starting the year off with a bang

So, there was a coastal storm on the night of the Jan. 3. It wasn’t supposed to go very far inland. The inland roads weren’t fully prepared.

I was coasting along, fully expecting to see things transition into snow in about 20 miles. I had already slowed down because there was schmutz on my windshield from a salt/sand truck I had passed way earlier. I was debating hitting the wiper cleaner, pulling over and getting the towel out of my trunk if the little squirt of wiper fluid didn’t help enough.

My windshield effectively turned to mud. I tapped the brakes.

That was snow on Interstate 64 at the Shannon Hill exit, not salt.

Nicole immediately turned 90 degrees. I did the turn with the direction of the car thing, but my car slid into a ditch. We went down and struck the other side of the ditch with the front left corner. Nicole then slid backwards a few feet and banged up the back left corner.


Seriously, the rest of the car looks perfect.

I didn’t get injured, and the airbags did not go off. There was no damage to the doors or windows or trunk or even the hood. But due to the age, mileage and the angle of impact, Nicole was totaled.

I was near a former coworker’s apartment, and he was on Interstate 64 at the time, so I wasn’t stranded for long. There was only one state trooper working on that stretch of highway, and towing companies were overwhelmed because, as Trooper K.L. Bailey — who did not give me a ticket — put it, “No one expected it here.”

I had a rental Impala for a few days, and was poised to get one from my nephew when something told me to get another Altima.

Today, I got one. She’s grey, and her name is Sydney Kazu Smith. I name all my vehicles (and my plants) after characters in novel universe. In Brown River Blues, Syd is the daughter of Edwin Montclair and Yumiko Makino and the wife of Scott Smith.


It was close to nightfall, so this is the only photo right now.

Despite it almost being precisely nine years, I weirdly don’t miss Nicole. I guess it’s because I stopped, for lack of better words, I stopped forming a close bond with my cars after Simone sustained terminal mechanical failure in 2006.

The ride and most of the features are virtually the same, despite it being a generation newer than Nicole, so there was no real moment of adjustment. I adjusted the seat and the mirrors, set up my phone and set off on a quick jaunt to Henrico County.

I like having some updated features, like Bluetooth, automatic lights and a USB port.

I hope Syd and I have many years together. As I had said with Nicole, I want to keep my Altima even if my fortunes change and I can afford a second car.

I also hope this is the last time I’m in a wreck.

he called me ‘the lawyer’


The Rev. Curtis West Harris Sr., c. 2010

Former Hopewell City Councilor and Mayor Curtis Harris called me the “The Lawyer” because of my interviewing style. I have this nasty habit of forgetting half of my interview questions, so as thing seemingly wrap up, I come back with a flurry of questions. In a way, I like that because it catches people off guard, like when Colombo did it.

Rev. Harris’ church was mostly behind the newsroom. It was the one that got caught in the crossfire about a week after the current pastor of my mom’s church in Hampton started there. Rev. Harris lived across the street from the church on what is now Rev. C.W. Harris Street, near the corner of a road now named Ruth Harris Way for his wife.

Mrs. Harris was his rock. There were countless times when he told him he couldn’t or should do something, like have another soda, and he would a boyish grin and try for it anyway. In one particular instance, he argued that he should have another one, despite the hour, because he once again was elected to the City Council.

It took a lot of effort for him to get on the council the first time.

Rev. Harris spent most of his life fighting for civil rights. He was discriminated against. He joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He marched arm-in-arm with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He was threatened. There were two unsuccessful attempts to firebomb his home. He marched to Hopewell City Hall past a group of Klansmen. He was arrested 13 times fighting for rights.

After seven unsuccessful runs for the City Council and a lawsuit to cease at-large representation for the entire city, he won in 1986. He became mayor in 1998.

He was also fought for environmental justice in a city often known only for pollution. He fought through his resignation from the council in 2012 due to a stroke. He was a bottomless well of information. He never leaked information to me. He would only give me enough to point me in the right direction. Katy and I got to know the city we were covering better through his wisdom. His office next door to his home was a treasure trove of civil rights and Hopewell history.

The world lost that Sunday when Rev. Harris died at 93, but his legacy will live on.

There is a public viewing scheduled for Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. just outside the doors of the Curtis W. Harris Sr. Library at Carter G. Woodson Middle School in Hopewell. A second view is set for 10 a.m. Monday at First Baptist Church, at the corner of Second Avenue and West Randolph Road in Hopewell, and the funeral will begin there an hour later.

pawn shop/lounge/restaurant




We didn’t have anything planned in the morning, so I drank more bourbon and watched more Bosch. Because vacation, damn it. This totally would have been the time for me to work on my novel. So much for that.

Eventually I sobered up and went to In-N-Out again. Afterward, I drove Renée to one of the dozens of outlet malls dotting the desert before we went to dinner with Brandon.

We went to Beauty & Essex in The Cosmopolitan. The Manhattan-based establishment is a pawn shop/lounge/restaurant. Seriously.

Afterward, we went to the Fountains of Bellagio. The aquatic display was set to the Pink Panther Theme.


No video for you!

Then, since our car already was parked there, we went to Bond. A 12-year-old Scotch was among my drinks. I do not regret it.


On our last full day, we once again took it a bit easy. We ate at China Poblano, which we dubbed the Wong Gonzalez of Vegas. I considered getting ceviche there, because I was disappointed by the ceviche I got the day before, but passed. There’s probably some good ceviche in Richmond somewhere. I haven’t found it yet. But I also don’t get ceviche all the time, despite loving it so much. I said ceviche a lot in the paragraph. Ceviche.

Afterward, we drove through Red Rock Canyon. It was a little late so I couldn’t do the Scenic Drive. If we ever go back to Vegas, I really want to do that drive. I was driving, so I couldn’t take any photos.


On our final day, we returned Giovanna and called a Lyft back to the airport. The driver missed us on the first go round. His air freshener barely covered the scent to weed in his car. It was 9 a.m. Pacific. We had 12 hours to go before getting home.

We had to change flights in San Diego. The little bit that I saw was beautiful. I kinda want to visit there.

But the airport is terrible.

It is the nation’s busiest single-runway airport, it’s hemmed in by development and the most recent plan to relocate it was killed by voters. We had to go through a second security checkpoint to get to our connecting flight because of the terminal’s layout.

Things got better on our second flight, which stopped in Atlanta on the way to Richmond. I ordered two vodka cranberries and then turbulence led to the flight attendants not coming around to charge us for them. I got a bourbon and ginger ale on the last leg. I had to pay for that one.

We arrived in Richmond at about midnight. We had hoped to order food but no restaurants deliver on early Tuesday mornings. So I went to Wawa.

While we were gone for the week, people have gotten worse at parking in our parking lot. The spaces are close to being the exact width of a car, which means one SUV or poorly parked sedan throws everything off. Previous pavement striping showing through a quick asphalt overlay adds an extra degree of difficulty. I’ve taken to parking in a what’s left of a space because I have gotten tired of having to hunt for a better space and my car has reached an age where I don’t car if it picks up scratches and dings.

Because of the amount of travel, the amount of time away from my car or a combination of both, I broke my routine and still had my phone in my hand when I got out of the car. I dropped it trying to squeeze out of the driver’s seat, My screen is only operational because the screen protector is holding it together.

The following day, I got stuck in the parking lot for 20 minutes because a garbage truck broke the gate.

Welcome back to Richmond, right?

“everything is 45 minutes away”


After witnessing a robbery that was brushed aside, I got a beer and stayed up later than I planned. We left late for Los Angeles. Renée drove in because we were curious about traffic and an adage that New York people hate Los Angeles.

Because I was tired from the day before, I dozed off a few times we as traveled through the vast emptiness the 15 cuts through. When I was awake, I was struck at how the road stretched into the horizon and drank in the beauty of the San Gabriel Mountains.

I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t a sign noting the San Andreas Fault.

Traffic was atrocious. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Renée as angry as she was as we tried to exit into downtown LA when getting to Rodeo Drive seemed out of the question. We were going to visit El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula to wait out rush hour. Taking the exit was arduous in itself.

We were getting hungry, and I suggested eating at Musso & Frank. There wasn’t any (cheap) parking nearby, so that was right out. We reached a point where I was certain Renée was going to start mowing down Californians when a cursory search for restaurants noted that The Stinking Rose had a parking lot.

We got to Beverly Hills after all.

After we ate, we shopped at Beverly Center — where I replaced my Vegas-ruined shoes — and met up with Ben, a fraternity brother from our George Mason University chapter.

We managed to see him because we left so late and because we got stuck in traffic heading to the Santa Monica Pier.

We had no idea there was a concert going on, and it let out as soon as we arrived. It was pure pedestrian chaos. Luckily, I was driving at this point. We missed sunset from the pier, but we made it to the Pacific Ocean.

Before we met up with Ben, he mentioned that he was 45 minutes away from where we were. I apologized, saying I hoped it wasn’t too out of his way.

He said it wasn’t a big deal because, in Los Angeles, “everything is 45 minutes away” and everyone is chill about traffic because it’s a given.

I also couldn’t handle the relentless traffic. Be said he likes it more than DC traffic. I hate DC traffic. Los Angeles is my third least favorite place to drive after Boston. At least it didn’t make me fly into a blind rage like Washington and Boston. (New York isn’t even in my top 10; I actually like driving around New York.)

Afterward, it was time to head back. I didn’t want to drive through the night through the desert, but that’s what happened. There were a few traffic jams on the way back, but driving through the night through the desert as our anniversary turned into my birthday was an amazing gift. So was the sunrise over Las Vegas.



Four days in, we finally saw Las Vegas.

We had to take a glorified nap because we had to return the Esportage. Originally, we planned on not driving on the second half of the trip. Then we decided to rent a convertible. Then the price shot up for the convertible because it was Friday. Then we got an Altima.

That made me happy because I drive an Altima. I named her Giovanna because that’s the name of Nicole Cobb’s sister in my novel (the Cobb sisters’ parents are Italian and Irish from New Jersey).

After going back to sleep, we prepared to go to Circus Circus to get steak at THE Steak House with my fraternity brother PaulAnthony and Linda. If you’ve been following this blog since the early years, or are a friend from my college/early journalism days, you remember those names.

I dressed formally. I was told twice that I looked like a hitman. One man appeared to hope I would say I was.


Tonight, he sleeps with the fishes. I promise.

I had the best steak of my life and it was very, very good to see PA after all these years. Additionally, I discovered that day that another brother, Brandon, was visiting from Virginia. I made plans to see him the following day. I hadn’t seen him since going to Maryland to see The Revolution.

After dinner, I wasn’t ready to end the night. Because it was my birthday. We drove around the Strip and eventually ended up in the actual city of Las Vegas. I have more photos, video and a video I was going to use to get stills. It would have been too much effort to do that and post these entries in a timely fashion. Perhaps later this month.

Also, the following photos do not have captions.

The Fremont Street Experience truly is an experience. The canopy created a humid microclimate. Passersby smelled of booze, cigarettes, weed, sweat, desperation. We entered a souvenir shop where a woman was perched on a wheeled platform ladder to scan for shoplifters. We pushed through the crowds to get inside the Golden Nugget to go to the bathroom. We lingered for a while. I got three glasses of Makers, neat. I wanted a bottle. I got one.

On the way back, I got McNuggets. Because Tipsy Elliott loves McNuggets. Being able to get, for the same price, 20 McNuggets nearly 3,000 miles from home is all that is good and bad about America.

We took some city streets. Having a familiar feeling so far from home also is what is good and bad about America. If you had told me I was actually in Virginia Beach, I would have believed you.

I completed my birthday by downing more bourbon and watching Bosch, an Amazon series based on a series of crime novels I’ve been obsessed with since 1996. It is superb.

Still exhausted from driving through the night, I slept for a very long time.

an american tail: elliott goes west


Really west


I neither gambled nor worked on my novel during this trip.

Our Lyft driver came sooner than expected, so we didn’t get a chance to take the garbage out. Additionally, I had turned the thermostat up into the 80s. As we dashed downstairs, I hoped for the best.

The trip to Las Vegas was uneventful. I had decent sleep, wasn’t hungover and ate before we took off. I was dreading the temperature, though. The Southwest was in a heat wave and  it was 116 when we landed.

A dry heat just means it feels like an oven. It wasn’t terrible, but I was disquieted by the lack of sweat. I understood how people wind up passing out/dying here and made a note to constantly drink water.

The cabbie who transported us to our North Las Vegas hotel (it was cheaper and quieter) played Crazy Train as we rode. I took that as a good omen.

Because of the time difference, we had to at least stay awake till 11 p.m. That was as far as we got. Before bed, we went to In-N-Out Burger because it was nearby.

We walked. I wore white shoes. I had to clean them afterward.

Because of the heat, the asphalt roads weren’t completely solid. My soles were pitch. The lane markings were smeared with grey to the point that some were nigh invisible. Bott’s dots were the only hope.

In-N-Out’s burgers bore a slight resemblance to Smitty’s Better Burger. Hands down, Smitty’s would win in a fight.

Afterward, we willed ourselves to go out to stay awake. The last thing I wanted was to be up before dawn each day. We went to a local bar a few blocks down (we got a ride that time). It was terrible, even for me. We then went across the street to the Cannery Casino, we were disappointed in large portions of it being closed for the night. Then we remembered it was a Tuesday.

“Because who’s here on a Tuesday?” I said at one point.

Next up was our first road trip: the Grand Canyon by way of the Hoover Dam.


We still got up a little earlier than I wanted, but it worked out. As our Lyft driver headed to our rental car in Henderson, he played a ’50s radio station as we passed countless lawyer ads and a cell tower incongruously disguised as an alien pine. I was starting to groove on this arid, quirky place. Part of the route was on U.S. 95. I noted how we traded one 95 for another.

We didn’t get the SUV we requested. Instead, we got a Kia Sportage (or, as the receptionist said it, “Esportage”).

It did not have fantastic acceleration. I drove to the Hoover Dam.

From there, I drove through miles of Arizona desert and mountains to the Hualapai reservation to their portion of the Grand Canyon. It was two hours closer than the national park entrance and I wanted to give natives my money.

It goes without saying that the canyon is utterly beautiful. Our tour included two overlooks. The best was Guano Point, where I scaled numerous rocks to get sweeping views of the canyon. Additionally, I survived taking a cliffside selfie.

Renée got altitude sickness but was a trouper and drove back to Vegas. Once we returned, I walked to a 7-Eleven to get her a soda.

The 7-Eleven got robbed while I was there.

the voyage of bill’s birthday present


The things this box has seen ….

I don’t remember what I got my best friend for his birthday.

I mean, I think I know what I got him, but I can’t remember if that’s what I got him.

Back in March, I bought Bill a card and a birthday gift and got it wrapped. I asked them to add glitter, but they didn’t have glitter. It fit perfectly in a Priority Mail box someone abandoned at the post office. I sent it early, since it was going to Hawaii.

Once upon a time, when I asked Bill for his address, he gave me one for regular correspondence and another for packages. I saved it so I never had to ask him again.

When I followed the tracking and told him it had arrived, he couldn’t find it. I then verified the address and learned that he forgot to tell me it was a box at a UPS store and he no longer had it.

I called the UPS store and they told me they mistakenly accepted the package and Bill could come pick it up. Bill was told he couldn’t pick it up. I figured they’d send it back to me one day or they’d eventually let Bill have it, since they signed for it by mistake and I called the day they received it and I was told he could still come get it.

I heard nothing further from Bill about it, so I was a little surprised when I got a package notification Thursday and I got that mangled hunk of cardboard.

“It wouldn’t be proper for us to not have an adventure, even if it’s in the mail,” Bill said.

“I wonder what it has seen in three months,” I replied.

“Clearly, someone banged a hooker on it.”

I have Bill parents’ number, because, although we met in college, at times it seems like we grew up together. In a way, we did. Also, if my dad remained in the Army and moved to the Tri-Cities, Bill and I would have gone to high school together. I have these weird points in my life where there are people I still would have met if my things turned out differently. It used to freak me out, but now I just go with how Dickensian it is.

But I digress.

I plan on calling them next Thursday, driving down to Chester on whatever day is good for us and leaving it for the next time he goes home.

“Burn the edges or something before you give it to him,” I plan on saying. “That’s all it’s missing.”

Happy (belated) birthday, my Billybuns. I’m glad I didn’t follow through with trying to send a sixer of Legend.

we’re all pregnant with doug wilder’s baby

I hate that I came to Richmond at the end of an era.

A few hours ago, I went to a tribute to the 400-pound Queen of Richmond, Dirtwoman.

My first Hamaganza was in 2007. Before Pat Kane finished describing it to me, I was already sold on going. Who wouldn’t want to see a burlesque/drag/comedy/charity show involving not only the city officials but also someone who has been arrested for solicitation in an infamous event and also always makes at least one joke about being former Gov. and Mayor Doug Wilder’s lover?

It wasn’t my first experience with Weird Richmond. Through Bill and Craig, I went to shows at what is now Strange Matter. Over the years, I also drank at Empire, Roxy, Wonderland, Fallout, Third Street Diner, Bogart’s and Mojo’s. I’ve been to drag shows and brunches, the Sex Worker’s Art Show, Poe’s Pub, Baja, Fieldens. I’ve seen things on fire on Hell Block; I’ve purchased beer to gain admission to parties in the Fan District thrown by people I didn’t know; I’ve seen luchadores fight in a kitchen.

It’s why I fell in love with this city.

I loved that among the howling masses in sleeveless tees and bullet belts, there I was in a blazer and a Homburg, and it all seemed normal.

But now the streets are cleaner, Empire now is a fancy Mexican fusion restaurant, Hell Block isn’t really known as Hell Block, there aren’t trans prostitutes at Allen and Broad, Bogart’s moved and closed, lunches tend to start at $10 and often don’t come with entertainment.

In a way, I feel like a different sort of gentrification is happening and weirdos like me are a dying breed.

Let’s face it: my shtick is that I don’t look like the kind of person you’d think would know all the words to several Mars Volta and Death Cab for Cutie songs, love a dirty bar and feel at home with people at and beyond the limits of the mainstream.

I wonder what will happen once Dirtwoman guides her hoverounds into the great hereafter. There still will be a Weird Richmond, but it won’t be stinky, sticky PBR-soaked Richmond. But there still will be pockets of it. There still are people around.

I wonder if this is how people feel about New York nowadays.

I hate that I came to Richmond at the end of an era. But at least I got to experience the era.

lifestyler 2000

Momentarily confuses Rosanna with Joanna; gets Black Card revoked.


I should have weighed in last week. It was better.

I had a few days of eating poorly because I did something awesome.

I saw Prince’s first real band, The Revolution, on Thursday. It screwed up my sleep schedule and my eating and I don’t regret a single second of it.

When I saw that they were touring again to honor Prince, I literally dropped everything and took the day off. I’m not even using literally figuratively, as people are wont to do these days. It came across the AP wire while I was on celebrity news duty. I got up, told my technical supervisor (I don’t have a real boss. It’s kinda weird.) I was not working that day, walked back to my desk, asked my fraternity brother Butler if he was down with going with me and ordered tickets after he said yes.

And then my other brother Brandon said he was in, too.

It was awesome.

I was hoarse.

Then I went to karaoke and sang Super Freak and then Body and Soul by Anita Baker.

There is video. I don’t know where.  Body and Soul was one of songs I’ve always wanted to do at karaoke, but it’s rarely on karaoke lists. I really want to do a song by The National or Death Cab for Cutie. There was a Death Cab song, but it was Grapevine Fires. I like that song, but it doesn’t have a bass line at all, and it always bothered me. It’s the one song I definitely don’t like on Narrow Stairs. Once I have the video, I will share it. I think I paid for video.

But I digress.

But wait: I don’t digress. Rosanna and Grapevine Fires both share a drumming that hearkens to the Purdie Shuffle.

But, anyway, I also bought an exercise bike over the weekend. It was one Craig had in his living room for a while. He’s moving to Maryland, and I offered to take it off his hands. The model is the title of this entry.

I had planned for years to buy and exercise bike. I’m still not ready to get on a real bike again. I think I’ll wait a full 10 years.

But I’m working this into my at least 5-mile regimen. I plan on pedaling at least 30 minutes at least every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Today doesn’t count. I have stuff to do that I planned before buying the bike.

I used to be an endurance bike rider. I would do 20 miles like nothing. There was no time frame; it was just we’re going to Yorktown and back with a gallon jug of water in the backpack. I miss it. But I spent my entire childhood biking in a place without real hills. I wasn’t ready for Richmond. Although I say I might be in 2019, I don’t know if I am. My wreck in 2009 was my second real crash in probably more than 20 years of riding a bike at the time and the first time I had to go to a hospital about it.

(I seriously broke my arm in but played it off in like seventh grade. It healed correctly, thankfully, but I broke my frickin’ arm and pretended that I didn’t. For a while, I called it my “chicken wing” because I couldn’t hold it out straight unless the situation necessitated it. I seriously gambled my ability to have full use of my right arm over telling my parents that I attempted a stunt and failed.)

But I think throwing this in the mix will help break this plateau. Regardless of it being a plateau, I’ve tightened my belt and I look better in shirts. My doctor wants me to be no more than 170 and gave me until November.

Challenge accepted.

up on the roof

Aside: The new Jamiroquai album is my album of the spring. And probably a good chunk of the summer.


I would have taken a better photo, but I was in a rush.

Not long after we moved into a new place, I explored the building. The second time I went up a flight of stairs, that time to get all my steps in for the day, I discovered that maintenance didn’t closed a normally locked door all the way.

So I went in.

I wound up on a portion of the roof, but the access door I found didn’t open to much and didn’t lead me to a place with a great view. I also didn’t want to do a lot of exploring because we have real security here and I didn’t feel like explaining how/why I was somewhere I clearly wasn’t supposed to be.

I forgot I took this photo (and two more that give away exactly where I live a bit more, so I’m not posting those). When I came across it a few days ago, it reminded me of a story.


In the 2002-2003 school year, I lived in James River Hall at CNU. If one stands in a certain spot next to the original residence hall at CNU, Santoro, and stare at James River Hall, you get one of last two views of how the campus looked back when I was a student. It makes me sad.

But I digress.

JR is a four-story building, but the elevator goes up to five. Nearly everyone I talked to in the building mentioned how they pressed 5 to discover that nothing happened. It aggravated us. It clearly was a four-story building. Where did 5 go? It had to go somewhere, because why else would it be there?

One day, I was in an English class in Ratcliffe Hall, which once housed the English department. And political science. And facilities for our field sports. It was a weird place.

But, as I was saying, I was in class, and right before it started, my future fraternity brother Dorian ran into the room and yelled, “The 5 in James River works!”

The only thing that could have piqued so many college students’ interest would have been someone announcing that there were kegs somewhere.

Someone asked him what was there. He said he didn’t know because he wanted to tell people first. A group of us decided to go straight there after class.

We packed into the elevator and — yes — the 5 illuminated when pressed and we started heading up.

When we got to the fourth floor, the doors opened, and a woman was confused when none of us made a move to exit.

“Are … you going down?” she asked.

“No,” Dorian replied. “We’re going up.”

She stood there as we didn’t budge and the doors closed.

A few minutes later, we were on the fifth floor. It was just a mechanical area. When we turned around, we couldn’t find a button to recall the elevator. There was a staircase, though.

“Hey!” another woman yelled as we popped out of a seemingly decorative wood panel in the wall across from her open room door.

“Just materializing out of a wall was more exciting that what was up there,” someone said.

And that is why I go down every hallway and try every door that isn’t someone’s apartment in every building I live in.

I survived the downtown expressway and all I got was this lousy post


Friday started out as a fantastic day.

I took Missy out and she not only did not bark as we exited the building, she barely reacted when we at the top of Taylor’s Hill Park and she saw a dog at the bottom.

And then I got home.

I needed to contact the IRS for my wife’s college financial aid. Also, I had to call Comcast (more on that in a sec).

I tried to use the IRS’ website to take care of business. The form said to use the last address from which I filed taxes. That was my place in Manchester. It was apparently
wrong. Then I tried my address in Charlottesville. Still wrong. Then I tried my current address.

Locked out.

Then I tried using the phone system and ran into the same problem the first two times. The third time, the automated system malfunctioned. I yelled, swore and threw my phone
across the room. Missy looked at me like I was insane.

I tried one last time. It worked with my current address, despite us not planning on sending our taxes off until this weekend.


Then it was time to call Comcast.

There was a really bad billing error. Really bad. I’ve been trying to get it resolved since I got my March bill in late February. At that time, I was told to call back in
March and everything should be OK. Then I was told to call back in April. Then I was told to call again in May.

No. No. You’re resolving this, and you’re resolving it right now.

Using my skills as a journalist, I found the number for corporate customer service. They took care of it. And gave me a $300 credit. Allegedly. The account page doesn’t reflect
what was promised yet, but it is Friday. And I’ve been assigned a case number and my one customer service rep. They have until Monday at noon.

Then it was time to go to work. Great. I accomplished nothing beyond going to the bank and replacing the shoes I wear to walk Missy in the morning. They looked so nice, I
wore them to work today, and they’re quickly becoming my favorite pair. I now see what people see in sneakers. I might stop wearing dress shoes all the time. Might.

It was either these or a pair of Adidas.

When I got to my normal parking spot, a sudden gust of wind tore my hat from my head. It floated through the Richmond sky and landed in the fast lane of the Downtown Expressway.

You could see it from Third Street.

Surprisingly, motorists traveling on state Route 195 in excess of 55 mph avoided it. With each passing car, my hat of at least eight years inched closer and closer to the left shoulder.

I did what any reasonable person would do: I went in to work.

Then I ducked back out, got on the highway, pulled over onto the shoulder and got my frickin’ hat.

It was worth the toll.

Some people say they would rather run in traffic than call the IRS and Comcast. Friday, I did all three.