Friday, September 11, 2009

Jiffy-suck, a three-part tragedy

Let me tell you about my ongoing saga with Jiffy-Lube. It began 2 years ago when we purchased our new car. Eager to keep it in tip-top shape, I was excited to take it in for the first oil change at 3,000 miles. I was especially excited because the tires were getting low and I hate hate hate to take the car to the gas station to pump up the tires. Most of the gas stations around here require you to pay for air, or have a token to turn on the air machine. Then there's the frantic scrambling around to get to all four tires before the machine shuts off. There's the heavy, heavy hose which wants to retract without warning and drag itself across my shiny new paintjob. There's the squatting down and gravel and dirty fingers and all the other un-pleasantries which come with putting air in the tires. Needless to say, I am more than happy to let Jiffy-Lube take care of it.

Part 1

The service at the Jiffy-Lube on this day was particularly speedy. I was in and out before I could really delve into which spices Martha Stewart felt would make my cooking unforgettable. As I pulled back onto the road, I checked the dashboard display, fully expecting my tire pressure to read at 32 psi in all four tires. Wrong. Three tires were at 32, but the rear passenger tire was still at 27.

I sighed a heavy sigh. Was it worth it to turn around and take the car back? I'd have to make a u-turn, and then wait at 2 left-turn lights. But given my previously discussed hatred of filling my own tires, I decided it was definitely worth it.

I pulled back in and someone came running out to meet me.

"I'm sorry," I began. "I was just here and it looks like one of my tires didn't get filled up. Can you check it for me again?"

"How do you know that?" the guy asked, a little defensively.

"I have a display on my dash that tells me what the tire pressure is. It looks like all the other tires got filled, just not the rear passenger-side. Will you check it for me?"

"Well, we pump up all four tires when we do the service. That's our policy. I'm sure we did all of yours."

"It doesn't look like it, but whatever. Can you put some more air in it for me anyway? I'd like to have it at 32 like all my other tires. I see there's no one in the service bay. I'd be happy to pull it right in. Your guys can just fill it up really quick and I'll be on my way."

He pondered this for a moment. "You know what it is? It's your display. Those sensors take a little bit to reset. I'm sure yours just hasn't reset itself yet. You just need to drive it around."

"I think it has reset. I mean, all the other tires are showing that they are full and they weren't when I came in here. I just don't think that 3 out of 4 sensors would reset. I think someone just forgot to fill that tire."

"No. That's not it. You just need to drive it around."

"I did. I drove it out of here, down the street and back again when I realized that my tire was still low."

"You need to drive it some more. If it's still showing low when you get home, then bring it back and we'll be happy to fill it for you."

I knew he was full of it. So I did drive home and promptly logged a complaint on Jiffy-Lube's website. It wasn't that big of a deal, but I thought if I made enough noise I might get a free oil change out of it. I laid it on thick, too. "I KNOW that he was patronizing me because I'm a WOMAN and he didn't think I would understand about tire pressure because I'm just a GIRL... blah blah blah..." It was over the top, but not too far from the truth.

That evening, I got a call from Jiffy-Lube. At first I though they were responding to my e-mail. You know, because I had checked the box indicating I would like someone to contact me about my concern. No, it turned out that they were just having a major customer service push or evaluating the dealer's franchise or something and they were calling everyone that had work done at that location.

The nice lady seemed very concerned and I told her exactly what I had e-mailed earlier. She apologized again and again and asked if I would like to have someone contact me. "Well, if you aren't the person who can give me a free oil change, then yes. Have someone contact me." (I may or may not have actually said this to her.)

I waited for the opportunity to share my tale of discrimination and woe with a corporate executive. Surprisingly, no one ever called.

Part 2

Jiffy-Lube keeps sending us coupons which is why I keep patronizing them. I decided I would NEVER EVER go back to the shop in Elk Grove (serious injury inflicted) but that I'd try the shop just down the street from my office. I had a satisfactory experience there and for some reason that convinced me that I would have a satisfactory experience if I would just give the Elk Grove shop another try. I'm so stupid.

This time when I went in, I requested that all four tires be inflated to 35 psi, instead of the manufacturer recommended 32 psi. No problem, he assured me. It'll be done in a jiffy.

I honestly don't know WHAT the problem is with those people and inflating tires, but when I drove away, the tires on the left side at 32 psi and the tires on the right side at 45 psi.

Bless their poor, dense, dumber-than-dirt hearts.

Part 3

After deciding that I would NEVER EVER EVER AND I MEAN IT THIS TIME go to the Elk Grove shop again, my next oil change was at the Jiffy-Lube near my office. They got the tires right the last time, they can do it again. High score for the Florin Jiffy-Lube!

But when I pulled out of the driveway the next morning, there was a fair amount of oil underneath where my car had been parked. I inspected it closely. It was fresh and there was enough of it that I was concerned. So, back to the Jiffy-Lube I went.

The manager happened to be working at the counter when I arrived, so I was saved the trouble of asking for him. I asked if they would take a look and verify that everything had been properly tightened. Without even looking at my car, he said, "Yeah, that's just condensation from the air conditioner. It's just water. You see, the way the a/c works is that..."

I interrupted him. "I know how an a/c works. And this wasn't water. It was oil. I know what oil looks like when it's on my driveway. I put my finger in it. It wasn't leaking yesterday morning. Now it's leaking. You guys worked on it. Something didn't get tightened properly. You need to fix it."

He was a little taken aback. "Well, I can assure you that everyone involved in servicing your car yesterday is a trained professional. There's no way they would have made a mistake like that."

I was going to say, "Yeah, just like there's no way they'd inflate two of my tires to 45 psi." But then I remembered that I was at the wrong Jiffy-Lube, so instead I said, "It's leaking. You need to check it out."

"Well, of course we're going to check it out," he said in a tone that implied that he was offended that I had implied they weren't going to look at it, even though he'd been arguing with me since I walked in the door. "We want all our customers to be satisfied.*"

*even the delusional weirdos who can't tell the difference between water and oil on the driveway his tone implied

I watched them check it out of the corner of my eye. I can't be sure, but it certainly looked like the manager went under the car, inspected it, came up out of the pit, grabbed a technician who was dressed for getting dirty and who had a wrench in hand, made him climb under the car, tighten something, all the while guiltily looking around to see if anyone was watching.

The manager returned and triumphantly exclaimed to the whole shop, "Well, we checked it out and everything looks fine! There's no problem here! Nope! Everything is all tightened! No leaks! Yup! Everyone did what they were supposed to yesterday! It's all perfect!"

I wondered who he was trying to convince, since I was the only one present.

I'm running out of conveniently located Jiffy-Lubes to whom I can take my car to have them screw it up in a new and completely original way.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Missing person

Have you seen this woman?

Last seen leaving California to attend Education Week in Utah. Has not been seen or heard from since. Devoted wife and mother. Doting grandmother. Exceptionally talented painter, sculptor, and potter. Distinguishing characteristics: high cheekbones, sparkling smile, cleavage. World traveler, including Chitzen Itza (see prior distinguishing characteristic). Limitless enthusiasm for life. Laughs at (all my) jokes. Loved by all, especially Sunbeams and grandkids. Hobbies include playing Catan, playing Catan, playing Catan, cheating at Catan, and playing Catan.

If you see this woman, be sure to give her a cookie for me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The world is still full of serious injury...

And this baby disapproves.

But here are some pictures, for you non-facebooking-types. (*ahem* Grandpa Fox, I'm looking at you.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I've kept her alive a lot longer than any of my houseplants

But that's not really saying much.

We were at the doctor's office yesterday for Brooke's four-month checkup. When the nurse came in to check her vitals and such, she (the nurse, not Brooke) asked:

"Do you shave her head? Or does she just not have any hair yet?"

Uhhh, what? Do I shave her head? What kind of a question is that??

When I indicated that she just didn't have any hair yet, the nurse replied condescendingly:

"Well, don't worry about it. She'll get hair eventually."

I know. I wasn't worried about it. But now I guess I should be, lest someone think I'm shaving my baby's head.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I called the company that publishes our accounting software to ask a technical question today. I told the receptionist that I would like to speak to someone in tech support. She said, "He is on another call right now. Can I take a message for you?"

He? HE? Your entire tech support department is one person and he is on another call?

Good grief.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Stating the obvious

Conversation the other night at Elephant Bar:

Me: Ugh! There are onions on this bruschetta! Gross! Why would they want to ruin perfectly good bruschetta by smothering it with onions? *starts picking off the offending onions*

Brett: Instead of picking them off, why don't you just give it a try?

Me: Uhhhh... because I don't like onions.

Aaaaand... scene.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tummy time

Brooke has never really been a fan of tummy time. In fact, she hates it so much that today when I put her on her tummy, she used her freakishly strong arms to flip herself onto her back.

Three times in a row.

*dabs a tear* My baby is growing up so fast.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Awesome motherhood moment, part 3

The other day, I had to change Brooke's diaper in a public restroom without a changing station. I spread her changing pad in the large section of empty counter beside the sink and laid her down. There was not enough room for the diaper bag and the baby, though. Not a problem for me, however, being the supermom I am. I plopped the bag into the dry sink so it would be within easy reach.

Then, the water automatically turned on and soaked the diaper bag.

Motherhood rocks.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Minor adjustments

Brett wanted me to take his car in to the shop today to have the trunk latch repaired. We were dreading the idea of throwing another $300 or $400 into repairing a car that is 12 years old, but felt like the bungee cord we were using to hold the trunk shut wasn't offering us the level of security we needed to maintain to avoid having the car vandalized and/or stolen.

Brett had a great idea, though. He said to tell the shop that the trunk latch was "stuck." Not broken, not in need of repair. Just stuck. Maybe we could get out of having to special order and replace any parts if the repair technicians were pre-conditioned to believe that all that was needed was a hefty dose of WD40. He instructed me to say no more. Just keep repeating the word "stuck."

Armed with this game plan, I marched up to the service counter.

"What seems to be the problem with your vehicle?" they asked, dollar signs ringing up behind their eyes.

"The trunk latch... it's stuck," I declared.

"What do you mean? Stuck? Like it's broken and won't shut?"

"No, not broken. It just won't shut because it's stuck. Stuck... stuck open and won't shut. Stuck."

"So, the trunk doesn't latch shut? The latch needs repair?"

"No. The latch is fine. It's just stuck. It needs to be un-stuck so it will latch properly. It needs... adjustment."

"Oh, I see. An adjustment. I can have someone look at that right now for you. Would you like to wait while he sees if he can adjust it?"

Thirty minutes later, I was informed that the technician was able to "adjust" the latch and they would be bringing the car around for me shortly.

The total bill for unsticking and adjusting? Not the hundred of dollars we thought we'd have to pay for hours and hours of labor and parts. Just a measly $57.50.

And, we got a free car wash.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Awesome motherhood moment, part 2

Our little girl has started sounding like quite the little piggy. She snorts when she's crying, she snorts when she's happy, she snorts when she's eating. At work, someone wanted to know if she knew any tricks. I popped her pacifier out and she started snorting as if on command. My co-worker was duly impressed.

We were visiting a friend's ward on Sunday. Brooke was in my arms and as she fell asleep, her head rolled back against my arm and her mouth dropped open. In the middle of the opening prayer though, she startled awake. As she jerked her head up, she let out the biggest snort I have ever heard.


I don't just mean it was a big snort for a baby. It was a big snort for a heavily obese man who has fallen asleep after drinking a case of beer in his easy chair. It rocked the house and rattled the windows.

As her parents, what did we do?

We sat and giggled like schoolgirls through the rest of the meeting.

Motherhood rocks.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spies like us revisited

I was telling my husband about my recent experiences at the bank. The following conversation ensued:

Me: ... I mean, I'm all for being friendly, but I just think that's a little over the top. Don't you?

Him: Well, that is kind of "their thing." You know, they are the friendly local bank. They know their customers by name. I mean, I even had one of the tellers recognize me at the mall and say hello.

Me: That would freak me out. Even more so because I would probably recognize her but wouldn't know where I knew her from. Is she from church? Is she a customer from work? Do I know her from the gym?

Him: I knew who she was, but it was kind of weird because after she said hello, she made a point of saying, "Yeah, I just saw you shopping in such-and-such store." That did kind of make me feel like she was spying on me.

Me: Ex-actly.

Him: Yeah. Because what if I was in there buying stuff for my mistress or something?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

For all you non-facebooking types...

Look what I got in my Easter basket this year...

It's the Easter bunny herself!

Yes, that is a bow on her head. Wanna make something of it?

Shine little glow worm... glimmer, glimmer

Eeeeeexcellent idea. Hand over those creme eggs!

We're both tired after a long hard day of being so dang cute.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spies like us

I've been learning a lot about how the world works since I've been staying at home with the baby lately. For example, I am going to the bank during the day now and interacting with the tellers. Our bank is locally owned and operated and apparently prides itself on knowing its customers personally.

The first time I went in to make a deposit after the baby was born, the teller scrutinized my checks carefully and then cried, "Oh! Are you Brett's wife?!" I answered in the affirmative and she seemed delighted to meet me. "We just love Brett," she gushed. "He comes in here a lot, usually with the dogs, but we haven't seen too much of you... that's why I didn't recognize you. But... but... YOU HAVE A BABY! Ohmygosh! Is she yours?" I answered in the affirmative again.

Suddenly, there was a swarm of bank tellers behind the bulletproof glass all angling for a glance at my newborn.

"Ohhh! She's so cute!"
"How tiny!"
"What a doll!"
"Brett didn't mention that you were pregnant OR that you'd had a baby! Why didn't he tell us? Make sure you scold him for us!"

Uhhh... okay. I don't know why he would have told you, my bank teller friends, but sure, I'll yell at him for you.

"We watched you get out of the car, but none of us recognized you. We just figured you were just some new mother. We didn't know you were Brett's wife!"

You watched me get out of the car? And you tried to figure out who I was? Interesting. Okay, it was a slow day at the bank. Maybe you all had nothing else to do. Maybe you are required to try to greet everyone by name so it behooves you to get a jump start while people are still in the parking lot.

I wondered if they would remember me when I went in the next week without the baby.

"Oh, hello Mrs. Fox," the teller greeted me. "Is that your mom out there in the car with the baby?" she inquired. "I can tell. She looks a lot like you."

Okay. Now I just feel like I'm being spied on. It's one thing to watch the parking lot for customers. It's another thing to peer into your customers' parked cars and comment on the facial features of their passengers.

I pity the fool who tries to rob my bank. He won't realize there's 4 bored tellers and a bank manager watching his every move from the moment he steps out of his car until he hands over his hold up note.

They might even know his mother.

Monday, April 6, 2009

It's shower time

Breakdown of how I spend my time in the shower these days:

10% = washing body parts
20% = washing/conditioning hair
70% = using long-handled brush to scratch my back

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The good news and the bad news

First, the good news:

Could this girl BE any cuter? No. You're right. She could not.

But now for the bad news. There are still serious injuries being inflicted. Case in point:

I got a call from the hospital last week. The admissions office was calling to "pre-register" Brett for a procedure he had scheduled for the next day. It's a routine procedure and he has it done a couple of times a year. I told the lady that I could give her Brett's information. She confirmed his address, phone, birthday, and insurance information. Then she said we should be prepared to pay a $290 co-pay at the time of service.

*screeeeeeech* Excuse me? I told her there must be a mistake. We've never had to pay anything for the procedure before and we have the exact same insurance coverage as last year. I asked if she could check again, just to be sure. She sighed and put me on hold.

Exactly four seconds later she returned, stubbornly insisting that she had checked and that $290 would be due at the time of service. I remained dubious, since I don't believe four seconds is long enough to conduct a thorough investigation. Since $290 is an odd amount for a co-pay, I asked her how it was calculated. Was it a flat fee deductible for the procedure or was it a percentage of the total cost?

She didn't know. And apparently she didn't want to spend another four seconds pretending to check for me. She recommended I call my insurance company for answers.

I did and I swear I ended up talking to the exact same person. How she could work for the hospital and the insurance company at the same time is beyond me.

So, the insurance lady said there was a $250 co-pay for the hospital stay. I patiently explained that it's an outpatient procedure so it's not really a hospital stay. She didn't care. Then I asked how the hospital might have determined that we would owe $290, not $250 (which I would disagree with, but I would understand). She didn't know. Then I asked her how we could have the same procedure done last year and be charged nothing, but this year it would be $250 (or $290). She didn't know and didn't care. I politely asked if I could talk to someone who might know.

"Like who?" she demanded.

"Uhhh... someone else. Someone who might be able to pull the records from last year."

"Who would that be?" she snipped again.

"Well, I don't know. I don't work there. But there must be someone else I can talk to who could give me a little bit more information."


Gaaah. Uh, Bob? Phyllis? Pauline? Jack? "How about your supervisor? Would he/she be able to help me?"

Big sigh. "Hold on."

The supervisor confirmed that everyone who works for the insurance company is an unhelpful idiot. I began to steel my nerves to fight with hospital admissions the next day over the co-payment.

We checked in and there were sticky notes attached to Brett's file. One said, "Collect $250 co-pay." The other said, "Collect $50 co-pay." The admissions clerk was confused. We admitted to being confused as well, since it was our impression that we wouldn't have to pay anything. But even if we did owe something, I was pretty darn sure it wasn't $50. I could see $250 for the hospital visit, but there's absolutely nothing in our plan with a $50 co-pay. It's either $40 or nothing. I told the clerk this and also told her that I thought the woman who had called me the day before was a cracksmoker.

The clerk actually smiled a little and admitted the other lady was pretty new. I told her that I didn't think we should have to pay anything, since we never had before. What she said next flabbergasted me:

"That's fine. We actually only collect the co-pay at the time of service for your convenience. Some people like to pay up front, so they don't get hit with a bill months down the road when our billing department catches up. If you don't want to pay anything right now, that's perfectly okay."

Errr? You were trying to extort $290 (or $250 or $300) out of me for my convenience? Ahhh, I get it. It's like my grocery store who put all the carts out in the rain and then posts a sign stating that for my convenience I should select a cart before entering the store. Or the department store employee who announces that the store will be closing in 10 minutes but that for me convenience they will open again tomorrow at 10:00 am. Well, if you were really interested in my convenience, you'd be open 24 hours a day. Or at least past 9:00 pm. And if you were really interested in my convenience, you'd have employees not only stationed at the entrance to the grocery store, handing me a cart as a walk in, but you might even have said employee push the cart around the store for me.

That would be convenient.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Awesome motherhood moment, part 1

At church today, I found myself in a bathroom stall which was sadly lacking in toilet paper. (Read: two completely empty rolls.) Prior to motherhood, this would have been an awkward moment.

Awesome motherhood moment: I pulled out a baby wipe from the diaper bag, dabbed myself dry, and went on my merry way.

If I may borrow a phrase from a famous formula manufacturer... Motherhood rocks. And so do you.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Baby, baby, baby

My mother-in-law has a special little song she sings to her kids and grandkids. It goes:

"Baby, baby, baby... baby, baby, baby..."

Meet Brooke Donna Fox. Our tiny little peanut of a girl. She weighed in at a measly 5 pounds 7 ounces (maybe... there's some confusion on that point). But I'm happy to report that both mom and baby are home and healthy.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The horse pistol

So, like many of you, I was born in a hospital. I've visited sick friends and family in the hospital. I've taken people to the ER. I've even spent the night at the hospital (not as a patient, as a family member of a patient).

And as awesome as my health has been for the past 35 years, I wonder if maybe I shouldn't have tried harder to get hospitalized earlier in life. You know, just for the experience.

Because I'm looking upon my upcoming hospitalization with more than a little trepidation.

Yeah, I'm freakin'.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


A friend of mine is moving out of the ward. She's moving to another town about 45 minutes away. She's excited to be closer to her family and while she'll miss the ward, she made it clear that she's never really gotten used to living here. Apparently, it's more "rural" than what she grew up with and she's anxious to get back to the hustle and bustle of "city life."

I see her point. We live in an area of Sacramento that is kind of nestled between two major freeways, but closer to neither. And while there are plenty of places to shop and eat and watch movies, we're not near an actual mall. There are a lot of developed shopping areas, but no mall. The closest mall is almost 30 minutes away.

The mall was one of the major attractions for my friend in her new location. She's within walking distance. It's a huge and beautiful mall and is always under development to make it huger and more beautiful. It reminds her of where she grew up, where she was also within a 5 minute walk to the mall.

So, I didn't grow up near a mall. As a matter of fact, the closest mall was about an hour from my house. We went to the mall when we had a whole day to spend and a clearly defined list of what we needed to purchase. In high school, we occasionally would hang out at the mall. but it was a long drive there and back.

And now, that we still don't live close to a mall, we tend to do our shopping at the stores that are closer to us.

So, I guess I don't get the enthusiasm for living within walking distance of the mall. Is it a form of entertainment to go to the mall and hang out, even if you are an adult? Is it the ease of shopping from a variety of stores all conveniently located? How often do you go to the mall if you live within walking distance? Once a week? More? What do you do when you are there? Window shop? Because honestly, how much does the mall change week to week? Do you buy more if you frequent the mall more often? These are questions that need answering!

Maybe I fail to see the beauty of living near a mall because I don't actually like to shop. I'm kind of dude-like in that. Wandering around window-shopping doesn't appeal to me at all. But which came first, the chicken or the egg? Do I dislike shopping because I've never lived near a mall? Or do am I less appreciative of what the mall has to offer because I never lived near one?


Half-empty or half-full?

I dished myself up a big bowl of cookies-and-cream ice cream the other night and went to retrieve a spoon so I could start stuffing my face. Not surprisingly, there were no clean spoons in my silverware drawer.

How inconvenient! Now I had to turn around and take one whole step to get to my dishwasher, bend over (without grunting, hopefully) and pluck a spoon from the silverware basket.

As I opened the dishwasher door, I was surprised to see that the top rack was empty, but the bottom rack was still full of clean dishes. How had this happened? I don't know. Had I unloaded half the dishwasher and forgotten to unload the rest? I don't have any recollection of doing that. I don't ever unload the dishes just because they are clean. I put away clean dishes because my kitchen is sooooo messy that I need somewhere to store dirty dishes and the dishwasher happens to be a good place to do that. (Also, they magically get clean while in the dishwasher. Bonus!)

It's like someone has been sneaking into my house and doing partial chores for me. Next thing, I'll find the laundry half-done (washed but not dried), or the dogs half-bathed (heads, but not tails, or Chewie but not Sammie) or every room in my house half-vacuumed.

I don't mind so much, just please, next time, put the spoons away, too. 'Cause sometimes a girl needs her ice cream, stat!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Anniversary, part 3

(continued from part 2)

We had several handbook revisions that year, including the aforementioned "gifting policy," so it seemed like a good idea to reprint the handbook in its entirety, give each employee a new copy and have them sign an acknowledgement of receipt. It was my job to distribute the new handbooks and collect signatures from the employees.

For convenience, a list of the major changes was attached to each employee's new handbook, so if they didn't feel like reading the whole thing and comparing to the previous version, they could easily reference the changes which had been made. Most employees were not interested. They signed the acknowledgement of receipt without batting an eye. A few people brought questions to me later for clarification. But not Carol...

Carol insisted on looking up and reading every single revised section while I was present. She provided a running commentary on why and how she either approved (rarely) or disapproved (overwhelmingly) of the changes that were made. She may just been venting or she may have thought I would make further revisions based on her valuable input. I'm not sure. But when she reached the gifting policy, her eyes narrowed, she pursed her lips and said in a tight voice:

"What is this all about?"

"It's a new policy. We are asking that employees who wish to show appreciation for their co-workers do so by treating them with professionalism and respect every day. If you want to recognize a special occasion, please keep it on a personal level with your co-worker, rather than attempt to involve the entire store."

"And what do you think of this policy, Andrea?"

"I think it's exceptionally well-crafted. Whoever wrote it must have a lot of experience writing handbooks in order to be able to address the underlying problem with such tact and clarity," I replied, knowing full-well that she knew I'd written it.

Since she couldn't tell if I agreed or disagreed with the policy, she shifted gears with a long sigh. "You know, this company has changed so much since the original owner died..." *sigh* She peeked out of the corner of her eye to see if I was going to urge her to continue. I didn't. She went on anyway.

*sigh* "We used to celebrate things around here. We used to recognize special occasions, and that made everyone feel special. I mean, is it really too much of a strain on the budget to buy someone a card for his birthday? I think..." she lowered her voice conspiratorially, "the managers now are just too cheap for their own good. And that's really sad. Don't you think? Too cheap to buy a card." She clucked her tongue.

I remained silent, hoping she'd take the hint and do the same. This was the wrong strategy. It encouraged her to continue airing her grievances.

"You know, it was my 25th year with the company a few years ago. And I can't believe how horribly I was treated. It was my special day. I came to work expecting the royal treatment. I don't think any other employee has ever been with the company for so long. And do you know what happened?"

"They did nothing? They forgot?"

"Noooooo.... even worse. They gave me a... a.... thing. Some kind of stereo thingy. You know, it hooks up to your TV, with speakers and other electronic things. It was HUGE."

"Like a surround-sound system?"

"Yes! One of those. I just went into my office and cried. What am I going to do with a bunch of stereo stuff? They should know I don't have room in my house. Well, I do have room, but I'm not going to clutter up my living room with speakers. There were at least five huge speakers. What would I have done with all that? I was just disgusted. It was so... so... insensitive. I don't even watch that much TV and I certainly don't want it blaring in my ears. They really should have known better. I would have preferred that they didn't recognize my special day at all rather than give me a gift that they obviously put so little thought into."

"Well, see with the new policy, there's no danger of that happening again... to you or anyone... We're really just setting the expectations so that people aren't disappoin..."

She blazed on with her story, though. "You know what I did then? I. Gave. It. Back. That's right. I just marched right on in there and told them that if they weren't going to get me something meaningful, I didn't want anything. Oooh boy, was I ever mad. But I think they got my point."

"I'll say. You sure showed them."

"I think they took that stupid thing and gave it to one of the other guys for a wedding present later in the year. He was thrilled to get it. He had to bring his truck to work that day just to cart that big old box home, though."

I couldn't tell what offended her more. 1) That someone couldn't read her mind well enough to know she wouldn't have use for a $500 surround-sound system or 2) That the box it came in was so HUGE. But she seemed to be making my point for me.

"So, Carol, what I hear you saying is that you would rather have let the anniversary pass completely unnoticed, than get a gift you didn't feel was meaningful? Is that right?"

"Absolutely! It was just such a slap in the face to put in a quarter-century of devoted work to the company and get something they should have known I wouldn't use. But they did make it right eventually..."

"Make it right?"

"Well, I was so angry for weeks afterward that I could barely even come to work. The store manager was out of town, but when he got back I marched right into his office and told him how I felt. He wasn't going to do anything about it though. I told him he owed it to me and because I was still so mad, eventually he made it right. I was remodeling my kitchen at the time and he finally agreed to buy a new stove for me. He even came out and installed it for me. That's a meaningful gift. Something I needed and could use. Something with thought and feeling behind it. Not just a big box of speakers."

When I talked to the store manager later about my conversation with Carol, he confirmed that things had gone down essentially as she had related. He was able to fill in some details, though, details Carol might not even have been aware of at the time.

The surround-sound system that they ended up gifting to Carol had not been purchased specifically for her. One of our vendors had sent it to us as a thank-you-for-your-business present. It was highly coveted among some of the employees and the store managers had been wrestling with how to fairly decide which employee would get to take it home. When Carol had arrived that day and announced that she was expecting special treatment for her anniversary, the managers felt obligated to do something for her. To them, it seemed like a win-win situation.

So, yes, Carol did have a point. It was a thoughtless gift. It was, essentially, something they just had laying around. Five-hundred dollars worth of something they just had laying around.

"I remember she was so angry that she didn't really talk to anyone for a couple of weeks. You could tell she was just seething inside every day," the store manager recalled. "So, I tried to explain the situation. but she wasn't interested. I finally had to buy her a replacement gift so she would lighten up. If I remember right, I had to spend several hundred dollars on a new stove for her kitchen. And... I had to deliver it and hook it up for her, because she didn't want to pay someone to do it for her. Her reasoning was that she shouldn't have to shell out money, just because I got her a gift. Even though it was the gift she specifically wanted and the only one that would make her happy. I ended up spending hundreds of dollars and several hours of time, just to recognize that she'd been getting paid to come to work all these years. It was a... weird situation."

Weird. And the weird part really is that, after all these years, Carol still feels like the got the short end of the stick. And she's still bitter.

I never did get to ask if her stove came in a big box, and if so, was it bigger than the box of speakers?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Anniversary, part 2

"Andrea's Company encourages its employees to demonstrate their support and appreciation for one another by consistently treating their co-workers in a positive and respectful manner. Andrea's Company recognizes and celebrates the talents and contributions that each individual brings to the success of the business each day. It is therefore appropriate that cards, gifts, and baked goods which recognize an employee's choices, such as holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, weddings, etc, be kept on a personal level and outside of working hours."

Pretty good, huh? Of course it is. I wrote it (or got it from somewhere, I can't remember). You may ask yourself, "What on earth would cause a company full of good, caring people to codify such a policy in their handbook? What's the harm in passing around a card for someone's birthday? Why can't we buy a cake to celebrate the anniversary of someone who has worked for the company for a whole decade? Isn't it a good idea for a company to recognize the achievements of its employees?"

I would submit to you that at Andrea's Company, it is NOT a good idea. Allow me to illustrate.

One day, it was mentioned to me by an employee named Brady that another employee, Carol, would be celebrating her 32nd year with the company the next week. He wanted to let me know because I, as the office manager, might be the one to organize some sort of recognition for her. It didn't sound like a bad idea, and I really like to eat cake, so I took it up with my boss to see what the company had done in the past and if we had a budget for that sort of thing.

My boss sighed a heavy, heavy sigh. "Well, we used to do that sort of thing, but we've moved away from it in recent years. It used to be anniversaries, then it was also birthdays, then it was weddings and babies and welcome-back-from-vacation and every other occasion you can imagine. It was just so big and out of control, we didn't have anyone to administer it and people were let down if they didn't get recognized for every little thing. But hey, we haven't had an office manager for so long, if you want to resurrect the monster, you are welcome to try."

I didn't really want to resurrect the monster and be in charge of its care and feeding, but since I really like to eat cake, I prodded a little bit more. "What about if we limited it to just anniversaries?" I suggested. "It's a nice feel-good for the employees to be recognized and it's business-related, unlike celebrating birthdays. It might be a morale booster. It wouldn't be too much work to keep track of everyone's five year marks and get a card and a cake, right?"

"So we recognize the fact that people are coming to work? Along with the fact that the earth has gone around the sun 5 times? An anniversary is not really an achievement. Besides we are already recognizing our employees by paying them for coming to work. Congratulations. Good job. Here's your paycheck. Keep up the good work. Same with birthdays. Congratulations for being alive still. Good job. What's the point?"

It sounded a little curmudgeonly, but I understood his point. "Okay, I'll tell Brady that if he wants to bring something in for Carol, he's welcome to, but there will be no officially-sanctioned event recognition."

My boss sighed again. "Did I ever tell you about the time Brady brought in a condolence card for a co-worker whose sister had died? He passed it around for everyone to sign, but one person thought it was a birthday card and wrote something like 'Many happy returns!' in it."

"That's terrible."

"Yes, and it was even worse because the sister hadn't died of age or infirmity. She was murdered."

"Okay. I'm convinced. I'll discourage this kind of activity. I soooo don't want to open this can of worms."

Apparently, I didn't discourage Brady enough. He brought in donuts for Carol's anniversary. He seemed hurt that no one recognized him for remembering her special day. I could see how this would spin out of control. Now we have to recognize the recognizer of the recognizee, otherwise there's hurt feelings all over the place. But how do you tell someone he can't do something nice for someone else?

Brady was a simple guy whose heart was in the right place, mostly. Unfortunately, Brady was not well-liked among his co-workers. Due to his circumstances in life (40-something, unmarried, living with his mother) and his personality characteristics (passive-aggressive, power-hungry, and mentally unstable), he was not taken seriously and often picked on by his peers. But he wanted to be a part of the group and maybe figured he could buy his way in.

The next month, he sidled into my office and quietly laid a greeting card on my desk. "It's Mike's birthday today. I got him a card. Can you make sure everyone signs it?" He began to back away.

"Brady, no. I will sign it right now and then you can take it around to the guys yourself."

"I think it's better if you do it. But just remember, I want to be the one to give it to Mike. I think that's fair since I bought it." He took a few more steps back.

"No, no, no. I'm not going to be responsible for this." Sensing the trainwreck that was going to occur, I waved the card at him. "Wait while I sign it. Then you can pass it around and give it to Mike yourself."

"I have to go back to work. I can't get everyone to sign it. Besides, they don't like me, but they'll do it for you..."

"Brady! I am going to sign this card and put it on the next person's desk. After that, it's out of my hands. I'm not going to keep track of it."

"I gotta go..."

Could I have been any more clear? My responsibilty for your project ends with my signature on that card. Get it? Got it? Uhhh... no. I don't think so.

All afternoon, Brady kept checking back with me. "Did everyone sign it yet? I have to leave early and I want to give it to Mike before I go."

"I don't know. I signed it and passed it on, like I told you I would."

"Well, who has it?"

"I don't know. It's going around, I guess."

"But I NEED it back! I have to go early today! I need to give it to Mike!"

"Ask around. I'm sure someone has it."

"You have to help me! I need to find it! They won't tell me who has it! They're just playing games with me! And I have all this work to do before I go!" He was desperate and near tears.

Against my better judgement, I told him I'd ask around next time I went out into the showroom. No promises, though. I wasn't going to collect any remaining signatures. I would simply find out who had the card and let him know.

I asked around. People rolled their eyes. Yes, they'd signed it. No, they didn't know where it was. Why was Brady so concerned? I explained that it was really important to Brady that he present the card himself and he was leaving soon.

As I was talking, an employee walked in, holding the card. "Great. Hurry and give it to Brady so he can go," I instructed, anxious to be out of the middle of the situation.

"Give it to Brady? I thought it was Mike's birthday."

"It is. But Brady really wants to give it to Mike personally. Maybe we should page Brady..."

"You're not really going to do that to Brady, are you?"

"Do what?"

"Put him in that position."

"What position? It's his card."

"The position of giving this card to Mike again."

My heart sank. "Again?"

"Yeah. I found the card on Mike's desk. It was already open. Don't give it back to Brady just so he can give it to him again. He'd feel really stupid."

I'll say. We quietly put the card back on Mike's desk.

A few minutes later, Brady slunk into my office. "Look," I began to explain, "It looks like someone already gave..."

"I know," he pouted with a thanks-for-nothing tone in his voice.

"Brady, I did tell you that I wasn't..."

"It doesn't matter now. Everything is ruined."

"It's not ruined. You wanted to wish Mike happy birthday with a card that was signed by all his co-workers. Mission accomplished."

"I didn't get to give it to him. It's not fair. I bought the card. It was MY CARD." He sulked away without another word.

You might be thinking, "So, you changed company policy just for this one immature guy who couldn't handle the responsibility of sending his own birthday card around?"

No. Not just for him. Stay tuned for part 3...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Super terrific happy fun jolly anniversary post

It occurs to me that February is the month in which I started this blog last year. I know. Who cares? It's also the month in which I started working for my current employer 3 years ago. I know. Who cares? It's also the month is which I started my epic war against the-vendor-who-shall-not-be named. I know. Who cares? I do. This isn't the Serious Injury Inflicted blog for nothing. Things have been a little too rosy around here lately, what with new nephews and awesome velociraptors and all. That's about to change.

It all started 2 years ago with a simple request to The Vendor. Let me esplain... no, no, there is too much... let me sum up. We do not have the option of not doing business with this vendor. Otherwise, believe me, this vendor would have gotten the boot long, long ago. Anyhoo, The Vendor was sending some of our invoices to the wrong store. Since all of the accounting is done at my location, I politely requested that they change the mailing address.

"Absolutely!" they responded with glee. "Anything for our valued customer! We will change it immediately... although you might not see the change until next month."

"No problem!" I responded with equal enthusiasm. "Thanks for being a great vendor!"

That was in February 2007. In March, the invoices were again sent to the wrong address. "I'll wait another month," I reasoned, in a reasonable sort of way. "They might not have made the change in time. Surely, they will change it. I'm sure they don't want me calling every month saying I didn't get the invoices because then they have to reprint them and fax them to me. It's just more work for them." Confident that The Vendor would want to reduce their workload and mine, I waited patiently.

In April, the invoices are sent to the wrong address again. I called to request that the missing invoice be faxed to me and gently inquired about getting the address changed. After some investigation into the matter, they determined that the problem was entirely their fault. For some reason that no one could explain, the mailing address was corrected in the system, but was still printing incorrectly on the actual invoice. The Vendor promised to have their tech guys look into it and gave me a help ticket number in case I didn't hear back in a couple of days.

I waited patiently through May and June. Convinced that the problem had not been corrected (since I still wasn't receiving invoices), I finally called and referenced the ticket number I'd been given.

"Hmmmm... well, I see that ticket was closed in April," said the kindly customer service rep.

"Closed? So they fixed the problem? Because, I hate to tell you, nothing has changed."

"Well, no. It's just closed. I don't see any notes on what was done or what the resolution was. But they are not working on it any more. Actually, it looks like it was closed the day after you called."

"Well, there's still a problem. The same problem, in fact. Can you open another help ticket?"

"I'd be happy to. I apologize for the inconvenience. It might take another month to fix, though. Here's you ticket number..."

July and August rolled in, but the invoices did not. I called again for an update. They asked me to wait another month. In October, I called again. They asked me to wait another month. I told them I'd been waiting since February. They were shocked that it would take so long to fix such a simple problem.

Tell me about it.

"I'll tell you what... I'm going to forward this to a team manager. Her name is Vicky and she has a whole team devoted to resolving these kinds of issues. Her direct line is..."

I thanked him profusely and waited another month (or two) before contacting Vicky. She confidently told me that she had reviewed my ticket and it was scheduled to be resolved within 2 weeks. "We're just running behind on our projects. Please be patient."

In February (a whole year after my original complaint), I talked to Vicky again. She was vague and distracted. "Your ticket... uhhh... yes... I see it here. Hmmm... I don't know what the status is." I reminded her that she said it would be completed within 2 weeks from my last call. "I said that? Well, okay. We'll fix it this week."

Next month, I talked to Vicky, she pretended not to know me but she referred me to her supervisor, Jennifer. Jennifer was sympathetic and business-like. "I'm sorry this has been going on for so long," she said sincerely. "I'm the project manager for this whole department and I am allocating resources for your project right now. You won't have any more problems."

"When should I call back?"

"Three weeks. By the end of March it will be done for sure. You can call me directly if there's still a problem after that... here's my direct line..."

At the end of April, I called to report a lack of progress. She told me there'd been some reorganization of the teams and my project had fallen through the cracks. She assured me it would be completely immediately. I should call back at the end of the week.

(For those of you, like my husband, who have fallen asleep by this point, I want to remind you that all I want them to do is correct my mailing address...)

I called back for an update and she didn't answer my call, nor did she return my message. I called again a few days later. No response. I called and left a message each week for the next 5 weeks. Always the same polite message, "Just wondering if you have a status update for me." Maybe Jennifer is dead or has been fired, I thought. Maybe I should try to find out. I called the customer service desk and asked to speak to the supervisor. I was transferred to Jennifer's voice mail. I called the customer service desk back and told them that I was trying to reach Jennifer, but hadn't been able to speak with her for FIVE WEEKS. Was she okay?

"I think so. I just saw her this morning."

"So, she still works there? She's still the project manager? Do you see her now? Can you hand her the phone?"

"Ha ha! Unfortunately, no. I can transfer you to her voicemail, though."

I called Jennifer 12 times in total over the course of about 3 months. She never returned my call. I finally gave up.

Not long after I gave up, I received a notice from The Vendor. "Be advised that we will no longer be sending invoices to our customers. All invoices are available on our website at..."

You dogs. How many companies require their customers to print their own invoices? And Jennifer? You suck. You totally knew this was where your company was headed. You knew if you could put me off long enough, my problem would be a non-issue for you. Professional courtesy would dictate that you return at least one call just to let me know that I wasn't being ignored. But, I was being ignored. So bravo, for not sending me mixed messages. I guess.

But wait! There's more!

I go to the website to print my own invoices, and it doesn't work. The invoices are all garbled and incoherent and completely unusable. I called customer service to see if I was doing something wrong.

"No. There are some formatting issues we are still ironing out. We know about the problem. Hopefully it will be fixed soon."

"Well, how am I supposed to get my invoices? You guys have abdicated your responsibility of printing them and sending them to me (not that you were very good at that) but now you tell me I have to print my own, but don't even provide a method to do that. What am I supposed to do?"

"Well, what you have to do until the formatting gets resolved is pull them up one by one, then copy them into Word and then you can print them one by one."

"You're kidding, right? That's hours worth of work each month."

"Uhhh... yeah."

"Uhhh... yeah? YEAH? Is that all you have to say for yourself? YEAH?!?!"

"It's just until we get the formatting straightened out. Probably in the next couple of weeks it will be resolved."

"This is unacceptable. Who can I complain to?"

"You can talk to Jennifer... she's our project manager..."

Yup. The same phone-call-ignoring Jennifer from last time. That was many moons ago. Guess what I should be doing right now instead of blogging? That's right. Pulling up my invoices and printing them ONE BY ONE.

Yeah, don't think that wound doesn't get opened every single month when I spend hours and hours doing work that The Vendor should be doing for me. Serious, serious injury inflicted.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Raptors are the new chickens

Let's face it. Chickens are funny. Just saying the word chicken makes me giggle. Put a chicken in any situation, and bam, that situation has its hilarity quotient elevated exponentially. Squirrels, cows, and the dun-dun-dun prairie dog are acceptable substitutes.

Well, listen up people, because we are taking this thing out a whole new door.

Brace yourselves....


Not funny at first, you say. Well, check this out:

If you are a facebooking type, check out the group "The Notebook would be better with velociraptors" for more fun and frivolity. It's certainly the most fun I've had this morning.

P.S. I have the most awesome brothers-in-law.

*Update!* My very own raptor pic, by special request!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Spring chicken, part 2

My boss's wife was in the other day and we were chatting about all things pregnancy related. I told her that I've already had 4 ultrasounds done because I am past the cut-off age for being a spring chicken (maternityally-speaking). She said:

"Wow. So you're thirty-years-old already, huh?"

And I said:

"Yes. Yes I am."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Four minutes

My wonderful husband insisted that I get a massage last week. I was informed that I needed to specify "prenatal massage" when I made the appointment so they could be sure to have a certified specialist available for me. Because I am that special.

The massage, of course, was heavenly. The lights were dim, scented candles flickered on the shelf, mood music filled the air along with the aromas of luscious oils and lotions. She worked my back and shoulders, then wrapped my feet in hot towels. I confess, I might have drooled a wee bit on gigantic pillow supporting my head.

Naturally, I was on my side, since laying face down these days is akin to trying to balance myself on a watermelon. (A watermelon that squirms around and kicks when you put pressure on it.) At the midpoint of my session, my masseuse asked me to flip over to my other side.

Uh-huh. Right. First of all, I have one of the salon's gigantic pillows stuffed between my knees "for support." Just above that, there is the watermelon-belly, so I'm not exactly the most nimble person right now. Then there's the matter of the massage table. It's not wide. As a matter of fact, I'd call it "fairly narrow" or even "exceptionally narrow." It's not like I can just flip over. I have to turn, skooch, turn, skooch, turn, skooch, so I don't end up in a big heap on the floor.

Oh wait, yeah... a big naked heap on the floor. Let's not discount the modesty factor. I'm trying to keep my bits covered here as well. But as the gigantic pillow between my legs turns with me, it flaps the sheets around, and I'm only a few thread counts away from giving my 19-year-old masseuse with the pierced lip a huge eyeful. Poor girl. She didn't know whether to try to help or just avert her eyes and let me holla when I'm a bit more situated.

Turn, skooch, turn skooch... was that a breeze I just felt? Nevermind, keep moving! You're wasting valuable massage time with all this turning and skooching! Turn, skooch, turn, skooch. Gak! Pillow tangled in sheets! Disengage! Disengage! Still covered? Check. Keep turning! You're almost there! Turn, skooch, turn, skooch. Oh wait, you're only on your back. That's only halfway there. Stop flailing like a upside-down turtle and put your back into it. Heave-ho! Turn, skooch, turn, skooch.

Eventually, I made it to the other side. With my modesty intact, thank you very much. Total turning time? Probably about four minutes.

Can I get a little refund for that?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pretty pretty princess

Because I'm not deaf, dumb, and blind, I'm aware of the current "Princess" trend among young girls today. I won't come right out and state my opinion, but please be advised if any of you give my daughter pink apparel with the word "Princess" emblazoned in sparkles across the front, there's a good chance that will be the day I decide she has too many clothes and that some of them must be donated to charity right away.

The other night, a friend came over with his two young daughters. They wanted to watch a movie, but had already seen almost everything the family section of our DVD collection had to offer. They finally settled on Disney's "The Sword in the Stone." During the exposition scenes at the beginning of the movie, a little voice piped up:

"What's this movie about?"

I figured she didn't understand what was going on, since the backstory was being sung by a guy with a very warbly voice. "Well, you see that sword in the stone? Whoever pulls it out gets to be king..."

"Oh. Is there a princess in this movie?"

"I, uhhhhh... a princess? Well, the story is about that boy there, Arthur..."

"Oh. It's not about a princess?"

"Well, no. There might be a princess at the end. I can't really remember."

"Oh." She darted her eyes about, looking for an escape.

"But there are a lot of cool things in this movie! There's, uhhhh... castles, and uhhhhh, knights and uhhhh... magic. And Merlin! Have you heard of Merlin?"


"He's a wizard... Like... like in Harry Potter!"

"Oh. A wizard. Okay."

Phew. To her credit, she did watch the whole movie. I think she even enjoyed it. Even without the princess.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dilemma, part 6

I've gotten a couple of e-mails from a co-worker asking about DMV fee increases for 2009. I don't know the answer to her question. The DMV knows the answer to her question. That's what I told her the first time she asked the question. "I don't really know. You can call DMV to find out, though," was my reply several weeks ago.

The next time she sent me an e-mail with the same question, I ignored it. Because I'm passive-aggressive like that.

Today, there was a new e-mail, same subject. I responded with. "I don't know. Only DMV knows for sure." That was as lighthearted as I could be given my current irritation level.

What I wanted to say was, "I still don't know. Why do you keep asking me this question? The reason I don't know is because I haven't called DMV to find out. The reason I haven't called DMV is because it's not important to me right now. When it becomes important and I am forced to find the answer, I will do so. It seems important enough to you, however, to ask me (the wrong person) about it 3 times. You are just as capable of finding out from DMV as I am. So please do so and stop asking me. And in case that's not direct enough (since my previous suggestions that you call DMV yourself have gone unheeded), YOU NEED TO CALL DMV PERSONALLY TO GET THIS INFORMATION. I AM NOT GOING TO."

I'm not planning on having a discussion about this with her, but if it comes to that I will certainly try to find out why she keeps asking me. Does she think I get a secret bulletin from DMV that gives me information that she doesn't have? Does she not have the phone number for DMV? Is she just trying to fop it off on me?

I suspect the real reason is this: She started wondering about it in November. It's been on her to-do list since then. She probably thinks it must be nagging at me like it's nagging at her. Eventually, I won't be able to take it anymore and I'll break down and call DMV. I must have done so and just not communicated the information to her so eventually, at some point when she asks me the same question I will have answer.

But she's wrong. The only thing that's nagging me is her.

So, here are some options:

1. I ignore her every time she asks about it.
2. I keep telling her that I don't know and that she should call DMV if she wants to know.
3. I tell her that she has irritated me so much at this point that even if I did know, I wouldn't tell her.
4. I call DMV myself, just to get her off my back.
5. I don't deal with the issue directly, but instead turn the conversation to why, WHY DO YOU KEEP ASKING ME THIS?

I'm sure there are other options. Your opinions?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

World, meet Liam. Liam, the World.

Hey you! Head on over to coolestfamilyever to get a first look at Liam (Official title: CoolestNephewEver). Doesn't he have the fluffiest little cheeks and roundest little belly you've ever seen? We've not met in person, but I hear he's scrumptious. Nom nom nom!

My father-in-law called last night, beaming about his new grandson (and his new car) and we had the following conversation about hairbows:

Him: And did you see all that hair? It's a good thing he's not a girl otherwise, *voice dripping with disdain* someone would have tried to stick a bow in his hair already. Wait a minute, you're not planning on sticking a bow on my granddaughter's head for her blessing, are you?

Me: Nothing bigger than my fist, I promise.

Him: No, really...

Me: Not really. I dunno. It depends on what she looks like. Personally, I think only bald babies need hairbows. Ironic, I know. Babies with hair don't really need decoration up there. It's only the really shiney ones who need a bow to break up that great expanse of forehead/scalp.

Him: *Harumph*

Me: But, I promise, if there is a bow involved, it will be very small and very tasteful. You probably won't even notice it.

Him: *Harumph* Okay. I better not.

You know it's an awesome day when I get to have a discussion about infant haberdashery with my father-in-law. Oh yeah... and a beautiful new nephew. Let the nommings begin!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Waste not

I was sitting at the drive-thru window at Burger King yesterday, waiting for my Whopper Jr. (with cheese, no onions) and I noticed that I could see a sign on the wall which was clearly intended only to be viewed by employees. In angry, bold letters it proclaimed:


Underneath the message there were pictures of supplies and condiments which would normally be given to the customer with a drive-thru order.

Ketchup packet = 5 cents
Napkins = 5 cents
Salt = 5 cents
Straws = 5 cents
Sporks = 5 cents
Dipping sauce = 10 cents
Salad dressing = 10 cents

Clearly, this particular Burger King is trying to cut out some unnecessary expenses. I mentally applauded their efforts, especially since time and time again I have been given enough napkins to wipe the faces of a family of ten or 27 ketchup packets after telling them I did not need ketchup for my fries. (Is it so unthinkable that someone might want ZERO ketchup for their jumbo-size order of fries?)

Threatening employee raises seemed a little extreme to me, but desperate times and all that, so whatever works, I guess.

I had to laugh, though, at what I found in the bottom of my bag when I got back to the office...

Two straws.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monday, Monday

There was an extremely rude and irate message on my voicemail this morning. It went something like this:

"Ummm, yeah. HELLLLLLLLLO! Is there anyone there? HELLLLLLO! I'm looking for someone to answer the friggin' phone! I've been calling and calling! Is anyone there today???!! HELLLLLLO! Come on! Answer the phone!! I need to talk to someone and no one is aaaaannnswering! You just don't answer the phone on Mondays? HELLLLLLO! HELLLLO! Answer your friggin' phone! HELLLLLO!"

No, moron, we don't answer the phone on Monday because we are closed. You would know this if you had listened to the message which played when you called which said, "Thank you for calling Andrea's Illustrious Company. Our hours are Tuesday thru Saturday, 9 am to 5 pm. We are closed on Sunday and Monday. To leave a message, press...."

In addition, what decade are you living in? Do you really think you can call a business, select the option to be transferred to my voicemailbox, and expect that, even if I am sitting at my desk ignoring you, I will be able to hear your brainless HELLLLLLO caterwauling and that will make me pick up the phone? It's not an answering machine, it's voicemail, ya jerk.

And finally, if it is soooo important that you talk to someone, why not leave your name and number? Because I would have loved to return your call this morning and let you know how immature and idiotic you sounded demanding to have your call answered on a day when we are not open for business.

So many idiots, so little chance for retribution.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

This is why I keep my mouth shut

I was admiring someone's hair in church a few weeks ago. I was sitting a few rows behind her and couldn't help noticing her hair was perfect. A sleek, shiny bob angled to perfection. And it wasn't just the cut I admired. The color was awesome. Multi-faceted but oh-so-natural.

I like my hair. I really do. It's nice. It looks good right when I get done styling it in the morning. It's soft. It's practical. It keeps my head warm. It has a lot of potential.

I know it could be more. I could be more stylish by keeping up with the latest cuts and colors. But I lack the desire (not to mention the resources) to encourage its full potential. The people I know who have stylish hair spend a lot of time and money to have stylish hair. They have special relationships with their hairdressers. They see them more than they see some of their friends. Hair is a priority for them. It involves getting up earlier in the morning. It involves scheduling their activities around their every-six-week-set-in-stone hair appointment. It involves working a second job to afford a cut and color.

I have no issues with this lifestyle. These women look great and I wish I could be one of them. But I can't right now. That's okay, but it doesn't keep me from wondering what it would be like.

Anyway, back to the lady in church. I figured she must spend a bomb on her hair each month because either she just had it done (like MINUTES before church started) or she sees her hairstylist once a week without fail. It was seriously that perfect.

Should I say something to her? If I had put that much work into my appearance, I think I'd like to have my efforts recognized. But I don't really know her that well. Still, who wouldn't want to be told they look smashing? Might be one of those conversation/friendship starters. But could I really be friends with a woman who had such perfect hair?

No. I don't think so. It's bound to be the first of many dissimilarities which would lead to the ultimate demise of any fledgling relationship I might initiate. I decided to say nothing.

AND IT WAS A GOOD THING I KEPT MY YAPPER SHUT. Several days later, someone told me that this same woman had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was undergoing treatment. She'd kept it very hush hush. Only her family had been told. No one in the ward knew until just recently. She didn't want a bunch of people talking about her and asking her how she felt and coming over to her house to help out. Because...

She was extremely self-conscious about loosing her hair and having to wear a wig.

That's right. Had I said something about her hair, it would have been akin to stuffing my whole foot in my mouth, deciding that it wasn't full enough, cramming the other foot in there as well and swallowing myself whole. That's how bad it would have been. Maybe worse. There's no way of knowing.

Take what you can from my story. Use it in your daily life.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Calling all callings

So, you know when you get that phone call during the week...

"Hi, this is Bishop/Brother Smith. I'd like to meet with you/you and your spouse sometime this week/before church on Sunday..."

You know it's a calling. If it was a talk, they'd just ask you over the phone. If they were going to release you without issuing a new calling, they'd just stop you in the hall and let you know. So, it's a new calling.

Then, there's the issue of who you are going to meet with and if your spouse is invited. Primary teacher? Bishop's counselor, no spouse. Young Men's President? Bishop, spouse required. Activities committee? Bishop's counselor, nabbed in the hallway between classes.

So what about when a counselor wants to meet with both of you? It's likely not a high-profile make-sure-the-spouse-can-support-you-in-this-calling calling. Otherwise, you'd be talking to the bishop's secretary to make an appointment. Could be a joint calling. "We'd like the two of you to work in the nursery." Or it could be two separate callings and they are just saving time by having you come in as a couple. "Sister, we'd like you to be on the enrichment committee and Brother, we'd like you to be in charge of the ward bulletin."

I know, I know... all callings are important. Any opportunity you have to serve in the Church is a good one and you will be blessed for it. Some callings are time-consuming and emotionally draining. Some call for you to linger in the background until needed. Some are require special talents that not all members possess. Some require no special training, just a commitment of time.

I'm not interested in trying to rank the importance of callings within the church. But I have noticed differences in the manner of issuance of the call which seem to correlate to "importance." The bishop vs. counselor issue. Or the spouse or no spouse issue. Or this:

"Brother and Sister, thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me today. We've been reorganizing some of our auxiliary organizations and have been prayerfully considering who the Lord might desire to fill these callings. The new auxiliary president has given me your name as someone he/she felt inspired to call as the new secretary in this presidency... We'll set you apart after church..."


"Well, we've had a really hard time getting someone reliable in this calling. But the stake is really on our backs now to make sure that each ward has a representative. We thought of you because it would probably fit into your schedule and we need someone right away. I don't have any details about it, but I'll try to find someone to get you some information... If you want to be set apart, you can come down after church..."

I've experienced both. Isn't there anything between inspiration and desperation? Are there only certain callings inspired and the rest are just plug-and-play? Because it also seems like people are encouraged to go home and pray about certain callings but other callings are based solely on your availability and your willingness to serve. And I've got to say, it doesn't really make you feel like you will be contributing anything important when someone tells you "We picked you because you don't have a calling" as opposed to "We were inspired to call you."

I'm not complaining, I'm just wondering. Anyone out there have any insight as to how this works?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bad boys, bad boys... whatcha gon' do?

I was driving to work this morning down a wide two-lane road near an elementary school. A school bus was stopped on the opposite side, its flashing red stop sign extended, waiting for the children to board.

Traffic coming from behind the bus had stopped and was waiting patiently. There were also two cars in front of me in my lane who were giving the school-bus-as-a-mobile-stop-sign law its proper due and waiting patiently. Well, the first driver (closest to the bus) was waiting patiently. The second driver apparently decided that 30 seconds was too long of a wait and chose to go around the first car on the shoulder.

It's too bad that she was in such a small car. Had she been able to see around the mini-van in front of her before passing it, she would have seen the black-and-white Highway Patrol cruiser sitting just half a block down the street.

I'm pretty sure she noticed when he flipped his lights on and motioned for her to pull over though. Now she's really going to be late for work.