Clock # 1
It is dark outside. I know this because the bedroom in which 
I lie abed is dark. The alarm clock alarms me at six o’clock 
sharp and I reach over to slap it quiet. Now I can snooze a 
bit, just to enjoy the quiet morning—the quiet morning that is 
interrupted by the dumpster truck right outside my window, 
collecting the contents of an overflowing bin. It’s still nice to 
lie here. 
By the time I glance at the slapped clock, it’s seven a.m. and 
time to hop barefoot onto the hardwood floor and flatfoot my 
way to the bathroom, where I discover that it’s actually 7:10 a.m.
Clock # 2
In this, the second time zone of my morning, I must shower ten 
minutes faster, brush my teeth ten minutes faster, do everything 
else ten minutes faster to make up for the time difference between 
bedroom and bathroom. I even listen to NPR twice as fast, 
thus retaining little of what is broadcast at me. At 7:35 a.m., 
I descend the creaking stairs and evolve into the kitchen, where 
the sink clock stares 7:25 a.m. at me.
Clock # 3
I take a deep breath, slow down a bit, and try to compensate 
for the speed-up time-warp I’ve just put myself through. Make 
coffee for Liz. Prepare my lunch. Pack my book bag. 
Find my keys—oops, they are right here in my pocket. 
By the time I’m ready to face the front door, I take one 
last look at the sink clock, which grins 7:55 a.m. at me. 
I dash into the yard, throw baggage into the front seat, 
hop in, grab my seat belt, crank the engine, and note 
that the clock radio reads 7:45 a.m. 
Clock # 4
I won’t really know what time it is till I’m at the shop, 
where the computer will report Central Standard Naval 
Observatory Time. When the work day is done, I head home 
and time-travel in reverse. Liz’s computer clock reports a 
different time than my computer clock. Am I late or am I early?
Clock # 5
The cable TV clock reports that it’s 6:05 p.m., so I know 
I’ll not have to worry about time till it’s Jon Stewart time 
at 10 p.m. Nothing else to watch on TV.  In Liz’s art studio, the 
clock later that evening tells me in no uncertain terms that it’s 
9:45 p.m. Time to go upstairs and do the Daily Show ritual. 
When I arrive in the library, where TV screen stares blankly at 
me, I notice that the TV clock says it’s only 9:40 p.m. Now I 
have to stare at a lot of partial shows and commercials during 
twenty minutes of mindless clicking, till Jon appears. After my 
evening viewing habit is satisfied, I head for the bathroom, where 
the clock reads 10:29 p.m.
Clock # 6
Once back abed, I look over at the clock that started 
everything and note that the time is 10:45 p.m. But in 
my head, where my circadian clock runs wild, it feels like 
Tossing and turning, I eventually get up for some water and 
notice that the other clock, the one on Liz’s side of the bed, 
is ten minutes faster than mine.
Clock # 7
I finally get to sleep, but who knows at what time and for how 
long before the bedside alarm alarms me once again
© 2010 A.D. by Jim Reed


*Socrates (SEW-crates) and Socrates (SAH-cruh-tees) 
are the same person.
*Arab (A-rabb) is a place and Arab (EH-rubb) is a person.
*Geezers are sexy.
*People just come right out with it.
*We scratch when and where it itches.
*A speed limit is a suggestion.
*Accumulating makes more sense than collecting.
*We pretty much want to be wherever we are—and 
don’t you rush it!
*Dentists hand out lollipops.
*We admire women who spit and pick their teeth in public.
*Spitting and picking your teeth in public is mandatory.
*Chawing and kissing can go right together.
*You can wear a tie to go to lunch, but you have 
to leave your jacket at the office.
*You never allow guests to leave your home without 
escorting them to the car and chatting for another fifteen minutes.
*Y’all is both singular and plural.
And so it goes. In my South, the only place I’ve ever lived, local folks and 
local customs and local habits continue to amaze me and make me feel right 
at home. What would it be like to live anywhere else? You tell me
© 2010 A.D. by Jim Reed 


Most of my daily activity at Reed Books/The Museum of Fond Memories 
consists of listening to people and often referring them to other trusted 
merchants and institutions. 
This is a free service, so you can understand why I seem grateful 
whenever someone actually purchases something.
A typical day at the shop frequently includes happenings such as these:
A customer tearfully recalls how much the “stuff” at Reed Books reminds 
her of the “stuff” she owns, and of her lost family. She smiles, reminiscing 
through tears.
Visitors from Tennessee, staying at the Tutwiler Hotel, remark on Birmingham’s 
beauty. They love the bookstore and the streets. I wish Birmingham natives 
could see the city’s beauty through most visitors’ eyes.
A little girl reads and collects Nancy Drew books. We chat about Nancy’s 
resourcefulness, determination, elegance, intelligence, wit—and wish our 
favorite movers and shakers possessed these qualities.
Two young women want an inexpensive place to eat. I send them to the 
New York Deli around the corner.
Two more women want images of old Birmingham to display at the Greenbriar 
retirement facility. I send them on their way to What’s On Second, a block 
or two over.
A scruffy gruff non-customer is looking for a cigar store. I send him to the new 
store on Second Avenue that replaced the mysterious Bohemian Grocer.
One customer wants a reading lamp—not antique or expensive. I send him to 
Standard Furniture Company, which has been across the street for most 
of a century.
A street guy is trying to sell a pair of snakeskin boots. I refer him to Goodyear 
Shoe Hospital across the way, which has also been there for nearly one hundred 
years. Maybe Rhonda will know what to tell him.
Tourists are looking for things to do and places to shop in Birmingham—they 
don’t believe the staff at the Redmont Hotel, who told them 
there was nothing to do Downtown. I excitedly tell them all the 
wonderful things to do and places to go Downtown, and send them 
first to Sojourns, Melissa’s fair trade import gift shop next door. 
They return later, thanking me for giving them a great day.
A New England publisher calls and wants to vet a manuscript about the 1963 
Birmingham horrors. I send him to Dr. Glenn Feldman, my son-in-law, who is 
a scholar of the Civil Rights Era.
One customer wants the exact lighted Santa Claus toy he had as a child, and I 
find him one on the internet. He is so excited I fear he will faint.
A young woman brings in a bag of books her aged father wants her to sell. My 
offer is generous, but the father has inflated ideas of the books’ worth. She 
pleasantly packs the books and patiently totes them back home.
A customer donates a bag of DVD films. She knows I won’t throw them away.
Two women bring in double bags of useless textbooks and donate them. I politely 
express my gratitude, then quietly donate them to the Salvation Army Thrift Store, 
so that they won’t have to lug them a couple of blocks back to their car.
In the early afternoon, it begins to rain, so I patiently bring in the book rack and 
record rack, so that my precious cargo won’t get wet.
PS: I actually sold some items today. I realize that the price of being in this 
business is voluntary service as bartender, coach and triage manager. 
Making an income is in there somewhere

© 2010 A.D. by Jim Reed


Navigating the day, peripheral vision picks up things 
I can’t help but notice. 

I notice the people who file through my life. This 
relentless attribute has followed me since I was a mere lad. 

There are disadvantages to noticing much more than 
I need to notice, but the advantages, oh the advantages, 
far outweigh the disadvantages.
These are my people. They don’t know it, and I don’t 
know why…but these are my people.
Many Birmingham curbs are knocked down for the convenience 
of handicapped and elderly and wounded pedestrians. Many 
Birmingham curbs are not knocked down, and there is no apparent 
logic to how curbs are selected. 
One citizen I see is the knock-down curb-avoidance 
swollen-ankle brown-legal-folder-woman on her 
pain-free descent into incomplete city street engineering. 
She carries her burden to the curb, notices that there’s 
no ramp, and carefully circles ‘round to the next curb, 
which is smoothed down. Every step is taken gingerly, 
to avoid as much pain as possible.
One customer at Reed Books always catches me in the midst of his own 
monologue. He enters the store in mid-sentence and never stops chatting till 
he leaves minutes later—or scores of minutes later. He needs to know that I 
am listening to him, and I, the bartender, do my best to continue my work while 
paying attention to him. He seems happier when he leaves.
Then there’s the one-foot-wheelchair racer who tries to dodge the traffic while 
scooting his one undamaged foot on the sidewalk, creating  a manual scooter 
that helps him go faster than mere arms or wheels allow. Later, I see the 
straining-wheelchair-couple attempting to navigate and avoid four lanes of 
oncoming traffic while frantically pushing their big wheels with muscular arms. 
They make it safely across, and we the traffickers politely slow down to allow 
their passage.
As I drive the automatic asphalt lanes, sweet music from the radio brings peace 
prior to mayhem. My mind is momentarily settled.
Amazement # 456: I see a woman on her way to work who isn’t using a cell phone! 
Who isn’t texting. Who isn’t primping in the rear view mirror. Who isn’t day dreaming. 
Amazing amazement! What’s her problem?
The lone childshoe lies on its side in the median. From a one-legged child? From a 
two-legged child with only one shoe? Is it a fugitive shoe that got away from its mate 
on purpose? A purposely discarded shoe? An object thrown in anger? Something that 
fell off a truck? The lone childshoe deposits its own unanswered mystery as I drive past.
The long cyclist-slope-inertia-ride takes place before me. The bicycle takes advantage 
of a long incline to pick up speed and churn the rider’s stomach in exaltation. Hope he 
makes it safely to wherever.

The retired majorette still wears her majorette outfit and makeup and the memory of 
twirling rests visibly upon her shoulder and on her glossy scarlet-lipsticked lips. 
She purchases an old book on how to become a majorette and proudly tells me about 
her majorette days long past but ever present.

She joins my family without her knowledge.

These are my people. They don’t know it, and I don’t know 
why…but these are my people
--Jim Reed © 2010 A.D.