Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Where are you going? And, did you really come all the way from NY to get there?

Bluffton Today column
June 30, 2010

I know that I - the Jersey Girl - have obviously adjusted to life in the south when even I start to get annoyed by all of the New York, New Jersey, and Ohio license plates. The annoyance is furthered by the fact that said license plates are most often attached to a vehicle that a. is going too slow in the left lane, b. is unfamiliar with the fact that we can make u-turns anywhere we want to down here, or c. has just cut me off.

My most recent encounter was totally my fault. I mean, what am I thinking trying to brave Wal-Mart on a Sunday? I have a very strict “No Wal-Mart On Weekends” policy. Actually, that’s not true. I don’t discriminate. I avoid Wal-Mart on all days ending in “y.” However, if it wasn’t for my brother-in-law, who I suspect broke my beach chair; I wouldn’t have had to schlep to Wal-Mart en-route to the Island for a day of sun.

But, I digress. Now that I have been successfully cut off by the New York plates, I search for a parking spot. And there are plenty. Unfortunately, most are adjacent to some “Northern plate” that has crossed over the line, rendering said spot inhabitable. But no worries, I don’t mind parking 200 yards from the entrance, and walking in 105 degree heat past a dozen empty spaces, my time isn’t valuable.

Upon entering Wal-Mart I am struck by the realization that I may have actually walked onto the set for MTV’s Jersey Shore or The Real Housewives of New York. Oh my GAWD! Where did all these people come from? And how did I-95 accommodate the onslaught?

Once I navigate through the sea of boogie boards, water noodles, coolers, beach chairs, Pringles, popsicles, and other paraphernalia I finally reach the check-out lines.

Holy mackerel, you would think Bon Jovi was giving a free concert at the food court. The lines are a few dozen deep. So, I made a game time decision and went to the self checkout lane. Self checkout never ends well, but desperate times call for desperate measures, so I made my move.

As suspected (based on years of self-checkout blunders) the woman in front of me caused quite a little back up. She had a number of large items that wouldn’t fit in a bag. So, of course, the register squawked out its automated commands “please place the item in a bag, please place the item in a bag, please place the item in a bag.” And then finally, “please wait for assistance.”

This is when my eye-rolling and incessant bouncing from one foot to the other activity commences. I am equally as frustrated by the “automated” process and the woman who couldn’t control her own items. But, help did arrive in the form of a Wal-Mart employee who got things moving again.

Alas, it is my turn. Bottle of water scanned. Success. Now how about this beach chair … that features one, two, three stickers and/or tags all possessing bar codes. None of which scan successfully. (I start to sweat a little.) “Please scan your next item. Please scan your next item.” (Panic sets in.) The automated screens begins to flash, “Manually input the sku number.” (Is it hot in here?) Which sku number? There are three!

And suddenly I am the woman in front of me who can’t control her own items.

After an agonizing check out, I make the slow march back to my car, past twelve empty spaces (thanks again New York!) in the broiling heat, with head hung low, and new beach chair dragging. My spirit deflated, I get back in the car to head to the beach.

I am startled from my depression by the sound of screeching tires. Beep! Beep!

As I look to my left, I see the unmistakable red, white and blue of New York plates, running a stop sign and about to broadside me. And suddenly, all is right in my world again.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Everything Happens For a Reason, Oh Really?

Bluffton Today column
June 16, 2010

When I first moved to Bluffton, I sought out a spa for my monthly pedicure obsession. It turned out that the woman who “did my toes,” Lani, and I grew up just miles apart in New Jersey. We never met back then, but here we are today, 800 miles from home, great friends, and wondering how we could have missed each other all those years ago.

My closet friend (ok, we’re dating!) down here is a Yankee. (No, not a NY Yankee. You think I’d still be writing this column, if that was the case?) We lived just towns apart in New Jersey for the better part of our adult years, worked in similar industries, enjoyed the same favorite restaurants, yet our paths never crossed. Then, we both follow family to Bluffton and end up meeting here.

Was it meant to be? Or did Lani and her family, the Yankee and his family, my family and I all just happen to realize at the same time that property taxes in New Jersey were crazy and we were getting the heck out?

On Monday, CNN ran a story about a married Florida couple who discovered that they had crossed paths much earlier in their lives. Just before their wedding, the two were looking at old photos from the bride’s childhood vacation to Disney World. Upon further inspection, the groom realized that the kid in the stroller in the background of the photo was him! They met – face to face – decades later, and are now married.

Is that fate? Or did their parents both happen to take advantage of the same summer special that Walt was running? And, is that fate? Or is it really just a small world after all?

Last week I was forwarded an email (I usually delete these, but it was from my Mom, so I obliged) that talked about some of the survivors of September 11th attacks. Those who, because something unplanned popped up that morning – he had to run his daughter to daycare, he was stuck in traffic due to an accident, it was her turn to pick-up donuts - were late heading to work at the World Trade Center, and as a result didn’t perish.

The email went on to say how important the little things are and that in this instance, each of these “little things,” was a “blessing” that saved their lives.

I have a little trouble with that. It makes me wonder what the other 3,000 people, who did lose their life, did wrong that day to not be “blessed.”

And further, if the traffic that the guy was stuck in was a result of a car crash on the NJ Turnpike, what did the people in the car do wrong that day?

Heck, I’ll do you one better. Maybe the woman who had to pick-up donuts slowed at a yellow light, instead of racing through. Maybe her caution then caused the guy in the car behind her to be late. So, what if he rushed through the next intersection and was side-swiped?

And this gets the ol’ wheels turning in my head. Does everything really happen for a reason?

You hear people say that all the time … You didn’t get the promotion you were gunning for? Well, everything happens for a reason? Your dog died? Well, everything happens for a reason. You had a miscarriage? Well, everything happens for a reason. Your wife left you? Well, everything happens for a reason.

Oh really, what’s the reason? Is it a higher power directing things? Or maybe the answers are simply …

You weren’t qualified.

He was 16 years old and his ticker couldn’t take it anymore.

Biology just wasn’t with you this time. (I know. I speak from personal experience.)

You’ve been sitting on the couch eating wings and sucking the sauce off your fingers for ten years instead of looking for a job and she was sick of it.

Nineteen men decided to hijack four planes and THAT is the reason why 3,000 innocent people died and a handful got lucky.

Courtney Hampson wonders if it is fate that she wrote this column and you read it. What are the chances? Tell her at

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

CSI Beaufort: This is Not a Drill

My new friends at the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office tapped me to go behind the scenes (with a full camera crew) and check out their new crime lab. I'm beginning to wonder if all of these law enforcement-related writing assignments are a means to keep an eye on me ...

CB/CH2 June issue
Having spent three hours in the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office new forensics lab, I suppose my DNA is all over the place. The good news is I have no prior record, so I don’t believe I will end up in the suspect pool. However, if I—or you—decide to go rogue anytime soon, be assured, we will be caught.

In fact, Sheriff PJ Tanner has committed that the new lab will have evidence processed in less than 30 day—that’s up to 12 times faster than it used to take, before the lab, and when all DNA and arson evidence was processed via the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), who by the way, is also processing all of the other evidence gathered in the state. Continue Reading

Buttah is Bettah, Per Paula Deen

You really get a sense of just how big a celebrity is when you try to interview her. My interview with Paula Deen took place via email and via a publicist, and some of my most seering questions were overlooked. But regardless, CH2 scored the interview and there was no way I was turning this one down!

From the June issue of CB/CH2
I’ll admit I’ve been one of the hungry souls standing in line along West Congress Street in Savannah, amid hundreds of other revelers, mouth watering, waiting for a taste of what The Lady & Sons are servin’ up.

As a native Yankee, with a healthy Food Network obsession, I was a disciple of Paula Deen, long before I ever crossed the Mason Dixon line. However, living in her backyard makes any girl feel a certain kinship. With the sass and spitfire of a Yankee, yet the sweet drawl of a southern belle, Deen has launched herself into the spotlight. And with her trademark “y’all” and signature laugh, she has endeared herself to the masses. Continue Reading