In Which A Good Friend Suggests I Am A Bad Influence, As If

Catching up with a friend. Talking about what’s new with her…

FRIEND: I got thrown out of Bible Study.

ME: Wait what? YOU were in a Bible Study group? You? WHY?!!

FRIEND: I know, it’s hard to believe. It’s not really my thing, but my older sister’s high school best friend made me join.

ME: Wait what? HOW did she make you do this?

FRIEND: Oh, she asked me to join so I did. She got credit for bringing in new members. She got thrown out of Bible Study, too. Because of me… AND YOU, really.

ME: Wait, hold the horses. How did I get you two thrown out of Bible Study? I didn’t even know you were doing it, let alone in the group.

FRIEND: You told me about Cosmopolitans.

ME: Huh? Like back when Sex and the City was on TV? Those drinks?

FRIEND: Yep… and I think you were to one who suggested seeing the movie Sideways. The one about drinking wine.

ME: How does any of this have anything to do with you getting thrown out of Bible Study?

FRIEND: My older sister’s high school best friend and I were to arrange a Saturday night Bible Study get together. It was at her house. She provided the location and I provided refreshments and a movie. It was so we all could bond, or something.

ME: Uh huh.

FRIEND: So we’d just been talking in Bible Study class about Jesus turning water into wine and I remembered the movie about the vineyards. It seemed relevant to me. Then I remembered how Carrie and her girlfriends loved their Cosmopolitans so I made those the drink of the night.

ME: Ok.

FRIEND: But the thing is that I didn’t know this get together was supposed to be alcohol-free so almost no one wanted my drinks. It was Saturday night for goodness sake. Who doesn’t drink then?

ME: This group of women apparently.

FRIEND: I think they would’ve overlooked the booze except for the movie. Well, one part of the movie. I’d forgotten there was nudity in it.

ME: There is?

FRIEND: Yep a full frontal shot of a naked man running down a street. You can see his junk and this shocked most of the girls. They left immediately.

ME: No kidding? They just left?!!

FRIEND: Yep, but those who stayed drank the Cosmopolitans and we had a good time watching the movie. They understood how it was about wine, something Jesus made. It was fine with them.

ME: So how did you find out you’d been thrown out of Bible Study?

FRIEND: An email on Monday morning told us. My older sister’s high school best friend isn’t upset. She says she’s relieved to be free from it… and them.

ME: And you? How do you feel about this?

FRIEND: Oh I’m fine with it. It was something to do for a while, but now it isn’t something to do.

ME: There’s that.

FRIEND: So tried any new drinks lately? Seen any good movies? You always know the most fun things!

ME: Uh huh.

~ The End ~

Shopping At Lowe’s On A Saturday Morning, The Struggle Was Absurdly Real

As we drove away I turned to Z-D and said, “some blog posts just write themselves.”

HE NODDED IN AGREEMENT.

Granted we could have refused to buy what we came for, but after hauling about 500 lbs of stepping stones + bagged mulch + bagged pebbles onto a flatbed cart then pushing it from the back of the Garden Center to the checkout register by the gated entry at the front of the Garden Center, we were committed to the project.

Plus we’d intentionally parked our car near the Garden Center gate so that we’d make it easier on ourselves when it came time to load our items into our car, but the joke was on us about that, too.

Here’s what happened.

• ~ 🌼~ •

On a sunny spring Saturday morning around 9:00 a.m. Zen-Den and I went to Lowe’s to buy gardening materials and some plants. Like many other shoppers we wanted to get going on our gardening projects while the weather was with us.

The Garden Center was busy with about 20 people shopping, everyone grabbing items, putting them in a basket cart or on a flatbed cart. Then going to stand in line by the registers, waiting for an employee to ring us out. But there were no cashiers to be seen by the registers.

After waiting about 5 minutes, pleasantly chatting with other shoppers, I decided to walk through the large store to go tell Customer Service that… stick with me here… there were customers who required some service. That is, a cashier to ring us out.

Instead of being received in a positive way*, the woman in charge of Customer Service told me I was wrong, stating that at there were no customers waiting to be checked out in the Garden Center.

YES, SHE SAID I, THE PERSON STATING A VERIFIABLE FACT, WAS WRONG.

• ~ 🌼~ •

I said “yes” there were customers in the Garden Center with basket carts and flatbed carts filled with items to purchase. At least 10 when I left the area to come and politely tell her we needed some… stick with me here… customer service.

But she said “no” that can’t be. She knew she was right because the Garden Center wasn’t open. It opened at 10:00 a.m. and it was only 9:20 a.m.

Repeating myself I told her “no” it was open, that the gates were unlocked, and that about 10 people were waiting to buy stuff.

THEN SHE ASKED ME IF I’D BROKEN THE LOCK TO GET INTO THE GARDEN CENTER.

I assured her that I hadn’t broken in and that it was open when we drove up. And most importantly… stick with me here… we needed someone to ring us out. Like one of the three cashiers I could see standing at three customer-free registers in the main part of the store.

Again this woman told me I was wrong because the Garden Center wasn’t open. It was kind of a theme with her to not believe me, the teller of truth.

At which point I walked away from her heading back to the Garden Center, shouting over my shoulder, “IT’S OPEN.”

• ~ 🌼~ •

Welp, what happened next is absurd, a case study in poor retail store management. By the time I walked back to the Garden Center the customer service woman had sent an employee to… stick with me here… lock the gates. Yep, she didn’t send one of the three cashiers who was doing nothing to ring us out.

INSTEAD OF ACCOMMODATING THE CUSTOMERS SHE MADE HER VERSION OF REALITY COME TRUE BY CLOSING THE GARDEN CENTER.

But of course the story doesn’t end here. That’d be too easy.

Nope, then we the customers were directed to traipse through the store pushing are loaded carts to where the three cashiers were standing by registers ready to ring us out.

Except they weren’t really ready to ring us out.

This is because many of the garden supplies and plants didn’t have UPC codes on them so without the official Garden Center information notebook the inside cashiers had no way to know what to charge us for the items that are sold exclusively in the Garden Center.

• ~ 🌼~ •

So we waited… stick with me here… while someone from Customer Service went back into the closed Garden Center to get the information notebooks about the UPC codes for the items we wanted to buy.

Eventually our pleasant, but frazzled, cashier got the information she needed and was able to ring up our purchases. We paid. Then we pushed the flatbed cart across the large parking lot to where we’d parked our car conveniently adjacent to the Garden Center gates.

That’d be the Garden Center that was open when we arrived, but now was locked up tight on a beautiful spring Saturday morning in the suburbs.

BECAUSE CUSTOMER SERVICE MADE IT SO.

The end.

*Good Customer Service would have said something to the effect of: “Thank you for telling me what’s going on in the Garden Center. It’s not meant to be open until 10:00 a.m. I don’t have any cashiers to run those registers now BUT I’LL SEND SOME EMPLOYEES TO HELP YOU PUSH YOUR CARTS TO THIS PART OF THE STORE where we have registers open. I apologize for the inconvenience.” And that would have been the end of it. No story to tell.

Comment Confidential: The Perks And Pitfalls Of Reaching Out To Newfound Bloggers

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I feel the need to confide.

One change brought about by the Covid-19 Pandemic is that some bloggers, often longtime bloggers, have stopped posting. As a result many of my bloggy friends, ones who were here and I was there all the time, aren’t around anymore.

I miss them but understand why they’ve moved on and I realize that my blogging community is different, a bit emptier, without them in it.

Thus a couple of months ago, as I was sitting here at home still, I decided to be more extroverted and started reaching out to bloggers who were new to me. I felt that as a longtime blogger I could be proactive about creating bloggy friendships, especially with newfound bloggers.

These newfound bloggers came my way: 1) by leaving comments/likes on my blog; 2) when I saw them comment on blog posts elsewhere; and/or 3) when I saw they were part of the A-to-Z Challenge.

To be clear I only commented on blog posts that I found interesting, never as a way of ingratiating myself to someone hoping for reciprocity, never as a troll. I just said what I was thinking in the moment, like I always have, hoping that my first contact didn’t seem too weird or too nutz.

Then I waited to see how I would be received.

Below is a list of the perks and pitfalls that happened when I reached out to newfound bloggers. ‘Twas an enlightening experience. I’m glad I challenged myself to go outside my comfort zone and do this, but now I’m back to being my more introverted [ambiverted?] self, happy to chat with friendly bloggers who show an interest in what I have to say here.

Thank you very much.

~ 💚~

ONE: Encouraging. Many bloggers seemed pleased that I jumped into their comment section, replying in a timely fashion that made me feel welcome.

TWO: Confusing. Some bloggers sent out mixed signals. Despite generic polite replies I couldn’t figure if I was butting into their circle of blog friends or if I was wanted and they were just surprised by my interest.

THREE: Different. A few bloggers have tightly structured comment sections reminiscent of the singsong Episcopalian worship service’s Collect of the Day. Everyone who left a comment got a pleasant reply [blessing? response?] but the conversations in the comment section never went any farther.

FOUR: Duly noted. A few bloggers ignored my comment, or marginalized it by only ‘liking’ my comment, so that I got the clear impression I was not wanted.

FIVE: Perplexing. Some bloggers have commenting systems that ate my comment not indicating if it was being held in moderation or was not accepted. Should I try again? Do they want comments? [Was WP screwing with me again?]

SIX: Questionable. A few bloggers don’t seem to reply to comments at all, even though they had many of them. Without clearly stating how they process comments it was impossible for me to know if some commenters get an email reply behind the scene and I wasn’t worthy of one or if everyone doesn’t receive a reply.

SEVEN: Uplifting. After leaving a comment for some newfound bloggers, they were curious to see who I was and came here to this blog, often immediately jumping into my comment section.

EIGHT: Sociable. Often when commenting on a newfound blog I came across bloggers who also comment here. As a way of introduction in my first comment to the newfound blogger I’d mention our mutual bloggy friend because interconnectedness is one of the best things about blogging, right?

~ 💚~

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

Are you inclined to leave comments on newfound blogs that you come across in blog land?

How do you feel when you do that? Do you assume the blogger wants your comment or do you figure you might be an intruder? Or some point in-between?

What’s the best thing that can happen when you leave a comment on a blog post?

~ ~ 💚~ ~

Thinking About Good Vibes Only: What Inspires You? What Limits You?

A friend said she was looking for inspiration.

She wanted it to be online, not in her real life because that was what she was trying to rise above– the people and situations therein.

To be clear, she wasn’t talking about inspiration about how to remodel the kitchen or plan a party or how to take better photos. Nothing like that.

She wanted to find something/someone online who had an encouraging message that resonated with her.

She asked me what inspired me online and I said people who write about their lives, share their joys and defeats, perhaps a few photos, a few quotes. I like getting to know individuals and how they process their lives.

However that was NOT what she wanted.

No, and this is where I thought the conversation got interesting, she was looking for an online group of people, a niche really, wherein she could belong. She said that her idea of inspiration was to be part of a group, then do what the group did.

That idea, in the context of looking for inspiration, seemed foreign to me, someone who joins in group things every so often but doesn’t make a practice of it. I’ve nothing against being part of a group, but I usually find it limiting, not exhilarating.

The conversation went on a bit longer, morphing into a discussion about what it means to be independent. That is, do you find yourself thinking you are independent because you have the freedom to join any group you want? OR because you are free to not join any group and do your own thing instead?

Obviously there are no right or wrong answers to the questions posed in this post, but the conversation prompted me to contemplate how I live my life, where I put my power, and the assumptions on which I base my actions when seeking inspiration.

Thoughts, anyone?

One-Liner Wednesday: A Memorable Piece Of Marital Advice From Aunt Ann

This is one of those you-can’t-make-it-up stories.

Z-D says considering all the bad advice that is on social media lately I need to share this here. It’s a story from my past that imparts some memorable advice.  

Kind of weird advice.

I swear to you that his Aunt Ann said this to me years ago. And I’ll also tell you up front that I can honestly say I took her advice to heart.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here…

~ ~ ~ ~

Many years ago I went to a bridal shower held for moi.  It was ostensibly for me to meet about 20 of Zen-Den’s older female relatives, but was in fact a way for them to size me up.

They were not a friendly crowd.

It was an awkward uncomfortable event for me, an introvert, a sweet little lambie tossed in among the wolves, but I did my best to be likable because back then I cared about such things.

At this shower we played a game in which all the women at the shower were to write their best piece of marital advice on a 3×5″ index card.

While they got snacks I was to read all the cards to myself, picking the card with what I believed to be the best advice.  The person who wrote this card then got the door prize.  I can’t remember what it was, but these women wanted that prize.

There was a competitive spirit amongst them.

That I do remember.

I realized immediately that this game was a trap, the Kobayashi Maru of bridal shower games.  No matter whose advice I picked I’d tick off someone and there’d be repercussions, perhaps for decades.  These were women with a penchant for holding onto resentments.

Grudges were their lifeblood.

I did not like this game, but miracle of miracles I read Aunt Ann’s piece of advice and I instantly knew that I liked it the best PLUS I realized that no one there would ever resent me for picking it.

Yes, that’s how timeless and profound it was.

Aunt Ann told me: Never start ironing your rags, because once you do, you won’t be able to stop. 

Is this not so? And was I not fortunate to have Aunt Ann point this out to me, thereby setting me on the course to a life of freedom that comes from having wrinkled rag?

Huzzah!

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To learn more about Linda G. Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday click HERE.