Awaiting Approval

First thing in the morning, I turned on my computer with baited anticipation. Yesterday, I interviewed with my company’s HR department for a promotion I really want. I think I have a good chance.

I been at the company for fifteen years and my bosses and subordinates both like me, I think. My company unusually requires annual performance evaluations for all employees by all team members. It’s a bit daunting to be judged from all angles every year, but I guess it can be productive. My evaluations have always been outstanding, but I still had to go through five interviews with the heads of various departments and HR I have never seen. It was like an interrogation. They asked me the strangest questions, like to describe my workday and a couple what if work scenarios. Then they asked the typical interview question…where I saw myself in five years. It struck me as funny. If I get the job, that’s where I see myself, so I should be asking them where they see me, since they make that decision? All notifications are online, so I logged into the site, held my breath and looked at the job posting results. The computer said my application was under review. I’ll look later. I still think I have a chance.

A few hours later, I received an email from my mortgage company regarding my home refinance. My loan company said their easy refi program offered to save me money with lower rates and a no-hassle book refi with no costs. It sounded like a no brainer, but it was surprisingly NOT easy. I provided tax returns for the last three years, bank statements for the last six months, and 401k retirement asset statements. And in the four week processing time, I’ve received umpteen emails asking for this document or that clarification. Today’s email was a status update. The file was in review. I emailed the processor and asked what was still being reviewed. I don’t understand, I paid the mortgage on time for ten years, without a late payment. The processor responded it was standard that underwriters review all files for ability to repay the loan. It seems really unnecessary just to give me the same loan I already have, but since it was routine, I just let it go.

Finally my day on pins and needles is over. I’m going out with my friend Emily for a much-needed night out. Emily texted me and said she read the reviews for a restaurant and it didn’t look promising. In the first few weeks, they received one hundred fifty reviews and only a 3.7 star rating. She suggested instead we go see a movie. She said the movie had a rotten tomatoes score of 89. That sounded good, so I replied that I would meet her there at 8.

But first, I have an appointment at the bridal store for a final dress fitting. I hate these things, but my sister’s getting married, so I have to do it. Here I am lumped in with all her prissy sorority friends from college who definitely like the way they look in the mirror way too much, as they spread out all over the store finding individual mirrors they could occupy. I don’t care. The dress is a weird flesh tone with a lot of glitter. It’s horrible and looks like lingerie, so I need to just try to get through it. I stand on the platform, while my sister’s group reviews each and every bridesmaid like it’s the Westminster dog show. It was so intrusive, being prodded and poked with judging eyes. I wonder when I’ll be asked to roll over. I just wanted to play dead.

Luckily, I was released for good behavior and now I need to rush to meet Emily. I really hope this movie is good. It should be, after all, it got good reviews.

(c) Copyright, 2020 Suzanne Rudd Hamilton

Following Detours

Life was pretty normal, structured. I like predictable, no surprises. As an accountant for 30 years, I guess it’s an occupational hazard. I think that’s why I like numbers – you can count on them. They’re ever steady, reliable. I live my life by the numbers, so to speak, every day running like a Swiss clock.

However, this daily routine started with an immediate slow down. My expensive cappuccino machine died, so I need to take a detour and get my morning coffee. Coffee is my big vice. I love everything about it. The aroma fills the air with the rich abundant smell. I always wondered what it would be like to lay in a field of coffee beans. And the flavor bathes your tongue in a warm blanket of smooth creamy milk mixed
with a little sweetness and savory espresso shot to welcome your tastebuds. I guess I’m having a relationship with coffee and I am very particular. I drink the same blend, always.

The coffee shop near my office made a decent cappuccino, but on my way there, I was stopped by a picket line on strike for better working conditions. There were signs everywhere about unfair wages, cheap management, and lousy health care. Anytime I saw these types of protests, I was just glad to work at a stable company that offered excellent benefits. But the large gathering blocked the street and the coffee shop, so I detoured a few blocks down the road. Siri said there was a coffee shop
there who boasted the perfect cappuccino. I’ll be the judge of that.

I found The Coffee Bean a few minutes later and unbelievably lucked into a parking spot right in the front. The sign said it was free parking at this time and day. That never happens. I went into the small shop. It was quaint and offered several different cappuccino blends.

““You don’t have just a straight cappuccino?”I ask the barista across the counter.
“That’s no fun,” she laughed. “It takes a true vision to take something great and make it unique”
“I guess, what’s your most popular blend,” I grunted a little. I just wanted a regular normal cappuccino.
“It’s a matter of taste,” she explained. “Sweet and salty has a shot of salty caramel. Dicey Spicy adds nutmeg and cinnamon and Nutty about Numbers includes three nut flavors in the mix. But my favorite is my personal Fruitti Tutti blend with a hint of orange and cranberry juices, instead of sugar.

“I don’t like too much sugar or spice. I’ll take the nutty one… to go,” I decided.
I sat at the counter looking around the room. People from table to table were talking to each other, laughing. The different scents whiffed through the air, permeating every square inch in the place. It felt warm and inviting.

I grabbed the to-go cup and looked at my watch. I was going to be late anyway, as I had to traverse the obstacles on my way back to the office. So I threw caution to the wind and stayed. Cappuccino is always best hot and fresh.

I took a sip. It was wonderful. The textured layers of the additional nut blend gave way to the subtlety of the creamy, sweet taste. This coffee was good. In fact, it was the best I ever tasted. I stopped and sipped some more and looked around again. I listened to a few conversations. They weren’t talking about much. The weather, gardening, kids; no one was shattering the earth. Some were funny and some were serious, but it wasn’t about what they were saying, it was them. They were enjoying each other’s
company. Slowing down and taking the time to hear each other’s stories. It was chaotic and pleasant at the same time.

“They can be a little raucous at times, but it’s a community,” the barista smiled. “I’m going to miss it.”

She pointed to the “For Sale” sign in the window. It was like a beacon, a spotlight to another world. She explained that she had to care for her sick mother in another part of the country.

I couldn’t believe my own thoughts. I couldn’t. Yes I could. No I couldn’t. But I could. I wrestled with my own mind. Before I knew what happened, I blurted out – “I’ll take it!”

“Another coffee?” the barista asked.
“No,” I said confidently. “I’ll buy the shop. Yes, I want to buy this coffee shop! And oh I’ll take another coffee too. Give me that spicy one this time.”

That was a year ago. I quit my job and used my savings to buy the shop. And I haven’t regretted one minute. I’m even experimenting with some new blends. Who knew, life happens when you follow detours.

(c) Copyright Suzanne Rudd Hamilton, 2020

The Main Connection

My husband and I bought the Main Plantation outside Charleston on a lark. We retired five years ago
and after thousands of games of golf and a closet full of paint by numbers canvasses, we needed a
second career. So the Main B and B began. The name shows it’s a bed and breakfast and also names us as its proprietors, Bill and Barb.

The Main plantation is a beautiful antebellum gem, with all the quaint markers of the day. Big white
columns greet guests after the long magnolia tree drive usher them in like a red carpet. Inside the home is frozen in time back to the days when cotillions and big hoop dresses were the order of the day. I loved this house the moment I walked in. And the two-tiered porch in the rear sealed the deal. It’s lined with Adirondack chairs. Bill and I sit out there and bid farewell to the sun’s reflection in the river every night.

The home was completely preserved as it was originally adorned in the mid 1800’s by a long line of the Main family, right up to the last Main, who died a year ago. From the trim, wallpaper and marble
fireplaces down to the brass candlesticks and the huge gold-framed mirrors in every room, it was all
there, just as it was.

When we first moved in, we started to rearrange the furniture and knick knacks a bit to accommodate
the B and B idea. But I would move something and the next day, it was back in its original place. This
went on for two weeks. First I thought I was having senior moments and just forgot to move things
around. Then, I was beginning to think I’d lost my mind.

So, I decided to do some research about the house, and what I found was the family’s matriarch
Margaret Main. Mrs. Main moved to the brand new mansion as a bride in 1838. She spent her life toiling over every detail maintaining the mansion for the grand events she held there. Even during the war, the party never ended, as Margaret regularly entertained confederate generals and presidents, to ensure her home’s safety from the war’s ruinous path of destruction. The house was her life. When Margaret Main died her will demanded the house continue with the family line and that all the finishes, fixtures, and especially all the mirrors in the mansion remain in place. Mrs. Main believed mirrors are a window to the past, present and future.

Then it clicked. When I altered something, anything, there would be a strange chilling breeze in the
room. But when I left everything in place, I felt a warmth, even a glow about the room. It was Mrs.
Main.

Bill thought I was losing it, but I decided to sit down in front of Mrs. Main’s painting and have a heart to heart. I told her how much I loved the house and promised to cherish it. And I explained what we were doing with the house and asked permission to move some furniture around. I think it worked, because we made some minor accommodations without issue.
Ever since then I talk to Mrs. Main all the time about the house. After learning about her, I feel
connected to her and to her home. I understand her wish to keep her legacy alive. Bill doesn’t get it,
but I feel her presence in the house. It may sound silly, but I really don’t ever think her spirit left.

“Good morning Mrs. Main, I think polishing the candlesticks are on our list today,” I said to Mrs. Main’s
painting. “Oh and I won’t forget the mirrors. I need to get into those intricate guilded frames. I know
they’re important to you.”

“You act as though you’re her maid,” Bill laughed, accompanied by Sala, their golden Labrador.
“I know,” I laughed. “But somehow I feel it’s still her house and it’s my job to be its caretaker.”

“Careful, you need to do a good job for Mrs. Main,” he chided.

“Oh just go walk the grounds and take Sala with you,” I laughed and rushed him out the door. “He just doesn’t understand us, Mrs. Main? He’ll never experience the connection you and I have to this house. I love it too.”

“I know you do, Barb, but you missed a spot. I will always be here to guide you,” Mrs. Main said in the distance.

(c) Copyright Suzanne Rudd Hamilton, 2020.

Ups and Downs

“That’s it, Mr. and Mrs. Brakes, you are free to go now,” the lawyer said.

“That’s it?” Karen said.

“Yep, that’s it,” Mark said.

Karen slowly grabbed her purse and walked to the door in a trance.  After twenty years together, her marriage was over with just a few swipes of a pen.

Once in the elevator, she clumsily reached into her open purse for her phone and everything fell out onto the floor. Frustrated, she reached crouched down to put everything back and fell down.

“It’ll be all right,” Mark said softly and reached to help her put the things back. “It’s for the best.”

“I guess. It just seems so final. That’s all folks,” she mimed raising her hands.

They silently picked up her things and put them back in her purse.

“I see some things haven’t changed. You still try to fit ten pounds of stuff in this five pound purse,” Mark said and they both laughed and sighed at the same time.

Just then there was a squeaking sound and the lights blinked on and off.  They both looked at each other puzzled. The elevator started to go up again, then down and then abuptly stopped with a thud. 

“I don’t like this,” Karen cautioned.

“We’ll just call for help.  No problem,” Mark calmly picked up the emergency phone and reported the problem.

For ten minutes, it was silent. Neither knew what to say. After six years dating, ten years of marriage, and four years of fighting, everything had been said.

“This reminds me of that time we got snowed in at my family’s cabin in Minnesota for three days,” Karen smiled.

“Right, we had to burn everything but the floorboards to keep warm,” Mark laughed. “Good thing the wine held out.”

“Oh yeah.  We were lucky my parents had a wine cellar and even luckier you and your munchies habit kept us in Fritos, Cheetos, and Oreos the whole time,” Karen laughed.

“I told you it wasn’t a bad thing to a junk food junkie. You can never have enough,” Mark chided.

 “I think we played about ten thousand hands of cards without a winner,” Karen chuckled.

“Nope, no winners here,” Mark said wryly and sat on the floor opposite her.

Ten more minutes went by without a sound. Each would look at the floor and then look up in synchronicity and start to speak, and then look down again.

“I don’t think this will turn out as well as that did,” Mark broke the silence.

“Did it?,” Karen scolded slightly and then sighed. “It’s ironic, that seemed to be the beginning of the end.”

“Regrets?” Mark asked.

“I don’t know. Who doesn’t? I guess it just wasn’t meant to be,” Karen said somberly.

“Yeah, I guess so,” he sighed deeply.

After ten more minutes, Karen looked up and smiled.  “Hey, you got any on you now?”

“Munchies?  Are you kidding?  I am always packing,” Mark laughed and dumped out his messenger bag of bags of chips, cookies, and candy bars on the floor.

They both laughed.

“Well, we don’t have any wine, but this should hold us for a couple days,” Karen smiled.

“That wouldn’t be so bad,” Mark smiled. “I’ll even let you have the Oreos this time.”

Karen smiled and grabbed the package of Oreos just as the elevator lights came on and it began to decend.

“Keep them,” Mark said putting the other food back in his bag.

They both stood up and silently stared up at the floors counting down. As the elevator doors to open, they looked at each other and stepped into the busy lobby. 

“Bye,” they both said, laughed and each walked in the opposite direction.

(c) Copyright Suzanne Rudd Hamilton, 2020

Distance

If I keep my distance, don’t take offense;

For social distancing is our best defense

If I don’t socialize, please don’t feel disrespected;

For sacrifices are necessary to keep us all protected

If I wear a mask, don’t belittle my caution;

For if everyone did, we could slow or stop the infection

And If I am scared, don’t treat my feelings as less;

For we all should be extra cautious to survive the virus

Zoom around the World in 7 Days

“Where are you going on your vacation, Gayle?” Clark asked.

“We’re going on a 7-day trip around the world,” Gayle answered. “We can’t wait.”

“A 7-day trip around the world? You can’t do that?” Clark laughed.  

“Sure you can. It’s easy with Zoom Virtual Travel,” Gayle said. “We’ve been Zooming around the globe for months now.  Instead of watching TV, we go on a different trip right from our living room.”

“What? You’re pulling my leg,” Clark chuckled. “You’re not going anywhere, are you?”

“Yes, really, we are. Let me show you,” Gayle said, pulling out her cell phone. “Here we are in front of the Eiffel Tower last month. Oh, and here are the kids marching in a New Orleans Parade at Mardi Gras last week. They collected so many beads, I don’t know what we will do with them.”

“I don’t understand, you were here last weekend, I saw you at a soccer game,” Clark insisted.  “How is this possible?”

With Zoom Virtual travel, you can Zoom around the world and get a full immersive experience,”  Gayle explained. “You get virtual reality headsets, so you can go to anywhere in the world you want. You just make your reservation, cue it up, and it’s like you’re really there.  You can do everything that you would if you traveled there, but you don’t have to leave your couch. You can go to museums in Spain, go on the elevator to the top of the Eiffel tower and even visit the Colosseum in Italy and take a guided tour.”

“Oh, I’ve heard of this, they show you movies and it seems like you are really there, but it’s not interactive, you can’t go to restaurants or talk to people. It’s not the same,” Clark said.

“No, really, it is interactive,” Gayle said. “They’ve thought of everything. With the smell-o-vision menu feature, so you can go into a restaurant and it pumps all the smells into your headset, and it tricks your palate into thinking you’re actually tasting it. A few weeks ago, we sat in a pub in Scotland and tasted haggis in Scotland and real Scotch. Nobody liked the haggis, but the scotch was incredible. We bought a few bottles for home.”

“You can taste things?” Clark said. But there are things you can’t do, like shopping. We love to buy souvenirs when we travel as a memory of the trip.”

“Actually you can,” Gayle explained.  “It’s incredible. You can go into a store or marketplace wherever you are and negotiate with vendors and the Zoom package delivery series will send everything right to your home. It’s all included in the zoom travel package. They’ve really covered everything.”

“You can interact with people there,” Clark asked.

“Yes. I had a conversation in Australia last month with a native aborigine in his native aboriginal language through their translator app. It was wonderful, he told me about when he was a young boy and now he actually teaches the old way of the aborigines to all the young children so the culture is not lost,”Gayle told.

“Wow, this is unbelievable,” Clark said. “I need to sign up for this right away. You save so much money and still experience the world.”

Definitely.  Oh I know your kids would love the Niagra Falls trip.  But don’t forget your slickers.  With the virtual experience feature, you will get wet when you go under the maid in the mist and near the falls. And put tarps down to protect the furniture.  Our couch got little wet from the overspray,” Gayle laughed.

“Sorry, I need to go.  I’ll text you the link.  I need to make reservations for the running of the bulls in Spain. We don’t want to get a spot in the back. The bulls really smell and you don’t want to get run over,” Gayle walked toward the door.

“It can do that?” Clark asked.   

“Yes, you don’t get hurt of course, but it really feels like it, Bye.” Gayle said.

Announcer: This has been an advertised-paid infomercial for Zoom Travel Co, Inc.

Author Note: This story was based on a prompt about “Zoom” in a writer’s group I belong to.

Copyright (c) Suzanne Rudd Hamilton 2020

Mary-Go-Round

Mary-Go-Round

“In ten miles, turn left at Exit 104,” said the kindly GPS voice. 

After school, Katie has band practice, then Holly has dance, and Robbie has to get to guitar lessons, Mary thought.  Do I have a lasagna in the fridge for dinner?

Mary’s daily commute gave her ninety whole minutes to herself each day to plan, organize and generally breathe. With a busy full-time career, house, husband, and three active grade-school children; life is a little hectic.

Oh, and don’t forget to run that report when I get to work and ask Jean for an update on the Statler project, she reminded herself.

Walking from her office parking lot, Mary quickly dictated a few notes and reminders into her phone.  

“Mary, when do you think I can get that report today,” said Rich, her coworker. 

“Right away, I just need to print it out,” she assured, as she picked up a cup of coffee, while taking off her coat.

“Mary, we have a problem on the orange site,” another coworker informed, following behind her brisk pace. 

“I’ll get on the phone right now,” Mary said. 

At her desk, Mary printed the report, drank her coffee and was on the phone to the construction site within minutes. Several hours later, she was dropping off reports, on her cell phone with another site supervisor and putting on her coat headed for the door.

Driving home, she was making a mental list of the evening’s schedule and her to do list when a truck pulled into her lane right in front of her and cut her off.  She quickly changed lanes, just in time to avoid the collision.  A little shaking and panting, she exited the highway and pulled into the school parking lot.

Breathe, she whispered to herself.  Just breathe. 

“Hi kids,” she smiled, quickly composing herself.  “How was your day today?” 

After her “mom taxi” run and dinner and homework were over, she put the kids to bed. She had extra work to do that evening to make up for her work absence tomorrow afternoon when “room mom” duties had her helping with the school amusement park field trip. 

On the school bus, she was making mental notes in her head, while nodding, but not hearing, the other mom’s gossiping about the new principal.

Did I call Matt and tell him to pick up the kids, she thought?  Do I have anything for dinner?  Oh, and don’t forget to call on that permit tomorrow. 

Going through line after line, she mentally planned, oblivious to the kids’ enthusiast chatter.  She toggled in and out of awareness from their high-pitched cackling back to her invisible lists, worrying about this and that.

“Mom, isn’t this fun?” Katie laughed with a gleeful grin.

Mary looked around.  She was on a plaster white steed with a golden pole bobbing up and down on the merry-go-round.  As she circled around and around, she looked at the blur of the crowd in the distance.  She didn’t even remember how she got on the ride.

It’s like life is passing me by.  I am stuck on my own personal mary-go-round.  I never get anywhere, I just keep going and going and going in circles, she reflected as she watched Katie and her friends laughing and throwing their heads back as they go up and down, around and around. 

When do I get to be like them and enjoy the ride, Mary thought?  When can I get off this endless loop?

That night after their dinner and bed routine, Mary opened her lap top and typed “how to retire early”.

(c) Copyright, 2019 Suzanne Rudd Hamilton, All Rights Reserved.

Generations

It was 1975, in a Playboy Club Resort in Wisconsin. Ricky Nelson serenaded his former teen fans in a small dimly-light, smoke-filled nightclub where malted drinks didn’t mean ice cream, but single-malt scotch in ice-filled tumblers.  Everyone was a little older, but for those moments, transported back to a time and place where swooning and sock hops were daily pastimes.

In the 1950’s, Ricky Nelson was at peak celebrity status, with teen girls swooning over him and teen boys copying his hair and clothes in an attempt to get girls to swoon over them.  In every jukebox in America, he had hit records.  In every home in America, his face was seen every week.

After an hour or so back in the 1950’s, my father burst back into the future and our hotel room with an excitement I had never seen before.

“Kids, you will never believe who is downstairs,” he panted with glee. “Come on, he said he would sign a few autographs and take pictures with you.”

Curious and excited, my brother, myself and our friends, all teens, hastily abandoned our board game in progress to check out which celebrity we were about to meet.  My father was still keeping us in suspense.

At the entrance to the hotel lounge, there were my mother, my mother’s friend and my father’s friend all standing next to this man.  My mother and her friend were standing on either side of the strange man, just looking up at his tall stature.  Their gaze was unbreakable and frankly, “goofy.”  And their smiles were a little creepy and unnerving, like they were stuck  in a trance.  My dad’s friend was standing next to them, drink and cigarette in hand, with a giant grin of satisfaction.

“Kids, look, it is Ricky Nelson!” my dad exclaimed.

In an instant, my brother and I looked at each other and then our friends and then back and forth with the same blank expression telepathically communicating the same question.  Ricky Who?

In the 1970’s, his songs were not in any jukeboxes and his face was not on any TV set.  He was invisible to the teens of the current generation.

To be polite, we forced smiles on our faces, stood next to the strange man and posed for pictures, while he autographed bar napkins for us.  He was very nice.  He took pictures with all of us, amid our teen confusion, the adult men peacocking and the adult women, yes, giggling.  We all thanked him and went on our way, still bathed in complete bewilderment, while our parents basked in the after-glow of excitement.

“Who was that guy, anyway?” my friend blurted out, when we were safely in the privacy of our hotel rooms.

It was a standoff.  We teens all looked at them with complete vacancy, while they simultaneously looked at us with equal disbelief.

“Ricky Nelson!” they exclaimed in synchronous chorus.

“Who?” we replied in equivalent confusion.

Then they looked at each other with immediate clarity.  There is no reason we would know who this was.  For years, he was king in their world, but he didn’t even exist in our world.

Nearly a decade later, a news story reported the death of teen idol Ricky Nelson in a plane crash.  I felt sympathy for his family and fans, but secretly couldn’t help but wonder if the autograph was going to be worth something someday.

I still have the autograph.  Not because it meant anything to me, but because it was a shared family memory, meeting a celebrity.  Three and half decades later, according to Memorbilix.com and Google, the autograph is worth $73.50.

Taken for a Ride

Purchasing a first car was a rite of passage.  It was a sign of adulthood, that you could survive on your own in the real world. But before the internet, buying a car required a little more work.  The only source of information was blue books and the wisdom of prior generations.  I sought help from my uncle, who was a luxury car dealer.  He schooled me in what costs to expect and what could usually be negotiated.  I also went to the library to research the Kelly Blue Book prices for the cars I was considering.  Armed with knowledge, I was ready to go to battle.

Car salesman at the time were considered the pinnacle of negotiation with dealers who added and subtracted costs and fees at will.  It was a make or break moment to either get a good deal or get taken for a ride.

The dealers in my area were conveniently lined up on the same street like a bread crumb trail for easy shopping.  At the first dealer, an older man approached us.  My husband had gone along for the ride, but was happy to let me handle everything.

I told him what kind of car I wanted and what I wanted to pay.  With a big smile, he looked at me and ushered us to a completely different car and price range.

“See how pretty this color is,” he patronized, looking at me.  Then he looked at my husband and told him all about the various mechanics and functions of the car.

“And it even has a new cassette tape deck, so you can listen to all that disco music you girls like,” he smiled.

This infuriating ping pong exchange went on for a few minutes.  When I asked a question about price or features, he would respond to me with some offhand quip about what I would like about the car.  Then he would turn to my husband and answer my questions about price and features.  

I was getting steamed when my husband finally told the salesman to talk to me about price. He looked at me, smiled, and turned to my husband to continue to discuss price.

“Next time talk to me,” I angrily told salesman and defiantly walk out of the dealership.

The second dealer did talk to me.  We discussed the exact car I wanted and all the features.  And when it came down to the price, I told him exactly what I wanted to pay.  He wrote it up and had me sit down with the owner to discuss the deal.  I expected this as my uncle told me that the deals were always finalized with the manager or owner.

This owner was the head of several dealerships and well-known from his cheesy commercials about a great deal. He sat next to me at the table wearing an Armani tailored suit, expensive Italian leather shoes and a Rolex watch. He looked me straight in the face, smiled, put his hand on my hand and said “Honey, you probably don’t know this, but we don’t give this kind of deal,” he said in the tone of a parent reading a children’s bedtime story.

So, I proceeded to show him my research on the blue book value, invoice and mark up, etc. 

He looked at me again, chuckled and said in a soft tone.  “Honey, I won’t be able to feed my children if I gave you this deal.  You wouldn’t want that, would you?”

Again, I walked out frustrated and exasperated[O1] . I felt like I was Goldilocks in my own tale of the sexist car dealers.

Hoping the third time was the charm, we went into the next dealership on the block.  Again, I told the dealer what I wanted and what I wanted to pay.  Again, we struck a deal and looked for the approval of the manager.  I clenched my teeth and braced myself for another battle.  Changing tactics, I went on the offensive this time and came out guns blazing with my information and research. But this time there was no issue.  The manager looked at the deal, smiled and praised me for doing my research and signed the deal.  By the way, the sales manager was a woman.

Fast forward 30 years and many car purchases later, I found myself alone at a car dealership.  Internet research made easier this time, I went to the dealer knowing exactly what I wanted and ready to buy in cash.  After more than 20 years in home sales, I always told other salespeople what I did for a living.  It made it easier, no tricks, no nonsense.  After all, you can’t “sell” a salesman.

The salesman was an older man, but with years of battles and scars in the war of the sexes, I was a veteran.  He took me to the car I wanted and began to talk to me about the pretty color.

I wondered if this relic was the same guy from years ago, but no, that guy would be dead.  Just a follower of his kind, lost in the past.

“I don’t care about the color, all I care about is the price,” I said smiling at him calmly.  “What is your best price?”

“This is a pretty red car,” he said smiling.  “You would look good in this color.”

I really couldn’t believe what I was hearing. But a little calmer with age, wisdom and a lot of practice dealing with sexism, I decided to smile back and fight fire with fire.

“You are right, I would look good in this car.  But if you don’t give me your best price, I am going to talk to that lady about how good I look in this car,” I said pointing to the saleswomen at the other desk.  “So, let’s talk about the price, OK?” I said in a soft motherly tone as I gently took his arm and lead him away from the car to the desk.

I bought the car and got the deal I wanted and secretly felt I won a battle in a war that I thought was over.  Apparently, sometimes, we still need to fight some more. 


 [O1]

Interruptions

It started just like another other day in the life of a mother with three babies, one wife and one dog.   Six am brought in the new day with the immediate chaos of three one-year old boys greeting the morning with the usual gusto, screaming at each other and running around chasing each other and the dog. Meg began the series of diaper changes and feeding rituals, the three kids, the dog, wife than finally herself.

She barely took a bite when the first call came in.  Meg didn’t get many calls during the day, but her sister was at the end of a difficult pregnancy, so she picked it up without looking at the caller id.

“You just won a wonderful trip to Cancun, absolutely free,” the caller said.

“Robocall,” Meg said as she hung up the phone. 

She blocked the number on her cell phone, bid goodbye to Laura, her wife and partner in life for ten years, and went on to clean the boys up and get them dressed. 

Watching her three little ones play and mess with the dog, Meg thought briefly about how her life has drastically changed.  Only one year ago, Meg was a surgical heart nurse and Laura was an airline pilot.  After years of unsuccessful invitro with both of them, finally Laura got pregnant and eventually gave birth to triplets.

Since she was a nurse and felt she should stay home for the first five years of the boys lives.  Then Laura was going to take over.  Laura got a steady flight schedule with a daily shuttle from Chicago to New York, so she could be home every night to help.

After a couple of hours of vigorous playing, the boys finally settled into their morning nap and Meg could go online to see if she had any questions from her online nurse consultant gig.  It was the perfect job for a busy mom.  She was a live nurse consultant who gave people advice on their symptoms in a live chat.   She barely got to the computer, when her phone rang again.  She didn’t recognize the caller id, but it looked like her sister’s work number.

“This is your chance. Your seat in the kingdom of heaven awaits you, but three tests will be given to you in the next 24 hours,” the call said.

Frustrated, Meg hung up again.  “I am so sick of these robocalls,” she barked.  “I keep blocking the numbers, but they just use another number.  Can’t somebody do something about these?”

Two hours later, she heard the boys awake and now it was diaper time again.  Diapering three boys in succession was a combination of herding cattle, keeping the strays at bay and changing tires in the pits of the Indy 500.  You needed to be really quick and need to know how to shuffle and duck to avoid the pee fountain.  Meg was a pro with nearly one year and four thousand three hundred and eighty diaper changes under her belt.

But just as she was almost finished with her third change, she got another call.

“This is an important call about your health insurance,” the voice on the other line said.  And just then, Meg got a face full of pee.  She often wondered if they just waited for her to let down her guard and then fired.  The phone dropped on the floor and ended the call.

Mumbling what would have been curse words under her breath, she finished the diapering, cleaned herself up and bundled up all three kids to them run and play with the dog outside.

Although she was grateful for their blessings, at certain times, it taxed anyone’s patience.

She played with the kids in the snow, but as they tried to make a snowman out of the dog, she had to intervene.  Just then, she got another call.

“That’s it,” she grimaced determined. “I am putting an end to this once and for all.”

“Good afternoon.  This is your credit card company,” the real voice on the phone said. “We wanted to discuss activity on your account.”

“Ok,” Meg said calming and feeling stupid that she jumped to the wrong conclusion.

“With Citicard any activity on your account will be protected with our patented securecard system and you will not be charged for fraudulent use.”

“Really?” Meg smiled devilishly. “So, when my deadbeat husband uses it to buy crack cocaine, I won’t be charged?”

“Uh, well…”, the voice said.

“What about when he goes to the atm at the strip club and takes out our rent money so he can get lap dances and other happy ending favors from the whores there. Now we could get evicted,” she asks, stifling a laugh.

“Um, I am not sure,” the voice said.

“Well, I would like a card that does that,” Meg said smiling. “Last month, I couldn’t even feed our kids because he maxed out the card buying a gun and shovel, he used to kill his brother and bury him in the woods.  How do I apply?”

Meg heard a click on the line and burst out in laughter.  

Copyright 2020, Suzanne Rudd Hamilton