Stay Together For the Kids

Theme parks really bring out the worst in people. Half the people are wandering around clueless and lost and the other half are running you over to get to the front of the line. For those of us in the middle of these two groups, it’s a bit of a war zone. We spent Easter week at Disney and most of that week we spent either dodging people staring at their phones while running through the park, or tripping over people as they stopped to figure out where they were. I was almost flattened by multiple scooters as Grandma let little Bobby try to steer his way through a crowd at 12 miles per hour while eating an ice cream cone. I love Disney, but that week was a little traumatizing.

One of the enduring themes throughout our stay was watching people attempt to get on rides that were full. We watched a group of teenage boys climb on to an overly full safari jeep and literally sit on each others laps while forcing small children over the rails on the other side. One older couple ended up completely surrounded by sweaty teen boys yelling at each other to scoot over and make room. If they had waited their turn, they would have ended up occupying the two rows ahead of us, so I was happy to see them go, but I wouldn’t be surprised if grandma never made it past the giraffe crossing. Another woman tried to climb onto a two seat roller coaster behind me and drag her daughter along. She just looked at me for a minute before realizing that she had to wait for the next train to arrive. I’m not sure how this happens since they have numbers in each ride queue and they always stack people two loads deep. My rule of thumb is if you don’t know the person in front of you, don’t follow them on a ride and try to sit on their lap. It leads to discomfort for all parties involved. 

The rides with younger kids were the most problematic. We watched a little girl dressed as a princess with a birthday sash force her family to change seats on three separate rides. She was climbing over seats and attempting to get her 300 pound grandfather to do the same. One of the cast members finally told her to pick a seat and stay in it after she had a tantrum about not being close enough to the front. I had to laugh a few minutes later when she got soaked, unaware that the front of that ride was probably not the best seat in the house. Two little boys followed my daughter and me on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and tried to get on the ride with us in a two seat car. When they realized they didn’t fit, they tried to turn around and one got squished in the door. I watched as their parents stood on the other side completely oblivious that one of their kids almost just lost an arm. That was probably my favorite episode of Kids Gone Wild at Disney.

I think what prompts people to behave this way is they want to have the best experience they can and are impatient to have their experience. They don’t stop to think that cramming themselves into an overly full truck or climbing over other people to get to the best seat is not going to do it. I watched the birthday girl spend her time looking at all of the other kids to see if they were looking at her rather than enjoying the ride. They weren’t looking at her, and the ones who were (like my kid) were mostly commenting on what a brat she was. I heard three different dads get reprimanded by cast members for putting their kids in danger. While on the safari a man had to be told that the animals around us were real and dangerous as he held his baby in the air near the alligator pit. I’m sure he was making sure she had the best possible view since babies are really into alligators and all. Another man had to be told that his child needed to sit multiple times on the Jungle Cruise. It took an entire boat of people staring at him for him to finally comply.

We are fortunate that our kid is past the age of caring about the characters so we didn’t have to stop for any photo ops. I saw some of them, and it was similar to the fourth circle of hell. It doesn’t help that only about half of the characters are making appearances. We spent enough time waiting in line for our little foodie to taste frushi, seared scallops and avocado toast. Although we didn’t encounter many hangry little monsters in these lines, there were a couple bitchy bros with man buns. Disney really does provide entertainment for everyone, even if that entertainment is being a judgmental asshole. By the end of the vacation, my kid was already talking about visiting Universal instead next time. I see many more trips to theme parks in the future, with rides for bigger kids and trading in pushy princesses for sweaty teenagers. Somehow I know this is going to be a grass is greener situation the first time a stoned 15 year old barfs near my shoes. 

**Since theme parks are a bit like a pit, I had to listen to some good old fashioned hardcore while writing this piece.

Terrorize

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. I mean, what’s not to like about free candy and having an actual reason for peeing your pants in public. I have always decorated indoors, but since we are rarely home on Halloween night, we have not done much decorating outdoors in the past. I changed all that this year and decided to buy as much spooky décor for the outdoors as I could get my grubby little mitts on. For the last month I have been slowly turning our yard into a mess of zombies, witches and bones of all kinds. It’s hard to walk to our front door without being harassed by an animated doll or wolf.

Before going all out on the decorations, I talked to a few of the neighbors who have young kids. The people across the street assured me that they loved scary decorations and their kids weren’t afraid of any of it. Since their 5 year old told me there was no such thing as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny within an hour of meeting me last year, I figured they would be cool with a few screaming witches and howling wolves. As I watched them hang up their decorations in their own yard I quickly realized that “scary” is a pretty subjective term. It was clear that their idea of terrifying was a fuzzy spider, not a glowing eyeless doll head. The little boy has cried at least three times after our life sized witch asked him for a kiss and offered him candy. I guess at least I can say I asked them before I put it out. The mom informed me that the kids keep looking out their window at night at all of our floating heads and glowing eyes, afraid they are coming to get them. I told her just to tell them they aren’t real. I left out the part about how she already ruined Easter and Christmas for them with that line, she may as well turn another holiday into a giant dumpster fire.

The rest of the neighborhood seems to be enjoying the decorations. Almost daily I hear the grim reaper and witch screaming out to kids on the front porch and I have come out a few times to find a child crammed up under the witches dress trying to figure out what makes her tick. I even caught the UPS guy laughing at some of the one liners coming from the grim reaper. I suppose you see and hear everything when dropping off running shoes and tampons on suburban porches. I am guessing by the time Halloween actually rolls around, most of our visitors will have already heard plenty from all the animated ghouls posted in our yard.

My most recent purchase was a couple of howling wolf skeletons and barking dogs. As soon as I came home from the store I set the bones up in my flower beds and listened to them howl as the kids ran in front of them. I next heard the same howling and barking at 6 am the next day when it started raining. The screaming beasts actually managed to wake the dead, since that’s about as heavy as I sleep. I had to run out in the rain in a tank top and pajama pants to pry open their mouths and find the switches to shut them up. By the time I was done, I had a giant mound of plastic and cobwebs screaming and barking at my on the porch. If the glowing red eyes from the zombies didn’t traumatize the kids across the street, the sight of me beating up a bunch of bones at the crack of dawn surely did.

During the past month as I have been purchasing an entire gang of life sized decorations and their once furry friends, I failed to think about the future (as I often do). My basement is already packed to the gills with other holiday decorations and I have at least 5 orange and black storage bins of indoor décor to contend with. I’m fairly certain that at the end of the year we are either going to have to buy a bigger house or rent a storage unit. We already have one skeleton that stays out year round. I put festive hats on her for different seasons so I don’t appear completely insane. One house skeleton makes you quirky, a yard full of skeletons and witches year round makes you bat shit crazy. So at some point before the lights go from orange to green and red, I am going to have to find a home for all these beasts. I don’t know how the rest of my family feels about taking a shower with a talking witch, but the idea is growing on me. Either that we are going to have a receiving line in the foyer to ensure we never have house guests. That kind of seems like a win to me!

And in true Logan fashion, I just learned that we are not in fact going to be home on Halloween night. I guess I will totally deserve it when the first kid on the porch dumps the entire bowl of candy into his bag and eggs our front door. Hopefully the screaming grim reaper at least makes him wet his pants on the way out.

 

**Halloween is the best time of year to listen to the Misfits. Just sayin!

 

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… 

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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