The “Average” Collector

My godson who lives in the Capital Region of New York State just published his very first blog post! I was honored that he asked me to look it over for him. It hardly needed any edits. I’m very excited for him (and a little proud too)!

For context he’s a numismatist and wrote this piece for the website of American Numismatic Association. I hope you enjoy and share.

The Myth of the “Average” Collector

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Catching Up

The astute reader (and the other one too) will note that I have not posted in a long while.  So here’s an update.

When last we spoke I had taken a job through a friend of my wife delivering lab mice safely from the airport.  The job ramped up in the past week in terms of busyness despite the fact that the largest air carrier of animals (including lab mice) suspended all animal deliveries.  It seems they not only killed a few dogs but also sent one or two to the wrong locations.  When Fido lands in Tokyo instead of with his family in Rochester people tend to get upset.  In any event, I have been working from about noon until midnight and beyond the past week.

I started teaching again.  The small Montesorri school my children attend found themselves in need of a teacher.  For some reason they thought of me.  Desperation makes people do desperate things.  Every morning from 7:45-11:45 I drive my kids to school, enter the building, and then proceed to teach.  My daughter is now my student.  She rather enjoys this.  I get a kick out of it too.

I haven’t worked on my book in a while.  For some reason writing is hard for me these days.

I am four weeks from completing the Body for Life challenge.  I’ve seen some slight changes which is a good thing.  The jury is still out on whether I will achieve the chiseled look the program promises.  All in all, though, I have been fairly healthy and I can’t complain about that.

My former trainer ran into me and gave me a book.  “It reminds me of you,” he said.  The book is called Living with a Seal.  It’s about a multi-gazillionaire who wanted to get shredded as an answer to a mid-life crisis.  So far, it sounds like me except without the money.  My acquaintance assures me that the humorous way in which the author presents his training sessions reminds him of the stories I used to write about him and me.  Again, the difference is the money.  I was always positive that if I had the means to pay someone what it would take then I could reach my goals.  But cash does not replace motivation.  The funny thing is I’ve always been motivated.  I’ve just always lacked the means to figure out what needs to be done.  There’s a lot of “micro” stuff that someone in training has to pay attention to.  Eat this specific amount of this type of protein down to the gram.  Work out in this particular way (don’t deviate at all) at precisely 5AM after one cup of black coffee.  You get the picture.  The former trainer still looks great.  It was nice to see him again.

Amazon Prime has been offering some real doozies under their “classic TV” section.  On Saturday morning I watched three episodes of the 1988 incarnation of Family Feud with my kids.  I figured it was safe.  And who doesn’t like Ray Combs?  The first question he asked the contestants was “Name something people think they’re better at than they actually are.”  Like lightning one contestant hit the buzzer and yelled “sex!”  I’ve always tried to be honest with my kids.  My 8 year-old daughter turned to me and said “What’s sex?”  “I have an idea, kids…  Who wants to watch Mr. Ed!?”  “But what’s sex,” she said again?  “Sweetheart,” I replied, “Let’s watch a little more and see the other answers first.  And she never brought it up again.

So tomorrow morning, at the start of week 9 (out of 12), I will get up at 6, get my black coffee, not workout since I’ll have the best of intentions to do that in the afternoon, get back into bed, check the news, look over my checkbook, pet my sleeping Russell Terrier, get up, get dressed, get the kids to school, teach for four hours, drive medical deliveries around the metropolitan area, chat with my new friends at the airport, not pick up mice, squeeze in that workout between jobs, and get home far too late to eat dinner or kiss my wife and kids goodnight.  I didn’t want to be out of work but I wasn’t hoping to be chest-deep in it either.  It’s all good, though.  Easter is coming.

What Dad Taught Me

My father taught me many things in the almost 40 years we were simultaneously on this earth.

By far the most significant lesson was this. To come to daily mass is the greatest gift God has given and the greatest gift we can return to Him.

Thanks, Dad. It sometimes takes me a while to get it but I think I’ve got it.

I Thought That Was Already Plural

A good friend is one who will help you hide a body.

A better friend asks no questions about said body.

The best friend forgets that you haven’t posted in a while and picks up just as if no time had passed between you.

Did you think I was going somewhere else with that?  Anyway, where was I?  Yes…

Having quit my job as a school administrator I needed something else to do.  Truth be told, I hadn’t thought that part through too well.  On the other hand, it’s an indication of how strongly I felt about my decision to quit.  Not long after I announced that I was leaving that job a friend called me and told me that he had all but arranged for me to go to work for his next door neighbor.  I wondered almost aloud if she was running a meth lab from her home.  Turns out she owns a medical courier service.

Two thoughts went through my mind the next day as I called the woman for our initial chat.  1) Is this all he thinks I can do?  Does he think that driving a car is my most marketable skill?  I mean, if I knew someone was going to be potentially out of work and the person was, say, a mortgage litigator; I don’t think my first thought would be to hook him up with my friend who manages the produce section of the local Kroger.  But, a job’s a job and I’m not proud.  2) Did I give off a vibe that I was desperate?

No worries, though.  He was on to something.  Money is money.  I didn’t want to have to go searching for work and I didn’t.  This fell into my lap.  I also didn’t want there to be a gap in my employment history and there hasn’t been.  I do enjoy driving, the medical profession, airports, and mining for comic gold.  And on that last front I struck paydirt.  First though, I have to say that when I spoke with his neighbor my fears were allayed.  She is the absolute kindest woman and she was eager to have “someone like me” work for her.  It seems having a modicum of a work ethic counts for a whole lot these days.  Also, being able to string together a cogent sentence helps.

So what does a medical courier do?

Well, I work an afternoon/evening shift.  It just keeps getting better, I know.  Those who really know me know that I am a night person.  During my working hours I take calls from my boss who directs me to head to certain locations around town, pick up packages (typically containing blood samples), and deliver them to the airport where I “tender” the package for shipping (usually to LAX, ORD, or EWR).  It’s time sensitive as many of these samples need to be seen quickly by the consignee (that’s the person receiving the package).  For my trouble I received a TSA number and learned how to do all kinds of fun paperwork.  But that’s not nearly all.  Sometimes I will be asked to drive hundreds of miles to pick up a small box.  Yesterday, for example, I went to Tulsa and recovered a parcel weighing 6 lbs.  That was a fun 9 hours in the car.

But by far the most absurd and interesting pickups I make involve rodents.  Yes, my friends, a few times a week I am tasked with driving out to the airport and picking up a shipment or two of… lab mice.

The first time I did it the kind lady at the cargo terminal handed me a box that was rather opaque.  I thanked her.  She said “Aren’t you going to check to see if they’re alive?”  As a courier I am not typically allowed to open a package.  In this case I didn’t want to.  I thought about it.  Then I shook the box.  I heard a few scratchy noises.  “Lady, they’re mice.  That’s going to have to be good enough for me,” I said before driving off.

There are all kinds of rules governing the mice.  The interior of the vehicle must be kept between 68 and 75 degrees, for example.  That’s cool.  I like that.  Also, the radio cannot be on.  Apparently a driver once tuned in NPR and the mice got violently ill.

I’m not sure what the big deal is.  They’re destined to be killed anyway.  But they tell me the mice are expensive and the client, a large teaching hospital in town, likes them to be alive when they come in.

The other night I went out to get some mice.  How I came to this point in my life is still a mystery.  I’m 40 years-old and a has-been school administrator driving mice around Texas.  Think positive.  Dream big.  I looked at my manifest.  “Ah!” I thought.  “These mice are coming from Newark, my hometown.”  Then I realized that these would be some real hood rats coming my way.  In fact the manifest said under the “description” label: “30 LIVE MICE!!!!”  Thirty?  Wow.  I knew by the presence of four exclamation points that this would be exciting.

And still, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to see.

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Yes, my friends, it says “mices”.

As for the job, I enjoy doing this though it’s certainly not my calling.  I hope to find something I’m good at in the next few months.  But as long as I can continue to sleep in AND I get to see mices every day…  What’s the rush?

Gone Home

My brother would have turned 54 today. Here is what I posted two years ago on the day he died.

Rest in peace, Richard.

Harvey Millican: Raising Your Kids Without Lowering Your IQ

This morning my brother went home to God. He died peacefully, at home as he had wished. My sister was with him. She had cared so well for him these past few months and he was so grateful. But he was grateful, truly grateful for everyone who came to see him, to visit, to care for him.

I saw him last night via FaceTime. He didn’t look good. That’s an understatement. I could barely understand him. But before we said… Come to think of it, we didn’t say goodbye. As we ended our conversation I said simply “I love you.” And clear as a bell, through the pain and morphine he replied “Love you too, man.”

A priest came to see him. Many priests had been to see him. He gave him last rites, Viaticum, and an apostolic pardon.

When my mom called to tell me this morning she said…

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A Prayer for Writers

Today is the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers/authors.  My prayer today is that every word I commit to print may glorify God.  Since I know that many of you, my readers, are also writers I pray the same for you.  And when we encounter others who weaponize their words, may God give us the grace to forgive.

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Amazing head of hair, too.

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Freedom from the Bar

 

Scene from the bar at the airport.  It’s the Freedom Tower.