The Eyes Have It

It’s a frigid Saturday afternoon and I’m at the dog park with Buster, my joint custody pooch. As I watch Buster evade a Chihuahua by leaping on top of a picnic table, I stamp my feet in an attempt to keep warm. I might be freezing my balls off, but, by the way Buster’s tail is wagging, he looks like he could stay out here all day. Then again, he hasn’t got any balls. I should know. I paid to have them removed. Maybe this is Buster’s way of getting back at me.

A gust of wind bounces off the nearby river and the park’s nude trees begin to shiver. I pull my watch cap down over my ears and glance at my watch. If Buster doesn’t get his daily bout of exercise he’ll act like a whiny nudge all night. I guess I can survive fifteen minutes before terminal shrinkage kicks in. As I try to remember the first aid protocol for treating a frostbitten penis, I hear the latch to the dog park’s gate rattle. I turn around and smile when I see who’s coming in. It’s an old man named Peter, being dragged along by his his six month old Jack Russell terrier, Rembrandt.

“Hey Peter,” I call out.

“Hi Steve,” Peter replies. “Happy New Year.”

“Happy New Year to you too.”

“How’s Buster doing?”

“Being his normal anti-social self.”

Peter laughs and pulls his coat tighter around him. “That’s the kind of dog he is.”

“Yep.”

“Lord,” Peter says, “It’s freezing out.”

“This is when owning a dog sucks,” I reply.

“Tell me about it,” Peter says. “So how’s the new book coming along?”

“I’ve been doing a lot of interviews lately,” I reply. “Now that the holidays are over people have time to talk to me.”

“Who’ve you been talking you?”

“Doormen, strippers, hair stylists, waiters – any one who lives on tips.”

“Strippers huh?” Peter says, his eyes glinting. “Tough research huh?”

I chuckle. Peter’s a ninety-one year old guy with a lively wit and a zest for living. I don’t know many people born in 1918 who surf the web, drive hybrid cars, or rescue dogs out of shelters – but Peter does. Peter was born when Woodrow Wilson was President. He lived through the Great Depression, served in World War II, married and buried a wife, and saw the entire world change around him. It amazes me to think that he was fifty-one when I was born. Heck, he’s old enough to be my father’s dad.

“I’ve been doing most of my interviews over the phone,” I reply. “But soon I’ll be traveling to places and seeing the real thing.”

“So you’ll hit a few burlesque shows?” Peter asks.

“Maybe,” I say, winking.

“Tough work.”

“And how.”

“Where you gonna travel to?” Peter asks.

“Well, I’m trying to get a gig working at a coffee shop in Portland or Seattle. Try and get a sense of what those baristas go through.”

“Hey,” Peter says. “I know Seattle well.”

“Oh yeah?”

“I was in the coastal artillery back in ’41. Guarded the Bremerton Naval Yards.”

“Wow.”

“Never did see any Japs,” Peter says. “But after Pearl Harbor we were convinced they were coming.”

“They did try floating balloons with bombs from Japan,” I say. “A few actually reached the Northwest and caused damage.”

“That’s right,” Peter says. “But it wasn’t a big deal.”

“Unless the balloon fell in your yard.”

“I guess.”

“Did you spend the whole war with the costal artillery?”

“No,” Peter says, “I guarded German POWs for a while.”

“Any of them escape?”

“A few, but we always caught them.”

“What did you do to escapees?”

“We put them on bread and water for a day then let them back in with their buddies.”

“Sounds kind of soft.”

Peter laughs. “If an American serviceman went AWOL we threw him in the stockade for three months.”

“Better to be in the German Army in that case.”

“The krauts were dating the American girls in town,” Peter says. “Man’s gonna jump the fence when he gets lonely.”

“I’ll bet some of those guys married those girls and settled here in the States.”

“”Some of them did,” Pete says laughing. “Some of them did.”

“So did you finish out the war as a guard?” 

“No,” Peter replies. “I got bored guarding prisoners so I trained as a medic. Eventually the army sent me to Walter Reed in D.C. to help with all the casualties.” 

“That must have been rough.” 

Peter looks at his dog and says nothing. For a long moment he looks his entire ninety-one years. “I saw things there that I never should have seen,” he says, softly. “Guys missing half their faces, all four limbs gone, crazy from shell shock. It was bad.”

I nod silently.

“But what really tore me up was when the soldiers’ families would visit,” Peter says. “And they’d see what happened to their sons or husbands.”

I remember something I read recently, “War is worse than hell, because hell punishes sinners but war punishes everyone.” But I don’t have to tell Pete that. He understands that on a level I never will.

“So what you do after the war?” I ask, changing the subject.

“Oh, lot’s of things,” Peter says, his face brightening. “I got married, had kids, that sort of thing.”

“What did you do for work?”

“I worked for the phone company for forty years,” Peter says proudly. “Then me and the wife traveled the world when I retired.”

“Very cool,” I reply. “Where did you go?”

“Everywhere,” Peter says. “Europe, Australia, China, Africa, Japan – you name it we went there.”

“Sounds like you and your wife had a great time.”

“We did, we did,” Peter says. “How about you? You ever been to abroad?”

‘I’m afraid not,” I reply. “Canada is about as international as I’ve gotten.”

“That’s one of the nice things about getting old,” Peter say. “You get time to travel.”

“My parents are doing that now,” I reply. 

“Good for them.”

“What country did you least enjoy visiting?” I ask.

“Ugh,” Peter says. “I visited the Soviet Union back in the early ’80′s What a joyless place.”

“I can imagine.”

“I didn’t see anyone with a dog like we have here” Peter says, pointing to Rembrandt. “Isn’t that nuts? I think most people there couldn’t afford one.”

“They were standing on line for toilet paper back then.”

“True,” Peter says. “But you want to know the craziest thing that happened to me in Russia?”

“Tell me.”

“I was staying at a hotel in Leningrad,” Peter says. “It’s was for Westerners only. I got on the elevator to go the lobby and you know what I saw?’

“What?”

“The most incredible set of violet eyes in the world.”

Since I’m a fan of old movies I make the connection instantly. “You met Elizabeth Taylor?”

“Yep,” Pete says. “Can you believe it?”

“That’s very, very cool.”

“She was once considered the most beautiful woman in the world you know.” 

“I know.” 

“It was her eyes,” Peter says, shaking his head. “Her eyes were amazing. Like jewels. And I got to meet her.”

I look at Peter. He’s thin, wearing an old down jacket and a hat with ear flaps. His face is lined with wrinkles and some of his teeth are askew. Many people walk past him and think he’s just another old man walking his dog in the park. But if you took five minutes to talk with him, you’d quickly realize that you were in the presence of someone who had lived all of his ninety-one years well. Peter’s eyes have seen the world in all it’s agony and ecstasy. As a result, they they shine with a luster that would give Ms. Taylor’s peepers a run for their money. I wonder what my eyes will look like when I’m old.

“Elizabeth Taylor was beautiful,” I say. “But I was always an Ava Gardner fan myself.”

“Oh boy,” Peter says. “She was something else too.”

At this point Buster nuzzles up against my leg. He’s finally had enough.

“Well Peter,” I say. “It’s time for me to go. I can’t feel my face anymore.”

“I think it’s time for me to be going to,” Pete says. “These old bones hate the cold.”

“I’ll see you next time.”

“See ya.”

I leash Buster up and get into my car. As we wait for the heater to kick in I watch Peter climb into his macked out hybrid SUV – the kind with video cameras to help see behind you. He’s a piece of work.

And I want to be just like him when I grow up.


Comments

The Eyes Have It — 87 Comments

  1. Posts like this are why I started reading this blog two and a half years ago. You’re always worth a laugh and a tear, Waiter!

  2. great story Steve. Thank you again and again. no war stories myself but i get all i can handle through my son who just returned from Kandahar before the holidays. Word is our troops are not doing that well over there. the officer that replaced him (a friend of his from his Germany base) was KIA this past weekend. He has been to enough full honors funerals for a multitude of lifetimes. I don’t envy his life experience, I just respect that he has chosen a dificult career and give him as much support as I can.

  3. Stupid cold weather.

    I think if you really run the Christian concept of hell through there, the statement doesn’t work as well. Christians believe that we are all sinners. The ones that don’t end up in hell are those that through His grace are saved. So, hell would punish everyone but for Him. At least, that’s my understanding of Christian theology.

  4. Waiter, thank you. I’ll probably never be lucky enough to meet Peter, but now I feel like I know him. I’m grateful that you shared him with us. I love hearing about people who set about living their lives to the fullest, and I always recommend doing the same.

  5. Gosh Steve. Too bad you can’t take your dog to the market. Think of what a great conversation you could have had at the deli counter, instead of being pissed off at the old people who wanted a half pound of cheese. For that matter, too bad Peter wasn’t there to show you what he knows about lunch meat.

    Have you shown him a copy of your previous screed?

  6. I’ve met people twenty years younger than Peter who are miserable old people. Age is a state of mind. If you get old and turn into a crazed deli counter maven – well that’s your fault.

    Some people are graceful all their lives. Some are not. Some grow into it. Many don’t.

    So yes, I’d show Peter my “screed.” He’d probably agree with me!

  7. You are a very good writer! I’ve been following your blog for eons now.

    I love your non waiter rants, did you ever consider writing a fiction novel?

    Congratulations on your books’ success.

  8. This story reminds me of when I helped a 90 year old woman get on the bus with her shopping trolley. I sat next to her and got chatting and we kept chatting for the 15 minutes or so until we both got off the bus. She’ll be 91 this month. Peter sounds really interesting too.

  9. A wonderful post. You always have such a great way of describing people. I hope that you make Portland your choice of cities to write about. We have better coffee, as well as better restaurants and breweries! And, we tip more than Seattlites, too! :)

  10. this is wonderful. I really appreciate all the older people who are like that and have lived and enjoyed their life to the fullest extent. I also wanna be like that the whole time I’m growing up!
    also, Steve, if you get a job at a coffeeshop in Seattle you HAVE to let me know. I would love to drop by and meet you. Hint: downtown has a lot of coffeeshops, and capitol hill. well actually they’re all over the place =)

  11. It always staggers my imagination when I think of the things people of Homer’s age have seen.

    We will never again see such changes.

  12. It always staggers my imagination when I think of the things people of Homer’s age have seen.

    We will never again see such changes.

  13. I loved this story. Reminds me of my old job, a bit. On tuesdays we had a ‘senior citizen appreciation day’ which was basically just free coffee and donuts for the seniors. But man, I got in more trouble because of that… my fifteen minute breaks would end up being twenty minutes, half hour, etc because I’d spend my breaks with the war veterans and just listen to them swap stories about their lives. Amazing people. Good to know I’m not the only one enjoying their stories. :-D

  14. I just buried my father in November, he was 84. He was a German soldier in WWII and I loved listening to his stories. He didn’t tell many, I think he just wanted to let that go. But he was an heroic man who was just 18 years old and doing what he did to defend his country. He really didn’t talk about it much but from what I gleaned from his sisters and such, I think he was a brave and honorable man in that conflict. Loyalties get mixed up and sometimes wrongly accused. Every man who fights for his country believes he is doing good. Hindsight is always 20/20. But we should respect their convictions; they worked with the information they were given. I guess this post from you struck a nerve.

    I have your book, I love your posts here and I am looking forward to your next insightful and very thoughtful book. And my dogs don’t like the cold either (wuss Shih Tzus).

  15. War vets are awesome–check out this song:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwpO8Q1u4Ss

    Some of my favorite people are old.

    And I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate cold weather! Though it is nice that my dog actually wants to snuggle with me when it’s cold–he usually prefers the floor. He doesn’t like the cold, either, and he’s a Border Collie/Blue Heeler (aka Australian Cattle Dog) mix.

    And yes, everyone who visits this site knows that you’re amazing author. Just don’t get a big head about it. ;)

  16. Since I lost my mom and dad several years ago, I find myself wanting to talk with the elderly more often. I miss the slower, carefully considered pace of their thoughts. Thanks, Steve, for another reminder of my dear parents.

    If readers here are interested in hearing vets talk about their experiences, you’ll enjoy the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress. Full disclosure: I work on the loc.gov site but not specifically on the VHP.

  17. I recently talked to a Marine Corps recruiter about possibly signing up to do a 4 year stint. All I get when I tell my friends and family is an ear-full about what a huge mistake I’ll be making if I enlist. This gentleman went through WWII serving and the people of this country got behind it’s soldiers and celebrated their sacrifice. I think that’s the kind of position people in the U.S. should be fervent upon taking nowadays. I see the government as somewhat corrupt and vile, especially with the war in Iraq and the Wall Street “No Conditions Applied” to the bailout money given to Banks and Financiers, but I still like to think that this country and it’s government does far more good for than harm to the people of both our nation and others around the world. I’m not sure if Peter would agree with me, but I have made up my mind and that’s all anyone really can do for themselves without constraint.

    Also wanted to wish you good luck finding a good destination spot: I live in Portland’s inner Ne Alberta Arts district. Tons of fun things to do in Portland. I think just the fact that the Supersonics left Seattle goes to show you have dreary a place it can be lol. Portland has great local breweries, awesome cafes, not just in downtown, but in all different areas of our fine city, and superb fine dining restaurants that aren’t going to cost you more than $30 per entree. Also the people in Portland are, in my opinion, some of the most polite and honest you’ll get to experience in any city. Oh, and to Old Geezer, you really need to either start eating prunes, or stop eating lemons, it’s really starting to get you too uptight for living. Nice post btw.

  18. You are nicer to your dog than I am to mine. I would have made the dog wait if I wanted to talk! Of course, I guess it’s easier in California weather like today at 80 degrees F all day. ;-)
    -Eva

  19. It’s really true what you say about attitude making so much difference. I had one day at work where my first five patients were all over 90, and all active and with-it and lively, if a bit slowed down. Then my next patient was a 76 year old who didn’t want to bother fixing his teeth because “I’m too old. It’s not worth bothering.” He seemed a lot older than the others.
    Waiter — Keep writing! They are always touching.

  20. i used to think that it would be miserable to be that old. but to be that old and have lived that kind of life…i’d give anything for that now.

  21. You said “standing ON line” not “standing IN line.”

    I say this also but I say it because I was raised in a particular part of the UK where that’s the vernacular expression. Is this the case in your part of the US?

  22. Portland has more strip clubs per capita than any city in the U.S…..just sayin’ :)
    Also, full bar, full nudity – food for thought.

  23. Portland is WAAAAY better than Seattle, and our weather is better too. Seattle has fewer trees per acre than LA even, because they have no urban planning. We in Portland have parks and green spaces everywhere, and less urban sprawl.

    Also, I LOVED hearing stories from my grandfather–born on a Montana ranch in 1888. He had seen SOOO much. And my mother, who drove a route for Meals on Wheels, introduced us to a woman who had actually been born a slave in the South; talk about stories…

  24. Thanks Steve. I’ve been in a really crappy mood all morning and this post finally got me to think of something other than myself. Peter seems like a great man, irregardless he deserves respect for living as long as he has and seeing all the terrible things he’s seen and still being able to smile and chat.

    PS-What’s a “screed”?

  25. KOBE_BRYANT69
    Male, 26, La Palma, CA

    Posted Jan 13

    I ALWAYS WONDERED, IS THERE A HEAVEN OR HELL? IF THERE IS A HELL, IM THINKIN IM PROLLY GONNA GO TO HELL, IT MAKES ME SAD, WHY DOES SHIET HAVE TO BE SO HARD, I WANNA CRY, THEN SLAP A BI. IF U BAD AND SELFISH U GO TO HELL, IF UR GOOD AND GIVING U GO TO HEAVEN, HOW ABOUT IF UR YOUNG AND U DIE OF CANCER, DO U AUTOMATICALLY GO TO HEAVEN, BUT WAT IF U WERE BAD AND SELFISH ALSO, THEN WHERE THE FUK WOULD U GO, WAT IF U WERE BAD, THEN TURNED GOOD, WHERE WOULD U GO AFTER U DIE? IT COULD GO EITHER WAY IN SO MANY WAYS, IF U WERE BAD, DO U GET REINCARNATED AS A COCKROACH? THAT WOULD SUK, ALOT OF TIMES I WISH I WASNT EVEN BORN, CUZ LIFE IS SO FUKKKKED UP SOMETIMES, I DONT EVEN LIKE GETTTING UP MOST OF THE TIME NIGGGGGA, EVERYTHING SEEMS TO BE SUCH A CHORE, EVEN EATING HAS BECOME MUNDANE, AND WHEN U WATCH THE NEWS, ALL U HEAR ABOUT IS BAD NEWS AND ABOUT ALL THE FUKKKKED UP SHIET IN THE WORLD, ALL THE GREED AND HATRED, SURE THIS IS GOOD ALSO, BUT EVIL SEEMS TO BE SO MUCH MORE OUT THERE, LOOK AT THE US, HOW RICH IT IS, AND THEN U LOOK AT AFRICA AND JUST HOT POOR AND STARVING ALL THE PEOPLE ARE, THEN U HEAR ABOUT BERNIE MADOFF AND HOW HE LOST 50 BILLION DOLLARS OF RICH PEOPLES MONEY, THEN U SEE BUMS ON THE STREET EATING OUT OF THE TRASH CAN, THEN U EAT AT BUFFETS WHERE THERE IS ENDLESS FOOD, AND THEN U SEE IMAGES OF PEOPLE DYING IN AFRICA OF STARVATION, LIFE I SO FUKKKED UP IN HOW RANDOM AND UNFAIR IT IS, ALOT OF TIMES THERE SEEMS LIKE THERES NO RHYME OR REASON, BUT THEN AT THE SAME TIME U THINK THERE MUST BE A GOD, I MEAN WHO COULD HAVE CREATED NATURE, THE WONDERS OPF THE UNIVERSE, THE COMPLEXT HUMAN BODY, THE CREATION OF ART AND MUSIC, SO MANY THINGS IN THE WORLD APPREAR TO BE A MIRACLE TO ME, SOMETHING THAT COULD NOT BE MAN MADE, SO IN THE END , I THINK THERE WAS A GOD THAT CREATED EVERYTHING, BUT I FEEL LIKE HE DIED, RIGHT AFTER HE CREATED THE UNIVERESE, HE CREATED US, THEN JUST DESERTED US, WHERE DO WE GO TO AFTER WE DIE? I HAVE NO IDEA, A BIG PART OF ME WISHES THAT IT WOULD JUST BE ALL OVER, NO MORE THOUGHTS , NO MORE WORRIES, NO MORE FEELINGS, I DONT CARE ABOUT HEAVEN, THAT WOULD BE HEAVEN TO ME, BUT THEN A BIG PART OF ME THINKS THERE MUST BE SOME KIND OF JUDGEMENT ON HUMAN SOULS, IT WOULD BE UNFAIR IF ALL PEOPLE HAD THE SAME FATE, PEOPLE ARE SO DIFFERENT, ESEPCIALLY GOOD PEOPLE AND BAD PEOPLE, IF EVERYONE HAD THE SAME FATE, IT WOULD DEFINITELY BE UNFAIR, BUT AS EVERYONE ALREADY KNOS LIFE IS UNFAIR

  26. A lovely post, Waiter.
    Please come to Portland! Will this be clandestine research, or will you alert your readers where you’ll be? Portland’s a great foodie town with lots of great coffee shops, and if you’re here in the summer, the weather’s great! No humidity here, just sunny, 75 degree days. Plus, you can check out your book at Powell’s!
    When you decide, you should let your readers know. Seems there are at least a few other Portlanders out there who’d love to order coffee from you!

  27. I hope your entry encourages other people to take the time to chat with our older citizens.
    I inherited my Mom’s friends as I came back from overseas and settled into a tiny mountain town.The ladies are sixty-something at the youngest and eighty-six at the oldest.
    Never truer friends have I before met.
    I chatted with one about animals and found out that she and her husband had run a Hollywood animal actors business.
    The cougars featured in Disney’s “Charlie the Lonesome Cougar”
    were hers…
    Lots of stories and lessons learned are awaiting us if we just take the time.
    Tell Pete I said hello.

  28. There’s a song that goes,

    That’s somethin’ to proud of
    That’s a life you can hang your hat on
    That’s a chin held high as a tear falls down….

    Don’t know the rest, but it seems more appropriate now than the one in my earlier comment.

  29. A few months ago a found you book at the bookstore. I enjoyed it thouroughly. I even put it aside for 3 days because I was down to the last two chapters and wanted to briefly savour it. Not wanting it to end. It felt like saying good bye to a friend. I personally started serving again at 32.
    I look forward to your posts like this one. You are an amazing writer. I look forward to your next book!

  30. Steve, It’s too late for me to consider growing up. I’m already retired. But in 35 more years I hope I’m doing as well as Pete. And kudos to Pete for living and serving the way he did. He moght have met my dad at the POW camp. Next time you see him please ask him if he was in Harrisburg, PA. I’ll mail you a cookie if you do. :D

  31. Just a couple little things:
    “Unless the ballon (BALLOON) fell in your yard.” and “…Walter Reed in D.C. to help with all the causalities (CASUALTIES).”

    Thanks for another great post, Steve!

  32. My grandfather was in WWII, he landed on Normandy Beach on D-day and was in darn near every major battle in that theater. He then went back as part of the peacekeeping force in Japan after the bombs were dropped. I loved hearing about the life he lived, what he did, how he met my grandmother after the war. Great STORY!!

  33. :D you should totally come to Portlaaaaaaand! Holy moley, we have some of the craziest coffee snobs up here, I’m sure barista work would provide loads of new-book fodder for you :D

    I’d totally go visit . . . Unless you were incognito and stuff lol

  34. Great story… cold weather and walking the dog pays off as long as you take interest in another human being. I want to be like Peter as well, able to travel and live long.

  35. Seems like there’s something there. It would be so cool if you could look into writing more stories if you get to know Peter better.

  36. I love old people, some of them. My mother-in-law is a true jewel. I read her old letters from the 40′s to get to know her. She had a stroke and can’t speak vocally but her eyes surely can! I read her the letters and she adds to them with her eye rolling and laughing and we “talk” about what was going on in her life back then. The letters are from her to her sister that was living in Georgia with her army husband for a few years. The sister saved them and gave them back to Mom so I go and read them to her. They are full of who is sick, who is pregnant, who died, what color dress Emma was wearing at church…. good stuff. We have the best time.

    For a few years I delivered food from the food bank once a month to shut ins that couldn’t go to the food bank themselves. Most of them were older. I used to sit and talk with a lot of them. One lady was the sweetest thing. She used to tell me stories about her marriage and how what she missed the most was “spooning” with her husband at night when it was cold. She was such a joy! I seriously enjoyed every second with her and would sometimes run by there to drop off something I thought she might like just to see her. The lady next to her was also on my route and wasn’t so pleasant. Her “rheumatiz” was always acting up and I don’t think she had a good day even one time in all the years I delivered packages to her.

    Old Geezer, I can guess which of these ladies you most resemble yourself. I feel badly for you.

  37. THIS is the kind of writing that keeps me coming back. I teared up when you talked about his full life. We should all be so lucky.
    Now I’m going to google Liz Taylor’s eyes.

  38. Fantastic story – I didn’t want it to end! I think you should seriously consider writing Peter’s story as a book, part of a book or something! I especially like the uplifting idea that we can hope and strive to be vibrant people when we are old.

  39. What an upliftting entry!. I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now. You sure have the gift of writing. We all know a Peter in our lives. Like you, that’s who I want to be when I grow up!

  40. Fantastic story, entries like these are why I enjoy reading your blog more than most others. Just had to mention this: I worked as a barista for a while in the Toronto beaches (a neighbourhood full of yuppies if there ever was one), and one thing my coworkers and I did was take all the pennies out of the bowl we left for tips on the counter. We found that if customers didn’t see any pennies in there then they were less likely to put them in and therefore tip us more, even if it was a subconscious thing. Of course there were exceptions, but it did help. Also, having a big bowl full of change helped to get more tips in general than a cup did, which I had when I worked at a Ben & Jerry’s store. It’d be interesting to see if anybody else has the same or similar tricks like that to get more money.

  41. I can’t think of another place on the planet with a higher concentration of tip earners than Las Vegas.
    Have you considered reconnoitering in our fair city?

  42. О, это что-то, недавно где-то уже о таком слышала. Ваше мнение имеет основание быть. Вы понимаете то, о чем пишите. Немного почитав, хотелось бы узнать больше.

  43. Dear Waiter,
    Enjoyed this story. As though you give Peter to all of us. Thank you.

    Apostrophe check: You’re getting better!
    Just a couple of teeny apostrophe corrections. (Is there any other size besides a teeny apostrophe?) You do need to proofread for typos, and use your spellcheck (costal for coastal) but spellcheck does not always catch the homonym or wrong word so long as it is spelled correctly. Does this do any good to send you apostrophe corrections? Are you even able to correct blog posts after it is already posted? Is it helpful or could you care less?

    Snip:
    “So what you do after the war?” I ask, changing the subject.
    “Oh, lot’s of things,” Peter says, his face brightening. “I got married, had kids, that sort of thing.”
    Apostrophe Correction:
    “lots” is already a plural. Therefore no apostrophe.
    Snip:
    “I was staying at a hotel in Leningrad,” Peter says. “It’s was for Westerners only. I got on the elevator to go the lobby and you know what I saw?’
    Apostrophe Correction:
    “It was for Westerners only.” (this is just a little typo.)
    Snip:
    Peter’s eyes have seen the world in all it’s agony and ecstasy.
    Apostrophe Correction:
    in all its agony and ecstasy. No apostrophe in “its,” even though “its” is a possessive. The apostrophe is never used with “it” to show ownership. The special word “its” is a possessive pronoun in its own right. A little like “lots.” No apostrophe needed.

    A concise and humorous apostrophe-rules post came to you from Akanabar, comment #105 after the Jersey Driving story, when he wrote, and I quote:

    {The Grammar Pirate swings down on a halyard, draws his cutlass and smites the extra apostrophe from the possessive!}
    “For most of its length, it’s your average traffic laden Garden State eyesore.”
    Remember, it’s = it is, EVERY SINGLE TIME. Contractions are the first and foremost use of apostrophes. Try not to use them unless you can separate your word into two words.
    NEVER use apostrophes for ANY plural forms!

    Okay, tedious punctuation lesson over! Keep on writing, Waiter!

  44. Excellent post! One of the best ones in ages. Sounds like Peter has lived a life worth envying. Hope his golden years continue to treat him well.

  45. Come to Seattle! Please please please!
    There are lots of hole in the wall type coffeeshops to go along with the many Starbucks and Tully’s. I’d recommend working up on Phinney Ridge at Fresh Flours. It’s right by the Woodland Park Zoo and a great place for coffee and pastries.

  46. Waiter,

    Where did you read the story about war? The reason I ask is in an episode of M*A*S*H, Hawkeye states that “War isn’t hell. War is war and hell is hell. And of the two war is alot worse.”

    When asked by Father Mulcahy why, Hawkeye responds, “Who goes to hell?”

    “Sinners, I believe.”

    “Exactly. There are no innocent bystanders in hell. But war is chock full of them…little kids, cripples, old ladies.”

    I agree. Love your blog and the book was fantastic (anxiously awaiting the next!).

  47. Now, waiter dude, I’ve been an avid reader for years and think you’re great. But please, please, PLEASE do not try and become a barista right now. I’m a barista for starbucks in boston, and our hours have been cut so severly partners are having breakdowns right and left over how to pay for rent — let alone heat, and it’s much colder here. You have money from your book, do research without taking someone else’s job or hours. They need it more than you.

  48. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t come to Portland to get a barista job for your research. We’re already having a huge problem with our residents finding jobs and more people are moving here every day.

    Go to Seattle. As much as I’d love to have you make my coffee it’s not worth taking a job away from some poor soul who’s trying to make the rent.

  49. Seattle? Look me up when you get here and I’ll take you for coffee! I saw my first author headshot in print today! Yeah, yeah. Total footnote in the realm of all the writing you authors do, but it makes me smile! :D Martha Brokenbrough’s “Things That Make Us [SIC]. I’d love to take a decent one for you too. My new hobby, I guess. In any case, best of luck on your new book!

  50. I really like your blog! This particular post interested me because of how in-depth you got into this conversation and how much you got from it. As an aspiring writer/journalist I’m curious as to how you recorded the conversation. Did you have a tape recorder handy or did you write the whole thing down?
    Good luck on your book! I’m looking forward to reading it as I am a tip-loving waitress!

  51. Like a photographer of the mind, your snapshot of a chance encounter with Peter truly captures a ‘freeze your balls off’ moment. A moment that perhaps approached differently would have been lost completely, may not have occurred at all, or simply blurred in the collective of the tasks that are considered the daily mundane.

    As a fellow dog caregiver I understand that it can be on those rather duty driven walks that I can take moment and pause to observe the surroundings.

    It is indeed wonderful to simply stop and listen to others, to interact, and sometimes to simply observe.

    A newcomer to ‘Waiter Rant,’ all I can say is that I shall return to see what other moments of Zen may occur.

  52. Pingback: Who I Read (My Top Bloggers) « FeelingElephants’s Weblog

  53. Your blog Waiter Rant » Blog Archive » The Eyes Have It was interesting when I found it on Friday by accident while searching for australian cattle dog blue heeler rescue online. It’s funny what you could find on the internet sometimes. I’d have to agree on what you have to say, although it may seem like a wrong choice, but nontheless an interesting subject. Enough said, keep up the good work my friend!

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