Lots More Questions Than Answers!

Is it just me or is life chock full of questions without answers? I’m not talking about stuff that you can Google, like “Is global warming real?”, I’m talking about the head-scratching stuff that is human behavior. Someone really ought to study that. In the interest of science, let’s explore some of the things that have recently caused me to go “huh?”.

As I took my nightly walk in the park last evening (okay, okay, it is more like thrice weekly; “nightly” sounds far more industrious, though, doesn’t it?), I noticed a guy riding a bike. The fact that he was shirtless, sweaty, and muscled in that rippled sort of way that I imagine, having no actual experience with muscles myself, comes from spending countless hours at the gym or on a chain gang, had, believe it or not, little to do with why he got my attention.

What he was doing on the bike, even more than the vessel he was using to do it, caused him to stand out from all of the other cyclists. He was riding only on the back wheel, his helmetless body nearly parallel to the ground. And he was moving at a pretty good clip. It was impressive, to say the least.

It occurred to me, upon further reflection, that the bike may have been specifically designed for just this sort of crazy activity. Still, special bike or not, I couldn’t do it. The whole enterprise did look sort of fun, though, at least for those of you whose idea of fun includes an element of danger and/or shirtlessness. Generally, my fun involves ice cream. Or fried food. Possibly pasta. All while wearing a shirt. And, sometimes, even pants.

I participate in this nightly walking. (Okay, okay, thrice weekly!) with a good friend, which makes it far more palatable. Sadly, it is still not as palatable as, say, ice cream or French fries. Nevertheless, we suck it up and move along. We put one foot in front of the other and, before you know it, an hour has passed and we’ve walked three-point-one miles.

Perhaps, given that rate of speed, we are playing fast-and-loose with the word “walking”. What we are doing might, in fact, be better described as “meandering”. Whatever. We’re doing it. We could be eating potato chips on the couch. That’s how I look at it.

We engage in a good bit of talking while we walk. That might slow us down a bit, but who cares? We explore all sorts of topics. They range from the mundane— our children and what the hell they are getting up to these days (ho-hum); to the fantastical— why the sex trade (!) probably wouldn’t be lucrative for either of us, given our limited skill sets and our mutual aversion to both latex and unfamiliar genitalia.

Mainly, though, we talk about our fellow exercise enthusiasts. Given my bartending background, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the number of “regulars” there are at the park most evenings, but I was. Just as I do at my job, I have given some of them descriptive names. In the interest of fairness and a nod to my own self-awareness, I am going to assume that they refer to me as “crazy leggings meanderer”.

At work we have people called “Frito-guy”. Because he smells like Fritos. I don’t really want to know why he smells like Fritos. I suspect that it has to do with something that is going on inside his orthopedic shoes. Really, though, I don’t want to know. I don’t necessarily want to know what makes “Expired Coupon Lady” tick, either. I just want both of them (and countless others) to just eat and get out already.

Conversely, I find that I want to know more about the park regulars. Like, for example, “Old School Roller Skate Guy”. He piques my interest. And not just because he hasn’t yet discovered Rollerblades. What I really want to know is why he wears a maroon leisure suit whilst roller skating. Further, there appears to be a direct relationship between his choice of attire and the level of enjoyment he derives from his nightly roll.

The other night he wasn’t wearing his suit. It took me a few turns around the park to realize that it was him. There just wasn’t nearly as much pep in his step as I have come to expect from him. He wasn’t doing any tricks or turns, either. I sincerely hope that the absence of the suit can easily be explained. I have convinced myself that, perhaps, he spilled some chocolate milkshake on it and had to take it to the cleaners. That takes a few days, right?

While I anxiously anticipate the return of “the suit”, there are other people and other things to take note of. Not all of them are as intriguing as “Muscle Bike Guy” or “Old School Roller Skate Guy”, but one must make do with what one has.

I am fascinated, for example, by the sheer number of people who walk around the park in flip-flops. What “Muscle Bike Guy” is doing seems somewhat safer by comparison. Even given that he doesn’t wear a helmet. It would only take a pebble to send a flip-flop wearer careening into the nearby stream.

Once in a while there is a kayaker in the stream. Hopefully one of them will be there to assist the flip-flopper when (really, it’s just a matter of time) she or he (yes, there are quite a few men who consider flip-flops proper footwear for park walking; no, not all of them are hipsters) takes a mad tumble into the water.

The fact that there are kayakers at all is also odd, given that there are any number of areas where the stream runs dry. Some day, rather than walking, I may just sit myself down near one of these dry streambeds and await the kayaker who gets stuck in the mud. There would, no doubt, be some entertainment value in witnessing such a thing. We all need a good laugh now and again.

The people who make me laugh out loud, though, are the foragers and the fisherpeople. Yes, I said “foragers”. They collect and eat berries from the various trees and bushes that line the walking path. I am constantly shocked that I don’t have to step over a dead one on my lap around the pond. Honestly, why don’t they just bring a bag of Fritos with them?

The people who bring their fishing gear, the “fisherpeople”, crack me up, too. Although they are less funny when they are swinging their poles in “Andy Griffith-like fashion” on the path and I am directly behind them. I didn’t come to the park to lose an eye, for heaven’s sakes! But, yeah, they seem to have a great deal of equipment with them, apart from those dangerous poles, for some simple pond fishing. The funniest part of the whole fishing thing is that I have NEVER seen any of them catch a fish. Thus far, there is no hard evidence that there are even any fish IN the pond.

Could it be that they are all there practicing for some upcoming fishing tournament that I know nothing about? Could it be that this is the last we’ll see of the maroon leisure suit? What motivates a person to wear flip-flops anywhere but the nail salon, the beach, or, possibly, the laundry room? Will “Muscle Bike Guy” continue to tempt fate with his shirtlessness and helmetlessness? Will I ever wear plain black leggings again? Will I ever be instrumental in saving a kayaker?

See? Lots more questions than answers, people. Lots more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going…

You may have noticed that I have been out of the writing loop for a while. I don’t have a note signed by “Juan Epstein’s mother” to excuse me but I do have reasons for my prolonged absence.

I didn’t give up writing. What I did was I gave up publishing what I had written. Because it wasn’t funny. It was, in fact, very angry. Essays that were meant to address the frivolities of life in what I always hope comes across in a whimsical tone, devolved, instead, into diatribes where I railed against our current President, his administration, the press, the electorate, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

There is enough of that going on in the world, in social media, in the mainstream media, in grocery stores, coffee shops, and workplaces. While I am aware that I do my part to add to the divisiveness on my Facebook page, I didn’t want to add to it here. This is where I try to be more light-hearted. And, really, does it make any difference that I think that this country is headed for disaster, going to hell in a handbasket? It does not.

What I have to say, have said, hasn’t convinced any of my right-wing friends to come around to my way of thinking over on The Facebook, why would anything I have to say here make a difference? It won’t.

Not that the nonsense, the minutiae, of my every day life is important, either, but I have been told that it can be, has been, an amusing diversion in the lives of some of my more dedicated readers. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I have decided to go back to using this space to tell my stories.

Unfortunately for my husband, the much put-upon Fang, my stories often include him and/or our daughter, the lovely and quick-witted, Fangette. And that is a slippery slope.

I tried to remove them from my anecdotes because they wanted to be removed. They tend to take what I write to heart — and they take everything that I say very literally. Bad feelings have been a result of some of the things that I have written about them. And that was never my intention.

They honestly are hilarious, sometimes in a frustrating, pull-your-hair-out sort of way, but hilarious just the same. That is what I had hoped people would see. And plenty of people did see this. Fang and Fangette were not, sadly, part of that population.

It is nearly impossible, though, to remove them, the principal players in my life, from the story of my life. I am going to try, though. Because they have lives, too. Blogless lives. They have no recourse to amend what I have written. That is their argument, and it is a good one; they make a valid point.

In an effort to strike a better balance and to insure a more harmonious home life, I am going to make every effort, when I have to mention them, to be more sensitive to their feelings. And that’s not just because my daughter often threatens me with litigation, but because I truly love them and want to respect their right to privacy.

We shall see if once I have to edit myself more carefully whether or not I will have any topics left that are worth writing about. In the meantime, I would like to thank all of you who have stuck with me. But let me just say this, if all I can come up with to write about are rainbows and unicorns, I am shutting this whole enterprise down. Because that’s just not ME, people!

And, you know, I’ve got to be me. (Just not at the expense of others.)

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For the record, my husband is a kind and generous person who goes to work every day, doesn’t drink, smoke, gamble, or have any other heinous habits, unless you count snoring, which I have been told I am guilty of myself. So, there’s that.

He is a good father, at least in my estimation, but I am certain that my daughter would agree. In fact, I know that she wold. I am 100% certain of that, just as I am 100% certain that there is nothing that I could ever do (say, write) that wold make him love me less. Piss him off? Sure. But love me less, not on your life. I’d bet the cat on that one.

As for my daughter, she is a funny, intelligent, independent young woman who makes me proud to call her mine every single damn day. Even on the days when she is driving me crazy. (And there have been a good number of those days!)

She is competent. She is headstrong. She is snarky. She loves animals. Ditto for Beyonce. She hates injustice and intolerance in all its forms. She is both a feminist and a humanist.

She loves a bargain, but is also one of the most generous people you will ever  meet. She is fiercely loyal, both as a daughter and as a friend. I, and countless others, can bear witness to that statement.

How can I not respect the wishes of these two? The answer is simple: I must. Because they would do if for me.

Peace out. (But just for today, tomorrow when and if you tune in, I may have a thing or three to say about the undercelebrated but always relevant legume.)

 

 

 

The “Eleven-dollar Nap”

Recently we, Fang and I, have seen a few movies. We’re not big moviegoers. Sure, we talk about going to the movies a great deal. But then, and mostly because we have to put on pants and, often in this weather, boots, we just don’t go. Pants, as anyone who wears them regularly can tell you, require both zippering and buttoning, boots need lacing. On the weekends, who wants to be bothered with all that dressing? Not us, that’s who.

There are also considerations regarding driving—and parking. Do we want to go to the closest theater, which is located in one of the biggest malls in the country, and have to deal with the parking? Or, should we drive a greater distance to the theater with more ample and convenient parking? What about the second-run theater? No. You have to parallel park on the STREET there! On a Saturday! Sometimes it’s all too much.

Don’t even get me started on the whole concession thing. I like my popcorn with butter. Fang does not. Sometimes Fang does not even want popcorn. I consider that heresy. I like diet soda. Fang does not. We can’t share. It adds up, the snacking does. And, we’re cheap. Twenty-two bucks just to get in to see the movie on top of the cost of the food. That’s not nothing.

These are real concerns for the pathologically cheap and lazy. If by some miracle we have managed to don appropriate attire, there are still other obstacles. There is always an excuse not to spend money, not to leave the house.

So, what’s changed? Well, a few things. First, there’s Facebook. Everyone and their brother is always talking about the latest Superhero movie or some groundbreaking indie that you HAVE to see. Neither Fang nor I is immune to peer pressure, even at our advanced ages.

Second, we have become extremely out of touch with pop culture. We have a twenty-year-old. This, for those of you unfamiliar with these creatures, is an age group that is extremely in touch with pop culture. She is no different, our dear, sweet Fangette. As Fang and I are not about to take to Snapchat or to embrace hip-hop, we chose to seek common ground through other forms of entertainment. Seeing the same movies, discussing them with her, is our way “in” to at least a small part of her world. That’s worth leaving the house for.

Third, when there are no baseball games to watch, Fang and I tend to go our separate ways after dinner. We don’t watch many of the same television shows. He enjoys house flippers and procedural dramas. I am more of a Masterpiece Theatre person. We felt like we weren’t taking full advantage of the time we have to spend together. Simply going to the grocery store as a team wasn’t cutting it.

So, in the spirit of togetherness, we agreed to get our asses out of the house on Saturdays and do something more meaningful than weighing our paper towels options or kvetching about the nerve of some companies to only give you TEN K-cups instead of TWELVE in a box! Fang, for the record, is NOT a fan of THAT!

If you were required, by law, to get a tattoo of the sentence you utter most often, Fang’s would read: “You gotta watch these companies like a hawk, I tell ya!” Mine would be somewhat saucier.

The fact that Fang notices such a thing and that it creams his corn is, for those of us who know him, extremely out of character. Not because he isn’t frugal, he is. No, it’s more  because he has a tendency to be good-natured. He’s a shrug your shoulders and move on kind of fellow. He doesn’t get worked up.

Outside of watching baseball, my husband’s favorite pastime would be napping. If he can work in a Saturday afternoon nap, he has “won” the weekend. If he manages to nap AND watch baseball, it is his equivalent to winning the lottery.

I have to tell you that I was a little surprised when he agreed to embrace my togetherness scheme, to give up his Saturday afternoon nap and join me at the movies. Until, that is, he slipped up, which put me on to his ingenious master plan.

I don’t know how I missed it. The signs were there. I just wasn’t paying attention.

The fact that he insisted on going to a certain movie theater should have been my first clue. Why? Because this is the movie theater with the reclining seats. Reclining seats are conducive to movie-watching, I’ll give you that. But this theater has a host of problems.

The seats are the only thing that make this theater palatable. It’s kind of dingy. The concession stand gives me pause due to the general unkemptness of the lobby. The clientele is slightly trashy; every time we go there we witness some type of altercation, either between patrons or between patrons and staff. You have to basically cross a highway to get from the parking lot. There is nowhere close by to grab a bite to eat.

Still, he kept insisting that we go there. “Let’s go there, hon. I like the seats.” Yeah. He likes the seats. Not because they make movie-watching more enjoyable, but because they make napping easier!

I caught on to the fact that he was napping during a recent showing of “La La Land”. To be fair, I, myself, may have closed my eyes once or twice during that movie, but my husband was out cold and full-on snoring. Loudly. I had to nudge him. And pinch his nose. At least these activities kept me awake.

I had to admit that I admired his ability to fall fast asleep in a crowded movie theater. I had to admit that the movie, despite the hoopla surrounding it, was not as entertaining as I would have liked it to be. I had to give him points for trying and kudos for wanting to hang out with me.

Now I no longer ask him if he wants to go to a movie. Instead, I laughingly inquire whether or not he would like to enjoy an “Eleven-dollar Nap”? He can’t get dressed fast enough. Its a win-win for both of us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Town News: A Christmas Eve To Remember

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I have been feeling a little “down in the dumps” lately. To illustrate that I have not completely lost my sense of humor, to restore your faith in me as a “humor blogger”, and to reward those of you who have stuck with me, I will tell you one of my most favorite “ripped from the headlines” stories. It’s a knee-slapper. I promise. It has gotten me through one or two dark moments.

I do not always read our little local newspaper, but when I do I always go straight for the “police blotter”. Not much happens here in our little piece of the Earth, certainly not much that is worth a headline. I discovered long ago that the most interesting things that do happen here are reported in the “police blotter”.

Sometimes, when I am in desperate need of a hearty laugh — which I have been lately — I think back to a tidbit that was featured in the “police blotter” several years ago. The events transpired on the 24th of December in the year 2011. I remember this because that date represented a milestone for me; I had been alcohol-free for a whole year.

Oddly enough I was not in a celebratory mood that year. I was anxious and feeling more than a little sorry for myself. Yes, I had gotten through the year and my first holiday season without booze. That was a good thing. A very good thing. Still, I worried about whether or not I would, could, or even wanted to get through the rest of my life (or the rest of that day) without it.

While my resolve is still strong and I fret less about relapse, there will always be that little part of me that wonders if someday I will fall off the wagon. And lose everything. It keeps me on my toes, but it is not an altogether comfortable feeling.

I was having a conversation with a friend a few days after Christmas about how I was dealing with life without my security blanket, how uncomfortable I was feeling. I was maybe even having a little pity party for myself.

She responded by telling me that my life could be a whole lot worse, that I could, for example, be in that week’s “police blotter”; that I should count myself lucky, not just for making it through the year without alcohol, but also, and possibly more importantly, for not having been one of the “roast beef people”.

She assumed that I was familiar with the story. She knows that I go straight to the “police blotter” when the paper arrives. I guess I was busy, you know, with my pity party in full swing and all. I hadn’t read it. And, so, she read it to me.

It took her about ten minutes to read me the seven-line piece. She had to keep stopping. To laugh. To catch her breath. To blow her nose. It was, in short, a great story.

I wish I had kept it, but I didn’t. It went something like this, though:

On December 24, 2011 officers responded to a call of a disturbance in the parking lot of The Local Market. Upon arrival, the officers witnessed the female beating the male about the head with a package of roast beef. A strong smell of alcohol was detected on the female assailant. The officers ascertained that the couple was known to each other and had, in fact, arrived in the same vehicle, a late-model BMW. Counsel was given and it was determined that the male, the driver, had not been drinking. The parties were discharged with a warning. The whereabouts of the roast beef in question are unknown.

I loved that she related to me this cautionary tale about the dangers of drinking, when I needed it most. Further, she made mention that she was confident that even had I been drinking, I would never have been caught in the parking lot of The Local Market beating dear, old Fang about the head with a roast beef. Green cabbage, perhaps, but never a roast beef!

I have always wished that I had been there. How often in life does one get to witness a meat fight in the middle of a grocery store parking lot? Alas, I have to satisfy myself with the visual of the scene that plays itself out in my head.

While this story is laugh out loud funny as written, it has always left me with a few lingering questions. Questions that, over the years, I have felt compelled to answer in a speculative and creative fashion. Like the Swiss cheese that often accompanies a fine roast beef product, I think we can agree that the story has more than a few holes.

First of all, I have always wondered what kind of roast beef the guy was being hit upside the head with? Was it a package of cold cuts? Or a whole roast of beef? It is unclear. I think that it makes a difference. Being slapped with a package of sliced roast beef could hardly kill a fly, let alone do any serious damage to a grown man. A slab of beef, on the other hand, could make a dent, not only to his pride, but to his noggin.

My money is on the cold cuts. Why? Because I think, it being Christmas Eve, she sent him in to purchase a roast beef — a whole roast beef — and he came out with deli-sliced roast beef. Also, I have to wonder if the police might not have taken the whole thing a lot more seriously, charged her with assault, even, if her “weapon” had been a five-pound roast of beef.

I have to say that in this scenario, the one that I long ago decided made the most sense,  my sympathies lie with her. Who hasn’t sent their husband the store to buy, say, a head of lettuce only to have him return with a head of cabbage. Who hasn’t wanted to beat him over the head with said green cabbage? Who hasn’t been forced, as a result of his inability to discern the difference between lettuce and cabbage, to eat a BCT, rather than the delicious BLT that one’s heart was set on? Who hasn’t been in this or a similar situation.Be honest, now.

Even drunk, I drew the line at battering anyone — with anything. I was never a violent drunk, though. No. I was a happy until I fell down and then couldn’t remember a thing in the morning kind of drunk. I was even, at times, a maudlin drunk; never was I a violent drunk. Still, drunk or sober, we all have our lines in the sand. This woman drew hers over roast beef. I can understand.

I am happy to report that “The Great Green Cabbage Debacle” did not result in Fang and I engaging in fisticuffs. I would hope that some of you might sympathize with me if it had, though.

I have always been intrigued by the part of the narrative where we are given the information that the parties were “known to each other”. Of course they were known to each other. I am willing to bet that they were married to each other — for thirty years!

While I would like to think that a trip to The Local Market taking on an air of danger might be fun, I don’t know that I would want to be mindful of strangers, armed with roast beef (of any variety), lurking in the shadows, poised to pounce upon the next person that they deemed worthy of a good meat-filled bitch slapping. It wouldn’t keep me away, though.

On the contrary, the idea of possibly being in a position to witness (or, better yet, to be the victim) of such a crime might have me camped out there. For eternity.

And what do you make of the “late-model BMW” detail? I have always found its presence intriguing. Was this meant to indicate that money was not an issue? That the argument had  nothing to do with the cost of the roast beef? (Which is high, let me just tell you!) Are we supposed to assume that they were, perhaps, German? If so, is this something that Germans engage in regularly, food fights in parking lots? Is this something the reader is supposed to know?

It is a mystery, the BMW detail. It is, indeed, far more mysterious to me than the fact that the whereabouts of the roast beef, the weapon in question, “remain unknown”. I am assuming, unless the attack shredded the packaging, that they took it  home with them. I would have taken it home with me.

I have always hoped that their relationship survived this incident. If it did, I also hope that he was never sent in to the store for cold cut turkey and came out, instead, with a frozen bird. Being knocked around with a frozen turkey would definitely smart a little.

I owe them, whatever their current relationship status, a debt of gratitude. Their story, which I like to think of as “A Christmas Eve To Remember”, has long been one of those stories that I harken back to when I need a laugh, when one drink seems like a good idea, when I send my husband out for lettuce, and, most importantly, when I need a reminder about how incredibly fortunate I am that my life is peppered with people who not only love me, but always know exactly what story I need to hear at exactly the moment I need to hear it.


Do you live in a small town? Do you have a favorite small town story? If so, I would love to hear it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Am I Wearing A ‘Kick Me’ Sign?

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Lately I find myself grabbing at the back of my shirt, in search of the “Kick Me!” sign that I am oh, so certain I am going to find there. What other reason could there be for people to feel that it is perfectly reasonable to do just that. Kick me, that is.

I spend far too much time while I am at work wrestling to get my emotions under control. Not bursting into tears, not coming apart at the seams, and not flying off the handle is, in fact, hard work. If you think it isn’t, try it.

I come in from work most afternoons looking like I have been in an actual wrestling match. My hair is all over the place. My feet and hips are aching. My hands are numb. My make-up looks like it was applied by someone who either uses or is in dire need of a seeing eye dog. In short, I look like I feel, which is like I have been kicked around some.

Sometimes I cry on the way home. Sometimes I am on the bus when I burst into tears. Sometimes a kind stranger offers the crazy, crying lady a tissue. Sometimes this restores my faith in humanity.

I dry my eyes. I vow to soldier on. To buck up. To stop acting like a child. To, at the very least, stop crying on the bus.

So what if I work two dead-end jobs? Who cares. At least I have two jobs. At least I can pay my kid’s tuition.

So what if my husband won’t pick me up from my second job and I have to take the bus in the pouring rain. At least there is a bus. At least there is someone on the bus who has the sense to carry tissues. As I signal a “thank you” with my crumpled Kleenex, I tell myself to stop being an ungrateful bitch.

And I try. To be grateful. I really do.

And then something happens that causes me to become unglued. Again.

Tonight it was my kid texting me to stop tagging her “constantly” in Facebook posts; to stop responding to the things she posts. Clearly I don’t understand social media. I thought that was what we were supposed to do. Engage.

Imagine my surprise then when my response of “LOL” to her posting of an article from “The Onion” — a publication near and dear to the both of us — caused her to text me (TEXT ME!) that I needed to “stop tagging her in all sorts of posts and to stop responding to her posts”.

For the record, I tagged her in three posts in five days, one of which was a status update that referred to how I was counting down the days until I would see her again. She responded with hearts. The other two were to draw her attention to things that I thought she would find humorous; I found them humorous. We do, in fact, tend to find the same things funny.

Finals are on the horizon. I know that she has been studying a lot. I was just trying to give her a chuckle or two. It was my way of letting her know that I was on her side, that I was thinking about her. Obviously, in addition to being an ungrateful bitch, I am also an insensitive asshat.

Just before I burst into tears I did manage to dash off a very mature text. It simply said, “Wow”. To her credit, she responded. “Im sry”. Yeah. Okay. Whatever.

I know she is sorry. She probably even thinks that saying it negates the hurtful thing that prompted the apology. It doesn’t.

I’ll get over it. I’ll soldier on. I’ll buck up. I’ll stop acting like a child  (although it would be helpful if people stopped treating me like one).  I’ll even try to stay on top of how much I engage with my daughter on Facebook.

And, once I stop crying,  I’m sure I’ll be able to forgive her. I’m sure I will.


(I know what you’re thinking. I ought to share this on Facebook and “tag” her, but I won’t.)

To be fair, my husband usually does pick me up from work… there was this one night, though… LOL!

 

 

 

 

So, You Want To Be A Bad Manager?

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Don’t say it!

Under no circumstances should you respond to a staff member’s “Good Morning, how are you today?” with actual words. A grunt and a dismissive hand wave will send the message that you would rather not waste  your precious time with the likes of them!

Pick one, anyone.

Each day be sure to choose one lucky employee to single out for inefficiency. That this woman’s biggest mistake may have only been that she selected a shade of eyeshadow that was a little too close to yours and that, unbeknownst to her, she is wearing better, is irrelevant. Single her out anyway. She, too, is irrelevant. After all, it is your world and she is just living in it.

Talk amongst your friends.

Be sure to discuss either this employee — or another, why not? — with your manager pals. Do it just out of earshot, but be certain, through pointing or other gestures, that whoever it is your are discussing is aware that he or she is being discussed AND, this is of utmost important, that the message is clear that nothing good is being said.

Overreact

If you discover that someone has done something wrong make sure that you behave as if he or she has just killed your beloved cat. On purpose. With their car.

Passively be aggressive.

Ask your staff silly questions while they are busy. When they indicate that they have no time to answer you in that moment, be sure that they understand that you have taken note of their inability to add a sixth thing to the five other things they were, as always, effectively juggling.

Wonder aloud.

In full view of clients and/or other employees (bonus points for both!), wonder aloud why this person or that person did not do this, that, or the other thing. Throwing your hands in the air and rolling your eyes always enhances this situation. For added flair, might I suggest a heavy sigh?

If you have nothing nice to say…

Regardless of what your mother told  you about saying nice things, choose, instead, to be harsh, mean, or downright cruel. Adopting an attitude of superiority while you sneer and snap at your staff is a step in the right direction. That promotion you so desire is, no doubt, right around the corner for a motivator such as yourself!

Do it better!

Everyone knows that you can do everything better than they can. Show them anyway. Do this as often as possible. This endearing behavior, while it may not win you fans, is sure to  get you noticed!

Step it up a notch.

Daily and consistently take your demanding behavior up at least a few notches. Everyone loves a challenge. Luckily, your staff exists purely to make you look exceptional.

Gratitude is overrated.

While stepping on the little people to achieve your goals, be mindful that thanking them is a weakness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Have Evolved. Really. I Have.

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I do not have a short fuse. I have evolved. Really. I have.

I am aware that I complain a lot, but that does not mean I am angry. Frankly, the complaining is what keeps whatever anger I may be feeling from being bottled up and, subsequently, exploding.

Think of me, if you will, as a carbonated beverage. A guilty pleasure. Effervescent and sweet when stable. Put the contents under extreme pressure, shake me up, and I, like that bottle of Diet Coke, will likely exhibit what scientists call “volatility”. (I think that’s what they call it. What do I know? Do I look like a scientist?)

Sometimes working the bubbles into a frenzy is accidental. Like when you’re moving things around in the fridge to make room for the potato salad, and you inadvertently knock the bottle of soda to the floor. It happens. It is best, under these circumstances, if you want to avoid an all-out disaster, to release the pressure slowly, to let the bubbles out carefully. Cleaning up a  heap of sticky goo from between the tiles is time consuming and, let’s be honest, not a whole lot of fun.

Once in a while I find myself in a situation where my buttons are being pushed by someone (or, you know, a bunch of someones; a gaggle of someones). I feel shaken to the point of volatility.

Just the other day I was out shopping. In the course of my trip I began to wonder if some sort of strange magic dust had been sprinkled upon me as I entered the mall, dust that rendered me invisible to other consumers.

Why? Because several of my fellow shoppers, in a number of different retail establishments, either walked directly in front of me — like the woman in the shoe store who was eyeing the same pair of shoes as was I — or, in the case of one clearly deranged J. Crew shopper, actually pushed me aside in front of the chino display. (Pushed me aside! In front of the chinos!)

It is when I find myself in these situations that I must stop and make an assessment, that I must ask myself, as I feel the bubbles rising, as I sense the pressure building, is this behavior deliberately directed at me, personally? Or, is this woman in dire need of a pair of boyfriend-cut cropped chinos?

After checking to make sure that my fellow chino enthusiast was not pantsless, or that the other woman was not shoeless, I took a deep breath, unscrewed the bottle cap just a bit, and allowed the pressure to escape. I took charge of how I released the bubbles, slowly and deliberately, so as not to create a mess.

I decided that their behavior, rude and insensitive as it was, while aimed at me, was not, in fact, personal in any way. It was not sinister. Alas, I just happened to be the woman standing between them and what they wanted.

Reaching this conclusion calmed me. So did slipping the shoes into an empty slot on the Men’s Size 13 rack. If I decided to come back for them, I would know where they were; ill-mannered step-in-front-of-me-without-an-excuse-me-lady would have to commit herself to a long search to find them again. There was no need for petty subterfuge over at the J.Crew; there were plenty of chinos.

What then does a person such as myself, one given to volatility when mishandled, do when her bubbles are deliberately shaken? When there is no mistaking that the bottle of soda did not simply fall, but was pushed?

If  such a situation had presented itself a few years ago I would be telling you how the bottle erupted and I had to clean soda from every last nook and cranny in my kitchen, likely down on my hands and knees, which would have put me in an excellent, but unenviable, position to pray for forgiveness or beg for mercy, whichever was appropriate. In short, it — I —  would have been a mess.

Now? I just wait. For the bubbles to redistribute. For stasis to return.

Sure, sometimes I have to loosen the cap. I have to vent a little. Let some air out, allow some air in. It beats being down on your hands and knees, though. That’s for damn sure.

It can often be a delicate and, yes, uneasy process, but I have discovered that when I am successful at navigating the minefield of my emotions I feel at peace. I rest more easily. Realizing that nestling the soda behind the jug of milk, where it is less apt to topple over or go careening off the edge of the shelf, took me a shockingly long time to figure out.

Sometimes, though, I forget and I stick the damn bottle where it doesn’t belong. And I pay the price.

I am not suggesting that I have become a doormat, nor would I suggest anyone else should be (or become) one. Passivity is just as bad as overreaction. Sometimes you have to take a swig from the soda, say what needs to be said. It is simply that I have learned that not everything needs to be said; that it is perfectly fine to leave a little soda in the bottle, put the cap back on, and toss it in the trash.

Move along.

It is fairly easy to predict, and to control, how a bottle of soda will react in almost every set of circumstances. (It’s science, kids!) The science behind human behavior being far less exact than the science behind carbonation, it would follow that it is not so easy to predict or to understand how humans will react on any given day to any given thing.

We can change. We can throw a curve. We can also learn from our mistakes. We can be shaken, but choose not to explode. The carbonated beverage does not have any say in the matter. It behaves the same way every time. We do not have to.

What it took me far too many years to learn is that people have their own best interests at heart, their own motivations for their behaviors, which may directly or indirectly affect me, but which are hardly ever ABOUT me.

Most days I try to act like the sane grown-up person that I believe myself to be. If I find myself getting angry or frustrated by a stranger I can always do something a little loopy, like hiding those shoes. Because, you know, that was FUN!

If I find that I am getting fired up by someone close to me, I remind myself that there is a 99.9% chance that it is not about me. Because it hardly ever is.