Saturday, January 31, 2015

Tricked by the Telemarketer

I heard the tell-tale click.  It was a telemarketing call.  

“Hello, this is Amanda and I’m calling to talk to you about the interest rate on your credit card.”

Oh, no.  A robo-call.  The worst kind of telemarketing call.  Being a marketing genius I am quite familiar with voice-activated auto-dialer technology.  I decided to play along.

“Hi Amanda.  Are you a robot?”

Amanda chuckled and said, “I’m a real person.”

I guess I was wrong.  I said, “Wow.  You sound like Siri.”  

Amanda said, “I’m calling to talk to you about the interest rate on your credit card.”

OMG.  She WAS a robot!  That is some script. She had me totally fooled.

“Amanda, you are a robot.”

Amanda said, “I don’t know why you think I’m a robot.  I’m a real person.”

OK, I guess maybe she was real. “Your voice sounds like a robot," I explained.

“I’m calling to talk to you about the interest rate on your credit card.”

I was getting so confused.  Really only one way to tell.  A trick question.

“Amanda, do you like to plant tomatoes?”

Let’s see if that stinkin’ voice activated auto-dialer anticipated THAT question!

“What are you talking about?  Do you want to talk to me about your credit card or not?”

She was real.  

I think.  

“No.  I have to go tend to my tomatoes.”  And I hung up.  Flustered.

Because I really didn't know for sure.  

But you know what?  She never really answered my question. If she was real, she would have said something like "I'm allergic to tomatoes" or "I really suck at farming."  

But instead she said, "What are you talking about.  Do you want to talk to me about your credit card or not?”
That response could have answered any number of trick questions.

I have been out-smarted by a robot.

I think.

Either that or I tricked her.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

One Leg Up

I admit it.  Sometimes my enthusiasm for projects causes me to jump in too fast.

Some might call me fearless.

Others may call me stupid.

But how difficult could it possibly be to make a lamp out of my new leg?  

Certainly, the hardest part would be finding a shoe that fit on her foot.  I mean, besides Barbie, whose foot is shaped like that? 

I tried on some of my own shoes. They looked ridiculous.

Before heading out to Warehouse Shoes with my leg, I decided to look in Kimmy’s room.  SCORE!

So I headed to Target to find the perfect lamp shade and then to the fabric center, where I found some lovely, funky red fringe that perfectly matched my leg’s new shoe. 

I was almost done!

I stopped at Lowes to pick up the other stuff.  You know, the cord and the thingee that holds the lamp shade on.  Oh, and the what-cha-ma-call-it.  You know....  That thing with the button that you push to turn the light on. 

I carried my leg into Lowes and asked the girl in the Lighting department to show me what I needed to buy in order to make a lamp out of my new leg.  She told me I would have to come back on Monday.  When the Electrician was there.  


So I went to Home Depot.   A very nice guy, let’s call him “Joe”, directed me to the wall of lamp stuff.  But when I pulled out my leg, Joe immediately got on his walkie-talkie and called in the big gun, Herman. 

 “Hey Herman,” Joe said, pointing to my leg.  “This lady wants to make a lamp out of that leg.”

Herman and Joe circled my leg, touching it tentatively at first, then lifting and shaking it. 
Well, not my real leg.  My new leg.
Did I mention that the top of my (new) leg was not level to the ground?  Apparently the slant makes the project significantly more complicated.

“Listen, lady” said Herman, shaking his head.  “That is not an easy project.”

Then they started their tech talk.  (They were probably trying to impress me.)  Dropping words like 3-way socket.  And threaded rod.  And lamp pipe.  

And electrocuted.

That’s when I had a scathingly brilliant epiphany. 

My leg would make a lovely vase!

But then again... 

Who says a lamp needs to light up?   

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Groupon Massage

You don't tug on Superman's cape.
You don't spit into the wind.
You don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger.
And you don’t buy a Groupon massage.

But the price was right.
And my neck was really, really sore. 

I arrived right on time for my massage.  I was optimistic; the facility was much nicer than the spa in the Food Lion plaza that went out of business. 

I was greeted by my massage therapist, let’s call her “Willow”.  Willow was debriefing her 4:00 client, advising her to drink a lot of water because she had “pressed a lot of her organs.”

“You pressed her organs?” I asked.  (I couldn’t resist.)

Yes, she did,” said 4:00, “and it was the best massage I ever had.”

Wow!  I couldn’t wait for Willow to press my organs! 

Little did I know that she was going to press my organs using my feet as remote controls.  As it turns out, a Reflexology Massage is a stinkin’ foot massage.

Before Willow began my Reflexology foot massage, she measured my “bio-markers”.  I had to put my hand on a magical mouse which determined how many of my bio-markers were out-of-range.

I am not making this up.

I told Willow that I didn’t even know I had bio-markers but if they were out-of-range I was all in favor of bringing them back.

 I had 32 bio-markers out of range.  Willow assured me that Eucalyptus and Geranium oils would help heal my bio-marker imbalance.  


At the start of my massage, Willow dribbled some Eucalyptus oil onto the palm of my hand.  She instructed me to rub my hands together, place my palms over my nose and slowly inhale. 

It smelled like the damn Koala building at Riverbanks Zoo.

I tried not to gag as I moved my hands underneath my body, wiping the offensive oil on the sheets. 

I closed my eyes.

Willow began to blow on my feet.  OMG.  What if she starts to lick them?  I decided to get her talking.

“So, Willow…. can you really massage my neck by pushing on my feet?”

“Yes...” Willow purred.  

“What about my shoulders?”

“Oh yes,” Willow said. “It works like acupuncture.”

Well that made me feel better.  Not.

For the next 40 minutes Willow pushed on all my organs: my kidneys, my spleen, even my heart. 

At the end of the session, I realized that my neck still hurt like hell.  Plus my left leg, which had been strained in a wallpaper removal injury, was throbbing.

Perhaps it had been exacerbated by all that organ pushing.

But you know what?

My feet felt amazing.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Those 5 Minutes

The shopping trip to Lowe’s Wednesday night was quite ordinary. 

Except for those 5 minutes.

I had been walking around the bathroom section looking for a cabinet I’d seen online.   Linda, who was just along for the ride, was getting bored and impatient.

 “Hurry up Mom.  It must not be here.”

“It’s here somewhere,” I said, as I wandered around, up and down every aisle that contained anything resembling a cabinet.   Linda followed me like a baby duck trailing her mother.  With her nose in her iPhone.

Then we heard some kind of ruckus coming from the front of the store.  It sounded like they were filming the Jerry Springer show in the paint section.  

Hey… this could be fun, I thought.

Except a Lowes' employee ran up to us and said, “Go to the back of the store!  Find a hiding place.” 
I looked at him dully, “What?” 

He said, RUN!  NOW! Find a safe hiding place.  Go as far back in the store as you can get.”

We took off running.  We ran into the Netherlands of Lowes.  Where ordinary customers aren’t allowed.  Just the special ones who were told to go hide.

It was exciting.  We were hiding in Lowes!  

That is until I overheard another customer, who was hiding near us dial 9-1-1.  She whispered urgently into her phone, “We are in Lowes and somebody’s got a gun.”

That was news to me.  

Somebody had a gun.  OMG.  

The rational Lou thought that it was probably nothing.  

But then I remembered Sandy Hook Elementary School.  And that movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado.   And Virginia Tech.

Then I got scared.

Linda had been about 10 feet from me.  I motioned her to come over by me.  I put my arms around her and we tried to make ourselves invisible. 

But we were like fish in a barrel.  Our hiding place stunk.  We should have stayed in the bathroom section.  There were way better hiding places there.

After what seemed to be an hour, but was only 5 minutes, the other hiding customers waved us out.  We hesitantly walked back into the retail area.

The store seemed completely normal.  It was surreal.   Customers were looking at floor tiles.  And toilets.

I walked up to an employee and said, “Um, what just happened?”  He said, “I’m not sure.”   So I said, “Can you help me find a cabinet I saw online?”  

He did.

But I was way too wound up to purchase it.  We decided to leave the store.

Police cars were lined up in front of the store when we left.  Two officers were talking to the store manager.  We heard bits and pieces of the story.  Something about a fight breaking out and an overdose of testosterone. 

“Was there a gun?” asked one police officer.  “Oh, no,” said the manager.  “There was no gun.”

Over the past few nights I have had nightmares about those 5 minutes.  And I’ve come up with all kinds of hiding places just in case history repeats itself.  In a kitchen cabinet.
Behind the lumber. In a trash can.  

My safe, suburban life has returned to normal. 

But those 5 minutes?  

Anything but.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Stripper

Not since Muhammad Ali fought Joe Frazier has there been such a match up. 

Me vs. the bathroom wallpaper.

For weeks I have been unsuccessfully tackling the project, which is way less fun than getting toenails removed.

Then, suddenly, I had an epiphany.   I could leverage this aggravating activity into a bigger project that could benefit all of mankind!

In fact, at the risk of appearing arrogant, my scathingly brilliant idea may change the world as we know it today.

You may be aware of the controversy related to the interrogation of terrorists.  

Is it ever acceptable to use torture?  How far should the CIA go to protect innocent victims of a potential heinous terrorist plot?

Waterboarding is clearly frowned upon by certain segments of the population.

As is toenail removal.

Well, what about stripping the wallpaper in my bathroom?  Not only is this a politically correct technique for torturing interrogating terrorists, it is pure genius!

Think about it. 

The following scenario, although fictional, is a realistic application of the Nerdling Interrogation Technique (NIT). 

The CIA Agent, who looks remarkably like Sargent Shultz, sits opposite the ISIS operative.

“Answer me, Abu Aboumammanhhal!  Who and where is your target?"

“I know nothing.  I am innocent.”

“Well...   We’ll just see how good your memory is after you spend a little time stripping wallpaper in Lou Clyde’s bathroom.”

Abu Aboumammanhhal attempts to hide a smirk.  “You have supplies?”

“Of course.  Here’s some Dif Gel Wallpaper Stripper, and a scorer, and fabric softener, and white vinegar, and an iron, and some Piranha Wallpaper and Paste Remover Concentrate, and Piranha Wallpaper and Paste Remover Gel Spray, and a Pampered Chef spatula.”  

 Then, feeling generous, the agent adds, "And a pair of tweezers."
Abu Aboumammanhhal walks into the bathroom, eying the wallpapered walls.  Little does he know that this is no ordinary bathroom.  

Its wallpaper has been adhered directly on the flat rock.  With Superglue.

“Oh… Aboumammanhhal?  One more thing.”


“Don’t tear the sheet rock.”

Abu Aboumammanhhal begins the project.  He painstakingly peels off the top layer of wall paper, leaving a google of nano-layers beneath. 

After 6 hours the CIA agent checks his progress.   He observes that Aboumammanhhal has not yet cleared 1 square centimeter.  “Are you ready to talk yet?”

“I know nothing.  I am innocent.”

“Keep stripping,”
says the agent. 

At hour 33 the moaning begins.  It turns to a wail 3 hours later. 

The wailing stops, unexpectedly at 5 pm.   The agent opens the bathroom door.

He finds Aboumammanhhal curled up in the fetal position, whimpering like a baby.  “Please water boarding.”  

When the agent refuses (because water boarding is considered torture),
Aboumammanhhal spills his guts.  A terrorist plot is averted and peace is restored in the Middle East.

The doorbell interrupts my scenario and it is my friend Chris delivering a wallpaper steamer.  I hadn't tried that yet. 

I think I'll give that a whirl before calling the CIA.