Friday, October 30, 2015

Old women rule . . .

Halloween is one of those occasions a woman grows into--the older, the better. How often can we say that! Pretending to be a crotchety, scary witch is one thing; seeing one in the mirror looking back BEFORE putting on the costume is another.

I had to laugh this morning as I was rummaging for dress-up components for the midday potluck I was going to. Facial wrinkles, sagging neck, protruding veins on hands, age spots masquerading as warts--it all comes together at a certain age--making the transformation into an appropriate Halloween character pretty easy. But instead of being a witch this year, I became inspired by assorted rubber spiders, spiderweb earrings I've had for decades, and a very old crocheted ribbon jacket too frayed to ever wear again (but too cute to toss), and, voila--Spider Ma'am!

I also stirred up a big batch of deviled eggs in my cauldron last night. Topping them off with olive spiders, even though it's a laborious task to cut a pitted olive into nine parts, is worth it. People love this idea and gobble them up quickly. There is nothing worse than bringing the same full plate of the goodies you yourself made for the party, back home from the party. That never happens with these eggs. (I held back this little batch because they are so yummy.)

Happy Haunting

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bagging for the Bag -- A Guest Column

Hi, there. My name is Brittany (or Courtney . . . Ashley . . . Jasmine). I’m a grocery bagger. We’ve probably met somewhere. Well . . . not actually met, but I’ve bagged your groceries. Of course, I wouldn’t really recognize you because I’ve never looked at you. For that matter, I probably never talked to you, either. Smiling is what I do best, especially when Mason, Kyle, Austin, or Jordon are working my shift.

During my 45 minute training, the boss explained how we get paid, when we get paid, and when we get breaks. He told us who to call if we can’t make it, and made us read the probation policy aloud. Then he told us three important things to do: smile, double-bag only when asked (don’t offer), and if a customer has his own bags, we should use them first. I trained for one hour standing next to an experienced bagger (Kyle was my mentor and he’s been here six months!) and watching. Then it was my turn to try it and Kyle watched. Awesome.

But oh, is the job boring. Sometimes it’s funny to think about what a particular customer has bought . . . like the fat lady who buys candy and ice cream and maybe one healthy food like hotdogs. Today there was an old man who bought two huge bottles of wine with a coupon, so he hardly paid anything for them. It looked like he was unscrewing the lid on one of them while he was carrying his bag out. Mason winked and made me blush when he saw me staring at the man. Last week a bag with two dozen eggs in it broke by the person’s car. Boy, was that lady ever mad about it. She blamed the bagger (not me, but Austin who was at the next checkout stand). How was he supposed to know she didn’t have a good grip?

We all hate using the cloth bags shoppers bring in because they’re floppy, and there isn’t a way to keep them from falling down every time you reach for another product to pack. Some customers bring those big stand up zipper bags with silver linings. They’re awesome because they don't fall over. I use them first because they’re so sturdy. First a couple layers of cans, then the bananas and fresh tomatoes, and if there’s room, more cans, the grapes, and the crackers on top. They can be really heavy and they never break. I don’t know why anyone bothers to put a zipper on them—I never zip them up.

I always put cold stuff in the floppy cloth bags. First, the milk laying down, which makes it easier to pack the next layer with ice cream, frozen turkey breasts, baby food--whatever--before putting in the light stuff, like mushrooms and avocados, and ending with what I can lightly drop in, like Kleenex. I don’t know why people scowl when I pack their bags. It's what they get when they shop here--service! I always force the bags into the carts and quickly turn away so I don't have to help them to their cars. Besides, I need to talk to Mason (or Kyle . . . Austin . . . Jordon).

Today this old woman came in and she had the nerve to tell me she wanted the cold products in that stand-up bag with the silver lining. Who does she think I am? Her servant? I mean, I had to find out when Jordon was taking his break I could show him my latest Instagram). I  laid the milk sideways and she made me set it upright. Sheesh!  I hate being told how to pack the bags. Especially if Austin is talking to me from the next counter. And then the bread. The old bag doesn’t want the bread under the bananas and avocados—or on top of them, either. That woman’s a real bag.

Well, gotta run . . . now is my break! “Hey, Jordon, wait up!”

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Go ahead, buy one . . .

Although I haven't carved a pumpkin for several years, that doesn't mean I can't browse the pumpkin patch with the best of them.

Alas, I can't take credit for thinking up how a small pumpkin could become a vase. A flower merchant at my local Farmers' Market thought it up. I regularly buy fresh flowers there, but rarely do I buy an "arrangement." When I saw this, however, I was too enchanted to pass it up.

In case you have a hankering to buy a field pumpkin but don't really want to carve a jack-o-lantern, this could be a great idea. A sturdy plastic bag filled with sufficient water to cover the stems, then rubber-banded around the flowers and stuffed into the cavity of the hollowed-out pumpkin is all it takes.

My perky little seasonal greeting is a smile producer. Unfortunately, today is its last day because live flowers fade and wither--but then, don't we all.

Happy Fall.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Note to Self

 This morning I drove to go to the post office to mail a package. I  knew it would be busy there because of the postal holiday yesterday, but wasn’t ready what greeted me. A long line of customers snaked all across the customer area, through double glass doors and into the lobby of the amply sized regional branch. Eleven people were ahead of me, most of whom were holding packages to mail. One person was propping open the door to provide continuity to the line. No one was interacting with anyone else, including the postal clerks.

When I arrived, two clerks were on duty. I felt grateful that there were two, that it wasn't break-time. I watched the line ahead of me shrink to ten, nine, eight people. Several customers came in, took a look around, and left with visible annoyance. But then one of the clerks put a “closed” sign on his window and left. Slower . . . slower the line moved . . . but I was finally inside the customer area. I looked back into the lobby and realized the line was adding people faster than the clerk was servicing them.

The clerk paced  herself with great deliberation. Every package must be placed on a conveyor belt ten feet, or so, behind the clerks' workstations. That means that after each transaction, the clerk must walk over and set the package(s) on it. It seemed to me her walk back and forth was taking longer and longer.

“Will that be all today?," she asked everyone.  "Stamps? Gift cards?” (My post office sells gift cards from Sears, JC Penney, Apple, Olive Garden, etc., as well as the standard packing materials.) 

I found myself wondering who would intentionally shop at the post office. All the gift cards and greeting cards must be impulse items while one waits in line. And waits.  And waits.

“This is why a monopoly is bad,” I muttered to the man behind me.

"At least it's not Christmas-time," he replied knowingly. Several people in line rolled their eyes as they heard his comment.By the time it was my turn, sixteen people were waiting behind me. Still only one clerk. 

For a postal clerk, there is no need to hurry, no reason to make eye contact, or offer a friendly, “I’ll be with you shortly.” We put up with their poor service because we have to. The clerks do their work, almost like robots--at least, in Bothell they do.

As I drove away, I made this note to self:  I'd better watch it so I don't become robotic, even if I do have the monopoly on my days. Just like a postal clerk, very little interaction with others is required of me as I go through my daily routine. But I'd better act as if there's competition down the street if I want to enjoy a social life, not to mention lure my grown children to town for more of their helpful and lively visits. A visit with a whiny old woman is probably less fun than a trip to the post office after a postal holiday.