Sunday, June 26, 2011

No Thanks Just Lookin' For Some Caulk

I'm on vacation this week but I had to write a short blog to share a funny (or humiliating depending on how you look at it) experience.

I had the day off before we left, so I headed down to the local hardware store to pick up a couple of things for the house. I walked in and the orange clad greeter met me with a smile to asked if she could help me find anything. I waved and smiled back, then told her,

"No thanks, just lookin' for some caulk!"

If you can't find the humor/humiliation in this statement, kick out the kids, close the door, then blurt it out aloud, like you would to any unsuspecting innocent clerk. You'll get it!

Anyway, my brain was about a half a second ahead of my mouth making the statement even worse. I realized what I was saying a moment too late and the last word caught in my throat (no pun intended). It came out as crass as can be, and the young sales associate pointed to isle three while trying to hold in the gale of laughter with her other hand.

I apologized then turned to proceeded to my walk of shame, wondering if there could possibly be a worse name for that particular material. Of course I could have said caulking, but how many of us do that? Instead we all say caulk, drawing out the "L" until our tongues hang out of our faces to punctuate the proper pronunciation.

Needless to say, I found my way to the proper isle, and they did indeed have more caulk than any store had a right to. I picked up what I needed, paid for it, then left, wondering about how many people have made that same verbal faux pax. Have you done it? Can you think of any other words that have that same verbal tripwire for the tongue? If you do, I would love to hear it.

Oh, and the next time I go to the hardware store, I'll tell her I'm looking for the light bulbs.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Can't See It From My House"

These last couple of weeks have been pretty good for me. I managed to get a lot of work done, had a decent fathers day, even made it on time to my daughters softball game. All in all it was a pretty uneventful, week save one ugly looming black cloud; I hired an independent contractor.

I have never had this particular pleasure and I have to say, it was a peach of an experience. I spent years as a paint contractor and I have known many general contractors, so I know they’re not a bad bunch of folks, but there is a subculture out there I never knew about. They are known as independent carpet installers, and they are diabolically evil.

OK I know all carpet installers out there aren’t that bad. I’m sure there are those of you out there out there that sport a big C on the front of your spandex superhero outfit, but I only met the villains.

We went through no less than six contractors over the last two weeks. All of them promised a sea of beautiful carpet to swim in, but on the day of the job, none of them bothered to show up. They came by with tape measures and smiling faces, bidding the jobs with smoking calculators and full appointment books but that was as far as it got.

One after the other they fell off the radar. My wife and I both took time off work to wait for these wayward contractors, but not a one managed to make it back to our doorstep. The experience was frustrating to say the least, but the true depth of their evil had yet to be revealed. As I look back, I'm convinced all those missed appointments and broken contracts were just part of a master plan developed by the criminal mastermind, Joe!

Joe was the last contractor we found. He was ready and willing to do the job and seemed to be on the up and up. Needless to say we were a bit skeptical when he gave us a date for the install, but they showed up we were both thrilled. Finally we had an experienced contractor ready to do the job.

I went off to work and Joe's crew worked through the day, toiling away upstairs in the bedrooms and the hallway. When evening came, my wife, bless her heart, paid them, and they promised to come back and fix the few "little problems” they had run into. When I got home I surveyed their work and I have to admit I was a bit surprised. I thought it was a bit odd that Joe had used a crew of toddlers to do the work but considering the workmanship, I could think of no other answer. It must have been torture to do the whole thing with those little plastic scissors and glue sticks!

The seams were either bunched into shag mohawks or stretched apart to gaping canyons. The carpet was cut short on several walls and my favorite part was when one piece fell completely off the stairs.

Well needless to say I got on the phone and made a little call. When Joe answered he seemed a bit perturbed to hear my voice and proceeded to tell me about how hard he worked and how he believed I got a better deal than I should have. I told him I appreciated his hard work and tried to explain that I didn’t want the custom romper room install, but apparently he thought this was worth a little extra because before the phone call was over, he was asking for a little more "compensation!"

So now I have carpet with holes, waves, ridges, and an unfinished closet; oh did I mention the bare nail board in my daughters room? Where am I going with all this you say? Well nowhere I guess. The guy is long gone, money in hand, and I have no real recourse against him. I could smear his reputation and call the carpet police but what good would it do. I guess what I'm saying is watch out for those carpet villains. They're out there, and they're looking for you. If you have carpet installed, get references, get a contract, and for God's sake, ask to see the big super “C” on their chest!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

“Life Is Like Drawing Without An Eraser”

I saw this quote and it reminded me of a story that all of you out there in blog land will either find hilarious or horrifying. Either way, I’m sure you’ll agree it would have been a great time to have that life eraser.

Several years ago a friend of mine, we’ll call him Gregg, was making his way home from work and came upon a school bus at a stop light. It was filled with middle schoolers, and like many of us, he expected knowing grins and searching eyes to be peering at him from the side window; but today things went a little different. Today what he saw were gaping expressions, rude gestures and worst of all, one boy decided launch a slimy green projectile out his window and onto the hood of Gregg’s cherry 1969 Chevy Truck.

Now Gregg is a good man; one that I respect and look up to, but he does have a bit of a temper. In fact he has one of those tempers that can send him into a tunnel of single-minded rage that would have Hannibal Lector running for mommy. Needless to say, that big green spit bomb lit his fuse and it was mere moments before Gregg was tearing out down the road after that big yellow middle school bus.

Now all of us, at one time or another, has seen “that kid” and thought, someone should teach him a lesson in manners, but logic, not to mention local penal codes, serve to curtail said activities in most people. Of course the advantage of being a raving lunatic is that you can ignore those little speed bumps when it’s time to take care of business.

Gregg caught up to the bus at the next stop, jumped out of his truck and stormed over to the open doors. He stepped in, moved to the back of the bus and started to give the little loogie hucking bastard what for. Now this happened years ago in a time when it was acceptable to hold a child accountable for their actions. I’m sure if this happened today, he would have been drug off the bus in a media filled frenzy to be stoned in the pit of despair, but back then it was still O.K. to give a kid a good tongue lashing when he deserved it.

Gregg only had a few seconds to speak his peace before the driver made it to where he was standing, but it was long enough to make him wish he had that life eraser sticking out of his pocket. The woman took his arm, spun him around and spoke seven horrifying words. “This bus transports mentally challenged children sir!”

All the blood drained from his face. And that tunnel of rage? Well it melted away to reveal several children staring at him in wide eyed wonder. Thankfully Gregg’s tirade hadn’t made it to full swing before the driver stopped him, but he’d said enough to make his walk of that bus one of the longest of his life. He apologized to the children, which were no worse for the ware, and he apologized to the driver then he got back into his truck and went home.

No harm was done, and when he told us this story years later we all had a good laugh, but at the time he would have loved to back up and do that one again. How many times have you put your foot in your mouth? I know mine has pretty much taken a permanent residence there. We all have our moments, and some are funnier later than sooner but I would love to hear em. Tell me about your biggest oops, or you can tell me about your “Friend” and we can call him Gregg.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

"Beware Computer Programmers That Carry Screwdrivers"

The place I work, like many others, is fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to have an IT support office.

The good: If we have a computer problem we have someone to call.

The bad: They're idiots.

I have so many frustrating/hilarious calls associated with this office I thought I would share one with you.

These calls always start the same way. First I call them and explain whatever problem I have. Something like,

"My computers smoking and won't stop shouting obscenities at me, what should I do?"

It doesn't really matter what the problem or situation is, the response is always the same. It's always,

"Ummmmm, hold on a second."

This answer is of course followed by five to seven minutes of Barry Manilow while I'm on hold waiting for an answer.

Every time this happens I find myself wondering what they're doing. Is there some sort of evil mastermind they all have to report to? Is he a super techie, sitting on a throne surrounded by all his phone answering minions? Do they have to address him as sir or your highness or your superiorness? Who knows.

Anyway, enough of the background, here is how the latest phone call went.

Them: "Hello, tech support can I help you"

Me: "Yes, we have an external speaker hooked to our address system that has fallen off the wall. I picked it up and brought it into my office, but we will need someone to come over and repair or replace it."

Them: "Ummmmm, hold on a second"

OK so you are saying to yourself, "that's not fair, why are you calling computer support for a P.A. speaker" right? Well your half right. It is a public address system, but it is controlled through our computer network. I figure if I knew this, the guys that installed it should probably know this too.

OK back on the line.

Them: "The person that usually works on the P.A. systems won't be back till the 15th can you call back then?"

Me: "Do you have anyone else that can work on them?"

Them: "Yes."

Insert uncomfortable pause here.

Me: "Well do you think you could send them over instead"

Them: "Ummmmm, hold on a second"

Barry Manilow

Them: "Is the speaker still working?"

Me: "The one sitting on my floor? I don't think so, can you send it a test or a ten count or something, maybe I'll hear it."

Them: "Ummmmmm, hold on a second."

Barry Manilow

Them: "O.K. What building are you in."

Me: "This is the fire department"

Them: "What building is that in?"

Me: "The fire department"

Them: "What room was the speaker mounted in?"

Me: "It was an external speaker mounted outside."

Them: "O.K. What room is that?"

Me: "Outside"

Them: "Well I can't put the ticket in if I don't have a room number"

Me: "Maybe you could try outside"

Them: "O.K. we will try to get someone over."

After I got over my frustration, it occurred to me that this was the guy we trust our equipment to. The equipment we rely on day in and day out. Not a very comforting thought. Lord knows I am not a computer genius but if this guy is any kind of gauge, I think I could have a pretty good career in the I.T. department. Maybe I need to switch professions.

Have you experienced this kind of genius anywhere in your life? I would love to hear about it. By the way as for the speaker? It is still sitting on the floor of my office and I haven't heard a test come through it yet!