Bible Verse

Beg as loud as you can for good common sense. Proverbs 2:3

Monday, December 21, 2015


Getting old is weird. Everyone under the age of 50 looks so young to me.

All my doctors, with the exception of one good old baby boomer like myself, look like they need a permission slip from their mother to even be there, much less be a doctor with years of college and experience.

Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate on what a young doctor is saying  because I’m so distracted by their appearance. How can this person have so much knowledge and at the same time have so few wrinkles?

And it doesn’t help to tell me that these youngsters have youngsters of their own. This baby-faced guy has four kids? Surely you don’t expect me to believe that.

Yes, getting old is weird. Inside my head, I’m still 32½, multitasking to beat the band. I’ve never had much energy, but I sure had more back then than I do now. I took the kids to school, worked a full-time job, picked the kids up from after-school care, and then cooked supper, complete with dinner rolls wrapped up in a bread cozy. Then the real work started: cleaning up the kitchen (I’ve always been a messy cook), laundry, making sure the kids did their homework, and on and on.

I don’t want to leave David out of the equation. He was very good to help me. But his job had shifting hours and was very physical. When he was home, day or night, he was trying to get some much needed sleep.

Getting old is weird. I think of family vacations we took and part of me thinks it was just a few years ago and part of me knows it was at least 25 years back.

Another part of getting old, apparently, is that other people either don’t see you at all or they feel compelled to help you.

It really steams my drawers (which is incredibly uncomfortable) when people ignore me when I’m standing right there in front of them. So when I’m checking out at the grocery store and my cashier gets to talking to other cashiers, I tend to step between them so they can’t see who they are talking to. I usually have something to say that pertains to the conversation they feel is more important than their customer. Some cashiers make the transition flawlessly and immediately transfer their attention to me. Other cashiers are a bit slower. I obviously startled one teenager when I came into focus. I smiled at her and made a comment pertinent to the conversation, and she went absolutely blank. Oh, well. Someone who doesn’t or can’t talk is better than someone who can and is ignoring me.

And then there are those who are eager to help, especially when you feel you don’t need it. They open doors, lift semi-heavy objects, put your groceries in your car, reach something on the top shelf in Wal-Mart.

It used to bug me when they did these things. And then one day, I thought, “Carol! What are you doing? If you let people do things for you, that means you don’t have to do it! What a sweet deal!”

Since then, I’ve welcomed any help that has come my way. I smile and thank them, knowing that the only reason they are helping me is because I remind them of their great-grandmother.

Well, the why is not important. I’ll be June Cleaver if it means some nice young man (anyone under 50) putting the 14-pound cat litter jug in my shopping cart.

Maybe next trip to Wal-Mart, I’ll wear pearls…

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Scan That Sucker!

I was at Foodland the other day, and I noticed there was upbeat, boomer music playing – The Eagles; Crosby, Stills and Nash; Ray Charles.

And it got me to thinking about how much grocery shopping has changed since I was a teenager.

As I was checking out, I told the young cashier that years ago the cashier had to put the price of each item into the cash register. She paused her scanning for a few seconds, with her head cocked to one side as if she couldn’t picture that at all, then said, “Oh, you mean they had to enter the UPC code by hand. Yeah, we had to do that once when we were having computer problems.”

I smiled. She was so young.

“No, I mean the cashier would enter the price of each item directly into the cash register. There were no scanners. Each thing had a price tag stuck to it, so the cashier would know how much it was.”

She was scanning in high gear now and looking at me like I was a loon.

Yeah, grocery shopping sure has changed. But maybe next time I’ll just keep the history lesson to myself.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


I love cats. I love to have a cat in my lap, purring while I rub its neck or scratch the top of its head. I love to sleep with a cat. I’ve had more than one who would sleep under the covers, which took some getting used to – for me, the cat seemed okay with it from the start.

But – and this is what turns a lot of folks against having a cat -- it is such a pain dealing with cat litter, whether buying it or disposing of its remains that are supposed to clump and/or be odor free.

First, you have to buy the right brand of litter, and there are plenty of them out there.

This can take longer than you think.

The right brand means that it will at least partially mask the smell, but not good enough to cost twice what the other brands cost. It’s what I call middle-of-the-road shopping.

Once you get the brand established, then you have to whittle it down to the exact type that works best.

Do you need the litter for a single cat or multiple cats?

Do you need clumping or non-clumping?

Do you need extreme odor control because your cat is, at best, a little stinker?

 Or do you get the kind that has a scent already built in, presumably more pleasant than what your cat can offer?

How strong are you? Because you’re going to find yourself lugging multiple jugs or bags of litter into your house every time you go to the grocery store. Or CVS. Or Wal-Mart. Unless you opt for the new lightweight kind that’s supposed to be around 30% lighter. When thinking over this option, remember that however far your car is from your front door, the litter will feel twice as heavy as it really is.

My favorite is one for multiple cats that has Glade in it. I don’t know how Glade can overcome the smell of the litter box, but it works really well.

But, of course, your cat or cats will have the final say. If they won’t use it, you might as well chuck it out and find one they like. All this has to be done by trial and error.

Everyone has a claim to fame, and mine is my Uncle Arnette. He invented a cat litter made of alfalfa and he named it Litter Green. I think I was in grade school, so this happened a long time ago and I can’t remember a lot about it except that Uncle Arnette sent Mom (his sister) his new invention, which were green pellets. There was no such thing as clumping litter back then, just clay litter. So Mom proudly put the green pellets in Barney’s litter box, stepped back, and watched Barney jump into the box, sniff around a little and then jump out of the box, refusing to use it until Mom got the weird green stuff out of there.

What we won’t do for our pets! They are good for us and we are good for them! What a great arrangement!

Praise God!

And if you are looking to donate time or money, try an animal shelter near you. Even if it’s just a couple of bags of food, it’s a couple of bags more than they had before you walked in.

Whatever you do, I know you’ll do your best.

Mom and her cat Gracie taking a nap

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Good-bye, Gracie...

Sometimes it’s hard to be funny, and this is one of those times. We had to make the difficult decision to say good-bye to our 13-year-old cat Gracie.

She was quite a character and very strong-willed. If she got it in her head to do something, mostly what she wasn’t supposed to do, she would find a way to get it done. Usually if you can get a cat distracted for a minute or two, she’ll forget all about what she was doing before. Not Gracie. As long as an hour later, I’d find her still trying to get into a cabinet or gleefully chasing one of my lost blood pressure pills around the kitchen.

Once I came home from work and found her sitting on the oven hood. But it was all right because she was on her way to the top of the refrigerator. At least that’s what her look told me.

Gracie also liked to sit on the back of the computer screen (before the advent of flat screens, of course). Probably her favorite spot was on the back of David’s recliner or on the arm of David’s recliner or in David’s lap.

Gracie was definitely David’s cat.

It didn’t start out that way 13 years ago when our daughter Alice found Gracie in the backyard of the house we were moving from. She called me at the house we were moving to and told me about this pitiful kitten that “we” just had to keep. I knew that the “we” meant “me” because she was in college and working and didn’t have time for a kitten. I didn’t either, but when I saw this little ball of fluff, I caved, just as Alice knew I would.

David and I have always had cats throughout our 45-year marriage. That’s not exactly right, though. David has tolerated cats throughout our marriage. He left all the care to me and the kids. He occasionally had burial duty, but that was about it. I took care of feeding, litter, vet visits, and love.

So when Gracie picked David to bond with, it was a real shocker for the rest of us. They seemed to be on the same wave length. Gracie would respond to him, showing that nobody else mattered.

This surprising bond didn’t happen immediately. Gracie came to us in 2002. In 2006, David was found to have a chronic, life-threatening illness and had to stop working immediately with no hope of ever working again. He had to sit at home with nothing to do.
During this time, David and Gracie spent a lot of time together. He would sit on the front porch with her in his lap. She loved it.

But mostly, she just loved being with David. She hated being separated from him. If he went outside and she could see him, she had a certain, loud “meow” she would use until he moved out of her line of sight or he came in the house.

Some people believe that we will see our pets again in heaven. Other people believe just the opposite. As I understand it, in heaven we will be completely fulfilled, completely happy, praising God and serving Him. In my earthly understanding, I would need my pets to be completely happy and fulfilled.

So if I can be completely happy and fulfilled without Twiggy, Misty, Nip, Charlie, Georgie, Hope, Samuel, Hobbes, and now Gracie – well, that’s going to take a miracle from God Almighty Himself. I’ll leave it to Him.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Where, Oh Where?

There’s a new commercial that starts out something like this:

“A year ago, when Mom started searching for her words, we started searching for the care she would need.”

Are you kidding? Being a mother alone has you searching for words for the rest of your life.

Early on, I couldn’t remember the names of my own children. And I only had two, one boy, one girl. You’d think that would be easy. No, I even got their names mixed up with the cats’, past and present, and my husband. Sometimes I would even throw in the grandparents’, maternal and paternal.

I have a deal in place now with my mother and my husband that if we’re out in public and I don’t introduce them to someone, it’s because I can’t remember their name. And by “their,” I mean either the person I speak with or my mother or husband’s name. They agreed because they do the same thing.

Other relatives are not immune from my occasional lapses. I called my newborn grandson Colvin several times before his real name of Colin finally set in. Fortunately, he was way too young to know the difference. I really had no defense since we had been calling him Colin before he was born through the magic of medical technology that tells you the sex, what the baby looks like, and at what age he’ll be able to program your remote control.

Sometimes I can get a little paranoid about it. For a while, I was convinced that my nephew Trey moved to Troy, Alabama, just to confuse his Aunt Carol. I would be talking to someone, saying, “My nephew, Trey… er.. that is… Troy.. no, lives in Trey.. no, that’s not right…” People would become alarmed and start to call 911, thinking I was having a stroke. I was glad when he and his family moved to Enterprise, Alabama, just a year or two later. I couldn’t handle the strain.

Another duo I get confused are my granddaughter Chloe and my great-niece Zoe. There is absolutely no excuse for this. I don’t see Zoe as often as I do Chloe, they don’t look alike, Zoe is older than Chloe – none of that matters. Their names are alike and that’s enough to scramble my brain.

Just the other day, I called one of the cats “Twiggy.” I was stunned. Twiggy was the first cat David and I owned. That was 45 years ago! I hadn’t thought of that cat, hadn’t seen a picture of him, hadn’t talked about him, nothing that would put his name in my head and out of my mouth.

So here’s a note to my kids: Maybe you’d better start looking for help when this senior quits reaching for words.

Just sayin’… 
The Fam -- May 2008

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Carol's Magic Carpet Ride

We call our 5th wheel camper the Condo Camper because it looks like a mini-condo you’d rent at the beach or in the Smoky Mountains. 

Since it was all fancy-dancy, I wanted everything to be the right color and the highest quality I could afford.

So of course I went to Wal-Mart to make my purchases. I found the perfect small waste basket and a cup, all brown plastic, but very tastefully done. They had a brown hand towel that would look great. All I needed was a small rug to step on when we came out of the shower.

I couldn’t believe Wal-Mart was selling this bathmat. It was a beautiful shade of brown, thick with foam and stitching that divided it into six sections. It cost more – a lot more – than I usually spend, but I couldn’t wait to get it in the Condo Camper.

This would be a good time to tell you that we are cat lovers. We have three of them at the moment: Gracie, Trudie and Satin. They go with us when we camp.

Yes, we are that crazy.

Our cats stay inside and have never been outside. They don’t seem to mind the confines of the camper. To them it’s just another place to eat, sleep, barf and poop.

Those last two are realities of owning a cat. It’s kind of like having small children who spit up and have to wear diapers except these kids never grow out of it.

So an important consideration always is where to put the litter box. Some campers build elaborate compartments to hide the box, but we took the easy way out as most campers do and put it in the shower.

You can count on loose litter around any litter box because the cats bring it out on their paws. Of course, this meant that they were depositing bits of litter on my new bath mat. I wasn’t worried about it. A good shake or two out the door would take care of it.

Our first camping trip was wonderful except the cat litter stuck to and embedded itself into the fibers of my beautiful bath mat. Shaking it out the door did absolutely nothing. Vacuuming did little good. I briefly considered tweezers, but cringed at the thought of tweezing my mat every night before bed.

I was very stubborn about it. I could have moved the mat and put it down only after showers, but that spot looked so lonely without it.

Finally, after two years of sulling up every time I looked at that stupid, litter-strewn mat, I decided to replace it. This time I bought a cheerful, bathroom rug of aqua, brown and white that I could easily shake out the door and wash when needed.

During the first week of camping this year, one of the cats barfed on the rug. When you have cats, you have a litter box and you deal with barf. It’s just the way it is.

I cleaned up the barf, but it left a small stain. The easy thing to have done would have been to leave it alone and pretend it was part of the pattern. Hardly anyone goes in there anyway. But I wanted to do the right thing, whatever it is that women do to keep their places clean.

So the next time we were at the house (we go home on Saturday nights), I washed the rug in a load by itself. When I checked on it, I found it sitting in water. The washer had gotten off balance by this little bath rug!

It was getting late and I didn’t want to have to stay up and babysit a rug in a washer. I set the washer to high spin and turned it on again. This is a fancy machine in many ways, but it will not start on the spin cycle. It only starts from the beginning. Great.

Later I eagerly checked it, thinking I’d put it in the dryer the next morning. Nope. It wasn’t exactly sitting in a puddle, but it was too wet for the dryer. 

David said, “Did you set it on low spin?”

“Low spin? No, I set it on high spin. How could it spin out all the water on low?”

“I told you this the last time. You have to set anything that puts the washer off balance on low spin in order to get enough water out to put it in the dryer.”

Ten years ago, this would have been the beginning of a pretty good argument. Now, though, we’ve run out of energy and we’ve stopped keeping score. We just cut to the chase. Less drama, but we get things done a whole lot faster.

David draped the rug over a chair on the patio. The nighttime temperatures have been in the 60’s, so we thought it would dry out enough to put in the dryer.

No, it did not. Can you believe this? We ended up putting it in a plastic bag, bringing it back to the camper, and spreading it out on the picnic table.
Actually, we spread it out on two picnic tables because we moved from one campground to another about an hour away.

I am not a good housekeeper, never have been and I guess never will be. A little cat litter doesn’t bother me. After living with cats my whole life, I just don’t notice it much. And when I did notice it much, it became an obsession. I was almost willing to tweeze a bath mat!

Fortunately, this strange rug that wouldn’t dry showed me to return to my laid back ways. A little barf stain on a rug that nobody but David and I and a few family members see is nothing to freak out about.

And the brown bath mat? You’ll find it on the table in the camper. Trudie loves to sleep on it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Pizza, Pizza... ?

Many years ago,  Alice and I were out shopping, and I decided to stop at Little Caesar’s for a pizza. It would be a surprise for David because I rarely brought supper home. I would always talk myself out of it, thinking of all the things I could fix at home that wouldn’t cost anything.

But for some reason, I had decided that that night we were having pizza. Alice was around 10 years old, so she went into the Little Caesar’s with me. I didn’t want her sitting in the car by herself for the 15 minutes it would take.

(I guess I should insert here that I was born in Iowa and moved to Alabama in 1960 when I was 8 years old. To this day, people ask me where I’m from because of the way I talk.)

There was a young man at the counter in Little Caesar’s. I placed my order and then he asked for my name.

“Weeks,” I said.

“Beeks?” he asked.

“No, Weeks with a W,” I said slowly, enunciating as much as I could.

“Oh,” he said, “Weeks. Is that w-e-e-k-s or w-e-a-k-s?”

“It’s Weeks, w-e-e-k-s, like days and weeks and months.”

“Oh, okay,” he said, as he wrote Beeks on the order form.

I looked at Alice and she looked at me. I shrugged as he handed me my receipt. There weren’t any other customers in the place, so, what the heck – we’ll be Beeks for 15 minutes. No one will ever know.

It was obvious that Little Caesar’s discouraged people from waiting around because they had the most uncomfortable bench ever. But we sat down, hoping it wouldn’t take very long.

About 10 minutes later, who should walk in the door but David! He had had the same thought – pizza for dinner tonight. He didn’t see us as he moved toward the counter.

“Oh, look!” I said in a loud voice. “It’s Mr. Beeks!”

David froze as he looked at us, smiling at him like idiots.

Later he told me he felt he was in the Twilight Zone. 

Apparently, here were his wife and daughter in a place where they normally would not be found, and his wife of 17 years had just called him a name that was not his. He half expected Rod Serling to jump out from behind the counter with a cigarette in one hand and a pizza box in the other with some weird explanation of the whole thing.

Surprising David is so much fun! His look was priceless, and that’s why, 28 years later, I’m still surprising him.

Stay tuned for the latest developments… 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bowled Over… Sorta

When David and I first started dating, he took me bowling, just assuming that I knew how to do it.

He had an awful lot to learn about me.

I don’t do sports. I don’t participate in sports. I don’t know how. And even if I did know how, I couldn’t do whatever is required. My body is pretty much not going to cooperate in any sport I attempt.

The first D I ever got in school was in PE (physical education). My PE teacher was a very unreasonable woman who truly believed that everyone was capable of everything. It didn’t help that the Olympics were that year and televised for the first time ever. The whole nation had been glued to the TV to watch these little pixies run across the floor and jump, spin and gracefully hit the floor with a series of somersaults.

This is what my teacher forced upon us. Oh, come on! If my performance or lack thereof was not enough to rethink her notion that everyone is an Olympian athlete, she must have been on the fringes of mental illness. I felt like I was smack dab in the middle of mental illness after trudging through her class. At least I wasn’t alone; most of the class regularly disappointed her.

That was in 9th grade. When I got to 10th grade, my PE teacher was wonderful. She knew just by looking at me that I wasn’t going to be doing any gymnastics, so she gave me and several others easier things to do. I got an A in her class. Bless her heart, she’d give you an A if you showed up, dressed out (put on the dumb PE suit, a giant, green onesie), and put forth an honest effort.

But back to David and bowling and the ridiculous notion that I knew anything about it.

I guess you can’t really blame David. He practically grew up in a bowling alley. His mother had the highest female average in the southeast for two years running along with all kinds of other trophies and ribbons.

David himself won lots of tournaments. He impressed me just by having his own bowling ball and shoes. And, boy, could he throw that ball down the alley. He threw it more than rolled it. His mother said he was showing off for me. It worked. I was duly impressed.

After he had gone through his repertoire of fancy moves and had seen the adoration in my eyes, he decided to teach me how to bowl. So he carefully selected a ball for me, which I thought was way too heavy – actually, I thought they were all way too heavy – and I changed into icky shoes that 4,000 other people had worn before me.

He took me to the farthest lane against the wall so I wouldn’t be as distracted and showed me where to stand and how to hold the ball and how to line it up with where I wanted to throw it and how to take a few steps and how to let go of it. Easy-peasy. Well, maybe for you, but not for me. As I recall, I threw a gutter ball, the first of many. David looked at me in disbelief.

“Let’s do it again,” he said, in a tone I wouldn’t call encouraging.
So he got me all lined up, repeated all the directions, let me go, and I threw another gutter ball, this time on the other side.

David couldn’t believe it. How could this have happened? He had given me all the right information – twice! – so why was I not at least keeping it between the gutters?

I was oblivious to how important bowling was for him, what it meant to him and to his family. I looked at it as just a game. So I really wasn’t very concerned that I couldn’t do it. Actually, I would have been more surprised if I had hit any of those pins way down on the other end of the lane.

Before I could do anymore damage to our budding relationship, David’s mother came to the rescue. She gave bowling lessons, so she was used to klutzes like me who would nearly get their thumb stuck in the wrong hole.

I eventually became semi-competent at the game. It was obvious that that was as far as I was capable of going. Which was fine with me.

I still thought the ball was too heavy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Flash by Rachel Anne Ridge

I started this book pretty well ignorant of donkeys. I knew one when I saw one, but that was about it. Or maybe those were mules I was seeing. Not important. 

What’s important is that the author takes this donkey that appeared out of nowhere, named it Flash, and then gleaned life lessons from it. And the life lessons are good ones, too, not just for donkeys but more for humans.

Flash is the hero of this true story, even though the local sheriff pronounced him worthless. The author, Rachel, decided to keep him, in spite of her family’s business had taking a big hit in the 2008 recession and they really didn’t need another mouth to feed.

But Flash, who always did things his way no matter what, was well worth the extra time and expense. Rachel would have a bad day and go talk to Flash, and somehow just talking about it would help her see clearly what the problem was and what to do about it. Flash did his part by just plodding through each day, showing patience, perseverance and love.

I liked this book a lot. Frankly, I didn’t think I would. But Rachel and Flash changed my mind.

Tyndale House Publishers furnished me this book and asked that I give a fair and accurate review. This I have done.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Book Review: One Minute After You Die by Erwin W. Lutzer

The stated purpose of this book is to study what the Bible has to say about life after death. It covers that and more.

The author points out that we have no right to see into heaven and then tell what we have found; therefore, we must get all of our information from the Bible.

From channeling, purgatory, a restful sleep, and the death of infants to a lesson in how to die, this book covers it all.

From the title of this book, I wondered how the author (or any author, for that matter) could write a whole book about so precise a subject. He only had to explain one minute.

He solves that by going into a lot of other things surrounding death, explaining it through God’s word. Although most of it was interesting, it took him nearly half the book to get to the title subject.

He goes into great detail about the new bodies Christians will have, including their personalities. He rightly reminds us that even though Christ will be on the other side, we must never forget that He walks with us now on this side of the curtain.

By backing up most of what he says with scripture, this book is reassuring because it focuses on what happens after death. I would recommend this book as a comfort to those who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

However, a lot of this is irrelevant to me. Maybe my faith is too simple, but the only thing I need to know is that Christ will continue to walk with me. I don’t need to know the difference between sheol, hades and purgatory.

Moody Publishers provided this book to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. We have both held up our end of the deal. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Do What, Now?

I’m a big fan of common sense. This story does not contain very much of it.

I was working for an attorney in the mid-to-late 90’s. Fax machines were the newest thing in office equipment. The paper was a roll of waxy paper that fed through the machine where the stuff being faxed was written (the magic part). Each fax machine had its own supply of paper.

When you tore the paper off after a fax came through, you used a cutter thingy like you see on aluminum foil boxes. That wasn’t very helpful since I have a history of wrestling with the foil box and eventually pulling the whole roll out and not using the cutter thing at all.

After somehow tearing the paper off the fax, then came the fun part of individually cutting the pages apart. And if that wasn’t enough fun, then you had to rub them backwards on the edge of a table to get them to lay somewhat flat and not return to their original shape while on the roll.

Those of us of a certain age will remember doing this to Polaroid pictures. It wasn’t that much fun then, either.

When the roll got to a certain point, it would have a reddish stain down the middle of it. This was to tell you that the paper was about to run out and it was time to put a new roll on. Kind of like the paper in an adding machine or cash register.

I did not like the fax machine because it took a lot of work with little return. At that time, the courts would not accept anything faxed. For an attorney’s office, that wasn’t very helpful.

One day I was alone in the office, working away, when the phone rang. It was the secretary of another attorney in town. She was mad.

“I just got your fax,” she huffed. “You need to change your paper.”

“What?” was my professional reply.

“You need to change your paper. It’s got a red streak on it.”

“No, that’s your paper. It’s on your fax machine. My paper doesn’t have anything to do with it.”

“Listen, you need to change your paper because my boss can’t have this red ink on these documents.”

“Check your fax machine and you’ll see that it’s almost out of paper.”

She was really worked up by now. “No!” she practically shouted at me. “It’s not my fax. It’s your fax and you need to fix it!”

I sighed, trying to make a decision. Should I keep arguing with her or should I take the short route and just agree with her?

Didn’t take much thought.

“OK,” I said. “I’ll take care of it.”

It’s like I always say: Beg as loud as you can for good common sense. Proverbs 2:3

Friday, April 24, 2015

From the Other Side

Last week I wrote about customer service and how frustrating it is when my role as a customer is not the focal point of the clerk.

I’ve never been a retail clerk, but I did work as the small claims/district civil clerk in the Circuit Clerk’s Office where I served the public every day.

Most of my customers were very nice, polite folks. Some were real stinkers.

I had one customer who was always a little too friendly, if you get my drift. Each time he came in, he would be sure to tell me that his wife was out of town for the weekend and he just didn’t know what he was going to do without her. On the day he finally got up enough nerve to actually ask me to accompany him to a local dance, there was a co-worker in the next room who heard every word. It was all I could do to keep it together, because I knew she was in there silently laughing her head off.

Sometimes it was hard not to laugh, though. When a young man came in and wanted to have his marriage “annoyed,” I laughed a little and said, “I think you’re way past annoyed.”

One lady was suing the driver of the car that had run into her truck. After she left, I looked at the form to see what details she had added. I saw “mintle angus” and thought maybe they had hit a cow named Mintle. Then I realized she meant “mental anguish.” I’m glad she wasn’t there when I read that, because I don’t think I could have kept from laughing.

A couple of times, customers insisted they were not on the second floor of our building, that they had not come upstairs via the stairs or the elevator. I told them that they may not have come up, but they were going to have to go down to get out.

What aggravated me the most, though, were the folks who insisted on arguing about how things should be done.

The conversation would be something like this:

“Walter owes me money, so I want to garnish his check.”

“Do you have a lawsuit against Walter?”

“No, I just want to get my money out of his check.”

“You’ll have to sue him first and try to get a judgment against him.”

“No,” getting a little exasperated, “you don’t understand. Walter owes me money and I want to get it from his check. He works down at the chicken plant.”

“I’m sorry,” getting a lot exasperated, “but you’ll have to sue him first. That’s how it works.”

“Do you mean to tell me that I can’t get my money out of Walter’s check unless I take him to court?”

“Yes, that’s what I mean. Would you like to fill out a complaint to get the ball rolling?”

At this point, some would walk away in a huff, railing against the injustice of it all. Some would just stand there and stare at me in disbelief.

Sometimes I would have to tell them they needed to see an attorney. There was only so much that could be done in small claims court, so seeing an attorney would be the next step.

One guy asked me about suing someone for $100,000 in small claims. I dutifully said that he couldn’t use small claims court for that amount and he would need to see an attorney. He used up the next five minutes asking me the same question five different ways. My answer was the same each time. 

Finally, I interrupted his sixth try and said, “No matter what you say to me, I’m going to tell you to see an attorney.” 

He looked puzzled and then said, “Oh, I have to see an attorney about this?” 

“Yes,” I said. 

“Okay,” he said agreeably. “Thank you for your help.”

I’m still shaking my head over that one.

Friday, April 17, 2015


My mother is obviously elderly. She doesn’t look her 93 years, but she is obviously elderly. I make this point because when she was at the beauty school for a pedicure and tried to sit in the chair, she actually sat in the water! Her rear was soaked, so they gave her a towel to sit on. After the pedicure, they offered another towel to use in the car, but she declined.

It’s a funny story that Mom tells on herself. She didn’t get hurt, just wet.

I say all that to say this: No one offered to help her into that weirdo chair with the water hazard.

Good customer service is hard to find. When Alice was about 12 years old, she said I ought to teach a class on how to go about pleasing the customer who is standing right there in front of you.

She made this astute remark every time we went shopping because on each trip I would rant and rave all the way home at how awful the clerks were. I loudly pointed out every detail of every failure I had seen.

This may be why Alice was such a good retail clerk as she helped pay her way through college. She probably heard my voice pounding in her head, saying things like, “Don’t ignore the customer,” and “If you’re on the phone and a customer walks up – and I can’t emphasize this too much – HANG UP THE PHONE!”

What I really do not understand is their misperception that I am not vital to their job. It makes sense when you think about it. Tick off enough people and they will stop coming to your employer’s store, the place will go out of business and then – guess what? YOU LOSE YOUR JOB! This concept puts the customer at the highest level, with the employee there to serve them, make them happy, let them believe that you are grateful for their participation in this little slice of your life.

But let me be clear about this. I know there are lots of wonderful clerks out there; it’s just that I rarely find one.

The blame lies with the employers. They are either not training their people well, or they’re not supervising them closely enough. I know it takes a lot of effort to effectively train someone. I have heard that some places just stick a new clerk on a cash register, tell them what all the buttons mean, and then they are on their own. With stores frequently cutting personnel, they don’t have enough supervisory folks to watch everything. I understand that.

So how does Chick-Fil-A do it? Have you been to their place? If not, here’s what your experience will be:

Every employee will seem genuinely happy to see you. If they catch your eye, they will give you a big smile, even though they may not be the clerk that takes your order. That clerk will ask you what you’d like to eat. If you hesitate, they will gently suggest different ways you can buy your chicken. They do not appear to be in any hurry whatsoever. They are not talking to someone else while you stand there trying to decide. They competently answer all questions. They do all this with a smile. After you have paid for your meal, they wish you a good day. When you say “Thank you,” they say “My pleasure.”

My pleasure.” What a great comeback. What a wonderful way to show that you value your customer. Even if I don’t particularly like what I’ve ordered, I still feel good because I’ve been treated so well.

Being a retired clerk, I know that there can be some stinkers out there who can be a royal pain. But I’m not one of them – usually.

All I’m asking for is some respect, and that should do the trick.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Agent with a History by Guy S. Stanton, III

In this first entry of his series Agents for Good, prolific writer Guy S. Stanton, III, takes on the task of moving New York Police Detective Lisa Candace Tauranto through a series of action-packed adventures.  The detective, a beautiful woman by any standard, has a past that just won’t stay there. As she tries to untangle the connections to a crime that includes torturing the victim, she finds herself being sucked into an evil vortex that links her past to her present. There is a treasure out there that many, including her own father, are trying to find before anyone else gets the prize of wealth beyond imagination.

I enjoyed this book because of its stand against abusing women. I did have a problem in that while God was mentioned favorably several times, the ending was not, in my opinion, a Christian solution.

If you want adventures that rival those of Indiana Jones with a lot of clean romance thrown in, this is the book for you.

The author provided me with a free copy of his book in exchange for a fair and honest review. We have both kept our ends of the bargain.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Annie's Stories by Cindy Thomson

Annie’s Stories was a good read. I loved the character of Annie’s father, a storyteller from the old Irish tradition. Even though he didn’t play a big role in the story, his presence was felt throughout.
Annie’s “Da” dies, and from that point she goes through very difficult times. It is almost beyond her strength to struggle through each day in a terrible laundry, a place where girls were forced to live and work, a place where the doctor who was supposed to help them would harm them instead. Annie felt that God was not there in that laundry and she turned away from Him.

One day she was suddenly swept away from her prison and sent to America. Her new home was a boardinghouse in Lower Manhattan in New York City. She worked there as a housekeeper. She didn’t understand why these things were happening to her.

Annie was very homesick and grieving deeply for her father’s passing. The only thing she had of his was a beautiful writing desk with stories he had written down just for her. Or so she thought.

The plot of this book moves along at a good pace. The characters are well-defined and believable. The era in which the book takes place was described very well. The ending was satisfying. Weaving God, faith and forgiveness throughout the book was well done.

This book will be available June 13, 2015.

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. We have both kept our end of the bargain.

And don't forget: Beg as loud as you can for good common sense!   Proverbs 2:3

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Sound of Music Story by Tom Santopietro

It doesn’t seem possible that the Sound of Music was filmed 50 years ago. But according to this author, it nearly didn’t get filmed at all.

There were problems of every kind, and Mr. Santopietro goes through each one, explaining the difficulties faced by all who were tasked with making this Broadway hit into a blockbuster movie.

Julie Andrews, playing Maria von Trapp, was at the peak of her career. Her character was part of almost every scene, so her singing, dancing and acting skills were such that she carried the movie along seemingly effortlessly. Her rare 4-octave voice was perfect, and she hit it just right every time she lip synched to her prerecorded songs.

The movie doesn’t really follow the true lives of Maria, the Captain and the seven children. The basic premise is there: Maria starts out by being a novice at the age of 19 at the strictest convent in the world, and she did love the mountains and would hike throughout them for hours at a time. The Captain used a whistle to locate his children and dressed them in sailor suits. Maria starts her relationship with the family first as a nanny and then later  marrying her employer. The children sang with Maria’s help, and music became almost second-nature to them. After defying the Nazis, it became necessary to leave their homeland of Austria.

The rest of the movie is fiction, some based on truth but changed to accommodate the film.

The real von Trapp family is interesting enough even without The Sound of Music. But learning how some very talented people were able to take just a bit of their history and turn it into something meaningful to people all over the world is fascinating.

We learn how each spot on the production team was chosen and how each actor was chosen. The children were especially important to cast correctly.

The author tells the von Trapp story and the Sound of Music story at the same time, going back and forth between the two. He follows the von Trapps and all the actors through the 50 years since the film debuted.
I found the book to be rather long. I know the author was trying to include everything, but I was getting a little weary by the time I finished it.

This book is perfect for someone wanting to know how a movie is made and equally perfect for a fan of The Sound of Music.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.