Let’s Go To The Mall

Apparently I have not been out of the house in too long and life has changed quite a bit while I was taking this self-isolation thing to a whole new level. My daughter dragged me to not one, but two malls in 48 hours and I have discovered many new and horrifying things.

First, there are vending machines that sell false eyelashes. I shit you not. Vending machines stocked full of spidery looking little beasts in plastic cases. The first thing my daughter asked was “where is the glue?” I thought she meant what people must be sniffing to make them shove a credit card into a machine and wait for it to spit out some eyelashes at them. My first question was who is walking through the mall thinking “you know what would make this experience better…. giant fake eyelashes!” I mean, are that many people experiencing the loss of lashes while shopping that they need vending machines? I would have thought this was a joke but there were multiple machines at this mall containing thousands of eyelashes. If they are going to be dispensing beauty supplies in the same fashion teenagers buy chips and soda, I would prefer it be something useful like a nail file. I broke two nails carting around my kids’ bags and couldn’t find a file to save my life. You would think I was in a prison, not a mall. Although the similarities of the experiences are strikingly similar.

The second thing I learned is that there are no actual stores at the mall. All I wanted was a new pair of Chucks and the Converse store is apparently only open half the week. Most of the clothing stores I was planning on shopping at had signs on their closed gates stating their limited open times. Strangely, the store that sells wedding and prom dresses straight from the 80s was booming. I guess big lashes and big dresses are all the rage. The pretzel place that smells like barf was closed which was the only saving grace. The stores that were open were only about half stocked. We went into at least three stores that had nothing in my daughter’s size and about half of the selection that I saw online the week before.

Somehow, in the last two days of putting in 20,000 steps at the mall I managed to schlep home a carload of bags full of landfill and sugar. My kid now has enough fidget toys to keep her hands busy for the next 10 years and I am going to have to walk around the planet to burn the calories packed into the multiple bags of candy we picked up. No wonder all of the stores are closed. They are busy widening all of the waistbands after we sit on our fat asses eating truffles and playing with stress balls.

**While driving from mall to mall, this is the album my kid wanted to hear over and over and over… 

Riders on the Storm

About a month ago my dad soaked the inside of his car when he left the windows open in the rain. My parents had left the house and when they returned, my dad saw his car window open and immediately thought someone had broken his window. I love that his first reaction was that someone else must have damaged his car, not that he left his own windows down. What is most comical about this is that my dad never has the windows up while driving, so him leaving the windows down while parked is not all that unusual. It can be sweater weather and he has at least the moonroof open. Once he saw the open window, he walked out to his car to find all of his windows down and the moonroof wide open. It had been pouring rain for an hour, so needless to say, his seats were a little waterlogged. I’m not going to lie, that car needed a good detailing anyway.

Since my mom told us this story, my child has double checked the Old Man’s windows every time a cloud passes over. She has asked about the status of his windows at least a dozen times and takes every available opportunity to give him a hard time about it. I understand this though, because the man does not learn. A few weeks after he drenched his car, he left me sitting in the same car while he returned to the house to get something. The windows were all open, including the moonroof and within 10 seconds of him walking away, the rain started to pour in on me. He turned around and laughed instead of throwing the keys back to me. Typical. I am now thoroughly convinced that an actual dark cloud is following him.

One would think that maybe the third time is a charm, but one would be mistaken. Yesterday he picked me up to go retrieve one of the wave runners that was being serviced. Rain was expected, but we went anyway. As we were driving to the dealership I mentioned that I did not have a life jacket and we would need to stop at the lake house to grab one. He proceeded to drive right by our turn off and when I told him he responded “you can swim, right?” I agreed that a life jacket was not really necessary and we continued along, with the clouds following. When we got to the dealership, he immediately got out of the car and took the keys, leaving me sitting with the windows down and no radio. When he returned a few minutes later it had already started to sprinkle. He sat in the car talking to me for a full minute before I could prompt him to close the moonroof. He was just carrying on about the Olympics, while we got a shower until I finally said “you might want to close this….” while sticking my hand through the open roof.

As we headed back to the boat launch, the rain started to come down a little harder, and by the time we got to the dock it was the kind of rain that required an umbrella. I would like to say we turned around and headed to a garage until the rain subsided, but we are no quitters. And we are not all that bright either. I got on the wave runner and started it up right about the time a full on monsoon started. But by that time, there was no turning back. I took off and was halfway around the bend before my dad even left the boat launch, where he probably immediately opened the moon roof. I wanted to make sure everything was in working order but I couldn’t bring myself to drive more than 33 mph since the rain felt like pins going into my face. Although I usually like being the only vehicle on the lake, it was not an ideal time since I was not wearing a life jacket, it felt like pebbles were being thrown at me from the sky and a few neighbors were actually pointing and laughing. I managed to make it back to the dock in about 10 minutes. After getting the wave runner up on the lift, covering it and returning the key to the house, I finally grabbed a towel and headed to the garage as the rain completely stopped. I found my dad holding a leaf blower, cleaning the garage floor before backing in the trailer. Although he didn’t mention I looked like a drowned rat my mom later told me she saw me on the doorbell cam and that was exactly what I looked like. We moved the trailer into the garage and when I jumped back into the car I was shocked to see that all of the windows were actually closed for once, and the only sopping wet thing in the car was me.

**I just noticed I haven’t posted anything in over a month. It’s because I have been listening to new music (new to me at least) like this little gem.

Running From the Cops

The other day we were talking about teaching my 10 year old to drive the wave runner by herself. She is tall and she always wants to drive, but having her sit in front of someone is difficult since you can’t see around her Amazonian body and Mowgli hair. In the middle of this conversation between me and my dad, my mom stopped us and said “you know it’s illegal for her to drive those alone right?” to which we both stared at her like she was speaking Greek. I quickly said “Only if she gets caught!” And this is where it is clear I am my father’s daughter, and my child is following right down those rebellious misguided footsteps. We all looked at my mom like she was crazy to say out loud that breaking the law was probably not a good idea.

My Dad gave me my first motorcycle ride before I was a year old. Apparently I caught a cold shortly thereafter and my grandma quickly put the blame on the bike so I wasn’t allowed back on until I was 3. I also got my first helmet that year. It was orange and loud and too big. I loved it, and I loved the motorcycle. So much in fact, that by the time I was seven I was demanding to ride alone. My dad made me show him that I could hold it upright unassisted and operate it alone before I was able to take my virgin solo ride. By the time I was ten I was a little terror in the trails down the street and ripping up the baseball field at the elementary school. I was also very clear on the rules which were “if you see a cop, turn off the bike and say you are out of gas and waiting for your dad to come back.” I was then to walk it home with the cops following me. I partook in this parade quite a few times before the police finally told my mom if it happened again they would see that I did not receive a license to drive at 16. I guess I shouldn’t have been all that concerned since I actually drove myself to driver’s education classes in my own car at the age of fifteen, but at the time it scared my mom enough to make my dad sell the bike. Although that was just the beginning of my tendency to push the limits, the lesson I learned was you don’t get in trouble unless you get caught.

This lesson has trickled down to my daughter. Fortunately, she isn’t doing anything she feels the need to hide from me yet, and with my experience in jackassery, she will probably have a hard time doing so. Right now she is still wondering if she is allowed to do things on her own and when she is given a yes by mom or grandpa she follows up with dad or grandma to get the real story. I just keep telling her not to worry. She won’t get caught and if she does, mom will be in trouble which is a pretty familiar place for mom to be. Apparently my kid is totally okay with me paying the price for her misdeeds as well since as soon as I explained I would be in trouble for making her drive, she grabbed the keys and tried to take off on me. Luckily, the wave runner takes a few seconds to start or we may not have seen her again until she ran out of gas. Although, she drives like a grandma, so I probably could have caught up to her with a quick doggy paddle.

I have had a lot of great experiences in my life, party because I was not afraid of much. I have had some bad experiences for the same reason, but that is a whole different story. Little things like laws and rules have rarely deterred me from trying something new and have often times made me learn a new skill, like jumping off a roof with a skateboard or moving through spaces that are too narrow for a cop car to follow. I am hoping that my kid can learn some of these life lessons from my stories rather than having to touch the ot burner herself, but only time will tell. For now, I am grateful that she will take a chance now and then but drive slow enough for her mom to still catch her.

Houdini

Our indoor cat has decided he would like to transform into an outdoor cat. Unfortunately for him, I disagree. So the battle has begun and I am apparently not as smart as a cat (go figure). He has been outside at least a dozen times in the past week. Every time I open a door, he tries to bolt outside. This is especially tricky when my kid is walking in from school with a backpack, lacrosse stick, water bottle and multiple layers of clothing shed throughout the day. We had developed a strategy where I walked in first to block and then she followed. This worked exactly twice and since then the little furball has taken to darting right between our legs when the door opens. My husband has resorted to weapons and placed a mop next to the door which he uses to corral the beast back indoors. The cat’s counterattack has been to wedge himself under the door so it only opens an inch where he can claw at our feet. We have tried to walk in other doors, but he always manages to beat us to the front door too.

This obsession with freedom seemed to develop after he almost fell out of a second story window. Literally, the cat was hanging by his claws out of our bedroom window. A few weeks ago we opened the window next to his cat tree and he climbed up and lounged in the breeze watching the kids play outside. 10 minutes later my daughter was screaming and my husband was running up the stairs. I looked up to see the cat on the outside of the window hanging by his front legs as if making an attempt to do chin ups on the window ledge. He had managed to completely push the screen out of the frame and was hanging on the top portion of the open window. I am not even sure how he did it, I was just happy that I was able to grab him before he lost his grip. His feet had hardly touched the ground before he turned around and leapt at the open window again. I had to bear hug him until my husband could get the window closed. I then watched my husband hanging from the side of the house while he tried to reinsert the screen. We have kept that window cracked only an inch since then and the little man still hangs his front paws outside.

We occasionally leave other windows in our house open and within minutes the little guy seems to find his way to them where he either climbs up the screen to the top, or pushes at the frame on the bottom in an attempt to escape. He somehow managed to pop the screen out of the track in one of the doorwalls and get his claws stuck in a screen after climbing to the top of an almost closed window. He is like a little mouse squeezing his body through openings the size of a lemon. All of our screens also now look like someone took a razor blade to them. Pretty soon they will resemble swiss cheese and will be completely useless in keeping one critter in and countless insects out. 

I think the worst part of this imprisonment is hearing the poor little furball cry every time anyone leaves the house. He stands at the garage door and meows at the top of his lungs each and every time a human leaves the house. Whoever is left in the house with him spends the next 10 minutes trying to get him to relax and stop yelling. When the whole family leaves him, he reacts by pulling all of the rubber seal from the bottom of the door bit by bit. We come home to find mounds of soggy rubber bits all over the rug. 

I was about to give up and just let the little man run free until I remembered the late nights waiting up for our previous kitty to return. Somehow I think this little guy would be even later to come home based on the fact that he is a stubborn little shit. Instead, I made a compromise. I bought him a kitten leash. If he wants to act like a dog and beg at the door, I am going to treat him as such and bind him to me with a rope. My husband is laughing at me, but he’ll be grateful when he doesn’t have to replace the screens. Although, somehow I see me getting dragged through the grass on my knees by a 10 pound cat the first time he tries to chase a squirrel. As with most things, this will probably not end well for me.

**I wrote this while listening to Fugazi because we discovered Brody (the punk rock cat) only likes Ian MacKaye’s first band so I’m trying to change his mind. Go figure!**

Firestarter

My husband mentioned last week that it had been awhile since I set a stove on fire. I don’t know why or how it came up, but it was a valid comment since I have, in fact, incinerated a few stoves and ovens in my day. But with that comment, he inflicted a curse on our house. The following day my dryer turned off by itself after running for five minutes and when I opened the door, I was greeted by the smell of burning plastic/wires/electronics/etc… This is a smell I know well.

We called a repairman out to have a look and we were informed that the repair of our 10 year old dryer would run us somewhere between $600-900. The service call was well worth the fee though because we learned what brands not to buy. Strangely, it was pretty much every brand that the big box stores were running sales on last weekend. Also, the fact that each of the brands he recommended were American was a little suspect, but he explained that the parts for foreign machines were difficult to get and that the quality of the brand we currently had peaked at about the time we bought our last machine and had been going downhill ever since. I didn’t ask if he was a card carrying member of the proud boys or anything, but I don’t think his recommendation was made based on being a redneck.

After considering how much laundry I do in any given week (3-6 loads), I promptly went online and ordered a washer and dryer set. Our washer was working properly but I’m no dummy and know that if I replaced only the dryer, the washer would go up in flames the following day. If anyone could cause something that dispenses water to burn to ashes, it’s me. On Friday night I placed my order and scheduled a delivery for Sunday afternoon. My husband spent the next afternoon preparing for the delivery by removing doors and unhooking our old machines. I knew enough to pay the extra charge for the delivery guys to cart away our old crap.

Sunday rolled around and we were informed that our delivery would be late, which was fine until the truck showed up and the delivery team informed us that their work order did not include taking anything with them and that they had our order but it included a dryer that had very obviously been in someone else’s house and was missing the legs. They refused to take our 10 year old dusty machines and we refused to take their broken merchandise.

When I called the store (as instructed by the deliveryman), I basically got the run around for several hours. I talked to a woman who I am pretty sure had short-term memory issues because she called me back three times to confirm the details of my problem. I thought it was pretty cut and dry but she was having some trouble understanding the specifics. She was under the impression I ordered two washing machines and didn’t know why I wouldn’t let go of the broken one when the delivery men tried to take it. I’m now wondering if she was under the impression she was calling a laundromat. She left me with a broken promise of a call back to resolve the issue.

The next morning I called back and spoke with someone who, amazingly understood my dilemma and helped me resolve it. He was astonished that the delivery guys refused to even look at our invoice that verified we had paid for them to take away our old stuff and said that if it happened on the next delivery to call him right away. He also informed me that the washing machine we ordered never made it back to the store. I am now guessing that the delivery man didn’t have the time to haul away our stuff at 5:30 at night because he was preparing to hook up his brand new washing machine that “fell off the truck” somewhere along the way.

Unfortunately, even with Mr. Helpful on the case, we still had some hurdles to jump since the washer/dryer set I originally ordered was out of stock. We ended up being upgraded to a more expensive model but he had to call all over to get manager approval. When the order was finally ready to process, our Lowe’s credit card was rejected for too much activity. Apparently they frown on stores attempting to return items so I had to call to get the hold removed. By the time the items were authorized, purchased and scheduled for delivery, I had spent 4 hours and 48 minutes on the phone with various Lowe’s employees and yelled at at least three of them.

But today, we have a washer and dryer. My husband did have to install them himself since the deliverymen said they were unable to touch our old tubes and clamps for liability reasons. But that was probably for the best since one of the guys was sweating so profusely I was afraid he might actually slip and fall in his own bodily fluids in my hallway. And I couldn’t have waited another minute since my kid wears about 12 outfits a day. If anyone needs me, I’ll be slowly unburying myself from mounds of clothing I have been trapped under while on hold.

**Nothing makes me feel better than good old fashioned punk rock when I am annoyed and frustrated (or happy, angry, ambivalent…)

Hello?

I’m beginning to think my phone number has made the rounds at an online pirating convention because I have been getting scam calls up the yin yang. I get a call a day from Amazon making sure I meant to make a purchase on my account (which I do not have). I do have to say, when having a stressful day, messing with some asshole trying to steal people’s credit card information is a perfect remedy. My conversation today went a little like this:

“This is Amazon verifying your purchase of $399.89. If you did not make this purchase, you can speak to an Amazon customer service manager by pressing 1.” And you better believe I pressed 1. So forcefully, in fact that I almost threw my phone across the room in the process.

Asshole: Thank you for choosing to speak to customer service today. This is Jerry. How may I help you?

Me: I’m not sure. You called me about a purchase.

Asshole: Yes ma’am. A purchase was made today using your Amazon account. Did you purchase an iPhone 11 for $399.89?

Me: Oh no. I didn’t. What do I do?

Asshole: Well ma’am, unfortunately the parcel has already been sent out so you will need to fill out a form to cancel the charge on your account. You can fill out the form online. Are you near a computer?

Me: Yes

Asshole: Okay, now you are on Google Chrome correct?

Me: How did you know that? Are you in my computer?

Asshole: No ma’am. No. Most computers have Google Chrome. So you can go to the search bar at the top, the white bar and type in U as in unicorn, L as in lima….. (and several more letters that I didn’t listen to, but I did hear ice cream at one point). Now, can you repeat what you typed in?

Me: Oh, I wasn’t typing. I thought you wanted me to write it down. Can you repeat that?

Asshole: Yes ma’am. U as in unicorn, L as in lima…

Me: Wait, did you say lima? Do you mean lemur? You didn’t send me lemurs instead of puppies did you? I ordered a box of puppies. That’s what I ordered from Amazon, not an iPhone.

Asshole: What are you talking about puppies? No ma’am. There are no puppies. Can you tell me the address you typed?

Me: I didn’t type anything. I was writing. Where am I supposed to be typing?

Asshole: On your keyboard ma’am.

Me: Oh, my keyboard… you want to hear me play on the keyboard. Hold on.

I then proceeded to bash on the piano for a full minute at which point my daughter started yelling from the other room wondering what the noise was.

Me: What do you think?

Asshole: Ma’am, what are you doing? Are you at your keyboard. I need you to type the address.

Me: I was at my keyboard. Did you like my playing? So, you said the parcel went out. Where are my puppies? Do you have my puppies? You better not have my puppies.

Asshole: Ma’am (now with a raised voice), I don’t know anything about any puppies. But I am going to need you to type the address on your computer to fill out the form. Are you at your computer?

I was not at my computer. I was actually trying to free my leg from my cat’s jaw as he chomped on my achilles tendon. I think he heard me talking about receiving a box of puppies and was feeling insecure and angry. Or my piano playing really set him off. It’s hard to tell.

Me: No. I’m at my keyboard. But I’m going to need that address again. I couldn’t understand you. 

Asshole: Ma’am, you need to be at your computer. Do you have a keyboard?

Me: Do they send you to special scammer training to learn how to deal with difficult calls? I mean in Bangladesh or wherever you are, do they teach you special skills to rip off little old ladies and get them to give you their credit card information?

Asshole: (finally catching on that I was being a dick) No, in Pakistan. We go to the Technological Institute.

Me: You must be really pathetic to do this for money. I bet your mom is super proud of you.

Apparently I hit a nerve because he got agitated at this point. He said something about hiding it from his mom and hung up on me shortly thereafter.

So, you’re welcome to whoever was next on the call list. I spent 15 minutes of this scumbag’s time and reduced my stress by at least 50%.

I should have just played this over the phone…

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