Dear Clifford

ATT00001

Dear Clifford,

I am confused, lonely and slowly going out of my mind. Perhaps you can allay my fears and provide me some relief from my anxiety?

Today I actually got access to THE BUS CLUB and noticed someone in the chat room so I sent a message …. “What’s up?” And he came right back to me, and we started to chat.

After a few moments he said to me. “Can I just say what a relief to find somebody that genuinely understands what they are talking about on the web. You certainly realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people have to look at this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you’re not more popular given that you surely possess the gift.”

Pleasantly surprised I said to him, “Really? Those in charge threw me off this board months ago.”

And then he said, “This isn’t Clifford?” and I said, “Oh hell no, this is BoxcarOkie.”

At that point my computer coughed, growled somewhat, hissed and acted like it was trying to cough up this huge hairball from Denny’s or something and my screen went dead.  Shot me down faster than a Mau-Mau Fighter Pilot.

What do you think all that was about?

Jus Sayin

What is the big deal?

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 As I don’t believe in self imposed exile for asserting my opinion and the shop is too cold to work on the bus, I thought I might share a thought or two with you.  I will try as usual to be as diplomatic as I can.  You know what diplomacy is right?   That is the art of saying “nice doggie, nice doggie, until you can find a rock.”

Having tired of this computer shunt or blocker that the closed minded folks at Eagles International have placed on me, I went over today and logged off on that site.  This will of course end my visits there as I don’t have the faintest idea in the world what my super-secret password might be and could care less.  In other words, I have tired of the game and stick a fork in me, I am done.

A few will read into this thing issues that are simply not there, I suppose others will see this as just more “sour grapes.”  Which is fine.  To be candid about it all, “I often do the very same thing, read something that is really not there.”  This I do know.  I am of the school of thought that criticism is a good healthy thing, and if it adds to the mix, then it is a bonus.  As long as name calling and flaming is held to a min. it should be at least tolerated.

 In other words … If you have something to say … then by all means … say it.

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I saw a church disband a long time ago, simply because two old ladies did not like the color of the carpet.  The membership argued and fought, eventually the congregation became unruly and it all shut down.  Canton, Oklahoma, population 600, has “13” churches, what does that tell you?

Internet boards are no different, people are people, and no two people are going to see it exactly the same.  So what is the big deal?

Why do we often find folks majoring in minor things on Internet boards or in clubs?  Here is some more food for thought.  Why did YOU sign on for all of this?  What brought you here?  Did you get a letter or a come-on inviting you to seek out this place?  I did, mine was from a member of this particular tribe of man.  I was invited, I did not just show up on my own accord.

What I was told or sold, wasn’t what I found.  Butchering this hog has not been easy.  (It is a tough job, but someone has to do it.) Here lately I have been mulling it over in my quiet moments of the day.  I ask myself “Why do we join clubs, when we are basically not joiners.  Why do we reply or comment on threads, only to have them ignored.  Why do you bother to send emails or PM’s to people, who never return the courtesy.  Why is that I do not have a T-Shirt lettered Does Not Play Well With Others?”

 And as with most mysteries in life … I have found … There are no easy answers.

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Here is where I found reality (or my version of it) often sucked.  Eventually you will reach a point when you notice that people are not answering your comments (on your string or on their string for that matter) and you realize it is time to pull down your shingle and close up shop.  If you make the occasional telephone call and that call is not returned, then it is time to move on.  Sooner or later, (if you are smarter than say “the average monkey”) you get the message.  

 Then there are people like me of course.  We are hopeless, we never seem to get it.

Unfortunately, I have at times given a few people way too much space in my head, and that was my fault.  But in all things, there is always clearly a choice, I should have used better judgement in my dealings with these people.  These folks who put the “fun” in dysfunctional.

Some people seek out adventure in their lives, to explore new places, to find fun, only to discover they have arrived at a place where fun comes to die.  It doesn’t always even out on the Internet … Some items naturally will fall on the negative side of the scale.   It would be best if I remembered that from time to time.

Most guys would be hard pressed to admit it, but a lot of our wives are smarter than we are.  Mine asks me about this bus board turmoil all of the time.  “How is it you can justify the time, putting up all this stuff, with negative results?   To me, there has to be a plus, something to justify the means to the end, and it simply isn’t there.”  

Sadly I find that she is right, often it just isn’t worth the time or the effort expended.  I cannot on most days, justify the time and the effort put forth 99% of the time.  She suggested that I just throw in the towel and be done with it, she suggested that I do that a long, long time ago.  But of course, I could not see it her way, that is why they call it “marriage.”

So, perhaps some day in the future, when people come up to me and inquire, “Are you the guy that was on the bus boards that used to write all that stuff under the name of Boxcarokie?  Are you as witty, insightful, articulate, and as handsome as your writing suggests?”

I will just reply “Uh, not really.  I am only five eight.”

See y’all out on the boulevard … I will toss you a wave when the wife and I roll by.  We will be in the Gun Metal Gray Outfit that is styling in the Smart Aleck Lane …  Flyin High In Our Eagle … The Star Of The American Highway.

Watch those right-handers.

OOO

Room To Breathe

Last summer, just outside the Grand Canyon, at a campground replete with swimming pool and swing sets I came across a non-bus person.  I was cleaning the windshield of my coach and this guy walks up, number three washtub cup of coffee in hand, and states matter of factually, “Old Trailways huh?” and I reply, “No sir.  This not an old Trailways.”

He then says, “Well sonny, you are wrong and I will tell you why.”  I think to myself I can never line up three numbers on the lottery, but I am lucky enough to run into guys like this?  So I once again reply, “Sure, why don’t you amuse me a little this morning.”

He then points at the Gold Eagle on the front of the coach and says, “It’s a Trailways, all them Trailways had an Eagle on the front of ‘em.”  So as politely as I could, knowing full well, that good public relations in the bus community is one of our primary goals.  Slowly and methodically, taking my time, I explained to this brown loafer with black socks tourist the entire history of my coach.  Which of course, did not amount to a hill of beans, because “it has an Eagle on the front of it.”

Patiently I tried to explain to him how it was manufactured in 1983, in Brownsville, Texas and I found myself speaking “slower and slower” so he would be able to take it in.  But it was to no avail, this guy, the kind of guy who never had his science project in school turned in on time, was not buying into any of it.

“Nah, you got it wrong,” you see, “it has an Eagle on the front of it, all them there Trailways, had an Eagle on ‘em.”  I tried to tell him it came out of California, that at one time it lived in Arizona and I bought it off a guy outside of Orlando, Florida.  But it simply did not soak in.  I am thinking to myself … “If you had bought an old Buffalo this conversation would NOT be happening.”

After what I consider a reasonable amount of logical and concise explanation, not to mention time, I just hung it up.  Looking him straight in the eye, I said, “Excuse me partner, I have to finish what I started here.” and went back to cleaning my windshields.  Which in all honesty is about the only thing I had planned for that morning anyway.

It might be noted here that I found myself holding no malice for this guy, non-bus people are supposed to NOT know about buses, I just let it go.

It would be nice to have a warning from time to time when non-bus people are in the area.  At the turn of the century, miner’s in the coal mines of Appalachia, Virginia-West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, would carry into the mine a canary in a cage.  The purpose or reason for this was the canary was their “air quality” control for the miners.  If the air were to suddenly turn bad, the canary would die, and the miners were made aware of the danger.  Today of course, electronic metering devices (air sniffers) have replaced the canary.

The first time I came in contact with bus people, incidentally who are supposed to know about buses, I had no canary.

Being new to this lifestyle and a novice, I just blindly followed along, picking up a nugget of truth here and there, and more or less, weeding my way thru the bus community.  A true beginner.  My first precursor to something being amiss was when someone on a bus site (to be un-named at this time), inquired as to what the history of my bus might be?  I of course, did not know, so it was suggested that I provide a serial number and the data would be provided to me.

Grabbing a flashlight I went out into the shop, located the serial number, noted the information and then posted it on the net.  This serial number or VIN, isn’t as easily found as suggested by the bus nut who needed it, but after a short period of time, I found it.  Hastily welded to the frame in the engine compartment, really unprofessional looking, and somewhat tacky.  There in all its splendid glory was the Vin Number of my coach, splotched welds and all.  Hastily welded to my frame by some hung-over I will do it on Monday type in Brownsville, Texas many years ago.

Somewhat smug and feeling circumspect for even locating the plate, I headed into the house to post it.  Not long after that, I got a reply from the bus nut historian, the “entire history” of my bus, where it was born, where it worked, where it served the public, when it left service, the entire nine yards.  I found out that my particular people carrier ran up and down the San Joaquin Valley out of Sacramento, California.  The majority of its working life was in The Golden State.  It ran for an outfit named the Amador Coach Lines, from the valley to San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area, with an occasional side trip over Donner Pass to Reno, Nevada, with a load of fun seekers I suppose.

Also there was this …. “By the way, it is not a 8V92T it is a 6V92 or something to that effect.”This was my first chirp out of the canary.

So I said, “No, it is an 8V92T Detroit.”  Again, “No you are wrong, the serial number indicates …. blah, blah, yadda-yadda.”  Suddenly I find myself, sitting alone in my spacious media room, in my comfortable Easy Boy recliner, sipping on a bottle of Snapple and wondering “if this guy, this internet bus historian, is he wearing brown loafers and black socks?” Reading on, I note there is even more.  It seems that in the bus community, “there is always more” no shortage of that.

At this juncture in time, on my bus related journey of awareness, I was clued in again.  I was at that time, even given specific instructions on how to look at an exhaust manifold, and ascertain the number of cylinders on my engine (you need to count the exhaust ports on the headers).

Which I thought was at best … Kinda strange.

It never occurred to this person that bus engines, transmissions, and other bus nomenclature are routinely removed and swapped out in this day and age all over America?  A request is made for me to photo document and authenticate the number of cylinders on my Detroit prime mover.  This somewhat unorthodox request was promptly filed in the circular retainer next to my chair for further use (trashed).  By the way … just for the record … It is a 8V92T.  I have the shop receipts and canceled checks to prove it.  If need be, I can also provide the telephone number of “the old two-stroke dude” in Joplin, Missouri that removed the previous engine and installed the new rebuilt one.

Bus clubs and the internet are supposed to be a variable storehouse of information.  But sadly, it is often not true.  It has also been suggested to me by someone who hangs in the bus community (who I understand doesn’t even own a bus) that I do not know the difference between a hub cap and a wheel.  Which is ridiculous, a hubcap is lighter than a wheel, we all know that.  And a wheel, as I understand it, is much, much bigger.

Our second encounter comes in the form of bus club membership.  We are told of this wonderful bunch of people, who share a common interest (Eagle Buses) and that we should join up.  This is usually in the form of an invite or as a used car salesman would put it … The Come On.

Usually it is something much like:  “First things first, you now need to join our group at: (location of group here) and hopefully consider joining the chapter.  There is a ton of Eagle specific information on the site and some pretty knowledgeable folks that have a lot of expertise and experience that are always willing to help.  Next, would you mind telling us who you bought the bus from?   Also, if we know the bus, we might be able to help you with background information.  BTW, for the rest of you that own SOBs, you are welcome to drop into the goings on over there” and then goes on to invite and greet.

At this point, I had to email someone and get a definition of SOB, turns out it meant Some Other Brand … Who would’ve ever thunk thet?

Not much on social networking and knowing full well from past experiences that these things never seem to pan out, we joined.  At this point, I note that our canary is no longer singing, and it is not as active in the cage as before.

We press on, deep into the bus community.

Soon I discover, that opinionated people are not always welcomed with open arms in the bus community, it is best to keep your mouth shut.  We attend our very first bus rally, which in itself is a real eye opener.  20 plus coaches of different make and color adorn the shores of a small lake in Kansas.

There I discover that I have the wrong transmission, and of course, “it is NOT the transmission that I say it is.”  We also discover much to our disappointment we are running the wrong kind of oil and that our motive power, our fuel gulping two-lane pusher, the 8V92T, is surely without a doubt, the worst oil leaking, underpowered engine on the American market today.  It is also reputed to smoke worse than the Marlboro cowboy and is currently illegal in the entire State of “Kalifornia and three counties outside of Ypsilanti, Michigan.”

Our marker lights are installed backwards, our caps are wrong and tires clearly not of the prescribed norm for highway travel in this land stretching from sea to shining sea.  I am thankful for my prescription of Halcyon and the understanding of my bride, who often see’s me through trying times in life.

Against my better judgment I buy two commemorative two T-shirts knowing full well that I will most likely never will wear them in public.  A medium size for the little lady, and an XLFB (Extra Large with a Full Belly) for me.

Been there … Done that … Got the T-Shirts! As George Dubya would say … Mission Accomplished!

Firing up the old hoopie, she smokes a little and I wait on the air buzzer to quit.  Time to head south, another bus rally is on our horizon, and of course, we are going to try to find a little clean air.  The canary coughs a couple of coughs, then heads over on the perch to lean up against the bars of the cage.

See you in the fast lane … Watch those right-handers.

Have a great weekend.

BCO

Pink Hat Ladies

smiling ladies

smiling ladies

Well, I am back, didya miss me.  Didya is a Southern Word Y’all … For instance, “Didya bring the fishing poles withya?” That would be a good example there.

There is a group of ladies here in town, I believe they are a church group, but I am not sure.  They call themselves the Pink Hat Ladies.  They meet from time to time and often go to a restaurant for lunch; they seem like a congenial bunch of girls.  I had lunch with them yesterday.

Easy going, amusing, in tune with one and another.  One of the conditions of the group is you have to wear a Pink Hat when you get out with the rest of the girls, thus, the name Pink Hat Ladies.

Tuesday, having unsuccessfully negotiated a mutually agreeable price with the Pawnshop Dealer on my Patron Saint of the Economy Medal, I retired to the local steakhouse for a little lunch.  If you get there a little after two P.M. the drink is free (on a senior citizen discount), and the salad bar isn’t too picked over, so it kind of turns out to be a good deal.

I try to put on the feed-bag there at least once per week.

So that was my St. Patrick’s Day for this year, a dose of “Rudy” on the Turner Classic Movie Channel and a quick trip to belly up to the salad bar like the rest of the big boys.  It is quiet and serene, most of the lunch crowd has departed and then I find myself suddenly surrounded by Pink Hat Ladies, they are everywhere.

All of them in uniform and one or two replete with the purple hair (I believe they were shooting for that silver look, but something went awry).  I watched them attack the salad bar with a vengeance and they were not taking any prisoners, this was their day and they were clearly on a mission.

One in particular sits down at the booth across from me and immediately launches into a tirade that you would not believe.  She bellows out for a waitress, and soon one shows up.  She then looks at the girl and she says, “Where is my silverware and where is my glass of tea!” she is definitely not happy.

The waitress assures her that she doesn’t know what happened to her eating utensils, but tells her that she will replace them immediately along with the errant glass of sweet tea.

This seems to soothe pink hat lady somewhat, but she looks at me and mutters, “What kind of people take your silverware and your glass of tea, can you tell me who that might be?” and I just shrug my shoulders and take the dumb Okie approach.

A smart man never wakes his second sleeping baby just to see it smile.

A few moments later another pink hat lady shows up and she says, “Marge, what are you doing way down here, we are all sitting over there,” and she points to all the other pink hat ladies at the front of the restaurant.  It appears that Marge, has mistakenly sat down at the wrong booth, which seems to cause her considerable embarrassment and consternation.

Marge is clearly not having a wonderful pink hat lady day.  Life sometimes is just not fair … It is often hard on you when you get separated from the rest of the herd.

And I suppose in life, there are times when it is easier to blame someone else rather than look in the mirror and face the fact that it is you that are to blame.  Marge was clearly out of her element and separated from the herd.  She quickly scooped up her salad plate and whatever and deftly slinked out of my area and back to the rest of the girls up front.

My daddy had an old heifer like that, no matter where we put her, no matter which group she grazed with, she never did like being confined to a pasture or that bunch of cows.  She would almost regularly escape and mosey off by herself.

She got so bad that we eventually had to tie a cow bell around her neck so that we might locate her by sound, as we almost invariably could not find her within the line of sight.  We would just stand there for a moment and intently listen for that “ka-clang, Ka-clang” and then we look off down the road a ways to the gully or creek bed, where she would be, grazing on the thick green grass along the sides of that muddy creek.

And almost every time, when we would walk up to her, she would swing that massive head around, stare at us with this blank angelic look almost to imply ……. What the hell are YOU doing here?

You cannot be peaceful and at the same time blame others … It just doesn’t work that way.

Hope you had a great St. Patty’s Day … Mine was interesting to say the least.

Here is a little Eye Candy for the soul.  Have a great day!

OOO