Where the hampster wheel always turns

About Me

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Middle aged underweight high school graduate
"It is not advisable James to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener." - Francisco d'Anconia, Atlas Shrugged
"The soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut taxes now." - John F. Kennedy

Would You Like Fries With That?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I ventured out into the world, and of course, was accosted by humanity.

Followers of my escapades know I'm a relatively low-maintenance person. Jeans, sneakers, an occasional brow wax with psychological stress thrown in for good measure. I've been reflecting on how many organization gurus have a schedule of household maintenance things we should follow. Things like: every six months you should get that long brushy-like thing and clean the lint out of your dryer hose so your house doesn't catch on fire from the build up. Yeah, I've never done that. We're supposed to clean out our freezers every year, discarding the items we have frozen if they are past the expiration date we put on them when we put them in there in the first place. I solved that one - I don't write anything on them so not only can I not tell when things expire in my freezer, I cannot tell what those things are. I have been known to defrost what I thought was peaches only to discover it was hamburger. For the record - that is when I toss it.

One schedule I do follow religiously is the oil change. OK, this is mainly because a little light illuminates on my dashboard that says "maintenance required" and I feel guilted into action. Today was my oil change day, which also means - ta-da, it was car wash day!!! I get a free car wash with my oil change and this makes me happy!

Driving onto the lot, I am motioned vigorously by an attendant who is desperate for me to pull into his lane. Guiding my landing like a ground air-traffic controller I pull up and roll down my window.

My new best friend is super excited to see me on this lovely day and starts with a feisty "Good Morning!"

It's one in the afternoon and I'm gnawing on a piece of pizza so he quickly corrects himself and says, "Well, you're enjoying lunch so it must be afternoon. Good afternoon maam!"


I swallow my bite and start to say I would like an oil change and a car wash please when he interrupts me with a dire emergency that needs my immediate attention.

"Maam, maam, can I show you something? Maam, winter is an important time to address the changing needs of your vehicle. Paint finishes need extra attention as we go into the winter months..."

He has opened my door and is trying to get me out of my car to see the horrible corrosion that has taken place and needs addressing by his amazing detail service. I grab the open windowsill and hold fast to my door saying "No, no thanks."

OK, let's get real here. I drive a minivan. Not just any minivan, an old, utilitarian, functional minivan that we keep in working order for hauling kids around town. It was purchased over a decade ago. It has never been "detailed", waxed, buffed or any of the high-end things people who celebrate their cars do to them. This is a minivan. The idea that suddenly we need to care for the paint finish this year is quite frankly, absurd.

Also, I drive this minivan because I have kids. Kids whose hygiene is questionable at best. AND, I drive other people's kids. All kids are gross. Have you seen kids before? They spill, shed, poop, barf, pee, leech, scrap, slough, chuck, fling and ooze all manner of fluids and solids. At any moment some sort of projectile is either on deck or being expelled by every single one of them. It is with this spirit that I drive the minivan. I maintain general levels of automotive cleanliness, which they promptly dishevel until the next oil change.

So this guy trying to convince me that the season change in Arizona requires an upgrade to my auto cleaning regimen is a non sequitur.

Now the guy is pulling on my door. PULLING ON MY DOOR! Yeah, this is gonna end well.

For the record, I totally understand the up-sell. It is an important component of successful capitalism and I wholeheartedly support it. It is fine with me if you ask me if I want fries and a drink with my veggie burger. If I say "yes" you make more money. If enough people get fries and a drink that means you stay in business so that I can keep coming back to buy my veggie burger. Ask away.

BUT...once I answer... LET GO OF MY FREAKING DOOR!!!!

I pull the door back, slamming it shut and say firmly, "no THANK ... YOU. Just an oil change and the free car wash."

To no avail. He keeps on keepin' on about how my paint finish will suffer irreparable damage. How the value of my vehicle will diminish and how he can save me from a fate worse than death.

I start to roll up my window and... yep, you guessed it... HE STICKS HIS ARM IN MY CAR!!!!

At this point I'm totally freaking out. I look around with a panic, and notice the manager is watching him reach in my car as I'm rolling up the window and he yells at the guy who starts to yank his arm back, but has wedged it, past the elbow, in the small remaining space and can't get it out easily. A nicer patron would have rolled down her window a little to help the guy out, but I was MAD, MAD, MAD so I just watched him try and extricate himself as I gave him the stink-eye.

Gathering up my stuff I rush into the building and wait for the oil change to finish. I'm a little flustered, but mostly just annoyed at the aggressiveness, until I go up to pay.

"That will be $60" the cashier says.

"WHAT? All I got was an oil change with the free car wash!"

"Well, Maam, you have this detailing charge for the detailing package you ordered."


Just to be clear: I did not pay $60. The manager knows my name. The aggressive salesman knows my name. The establishment has sticky note posted behind the counter with my name. AND, I got two extra stamps on my loyalty card in the hope and prayer that I might possibly come in to their establishment again. Ever.

I Need a New Day Job

Monday, November 8, 2010

I love cooking. I watch Food Network in my spare time. I teach sold-out cooking classes across the country. I dream of going to a minimal time commitment, low-cost culinary school. The side-effect of this lay person's novice interest in food has been that I'm sort of a food snob. I don't like a lot of processed food. Buffets scare me, and I'm regularly depressed when eating out to find the food not as good as I can make at home.

The challenge of my interest in food has been coming up with things to cook. Regularly my family is in charge of choosing what they would like, because the planning is what often stumps me. So imagine my delight when driving with my kids yesterday and they have a request for Monday dinner! I'm all a twitter with what delicacy they are going to request. Mushroom ravioli with shaved parmesan and truffle oil? Chicken picatta with WOW risotto? Quinoa bolognese? Some of my creations are on their top ten list and I'm anticipating what they're going to request.

"Ok mom, my friend had these for dinner this week and they were awesome!"

Now I'm really curious. I love awesome food!

"So mom, we want SPAGHETTI TACOS!!"

Gasp! (Gag & vomit a little in my mouth) "WHAT???"

"Yeah mom, they talk about them on iCarly (TV show for pubescents) and they sound really good!"

Again, another glaring example of how I have failed as a mother. I thought I had trained them to have discretionary palates. Clearly they will eat out of the trash like the rest of America.

After a sleepless night of tossing and turning over my failure, I decide they should indeed have their wish. Because I am such a smart and wise parent I realize this will work like reverse psychology and I will look like the supportive, giving parent that I dream of being one day.

So there I am - tongs dangling with cooked spaghetti in one hand taco shell in the other. Grappling at what my kids have reduced me to. I decide they can stuff their own tacos and put the whole culinary menagerie on the table. Their delight is palpable, my despair is as well. They readily dig in, stuffing pasta into the shells like they've waited their entire lives for this gourmet marriage. For the record, before you get any ideas, this is not like the chocolate-meets-peanut butter marriage. I mean it is pasta and a taco shell.

Of course, Karma being what it is, Unnamed Child #1 has a dinner guest - so other people will know about this travesty. The guest even reports that they told their mother about our menu when asking if they could stay for dinner. There goes my lecture career.

The kids are oohing and ahhing and mmmmmmmming at their dinner...I'm trying to figure out how to take a bite without committing to a whole taco. I break off a piece of shell and tentatively taste the whole mess. In all honesty it was not bad, but it was not good either. As I'm crunching away our guest says,

"It tastes just like Chef Boyardee ravioli."

Niice. People are going to line up for my cooking classes to learn this crap.