The joys of eavesdropping

‘Freqing’ Out with Bill & Jack

Deluxe mobile radio setup

Deluxe mobile radio setup

I listen to the Bill & Jack Show every morning. They can pretty entertaining at times. Don’t look for them on your FM dial. Or AM, or satellite, or Internet radio either.

I listen to the Bill & Jack Show because I don’t have a choice. Between 6 and 7 o’clock every morning, they drop in uninvited on my police scanner frequency.

It annoyed me at first. I’d turn the volume way down until they signed off and I could once again listen to police and fire calls uninterrupted.

Yes, I’m an ambulance chaser. Not the highly paid variety. I’m not an attorney, just a journalist. I go to crashes, fires, crime scenes, and nuisance animal calls. In the county where I work we have more of the latter than all the other calls combined. Cows in the road are a huge problem here.

Eventually, I found myself keeping the volume turned up when Bill & Jack were on the air. They don’t talk about anything exciting — mostly the weather, their ailments, their families, the dog next door.

It didn’t take much “listening between the lines” to realize that Bill secretly wants that dog. He talks about how her owners don’t seem to have time for her and how much he enjoys playing fetch with the dog.

Judging from their labored breathing, the ambient sound of bones creaking and the topics of conversation, I have them pegged as retirees in their 70s.

Their banter is pleasant and comforting, kind of like listening to your own parents or grandparents talking with their friends. But, one morning, I sensed a little tension in their voices. They found themselves embroiled in a game of “ailment poker.”

It went something like this:

Bill: “Yeah, I don’t get around like I used to, not after my heart attack.”

Jack: “I know what you mean. I’ve had two heart attacks.”

Bill: “Well, I’ll see your two heart attacks and raise you knee replacement.”

And on it went till they had covered pretty much every joint and organ on their bodies. I think it ended in a draw because Bill changed the subject.

“I think I’ll go out and play with that mutt next door,” he said before signing off.

So ends another fun-filled morning on the Bill & Jack Show.





Toilet paper truck wipes out, driver and passenger find themselves in deep shit

Ka-ching! These guys will get dunned for the price of a fence, utility pole and semi. Plus court cost.

Ka-ching! These guys will get dunned for the price of a fence, utility pole and semi. Plus court cost.

On days like this, I love my job.

I’d just finished gassing up my car at the BellStores on U.S. 250 East. I was going to use the carwash and was folding my side-view mirrors in when an Ashland Fire Department ambulance flew by, headed east on U.S. 250.

They often make runs to Kingston of Ashland, a nursing home across from the Highway Patrol post. But this one was running hot — too hot for a nursing home call.

I folded the mirrors out, got into the car and listened to the scanner. Semi rollover with entrapment at the 184 mile marker on southbound I-71.

As I headed south on the interstate, I called the paper and asked them to send out a photographer.

I squeezed off a few shots with my Canon G-10 before he got there, just in case. It was early dawn and the lighting was bad, but I managed to get maybe three good shots out of 30. Good enough to post on breaking news when I got back to the paper.

The cab of the truck was mangled. The driver sustained “significant injuries” as one firefighter put it. Not life-threatening, but enough to need a higher level of medical attention.

The squad took him to MedCentral Hospital in Mansfield.

Given the circumstances, he probably dreaded the thought of getting out of the hospital — where he was going to feel a different kind of pain. Mainly in his wallet.

As I gathered more information on the crash, what appeared to be a tragedy morphed into a mystery and comedy.

I’ll piece it together.

The trooper arrives on the scene. (Actually a lieutenant from another post was the first on the scene.) The trooper from the Ashland post finds two guys climbing out of the wreckage, one half-dressed.

He tells the trooper he had been driving.

He eventually confesses that he was in the sleeper of the cab and his buddy was driving . The half-dressed guy ends up getting cited for obstructing official business.

The driver, meanwhile, is under suspension.

He was cited for failure to control and driving under suspension.

The Highway Patrol considered charging him with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, since the half-dressed passenger didn’t own the rig and probably didn’t have the authority to let his buddy drive.

Bottom line, they were hauling a load of toilet paper. Talk about something that would automatically make you the butt of jokes.

Skywriting — Florida Trip Journal

Stalking the Snowbirds Epilogue

This post was written and posted on the flight back to Ohio

Mom and Dad at Hellas, a Greek restaurant and bakery in Tarpon Springs

Mom and Dad at Hellas, a Greek restaurant and bakery in Tarpon Springs

Mission accomplished. Parents totally surprised and, after five days in Florida, no sniffles. (Unlike two previous trips, when I came down with bad colds.)

En route to Akron-Canton Airport from Tampa International.

Note to myself: Always reserve a seat on the plane when possible. Otherwise you get stuck in the last seat. In the corner.

I love looking out the window at things below, but the only view I have now is of bobbing noggins on a sea of blue vinyl seat backs. Fortunately, I have the whole back row to myself. This will come in handy if I feel like napping. Not much chance of that on a two-hour flight.

Nothing worse than spoiling parents. Toward the end of my stay, they started dropping hints. Things like:

• “Hey can’t you stay longer? We need a few things fixed around here … like the next election.”

• “You haven’t used up all your vacation days, have you?”

• “You can always get a job with a newspaper down here … or maybe picking oranges.”

Or …

• “If we give you an allowance, your own room and the use of Mom’s Crown Vic, will you consider moving back in?”

Wait, things are looking up. The stewardesses have started serving coffee and pretzels — started in the front row. They should make it back here by the time we’re over Columbus.

I think I’ll take that nap now. The coffee and pretzels should be here about the time we reach Ohio.

We’ve Been to Hellas and Back


Mom and Dad waiting for the return of the prodigal son. Again.

Mom and Dad waiting for the return of the prodigal son. Again.

Drove the parents to Tarpon Springs today to have lunch at Hellas, a Greek bakery and restaurant.
Garmon’s siren-song-in-a-box misled me into U-turn after U-turn until I eventually corkscrewed my way from Dade City to Tarpon Springs. I could tell we were getting closer to Hella’s because the streets kept getting narrower and the shops and restaurants quainter.
The wharf behind the shops were lined with sponge boats, some displaying their “daily harvest,” neatly bundled into nets.
In the early part of the 20th Century, Greek immigrants — with their knowledge of deep water harvesting — made Tarpon Springs the sponge capital of the world. But the local sponge industry died with a red algae tide the mid 1940s. That and the introduction of synthetic sponges.
Since then, immigrants of a different stripe have sparked a resurgence in Tarpon Spring’s sponge industry, which now sponges off of tourists.
We were lucky enough to come on a day when it wasn’t crowded. We were able to park in a lot across the street and our reservations at Hellas proved unnecessary. The food was excellent, the service mediocre and the urinal in the men’s room was made by Mansfield Plumbing Products of Perrysville, Ohio.
It was oddly comforting to have that little touch of home.
We enjoyed our lunch and mom bought desert from the bakery.
We made sure to give our waiter a good tip. We told him they were hiring at Mansfield Plumbing Products.