Thursday, December 21, 2006

This And That

It was an interesting day yesterday.

My colleague and I went for lunch at a fast food restaurant. We are wearing our stick on badges that say “visitor” along with our names, our company names, and the person’s name that authorized us to be in the building. We get them printed every morning and have to wear them through out the day. If you take them off at lunch, they will not restick, so we just wear them out to lunch.

We are at the counter ordering our lunch and one of the ladies behind the counter seemed to be fascinated by our badges. She kept staring at mine, and then at my colleague’s. Finally, she couldn’t take it anymore and had to ask.

She asked why we wore badges and if they were for the hospital. I looked her dead in the eye and told her that no, we were not with the hospital. We were in the Witness Protection Program and we were here visiting to see if this is the area we wanted to be our new home. She looked at me wide-eyed and just said wow!

My partner thought that was pretty funny and to be honest, I think he almost peed his pants over that. This poor woman probably went home and told her family that she just met two people in the Witness Protection Program!

Ok, that got me through the afternoon.

Then last night, I went for dinner. I was at a steak place, Uno Chicago Grill. What goes good with steak? A nice cold beer! I ordered a beer with dinner and this guy actually carded me. ME. I am WELL over the age of 21. And I thought I was a good liar.

Oh well. Anyone that can shovel crap as well as he did deserved that huge tip I left him.

It definitely was an interesting day.

Now I want to add an addendum to yesterday’s post about compliments and complaints.

I believe in tips also. When I go into a restaurant, I go in with the idea that I’m tipping 20% for the meal. The tip will go up or down from there, depending on the service for the meal. I’ve been known to tip more than the meal was worth, and I’ve also been known to leave a dime. But usually, I’m good for at least 20%. Hence, why the guy last night got a whopping tip for lying to me about my age!

Another place I always tip is at the hotel. To be honest, I always tip, and again, it goes up and down depending on how the room is when I get back. Sometimes I leave a tip for the housekeeper every morning, sometimes at the end of the stay and sometimes here and there throughout the stay. It really depends on what kind of cash I have on me at the time.

I know I didn’t leave a tip Tuesday morning, nor did I leave one Wednesday morning, just because all I had was a $20. So, this morning when I left, I now had smaller money in my wallet. I left a nice tip for her, as she really does an excellent job here every day.

Here was a first for me – when I got back to my room tonight, she left me a thank you note! WOW! I didn’t think the tip was THAT good, but she felt that she wanted to thank me. Now that left me speechless.

You can bet on my way out of here in the morning, I will ask to speak to the manager when I check out and let him know that Sandra has done a fabulous job with my room every day. And, she made my day. That ain’t always easy to do.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I Do Love To Complain

Some people have even said it is part of my DNA, to complain. They may be right. Then again, I’m just as quick to compliment, so hopefully in the cosmic scheme of things, it evens out.

I just believe that service should mean just that. Service. I have e-mailed a manager to compliment the greeter at Sam’s Club, who is a little retired lady that always hugs me and Ron when we walk in. She is just too cute and has a smile for everyone. A genuine smile. I’ve written a complimentary comment card on a lady who used to work at the deli counter at Giant Eagle for graciously putting up with me and helping me with my choices when I didn’t know what the heck I wanted. And, I’ve personally called the manager at a restaurant to tell them how impressed I was with one of their waiters who had waited on us the night before. I had been so impressed with not only his professionalism but also his quick wit and personality in dealing with us all night. This list could go on and on.

Those are my favorite calls. Sometimes, the unheralded masses among us go about doing their jobs day in and day out with little reward or praise. A call or an e-mail to a manager most times makes it back to the employee. At least then they know that someone appreciates their talent for service.

On the other hand, I’m also quick to jab when I feel something is terribly amiss. This list also is too long to mention them all. Like I said in the beginning, I do love to complain.

When I was home last weekend, I picked up the last gift I needed to get for Christmas. It was a gift card to a restaurant. I don’t want to mention which restaurant, just because the receiver hasn’t received the present yet, and if I mention what restaurant, it may spoil the surprise!

Anyway, Ron and I stopped into the restaurant on Friday night well after any dinner rush hour. I said I wanted a gift certificate. The gentleman behind the counter basically told me to just go away as he couldn’t help me. They just got new gift cards and he didn’t have any idea how to work them. Of course, I asked for a manager, who perhaps would know more than he does. Then he dropped the bomb that indeed, he was the manager. I made a comment I shouldn’t have about the quality of people they are hiring that would tell a customer to just leave since they don’t know how to do their job. He said oh well, and basically don’t let the door hit me in the ass on the way out.

In case any body missed it, I was also born with a temper. I’m pissed. I am in no mood to go traipsing through town looking for another branch of this restaurant, nor am I in a mood to come up with a back up plan on a gift, so I basically said to Ron to just take me home.

Saturday coming home from the Christmas party, I decided to be brave and try again. We did find another branch of this restaurant and went in for the gift card. This time, a young lady was the victim, I mean employee, that I had to deal with.

When I told her that I wanted a gift card, this time I got an explanation. She said that corporate had just changed the way they did gift cards, and that no one had been trained on the new procedure yet. Oh, great. But, she added that if I could hang in there, she’d give it a shot and try to figure it out. Hello? Is this service I see? She wasn’t even a manager, just an employee. I told her about the manager at the other location, so if she was willing to give it a try, she could take her time and I would wait patiently.

She tried a bunch of things but so far nothing. Then she actually picked up a phone and called someone (I think another employee based on the way she was talking) and that person actually talked her through the process. The gift card was purchased, and I thanked her profusely for digging in and getting it done.

When I got home, I went to the restaurant’s website and found the magical button that says “contact us” and away I went.

I explained how one manager told me to “go away” and one employee said “I don’t know but I’ll try to figure it out”. Even if I never heard another word about it, sometimes just the writing of the e-mail can make me feel better about it.

I just received a phone call from the Regional Manager of the chain. He thanked me for writing and said that the “go away” manager will be given a talking to. I’m jiggy with that. I reminded him that the second part of the e-mail stated that he had also had an employee with a get it done attitude and she should be commended. He assured me that he would also be talking to her.

Two hits with one e-mail – awesome!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Make It Work

You know, a blank sheet of paper can be a terrifying sight. I’m looking at one now, so I should know.

Some blogs just write themselves. Others, I have to work out in my head awhile because all I have going is a few catch phrases to work with. Other times, I have a lot of ideas, but none of them fit to print. And, other days I have nothing to write about but just feel like writing. Who knew that it could be this tough? I really don’t think I have anything to say, so I’m just going to start rambling about nothing.

Let’s talk about yesterday. I checked into my hotel after work, all set for an evening of watching the finale of Survivor that was originally broadcast on Sunday night on Innertube. I don’t know that I can explain Innertube for the one or two people that might not know about it. All I know is that I can watch the full episodes of Survivor that I’ve missed, and see them with very, very few commercials. Instead of 20 minutes worth of commercials in an hour time slot, I see maybe two minutes worth. That isn’t bad.

Anyway, I had planned last night to order a pizza and sit back and catch up on the finale that I missed. So far, so good. Pizza was the best pizza around, a Donato’s pepperoni pizza on a thin crust and to wash it down, a glass of cool refreshing diet Pepsi. It can’t get much better than this.

Then it happened. I lost the internet connection. AARGH. My room happens to have a router right in there, so I did what I know how to do best. First I made sure the lights on the router were lit, then I called the front desk. That’s the extent of my expertise. I was hoping that the front desk would say that the internet mysteriously went down for a bit, but that they were working on it and would get back to me. No such luck. She ended up calling tech support and patching me through to them. Bad idea. I talked to David in tech support, who probably by the end of the conversation, wished he’d called in sick last night.

Some people know what they are doing on a computer. I’m not one of them. Poor David found that out in a hurry.

David: What kind of a lap top do you have?
Me: The kind you use for work.
David: Well, that’s good, but what KIND is it?
Me: Black?

That gives you a little hint as to how this conversation was going.

After making me do things I didn’t want to do (for the record, I should never be allowed to click any option that says “advanced”), in his infinite wisdom my wireless card either shut itself off for some reason or it broke completely.

After all that, he eventually told me that he could not help me any more, that I’d have to contact my own IT department. Unfortunately, that was not something I could do at 7:30 pm on a Monday night. Ron offered to talk me through what he could, but by this time I was too frazzled to listen. I needed an easier option.

The front desk ended up calling me to see if tech support was able to get me up and running. After some quick thinking, I said to her, hey look, I have a ton of work to do here and I need to get back on line. What are my options? She didn’t need to know I was having a Survivor-attack!

One option was an external wireless card. I’ve had to use those before and sometimes I get them to work, and sometimes I don’t. With the way things were going, I was betting this wasn’t going to be a successful alternative.

My other option was to change rooms, to one that is hard wired for the internet. Since one was available, I chose this option. Only bad part was that I had to repack by suitcase, grab the left over pizza as well as the rest of my soda from the refrigerator and get a move on. The front desk was nice enough to bring my new key along with a rolling luggage cart to me so I packed my laptop, my suitcase and my pizza and I was off, moving up to the next higher floor.

After hanging my clothes up once again, I was back in search of Survivor. I was able to finish the show with relative ease. That’s a lot of self-created angst just to watch a stupid show. Especially when my personal favorite survivor is not the one that walked away with the $1 million prize.

After all that drama, the rest of my evening was spent harmlessly watching Miami Ink. Look out . . . THIS show may be the cause of a blog with pictures one of these days . . .

Update: I got to the hotel tonight and now the wireless is working perfectly. Go figure!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Party, Part 1

We celebrated Christmas with Ron’s family this past Saturday. What a great time it turned out to be!

One thing I really like about their Christmas gathering is that every year it’s different. I know, that is a far cry from my own past. Every year, we would have the same food, the same people, sitting in the same place. As much as I love bubulki, when you are forced to leave the old traditions behind, sometimes even seeing a hint of what used to be can be painful. That’s what makes his family’s parties so awesome. There is no such thing as tradition!

Every year, someone else will host the Christmas party. Who ever hosts, decides on a theme for that year. The year we hosted, we chose comfort food as our theme. So, our Christmas dinner was all that food that gives you warm fuzzies. We had meatloaf, cabbage and noodles, spaghetti and meatballs, just to name a few. An eclectic mix, but I thought it was awesome.

This year was a western theme. The hosts, Ron’s cousin Sara Beth and her husband Raoul, provided the brisket and the smoked turkey. C’mon, with a start like this, how can the meal not be fantastic? In previous years, we’ve had Christmas around the world, where everyone chose a food from different countries (of course, I chose Czechoslovakia and made halupki!), and last year was an old fashioned Christmas theme.

Regardless of the theme, when families that love each other come together for good food and good cheer, then all is right with the world.

As with my family, the little ones of the family seem to have shot up like weeds in the few months since we’ve seen everyone. I think they all made out with great hauls from the family Santas.

One of the best stories from Saturday was with Ron and his great-niece McKenna. She is 20 months old, and just as cute as cute can be with her huge eyes and ringlet curls. She got a pop up book for Christmas that also had buttons on the side that when pushed would play a corresponding tune to go with the page you were on.

After she opened her book, she brought it to Uncle Ron to read it to her. She climbed up on his lap, put a thumb in her mouth, her head back against Ron’s shoulder and she was ready. He read to her, and showed her how to press the buttons to make the little songs play. Then, he sang softly to her along with the one song. That was it. She was hooked! As soon as the song finished, she pressed the button for one more time. That happened quite a few more times before she’d let Ron off the hook from singing. It was so cute to see the two of them snuggled up like that.

It was a great day. I ate too much, laughed a lot, and got to get hugs from everyone. The best part of all that is we get to do it all over again this Saturday when we join my family at Mike and Jenny’s for another Christmas feast!

I’ll make a prediction: The kids will have grown since I’ve seen them last, they’ll haul in some great Christmas booty, I’ll eat too much, laugh a lot and get a lot of hugs. I could get used to these kinds of Saturdays.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bonus Prize

After work hours around here, about every week or so, an outside company comes in to water all of the plants. That’s really quite a job around here since there are a ton of plans suspended from the ceiling plus planted on top of cubicle walls.

They roll around a 55 gallon drum like contraption that is full of water and fill their watering cans from that. I was talking to the plant lady last night while she was watering and I was packing up my stuff for the night. They really do a great job with the upkeep as the plants are all gorgeous.

After a brief chat, she went her way and I continued packing up. When I made my way towards the front door, I saw the same lady picking up the huge poinsettia plants from the lobby and packing them up on a cart. Jokingly I said to her “aha! That’s how you keep them all looking so great! You just keep bringing fresh ones in!”

Wrong I was. She was packing them up as requested because this company decided they didn’t want them in the lobby. So the plant lady asked me if I wanted one. What the heck, free is my favorite price so I said sure! She handed me a gorgeous red poinsettia plant which I carried right out the door to my car. Bonus.

Right now, my bonus prize is sitting on the coffee table in my hotel room. Here’s hoping that I remember to put it in my car tomorrow or else the cleaning lady will be going home with my poinsettia.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Who Made Up That Rule?

My license plate for my car expires on my birthday in January. In Ohio, if the year of your actual birth falls in an odd year, then on odd year renewals you must get an emissions test before you can renew your plate. Same if you were born in an even year, then even year renewals you must get this test.

If I get my test done today, it is in the state’s system by tomorrow, and I can go ahead and renew my plate online and receive the appropriate sticker in the mail in about a week. That’s when all works according to plan.

With traveling, this is one thing I have kinda let slip by. Being gone Monday through Friday makes it tough sometimes to get things done. Well, silly me, I figured I’m still in the state of Ohio, so I’ll just find a local emissions testing facility down here and have it done here.

Yesterday, I left work a little early to go have this done. Since I only know how to get to the job site and from there to the hotel and back, I had to ask the receptionist here for directions to the closest emissions testing facility. She looked at me as if I’d asked her how to find Martians.

I went through the spiel of testing done before license plate renewals. She looked like she had a spark of recognition and directed me to a place that sounded like it was only 6 or 7 blocks away. Not only didn’t I find an emissions testing facility, I couldn’t find my way back to the main road that would take me to the freeway to the hotel! I was screwed.

I wasted a lot of gas in neighborhoods I shouldn’t have been in by myself after dark when finally I spotted a familiar site. I finally knew where I was. Then my phone rang; my boss was calling.

I pulled over into a parking lot to talk to him. He asked me what was happening, if anything was going on over where I was. I told him the whole story of leaving early, trying to find the testing place and having just gotten myself un-lost. He did laugh a little, and then informed me that the emission testing is only done in the Cleveland area. NOT in the Columbus area or anywhere else in this state. What?? That’s a stupid rule. Why should only one small area of the entire state have to subject themselves to this testing? As far as the receptionist was concerned, I was asking for Martians. No wonder she gave me such a look. And, in case anyone was wondering, she gave me directions to the license renewal office. That’s why I didn’t find it, since that is not what I was looking for.

The funny thing is this morning when I went in, the first thing the receptionist asked me was if I found the place I was looking for. So, I had to tell her the story of getting lost, of talking to my boss only to find out there is no such creature in the Columbus area. Ok, we both got a good laugh out of it. But it’s still a stupid rule.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

You Want Me To Do What?

I am a decent driver. I still don’t like to drive, but I’m decent at it. I can back up my car, and I can even parallel park when I have to. I do a good three point turn in my drive way so that I can drive out facing the street. Last night, I was even able to drive up on a curb to avoid the guy that went into oncoming traffic (that would be into my lane) because obviously he was tired of waiting in a long line of cars. See? I’m decent at driving.

However, there are certain things that I will not do.

I used to take my car to one of those oil change places where there is a crew in a pit in the basement of the business. You drive your car over a hole in the floor, and the crew below is able to drain your oil without putting the car up on a lift. I refused to drive it in over that pit. I would get out of my car, and trust one of the kids at the facility to drive my car over the hole. Hey, if my car is going down, I’m not going down with it.

Some BP gas stations have a good car wash. The one by my house that I go to, you get your code when you pay for the car wash, drive up to the door, enter the code and the bay door opens. You drive in until a red light in front of you says stop. From there, put your car in park, let the machine do its thing and when the red light turns green, I drive out the other end with a cleaner car than I drove in with. It’s not perfect but it’s better than doing it by hand. It’s so simple even I can do it.

Due to the weather at home last weekend, my car has been filthy with the salt from the road. Every time I get in or out of the car wearing dark pants, I get that salt residue on the back of my pants. One of the things that I wanted to do over the weekend was to get my car washed. Unfortunately, that cycle of nap/watch TV/nap/watch TV took over my body on Sunday and I accomplished nothing. So, I drove down here in a filthy car, continuing to get my pants dirty every time I get in and out of the car.

There is a BP station right down the street from where I am working. I figured that after work, I’d gas up and get a car wash on the way to the hotel. That sounds easy, right? At first it was. I gassed up, chose the car wash I wanted right from the pump, received my access code and drove over to the gate. I punched in my code and then that’s when I saw it. There in front of me to the left was a track that is supposed to grab your wheel and pull you through the damn car wash. Who of you that can read this really believes that “I” can do this?

They have a nice round mirror outside pointed at the entrance to the track that your tire is to drive into. Unfortunately, my side view mirror is pretty much obstructing the entire mirror. I tried as hard as I could, but with it being dark outside and the placement of my mirror, I couldn’t see a damn thing.

When the left front side of my car actually started to go up into the air, I figured I just missed that channel and was driving up onto the edge of it. Ok, I can fix that. I backed up until I was level, moved what I thought was just a little bit over to the left, and then I heard the SCCCRRRAAAAAPPPPPPEEEEEE. Hmm. That can’t be good. In hindsight this morning, I should have gotten out of my car and looked for myself just where I was in relation to where I needed to be. Nah. That would be the easy way out. I jiggled the wheel until I could feel it inside of the track and that awful scraping sound quit. Then, I put the shift in neutral and was pulled through the carwash all the while wondering what the heck my wheel would look like when I got through to the other side.

At the end, you finally come to a red light that tells you not to move as you finish up with their version of a blow dryer. When the green light finally came on, I pulled up and out of the way of the doors and machinery and got out to look at my wheel. Again, it was dark outside, so I really couldn’t see any problems. I had a tire and a hubcap. It looked good to me.

In the light of day this morning, I do see that the hubcap is bent a little, with a nice scrape around about half of it. At least I had the good sense God gave a slug to stop as soon as I could when I heard the scrape and not let the car go all the way through that way.

C’mon BP! Let’s try a bigger mirror! Or maybe a little light there so I could see better. Or please at least have some kid directing me from outside “a little to the left, a little to the right”. Don’t make me do this on my own! Oh well. That’s the last time I go to that BP station for a car wash. They really should warn people that morons should not use this equipment.

Monday, December 11, 2006

You’d Think It Was Christmas or Something

I think we had a really good weekend over at our house.

I actually got an extra day at home last week, so that helped. I came back to town Thursday night so that I could have a day in my local office to catch up on administrative duties. I needed that break.

Saturday started off slowly. Ron made us breakfast, and it was pretty much Pogo and DVR time. That’s always a good start to a Saturday. Saturday afternoon, Ron scored great boyfriend points in willingly going with me to finish my Christmas shopping. Even though our day was filled with necessary stops, we were able to fit in a few bonus stops as well.

The highlight of Saturday for me was that since we were over by Great Northern Mall shopping, we had lunch at one of my favorite places! Chipotles! I swear if it was closer to our house, I’d eat there four times a week at least. You can’t beat their chicken fajita burrito in my honest opinion. It’s all you need to sustain life, wrapped in a fresh flour tortilla. Mmm.

Between the awesome lunch and the new sneakers I bought myself at Payless Shoes it was a bearable day fighting the lunatics on the road by the mall.

After the shopping excursion, Ron and I hunkered down and got to the wrapping end of gift buying. We had a great system set up with Ron on one side of the table and me on the other side.

I measured and cut the wrapping paper for each present and then handed it over to Ron who worked his magic with it and made it all beautiful and wrapped. By the time we went to bed, we were exhausted. It was a long but very successful day.

Sunday was a total relaxation day to recover from Saturday’s shopping! Again, it started off with breakfast ala Ron. From there, I stretched out on the recliner and Ron took over the couch. The TV was tuned to the Comedy Channel. The entire day was spent napping for 15 minutes, watching whatever was on for 15 minutes. This repeated itself throughout the day; nap, watch TV, nap, watch TV, etc. For as much sleep as I got Sunday afternoon and evening, I can’t believe that I actually fell asleep last night and even stayed asleep most of the night! I must have needed that battery recharging.

So now, we are as ready for Christmas as we can be. This coming Saturday we will celebrate with Ron’s family. The following Saturday with be with my family. Then a few well deserved vacation days for me. Unless you want to hear about more napping and watching TV, don’t expect great blogs that week! Because that’s exactly how I am planning on spending my vacation. Only 11 more days to go.

Friday, December 08, 2006

On A Lighter Note

On a lighter note, Thursday morning when I was leaving the hotel, I almost picked me up a new boyfriend!

The hotel I was staying at has their lobby on the 7th floor of the building. The first six floors are the parking lot for the hotel. So, from the parking garage, you take the elevator up to the 7th floor, cross the lobby and take that bank of elevators up to the next ten floors where the rooms are.

As I was leaving the hotel for the day, I was waiting on my floor for the elevator to take me down to the lobby. The doors opened, and an elderly gentleman who was struggling on crutches started to walk out of the elevator. I know how it is when you’re daydreaming in an elevator. As soon as it stops, you assume you’re in the lobby and start to leave. I had a feeling that’s what happened with this gentleman. I asked him if he was looking for the lobby, because if he was, this wasn’t it. He laughed at his oversight and said indeed, he had been daydreaming and assumed this was his floor.

He backed up into the elevator and I stepped on as well. We chatted about the fact that both of us had done that same thing at one time or another in the past. Then, this gentleman said to me, “do you ever notice that people just don’t talk to each other in an elevator anymore?” I replied that of course I noticed that, but as you can tell, I’m not one of those people! So we chatted a bit more on the way to the lobby about the book I was carrying in my hand.

When we got to the lobby, I let him get out first and together, we made our way across the lobby to the next bank of elevators that would take us to the parking garage. He pushed the down button and said “are you ready sweetheart?” Silly me, I assumed he was still talking to me! So I said something like I was as ready as I was going to be. As I walked closer to the elevator, I finally saw his wife who was standing behind a pillar waiting for him! Ok, I had to laugh.

I told him that I was actually arrogant enough to believe that he was calling ME sweetheart! I have a feeling that this guy has spent his lifetime talking to ladies because he and his wife got a chuckle out of that. Then he said to me that his wife would always be his sweetheart, but if it was ok with me, I would be his honey. Hey, we can never have too many honeys in our lives, so I readily agreed to it.

The three of us ambled into the elevator where they got off of the elevator first. In unison, the both of them turned to look at me before the doors closed and they said “bye honey! Have a nice day!”

Dang it, that made my day. And, Ron better watch out! There is a 75 year old honey down here that has his eyes on me!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Parenting 101, AKA That’s Just Wrong Page 9

I think I have been blessed in knowing some great Moms in my life, starting with my own. Add to that fact, the young mothers in our family now, who I believe are both doing a fantastic job raising their families. When you see a great mom in action, it makes it that much harder to believe any other kind can exist.

Two instances have happened recently.

During the week, I am traveling for work. I eat many meals alone. When you are dining alone, it is not uncommon to be placed in a booth in a bar room, rather than take up an entire table in a dining room. I’m usually ok with that.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a BBQ place just around the corner from the job site. I was given a booth in the bar room. Bellying up to the bar were three young “ladies”, one of whom was holding a very small child. I am guessing a couple of months old at best. This young mom had left the diaper bag behind her at one of the empty booths. She jumped off of her bar stool long enough to go to the diaper bag for a bottle for the baby. I watched as she sat at the bar, feeding the baby a bottle while she sucked down a few margaritas.

As much of a fan of margaritas as I am (just look at the title of this blog!) I had trouble with this scene. I don’t know anything about having or raising children, so for all I know, a few margaritas is a necessity in getting through a day. Heaven knows I’ve felt that way even without having kids. I watched her in disbelief and hoped this behavior was just a fluke. .

Last night, I went to a steak place. Again, sitting in a booth in the bar room, I was astounded to see a young couple walk in with a baby in one of them carrying kind of car seats. Well, I wasn’t surprised to see them walk into a restaurant with the baby, but I was surprised at what they DID with the baby.

I was assuming they were going to one of the open booths in the area. I assumed wrong. They chose a couple of bar stools at the bar. Where did the baby go? The baby was placed on the floor in between them of course. After a minute, mom gets off of her bar stool, brings the baby carrier up and placed it on that bar stool. Aha! Mom just put the baby down a minute to get herself situated. That can’t be a bad thing. I am starting to feel better about it. I watch as mom loosens the baby’s snow suit, coos at her for a bit, then . . . . you guessed it . . . . she put baby and car seat back on the floor between the bar stools. Hello??? Mom and I am assuming Dad, then planted their butts on the bar stools and had a beer.

Which is the proper etiquette? Do you hold the baby in your arms at the bar and feed it while you drink? Or do you leave it on the floor, hopefully out of the way while you throw back a few brews? No, sorry. That’s just wrong.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Saturday night, we were invited to a surprise birthday party. We all know how much I love birthdays! And for this party, we were an important part of the whole surprise process. That’s just an added bonus for me.

The game plan was that we were going over to Larry and Linda’s for a quiet dinner and some games. The truth was that about 20 people or so was showing up to celebrate Larry’s birthday that was a few days before. Now, the issue became how to get him out of the house.

That was Ron’s job. He and I threw around a few ideas on Saturday morning of what would motivate Larry to spend the afternoon with Ron. That’s not usually a difficult thing to do, but it had to be believable from the get go and something Larry couldn’t back out of. Larry is all about coming over to help Ron with projects on the house, but I was afraid that a last minute “project” could be postponed by Larry for another weekend. No, it had to be something he couldn’t refuse. What could it be?

Harley shopping. Simple, but effective! The only problem with that was unbeknownst to the guys, the local Harley shop closed at 4:00 p.m. That left them with very little time to drool, I mean shop. Since we couldn’t let Larry go home until around 6:00 p.m., Ron had to try to kill two hours with him before they could come back all without making him suspicious. Somehow, he talked Larry into Christmas shopping. The bad part about that is that Ron beat me getting all of his shopping done. I should have given him my list too!

So, the two guys spent the afternoon Christmas shopping. Ron tried to stall as long as he could but guys can only shop for so long if there isn’t a Harley involved. At the end, Larry got home before everyone was able to get to his house, but that was ok. The look on his face every time someone else came to the party made the surprise part of this party last a lot longer.

It turned out to be a great party. No police were called; I guess that just means we are all getting older and quieter. No injuries, no police. And we still called it a party! Anytime that good friends and good food show up at the same place, it’s definitely a party.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What’s In A Dream

Who remembers making soup noodles with Mom? Well, last night, that’s exactly what I dreamed about doing.

As a kid, my job was always to keep cranking. Mom and/or Aunt Mary would do all of the working with the dough. They would take the small dough packages and put them through the noodle maker, each pass making dough into a longer and thinner strip. I cranked, and was allowed to adjust the machine to thin the dough with each pass through. Finally, when it was the right size, Mom would cut the long strips across into inch or inch and a half wide pieces. These pieces would be fed through one by one to cut the individual noodles. Again, I was tending the crank, but at this part, I would also be allowed to feed the pieces of dough into the machine, as long as I would put them in straight.

Funny what we remember as we get older. It must be a good 20 years or so since I’ve helped with this task. Even as I got older, my position in the noodle making process never changed. I cranked, adjusted the machine and got to cut the final pieces into noodles. And, of course, sprinkle the cut noodles onto a sheet that was placed on all of the beds to give the noodles a place to dry.

This process is not something I have ever done on my own. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve thought much about it in the last 20 years. But, last night in my dream, I was the noodle maker. Mom was there, telling me what to do. Unfortunately, what she was telling me did not end up being done as she told me. In my dream, I was the one trying to feed the dough into the machine to make the long thin strips. What came out was just about everything but. Mom couldn’t figure out how in the heck I was going to get noodles out of the mess I was making!

The sounds and the smells all came back in the dream. If I think about it hard enough right now, I can still smell the flour. Or taste what the raw dough tastes like. C’mon now, we’ve all snitched a few pieces of the raw dough. That was half the fun of helping. I remember the little pan that caught the cut noodles. I can feel the noodles in my hand as I take them and spread them out on the beds for drying.

I don’t know if I’ll ever run out and buy a noodle making machine and make my own home made noodles. But at least for a little while in my dream, I was back to when life was easier, spending an afternoon with Mom making noodles. And that ain’t a bad way to dream the night away.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

You Never Know When I’ll Be Listening

My job is a strange job some days.

There are three of us on this audit. At some places we audit, we are given private offices. Other places will set aside a conference room for us. And, still other places will just put us wherever they have an empty cubicle. Any of the scenarios work for me.

Where we are now, we are in three empty cubicles. We are all spaced pretty far apart, in with three separate groups of people. Since only two of the cubicles have computers to get into our client’s systems, we end up playing musical chairs since all three of us will need access throughout the audit.

While sitting in the various cubicles, here are some of the conversations I’ve had to listen to from the people around me with the thoughts that went through my head when I heard them:

---> “C’mon honey, please fold the towels in the dryer for me. I know, but I bet you can do it. Just go to the dryer, take them out and fold them. That’s all you need to do. Ok, ok, never mind. I’ll do it. No, I won’t tell Dad that you didn’t do them.” (Hmm. Take out fold the towels and insert any other chore and it’s about the same conversation. I’ve heard it about homework, picking up her room, etc. Very interesting! Me thinks someone has Mom wrapped tightly around her finger!)

---> “I’m going to meet him at the club tonight. I’ll just start humping his leg while we’re dancing and see if he gets the hint that I want to get laid.” (Is this how you pick up men now a days?)

--->“You think you’re delivery was bad, I went out for dinner before going to the hospital so that by the time I got to the hospital, there wasn’t time to do an enema! You should have seen the mess I made! Ewww!!” (There is absolutely nothing I want to add to this one!)

---> “My divorce was so bad; I actually threw a party when it was finalized! What a crazy night that was! I can’t believe how drunk I was!” (I guess any reason to party.)

---> “Hey, I can’t find something in the phone book. Is the U.S. Post Office under government?” (Um, last I looked, that U.S. part stood for United States. Yeah, I’d look under government.)

This is just a sampling! Please, if you’re sitting in a cubicle, remember the people around you hear your phone conversations as well as your conversations with your coworkers. Keep in mind, you never know when someone else is listening. That someone else could be me! And trust me, I don’t want to hear the stories of how it would have been easier if you had that enema before delivering your child. Yeah, that’s a story I could have lived the rest of my life without ever hearing. Ewww.