Friday, February 20, 2015

The Mighty Pen

I was raised by a mother who didn't take a lot of shit from folks - if she felt she had been wronged.  I remember hearing her speak of the letters she would write when people pissed her off.  The one that stuck in my mind (because it made me laugh) was the package she sent to whatever food company that sold her rotten hot dogs.  She enclosed them in a padded envelope and mailed them back to the company with a letter of complaint.  Now, this would have been in the early 60's prior to my birth so that's a long time ago.  It's back in the days when mail took a week to get from point A to point B.  So the already rotten hot dogs were in the mail for about a week when someone - a human at that time - opened them.  I do wish I could have seen the look on that person's face.  Instead, I can still picture the look of satisfaction of my mother telling the story, including the ending that included "we had free hot dogs for a year."  Not bad.

She taught me that for a letter to be effective, it has to be concise and meaningful but not mean.  Over the years I have written countless letters to companies.  And I'm happy to say I write as many letters of kudos as those of complaint.  I get more satisfaction from the positive letters.  They always surprise people.

Now, let's fast forward to a few months ago.  Kid A bought a travel mug with Elsa and Anna on it (of course) with her own money.  I thought she paid way too much for it but if drinking her morning tea with the Frozen crew makes her happy, so be it.  A few weeks later, it was on her desk at school when it fell over and shattered.  Yes, that "shatterproof" travel cup did indeed shatter.

So of course she wrote a letter to the company.

Then they wrote back - and offered to replace it.

Today the replacement arrived.  The world is once again right for the girl who likes her tea with lots of sweetness - plenty of sugar and Anna and Elsa.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Perfect Specimen

I love Trader Joe's.  One reason I like it is because of the people who work there.  They're always friendly and seem happy to be there.  So when I had a bad encounter today, I was surprised.

My girls, A and M, and I were walking up and down the aisles of the Silver Spring store.  It's smaller than the Rockville store but it's more convenient and has most of what we need.  We always get more than we expect there because there are always new things to try.  Basically it's a fun store.

As we were walking down the soup/pasta aisle, we encountered a bunch of employees putting stock on the shelves.  Of specific interest were two men who were talking to each other pretty loudly.  We arrived in front of them mid-conversation so we missed the topic.  But we most certainly didn't miss the juicy part:

Dude 1: How did she get that (job, acting part, something like that)?
Dude 2: Well, you know she's a specimen.
Dude 1: (blank stare)
Dude 2: I'm TELLING YOU.  She's a SPECIMEN.  She's EASY ON THE EYES.  Yeah, She's a SPECIMEN.

So the three of us just stop.  A woman is a specimen.  Huh.  We start walking down the aisle again.  At this point A is starting to boil a little.

Mom, you have to say something.  DO something.  That is NOT okay!

I hate this kind of situation.  I walked around thinking a bit.  The more I thought, the more I got annoyed.  She's a specimen.  Dude, a specimen!

No.  Not okay.

He went to take over for the woman at the sample area.  When he was done talking to a teenager (that took quite a while), I went up to him.  With my girls behind me I said that we were standing right next to him while he was having that conversation with his co-worker.  I told him that while he was fully entitled to his opinions, he might want to remember that he's in a public place and I doubt that calling a woman a specimen represented TJ's views of the world.  I couldn't leave without telling him that no woman wants to be called a specimen and that the value of person has nothing to do with whether or not s/he is "easy on the eyes."

He apologized to me.  And my kids.  And he was about to say something else when I'm pretty sure that "bring it, I will beat you silly" look might have crossed my face.

When we went to pay for our groceries, the gentleman at the register couldn't have been any nicer.  He talked to us, talked to the girls about what it's like to be a twin (which was fine because he is one!).  He spoke french to us.  Super nice dude, which somewhat made up for the caveman we encountered earlier.

Really the dilemma here was my kids.  They knew it wasn't okay.  They were totally offended.  Do something took on a different meaning here.

I'm not so arrogant as to think anything I said to him made any sort of difference.  But I hope the thinks about how he speaks when he's on the sales floor in the future.

And I hope he never has children.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Safety Girl

A person can never be too safe, right?  I'm pretty good with common sense stuff and make the safest choice for things when possible.  But there are some things I never really paid attention to - like what to do with emergencies that don't happen where I live.

Lucky for me, I have a kid who likes to read.  She reads anything and everything as long as it's in the bathroom.  This has been a point of contention for me for a long time but in reality, it makes sense. Your mom or sister can't bug you (isn't allowed) when you're in the bathroom.  That rule was set to give me a few minutes of peace when the girls were little.  Now they hole themselves in there (individually) so they can steal about a half hour of silence.  It's weird - and it's caused every single caretaker we've had to think that one kid in particular has digestive issues.  Every time I've had to explain that no, she isn't ill.  She just wants quiet.

One of the things we had in the bathroom was the FEMA guide for what to do in an emergency.  It was just there and I never thought about it.  But M not only thought about it but read it.  Cover to cover.

All of this came in quite handy the day we were in Sodus Point, NY and a microburst hit.  The windows blew in and I realized I had not only never heard of a microburst but I also had no idea what to do about it.  As I stood there trying to hold the windows together, A says she sees a funnel cloud.  Crap.  I have no idea what to do in a house without a basement.

And then I hear a little voice.  "I know what to do.  I read the FEMA book."


Sure enough, that kid knew what to do.  I was impressed.

Now, fast forward a few years.  We went to the NBC Health and Fitness Fair last month in DC.  We stumbled upon the FEMA booth as we were leaving.  M walked up and asked if the new version of the book was available.  She explained that she read the last one cover to cover - and it helped her know what to do in an emergency.  The FEMA person was so excited to meet this kid who wanted to learn all about FEMA stuff that she gave her an emergency radio.  It's pretty cool.  And she promised to mail her the handbook because she didn't have any there.

So we waited a few weeks.  Nothing.  Then the mail came on friday.

And now I have one happy kid!

It's funny the things that bring out the proud mama in me.  This is one.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Wacky Hair Day

Today is Wacky Hair Day in at the girls' school.  This is a yearly event, one that I find odd.  I get spirit week - it breaks up the monotony that is school.  But it is weird to see kids going to school in pajamas or with green spiked hair.  It was odder to see teachers all dressed up.  But it's all good. This is the only part of the week my kids regularly and excitedly participate in.  We've been doing this since kindergarten.  It always involves color and usually hair teasing.  Sometimes braids. Sometimes other adornments.

My favorite was the one when they were somewhere around first or second grade.  They came home telling me wacky hair day would be the following day.  They started planning and figuring out what they could do with my limited hair experience.  They came up with this:

They were so excited to have big hair and lots of pony tail holders and clips in their hair.  They got on the bus so happy.  However, when I picked them up, the pony tail holders were out, the clips were hidden in their bags and their hair was as matted down as possible.  When I asked why they said WHD was the next week.  Oops.  We still laugh at that.  Every year.

A couple of years ago they decided to look like planters.  At least this had a happy vibe about it.

Today the theme is My Little Pony and More Glitter, Please.  The house smells of spray-on color gas - even hours after using it.  I'm pretty sure we all lost several brain cells today.  And I'm not sure the glitter will ever come out of the bathroom rugs.  Or off the walls.  It's a very good thing there are no smokers in the house.  I think I sent them to school in a very flammable state.

I guess we'll have to up our game for high school.  I should probably start planning for that now.