Thursday, 29 September 2011

Sea Turtles Club - The Bad Gift

 December 26th. The day of leftovers, killer sales... And returns. The sales associates at Mind Your Buck department store had formed a sort of unspoken alliance especially for this day. In a lot of ways this was a kind of animalistic instinct - probably about the same as that of the buffalo who circle around their young when wolves are on the hunt. Customers equal Wolves. Young Buffalo equal Employee Sanity. In the name of equality the store manager had made a schedule of rotations for all the employees to work at Returns today. This was the same manager that took about fourteen "breaks" a day. Once, while she was "on a break" a girl from housewares spotted her sticking her fingers in the scented candles and rubbing the wax in her ears. No one was ever brave enough to call her out on this, but it did clear up the question of why you would sometimes get a sniff of Ocean Breeze when standing next to her. Jenna Jenkins, the Assistant Manager was the staff’s saving grace and knew how to gracefully walk the line between total control and superior appeasement.
 The store opened at five am with a line of women (all frothing at the mouth) wrapping around the store. They were a completely feral group of shoppers and the only semi logical idea floating around in their heads was that they needed to return every possible thing they could in order to increase the day’s expenditure limits. Each section could only afford to give up one associate for returns today. As it stood, there was already a group of women climbing on top of each other to get at the Barnyard Boots Bargain rack and a crazed forty-something lady with mismatched shoes roaming the store snatching items out of people’s carts while they were looking away.
 The first unlucky soul to take the helm of returns was Glenda Caphalon from Housewares. The women in line were scowling and clutching their venti quad-shot Sugarbux lattes as if life depended on them. Glenda was a  thirty- seven year old, level headed, systematic woman (who liked crosswords and rollerblading) and she fared better than most would in the initial attack. Glenda found that if she could focus on the tags and numbers and occasionally look at the customer, imagining what kind of animal their facial structure would lend them to becoming in another life, she could get through the returns quickly and keep a smile on her face. Her three hour shift ended faster than she expected. 
Lauren Raphael from Clothing took over at eight. Getting ready to head back to Housewares Glenda patted Lauren on the shoulder and said “Good luck Lo. You can’t imagine the stuff I’ve seen already. Half of it I didn’t even know we carried until I scanned it in. There was one young girl who brought back an extra large red sweater with an Elmo face and words saying ‘you can tickle me anytime.’ that her Dad bought her!”
 Lauren was nineteen and always sang Stevie Nicks songs when she went to Karaoke with her friends. She silently cried to release the tension of inner rage triggered by insults from customers for most of her three hours and the worst gift she saw was a Condolence Wreath of magenta and gold flowers with a plaque on the front that said “At least it wasn’t you.”
 Stan Stanley from Tools was up next. He was the only man in the store that day and the stunned, mouth open look he met Lauren with was the same that he wore his whole shift. He didn’t speak a single word to the customers or the next employee who took over for him at two o’clock, but he was pink around the ears and she could see an old woman putting a Learn to Strip From Home kit (complete with pole) in the overflowing returns bin beside the register.
 Eve Madden worked in the shoe department and was the sensitive type. She spent most of her shift trying to make excuses for the gift givers like “I’m sure he had good intentions.” and “Maybe she’s a bit color blind and didn’t notice this hat was chartreuse.” Her positivity broke when a very abrasive middle aged man with a floppy gut and sausage fingers returned a set of Anger and Stress Relieving Meditation CD’s from his considerate brother. Her shift ended abruptly with her making a comment along the lines of “Maybe he should have bought you a douchebag jar instead!” and leaving.
 Apparently the manager (who had only been spotted briefly today stuffing the complimentary mints from a register stand into her socks) had assigned the five o’clock shift to some girl working at the in store salon. The salon wasn’t actually open today but no one was in any hurry to bring this to the manager’s attention and the five to eight shift passed uneventfully with the person at the front of the line taking a pick me up nap against her mound of disposable Santa plates and everyone assuming there was someone else in front of her since they couldn’t see past her heaping cart.
 Eight to eleven was Eu de Chantelle from Perfume, a haughty French woman who married an American and now had to work at Mind Your Buck to pay for her imported cheeses. Her shift consisted mostly of verbal sparring between clerk and customer and always ended with her sneering something in French and violently shoving the receipt into their hand. A box of California Chardonnay was obviously the worst gift she saw.
 Jenna Jenkins had the last shift and was skillfully pulling the mayhem of the day together (the manager was currently sleeping under men’s belts). After making a round of the store and mapping out the areas to send the forklift for clean up to tomorrow she moved her thoughts of organization to the now nearly undetectable returns counter. Her staff had done well keeping the items in semi distinguishable piles. “Great job today guys.” She thought halfway out loud. “Um, can I return this please?” An attractive, quietly sad looking woman holding a diamond necklace had walked up and startled her. “Oh! Oh, sure. Sorry, I didn’t see you walk up. I’ve been here since yesterday and I’m nearly hallucinating!” They both chuckled. “I quit my job yesterday” the attractive woman said. Jenna smiled, checking the packing of the necklace for a bar code “Oh? You must have had some great presents to merit that step of independence.” “All of my presents were great... except for that one.” “Not into diamonds much?” Jenna asked casually, handing her cash and a receipt. “I guess I’m not.” she replied “That’s the first one I’ve ever had. My boss gave it to me. He said he thought it would look great on my neck. I didn’t want it or that job anymore. I’ll take this pawn shop wedding band over that kind of attention any day.” and with that she walked out, leaving Jenna at the register holding the worst gift of the day.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

A good friend of ours is a fantastic writer. He was telling me about this "Modern day hymn" that he wrote based on the author of Amazing Grace. I was really captured by it and he said I could feature him here if I gave him credit. Enjoy!

by Randy Rigby Joseph Goodwin

Now I lift my anchor from the mirky deep
To the final journey whence I sleep

Now my boat does heave and pitch
Beyond the stormy sea adrift

On my lofty skysail clipper
I set sail to eternity

There is nothing that is swifter
Than my soul sailing to Thee

My anchor now and ‘till the end of time
Against gale winds and changing tide

Not of iron stone wood nor lead
My anchor is the living Head

His spirit blows through my rigging
My sails set on broad reach

Of my final day I’m singing
Singing of my soul to Thee

I race to eternity, I race to Thee
Anchor of my soul

On my lofty skysail clipper
I set sail to eternity

There is nothing that is swifter
Than my soul sailing to Thee

My anchor now and ‘till the end of time
Against gale winds and changing tide

Not of iron stone wood nor lead
My anchor is the living Head

© 2011 El Morro Music

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Dum Spiro Spero

I took a name to have and hold
and call my own until I'm old
and grey of hair and weak of eye
but for a spark of hev'n inside.

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Misadventures of a Lady and Her Cleansweep 5

The Beast. The Hawk. The CleanSweep 5.

I decided that as a motorcycle lover and owner I should actually use the bike I have. Disregarding the passing comment made by the Trophy Motorcycle shopkeeper about how we should sell it unless we have a death wish, and it's less than perfect track record, I opted to ride it to work instead of taking the car.

Eleanor Roosevelt said "Do one thing every day that scares you." Well, I can emphatically check that off my list. Last time I rode it I dropped it down a hill and later knocked it over on a lady because I didn't get it into neutral when kick starting. I was apprehensive to say the least. Knees shaking I headed out on my 45 min sans freeway ride to work. The shocks are bad so you feel every bump and crack but after a few minutes I was okay. The wind in my face always does that for me. Arrived: Safe and sound. Fast forward 8 hours (4 more than I was expecting), I remount and set out to retrace my steps home.


  • Unavoidably scratched helmet visor = Less than ideal night vision.
  • Wind = watering eyes. 
  • Missed turn (due to tear blurred vision) = forced freeway entrance (I have my license but desired to keep speeds lower).
  • +55 mph = tremendous wobbling.
  • Inexplicable spluttering = Empty gas tank.
  • Darkness = Difficulty in finding reserve tank switch.
  • Filling 2 gallon gas tank in Ca = $8.00
  • Old motorcycle being insulted by the price of gas these days = Refuses to shift to neutral.
  • Sitting on your ratty motorcycle trying to shift for more than 2 minutes = Looks of concern from passersby.
  • Riding in "crisp" weather with no jacket, and wind on your face = Aching limbs from uncontrollable shivering. 
  • Riding in "crisp" weather with no gloves = Temporary onset of arthritis in hands (limiting ability to operate clutch and brake).
  • Distress from above mentioned factors = 2nd missed turn and illegal u-turn due to growing desperation.
  • Owning a motorcycle instead of a 2nd car = Still glad we made that choice.

Riding a motorcycle makes me feel wild. It connects me to the recklessness I can feel in my chest.  The speed makes me feel like the wind is bearing down on me, fighting me back, but I'm pushing through. It feels like flying and I love it.

Thursday, 8 September 2011


Taken from the article How Stories Do Their Work On Us by Jonathan Rodgers found at The Rabbit Room (A site to incite the creative of mind).
"A virtuous life is a life of adventure—of facing challenges, standing firm, rescuing the powerless, righting wrongs. A good adventure story dramatizes that adventure and makes it seem like the sort of life that nobody would want to miss out on. It doesn’t just tell the reader what’s right; it helps the reader to want what’s right.
Real life doesn’t always feel like a great adventure. Sometimes doing the right thing is rather dull. Great adventure stories remind us that in the end, the choices we make every day are the stuff of greatness. The world is changed by people who choose to tell the truth, to show kindness, to be courageous."