Thursday, July 30, 2015

F- the Heat

     Back in January and February, when every week brought another snowstorm not of inches but feet, many New Englanders daydreamed of warm summer days minus the back breaking labor of shoveling.  We threatened to punch the first person who complained about the heat in the throat.  The delirium of opening heating bills where the numbers rivaled our student loan payments had driven us a wee bit crazy.  But the truth of the matter is that we were thinking about a specific kind of warm - maybe upper 70's, low 80's, no humidity ... nice enough to not need a jacket.  None of us were thinking about what late July and August are really like here, days of upper 80's, low 90's heat combined with 70% humidity.  Nobody was thinking about sweating while they were on the toilet.
     I know that many of my dear friends in other parts of the country/world who are reading this right now are laughing their asses off.  Heat and humidity they are saying, you don't know heat until you've been in Atlanta in August.  True, and having lived in Texas for a time, I know that it's much worse almost everywhere else.  But we are not a heat & humidity people here, sure there's always a couple among the bunch that revel in it, are almost giddy in fact, but the vast majority of us are really, really cranky right now.  We can't sleep well, everything's pissing us off, and to top it off, if you start bitching about it one of your friends is going to remind you about 25 feet of snow and your throat punching comments.  It's a no win situation, because complaining is something New Englanders do very well.  It's a skill passed down through sporting team bumper stickers and extra large cups of Dunkin Donuts coffee.  If we can't complain, we are incomplete as a people.
     I like to tell people the snow may have been horrible, but I can always put more clothes on.  Meanwhile, I can only get just so naked in polite company.  As it is, I have to announce my nakedness in my own home so I don't frighten the teenagers.  "NAKED MAMA COMING THROUGH," I yell, so no one comes out of their room to be greeted by nightmare fodder.  Not because I'm scary naked, (trust me, I'm not ... no seriously), but seeing your mother sans clothes stays with you for a long time.  Of course, it would give them something to complain about.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

True Story

     A quick true story:

     This older couple, we'll say late 60's, came in today to discuss a few things, and as they were leaving, we stood in the lobby passing the time while they regaled me with stories of what the town used to be like.  We were going back and forth with the questions and answers when this happened -

Male: I've always liked this branch.  It's so close to our home.  The last manager was a nice gal.  Now what was her name again?
Heather: Do you mean Becky? (There have been a couple, so I was checking.)
M: Yes! And her last name was ... I forget.
H: It was Ocas ... Ocass - Ocasio.  I think I may be mispronouncing it.
Wife: Was she colored?

I turned fully towards her and said, "no, ma'am," and then turned my back to her.

As I said, this was out in the open in the lobby and in front of customers, and as it just so happens, in front of my Haitian-American employee.  He chuckled and shook his head.  It reminded me of an apropos Dave Chappelle skit.  This is the last scene.  If you're a fan, you'll know what I mean.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


     The last couple of weeks have been busy, filled with our youngest turning seven and the flu descending upon the household.  We took her to the Legoland Discovery center in Boston which was a blast, but unbeknownst to us, we brought home contagion.  The kids are almost better, still occasionally hacking up a lung, but my husband and I are still feeling like crap.  Obviously I'm still going to work, because someone has to make the cheese, but I'm dragging.
     We've been slow at work, as the local neighborhood flows with vacation time and celebrating the holiday.  Today I worked with a woman we'll call Miriam, and it brings me back to a theme I've discussed previously - working with the elderly in your life, to discuss their finances and how they need help.  Miriam shuffled into the store clutching two three ring binders to her chest.  She needed help right away, as her pension hadn't been deposited to her account in another bank and it was our responsibility to fix it.  I sat down with her and tried to gather enough information to understand what was going on.  Within just a few minutes, it was clear that she was very confused.  As I asked questions, she couldn't remember why we had helped her a month ago.  She kept mixing up her numbers, couldn't find things in her purse ... only to ask me again what she was looking for.  She started to cry, to beg me to help her.
     Miriam is in her mid-eighties, which certainly doesn't mean she's incapable of handling her money, but it is a factor in a stressful situation.  Her husband had died in the last couple of years, and it is clearly still a fresh wound - as she mentioned him throughout our time together.  As many of you know, I have difficulty in separating my emotions concerning my mother whenever I'm working with an older woman, and it made it harder to bear, as Miriam grew more despondent.  She told me she had been a bookkeeper, but it was getting to hard to keep track of the paperwork.  She told me maybe it would be better if she would just die.  She said this again and again.
     I asked if I could call one of her children to come sit with us; she couldn't remember any of their numbers, didn't have her phone with her.  I practically begged her to trust me that everything would be ok, that her money was safe, that the daughter who had come with her a month ago should call me right away.  Miriam left ... and came back ... and left ... and came back and finally returned with her son.  As is often the case, he was initially concerned that we had perhaps not done everything to help her. After I cleared that up, he was all set to go. I asked Miriam if I could speak to her son privately for a moment, and she agreed.  Behind closed doors, I gave him a quick synopsis of the afternoon.  He told me that he and his siblings were working on consolidating her finances.  I told him that was great, and asking for his forgiveness if I was overstepping my bounds, I told him that needed to pick up the pace. I told him about the tears, the frustration, that she pulled at her hair with both hands, that she said she should just die.  I told him that I was really worried, that this is a difficult situation for everyone, but Miriam really needed help.  He thanked me, and we returned to his mother.  We said our goodbyes, and then I went into the bathroom and cried.