Greeters of Wal-Mart

Posted: August 23, 2016 in Uncategorized
SONY DSC

SONY DSC

I normally avoid wearing tank tops without anything covering it up. It’s not because I’m super vain and worry about my jiggly arm fat. Nope. It’s because I’m too lazy to shave my armpits, and I don’t want to expose anyone to that.

The positive (or negative, depending on point of view) is that a bunch of my tattoos show.

As I’m walking out of Wal-Mart, the greeter stops me. It’s a little old guy, white hair, wrinkles, stubble. He says, “I hope you don’t think I’m being rude…” So I immediately assumed that he was about to be rude. Instead, he said, “Where did you get that tattoo?”

Okay. We got into a conversation about tattoos, and he told me that his wife was 60, but she just got her first tattoo because a friend of hers died, and she got a pink ribbon on her arm, and now she wants more. He told me that she said they’re addictive.

I agreed. Yup.

I was about ready to get out of there, so I tried to leave politely, telling him that I hoped his wife got more tattoos, and that I suggested he get some, too.

And then…

He told me he didn’t need any tattoos because he already had enough scars.

He pointed to his head, where I noticed that there was a dent. “This one cost one billion dollars!”

Oh-kay.

“And then I got another one going from here on up from when I had a tumor. And I have one from here to here when I had a quadruple bypass.”

Oh-kay.

“Let me show you.”

And he lifted his shirt.

Pointed to his stomach, his hairy chest, his throat.

“Wow,” I said. “That’s really interesting. Have a good day!”

And I was gone.

Next time, it’s Target.

 

 

I’m not a fan of spiders. Really not a fan at all.

To be fair, I’m not a fan of lots of different bugs. Like wasps.

Wasps are assholes. A wasp once made me crash my car into a light pole. The pole was okay; I was okay; the car was totaled.

After I did that, though, I learned my lesson. Instead of trying to kill a bug while the car is moving, now I pull over.

Imagine the scene: I was up in Madison, New Jersey. Late at night. A cold winter night. Before the dawn of cell phones. I had just left Drew University where I had been visiting my boyfriend at the time (now my husband), and about three blocks down the way, I spotted it.

A spider on my windshield.

On the INSIDE of my windshield.

Instead of running off the road, I waited, stretching my arms out as far as they could go so that I was as far from the windshield as possible. As soon as I could pull over in the snow, I did. I hopped out of the car, took off a shoe and stood on one foot in the snow bank, trying to kill the spider in the windshield.

I did it!

It was dead!

But then I was afraid to get back into the car because, and I know this is totally rational, once you kill a spider, all the other spiders know. They gang up on you. They get you. It’s like a gang fight in West Side Story.

Anyway, that spider was dead.

Since then, I’ve been lucky. Anytime I had a spider in the car, I also had a passenger who could remove it one way or the other.

Until the other day.

There was a spider.

In the car.

On the inside of the window.

Right next to me.

It was somewhere between the size of a pinhead and a VW Beetle. I can’t quite remember in the blur of fear.

But there it was.

And there I was.

Then, like magic, I got it out of the car! I refuse to say how, in case other spiders are reading this, but this image shows what may (or may not) have been its final view.

spider.jpg

26013000 Ice cubes on blue background

There are a billion (okay, maybe a billion and one) pieces out there that purport to provide the ultimate tests to see if your relationship will last or if it’s doomed to destruction. Based on some simple characteristics or a few innocuous actions, you’ll be able to dump your partner or live a life of bliss.

Except.

Those are all full of shit.

The real test – the only test that matters – is what happens when you have a refrigerator that doesn’t make ice. In July. In Texas.

It doesn’t matter if you or your partner farts. Or picks their nose. Or scratches themselves. Or doesn’t change the toilet paper roll. None of that makes any difference in how well your relationship will run. Nope. The only thing is that damn ice tray.

Here’s the thing: when we moved into our house, it came with a nice, new, contractor-special, low-grade, standard refrigerator. White. Plain. Boring. But it had an ice maker.

I loved that ice maker.

Ice, all the time.

I’m addicted to ice in my drinks. The more ice the better. I would put in two ounces of a drink and twelve ounces of ice, then let it melt. Cooooold.

Then that lovely refrigerator bit the dust. Repairs – if they would be possible – weren’t worth it. But we didn’t have much money. So we did what we had to do.

We bought the cheapest refrigerator that had a fridge and a freezer.

It didn’t have an ice maker.

That’s okay, we told ourselves. We can make ice. It isn’t hard. People used to do it all the time. And it’ll save $50! That’s more than a tenth the cost of the refrigerator! Totally worth it!

I want to go back in time and bitch slap myself.

I haven’t had to make my own ice in 10 years. Ten years. Now I’m doing it twice a day. (Yes, I use that much ice. Don’t you judge me.)

I’ve also learned the ice issues.

First, I bought the cheap ice trays. Cheap doesn’t mean bad, right? Yeah. Yeah, it does. They have to be seated a certain way in order to stay one on top of the other. Ask me how many times I put them the wrong way and have water well up, covering the counter, floor, and my feet? At last count it was about 467. And that’s only been in the past two months.

Second, you discover the ice tray tricks. Things like always leaving one ice cube in the bin so that you don’t have to dump out the trays and make new ice. Things like sneaking a single ice cube from the trays so that you don’t have to dump out the trays and make new ice. Things like choosing to go without a drink so that you don’t have to dump out the trays and make new ice.

Third, you also learn how quickly your spouse catches onto those same tricks when you go to get ice and find out that the tricks have already been pulled and you’ve been screwed into the position of being the ice maker.

We’ve been together for 25 years and married for 20.

All the things we’ve gone through. All the things we’ve done. All the stuff that’s supposed to make or break a relationship. But it all comes down to the ice trays.

We all know about Mondays.

I was not having the best of Mondays. I’d missed my jewelry making class because my stomach was hating on me. I went out to lunch with husband because we had a coupon for a free burger – which he got since I’m a vegetarian and my stomach was upset anyway – and I got a baked potato and broccoli. Because food.

But then I had to run errands. Hit the post office, the library, all that good stuff. The kinds of things that make a day happy and cheerful.

I decided to go to the dollar store because I had some things I needed to buy, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. We’ve been super tight this month, to the point of figuring out which day of the month was the day we’d run out of money. We’d managed to sell something to keep us afloat, though, so we were going to survive.

So I’m in the dollar store, and there’s a guy in front of me. Huge cart full of goodies. It looks like he’s doing his general grocery shopping: cans of veg, pasta, sauce, tinned meat, paper towels. Nothing fancy. Nothing special.

The guy runs his card through the payment machine thingy, and after he does, the cashier says, “That makes your new total $6.84.”

The guy in front of me kind of freezes. He looks at his “wallet” (a collection of receipts and a card or two, all held together with a couple of rubber bands.)

“Uh,” he says. “Is that all that’s left on the card?”

“Yeah,” the cashier says.

“Well, I’m gonna hafta put some stuff back,” the guy says. “I’m gonna be about $6 short.”

There’s a single dollar bill showing in his wallet. A dollar.

8918519 3d person sitting on red brain in a thoughtful pose

And my day, while it hasn’t been that great, and my month, which also hasn’t been that great, immediately make me think of myself. Awesome, I think. Now I’m going to have to wait in line while they get a manager and this guy forages through the already packed bags and figures out what to put back. Why does this always happen to me?

The cashier starts to call the manager, and I realize something. It’s not about me. It’s totally not about me at all. It’s about this guy, an older black guy, who is just trying to buy his groceries, but he can’t. He can’t even afford to shop for the week at the dollar store.

I have no idea how he’s going to react to a little white girl potentially being uppity, but I say, “Hey, uh, do you mind if I cover that for you?”

And he turned to me and was like, “That would be great! I’d really appreciate it. I don’t get my disability again until Thursday, and it’s not much. I could really use my groceries.”

I told him, “You know what? I was having a bad day, but it’s just turned around, so let me turn your day around, too.” Because the minute I stepped up and thought about someone else, and not me, it was a better day. I was happier. I was doing something for someone else. I wasn’t ignoring someone in need. I was making a difference. And, sure it was only in one guy’s life, but didn’t that matter?

We chatted for a few minutes after I paid, and he said something that made me pretty happy. He said, “See? There are good people in the world.”

And I thought, yeah, really. Everyone keeps talking about all the bad, and there has been a hell of a lot of bad, but there’s the old quote from Mr. Rogers – “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

I got to be one of the helpers.

I’m not here to toot my own horn (but, damn, I got an awesome horn to toot!), but I’m here to say – don’t look for the helpers. Be a helper. Even if it’s only $6 at the dollar store, it’s still helping someone.

pennies
Today I saw a penny,
but I didn’t pick it up
because when I was a kid,
I learned that even
though some people thought
all pennies were lucky,
it was actually only the heads-up
ones that were.

If I picked up
this penny,
this one showing off its tail,
I would be cursed
for the day
instead of being given
good
luck.

Since I didn’t need any more bad
luck,
I went ahead and used the toe
of my sneaker to flip
the penny right-side up
on the gravel
path so the next person
to look down
and see its rusty,
crusty face
could pick it up
and have a good
day because of the luck
I’d infused
that penny with.

To the next person
at the Clark County Museum
nature trails
who looks down and spots
the penny,
and takes the time to bend down
and get it:
you’re welcome.

(And that was something completely different…I hope you liked it…)

9790750 Legal background with wooden gavelI’m all about not being judgmental. If you read my blog about my son (Not So Simple Simon), then you know that I’m always telling people not to judge others.

But.

Sometimes…sometimes I feel the need to judge, and I can’t stop myself.

Like Sunday.

I went to a tattoo parlor with a friend. She was getting a tattoo on her arm, and we went in, chatted with the tattoo artist, figured out a price, and he prepped everything.

I had just gotten a tattoo, and while I wanted a nose piercing, I decided against it because I learned the heal time was two to four weeks, and I couldn’t go into the ocean before it healed. Since we’re going to the beach on vacation in two weeks, I decided not to chance it and instead pierce my nose once we were back.

Instead of getting anything done myself, I sat and watched her get a tattoo. Always fun.

More chatting with the artist, more chatting with her, afternoon progressed nicely.

I considered using him for some new work and cover-up work I wanted on my ankle.

Then it happened.

I looked at his hand.

The exact spot where the black glove gave way to flesh (with lots and lots of tattoos) had a lovely swastika. And, of course, I’m being completely sarcastic when I say “lovely.” What I really mean is that I had a bit of a mental stumble as I realized that there was no way in hell I would use him to get any work done.

The problem, of course, was how to break it to the person on the table getting the tattoo that the artist was likely anti-Semitic. Which made it ironic (and a bit creepy) because she’s Jewish.

I considered some of the easy ways. Like when she said that her mother disapproved, for a moment I thought about asking if it was because she would be unable to be buried in a Jewish cemetery with the tattoos.

I didn’t.

Mostly because I could imagine a moment or two of awkward going on when that came out, and, really, who wants to get a fucked up tattoo?

So I kept quiet, totally judged him, and waited for her tattoo to finish.

Afterwards, I told her, and she decided not to go back there either.

But…how do you not judge? Or, in situations like that, is judging okay?

Because, yeah. I had to judge, and there was no way I could or would stop myself.

870819 writing police officerLet me start off by saying that this is not meant to be a blog bashing the police.

I really want to be clear about that. I know cops. I’m friends with cops. I’ve been there when there have been absolutely awesome police on the scene, I’ve been helped by police, and I’ve seen when police have been in completely unenviable positions that would have driven me nuts or driven me to quit the job. It’s not easy being a cop. No questions. However, that said, there are bad cops, just like there are bad teachers and bad doctors and bad people. You can’t have a perfect police force any more than you can have anything be perfect when it comes to human involvement.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way…

Yesterday, I was driving home from Austin. The traffic was horrible. Google kept telling me that the time to get home was going up, not down. The road was jammed, and it was not getting better. I was exhausted and in a bad mood. When Google popped up an option to take time off the drive, I jumped on it.

Which, it turns out, was a mistake.

The side road wasn’t bad, but there were a lot of jumps in speed because it was going through a small town. In Texas.

The last sign I saw said 55.

A cop appeared behind me, speeding up towards me so fast that I thought he had his lights on to pass me. But, nope, when I started pulling to the side, he pulled with me, and so I went into a parking lot (off the road), and he came around to talk to me.

I’ve been stopped before. Most of the time, the cops are decent human beings, doing their job, and if I’m friendly to them, they’re friendly right back.

Not this time.

This guy was rude as could be and told me that it was drivers like me who caused the traffic on the highway by taking the back roads. (I’m still not sure how that’s possible, but whatever.) He questioned where I was going, where I was coming from, and why I was in his town. He never once smiled.

He told me I was doing 63 in a 50. Yeah, I’m still going to argue that I never saw a sign that said 50. I admit that I often speed, but even I know better than to go almost 15 mph over the limit on a backroad in a small Texas town. I might like to go fast, but I’m not stupid.

He took my license, went back to his car, came back with a ticket, and got me to sign off.

End of interaction.

I was annoyed. I’ve been driving for over 20 years, and that was only my second ticket. And the way he gave me the ticket – the questioning about things that were really none of his concern and telling me off for having the nerve to drive through his town – I was tweaked.

But I was also lucky.

Lucky because I was a white girl driving with two other white girls in the car with me.

People say they don’t believe in white privilege, but I think I was part of a good example of it. If I had been Hispanic or black, what would he have said? Would he have questioned me further about why I was there? Would he have asked me to exit the vehicle? Would he have asked to see my passengers’ IDs? Would he have asked to search the car?

I can’t say that he would have done any of those things.

Maybe he was a good cop having a bad day, and he was just as annoyed as I was. Maybe he had a headache, just like I did. Maybe he wanted to be at home, just like I wanted.

I couldn’t help but think, though, that even though I got a ticket for almost $200, I got off lucky. Because I was white.