Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Walking in Hunting Season: It's a Jungle Out There

I'm a simple soul.  Not simple in gazing vacantly at lint on my pants, but I have simple needs.  I need to sleep in a cold room, I need to read, I need chocolate and I need to take walks in the woods.  The first three are covered nicely.  As of yesterday, the walking has taken a deadly twist.

Hubby and I live a semi-hermit like existence in the country.  We have five acres of woods and weeds as high as an elephant's eye.  If I want to walk on our property, I would have to carry a machete.  Since I'm not yet committed to building my upper body, I walk on a neighbor's property.

See the picture?  He has it mowed for just that purpose.  "Come on neighbor," this path says to me. But there's some wee, tiny fine print and you should always read the fine print, you know.  

IT'S HUNTING SEASON FOR DEER!  I was on my third loop of the path, breathing the crisp air, enjoying my privacy and communing with nature, when neighbor shows up in full hunting regalia.  Actually, he sort of looked like the Cookie Monster in camouflage...with a gun. It seems that I was not alone.  I was being observed by men in trees...with guns.

Neighbor informed me, in a sweet way, that it probably wasn't a good time for me to be out walking.  It seems that my orange vest was a nice touch, but my gray hooded sweat shirt sort of looked like a deer tail.  I'm thinking he was being polite about the gray sweatshirt.  They probably saw my gray hair bobbing above the weeds.

He reassured me that deer hunting season, the one where the hunters use guns, would be over next week.  "And what can they use after that?" I asked. " Let's see," neighbor said thoughtfully, "there's seasons for muzzle loading, bow and arrow, sticks and stones, table knives, nerf guns, and Nancy Sinatra tunes."  So I exaggerate a little, but hunting doesn't stop, just the weapons change.

I am currently vewy, vewy afwaid of taking a walk next week or any other week.  I don't think this a good look for me.

I don't know what the bag limit is for my species, but let me say one thing to my predators.  I am a stringy, bitter tastin' critter and my head won't look very impressive on your wall.  Let me walk in peace and the spirits will look kindly on your hunting.  Deal?

And by the way, I hear the deer got their hooves on some claymore mines.  Be vewy, vewy afraid.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Working Retail Sucks!

I have to get something off my chest besides the remnants of the coconut cream pie I just foolishly ate.  I have a scrub business located in a flea market.  That's not my big confession but it is subject to some eye brow raising, I'm sure.  If you are a connoisseur of flea markets, you know that I am surrounded by discount socks, used video games, basement junk, puppies, dented canned goods, etc.

I'm there because it's cheap, so don't judge me.  What I really have to tell you is that retail sucks hugely!  I can't tell you how good it feels to say it out loud.  It's not just me.  If you haven't had the pleasure of waiting on people yourself, find someone who has.  We are everywhere in your life...lurking behind bushes, insanely babbling to ourselves.  For heaps of fun, Google "Retail Sucks" and settle back.  You'll see language from previously normal people that will just blow your hair back.

When we started our business I had no idea that working retail would be worse than being a social worker.  I apologize to my readers who are in that noble profession, but let's face it.  Social workers are notoriously underpaid, misunderstood and overworked. " We get no respect" to quote a famous American.   And you know what?  Working retail is at the bottom of the respect scale. 

Why has retail turned me against the human race?

See this child?  I swear she was in my store yesterday.  While her pregnant mother attempted to shop, she and her little brother ran amuk through the racks.  Every ten seconds she stopped and shrieked at the top of her lungs.  I mean the sound was at a level that could break glass.  Her face was flushed, her hair was disheveled and 666 was peeking out from under her bangs.

Fortunately for my hearing,  mother grabbed the demon seed and left the store. I have had clones of this little girl in my store for what seems like hours while the mother shops.  Sometimes there are a whole pack of them terrorizing my merchandise while the parents placidly ignore them.

My scrubs are on racks with wheels.  Can you see where this is going?  Children climb through the racks, push them around, and use them as weapons against their siblings.  Little girls love to grab scrub tops off racks and drag them over to their mothers.  Do the tops get back to the right place?  No.  Children pull tags off scrubs.  Aren't the little tykes cute?  What's even uglier are the parents who let this happen.  Why are you having more of them when you can't control the ones you have?  Thank God I don't sell glassware. 

Let's move on to cell phone addicts.  Brittany or Tiffany stroll through the store, ear glued permanently to their rhinestone encrusted cell phone, trashing your merchandise.  "OMG, I can get this top cheaper at Walmart.."  Hello!  I'm standing right next to you!  I own the store! They pull at the clothes with long painted nails.  Their tats and piercings are flaunted to the world.  "OMG!"  These girls are in health care somewhere.  Think about it.  Frightening.

Since I've mentioned Walmart, let's go there.  I'm standing behind my counter, a sweet sappy smile on my face, and customers start the "I can find it cheaper at..." routine.  First of all, this is just plain rude.  It's a flea market which means the owners are running the stores.  These aren't retail outlets or corporate businesses.  You talk trash about my store, you are insulting me.  How about I go to your job and criticize your work?  "Wow, Brandi, you didn't use the proper technique for lifting Mrs. Jones off her bedpan.  Oh, yea...your hair looks like hell too."  How does it feel, Brandi? 

Speaking of Walmart and other evil corporate discount chains, I cannot offer you, ugly customer, the same prices that they do.  Try to pull together the few brain cells you have and think this through.  Walmart has a gazillion dollars to spend on merchandise.  They buy huge quantities of products at ridiculously low prices and make you believe that they pass the savings on to you.  Actually, my prices are similar to the discount giants and lower than the chain uniform stores.  Think this through and I will speak slowly for your benefit.  My profit margin is low.  I do not own a vacation home.  My car is seven years old.  Do I sound like a corporate giant?  Do me a favor....keep on moving down the road to the nearest Walmart.  I'll even draw you a map.

Of course, we cannot forget the rack wreckers who put items back wherever they happen to end up.  And the women who leave make up all over the scrubs they try on.  And customers who won't speak to you when you ask if you can help them.  And customers who ask if you have scrubs with iguanas on them...really?  And customers who ask if I make the scrubs...really again.  And customers who ask if I'm here every weekend...no I pack up a thousand items and take them home so I can play with them.

To be fair, there is the flip side.  I have many regular customers who treat me with respect and I look forward to seeing them.  Their mothers raised them right.  I'm venting to relieve the pressure on my blood vessels.  Just know that the clerk who waits on you at the department store or the convenience store is mentally plotting your death when you walk in.  They may be smiling, but they have many fantasy scenarios involving your untimely demise.  Be nice.  Be very, very nice. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I Am Not My Mother!

Do you know that you can feel you sons' eyes roll over the phone?

"Hello, mom, I have a job interview tomorrow." 

Screech.  Gasp.  "Are you going to wear a shirt with a collar?  Make sure there's no dog hair on it."

"I know m-o-t-h-e-r." 

"You're rolling your eyes at me, aren't you?  Stop it!"

This is such cruel punishment from my own flesh and blood.  I spent most of my life cringing at the things my mother said and I'm certainly not my mother.  I AM NOT MY MOTHER!  Come over here closer and say that. 

"Why don't you ask Tiffany out?  Her mother told me that she broke up with her boyfriend, and she seems like such a nice girl."


"So I suppose that just because I suggested it....Stop rolling!"

No, I'll say it again.  I am not my mother!  I'm way cool and she wasn't.  When she suggested guys they were the pasty faced, choir boy, closet gay types, and when I suggest women they are hot blondes.That makes us different, right?

I don't fare any better in person.  If the two of them are together, they show no mercy. I get the full frontal eye roll, the pat on the head, and the threat to put me in my mother's nursing home.  I'm only 61 and I don't have dementia yet!  What?  What do you mean I bought you the same present last Christmas?  I couldn't have.  Shit, yes I did.  Why didn't I remember?  Yes, I know that my mother unwrapped the same presents about a dozen times one year.  Well, she enjoyed them every time she opened them.  What's wrong with that?

I also talk too much to strangers, which my parents did and their parents before them.  It's a family tradition.  I also sing along to songs in the car, I dance in the house, I check out their friends on Facebook, I tell off color jokes and just basically breathe which are all reasons for my sons to roll their eyes. 

I know.  It's just a matter of time before they have their own children, blah, blah, blah.  They'll get the same treatment, but that is weak revenge at this point.  At the rate I'm going, I won't be mentally sharp enough to be in cahoots with my grandchildren. Hopefully, I will be able to raise my gray head off the bed, hairs sprouting all over my face, and give my sons a big fat eye roll.  I gotta time it right because they might just think I'm having a stroke or something. 

O.K., so I'll stop now before I embarrass you and myself anymore.  At least until tomorrow.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Job Hunting: Victory!

It's a Winston Churchill kind of day here in unemployment land.  I'm doing this little victory dance, kinda of old school, but Winnie would approve.  Here's the scoop.  I'm typing away, venting about how uncivilized the job search is in this economy and I get a call.

Flash back to last week.  I interviewed for a social work job I actually wanted.  I was convinced that it was my worst interview ever.  Other than no booger hanging from my nose, I was spectacularly unimpressive.  Hang on here, it's a bumpy ride, but back to the present.  The call was to offer me the job.  Actually, they offered me a part time job, but I'm good with this.  I'm going to need some adjustment time anyway.  I'll be in withdrawal when my "Law and Order" afternoons are disturbed.

If you think this is the end of my ironic story, it gets better.  The next day, I got a call about a job that I had applied for a month ago.  OMG!  It gets even better.  About an hour later, hubby got a call for a second interview.

So my foot is stuck so far in mouth it is finding another exit.  How is this happening? This should be the worst time of year to find a job.  Nothing ever happens at the holidays. I was planning to move under the bridge sometime around Christmas Eve.  My trash bags were packed, but great balls of fire, the phone is ringing off the hook!

Have I jinxed my good luck by talking about it?  Of course not...uhhhh...I hope not.  Just let me say that unemployment is at 15.8% in my area.  I am extremely grateful for a chance to get back in the job market.  I promise to make you all proud.  I promise to not blog about my job or to insult my boss or to get in any trouble of any kind.  For the first time in my work life, I shall follow the rules.  Oh please, please keep your fingers crossed for me.  Being good isn't one of my strongest traits.  I'll need your support or a support group.

Good luck to everyone still looking for a job.  If I can give you a reference, just let me know.  That's what friends do, you know. 


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm not going to say much today because I know that everyone is busy.  Personally, I'm waging mortal combat with a turkey.  Wish me luck. 

I'm feeling light headed because there is a job offer pending...I think I have the job...and I actually might enjoy it....but if I talk about it, I'm afraid it will go away.  So for now, enjoy Thanksgiving.  Eat, drink, be merry.

Can anyone tell me how to get all of those left overs in the refrigerator? 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Job Hunting: It Ain't Pretty

Job hunting...colonoscopies...water boarding...choose one.  Personally, I'll take a colonoscopy Alex, for $1200.

Have you looked for a job lately?  What am I saying.  Everyone is looking for a job. And since everyone is looking, employers have stored work place etiquette on the top shelf along with livable wages.  They don't have to be polite now that accountants and recent law graduates are applying for entry level positions.

Here's the first scenario.  You see a job that interests you, which is a miracle in itself.  Anything that doesn't say "earn big bucks and work from home" is a viable job. (Those people should rot in Hell along with the Nigerians who send you emails about keeping their money while they fight a coup in their homeland.) You redo the resume, write a killer cover letter and fire it off.  You haven't actually lied about anything...nothing that will put you in jail, where come to think of it, you get three meals a day and a bed.  Maybe crime does pay.

Sometimes you're lucky and can actually drop your resume off at a real office.  Back in the day, being able to walk in the door and schmooze the receptionist got you a few extra points.  "Hey, boss.  That stunning woman who just dropped off a resume would be a perfect fit for the job, and she thought my cross stitch computer cover was just the cutest thing she ever saw.  Can we hire her?  Please?"  You think I'm joking?  It's worked before.  Now the receptionist won't even make eye contact.  Job seekers are a pathetic bunch of desperate people.  I wouldn't look either.

Now, most resumes end up in the internet Bermuda Triangle.  Did they get it?  Will I get a generic response?  Hello!  Is anyone out there?  Why did you advertise?  Do you really have a job or is this some cruel joke?  Did you already hire your wife's cousin because your sex life depends on it?  I don't know.  When you aren't working, you have time to make up outrageous and sometimes true situations.

Another scenario, that doesn't happen often, is lining up outside a business to get an application.  Moooo.  Something smells familiar.  An employer may try this tactic once and only once.  You know what?  Maybe all applications should be handed out this way.  You hear that hundreds of people apply for one job, but it would make an impact on the sanctimonious politicians and business owners that the numbers are real people.

The final insult and a sharp kick to the tookus is the dead silence after an interview.  You remember interviews, don't you?  An employer calls, sets an appointment, gets your little hopes and ambitions in a tizzy, and off you go in your Sunday best to make that great first impression.  Please don't let my palms be sweaty.  Don't let there be a booger hanging out of my nostril.  And then....nothing.  They don't call.  They don't email.  Just a big, black NOTHING.

Let me be the first to volunteer to torture these people for all of eternity.  No, wait, I want to get paid for this because I am looking for a job.  I would force them to fill out applications 24 hours a day while bagpipers played behind their chair.  I could do this.

I'm not bitter.  No, I'm just pissy mad.  I'm sitting by the phone and I ain't getting any prettier.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Health Care for Dummies

I don't know if I'm up to taking on the health care dilemma.  It would seem counter-productive to talk about health care and end up with a headache, but I'll risk it.

Let's make this simple.  We need affordable health care.  Let's have a show of hands.  How many people think that a for profit company with greedy CEO's and stockholders will provide that for us?  No hands up?  I see Bob's hand over in the corner, but I think he owns some stock in Blue Cross or he has to go to the bathroom.  I'm not sure.

Why do so many Americans dig in their heals about a universal health care plan?  Maybe, to keep it simple, the 200 people who still have jobs with benefits don't want changes, and the rest of us with no jobs are too weak to answer the polls correctly.  Living on stale bread and ramen noodles can impair your judgment.

Now, I don't know how this health care plan would be funded.  That's not my job.  I can point out an obvious reason why the government is busy clipping coupons and looking for money under the mattress.  Want to add up the money we've spent in Iraq and Afghanistan?  Want to add up how much we have to spend on health care to take care of the soldiers coming home with physical and emotional problems?

Oh, excuse me.  We need to be in those countries because....uhhhhhhhhhh.  Does anyone remember why we're there?  Moving on.  Let's be creative about finding the money.

How about some big ass bake sales?  I'm thinking that our politicians have some culinary skills.  They must be able to do something.  Maybe baking is a hidden talent they should explore.  John Boehner brownies anyone?  Newt Gingrich ginger snaps?  Stop me, please.

How about a government run movie studio?  That Avatar movie made heaps of money.  Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't doing anything right now.  He could run the program. I'm open for suggestions about the types of movies they should make, but since the government has access to weapons of mass destruction, I'm leaning towards war movies.

Now that I've made some suggestions, how about the rest of you pitch in with some ideas?  Once we get our list together, I volunteer to make a nice power point presentation for our leaders.

Just let me sum up.  I want health care for everyone.  I'm out of work so if anyone in Washington wants me to consult, I'm available at any time.  They will have to pay my expenses to get there or wait until I can hitch out there from Ohio. I'll be waiting for the call with my bowl of Ramen noodles.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Explain Male Honor To Me Cause I'm Pissed

I'm feeling Pissy, perhaps as a result of a bad day selling scrubs.  I've got this struggling little medical uniform business at a flea market which is bad enough for my ego, but when sales are down, I just get Pissy with a capital P in case you didn't notice.  What better excuse for lashing out at everything I don't understand which also pisses me off.

I was listening to NPR the other day which usually doesn't Piss me off.  I adore intelligent people, but they were talking to a sweet elderly man who was sharing stories of World War II with his grandson.  He talked about being a Lieutenant at the age of 19 and having to follow orders that haunted him.  Every night, he had to pick two men who had to get in a small boat and then attempt to row across a river.  Every night, the Germans killed the two men.  Sounds like there should be a punch line here since it sounds too ridiculous to be true. 

I don't know how long this went on, but I would say one time was one time too many.  And yet, every day, he picked the men and they got in the boat.  This is where my hubby tries to explain to me that this is what male honor is about in the time of war.  Paleaseeeeeee!  Doing the same thing over and over with the same disastrous result is a sign of insanity.

I don't even know what to say next because this male honor thing just gives my mind a wedgie.  Lucky for me  women weren't drafted during the Viet Nam War.  I'd still be in the brig.  As I understand it, you don't get to ask "why" in the military.  "Why are we risking out lives to take that little hill, sir?"  "Why exactly do we want this country, sir?"  "Are you sure we're going in the right direction, sir, cause that rice paddy looks just like the one we passed an hour ago?"  Nope.  I'd be writing my memoirs on toilet paper and trading Tampons for cigarettes
Let's look at male honor in another situation.  Let's say, dad, that your six year old son is being bullied by that Neanderthal neighbor's kid.  Let's call him Eugene.  Eugene wants your son to eat a dog turd.  "My son will not eat a dog turd if I have anything to say about it," you sputter.  "Get over here Junior and let's talk about standing up for yourself."  So you lecture mini you about not doing stupid things just because some big moron is telling you to do it. 

Flash forward thirteen years.  Eugene is telling your son to get in the boat and go across the river.  Hmmm.  Sounds like eating a dog turd to me.  Let me tell you something about female honor.  I didn't raise my boys to be killing machines, and I certainly didn't raise them to follow Eugene's orders.  I taught them to not pull wings off flies and to help short people get items from the top shelf in the grocery.  I taught them to think for themselves so that the Eugene's of the world wouldn't force them into eating unsavory items.  As Forrest Gump would say, "And that's all I have to say about that."

I'm not sure how having a bad retail day pushed me into this rant, but it did.  If tomorrow turns out to be miserable, I will be attacking our health care system.  Stay tuned.      


Friday, November 19, 2010

Phun Phriday and Bison Poo

My buddy, Scott, at scottlawphotography.com., does this Phun Phriday thing which is lots of phun.  Of course he's a prophessional photographer.  I'm not, but that won't stop me.  I'm phearless.  I should stop the "ph" stuff, but I can't.  I'm phrankly powerless.

Since I haven't done anything phun today, I thought I would do a photo retrospective of my phascination with bison poo in Yellowstone.  If you're new here, I did a semi-disastrous work trip to Yellowstone Park a while back.  The result...a broken tooth and lots of pics of bison poo.

Let me explain that I'm not usually interested in scat, poo, excrement, etc.  It's just that there was so phlipping much of it.  Bison roam freely, in large numbers and honestly, they are just big scary cattle.  If you grew up on a pharm, you know that you don't walk around randomly with your head in the clouds.  If you do, you will walk with your feet in the poo.

Now this is your rather phresh bison poo.  It's about the size of a cantaloupe. 

This is the dried out version of bison poo.  At this point, one could consider trying a poo toss.  Not advisable unless one is heavily gloved or totally wasted.

This is the artsy photo of bison poo.  The snow on top adds the needed contrast.  What do you think, Scott?  Is it prize worthy?

I've titled this one "Pen in Poo."  It speaks for itself.

And finally, a Christmas ornament made out of bison poo.  You can buy this for yourself at dunganddunger.com.  I am begging you to buy some Christmas presents from these pholks.  I truly believe that if someone doesn't come up with some new uses for bison poo, we will be up to our necks in the shit.

And when the volcano lurking under Yellowstone phinally blows, there will be poo phlung from coast to coast.  Not that it will matter at that point, but if I'm going to be wiped out by a volcano, I don't want to be covered in bison poo while I'm waiting to die.

Sorry, Scott.  If you were expecting something a little classier, I've phailed you.  But it was phun!

If you are really bored, you can still see my Yellowstone adventure at yellowstonedreaming.blogspot.com.  I haven't been sued yet by my phormer employers, so I think it's safe.  Happy Phun Phriday to you all and to all a good night!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nursing Home Blues Revisited

O.K., I was way too nice yesterday when I blogged about Thanksgiving at my mom's nursing home.  There were things I wanted to say, but I always get in trouble, and I'm so tired of getting called on the carpet at my age.  Am I going to let that stop me?  No.  So here goes.

Things that make me sure I'll just crawl out into the back acres, swallow broken glass and die before I go to a nursing home:

1.  Shower time.  As far as I know, they put you on a chair in the shower and hose you off.  Showers are personal because, well, you're naked for heaven's sake.  I'd shower with my clothes on now if I could.  There are parts of my body I never want to look at again.  I'm glad I can't turn my head far enough to check out my ass.  Unfortunately, I can see my front but if I look at the shower ceiling, all is well.  So, you get hosed off by someone who should return the favor by being naked themselves because that would take away a little of the humiliation.  And this extreme fun only happens once or twice a week.  I shower every day.  I can't imagine making do with sponge baths in between.  No wonder every nursing home resident's hair looks like they just woke up from under the bridge.

2.  Stray hairs.  I pluck those little suckers off my lip every day.  I can't see most of them but I give it a good try and in the privacy of my bathroom.  I looked in my rear view mirror one day right before I was heading to the dentist and in the harsh daylight I found four or five that just jumped off my face.  I actually went to the drugstore to get some tweezers before my appointment. I know it's vanity, but I don't want my children visiting me at the home when I'm sporting a full mustache.  Knowing them, they'll buy me mustache wax for Christmas.  Who can you ask to pluck those suckers anyway?  The nursing home staff will shave you if you ask, but...sputter, gasp...I really don't want to get shaved right after old Mr. Grimes and grumpy Mr. Jones.

3.  Privacy or lack thereof.  Most of the time you share a room, divided by a curtain.  If you fart, you hope your roommate is deaf.  If you cry, because you're so damn miserable, someone sees you and stuffs another Ativan down your throat.  Well, maybe being drugged up isn't a bad plan if you're in a nursing home.  Of course you can throw in number 1, the shower, and add assistance with getting on the john.  No one at this point in my life has had access to the state of my toilet deposits.  I prefer not to share.

4.  The staff.  Let me just say, I love the people at my mom's home, but I have to be honest.  There are folks working in nursing homes I wouldn't let near a dead plant.  Remember, I sell medical uniforms and I wait on them in my store. They give their infants Mountain Dew in baby bottles and they scream at their children like fish wives.  They don't strike me as patient, compassionate, or even remotely literate.  Yes, these are minimum wage jobs, which I find appalling because it's extremely hard work, but if I'm stuck in a home, I can't do much about their working conditions. 

5.  You have to be a nice patient.  This one will be hard for me.  Naturally, everyone likes the pleasant resident who never asks for anything and plays the sweet little old lady role. Think about it.  Do you want to wear a smile all day just to get extra special treatment?  I can feel little blood vessels exploding in my head just thinking about it.

6.  Do gooders.  Church groups love to visit nursing home residents.  They lean over them with their condescending smiles and syrupy sweet talk.  They pat and hug and hand out little church pamphlets.  Sometimes they drag their frightened toddlers with them because old people love to see the children.  I don't want to be patted.  I don't want to frighten children with my sprouting face hair. 

I'm stopping here but I haven't even touched on the food or the wacked out behavior of the other residents.  Let me sum it up.  Living in a nursing home is a cross between "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Groundhog Day."  Need I say more.  Be nice to your children. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nursing Home Blues

That's exactly how I feel mom.  Let us out of here.  But we can't leave because your wheelchair is trapped between two tables and a dozen other wheelchairs.  We have to stay until everyone else down the table leaves.  Can I really chew my leg off?  How long would it take?

It's the morning after the nursing home Thanksgiving dinner. I'm wondering if  the high carb meal we had will successfully pass through my system or will it just migrate to my thighs?

At least my meal wasn't pureed.  Picture your Thanksgiving dinner in a blender... ahhhh...green bean casserole, turkey, dressing.  Seconds anyone?

Mom and I have been doing this for seven years.  This year was a little different.  She looked at me pleasantly and said, "You look familiar."  Stop right now if you are going to say "poor baby" and ask me how that makes me feel.  I know you are all sensitive souls, but let me reassure you that this is better than the way it used to be.  She doesn't complain any more about imaginary illnesses, and she doesn't know that she has no short term memory.  She loves the people who take care of her so if she thinks I'm just a nice, slightly familiar person who comes to visit her, that's fine with me.

Oh yes, mom is 89, soon to be 90 and she's in better shape now than she was a year ago.  Anyone else out there afraid their parents will live longer than them?  Her nursing home is full of ladies in their 90's whose daughters drag their arthritic bodies there for visits.  The mothers still rag on them and order them around.  That's why I'm not horribly upset about my mother's lack of recognition.  Being an only child, I've paid my dues when it comes to taking the brunt of parental interference.  I'm just a friendly visitor.  My record is wiped clean.  Mom doesn't remember the things I did when I was younger.  I'm off the hook forever.

Enough about me.  How are the rest of you doing with the aging parent scenario?  The sandwich generation metaphor isn't accurate.  Sometimes it's more like two elevator doors slamming in on both sides of you.  Having teenagers and elderly parents at the same time is not for the weak of spirit.  I made it through without medication, so can you.

I still have the Christmas party at the nursing home to look forward to.  I'll be sure to share the pictures. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Car Repair in a Bad Economy

No, I didn't hit a deer or break down on the highway.  My youngest son pointed out that my car had a bald tire.  That's never good.  It's never just a tire.  It's never just a tire and a realignment.  And it's never under $500.

We don't have an extra $500 in the sock drawer, but I have this weird thing about driving a car that could send me careening into oncoming traffic.  Very reluctantly, hubby and I went to our local good old boy tire shop to get the verdict.

Now I have no idea what this means, but the struts have to be replaced and I need two new tires.  Yes, it's expensive.  Can anyone loan me $600 until two weeks from never?  I'm good for it.  Why am I telling you this?  I know you aren't sending me the money.  Unless you really want to.

There is a point to this story bigger than my inability to eat for six weeks and here it is.  Hubby and I chatted with Steve, the owner of the tire place cause that's what we do here in rural Ohio.  He told us that several times a day people leave his shop with cars unsafe to drive.  They can't afford the repairs.  He told us about people driving off with steel poking through their tires.  Their shocks are shot.  The tire rods need replaced and this is dangerous because bad ones cause erratic steering.

Steve worries because he knows that his customers are driving their families in these cars.  They are also creating potential hazards to everyone else on the road.  One of his customers didn't even make it out of his lot before the tires folded up.  I'm trying with difficulty to picture this, but I do know that I don't want to be driving down the highway with one of these cars in front of me.

Things are really bad out here in the real world.  It's hard to see because people are still eating at restaurants and shopping at Walmart.  Reporters are telling us that jobs have been added this quarter.  Retailers are advertising for Christmas with images of happy, well-dressed people loaded down with their bargains for the family.  But in reality, people are choosing to not repair their cars or to not see the doctor because there is no money for it. 

Steve told us that everyone else in the car business has told him the same thing.  They worry about the ethics of letting people drive off in lethal weapons.  On the other hand, they worry that the government will force them someday to report these people.  If that happens, he will need to hire an armed guard to protect him from angry customers who need their cars to get to their minimum wage jobs.

Steve also pointed out that buying a good used car is very difficult right now.  People are not doing routine maintenance which means you could be buying a time bomb of repairs.  So you don't have the credit rating to buy a new car, and your used car options are slim.  I'm seeing a horse and carriage in my future.

Isn't it interesting that a trip to the tire store can turn into a discussion of the economy?  It's another indicator of where we are right now, and it isn't going to get better anytime soon.  There aren't any jobs being created in my neck of the woods. 

I've pretty much given up on flying...can't afford it...don't want to be patted down...worried that my pilot is making less money than my garbage man.  Now, I can worry about the cars racing toward me on our two lane country roads.  Will their tires fly off as we pass each other?  It reminds me of a home visit I made many years ago when I worked for hospice.  The patient told me that her husband was legally blind.  I didn't see him in the house and innocently asked where he was.  "He drove into town," she said.  I lingered there until he came home.

I'll try not to obsess.  I have to drive and agoraphobia is not in my future.  It just makes you think.  Maybe a little too much.