Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

Sign up and read my novel for free.

All Blog Posts


The Cranky Club

August 24, 2015

 

I recently received a shout-out from one of my favorite bloggers, Cranky at Cranky Old Man. He said some nice things about me, but commented that my recent rant about nectarine pits all but qualified me for status in the Cranky Old Man Club. He asked if I’d reached the point where I was yelling at kids crossing my lawn. I can report it hasn’t come to that—yet. But there was a time when I became crankier than Mr. Wilson pestered by Dennis the Menace.

           

We’d just bought a big old house in downtown Portland, where off-street parking was at a premium. We wouldn’t have purchased this property except that a previous owner had renovated it, creating a driveway and converting the basement into a garage, a luxury for which we paid dearly. Our house was located one block away from Northwest 23rd, a trendy hotspot with shops and restaurants drawing people from miles around.

           

No parking structures were available, and I enjoyed looking out our front window, watching drivers circle around hunting for a place to park so they could enjoy the shops and restaurants while my own car was safely tucked in the garage beneath our house. Then one day I returned from the supermarket to find a car parked across our driveway, blocking the entrance to my garage.

           

I fumed! How could anyone be so inconsiderate as to park across my driveway? What was I supposed to do? The streets were lined with cars leaving me no place to park. I drove around for half an hour looking for a space, finally parking seven blocks away. In spite of the fact that our garage door was painted white and clearly visible, cars continued parking across our driveway. I contacted the city and was told that for a fee, they’d paint “NO PARKING” across our driveway in bright yellow, along with wide lines reaching to the middle of the street, letting drivers know this was not a suitable place to park. I shelled out the money and the city added the letters and stripes.

           

It did nothing.

           

Once a week I’d find yet another car parked across our driveway. Were people blind, or just infuriatingly inconsiderate? What if we had a medical emergency and had to leave home quickly only to find out we were blocked in?

           

One day I’d had enough and called for a tow truck, fully expecting the owner of the car blocking my driveway to arrive before the car was hooked, chained and towed away. The driver arrived just as his car disappeared around the corner. Even though it doesn’t show me in a good light, watching that guy staring at the empty spot where he’d parked his car—a doggie bag from one of the local restaurants clenched in his hand—was strangely satisfying. I added the number of the towing company to my speed dial.

           

Over the next few years I had dozens of cars towed. Sometimes I felt a pang of regret, like a time shortly before Thanksgiving when a young woman arrived loaded down with suitcases to find her car no longer where she’d left it. Still, those yellow DO NOT PARK letters were bold enough to see from space! My reputation grew as the crabby guy staring out the window, finger ever ready on his speed dial. At least the owner of that towing company loved me for all the business I provided.

           

There was no menacing boy outside referring to me as Good ‘Ol Mr. Wilson, but I was on my way to becoming a rank and file member of the Cranky Old Man Club. Had we not moved a few years later to a place where parking wasn’t an issue, I might have become club president, a position now filled by the guy writing that Cranky Old Man blog.  

 

 

Our former residence in downtown Portland showing basement garage.

 

 

 

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin



Comments

33 Comments
I must say crankiness is getting upset over petty annoyances. This is rule breaking and I applaud you for sticking to your guns.
By: Tabor on August 24, 2015
I don't blame you! I would've purchased a large sawhorse with a sign on it about being towed and set it at the end of my driveway as a warning.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on August 24, 2015
Yup! I've noticed that lately your posts have revealed a less than cordial feeling to them. However, this post is certainly worthy of a raging bull. That said, it is your former dwelling.
By: Daniel LaFrance on August 24, 2015
Good for you. Some people just never have any manners or respect for other people's property.
By: Latane on August 24, 2015
There is no excuse for such blatant inconsideration. Not YOU... the bozos who insisted on parking in front of your driveway. Too bad you couldn't have made some citizen's arrests. In my book, this example doesn't qualify for induction into the Cranky Old Man's Club. Anyone would have been provoked to take actions.
By: Susan Swiderski on August 24, 2015
Good for you! That's not being cranky - they were ignoring your obvious no parking sign. We used to live at a 3 way stop and our house was right at that intersection. We would see all the neighbors going to work and coming home blowing through the stop signs; not even a California stop. So on a nice day our daughter and I would sit in our lawn chairs and like Olympic judges would hold up 9.0 or -1.0 depending on whether they stopped or not. Eventually we made a deal with our local motorcycle cop. He could park in our driveway and ticket all the folks. Some neighbors thought that was beyond rude- others admitted it was a good idea as we had so many little kids playing outside. Even so it really did not make a big difference. Cheers and have a great day!
By: Kathe W. on August 24, 2015
You did good, Stephen. I'll bet no one who got his car towed ever parked there again.
By: Catalyst on August 24, 2015
I would have called a tow truck for the FIRST car parked there!!
By: fishducky on August 24, 2015
I don't call that cranky, that is just taking care of your family. It would have been fun seeing all the stunned looks and you did make the tow companies year.
By: Akansas Patti on August 24, 2015
First, I love that house! And parking being such a premium and you being blocked out ...or in! I don't blame you for being furious. I wonder if you could have used cones to block the driveway. Whatever, they deserved the tow, from the picture it was pretty obvious. Especially because in the city, when you see an empty space, the first thought before taking it is always, "Why hasn't this space been taken?"
By: cranky on August 24, 2015
I'm with you on this one. Blocking someone's driveway is just rude. If you had not marked it, that would have been a little different but when they know they shouldn't park there and do so anyhow, they should expect to be towed from time to time.
By: Rick Watson on August 24, 2015
Being a person across the street from a large playground that was once used for football practice and games, and having our entire street blocked regularly by all the parents who could not, of course, be expected to walk more than five feet, i agree with what you did and applaud you!
By: messymimi on August 24, 2015
Cranky is as cranky does... This is not cranky. I consider cranky as "irritation for no reason." You had valid reasons: 1) You needed a place to park. 2) You PAID for a place to park. 3) You had it posted "no parking" and 4) you're gonna have a heart attack if they kept parking in front of your house, in spite of it all. It's official: I say NOT CRANKY. :-)
By: Cherdo on August 24, 2015
BRAVO!
By: Val on August 24, 2015
I can sympathize with you being cranky. Many people get cranky if somebody parks in front of their house when it's a legal parking place. dDn't feel guilty.
By: red on August 24, 2015
I agree...this is not cranky. This is someone sitting on your property. I would compare it to someone walking into you house and plopping himself on the couch. Wouldn't you call the cops then, especially if you wanted to leave your house?
By: Pixel Peeper on August 24, 2015
You did the right thing. You may have been "cranky" but those who parked in front of your drive were either stupid or arrogant and inconsiderate or all of the above.
By: Tom Cochrun on August 24, 2015
Cranky old man club? Not you. You are one of the most considerate men I have ever known. It's interesting that someone could think that courtesy and a response to a lack there of could warrant being called cranky. I can't say that I'm surprised if it comes from the entitlement generation.
By: Michael Offutt on August 24, 2015
I had the same problem! You can see clearly it is our driveway. I would leave notes and finally I called the cops who fined the owners. It still did nothing. I then met my present hubby who is my private pitbull. People know now not to cross him and it has never happened since. I find people inconsiderate with a sense of entitlement when they do something so blatant. Knowing my hubby, he would have sat out there and told anyone who dared to keep moving or else. I would be smiling ear to ear watching their cars get towed.
By: Birgit on August 24, 2015
It's a good thing you moved. You really had no choice but to have the cars towed, yet I understand the pangs of guilt.
By: Robyn Engel on August 24, 2015
It sounds terrible frustrating, good for you!
By: John on August 25, 2015
Justified crankiness, in my opinion!
By: Sage on August 25, 2015
I would have done the same thing!!
By: The Bug on August 25, 2015
I don't blame you a bit. My only question: Why did you wait so long to get the towing company involved? (Yeah, I guess I'm now Cranky Old Man III. ;)
By: Scott Park on August 25, 2015
Hi, I'm new to your blog and loving it so far. Lately I've been telling my husband (he's quite a few years older than I am) that his age has turned him into a cranky, ornery man - the kind that will one day frighten neighborhood children. I must say, you held off and were far more patient with your parking situation than my husband would have been. It's probably a good idea that you moved. You would be living with guilt (the poor old woman with the luggage and packages), remember her, that was my grandmother and she'd just recovered from a hip replacement. LOL. I felt a tinge of guilt for that particular tow, just reading about it. Sooner or later, the guilt would've eaten you up or some thug would've vandalized your property. Good move, pun intended. So, for my first visit here, I don't find you to be a cranky old man. You haven't started taking your anger out on children, pets and the elderly. Have you? I enjoyed visiting your blog and will be back. I'm eager to read your book. Take care, Melissa http://melissasugarwrites.com
By: Melissa Sugar on August 25, 2015
Good for you! I turned into a Cranky Old Man years ago, and I do yell at kids running across my lawn, and dogs. :D
By: LL Cool Joe on August 26, 2015
At 56 years old, I'm often worried that I might mutate into a miserable, mean-spirited old man - rather like some neighbours we had who would moan incessantly about the 'noisy' kids playing in our street. But parking over someone's driveway must qualify as one of the most potent irritants known to man. Personally, I've no sympathy at all for your victims.
By: Bryan Jones on August 27, 2015
i was in the lift the other day at work, listening to a girl on the radio being interviewed. When i found myself tutting at her constant use of the word "like" i knew i was officially old
By: don\'t feed the pixies on August 27, 2015
I think it's hilarious and I'm totally on your side. I lived in NYC with a car for years and was never towed. Why? Because I could read signs! (And we had alternate day opposite side of the street parking. That was a joy, let me tell you.) I'm firmly in the Cranky Club. I'm practicing the "Get off my lawn!!" yell.
By: Lexa Cain on August 27, 2015
I can hear Clint Eastwood as "Dirty Harry" saying through clenched teeth: "Stephen had no choice. A man's gotta know his limitations."
By: Michael Manning on August 30, 2015
I think I would have done exactly the same thing as you. People are just ignorant and/or inconsiderate. Of that I am positive!
By: Bouncin Barb on September 7, 2015
Finding an accessible and reliable towing company is not an easy task to do, especially when you are entirely stuck in an entrapping situation. Blocked Driveway Towing in Bayside
By: Noel Asmar on September 5, 2017
http://towingqueens.com/areas-we-serve/blocked-driveway-towing-in-bayside/
By: Noel Asmar on September 5, 2017

Leave a Comment

Name:
Email:
Comment:

Return to All Blog Posts Main Page


RSS 2.0   Atom