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…During Thanksgiving Dinner: Part 1

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Hope you kids enjoyed your holiday! There’s nothing more American than giving thanks for what you have, then 8 hours later punching someone in the face over a TV. We sure do know how to be grateful! *tiptoes away from soapbox*

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The food and the shopping are now so close in competition that I’m not sure which one excites people more, but I do know that everyone eats. A lot. Thanksgiving is one of a few days when 250 million people eat the same meal: turkey, ham, stuffing (dressing if you’re from the South), deviled eggs, candied yams, mac-n-cheese, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes & gravy, pecan/pumpkin/sweet potato pie, etcetera, etcetera… And it’s usually the women of the family—even though men who cook are sexy—slinging the pots & pans. Now, friends… the most abominable thing any holiday cook can ever do is invite”guests” into the kitchen. HOLIDAYS ARE NOT THE TIME FOR BEGINNERS! It never fails that somebody brings a dish that’s under-cooked, too salty, or missing some ingredients. I blame the host/hostess for allowing such infractions, but you should observe certain decorum when figuring out what to eat & what to avoid.

#1: If you don’t know what it is, don’t eat it. Don’t even put it on your plate. You’re obligated to at least try it once you dig in the dish, and it gets a little weird when you try to eat unidentifiable substances. Not to mention, your family will see what’s left on your plate. You’ll most certainly get yourself caught in a lie trying to explain why you didn’t like Cousin Jane’s Corn Casserole Surprise.

#2: If you don’t know who made it, discreetly ask. Don’t disdainfully blurt it out, because Cousin Jane’s probably gonna give you the stank face for the remainder of the evening and future family gatherings, leading to other problems (to be discussed in part 2).

#3: If you don’t see anyone else eating it, follow suit. There’s no way everybody in the family got it wrong, so take notes & skip the stuff grandma didn’t want. That way, if someone gets pissed, you fall under the umbrella of offenders, and you can’t be singled out.

If these things don’t seem to work, stop for a burger, get to dinner late, scope the table out, and ask your uncle if you can make a to-go plate. Not only can you specifically pick what you want to eat, you can also taste while no one’s looking. Getting to dinner late means everyone’s already watching football & making afternoon nap preparations: no one’s still in the kitchen or at the table.

Since we’ve already passed the big day, reserve today’s tips for Christmas dinner. I’m sorry if you needed this a few days ago, and I hope you made it through the day with minimal issues. Stay tuned for part 2, because we still have a lot to talk about.

…When You Get Caught In A Lie

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Friend: “Hey! I’m having a few friends over this weekend for some drinks & food. You should come!”

You: “You know, I might come by… What time?”

Friend: “Eight-ish? It won’t be formal, so people will probably start showing up around that time.”

You: “Ok, cool! I’ll see you then.”

The weekend’s come and gone, but your lying ass didn’t make the get-together. And you had no intentions of going when you said it. Usually, this happens with “friends” you’ve made in class, at your job, through your real friends, or former acquaintances you randomly run into. I wonder why we do that? “Hey, can you help me move?” You’re thinking, “Of course not,” but you say, “Yeah, just let me know.” Is it rude to tell the truth? I’ve asked myself if I’d be mad at someone for telling me no, because while it seems logical that the truth would be greatly appreciated, the sting of rejection (that is, the perceived sting the other person will feel) causes us to blurt out a lie. We’ve collectively decided, I guess, that people we aren’t that cool with don’t deserve our honesty.

A few weeks later….

(You see that same friend at a distance, but you’re unable to avoid him/her. Before the interaction, you’re mumbling obscenities & planning your story.)

Friend: “Hey, there! How are you? What’s been up?

You: “Hey, I’m good. I’ve just been chillin’. Work, school, life….”

Friend: “I was looking for you to come by a few weekends ago; what happened?”

You: “Oh, I wasn’t feeling too well, and my brother needed a ride from work. Plus, I had a lot of homework and just wanted to chill at home. But next time, I’m definitely in there!”

Friend (half-heartedly): “Ok, sounds good. I’ll make sure I let you know.”

You (embarrassed): “…Yeah. Text me or something.”

After that sorry explanation, you have not only proven you’re a liar, you’ve also excluded yourself from future gatherings. AND, you’ve ruined your friendship-in-the-making. What a loser! You should always keep a handful of loose acquaintances, because they’re great place-keepers for times when your real friends can’t be there for you. Plus, if you maintain the understood rules of this type of relationship, you can earn the right to flake, and it’s all good.

For future reference, know that you’re obligated to keep the first invitation you agree to, especially if it’s the first engagement excluding the mutual friend. You don’t necessarily have to be totally committed, but you do have to put forth enough effort to remain cordial. If that’s too much for you, accept your existence in solitude.

…When You Make a Fool of Yourself in Public

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Recently, I helped my bestie celebrate her *coughs* 25th birthday, and we definitely celebrated! You know you’ve had a good time when you wake up the next morning (or afternoon… or evening) wearing crusty eyeliner with a trash can in front of you. I didn’t need all of that, though, because seared in my memory was my greatest moment of glory. I got so excited that I fell on my ass in the middle of a crowd of strangers. If that isn’t loyalty and dedication, I can’t tell you what is! I really wanted my friendto know that I was down for her, so much so that I gave her a literal interpretation of the colloquialism. Captain BFF to the rescue!

That’s only half true, so here’s the story.

After overindulging in our favorite libations, many of which we didn’t pay for, we decided to dance (a.k.a. stand in a circle and awkwardly move our bodies to a beat that only we heard). Now, I feel the need to explain some things. First, I’m not the token drunk friend: ever. As a matter of fact, I’m the friend who gives the other friends the “don’t get drunk & embarrass me” speech before the debauchery begins. Also, if I do get too drunk when I’m in public, I quietly excuse myself before my self-respect and margaritas hit the floor. So, my friends, when I found myself unintentionally sitting in the middle of the dance floor, I knew something was wrong.

I didn’t get too drunk and just fall; I had on shoes which failed to properly grip the floor. If your B.S. meter just went off, I can’t blame you. If I was hearing this story, I’d think the same thing. However, it’s the truth! I was completely caught off guard, because there was no moment of revelation; you know, that split second when you fortuitously see what’s gonna happen without being able to stop it. Hell. No. In one moment, I was “dancing” with my friends, then one faulty step later, I was looking up at everyone! No slow motion fall, either. I smacked the floor much like a babylearning to walk. Definitely not as cute & apologetic as a little kid, though.

It gets worse.

I’m on the brink of tears, and all I need is a helping hand to reassure me that everything’s ok. And where do you think my friends were? On the other side of the room! Talk about awkward… I look up, and the assistance extended to me comes from the guy who wanted to get my friend’s number before I ruined his game plan. Once I located those Benedicts, they offered consolation through sincere attempts to stifle the laughter erupting inside them. My sweet friends! LOL

All that said, I don’t really know what to offer as a solution to this situation. I spent the rest of the night sitting on the sideline, crying and begging for the keys. So when this happens to you, let me know what you come up with.

…When Your Personal Space Disappears

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We Americans value our rights. You know, it’s all those inherited entitlements we so dearly treasure. We can organize rallies in protest of laws or print exposés about the politicians we love to hate, and our government will protect us. We can say almost whatever we want or worship any god we choose, because the “Long Arm Of The Law” keeps us covered. But, (and there’s always a but) our most prized entitlement has no protection.

I’m a Walmart fiend. Doesn’t matter what time of day it is, doesn’t matter how much money I don’t have: I’m always at Walmart. Aside from the fact that they only open 6 of the 87 checkout lanes available, I always end up in line with a Personal Space Violator. And y’all know what I’m talking about… it’s the person who thinks you’re trying to advance the line every time you inch closer to the conveyor belt. The worst part? In your efforts to defend your space, you end up becoming a P.S.V. yourself! Don’t even try to explain your actions, because once you’ve intruded, there’s no excuse to justify the infraction. Now everybody’s pissed off and uncomfortable (a dangerous combination in Walmart), trying to regain a reasonable amount of breathing room. The P.S.V. won’t limit infractions to the grocery store, either. You can find these criminals all in your sangria at the bar, looking in your back pocket in the parking deck, or even picking your boogers on the train. You don’t have to identify yourselves, but I know some of y’all are habitual P.S.V.’s! Fret not; help is on the way!

Pictured below is the Personal Space Diagram, followed by a brief explanation of each category:

1.) Social – reserved for waiting in line (i.e. – grocery store, bathroom, fast food restaurants); 2.) Personal – acceptable in large groups, or in places where personal space is limited (i.e. – public transportation, bars, clubs, sporting events; 3.) Intimate – only appropriate with individuals you would kiss, hug, or tell secrets (no examples necessary)

There’s obviously some flexibility within each category, because we don’t all have the same aversions to strangers (or creepers we’ve come to love). However, this guide works well when you need to figure out if someone’s all in your grill. On the flip side, you can use this to stay out of other people’s space. The most important thing here is everyone’s comfort level. It takes time to learn people, so a few initial violations are ok. But if you continuously ignore someone’s personal space, you’ll turn into the weirdo nobody wants to be around. And I don’t want to see that happen to anyone!

…When Someone Refuses Your Refusal

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I work in retail, meaning I spend about 25 hours a week folding clothes, smiling at babies, dressing mannequins, and telling lies about how good people look in too little t-shirts. My primary responsibility is running the cash register, and let me tell you, some customers are real assholes. If you’re one of these assholes, you’re going to be mad at me. That’s totally fine, though, because I’m only telling the truth. You can direct all your concerns to management.

I’m sure most of y’all are polite and courteous, so please try to contain your judgment.

I don’t want to be too hard on our rude counterparts, because we all have bad days. However, it seems the worst of the worst always come through my line! They’re usually mad at their spouse, late for a meeting, shopping during lunch break, chasing children around the store, talking on the phone/texting, or generally just too busy to wait in line. So by the time they reach the register, they’re ready for war! I put on my fake smile & attempt to make the experience positive for all those involved, but these people always make things more difficult than they have to be. They argue about signs & prices, telling me how wrong I am for charging them too much. Which, might I add, is not my fault, because I’m only scanning barcodes; it’s the system’s fault. After I change the prices, I’m then wrong because I agreed to meet their needs. But the worst thing I can possibly do is deny them discounts! Wanna see a soccer mom pissed off? Tell her she can’t use a coupon.

Here’s how it goes…

The customer gets to the end of the transaction and says, “Oh, I have a coupon I want to use.” I already know that the coupon is either expired or invalid, but because I’m such a great employee, I pretend to review the thing anyway. Now, I’ve already prepped my statement, and I can pretty much predict how the conversation will proceed. I’ll politely tell my customer, “I’m sorry, we can’t use your coupon because it expired yesterday,” and she will say, “You’re sure? (I nod yes.) Awww! Ok.” But you know what my customers do? They completely catch me off guard and say, “What do you mean I can’t use my coupon?” I repeat myself like a dumbass, thinking that if I say it again or differently, I’ll elicit a different reaction. I have no idea what I’m supposed to say in return, because I wasn’t prepared for this line of questioning, you jerk. So not only do I stand there looking stupid, I also try to bounce back & figure out how to proceed. (This is where you should press pause.)

“What do YOU mean questioning me?! My job isn’t to subjectively decide when I can override policies & honor your damn discounts! I am to pass the information to you directly from upper management. No interpretations, no flexibility. And guess what, ma’am? If I did have the power to make that decision (and sometimes I do), your stank ass attitude just helped me decide to say no!” I’ve always wanted to say that, but I’d definitely lose my job. Here’s how I handle this awkward situation, instead.

I try to troubleshoot on my own, looking for the best way to appease my customer without violating any store policies. I convey a sympathetic and understanding apology, and restate why I can’t honor the coupon. This usually works, restoring the balance of power. When it doesn’t work, I step aside and allow my manager to handle the situation. By the end of the transaction, the customer saves her money & I can scratch 20 more minutes from my shift. Ironically, the 10% they waste their time fighting for only saves them a few dollars… Idiots. (Insert evil villain laugh)

My advice to you, dear friends, is to believe what your cashier tells you. If the person in front of you seems sketchy, politely ask for an explanation or a manager; in this business, pleasantries really do go a long way. Try your best to understand the stress of retail, and be a good customer.

Above all else, don’t come through my line with that kind of bullshit, because you won’t get your way.