Posts Tagged ‘rant’

If you didn’t live in central Pennsylvania in the last forty years, you may not know what a “bank button” is, or more specifically, what a “Penn State Bank Button” is.GettheGoat

It all started in 1972, when Central Counties Bank issued buttons in support of Penn State football with a weekly slogan to match their opponent.  The first button was simple and said, Get the Goat.  (Penn State played Navy, whose mascot is a goat, in case you are not college football savvy.)

The style changed slightly over the years, so that this is what it looked like 10 years later, when Penn State beat Nebraska en route to Joe Paterno’s first national championship.


Over the years, things slowly changed.  Central Counties Bank became Mellon Bank.  Mellon Bank became Citizen’s Bank.

The slogans evolved from simple two and three word phrases to more creative slogans as Sleepless in Ann Arbor (Michigan 1994, playing off the movie title Sleepless in Seattle,) Driving Mich Crazy (again, Michigan in 1997, playing on Driving Miss Daisy,) and Don’t it Make Your Buckeyes Blue (Ohio State in 1999 off the song with brown eyes blue.)  You can see the entire list of buttons ever made here.

But I’m not here to critique the slogans.

If you don’t know already, I am a Penn State fan, bleeding blue and white.  When we returned to Pennsylvania in 1994 after graduating from my residency program, we were faced with having to choose a bank.

Sure, I could have researched who had the best interest rates.  Or who has the most convenient ATM locations.  Or used any number of other pertinent criteria to choose the right bank for my personal accounts.

In the end, I chose Mellon Bank . . . BECAUSE THEY PRODUCED THE PENN STATE GAME BUTTONS.  I kid you not.

Been a customer ever since, even though the name changed to Citizen’s Bank.  Not a problem for me.  They still make the buttons.

Since 1994, I have always had a good relationship with my bank.  I am a good customer.  They may not pay me as much interest on my savings account as someone else, but come August, I could always count on getting a stash of the season’s game buttons.  It was like Christmas in September!

Someone at the bank–and we have moved since 1994 to another city–and a couple of branch offices have closed over the years–but someone always set aside a quantity of buttons for each game and I would pick them up before the season.  Most years they gave me an entire plastic sleeve (20 some buttons) for each game before the season started.  During the season, I would distribute the appropriate button to friends, relatives, fans, and my co-workers and employees the Wednesday before each game.  I never gave them out early to spoil the surprise, and I never charged anyone for the service.  It was a wonderful system that worked well for all parties involved.

Until this year.

When I called to arrange picking up my buttons, I was told they couldn’t do that any more.  There was a “MEMO.”  From “Corporate.”  Apparently, access to game buttons is now being regulated by the NSA.  It is frowned upon in their establishment.

Now let me tell you how this whole thing works.

The Wednesday before a given game, someone at the bank puts the buttons in a basket on the counter for patrons to take.  The button has the Bank’s name on it, so it is essentially free advertising for the institution.  If you have ever been to a Penn State game, you can see a lot of people wearing these buttons.  A fair number of dedicated fans “collect” the buttons, displaying them in various ways.




You do not have to be a bank patron to take a button.  They are free.  You can take as many as you want.  They won’t give me the season ahead of time, but I could dump the whole basket in my pocket and walk out if I so chose.  (I haven’t, but I do take a sizable handful because a lot of people want these buttons and have become dependent on me for their fix.  I had to go back to the bank today because I was short and one of our techs in the office didn’t get a button.)

The bank informs me that I can get a complete set by mailing a check for $10.00 to the bank.

Ah, the plot thickens.

That’s a set of one button per game.  Let’s see, 20 sets?  $200?  And I give them away free?  I don’t think so.  They want my business AND they want to charge me for advertising for them!

Company policy.

Is it company policy, then, to alienate a dedicated customer like this?  Now I have to make 12 trips to the bank in 3 months (I usually go once a month, and that is only because my paycheck exceeds the amount that can be deposited by their mobile app, or I wouldn’t even go then.)  As a surgeon, it is not always convenient for me to drop by the bank during the week.  And since I’m still getting handfuls of buttons (which I don’t get paid to distribute) each week, what difference would it make if my bank helped me out a little.  I suppose I should be thankful they don’t limit the buttons to one per customer!

It’s not like a convenience store or grocery, where a free coupon might draw other business while I’m in there shopping.  I’m not likely going to stop by and pick up a button and say, “oooh, that is a great rate on a loan.  Can I get one today?  Or how about giving me two of those Certificates of Deposit over there.”  Forcing me to enter the bank doesn’t generate any more business.  But the advertising might.  Isn’t that why they are still doing it?

I see a lot of people during the day, and have frequently fielded questions about the button.  One of the most famous was Forrest Thump.  Think about it.  It’s a play on Forrest Gump.  Penn State played Indiana State.  Their mascot is a tree–the sycamores.  Trees=forest=Forrest.  Tree falls–thump.  Team falls–thump.  It’s probably a little too complicated for a fan button, but it generated a lot of questions.  And that’s a lot of eyes looking at the Citizen’s Bank logo.

I’d close my accounts and switch banks as a protest if it wasn’t so much trouble.  But I think about doing that every week when I grab my handfuls of buttons which should already be in my desk ready for distribution.  I’m starting to hate my bank.

But alas, I still wear the buttons, because at the heart of it all, I am a Penn State fan.

I want the buttons.

I need the buttons.

I just wish my bank would stop pushing my buttons!

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Move over Steinbeck, I have a few words of my own.

It is probably–at least partially–my own fault for having faith in a little varmint from Punxsutawney.  The little rodent predicted an early spring this year.  Let’s be perfectly honest here . . . Phil has as much chance of correctly predicting the weather as the guys with degrees in meteorology and millions of dollars worth of radar equipment.  And Phil does it for free.

And I desperately wanted the worthless little furball to be right this time.


You see, I hate winter.

Winter comes with all the predictability and compassion of an unwanted season.  It is the last primordial vestige of the Ice Age (perhaps the only era in history worse than the Dark Age of Middle Age) and an annual reminder that Mother Nature can be less than a lady.

I do not like winter.  I like it not one little bit.  I do not like the cold.  I do not like it here or there.  I do not like it anywhere.  Wait a minute.  Strike that.  I do like winter in Hawaii.  But I digress.

I do not ice skate.  I do not ski—the thought of hurdling down the side of the mountain on a couple of bed slats doesn’t appeal to me somehow.  And don’t even have the gall to ask about cross-country skiing—that’s just stupid.  Why would any sane individual strap boards to their feet to walk from here to there?  I don’t fish in good weather, so ice fishing would be even more stupid than it sounds.  I used to sled as a kid, but as an adult, the hill going down has gotten far too short, and the hill going back up has gotten far too high.  I’m having angina just typing about it.  Excuse me, it was just gas.

So tonight it is snowing again.  The ground is white.  Some idiots would call it a winter wonderland . . . please!  This is Hell and it is freezing over.

Snow serves no useful purpose.  Rain at least waters things.  Life could not exist without rain.  Even plants in a desert have to get some water eventually.  But nothing grows in snow.  Look at a picture of Antarctica or the North Pole.  Or my backyard.  There is no moss on glaciers.  Ice kills.  No one in America besides me knows how to drive a car anyway.  You take your life into your hands just driving on a sunny day with a visibility of five miles.  Throw in a white-out and some slush in the passing lane and you’ve got a concoction that would make Dr. Kevorkian smile.

And after it snows, we have to move it.  We have to shovel it off our walks.  It snows again.  We shovel again–hoo what fun!   We’re like modern day Sisyphus’s shoveling, blowing and plowing as the snow continues falling, blowing, and cloning before we’ve even finished.  And then that jerk with the snowplow comes along and shoves more in my driveway before I even get back in the house.  He knows I love winter.  He knows I just love being in the great outdoors.  He knows when we are sleeping, and he knows when we’ve just cleared the end of our driveways.  He’s a moron and I may kill him if I get the chance.

No one calls this FUN!

No one calls this FUN!

Have you noticed that they never complain about global warming in the winter?

And deep inside my head, one of those many voices calls out.  “Why don’t you move south you idiot?”

I ponder this but momentarily.  This is my home and I will defend it from the elements for as long as I live, or until I retire, whichever comes first.  I do fear that I will die with a snow shovel in my cold, dead grip.

I have no more sense than a lemming and fewer cents in my pocket.

Why build a home in a flood plain?  Poor planning.

What causes food poisoning?  Home canning.

What’s worse than nails drug across a chalkboard?  Anything sung by Carol Channing.

Where am I going with this?

I do not know.  But I have miles to go and snow to throw.

All work and no play make me a dull boy.

All work and no play make me a dull boy.


All work and no play make me a dull boy—a dull boy, discontent with winter.

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Today we went to a Christmas parade in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania.  Why you may ask?  I don’t know for sure, but if you think of a good reason, let me know.

Oh wait!  My daughter was marching with the St. Francis Marching Band, and they were performing in the parade.

I’m still not exactly sure why I was there.  I mean, it’s not like she can’t march without me being there.  I’m pretty sure she can march and chew gum at the same time, so my presence would be superfluous.

So we left the comforts of Hollidaysburg and headed up the face of Mount Crumpit to see a Christmas parade.

Now I am not a big fan of parades to begin with.  Basically, it is a convention of rude people.  I absolutely refuse to watch a parade in Disney World.  People start claiming their territory like two hours before the parade, because God forbid someone’s kid isn’t close enough to actually get run over by Mickey.  There are actually guidelines to watching a Disney parade . . .

Don’t – Arrive just before the parade starts and expect to find a good viewing location. “Excuse me, pardon me.  Ouch!  Look out, would ya!”  Nobody likes a party crasher.  You can expect these kinds of reactions if you get to the parade route when it starts and try to improve your view.  The guests who arrived early won’t appreciate it and may have a choice word or two for you.  Save yourself the embarrassment and plan accordingly.

In Hollidaysburg, people start putting out chairs early the morning of a parade, much like this town below.


I have always thought that leaving unattended chairs to save a place is the height of rudeness.  If someone–at least one person–is there, then I can understand it, as long as that one person isn’t reserving half the block.  If you want to wait in line to be first, fine.  Then WAIT.  Don’t send a chair in your place!  And I am apparently not alone in my disdain for people who reserve “their space” hours ahead of time with empty chairs, as the town of Canonsburg, Pa. considered a ban to the practice . . .

A western Pennsylvania borough council is set to vote on a compromise policy to solve concerns about people who put out curbside chairs to reserve seats for the borough’s popular Fourth of July parade.

The issue has come to a head in Canonsburg because some people have put up chairs to save their seats nearly two weeks in advance. Some folks tether the chairs together with rope or chains, or link them to utility poles. That can block access to sidewalks and causes other problems when the chairs blow over in stormy weather.

Officials don’t want to ban the practice entirely because the chair-placing has become an event unto itself, with many residents decorating their chairs in a festive way.

TWO WEEKS???!!! Seriously?  Chair decorating?  And this makes the practice less rude?

But that was not a problem in Ebensburg.  We brought our own folding chairs, but I don’t think anyone else on the street we were on brought their own chairs.  And the street didn’t start to get crowded until about ten minutes before the parade began.  I’m not sure Ebensburg ever gets crowded.  But we had gotten there early, set up our chairs next to the curb–because you just know if you set them further back, some ***** will stand in front of you.  And we actually sat in the chairs instead of using them to keep our place while we did other things.  Like there’s anything else to do in Ebensburg anyway, but I digress.

But sure enough, with the parade just minutes to go, a mother crosses the street with three young kids in tow.  Beside me is a tree.  There are people on the other side of the tree.  She stands in front of the tree, and sits her kids on the curb in front of her.  Of course, there is not enough room.  By the time the St. Francis Band came, the kids had already inched down and I had to sit sideways because there was no room at my feet.

I thought about saying something to the mother–I assume it was the mother, because grandma would have been brought up in a generation where people had respect for other people.  Maybe it was a crazy aunt.  I do not know.  I did not ask.

But I was not happy.  (So which dwarf was I? Rim shot-cymbal.)

I could not back my chair back, because the tree would block my view worse than it already was.

So I got up and stood behind my wife’s chair.  I thought perhaps when the guardian of these innocent parasites saw this happen, she would realize that it was rude for her kids to push me out, and correct the situation.

She did not.disapproval

I glared at her.  With disapproval.  See the photo–that was me!

She didn’t even look at me.  She didn’t acknowledge my disapproval.

Finally, I picked my chair up and moved it down and sat behind my wife.  She was able to inch next to a fire hydrant and my son moved a little, but my parade experience was certainly not filled with the holiday spirit.

The sad part is, if the rude woman had simply asked if it would be okay for her kids to sit in front of me because she was late because she was a single mom or her husband was in Afghanistan, and she had to work two jobs that morning and her car broke down because she couldn’t afford maintainance and she would have been here sooner but . . .  I would have been less apoplectic about the whole situation.

My wife thinks I over-reacted.

I thought I controlled myself very well.

And three more children are being raised to ignore and disrespect others.  I don’t see anything festive in that.

Have you ever had any bad parade experiences?

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