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

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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!

An Unsolved Mystery: What Became Of Dottie?

When the weather turns sub-zero, my thoughts turn to carbohydrates.  All kinds of carbohydrates.  Some of which are meant to be eaten with delicious stews and soups.

Carbohydrates like corn bread.

Homemade.  Using Dottie Dorsel’s Corn Meal, a regional favorite.  A product packaged in a rectangular shape made of thick paper.  Traditional.  Easy to find on the shelf.

• • •

So I went to ye olde K. Roger to a buy some of Dottie Dorsel’s Corn Meal and instead what I found was Dorsel’s Corn Meal.  Packaged in a slick corporate plastic bag with a zip top and large writing that excluded Dottie’s name.

This, I said to myself, is an outrage.

I mean, Betty is still with Crocker.  Duncan is still with Hines.  Aunt is still with Jemima.  [Okay, the last one’s not the same, but go with me here.  I’m on a rant.]

SO WHAT HAPPENED TO DOTTIE DORSEL?

The heroine of our story.

• • •

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{ Image courtesy of dannwoellertthefoodetymologist }

• • •

Naturally I started researching this mystery because it’s fricking cold outside and I ain’t going anywhere on foot or car [if I can help it] I had the time and I was curious to see how the current owners of Dottie Dorsel’s Corn Meal would explain themselves.

I discovered that:

  • Dottie Dorsel, aka Dorathea Dorsel, was a real person from northern Kentucky whose father owned The Dorsel Milling Company in the late 1800s.
  • I learned from a recipe in a 1999 cookbook that the company was at that time called the Dottie Dorsel Company.
  • I know that today Prairie Mills owns, what it refers to as, Dorsels Brands.
  • I cannot find any corporate PR releases or newspaper articles that talk about the change in packaging– or why Dottie’s delightfully alliterative name was left off the new package.
  • I can find some recipes online [here and here] from the early 2000s that mention using Dottie Dorsel Pinhead Oat Meal (another regional favorite), but Corn Meal recipes, specifically mentioning Dottie, do not seem to exist.

• • •

Clearly, there’s a conspiracy going on here.  A cover-up.  You can’t go around messing with people’s names on food packaging, can you?  I realize that Fig Newton dropped the Fig from its name, but Fig wasn’t a real live person who I related to on so many levels.

Fig was a fruit.  Duh.

All I can guess is that Dottie must have overheard something so sinister or stumbled upon a secret so dark that there was a need to rub her out.  Which lead to some mysterious someone axing her first name from the packaging of her own regionally famous corn meal.

BUT WHY MUST IT END THIS WAY?

That’s what I can’t figure out.

[Hello FTC!  I forgot to add this disclaimer when I wrote this post, so I’ll add it now… a few weeks later.  I’d love to tell you that this company was savvy enough to respond to my concerns, but no such luck.  Meaning that there was no compensation for what I said here.]

Reviewing The News, Reaching For The Wine

“I am satisfied.  Give me a bowl of wine:

I have not that alacrity of spirit,

Nor cheer of mind, that I was wont to have–

So, set it down.– Is ink and paper ready?”

~ William Shakespeare, King Richard III

• • •

USUALLY I’M GOOD AT knowing what I’m thinking and feeling about things.  Clarity of thought.  Sense of purpose.  Focus on what matters now.

Me.  Most of the time.

But the news of these last few weeks has worn me down.  Made me wonder about humanity.  Made me want to stay in my jammies all day, hiding in the back of the closet, playing Candy Crush.

• • •

First we talked about:

Ebola, and the CDCTexas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas‘s half-assed handling of said at a time when everyone in the USA needed them to do things properly.

Then we were inundated with: 

Mitch McConnell [or Old Turkey Neck as he’s known in this house], and his daily TV political attack ads against his opponent, a woman with a gun who seems to scare the bejesus out of him.

Followed by:

Gamergate, and the blatant misogynistic attacks on woman associated with it under the guise of fair journalistic practices.

Then all of this took center stage:

Renee Zellweger, and the incessant opining about the reasons why she did what she did + about the results of what she did.

Culminating in:

The Parliament of Canada, and the unforeseen attack on it leading to the world’s newest isn’t-he-amazing hero who saved lives by calmly doing what needed to be done.

• • •

SO MY POINT HERE?  After hearing and reading about all the above, I’m tired, emotionally.  I’m tired, physically.

I’m just plain tired.

I have to wonder if keeping up with the news is what I need to be doing with my time.  While the well-educated rational side of me says “stay informed,” the sensitive empathetic side of me says “ignore.”  The cognitive dissonance is beginning to get to me.

Leading me to contemplate how I can do both when the agenda-setting function of the media gives me bad news everywhere that I turn.  Except in my closet, of course.  Where you may just find me, with my bowl of wine.

Waiting for my alacrity of spirit to return.

Deconstructing A Delightful Comment From A Dubious Source

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WP tells me that this comment is spam, but it’s so uplifting that I had to share it with you, my gentle readers.  Despite its tarnished origins, I think that it might be one of the best comments that I’ve received in 10+ years of blogging.  Let’s see if we can learn from it, shall we?

~ ~ • ~ ~

• Sentence #1 – a nice simple greeting.

You can never go wrong with direct and pleasant.   

•  Sentence #2 – flattery.

Oh yes, I like it.  More praise please. 

•  Sentence #3 – a glance backwards.

Isn’t it sweet when someone shares a piece of his life with you? 

•  Sentence #4 – more reminiscence.

I feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit here.      

•  Sentence #5 – action intended to create friendship.

Please do, I’m sure that he’s as charming as you are.  

•  Sentence #6 – flattery again.

Oh sir, I blush thinking about how much you like what I wrote here.  

•  Sentence #7 – expression of gratitude.

What better way to end a comment, I ask you?  ‘Tis perfect.