Yesterday I asked my co-worker Shawky where he’s from. He was born in Cairo, he answered, and grew up in Greece—and he used to work on ships, visiting 89 countries and acquiring six languages. Apparently Home Depot doesn’t have an “I speak Romanian” badge, because that’s the only one he’s missing.
I joked that he probably doesn’t have much call for that here, but wouldn’t you know—not half an hour later a customer made a beeline for his register, greeted him by name, and started chatting him up in (you guessed it) Romanian.
One of our mandates as cashiers is to get customers to sign up for the Home Depot credit card. While most cashiers got a handful, or maybe a dozen, apps in the last month, Shawky had a stunning 111 credit card applications. While I worked the register next to him yesterday, I watched him sign up three more people as smooth as you please.
I teased him about his “magic” but asked him in earnest what advice he would give me to help the magic rub off on me. He answered me very seriously, in his accented but impeccable English. “Listen. I will tell you. You must have absolute confidence. Don’t say so much. Choose what you say,” Continue reading “Advice from a Polyglot”→
As a parent, Legos were my least favorite toys to step on barefoot. Did you know that a Lego can withstand over 4,000 Newtons of force? That’s why the Lego always wins when you step on it.
But that’s really the only drawback to Legos. (Well, that and the price of Legos these days—it’s nearly as painful to pay for them as to step on them.) The reason why Legos are so awesome is summed up in this description, from Wikipedia: “Anything constructed can then be taken apart again, and the pieces used to make other objects.” Lego is the ultimate imagination-toy.
Did you know that there are over 915 million ways to combine six basic 2×4 Lego bricks?
Growing up, my favorite set was a castle compilation of all-gray bricks, complete with hinges to make the requisite drawbridges and swinging doors to hidden passages. Legos usually come with a “construction plan”—and I’m sure mine did, though I don’t remember it… because the real fun is inventing your own stuff out of the possibility of all those pieces.
In retrospect, my castle set was pretty simplistic, in part because my Lego-play predated the licensing agreements that have brought us Lego Harry Potter, Lego Indiana Jones, Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, Lego Marvel comics…
Just listing them makes me want to sit down on the floor and play. My son’s earliest Lego sets were pirates—any guesses why? Yup, Mommy wanted to play with them. (Did you know that the name “Lego” comes from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means “play well”?)Continue reading “Legos—Did You Know?”→
Okay, I have to admit my body is not yet accustomed to day-long shifts standing on concrete. Or more accurately, it’s not yet re-adjusted to that… When I owned and ran a restaurant the days were a lot longer, and sure, they wore me out—but they didn’t make my muscles sore like they are this week.
That’s right, I have sore muscles from cashiering—how goofy is that?
Compared to sitting on my couch with laptop and feet up, freelance writing, Home Depot is proving to be a workout. Given the variety (and sometimes size) of the items people are bringing to my register, there’s a little bit of gymnastics involved with my hand-held scanner… And I end the day with dirt under my fingernails and a splinter or two… And that mild ache that tells me I was actually doing something with my day.
I’m actually finding that satisfying—though nowhere near as satisfying as the number of smiles I get to “collect” in a day. Some people prove a challenge, but I like a challenge—can I get a smile out of them? Usually, yes.
When I don’t have a line at the register, I stand out in the aisle to let people know the register is open, smiling at the people walking past. It’s almost amusing to see the faces going by, switching on their smiles one by one as they make eye contact and respond to the smile I’m giving them. I was so intrigued I had to look this up: research says smiles actually are contagious. (Smiling reflexively and responsively to another smile is an involuntary and instinctive reaction stemming from the cingulate cortex, if you wanted to know…)
I find there’s also a scientific explanation for why I get such a charge out of smile-collecting… Seeing someone else smile at you doesn’t only trigger a responsive smile, it also directly triggers the brain’s “reward” center. And then when you smile, your body releases some of those “feel-good” chemicals that give you reason to smile. All in all, it’s a pretty nifty self-perpetuating feel-good system. (God is GOOD at design! I wonder how many more mental-health meds I’d need if I smiled less…)
This is where I think I’m particularly suited for the job of customer service… my face’s “default setting” is a smile—not a big grin, but definitely a smile—so at least that’s one set of muscles that’s not sore from unaccustomed use.
And a default-smile definitely keeps the smile-cycle going for interactions on the job. It’s what I missed in the solitude of freelancing—I literally do sit here with my default smile, sometimes even when I’m writing about something awful (today’s topic: laser vaginal rejuvenation, ick)… but I don’t get the “charge” of return-smiles during a day at the computer. On the other hand, my feet are enjoying a break on the couch-recliner this morning, so it’s all good!
Okay, I’d better get on with that freelance article. We’ll see if the default-smile lasts through that topic!
I got sucked into reading the “Game of Thrones” series… I haven’t been able to put this thing down for some reason. I bought it a couple years ago as a boxed set (if you can call e-books “boxed”), and only got around to opening it last month… And it’s a good thing it’s on my iPad, because otherwise the 4,000-or-so pages would really be weighing down my arms. I’m coming up on about 3500 pages and looking forward to the wrap-up, if for no other reason than being freed from its thrall…
But if you know these books, you’ve already caught my error: there are way more pages than that if you see this to the end. I’d assumed my boxed set was the whole series.
Last time I made this mistake? It was 1991. I was a high school senior mulling over my choices in the Fantasy section of a WaldenBooks store when a strange man popped up from nowhere, shoved a book at me, and practically hollered, “You HAVE to read this!!”
He was weird, but I bought the book (Robert Jordan’s Eye of the World). Read it, loved it, bought the second of the trilogy… Continue reading “Sucked In”→
This week I volunteered to help out a church acquaintance with some cleaning and reorganizing of her house. She’s a single mom with numerous health problems and two active young boys, and she babysits an infant who’s now mobile enough to require baby-proofing of the house—and she was finding the project overwhelming. I won’t lie: I found the project overwhelming when I got there.
I tackled the kitchen the first day, removing bags of trash and recycling, stowing in her pantry the still-bagged groceries that took up the entire kitchen floor, running loads through the dishwasher and tackling the stacks of unwashed pans and pots.
It crossed my mind that this kind of clean-up is only truly useful if it’s accompanied by some changes-in-habit to prevent the same from happening all over again… And that thought brought me right back to my own messes—more internal in nature, but just as daunting. A tidy kitchen-cupboard is not necessarily the mark of a put-together person!
I had a session with my counselors that same afternoon, told them about my day, and made the observation that even if I take out my own “mental trash” through counseling, I have to change the way I handle the trash, going forward, if I’m truly going to benefit from the clean-up.
It’s a timely analogy, because I’ve been writing an A.A. “Fourth Step,” which is essentially an inventory of all the garbage I’ve created in my life. A lot of folks “go out” on the Fourth Step. We call it the “A.A. Waltz:” Steps ONE-two-three & OUT-the-door! It’s a tough thing to look at your own faults honestly and objectively…
The Step begins fairly easily, by listing people against whom you have resentments, and enumerating what you resent and how it has affected you. Oh yeah, we can all happily write about how other people have messed us up, right? The tough part comes with the oft-dreaded “fourth column,” where it’s time to look at your own part in each of those messes. What have I done to contribute to each situation, what wrongs have I committed, how have I harmed other people? It’s heavy. No, it’s excruciating. This is the stuff I don’t want to think about myself, let alone admit to someone else.
But that’s exactly what comes next. Step Five: We admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. The whole list. Even (especially!) the stuff we least want to cop to. Continue reading “Taking Out the Trash”→
I’m a terrible procrastinator, have been for as long as I can remember… I’m noticing that a number of these t-shirt ideas could double as “ADHD” slogans… And I suddenly wonder if that diagnosis has anything to do with my apparent inability sometimes to GET THINGS DONE!
I put the “Pro” in Procrastination.
If good things come to those who wait, isn’t Procrastination a virtue?
Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after.
So many deadlines, so little time! (Well actually there’s plenty of time. I just prefer to waste it doing random shit.)
Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.
Iron—ha ha ha
Due tomorrow? Do tomorrow.
I’m very busy doing things I don’t need to do in order to avoid doing anything I’m actually supposed to be doing.
From a procrastination standpoint, today is looking wildly successful.
I’m really swamped with things I shouldn’t be spending time on right now.
Tomorrow: a mystical land in which 99% of all human productivity is stored.
Nothing makes a person more productive than the last minute.
I’m the leader of the world’s largest nation. Procrasti-nation.
There are no limits to what you can accomplish when you’re supposed to be doing something else.
I’m not a procrastinator. I’m just extremely productive at unimportant things.
I’m a multi-tasking procrastinator. I can put off all kinds of things at once.
Procrastination is so often misspelled as P-E-R-F-E-C-T-I-O-N-I-S-M
I planned on procrastinating today, but I never got around to it.
If there were a pill to prevent procrastination, I’d take it tomorrow.
I wait till the last second to do my work because I will be older, and therefore wiser.
And finally, this gem (because what I do when I’m procrastinating is BLOG!)…
The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.
(Now I’d better get back to writing about how Trump’s presidency will affect America’s economy, which is what I’m SUPPOSED to be doing. Sigh.)
My mother isn’t one for writing-in-books, so I’m tickled that the book she just mailed me has a sentence underlined with a smiley-face.
“I believe in crazyass passion.”
That’s the line she highlighted in Rinker Buck’s Oregon Trail travelogue, and that says plenty about my mother!
She’s a world traveler, kayaker, fly-fisher, river rafter, scuba diver (Nitrox-certified for deep diving), and always game for a new adventure. She made a great deckhand on a sailing trip in Washington’s San Juan Islands ten years ago, she took my son on a week-long sea-kayaking trip in Mexico last year, she meets for mischief with girlfriends all over the world… and she always has her plane ticket already bought for the “next trip” somewhere. (I believe Panama and Poland are in the current queue…)
If I didn’t know her birth-year, I’d never guess she’s pushing 70, and I continue to wish I had half her energy. (I especially wish that on days when I’m trying to keep up with her at the mall!) I got my travel-bug from both parents, but I got my sense of adventure from her.
I got my bibliophilia from her too, though my penchant for marginalia is something I developed on my own.
Because I DO write in books, I’m accustomed to coming across my prior-self (in the form of penned commentaries) when I re-read my books. I’m not accustomed to coming across other people in my margins, though… So imagine my thrill of surprise today when I picked up my copy of Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Small Island” and discovered an unexpected treasure of notes in both my mother’s hand AND my late father’s. (Pencilled, because apparently writing in a book in pen is a little TOO crazyass!) Continue reading ““Crazyass Passions” & Pencilled Notes”→