I feel the need

I feel the need

Friday, July 25, 2014

Five for Friday: BBO needs to retract the scolding he gave me.

Good day!

So recently I exchanged emails with BBO  (Big, Bad Owner, for those of you who haven't read my two Elsie W. Books.)  and I made a comment that the reason I had to bother him about some issue was that our customers tended to be stupid when it came to the information they gave us and their expectations of the stuff we install.  (No, that new window we installed is not going to make your husband stop being a jackass.  And no, that sink we installed isn't going to make your kids be any more respectful.)  This was a private email between the two of us, not like any of the customers in question would ever read it.

BBO, who hasn't dealt with the endless deluge of customers I do in several years, informed me I was being uncharitable and that our customers were not stupid.

So this week's Five for Friday is dedicated to BBO because these are actual phone calls I got from actual people in the last three days.  Maybe I am being uncharitable.  But my days are filled with not stupid conversations like this and I think maybe BBO should retract the scolding he gave me.

5)  I didn't listen to the message so you clearly didn't leave one.

This is an issue that grinds the gears of everyone in the office.  Well, every one except Captain Nubbin, who simply thinks it's hilarious that PM, NGTJ and I spend our days leaving messages customers simply do not listen to and then the customers call, enraged that no one has passed on vital information to them. Seriously, every day I call people to tell them what time the installers are coming to install the stuff they paid us to install.  Generally I have to a leave a message.  Let me amend that:  If I dial the phone for the purpose of giving information to a customer, I ALWAYS leave a message.  

So on Wednesday I get a call from a gent.  "I see someone from this number called three times and I need to know what the emergency is."

Just like that. No, "Hi my name is," nothing like that.

I said, "Did the person who called leave a message?"

He said, "Maybe.  I didn't listen but my phone says someone called three times so it has to be an emergency."

After sorting out that yes, I called him, once, (his phone registered my extension number as X3)  I told him when his installers would arrive on Thursday.  I also informed him that yes, I had left that very same information on his phone.

On Thursday the same gent called and said, "I'm having installers come in today and no one has bothered to call me and tell me when the installers are coming today."

Nope, our customer are not stupid.

4)  See, the problem is, what you installed is working exactly the way it should be...so I'm not happy.

See if you slide the shower head down,
your hair won't get wet...
In my role as customer service dump site, I take a lot of calls from people who are having issues with the stuff we install.  The vast majority of the issues are small and can be fixed quite easily.  Some issues can even be handled quickly over the phone.  Every once in a while, however I get this:

Customer:  I'm very unhappy with the shower head.

Sarah:  What's wrong with it?"

Customer:  It's a hand held, one of those with a hose, you know?  And it's just too big.  Water gets on my hair and I never want water to get on my hair in the shower.

Sarah:  Well, it's a hand held, so maybe you can lower it on the slide bar and then it won't hit your hair?

Customer:  No, the shower head size is the problem. It's too big. I didn't want one that big, but the salesman said you didn't carry anything smaller so now I don't like it because it's getting my hair wet.

Sarah:  Well, ma'am, if we don't carry a smaller shower head, then I'm thinking the best way for you to keep your hair from getting wet in the shower is to just lower the shower head a little bit so it doesn't hit your hair.

Customer:  Look, the shower head is spraying water all over the shower stall and it's getting my hair wet and I know it's the smallest one you carry, but it's too big so I want a tech to come out and fix it.

Sarah:  Ma'am, you're telling me it's working exactly the way we said it would work.

Customer:  no, it's not because it's getting my hair wet!

Oh yeah, our customers have Vulcan logic.

3)  Only one man can tell me how to clean my shower, so little girl, go find him and put him on the phone.

PM is a really good guy and takes on a ton of calls that just about no one else in the building can or will handle.  However, PM was on vacation this week.  And that meant, since we all know Captain Nubbin isn't able to do much other than pass a phone call on to someone else, that I would be taking all of the installation and service calls.  Normally not a problem.  Until this frequently flier on the "pain in my neck customer" train called in.

Customer:  Yes, I've been dealing with PM.

Sarah:  PM is out of the office all week.  How can I help you?"

Customer;  I'm having trouble with my shower doors.

Sarah:  What's going on with them?

Customer:  No one has told me how to clean them.

Sarah:  (Biting the inside of her mouth because she just remembered who this guy is.)  Well, sir, I can tell you exactly how to clean your shower doors.

Customer: No, you can't.  PM can tell me how to clean my doors so their don't get smeared.

Sarah:  Sir, PM is on vacation all week, but I assure you, I can tell you exactly how to clear your shower doors.

Customer:  No, you won't know how to clean the shower doors.  I've been dealing with PM and I want him to tell me how to clean the doors.

Sarah:  Sir, all you have to do it...

Customer:  I do not want to hear anything you say.  You don't know how to clean my shower doors.  So you can either send someone out here to show me or you can have PM call me later today.

Sarah:  Sir, PM is out of the office until Monday.  And I cannot send a tech out to clean your shower doors because I can, indeed, tell you exactly what to do.

Customer:  You have been rude and have not helped me at all.  I will be calling your boss to complain.

Of course, he hung up on me before I could give him BBO's number.  Too bad, I would love to have seen what BBO would have done with him.

2)  I don't know what the terms "impasse" and "catch-22" mean.

What would you like installed?
Sometimes Stuff Installed meets potential customers at home shows, fairs, festivals, malls, all sorts of places where people who have stuff they need installing might gather.  At these places people I affectionately call "minions"  (I've been using that term since before "Despicable Me" thank you.) collect customer information on cards and give the cards to NGTJ and me.

On Tuesday I called a woman to ask her a few more questions about the card she filled out.  It seems she wanted a shower base installed in her home.  Problem was, she had no shower in the space she wanted the base installed.  This intrigued me.

I should know better.

Here's how it went:

Sarah:  We saw you at the fair over the weekend and I see  you're interested in having a shower base installed?

Customer:  No.

Sarah:  Oh, I'm sorry, I just got this card and that's what it says.

Customer:  No, I want a price for what it would cost to get a shower base installed.

Sarah:  (We aren't supposed to give pricing over the phone. That's the job of the sales guys.)  Well, I will be happy to schedule a time for one of our consultants to come out and take a look at the space and give you a price.  But it doesn't look like there's a shower in the space right now.

Customer:  No, we're converting a closet into a shower.

Sarah:  So there's no drain or shower walls?

Customer:  no. they told me at the fair I needed to get that put in first.

Sarah:  Yes, that's correct.  We aren't able to price out a job if we know we aren't going to be able to do the job.  So I tell you what, once you get the drain put in  and the walls roughed in for a shower, I'll be happy to schedule that appointment for you, okay?

Customer:  No.  I want a price for what it would cost to get a shower pan put it.  So send someone out now.

Sarah:  Ma'am, I'm not able to send anyone out if there's nothing for us to look at.

Customer:  Yes, they told me that at the fair.  But I want a price.  You tell me a price.

Sarah:  In this case, ma'am, any number I give you would be wrong.  It would be a guess.  I have no idea what something like this would cost.

Customer: That's fine. I won't hold you to the price.  I just want to know what it would cost.  $2000?  $5000?  $10000?

Sarah:  It might cost any one of those.  There's no way we can even guess at a price for this job until we see the shower space and there's no point in sending someone out to see the shower space until there's a shower space to see.

Customer:  Well I'm not getting the closet torn out or the drain put in until you come out and give me a price.

Sarah:  Then I guess we have a catch-22 here.  I can't send someone out until you do that preliminary work and you won't do the preliminary work until we come out.

Customer:  Right.  So just tell me a price.

Sarah:  Ma'am, In  all honesty I haven't a clue  (this is actually true in this case)  what something like this is going to cost and I'm going to send a consultant to your home to take up your time  (because it's always about taking up the customer's time) when there's nothing there for him to look at to decide what the price will be.  Until you put in a drain and rough in shower walls, we are at an impasse.  There's nothing there for my consultant to give you a price on.

Customer:  You are not being very helpful.  All I want is a price.

Sarah:  Okay, ma'am, any one of our jobs can be anywhere from $1000-$15000 depending on what you want installed.  That's the honestly best answer I can give you.  

Customer:  Well, then send someone out here to give me a better price.

Sarah:  MA'AM...we do not do the kind of work you need done in your space.

Customer:  Yes, they told me that at the fair.

Sarah:  So until you have a space in your home where we are able to install something, there's no way I can send someone out there to give you any better pricing for your project than what I've already said.

Customer:  But you won't give me any kind of price.

Sarah:  (am I losing my mind?)  Look, I can have my production manager talk to you.  He's on vacation this week, but I'll have him give you a call.

Customer:  He'll be able to give me a price?

Sarah:  Ma'am, PM will probably tell you exactly what I've told you, but he manages all the installations and he may have more information I'm not aware of.

Customer:  Good, because I'm not doing any of this work until I know what you're going to charge me.

Yes, all of our customers have solid listening skills.

And finally:

1)  Oh, never mind then.

Most of the time when I get a call to schedule a repair, it's easy and takes one phone call, maybe six or seven minutes.  I'm pretty good at what I do, in spite of what you might think reading this blog.  But Tuesday I had big fun with a couple who clearly aren't smart enough to communicate with each other much less people outside their house.

It started with a sales guy telling me a I needed to call someone.  I hate this.  The sales guys are constantly calling me because they've talked to a customer and whatever the customer says, the sales guys aren't equipped to answer so they come to me...the customer service dump site.  Tuesdays are the worst because the Sales Guys come in for a meeting and surround my desk like the Undead either waiting for me to print something for them, look up their sales numbers, or call their customers.  It's one reason I loathe Tuesdays.

So this Tuesday a Sales guy says, "You need to call...um...I think his name is Kevin.  And he lives in Northtown on Highway 7."

Sarah:  Why?

Sales Guy:  I was having a beer with him and he said something was wrong with the thing we installed.

Sarah:  Do you have a phone number?

Sales Guy:  Just Kevin on Highway 7.  I think that's his name.

Oh good.  After doing a bit of a search I found someone whose name and general address matched that crack description and I made two phones calls:  One to each number. I left messages at both.

An hour before I was to leave for the day I dialed the first number again.  I got Kevin!

Kevin:  Yeah?

Sarah:  Hi Kevin, this is Sarah from Stuff Installed.  I understand you saw Don last night and you told him you needed some service on the sink we installed.

Kevin:  Yeah.  Hey, call my wife, okay?  Because she's home and just call her.

Sarah:  You want me to call your wife instead of answering your questions?

Kevin:  Yeah.

At this point I'm a little grieved.  I mean, I left a message on his phone at 8 AM.  He not only couldn't return a message in seven hours, he wouldn't even talk to me after I called him again?

So I call the wife.  Let's call her Deena.

Deena:  (Sounding quite...stoned)  yeah?

Sarah: Hi Deena, it's Sarah from Stuff, Installed.  Kevin told me to call you because you talked to Don last night about the sink?

Deena:  I don't know a Don.

Sarah:  Okay, well, then Kevin talked to Don.  Don told me to call you because something's wrong with your sink?

Deena:  I didn't call anyone.

Sarah:  Yes, I know.  Kevin told me to call you about the problem you're having with the sink.

Deena:  I didn't call anyone about the sink.

(Remember, it's three in the afternoon.)

Sarah:  So your faucet isn't loose?

Deena:  (long pause)  Oh, well a long time ago the thing where the water comes out was loose.  But I talked to someone a really long time ago about that.

(I checked their account.  They've had that sink for less than two months.)

Sarah:  So your faucet is loose?

Deena:  No, the thing where the water comes out is loose, but someone said it was okay.

Sarah:  So you don't need anyone to come out and look at it?

Deena:  Well, yeah, I mean if you want to, but that guy a long time ago said it was normal because the thing is in a bigger thing and so the thing is loose.

(Go ahead and digest that for a minute.)

Sarah:  Is the faucet looser than it was the first time you called?

Deena:  No. It's about the same.

Sarah:  Okay, so here's what we're going to do:  Keep an eye on it for the next week.  If it gets looser, call me.

Deena:  Okay.

Personally, I'm waiting for the call from her next week when she tells me she had to use her vacation time at work because she had to watch her sink.

And there you go.  Frankly, yes, I think BBO owes me a retraction.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Throw Back Thursday: A Story from my childhood!

Hello all!  I'm getting on the TBT bandwagon this week and reposting something I posted a couple years ago.  But this is a story that still makes me laugh.  Enjoy!

I tell the kids in my Sunday School classes stories from my childhood to make them see that I wasn't always the very together, oh so grown up person I am today.  (Yes, Todd, I can hear you laughing...)  This is one of their favorites and, I might add, the very first story I ever sold to a magazine.  Enjoy!

I crashed my bike into the back of big silver car while I watched a one armed man build a house. 

Let me elaborate.

It was one of those sticky hot summer days when I was twelve.  It was the kind of day kids today would spend in each other's basements playing video games or drinking canned beverages and instant messaging each other.  But, since this was 1980, there were no video games, canned beverages came in bottles mostly, and instant messaging meant you ran over to the other kid's house and yelled at their window until they came outside. 

For fun on this hot sticky day, I was baking my chocolate chip cookies for my county fair 4-H baking project.  Because that's what you want to do in a house with no air conditioning.  You want to bake cookies.

It was a Thursday, and the reason I remember that is because my mother only did laundry on Mondays and Thursdays and everyone knows that fairs run Thursday through Sunday.  So it was a Thursday morning and we were, predictably, out of chocolate chips.  (When I say "out" I mean either we never had any or my father ate them in the in the middle of the night and then put the empty bag back in the freezer.)  So I hopped on my Schwinn three speed "Sundowner" model bike and got pedalling to the grocery store a mile away.

About halfway to the store, I noticed some workmen fixing  a house.  What really caught my eye was a one armed man climbing down the ladder.  I couldn't take my eyes off of him.  See, this was the guy who'd been electrocuted months earlier.  We'd prayed for him in church every week.  I could have SWORN he was dead.  I was so certain of it, that I stared and stared and stared at him...


That's about the the time my bike smacked into the back of a big silver sedan outside the Methodist church.  I rolled up onto the trunk of the car and then onto the street.  The workmen stopped and yelled across the street, asking me if I was okay.

Humiliated, I popped back on my bike and waved at them, ignoring both the gash in my knee and the fact that the front end of my bike was so bashed in I could barely get the front wheel moving.

I got to the grocery store, picked up my chocolate chips and went to the counter.  The lady at the counter knew my parents.  (Everyone knew my parents.  My dad was the Lutheran school principal and my mom was the local piano teacher.  In a town of 1200, they were movers and shakers.)  She said, "Dear, do you know your leg is bleeding?"

I said, "Yes," waved at her, and got back on my bike.  This time I pedaled as hard as I could, but the front tire was smashed against the central frame of the bike and wouldn't budge.  So I had to walk the bike home, holding the front end up.  The good news was that the workmen were on a break someone in the back yard of the house.

When I got home, I immediately went to my mother to tell her what happened.  I mean, I couldn't hide this one.  First of all, there was something really wrong with my bike.  Second, I was pretty sure who ever owned that care was going to call her anyway and third, my leg really hurt.

Mom was in the basement pumping away on the wringer washer.  She loved her wringer washers.  She didn't get an automatic one until I was almost 30.  She loved wringer washers so much, in the 80's she bought one just for parts so she could keep hers going.  Anyway, she was down there, pounding away on the little foot pump that kept the wringer rolling. 

"Mom," I said in my most pathetic voice, "I hit a car with my bike because I saw that dead guy with the one arm building a house."

I know...it sounds nuts to me now, too.

All my mom heard was, "I hit someones car with my bike and we're going to have to pay to repair it."

She asked me for the coordinates of my accident.  Sure enough, when I told her, she rolled her eyes upward and said, "Oh Lord, that's the Thompson's. Did you stop and tell anyone?"

By now the blood on my leg was a really more a river soaking into my sock.

"No.  I had to get the chocolate chips."

So, in her ratty jean shorts and tank top, her laundry outfit that she'd worn to do laundry in since her high school days, my mother walked me the six blocks to the Thompson's house.  Mrs. Thompson's husband owned the only funeral parlor in town.  She came to the door looking calm and cool.  They had two air conditioning window units in their downstairs.

Mother explained my story, minus the one armed guy building the house who I thought was dead.  We looked at the car, which had sustained a scratch about an inch long and one, Mrs. Thompson said, "would buff out."  Her brother worked at a body shop, so she knew this sort of thing.

Then Mrs. Thompson looked at me and said, "Do you know your leg is bleeding?"

I said yes and then Mom thanked her and we walked back home. All the way home M

By the time we got home, my sock was wet with blood and my leg was sticky.  I was afraid to say anything because, well, I still wasn't sure if Mrs. Thompson's brother would be able to buff out the scratch and if he could, what would it cost?

"Mom,"  I said as she started going back to the basement to continue doing laundry, "I'll pay for the damage to the car, but can I have a band aid for my leg?"

It was then that my mother realized I was hurt.  She took me into the bathroom, washed my cut, bandaged it up, and stuck my sock in the bleach bucket until next laundry day.  Later, like twenty years later, she told me she was so wrapped in the fact that she was a mess, that she never even realized I'd cut my leg.

Oh, but I made the chocolate chip cookies before noon that day.  And I got a second place ribbon.  The judge liked the cookies, but said that using all butter on such a hot day made the cookies too thin and chewy.

I'll bet the one armed guy would have loved them.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Happy Mother's Day...Dr. Debbie would now like to see you naked.

"Friends" is pretty much required viewing for this

Good afternoon!

For the last couple years I've spent some quality time listening to Sportsradio 1250 "The Big Show" for all my sports talk needs.  (The women who read this blog have now stopped reading.  Most of the men are suddenly finding me way more attractive.)  One of the guys on the show, former Green Bay Packer Gary Ellerson, has for a very long time extolled the wonders of Badger Health Center, a place near my husband's work that specializes in steam treatments, acupuncture, and massage.

For the last couple years I've mocked Gary Ellerson...Packer hero that he is...for his endorsement because he's always talking about "Dr. Anna" and "Dr. Suzi." To me, unless they are pediatricians, this just sounded like..."oh yes, right...DOCTOR Suzi...uh huh.  I'm taking this seriously now."  I mean come on...yes, my kids call their pediatrician "Dr. Joe."  That's mostly because he has a Greek last name that's tough to spell and looks very little like it sounds.  But how seriously
Sort of a normal looking place, right?
can I take anyone named Dr. Suzi?

So Hubby, patient man that he is, has listened to me joke about this for a long time.  And this past Mother's Day he did something about it.  He and the kids got me two 60 minute massages.

That shut me up.  I mean, we aren't rich, we aren't "getting a massage" type people, so this was a big deal.  

It took me a couple months to wrap my head around the fact that I was, indeed, going to be going to this place and seeing these people whom I'd mocked for quite some time.  Finally, last week, I called and set up and appointment for this morning.  Some girl named Jasmine or Petal or something like that took my call, set up the appointment, and told me I could come in a fill out the paperwork or I could print it out online and bring it in with me.  I printed it out and filled it out and I'll say this:  It pretty much looked like every other type of paperwork I've filled out for medical and chiropractic stuff over the years.

This morning I was about to chicken out. One of the things I've lost after my car accident two years ago was my adventurous spirit.  I don't typically want to go anywhere or do much of anything.  NGTJ mocks me for it sometimes because I won't go and do stuff after work, and I make fun of myself sometimes too, but reality is that I just don't seem to have the energy to get up and do new things...or anything.  I was about to chicken out and then I realized something that terrified me:  What if I have to get naked?

See, everything I know about massages I learned on the TV Show "Friends" and I recalled all of Phoebe's customers were naked.  That wasn't working so much for me for one reason.  Punctuation.  (Regular readers of this blog are going to get that.  The rest of you should go back and read some past posts and catch up.  You won't regret it, I promise.  Punctuation has long controlled my life.)

I'm sorry, doesn't this look like something from
Robin Cook's "Coma?"
I called the place and left a message, but then realized that I was the first appointment of the day and no one was calling me back to give me the naked truth.  So, I did what any completely normal, sane women would do, I put on my spandex workout shorts under my other shorts and I went to my massage.

I got there, walked in, everything looked pretty okay.  I wasn't even put off by the multitude of blankets tacked to the walls of the waiting room.  Mostly I was focused on just how bare I was going to have to get.  

I was told Dr. Debbie would see me.  That's when I remembered that an adult calling another adult "Dr. First Name" was hilarious and I got over my nudity concerns.

And joy of joys...Dr. Debbie is a fluffy girl!


So Dr. Debbie ushered me into a room where Enya played softly.  I didn't see any candles, but the lights dimmed pretty well, and there all sorts of wall hangings I found to be soothing.  We talked about the car accident and what areas beside my neck were giving me problems.  She then said the magic words:

Okay, you need to strip down pretty much to underwear, and take off your bra because the straps get in my way.

She pointed to the table and said, "Get under the sheet and I'll come in."

I did as I was told except I left on the spandex shorts.  And my socks.  I didn't see any reason to take off my socks.

She came in and started working.  Apparently she hasn't had a patient quiet as big a mess as I am for a long time.  "You're making me work," was something she said quite often.

If you don't understand this picture...go find it
on youtube.

We chatted.  I told her everything I knew about massage I knew from "Friends."  She laughed and said, "I only use the wooden spoons on special clients."  

Dr. Debbie might be my new best friend.

She kept telling me to take it easy today and drink lots of water.  I had no problems following those rules.  And she didn't make fun of my spandex shorts.

I'm a little stiff and sore right now because she poked and prodded at parts of me that haven't been touched since I told my 98 pounds physical therapist to stop hurting me.  And she worked on a muscle group in my rump...who knew I HAD a muscle group in my rump...that was wildly painful.  All in all though, my first massage was a success and I'm seeing her again next week. Not sure how long I'll continue this new found activity, but for now, let's just say I was really okay with it.

Especially the taking it easy part.  And the drinking water.  Hey, does the water that's in the ice that I would put in my wine count?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Wait, wait, wait. Is Rick Springfield performing here?

Good morning!

You are coming to the ball game with us. Now
get on your horse and let's go!
So this past Wednesday my friend Buttercup  (she's a MASSIVE "Princess Bride" fan, even a bigger fan than I am)and her husband convinced Hubby and me to go out in the middle of the week.  We went to a Milwaukee Brewers game.  I haven't been to a major league baseball game in a couple years, even though the Brewer's stadium, Miller Park, is about a fifteen minute drive from my work.  In the last couple years I've sort of stopped going a lot of places, (other than Rick Springfield concerts, you understand) because I find myself more and more anxious and exhausted for reasons I haven't yet explored.

Anyway, so we went to the ball game, and we were having a really, really lovely time. There were no lines to stand in, even in the public restroom, which was completely acceptable for use.  The weather was perfection, there were no bugs, and since I'm not really invested in baseball, it didn't matter than much that the home team was losing.

For those of you who know American baseball, the 7th inning is pretty close to the end of a regulation game.  We were in the 7th inning, enjoying a really great night, when it happened.  See, Buttercup and her husband were in two seats two rows behind us.  So there was a row between us.  It hadn't mattered because there was no one in those seats, so we were able to talk back and forth with them.  

Since my car accident it's been difficult for me to turn my head so when SOMEONE came and sat behind us, I thought it was Buttercup and her husband trying to make conversation easier for me.  I turned my head just enough to see a flash of straight auburn hair and figured it was Buttercup sitting right behind me now.

I made some comment, or something before I realized, mostly because of the beer stench wafting over me, that this was NOT Buttercup.

But because I spoke, the woman I will now call Cheap Drunk thought we were friends.

"Hey, how about this?"  She spoke pleasantly enough, in spite of the foul stale brewery stank rolling off of her, "we just got here.  It's what, like the 7th inning, and we're just getting here."  

Insert annoying laugh here.  Then insert some sort of uninteligible gibberish from her man, the equally inebriated "Cheap Drunk's Old Man," who, Buttercup told me later, spent his time trying to stick his tongue in various openings on Cheap Drunk's head.

Did I mention these people were of an advanced enough age where this sort of behavior was just, really...sad?

So Cheap Drunk holds up her beer can, which I find strange since I hadn't seen people selling beer in cans.  Mostly I saw plastic cups or those aluminum bottles.  "Can you believe it?"

I turn around, mostly because I'm a polite person and I can't simply ignore people who are talking to me...(that's how I got two of my three credit cards.)  and I see her holding the beer can pretty much over my head.

"Can you believe it, we snuck these in...they didn't take them from us or nothin'."

She might be right, she might have sneaked beer into the stadium...but I could think at that moment was, "Is Rick Springfield playing after the game, because people like this ONLY wind up behind me at Rick Springfield concerts!"

(Readers if this blog know that I've shared concert air with some of the great female drunks of the 21st century:  Red from Memphis, Mean Lady, and of course, my favorite, Date Night.  All drunk, all spilling drinks usually on me, and all at Rick concerts.)

But Cheap Drunk wasn't done being social in spite of the fact I turned away.  (If she was going to dump beer on me, I didn't want it to get in my eyes.)  It was the bottom of the 7th and the Brewers sent their first batter of the inning out.  Brewers were down by three runs.  Cheap Drunk yells, "Okay Buddy, let's get a Grand Slam!"

(A grand slam, for those of you not in the know, is when a batter hits a home run while there are men on the other three bases, thereby giving the batting team four runs.  In this situation a grand slam would have been impossible because, well, there was NO ONE ELSE ON BASE!)

I'm not sure if Cheap Drunk's Old Man took his tongue out of her ear long enough to explain that detail to her, or if Buttercup and her husband said something, but Cheap Drunk realized the stupidity of her request. "Oh, well, I guess you can't get us a grand slam, can you?"  she shouts.

Lord have mercy.

For the next several minutes, Hubby and I spend a lot of energy trying to ignore her incessant chatter about everything and to everyone.  The only time she shuts up is when she takes a gulp out of her seemingly bottomless beer can.  I'm relieved when she drinks because I know every ounce that goes in her face is one less that's going to wind up on my head.

At some point during the early part of the 8th inning, Cheap Drunk realizes she is not amusing us or anyone in our section.  That's when she gives us what I can only imagine she thinks is her Gettysburg address.

"I am here for the fun."


"I don't care about the crappy play or who wins or whose talking to me or what people think.  I'm here for the fun."

And with that mighty statement that would echo through the age, she and the old man got up and left.
Hey stick around after the game!  I'll be putting on a
concert just for Sarah because she's the one who
winds up sitting in front of messy drunks all the time.

Which is about the time I started looking around for people wearing Rick Springfield t-shirts because I JUST KNEW he had to be playing after the game.  It didn't happen, of course, but now I'm on the lookout every time I wind up sitting in front of someone who is inebriated and looking for a new best friend...or at least someplace to dump her drink.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Skinny girls aren't going to get this!

Good evening:

WARNING!  Today's blog deals with women's personal issues in personal places.  

You've been warned!

My mother always told me, "Suck in your stomach you look ten pounds thinner."

That was when I was 13 and sucking in my stomach did the trick.  Now I'm older and believe me, a loss of ten pounds is not going to change how I look to the outside world.  Besides, let's just say I have no core muscles due to childbirth, age, and a combination of my love for cheetos and my distaste for sit ups.

So, the other day I was wandering the aisles of Kohls women's department looking for that magical garment that didn't look like an old lady tent and made me look like a size twelve.

Across the aisle from women's, in a cruel twist of store layout, in lingerie.  And there I saw a display for SPANX and SPANX-like products. 

All the models on all the packages looked so happy...and thin. Not a spot of back fat on any of them!  (We fluffy girls know the heartbreak of back fat.  Sure, you can suck in your stomach...but you can't suck in your back.  You just can't.)

I had to do some searching for something in my size.  Those of you who read this blog know my semi annual quest for bras, so just imagine it was that, only far more shameful as I looked at sizing charts and realized that I was going to have to go to a very special sort of plus size.  (Control foundation garments are, cruelly, small sized so that a 1-2x girl like me who'd like to smooth out the back fat a bit is forced to look at something in a Triple x...sort of like a porno movie, a really sad, really pathetic porno.)

I finally found a delightful sort of shorts/girdle garment in my size.  I took it home, and attempted to put it on.
It became abundantly clear to me that this was going to take 1)  Practice or 2) a second person...and really, I wasn't up for that kind of shame.  So I put the garment in a drawer and forgot about it.

Four months later it's summer.  And with summer comes lighter garments made out of materials that a built to be lightweight...and possibly a bit clingy.  Back fat, front fat, thigh lumps, all pretty much out there in those lighter weight materials.  So, I delved into the drawer and pulled out the garment and, with much sweating and a little cursing, I'm not going to lie, I managed to yank that puppy over my hips, and all the way up to the bottom hem of my bra.  My gut looked liked a fat man trying to escape from a tightly wound parachute, but as I donned the light weight top I realized my back fat was smoothed a bit.  And, I was excited!  Unlike my literary hero, Scarlett O'Hara, I didn't need someone to get me into my foundation garment! (Also like Scarlett, I'm never going to see an 18 inch waist...or a 24 inch waist...or a 30 in waist...).

Off to work I went, sucked in and smoothed out.

Quick question:  Have you, ladies, ever used the bathroom while wearing one of these deals?  

See, some of you are already laughing.

I typically don't break for any reason until about 11.  So, as is my custom, I took out the mail, refilled my coffee cup, and then headed to the ladies' room.

Peeling that puppy off my somewhat sweaty skin wasn't too hard.  I was a bit disturbed at how my gut sort of sagged down like a whale suddenly devoid of bones.  As I sat there, doing my business, I looked down at the garment and realized a terrible thing:

I had to somehow put that back on.

Those of you who read this blog know I have issues when it comes to public bathrooms, and work is the worst because, really, there's no sense of decorum or delicacy where I work.  I work mostly with men and Captain Nubbin is one of those socially weird guys who thinks pointing out what goes on in a bathroom, and what comes out of a bathroom is normal conversation.  Every morning I have to hear him  discuss the smell in the men's bathroom and then sort of mock the guy who was in there last before him...it's horrifying and I've sworn to never leave anything behind in the bathroom or do anything noisy or anything like that.

So I'm sitting there realizing I have two options:  1)  I can just take the thing off and carry it out and hope I stow it in my desk before Captain Nubbin spots it and says, "WHAT YA GOT THERE?  A GIRDLE?"

2)  I can yank it back on.

I have advanced arthritis in my thumbs, so option two was unpleasant in a lot of ways.  But not as unpleasant as option one.  So, finished with my business and my dilemma, I stood, and began the long, horrible, sticky, sweaty, vulgarity laced (silently of course) struggle.  After about three minutes of really hard work, I got it on and manged to escape the bathroom without comment from the ever watchful Captain Nubbin.

Have I worn it since? Not to work.  I guess I'll just let my back fat hang out at work.  And I'll just try being thin for church.  Hubby says I shouldn't bother, God doesn't care what I wear.  Yeah, but God was never a church lady.  So, yeah, I'm gonna have to give this a go in church. Or maybe I'll just save it for the really important thin days, like when I go see my mother.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Flashback Friday: The One Fourth of July I Should have been Cool.

Happy 4th of July!

For those of you who do NOT live in America, today is the day we celebrate our independence from the British.  I could go into a long dissertation about how the whole "No taxation without representation" which was once a reason to revolt is now, sadly, a way of life here in the US.

But that's not the purpose of this blog.

The purpose of this blog is to make people laugh and, as you know, my endless quest to be cool has been a source of amusement for many of you for a long time.

And today, since it's the Fourth of July, I have a good one.  (BTW, the funny joke some of us make around here is, "Do they have a Fourth of July in England?"  Some of you are going to get it, some are not.)

This story comes from my mid childhood, I think I was ten, maybe eleven.  

My younger cousins, who had long lived in Minnesota, moved to Wisconsin that summer.  And we, having long lived in Michigan, had recently moved to Wisconsin. My mom was excited to be able to see her younger brother and his family more often than we had previously.

Now, in Michigan, some small fireworks were, in the 70's, legal to own and operate.  (Laws in Wisconsin regarding fireworks have always been a little muddy.  For a while it was okay to sell them.  It was okay to buy them.  It was NOT okay to own them.  Sooo....)

I digress. 

Anyway, growing up in Michigan, my older cousins, my brother and I enjoyed running through the hot July 4th night, waving sparklers around.  My cousin, Liesel, and I,both the same age had spent the previous July fourth writing words in the darkness with our sparklers, while my oldest cousin, Ken, had, family legend holds, leaned to throw a sparkler in the air and catch it.  (Frankly, I can't believe that's true, but I know Ken...he might actually have managed it.)

During the summer in question, I was eager to be the older cousin.  I knew we were spending the fourth with my younger cousins, Lindy and Ray and baby Bucky.  Finally, I would not be overshadowed by Ken and Liesel's coolness.  I would be the older, cooler cousin and I was READY to teach these kids how to play with sparklers!  (Living in Minnesota, where fireworks were verboten, Lindy and Ray had never actually touched a sparkler. I was SO going to rule this holiday!)

But, as readers of this blog know, there are forces in my life that strive daily to keep me from my goal of being cool.  This time around it was my Aunt Jan.

To say Aunt Jan is a little uptight is a bit of an understatement.  She's a lovely, hardworking, dedicated, God-fearing woman who has uptight and very cheap.  She's the woman who brought cheese slices to McDonald's because a cheeseburger was $0.39 whereas a plain burger was $0.29 and she was not about to pay the extra ten cents.  

She was also super over protective.  And this is coming from someone whose own mother didn't let us watch the TV show Happy Days because Fonzie was a high school dropout and therefore a bad influence on us.  Aunt Jan made my mom look like some kind of free love hippie.

Knowing this, I should NOT have been surprised when in the late afternoon of July fourth the following happened:

Uncle Dean and Aunt Jan lived on a large property that shared a parking lot with a small church and a large school building.  For a ten/eleven year old there was almost endless space to run through the night, sparkler in hand.  Unfortunately for this ten/eleven year old, it was six thirty and practically broad daylight.

Aunt Jan:  We have to get these sparkler things done so the kids can get their baths in.

Back in the day, getting your baths in was the MOST important thing.

Sarah(to her parents): MOM!

Mom:  Shhhh....just go along with it.  Your cousins are smaller.

Sarah:  But MOM...sparklers don't work when it's bright outside.

Mom:  Go stand in the shadow of the church. It's darker there.

(Right...and as bad as that was, it was about to get worse.)

Aunt Jan:  okay, so we're going to do these sparklers. Now, children, sparklers are fire and you can and will die if you do not use them exactly as I say...

Sarah:  MOM!

(See, where I grew up, sparklers were the training wheels of fire works.  Even today, in our ultra sensitive, don't go anyplace without three immunizations, a helmet, and a dietitian, I see four year olds running around with sparklers.  I'd been using sparklers since I was barely out of diapers.  My cousins were, except for baby Bucky, above the age of six.  Aunt Jan's safety speech was, in my experience opinion, nonsense.)

Several minutes later, she finished her lecture and we were ready!

No we weren't.  Because then this happened.

Aunt Jan:  okay, children, now I'm going to mark out the spaces where you can stand while you're holding your sparklers.

Wait, what?

She started making marks in the dirt, circles really, around the younger kids.  This time my brother, who was seven or eight a the time, raised a protest.  He'd been running up and down sidewalks for a couple years already. The idea of standing in a circle roughly the diameter of one of those plastic pools you get for little kids was unacceptable to him.


Oh, and each circle was about ten feet away from every other circle and any building.  By the time Aunt Jan got to where I stood, firmly locked in the one shady patch by the church, I was angry.  And I'm not a person who's ever been able to keep my feelings off my face. You pretty much know exactly how I'm feeling by looking at me.  At eleven, I was a shade taller than Aunt Jan and my facial expression must have been pretty fierce.

Aunt Jan:  Okay, well, Sarah, you're older, so I guess it's okay if you have a little more space.  So you just stay in this box here.  (She made a couple lines in the dirt.)  I'll tell the little kids you get more space because you're older.

Oh, hey, thanks.  Thanks.

My mother sidled up to me at some point and said, "When we get home we'll do it right. Just go along with it for now."

I should mention that no, we never did MAKE IT UP.  I never got to be the oldest cousin showing my younger cousins how cool I was, how I could throw a sparkler in the black night and the pick it up in the dark without burning myself because I knew which end was hot.  I never got to run in that massive open space unbounded by streets and houses.  

Aunt Jan then handed us each a sparkler.  One. Singular.  Again, my brother and I had run the sidewalks of Michigan with at least one sparkler in each hand.  And here we stood, ten feet apart, in broad daylight, waving one sparkler.

Aunt Jan:  okay, now, Michigan cousins, show your Minnesota cousins how it's done.

Impossible.  My brother and I glared at her, then at each other, then waved the sparklers in the daylight and said, "yay," with no enthusiasm.  Lindy and Ray didn't understand the appeal.  I don't blame them.

Now you're probably wondering where the fathers were in all this.  Where was Uncle Dean and my dad?

They were on the other side of the church, hidden from view, tossing wads of lit sparklers into the sky.  They were standing there, drinking beer, chucking sparklers around and having a blast.  Since I was closest to the church I heard them talking.  After tolerating one sparkler in the circle, I slipped away to see what they were doing.


Both men shushed me, fear in their eyes at being found out.  Sure enough, Aunt Jan sensed someone was having fun, and had to run around to squash it.  

Aunt Jan:  DEAN!  Do NOT let the children see you doing this!

Dean:  what will it hurt?

Aunt Jan:  They will want to do it too!

Sarah:  Well duh.  Dad, can I do it?"

My dad, much like most men I grew up around, lived in fear of my mom.  Seriously, anyone who says it's a man's world never grew up with women like my mother and my Aunt Jan.  Or my grandmothers.  Sure, they might seem like good, supportive wives.  But reality was that the women in my family ruled everything.  The men worked, brought home money, and then asked permission to do pretty much anything.  "Go ask your mother" was the battle cry of most dads I knew.

Dad:  Go ask your mother.

I wasted no time running back to the circles. This time I whispered in my mother's ear.  She frowned a little then said, "Okay, one.  And don't let anyone see you."

I ran back, elated.  My brother glared at me.  Sorry, bro, this was an every man for himself situation.

So I got to run in that back parking lot as the sun started to set.  I could almost pretend it was late at night, and I made that sparkler last longer than any other sparkler ever had.

My cousins eventually grew up, we all did.  We lost track of sparklers for a while, but now we all have kids. Mine are pretty old.  Ken's kids are older than mine, but everyone else has younger kids.  I never ask if they do sparklers.  I know my kids did.  Because, when you're a kid, what's better than staying up late, and playing with fire?

Wherever you are today, if you celebrate the Fourth of July, get a pack of sparklers, (they're cheap) and light a few.  Write a word or two in the darkness. Run down a hill and watch the sparks fly behind you.  Throw one in the air and watch it fall to earth like a colorful meteor.  You won't regret a minute of it.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

So, what exactly is rock bottom for this particular addiction?

Good afternoon!

In case you missed is, I have a NEW NOVEL available for sale RIGHT NOW!  (Okay, I have four novels, two humor books, and one short romance for sale...but let's focus on one thing here.)  CLICK HERE to check our "A Hero's Spark." Also, in case you missed it, this weekend only, Elsie W.'s OTHER BOOK, "Unsafe at Any Speed" is FREE to Kindle users.  So...CLICK HERE to get that book for FREE!

It's Independence weekend...Elsie is FREE!
Now...on Monday, which most of you know is my "Marathon Monday" where I work from 7 AM until 8 Pm at Stuff, Installed, all so I have a glorious three days every week where I don't have to wonder just how Captain Nubbin is going to find a way to either be MORE useless or be a BIGGER obstacle in my day.  Anyway, on Monday, I sat at my desk, as I have several of these last Mondays and watched horrible storms roll in.  I was convinced, as I've been the last several Mondays during this fantastic unstable weather season we call Summer, that I was going to die at my desk as high winds, wild rains, and a smattering of hail threatened to break through the shoddily installed windows in our showroom.  (Note:  We at Stuff, Installed did NOT install those windows.  We do not install shoddily.)

So I was sitting there at my desk watching yet another Monday's edition of Weather Armageddon when I get a text from Hubby.  

There's No Power.

Crap on a cracker...I hate no power days.  Granted, compared to other houses I've lived in, and compared to other neighborhoods in my area, we've been pretty blissful when the power goes out around us. So I guess it was our turn.  Still, he sent the text at 6, and that gave the power company almost two and a half hours to get out there and get my AC and my TV turned on.

It's not like I've never been without power before.  I have.  Why do you think I wish we still used manual typewriters?  Power outages when I was a teen was NOTHING...I mean, back then we'd only had electricity for what, three, four years?  But now...everything depends on electricity.

This is one shelf...one of many.
Now, the joke in our house is that without power, we'd still have light because of my cache of Partylite candles.  And that is true.  I have enough candles to pretty much fully light my house for a week or two, brightly enough to read, sew, fold laundry, whatever.  I'm not exaggerating.  I love candles.  I have a lot of them.

So light, we've got light.  And we've got food because you do not need electricity to grill or cook on the top of our gas stove.  Again, having a ton of candles means I have enough of those long stemmed candle lighters to go on tour with...pick a band, I don't feel like being mocked for my music tastes at the moment...and have a lighter to last through an entire summer of power ballads.   Hubby hit the grocery store, got steaks for Skippy, Other Daughter, and me.  (Hubby is a vegetarians, he grilled some sort of sweet potato/corn mixture.)  Peaches, as most of you know was in France, enjoying French food cooked in a building that probably had electricity.  I can't swear to it, mostly because everything I picture in Paris is from 1944..I've been watching A LOT of World War II pictures lately.

So, light, and food.  And I have enough light to read and enough wine to stay in good humor.

But, as I picked my way through the downed trees and outed stop lights between Stuff, Installed and my house, I knew that was NOT going to be enough.  As it happens with most summer storms in Wisconsin, while there was a wild wind, there was also a heavy, sweaty humidity.  People think we're always cold up here, and that's true for 8 months out of the year.  Then we have two weeks of lovely spring and two weeks of lovely autumn, and in the middle of all that is three months of sweaty, sweltering tropical weather, complete with mosquitoes as thick as a sweater.

AHHHHH, lovely Wisconsin.

When I arrived home everything smelled good. Between the two dozen scented candles and the steak grilling in a tiny corner of the driveway just out of the rain, the place made your mouth water.

But inside the house was like one of those movies in set in the tropics where guys wear Hawaiian shirts and everyone is shiny.  Other Daughter and Skippy were splayed out on the leather furniture, afraid to move lest they stick and wind up having to peel layers of skin off just to get off the couch.  (Sort of that frozen tongue on the flag pole thing, but in reverse.)

Hubby was cheerful, having cooked a delightful meal and consumed a couple beers.  We have a gas water heater, so he was cheerfully elbow deep in a sink of soapy water, washing dishes.

I'd been at work for 13 hours. I wanted AC and TV.  

I would have done better in chemistry class if this had been
the table of elements and I had been the age I am now.
We ate the steaks, they were wonderful.  I even read a little.  I didn't have any wine, although I should have.  Perhaps a couple glasses of wine would have helped me fall asleep without the cooling breezy of my oscillating fan and the calming hum of the central air.

And oh yeah, I always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS fall asleep with the TV on.  ALWAYS.  I can't tell you a night in the last ten years where I haven't.  (Well, okay, when Marie and I are having fun with our "Two Moms and Three Glasses of Wine" idea for a podcast, then yeah, I may have fallen asleep without the TV, but I still have a fan.)

So there I am, lying in bed, sweating. Hubby, who seriously can fall asleep anyplace, any time, was already asleep.  I took a cool shower.  That comfort lasted about eight minutes.  And I started sweating again.  I hit the Tylenol PM and took another cool shower. But the silence in the house, the black screen of the TV and the humidity battled me a long time until, I guess, around midnight I fell asleep.

At 1:19 Am the power came back on. How do I know?  Well, I'd turned on the fan, I'd turned on the exhaust fan in the bathroom, and I'd switched on the bathroom light in the hopes that they'd come on and I'd relax.  What actually happened was they came on and I awoke in a gleeful state!  I jumped out of bed joyfully...
and I turned on the TV.  I turned on a rerun of "Friends" (thank you Nick at Night) set the sleep timer to 60 minutes.  I lay down, floating on a cool breeze and the gentle hum of the central air...and I fell asleep in about two minutes.  I didn't even make it through the "Friends" opening theme song.

So...I'm thinking this is not how a normal adult woman should be.  I mean, clearly there's an addiction I wasn't aware of.  I'll admit to being addicted to checking my Kindle Self Publishing stats.  I'll admit to being addicted to Grumpy Cat memes and big giant Hollywood period movies.  I'll even admit a tiny addiction to wine with french onion dip and low fat chips.  (Thank you, Marie!)

But TV, and AC...yep, I'm an addict.

Is there a twelve step program for this?  When do I know if I've hit rock bottom?

Was Monday night my rock bottom?

Is there someplace BELOW where I am now?

Okay, so, Americans, Happy fourth of July!  England, enjoy getting the first couple legs of the Tour de France!  And speaking of France, Peaches, enjoy the rest of your time there!  We miss you, but we know you're having a blast!

AND EVERYONE!  Please buy my books so I can quit my job and spend MORE time standing lines and driving among idiots!  CLICK HERE to help make that dream a reality!

Fun Fact Friday: Now that it's dead, Sarah reveals a childhood dream.

Happy Friday all! What do you want to be when you grow up? That's a question we ask little kids...and I haven't a clue why....