Here We Go Again


I have lots of things I look forward to doing every year. Parades, auctions, celebrations, birthdays, you name it.

The ones you enjoy, you keep doing. The ones that just aren’t as fun as they used to be, you just let go. Frankly, it seems like when I let go of something, several things show up immediately offering to take its place.

I live a busy life, each week a carefully crafted collection of duties, jobs, responsibilities and personal projects that easily fill up a 60+ hour week.

But when March arrives, there’s little else I think about but the first of the next month, because that’s the day I post a silly video I assembled every year for April Fool’s Day called, “National Gullible Day.”

It’s a newscast, that gives me a flexible forum in which to create comedy–some original, some borrowed (no one’s getting rich here) and a chance to put the spotlight on some of my funny friends.

This year marks the 8th annual National Gullible Day observance, as the fictious NGD Network broadcasts the various ways that people celebrate the holiday. My reporting staff has changed a lot over the years, between trying to spread the wealth among friends, while also working in those who like to play along. So yeah, watch a couple of them, and you’ll see several encore performances from some of my brothers and sisters in comedy.

The 2023 edition of National Gullible Day News coverage will begin airing at 12:01am this Saturday morning on my YouTube channel. It will also live on, where you can also watch all 7 of the previous years’ efforts.

So, what’s new in 2023? You’ll have to watch to find out, but I do feel these are getting funnier and funnier each year.

And for the first time, I’ve actually put together a promo for the broadcast:

With all that’s wrong with the world these days, it’s my hope that I can somehow provide an escape–although brief–into this fun collection of silliness.

My thanks to all those who have helped out over the years and especially to those who stepped up this year to make this marvel to share with the world. If you’d ask me, “What’s your passion project?”, I actually have quite a few, but this is the motherlode. I’m just one interview away from having all the pieces, finalizing the production, and setting the phasers to broadcast.

Here we go again! I can’t wait.

Tim Hunter

PS And to cut down on your clicks, here’s this year’s edition of National Gullible Day.

Another One For The History Books

No doubt. I’ve lived a very fortunate life.

I’ve been able to partake in a lot of things that were part of a world seldom seen. I got a crash course on some of those back when I was Larry Nelson’s producer at KOMO Radio, from 1980-1984. Over 4-1/2 years of some pretty crazy adventures.

With KOMO Radio being “Your Husky Station”, I got to meet some of my University of Washington football heroes, like Coach Don James, his wife Carol, and the voice of the Huskies, Bob Rondeau.

As celebrities came to town and were up for interviews, I got to meet (OK, I’m dating myself here) Steve Allen, James Cocoa, Timothy Leary, Tiny Tim, Rip Taylor, Patty Duke, James Doohan and so many more. There was the time that Larry and I went backstage with Wayne Newton. Prior to the interview, a guy straight out of “Goodfellas” to me to make sure Larry didn’t bring up a certain topic. It was the first thing he did. The guy looked at me like he was about to ask, “What size cement shoes do you wear?”

I learned a lot about broadcasting, the history of Fisher Broadcasting and KOMO radio and heard a lot of behind-the-scene stories. I remember a fair amount. And a certain collection of memories were jostled loose this week when I heard the sad news that Vito’s Restaurant at 9th & Madison in downtown Seattle was closed and may not ever open up again.

One of the greatest writers ever to ink up the pages of the Seattle Times, Erik Lacitis, wrote an outstanding article about several restaurants in town, including Vito’s. This is where I read the news.

Before I dive into my memories of this legendary establishment, read all about the history of Vito’s from right here.

OK, now that you know some of the characters, let me begin.

As Larry’s producer, we became quite close. We shared an office that couldn’t have been bigger than 10-feet by 10-feet and because Lar once complained on the radio that we didn’t a window to look out, a listener actually created a window frame with a mirror in it and dropped it off at the station. It hung in our office.

The daily routine for my 4-1/2 years was to arrive at 4am and start writing up stuff for Larry to use, or produce some interviews for him to air. Oh, there could be variations during the week, but at 11am on Friday, it was off to Vito’s Restaurant.

I didn’t go every week and looking back, I’m glad, because frankly, my liver wouldn’t have survived. For Larry and his Friday lunch gang, Vito’s always reserved the “Family Table”, a round table that sat 10 or so in the back of the restaurant. That’s where Nelson and his court would gather to discuss the past week, consume wineries of wine and enjoy the Italian cuisine.

Thanks to my occasional lunches there, I got to meet Larry’s actual godfather, the owner of the restaurant,Vito Santoro. A couple of times, I even got to chat with Vito’s wife, Molly. What a sweetheart!

With each lunch, you never knew who all would be there, although Lar had a cast of regulars that I came to know and am still in touch with to thise day. At least those who are still around.

Vito’s was dark, Italian and private. You minded your own business. My familiarity got me invited to a fundraiser at the Our Lady of Mount Virgin Church, a benefit Italian feast for the Jimmy Santoro Scholarship fund, a charity Vito started to honor the memory of his brother. At the event, Larry had a lot of fun pointing out the judges and politicians who attended the event. Enough said.

Ater my KOMO days, visits to Vito’s were few, far and in-between, as the restaurant went through several owners and fought to survive. I managed to once take my wife there, meeting up with one of the old Friday Lunch gang and his guest for old time’s sake.

A couple of years later, my buddy Bruce–part of that Friday lunch bunch–and I tried to meet for lunch at Vito’s, only to arrive and find it closed. They didn’t serve lunch anymore.

While it underwent some remodeling over the years in the dining room, the bar remained a trip back in time. Especially, if you looked on the photo wall, where you could still find a picture or two of Larry Nelson, from back in the heyday. Geeze, we’re talking 40 years ago. Wow.

As the years go by, I keep looking back and thinking, “Damn, I was lucky.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about another one of the restaurants mentioned in that article above, the Northlake Tavern, which I managed to visit one more time before it closed forever.

And now Vito’s is gone. Another one for the history books.

Tim Hunter

It’s The Little Modern Miracles

When you think about it, we do live in a pretty amazing world.

Take someone from the 1960s, toss them into a time machine, and launch them 60 years into the future to 2023 and they would be pretty shocked.

Giant, thin-screened television sets, with more channels than they could ever imagine; Music that has evolved from long-playing albums to digital files; Cars starting to drive themselves; Phones that go where we go and so on.

It’s my guess that while that person may marvel at all of the breakthrough technology that came out over the course of the last six decades, they’d probably be even more surprised that we’re still moving our clocks twice a year between Standard Time and Daylight-Saving time.

Growing up in the 1960s, I’m sure we moved our clocks around, but I don’t remember it. There were so many other pressing issues as a kid like watching cartoons, collecting baseball cards and hanging out with the neighborhood gang.

But as we grew older, our worlds changed and soon, the twice-a-year ritual wore out its welcome. It didn’t help that, as a young parent, changing bedtime by an hour in either direction caused problems. Then, we just got tired of the concept and demanded that our lawmakers bring this madness to an end. We even got to vote for it and voters overwhelmingly approved the idea of keeping the clocks the same year ’round.

Then we were informed that as much as everyone in the state wanted to ditch the spring and fall clock routine, Congress would have to act. I’ll start holding my breath now.

My buddy Brian MacMillan over at Fox 13 interview U.S. Senator Patty Murray last week and from the sounds of that interview, there’s hope that we just might finally bring this insanity to an end.

According to Senator Murray, the Senate approved sticking with Daylight-Saving Time all year in 2022…but last year’s version of the House didn’t feel it was enough of a priority and let the bill die. So, once again, the Senate has approved the measure and sent it to the house and Patty feels that they just might approve it this year! Hope springs eternal.

As for me, I could take or leave it. But there are two parts of the process I really don’t enjoy: 1) The complaining that ramps up for a couple of days among the grumblers and 2) Trying to remember how to reset the clock in my car. Oh, sure, with a quick search on YouTube, some guy named Joe in Indiana will show you. But by this stage of my life, I’m very protective of every minute of my every day. The time change probably robs me of five minutes of my life every year that I’ll never get back.

When I got into my car on Sunday after the time change, I commented to my wife that I thought it was much later than it was. She was quick to point out that it was time-change weekend and my car was now officially an hour behind. I let out a deep sigh and after we finished our errands and headed home, I planned to be sitting in the driveway, watching that YouTube video and resetting my clock.

A few minutes later, I suddenly yelled out, “Oh my God!” My wife quickly scanned the road right in front of us and wondered what was going on. “What? What?”, she asked.

I replied, “Look at my clock”!

Yes, the dashboard clock in my 2020 Subaru Outback had automatically updated itself to Daylight Saving Time! Sorry Joe, but I no longer need you.

And that set the tone for a pretty content Sunday.

It’s the little modern miracles…

Tim Hunter

Just Calm Down, Tim

I try to keep a nice, even keel, even when I’m not on a boat.

Too many people I know are full of emotional highs and lows and it’s just exhausting to watch. I can only imagine what they’re going through, but it just doesn’t look fun. So, I’ve made it so that it takes a lot for me to get upset. Yet, it happened twice over the weekend.

The first “ticker” was having my Instagram account hacked. Friends started contacting me about being asked to connect with a Tim Hunter that shared the same picture as me, but in the name of the account, had an extra _ or something like that. I’m pretty good about having a tricky password and i haven’t been hacked in forever, but this weekend, I was not only hacked once…but TWICE.

There were two phony me’s out there, asking to friend my acquaintances and then trying to get them to buy something. For those not savvy on what to do next, any time you get a phony friend request (and these days, I’m wary of every one that comes in), do these things.

First, check to see if you’re already connected. If you are, let them know they’ve been hacked. If you’re not connected, write, email, Messenger, or even call ’em to see if they actually sent that invite. They didn’t? Well, then, report that phony friend. Let’s pretend I got an invitation to connect from my friend Howie, who’s already among the approved. Click on their profile picture and this pops up.

Notice those three dots in the upper right? (hard to ignore with the arrow, huh?) Click on those.

That gives you these options:

Just block and they won’t be able to bother you again. But click on the Report and you can turn them into the Instagram police. Enough reports come in and they shut that bozo down.

And if you are hacked in either Instagram or Facebook, immediately change your password. And that’s about all you can do. What a ticker!

The second thing that got under my skin occurred when I went to watch the Sounders game Saturday night. I turned on the TV and they weren’t there. Then I was reminded about that new deal they have with Apple TV. Yep, not all, but a good many of this year’s schedule is going to only be available on Apple TV, which I do not subscribe to. For God’s sake, I already pay for Starz, HBO Max, Paramount Plus, Prime, Netflix, Disney Plus and I borrow a password for a Hulu account. I don’t need one more service. They wanted $6.99 a month and then add on another $12.99 a month for “All Access Soccer” so I could watch games across the country that I didn’t care about.

The more I thought about it, the more I decided I was going to give up watching the Sounders. Screw ’em. I’ve got the Kraken and the Mariners and the Huskies (not during basketball season) and the Seahawks. Who needs those stinkin’ Sounders?

The next day, my step-son let us know because we’re T-Mobile customers, we get the full season pass on Apple TV for free. One of the spiffs of being a T-Mobile customer. Well, then, fine. I guess I’m speaking to Drew Carey again.

Then, there was this one other annoying thing I was going to launch a complaint about: people whose car alarms go off and they don’t do a darn thing about it. So, I’m working away at home, and the HONK-HONK-HONK just goes on and on, as if they can’t hear it. I can hear it clear as day while I’m trying to record a radio show or concentrate on something I’m writing. In fact, just today, someone’s car alarm went off and I finally got so mad, I stormed upstairs and went outside to see who the idiot was that was driving me crazy.

Yup. My car. When I sit down with the keys in my jeans pocket, the pressure on the FOB set it off. Gotta remember to take those out of my pants when I sit down.

Just calm down, Tim.

Tim Hunter

I Could Live That Way

There’s a place not very far from Seattle that feels very far away.

This past weekend, my wife and I enjoyed a nice stay up on Whidbey Island. We gathered with friends to celebrate a 70th birthday at an Airbnb that was literally three houses away from the ferry landing. As we exited the boat in our car, we saw a small street and we both thought, “Oh, this can’t be it.” But a quick right turn and the next thing you know, there we were and we were forced to tolerate this view all weekend long.

One of the many endearing things about Whidbey Island is that, yes, you can take a ferry to the island. It’s just a 20-minute zip across the water from Mukilteo. But if there any kind of problem like a ferry strike or something, you can drive off the island up on the north end, across beautiful Deception Pass. How beautiful?


So, Whidbey is one beautiful setting, an “island life” kind of pace, where everything is slowed down and you can go explore cute little towns like Coupeville and Langley. Saturday morning, we went and had breakfast with a couple of my college buddies and their wives who now live full-time up on this chunk of paradise, then wandered over to Langley, only to find ourselves surrounded by their annual Mystery Weekend. For almost 40 years, people have gathered to do some sleuthing and solve a mystery with clues scattered around the town and actors adding additional hints with a theatrical flair.

Add in some fun shops, nice eateries, some great views and the Star Store and you’ve got a pretty nice, relaxing afternoon.

My wife and I also enjoy a little Whidbey Island history. A weekend visit to the Penn Cove Mussel Festival (coming up this weekend, by the way) was one of our first “dates” after having been introduced 16 Februaries ago. I mean, what could be more romantic than a celebration based on something she ate only to be polite and I don’t think has eaten since?

I know several former neighbors from the old neighborhood in Bothell ended up finding their way up there. My friends Tank & Doreen were married on the island in a forest there many years ago. There’s the Greenbank farm, oh, and a bed and breakfast we went to a few years back called The Compass Rose House, which we’ve been meaning to get back and visit.

So, yeah, after a couple of pretty much non-stop work weeks, it was incredibly nice to shut down, to not be on my phone or computer for hours at a time and to savor a simpler life.

We even enjoyed a hail show on our ferry ride back to civilization.

Notice the white sandy beaches in the background? Not sand.

Yeah, it would not take a whole lot to convince me: I could live that way.

Tim Hunter

Hello, New World

Every now and then, technology takes a big leap and we’re mesmerized.

During my expanded lifetime, I’ve seen music go from 78s to albums and 45s, to cassettes and 8-tracks, to compact disks and then digital files. Each upgrade taking us to a new level.

I could say the same about so many other things, especially computers. I still remember taking the big plunge and plopping down just under $2,000 for a monochrome screen and a PC that worked on DOS. It was like I was living in the future. Today, the phone I carry around could do laps around that clunky antique.

And now, here comes AI–artificial intelligence.

Oh, it’s been around. Seems like every day, there’s a new article about it, or how Microsoft AI Chatbot “wished it was a human” and so on. To me, this is exciting stuff. To my wife, it’s just the Will Smith movie, “I, Robot” becoming a reality. (which, knowing what I know now, Will could have controlled the situation so much better if he just slapped that bad ‘bot)

Here’s where we take off.

Artificial Intelligence is waiting right now to help you.

There’s a website called Open AI ( where you can utilize A.I. in a couple of ways. For writing, it’s called ChatGPT ( Pick a topic, any topic–for example, “Suggest a few names for a horse” and, in seconds, this pops up.

1. Stormy 2. Maverick 3. Apollo 4. Shadow 5. Blaze

6. Thunder 7. Spirit 8. Diamond 9. Prince 10. Duchess

Yeah, that’s just like Google, right? No, this monster thinks. Maybe have it write a paper on the benefits of an annuity as part of your financial picture.

And off it goes:

Oh, it’s not done. It will keep going until it has told you everything it knows until you hit that ‘stop generating’ button at the bottom. I hit it when it got to this point.

Otherwise, it would still be going.

What’s wrong with this? Nothing from my standpoint. I, as a writer, am ultimately responsible for what I put my name on, but something like this could sure do a lot of the time-consuming research and heavy lifting.

But there are already concerns about students using this to write their papers. One clergy has already publicly condemned pastors who us A.I. to write their sermons, saying, that “their sermons would have no soul.”

But contain your freaking out until I explain that the above drawing was created by A.I. after I put in the description, “Colored pencil drawing of an African American man fighting a robot.” Yes, it creates images from word descriptions.

What about, “Create a picture of a train on a railroad track in the style of Rembrandt?” In 20-seconds or so, it gives you four options to choose from. Here was my favorite.

Or bees flying around a cow in the style of Van Gogh. Here’s one that it created.

And in-between your projects, it gives you hints on how better to ask for your creations.

And so on.

If you’d like to play along, here’s the website for the graphics AI.

And now you have a couple of powerful new tools in your arsenal, you big go-getter, you. I know I’ll be putting to use. Already have.

I thought you would want to know.

Hello, New World.

Tim Hunter

The Power of an Old Photo

I’ve got photo book after photo book in the bookcase to my right. A couple of them are filled with childhood snapshots, while others showcase my college antics. There are also collections of family shots that I occasionally look at, amazing me how quickly time has gone by.

I’ve seen ’em all, multiple times, and have mental pictures of all of them somewhere in my mind, so I’m not surprised when I see them again.

The other day, I got an email from my high school buddy, Tank. After high school graduation, the two of us headed north together for our adventures at the University of Washington. His sister-in-law had been going through some old photos and came across this one:

I gave a quick glimpse and went, “Wow!” There was me fresh out of high school, along with Tank carrying a bag which I’ll assume were donuts.

In the original email, Tank’s sister-in-law originally asked, “Does anyone know who the girl is?” and as I was originally viewing this on my phone and a much smaller screen, I said, “I wasn’t sure.”

But later in the day, I got a chance to view this on my desktop and a much larger screen and I knew right away.

This was a photo I didn’t have a copy of. It was the first time I had seen it and boy, did it knock the memories loose.

That was back in the day when the fashion sense of my world was jeans or cords and white t-shirts. If we had met in the summer of 1973, this is what I would have looked like. The hair, starting to lengthen as I headed off to college. That Honda Civic I was resting my arm on–my parents bought that for me, brand new, from the Honda dealership in Torrance, California. The price: $2800.

I know the photo was taken in September of 1973 as Tank already owned a blue Honda Civic. Notice my Civic didn’t have a license plate and had the dealer paper in the rear window, so this must have been after we bought it and before I drove up to Seattle in mid-September.

This is when I had the world by the horns. I had gotten into a major university and by getting a Washington State driver’s license and getting Washington plates when I arrived up north, in a year, my out-of-state tuition would go down from $527 a quarter, to a mere $188 for in-state tuition. Yes, I was going to become a Washington state resident.

But back to the girl in the photo. That was my high-school girlfriend, the girl across the street, who I planned to marry someday. This was the girl I had a crush on during my sophomore year, managed to start “going steady” with at the end of my junior year and spent my senior year doing all the things a high school couple did in those days. She had graduated the year before and attended an occupational school during her high school years, so she was off on her career as a dental assistant.

I was absolutely nuts about this girl, but looking back, I know I had a lot of growing up to do. The only thing I knew about relationships was what I had seen on TV and watching what other high school couples were like. With some ups and downs over our first year, in my mind, it made sense for me to go away to school and see if the relationship could survive time apart. While I didn’t come home from college for the first two months, thanks to my dad’s airline employment (he was a ground mechanic for United Airlines), I was able to start flying home for weekends for just $6 round trip. $12 if I wanted to travel First Class.

My learning curve about long-distance relationships included a $114 phone bill for our first month apart. I quickly learned to get that under control.

When I returned home for the summer after my freshman year of college, I worked at the United Airlines flight kitchen and continued my relationship with “that girl.” In the fall, I returned to the Northwest, I continued to fly home every couple of weeks, and again, everything was going according to plan. I would graduate in a couple of years, go to work at United Airlines as a ticket reservation agent, get married and everything would just continue to fall in place.

My old radio pal Larry Nelson liked to say, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans for your life.”

It was a Thursday morning near the end of my sophomore year at the U-Dub. I had worked in the kitchen that morning, either frying up 1,000 eggs, or flipping 1200 pancakes, when my roommate let me know she had called and really needed to talk with me. Sure, as soon as I get off work, no problem.

By 8:30am, I was done and headed up to my room. I called her number and that’s when everything changed. I was informed she had a sign from God that she needed to break up with me. I tried to talk her out of it, there was crying, but her mind was made up. We were officially a formal couple.

Several months later, that girl and the youth minister that helped her realize God wanted her to break up with me, got married.

50 years later, I hear from friends and relatives that they’re still together, so I guess God knew what he was doing. As I look back with the advantage of hindsight, it definitely was something that happened in both of our best interests. She got the world she wanted and I took a scenic route to the amazing life I enjoy today.

It’s probably why I’m such a big believer in the thought that we are an accumulation of all the experiences we’ve gone through. That includes everything and I mean everything, good and bad, happening for a reason. I look back at that high-school-into-college relationship and while there were many seriously magical moments, the pain of that breakup was brutal. But, as we’ve all learned by now, life is a series of ups and downs–and you just have to savor the ups and deal with the downs.

That picture triggered a lot of memories and took me back to a time I haven’t visited lately. You would-be screenwriters, maybe I’ll get around to it someday, but I’ve got this idea for a clinic that offers “Flashback” treatments. You go in, they use their machine to allow your brain to take you back to a moment in your life that you’d like to visit just one more time–the birth of a child, a breakup, a great moment in your life–and then, while you’re there, you see why things happened the way they did, so you have a better understanding of that critical moment in your life. Then, you can get back to appreciating the life you are actually enjoying today. Or, should be enjoying.

Wow. The power of an old photo.

Tim Hunter

But It Was All Worth It

When I heard the news, I immediately knew I had to visit the place just one more time.

Down in the U-District, not far from Terry Hall, the dorm where I lived during my first three years at the University of Washington, was a pizza place called the Northlake Tavern. Yes, it was a tavern, but their pizza was legendary. Thick, greasy, loaded with toppings, a college student’s dream. Well, at least back in the 1970s.

Because it was a tavern, I didn’t go there very much my first couple of years. But by my junior year, my confidence had grown and I had accessed a fake I.D., so we would occasionally stumble down the hill and order one of those amazing pizzas. However, when I graduated, I headed east of the mountains and just didn’t have the opportunity to swing by there.

When I did move back to the area three years later, I lived in the burbs and just never seemed to make it that way. Over the next 40 years or so, I think I got back there maybe twice, for old times’ sake.

At the same time I had moved on and the Northlake Tavern became just another college memory, a fellow I had worked with in the dorms, Abdoullah, had gone to work at the Tavern, where the owner took him under his wing, taught him the tricks of the trade and eventually, Abdoullah bought the place! He was one of three brothers who had come over from the Middle East, each scattering into their field of specialty and reaching success. In Abdoullah’s case, he kept the Northlake alive and thriving.

But time marches on and now, in the year 2023, the time has come for Abdoullah to call it quits. Sadly, he’s been battling Parkinson’s, so after all that hard work, retirement is probably not going to be as he had hoped. The good news is that he found a buyer, the local pizza chain Mario’s, who will close the restaurant for a couple of months to refurbish it, then re-open it as a Mario’s.

The official closing date was Tuesday, January 31st. When that was first announced, the line began to form. After all, when you’ve been doing what the Northlake Tavern has been doing for 68 years, a lot of people have memories attached to the place.

Including yours truly.

So, a couple of weeks out, my friends Tank, Steve and I agreed to meet for lunch there at noon on Thursday, January 26th. But as that date approached, pictures on social media kept showing up with people saying they had to wait an hour to get in. Then 90 minutes. We adjusted our plan to meet there at 11am, when Northlake opened, so hopefully we could be eating by noon.


Now, quick side bar. Each of my Monday through Friday workdays are a carefully plotted out collection of various jobs, scattered out through a series of 12-hour days. It’s just how I roll. I try to top-heavy the week so that by Thursday and Friday, I may only work 10 hours. Maybe.

When the big day arrived, I completed most of my radio show prep duties and a couple of projects, and just figured when I got home after lunch, I’d crank out my radio show. Perfect plan.

After a 10:30am Zoom at home, I dashed to the car and drove to Northlake. Not a parking spot to be found. For blocks. For a half-mile, where I finally a 2-hour parking spot and began the walk to the restaurant.

When I arrived, I found Tank & Steve around the corner at the end of a line of about 60 people. That shouldn’t be too bad. Over time, a couple of people were allowed in the restaurant, and the line would move up just a little more.

But inside, the kitchen was overwhelmed. Not only making pizzas for those in the restaurants, who were ordering two pizzas each–one for now, and the other to toss in the freezer when they got home. But there were also to-go orders being phoned in. You can see where this is going.

Sadly, while we waited in line, a woman came up to the restaurant with a printed receipt for some pizzas she had purchased online. It turned out, she had been swindled. The restaurant wasn’t selling them online. Those scamsters work fast.

Meanwhile, back in line, I faced a dilemma. At which point do I decide, “Oh, this is ridiculous!” and just go home. Or, because I’ve already invested an hour, it could be just a few more minutes.

I had lots of time to think about my decision because were not seated until 1:46m. Yes, 2-hours and 46-minutes just to be seated. When a waitress finally made it to our table, she apologized for the wait, said she could take drink orders but that the kitchen was so backed up, it may be a while until we would see a pizza. Beer was ordered, and we went into a new waiting mode.

On the positive side, I had some quality time with a couple of guys who have been like brothers to me over the years. We have been through a friggin’ lot—marriages, health scares, tragedies, life moments, so to that end, I was grateful for the FIVE HOURS we got to share together.

Yep, it was an hour and 16 minutes until a couple of delicious pizzas came our way. We were allowed two per person, but just settled for two of their $31 medium pizzas–a Combo and a Meat Lovers.

I’ll be honest, I had reached out to Abdoullah to see if he might remember us and was secretly hoping for him to say, “Oh, you guys are coming in? We’ll save you a table!” He said he did remember us, but no table offer was made.

Meanwhile, as we sat there in the pizza-ready position, waiting our beer, Abdoullah walked into his restaurant. He looked frail, needed a cane to walk and apparently just can’t verbally communicate well anymore. When I saw him, I yelled out, “Abdoullah!” He turned. I pointed to each of the characters. “Tank! Steve! Tim!”

His eyes widened and he smiled. We said some other things to him, which I don’t remember, but it was how his eyes lit up that will be the moment I cherish from that day.

Yes, that’s a big slice out of a workday. Leaving the house at 10:40am, getting back home at 4:34pm. However, I got to revisit an old haunt from my college days one more time, hang with old friends, see someone I hadn’t seen in almost 50 years and get a smile out of him. Yes, it made for a tough rest of the workday.

But it was all worth it.

Tim Hunter

Where Have You Been All My Life?

This week, I’m going to drag you along on my search for a decent shave.

There was a time, back when this whole shaving thing began, that I was a razor-and-shaving-cream kinda guy. It’s what my dad did, what all the other guys in the dorms at Terry Hall did. Oh, maybe there was a graduate student with one of those fancy electric razor gismos, but for the most part, it was all about dragging this really sharp blade across your face while not being far away from your styptic pencil.

The clunky, old two-sided razor eventually gave way to the new sleek and sexy razors and then, the sleek and sexy disposable razors. The problem was, on those morning when I was in a hurry or distracted, I’d have to take the time to get the bleeding to stop before heading into work.

Then, somewhere along the line, I made the switch to an electric razor. I’ve easily had a half-dozen or so over the years, each progressively better. However, the closeness of the shave was always “ok” and I’d always have to do some careful follow-up work with a Schick disposable.

Eventually, I found myself the owner of a Braun electric razor and it was pretty good. In fact, I’ll bet you anything that I’ve had it close to a decade. But the pattern that developed was this: new blades would give you that close, comfortable shave for a couple of months…until it felt like you were plucking the hairs out of your face. No fun. Then I’d have to see how long I could wait before I’d pony up another $35 for new blades. I’m so damn cheap.

The new blades would arrive and then I’d be happy again….for a while. What helped was that I tried out those Harry’s blades and everything they say in the ads is true. So, that allowed me to put up with a crappy shave from my electric razor, then easily fix the spots it missed with one of Harry’s finest.

However, this time when the Braun blades dulled again, I decided to use that Consumer Reports subscription I pay for but never use and see what their research on electric razors had to say. I couldn’t help but notice that only the mega-expensive Braun was recommended, but there were an awful lot of Panasonics in there. Really? It was a departure in design from what I was used to, but the reviews were in and while Panasonic’s top of the line model was in the $200-$300 range, I found one for $99. Sure, it was the lower-level model without the bells and whistles, but I wasn’t looking for a singing/dancing electric razor, I just wanted a close shave.

And we have a winner.

This is the one. This is what it looks like. It glides across my face, not irritating it one bit. At times with the old Braun and my refusal to keep paying the new blade extortion fee, I’d occasionally get razor-burns. Nope, every morning when it’s time to trim the whiskers, it’s one smooth experience after another. And in the two weeks I’ve been using it, it’s still mostly charged. It even has a gauge on the front to tell you how charged up it is.

So, after an almost 50-year search for the perfect shave, I have finally found it. Thank you, Panasonic. Where have you been all my life?

Tim Hunter

That’s How You Do It Right

If someone asked you to list 100 things wrong with the world, you’d probably respond, “Only 100?”

I’ve noticed that, as you get older, you have to compromise your expectations because things just aren’t done they way they use to do them. Expect a certain level of service or quality and you’ll hear catch phrases like, “supply chain issues”, “we can’t find people to do the job” and so on. You’ve heard ’em all.

So, when a company does something not only really right, but above and beyond the kind of service we settle for these days, I have to shout their praises to the rafters. Well, I don’t have rafters, so you’ll have to settle for it in writing.

It all began when I realized how corroded the burners were in my barbecue. The flames shot up unevenly, which made it really challenging to cook anything. One end of the steak would be black, while the other end was raw. It was time for new burners.

So, I did what any other red-blooded American does these days–I went to Amazon. I found some burners for my Char-Broil grill, placed the order and soon, the package arrived.

They sat patiently on a downstairs desk until I had the time to take on the barbecue. You can’t put new burners in a filthy barbecue, so I removed the old, corroded burners and threw them out. They I cleaned out the barbecue so it would be a welcome home for those new shiny burners. I went to install them and…..they didn’t fit. They were too thick at the bottom.

OK, Life Lesson #14,490–you need to make sure you order the correct burners for the model of your Char-Broil grill.

The good news, of course, is that I could just return the wrong ones. But the challenge came when I went to find replacement burners for my model and they were nowhere. I searched on and off Amazon, carefully comparing the ones for sale with the 9-digit model number and….nothing.

I reviewed my Amazon orders and discovered it wasn’t really THAT long ago I bought my barbecue. It was an Amazon “Best Buy” and I really liked the grill, but if all I get is 18 months of use before I have to buy a new barbecue…..well, then this is definitely going to be my last Char-Broil purchase.

Before biting the spatula and going out to buy a new barbecue (which I might add have gone up significantly in price in the last couple of years) I decided to take a couple of last swings. I would reach out to local appliance gurus Judd & Black, and also write to the manufacturer to say, “What’s up with this?”

Both responded quickly. Judd and Black told me that I would have to contact the manufacturer. Yes, the folks at Char-Broil. And this is where it started getting good.

Char-Broil actually called and emailed me. I missed the call, but when I called the number provided in the email, a friendly voice took my information, and let me know that the burners were actually covered by a warranty. I mentioned that I needed all the guts for my barbecue, and they said, “No problem. What other parts do you need?”

This couldn’t be happening.

In fact, when I was forwarded to their credit robot that would ring up my sale, I tried to punch in the credit card numbers on the phone and got disconnected. I called back, got the same person and he personally took me through the purchase.

Friendly. Treating you like a valued customer. Making sure you really were happy. It was numbing. All in one day, in a matter of minutes, really, and the matter was resolved. The barbecue I was perfectly happy with will live on and I won’t have to spend hundreds of dollars for a new one.

But when that time comes, I guarantee it will be a Char-Broil, because they understand customer service.

That’s how you do it right.

Tim Hunter