Funniest Call Center Stories: Curaçao

Today, I attended a mandatory meeting for work. During the slideshow, there was a segment dedicated to Costco Travel. I worked there for 13 years, most of which in the call center.

As you can imagine, I have plenty of stories of the calls I received. In American society, invariably you’ve contacted a call center filled wall-to-wall with customer service representatives (CSRs)

The following is just one of the funniest call center stories I have to share.

Funniest Call Center Stories: Curaçao

This story took place at Costco Travel. It was my first year, so I really wanted to make an impression. My trainer, Corrie, was promoted to supervisor that same year. She was my direct supervisor, in fact. Therefore she oversaw my development.

One of my Funniest Call Center Stories was regarding pronunciation of words.

A Costco Member called in wanting to a book Southern Caribbean cruise that embarked from San Juan, Puerto Rico. He knew the itinerary but clearly didn’t quite know the ports of calls like I did.

We agreed on all but one: Curaçao.

He had a Southern accent, but he insisted on calling it kur-ROCK-co. I explained to him the name is Dutch in origin, but he kept grating on my soul with his rough pronunciation of kur-ROCK-co.

Funniest Call Center Stories: Curaçao

I was in my mid 20’s so I was in the “save the world, by educating everyone” MODE with my correct pronunciation of the island.

He refused to yield.

I found myself locked horns with a stubborn Southerner over the how to say Curaçao.

After 20-minutes, I caved. I needed a sale for the day, and this guy was clearly in-it-2-win-it. Corrie started walking around to ensure if her team needed her assistance, she would be there.

I timed her arrival, and my incorrect pronunciation of Curaçao with a loud “kur-ROCK- CO” which stopped her dead in tracks!

She and I exchanged PAINED looks while I talked on the phone. She attempted to approach me but I held up my hand, then with my index finger and wagged it back and forth as warning to “not EVEN think of correcting me”!

I was dumber for this conversation which I wanted to end it sooner than later.

Corrie knew from her experience with me at this point to not question my actions while still on the phone.

She asked later what was the drama, and why I purposely alerted to her to it.

I retorted, “I was right, and should have been recognized for it by the caller!”

She smiled, and replied softly, “Los, sometimes the simple satisfaction of being correct should be it.”

Instead of being puffy-chested about it, and let my ego get in my way, I sighed. She was right. I let it go.

So if you’re ever on the Dutch island of kur-ROCK-co, be sure to greet that stubborn caller as I’m convinced he was left there by Carnival Cruise Lines in the early 2000’s.

Until next time, be good like you should, and if you can’t be good, be good at what you do!

Mic drop *bOoM*
‘los; out

Oh, Canada – My Border Crossing

Last weekend, I noticed that I-5 North was backed up starting north of Marysville, WA down to pass south Everett. I mused that the US-Canada border must be busy AF since it’s recently been re-opened.

I have had the pleasure of living through of a worst-case, nightmare scenario at the Canada-USA border. At least I am resourceful enough to live through these stories in order to tell them to Spaceship Earth.

I call it: #OhCanada – My Border Crossing

Aiight, it was the mid ’90s so travel and border crossings were easier than today. I had just started working at the newly formed AAA Washington Express Travel Call Center after graduating from Edmond Community College with AA in Liberal Arts AND a Certificate in Travel and Tourism.

My live-in girlfriend was a tall drink of water, which clinched my thirst on the daily. You see, she was an aspiring model, young, fun, yet plagued with back problems with her height of 6 feet. Her prescription pain medicine was so strong it was narcotics based.

#TallDrinkofWater had shared with me in passing that she hadn’t travelled or been on a train. Since I was new to travel, I wanted to enjoy some of the few fringe-benefits that remained. Being the thoughtful and considerate boyfriend that I am, I purchased discounted #Amtrak train tickets to Canada to enjoy a one day shopping trip and visit of Vancouver, BC. Needless to say, she was excited at the announcement.

I also received my first adult passport (had an expired child). I showed it to her one morning over breakfast, and her consumption of her daily pain pills. After she physically examined it, she handed it back over. She only had her birth certificate and driver’s license, which at the time, was satisfactory travel documents.

I drove us to the Amtrak station in Edmonds, WA. I parked my car fairly close to save my girl a longer walk. Mind you, it was a time limited spot but based on my calculations we would be in the car and gone before time expired.

As Morgan Freeman would comment, “That would not how this story ends.”

We gathered up our belongings, and boarded the train. I was a novice photographer at the time, so my bags was simply my camera bag with my #Ricoh KR-5 Super II and #Pentax lenses. After stepping off the train, I guided her to what was called the Vancouver’s Rodeo Drive: Robson Street.

I had a grip of cash to burn, so we strolled up and down the area. After a purchase or two, we sat down for lunch in the sunshine.

We used the excellent public transportation system to motor over to the Gastown area. After taking some photos of her to help her modeling portfolio, I noticed it was time to make our way back to the train depot to get through security, check-in, etc.

And this is when the dream travel day turned into a nightmare in a heartbeat.

I handed over my passport, and Tall’s birth certificate, etc to the Canadian Customs Officer. He was wearing one white glove, and brushed my passport page with it. It turned yellow before our eyes. He nodded to another officer. He removed us from line, and ushered us to a stainless steel, unmarked door.

Fucking fantastic, I thought, as my heart sunk. Some doors shouldn’t be open, and that was one of them.

“Carlos, the Coke Dealer?”

OH Canada

After entering the room, the smile from the officer’s face quickly gave way to stern look complete with a furrowed brow. He forcibly removed my camera bag from my shoulder. I thought, Hey, asshole, that delicate photographic equipment.

Then he unzipped the top, and strewn all the contents onto the stainless steel table in front of us. He barked at us, “SIT!”

I mentally cringed, So much for ‘delicate, and carefully calibrated’ photographic equipment. He silently searched the bag, by opening every pocket, and pouch, and removed everything. He didn’t find what he was looking for. He eyed us and barked more orders, as he pointed to me, “Stand up, turn around and place your hands against the wall.”

I finally asked, “What the hell is going on?” as I complied with the order.

He grumbled, “Shut up, punk.” He ‘patted’ me down. And when I mean ‘pat’ I mean he dug into my jeans pocket, and forcibly searched my clothes. He repeated the same actions on Tall.

He let out a sigh. He reviewed the camera, and lenses, everything. He held up a small piece of scrap paper I had used to take notes yesterday at AAA Express Travel Call Center. It had two woods: Coke or Pepsi? with the Pepsi circled. Then on the backside of it was a telephone number.

He growled, “Where’s the coke, Carlos?”

“Excuse me?” I asked in bewilderment.

“This, ” He holds up the yellow stained glove.This special glove detects drug residue. I’m trying to find the cocaine that you’re trying to smuggle across the border or already did. This must be the phone number of your dealer or your hooked junkies.” He put down the glove and held up the piece of paper.

As young, yet proud man, I fired back, “Or neither, because I don’t do that sorta thing. I work in a call center, and I was going to the soda pop vending machines which we had our choice of Coke or Pepsi. I scribbled down that phone number to call an AAA Washington Member back but you’re welcome to call it but I’m confident they will not appreciate a call from Canadian Customs Officer.”

In hindsight, being a young man, that’s dumb, I probably shouldn’t have issued that challenge because he did call it after he stormed out of the room leaving Tall and me alone.

She started to cry, and looked at me for comfort. “What’s going on, Los? I’m scared.”

My anger and frustration gave way to sympathy. “They think I’m a drug smuggler because I’m Filipino, and it’s racial profiling at it’s finest. Plus they have that color changing glove for evidence to back up probable cause. Please don’t worry, we’ll get outta here.”

“How about the train though? I thought you said there was only one train leaving today,” she asked.

Shit, I thought. She’s right, there is only one train.

“We’ll be ok,” I hugged her.

Without a doubt, I was sure they were watching on a hidden camera for reactions, and how we were coping.

Finally, the officer returns. “Mr. Bayne, we called the number. Lucky for you they answered. And they answered my questions. They were either telling the truth, or great actors. I’ve gotta ask, though. Do you take prescription pills for pain, or been in contact with someone who does?”

Tall and I instantly exchanged worried looks. “Yes. Her bottle of pain pills is right there,” as I point to it on the table amongst my camera equipment. “Why?” I growled.

“Because the residue of the pill is narcotics based, therefore giving us the impression you are a coke dealer. In the future, Mr. Bayne, be careful who handles your passport and when. Everything checks out, you are free to go.”

He unceremoniously exits.

“Thanks!” I say sarcastically as I gather up my camera equipment.

And the hits keep coming 

Aiight, well all that time spent farting around with Canadian Customs burned up our check in time. The train conductor was literally removing the sandwich boards in front of each of the train cars. We yelled, “Please wait!” as we started to haul ass down towards the slow moving train.

We literally jump onboard.

The conductor grumbled, “You should’ve boarded sooner.” As I was about to launch into a tirade of untold expletives, I felt a gentle grip on my arm from Tall. I faced her, she was shaking her head, with her pretty pursed lips. Her eyes were begging me not to fight this man, and not cause anymore trouble.

Cooler heads prevailed, as I huffed, brushed passed him, and lead us to our seats in seething anger.

We arrived quickly to the Blaine exchange point for dropping of Canadian Customs Officers for US Customs K-9 Officers. They made their way through each car, and we were seated in the last one.

Well, I’m sure it didn’t take you long to figure out where I’m going with this. The dogs, yes two of them, walked up to me, and sat down in the aisle.

“Excuse me, sir. Please stand up, and come with me,” the officer politely commands me. The other officer takes my camera bag over his shoulder. I’m a 5-OH sandwich with an officer and dog in front of me and the same behind me escorting me to the back of the train car.

Once the door closes that separates us from the rest of the prying ears, they start peppering me with rudimentary questions, like where I live.

I know what they’re doing. If this is a cover or that I’m lying they’ll trip me up. After 10 minutes of asking where I live, where I work, what my middle was, and questions about my girlfriend, they are exhausted. They obviously aren’t international interrogation experts.

They straight up ask why I was there, who I visited, and more. I retort with my explanation that it was a one-day shop excursion on a train to a foreign country so that my girlfriend can have that experience. And boy, has it been an experience!

The dogs sniff my bag and myself – no drugs. After what seemed like foreneverness, they are satisfied or frustrated that nothing came of this delay. They exit the train car since it was the last one. I trudge back to my seat with my camera bag as all the passengers are mean-mugging me.

I AM the reason we’re delayed.

OH Canada

Insult to injury … 

The train ride continues without further incident to Edmonds. It was picturesque along the tracks, and the sunset was beautiful.

#TallDrinkofWater and I walk out to my parked Honda Civic only to find an envelope underneath the windshield wiper.

It’s a parking ticket for exceeding the time limit during the posted hours. Of course, it was! Oh, Canada, you were unkind to me this time!

Keep digging,

Santa, A Knife, and AMFs

I generally don’t consider myself a social influencer, but I have noticed that I have an impact in situations – for the better, or for the worse. One particular situation was a dinner cruise with my girlfriend’s company party … I met off-season Santa Claus, a knife, and AMFs.

Lemme explain.

Argosy Cruises

In the late 1990’s, I was working at the AAA Washington Express Travel Center in Bellevue. My girlfriend also worked at AAA Washington in the Membership Accounting Department.

Every year the Finance Department would host a departmental party, so she invited me to be her date. She let me know it would an evening cruise out of downtown Seattle. Argosy Cruises is a Seattle-based company offering a variety of services such as corporate dinner parties.

I suited up as Barney would from HIMYM [How I Met Your Mother], and picked up my girlfriend.

Leveling Up

We boarded a 3-level cruise ship; one event per level for levels 1-2, and an observation deck. The AAA Washington party was the first level, and the other was above us.

Not long enough after departure, I saw something I hadn’t seen ever. Off season Santa in a gaudy looking sweater with a strikingly beautiful brunette in a white dress on his arm as they walked along the promenade deck.

The girlfriend caught on to my baffled look on my face, then turned to locate the source. And she quipped, “Oh, look. Santa is with a hooker nowadays!”

Real subtle, I groaned.

The director of finance was Dean (in fact I think he still is) He was essentially the boss of the party. One of the Argosy crew members approached him because they were ready to serve the cake but didn’t have a knife for some reason or another.

I volunteered to approach the other party upstairs.

[Moments later …]

I reappeared with a serrated edge knife and handed it over to the cake server. She looked confused, “This is a serrated edge knife.”

“Best I could do for honey, please make it work,” I grumbled my request.

We were each given two drink tickets for the evening. I decided that now would be a great time to redeem one.

Santa, A Knife, and AMFs

What’s An AMF?

I made my way to the small bar. The person in front of me had a visually pleasing blue colored drink.

Bartender smiles, “What will it be, sir?”

“What’s the drink you just made for that guy? It looks like a Blue Hawaiian or Electric Iced Tea,” I ask.

A smirk crept across his face, “It’s called an AMF. Want one?”

I shrugged my shoulders, “I’ll take a flyer on it.”

He pours in vodka, gin, tequila, and rum. I thought, Geez, this is already gasoline in a 10 ounce plastic cup. Then he topped it all off with blue curaçao, sweet and sour mix, and a splash of 7-UP. My eyes increased with each added component. When he finished, I pressed on, “How many drink coupons is this?”

“Two, sir,” he answered.

“Fair enough,” I was my rebuttal. “What does AMF stand for?”

He slapped his hand down on my tickets on the bar, and barks, “Adios Muthaf**ker!”

I smiled, “LOVE IT!”

I happily trotted back to my chair. Dean, my girlfriend, and my teammates were instantly curious. I sipped on it, and damn was it good. I told them the story to settle them down. Dean leaned over, and whispered to me, “I have control of all the drink coupons. Please get a round for the entire table.” He passes me over enough drink coupons to take care of it.

I zoomed back to the bartender. I asked for a round of AMFs at the table, left the drink coupons, and requested the servers bring them over all at once.

[Minutes later …]

While sipping on my 3rd AMF of the evening, I noticed on the tables of the entire party had those little blue, deliciously DANGEROUS drinks.

To this day, I don’t remember too much more of the evening. I didn’t see Santa Claus and his hooker disembark, if the serrated knife was used to cut up the cake or if any other drink was ordered the rest of the cruise.

I do know that eventually we collectively drank the bar dry of the AMF ingredients. That, and, the accounting departments like to drink at parties.

‘los; out

Lost American In Paris

Yesterday at work, I enjoy a micro-conversation with a self-proclaimed Italian Costco Member over the pronunciation of the words: La Croix. It was well-intentioned and very lively.

We concluded the origin of the words was French, and regardless of your attempt it’s difficult to pronounce correctly. I reminded me of a time when I lost an American in the French city of Paris …

Paris, “The City of Light”. Despite that light, I still had a lost American in Paris that I needed to find.

It was in 2004, I was in my 2nd year at Costco Travel. In those 2 years I had accomplished so much in such little time, I had the biggest task assigned to me. To travel with and escort as a Costco Travel representation for the Kirkland Signature European Cruise Tour. I wasn’t the tour guide, per se, but more like an assistant to the tour guide assigned by Princess Cruises while holding the best interest for the Costco Members and Costco Travel. And somehow I had lost one of the members on the first real day together …

Lost American in Paris

Before I left the office, I had several meetings to prepare me for the 12-night Cruise Tour. The overall message that I detected was my primary responsibility was all Costco Members were to be protected. Thankfully, I would be meeting up with the Princess Cruise assigned tour guide to speak the various languages, be knowledgable about the countries, and have instant access to the various resources that’ll need to be used while aboard. My presence there would be to ensure that everyone had a good time, guided probably, and not have a lost American in Paris.

Notre Dame

As the title suggests, this travel package consisted of a cruise and a land tour. The order of this trip was the tour first, then the cruise. Our first night was in London, England so everyone can meet up, and gather up. Our tour guide was Marie-Agnes, and when we met up, she and I cooperated immediately. I knew she would be my best resource should I have a lost American in Paris on our second day.

We boarded the Chunnel Train early morning so we could travel from London to Paris. The first stop was the cathedral of Notre Dame. You see, priority is given to visiting tour groups. Oddly enough, it was a Sunday, and Notre Dame is a functioning church so we were visiting prior to service of the day.

And this is when I lost an American in Paris.

Once the tour was over, Marie-Agnes, and I advised everyone to board the bus to travel to the Eiffel Tower next. After reviewing the faces of the crowd, and double-checking the manifest, I was missing a husband named Larry. Somehow his wife, and him were separated inside Notre Dame. They were traveling with another couple, too. The tour guide was getting anxious as we had a succinct itinerary and we were running behind.

Great, I thought. The first real day and I’ve already trying to locate a lost American in Paris!

Now I’d have to contact the police for a missing person, check in hospitals, and more. First, I kept the wife with Marie-Agnes to keep her calm. The other couple stayed for moral support. Second, I sent the bus onto to the Eiffel Tower to ensure the group stays on-track.

Then I literally ran back to Notre Dame to search myself. I discovered that all tourists were sent out because service was in session. Awesome, I grumbled. I’m having to search for an unfamiliar face in a French crowd of thousands!

Since I was running already, I might as well take a lap around the cathedral. It was then and there I realized just how ginormous this church is.

I couldn’t find him.

Now, at this point, I’m starting to panic. I reverse my direction, and kept running. I still couldn’t find him. I’ll return to the mini-group at the original bus pick up and where I left the remaining group.

They were all smiling!

I furrowed my eyebrows, they must’ve learned more information since I left. Sure enough, they informed me that the bus driver spotted a lost American in Paris at the Eiffel Tower. It was Larry! The group was gathered around him, and my mini-group were waiting for me to return.

Taxis in Paris have a maximum capacity of 4.

Right about then, the church service concluded therefore the patrons were pouring out of the church and piling into taxis. I flagged one down, and had Marie-Agnes, Larry’s wife, and the other couple race off to be reunited with Larry. I assumed I’d be able to grab the next one. By the time, I secured them into transportation, all the other taxis were taken.

I looked into the distance to see the Eiffel Tower like a beacon. Since I was sweaty and upset from panicking, I thought I could use the time to walk and cool off. It was summer, therefore the sun was out and it was indeed hot. After walking for about 5 minutes, I encountered a taxi driver waking up from a nap in his BMW. I asked him nicely in English, if he even spoke English. And then if I could have a ride to Eiffel. He was agreeable to all of it.

He asked me if I was with a tour group from the United States, and I replied yes. He pressed on, why I wasn’t with the group. I smiled, I was trying to find a lost American in Paris, and he was finally located at the Eiffel. He smiled in returned, and quipped, are you sure you’re not the lost American as he looked into his rear view mirror.

I smiled, and joked, I just might be. All’s well that ends well, right?

Until my next drop, Spaceship Earth, be good like you should, and if you can’t be good, be good at what you do!

Mic drop *bOoM*
‘los; out

Boracay Island: Heaven On Earth

My mind sometimes drifts off to a time and place that I truly was in paradise, that I recognized the fact I was in paradise, and lastly, indulged as much as I could before dragging myself away.

My mother passed away from gastric cancer in December 1997. She was born and raised on the Filipino island called Leyte in the township of Villa Jacinta. As you can imagine communication to Villa Jacinta from the United States was either a post, aka snail mail, or in-person.

Sending the news of her death to her family and extended family by way of letter wouldn’t be the right thing to do.

After all the things that were said and done, I had built into the itinerary a stop for my birthday treat to myself: Boracay Island.

I had heard of it, and researched it as best as I could in 1997. They usually say, “The brochure looks nice!” And I was able to convince my family and traveling friends to join me.


Boracay Island: Heaven On Earth

February 8, 1998 – Happy belated birthday to me! I booked Lorenzo South Resort for a few nights. The allure of crystal blue water, white sand beaches, and an awesome exchange rate was too much to pass on.

First order of priorities: rum and Coke.

There was a lone tiki hut on the beach that most likely would have my beverage of choice. I had budgeted quite bit of money for myself for this trip. I worked many hours of overtime at AAA Express Travel Center, and saved every penny. I still had burn to money, per se. The exchange rate in 1998 was 50 Filipino pesos per 1 US dollar.

It was about to get hectic, y’all.

Bartender: Mabuhay, sir. Welcome to paradise. What beverage would you like?

Me: Rum and coke, please.

Bartender: *pours drink, hands it over* That is 20 pesos.

Me: *fishing out a $20* Ah, yes, here’s 20 USD.

Bartender: I’ll excuse myself one moment to retrieve the change.

Me: Or perhaps we agree on a financial plan instead.

Bartender: Oh? What’s the plan?

Me: Well, if you’re agreeable to it … any time you see me, please bring a rum and Coke. I’ll be here only through the weekend, and I don’t believe I can consume 40 rum and Cokes.

Bartender: I shall keep a tally.

Me: Perfect. Any money left over after my departure is your gratuity. (little did he realize I am planning on tipping him another $20 if he does this crazy plan)

My travel mates, mostly my Dad and sister, were immediately confused by this bartender always bringing me a rum and Coke regardless of the time of day, if I had already OR where I was at!

I would reply with thank you (salamut), and he would answer back with my pleasure. As you can imagine I was always at least buzzed while on Boracay. Now mind you, I was functional but definitely day drinking.

One Night In Boracay … Makes A Hard Guy Humble

On my last night I wanted to treat myself to a nice dinner. My Dad was with his friend, Gordy, Charrina was with Kelly, and I was flying solo. I wandered down the path towards the restaurants along the beach.

A sleepy one beckoned me inside. Imagine a barkeep behind the bar clean the same damn glass, one other patron in the corner, and a ceiling fan that’s really only shoving around the hot, tropical, humid air.

An obligatory karaoke machine was in the corner, which was powered up but no singers. I was kinda half-expecting my bartender to roll up, but he didn’t … or at least as far as I knew.

I sat down at a table, perused the menu, and landed on steak and lobster: 250 pesos! Oh, goodnight. I’m eating good. Then I started with beer. Next shots. Finally, I’m buying beer AND shots for patrons visiting.

The barkeep questioned whether I had the bankroll for this activity, I smiled, I have it.

Needed to flex the Golden Pipes.

I asked how much the karaoke machine was per song. I surveyed the crowd I gathered up, which was at least 2 dozen in my mind’s eye. I slurred my next question, “How much to rent the karaoke machine the rest of the night?”

The barkeep shrugged, “200 pesos, please.”

I fished out 300 pesos, “Got yourself a deal.” I walked up, plugged in Copacabana, and as I finished, I shouted “FREE karaoke all night long! Who’s singing? Who needs another round?”

The Morning After …

I woke up in my own bed at Lorenzo South Resort with my clothes on, my wallet on the night stand, and everything intact. However, I don’t remember how I got here. And I’m definitely hungover.

I dragged myself outta bed to my tiki hut, and my bartender. He was smiling, but didn’t present a rum and Coke. “Hey there. I was at the restaurant but don’t remember how I got back.”

“You were ‘hubog’, sir,” he replied.

“I was what?” I fired back in confusion.

“Drunk, sir,” he almost laughed.

I paused, “How did I get back?”

“Me, sir. I assisted you,” he said through an impish smile.

“Why did you do that?” I’m in a fog.

“To be honest, as you stumbled out of the restaurant I was about to present a rum and Coke but you had too much. You were happy, you had paid the restaurant what was owed, which is owned by my friend. So we escorted you to the room, got you inside, and there you slept,” he explained in full.

“Right. Right,” I acknowledge. “Do you have family?”

“I do, sir,” he replied.

“I’m sorry I’ve kept you from them. How many drinks are tallied?” I inquired.

“Twenty two, sir,” he paused, “do you want your change now? It is your last day, and your boat is on the way.”

I waved the thought away like a mosquito. “No, no, keep the change. In fact, for your troubles, and kindness … *I slapped down another 20 dollar bill*

He refused at first, “No, sir, that’s too much.”

“It’s for your family, it’s my form of saying thank you. Please take it, because whether you do or do not, I’m not walking away from this hut with that.”

He palmed the bill quickly.

I mused, “Boracay Island really is heaven on earth.”

“It is?” the bartender questioned.

“Well, yeah. It’s staffed with at least one angel,” I winked.

‘los; out

I Know Better: Then And Now

I will not forget March 26, 2022 any day soon. The following story could’ve been prevent had I acknowledged any of warning signs I encountered way. I should’ve known better. I definitely know better NOW.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Jami had casually mentioned that I hadn’t been geocaching in a hot-minute. So with a relatively “free” day, I decided to geocache. My sister was still resting at the time I wanted to go, so I went alone.

I know better than to hike, let alone geocache, alone in the woods, but I set out to find the geocache titled: “Fresh Cakes” at Boardman Lake. This was my first mistake amongst a litany of them. Without food, water or a plan, I set out towards Granite Falls, Washington. My only companion was in the passenger seat which was my Geocaching backpack.

That, and my standard personal items: keys, wallet, and iPhone named Blu.

Mountain Loop Highway

This particular stretch of highway has not been kind to me because I attempt to visit during the winter time. For example? This past weekend.

I know better to check the road conditions, and trail reports prior to traveling there. This time I did not. If I had, I probably would’ve chosen to do something different.

When I turned off the Mountain Loop Highway onto Northwest Forest Road 4020 [NF-4020] I was immediately greeted by vehicle-eating-sized potholes. Thankfully my Subaru Outback, that I named the Millennium Subaru, was up to the task.

However, I should’ve known better than to continue …

It was then I realized I hadn’t informed a soul about my whereabouts, or my intentions. I knew better than that.

Google Maps stated it was 4.8 miles to the trailhead (TH) yet 20-minutes to drive it. I thought, “Just how bad is this one-lane, pot-holed, dirt road?”

After Saturday, I can say treacherous and eventually impassable. As I crept along, I kept thinking, “This is ok as long as there’s no snow.”

Then I encountered a snow patch and cardboard about 1.5 miles away from the trailhead parking area. Forensically speaking, a vehicle was stuck here, and needed the traction created by the discarded and destroyed cardboard.

I knew better than to continue, but my ambition started to silence my voice of reason, my Jimmy the Cricket. I cautiously entered the snow with the Millennium and it got stuck. I rocked it the vehicle back and forth – I got free and continued up the mountain!

Another half mile up, I encountered two vehicles: one stuck on the road, the other parked off to the side. I decided to park the Millennium, lest I be stuck too! I managed to turn the Millennium around, park it safely off to the side with the nose pointed down the mountain. I strapped on my backpack, grabbed my survival / emergency metal shovel, and hiked towards them.

A Good Turn Daily

This Eagle Scout can’t casually walk by trouble. I did noticed that the vehicle stuck was a Toyota 4Runner which has a higher ride height than my Subaru. The driver, John, and his girlfriend, came up for the day. The green Jeep belonged to four men camping nearby who were already there to assist. They got stuck last night, so they were forced to camp nearby.

After an hour of effort, the 4Runner was freed!

I know better than to hike in snow

I returned my shovel to my vehicle, which I should’ve know better and hop in and drive off. Nope. I announced my intentions to the campers as I hiked the remaining mile in snow, UPHILL, to the trailhead, and parking lot.

I knew better than to keep digging, my voice of reason is now silent. After I performed my obligatory, Boy Scout, do-a-good-turn-daily, I should’ve turned around and went home. See what I did there?

I didn’t.

I foolishly pressed on. I also realized I no longer have mobile phone service from here. I peered at Blu.

I mused, “I’ll be aiight. It’s .8 miles one-way in snow without snowshoes. I’ll be back before too long.”

Famous. Last. Words.

Boardman Lake Trailhead

Yeesh. Snow and my phones have not been kind friends. I downloaded the offline trail map from the Official Geocaching app. Again, I knew better than to continue to geocache.

Yet I did.

After falling in the snow from my legs plunging into it knee deep several times, I “lost” the snow covered trail about a half-mile in. I had no water, or food, and … I didn’t eat breakfast either. So that started to take it’s toll on my body that is conditioned to eat every 2 hours or so. In fact, my decision making skills were malfunctioning too. I wandered precariously close to a cliff. Using tree saplings as hand holds I scaled the cliff like terrain that was definitely OFF TRAIL.

Finally, I arrived at Boardman Lake but not on the trail. I was closing in on the GZ [Ground Zero] The hint for the geocache described two fallen logs to cross. I spotted them and trudged my way towards them with phone in hand like a lantern. I pocketed Blu in my pants.


The snow “bridge” I stepped on was eroded underneath by water and snow melt. It couldn’t hold my weight, and I fell through like a chute.

My legs splashed into knee-deep, freezing water, as I ricocheted off the rest of the snow. My backpack was hung up and suspending me in the water like a tea bag. I thought, “Oh God, this is my version of 127 Hours!”

I managed to rip myself free, slogged my way back to the trail near the lake. I immediately felt for my phone which was not there. I fruitlessly looked for it. It’s gone. This is the second time I’ve lost a phone to snowy conditions. It’ll probably be found in the spring thaw, if anyone bothers to look for it.

My priorities quickly changed from finding this particular geocache to just finding a way home. Without my phone, I had no hope of finding it, especially since I was still 130 feet away. I knew better than to press my luck …

I Knew Better

I’m living a worst case scenario that I created myself. IF I survive, I thought, I’m gonna be grateful. My legs were cramping up from no water or food – imagine that.

I looked up to the sky to pray, “Mom. Your son is in some trouble. I could really need some help right about now. Just keep me on the trail that’s covered in snow until I find my footprints.”

Bye, Blu

While I was looking up, I noticed I was losing sunlight as well. I galvanized my resolve to return home safely. I used every survival skills that I ever learned, as well as observations on how trails are created.

Praise Jesus! As I trudged along with very little hope, I was cold, wet, tired, hungry, and frankly embarrassed. I found my own boot prints from where I veered off-course. My survival chances increased ten-fold. My boots seemed a little lighter.

On The Road Again

I hiked past the camper again, so I paused to speak with them. I hollered, “I made it to Boardman Lake. I lost my phone, though. If there’s a missing persons report posted for this area, my name is Carlos again.”

They replied, “Carlos. Seahawks jacket, driving the Subaru. Check!”

Thankfully the Millennium Subaru started, and I was able to navigate my way off the mountain without further incident.

Now I must survive the tongue-lashing from my worried loved ones. I know better than to worry folks that are naturally “big-worriers”. Since I’m writing about this story in past tense, you can conclude that I survived that as well.

‘los; out

The Night I Fought Rocket the Raccoon

Anytime I encounter a raccoon themed meme or social media post, I remember the night I fought Rocket the Raccoon before he was famous in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.

That’s RIGHT!

A quick fun fact: In the movie Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, Rocket is referred to as 13 different monikers? One of which was … trash panda.

I digress.

Rocket before he became famous


The leadership of some Boy Scout Troops have: Scout Master, Assistant Scout Master, Senior Patrol Leader, and Assistant Senior Patrol Leader. My Scout Master for Troop 300 was Bill Hecox, and my Dad was the assistant. My Senior Patrol Leader was Tim Hecox, Bill’s son, and I was the assistant.

Generally on Scout hikes the leadership camped in a different site than the rest of the troop, yet nearby. Between the four of us we would share “luxury” items such as instant coffee. By sharing, I meant the weight of those items was even distributed evenly amongst our backpacks.

Bill and Dad’s favorite “luxury” item was coffee such as Folgers. The metal cylinder container (yes, in the old days it was metal) served as a sauce pan / cooking container to boil water.

One particular hike we still had a rather full Folger’s can. My Dad had uncharacteristically left it out on the picnic table before we went to sleep …


I can tell ya 30 years later the ‘best of part of wakin’ up’ isn’t Folgers in my cup!

I have either a small bladder or an active bladder (still do) Sometime that night, I woke up to use the bathroom – the woods, preferably the closest tree. If you’re tent camping or ever been, you know this is a production.

You mentally prepare yourself to leave your warm cocoon of a sleeping bag, strap on boots, and find your flashlight. All the while, not waking up your sleepmate, which was my Dad and he’s a light sleeper.

I unzipped the tent so I can exit. I heard an unusual noise, not associated with the forest. I shined my flashlight towards the source.

My spotlight falls on a raccoon perched on top of the forgotten coffee can!

He had managed to rip open and pry into the plastic top. He stared at me for a half-of-a-second sizing me up. Coffee grounds he had been munching on were falling away from his maw with each slow crunch.

I had interrupted Rocket from his caffeine fix!

I yelled at him in a vain attempt to shoo him away. He casually drop down on the table, then hop down on the bench seating. I hissed at him in another attempt to clear him from our campsite. Before Rocket became famous as a guardian of the galaxy, he was a harden criminal, which I plain forgot.


Suddenly, he charged the tent.

SHIT. SHIT. SHIT, as I fumbled to zip up the tent. Like any American horror film, I franticly tried to close the door before the killer attacks me. As I complete the zip, Rocket crashes against the tent.

My flashlight was illuminating an OVER CAFFEINATED, ANGRY RACCOON. His teeth were bare, and snarling at me. With my free hand, I patted around for anything that to fend him off. I grasped our frying pan. Without hesitation, I smashed my side of the nylon tent but square on his nose.

A dull thud was all I heard once I connected.

That only managed to scared Rocket enough to back away from the door. I’ll be damned if I’m held hostage in my tent especially since I had to pee. I cautiously left my tent with the frying pan and not the flashlight.

I didn’t want my night vision to be wrecked by the flashlight. With a frying pan in hand, I relieved myself.

No sign of a caffeinated raccoon.

The Next Morning

My Dad’s first question, “What the hell was all the racket last night?”

“Oh that?” I answered coyly. “I fought Rocket the Raccoon last night.

‘los; out

Rudderless In Seattle

I find myself in an unusual state: listless. Actually, it’s more accurate to state I’m rudderless in Seattle. After I completed the rehabilitation loan with the “upgrades” to my house in December 2020, I really haven’t had an all-encompassing task that provides direction to my decisions.

In 2021, I attempted to start a small business in a COVID-19 global climate, hoping that the social distancing, mask wearing, and vaccinations would pave the way for a geocaching based business. Caching With Carlos was so GRAND in my head.

I was wrong; very foolish.

Many of our fellow Americans don’t have the disposable income for such activities. They are in survival-mode, per se. In the end, it wasn’t an appropriate, “fuck around and find out” scenarios.

I didn’t even glance at my job for inspiration to be promoted, etc. I don’t wanna work in the first place, so spending more energy on it is senseless.

My Tabula Rasa Day Declaration(s) are somewhat helpful, but not enough to fulfill my mind. So what do I do? Remain rudderless in the sea of indecision or find a compass and map to navigate my way through murky waters?

The last two weeks of December 2021, I started to review my life. I knew I had a letter-to-myself to be opened in February 2022, which I anticipated to be disappointed in myself.

I was seeking out an overriding task and/or activity that would ultimately provide the direction. I combed over my likes, interests, and hobbies (in no particular order)

  • Geocaching / Hiking / Biking / Kayaking
  • Dancing
  • Photography
  • HAM radio
  • Writing
  • Drawing

I’ve already assigned a yearly focus on Geocaching for a couple of years. What I hadn’t done was a singular focus on dance …

Dance My Way Out

Dance, Dance Revolution

I thought about what this year’s focus should be. I landed on dancing (see what I did there?) I joined the dance team West Coast Country Heat in 2020. As COVID-19 ravaged the land, there was only one parade last year: Carnation, WA.

2021 was much like 2020 in terms of parades, county fairs, events and large gatherings of humans – there were none. The thought was the close proximity of many humans would be “super-spreaders” of the disease.

Officials, leaders, and decision-makers seem to be loosening COVID-19 restrictions as we better understand the disease and the vaccine with it’s booster to combat it.

I digress.

I am focused on elevating my dance skill level so I won’t be rudderless in Seattle. I’ll make every effort to attend all performances (intrastate or interstate) It might end up being an all-encompassing behavior, but at least it’ll provide direction to the compass that I have in my head.

Time will tell.

‘los; out

My One One-Night Stand

Ever hear a song that ignites a memory? Perhaps a social media post that involves the game “Never Have I Ever” has your mind rifling through its database of experiences. Well, if you thought the title to my post was confusing, the post itself will be absolutely befuddling!

The question that’ll hang in your head from now on will be, “what happened to Christine”?

Ashley McBryde’s, One Night Standards, played on the radio the other day. As usual, my mind drifted off to relive yet another It’s-Only-Believable-Because-it’s-A-Los story …


Ten years ago, one inconspicuous night in 2012, I was kickin’ it with a bro on a Monday. In fact, if memory serves me, it was his idea for me to post up with him at the grand opening of The RAM Restaurant in Federal Way [established July 23, 2012]

Considering it was a Monday with football invariably on the TVs, I rolled south from my Issaquah apartment to him at the new RAM.

As expected, the place was crackin’! Two bar stools remained open at the end of the bar area, so my bro and I posted up. After ordering beers, and grub, we surveyed the landscape and introduced ourselves to the folks seated near us.

Within a few minutes, my gaze fell upon the opposite side of the ginormous bar area. A fella was seated in-between a blonde and a brunette. According to the noise and banter between them and the bartender, he was sponsoring the drinking.

The blonde caught my gaze to which I just ruefully raised my eyebrow. She bellowed, “Buy me a drink!”

I quipped loud enough to carry across the bar, “Seems like that guy is taking care of that for you!”

She fired back with a casual one-fingered salute, and I retorted with a smile and the same salute.

My bro leaned in, and asks, “Do you need a wingman for this?”

I brush it off, “Nah, not right now.”

We continued to watch football, nosh on bar grub and guzzled beer. Once we finish, pay and start to exit, I went rouge and zoomed over to the blonde.

I approach her, “What’s your name?”

She replies, “Christine. Yours?”

I said, “Carlos. Gonna stay here all night?”

“No,” she said flatly. “I’ll be at the Hitching Post around 9:30 pm. See you there.”

One Night Stand

My bro and I scaled back to his crash pad. He and I started to watch a recorded football game on his DVR. When 9:30 pm rolled around, he asked, “Are you gonna post up at that bar?”

I mused, “Not yet. I’m gonna wait a grip longer.” Indeed, I waited until 10pm before bouncing with the words, “Aiight. Here’s the play. If I crash and burn, I’ll circle back to crash on your couch. If I’m good-to-go, then I’ll call or text so you can lock up and crash for the night. I’ll give ya the deets later.”

The Hitchin’ Post Saloon

I pull into the gravel parking lot. A red Chevy Monte Carlo has the passenger door opened with a leg propping it from the seat. As soon as I parked, and shut my door, Christine emerged from that car.

I casually strolled over to her, and she approached me. Once she was about 5-6 feet away, she leapt at me! I caught her as she wrapped her legs around my waist, and her arms around around my neck.

“Hey there!” she yelled.

“WHOA,” I reacted. “Hey there, yourself,” as I placed down on her own feet.

“I’m gonna finish charging my phone, I’ll meet you inside,” she commanded.

I went inside the saloon’s bathroom. I texted my bro, “It’s on like Donkey Kong! Lock up, I’ll text in the morning.”

Christine and I grabbed a table, drinks and some conversation. There was karaoke that was blaring across the speakers which made it difficult to hear. She had a stream of conscious thinking and dialogue once we sat down.

“I’m a yoga instructor, Carlos,” she told me without me asking. “A 50 year old divorcee after 25 years of marriage and 3 kids. What’s your story?”

“Office job that I don’t enjoy. Divorced as well, no kids, though,” I answered. “I’m gonna sing some karaoke, wanna join me?”

She shook her head ‘no’. If memory serves me still, I performed Rebel Yell by Billy Idol. We finished our round of drinks. I asked, “Should I get more drinks? Or we going back to your place? It must be nearby.”

Her eyebrows furrowed, “How did you know I live nearby?”

I smiled, “C’mon. Monday night, a grand opening of a new joint. You were curious then when that curiosity was satisfied you reverted back to your familiar bar.”

“You’re good,” she acknowledged. “My place, follow me.”

Literally, 5 minutes later we were parked at her house. As she fished her house keys out, she warned me, “My 26 year old sister is sleeping. Don’t leave me for her because she’s younger and more beautiful.”

I thought, “What have I gotten myself into this time?”

She led me through the house to the sliding back door. Once she strolled to the patio of her pool, she started stripping down naked. Without hesitation, she slipped into the pool. Mind you, it’s the dead of night. And if you know anything about sound and water, you know that all sound carries further over water …

“C’mon, Carlos, join me,” she invited.


I mentally checked out, “Fuck it. You only live once, right?” I get naked, and slipped into the shallow end of the pool. DEAR GOD, IT’S NOT A HEATED POOL! I mentally giggled, This is crazy, this is crazy!

She tried to swim off to the deep end, and I pulled her in. We embraced, we kissed. The entire time, I stood on the tips of my toes to ensure my twig and giggle berries do not touch the cold water.

I guided her to the edge of the pool. I bent her over the edge so we can get this done. For some reason, she grabbed the chaise lounge chair legs near her.

IMAGINE THIS SCENE, or more like hear it … two strangers, hooking up in a pool, around midnight. The rhythmic sound of a pool water splashing against the wall in conjunction of metal screeching against the concrete patio.


Thankfully this didn’t last long. Or rather … it didn’t take us long to get what we wanted. She got out of the pool, and got dressed. “I’m hungry. Wanna grab some food?”

I casually answered, “Sure. It’s midnight so let’s hit a 24-hour place.”

“No,” she fired back. “I know of a Mexican restaurant that’s open.” I thought, “What restaurant is gonna be open at midnight on a Monday in Fed Way?”

With her car keys in hand, “Follow me. Try to keep up.”

We jumped into our respective rides, and she led us outta the neighborhood. Once we were on arterial roads, she really picked up speed. My speedometer was approaching 50 mph.

Then it happened.

Christine drove through a red light, and I stopped. I watched her take a fast right turn down a residential street thus disappearing into the night from which she came from.

The light turned green. For a several second pause, I idled. I put the Sapphire Sled into 1st gear, turned left for a U-turn as a Cheshire, shit-eating-grin slowly appeared on my face as I point my car homeward.

We didn’t even exchange phone numbers. That’s my one one-nightstand, Spaceship Earth.

los; out.

Hazy Shade of Winter

Every time I’m introduced into a new group (or person) I know it’ll take time for them to get to know me and vice versa. My Dad always told me, “that people will not talk with you if they don’t like you. Time is a precious commodity that people won’t waste it on unwanted activity or people.”

That really resonated with me since I’m a people person, per se. Especially regarding time being wasted as I’ve already posted my thoughts about that.

They especially wouldn’t haze you if you’re not welcomed into the group as there’s a difference between that and bullying. And that difference is based on intent. So when I joined the Costco Woodinville a year ago that reminded me of my hazy shade of winter

Winter 2002

My story of hazing starts in the winter of 2002 at Costco Travel. I cleared the probationary 90 day challenge months ago, which I issued a challenge to the hiring manager. Costco Travel was experiencing a tremendous amount of growth, therefore shuffling of cubicle desks was a monthly, if not weekly, occurrence.

One move placed me near the Vacation Package Agents, and somewhat separated from the Cruise Department which I was a Cruise Reservation Agent. There was no animosity however playful banter between the two departments was palatable.

One particular agent was Chris McClain Simmons who was very enigmatic.

For all tense and purpose he followed none of the rules; written and unwritten. His desk was an absolute mess with stacks of papers, disheveled items and pictures of him posted throughout the cramped space. Completely opposite of me.

Whenever we engaged in conversation it seemed like he was #throwingshade at me. Even his emailed movie trivia was a sharp-tongued reply to my correct answers. I started to be offended by this man who seemed to be above the law, loud and proud, and simply operated on the only mood he cared for – rogue.

Towards the end of his tenure at Costco Travel, and towards the end of his life, he coaxed me over to his cubicle.

He wryly asked me, “Hey Los, do you like me?”

I grimaced at the question, “Of course. Why would you need to ask?”

He removes an object from underneath a pile of papers, and presents it to me, “Here. Take this.”

I accepted his gift, and examined it. It’s a 2-inch, by 1-inch, by 1/2 inch blue box with the words Austin Powers emblazoned on it with Mike Myer’s face on it. After pausing, I ask, “What’s this? A sound box?”

“As a matter of fact, yes it is. Press the button down,” he commanded.

I did so, and “Yeah, baby, yeah!” emanated out of the box. I chuckled a little. “Classic McClain.”

He smiles as he knows I accepted his gift he bequeathed me. “Anytime you miss me, you press this button, ” he points down to Austin Powers face, “Just like I press your buttons!” He punctuates it with a forced laugh.

Together Forever in a Hazy Shade of Winter

He died shortly after our interaction.

I liked that guy. The younger McClain was pretty damn good looking, too. I dare say he had a likeness of Robert Redford. And the older version that I knew, had a likeness to Austin Powers, the International Man of Mystery.

After his death, I discovered he didn’t talk to many other co-workers, let alone haze them / give them a razing like he did to me. It became explicit that he did like me, which dispelled my hazy shade of winter (the song explains he’s unsure about his life accomplishments)

In an odd way, a McClain way, he showed his appreciation for me, by hazing me in a good natured way, and never malicious.

So any time I feel like I’m getting razzed by someone or a group, I smile and know it’s because they wanna be around me, and that I should allow myself to razz them back. Just remember, if they don’t like you, they won’t haze you, let alone talk with you.

So Seattle, and Spaceship Earth, have you been hazed once you’ve joined a new group? If so, how bad was it? Until next week, be good like you should, and if you can’t be good, be good at what you do!

Mic drop *bOoM*

los; out

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