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When You Least Expect It

I was having a grumpy day.  I was hurting, I was tired, blah, blah…

And, I had to go to the post office as the last errand of my busy work day.

I got there and noticed people walking up to the door and stopping.  After a few seconds most of them turned around to leave. When I got close enough I saw why.  The big sign proclaimed the credit card system was down, and only cash was accepted.

Who carries cash anymore? Not me..that’s who.

Grumbling, I went back to the car and asked Auntie GoogleMaps where the next nearest post office was.   I found it and set off, at least happy that I was heading in the direction of home.

I got to the next post office, and apparently ALL THE PEOPLE who’d left that last place had gone there.  The line was out the door.

Now, I was really starting to get annoyed.

Fine, I thought, I’ll just go to the post office near my house.  This post office is right out of the 1940’s.  They staff is very small, usually very sour, and very slow, and on any given day there’s an incredibly long line.  At least it was close to home…so, there’s that.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into the post office to see only two people in front of me.

Imagine my further surprise to hear a man’s voice.

Singing.

He was singing Christmas carols.

He was very good, too.

Looking at the line of folks, I thought for sure it was one of them.

I also briefly wondered if I’d forgotten to take my headphones off, and was the singing coming from them.  Yes, I do stuff like that. All. The. Time.

Nope, it was one of the clerks behind the counter.  He was young-ish (but then, face it, I’m old and the young-ish are getting younger-ish every day) and had full-sleeve tattoos, large rings in his earlobes, and a shaved head.  He was delightfully full of sparkle.

When it was my turn he greeted me enthusiastically, asked about my day as though he really cared, and proceeded to serenade us all as he completed my transaction.

I left there with a big smile on my face, and a decidedly springier step.

I’d been so annoyed at having to search for a simple post office, and the quest had led me to a very sweet place.

It just goes to show you, when you least expect it……..

 

 

In A Couple of Days It’ll Be Veteran’s Day Here

…and because I am TERRIBLE at remembering big things like that…

I present a post I wrote a few years ago, which includes a short story I wrote a few years before that.  I’d been part of a writer’s group and every week we got  prompts – a list of words we had to use in a short story.  There was a competition, and I won for this story.  It happens that WWII is  a passion of mine, and the military in general I hold in very high regard.

In honor of those who have gone before us.

It’s Me, Isn’t It?

I recently had cause to question the customer service skills of three separate companies in one week.

I think that’s a new personal best, but I’m not sure since I don’t normally keep track.

Anyway, the first was a pair of earrings I ordered from a site and it was not the only pair of earrings this site offered.  It was, in fact, a pair similar to a couple of others they offered…but waaaaay cuter.

When I received the earrings – clearly not as pictured on the site – my first thought was, “dumbass, you ordered the WRONG thing..again!”  Sigh…it’s not the first time it’s happened to me, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

I checked my order invoice, and sure enough I’d ordered the RIGHT earrings and they’d sent me the WRONG ones.

So, it wasn’t me? I guess?

I contacted customer service, via e-mail, and got an extremely effusive apology from a very perky (I imagined “Tina” as a 20-something college student about to embark on a personal quest to save all the whales, and unicorns, and garden gnomes in the world) “customer experience specialist” (really?) who promised to ship my correct earrings that day.

Me: Thank you, and please issue a return for these and I’ll send them back.

Tina: Already done, it’s attached in this e-mail.  Just print it out and put it on the envelope you got your earrings in and send them back.  Oh, and have a super day!

Me: Oh..okay, will do

And, I did, sending the wrong earrings back.

The VERY next day I received yet another package with what I assumed was the RIGHT earrings.

They were the same WRONG earrings I’d sent back.  I mean, not THE same earrings I’d sent, but another pair of the wrong thing.

Feck.

Me:  Hey, Tina, yeah I got the WRONG EARRINGS again.  Let me ask you, does your inventory match the SKU numbers on the site?  I mean, this isn’t rocket science.

Is it? Is it me? Do I not understand the intricacies of online retail? I wondered.

My cell phone rang about 3 seconds after I sent the e-mail.

“Hello”

“Hi, this is Tina, from (unnamed_retail_outlet)”…Sweet clothespin jeebus, she sounded exactly like I imagined she would… “and, I am SUPER sorry about the mix-up again!! Hold on a minute while I check something, okay?!”

“Okay”

She came back on the line after a minute or so, breathless, “Okay, I’ve got the RIGHT earrings in my hand now. I’m super-sure of it. I’m sending them out today, and you know what? Just keep those others for all your trouble!!”

“Oh..well…umm…thanks?”

The WRONG earrings are hideous people, like really, really ugly…but, they were free, so yay?

I did, in fact get the RIGHT earrings the next day.

I love them.

In episode 2, a popular online retail site for pet food and products screwed up an order for my cat’s special food.

Yes, I buy my cat stupidly expensive food because he’s diabetic and prone to puking if his system gets out of whack. And, you know what? Turns out I don’t like cleaning up cat puke.

I’ve been buying the same, exact-no-changes, food for three years now.  Every month, they send me the stuff and charge my credit card.

Until last month, and the automatic didn’t happen.  It was me, that time, as I’d forgotten to update my credit card after having to get a new one when someone in New York tried to buy $800 worth of parking on my stolen credit card information (high fives to my bank for catching that so quickly!).

When it came time for Bugsy, the Insane to get his food I got an e-mail telling me that my order wasn’t coming because of the payment issue.

I called immediately, explained the mix-up, and gave them the corrected information.

Fido: “So, we’ll just get that added to your account so it doesn’t happen again!!  And we are super-pleased you chose (unnamed_pet_outlet) for all your fur baby’s needs!!”

Me: “Uh..okay..thanks?”

I’m always confused and startled by the exuberance of most customer service people, and wish they’d all go work at the post office or the DMV…like, right now.

This month, I got an e-mail stating with sad puppy eyes that I wasn’t getting Bugsy’s-now-I-won’t-puke food…because my credit card was denied.

Huh?

I looked at the e-mail, it listed the last 4 digits of the card I’d canceled.

The one I’d replaced last month with Fido, over the phone, and he was super excited about it.

I called again, and explained again, about the credit card.  This time, Fido found the old notes and said he’d “definitely get this corrected right away”, and ship Bugsy’s food.

I got the food, but I have to wonder what next month will bring.

Is it me, or is it too much to ask that I give you information and you retain it somewhere?

It’s me, isn’t it?

And, lastly, my first order from another site (can you tell I shop online a LOT?) had two items in it.

I got one.

So, I sent an e-mail to my “bestfriend” @ (unnamed_vintage_site).com   Is it me, or is that presumptuous?

It’s me, isn’t it? I mean, who couldn’t use a BFF in online retail, right? Hello, discounts!

I digress, anyway I was asking about Thing 2, having received Thing 1 that day.

BFF: Wow, that was super fast!! And, typically our orders don’t come all from the same place so they arrive in different packages.  But, we know you’ll be super happy with it!

Me: Oh, okay. I was in no rush. It’s my first time ordering from you, so I was just wondering. I do love Thing 1, though.

BFF: We’re super happy about that!! Thank you!!

Me: …

I didn’t answer back. I was super tired from reading.

Is it me, or are these exchanges just a tad over-wrought with faked sentiment and the overuse of the word “super”?

It’s me, isn’t it?

Isn’t it? I’d be super happy if you agree!!!

In Which I Am Unprepared

I pride myself on always being prepared for pretty much every scenario.

Lock yourself out of the house? I’ve got keys hidden all over the place. Same thing for my office building. Keys. Everywhere.

Rip your breeches or lose a button?  I carry a mini-sewing kit.

Earache? I have drops for that.

Nausea? Intestinal distress? Headache?  Got, have, and got.

My purse is a veritable Mary Poppins replica.

But, what happened to the lawyer last week….well, let’s just say that nothing in my purse could have helped.

I work in a really beautiful setting. My office building sits on the edge of a lake, the parking lot being the only thing between me and the water.

Last week we had a team of auditors, and attorneys, come visit us to check out our environmental programs and permits.  It’s all part of the game when you generate power.

The littlest of the attorneys was all of five foot tall, but her three inch heels made her seem much bigger.  That and her incredibly fast mode of speech. I swear, in all my life, I’ve never, ever heard anyone say so much so fast.  And I understood every word.  Once she was done, it was all I could do not to stand up and applaud.  She was impressive.

During a break she got a phone call and headed outside to – I presume – have some privacy.

She walked to the parking lot, and towards the steep incline heading down to the lake.

You know that feeling you get when something really awful is about to happen, and you’re watching it, and you are powerless to do anything about it?

She was animatedly chatting a mile-a-minute on the phone and aimlessly wandering closer and closer to the water.

Then, the inevitable happened.

Her heel caught in the grass and she went Pradas over Marc Jacobs suit, tumbling down the hill.

I really wanted to laugh, but I was truly concerned she’d not stop before the water, so I ran towards her instead.

About the time I reached the top of the hill, I looked down and she had righted herself, stood up, and was still talking on the phone.

That woman, right there, is a badass.  I’m glad she’s on our side.

Cut Loose!

I was a little bit disappointed in the lack of Fred and Ginger, but I guess their moves weren’t funky enough.

Oh, and hi there.

I’m back.

Sort of.

I’m sick…sigh…again…with a so-far-just-a cold and willing it to go away before it becomes SOMETHINGELSE (that’s like He Who Shall Not Be Named, I don’t say it for fear of making it appear).

Enjoy your weekend.  I’m going to snuggle down with jammies and tea..and a puppy.  Staying away from the hubby so he doesn’t get sick, too. 😦

A Cautionary Tail

Finally I am back in my office.  It’s a long story, but my office was without power for weeks.  Technically, it still is, but we’ve made a deal with Satan and he’s got us plugged right into the bowels of Hell and we’ve got electricity now.  And, trust me, you get used to the smell.

My crazy dog, whom I shall hereafter refer to as Darling Diva provided I can remember it, has this habit of absolutely, positively, without question, needing to pee at 2:00 a.m.  That’s an “a” people…as in in the middle of the freakin’ night. Every. Single. Night.

I don’t care if she peed at 1:59:59 a.m., at 2:00 a.m. she must go out to pee.

She also engages in strange behaviors while she’s out there.  These are things she doesn’t do at any other time.

I call it the “middle-of-the-fecking-night-crazies”.

Of course, hubby pretends to be asleep every night..conveniently..so I wind up taking her outside.

One night she bolted from the door to far end of the yard, ran around under some bushes, bolted halfway back across the yard, stopped to pee, and then ran full-tilt right back into the house.  Another time, she ran under the bushes and proceeded to twerk on the branches for a few seconds before peeing on them.

Recently, I opened the door to let her out and was hit with the unmistakable odor of  Eau de LePew, as in Pepe LePew.  If you have to ask who that is…you need to get yourself to YouTube immediately and watch some real cartoon characters.

Anyway, she hesitated to go out and I hesitated to let her.  We cautiously tiptoed out on the porch, looking around…did you know skunks are nearly blind, and if startled they will spray the startler without even asking who it is first.  This seems like a design flaw, to me. The worst smelling creature on the planet is virtually blind, and its only defense when surprised or threatened (and seriously, if its blind isn’t everything non-skunk a threat?) is to release a cloud of noxious gas so potent it’s used in chemical warfare? (No shit, I’m not making that up).

We didn’t see Monsieur LePew, but I didn’t let her dawdle either.  I told her to go pee and then we skedaddled back inside.

The next night, at you guessed it – 2:00 AM, Diva wanted out again.  I opened the door, and didn’t smell anything.  But, she bolted out to the porch, to the tree next to it and next thing I know,  she’s prancing around the yard with a ball of fur in her mouth.

She was quite pleased with herself, and I was praying she hadn’t just snatched Pepe up as a prize she was going to shake to death then eat.

Hey, people…she’s a dog, it’s what they do.

I didn’t know what to do.  On the one hand, if it was a skunk I just couldn’t see any possible scenario not involving hazmat suits, respirators, and quarantine..for both the dog and me.

On the other hand, if it wasn’t a skunk, then whatever she was about to chow down on would undoubtedly leave such a mess on her face, paws, and elsewhere that it would look like I’d stumbled into Zombieland. And, she’d be bringing that shit back into the house.

I don’t want these kinds of conundrums at 2:00 AM.

I briefly considered waking hubby, but in the time it  would take  him to get up and get outside one of these scenarios would be over and then I’d have a stinky/messy dog and a pissy spouse.

I sighed and decided I at least had to see what it was Diva was now standing a few feet in front of me, proudly showing off, still clenched lightly in her jaw.

Grumbling, I slowly inched over to her and quietly gave her the command to “drop it”. Now, that command works like a charm when it’s a ball, toy, my glasses, shoes, etc. I didn’t expect it to work when what I said was “drop it” and what she undoubtedly heard was “no, you cannot have your tasty morsel, and in fact, I want it so let go”.

But, she did as I asked.  And that’s when I saw the fluffy bunny tail.

I have never, in my whole life, been so happy to see the cottony puff of a little bunny’s tail.

The bunny lay there in the grass on its side and not moving.  Diva looked at me, crestfallen, then down at her prize.

I made her come to me, but she did so reluctantly, not once taking her eyes off “her” bunny.

We went inside, and I hoped Thumper was just stunned  and wouldn’t be lying there dead at sunrise (thankfully, he was gone).  Being a dog, Diva promptly forgot all about her late-night-almost-snack, and curled up to go back to sleep.

Then, This Happened….

I’m working on a long, whiny, right-now-incomprehensible, post on my stepfather’s recent illness and death, and my mother’s insanity.

But, while I’m doing that I just wanted to take a moment and mention something awesome that happened at Pensacola Beach last week.

I was standing in barely-ankle deep water when one of these came swimming up to me…

shark

………only it was much smaller..I’d say 2-3 ft..a juvenile lemon shark.

Swimming in front of the shark, at a much faster and more frantic pace, was a smaller fish so I knew right away that the shark wasn’t interested in my toes.

At least I hoped he wasn’t.

I watched him swim right towards me, then move off to my left at the last second, missing his target as my wiggling toes distracted him.

Hubby came over by me and Bruce (that’s his name, now and really I think it’s fitting we’re on a first-name basis as he and I are practically BFFs even if I did interrupt his lunch) again swam towards me, this time he wasn’t chasing anything and as he broke off at the last moment we made eye contact.

It was weird, scary, fascinating, and I loved it.  Later, I realized that if he’d bitten me not only would Bruce be off the Christmas card list forever, but it would’ve hurt.  A. Lot.

But, he didn’t and we shared a moment and now I’m pretty much an expert on juvenile lemon sharks so ask me anything.

Just don’t ask me to go swimming at night off Pensacola Beach.  I think Bruce may hold a grudge.

I Need Bats

Every mosquito in the state of Texas has bitten me, at one time or another.  I’m certain of it.

Every. Single. One.

Bastards.

I cannot go outside, for even one second, during mosquito season (Jan-Dec here in these parts) without getting eaten up.

So, I have a Ritual of Preparation for doing things like taking the dog out or, you know, getting the paper.

The night/day before I eat garlic.  I don’t know why, but I think someone, somewhere one time (at band camp, probably) told me it was good for keeping mosquitos away.

Or was that vampires?

I get those two confused.  I mean, after all, they’re both blood-sucking fiends and never sparkle in the sunlight.  It’s an easy thing to mix up.

After I’m garlic-infused I then cover myself with this wonderful product called “Bite Free”.  It’s a citronella cream that smells like..well, citronella…going on and then in about 15 minutes’ time the scent goes away.  Every part of my body, not covered by clothing, gets the cream.

I’m not done yet.

THEN I spray “Deep Woods OFF” on my clothes, shoes, and as a second layer of protection I spritz some on the exposed skin.

THEN I clip on one of those battery-operated “OFF” thingys…can’t remember what they are called…that’s supposed to create a “mosquito-free zone” around me and anyone within a five foot radius.

After all this, I’m ready to go outside and be….alone.  NO ONE wants to get too close when you’re doused in “OFF”.  I don’t care what scent they add, or want to call it, you still smell like you bathed with a badger in kerosene.

So I sit a little ways removed and enjoy the outdoors…until I start to itch.

There, and there, and there..and dammit…there again!

Going inside I invariably find a cluster of mosquito bites, usually about the size of a quarter, on the ONE SPOT on my body I may, or may not, have missed in the creaming/spraying/zoning ritual.

I currently have just such a spot on the bottom of my left foot.

The bottom. Of. My. Foot.

I have no idea how that happened since I wear shoes outside…and if I wear sandals, the bottoms of my feet get the Ritual.

The only time I’ve not been bothered by mosquitos was when we visited Bull Shoals Lake in northern Arkansas.

When I first noticed, I asked if we could buy the lake and just live there forever.

Hubby thought that might be extreme, but clearly he doesn’t have to deal with what I deal with.

Then I asked a local where all the mosquitos were.

He told me it was because they have bats, lots and lots of bats, living around the lake.

Bats eat mosquitos.

Bats are my new favorite animal ever.

They gave us Batman (hubba, hubba) and dammit they are cute.

I told hubby we needed to get bats and turn them loose in the yard.  He says that won’t work because there are no caves in our backyard.

I told him I thought the bat cave was a made-up thing from television, but he insists it’s not and bats need caves to roost and since I can’t just make a bat cave (because I’m not a millionaire) I’ll have to give up on my dream of a mosquito-free life.

He sure knows how to crush a girl’s dreams.

The Door is Squeaking

On Friday the weather here was…perfection…awesomesauce…amazing.

It was low-70’s, low humidity, light breezes and beautiful sunshine.

It was like someone ordered the perfect day from Amazon, and chose same-day delivery.

That Amazon can bring it.

Naturally, I had all the windows in the house open.  It smelled wonderful.

Hubby was relaxing, I was puttering about the house – I’m such a domestic, I actually like cleaning and laundry and stuff…I know, I’m weird.

“What’s that noise?” I heard hubby ask.

Above the din of birds (I swear there’s an Audubon ad somewhere that says, “Go to the Awesomesauciness House” and every bird within a hundred miles has read it.) and the gurgle of the fountain I couldn’t hear anything I didn’t recognize.

“What noise?” I asked.

There was a silence, and I walked into the den.  Hubby sat with head slightly cocked, listening.

‘SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAKK…AKK…AKK’

“THAT noise”, he said.

“That noise?” I asked, “that’s a bird.”

“Is it?”

“I think so.”

“I think it’s a squeaky door.”

And that’s why we spent the next few minutes test-open/closing the doors in the house, only to find out it was….a bird.

Welp, My Christmas List is Complete

Pure, awesomesauce and artistic genius, all rolled into one.

I want one of each, kthxbai!