Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Last Call for Last Supper

Recently, a Texas death row inmate put in this request for his last meal: a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, a meat-lover's pizza, a big bowl of okra with ketchup, a pound of barbecue, a half a loaf of bread, peanut butter fudge, a pint of ice cream and two chicken-fried steaks. Instead of responding with a laugh, prison officials/chefs responded with: “Would you like some fries or a hot apple pie or delicious sundae to go with that?”

The death row inmate got his meal, but of course he didn’t eat it all, and this so infuriated a state senator that “last meals” were immediately banned. Apparently, killing the inmate wasn’t enough; everyone else on death row had to be punished for his gluttony. So, one greedy or possibly vengeful inmate ruined it for everyone else in the cell block, and they can’t even beat him up or shank him because he’s already dead.

Now for their last meal, death row inmates must eat whatever happens to be coming out of the prison kitchen that day. I imagine it’s hard enough knowing it’s your last day on earth, but now to endure the added cruelty of being killed on meatloaf night?

Would it really be too difficult to implement some sort of menu system for last meals? Simply let the inmate choose an appetizer, entrĂ©e and dessert or something from the Chili’s “2 for $20” menu. The state can’t grant one decent request and try to be the bigger person? I mean, the state gets the last laugh anyway.

But this being Texas, there is another solution inspired by moms everywhere: an inmate gets to order anything he wants for his last meal. If he cleans his plate, he gets lethal injection. If not, it’s off to the electric chair!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Quart Low

I don’t know anything about cars. I once spent hours replacing the windshield wiper blades only to end up using duct tape. That worked great until the day it started raining and I realized I had taped the wipers to the windshield.

I can’t even have an intelligent conversation with a teenager about cars:

Teenager: Wow! Did you see that X80-R2D2-Hyena-Hemi?

Me: Nice. It’s got, what, four wheels?

I finally resorted to quoting Springsteen lyrics whenever anyone asked me about cars.

Teenager: What kind of engine does your Saturn have?

Me: Um, a 396 with fuelie heads and a Hurst on the floor.

Teenager: I didn’t think that big an engine would fit in a car that small.

Me: I’m driving a stolen car.

But when I get an oil change, I am treated like royalty. They roll out the red carpet, call me “sir,” and escort me to the special VIP waiting room which is filled with little old ladies. While other drivers are offered soda which gets tacked onto their bill, I receive complimentary champagne.

Last week, I took the car in for an oil change and its annual inspection. After 10 minutes, the mechanic came in with a dipstick in hand.

“Sir, the good news is you passed the inspection,” he said. “But when’s the last time you had your oil changed?”

“Hmm, about 5 months ago.” I knew the correct answer was supposed to be 3 months but he was obviously onto me so I wanted to make it seem better than the real answer which was: I have no idea.

“Take a look at this dipstick. You’re a quart low and look how dark that oil is. I got an engine treatment that’ll fix that right up for nine-ninety-five.”

“That’s 9 dollars and 95 cents, right? Sure go ahead.” Ha! Outsmarted him on the ol’ $9.95 versus $995.00 trick.

A few minutes later he came back with the air filter.

“Looks pretty ragged,” he said.

I actually knew the car was due for a new filter, so I agreed. So far, the oil change was going well, but I needed to stay focused.

After a few more minutes, he came back.

“Well, we checked your battery. It’s rated at 517 but it’s only cranking to 410.”

I put my finger over my lips and sighed. I did not verbalize what I was thinking, which was, “410 milliliters? 410 megawatts? 410 rpms, calories, RBIs? What does that mean?”

“Summer heat is just killing these batteries. Don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road. I’ll get you fixed up with a new one, five-year warranty.”

I decided to wait him out. I sat still, finger over my lips, hemming and hawing. But he was a pro at the waiting game, didn’t say a word and didn’t move. I finally realized I would have to say something.

“How about just soldering a pack of D batteries on top of the old one?”

Relief flooded his face. “Ha, you’re funny! Alrighty then, I’ll get you fixed up.”

I watched him walk back into the garage and high-five another mechanic. Soon another younger mechanic came up to me.

“Sir, your Klondike manifold has slipped out of joint. But we’ve got a special Klondike bar we can use to jimmy it back into place. Only $80, no wait, $180.”

“No, I need to get back to work. This was supposed to be a thirty-minute oil change.”

“You can never be too careful. So you don’t want the $180 Klondike bar?”

“No.” But for some reason my mouth started watering.

They eventually finished and gave me a 10% preferred customer discount which I paid for with my Platinum Oil Shop Visa Card. After I came home, St. Pauli Girl saw the invoice on my desk.

“I thought an oil change was $30,” she said suspiciously.

“Yeah, something like that,” I shrugged.

“So you got fifteen oil changes?”

I sang back in my best Springsteen, “’Open up them engines, let ‘em roar, tearin’ up the highway, just a big old dinosaur.’”