Post of the Day
July 20, 1999

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Subject: And now for something completely different...
Author: portolano

okay, how about a true fish story?

Last Friday I was off work (I thought this was a good thing at the time), so I decided to use the day to do some chores I hadn't gotten around to. One of them was collecting rocks for my new fishtank. My fish like rocks, it's a big empty tank, so I'm gonna get them some.

Well, as it turns out, apparently rocks that get sold in pet stores are of some special breed that are rare and highly valuable. Somewhere near the going price of an ounce of gold, in fact. So since I'm both cheap and innovative (and broke), I decided to go to the nearby beach and collect some 'free' rocks. Probably lesser quality, being free, but over the years the beaches have turned up quite a nifty variety of colors and sizes, and I expect I can find at least a few to work with.

So, there I am, trusty empty backpack and all, car parked at the far edge of the lot, heading for the waters edge. As I walk along, I pass by a sign that catches my eye. It implicitly states that removing anything from the beach, live or dead or never living at all, is illegal. Right next to the sign is a hippy drum circle, or what looks suspiciously like a hippy drum circle. Considering thier position, it could also be a group of undercover forest rangers, ready to stem the high tide of beach crime. (ow, that hurt) I don't know, but breaking the law to save me a buck has never stopped me before, so off I go, confident in the fact that I know more than one way out.

Except that the tide was up.

Hey, no problem, I climb up a path to the train tracks that follow the coast, and scoot on down the line about a quarter mile or so. I find a little path back through the brambles and weeds to the breakwater rocks, and down 20 or thirty feet to the water's edge. I thank all the die hard beer-drinkers and pot-smokers for keeping the path so well-worn and thorn free. Now I'm well out of sight of the main park entrance, and the clutches of the undercover hippy drummers.

Down at the water's edge, I'm tip-toeing through the incoming breakers, skipping along the boulders, and I locate a fine assortment of colorful and large rocks. I put down my backpack, to make it easier to load. I fill it with tons of cool rocks. Too bad I can't pick up a ton of rocks. I put some back. Finally, I get what I think are enough 'good' rocks (define a 'good' rock), get the backpack just to the point where I can pick it up, and head back to the little path.

Tides comin' in though, and things are getting a little slippery. Fortunately, I had the amazing forethought to wear the suede deck shoes with the no-grip soles. I'm slippin' and slidin' now, my bad knee is screaming, and the backpack keeps shifting and threatening to throw me in the ocean. But, being even more agile and stubborn than stupid, I eventually got back up to the path, and to the train tracks. Now I go trooping back toward the park entrance, bent nearly in half under the backpacks weight, and futility trying to smile and pretend there's nothing odd about this in case anyone is looking.


You know, trains come by here rather frequently, on no particular schedule. Did you know it takes a train a minimum of one mile to come to a full stop, if there happens to be an idiot with a bag of rocks in the middle of the tracks? I quickly hop over the rails and on to the gravel side of the tracks, and gravity quickly takes over the backpack, hurling me downhill into those bramble bushes I'd been so happy to avoid. Good thing I wore shorts! As the train roars by, I slowly start to pick myself up, pick the bigger thorns I can see out of my limbs, and wonder just where the railroad killer is today. Hopefully somewhere else.

I continue walking down the side of the tracks, now passing the hippy-thief-killers, and start to look for a way through the ever-increasing thorn bushes and back into the parking lot to the safety of my car. Finally, I see a path and take it. Uh, oh, apparently this is not a favored route for intoxicants, because its mighty overgrown. I fight my way through valiantly, appreciating for the first time what a 'stuck pig' must feel like, and bust out the other side, yards from my car.

Drum circle behind me, keys in hand, I rush to the car ('rush' being a relative term), open the door and toss the bag 'o' rocks in. Yeah right, toss. PLONK is more like it. There goes the travel coffee mug I got from Amazon. Good thing I missed my foot. After a full five minutes, I'm able to fully straighten my back to a stand. I stretch, recover from a lightning bolt of back pain, then climb into the car, and I'm off.

I really, really hope the fish appreciate that I nearly sacrificed my health, my life, and a possible jail sentence for their benefit, but somehow, I don't think they'll ever know.

Next time, I think I'll pay at the store.


Note to eco-friends - I learned my lesson, OK?