Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Small Town Kid Awkward Moments

Here's a story I always forget to tell.  About Shane, actually...

We both grew up in small town north Idaho.  The kind of small town where, if you're a good drummer in the high school band, the band teacher may or may not actually approach your parents and ask them if they'd be willing to allow you to drum with a local band. IN A BAR.

 At age 17.

This is what actually happened to Shane.  There was a band playing in town, who needed a drummer, and he was the best in town (at 17).  Or possibly the only drummer in town.  His parents went and talked to the owner of the bar, because they all went to school together back in the 50s, and they all agreed that it would be OK, even though he was underage, as long as he stayed on the bandstand and wasn't, of course, served any alcohol or molested by cougars (although in the early 1980s, I don't think those had a name yet; they were just older scary drunk women...)

ANYhoo, off he went, after his mom threatened the bar owner that she would go down and raise heck if anything happened to him, because he was an innocent.

Like this

So...being the innocent that he was, one night he came down off the bandstand after a set (I think that's what it's called) to sit at a table with some people (and no, I don't know *why* he was at a table, instead of outside waiting for the music to start again).

The people were lining up piles of white powder on the table in front of them and rolling up dollar bills.

As far as my farm kid sweetheart could tell, there was just a mess of white powder all over this table.

He had no idea what they were doing, so...he pulled up a chair, looked in distaste at the table covered in lines of white powder, grimaced, and said "Geez, these tables need cleaned", and proceeded to wipe all of these people's cocaine off the table onto the floor.  He thought someone had spilled the salt or something.

He wondered afterwards, why that whole table got really quiet when he was done.


He said there was just a stunned silence, so he figured, "Wow.  This table's kinda boring," and he left them sitting there with their mouths hanging open and went back up to finish drumming.

Looking back now, he says he's probably lucky they didn't actually take him outside and beat the crap out of him...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Yard Sale Time

Our house has gradually gone from "tidy and organized" to "pretty cluttered but comfortable" somewhere in the last decade.  It's been starting to feel really cluttered for about the past 5 years, but I like to live by the rule of let's not get carried away...we can organize that tomorrow, so it's been getting worse.  Lately it's been feeling like it's actually closing in.  I can't see any wall space that isn't hosting some piece of random furniture, stack of books, or orphaned ottoman.  Don't bother trying to put anything away BECAUSE THERE'S NOWHERE TO PUT IT.  We have a lot of space, but unfortunately, also a lot of stuff.

We all know what that means:  It's Time.

So, two weeks ago I finally gave in to my family's repeated suggestions of "Why don't we just have a yard sale?", usually said in the same tone as "Hey, why don't we just go for ice cream?" I've been resisting this suggestion for about a year, because I remember the last yard sale being a nightmare of sorting through our entire house, dragging it all outside, and then spending two days talking myself hoarse (I actually lost my voice) selling it and chatting with neighbors, then loading up whatever was left and donating it to Goodwill.

I think the clutter is possibly worse this time.

Our youngest doesn't really remember the last (only) time we had a yard sale, which was about 8 years ago, so she's like how hard can it be? We put some of our extra things outside, and people come to our house and give us MONEY for our old stuff.  Sweet.


When you've had 28 years of life together and raised two kids, and have only had one real yard sale, you don't simply "put some stuff outside".

You guys.  We have been tearing our house apart, drawer by drawer and shelf by shelf, for the last two weeks.  Picture basically moving out of your house, but without actually opening the door.  Every single thing we own, every book, every DVD, every collectible, every garment, every dish and plate and craft item and box of crayons and set of matching bathroom soap dispenser/cup/trash can/rug/shower curtain...has been taken out of its previous resting place, considered, and either put in the "out" pile(s) or cleaned and put away.  Every.  single.  thing.

I found things I didn't even know we owned.  Curtains that have never been used.  Duplicate copies of books and movies.  Lamps we forgot about in the backs of closets.  Unframed Monet prints. Rabbit feeders. Seven packs of playing cards, three of them unopened.  (UNopened.  Just--why).  It turns out I still have three (THREE) Kitchenaid stand mixers, from my bakery days.  Something like 8 springform cake pans and 10,000  bottles of unopened food coloring and airbrush colors.  There's a giant bowl full of what looks like enough pencils to put the whole third world through grade school.  I pulled out all Those Clothes that haven't fit in a decade, tried to avoid saying wow, was my butt actually that small? out loud, and pretended to be unsentimental about putting them out.

It looks like there was an explosion in a Pier 1/Toys R Us/Michaels/Macys strip mall, and it landed in our dining room, office, and spare bedroom.

Actually...there's a lot of really cool stuff here. We're definitely not getting rid of any's more like we're just downsizing our life.

We started week before last, and I think we're finally more or less done conquering the downstairs at this point, after spending literally all day again yesterday until 8 p.m., doing an even more ruthless sweep of "If you haven't used it in the last year (or decade), get rid of it!"

I still have to go upstairs (cue Jaws music) and see how it looks, but our youngest has got a good start on it and has torn apart the whole floor already, so if I'm right, I *should* just have to go through the bookshelves and decide do I really need EVERY one of Tom Clancy's novels?  Will I ever use this knitting machine that I bought in 1988?  

Then we just have to carry all of the upstairs...downstairs, and then outside.

Of course, we still have to sort through the garage storage racks, all my old cake decorating tools, a storage shed, the attic, and the garden shed, set it up and label everything, and we're home free.

What does feel great is that, in every room, we have literally cut the volume of stuff in each space by at least a third.  The bookshelves, cabinets, shelves, and closets are now all perfectly cleaned, organized and very sparsely and tastefully populated.  There are actually a lot of empty shelves in some of the closets and cabinets, because what's left is the stuff we actually use.

I feel like Martha Stewart is definitely my spirit animal this week...

I'm not looking forward to the rest of this week, but I am REALLY looking forward to seeing some uncluttered spaces in our house again.

And...I've promised myself a comfy new living room chair (or two) with the money we raise, because the ones we're still using are unfit for use unless you throw a sheet over them.  Not even kidding.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Peace Out, Man

I thought about writing a whole post about people who should be nicer than this guy from my last post, but then...I looked outside at the sunshine and the daisies and echinacea blooming together outside my office window this morning.  There are at least five different kinds of bees going about their business, birds are singing, and the garden is sparkling where the water droplets have clung to the flower petals and the dill heads, and I thought  you know what? no.

Today, I'm just going back outside.  We are fortunate enough to live on our own 5-acre oasis of calm that is a world away from the craziness everywhere, and though I complain more or less constantly about the overwhelming number of things that need done outside on any given day...I am grateful for every inch of the little piece of heaven we are blessed to live on.  Less weeds would be great, but still.

There are currants to pick in the shade of the weeping birch this afternoon, and the raspberries and blueberries are ripening faster every day.  There are bushels of gorgeous roses blooming.  We have mint/lemon balm sun tea soaking up the heat on the back deck, and there is a hammock ready for a sunset break with a good book.  What else could I need?

It's going to be 100 degrees today, so it's also a perfect day for the beach, and there are tons of choices around here. Later I'm making potato salad and my mom's cucumber salad, and panna cotta to go with the berries after our BBQ dinner tomorrow to celebrate this great country's independence day.  We can watch all the big fireworks displays in the county from our hot tub under the full moon tomorrow night, with no crowds to fight, no traffic in sight, the cel phones off, and I will be with two of my favorite people in the world.

If you stop and take a breath sometimes, you realize how much you have to be grateful for.

Have a fun and safe 4th, you guys.

My little piece of heaven

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

More Customer Service Nightmares

As I may have mentioned before, we have a lot of awesome customers, except for the Chosen Few who feel that it is their job to occasionally call me and behave like a total (insert favorite adjective *here*).

Or, as Aussa at Aussa Lorens so succinctly put it..."throw some shade".

I had another of these lovelies call me the day before last, at 7:30 a.m.  I should have known.  Because my FIRST rule of phone etiquette is to never answer my business phone before 9 a.m.  Never.  NOT. EVER.

I have also learned that ANY call that comes through on my phone caller I.D. as "Restricted"...also do not answer those EVER.  Because anyone who PAYS to have their phone number hidden is hiding something.  Like the fact that they're an ass.

But I was caught off guard the other morning, namely because I thought it might be the Sheriff's office calling.  Not that that's a normal thing around here, but our daughter had her smartphone stolen the night before (insert lots of cursing about thieves *here*), and I had talked a couple of times with an officer by phone.  So I was thinking it was the nice sheriff guy calling at 7:30 a.m. the next morning to tell me Hey, we found your phone, because we're awesome, and here's a winning lottery ticket, too.

No.  UNfortunately, it wasn't the cops.  It was a customer, whose name may or may not be RICHARD.  I didn't answer the phone as a business, BECAUSE IT'S AN HOUR AND A HALF TOO EARLY FOR THAT.  I just said "Hello", because it's 7:30 a.m. and I'm thinking it's the cops, so I may as well just answer as myself.

This guy doesn't even pause.  He jumps right in, ignoring the fact that IT IS 7:30 A.M., which is a time of day that my brain only has certain sectors functioning--namely the Take Out The Dog sector and the Is There Coffee Made Yet sector.   So my ears heard this:  "I ordered from you last year, and my delivered product was too short.  I ordered 16" and I had stuff that was 12-13" long in there."

Me:  *blank stare at my phone because no coffee yet*

Him:  And I have some other questions too.  I just sent an order online just now and I haven't had a response yet.  Did you get my order?  Did it not go through?  Because I have some concerns about last year's order.

Me:  *blank stare at my phone because no coffee yet*

Him:  Hello?

Me:  Yes.  Hi.  I'm not at my desk for another hour and a half, so I haven't had time to check my e-mail yet, but I will call you back after I get in, OK?

Of course my office is about 20 feet from the couch, but if I don't set some boundaries, I will have people calling me at 10 p.m. to talk about their orders, so I'm very strict about my office hours.

We hung up.

I called him back at 9 a.m., STILL thinking at this point that this is a normal customer.  As in, someone who just needs to place an order, and who is also probably an early riser.

hahahaHAHAAAHAA.  Oh, no, my dears.  That would be too easy.

I'd try to make this shorter but...I can't.  You're here, so you know that already.

He morphed into a total condescending, snide, pompous, JERK.  The third (or fourth, I lost count) time that I spoke with him, Shane was actually sitting here, so he is my witness.  I never lost my cool, and I was never rude to this guy, but he was one of those people who just kept pushing and pushing.

I double-checked his original order, and he had in fact ordered 14" wood, so the 12 and 13" pieces would make sense. I told him this.  He disagreed, even though I have the 14" noted in three places on his account from last year.

moving on

He then also "needed to ask" me about the type of wood he got (a year ago).  He's pretty sure it wasn't all the right variety.  I cheerfully said I couldn't possibly know what was on that truckload, because it was a year ago, but I'll make a note to MAKE SURE that we get the species right this year.  Because Shane, who can tell what kind of tree it is, by the sawdust it leaves, couldn't possibly know wood species as well as a realtor.

NEXT, he needed to to point out that our delivery fees also "aren't fair".  Because he checked, and we charge $40 to come to him (he's across a state line) and yet we "deliver for free to towns in our state that are, in fact, further away" than him.  I said, yes, that's right.  We charge $40.00 any time we cross the state line even if you live one inch over the state line.  We had to draw a line somewhere, dude.

He wouldn't let it go.  He was like " charge more, even though I'm closer.  I understand, then, from what you're saying, that you treat your Idaho customers better than you treat your Washington customers.  I see."

Me:  No.  We just charge a delivery fee to your state.  For anyone  in   that   state.

Him:  I'd like to know why you have that policy.

He actually argued this point AT SOME LENGTH, stating repeatedly that it's unfair, because he's closer than some of the places we go for free and he doesn't "understand our policy".

He just wouldn't let it go.

Me:  *wth?*  We've had our delivery fees in place for twelve years, so I couldn't probably tell you why they were put in place, but I could probably have Shane call you.

Him:  Yes.  I'd like someone to call me and explain to me why you unfairly charge a delivery fee, when I'm not actually that far away.

Me:  *gritting teeth*  I will make a note of that, but the fees will still apply. *brilliant idea* You may be able to find someone closer to your location there, who could deliver for free, if you check around.

Him:  Oh, I see.  So, just to be clear, so I understand you, you're saying I should find someone else to buy from?  Let me tell you something--

Me:  No, I'm trying to help you.  You could definitely save money if you look around and find someone who can deliver for free.  OR you can come pick it up in Idaho and save the $40 that way (YOU TIGHTWAD).

Him:  I see.  Let me tell you something.  When I call a business for a service, I expect to get that service.  I do not expect to be told by that business to go shop somewhere else.  Because that is what you're saying.  Just so we're clear and I heard you right, I'm calling you to order a service, and you're telling me to find another company to do business with?    


Him:  And when I call for a service, I also don't expect to be told that "Shawn" will call me back.

Me:  Shane.

Him:  So yes, I would like "Shawn" to call me back, because--

Me:  Shane.

Him:  I'm hearing sarcasm now.  I do not expect to hear sarcasm from a business.  I want him to call me back and explain your delivery fee policies to me.

Me:  His name is Shane. (you idiot, if you're going be insulting, at least get the name right). I will pass all of this info along to Shane, and he can help you from there.  Good bye.


WHO does this?  Seriously??? Does he think we're going to call and explain to him our decision-making process from twelve damn years ago and possibly field arguments as to why it's unfair?  I could scream.

Neither of us ever raised our voice, but he was calmly nasty and condescending and, I don't know...(word, word, what's the word?)...when someone keeps trying to cause a fight? Confrontational? Antagonistic.  That's what it felt like.  Like he was trying to upset me.

I hung up, screamed and waved my arms around at Shane for a bit, wiped my tears (because I always cry when I'm really mad, which kinds of sucks), and poured a really strong drink.  Two, actually...

I haven't heard back from him.  Possibly because I blocked his email, because I also know from experience with jerks like this, that they LOVE to have the last word.  After a nasty phone call, they ALways sit down and compose an even nastier email, saying how unhappy they are with our service, or our company, and how they can't believe how rude I was, and how much they hate me and that I am possibly also responsible for world hunger and the Fall of Man.

If he does call back, I'm ready to explain to him, so there's no mistake, that, we aren't suggesting you shop around--we're telling you:  We won't sell to you, ever.

unfortunately, I work BOTH desks...

Yesterday I spent almost all day outside in the garden with my animals, listening to the breeze and the chickens, weeding and picking berries for currant-raspberry jam.  Today I have been out there again all morning, shaping the roses and enjoying the sun.  And I'm going back out there now.

At least with plants and animals, you know where you stand.

hold my calls, I'm hanging with Bindi today

PS-  thanks for listening.  again