Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What is creepy meaning?

My computer has been broken for a month. Since it is still under warranty, Dell has to cover the repairs. Their technical support has been pretty bad so far, I've dealt with one batty technician after another none of who seem to speak very good English. Too bad I didn't know about the survival guide before I called. I have had 4 service techs sent to my house to replace the mysterious inner workings of my laptop one part at a time. This was only after I spent an hour arguing with a particularly stubborn tech who insisted that removing the mother board of my computer was "no big deal" and "that even a monkey could do it". Evidently there was only a small amount of welding required to reattach the processor to the new mother board. "Is this a joke?" I asked "I am not doing anything that even resembles welding. I want to speak to your supervisor." At this point the tech started to hyperventilate which made him even harder to understand. Three days later, the parade of computer parts began and didn't stop for a month.

After the fourth service call to the house, the tech says to me, " I have no idea what the hell is wrong with this thing. Ship it back it Dell and let them figure it out." So that is what I did. Yesterday, after being gone less than a week, the computer was returned to me in a box unrepaired and left on my front porch with a note inside that said the part they have determined will fix the computer it is out of stock. They will ship it to me to install in the computer myself (with only minor welding required). Coincidentally, this is a part that the service tech already replaced. It did not correct the problem. This was my approximate reaction:

Chris tried to calm me down, he really did, but there was absolutely no chance of him derailing the tirade to which I was entitled. He slowly backed into the corner and surrounded himself with couch cushions to shield him from the impending blast. I called Dell. The technician who was unlucky enough to get my phone call got an ear full. After the 10 minute recap of replaced parts and hours spent on the phone trying to troubleshoot with technicians he interrupted me and said, "Dell sent it back and it still doesn't work? So what is wrong with it now?"

I'm quite certain that my scream shattered every window in every home for a 3 block radius. The pillow pile in the corner was shaking. The dog and cat were huddled together under the table. Then, in a dangerously calm voice I said "The computer will not turn on. The same as before. Nothing has changed."
"Then we will have to troubleshoot " he said. The dog, cat and Chris fled downstairs in terror.

During the next hour and a half I ran all the diagnostics I had run 10 times before but unlike any of the previous technicians this guy felt the need to fill the long silences with small talk. He asked me if I had seen the Simpson's movie and if I liked sports. Before I had a chance to respond, he told me all of his favorite American movies and sports teams. The he talked about dog fighting, the NBA, his work schedule and finally, global warming during all of which I remained utterly silent. Then things started to get a little creepy. He asked me what time it was here and then he said "It is very quiet there, are you all alone?" (WHAT?!) "Are your mother and father in bed asleep?" (OMG!)

I didn't know how to respond so I said nothing. I was flabbergasted. This dude was wacko. To say an awkward silence followed would be an extreme understatement. As I sat there I thought to myself, if he asks me what I am wearing I am hanging up. Screw the computer. Finally he blurts out, "I hope you are not pissed off, you did not answer my question."
Silently panicking I tried to think of something to say."That is because your question was inappropriate"

In a quivering whisper, he said "It is a very personal question in America to ask what sports team you like? I had no idea. I am so sorry. In India we discuss this all the time." Oh God, I thought, he is going to start crying. I made him cry. I am a terrible person.
"Please hold ma'am" After a few minutes he returns to the line and triumphantly announces "I have asked my coworker who has been to America why it is in appropriate to ask what someone's favorite sports team is. He said it is not an inappropriate question. He said asking you if you are alone was the inappropriate question. He said it is creepy. What is creepy meaning ma'am? I am now trying to stifle a fit of laughter, I cleared my throat and said "Why don't you ask him."
"Please hold ma'am!" *long pause* "He says it means, like, weird. Oh, and a little scary."

"Yes, that's very good" I said. "Can we please get back to fixing my computer now?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Bicycle drive by

While driving home from work last night, I noticed a small bicycle weaving erratically back and forth in the street ahead of me. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the young rider (no more than 8 years old) was in fact reading the paper. This was problematic for two reasons: first, he was using his arms to hold the paper open across the handlebars and therefore could not steer the bike. Secondly, the paper was so large that he could not see over it to watch where he was going. The resulting effect being a bicycle that appeared to be driven by a drunken newspaper.

I stopped the car completely and watched with mild alarm as the bicycle continued to swerve towards me. As it got closer, I could make out the headlines of the paper, which was not in fact the paper, but the grocery store circular. The bicycle was less than 3 feet from the car now, and headed right for me. If I didn't do something, this kid was going to run his bike into my stopped car. So I honked, just a little one, but it must have gotten his attention. I saw a head peek over the top of the grocery store circular and upon realizing he was hurtling towards a collision made a face I may never forget. Eyebrows rocketed up, eyes bugged out and the mouth dropped open as he swerved away missing the car by inches.

From a safe distance behind the car, the child stopped the bike, and turned to look at me. Then he shook his head as if to say "watch it lady"! Aghast, I watched as he turned back to his grocery store circular and continued reading as he rode off.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Things that don't float

Many years ago on a sailing trip across Lake Erie, I lost a pair of expensive sunglasses. At the end of a long day of sailing, I was up on the bow pulling in the jib (which is one of the sails). I was leaned over the edge precariously grabbing at the sail fabric when I heard a kerplunk and looked down to see a small ripple spreading outwards in the water. My hand instantly flew to the top of my head where my sunglasses were no longer resting. I let out a dismayed wail. My Oakley sunglasses were in the lake. I contemplated jumping over after them. We were, after all, only in a few feet of water since we had pulled into a protected cove. As I looked around I noticed a large sanitary sewer outlet pipe on the shore less than 20 yards away. OK, maybe not I thought. No poo diving today. I made my way to the back of the boat where I told Chris what had happened.
"And the worst part" I said," is that the sales person who sold me the glasses, told me they would float."
A grin began to spread across Chris's face. Barely able to contain his laughter he slowly repeated my words back to me "told you...... they......would.....float.... the sunglasses, made of hard plastic with heavy lenses would float."
"Yeah!" I said, squinting up at him in the now, blinding sunlight.

At this point, Chris found it necessary to sit down so as not to injure himself when he began cackling hysterically. Each time his laughter slowed, he would look up at me as I stood there alternating between squinting and scowling and start laughing all over again. This went on for several minutes before the man got a hold of himself.

For years after this, in fact it is still going on, Chris will hand me something very heavy such as a tire iron or a vacuum cleaner and ask me if I can check to see if it will float. "Its a special one, the salesman says it will float." He informs me with noting less than glee. What a comedian.

As for the sunglasses, I replaced them shortly after that. But somewhere in lake Erie, there is a carp swimming around in my shades.

Yesterday we went water skiing. Eager to get started, I jumped into the lake with my sunglasses still on. When I broke the surface, Chris leaned over the side with his hand outstretched and said "those don't float you know" I removed the sunglasses from my head, folded them up and being too far to hand them off, I tossed them to him. The sunglasses rocketed through the air and bounced off his outstretched hand. *insert loud dramatic gasp* Together we watched as seemingly, in slow motion, the glasses tumbled through the air. I think even the dog held his breath. In a move that was nothing short of miraculous, Chris lurched forward out the side of the boat with two outstretched arms and caught the sunglasses inches above the water.
He looked at the sunglasses and then at me and shook his head. "That was close" he said.

"Yeah" I agreed, "and those don't float!"

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rule of 3

This afternoon at the gym an alarming series of events was set into motion by an unassuming coworker. As you may or may not know, I am not capable of having only one freak accident at a time, they come in groups of three (or more) which I now refer to as the rule of three. There was the time I was struck by a senior citizen in a motorized shopping cart, and then slipped on a banana peel and sprained my ankle while grocery shopping or the time I got stung by a bee, a hornet and a yellow-jacket in one afternoon at a picnic. I think you get the picture. It is probably also worth mentioning that I am a little clumsy. I single-handedly drove several ballet teachers into early retirement as a young child. I have been known to crash into tables, walls, file cabinets and other seemingly stationary objects for no apparent reason, without warning or the aid of alcohol.

Earlier today while huffing and puffing on the stair stepper, a rogue exercise ball pelted me in the back. After a narrow escape from the grinding inner cogs of the stair stepper, I turned to discover that this ball had in fact been launched at me dodge-ball style by a coworker. He stood there grinning in a manner that could be described as nothing less than demonic. “I could have been maimed!” I informed him. He appeared puzzled, yet amused; clearly he was unfamiliar with the rule of three.

Several minutes later I switched to the treadmill. Much safer, it’s a flat surface right? Wrong. Moments after the treadmill started moving I noticed a marked increase in speed, my hand had evidently been resting on the speed up button. After some flailing of arms and a plaintive yelp, I noted the console was getting further away. As for the recommended method of exiting a treadmill, I *do not* suggest airborne dismount off the back.

Upon returning to the office I grabbed my lunch out of the fridge. Better skip the microwave meal, I might burn myself or set it on fire. I started with the grapefruit. Upon slicing into it, I promptly squirted myself in the eye. The bad eye. Ow.

I’m hoping that, cosmically speaking, nearly being ground up by the stair stepper counted as freak accident number one because if it didn’t, I’m sure as heck not getting in the car to drive home!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

There goes the neighborhood

There's one in every neighborhood. The crazy house full of weird people doing strange things. For me, it's the next door neighbors. This demented cast of characters consists of 10 people living in the house who come and go at all hours of the night and day. There are at least 4 kids one of whom is unnaturally large for a first grader. There is a man who wears only business suits, even to mow the lawn (which he does in the dark). There is a guy who "fixes"things around the house (read bangs them with hammers and wrenches and then swears in Spanish when they fall apart). And to top it all off, a parakeet who spends all of his time outside on the porch in his cage squawking like a fiend.

Their house has been for sale for close to 2 years now and so they must have decided that they needed to step it up in the home improvement department. Last fall they "landscaped" the side of the house. This consisted of filling the 20 foot long planter box with cactus and then pouring quick setting concrete around them. It's not mulch people. Also, this is Michigan, not the desert, the cactus will die when we get one of our routine blizzards which dump a foot or two of snow on us in October. To protect the cactus, they placed miniature garbage cans upside down over each plant. This spring when the snow finally melted, the cactus were dead. I mean, bent over sideways, with the needles falling out dead. One of the little girls didn't give up though, every day she goes out there and pours a 5 gallon bucket of water on each cactus. *Water* on the *cactus*. Next Topic.

After the garden tanked, they decided to build a garage. At least I think it was supposed to be a garage. I'm not really sure because it was in the middle of the backyard. The thing was at least 15 feet tall and might have fit a small pickup truck. The structure consisted of a frame of 1x2 inch lumber stapled together. Then it was time for walls. They started with wood but the the frame wasn't as strong as you might think being held together with staples. So they switched to plastic sheeting halfway up the first wall. They had no ladder so they were only able to put the plastic up as high as they could reach on the sides so, there was no roof or sides over the 6 foot mark. They also forgot to leave one side open so that they could get in and out. Eventually, the building inspector made them take it down but they kept the pieces stacked up in the back yard so they could use them later.

Over the holiday, while looking out the window I observed them grilling, in the rain, under two of the walls they had leaned up againsted eachother teepee style. Mr. Fix-it stood there in the downpour with the lighter fluid in one fist, a gigantic spatula in the other grilling hot dogs.

I'm not really sure what they are going to do next, but personally, I'm rooting for an addition!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A turkling, you know, a baby turkey

To celebrate the 4th of July, Chris and I went to see fireworks with some family. We arrived to scope out a spot around 8:00 even though it wouldn't be dark enough for the show to start until about 10:00. Since we had about 2 hours to kill, we just sat around catching up. The conversation eventually turned to food (as it often does) and Chris mentioned how much he enjoyed turkey at Thanksgiving and how we should buy a turkey sometime soon and make it for dinner. Chris loves turkey and lately, he talks about "getting a turkey for dinner" all the time as thought it were approximately the same amount of work as a bucket of KFC. "It is just the two of us" I said, "How in the heck are we going to polish off a turkey?" With a knowing look on his face, Chris announces "I can make you turkey sandwiches every day and pack them in your lunch. Also, we can make turkey pot pie, and turkey stew and...

At this point I think it would be helpful to explain my three point Thanksgiving philosophy:
1. I love turkey at Thanksgiving.

2. Thanksgiving is only once a year for a reason, namely, you are only supposed to eat Turkey once a year.

3. After that , I don't want to see it (turkey) again for another whole year, no exceptions, including leftovers

... and turkey burgers and turkey..."
I interrupted Chris: "Stop. Please repeat my Thanksgiving philosophy Chris"
Chris moans dramatically and puts his hand to his head. "But I looooooooove turkey. What if we didn't have any leftovers, what if we got, like, I dunno, a turkling?"
"A turklinkg?" I inquire incredulously.
"Yeah" he says, "A turkling, you know, a baby turkey"

I look at the other people sitting with us, being family, they have come to expect this sort of, um, linguistic creativity, from him. I have too, although the frequency of these events still amazes me. You would think eventually he would run out of strange, made-up names but he never does.