Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Only the Good Die Young

I've had me a day. Cut off twice, passed on the left in a no passing zone and all before 7:30 AM. I tried to tell myself this wouldn't set the tone for the day. After all, I was expecting delivery of my new photo printer.

I worked on a dreamcatcher for Red's Christmas gift. The smell of the leather and the tacky feel of the sinew were soothing as I wound and knotted my way around the ring.

Staples arrived with the printer, drum cartridge and paper. The driver stacked them neatly in the livingroom. Happy dance, happy dance, happy dance. Yes, the day had a rough start, but in spite of the cold, grey, drizzle, things were decidely looking up. While the printer and drum acclimated to room temperature, I worked on the dream catcher, went to pick up Number 2 Daughter, and then sipped hot chocolate while chatting on the phone with my calligraphy buddy.

Call waiting is not really a good thing. Ordinarily, I ignore the beep if I'm on the phone, but I thought perhaps, this was Himself saying he would be getting out of school early and would be able to pick up Number One Daughter. I should have ignored it. It was my weeble widow neighbor across the street. She's screaming hysterically that she has an emergency, and she hangs up. I grab my jacket, dash across the street to find her Prissy-dancing in the kitchen with her hands flapping like loose birds. "Oh, I don't know what I'm gonna do. Oh, I don't know what's wrong."

Her oven is beeping incessantly, combined with Prissy's high pitched squeals, the muscles in the back of my neck to begin tighten. It seems the workman and his son had come to repair the furnce. Sonny thought he would be helpful and set the oven clock to the correct time zone.

The oven is modeled after one of the consoles NASA uses in Flight Control to launch the shuttles. There are no familar knobs, just digital displays, touch pads, up down arrows. The oven was wailing, and a red door lock light was flashing. I pushed the Clear pad. The red light went out, the wailing stopped, but only for a second. F9 gleamed brightly at me in the display window. I took umbrage at the audacity of the oven to speak in tongues.

I asked Prissy if she had the manual that came with the oven. Fortunately, Weebles never throw anything away. She handed me the manual and while the display light kept mocking me, I tried to skim the trouble shooting section. I'm also wondering why Prissy fields her monkeys to me instead of her daughter. I'm cursing the daughter for picking out a Star Wars model oven for a mother who still thinks Flash Gordon is state of the art. Finding nothing helpful, I handed the book to Prissy and told her to call the 800 number on the back.

"Oh, oh, p-please," she snuffled as she dabbed a wadded kleenex under her nose. "Would you call for me? I don't know what to do."

Okay, I'm...irritated (second choice word). I'm not only irritated with Prissy, but with myself for enabling her dependency and placing the call. You women out there, listen up! You don't need another person (DH, Significant Other) to make phone calls for you. You call the number, listen to the long menu, make a selection and wait in the queue. It is not brain surgery. If you have a problem with a piece of equipment, you call the manufacturer. Simple.

While waiting in queue hell listening to a cheery voice tell me how important my call was, I watched the clock tick closer to the time I had to pick up Number One Daughter from work. Letitia finally answered and walked me through steps to clear the oven memory. This involved cutting power to the oven. Fortunately, the service box was at the top of the cellar stairs behind the oven, clearly marked, and praise the Lord, she had circuit breakers! We basically rebooted the oven, twice, but it didn't work. I suspect Sonny in his infinite, good-hearted, stupidity had programmed the oven into the cleaning cycle. Prissy must have yanked the door open when the lock light came on. Letitia was telling me that contrary to what I thought F9 meant, it meant the fuse to the door was blown and would require a repair man. She kindly gave me the names of 3 companies in the area that serviced the make and model.

I explained to Prissy she would have to give them a call. After all, it was just past 5pm someone might still be in the office.

"W-would they come today?" Another piece of wadded kleenex appeared.

My very first instinct was to say, "What are you," I didn't finish the thought, and I bit my tongue, looked to the Heavens and tried not to let impolite words bubble through my lips. "No, they won't come tonight." You'll be lucky if you see someone by the second Tuesday of next week, I finished to myself.

She pulled an envelope with the name of the contractor who installed the oven and handed it to me. Yes, I fell again, and I placed the call. Jim was sympathetic, only installed the ovens didn't repair them. He said to call the place where she purchased the oven, as it was only a year or so ago, the oven was probably under warranty.

I asked Prissy where she bought the oven. "On Southbridge St." This was not very helpful. She sank into a chair. This wasn't helpful either. I shuffled through a file folder of oven memorabillia, and found the receipt. Thank God weebles don't throw anything away. I told her to call them, and dashed out the door without looking back.

Somehow, I've become a Weeble magnet. A comforting thought crossed my mind. I'm not going to die. Ever. Well, at least not for a very, very long time. Too many people depend on me. Besides, only the good die young and that leaves me out.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Yes, CJ, There Is Customer Service

Yesterday, I whined about the poor service I received at Staples in Shrewsbury. Today, I went to the store in Millbury. I had teacher reward checks and wanted to treat myself to a photo printer for Christmas. What a difference a day and a store makes! The manager, Joe waited on me. He was extremely knowledgeable and understood my concerns about image printing. The printer I was looking at was an inkjet printer, and not what I really wanted. He showed me the photo printers which print using an emulsion so they will look as if they came from a photo lab. He answered question after question was patient and didn't rush me.

Tam, the reason I wanted the Epson instead of another brand was in the literature I had read, the Epson ranked superior to the other brands because of their ink and paper.

I also needed a drum cartridge for the color laser printer, and it was not in stock. I told him I would go home and order online. He said he could do it right at the store. He ordered the drum, the photo printer, and a pack of paper for me and to be delivered to my house, tomorrow! He had everything sent to the register so all I had to do was give the cashier my coupons and pay the balance.

I did do one Weeble thing. I complained about the service I got from the Shrewsbury store. Joe was shocked, and said he would mention it to the manager of that store. Jenny might be angry at me for tattling, but it was necessary so other customers wouldn't have to put up with poor service.

I wanted to write a review of the Millbury store at Yahoo as I did yesterday about the Shrewsbury story. The Millbury store is so new it doesn't appear in the Yahoo directory. So, thank you, Joe, for the five star service, and the knowledge that there is, indeed, such a thing as customer service.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Signs of Periweeblepause

I've been wondering when one officially becomes a Weeble, wondering what the signs for periweeblepause might be. I think I might have discovered one today.

This afternoon Himself and I went to Staples to research an Epson photo printer. I'd like to get one, but want to see if the colors print true, and if the quality of the photos look like they were done at a photo lab.

We went to the Staples in Auburn. They didn't have the models I was looking at online, but they had two. The sales clerk was very helpful in answering questions about the two printers. Neither model was set up for a demo.

We went to the Staples in Shrewsbury. They had the model we saw in Auburn, and it was set up for a demo, but had no paper. A sales clerk came over to help us. The printer gave an error message that the print cartridges needed to be replaced. He went to ask his supervisor and was told to switch the cartridges from the other model. He tried and the machine still gave an error message. I asked if he could open up new cartridges. He went to get his supervisor.

The supervisor told us the manager wouldn't allow them to "waste" $40 for a demo. We left and I began fuming in the car. I think this must be a sign of periweeblepause. They don't want to waste $40 to put cartridges in a machine set up to do a demo, but they don't mind the thought of losing a potential sale of $129 plus tax, plus photo paper plus tax? Doesn't it stand to reason, another person might ask to see the machine demoed? If they don't want to do the demo, don't have the machine set up for it. It doesn't make sense, it's just bad marketing.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tuesday, It Must Be Vivaldi

Today started with the blues. The thermometer in the sunroom was pointing to 20. That's Fahrenheit and not Celsius. Sigh. I couldn't sip my morning cup of tea in the sunroom without watching a scum of ice form around the rim. Is it August, yet?

The car had a glaze of frost on the windows which I had to scrape off before I drove The Youngest to school. Why is it that car manufacturers can put the thin, heating wires in the back window, can heat the side view mirrors, but can't heat the @%$*@$ windshield without it having to be scraped?

On top of everything, I had an emergency Weeble run because Ma had to have a flu shot. That would be a 45 minute trip down, a five minute trip to the doctor, and then a 45 minute trip home.

I was whining about my morning to The Youngest, and she seranaded me with the world's smallest violin. Smart ( ! ) see if Santa brings anything for you!

I arrived at the Weebles at a quarter to 10. the appointment was at 10:30 and the doc's office is around the block. Ma was in fine form complaining. Dad didn't get up early enough to make the coffee for her. He didn't bring her a cup of coffee. He doesn't do anything. I started tuning up my own violin. "You're not that much of an invalid that you can't make your own coffee." She asked me why I was sitting down, and I told her we had plenty of time as her appointment wasn't until 10:30. She said it was at 10 and started putting her coat on. Then she called for a cup of coffee. I sat down before she ordered off with my head.

Dad couldn't find his house keys. No matter I have keys to the house and can lock the front door. I herd them to the car, lock the front door, am halfway downstairs when Ma shouts: "Where's my pockabook?" My first instinct was to shout, "What am I? The World Book of Information?" I remembered never miss an opportunity to keep your mouth shut. The purse was on the doorknob of the closet where she retrieved her coat, but I kept my mouth shut, opened the door and returned with her purse. Got everyone buckled in the car and headed down the road.

When I'm out and about, I try to observe other Weebles to see if they behave like my Weebles. My Weebles constantly bicker. Ma is the instigator, and she hits her stride when she has an audience, and the more public the venue, the better.

As we got out of the elevator, a Weeble lady got in. I held the door open for her. She starts griping, "Where is he? Oh! He must be talking!" At first, I thought she meant Dad. A quick glance to my right showed me, she was exasperated with her Mr. Weeble. "He's being a gentleman and holding the door open for my parents." She clammed up.

Lots of Weebles were lining up for flu shots. I thought it would take a while so I wandered down back to the lab to hold an OPD Support Group with the lab tech. Misery just loves company. I told her of the emergency ride call I recieved. She said: "They knew a week ago." I looked for a spot on the wall labeled Bang Head Here. She regaled me with a tale of hunting through stores for a specific lotion for her mother. When the lotion couldn't be found, her mother said, "Well, any lotion would do!" Bang Head Here.

The shot line was short, Ma was in and out quickly. We get down to the car and Ma announces she needs Dad to go to the post office downtown to check out why a contest letter was returned. I hate driving downtown. All the streets are one way, parking is limited to parallel parking which I haven't done since I took my driver's exam. I grit my teeth and head to the post office. Downtown was very crowded. Even if I could parallele park there were no spaces. We pull up in front of the post office. In frustration I scream my favorite four letter word. No, not sale! The other one. MA grits her teeth. Dad is chuckling in the back seat. He can speak in tongues fluently in two languages! He mutters "Chip off the ol' block." Miraculously, the handicap slot in front of the post office opens up and because it's the length of a luxury bus, I'm able to pull in. Ma digs out the handicap parking placard and Dad goes into the post office and comes back out.

"Well, what did they say?"

"I have to ask the postman?" I'm wondering who the heck is in the post office, but I keep my mouth shut. Dad mumbles he didn't bring the letter in question with him. Fireworks begin as I am detoured down Clarendon St. "

"You're stupid!"

"You're stupid!"

"No, you're stupid!"

"You're right! I married you!" Zing! Though I think a flag was thrown on the play. I try not to laugh.

"Go down Washington St."

"I know, Ma"

"Go down Washington St. "

"I know where I am, Dad. That's Mary Anne Sullivan's house. There's Dougie Horton's house. There's Jimmy Paquette's house."

Home again, home again. Jiggity jig.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Another Week

Holidays always seem to take me by surprise. I always think there's one more week before I have to clean and prepare for the holiday.

I had taken Dad to another doctor appointment yesterday. When we arrived home, they started discussing holiday plans. Usually, the holiday plans involve Himself going to pick up the Weebles and bring them to our house. I stay home cleaning like a fiend and preparing the roast beast.

This year, Ma wants to pre-order the holiday meal from the grocery store. I've done it in the past when she had her stroke and brought meals on wheels to them. Dinner comes in a box. It's all cooked, from gravy to pie, and you just heat and eat. It's great. So, after several go arounds about "Don't worry, Ma, I'll cook and take care of everything" it was left that she would call, you guessed it in the cheap seats, Market Basket to order dinner.

I'm tearing down the Pike when it occurs to me. Thanksgiving is next week! And what's this about her ordering dinner? I'll have to fight through the Wednesday crowd to pick the damn box up!

I was much happier when I thought I had another week.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Devil You Know

It always seems the grass is greener on the other side, but is it? I was musing what it would be like to deal with different weebles. Would it be easier?

What would it be like dealing with Ruth Martin, Timmy and Lassie's mom?

"Bark, Bark!"

"What's that Lassie? Mom fell down the well again? Oh, for the love of...."

Hmmm, might be difficult haulin' the old lady out of the well.

Ok, what about Maureen Robinson from Lost in Space: "Danger, Mrs. Robinson! Danger!" Hmm, might not be so bad. The Robot could follow her around. Though as I recall someone was always yanking out his power pack. Not good.

And for you Big Valley fans, can you imagine having to deal with Victoria Barkley? Even before she hit the full blown OPD stage, she had all her children under her thumb. It only got worse when she started dressing like Nick in her short black leather jacket and tight trousers.

Victoria destined her daughter, Audra, to spinsterhood. After all, what young man in his right mind would call on the girl after Victoria shot and killed creepy Evan Miles? Yeah, I know she was trying to protect Audra from being raped, but she didn't have to use deadly force on Evan. She could have just whacked him upside the head with the rifle.

She treated Nick like a four year old. Remember in The Brawlers when Callahan come to the house and Nick is yelling at him? "Nick! You sit over there. I said!"

And poor Heath! Oh, stop groaning you two, you know I'm a Heathen! Poor Heath tried to be a gentleman by taking the reins and driving Victoria home after she had been buried under the church during an earthquake. She insisted she could drive and took over the reins. Heath ended up with an overdose of OPD and walked off the set. Missy wouldn't speak to him for 3 days. When she did it was only to ask if he had learned his lesson. To which he replied, "Yes, ma'am." Smart boy.

Her taking over the reins nearly got him killed when the wagon fell on him in the episode By Force and Violence. Heath should have walked off the set that time.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of an instance where Jarrod had to deal with her.

Ma can be very opinionated and demanding, but I don't think she's nearly as bad as Victoria Barkley. Ma hasn't caused a wagon to fall on me. Guess it's a case of the devil you know.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Mea Culpe, Mea Culpe

I wait in the dark trying to remember the opening words. The panel to the privacy screen opens with a quiet shoosh, and still I wait peering into the darkness. There is a cough on the other side of the partition, my cue to begin. I sain myself. "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been," I mumble an indistint sound hoping it sounds like a vague number of weeks, not years. "Since my last confession." I hear a tsk, another cue to continue. "I have been disrespectful to my mother. For these and all the sins of my past life I am heart'ly sorry." I rush through the phrase using one breath.

I hear a sigh on the other side of the partition. " For your penance, say a good Act of Contrition and take your mother shopping at Market Basket on Friday. I absolve you of your sins....."

It's my turn to sigh. I should have gone to Father Murray. No matter what grievous sins or errors you've committed, penance is always the same. "Father, I took some candy without paying for it."
"Say three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys."
"Father, I murdered 13 people with an axe."
"Say three our Fathers and three Hail Marys."
Next time, I'll go to Father Murray.