Archive for the ‘Whatnots’ Category

Maine Red Hot Dogs for the 4th

July 7, 2018


We had Maine red hot dogs at the store as a 4th of July treat. These dogs come in thick dyed-red casings so tough you have to rip them apart with your hands pulling against your teeth. When you chew the part you have torn off, the meat squishes out the open end and you are left with the insoluble casing that you can either swallow whole or spit out.

One of the girls looked over at me in the break room. “It’s like chewing a stuffed balloon!” she said.

Actually she didn’t say balloon, but I blush at a more exact quotation.

The Political Thought of the Elephant & Donkey Parties

March 4, 2018


I have known for years that most people believe, if the flushed toilet fills up but does not drain, your best strategy is to flush again. Yesterday I realized that this conviction underlies the political thinking of the Republican and Democratic parties over the last one hundred and fifty years.


"Yes?" - photo of mountain goat by Bernie Smetzer


Mike’s First Bright Idea of the New Year

January 1, 2018


Our maintenance dept. has dwindled to half of what it was last Feb. The store managers say they would hire people but no one applies. Gee, no one wants to clean toilets for part-time pay and no benefits. 

Time for a proactive approach. Here’s what we do.

We go over to the big, old motel across the street that rents rooms by the week, and we give the guy at the desk a few bucks to have a fire drill. The residents stagger out of their rooms and we call them all together.

Then we announce that our store is hiring for maintenance and offering a case of Bud pounders as a hiring bonus. Just like that we have a ton of people lined up outside the HR office. Enough to cover maintenance five times over. A few will even pass screening. That brings maintenance up to the warm body count we need.

When they show up for orientation, we tell them they will receive their pounders one can at a time at the end of each shift they work. How long will they stay? How many pounders in a case? 24. Four shifts a week. That’s six weeks. Beats our past median longevity. So problem solved.


Store in Beulah Colorado - photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

They liked my ideas at my last store.

Reducing Water Consumption

December 26, 2017

Went into a store restroom and saw two signs prominently displayed above the sinks. The first read: “Low-flow faucets throughout this store help reduce water consumption 42%.”

The second explained in six steps, with illustrations, how to wash your hands. Step 1: Turn on hot water and moisten hands. Step 2: Dispense soap. Step 3: Rub hands together. Step 4: Rinse under the still running hot water. Step 5: Dry hands thoroughly with paper towels. Step 6: Use the same paper towels to finally turn off the hot water.

Our hands are clean but we ain’t green.


First Street, Scarborough, Maine - photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

“Snowy Snowy Mike” – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

“E” Is for Enough

December 20, 2017

It’s like I was explaining to Vera on the way home from Biddeford. “E” on the gas gauge stands for “enough.” When the needle falls below E, you don’t have enough. That’s when you stop for gas.

Vera was quiet for a minute. Then she asked, “Did you pay the auto club?”


Say what? - photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

Say what? – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer


Hunting Season & Hunting Safety

October 31, 2017

Dad wanted Mom to go rabbit hunting with him, but he only bought her a .410 shotgun. Dad thought of Mom as a city girl, so he didn’t feel comfortable having her hunting next to him with a 12 gauge. When Dad decided that I was old enough to go hunting, he had me use Mom’s .410 for rabbits and he bought me a single-shot .22 for squirrels. Dad was a safe hunter. He didn’t take unnecessary chances.

Bernie & Viola Smetzer

Mom & Dad

Mike’s Tips for Tipplers

October 7, 2017


Lord Culvert Canadian’s 1.75 liter bottle is on sale again in Maine this month for $5 off. So here’s a simple idea every frugal tippler should try.

Get out your double shot glass and pour yourself a good one. Then you’ll need some Torani White Chocolate Sauce, available locally at Marden’s Surplus & Salvage for a very reasonable price. Add a long squirt of white chocolate sauce. Stir well. Delicious! Your Culvert will now have flavor and complexity you never believed possible.

And you can save big time by serving this home-made liqueur to the sweeties in your life. No more buying Baileys Irish Cream or Drambuie at rip-off prices! White Chocolate Culvert is just about the same thing. The classy guy will serve this drink after dinner.  Pour it into liqueur glasses and bring it in on a silver-plated tray from the kitchen.

Silver-plated trays are cheap and easy to find at Goodwill. Be sure to use intimate lighting so she won’t notice those spots where the base-metal shows through. The rest of the evening, my friend, is up to you.

Extra tip: You can make this liqueur as sweet and chocolaty as she likes!

An Unsettling Day at the Store

September 15, 2017

An unsettling day at the store. I was making jokes like usual, but no one was smiling. Like when you are reminiscing to you wife about some really fun thing the two of you did years ago. But she gets quiet and seems to be listening too closely. And you think, oh wait, who was I with?


Mike's Truck Starting a Long Decline - photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

Mike’s Truck Starting a Long Decline – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

My Endless Summer

August 7, 2017

Does anyone remember the 1966 movie The Endless Summer? Two surfers travel around the world, northern and southern hemispheres to surf the year round. What freedom! What hedonistic pleasure! Ah, the 60s.

Now the other day I was creeping a U-boat from produce to the backroom through tourists who either had no awareness there could be anyone else in the world or who looked at me with that “I’m not moving till I’m ready” glare. And, of course, answering questions: “Where in the hell did you put the bacon!?” “Uh, in the meat department.”

“This summer is endless,” I said to myself. Then it hit me. The Endless Summer. It’s a horror movie!

"Yes?" - photo of mountain goat by Bernie Smetzer

“Yes?” – photo by Bernie Smetzer

Monday at the Grocery

June 27, 2017


During my first break yesterday I got a phone call from a front end supervisor. I heard her say, “Can you come to the front? There is slime flowing around in the parking lot.” Sounded urgent so I advised her to page my partner who was working in the backroom. “What the hell,” I thought. “Could be a septic pumper with a leaky valve!” I hurried down at the end of my break and asked if my partner was still outside. “Yes,” she replied with great seriousness. I went into the parking lot to help. Couldn’t find my partner. Couldn’t find any slime.

I went out back and found my partner at work. “What was in the parking lot?” I asked, excitedly.  He looked puzzled. “It was just one of the yellow floor cone signs we set out in the fire lane. Someone knocked it over. The front end called for me to “take care of the sign that was rolling around in the parking lot.”

I suppose I could get a hearing aid, but life would be less interesting.


Detail from

Detail from “Sunset” – Acrylic Painting on Wood by Mike Smetzer