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Phone call from Delbert

March 18, 2011
By John Sheda
Every once in a while in the back of my scary, demented yet very fictional mind, I receive a phone call from Delbert. Delbert views life in a skewed manner but sometimes he makes sense. Here is his latest call. 

 “Hello buddy. How’s things goin’ at MHI?” (the Mental Health Institute).

 “Ah, Delbert, I retired last June and you know that. What do ya want anyway?”

 “Well I’m having some problems and since you’re this big fancy-shmancy columnist, now for the Tama News, I figured you could help me out.” 

 “Delbert, that place called MHI, that I used to work at. They might be just the ones to be able to help you out. Much better than me!! 

“No, it’s not that kind of help I need. We’re having big financial problems at home. You see, John, it seems like the last few years, the wife, seven kids and m have been spending a bit more than we take in. So, I as the man of the house, the grand pooh-pa, so to speak, had a family meeting at the kitchen table and I announced a few changes that were going to take place. You know, just like our government is doing right now.”

 I thought to myself, family meetings are never fun and also wondered how in the world a tight-wad like Delbert could get himself in such a mess. “Ah, Delbert, what were some of these changes you suggested and how did the wife and kids react?”

 “React,” Delbert screamed over the phone.  “React. Hah! They all got up from the table and no one’s spoken to me since. That’s why I called you, buddy, ol’ pal, great friend. The changes weren’t drastic by any measure. Just a few nips and tucks here and there. For example,  we don’t need to go out to eat every single Sunday after church. I put on a two month moratorium on that. Soup and baloney sandwiches at home is good enough. Well, let me tell you, the lady of the house was not happy at all with that.  Then I mentioned that when grocery shopping, we will buy only the items we absolutely need.  No more potato chips, cookies, frozen pizzas and stuff like that. Beer was ok, since it’s a staple.”

 “How’d that go over?” I asked Delbert.

 “Again, HAH! Like a lead balloon. The kids had a big up roar over that.  But when I put a cap and freeze on their allowances they ‘pertner” hog tied me and kicked me out of the house. I also suggested no more DVD rentals, no buying of those expensive tennis shoes and maybe even cutting short our summer vacation this summer. My friend, it was scary. I was afraid for my life.”

 “So what happened? How did you get it all figured out?” I asked him. Actually by this time, I was kinda feelin’ a little sorry for the old guy.  After all, he was trying. 

 “My friend,” he finished softly, “All I was trying to do was to start spending less than we were taking in but I found out that everyone, yes, everyone, the wife and each of the seven kids had their favorite things they just didn’t want to give up.  Some had no problem with the no Sunday eatin’ out, several didn’t really care about the freeze on the allowances and Lucy, my lovely wife, is trying to eat healthier, had no problem with the no chips, snacks and cookies rule. But to get them to all agree on any one thing to cut out was dang near impossible.”

 “So what did you do?  Did you as a family finally agree on cuttin’ out something?”

 “Well, that’s the real reason for my call, my good friend. Ya see, Lucy suggested a cost-savings idea and before I knew it, all the kids unanimously shouted their approval. I couldn’t believe for the life of me what I was hearing and what she suggested. Can you actually believe that they would want me to  sell my golf cart, not buy my membership at the Country Club this year and limit my golf to walking one round a week. Walking! I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My family thinks I should cut back too.”

 “Ok, ok, how did it end,” I inquired as I was beginning to be quite concerned about Delbert. I know how much he loves golf and that fancy golf cart of his. Heck, he doesn’t even like walking from the parking lot to the golf cart shed!! 

 “I’ll tell you exactly how it ended. It just so happened that this morning another application for a new credit card came in and I filled out that baby as quickly as I could. So we are just fine now.  At least for the time being.”

 “But, but, but.........Delbert, that’s not the answer.  Won’t you have to pay the piper sometime?”

 “Ah heck buddy, ya never know, I just bought a few lottery tickets. And besides that’s exactly what our smart elected officials in Washington do all the time. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.”

 Well, I thought to myself, poor Delbert, but in some weird (or is it so weird) sort of way, he did make sense. I’m just not gonna tell him that. Does anyone have any advice for him?  Let me know so I can help him out a bit. Email me at


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Pastor John Sheda



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