Saturday, February 14, 2009

K-Mart/Sears Rent A Cop Disaster

Where to start?

Valentine's Day and my thoughts were of the great sushi dinner my husband was making, the brownies we'd be gobbling later, the chocolate bliss...

Not so fast.

I needed to grab something from the store so I went up to K-Mart (which also has a grocery store in it) on Military Highway in Norfolk, VA.

To start, this K-Mart is always a hassle. Long lines because out of 16 registers, usually only 3 are in service. It is not an exaggeration to say that you cannot just get a jug of milk and get out of there in less than 25 minutes. Tonight was no exception. Tayeda (the cashier) was on a personal phone call about where to find something in the house (next to the door to the laundry room we finally realized). She puts the caller on hold only long enough to bark the amount due and go back to her phone call.

No worries. I have sushi at home! Chocolate, even! No amount of teen angst is going to keep my from my nice dinner.

My eldest son, Jake, and I cheerfully discuss chocolate and its benefits. We discuss Joseph Schmidt truffles. We leave the store.

Normally, this is a feat in itself. Apparently K-Mart/Sears hasn't gotten the memo that most thefts are done by the employees. Actually, the MAJORITY are. Leaving K-Mart requires your receipt and the K-Mart employee on duty to check out your groceries and compare it to the list. I've often wanted to buy $300 worth of condoms with a few bottles of Boone's Farm thrown in just to see the reaction. The humiliation this causes as they prove I'm not a thief is more than my Libertarian stomach can handle.

But I digress.

Cheerfully, Jake and I walk to the car. Hop in. Start the car... nothing but clicks. UGH! This has been going on for a few weeks now - off and on. First we were told it was the battery. That checked out. Then, it was "the cold." I'm guessing starter solenoid but I'm just a girl. What do *I* know? (she asks sarcastically)

Valentine's Day is now starting to upset me greatly.

I try the ignition a few more times. Lights. Radio. Everything is working - but the starter.

click click click click click click click - like a machine gun with a silencer.

I lift the hood because we've all been taught that's the sign for, "My car won't start and I need someone with sense and compassion to help me out."

I'm not amused. People walk by. I can hear a few of them say things like, "Damn, her car won't start." It's all I can do not to yell out the window, "Really? Ya' THINK?" Because about 40 people walk by and no one offers to help.

Click click click a few more times. It starts to turn over but then reverts to that clicking noise again.

At this point, I tell Jake, "Don't worry. The security guard will drive by and see us and help." Jake wants to eat too.

Well, I'm half right. The security guard drives by not once... but THREE times but he doesn't stop.

Okay, hood's up. He doesn't even stop.

Thankfully, a good Samaritan does. We can't get it started. I thank him and give him a box of Girl Scout cookies (that I have now bought for him) for being the only person to stop and help.

But wait! The security guard is just a few yards away! He has to see what's going on. The Good Samaritan is in the middle of the road. That has to at least have gotten his attention.

Nope. The Samaritan makes sure I have someone on the way before he'll leave. I assure him AAA is on the way (and they were but it's Valentine's Day and the wait is at one hour.) I thank him again and wish him good night.

I try a few more times to see if it miraculously wants to start because of the Divine Power of the Goddess Venus and her influence over this day... nope. Screw her.

By now I'm angry. I turn to Jake and shake my head.

Then, the fact that we're in the 21st century hits me. I have a video camera!

At this point, the security guard has parked right across from me. I'm sure he's now going to get out and help but as you'll see in the video, he doesn't.

I sit in the car with my son with no heat for almost 45 minutes. Shift change with the security guards and the new security guard gets ready to get into the parked car and looks over at me. I'm so jaded at this point, I'm sure he won't come over to me. I start wondering if maybe they're not ALLOWED to help people like this. Maybe their only job is to keep people out of the fire lane.

But just then, Mr. Davis (the new security guard on duty) comes over to me and asks, "Are you alright Ma'am? Do you need any help?" Faith in humanity restored.

I tell Mr. Davis about his predecessor's lack of compassion and my shock that he drove by me 3 times AND looked at me as he could hear me try to start the car but not be able to and then WALK AWAY.

Mr. Davis remained professional. (God Bless him!) He apologized for my troubles, laughed at my sarcastic comments in a good-humored way, and got his own car to help jump mine. (I know many companies won't let the security guards use the "company car" to do this.) As we worked together, I noticed he was missing part of his right arm. A further look at his car showed me he was also a military man. Iraqi War wound? Is he doing this piddly job because Uncle Sam isn't paying him enough to stay alive? I am so thankful for this man on so many levels that I lose focus on what I'm supposed to be doing.

Mr. Davis managed to get my car started. In my not so humble opinion, this man should be recognized for picking up the slack of his co-worker who couldn't bother to see if I was okay or whether or not I needed assistance.

Mr. Davis gets a box of Samoas and my never-ending thanks for being polite, helpful, cheerful... maybe he was a Boy Scout too.

I've never spent $3.50 more enthusiastically in my life.

And K-Mart/Sears and Securitas?

Here's the license plate number and car number of the officers on duty tonight.

I don't know the name of the first work-a-brickle (lazy good-for-nothing) but Mr. Davis should be in management. You're missing out on having a good man in a place where he's appreciated and acknowledged.

Mr. Davis? Tonight, you're my special Valentine.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pull up a pile

An online friend asked me yesterday "How do you keep your house immaculate" and while I haven't answered her personally yet, the thought made me chuckle as I looked at the piles of books all over my room... and the bins of yarn.

You see, I have 4 children.

I also have a 3 bedroom house.

Because we have 6 people in one house, this house is hardly ever immaculate.

I often think about my mother that I've often joked is Martha Stewart on crack. You can eat off the dust in my mother's house - but first, I dare you to find any. She lectures me about the "clutter" and "shit" everywhere but there are some important differences in my childhood and the childhood of my children.

First, I homeschool 4 children. Actually, it's even more basic than that. I *HAVE* four children.
My mother had two and we went to school so we were gone for 8 hours a day NOT making messes in the house.

I have 3 boys... who, God love them are walking tornadoes.
My mother had two girls. Girls are eager to please (at least in the pre-teen years )

I had one grandparent who bought me things or made me clothes. Just one. (Not that I didn't have more grandparents but this is the relationship I had with them.)
My children have my parents who spoil them lovingly with EVERYTHING and my husband's mother who does the same.

Birthdays look like Christmas. Christmas looks like a toy drive for needy children. LOTS of them.

So if you ask me ideas for "cleaning", I will tell you the following:

  • Downsize the amount of clothing your children have. Do they really need two dressers full of clothing? Freecycle the clothing to those who need it. Sell it on Ebay for extra money.
  • Downsize the amount of toys you have. If they get two of one thing at Christmas (Hannukah or birthday), don't exchange it.... DONATE it. If they have so much stuff that they are getting duplicates, they have too much stuff.
  • Use the 6 month rule. If you haven't touched it in 6 months, throw it away, recycle it, freecycle it. This excludes holiday decorations.
  • Get rid of the paperwork by taking pictures of favorite drawings the children made. Scan documents (that don't have to be in hard copy) onto a disk. Scan pictures and put them on a disk.
  • SEND THEM OUTSIDE! If you're tired of your house looking like a wreck, make them move the mess outside! We hardly ever played inside when I was little. Therefore, we weren't INSIDE to make a mess.
  • Rotate the toys. Put out only a few at a time. Put the rest in storage bins (in the attic, in the shed, in the garage.)
  • Lose the sentimentality. Can you take a picture of something that you're holding onto just because it was your Aunt Gertrude's? If you want to honor Gerty, give it to someone who will use it.
  • Make THEM clean up. Seriously. There's no reason why your 7 year old can't vacuum, your 5 year old can't pick up dirty clothes, or your 3 year old not put toys away. If you think they're too young, let me ask you this: Aren't you too young to be a maid? Teach them responsibility. When they learn to pick up after themselves, they also learn empathy for making YOU have to do it. Have teenagers? They should be cooking by now. It's not slave labor. It's life lessons. No man wants a wife that can't cook. No woman wants a husband who can't plunge a toilet. Let me rephrase that. No woman wants a husband that can't cook. No husband wants a wife that can't plunge the toilet. Teach them to be self-reliant and that starts with taking care of themselves and their household. That's a GIFT!
  • Invest in "hidden" stowaways (baskets that can go under furniture/furniture with hidden storage bins). Once they are filled, THEN clean out the stuff.
  • Plan your menu ahead of time. Cook for a week on one day. Learn to love your crockpot/dutch oven. Teach your children to make salads, side dishes, desserts. Teach your teens to cook one night a week.
  • Keep busy with one task at a time. If they are finished playing with something, it gets put away before you are ALLOWED to take out something else. Also, keep busy with things that require more than 15 minutes to do. Idle hands are the devil's play thing - so to speak. And bored hands create one Hell of a mess.
The big lesson in all of this is learning to work together as a team. The Mom isn't the slave. The children aren't the slaves. The husband isn't the slave. You are all cogs in a household machine and if one of you isn't oiled and working properly, none of you function at 100%.