Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It really was a beautiful sweater

Brett and I spent the day in San Francisco last year while we were getting passports in preparation for our trip to Mexico. No, you don't normally have to go all the way to San Francisco for a passport. Yes, we could have sent away for them. But there were some technical difficulties which led us to believe they wouldn't arrive on time and we didn't want to take that chance.

Aaaaanyway, it was a blustery day in San Fran and we didn't realize that we would be spending a great deal of time in the out-of-doors while waiting in line to get into the building for our appointment. Not only that, but after we'd parked the car, we didn't want to move it, so we spent most of the day wandering the streets in the cold, cold wind.

We ducked into a men's clothing shop to warm our toes for a bit and Brett discovered a leather jacket which fit him perfectly. To our surprise, it was on sale and after the discount it was a steal. We bought it with the rationalization that Brett had neglected to bring his coat and it was far too cold for him to be without one that day. Also, he'd always wanted a leather jacket.

I wasn't really too cold, especially now that I had a big hunk of leather-wrapped man to nuzzle my face into. But Brett felt I needed something more substantial than my windbreaker, so we kept an eye out for an inexpensive jacket or sweater for me.

I'm not sure what area of the city we were in, but there were a million stores to shop in. Some were very reasonably priced, like where we bought Brett's jacket. Some were very, very high-end. At one point, we went into an upscale necktie shop. There were maybe 30 ties on display, which is not very many considering that's all the merchandise they had. After extolling the virtues of Italian silk neckties and ascots, the salesman asked Brett to select his favorite.

"Oooohhhh," he cooed with delight at Brett's choice. "An excellent decision. You can wear with many different earth-tones and will look also very sophisticated with black. Shall I wrap it up for you?"

"No, no," we laughed. "We're just poking around the city, trying to get out of the wind. Brett has lots and lots of ties."

"But, everyone must have at least one Italian silk necktie!" he cried in a passionate Italian way. "It last forever and your selection never go out of style! I give you a special price because I like you. You are nice young couple. I do you a favor. Today only $395.00."

I snorted. Brett politely considered the offer for about 3 seconds and then we hightailed it out of there. Like I said, Brett has lots of ties and we'd rather KEEP OUR HOUSE than pay hundreds of dollars for a fashion accessory (even if the salesperson did keep calling it an "accoutrement").

We moseyed down the street a little further when Brett stopped short. He gasped. "Okay, that's the sweater I want you to get. That's the most awesome sweater I've ever seen. I don't care how much it is. It's too cold for you not to buy that sweater and wow, I've just never seen anything so beautiful."

The sweater was gorgeous. It was a rich peacock-blue hue with a subtle green and purple design woven in at the edges and cuffs. It looked soft and warm and oh-so-inviting.

"Go in and try it on," he urged. I protested, telling him that I was sure it would be very expensive and that a shop like that wouldn't carry my size anyway. "It won't hurt just to try it on," he insisted, "You might be surprised. I'm going into the shop next door. Buy it if you like it, even if it is a little expensive." He shoved me toward the door and took off.

An small tinkling bell announced my arrival in the shop and summoned the most elegant woman I have ever seen. From tip to toe, she was flawless. Her hair was immaculately styled, her makeup enhanced her exotic features, and her four-inch heels sunk deep into the plush carpet on the shop floor.

"Good afternoon," she smiled warmly. "Is there something I can show you?" Her voice carried just a hint of a Slavic accent.

The thick silence of the shop was deafening after the cacophony of the noisy street corner outside. I was suddenly conscious of my wind-whipped hair, watery eyes, and touristy capri pants. She didn't seem to notice. I had her full attention and she never once gave me a look of disapproval.

"I....uh... My husband really liked the sweater in the window. Can you show me where it is?"

She glided across the room and took my arm. "Certainly. Your husband has a wonderful eye for style. This is a very classic design. It looks wonderful on everyone and the colors are so vibrant."

She hung my purse out of the way and helped me slip off my tattered old windbreaker. "It's... uhhh... really windy today and... uhhh he wanted to get something to help me stay warm," I stammered.

"He must certainly love you, then. This sweater is a nice weight for days like today." She pulled the sweater up over my shoulders. "How does it feel?"

It felt like falling into a cloud in heaven. Fuzzy softness surrounded me from neck to knee. The chill evaporated from my bones and I could feel a rosy glow creeping up my cheeks.

"It looks beautiful on you," she said earnestly. "Step over here and look in the mirror."

She was right. It looked fantastic and felt great. I knew it would be pricey, but I also knew I would want to wear it every day and it would go with absolutely every piece of clothing I own, so it might be worth a splurge.

"Wow," I breathed.

"Yes," she agreed. She told me the designer's name and said he was well-known for his beautiful, classic outerwear designs.

"It's incredible. I've never owned anything like this before. How much is it?"

Without a crack in her porcelain demeanor, she replied, "Eight thousand five hundred and seventy-five dollars."


I'm sure she was not surprised when I regretfully declined to purchase it. "I understand," she said gently. "But maybe another day, you'll be back."

Brett was waiting for me on the noisy, windy street corner. "So," he shouted above the traffic, "You didn't like it?"

"No. It was perfect. Just too expensive."

"C'mon! It's freezing out here! We just spent over $100 on my jacket! You deserve it!"

No, I'm pretty sure I've done nothing in my life to merit an $8500 sweater. Really, though, has anyone?

Which begs the question: WHO ON EARTH COULD AFFORD SOMETHING LIKE THAT? Seriously, that's so far out of the realm of possibility for 99.9% of the people on the entire planet. That's like so far beyond even doctor-rich or CEO-rich. That's like heiress-rich or movie-star rich.

So, when I see Paris Hilton or Katie Holmes on the cover of People magazine, wearing my sweater, I'll be sure to let you know.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Paging Dr. Pinhead...

If the word "fathead" was invented to describe Rush Limbaugh, then then word "pinhead" was certainly invented to describe Dr. Laura. I have formed this opinion by listening to a total of 10 minutes (combined) of both their shows. I don't necessarily disagree with the content of their messages but they are both so darn abrasive that I wonder how anyone can stand the sound of their voices.

The other day, I was out running errands at a time when I'm normally at work. Dr. Laura was on the radio so I thought I'd give her a listen.

A young father called in and was concerned about his six-year-old daughter's bad habit. He wanted to know what would be the best way to encourage her to stop. Should they ignore it and hope she grows out of it? Should they scold her and risk psychological trauma? He explained that she was an only child and they were very concerned and caring parents who only what to do what was best.

Dr. Laura listened for a while then interrupted him mid-sentence to give her opinion. (I'm paraphrasing here.)

"Well, children can have bad habits for two reasons. They are anxious or they are bored."

She stopped. She seemed to be waiting for him to elaborate on his daughter so he jumped in to fill the silence.

"Well, she's pretty self-confident and there aren't a whole lot of situations where she gets anxious, so I don't think that's it. But, yeah, she's probably bored a lot because she's an only child, so I could definitely see..."

She interrupted again. "Sir! You are repeating yourself! I am trying to conduct an investigation into what might be the root cause of your daughter's bad habit you are giving me the same facts over and over and over again! Please, only say something if you are going to be able to add useful information!"

The caller was stunned into silence again and I turned the station.

What a pinhead. She wasn't "conducting an investigation" into anything. She gave him two sentences of advice and then stopped talking. Then she screamed at him for trying to keep the conversation going, which I would think is a good thing for a TALK RADIO SHOW.

I'm sure she probably talks to a lot of people who really are morons. People who call and have big drama of their own making who need someone to give them a verbal slap in the face. She probably gives a lot of good advice to people who will never follow it because it's too hard or they are too self-delusional. That must be hard for her. Maybe she was having a bad day, who knows?

But she reminded me of Sylvia Browne, the world-renown psychic who appears each week on the Montel show. Sylvia will just make up nonsense as a psychic answer to some poor schmuck's question and then changes her prediction based on what the schmuck's reaction is.

"Yes, I see a woman standing near you. She has really long, dark hair. Tell me who that is?"

"Long, dark hair? Hmm... I don't know anyone who..."

"Well, yeah. It's like, you know, shoulder length. Kind of a light brown color."

"Oh yeah! That's my sister Sally!"

"Yup. I had a feeling her name started with an S, but I wasn't sure if it was Sarah or Sally, so I didn't want to say anything. Anyway, she wants you to know that she loves you and forgives you."

"Forgives me? But she died when she was four."

"Yeah. How old were you at the time? Six? Well, she wants you to forgive yourself. Because all these years you've been feeling guilty."

"Well, I do miss her a lot..."

"See? Exactly. Let it go. Sally would want it that way."

*poor schmuck starts to cry* *audience applauds*

Her original story of seeing a woman with long, dark hair turned out to be a four-year-old girl with shoulder-length light brown hair, all based on the feedback she got from the schmuck. And people believe this crap.

That exactly what Dr. Laura did. She gave her diagnosis of "bored" or "anxious" and waited for the guy to agree with one or the other. Then when he started to steal her thunder by continuing on with the train of thought, she sniped at him because she wanted to be the one who figured it out, not him.

I would bet that the next words out of her mouth were, "Your daughter is bored because she's an only child. You need to provide more distraction and activity for her."

Wow. Freaking genius. No wonder America loves you, Dr. Laura.

Same call, different day

Her: This is Alice from careerbuilder.com. I need to speak to the person in charge of your hiring.

Me: What do you need, exactly?

Her: I need to speak to the person in charge of your hiring to tell him or her about the products and services we offer.

Me: We are not interested. Please put us on the "do not call" list.

Her: Can I ask why you are not interested?

Me: No. We just aren't. Please put us on the "do not call" list.

Her: Well, ma'am, who would it be that I could talk to about hiring in the future?

Me: No one. Because you are putting us on the "do not call" list, remember?

Her: *sigh* O-kaaaay. Thanks for your help.

Seriously people! I only have a small problem with you calling as long as you are polite and respectful and immediately responsive when I tell you not to call back. I have a huge problem when you think you are all hot stuff, like this lady, and figure that you can weasel more information out of me just because you are more well-spoken than the average telemarketer and I must just be a lowly receptionist who has been given a charge not to let telemarketers disturb the higher-ups but is incapable of making a decision about whether my company needs what you are selling.

Well, guess what sistah, unbeknownst to you, you did reach the person in charge of hiring and she told you in no uncertain terms to stuff it. And as the person in charge of hiring (and lady, if you really wanted to impress you might use a more professional term like "HR Specialist"... just a thought) I want to let you know that we will never, ever, ever use careerbuilder.com. Ever.

And no, you cannot ask why.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Well, we didn't know what that was

I was having trouble a couple of weeks ago reconciling a statement sent to us by one of our regular vendors. Last month's check seemed to have been applied to random invoices, resulting some some items being prepaid and some being overdue.

I called the company and asked to be transferred to the accounting department. I got Holly's voicemail:

"Hi, you've reached Holly. I'm in the office today, but not at my desk so please leave a message and include your account number. Bear in mind that I am REALLY busy, so I might not be able to get right back to you."

O-kay. Essentially tell me right in your message that you are not going to call me back. Nice. I left a message explaining the problem and asking that she phone me. That was on August 7th.

On August 12th, I figured I'd enough time had elapsed even for a busy person to find a moment to call me back, so I left another message.

On August 15th, I left another message saying that I wouldn't be able to pay the invoices until I was able to get the statement straightened out. I thought that might get her attention.

Apparently not. She never called me back.

Today, I called and asked to speak to the accounting manager. He was smart and helpful and said he'd look into it and have someone call me.

So, Robin called me back later in the afternoon.

"Andrea, I did review your account and there were some errors on our part, but well, frankly it looks like there are some errors on your end, too."

I was skeptical, not because I don't make mistakes, but because it's really, really hard to make a mistake when you pay the balance on the statement in full. Robin elaborated:

"Well, there's a credit memo here for $xxx.xx. Maybe you can tell me what that is?"

"That's our 3% discount we take for paying in full by the 10th of the month."

"Discount on what, exactly?"

"Uhhhh... on the total amount that we owe for the month."

She digested that. I could hear her adding machine working fast and furious in the background, verifying my math.

"Humph. I see. Well, we just didn't have anyway of knowing what that was. So, that's why your statement is off. We just didn't know what that was."

"That's the way we've always done it. It's never been a problem before. Is there another way you would prefer to have it done?"

"Well, I don't know. It's just no one here in the office could figure out what that amount was for."

"So, when I sent in the remittance stub with my check with the words '3% discount = $xxx.xx' written on it, that wasn't clear enough?"


"I'm not actually the person who handles that."

"Well, who is? Holly?"

"Sort of. We both work on it."

"It's funny, but I've been trying to get a hold of Holly for 3 weeks and she's never returned my calls."

"Maybe she just didn't get your message."

"I left 3 different messages."


"We're really busy here in the office. Maybe she didn't have time to call back."

"In three weeks? Not even a courtesy call to tell me she's busy but she got my message?"



"We're really busy...she probably would have called you back but no one in the office could figure out what that credit memo was..."


"We're really busy. We didn't know what it was."

And on and on. I'm tempted to not pay the statement this month. When they call to demand payment, I'll just say, "Yeah. I've been busy and well, I just didn't know what it was."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Do I have detail-oriented co-workers?

You decide.

When we run out of office or shop supplies, someone will usually start a shopping list and pin it to the bulletin board. The last guy who started a list put a title at the top:

"Things We Need To Get"

Personally, I don't think a shopping list needs a title. A piece of paper, tacked to the corkboard, exactly where our shopping lists have hung for the last 15 years, with items like "copy paper" and "staples" written on it, is probably going to be... well, self-evident as to its purpose. But okay. If you want to title it, then "Things We Need To Get" is a fine title. It's to the point and an accurate description of what this mystery piece of paper is.

A few days later, I noticed the list had been revised. The title, "Things We Need To Get" had been crossed out. Underneath, a new title had been typed in to more accurately describe the purpose of this piece of paper:

"Shopping List"

Whew. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I did not work hard on this.

Today at work, I received an unusual piece of junk mail. It was a glossy, three-fold pamphlet advertising some sort of specialty office supply. I normally would have thrown it out without a second glance, but the message on the front caught my eye.

"Please Don't Throw Me Away!

At Least look At Me.

Alot Of Hard Work Went Into Making Me For You!

And Our Pricing Is Great Too!"

Never mind the overzealous use of capital letters and the common misspelling of "a lot." What grabbed my attention was the fact that they expected me to not toss the brochure as trash (and by extension expected me to consider buying their product) simply because they had worked hard to make it.

Ahem... excuse me for a moment...


What marketing genius thought that up? Is this supposed to get some sort of sympathy vote? It's plain that someone did some work to bring this brochure into existance, but honestly, I can't even believe they worked "hard" on it. It was totally non-descript and looked exactly like any of a thousand of pieces of junk mail I toss every week.

Even if it had been interesting or flashy or creative, is the fact the someone "worked hard" on it really a reason for me to open it? No. That's just pathetic.

I think this thing stems from the "self-esteem" thinking that seems to be prevalent today. The most important thing for some parents and educators is that a child grows up with high self-esteem. They seem to believe that any criticism will cause a child's self-esteem to falter and his ability to achieve will be compromised.

In a way, it is a self-fulfilling prophesy. If a person grows up being continually indoctrinated with the idea that everything he never makes mistakes and everything he does is a rousing success, then yes, of course, any criticism will probably be crippling.

I'm not saying good self-esteem isn't an important component of being a high-achiever, it's just not the only thing. People need to learn the difference between what is a real triumph of hard work and something they may have worked hard on, but is still crap. We learn because we are allowed to receive feedback and criticism. If everything you put hard work into is excellent, just because you worked hard on it, you loose the motivation to do it even better the next time.

I guess their marketing ploy worked better than I thought it would, because I actually did open and peruse the brochure instead of just throwing it away. But only so I could make fun of it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Transgender platypus?

The morons on the radio this morning were having a "deep" discussion about a transgender individual named Isis, who will be on America's Next Top Model this season.

The two supporting DJs, Dawn & Arnie, were of diametrically opposing viewpoints on the issue. They exchanged their opinions in the heat of emotion, neither willing to listen or consider the other's point of view.

Finally, Dawn turned to Rob (the main and most intelligent DJ on the show) for support and said, "Rob, it's like the platypus. Tell him about the platypus!"

My ear perked up immediately.

"The platypus?" Rob questioned.

"Yes!" Dawn raged. "The platypus! The platypus is the only mammal that lays eggs. It's the only venomous mammal on the planet. It has a duck bill and a beaver tail and webbed otter feet. It's different, but that doesn't make it wrong. That's true, isn't it, Rob?"

"You want to know if it's true that a platypus is like a transgendered person?"


"Well, of course. They're both freaks of nature."

I resent that remark.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I'll do my shopping at night from now on

I went to the grocery store this morning to pick up some noms for lunch. As I was pulling in the less-frequently used side driveway to the shopping center, I saw several drop cloths laying in the empty parking spaces. I thought it was odd because the shopping center is fairly new and certainly not in need of painting. Also, there were no work vehicles anywhere in sight.

As I drove toward the other end of the lot, I saw a beat-up green Taurus slowly cruising along. Every few feet, the car would stop and the driver would hurl out another drop cloth. Weird. What kind of painting company sends a private vehicle out early in the morning just to throw drop cloths into the parking lot? Wouldn't it be better if the driver got out and arranged the cloths so they were actually covering the ground near where the painting would be taking place?

The driver of the Taurus turned suddenly, gunned the engine, and raced down the aisle (nearly clipping my car in the process). I could see the driver was a young woman with a look of steely determination in her eyes. She screeched to a halt as a man jumped out in front of her car.

The man slammed his hands down on the hood and they exchanged heated words. He walked to the driver side window and she threw a pair of shoes at him. He swore at her, she swore back and threw another pair of shoes at him. She raced off, leaving the man in a trail of black exhaust, his arms extended wide in a "What the..." posture.

With an air of resignation, he slowly bent down and picked up the shoes and a drop cloth. I realized then that what I had thought were drop cloths were actually denim jeans. His jeans.

Ahhh... so baby did a bad bad thing and got caught. I guess kicking him out wasn't enough. She had to spread his clothes all over the Safeway parking lot. When I left the store and headed to work, I could see she had not limited herself to the parking lot. There were clothes strewn for a least a mile down the nearest main drag.

I laughed. I couldn't help it. I wasn't laughing at their domestic difficulties, though. I was laughing at the fact that this man, who maybe had a 26-inch waist, owned at least 12 pairs of jeans large enough to be mistaken for drop cloths.

Haha, haha.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


We're shorthanded today and I made the mistake of answering the phone at work just now... remind me to never do that again.

Me: Good afternoon, (company name). How may I direct your call?

Him: Is this the Sacramento store?

Me: Yes, it is.

Him: Lemme talk to Lori.

Me: I'm sorry. There's no Lori who works here.

Him: No. Loren. I want to talk to Lor-en.

Me: Oh, I'm sorry. Loren just comes in as needed. He's not here today. Is there someone else who can help you?

Him: No. Larry. I want to talk to Larry.

Me: Sir, I'm sorry. There's no Larry here. Maybe if you tell me what you need I can direct your call to someone who can help you.

Him: I want to talk to Larry... in maintenance.

Me: Maintenance? Like, you want to talk to our janitor?

Him: *sigh* Maintenance. Larry. He's a maintenance guy... you know, like he works on the engines and stuff.

Me: A mechanic? We don't have a mechanic named Larry, but I can connect you to the service department.

Him: *exasperated* Yes. The service department. That's what I want.

So, I transfer him to the service manager. Five seconds later, I hear the service manager paging over the intercom.

"Sales, line one. Sales, line one."

Monday, August 11, 2008

You are afraid of the claw (part 2)

Brett takes a fiendish delight in tormenting me while I shower. When we had glass doors on our shower, he would wait until I was rinsing my hair (and hence had my eyes closed), sneak into the bathroom, slam both hands on the glass, and holler, "RRRRRAAAAWWWHHHH!" It was quite startling and did not endear him to my heart.

Now that the glass doors are gone, he has to find alternate ways of making my showertime a living hell. He will still creep in and holler while slapping the shower curtain around, but it's not really the same. And after so many uses, it's lost what little effectiveness it had in the first place.

He was quite fond of dumping things over the top of the shower curtain for a while. You know, flour, Kool-aid, ice water, stuff like that. Operations like that, however, were quite a bit more risky and less likely to be successful. He might dump an entire gallon of carefully prepared ice water over the top, only to discover that I was at the other end of the tub shaving my legs. There was also the retribution factor. If he didn't bug out of there fast enough, you can bet I was going to spray him with the showerhead.

His new favorite game is to very quietly reach his little paw in and turn the water knob from "Ahhh...warm shower" to "Holy cold water, batman!" This is very smooth since it's almost completely silent and he can be in and out before I even know he was there.

I am on constant alert when I know Brett is home and awake during my showertime. I've had to change the way I shower, just to be ready for his little surprises. I used to let the warm water massage my back for most of the time. Now, I face the faucet, ready to slam down the diverter if I see his grubby paw intruding on my space.

Brett laughs at me for the noise I make when I do see his hand dart in and out of the shower. Even if I am successful in stopping the cold water from reaching me, I always yelp. Or...yawp. Or make some other non-human sounding holler. It's hard to describe. It sounds like, "Aaarbbbgggllliiii!" Or something like that.

The noise is visceral, guttural reflex. I can't control it and I certainly can't stop it. I had to explain it to Brett this morning.

"You see, my first thought when I see your hand is not, 'Oh no! Cold water coming!' or 'Ack! Brett's up to his old tricks!' No. My first thought every single time is, 'A disembodied hand! I'm going to die!' It always takes me a minute to realize that it's YOUR hand."

Over his peals of laughter, I tried to explain that when I was a youngster I saw a movie about a guy who kept a severed hand in a jar on his desk. The hand came to life (or maybe he was keeping it alive), tipped the jar off the table, dragged itself through the shattered glass, and began crawling across the stone floor. It was terrifying to me. For weeks, maybe months, I had nightmares about severed hands dragging themselves across stone floors to kill me. (In the movie, the scientist stopped the hand by pouring a beaker of acid in it. I wasn't allowed to keep a beaker of acid by my bed, though.)

Someday, a disembodied hand really is going to try and get me in the shower. I just hope my cry of, "ARRRRBGGGLLIII!" is enough to scare it away.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Oh, crap.

Just now, I opened the door to the ladies room here at work and was greeted with the most wretched smell known to the earth. It was what evil smells like, I'm sure. Without turning on the light or crossing the restroom to the toilet, I could see there was a mess of toilet seat covers and wads of paper stuffed into the bowl.

"This can't be good," I thought. "And I really have to go."

I took a step backward and the door slammed shut, trapping the evil-smell inside.

I looked down. There was a schmear of brown on the floor. A few inches away... another schmear. And another... and another. A trail of brown dotted the walkway to the bathroom door.

So. Gross. I understood now. Someone wasn't being inconsiderate. They had legitimately lost control of their bowels a few steps from the bathroom. (No excuse for not cleaning up the toilet, though.)

There were customers hanging around the counter, so I tried to be as discreet as possible. I wet a mess of paper towels, dropped them over the first little pile and rubbed my foot back and forth. Not great results, but it would keep the customer from stepping in the little piles of crap until it could be cleaned thoroughly.

I did the next one... and the next one... After about 2 feet, I realized there was no end to the poop-trail. Someone had come in the front door, poop dripping from their shorts, walked ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE ENTIRE SHOWROOM FLOOR, and exploded into the toilet. And then left the mess for someone else to clean.

Well, crap. There's no way in heck that someone is going to be me.

I was tempted to page over the intercom, "Wet clean up on aisle... well, aisle everywhere."

Someone with a lower propensity to vomit is cleaning it as we speak.

I'm not asking you to be *interested*...

The quality of telemarketing in the world today is rapidly reclining. Just now, I got this call:

TM: We'll be sending you out some information about tech support for your business. I need to verify the address.

Me: I'm sorry. We're not interested. Please take us off your list.

TM: Well, I'm not asking you to be interested. We'll be sending out some information about tech support for your business.

Me: Please, don't do that. We're not interested. Just take us off your list.

TM: Ma'am. You don't have to be interested. We'll be sending out some information about tech support for your business.

Me: *blink blink* You want to send me information for something I'm not interested in? Please, no. Just...take me off your list.

TM: *sigh* You don't have to be interested. We'll be sending out some information about tech support for your business. Is there someone else there I can talk to? A manager or someone? (acting like I'm the idiot)

Me: Well, I'm the office manager. I'm telling you to take our company name off your calling and mailing lists. It doesn't get more official than this.

TM: *sigh* I'll call back later. *click*

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I was expecting a couple of pairs of shoes to be delivered via FedEx last Thursday. I wanted to wear them to a party that Brett and I were attending on Friday night. I was surprised when the package didn't arrive on Thursday, as expected, so I checked the tracking information for my account.

The tracking information indicated that the package had been delivered at 1:06 that afternoon. Brett was home at that time and he didn't recall anyone coming to the door or ringing the bell or even the dogs barking. The following describes my subsequent conversations with FedEx:

Thursday, 6:00 pm
Me: My package was supposed to arrive today but it never came.

FE: I show that it was delivered at 1:06 pm and left by the front door.

Me: Well, it wasn't.

FE: I'm sorry about that ma'am. We'll have to contact the driver when he returns to the station to get some more information from him. What's a good number to contact you at?

Me: It's xxx-xxx-xxxx. That's my cell so call me anytime.

FE: He should be back to the station soon, so we should be able to let you know tonight.

Friday, 6:00 pm
Me: I called yesterday. Someone was supposed to check with the driver about my package and call me. I didn't hear from anyone.

FE: It looks like the driver hasn't returned to the station yet today.

Me: But they were supposed to check with him yesterday and call me.

FE: I'm sorry about that ma'am. I'll have someone call you tonight when the driver returns.

Me: Call me anytime. I'll have my cell phone on.

Friday, 10:00 pm
Me: I called earlier this evening. Someone was supposed to call me about my missing package.

FE: I'm sorry about that ma'am. It looks like we don't have any new information for you.

Me: Well, did someone talk to the driver?

FE: It looks like your question was transmitted to him today at 4:25 pm.

Me: Today? They were supposed to check with him yesterday.

FE: I'm sorry about that ma'am. He hasn't logged a response yet, but it looks like the system hasn't updated since the station closed. I'm sure his response is waiting for you, it just hasn't been uploaded.

Me: When should I call back?

FE: Tomorrow. We'll definitely have the information by tomorrow.

Saturday, 2:00 pm
Me: I'm calling about my package. I was told to call back today.

FE: We've put a trace on your package, but looks like it is missing. I recommend filing a 'missing package claim.'

Me: I thought that's what I did last three times I called and chose the 'missing package claim' option from your menu.

FE: Well, no. I'm sorry about that ma'am. But I can help you with that now... oh, wait... actually I can't file a claim because we are waiting for a response from the driver.

Me: I know. He was supposed to respond Thursday, then I found out your people didn't even ask him until Friday. He was supposed to have responded last night, but I'm assuming, based on your reaction that he didn't. This is my fourth call. I wouldn't keep calling except your reps keep assuring me that they will have more info for me later. What should I do now?

FE: Well, at this point I think you should talk to a supervisor.

Me: Great idea.

So, I talk to Buzz, a supervisor in Dallas. He is smart and genuinely concerned about my plight. He gently suggests that the package might have been mis-delivered and asks if my neighbors wouldn't bring it by if they had received it by mistake. I tell him that every 5th house in my neighborhood is vacant, so if it has been mis-delivered, I will likely never get it.

Buzz tells me he will personally call the station and speak to the driver. I tell him that if the driver did deliver the package to our house, he would certainly remember the piles of dirt and rocks that he had to walk around to get to the front door.

Buzz actually calls me back in a few minutes. The driver is off on Saturday and Sunday, but someone will certainly call me on Monday. Buzz apologizes profusely again and gives me his direct line to call if I don't hear from someone on Monday.

Monday, 7:55 am
FE: Hi, this is FedEx calling you back. Uh, yeah... the driver went out and verified that he did deliver your package to the correct house.

Me: Really? How did he verify it? All the houses in our neighborhood look pretty much alike.

FE: Well, he went out there and verified it.

Me: Sure. But what exactly did he verify? You're telling me he remembered coming to our non-descript tract home 5 days ago well enough to say, "Yup, this is the place"? Did he remember the piles of rocks and dirt in our walkway?

FE: I don't have that information ma'am. I just know he verified it. Do you have house numbers clearly visible?

Me: You tell me. Your driver was supposedly out here "verifying" the address. He should know if I have house numbers. Honestly, lady, I find it very, very improbable that he came all the way out here prior to 8:00 on Monday morning and "verified" the address. I know he was off on Saturday and Sunday. So, can you at least tell me when he "verified" it? I think he's full of it.

FE: I don't have that information ma'am. I can have someone call you.

No one ever called me.

You might think I was being a little hard on the poor woman and you would be right for thinking that. But I knew for a fact that the driver was either a moron or a liar. You see, over the weekend, a neighbor did come by and drop my package off. She lives several streets over, but her house number is the same as mine. Right number, wrong street.

Sure, it's possible the driver came out bright and early Monday morning and verified the address, but if he did, he was at the same wrong house. It's much more likely he's just a liar.

Ironically, when I e-mailed the company from which I had purchased the shoes to let them know my package had been misdirected, they automatically re-shipped my order, free of charge. That package got delivered juuuuuust fine.

By the way, www.endless.com rocks. I highly recommend them for shoes.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Coolest. Aunt. Ever.

My excellent sister-in-law and I have a "merry war betwixt us." We shamelessly vie for the love and affection of our shared nieces and nephews and for the coveted title of "Favorite Aunt." Most of our (my) strategy involves shameless bribery and endless brainwashing. These are young, impressionable children. It only takes a couple of days of quality time to convince them that I am the FUNNEST AUNT EVER and if they vote for me, I will shower them with gifts and love. My visits with them involve a lot of this action:

Me: Niece or nephew, who is your favorite aunt?

N or N: Shauna.

Me: WRONG! I mean, have a cookie, dear. Now who is your favorite aunt?

N or N: You are!

Me: That's right. Aunt Shauna only pretends to like you. I love you a lot and that's why I'm going to spend hours and hours playing your favorite mind-numbing video game with you.

Aunt Shauna has an unfair advantage. She's known these kids since they were born. She's had much more time to bond with them. Plus, she lives close to four of them and gets to do fun things with them ALL THE TIME. I've had to make up a whole lifetime in the seven years I've known them.

But I chip away at her wall of invincibility whenever I can.

A couple of years ago, Brett and I visited the three nieces that live in Virginia. This was more neutral ground. Both Shauna and I can only visit infrequently, so I figured this would be the best time for my special brand of brainwashing, uh, love.

The nieces and I had a great time. We read stories, played video games, took trips, and even baked a cake together. We were solid. When I asked, "Who's your favorite aunt?" The girls would cry with unbridled enthusiasm, "You are!" It was a major coup.

We had to leave very early to catch our flight on the last day. I snuck upstairs to kiss the girls goodbye. Sydney slept soundly as I kissed her cheek and stroked her hair. Savannah woke up a little bit, wrapped her arms around my neck, and put her soft cheek against mine.

"Goodbye, sweet girl." I whispered. "I love you and I'll miss you very much."

"Mmmm..." Savannah replied sleepily. I tiptoed from the room.

"Aunt Andrea?" I heard her little voice call a moment later as I crept down the stairs.

"Yes, honey?" I replied expectantly.

"When you get home, make sure you tell Aunt Shauna I love her."