Keeping up with The Jones

Thursday, April 26, 2007

One hand in my pocket

A while back when my grandfather passed away, I inherited several pair of his pants. To the untrained eye, this may not immediately seem like the greatest inheritance. I was certainly grateful; it was a piece of him to take with me and had real practical value. But even I didn’t realize the true value of these pants – until today.

This morning I slipped on a pair of uniform pants. They felt as if they were brand new. I reached my hand into the pocket, and sure enough, there was the inspector slip. I pulled it out to check it and couldn’t believe my eyes:

Inspector No. 1

Read it and weep, baby! Number one! I didn’t think any pants inspected by the original had been preserved. And these things are in mint condition. I just hope I haven’t damaged their value by wearing them today. I didn’t get anything on them or anything. I need to go home and seal them in one of those vacuum storage bags. Someday, my grandson will thank me.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Emergency! Disaster!

Here’s a rundown of my schedule the past three days:

6:30 AM– Get up to brew a cambro full of coffee (first time I’ve ever made coffee, but was told several times – unsolicited – that it was good. I hope so) and load our EDS canteen.

8:00 AM– Depart on a traffic filled journey to Jersey.

9:30 AM– Arrive in Bound Brook, NJ, a town that was badly flooded during a recent storm. Jersey EDS called GNY for extra help on this one, so we got called into duty Thursday and Friday, and eventually Saturday as well.

9:31 AM-7:30 PM – Serve sandwiches, snacks, the aforementioned coffee, water and Gatorade to policemen, firefighters, and utility workers trying to clean up the area and restore electricity. The residents had evacuated, but by Friday and Saturday they were back in force to clean out their homes and businesses.

8:00 PM – Depart for home.

9:00 PM – Arrive back at the corps, unload, clean up

10:00 PM – Get some rest and get ready to do it again.

When I got the call Wednesday night, I was not looking forward to taking care of all this. For one, I was already tired. For another, I needed to find someone to go with me, and all the usual suspects were away or otherwise unavailable.

But then John, one of our soldiers, called me late Wednesday night and told me he’d gotten the two days off from work and could come with me. We went and were blessed by the opportunity to serve and by the fellowship we shared together. Despite being physically tired we both readily accepted the opportunity to return yesterday, and although John had to back out because of a family commitment, I thank God for the chance to be used to serve others.

But I’m definitely sleeping in tomorrow.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


There are times when I cannot help but acknowledge the providence of God. Times when I feel very, very small, and inadequate, because of my shortsightedness. Times when I’m just thankful He’s got a plan, and He factors me in.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Mail time – repeat offenders

Yesterday I got a letter in the mail from my car insurance company. Since I’ve already received my insurance cards, and my coverage is paid in full through September, I really can’t think of any good reason to get correspondence from them. Sure enough, it was bad news. Worse yet, it was bad news I’ve already addressed.

A while back I mentioned that I tried to apply for car insurance online but was turned down due to the company’s inability to “confirm the garaging location” (proof of address). For some reason, they thought I still lived in Massachusetts, where I haven’t lived for nearly six years. At the time, the list of items acceptable as proof was too narrow for my purposes. So I had to go and actually apply with a broker, who accepted my pay stub as proof and actually managed to save me even more money.

As I opened the letter yesterday, I was less than thrilled to see a request to “confirm the garaging location,” within the week or risk premium increase or cancellation of my policy. Interestingly, this list of proof items was broader, and included pay stubs 60 days old or less. Not only does the broker have a copy of my pay stub on file that was less than 60 days old at the time of the policy issue, it’s still less than 60 days old now. So what’s the problem?

(Side note: would not the fact that I received the very letter in question at that address suggest that is indeed where I live?)

“Hello, insurance.”

Blah, blah, blah, garaging location.

“Did you provide us with proof of address.”

There’s a pay stub on file.

“Okay, yes. We sent this to them. I don’t understand, this is your address.”

Yes, yes it is. I don’t understand either.

“Well, it says here they think the vehicle is in Massachusetts. That’s what the credit check showed.”

Uh huh.

Here’s the thing. I’m dying to know what incompetent credit check company thinks I live in Massachusetts. Apparently their profile shows a 28 year old man who has spent the past six years paying no bills, maintaining no bank accounts, accruing no debt, having no employment, having no license in the state, and this is most important, having no legally registered motor vehicle.

Because there is literally nothing that tethers me to the address they have listed. My parents haven't lived there in six years either. The car I’m trying to insure, to my knowledge, has only ever been registered at three addresses, all of them in New York.

They re-sent the pay stub. This better be the last I hear of this. Next step is a dinner party at my house, and I just don’t have the space for that sort of thing.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Delayed gratification

Last night I was able to check another item off of my list of athletic achievements to accomplish before I die. Actually, no such list exists, but if one did, this would most certainly be on it: played pickup basketball with a Harlem Globetrotter.

The game in question didn’t occur last night, and the Globetrotter in question wasn’t actually a Globetrotter at the time of the game. But last night it was brought to my attention that a guy I once played pickup ball with in college went on to become a Harlem Globetrotter in 2003.

If you know anything about Houghton basketball, you know the extreme unlikelihood that anyone associated with it would go on to achieve such lofty heights. I attended every home game I could during my four years and witnessed exactly one victory.

I still remember playing that pickup game. I remember being very excited about the prospect of watching this guy play for the Highlanders. He was easily the best ball handler I’ve ever seen, pulling moves I never even thought physically possible, much less legal. He could often be seen running around the track, honing his craft by dribbling two tennis balls between his legs with each alternating step. Unfortunately, I think he got injured, because I never once saw him play for the team.

But today we salute Seth Franco, the pride of Houghton basketball.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mail Time – Special Edition

It was a big day for the Jones mailbox – a wedding invitation and a birth announcement. Neither of the items were a surprise; I’m the best man in the wedding and I regularly read the blog of the new father. But it’s still the kind of mail day that gets me thinking (especially when compared to the usual contents of my mailbox: nothing).

First off, this is the fifth time I’ve been privileged to be in a wedding party, and I’m always amused when I get the mailed invite to these weddings. I know it’s mostly a formality at that point, but should I RSVP? I think they already know I’m coming.

(Important note: in my case, this question is largely hypothetical, since I don’t think I’ve ever RSVPed. I realize this is rather problematic, but I just can’t help myself. I figure it’s okay if I’m not going, and if I am, I make sure they know some other way. Anyway, if you’re planning to invite me to your wedding, at the very least you may want to save yourself the extra enclosed stamp. Just a heads up.)

Of course, of far greater significance is that the groom in question just so happens to be my brother. That’s right: in a month and a half, my kid brother will be a married man. Again, this wasn’t exactly news, but there’s just something about holding it in your hands, in black and white, that really hammers it home.

As for the birth, recently old friend Aaron Guest became a proud papa to his first, a son Isaac. The lovely announcement reminded me just how weird it is every time a guy you grew up with suddenly qualifies as daddy.

So congratulations all around, maybe a little early, maybe a little late, but days like today I lose all sense of time.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Catching up

My blog was dormant all last week while my brother was in town with three Houghton students for a mission trip here in Staten Island. I'll try to post some happenings from their stay soon. But first...

During kettle season I derived a great deal of entertainment from watching commuters sprint across the ferry terminal trying to catch the boat. A week ago Friday, I understood their desperation for the first time.

That night our entire corps was joining corps from across the division at Madison Square Garden for the Greatest Show on Earth. I love the circus and was looking forward to going. The only problem: that was the very night my brother was to arrive with the students. I wanted to be here to meet them.

Luckily they were scheduled to get in late enough that I could go to the show and only have to leave a little early to get back in time. When it got to be about 9:40, I decided I should probably leave and try to catch the 10 o’clock ferry. I slipped out of my section and headed for the nearest escalator. The only problem: both escalators connecting my floor to the one below were running up. I quickly headed to the next escalator section: One running up, one turned off.

I ran down the one that was off only to be greeted by two upward running escalators the next floor down. I quickly sought help. The first usher mumbled something about elevator D. While in search of the perhaps mythical elevator, I encountered another usher who wondered why I would want to leave before the show was over. Apparently you need a note from your mom to leave the circus early. I offered the most succinct explanation I could and was directed to a nearby staircase.

The staircase eventually led me to an exit on a different side of the Garden from the one I entered, and I had no idea where the subway was. I glance at my watch: 9:45. I ran two blocks and started to give up hope of catching the boat. Then I looked to my right and saw the station. I ran inside just as the express train arrived.

Riding the express I kept checking my watch. I knew it would be close. We pulled up to the stop where I needed to transfer to the local at 9:55. Less than a minute later the train arrived. As we pulled up to South Ferry station, it was 10:00 on the dot. Everyone shifted towards the doors in anticipation.

The doors opened and pandemonium ensued. We bottlenecked to the bottom of the first staircase where one obese gentleman was moving as fast as he could, clearly stood no chance of catching the boat, but was nonetheless blocking half the staircase. I swerved around him and hit the main floor running. I bounced through the turnstile and headed for the stairs up to the ferry. Everyone was sprinting, but some were running out of gas. I flew up the stairs behind an erratic gentleman a half step slower, trying to keep my pace and balance.

As we approached the counters, this same gent swerved back and forth, unable to pick a path as I tried to navigate behind him. Still going full force, I saw that one door had already closed, and the other was two thirds there. Halfway across the terminal, I saw the giant digital clock tick to 10:01. The DOT doorman looked at us and shrugged.


Made it.