Friday, April 30, 2010

Our shared secret shame, or, out of the People closet

posted Sun, 14 Jan 2007

I don’t know how SH knew – it couldn’t have been the almost imperceptible, subtleissimo hints I have been dropping for the past year, like, “Steve gave Megan a subscription to People magazine for her birthday one year – isn’t that the best present you’ve ever heard of?” – but he got me a – guess! – subscription to People magazine for Christmas. The first issue arrived yesterday.

How did he know? Does this man get me or what? Now I don’t have to pick the longest line at the grocery store any more.

After relentless interrogation, I finally got SH to admit that “everyone likes to read a bit of gossip now and then” and “do you really think Justin and Cameron have broken up?” This from the man who graduated magna cum laude with a degree in electrical engineering at the age of 20.

But now I am suspicious. I thought this present was about me. But last night, when I went to my desk to get said magazine – where I had been saving it all day, untouched – so I could open the virgin issue myself, I could not find it. Odd. I knew I had left it on my desk, next to my computer. Where could it be? Maybe I had already moved it to my room and had forgotten about it, although that is not like me. I don’t lose things.

I walked back to my room and what did I see but SH reading it.


He was reading my magazine.

And he didn’t hand it over immediately with some lame excuse like, “I was warming it up for you.”

No. He kept reading. I had to rip the magazine out of his hands.

This is not such a bad thing. SH likes to stay up late in smoky bars; I don’t drink, I hate smoke, and I like to go to bed early. He likes to eat things I would use as bait. He accumulates stuff; I hate clutter.

At last, we have something in common.

Relationship hint #327

posted Sat, 13 Jan 2007

When your sweetie is rubbing your back and kissing your neck, do not look at the window molding and say – out loud – “I really need to dust up there.”

Takes one to know one

posted Fri, 12 Jan 2007

I remembered this last night.

I had just checked out a customer and her 12-year-old daughter. They walked away without their purchases and I had to run after them. The mom got a little snappish with the daughter for forgetting and the daughter just giggled in response. The next customer was a grouchy old lady.

Grouchy old lady [glaring after girl]: That’s why I’m so glad I never had daughters.

Me: Why?

GOL: Because girls are born with PMS.

Me: She seemed like a sweet kid to me.

GOL: Nope. They all have PMS, all the time. They’re all impossible to deal with.

Me [shrugging]: I’m not impossible to deal with. I’m just fine – especially as long as I’m kept in chocolate.

GOL: Well, my daughters-in-law are bitches.

Me [thinking]: And I wonder why that is?

Thursday, April 29, 2010


posted Mon, 08 Jan 2007

Harpo nailed this one.

Me [casually]: Margaret, a customer yesterday was impugning your reputation.

Margaret: What are you talking about?

I tell her the story about the studded jeans and jacket.

Margaret [snorts]: I know exactly who you’re talking about. Curly hair? Dana Buchman jeans? Her mom shops here – name’s Georgia. She tried to return that stuff with me and I wouldn’t take it back.

Me: She said she was going to come back when you were working.

Margaret: Ha. She’s avoiding me. She knows I won’t even take it back, much less re-sell it to her.

[twenty minutes later]

Margaret: Would you like a muffin? I baked some this morning.

Deepening my love for The People

posted Sun, 07 Jan 2007

Customer presents me with a pair of fancy studded jeans and jeans jacket. The receipt is from May 2005. This is the condensed version of the story. You are getting only part of the idiocy.

Customer: These are actually my sister’s. She lives out of town. I want to return the jeans and have them credited to her account and return the jacket and then buy it and put it on mine.

Me: Ummm… Why don’t you just give the money for the jacket directly to your sister?

Customer: Because the price has probably gone down since she bought it.

Me [rolling my eyes in my mind, annoyed that this woman is trying to scam The Store]: Ma’am, these items are not showing in the system because it’s been more than 180 days since they were purchased. [On the back of the receipt, it says you are allowed to return unworn items within 90 days of purchase.]

Susan (another Store employee): You need to call a manager about that.

I call a manager, who tells me to do the return at the price on the receipt.

Me: Susan, how do I get the price to re-sell the jacket to her? [When I scan the jacket as if it were a current product, I get the price of one penny, which means it has been purged and that I am not allowed to sell it. But I have seen it done with items found in the store and apparently, this customer has as well. I am not going to fight with her. Let the manager do it.]

Susan: You can’t. Once it’s been pennied out, you can’t sell it.

Customer: Can’t you ask that manager how to do it? Or should I just come back tomorrow when Margaret will be here?

Me [Margaret will do this for her? Without management approval? That’s a violation of store policy! But I call a manager and she comes over. ]

Manager: Ma’am, we will give your money back on these items but we will not re-sell them to you at a lower price.

Customer [deep, martyred sigh]: Fine. I’ll return the pants and deal with the jacket later when I can see Margaret.

Me [I go through everything necessary to return the pants, which is a pain in the neck for something out of the system]: Ma’am, because it’s been so long since this item was purchased, we will need to give you a gift card for this. We cannot put the credit back on your sister’s Store card.

Customer: Oh, just forget it. I’ll do the whole thing with Margaret. When is she here again?

But it`s material

posted Sat, 06 Jan 2007

I’m starting to dislike people.

That’s what too much time in retail will do to you.

No, ma’am, I cannot reuse the $10 off coupon that the previous customer just gave me. Yes, technically, I could. It would scan because there is not a unique UPC, but once I scan it, I am supposed to put it in the register envelope for audit. You know – so the register receipts balance with the sales. I suppose I could do it just to make you happy – just as I could pull a $10 bill out of the cash drawer and hand it to you to make you happy. But I like having a job. Sorry.

People – would it be too much trouble to take your half-full cups of soda to a trash can? Must you leave them on the floor where they can be kicked over so the contents spill onto the carpet and the floor?

And the empty French fry containers? Again, we do have trash cans in The Store. And they are free for customer use. It is not necessary to leave that Chick Fil A French fry box underneath the Calvin Klein jeans table. Really. It’s not.

Why is there a Cherokee sweater hanging on my rail? We don’t sell that brand? It’s a Target brand! Did someone let a customer return an item we don’t even carry? It doesn’t even have tags on it! How do you even do that? No receipt, no tags. Maybe someone just left it in the dressing room. But when’s the last time I forgot my clothes in the dressing room? You mean people switch clothes out in the dressing room? And steal the new ones?

That is so tacky.

Trying to catch flies with vinegar

posted Mon, 01 Jan 2007

4:56 Four minutes before I am supposed to clock out. Phone rings.

Me: Good afternoon, The Sto—

Woman, agitated: I want to talk to the manager of women’s!

Me: OK, I’ll transfer you.

4:58 Phone rings again

Me: Good afterno—

Same woman, seething: I want to talk to the store manager!

Me: Ma’am, I’ll need to send you through my manager.

Woman: Is it that man?

Me: Yes, ma’am.

Woman: Well, he hung up on me.

Me [Charlie hung up on her? Then I remember that his cellphone battery is running down and the call I had with him earlier got cut off.]: Ma’am, his phone has been cutting out today.

Woman: Well, that may or may not be true, but that’s not my problem, is it? You get me the store manager or the corporate office and I mean right now. [Incidentally, the corporate office is in California. And probably not open on New Year's Day. Just a hunch.]

Me: Ma’am, let me find that extension for you. [I hold the phone in the air while I decide I really don’t care much about someone who is practically screaming at me and calling me a liar, especially while I have a nice customer standing in front of me. I take my time.]

Me: Ma’am, that extension is x1234 in case this call doesn’t go through right away.

Woman [threatening]: If it doesn’t go through, I’ll be calling you back.

5:02 I finish with the customers in my line and clock out before anyone else shows up. As I am walking to the storeroom to get my coat, the phone rings. I ignore it.

5:04 As I walk out of the storeroom, Tomeka is answering the phone. I see her roll her eyes, transfer the call and hang up.

Me: Was that the angry lady?

Tomeka: Yeah. She wanted to talk to the store manager, but I don’t think Belinda is even here today. I sent her to Charlie. She want to talk to the corporate office, she can look the number up in the phone book herself. I don’t have time to mess with people who be yelling at me.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Too dumb to come in from the rain

posted Sun, 31 Dec 2006

It poured yesterday, which made me think it wasn’t so bad that I spent nine hours working at The Store, because it’s not like I could have gone running anyhow, and there was the added advantage that not so many people came out to shop. Yes, a bad, bad thought – that I would wish customers away, but all I wanted was a chance to put away some of the clothes that had been returned, get the racks organized (people stick the clothes that all of a sudden they don’t want on the nearest rack – jeans amidst the formal evening gowns – the department store equivalent of putting that pint of ice cream behind a box of Cheerios), and dress the mannequins that had been denuded by customers looking for a size 4 – like the woman who was looking for something to wear to her son’s wedding last night. She shopped on Friday for that. Can you say “passive-aggressive?”

I also wanted a chance to look for “that blue dress” that the woman in Austin called about.

Yes. People (women people) call from other cities to ask if The Store (which is a national chain) has a certain item that has sold out at their local Store. The system shows it’s at our Store! Sure. The system has a 48-hour lag time. What are the odds that someone has bought that blue dress in the past two days – that one blue dress that shows in the system – in the two days before New Year’s Eve? Oh, not high at all!

But womenfolk will call and I will have five customers in line but Store policy is that you have to answer the phone and do it in a professional manor, by golly (along with a major systems upgrade, that policy is something I will change when I am CEO of The Store), and when I pick up the phone, it’s either a personal call for someone who works somewhere in the Store (but the caller doesn’t know which department or the extension for the department) or it’s someone wanting to know if we have “that blue dress.”

And I am supposed to go look for that blue dress in a sea of dresses that look like a tornado has struck because there has been no time to get things organized.

So yes, I was happy that it was raining buckets yesterday because I wanted to clean that place up. But as I was putting away short black cocktail dresses – some 50% off, some regular price, I felt water falling on my head. I looked up and discovered water was coming from the ceiling. Great. I saw the stains and realized this was an old leak.

I moved the racks away from the leaks, then called the manager on duty so she could send someone with some sort of water-capturing devices to keep the carpet from getting wet and eventually mildewed, stinky and ruined. She told me to move the racks and to put trash cans under the drips. I told her – with some impatience – that I had already moved the clothes.

Her instructions to move the clothes reminded me of when I worked as a temp secretary at the World Bank. The head secretary had asked me to send a fax.

“OK,” I said.

“But you need to wait for the fax confirmation notice,” she said.

“Yeah, I know,” I told her.

“If it doesn’t say ‘OK,’ you need to re-send the fax.”

“Yes, I know.”

“If it says ‘OK,’ the fax went through, so you don’t have to do anything else.”

“I know, I know.” I tried to pull the fax out of her hand

“Remember, wait for the fax confirmation!

I rolled my eyes and sighed deeply. “You must be used to working with people who just aren’t too bright.”

Having someone tell me to move thousands of dollars of clothes that were about to be ruined because of water coming in from the ceiling – just how stupid did she think I was?

When I returned to the register to get the trash cans, I told Margaret about the problem. Oh yes, she told me, there’s a leak in the long dresses, too.

When she said that, I assumed she was taking ownership of that leak. I left the third trash can for her and took the first two for my leaks. Then I went to lunch.

When I returned, I noticed the third trash can was still under the register. She hadn’t put it out. When I went to find the leak, I discovered that she had not moved the racks out of the way of the dripping water, either.

Maybe some people are stupid enough that they have to be told such things.

Haven`t they heard of Depends?

posted Sat, 30 Dec 2006

So I was talking to the cleaning lady while I was in the bathroom and bemoaning the lack of home training in some people (you know the ones – the ones who pee all over the toilet seat and then don’t wipe it up) and I mentioned the sorry state of the other ladies’ room and that if I knew the woman who had left it thus, I would slap her upside the head.

“Well, now, some of them old ladies, they cain’t hold it. When they gots to go, they gots to go,” she said. “Some of them be having problems in the dressing rooms, even. They just be so old they just gots to go and they ain’t nothing they can do about it.”

Git along little dogie

posted Fri, 29 Dec 2006

How well do you have to know someone to feel comfortable nudging her out of the way without saying “excuse me?” You know what I mean – when someone – say me – is standing in front of a drawer and someone else – let’s call her “Margaret” – wants to open that drawer and merely slaps the back of her right hand against my hip, much as one would do to a horse, to get me to move, all without saying a word.

Is this something one does only with one’s family and closest friends? Or can the silent nudge be done with relative strangers?

I have been trying to think of how I do this, for I, of course, am the paragon of all virtue and the way I do things is the model of perfection.

I think I say “excuse me,” even to my family and friends. I don’t think I do the silent nudge. I know I say “excuse me” to SH. Actually, I say, “excuse me, sweetie,” to him, but I say “excuse me” to everyone else.

Why this concern, you ask? Well, I was nudged today. And it bugged me.

I had to work in Dresses (you don’t want to work in Dresses two days before New Year’s Eve – trust me on this) because The Store is short staffed because a bunch of the seasonal help has decided that working at The Store is not for them so they have stopped showing up for work without as much as a go to heck, which really, is good for me because I can get more hours, but it means I have to leave Ralph Lauren, Anne Klein, Jones New York and Tahari to go to nasty departments where people pee in the dressing rooms. (Although why this happens in a department where you would spend a couple hundred dollars on a dress I do not know and maybe it happens in the other dressing rooms, too, and I just didn’t know about it.)

So I was stuck in Dresses today. For the first four hours, I was all by myself, which means I didn’t get to put away any of the clothes that were piling up because I was too busy ringing up customers and taking their returns. (Hello! Return news! 1. Once you cut the tags off an evening gown, you can’t return it! 2. If you want to return a $49 blouse that reeks of cigarette smoke, that’s bad enough, but when you try to return a $975 fur stole – Dresses is next to Furs – that smells like it spent a week on the floor of a pool hall, that’s just tacky.)

Then Margaret showed up. Margaret is the regular Dresses (and Suits and Dana Buchman, Calvin Klein and Kenneth Cole) person. Whew! What a relief! Someone who knows where things go and how things work in the department. I was ringing up a customer when she appeared, but as soon as I had a chance, I found her – she was putting away an armful of Dana Buchman – and introduced myself.

“Hi! I’m Class Factotum,” I said as I stuck out my hand. “They asked me to work over here today. I usually work in Lauren.”

She just looked at me as I waited for the traditional response of, “I’m Margaret. Glad to have the help” or something like that. Nothing. She said nothing. Ohh kayyyy.

Oh. Did I mention she reeked of smelly perfume? I’m not liking this lady.

So then we are both ringing customers and it’s busy and I’m in front of my register and I feel something hit my hip and I realize it’s her hand and I step aside because I know what she wants – she wants me to move – but even as I am moving I am thinking, “I cannot believe she just did that! She didn’t even say, ‘excuse me!’ This lady is pure-D rude! I can’t believe I moved for her. How pathetic am I to enable her bad manners!”

So. Is it me or is it rude to hit someone you don’t know to get her to move? I think it’s rude but I’d like some perspective.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ah -- The Public

posted Wed, 27 Dec 2006

11:15 a.m. Customer hands me a blouse with a tag but no receipt. The tag has two bar codes – the UPC code and the control number. The control number is a unique number that is associated with the sales transaction and is linked in the system to the customer’s credit card (always use your credit card! It makes returns like a gajillion times easier) so the receipt isn’t necessary.

Customer: I want to return this.

Me: OK, let me scan it. [I scan the control number and the UPC, but the computer cannot find a transaction associated with the control number. Hmmm…. No receipt. No transaction associated with this control number. Every single other time I have looked up a return this way, I have found the transaction. It’s linked back to the customer’s credit card or, at least, to a cash or check transaction. But this time, it looks like the item was never purchased in the first place, i.e., she picked it up off the rack and brought it to the register to try to return it without buying it first. I am suspicious.]

Me: Ma’am, I am not finding this item in the computer. I’m a temporary employee and not sure how to handle all the variations. Would you like me to call a manager and ask her how I am supposed to do this?

Customer: No.

Me: [I thought so.]


12:40 p.m. The customer, a little old white-haired lady, hands me a 20% off coupon that The Store sent her in the mail. Once it’s activated, it’s good for only one day.

Me: Ma’am, are you aware that once you use this card, you may only use it for one day?

Customer: But I used it yesterday and it worked just fine.

Me: Oh. But no one signed it yesterday.

Customer: I’ve already used it this morning, too.

Me: But you’re only supposed to be able to use it for one day.

Customer: Well, I want today to be the day I use it.

Me: But you already used it yesterday.

Customer: How do you know that?

Me: You just told me and you don’t look like a liar to me.

Customer [glares]: I want today to be the day that I use this coupon.

Me [deep breath, clenched teeth, as I sign the card]: Yes, ma’am.


2:30 p.m., The Store. Customer hands me a coupon for 20% off.

Me: Ma’am, this coupon was only good between 7:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

Customer: What! That’s not fair! Why would a coupon expire at 1:00 p.m.?

Me: To encourage people to come to the store early—

Customer: That’s not fair to the people who shop in the afternoon!

Me [debating whether to discuss the concept of peak pricing, using the examples of movie matinees and subway fares]: No, ma’am.

I can`t wait for my class reunion

posted Wed, 27 Dec 2006

So I’m at the register in moderate sportswear when whom should I see but “Alex,” a woman from the SAP conversion team who was on the eight-member multi-department team I ran when I worked at Consolidated Buggy Whips. I saw Alex at least once a week at our team meetings – the meeting I led. My meeting. My team. We emailed and spoke frequently. I was the project manager, the project designer, the in-charge person, the results getter, the honcho on many projects of which Alex was a beneficiary.

Alex – still employed at Buggy Whips.

Me – not.

Alex got to see me running a cash register. She couldn’t get out of The Store fast enough. On her way to spread the gossip, I suppose. Not that I’ve been keeping this a secret, but I don’t keep in touch with the people from her side of the project.

My humiliation is now complete.

On the naughty list for sure

posted Sat, 23 Dec 2006

All this time, I’ve thought the trashy across the street neighbors had lazy friends who just couldn’t be bothered to turn their cars around to park in front of the trashy neighbors’ house and that’s why they always parked in front of my house and my next-door neighbor’s house.

But no. I just drove up to find someone turning around in my driveway so he could park in front of my next-door neighbor’s house, then go to the trashy across the street peoples’ house – even though there was plenty of space to park in front of their house. OK, OK, so he would have had to park in front of all their trash (one can, three bags and a bunch of lumber) – yes, they have gone back to leaving all their trash on the sidewalk and the “for sale” sign is down, so I don’t know if that means they have sold the house or they have changed their mind – but the trash won’t be picked up until Tuesday, so I don’t think he was worried about blocking the garbagemen.

These people go out of their way not to park in front of the trashy peoples’ house. Why do they do that? Why do they have to park in front of my house and my next-door neighbor’s house? Yes, I know it’s street parking and it’s public parking, but don’t you think it’s good manners (not to mention more convenient) to park in front of the home you are visiting before taking up space in front of a stranger’s house?

I hope they get coal in their stockings tomorrow night. I hope I don't for all the nasty thoughts I have about them.

Monday, April 26, 2010

This must be a union thing

posted Fri, 22 Dec 2006

At my friend Anita’s suggestion, I applied to be a substitute teacher in the Memphis City schools. Apparently, I have been found acceptable and been invited to a two-day orientation – from 8:00 to 4:00 each day – in January. These are the instructions they emailed me:

You need to bring the following documents to orientation: an official copy of your college transcript(s) (photocopies are not acceptable), a recent photo of yourself that we may keep (photocopies are not acceptable), two (2) copies of your driver’s license and social security card (both must be in the same name) it is imperative that you bring copies of these items, we do not have access to a copy machine at the TLA. We will disperse other employment documents that must be completed at orientation, please bring a pen to complete these documents. You cannot begin working as a substitute teacher until all required documents have been submitted.

These are my questions. (I am not even going to address the bad grammar in the note.)

What on earth can they spend two days telling me about babysitting in a classroom? I was a sub in Austin eleven years ago and all I needed there was not to have TB and not to have a criminal record. I think Austin City school kids do a lot better than Memphis City school kids do. I would go to the school, go to the main office, find out which class I was teaching, get the folder, and spend the day keeping the kids from killing each other. Sometimes, there was actually some learning.

Why do they need my social security card? I have been working W2 jobs since I was 14 years old and have never, ever, ever had to show my social security card. Not once. I’ve given my number, but never my card.

I don’t have a card. I’ve never had a card. I have a number, but I don’t have a card. If I have to go through the hassle of getting a card, I might blow off this entire thing. Not worth it.

But this is the most pathetic requirement:

“Please bring a pen.”

It was bad enough when I was completing the online application. The degree to which they gave instructions was insulting. The equivalent instructions for washing dishes would have been, “Now put your hands in the soapy water, hold the dishrag in one hand and the plate in your other hand, and move the rag against the dirty dish. Do that until all the food is removed from the dish. Lift the dish out of the soapy water and move it to the other sink. Turn the water on and rinse the soap off the dish and place it in the drying rack. When all the water has dried off from the plate, put the dish back into the cupboard and close the door.”

Seriously. The instructions were that basic and maybe even more so, which made me wonder about the level of intelligence that they expect from their teachers. Now that I see the reminder to “bring a pen,” I am sure they are accustomed to hiring the mentally challenged. Who walks around in everyday life without a pen in her purse? Who? Who? Who goes to any sort of business meeting without a pen?

OK. Yes. I know. A lot of people. I have been asked more times than I can count to lend pens because I of course am always prepared with at least one pen, if not more. At the airport going through customs, on the plane getting ready to land, half the people don’t have a pen. At The Store, people paying by check don’t have a pen. At the library, they supply those stubby little pencils. My tax dollar, paying for pencils for poor planners.

Penless people!!! Walgreen’s sells pens cheap! Hotels give them away! They are not hard to find!

And you. Memphis City Schools. Shame on you. Shame on you for not having higher expectations. No wonder these schools are in such crummy shape and the students do so poorly. My goodness. If you expect so little out of your teachers, what do you expect from your students?

I guess I’ll find out in 16 long boring unpaid hours.

The customer is not always right

posted Wed, 20 Dec 2006

If you show up at my register at 11:57 p.m.

Three minutes before The Store closes
27 minutes after that Big Voice on the PA started asking you to take your purchases to the nearest cashier
Right when I am about to start closing the register
With an armful of clothes
And ask me to check all the prices
And then decide to buy only two things
And leave the rest of the items on the counter that I was trying to clear
So that four other people now see that this is the only register open and get in line
And two are snotty college girls who tell me I’m being paid overtime anyhow, aren’t I? (I'm not, but even if I were, it wouldn't be worth an extra $1.50)
And one of them has an item without a ticket
And doesn’t understand why I can’t give her a price on it
I mean can’t you look it up by the style or something?
And the woman who is actually in charge of the area walks out at midnight because she has "a ride waiting” and she doesn’t even put the trash cans out
So that instead of leaving The Store at 12:15 I don’t get out until 12:45

Don’t even dream of asking me to pull one of the $10 coupons from today’s paper out of my drawer to re-use for you because sister, it’s not happening. (But yes, she did. And no, I didn't.)

I think I picked the wrong day to quit smoking

posted Wed, 20 Dec 2006

When you are making only $7 an hour after taxes, you look at every discretionary purchase with a very careful eye. A movie – is it really worth almost an hour of putting away clothes that someone has left on the dressing room floor? That chocolate bar – worth half an hour of folding sweaters? A pretzel at the mall stand – worth 25 minutes of putting clothes back on hangers and trying to wrestle them back into the jam-packed sale rack?

I didn’t think this way when I was making zero dollars an hour and spending my savings as if they were water, but there you are.

I decided the other day when I finished my last diet Coke in the pack that I did not need to invest 38 minutes in a new case. That’s just too much wasted. That money could be better spent on dried pinto beans. Four dollars buys about six pounds – whatever – you do the math – of beans, which is a lot of food.

My plan worked great for one day.

Then I had to work late after three days of working long days. So I broke down and spent 65 cents on one soda from the coke machine in the break room – and that’s way more expensive than buying them in bulk. But I thought that was just a one-time lapse. I didn’t need caffeine. Really, I didn’t.

But yesterday, I had hardly any sleep. I worked late the night before and didn’t get home until midnight. Had a hard time sleeping. Then, even though I did not have to be at work until 1:00 so had not set an alarm and was going to sleep gloriously late, my alarm went off. Yes. It was not turned on, but it still went off. At 6:40 a.m. Thank you very much, mechanical glitch.

I turned it off and went back to sleep.

Ten minutes later, the sixth car alarm I have heard in seven years in Memphis in my neighborhood started blaring. Went on for about five minutes before thank God the police or some concerned citizen intervened and the car was saved from certain destruction.

I fell back asleep.

An hour later, with still not enough sleep, the travel alarm clock I had thrown in my lunch bag to take to work to take on my lunch break (no clocks in the mall) went off. The alarm must have been knocked on by my bag of apple quarters. The high-pitched, annoying sound came through my kitchen cabinets, basement steps and bedroom wall to reach me. That’s when I gave up.

Last night, I had to work until midnight. I left for work early just so I could stop for a case of diet Coke. I’m going to need it. It’s a necessary expense.

Chatty Cathy

posted Mon, 18 Dec 2006

I’m sitting on a bench outside of The Store reading a book during my break. A little girl, maybe eight years old, walks over and plops down next to me. I don’t even look up from my book, but she starts talking.

“It’s OK,” she says. “That’s my mama over there on the phone she’s talking to my daddy I mean my granddaddy no my daddy about my granddaddy my grandma passed away after Christmas Christmas last year that is or was it Thanksgiving? and now my granddaddy lives with us he’s been living with us since my grandma passed away but he’s sick too so my mama–”

The mom walks over.

I say, “Politics or sales.”

She laughs and nods.

The girl looks puzzled.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The uber-customers

posted Mon, 18 Dec 2006

So there’s the occasional jerk. Most customers are pretty nice. And some are exceptional:

The woman with the Texas driver’s license (I saw it when I looked up her credit card number) who turns out to be an Aggie. I tell her I went to Rice and UT. We exchange life stories, i.e., I tell her about my job situation. She is a project manager at a local company -- she tells me to look at her company’s website and call her if I see something I like.

The man who is waiting while his wife shops some more after I had checked them out. I didn’t have gift boxes in the size they wanted, so had suggested they go to Gift Wrap. When I see him waiting, I ask if he found the boxes he wanted. We strike up a conversation and I discover – very late into the conversation – that he works at my former employer. He asks what I did there, I tell him, we chat about it. I exhibit no bitterness, no rancor, just matter-of-factness. Say I loved my job, hate that it ended, got a great severance, have to find a new job.

Then I ask what he does. He tells me. I ask his name.

He’s a super-high bigwhig. I mean like his name is the one I would read on the documents hanging on the wall next to the copy machine. That high up. He tells me to call so-and-so, a VP at Other Big Memphis Company, and to use his name. I will. I will.

The woman who turns out to be another Air Force brat who grew up in Bermuda. Well, grew up there as much as a military brat can. There are no other customers waiting, so we talk for a good while and compare brat notes. She has written a book of poems about Bermuda and it’s been published and she is going to Bermuda to sign the book and it’s just so cool and I’m so excited for her. McGraw Hill wants to publish one of the poems in a textbook and it’s just neat that this can happen to a grandmother. She gives me her website, but I don’t have time to look at it when I get home.

But no need! The next day, she returns and gives me a copy of her book as a gift! How nice is that?

The woman who was not treated well by another clerk so came to our counter. Lacy was so much nicer to her that the customer went out into the mall and bought three cookies for her. Lacy shared them with me. Lacy is nicer than I am. Or maybe it's just because I saw the whole thing and she (Lacy) felt like she had to share.

When I`m in charge #58

posted Mon, 18 Dec 2006

If you don’t want to work the Saturday before Christmas (or two Saturdays, really), then just ask to have it off. That way, they can schedule someone who will come to work. Don’t just not show up. Or call and then not show up. (I'm sorry -- how many people out of 20 or so get sick now or have a death in their family now? When there have been no sicknesses or deaths in the past two weeks, four percent of the year? Coincidence? I think not.) Because when you do don't show up, the people who come in on Sunday morning face a huge mess because no one was putting any clothes away for the last four hours that The Store was open.

What you see here is only half the mess. There is another counter and three more tall hanging racks like the one on the far left. That rail in the back (under the wreath) contains clothes to be put back, too. I had already been putting clothes away for an hour when I took this photo.

Oh yeah. People blew off coming into work Sunday, too. If I were in charge, that would be cause for immediate termination.

Call me Sisyphus

What the sweaters sort of look like one minute after I have spent 45 seconds apiece folding each one and putting them in order by color, style, and size. Ten seconds after I am done, there are no wrinkles, the edges line up, and everything is smooth. Someone got to these very quickly but didn’t have time to do too much damage. (I think someone from The Store moved these sweaters from another table, which is why they don't look as good as they would had I folded them.) Probably looked at the gray one on top in the middle shelf and tried to refold it, which is very hard to do if you don’t have the folding table.

What the sweaters look like two minutes after I have spent 45 seconds apiece folding each one and putting them in order by color, style, and size.

"Tolerance" means putting up with jerks, not embracing them

posted Sun, 17 Dec 2006

Customer: Do you have any cashmere sweaters?

Me: Yes, in the center aisle, folded on tables.

Customer: Are they nice?

Me: Um, yes.

Customer [glares at me]: Well, if I had nice cashmere sweaters, I sure wouldn’t have them folded on tables!

Me, considering possible responses:

1. Why don’t you call the CEO and tell him?
2. What would you do, put them on hangers and pull them out of shape?
3. I’ve been on my feet for nine and a half hours. I was supposed to clock out five minutes ago. You’ve made me lose count closing this register. Now I’m going to have to start over again with these one-dollar bills, which are a pain in the neck to count when they’re brand new. Do I look like I give a damn about your opinion of The Store’s merchandising strategy?

Me: [blank stare, count to ten in my head until she goes away]

I need to move to the Men`s Dept

posted Sat, 16 Dec 2006

How women shop:

“Do you have this in a (small, medium, large, zero, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18) or in (purple, pink, blue, yellow, orange, brown, black)?”

“Well, why can’t I find it?” Gee, I don’t know. Could it be because people put things back where they don’t belong? Maybe someone else is trying it on? Or remember I told you the part that the system has a 2-day lag and maybe we really don’t have it after all?

"I really, really, really want it!" Ma’am, would you like me to order it for you from another store? They can send it to your house. There is about a $10 shipping charge. “No.”

“Would you hold these 20 items for me? Yes, I’ll be back to buy them. In half an hour. Really. Really.” They never come back.

Is this all for you, ma’am? “No – let me think.” Wanders off to shop some more. Leaves a stack of stuff on the counter. May or may not return.

“What do you mean these are smalls? I don’t want smalls! How did I get smalls? No, I don’t want to buy smalls. I don’t want these.” Leaves everything on the counter.

Ma’am, should I fold these and put them in the bag for you? “No! I want them on the hangers!” (As if I had suggested gouging out her eyes.)

Would you like to open a Store credit account? You’ll save 20% for opening the account on all purchases today and tomorrow and another 20% on most other items in the store. “No!” (Again, as if I had suggested gouging out her eyes.)

How men shop:

Put stack of stuff on counter. Look at me expectantly. Is this all for you, sir? “Yes." Duh! Why else would I be here?

Would you like me to leave these on the hangers? “No. In the bag is fine." Puzzled. Why would anyone want to carry clothes on a hanger instead of in a bag? It’s harder to carry them on a hanger.

Would you like to open a Store credit account? You’ll save 20% for opening the account on all purchases today and tomorrow and another 20% on most other items in the store. For this purchase, that comes out to about $200. “Sure.”

Remembering disability

posted Fri, 15 Dec 2006

SH is the Rememberer in our relationship. A few months after we started dating, he would say, “It’s been three months since This Event or That Event.”

“Really?” I would muse as I tried to hide the fact that I couldn’t even remember the event in question. “That long, huh?”

Then came the Six Month Anniversary of Our First Kiss. He Remembered me about it. Yes, SH is a guy. And he remembers these things. And I do not. Holy smoke. We had a first kiss? Yes, I suppose we did. Every couple does. I mean, Yes! We did! And it was fabulous! Well, actually, it was. SH is a wonderful kisser. He’s an engineer and anyone who has ever seen “Revenge of the Nerds” knows the truth about engineers.

That’s why he remembers everything, too. That engineer brain tracks everything with computer-like precision. I don’t stand a chance. I’m a language person. I’m all about subtext and relationships (well, in books, anyhow – I don’t do so well with the people kind). Math? Pffft. I gave all that up after calculus and differential equations. The liberal arts is where it’s at. I’ve never even balanced my checkbook. Who needs that stuff?

I’m not big on ritual and formality, either. The only reason I went to my high school graduation is because my parents made me. I didn’t go to my graduate school graduation because why bother? I was going to Europe for the summer and graduation wasn’t until ten days after finals were over and I wasn’t going to stick around for it. I’ve never cared if a boyfriend makes a big deal about Valentine’s Day, especially when BF is wonderful throughout the rest of the year, which he usually is, although I am kind of a stickler for my birthday but that’s because of my college boyfriend birthday trauma, and anniversaries are meh – so what? Especially anniversaries of the three- and six-month variety.

But I am very impressed that SH remembers this stuff and I am trying to get better about remembering so I can keep up. I am very competitive, you know, even though I am a liberal arts person. I did remember the one-year anniversary of our meeting, mostly because it fell very conveniently on Veterans’ Day (or somewhere around there – that’s the beauty of having a blog – you can look this stuff up – we met at our college reunion, so it’s documented), so I sent him an email about it. Then the subsequent one-year anniversaries came right after that, right around Thanksgiving, so I was able to get pretty close – first date, first kiss (which was at the wine shop -- see, I remember!), etc.

But then he tested me and proved he’s still better than I am. He gave me one of my Christmas presents when he was here this weekend – a Christmas ornament.

“Do you remember where I got this?” he asked.

“Nooooooo,” I said. I didn’t know there was going to be a pop quiz.

“We saw it, you liked it and I made you go somewhere else so I could buy it as a surprise,” he said.

“Oh! When we were in England?” I asked hopefully.


“At the arts fair in Milwaukee?”

He shook his head. “No.”

I looked up and to the right, hoping to find the answer on my ceiling. “At the farmers’ market in Florida?”


“Ummmm… At Ilene’s wedding?”


My shoulders slumped. “I give up.”

“At the Pink Palace fair. Remember you waited for me where they were making sorghum? Didn’t you wonder what I was doing for so long?”

“Well, no. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

He rolled his eyes and shook his head. It’s amazing he hasn’t broken up with me yet. It's a good thing I can cook is all I can say.

Eat, drink and be buried

posted Thu, 14 Dec 2006

Me: Lawrence, why are you wearing gloves? It’s gorgeous out here!

Lawrence [my wonderful postman]: Some of these old mailboxes can cut my hands up.

Me: Gee. I’m not allowed to put anything in the mailbox because it’s owned by the post office. Doesn’t that mean the PO should have to maintain it?

Lawrence: Naw. The owner is supposed to maintain it.

Me: So shouldn’t the owner be allowed to put anything she wants into it?

Lawrence: Yeah, I think that rule is kind of stupid myself.

Me: That’s the government, always thinking they know better. Kinda like Tennessee lobbyists wanting to ban smoking everywhere, even in private business.

Lawrence: What’s that all about?

Me: I don’t know. I don’t like cigarette smoke, but if I don’t like the smoke in a restaurant or other business, I don’t have to go there.

Lawrence: That’s right. That’s why there’s “smoking” and “no smoking.” Whatever happened to freedom in this country?

Me: Like that stupid law in Chicago where the restaurants aren’t supposed to sell foie gras or in New York where they’re not allowed to sell trans fat. Why don’t they worry about the guys who are shooting little kids or stealing things? It’s none of their business what I’m putting into my body. They’re not paying my doctor bills.

Lawrence: I know that’s right! Long as they not paying to bury me, they don’t get to tell me what to eat.

Me: You’d think they’d do the math and figure out that the sooner I die, the less social security they have to pay. They should be encouraging people to smoke and eat fat!

Lawrence: If I be paying someone’s social security, I be sending him cigars!

Me: And French fries!

Lawrence: With a brandy chaser!

Nanny Class Factotum

posted Wed, 13 Dec 2006

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m not a parent so I don’t know. I’ll save you guys the trouble of telling me to shut up I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you don’t have to be a parent to know bad parenting when you see it. When you (ahem) accidentally come across a website showing Lisa Marie Presley holding her teenage daughter’s hair back so daughter can kiss a scuzzy-looking guy, it’s pretty easy to sit in righteous judgment and say, “I would never do that!” It’s also pretty simple to condemn Melanie Griffith for lighting her teenage daughter’s cigarette. It’s very easy to say that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes should have gotten married before their kitten was born so as to give a good example to Tom’s other children that having babies out of wedlock is not desirable, even if you are in Hollywood and the normal rules of morality don’t apply, especially if you want a big extravagant wedding for the third time which is a bit vulgar if you ask me but it was Katie’s first marriage, so there is that to consider.

See? Isn’t this fun? And easy! Bad parenting is a cinch to spot once you have the hang of it! All it takes is a little bit of practice.

I am such an expert that I can even spot the subtler violations of good parenting practices. Like last night: 9:30 p.m. Mother shopping. How do I know she’s a mother? Because she is pushing her screaming infant and toddler through The Store. Why is the infant screaming? Oh, probably because he’s either 1) hungry 2) exhausted or 3) wet. Or maybe all of the above. I was tempted to call Child Protective Services. I didn’t, but I wanted to. So I just scowled at her back. I know she could feel the stinging daggers of my eyes and that she was suitably chastened.

No matter what, 9:30 at night is when children under the age of 12 should be at home in bed. Yet you guys would not believe – or maybe you would – how many women are at The Store with their kids at that hour. The poor kids are wiped out. They’re practically falling asleep on the dressing room sofa. It’s a school night. They have to be up at 6:30 or earlier (cross-town bussing in Memphis) the next day. Kids need a lot of sleep. But no. Mom wants to go shopping.

Maybe Mom just can’t afford a babysitter. (Why not just shop on Saturday or Sunday, I ask?) Babysitters here are outrageous. My boot camp colleagues pay $10 an hour! When I was babysitting in high school, I charged one dollar an hour. Minimum wage was about $3.25 back then, I think. Now minimum wage is $5.25 or something. Babysitting rates have gone from being about one-third of minimum wage to being twice as much as minimum wage.

When I asked why the rate had gone up so much faster than inflation, they told me that the girls in their neighborhood don’t need the money and that there are only a few girls who are willing to babysit. Ah. A bunch of spoiled rich girls whose parents aren’t teaching the value of work. Society and the workforce are eagerly awaiting them!

I did not grow up in that environment. I needed the money. If we wanted to buy stuff, like a bicycle or a camera, or go to the movies, we had to pay for it ourselves. Not only that, there was competition – there were plenty of babysitters around on base. The oversupply kept prices down.

That $10 an hour looks pretty good to me. My boot camp friends were complaining about not being able to find sitters. I don’t like to take money from my friends, but you know, I think I might be able to make an exception. The Store pays $9 an hour and there are taxes on top of that. Ten dollars an hour tax free doesn’t sound half bad. And with me, they’d get a babysitter who wouldn’t feed their kids junk, wouldn’t let them watch crappy TV, would put them to bed at a decent hour, would make sure they brush their teeth, wouldn’t light their kids’ cigarettes and wouldn’t let them kiss any scuzzy guys. I think I’m worth the money.

No longer exempt from extra pay

posted Mon, 11 Dec 2006

One of the wonderful things about being an hourly worker is the more hours you work, the more money you make! What a great idea! I haven’t worked under those conditions since I was in college. No, it’s been salary labor since I was 21.

But I got my second paycheck the other day and it was much higher than the $19 (after taxes) I got for my first three hours. I had worked 23 hours and the money was enough to cover last month’s heating bill. This is all right! Yeah, sure, the hourly rate is crummy, but that’s what the work is worth and I can just work more hours. It’s not like I’m doing anything else with the time anyhow. At least at The Store, I am further from my refrigerator. (Although on Saturday, I did discover the candy drawer to the left of the register.)

Last year, my brother, who has his own business, wanted to know how to estimate a job that would involve traveling. “I get to charge for my travel time, right?”

It is to laugh. Sure, in a dream world, professionals get to charge for their travel time. “Will you be working while you’re on the plane or sitting in the airport?” I asked.

“No, but I won’t be at home,” he answered.

“Good luck with that,” I replied.

I remembered the many long hours I had spent in airports, on airplanes and in hotels when I was a salaryman. I had spent weekends at trade shows – they conveniently held them over the weekend so we wouldn’t have to miss work – and more evenings than I cared to remember eating dinner with co-workers and customers when all I really wanted to do was go to the gym and then read a good (or even a bad) book all by myself.

And I never got a penny extra for it.

My boss worked even harder than I did. He was in the office by 6:30 a.m., didn’t leave until 6:00 p.m. or later, came in every weekend and played golf with co-workers. Not only did he not get paid extra, but he lost two jobs – at our former employer and at the place he went after that (a hellish VP at our employer, downsizing/restructuring at his subsequent company). Being good at your job and putting in the extra hours doesn’t guarantee employment, does it? I think about him when I feel like throwing a pity party about my unemployment (technically, I suppose I am now underemployed). He has done everything right and is still sans job. So I guess it’s not me. Now I’m really glad I didn’t work 12-hour days at Consolidated Buggy Whips. Wouldn’t have made a difference. Ten hours (without lunch) were enough. Especially when you don’t get overtime.

Many are called, few are chosen

posted Sun, 10 Dec 2006

I have finally figured out that I am one of the worker bees and not the chief and that is a beautiful thing! Yes, it really is! You know why? Because when you are the lowest person on the totem pole, not only is it completely OK to mix metaphors, but it is also not your responsibility to solve the hard problems.

I used to be one of the in-charge, go-to persons. The one they called when something didn’t work. I was the one who had to fix things. Who had to solve problems. Who had to soothe ruffled feathers, who had to make people happy again, who had to figure out why the stupid program wasn’t working, who had to work through lunch so that a customer could get an order in.

Now instead of being the one who is called, I am the one who calls.

And I like it. At first, I was trying to figure things out by myself. Customers would ask me questions to which I honestly didn’t have the answer. They’d show me an ad and ask where this leather jacket was. Ummm…. Maybe in Moderates? There would be some mysterious code on the register and I didn’t know what to do next. Clear, void, hit all keys in an attempt to solve but to no avail.

Ha. Now I know the secret. Something happens and I can’t figure out the solution within ten seconds, I call a manager.

It’s that simple. I kick the problem upstairs.

I love it.

I smile at the customer and say sweetly, “Ma’am, let me call a manager. He’ll know what to do.” And then I do it. Either I get the answer over the phone or he comes over and solves the problem. Or not. But now the customer has someone else to be mad at. And while she fumes, the manager will do something like gives her a 50% discount and then she’s not so upset.

I could really get used to this.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Why didn`t I learn this years ago?

posted Sat, 09 Dec 2006

The power of “Yes ma’am” becomes clearer and clearer. Last night at The Store, while I was checking out a customer, the phone rang. They make us answer the phone, even if we are waiting on someone. I hate that, because I think it is rude to the customers who are actually in the store. It’s like letting someone cut in line, but it’s their store, their rules. So when I got to a point in the transaction where I could talk on the phone and continue the transaction, I asked the customer to excuse me and took the call.

It was a clerk from The Store in another mall, asking if the clerk at the other register had found those black pants with the pink stripe yet. I looked over at Cindy, who, like me, had been busy with customers for the past ten minutes. Unlike me, Cindy has a broken hand, so it takes her a little longer to do things right now.

I asked Cindy if she’d had a chance to look for the pants yet.

“No,” she said. “I’ve been busy. I told her I was busy and I would do it as soon as I had the chance.”

I relayed the information to Other Clerk. “Well, I sat on hold for the longest time. She could at least have told me. Isn’t there an ASM there? Why didn’t she tell me? Why didn’t she call someone else? Why did she make me wait?”

I started to get tense. “Yes ma’am. One moment, please, ma’am,” I said politely. “I’m with a customer and I need to finish this transaction.” I put the phone down, took a deep breath, and wrapped my customer’s purchases. Then I picked the phone back up. I was loaded for bear. I was ready to argue with Other Clerk. She was attacking me and I hate to be attacked and as y’all know, I love to be right. Love it. It’s like my favorite thing in the whole world. I like it almost more than chocolate, maybe more because there are no calories in it.

And then I thought – wait! I don’t even have a dog in this fight! It’s not even about me!

“Ma’am,” I said politely, “I’ve been here eight days. What’s an ASM?”

“It’s a manager,” she seethed. “Just connect me to one.”

“OK,” I said. “How do I transfer on this phone?”

She told me and I did and it was over.

Hanging clerk

posted Tue, 05 Dec 2006

I have started a list of things I will do once I am in charge at The Store. At the top of the list?

Chop the right hand off every shoplifter.

Maybe not for the first offense, but definitely for the second.

And if they do it again, maybe cut off the left hand. Or brand the forehead. Something.

Because those darn security tags are such a pain in the neck to remove and the entire security system is such a hassle and ends up costing honest people so much money that it’s time to shift the expense back to the thieves. Why should we bear the burden? The store loses hundreds of thousands of dollars to shoplifters every year. They showed us the stats in training and I think I calculated it was ½% percent of sales. That’s a lot when you think that retail runs on pretty thin margins. (I could be wrong about that percent – it might be higher.)

Whatever it is, if an employee stops a shoplifter, we get 10% of the value of whatever they were about to steal or $25, whichever is greater.

Those of you who are horrified at my idea, think how much money and time it would save you not to have to pay for store security – because make no mistake, you are the ones paying. Prices are higher because of the security employees who walk around looking for shoplifters, because of the sensors there at the exits, because of the tags on the clothes and because of the labor it takes to install and remove those stupid, stupid tags. And, of course, prices are higher to make up for the loss of stolen items.

Wouldn’t life be easier – and cheaper? – if we would reduce or possibly eliminate the problem by chopping off the hands of shoplifters? We’d probably only have to do it a few times before potential shoplifters would give serious consideration to committing the crime.

My mom and dad lived in Saudi Arabia where gold jewelry hangs on the walls in the markets. Yet there is not a big problem with shoplifting. Why? Because thieves are separated from their hands there. Can you imagine a store displaying precious jewels here? Wouldn’t it be nice if they could? It is possible. We can do it.

A soft answer turneth away wrath

posted Mon, 04 Dec 2006 1

I have been learning the value of “Yes ma’am” and its variations, which is something I should have learned a long, long time ago. See, I’m one of those people who always wants to convince the other person that my way is right. I always want to win the argument. And this tendency has not served me well in life. It has gotten me into a lot of trouble. I should have sewn my lips shut when I was 21.

But at the store, I have discovered that life is a lot easier when I just say, “Yes ma’am” to customers who tell me something I find offensive or disagreeable.

“I don’t like that brand. Y’alls store brand is lousy. I’m going to Dillard’s.” The old me would have argued. The new me? “Yes ma’am.” And guess what? She sighs. “I hate Dillard’s. I haven’t been there in years.” She stays in the store.

Someone complains about a transaction taking too long? “Yes ma’am.” I go as fast as I can, smile and apologize. “Sorry for the delay, ma’am. Thank you for your patience and thanks for shopping at The Store. Please come back.” She harrumphs, but seems to get over it.

The customer on Saturday night who was drinking what smelled like straight gin from an insulated 20-oz cup while she tore through my neatly-folded sweaters and rejected the three extra-large red cashmere sweaters I found for her? “I don’t want these.” “Yes ma’am.”

I don’t argue, I don’t try to convince, I don’t explain. I merely say, “Yes ma’am.”

I need to remember this for when – if – I ever find a corporate job again.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How high, sir?

posted Sun, 03 Dec 2006

I hate these words: “It’s not my job…” They are among the ugliest words in the English language. Last night, I overheard some 20something whine them to someone else. “It’s not my job to be a rover.” I wanted to smack her upside the head. I turned to the co-worker folding sweaters next to me and said, “It’s her job to do whatever her boss says, as long as it’s moral, ethical and legal.”

“Umm hmm,” Roberta said. “I don’t ask no questions. I just do what they tell me.”

Later, when Monica and I were folding sweaters (folding sweaters is good, because it means customers have been looking at them and maybe buying them – if there weren’t customers, there would be no need for employees), we discovered we were both part-time Christmas help. Monica has a full-time job at Federal Express, where she is a manager.

“Are you working here just for the discount and your Christmas shopping?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “I take care of my mother. I’m hoping they’ll keep me on after the holidays.”

I told her about “It’s not my job” girl.

She shook her head in disgust. “These young people have no idea. I have so many of them work for me who have this attitude of entitlement. They don’t want to do this; they don’t want to do that. They have no work ethic.”

I agreed. “I’m used to being the one in charge, too, but I’m just glad for the chance to make some money. I’ll do what they want me to do, as long as they pay me.”

“You do what you have to do,” she said. “They’ll have to figure that out soon enough.”

Three degrees of mortification

posted Sat, 02 Dec 2006


To be a very slow runner by yourself on your ordinary Saturday 8-mile route.

Extremely embarrassing:

To be a very slow runner on your ordinary Saturday 8-mile route when that route happens to coincide with miles 13-14 and 19-24 of the St Jude Marathon.

Extra extremely embarrassing:

The marathoners are wearing shorts and t-shirts. You are wearing six layers of clothing. And you’re still cold.

Some wins, some losses

posted Sun, 03 Dec 2006

Work successes:

I sold a credit account. The store really pushes those. Store credit card holders spend a lot of money at the store – the average store cardholder spends thousands (yes, thousands) of dollars annually at the store. The store, in its defense, gives the cardholders lots of good deals that the general public does not get. Right now, cardholders get an extra 15% off everything in my department. They just got a coupon for $10 store cash. Last week, they had mystery money cards They get 12 free gift wraps a year. So there is something in it for them, too.

So I sold a credit account and got $5 cash from my boss, this fluffy red blanket and was entered in the weekly drawing, the prize this week being a DVD player. You might scoff, but when you are making only $9 an hour, an extra $5 is nice. My co-workers assured me that blanket is quite warm, which is good news, as my heating austerity program is leading to a house that is 47 degrees when I wake up. This plan of heating only the room I am in better result in low utility bills – no more December bills of $300. Another blanket won’t hurt.

A DVD player – well, maybe I can give it to someone as a Christmas present. I don’t have a TV. It won’t do me much good.

Work failures:

I couldn’t get the darn security tag off a customer’s red Liz Claiborne sweater. She was so happy about the sweater and I couldn’t get the tag off and neither could two of my co-workers and finally the ink busted and the sweater was ruined. I went to get her a replacement and there were no more in her size so I had to give her the size larger and she got cranky and I don’t blame her. If I had been on the ball, I would have called another store to see if they had the size and had it sent to her. I’ll try to do that today – maybe I can get her name and address from the tag somehow.

Stupid security tags. Stupid shoplifters. The store loses half a million dollars to shoplifters every year. I want to punch them in the nose. I hate those darn tags. They are so hard to remove. We wouldn’t need them if there weren’t lying nasty thieves around. Ruin things for the rest of us.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More thoughts on Hello, Central

posted Fri, 01 Dec 2006

For callers:

Don’t ask if so and so is here today. I don’t know. There are multiple entrances to this place. The best I can do is put you through to his line. Even if he’s not here, don’t you want to leave a message?

If he’s not there, leave a message. Wait for the darn voicemail. Don’t zero back to me and ask peevishly, “Why isn’t he answering the phone?”

I don’t know why. Maybe he’s on another line. Maybe he’s in a meeting. Maybe he doesn’t want to talk to you. Maybe he’s in the bathroom. I’m not in charge of him. But talking to me does nothing to get you closer to talking to him. I am not the conduit to him. All I can do is get you to his voicemail. I cannot find him, tackle him and make him talk to you.

If you can’t or won’t give me a last name, it is going to take me longer to connect your call because I have to look through a list of 200 names for the first name you gave me. When I ask you what department “Yolanda” is in, I’m not trying to torture you, I’m trying to shorten the process by going to the department list rather than the alphabetical list.

When I ask you if you are trying to sell something or trying to buy something when you ask for “someone who might have something to do with packaging design,” I am not looking for a reason to hang up on you. I am merely trying to decide whether to send you to marketing (if you are a seller) or someone in national accounts (if you are a buyer). Really. I don’t give a darn about why you are calling other than trying to make sure you end up with the right person. He can hang up on you.

For the company:

When someone calls and says she is charge of all purchasing for the City of Richmond and she is very unhappy with how your company’s Richmond factory has been treating her and she wants to talk to someone about it right now and spends three minutes giving me her tale of woe, whether or not she is right, she thinks she is right and should probably talk to someone high up to have her feathers smoothed.

So when I tell her I will send her to Joe Blow, the director of sales and marketing, it does your company no good when I hit the ‘send’ button for her to actually end up with Bill Smith, a clerk in accounting. Why would that happen? Oh, because your phone list is out of date and no one bothered to make a new one because everyone knows that Joe Blow has moved to South Carolina and is now working out of his home and that the local extension is no good anymore.

Yes, my other names are Michael Dell Bill Gates Warren Buffet. Why do you ask?

posted Fri, 01 Dec 2006

I have a phone interview today. On the company’s website, they say,

You'll receive a call from one of our managers to set a time for a phone screen to discuss your qualifictions in more detail.

That’s one of the most appropriate misspellings I’ve seen in a long time.

How may I direct your call?

posted Fri, 01 Dec 2006

I am developing job skills faster than you can shake a stick at. Yesterday, a temp agency finally called me. Finally. They had a one-day job. Yes, I would take it, even though I also had to work at the store until 11:00 last night. (SH’s comment about my working until 11:00: “You don’t even stay up that late with me! You don’t even stay up that late for fun!” Me: “This is for money.”)

So I was the switchboard operator. I had to transfer phone calls, which is something that has always struck fear into my heart. I didn’t even try to put calls on hold when there were a bunch of them coming in at once. I just took them as they came. “Good morning, Acme Industrial.” “Good morning, Acme Industrial.” And so on.

But then people tried to ask me questions about open enrollment. Honey, I don’t know your benefits plan. I don’t know why the system won’t let you log in. And I really don’t know why when Sunday is the deadline for completing enrollment, the two HR women who do have these answers went out to lunch instead of brown bagging it so they could take the approximately 70 calls that came in for them. Yes, people have had all month to do this and yes, they should have done it earlier, but Miranda and Sally, you know how people are. Would it have killed you to eat in today and take care of all those backed-up calls?

I had a low-status chair. I’m not used to that. I’m used to a high-level chair. You know – the kind with arms. It felt so odd not to have anywhere to rest my elbows. But I wasn’t a high enough position to get arms on the chair. At least, that’s how it worked when I was at IP. You had to be at a certain level or higher to get arms on your chair.

The woman who was sort of in charge of me overheard me speaking Spanish to one caller. (The company is international.) “We are trying to fill this position permanently,” she said. “Are you interested?”

I thought about the idea of sitting at a desk with no windows all day long, doing nothing else but answering the phone and signing in vendors, not having the freedom to go to the ladies’ room when I wanted, all for $10/hour. Was I that desperate yet?

“No, thanks,” I told her.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Working for a living

posted Thu, 30 Nov 2006

I earned money last night! I completed a few sales, some with coupons, and did an even exchange. I folded sweaters! I monitored the dressing room! (People. Would it be too much trouble to put the clothes you tried back on the hanger? Would it? No home training. I swear.) Best of all, I didn’t blow up the store’s accounting system!

I am so proud.

With $27 before taxes clutched in my sweaty little hand (figuratively), I walked past housewares. There it was – the red KitchenAid stand mixer, on sale for $299 (before Tennessee’s ridiculous 9.75% sales tax). With my employee discount of 20%, plus the extra 20% employees are getting this week, I would have had to go only $152.40 into debt, or work another 17 hours (before taxes) to buy it.

Down girl, I told myself. Six hours for the phone bill. Twenty hours for the utility bill (I hope just that many). Thirteen hours for health insurance. Then there are groceries. Gasoline. Car insurance. It might be nice to buy Christmas presents for your family and boyfriend.

I kept walking.

If only I had a brain

posted Wed, 29 Nov 2006

Did I tell you guys about the part where I failed my cash register training exam?

I didn’t?


Gee. How could that have slipped my mind?

OK. I got a 79 on the test and that’s not passing.

Girlfriends, I got a 4.0 in grad school. OK, so it’s not like grad school was like college or anything, where I absolutely did not get a 4.0. College was hard. I mean, in grad school, in business school, at least, you get a ‘B’ just for showing up. You have to spit on a prof to get lower than that.

But to fail the cash register test? That is really insulting.

I blame it on the HR lady. The one who yanked me off the terminal last week before I was through. At the beginning of the online training session, the announcer said the training would take five and a half to six hours.

“Then why are they allowing only four hours for me to finish?” I wondered to myself. I flew through the session, clicking “next” as soon as it appeared. The woman at the other terminal was a good two hours behind me.

At noon, they made us stop. They had other people scheduled to take the class. When the other woman asked if everyone else was finishing in time, the HR lady cheerfully told her no, not really, then asked when we could come back to finish.

My theory is that they don’t want to pay for the extra two hours of training. Yes, we get paid for the time we spend in training. So by telling us we have only four hours to do the class, it’s our problem if we don’t finish. We still have to come back, but it’s off the clock.

So I had to return a week later – using another gallon of gas, taking a shower and putting on makeup and dress-up clothes – to complete the test, which took me all of ten minutes, and of course I didn’t remember all the details I learned last week so of course I got only a 79 which meant I got the store’s equivalent of the Red Hand of Death flashing on the screen telling me I was not fit to be a cashier and this development would have to be discussed with my manager.

Be nice to the cashier when you are out Christmas shopping this week. You might get someone like me who doesn’t have a darn clue about what she is doing. She’s trying, I promise. But she’s just been told by a cheerfully condescending HR woman and an inanimate object that she’s an idiot. It doesn’t make for good cashiering.

Ready for Benetton

posted Mon, 27 Nov 2006

You guys who go into a store and flip through all the sweaters that were folded so nicely, STOP IT!

That’s right. Just look at the sweater on the mannequin. That’s what the sweater looks like on a person. A person like you. If you want to try one on, look at the size marked on the outside of the sweater – you can see it without unfolding the sweater – and gently lift the sweater out of the stack without unfolding all the other sweaters.

There. Was that so hard?

Quit making such a mess of the sweater display. Do you know how much work it is to fold each of those sweaters with paper and make that display look nice? Sheesh.

That is all.

Would you like a credit card with that?

posted Wed, 22 Nov 2006

More training this morning. Register training! As if I need to be trained on how to use a cash register. Ha. I was using a cash register back when you had to know math to run a cash register, sister. I used a cash register when you had to actually key in the price by pressing the number keys.

We had to use the “@” key if there were multiples of the same item, like ten cans of tuna at $0.49 apiece.

We had to look up bad credit card numbers in the little book that came out every week and write down the page number that the customer’s credit card number was not on. We had carbon copies. We had to use pens.

We didn’t have no stinkin’ laser scanners. We didn’t have no stinkin’ electronic signature pads.

So this stuff was going to be a piece of cake. So I thought.

Ummm. Cake. I went to this training straight from 6:45 boot camp. (Yes, I bathed first. The church where we meet lets us use the showers at their gym. The store does have a dress code.) I didn’t have breakfast before class, so took a leftover pork bun from the dim sum SH, Leigh and I had on Sunday, a can of sardines and a diet Coke with me to eat in my car.

Guess what? That’s not enough food to sustain a human being from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Mental note to self: keep chocolate in purse at all times.

Not much has changed in completing customer transactions except it’s gotten more complicated now that it’s on a computer and if you make a mistake, you can’t get out of it (it looks like a PC, but the “ESC” button does not work, I can tell you that) and might accidentally put all the charge on someone else’s store card or perhaps wipe out an entire national chain’s computer system, so why they are trusting temporary workers on their registers, I don’t know.

Be nice to the salespeople when you’re Christmas shopping this year. They might be people like me who are trying to remember what they learned in the six-hour training class that was crammed into four hours because the company. Well. Because. I’ll just say that if I were in charge, this is not how I would do it.

If you can`t stand the heat, then come to my house

posted Tue, 21 Nov 2006

The great heating experiment of ‘Ought Six has begun. SH decided that he had to come in from the cold, so yesterday, we went to Target and got three space heaters. Now there is a space heater in almost every room of my house so I don’t have to unplug the one that used to be an only space heater and carry it with me when I change rooms. Not that I had a problem with that, but SH thought it was an inefficient process.

Why would I carry a space heater behind me, you ask? Because heat is one of the few controllable expenses in my life right now. It’s one of the few expenses, along with food, that is variable, which is why I eat beans instead of meat and buy the moldy zucchini at Easy Way for 39 cents a pack. Not that it’s a problem for me to eat a little less. I need to be unemployed for ten pounds.

A single match is not enough to keep one warm.

But the heat thing. I really need to pay attention to the electricity bill. My 1922 brick and plaster house has a great quality that serves me well in the summer – it holds the cold quite well. My summer power bills (this includes water and trash as well) are about $80 a month.

But this quality is not so valuable in the winter. Winter bills have gone as high as $400.

See why I have to pay attention?

So I have been paying attention by not turning on the central heat, using the space heater only in the room I’m in, and wearing lots of clothes (the English model). At night, I pile on the blankets. When I have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and it’s only 50 degrees in the house, I remind myself of my pioneer ancestors in Wisconsin who had no central heat and who had to use an outhouse in the snow. I remind myself that it is not worth hundreds of dollars just to be warm when I pee.

But SH has been here since Friday. His ancestors were not pioneers. No, they were WASPs and they peed in warmth. He doesn’t want to sleep in a house where it is only 50 degrees. He doesn’t want to be awake in a house that is not much warmer and have to carry a space heater behind him.

So yesterday, it was off to Target for extra space heaters. He bought me three: one to leave in the bathroom overnight, one to leave in the office and one that could be run all night in the bedroom to keep it at least 60 degrees. (My previous “only” space heater couldn’t be run all night because it is very noisy.)

I am still experimenting with the bedroom one, but let me tell you, had my pioneer ancestors had the option of keeping their bathrooms (or outhouses) warm at night, they would have sold their children to do so. It makes all the difference in the world to know you aren’t going to turn into a block of ice when you get out of bed and run into the bathroom. OK, sure, you have to pass through the Hallway of Ice, but then you are rewarded by the soothing warmth of the bathroom and it’s all worth it.

Career development hint #429, or "What we have here is a failure to communicate"

posted Mon, 20 Nov 2006

So when you’re completing the paperwork at your new seasonal part-time job and you are reading one of the dozens of papers in that work, it’s probably not a good idea, upon spying a funny language mistake (“When answering the phone, be sure to do so in a professional manor…”), to point out said mistake to the HR manager.

Especially when she doesn’t get it.

She just nods her head and says that yes, we are to answer the phone in a professional manner.

That’s when you should just drop the subject, but no, you, being a stupid idiot who never ever wants to work again, persist. “No!” you laugh. “I mean this!” as you point to the offending word. You think it’s funny – ha! ha! – and are sure she’ll think it’s funny as well. It hasn’t even crossed your stupid mind that perhaps she is the one who typed the document.

She looks at the word and then looks at you blankly.

It’s then that you realize that you two are truly not on the same page. And that you are digging your own grave. But it’s too late. You are forced to explain. So you do.

“You know, only answer the phone in a big English country house! Ha ha!”

She smiles tightly. “No one else has ever noticed that before,” she tells you. She is not saying it in a “aren’t you the clever girl” way. She is saying it in a, “I’ll get you my pretty” way – in a “You’ll be working at 11:00 Christmas Eve or I’ll know the reason why” way.

Why oh why can’t you learn to keep your big fat mouth shut?

Just because there`s no beer in heaven, does that mean there`s no football, either?

posted Sat, 18 Nov 2006

SH: Bo Schembechler died yesterday!

Me: [As if I actually had ever heard of the guy before I read about him in the news yesterday.] Yeah. You didn’t know that?

SH: No! He would much rather have died tomorrow so he could watch the game first. This is the biggest Ohio State-Michigan game ever and he doesn’t get to watch it!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

They teach us not to pee on our hands

posted Fri, 17 Nov 2006 19:20:15 -0800

I do these things so you don’t have to. You are so lucky.

Just so you know – those orange stains on the underside of your toilet seat – the ones from when that medication stained your urine bright florescent orange (isn’t it funny how quickly that stuff gets into your system?) – you know how you scrub and scrub and scrub them with every chemical you have in your house, including straight bleach, in an attempt to make your toilet sparkling clean sterile white but to no avail?

The solution is to 1) check the underside of the seat immediately and rinse (which of course no one is going to think of in the middle of the night) or 2) convert to this kind of toilet. Or 3) use a public restroom and let someone else worry about it.

Well, scrub no more, because I finally called the toilet seat manufacturer to get the straight skinny on exactly how one removes those medicine stains and I was told right away, no hesitation, nope, can’t do it.

Can’t do it?

No ma’am. There are some medication stains that are impossible to remove.

Might I suggest that you have your scientists work on this problem?

Oh, ma’am, I assure you that they are doing research on new materials all the time to improve the product.

When I got off the phone, I thought, I can’t believe I just called someone to ask about urine stains.

Then I thought, Omigosh, there is someone who spends the day answering phone calls from people like me calling about urine stains.

Then I thought about it some more and realized that there are scientists whose field of research is developing toilet seats that are impervious to urine tainted with staining medication.

Then I wondered even more. How do you get into that field? How does a materials scientist decide, “I think I’ll go into the toilet industry and concentrate on stain resistance?”

Once you’re in that field, what do you talk about at parties when people ask, “So. What do you do?”

How do they get their samples? You know the samples I mean. The samples to test the stain resistance of a material. Does the drug need to be combined with urine? It probably doesn’t have to emerge from a human, at least not in the initial testing stages. They probably have samples they just mix, but where do they get the urine? Do these scientists spend all day guzzling diet Coke or coffee? Do they get a special deal on the drugs? Do the drug companies work together with the toilet companies?

Am I the only person who thinks about these things?

Blue-light special

posted Fri, 17 Nov 2006

I had my interview at the store yesterday. I had to complete their online application first. Even though I had already completed an online application online from my house to apply. If I were in charge, this would be one of the areas where I would improve things, but I am now a flunky, not an in-charge person, as the HR manager (Millicent) was quite quick to remind me in every way, from our initial conversation where she pointed out that this was an hourly position and not salaried (yes, I knew that – I had clicked on the darn job description, read it and then clicked on “Apply now,” hadn’t I?), to when we were tidying up the details of when I would do the paperwork.

But I had to complete the second online application, then wait to be interviewed. I had debated about the appropriate outfit for this interview – khakis and a sweater? Skirt and blouse? I couldn’t decide, so settled on a suit, deciding overkill couldn’t hurt. Besides, I didn’t feel like ironing any pants.

After I was through talking to Randy, I had to talk to Millicent again. “You need to come back on Monday at 9:00 to complete your paperwork,” she said. “Bring proof of citizenship.” “We could do it now if you want,” I suggested. “I have my passport.” She glared at me. “Monday at 9:00. Then Monday from 4:00 to 6:00 for orientation.” I knew better to question her again. I don’t need a reputation as a troublemaker.

Lucky for me I wore a suit. Who knew that the last bastion of formal business dressing was retail? Once Millicent handed me over to Randy, I thought I might be OK. Randy was impeccably dressed in a suit and tie. Millicent was wearing a pantsuit, but hers was polyester-esque. Randy’s was silk and worsted wool. Randy’s shoes were polished. His tie was beautiful. It was clear that the guy values looking nice.

He looked at my application. I had been forced to list salary information. He looked back at me. “What did you used to do at your old job?” he asked. “Why aren’t you there any more?”

I explained. Then he asked why I wanted a job at the store. “I’ve got bills,” I told him. “I need to make money. As much as I can.”

We talked for an hour – about shoes, about the test on the first online application, about shoplifting, about customer service, about loyalty programs, about whether I could sell shoes (I could, but turned out the commission job he had in mind wasn’t a seasonal job after all), about how he started as a seasonal part-timer and now he runs a couple of departments and about how demeaning unemployment is for anyone with a work ethic. He’s the first person I’ve spoken to about unemployment who shares my sentiments.

“Just a second,” he said, as he stepped out of the room. When he returned, he said, “I know you said you’d rather be in housewares, but they don’t pay as much, so how about better sportswear? That’s nine dollars an hour. That’s the highest I can get you.”

I like Randy.

We wasted cookies on the laundry jerks

posted Sat, 04 Nov 2006

Remember SH’s upstairs neighbors? The ones who do laundry every single day at 8:00 a.m.? They used to do it at 6 a.m., but SH had asked them if they could hold off until, oh, 8 or so. He had no idea they would be doing wash every single day. I’m not exaggerating. We hear them rap the measuring cup for the soap against the machine at 7:59 in anticipation of pushing the “start” button at 8.

SH is an engineer who works for a California company. Many of his customers don’t leave work until 8 or 9 Pacific time. They’ll send him emails and expect an answer by the next day. He’ll get the email at 10 or 11 central time. He’d rather stay up to solve the problem than get up early in the morning. In the past two weeks, he has stayed up until 5:00 a.m. and to 2:30 a.m. twice apiece. He would like to sleep past 8:00 a.m. But the sound of the washing machine upstairs is so loud that it wakes him as soon as it starts.

When the upstairs neighbors started their laundry at 8:00 every morning this week, we decided it was time for action. We knew – we were sure -- that if only they knew that their machine was really bothering SH, they would surely delay their laundry activities. After all, it’s not like they have anything else to do. They’re retired! They have flexibility! They don’t have to go to work or anything. And it’s not like SH is staying up late to go out drinking. He’s staying up late to work.

SH took a plate of the chocolate chocolate chip cookies that we baked this morning upstairs. He barely got the words out that he liked to sleep past 8:00 a.m. when they told him that they had already asked the building manager about the acceptable hours for doing laundry and that Rusty had told them that 8:00 a.m. was just fine. Besides, they were already waiting so long to get started! They get up at 5:00 a.m.! In their old place, they had that laundry in the machine by 5:30 every day. They have chores to do, places to go, walks to take, bingo to play. The laundry, she cannot wait.

SH had not expected this response. What polite person does? So he went for broke. “It’s just the two of you living here, right?” he asked.

Yep, they told him.

“That sure is a lot of laundry for two people,” he observed.

“We do one load of darks and one load of lights every day. You gotta keep on top of it,” they told him sharply.

He retreated gracefully. They kept the cookies. They also told him that they never hear any noise he makes, so there is nothing we can do to get revenge.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Where babies come from....

posted Thu, 02 Nov 2006

...according to my friend’s very cute, bespectacled ten-year-old son with an impish sense of humor:

The man puts his stick in the woman’s hole for a few minutes. Then they wait a few months. She goes to the doctor to see if she’s pregnant. If she is, that’s good. If she’s not, they have to do it again, but it kind of hurts, which is why they have to kiss and stuff.

I turn and hide my smile with my napkin as he eats another bite of his cupcake.

“Why is she laughing, Mom?” he asks.

“She’s not,” my friend answers.

“And I don’t even have sex education until next year,” he says modestly.

I go to the living room, get a notepad from my purse, and make quick notes about what he has just explained.

“Is she writing down what I said?” he asks.

“No,” my friend answers. “She’s writing something else.”

So hard to get good help

posted Thu, 02 Nov 2006

SH and I watched the movie “Friends with Money” last night. The premise is that Jennifer Aniston is a maid and all her friends are rich. Sure. Whatever. And she is living in LA on the what -- $500 a week? -- she is making as a maid?

What I want to know is how anyone finds a maid – in Los Angeles – an Anglo, non-illegal immigrant maid – who will clean houses the way Aniston’s character does. When I had a white cleaning lady in Memphis, she never did the things Aniston does: pulls the hair out of the bathtub drain, cleans the inside of the refrigerator (OK, Kathy would have done that – I left her a note asking her to do it once – but she told me she would charge extra), and does laundry.

Of course, neither of my cleaning ladies, as far as I know, ever brought a man into my house, dressed up in a French maid costume and had sex in my bed with a loser boyfriend who then demanded part of the cleaning fee because he “helped” by pointing out that the maid had “missed a spot.” Or stole a $75 face cream from me. I don’t even have $75 face cream.

When I hired Esperanza, who may or may not have been legal (her Uruguayan husband worked at Federal Express, but that didn’t mean Esperanza had permission to work in the US), she would do laundry and windows, which was much more than Kathy ever did, but not once did she dig her fingers into that bathtub drain and not once did she wipe the shelves inside the fridge.

Aniston’s character does all this stuff in houses three times the size of mine for only $100. I paid Esperanza $65. Hollywood really is out of touch with reality.

Why I am still an old maid at the age of 43

posted Wed, 01 Nov 2006

Reading the newspaper
SH: Reads the first page, then the sports section, reads the rest of paper throughout the day and maybe the next day. Leaves the read paper in a stack to go to the recycling once a week or so.
CF: Read the entire paper at breakfast or at least before noon, then put it in the trash immediately.

Squeezing a tube
SH: Squeezes carefully from the end and rolls as he goes
CF: Squeeze carelessly from the middle or wherever I feel like. When I am running out of toothpaste or whatever, then start squeezing from the end.

Putting dirty clothes into a laundry basket
SH: Folds dirty clothes before he puts them in the basket. In his defense, his laundry basket is in his bedroom, where it is visible. There’s not room in his closet. Because of his blue shirts.
CF: Toss dirty clothes into basket once they are removed from my body.

Shoe storage
SH: Has shoes lined up neatly in closet.
CF: Some shoes are in the shoe bag, but everyday shoes are strewn carelessly on the bottom of the closet.

Folding clean clothes
SH: Folds his t-shirts beautifully. Folds everything beautifully. He could get a job at Benetton.
CF: Will they fit into the drawer? Can I just mash them in there?

Packing for a trip
SH: Again, fold clothes beautifully. His shirts arrive ready to wear. They look like they came from the store. All they lack is the straight pins.
CF: I buy things that don’t need to be ironed.

SH: Pulls paperboard out from the trash when I throw it away so he can put it in the recycling.
CF: Throw away all paper products with the idea that it will help my chances of having a pension.

Junk mail/ordinary mail
SH: Goes through ordinary mail every couple of days and sorts into “deal with now/deal with later” stacks. The “deal with later” stack sits for weeks. The junk mail is in a stack next to the couch and consists of sales circulars that “might be interesting.”
CF: I have a basket on my desk where I throw bills and real mail. All junk mail goes immediately into my trash can every day. Once I start going through the basket, I deal with it. I pay the bills and answer the letters. (NB: If you are invited to a wedding, complete the RSVP card and send it back to the bride. She’s put a stamp on the envelope for you, even, for pete’s sake. It’s very rude not to respond. They are trying to plan a wedding. Do what your momma taught you.)

SH: Answers the phone every time it rings and explains to solicitors (usually political) why he is not going to give them money.
CF: Only answer the phone if I feel like talking. I always screen my calls.

SH: Speeds. All the time. He even has a radar detector.
CF: I know I will be the one who is caught. I know. That's why I rarely speed and then, only on the highway.