Cleanliness – a highly overrated virtue

“Please clean up after yourself,” I told Older Son the other day.  Older Son did not have to work that day and had gotten up to cook himself a big breakfast after I had just cleaned up the kitchen.  “The cleaning ladies are coming today.”

“Mom, you do realize how strange that sounds?” Older Son replied. “Clean up after yourself because the cleaning ladies are coming?”

Older Son has this way of twisting everything I say to make me sound illogical. I don’t need his help. I can sound illogical all by myself.

“I don’t pay them to do dishes,” I informed him. “And they can’t clean the kitchen sink if your dirty dishes are in it.” This is no reflection on Older Son’s slovenliness (well, yeah, it really is), but I don’t think he has discovered there is a perfectly functioning dishwasher right next to the sink.  If, by some chance he has noticed, he lacks the ability to figure out how to load it with dirty dishes. He still thinks the dish-washing fairy miraculously washes and puts away all the dirty dishes he leaves in the sink—as well as collecting the dirty dishes from the various places in the house where he stashes them when he is finished with them. You don’t want to know where I have found dirty dishes.

But I suppose there is some logic in his thinking that pre-cleaning before the cleaning ladies come to clean the house is . . . well, illogical. I will concede he has a point. In my defense, I don’t actually clean before they come, except on those occasions when I do clean before they come. Sometimes things are just so bad I can’t have the cleaning ladies judging me (or turning me in to the Department of Health). But mostly what I do is more along the lines of removing shoes from the dining room table, wiping up the cat hairballs from the window sill, and de-cluttering the dresser so the cleaning ladies  can find the surface to dust it. Not to mention playing “hunt down the dirty dishes.” And picking up every piece of dirty clothing that has been discarded on every piece of furniture and littering the floors of the bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, hallway, living room, dining room, and every other conceivable space except the extra-large clothes hamper in the laundry room, which is predictably empty.

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When Younger Son was little, I made him pick up his toys once a week so the cleaning ladies could find the floor. (Hah, who am I kidding? I picked up the toys after my nagging fell on deaf ears!) The toys, which were supposed to be in the play room, never seemed to stay in the play room. They were always strewn all over the house. Younger Son was always most put out by this weekly ritual, as he was “still playing with each of the nine million toys” littering the floor and as soon as the cleaning ladies left, he would ask, “Can I make a mess, now?”

Someday, Younger Son will move out, and Older Son will move out and stay moved out, and I can have a neat, clutter free, organized house. Oh wait. Hubby still lives here. Never mind.

PRESS ONE

I sure do miss the good old days when you called a business on the phone and actually talked to a real live person.  Now a simple transaction takes you through twenty different menus and wastes precious minutes of your time while you try to get to the “right” place.  Assuming, of course, there is a right place.  And how come every time I call the same business I have to listen closely because the menu options have changed?  Why do they keep changing the menus?  Personally, I think that’s just a ruse to force the hapless caller  to listen to the whole blasted list that goes on forever.  The people in these offices must derive a perverse sense of pleasure from constantly changing (or making us think they changed) the menu options.   I can just hear them now.  “Let’s change ‘billing’ from option one to option three next week.  Then those callers who try to bypass the system by pressing ‘one’ will end up in ‘hours of operation’ and have to start all over again.  We’ll switch it back the following week. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!”

And I really hate it when I’ve gone through all the options and none of them fit!  Especially when there is no option to hold for an operator.   Not too long ago I went around the circle that went nowhere trying to get an answer from the Department of Professional Regulation.   (Seriously, why didn’t I just stick an ice pick in my eye?  It would have been less painful!  I mean, after all, I knew this was a government office I was trying to contact!)  After several long minutes of options that had nothing to do with my question, I was disconnected.  They hung up on me!  I called back.  In the beginning of the message  I was referred to their website, which also hadn’t answered my question in the first place and referred me to the number I had just called.  Ah, government bureaucracy at its finest!

Occasionally, I get lucky and punch in an option that sounds like I am finally getting somewhere, only to be told that the person I want to speak with is “away from his or her desk at the moment.”  Or the hour, or the day, week, or on a two-month long sabbatical in the Himalayas.  In other words, there is not a snowball’s chance in a very hot place that I will ever receive a phone call from said person, even if I do leave my name, phone number, and reason for my call.  I believe the voicemail instantly self-destructs as soon as I leave my information.  Let’s be honest here—at any time in history has the person you are trying to connect with ever once answered the phone?  No, of course not!  Why would they want to be bothered with actually talking to you?  Hence, they are always “away from their desk at the moment.”  Assuming they even have a desk.

The one I particularly dislike is the recording that assures me, “Your call is very important to us.  Please stay on the line.”  If my call was that important to them, they would hire more than one representative in a basement somewhere in India who doesn’t speak English!  They can’t fool me.  I know my call is not very important to them!  They probably wish I would give up after an hour of waiting on the phone and just go away.  But I’ll show them!  I can play solitaire on my computer while on “hold” for an entire afternoon.

Every once in a blue moon a real person answers and I am so shocked I get tongue-tied.  So the real person probably thinks I’m a robocall and hangs up.   Sigh.  Oh for the good old days when I could just call and get a busy signal!  Press one if you agree.  Press two if you disagree.  Press three if you don’t care.  Press four if you gave up before finishing this blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRESS ONE

By Ellen Fannon

I sure do miss the good old days when you called a business on the phone and actually talked to a real live person.  Now a simple transaction takes you through twenty different menus and wastes precious minutes of your time while you try to get to the “right” place.  Assuming, of course, there is a right place.  And why should I have to press one for English?  And how come every time I call the same business I have to listen closely because the menu options have changed?  Why do they keep changing the menus?  Personally, I think that’s just a ruse to force the hapless caller  to listen to the whole blasted list that goes on forever.  The people in these offices must derive a perverse sense of pleasure from constantly changing (or making us think they changed) the menu options.   I can just hear them now.  “Let’s change ‘billing’ from option one to option three next week.  Then those callers who try to bypass the system by pressing ‘one’ will end up in ‘hours of operation’ and have to start all over again.  We’ll switch it back the following week. Bwahahaha!”

And I really hate it when I’ve gone through all the options and none of them fit!  Especially when there is no option to hold for an operator.   Not too long ago I went around the circle that went nowhere trying to get an answer from the Department of Professional Regulation.   (Seriously, why didn’t I just stick an ice pick in my eye?  It would have been less painful!  I mean, after all, I knew this was a government office I was trying to contact!)  After several long minutes of options that had nothing to do with my question, I was disconnected.  They hung up on me!  I called back.  In the beginning of the message  I was referred to their website, which also hadn’t answered my question in the first place and referred me to the number I had just called.  Ah, government bureaucracy at its finest!

Occasionally, I get lucky and punch in an option that sounds like I am finally getting somewhere, only to be told that the person I want to speak with is “away from his or her desk at the moment.”  (Or the hour, or the day, week, or on a two-month long sabbatical in the Himalayas).  In other words, there is not a snowball’s chance in a very hot place that I will ever receive a phone call from said person, even if I do leave my name, phone number, and reason for my call.  I believe the voicemail instantly self-destructs as soon as I leave my information.  Let’s be honest here—at any time in history has the person you are trying to connect with ever once answered the phone?  No, of course not!  Why would they want to be bothered with actually talking to you?  Hence, they are always “away from their desk at the moment.”  Assuming they even have a desk to start with.

The one I particularly dislike is the recording that assures me, “Your call is very important to us.  Please stay on the line.”  If my call was that important to them, they would hire more than one representative in a basement somewhere in India who doesn’t speak English!  They can’t fool me.  I know my call is not very important to them!  They probably wish I would give up after an hour of waiting on the phone and just go away.  But I’ll show them!  I can play solitaire on my computer while on “hold” for an entire afternoon.

Every once in a blue moon a real person answers and I am so shocked I get tongue-tied.  So the real person probably thinks I’m a robocall and hangs up.   Sigh.  Oh for the good old days when I could just call and get a busy signal!  Press one if you agree.  Press two if you disagree.  Press three if you don’t care.  Press four if you gave up before finishing this blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAKE A SEAT AND FILL OUT THESE 50 FORMS

By Ellen Fannon

I’m getting to that age where my social life revolves around my doctors’ visits.  I have another appointment next week at a clinic where I have been seen twice before in the past, but somehow they have no record of my visits.  So I have to arrive a half hour early to fill out paperwork again.  I wouldn’t mind so much if I thought anybody actually LOOKED at the paperwork (other than proof of insurance, which always gets first priority), but I seriously have my doubts about the rest.

For example, why do they hand you a clipboard with fifty forms to fill out and on ALL of them you have to put your address?  Couldn’t the address just be transferred over from the first form?  After all, it doesn’t change between form one and form forty-nine.  And your birthdate.  THAT doesn’t change either, unless of course you are so embarrassed at writing that incredibly ancient year over and over again that you decide to fudge a little toward the end.  Sex could possibly change depending on whether the patient feels like a female on forms one through thirty, then feels more like a male from thirty-one on.  In this day and age, that’s perfectly acceptable, although it could make for difficulties at the OB/GYN appointment.  But what does my grandmother’s maiden name have to do with my back pain?  Or  my marital status?

Then there are all these questions about your medical history.  Now being a medical professional, I understand the importance of medical history, but is it really relevant that I had pink eye in 1982?  Or motion sickness in a small airplane ten years ago?  There are pages and pages of every conceivable condition ranging from near-sightedness to scurvy.  Family history is, of course, pertinent.  But does my third cousin’s twice removed gall bladder surgery really apply all that much to my situation?  (Twice removed cousin, not twice removed gallbladder.) By the time I finish up with form fifty, I need to add “writer’s cramp” to the list.

As I finally turn in all the paper work and make it back to an exam room, I can tell nobody looked at any of the forms I so painstakingly filled out because the first question from the health provider is “What are we seeing you for today?”  I am always tempted to reply in a snarky tone that if the provider had taken two minutes to look at my paperwork, he would KNOW what I was there for, as the problem was listed on at least twenty-eight forms.  But of course I am much too polite to say that.  Plus starting off the visit with a snarky tone might get the PA (as you never see an actual DOCTOR until visit nineteen) mad at me, which I really don’t want to do, as he might put me through unnecessary painful and expensive tests.  So I nicely answer the question, and from the direction the rest of the exam takes, I can tell he is not the least bit interested in my case of pinkeye in 1982. In order to be thorough, I kind of want to bring the pinkeye to his attention, but I don’t want to be labeled as a high maintenance patient who can’t keep her mind on relevant issues.

I am already dreading filling out those forms.  However, I’m thinking I might have a little fun, as well as testing the staff to see if they actually DO look at them.  I believe on form thirty-six, under “other” condition, I’m going to write in Ebola.  Or Leprosy.  Or Bubonic Plague.  Or perhaps “all of the above.”  Hee hee!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HELP! I’VE FALLEN

By Ellen Fannon

As I get older, there are a number of things I have begun to worry about which seemed way too far off in the future to concern myself with in younger years.  Of course when I was younger, I was never going to reach “old age”—although the alternative isn’t so appealing, either—and even if I did, I was going to be one of those cool old ladies who takes up rock climbing or white water rafting at the age of ninety.  But there is one thing I have prayed I would never become and that is one of those frail old people who falls all the time. That, along with about five hundred other things about aging, is one of my worst nightmares.

To that end, I try to stay active, exercise as much as my schedule will allow, and take calcium supplements and medication for my aging, osteoporotic bones.  So it was with a sense of dismay that I found myself flat on the floor the other day, like one of those old ladies in the commercials groaning, “Help!  I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”  Actually, I didn’t say those words.  I just lay on the floor and groaned.

What precipitated my fall was the need to return a pair of scissors to the desk drawer.  It seems I’m the only one in the house who is capable of returning anything to its proper place, and if I wanted to see those scissors in the future, it would be up to me to return them to where I could find them again.  I picked up said scissors—I don’t remember which hand they were in or which way they were pointed, but as I’m generally a careful person, they were probably pointed correctly.  As I started across the bedroom, the evil cord from the electric blanket on our bed reached out and grabbed my right foot.  The next thing I knew, I had face-planted on the hardwood floor and stabbed myself in the left ear with the scissors.  I wasn’t even running with scissors!  I knew it had to be bad since the sound of my body slamming into the floor actually roused my twelve year old son away from his Wii game to come see what happened.

“Are you all right?” he in fact asked. There might have even been the tiniest tinge of concern in his voice.  However, it was probably more geared toward hoping I said I was perfectly fine so he could get back to his game.

“No,” I panted.  “Look and see if my ear is bleeding.”  Having had extensive experience with cut ears in my animal patients, I know they bleed like stuck pigs.  I could just visualize a scene that resembled something out of a hacker movie.  If so, I was done for, as I can’t stand the sight of human blood, especially mine.  (I know, I know, I treat grisly animal emergencies and do surgeries for a living. Human blood is different, trust me).  As it was, I was feeling rather queasy from having the wind knocked out of me, shearing the skin off the side of my left hand, and the pain of stabbing myself in the ear.  The only good thing in this whole episode was the pullout shelves on the desk were shoved in, as my head would have made kindling out of them on the way down.  As it was, my head missed the desk by about an inch.

Two seconds later, my husband called to tell me he was on his way home from work.

“Answer the phone,” I instructed my clueless son, who stood there staring at me, letting the phone ring.

He answered and told his father I couldn’t come to the phone because I was lying on the floor where I fell.  Of course my husband immediately demanded to talk to me, so I panted and gasped out the whole story to him.

“Is your ear bleeding?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I whined.  “I’m afraid to look at it.”  Or even touch it, for that matter. For all I knew, my whole ear was lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

“Well get something and—”

“Just come home!” I cut him off and disconnected.

Somehow, by the time he got home, I had made it off the floor and onto the bed.  My son was back playing Wii.  The sensation that I was going to faint had pretty much gone away, and my face was no longer ashen and covered in cold sweat.  Although I felt beat up, I realized I wasn’t seriously hurt.

“Well, I’ve done it,” I complained to my husband.  “I’m now officially one of those old people who falls.  At least I didn’t break my hip.”

“You didn’t fall,” he pointed out.  “You tripped.  There’s a difference.”

“You’re right!”  My attitude brightened.  “I’m not old.  I’m just a klutz!”

 

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

By Ellen Fannon

 

I am all for equal opportunity for women.  After all, I am one.  I am woman, hear me roar, and all that.  Having established that, I do have to say there is still one area in a man’s world where I truly believe no woman should dare to venture.  What might that area be, you ask?  Killing bugs.  Killing bugs is definitely not a job for a woman.  I pride myself on being a reasonably independent, self-sufficient, not easily rattled woman, but let a flying palmetto bug come after me and I scream like a bad actress in a b-horror movie.   Not only do I scream, but I also do the “icky-icky” dance and run for cover.  If my husband is around, he will usually come running to find out if I have just cut off my finger while chopping vegetables or been hacked by an ax murderer who came through the front door he failed to lock.  Nope, something much worse.

“What?” he’ll demand, upon arriving to slay whatever dragon accosted me.

“A bug!” I’ll reply in a quivering voice, bordering on hysteria.

At this he will roll his eyes, sigh, and ask, “Where?”

I’ll point in the general vicinity of the offending insect while hovering behind him for protection.

“I don’t like bugs any better than you do,” he’ll mutter.

“Yeah, but you’re a man.  It’s your job to kill the bugs.” At least I think that’s a rule. If not, it should be.

He will usually tough it out, although if the thing comes after him, all bets may be off.  There may be a little bit of male shrieking, which is not pretty.  But generally, he will manage to dispatch the terrorizing creature to the great septic tank in the sky with a shoe or rolled up newspaper or other handy bug-killing implement.

Me, I can’t step on a bug or hit it with a shoe.  First, it requires I get closer to the creature than I am comfortable being (not that there is any distance from a bug with which I am comfortable), and second, I can’t stand the crunching sound their little chitinous exoskeletons make when squashed.  I generally can’t swat them off a wall, either, as I usually miss and just make them more angry and more determined to “get” me.  Or they crawl into an inaccessible place and bide their time until I let down my guard.

So what, you may ask, do I do when confronted by a bug when my husband is not around.  That’s easy.  I spray it.  I can stand back from a safe distance and saturate half a room with toxic chemicals in the hope of the spray getting somewhere in the generally vicinity of the bug. It’s kind of like dropping a bomb on an entire city with the goal of wiping out one enemy without actually having to go hand-to-hand combat.  What if I don’t have bug spray?  It doesn’t matter.  I spray it with something—Windex, 409, oven cleaner, Endust—whatever.  Surely something in one of those products will kill it.  Plus, while I’m spraying, I can still scream and do the “icky-icky” dance, which, as we all know, is a requirement of any bug-female confrontation.

So, all you men out there, man up and rescue us swooning females from the terrifying insect population.  Otherwise, I warn you, I have Lysol Multi-Purpose cleaner and I’m not afraid to use it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BLACK THUMB

By Ellen Fannon

All around me I am starting to see signs of spring.  Pink buds are showing up on my azaleas. The vines on my fence are producing a crop of pretty little yellow flowers and there is a tree in my backyard covered with beautiful purple blossoms.  I don’t know what the tree or the vines are, as I tend to plant things and then never remember what kind of foliage I have.  That’s because the items I plant are generally not around long enough for me to get attached to them.  Put another way, I don’t have a green thumb.  What I have is more along the lines of a black thumb.  However, that doesn’t stop me from trying.

Every year I make my annual pilgrimage to the garden center—usually Lowes—where I methodically choose hundreds of dollars’ worth of vegetation to kill.  I am somewhat surprised nobody recognizes me as the plant-murderess and throws me out.  Then again, the more plants I murder, the more money I spend.  I go up and down each aisle looking for something that thrives on bad soil and neglect.  Sure, I have good intentions when I start out, but somewhere along the line my plants don’t get fed or watered unless it rains. Add to that the fact I really don’t know what I’m doing, like the time I planted all the beautiful sun-loving plants in the shade.

I look at the plants with the festive blooms.  Nope, planted them a few years ago and they all died within two weeks.  Ooh, that one looks pretty.  No, wait, I’ve done that one, too.  By now I can recognize just about everything that did not do well in my hands, which leaves me with little to choose from.  Impatiens are fairly indestructible except when the dog decides to do her business in the flower bed and has to dig to China first.  That doesn’t count as my fault.  I even brought in the hanging pot of begonias the first two times the temperature dipped into the thirties this year and I managed to keep the cats from eating them.  Unfortunately, on the third cold night I forgot, so there they sit on my porch, their droopy brown bodies a reminder of my failure.  My husband says maybe they will resurrect, but I’m not hopeful.

I really should accept my limitations and give up.  But all I know is I want a beautiful garden.  Hiring an expert to help didn’t do any good.  Regardless of explaining (twice) to two different lawn care services that I wanted them to take over and create a colorful masterpiece in my yard, all I got was someone who mowed the thriving weeds twice a month.  So, as February turns into March and the sky is robin’s egg blue with wispy white clouds, the temperature is a balmy 72 degrees, and new plant life is everywhere (except my yard), I feel the draw to the garden store like a moth to the flame.  I can’t fight it.  The pull is just too strong—because I just know this time my efforts to plant and maintain a lovely flower garden will succeed.  You do know the definition of insanity, right?  Something about doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.  But this time . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silence is not always golden

Siri doesn’t like me.  I don’t know why.  I’ve never done anything to her that I know of.  But she won’t talk to me.  She talks to everyone else, but not to me.  I once asked her to help me find a restaurant in Destin.  I’m not sure where she was trying to send me, but it was going to take 23 hours and 45 minutes to get there.  She still wasn’t speaking to me, only sending me written instructions to turn in the opposite direction from where I knew I needed to go.  Finally, in the middle of my dinner meeting, she piped up and said, “Turn left at the next intersection.” That was the first and last time she ever talked to me.

Now I know I shouldn’t take it personally, since Siri is electronic technology and not a real person.  And it just follows that since all other electronic technology hates me, Siri should, too.  But it really hurts my feelings when she won’t talk to me.

I just wonder if perhaps she holds a grudge from several years ago when a friend of mine got a Smart phone when they first came out, and a bunch of us were asking Siri questions to see what she would say.  I was curious to see what she would do if someone insulted her.  So my friend said, “Siri, you’re stupid.”  I wasn’t even the one who disrespected her.  Siri replied, in what I would describe as an electronically-wounded voice, “I am only trying to help you.”  It was pitiful, really. But surely she doesn’t still remember that incident, does she?  I’m sure other people have said a lot worse to her.

In fact, do you know there are actually internet sites which tell people the funniest things to say to Siri to elicit a hilarious response?  You can ask her to tell you a joke, a riddle, or a story.  You can make her sing. There is even a site that instructs you in how to make Siri curse like a sailor, and I found one site with creepy questions to ask Siri. (I didn’t go to those sites, so I can’t elaborate on the techniques.) In fact I gave up after scrolling through several pages of ways to mess with Siri’s psyche—although not being human, I’m not sure she has a psyche. Apparently, there are a lot of bored people out there who have way too much time on their hands, and who are a lot more deviant in dealing with a poor electronic assistant than I would ever think of being. So why does Siri single me out for the silent treatment?

I’ve seen a lot of advertisements lately for Alexa.  But there is no way I’m going to think about purchasing her. Given my luck with all things electronic, I’m sure  Alexa would sabotage everything I ask her to do, such as playing country-western music when I asked for classical, adding the most expensive items to my grocery list, and leaving lights on when nobody is home, just to run up my electricity bill.  Nope, I may not be smart enough to operate a smart phone, but I’m not dumb enough to fall for Alexa’s shenanigans. Besides, Siri has probably told her about me.

 

 

Careful, or you’ll wind up in my blog!

This COVID pandemic has certainly brought out the best and the worst in people. I’m sure we all have horror and humor stories of bizarre human behavior seen during these past few weeks, toilet paper hoarding aside. Just a couple weeks ago, after repeated warnings of social distancing, a woman I didn’t even know burst into my personal bubble and wanted to embrace me. When I politely pointed out that personal contact was discouraged in the facility where we were, she replied, “Oh, I’m not worried. I’m a hugger.”

Well. Good for her. Generally I’m a hugger, too, but not these past few weeks. And maybe she wasn’t worried for herself, but I was a little disturbed by the fact she was willing to put other people at risk. At the very least, she might worry about them. Who knew where she had been or what she had been exposed to? There were elderly people and immuno-compromised people in our midst.

I relayed this story to my husband. “I should have told her, ‘careful, or you’ll wind up in my blog,’ “ I said.

“What bone-headed thing did I do now?” my husband sighed. As usual, he wasn’t totally listening to me and failed to grasp the total gist of what I was relating.

This is why I often talk to myself. I’m not crazy, it’s just that I’m frequently the only one who listens to me. If only other people would realize this and stop butting in on my private conversations.

“Nothing. I wasn’t even talking about you. Why do you always think everything is about you?” I replied. “Besides, I haven’t written anything about you for a while now.”

“Good. That means I haven’t done something stupid lately.”

“Nothing I’ve written about, anyway,” I pointed out. “No, I’m talking about the numerous other people who provide fodder for my blog. I sometimes feel I should give people fair warning before they end up immortalized in my eloquent and less-than-flattering words for all the world (or all twelve of my followers) to see. ‘Careful, or you’ll wind up in my blog’ is going to be my new mantra to people to stop acting like nig-nogs and not to annoy me.” Plus I can only envision the reaction those words might evoke.

Maybe I need to make up little cards to hand out to people who are completely clueless as to how exasperating they are. After all, winding up as subject material for my blogs is generally not to be taken as a compliment. My family can vouch for this through experience. Trust me, people don’t want to get on my bad side. I have a little problem with passive-aggressiveness. I also have a little problem with dim-witted people. I am seldom gutsy enough for a head-on confrontation with someone who is behaving like the south end of a north facing donkey. But I can write! Isn’t there an old expression, “the pen is mightier than the sword?” Or in my case, the keyboard. Not that anything is likely to change with the unwitting subject of my blog—as I doubt they even read my blog, or if they do, they would never recognize themselves—but it makes me feel better.

So, if I offer you my card, beware! Otherwise, you may end up as the subject of my blog.

~ Pin for Later ~

 

 

 

Thank you for serving your country – you have one hour!

My macaw loves to play in paper grocery bags.  The commissary is the only place I know of which still carries paper grocery sacks.  But due to the limited and inconvenient hours allotted for retirees to shop at the commissary since the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been running low.

A few weeks ago, I dragged my exhausted, elderly body out of bed on a Saturday morning in order to go to the commissary from 9:00-10:00 am, the one measly hour given to us old people over 65, only to be met at the door with the news that the “old people hour” had been changed to 11:00-12:00. 9:00 – 11:00 was now for active duty and their families only. What the heck? I suppose I should have been checking the commissary website every hour so I would be informed of seemingly arbitrary and senseless time changes for the elderly and feeble to shop. I mean, duh, did the store plan to run all the younger shoppers out at 10:59 to let the geezers in?  I swallowed my anger and drove to Walmart, where, at least, if they didn’t have paper bags, they didn’t discriminate against veterans who had served their country for twenty-plus years.

Of course, this is government I am talking about. As everybody knows, common sense has nothing to do with government decisions, such as, why only active duty and their dependents can shop during the hours when—oh, hey—most active duty and their dependents are at work!  Hence, the empty parking lot at the commissary during the day. We retirees can come in on weekdays with everyone else only during the dinner hour from 5:00-7:00, after the shelves are empty, and we really special retirees over 65 get the whole store to ourselves (in addition to  all the active duty and their dependents who managed to enter between 9:00 and 10:59) from 11:00-12:00 on Saturday! Nothing says “thank you for serving your country” like restricting retired military from obtaining necessary supplies, such as food and toilet paper.

Against my better judgment, I decided to make the sacrifice for my macaw and go to the commissary last Saturday, between 11:00 and 12:00.  Big mistake. The line of old people to get into the store stretched all the way back to the BX, and it took over twenty minutes to make my way to the commissary door, where the commissary gestapo regulated the geezer flow entering the store. I’m not sure how they planned to regulate us hundreds of codgers once we finally made it inside, but obviously codger control didn’t extend that far.  I had to wonder about the wisdom of forcing the most vulnerable people in society, many of whom were propped up on canes, to wait in a long line under the hot sun in order to pack them into the store like sardines. As I finally reached sight of the entrance, I could hear the gestapo barking at the aged crowd, “YOU’RE NOT MAINTAINING SOCIAL DISTANCE!  STAY SIX FEET APART!” Oh sure, like six feet apart was even possible when the geezer line snaked practically to the west gate.

Once inside, the concept of six feet apart was laughable, with slow-moving codgers clogging every aisle.  I spent the next hour wrangling my way through the geezer maze, and gratefully headed for the check-out line.  I stopped cold (pun intended), when I realized the check-out line backed up into frozen foods. I should have dragged my elderly husband and parked him in line while I shopped. It took another twenty minutes to get to the check-out station, during which my ice-cream did not get any colder.  I laid my military ID and coupons on the conveyor belt behind the bar separating my order from the customer in front of me, and started to unload my cart.

“Ma’am,” sniped the checker. “You have to hold on to your ID and coupons.”

Oh, sure, I could do that with one hand and unload my cart with the other. Not. As the cashier finished up with the person ahead of me, I laid everything on the raised platform next to the scanner.  “Ma’am,” came the irritated voice of the checker, again, “you have to hold up your ID so I can scan it.”

Oh, give me a break.  The guy was wearing gloves and touching everything else around him—all my purchases, coupons, money from the cash register, his mask . . .  But I dutifully held up my card so he didn’t have to touch my germy card with his protected hands.

By this time, my back was aching from waiting for almost 45 minutes in line, as well as an hour of pushing a loaded buggy through the codger labyrinth. I pointed out to the guy that I had several bags of kitty litter on the bottom of my cart.

“Well, you’re going to have to hold one up for me to scan,” he snapped.

Well, gee, the whole purpose of me pointing out these heavy bags to you was so I didn’t have to heft them up onto the counter. How about you trotting around to my cart with your scanner, like every other nice cashier does, or even handing me the blasted scanner so I don’t have to lift heavy bags and further aggravate my already screaming back? How about you performing a little customer service for your feeble-bodied clients who make your paycheck possible?

I struggled to raise a bag for him to scan, and moved on, thinking, next time I just won’t call them to his attention.  But no, that would be stealing, and despite all my faults, dishonesty isn’t one of them.

After that ordeal, I vowed that not even for the sake of my macaw, will I patronize the commissary again until this COVID craziness is over. Maybe not even then. Since then, I have learned that Publix will provide paper bags if you ask. Woo-hoo!  I’ve always been addicted to BOGO’s!  And I’ve heard that Publix is where shopping is a pleasure. At this point, I don’t care what it costs. I want some pleasure!

  ~Pin for Later~