Return to Oregon – 24 years later

In October of 1993, I pulled up stakes and got the fuck out of Oregon. My father had died on Christmas Eve of 1990, and I really tried to soldier on up there, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Without going into too many details… Suffice it to say that once my long term girlfriend dumped me (we’d been dating for about 4 years, which was over 20% of my life up to that point) and I found myself homeless, jobless, aimless, and with a number of legal and fiscal issues pressing -and in a way that would likely have resulted in a fair amount of jail time- my feet were hot to move! All that is not even getting into the fact that my circle of friends were even more homeless, jobless, and aimless than me. So I hopped on a bus with GTFO as my only destination.

Once I got to sunny Arizona, I hammered out the legal and fiscal issues which had caused all the concerns. It took me several years to do so -since I was only earning minimum wage or a scrape above it- but I did ultimately get this all resolved paid off. The entire story is detailed in one of my pages linked to on the right, but it was written a hell of a long time ago, back when this was all fresh in my memory. I wouldn’t recommend reading it, but it’s there if you are bored and what to see what the writing of an angry and raging alcoholic looks like.

It was right around the year 1995 that I had paid all I could pay to make the issues go away. The Oregon courts no longer had any issue with me, but the Oregon DMV was still holding a grudge (I had my license revoked in Oregon at the age of 16 for driving without a license or insurance). They carried that grudge until about the year 2000. It was 2001 when I was finally able to get a legal, clean driver’s license again. Which, not-coincidentally, was the year I married my wife.

With a clean slate in Oregon since 2001, I’ve had a number of chances and reasons to go back for a visit. I never did. Like the battered woman that runs from the abusive husband, I just didn’t feel any need or desire to go back.

What was funny was that the things I thought I would miss: friends, family, and etc. were not an issue. I’m still in contact with the friends and family I care about through social media. The ones I don’t care about have faded to memory just like friends slowly faded from the memory of your parents without social media to keep them together.

The one thing I really, truly missed was … Abby’s Pizza.

The Abby’s pizza on Stephens street was such a huge part of my childhood that I literally don’t go a day without thinking about some aspect of it. You got to watch them make your pizza. You got free balloons. They had those old, thick wooden chairs that really hurt your ass. And the pizza was amazing! Growing up in Roseburg in the 70s, there weren’t any Dominos, or Pizza Huts, or Papa John’s. If you wanted Pizza, it was Abby’s or pretty much nothing. They did later open a Round Table pizza, which was pretty good. Also a Firehouse Pizza in the old firehouse, which was also pretty good. But, aside from those, it was Abby’s or nothing.

I didn’t realize just how much I missed Abby’s pizza until I started planning for my trip this week -in 2018. The first thing I did was book my flights, obviously. The second thing I did was book my hotel rooms, obviously. The third thing I did was to look up Abby’s pizza locations to make sure that I would be able to eat it again while I was up here.

My flight landed in Portland on Monday and I had to drive to Boardman, OR (no Abby’s). Tuesday I drove to Prosser, WA (no Abby’s). But today brought me to Yakima, WA where there is an Abby’s! I’ve been anticipating this pizza for 24 goddam years.

How was it? Well, the box is way different, but it has the same guy from the balloons of my youth smiling on it. The box was the wrong color, too. But it was familiar enough to recognize. I smiled when I saw the little guy on the box. Why? Nostalgia. 24 years later and he still looks enough like the original that I was able to immediately recognize him. It further reminded me of how I told Dad that I was looking for work every day when all I actually did was go to the Abby’s pizza in Winston every day to fill out another application and ask if they were hiring. Why? Because my uncle Randy had told me that employees got all the pizza for free -as much as they could eat. I ultimately got the job at the Abby’s in Winston (the pizza was not free for employees). It was my first job and I made it damn near a year. Pretty good for a sixteen-year-old whose father died during that period.

As for the pizza…

Long before I got to my hotel room I knew what the pizza was going to be: half Lunguicia, half Beef and Onion. My brothers, dad, mom, stepmom, and stepsister always had different ideas of their favorite pizza. That usually involved the “Abby’s special” which was a not-quite-eveerything-on-it version of an everything-on-it pizza. Or the “Skinny special” which was Canadian bacon and Tomatoes (for no damn reason other than that it was the favorite of one of the two founders). Other popular ones among my family were the “Taco pizza” and, of course, good old Pepperoni (back in the day, Abby’s piled that shit high. Don’t know if they still do, but it was impressive back in the 70s and early 80s).

None of those matched my personal taste and I was often outvoted. My favorites were Linguicia (to this day I don’t know exactly what this is. It is obviously a type of sausage and has a garlic flavor, but I’ve never seen it offered anywhere other than Abby’s) and Beef and Onion. The pizza I ordered today was half and half of those two. In my picture to the left, you’ll note that I immediately gobbled down one piece of each -well before I had made it to any flat surface on which to set the box to take a picture.

The verdict: It is still way better than the major chain pizza places. But, and it is a big but, this pizza cost me about thirty bucks delivered to my hotel (pizza, tax [I am in Washington, not Oregon tonight], delivery fee, and tip). The Linguicia tastes just as amazing as I remember, but the onions on the Beef and Onion were changed from white to purple at some point, which makes it taste a bit too onion-y. Still good, but the blander white onions really made this one taste good 25 years ago and I’m sad that they went away from that. The mixture of Mozzarella and Cheddar was still pretty amazing. I’m surprised other pizza joints have stolen this idea. Mozzarella is a very mild and nearly flavorless cheese. That bit of cheddar really makes the pizza pop.

So, 24 years later, I’ve done everything I intended to do when I got back to Oregon: ate an Abby’s pizza. Hopefully when I get back here -if current patterns hold, I will be 68 at the time- I’ll be able to taste some more of this amazing Linguicia!

Store database; Meat scale

Well it seems that missing every second post is becoming routine. That is unfortunate since it has not been my intention. I am sure you know how it goes when you start doing something thinking that you will only be a few minutes, then something else comes up, then something else, and so on, until at last you realize that an entire day is gone and you never did get around to what you had planned to do that morning. That is kind of what happened to me, with the exception of the fact that going to dinner, and watching a movie, with my wife will always come before updating this website. As for how I pissed the rest of the day away, you got me.

I have written over the last several posts about the tagging of the store leading to a requisite SNAFU, not knowing exactly what course we were going to take to remedy it. Well, I got my answer yesterday. If you recall, the options that I could see were 1) I would get word back from the people at RIS (the software manufacturer) about how to do a mass item delete. 2) I would have to start manually removing the items one at a time. 3) We would add memory to the cash registers so that they could take more items. Now if you knew the way my life works, you would never have thought the solution would have been anything other than having to manually remove old items one at a time, which was what I started to do yesterday.

The following is the process for manually removing each item, after I have brought up a listing of the upc’s I want to remove and the register interface, of course. First I have to click on the blank area where you input numbers (there is no other way to get the cursor there, none of the hot keys that you use in normal windows applications will work in this program) and type in a number, the first was 1120500048. Then I have to take my hand off of the 10key to move the mouse cursor over the button that says “Search PLU” (I actually can use the tab key to make the highlighted button be the correct one, but I have to hit it at least 30 times to get past all of the other paramaters) and click it. Then simply move the mouse over another button that says delete, after which the system will freeze for about a second and then I start the whole process again with the next number. Honestly, it’s not really that bad.

The biggest problem with the process, so far at least, is that if I mistakenly type in a number that I have already deleted, and it has happened a bunch of times, it is not like the list automatically removes the number once it is gone, the program will freeze and I will have to end task on it. It takes about ten seconds per time to open the program, connect to the register, get a listing of the upc’s and bring up the register interface, so you see it really sucks if I type in a number twice. I have taken to holding the cap of a pen on the item that I am deleting so that I won’t forget my place while I am screwing around with the mouse and the buttons, but still I sometimes forget that I have typed in 1120501113, but not 1120501114. It is all a bit irritating, but it is making it so that the program will work for its intended purpose, and I am getting paid to do it, so bitching is futile.

• If you read this page at all, you likely would also have read about the meat scale going out after a series of power-outages late last week. I managed to repair one of our old scales, the ones we used at the cash registers before we upgraded to the scale/scanner system, but they will not print tags, nor do they have Price Look Up numbers, so it is kind of useless for the task. I will say that it was a serious upgrade from what I was doing prior to fixing the old scale. The only thing that actually works on the meat scale is the weighing part. It will tell you exactly what the item weighs, then you just had to use a calculator to multiply the weight by the price; This is exactly what the now-repaired old scale does, which takes a lot of the work out of the process, yet it does not print the tags, so one must remember the price while they carry the item to the wrapping station, wrap it and tape it shut. I know this is the way they had to do it before printing scales were invented, but you see I have always used a printing scale so I often forget the price before the process is done. That is irritating.

I asked the owners what a new scale would cost, and they said it was about 1400 dollars. With a price to beat in mind, I headed for google. There I was able to find new scales with all of the necessary features for a shade under a thousand dollars. Now, knowing what it would actually cost to buy a new one, I hit eBay. Have you ever tried to search for something on eBay when you weren’t quite sure what people would be calling it? I did. The search for “printing scale” showed a bazillion results that were exclusively postal scales. A search for “meat scale” came up with a bunch of vintage crap that a collector might be interested in, but that would not pass health requirements even if they did print, which they didn’t. The term “retail scale” did get a few results for scales, but just the type that weigh but do not print, however, I noticed that they were all in the restaurant category and went to that directory. There were still tons of scales that didn’t have printers, in fact I only found two out of the whole section that did have printers, and, as luck would have it, one of them is damn near identical to the one that we have at work.

My hope had been that I would be able to find a scale that was exactly the same model as the one that we have at work, there are three reasons for this. The first is that we still have over four cases of labels for it. Those thermal printing labels are pretty expensive, like sixty dollars a case. If we have over 240 dollars worth of labels, it would be nice to find a scale that could use them. The second is that both of the owners know how to work the old scale for all of the things they want to use it for; To see how much bologna we sold that day, for instance. I would like to not have to learn the options of a different scale and then teach them, if possible. The third reason is that I spent a few hours of my own time, albeit years ago, making a list of all of the plu’s on the machine. I did it once in numerical order, which I could easily replicate on the new machine so that no one would have to learn different plu’s. But, I also made an alphabetical listing, by type, with a pork section, a beef section, a cheese section, etc. I did not include the first 35 plu’s in my alphabetical listing though, since they all have hot-buttons associated with them. That means, at the very least, I will have to redo that entire alphabetical listing if the scale is not the same.

The scale that I found on ebay does not match any of the three things I was looking for. Wrong labels, different face (therefore different plu format), though the switches on the front are the same, so it is possible that the daily reading options would be the same also. Of course there is no way that I could ever know since the model has been discontinued and the only way to get an owner’s manual for it is to buy it directly through the manufacturer. Now it would be one thing to buy the manual if you actually own the machine, there is no way I am going to do it just to see if I want to own the machine. This will all be pointless by tomorrow anyway, as the price of that scale is less than 10% the price of a new scale, and unless there is a real bidding frenzy I will be able to get it for a hundred bucks or so. Saving the company some 1300 dollars might take the edge off of having to pay 15 dollars for the owner’s manual, eh?

While trying to find an owner’s manual for the scale that we do not yet have, I found an actual scale that is exactly the same as the one that we have in the store. Well, it is not broken all to fuck and it actually works, so I guess it is not exactly the same. The problem is that the item is in a used machine warehouse that is on the east coast so every time I call to ask about the price I get an answering system. I have left my number with an inquiry about the price, but they have yet to call me back about it. My first thought is that they are concerned that the shipping might be so high that I wouldn’t want to buy it, but I tell you what, if we could get an identical system to the one that we currently have we would likely pay a bit more than what I am looking at paying for the one on eBay. So, hopefully, I will remember to call them tomorrow before I put in my bid on the other scale.

Well, I am going to call it a day. Tune in tomorrow for the end(?) of the meat scale saga…