Friday, February 29, 2008

Would definitely eat an eclair from the trash

When I was a senior in college, I struck up an internet friendship with a guy from Portland. We seemed to have a lot in common, although I eventually came to realize that it was mostly just surface stuff, like music and movies.

Internet chatting was still pretty new at the time and the process of getting to know someone online was trial and error. Basic common sense dictated rules for safety but the subtle nuances of quickly determining whether or not someone was a total loser had not been established.

We ended up visiting each other in our respective hometowns a couple of times for concerts and special events or whatever. It was a great life lesson to me that no matter how famously you might get along with someone via e-mail or on the phone, all bets are off when you actually have to spend one-on-one time with that person, in person. A person's real-life quirks can never be fully communicated. You have to experience them first-hand.

The day before Portland's first visit, I ran out of toothpaste. It was no big deal. I had another tube waiting in the wings. I threw the empty into the bathroom trashcan and proceeded to squeeze from the bottom of the new tube and flatten as I went up.

The next day Portland gleefully presented me with my old toothpaste tube. "I found this in your trashcan. Look! I flattened it out a little bit more and there's at least another day's worth in there!" And then, a little reprovingly, "Why would you throw that out?"

I should have been grateful that he arrived in the nick of time to save me another day of toothpaste. I might have pleaded my case by saying that I had wanted to coax the last pearls of Colgate from their vinyl prison but I lacked the strength in my fingers. I could have graciously accepted his gift, they way you might accepted the bloody carcass of a dead bird that your cat has left on your doorstep. The fact that he had gone through my trash and, gee, isn't that a little bit weird, didn't even enter my mind.

My thought was, "That was in the trash, snuggled in among used Kleenex, plaque-covered strings of dental floss, and dirty who-knows-what-else and now you want me to drag its germ-infested tip across my toothbrush and then PUT IT IN MY MOUTH!"

What I said was, "Awww, thanks. Since, you rescued it, why don't you use it today?"

And he did.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Logic skills beyond compare

We considered moving several times over the past few years. Sometimes we've looked locally for a larger home and occasionally we've travelled out of state to seek greener pastures. One feature of a new home that is non-negotiable for me is a formal dining room.

The dining room set we now own was our very first major furniture purchase as a married couple. Most of what we started out with was (and still is) hand-me-downs or rejects. We shopped for weeks, unable to agree on what we wanted and what we could afford. I saw many tables and chairs that I liked, but I didn't feel like they would fit with our small home and hodge-podge of random furnishings.

We finally settled on a beautiful, modern design with an inlay pattern on the tabletop and the backs of the chairs. I loved it but my reservation was that it was too big and formal for the space it would be occupying (just a nook off the kitchen). I was persuaded, however, when Brett pointed out that we would not always be living in this home and eventually we would have more room for it.

Another factor to this purchase was the fact that we already owned a large piece of glass that would fit the tabletop almost perfectly. Because the design was not real wood, just a veneer, we knew we would need to protect it and a large piece of glass could be very expensive.

Fast forward to house hunting in Idaho years later. The realtor is becoming frustrated because I'm rejecting many of the homes he thinks would be perfect for us. (Apparently, homes with formal dining rooms are not as common as I think they are.) Being a helpful agent, he points out that it might not be a good idea to make a major decision like buying a home based on a piece of furniture that could easily be replaced.

Imagine his dismay when I explained that, since we bought the table specifically because we had a piece of glass that already fit it, we were in actuality buying a home around a piece of glass.

A piece of glass that no longer exists. It fell and shattered all over our dining room nook shortly after we bought the table.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mexican Mormons?

My husband and I vacationed in Cabo San Lucas last year. We had quite a shock, thinking that Mexico would be a utopian wonderland of cheap food and jewelery. As the resort host succinctly stated: "This is not Mexico. This is CABO. Nothing is cheap in Cabo." Or as my husband put it: "It was like San Diego. Only more people spoke English."

All pesos aside, I still loved bartering with the locals. Every morning, a whole crew of grimey, leather-skinned locals would set up camp just outside the rope barrier which separated our side of the beach from their side of the beach. The unsuspecting resort guests (ourselves included) would wander down to check out their offerings and quickly be lured into a cat-and-mouse game which centered around the question of whether or not they were willing to pay $30 for earrings which were worth no more than $2.

As we haggled with Paco for sunglasses one blisteringly sunny afternoon, I noticed a collection of bongs discreetly displayed among his wares. I nudged my husband to check out a particular bong in the shape of a woman's torso with, well, "huge tracts of land." I knew our minds would run down the same road. Doesn't smoking pot decrease your amorousity? Why would a pot-head want a naked-lady bong?

Well, Paco caught my subtle elbow-jab in Brett's direction and this conversation followed:

Paco: Oh, ju smoke, amigos?

Brett: Uh, no. We just think that's funny.

Andrea: Yeah, we don't smoke. We're mormon!

Paco (looking back at his friends): Oh, yeah? Me and Antonio and Pablo we're mormons, too.

Brett: I doubt it.

Paco: Si, si. We're Mexican mormons. All the Mexican mormons smoke. We can't relax unless we have some weed every day.

Brett: Sounds like you need to repent. Go talk to your bishop.

Paco: We can't. He's smoking weed, too!

Andrea: Well, go to church. Jesus loves you.

I'm pretty sure I know where the $20 we paid for the sunglasses went. Into the bong shaped like a naked lady. Now that I think about it, it looked like it had already been used.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

E-mail ettitiqute or generation gap?

Since my co-worker and I work at different stores but our responsibilities overlap a little bit we often communicate via e-mail. She has several curious habits that I've never encountered before in a business environment.

1. She uses an excessive amount of wordy filler phrases, which don't really mean anything. Example:

"I'm sorry to bother you but if you wouldn't mind when you have the time
and it is convenient for you, would you please be so kind to send me another
deposit book. I'm running low and I only have one more left and it will
only last me another month or so. So, please, if you wouldn't mind, I'd
appreciate it."

This is the way she speaks as well, which I understand. But it amuses me that she would take the time to actually type out all the fluffy phrases. Is this more polite than, "Would you please send me another deposit book?" I don't think so. I'm still saying "please."

2. She uses my name constantly in her e-mails. So the above message turns into:

"Andrea, I'm sorry to bother you but if you wouldn't mind when you have the
time and it is convenient for you, would you please be so kind to send me
another deposit book. I'm running low, Andrea, and I only have one more
left and it will only last me another month or so. So, please Andrea, if
you wouldn't mind, I'd appreciate it."

This bothers me way more than it should. I feel it is condescending--like the way you would talk to a small child to make sure he is paying attention to you. Or maybe she thinks her e-mail might fall into the wrong hands? Maybe someone who is not Andrea might start to read it and realize, "Hey, this isn't for me! It's for someone named 'Andrea.' I'd better see if I can track her down!"

3. Without fail, every message will have a follow-up "thank you." If I respond to her request for a deposit book with, "I'll have the courier bring one to you," I will always get a "thank you" message. Multiply that by, oh, I don't know, every single e-mail we send in a week and I have 40 messages which just say "thank you."

I suppose she's never read any e-mail ettitiqute articles, all of which say, "Get to the point. Don't waste your time or the recipient's time with extra keystrokes. Don't reply to every single e-mail with a 'thank you.'" It may be a generational thing. (She is sixtysomething, which is thirtysomething years older than me.) Maybe this is a throwback to a time when people used many, many, many more words to get their point across.

I wonder if she thinks my e-mails are rude. "That Andrea... she's always so demanding and forceful. She never asks if I would mind or if it is convenient for me. Plus, I'm always so confused because I don't know if the e-mail is actually for me because she never uses my name."

I wouldn't be surprised.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Is that your final answer?

Phone solicitation forwarded to me at work today:

Him: I'm trying to get ahold of the decision maker for your AT&T long distance account.

Me: That's me.

Him: Are you the FINAL decision maker?

Me: That depends. What do you need?

Him: I need to talk to the FINAL DECISION maker for your AT&T long distance account. Is that you?

Me: That depends on what kind of FINAL DECISION needs to be made.

Him: Ma'am, if you were the FINAL DECISION MAKER it wouldn't matter what decision needs to be made.

*click* (he hangs up on me)