Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tea for 2,000?

Bluffton Today column

The way to my heart is a grande non-fat mocha, with whip. Preferably delivered each morning. And, if you want to sweeten the pot, write a little note on the lid. Something along the lines of, “Good morning beautiful,” or “You make my day sweetheart.”

Clearly I’m a coffee girl, which is why all this talk about the “Bluffton Tea Party,” slated for April 15th at the Promenade, has me on the wrong side of the caffeine line. Rumor has that 2,000 people are expected to fill the Promenade for the festivities.

The national media has been all abuzz with the Tea Party movement. Governor-turned-vice-presidential-candidate-turned-reality TV-star-turned-talk-show-host, Sarah Palin, has been traveling the country touting the tea. If you’ve been under a rock and missed the pontificating, the mission of the tea party is to “attract, educate, organize, and mobilize our fellow citizens to secure public policy consistent with our three core values of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets.”

Loose translation: the conservatives are perturbed that there is a democrat in the White House and that they don’t have the majority in the other house. (I’m pretty sure these are the same folks who were appalled by the anti-war protests and those speaking out against then President Bush. But, I digress…)

Locally, the Bluffton Tea Party Patriots (Check out their website ) have organized the April 15th Tea Party. Interestingly, the event tagline is “Let’s party like its 1773.” Sure, because 1773 was such a grand time. Slavery was legal. Women had no rights. The colonies were ruled by the British crown. And, we had to ride horses to work, for crying out loud!

As a side note for non-history buffs, did you know that on July 1, 1776, South Carolina voted against independence? Apparently minds were changed overnight (bi-partisanship in action at the birth of our nation!), and on July 2nd, South Carolina voted in favor of independence.

Anyway, the Patriots are pulling out all the stops for the totalitarian tea fete, with live music, citizen speakers, trivia, and prizes will be awarded for the best overall sign (what’s a protest without good signs?), most unique patriotic costumes and best decorated carriage, stroller, or wagon (expecting a big under-three crowd, are we?).

So let me get this straight. 2,000 folks are going to gather to protest national policies? Now obviously, I’m all for freedom of speech and having a voice but, what exactly is the intended outcome?

I’ll be conservative (but, only in my math) and say that 25% or 500 of the participants will actually live in Bluffton. Don’t you think that 500 people could make a huge impact right here in our community, by speaking up about something we see, feel, experience every day in our own neighborhoods?

Namely, I’d like to catch the idiots who are responsible for the rash of break-ins in my (and maybe your) neighborhood. I’d love to see the “drainage” ditches on McCracken Circle not overflow with every rainstorm (otherwise we should change the name, because nothing is draining). I’d like to help one or two or three or four dozen of the local families who’ve found themselves out of work and struggling. I’d like to donate my time to Bluffton Self Help, or the Boys and Girls Club, Palmetto Animal League, or The Curry Foundation.

So, why don’t we get something going here folks? Give two hours of your time locally. Let’s get together and talk about it. I’m thinking a little coffee clatch may just be my cup of tea.

Courtney Hampson sits a little left of center and can be reached at

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Squeak, No Grease. Honey, No Bee.

Here is the story of how the squeaky wheel got not grease, and how the honey got no bee.

The short story is that I had to change my name on all of my accounts, and my go-to credit card (with the platinum sheen and the deliciously low interest rate) had yet to arrive. So, I called the 1-800-bank number and was connected to a customer service representative. I told Mr. Service my dilemma and he put me on hold to “review” my account.

Thirty seconds later he came back on the line to ask me some questions about my income. I answered, clueless. I mean, my income had increased nicely since applying for the card years ago, so I wasn’t worried. He put me on hold for another thirty seconds and came back on the line to tell me that “after further review, they would be lowering my credit limit to my balance, ” and in essence wiping out about a hefty chunk of available credit. My cushion, my just-in-case-plan, gone before my eyes, eliminated.

So, in a not-so-shining moment I went a little berserk. I may have gone a few decibels over really loud in order to point out that 1-800-bank was home to my checking account, my savings account, and my mortgage. I went on to point out that I have never had a late payment with ANY credit card, my balances were low compared to my available credit and that 1-800-bank was, of course, utterly ridiculous.

1-800-bank man wasn’t won over by my hysteria, and as such I flung the cordless phone across the office thus ending the call.

Breathing exercises commenced, and I decided to let it go.

Until the next morning, when in a rare “aha moment” I decided to call back and try being nice. My plan was to sweet talk the customer service representative. And boy, did I luck out. 1-800-bank person was kind, understanding, she listened and then she broke the good news … “Courtney, I don’t see any notes about this on your account. The limit hasn’t been dropped.”

“Wow, really? Well, I’m not making it up …”

“Of course not,” 1-800-bank lady chuckled. She asked me the same questions about my income, commented on the increase since my application, and put me on hold to “review just one more thing.”

And that, my friends, is the moment when I should have hung up!

But I didn’t, and she got back on the line and “after further review decided that 1-800-bank would be lowering my credit limit to my current balance.”

“Um, what?” I stammered. “So, you’re telling me that the thing I called about, that you said never happened has now happened, because you made it happen?”

“Yes ma’am, is there anything else I can help you with?”

Uh, yeah, you can buy me a new phone because this one is about to be launched across the office, again!

So, to the old wives who’ve spun the ridiculously contradictory tales that claim that the squeaky wheel gets the grease and that you attract more bees with honey, what say you now? I’m maxed out and I need a new phone!

As a foot note, I figure this is my opportunity to thank BJWSA for refusing to change my name on my account. So, here goes …

Dear BJWSA People:

Now I know that you haven’t been present in my home office for the last five years while I have sat down and been the one to actually make the payment to you each month, despite whose name is on the bill, but it was me. It’s been me all along. So the fact that you won’t change the name on my account without a hefty deposit irks me to no end. However, I give up, you win, and I’m not fighting you anymore. I do have one question for you though. If I stop paying the bill (and find an unlikely alternate water source), who are you going to call?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Heck, Honk If You Love Me

Bluffton Today Column
March 3, 2010

I am out walking or running the Bluffton Pathways almost every day. I’ve been doing it since the ol’ New Year’s Resolution of 2008. Not too shabby, huh?

Depending on the time of year, you’ll find me burning calories just as the sun is coming up and the street lights are flickering out. Or, at the end of the day as the sun is making its final decent. I tackle the terrain along the pathways on Buckwalter Parkway, McCracken Circle and Bluffton Parkway.

While out this past weekend, I was reminded of an incident that occurred about a year and a half ago. Twice in one week I had received a little more attention that I bargained for whilst on my trek. Both involved some brainiac driving by, slowing down their vehicle, and hanging out the window to whistle, hoot, holler, and my personal favorite sending me a kiss -- you know a loud, wet, smooch that was audible over the purr of their engine. Really?

At the time, I was overly spooked by the smooch. It was barely dawn and I remember keeping my eyes straight ahead and focused. First on the house where I knew a Marine lived and would most likely be awake and have a gun fully loaded. Then, my Mom's house was in sight and I knew she would be on the couch, with coffee in hand, waiting for the Today Show to start. Mom’s next-door-neighbor’s police cruiser was in his driveway so I was safe for just a few more houses. Finally, I rounded the corner to my house, where two Sheriff's officers live just doors down. Whew. Home. Alive and well. And, in tears.

These days my dog, Darby, is usually with me and my iPod is lulling me into my groove. Once I hit cruising altitude, I am unstoppable. Darby enjoys the walks too and quickly falls into his sniff, pause, and pee routine.

So, we’re happy. Until …

The inevitable honk. And, it’s THE honk that got me all bent out of shape this past weekend.

If I hear a horn honking while walking I tend to assume one of three things: 1) there is a vehicle that has lost control and I am in harm’s way. 2) The driver knows me and is saying a quick, “hello.” 3) Another driver has just cut driver #1 off, and he is less than thrilled.

What I don’t anticipate is the honk, just to honk. But, you do it every time. You honk. I look over my shoulder. Your vehicle is not careening out of control. I don’t know you. There are no other drivers on the road with whom you are communicating.

You’re honking just to get my attention as you cruise by? You’re honking to break my stride? You’re honking because while attending male chauvinist school you learned that this was an appropriate greeting for strangers? I don’t get it.

Believe it or not, and all evidence to the contrary, I’m a nice person. I would say hello if you called out a simple “hello,” “nice weather we’re having,” or “cute sneakers!” Something, give me anything. Because guys, ladies would much rather you string a sentence together than emit a noise from your steering column.

And, I would much rather enjoy my exercise than spend the next 10 minutes memorizing your license plate number.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Soulful Singer: Angie Aparo

CH2/CB2, February 2010

Its midnight in Nashville, TN, and Angie Aparo’s phone is ringing. He answers. On the other end is John Rich, of Big & Rich, who’s calling from his bar. “You’ve got to get down here,” Rich says, “Jeremy Piven is at the bar and you have to sing for him.”

So Aparo stumbles out of bed, heads to the bar, downs three Jagermeister shots and a Miller Lite, (“to catch up”), and joins the party. He gets on stage, sings a couple songs, and before he knows it, Jeremy Piven is inviting him to play his birthday party.Fast forward three weeks and Aparo is in an oceanfront house in Malibu doing just that. “I’m doing my thing, playing, and I look up; and in a surreal moment, I realize I’m staring out at Dane Cook, Cindy Crawford, John McEnroe… it was like I was watching T.V., but it was real,” Aparo joked. When he finished the set, he brushed past McEnroe in the hall who said, “Nice singing.” At a rare loss for words, Aparo replied, “Nice tennis playing.”

Ah, the life of a star. CONTINUE READING