Category Archives: True TLB Story

We Went South

20 years ago this week, 2/12/1997, the entire Burriss Tribe, Teddy, Rebecca, Jessie, Rachel, Megan & Lauren hopped in the Honda mini-van and headed south to Advance North Carolina.

The journey began around November of 1996 with a potential move to New Jersey. However before we made the move north we got notice North Carolina would be where my job would finally be based.

The move to North Carolina was chaotic and emotional. We left a new community and new school systems into an older community with older less technological schools.

It took lots of work, patience and prayers to transition the teen age and pre-teen daughters through this change. However, within three months the emotions calmed and happiness began to develop for the entire family.

20 years later the girls (aka Myrtles) have all moved out of the house and into their own homes and developing families.

The family has grow significantly to include 4 men (aka the Stallions), 10 GrandWeWaps (grandkids), three new dogs and a few cats and chickens.

Our network of friends have grown significantly and our community involvement continues to grow in many different ways.

We all loved Maryland and our friends and home in Monrovia.

Today, we all love having moved into North Carolina, our friends and businesses we have built down here.

Thank you North Carolina for welcoming us into this state.

New Years Eve Failure or Not

New Years Eve Failure or Not?

FatherTimeLast night, 12/31/14 Bum & I went to a local bar for a New Year’s Eve Celebration that failed, but was yet a great time.

Our daughter Megan and her husband Marc invited us (Bum & I) to join them at Classics Bar & Grill in Advance NC, right down the road from where I live. Normally we do not go out on New Year’s Eve, but thought this would be fun to do, so we agreed.

We got there at 7pm and there were less than 20 people in the bar. The table area was nearly completely empty.

After ordering a round the waitress  told us that the restaurant was going to close at 8pm. We all laughed at what we thought was a joke, but, Nope, she was serious.

On New Year’s Eve, the only local bar, positioned in a community that is poised to exploded over the next few years and they are closing early on New Year’s Eve.

This seems to be a New Years Eve Failure

While we laughed at what we considered a business failure here is what else happened:

Girl Dancing with Juke boxRepeatedly one lady in the bar kept playing music on the digital juke box. Each time she swiped her card in the credit card slot she appeared to be twerking with the juke box.

Yeah, yeah, I know people dance in front of juke boxes all the time. This was way different.  She appeared to be twerking on the juke box. We were laughing so hard more than one of us snorted at the table. Later we discovered it was one of the bar owners.

beer-towerWhen ordering another round of beer we thought about ordering a beer tower. The price was not too bad and Courtney would put our favorite beer in it. However, since the bar was closing in less than 1 hour she suggested that we not order a beer tower. We agreed. 10 minutes later the table behind us ordered one and had it delivered. We laughed thinking there was no way 4 people could drink 12 beers in less than 30 minutes. We were wrong.

funny-man-at-barAn older guy walked up to our table and wished us a Happy New Year. While talking he said he had two wives and had owned two expensive homes, neither of which he still had or lived in, yet his ex-wives were very happy in “them thar homes.” He said he now lives in a hotel room.

I wished him better success in 2015. He came back later and in the chat I told him Bum and I were still married after 37 years. He was so excited, cajoled us into standing up and hugging him. Later on we saw him dancing with an older woman up near the jukebox. Our barmaid told us it was his mother.

At around 8:30pm, 30 minutes past closing time I wanted another beer. Our barmaid came over to the table to check on us. I told her I wanted another beer, but I would not order one if she wanted us to leave. She looked like she wanted us to leave, but agreed that because she had work to do in the back room I could have another beer. Megan wanted another margarita too.

bang-bang-shrimpWe joked with the barmaid about a local bar wanting to close at 8pm on New Year’s Eve. When I asked her what she was going to do after work she said she was going to go home and cook Bang Bang Shrimp. I asked if we could come over and she said yes. I’m a smart man. Bum was there and I knew the barmaid only wanted a bigger tip. She left laughing to get my beer. She came back with my beer but forgot Megan’s drink.

We finished up laughing and cutting up with the barmaid by about 8:45pm. We were nearly the last people out of the bar. On the way out of the bar we saw the sign on the doors. Handwritten on yellow ledger paper, “Closing at 8pm New Year’s Eve.”

We didn’t get a chance to close down the year in this local bar, but we closed down the local bar on New Year’s Eve.

Normally if we were told to exit a local bar at 8pm on New Year’s Eve we would consider it a New Years Eve Failure. However, everything else that happened that night made it somewhat successful, ie – funny.

Prayers Lifted for NICU Babies

Abigail-RosaleeTrivette

Last weekend (8/23/2014) I spent time in the NICU of Mission Children’s Hospital when our newest GrandWeWap Twins were born that morning.  My second daughter Rachel and her husband Sid Trivette, the proud parents were there with my wife, Rebecca (aka Bum) and two other daughters (Jessie & Lauren).

Abigail & Rosalee had challenges, yet I prayed and believed that God would guide the good folks at the hospital to safely get the girls thru this period in their young lives.

Abigail and Rosalee were nearly 5lb babies and born at approximately 34 weeks (full term births are between 37 & 42 weeks).

While waiting for the nurse and doctors to take care of our girls, I walked the NICU floor and saw many other children that believed needed our prayers.

That weekend there were 48 babies in this NICU. At least nine sets of twins according to one of the nurses working there.

As I walked around I saw lots of babies being taken care of by dozens of doctors and nurses. There were portable x-ray equipment moving around the floor, lots of equipment being monitored and medical supplies, drugs and fluids being distributed. It was a very busy and emotional place to be.

I saw and looked into the faces of lots of anxious parents. I saw excitement, fear and hope all bundled up in the eyes of these parents. I intentionally shared a smile with each glance, and often received a smile back.

I continued quietly walking the floor until I came back to section C where our girls were. I walked up to Abigail and gave her a “Boppy” finger hug. She hugged me back with her tiny little fingers. I walked over to Rosalee, hugged her finger as well and she returned the hug too.

Today (Monday September 1, 2014) I got an email message from some professional friends at The Green Shoe Studios that reminded me that I live a blessed life.

With, 9 Grandkids, four daughters and their respective partners and my wife of 34 some odd years, my life is filled with excitement, happiness and love. We have our challenges, but all in all I live a very blessed life.

When I read the message from Green Shoe Studios and watched the YouTube video I knew I should share it with you.

Watch this video, listen to the story and then think for a moment, do you too live a blessed life? If you feel the desire, do what you want and can to help Aiden and his family. And, take another moment and lift a prayer for NICU babies.

Thanks for letting me share this with you.

Teddy

Holding the flashlight

Holding the flashlightUpdated story

I recently heard a speaker say this, “I hated holding the flashlight for my Dad.”

The speaker continued on with his perspective of this simple little task. He told how as a little boy his Dad always asked him to hold the flashlight while working on various tasks that needed just a little more light.  Fixing a blown fuse, a broken light fixture, switch or something on the old Plymouth. What he remembers the most was when, (not if) the beam of light drifted from the work area, his Dad would snort which alerted this young man to pull the flashlight back into position. He hated doing this.

I remember these days as well.

As a youngster in the mid 1960s & ’70s I held the flashlight and did many other simple tasks for my Dad.

I carried and fetched tools, pulled weeds, dug holes, filled holes, used a sickle, swept the shop floor, wire brushed the spots Dad welded, stuck welding rods in the holder (I was always scared I would get shocked), siphoned gasoline, sanded the wood & metal projects, washed the cars, washed engine parts in gasoline, hauled fuel oil for the furnace, scrapped paint, held pieces of metal and wood as my Dad cut them, welded nailed or glued them together, washed his truck, scrubbed the tires, planted potatoes (eyes up) and pulled electrical wire through conduit. These are just a few of the little tasks that I did with my Dad as a child and young adult. Often as I did these and many other tedious tasks, my Dad stood watching and coaching me on how to do them right.

Back then I was not always happy doing that stuff.

Today, I appreciate that I got to do them for a couple big reasons:

  1. I learned by watching my Dad. I learned to do electrical work, welding, gardening, plumbing, word working and lots more stuff.  I learned a lot.  Today I can do all of these things myself. Not only has this save me lots of money as I raised my own family, I also enjoy doing these things.
  2. I learned patience, attention to detail and doing things right.  Dad was a stickler to doing it right the first time. No cutting corners or doing anything just to get it done. Do it right, or don’t do it is what I learned from my Dad.

When my girls where home I had them hold the flashlight for me. I snorted at them just a little bit when the beam of light fell away from the work area and they pulled the flashlight back into place.  I hope they learned as much from me as I learned from my Dad.

Who is holding your flashlight and are they learning from you?

Happy Fathers Day Dad. I love you and treasure the days of holding the flashlight.

The long arm of the law got me again

NC-Cop-MiniBack in August 2013 I got nailed by the North Carolina State police, again.

This time the mini was cruising along at 70+ mph in a 55 mph portion of Rt 220 North of Greensboro.

I thought about downshifting, slamming the throttle open further and trying to out run the Dodge Charger the cop had, but Bum was with me. All she had to do was give me the eye, and I downshifted and pulled off the side of the road.

The kind officer had a smile and a pleasant voice as he gave me a $30 fine that came with $183 court cost fee for doing 70 mph in a 55mph zone. Crap!

Knowing that admitting to this would crank up my insurance, I vowed to fight this ticket to the very end.

I was going to court.

I got my driving record (downloaded from NC DMV for $12) and waited a few weeks for my court date.

I got up early, worked out, ate a big breakfast and headed off to Wentworth NC in Rockingham county by 7AM. Bum warned me about speeding, so I left the house early.

I arrived at the Rockingham County Court house and you would have thought I was in downtown Atlanta. Big brick building with pillars and what looked like gold lettering on the front of the building.

I knew better than to take my switch-blade and glock into a court house, so I left them in the car with the cell phone. All I had on me was the $213 for the ticket, my driving record, license and car keys.

When I got to the second floor, there were already 50 people waiting in line. While they escorted us all into the court room another 150 people showed up. They seated us as the clerk and judge setup for traffic court.

I got to sit in front of some guy who sounded like the phone call comic Willie Richardson. His voice and the ridiculous stories he was telling about beating up a cop, getting arrested for hitting his old lady and drinking so much beer that he passed out as he blew a .057 on the breathe-alyzer after wrecking his car, reminded me of Willie’s CDs.

One after another we walked up to the judge with our ticket, license and either our driving record or driving school certificate. The people without their driving record or a driving school certificate were immediately told to go away and come back on October 29 with either their driving record or the driving school certificate. After seeing 15-20 people do this,  I gave up trying to figure out why anyone would show up to court without being prepared.

If the infraction was a driving violation, the judge would say, “I can reduce this to Improper Equipment. Is this what you want?”

With no hesitation each violator said, “Yes ma’am.” The judge would check a box on the ticket and say, “You are free to go. Pay the clerk of the court outside the court room.”

The same thing happened with me, “I can reduce your ticket to improper equipment, is this what you want?”

“Yes, ma’am,” was my response as well.

With my eleven $20 bills in my hand, I went to see the Clerk of the Court. “That will be $263 sir,” she said to me.

My reply must have been a normal response, “I thought the ticket was $213.”

Her reply, somewhat agitated in manner was, “Sir the ticket is for $30, court costs are $183 and the charge for reducing the penalty is $50. Are you paying the $263 in cash now?”

My response, not having all the money and not just a little more miffed at this entire process was less than polite, “Wow, I knew this process was screwed up, but now it’s clear to me that the logic of this entire civil penalty activity is quite ill. Where is the nearest ATM ma’am?”

“At the sheriff’s office around the corner sir.”

“Thank you so very much for all your assistance ma’am. I will return.”

And I did. When I got back from the ATM machine I handed her 14 crisp $20 bills. She banged on the keyboard a little, hopefully saving me from the insurance points, put my $20 bills in her cash drawer and handed me back $17 and a receipt.

She sort of shooed me away with, “have a good day sir.”

And off I went.

$30 speeding penalty

$183 Court Costs

$50 penalty reduction fee

$263 total penalty for driving the mini cooper a smidgen too fast in Rockingham County North Carolina and not trying to outrun a Dodge Charger.

I’d say I’ve learned my lesson, but my record shows this is hard for me to do.

My Offices

My Offices

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that my offices are every coffee shop and a few local pubs in the Triad area of NC. Here is a map of many of them.

Here are 10 reasons I like to use local coffee shops as my office:

  1. Good coffee – Always freshly brewed
  2. Ice cold “soda” – one or two a week is not a bad thing
  3. Friendly and good people serving me
  4. Free refills – With the Starbucks Gold Card, I get free refills while I am in the office
  5. Good food in the pubs – a man has to eat, right?
  6. Free WIFI – Maybe it’s not perfect, but generally it works and it’s free.
  7. I am visible – often I get to say hello to customers, prospects and new connections who come to see me.
  8. When I get a chance to say hello, often I am asked what I’m up to. I get to spin this to, “How can I help you?”
  9. They are a more enjoyable place to have business meetings. It’s way more friendly
  10. My laptop has an ad on it – It get’s seen by dozens of people every day
  11. Fresh pastries every morning
  12. I’ve done the math – $2 per day for a cup of coffee = max of $60 per month. No less expensive rent anywhere.

I know these offices may not be the best for everyone, but they sure do work well for me.

Follow me on FourSquare if you want to know when I’m in the office

Thanks @FinnegansWake, @NattyGreene, @Starbucks, @TheGreenBean & Krankies.

Office Logos TheGreenBean

krankies Coffeestarbucks-logo

natty_greenes

I nearly died driving a Forklift

It was January 1997 when I learned about Forklifts, inclines and gravity.

I was preparing to move my family to North Carolina and had to dispose of a bunch of stuff out of the house. One of these items was the old water heater. Rather than haul it to the landfill and pay the disposal fee, I decided to take it to one of the warehouses of the company I worked for, Lofts Seed.

Little red pickup truckI loaded the heater into the back of my little Red Step-side pickup truck and headed off to the warehouse.

It was bulky and heavy, but I was able to get it up and into the back of the truck by myself.

If was a Sunday and no one would be at the warehouse. I called the warehouse manager to get permission to throw the heater in the dumpster. He said no problem.

Warehouse Fork lift

When I got to the warehouse I decided to use one of the forklifts to carry the heater out back to the dumpster.

The dumpster I wanted to put the heater into was outback, next to the forklift ramp that led out of the warehouse.

I headed through the warehouse to the back dock with the heater on top of the forks. As I headed to the ramp I started raising the forks into the air so that they would be above the top edge of the dumpster.

As I headed down the ramp, raising the forks higher and higher into the air, I turned the fork lift to the left towards the dumpster.

Can you see it yet, forks about 12 feet in the air, big heavy forklift moving downward, then sideways on an incline.

I’m not a physicist, but I quickly learned about inertia, gravity, incline, weight, motion and instant FEAR!!!

As the forks reached over the top of the dumpster the forklift began to fall over to the right, down the ramp. Fortunately for me, and my desire to continue living, the forks caught on the edge of the dumpster, with me and the forklift sitting at about a 45° angle to the ground.

I managed to hang onto the steering wheel, hook my feet on the clutch and break pedals so that I did not fall off and possibly under the forklift.

The front drive wheels of the fork lift were off the ground, so I did not have to worry about it moving, yet I still reached down and shut off the engine.

I sat there, hanging onto the steering wheel and roll bars as I pondered what to do next. Wisely (where did that come from), I decided to climb up on top (actually left side) of the fork lift and jump off, up the ramp. I felt there was less danger than climbing off, under and down the ramp.

I stood there for a few minutes pondering what to do next. More wisdom arose in me, so I called the warehouse manager.

“Hey John, this is Teddy. I screwed up. I accidentally flipped one of your forklifts over down the ramp. I don’t think it’s hurt, but there is no way I can get it back up on it’s wheels. What should I do?”

There was no laughter in his voice as he told me to, “Go home. Leave it where alone and we’ll fix it on Monday.”

I apologized for the problem that I created and left.

About a week later I came by his warehouse for a meeting. We sat in his office discussing a project we were working on. The forklift story came up briefly. He told me that his guys had to get a tow truck to pull it backup upright. I offered to pay for the tow truck. He told me he’d get the cost out of me somehow. He did ask me to promise that I would never get on any company forklifts. I promised.

 

 

My Crab Feast going away party

Neutron Products was the first real job.

cinderblocks-pallet
I started working there in 1977 as a laborer. My job was to carry cinderblocks up a 40′ ladder as the brick masons build the chemical plant.

I eventually got involved in the plumbing, electronic programming and production line design & build.

After the plant was built, I ended up being the assistant plant manager. It was a cool job because of the dynamics and diversity.

I have lots of stories from working at Neutron Products including Chocolate Cheese. I worked with a lot of good people. We had a good time while making pretty good money for the late 1970’s & early 1980’s.

I left Neutron Products around 1986 to start my career in computers and technology.

My fellow employees got together and planned a picnic as my going away party.

Roof-slab
Dick Demory, the resident brick mason built a picnic table from a damaged Roof Double-Tee. It was 40′ long and about 8′ wide.

 

I looked at a Google Maps view of Neutron Products. The Table is still there

Neutron-picnic-table

 

crabs
Everyone pitched in so we could buy bushels of steamed crabs, hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, and all of the other stuff needed for a summer picnic, going away party.

 

There was no public drinking of beer at this party. Regardless, we had a blast. Laughing and joking and recalling all the stuff we had done over nearly the past ten years.

  • Playing poker at lunch until it got out of hand and Jack shut us down forever
  • Kozi’s coke machine going berzerk and spewing out all of the soda bottles
  • Learning how to paint from Old man Walt Snyder (no railroad tracks boy!!)
  • Falling in the Cobalt-60 tank and believing I was going to die immediately
  • Nailing myself to a wooden pallet with a nail gun
  • Getting married
  • Learning Computers, Lotus 123 & Dbase I software
  • Buying my first motorcycle
  • Dealing with the belieft that Cobalt-60 radiation was contaminating the town
  • Wrecking my first motorcycle
  • Buying my first new car
  • Wrecking my fourth or fifth car
  • Going drinking with Deore, Stump & Joe.
  • Crashing two tractor-trailers into each other
  • Christmas Parties of the pre-1980’s (PARTY!!)
  • Drinking beer along side the road at 2pm or 3pm each afternoon.
  • The Lottery Winning Failure of 1980.

Times were different back then and so were the way we celebrated them. We all laughed and joked as we recalled these and many other stories of working at Neutron Products.

I’ll never forget the Crab Feast party at Neutron Products. It was the best going away party ever.

My 6 Wedding Dresses

My 6 Wedding Dresses

My 6 wedding dressesHow many other men have bought 6 Wedding Dresses

I bought my first wedding dress in 1978. It is the most beautiful wedding dress I have ever seen. It was far more beautiful because my bride was wearing it during my first wedding. I still have this dress in my closet and periodically I open the case it’s in just to see it.
 
I bought my next wedding dress in 2000. This dress was just as beautiful as my first one. I don’t remember the conversations about this dress, just that we bought it. I shed a small tear or two and was a little choked up standing beside my oldest daughter who wore this dress as she married my first son-in-law. I love this dress as much as I love my first one.
 
Six years later I bought my next wedding dress. This dress took quite some time for us to find. I’ll never forget the text message. A picture of a dress with these words, “I love this one Dad.” I had been waiting for what seemed like forever at a bookstore while the women searched for dresses. As my daughter walked towards me my wife said, “She has to have this one.” As requested, I didn’t.  Later on, as I walked my third oldest daughter, in our wedding dress, down the aisle towards her fiancé, I again choked back a few tears, especially as I pulled up her vale and hugged her before I handed her off to her husband. That was a gorgeous wedding dress.
 
Three years later we again searched for the perfect wedding dress. This search was a little more difficult. I’m not sure why, but we ended up buying two wedding dresses. I was about to ask “Why?”, when fortunately before the words jumped out of my mouth, my wife counseled me, “Don’t ask. Just smile and say OK.” Again, I did as she asked. It made sense during my youngest daughter’s wedding. She was happy, and looked beautiful in our wedding dress. My baby had grown up and I was one proud daddy. If it took two wedding dresses to make her happy, so be it.
 
I bought my last wedding dress in 2012. I expected this purchase to be a tedious task of searching, fittings and more searching. However, after searching Pinterest, online stores and one shopping trip, we found the perfect dress. I was not invited to go on this trip, but I got to see lots of pictures. I remember once or twice being asked my opinion. I’m a very smart man, from my previous wedding dress purchase experiences I knew what to say, “That dress is gorgeous honey. If you like it, I love it.” As I walked with my second oldest daughter, in our wedding dress down the aisle to her soon to be husband, I found it hard to hold back the tear (or two), especially as I handed her off to the new man in her life.
 
I’m not sure how much money I spent on My 6 Wedding Dresses. It’s irrelevant.  My life has been immensely blessed from the changes buying these dresses has created in my life.
 
I got to marry the woman of my dreams and 35 years later she claims to still love me. This is great, because I love her just as much today as I did the day she wore our first wedding dress.
 
I got to be a part of raising 4 beautiful daughters . They were beautiful in our wedding dresses, and even more beautiful women, wives, mothers and people.
 
I’ve collected a stable full of stallions who are now great friends and care takers of both my daughters and 4 or 5 of my wedding dresses.
 
And, today, I’m the proud Grandfather to seven Grandchildren. I’ll drop what I am doing at any time to go help or play with these youngsters.
 
I probably won’t buy any more wedding dresses, but I’m blessed to have bought

My 6 Wedding Dresses.

I first published this as a guest post on Moms on Triad