A Refreshing Conversation With An Older Gentleman Who Takes Life In Stride

“Sometimes you’re the windshield, Sometimes you’re the bug…” 

I was listening to an older acquaintance chuckle as he told me about a scam he’d gotten caught up in.  He understood what had happened and how it’d happened.

After some research and many phone calls, he’d extracted himself from the scam and was a few hundred dollars poorer because of it.

He told me that in retrospect he realized that the whole mess was less about him being stupid, than about the scam being slick and sophisticated, taking advantage of his trusting nature + his unfamiliarity with certain details.

No surprise there, eh?

But what struck me about this conversation, that was more like a monologue, was that this older gentleman telling me this story wasn’t bitter about what had happened.  There was not one ounce of “I’m a victim” or “I blame _____” going on with this guy.

Instead, he was telling his story as a cautionary tale.  All he needed was for someone to listen and understand his predicament– and for someone to tell him that he “done good” solving the problem himself.

All of which got me thinking…

When was the last time you were part of a conversation like this one?  SERIOUSLY, when did you last listen to someone who had been taken advantage of– and who wasn’t whining and emoting about the unfairness of it all?

Someone who was behaving like an adult who grasped the fact that in the rhythm of life not everything works out as planned– and that’s ok, too, because if you’re smart, you learn from it and move on.

Like this older gentleman did, in his quiet self-deprecating way.

Social Media: Rambling Thoughts About People Who Hate-Follow

It’s not that I’m a martyr to nice, but I don’t hate-follow anyone on social media.  It seems like more work than fun to me, but maybe I don’t know how to do it right.

I know it’s a thing to hate-follow other people.  I keep hearing about it from friends and family, sometimes in the context of harmless mischief, other times mentioned as, what I’d call, peremptory maliciousness.

They tell me who they follow, often a high school nemesis or a work frenemy or a disliked neighbor.

They tell me that doing this makes them feel good about themselves. That by keeping tabs on someone who they dislike, they come to understand themselves better &/or stay ahead of any trouble that might be brewing.

I don’t know if I totally buy into my friends and family’s reasoning behind the hate-following. To me their reasoning sounds more like rationalization about doing something kinda fun + almost amoral, than behavior contributing to a person’s good mental health.

But considering no one expects me to become a hate-follower, and no one seems to have upped his or her dosage of Zanax because of the hate-following, I figure what the heck?

I mean if nothing else, these friends and family do seem to have some fun, juicy stories to share about people– and you know me, I always love a good story, regardless of how someone learns about it.

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY:

• Do you hate-follow anyone on social media? If so, how’s that working out for you? Details, please.

• Alternately, do you know anyone who hate-follows on social media? If so, do they have good stories to tell because of it? Or is it warping their brain to the dark side?

• Even more intriguing, do you think anyone is hate-following you? Hmmm?

The Tale Of Getting Our Held Mail Upon Return From Vacay

I DID NOT START THIS.  I want to be clear on this point.

I inherited this feud from some women who used to live on this street when all the houses were new, and the street wasn’t finished yet.  Women who moved to the midwest from big sophisticated cities.

Women who had never dealt with a small town misogynistic resentful male postal clerk who grumbled loudly about doing his job, poorly.

For reasons never fully explained to me they hated him, and being who they were, they launched a letter-writing + email-sending campaign to get him fired.  They found the names of everyone in the U.S. Postal Service who might be influential enough to get this resentful male postal clerk axed from his job– and set about trying to make it so.

Their campaign, organized and relentless as it was, did not work.

THEN they moved away leaving me the only woman on this street who knows what they did– and still suffers for it because he remembers which part of our street was out to get him.

The block I live on.

# # #

# # #

SO KNOWING WHAT I KNOW, I went over to our local post office branch to get our mail that had been held while we were on vacation.

As usual he was the only clerk working behind the counter and I had to stand in a long line.  No big deal.  Totally expected.

What I did not expect, however, was our resentful male postal clerk getting into a prolonged shouting match with a male customer who was trying to decide which box to use to send something somewhere.

Our resentful male postal clerk had strong opinions on what this customer guy should be doing– and the customer guy was. not. buying. it. at. all.

I found this tense conversation fascinating because this is my first experience with our resentful male postal clerk turning vicious on a man.

He’s branched out.  [pun intended]

# # #

# # #

EVENTUALLY I GET TO THE COUNTER.  With a sense of foreboding I hand my driver’s license to our resentful male postal clerk, and I wait for the inevitable hateful glare.

The snarl.

The shout.

“Greenwood Street, huh?”

But this time, my gentle readers, I was ready.  I put on what might be my best dramatic performance ever, playing the part of a contrite suburbanite.  When he squinted his eyes and glared at me, I slouched, I looked down at the floor, and I hung my head in shame for living on the street that I do.

Oddly, this performance seemed to light a fire under his heretofore slow-moving butt and he went into the back of the post office branch to retrieve my mail.  Lickety-split-like.  Without whining.

# # #

# # #

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE.  As if this story could get more exciting and amazing, when our resentful male postal clerk returned from the back with our mail, that included 31 catalogues + many letters, he had it in an official U.S. Post Office rectangular white plastic toter that he handed to me.

This is unprecedented.

Never before has this resentful male postal clerk NOT dumped all of our mail on the counter for me to grasp, as best I can, in my arms.  He has previously enjoyed making me look like a klutz as I scramble to not drop anything while skedaddling out of his post office branch.

But this time, he was, for him, in his own way, almost kind to me.

And I gotta tell ‘ya, I find this a bit disturbing.  It’s just not normal– like he’s playing some new game with me that I have yet to figure out.

Taunts & Tears: In Which I Wonder About Humanity Whilst Shopping

“Do you want $13.47?”

That’s the first thing she said to me.

I told her “no” and explained that I had money.

I was in Best Buy in an upscale part of town and after a long wait in line I’d finally made it to the cashier, a pleasant efficient girl, a bit on the plain Jane side, probably college age– totally confused about what to do next.

“But what do I do with it?” 

She was holding the change from the transaction that had just taken place in front of me when two Kardashian-esque high school kids had purchased some candy with a twenty-dollar bill– and refused to take their change.

“I tried to give them the $13.47 back, but they wouldn’t take it.  They told me to keep the change.  But it’s theirs, not mine.”

I’d been watching and listening to these kids directly in front of me while standing in line.  I knew them for what they were.  Troublemakers.  Snotty rich kids wasting Daddy’s money.  Pointing at the cashier, snickering about her looks.

“But what do I do with the money? It’s not mine.”

As if on cue, we heard a car engine outside the front window of the store and turned to see the two high school kids in a convertible Mercedes, top down, driving by the window laughing and waving at us.

With that my cashier began to cry.  Somehow being mocked by these two had really gotten to her.

So there I stood, waiting for the tears to stop and for her to look at me.  When she did, still sniffling, I answered her question about what she should do.  I said:

You’re ok.  You did everything right.  This is not your fault, no one is going to blame you.  After your shift when you turn in your till tonight you explain that there’s $13.47 too much in there because some rich idiotic spoiled kids wouldn’t take their change.  You’re ok.  This is not your fault, no one is going to blame you.

And you know what?  My words calmed her down so that she stopped sniffling, rang up my sale– and was back to her cheerful self quietly saying her newfound mantra.

“I’m ok.  This is not my fault.  No one’s going to blame me.”

What To Do When The Gift Of Your Attention Is Thrown Away

[Subtitled: When Expectations & Reality Do Not Align In Interpersonal Communication Exchanges]

[Sub-subtitled: People Suck, Don’t Take It Personally]

A CONVERSATION WITH a genuinely nice friend who is snitified about, of all things, Christmas cards.  Sending of said. Receipt of said. Subsequent action taken [or not taken] as result of receipt of said.

The conversation covered the following points:

  1. sending a card is optional;
  2. sending a card is giving the recipient the gift of your attention;
  3. sending a card does not obligate the recipient to send one back to you, but it’s delightful if they do;
  4. discovering that recipient has sent cards to other people, but not you, is your cue to ______ ?

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-1-37-41-pmWHILE THE SPECIFICS of this conversation were about Christmas cards, as we talked I realized that this gift of attention scenario plays out in other areas of our lives.

For instance, what do you make of someone, a friend &/or family member, who you send friendly texts to, but they never include you in the texting and photo sharing that they do with everyone else in your group?

Or to put it in blogging terms, how do you deal with someone who allows your comments to show up on their blog, then never bothers to respond to you, while publicly talking with all the other commenters on their blog?

To be fair, I truly don’t know if these people who throw away the gift of your attention are even aware that they are doing so.  They could be clueless.  They could be crazy.  Who know?

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-1-38-27-pmBUT THE THING is, people like my friend notice this sneaky ungrateful behavior, and it hurts them.

She’s a person who sincerely believes that you need to model the behavior you want to see in others, so that they may learn from your example.  This means that for her, when someone ignores her, she is flummoxed about how to react.

That is, in this specific case, should she continue to send the card because she is remaining true to her values by showing the recipient the way to live?

Or should she acknowledge that the recipient doesn’t care about their relationship, as shown by the recipient’s behavior– and give up on this person altogether?

I know what my answer is, but for some people this is a difficult decision to make.

In Which I Lie, But Cannot Decide If It Matters

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 10.41.29 AM

A conundrum.

You know how conventional wisdom says that what you do says more about who you are than what you say?

So here’s the story.  An acquaintance who I’ve known for well over a decade says to me something like:

“You always wear eyeglasses with plastic frames, don’t you?”

This is while I’m standing in front of her wearing my rimless eyeglasses that I’ve worn forever.

Like before Sarah Palin made them popular.

Like all the time. Every day. On my face.

And I say back to her:

“Yes.”

She continues talking while I wonder which one of just revealed the most about ourselves.

That is, she is obviously clueless about what I look like if she hasn’t noticed that my eyewear has been the same in all the time I’ve known her.

But what does it say about me that I lied when I didn’t correct her?  And that I went right along with her pretend attentiveness, intended to make me think she cares about me?

I don’t have an answer to the questions raised during this less-than-delightful little social interaction, but the conversation caused me to wonder: who’s scamming who here?

Morning Calm Disturbed, Questions Raised

The Incident Described. 

Me at 6:15 a.m.  Ambient lighting on in kitchen.  Coffee brewed.  Mug in right hand.  Sitting at kitchen counter.  Left elbow on counter to provide support for head.  Eyes closed.  Thinking about a popular saying* and its applicability to the life of a writer.

Husband enters room.  I mumble something akin to “good morning.”  But husband, who is always too awake in the morning, decides to revert to his 8-year-old self, slobber on his finger, then put his finger up my nose.  Leading to the following:

  • me wide awake;
  • me wiggling out of his reach;
  • me laughing;  and
  • me wondering about something.

The Questions Raised. 

After the above incident, the focus of our subsequent early morning conversation was on defining exactly what makes up a wet willy.  Keeping in mind that this is a PG13 blog, I ask you:

What do you call a slobbery finger up the nose?  A wet willy?  Or something else entirely?

The Asterisk Explained.

The saying I was thinking about, taken from medicine, was: when you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras.”  In other words, go with the obvious diagnosis/explanation.  Or as applied to this particular post, go with the most recent event in your life, even if it is devoid of profundity and seems a bit silly!