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Archive for March, 2009

Thrift Store Profiles

I don’t blog about it too much because it’s a tad odd and I’m trying not to scare off readers, but I have been selling rare books online for 10 years.  It is a bit like a treasure hunt and allows me to run into the most bizarre people–some of them rather frightening–others surprisingly engaging.

I hunt a great deal at a variety of thrift stores in my town, and, in doing so, have become a tangential part of the “thrift store underground.”  I’m known as “that book girl” or “that book lady” depending on the age of the commenter.

I’ve gotten quite tight with a heavy-lidded weight-lifting woman whose eye makeup rivals Ann Coulter’s, and who used to own her own carpet cleaning business that was “stolen” by an ex-husband who set her up to be busted on a coke charge.  Tanya won’t let me walk to my car alone if “Crazy Elise,” who is 65 at least but dresses like she’s still following Jerry with purple hair streaks and exaggeratingly stenciled eyebrows (Joan Crawford), is milling about the parking lot, hitting up people for rides or handouts.

I’ve prayed with John, a 60-something quadriplegic whose world is relegated to the sidewalks that border his section 8 housing.  His story involves incredible faith, a failed business and an attempt at finding some way to make ends meet on his meager disability check.

Collins is a 50-something thrift store worker–a funny, leprechaunesque Irish fellow who can barely read but will save books back for me with childlike enthusiasm in the hopes that they are great treasures.

Larry is a rangy ex-Vietnam vet who rarely finishes a sentence without mentioning faith or the Holy Spirit; he manages one of the thrift stores and sells old war memorabilia at local flea markets.

Barbara is 45 but looks 55; her fiance was killed by a tractor trailer that crushed him while he was fixing his delivery truck.  She had become a mother to his son, aged 8, who was thrown out of the house by his own mother, an admitted meth addict.  The dear mother went back to court recently to fight Barbara for custody but, in an unprecedented move,  the judge gave the child to Barbara permanently.  She has made sure he attended school and completed his homework, and for the first time ever, he is on the honor role.  Barbara’s faith is contagious and she has brought her new son to know Christ as well.  She is a “tee-totaler” but will partake of a “hot toddy” when she feels a cold coming on.

Debbie’s daughter has five children and a bad meth habit.  I met the daughter briefly once when she came to hit up Debbie for money–four children crammed into the back seat of an old Buick with no car seats.  Debbie wanted to retire but needs to work in an attempt to clothe and feed her grandchildren; she recently gained custody of one boy who is seven and failing kindergarten for the second time.  She and I discuss ADHD, homeschooling, reading intervention ideas and speech therapy.  Debbie drinks gallons of Mountain Dew to get through the day, always looks tired and is developing acute osteoporosis.

These people talk to me, share their stories, pour out their woes.  They have allowed me a glimpse into a part of society I would probably never have known much about.  Yet what is more fascinating is how they have accepted me into their culture.  Me with my minivan, my now-bobbed hair, my unfake purse

Now, lest you think it’s all inspiring stories and insight, last week a creepified 60-year-old man with a handlebar moustache began following me around the thrift store I’ve named “Crazy Cecil’s.”  His penetratingly evil eyes with no discernible pupils told me to beware.  He fixed on me and began a deluge of questions on faith and Christianity.  He berated Christians, asserting that his own mother loved him to no end and thought Christianity was “bunk” and if she had thought there was something to it, she would have told him.  I suggested he read the Bible and see for himself, at which point he began regaling on UFOs, his own abduction escapades, and the extraterrestrials’ plans to abduct people like me.

I headed out of that place.  My life is complicated enough at the moment.

Posted on 6 March '09 by , under Faith is the Evidence, Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 11 Comments.

Wordless Wednesday: Snow Thrills


Posted on 4 March '09 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 8 Comments.

Typical Grocery Store Conversation

Edward to woman in Publix sporting a Scooby Doo shirt:  “I like your shirt.”

“Yes, I love Scooby Doo and so do my grandchildren,” the sweet woman countered, smiling at the curly-headed child sporting a soccer t-shirt, shorts and snow boots.

“Well, do you love Barak Obama?” he challenged.

“Well now you’re changing the topic, young man.  Yes, I like Barak.  I like him a lot!” she asserts, smiling and looking around the crowded store for support.

“So are you a Socialist?”

“Well…no…I mean…No…” she stammers, looking hopefully at H who is busy loading groceries onto the conveyer belt, conveniently ignoring where this conversation is going.

“Do you know the Iranians are building a nuclear weapon?” Edward quizzes. “There are two ways to attack them.  One is to use radar.  The other is to use bullets.”

“Well, what about talking?  I would prefer talking,” the seemingly reasonable woman suggests.

“Are you crazy?  Don’t you know Ahmadinejad?  Don’t you know he loves evil?  Just what do you think you can talk to him about?” Edward challenges.

(It seems Annette Bening hasn’t gotten very far…)

“My, you sure seem to know a lot,” the poor woman murmurs, squirming as she enters her pin number on the console.

To his credit, Edward finally senses the controversial nature of this conversation.  He counters with something appropriate for a first grader to discuss with a grandmother-type at a deep South grocery store:

“So, have you seen Star Wars: The Clone Wars?”

Posted on 2 March '09 by , under Autism Spectrum/Sensory Processing. 22 Comments.