Thursday, January 28, 2010

Big John Vs. Wal-Mart

I recently recalled a tragic moment from my college days. The memory was sparked when I recently read an article about returning items to the store after you realize that you don't need it.

Let me give you a little background about this story. When I was in college, my senior year at IWU I hosted a show on the campus station. Now being a Christian college that was what they "prefered" you play. Now, me being the country fan that I am, I talked it over with my professors and we came to an agreement. If I stuck with country music that didn't mention cheatin, or drink they said it would be ok. Now, I know what you are thinking. It must have been difficult to compile a playlist that would fit the critiria. But with the massive knowledge of country I possessed even at point in my radio career, I made it work.

This being said, the campus station only had Christian music. So all the music I played during my 3 hour shift once a week had to be provided by myself. Needless to say I spent a lot of money buying music as to not repeat the same music every week. This led to my tragic experiance at the local Wal-Mart.

I wondered into the music section, trying to see what was worth the money a college student could afford to spend. Alas, I compilation album containing 12 current hits that were not in my collection. "Drew's Famous Country Radio's Most Requested." A goldmine to a poor college radio jock that had to provide his own music. I snatched it up so quick and raced to the registers. The purchase was quick and simple. I hopped into my car and sped back to my dorm room to listen to this piece of country music gold.

Upon returning home I poped the new CD into my CD player. Savoring the taste of sweet shopping success. As track one starts I listen to the musical intro...

Something is wrong.

That doesn't sound like the original. I continue to listening.

The singer starts. That is not Faith Hill. I am truly puzzled. Maybe it is bad recording. I skip to track 2. Again the music is slightly different. Hmmmm. What has gone wrong with my musical senses? Could it be my CD player? No, it couldn't be. Well to make a long story a little shorter, the CD was not the original artists. My blood boiled. I promptly ejected the cd, wanting to throw it against the wall. But I knew that good ol' Sam Walton would not let me down. I gently put the CD back in the case, not to scatch it so I can return it and get my money back.

Geting back in the car I make the return trip the Mecca of good deals. Walkin' into Wal-Mart, I am welcomed by the greeter who puts that stupid little sticker that goes on all returns on the case of this disgrace to country music. Walkin to customer service I am pondering in my mind which of the other CD I would get in return for this recent mishap. No line, wonderful. Right to the return process. This is how the conversation went. Now, it was over 7 years ago, so I will try to remember to the best of my ability.

"May I help you?"

"Yes, I need to return this CD. It is not the original artists, and I need to use it at a radio station. It is no good to me!"

"Sir, once a CD has been opened, we can not take it as a return."

"But you don't understand. No where on the CD does it say 'Not the Original Artists.' How can I play this on the air?"

"Sir, there is nothing I can do. Our policy is once a cd has been unwrapped we can not give you a money return. You could have copied it.We can replace it with the same CD, but that is all we can do."

"I didn't have time to copy it!" I pull out the my receipt and my drivers license. "This show what time I bought this piece of junk, and where I live. Look at your watch. I didn't have time to copy it!" (This was before the age of really fast CD burners)

"Sir this is our store policy. There is nothing I can do."

"THAT IS RIDICULOUS!!!! Let me talk to your manager"

Yes, I pulled out the let me talk to your manager. Hoping my volume would get the attention of others. Some people did turn and look, and with the time I was taking a small line had formed at Customer "Dis-Service". The Manager arrives and asks what the problem is. The Associate behind the counter begins to tell the story, saying how I am being disrespectful. I jump in giving my side of the story calmly as I had before. The Manager starts to quote company policy. Saying how they can not refund my money, can not exchange it for a different Cd. The only thing they can do is give me another copy of the same CD.


"Sir, please keep the volume down. There is nothing we can do."


"Sir calm down or we will ask you to leave." I notice the original associate on the phone now.


At this point I see an off duty police officer approaching behind me. Considering the options I knew there was nothing I can do. I make one more attempt.

"All I want is my Money, or a different CD. Why is that so hard to understand? I can't use this!"


Well, the battle was over. I could walk out now on my own, or be escorted out with a new pair of shiny silver braclets. I choose not to get arrested for a meager $8.49. I was defeated. I scooped up my worthless CD and made my way to the door. But I did get my one parting shot that I am still proud of to this day. Before leaving the Customer Service Dept( with the cop right on my heels) I turn to the manager, and look him straight in the eye and yell at the top of my lungs,


So what ever happend to this CD? It is still in my collection. Do I ever play it? NO. But it always sparks great memories as I took on Corperate America....and lost.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Trompin' through the woods

I grew up in the country. And when I say country, we were so far out, we had to head towards town to hunt. OK, not really that far, but that is one of my favorite sayings. Anyway, being from the country, I feel right at home in the woods. Behind my parents house is a 10 acre woods. It is connected to three other woods. This past Sunday, it warmed up a bit. So I told my wife that after church, I was going to take my Muck Boots and go back in the woods.

So after church we head to my mom and dad's....which we do at least every other Sunday. We have lunch, and just like when I was a kid, I rushed out the door, and headed for the woods. I crossed the bridge over the creek, headed up the hill and went up and down the trails I remembered so well.

I saw the tree I use to lay in and read when I was a kid...

I had a ladder (that has since rotted away) propped up against it, and it was my quiet place to just hang out.

From their I headed farther into the woods. Found the swamp...

This area of the woods is constantly wet. So there were nice patches of ice for me to slide all around on. My trek through the woods also let me to find all kinds of fun pictures. Here are a few more for you!

But I also found two really cool things while back in the woods. First I tree that had a complete wind block still had its leaves, and they were almost white!

And then on the way back to the house, after I was tired from all the walking, I came across an old garbage dump. After all these years of playing in this woods, I don't remember ever seeing this. When I say old, these bottles had to be at least 40 years old. Really cool.

I found a few that hadn't been broken. An old Ball jar, a blue glass jar (they don't make blue glass that much any more) and even an old turpentine bottle. A really cool find.

Anyway, this is how I like to relax from my life in headphones.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Meeting Larry Gatlin, and a nice surprise.

So a couple of months ago I got a call from the Honeywell Center to do an interview with Larry Gatlin. He was set to do a show. Now let me start by saying I grew up hearing my mom sing Gatlin Brother songs. All the Gold in California, Broken Lady, Midnight Choir...So many great songs. Needless to say I was a little nervous.

So I am in the studio will all my prep, and questions set for his call into the studio. Now I pre-record these things so I can go back and put the songs in afterwards. It makes it go a little faster and makes it better for the artist.

Right on time the phone rings...
Me: WCJC, this is John, can I help you.
Larry: Big John...Big John, Big Bad John (singing the Jimmy Dean Song)
Me: I have to admit, I am a little nervous to talk to ya...
Larry: Well ya should be, I'm pretty famous. Then he started laughing!

So we talk about how I want to do the interview. And we get started.

Let me just say he was a joy to interview. We talked about some his biggest hits. We talked about new music. We talked about the upcoming concert. But what happened near the end of the interview really surprised me.

We were in the break between interview segments, where I was going to later insert the song. He then asked me about the song he was singing to start the interview. Big Bad John by Jimmy Dean. What I didn't know was that Larry got his start working with Jimmy in Las Vegas. He was telling me all this, and then he tells me how he goes and sees Jimmy a couple times a year. He asked me if we could talk about that a little bit and play the song.

Now this came as a shock to me. The reason being, this interview was suppose to be about Larry and his concert, but he goes on to tell me that Jimmy lives up in his cabin in West Virgina, and Larry said that he feels like everyone forgot him. So I go along, and Larry and I start talking about Jimmy and that great song that I grew up listening to. So we play the song, and Larry is so excited. He tells me that he needs a copy of the interview so he can take it to Jimmy this spring. It was amazing how he wasn't thinking of himself, but instead of an old friend. He told me that I just made an old man's day!

He then asked me if I was coming to the show. I thought wow that would be great! He wanted to meet me and get the CD of the interview. So I tell him that I could use a pair of tickets, with meet and greet passes. I am so excited. I get home and my wife, with not a lot of enthusiasm says..."ohhh, great." I can tell she really didn't want to go. So I call my mom, if will remember from the beginning use to sing the Gatlin's all the time when I was a kid. So I invite her for the show. We had a wonderful time, and as you can see, we got to meet the Gatlins, which my mom thought was really cool. But for me, it was just another day of my "Life in Headphones."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Butting Heads with my One Year Old

Let me first say, sorry it has been so long for a post. Who knew that raising a baby would take away all your ability to have a cyber-life.

Well back in December Eli celebrated his 1st Birthday
So he really loved that cake.

We have a nightly ritual that we do. I will be sitting in the big round chair, (see earlier post about the furniture if you want to see what I am talking about) and I will take my glasses off and I will get down on the floor and play with Eli. We wrestle, tickle, give kisses and all the fun you can have with a little boy. We usually get tired and climb back in the chair. Well, if you kiss Eli on the cheek he will keep coming back for more. Again and again and again. So, he is laying on my chest. I kiss him on the forehead. Sarah askes me a question, so I look away. That was my mistake. He came in for another kiss on the forehead. Instead he came in really hard. I got the full effect of his headbutt. Right in the lower eye socket...

This is the first black eye of my life.

Any time anyone asks what happened, I tell them I am training to be a cage know like UFC. No one seems to believe me.

On a funny note. My boss assured me that this may be the first, but will not be the last time I butt heads with my son. So it goes in my "Life in Headphones."