Archive for the ‘Random Things’ Category

Working hard, or hardly working?

November 4, 2011

Today was a good day at work.  And let’s face it:  we all need one of those now and then, don’t we?  For starters I got paid today, which is always a plus.  But the highlight of my afternoon was one of my tiny customers, as is often the case.  Two young women came in, each with a little girl in tow.  One of the girls was a one-year-old named Patience, and the other was a little girl named Morgan who looked to be four or so.  I asked the mothers if they needed a shopping bag to hold their products, and one of them jokingly said “No, but do you have a stroller?”  I replied “No, but I’ve got auntie arms.  I’ll hold her while you shop, if you’d like.”  Fortunately we weren’t busy at the time.

I came around the counter and held my hands out to the baby, and she leaned into my arms without hesitation.  The mother said she’d take her back if I wanted, but I told her I was perfectly happy to hold her if she didn’t mind, and she said that if I was sure, she’d be glad of the break.  So I settled the baby on my hip and started swaying, as all women seem to instinctively do when they’re holding a baby.  She stared at me for a moment, then started playing with my name tag.  After a while, she started squirming to get down, so I set her on her feet and offered her my hand.  She grabbed my index finger in a tight grip, and took off like a shot through the store.  I let her tug me around until she took a tumble, then I scooped her back up and danced with her a little bit, singing along with the Christmas music that was playing in the store.  She stared at me fixedly for a few moments when I was singing, then Morgan, who I think might have been her cousin, started dancing too, and when the baby caught sight of her, she let out the most adorable series of excited squeaks and giggles.  Eventually the mothers finished their shopping and left, taking the girls with them.  But they sure brightened my day.  That’s the kind of customer service I best love to do.

And the icing on the cake was an older woman I waited on just before I left.  She had some questions about different fragrances.  She was trying to find a substitute for a favorite of hers that had been discontinued.  I showed her some other options, and let her know of another outlet store where she could try to find her old favorite, and we got to talking about various things:  our favorite scents, the different notes in them, how much we disliked change, etc.  When I had to break away to answer another customer’s question, she thanked me, and said I’d been very helpful.  She said it was a relief to talk to someone who actually wanted to help, and wasn’t just trying to get her to spend more money.

It was equally nice for me to wait on someone who actually recognized what I was trying to do.  When you’re in sales, customers tend to make assumptions about your motives, but my goal is to help people find what they actually want, and to get them the best deal I possibly can.  I know the coupons and the sales, and I know how to combine them so you get more for less.  It’s always a pleasure to help someone who is genuinely grateful for that.  I need more days like this.

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“Batty! Quite batty.”

June 8, 2011

Well, I’ve had my fill of excitement for the evening.  After I turned out my light, I heard a noise in the hall.  It sounded like someone banging into things.  At first I thought it was my imagination.  I’ve had several nightmares this week, and I haven’t been sleeping well.  So I just thought it was in my head.  Then I heard the noise again.  I flipped on a light, donned my robe, and peeked into the hall.

And then I saw it.  A shadow swooping across the ceiling.  Oh.  Crap.  I knew immediately what it was.  They’ve gotten into our house many times before.  A bat.  A tiny, cute little brown bat.  They live in our attic.  I have no idea how they manage to actually get into the house, but it happens.  Normally it happens when mom is here to deal with them.  Unfortunately it was all up to me this time.  I couldn’t let the little thing stay trapped inside to die.

I flipped on the hall light, and went looking for something with a long handle.  I found a metal mop with a clip-on base about 8 inches long in mom’s room.  I did a careful survey of her room to make sure he hadn’t flown in there, and then I went back into the hall to look for him.  He wasn’t in the stairwell or on the landing.  Apparently he fled those areas after I turned on the light.  So I poked my head into dad’s room, the last place he could have gone.  There he was hanging on the wall, his little bat chest heaving with exertion and fear.  I wanted to try to trap him in something while he was stationary (mom caught one in a basket once), but as soon as I flipped on the light, he started flying around the room in panicked circles.

I shut the doors to the bedroom and bathroom, and opened the door out onto the deck as wide as it would go (mentally thanking mom and dad for having had the foresight to build a deck off that room).  Then I started trying to direct him out with my mop handle.  It wasn’t particularly effective, but after he’d circled a few times, he started swooping lower, and eventually he must have recognized the refuge of darkness or felt the cool night air coming in the door, because he flew out on his own.

Thank heavens for small blessings.  I’m going back to bed now.

Color my World

May 26, 2011

The company I work for expects us to “make each customer’s day.”  Despite our excellent customer service skills, none of us ever did that so well as the little boy who was in Jing Jing Garden when I went to get some takeout last night.  He’s the son of the couple who operate the restaurant, and he spends a lot of time there while mom & dad work.  Consequently he often amuses himself by involving customers in his games and activities, and last night was no exception.

I placed my order and sat down to wait.  He came over and peered unabashedly into the shopping bag I’d placed on the table.  It contained three books (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in German and English, plus my German dictionary).  He gave me a puzzled look and said, “What do you need those for?”

I replied that I liked to read them.  He then informed me that he liked to color, and pushed my bag aside to make room for a coloring book and a box of markers.  Then he asked, “Do you want to color with me?”  I said, “Sure.  Why not?”  He flipped to a page with a picture of a cement mixer, handed me a lime-green marker, and told me to color the barrel, but to stay in the lines.  So I started coloring.

The marker was clearly long-used; the felt tip was smashed flat, and it was nearly dry.  I remarked on that last point, and was informed that, no, the marker was not dry, I just had to press hard, which he demonstrated for me before handing the marker back and allowing me to continue.  Thus chastened, I suppressed a smile, pressed harder and finished the barrel, then asked which part I should do next.  He gave me a dark green marker and pointed out the sections I was to color:  the windshield, cab, front bumper, and the one tire he had not already colored gray.  I finished the first three and moved on to the tire, at which point he looked down and exclaimed in exasperation, “No!  Not that part!”  Fortunately at that point his mother announced that my order was ready.  So apparently I won’t be getting high marks for following instructions, but at least I stayed in the lines.

Rock, baby!

July 3, 2010

Scene:  I’m sitting in a plastic wading pool in the backyard with my six-year-old nephew and his dad, surrounded by bits of broken water balloons.  My nephew (who knows his way around an iPod) suddenly sings a fragment of “Fire and Ice” with all the enthusiasm, styling and mannerisms of a stage pro.

Me:  My nephew’s gone pop star!

Him:  I’m singing rock, baby!

Hair today, gone tomorrow!

May 23, 2010

Well, it’s done.  I finally took the plunge and chopped it all off.  I am less 12 inches of hair and ready to mail what will be my third donation to Locks of Love.  My head feels about ten pounds lighter, and I don’t have to spend so much quality time with my hairbrush now, so that’s a relief.

Losing that much hair all at once takes some getting used to.  It was quite a surreal experience the first time a stylist chopped off my ponytail and waved it in front of my face.  It’s even weirder the first time you try to run your fingers through your hair afterward… and run out of hair.  This time around I nearly gave myself whiplash after washing my hair.  Flipping my head over to wrap my hair in a towel used to require a certain amount of momentum, and after showering the day I had it cut, I flipped my head like normal only to find that there was nothing left to flip.  My neck didn’t care for the experience, and I nearly lost my balance.

But anyway, it’s all for a good cause, so if any of you long-haired folks out there (and I don’t just mean the ladies, boys!) are thinking about cutting your hair, don’t let it go in the trash!  Locks of Love needs a minimum of 10 inches, and most salons will either send it in for you or give you a form so you can send it yourself.  It’s a simple thing, but every ponytail they get can make a big difference in someone’s life, so if you’re like me and have more hair than you need (or want!), why not let someone else benefit?  🙂

It seemed like the logical thing to do, officer…

December 26, 2009

Sogar die Deutschen Kinder sind fleissig. (Translation:  Even the German children are diligent.)

via Dave Barry’s Blog

Becoming My Mother

December 21, 2009

Mommy, I finally understand what you’ve always meant by “managing your kitchen,” albeit on a smaller scale.  It hit me last night when I was taking a break from doing the dishes.  I was hungry, and normally when I’m hungry I think to myself, “What sounds good?”  Last night I looked in the fridge and instead thought, “What do I need to eat before it expires?”

Notes from Nürnberg

December 21, 2009

American exportation is everywhere.  It’s inescapable.  Every radio I hear blares American pop music.  Every train station I arrive at has a McDonald’s, a Burger King, or both.  The central train station in Munich has two Burger Kings.  Seriously.  They are literally within two minutes’ walking distance of each other.  Subway, Pizza Hut, KFC, Starbucks, they’re all here too.  It surprised me a little at first.  I knew these chains existed in other countries, of course; I just didn’t realize they operated on such a large scale.  Many of the Europeans I’ve spoken with say they abhor all these American chains, but someone must like them, because they’re booming.  So I’ve gradually gotten used to seeing the logos of American enterprises tucked in between the cozy Bavarian pubs, restaurants, and bakeries.  Then, just when I thought I couldn’t be surprised by my own country anymore, I went to Nürnberg last Saturday and saw the very last American chain I ever expected to see:  a Sally’s Beauty Supply.  I stared at it as I walked by, thinking to myself, “What’s that doing here?”  I was a business major for Pete’s sake!  I took D 301 (International Business Environment).  It should come as no surprise to me that multi-national companies are so successful, but somehow it still does.  Guess I should have taken D 302 after all.  My professor is probably chortling somewhere.

At any rate, someone else can have the burgers.  I’m too busy enjoying all the excellent German food.  I had a fantastic dish at a restaurant not far from the Sally’s Beauty Supply.  It was seared turkey pieces cooked in a sherry-mushroom cream sauce and served with spätzle.  It was so delectable it would have been sinful if I hadn’t spent the whole day walking off the calories.  The flavor of the sauce reminded me of another dish I love.  My Peruvian readers may remember Grant Street Bar & Grill, which has sadly been closed for a few years now.  They had a seared fillet of beef in a brandy-mushroom cream sauce on their menu.  It was delicious.  So tender and flavorful.  Okay, I’ve got to switch topics now.  I’m making myself hungry.

As I’m sure you’ve all noticed, angst over swine flu is everywhere.  Upon arrival, I received not one, but two tip sheets from the school about how to avoid it, and what to do if I thought I might have it (See a doctor and don’t come to school.  Logical, no?).  Many restrooms now have pages of instructions on how to avoid it tacked on the wall, all with the same basic theme:  wash your hands.  One hopes people do that anyway, but maybe that’s being overly optimistic.  Anyway, not to be left out of this furor, the shopkeepers in Nürnberg are also taking appropriate precautionary measures.  See below:

Blog Business

December 20, 2009

Being new to blogging, I often find the various statistics and data accumulated by WordPress about my blog rather comical.  For example, you know you’re a little off-beat when the following search terms yield your blog:  “decoding yoplait expiration date” and “gumball machine statue liberty.”  Looking strictly at the words I type, it’s an entirely logical conclusion.  But looking at the topics I write about, the results are rather comically off-base.  The internet is a wonderful tool, but using it correctly can be tricky.

Speaking of which, this information is rather late in coming, and I know it will be old news to most of you, but it’s come to my attention that some of my readers are first-time blog readers, and aren’t familiar with how commenting works, so I want to provide some general clarification.  At the bottom of every text I post, there is a little link that says “# comments” or “add a comment.”  You can click this link to leave questions, remarks or feedback of any kind.  You are all more than welcome to do so; the back-and-forth is a big part of what makes blogging fun (for me, anyway).  Just realize that when you make a comment, it doesn’t just go to me.  Anyone who reads the blog can see it.  This can also be great fun, because it can initiate discussion.  The process of posting a comment is as follows:  once you’ve clicked the link, you will see the comments that have already been posted (if there are any), and underneath there are four boxes for you to fill out.  For name, you can either use your real name or a made-up screen name, but if you are using your real name, it’s inadvisable to use both your first and last name for privacy reasons.  Your email address is private (only I see it), and it is required only so that the website can attempt to discern whether you are a genuine commenter or a spammer (online advertiser).  The website box is for people who have their own website or blog and want to promote it when they comment.  If you do, great, if not, simply leave it blank.  And the last box is, of course, where you type whatever it is you’d like to say.  When you’re finished, simply click the button that says “submit comment” to make your comment visible.  That’s all there is to it.  If you ever post anything by mistake and want it deleted, send me an email and I’ll take care of it.  So now that that’s clear, I hope we’ll get to hear from a few more of the blurkers.  I know you’re out there!  Don’t be shy!  🙂

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned…

December 16, 2009

…and I’ve never been to confession.  Not in the Catholic sense, anyway.  I speak directly with the man upstairs when I’ve been naughty.  Like last Tuesday, for example.  Southerngirl, get the polishing cloth ready; my halo’s in the mail.  Time to ‘fess up and ask forgiveness.

As a rule, I generally try to keep my language pretty clean.  I’ll admit, I’m not always successful.  Swearing is a bad habit, and a hard one to break.  Sometimes when I’m frustrated (i.e. when I’m in traffic), the words just slip out, but I’m penitent afterward.  And if mom’s around, I’m also rebuked afterward.  That said, I’ve tried to behave myself in Deutschland.  I’m familiar with German swear words (as in the States, one hears them too frequently not to be), but I try not to use them.

Then last week I went to the Kreisverwaltungsreferat (try saying that three times fast) here in Munich to see about obtaining a visa.  The man in the office began rattling off a list of all the various things I needed:  statements from my parents and my school, a photo, an application, and…  Krankenversicherung (medical insurance).  Which I don’t have.  My coverage with my parents ended two years ago, and I was waiting until I found a “real” job to deal with that particular issue.  With that single word, the tower of frustration and stress that had been building for the previous few days imploded, burying my composure beneath the rubble, and the first words to come into my head popped out of my mouth with profound depth of feeling before I could stop them:  “Oh Scheiße.”

Fabiana was quite shocked.  Not at the word, just its source.  I couldn’t believe I’d said it, either.  Nary a bad word for 6 weeks, and then her “heilige” Beatrice came out with that one.  In the Kreisverwaltungsreferat, of all places, where I should have been on my best behavior, considering I was seeking their permission to remain in the country.  That’s the problem with swear words.  Once they’re in your head, they pop out when you least expect it at the most inopportune (and embarrassing) times and places.  Fortunately the man was very understanding.  Fabiana followed up my unfortunate exclamation with, “‘Schade,’ Beatrice.  ‘Schade’ ist besser.”  But the man just laughed and said I’d had it right the first time, then named a couple of insurance organizations I could look into.  So here’s hoping I can obtain a visa.  In the meantime, I’ll try to watch my mouth, and not to do anything to get myself deported.