Monday, February 27, 2012

Cubicle Crimes

Today I was chatting with Miss Patsy telling her about the time I got someone fired.

Before I had the youngin's, I had a job working customer service with a bunch of women. We sat in cubicles all day answering calls and giving out the same answers over and over. You tend to learn a lot about people when you work in such close proximity.

On the opposite side of my cubicle wall sat Trina. She was an unattractive woman in her mid 40s. She had undergone a gastric bypass and subsequently dropped about 100 pounds. This left her with a few major problems: 1) a ginormous skin flap under which she would get infections and 2) the side effect of horrendous gas when she ate things she wasn't supposed to. Daily it seemed she'd arrive with a bag from Hardee's and would spend the first part of the morning noshing away on greasy goodness.

In the afternoons, we were all painfully subjected to the effects of her indulging. Flatulence the likes of which no one had ever inhaled before. It was bad enough to peel paint, my hand to God. I didn't really care much for Trina nor did I like that odor she emitted from her ass. I started keeping a can of Febreeze on my desk and when she would let 'em rip, I'd stand up and make quite a scene about spraying the offensive air we all had to breathe. Needless to say, this didn't make us best buds.

One particularly boring day, I decided to entertain myself by drawing on the dry erase board. Of all the coworkers to complain about a smell causing them discomfort, wouldn't you know it'd be her. She loudly expressed her desire for me to cease and desist. However, she had no authority over me and I had no desire to quit. So I kept right on. Five seconds later I felt a smack! She had gotten out of her cubicle and came over to make me stop. I stood there stunned that she had hit me and simply said, "TRASH!"

This seemed to rile her up even more. She hightailed it to our supervisor to tattle! But woe be the rat, she was in for a mighty big surprise. What followed was a trip to the man who ran the whole place. We both went in separately and told our side of the story. Our coworkers backed me up and she was promptly fired and escorted from the building.

Funny thing is this meant she couldn't get that plastic surgery she was hoping would be deemed medically necessary. I saw her a few years later at the Porkly Workly. She'd gained all her weight back and then some. The look she shot me should've left me dead where I stood but I just smiled, waved and walked right out the automatic door.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Here's to Hoping

Hoping my friend's sister will post this in her magazine!

I've held many jobs in my 30something years all over the _________Valley in various administrative support and customer service positions; however, the most grueling, demanding, frustrating job I've ever held is that of “stay at home mom”. I've been in the baby booming industry since 2005 and I've got to say the job title is a real misnomer. No one I know in the industry really stays at home, so generally I just use the dated, non-PC term for my career choice and say I'm a “housewife” though I realize that's not accurate either. It's simple and I like that.

Desperate for adult interaction after a year of isolation, I joined a local mothers group where I met oodles of other housewives – a small handful of whom I'm still friends several years later. Others I avoid entirely. Often this leaves me dodging into racks of clothes at Walmart and speeding through parking lots as I high tail it to my minivan as fast as the wheels on the shopping buggy can carry me. (Free ride? Hang on, kid!) This, my dear readers, as you well know, is a very small town. Lord help me, I'd be in seventh heaven if we'd get another Target on the Better Side of Town.

Let me regale you with the types I've met over the course of my employment:

There are the housewives who follow Gwyneth Paltrow as if she were some sort of demigod picking out their “uniforms: so they always look hot, even at the scuzziest park in town. Some might assume they just got back from riding lessons the way they pimp their new $300 boots. If you meet these sorts, you can bet your bottom dollar things are not as fabulous as they appear. Move along.

There are the Fat and Frumpies who have totally given up on ever looking stylish. Their hair hangs lifeless and limp and they don't even try to suck in their muffin tops. Do not be fooled into thinking these wives have winning personalities to make up for their lack of self-care. They do not. Smile without showing teeth and keep walking.

There are the Organics. The ones who can't imagine giving Jack Jack even a drop of red dye, high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated fats. You will feel like a bad mother if your child is noshing on Fruit Loops or sucking down some YooHoo like it was mother's milk when you run into these sorts. Take heart, we all have to control something. Let them feel momentarily superior with their snack choices. Smile smugly and remember: baby teeth will fall out.

There are the Party Moms who gather together at secret cocktail playdates that you will hear about and wish you could be a part of. They won't invite you. They already decided you're a dingbat and not of their ilk. Don't fret. You will make friends. Keep smiling.

Lastly, there are those who are a delightful mix. The housewives who make the best of what they have without trying to impress or looking defeated. These are the ones I favor. Gather up a few and hold on to them. Don't tell their secrets. Don't talk about them behind their backs. Don't take advantage and presume they want to babysit little Margaret Claire and you will have Cherished Confidantes.

Even with a handful of carefully selected Confidantes, life can still get lonely when you're a housewife in the 'burbs. I have found that Facebook provides me with all the socializing I need most days. (Thank you, Zuckerburg!) Drinking alone is a thing of the past. All I've got to do is hop on my faithful laptop and I'm never alone. My problems no longer seem insurmountable when I read the struggles of others or laugh at the boasts of some. (Oh, would that your life could be as wonderful as it appears, dear Facebraggart!)

If you're a working mother, do not be fooled when you see a gaggle of housewives at the park as you rush to squeeze in all your errands on your lunch break. Things are not as they appear. Rest assured that many of us envy you. You in your fine, stylish outfit and perfect make-up. You with your fresh highlights and perfect manicure. You with your fancy gadgets and sweet ride. You with your colony of worker bees meeting for lunch at the newest hotspot (Chipotle anyone?) looking so sophisticated. You walking out on your husband because you know you've got options. Don't hate, appreciate.

*Lila Jane is slightly bitter, mildly petty, grudge holding housewife raising a pack of tiny humans and living a simple life outside of the 'Noke. She always smiles at strangers, friends and foes with absolute confidence when she runs into them at the market or in Target while wearing her most comfortable yoga pants with various stained yet hilarious t-shirts.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Toys in the Toolbox

My rolling cart of toys rests in a rolling toolbox I bought at Lowe's. From 2007 to early 2010, I rolled that thing from party to party and now it sits in our master bedroom mocking me. One day I tossed some of the ooey gooey stuff  - the massage oils in flavors like blue raspberry and fuzzy navel. Not my thing, nor Bubba's, but I hawked it to the women at parties like it was some great stuff.

A few weeks ago I noticed one of the higher up the pyramid reps on Facebook. She's in Florida and wickedly successful. I sent her a message and asked her about getting back in the biz but the more I think about it the less enthusiastic I become. She said she'd call and she did. Left me a message but I just don't think I really can invest the time or money or summon the old enthusiasm to sell it again.

The toys used to sell themselves when I'd do parties so really, not a lot of convincing goes on. Maybe I'm just making excuses.

Used to be Bubba was home every night by five and off on the weekends but now they've gone and switched up his schedule and I don't know if it will ever go back to the way it was. He told me he'd rather I just stay home on Saturday nights but a couple hundred dollars a few times a month sure would be sweet.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Pop In

Our neighbor to the left of us is a lonely man. Retired Army man who moved up here from Georgia about 10 years ago. He has a large dog big as a cow that lurks around the yard and often scares the bejeezus out of me. I see Mr. Lonely watching the sunset sometimes sipping something out of a big plastic cup. He's got reason to drink these days. His wife's in jail right now. She embezzled a bunch of money from her former employer. I used to envy that roof over their deck and the speedboat they got but when she got put away I realized some stuff just ain't worth having.

The other night I was in the kitchen fussing at Bubba for gawd only knows what. My voice got a little loud and I may have dropped the F bomb once or twice. I was washing dishes and fixing to mop the sticky floor. Sassy'd spilled juice all over and I was mad as a hornet when Mr. Lonely knocked on the door just as happy as could be. Big ol' smile on his lonesome face and a bag of homegrown taters in his hands.

Bubba invited him right in even though my hair was a mess and my mood even worse. He stood there bragging about how his cornstalks are as high as our ceiling. I was fit to be tied and just kept right on mopping while he stood there. Guess he got the hint because he decided to turn tail and leave pretty quick. When he said he was going that's about the time my mind thought to thank him for the taters but it came out more like I was thanking him for leaving. (And I was.)

I just know when visiting time comes around to see his missus he'll be telling her just how happy he is that they   are still as in love as newlyweds unlike the Rigbys next door who fuss and fight over sticky floors and haven't any manners at all.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I didn't want to see the hair on the calves of her legs or notice the too tight denim capris she was sporting as we stood there on the dividing line of my front yard where our tall grass meets her neatly manicured lawn. My girls, however, had seen Mrs. B out with her dog and had begged to say hello. So there I stood as they made a big fuss over her furry ankle biter.

Mrs. B is a teacher now at Sissy's school and I've lived next door to her for over a decade and yet I'd be hard pressed to write a paragraph with our conversations over the years. There was a time when I was the young twenty-something living in the run down house beside hers. Of course back then I saw it differently. Through idealistic eyes I saw a house with potential and filled up with my dreams.

Back then she was a poodle haired housewife with a couple of kids. Now the situation is reversed. Her children are grown. I feel awkward when I talk to her. I ramble about how I'm having my oldest read books from the library this summer and how she fusses and says, “Summer is for fun.” We laugh but I really have nothing to say and just feel uncomfortable. I want to run into my house and put that baby down for nap, send the girls to the playroom while I shower in peace and listen to my Jodi Picoult book on cd I got for myself the other day.

Finally, I couldn't take it another second. Told the girls to come on and leave Mrs. B alone. I hauled tail inside with my young'ns in tow but the thing that's sticking in my mind is the biggest compliment Mrs. B ever gave me was just now when she said I make it look easy, this being a mother thing that is. Ha! Right.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Now That's What I Like

After rehashing that harrowing memory of Missy's party, I need a break from the toy biz. These days I'm not doing parties anymore and I have other thoughts on my mind of course.

I've always been the sort of girl people either love or they hate. Usually there isn't much in between. I grew up poor as a church mouse and learned by watching my mama what not to do in life. The one thing I didn't learn was how to keep friendships.

You know how when you see some pretty girl on the news has vanished and all her friends and family say how everyone loved her and she didn't have an enemy in the world? Well, should I ever disappear ain't a soul in this fool town that can say that about me - not even my own mama!

One of my pet peeves is when people don't question what their part is when a friendship fizzles. I have often wondered what it is about me that either sends people to me like flies to shit or makes 'em run for the hills.

I know what I look for when I want a friend. I have it fairly narrowed down after thirty something years.

I like someone I can be quiet with. Now it's one thing if you haven't seen each other for awhile and you have a mess of things to share; however, if there has to be constant chatter and especially if I'm the one starting most of these conversations, I'll soon grow bored. I hate the feeling of having to be on all the time.

This is probably one of the best things about Bubba, my husband. We can sit quietly in each others' presence for an eternity but this is also sometimes an annoyance and why I have and need girlfriends. And I'm not talking about him right now anyway.

If I'm to remain friends with someone, they better make me laugh. Now they don't have to be a stand up comic mind you but I like someone that has some wit about them and isn't dull and too serious. If you can't be funny, the least you can do is laugh at yourself. Major bonus points for intelligence.

Over the years I have quickly weeded out the moochers from my world. I'm not a mooch myself and I like to give when I can. I wouldn't do something for a friend expecting reciprocity but it's nice to know they would do the same for me.

Lastly, a friend should be someone you feel comfortable calling even when you don't have anything to say. I suppose trustworthiness and honesty are also important traits but I don't a want a pal to be so honest that my feelings get hurt.

When I think about the things I've done wrong in the past to push people away it's usually that I wasn't myself when I met them. Maybe I held back or bit my tongue. Maybe I repeated something I shouldn't have. One person reportedly found me to be too negative. Another was offended when she read my online journal (that I never showed her but duh, it's the internet) and found out what I really thought of her. 

I've pushed people away for seeming too needy or too eager. I've pushed away friends for being boring or constantly using me as a sounding board without seeming very interested in me as a person. And sometimes friends have been phased out simply because I never see them. 

Oh, friendship is a sticky, fickle thing, isn't it? Kind of like selling those novelties actually.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Missy Pulls a Fast One

Y'all ain't gonna believe this when I get through but Missy seemed like a good ol' gal when I met her at JaeRae's. She had a big smile and a loud personality. She had that rode hard and put up wet look about her but I ain't one to judge.

Missy was a teacher in the city and recently divorced. She lived in an old brick house over in my old stomping grounds. It was a neighborhood with sidewalks and a little bit of character but was just a hop, skip and a jump from the ghetto.

I had to park on the street and haul my goods up her cement steps and into her small living room unlike parties I'd done for married ladies who'd had husbands that would help me. I set my card table up in the corner and began decorating it with a thick red tablecloth and candles that melted into a deliciously scented body oil.

Before I knew it, other teacher friends of Missy were filtering in and filling up her sectional faster than a church pew on Easter Sunday. They were squeezed in tight because her house was itty bitty but they didn't seem to mind. Everyone was in fine spirits. 

After a quick icebreaker, I went around the room with my vibrating massage glove and oil, letting each woman feel the nubs on their forearm. Told 'em to imagine how good it would feel if their special someone used it on their back. The ladies were eating it up along with my fuzzy navel flavored lube that they licked off of penis shaped pencil toppers. Everyone was giggling and sucking down cocktails.

There is always one woman who has to be the center of the room and at Missy's party it was Charlotte. Char, as her friends called her, was a terribly thin woman in her twenties who seemed to have a fondness for patchouli, piercings and interesting tattoos as well as a vast knowledge of romance enhancers. She seemed already three sheets to the wind when she walked through the door, heckling me before I even got started and then interrupting my little presentation countless times to ask questions and ultimately, and of course, not ordering a damn thing.

As the evening wrapped up and I began taking orders privately in Missy's back bedroom, I overheard Char talking about coke and I don't mean the fizzy kind. I soon realized they were snorting lines in the kitchen. I was completely flabbergasted having always held teachers in high esteem though I surely understand now the need for chemical alteration after spending too much time with children.

The women became a bit distracted and Missy didn't seem interested at all in settling up with me. She instead wanted to head downtown and hit some bars with her friends. She promised to call me the next day so we could wrap up. I knew this was a bad idea but agreed because her friends, with the exception of Char, had all ordered extravagantly and paid me so I was confident I would make a profit off the party. In fact, I already knew Missy was entitled to $100 in hostess gifts.

Over the following week or so, I tried repeatedly to close Missy's party to no avail. She would not return my calls or respond to my e-mails. Ultimately, I decided to submit the party orders so her guests who had paid would get their products in a timely fashion. I sent Missy a gift certificate for the $100 in hostess gifts she was entitled to and wrote her a letter thanking her for hosting.

Then the calls came and the scathing messages. It was like I'd pissed in her cornflakes! To say Missy was displeased and ungrateful would be an understatement. She had been waiting for payday on the first of the month – didn't I know teachers are only paid monthly? - and was livid that I had gone ahead and closed it never you mind the fact that her guests were surely wondering where I'd gone with their massagers, oils and lube. Missy was hollerin' like a stuck pig but I wasn't going to have any of that. I sent her one final message expressing my apology that she felt she had been cheated and left it at that. And I can't tell you how glad I am that my kids don't go to her school! Something to be said for moving out to the country.

My eyes had been opened wide by this experience and I learned never to let a hostess talk me into breaking my rules again. I also began to prejudge the people who booked parties with me just a little bit more. Judging a book by its cover? Not such a bad thing after all and that was the lesson that Missy taught me.