Thursday, October 20, 2011


"Street Survivors".

Thirty-four years ago today:

In mid October of 1977, I purchased this album. I had been a huge fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd from day one. I totally wore out my 8-Track of "Second Helping", that was released in 1974, after the success of their debut album, "Pronounced 'Leh-'nerd 'Skin-'nerd".

Soon after the "non-fiery" crash of the Convair CV-240 that killed Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines and three others, their record company replaced the album cover sans the flames around the band.

Many years ago, I searched for this album among my record collection and I could not find it. At first, I thought that I had lent it to my brother or that a shady character that had once been to my house (and was looking through my albums) had absconded with it. I remember when my older brother passed away in 2008, I went through his entire 10 foot row of vinyl in search of it, to no avail. I had given it up for loss.

Today, on the anniversary of one of the greatest country-rock band's "partial" demise, I decided to search for it again.

And I found it almost immediately in probably the most likeliest of places...

On top of my turntable!


Monday, October 17, 2011

The Long Run:Character and Reputation.

"Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing." ~ A. Lincoln

I have been actively seeking a return to the job that I held 6 1/2 years ago. My sales position was eliminated and I returned to the company that I had worked for previously for 18 years.

I was told that the job was mine for the taking. That was 10 days ago and anyone that knows me, knows that patience is not my strongest virtue.

Today, I text(ed) my supposedly "new boss", just to keep the dialogue going. I have not had any response, as of yet.

However, I am not concerned; just impatient. If, in fact, I do not get the job, I will be just fine. I will change course, once again, and find a way to increase my take home pay: I have that much confidence in myself. Obviously, so do a few others.

Being the type of person that never throws anything away, I found the calling cards of my "old boss" and his assistant who are still working for my past/perspective future employer. I called them both this afternoon, just to touch base and to possibly get a recommendation. Neither was necessary.

Six and a half years ago, when I first applied and interviewed with this company, my "old boss" was not sure if I was the right guy, as he had already interviewed two better qualified applicants who had sales experience. His assistant, whose job it was to come down from Pennsylvania every time their latest hire either quit or screwed things up so bad that they had to fire him, backed me. In fact he told him that if he did not hire me for the position that he would quit, because he was tired of coming down to the Eastern shore every few months to run the route. Another guy who worked in the home service division of this company and with whom I had worked with in the grocery business, previously, also recommended me. His exact words were..."If you can get Ridgely to come work for our company, consider yourself lucky."

Fast forward to 2011. My "old boss", just last week, told my perspective "new boss" something very similar..."If you don't hire Ridgely, then consider it the biggest mistake of your professional career."

So, in the long run, when it comes to finding a job, it is not 'who you know', but 'who you are'.

Unconditional Love.

In my adult life, I have had as many as 14 pets. 11 dogs(6 of which were quickly adopted by co-workers after one of my un-spayed female dogs got loose for a night on the town) and 3 cats. The acquisition of everyone of these critters was the idea of one of the three long-term women in my life. However, I was always left with custody.

I actually have two stories to share concerning three of these animals. I will start with the dogs.

Several years after my daughter was born, my wife and I wanted a bigger house. We sold the house that I had bought in 1979 and were getting ready to move across town. I told her that we would first have to acquire a kennel pen for the new house, since our dogs were outside dogs. Her reply was..."We are not taking those dogs with us"; and we didn't. Over the last 20 years, I have had numerous dreams where I am at my old house and I realize that I have not fed or watered Lady or Skeeter. I go out to the pen and find that they are still alive and well. Those recurring dreams are the guilt that remains in my sub-conscience to this very day. It is also a reminder for any future partner that I may have in the future: never pick an opposite.

In 1977, during my brief and ill-fated first marriage, my wife at the time wanted a cat. We were having some issues at the time and I remember her mother, who was a born-again Christian, telling the both of us that we should not get a pet. She said that if we had any extra love at all to give, that we should give it to each other.
We didn't and we got the kitten.

Casey was an orange tabby. When he grew to full size he was big. Everybody that came in contact with him for the first time always had the same reaction: That cat is huge! And his heart was even bigger. Every night, Casey would always wander into the bedroom and lay across the top of my pillow and fall asleep. He also, would jump up on my chest and rub his chin across mine. I guess that he was giving me "kisses" for saving him from the Humane Society.

Around the time Casey was 3 years old, he got a urinary tract obstruction that left him on death's doorstep. I took him to my vet who was able to clear the blockage, but could not seem to get Casey to respond to treatment. He advised me to just take him home, so he could die peacefully there. I picked him up and drove across town to another animal hospital where my new vet put him on a regiment of a nasty smelling peanut butter-like paste that had to be administered several times a day. I would even leave work for 15 minutes or so to go home and give him his medicine. This cost me about $400 in 1980 money, but Casey slowly regained his strength and lived 10 more years. I remember at the time I had joined a gym and I told the guy that I would have to pay him in installments, since I was tapped out at the time due to vet bills. He was flabbergasted. His response was..."$400? I would have let the damn cat die!". To make a long story short, I never returned to his gym. No wonder it folded a year or two later.

Casey passed away at age 13 during the one year time period in the "new" house that my wife and child and I moved to in 1990. He was buried in the backyard in a pet casket, complete with headstone. While we were busy packing up all the contents of the house(including the swing-set that had taken me an entire day to assemble), my daughter said to me..."Dad, don't forget Casey." I could just as easily brought the headstone with us to the brand-new house that we had bought just around the corner, and she would have never been the wiser. But that would have been a lie, and being honest was the one trait in my child that I always felt was the most important to instill. And I still believe that to this very day!

Saturday, October 15, 2011