Thursday, October 23, 2014

Two Stories

     Today's rainy New England day brought two stories to share running the gamut of emotions.  The first one is the happy one:

     A gentleman came in who needed to take care of few things.  As he was waiting, he asked me if he could bring his dog into the branch.  I was a little leery of potential customer complaints.  Hearing my hesitation, he assured me that his dog was a trained service dog and very well behaved.  He left and came back with the biggest, shaggy golden retriever I've ever seen.  The dog seemed massive to me, like a small tawny cow.  Looking in his eyes, you could see that he was old and wise.  I had to return to my office for a few minutes to help someone else and answer a few phone calls.  When I looked up, I saw my customer in a lengthy talk with an older woman who seemed to be shaking her head.  Deciding to intervene just in case, I approached only to see her drop to her knees and throw her arms around the dog, burying her face in his neck/mane.  I backed away, so she could have her moment.

     And now the sad one ... I did warn you:

     A little old lady cashed in a sizable amount of savings bonds, and she asked to count the money in my office.  It became clear that she wanted me there to observe her do so.  She counted it several times, stacking and re-stacking the bundles.  Afterwards, we started chatting about life, and she told me that she cashed them not because she needed the money, but because she was afraid that if she died suddenly they would be no good to her kids.  This lead to her telling me about her husband's sudden and completely unexpected death at the beginning of the year.  As she kept moving the little bundles around, she said to me, "Look at all this money.  You know there was a time that I sent my daughter to the store to get some groceries.  When she came home, she told me she'd lost the $5 change.  Do you know what $5 meant to us 50 years ago.  I screamed at her ... how could she be so careless?  We walked back and forth for hours until we found it.  That same year, I bought her a pair of mittens for $1.  She lost them, and when she told me, I smacked her across the face.  Can you believe that?  I hit my daughter over $1.  And now, look at this money."  We sat there and stared at each other for a minute before we said our goodbyes.  Thankfully, I did not cry in front of her.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Jury Duty

     I'm headed home from jury duty and thankful I wasn't picked this time.  I say that not because it is my civic duty which I take seriously, and not because it would be a hardship on work for me to not be there for 7-9 days as this trial was forecast to take (both of which are very true), but because I finally have a doctors appt. this week for my leg/back issues.  If I had to reschedule again, they'd probably book me in the new year.  I say this not to engender pity in any way, but today hasn't been a good day pain wise.
     When they excused me I was also thankful as there was no way I could have been impartial, which would have been unfair to the respondent and contrary to the whole point of serving correctly.  I told the judge I would try, but he could see in my answers that I would have a hard time, so he let me go.  Today's judge was so much better than the last time I was called to serve about 6 1/2 years ago.  When I explained to that judge that my mother was going to be having surgery and I needed to be available for her, he asked me "if she survived the procedure would I go back to work."  I said I would, as it happened to be the holiday season in retail and I was the boss there and the breadwinner at home.  He told me that in that case I could serve on the jury.  I believe that there's a special place in hell for that fellow.
     After I left the courthouse I was feeling peckish, so I grabbed a sandwich at a marvelous food truck near city hall.  Never pass up a decent looking food truck - yummy goodness will ensue.  It was a scallion pancake folded in half and stuffed with two lightly cooked eggs, cheddar cheese and two thick slices of bacon.  The yolks were so runny and delicious that I was a mess at the end.  Then I walked to the next T-stop in the hope that the forward momentum would ease the pain shooting down my leg.  It was a joy to walk through the city that I love, to watch all the people out in their fall gear and to see the progress on the outside of the Government Center T-stop.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tent Sale

     I was fortunate this weekend to be able to buy a couple suits to replace some worn out work clothes.  Like many women, I'm one size on top (bigger) and another on the bottom (smaller), but it's not because I've been blessed with a prodigious rack ... oh no, after many years of working in receiving rooms throwing boxes of books around long after I was a receiving manager, and even more years of toting children around, I've got some biceps.  Trust me, I've also got a soupcon of flabby triceps, but I'm focusing on the bicep dilemma.
     So other than being able to carry a couple gallons of milk in one hand and a six year old under the other arm, what else have these beauties caused me to consider? A. I don't usually wear sleeveless shirts/dresses in public, and B. I have to try all jackets/blouses/etc. on before I leave a store because there's a pretty good chance that if it's tight I'm going to look like my upper arms are sausages.  Aside from being visually appealing, it makes one incapable of effectively using ones arms, which can be a detriment at work.
     Which leads me back to my shopping trip.  I found a couple things, and I tried the jackets on.  They fit, allowed me to move my arms and didn't make me look like a matron.  [On a side note, I don't care what the number on the tag says, as every company is different.  It's not that I've attained some level of inner acceptance, it's simply a realization that it's a number and not a measure of my worth as a human being.  Like many of us out there, I weigh more than I did when I got out of college.  Add a couple children, and I prefer to say that I'm bit for lovin' not for speed.]  Back to the suit at hand.  This morning as I got ready for work, I was excited to get dressed.  Exited that is until I put the pants on.  Remember how I mentioned I always try the top on.  Well, I rarely try the bottom part on.  If it turns out to be a smidge too big, I'll take it in or use a safety pin.  I'm resourceful like that.  But these pants were like a tent. 
     Do you remember palazzo pants?  Do you remember how so many of us thought it'd be cute to wear pants that when we put our legs together looked like a long skirt?  Is it coming back to you now.  You swished when you walked.  The long flowing skirt-looking idea was great in concept, but nobody stands still that long.  You got stuck in car doors.  You had to be extra careful on escalators.  That's what came flooding back to me in the bathroom mirror this morning.  Suffice to say, the pants got changed out as I didn't wish to hear congratulations from customers on my impending due date.       

Friday, October 3, 2014


     I beg your pardon if this sounds like I'm rambling, but I've been surprised by the number of crotchety old women I've interacted with today.  Where is that tipping point that causes some women to cross the line from holding a snotty comment in and letting it go?  Is it at a particular age or maybe a traumatic life point in the sand?  Maybe you just get fed up living with some sense of propriety in public, and one day, the switch flips and you just decide to tell it like it is.   
     At home, my mother rarely held her true feelings inside her head.  While in public or in front of friends and family, she held it all in check.  She used to tell the three of us, I don't care what you do to each other when we're at home, but I swear to God you better never do anything to embarrass me when we're in public.  Then one day, her switch flipped and everyone was privy to everything.  My sister and I used to think that some of it was related to her first mini-stroke and the rest of it was reaching an age at which she stopped giving a fuck.  It was like her crotchety could no longer be contained. 
     Today, it was like a containment field broke, because one little old lady after another was throwing shade, muttering, sighing, making sarcastic comments ... the list goes on.  During the early morning rush, as I asked how I could help several customers, two in a row suggested I stop talking to them and get behind a register.  Later in the day, another one had to wait 15 minutes to sit with my co-worker to resolve her issue, not bad considering there was someone waiting before her.  Halfway through, her grandson appeared out of nowhere to check on her progress.  She loudly proclaimed that she wasn't ready yet and had been waiting 45 minutes.  You have to laugh.
     On a side note, after a long day of dealing with said crotchety old ladies, I found comfort in driving to Boston Market to get dinner for the family.  I flipped through various mix-CD's in the car, and I was performing - just belting it out with my alter-ego diva.  The music was loud, and I was driving as though I was driving something other than a 10 year old, rusted mini-van.  I'm working on keeping my switch in the upright position.