Well, I took my cousin Nick to Salem yesterday. Nothing like spending the entire day watching someone else have fun!!! He has gone without so many things for so many years it was so delightful just watching him. Our first stop was to pick up our friend Pam, who lives in Salem. Her husband John (who passed away a year and half ago) didn't get to see how his hard work turned out. He was responsible for Nick even realizing he was eligible for VA medical care. (Of course he was eligible, he served in the army for 12 years, and served in Vietnam.) Up until we had made arrangements to meet John and Pam in Portland at the VA about three years ago, Nick had no idea how to do or who to see to get his medical care paid for. He is diabetic, has many health issues, and had no medical care after a job ended. John walked him through all the tangles of red tape and helped him get familiar with what was expected and what to expect at the VA. Nick said it was only fair to bring Pam along for the fun, and pay a bit of tribute to John in that way.
Our next stop was to go get Nick's new Military ID card. It shows him as “active” military retired, 100% disabled, but with all the rights and privileges of active military, like PX access, etc. It was funny to figure out where we were going to get it. I asked Nick what the instructions said. He told me the cross streets, and I knew exactly the corner they told him it was on. He said it was an Oregon State building, which confused me since it was a military ID. He said it was called the Anderson Readiness Center. So we went to the corner it was supposed to be on. I said, I'll bet it is part of the big buildings surrounded by the chain link fence. He said, I think it is a State office. I asked him why he thought the state would be responsible for issuing a federal government ID card. He said he had no idea but that was what they told him. NOT. It was the place behind the chain link fence. The Oregon National Guard, Donald N. Anderson Readiness Center. (The part I was looking for was the Readiness Center, of course it was in small print at the bottom of the sign.) We drove up to a gate guarded by a really handsome young military man who checked out ID and told us where to drive, park and what office it was in. We passed along a narrow road past all sorts of military vehicles, and parked right outside the door to a huge brick building with an array of antennas on the top the likes of which could get reception from the moon. It was probably about an hour before he was done there. His local Vet rep had neglected to tell him he would need a copy of his discharge papers, so they had to have the Vet rep's office fax a copy of his DD214. They had also neglected to tell him he needed two forms of ID, fortunately he had them. Pam and I waited in the car and sat outside for a bit just watching all the cute young hunks parade past. There were a few closer to our age, too. Nice wait. We had a chance to chat and catch up a bit.
The next place we headed was a great restaurant called Sybil's. They have about a million types of omelets, tons of different sandwiches, hotcakes, everything breakfast and lunch you can imagine, and we go there for one thing: biscuits and gravy. Their biscuits are about the size of a “Whopper” and you get two with a soup bowl full of sausage gravy for $5.50. What a fantastic deal!!! Nick and Pam and I each saved one biscuit for later consumption. We were stuffed.
So on we went to our next destination: Walmart. Nick said there were a couple of specific things he was looking for and if he found anything else he wanted it was coming along, too. He bought new undies, some pretty new towels, new curtains for his bathroom, new T-Fal non-stick pans (his brother Marty cooks breakfast and always complains because the frying pan was not non-stick), new pillows, velcro, and a nice pancake turner.
Then we headed out to try to find a DirecTV store. I don't think there is such a thing in Salem, or if there is the stupid (and I really mean STUPID) call center employees you get at any DirecTV number you dial don't know where it is and have no information that does not relate to selling you their services. We gave up after I yelled at the lady on the phone after she had given Nick the runaround for at least five minutes and still not answered anything he asked her.
Our next stop was Lancaster Mall and the Burlington Coat Factory. Nick said he wanted a new winter coat and a new robe. We were wandering around looking at the robes, but just like at Walmart there were only one-size-fits-most robes, which only fit people under 200 lbs. He found a great coat in a “suede” finish it is kind of light colored, but very different, and it looks great on him. Then we sat in the mall and drank diet sodas and chatted for a while. Traipsed back into the store to find a restroom, and headed off in search of a place that would actually have a robe to fit. We found the Casual Male XL store a couple of blocks away and they had an entire rack of really great robes in a wide variety of colors. We helped him choose a beautiful dark blue plush robe in the tall sizes so it is a bit longer and has an inside tie to keep the robe closed so he can walk the dog in his undies if he wants to.
The next store we visited was a video store that used to be called Music Millenium. I have no idea what it is now, but they had buy three used DVDs get one free, and Nick is a DVD addict of the first order. He bought the sets he needed to finish out his Stargate: SG1 series, most of the That 70's Show series, and a variety of other movies. How fun is that!! They even gave him one of the series sets as his basic DVDs free one. Nice shop.
We then headed to Big Lots in search of shampoo, deodorant, and a few basics. We were probably there about ½ hour and knew dinner was our next destination.
We got to Hometown Buffet about 8 pm, and enjoyed a relaxing dinner, getting Pam back home around 9:30. The drive home went quickly and I spent about ½ hour with him before heading home. I pulled in my driveway at 11:35. Wow, long day. But you know what? It was sooooo worth it. Just the look of delight on his face was worth the price of admission.
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