Word Salad!

Word salad, word salad!

My constant ballad

Of right words said wrong

And wrong words in song!

I know the words I want to say,

Still the wrong ones come out anyway!

I think to say “spectacular,”

But what comes out is “vernacular.”

Of course I didn’t mean to say it,

But my word salad makes me pray it

Won’t happen again–

But sadly it does, and then

Out of my brain and out of my mouth,

Seems that the words I want just plain go south!

The sad, sad truth is

My aged brain’s gone toothless,

And I have to wonder

When I’ll get my tongue out from under

All those odd words cluttering up my cerebrum—

Makes me feel I could be dumb

As a drunken monkey on a bender–

Oh, word salad, please return to sender!








Customer Service — R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Customer service is tough job and is often thankless. I worked as a customer service telephone rep for a few years and it was, well—eye-opening. Frustrated people frequently take out their frustrations on the customer service rep because after all, that’s what they are there for, right?

But as the main goal of customer service is to serve the customer and take care of their complaint or issue, you end up ignoring a lot of insults; it’s just part of the job. You learn quickly not to take it seriously. One of the best bits of advice I got was from an older woman with whom I worked who said, “when someone yells at you and calls you names, just replace your name with the company name in your mind and it won’t feel so personal.”

Example: “YOU <insert company name here> are useless, stupid, lazy, and obviously not smart enough to hold down a REAL job, you <insert company name here>!”

Great advice, and it works. Granted, there are some terrible customer service people out there, but there are a whole lot of excellent ones, too. Things generally work best if, when presented with a problem, both parties get satisfaction by being at the very least civil to each other. Otherwise, things can spiral out of control, and that’s when tempers flare and nothing gets resolved.

That said, an awful lot of people feel that customer service folk are stupid, have less than stellar educations, and are generally a lower species who thrives on abuse. They feel perfectly justified to yell and scream and berate the person on the phone who trying to help them.

Another job that invites abuse and ridicule is waiting on tables. I paid my last two years of college by waitressing at a local restaurant, located conveniently near my dormitory. This is another job tailor-made to put you on the business end of some pretty ugly behavior. When you are a waitress, here are some of the assumptions many people have about you:

  • You are too stupid to have a better job
  • You have no problem cleaning up the ketchup and mustard some kids squirted all over  the floor
  • You are somehow less a person because of your job
  • You don’t mind it when men get handsy with you
  • You don’t mind if customers’ kids run wild and often cause you to drop full trays of food
  • You love taking orders, even the ridiculous ones (“WAITRESS! My water has too many ice cubes in it!!”)
  • You don’t mind picking up a dirty diaper left smack in the middle of a table
  • You will not have the nerve to mess with customers’ food if the customers are rude to you

Now before we go down the dangerous path of messing with peoples’ food because of their behavior, let me say this: I never saw this happen while I worked at the restaurant near my college, nor did I ever attempt to sabotage any customer’s food. Was I ever tempted? You bet I was–but I didn’t. I truly believe that karma can be a bitch who never forgets. (That said, I also think that is insane for someone to be pissy with those who have anything to do with their food. Why tempt fate?) By all means, if something is wrong, bring it to the manager’s attention. And FYI—blaming the waitress for anything that has nothing to do with her bringing you your food is counter-productive and won’t help the situation one iota.

Now on to the forbidden subject: tipping. A tip means that you have had a nice experience at the restaurant, and that your server treated you respectfully, got your food out on time and took good care of you. Problems in the kitchen, the parking lot, the freezer, the bar, the restroom and other customers’ behavior is NOT your server’s fault. If you can’t afford to tip your server, then don’t go out to dinner and splurge, or just go to a fast-food restaurant.

When I was waitressing, a 15% tip was considered the norm for good service; more than that was a bonus. These days a tip is more likely to be 20%, depending on how you felt about the service. The following (all of which I received while waitressing) are NOT considered tips:

  • candy
  • a written compliment on the bill (but no tip)
  • a free ticket to the local <insert boring function here>
  • the ripped-off corner of a $20 bill tucked on the side of a plate (har, har, har–HILARIOUS! Not…)
  • a religious tract
  • a pile of pennies
  • an invitation to have drinks somewhere

Let’s face it, most of us have had our turn in the barrel doing low-paying or menial jobs; it’s part of our work history. Often some retirees return to the workplace for part-time jobs, such as greeters, baggers in grocery stores, telephone reps, or jobs in maintenance. It’s something that gets them out of the house and seeing people and brings in a bit of cash. These types of jobs may not be crucial or lifesaving, but they are necessary.

There’s an old saying in the theater: the most important person in the theater is the one who opens and closes the curtain. Let’s try to show a little respect for all those curtain pullers.

On Being An Owl

When I was in high school, one of my English teachers told me that I was an “owl.” At first I was flattered; you know, wise old owl and all that. Then I realized that what he really meant was that I took things too seriously—especially myself.

The class was divided pretty much into two factions—those who loved the class and those who hated it. I of course loved it; reading and writing were and are my favorite hobbies. One day I admonished one of the haters for “helping the English language devolve into useless slang,” and of course I was ridiculed for weeks afterward for that comment. But that was part of my “owlishness;” I hated being laughed at, especially about those things I took so terribly seriously.

(By the way, I still mourn the collapse of our English language, and wonder how in the heck Webster’s can allow such drivel as the word “woot” into its hallowed pages. But that’s another argument for another time.)

It took years and lots of life experience to realize that I was simply being a typical young person. At that age, we tend to be our own heroes and we conveniently overlook our faults, and we believe we are right about everything. It took me even more years to realize that the reason why I didn’t like some people was because they had habits that drove me nuts–exactly the same habits I have. That’s why they bugged me so muchLive and learn…..

Even in my sixties there are days and people and events that still press my buttons, but that’s kind of how we all are, isn’t it? I truly wish I could be a more Zen-type person, never letting small stuff bother me, keeping my mind peaceful, wishing goodness and light to all those around me (even the ones who drive me bat-crap crazy); but I’m just not that evolved yet. Maybe I’ll never be, but I do try to remember that things are seldom all about me, even if it feels as though that’s true.

Seriously, in the general scheme of things I am less than a speck of dust. My opinions, habits, hobbies, likes and dislikes are certainly not the wisdom of sages. Unfortunately, I am still an owl, and have to keep reminding myself not to sweat the small stuff or let circumstances over which I have no control anger or depress into not living well. The best defense against my owlishness is to keep being grateful, keep on doing the things I love, keep on telling the people who matter to me how much I love them, and doing even the smallest act of kindness whenever I can.

I may still be an owl, but I am working on being a more evolved owl. Wish me luck.

Thanks on Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Like the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving is a uniquely American tradition. We trace this custom back to our Pilgrim and Indian ancestors, and on this day we not only give thanks for what we have, but thanks for how far we have come.

For many of us, Thanksgiving is sort of an appetizer before Christmas, and we enjoy a lavish meal with family and friends. Some of us will watch sports on TV, with pants unbuttoned and eyes drooping from overindulging at the table. Some of us will do service of some kind, to mark their own thanks by helping out at the local food bank or shelter. Others will go to church and make their thanks there. Many will simply ignore the holiday altogether for reasons of their own.

Personally, I love it, and as each new Thanksgiving approaches, I think of all the wonderful get-togethers I’ve had throughout my life. Most were with family and friends, and some were with people who were not able to be home with their own families. This is when I lived in Texas, and I invited everyone I knew who was on their own for the holiday. It was a lot of fun, and it took the sting out of not being with our families.

These are just some of the things I am grateful for, today and always:

  • That my mom got to see her 84th birthday (11/23) and will see this Thanksgiving along with my dad
  • That I will be with the Crankee Yankee and have Thanksgiving with my step-daughter and her family (with granddaughter #2 due in April 2016!)
  • For my good friends
  • That I live in America with all its freedoms, hard-won by the sacrifice of so many
  • For the opportunity to share
  • For all the laughter, love, hope and joy I have in my life
  • That five months after I was diagnosed with DCIS breast cancer, my recent mammogram showed no trace of cancer
  • That I am married to the love of my life, the Crankee Yankee
  • That we have four (yep, count ’em, FOUR) cats who live with us; Nala, our one female, Pookie, Plumpy-Nut and Tinker (our latest) — all males
  • That I have a strong and sturdy roof over my head
  • For a strong and healthy body
  • For a sharp mind
  • For a sense of humor and for all the many things that make me laugh
  • For sheer gratitude for all I’ve been given

Does anyone remember the traditional Thanksgiving hymn, “*We Gather Together?” It goes like this:

“We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!”

Whether you are spending Thanksgiving with family, friends or by yourself, may you know joy, gratitude, love, happiness, peace of mind, and may you enjoy your many blessings.

*”We Gather Together” is a Christian hymn of Dutch origin written in 1597 by Adrianus Valerius as “Wilt heden nu treden” to celebrate the Dutch victory over Spanish forces in the Battle of Turnhout. It was originally set to a Dutch folk tune. In the United States, it is popularly associated with Thanksgiving Day and is often sung at family meals and at religious services on that day.

From the Kindness Blog, A 92 Year Old Woman’s Five Rules for Happiness

I read this wonderful post the other day from Lucy Taylor, and learned a lot in just a few minutes. Please read, enjoy and learn–I did!


The 92 year old petite, poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by 8:00am, with her fair fashionably coiffed and makeup perfectly applied, moved to a nursing home. Her husband of 70 years had recently passed away, making this move necessary.

After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window.

“I love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

“Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room …. just wait.”

“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied.

“Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged, it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.”

She went on to explain, “Old age is like a bank account, you withdraw from what you’ve put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories. Thank you for your part in filling my memory bank. I am still depositing.”

And with a smile, she said: “Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

  1. Free your heart from hatred.
  2. Free your mind from worries.
  3. Live simply.
  4. Give more.
  5. Expect less.”


Don’t Ask Me About Sports – I Don’t Care

I grew up in a reading family; Mom and Dad and I either read, watched TV, or did things together like camping. I didn’t know one thing about baseball, basketball, volleyball, football, or any other kind of ball. When I started school, I had to take physical education, which in my town meant softball in the warm weather and basketball inside when it was cold. It seemed to be an assumption that everyone knew how to play and what the rules were except me; I had never played a sport in my life.

When my teacher put me up to bat the first time, I did not know which end of the bat I was supposed to hit with; both ends looked equally complicated to me. All around me, kids were booing and laughing. The teacher finally pulled me off the field and angrily explained the basics. She seemed put out that I hadn’t come to school knowing a thing about sports.

It bewildered me that anyone would want to play this game; what was the point? I finally figured out that the point was to do what I was told, and shut up about it. I couldn’t hit a ball for sour apples, but I could run fast; my one saving grace. I had the same problem with basketball and volleyball. I just couldn’t figure out why this was fun. I would have been a lot happier with a good book, but that wasn’t on the physical education schedule.

When I got to high school, there was still physical education, but by then I had learned to act as if I liked it. I took up field hockey, which wasn’t all that bad as sports go. For some reason I ended up on the varsity field hockey team, and in one game I scored the winning goal–sheer luck on my part. The next day, it seemed everyone knew my name and people who had never spoken to me before slapped my back and said, “great game!” I guess if you are raised in a family that plays and/or follows sports, that’s fine. It just wasn’t what I was used to, so it meant nothing to me.

Although my one second of fame was flattering, it still didn’t make me fall in love with sports. My attitude was ‘it’s just a game,’ which, if said out loud to any sports nut, makes them swear at or hit you.

To this day, any sport bores the butt right off me. I still have zero interest in sports. I also resent the fact that, when a “big game” is on, many of the shows I like to watch are pre-empted. As there are so many channels completely dedicated to sports, I wonder why they have to suck up my channels. But it’s a free country, so there you are.

Sports is just not my thing. There–I said it. That’s part of the grace and blessing of being this age–no one makes you play softball anymore. Yay.