Category Archives: Culture

Big City Meets Small Town

“I was born and raised in New York City, I’m just getting used to Colorado…” – Joni Mitchell.

That song came out right as I moved out here.  For a while I thought Joni was stalking me.

I grew up in the heart of Manhattan.  New York, New York, so nice they named it twice!  The only parades I ever witnessed were massive holiday celebrations like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade which was an excuse for people to behave badly, litter atrociously, and vomit profusely on the street.  Growing up as an introvert, I generally avoided masses of people.

Corn Roast Parade 021 Corn Roast Parade 024

After the Color Guard came the Veterans.  Veterans are guaranteed to make me cry.

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And then there’s this …mascot?  I told my husband he’d missed out on a job opportunity.  He was disappointed.  Or at least he pretended to be disappointed.

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My son is in marching band (he won’t be pictured in this series.)  We were teasing him about the majorettes and the possibility of getting “hit with a stray baton” (see: Wild Hogs).   As it turns out his school does not have majorettes, as they spent their time getting stoned instead of practicing and found themselves fired.

 Corn Roast Parade 059If you are going to be in a Corn Roast Parade, do it with class, and commit to the theme!
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I kinda love the diversity in this cheer-leading squad.  That’s eventful for a small town in middle America.

Corn Roast Parade 109So this guy.

This is a pizza place near the high school.  The hubster and I thought we’d try it out after school was done, so it wasn’t so crazy.  It was pretty terrible.  The pizzas were NOT fresh.  The salad bar was not fresh.  Everything was frozen and/or bagged.  Not yummy.  So when we saw this … um… entry in the parade the hubby let our a grunt of derision.  

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“I’m gonna shove that chicken right off that van.”

“Yes, dear.”  (Saying yes dear always calms the savage beast.)

There were many other small town moments.  Around this part of Colorado, we are apparently fond of “racing” rubber ducks down any stream or river we may have in the area.  I swear I am not exaggerating when I say this is a very popular event.  No one floats rubber duckies down the East River unless they were very naughty rubber duckies and double-crossed Guido.  That’s never a good idea.  Then you get rubber duckies with cement shoes.  It’s difficult to win a race that way.

Lots of people come to these rural harvest parades.  The people in the floats toss prizes out to the crowd … candy, toys, rubber bracelets, pamphlets to guilt you into voting for personhood (anti-choice) laws, Bible verses disguised as lovely Corn Festival programs, the usual.  (If you are camouflaging your Bible verses, you know people don’t want them.  How about you stop trying to force them on people?  They just go right in the trash AND people view you and your religion as deceptive and dishonest.)

I also managed to get both the high school football team schedule so I know when my kid has marching band events, and the music program calendar for school concerts.  These things are like gold in my house.  It is ridiculously difficult to get scheduling information out of teenagers in advance of a performance.  Normally, one finds out the kid has to be at school, dressed properly and with an instrument about 15 minutes before the bus is set to leave, or in the middle of dinner with 2 minutes to spare.  I can cram an entire plate of pasta into my face and be in the car with my camera and tripod in under 45 seconds at this point.

In the city, we just got ourselves to events on the subway.  I always felt bad for the kid who played bassoon.  Then one day I was prop master and had to drag a coat rack from our apartment to the school on the 2nd Avenue bus.  That was the day I realized anything goes in NYC and most of the time people won’t give you a second look even if you a wearing a taxidermied cat on your head.  They just don’t want to know what your problem is…they’ve got enough of their own.

In rural America, you wave across the parade and call out the names of people you know.  You stop and chat.  People definitely get in your business, they do want to know what your problem is.  I’m not always sure that’s a good thing.  Casseroles are good things.  Gossip, not so much.

At any rate, the kid marched.  A good time was had by all.  I have a year to talk the hubby into creating a float for his company to enter in next years parade.  Pretty sure it won’t include a chicken.

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DeTox – Day 19 Inspiration from a quote

“You see a person’s true colors when you are no longer beneficial to their life.”

A friend posted that this morning on Facebook.  (Oh yeah – that Detox thing?  Miserable failure.)

What are a person’s “true colors”?  Psychologically speaking, we are different people in different situations.  A person behaves one way in front of her parents, another way with her girlfriends, and still another with her boyfriends.  A fellow behaves differently at work than at a funeral, he behaves one way at the supermarket, and a different way at a bar.  We all behave differently when we are alone than when we are in the company of others. So what are a person’s “true colors”?  

It’s difficult to know.  I suspect that in the context of this quote, it means that the person who wants something from you will behave differently before they get that thing than they will behave after they get it.

This insinuates that people interact solely in order to gain something from the other person or people.

The idea of altruism is also psychologically believed to not exist.  We simply can’t do something for another person without benefit to ourselves in some way.  If we give money to a homeless person, we get the benefit of feeling like we have helped someone.  In a soup kitchen, we get the recognition of others working with us and those who receive what we our work has provided.  Even anonymous donations or acts allow the giver some sense of moral satisfaction.  In this, all relationships are selfish on some level, we are getting something for giving of ourselves.

This quote isn’t addressing the normal selfishness of human interaction.  This quote is specifically talking about people who use others for a specific end goal.  Sometimes that may be as simple as monetary gain.  Other times, it’s complex and the motives are hidden, possibly even to the person who is hoping to get something from the connection.  The gain could be knowledge, a business association, a different more influential relationship, admission to a club.

Sometimes the gain is in personal validation.  A person may seek out others who will simply boost his or her ego in some way.  She may seek out someone who idolizes her.  He may seek out someone who is not as smart or educated in order to have confirmation of his own intelligence.  She may seek out someone less successful so that her own ego is supported.

When I got divorced, I experienced a sloughing off of relationships.  In many cases, I had been holding up the egos of others while in my miserable and unhappy marriage.  My situation allowed them to feel good about their own.  When I got strong, when I learned to stand up for myself, when I set boundaries – that’s when problems arose.  In some instances this happened immediately.  Other relationships took weeks or months or even years before the “true colors” became apparent.

I had previously simply needed those people in my life, I needed friends. I was desperate for anyone to be my friend and was willing to be whoever they needed me to be just to make them stay.  In that way, there was a benefit for me as well.  It just wasn’t a healthy benefit.  I was still sacrificing myself and my needs in order to keep them in my life.  The difference was that I was willing to keep them in my life without sacrificing myself.  In other words, I was willing to keep the friendship, and just modify it to a relationship between equals rather than the relationship between a pedestal and the vase being supported by the pedestal.  I was still willing to support these people, but not only as the miserable example that made their lives look fantastic by comparison.

I was willing to have a mutually supportive relationship.

What became apparent was that they were not willing, or perhaps not able, to make that transition.  My success, my survival and eventually my ability to thrive after the divorce became a threat to those particular people.  I was valuable to them only as a bad example or as someone lesser than them in some way.  My ability to thrive somehow diminished them.  When I was a good example, it meant that they too would have to face themselves and their lives and recognize their own weaknesses along with their strengths.  

Human beings, it seems, are not very good at looking at our weaknesses.

When we are forced to look at them, and the way they make us feel and the way they make us treat others, we react.  That reaction is not always for the best.  Instinctively, we want to protect ourselves from hurt and from pain.  The easiest way to do that is to strike out in anger.  It intimidates others into returning to their former submissive roles, or it simply makes them go away.

I wasn’t willing to return to submissiveness.  I walked away from a lot of those relationships when it became clear they required me to be less than I was capable of being.  When they were unable to celebrate with me, I had to find new friends.

There were some people that I fougt for, those with whom I sincerely tried to translate the relationship into something more mutual and meaningful.  There were also relationships with people who were completely willing and able to accept the changing nature of the friendship, and allow it to strengthen and deepen for both of us.  They were not threatened by my personal growth, nor by my new found ability to set and keep boundaries.

If a relationship is solely based on the benefits one gains from the other, but not on what benefits one can provide, then there is simply no great loss.  If I am no longer useful to you, and you walk away, I haven’t lost anything.  In fact, I’ve probably gained time, energy, and emotional independence.  I should thank those people for walking away.

More importantly, I should thank those people who stayed with me through my growing pains, and allowed me to become more fully myself.  If my “true colors” are mutual respect, supportive equality, love, kindness, and a willingness to evolve, learn, and grow, then those are the people who deserve my “true colors”.  Thank you – you know who you are!

DeTox Day 17 – Thoughts on Being Jewish

On the recent trip to the Mediterranean, there were many reminders of Jewish Ghettos and pogroms.  The tour guides spoke of them.  The history was in the places and buildings, some torn down and some still present.

I pointed this out to my son.

I forgot that at age 17, he knows everything.  So he told me that he doesn’t like religion, and religion is stupid and irrelevant.

I told him that what was being pointed out was not about religion or Gd, but about the history of a people.  The Jewish people were driven out of Israel by the Romans, by the Muslims, and settled in eastern Europe and in Spain and Italy and France.

The ghettos were built as protection for them, but later served as a convenient way to round Jews up for whatever violence or terror was the fashion of the times.

But that’s not what I want to write about.

What I want to write about is that every time I point out something to do with Jewish history, is is received as if I am proselytizing.  Jews don’t proselytize.  Jews don’t seek out converts or go door to door to spread the “word” of .. Moses or something.  

When I am noting these historical truths, that’s all I am doing.  “This happened.  And this happened.”  And it just seems that these atrocities are always committed by others against the Jews.

In Syria, there are devastating violations of human rights happening against the Muslim people.  Those violations are being committed by other Muslim people.

In Gaza, Hamas is holding Palestinian citizens, their own people, up as human shiels as they hurl rockets at Israel.  These are atrocities of Muslims against Muslims.

My Irish grandmother used to joke that “No one will ever start a war with Ireland.  The Irish are always too busy fighting each other.”

The Chinese have notoriously committed heinous crimes against their own people.

The USA is now embroiled in what amounts to militarized police action against her own citizens outside of St. Louis.  

What’s different about Jews is that they have been vilified throughout history, for simply wanting to survive as a free people.  This is as much about history as it is about religion.  It’s so extreme that the notion of genocide against the Jews is seen as an acceptable position in other cultures.  In this recent conflict, we’ve seen it this notion rear it’s ugly head from Hamas to Paris, Australia to Los Angeles.  Somehow “Death to Jews” is not such a distasteful idea that it can’t be stated out loud, and chanted in the streets, and graffiti’d on walls. 

How can we, as an allegedly evolved species, not see the inherent flaw in this?

How is it that so many are so willing to place the problems of the world on the scapegoat of Zion even in 2014 when we have the benefit of millennia of historical events to tell us this is not the solution?  Why in the entire history of civilization can we not learn that scapegoating on any level never solves, well, anything?

And why does this have to be about religion?

Why do we need to anthropomorphize a deity to suit our own needs to dominate and destroy others?

It’s no mistake that the culture/religion that is Judaism does not do this.  It’s simply against our code of ethics.  Even though the Torah (Old Testament) has stories of Gd telling the Jews to destroy other cultures to gain land, the Rabbis tell us this is not the way to live, and point out that Jews disobeyed Gd and did not destroy other cultures.

The English have destroyed cultures for centuries.  There are a dozen tribes that succumbed to genocide in the northeastern region of the United States.  We know little or nothing about who they were or how they lived.  The Romans attempted to destroy and rebuild cultures in their own image, and their enduring influence around the world proves they had some success in doing this.  

In fact, the Romans who destroyed the Temple and drove the Jews away even had a lasting affect on Judaism.  We see their influence every year at Passover, when we “recline”.  When I was in Pompeii, this connection was made more clear than ever before.  The Romans in that city ate on beds, lying down as they faced their manicured gardens and enjoyed their meals.  The stories of midrash are filled with reclining Rabbis discussing ethics.

Jewish history is human history.  It’s the history of conflict, faith, renewal, learning, and most of all surviving.  It’s the history of sharing core beliefs, not all of which are religious.  Many Jews are atheists, but they are still Jews.

Many humans are atheists, but they are still humans.

The question is (okay – so there are multiple questions);

At what point can we make our collective history a binding experience that brings us together as one humanity, regardless of the paths we walk as humans?  When will understanding overcome the need for scapegoating?  When will we come together as a community to agree that people are more important than ideologies?

DeTox Day 14 – Matters of Taste posted by The Daily Post

When was the last time a movie, a book, or a television show left you cold despite all your friends (and/or all the critics) raving about it? What was it that made you go against the critical consensus? 

Weeds.

My Biological Psychology Professor raved about it in class.  Then a friend on Facebook was all excited about it and wanted me to watch.

I’m a Joss Whedon girl.  I like my entertainment to have characters with brains and heart and consideration.

Weeds had stupid, short-sighted, selfish, irresponsible, greedy people in it.  I could have glimpses of empathy for them, but by the end of the second season, that was all gone.  I hated every single character, especially the lead, Nancy Botwin.  I hated her kids.  I hated her friends.  I hated her associates.  I hated her choices.

I did not want any of them in my home for another moment.  We skipped to the finale, and that only made it worse.  Just awful.  No sense of responsibility for the chaos and death she created with her every choice.  No consequences.

At least Buffy took responsibility when she screwed up.

In other news – in-laws are visiting for a few days, so I am going to be canning the next few posts for scheduled delivery.  Back on Sunday.

Finding time for grief

I finally have time to sit here, alone in my house, and cry.

Robins Williams … gone.

I’m not even sure what I am crying for; that there won’t be a Mrs. Doubtfire II?  That they cancelled The Crazy Ones?

I didn’t know the man.  I didn’t even actively seek out his work.  My favorite RW movies were Fisher King and Hook.  Hook is an all time favorite of all movies.  The Fisher King was just such an amazingly unique, touching, heart rending film that one viewing in the theatre was all it took to leave a lasting impression on my heart.

Maybe that’s why I’m crying.  Because there will be no more moments like those because that particular Light is gone out of the world.

Maybe I’m crying because I didn’t do my part in letting him know he made a difference in my life, that I love his work, and probably by extension, him.  I always feel I should have made that clear.

I didn’t cry yesterday.  It was a mixture of shock, and family.  Dinner to cook, kid stuff, motorcycle ride with the husband … and just shock.

This one, this death, this suicide by Robin Williams – this will stay with me as I enter into the world of counseling.  This will be what keeps me present, keeps me authentic and genuine.  Suicide can be prevented.  Chronic, intense, crippling depression can be fought and defeated.  We have to be real with one another, we have to pay attention even when we’d rather be planning the next days activities, or thinking about vacation, or what the next episode of our favorite TV show will bring.  We must sit with one another, together, aware of the others as we are of ourselves.  That’s where empathy happens.

Then we have to take risks.  The proverbial leap of faith.  When we ask, we need to be able to handle the answer.  When we are asked, we need to know the other will hear us, will understand.  When we reach out, we need to know that no matter what is going on, we can grab the other’s hand.

We all have far more strength than we know.

We can free ourselves of demons right here.  We just have to know we are heard, and be willing to hear.

Rest in peace, you clown, you teacher, you child, you madman, you troubled soul.

Your memory will always be for a blessing.

DeTox Day 8 – Abort! Abort! Abort!

This morning’s blog post started out as a cheerful little ditty about my cat and the mouse carcasses left at my back door.  But then it took a screeching sharp turn into customer service hell, and I now present you with a diatribe on What Is Wrong With America Today.  Maybe I’ll tell you about the mice carcii tomorrow.

Let me preface today’s rant with the simple fact that I excel at customer service.  I began working in customer service in a stationery store that my family owned in New York City.  I was 9 years old.  I learned how to check in shipments, rotate stock, do exchanges and refunds, and count back change properly – a skill I can promise is a lost art.  I’ve worked in other stationary stores and retail jobs, and I’ve also done child care, managed a small residential building near a large college campus, been a travel agent, a sales support agent, an office manager, and a roller skating waitress at a 50’s themed diner.

I rant not from a point of privilege or entitlement.  I rant from a sense of loss.  The world I grew up in, the America where people took pride in the way they presented themselves and the way they treated one another professionally and personally – that world seems to be gone.

When I was growing up, grocery baggers took pride in balancing bags so that no one bag held all the cans and the other the bread and potato chips.  All items were evenly distributed so that anyone could carry them, so that they didn’t over flow, and so that the cookies didn’t get mashed under the 6 cans of soup.

When I was growing up, a delivery date was a promise, a contract.  That promise was kept.  Deliveries were on time and accurately filled.

Maybe it’s because people were once upon a time paid a living wage and cared about keeping their jobs, or moving up.  Maybe working conditions were different.  Companies no longer want to foster loyalty in employees, it means those people will want raises and additional vacation time and other benefits in return for doing a job well for a long time.

Without that loyalty, there is seemingly no reason to care.  Without a living wage, and a gold watch at the end of twenty years service to look forward to, the prevailing attitude seems to be “Why bother?”

A friend tried to order a custom hot tub last year, was given a delivery date and paid her deposit.  That delivery date passed, was rescheduled only when my friend called to inquire about the status of the hot tub, and then the delivery date passed again.  And again.  And again until she cancelled the order and had American Express refund her money so that she could purchase a new hot tub elsewhere.  (The lesson there is American Express still provides quality customer service.)

I went to a seminar wherein quality was discussed as an ineffable essence that one only can recognize when it is either absent, or glaringly present.  There is no clear definition of quality in interactions or items or thoughts.  One either can see it plainly, or one is painfully aware that it is lacking.

America used to strive for quality.  As a country, we prided ourselves on workmanship, accomplishment, integrity.  Workmanship and durability were the foundation of the company-customer relationship.  Things were “built to last”.  The lifetime of a refrigerator was 30 years.  We expected to have only three of them in our lives; the one we grew up using, the one we bought with our first home, and the one we had in our retirement.  It is still the one item that is not assumed to be included with a home sale because we believe we will take it with us to our new house.

Yet in the present day the “lifetime” of a refrigerator, as defined by the manufacturers, is 10 years.  That’s it. There are possibly understandable reasons for that, such as government mandates requiring appliances to consist of parts that are recyclable and whatnot.  That’s not my complaint.

My complaint is that when one buys a new appliance, one is being forced to spend an exorbitant amount of money.  A basic fridge starts at just under $1000.00.  Mid-line fridges range from $1500-2,000.00.  If I have to spend close to $200 a year on an appliance, I expect it to show up at my door shiny, clean, free of scratches and dents. I’m shelling out hard earned money, and in this economy that means something.

This morning, that expectation was shot all to hell.  Earlier this week, we received our new refrigerator, while still frustrated and unhappy about what we believed to be the early demise of the previous one.  It arrived, or was delivered, with multiple scratches on the doors and handles.

In preparation for this delivery, we’d eaten as much as we could out of the fridge.  We’d also thrown out close to $200.00 worth of food that had spoiled when the freezer ceased functioning.  The remaining food was hastily packed into coolers when the delivery driver called to say he was 30 minutes away.  We were invested.  Committed.  We had to accept this new appliance.

The drivers did not ask me to inspect the fridge before they brought in.  It was upon installation that I noticed the damage to two of the three doors.  I was told, clearly, that I had the option of ordering a new fridge to be delivered, or requesting a damage rebate.  We opted for the new fridge.  The driver further elaborated that what would happen is that the new delivery personnel would simply take the better doors off the new fridge to replace what was in my kitchen with those.  They wouldn’t have to trade out the enormous unit, and force me to wait for the thing to cool to the proper temperature all day.  Great!  I also wouldn’t have to repeat the emptying of the fridge song and dance.

It was to be delivered this morning.

Unlike the first delivery, we received no phone calls.  No scheduling of a delivery time.  No 30 minute notice.  I called to find out when the delivery might be, as I had plans in both the morning and afternoon and would need to know what to reschedule.  I was told delivery was scheduled between 7am-11am.  Perfect, my morning appointment canceled.  Then the doorbell rang, and the refrigerator was here.  I informed the delivery man that I had received no phone calls regarding delivery times so I hadn’t put the dogs outside, and warned him that the big one would jump all over him in a friendly way.

It turns out they had (“they” being gawd only knows who in a system that has no accountability) more or less made up a phone number for me, in spite of the fact that it was correct on the first delivery form.  The new number was also a disconnected line.  No one along the chain of command had thought to look into that.  They are lucky I was home.

I recounted what I was told by the first delivery driver, about simply swapping out the doors. I was told that the entire refrigerator had to be replaced so I would, indeed, have to empty it again.  So – with no warning at all, I was expected to have an empty refrigerator?  In response to that news, I asked that they let me see the unit before it was exchanged.  I’d be damned if I was emptying everything out again if it was another damaged unit.

Which was a good thing, because the second one was scratched worse than the first one.  How the hell do these get out of the factory?  Delivery guy told me that I can request “white glove” service, to have them inspect it before they deliver it.  Seriously?  That’s a special request?  Give us $2000 and hope it shows up intact.  Or, request a special service that no one has mentioned at any time during this entire transaction until 2 units have shown up damaged and the customer is getting cranky.  That’s brilliant.  That wastes no one’s time or energy or gas or goodwill at all.

Except for everyone’s.

The driver told me he was going to mark the ticket “refused” and call GE, and I should call the number on my copy of the ticket as well.  This seemed simple enough.  At this point, the husband and I were willing to consider a scratch/dent rebate, and the driver said that this could be arranged over the phone.  And then he drove away.

When I called the service number I was advised:
– they did not do scratch/dent rebates at all, ever, never had, and never would
– they would continue reordering refrigerators for me until one arrived without scratches or dents for as long as it took. (See above wasting of time, gas, goodwill.)

Well, that’s just a grand offer and all hunky dory and all, but I don’t want to spend my life waiting for appliance deliveries.  I might want to go to work or class or my son’s jazz recitals or maybe dinner and a movie with my husband.  I might just want to have a life devoid of appliance delivery guys.  I know that’s crazy talk, but that’s how I roll.

“So you’ll just keep delivering refrigerators over and over, even if it takes 71 of them before one finally shows up unscratched?”

She responded by pointing out my exaggeration.

Not helpful.

30 years of customer service experience, remember?  Just nod and smile.  It costs you nothing.  Pointing out the customers flaws will cost you goodwill, patience, and a pleasant interaction with said client.  Not that anyone cares.  They seem to just assume all customers are histrionic with no good reason for having a complaint or getting angry.  There is no sense of responsibility either to the customer or to the employer upon which this attitude ultimately reflects.

I was told that she could not order the replacement.  Only “they” could order the replacement.

I asked, “Who is ‘they’?” and was told it was the delivery guys.

The ones who drove away 20 minutes ago.  The ones who left no numbers or names.

Okay – so – she can’t give me a rebate and she can’t order me a new fridge.  That’s a whole lotta “can’t” and I really don’t like “can’t”.  Why am I talking to you, and what can be done to remedy this situation?

Call the store where we purchased the refrigerator.  (Who the hell am I talking to, anyway?)

Why didn’t the drivers know this?  Why did the drivers give me four different stories, none of which had anything to do with reality?  Why does “the buck stops here” seem like a term that is completely devoid of meaning, because no one is accepting responsibility and no one knows what is or is not allowed to be done, or who can authorize it or how.

At this point, I pretty much threw the phone across my office, scaring the cat and sending the dogs flying out the back door at near light speed.

I called the store and relayed the story to the woman who answered the phone, in 3 part harmony (please, I’m no Arlo Guthrie) with an offer of 8X10 color glossies of the damage with a … and she told me she had to transfer me.  Hubby and I had meanwhile decided that we would order a new fridge if the rebate was anything less than $150.00, if a rebate is at all possible, which is still unclear.

I was put on hold while she contacted the correct department.  Five minutes later, the same woman answered the call as if I was a new caller.  She then put me back on hold to call the appliance department again.  2 minutes later, the same woman picked up the phone to inform me that no one was answering in the appliance department.  (Really?  Are you sure?  I hadn’t noticed. I thought I’d been talking to a nice guy named Joe who had promised to replace all the parts and weed my garden to make up for my trouble, and maybe even wash my car and teach my kid how to sell appliances at a big box chain hardware store.)  She asked if I wanted to hold again.

“No.  I’ll just bring my angry ass right into your store, thanks.”

Yes, I really said that.  And then I hung up on her.

Not that hanging up on a person has the same effect that it had 25 years ago, when you could hear the receiver slam into the cradle and your ears rang for 20 minutes.  I pushed the hang up button abruptly and with much derision.  Grabbed my purse, sent a text to the hubby to secure bail funds, and headed across town.

Of course there was no one in the appliance department.  Why would anyone be in the appliance department when I have a problem?  When we were buying the damn thing, the department was overflowing with experts on every conceivable appliance ever dreamed of on this or any other planet.  But when there is a problem … ghost town.

I located a young man who was returning “from plumbing”.  (I hope that wasn’t a euphemism.)  I began my entire story from the beginning, and he focused in on …. the incorrect phone numbers.  How exactly is this solving my problem?

He made some calls.  He figured out the wrong number doesn’t even exist in their system, and where it may have come from, as I grit my teeth and remind myself that prison time will destroy my chances for securing the job of my dreams in the future.  He made another call.  He was put on hold.  He made some more calls.  He had the phone to his ear, I was sitting at the desk, when the lovely lady from customer service (remember the woman from customer service who told me no one was answering and offered to put me on hold for a third time?) walked up behind me, bumped into me as she leaned over the desk to place a message, and asked the young man if he’d returned the call to the person whose number was on the previous note.  As if I was not there.  Not once did she say “Excuse me” or acknowledge in any way that he was with a customer, much less that she had bumped into me in her hurry to leave him another message.

I’ll let you fill in a bunch of similar asshartery for yourself (be creative and feel free to curse) and cut to the chase.

After 40 minutes on hold with a company that has been in business longer than I’ve been alive, that recently brought it’s manufacturing back to the USA so they could proclaim how awesome they are, and whose company name consists of initials, the supervisor offered me $75.00.

“I guess you will be ordering me a new refrigerator with white glove service,” I said with the tone of, “Thanks for nothing and good bye” and then suddenly she could offer $150.00.  Deal.

The check’s in the mail.

Where’s the tequila?

Detox – Day 6 I’m a dirty little cheater

Yeah yeah … I cheat.  I go to Facebook and make sure this blog is linking properly.  And then I quietly scroll through to see what folks are up to, if there are any good jokes, what’s happening in the world.  And I feel bad and guilty and want to go to confession and then…
I remember that I’m Jewish.

I did NOT cheat on my observation of Tisha b’Av.

I fasted from sundown to sundown.  I didn’t shower or brush my hair.  I mourned all the losses and suffering of Israel and the Jewish people.  I mourned for the IDF soldiers who had to carry out attacks on civilian targets because there were bombs there.  I mourn the lost of the Gaza families who were forced to stay even when they were warned to leave.  I mourned the losses on both sides.

I looked up at the ark, and the doors were open, revealing nothing.

The Torahs were gone,  The ark was empty.  I was overwhelmed with grief and devastation and shock.  I’d known they would be gone, it’s tradition.  But the shock of it was so intense I could barely breathe, and tears filled my eyes.

A world without Torah, without Judaism, without the Jewish people – it can’t happen.  It would be unbalanced, askew, tilted off course somehow.  

Then the first Torah scroll was brought back and put in the ark.  I’ve rarely felt such intense relief.  There wasn’t joy, just a profound exhale.  And anticipation that the other two would follow and be returned.  We and the world could and would recover balance.

And I prayed and sang in shul knowing there was a cease-fire, that the IDF ground forces were pulling back into Israel, and hoping Gaza would fire no more rockets.  I dared hope for peace in that region, for calm to settle in, for relationships to be repaired along with the buildings.  I prayed that Hamas would disband, would not try again to build more tunnels.  I prayed that Iran would mind their own business.

Jews can live in peace.

We live in peace every day.  War was not something we looked forward to, or were proud of, or ever want to see happen.  We want peace.  We also want to continue to exist.

I drank deeply.  I ate appreciatively.  I came home and washed the mourning off my body, out of my hair.  I slept well.  I woke up grateful to be Jewish – and that’s where I found the joy.