Category Archives: Observations

A Simple Thank You. It’s All I Ask.

How many times a week do you take advantage of a drive-thru? More specifically, for a coffee or a quick bite?

How often do you tip at a drive-thru?

I’ve always felt odd tipping at a drive-thru. McDonald’s doesn’t expect a tip from me. Neither does Wendy’s. Nor Burger King. But Starbucks has their tip jar in prominent display. And the Sonic Drive-Ins in our area recently posted reminders to tip your drive-thru attendant, just as you would the carhop.

I proudly call myself thrifty. I blame my Scottish heritage. But I waited tables in college and think of myself as a generous tipper. I know, firsthand, how hard the job is.

But the drive-thru? You stand there. Take the order. Possibly walk 3 steps to reach the order that has been prepared for you/me and then hand it to me through a window.

And by the way, that’s your job.

There wasn’t any extra service involved. You didn’t refill my drinks, take away dirty dishes, check to make sure my burger was cooked to order. You simply took my order and handed me my order. Oh. And took my money.

My husband always tips you. He has shamed me into tipping you, too. And so, I do. Reluctantly. But never more reluctantly until now.

Recently, in the past three months or so, I’ve noticed an air of expectance when you are handing me my change. And so, I tip. And then you say, “Have a great day!”

How about “Thank you?”

Thank you is the proper response when someone gives you a gift. And that’s what a tip is. A gift. I don’t have to give it to you. Especially at a drive-thru. But I do. So, I, the generous customer, give you a little extra money for the amazing 38 seconds that I spend with you. You, in turn, should reply, at the very least, “Thank you.”

I’ve been keeping track of how many “thank yous” I receive when I give a tip at a drive-thru for the past two months. Of the eleven visits for coffee or milkshakes for the kids at Sonic or lunch at our local country cafe with a drive-thru, I’ve received one thank you.

One.

Solitary.

Thank you.

It’s not hard. It takes less than one second to say.

Instead of a thank you, I’ve received “Have a great day!,” “Come again!” and a tip of the head and a smile. But nary a thank you.

Sigh.

Common courtesy and graciousness is dying a slow death.

Even in the South.

7 Comments

Filed under Observations, Soapbox

When Have A Great Day Doesn’t Really Mean Have A Great Day.

My mother-in-law takes issue with people here in the south. I especially notice her discomfort in the grocery store.

“Why was he talking to you? ” she says, speaking of the bagger, “Was he one of your former students?”

“Ewwww. They’re so syrupy sweet here. You know they don’t really mean it, don’t you?”

(Disclaimer: These are my mother-in-law’s stereotypes. Not mine.)

My Mother-in-law’s Theory: People in the north may be rude and keep to themselves but you can trust what comes out of their mouths. People in the south are phony and fake and have ulterior motives when they speak to you.

Of course, I disagree. I love the friendliness here. I find it real and reassuring that there are people trying to spread cheer in the world. I love the smiling hello greetings and the “thank-yews” when I leave the store. I take the friendliness at face value. Maybe because I’m right. Maybe because I’m just happier that way. But quite honestly? I don’t care. I’ll take my theory over hers any day of the week.

I’ve lived in both places, north and south. In the north for 21 years and the south for 27 years. And I’ve found phoniness in both parts of the country.

Our neighborhood has a Facebook page. And on this page, fellow residents (we have over 500) post their comments about upcoming activities, a heads-up about school fundraisers or about neighborhood amenities. My friend was fed up with some complaints about issues with the pool. So, she provided a disgruntled resident with a very fact based response, hoping to calm the resident down with what could be a highly charged issue.

It didn’t help. The resident responded with a snotty, juvenile comment and then concluded it with “Have a Great Day!”

Okay. We all know she didn’t really mean for anyone to have a great day. She was putting on her best syrupy, sweet, phony, sing-songy voice to say something she didn’t mean. She wanted to say, at best, “screw you” and at worst, “f-off.”

Throwing a “Have a nice/good/great day” at the end of a response when it’s clear you don’t mean it? So unnecessary. You aren’t fooling anyone. When you insist you really meant “Have a great day!”? No one believes you. We can see the snot through your sing-songy voice no matter if we’re from the north or the south.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Or…..

How about say nothing at all?

7 Comments

Filed under How We Roll, Observations, People

I Fear The Internet Will Burst From The Sheer Weight Of All The Egos

I’m slightly irritated.

And I’m losing my Pollyanna zest for browsing the internet.

Facebook statuses. Blogs. Youtube videos. The 200 word quick clicks provided by the media of the next regular Jane or Joe making the news. The Pin It! buttons popping up on blogs. The thinly veiled and not-so-thinly-veiled shouts of “Look at me! Over here! Look at me!” or “Please! Make me popular! I must fund my fantasy lifestyle!”

It seems everyone out there wants to be noticed and they don’t care how it’s done. Stupid human tricks on video. Filming your children high on nitrous oxide. Pimping for comments or votes for a contest on a blog. (I’m not immune. I admit. I’ve done this, too.) Slow news days with stories about fake lottery winners wanting a bit of the spotlight. Creating a blog around a novel idea (pun intended), not a real blog but one that is supposed to jump start your book/movie pitch/services.

It’s to the point that whenever I click on a new site or read a news story, about three words in I’m wondering: What’s the angle? What do they want? What are they promoting?

Sometimes I think I’m back in high school. Facebook pages with 500+  1500+ friends. (Really? You honestly have 1564 people you need to keep up with on a daily basis? Wow. You must be really popular.)

Can the Internet hold all of the egos? Will it burst from pride and self-glorification?

And how does this shape our views of others? Will it jade us? Will it cause us to approach each other with caution and mistrust?

It seems rare anymore that I stumble onto the kind of blogs I enjoy and love. But YOUR blogs. The dear ones that comment here and check in to see if I caught my son’s flu. (I did. But very mild.) The ones who write because they have to write and share ideas. Real people trying to make real connections. The down-to-earth, sending thoughts and ideas into the internet, hoping to catch the eye of a like-minded, thinking, intelligent individual kind of blogger.

Your blogs are the ones I crave.

16 Comments

Filed under Observations, Soapbox

Evolution Of A Hot News Story. Or How The Media Creates Mass Hysteria.

Day 1: I read about a young, innocent 17-year old boy, Trayvon Martin, shot by a crazed vigilante, George Zimmerman, in Florida. The crazed vigilante was patroling his neighborhood with a gun and it appears he singled out Martin because he was black and wearing a hoodie. Martin was armed only with a cellphone, a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. The nation is outraged. Twitter feeds light up. People are demanding the arrest of Zimmerman.

Day 4: I see a picture of George Zimmerman and he looks Hispanic to me. I think, of anyone he should be more sensitive to racial profiling, since he, too, is a minority. (Although, not for long.) I see a picture of Trayvon Martin. He looks all of 12 years old. He looks like a baby. How could he have been a threat?

Day 12: Citizens across the country are still outraged. Protests are being organized demanding Zimmermans arrest. I wonder how in the world he couldn’t have been arrested yet. This is outrageous.

Day 14: The friend Martin was talking to on the phone says that she heard Martin saying, “Why are you following me?” He tells her he has to go. He hangs up. Five minutes later, he is dead. I wonder what happened in those five minutes. Did Zimmerman chase Martin and then gun him down? Did they have a conversation? Did they argue? Could it have escalated to the point that Zimmerman did, indeed, feel he needed to defend himself? Nawwwww. He’s the psycho vigilante and Martin is the babyfaced victim that the media has portrayed them to be. I’m sure of it.

Day 15: Clever pictures of Skittles and cans of iced tea are popping up all over the internet with the caption “Not A Weapon.” I post said picture on my Facebook page to join the crusade.

Day 24: Geraldo Rivera claims that Martin’s hoodie is responsible for his death. Apparently, he thinks black men and boys shouldn’t wear hoodies, a common fashion statement among all people, of every race and gender. What an idiot.

Day 25: Rallies are popping up all over the country. Celebrities and politians are giving their two-cents. Zimmerman is still not arrested and has gone into hiding (legally.) I wonder how the authorities don’t have enough evidence by now to arrest the bastard. Sure, some inconsistencies are popping up, but he shot an unarmed man. How can this happen?

Day 29: Updated pictures of Martin and Zimmerman are now appearing on the internet. Martin now looks 17 years old and his full height of 6’3″. Zimmerman is now seen in a suit, not the old arrest picture, of which all charges were dropped. I also read that Martin was visiting his father while suspended for 10 days from school for possession of an empty baggie with trace amounts of marijuana.

Day 30: The Orlando Sentinel reveals that, according to police reports and Zimmerman’s account that has been corroborated by witnesses, that Martin knocked Zimmerman down with a single punch and then proceeded to slam his head into the pavement several times. This occurred while Zimmerman was returning to his vehicle and Martin approached Zimmerman. A witness states that Zimmerman was crying for help and then shot Martin twice at close range. It’s starting to make sense why, perhaps, Zimmerman hasn’t been arrested yet.  I take down clever picture from Facebook page.

Also Day 30: Martin’s mother is applying for a patent on phrases involving her child’s name. She says she is doing this to ” protect intellectual property rights for use in projects to help other families in similar situations.” Huh? This sounds fishy to me. But since I’ve never been in this situation, I’ll give her a crazy-because-I’ve-just-lost-my-son-in-a-tragic-horrific-way pass.

Day 31: Joe Oliver, a friend of George Zimmerman, a black friend of George Zimmerman, feels compelled to speak up for his friend. He confirms that George was attacked. He says that he is remorseful and suffering from post-traumatic stress. He can’t stop crying. Oliver describes a man who is caring and the farthest thing from a racist. I realize this is Zimmerman’s friend, so I take it all in with a grain of salt. But he is black. And he is on national television, supporting a very unpopular man. I take it all in with a minuscule grain.

The only two people who really know what happened are Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.

Tragically, Trayvon can’t speak for himself. He is dead. Please, don’t tell me that guns don’t kill people, that people kill people. I won’t believe you. Why anyone needs to carry a gun on their person is beyond me. I’m aware that people kill people. But guns sure make it easy. This is not the wild west. We are a civilized nation. I want a world where guns, used to kill people, are unneccesary. Using guns to kill people is barbaric. There has got to be another way.

As tragic as Trayvon’s death is, the news that has trickled out oh-so-slowly certainly casts doubt to his complete innocence. Did he provoke George Zimmerman? Was there an altercation? Did he deserve to die? No. But should we cast stones at Zimmerman if we don’t know the whole story?

The media, at the start, led us to believe this was a hate-crime. Pure and simple. Then, slowly, information starts oozing out on both sides that creates doubt and suspicion. No real answers. Peppered with opinion and speculation. News stories that are short and factual. New stories that indirectly point blame.

But no one really knows anything. We are going to have to let the authorities do their job. Once a full investigation is complete. We might finally know what happened.

And by then? We’ll all be on to some new crusade.

I don’t know who is innocent. Both men are victims. Of many things.

But I do know one thing.

Geraldo Rivera is still an idiot.

9 Comments

Filed under Be-Causes, In the News, Observations

Former Hot, Hunky Jock Becomes An Actor. Surprise!

He was a jock.

He was hot.

And he knew it.

And all through high school he’d hang with his posse. They’d sit on the floor of a well traveled hallway and rate the girls with flashcards. When a 9 or 10 would walk by, the lucky girl would giggle and blush. When a 6 would walk by (me), she’d hang her head in shame and wish she could disappear. I have no idea how the ones or twos got to class. Luckily, the teachers got wind of what was going on and ended the game.

He and his friends made fun of the choir geeks. No slushies in the face (it would have been Slurpees) but they wouldn’t be caught dead at one of our concerts. And the plays? Even when we needed hunky, athletic types for Grease they were too cool to try out.

I remember him making a disparaging comment about one of my friends. One of my gay friends.

“I’m in that play, too,” I said.

“No you’re not,” he shook his head. “You’re a swimmer.” (Our school often won State Championships in swimming so it was a cool sport back then.)

“Yes, and I’m in the play and the choir and the select ensemble,” I waited for his response.

There was none. He brushed it off. In his cool, dismissive way.

“Sorry about the other day,” he said, barely audible, and he walked away.

I suppose he was referencing the day I was rated a six.

We never really spoke again. He was an upper classman. Friends with my upper class friends on the swim team. I ran into him a few times before he graduated at hockey games or football parties (he played) but we barely said hello. And that was OK with me. After his comment about my friend, I no longer thought he was hot.

He had been popping up on my sidebar in facebook. For over a year.  Fifteen friends in common. I’ve ignored it. But I wondered if he even remembered me. I sent a friend request. Just to see what would happen.  And now I’m part of his other 1,886 posse members.

Guess what? He’s in Hollywood. And he’s a hot, hunky actor. Making a fairly good living at it. I’d heard this but didn’t believe it. I’d seen him, thought I’d recognized him in a few television shows, but dismissed it. I thought he went to Cornell University. Majoring in business or some other predictable pursuit. It couldn’t be him. He made fun of us acting geeks, the songbirds singing with the queers.

Guess what? He did attend Cornell. Majored in business. Then, I guess he figured out acting would be a more lucrative career for him than business.

And there he is. On the small screen. Making a living as an acting geek. A hot, hunky acting geek. With fans. An L.A. home. A rock ‘n roll lifestyle.

Well. I suppose I shouldn’t have expected anything less.

7 Comments

Filed under Growing Up, Observations

The Exercise Braggarts On Facebook. Tell Me Again. Why Are We ‘Friends’?

Who are these people that I’m friends with on Facebook? All of my Facebook friends are people I either went to school with, taught, is a neighbor, etc. In other words, people I have encountered in real life. No friends of a friend of a friend of a friend. Real people I’ve interacted with in real time.

In real time they seemed…..normal.

On Facebook? Aliens. Not from my world.

“So glad I got to the gym at 5am this morning. I’m leaving at 6 and there are 3 people fighting over the cardio machine. Ha!”

“Last run before the big race. An easy 5K in 23:12. Now my left calf hurts, left knee. But I feel great!”

“Just finished a great 18 mile run. The 30mph winds? Not so great.”

“It’s cardio time! What are YOU up to?”

Me? Wow. It’s so sweet of you to care.

I’m more of an introspective and private exerciser. I love my quiet yoga time. Walks with my dog. Sometimes we walk with my neighbor and her dog. And swimming, of course. My therapy. Lap after lap.  But apart from broadcasting my exercise exploits here (for the purpose of this post, of course) I don’t feel the need to shout my daily (OK, sometimes every other day) sporting accomplishments from the rooftops.

Who are these people?

And why am I friends with them again?

19 Comments

Filed under Because I'm Curious, Observations

My Love/Hate Relationship With Giada DeLaurentiis

My mother hated cooking. She appreciated fresh, seasonal foods. She eschewed pre-packaged fair. But having to take the time to put together a meal? Not her favorite pastime.

And young, budding feminist that I was? I thought I hated cooking, too.

But I loved food. I loved a fine meal at a restaurant. I went to Paris in my twenties and like Julia Child, I fell in love with the fresh, yummy, out of this world produce, fresh cheese, steaming baguettes,  perfectly cooked beef, aromatic chicken. I’d go on, but I’m trying to stick to my New Year’s resolution.

It wasn’t until my late thirties that I actually started trying to recreate the wonderful food I’ve eaten abroad or at fine restaurants. My best teachers should have been my grandmothers. But when they were alive I’d sit in the kitchen keeping them company while they cooked but didn’t really pay much attention to what they were doing. I was above domestic pursuits.

Now they’re gone. And I needed teachers for my new found interest in creating fine cuisine. So I turned to television. The Food Network. The Cooking Channel. Ina Garten. Ellie Krieger. Nigella Lawson. Even Paula Deen. (in moderation, of course)

And Giada DeLaurentiis.

I love Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. Love it. From the first time I watched one of Giada’s shows, I was drawn in. And when I’d try her recipes and they came off without a hitch? I was hooked.

Slowly, she’d start to annoy me. Shaking her hair over the food. Every tightly fitted top showcasing her perfect, perky breasts. Clever camera work sneaking shots her of cleavage. And the way she pronounced: mozzarella and parmigiano reggiano.

Oh sure, she was born in Italy. But she moved to the states when she was 7. And every other word out of her mouth is as American as can be.

It annoys me. And I have no idea why.

Try saying “And then you top it with some fresh mooootsarayla and a little bit of basil” with a straight face. It just sounds weird.

I love her recipes. I love the tips and tricks I learn from her. I hate her hair shaking-cleavage showing-Italian accent for certain words-television persona.

I confess. I both love and hate Giada.

(Please excuse me while I duck for cover. I think hear the chef-haters police at the door.)

31 Comments

Filed under Completely Random, Observations

And This Is Why I Will Never Go On A Cruise

You know how some people are irrationally afraid to fly? No matter how many statistics you throw at them about how safe our airline industry truly is, how statistics show that you’d have to fly every day for 19,000 years before you’d have a fatal crash, they’d still be terrified to fly?

That’s me. Only with cruises.

I can not imagine that being trapped on a huge petri dish, floating in the middle of the ocean, miles from any civilization can be considered relaxing and fun. Tiny cramped quarters, bumping into the same people over and over, with no Starbucks in sight? Not my idea of a good time.

My husband has even dangled a Disney Cruise over my head. In a weak moment, I checked it out. Disney nut that I am, I considered their 3 day cruise. For about 32 seconds. And then I came to my senses.

I’m well aware that my fears are irrational. I’m sure I could find website after website spouting statistics assuring me how safe it is to sail the wide open seas. That Norwalk virus is not just contained on cruise ships.  That I won’t be robbed, bored or stuck eating with strangers. It will fall on deaf ears.

Every cruise disaster, I read or watch unfold with wide eyes and my stomach doing flip flops. Like a train wreck, I can’t look away. And my fears are satisfied.

Do you know what song was playing at one of the ship’s restaurants when the Costa Concordia’s hull split open?

Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” from the 1997 blockbuster movie “Titanic.”

I’m not kidding. Look it up. 

And this is why I will never go on a cruise.

25 Comments

Filed under Observations

Mass Update Followed By Mass Confusion

“Hello. This is Nurse Ratched from Dr. Hemnhaws office. We have the results from your mammogram and ultra sound.”

She’s not really Nurse Ratched. She’s actually pretty nice. Well, at the beginning of the conversation she’s nice.

“Everything looked fine. But Dr. Hemnhaw wants to know if you’d like to see a surgeon.”

I thought you just said that everything looked fine?

“Yes, I did. But the doctor wants to know if you’d like to see a surgeon. Just in case.”

Just in case what? If everything looked fine, why do I need to see a surgeon?

“To make sure everything IS fine.”

But the mammogram, which was a special diagnostic mammogram, said that everything was fine and the ultra sound that they did just to make sure the special mammogram wasn’t lying said everything was fine. Why does the doctor think I need to see a surgeon?

“I didn’t say she thinks you need to see a surgeon. She wants to know if YOU want to see a surgeon.”

Why would I want to see a surgeon if the tests say I’m fine?

“Just to be sure.”

Be sure of what?

Nurse Ratched is now becoming a little ratched-a-fied.

“To make sure it’s nothing to be concerned about.”

Is Dr. Hemnhaw  concerned?

“Listen. I’m just reading her notes. It says that the mammogram and ultra sound were normal. That the patient needs a follow-up in one year and then Dr. Hemnhaw wrote, ‘Ask if patient wants to see a surgeon.'”

Well, I’m not a doctor. Shouldn’t a doctor determine whether I should see a surgeon or not?

(Exasperated sigh heard over the phone. Make that, over both ends of the phone.)

I’m not trying to be difficult. I’m just trying to understand. The diagnostic mammogram was fine. The ultra sound was fine. But the doctor, with the medical training I lack, wants to know if I want to see a surgeon. Does she want to start up a blog?

(Ok. I didn’t really ask that last question. But I wanted to. I asked this one, instead.)

Could they tell what the mass was?

“It doesn’t say. It just says that everything looked normal and to have a follow-up in a year. I just need to know if you want to see a surgeon or not.”

Uh. Well. I’m going to go right out and get my medical degree.

And then?

I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Jeez.

(To the dear, sweet bloggy friend – you know who you are – who helped me decipher my doctor’s question: Thank you. A million thank yous. You put my mind at ease when the nurse/doctors couldn’t. This blogging community is amazing. I appreciate all of your concern and well wishes. Thankfully, all is well. But you already knew that, didn’t you? You’re all the best! The absolute best readers a girl could ask for!)

12 Comments

Filed under Observations, Roadblocks

One Little Phrase Is All It Takes To Steal My Thunder

I had a check-up this morning. The female kind. And I was dreading it.

I’m the kind of gal that thinks ignorance is bliss. I hate the necessary poking and prodding it takes to stay healthy. What do I hate worse? The dreaded weigh-in.

Pregnant at 40, my midwife warned me that at my advanced age it would be tough to lose the baby weight. I didn’t believe her. I’d never struggled with weight issues before. In fact, I was underweight for most of my teens and 20s.

Rude awakening #1.

I have struggled and struggled and all but given up on getting back to my pre-baby weight. A weight that I wasn’t that happy with to begin with. But lately, with increased devotion to my yoga and small dietary changes (very small changes because I love to cook and I adore my Coca-Cola) I have slowly, very slowly started to melt some pounds. Yes. Pounds. As in plural. And, and this is a big “and,” it has stayed off. No yo-yo-ing this time for me.

I dreaded stepping onto that scale today, though. I don’t weigh myself at home. I use my clothes as a judge. And I am so self-defeating, the tiny changes I’ve noticed I’ve attributed to: designers creating vanity sizes, drying my clothes on a lower setting, stretching out my jeans.

As I tentatively stepped onto the scale, I sucked in my breath, as if that would create some kind of weightless vacuum.

“You’ve lost another four pounds since September,” the nurse said cheerily.

Did I hear her right? More weight? Gone?

Woo hoo!

This is the second weigh-in when I’ve lost weight. Two doctor visits in a row. And I’m losing. Not gaining. Not even staying the same.

But that can’t be. I cooked like a demon during Thanksgiving. Publix has had buy-one-get-one ice cream for the past 3 weeks. My birthday was this past weekend and I didn’t hold back. Cake. Ice cream. Meals out. All weekend.

I cheer. Out loud. The nurse smiles.

“But you don’t understand,” I say, “I’ve been struggling for 8 years to not only lose weight but keep it off. It’s finally working!”

She smiles again and starts rattling off instructions: take off clothes, gown opens in front, something about a sheet to cover up. But I barely hear her. I’m singing inside.

“Celebrate good times! C’mon”

“I am beautiful. In every single way.”

“It’s going to be a great day!”

The doctor comes in. I barely hear her commands. I’m grinning from ear to ear. Until…

“Do you perform regular breast exams?”

Pretty much. At least every other month.

“Well, do you feel this mass here?”

She guides my hand to the spot.

“I just want to rule anything out. So, I’m going to order a diagnostic mammogram just to be sure it isn’t anything to worry about.”

Pffffft.

Rude awakening #2

The wind was just sucked out from under me.

Rule anything out. Be sure it isn’t anything to worry about. Huh?

Didn’t she hear? I just lost and kept off 4 more pounds. I was having a fabulous day. Ok, fabulous last 15 minutes.

Did she really have to steal my thunder?

Sigh.

This sucks.

13 Comments

Filed under Lessons Learned, Observations