Thursday, January 31, 2013

Granddad’s Last Car

-
I don’t know what automobile my paternal grandfather first owned. Since he still traveled to some pretty remote places, as he built rigs in the oilfield, he rented horses and buggies well into the automobile era. At home, he had a buggy and a horse named Cody, but I don’t know whatever became of the horse, or when. The earliest car I ever heard of Granddad owning was an eight passenger Buick. I believe it was of the late 20’s or early 30’s time period. With him and Grandma, five kids and Grandma’s sister who lived with them, they needed every seat. I believe it was what could have been properly called a “touring car.”

Being a rig-building contractor, I know that Granddad had a few trucks along the way, but the vehicle that I remember him driving was a 1949 or so 88 Oldsmobile with a “rocket” back end. That was in the very late 50’s and very early 60’s. It was medium blue and had been purchased to replace a green one like it that was totaled by a drunk one evening as my folks drove it to a Grange meeting. That was ’55 or ’56 and I was home in diapers, with my aunt as baby-sitter, or Mom said I would have been thrown into the dash and killed. As it was, she hit the dash hard enough to break her dentures.

By the time I was old enough to notice anything, Granddad was no longer the physical power-house he had once been and had settled into a very unwelcome retirement. In fair weather, he often sat in the front yard in an Adirondack lawn chair, waved at the neighbors as they drove by and swatted flies with the swatter that accompanied him nearly everywhere he went by that time. When the boredom got too much for him, he climbed into the Buick and went to town.

Most folks driver slower and slower the older they get. Others can’t judge their speed and fly along like bats out of Ohio. Granddad did both. I suppose it depended on his mood, or how he felt. Sometimes, he’d be just poking along and suddenly take off like he was going to a fire. Occasionally, it would be the other way around. He was one of those drivers with whom you felt safer looking at his rear bumper ahead of you than his front one in your rear-view mirror.

He normally went to markets, grocery stores and hardware stores that were run by older fellows whom he’d known for years. There, he’d shoot the breeze for as long as he thought he could, without wearing out his welcome, before going to the next place. After making his rounds, he headed back out into the country to once again aggravate or terrorize the neighbors with his driving. When home, he’d back the car into an open stall of the barn where it would sit until his next jaunt. That’s where it sat the last year of his life, as he lay bedfast in what had once been the parlor of his home. Dad may have taken it out a few times to keep it limbered up, but I don’t remember for sure. I suppose it was probably sold to help pay expenses after he died. It sure would be neat to have the old car today. My cousin found a picture of that model on the internet. The link is below. © 2013

http://www.conceptcarz.com/view/photo/82224,2096/1949-Oldsmobile-Rocket-88_photo.aspx
-

Saturday, January 26, 2013

“They Were The Worst Of Times…”

-
“…They were the best of times.” I hope Dickens fans don’t get offended that I reversed the order of those phrases. My soon-to-be former job is what I’m using those words to describe.

I just counted up and discovered that, not counting my own self-employment, I’ve worked eight different jobs in the last 40 years. I worked two weeks for Hickory Farms while in high school, before discovering that this farm boy wasn’t yet ready to stand by himself in a tiny windowless room all day and make cheese logs. I then worked one spring as a fire warden for the West Virginia DNR until they could get a college-educated fellow to do the same job that I was doing without a college degree. After getting married, I worked a few months for Carnation Company, primarily as a delivery driver, then at a mall store that sold wood stoves and fireplace inserts and such. Not long after getting formally divorced, I drove a mail truck for a year (met my wife of 30 years while doing that). I then worked at a muzzle-loader shop for three-and-a-half years. While there, I worked part-time one summer at a lumberyard. Eventually, I worked at a factory for 12 years, went to college for two and have been on my last job for four. That didn’t include my self-employment, either part-time or full-time during those same years, which lasted until about seven years ago.

Each of those jobs had its good points and its bad points, even my self-employment. I was very poorly paid at the gun shop, and the management/labor relations at the factory were the most adversarial I’d ever seen in this area. Still, nothing prepared me for the utter disregard and disrespect of the telemarketing industry. From what I hear, it’s pretty much the same all over. The owners get rich, and the underpaid workers who make them that way are treated like absolute pond scum. They use fear, intimidation and the abject poverty of many of their workers to get by with treating them in ways that no-one should have to tolerate. Quite simply, if slavery ever returns, they’re the kind of people who’ll have slaves. At least they wouldn’t be racists; any color would be fine with them, since they disrespect everyone equally.

On the positive side, I met some interesting folks there. Some (many in fact) were their own worst enemies. Still, once I learned their backgrounds, I understood a lot of their weaknesses. When I see people who’ve been abused, or neglected, as children be responsible enough to show up for work every day and do their best to care for their OWN children, I’m impressed. They certainly didn’t learn responsible behavior from their drunken and doped-out parents. While I’ve seen people get fired for no good reason, I’ve also seen a few times when co-workers would let them crash at their place until other arrangements could be made, when they lost their apartments. I’ve seen a pregnant, homeless teenager crash with a different friend each night so as not to wear out her welcome, leave the home of a morning when they did, and then walk around town until her shift began. All this while trying to eat right and get all the prenatal care she could for her unborn child’s sake. I’ve seen kids who didn’t have enough to eat share their meager food with a co-worker who had none. And, I’ve met some good and decent Christian people who helped what kids there that they could, and prayed for ALL of them.

Most of all, the Lord has opened my eyes to just how blessed I’ve been all these years. I never realized how much I’d taken for granted. I simply considered my life reasonably normal and the way things were supposed to be. I never realized how many others didn’t grow up with warm clothes and a warm house, food in their bellies and parents who loved them. I never realized how many people move out on their own, only to lose their apartment, get their utilities shut off, or go hungry to pay their bills. I was never thankful that I never had to live on the street until I met people who actually did it. Some of my co-workers have slept in tents or cars. Some slept at the Salvation Army. Some, I don’t know where they slept. Don’t let people tell you that telemarketers make a good living; that was in the old days. A few, like me, have been blessed and get by only because of other incomes or other situations in their lives.

God has used my work at this modern version of an American sweat-shop to teach me more in four years than I learned in the 53 previous ones. One night, I found myself saying these words, “Lord, thank you for allowing me to work in that horrible place.” And I meant it. © 2013
-

Needs Versus Wants

-
I guess I’m dealing a bit in clichés today. There’s a saying that rightly says, “Luxury, once tasted, becomes necessity.” Another is a rhetorical quote from the Bible, “Why do you spend money for that which is not bread?” Another is a quote from The Foxfire Book – Volume 11, “Providing your food is half a living.” (Close if not exact.) The final saying is the old “fact” that Americans spend only 15 percent of their income on food. The real truth is that the rate has actually fallen to only 10 percent. Amazingly, that INCLUDES the amount spent dining out.

Now, the statement from The Foxfire Book was made in the 70’s by a fellow who may or may not have had running water in his home, so he lived life pretty close to the bone. Still, he considered himself to have had a good life. If his statement is true, then most of us could survive on only 30 percent of our income (or less).  It seems to me that sort of proves the truth of the statement on luxury and makes the biblical question quite relevant. Why do we ruin our health and waste our lives chasing “things?” My vote is because Satan wants us to. What do YOU think? © 2013
-

Friday, January 25, 2013

My Day

-
This was my last day of “paid time off” available at work, so I took it. Otherwise I’d have lost it when my job ends Monday. It’s also our youngest granddaughter’s birthday, so I figured it would save the after-work rush for me to go home, get my wife and make it to the restaurant on time. My granddaughter is six years old today and told us recently that we’d taken her two older sisters out for their birthdays, but we’d never taken her! She’s apparently old enough to value such things now, so we told her that we’d take her this out year. When possible, that means her two sisters, her dad and his fiancé. We’re always glad to do it, since we rarely see them all, otherwise.

Our spoiled little Dachshund has learned that if she goes to the foot of the stairs and whines, my wife will get me up to take her out. I’d taken her out last at 6AM, but my wife had paid no attention and got me up when the pooch started whining up the stairs at 8:50. She wanted me up is all that she really wanted, but my wife wouldn’t believe it, so I got up. So much for sleeping in until I awoke naturally (though the missus rarely allows that, anyway). The dog accompanied me to the bathroom, and afterward sat unconcerned at my feet as I checked a couple things on the computer. Going outside seemed the furthest thing from the pooch’s mind as I headed to the kitchen. When I mentioned that fact to my wife, she told me that I wouldn’t have so much trouble getting up if I’d quit going upstairs at night and “playing” on the computer. When I pointed out the impossibility of doing that with my disconnected desktop computer in a box on the living-room floor, she switched subjects and started getting after me about it being there in the first place. She hates to be in an argument that’s not going her way, so she’s quite adept at changing the subject!

Suddenly, the thought hit her that she wanted a McDonald’s breakfast, so I was rushed into showering and such, so we could slowly traverse our country roads and get to town through the fresh snow that had appeared overnight. We made it with nine minutes to spare.

Letting her out at Wally World’s front door, I cruised around the parking lot looking for someone returning to a car near the door. Soon, I was waiting on two very slow-moving older folks to get their groceries stowed and leave the space closest to the door. Now that was either good luck or blessing! Soon, a car was waiting on them to move, so they could make their turn. Then, a car from the other direction began waiting on THAT car, so they could make THEIR turn. The second the old folks cleared the space, a small station-wagon flew around from behind me and into the space I’d been waiting on for probably five minutes. Instinct over-ruled manners and I laid on the horn. Surprisingly, the station-wagon moved on, so I pulled into the space. I then took my computer inside and into their restaurant where I managed to find an open router, and went online. Unfortunately, a “blizzard” began while we were there, and we left early to go home.

We cancelled the dinner, with plans to try the next day or the next. I hope our granddaughter understands and doesn’t cry, but at six, many things are more overwhelming than they are at 60. I’m glad we’re home, as the snow is still coming down. Now my wife wants me to quit playing on the computer and “spend some time with her.” For now, that means watching home-repair shows on TV. Luckily, she’ll let me lie on the floor and pet the dog, instead of sitting in my chair with my eyes glued to the screen. Now, how can I pass up an offer like that? © 2013
-

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Nor Dark Of Night

-
I’ve mentioned before that I used to haul mail between my hometown and Pittsburgh for a contractor. Going up in the afternoon, things were pretty boring. I had a four-hour layover up there and spent some of it talking with the guys on the docks there at the airport. You have to find your own entertainment on some jobs. One of my tricks was to look at the parcels that accumulated for me, as one plane after another came in, and see where they had come from and where they were going. A lot of city names in this country are copies of famous places in Europe—Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Birmingham, etc. I suppose those places were once the homes of the original settlers to those sections of the new world. Some place names in the British Isles seemed funny to my American mind. One in Scotland was down-right profane by our standards, though I won’t mention it here. I’m sort of glad no-one named any towns here like that!

Another angle was seeing just what sort live critters that I carried. Bait was a common thing. I’ve hauled crickets, grasshoppers, night crawlers, red worms, meal worms, frogs and probably other things that I don’t remember. Obviously, most were going to places that catered to outdoorsmen.

A rather macabre discovery was the number of parcels shipped from one hospital to another with labels saying that they contained body parts. Since they were being hauled by truck, rather than being picked up by worried-looking hospital personnel, I suspected that they were being sent to teaching hospitals for dissection or examination.

A more enjoyable job was hauling the young critters headed for farms around the area. I’ve hauled a few rabbits, guinea chicks, goslings and ducklings and many regular chicks. Most nights, they could ride in the box (back of the truck) with the rest of the mail. Severely cold nights, I’d haul them in the cab with me. Back then security wasn’t so tight, and my wife would ride with me sometimes on Friday nights. One very cold spring night, we shared the cab with a stack of boxes holding about 200 baby chicks. As we tooled along smooth pavement, the chicks would go to sleep. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bumps and holes to be hit in 3-1/2 hours of driving. At every serious jolt, the boxes would come alive with the startled peeps of a couple hundred balls of fluff. We got many a good laugh on the trip home. It was one of those simple experiences that still remain in our memories these thirty years later. © 2013
-

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Disappointment

-
Below, you’ll see some things I recently received from Crosscut Saw Company of Seneca Falls, New York. The auxiliary saw handle was over-priced at $19.50, but you can’t find them anywhere, so I gritted my teeth and paid the price. The quality seems okay. It will go on the one-man saw that I got in Amish country.

I already had and antique joiner and setting anvil, but figured that modern made would probably be more accurate than the old cast ones that I had. I’d never used a spider, so just got it on a lark. The latter three items came in a kit for $70, and I really didn’t think that was unreasonable in this day and age. The casting quality of the brass or bronze spider was okay, so no complaints. However, the finish of the joiner and anvil was appalling. You can see that the bottom of the anvil has uneven edges; what you can’t see is that they pretended to dress them on an overly coarse grinder and left edges that could cut your skin. Also, the machining on the joiner was incomplete, and the edges were left undressed, so it, too, could cut you. You can see some of the burrs, even in my fuzzy photo. I should have just used my old ones and saved my money. They DON”T NEED work to make them safe.

The shipping cost of $26.84 was at least double what it should have been, but I knew that in advance and ordered anyway. I’m going to write them, though, and explain that I worked three years as a mail-order clerk and know when I’m getting ripped-off on shipping and “handling.” I’ll see what happens.

Sixbears mentioned the poor quality of American made crosscut saws. If these accessories are any indication, he’s spot on. © 2013


-

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Last Haul From Amish Country

-
Pictured below are the tools that I bought in Amish country of Ohio, back in October. I paid a bit too much for the total, in part because of an “error” by the check-out girl. (There seems to be an error to their benefit nearly every time, which I don’t catch until afterwards.) However, I knowingly paid too much for the clamp, because it was in such excellent shape, even though the bottom screw isn’t original. The soldering irons are for hoped-for future projects involving my dad’s old gasoline blow-torch and junked ductwork from my brother-in-law’s business. The straight-peen hammer is for stonework.

The real prize, though, is the cross-cut saw in very-good condition for only $20. I’d call it a 3-1/2 footer, but it measures about 4 feet from blade tip to handle tip. I’ve already ordered and received a top handle for it that cost as much as the saw did. After cleaning and dressing it, I plan on putting it in the back of the truck (in a case) for emergencies and leaving the chainsaw at home. I personally may run low on gas, but at least I’ll know the saw will always start! © 2013


-

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jodie And Kathy Lee

-
It was 2 AM and I figured that I might as well put out the dog, since I was up. My wife hadn't been able to get to sleep and still had her TV on. When asked if I knew that Jodie Foster was gay, I told her that I hadn't heard, but that nothing surprised me out of Hollywood types. I'd always figured her for a mixed-up sort anyway. My wife said that she'd just admitted it on "her" show, pointing at Kathy Lee Gifford on the screen.

I used to respect Kathy Lee for standing up for what she believed. She used to seem a little naive, but decent. Then she went Hollywood. The last time I'd seen her had been on a construction show where she wandered around a home construction site, wine glass in hand, trying to be cute, sexy or amusing - and failing miserably. I have nothing against a Christian having a glass of wine with their meal, but wandering around a construction site in the middle of the day with a wine glass in your hand doesn't seem a wise thing to do.

I don't know if Hollywood has ruined her, or if her husband's indiscretions have driven her over the edge, but she's "not the person that she used to be." Maybe she never was. One thing's for sure, she won't be the one to show Jodie the error of her ways.
-

Sunday, January 13, 2013

For Those Who Like The "F-word"

-
Some folks use the f-word, or one of its variants, for every existing part of speech. It has become so much a part of our national (and maybe international) conversation that most people never know when they say it or hear it. For those of us who actually listen for meaning in a conversation, the word’s usage makes its user sound like an idiot.

Don’t agree? Then take my challenge! Since “F___” has the same meaning as “copulate,” replace the f-word  with the word “copulate” in your conversation for a few days. If you think it sounds stupid when you say it, remember that is exactly what you sound like when you use the f-word. © 2013
-

Newly Arrived Scythe Tools


-
I grew up with a father who was one of the few men in the neighborhood still using a scythe, and the only one using a European-style blade. I think I remember Dad telling me once that purists peened the blade rather than whet it so often, but he never learned the trick. Instead, he used a common carborundum whetstone like those who used American-style blades.  A few quick, rhythmic strokes on opposite sides of the blade every now and then kept the blade almost razor sharp and mowing smoothly. Dad was the best hand with a scythe that I ever saw and could mow nearly as even as a lawn-mower. I grew fairly skilled with the tool myself, but could never come close to matching him.

When I arrived home one day last week, there was a box waiting for me on the hearth. Inside were some anxiously anticipated tools from Scythe Supply. A few days earlier, I’d ordered the tools pictured below, a special hammer, two peening anvils and a peening jig. The hammer was a bit over-priced at $29, but it had a special narrow peen, so I decide to go for it anyway. I have no gripes with the head, but the grain in the handle is deplorable. Luckily, it will only be used to tap, not to wallop anything with, so it will do. The wide, slightly domed face is made to be used with the narrow peening anvil. That anvil reminded me of a hardy for a blacksmith’s anvil, except for the slightly arched shape. The somewhat arched narrow peen of the hammer is to be used with the larger, square anvil, which is slightly domed. The two anvils went for $16 each, which seemed reasonable. The peening jig is made to do the same job with less skill required. Its trio of parts set me back $40, but the well-machined device seemed worth it, especially considering what it can do.

I ordered a couple videos with the tools, which I could probably have done without. I wish now that I’d ordered a couple of their natural whetstones, but I’ve got an antique, super-fine one that will probably work for now. Now, I need to make a holder for the stone that will hold water and hang from my belt. Plus, I need to figure out how to put a T-handle halfway up Dad’s old snath, so it will work like those used in Europe. Sorry folks, but the American blades and snaths are man-killers in comparison. If you recall, I mentioned a few weeks ago that I sold my weed-whacker to a neighbor. © 2013


-

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Your Old Men Will Dream Dreams

-
The words of the title came to mind this morning when I awoke. They’re found in Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17. I had slept well the first part of the night but, after getting up in the wee hours to use the bathroom and take the dog out, I didn’t sleep well the second part. Perhaps it was due to the weather getting ready to change, but my aching knee alone was enough to make sleep difficult. The two aspirin I’d taken seemed to have no effect, so I tossed and turned and cat-napped.

I often dream—usually short nonsensical dreams or else long boring ones about working or traveling. In my last one, I found myself and my wife entering what appeared to be the lobby of a grand hotel. The place was full of hunter green, dark oak and Victorian furnishings. It reeked of class and antiquity. Being just sight-seers, we avoided the desk and walked back a short hall that ran toward the back of the building to the left of the front desk. It soon opened into what appeared to be a huge library, though I could only see the aisle that we were in. That aisle was very wide and contained three tables about 16 feet long placed side-by-side and running the direction of the aisle.
Imagine my surprise, as we neared the far end of the tables, when my long deceased uncle stepped around the end of the oak bookcase on our right and faced us with the old twinkle in his eye and a warm smile on his face. Since he used to own a clothing store, I wasn’t surprised that he was dapper-looking in a medium brown suit, but without a tie. The ceiling lights glinted off the “high forehead” I remembered, but the well-chewed cigar stub that was his trademark was missing. He appeared to be about 50 years old. He just stood there smiling at us, but kept his silence.

I hadn’t fully recovered from seeing my uncle when my dead father stepped closer from the other side of the room, where he’d arrived unnoticed. He had a half-smile on his face as he looked at us, but he remained silent, too. I don’t remember the color of his pants, only that they co-ordinated well with his dark-grey sport coat. He looked about as he did at age 35. At that point, I thought that I’d entered the next life, and fully expected my wife to see her first husband next, but that didn’t happen. I wondered how we’d gotten there, since I didn’t remember anything traumatic in the moments before.
The area soon filled with other men in suits and sports coats of muted tones, all without ties. They seated themselves as they arrived and spoke softly among themselves and laughed quietly at times. All acknowledged my wife and me with a glance and a smile, but none spoke to us directly. My wife and I sat down, too. Even though I saw no other familiar faces, it somehow came to me that these men were all relatives who’d passed on before me. Though I couldn’t hear most of their conversation, I did pick up one fellow asking another if he knew that “great-great-grandma xxxx” had died. The other replied that he didn’t even know that she was still alive. That seemed strange coming from men who you would think to be her elders.
Soon, a slightly louder voice said, “I think I hear them coming!” The men arose and slowly worked their way to the open part of the aisle behind us. One gestured gently that we should stand up, too. That’s when I noticed that there were two women in the group who’d sat down unnoticed near the end of the row that we were in. One wore a dress of some muted color, while the one closest wore a bright pink dress with a red feather pillbox hat, plus had on high heels and carried a large purse. She appeared older than the other people there and had hair that was nearly white. It occurred to me that someone was going to make an entrance, and respect was being shown by standing for the occasion.

Soon, a door on the far wall opened, and three men came in carrying a white-haired woman in a pink, quilted house-coat. She was talking and laughing quietly with the men. Two had her in a sort of semi-reclining fireman’s carry, while the third carried her feet. It appeared that the lady being carried was capable of walking, but that being carried was somehow supposed to honor and welcome her. One other man held the door and two more simply walked behind, making six men with the lady—the same number normally used for pall-bearers, I thought.
And there the dream ended. It was as if I’d hit the pause button on a video-player; the people stayed there, but motionless. Suddenly, it came to me that I was dreaming, and that all I had to do to leave the dream was open my eyes. When I did so, I found myself looking at the bedroom ceiling. Sitting up on the edge of the bed, I asked the Lord to show what was meant if there was some meaning, otherwise, I’d just think it was some crazy dream. I then prayed my usual morning prayer and went downstairs to great the morning. My wife and my ecstatic dog awaited. So, now I wonder. © 2013
-

Saturday, January 5, 2013

It Ain’t Lookin’ Good!

-
I first contacted Frontier Communications about putting in a land-line for me about four weeks ago. They’re the company who bought the land-line network from Verizon who, in turn, had bought it from the old C&P Telephone Company years ago. The reason that I dropped Verizon was due to their extremely poor service and (more the folks at the top than the bottom) their bad attitude. Verizon hadn’t maintained their lines properly, so it’s been a battle for Frontier to get them up to snuff. From what I hear, their dial-up is still a disgrace.

Unfortunately, since my employer is closing the local office, I’m looking into working at home and need to have a regular, old-fashioned land-line, in conjunction with high-speed internet service. I’ve already got the latter through my cable company, but not the former, thus my call to Frontier. A likeable and VERY YOUNG lady took all the information and told me that I would be emailed about setting up an appointment. Nearly two weeks later, I had yet to hear from them, so I called them and wasted many minutes on my cell phone waiting for an agent. That tells me that they’re too greedy to hire enough people to take their calls, not a good sign, when combined with their dragging their heels.

It turned out that they “needed more information” and would mail a form to me. The kid said they couldn’t email it for some reason. That was just before Christmas, so it wasn’t until nearly another week later that I finally received the form. Interestingly enough, the unsigned form letter that accompanied the form said that “the information I’d requested” was enclosed. I thought that was a brilliant touch. Unfortunately, I had to wait until Friday when my bank was open late to present two forms of ID and get the thing notarized, just to prove that I really was who I said I was. (I kid you not!) They’re the ones with the questionable reputation; maybe I should have sent them a similar request. Looking at what they’d sent me, I suspect the problem was that they got a letter wrong in my name.

Meanwhile, I haven’t yet been able to get waited on at my local Radio Shack to buy my headphones, and the jobs for which I’d planned on applying for are gradually getting filled. I’d love to save gasoline and travel time by working at home, but it really AIN’T lookin’ good. In case anyone thinks I’m making this up, the form and part of the cover letter are shown below.

Incidentally, The form wasn't worded correctly to be legal in my state, so the notary had to type some stuff onto the form herself. © 2013



-

Thursday, January 3, 2013

My, How Things Have Changed!


-
The other night, my wife and I used a gift certificate we received for Christmas to dine at one of the national chain restaurants. I let her out at the door, so she could get our name on the list, and then parked the truck. When I got inside, several young folks were standing around, and we did the same. My wife nodded toward a young couple seated in the tiny seating area, and told me that she was going to get us a seat, but the young woman saw her intent and rushed over and sat down before my wife could get there. Nothing new; I see things like that all the time.

A couple minutes after I got there, two other couples came in, one probably in their 70’s, the other probably in their 80’s. They appeared to all be together. After giving the “hostess” their names, they stood there like the rest of us. I glanced over at those seated in disbelief. When I was a kid, boys were taught to give their seat to any female, and to older males. Even girls were taught to give their seats to older ladies and any pregnant woman. The oldest seated couple may have been in their 40’s. The other were all 30 or under. There were six of us “old folks” standing, and seven much younger folks seated. Three of the “youngsters’ were playing with their phones.

I wouldn’t have taken a seat anyway, but the three women were standing with some slight difficulty, as was the oldest man. I would have said something to those seated, but I would have embarrassed the other folks, so I didn’t. I guess the age of chivalry is long dead; or maybe its last adherents were standing there with grey hair. © 2013
-