my costco employee

I just received the following note from a woman named Vickie Fulkerson.

Hello Mark–I just wanted to compliment one of your employees at the Costco in Redding, Ca. On Sunday the 22nd of June my family and friends were driving to Lake Shasta for a Houseboat vacation when the boat trailer had a blow out. We called ahead to Costco in Redding and spoke with Kyle in the tire department. He was very helpful, and when we got there, he had the tires we wanted to purchase ready. He also was very accommodating in taking the old tires off the rims and putting the new ones on. We were out of there in approx. 20 minutes. As a business owner, he is the kind of employee we all want.

I haven’t sent it yet, but here’s my response.

Thank you for taking the time to write, Vickie. It’s gratifying to hear that Costco may somehow have played a part in what must have been a delightful vacation with your friends and family. I’d like to accept your thanks, but, unfortunately, I think you may have been assisted at another branch. You see, there isn’t a Kyle in our tire department. We did have a young man here named Kyle, but that was years ago, and he died after being gutted by an experimental tire removal device. At any rate, thank you for shopping at Costco.

I know it’s not likely, but I figure there’s at least a slight chance that Vickie might believe that her tires were put on by a customer service oriented ghost… Originally I was going to go much darker with it, suggesting that lovable Kyle had been dragged to his death behind a houseboat to which he’d become somehow fastened, but I didn’t have the heart.

My other idea was to go totally urban legend with it, telling the family that “Kyle” was an escaped convict who had been working with a partner on the highway. The plan was for this partner to shoot out the tire of a houseboat, causing the family to seek assistance at Costco, where “Kyle” had assumed the identity of the manager. According to the accomplice, who later confessed, “Kyle” was to stow away until a safe distance away, then kill the family, taking their identities. The main thing motivating me to take this route was that it would allow me to say, “GET OUT OF THE HOUSEBOAT!”

Posted in Found Objects | 8 Comments

picking up hermaphrodites in ypsilanti

Sorry for the provocative title. It occurred to me this afternoon, as I sat in my yard, picking through a year’s worth of worm castings. It took about two hours, but I think I picked out about 90% of our red wigglers before putting the rest into the garden, along with the several pounds of super-enriched compost that they’ve churned out.

I wish that I’d weighed out all the scraps we’d given to the worms over the past year. I’d like to know how many pounds of rotting vegetables and egg shells we’d kept from the landfill. It has to be a few hundred pounds.

I’d like to be more zealous in my earthworm compositing evangelizing, but we’ve still got a few kinks to work out. Most notably, it’s the bugs. The worms, which live in a plastic tub in our kitchen, seem to attract gnats and flies. That’s why I had to dump it today, sort out the worms, and start over again… Anyway, once we get everything running smoothy, you can expect me to be a royal pain in the ass about it, harassing you all to get worms for your home.

And, no, that’s not my giant condom.

The image to the left shows what happens to a disposable coffee cup given to a thousand hungry worms… All that’s left after a few weeks is the plastic lining. It’s absolutely amazing.

[For those of you who came to thinking that a post on “picking up hermaphrodites” might be more titillating, you’re in luck. It just so happens that I know about something that’s both sexy and wormy.]

Posted in Agriculture | 19 Comments

the juvenile delinquents of ypsilanti

At some point during the Severed Unicorn Head art show opening the other day, I was standing in front of the Dreamland Theater with a friend. He and I were standing there talking, watching our young daughters running up and down the street. After we’d been standing there for a few minutes, a couple of boys approached us. I’d say they were about eight years old. One had those kinds of shoes with wheels in them. The other had a mohawk. The kid with the wheels said that he could beat our daughters, who are about four years old, in a race. We agreed with him that he probably could. Then, after a few seconds of silence, he said that he could probably beat my friend. I’m not sure why he singled my friend out, but he did. And, after a little bit of coaxing, my friend agreed.

The plan was for them to run to the end of the last flower planter on Washington Street. Maybe it was 40 feet. My friend won. It was funny. I snapped a photo, but I won’t embarrass him by sharing it here… And, photos of large men wheezing probably aren’t good for the ratings anyway.

So, after the race, we were all just standing there again, and the kid with the wheels, who had just been beaten, walked over to the alley and got something. When he came back, he said, “You get this for winning.” And he handed this friend of mine a half-smoked, unlit cigarette. My friend, a smoker, considered it for a moment, and then placed the cigarette in a trashcan. The kid said, “No,” reached in, and pulled it out. Then, while we were watching, he broke it in half, and pulled what looked like a firecracker out. He looked up at us and said, “I put a bottle rocket in there.” I think he also said, “I was going to kill you,” but I wouldn’t swear to it.

Posted in Mark's Life | 14 Comments

wes clark on mccain: “i don’t think that riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification for being president”

It’s good to see team Obama on the offensive.

While I’d be happy to see Sam Nunn in the VP slot, I’m pulling for Clark.

Posted in Politics | 15 Comments

update on the downtown ypsi farmers market

According to Amanda Edmonds, last Tuesday’s downtown Ypsilanti framers market drew 619 people. That’s an all time record… And, the total attendance in May and June of this year is 866 more than during the same period in 2007. (Attendance was 2,179 last year, and 3,045 this year.)

Perhaps more importantly, total vendor sales in May and June has been reported at over $14,200, which is more than double what it was during the same period in 2007.

For the past few weeks, according to Amanda, vendors have been making over $2,500 each Tuesday.

And, that’s not all. Things are going so well, that, as of this Tuesday, they’ll be extending market hours to 7:00 PM. (The market opens Tuesdays at 2:00, in the parking lot of the Key Bank building, on Michigan Avenue.)

It’s also worth noting that, so far this year, $415 has been spent on good, healthy food by families receiving State assistance. I haven’t confirmed it with Amanda yet, but I think that’s a huge jump from last year, when the ability to use EBT (electronic food stamps) began at the market.

It’s encouraging to see the market growing… Thanks to everyone who has played a part.

[This photo is taken, with permission, from the Growing Hope Flickr site.]

Posted in Agriculture | 3 Comments


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