Posts Tagged ‘things that I should feel lucky I can complain about’

continue to feel like a planet whirling so fast it is about to spin off its axis. The frigid vacuum of space sounds pretty pleasant right about now. I wouldn’t be able to breathe, but it would be so quiet

I had a meeting this morning about the school project I am working on. My project partner and I are so lucky a) to have each other (well. I am lucky to have her. Remains to be seen whether I will be useful for anything but flailing.) and b) that the previous head of this project has made herself available to us for questions and coaching. But today’s meeting was… well, let’s say it is A LARGE PART of why I am spinning so fast. It seemed like we would ask a question about how best to execute Task A. And we’d talk through it and get to the end, and then an unrelated topic would insinuate itself into the conversation briefly, and then, BAM, by the way, Unrelated Topic is actually crucial and you need to do it BEFORE you can execute Task A. Like, you’re digging away at this nice deep hole, and then when you get to the bottom, someone yells, “WAIT! You were supposed to dig to the left of this hole first!” So you go back and dig the new hole, but the dirt you displace from the new hole crumbles and fills up the hole you already dug, which you are now going to have to dig again, but in a slightly different way.


Speaking of meetings! I met with my potential client yesterday. And by “client” I mean one organization, but multiple people. As I mentioned in my previous fret about this encounter, I had no idea what to wear. Not only have I had very very few business encounters since I left full-time work SIX YEARS AGO OMG, but I have also put on quite a lot of weight since then, rendering any very old, out-of-style business wear wholly unwearable. I have this beautiful cream silk blouse that I have kept all these years, so I tried it on, but my boobs kept trying to make a break for it. I figured that boob wrangling would add a layer of stress I didn’t need to my meeting, so I scrapped that idea.

I was to meet the client(s) for coffee, and my Fashionable Friend told me that I could wear jeans and a blouse or a nice sweater for that type of meeting. (Do you have a Fashionable Friend? She is very nice to have around. For lots of regular-friendshippy reasons, but also because she always knows the right answer to style questions.) So I found a nice top and a blazer and wore those with dark jeans and heels. It was the right call: the clients were wearing a range from jeans/leggings to dresses, so I felt nicely in the middle. And I was comfortable, and my boobs behaved themselves. 

The meeting itself was very nice. The organization is one I am familiar with and I love its mission and product. And the people were friendly and smart and totally the type of people I would want to be friends with. It was a little intimidating, being in a room with multiple people, unmasked. But the strangeness of that faded quickly. The single drink option during the meeting was coffee. Which, as you may recall, I do not drink. I am SURE I could have asked for some water, but by the time I had the opportunity, it would have been A Big Pain, so I just went with the coffee option. I AM BREEZY. By the way, not only was it coffee, it was black coffee, which I have never even tasted. And WOWZA did it ever go straight to my head! For a few deeply uncomfortable minutes, I felt sure I would throw up or pass out, which is surely not the best first impression to make upon potential clientele. You will be pleased to learn (as I was) that I neither vomited nor swooned, and made it through, hopefully leaving them with the feeling that I am friendly and competent and not a weird socially awkward mole who hasn’t been around people in two years. 

I am getting more and more excited about our upcoming travel. But oh Mylanta there is SO MUCH LAUNDRY. I wish people would just stop wearing clothing so that I can get allllllll the laundry done and folded. Then we can set aside the things we want to pack for the trip, and make do with whatever remains. 

Also, my husband – who is legitimately WILDY busy at work, and never gets home before seven anymore – did a couple loads of laundry over the weekend. I discovered today that he had left the clean clothes in the laundry basket. A, I appreciate that he did some laundry; that is awesome. And B, I am constantly leaving laundry in the basket, or on top of the guest room bed, sometimes for many many days. But it still made me feel betrayed and petulant. 

Speaking of betrayed and petulant: Poor deprived Carla wailed at me today that she has no clothes!!!! and I never do any laundry!!!! and look at her overflowing laundry basket!!!!! The same child who has an entire closet full of dresses, and an entire drawer full of jeans and corduroys that she begged me to buy for her at the beginning of the school year. 

What did she end up wearing? Leggings and a t-shirt. And because it is still chilly here, I dredged up a sweater for her to throw on top. 

WHERE are all her sweaters, I wonder? Perhaps in the overflowing laundry bin, which I must once again put through the wash. I did notice that the bottom drawer of her dresser doesn’t close all the way, and it seems to be because there are some shirts that have fallen back behind the drawer, into the empty space of the dresser. But I cannot for the life of me get to them! The dresser is bolted to the wall and the bottom of the dresser doesn’t have enough room for me stick even a pair of kitchen tongs under. I guess the shirts will stay there until we move someday? Or perhaps we will have to figure out how to take the drawer off its track? But who knows how many shirts and sweaters are hiding back there! 

I am stressing about the keeping-keto portion of our vacation. Part of me wants to just give it up and eat as though I am on vacation… but part of me is deeply reluctant to cede the small amount of ground I have gained. Fortunately, most restaurants (YES, we will be eating in restaurants!!! Ahhhhh!!!!) offer things like steak or salmon. I will simply have to resist things like mashed potatoes and baked potatoes and French fries and desserts. Sounds doable, if not fun, but I suspect my resolve may crumble when everyone else around me is eating something delicious that I “can’t” have. My biggest hurdle, I think, will be hamburgers. I LOVE a hamburger, and I LOVE a nice buttery toasty bun, and I LOVE ketchup, none of which are keto-friendly. Well. We’ll see how it goes. 

Speaking of keto, I have ZERO IDEA what we will eat for dinner this week. It seems wholly unfair to have to keep planning and preparing meals when I am already planning and preparing for a trip. Maybe we will do a stir fry, using one of the MANY delicious ideas you suggested on this post? Maybe a pizza night? Maybe… a salad? I feel like I have some veggies I want to use up before we leave. Some sort of… roasted veggies smorgasbord? 

This period of Too Much Too Much Ahhhhhhh! has served as a valuable reminder to me of just how critical my daily workout it. I am not winning any ab competitions or even doing any sort of visible toning (perhaps there is a LOT of tone beneath the fat and skin; hard to say), but working out is almost the only thing that makes me feel tethered to reality. Sweating for a half hour, grunting my way through a bunch of awful squats, hefting weights over my head, focusing only on the directions/encouragement of the coach while I grind out another rep – whatever it is, it helps my thoughts slow their frantic dash around my brain. (And I know I have recommended her before, but I just adore Lindsey of Nourish Move Love. She is extremely kind and supportive and offers tons of modifications if you don’t have weights/don’t want to bend your knees so deeply/don’t own a booty band. And she does all the exercises with you, panting and groaning over the tough parts, which makes it all seem doable.)

I am going to leave you with some flowers. As per Swistle, I did not wait until my previous flowers had perished to replace them. Instead, I bought a new bouquet and added it to the original group. Carla requested white tulips, so white tulips it is. 

Last week’s batch are definitely looking a little faded and saggy. But you know what? They have their own beauty despite their age. And they are still standing

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I had to go into Target TWICE recently, and both times I was super annoyed. I think to the point that it is no longer fun to go there. I will continue to use the option where someone brings my purchases out to my car, because sometimes Target is the best place to procure certain items. But I no longer enjoy shopping IN Target. 

First, the shelves are so intermittently empty that I get that Early Pandemic panicky feeling in my chest. I went in well before Valentine’s Day – well, a week before, which seems like it should be fine – and the Valentine’s Day section appeared to have been looted by mauraders. It was a mixture of chaos and empty boxes. I found a giant Hershey’s kiss for Carla and a pink bath bomb and that was IT. 

Well. I also found a whole section of Easter candy, which makes zero sense. But they had a large stack of Reese’s peanut butter eggs – the best candy – so I bought myself two boxes. I was there for VALENTINE’S DAY loot though, so I remained unmollified. Plus, I now have to go to a separate candy store (barf), inside the mall (extra barf), to get something for my husband.

Second, the Valentine’s Day card selection made me grumpy. Perhaps this is less a Target-grouse than a card-designer/producer grouse, or maybe even an It’s-2020-Yet-Everything-Is-Still-So-Gengered grouse, but a) it happened AT Target and b) I do have more Target-centric grousing to do, so I don’t want to interrupt the flow of my Target-directed irritation.

Carla loves dinosaurs, and dinosaurs are a Very Common Kid Passion, so it seems reasonable to expect that there would be dinosaur-themed Valentine’s Day cards. And you would be right! But they were directed at boys. Because only boys like dinosaurs. 

Except for this one, which was gender-neutral. And also $8.99. I am not going to pay nearly TEN (10) U.S. dollars for a single-use card, no thank you. It is hard enough to choke down the normal $4.99 price tag, which I do only because I love cards so much. 

I know – I KNOW – that you can’t expect there to be something for everyone. You can’t. It’s not possible. But… maybe there could fewer gendered things? 

I bought a card. And altered it slightly, for Carla. 

Stickers to the rescue!

Back to the Target-specific grousing.

I know I have grumbled about this before. Target often – I am saying often, because it happens almost every single time I go to Target – has discrepancies between the price listed on the shelf and the price that rings up at the register. HOWEVER, it is nearly impossible to discover the discrepancies because it is impossible to read the register as the checker rings up your items. I am willing to give Target the benefit of the doubt. It is a big corporation, and errors happen. Plus, maybe there is a big price difference to the company between ordering computers that show the prices only to the checker and computers that show the prices to the customer as well. I don’t know. But the two issues added together make me feel like Target is trying to pull one over on me. 

What I have begun to do is take pictures of things on the shelf. If they are on sale, and I am buying them purely to get the sale price, I take a picture. If there is a discrepancy between the price on the shelf and the price in the app, I take a picture. And then I try very hard to squint at the computer screen during check out. 

The screen looks impossibly small in the photo and seems impossibly far away in real life. I can see the TOTAL without too much squinting, but that requires instantaneous math which is not one of my core competencies.

It is too far away and the font is too small to see, though! I got right up in there this last time, right up in there, and then backed away because I felt like I was intruding upon the checker’s plexiglass-enclosed space. So I had to ask the checker to doublecheck the price of the items I was concerned about. One of them was fine, but the other rang up for a dollar more than it was supposed to, so I showed the checker my photo, and they reduced the price. 

I realized that I sound more than slightly unhinged, here, hawk-watching over the computer just to prevent Target from getting even one dollar extra from my clenched fists. But it makes me really mad.

The last time I posted about this, I wrote a frustrated email to Target about my experience. I got a response, too, from someone at my local Target:

Hi Suzanne,

My name is NAME, and I’m the Service and Engagement ETL at the CITY Target store. Thank you for sharing your experience. I sincerely appreciate your feedback about the checkout process at Target stores. We never want guests to feel like they are being taken advantage of or that Target is hiding anything. Our checkout advocates are here to help so they can relay the prices as they ring up for you. If there is a discrepancy they can get a price check and change the price for you as well. Also, if there is ever a need we can retroactively make price adjustments at Guest Service for you as well. I will share your feedback with my immediate boss so that it can be directed to the appropriate channels. 

I want to make this right both for you and for all Target guests in the future. If you’re open to further discussing how we might do that, please reply to this email. You are also welcome to call me at NUMBER.

What a very nice and sincere-sounding email, right?! I mean, no way am I going to ask the poor checker to read every single price as it rings up, which seems to be what this nice person is suggesting. And also, I am overlooking the fact that this person does not seem to understand that it is next to impossible to identify a discrepancy in the moment. And you KNOW I am wary of price adjustments based on prior experience. But it was a good start, I think. 

I haven’t yet responded, because I didn’t know what to say. But now I know. I have a SOLUTION. My solution is that they should increase the font on their computer monitors. And maybe – although perhaps this is asking too much – they could angle the computer monitors toward the customer. 

I am not asking for their prices to be accurate. I am not asking for their prices to match, between shelf and app and register. I am not asking for them in install new monitors at the credit card machines, or replace the credit card machines with machines that list the prices as the checker rings up each item, or even to figure out some way to show the total you are about to pay ON the credit card machine! No. I am simply suggesting that they increase the font, so that a non-eagle can see it while standing near the checkout. 

What do you think? Is this a good plan?

Or perhaps I should simply… not set foot in Target. Probably that’s the best choice.

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I hope you had a wonderful, delicious Thanksgiving and celebrated exactly the way you wanted to!

If you are looking for a little post-prandial distraction, might I ask you to join me in contemplating the execution of a Home Project, with potentially satisfying results? You don’t have to spend a dollar or move a single piece of furniture, you can simply sit back, sip your beverage of choice, pass judgment on my plans and life choices, and perhaps offer advice! Win win!

Carla has been asking, for months, for a “rilly big box full of all craft stuf.” That is a direct quote from her letter to Santa.

Carla is a crafter extraordinaire. She makes anything and everything, from miniature furniture to fishing rods and fish to tiny clay animals to elaborate seascape scenes to clothing for her stuffed animals and more. We have a lot of crafting supplies in our home already, and very little space to store it all, and my little craft enthusiast is constantly coming up with new ideas.

My husband and I decided that we wanted to help Santa fulfill Carla’s wish… but we needed a bigger plan than just a “rilly big box full of craft stuf.” The big box is part 2. Part 1 is carving out a crafting space.

Right now, crafting takes place on the kitchen table:

This is how my kitchen table looks at least 75% of the time. Craft mat, glue gun, craft detritus.

Or on the dining room floor:

This is what Carla hears when I ask her to “put her crafts away.” Deep sigh.

Short of moving to a home with a dedicated crafting room, we have to make do with what we have. And what we currently have makes me twitchy and claustrophobic.

We do have a decent-size basement, and my husband and I discussed repurposing the space for crafting.

Right now, the basement has several purposes. The left third is for exercise and gaming and TV watching; we have a treadmill, a recumbent bike, a couch, and a TV over there. It’s pretty full.

The right two thirds has a dual toys/music function. As in, it holds a huge amount of Carla’s toys (Barbies galore, dinosaurs, building sets) but it is also where we keep the electric piano and my husband’s electric drum kit.

(Our dream house needs to have a dedicated music room, too, apparently.)

I hope you are enjoying our walls. The color scheme… grows on you.

My idea was to move/break down the piano and drum kit, since they are so rarely used. My husband agreed to moving the piano, but he wants to keep the drum kit. (Sigh. The drum kit takes up so much more room than the piano. But we take what we can get.)

And then we use the space freed up to create a crafting space for Carla.

The dinosaur is envisioning a crafting table right here where the piano is. Perhaps we will find a new home for the dehumidifier.

While we already have the Expedit (which holds games and some puzzles and all the Make Your Own [XYZ]! kits that Carla has yet to put together, along with many that she HAS put together but have enough ingredients for more rounds) (I am going to go through and RUTHLESSLY TOSS some of the latter and RUTHLESSLY DONATE some of the former), a four-cube organizer that holds our DVDs and my husband’s video game collection, and a six-cube organizer for Carla’s LEGOs, we need dedicated craft storage and we need some sort of table.

We bought this with the sole intention of using it to relocate all the LEGO that have taken over my living room. Currently, the LEGO collection is still upstairs, strewn all over my hearth. In the meantime, the Barbies are making good use of the space.

Santa, in addition to the “rilly big box full of craft stuf” has assured us he will bring additional storage. I think he is planning on another six-cube shelf organizer and fabric bins.

Santa will not be bringing a table, although that’s a critical element of this plan. My husband and I have been on the hunt, but it’s difficult to find anything that doesn’t cost one million dollars. We decided we can wait to figure out the table solution until after Christmas. But that doesn’t mean I am not already thinking about a table.

When Carla crafts on the kitchen table, she takes up approximately half of the space.

Don’t get me wrong – given time, her crafting essentials eventually migrate to all four corners of the table and spill over the edges onto the floor, but she seems to be able to make do with just half. That’s 32” by 42”, so it would be IDEAL to find a table that is three feet by four feet. A table that folds, so we can slide it up against the wall. A table that has a smooth, untextured top for drawing. A table that is NOT one million dollars. (I would love love LOVE to spend less than $50, but that seems like a pipe dream. Maybe I should be aiming for under $100.)

Because I am a genius, I suggested that maybe all we needed was a giant board! Then we could help Carla move the not-yet-installed shelf and the current LEGO storage shelf into the middle of the basement, and put the board across the tops of both shelving units, and VOILA! instant table!

My husband doesn’t think that we will be able to find a board of the right size, and, even if we did, he is picturing something rough with jagged edges. So I need to think on/research this idea a bit more. I still think it is a genius solution, although that’s dependent on boards a) coming in the right size and b) also not costing one million dollars.

Because crafting is so important to Carla, and because it causes SUCH chaos in my home, I am pretty motivated to find a solution.

To help keep everything organized, we will also get a desktop carousel.

And I can think of dozens of uses for this craft keeper, which has 16 little plastic containers for pom-poms, stickers, glue sticks, beads, etc. etc. etc., so I think we’ll get one of these, too.  

Plus, it’s so rainbow-y!

The only other thing I can think of to complete this craft space is perhaps some sort of plastic carpet mat. You know, to protect the carpet from all sort of crafting debris.

I’m sure there are other things we will find we need, once this craft space is realized. But for now I am focused on the minimum needed to make it functional, and also on keeping it under one million dollars.

P.S. My plans include getting rid of Carla’s dress-up closet, which is the purple structure that lives to the left of the Expedit. I can’t remember the last time she played dress up. (“Halloween” she told me when I asked her. And before that? “Last Halloween.” This proves my point.) She laments the loss of the mirror, but it’s a pretty crummy mirror and we can easily get a mirror and affix it to her bedroom door.

I really wish we could get rid of the drum kit.

I also think it’s time to get rid of the Giant Bear. I impulse-bought this bear at Costco many years ago, and it achieved the surprise and delight I’d imagined when I spotted it. But now it mainly lives on one of the couches in the basement, rendering the couch unusable by humans. Or it endures various forms of torture inflicted by Carla. It has sagged a bit in its old age, as though the stuffing has been crushed or redistributed, so it is now much less fluffy than it was when we first brought it home. I think it’s time to say goodbye.

He is putting on a good front, but he is clearly SO miserable. This is not the life he wanted for himself.

If you were designing a crafting space, given what you now know about our available resources, is there anything I’ve missed or overlooked?

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Well, I am sitting here waiting for the exterminator to come do our quarterly bug roundup (I like to picture him ushering a bunch of creepy-crawlies down the stairs and out into the street and off into some buggy wonderland, Pied Piper style), and I neither feel like emptying the dishwasher nor trying to plan our meals for the week, so randomosity it is!

  • Speaking of our bug guy: I am mad at our pest control service. They are constantly bothering us to sign up for this quarterly “deal,” wherein you get a discount per service. And my husband and I had figured that we were calling the pest control on an as-needed basis about three times per year, so the math didn’t work out for us to do the quarterly plan. But, for some reason, we decided to sign up the last time they made their sales pitch. I don’t remember why, but it must have involved math. ANYWAY, we signed up in June, for the quarterly plan. They sent the bug guy, invoiced us… And the amount was DOUBLE what he’d quoted me. I emailed him back and said, “I thought the quarterly plan cost $X. Or is this invoice for the entire year in advance?” And he CALLED ME. I could not answer at the time, so emailed him back, reiterated my question, and said that email is much better than calling. He called me AGAIN. I remember I picked up the phone because I was waiting for another call, but there was some incredibly stressful thing going on, and he was being super confusing and not answering my questions directly, so I started frustration-crying on the phone. It was awful. The upshoot was that he didn’t want to submit a specific quote in writing, because “their rates change based on unpredictable factors.” *Picture me right now, sitting at my desk, blinking slowly and taking multiple deep breaths.* Anyway, because I cried at him, he emailed me this: “as discussed on the phone. The current charge is your initial charge with a discounted rate. 3 months after your initial treatment we offer a discounted quarterly rate ~$X + tax on a regular quarterly basis.” Which, I have to say, STILL MAKES NO SENSE. Does that mean that the quarterly discount only kicks in… later??? And also, I want to know what we are going to pay, every quarter!!!!! “~$X” is not specific enough!!!!! I immediately started asking my neighbors who they use, even though we have used this particular service multiple times per year for over a decade. The only reason I have decided not to switch services is that I adore the man who does the actual spraying of the bugs. He is a lovely, kind, gentle man who asks about my kid and is always super flexible about timing and is very efficient. He is the kind of guy you could call to come over IMMEDIATELY and take care of any issue. Plus, he is getting up there, age-wise, and I just picture us canceling our service and him being out of a job. (This is ridiculous; they have other customers.) So we are, for now, keeping our service. But I am STILL MAD. In fact, I feel riled up enough that I am once again thinking of finding a new service. EDITED TO ADD: I asked our bug guy if he knew what today’s appointment was going to cost me, and he said he didn’t; he leaves that to the other guy, who will send me an invoice. So I still have no idea how much it cost. I DO NOT LIKE THIS.
  • It is a good time for the bug guy to come, because it is Spider Season. And I know that spiders are good and lovely and take care of other bugs, but during this time of year they get very bold and decide to break the Spider Covenant of out of sight, out of mind. Do they think they add to the Halloween ambiance? There was a spider in Carla’s room the other day, and she came shrieking into the living room to have one of us rescue her from its clutches, but then my husband couldn’t locate the spider to remove it. (I would have squished it. Am mean.) Carla KNOWS that the spider is still there, probably on her bed, maybe building a little web inside her pillowcase. She does not believe us that the spider has likely moved on. She has been sleeping in our room ever since.
  • Oh, speaking of stupid things that make no sense (yes, I am still exercised about the bug service situation): Do you remember I told you, a long while ago, about this absolutely RIDICULOUS bank situation? In short (or, as short as I can very wordily go), we have a loan through a bank, and the bank is holding a big chunk of our money as collateral against the loan. This bank has a policy stating that you (we) need to add some nominal amount of money to the account annually, or you (we) are charged an inactive fee. Even though I don’t WANT to add money, not even $5, to that account because we cannot touch it until the loan is paid. And even though I don’t have any sort of bank card that would allow me to do so without going, in person, to the bank. And even though the bank is nowhere near my house or any place I ever go. So every year I get a statement charging us an inactive fee, and every year I call the bank and ask them to remove it, and they give me a spiel about how easy it would be to avoid the fee, just by making a single annual transaction! And how it could just be $5! And how they have all these branches! (None nearer than a 30 minute drive.) I persist, getting louder and more strident, and finally they agree to remove the fee, and I ask that they make a note for next year, and they say they can’t. Remember when I whined at great length about that? Well! Last year, we got a statement that showed the inactive fee… and then showed an instant refund!!!! I did not have to call! SOMEONE MADE A NOTE! That is my hope, at least. I suppose it could have been a Pandemic Nicety. Anyway, I’m waiting for the statement to show up this year, just to see what happens. I know you are on the edge of your seat.
  • I got myself a jump rope. Carla has one and it seems fun. Plus, it reminds me of middle school gym class, and how Jump Rope for Heart! was a big health movement back then. It IS good exercise, I think. I don’t know for sure because I have yet to try it. I’m… nervous? Afraid of hitting myself in the face? Or… enduring excessive boob-flop pain? Or… having a heart attack? I don’t know. Also, I am pretty sure this is an Outdoor Activity, so that’s another hurdle. The jump rope is currently on the floor of my office. Do you jump rope? And if so, how do I begin my jump rope journey? Perhaps I shall begin by taking it with me to Goodwill and leaving it there?
  • Listen, I KNOW it’s only October, but I also know that you are aware – as are we all – that shipping and supply chain issues are causing delays and snarl-ups all over the place. So I am thinking about Christmas. Fretting is a more accurate word than thinking, except there is also a lot of inertia because it is sooooo far away and I am just coming out of a four-family-members-have-birthdays period over the last six weeks, with the fifth still to come. I persuaded my husband to order a couple of things for Carla already (thank you, Target, for having a “buy $50 in toys, get $10” promotion at the exact right time). (We got her a carnotaurus and an LOL OMG doll that she requested.) But literally no one else in my family is thinking about the holidays right now, except maybe my parents whom I have already bothered on the topic. And lord knows WHAT I will get my husband; I just had to buy presents for his birthday and it was rough. I ended up buying him a couple of things I’d purchased previously, that’s how out of ideas I am. Well. At least Santa Claus will have something to deliver to Carla. If the rest of us get nothing, that’s fine. We need nothing anyway.
  • This Christmas situation illuminates one of the Major Differences between my family of origin and my husband’s. I emailed my mom and asked her to start thinking about Christmas, and she happily complied. In fact, I had received an email previously from my dad, asking what we want to eat for Christmas dinner. They are Plan Ahead People. They have everything planned out for the next… nine months, I’d say. While I am not (always) that much of a planner, I do prefer to know what’s coming down the pike. My in-laws, on the other hand, are Spontaneous People. (This is why I end up wrapping so many gifts that they send us at the last minute grumble grumble.) They are also Christmas List People, who prefer that we all submit and choose from a list of specific items. (My parents are Money Gifters, who then also usually wrap something small to accompany the money.) My in-laws also live in a different state, so we have to ship all gifts to them. (And I prefer to buy them and wrap them before shipping them.) This is a bad combination, even in years without shipping and supply chain issues (not to mention all the health issues that are obviously and justifiably requiring significant attention). But this year it may be that everyone gets a Suzanne Hopes You Will Like This But Maybe You Won’t present.
  • Do you have a go-to gift that you send to people who have everything/people who are difficult to shop for? There has to be a Good General Gift that most people enjoy, right? Except I can’t think of one, outside of consumables like chocolate/wine/cheese.
  • And also, what would YOU, personally, like to receive as a gift? Like, right now, what is the thing that you are coveting most? For me, it is a citrus squeezer. Mine broke, and I use a citrus squeezer ALL the time, so I have been mourning its loss near-daily. Okay, after writing that, I just ordered one – it’s stainless steel, so the paint won’t wear off and it’s dishwasher safe! It will arrive on Friday. SORRY, PEOPLE WHO BUY ME GIFTS.
  • I really, reallllllllly wish that we could alllll agree that we are grown ups and do not need gifts anymore. Seriously. We can get the kids presents, if we want, but no one else needs anything. I just don’t know how to broach that topic. Like, it seems like one thing to say, “I would like you to stop buying me gifts; I have everything I need” but a whole different thing to say, “I would like to stop purchasing gifts for you.” Yeah. Makes me sound like a dick. *Resigned sigh of gift anxiety forever and ever amen.* 
  • At least I don’t have to worry about Thanksgiving! My in-laws are hosting Thanksgiving at their house, in a different state, despite the fact that it is their year with us, and despite the fact that my husband and I established nearly a decade ago that we will not travel on holidays, and despite the fact that there is still an ongoing global pandemic that makes travel – especially crowded holiday travel – unideal. (And lest you think I am being heartless, they made these plans before all the health turmoil.) (I am still being a little heartless, but the whole thing irks me.) So! It will just be the three of us, here at home! My IDEAL! I suspect I will still need to make turkey and stuffing, since my husband likes those things. (Bleh.) I can probably get away with a small turkey breast, though, which will be nice. And I am delighted that I get to make a big vat of garlic goat cheese mashed potatoes to slowly coat myself in.
  • OMG I usually tip our bug guy but I FORGOT to get tip money and had none. He said goodbye at the front door, but then his shoes were at the back door, so we trekked through the kitchen, saying things like “keep safe!” and “see you next quarter!” But then at the back door, I had to wait as he put on his shoes and tied them and tried to make small talk about the weather while I was very blatantly NOT giving him a tip. And then he got his shoes on and walked through the garage and reminded me to close the garage door and we must have said goodbye/take care to each other at least four times all while I was not giving him a tip OMG it was so awkward. I hope he knows I will get him next time.

That’s it from me, Internet. After that grueling interaction, not to mention the anticipation thereof, I need to lie down for the rest of the day. (Kidding. Mainly.)

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If you are up for feeling ranty about something completely inconsequential in The Grand Scheme, please join me for a VERY long and ranty rant. I am Super Peeved right now, so I am putting it all down here and releasing the peevedness into the universe so that it will leave me alone.

Our final payment for our car was due on Tuesday. We exchanged that car for a new car the previous Saturday, meaning that we did not need to make the final payment. But we forgot that our automatic online bill pay system was on top of things, and was ready to make the payment for us.

The instant we realized this – middle of the nightish Monday – we figured out how to stop the payment. I called the bank on Tuesday, first thing, and they stopped the payment. We could see in our account that the money briefly left… and was then returned.

Great. Easy peasy.

Wednesday, we received an email from the car company saying thank you for your payment. Sigh.

I called the bank and explained what happened. Nope, they said. We can see that you stopped the payment. See? Right there? In your account? It was stopped.

Okay, great.

Yesterday: An email from a Third Party Online Bill Pay Service, which pays bills for our bank. They had submitted the payment to the car company, but our bank would not release the money to pay them. Because we had, you know, STOPPED THE PAYMENT. So our online bill pay service is now suspended and we are on the hook for the money that they paid, even though we supposedly stopped the payment. (The bigger of the two issues is the suspended bill pay service. We have four automated bills coming up before the end of the month, and, okay, I guess if the solution is “just write four checks” it’s not THAT big of a deal. But it is ANNOYING.)

(I have not yet called the car company, to see if they can simply RETURN THE MONEY for the car we no longer own.)

I called the Third Party Service. I sat on hold for 17 minutes (yes I am counting because I am PEEVED) before someone answered. She was polite but not friendly. I explained my issue to her. She needed my social security number and email address and birth date and verified that she could not see any issues.

But… I got this email, I told her. An email that says our service has been suspended.

Nope. She can’t see that there is any issue with my bill pay service.

But… this email.

We went round and round for a bit. Finally, I asked her if the fact that the email went to my husband’s email address was significant. Aha. Yes. Apparently, even though the money with which we pay our bills comes from a joint account, my husband is the one who set up the bill paying system under his name and social security number. Therefore, I cannot make any sort of decisions for the online bill paying system. My husband needs to be the one who calls.


Me: Okay, what are your hours?

Third Party: 8:00 to 5:00. In fact, we are closed right now. [What? Why did they answer then?] [Also, it was past six, so they must have been operating out of a different time zone, which is kind of a relevant detail.]

Me: Well… My husband is not available during those hours. So what kind of information can I get you that would allow me to talk to someone about this issue?

Third Party: Sorry. Only your husband.

Me: But he isn’t available.

Third Party: He doesn’t have to “be available.” All he has to do is get on the phone at the same time, WITH YOU, and confirm that you can handle this without him. [I am paraphrasing.]

Me: I’m so sorry, I must not be being clear. My husband is at work during the hours you mentioned. He cannot make a phone call during that time.

Third Party: He doesn’t have to MAKE A PHONE CALL. He simply needs to be ON THE PHONE while you are on the phone so he can authorize you to take over.

At this point, my frustration boiled over. My voice got high pitched and shaky. I was near tears. I told her how I knew it wasn’t her fault, but I was really frustrated, we had stopped the payment in advance, this shouldn’t be an issue, and we have a JOINT ACCOUNT FOR PETE’S SAKE, I have as much say over the disbursal of the money in that account as he does, so WHY can’t I talk to someone about fixing this problem?

She repeated a) that they are now closed and b) that he doesn’t have to be AVAILABLE, he just has to be on the phone with me long enough to give them permission to talk to me.

So I thanked her, hung up, wrote a bunch of all-caps texts to my husband (who, at 6:37 pm was STILL AT WORK because that is how things are for some people, in fact, for LOTS OF PEOPLE, this can’t be the first time a human has needed to conduct routine business during non-business hours?!?!?!?!), and called the bank.

My thinking is: I called the bank on Tuesday and stopped the payment. Whatever happened next is THE BANK’S FAULT and they should fix it.

My call with the bank started well. The customer service rep was very friendly and nice.

I confirmed with him that we had stopped the payment. Yes, we had. Then I told him my whole sob story, including that Third Party wouldn’t let me untangle the mess and I hoped that he, Bank Guy, would be able to fix it, considering that it was something that happened AFTER I called the bank to stop this payment.

He was totally going to help me. He first did some sort of poking around in the background and then explained to me that only my husband had enrolled in the online bill pay service, which was therefore tied to his social security number. I was not enrolled in online bill pay at all, he informed me. So for obvious security purposes, Third Party couldn’t deal with someone who wasn’t my husband. He said it had nothing to do with our having a joint account. I found this information useful and thanked him.

Then he started… talking around the situation. Saying things like, “And they were saying that they needed to talk to your husband because it’s his information, and then he could easily tell them that it’s okay for you to handle the rest of the conversation.” And, “It’s totally frustrating that things like this happen, ma’am.” And, “You did everything right on your end and it seems like things got a little mixed up.” You know, being really empathetic and showing that he understood the situation. 

Finally, I figured out that he was no longer just trying to be nice. What he was saying was, HE couldn’t help me. (I literally had to ask him, “Are you saying that you cannot help me reinstate my suspended account?”) I still had to deal with Third Party. Which meant that I still had to somehow get my husband on the phone between 8:00 and 5:00. 

I lost it a little. Not angry – just, you know, high pitched voice, shaky, sweating, near tears. Delightful. And I told Bank Guy that my husband CANNOT MAKE THAT WORK. He is NOT AVAILABLE. And I also said, “I did the right thing, right? What happened after I stopped the payment? Why did it not actually STOP?” And he gave me some B.S. answer about how the Third Party system must have gotten confused. I tried to say, Well, since I STOPPED THE PAYMENT, then I think it is up to the bank and the Third Party Bill Paying Service to work it out.

That is when his tone shifted. Nice, patient, empathetic Bank Guy was done with me. He started speaking very slowly and loudly.

“Just to clarify, your husband doesn’t actually have to be on the phone,” he said over and over. (Which, what? YES HE DOES, that is exactly what you are saying.) “He can be on a three-way call with you, and tell Third Party, ‘you can talk to my wife.’” 

“He isn’t available during the hours they are open,” I said.

“I’m QUITE SURE HE GETS A LUNCH BREAK, MA’AM,” the guy said, very slowly and loudly.

At that point, I took a very deep breath, thanked him, and said goodbye. 

Listen. I am not saying that my husband deserves special treatment. He does not! But I AM SAYING that there are probably LOTS OF PEOPLE who are not available between those very specific hours, and that it is ridiculous that they cannot talk to me and YES I KNOW SECURITY CONCERNS BLAH BLAH BLAH I AM JUST MAD, OKAY? 

And I am not exaggerating about his availability! My husband has seventeen patients tomorrow. If he gets to eat lunch on any given day, and that is never certain because he is almost always running late, he scarfs it down between phone calls to patients, or while he is reviewing pathology reports, or while he is writing his patient notes and recommendations. Sometimes in a day he does not get to use the bathroom. He typically leaves the house at sixish and comes home around eightish. This is just how it is.

But, just to realllllly address the skepticism, let’s say he HAS a free five minutes. Is there a guarantee that we will get through to a customer service person in that small timeframe? NO. And do you REALLY think that they are going to let him bark, “Talk to my wife” into the phone and leave? NO. He will have to do all sorts of identification verification stuff before they let him go. So even if he could find a few minutes during his LUNCH BREAK – OMG I am apoplectic about that phrase for some reason – it’s not necessarily going to be enough time. 

PLUS – PLUS!!!! – there should be a SOLUTION other than “just make a three-way call.” What if he were out of the country? What if he were sequestered in jury duty? What if he were dead? (God forbid.) (I am being hyperbolic because I am PEEVED.)

I guess the moral of the story is that I need to be automatically ON EVERYTHING. But man is that frustrating! 

And also! Can we all agree that this is, in fact, THE FAULT OF THE BANK? That THE BANK should be working with the Third Party Bill Paying Service to figure out how to get them their money back? Because I STOPPED THE PAYMENT. I even called back the next day and confirmed it! And they verified it by looking at my account! 

I want THE BANK to call Third Party between the hours of 8:00 and 5:00 and DEAL WITH THIS. 

Man. This is why middle-aged white women get a bad rap, right? I am so worked up about this that I want to go nuclear. I want to call the bank and talk to A Manager. I want to immediately and forevermore remove all our money – checking and savings and money market account – from this bank to another bank. Maybe I am being entitled and unreasonable. But right now, my vision is so clouded by how INFURIATING this all is, that I can’t see that. 

My next call, as soon as they open, will be the car company which apparently got our STOPPED payment. Perhaps they can return it to the Third Party and everything will go away. 

Now I need to go take some calming breaths so I can talk to the car company without shrieking.

Edit: Now I have called the car company. The customer service person asked if my husband had authorized me to handle this — eternal screaming — and I said yes, and he said fine. Then he submitted my “request” to, you know, not accept money that we do not in fact owe them, to a “team” for “review” and told me that it should take 3-5 business days for us to get our check. He was by FAR the nicest customer service person I dealt with this entire time, but I could tell he was a little suspicious of my motives, even after I explained why I was so anxious to get the payment back.

Now I am going to go clean the bathrooms. There’s nothing like a little righteous anger for making it Very Satisfying to scrub toilets and shower pans.

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