Tuesday, December 27, 2016

IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO BUY CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR GEORGE




I think everyone is acquainted with a person who’s nearly impossible to Christmas shop for – someone who either has no hobbies or interests or who is so fussy, he or she hates just about everything.

For years, that person on my list has been George.

George is in his late 70s and is a dear family friend who’s always been extremely generous with his gifts for us. But the minute I think about Christmas shopping for him, I break out in hives.

The first few years, it wasn’t too bad. For one thing, George collected Titanic memorabilia. So I bought him everything and anything I could find about the Titanic – photos, posters, puzzles, books. I probably even would have gone on Ebay and bid on a frozen chunk of the iceberg the ship hit…if I could have figured out how to wrap it up for George for Christmas.

But then came the fateful day he said, “I’m tired of my Titanic collection. In fact, I’m going to sell everything. I’m sick of looking at the stuff.”

My heart sank (pun intended), especially since I’d just ordered a framed mirror with the Titanic hand-painted on it.

“But I’ve decided to start collecting wooden replicas of old sailing ships and tall ships now,” he said.

My spirits rose slightly. I checked the Internet to see what I could find out about the wooden ships.

I found out they cost just about as much as a new human-sized speedboat.

Nevertheless, I saved my pennies, and the next Christmas, I bought George a replica of the Cutty Sark. And the year after that, it was a replica of the USS Constitution, followed by the HMS Victory. To my delight, he “oohed” and “aahed” over each of them. I was thrilled.

But a few months later, George’s best friend told me about a garage sale the two of them were having together, and emailed me a photo of all of the things they had gathered to sell. There, sitting on one of the yard-sale tables, were the ships I’d bought for George – the same ships I had sacrificed going to the movies – and basically, eating – for, so I could afford them.

“Well, they were really nice, but they turned out to be dust collectors,” George explained when I asked him about the ships. “And at my age, I’ve decided it’s time to start getting rid of stuff instead of collecting it.”

Once he stopped collecting things, that’s when my headaches began. I thought gift cards would be the answer to all of my problems, so I bought him one to a store he usually visited at least three times a week.

“I hate gift cards,” he said. “They make me feel as if the person who bought them was too lazy to put any thought or effort into the gift. Also, they are embarrassing to use. I usually just toss them out. I mean, I wouldn’t insult anyone else by giving the cards to them.”

Toss them out?  I couldn’t believe my ears! I was ready to go fish his trash barrels to reclaim my gift.

I noticed that most of his clothes were in a camouflage pattern, so I asked him about it one day.

“I love camouflage,” he said. “It’s all I wear now.” 

So the next Christmas, I bought him a nice hooded jacket in a camouflage pattern, with a winter hat to match.

His expression when he opened the gifts, however, resembled that of someone who’d just found rat droppings in his cereal. I had the distinct feeling his next words weren’t going to be, “Ooh! I love these!”

Unfortunately, I was right.

“I wear only military camouflage,” he said tightly. “And not the fake stuff. I wear the real government-issued camouflage clothing. This shirt and hat are hunters’ camouflage, not the official military one. I don’t hunt. I don’t kill animals!”

Heck, I’d always thought camouflage was camouflage. If you could hide in the bushes while wearing it and blend in with the trees, then it was fine to me – but obviously not for George. And how was I supposed to get official military camouflage clothing anyway? Go mug a Marine?

“Make a donation to his favorite charity,” one of my friends suggested the next year when I mentioned I would rather be rolled in honey and staked near a swarm of killer bees than to have to shop for a Christmas gift for George once again. “He can’t complain about a gift like that. It would make him look worse than Scrooge!”

I thought she might have a good idea. So I tried to find out which charities George favored.

“Do you ever donate to any charities?” I asked him one day, trying to sound casual.

He shook his head and frowned. “The trouble with charities,” he said, “is you can’t tell the legitimate ones from the ones that are trying to rip you off. So I decided not to trust any of them and not donate at all. I’ve also decided to follow my father’s advice that charity begins at home!”

I rolled my eyes. It was official. George had just broken the world’s record for being the most impossible person on earth to buy a gift for.

So this year, when Christmas-shopping time rolled around once again, I stopped worrying about George. I knew that no matter what I bought him, he would hate it, so I decided to quit needlessly wasting money on him and just buy him some cheap stuff. That way, if he tossed it out, it wouldn’t be as painful to my wallet.

It took me all of 10 minutes to shop for his gifts because frankly, I didn’t care any more. I bought him a couple of his favorite candy bars, a few seed packets of his favorite garden flowers, some birdseed for his bird feeder, and a pouch of his favorite pipe tobacco. The total cost was less than $20. Then I wrapped the gifts and tossed them into a bigger box and wrapped that. I didn’t even think about George or his gifts again until Christmas.

“Fantastic!” he exclaimed when he opened them. “I LOVE everything!”

I honestly nearly needed CPR.

So this year will go down in history as the year I finally pleased George with my gifts.

But if you know of anyone who wants to buy a mirror with a hand-painted picture of the Titanic on it, just let me know.

 
                                                       #   #   #






 

 
CLICK HERE --------> https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/384106


 

 

 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I HAD THE BAD HABIT OF PICKING UP MY PRESCRIPTIONS AND THEN NEVER USING THEM



I think the fact that old pills and medication now can be dropped off  for proper disposal at designated police stations is a good idea. For one thing, it’s a safe way to get rid of pharmaceutical products that could be a danger to both society and the environment.

I sure do wish this program had been around years ago, however, when I really needed it.

Back in the early 1970s, when health-insurance companies paid 100 percent of medical bills, I got into the habit of rushing to the doctor’s office whenever I had even a minor ache or pain.

Looking back now, I realize I probably overdid it. I mean, I once saw the doctor because I had a painful hangnail. Another time, and I’m totally serious here, I rushed to the doctor’s because I had a “tight” feeling in my chest…which turned out to be caused by a too-small bra. It’s a wonder my insurance company didn’t dump me.

Still, I wasn’t half as bad as this woman, Charlotte, a former co-worker of mine. She used to schedule a battery of medical tests for herself every year during her vacation, just so she could spend the week in the hospital. I once asked her why on earth she’d want to waste all of her vacation time in the hospital.

“Because I can relax in bed all week, watch TV and have three meals personally delivered to my room, all free of charge!” she said. “How can you beat that?”

Seeing that one of her tests was a G.I. series that included a barium enema, I wasn’t all that tempted to try her free-vacation idea.

Back in those days, not only did insurance companies pay 100 percent for treatments and tests, there also was no limit to the length of time you could spend in the hospital. If you gave birth to a baby and wanted to stay there until he was old enough to start walking, you could. If you preferred to have an outpatient test done as an inpatient, you could do that, too.

As a result of my weekly visits to various doctors, I amassed quite a collection of medications. I don’t think there was body part I didn’t have a pill for. There were pills for headaches, cramps, toothaches, heartburn, hives, constipation, diarrhea, athlete’s foot and lumbago. Most of the time, I’d have the prescriptions filled and then just shove them into the cupboard “just in case” I needed them.

Which was why one night, as I was digging through the top shelf of a kitchen cupboard I rarely used, searching for a set of glasses I’d kept up there since my wedding, I discovered a miniature pharmacy tucked away in the corner. There were dozens of prescription bottles, most of them still full and all of them long expired.

My first instinct had been to flush them down the toilet, but then the thought of their toxins entering the ground through the leach field out back made me veto that idea. I also knew that tossing them into the trash wasn’t a good option, either. So I called the local pharmacy and asked the pharmacist what I should do with about 500 assorted really ancient pills. He told me to bring them in and he’d properly dispose of them for me.

I opened every prescription bottle, which took most of the night and half my fingernails because I had to wrestle with all of the childproof caps, and emptied the pills into a plastic bag.

The next afternoon, I grabbed the bag of pills and headed toward the pharmacy. That’s when it suddenly dawned on me that if, for any reason, the police had to stop me and they discovered a big bag of pills of every color of the rainbow sitting in my car, I’d more than likely end up spending the rest of my life sharing a prison cell with some heavily tattooed woman named “Amazonia.”

“Why didn’t I keep the pills in their prescription bottles?” I muttered, thinking back to every episode of the TV show “Cops” I’d seen where the driver they’d pulled over had protested, “I’m not a drug dealer! Honest, officer, I don’t know WHERE that half-pound sack of pills in the glove compartment came from!” as they slapped the handcuffs on him.

My knuckles were white on the steering wheel as I drove down the highway at the exact posted speed-limit. The entire time, my mind was reeling. Were my tires bald? Was my muffler hanging off? Was my neighbor’s cat clinging to the front grille? I didn’t want to draw attention to my car for any reason. The fact that the pharmacy was located right next door to the local police station didn’t help ease my tension any.

By the time I pulled into the parking lot at the pharmacy, my upper lip was glistening with nervous perspiration.

The pharmacist’s eyes widened when I handed the bag of pills to him. “Wow! That’s quite a collection you have there,” he said. “It kind of looks like a bag of trick-or-treat candy!”

All the more reason why I was relieved to be rid of it.

Flash forward about 30 years. Insurance companies now are so strict, not only are they very selective about what they will or will not cover, procedures like gallbladder surgery, which used to require at least a week’s stay in the hospital, now are done during the patient’s lunch hour…and then the patient goes right back to work.

And I was waiting at the checkout in a supermarket the other day, when a woman holding a tiny baby wrapped in a blue blanket got into line behind me.

“He’s so cute!” I gushed. “How old is he?”

The woman looked at her watch. “Four hours.”

As a result of the insurance companies cutting way back on their benefits, I have learned to bite the bullet and not rush to the doctor’s office every time I sneeze or break a fingernail. And I can’t even remember the last time I needed a prescription, so my cupboard no longer is cluttered with bottles of unused pills. So I guess there is a plus side to the changes.

But I can’t help but wonder where poor Charlotte is spending her vacations nowadays.


                                                     #   #   #





CLICK HERE ------>  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/384106

Thursday, December 15, 2016

PREPARING TO BATTLE THE BIG CHILL

I'm sorry to post this so late this week, but I have been dealing with an abscessed tooth that also caused a throat infection, which made me feel a little less humorous than usual! Fortunately, it's on the mend now, and I will be able to eat my way through about 75 buffet lunches during the holiday season!


                                        *  *  *  *  *



I keep hearing on the news that the Big Chill is heading this way for the weekend. According to the weather forecasters, any exposed flesh will freeze in 20 minutes. So I have visions of myself wrapped up like The Mummy,  just so I can go out and get my mail. I don’t mind cold weather, but when I have to wear so many layers of clothes that I start to worry about falling down and never being able to get up again, then that’s a little TOO cold, even for me.
I guess what worries me the most about really cold weather is my furnace. Ever since I bought it seven years ago, it’s had a habit of working when it feels like it. Usually, that means if you happen to turn it on in July, it will run fine. But if you turn it on in mid-winter, it will do nothing.


I vividly can recall, a few years ago, during this exact week, when the furnace we had in our former house decided to die. I’d climbed out of bed on a chilly Saturday morning in December, padded out to the living room and turned up the thermostat to 68 degrees. I then waited for the familiar sound of the furnace kicking on.
Nothing happened.

I cranked up the thermostat to 80. Still nothing.
I opened my mouth to shout to my sleeping husband, but then changed my mind. First, I decided, I would try everything possible to get the furnace to pop on. If I failed, then, and only then, would I wake up Rip Van Breslin.
First I checked the oil tank. The gauge said it was half-full (or, if you are a pessimist, half-empty). Then I checked the circuit breakers. They were fine. Finally, I hit the furnace’s reset button. Nothing happened. There was only one thing left to do…write two obituaries – one for the furnace and one for myself…for waking up my husband on a Saturday morning.
In a last-ditch effort, I called my cousin, the heating/refrigeration technician, and asked for advice. He ran through the list of everything I’d already done, then said there was one more thing I could try.
“You know those two screws on the motor that are holding the wires down?” he asked me. “Well, sometimes you can jump-start the furnace if you take a pair of needle-nose pliers and touch the two screws with them at the same time.”
“Won’t I get a shock if I do that?” I naively asked.
“Yeah, but it will only be a mild one.”
I woke up my husband.
“Well, we’re not calling a repairman till Monday,” he said after he tried and failed to get the furnace to pop on. “They charge double, even triple on weekends. I’d rather wear a hat and long underwear around the house than pay all that extra money. Besides that, the furnace is practically new. It can’t be broken!”
“Well, I hate to say it,” I said, “but the blue tint on my lips and my teeth chattering like castanets are a pretty good indication that it just might be!”
So all of that weekend, I suffered with a frozen nose and a bloated bladder (from drinking 400 cups of hot tea to keep my body from turning into a life-sized Popsicle).
The repairman arrived on Monday afternoon and spent a lot of time fiddling with the furnace. At one point, he actually got it to pop on, only to have it pop off again. This continued until he finally got frustrated, muttered a few things under his breath and called for backup. Another repairman arrived within 15 minutes.
Together, the two of them stared at the furnace as if it were a UFO. “I think it’s the heat sensor,” one of them said. “And let’s change the nozzle, just to be safe.”
An hour later, the familiar sound of the furnace running filled the house, followed by the long-awaited blast of warm air. I removed my scarf and earmuffs.
“That should take care of it,” one of the repairmen said. “If not, be sure to give us a call.”
“How much do I owe you?” I asked, bracing myself for cardiac arrest.
He shrugged. “You’ll get a bill in the mail.”
I didn’t like the sound of that. Visions of them leisurely sipping coffee and taking extra time to add every little bolt and screw to my bill, filled my head. Christmas shopping, I decided, would have to be put on hold until that bill arrived.
A week later, I still hadn’t received the bill, so I got up that morning with every intention of calling the billing office and asking about my balance. First, however, I turned up the heat.
The furnace made three loud booming sounds, coughed and died. The strong smell of oil began to fill the house. The furnace then struggled to pop on again and made a helicopter sound. I, picturing my house going airborne and landing somewhere in Munchkin Land, dashed to the furnace’s emergency shut-off switch and flipped it. Then I called the repairman.
I was put on hold for 45 minutes.
There have been only a few times in my life when I’ve been really angry, like the time I found out that my supposedly sick boyfriend actually had taken my best friend to a drive-in movie, but I honestly can say that after minute number 35 on hold, I was feeling just about that angry. As each minute continued to tick by, I found myself wishing I had one of those huge old-fashioned furnaces with the fire roaring inside, so when the repairman finally did show up and was bending over to look inside, I could shove him into it and slam the door – kind of like what Hansel and Gretel did to the Wicked Witch (hey, I told you I was angry!).
The repairman arrived two hours later. This time, he decided it was a clogged fuel line. Maybe it was sediment from the bottom of the tank, he said. Or maybe it was a kink in the line. Or maybe it was air in the line. Or maybe it was a clump of jellified oil.
I was waiting for him to say that maybe there was a family of tiny trolls living in there, but he stopped talking and set to work clearing the line.
Fortunately, it worked. And the furnace continued to run fine for all the rest of that winter. When the bill arrived, however, I was forced to finish all of my Christmas shopping at Dollar Tree.
So now I’m waiting to see if my current furnace, known for being cruel and sadistic, will behave and keep running through this upcoming Arctic blast. In the past, it has stopped working due a wasp’s nest in the vent, a nest of mice in the vent and an accumulation of spiders’ webs in the vent.
This time of year, however, it’s probably too cold for the wasps, mice and spiders to be crawling into the outside vent.
But with my luck, it will be the aforementioned family of tiny trolls.
On second thought, make that Santa’s elves.


                                              #   #   #




 

CLICK HERE ---->  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/384106


Monday, December 5, 2016

THE FOOLPROOF HOLIDAY BAKING GUIDE

(Note: This is reprinted from my book, Happy Holidays! Now Hand me my Tranquilizers!, which was published back in 2013).


I was watching a cooking show on TV the other night, and the woman, wearing a crisp, white apron and a pearl necklace, was giving pointers on how to efficiently manage baking time and minimize stress during the holiday season. She recommended getting the time-consuming chore of baking out of the way at least two weeks prior to Christmas, then freezing everything.  She even suggested setting up and adhering to a strict baking schedule to make the chore go more smoothly.

The truth is, “baking” is a 4-letter word to me. After seeing the creations that have emerged from my oven over the years, I truly believe my stove might benefit from a visit from an exorcist. Still, glutton for torture that I am, I find myself baking – or at least attempting to – every holiday season.

If, as the cooking expert suggested, I were to write out a holiday baking schedule and a step-by-step “how-to” guide, it would look something like this:


Dec. 10:  Head to the supermarket and buy enough flour, sugar (granulated, powdered, and brown), butter, food coloring, decorative candies, and cookie cutters to open your own Sarah Lee outlet.


Dec. 11 -9:15 a.m. – Put on a sweatshirt and sweatpants, tie your hair back in a pony tail and slip into your favorite apron – even the one that has so many stains on it (some of which date back to Thanksgiving of 1982), it looks as if it’s been decorated with a map of a Brazilian rain forest.


9:30 a.m. - Clean out any petrified food remnants from the oven.  Just to be safe, cover all smoke detectors with thick towels or plastic wrap before turning on the oven. Preheat to 350 degrees. When the oven stops smoking, start baking.


10:00 a.m. – Quadruple the ingredients in your cookie recipe. Can’t figure out how to multiply 1/8 teaspoon by four? Then just make an educated guess. It shouldn’t matter…much. Mix all cookie ingredients together in a bowl about the size of a washtub.  Use your hands to form the dough into a ball that's about the size of a basketball and weighs approximately 15 pounds.


10:18 a.m. - Tear the dough apart as you frantically search for one of your artificial fingernails, which you just noticed is missing.


10:20 a.m. - Sprinkle a sheet of waxed paper with flour, then heave the ball of dough onto it.  With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a thickness of about ¼ inch.


10:30 a.m. - With a butter knife, pry the ball of dough from the rolling pin, to which it is now clinging as if it were made of quick-drying cement.  Completely cover the dough with flour and once again attempt to roll it out.


10:45 a.m. - Select festive Santa, reindeer, Christmas tree and star-shaped cookie cutters, and begin to cut out cookies from the dough.


10:55 a.m. - Dig Santa’s decapitated head out of the cookie cutter and stick it onto his body, reshaping it with your fingers.  Don’t worry if he looks as if he’s been in some tragic, disfiguring accident or if Rudolph has only three legs.  You can cover any imperfections with frosting later on.


11:10 a.m. - Pop the cookies into the oven.


11:18 a.m. - Check the cookies.  If they’re nearly black on the bottoms and still pale and raw on the tops, then they’re baking normally for most ovens.


11:25 a.m. - Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool. As they do, they should become as hard as Pinocchio’s head.


11:35 a.m. - With a spatula, gently lift the cookies from the cookie sheets, making sure to collect any pieces that break off so you can be reattach them with frosting.


11:45 a.m. - Mix powdered sugar, water, milk and butter together to make the frosting. When the spoon stands up straight in the bowl, the frosting is about the right consistency.  Divide the frosting into four small bowls and add drops of different food colorings to each.  Fill a cake-decorating tube with frosting.


12:00 p.m. - Slowly squeeze the tube, applying even pressure. Continue to squeeze until the veins pop out on your forehead and your hand goes numb.  Only then will the first signs of frosting actually appear at the tip of the tube.


12:10 p.m. - Clean up the huge blob of frosting that shoots like a cannonball out of the tube and hits the refrigerator door.  Lose your temper and viciously attack the decorating tube, stabbing it with a knife and ripping it open.  With your fingers, smear frosting all over the cookies.  Use colored sprinkles and those little silver candy balls that look like BB-gun ammunition to strategically conceal any flaws.


12:30 p.m. - Stand back and admire your handiwork.  Watch the red frosting seep into the green frosting and turn it to a yucky shade of brown.  Watch Santa’s beard absorb the red frosting and turn pink.  Reject and eat any cookies that don’t meet your high standards. 




12:45 p.m. - Vow that if your stomach cramps ever subside, you’ll never again eat 23 broken cookies in 15 minutes.


1:00 p.m. - Carefully wrap the remaining cookies and gently place them in the freezer.


Dec. 24:  9:00 a.m. - Open the freezer and discover that you accidentally set a 22-pound turkey on top of the cookies and pulverized them.


9:30 a.m. - Head to the nearest bakery, buy a few dozen festively decorated cookies and pass them off as your own homemade ones.

Then pray no one asks you for the recipe.


                                                               #   #   # 












CLICK HERE ------->  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/384106



Sunday, November 27, 2016

I'M DOOMED TO CATCH A COLD


 

At the moment, I’m sitting here waiting to come down with a bad cold.   I know it’s inevitable, so any second now, I expect to be sneezing until my nose resembles Rudolph’s, and my throat feels as if I just gargled with thorns. 

Why am I so convinced I’m going to get a cold?  Well, after what happened two days ago, I am positive that not only I, but also half the population of Concord, soon will be sneezing and wheezing.

It all started when I went to Concord to do some shopping and was waiting in the checkout line in a really crowded store. The clerk at the register looked…well, as if she should be picking out her headstone.  Her nose was neon red, her eyes were watery, and her cough was so deep, it sounded like a lion’s roar.  At one point (and I am totally serious here) she coughed so hard, she had to turn away from the customer and adjust her dentures.

If I hadn’t already been waiting in line for so long, I honestly would have switched to another register.  But glutton for punishment that I was, I stayed in “Typhoid Mary’s” line, even after I heard her telling a customer ahead of me that she was just getting over a cold.

If her current condition was what she called, “getting over” a cold, then I figured she previously must have been in intensive care.

Ten minutes later, she finally rang up my items…and that’s when she did the unthinkable.   When she tried to separate the plastic bags to get one for my items, she LICKED her fingers!

But she didn’t stop there. Usually I use my debit card when I go shopping, but on this particular day, I had enough cash with me, so I paid in cash. Big mistake. When the clerk counted back my change, she once again licked her fingers to separate the bills.  I never thought the day would come when I’d ever refuse money, but believe me, I was ready to tell her to keep every penny.

She handed my change to me – a $5 bill and two $1 bills - and I hesitated, staring wide-eyed at the money. I was pretty sure my expression couldn’t have looked more repulsed if I’d just found out she’d used the money for toilet paper. Reluctantly, I finally took the cash, using only my thumb and forefinger.

All the way home in the car, I kept glancing at the two plastic bags lying on the seat next to me.  I pictured thousands of fuzzy, fang-toothed cold germs dancing all over them and chanting, “We are breeding like wildfire!  You can’t escape us!”
I swore I even could hear evil cackling.

By the time I got home, I was so paranoid, I didn’t want to touch those bags, not even with a pair of five-foot tongs.  So I left them out in the car.

A short while later, I, armed with a can of Lysol, returned to the car and sprayed every inch of the outsides of the bags.  Then, smiling with satisfaction, I carried them into the house and put away their contents.

Later that night, one of my friends called and I told her about the Typhoid Mary incident. 

She was silent for a moment, then said, “Well, if the clerk licked her fingers to separate the bags, and then she put your items into the bags, everything she touched had just as many germs on it as the bags did, right?”

My face paled and my heart began to race.  She was right! The clerk had used her germ-infested, spitty fingers to bag my items. And I had handled every single item in those bags! My mind reeled. What had I done after touching them? Had I rubbed my eyes? Scratched my nose? Sucked my thumb?

“I have to hang up!” I breathlessly told my friend. “I’m going to go wipe down everything I bought today, and then I’m going to go take a really hot shower and use anti-bacterial soap from head to toe, to kill the germs!”

She laughed. “It’s way too late for that! Believe me, the cold germs have already built a village in your nose hairs and are mapping a direct route up to your sinuses as we speak. Face it, you’re doomed.”

Her unsympathetic words did little to console me. I made a mental note to “unfriend” her.

So here I am…sitting and waiting for the inevitable cold symptoms to appear.  I’m not sure if the heat is up too high or if I’m beginning to get a fever, but I suddenly feel a little flushed.  And my chest is also starting to feel funny – kind of congested and constricted.

Either that, or my bra is too tight.

Just to be safe, I think I’d better stock up on tissues.


                                                 #   #   #





 


 

 

CLICK HERE ---->  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/384106

Sunday, November 20, 2016

YOU'RE NEVER TOO OLD TO START A NEW CAREER (I THINK!)


They say you’re never too old to start something new, and lately, that seems to be proving true for me in my senior years.

First of all, I recently began working as a copy editor, editing mystery shoppers’ reports. Mystery shoppers are people who are hired to eat at restaurants or go shopping at various stores and then fill out reports about customer service, product quality and the cleanliness of the facility. My job is to edit these reports so they make sense and sound professional. I also have to make certain the shoppers’ narratives match their scoring.

For example, on a report I recently edited, a shopper wrote: “Susie, our food server, was amazing. She was sociable and smiling, she recommended appetizers and specials, she kept our water glasses filled, and she checked back on us several times to make certain everything was OK.” 

Then, on the next question, “On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being excellent and 1 being poor, please rate the server.”

The shopper scored her only a 2. I changed it to a 5. I mean, other than giving them their food free of charge and standing there cutting their meat and feeding it to them, I don’t think poor Susie could have done much more to gain points.

On another form, the question was: “What was the best thing about your dining experience at this restaurant?”

The shopper answered: “The guy I went with.”

Some of the clients’ questions on the reports, however, make me chuckle. For example, one of the questions asks: “Did the employee offer you a departing greeting?”

A departing greeting? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Maybe a “departing or closing comment” might sound a little better?

And most of the restaurants want their servers to try to upsell to the patrons. For example, if the customer orders a burger, the server should suggest fries or onion rings to go with it. If the customer orders a piece of pie, the server should suggest topping it off with a scoop of ice cream.

But the question on the form asks: “Did the server suggestively try to sell you any additional food items?”

When I first read the question, without understanding the full meaning of it, a vision of a female server dressed “suggestively” in lingerie came to mind, as she sat on the customer’s lap and cooed, “How about a nice turkey dinner, big boy?”

And then there is the busboy question: “Were the bussers busy cleaning or serving guests?”
I pictured them with wet cloths, “cleaning” the guests.

One shopper was sent to report on five bars in one day, which involved buying a drink at each one and then sitting and observing the bartender. He ordered straight whiskey at each bar. By the time he filled out his fifth report, I barely could understand a word he’d written.

And then there are the shoppers who can’t seem to follow instructions. One client wanted the shopper to take a photo of her meal before she took a bite of it because he was interested in how appealing the food’s presentation looked. Well, the shopper submitted a lovely photo of the exterior of the restaurant, including the parking lot.  I haven’t figured out that one yet.

But I must say I’m truly enjoying the job because it’s always interesting. And I have to confess, I really am learning something new every day.

My other job began just two weeks ago, and it’s an entirely new venture for me.
 
There is this new online personality called Greta Grumble. Greta is in her mid-70s and is a cross between Mrs. Doubtfire and Maxine, that grouchy old lady on the Hallmark greeting cards. Greta has just started posting weekly videos called, “Greta Grumble Complains,” on www.youtube.com.

And I am the one who is writing the humorous material for her.

It’s not an easy job to come up with a new topic every week and then write out a script for Greta to follow, but so far, I’ve written two, and I haven’t been fired yet, so I think that’s a good sign. But this whole Greta thing is still in its infancy, so I have no idea if she will gain popularity or not. But being the big dreamer that I am, I’m hoping Greta will go viral and gain over a million viewers (I’m not wishing for too much here!) so then I’ll be guaranteed job security.    


 In the first video, I have Greta complaining about the world’s obsession with large breasts (you can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IG7NvvNl75Q&t=17s  and in the second one, Greta complains about how kissing has changed over the years:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZPW5qHaTKY 
GRETA GRUMBLE

I write the stuff and then Greta ad-libs and adds her own comments, sound effects and gestures to bring everything to life. And then we pray that the finished product will make people laugh! All I can say is Greta is, well…a real character…um, unique.

Right now, however, I’m facing yet another rapidly approaching “Greta” deadline and I haven’t any clue what to write about. Talk about pressure. I’m praying I won’t crack, especially not this early in the job.

But who knows? If Greta becomes a hit, I just might end up getting a job writing for a big-time comedy show on TV and earning enough money to buy my own private island.

Hey, I may be older than dirt, but I still can dream big.

Meanwhile, I have to go edit a restaurant report now where the shopper has described the flavor of the food as tasting like sh*t.

As I said, it’s always interesting.
 

                                                                       #  #  #




 

 
CLICK HERE ------> https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/384106

Monday, November 14, 2016

DORRS POND MEANT SKATING...AND BOYS


It’s funny how now that I’m older, I don’t mind having warm weather in November. But back when I was a kid, I would have been panicking by now. Why? Because there HAD to be ice on the ponds for the Thanksgiving and Christmas school vacations.

When I was in junior high, the most popular winter hangout was Dorrs Pond on Manchester’s North End. On Friday nights, my friend Janet and I, our ice skates slung over our shoulders, would walk all the way from the West Side over to Dorrs Pond to go skating. The cool thing about skating there was it had a nice big hut with a fireplace and plenty of hot cocoa inside. And music was played over a loudspeaker so skaters could glide along to the songs.

But to be honest, the whole purpose of skating at Dorrs Pond wasn’t actually to skate. The real reason why junior-high kids gathered there on Friday nights and during school vacations was to meet members of the opposite sex. And back then, there was a strict protocol that had to be followed for the all-important “meeting.”

There was a certain section of the ice, a well-lit area of the pond in front of the hut, where the girls would skate in groups, while the boys circled them like vultures. Every few minutes, one of the boys would skate over to the girl of his choice, snatch her hat from her head and skate off with it…down to the dark, woodsy end of the pond. At this point, the girl was supposed to chase the boy so she could get her hat back. Thus, a meeting would ensue. And if the guy was really brave, he might even try to steal a kiss in the dark by using the old, “I’ll trade you your hat for a kiss,” blackmail trick.

Well, Janet and I usually skated until we were so chilled, we nearly lost all feeling in our legs, yet we never got our hats snatched. We even tried wearing hats that begged to be stolen, like fake rabbit-fur Cossack hats and multi-colored striped stocking caps with huge pompoms on them.

I think part of our problem was that it wasn’t easy to look attractive to members of the opposite sex when we were dressed in bulky ski-pants, three sweaters, long underwear, two pairs of socks, huge mittens and jackets so big and thick, a woman who was about to give birth to triplets could have worn one and no one would have suspected she was pregnant.

The guys, on the other hand, wouldn’t have been caught dead in anything warm. They had to look “cool” at all times, even if it meant turning blue, so most of them wore jeans or chinos and lightweight barracuda jackets.

Then, one Friday night…it finally happened. Janet and I, frozen, tired and red-cheeked, with our noses running, vowed to skate only one more time around the lighted part of the pond, and then head home. Suddenly, out of nowhere, we felt our hats being yanked off our heads. After we got over the initial shock, we raced after the two thieves.

They introduced themselves as Bob and Norm, two guys from the Pinardville area. Bob was short with a really bad complexion. Norm was tall, painfully thin, blonde and so pale, he looked as if he had never seen sunlight. Janet and I didn’t care. We figured that any guys who had the good taste to steal our hats couldn’t be all that bad.

We skated with Bob and Norm for a while, then agreed to meet them at Dorrs the next Friday night for an evening of couples’ skating. All the way home that night, Janet and I gleefully sang two popular songs of that era that perfectly fit our situation: “I Want to be Bobby’s Girl” and “Norman, Ooh-ooh, Ooh-ooh” (I may have left out one or two “oohs” there).

Anyway, the novelty of Bob and Norm wore off pretty quickly. They turned out to be really immature…and pesty. Janet didn’t have a phone, so she gave Bob my phone number. Whenever he wanted to talk to her, which was about 25 times a day during school vacation, he would call me and I would have to run across the street to get her. And when Janet wasn’t available, he would bend my ear for an hour. Norm, on the other hand, was shy. He called often, but said only two or three sentences per call.

And the first time we actually saw them in the daylight, Janet and I realized they had looked a lot better at the dark end of Dorrs Pond. Norm was even more ghostly looking in the light, and Bob’s teeth were in pretty bad need of a dentist. And naturally, Janet and I, being normal, superficial pre-teens, wanted our boyfriends to look like Ricky Nelson and Troy Donahue.

So we stopped going to Dorrs Pond for a while, and whenever Bob or Norm called, I made my mom say I wasn’t there. Eventually, the boys took the hint.

Years later, I was working as a newspaper correspondent and was covering a story about a new construction project. As I was standing there interviewing the project manager, one of the workers, clad in a tank top, snug jeans and work boots walked over to us. He was tall and blonde, very muscular, had a gorgeous tan, and flashed a gleaming white smile at me. No kidding, the guy could have posed for the centerfold in “Construction Hunks Monthly.”

“Hi, Sally!” the hunk greeted me.

I just stared blankly at him, my mouth hanging open.

“It’s me, Norm!” he said. “You remember me and Bob…Dorrs Pond?”

Now that I think about it, maybe I should go grind the rust off my ice skates and take up skating again.

                                                                            #   #   #


HELP GIVE A DOG OR CAT A MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Every year at this time, I offer signed copies my books, There’s a Tick in my Underwear!, Heed the Predictor  or Conceal the Predictor, that you can order directly from me for $10 each (the price includes shipping), with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the Manchester Animal Shelter – the shelter where I adopted my dog, Eden. To order, send $10 to me at PO Box 585, Suncook, NH 03275-0585.  I’ll even personally autograph it to anyone you’d like, if you specify his or her name (please print clearly). You also can pay me through my Paypal account (sillysally@att.net) if you want to use a credit or debit card. Thank you in advance! The animals and I really appreciate it!







CLICK HERE ---->https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/384106