boys will get to school, but the moments I zip by will surely be gone.