Monday’s Fun Day

As you know from my previous post … this past Monday was a tough one for me. Some days, tragedy strikes when you just aren’t expecting it.  When it hits so hard, all at once, it can take weeks, months or even years to recover.  Sometimes, you never fully recover at all.

Monday turned into one of those days.  I almost feel ready to talk about it now. I will push through. For you, my lovely readers.

I was running right on schedule (translation, thirteen minutes and three seconds late).  I stumbled to my car before remembering that sometimes, just sometimes, you need car keys.  Thank God, I had forgotten to lock my front door and was able to walk right in to my house to get them.  Also, thank the Gods that be, I don’t live in a high crime area. Cause you know … open front door.

That wasted three minutes of retrieving my keys cost me my coffee stop on the way to work.  There I was, in full Monday Zombie mode, uncaffeinated.  I know, I know. That’s not a good thing for anyone.  I’m okay though, I thought, because there is coffee at work.  There is always coffee at work; my entire office worships the brown life-giving brew that enables us to think, socialize, and well, move at all.

Pulling into work, I see one spot left.  It isn’t much of a spot, but after maneuvering my car for six minutes, I was able to park in it and exit my car through the trunk.  It was at this very moment that I realized that I had forgotten my purse. My arms were too empty, you see.

Never mind the makeup, novel, phone charger, Kleenex, coupon book, six pounds of loose change, utensils (don’t laugh, have you seen the crusty knives at IHop?), travel mug, candy bars, protein bars to make me feel better about the candy bars, day planner, night planner, weekly planner, monthly planner, expired planner, frequent flyer fro-yo card, screwdriver, and other necessities for daily living, I had forgotten my wallet.  Still, coffee was just 6 flights of steps away (did I mention the elevator was out?), so who needs a wallet.

Normally I have no problem with the non-company outsiders using our facilities for their meetings, but Friday’s meeting attendees must have needed coffee to stay awake, as we all do, during their meeting.  I don’t begrudge them coffee, but they used all the creamer. They used the creamer powder we keep under the break room sink for emergencies.  They used those tiny little creamer pods we keep as back up to the powder for emergencies.  They raided the refrigerator and used the whole milk and cream (we don’t do half and half here) in there, too.  Hoof prints in the break room seem to indicate that they brought a cow in for extra milk.  I pictured people with plates piled high with creamer pods and powder, drinking mugs full of milk and creamer, laughing maniacally and high-fiving each other, “Ha!  No creamer for THEM on Monday!”

The very nice person who always, but always, stops on Monday morning to get our coffee and break room snack supplies didn’t.  I guess she was having ‘A Day,’ too.  Later, she said she could have sworn there was enough creamer left in the fridge to do for a few days … having taken a much-needed day off on Friday, she was not privvy to the outsiders’ shenanigans. I don’t blame her. Yet, there I was, all coffee and no creamer.  My spare creamer was in my purse.  At home.  My imagination played with me again, picturing a burglar sitting in my living room, watching Maury Povich, and helping himself to my purse creamer.

In case you are missing the importance of this, having no creamer in your coffee is like not eating popcorn at the movies.  It’s like non-alcoholic beer.  It’s a French fry with no ketchup.  It can be done, sure, but only by a savage (I’m looking at you Lee).  With no purse creamer and no wallet to slip out to Dunkin’ Donuts, I was facing a Monday without caffeine.  Monday Without Coffee sounds like a country music song, doesn’t it? Or a horror movie.

No wallet means no lunch, so now I am uncaffeinated and unfed.  This is a double whammy.  I think I may have lost a few friends that day.

Then, in a rare burst of energy, I decided to walk to the copier.  My heel broke, causing me to do a dance move I can loosely compare to the Hokey Pokey on speed.  My copies flew all over the hallway as I struggled to maintain my balance.  Why would my heel betray me?  Well, obviously it’s because the shoe was old and not because I have all the grace of a wounded wildebeest.

Naturally, it was National Blooming Idiot Day and everyone around me seemed to be celebrating.  I’m not sure if it was because I was unfed, uncaffeinated, unheeled, and temporarily unglued but these people were more idiotic than normal.

I’m sure you all can share my pain when I say I have a few people in my life who completely lack any sense of self-awareness whatsoever. While they wantonly cavort through my private life, they seem to be especially prolific at work. For those, I offer this piece of advice … when we tell you that you’re a piece of work … it is NOT a compliment.

To add insult to injury, here is Shari, her heathen cup of black coffee in hand, perky and bright.  “Gee, broke a heel?”

No, Shari, I always lurch like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  You never noticed?  Gee, Shari, how did you not realize I have one leg shorter than the other?  Gosh, Shari, this is the newest fashion craze, you didn’t know?

Instead, I just mumbled “Yeah.”

Helpful Shari.  “Don’t you keep crazy glue in your purse?”

That was the last time Shari was ever seen. You’ll never find the body, I promise.

It’s in my purse.

Ever have a day like this?  You swear that if just ONE more thing goes wrong, you’ll snap.

Then the universe responds, “Challenge accepted!”

Hi Pot, Meet Kettle

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but nowhere is my hatred of people more evident than during my daily commute to and from work. Driving without impeding traffic just seems so simple doesn’t?  If drivers would just keep moving forward, there would be no traffic. But no. You have whole factions that want to take in the view of the lovely graffiti-sprayed concrete barrier walls as they meander along, clogging up the works for the rest of us.

And then there are those who hamper the flow of traffic simply because their driving style is selfish and rude, and worse, ineffective. “Oh! Is that a leaf blowing on the road!?  Traffic IS pretty heavy during rush hour. I better come to a complete stop just in case.”   “Well, look what we have here! This person coming off the ramp wants to merge in an area where they literally have nowhere else to go. I could get into the other lane or oh, I don’t know, slow down OR speed up to allow them over, but no. I think I’ll just go the exact same speed they are, so they are forced to stop and … voilà! There. Now, we have a nice funnel of jammed traffic for all to enjoy. My job here is done.”

Tailgaters are the worst. Don’t these drivers realize that we’re ALL in the same boat with regards to flow of traffic, etc.?  Do they think that if they intimidate the driver in front of them, suddenly, the traffic ahead will clear, and they can skate through to wherever it is their going?  From their attitude, it’s likely a destination that won’t suffer in the least from their absence. They’re not exactly smiling bundles of nice.  If you’re in the fast lane doing 80 in a 55-mph zone, you should rightfully expect to not have someone riding your bumper. Sure, sure, it’s the fast lane… but there ARE speed limits, you know.

Even more annoying are tailgaters in the slow lane.  I mean, if you’re tailgating me to the point that I can’t even see your headlights while I’m doing 70 in the slow lane … well, guess what? That’s right bucko, we’re back to doing 55. I don’t even care if I’m late to work. Does that make ME the asshole? I don’t think so.  It’s the principle of the thing.

 

Identity Crisis

My friend tells a funny story of identity theft and Facebook hacking, and it goes something like this:

“My daughter was 6 years old, and she saw me playing Farmville on Facebook.  There was nothing she wanted more than her own Facebook Farm, and I let her start one using only my hand-selected friends as her neighbors.  She worked at her farm for months before we both lost interest in the game.  A few months later, she revisited her farm on a whim. She logged in, only to find her account was hacked by someone in Lagos, Nigeria for apparently nefarious purposes.

Of course, I immediately sent Facebook a message confirming that she was only a then-seven-year-old from the US who had been hacked.  Out of curiosity before I closed the account, I checked on her farm.  Whoever had hacked her had continued to play her farm, bringing it to a level 96.  The farm was full of every animal and crop available, every object that game coins could buy, had been expanded, and it was amazing.  As I deleted the account, I had conflicting thoughts of how impressive and amusing it was that the hacker had built up the farm, that it was unbelievable someone from another country was in contact with my online friends and claiming Farmville rewards,  how sad I was that I couldn’t just move the farm to a new account for my daughter, and how equally sad the hacker probably was to realize that all of his months of farming were gone forever. And yeah, they could no longer phish for emails or defraud people of their life’s savings, so there’s that too.” 

This leads me to my thought of the day: why can’t hackers use their hacking abilities for good, instead of evil?  Hack credit card databases and erase everyone’s balances.  Hack the credit bureaus and give everyone scores of 835.  Hack into a store’s loyalty programs and quadruple everyone’s points.  Hack into Facebook and decimate our opponents in Words with Friends.

After the financial fiasco that was the fall-out from my divorce, if anyone tried to hack my credit information to use for a loan, they would be laughed out of the bank. You want a loan based on this mess? The loan officer would call over his colleague to share the joke. She wants a loan based on this mess, Barbara! Can you believe that!? The would-be identity thief would be escorted out of the bank by armed guards, given a lollipop as a consolation prize, and told never to return.  Hell, when all was said and done, he would probably end up sending me a sympathy card and $20 before deleting my records from his database.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel for those who have had this happen.  It is a disaster to straighten out and can linger on your credit scorecard forever.  But imagine if the thief would send postcards and pictures of his purchases and adventures?  It would be like an adult version of “Flat Stanley” or a slightly less fun “Travelling Gnome” prank.

Personally, I would love to see what an identity thief could do for me.  By the time it’s all over, I would probably end up with a credit score of 850, a new house, a nice car, and a home-based business in fruit sales.  I’d be curious to see where he would travel; would he take my identity to the Bahamas for a month?  A long, lazy trek through Europe? Hey, at least one of us should have the vacation of my dreams.

Or, he could just build my farm in Farmville to a level 96 and let me take it from there.  I’m easy to please.

Lessons Learned

It was a typical day at Sam’s Club and there I was with my army-sized supply of toilet paper and a five-quart jug of peanut butter, waiting in line.  I was standing behind a group of elderly ladies and trying not to be nosy, but since two of the three were wearing hearing aids that appeared to be off, it was hard not to listen.

The first thing that hit me is that when you get older, your give-a-damns just disappear.  Nothing is off-limits.  I. Cannot. Wait.  I love these women. I want to be these women. I thought I had a snarky attitude, but I could learn a thing or two from these lovely seniors. They are my heroes.

Emily:  Yeah, I am so happy I found the value pack of these Depends. The Grateful Dead tribute band tickets go on sale next week and I want to be ready to stand in line.

Margaret:  Did you see the gallon sized Preparation H?  I didn’t see the gallon size of the Preparation H.

Joan:  What?

The next thing I realized is that these ladies, easily in their 90’s, get lucky way more often than I do.

Emily:  I’ve got a date with George tonight.

Margaret:  Didn’t you break your hip last time you saw George?

Emily (with a faraway smile):  Why yes, yes, I did.

Joan:  What?

And that being older doesn’t necessarily mean being nice. My Grandma Mooney taught me this lesson. These women just solidified the idea.

Emily:  Did you see Ethel’s bathrobe last night at the buffet?  I can’t believe she’d wear that!  It shows everything she’s got, the wrinkled old bitty.

Margaret (stage whisper):  I heard that she’s sleeping with Frank.

Emily:  Frank has the clap.

Joan:  What?

They didn’t quite get the whole concept of social media – though, really, this was to be expected. These ladies were obviously out and about and active, and no doubt spending their free time with tribute bands, and seriously, who wouldn’t?… with no time for idly sitting in front of a computer.

Emily:  I saw my youngest great-granddaughter, Jessica, today. She was busy on her cellular phone, putting on posts to Snaptalk.

Margaret (with a not-so-slight tone of ‘I know better than you’):  It’s Facechat, dearie.

Emily:  What?

Joan:  What?

I had a little déjà vu when we got closer to the check-out … I swear, I’ve had this same conversation with my mother. I won’t tell you which one of us is which in this scenario.

Emily:  Margaret, hand me my checkbook.  I think I have one check left in there.

Margaret (busily counting quarters and pennies): No, Emily, you used that in the dollar store.

Emily:  Are you sure?  Hand me my pocket-book.  Are you sure?

Margaret:  One hundred thirteen, one hundred fourteen… damn it, Emily, you made me lose count!

Emily:  Found it!  Now where is my license? 

Joan:  What?

I felt bad for listening in and was trying to read a magazine to drown them out, but they just wouldn’t stop.  These ladies never met an ailment they didn’t like and enjoyed the challenge of topping each other’s illnesses:

Emily:  My knees are really acting up today.

Margaret:  Oh?  My blood pressure is up.

Emily:  My heart feels funny…

Margaret:  I died last night, but I feel better now.

Joan:  What?

At this point, I felt like I knew them personally, so I made sure to wish them a great day.  Emily and Margaret nodded and smiled, heading out the door, but Joan looked at me blankly.  I repeated, “Have a nice day” in my outside voice and she leaned towards me.

“You know, I can hear perfectly well. I just find it more fun if it appears that I can’t. I’m seeing George on the side, Ethel’s my sister, I gave Frank the clap, and honestly, I can’t stand those two.”  Then she smiled and toddled after her friends to the door.

One last lesson I learned about the elderly today?  I cannot wait until I’m old enough to be Joan!

 

 

Valentines and Self-Realization

The older I get, the more I realize that my mother was right after all. I am just like my Grandma Mooney.

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Grandma Mooney & the Case of the Vinegar Valentines

Valentine’s Day always reminds me of my Grandma Mooney (more specifically, she was my Great-Grandmother). That may seem odd to some people (to think of grandparents around a holiday meant for couples), but there’s a reason behind it.  She was actually quite a colorful character… and then some. And one of her favorite things to do centered round Valentine’s Day.

It’s not really observed much anymore, but back in the day people would give out what were called “vinegar valentines.” They were basically insult cards with a caricature drawing on the front and a small acidic poem on the back that tended to call people out as being either foolish, a spinster, a loser, etc. You get the idea. They were pretty unflattering for the recipient and not exactly the heartwarming valentines we give out now covered in hearts and roses. Grandma Mooney absolutely loved giving these out to so-called loved ones and friends.

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It was one of her favorite times of year because, while she may have been thinking these evil thoughts all year, now she was able to put those thoughts to paper. And let me tell you, she got serious pleasure out of poring over who would get what card. If memory serves they were sent out anonymously so the person receiving the snail mail insult couldn’t be sure who thought they were an idiot, but rest assured, someone out there in the world did. The ironic part is that Grandma Mooney would get super pissed if she ever got one. She sent them out by the bucketful but getting even one in return was blasphemous.

I wish I could’ve seen her face as she was picking out the cards and sending them out. It’s hard to picture without having seen it up close, but anytime Grandma Mooney was up to trouble, she’d laugh… not out loud… but sort of an internal laugh so that her massive bosom shook like jelly. Watching her go through her stash of valentines with an intensity more often seen in a tax auditor and the inevitable intervals of shaking as she came across just the perfect one for say… Georgie or Carlene… would’ve been a hoot. Although I’m just guessing that these two were among the lucky recipients.  Grandma Mooney always kept her list top-secret so no one could rat her out.

In truth, though, I almost wish more that I could’ve seen what she did when she opened up one that she had received. I’d be observing that from a very safe distance of course.  I mean, there’s just no sense in poking an already pissed off bear. Grandma Mooney would’ve made Sherlock Holmes proud though… because after receiving one of these heart to heart communiqués in the mail, she suddenly became a resolute and determined investigator, examining handwriting, postal stamps, and whatever else would give her a clue as to who sent it.  She’d wander around the house muttering names for a week as she narrowed down the list of suspects. And when she finally had that “eureka!” moment and was convinced she knew the perpetrator of this horrible crime, she immediately began planning the coming year’s list, editing it accordingly, and putting that person’s name in the top position. Ahh… it’s the simple joys that mean the most.

When I was young, my mother used to tell me that I was just like my Grandma Mooney. I’d take offense at that if I could only figure out how to argue the rationale. Admittedly, I can see the similarities — though not to the extremes of my enjoying sending anonymous insults. But I do share some of her ornery eccentricities. In some respects, it may seem like an awful comparison — but along with her cantankerous quirks, my grandmother had a heart of gold and took care of her family above all else. So I guess when all is said and done, I’m pretty happy to be compared to her.

 

Smarter than the Average Bear

We all know that proud, overly-sharing parent, the one who is amazed their child can do perfectly ordinary things.  “My daughter Marjorie can add up to ten!”  Your daughter Marjorie is in college, Karen.  “Look at little Timmy read this book!”  It’s a picture book, Barbara.

If you’re like me, you want to back-end every car sporting a “My Kid is an Honor Roll Student” bumper sticker, and you snicker at the “My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Roll Student.”  I have a new bumper sticker:  My Super Smart Dog Bit Your Honor Roll Student.

If you ask me, there’s not enough focus on the truly smart animals in our lives.  Anyone who thinks animals can’t count has never tried to give three biscuits to a dog who is used to getting four at a time.  The internet abounds with videos of horses counting and even if it is a trick of clever training, the idea that a horse can be trained to appear to count is pretty freaking amazing.

Recently, a family member was gushing about her toddler who knew where the pretzels were kept in the house.  She even went so far as to surreptitiously record her child in this endeavor to share with the audience. This tiny human marvel could even open the pantry door and get the pretzel jar, but the act of unscrewing the tightly closed lid thwarted her adorably chubby little hands.

Awww, isn’t that cute.

My dog knows where the treats are.  He opens the kitchen cabinet, gets his treats, opens the box, and eats his fill. I will admit, he hasn’t quite grasped the idea that cleaning up after himself might be to his advantage. At the least, as I keep explaining to him, it would buy him some time before being found out. I had to put childproof locks on drawers and doors and everything in between to foil my cat, the ne’er-do-well, who is apparently a master locksmith and can open any barrier placed in front of her.  So long as she wants whatever is behind it, that is.  My friend shakes her head sadly when telling me about her German Shepherd who can unlock door handles, open the door, and go into any room she likes.  Baby gates? Pfftt. It’s like you’re not even trying. Cabinets and drawers and off-limit rooms are nothing to these animals, so while I think it’s adorable that your toddler can find the pretzels, I am holding my applause for now.

Don’t get me wrong, I know kids are smart.  Heck, I’ve had two kids raise and train me perfectly.  I just think it’s funny when over-effusive parents boast about ordinary milestones in a completely unironic way.  “Look, she’s only 144 months old and she can recite the alphabet!”

Yeah, Lois, very nice.  Can you hold the cat while I call the vet?  She opened my locked bedroom door, climbed a ladder, cracked my wall safe, and got into the treats that I thought were for sure out of reach this time.  And let me know if you’ve seen the dog, my car keys are missing, and I think he drove down the street to see that damn poodle. Again.

Don’t even get me started on that horse next door who keeps blowing the whistle on my trips to the refrigerator at night; I never should have gotten him binoculars for Christmas.