Collected Dialogues

Pieces of the aural environment from Dec 30 to Dec 31, 2001

New Deal Truck

2 men in their late 40s on the train to Philadelphia.

1: But there was a good cop, Tom Shank. He used to bring my father home from the bar. Put him into the back of the squad car. He's got the squad car parked outside the bar at 2 or 3 and waits to see who needs a ride - to cut down on drunk driving. They'd get pizza on the way home. Get him up the stairs with pizza, my Mom waiting. Sad he died.

2: A couple years ago, yes?

1: Heart attack. But he was on Vicadin. I think he might have had the whole bottle. You know. He was on workman's comp. His old lady left him for someone on the Internet.

2: That so, huh? The Internet.

1: His wife moved out and kept using his insurance to get her meds, right? And then he finds out she moved out and is going to Alabama because she met some guy on the Internet. So Tom can't use his back and he's on workman's comp and he's sitting there and his old lady is shacked up with some guy in Alabama. You know what the motherfucker of it is?

(At this point I lost the thread because an 8-year-old-boy seated in front of me wearing a derby hat, looked back at me then began to hop up and down in his seat and said “I'm a cupcake! I'm a cupcake!”)

1: And then she gets his goddam insurance. And she gets the take on the sale of the trailer.

2: Poor bastard.

1: Yeah, he's dead, and she walks away with all of that. Nice double-wide. No one should get married. You're young, then you're married. That's it, that's where troubles begin.

.  .  .  .  .  

At the Counter of PAL Supermarket

Shopper 1: I got 15 cents!

Clerk: I don't do that.

Shopper 2: You need the 15 cents?

Shopper 1: No, they give me the fucking beer.

Clerk: He wants it for 15 cents.

Shopper 2: Come on, man. You can't have no beer for 15 cents.

Shopper 1: You give me this beer, goddammit! (To Shopper 2): These white people are motherfuckers.

Shopper 2: They're Black. These are Black people working here.

Shopper 1: They're Osama Bin Laden motherfuckers.

Clerk: You shut up!

Shopper 2: No, they're Black too.

Shopper 1: 15 cents! Take it or leave it.

Shopper 3 (Bearded white boy): Ah-ight! AhzalamalAY-kum, yo.

Clerk: Wa-Salaikum. (To me:) two-thirty-five.

Shopper 3: That's right, salaam, saLAAM. Ah yeah. Let me get that 8 ball right there. That's right.

Shopper 1: Motherfuckers! 15 cents! Take it or leave it!

Clerk: Shut up! Get out! (To me): Happy New Year!

.  .  .  .  .  

With my mother in the car

Your grandmother and grandfather were worried that if I moved in with them to help out I'd never meet any men. I said, maybe when Daddy goes to Lions if he knows any nice-seeming divorcees or widowers, maybe he could bring them back for a cup of coffee to meet me. And that would be a good compromise. So your grandmother looks at me in shock and and is quiet for a pause, then says, “Dear, we're not Italian.”




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


There is a Facebook group.


You will regret following me on Twitter here.


Enter your email address:

A TinyLetter Email Newsletter

About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


Syndicate: RSS1.0, RSS2.0
Links: RSS1.0, RSS2.0


© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

Tables of Contents