They’ve Got Your Number, Dad…

I talk to my parents every day.  That might be more than the average person, but I do have the advantage of being able to strike up a conversation with them at any time, in any place.  As I have written before, my mom and dad were the best parents any kid could have and even though I lost my dad twenty-seven years ago (the day after our oldest son’s first birthday party) and my mom nine years ago (definitely does not seem that long), I still miss them terribly and need them.  I was an unabashed Daddy’s Little Girl.  Which is why I talk to them everyday.  I especially bombard them during difficult times.  And I’m sure they just love that…

But what sparked this post, was a sudden flashback that occurred while I was quietly sitting in the back seat of our car on the way to a movie (the position to which I’ve been relegated since the boys have been home), lost in my thoughts, when I noticed the license plate of another car one lane over.  My breath caught in my throat when I saw the number on the plate:  1526.  An ordinary number to most, but my eyes began to well-up at the sight.  I hadn’t thought of that number in years.  I immediately texted my brother, Paul, to confirm.  And, without delay, he responded that, yes, that was the number alright.  Fifteen-twenty-six was a venerated number in our home growing up.  It was my dad’s star number.  He was a Chicago Police Sergeant and proudly wore that star for thirty years.  After his death, my brother, Tom, had a necklace made for my mom with a CPD star pendant and, you guessed…it was star #1526.  Paul and Tom have since followed in our dad’s footsteps, honorably serving the people of Chicago.  And, devotedly worn on Tom’s uniform, is Star #1526.  My dad’s star.  I remember, when my dad would leave for work, he’d give me a kiss and I’d tell him to “get the bad guys.”  In his uniform.  With that star.

Death may separate us physically from our loved ones, but never in spirit.  And, sometimes, we even get a physical reminder of their beloved memory.  Love you and miss you Mom and Dad, but you already know that.  I tell you everyday.

As a post-script to this, I wanted to share with you, in the words of legendary radio personality Paul Harvey, “the rest of the story”.  My brother, Tom, retired from the Chicago Police Department in November of 2013, resulting in a temporary pause in the life of Star #1526. Until a few months later, that is, when a new class of police officers was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, including my younger brother, Paul. The star had been re-issued to another new Sergeant, but when she heard the history of that number, she happily surrendered it to him. So now,  that Star…that Number…lives on as the third Chicago Police Sergeant in my family proudly pins it to his uniform every day. And that’s the rest of the story. And a pretty cool one at that…

Five’ll Get Ya Ten…Whether Ya’ Want It Or Not

I hate coupons. I hate when I strategically choose a checkout line based on a carefully formed algorithm I’ve devised: number of people in said line, approximate number of item in carts, the gender of said shoppers (sorry, women take longer), and the checkout clerk on duty, only to find myself  behind someone sifting through her (yes, her) neatly sorted organizer. And this display always occurs after I’ve emptied my cart and several people are behind me in line. At this point, I come to the crushing realization that I’ve been deceived and am now trapped. Kill me now. Why? Because what will unfold next is as predictable as a made-for-TV movie. After a relentless search for one or more coupons for each item on the belt, there is ALWAYS an issue with one (or more) leading to an insistence on the part of the customer that, YES, this coupon IS good for .25 off the purchase of four Suave deodorants on top of the posted sale sign on the shelf and the helpless clerk responding that, sorry, it did not ring up at that sale price, all the while thinking “I hate my job.” This leads to the clerk sending out an SOS to anyone within earshot to please go check the deodorant shelf for confirmation. Slow motion the next five minutes (because apparently, I’m the only one who is ever in a hurry), the messenger returns with the sign clearly stating the sale was, in fact, for Secret deodorant. The indignant customer then accuses the store of deceptive marketing because the Suave and Secret deodorants are neighbors on the shelf and bear a remarkable resemblance, and as a result, the sale price should be honored on the grounds of pain and suffering she endured during the whole checking-out ordeal. Time to cue the manager and for me to roll my eyes, heave a huge sigh and play Candy Crush on my phone in a feeble attempt to keep my composure.

Who are the real victims here? That’s right: me and all the other poor schnooks who were tricked into thinking this would be a quick in and out trip to the store. Finally, my moment has arrived. After ringing up my items, the clerk asks the inevitable question: “Do you have any coupons? Would you like to become a member of our Savings Club? You could save 20% off your first purchase and receive offers for huge savings throughout the year.” NO! NO! I do NOT want to save money. I just want to pay a lot more for my stuff and get the hell out of here. That’s when I see the look of gratitude on the clerk’s face and my suffering line-mates. Their eyes say it all. Thank you. Thank you. I nod back in a show of solidarity and a silent encouragement that they, too, will get through this.