The  Beat: True Stories From the Streets

Page 17  by Harry Martin Polis
                Artwork by Jaynee Levy-Polis

 This article is for the men and women who gave their lives on all the battlefields in all the wars we have fought, both declared and undeclared.  I salute you.  As a former Army Sergeant who served from 1964 through 1970, both on active duty and in the Army Reserves, I pledge my honor to you.  We read everyday of our young men and women who are killed by terrorists in all four corners of the globe.  My heart goes out to their grieving families.  Veteranís Day is tomorrow as I write this, and like Memorial Day, we honor our comrades in arms.  They fight our enemies. 
We live in a different world than we did when I served in the Army.  We face new challenges, with new weaponry and technology.  We are better educated in the services today.  We need to be knowledgeable about computers and complicated technology because that is how war is waged now.  As a cannoneer in an Artillery unit at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, I fired the 105 Howitzers.  I saw and heard these huge cannons fire.  Today, at 56, my hearing is poor due to the cannonís roar and the Armyís then lack of protection.  I gave my service gladly to protect my country.  It is a small price to pay for freedom.  When I know that many gave so much more, I cannot complain.  Soldiers gave their lives, limbs, their sight, and worse.  They had every physical ailment you can name. So, if you have to tell me something twice, please donít get mad.  I gave my hearing for our nation.  I canít hear the chirping of the birds. Songs donít quite have the full sound they should.  Jayneeís voice is hard to hear when she calls me from the next room.  Things happen in life, and the army happened in mine.  The thing is, the armed services happened to a lot of people and did a lot worse to them.  And because they served, we are free.
Copyright 2000 by Harry Martin Polis
Harry is available for lectures and entertainment with stories and poetry.  Contact SCOOP USA, or e-mail Harry.

The various telephone companies are getting on my nerves!  All we hear on television is one commercial after the other saying 5 cents a minute, or 8 cents a minute for this plan, or that plan.  Dial this, dial that.  We have to read the fine print because there is a lot to know about these plans.  We are bombarded by AT & T, MCI, Sprint, and all the smaller companies vying for our telephone dollars.  Actors tell us to just pick up the phone and dial 10-10 something, and the rate is a dollar.  Not only do I forget the number, but also when you use it, you find extra charges on your bill.  No one seems to know what the charges are for.  Everything is too complicated.  Way, way too often the phone rings and it is a phone company asking us to transfer our long-distance service to them.  Our mail always has advertisements from companies too.  A good ¾ of our mail is junk mail from all kinds of companies and the phone companies are always represented. It looks as though there are new plans for cell phones.  I really cannot tell.  Usually the plans are not as they appear to be.  As I said before, there always seem to be hidden charges you find out about when you get the bill. 
Life was not so complicated years ago.  We didnít have cell phones.  Beepers didnít exist.  Suddenly, we have come to depend on these little critters.  I didnít want to have them, let alone use them, but even I have come to see how handy they are.  We can always beep Brian, and that way, we donít lose him anymore.  When Jaynee is late, she calls me on the cell phone. 
When I open my newspaper, there are full-page advertisements with the same gimmicks.  Who has the time or interest to carefully read all the advertisements and explanations?  If you do, you can get the cheapest, best plan.  Just the other day, I received a notice of a class-action suit brochure against our cell-phone company.  The brochure listed our rights and obligations to the company.  For crying out loud!!  All I want to do is make a stinking call!  I am not interested in lawsuits or focusing my life on the Phone Company! 
In our lives today, we get too much information and we donít have the time to read through all of it.  Every piece of paper has fine print.   I have to have a magnifying glass to be able to read it!  We get too much and no time.  So itís 10 this, and 10 that and I will never know which 10 is best, or how to use it.  Years ago, when we had one phone company, at least you knew who to call, and what the rates were.  Copyright 1999 by Harry Martin Polis
By Jaynee Levy-Polis
 This week, Jaynee writes about some of our least favorite people. 
 As I have grown older and wiser, I gave myself permission to never patronize shops and services where the salespeople seemed dishonest, or phoney.  I never forgot, Harry and I buying our first new car in 1968, and how the oily salesman was so obviously manipulating us, yet we were so young and inexperienced, we still bought the car from him.  Today, we would walk out. I cannot remember a situation where Harry and I were slimed by one of those owners of forked tongues.  However, not falling for oily ploys does not protect us from running up against those yucky excuses for human beings.  Recently, I did have to speak to one who tried to sell me not only merchandise, but also a service I had already done myself.  I have been painting and drawing every day, and having a great time doing it. Although I have repeatedly damaged my computer because I cannot resist downloading everything in sight and I try to adjust everything else, I still am getting my artwork back on the web, exhibiting it, and just generally having a grand time.  Because of that, I need to frame my drawings. I contacted a framer here in Philly so that I could give a local framer my business.  The rates they quoted matched the distributor in North Carolina, so I agreed to come and talk with the owner.  He showed me lots of lovely frames and quoted good prices.  He asked me to bring my work in and choose the frames I wanted. 
I dragged my work into Center City, which is a job, because it has to be wrapped and protected.  I could not believe it! He gave me the old bum's rush!  Instead of showing me frames, he told me I had matted everything all wrong and it had to be done over.  He said the frames could cost much more than the artwork itself.  I call his approach Bait and Switch. Promise the buyer something cheap, and when he asks for it, substitute expensive goods and services.  His approach though, was sinister.  He attacks the buyerís skills, attempting to promote his own expertise.  Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.  Needless to say, I bought nothing but delighted in using his scotch tape to fasten my carrier. 
 The poor sad kook was also an obnoxious character.  Usually, I feel pity for people with a tenuous grip on reality.  The kook to whom I am referring owns an art business, and that was how I happened to have the opportunity to get a full blast of his strange take on life and the art scene in Philadelphia.  I took offense.  If my wisdom quotient were higher now, I would have understood and verbally patted the poor man on his head and walked away. Instead, I am troubled. I will forget. There is a horrible saying, ďThere is more than one way to skin a cat.Ē  As long as I keep working toward my goal, I will find ways around the slimeballs and kooks of the world.  God laid down the road.  All I need is faith and the energy to keep walking.
Copyright by Harry Martin Polis and Jaynee Levy-Polis

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