Don’t Change Me

The other day, I made a few simple purchases at a local shopping place which shall remain un-named.  You can probably figure it out, however, if I tell you it is a big chain store around which every town revolves.  I hate to shop there, but don’t have any other alternatives, as this store has run all the other businesses in town out of business.  Anyway, I stood in line in one of the three open registers (out of 25) with a small crowd in front of and behind me.  I finally made it to the cashier and handed her my money.  This is where things got difficult.  Although up to this point she had moved at the speed of a hibernating tortoise, suddenly, without warning, she stacked my receipt, bills, and a mound of coins into my left hand faster than I could blink, and shoved my bag into my right hand.  Then she started scanning the items from the person behind me.

What was I supposed to do?  I knew I needed to move out of the way, but I stood helpless with a pile of change in one hand and my bagged purchases in the other.  If I tried to separate the coins from the bills with the hand holding my bag, the bag (or my purse) would knock into my hand balancing all the change and cause me to drop coins everywhere.  Then I would be down on my hands and knees trying to catch the rolling coins while the customer behind me was forced to step over me.  Or, with my luck, he would be texting and trip over me, causing severe bodily harm to us both. Besides that, I still held my wallet in my right hand, so I didn’t exactly have free fingers. I suppose I could have laid my  bag down on the counter while I dealt with putting my change into my wallet, but then I would still be in the way of the person behind me.  Plus, knowing myself all too well, I would have walked off and left my bag on the counter.  But even without the bag in my right hand, it’s still hard to sort through the coins and bills.  If I put all the coins in my right hand and leave the bills and receipt in my left, I’m not dexterous enough to open my wallet, unzip the coin pouch and deposit the coins with two occupied hands.  I guess I could have just dumped everything into my purse or shoved it all in my pocket to be sorted out later so I could move quickly out of the way.  However, again, knowing myself, the sorting out would never come.

I really don’t understand why cashiers render people powerless to deal with their change.  Cashiers must have to go through rigorous training in how to return change in the most awkward way possible.  I can just envision them undergoing exercises in piling up receipts, bills, and coins into a customer’s hand.  “No, Susie, you are supposed to dump all the coins at once.  Do it again until you get it right!” Maybe the management figures if enough customers drop enough change on the floor, the business can rake in another few dollars from the coins that roll under the cashier desk.

I have been known to snatch my hand away after the cashier lays bills in my hand before she can load me up with coins.  This way I can easily put my bills into my wallet first.  Sometimes it backfires and she releases the coins into the air.  But then she has to chase them.  As aggravating as this situation is, I think I have finally found the solution.  From now on, I’m only paying with credit or debit cards—assuming the card machine can read my chip.

 

Thumb Exercising

I love it (not) when I get Facebook messages saying So-and-So is at the gym.  My first thought is who cares?  My second thought is why is So-and-So posting selfies of himself (herself) at the gym instead of actually working out?  I don’t know about you, but when I go to the gym—which takes a tremendous amount of willpower just to force my contented body off the sofa, into exercise clothes, and out the door—I want to get in, do what I have to do, and get out so I can get back to the sofa as soon as possible.  I don’t want to spend time texting or posting selfies.  Besides, who wants to receive pictures of sweaty, out-of-shape people in skimpy work-out clothes?

Yes, I have ventured back to the gym after my disastrous run-in with the stair stepper from a few months ago.  It seems I need to work on strengthening my back and my quads, along with every other pitiful flabby part of my body.  I just avoid the stair stepper.  But just because I have gone back to the gym doesn’t mean I have to like it.  Yes, I admit I always feel better after working out (unless I fall down the steps of the stair stepper).  However, I don’t particularly want to spend any more time there than I absolutely have to.   As I leave the gym and see people coming in, I always think to myself, ha ha, I’m done and you’re not!

So it boggles my mind when I see people sitting around on the Nautilus equipment wasting time texting instead of working out.  Especially if I want to use that particular piece of equipment.  Seriously, what is so important that must be posted right at that particular minute? Then I receive messages that So-and-So is at the gym.  Obviously So-and-So is just sitting around on the Nautilus machine sending texts or selfies rather than exercising.

This morning I went through the entire Nautilus room full of equipment while I waited for one dude to get off the one machine I wanted to use in order to finish up and get the heck back to my sofa. He was just sitting there with his phone.  If I was less of a pacifist introvert, I might have been tempted to march over and say something snarky to him.  As it is, I resort to venting my frustrations by writing about them.  Because of that guy my hamstrings and gluteals didn’t get their turn to cry out, “Enough already!  Have mercy on us!”   So now I am walking around with unbalanced muscles.  My quads got a great work-out, but my hamstrings, zilch.  Can you just see my legs?  I probably look like that guy in the Liberty Mutual commercial with the bulging calves, except my bulges are above my knees.  All because some nig-nog was hogging the hamstrings/gluteal machine by not actually working out, but sitting there posting he was at the gym.

There has been a huge push to stop people from texting and driving, which should really be a no-brainer, but apparently isn’t to some folks.  I say we take that one step further.  No texting while working out (or pretending to be working out).  Thumb exercises don’t count.

 

Eat Mor Chikin

I love Chick-fil-a.  In my opinion, out of all the fast food eateries, not only do they have the best food, but they also have the best service.  And they rank number eight in the nation for the highest grossing fast food chains in spite of the fact they are closed on Sundays and are boycotted by (how to put this delicately) people who are more progressive and enlightened than myself. It is refreshing to see a business which actually puts faith and family ahead of the almighty dollar.  In these times, nothing is sacred—every business is open on Sundays and holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas, for fear of losing that extra buck.  Imagine the money Chick-fil-a could rake in by being open on Sunday.  By my crude calculations, they could add an additional 1.2 billion dollars to their gross. For their convictions in closing on Sunday, they have my utmost respect.

But that isn’t all I love about Chick-fil-a.  Unlike some of the fast food restaurants where the servers act as if I managed to ruin their day by patronizing their establishment, Chick-fil-a employees are always exceedingly customer friendly.  I’ve been in many places where the cashier takes my order, takes my money, returns change, and puts the food on the tray without ever speaking to me or looking at me.  I’ve even had servers interrupt me while I’m in the middle of giving them my order to talk to another employee.  Many times when I say “thank you,” I don’t even get an acknowledgement as they shove the tray at me.  I won’t even go into the number of times my order has been wrong or I get stuck with the French fries which have been sitting in the warmer for the last two hours. Chick-fil-a workers, however, always ensure the order is correct and when thanked, respond with, “My pleasure.”  I somehow suspect serving me is not necessarily the most pleasurable experience of their day, but they always make me feel like it is.  Plus, if I happen to forget something, like a condiment or utensil, they cheerfully run fetch it for me, not to mention stopping by the table to ask if everything is okay or offering to refill a drink.  There are even fresh flowers on the tables.

I also think that whoever came up with the advertising concept of the cows for Chick-fil-a was an udder (pun intended) genius.  This is such a clever marketing idea, I doubt anything can top it.  I always get a chuckle out of the cows holding up the misspelled signs begging people to eat more chicken.  There is just one little problem, however.  Has anyone besides me noticed that the cows promoting Chick-fil-a are Holsteins?  And does anyone besides me realize that Holsteins are not beef cows, but dairy cows?  (Except for the poor males who are of no use to the dairy industry which get sold as babies for veal, or occasionally raised for beef).  Yes, I do understand that aged dairy cattle may be rendered for beef, but in the big scheme of beef, they don’t contribute much to the business.  This tough, aged beef probably end ups on the value menu of some of the other fast food chains (only kidding).

It’s kind of a shame that Hereford or Black Angus cattle were not chosen for the Chick-fil-a advertising.  But I’d be willing to bet that advertisement executives don’t really know a lot about cows, and when the general, unenlightened public thinks of a cow, the Holstein is the one which comes most readily to mind.  Besides, the distinct black and white markings of Holsteins make them quite photogenic.

I hope I didn’t ruin your perception of Chick-fil-a by pointing out their little advertising blunder.  On the other hand, perhaps Holsteins were deliberately chosen.  They are the cows who are alive long enough to advertise in favor of eating chicken rather than their bovine beef brethren.  Anyone join me for a Holstein hamburger?

 

 

My Black Thumb

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 . . .

 

 

 

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR DUMMIES

Last weekend I attended a writers’ boot camp to help me learn how to market my writing.  We were told that in today’s climate, writers needed to spend 60% of our time writing and 40% of our time on social media.  Why is it I have to spend 40% of my time doing something I hate in order to do what I love?  Why aren’t there “people” who will take care of that dreaded 40% for me so I can concentrate on what I want to do?  Well, I suppose there are—for a hefty price.  So far, my writing as been a big negative in terms of monetary reward.  So I opened my aging brain and set out to learn everything I could.

The problem is when it comes to technology, these workshops are taught at a PhD level and I am in kindergarten.  They use words and acronyms that apparently everyone in the world except me knows.  We started with building platforms.  Okay, I’ve been to several of these “platforming” sessions, so I have a vague idea of what that means.  I just don’t have the foggiest idea how to go about it.  This is what I need from these seminars:

Step one:  How to turn on your computer.

Step two:  How to maneuver the mouse (no, not an actual rodent—that oblong thingie you hold with your hand that attaches mysteriously somewhere into the back of the computer).  This is how to attach it.

Step three:  This is what social media is in terms that even Ellen, can understand.

Step four:  Let’s start with Twitter.  That’s the little blue birdie picture thing.

Step five:  This is what you can do with Twitter.

Step six:  This is how you Tweet.

Step seven:  This is how to actually open a Twitter account—step-by-step with big color illustrations and a real live person sitting next to you to show you where to click—without accidentally signing up for hundreds of dollars’ worth of services you will never understand or use.

Step eight:  This is where Twitter goes in cyberspace.  (I still don’t “get” who is going to receive my Tweets).

Instead, this is what I got:  I need a Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Linked-in, and Pinterest account and I need to be active on all of them.  I need to use a scheduler, such as Buffer or Post Planner and load it.  Hello, can we please go back to Step one above?  I need to build an e-mail list by funneling something or other and I need Mailchimp. (Is that like an actual monkey?  Why do all these computer things have animal names)?   I need to create opt-ins and lead magnets and export these as PDFs.  I need to place Facebook and Instagram Ads.  I need to do book sweeps.  I need to leverage all my connections. (Say what)? I need for all my social media platforms to demonstrate growth.  I need to pull my blog content out to post on all social media.  I need to get on Zoom, Screenflow, Cantasia, or iMovie and record myself and put it on all my social media. (Yeah, that will probably go viral on the Twilight Zone website). I need to set up automations and ask all my email followers to whitelist me.  (I think).  I need to get an app to resend email if it’s not opened.  On my website I need a back button.

Okay, can we please go back and repeat all the above in English? At the end of the session my head felt like it was going to explode.  All I could think of was, “I need to go home and google exactly what Twitter is.”

I am not a millennial or tech savvy. I was only recently dragged kicking and screaming into Facebook and I’m still not sure I’m using it right.  Plus up until a few months ago I didn’t even have a Smart Phone.  I’m still too dumb to figure out how to use it, but I have one.  So. . . for us old dogs trying to learn new tricks, can we please start off with “sit” rather than, “go tell Dad Timmy’s fallen in the well?” I can do this if I start from the beginning rather than the middle.  After all, I’m not stupid, right?  Don’t answer that.  But the depressing fact is even if I do manage to get a handle on all this foreign-to-me stuff, everything will change in a few months and leave me out in the cold once again.

Besides, who in their right mind wants to read fifty posts from me a day?  I don’t think anyone cares if I’m at Walmart or cleaning up dog poop in the dining room. Couldn’t someone out there take pity on me and just do all this for me so I don’t have to mess with this stuff I don’t understand?  My feeble brain can only take in so much new information. I’ll be happy to pay double what I have earned as a writer!

 

“. . . the time of the end many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall increase.” Daniel 12:4 (King James)

Look for my blog online at the Northwest Florida Daily News.  Click on “Sections” and find blogs in the drop-down bar.  Newshttps://www.nwfdailynews.com/

Watch for my Tweets.  I have no idea where they are!  LOL!

 

 

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day

Last Thursday, as I’m sure you already know, was Valentine’s Day.  I have mixed feelings about this “holiday,” which most men believe was dreamed up by women to make them thoroughly miserable by stressing over how to deliver on the romance.  Let’s face it.  Most men are not all that romantic and the very idea of having to come up with the perfect gift, date, words of passion, etc., make them break out in a cold sweat.  The difference between men’s idea of romance and women’s idea of romance are poles apart. (We women already know what men’s idea of romance is and it has nothing to do with candy and flowers).  Men know if they fall short of their significant other’s expectations, they risk the dreaded cold shoulder which only women are capable of exhibiting with any degree of finesse.  To make matters worse, women never clue men in on how they failed, leaving them clueless and helpless so as not to accidentally repeat the offense.  It is quite simple, really.  We ladies want our men to act like the heroes in our romance novels and romantic movies.

In reality, however, have you ever known a man in actual life to behave like those heroes in romance novels or movies?  No, no, and no.  This is why romance novels are exclusively written by women for women.  How many men do you know who read romance novels?  Yeah, I thought so. To illustrate my point on the differences between male and female ideas of what constitutes romance, have you ever read a token romance scene in an action novel written by a man? There’s not much about the electricity that shoots up his arm at the accidental touch of their hands or the softness of her lips brushing against his.  There are no scenes where the male characters’ knees go weak at the mere sight of the lady he has his eyes on.  No, a male novelist’s romance scenes are more along the lines of porn, which just goes to show they have no clue.  Their female characters always act like cats in heat.  I won’t go into detail.

This is perhaps why Hallmark movies are so popular with women.  We know they are strictly fantasy, but, hey, who cares?   It makes us feel good with our fairy tale happily-ever-after Prince Charming, who will never leave his dirty underwear on the floor or the toilet seat up.  We can dream, can’t we?  But, seriously, how many women do you know who were standing at the altar with “Mr. Not Quite Right, But Good Enough” when “Mr. Right” burst through the back door of the church declaring his undying love and inability to live without her?  Although it does kind of beg the question of why “Mr. Right” waited so long.  And do you know any woman who was ready to board a plane to parts of the world unknown in order to forget the love of her life, when suddenly “Mr. Love of Her Life” crashed through the security gate begging her not to go?  That is, assuming he got that far with airport security all over him.  One can only surmise the couple will pick up from where they left off after he is paroled.

I would venture to say that  few of us have had that kind of drama on our journey to finding true love. In my case, my husband finally asked me out on our first date with the hopelessly romantic words, “I have a coupon for a two-for-one dinner at the officer’s club which is getting ready to expire.  Would you like to go with me?”  All I can say is it worked and the rest is history.  He is now my chunk-of-chunk of burning love, who knows not to waste money buying me flowers on Valentine’s Day.  After all, you can’t eat flowers.

And now abide these three; faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love. 1st Corinthians 13:13

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ellenfannonauthor.com

 

If Memory Serves Me Correctly

I have learned in over twenty-five years of marriage not to lock the door behind my husband when he leaves for work—or anywhere else for that matter.  The reason is he invariably forgets something he needs and comes back to get it.  If the door is locked, he has to go to the trouble of digging out his keys, assuming the keys weren’t what he forgot.  Usually I am safe to lock it after he has returned to the house once, although on occasion, he has come back twice before getting out of the driveway.  This is if he remembers the needed item(s) before he gets that far.  I can guarantee if we drive to church separately, I will get a call asking me to bring whatever it is he forgot, like his sermon notes or his Bible.  He kept leaving his coffee thermos at work when he needed it at home, and vice versa, so I bought him a second one for Christmas.  Guess what?  Now they are both either at home or at work.

You might infer from the above that my husband is one of those people who would forget his head if it weren’t attached.  But that’s not the case.  My husband has an amazing memory.  For example, he can tell you every place he has ever stopped for gas on a trip—something I find a bit odd—and he can also probably tell you how much he paid for the gas.  He can tell you, in detail, about every flight mission he ever flew.  He can tell you every idiosyncrasy of every airplane which was ever made in the world, starting with the Wright Brothers.  I would bet money he can recite every phone number from every place he has ever lived.

It is simply a matter of what is important to him.  I have to admit that some of the things he retains in his brain should have been booted out years ago to make room for more relevant information, but, hey, it’s his brain and he has to live with it.  However, I will never let him forget the story about the best Reuben sandwich he ever ate.  He was going on at length to some friends about the best Reuben sandwich saga.  He remembered every detail—where he ate it, what specifically was so good about it, how it compared to the second best Reuben sandwich he ever ate, probably what time he ate it, how much it cost, and what table he was sitting at.  The setting was a Cracker Barrel in Columbus, Ohio on February 13, 2003.  The reason we were in Columbus at such a dreadful time as the middle of winter was for the wedding of his older daughter.  At some point in the conversation, I interrupted his Reuben rhapsody.

“Doug.  Why were we even in Ohio?”

He thought a moment.  “For Angela’s wedding,” he replied, triumphantly.

“And what color were the bridesmaids’ dresses?” I asked.

He looked annoyed, as if anyone in their right mind should be expected to remember such a trivial matter.  “I don’t know,” he answered, in a voice that conveyed the sentiment of, “Who cares?”

“Well, then, who were the bridesmaids?”

I will admit that this could have been an unfair question, as I would doubt a lot of men would remember who the bridesmaids were at a wedding.  However, we had picked up one of the bridesmaids on the drive from Florida to Ohio, so she was in the car with us for several hundred miles.  One of the other bridesmaids was his younger daughter.

“I don’t remember,” he answered.

“So the highlight of your daughter’s wedding was the Reuben sandwich you ate at a Cracker Barrel?”

He sputtered to work his way out of that one.  “We weren’t talking about Angela’s wedding.  We were talking about a Reuben.”

Still, I knew I had him.  That Reuben was, indeed, the highlight of the wedding.

I should be grateful he remembers my name, as one of the things he has a lot of trouble remembering is people’s names.  But I am one of the fortunate people who have crossed his path in that he actually wrote my name down when we met so he wouldn’t forget it.  He wrote it down wrong, but still it’s the thought that counts.