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Posts Tagged ‘Why do you hate me Target?’

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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It snowed last night! Our first Real Snow of the season! Woo hoo! So I’m feeling chatty.

I suppose this is just a regular old Friday randomosity, dressed up in slightly different clothes.

Being a Parent Sometimes Means Forcing Your Kid to Go to School Crying

Hoo boy we had a rough start to the day. Poor Carla woke up on the WRONG side of the bed. And, oh, how I empathize. That feeling of dozens of little angry crabs, skittering all over your skin and clamping their tiny sharp claws into your brain, is so familiar to me, and I have dealt with it hundreds of times over the years and STILL don’t know how to get through it without snapping at my husband and/or feeling wounded by any tiny slight and/or wanting nothing more than to climb back into bed and start over. But for Carla, it’s still a new experience. She just doesn’t GET cranky, and so it’s been a long time since she’s felt this way and she hasn’t yet figured out how to cope.

I tried to be empathetic – validating her feelings, lots of hugs, keeping my own frustration in check (we left the house TWENTY MINUTES LATE) – but matter-of-fact. Being cranky happens, and it feels rotten, and nonetheless we all have to go on with life and do the things we have to do. I tried to suggest some strategies for getting past the yucky feelings. (I tried not to sigh too loudly when she rejected them all.) And then I dropped her off at school, even though she was tearful and upset, and I am hoping hoping hoping that her day only goes up from here.

Okay, despite my anxiety about being That Mom, I sent an email to her teacher just to check on her. (Not sure what I will DO, if her teacher says she is still crying… go get her? That seems like both the Wrong Lesson and the Right Thing to Do.)

Cleaning Before the Cleaner Arrives, Helpful or Ridiculous?

One of the reasons Carla was cranky (I think) is because I gave her a Hard Choice this morning. She was supposed to tidy her bedroom and her bathroom last night, in preparation for the housecleaner. I reminded her twice. I asked her whether she’d done it, and she said yes. But then, well after she was asleep for the night, I had to go into her bathroom for something and discovered that she had NOT tidied the bathroom. The opposite, in fact: sodden Barbies lying facedown on the bath mat, a full Barbie swimming pool in the tub, toy catalog on the counter, hair ties and rocks (yes, rocks) on the floor, pajamas wadded up in the corner. I know that some people who have housecleaners believe that the housecleaner can handle stuff like this. And I’m sure our very capable housecleaner could. But it is my view that time spent tidying – especially tidying away toys and things whose homes you may not be aware of – takes precious time away from the CLEANING. For me, the value of the housecleaning is in the scrubbing of the toilet and the scouring of the bathtub and the mopping of the floor. Some people in our house may disagree but I FIRMLY AGREE with myself on this point. So Carla’s bathroom door has been shut tight and the housecleaner has been instructed to stay out, and Carla will be getting some hands-on experience with what I mean by TIDYING vs CLEANING because she will be doing both.

Okay, so I also gave the microwave a quick swipe (there was a Ham Incident the other day, which I mostly took care of at the time, but exploded ham bits are surprisingly evasive) and wiped down the stove top (I haven’t even MADE anything on the stove lately, WHY was it so FILTHY?) before our housecleaner arrived because I don’t want her to think we are total pigs.

Stepping Out on Your True Love: Will It Rekindle the Fire, or Cause the Relationship to Implode?

The thing I REALLY wanted to discuss with you, before all the morning’s crankiness and associated anxieties derailed me, is that I have had a Startling Revelation. I think I am growing weary of my one true love: tea.

I hope you took that paragraph break to allow the magnitude of this revelation to sink in. Because it has taken me a few weeks to come around to this understanding. Historically, I LOVE tea. Double Bergamot Earl Grey has been my faithful and delicious companion every weekday since I discovered it, with splurge days on the weekends when I drink my fancy Uncle Grey imported from Canada. Before that, I drank regular Earl Grey or English Breakfast. I can’t remember exactly when I started drinking tea, but I know that it has at LEAST been for eight years (one of my fondest memories from Carla’s first year of life is that my husband made me tea every single morning and brought it to me while I pumped), and probably for several years before that.

But these past few weeks, I’ve had waning enthusiasm for my tea. It doesn’t taste quite as good, I find myself dragging when I need to prepare it, I end up gulping it down to get it over with instead of savoring it. It’s just not giving me the joy that a warm morning cuppa should give a person.

I don’t think I can switch to other teas. I don’t really like most teas – the fruity kinds, no thank you. Rooibos and Chai are okay on occasion but not every day. I like green tea, but it doesn’t have the same comfort factor that Earl Grey does. Matcha is wonderful, but it requires so much milk and frothing and so on to make it the way I like it.

So NOW WHAT.

Today, I asked my husband to make a little extra coffee and so I am drinking that. It is… not good. It is too bitter, even with two packets of Sweet’n Low and my normal glug of half-and-half. When I am not drinking it, the inside of my mouth tastes metallic and sour, and I’m sure my breath is a delight. I made sure to eat a high-protein breakfast before I drank it, but I still feel like it’s making me jittery and a little queasy. How do people drink this every day?

I used to drink coffee. When I was eight, my mom brought home these beautiful bowls from France and she would make me café-au-lait for breakfast. When I went to her office after school, I would help myself to coffee and powdered creamer and many, many packets of sugar in the break room. During my first summer job during college, I would live for the few minutes when I could step away from filing and pour scalding coffee into a paper cup and doctor it until it was creamy and sweet. At some point in my life, I was a fan of Pumpkin Spice Lattes. So I have gone through multiple coffee drinking periods in the course of my life.

But I can’t say I ever really liked coffee. When I left it behind a decade or so ago, I intended never to return. Still, I don’t really want to get back into it, now. It would require too much sugar, for one thing. Too much half-and-half. Too much… amped-up quease. (I feel like the non-word “quease” evokes the feeling much better than the word-word “queasiness.”)

But what else IS there? I need a warm cup of something in the mornings! (PLEASE don’t say warm milk. Hork.)

Maybe I will drink coffee for a few days and then see if I have a newfound appreciation for tea. Or maybe I will find myself sucked into the coffee cult that has thoroughly brainwashed my husband and Lorelai Gilmore and so many others (maybe even you?).

Edited to add: It took me many hours to finish this post; distractions abound! So this is Future Me reporting back to you on today’s coffee sitch: I have still not finished my cup of coffee; my mug is still one-third full and the liquid is cold and my head feels powered by hummingbird wings and my stomach is a-sail on choppy seas. This is not a promising beginning.

A Strange and Unfamiliar Dilemma Arises!

This is not an actual problem.

We ordered our holiday cards on Sunday and they arrived ON WEDNESDAY. People, it is STILL NOVEMBER. This has NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. I am absolutely delighted. (We ordered through Mpix.com – it was a great experience, through and through. The cards look great, even if adding a photo to a card and printing it didn’t make the awkward way I am holding my arm in said photo look any less awkward.)

But now I am facing a quandary: when do I send the cards? Part of me wants to send them NOW, get them off my desk (my office has become Holiday Storage Central, and is full of boxes that I can’t bear myself to throw away and gifts for people), and perhaps achieve the ever-elusive status of being someone’s First Holiday Card of the Season. (Our First Holiday Card of the Season usually arrives from one of the few high school friends I continue to talk to as an adult. I am anticipating it any day now.)

But the other part of me is resisting this. I don’t know why. Maybe because I am a firmly Wait Until After Thanksgiving holiday celebrant? Maybe because I don’t want to be first? Perhaps people will toss the card because it’s so early, or perhaps I am uncomfortable with the idea of MY awkwardly posed arm being on someone’s wall or mantel all alone for days or weeks? I don’t know. It seems too early!

Then again, Hanukkah is early this year, and begins the weekend after Thanksgiving. Part of the reason we send holiday cards instead of Christmas cards is because so many of our card recipients are Jewish. It would be nice for the holiday card to arrive DURING the holidays, rather than after them. (Although I doubt that any of our Jewish card recipients care all that much; Hanukkah isn’t really that big a deal, and they are likely inured to the tradition of getting “holiday” cards during Christmastime.)

All this to say: I am sort of leaning toward sending them out on December first. That puts them arriving solidly in December, and hopefully before Hanukkah ends.

You Can Bet I Filled Out the Customer Survey, and I Filled It Out GOOD

Yesterday saw me flitting about from store to store, running errands. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve done something so carefree. I was looking for three specific things: 1. Candles for the menorah, which I did not find. 2. Ideas for a “giant crate filled with crafting supplies,” which was the top item on Carla’s letter to Santa. 3. A tiny, not-terribly-expensive salt and pepper shaker set that I can use when my parents are here; I did not find this, either. I did manage to spend a lot more money than my lack of success would imply.

Oh! Brief deviation from the topic, which I haven’t even GOTTEN to yet: I thought it was so fascinating to see how differently stores are handling the pandemic. Many stores had signs on their entrances, but I don’t think any of them were the same. “Masks required” said one, with a sentence below in smaller print citing CDC recommendations. “Masks recommended for unvaccinated individuals” said another. “Masks optional” said a third, which is similar to the second, but conveys a very different vibe.

One of the stores I visited was Target. I haven’t been in Target in a long while, partly because I haven’t needed anything from Target in a long time and partly because I love, with my whole heart, the option to order my items online and have someone deliver them to my car. CURBSIDE 4EVA.

It was sort of pleasant and nostalgic to wander around Target for awhile. It wasn’t terribly busy, and I could see with my own eyes that they were, in fact, completely out of Carla’s size in fleece-lined leggings. (I don’t know why I keep buying them, because holes sprout in the knees practically immediately.) (I do know why: they are cheap.)

I narrowly avoided buying any of the cute Christmassy appetizer plates they had for $3 apiece. I am beginning to think that was a mistake.

I was not able to resist the miniature office supplies set, which will make its way into Carla’s stocking.

image from target.com

But when I checked out, I reconnected with one of my biggest peeves about Target. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve complained about it before. But my peeve has been so inflamed that I am going to complain about it again.

When you checkout, there is almost NO WAY to see whether you are being charged appropriately for each item. Long, long ago, so long ago that I am willing to admit it may be a figment of my wildest dreams, you could go up to the credit card reader, and it would show you what you were buying in real time, as the checker scanned your items. No more. Now, if you have even a small hope of glimpsing what the computer says you owe, you have to stand back at the conveyor belt – which makes it very awkward to fill your cart as the checker bags your items – and squint at the computer screen facing the checker. Facing the checker, not facing YOU. And the type is so small that you have very little hope of seeing the price of each item anyway. In larger type is the total of your purchase, but that requires instantaneous math, and I am not good at that in the best of times, less so when I am in public.

We all know that Target makes errors. It is OFTEN that an item will scan at a different price than is displayed on the shelf. And the placement of the computer makes it nearly impossible to know that this is happening.

Also, the only way to know the total you are about to pay is to listen carefully to the checker, who has to say it out loud to you. It does not even give a total on the card reader! This is madness!

HARUMPH.

I did get a customer survey in my email later that day, which I took great pleasure in filling out. Not that it will do a lick of good.

Suspected Shipping Snafu Turned Sweet Surprise!

A box from amazon arrived the other day, as is an all-too-frequent occurrence in these days leading up to the holidays. (I am trying to wean myself off of amazon, I AM, but it is difficult.)

The box was addressed to me; I was expecting some fleece-lined leggings I’d ordered for Carla, to replace her hole-y Target ones. So I opened it.

Inside was a smaller box, with a label that said “lidded casserole.”

This was something I had JUST THE DAY BEFORE put on a list of Christmas wishes that I had shared with my husband. My guess what that he had accidentally sent it to me because I am the intended recipient. So I sighed and put it back in the box, resolving to be So! Surprised! when it appeared under the tree on Christmas Day.

But when he came home, he swore he hadn’t ordered one for me.

Turns out it was a thank-you gift from his parents! When they were here, I’d mentioned that I was constantly on the lookout for a medium sized casserole dish… and my mother-in-law remembered and sent me TWO!

What a fun and thoughtful surprise!

That’s the note I’ll end on. Well, and this additional note, from Carla’s teacher, that she arrived to class her cheerful, happy self. PHEW.

Hope you have a lovely weekend, Internet!

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Thank you, first of all, for your kind words; my mother-in-law made it through surgery with flying colors and we will know more about next steps soon. 

Are you up for talking about the pandemic a bit? Cases are rising and school is back in session and, while it never went away, not by a long shot, the topic of COVID is much more front-and-center in my brain space lately.

The other day, when I was posting about our weekend activities, I had a moment of panic: we are doing TOO MUCH. We are still in a pandemic, and we are acting as though we are not!

I talked it through with my husband and we both looked at each other with fearful eyes, but ultimately agreed that this is where we are. We are still wearing masks in public spaces. We are still limiting our interactions with other people – outdoors, mainly people we know and believe to be handling COVID the way we are. We are still saying no to things that seem “unsafe.”

And yet. We are doing SO MUCH.

Our lives are nowhere near the same as they once were. But we are doing so much more than last year. I don’t know if this is the right way to do things. I don’t think we are being completely devil-may-care about the whole thing, but I do recognize that we are expanding our bubble. No – we no longer have “a bubble.” And that’s a little unsteadying. Part of me thinks we should keep as tight a lid on things as we ever did, considering Carla is still unvaccinated. But the other part of me believes that COVID is now a part of our lives, going forward, forevermore. And while I feel like we are still being prudent, I also feel like we are trying to find a way to live our lives in this new way. 

Ugh. I hate it when people say “we’re just trying to live our lives” or “we’re just learning how to live with COVID.” Because that so often is accompanied by behaviors that I find appalling. And maybe you find my increased activities appalling! And maybe they are! Heavy, bewildered sigh.

And UGH. It is so hard. Because there is no One Right Way, and I know that I am being less stringent than some (who have good, valid reasons to be stringent!) and more stringent than others (who are probably feeling some less-restrictive version of my own “we are trying to find a way to live our lives”!). So if you read my posts with distaste, please know that I hear you, and I’m sorry if I am disappointing you, and I have felt that way in the past and in the current time and I really have no idea what the “right” thing is. 

Not exposing other people, of course, is at the top of the list. And Carla goes to school, so I feel anxious right there about the potential of infecting others. But also… when we hang out with other kids, they already go to her school. And I know that many of her classmates (not to mention many, many of the students who are in her grade, or other grades at the same school) are nowhere near as careful as we are. But that doesn’t mean we should be incautious! Argggggghhhh! Circles of pandemic worrying! 

Anyway, I thought I would post about Where We Are in the Pandemic Currently, considering I used to post pandemic-related things more frequently, and it’s been awhile. Here’s what I’ve got for you. 

My Target is looking very bare these days. An acquaintance mentioned that toilet paper is going to be in short supply again, and I haven’t bought any toilet paper for myself (mainly because I have a Costco toilet paper in the guest room closet, purchased last fall when toilet paper seemed more abundant but I was less confident about the duration of said abundance). But I have noticed occasional rolling shortages. The big one, for me, was when my grocery store was out of my preferred brand of sriracha  for three weeks in a row… and then my target was also out of it… and then when I mentioned it casually to a stocker at my grocery store, he shrugged and said, “Yeah, we keep ordering it and it keeps not coming.” So I did order a BUNCH of sriracha and now I am well-stocked and of course my grocery store now has plenty of sriracha on the shelves. That is a desert island food for me; I use sriracha the way most people use salt; I could certainly live without it if I HAD TO, but I prefer not to thankyouverymuch.

Speaking of shortages: my grocery store was COMPLETELY OUT of boneless skinless chicken breast. Boneless skinless chicken anything, in fact. As BSCB is a staple of my family’s diet, I was quite miffed by this turn of events. 

* * *

This past July, Carla and I flew on an airplane (four airplanes, to be technical) to visit my parents. As I am sure you understand, my husband and I made the decision to risk putting our unvaccinated child on an airplane after much discussion and weighing of various risks. My husband did not join us; one reason was work and another reason was that HE is not ready to get on an airplane yet, so I think you will understand also that I was Very Jumpy about traveling. 

Our plan for the air travel was this: Double mask on the plane and in the airport. Stay away from crowds if at all possible in the airport. Eat and drink only FAR away from other people. Eat and drink as little as possible on the plane. 

(Our plan for being with my parents: No eating in restaurants, no crowds. Very simple to stick with because they live in the literal middle of nowhere.)

We did okay, I think. We didn’t really eat anything on the way THERE; the flight times worked out that we ate breakfast before we left, and then ate a very early dinner when we arrived. Carla is a champion traveler and a champion masker. And the airport in which we had a layover had an outdoor space! So we spent our time between flights outside. Still masked, because there were a decent number of people out there, but we technically could have removed our masks and been okay, which made it feel better.

On the way HOME, our departure airport also had an outdoor space. We had arrived two hours early, as recommended, but it is a small airport and we have TSA pre-check, so we got through security in about five minutes. So we sat outside for ninety minutes, enjoying a mostly-empty space (it was raining lightly, which kept other people indoors), and eating some snacks. 

But once it got close to time to board, we went inside. And. Sigh. Even though masks are REQUIRED, so many people were either wearing them below their chins or just not wearing them at all. 

There was a college football team on our flight. And SO MANY OF THEM just didn’t wear a mask. 

When you are flying, the flight attendants have added a little “Masks are required by the FAA” spiel to their pre-flight commentary. On the flight with the college football team, the flight attendant looked especially stern as she recited the rules – “you must wear a mask over your nose and mouth” – but STILL I could see at least one footballer sitting there mask free. And OF COURSE I don’t know his life; maybe he has a legit reason to be going without a mask. But I meanly wondered whether he is just aware that he is an enormous, intimidating football beast of a man and is pretty sure no one is going to press him to do anything he doesn’t want to. Harrumph. 

(My coping thought was that, of ALL people, a college football team must SURELY be vaccinated.) 

We did not pay for first class seats, so I sat in the middle seat on all flights while Carla got the window. I felt this gave her at least a LITTLE separation from all the germy strangers. On our very last (three-hour) flight, the woman next to me was… not exactly mask-averse, but certainly mask-relaxed. She knew the person in the middle seat in the row in front of us, and would occasionally chat at him, pulling her mask down to do so. She ordered a drink and snacks when the flight attendants came around and did not pull her mask up in between bites/sips (which is what I did, and instructed Carla to do – although she ate a few Hi-Chew and that was it). And then she pulled out a snack pack she’d brought. And then just didn’t put her mask on at all. 

I fretted and fretted and wrote and revised a million little scripts in my head, trying to come up with the perfect, friendly, non-judgmental way to ask her to put her mask back on AS REQUIRED BY LAW. Before I could say anything, she asked me if I could turn on her overhead light for her and that was my chance! So I said, trying to smile brightly behind my masks, “Would you mind putting your mask back on? My daughter isn’t vaccinated.” It was not the perfectly scripted and breezily-stated request I wanted to make, but we do what we can with the tools we have, and my tools are anxiety and blurting. Thankfully, she did so without comment and I turned on her light and she kept her mask on for the rest of the flight. 

* * *

A good friend and his spouse got COVID, even though they are both vaccinated. Fortunately, they recovered quickly and fully. We know that the vaccine is not 100% effective; what we are aiming for is to keep people out of the hospital/alive, not to eradicate COVID completely. And yet it is still scary. 

* * *

Some friends recently invited us for dinner. The parents are fully vaccinated, but the kids are not (they are Carla’s age). Before visiting, my husband and I fretted over how to address mask-wearing. We finally settled on saying something like, “We have been having all the kids wear masks when Carla has playdates, but the grownups have been going mask free” when we  responded with our delighted, “yes, we’d love to see you.” But then they replied, “Oh, our kids are terrible at wearing masks… we can try to force them to keep one on while you’re here if you prefer…” My husband wanted me to respond that yes, we DO prefer. But ugh. I felt really squicky about that because 1) they had invited us to THEIR house, and it feels really weird to demand that people do something new/different in their own house and 2) if their kids aren’t used to wearing masks, would they even be able to do so effectively? and 3) UGGGGHHHHHHH. The whole thing is SO AWKWARD. 

We ended up making Carla wear a mask in their house, and then encouraging all of the kids to play outdoors. Everything worked out okay. But it all felt So Fraught. 

* * *

Carla and I had doctor’s and dentist’s appointments a few weeks ago. One doctor’s office has, in big letters on the door, a sign saying, “MASKS REQUIRED” and then below that in medium letters, “Because we are a healthcare facility, the CDC guidance says everyone should wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.” 

Carla and I opened that door, went into the waiting room, and stopped… because two patients were sitting there without masks on at all. Both facing the door into the exam rooms which also featured the same sign.

We waited in the hall. And then when the doctor asked if Carla wanted to wait for me in the waiting room, I said, “My daughter is unvaccinated. Is there someplace she can sit where she doesn’t have to be around other people?” and the doctor said of course and let Carla sit inside the exam suite. She cringed when I asked and said, “We have all these signs!” But of course if you don’t enforce the rules, the people who don’t want to follow them AREN’T GOING TO, see above Re: college football player.

When I had to return to this same doctor’s office last week, another person was maskless in the waiting room. This time, I said something passive aggressive – like, “Oh, I’ll just wait outside while people aren’t wearing masks” – and when I was called back for my appointment, the unmasked person had put a mask on.

* * *

Carla’s school is requiring masks of ALL people in her school this coming year. I am so relieved. Even though most (though, as we discovered during the same announcement, not all) of the teachers and staff are vaccinated, I just feel better knowing that everyone is wearing masks. (Some parents complained that vaccinated teachers/staff have to wear masks around our unvaccinated children. To which I give a long, weary sigh.)

The class sizes are larger than they were last year (Carla’s grade had a maximum of ten kids in each classroom last year, for instance, and two of those kids were remote), but they are as large as they were originally. They are enforcing three-foot distancing. Kids eat in classrooms as they did last year, behind three-sided shields. There are cohorts, and the scheduling of non-core classes (language, PE, music, art) has been rearranged to limit “mixing” of those cohorts. We know from last year that if we need to go remote (please please please no), we can do so fairly easily. And everyone is wearing masks.

I am very, very, very grateful that we chose to send Carla to this particular school and that we have the ability to continue to send her there, and I am very, very, very aware of what a privilege it is to do so.

* * *

A dear friend – one who was one of the two families we got together with regularly last year – has invited us to a special birthday event… and my husband and I want to decline, because it is so far removed from our particular comfort zone. (Which, as I have said, is much expanded from last year!) But this event involves multiple people together in a vehicle, and multiple people together inside a restaurant, and we are just not comfortable. It is especially hard/weird because our families were so aligned last year on COVID protocols… and now somehow we are not. It is so hard to say no in this instance and blame it on COVID! I think they will understand, because they are wonderful people, but I also think their feelings will be hurt. ARRRGGGGHHHH.

* * *

think I am seeing an uptick in mask-wearing in public spaces. When the mask mandate in my state expired earlier this year, I was often the only person wearing a mask at the grocery store. (I went mask-free for about three stores, and then immediately went back to wearing a mask in public spaces.) Now, the number of masked customers is MUCH higher. Which is a relief. 

* * *

A person who lives in a very COVID-relaxed state invited us to visit. When we declined, this person reacted in a way that made me think they were very put out by our response. 

In almost the same breath, this person – not a medical expert in any way – advised that we not vaccinate Carla. Sigh of exhaustion. 

* * *

As you are, I’m sure, I am so very tired of dealing with all this. 

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Sometimes the day just seems to fall apart before it’s even really gotten going. Like today, when Carla was late to camp because we (I) forgot an essential at home and we had to turn around to get it. 

And then I went to Target to return some ill-fitting water shoes, and decided to pick up a couple more pairs of jean shorts for Carla because she prefers jean shorts to anything else. And there was a big display of Cat & Jack shorts that said “comfy jean shorts $10!” Under the sign were multiple piles of jean shorts, in multiple colors, and I looked suspiciously at some of the tags that clearly said $15 instead of $10… but Target is notoriously bad about many things that involve any sort of detail orientation, so I grabbed two pairs. Target also makes it nearly impossible to see what you are being charged as each item goes over the scanner: the only way to do it is to stand back by the conveyor belt and stare over the checker’s shoulder at their computer. Of course, I missed seeing the shorts scan. And I am terrible at math, so I thought maybe the final price was a little high, but could be in the realm of accurate? (I grew up in a state with no sales tax and have NEVER SINCE been able to figure it out.) I even asked the checker if the shorts rang up as $10 and he looked and said yes. This is a very long and boring story!

As I left the store, I looked at the receipt and one pair had indeed rung up as $15, so I went back in and asked at customer service what the deal was. And they shrugged and said, “Well, the display meant that THESE comfy shorts are $10, but not all of them.” And while I was trying to parse that in my head, I nodded and shoved the shorts back in my bag and left, and then fumed all the way home about not simply returning the shorts when I had paid $5 more than I intended to pay for them. Or at the very least saying what I wanted to say which was, “Well, that is a deeply misleading sign.” 

Anyway! Home!

To discover a giant leak underneath my kitchen sink. All of the cleaning supplies and trash bags and extra Scrub Daddies were completely soaked. 

And while I was removing each item and then drying out the cupboard and trying to diagnose the source of the leak (why? how? I am not equipped for that nor for addressing a leak should I find one), the pest control people CALLED ME BACK.

Which just added to my hatred of this morning because I had specifically asked – via email (after I had responded, via email to an invoice, and he left me a garbled voicemail) – that the guy EMAIL ME INSTEAD OF CALLING.

Not only is he boldly ignoring an explicit and reasonable request, he is trying to retroactively change the pricing terms we had discussed before I had the pest control people come out to deal with a Wasp Situation. And I was Very Frustrated and Sharp with him on the phone, and told him that I didn’t mean to be sharp, but I was dealing with a leak and this was not a good time (why did I answer the phone? why did I bring home the $15 shorts?) and would he please EMAIL ME all the rates that we had discussed, and instead of saying, “Sure,” he said, “Oh I understand completely, give me a call back when it is more convenient.” NO. EMAIL ME. OMG. 

His reasoning is that their rates change, so I guess he didn’t want to commit to something in writing. Which a) is bullshit and b) can’t he simply spell that out in the email??????

I did finally persuade him to email me, but it took an increasingly strident and near-tears additional request.

Oh, and now that I am writing this out, I do think he finally agreed to email me what we’d talked about (EXACTLY) so that I could talk it over with my husband, which in retrospect seems VERY condescending and sexist and jerkfacey. I mean, I was being quite short with him, but wanting to see a list of rates rather than having to remember all the specifics shared during a conversation, especially when I am otherwise distracted, is a reasonable desire and not an example of my poor feminine brain being unable to compute simple numbers. And if I didn’t absolutely adore the guy who comes to do the application of pest spray, I would find a new pet control company in a heartbeat. 

These things are all handle-able. They ARE. None of this is the end of the world, or even, taken individually, that big of a deal. I am not despondent, just frustrated. Frustrated because of these things and because today was supposed to be my one day this week to do some writing. (Does venting to you count as writing?)

Frustrated, too, because I am in a phase where everything seems to be falling apart: our fridge is still on the fritz, which means either an expensive repair or a new fridge; the shade in our bathroom no longer goes up more than a few inches; the WASP SITUATION; there is a stain on our front siding that I scrubbed off last week and has since reappeared, indicating a potential leak inside our soffit; we need to paint/stain/do something to both the trim on the front of the house and the playset in the yard.

And Father’s Day is this weekend, along with two birthday parties Carla is attending, and I am meeting a friend for her birthday tomorrow, so I have a million presents to wrap today/tomorrow and, this weekend, lots of good, wonderful reasons to not be writing. But it is all feeding the frustration. 

And Carla’s birthday is coming up and so there are a bunch of things to think about for that.

And my in-laws are visiting next week.

Anyway. It’s just now ten o’clock and I am already DONE with the day.

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Two short anecdotes for your weekend reading pleasure enjoyment amusement eye-rollment hate read whatever.

One Bad: When the family was here, we all went out to dinner one of the nights. Our reservation was at 6:30. The rest of the family arrived before me – Carla and I had trouble finding a parking spot – but we got to the restaurant at 6:30 on the dot. (I had told everyone else that the reservation was for 6:15 because I am mean.) We walked in and there was a man and his child in front of us. The hostess grabbed some menus and escorted them to a table. Carla and I waited for the hostess to return.

The door opened and a woman rolled in. You know the type. I am not going to describe her, because every descriptor makes it seem like I think everyone with [descriptor] is an ass, when that it just not true. She power-walked right past me to the hostess table. I edged closer, because I was there first, and she had a kind of bulldozery aura about her. She looked at me, “Is anyone here?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said, pleasantly, glad that she’d acknowledged my presence. “The hostess just took someone else to his seat.”

The hostess returned. We had been waiting for maybe a minute at the most. The hostess smiled at us, trying to work out who to speak to first, and the other woman leaned onto the hostess table and said her last name and the number of people in her party.

“Excuse me,” I said, more tightly this time, but still aiming for pleasant, “we were here first.”

Instead of saying, “Oh, whoops, sorry” or “Oh, man, I thought for some reason you WORKED here, even though you are wearing a coat and are accompanied by a young child!” or “I completely forgot my manners! What was I thinking?” she gave me a superior little scoff and said, “Well, I have a 6:15 reservation.”

“I have a reservation too,” I said. I was firm. “And I was here first. You can wait your turn.”

At this, she put her hands up defensively, pasted a Deeply Surprised But Also Bitchy Look on her face, and said, “Well, I’m not going to argue with you.”

The hostess, clearly relieved this little exchange had not escalated further, escorted me and Carla to the table where our family was already sitting.

Fin.

Except… NOT fin, because… WHAT? I am still bewildered by the whole interaction. And flustered, because I absolutely hate confrontation. And really, would it have mattered if we had allowed her to go first? No, it would not have mattered. Maybe the gracious thing to do would have been to let her manhandle her way into being seated first. But she was so BRASH about pushing in front of us! And so… unapologetic about it! There was NO WAY she didn’t know that we were in line before her. Absolutely zero. And then she acted like I was being ridiculous or argumentative for asserting that I was there before her? What the what?!? We are living in a SOCIETY!

I am trying to teach Carla grace and patience and forgiveness, of course, but I am also trying to teach her to be aware of other people and to take turns and to stand up for herself… and I guess I chose the latter options to model for her in that moment.

The second worst part – after having to get into any sort of confrontation at all – is that it felt/feels like such a big deal. My heart was pounding. I felt like I was being ridiculous – justified, but still, like I was engaged in a playground argument of the first grade maturity level. (“It was MY turn on the swing.” “Nuh UH, I was here first!” “Nuh UH, was!”) I felt like my voice got overloud and squeaky and my indignant meter had been ratcheted up way too high.

Why can’t I be easy-breezy during a confrontation? Why couldn’t I have smiled pleasantly and said smoothly and cheerily, “Oh, you know, we were here first!” and then just not engaged her anymore? Why, instead, am I still feeling vexed and embarrassed a week later?

Side note: She said that she had a 6:15 reservation and we were definitely there at 6:30. So she was LATE. Which does not give her any excuse to line hop. But it makes me extra irritated. Lateness on your part does not constitute submission to your will on my part.

One Good: Remember when I was complaining about Target the other day, and how I had to drive all the way back to the store and wait for some security person to review my transaction just so I could get a refund for an item I did not buy?

(Brief detour which will have you further wondering why this falls under the “one good” heading: Remember how in the same post I also mentioned that Target is always making errors in what they charge you? Well, I went to Target this week and bought Home Alone 2: Lost in New York PURELY because it was on sale for $6. And then it rang up for $9.99. Fortunately, I caught the error. But SHEESH, Target. GET IT TOGETHER.) (Also, when the cashier keyed in the adjusted price, she had to choose an option on her computer screen to, presumably, explain the reason for the adjustment. I didn’t see all the options, but the one she picked was something like “customer disputed price.” Well, yes, I disputed the price. Because it was incorrect. Why is there no option for “item scanned at a price that was different from what was listed on the display,” huh, Target?)

Home alone 2.jpg

Why this is the only point in this ridiculous post I am choosing to illustrate with a photograph is beyond my powers of understanding. Also, why didn’t I buy ELF as well?

Anyway, I went to Whole Foods to pick up my Thanksgiving turkey. While there, I also added a few other things to my cart, and when I checked out, the amount that the cashier told me I owed seemed… like a lot. But I was in a hurry and I was really fretting about how I was going to brine my turkey by myself and, after all, the turkey was expensive and Whole Foods in general is expensive (and I don’t normally shop there, so I’m not really familiar with HOW expensive) so I figured the total was probably right and I had just underestimated the total of what I was buying.

I should have looked more closely at the receipt right then, but I didn’t. Instead, I drove home, unloaded my bags, and then looked at the receipt. Which is when I discovered that they had double charged me for my turkey. My enormous $44 turkey.

Listen, please forgive me when I tell you that I overlooked an extra $44 being added to my receipt. It is one of my key failings as a human, that a) I have no idea what things cost and b) being in a store suddenly renders me incapable of doing simple math and c) I get flustered easily and don’t take the extra twenty seconds in the store to just make sure I haven’t been overcharged. It drives my husband CRAZY, believe me, and if I knew how to fix it (budget in advance! or at least have some idea of what it will cost to buy the things you are buying! or for the love of peanut butter just take the extra twenty seconds to check the receipt! yes, you are right!) I would do it, but it seems to be a part of my brain that doesn’t work.

(By the way, I recognize the immense privilege glaring through the above entire paragraph – please know that I do.)

ANYWAY, I was so upset with myself. This was not a charge I could overlook. And if I would drive back to Target to reverse a $12.99 charge, then I was DEFINITELY going to drive back to Whole Foods to reverse a $44 one. But I didn’t have time. (I didn’t know, then, that our Thanksgiving would be moved back by an entire day and that I, in fact, had a whole extra day’s worth of time.) I had to brine the turkey and wash potatoes and chop herbs and finish cleaning the guest room and and and.

So I called the Whole Foods and told them about my problem… and they simply LOOKED UP MY RECEIPT and refunded my extra turkey charge immediately.

It took five minutes. Which includes the time I spent berating myself for having to make an unscheduled additional 45-minute roundtrip drive to and from Whole Foods. I did not have to leave my house. No one in security had to review footage of me not buying two turkeys. I got my money back. It was marvelous.

The end.

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I am really worked up about shampoo right now.

You might call me a Shampoo Loyalist. I used Pantene for pretty much my entire life (I mean, except for the portion during which my mother, presumably, washed my hair. I have no memory of this.) but then in the early aughts my hair stylist went on some rant about how Pantene was the WORST thing you could put on your hair and said some things about animal testing and I did zero research or fact checking but immediately stopped using it. (I loved him. Loved. Him. I miss him to this day.)

But then I went through a Dark Time during which no shampoo seemed to really cut it for me. I don’t have too many requirements of a shampoo: I want it to clean my hair, smell pleasant, and make me look like Kate Middleton, which doesn’t seem like I’m asking too much. The Herbal Essences and Garnier Fructises of the world all ticked the “pleasant smell” box, but I think over time I’d get bored with them, or my hair would seem flat, or whatever, I sense you inching closer to the edge of your seat, in anticipation of what juicy detail I might share next, certainly not to leave the room. But I was sick of dating around. What I wanted was shampoo marriage material.

At some point, my mother-in-law left some of her fancy shampoo in the guest bathroom, and around the same time, my new hair stylist started trying to upsell me (in a non-annoying way, I swear) to a keratin treatment, which sounds MAGICAL and yet is way too expensive for my taste. And I discovered that lo! my mother-in-law’s hand-me-down shampoo leavings had the word “keratin” on the bottle. So I tried it out.

It was OGX Brazilian Keratin Therapy. And it had a pleasant suntan-lotiony smell and it did seem to make my hair less frizzy. And while it was more expensive than my previous dalliances, Target seemed to have good Buy-One-Get-One deals that made it less so.

OGX keratin

Photo from ogxbeauty.com

And THEN one magical day Target was out of the keratin therapy flavor? scent? type? of OGX, so I started looking at the other OGX offerings for an understudy. I read each bottle carefully, to determine whether I needed something for color-treated hair or dry hair or whatever and then – do you do this? – I sort of unobtrusively started unscrewing the caps and then sniffing each different color? blend? mixture? and trying not to get any wayward shampoo on my nose.

The one I fell in love with was Bamboo Fiber-Full (huh, I have been using this for possibly years and only just now realized it was FULL and not FILL). I love the way it smells. It leaves my hair feeling clean and light and fresh. Less Kate Middletonny than I would like, but no shampoo is perfect.

OGX bamboo

Photo from ogxbeauty.com

We had a happy relationship for a long time, Internet. And then Target stopped carrying it. Why, Target? WHY? Instead, my Target is all about this orchid varietal. Bah.

I started the shampoo search anew. The one shampoo I liked best was Garnier Fructis Full & Plush. But literally every time I used it – or even if I wasn’t washing my hair, and I just saw it, or glimpsed it from the corner of my eye – I would get so annoyed by the word “plush” that I would mutter and stew for… at least minutes. I mean, PLUSH? I feel like plush is a word that should apply only to velvet. Or maybe lips. Or, and I feel like this is a stretch, but I’m trying to be generous, a nice thick lawn. NOT HAIR. I don’t want to be reminded of a tufted velvet davenport every time I lather up. I just don’t.

Garnier Plush

Photo from garnierusa.com

At one point, I figured that the fixation I had on the word plush was probably a waste of time and energy and brain cells (why didn’t you figure this out a paragraph ago, you ask), so I cut it off at the source and went back to the Brazilian Keratin Therapy. Which I like. It’s fine. I could see us moving in together, buying a car, maybe getting a dog. But I’m not passionate about it, you know? Like, when I picture us together in our old age, I feel sort of resigned, rather than excited about all the trips we’ll take to Europe.

What I really want is the Bamboo Fiber-Full. Why are you keeping us apart, Target? WHY?

This story is not over!

I got the big, “value size” bottles of the Keratin shampoo some months ago. And at a certain point, the conditioner was really giving me trouble. The bottles are shaped in such a way that you can really only squeeze them from the middle, and the squeezed area was staying squeezed and I could not un-squeeze it. It was forming a tight little girdle in the middle of the bottle, which improved its Marilyn Monroe curves, but prevented me from getting all the conditioner from the bottom of the bottle into the top and out of the bottle. AND, because the OGX packaging people have never used shampoo in their lives, the tops of the bottles are ROUND, so you can’t stand them on their heads to use gravity as your buddy. (And you can’t remove the tops anyway; at least, I can’t. They are affixed to the bottles with superglue and manic rage.)

I can’t tell you what an ORDEAL it became, to shampoo my hair. I tried to force the bottle to stand on its head by surrounding it with other things – a bottle of body wash, the shampoo bottle, my husband’s shampoo – but that was only occasionally successful, and more often than not resulted in all of the aforementioned toiletries collapsing onto the floor and all over my stunned toesies.

So I would bang the bottle on my hand and bang it on the shower bench, then bend the entire bottle in half, trying to lever the conditioner to the exit point (I was surprised it didn’t split in half, but that would have made the conditioner too easily accessible). At the end, I had to do all of the above and then ALSO use both my hands to squeeze out a meager amount of conditioner onto my thigh, and then transfer the conditioner to my hair.

One should not have to endure such humiliations!

The shampoo held up much better, but as I reached the “value” section of the bottle, it too transformed into a torture device.

So, fine, when I had finally extracted as much shampoo and conditioner as was humanly possible from the bottles, I vowed never again to fall prey to the siren song of “value size” and I replenished my shower with regular-size bottles of Keratin shampoo.

Alas! I am halfway through those bottles and the conditioner is already doing the waist-cinch thing!

My husband, bless him, forcibly un-cinched the conditioner by using his body weight to press the bottle short-side against the granite counter (he tried the wall first and the bottle dented the wall).

But!

I was at the supermarket the other day – one I don’t normally shop – and I happened across the shampoo aisle, and lo and behold! My beloved Bamboo Fiber-Full was there on the shelf! I scooped it right up, for $6.29 a bottle (Target, you are costing me money and losing yourself money!) and brought it home and made a Discovery.

Both bottles contain 385 ml of shampoo/conditioner. But the Bamboo bottle is slightly thinner, but deeper while the Keratin bottle is slightly wider but shallower. Does that make ANY sense? The Keratin takes up less space back-to-front and more space side-to-side; the Bamboo takes up less space side-to-side and more space back-to-front.

Because the Keratin bottle is less deep (from front to back, not top to bottom, I am doing such a terrific job of explaining this, good thing you bailed back up at “this is about shampoo”), it’s harder to squeeze. And the cinching thing happens more easily. And showering becomes an episode of MacGuyver.

Worst of all? It looks like OGX is moving toward this style of bottle. Because alllllll the other bottles seem to be the impossible to use terrible flatter/shallower version.

In my shampoo cynicism, I am certain that OGX is going to transition to this type of bottle and then start putting less of the product inside. As in, it may be 385 ml now, but next thing you know it will be 300 ml.

I think I need to start scooping up all the Bamboo Fiber-Full I can find in the old bottle shape.

Or – whimper – I need to begin a new search for my next great shampoo.

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