Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Biting My Tongue

A Degree of Understanding

In my front yard.

I was crouched down by the paint brushes, straightening when the wife of the well-dressed couple approached me.

"I apologize for my husband's behavior," she said.  "He shouldn't treat any human being like that."

She seemed like a nice person despite the condescending statement:  any human being, meaning, even though you are not as exalted, you deserve to be treated well.  All I could feel was pity for her, that she had to live with him.  He was not nice.  In fact, he'd deliberately challenged me with what he thought were his superior intellectual skills.  I, after all, was just a hourly worker.

I almost told her to tell him, in a quiet moment, that the woman at the paint counter he thought was stupid was actually an engineer. But I didn't, because that brought me to his level and really, my degree didn't matter and she was right. He should treat all fellow humans with respect.  For some people, money and educational degrees are not a way to better oneself, it is a way to feel superior to others, entitled even.  "I am paying you, so I get to act any way I want."

The funny thing is that I was able to best him in his picked argument and it didn't require an engineering degree.  We were discussing paint with and without primer.  I explained that the primer-containing paint dried twice as thick as the one without.

"How much wall space does each gallon cover?" he asked.

Up to four hundred square feet.  He began to bluster that if one paint went on thicker than the other, then mathematically that was impossible.  He began throwing out numbers.  I breathed deeply and tried to calm myself.  You might be right, I explained, mathematically if the paint went on differently, but chemically, the paints dry differently, leaving one thicker than the other.  I was taught this at work and on the Internet, not in engineering school.

"Well, you've got me there," he said.  It didn't improve his disposition.  It was a Friday night.  Had he been drinking?  As I saw on a sign, I'm not a proctologist, but I know an asshole when I see one.

But then, I turned his behavior around on myself.  Was I ever the person that was impatient or thought I was better than the person serving me.  I know I have been.  At first, I was a bit ashamed of not having a professional job, but now it is a way to see things from another perspective and analyze why I would feel that way.  Why would I think that degree makes me better than anyone?  Why should it validate me?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Modern Huck

William and I continue to read Huckleberry Finn, after finishing Tom Sawyer.  For days, Wm has asked if Huck will ever see Tom again.  We've finally reached the point in the book where Huck and Tom reunite.  Although it is difficult to discuss and read aloud the "N" word, the book has really captured Wm's interest and provided much discussion.

Continuing to find hands on ways to learn about the books, we attended the play "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" last week.  This week, we went down to the Ohio River to imagine what it might have looked like floating down a wide river on a raft.

William took off his shoes and threw out a line to get a better feel for river life.  The large dock was our "raft".  Fishing for bass because that's how his line equipment was set up, he got nary a bite.  Still, we were enjoying the peace and quiet.  

About that time, a woman from the next dock came over.  She and her boyfriend might be able to eat an ear of corn if they shared - their teeth that is.   I inwardly sighed.  Too soon to judge, I found out, for she and her boyfriend were the kindest and gentlest of people, talking to my son and giving him a different hook and "stink bait" to try for a catfish. He reeled in someone's abandoned fishing line, but was at least a little gratified to find a nice sinker on the line (along with a good amount of vegetation).  

There was plenty of work waiting for me at home, lots I "should" have been doing, but somehow, seeing a boy enjoying life on a river was much more important today.

I LOVE my iPad, don't get me wrong, but I brought it and my Kindle, both gifts from my very generous Dad, to the river so I'd have something to do while son fished.  I found the bright sunshine made it really hard to see the iPad screen, and I quickly returned it to the car.  The Kindle, however, was easily read from my easy chair on the dock.  

What am I reading?

High Five

It's interesting the number of people that think my weekend job is "below me".  I laugh.  Give me a break:  I've been vomited on, pooped on, stepped on by a horse.  Besides, my mantra is "Jesus was a carpenter".  By comparison, the work is clean and easy, if only a bit frustrating at times for lack of support, training, feedback, rude customers....oh, I digress.

Or perhaps not.  This past Friday, I came to work to find that two of the computers that must communicate to match paint samples were not communicating.  I suggested counseling, but they wouldn't hear of it.  So, I set about using my trouble-shooting skills.  I pulled the tinter machine from the wall, replaced ethernet cords, checked connections and rebooted several times.  The computer continued to give an error message:  it was not pinging to the mainframe.

Without parts, I was stuck.  Frankly, I was not sure I was even allowed to get behind the machine.'s all special and techie and there are cords and I could get shocked.  For goodness sakes, it is a computer.  At any rate, I called IT and requested service.

By Sunday, after an enlightening Saturday on the cash register, I was back in paint.  The computer was still failing to ping.  With no parts, I went about our daily tasks.  We had some extra time, and so I was cleaning a corner inside the employee "cage" when I came upon an AWESOME discovery - a spare black box thingy that I was sure was the culprit with my non-pinging computer (thingy is one of the most advanced tech words, I assure you).  It wasn't connected to anything, just hanging there!

Unscrewing it from the wall, I changed it out, rebooted both computers and voila!  PING.  I suppose the fist pumping and little dance I did wasn't very professional, (I made two customers smile) but it was so fun, so uplifting to have fixed the problem.  It was then that I realized the challenge was so energizing.  I called IT and told them to cancel our request for service, and given that it was a network issue, the tech on the other end said rather loudly, "HOW did you do THAT?"  Oh, we just figured it out, I said, spare parts found, etc.

It is most likely that I've seen too many Tom Peters videos back in the 80s, but I believe in employees taking action and control where it is safe to do so.  And perhaps if more hourly people could, they'd have the occasion to do a little dance and pump their fists.

Monday, October 24, 2011

It's bad enough I have to get after William for watching too much TV, now I have to chastise the cats!

It was wonderful to have one daughter home for the weekend and looking forward to seeing the other later this week!  It has been mentioned by both that they miss the animals, and humans, too, of course.

I told a co-worker that I've a new hobby:  vermiculture.  He said he had one of those once but the wheels fell off.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Attitude is everything, but there are moments I envision myself the princess in the Rumpelstiltskin story, working desperately around the clock at an impossible task.  Okay, a very elderly princess.  But this week, with a pile of hay and a few horses, I was able to make gold!

Mr. Richardson, an tall, slightly bent, elderly neighbor, came to my door one morning, and knocked, setting off all the dogs and creating a chaos in the middle of William's piano lesson.  He was asking for another load of composted horse manure.  Usually, he comes for several loads in the spring for his wife's garden and flowers. I asked him to come back in the afternoon.  

After loading his trailer, he asked, as he always does, how much he owed me.  As always, I said that he owed nothing, I was happy to be able to share.  But Mr. Richardson wanted to give in return, and asked if I wanted some eggs?  Well, we can easily go through six eggs a day and though our hens try really hard, they can't keep up with us.  

The next day, the doggy doorbell went off and there was Mr. Richardson with two dozen golden eggs and a jar of his golden honey.  

I asked if he'd made that honey and he replied that no, his bees did.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's so pretty outside, cats are sprouting in my flower pots!

Yesterday at the ballpark, I smelled something rank as soon as I sat down.  Unmistakable smell of sewer.  Perhaps I was imagining it, but no, when dh showed up, he wrinkled his nose.  By about the second inning, an announcement was made, "Sorry for the inconvenience, folks, but the bathrooms are closed due to the sewer backing up."  The game proceeded anyway.

By the third inning, dh noticed water coming up behind the umpire along the fence. Every ball that passed by the catcher ending up in the muck, and it wasn't Texas gold bubbling up.  The ump held the ball gingerly with two fingers, and then tossed it in the grass.  A mom finally noticed and ran to tell the ballpark manager to see if something could be put out to cover the puddles forming, which evidently were coming from the broken sewer.  Wisely, he "called" the game, and we won in the third inning, the game not to be made up because it is "fall ball" and not so serious.  

The coach gathered the team around him after and said it was too bad the game was called because they had been playing very well.  

"Yeah," said dh, "That was a crappy way to end a game."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Homeschooling is at its best when real life activities enhance lessons.  We had finished Tom Sawyer and were moving on to Huckleberry Finn when the opportunity arose to ride on a steamboat.  The river and steamboats play a large role in Huck Finn's life, so the trip dovetailed nicely.  We'd just read about the wrecked passenger steamboat where Huck and Jim narrowly escaped looting murderers and were up to the part where Huck's and Jim's raft is run over by a steamboat in the night.  Huck had to dive 30 feet to avoid the above paddle wheel.   William looked over the railing, "I could just watch this all day!"

The hands-on lesson included methods of transportation, how the boat was powered, 
and a little bit of river history.

It was interesting to watch how the boat was parallel parked, using ropes and 
the various jobs on the boat.

Aunt Mary, the bantam hen, finally figured out it was a golf ball and not an egg and has risen from her nest.

Jorgen, Gotland pony, is doing well and it is time for me to start working him again.  What beautiful weather to ride a horse!


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