Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

One Hundred Kinds of Coffee and a Rusty Old Screw…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Conspiracy Theories,Love and Romance,Philosophy — Bob at 8:47 pm on Sunday, July 29, 2012

© July 30, 2012

Everything’s connected.

A few days ago I was late to work, or the illusion of work at my unfrequented collectible store, and as I pulled out of my driveway, I  noticed my wife Joyce’s old Kia had a left rear tire pretty close to flat. Not a good thing.

So, on the way to my store I stopped at a nearby gas station where I knew the guy there well enough to ask for his help repairing her tire without immediate payment, because neither one of us knew what was the problem, yet.  He agreed, no problem, and I shot off to my retail Tomb.

I called Joy on the way and told her it was okay for her to drive there—right now!—get her tire repaired and not to worry about  paying for it. We don’t use credit cards and pay cash for whatever we need or must buy. Tough times in the Heartland.

I told her to drive slowly as possible and to be very careful making the few turns so the tire didn’t come off the steel rim, as it seem to be about to do. She agreed and left immediately to deal with it. Joyce is quite deferential to me on inconsequential matters.  Anything involving tools has never been her concern and is therefore suitable for men only, because we are, as all women know, barely one step above beasts.

After I opened my store, she called, told me what was wrong (a rusty screw in the tire) and that it cost $20 to fix. I called the station and assured the clerk there that I’d pay for the tire repair on the way home and he said he wasn’t concerned.

And that was that.


The next day, Sunday, after I uncramped my way out of bed crawling with difficulty past Jasmine the sleeping dog who is a union dog and doesn’t work—or move—on weekends, I did my morning stuff to become functional. If I quit taking my too many pills twice a day, Walgreen’s is finished.

I asked Joyce to help me fill out a multi-page government form because Joyce was the perfect employee for decades until freed from all that by the onset of MS, and was an expert on translating the complexities of government forms. Not just a little proud of her skills in that area, either. There was, after all, a certain way to do everything if one carefully followed all the instructions and wasn’t a dolt.

My plan was to have her fill out the form in her excellent handwriting, then ask her to make me one of her really great and tasty fried egg pancakes and then make my way back to the Tomb to meditate in the dusty silence. It was a good plan. What could derail it?

Well, the thing is, my being an independent self-employed person for nearly half a century has made me evolve into someone who has learned there are in fact a variety of ways to tackle a problem, depending on my energy, resources, contacts or ingenuity. I didn’t see all situations set in stone. I have always felt there were choices a man could make.

Joyce didn’t see things that way.

Who did I think I was, anyway, to challenge her expertise? There was one way, ONLY one way, HER way and period. After a few more not carefully selected words, she yelled at me, told me I was stupid,  REALLY stupid and to get the hell out and have someone else cook for me. She didn’t actually use the word “stupid” but I want to be careful because our grandchildren might read this story some day, and Grandma would never use certain words when speaking to Grandpa.

This is why, as all men know, it is impossible to have a relationship with a woman.

They are born hardwired with the assumption of intellectual superiority, their mothers, aunts and older sisters reinforce this and then when they, with regret, condescend to include a man in their lives  either to perpetuate the species or to carry things for them, the man swiftly confirms this.

This is a world-wide secret because if men knew what women really thought of them, they might refuse to take out the garbage.

This secret oath was forged between women by firelight in the caves of the Neanderthals as the brutes slept with their clubs, and has slowly spread throughout the world for thousands of years.   When women discover I’ve exposed this international pact, I will be hunted, relentlessly, to retract or be …well, I don’t know what.

I fled the house to escape words sharper than arrows and drove east to my alternate place for food when circumstances merited that. Sunset Foods.

A word about Sunset Foods.

There are several of them now in elite areas along Chicago’s North Shore. Over the decades a range of different competitors have attempted to invade their territory and steal their customers. Sunset Foods appears to be modest in size and gentle in operation when I shop there. They are welcoming in tone and deed, and the prices are about the same as everywhere, more or less.

Except. You don’t need to show them a special card to get a better deal of some sort. They empty your cart for you. If there is a line of more than three shoppers, they instantly open another cash register, apologizing for the sixty-second delay in doing so. The ratio of employees, especially management on the floor, appears to me to be one-to-one.  However do they make a profit?

They offer cooking classes. They bake almost everything daily in-house. Their fruits and vegetables are crisp and fresh and they offer free coffee. Very good free coffee, sweetly given away in little white cups. One mustn’t be a pig. They are the best run grocery store I have ever experienced and they are competition-proof.

More: To my astonishment, after I decided to count them one day, they have one hundred kinds of coffee. And one hundred kinds of mustard. Ridiculous! Absurd! But if a person already knew that about them and needed a can of chicken soup, or maybe a croissant, that person is likely to be sure they’ll find it there when they want something ordinary like that.

I don’t like mustard, but I do go there for the coffee.

On the day I fled the scene of verbal battle, I also bought my standard two sizzling legs of fried chicken which by now pretty much every employee working behind the long counter there knows about, because it is not something their average customer buys for breakfast.  They see me, smile and say: ”Two legs?”

Free coffee, the delicious fried chicken costs less than two bucks, and I can eat it in my car with the windows open. A car picnic.

I got myself a cup of coffee, bought the two legs of chicken went back to my car to eat and drink both, then spilled the coffee all over the dashboard, cleaned it up, ate the goddamned lonely two legs of chicken and decided ‘the hell with it’ and went back to get myself another cup of coffee.

On the way back to my coffee-stained car, I went out a different exit than I always take, muttering to myself and saw something on the ground. Barely visible, especially if a person had their arms filled with bags of groceries. I bent down to look at it, managing to not spill the hot coffee…again. It was a large, sharp rusty screw sitting on the black asphalt exit lane like a predator in waiting.

Aside from its lethal effect on a car’s tire, it was sort of pretty in a, say, windswept piece of weathered driftwood resting on a beach…kind of way. I picked it up to look at it more closely and was surprised by the weight of it, the solidness of its threat. Impressive.

Holding my keys and the rusty screw in one hand, the hot coffee in the  other, I got back into my car—successfully, this time—and dropped the screw into a little nook on my dashboard, maybe to remind me.

To remind me that despite all the twists and turns of every day, including impossible relationships, an argument which relentlessly leads to the discovery of a dangerous screw on the driveway of a popular grocery store only reinforces what simply must be true:

Everything’s connected.


Publishing News! 

Bob Katzman’s two new true Chicago books are now for sale, from him!
Vol. One: A Savage Heart  and Vol. Two: Fighting Words

Gritty, violent, friendship, classic American entrepreneurship love, death, heartbreak and the real dirt about surviving in a completely corrupt major city under the Chicago Machine. More history and about one man’s life than a person may imagine.

Please visit my new website: https://www.dontgoquietlypress.com
If a person doesn’t want to use PayPaI, I also have a PO Box & I ship anywhere in America.

Send me a money order with your return and contact info.
I will get your books to you within ten days.
Here’s complete information on how to buy my books:

Vol 1: A Savage Heart and Vol. 2: Fighting Words
My books weigh almost 2 pounds each, with about 525 pages each and there are a total together of 79 stories and story/poems.

Robert M. Katzman
Don’t Go Quietly Press
PO Box 44287
Racine, Wis. 53404-9998                                                                                                                    (262)752-3333, 8AM–7PM

Books cost $24.95 each, plus shipping

For: (1)$3.95; (2)$5.95; (3)$7.95; (4)$8.95 (5)$9.95;(6) $10.95

(7) $11.95; (8) $12.95; (9)$13.95 (10)$15.95 (15)$19.95

I am also for hire if anyone wants me to read my work and answer questions in the Chicago/Milwaukee area. Schools should call me for quantity discounts for 30 or more books. Also: businesses, bookstores, private organizations or churches and so on.

My Fighting Words Publishing Co. four original books, published between 2004 and 2007 are now out-of-print. I still have some left and will periodically offer them for sale on my new website.

 Twitter handle: bob_katzman                                                                                               


Comment by bruce matteson

July 30, 2012 @ 12:25 am

Yeah for sure bobby k, and it’s held together by an fed international pact of rusty old screws!!!!!

Comment by brad dechter

July 30, 2012 @ 6:02 am

After your wife and any other women read this, I can only say I think your reputation as a women’s libber and somewhat open minded guy will be screwed. That screw was a warning from above…..

Comment by robert m katzman

July 30, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

But Brad…its a true story and that’s the point, besides being kinda funny, I hope. Later in the day, my wife read what I wrote and laughed, so there’s that. I use what real life offers and fashion stories from truth, when a situation presents itself to me. That’s the art of it, and the charm. For the record, women bought more than half of the 5,000+ books sold to date.

Comment by Karl Gude

July 31, 2012 @ 9:15 am

It was really fun, and I think women know you speak the truth! You described my marriage perfectly! Nice article.

Comment by Don Larson

August 1, 2012 @ 6:17 pm

Well, I hope you get to one day speak at a NOW Convention to present that story. 🙂


Comment by Alli Books

August 2, 2012 @ 6:48 am

Thank you for picking up the screw and not ignoring it and leaving it as someone else’s problem.

Comment by Bob

August 2, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

This is the essence of what I write about. We are responsible for each other. The way a person treats a stranger matters. Concern for another’s self-respect when they have little to be proud of. What friendship actually means.

I appreciate you reading my “Coffee” story, not fictionalized in any way,and I welcome you to explore the many other stories and poems on my site.

It is the only way I advertise myself as a writer and a poet. My own printed words have to speak for me, since there’s no one else to do that.

Best wishes,

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