Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Numbers Racket

I wrote this post last October and feel I need to post it again.  It is a funny story...another adventure with my friend Rae.  Rae died sixteen days after I wrote this.  I am so grateful that Ray and I were able to be with Rae for her last days here on earth.  Anyone in the need of an uplifting story, read on.  I just needed a Rae fix today.

Okay, it is time for another Rae story.  This one takes place on the road.  I am not sure of the date, but sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s.  CB radios were big then.  My father bought me one thinking it a good idea since I did a lot of driving, and a lot of it alone.  I never did chat on the CB with others, but I would listen.  Rae had one fact I think about everybody seemed to have one. 

This is what her camper looked like.  
One summer Rae and I decided to visit some friends in New Mexico and spend some time camping there.  As plans were made, Rae decided to get a camper.  She was never to keen on tent camping, and I think she thought she could be nice and comfy in her camper and the rest of us could tough it out in our small tents.  The plan was this.  I would drive behind Rae's camper to New Mexico.  Don't ask me why we did not think to just tow my car...but we didn't.  We had our trusty CB radios that would keep us in communication and that was all we needed.

Rae had just gotten her CB and just glanced at some of the 10-4 meant 'okay.'   The problem was...she would get them mixed up.  10-20 meant 'your location' and 10-36 meant what the time was.  Neither one of us talked much on the CB, but when Rae did she would throw out some CB slang.

Once while driving through Kansas she got on the radio to marvel at all the sunflower fields.  They were amazing...field after field.  And then she said this. "Hey Singing Swede (That was my handle), what's your 10-20?"  I thought that was a strange question because I was driving right behind her and all she had to do was look in her rearview mirror.

"I'm right behind you, Earth Turtle (That was Rae's handle).  Are you sure you wanted to say 10-20?  That is location.  Did you mean to ask the time?  If so...that is 'What's your 10-36?' "

"10-36?  It's that late?" was Rae's reply.

"No, it is not 10-36.  It is 9:20 right now.  When you asked for my 10-20 I thought you were asking for the time since you knew my location."  I was confident she understood me.

"I wish the (choice words) clock worked in here!  Is it 9:20 or 10:20?  You are not making any sense!"  At this point it felt like a "Who's on first" routine beginning, but I tried one more time.

"Earth Turtle!  The time is now 9:23.  That is the time of day"  I stopped need to say any other numbers.

"Then why did you tell me it was 10:36?"

"Because, if you want to know the time you say, 'What is your 10-36.'  But it would be easier if we just say, 'What is the time.  If you want to know my location you ask for 10-20.  I think you just confused the two numbers."

"So tell me, is it 9:23, 10-36 or 10-20!"

I was beyond frustrated and of course, laughing when I heard a deep male voice come over the radio.
"Ladies, please, stop!  We can't take much more of this conversation out here.  Right now the time is 9:25 in the morning.  We are driving on route 36 in Kansas and it is a beautiful day.  Do you get that?"

"10-4," I said through my chuckles.  Later, Rae came back on and said, "What did he mean, Jackie?"

"Let's talk about it at the next stop," was all I could say.  I did not want to say another number.

That night we slept in the camper.  Rae took the bed that was made by dropping the table and moving some cushions.  I took the loft about the driver's seat.  The next day I told Rae that I was just going to leave the bed above the seat down so that I wouldn't have to move and repack all of my stuff.  That was fine...and off we went.  I had written the numbers down for 'time' and 'location'....just in case she would try to ask for the time again.
This is not Rae's camper, but this is like it.  The table
converts to a bed.

This is the loft above the driver's seat where I slept.  That
middle part pulls down to make a bed.

We came upon a train and what looked like a long wait.  I was checking out the graffiti on the box cars when over the CB came Earth Turtle's voice. "The #*%# thing goes up and it stays up!"  Whoa, what was that about?

Before I could ask, another voice...not the same deep male voice as the day before...but another male voice, "Oh, my lady, that sounds good."

I have to admit...I blushed sitting there, alone in my car wondering which one of the truckers in this traffic had said this.  Within a minute, I was laughing and found the nerve to ask Rae what had happened.

"I decided to get a can of pop since we were stuck waiting for a train.  I ran back to the fridge and ran back to the seat....forgetting that you left the (explicative) loft bed down and I ran right into it.  I swear, I saw stars!  Pop spilled all over the (choice words) seat!" 

I could not answer.  I knew it was not funny....but as usual...tears were streaming down my face as I tried to stop.  Rae knew it. 

"It's not funny, Jackie," she said.

"10-4," was all I could utter before the laugh forced its way out.


  1. AWESOME!!! Rae always made us laugh too.

  2. Oh my gosh!!! This is so, so funny. And you told it so well!!! Keep on writing, Jackie!!

  3. What a dynamic person to have in your life! She was quite a gal, and I only know her from your stories you've shared.

  4. Wonderful story. You made me smile on a bad day. Thank you! Sounds like you and Rae had a great time together.

  5. Oh Jackie, I am so sorry to hear about Rae. It is clear that you and she shared a special bond. I have enjoyed getting to know her through your stories. It sounds like she lived life to the fullest and you were right there along with her sharing many adventures.

    Excited to hear about about your upcoming New York trip. I have heard that the play you are seeing in pretty good. There are a few places Kathy and I like to eat. There is a little restaurant at 252 W. 46th street (between Broadway and 8th Ave.) called Pergola Des Artistes Restaurant. It is a little French restaurant. They have matinee specials from $11.95 - $14.95. The price includes a glass of wine, potato and vegetable, bread and butter. For $7.95 more you can include soup or salad, dessert, and coffee. We go there for lunch because the dinner prices really jump.

    Another place we like to eat in Rosie O'Grady's on the corner of 7th Ave. and 52nd Street. They have a web site if you would like to check out their menu.

    Last year we ate at City Lobster and Steak on 49th Street between 6th and 7th Ave. Really good food. They also have a web site and a theatre special.

    For lunch there is a cafe called Europa on 8th Ave. Don't remember what streets it is between bur it might be something like 43rd and 44th. Wouldn't swear to that though.

    For breakfast we like Junior's Restaurant and Bakery on W. 45th street. Hope this helps. Looking forward to hearing about your trip in future posts.