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Comments Off on Our Town – April 11, 2013

Our Town – April 11, 2013

| Craftsman, Jobs, Money, Our Town, Work | April 11, 2013

The Soupster contemplates the future.

The Soupster sipped a frothy, fizzy, pinkish punch from a clear plastic cup. He and the friends who surrounded him raised their plastic cups to wish the best to Glenn the plumber, who was finally retiring.

One would think a man who had spent nearly 50 years with half his body crammed under a damp sink might be a little stiff in the joints, but not Glenn. Delighted that so many of his friends had come to see him “off,” Glenn flitted effortlessly from one to next like a honeybee intoxicated by a field of flowers.

The only person the Soupster trusted more with his pipes than Glenn was the Soupster’s former gastroenterologist, Dr. Berra. And Glenn was a close second. Over the decades that Glenn had kept the water flowing at Chez Soupster, he had dealt with exploding pipes, leaky water heaters and, worst of all, really, really rusty bolts holding the broken toilet seat on. And he had done so as cheerfully as he now visited with his guests.

“Gonna miss Glenn,” thought the Soupster, “like I miss Dr. Berra,“ who had retired to Gig Harbor the previous year.

A lot of the people in the room were customer-friends of Glenn’s, and a large portion of them practiced other trades. For “birds of a feather” reasons, many of them were near retirement age themselves.

The Soupster did a quick head count and realized with a start that he might soon be losing Burt, his auto mechanic, his dentist Linda, his bartender Tracey, and Big Leon — who could fix anything. And that was only the people in the room!

It’s common knowledge that people don’t seem older to themselves – that they feel like they’ve always been the same person inside. Seeing the people around you get older can be more profound, especially if they perform a vital function. Who’s going to fill your cavity or mix your martini?

The Soupster admitted that he felt some vertigo every time he dealt with an especially competent professional who was young enough to be his son, or worse. Once, pulled over for having expired plates, the Soupster got out of the car with all the confidence of an older and wiser man ready to forgive the impetuous youngster, except that the officer was right. The old Soupster’s embarrassment was punishment enough, evidently, because he was let go with a warning.

In Our Town, the Soupster sometimes got the double dizzies when dealing with an authority figure he remembered as a little kid. The banker who signed the Soupster’s loan was the same kid the Soupster saw win a Hoop Shoot in the 1980’s.

Glenn’s daughter had brought her small children to the party and a few of their friends had tagged along. The Soupster looked them over and wondered which of the little people might morph into authority figures of the future.

Would any of them shoot for the moon someday? Would any of them walk on the moon someday?

A plump, fresh faced three-year-old waddled up to the Soupster. “I want to be an astronaut!” she said.

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Comments Off on Our Town – November 1, 2012

Our Town – November 1, 2012

| Couples, Jobs, Money, Our Town, Relationships | October 31, 2012

Only 25 and Tim felt he was in a whole second life. He, alone, had to take care of 16-month-old Hazel as a single Dad for the next three days. Three days could be 30 diapers that would need changing. Could be more than 30. He shuddered.

That morning, Tim’s wife Gretchen left town on business. There was no question but that she should go – even if that meant leaving Tim with the baby. Gretchen had the real job with real pay and good benefits– she had to dress up, travel on business and make sure she had an admired cell phone model (she was in tech).

When they were first married and Gretchen was in school, Tim had the job and there was no baby – that’s what he now thought of as his first life. Back then, Tim had a retail gig, which was fine and paid okay, as long as it was just Tim and Gretchen. No benefits, but they were healthy. Tim would have preferred working outside building things, but retail was fine. Until the store closed.

For a while Tim felt sorry for himself. Gretchen felt sorry for him, too. It was she who suggested he take some construction training and raise the whole family up another economic notch. Hazel generated a lot of bills and whole slew of new worries.  And she generated a lot of dirty diapers that needed changing.

After Tim graduated from the training program, he put the word out with friends and filled out applications all over Our Town. But there were no jobs for him that were outside and involved building things. Tim had really liked the idea of moving the family up a notch. But they were stuck in the same notch.

Tim had even complained to the Soupster a day earlier, as the two chatted while waiting for milkshakes. The Soupster agreed that Gretchen had to go and leave Hazel with Tim. Normally an angelic child, Hazel had decided to test her father’s mettle the minute Gretchen’s plane took off skyward.

A list too long to make (and who wants to castigate an innocent child?) but Hazel’s transgressions were many. Tim felt himself losing his grip on his second life. He also was losing his grip on a seriously soiled diaper. The phone rang. Cindy at the placement office for the training program said there was a big project coming up that would require a lot of people who liked building things outside. The employer had Tim’s resume and the program’s recommendation, and Tim should expect a phone call from the employer shortly.

This was a notch-raising opportunity.

Tim celebrated by opening a brand new package of baby wipes. Hazel picked up the vibe and stopped being such a little poop. Gretchen would be home before long. Hooray, second life!

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Comments Off on Our Town – August 23, 2012

Our Town – August 23, 2012

| Jobs, Money, Our Town, Small Town Stuff | August 22, 2012

After enduring a somewhat sketch marriage in her twenties, 34-year-old Annie was basically glad she had the romantic gumption to follow her heart and a charismatic fisherman to Our Town. But it gnawed at her that she had left a job as a retail store manager and could not find the equivalent employment here. Especially after the fisherman moved on — after different fish, she surmised.

To Annie, becoming a saleswoman again after so many years as a manager felt even worse than the simple demotion it was. Worse still was the cut in her pay. Our Town certainly didn’t feel any cheaper than where Annie had moved from. But in Our Town she had about a third less to make do with.

Bemoaning her fate is where the Soupster had expected to find his friend when he stopped by to pick up some flower bulbs that she was giving away. It was typical of Annie to be generous.

The Soupster smiled at the thought of generosity of so many people in Our Town. There was no better reason to be wealthy, the Soupster thought, than to be able to be generous with your time or your money. And here was Annie, struggling, yet using her time to give away her precious bulbs.

There are those who come to Our Town to take high-level jobs and, for them, financial discomfort may not be an issue. Others come for the mountains and the clean air (or a fisherman!) and cobble together several jobs to survive.

But that’s just money, the Soupster thought. A lot of life comes from family, friends, tradition, and belief – not to mention a good subsistence halibut or three. There was little sadder, the Soupster thought, than the old miser alone with his stacks of gold coins. And little more triumphant than someone thriving on modest means, surrounded by life and love.

And just as the Soupster had that thought, he looked up to see Annie’s face filled with life and love. She stood in her doorway beaming.

“Soupster,” she cried out, loud enough to startle a crow, “My manager decided just this week that she wants to move back to Idaho to be nearer her parents. The Assistant Manager’s boyfriend is being transferred to New Orleans and she’s going with him. So guess who’s going to be the new manager?”

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Would you like to create an Our Town?

The Sitka Soup would welcome an infusion of “new blood.” You may tell your story in words (450-500 of them), or as a graphic “cartoon” strip. We would even consider a short original photo essay with B&W photos. Your Our Town must be closely connected with the life of Sitkans, and the Soupster must make an appearance, even if it’s a brief one.

If we run your Our Town, we’ll pay you $50. To submit: Email your creation to shop@sitkasoup.com and put “Our Town” in the Subject line. Or call: 747-7595.

What is Our Town?

Our Town is a bi-weekly column that tracks the life of the Soupster and his friends and neighbors.

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

The first Our Town was published December 22, 1999.

Read Our Towns published before February 2009 HERE.

Who is the Soupster?

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

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