In Bilboa Spain, when I got out of bed, my body and The Internet of Things told me it was just four hours past midnight on Saturday morning, but my mind tried to convince me that in Kentucky there was still has 2 hours left in Friday night and I’d be home before Saturday was done.
Now, 18 hours later and desperate for non-vertical sleep and a bathroom that wasn’t a wobbly closet and wasn’t shared with 200 people. I shuffled like a Zombie toward Passport Control.
Passport Officers are notoriously deadpan, but at this point I’m looking forward to contact with another human who shares my language and knows where Louisville is. The line moved along until I was finally standing in front of a genuine US Passport Control…..robot.
It looked like a convenient store ATM on steroids, with a camera sticking out the top, surrounded by Dumbo ears. Stupid from sleep deprivation I stared at the screen in its chest that was asking what language I’d prefer. I pressed the “English” button.
Then, it asked to look at the photo page of my passport. Then, it wanted to know what flight I’d been on. It had to be kidding! I could barely remember the Airline. I fished the boarding pass out of my pocket. Then, the screen erupted with a screen full of questions; “Are you bringing in any fruits, vegetables, animals, insects, Ebola viruses, Napalm or Thermo-nuclear devices?”
Another full screen of questions followed!
“Have you touched snails, or cows, have you smeared animal dung on yourself or been on a farm or pasture”?
“NO, NO, I just want to lay down in my own bed”
Now, the robot started transforming! Its eyes and ears rising on a telescoping neck, scanning me, freaking me out. It knew where my eyes were! Looking straight at me, it wiggled its big ears and asked me to take off my glasses. I went blind as the ears flashed and my biometric facial data shot out to the World’s Information Database.
This was beginning to freak me out. In that moment of white light, I saw computers all over the world searching their databases, my browser history, my phone records, my FaceBook page. It was already talking to Siri and Alexa.
Facebook!! “Holy Crap! I’ve posted pictures of cows on Facebook! Does it know that? But, I haven’t touched a cow, there were always fences. That’s right, fences. I had not been on a farm, I had been on a public footpath leading to a beach! A beach with no snails!”
I tried to calm down, ‘It didn’t matter anyway, that screen was gone? It’s not like it was asking me to report meetings with the Russians!’
Finally, the interrogation machine spits out a bad-hair, bloodshot-droopy-eyed photo of some ancient guy that I didn’t recognize! It looked like a mug shot of a drunken W.C. Fields or Tiger Woods.
Seven hours later, without luggage and still freaked out I staggered into the house, fully aware that the 7 microphones in my Virtual Personal Assistant were listening.
“Alexa, What time is it in Bilboa Spain,” I asked. “It’s 5am Sunday Morning in Bilboa, Spain”.
“Alexa, Where have I been?” Anxiously, I awaited the answer. “Hum, I can’t answer that question.”
That was not what I wanted to hear! She didn’t say, “She didn’t know!”
She knew! I could tell by her tone.
My body was too tired to care, even though my mind knew that the Russians were going to blackmail me about the cows, and cast my vote in the next election. I found my copy of Orwell’s 1984 and put it beside my bed before I went to sleep, hopelessly entangled into the Internet of Things.
When you're little
First told by Col Bob on 8/13/17 at the live taping of the Kentucky Homefront Radio Show.
When you’re little, everything looks bigger. We all go through that Alice in Wonderland view of the world, when faucet handles, cookie jars, and bicycle seats are all beyond our reach; where chairs, ponies, toilet seats and spiders are all way bigger than they need to be.
When you’re little, you can unfortunately see up people’s noses and you’re always at eye-level with people’s butts. It’s hard not to notice!
Growing up in my family’s grocery store I had the opportunity to survey more than my share of interesting posteriors and they fascinated me.
There was a constant parade of tushes that would make a Kardashian envious; customers, salesmen and vendor rumps; fannies that took me two or three steps to get past. The Bunny Bread man, the Midwest Dairy man, the Tom’s potato chip guy and the Coke, Pepsi and RC delivery men, all had distinctive rumps.
All the delivery guys were my buddies and I looked forward to their regular visits but
Hog-Jaw, the big-boned RC cola route-driver had the most impressive derriere, and made the best presentation of it. Neither the Coke nor the Pepsi guy made any presentation of their unnoteworthy duffs.
They all had a different stance while sorting the empty glass stored on the floor at the end of the drink-cooler. Most got down on their knees or took a baseball catcher’s position, but the RC guy remained standing, spreading his feet far apart and bending his thick upper torso low to the Nehi, Diet-rite and RC bottles; reaching down to sort them into their wooden crates, and leaving his keister stuck straight up in the air. He reminded me of a giraffe getting a drink.
I couldn’t help but be fascinated by his grey uniform pants straining tightly across his caboose; so tight, that in my ten-year-old estimation, even the slightest tap would split the seam, freeing his booty from its too-small confines.
Unable to resist any longer, I came up behind Hog-Jaw with my industrial grade fly-swatter, and as Dizzy Dean would have called it, “He aint bunting folks, he’s swinging for the fence”. As the heavy metal-window-screen swatter made solid contact on his bum, I heard a ripping sound and let the swatter fall. Adrenaline rushed through me as I turned, laughing, and beat a path toward the backdoor of the store. My speed increased when I heard the yell and heavy footsteps behind me. Hog-Jaw was in bare-butted, split-pants, full pursuit!
I flew out the back door and made a beeline toward the sanctuary of the Box Elder tree in Granny’s front yard, glancing back just as I reached it to see Hog-Jaw trotting off the porch, headed in my direction.
I caught the first limb and swung up with the grace of a gymnast, vaulting myself up to the next level of limbs; up and up I scrambled skyward on the familiar trunk, up to the highest point I’d ever climbed. I had slipped the surly bonds of earth and was up where larks and eagles flew, on the edge of space, where oxygen was thin.
I could see all the way down to Humpy Morehead’s house and pond where Dad took me fishing. I knew that Hog-jaw was too big to be much of a climber and I was safe up here.
It was my favorite hideout from the troubles down on earth.
High in my safe-house after my hurried ascent, I now took time to adjust my stance and remove my foot from its uncomfortable position wedged into a ‘V’ where the tree trunk and a limb intersected. I tried to move it, but it was stuck hard! That had never happened before!
Satisfied gloating quickly turned to horror as I looked down to see a large fleshy hand firmly grasping my ankle! “WHAT THE…!” Further down, I saw a huge face grinning up at me. The giant had not climbed the tree, he didn’t have too; he was standing on the ground reaching a good seven feet into the air, and had a firm grip on my ankle!
Things always look bigger when you’re little!
The stories on this page are not in my book, “Hitchhiker, Stories from the Kentucky Homefront” but may well wind up in some expanded version in the NEXT book.
© Copyright January, 2017
(All rights reserved).
The Internet of Things
First told by Col Bob on 8/12/17 at the live taping of the Kentucky Homefront Radio Show.
Cost: $29.95/ Per Book
© Copyright December, 2017 (All rights reserved).