ALL ABOARD | The top five things I learned in 2009 — Really!


As the liquid sunshine dances across my 1928 Milwaukee Road caboose window panes, I am honored to announce the Top Five Things

I Learned In 2009.

What else would you expect from a sexagesimalist who is still home-schooling?

The fifth most important thing I learned in 2009 is that those German-made ShamWow absorbent cloths work better in my window sills to catch the drips and leaks than ice cube trays.

While the ShamWows do not hold as much rainwater as ice trays, the dripping is a lot quieter.

The fourth most important thing I have learned in 2009 is that the safest place to leave your checkbook is at your bank.

Two weeks ago I left my checkbook and the cover, handsomely decorated with photos of the three most important women in my life, at my bank.

Of course, I did not know that.

I assumed that I had my checkbook here at the caboose in some pile of papers in stacks formerly known as my in-box.

After a few days of looking, I called my bank to see what to do. A friendly voice advised me to put a stop-payment on each of the checks that had not been used.

Upon realizing that I would probably need a part-time job to finance the stop-payments on nine, non-used checks, I paused to reflect.

“I think I’ll keep looking.”

The next day, while I was using the bank’s outside ATM, a most courteous employee exiting for her lunch break told me to come inside.

“We have something of yours, Jim.”

I would expect nothing less from a good bank like mine.

Upon entering, I saw a tall teller unlock a drawer revealing my checkbook cover with my three girls’ pictures smiling at me.

“How come you didn’t call me?”

“Your phone has been disconnected,” was the response.

The third most important thing I learned in 2009 is to keep your phone turned on in case you leave your checkbook at the bank.

The second most important thing that I have learned this year is that calling Whidbey Telecom can keep your pipes from freezing.

Right before last week’s cold front put us all back inside, I contacted Jacque Hansen, Customer Service Guruette, regarding the non-speed of my computer connection.

Before I could recite the 12 days of Christmas, Whidbey Telecom’s veteran repair expert, Ed Noble, was dispatched to the scene of my ignorance.

Now my computer is so fast, I’m having to learn to type slower.

More important, while Ed was upside-down on the train tracks, he spotted a pipe leak that I had time to repair before my checkbook was wrapped in swaddling overdrafts.

Thanks again to my bank and phone company for these holiday revelations.

Drum roll, please.

And, the number-one thing I have learned in the year of 2009 is that I have a lot more to learn in the year of 2010.

Care to join me?

Conductor of Fun Jim Freeman can be reached at

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