Tiny Bit of Crazy

A chronical of the laughter, revelations and transformations that are possible when you embrace the crazy

Lady Lumps October 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meredith @ 8:22 pm

They say that it’s during times of stress that you really find out what you’re made of.

Well if that’s true, then I’m apparently made out of sugar, carbs and a bottomless hole for a stomach.

My surgery is on Thursday. As in the day after tomorrow.

I’ve been doing pretty good up until last night. Last night was when the bottomless hole opened up. I ate a larger than normal serving of one of my favorite, very Paleo dinners. And 40 minutes later felt like I’d never eaten at all.

This morning I woke up with a generalized feeling of anxiety and after confirming I hadn’t forgotten anything, wasn’t avoiding anything, and I didn’t have any unpleasant confrontations looming, I deduced that it was nerves related to my impending surgery.

.

I’ve been in a bad mood all day.

Like a look-at-me-wrong-and-I’ll-kick-you-twice- in-the-knee-and-then-spit-on-you mood. Actually, you don’t even have to look at me wrong.

But you know what helps? Food. Specifically sugary carby food. Food I haven’t eaten in this quantity since my last visit to Twig’s house.

Except then it made me go all diabeticy and cranky, and had no real advantage in my life.

This time it makes me human.

I can’t explain it, but this is what I know:

Exhibit A: Raging bitch all morning. Went to grocery store, and spent whole time imagining committing acts of unspeakable violence against every person I encountered. Bought GF cookies, chocolate muffins, bagels and cream cheese. Got in the car and ate a cookie. Before I’d even finished the cookie I’d transitioned back into a nearly human state. I even smiled at one point on the drive back to work.

Came back to the office, heated up GF chicken tenders and my favorite veggies for lunch. Veggies were gross, chicken tenders heavenly. Ditched veggies, ate chicken fingers with my fingers.

Exhibit B: Two hours pass and I feel the monster coming back. Consume entire GF chocolate muffin. I’m almost cheerful.

Which is not SO remarkable, because who isn’t happier after eating a chocolate muffin, right? The thing is, on a normal day, if I’d eaten an entire chocolate muffin, I’d have a stomach-ache, and likely a headache from the sugar. But instead, I start to resemble a human again, and then 45 minutes later, I’m hungry AGAIN, so I make a bagel and cream cheese and I retain my human form for a little while longer.

Clearly my body has decided that I’m about to enter a concentration camp and must stock up for the lean times ahead.

Also, the junk food feels like a treat to compensate for the pain and stress of the impending surgery. And thinking about everything I’m going to eat in the next few days helps to offset the anxiety.

I’ve tried to keep things in perspective by reminding myself that Chris’s surgery was a way bigger deal. That doesn’t work at all. Because even though my surgery will be about 1/10th as serious and traumatizing, and my recovery about 1/100th as taxing or long, I plan to behave as if it’s exactly the opposite.

Because I’m a gigantic baby. Seriously, when the hives started from the steri-stips after my last biopsy, I had to leave work. Because sitting at a desk with two dime sized hives on my boob was too taxing. I have no ability to judge pain on a scale of severity. You know those charts they show you to judge your pain level, where there’s a smiley face at 1 and an angry crying face at 10? Its like I have autism when I look at those charts: all the facial expressions seem to signal the exact same thing: PAIN.

Chris has no idea what he’s in for.

But there is one saving grace. Once thing that might stop me from wallowing in a puddle of cream cheese, self-pity and percocet, and that is that I have a new project.

Remember back in June when I announced that my dad and I had published a book? Well, shortly after that my Uncle Vic asked me to publish a book he’d written. And somewhere in there I realized that I really enjoyed the work. But I also realized that there was only much I could do in terms of helping them market their books as an individual. There are still a lot of doors closed to self-published authors. So I decided to set up a company so that they can say they have a publisher and have more access to reviewers and bloggers and marketing outlets. And the main way that you become a company is to have a name (Possibilities Publishing Company) a logo and a website. So I devoted several evenings and weekends (and several of Chris’s evenings and weekends) to creating those things (and filing some paperwork, but that part’s boring), and now I have a company!

Then, a friend heard what I was doing and asked if I would help her publish the digital version of her book.  Then she told one of her friends who also needed a new publisher for her e-book, and suddenly everyone has a book they want published.

So for the last month or so, this has been my all-consuming project. And at some point it became Chris’s all-consuming project too. One minute he was offering some web design advice, the next he was named Director of Technology and Design and was handed a task list.  One of his main job responsibilities is to identify ways for me to work smarter instead of harder, which most of the time blows my mind. There’s a program or an app for EVERYTHING.  Every night after dinner we sit down at his dinning room table, him on his lap top and me on mine, and we work on the company. And no matter how many times I try to convince him we should take a night off to watch TV, he never falls for it, just pulls out his computer and asks me what the “must do” project is for that night.

I know, right?

The work is interesting, challenging, satisfying and energizing. And it couldn’t have come along at a better time.

One of the side effects of these lumps and the diagnostic process is feeling endlessly out of control of my life and of my body. It’s a constant balancing act between what to tell people and what to keep to myself, between trust and skepticism, compliance and self-advocacy. Plus, I don’t know for sure how this story is going to end – the post excision biopsies could be benign, or they could be…not. Without something to occupy my mind I’d spend all my free time trying to guess what will happen based on made up clues.

But instead I think about publishing. And marketing. And mailing lists. When I can’t sleep I ponder the statistics related to book sales for Kindle versus Nook, instead of statistics related to how often my type of lump turns out to be cancer. In the shower, instead of feeling my glands to see if they are swollen, I think of marketing campaigns.

And maybe most important of all, instead of wondering how long I can drag out my recovery so I can watch marathons of bad reality TV while Chris brings me gluten free brownies, I wonder how quickly I’ll be able to get on my laptop and get back to publishing.

As far as profitability goes, it’s probably going to be years before its net worth equates to provides me with a living, but for now its making me feel like I have a life worth living, so I’ll take it.

 

Cross Posting August 14, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meredith @ 4:47 pm

This is a post I wrote for my other blog, over at SpeakeasyDC. 

I know it’s not the same as when I write posts just for you. But there are just so many hours in the day, and well…isn’t this better than nothing?

Besides, all the cool poly-bloggers (I totally just made that term up), cross-post between their blogs. It’s totally a thing. For real.

**

This post originally appeared here.

This past weekend, I attended my boyfriend Chris’s annual family reunion for the first time. Over the course of a day and a half I met more than 70 members of his extended family.

Um,  Overwhelming Anxiety, party of one, please.

As we pulled up to his Aunt’s house on Friday evening and one of his cousins came out to greet us, I experienced a level of social stage fright that I haven’t experienced since high school. See, as soon as I realized I had a proclivity toward storytelling, I used that as a way to control my natural social anxiety. Over the years I’ve honed the skill and fine tuned specific stories that now serve as my armor to protect me from any awkward or dull moments.

But those stories are just about me. And I was assuming that Chris’s family, much like my own, would have little interest in listening to the stories of this stranger. I mean, this was only my audition, they needed to decide if they even wanted to see me again before they could be expected to care about my complicated relationship with my pet fish. No matter how funny the story.

As Chris turned off the engine of the car, and I looked through the windshield at his grinning cousin, my breath caught in my throat and my stomach did an epic somersault. I briefly considered what the fallout would be if I refused to get out of the car. But then there was driveway under my feet and I found myself following Chris across the grass and into the warm embraces of his cousin, Aunt and Uncle. And when I saw the ways their eyes lit up when he introduced me, my anxiety subsided significantly.

Within a few minutes Chris and his cousin settled into the standard catch up conversation, and Chris referenced his broken collar bone from earlier this year. Immediately his cousin wanted details, and before I could even think about it, Chris and I had established a tag team storytelling routine. Chris would introduce the topic, give some detail, and then I would interject with more of a color commentary, telling funny stories about how Chris reacted to the Ambien he was given to help him sleep after the surgery, or what he was like coming out of anesthesia. And his cousin ate it up.

The next day when we were with the rest of the family, his cousin would repeatedly tee us up with great openings like ”have you heard about his guy on Ambien?” Honestly, I could not have designed a better social storytelling environment. And then after we’d told a few stories, his family would start telling their own stories – stories of Chris as a child, of past family reunions, and people who were no longer with us. They were stories that gave me new information about Chris and put him within the context of his huge, close knit family.

Sometime around dusk on Saturday night, I realized that my face hurt from laughing so much,  and I couldn’t remember the last time I had such a good social audience for my stories. That’s when a light bulb went off: We were doing more than shooting the breeze to pass the time and entertain ourselves. We were using storytelling the way it was meant to be used: to connect.

Our stories gave Chris’s family a glimpse into the life that Chris and I led away from them, revealing dimensions and elements of Chris’s personality that they wouldn’t otherwise be privy too. The stories also let them observe our relationship in an organic, yet compressed way, and they got to know important things about me as much as from how I told the stories, as from what was in the stories.

This was one of those moments where I was reminded that this is the real power of  storytelling –  providing people – whether strangers or family – connect in powerful, meaningful, and memorable ways.

 

Crazy Is On The Move June 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meredith @ 1:08 pm

I hate moving. I know, I know. You’re all, “Tell me something interesting!”

But here’s the thing, I really believe that moving is a little extra traumatic for me than it is for normal people.

First, until recently, as in the last 2 years/moves, I was a pack rat (or “pre-hoarder” as I like to call it.)

Second, I hate change. In college I set my room up exactly the same way every year. Same posters by the desk, same nick-nacks on the dresser, and to this day I hang my clothes in the same order in the closet (dresses and pants on the right, shirts in the middle, sweaters and coats on the left. Obviously.)

Third, and I really think this is the kicker, I believe if you ignore something unpleasant it will eventually go away. And while this may be a fine strategy for dealing with strange lumps in your breasts and weird noises coming from your car engine, its terrible for moving.

And finally, take issue number two, add it with issue number three and moving day equals pure hell for everyone.

In the 14 years since I’ve graduated college I’ve moved 7 times. And the first 4  happened in the first  5 years and with my same group of friends helping me move each time.

And these friends would show up to my house on moving day, and find that I was not packed to their standards, and get really mad at me. Now, in my defense, the first 2 times I thought I was packed, but then kept discovering endless cupboards, closest and corners that I’d missed. So much scolding, yelling and judgmental glances accompanied the sweating and heaving of the day.

Each time a new moving day approached, I swore to myself, and my long-suffering friends, that I’d be better. And each time the number of cupboards and closets I’d forgotten decreased.

But then there were these mysterious packing rules that I kept violating. Like how self-contained, but small items, like a jewelry box or toaster, should still be put into a bigger box full of similar items. And breakable stuff is supposed to all be put together and clearly labeled FRAGILE so someone’s boyfriend doesn’t just toss my box of wine glasses willy nilly into the back of the truck, BUT you’re NOT supposed to put all your books in one box.

How am I supposed to keep all of that straight?

Each move I learned new rules and followed them on the next move, but no matter what, somehow I was never as ready to go when the U-Haul pulled in as I thought I was the night before.

Surveying my place the night before the move, I would see boxes neatly stacked and empty cupboards and closets.

The next morning I’d see chaos and small items that should have been consolidated, and more stuff that should have been thrown away, and generally at least another day’s worth of work to really be deemed “ready to move”.

I finally realized around move #5 that it was a trick my brain would play on me when I was tired of packing, or overwhelmed from the emotional toll of the change.

My brain is not as funny as it thinks it is.

And as the morning of Moving Day would dawn I’d be seized by angst and panic knowing that this would be another day filled with my friends scolding and mocking me in between fantasies of crushing me under my boxes.

When it was time for move #6, Chris and I had been dating for exactly 10 weeks. I was moving from a shared apartment into basically a single room in a town house. I had downsized to the point where everything fit comfortably inside a 4X8 trailer with room to spare.

Chris kept insisting that he and I could do the move alone. I explained that moving me is always a disaster. I explained about the years of lectures and threats to end friendships from other people who had moved me. He always responded with a variation of “You worry too much. I’m sure it will be fine.”

I wanted to believe him, but couldn’t trust that our fledgling relationship could handle the weight of all my possessions carried one at a time.

So I called in some favors and managed to get two friends to help us with the move, and thank god I did. Not so much because of the volume of stuff to be carried, but because having the extra people helped distract Chris’s attention when someone moved my closet door, or my bed, and uncovered a new pile of stuff I’d forgotten to pack.

Move #7 was last week. This time I was moving from a 10x9ft room into a 12X12 ft room. Again, Chris insisted that we could do it by ourselves, which was good since we ended up having to do it on a weekday afternoon which means that everyone has an iron clad excuse not to help.

I believed this move was going to be easy. I was 80% packed two weeks out, and the day before I honestly believed I was as ready as a person could possibly be. I’d even gotten a head start on the cleaning.

But I couldn’t trust my brain, it had let me down before.

The week leading up to the move I was an emotional wreck. I couldn’t sleep, I had trouble eating, and I had constant headaches from the tension in my neck and shoulders. Chris kept saying “Its going to be fine. As long as you’re really ALL packed,” or “Nothing is going to go wrong. As long as it’s not a repeat of last year where we kept finding things that weren’t packed.”

See? Even optimistic-everything-will-be-fine, Chris had started to turn.

I kept going over the list both out loud and in my head like a mantra: Every item was in a box or bag. Every box and bag was light enough that I could pick it up. Every piece of furniture was dusted, shelves were removed from book cases and contents emptied from drawers.

I. Was. Ready.

Except as mantras went, instead of calming me it made me more anxious. The stakes were higher than they’d ever been.

First, I was offering reassurance on a level I’d never done before, so if it turned out that, like every other move, I really wasn’t ready I was a liar as well as a terrible packer.

Second, if I wasn’t ready, and the move was another disaster, it was going to be Chris who was scolding me, and sighing in exasperation. Chris! Who has never scolded me or sighed in exasperation at me, despite ample opportunity.

The night before the move I had a nightmare that I was schizophrenic, and kept running around asking people what was true and what was real about my life.

I woke up with a horrible headache, and aching muscles from the ball of tension I’d pulled myself into while I slept.

Luckily we weren’t getting the truck until 12:30 so we didn’t have to miss a full day of work. Except I ended up calling in sick, worried that if I went into work I’d just sit at my desk and cry all morning from the stress. So I took a long hot shower, and cooked some scrambled eggs which I forced down over the knot in my stomach.

I went over to my place at 9 and moved half the contents of my room out into the hallway, staging them by the stairs. I didn’t know if we’d take the bed out first or last (that being another of those moving rules I never understand), so I just made sure it was ready to go either way. At 11:45 I couldn’t think of a single other thing to do, so I went back over to Chris’s to try to eat lunch (didn’t happen).

And guess what?

We had me moved out in 25 minutes flat. It was, for the first time in my life, an organized and relatively easy move. Because of the layout of the new place it took a little longer to unload, but we had the truck back to the U-haul place barely 3 hours after we’d rented it, and that included a 20 minute drive each way to the U-haul place.

This might count as one of the biggest accomplishments of my life, to date.

Don’t judge.

And you know what else? Chris and I work really well together. Which I kind of already knew, but moving is exhausting and fraught with frustration and opportunities to fuss at each other. Even at the end, when we were both so hot and sweaty and tired, and Chris’s bad shoulder had basically given out, and I was starving and light headed from not eating lunch and it looked like my box spring wasn’t going to make it into the room, thereby ruining our record for the most perfect move ever, we remained a team. And that is no small thing.   And I think it was because we both stayed calm and kept working together that we were eventually able to figure out a way to get my box spring into the room.

And I know that the next question on everyone’s lips, is “where did you move and are you living with Chris?”

And the answer is no, Chris and I did not move in together.

But that is a topic for another blog :)

 

Diva Wanna Be February 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meredith @ 4:49 pm
Tags: , , , ,

My first job after college was working as the lowest level administrative assistant at the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation – essentially the Kennedy Family’s Foundation. Yes, those Kennedys.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver was the Vice President of the Foundation (her brother, Senator Kennedy was the President, but since he was busy in Congress, Mrs. Shriver was in charge of running the Foundation.)

A big chunk of my job involved doing personal things for Mrs. Shriver. I got her lunch and made her tea every day. When she had visitors or meetings, I got them all coffee. The kitchen was at the opposite end of the floor from her office, so getting coffee was no small task. But her guests were always a big deal – major names in politics or entertainment, so naturally they wouldn’t be getting themselves coffee. That would be ridiculous.

But the idea of “getting coffee” was also symbolic of the expectation by Foundation management – and by “management” I mean anyone who’d worked there longer than 3 months – that everyone would pitch in in any way needed no matter how menial (or odd) the job. In other words, if called upon, the executive director was expected to cheerfully fetch coffee.

Yeah…I never saw an executive director fetch coffee. That’s what I was there for. Which was really fine by me because if I was in the kitchen getting coffee I wasn’t getting yelled at by Mrs. Shriver, or being asked to do 12 things at once, or dodging the creepy blind guy who liked to run his cane up the inside of my leg “by accident”.

But the idea of “getting coffee” as code for “no job too small”, came from Mrs. Shriver herself. If she ever suspected that someone was resistant to doing a menial task, she’d give them the “coffee speech”. It was legendary, and a right of passage for new staff, and went something like this:

“You know, you are never too good to do small things. Everyone has to start at the bottom. Never think you are above getting someone coffee. You know how my daughter Maria, and her best friend Oprah started their careers? Getting coffee on the newsroom floor! And do you know how successful they are now? You know what I did at my first job at the Department of Justice? I got coffee! Now look where I am!”

Fair enough. And I actually took the speech to heart when I first heard it, it resonated with my natural inclination toward being unassuming. Which was why I was a one of Mrs. Shriver’s prefered errand girls.

(Although general consensus among employees is that if any one of that trio EVER got coffee, it was for themselves, and even that feels a stretch. We’re fairly positive that no Kennedy-Shriver ever fetched coffee as a job. But I’m willing to allow that perhaps Oprah did once or twice.)

After I left Mrs. Shriver and the Foundation, I went to a job where I was a manager and so didn’t think I’d have to get anyone coffee anymore. Not that I expected anyone to get me coffee. I didn’t even drink coffee at the time. But I at least thought I was done getting coffee… but it still ended up being my job when we had important people into the office. But it was fine, the conference room was close to the kitchen.

When I started my company I worked out of my home, and my assistant came over 1-2 days a week. I started making coffee, (as well as often cooking her lunch, and have baked goods on hand for her, but that’s a different story. )  I think initially I started making the coffee because I felt like I was hosting her in my home, and by the time I realized that it made more sense for the assistant to spend the time making the coffee instead of the boss, she was seeing it as perk of her employment, and the one day when I was running in three directions at once and suggested she make the coffee, she was so offended I immediately retracted it and from then on always made AND served the coffee.

A major part of my business was running fundraising events for non-profits. A lot of my time was spent bringing coffee to “big deal donors” and their guests.

My point is that I’ve spent a lot of time in my life getting other people coffee. People who either were, or wanted to feel as if they were, more important than me.

Last night I was invited to perform a story for a group of students at the University of Maryland. I was in the car for an hour and 45 minutes to get there. Then I had to find my way to and through an unfamiliar metro to pick up my fellow storyteller. Then we had to find our way to and through campus, to the parking lot, and coordinate with the student who was supposed to meet us and take us to the venue. He took us across muddy grass and over a snow pile. I was wearing high-heeled boots. We walked in just as the show was starting, there were students everywhere in every manner of grouping and to my unfamiliar eyes it seemed chaotic. We oriented to the room, and made our way to a table where it looked like we might find someone in charge. I was starving, dehydrated, and in desperate need of caffeine.

The student we chose to approach was one of the coordinators and gave us an enthusiastic and welcoming greeting. She explained we’d be performing in about an hour, and asked us if we needed anything. My immediate, automatic response was “No, I’m fine.”

She asked again, “Can I get you anything? Water maybe?” And I realized, yes, water would be good before speaking. So I agreed. Then as we continued to chat for another moment before she went to get the waters, I started doing an inventory of how hungry/tired I was, and how long it was going to be before I was on stage, and realized I was definitely going to need more than water. I figured food was out of the question, but perhaps…

 “Is there any coffee?” I asked hesitantly.

“Yes of course!” She said. “We have a Starbucks just around the corner. What would you like?” I skipped my normal complicated flavored coffee preference, and just asked for regular coffee with cream and sugar, ignoring the vague feeling of guilt as I made my request, thinking I should probably just ask her to point me toward the Starbucks instead.  

While she was gone, we were introduced to a few more members of the committee who’d brought us to campus, and we received more enthusiastic and welcoming responses, and I started to shake off the stress of our journey and relax into performance mode. Just as I was starting to feel like the Featured Performer that I was, the student appeared with our coffees.

Someone fetched me coffee. ME! 

Yeah, see I’m kind of a big deal.

Among naive college students at least.

But I’ll take it!

 

Update on my crazy May 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized,Working Out — Meredith @ 4:24 pm

I went to the gym in my building yesterday and I saw the guy who’d been so judgemental of my treadmill dancing. I’ve seen him in the lobby a few times since then, but this was the first time I’ve seen him back in the gym. Now, to be fair, I should say that he was doing much better on the treadmill than he did last time. He was running when I walked in, and was still running when I came out of the locker room and got on my own treadmill. Despite my refusal to feel embarrassed last time, this time I was relieved that I was only planning to run, AND that due to some serious training over the last month, knew I could put on a good showing with a good long treadmill run. So off I went. Except I have a slight knee injury that turned out to be more of a hinderance to running than I’d anticipated and I was struggling after less than 3 minutes, and I thought “NO. He’s going to think I’m weak.” So I pushed through and made it to 7 minutes before I gave in to the pain. By that time he’d left the treadmill and was doing something somewhere behind me in the gym. The emotion I felt as I cooled down? Smug. Why? Because I’m the crazy one.

After a cool down walk of a couple minutes I decided to switch to the elliptical.  As I stepped off the treadmill I saw him on a weight machine facing the elliptical and as I moved gracefully off the treadmill and across the floor toward the machines I smiled to myself thinking  “SEE? I can be coordinated and smooth, just because last time -” and then as I stepped onto the platform below the pedal things, I randomly started to lose my balance.  I was raising my left foot to put on a pedal thing, evidently shifted my center of gravity and started slowly, yet inexorably leaning to the right on my right leg, left extended to the left. I had my water bottle and iPod in my left hand and so reached out to steady myself with my right hand on the arm of the elliptical, which of course moved pushing me further off-balance. For one, long, awful moment, I actually thought I was going to fall, BEFORE actually getting on the stupid elliptical. But I recovered, and in truth the whole incident was probably less than 10 seconds, but it felt like an hour, and I could feel him watching me, and judging me the whole time.

So I’m on the elliptical and I’m going fast and I’m feeling smug, and I’m watching him out of the corner of my eye and I realize I’m thinking of him as my nemesis. In fact, those are the actual, and only, words that scrolled across my brain, from where, I have no idea. And then I was like “Wait, why is he my nemesis?”  Oh right, because I’m the crazy one.

I had no proof, no real reason to believe that he remembered me, or if he did remember me, that he cared at all, or had paid any attention to me since I’d been in the gym. And yet… I was pretty sure he did remember, that he cared a lot, and that he’d been paying attention to nothing but me since I’d been in the gym. And that he was judging me, just as he’d done that first day.  And that he was feeling superior to me because he’d run longer and faster on the treadmill than I had. I was pretty convinced that was all true.

He got up from his weight machine at that moment and walked to the thing that dispenses the anti-bacterial wipes and started pulling some out. Now, here’s my philosophy on using those things: it’s a waste of time. That’s why god created soap and water – both of which I use liberally as soon as I’m done in the gym. I really don’t think that wiping down the equipment before, or after, I use it makes that much of a difference. I do it at my regular gym because it’s a very strong culture and people look at you like you’re spreading plague if you don’t wipe down the machines. But at the office gym? I’m just not doing it. And as he stood there, 3 feet from me, slowly pulling wipes out of the big container drilled into the wall, I felt judgement of my position in every move of his hands. And on some level I realized that I believed he was judging me on a position that a) he doesn’t know I have and b) other people would judge me for too. And yet I had no doubt that he WAS judging me. After all, he’s my nemesis. That’s what they do. (Isn’t it?) 

As he came back to throw away his used wipes I saw that he had a towel around his neck and another towel draped over his head and his long, nasty, stringy, hair. “WHAT a FREAK!” I thought to myself. “THIS GUY is judging ME?! Whatever.” And, feeling once again to have gained the upper hand,  I felt better.

I’m so bringing the crazy.

 

Discount April 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meredith @ 4:24 pm

I went to Chipotle for lunch today and I got a Burrito Bol, which costs $6 and some odd cents. I gave the cashier my card and he took it and then hit a button on the cash register, then a receipt printed and then he started speaking Spanish to a co-worker and gesturing with my card at the cash register. I wondered briefly if the card had been rejected, but I quickly got the feeling that whatever the issue was it didn’t have anything to do with me. The cashier explained something to the co-worker, gesturing with my card and the co-workers body language made me believe that what he was saying was something like “oh well. Figure it out.” The cashier looks up at me and says “I hit the cash button.” I, unsure what that meant for me, said “ok.” More rapid fire Spanish is exchanged, co-worker’s (manager?) attitude appears to be unchanged, but the cashier is getting increasingly anxious. He says to me “Do you have any cash at all?” I said “No, I don’t have any.” More rapid fire Spanish exchanged and more gesturing with my card. The manager says to me “How much cash do you have? Do you have any?” I realize I probably did have a couple of dollars and I look and I have 5  $1 bills in my wallet. I say “I only have $5,” and they both say “That’s great!” And the cashier reaches out to take the money. I said “But, its…” and they both said “That’s fine. Don’t worry. Thank you.” And the cashier put the bills in the drawer and turned his attention to the person behind me and the manager walked away. I hesitated for another moment wondering what that’s going to do to their drawer count at the end of the shift, and wondering if the cashier will have to make up the difference out of his pocket.

But I decide that if they don’t care I shouldn’t care. So I leave and as I walk into the parking lot it occurs to me that a could probably have come up with at least another dollar if not  the full dollar and change I needed from the change in my wallet. And I stop and consider going back in and giving him the change, but then after a minute decide again, that if they don’t care I shouldn’t care.  But I felt a little bit guilty during the drive back to my office. But then I started to wonder, a) why he didn’t just void the transaction and re-ring it as credit, b) if he does have to make up the difference if that’s fair b/c it was his fault for not knowing how to fix the mistake  c)if its weird that I still felt guilty that I didn’t go back in and give him $1 and change in change….

 

Too Nice or Creepy Crazy? April 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meredith @ 4:09 pm

This happened a few months ago, but I still bare the emotional scars, and its an experience worth cataloging I think.

I went to this ceremony to pick up a grant award for an organization for which I’m a board member. It was one of these awful, cookies and juice on a table while a bunch of people who work for non-profits mill around trying to make small talk. I hate these events. Hate them. I was standing off to the side, sending the universal “dont’ talk to me signal”, ie. looking at my blackberry, when a woman about my age comes up behind me and says “You’re here alone too?” My anti-interaction stance immediately melted and we began a very pleasant conversation. We quickly figured out our organizations live in the same building and we knew some of the same people.  By the time the award ceremony started I was much less negative about the whole thing. After the checks had been given out my new friend introduced me to another woman who was also very nice and three of us were having a lovely conversation until someone announced that they wanted to take a picture of everyone with their checks. By unspoken agreement we all ignored the announcement.  BUT, we were all holding our checks in plain sight and so were immediately targeted by the over enthusiastic organizer and dragged over to the picture area.

I could have made a break for it. I could have just turned around and went out the door and no one would have said anything. That knowledge haunts me.  

I was quickly separated from my two new friends, and found myself standing in front of people already lined up for the picture. I looked over my left shoulder and then my right shoulder, and deciding everyone was taller than me I would not have to squat. Then, out of nowhere , this arm clamps around my waist and I feel myself yanked backward against a round and squishy object and a voice is in my right ear is saying “Just bend a bit, baby. Just bend a bit.” I was momentarily over come with pure white-hot panic. I like my personal space. I especially like my personal space when I’m surrounded by strangers. Fighting for calm I started to take stock of my situation and realized that I was standing in front of a small, apple shaped woman I remembered seeing during the ceremony. She was right behind me and only as tall as my shoulder blades, so I’d missed her during my check to see if I was blocking anyone. But instead of telling me to move, she grabbed me in a vice grip and pulled me back to bend around her generous frame. I tried to move but her grip on my waist just got tighter and it took every ounce of restraint and social grace I possessed not to start screaming like a lunatic.

“Just bend a bit baby,” she said again. So I did. I bent my knees, and I bent my back to mold around her form and she shoved her chin onto my shoulder so her face was even with mine and the photographer took the picture. After a few shots the photographer indicated we were free to disburse and I started to stand, and her grip started to release, and then the photographer decided he wanted another, and without missing a beat, her arm clamped down on my waist and she pulling me back into position. Thoroughly beaten now, I went with it, and tried to put a normal smile on my face, knowing in the earlier pictures I probably had a look of shock mingled with horror on my face.

This time when the photographer cleared us, I took off like a shot and didn’t look back until I was outside of the building on the way to my car. 

The post script on this story is that a few weeks later, one of my friends emailed me to say they’d liked the picture of me in their neighborhood paper. When I asked if I looked horrified he said “well, it looks like you’re being molested by a small woman and trying to make the best of it.”

Indeed.

 

 
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