Friday, December 21, 2007

They Walk Among Us

Unfortunately in this Season of Giving, I’ve had to focus too much on work, which explains the very large gap in posts. Fortunately there have been a couple blog-worthy things to report. First, you have GOT to check out this video: For those of you involved in the bankruptcy field, this will be especially hilarious, though it’s pretty funny even without that background. It’s a video on payday (or check) loans. These things are evil, and anyone who is actually able to pay them off is extremely lucky. The worst thing about these is the interest. I’ve heard of interest being charged on one of these at 520%. No joke. A staggering number of debtors in bankruptcy owe on these loans. And generally when they owe one, there are more to follow. Usually this is because they will take out additional loans to try to pay off those they already owe. It ends up being a proverbial house of cards, and all you have to do is pull one card out of the bottom, (such as someone getting sick and missing too much work,) and the whole thing collapses (i.e. a bankruptcy is filed.) As funny as this video is, in some ways it’s not that far off base.

Thankfully, though there has been quite a bit of work to do, there has been some comic relief as well. We have, in recent months, had difficulties with our paper folder. For those of you that might not know, this is a machine built for the sole purpose of folding pages of paper in thirds suitable for mailing. This is what we use when there are a large number of people that need to receive copies of a document. Recently it has been jamming quite a bit, and mangling the papers that were being put through it. The room which houses this machine is directly across the hallway from the break room. I was surprised to find one day, as I walked out of the break room, one of the office supervisors down on her knees in front of the paper folder, hands held reverently in a the praying position and raised toward the ceiling. I, of course, started laughing and asked her what she was doing. She said she was praying to the Paper Folder Gods so that the machine would finish the present mailing being run through it. I told her I did not remember reading about the Paper Folder Gods in Greek mythology. She assured me that they do exist. Later, on her way by, she stopped by my office to tell me that as soon as she stopped praying the machine jammed again. Don’t mess with the Paper Folder Gods….

I also have a story about my biggest pet peeve ever, which all of you are aware is stupid people. No, the title of this post does not refer to angels, though I believe that to be true as well. It does refer to the stupid people. They seem to be everywhere, and it gets worse during the holidays. Last week we had our first Monthly Project Night at the office. This is just a night to get together in the break room and work on projects we might have unfinished, but no time to do at home. For me it will most likely always be my cross stitch projects. I have so many unfinished I many never get to the ones that have not been started. However, the night is open to anyone in the office with any sort of project they many want the extra time to work on: scrapbooking, needlework, crafts, baby books, etc. We also have dinner. This time, due to short notice and the holidays, there were only three of us. So, we decided pizza was the best option. Early in the day I got on the website belonging to Domino’s, and placed an order to be delivered at 5:45. Since the doors to the building lock at a certain time, I waited in the lobby to let the delivery person in. 5:45 came and went. Then 6:00. 6:15. 6:20, no pizza. Finally, I came back upstairs to find two messages on my work phone saying the delivery man couldn’t find the address. I called the store to ask what was happening, and then was rudely (and I DO mean rudely) informed that I typed in the WRONG address. Uh, no, I didn’t. Apparently the computer not only changed one number of the address I entered, but the directional as well (from South to North). Why in the world would I type in North? This was definitely a computer glitch, but the little snot that answered the phone at the store insisted it was my fault. When I finally stopped arguing with her and asked her what I needed to do to get my pizza, she informed me that they would not deliver to this building, and that needed to call another store and place a new order. Ok, so I did that. I was quite annoyed to find that they charged me $4 more for a phone order than they had for an internet order, and could only offer the explanation that it’s cheaper on-line. Whatever. Since I was in a hurry so we could get the pizza before everyone was ready to go home, I didn’t bother to try to convince them to charge me less. Soon thereafter a received a call on my cell phone that the new driver couldn’t find the building either. I still can’t figure out what is so dang hard about locating this building. It’s twelve stories tall and it’s on the corner with a big sign on top with the name of the building on it, for crying out loud.

Nevertheless, I answered the phone only to be informed that “someone gave [me] the wrong address”. When I asked what address he had, he repeated to me the correct one. I told him that was the right address. He insisted that there was no car dealership on that corner (our building is owned by, and houses the main offices of, a local company well-known for their car dealerships). When I explained to him that it is not a dealership, but a building named after the company, he still insisted it was not there. It was all I could do to bite my tongue and not let him know how much of a complete idiot I thought he was, since I was STANDING in the building. Instead I tried to help him identify it by telling him which corner the building was on, and to look for the bank that is on the lobby level. Unfortunately this was also a wrong move on my part, since there is a building owned by that bank up the street. I had to again explain to him that no, this is not that building, there just is one of those branches on the main level. What floored me about this is that this is the store that is supposedly the one that is designated to deliver downtown. You can’t tell me that with all the offices in this building, and the surrounding buildings for that matter, no one here or near here has ever ordered a pizza to be delivered! Finally he said he saw the building and would be there in three minutes. Ten minutes later I was still waiting.

At last, as I was coming around the corner after having checked the back doors of the building (they lead in from the parking lot) for the umpteenth time, I hear pounding on the glass doors in the front of the building. I run to let in the delivery man, who is literally so nervous he is fidgeting. He informs me that this is because he has parked illegally. There is a whole parking lot out to the side of the building with free parking that was probably empty at that time of night, but he parks illegally. Ok. So I ask him for a pen to sign the credit card slip. Pen? What pen? He didn’t bring a pen. I placed this order with a credit card, he has the receipt and can see that it needs a signature, but he didn’t bring a pen. He then tells me to just scratch a tip and my signature on the receipt and he’ll keep the yellow carbon copy. I know I had that blank what-can-you-possibly-be-talking-about stare on my face. He said, “you know, scratch, with your fingernail”. I was like, uh, no. Luckily I had seen a pen sitting on the lobby floor that someone had dropped. I ran back in, picked it up and signed as quickly as I could just to get him the hell away from me. As it turned out I had to actually push the little green button (that says right on it “push to open doors”) FOR him to let him back out, since he tried unsuccessfully TWICE to push the doors open. Uh, they’re locked, remember? I was waiting for him to start screaming and hitting himself in the head when he couldn’t get them open. By the way, he got no tip. Needless to say, in future we will not be ordering pizza from Domino’s for the Project Night. Truthfully I’m not sure which aspect of this is scarier to me, the fact that this man was actually DRIVING, or the fact that he contributes to the gene pool.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bad Day To Be A Thief

I had the strangest thing happen to me the other day. I was walking in to the building where I work, carrying quite a few things (you know, lunches for the week, purse, planner, coffee, etc.). All of a sudden a young man, probably my age or so :-), broke away from the group of people he was standing with outside, and opened the door for me. I was flabbergasted! I can’t remember the last time someone went out of their way for me like that. And, as if that wasn’t enough, not only did he open the first door for me, but he stepped inside and opened the second door for me as well (the building has two sets of doors at every entrance.) I’m sure I was beaming at him, and as I told him thank you in my most grateful sounding voice, I realized that he was not following me into the building. That was the icing on the cake. The man went out of his way to come and open doors for someone who needed it, and he wasn’t even going in the same direction! I glanced over my shoulder to see him headed back to the group of people he had been standing with to begin with. Giant kudos to whoever raised that man! That really is one of the problems I see with our society today. No one is willing to do anything for anyone else, just because it’s polite or kind or the right thing to do. It is sad to me that this man is the exception instead of the rule. I don’t know about anybody else, but that wasn’t the way I was raised.

Another thing that seems to be wrong today is that no one seems to be willing to stand up for themselves and protect their family. Maybe if it was more well known that people will fight back and not put up with all the crap, there would be less crime in the world. Here’s an example of what I mean. This happened a little over a month ago, and is truly an astounding event. This woman walked into her house to find someone had broken in…and was still there! Read the comments that go along with this article. There are a few people in there that seem to be right at the heart of what I’m talking about. This woman is amazingly brave, and I’m so impressed that she had the guts to stand up to someone violating HER rights. Yet there are still those people out there criticizing her for defending herself and her home. What is wrong with this country??

She also gave an interview to a radio station that I listen to in the mornings, 97.1zht. In the interview, she said that as she grabbed the guy’s legs as he ran past her, it actually ripped her fingernail off of her finger. She apparently has acrylics, and it actually ripped her natural nail completely off. As someone who has had acrylics, all I can say is…OUCH!! So there she was lying on top of this guy, her knee in his back pinning him to the floor, holding his arm back with one hand in such a way that she could have easily dislocated his shoulder, talking to 911 with the other hand, and bleeding all over the place. The DJs asked her about her threatening to break his arm, and she said that every minute or so the guy would start to try to move. She said every time she politely asked the 911 operator to hold on, then screamed at him that if he moved she’d break his arm, and then would go back to the operator and say “I’m sorry, you were saying?” Definitely my kind of person! They also don’t mention in the article that, in addition to her jewelry, they also found several medications from her medicine cabinet and coins from her child’s collection on the man. Clearly he was robbing the place. What a bad day to be a thief!

And speaking of which, this and this happened earlier this week. Seems that two banks at opposite ends of the valley had attempted bank robberies. The first one I heard about was the one out west. I guess the would-be robber presented the bank teller with a hold-up note. Though I’m dying to find out what it said, I cannot find where the contents of the note have been disclosed. Apparently, the note was incoherent enough that it confused the teller who did not comply with the robber’s orders. The robber got frustrated and walked out of the bank. The second robbery attempt was made at a bank that is really only a few blocks away from my house, which is scary in itself. But in this case, the bank has two levels that are open to each other. You know, with a balcony and everything. The robber pulled a knife on tellers on the first floor, demanding money. There were employees still on the second floor. One of them called 911 while another threw a chair over the balcony, hitting the robber in the back and knocking him to the floor. He got up and ran out of the bank empty handed. Now, what’s interesting to me is the descriptions of the robbers. The description from the west-side bank is not very detailed, but both descriptions contain some of the same information: black man in his 30’s, dark blue jacket and blue jeans. Could it possibly be the same man? Hmm, I don’t know, but imagine if it was! How humiliating! Foiled in two robberies on the same day! I guess the only thing he has going for him is that he didn’t get caught!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Fun Side of Memory Lane

Recently a co-worker told me a story about a kindergarten student's take on Santa. Her son is a teacher, and I guess he did his student teaching in a kindergarten class. Around Christmas time, one child asked him how Santa knows whether you're good or bad. Before he could answer, another little girl piped up and said "Jesus tells him". Apparently Jesus has been ratting us out to Santa for years, and we just never knew it.

It put me in mind of some things that have been said at my house in recent weeks. Aren't little kids funny about Christmas? While at home in Wyoming over Thanksgiving, we saw Santa at the local Wal-Mart. It was the first time Sweetpea did not hesitate to go and talk to him, and sit on his lap. When Santa asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she told him five presents. Not four, not six, five. She did not tell him what she wanted in the presents. When I asked her shortly thereafter what Santa was going to bring her, she replied, "Presents and gifts. Red, yellow, blue and green presents and gifts." I could not get any information as to what should be contained in the presents and gifts. I, of course, started to panic since it creates a bit of a problem when you only know Santa will bring presents and gifts, but not what will be in them. Nor does it assist me in my own shopping ventures if I have no idea what Sweetpea wants. It occurred to me that I had done this to my mom when I was a child, or something similar, and I was probably getting what I deserved. I don't remember this, but I have been told, many many times in fact, that one Christmas I refused to tell my parents what I was asking Santa for for Christmas. Anytime I was asked, I would cross my arms, stick my nose in the air, purse my lips and reply "He knows." By the time December rolled around, my mom was beside herself and just knew that whatever it was I was asking for wouldn't make it under the tree. Luckily for her I decided to write Santa a letter. She was able to kipe the letter off of the mailbox after I had gone to school, and low and behold, Santa definitely delivered that year.

It also occurred to me that, since we don't watch a lot of TV with commercials at our house, and don't visit the toy stores or toy aisles on a regular basis, Sweetpea had probably not seen any toys to ask for. So, in our quest to find gifts for our nephews, last weekend we made the trek to the toy store, Sweetpea in tow. We let her take her time and explore the whole store, and sure enough, she found THE greatest toy ever, and has consistently stated that
this is what she will ask for from Santa this year. Yay!

The trip to the toy store for me was both exciting and depressing, all at the same time. This is because I found several toys that are either making a comeback, or are still around from when I was a child. In October I found out that this year is the 25th anniversary of the Care Bears. Wal-Mart had a 25th anniversary Tenderheart Care Bear for sale. It is white, with a silver heart on its tummy, a sterling silver nose and Swavorski Crystals in its eyes.
It also comes with a DVD of the original Care Bear movie. Of course I just had to have it. No, not for Sweetpea, for me! I bought one and put it up on the shelf in the closet unopened. (I found out as I was looking for pics for this post that there is also a pink 25th anniversary Care Bear. I may have to have it, too.)
I was especially excited because Care Bears is one of the "stayed around" toys that hasn't changed a bit. They still look exactly like they always did. The same goes for My Little Ponies. While at the toy store, I discovered that 2008 is also the 25th year of My Little Ponies. They are currently offering for sale two packages of three ponies each - the original six ponies released in 1983!
I was so excited I immediately added them to my Christmas list! Again, no, not for Sweetpea, for me. They, too, will go up on the shelf in the closet and remain in the boxes. In searching for these pics, I also found out that 2007 was the 25th anniversary of Rubik's Cube and G.I. Joe as well. Geez, I feel old.
While at the toy store, I also came upon a display of Pound Puppies. That's right, THE Pound Puppies! Full size!
Though they mostly looked exactly like I remember them, it appears they have added some new puppies to their repertoire. And perhaps they are a "coming back" toy rather than a "stayed around" one, but I was nonetheless thrilled to see them. I immediately snatched one off the shelf and turned to Sweetpea saying, in a voice that I'm sure the majority of the people in the six aisles to my right and the 8 aisles to my left could hear, "I think we should get one of THESE!" She looked at me with that look of a child who believes their parent has suddenly lost their mind, looked at the Pound Puppy, and said "Oh look, a puppy." She gave it a courtesy pet, then promptly walked away. I was amused and devastated all at the same time. As I put the puppy back on the shelf, I caught a few of the looks from the other parents nearest to me. No, it's not what you think. They were not looking at me as if I were completely insane. Instead, every single one of them was grinning with that knowing smile that says "We agree, we want one too, but our kids weren't impressed either."

It really doesn't end here. I am a little disappointed with the comeback of Strawberry Shortcake, because they look nothing like they used to. Though the smell seems to be the same. I don't like the new Cabbage Patch dolls AT ALL. They are too big, and though they may look similar to their original form, I can tell the difference. Yuck. Although, I think I saw somewhere that their anniversary is also coming up, and they are celebrating with the release of an original version of the doll. Then again, maybe that is something I just concocted.

In addition, I was so stoked to find at Wal-Mart the Cooties game on sale! My nephew is getting one for Christmas. All in all, the trip to the toy store was actually pretty fun, though I left there feeling REALLY old. It's bound to get to you when the toys you played with as a kid are announcing their 25th anniversaries. I did go home and promptly call my mom to tell her of the discoveries I had made, and the new additions to my Christmas list. She, of course, found the whole thing amazingly funny. In between snorts of laughter, she tried to answer my questions as to whether she had saved any of these toys from when I was a kid. Ultimately we decided that a trip to the attic will be necessary on our next trip home. I'm actually excited, despite the distinct possibility of finding spiders up there (I'm an arachnophobe). Mom promised to set off a bug bomb up there a couple days before we get there, and I will hold her to it.

Of course, my husband made fun of my little walk down memory lane, and rolled his eyes every time I mentioned adding one of these things to my Christmas list. But you should have seen him check out the electric race tracks with that little gleam in his eye. And when he thought I wasn't looking, I saw him pick up and peruse a game of Operation....