Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hello Friend, It's me , Mary's Butt. Are you there? Hello?

Recently I must have accidentally called a co-worker/friend. She calls it a "butt dial" which is a common term. She says she heard lots of "strange noises" .  Well...if this had been a literal "butt dial",  we would know what she meant by strange noises.

Anyway, I am not sure where I was when I accidentally made the call but I can guarantee the noises would have been related to my Lab-mix puppy. There would be the sounds of tumbling and running and me yelling:

"Don't eat that shoe..."
"Don't eat the couch!"
"Don't eat the cat."
"Don't eat the cat food."
"Don't eat the cat poop."
"Don't eat my book or my socks or my sweater."


"Don't eat the kitchen floor."
"Don't eat the sliding glass door!!"


"Don't eat the grass.
"Don't eat the tree."
 "Please do not dig up the daffodil bulbs and eat them too!"


Sounds like  a freaking Dr. Seuss book .
(Do not eat green eggs and ham....)


Anyway.  A "butt dial" is a funny thing because when someone tells you that you have done it to them, suddenly it feels like a lost opportunity, a missed connection. For five minutes there was an open line between me and my co-worker's cell phones. Neither of us were there for the "conversation", yet we were there. Our electronic proxies the call button and the voice mail box were there for us. And nothing happened. If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? If phone call is accidentally made is it really a phone call?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I was entering a store recently. It had two sets of doors with a small vestibule in between. You have probably encountered these in your local mall. One door takes you from outside in, then the next door,  just a few feet away,  takes you from inside the building to inside the shop.

There were three of us entering at the same time. One person opens the outside door for the three of us (she is frail and perhaps might be seen as  "handicapped"  but not really because she is able bodied enough to open the door for her fellow shoppers.) The next person opens the next door. So far, I have not opened any door and since there are no further entrances, I can't return the favor to either of these folks. I am a big believer in holding the door for others: either the full-on hold and stand back for the next person to pass or the hold it open from behind as you walk thru to make sure the door doesn't slam in someone else's face.   Here, though, I was  encountering a situation where obviously, all three of us are "door holders" willing to let others walk before us.

I hesitate. Protocol would be to let the person who opened the first door walk in first, especially since she appears to be "handicapped" with her cane and slow gait,  but she is hesitating.  Second tier protocol would require me to say  "No need to hold the door. Go right ahead. I will hold it." But I didn't. You will probably think me impolite when you hear what I did.  In my defense I felt that decisive action was needed to prevent three overly polite individuals from being stuck in a vestibule wanting to hold the door for the other two folks.

I quickly walked through the door, head up, eyes straight ahead, mumbling a thank you. I left the door holders in the dust to discuss what an a$$ I was for not holding one of the doors.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

T is for Talkative, P is for Patience

While standing in a used bookstore waiting to trade in   R is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton and The Litigators by John Grisham,  an older man in front of me asks for an Og Mandino title.  The store has none and the clerk has never heard of Mr. Mandino.  So, the gentleman begins a long narrative about the virtues of Og Mandino's philosophy. Another clerk sees me and rushes over to help. She is apologetic. I brush her off and say, "That is ok. I can wait."

I wait. I wait.
I move over to the fiction shelves and pretend to browse.  I drop  off my paperbacks and move around the store, listening to the man talk about losing his well worn and much underlined Og Mandino book. He wants to find another copy because he suddenly feels the need to read this former favorite and well loved author. I can understand.  I have lost track of good books too.  The Tao by Lao Tzu and the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook  used to sit on my bookshelf like they would be there forever. Not so. It can be disappointing to realize things change, things get lost and bookstores will not always carry the books you want to read. Or that bookstores (like Borders) will not always be there at all.

So, I pick out some other titles (mysteries by Colin Dexter, John Le Carre and Linwood Barclay) and now I have to pee. I am ready to check out and leave.
The older man has left and come back to speak to the clerk some more. He is talking about the  importance of underlining passages in order to remember.  He explains his ideas about  not just reading but absorbing what you read (like the difference between seeing an apple and eating an apple, he says.) Then the conversation moves to the idea that the clerk should try the Catholic religion.  I rest my head on a bookshelf and close my eyes.

If this were Kroger or JC Penney or Walgreens, I would have sighed heavily and rolled my eyes by now. Maybe even backed up the cart and moved to another aisle.

But I  will wait indefinitely while a bookstore customer or library patron tells the story of his life before I show any impatience. I have worked and been a customer in bookstores and at libraries for years. I know how the written word seems to inspire loooong-winded one-sided conversations in folks.

As my head rests on the bookshelf waiting for this gentleman to finish his conversation, I say a little prayer "God, grant me the patience while I wait in line  behind a windbag and God, grant patience on the person behind me in line whenever I stop the wheels of commerce to chatter on about whatever I find important."

"I seek constantly to improve my manners and graces, for they are the sugar to which all are attracted." Og Mandino

“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures."
Tao Te Ching,  Lao Tzu

"With practice, you can turn out a perfect omelet every time. Timing is important.." Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook 1989