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Comments Off on Our Town – March 22, 2018

Our Town – March 22, 2018

| Our Town, Shopping, Small Town Stuff, Spring | March 22, 2018

Chickens and Eggs?

Originally published April 4, 2002

The Soupster juggled in his arms: a half gallon of milk, some donuts, a box of cereal, bananas and a jar of salty Greek olives. He had come in for the donuts and unconsciously filled his arms with items as he wandered around the store, greeting the large number of people he knew.

Then he got in line.

“Soupster,” said Stevarino, the shipwright, next in line, whose real name was Stefan. “Could you hold my stuff, too, while you got so much in your arms.”

“If I really don’t want to buy anything, I have to take a shopping cart,” chuckled the Soupster. “If my arms are free, I will fill them with groceries.”

“Primordial,” Stevarino said. “Grazing behavior – like cows in the pasture. Fulfilling the Prime Directive, as Captain Kirk used to say.”

“Speaking of philosophical,” said the Soupster, reaching into Stevarino’s cart and picking out a dozen free range eggs. “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

Stevarino laughed.

“No, really,” said the Soupster. “I just spent most of Saturday helping this crazy woman put up a whole display of chicken-and-egg items in the big glass cases at the entrance to the library. Every item incorporates both a chicken and an egg. And thus, each item incorporates the question – `Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

“I think it depends on how you approach the answer,” said the always-philosophical Stevarino. “If you’re talking about genes, for instance, the egg came first. Something that was almost a chicken genetically – but not quite – laid an egg which would develop into something that was just barely a chicken in genetic terms. What grew from the egg was technically a chicken, while what laid the egg was not. The egg came first.”

“Or,” Stevarino continued. “A religious person would say the chicken came first. That even if God created the egg first, what He ultimately was creating was a chicken. The egg was just the means to an end. He had in His mind the plan for a chicken and the egg was just where He started the cycle of chicken creation.”

“I see,” said the Soupster. “What the question is really asking is not ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ but ‘which came first, the design or the creation?’”

“The Creation,” said Stevarino, “Don’t get me started.”

“You’re next, Soupster,” said Bess, the checker, a little loudly, since she knew she had to pierce her voice through all of the two philosophers’ ponderous thoughts.

“Gotta go,” said the Soupster.

“Oooh,” said Stevarino. “I’m having a Sitka moment. I can see about 18 people shopping, in line or working here and I know everyone’s first name. Where does that happen?”

“Only in Our Town, that I know of,” said the Soupster.

286 total views, 1 today

Comments Off on Our Town – March 8, 2018

Our Town – March 8, 2018

| Our Town, Shopping, Small Town Stuff | March 7, 2018

The Soupster wonders who was pulling his leg.

Originally published March 13, 2008

The truth is, the Soupster was already in a terrible mood when he stopped at the store on his way home. And when he walked from his car to the front door of the supermarket, the Soupster made the mistake of looking up at the big roadside message board. He froze, muttered to himself and jumped to conclusions.

“Don’t,” the sign read and the Soupster, absurdly, took the message personally.

“Don’t what?” he growled. “Just spewing negativity with complete abandon? Typical. That’s the trouble with the world. Everywhere it’s `Don’t!’”

The Soupster took hold of the door handle, but then let go of it, took a step back and turned to face the sign. Like a person with one of those cell-phone earpieces, he spoke to the air.

“Look at that,” he said, his voice loud enough for passersby to hear, and pointing to the empty ladder up to the road sign. “Nobody is even there! They just put `Don’t!’ in your face and then they walk away – probably on one of their frequent breaks. `Don’t what?’ I’d like to know.”

The Soupster stopped spouting long enough to see a woman carrying a grocery bag give him a pitying stare and a wide berth.

Inside the store, he tried to ignore the “0 trans fat” and “Gluten free” signs. The “fortified with Omega-3” and “Acidophilous added” did not make him feel any more positive. A funk is a funk is a funk.

The Soupster tried to raise his spirits by remembering a pretty little city park he had once come across during travels in the Lower 48. A sign at the entrance had said: “Picnic, fly a kite, rollerblade, sunbathe, jog, dance” and so on. All the things you were supposed to do, instead of the “No dogs!” and “Keep Out!”

And his mood did lighten, buoyed as well by the checker’s friendly interest in what he was buying. But when the Soupster walked out the door, he saw the road sign had changed.

“Don’t Go Home,” it now said.

The Soupster got back into his car, stunned. “Don’t Go Home?” He was going home. Until now, he had been perturbed. But on the road back to his house, the Soupster felt angry.

“What kind of sick joke is that store playing on people?” “Is it even possible the sign was meant specifically for me?” “Why shouldn’t I go home?” The Soupster’s mind raced.

Two doors from his house, the Soupster pulled over to the side of the road. “Even if the sign has nothing to do with me, it is irresponsible to make people wonder if something is wrong at their home,” the Soupster stewed.

“That’s mean,” he decided and turned his car around in the direction of the store. The Soupster wasn’t sure who he was going to talk to or what he was going to say to them, but he was going to say something to somebody to straighten the responsible parties right out!

But as he neared the store, he realized at once that he would do none of that. For the sign had changed again.

Now it read: “Don’t Go Home Until You Try One of Our New Mango Shakes!”

304 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – July 16, 2015

Our Town – July 16, 2015

| Money, Our Town, Shopping, Small Town Stuff | July 16, 2015

The Soupster compares consumer choices.

Garth McGregor was a big guy, but looked strained carrying the enormous box on his shoulder. A sheen on Bart’s skin indicated a relative rarity in Our Town – sweating outside.

The Soupster held the door from the post office for the bigger man and then followed him to his truck.

“Can I get the truck door for you, Garth?” the Soupster asked.

“Thanks, Soupster,” Garth said.

Garth drove a white pickup with a crew cab and wanted to put the box on the rear seat. He grunted as he did so.

“It’s a big microwave oven I just ordered online,” Garth said. “One heavy puppy.”

“Was it a special model?” the Soupster said. “Did you look at any of the stores in Our Town? You know, ‘Buy Local’?”

“I know, I know,” said Garth. “But I was reheating some haggis my brother sent me in the middle of this great BBC penguin thing I was watching on my e-reader and the microwave burned out. Just died.”

“Wow,” said the Soupster.

“No, the haggis was still delicious, even lukewarm,” said Garth. “But, like a zombie, without even thinking, I ordered another one on the e-reader.”

“This microwave is a nice unit,” Garth continued. “But I didn’t realize it was so big and heavy. I could’ve gotten a smaller one. I’m not looking forward to lugging this up the goat trail to my house.”

The Soupster noted the model number of the microwave and asked Garth the price.  Garth told him and the Soupster wished his friend “Warm Haggis!” as Garth drove off.

“Warm haggis,” the Soupster thought, which led to another thought and then another thought until a new thought surfaced in his mind as “I need a new fluorescent bulb for my office lamp.”

At the hardware store, the Soupster was again pressed into service as a doorman. Lottie Brandywine came striding out the entrance with her usual confident commandeering of space. She was followed by a tall young man with his long arms around a big box.

As the young man passed, the Soupster noticed the item was a microwave oven, pretty much the same model that Garth had tussled with a half hour before.  He followed the young man, who followed Lottie.

Lottie popped the hatch of her car with a handheld device, instructed the young man to put the box in there and thanked him.

The Soupster sidled up and greeted Lottie.

“New microwave?” he asked.

“Aren’t we nosy,” she answered.

“Well, I just saw Garth McGregor lugging a similar microwave at the post office.”

“Oh, yeah? What did he pay?” Lottie asked. When the Soupster told her, she smiled. “I paid $8.96 more.  And I didn’t have to lug it anywhere.”

“Buy Local,” the Soupster said.

“Bye, bye,” said Lottie.

1001 total views, 2 today

Comments Off on Our Town – December 4, 2014

Our Town – December 4, 2014

| Jokes, Our Town, Shopping | December 4, 2014

The Soupster overhears secrets of the retail trade.

It’s a habit of Our Town’s residents to show great patience while waiting in a line at the supermarket, airport or the bank – especially if they can listen in on the conversation that the person in front of them is having with the person behind the counter.

In this case, the person in line in front of the Soupster was Carrie Greenough, one of the most successful merchants in town, taking a breather from her own busy gear store and out shopping local for holiday gifts at the clothing store. Behind the counter, rookie store owner Eugene “Kid” Gulliver was not completely unnervous. Carrie was a local retail legend.

“Retail is like show business,” Carrie counseled Kid. “When you put on a big sale, it’s like you’re putting on a performance.  And Black Friday is like Sweeps Week or the Emmys!”

“Wow,” Kid managed to extract.

“It’s all show business,” Carrie said. “How can I explain it to you? Maybe I’ll try this joke.”

The Soupster tilted forward onto the balls of his feet and was very quiet.

“Kid,” Carrie said. “Have you ever heard about the guy who was selling radios for less than it cost to buy them in the first place?”

“Yeah,” Carrie continued without waiting for an answer. “This guy is shopping in this electronics store and he sees these beautiful radios for $12.  So, he says to the store owner, `These are beautiful radios for only $12. How much does it cost you to get them?’ `$14.50,’ the owner says. `You’re selling these radios for less than you paid for them?’ says the customer. `How do you make any money?’

“`I make it up in volume,’ says the store owner. Get it, Kid?”

“I got it,” Kid said, smiling broadly.

“Or, here’s another old chestnut,” said Carrie.

“The customer goes into another electronics store and sees the same radio for $12,” Carrie said. “He goes to the owner and says, `Beautiful radios, I’ll take one.’ The store owner says, `I’m sorry, I’m sold out of them right now.’

“Well, the customer goes to yet another other electronics store. He sees the exact same radio selling for $20. So, the customer says, `How come these radios cost $20? They’re selling for $12 at the other store.’
`So go there and buy one,’ the store owner says. `They’re sold out of them,’ says the customer.

“`Well, if I was sold out of ‘em, I’d sell ‘em for $12, too.’”

Kid roared with laughter and slapped Carrie with a high five. “You see, Kid? Show business!”

The Soupster could keep quiet no longer. “I don’t understand either of those stories,” he said.

 

1028 total views, 2 today

Comments Off on Our Town – November 20, 2014

Our Town – November 20, 2014

| Downtown, Our Town, Shopping | November 20, 2014

The Soupster discusses No Tax Day and solves the mystery of a recurring voice.

“Why is it such a pleasure,” asked Sue, strolling downtown alongside the Soupster. “To shop on a tax-free day?”

She and the Soupster each toted several plastic bags emblazoned with the logos of Our Town merchants. Sue swung her bags happily on the crowded sidewalk, and one shopper had to make a last-minute correction to avoid being bopped.

“I know what you mean,” said the Soupster, steering Sue safely by a “Clothing Specials Galore” sign outside a woman’s shop. “The sales tax is only 5 percent. Yet it feels so good to avoid paying it.”

“I mean, if a store offered a “5 percent off” sale, I wouldn’t even get off my duff,” Sue said. “Nothing below 20 percent off even gets my attention. Yet here I am grabbing stuff like crazy.”

“What makes our `tax-phobia’ even stranger is that we all benefit from the money we pay in taxes,” said the Soupster. “I mean nobody likes taxes. But in order for Our Town to function as an organized society, paying taxes is the way we’ve chosen to have people chip in for the common good. Snow plowing, school books, sanitation…”

“Got to have sanitation,” said Sue.

“Gotta have it,” the Soupster echoed. “Well, Sue, we solved that pesky tax question. What else is strange and wonderful in your life?”

“You want strange — how about this?” she asked. “I wanted to buy a bicycle, so I called three people who advertised in the newspaper. None of the three was home and I got their three answering machines.”

“What’s strange about that?” asked the Soupster.

“All three answering machines had the same voice,” said Sue. “Then I called another friend to tell him how spooked I was. His answering machine had exactly the same voice!”

This was a good mystery for the Soupster. Was there anybody offering narration services for answering machine messages in Our Town? Couldn’t be. Some very odd burglar? Probably not. Someone who lived in three different apartments and was selling bikes out of each of them? Impossible!

The Soupster groaned with the mental effort, then looked at the store nearby and a satisfied smile stretched across his face.

“Kind of official-sounding male’s voice?” the Soupster asked.. “Neutral accent?”.

“How did you know?” Sue asked.

“Mystery solved!” said the Soupster. He took Sue by the arm and turned her gently toward the window of the store, which sold electronics. “ 20 % Off — Answering Machine Sale Ends Today,” trumpeted a big banner.

“The bike-sellers all bought the same model answering machine,” he went on. “What you heard was the voice that came pre-recorded with that model of machine. Your friend must have bought a new machine, too.”

“I live for conundrums,” the Soupster said, mostly to himself..

“Now that’s really strange,” said a grinning Sue. “And kind of wonderful!”

 

905 total views, 1 today

Comments Off on Our Town – October 24, 2013

Our Town – October 24, 2013

| Downtown, Our Town, Shopping | October 24, 2013

The Soupster gets a lesson in real wisdom.

The Soupster put his head down into the wind and lurched up Lincoln St. His stomach gurgled mightily — two of the items he had eaten for lunch evidently did not get along. He thought he might chuck up?

The argument in the Soupster’s tummy reached crisis proportions and required action. Specifically, a rest room. Luckily, he was just steps outside of Pops’ Pro Prop Shop, and the Soupster knew Pops was a kindly soul — believed by many to be the smartest guy in Our Town.

Inside the shop, Pops was leaning on his front counter, listening to Susan Gregory, the owner of Notions, Lotions & Potions, a store right down the street,

The Soupster burst in with gills so green, he didn’t even have to explain himself. Pops just jerked a thumb over his left shoulder in the direction of the commode. As soon as the Soupster reached refuge, his stomach calmed. Through the thin walls, he could hear the conversation going on at the front counter,

“Judy Barnes and I had some harsh words, Pops, about whether the new Sitka Shoulder Festival should be before or after the regular cruise ship season,” Susan said. “She just doesn’t understand that ShoulderFest should be before the regular season, when the weather is good and the daylight is increasing. You’re the smartest guy in town. What do you think?”

“Ah, the shoulders,” said Pops. He stroked his chin and took a long time to answer. “I think, Susan, that you are absolutely right.” Susan left with a big smile on her face.

The Soupster was starting to think his stomach was settled, but it gurgled loudly and he decided to set a spell and see what transpired. Just as well, for a second later the aforementioned Judy Barnes, of A Kinder Kinder children’s store, made her appearance in Pops’ Props. (ed. Note: First “Kinder” rhymes with “finder” and second Kinder rhymes with “cinder.”)

“I’m just so upset at that Susan Gregory,” Judy said. “Because ShoulderFest was her idea in the first place, she thinks she gets to decide everything, right? Who would want to have their Shoulder Festival in the Spring? Everyone is trying to get their new inventory out and prepare for the coming rush!

“Having ShoulderFest at the end of the tourist season only makes sense. Think of the Clearance Sales we could have! Pops, everybody knows you’re Our Town’s smartest guy. What do you think?”

Again, Pops stroked his chin and concentrated. Finally, he said: “Judy, after consideration, I believe you are absolutely right.” The Soupster could hear the confident, satisfied clicks of Judy’s heels as she left Pops’ shop.

The Soupster – who had loved and respected Pops for years – feared that the old man may have showed himself a fraud. He stepped out of the back and confronted Pops. “You told Susan she was right and then you told Judy she was right – even though Judy said the exact opposite of Susan. Everybody thinks you’re the smartest guy in Our Town, but all you do is tell people what they want to hear.”

Pops stroked his chin and took a long time to answer. “Soupster,” Pops said, “You are absolutely right.”

1214 total views, 1 today

Comments Off on Our Town – March 14, 2013

Our Town – March 14, 2013

| Crazy Theories, Our Town, Shopping | March 14, 2013

The Soupster shouldn’t believe everything he reads.

The truth is, the Soupster was already in a terrible mood when he stopped at the store on his way home. And when he walked from his car to the front door of the grocery store, the Soupster made the mistake of looking up at the big roadside message board. He froze, muttered to himself and jumped to conclusions.

“Don’t,” the sign read and the Soupster, absurdly, took the message personally.

“Don’t what?” he growled. “Just spewing negativity with complete abandon? Typical. That’s the trouble with the world. Everywhere it’s `don’t’! “

The Soupster took hold of the door handle, but then let go of it, took a step back and turned to face the sign. Like a person with one of those cell-phone earpieces, he spoke to the air.

“Look at that,” he said his voice loud enough for passersby to hear and pointing to the empty ladder up to the road sign. “Nobody is even there! They just put `don’t’ in your face and then they walk away – probably on one of their frequent breaks. `Don’t’ what?’ I’d like to know.”

The Soupster stopped spouting long enough to see a woman carrying a grocery bag give him a pitying stare and a wide berth.

Inside the store, he tried to ignore the “0 trans fat” and “Gluten free” signs. The “fortified with Omega-3″ and “Acidophilous added” did not make him feel any more positive. A funk is a funk is a funk.

The Soupster tried to raise his spirits by remembering a pretty little city park he had once come across during travels in the Lower 48. A sign at the entrance had said: “Picnic, fly a kite, rollerblade, sunbathe, jog, dance” and so on. All the things you were supposed to do, instead of the “No dogs!” and “Keep Out!”

And his mood did lighten, buoyed as well by the checker’s friendly interest in what he was buying. But when the Soupster walked out the door, he saw the road sign had changed. “Don’t Go Home,” it now said.

The Soupster got back into his car, stunned. “Don’t Go Home?” He was going home. Until now, he had been perturbed. But on the road back to his house, the Soupster felt angry.

“What kind of sick joke is that store playing on people?” “Is it even possible the sign was meant specifically for me?” “Why shouldn’t I go home?” The Soupster’s mind raced. Two doors from his house, the Soupster pulled over to the side of the road.

“Even if the sign has nothing to do with me, it is irresponsible to make people wonder if something is wrong at their home, “ the Soupster stewed.

“That’s mean,” he decided and turned his car around in the direction of the store. The Soupster wasn’t sure who he was going to talk to or what he was going to say to them, but he was going to say something to somebody to straighten the responsible parties right out!

But as he neared the store, he realized at once that he would do none of that. For the sign had changed again.

Now it read: “Don’t Go Home Until You Try One of Our New Mango Shakes!”

1096 total views, 1 today

Comments Off on Our Town – February 25, 2010

Our Town – February 25, 2010

| Guest Written, Lower 48, Rose Manning, Shopping | February 25, 2010

Munching cookies and waiting in line at one of his favorite downtown banks, the Soupster saw his old neighbor Kurt.

“Kurt, are those new duds you are wearing?” inquired the Soupster, eyeing his friend’s bright pink-and-green flowered shirt and yellow cotton slacks.

“Well, yes, Soupster, they are new, but how could you tell?”

“They don’t look exactly like your usual Sitka clothes. They are not quite as dark.”

“Yes, I suppose that is true. That is pretty observant of you, Soupster.”

“Are you alright, Kurt? Your eyes seem a bit glazed.”

“Oh, I am just fine. I am just having a little trouble adjusting to the quiet beauty and peace of Our Town. But thanks for asking.”

“You have been away then – I didn’t think I saw you at the local watering hole lately.”

“I have been in the land of abundant sunshine and eternal spring.”

“Oh, so you visited America and did a bit of shopping, right?”

“Yes, Soupster, I did indeed. I was overcome by the bright lights, the 70%-off marketing madness, the rushing to and fro, and especially by the traffic, even though I never saw a single roundabout. I was so taken with the quantity and infinite variety of apparel that I won’t need to shop for at least a year. I think I might even give shopping up for Lent this year.”

“I guess that trip would explain your brightly colored clothes. Did you get a chance to visit any of America’s monuments or tourist attractions while you were away?”

“I sure did. I went to Dillard’s, Macy’s Nordstrom’s, Target, R.E.I., Penney’s, Lowe’s, Whole Foods, T.J. Maxx and many more.  Soupster, can you believe that one store had one full floor of handbags?? There were tiny little jewel-encrusted envelopes and huge, feed-the-horse-oat-bag- sized things in neon colors. It looked like a flower garden. One store had the most amazing home hardware selection–I still dream about it!”

“Tell me, how does it feel to be back?”

“Just wonderful, especially the quiet, but I am excited to see that there is a new store coming to Our Town’s main street. I can’t wait for the Grand Opening.”

“My friend, I thought you were in Shopping-excess Recovery.”

– Submitted by Rose Manning

1433 total views, 1 today

Comments Off on Our Town – November 19, 2009

Our Town – November 19, 2009

| Rain, Shopping, Tourists, Weather | November 19, 2009

Crouching from the driving wind and rain, the Soupster had to peer between a nearly solid wall of advertising flyers (for fairs, concerts and meetings) covering the door and window to see if the shop was still open. Good, the light was on and the Soupster could see another customer in the aisle.

Father Time and the waning light of autumn recently convinced the Soupster that he needed new and stronger reading glasses. He was also curious about the latest hot/cold soothing patches, sure to be handy during the muscle-cramping chills to come. And maybe something to read, too.

“Soupster!” said George, the store’s owner, standing behind the counter and stacking up a clearance display of salmon-flavored caramels that didn’t go over so well with the tourists. “They let you out again?”

“Got a lot of flyers on them windows, George,” the Soupster said.

“Autumn in Our Town,” said the shopkeeper. “As soon as the last tourist lifts off, the flyers take their place. Everyone earns a breather from acting like good hosts and merchants and drivers and chefs and goes back to nursing their own obsessions.”

The Soupster glanced at the only other customer in the store, a young man over by the paperback novels whose shoulder-length locks were streaked with midnight blue and whose floor-length black coat was festooned with silver chains and studs. He wore the kind of gloves that leave most of the fingers exposed and the nails on his right hand were painted black.

The Soupster looked at George, who seemed oblivious to the Goth youth. “So much energy in Our Town,” said the shopkeeper. “So many ideas and interests and causes and beliefs. And every one deserves a flyer.”

“I wasn’t sure you were still open,” said the Soupster. “What time is it? It gets dark so early now,”

“That’s it, Soupster,” said George. “Each of the flyers on my window and door are a candle lit against the darkness. Light a candle rather than curse the darkness. What gives more light than people getting together to do good or have fun?”

The Soupster became aware of a Goth presence standing next to him. With his non-painted hand, the young man placed on the counter a Sci-Fi paperback about the ultimate destruction of the Universe. He noticed the Soupster looking at the book. “It’s for the plane,” the young man said,

“Taking a trip?” asked George.

“I’m getting out of here,” said the youthful Goth. “I thought this place was pretty cool all summer. But then it got worse and worse.”

With a glossy black fingernail, he indicated the window, where sideways hail had defeated the building’s overhang and was pounding directly against the glass. The dark was nearly complete. The Gothful youth pulled his long black coat tighter to his throat. “This place is way too depressing,” he said.

1234 total views, 4 today

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    by on October 18, 2018 - 0 Comments

    Whole Soup is a PDF version of every page of the Soup, just as it appears in the printed edition.

  • Whole Soup - August 23, 2018

    by on August 23, 2018 - 0 Comments

    Whole Soup is a PDF version of every page of the Soup, just as it appears in the printed edition.

  • Crossword - September 6, 2018

    by on September 6, 2018 - 0 Comments

    The Nat Mandel Sitka Trivia Crossword is a locally created crossword that has local clues and appears here as a pdf version that can be viewed or printed.

  • Crossword - September 20, 2018

    by on September 20, 2018 - 0 Comments

    The Nat Mandel Sitka Trivia Crossword is a locally created crossword that has local clues and appears here as a pdf version that can be viewed or printed.

  • Crossword - August 23, 2018

    by on August 23, 2018 - 0 Comments

    The Nat Mandel Sitka Trivia Crossword is a locally created crossword that has local clues and appears here as a pdf version that can be viewed or printed.

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.

Want to submit a piece for Our Town?

Contact us with your idea or completed piece. Our Town’s must be 450-500 words long, take place in or near Sitka and the Soupster must make an appearance, however brief.

Our Town Archives

Our Town Categories

Download the Latest Whole Soup

Download the Latest Crossword