Saturday, August 30, 2008

speaking volumes

I work in retail. Not my life's pursuit. It is however, a pretty rich source of daily entertainment for me. People are amazing on so many levels. Some you want to hug. Some you want to kick. Some come in and spend more on three paintings than I make in a year. Some can't seem to live another moment without purchasing a greeting card. And all those in between.

Of course, no matter what the financial situation seems to be, few of them actually say the word please. In fact, out of the first 20 customers yesterday, only one said please. Disappointing. But on to the story.

Sometimes you can have short conversations with customers while they are waiting for their gifts to be wrapped or while they are browsing. One couple spent an hour picking a number of little gifts and chatting with me while it was relatively slow. The last item selected was, of course, a bookmark. We have a container of very cool inlaid Mitercraft wooden ones on the sales desk and they have the effect of causing all those who see them to empty out the container, line them all up and systematically eliminate those deemed unworthy until, at last, the mother of all bookmarks is found and proudly handed over to be placed, oh so carefully, into a plastic sleeve to safeguard this most wonderful of treasures against the cruel world of traveling home to CT. Or PA. Or NJ.

This is not meant to degrade the lowly bookmark. Indeed, I have at least 100 lingering in books from here to CO. And always buy more. You see, I have a problem. I love books. And I buy them. Lots of books. My husband calls the bookstore "the babysitter" and when we are out doing errands for him (lumber yard, building centers, etc.) he always kindly offers to drop me off at the babysitter while he's busy. I can be entertained in this way for hours. The library has the same effect on me. Currently I have three books going, a book on my iPod and an audio book in the car's CD player. Oh, there's a book in the car too just in case I get stuck somewhere. My parents keep blankets and flashlights in their car for when they get stuck. Weird.

Back to the couple. While making his final bookmark selection, the husband mentioned going to Tim's Used Books in Ptown. So I commented, "you can never have too many bookmarks. Tim's is one of my all-time favorite places." The husband grinned hugely and said "me too!" (Note: couple was not native to this area and not everyone knows about this hidden treasure of bookdom). The wife looked at me and said "you read?" Why yes, yes I do. It was a skill learned early in my education actually. The fact that I look like a librarian is clearly meant to deceive you into believing I am an ignoramus incapable of working outside of the retail arena. Let me go back to my monosyllabic existence under this rock with my B.A. and M.A. degrees. Ha! That will teach you to judge this book by it's cover.

I am quite sure these thoughts was clearly displayed on my face (it's been noted that I have a "glass face") because the husband started immediately chatting about books, and what he's read lately and that he has the same problem with books that I do. The wife just looked puzzled. Maybe she's the one that goes to the lumber yard while he's at the babysitters'?

Why should it surprise anyone that someone else can read? Is it that no one does anymore? Parents have no time to read bedtime stories. College students download textbooks onto their iPods - no more slogging to the library before exams. Even on the beach, the destination of many a clandestinely read trashy novel, books are few a far between. Whatever happened to the whole concept of books? They represent a part of our society that is deemed outdated and has now been electronically, and maybe genetically, engineered to fit into our lives while losing the flavor in the process.

Take a moment to read a book to a child and see what happens. Take 10 minutes for yourself and pick one up and read a chapter. You'll be surprised.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

cape cod turkey?

I do like turkey. Smothered in all the goodness that comes with the tradition of Thanksgiving. Not so much in a sandwich or sausage. Oh my, I am hungry again apparently.

Early this morning as I was careening to a tea date at the South Wellfleet General Store, I almost provided the holiday dinner in advance. Directly in my path were a dozen wild turkeys. Eight of which were youngsters/large chicks? What does one call a mostly grown up turkey anyway?

Turkey factoid: European explorers took Wild Turkeys to Europe from Mexico in the early 1500s. They were so successfully domesticated in Europe that English colonists brought them back with them when they settled on the Atlantic Coast. The domestic form has retained the white tail tip of the original Mexican subspecies, and that character can be used to distinguish wandering barnyard birds from wild turkeys which have chestnut-brown tail tips.

Historical note: What is Cape Cod Turkey? Dried salt cod does not make a very exciting of dish, so 17th & 18th century New Englanders took to calling it (facetiously) Cape Cod turkey. Here's the recipe: Mix oysters, shrimp, bread cubes with spices; onion and garlic. Add wine and oil. Wash Cod inside and out leaving moist. Stuff with dressing and bake at 10 minutes on bake (medium) in microwave until fish flakes. Turn once halfway through cook time.

I need lunch.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

heroism against the rudeness

Ok, so further entertainment from the store. A couple walks into the store and he promptly states "I need to use your bathroom." Well, like so many other businesses here in Town, we are prohibited by that same Town to allow the public to use their bathroom if it hasn't been inspected by the Health Department. Also, the thought of the great unwashed public using this already yukky loo skeeves me out. So I give my usual response to the oft asked question, "I'm sorry, we do not have a public bathroom. There is a restaurant about 500 yards away with a public toilet."

He goes outside and pees on the side of the building. OMG. He was about 50 and should have (hopefully) known better, or he could have at least gone around back so no one could see (like all the traffic on Route 6 driving by at a snail's pace); he just ranked right up there in the DEE-sgusting category. I certainly was not going to touch his money or credit card if he hadn't washed his hands now - EEEWWWW.

His wife calmly kept shopping.

When he came back into the store, I said, "I'm sorry, I'm going to have to ask you both to leave. Using the side of our building as your toilet is unacceptable. Please shop elsewhere." (See, I said please!)

They both gaped at me, looked at each other, and left.

Do you think that this was the first time anyone called them out?

the magic word

Today at work I was again reminded how it seems that no one says the word please anymore. Or thank you. Or excuse me. Why is is that I am more surprised when someone actually says these small magic words then when they fail to? Hmmm.

"May I please try/see/touch this thingamabob?" has become "I want this." Oh really. I want a million dollars but that has about as much chance of happening as your saying please apparently. Rudenesss is becoming dreadfully commonplace. And that is simply unacceptable.

Rude people act rude because they think it is ok or that they can get away with it, and they will continue to do so until something makes them think otherwise. Every time you have the opportunity to confront rudeness, you have a chance to help reform that person’s behavior. It's like training small children. Be constant and consistent.

In all likelihood, it will take many confrontations to break the habit of rudeness. And, as we all are all probably familiar, it is much easier for an established habit be reinforced than broken. When you do not confront rudeness, not only do you forgo a chance at helping stop it – you actually encourage it by giving that person the positive reinforcement of getting away with it.

When was the last time you said, "please may I..." to the lady taking your order at the sandwich shop? Or "excuse me" when you bumped into someone or cut in front of them? If you were so rude as to cut? If we all made a concerted effort to think before we speak and act, and use the manners that our parents drilled into us as children, wouldn't the world be a little bit better?

Be the change you want to see in the world. Please.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

living in limbo

Coming back from CO posed one major problem - housing. We gave up a spectacularly beautiful apartment here when we moved out West. When we decided to come back, there was that terrible housing specter looming in front of us. Choosing to live in a seasonal community presents the issue of housing availability for more than a week at a time. And under $1,000 a week.

My friend from college let me stay with her when I came back from CO in May and that was fine except that my commute to a hourly job was 50 miles a day. Gas prices being what they are, I started losing money in a hurry just driving to work. My husband and I had agreed to rent a room from a brother of a friend (which cuts the commute to less than 10 miles a day) for an ungodly amount of money a month - oh well, can’t win for trying. I was back in the money pit that actually started during the winter (see previous entries). Finally hubby came back from CO in July so we could start looking for a house.

Turns out that this friend is going through a long and bloody divorce and we walked into the middle of combat. We live in a renovated garage with our two cats and the the house is now on the market to pay off the divorce. Lots of people constantly in and out with showings, his kids’ schedules and visitations (he does love his kids a ton which is awesome) and various other sociabilities. EGADS, what have we gotten into? On top of his constantly calling creditors, now the cable has been turned off. Waiting for the electricity to go next.

As social as we are and as much as we enjoy our friends, our “home,” wherever that may be, must be our sanctuary at all times. I’ve worked hard to keep that barrier against negativity, ill will, and bad intentions up and functioning around whichever sacred space I/we call home. All the places I’ve lived have been a haven in a world of chaos. I have to say, that despite the hours of cleansing and casting, this place is sucking us dry. There is so much discord and negative energy here, which I feel has been here for a long time, that this hurdle seems unbearably hard to overcome. We are finding ourselves depressed and unmotivated. Negative and apathetic. I can’t even cook here. I like to cook and take care of my little family and that is impossible to do here. When a Virgo girl can't take care of and nurture something, she may as well evaporate. So we decided to leave. Back to the rental issue noted earlier. A vicious cycle indeed.

Through all of this, we have decided to stay here and not go back to CO. This is where our friends and family are, and if you’ve read my blog, you know how important they are to us. Besides, as one friend who lived in Vail recently noted, Vail is full of vampires anyway, so we shouldn’t be sad to be away from there. But I DO love CO. Really. And I want to put the house on a flatbed and haul it out here. Tough decision. That lead to “let’s buy a house here” and so we’ve been looking, but not finding anything. Compounded with looking for the rental housing - the spiral continues.

But then, a small ray of light pierced the dark clouds. Trout Towers had a major personnel exodus resulting in the family being able to move into more spacious accommodations on the first floor. Which led to me jokingly saying to Lady Trout, now we can move in. Haha. Careful what you wish for as her response was, when can you arrive? OMG - really? REALLY???? Should I start the squealing now? Don’t joke with a Virgo about these things. As luck would have it, she really wasn’t kidding and we are indeed moving to Trout Towers. OMG again. Get us out of here. Let the squealing commence.

This isn’t a “out of the frying pan and into the fire” kind of thing which I usually get myself into, but a bona fide wonderful and unforeseeable turn of events. This is great for everyone. They don’t want tenants who will stay for years, we need a place to call home until we either find or build in the next several months and the rent exchange works out nicely to help keep the chickens fed. We like eggs.

More to come.

getting up to date

Recently I was told that it had been noticed that my blogging was severely lacking. I just don’t know where the time goes. What is it “they” say about good intentions?? Apparently I have fans of my blog so here is my intention to keep it up to date!