Something Old, Something New, Why We Do What We Do

June is a big month for weddings, but whenever the Big Day is planned, ask yourself these questions:  Did you know why brides wear a veil?  Carry flowers?

Those and many wedding traditions are based on superstitions that date back hundreds, even thousands of years.  For example…

  1. Bridesmaids: This custom originated in ancient Rome, where the
    ugly bridesmaid dresses
    Can’t wait to wear this frock again.

    bridesmaids would all dress like the bride to confuse evil spirits trying to hurt her.  Today, bridesmaids support an industry making the ugliest dresses in the world that they pay a lot of money for and never, ever wear again.

  1. Groomsmen: Again, an ancient custom, having a bunch of guys around to confuse evil spirits.  Today, groomsmen are responsible for getting the groom sobered up from his bachelor party and into a reasonably upright position at the altar.
bachelor party_01
Dude, love your sister’s dance moves.
  1. The Bachelor Party: An excuse for men to hire a stripper and get drunk, as if men need an excuse to hire a stripper and get drunk.
  1. The Bridal Shower: An excuse for women to go to a club and watch buff, bare-chested men perform erotic dances while the women get drunk, as if women need an excuse, etc.
maternity_05
Where’s HIS white?
  1. The White Wedding Dress: This represents the bride’s purity, so don’t ask me why white wedding dresses also come in maternity versions.  Notice that there’s no corresponding white anything in the groom’s wardrobe to represent his purity.
  1. The Bridal Veil: This dates back to the Middle Ages, when parents arranged marriages and the bride and groom didn’t meet until they were at the altar.  The groom wasn’t allowed to see the bride’s face in case she was a bow-wow and he’d be tempted to run for the nearest exit.
  1. The Bride’s Bouquet: Until the invention of deodorant, for centuries people, quite frankly, stank.  Bathing was an annual event, as was changing your underwear.  Carrying a bouquet meant the bride, for one day in her life, smelled nice.  Everyone else, not so much.
smashing-the-wedding-cake-in-your-face
I give it two months.  Maybe three.
  1. The Wedding Cake: Wedding cakes weren’t originally eaten but thrown at the bride for fertility luck.  In ancient Greece, marriages were sealed when the groom smashed a cake over the bride’s head.  Now, couples smash cake into each other’s faces, then post the pictures on Facebook while they’re still at the reception.
  1. Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue: All based on superstition, meant to bring the couple good luck, fortune and fertility.  And, oh yeah – to ward off evil spirits.  And finally…
women-fighting-over-bouquet-480x420
(l to r) Loser, loser, major loser.
  1. Throwing the Bouquet: This, for a change, has nothing to do with evil spirits. Instead, when the bride tosses the bouquet to her mob of single female friends, it’s her way of saying, “Now I’m married and you losers aren’t.”

Here’s a Win-Win: Help Yourself, Help a Vet

A few years ago my husband and I were in need of a plumber for a faucet issue.  We’d hadn’t had a plumber’s services in quite some time, so I called the first plumber who came to mind – a company that does a lot of TV advertising.

To be fair, the company did tell us ahead of time that there would be a service charge for Plumbertheir technician just to show up.  I didn’t know better, and agreed.  The technician did the work in 30 minutes, for which we paid $262, which I thought was outrageous.  According to my calculator, that’s a going rate of $500+ an hour!

Recently we once again needed a plumber and once again, I tried a couple of other companies I’d seen on TV.  The first one asked numerous questions about our problem, set up and date and time, and then asked our address.  “Oh, we don’t service that area,” she said.  Couldn’t she have asked that in the first place, instead of wasting my time?

The second company did service our area – I’d learned my lesson and asked that, first thing – and gave us an 8am to 10am service window the next day.  When they still hadn’t arrived by 11:35am, I cancelled the appointment, annoyed that I’d wasted an entire morning waiting for the technician to not show up.woman-

And grateful that my plumbing need wasn’t an overflowing toilet.

I tried a couple other companies I found on the Better Business Bureau website, but they were “booked out,” meaning “too busy.”

I’m annoyed.  I’m frustrated.  And I still have a plumbing problem.

Since I live in Oceanside, CA I googled “Oceanside plumbers” and Yelp gave me a “Best 10” list of options, including a five-star rating for Vets 4 You Plumbing, Heating & Air, Vets 4 You“Serving Oceanside and the surrounding area.”

The Vets 4 You website stated that “We offer employment opportunities to vets.  We also support organizations that help disabled veterans…every job gives a financial contribution to nonprofit veteran organizations.”

Well, why not? I thought.  Why not hire a vet for the job?  None of the other service providers had dazzled me, so…

Why not?

Was there a Happy Ending to our plumbing problem?  We were 100 per cent delighted with Vets 4 You:

Day 1:

  1. When I asked, the gentleman who answered the phone said yes, he was a veteran. We agreed on a service window for the next day, from 10am to noon.  The day 1technician, Andrew, also a veteran, arrived at 10:25am.  He was impeccably polite, addressing us as “Sir” and “Ma’am.”
  2. There was no charge for just showing up.
  3. Andrew gave us a written estimate with three options for work on our two toilets, with no pressure to choose one option or even work with Vets 4 You.
  4. Andrew fixed a minor bathroom faucet issue while he was here – no charge.
  5. He said the work would take about two hours.

Day 2:

  1. Our service window was 8am to 10am. Andrew arrived at 8:05am.
  2. He got right to work and was finished in about two hours. The cost was exactly Day-2what we’d agreed on, less a 10% senior discount (Vets 4 You also offers a military discount), and no surprises.  I hate plumbing surprises.
  3. Since then, our toilets are working perfectly.
  4. We felt good about working with a company that employs vets and helps vet organizations.

Darn good.

A simple Internet search pulls up VeteranOwnedBusiness.com with hundreds of veteran-owned businesses (VOBs) all over the country by state, then county, then city.

VOB_03So, say your yard looks like the movie set for Tarzan of the Jungle and you’ve finally decided to do something about it.  A quick click on the Oceanside link gives you Arbor Artistry Tree Service – voila!  You can crosscheck or not as you like – Better Business Bureau, google the company’s name for reviews, look for customer comments posted on their website.

VOBs may not do a lot of high-priced advertising, but who says that’s a bad thing?  As I can attest, what good are annoying ads for companies that over promise and under deliver, and your toilets still aren’t fixed?

Help yourself.  Help a veteran.

Rant: Don’t Book “The Book of Mormon”

In 2011 a new musical opened on Broadway that had people talking – and the awards Tony-Awards-2017-620x360flowing:  Nine Tony Awards including Best Musical; the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award; and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.  People raved, the critics raved, and I – who’d loved musicals since I was a kid – promised myself that if the show ever came to San Diego, I would see it.

The show was The Book of Mormon, and it came to San Diego three years ago.  It came, I saw, and I was disgusted.

And now, it’s returning.

I knew the show was from the creators of South Park, and I’d seen that TV program South_Park_Season_14once.  I thought it was an egregious a waste of time, but I understood why the bathroom humor appealed to my 14-year old nephew.

So I remembered South Park, but I was certain that the creators of The Book of Mormon would have cleaned up their act – literally – for Broadway.  You’re not going to garner prestigious awards for bathroom humor, are you?

Apparently you are.  A lot of awards for a lot of bathroom humor, including a song about defecating in the river, drinking the river water, getting sick, defecating in the river again, drinking the water again and – you get the idea.

man hands over earsThe show’s creators don’t limit themselves to bathroom humor, however; early on we learn that in the African village where the show takes place, most of the people have AIDS.  There’s a thigh-slapper.  And how about that song, Hasa Diga Eebowai, which translates into Fuck You, God.  You’ll walk out of the theater singing that one, for sure.

And yes, there’s more.

Like the jokes about cutting off a clitoris – that’s always amusing.  It’s referred to as “female circumcision” which is as inaccurate as it is offensive.  Then there’s the war lord Woman-With-Hands-Over-Earswho makes several appearances and goes by the name of “Butt-Fucking Naked.”

There’s the dance number where men run around wearing three-foot-long rubber penises, though I never figured out why.  And the village doctor who announces early on that “I have maggots in my scrotum.”  He says it a second and then a third time during the first act, and because that’s so uproariously funny, we got to hear it again as the show’s closing line.

Understand:  I’m not averse to raunchy humor, four-letter words or so-stupid-they’re-funny jokes.  I love satire.  And if someone wants to poke fun at religion – I’m in.

So I don’t dismiss The Book of Mormon as 100% disgusting.  The show has terrific energy, great singers and dancers, and some of the lyrics are catchy and clever.  But all that is good is overwhelmed by the vulgarity, crudity, and just plain inanity.

money shredderNever have so many paid so much for so little entertainment:  In my case, two tickets, a whopping $345.  It appears the same two seats this time around will cost and even more whopping $450.

Plus “fees.”

I’m assuming the show hasn’t changed, so when the The Book of Mormon returns in July, do yourself a favor:  Save your money.

And just watch a couple episodes of South Park.

 

Rant: Earth to Notorious R.B.G.

I’m not one for holding grudges.

Well, yes, I am.

And if I’m going to hold a grudge, why not for a good, long time?

Say, several years?

Against someone who doesn’t know me, doesn’t care, and never will?

The someone is Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (online nickname:  Notorious R.B.G.), and the grudge stems from something she said on October 8, 2013.

Location:       The Supreme CourtSupreme Court

Occasion:     The Hearing on Campaign Contributions

And though she was quoted by The New York Times, CNN and other media, as far as I can tell, not one of them picked up on this.

I realize the focus of the Court was campaign contributions, so maybe this was overlooked amidst all the posturing and politicking around a volatile subject.

But I think it’s grudge-worthy.

2013? you say.  Ancient history!  I say not.  Justice Bader Ginsburg said it then, she meant it then, and there’s no reason to doubt she still feels the same.

Are you ready?

“By having these limits you are promoting democratic parRuth_08ticipation, then the little people will count some, and you won’t have the super-affluent as the speakers that will control the elections,” said Justice Bader Ginsburg.

The “little people”?

Excuse me, Justice Bader Ginsburg?

To whom, exactly, are you referring?

Are you referring to the little people who will hand over $251,800 tax dollars this year to pay you to sit on that well-padded bench?

Are you rePensionferring to the little people who are also on the hook for paying you a lifetime pension, even though for most of us, pensions are a thing of the past?

Are you referring to the little people who have to scramble and sacrifice to pay for decent health care insurance – which you don’t?

Are you referring to the little people who don’t have lifetime employment, and a three-month paid annual vacation – which you do?

For you to use a phrase so trivializing, so marginalizing, and so degrading indicates that you have spent way too much time in the rarified atmosphere of our nation’s highest No Littlecourt, and not nearly enough time among us little people.

If you had, you’d realize that when it comes to Americans…

There are no little people.

 

Twelve Tips for Job Hunters

Job hunting, at best, is the worst.  Whether you’re a recent college grad, a Millennial making your seventh job hop, or a sixty-something considering your sixth career change, you can’t read too many useless job-hunting articles with too many useless tips.

So, here are 12 more to consider:

1.  There are no jobs in Los Angeles (or St. Louis, or Tucumcari, etc.).

I have this on good authority from a headhunter – excuse me, “executive search consultant.”  Oh, I know thousands of people get in their cars every morning and go somewhere, but don’t ask me where.  Maybe a little early Christmas shopping?

2.  When you call someone they are never in. If you leave a message, they never call back. nasty receptionist with gum_01

Companies post jobs in their “Careers” section on their websites that implore you to “Call Muffie at 619-555-7878.”  No matter what day you call, Muffie will not be in.  Muffie will never be in.  After much pleading, the surly receptionist may deign to take down your name and number.  I suspect she uses the message slip to discard her latest wad of gum.

3.  Be suspicious of any ad that boasts “fabulous growth rate,” “unlimited earning potential,” “glamorous environment” or “four-star corporation.”

This is another way of saying “Your salary will be chopped liver because you’ll have the privilege of working in a glamorous environment with a fabulous growth rate and unlimited earning potential at a four-star corporation.”

4.  Learn the secret language of prospective employers.

So you wrote a brilliant cover letter and emailed it, along with your equally brilliant resume, and now, three days later, you’re doing your follow-up phone call.  If you actually get past the secretary (with her snotty “I-have-a-job-and-you-don’t” voice) to the director of Personnel, excuse me, Human Resources, listen for these key phrases and know what you’re really hearing:

PHRASE MEANS
Refresh my memory. I never heard of you.
What exactly are you looking for? Why are you bothering me?
How did you happen to contact us? Why are you bothering me?
I just received your resume this morning. Hold on while I dig it out of the wastebasket.
You may be overqualified. Creep!  You’re after my job!
There are no openings at the moment. There are no jobs in Los Angeles, etc.
So we’re not hiring right now. We’re not hiring you, right now or ever.
But I’ll keep your resume on file. If I ever dig it out of the wastebasket.
Why don’t you call me next month? I’ll be in Spain.
I appreciate your interest. Go bother someone else.

 5.  Lie on your resume.

Contrary to popular belief, composing a good resume is not an art form.  Lying on your resume is.  Since nobody reads past the first three sentences anyway, feel free to list positions like “Chairman of the Board, Naganishi Motors” and “Chief of Brain Surgery, Vienna General Hospital.”  If someone actually reads that far into your resume, smile modestly, say, “Yes, but I don’t like to brag,” and change the subject.

6.  Lie at your interview.

Go ahead, have some fun with it!  What you say in an interview is mostly irrelevant, since the interviewer knew two seconds after you walked in if she’s going to hire you or not.  Mostly it’s “not,” especially if your palm was sweaty when you shook hands.  So…

7.  Learn to love rejection.

woman staring at phoneFor women, a job interview is like a date when the guy says “I’ll call you,” and he never does.  For men, a job interview is like a date when the woman says “I had a great time,” but she’s always busy when he calls.  If your love life is something less than nirvana, don’t job hunt unless you really, REALLY love rejection.

8.  Have some questions prepared for your interview.

I don’t mean stuff like “How many product lines are you currently marketing?” or “What is your anticipated growth rate for this fiscal year?”  I mean important stuff like “Where is there to park around here?” and “What’s a good place for lunch?”  You don’t want to walk into this blind, do you?

9.  Have some answers prepared for your interview.

Interviewers often ask prospective employees why they want to leave their current jobs.  “Because my boss is gravy-sucking slime” is succinct, and probably true, but a little tact comes in handy here.  “I want to take on more responsibilities!” and “I’m ready for more challenges!” score high with interviewers, but only if you say them with a straight face.

10.  Write a follow-up thank-you note.

“Dear Mr. Smith, Thank you for fitting in our interview between lunch and your handball game.  I can certainly appreciate how busy you are – you took five calls and had a meeting during the 15 minutes I was there!  One day I hope to emulate your multi-tasking skills!  I’ve enclosed another resume since you couldn’t find the one in your wastebasket that I sent last week…”

11.  Take another look at your current job.

Maybe a dead-end, boring, enervating, degrading and/or low-paying job isn’t such a bad thing after all.  The President of the United States is in a dead-end job, isn’t he?  He knows he could be out of work in a few years, so at least you’re better off than he is.

12.  Avoid career assessment seminars, career change seminars, career networking seminars – any seminars.

Be honest.  Do you know anyone who attended a seminar and then went out and found the job of their dreams?  And who needs to spend $1,000 to hear sommoney envelopeeone talk about “Systematized Management Concepts” or “Using Humor in a Termination”?  Save your $1,000.

Better yet, send me the $1,000.

I’m still unemployed.

Darned if I know why.

 

What’s Next In the Far-From-Friendly Skies?

If you’ve had the misfortune of recently flying on a commercial airline then you’ve probably had the privilege of paying for one or more of the following:

  • Really, really bad, expensive food. Example:

Ham & Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich                                                               $7.79

“Ham and cheddar cheese on a ciabatta square served with Dijon mustard-mayo sauce (served cold).”

moldy sandwich_01

Translation:  (A miniscule portion of) ham and (dry, old) cheddar cheese on a (small, stale) ciabatta square served with (one measly) Dijon mustard-mayo sauce (because we’re too cheap to do the condiments separately) (served cold – and we mean really, really cold).

  • Ancillary Fees. Example:

According to IdeaWorks Company, which publishes the CarTrawler Yearbook of Ancillary Revenue, airlines around the world took in a collective haul of $40.5 billion in ancillary fees and charges in 2015, the highest figure ever recorded for this study.  (Trust me, it will be higher for 2016, when they get brave enough to release the figures.)

That year – again, according to IdeaWorks – United Airlines led the pack with $6.2 billion in fees.  If you care to do the math – and I do – that’s just one airline, in one year, sucking in almost $17 million of our hard-earned dollars per day.

Here are some of the rip-offs – excuse me, ancillary fees – you may have to “show them the money” for:

·       In-Phone/In-Person Booking Fees

·       Unaccompanied Minor Fees

·       Credit Card Booking Fees

·       Overweight Bag Fees

·       Oversize Bag Fees

·       Carry-On Bag Fees

·       Boarding Pass Fees

·       Seat Selection Fees

·       In-cabin Pet Fees

·       Blanket and Pillow Fees

Then there are those pesky Ticket Change Fees.  You bought your ticket six months ago but now, due to a burst appendix, you’re forced to postpone your trip.  Not cancel – just postpone.  The airlines will gladly help you with that, and gladly charge you up the wazoo for that pesky appendix.

All this begs the question:  What will they charge us for next?  Is the following what you’ll hear the next time you shoehorn yourself into your none-too-clean, way-too-narrow, no-leg-room seat?

“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen!  And welcome aboard No Way Airways, with non-stop service from San Diego to Chicago.  Your safety and comfort are of utmost importance to us, so please pay close attention to the following announcement.

“For your in-flight comfort, a pillow and blanket may be purchased for $5.  A clean pillow and blanket may be purchased for $12.95.

“Each.

“In the event of the loss of air pressure in the cabin, an oxygen mask will automatically drop down from the panel above your head.  However, to activate the oxygen, you must purchase a green sticker for $39.95.  Passengers who do not purchase a green sticker will, in the event of the loss of cabin pressure, experience irreversible brain damage and/or death within four minutes.

stickers

“A life vest is provided for every passenger and is located beneath your seat.  To inflate the life vest, you must first purchase a red sticker for $49.95.  However, as our trip today does not normally take us over any significant bodies of water, the life vest red sticker is discounted to $19.95.

“In the event of an emergency landing, escape chutes will be deployed from the various airplane exits.  To use the chutes to evacuate the airplane, you’ll need to purchase a yellow sticker for $69.95.  Passengers who do not purchase a yellow sticker will, in the event of an emergency evacuation, remain on the aircraft until all passengers with yellow stickers, and the flight crew, have left the aircraft.  After that, you’re on your own.

“You may purchase green, red and yellow stickers from the flight attendants who are moving through the aisles now.  We accept all major credit cards.  All purchases are final, and must be made prior to takeoff.

money vending machine

“Finally, lavatories are located throughout the aircraft and designated by an overhead sign.  To use a lavatory, insert $3 into the slot above the door handle, just as you would with a soda or snack machine.  There is no additional charge for flushing, and please enjoy the toilet paper, soap and hand towels with our compliments.

“Once again, welcome aboard No Way Airways, and enjoy your trip!”

Summer is Coming – So Are Houseguests

I hate having houseguests.

And if people were honest, plenty would admit they do, too.

I say “admit” because I’m aware there’s something inhospitable – even hostile – about feeling this way.  We’re supposed to be delighted when relatives and friends call and say, “We’re coming for a visit!” and assume they have an open-ended invitation to stay with us.  A week…10 days…two weeks…

During that time they’ll eat our food, take over our beds (because, as good hosts, we’ve relegated ourselves to air mattresses or sleeping bags on the living room floor), leave their hair in our bathroom sink, their dirty ring in our bathtub, and never think of saying, “Don’t cook tonight – we’re taking you out to dinner.”

Spare me.  PleBathtub-Ringase?

My dislike of houseguests began as a child.  My example was my mother who didn’t like houseguests but hid her feelings, put on her Hostess Face, and got through it.  This taught me a number of dysfunctional behaviors including,

  1. Say “Yes” when what you really mean is “Hell, no.”
  2. Put out the welcome mat, you door mat.
  3. What can’t be cured must be endured.  (Remember that one?)

One instance was my aunt calling to say she, my uncle and three daughters were coming for a visit.  Now, we were a family of seven with one bathroom.  Add five people and you have an even dozen all lining up for their toilet and teeth-brushing turns.  During that visit there was always someone in the bathroom, even in the middle of the night.  I know, because I had to go at 2am and sure enough – there was a line.

Then there was the summer my parents rented a cabin on a lake, ours to enjoy for a whole week.  We were ecstatic!  So were a number of family members, who assumed that our cabin came with an open door policy.

When we arrived there was already a carload of cousins parked at the cabin, an unwelcome welcoming committee.  Throughout the week relatives came and went, and there was never a moment without extra people to feed and find places to sleep.  My parents had rented the cabin to get away from it all, but it turned out that it all came right along with us.

Fast forward.  Now I’m the adult who, along with my husband, is called upon to play host.  We live in Oceanside, California, a northern suburb of San Diego.  The city is aptly named – we have several miles of beautiful beaches that are never as crowded as beaches to the south.  Nearby are plenty of nice restaurants and fun things to do, and our weather tends to vary from glorious to perfect.  All this transformed us into Houseguest Magnets.  If we’d thought about it before we moved here, we might have opted instead for some place in South Dakota.

It also begs the question, “Are you coming to visit us, or our world-famous zoo?  And mooch a free room and food?”

After moving into our house we were barely unpacked when we got The Call, but these guests were coming for only one night, and that’s doable, right?  My woman friend and her husband, newlywed and madly in love.  Good for them, right?

But…not so good for us.  After a nice day together, we all turned in.  Then, when I was almost asleep, I heard a noise from the bedroom next door that was instantly recognizable though almost indescribable.  It was female, it was loud, and it began with “oh, oh,” followed by, in an equally loud male voice, “oh, god,” followed by a duet:  “god, oh, oh,” followed by – well, you get it.

This went on forwoman hands_01 some time while I lay there thinking, “Couldn’t you, as guests in my home, have refrained for just one night?  Or, since you obviously couldn’t, maybe just be quiet about it?  Put a pillow over your face?  Better yet, I’ll put a pillow over your face.  Both your faces.”

Spare me.  Please.

They went on their way the next morning, bed unstripped, wet towels on the bathroom floor, blithely unaware that they had barely gotten out alive.

I’ve contemplated saying, “We don’t do houseguests anymore,” but that seems so, well, inhospitable.  But where is the middle ground between, “Hell, no, you can’t stay with us” and, “Oh, we’d love to have you for a nice, long visit!”

I’ve decided that middle ground is utilizing one of my favorite words:  Boundaries.  I love the idea of setting boundaries.  I’m not good at actually doing it – it sometimes seems so, well, hostile.  Door mat, remember?  But I was resolved:  From now on, my house, and my house rules.

Then came The Test.  My brother emailed to say he and his wife wanted to leave the Michigan winter behind and visit us.  I brooded at my computer for several hours, gathering my thoughts.  Then I began to type.  “Sure!” I said, “And here are my house rules:

Rule #1:  Two or three nights work for us.

Rule #2:  Let’s take turns cooking – or treating at restaurants.

At this point my hands are clammy and my neck is cramping.  I did mention I’m not good at setting boundaries, and here comes the toughest one of all.  But I’m determined to create my own brave, new world.  I type:

Rule #3:  No noisy sex.

Spare me.  Please!