Sunday, October 15, 2017

PEDRINO'S MARKET: THREE BOSSES




    Betty the Bitch – 1975

I’ve known Betty the Bitch since first grade, when my family moved to the neighborhood. She is the cashier at the corner store where my friends and I exchanged our pop bottles for ice cold bottles of Dr. Pepper, Squirt and Pineapple Crush and handwritten notes with two quarters for packs of cigarettes to bring home to our parents.
We call her Betty the Bitch because she wears a permanent scowl on her face. Betty chain smokes Virginia Slims, wears too much bright red lipstick, and most impressive of all, she has the largest ass any of us have ever seen. Proportionally speaking. The rest of her is normal size. You can’t help noticing the thing. I mean to tell you that ass is everywhere. It’s ubiquitous, man. She wears stretchy capri pants that betray the crater-filled moonscape that is Betty the Bitch’s never-ending, forever ass.
Now that I’m fifteen and a half, my grandfather has arranged employment for me at the corner store where I will to be paid a whopping $1.65 an hour. When I report for work the first day dressed in a blue Hang Ten shirt and yellow corduroys, Betty the Bitch looks me up and down, scowls and tells me I look like a ninny. After a minute period of careful rumination, I decide not to tell her that she has the largest ass I’ve ever seen.

    Bill Pedrino – 1976

Bill Pedrino owns the corner store. The boss-man is about forty and he has good hair. I guess you could say he has an Elvis thing going.  Sporting Clark Kent glasses, he wears white t-shirts, pressed Levis, and shiny black steel-toed work boots. While he has a powerful physique, he can’t be any taller than five-five.
Some crook wandered into the store last week, shoved a gun in Bill’s face, and robbed him of the eighty-six dollars in the cash register. Three days later, the boss was robbed again. This time Bill Pedrino chased the hold-up man out into the parking lot.  He blasted away at the crook with his shotgun as he sped off in his getaway car. The next day my friends and I marveled at the smattering of shotgun pellets embedded in a telephone pole.
I am working the evening shift at the register when Bill walks in the door carrying his shotgun, a box of shells, a power saw, and an extension cord.
“Okay Billy. Listen real close, now. Anybody pulls a gun on you, you know – tries to rob my place, you drop to the floorboards because I’m gonna blast ‘em – from a hole in the wall, right over there,” he says pointing at the wall, just a few feet away. “Nobody robs my place. Not anymore.”
Bill Pedrino lights up a Camel nonfilter and disappears into the back room. I hear him crank up the power saw and cut out a six-inch by six-inch square opening in the drywall about eight feet to the left of the cash register. The smell of sawdust becomes downright oppressive. I hear the shot gun click open. There is the sound of Bill fumbling for shells. I hear the boss carefully slide one into each barrel and then click the shotgun shut. Bill Pedrino’s bespectacled eyes peer out maniacally from the opening as I run the cash register on knocking knees, much more terrified of the boss’s shot gun than the prospective holdup men.

    Sue Kim 1977

Not long after Bill Pedrino started using me as bait for his target shooting endeavors, I quit my job at the corner store, focusing on basketball, school, and more than anything else, trying to figure out the complicated workings of the opposite sex.  Basketball season has ended I find myself in need of walking around money. The corner store has changed hands. The new owner, Sue Kim, recently arrived from Korea, has agreed to pay me $1.75 an hour to come back on board.
It’s my first day back and I stand with Sue the Korean Lady on the wooden pallets behind the counter.
   “Anybody try to rob Sue Kim’s place,” she says with a maniacal look in her eye. Sue Kim’s maniacal look is considerably more maniacal than the maniacal look on Bill Pedrino’s mug when he peered out from the hole in the wall. She fumbles recklessly beneath the cash register and pulls out a polished black snub-nosed pistol and waves it around without regard for anything remotely resembling firearms safety, “You kill him! YOU KILL HIM!”

    Sue Kim is scarier than Bill Pedrino and clearly meaner than Betty the Bitch.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

BOSSES: THE FIRST 20 YEARS


JIM THE PAPERBOY BOSS - 1971 

by William Snyder
© 2017
Ten screaming paperboys sit with me crammed into Jim Davis’ station wagon. CCR’s “Proud Mary” blasts from the car radio. It’s Friday night and we’re headed for Ascot Racetrack. I don’t know any of these screaming paperboys and they’re cliqued up. It’s uncomfortable, but there seems to be a lot of that when you’re eleven. Jim the paperboy manager rolls up to a red light and shouts, “Chinese fire drill!”

Everyone pours out of the wagon but me.

“Get out of the car, kid!” Jim says.

I slide out. Noticing the others are circling the wagon. I follow a few feet behind the last kid. He jumps in, slams the door, and the wagon peels out, leaving me standing there choking on exhaust and burned rubber. The rumbling of stock cars in the distance rattles my teeth.  A horn blast from a Yellow Cab startles me into action. Making my way to the sidewalk, I kick a light pole with my Chuck Taylors and assess the situation. There is nothing to do but walk the remaining four blocks to Ascot Race Track.

Jim Davis the paperboy manager has set the bar very low for future my bosses of the future.  

Saturday, August 19, 2017

From THE EIGHT-FINGERED CRIMINAL'S SON: HOOPS

by William Snyder
© 2013




It was 1977. I was executing layup drills with the Hawthorne Cougars varsity basketball team at the El Camino Community College gym. Lay-up drills were cool. It felt good to catch the leather ball, take two strong dribbles, leap hard from the smooth hardwood floor, bringing my hand up over the rim and drop the ball into the basket. I couldn’t slam dunk, but I could get up and over that rim. Only Francis Bernard Rodriguez and the three Agee brothers could dunk the ball for our team.

Warming up on the other side of the court were the Morningside High School Monarchs. Everybody knew it was a sign of weakness to watch the opposing team warm up, so I tried not to look as each of the Morningside play- ers demonstrated the ability to dunk the ball with explosive ferocity.

Byron Scott was over there warming up with the Monarchs. I’m talking about the same Byron Scott who coaches in the NBA, the same Byron Scott who starred for the Showtime Lakers, and the same Byron Scott who starred for the finest basketball team Arizona State ever put on the floor. And I am here to tell you that I guarded Byron Scott on that hot summer night.

Before the game, Coach Stucker took me aside and said, “Billy, I want you to stick Scott tonight.”

“But I’m a forward and he’s a guard.”

“I know what I’m doing. You just stick to that kid like a cheap suit and stay stuck. I want you to be able to tell me what kind of gum he chews. He goes in the paint, you go in the paint. He goes outside, you go outside. He goes to the can, you go to the can. You got it?”

“Sure coach.”

And I did stick to Byron Scott that night. It was me, the kid who was destined to become a beaten down school teacher; I stuck with Byron Scott, the kid who was destined to become a basketball superstar. On that night, our vastly differing fates did not matter. We were just a couple of finely tuned athletes gutting it out on the hardwood, hombre against hombre. And on that hot summer night, I did hold Byron Scott. I held him to seventy-seven points. And this was before the three point rule had been instituted. Byron Scott broke the El Camino Summer League scoring record with me guarding him. I honestly believe his seventy-seven- point performance gave his confidence a jolt. One can only wonder if he would have developed the self-assurance to go on to accomplish college and NBA greatness if it hadn’t been for my defensive effort on that hot summer night. 


The Eight-Fingered Criminal's Son is available on amazon.com for a measly  5 bucks.
amazon.com

Saturday, August 12, 2017

From HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES?



"IT'S ALL IN THE HIPS, BOYS"
by William Snyder
© 2012 William Snyder

What did the governor of California say when he wanted to become a composer? 

I’ll be Bach. 

I’m sure I’m not the first person to come up with that bad pun. Makes you wonder. How many people did come up with the “I’ll be Bach” bit? At least five. I’ll bet no more than 5,000.


The point is I came up with the bad pun for Patel the orchestra guy. Coming up with bad puns is the kind of thing I do when I’m assigned to guard the restroom at a high school homecoming dance.


That’s right, Saturday night Patel the orchestra guy and I guarded the restrooms for the homecoming dance. The dance was quite an extravaganza. Search lights shot upward to the heavens from outside the entrance to the school gym while upwards of 600 teenagers danced the night away on the basketball court. It was a good night. I might add that the kids handled themselves in a manner far superior to your average group of 600 adults.


You might ask “How do you guard a restroom?” Our job was to make sure the boys and girls made it into the correct commodes.
Toward the end of the night a cop walked by. When I asked him how he was doing, he said, “Better than you. At least I’m not guarding a bathroom.”


Guys like this clown give cops a bad name.
As the night wore on, I began to search for ways to make things interesting. The orchestra guy and I got to know each other. Patel plays a ten thousand dollar cello, he’s carpeting his house next week, his brother is a struggling actor in Hollywood and his favorite color is periwinkle.


A half-dozen or so crying girls made their way to the restroom. I made it a point to tell them they didn’t have it so bad, that back in the day, my girlfriend ditched me at the prom for the mayor’s son in a silver corvette. If they were consoled by my little anecdote, they did a good job of concealing it.


I began giving the young men tips on dancing.


“Remember boys, it’s all in the hips, boys. Be sure to move the hips.” I told them.


I’ll bet some of them took my advice and improved their dancing on the spot. It is true, you know. Most guys don’t understand the importance of moving the hips. Even if it is true, I’m guessing some of the guys walked away saying to their dates, “That Snyder is a creepy old guy. He was talkin’ to me about movin my hips."


All I can say is I’m just a guy trying to do a job.


* The "I'll be Bach" bit made more sense when the governor of California had an Austrian accent.
* How Do You Like Them Apples? is available in Amazon.com for a measly 5 bucks.

AMAZON.COM: THEM APPLES