Monday, January 25, 2010


When I discovered that I had a serious alcohol problem I realized that some of the road blocks to recovery were my party hearty friends whom I loved but didn't need to be around if I were to stay dry. I had been toying with the idea of leaving the West Palm Beach area in search of a new "dry" life. Having been raised almost like an Army brat, I had no fear of pulling up roots and moving somewhere new. In fact, I found it a bit exciting.

One day as I was taking a short cut through the meter reader room on the way to my collector dungeon, my former boss, Bill, stuck his head out of his office and said, "Who wants to transfer to the Okeechobee office?"

"Pick me, pick me." I shouted with up raised arms.

The outburst startled me as well as those around me. At that time I am not sure I could have found Okeechobee on a Florida map with out studying it. All I knew about the town was that it was tiny, red necked, and somewhere on a big lake. It was about 100 miles away which made it near enough to keep my family close but far enough that my friends couldn't tempt me. I wasn't involved with anyone at that time so I thought Okeechobee would be a good place to go to remain "dry" and start over. I would really miss my friends but felt this was best.

Bill told me that it was for a meter reading job which was a step backwards for me career wise. However, I hated collecting which involved cutting peoples power off when they could not pay. I was way too soft hearted for that job. This seemed like the perfect answer. Also land prices were much cheaper when you got away from the beach areas and perhaps I could buy some acreage for my horse, pony and dogs.

The supervisor from the Okeechobee office came to interview me . I was impressed with my future boss and thought he was rather cute. I liked how he described the town as still having a hundred head of cattle within the city limits. Most of the routes would be driving routes as the area was so rural. The lack of long walking routes appealed to my late thirty bones.

At my going away party in West Palm, Bill told me just who I would be working with as he had been loaned out to Okeechobee the previous year during hurricane recovery.

"Your boss is a divorced ladies man, there is one collector and two customer service persons. One of the CS girls is Margaret who doesn't wear shoes and you will work with Precious in the meter reading department," Bill told me with obvious glee. He let my mind fill in the blanks.

Well Margaret did wear shoes, most of the time, and was to become a long time friend. She is a perfectly lovely person and I quickly adopted her and her delightful boys. Shoes never were a big thing with me. "Precious" however was not what I expected.

My new boss introduced me to a lanky, nice looking young fellow named Ray and said Ray would be training me on the routes for about a month. I looked puzzled and said ,"I thought I would be working with Precious."

Everyone laughed except Ray who just reddened and hung his head. "You are looking at him." he muttered.

It seems that in this small office, everyone was required to do several jobs. Sometimes Ray had to work the counter. He was such a nice, fun, self deprecating fellow that everyone immediately liked, in particular one very large black woman who would burst through the door once a month to pay her bill and bellow, "Where is my Precious?" as she looked for Ray. The name had stuck but was reserved for when we wanted to tease Ray a bit.

Precious was a native Floridian who had been raised on a ranch. He was a true cowboy, who enjoyed working from a horse but was ambitious and wanted a future. Being a cowboy didn't offer much except a prematurely worn out body with zero benefits. His father owned a ranch but he had seen his father struggle for ranching is like farming, unpredictable and ulcer causing. It took a special breed to cowboy and Precious preferred parties, girls, and a fat wallet.

Precious was delightful to work with as he showed me the miles of area we had to cover. Our territory went into 5 counties and we spent a good portion of our time thumping across cow pastures, an Indian Reservation, dairies, and through orange groves. I loved it. It was so freeing after working so many dog and fence filled city routes in West Palm.I could not have asked for better partner though I later learned he made sure to give me all the really hard routes. I didn't know any better and was blissfully ignorant till we traded routes a year later.

As the yearly transfer of routes came up, Ray got more and more anxious how I was going to react to the news of the screwing he had given me. By then we were good friends and I could laugh about his sneaky behavior. Besides, now he had all my former nasty routes for the next year... I thought. He out foxed me by moving into the office that year and quit reading full time. Rats.

I learned a lot from Ray and while we haven't worked together in 16 years, I still considered him a very special friend. I have many Precious stories for another day. I just thought I would introduce you to him today.

Admit it, you just knew "Precious" was going to be a cutesy dog story. Sorry.


  1. got me...I was expecting a dog story. Patti, you really are a gifted storyteller! I enjoy your stories so much. Oh...thanks for the tag. I have never received one before so it may take me a few days to come up with 7 blogs to pass on to. I don't get a chance to follow very many.

  2. No, I thought Precious would be some woman who thought she was a princess and demanded to be treated like one!! Ray sounds interesting!

  3. You have such a great way with words, Patti. As far a Precious, I wasn't sure what to expect, ha-ha! I look forward to hearing more.
    Sunny :)

  4. I truly think that all of us need changes in our lives, sometimes when others think we should NOT make those changes. When I left Texas for Tennessee, my kids down there were shocked that I would leave --and go somewhere I where I had no family or friends. BUT--I felt 'called' to Tennessee... Guess what??? If I had have stayed in Texas, I would never have met George...

    I'm sure your move was GOOD for you. AND--you would never have met PRECIOUS if you had have stayed where you were.

    I didn't think about Precious being a dog--but when you first mentioned that he was a MAN, I immediately thought that he was GAY... How funny is that!!!!!

  5. What a great introduction. I did think Precious was going to be some sweet pup. What a surprise he turned out to be a cowboy! Looking forward to more precious stories.

  6. God bless your precious memory for being able to write a precious tale such as this after precious many years!! :-)Ray sounds like a precious person...ok I'll stop!

    Let me go read the other links in the story.

    I love the name - Okeechobee!!! I'm certain its gonna be stuck in my mind for a couple of days.

  7. that is a "precious" story. we're headed to florida to look around I am so glad I saw this post. sometimes a step back in a career is not a step back after all, especially the wide open spaces. Gary's father had a bar in West Palm Beach, we thought we'd look around and see why his father and mother loved Florida so well. I'm wondering why you moved to Arkansas? but maybe that's a story I misssed or another one coming up.

  8. Your are a gifted storyteller. To bad that doesn't pay well. The world needs more storytellers like you. You would life this world's sad spirits.

  9. You got me, too. I thought Precious would be a girl. I've never lived in Florida, but my son and his family have...but they were just outside Tampa a ways. I'm not sure how I'd get along with alligators and stuff out in the swamps.

    Your tale today was a good one.

  10. I have to agree. You have a natural story telling ability.

  11. I went back to my blog to get the link to my dad and all he was about. He was something else.

  12. No, I was expecting some Shirley Temple Doll cutie in the front office who depended or her personal amenities to keep her job.

    But a female Yorkie would have been runner up.

  13. I really enjoy your stories. You've had lots of adventures and met lots of characters. Precious sounds like a really great guy.

  14. oklhdan
    Oh good, I like to surprise. Thank you so much for the vote of confidence. Makes me feel good.
    No need to follow the rules closely on a tag. Often people just leave it up for grabs without naming anyone or some even ignore the whole thing. Blogger police are loose.

    Oh, now that sounds like a good story. Wish I had someone like that to write about.

    Thank you so much. I am so glad I steered you wrong. That was part of the intent.

    Don't feel badly, that was my first thought when I heard the name. He wasn't even close to gay.

    Thanks, now I guess I need to do a story about a dog named TEX. Cowboys are cool.

    Now that was a "precious" comment. So you do that too. I get odd names stuck in my head also.

    Linda Starr,
    The reason for Arkansas was one of my very first posts. Below is link.

    Enjoy West Palm, I certainly used to.

    Thank you big time for the kind words. Not sure it would earn me a cup of coffee. Good thing I do it for pleasure.

    Amber Star,
    One winter in Florida will hook ya and one summer will make you wonder what in the world you were thinking.
    I will check that link, love the title. Thanks.

    Thank you so much. You all are giving me a big head.

    Either of those would work. I would do a better job with a Yorkie though.

  15. You can tell a story with the best of them Patti...always a joy to come here!

  16. Loved this story. True life.

    By the way, I had thought about giving you that award I got, but figured, you just had received one and might not be too anxious to do another so soon.

    Temp is dropping, and we're having some snow flakes. Heavens only knows what will be ahead. Have a terrific week.

  17. SVB,
    Thanks so much. Precious was a delight to work with. He was funny and sweet.

    Thank you Wanda. You can't enjoy it any more than I enjoy visiting you. You make the world seem like a much nicer place.

    I have the same award you have sitting in my to do pile right now. Thanks for thinking of me though.

  18. Isn't it a relief when you realize that you can do whatever you want--for you! Freeing, Indeed.
    And good to read you have been given a 'clean bill of health' for another three months! Hooray, my dear....

    Oh, and that bath sounded soooo damn good....! (lol)

  19. OOLOH,
    Thank you Naomi. It is one of the super privileges of getting older. The freedom to just be.
    I really do like my baths. Helps those aching joints and keeps me mellow.