Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Just came back from 6 days on the road, fairly literally. We left town Thursday morning, got to Santa Fe Friday just in time for my step-brother's wedding rehearsal dinner, attended a wedding Saturday, had breakfast with best friend Susan Sunday morning, then headed back Sunday afternoon, finally coming to a halt back home last night.

When I get back to work, everyone's going to ask me how my vacation went.

On the more positive side I got a definite break from normality, which is a vacation-of-sorts. For those of you who might be doing the grand road trip experience, I offer the following travel advisories:

Iowa: truckers are the more aggressive here than anywhere else in the country. Stay on multilane highways if you can, because a semitruck stuck behind you for hours is a scary thing.

Nebraska: around dusk, you can see lots of deer in the fields. We even saw bucks wading in a pond -- very cool, very, very big racks. The truckers are more patient once you turn south.

Colorado: sign posted in our hotel room at the Budget Host Platte Valley Inn of Julesburg:

Please do not clean birds in the room

There is a cleaning station beside the trailer on the South side of motel.


New Mexico: in the midst of a 3-year drought. Bring your own water, leave matches at home. About half of the pinon trees are dying, so expect to see prices for pine nuts skyrocket in the next year and buy accordingly.

Texas: didn't see much. But they do put up official "don't mess with Texas" signs alongside the highways.

Oklahoma: very into road construction signs, not so into the road construction itself.

Missouri: just because actual construction has left highway traffic with one lane, it's night, it's pouring rain and a pervasive mist has reduced visibility to five feet doesn't mean anyone slows down. Lots of small town eateries with clear, well-maintained signage advertising great food ... and boarded-up windows.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Everybody needs a hobby

In reference to that last line in the previous entry:

We recently moved our coffee from right in the front of the store to the back. Serendipitously, it was right after Ash Wednesday that we did this. I had an inappropriate amount of fun telling customers that the store gave up caffeine for Lent.

One of the recurring Customer Complaints/Questions is, "When are you going to build a store in ____?" with varying degrees of frustration, exasperation, accusation, and salivation. I'm aware that "you" doesn't mean me personally, but the wording never changes. One day, I had been joking around with some friendly customers when the outed with the Question. My answer:
"Actually, I'm working on building the store right now. I drive up on weekends to work on it. But the problem is that I've only got my old Corolla, and I can only fit so many bricks in the trunk."

They're watching you

In case you've ever wondered if the clerk ringing up your stuff is paying attention to what you're buying, the answer is probably.

I've found that I can usually guess the marital status of my customer by what they buy (I only check the ring finger after I've reached a conclusion).

Divorced dads bring their kids with them to pick out food for the weekend -- it's usually pizza. Frozen pizza, not pizza dough plus ingredients. They only buy just enough food to get through the weekend.

Guys -- when (if) you retire, don't go grocery shopping with your wife. It will drive her absolutely crazy, and you'll just be bored. Ditto for her daily errands.

Metabolism aside, obese people and skinny people do shop - and eat - differently.

If you have a juicer, I bet you buy a lot of carrots. By "a lot," I mean 20 bags at a time. That's a lot of carrots.

Bringing husbands along (if the wife does all the shopping) always means a much higher grocery bill.

Saturdays are Pizza Night for a lot of Chicago's Western Suburbs.

Unless you have a ton of kids, having a reserve deep freezer is a slippery slope.

You've never known panic until you walk into your local store and they've moved the coffee.

I never thought of that

Favorite conspiracy theory to date (as provided by a customer):

Jimmy Hoffa is not dead. In fact, he is simply in drag, very much in the public eye. Yes, folks, ol' Jimmy's new name is Tammy Faye Bakker.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Rainy day

It's been raining all day. Now, I really like these days. No, wait. That's not quite right. I learned to like these days after reminding myself that I wasn't in Santa Fe anymore. An all-day rain would make me nervous, because in Santa Fe that meant that all the main roads would be flooded, and getting home from anywhere (which, since I didn't have a car back then, always involved some walking) meant a huge hassle. And lots of flash flood warnings.

In Wheaton, however, this is not the case. So I love the rainy days. (Ouch. I've got a song running through my head. There's one that goes "I love the rainy nights" or something ... I always heard it when I was little riding in the car with my dad, who would listen to "secular" music. Now I'm gonna have to Itunes it to find out who it's by.)

What was I saying? Yes. Rain. Is good. Is fun. Sometimes involves flooding on Wheaton campus -- remember when we went wading in the Edman parking lot, AndreaW (if you're online, that is)? That was so much fun! Even after Public Safety came and told us to get out of the raw sewage!

But back to the rain. Me: all sorts of happiness. Customers: very, very cranky. Grown-ups need more naps, less coffee. I've come to the conclusion that my nerves can handle just about any child's breakdown: it's the adults' that I can't stand. It turns into psychological warfare, where anything they perceive as wrong is my fault.

All the more reason for why I shall never grow up. It's not good for the public, having one more snippy tall person every time it rains.

Instead, I shall look outside and think, "I need a cat."

Sunday, May 07, 2006

My brain hurts

For the second week in a row, Crazy Baci Woman has struck. She's a customer who insists on talking to a manager, and then tells him (or her), "You have to start carrying Baci candy! It is the greatest! I have to go all the way to Chicago to get it!"
Each time, I tell her that she can get it at Bende's European Foods, which is a half-mile away. On the same street. On the same side of the same street.
"Oh, no," she says. "I never go there." Today she explained. "There's never anybody there!" In response to my (and MichaeltheManager's) puzzled frown, she elaborated. "It's just so creepy, how there's never any customers, I just can't stand to go there!" She finishes up by admonishing us to get on with the import contracts with the Perugina Chocolatiers in Italy.

I give up.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

We're doomed

In my "interests" section, I put down Dungeons & Dragons. This is because I'm now in a D&D group (or, as Brent "Chuckles" Brollier put it "D&DSG"). We're a motley group of Christians who got together because we knew someone who knew someone (all the connecting people have since dropped out). In other words, a small band of Drow kicked our ... um, can I say "asses" here? I guess I can. They kicked our asses. Hard. My character was vaporized by a "Scorching Ray" spell. Ouch.

But now we're getting ready for another campaign. We're going to add a few more people (I hope) and meet on a more-regular basis (again, I hope).

The catch: I'm the Dungeon Master. Oy.

The power is mine! All mine! Bwa-ha-ha-haaaa.........

except that there's an awful lot of rules to remember. *Whimper.*

The more I play this game, the more I realize that the idea of Dungeons & Dragons leading young people to the Dark Side is completely ridiculous. We have no time to murder our parents -- we're too busy trying to figure out if there's a feat that allows us to go full defensive in a melee attack and still get the backstab bonus! (Answer: probably. Just have to find the right publication with the details.)

What's Going Around

In case anyone hasn't noticed by the dour themes in my last few posts, I'm sick. Blech. Not even a straightforward kinda sick, either -- that really obnoxious, "no-energy-just-don't-feel-right-dizzy-malaise."

And, in answer to the raised eyebrows that always follow that description: no, I'm not pregnant. Honest. You'll be the first one to know -- before me, even.

Which reminds me of a tangent -- I love Brooke Shields' new daughter's name (Grier). I love even more that she let everyone know what the name was before the baby arrived. I just loved how against-the-norm that was.

Also, has anyone noticed how if someone's reading over your shoulder, you suddenly can't type to save your life? Seriously. I just had to hit "backspace" about 13 times once Husband walked into the room.

In addition, CONGRATULATIONS, BECKY DEL CARLO, ON YOUR NEW DAUGHTER! [Jord, can you maybe pass it on? :) ] For some reason, I'm less able to email than blog ... maybe because it doesn't involved searching for email addresses that I've usually lost somewhere.

Plus, I'm tired.

The end.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Kvetcher in the Rye

I know that they provide for my paycheck, but sometimes the customer isn't right. There. I said it. The Thing that is to blame for my current rant is actually a recurring Thing, therefore worthy of a Rant.

For those who are no longer living in Chicago's Western Suburbs, I'll let you in on a geographical/topographical tragedy: Alas, the Suburbs are sundered. This area has joined the ranks of the Dakotas, Korea, Germany (pre-1989) and the Twin Cities.

No one, apparently, can cross I-355.

This is a problem when our store is exactly one mile from the highway, which crosses Roosevelt Rd. via an overpass. Why problem? If I try to give directions to a customer (the best place to get weird nutrition supplements, herbal hair dye, dried legumes in bulk, etc.) that involve crossing this barrier, the customer freaks out. "All the way over there? You've got to be kidding! That's in the next town!!!"

This weirdness is similar to another one, that I shall call When Are You Building a Store On My Street? Such as in Lombard (that one mile away) or in Wheaton (two blocks away).

These complaints fall on the unsympathetic ears of a girl who learned to drive in a state where for years the best store-bought coffee was located a full 80 miles from home.

Sometimes convenience is a very, very bad thing. It makes me cranky.