Tag Archives: Street Toyota

Blog streak looks like it's about to end

This blog post is going to be — and I’ll be fairly brief — about my blog.

High Plains Blogger has been on a roll of late.

It has set seven consecutive records for monthly page views and unique visitors. I’m quite proud of that streak, and I’ve been none too bashful about sharing the good news with my social media friends.

April isn’t looking so good. Just six days into the month and I’m sensing a trend that suggests my streak is going to stop at seven. That’s all right. I’ve enjoyed a good run and I’m hopeful it will resume soon.

This blogging adventure has pretty much consumed my life for the past, oh, couple of years.

I don’t have a full-time job. I’ve three part-time jobs — and I enjoy them all immensely. Two of them involve writing: One of them is for Panhandle PBS, based at Amarillo College; the other one, which I just started in early February, is for KFDA-NewsChannel 10, the CBS-TV affiliate in Amarillo. They’re both blogs. The PBS blog discusses public affairs programming; the NewsChannel 10 blog looks at on-going news stories in our region and the station is good enough to broadcast an on-air report based on the blog I’ve posted on the station’s website.

The third job is as a customer service concierge with a Toyota dealership here in Amarillo.

But writing is what I love to do. I was blessed to pursue a fulfilling career in print journalism. It was a 37-year run that ended in late August 2012. My work with public and commercial TV stations allows me to continue to working on my craft.

My first post-newspaper-career passion, though, is my own blog. I truly enjoy venting, ranting, raving, commenting, critiquing public affairs on my blog. Occasionally I veer into what my wife and I call “life experience.”

I guess the purpose here is to ask you to keep reading High Plains Blogger. If you think you want to share it with your friends, well, have at it. I’m anxious to reach more people and to have them comment on my musings.

Do not worry about hurting my feelings if you disagree with my particular political slant. Most of my neighbors and most of the people I encounter daily disagree with me. That’s the nature of living in this part of the world.

Let me know what you think.


Welcome to Black Friday

One of the many nice aspects of my part-time job at Street Toyota/Scion is the interaction I have with interesting customers.

Two of them came to our service department this morning. They are foreign-born. I asked them, “Where do you come from?”

“The Philippines,” the wife said.

We chatted a few moments. I asked them where they live; they reside in a small town north of Amarillo. She’s a medical professional, he is a contractor.

I asked them about the service we were doing for their vehicle. The gentleman told me they brought their truck in for a recall and some other maintenance. “Oh, do you think it will take some time?” I asked. He said “Yes, I think so.”

I told them we could transport them wherever they want to go if they didn’t want to wait.

Then the conversation got rather entertaining.

Husband: “Well, we were thinking about going to the mall, but it’s closed today, correct”?

Me: “Ohhh, no! It’s open. It’s been open for some time. Probably before the sun came up this morning.”

Husband: “Really? I thought today was a holiday.”

Me: “No, no, no. Yesterday was the holiday. We celebrate Thanksgiving every year at this time. Today is the start of the Christmas shopping season. (Westgate Mall) is quite crowded today.”

Husband: “Oh, OK. Well, I didn’t remember that.”

I then sought to explain to his wife the meaning of Black Friday. I believe she understood how I explained that businesses look to make a sizable profit today from sales of items. She asked if there would be “lots of price cuts.” I said, “Quite possibly, yes.”

With that, they walked across the street to a sporting goods store to do some shopping. They returned about an hour later, informed me that “It wasn’t too crowded over there,” then said they wanted to go to the mall.

I flagged down one of our drivers, Mark, and told him where they wanted to go. “Don’t tell me the mall,” Mark said, laughing loudly.

The couple stood up, walked out with the driver and the wife turned, smiling broadly, and waved good bye.

“What’d I tell ya?” I said. “Good luck.”

Welcome to Black Friday.


Key decision made on retirement

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on impending retirement.

Decision-making can be a liberating experience.

It brings relief and an almost palpable feeling of weight lifting off one’s shoulders.

I made such a decision this week. I have decided when I’m going to officially “retire.”

It will occur on my 66th birthday, which arrives on Dec. 17, 2015. That will be the day I plan to start collecting Social Security income.

Big deal, you say? What’s so special about that? For starters, that will be the day I can start drawing SSI without incurring a penalty if I choose to keep working part-time. I become eligible for my full Social Security benefit on my 66th birthday. I am working two part-time jobs at the moment and I’m likely to keep working at them even after I start drawing my “retirement” income.

I feel quite good about making this decision. It signals another big turning point in my life since the moment I stopped working full time as a daily print journalist. I won’t go into the details of that event, except to say that I wasn’t ready for that moment to arrive. It did. The circumstances of that moment still anger me but a year and a half later I’m actually glad to have moved on to this phase of life.

My wife and I haven’t been this happy in years. We’ve been able to travel some in our RV. Our granddaughter is growing and developing beautifully. Our sons are thriving. I’m working these two part-time jobs and enjoying them both immensely, mostly because neither of them places much pressure on me. The auto dealership job allows me to meet people and get reacquainted with old friends; the blog I write for PanhandlePBS.org allows me to stay involved with public affairs TV programming.

Of course, I have this blog to which I often contribute several times daily.

I now await another key stage of my retired life when I turn 66 and will start collecting some income for which I’ve worked many years.

There’ll be more to report on this blog as we move forward.

A decision on when to start collecting Social Security might not seem like a biggie to some. It is to me. I’m glad I’ve made it.

I’m now calling myself ‘retired’

This is the latest in an occasional series of blogs commenting on retirement.

I made a decision this weekend that involves my immediate future.

I’ve decided to say that I’m retired — even though I’m still working, sort of.

The decision came from a Facebook notice that popped up. It asked me to update my employment status. I clicked on the “retired” box and then saved it. So now my Facebook profile has me listed as “retired,” although I later — at my wife’s suggestion — entered “blogger” along with it. So it says I’m a “retired blogger.”

This is a big deal in my evolution from working guy to fully retired guy.

I’m working part-time for an auto dealership here in Amarillo. It’s a customer service job; I work about 24 hours a week. My job is to welcome folks who bring their vehicles in for service or who are waiting while they purchase a vehicle. I make them feel comfortable, offer them something to drink or eat, ask if they need a ride somewhere, talk them up a little bit.

The job is so much fun I have a hard time calling it actual “work.” I spend my afternoon with individuals I like in an environment that produces little pressure. My employer asks me simply to treat people with courtesy and respect, which I am able to do.

I have another job. I write a blog for Panhandle PBS’s website. Panhandle PBS is the new name for the site for KACV-TV, the public television station based at Amarillo College. It’s a free-lance gig and, too, is a serious blast. I write about public affairs programming at Panhandle PBS/KACV. I also write about other public policy issues as I see fit. I submit the blogs — titled “A Public View” — as drafts and they’re posted by the staff at KACV.

Check it out here:


So, those are my jobs. They are more fun than I can possibly have imagined having.

My wife says it well. I am getting paid for doing something I love to do: talk to people and write.

Social Security is still down the road a bit. When that income kicks in, then I’ll be able to declare myself officially and fully “retired.”

For now, I’ll settle on pretending to be retired. I’ll get lots of practice. Who knows? When the day arrives, I’ll be proficient in all that retirement entails.