Comment Of The Day
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Tuesday, July 28, 1998

“That'll Be One Dollar....”


"Hey, Mom are you out there?"
"Yes, Billy, I'm just getting some fresh air." And the air was fresh this morning overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge through the incoming fog. "Here's your tea." She took the cup and saucer from his hand and they stood there together for a time. The fog was quiet and soothing, as though holding back the day and all of its concerns. The tips of the bridge supports were still showing, but like a rising tide, they both knew in a few moments, all would be lost in the gray warmth of San Francisco's signature mist. It was a nice moment. The tea was strong and hot, the two of them standing there together in the hotel of the vacation they had always dreamed of: Billy and his Mom. He was thinking, I know she's sick, but she's happy today.


His fingernails were now feeling the strain. His arms and hands were exhausted, His back was aching. His head was pounding. Above, six hundred feet of cliff; impenetrable, steep, smooth. Below, six hundred feet to the rocks; wet with the afternoon tide. "Why do I do this stuff?" His thoughts were mixed, but mostly his mind was concentrated on gaining an inch or two of cliff and then driving the next piton home. Then it was the challenge of rethreading the line to the next shackle, feeding it all through, then taking up the slack, and dragging his body the next vertical foot or so. And repeating it over and over, like a weight lifter, or a spider, climbing. After three hours, he was halfway. Hanging alone from the deep blue lines, allowing all of his weight to swing free on the pitons he had placed, on the skill level he had attained, the air was colder up there and fresher. As his rig swayed a foot or two to the left and then to the right, he felt an odd sense of freedom. He was treading in the air, halfway, exhuasted and still with the hardest part yet to come. He noticed that the tips of his fingers were raw and some blood showed through the white rosin. The rocks were dry and warm on the cliff ahead. As he rested there, his straining muscles relaxed, the furrows in his brow smoothed out, and his mind cleared. Just swinging back and forth, resting, he knew he was taking a little too long. (Climbing pitons only hold solidly for a few minutes in those conditions.) As he felt the telltale slip and saw the small chips sift away from the cliff, he reached for his
rock mallet and the next metal peg. Rock climbing takes time. It takes money. It was time to go up a little higher.


Sally's Mother had given her a new a doll today. It was the first one she had been able to afford for a long, long time. The doll had red hair and wore a little red-checkered dress with a small, white apron. She was a pretty doll. And it was tea time. "Now, what type of tea do you want?" Sally asked.

"I would like brown tea."

"Milk and sugar?"

"Yes, extra sugar."The doll was really a lot like Sally. Sally liked lots of sugar in her tea, too. Sally liked to have tea. Tea time was fun. Everyone just sat at the table and talked back and forth. No one ever got mad at tea time. And, certainly, there was no throwing stuff and hitting. Daddy almost never came to tea time. Mostly it was just Sally, alone. But today with her new doll, she wasn't alone anymore.

"Would you like some more tea?"

"Yes, please." It was very pleasant here in her small room, even though the one window was dirty and wouldn't open. With her new doll, it was cooler in her room today. Nicer.

"Here you go." Sally poured the tea, but spilled a tiny little bit. Her doll's eyebrows went up and her little mouth formed a small "o", at the accident. "No problem," Sally said and with the napkin cleaned up the small spill. It was nice here in her room. With her new doll. At tea time. It helped her pass the day. She looked at her new doll. The nice little dress and the pure white apron.
She's pretty. Sally smiled.


Mac was not mad, just determined. He had worked the construction site for four years and he had taken just about all he was going to take. No, it had taken ALL he was going to take. Today was the day he had been praying for for all those years. Today he would tell that asshole exactly what he thought of his bad breath, his mean spirit, and, yes, Mac was even going to tell him that he was sick to God of his fat ass bossing him around. This was going to be sweet. He knew he'd be in the trailer, drinking coffee from that fancy chrome thermos. He'd be in there thinking how smart he was; much smarter than peons like Mac. Well, today would be different. "Today," Mac thought, "is Independence Day." The dust of the site was stirring beneath his boots. It was hot already. The other guys were milling around as usual, putting off the jack hammering and shovelling as long as possible. One of them waved to Mac, and gestured for him to come over and join them. Mac waved him off. He was going to wave them all off today. The trailer was dead ahead. His heart was pounding. He had waited and waited for this moment. Now was the time. He saw his hand reach for the trailer door as though watching a movie. The thumb depressed the small flat lever and the hand pulled the door open. There he was. Drinking coffee. The thermos was right there. The foreman, that asshole, looked surprised. Inwardly, Mac smiled, knowing what he was going to say next.
"It just doesn't get any better than this," he thought as the words formed in his mouth. "I quit. You can take this job and shove it." The foreman spilled his coffee slightly with surprise. He wasn't sure what Mac was going to do. The thought occurred to him that he was in danger, but the door was already closing. Through the little window the foreman could see Mac's arm with a clinched fist rasied up. He heard a loud, "Yes!" as the door returned to its frame and the little flat lever relatched into its housing.

5. In four locations, where daily lottery tickets are sold:

"That'll be one dollar..."

"That'll be one dollar..."

"That'll be one dollar..."

"That'll be one dollar..."

See you next time?

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