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Monday, February 27, 2017

The Contents Of Our Character

At first I didn't notice anything different as I pulled my car into a parking spot at the grocery store. The forecast was calling for rain, and the skies were already threatening. I wanted to get what I needed in pretty good time and get out--a daunting task at Marc's, which has a large closeouts section that bogs me down. In it, I can find anything from garden rakes to wall clocks, room-sized rugs to purses. But I was resolute as I grabbed my bags and started towards the door.

Suddenly, I saw the police car. It was pulled up parallel to the front of the store. Its lights weren't flashing or anything, so I figured they were probably grabbing a few things themselves. But as I came closer, I saw the back door open, and an officer had a young woman by the arm. Neither one looked particularly distressed, but it was clear that he was going to put her in the squad car. Another young woman, who looked nearly identical to the first one, was standing there calmly asking, "Do you want me to drop off the car? Do you want--?" and I stopped listening and looking.

That sort of thing bothers me, and I don't like to gawk. It's clearly None Of My Business, and no one needed my help, obviously. It wasn't Entertainment.

I'd like to say that everyone else had the same philosophy, but of course, you all know that's not the case. There was almost a traffic jam of people and their shopping carts trying to come out of the store, caused by the two or three Elderlies with full carts, standing stock-still, watching this unfortunate drama unfold. I had to almost thread myself through a few more just to get through the IN door.

Once I did, however, I was soon stopped in my tracks by a monologue spoken loudly enough for everyone at the front of the store to hear. A woman's voice, speaking conversationally but assertively, said, "Just cut their hand off, that's what I say. If they want to steal, cut off a hand. For a first offense, maybe a finger, but if they do it again, then cut off the whole hand. Maybe then they'd think twice."

Aghast, I turned around and was astonished to see that the speaker was one of my favourite cashiers, a woman about my age, maybe a little younger. She was always so pleasant and kind to me, making sure to pack my groceries so that the bags were light. She was unfailingly chipper and chatty, talking about weekend activities and even inquiring about my health when I hadn't come in for a while. To hear her speak so easily about such brutality was jarring.

This happened a week ago, and I'm still struggling with it. So much is so wrong about it.

With everything in me, I wanted to challenge that cashier. I wanted to ask her if that is truly what she believes, that maiming a young twenty-something woman for what may well be the one mistake of her life is really what she considers to be Justice. I wanted to ask her if she knew that she was advocating for Sharia Law when she invoked these penalties for theft. I wanted to know how she could find such bitterness and hatred in her heart for a stranger, and for someone who had done nothing to her personally. And I wanted to ask her if she had ever stolen anything--anything--in her life; and if not her, what about her kids? What about her friends or co-workers? Did she really want something ugly and primitive to be Justice In America?

But I didn't do that. I didn't confront her then and there. I decided to wait and go through her line, speak to her civilly and calmly, but then she wasn't there. And now I know my chance is gone; I won't go through her line anymore.

I feel lousy. I feel as if I didn't Stand Up For What's Right. Like I let her get away with a big load of crap and spread it around, unchecked.

These days, any little Inch becomes a Mile pretty damn fast. I hope that, by my silence, I didn't help start a superhighway.

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Friday, February 10, 2017

They're Out There And They Voted: I Can't Go To Home Depot Anymore

I'm sorry. Massive, cavernous stores already have a strike against them by being dauntingly huge and tiresome. At least Costco, for instance, has an endless and ever-changing variety of goods--including food--to keep me interested. I once rested against a gigantic cuddly teddy bear there that was larger than me whilst Rick pored (eternally) over a selection of work gloves. Then we went to visit the food and wine, found some truly excellent olive oil and asiago cheese, and went home without any Untoward Incident.

Not so, however, at Home Depot, where there is almost nothing Interesting to me. While Rick can happily spend an hour or two there, I become restless and fidgety after about ten minutes. And that is without signs like this one:



Groan.

(I'm having flashbacks from my teaparty sign days. Remember those?)

How could things go so wrong on such a simple sign?

Now, stipulating that Idems means Items, as in "pieces, things, goods, gadgets", how can such entities be Selective as in "choosy, judicious, discriminating, or discerning"?

And do not even get me started on that asterisk.

Goodbye, Home Depot.  I've decided to become more Selective in where I spend my time.  You and I are no longer an Item*.

*But Rick will never quit you.


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Friday, February 03, 2017

Snakes Are Not The Boss Of Me

That I have a debilitating fear of snakes is not news. I've mentioned it in almost a dozen posts, most notably in this one about Irrational Fears and this one, a little playlet starring everyone's favourite, my mother, St. Patsy. (Speaking of which, let me take a moment to remind her: Hey, Mom, whenever you see the little words in a different colour, you can touch them and go to read or look at whatever it is I'm talking about.)

Thanks, everyone. Onward.

I'm happy to report that I've made considerable progress with regard to my phobia of snakes. Much of this progress has to do with the following:

1. My need for control
2. Actually, there really is no Number Two, as it all really boils down to my Need For Absolute Control, come to think about it.

Here's the thing: I really do not like Being Afraid. Of anything. And I also do not appreciate snakes being around where I am, making me feel scared and generally Being The Boss Of Me, which is another Thing I Do Not Like. Just ask my husband, who will readily answer the question, "Who is the boss of Nance?" with an emphatic and vociferous "No one!" Truth be told, my mother will answer the same question in the same way. And, that is precisely how I want snakes to answer it as well.

Seeing a snake on the shoreline of the lakehouse is still not something I'm happy about, but it no longer makes me rooted to the spot. Yes, I'm forbidden from using the ax on it after a few ill-fated forays into that practice of snake killing, but I have my methods.

I've come a long way from the little girl on East 38th Street who cried and cried one day, eventually calling out for her mother. Desperate to use the bathroom, I was too afraid to go in. I called my mom, who came to me, probably harried from hanging laundry outside or taking care of my then baby sister. One of four children, I was not usually a problem, so my mother was probably surprised by my distress. "Mom! Come quick! Call for help! Call the fire department or something. There's a rattlesnake in the toilet. I can hear it in there." My mother ran to the hallway and stopped to listen. There was absolutely no doubt about it--a rattling noise was coming from the bathroom. "Mom! Do you hear it? You heard it, right?" I knew she heard it. I was crying by then, so hard. My mother turned to face me, her eyes wide and her mouth desperately trying to hold back her smile. Then she just couldn't help herself; she started laughing. "Oh, honey," she said. "That's just the wind coming through the Venetian blinds."

Now before you all--and YOU, MOM--get too smug and superior, take a look at this:

courtesy Big Country Snake Removal

Trust me; I'm not happy about it in the least. I want stories like this to be Urban Legends. And I'm sure that the little boy in Texas who found it wasn't real thrilled either, nor was his family, who found a whole basement full of rattlers, as well as a nest under the house. After the initial shock, they called a snake removal system (the fact that this is a real thing makes me doubly sure I do not ever want to live in Texas) to get rid of them all and prevent further infestation. A spokesperson for Big Country Snake Removal said, "People have an irrational fear about" rattlesnakes. Herpetologist Sara Viernum reminds us that, while a rattlesnake bite can cause "temporary and/or permanent tissue and muscle damage, loss of an extremity depending on the location of the bite, internal bleeding, and extreme pain around the injection area", fatalities from rattlesnake bites are rare if treated with antivenin in a timely manner.

I really don't think Big Country Snake Removal and Herpetologist Sara Viernum are helping rattlesnakes a whole helluva lot with their PR .

Not that I care.

Let me just say that I am putting All Snakes On Notice.  If I have to put an ax next to every single toilet in the house, I will.  I have already eliminated all Venetian blinds.

I am In Control.

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