Author Archives: Bobby Cherry

Camped out in the corner booth at Sheetz

As people came and went, grabbing lunch or an afternoon jolt, there I was camped out in the corner booth.

Headphones in as others nearby talked about colleagues, family or life. As jarring alarms from the kitchen sounded each time a new order came in.

The clackity-clack of my computer keyboard. The amped up music from the store.

And there I was, camped out in the corner booth. For hours on end — usually doing some kind of work. Sometimes, watching a movie or playing a game. Other times, just watching the world pass by.

That was how I spent a large chunk of my life. At Sheetz, camped out in the corner booth. Before a pandemic brought the world to a standstill.

Some had a corner coffee shop. Others, Panera or a library. For me, it was Sheetz.

Sheetz was my third place.

Ray Oldenburg coined the term “third place” — a neutral place where people can meet, gather and interact.

When I worked for a newspaper company, I spent long, countless hours in the office. Sheetz was the place I could unwind before going home.

I’ve used Sheetz for volunteer meetings, lunch meetups, post-theater show outings, midday cold brew coffee jolts, early morning cold brew coffee jolts, evening cold brew coffee jolts, late-night cold brew coffee jolts.

You get the picture.

But that all changed with the COVID-19 pandemic.

No longer did I sit for hours camped out in the corner booth.

My Sheetz trips became blips of time — orders placed on the app and quickly picked up inside at a display kiosk.

In recent weeks, Sheetz reopened the dining areas for use during daylight hours.

I don’t intend to sit down in Sheetz for awhile.

But, soon enough, when the pandemic has ended and I feel comfortable again in public and around others, you’ll find me at Sheetz, camped out in the corner booth.

Image by DAMILARE ODUNUYI from Pixabay

Pepsi Blue returns!

Get ready! Pepsi Blue is making a triumphant return!

The last time we saw Pepsi Blue, Usher had three of the top 25 songs of the year. Nickelback had the 17th best Billboard hits song. “Everybody Loves Raymond” was the top sitcom. “Shrek 2” was the highest-grossing movie.

What was the year?

2004.

Apparently, “passionate Pepsi Blue fans have been clamoring for the return of their beloved berry cola” for years, Pepsi said, according to the USA Today.

The company recently released Pepsi Mango, which is amazing.

Of course, I need a return of Crystal Pepsi. Preferably a zero sugar Crystal Pepsi!

Image by anncapictures from Pixabay

Will ‘Days of our Lives’ be renewed?

Has the sand run out in the hourglass?

“Days of our Lives” wrapped production on April 16 of its 56th season — reportedly filming 112 episodes over the last 14 weeks. And they did that through an ongoing pandemic!

The current contract extends through September. It was last renewed in January 2020.

The last time this happened, Corday Productions — the production company that produces the show for NBC — let all of the actors out of their contracts. It’s not clear if the same situation happened this time around, according to Soap Opera Network.

It should be noted that when this happened in 2019, the news spread like wildfire, suggesting that “Days of our Lives” had been canceled. So, it’s safe to assume that Corday, Sony Pictures Television (which distributes the show for Corday) and NBC likely wanted to avoid a similar situation.

Of course, if NBC does not renew the drama, there are other (albeit, slim) options. NBC could find a way to include it on Peacock (their streaming service) or it could find a home on another streaming service or network.

‘Now it’s time to say goodbye’: Disney Store magic is about to run out

The clock is about to strike midnight on dozens of Disney Store locations.

Keepers of the happiest place on Earth will shut about 40 Disney Store locations on or before March 23. This includes the final Disney Store in Western Pennsylvania — at South Hills Village mall.

The news shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me as retailers continue a mass exodus of brick-and-mortar locations in an effort to stave off losses brought on by online shopping and to appease shareholders.

As a millennial, I’ve mourned the loss of many childhood spots: Children’s Palace, KB Toys, Hills, Kaufmann’s, Sam Goody and, of course, Toys R Us.

But there was something about the Disney Store news that seemed like a tipping point for me.

As a child, shopping wasn’t always a fun experience. I hated what seemed like hours spent in Kaufmann’s fitting rooms trying on clothes. Being dragged to the crowded grocery store on weekend mornings as a kid also wasn’t a magical experience.

Visits to Toys R Us, Hills and the Disney Store always offered a reprieve from the doom and gloom of grown up stores.

The Disney Store always offered that chance to pretend like I was at Disney World — a place I have only visited once as a sophomore in high school on a choir trip. I came close to Disney World again around 2010 but didn’t get a chance to visit.

In true Disney fashion, every inch of the store was steeped in magic — from the decorative columns to the artistic character scenes to the overall theme of the store.

Even as an adult, I regularly stop into the Disney Store and become lost in the magic of childhood stories. (And don’t even ask how many Christmas ornaments I’ve purchased from the Disney Store.)

Browsing the colorful displays as cheerful and very recognizable music pumped through the store added to the magic of Disney. I still got excited seeing stuffed animals, action figures and other collectibles with beloved characters on them.

Slogging through pages and categories and pop up windows and filters on the Disney Store website doesn’t seem to have the same magic as being inside of a brick-and-mortar Disney Store.

On what might have been my final visit to Pittsburgh’s last Disney Store, I purchased what is a very 2021 purchase: Several Disney face masks.

Disney is using lyrics from a version of “The Mickey Mouse Club” theme song to say farewell to fans: “Now it’s time to say goodbye.” Unfortunately, how that song ends (“See you real soon!”) is not how the Disney Store story ends.

‘I don’t have to apologize for letting go or choosing things in the name of my peace and healing’

I did something this week that was long overdue: I stepped away from all of my volunteer and extracurricular activities.

I stepped back from volunteering* with an organization I’ve been heavily involved with for more than 25 years.

I officially resigned from a nonprofit board position, stepped back from a few other nonprofits where I’ve offered assistance or volunteered and said no to some recent asks for my help in other activities.

And it feels good.

(Continue reading below the Instagram post.)

Being forced last year to pause so much helped me take a hard look at what I was spending my life doing. Like a lot of you, I said “yes” far too much.

I’ve been going hard at volunteering for nonprofits for way too long. For many years, I tried to keep track of my hours spent volunteering and I easily racked up anywhere from 1,800 to 2,600 hours a year volunteering.

I’ve put so much time in, and I just needed to take a break — something I’ve been trying to do for a few years now. But every time I found myself with extra time, I found some nonprofit group or activity to fill its void. I’ve said “yes” too often just thinking it would be a simple ask, and it usually wasn’t.

The ongoing global pandemic has taught me that I need to slow down and live my life.

The nonprofit groups will continue. The other activities will go on.

When I’m ready, I’ll find my way back into volunteering — either for groups I’ve recently hit pause on or new endeavors.

There’s a song from one of the greatest musicals — “Avenue Q” — that I often am reminded of: “For Now.” The lyrics go: “Nothing lasts. Life goes on, full of surprises. … Except for death and paying taxes, everything in life is only for now.” This pause is only for now.

What led me to this decision that, from the outside, seems drastic? As I said earlier, it’s been a long time coming. When doing any kind of volunteering, I think of another “Avenue Q” song that goes: “When you help others, you’re really helping yourself.” Helping nonprofit groups began to feel like tasks mounting with no end in sight — and I started to feel as though I wasn’t helping myself.

A friend suggested that nonprofit work should still — at the core — be fun and fulfilling.

The other day, I ran across a post on Facebook with the quote posted above. I found Yasmine Cheyenne’s Instagram account to give her proper credit. But that quote (“I don’t have to apologize for letting go or choosing things in the name of my peace and healing”) really resonated with me. It’s OK to let go.

* Besides, did you really think I could completely step away? I’m still going to raise some money for the American Cancer Society because I signed up as a team captain and don’t want to have a zero-dollar team. But I’m going to do it with as little effort this year. And I still plan to help with a journalism group.

Of course, with an ongoing pandemic, there is little to fill this large chunk of time with. And maybe that’s for the best for now.