Monday, February 28, 2011

Scaling the Wall of Fear

Sometimes you need encouragement. Ok. Scratch that...a LOT of times you need an encouragement!

I think I am finally (after one year with my job) realizing that growing up is NOT easy.

There's no way you can graduate, slide into the perfect job, meet the perfect guy, buy a dream house, etc. etc. without hassles, setbacks, and disappointment. If you did, please do not tell the rest of us, because you are a rare breed and will only stir up feelings of jealousy, bitterness, and possibly anger.

Highschool was not easy. I was homeschooled, and found that lack of social interaction with my peers was frustrating. Isolated  most days with only my sisters for conversation (praise the Lord I was not an only child!), my world felt very narrow and sometimes empty. I longed to enter the busy hallways and classrooms of a highschool.

College was like a dream come true! Thousands of people to meet, lots of friends and fellowship...I thrived! However, my perfect four years of college was interrupted by a tiny bacteria eating up my stomach. I left school, not only because I needed to earn money to continue, but because of my medical problem. The doctors didn't find the bacteria for a YEAR! I was subjected to all sorts of medical exams, tests, and about a gallon of blood was drawn over the course of that year. I felt like a guinea pig as they tried all kinds of medications on me. I had a hernia and ulcers. I would cough until I couldn't hard that I broke a rib. They tried allergy meds, re-flux meds, my bed was raised to a very uncomfortable angle, it was miserable. I remember one night when my family was asleep and I really couldn't breathe, I was coughing and gasping for air. I thought I was going to die that night.

Eventually the doctors realized that they hadn't tried a certain test yet. My case was usually only found in people over 50, so they doubted it was the problem... After a final bloodletting, the cure (a two WEEK pill) was prescribed and I was cured!

Despite this medical condition, I had had to keep on with life. I got a job and took some courses with the local community college to catch up. It was a frustrating setback.

After all of that, I finished my time at school, earned my degree, and then took 2.5 months to find a job. I was almost desperate by the time I found it. It seemed like a dream come true. However, the "honeymoon" period has ended, and while I love my employees, I do not enjoy the lack of flexibility with my employers. I long for the freedom of a Saturday! Retail is just not the job for me. 

Last night, I went rock climbing with three old Navigator friends from school. You should know, heights are one of my biggest fears.We cheered each other on and tortured each other up those walls! I only made it to the top twice, but I had three other fun attempts. When you are gripping that wall with the last ounce of your arm strength, sweat stinging your eyes; the voice of friends beneath you giving you encouragement and guidance is such a relief! My last climb was one of the two times I made it to that top. Partway through I reached what I believed to be a dead end. My arm wasn't long enough to reach that next grip and my grip wasn't strong enough to pull me higher. I told my friend belaying me that I was done and received a negative. He wasn't going to let me come down. I was only four feet from the top! However, I tried to wheedle my way down announcing that there were no more footholds within reach. This was ignored and I was stuck on that wall about twenty-six feet in the air. It took about 10 minutes, but with my friend's guidance I finally found the right hold to get me up to the top! 

The sheer power of encouragement compels us to strive harder to overcome obstacles.  I realized (again) that God is our ultimate encouragement. We have to spend time in His word to hear what He tells us, but the results are always amazing!

Though I am afraid of what will come next in my life, I have the encouragement of my Lord. Not only that, He provided me with several friends and family members who pray for me and cheer me on when I need it the most. As long as I keep my eyes focused above, to Him, I need not fear the height nor depths of my fears. Slowly they are wiped away. "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13)...including shake the grip of fear.

So: though I was scared I would never graduate, petrified of heights, and am terrified about finding a different job...these fears have been and are being overcome through my patience and trust in God. He has not failed me, nor will He!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Music and Lessons

It crosses continents and is found in every tongue and culture.
From a shepherd boy's harp to the drums of battle- nothing speaks to the human race like music.

War hymns, lullabies, ballets and balleds...there is a beat or tune for everyone.

I think my favorite portrayal of music is the "soundtrack". Music does such a good job of telling a story and creating a mood. When Kronk from the Emporer's New Groove hums his own "theme music," it reminds me of myself.

I have always had a passion for music. I wanted to play the violin when I was I'm sure thousands of other children did and only dozens actually got to. When I expressed this wish to my parents, they had a comeback... First I would have to learn how to play the piano...then I could play the violin.

Well, the piano was a fine instrument...but I knew I wouldn't be able to carry it around and entertain I was disappointed.

At age 9 I began the long journey of "music lessons." These continued for three years. During that time, I discovered that playing the piano was easy...just listen and repeat... Oh what a curse my musical ear was!

At age 12, the chords began to become my enemy. I had to work very hard to try to pick out the exact notes to play them back to my teacher and I didn't get the week to practice...she wanted it played right then.

After a stressful recital in which I forgot the end of the song and played it through twice (but so fast that I finished on time!), my teacher caught on. My next lesson she pulled out the first year flash cards. I couldn't name half of them! She didn't say anything that I remember, but my piano lessons ended.

Who knew that learning to read music could be so challenging. I guess I didn't understand that the goal was not to just play the songs...but to read them as well.

Despite the death of my lessons, my love of the piano has not stopped! I enjoy the stress-relief of playing and the puzzle of teaching myself a new song. My favorite stress-relief is "Clocks" by Coldplay. I touch the keys, close my eyes and play! (My sisters would turn out the light to get me to stop playing and I got tired of turning it back on so I used my ear and kept going in the dark...and still can!) I'll play it for you sometime if we ever meet.

The moral of the story? Know what the goal or objective is before you begin anything! Don't just! (Even though I still can' taught me not to make the same mistake in other situations!)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cheesy Smiles

Today was bitter.
I lost my car keys. (They are still missing.) The other manager had an appointment and was gone for over two hours.

The head was upset with me for not understanding what all needed to be accomplished. (Because it was not explained when I arrived...)

I had to wait for the other manager to come back before I could begin the search for my keys...and when I finally did, got in trouble for focusing on myself while the other three managers needed to talk. sigh* I spent less than 10 minutes on the phone, searching specific areas, and finally signing paperwork for the locksmith who opened my car...(I was locked out a week ago today, but that time I locked my keys in the was a Valentine gift to myself, I suppose.) However, that 10 minutes (which were intermittent minutes due to helping customers) were considered selfish.

I get yelled at by a truck driver after telling him he couldn't park his semi in the exit to my store. I stood my ground and politely got him to move to the street...but I wanted to run away.

I was reminded by one manager that we never get enough done (though there is NO way my employees can work any harder or faster- we are just short-handed).

Lastly, I was told that my cashiers were not calling the right person to come and help customers carry large items to their cars...and I lost it. Tears just spilled down my face...I couldn't control them.

Nodding I hurried to the back office trying to slip past my employees and choking out that I was ok. They didn't believe me. I was hyperventilating by the time I shut that office door and stayed hidden for awhile. Tissues were handed through the door. I LOVE my employees!

The regional manager came in and told me that it wasn't my fault, that I had a right to be frustrated because they weren't doing a good enough job teaching me...and that didn't help my tears any.

My sister had to drive 64 round trip miles to bring me the extra key to my car so I could get home tonight...and I had to stay an extra hour and a half.

I had to call my boss (in tears) because the safe wouldn't open so I could finish my job...and I'm afraid he was ready to bolt for the door...poor man.

I made it home after 9pm tonight and when I logged on saw this fun post by my friend that I wanted to share with you: Servant of the Spirit: you forgot the cheese!

It relates to my day in two ways:
1) I had broccoli and CHEESE soup for dinner.- random, I know.
2) I am just like his little sister in my frustrations with wondering where the "best part" went. I get so impatient with God and I'm sure by the time this season of life is over I'll wonder where the time went...:)

Hooray for trials that remind us that God is the only one we can turn to and He does indeed have a plan.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dreaming of Childhood

Remember when you were 5 and adults would smile and say things like "enjoy it while it lasts!" "Those were the days." "You've got it made!" "One day you'll wish you were younger." But you didn't believe them.

"Oh you get a nap! You are so lucky!" they'd say with enthusiasm and you'd look at them as if they were half-baked! Why waste a good day by sleeping in the middle of it?!

"I remember when I could eat all that sweet stuff." they'd mention morosely as they stared enviously at your ONE scoop of ice cream (liberally smothered in sprinkles). You would wonder...they get to have TWO scoops...they can have as many as they want really since they are grown ups! What is so difficult about being a grown up?

To top it off...your dad would decide not to get an ice cream and then eat half of yours!!! The irony. By the time you were 8 you'd feel sorry for him and pretend you didn't want much so that he could have more...

Such scholarly wisdom and strange words were not only spoken above your head...they stayed up there.

You couldn't wait to get older so you could have more freedom! Boy, when I'm 15 I get to start driving! You weren't 5, you were 5 and a half...or 5 and 2 months...every day drew you closer to your goal: to be a grown up and make the rules! Drive, buy whatever you want, paint your room, never eat what you didn't want to...

But then you grow up.
You finish college and look at your student loans.
You hunt for the perfect job and finally take any job in desparation.
You are in your mid-twenties and no longer celebrating each're not 25 and a are 25. The day before you are 26 you will still be 25.
Thirty looms in the distance like a mountain...sure 40 is the've already scaled a mountian by then...50 is probably a bump in the road...
You begin getting summons to serve on jury duty and you dread it! The first time was exciting and daunting...the second, you felt like a pro. The third? Can't we substitute people we know who have never been?

Saving for retirement begins now! Insurance has to be carefully selected and chosen (thank you Dave Ramsey!), cars have to be fixed, apartments must be rented...maybe one day (hopefully) a house will be purchased!!!

Suddenly you stop where you are and can't see straight. Your vision clears and you see a 5 year old skipping down the street. Carefree. No financial worries. No duties or obligations other than keeping their room clean and setting the table... You think to yourself...I will warn the next generation!!! They need to know how to enjoy their freedom while they've got it!

So you walk over to the little kid and say, "You are so lucky to be 5! You get to take naps! You can eat what you want and play for hours!" And the kid looks back at you with a confused look and says, "I'm not 5, I'm 5 and 8 months!"

And you mourn for another childhood being dreamt away...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gourmet at Midnight

I am of the opinion that certain things are just worth it!
Currently, I'm waiting on my grasshopper squares (a fancy term for brownies with mint and chocolate ganache toppings) to thicken. It may be after 11pm, but they are going to taste incredible tomorrow for my Girl Time date with Casey and Cynthia!

I've been working on them for 2.5 hours now and in about 20 more minutes I can put the last layer on, stick it in the fridge, and head to bed!

I don't know about you, but I'm not an exact recipe follower...I tweak anything. If I don't want the texture of something like onions in a certain dish I'll use a dash of onion powder.

There is some mysterious ingredient called "creme de menthe" required for this recipe I'm working on tonight and I have yet to find it. My parents do not drink alcohol, so when my mom learned that creme de menthe was a type of alcohol she refused to buy it. My dad and I searched tonight through the alcohol section of HEB just for the fun of finding out what it no avail.

Therefore, I was forced to improvise and used mint and peppermint extracts as I have the last two times I've made these. Truthfully, they couldn't taste better! I stumbled upon this recipe in a magazine called Gourmet three or four years ago. I almost didn't get the magazine because there was an enormous squashed cricket on the back of it...but my tastebuds are very glad I overcame my disgust and bought it!

Speaking of baking and magazines...there is a way you (yes! you!) can win a cookbook or subscription to a magazine if you check this out by Feb. 20th, 2011! Check out the free giveaway from my friend Amy Rene by clicking on the title of this post! :)

I will now go add that chocolate ganache to my creation!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Valentine and the Nerd

I was very much a tomboy as a little girl. I could only handle so much time playing with Barbie...I preferred playing sports (or making up sports!) with the neighbor kids. It was not uncommon for most of my friends to be boys. Girls just weren't willing to get dirty- though I blame some of their neat-freak mothers for that...thankfully, mine let me play in the mud...sometimes. :)

When we lived in San Diego I had the pleasure of attending a private school for a couple of years. In 2nd grade, I was the valedictorian of my class. I had been working hard all year. I enjoyed learning & being competitive- it was not hard for me to put that extra effort into "winning" at school. Christmas had come and gone and now we were getting into February.

I knew that I only had a few more months until I got the ribbon and certificate for my good grades. (It's a shame I didn't feel as competitive in college...) I was such a focused little nerd.

One day, this focus was interrupted. The boy two seats over began passing notes to me. I had never thought about love and romance before and was a little annoyed to be interrupted in class. For about a week, the notes came...drawings with "Will you be my Valentine?" scrawled across the top. Poor boy. I was just not interested and became plain irritated by the end of the week.

My logical 8-yr-old brain had a brilliant idea...! If I say "yes" to this boy and agree to be his valentine, the notes in class will stop. So, the next time a note came my way, I looked over and nodded. It felt like I was agreeing to be on his team for soccer or something & I shrugged and turned my attention back to the teacher.

No more notes came and I was satisfied.

The night before Valentine's Day, I had put together all my paper valentines...and then remembered the boy! What are you supposed to do for a valentine? I didn't spend too much time thinking about it.

Grabbing a paper lunch sack, I put two brand new Lisa Frank pencils, some collectible erasers (you know the kinds that were colored and shaped like fruit, animals, etc.? Remember those?), and a little notepad into it. Surveying my handiwork I decided that would be good enough and stuffed it into my backpack.

I waited for a good time to give the sack to him...I wasn't going to give him anything if he didn't give me something because obviously I had no idea how this worked. I didn't want to be a valentine dummy or anything...and I liked those pencils...

Well, at the very end of the day, he presented me with a beautiful heart shaped box with four chocolate truffles and I thanked him graciously and handed him the sack. Then he was hustled onto his bus and I climbed into the minivan with my mom & sisters.

The next day, thinking that we were going to be good friends after such an exchange, I approached him at recess to say hi. On either side of him were a couple of the "cool" girls from our class apparently comforting him from his horrible experience with me as his valentine! I don't remember what they said, but I was dismissed from his lofty presence as he sat upon the large jungle gym of tires. Briefly shocked that he didn't want to be friends, I turned away and spotted the soccer game starting up. Leaving those three in the dust, I joined the game instead.

I am happy to announce that I received the valedictorian position! That boy was only my valentine because I was nerdy enough to be upset about being interrupted in class. Wish I'd confronted him outside of class and avoided the valentine mess...but I'm not a confrontational person by nature. And who can expect an 8 year old to know what to do in those kinds of situations?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Guilty Feet Run Faster

I have three sisters. We spent much of our lives being homeschooled and moving every 2.5 years due to our dad's job with the Navy.

We're pretty close. One of our favorite things to do, was listen to our parents' stories about growing up. We took them carefully to heart. One day, it clicked in our heads that some of those jokes and pranks my dad and his brothers had pulled...could actully be done! We could do them!

Suddenly, pouring a jug of ice water over the shower curtain or soaking a sister's underwear and sticking it in the freezer sounded like great ideas!!!

However, with those actions came consequences...sometimes mom and dad had to dole out some type of punishment to prevent a reccurrance. (The frozen underwear episode was only attempted once...)

The most recent story involves two of my sisters and pranking on facebook...

One sister had left her profile open before dashing off to Bible study. It was a quiet evening at home. I was reading a book and most of the family were downstairs. Suddenly, the silence was broken by smothered giggles. One of my sisters was on the computer and I assumed she was watching a funny clip or looking at a friends' pictures. However, when the giggling continued for about 10 minutes I finally got curious and went to check it out.

Said sister was on the other's facebook profile and in the middle of editing and adding on to her information! A changed status is normal. A changed have to be a little cautious there...
Changing the info? Hmm...

Well I admit, I did not stop her. I merely sat down and watched, even offered a couple of suggestions. My best suggestion (to change her birthday to the very next day) wasn't allowed since the sister who was pranked is under 18 and facebook wouldn't allow it without a password...

Instead, Sesame Street, Bob the Builder, and Barney and Friends were added to her favorite shows and music.
Wrestling was added to her sports and our cousins were listed as her wrestling buddies. Sponge Bob was a favorite movie. My sister has an incredible imagination...

She also added a couple of jobs, her favorite was Waste Management! She was so racked with giggles and laughter that I just watched her and smiled.

However, when the other sister arrived home, she was very upset and warned the first sister that retribution would come.

Since that day, my sister (the one who pranked the other) has been extra cautious to never leave her facebook page open.

Last night, as I was calling a friend to get an e-mail address for my resume, my sister heard me mention the word "facebook". I was telling him that I didn't want to log into facebook and search for his address, and suddenly in the middle of my sentence a blonde fury descended! Her guilty feet carried her faster than she's moved in a long time!

She began pummeling me with questions, manhandled the mouse out of my hands and clicked around on the screen to find her facebook page and log herself out. In shock I watched her and barely had the prescence of mind to apologize to my friend on the phone (who could hear every word). I barely was able to finish my brief phone conversation because I was trying so hard not to laugh.

I am convinced that there are no feet swifter than those followed by a guilty conscience...or the desire to avoid pranks! :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tucked Behind My Ear

Occasionally, I will find a flower in the packing boxes that has accidentally broken its stem. This means it's fair game! Usually I will pass these colorful posies to one of my many coworkers with a smile. It's fun to see their faces light up!

Today and yesterday I put a flower in my hair...and then forgot I had.

Yesterday, as I was in the middle of wrapping an azalea plant with some beautiful florist paper for a customer my cashier approached. "That's a pretty flower, Hannah!" she said. Assuming she was talking about the azalea and forgetting the yellow daisy I'd tucked behind my ear, I replied: "Oh thank you! It's for a funeral, and I wanted it to look nice." The look on her face was priceless! "Um, I meant the one in your hair." "Oh!" and I almost smashed it with my hand in surprise as I searched for it!

Having not learned my lesson, I did it again today. This time it was a tiny sprig of orange begonias. Because we had snow...and I spent most of my time outside in it...I wanted hot chocolate for lunch! I head to McD's...not my favorite, but they do have amazing hot choco. It wasn't until I was halfway back to work and saw something in my mirror (the flower in my hair) that I realized why I'd gotten those strange looks from the two ladies in the McD windows. Oh well! They probably used to put flowers in their hair when they were little girls...and in some things I refuse to grow up!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Funeral Crashing and the Southern Tongue

First of all, let me state that the Southern accent is beautiful. Of all the accents I know, it is the most endearing because of it’s relaxed tones. It is so relaxed, that single vowels become plural. For instance: an i can be drawn out into an ea, and e can be turned into an ei, and so on. When they shorten two words…the abbreviation takes as long to pronounce as the original: you all becomes y’all. No time is saved and teasing is justified. I know having been teased about using that word after spending three years in Mississippi. When we settled in Texas eight years ago, I found that no one minded if you used “y’all” during conversation, and I’m afraid it will always be a part of my vocabulary.

Now after that background, I do want you to know that the Southern drawl can be a problem. I attended the funeral of one of my friends’ husband yesterday and it didn’t occur to me to find out what his name was before going. I had never met him, having only worked with this dear lady six months. As I pulled into the funeral home I was met by a black-suited elderly gentleman. Upon opening my window I was greeted with a watery smile and: “Are you here for the meals or ceremony?”

What? I know that occasionally people serve meals at funerals having just attended my Granny’s not three weeks before this, so I wasn’t too confused. With fast thinking I replied: “Oh no, I’m just here for the ceremony.”

The man gave me a blank, confused look and repeated himself: ‘No, are you here for the meals ceremony?”
Ok. What is a meals ceremony? My face now mirrored his confusion, so figuring he must not have his hearing aid adjusted he increased volume: “The ceremony for Meals, Edward C. Meals!”

Oh! Not food... Now another problem. I have NO idea what the man’s name was, because my coworker kept her old last name…I have no time to think!

Deciding to just find out by walking in, I replied that I was. After another brief conversation about whether or not I would be joining them at the grave-site or just attending the ceremony (I chose the latter), I was finally directed to park. (There was a small line behind me due to the confusion.)

When I walked into the building I knew 3 minutes of panic until I spotted four of my coworkers. How awful it would have been to have shown up at someone else’s funeral! What would I have done?
When I finally had a chance to look at the man’s name, it was NOT Meals, but Mills! Oh the Southern tongue!  I am sure the poor gentleman directing traffic that afternoon probably wonders if I was a funeral crasher, for he came in after I had hugged my darling Miss Blanche and I was sitting in one of the back pews. But who ever heard of a funeral crasher?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lead Feet and Smiles

Somedays life just couldn't get any better!- That was yesterday...

Today was one of the hardest days I've had at work in awhile. Part of me just wanted to curl up in a corner and sob. Why? Because I experienced a VERY angry woman. That experience stung me to my core. I realized today that I will never be appreciated the way I would like to be. Only One can keep me from drowning myself in self-pity and doubts. Only One is and always has been there for me. Others may try, it may seem like most don't care, but even if someone were to devote themselves to encouraging you, they would eventually fail you.

I was not a good witness at work today. I let that one angry woman sap the joy that Christ has given me. She didn't take it, I just stifled out Christ's voice with my desire to both retaliate and run away in tears. I did neither, but my attitude was morose. Pretty much a pity party, I would say. My feet felt like lead and my smile disappeared. All this happened within my first ten minutes and the whole rest of the day I dwelt on it. I called my mom during my lunchbreak to vent. I let my mind stray to it continually, in fact, you could say I MEDITATED on that one event ALL day.

It took the drive home to snap me out of it! I wish that I had spent time with God this morning instead of waiting to talk to Him until the drive home. His words and perspective caught me and held me. You know, so many people experience SO much pain on a daily basis...and I don't really ever remember that. Until you actually walk in a person's shoes, you cannot empathize enough. Who knows what drove her to act that way? Maybe the bills are late, her spouse is sick, a parent is dying, you never know...

I have spent many years in customer service positions and have been treated about every way imaginable. Short of physical abuse, (unless you count random sparks of saliva from a raging person...) I've been there. Therefore, after suffering the trauma and strain of serving cruel and wacky customers, I work VERY hard NEVER to be one.

I suppose today was a chance for me to learn about focusing more on the person. To really look beyond the facade of "I'm fine" or the abrubtness. I learned my lesson...I just hope I don't have to re-learn it again, but knowing me...:)

Friday, February 4, 2011

The $100,000 Return

I currently work in retail with a large plant nursery. I find that boredom is rarely found in this business. This is one of my favorite stories so far.

It was late summer.
The other Supervisor and I were getting to run the store by ourselves (a weekly occurrence) and had finally found 5 minutes to try to discuss where we were going to put the newly arrived plants (all 5000 of them!) We had had several attempts at this for an hour and were just beginning to discuss which tables to tear down, build, what to move, all that fun stuff that managers do... When an extremely panicked voice crackled over the intercom! One of our cashiers wanted us up at the front immediately. Because she is dramatic and panics easily (often unnecessarily) I volunteered to go and see what the matter was, so that the other supervisor could stay in the back and manage the yard. Usually it's not a big deal when we get called to the front: customer wants a discount on a damaged pot, return requires a manager's pass-code, etc. However, this time something HUGE had happened.

Whenever customers need to return something, and they do not have their receipt, we have more paperwork to deal with. Not only that, but our computers get finicky. The problem with this return was: 2 cashiers worked on it and there was miscommunication and terror and panic. This resulted in me spending most of the day on the phone.

A lady only needed to return a couple of plants. It should have been quick. One cashier started the transaction. She scanned the first item and $8.99 appeared on the screen. Then she needed to press enter so that the computer would allow her to scan the next, but instead of checking the screen and doing so, she scanned the next plant. The computer read the beginning numbers of the barcode: 4077. But it didn't just read them, it added them to the original price of 8.99, which was now: $89940.77. This is when it went further downhill. If she had checked the screen, she could have noticed the problem and just voided the transaction. That did not happen. Distracted, she answered the phone.

While on the phone, she told the second cashier to just swipe the customer's card. The second cashier, assuming that the first one (who has worked here for years) knew what she was doing, hit the total button and swiped the customer's card. Only then, when the receipt printed did she notice the numbers. By then the problem could no longer be avoided and I arrived on /was vigorously hailed to the scene. That customer was not only getting money back for her plants, but also a whopping $97,000+ extra! The sweet little computer added tax to the return...over $7000 worth! The total damage: $97,360.88 (oh yes, I have that number memorized)!

Ok. So when I arrived, it took about 5 minutes for me to understand what they had done. When I did, I tried returning the return...which you can't do. After realizing that I was going to need to call a bank and headquarters and KWI (our computer system managers), I had the good sense to do the customer's real return so that that would be taken care of and we could just void the other. She was panicking...I don't know why...she had just "Won $97,000!" for a few hours...

After getting her phone number in case anything else happened, I sent her on her way. I then began my deluge of phone calls. First, headquarters: I was patched through and told: call KWI for this one. Ok, second, I called KWI: after 20 minutes of working on the register with the technician he said my two options were: charge the woman $97,360.88 back on the same card to void it, OR call the bank. Ok, since I didn't know our bank's number, I called headquarters: they agree that I should try charging the woman's card.

To charge the woman's card, I had to get ahold of her and ask for her credit card number over the phone. This was a very sticky conversation as I tried to reassure her that she wasn't going to be missing money from her bank. I tried charging her card but the computer wouldn't let me charge anybody that much. sigh* I placed my third call to headquarters: they didn't know the bank number, and told me that it should be posted somewhere in the store.

By now I've told one of those two cashiers to take my lunch break because I am obviously not going anywhere anytime soon.

I searched the office thoroughly for a phone number and am beginning to realize that I might not be able to solve this problem. My yardman questions me about what is going on and why I've run past him several times in the last hour (the office is in the back of the store, the registers are in the front, and it is NOT a tiny store.) Just as I am telling him it is "un grande problema," the General Manager rounds a group of trees. I had forgotten that he would be visiting and it hadn't occurred to me to call him and tell him what was going on. After I told him about the problem, he quickly called the president and vice president of the company and a few of the big wigs up in Dallas.

In the middle of my conversation with the GM about what had happened and who had done it, he got a phone call from his boss about our store’s sales numbers. One of the men up in Dallas saw that our sales were suddenly a negative for many thousands of dollars. He couldn’t believe his eyes and wanted my GM to tell him what was going on! (We have a marvelous online tool that allows us to see how all the other stores in our company are doing in sales. It updates every 15-30 minutes, and the competitiveness in me LOVES it! We often are first or second in sales every day.)

Anyway, after several hours and a meeting with my GM, the problem was solved and I finally got to disappear for an hour for lunch…by then it was 4pm. I was starving, but calm. I actually thought the whole process was entertaining, but only because I knew all along that we would be able to cancel that transaction. It’s only a matter of having the right phone numbers. That poor woman won’t be getting her $100,000 return. But she has the pleasure, should she choose, to share that fun story for the rest of her life! And she didn’t have to pay to be a part of a game show like thousands of people do, in fact, it’s a unique story. One I’ll always remember!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I admit, the thought of a blog is daunting to me. My notes on facebook were so easy to write because I knew friends would read them…and only friends. I enjoyed sharing stories with them.
When I write on this blog, I have the tendency to feel more formal. As if I’m writing my resume to an important business company, I carefully weigh each word before submitting a post.
This way of thinking is going to stop! As I get into the habit of blogging, I’ll begin by posting old notes from facebook that I’d like to share with whoever takes the time to read.
For now, I’m going to enjoy this snowy day and get some housework done!
Get ready to read a different style…

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Animal House

I suppose in some way, this should be related to plants, but for today I want to focus on another creation that I love: animals.

I have always been fascinated with animals. I confess my Dad helped to feed this love of mine. He would bring home cats, dogs, insects, reptiles- all simply "day" or "week" pets (cats and dogs were "hour" pets...) and I would love them! It started with a goldfish named Bubbles...I nearly killed him trying to feed him Wheaties (breakfast of champions) when I was 3.

By age 9, I was Steve Irwin. I had not heard of him yet, but we were kindred spirits. My list of pets includes: cat, dog, chicken, ducks, all manner of insects (especially many praying manti), fish, parakeet, guinea pigs, snakes, ground squirrel, bunnies, turtles, lizards and geckos, frogs and toads, crabs, and so on. Not that many...

I have also, because of this fascination and love for creatures, attempted to rescue several that were in trouble.

Most notable among these rescues, was a pair of dogs.

It was summer, and I was working in Missouri. One evening, I spotted a pair of young dogs in a parking lot. The parking lot was on the edge of the mountain highway and I felt compelled to check them out.
Not worried about rabies or anything, I got out of my truck and called them. The excited pups came dashing toward me and I could see that they were VERY thirsty. A cup of water was retrieved from the restaurant (whose parking lot we were in) and they were given a drink. I knew better than to feed them, and decided to load them into my truck.

They acted like they would leap out of my truck and onto the highway during the 15 minute drive, so I shoved them into the cab. I had a back seat in that truck.

We made the whole ride, but as I got out of the car, they puked. I managed to save my purse in time...but the maps, umbrella, my notebook and new Bible...all were trashed.

This was a bad day. Not only this, but we were unable to find a pound in the vicinity. NOT good. Well, there was nothing for it but to take them to a place away from the road, but near people. Another guy volunteered his truck and we tied the dogs into the bed of it so that they wouldn't jump. We found a great parking lot...surrounded on three sides by hotels and over 100 yards from any roads above 35 mph.
As we let the dogs out of the truck, we noticed several people watching we began to act like we were letting the dogs stretch their legs. We made up names for them and called them, half-heartedly, until we lost most of the audience. Then we dove into the truck and sped away!

My truck took hours to clean, but thanks to several friends it was in working order by the following afternoon! I never saw the dogs again.

I still rescue animals...have rescued another dog and two kittens in the last year (one kitten just last night)...but I am hesitant to offer them rides. And I don't drop them off in the middle of no-where. The dog's owner picked it up the next day, one kitten had to be taken to a foster-care agency, and last night's is still waiting for her owner. She's quite the cutie!