Thursday, 26 May 2011

An Epiphany in the Mall Parking Lot

G has football on Thursdays.  I am not sure where you live, but we have been the victim of many rainy Thursdays this season.  So much so, that today's e-mail indicated that football has been moved indoors, to the gym of a defunct high school.  At first I was inconvenienced because the school is a bit out of my way, but then I figured I would drop him off and do a few errands in the neighborhood and then pick him up.

Found the school, dropped him off, parked.

Opened my wallet to find not only do I still have my receipt from the dry cleaners but lo and behold, the cleaning is to be picked up today after 4pm. And here we are, today, after 4pm.  And here I am, parked, in the lot next to the dry cleaner.  Chills go shooting down my spine.

I stride to the cleaners with all the confidence of someone who actually has her claim ticket.

"Hello." says very nice young dry cleaner guy.

"Hi." I say, putting my paperwork on the counter, expecting a standing ovation.

He takes my tickets and walks over to the rack of clothes.   Looks a bit puzzled.

Comes back, checks the tickets.

Returns to the rack of clothes and presses the button to bring some new garments into view.  "Hmmm."

Scratches his head.

Wait a second.  This isn't supposed to happen to people who are in the right place at the right time.  People like me, receipt bearers.

He returns victoriously clutching one measly suit (not that your suit is measly, honey, I'm trying to make a point here).  He puts it on the counter, and looks at the receipt. "Hang on", he says, "didn't you have five suits?"


"And, looks like you had a few dresses too.  And a coupla shirts."

"Yes, I do."

"They'll be ready tomorrow."

"Doesn't the ticket say Thursday?"


"So, aren't they supposed to be ready today? After 4pm?"

"Yeah," he says.  "The thing is, my father put them in the pile of stuff due tomorrow, so like, they'll be ready tomorrow.  Sorry 'bout that."  Smiles nicely.  "I'll talk to my father."

"Ugh." I tell him. "I was so excited.  I was feeling so efficient."

He smiles understandingly, as if he too, had a kid whose football had been rained out three weeks running and he too had to drive him to a defunct high school and pick him up an hour later, and he was also just trying to get to the Post Office before it closes.

He was so nice.

I smiled back.  "That's okay," I told him reassuringly, "I'm not in a rush.  I'll be back in this neighborhood next week and can pick up my clothes then."

Exhaled.  Letting go.  Feels great.

I could have told him I was inconvenienced.  I could have said this was their mistake and what were they going to do for me.  I could have asked for a discount, a raincheck, a coupon.

I'm sure Superman and Spidey feel the same way - sometimes the pursuit of justice is exhausting.

And sometimes, people just make honest mistakes, like putting the Thursdays' suits in the Friday pile.  Sometimes people show up to pick up their clothes on the wrong day, or bring the wrong receipt to the wrong dry cleaner.

Apparently, sometimes people completely misplace their dry cleaning receipts and expect the nice young dry cleaner guy to search high and low with only a vague description of "I'm pretty sure they were black pants".  

Sheesh.  Some people.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Judgement Day is coming, get your blueberries ready

I was just cleaning the kitchen (maid's day off) and I came across a ziploc with one blueberry in it.

The ziploc had a sharpie'd message:  "THIS BLUEBERRY SURVIVED 21/5/2011".

(I'd show you a picture, but every time I put a photo or a video on this blog, it throws everyone off).

I immediately realized that this is the work of B, the 12 year old that you may remember from such films as I Just Jailbroke My iPad.

B is afraid because neighborhood kid N who practically lives at my house and is considered part of the family has a teacher who told the students to stay inside all weekend because judgement day is coming and people will be running around with guns.

Why he thinks a single blueberry in a plastic baggie will survive the end of the world is beyond me.  Yes, I splurged and bought name brand ziplocs (no dollar store snack bags for this princess) but let's face it, blueberries are not the toughest fruit out there, and plastic is just not the most flameproof material.

Explaining to B why the blueberry is probably not the best choice for apocalypse survival would be to suspend disbelief long enough to agree that there is an apocalypse, that is likely to happen on schedule, and that it will be sufficiently fiery to destroy anything in its path.

I am also wondering why he thought the blueberry was the most important thing in the house to save.  What about our photographs? Passports? Coin collection? OK, we don't have a coin collection, but if we did?

The choice of B's message is a bit mysterious, even to me, but one thing is clear - he was genuinely worried about the world coming to an end, and wanted to send some kind of a message to all those who come next.  And, yes, we can laugh and joke about how this guy tricked a bunch of people into giving him a cool $18 mil to get saved before the rapture, but you know what - he genuinely frightened a lot of people.  B may have been the only one to put a blueberry forth for posterity, but I don't think he's the only one who got really scared.

I resent this guy for scaring people, for taking their money, and now for selling I survived Judgement Day t-shirts.

Apparently said genius has gone into hiding.  I don't blame him.  I have a blueberry and I'm not afraid to use it.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Catching More Flies

Early morning at the airport.  Super long line.  Ticket agent is having a fight with the printer.  Luggage tag issue.

"The baby is outside with my husband.  I figured I'd just come in, drop off my bags, and then when they come in, we won't have to wait in line." says a 23ish, orange hand-knit beret wearing woman in the queue next to me.

Grandmotherly ticket agent patiently explains that she can not check in a human being, even a small one, without actually seeing them.

Beret woman adjusts her gold wire rimmed glasses and says: "I am travelling all the way to LA by myself with a baby.  It's REALLY hard to be with a child on the plane, so I want her to be calm, you know, before we board.  That's why he took her outside."

Luggage tag printer jammed.  I am thrilled.  Now I can stick around to hear the end of this.

Ticket agent sends her outside to get the baby, very nicely offering to wait for her before seeing the next person in line.

She wheels her stroller up to the counter: "Usually, I just use the Executive Class line, and you know, the are so much nicer to me there."

"Ma'am, the Executive Class agents are for Executive, Business and First Class travellers only."

"It's amazing that you are being so difficult about this.  I am travelling to LA today, with a baby.", she says condescendingly, straightening out the singing frog dangling from the stroller bar.

Luggage tag printer has now run out of tape.  Ticket agent searching for a replacement roll. 

Neighboring ticket agent's voice is rising.  "I'm sorry Ma'am, I can't give you a Priority Luggage tag.  Priority Luggage tags are used for high priority travellers only." 

"But I am travelling by myself with a baby and it will be impossible  for me to wait for my bags.  I fly back and forth to LA all the time I have never had anyone be this difficult with me.", says Orange Beret.

She wheels away indignantly.

Our ticket agent has now made her peace with our printer.  Perfect timing.

Oh wait - there's more -
Behind me, I hear someone smooth down her denim skirt and whisper to the Supervisor.  I look over and sure enough it's Orange Beret. Supervisor is loudly declaring "I'm sorry Ma'am, High Priority Luggage tags are for High Priority travellers only."

Ticket agent calls to Supervisor: "I already said No to her", and then under her breath "I didn't like her attitude."

I smile at ticket agent: "You mean you could have checked in her baby? You could have given her a High Priority luggage tag?"

Ticket Agent: "Of course.  I just didn't like the way she spoke to me.  She acted like she was entitled to get all this special treatment.  Had she just asked me, we could have worked something out."

"So you are saying that if people complain effectively, they are more likely to get what they want?"

"Yeah.  We can do a lot to help our passengers.  They just have to ask us properly."

Hah. Told you so.

My life's work has meaning.

This trip is off to a great start.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Lessons Learned from Greek Salad

Lesson 1: Everyone is the boss of their own salad

We were sitting at lunch at a Greek restaurant when Friend A announced that we all be sharing the Greek Salad. Friend B said, "You two go ahead, but I'm going to have the chicken. I don't like Greek Salad."

Friend A: "How could you not like Greek Salad? It's delicious. What could you possibly not like about it?"

B: "I don't like the Greek and I don't like the Salad."

A: "I can't believe this. We've been eating lunch together for years, and I never knew you don't like salad. How could you not like Greek Salad? It's got cucumbers, tomatoes, oregano?"

B: "I don't like feta cheese, I don't like cucumbers, I have texture issues with tomatoes and oregano is my least favorite herb."

A (comprimisingly): "Well how about if we order it, and you can just pick out what you want?"

B (rolling her eyes): "That will leave me with a few black olives for lunch. Yum."

By the time you are old enough to have lunch in a restaurant with your friends, you are old enough to know whether or not you like Greek Salad. No one has the right to tell you where to sit, what to drink, what to order, and what to put on your salad. Friend B could have gone along with the food sharing plan to avoid a scene, but she would have been doing herself a disservice. It is your right to order something else even if everyone else is sharing a Greek Salad.

Lesson 2: It's OK if things are not perfect for Your children

We took the kids for a weeknight dinner out. B immediately decided he HAD to have the 16oz steak, mashed and Caesar off the adults' menu. T pulled out her rosary and said a few Hail Marys because we were letting her have deep fried chicken fingers, fries and ketchup. And G, well, G ordered the Greek Salad.

A few bites into it, he looked up at me and said "Mom, there are two things I don't like in this salad. Feta cheese and olives with hard stuff in the middle."

(What is with people and Greek Salad ingredients this week?)

"Mmmmm," I say non-committally.

He continued to eat his way through the salad, picking out the cheese and the olives and putting them on the side of his plate. He may or may not have stolen a few fries off the chicken finger plate but I ain't no narc.

And you know what happened in the end? Nothing. He totally survived. We didn't offer him the chance to order something else. We didn't pick the olives out for him. We didn't tell him he had to finish or no dessert. We all just sat and ate our dinner, colored on the paper placemats, had our coffees and went home.

Lesson 3: Sometimes the best part of a conversation is the last two minutes

My father in law was out for dinner with us. Nothing goes down with an Old Fashioned Smoked Meat Sandwich like half eaten Greek Salad, so we offered him the remainder of G's plate. He had a few bites, we chatted.

Husband and B left for the gym. Father in law picked at the salad, we chatted some more.

The other two kids were playing Houdini with my work ID lanyard. Even Father in law at this point has had enough cheese, and is picking feta out of the salad, but still enjoying the cukes, tomatoes, olives.

Finally, as he took the last few bites of salad and pushed the plate away, conversation came around to the cruise he was just on.

Apparently, they had great activities after dinner.

And one of the activities was a Sexy Legs contest. Which all table mates on the cruise insisted my Father in Law enter. And which he grudgingly agreed to do, if only to oblige his friends. And yes, which he won. My father in law. Sexy Legs. On a Cruise.

And I would have heard nothing about it if it weren't for the Greek Salad.

It's amazing the lessons the universe wants to teach us if we just open our eyes.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Pavlov Would Be Proud

I look over at the caller ID. Kids' summer camp. Glance at my purse. Yup, cheque still in there. Envelope didn't mail itself.

I answer the phone cringing.

"Do you have a minute?" Camp Director asks. Quick sigh of relief: he's not calling about the money, followed by a sharp intake of breath: something else might be wrong.

Turns out a family called to complain about one of my kids. The middle one, G. I can't help but gasp - "Are you sure it was G? My boys really look alike."

Camp doesn't want to give me any of the details. Wants me to speak to G and ask him if anything happened with him and anyone else in camp, gently steer the conversation over to a canoe trip and see what I can come up with.

I call my husband from the car crying hysterically admitting that I have almost no information other than a vague hunch that something is really wrong calmly tell him the story. Husband says "G? Are you sure it was him? A lot of people mix them up."

I race home in time to take G to swim team. He opens the car door and I, gently as instructed, steer the conversation as casually as possible: "Do you have your goggles? Did anything happen at camp this summer when you were on the canoe trip?"

"I took my sister's goggles. We didn't go on a canoe trip."

Off to a great start.

"Did you go on a camping trip?"

"Oh, a camping trip. Yeah."

"Did anything happen?"

"Like what?"

I don't have this kind of time. Throwing all illusion of an enigma to the wind, I say: "G, someone called camp complaining about you. Apparently something happened on the canoe I mean camping trip that didn't go very well. Did you have any problems with anyone at camp?"

"Are you sure they meant me and not my brother?"

(Finally, we are getting somewhere.)

"They definitely meant you."

"OH well there was one guy."

"Uh-huh?" Like sand through the hourglass.

"And he spit on the floor all the time and I thought it was really gross. He spit on the FLOOR, Mom. The floor of our BUNK. On the CANOE TRIP he SPIT on the FLOOR of our TENT. Where we SLEPT. He spit EVERYWHERE. I tried to talk to him but finally I had no choice. I had to do SOMETHING. I had to take MATTERS into my own HANDS"

Nervous. The G honeymoon may be over. "So what did you do?"

"I put him on a chart."

"A chart? Is that a camp thing?"

"No, Mom. A CHART. Like for behavior. Every day that he didn't spit I gave him a star. And then at the end of the week, if he had all stars, I promised him an Aero bar from the tuck shop. And you know what Mom, the plan totally worked. He stopped spitting that day. His chart FILLED up with STARS. He must've really wanted that chocolate bar."

Now, if only I can get the envelope to mail itself...