The business of doing business

10 Comments

I have a very large, very dead pine tree looming over my driveway and threatening the safety of my home and my new car.   It has been dead for several years but each day when I drive in my driveway, I convince myself that it is leaning closer to my house than it was the previous day.  It was time to call in the professionals.

I found four local companies that offer tree removal services as well as free estimates.  All four came to my house and gave me a wide range of quotes for different ways that the tree could be felled and cleared.  The company I chose to do the job was the best fit in terms of safely felling the tree with the right equipment and not charging me a fortune to move the pieces off to the side of my driveway.  I thanked the other companies for their quotes and let them know I went with a different service.

Two of the other three were understanding.  One was not.  After I told him I would be happy to pass on his information to others looking for his services, I received a text message from Brian and this is what it said, “Well thank you Susan.  No need to pass my name around since you have not experienced the level of service we provide.  In future, I would respectfully suggest you exhaust your cheaper options before calling someone that spends their time and fuel to look at your work.  Good luck with your tree and hopefully the damage will be minimal.”

WTF???

To say that I was angered would be a gross understatement.   I had to hold myself back from responding with the words that were churning in my head.   Instead, I politely explained that I had chosen a company with a similar rate but a better option for me and the safety of my oak tree since Brian was going to strap the dead tree and pull it down so it would come into direct contact with my 100-year-old oak tree.  (But he assured me the oak tree would be fine!)

What I should have texted was this, “Well, thank YOU Brian.  I will certainly be passing your name around now, just not in the way I had expected since I now understand the level of service you provide.  I respectfully suggest that you not offer free estimates if you are going to whine about the time and fuel you spent doing something you advertise as free and act like an asshole when you don’t get the job.”

Even birds can have a lapse in judgement

6 Comments

For the past two mornings, I have been brought back from my slumber into consciousness by an obnoxious sound.  Before I share my story, let me first paint a scene in your mind.

Picture a tiny white cottage nestled in the midst of three acres of extensive woodland.  The dense underbrush is stippled by towering century-old Maple and Oak trees that seem closer to the sun than to the ground.  Branches perpetually invite forest creatures to share their space and many birds use the strong limbs to begin their spring ritual of attracting a potential mate.  The songs of the frogs fill the night air as the barred owls call from one tree to another.  These soothing noises lull me into sleep.

Mornings are usually accompanied by the soundtrack of chirping birds.  The melodies of Chickadees and Red-winged Black Birds are the first strains I hear and they help me welcome the morning with a peaceful sigh…..until yesterday.

My rhythmic breathing was suddenly caught in my throat as I was rudely awakened by the simulated sound of a jack hammer.  The noise would stop long enough for me to hear the fading echo and then begin again.  In the middle of this wooded sanctuary, a Pileated Woodpecker was pounding his beak on the old TV antenna that is affixed to the house directly beside my bedroom window.  This beautiful, albeit destructive bird, truly could not see the forest for the trees.  Although surrounded by a plethora of massive trunks, it chose to continue to bang its beak on the metal tower and showed up again this morning to do it all over again.

(image credit)

I caved to the will of the shortsighted bird and got up early to take my dog for a walk.  The familiar sounds of the usual morning creatures were there to walk with us and when we got close to home, I heard the familiar banging sound coming from my neighbors house.  Out of the myriad number of trees to select from, this bird had found the only two needles in nature’s haystack.  I can only wonder how long it will take this feather-brained bird to realize it’s barking up the wrong tree.

 

Putting the “jerk” in knee-jerk reaction…..

6 Comments

On Saturday, I spent a couple of hours at our local Foodland trying to promote our small curling club.  We  had a tiny table set up with a lone chair, our club banner and some flyers with information about our open houses and our membership rates.  What I thought was going to be a couple of hours of chatting about the club turned into a very eye-opening experience and a great deal of fodder for this blog post.

If you have ever shopped in a grocery store, you have undoubtedly seen small town clubs raising awareness (or funds) for their groups.  Having never been on this side of the table before, I was ill-prepared for the events that transpired.

knee

Many locals did stop at the table.  To their good fortune, and our misfortune, they were snow birds counting the days until they left for the sunny south.  We did receive a collection of names to add to our list of possible new members.  But what I didn’t expect were the reactions of the multitude of people going by who would do anything to avoid eye contact with me.

Let me remind you, I was not selling anything or asking for money.  Most shoppers picked up their pace as they passed me, looking straight ahead as if trying to remember where they parked their car.  Several people didn’t even want to know why I was sitting in that cold lobby, they just told me they didn’t have any cash and kept moving.  One lady went so far as to tell me she had already donated!   This generous stranger had somehow anonymously given money to our little curling club and nobody on the executive committee were any the wiser.

The crowning glory was a middle-aged woman who, as she pushed her full grocery cart past me, simply responded “NO” when I had asked, “How are you today?”.

I was in awe of how quickly people were willing to dismiss  me, to turn a blind eye and not even take a moment to understand why I was there.  My presence wasn’t threatening.  I was not holding my hand out asking for anything.  To say I was disappointed by the reactions of those people is an egregious understatement.  And I can only hope that if I ever have a knee-jerk reaction to a similar situation, that I’m not such a jerk about it.

The day the spaghetti broke

14 Comments

I do not consider myself to be a “food snob” but there are certain things that are either right or wrong when it comes to the kitchen and food preparation.  Sure, bastardized versions of many dishes have been made popular over the years to appease the increasing number of dietary restrictions, but there is one thing that I find offensive if it is messed with and that is spaghetti.

One of my dear friends shared a story with me (mainly because he knew I would lose sleep over it) about “the incident” that may haunt me for the rest of my days.

We are both twirlers.  We take great pride in reaching into that steaming bowl of pasta with a fork and twirling that spaghetti, either on a spoon or in the bowl, until a pleasing mound of pasta is gathered in a beautiful spiral pattern.  There is something very fulfilling about the twirling process and the effort to twirl makes the reward of the first bite that much better.

It was a day like any other.  He had been out working in his shop and could almost smell the pungent aromas of tomatoes and spices wafting through the air.  As he neared the house, the scent of the sauce was accompanied by the fragrance of a fresh baguette, lathered in garlic butter, toasting in the oven.

She was there to greet him with a glass of wine and, as he got cleaned up from his day, she then busied herself getting the table ready for dinner.  He was eager to sit down to a heaping bowl of what he thought was going to be a fantastic meal.  Once he had seated himself at the table, she presented a bowl that looked very similar to this:

IMG_3325

What promised to be a meal fit for a King turned into a meal fit for a toddler.  I can only imagine the amount of time that elapsed while he gaped at the bowl in front of him, trying to be appreciative of her efforts but not commenting aloud about the egregious choice she had made.  She had sacrificed everything that is good about spaghetti and had broken the noodles into bite-size pieces.

He felt the harness tightening, encasing him in the invisible high chair in which he now felt trapped.  He repressed the urge to turn into that toddler and throw the bowl to the floor while he struggled to come to terms with the embarrassment those noodles must have felt.  He suffered in silence along with them as he spooned the unrecognizable pasta into his mouth.

Years later, I now suffer, not so much in silence, with him.  A law of nature was twisted that day – the day the spaghetti broke.

(image credit)

 

 

 

Is the omission of truth really like telling a lie to your parents?

8 Comments

It is interesting to see how my life has evolved over the last twenty-five years.  I’m certainly not going to tout that I walked uphill to school both ways in the snow in bare feet but there are some long-forgotten truths about things that happened when we were surviving our impressionable years, some that our parents were oblivious to…..and for good reason.  Back in the days when not wearing seat-belts and driving under the influence were almost socially acceptable, there were some essential unwritten rules shared by siblings and friends.  The most important being – “Things that happen in your teenage years, stay in your teenage years”.

But, after the Earth had orbited the sun a sufficient number of times, I felt a little more comfortable regaling my parents with a few of the stories that happened in the good ol’ days since I had a nice cushion of “time gone by” and didn’t think I was eligible to be grounded anymore.  The sealed records had been expunged, the statute of limitations had expired and I was ready to open the locked vault that contained the evidence of our teenage shenanigans.

Running with scissors would have been a much more acceptable behavior and a much easier tale to share over a cocktail or two but my folks took everything in stride, just like I knew they would.  All things considered, after leaving a 19 and 15-year-old home alone while they went to Florida, they were not as shocked as I thought they would be to find out why the kitchen linoleum had tiny burn holes directly in front of the stove (it wasn’t the bacon) and why the giant satellite dish was perched at a precarious angle at the top of the steep hill behind our house.

My brother and I, for all intents and purposes, were respectful human beings and responsible kids.  My parents knew our friends well and we were trusted to roam about town in our pimpin’ ride – the Pontiac Acadian.  If I had to guess, I would say my brother had a Rum and Coke held firmly between his legs (maybe not so responsible) when the little blue car crested the hill.  It was winter and the steep decline was more than treacherous.  All of the defensive driving techniques my dad taught us could not have prevented the outcome of this evening.  The momentum carried them down the hill and my brother strategically maneuvered the tiny car as it tipped on its side and wedged itself between a tree and a telephone pole at the bottom of the hill.  My brother impressively “stuck the landing” and all of the occupants were completely unharmed.  The car, that only weighed about 100 pounds, was pushed out, righted and driven away with minimal damage.

acadian

(ours was a 4-door, but you get the idea)

After spilling the goods to my parents, a little bit at a time, they seemed unnerved.  I always wondered if they had known these things all along and were just waiting for us to come clean.  Was the omission of truth a lie?  Were we terrible children for wanting to shield our parents from the horrors of the real world?  Was it wrong to want to keep them in their safe little bubble?  Only time will tell.

Now that they have both passed and have access to all of the details of our lives, my brother and I may eventually be in for a long overdue time-out when we are all together again.

They do walk among us

11 Comments

Stealthily, they weave among the crowds, always maintaining their position slightly below the radar to avoid drawing attention to themselves.   They seamlessly blend into their surroundings, appropriately smiling and nodding when they deem a response is necessary, but never actively participate in the live conversation swirling around them.  They are the oblivious – they are the relatively small number of people who just – don’t – get it.

By any standards, they would most likely maintain a moderate intelligence quotient, function well at a full-time job and perhaps even procreate to pass the torch of their DNA on to the latest members of the human gene pool.  However, in what may well be a fleeting moment of idiocy, they lose their grasp on true logic.

There are websites dedicated to this phenomenon and the stories are, not only hilarious but, astounding.  One of my true favorites, which may be a complete fallacy, or not, is a group of friends walking along a beach when one friend cries out “look at that dead bird” and his friend looks up in the sky and says, “where?”.   They do walk among us.

This post was not inspired by the nameless, faceless many who have undoubtedly experienced this factual anomaly, but by a phone call to a radio station in Fargo, ND that I had long since forgotten, until now.   If this whole call was fabricated, congratulations to the people who thought up this gem.   If was an actual call (and apparently it was authenticated as an actual call) this woman truly believes she has the answer to a safety issue for drivers.  Please be advised Fargo, ND – she walks among you. (although her name may have been changed to protect the idiot)

After being ignored by local television stations and newspapers, a woman took her cause to her local radio station.  In a very decisive and articulate argument, she was very concerned and somewhat shocked that the government transportation agencies would choose such heavily trafficked areas to post the standard issue deer crossing signs.  She firmly believes that, after obtaining their passing grades from primary school, the deer would have the wherewithal to comprehend the meaning of the sign and change their crossing patterns to coincide with the location of said signs.

In a moment in which she seems irretrievably misguided, and there were several, she had not only convinced herself but tried to convince the world at large that the deer would heed the wishes of the transportation agency and only cross at the location of the signs.  Since she has been involved in three vehicular incidents with these highly educated creatures, her argument to move the deer crossing signs closer to a school zone frightens me immensely.   How many children will she hit before the government has to relocate the school children crossing signs to a near-by freeway?

Please listen to the following and weigh in…..do you think this call is real and, if so, has she changed her name and moved to a state where the deer are just as clueless as she is?