Taco Tuesdays With Tracy

This story begins five years ago when my friends Donna and Al began having dates every Tuesday. Their routinely went to a movie, ate, and then to a local bar for a drink. The bar is different from normal saloons. This one has couches and easy chairs in addition to the standard bar with bar stools. It smacked of a living room setting and it was lady friendly. Al is a super friendly guy with a dynamic personality and often invites walk-ins whom he doesn’t know to join Donna and him for a drink and conversation. It started slow, but then people he knew came in and he corralled them to join too. That is how I got involved, he asked me to join them at the Stray for a drink on Tuesdays. I joined. My wife Peggy and I both came. By then the group was regularly up to six, most were established friends. I watched Al as he looked for people coming in.. He has magic when it comes to getting people to like him.

One Tuesday he spotted a young lady with long jet-black hair sitting at the bar alone and called her over. That was the beginning of a lasting friendship until two weeks ago. ¬†Tracy was young fortiesh with jet black hair that she rolled into a chignon. Her eyes were dark, almost black and she accented them with make-up. Her skin an olive white, she looked very Italian or Greek, She was a beautiful lady. Both Al and I have children that are older. Tracy’s personality was bubbly and upbeat. Occasionally, Tracy showed up with her hair long and straight and looking glamorous. On the days she did we called her Stacy because her person was so different. She easily fit into the group and was able to withstand the teasing she got.

To speed up the story I fast forward to where I am now going to the Stray Tuesdays by myself. Peg’s dementia progressed to the point of her not enjoying the outings any more. I hired a caretaker to be with her full time, but I also stayed home to be with her. For a few weeks the three of us came to the Stray, Peg, me and Irene. All of us got a respite from the house. Eventually, It became too hard on Peg and ergo I took advantage of the time off.

Tracy didn’t have a car, and often walked to the Stray from her apartment a few blocks away. I always gave myself a curfew and when it was time for me to leave I asked her if she wanted a ride because I drove right past her apartment on my way home. She took me up on it. Many times, it was winter, dark and cold, and riding was much safer than walking.

I developed a habit of leaving the Stray at six-thirty to give me enough time to grab a taco or nachos bowl, and I could still be home by seven. I felt I could leave Peg’s company for two hours without me feeling guilty.

Time moves on, and so did Tracy. She moved to a more affordable space. Actually it was a room in a condo owned by a lady who needed some extra cash. Tracy rented a room from her. Tracy loved it. On one evening on our way home I asked her if she wanted to stop for a Taco. She jumped at the proposal, but didn’t like the place I suggested. She instead liked My Taco also on the way home. That is when I started going for Tacos every Tuesday with Tracy. It was a regular thing for us until she got sick and nearly died with liver failure.

Miraculously, Tracy slowly came back. She had to apply for disability which she received from the state. But as soon as she started getting income the state took its piece of the action. She was defunct on a student loan and State said ye shall pay up. Her meager disability-income diminished by a whole lot. To offset the difference she took a job as a part-time property manager with her former boyfriend. He loaned her an old car to allow her to do this. She still struggled with survival. In addition to the rent collections she became a hostess for Capri, a four star restaurant. Because she no longer needed a ride home and because her time was crunched we could no-longer go for a taco together.

About six weeks ago, Tracy was not her usual bubbly self. She sat quietly and watched but didn’t participate. We all suspected she was having a problem, Then she stopped coming. Donna texted her and asked why. She received no answer. Donna called her sister to learn that Tracy was back in the hospital. Then two weeks ago we got a text from a friend that Tracy died that morning. She was fifty years old, a mother of two, and a grandmother of three.

Today, the Stray group attended a memorial service for Tracy. We sat sullenly before a vase with her ashes surrounded by flowers. Several of her friends came forward and told stories about their relationship with Tracy. I was just about to do the same except the reverend stepped in and began the homily/eulogy.

No more Peg and no more taco Tuesdays with Tracy, I thought to myself. How wild is that? It got me to thinking and asking, just where does a person’s soul go after the body craps out? I believe we all have a soul but I can’t fathom where it goes. Are we just a whisp of ethereal light or gaseous matter floating about the universe? What? That is something I will not discern until I too crap out.

Saints Barbara of Prestwick, Peggy of Brown, and Tracy of the Stray I miss you, I need you, I love you, and will be with you soon.

LUV, Grumpa Joe

How Not To Solve a Problem


Most people who are problem solvers, or in business know that you spend your effort on things that are relevant. As an engineer, I was taught the Pareto principle which simple states that 80% of the benefit comes from 20% of the effort. I used this rule on every problem I could. When you have limited resources like engineers, salespeople, and machinists why try to solve every stinking problem at the same time? The first thing I thought of when I spotted the list above is the Pareto Principle. Using the Pareto method I can tell you that more lives would be saved if we attack heart disease or cancer first. Seven million people die from cancer worldwide. That is more than all the lives lost due to the problems in the entire list below it. I guess liberals cannot do math nor figure out that the number of lives lost to shootings is minimal when compared to heart disease and cancer.¬† We have all lost someone due to heart disease and cancer, yet few of us has lost someone because of a shooting. I don’t mean to disrespect any person’s life with my comments, but facts are facts.

The only time we came close to losing that many lives due to violence over disease was in WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam. So why are people so outraged by mass shootings? I have no clue, but it is a waste of energy to try to solve the problem when there are so many other pressing problems to solve first.

I’m thinking that the horror of mass death is too great because most of the people killed were young and vibrant, and filled with life. They had families and goals to reach. Well, how about the 1,960 kids who die from cancer every year? Dying a slow death from cancer is a lot more horrifying for the person than dying in an instant from a bullet.

Death brings out emotions within us when we hear about them, especially when they are senseless. So why spend untold amounts of money on writing laws that we will forget about within a month? We should instead spend some money on the grieving people who are outraged by these acts because they are in mental anguish. Having experienced grief myself I feel for the loved ones who survive. It is they who will suffer from grief for years, and you know what? Banning guns will not solve their problems. Chicago is a fine example of how useless gun bans are. More people are killed in a Chicago weekend by guns than were killed in Las Vegas. People who want guns get them and use them to kill regardless of the laws on the books. I read a news article this week that in London where guns are banned, and there is a ten-year prison sentence if you are caught with one, that gun crime is on the rise. In the meantime, people are still being killed by knives, hatchets, and rocks. Where are the bans on these items?

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