Hello Riff Raff Riders and all the ships at sea.

 

Yessir you lucky people, Ripley is back at the keyboard after being roped into it at our last meeting.

 

Preface: As most of you know my Karen was taken from us back about 4 months ago and put my mind in a terrible place. I’m certifiable when in a so called normal state but this was pushing me over the edge. With the help support and caring of my Family, Doctors (Medical, Mental and Psychological) I was hanging on. Then my RRR friends called just to speak with me or drop me a note. One in particular (Karen K) named herself my official pest and would text me once to multiple times a day, making me remember the past but start looking to the future. Then I met a woman,,, I stopped for a bite at a new restaurant in the west end of Allentown called B.J’s. All steel and metal, very modern and absolutely Packed. So I sat at an available seat at the bar. There was this woman who was talking to all the servers and even helping them record their drink sales. Laughing and enjoying herself, so I introduced myself and struck up a conversation. We ordered a light dinner and drinks and talked. Next thing I know its 4 ½ hours later. We’re the same age with similar likes and dislikes plus now get this, she likes motorcycles, oldies music, liver and she can cook.

 

The evening ended and I walked her out to her car, I asked for her number but oh no… so I gave her mine. Her name is Loretta Joyal but I call her Reds cause she has red hair and you all know I can’t remember names.

 

Today: Well Reds has been getting me out of my room and we’ve been attending concerts for Christmas and Comedy, Lions club meeting and a Hockey game at the PPL center. So when we reviewed our upcoming RRR schedule you know I’m/we’re in for our Christmas Party.

 

12/16 Friday, Day after my Birthday, no joke I’m 69, whoda ever thunk it. Weathers turning quickly one day nice next high winds and cold. Doing that mental checklist thing, do we have everything loaded and prepared, gassed up. Oil ok, you know the drill. We’re set for the Party tomorrow, we’ll have time for some more shopping in the morning and early afternoon. The Party’s set at Hoss’s Steakhouse on Rt61 just north of Reading PA. Depending on weather and traffic about a little more than an hour’s drive from Allentown.

 

12/17 Saturday, Christmas Party Day for the RRR. Plan calls for leaving at approx. 5pm to be comfortable and arrive in plenty of time. My Daughter Robin asked if she and her Boys (3 & 6 years old) could come also. Made some phone calls and she was covered. Told her be ready to leave, stands up, no later than 5pm, we’ll stay in touch

 

Reds and me leave for the big malls up in Whitehall PA. It’s early about 9 am and we’re beating the crowds that were expected this day.

 

BREAK: Now most of my life I’ve been accused as looking for trouble, now that’s just not true ;o), Trouble in all its convoluted forms simply seeks me out and causes havoc.

 

We hit a few stores, had some fun kidding each other over styles or the lack thereof and people watching, they are a hoot. Times a ticking and its afternoon and we’re hungry. We select Red Lobster and slowly cruise through the parking lot aiming for the lobster. We’re laughing and Joking and commenting how smooth it’s been lately. That’s when the ‘Feeling’ hit me. When you know something bad is going to happen to you, you don’t know what it is but it’s going to happen to you and it’s going to be bad. That’s the basic definition of PTSD.

 

Oh crap somethings going to happen, I know it I feel It but what. Regaining my good spirits we drive over Grape St. into the Parking area for The Red Lobster. We get out and start walking to the door, holding hands when she asked me “what’s that big chrome thing on your tire?” What, Where, she repeats “on your tire”. I turn and see nothing, false alarm, “not on this side on the other side”. Walking around Vader (Trucks Name) I see a large bubble protruding from the top edge of the tread. It’s about the size of a golf ball, cut in half, chrome, scratched with some rust on it, solidly attached to my tire. I reach down to grab it and Reds says, ”don’t touch it” I stop ask why, she replies “it may leak”, Yeah it could but if it doesn’t we’re in like flint. So I grab it and pull, do you see the nail welded to the inside, it must be 2 or 3 inches long. Do you hear that whistle, yes folks its leaking bad. So I pick up the Item that caused my day to tumble and shove the nail back into the hole. Kicking it into place. Whistle gone.

 

We go inside and get a booth overlooking a sad site Of Vader with a Chrome boil on his Front Right tire. I start calling local companies I know trying to get a service call. Most say no up front, the bad ones waste your time before saying no. Worst was the one club I am a member of. They diagnosed the problem but when I told them the vehicle doesn’t have a spare I am told they cannot fix the tire, she will dispatch a tow vehicle and have it taken to the nearest service center. Now it’s a little after 3pm.

 

Pay the bill at Red lobster and get in we’ll drive to find someone open and contact a tow truck as a last recourse if we can’t make it.

 

Heading west on Grape St. it comes into view, there on the corner of the Whitehall Mall, Manny, Moe & Jack the PEP Boys and they’re open. Reds elects to stay in Vader where warm and I go in to see if they will help.

 

I find the service manager and explain the situation. He tells me “No problem sir, I have a man available and he’ll get you back on the road ASAP” Good news always makes me feel Good, can’t help it. Young man shows up with a repair order, says he’s Larry and asks for the keys and I go along to get Reds out of Vader. We follow Larry and Vader into the garage bay and he says with full confidence I’ll have this fixed in a jiffy. There’s that good news again, I’m smiling now.

 

About a half hour later Larry emerges from the garage again. I’m assuming all’s well and he’s here to hand me the keys. Oh no not for us, Larry says “sir, may I see you out in the garage?”. So out I go and there’s Vader front tire off, separated, wheel here, lug nuts there. Nothings finished here. Smiles gone. Larry tells me he cannot plug or patch the tire as it would be against the law. My answer was “What in the hell are you talking about, from a jiffy to breaking the law?”, Kind of exploded on him. Seems the damage was below the tread band in the tire putting it into the sidewall and that you cannot plug or patch legally. So what do you need from me? After I settled down and Larry says I need to buy a new tire.

 

I gave Larry the ok and went back to Reds in the unheated designated area. Told her the infraction of law I suggested they do by repairing my tire. She gives me that it’ll be ok look and I simmer down. 20 Minutes later here comes Larry again, asks me if Vader has full time Four Wheel Drive, I say yes with selectable lock outs. Larry mumbles Oh you have another problem, you’ll need to buy another front tire to replace the good one you have left. Why in the world must I purchase another tire, only one was leaking and you couldn’t or wouldn’t fix that so now I have to buy a replacement tire to replace a good one. Larry says “I think you better speak to my boss”. I’d be happy too. Meet the New Service Manager, I ask where’s the guy I spoke with when I arrived, “His shift ended and he probably went home” Oh good grief what have I done to deserve this? With deliberate speed and quite a bit of volume I recounted My experience at their store i.e.: “I came in here as a traveler in need, I had a very small leak in a big tire, I was assured with ASAP, No Problem, On The Road Quickly, and Jiffy. So far you ripped off one tire can’t fix it I have to buy a new one, Now You want to rip off another one to replace a Good one. What kind of scam are you running here?” I’m supposed to be at a party in Reading at 6:30 and should be leaving soon etc.

 

At this point the Manager began to smile, which drove me to say “You think this is funny” he calmly aid No sir not at all, I see you had Larry working on your vehicle. I nodded yes. Well he’s not a certified mechanic, his primary job is to mount and remount tires but not to speak with customers. He then escorted me into the Garage where he reviewed and explained why certain rules and laws had to be followed for our safety and theirs to prevent lawsuits by us and the insurance companies. Reason for replacing a good tire with a new one had to do with tire size. With the type of FWD Vader has tires should always be replaced in pairs, to keep the transmission balanced. He knew his stuff and took action to get us out of there.

 

It became all to obvious we were going to be late, so returning to Reds again I explained what’s happening and we need to save some time. Call Robin and have her meet with us at Pep Boys. I have her take you to get changed and pick up the gifts. I’ll meet and transfer you when I get out of here. Sounds like a plan. When Robin pulled into the parking lot Vader was rolling out of the Garage. How about that an Honest man.

 

We formed up and headed into the heart of Allentown Christmas Saturday traffic. Wow are we nuts, there are so many idiots out here we should be allowed to perform lobotomies on them in drivers school. Once we came near Reds house on 9th St I circled through a private parking lot and had Robin and the boys pull into a parking spot and wait, keep the engine running and doors locked. Reds and I swooped out on 9th and double parked while she ran in to change and gussy up. I tried to find parking and await her hail. It came quickly (dang this girl is fast) so I pulled back down and dbl. parked to load up and presents. Swang around through the private lot again to pick up Robin and the Grandkids and headed west on Rt22.

 

Rt22 merges into Rt78/22 little way down the road I mention this because there were a gaggle of Florida plated cars who obviously didn’t know that when 2 lanes merge into 2 lanes they become 3 lanes not 4 then become 2. Just modern math I guess. Once clear of the Rt100 interchange traffic thinned exponentially and we cruised easily, with Robin on my bumper, all the way to Hoss’s.

 

Arriving at our destination we unloaded ourselves, presents, bottles of ‘Gift’ wines and toys. Hustled in the front door, met by hostesses asking how many, “5 but we know where we’re going” we entered the private room to be greeted by smiles and announcements, I called “Ripley’s Here” and then this is Reds and she’s with me, you know Robin and the boys.

 

What a great feeling to be among friends and comrades at Christmas or at anytime we’re together. Riff Raff Riders AKA AGWA PA chapter R for the uninitiated. We like, help and care for one another. And leave no one behind.

 

The parties in full swing when we got there. Hoss’s put on a good spread as ordered by Myk and Suzy. Steak, Chicken, Fish, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Macaroni and Real Cheesy, Plus Vegies and all the condiments you could want. The Dessert bar, basically all you can eat Soft Ice Cream, toppings galore Plus pies and cakes. Don’t forget the special flavors and makes for those of us fighting diabetes, heart problems and more….

 

Have to throw a shout out to the staff, Mary and her Daughter worked like pros. Keeping everything at the ready and filling and refilling every glass that needed it. I think this has been our 6th year there and the quality has never been better. As a matter of fact Mary has worked our party for every year we’ve been there.

 

I arrived late as by now you know well, so we ate our fill and looked over the Door Prize table and the game table with approx. 60 gifts wrapped in newspaper. Wonder what Lu and Crystal have in mind. Heard our President Lu changed some names, Sushi or something and stared and wondered who past President Karen K. (Tigger) was Hellooo ;o) maybe Russ wasn’t the only one sleeping,

 

Big Game time, Lu is the MC with needed help from Crystal, sounded complicated at first but a Blast and Fun to play;

 

First- MC deals out playing cards to everyone, 4 each and 5 if your lucky.

 

Second- MC calls out a number and suit, if you have it you go to the prize table and take a prize OR take one from someone who drew earlier.

 

Third – When the Prize tables are empty you steal from those who have prizes till all the numbers are used.

 

Forth- Then everyone has to show how many prizes they have the MC calls them up in reverse order, No Prizes 1st, 1prize 2nd, 2prizes 3rd and so on.

 

Everyone gets something, Pretty neat Huh. Way to go Lu & Crystal..

 

Should have heard the shouts Mine, Mine…No you can’t have it… We were acting so well my Grandkids actually thought we were fighting, but laughing so hard my cheeks hurt from smiling.

 

There were a few prizes that caught the attention of more than a few members. One was what looked like a smallish shoebox I stole it from Bryan, kept it for a very short period and someone took it from me, I think I had it 3 or 4 times and lost it to Wendel, Jean, Rose, And my own Grandson. Each time it was stolen the cheers went louder.

 

Party Ended and as usual hugs all around, Stay Safe’s, See Ya Later’s, and See Ya Tomorrow’s abound. It’s hard to leave those friends you know so well after having so much fun.

 

PS> Tomorrow is our monthly meeting for December so we can relive the good parts and discard the rest.

 

See You There,

 

Ripley