Thursday, July 27, 2006

My father

I can tell loads of stories about my father. Actually, I often think there are enough stories and characters in my family to write a book one day. But today I felt like writing about my father. Basically, he is a weirdo. But he is a lovable weirdo.

Here are a few examples.

The Supermarket: My father was shopping with my mother at the supermarket. When they were in the produce section, my father observed a women buying mushrooms. But she was removing all the stems, and only taking the caps. Many supermarkets sell the better parts of produce for an increased price. For example, you can buy broccoli florets at a higher price per pound, than the whole broccoli pieces. And the same is true of mushrooms, but this supermarket only sold the whole mushrooms.

Anyhoo, my mother didn't really notice anything, only that my father rushed to be in the check-out line behind this lady. And when the cashier went to weigh the mushroom caps, my father quipped up: “this belongs to that” and handed the cashier a plastic bag with the collected stems. The lady was incredulous and probably called my father some nasty name, but the cashier was smiling, took the bag, weighed it too and charged her for the weight of the stems. I love that story.

The Airplane: My father was on a longer flight, and was seated in front of a young child. The child was kicking the back of his seat. My father has four children himself, so he is not totally ignorant of how children behave on long flights and he would be tolerant of the inevitable bumping that accidentally happens. A little bumping would have been okay, but the child was actually kicking the back of the seat on purpose. So he turned around and asked the parent to make the child stop. So, the kicking stopped...only to start up again a few minutes later. So once again, my father turned around and asked again. Once again, it only worked for a few minutes. So, my father got up, and walked two rows behind his row, and asked the passenger sitting behind the parent after explaining the situation, if he might be able to sit in his seat for a few minutes. The passenger obliged. And my father proceeded to kick the seat of the parent. My father returned to his seat, and magically the child kicked no longer. I think the parent probably thought my father was psychotic (a diagnosis us children have often made), but whatever they thought, it had the desired effect and my father enjoyed the rest of his flight in peace.

There was another story from a few years ago. I was driving home with my brother, and just before reaching our house, we were blocked by a garbage truck. We saw a Hispanic guy sitting on the curb, and two police cars were there. And we were trying to figure out what was happening. And then we saw it: they were loading his trolley into the garbage truck and destroying it. My brother and I just watched in silence, both in shocked outrage.

For those not living in the San Fernando Valley, a little background might be needed. There are a lot of illegal street vendors. It is practically a cultural thing. Many people come from countries where street vending doesn't require a load of permits and health inspections, etc. I often buy fruit from the Frutas man: he will come along with a shopping basket filled with fruits, and he will even prepare mango on a stick for you: peel a mango, poke a chopstick through it, and douse it with lime and a paprika powder. This is done all right in front of you, and he hands it to you for a $1 or $1.50. Yummy. But nevertheless illegal, because they don't have a sales permit.
But to be able to get a sales permit for such an “establishment” it would almost be prohibitive in the costs. I know a German whose wife was Thai, and she was thinking of opening a stand like that here in Germany. And when her husband went to the official departments to get permission, he was informed that his wife's establishment would need among other things: a toilet. Considering she wanted to sell from her bike, this wasn't going to happen. So she dropped the idea.

And this is the same in the States. In my opinion this is different from illegal hawkers of counterfeit products. These are entrepreneurs earning money, and putting a lot of work into it. They aren't paying income taxes, but they are working, and I really think that is a positive. Earning money this way isn't easy. But Los Angeles has a zero tolerance policy with illegal vendors. Their wares are just confiscated and destroyed. But I don't think the vendors are changed.

This particular vendor had a cart made out of plywood, obviously homemade. And I almost wanted to cry when I saw the police just dump this guy's livelihood into the dump truck. He was just sitting on the curb with a distraught look.

The garbage truck drove away and my brother and I were able to drive past and go home.
My brother dropped me off, and a few minutes later my father came home. And I described the scene to him. And I was all worked up, I couldn't believe that in Los Angeles it took 2 squad cars to dispose of a vendor's cart. The Los Angeles of carjacking, drive-by shooting, and methlabs galore. But oh, no, the police were going after street food vendors. And my father was just nodding and agreeing with me. But was distracted with something else. But I couldn't let go of it. And finally he looked up, and said: “what, you wanna do something about it?” And I said, yes, I wanted to go talk to those police and give them a piece of my mind. So he said, “okay, let's go.” So we got into the car and drove back to where it had happened. But they had already gone. But I thought it was cool that my father backed me up, and encouraged me to go say something.
I often wonder what I would have said, because obviously, the police aren't at fault for the legislation passed. But I just wish they wouldn't be so vigilant about enforcing the illegal street vendor ban, and would focus more on actual crime.


Blogger airforcewife said...

Those are great stories. But you didn't put the one about the computer in the refrigerator!

3:48 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

That whole airplane thing... although he's never done it, I honestly believe that my dad would have done the exact same thing; no shame has that man. I, meanwhile, would have hidden under a blanket and tried to not laugh at the scene my family was making.

Yay for cool dads!

4:14 PM  
Blogger Stacy Kaye said...

I love those stories about your dad! I love how he shows people instead of just complaining to them. It's wonderful!

12:19 AM  
Blogger bee said...

What great stories about your father, our dads sound a lot alike!
And kudos to both you and your dad for standing up for something!

6:02 AM  
Blogger Elderchang said...

These stories brought a smile to my face. Props to Dad!

8:04 PM  
Blogger leah said...

I love your stories. I have to add that there is probably more to the law about street vendors and the purpose behind it. Safety to the public would be a huge one that would come to mind. By making people register for sales tax permits and I would hope some kind of health certificate when it comes to edibles, makes them trackable if something should go awry. I don't think you would be willing to eat at a Burger King or McDs if you were aware that they were able to by-pass the safety standards by bribing some official. And I wonder if that would be considered "a real crime" when stacked against drive by shootings and drug trafficking.
I'm not writing this to minimize what you must of felt seeing that man's face while he went through that experience. I would have felt the same. I am merely trying to point out that the police in this situation is not the oppressor and it shouldn't be in their discretion to pick and chose which laws to enforce. It would be better to question the law to those that make the laws.

7:35 PM  
Blogger CaliValleyGirl said...

Hey Leah,
Yes, I totally agree with you about not seeing the police as the a soldier's gf that is an argument near and dear to my heart...however, 2 squad cars for one food vendor? That is a little overreaction for me. But I definitely agree with you that to change a law, you have to go to the legislation level and not the enforcement level.
Also, my reasoning was less to do with seeing the guy's disappointment and more along the lines that some things are over-regulated. I would wish that entrepreneurs were given encouragment. I believe that McDonalds and Burger King should be regulated, but that lemonade stands, bakes sales and other smaller endeavours shouldn't be made to have a three hole sink, and whatever other demands.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Valley Girl said...

I love love love the crap out of this post. Really makes me want to shake your dad's hand. Isn't it great having a great dad? He might not always be perfect or do the perfectly right thing all the time, but the man has SOUL.

2:00 AM  
Blogger toothfairy72 said...

I loved reading those stories about your Dad. Sounds like he is a man with great character, and you gotta love a Dad like that!

Ein Hoch auf deinen Vater!

10:03 PM  
Blogger MQ said...

Well, I grew up without a dad, so I loved your stories :)

6:08 AM  

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