The Story So Far…

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Hopefully by now you’ve had the chance to read the previous story:

When A Good Internship Goes Bad

Or, if you’ve found that you just weren’t up to the task of taking in all those crazy details, allow me to summarize:

In a nutshell, I wrote some articles for a bridal beauty magazine…a magazine that proceeded to fall apart shortly after the articles were written. There was a huge blow up between the Editor in Chief/Founder and the Art Director. To make a long story short, the Art Director bought the magazine out from underneath the Editor in Chief because, for whatever reason, she had not fulfilled the registration and licensing requirements that go along with starting up a new business. The Editor in Chief was hot. She accused not only the Art Director of Stealing, but also anyone from the original magazine team that decided to remain with the Art Director and work for her.

Anyway, it was a bad situation. I think that they’re still embroiled in a bitter battle even now, months after the fact. No one is even working under the original magazine anymore, either. After all of the bad blood between the two, neither one of them wanted anything further to do with it. They parted ways and began separate magazine ventures, and so on and so forth.

Both parties involved had asked me to come and work for them. I stepped away from the whole mess and don’t work for either magazine. The drama just wasn’t worth it.

So, needless to say, my articles were never used.

I had told the EIC of the original magazine that she could still use my articles for her newest venture. She never said that she would or wouldn’t, and after a bunch of accusations and whatnot aimed in my direction, she  removed me from her Facebook contacts and did not speak to me again.  Pretty good indicator that my articles would not, in fact, be used.

So, I tried to give them over to my best friend to use. My best friend that now works for…the art director. Or, as far as the EIC is concerned, “the opposition.”

I just didn’t want to see my articles sit and rot. I put a lot of time and effort into writing them. As soon as the EIC saw one of my articles go up on the opposition’s website, however, she contacted me for the first time in months, hurling more accusations at me and rekindling the flames of drama fire that I assumed had died out. I then asked my friend to just take the article down.  Back to square one. My articles were sitting and rotting once again.

Then I got to thinking. They are my articles. I wrote them…and I do have my own blog that I write for almost daily. So why don’t I just share my articles myself? No muss no fuss.

So I set up a little side blog…kind of a tributary off the main river, to do just that. The reason being is that I kind of thought ‘My OCD Diaries’ would be a strange place to find articles written for a bridal magazine and blog. I’d rather keep to the basics here and save this site for my random ramblings and musings.

At any rate, you can now find my articles here:

The Little Articles That Could (But Didn’t)

There aren’t many of them, and I will not be writing more. What you see is what you get, so I hope that you enjoy them!

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When A Good Internship Goes Bad

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I’m not here to lay the following information out for you in an effort to make a bad circumstance even worse. No, on the contrary, I’m writing this post with the hopes of generating some unbiased feedback in regards to my role in an uncomfortable situation.

I will do my absolute best to only give facts as I explain the whole ordeal. I’ve already been accused of gossip, slander, lying, backstabbing, and a whole list of unsavory transgressions.  I don’t wish to supply ammunition for further accusations.

As I have explained in several other posts, I recently did a short (6 months) stint as Media Director and contributing writer for a newly launching magazine. It was an internship; therefore I was not paid for my services during my time with the company. I enjoyed the job, however, and would still be a part of this venture today had things not gone so terribly awry. I had even signed a non-compete, non-disclosure contract.

I got the gig via a friend of my husband. He had been friends with her and her family before we had ever even met and married. So, he had known this woman for many years, even watched her mature from her early teens into the budding young entrepreneurial woman that I had agreed to work for.  As you can see, there was clearly history there. She was the one launching this magazine, and took on many roles as Editor in Chief/Owner/Founder. I shall just call her Boss Lady, for that’s what she was; my boss, and a lady.

Immediately after she agreed to grant me this internship, I eagerly dove into the job. My hard work didn’t go unnoticed, either. My insane organizational skills and work ethic lent considerable resourcefulness to the job. I hope that I don’t sound egotistical when I say that I quickly became an integral part of the team. She had told me on several occasions that, once my time of trial was up, I would definitely be hired on as a full time employee.

Boss Lady made mention of the fact that she was looking for a social media intern, so I had recommended my best friend (let’s call her Bestie) for the position. After asking Bestie if she wanted the position, she agreed, and I offered her number to Boss Lady. After a lengthy phone discussion, Boss Lady had decided to give her a chance with the company as well.

I also met several new people during my time there. One in particular, though, the boisterous and humorous art director, whom I shall just call ‘AD’, befriended me right from the start and we quickly fell into an easy and comfortable rapport.  Even more so than with I, was the close relationship that was starting to emerge between AD and Bestie. They liked each other right from the start, and talked often.

All of us on the small start-up team had our roles, some of us even taking on additional tasks until we started generating income and could further expand the employee roster.  Everything was running as smoothly as could be expected, with the occasional kink here and there that needed to be worked out. All was good, and dreams were being made reality. Or so I thought.

Not long after the team returned from a company trip to New York (this trip did not include me), all hell broke loose.  AD was, unbeknownst to the rest of us at the time, unhappy with the way that the company was being run. Apparently some words were exchanged during the trip, but I was not there so what I have heard was said boils down to a matter of heresy.

The fact though, is that AD then did some digging to find that the company name had never been registered or licensed.  I don’t know why. I have heard several reasons, none from the source, though, so again, heresy.

AD, given her newfound information, then decided to buy the company out from underneath Boss Lady. She met with her after to lay it all out on the table, explain what she had done and why, and see if some sort of agreement could be reached. AD said that she had offered Boss Lady a 50/50 partnership, but again I was not there for that fateful meeting, so I could not claim this statement to be gospel truth.

Now let me just stop right there and say that once I had found out that I had been working for a company that technically didn’t legally exist, asking for product samples and sending emails with my name attached on behalf of the company, I wasn’t overly happy. I had put my neck on the line, as did the rest of the team. Had any of the companies that I had contacted and made requests of decided to look into the matter and discover the fact that we were non existant, I could have gotten into a whole mess of hot water.

Still, I didn’t agree with the move that AD had made. I feel that a discussion should have been had prior to this point. Had AD gone to the Boss Lady and said, “Look, I know the company isn’t legal, and we need to do something about this for the sake of those involved,” the entire catastrophe that followed could have possibly been avoided.

Boss Lady was understandably upset. She wanted no part of a partnership.

A blow up of epic proportions ensued, with a lot of mudslinging, threats of lawsuits, lawyers, police, texts, phone calls and just plain ugliness. Again that’s just one side of things. I was forwarded some of the texts, but I don’t have both sides of the story. I can say with utmost certainty, though, that both sides did not just walk away peacefully. I was there for one of the angry, confrontational meetings.

Both women went their separate ways to eventually start up opposing magazine ventures. I was asked to choose a side. I really liked AD, and I had listened to many of her ideas and thought she had good business sense and could make the venture work. There was history and friendship with Boss Lady, though, and things there were much more involved than just a simple job. Our kids are enrolled in her mother’s private school. My husband was friends with the family before my time, and I didn’t want to destroy that bond. No, working for AD wasn’t really an option for me.

Still, however, I struggled with joining Boss Lady’s team. She wasn’t always the best at communication during my time working for her, and the drama of the whole situation was just getting to be way too much. I felt like I was the rope in a crazy game of tug of war, and it was really stressing me out. I liked them both, and the battle wasn’t my own, so I couldn’t understand why Boss Lady thought that it would just be a no-brainer for me to walk away from AD altogether. It had to be all or nothing, though, and I figured that I would be met with anger and opposition from Boss Lady if she knew I hadn’t turned my back entirely on AD, so that made the whole ordeal that much harder on me.

I had a Bahamas cruise coming up in just a few short weeks, so I asked Boss Lady if we could discuss my decision whether or not to stay on after that time. We agreed to meet for coffee upon my return.

I had continued to struggle with a decision, until Bestie informed me (2 days before my cruise, no less) that she had decided to go to work for AD. I knew that this wouldn’t go over well with Boss Lady, but it was a business opportunity for Bestie, and it would be ridiculous for anyone to think that I had control over her actions and could tell her what to or what not to do. She was happy in her decision, and I was happy for her.

I then knew that the decision had been made for me. I would step away from the job entirely, because the conflict of interests that would be created by me working for Boss Lady while Bestie worked for AD just wouldn’t be good at all. If any information got leaked from one to the other, or if one of them came up with a similar idea to the other, all fingers would have pointed immediately in my direction. Thank you, but no thank you.

So as soon as I got back from the cruise and some much needed rest and relaxation, I called Boss Lady to break the news to her. I admitted to her that I had known about Bestie’s decision to work for AD since a couple of days before my cruise, I just didn’t want to deal with it until my return. Understandable, right? Since my idiot self admitted that fact, though, in the interest of full disclosure, I was accused of “withholding information” from Boss Lady. I wasn’t withholding any information. I was simply putting it off until a more feasible time.

Boss Lady wasn’t happy with Bestie, either, as I had predicted. Bestie was accused of “stealing” from Boss Lady, right along with AD. Stealing what, I don’t know. Ideas I suppose, even though Bestie didn’t walk away privy to any more ideas than she had entered with. Or perhaps AD and Bestie were being accused of stealing the company? Kind of hard to steal something that no one actually legally owned to begin with, I suppose. Either way, I was told that Bestie would then be investigated for stealing. The only crime that she’s guilty of committing is agreeing to work for the opposing team, and that’s only a crime committed against Boss Lady.

So I stepped away completely from both parties to the accusations from Boss Lady and family that I really hadn’t, and was in fact, working for AD. Now, the truth to that statement depends on how you look at things.  I, of course, still talk to Bestie. Bestie has admin rights to AD’s blog, and is often in charge of writing daily posts. Bestie will occasionally ask me, “Hey would you mind red-penning my post before I put it up?” I of course always agree. So, if that is, in fact working for AD, then well, I am guilty as charged.

A short while after my phone call to Boss lady letting her know that I would be stepping away from the job and why, she removed me from her friends list on Facebook. Reason being is that I had written another post pertaining to the seeking of vengeance, and she decided that it had just hit too close to home in the illustration that I had used in my post, and that I was gossiping about her.  That was it. Back turned, bridges burned. Apparently, what I had been trying to avoid by stepping away completely from both sides was not, in fact, avoidable at all.

I suppose I’m not entirely innocent in that, though. I had used an example of a story that I had heard from Bestie via AD, as an example to make a point regarding something I had learned about vengeance. Not to actually gossip, though. I never mentioned any names in that post.

I had not heard from Boss lady again after that.

Until today.

Now, during my time with the original magazine, I had written several articles, most of which never had the chance to be used. I did research and had time invested into each one. It’s safe to say that I even worked hard on these articles.

When I walked away from the job, I offered the articles to Boss Lady. Verbally. She never responded as to whether or not she would indeed use them. I figured that the removal of myself from her friends list and the accusations that followed were enough of a giveaway that she would not, in fact, want my articles.

One month went by. Then two, three, four, five. Five months now, and still, no articles of mine were used. I have some great articles that I poured hard work and time into sitting in a folder on my laptop virtually rotting. So, I told Bestie, when she was so swamped with work that she hadn’t had a chance to come up with a daily blog post yet, “Here. Take these articles. I hate to see them go to waste. Just please put your own name on them. I don’t want to be accused of associating with or working for AD.

So she did. One went up on the blog today.

That’s when the message from Boss Lady, who I had not heard from in months happened. The accusations and drama started up again. I asked Bestie to just remove the article, and I spent the rest of this afternoon stressed out.

So after all of this, the real question that I want to pose to anyone who will bother to read this is:

Was I in the wrong for not wanting to see my articles rot and offering them to Bestie to be used? Should I have let the articles rot anyway as to not further burn my bridges with Boss Lady and potentially even ruin my husband’s relationship with the family? I had said that I was not working for AD and wanted to remain true to my word, but these articles were written back when the original magazine existed. I have not written any new ones since the implosion of the company. If we really want to delve into the who’s and the why’s, the articles were written during the time of the original magazine, which AD has legal ownership of now, essentially giving her rights to them anyway.

I’d love some input on the matter. If I am clearly in the wrong, please let me know.

Happenings in the Hood: The Weave By The Pool

I saw this little gem lying next to the pool today at the property that my husband manages:

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It sure is a beauty, isn’t it?

Seriously though, this kind of junk doesn’t even surprise me anymore. This is mild compared to some of the things that I’ve found either spread around the 96 unit property, or left in vacant apartments  over the course of the 10 and a half years that my husband and I have been together.

We lived in the only 3 bedroom apartment on the property when we were first married. Back then, the neighborhood wasn’t as bad as it is now. In recent years, the place has not only become somewhat of an eyesore due to the way that many of the residents and the local class-ditching high school students treat it, but it’s also earned a bad enough reputation that pizza delivery drivers won’t come there after dark anymore.

Needless to say, I‘m very thankful for my condo in a decent neighborhood, but I still spend a lot of time at the property, doing odd jobs to earn some extra cash, and just generally helping out.

Maybe I missed my calling as a trash collector. I’m not the type of person that can just step over a piece of garbage and not feel guilty for not picking it up, so I’m always tossing stuff in the dumpster whenever I’m out and about.

In addition to picking up garbage and painting, my husband asks me do ‘trash outs’ from time to time. That’s when he has to evict someone, or they skip out on their rent leaving a bunch of stuff behind, and I properly dispose of it. I love doing trash outs. Not only is it easy money, but sometimes I find decent items that I can either keep or take to the thrift store that I run on the weekends. The last trash out that I did had brand new kitchen utensils, some still in the packages, and piles of jewelry and clothing with the tags still on them. They just left it all behind. In the one before that, I found several brand new, unopened bottles of laundry detergent and shampoo. Score! Three trash outs ago, we found Ray. Ray Darr. The world’s worst excuse for a pet rabbit. I’m really not all that convinced that he was a great find, even if my daughter seems to think so.

I once cleaned out an apartment that had a few hundred dollars’ worth of fantasy gaming collectibles, many of them still in their original packages. I also regularly find DVDs, video games, CDs, books, and tons of spare change. They’ll also leave behind furniture and small appliances. I’ve lost track of all of the TV sets, microwaves, coffee makers, sofas, beds, tables, and chairs that I’ve pulled out of vacant apartments.

More often than not, though, the places are just loaded with pure junk, and so disgusting that you look around and think, “How could anyone live like this?” Somehow they do, though, if you can really call it “living”. I’ve braced myself and grimaced through purging a great many apartments that are so devastating that it takes months for the nightmares to stop. Like the one I’m currently painting. The walls are literally dripping with nicotine residue, and it smells so strongly of cat urine, that I have to duck out to get a breath of fresh air every half hour or so.

Yeah. Most of these places look and smell pretty harsh by the time people move out of them, and the scenes I find in them are usually like something out of a horror film.

So, the weave by the pool inspired me. It inspired me to share with you, my adoring fans (all 2 of you and probably less after you read what’s to come), a list of several of the most disgusting and/or strange things that I’ve found either lying around the property, or in vacant apartments. I advise reading this list on an empty stomach for your own personal safety.  Enjoy!

Stuff found around the property:

Weave by the pool. More than once.

Weave wrapped around a bush.

Weave stuck to some bubble gum, which I then proceeded to step in.

Weave stuck to the bottom of my shoe.

A dirty T-shirt by the pool.

A dirty T-shirt in the pool.

A dirty diaper by the pool.

A dirty diaper in the pool.

Human feces in the pool. Even the attack scenes from Jaws are slightly less terrifying than seeing poop bob around in the pool.

Vomit in the pool. The culprit probably spotted the poop.

Used condoms in the pool. Boy. It would seem the poor pool takes some serious abuse, wouldn’t it?

Enough used condoms everywhere to recycle into a bouncy house. Wouldn’t that be a great rental for little Jimmy’s next birthday party? Hey kids, let’s go jump around in Casa De La Trojan…

A bunch of used condoms were found around the laundry room, too. I don’t even want to think about why

A used condom tied around a tree branch. Uh oh, they’re getting creative now…

A used condom with bubble gum in it. Again, let’s not dwell on the why

A litter of kittens behind a bush.

A litter of kittens behind an air conditioning unit.

A litter of kittens under a propane tank. Okay. Someone…anyone…please for the love of humanity…neuter these stinkin’ cats!

Garbage bags and dirty diapers next to the dumpster that no one could actually bother to throw in the dumpster.

And the find of the week: A gooey sales receipt from McDonald’s with a false eyelash stuck to it. Yeah. I dare you to figure that one out.

Stuff found in vacant apartments:

Weave stuck to windows.

Weave stuck to countertops.

Weave stuck to walls.

Weave stuck to tape stuck to walls.

Animal hair stuck to walls.

Animal feces stuck to a dirty mattress.

Animal feces in an ash tray.

Animal feces crammed into a high heeled shoe. Just…never mind. I’m not touching that.

Animal feces in a freezer. The how in this case might be just as unsavory as the why

Animal feces in a bathtub.

Human feces in a bathtub. Hey, when you’ve gotta go, why let a little thing called ‘acting civilized’ stop you?

Rotting cherries in a bathtub. That was really the pits.

Pubic hairs stuck to a bathroom ceiling. Yep. Throwing up a mental roadblock on that one.

Pubic hairs in the freezer. I can probably imagine how that one happened. Come on, people, use your air conditioners. Seriously.

A gushy black bag of what I could only guess were once potatoes. It dripped sludge when I picked it up and smelled worse than death. I had to step outside to recover from a raging case of the dry heaves. Well played, rotting food…well played.

A dirty diaper in a Ziploc bag with maggots all over it. And the dry heaves strike again.

A dirty diaper stuck to a framed picture of zebras with broken glass.

A small mountain of cigarette butts piled up in a corner of the bedroom.

A body-sized patch of greasy, grimy carpet around the bottom of a stripper pole.

A pot full of grease with dead roaches floating in it shoved inside an oven.

A shriveled up French fry stuck to the floor by a wad of gum.

Rotting broccoli inside an unplugged refrigerator.

Rotting ground beef inside an unplugged refrigerator. Burning said refrigerator to the ground wouldn’t have gotten that smell out.

My daughter cleaning rotting broccoli and rotting ground beef out of said refrigerator.

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An army of creepy, crawly things happily devouring a loaf of green fuzzy bread.

A fur-covered Christmas wreath fused to the kitchen wall by cooking grease. Just what I’ve always wanted! Who said Christmas comes just once a year?

And last but not least:

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WHAT IS THIS THING?!

It’s lying on the dining room floor in the apartment that I’m currently painting. I’ve been side-stepping when I get too close to it for fear that it might growl and lunge at my ankles.

I won’t be taking the time to find out for certain what it is due to the fact that it might take a deeper level of investigation than I’m willing to commit to. Like oh …poking it with a stick and potentially angering it, or…touching it. I believe that upon distant examination, though, I may have it narrowed down to one of 2 things.

It could be either a piece of candy coated in nicotine and rolled in cat hair, or one of these guys:

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Tribbles!!!

At any rate, somebody please call Scotty and get him to beam this thing out of here.

Tales From The Thrift Store: Full Moon Rising.

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When we last left our heroine (not the drug, people, the Superhero Thrift Store Manager, otherwise known as me) it was a thousand and fifty degrees in the shade and yours truly had come the closest I’ve ever been to melting into a big, fleshy puddle on the ancient cracked tile. I think maybe I actually did melt a little; one leg seems to be slightly shorter than the other and my face feels somewhat…droopier.

Needless to say I’ve been finding ways to keep cool in the store now, like keeping the air conditioner running despite the fact that most of it escapes out the huge roll up door, or setting a box fan under the desk. Sometimes I’ll go back into the kitchen for a few minutes when there’s a break in customer traffic, and sprawl across the packages of frozen English muffins, Italian sausages, and lunch meat in the large chest freezer. Global warming, folks; a girls gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Not all days at the store are completely off the charts when it comes to the heat…or the level of crazy in the customers brought about by the heat.  This Friday happened to be rainy off and on, and the slightly cool rain and breeze that would roll in with it brought a welcome respite from the sweltering temperatures that I had suffered through the past few weekends. There was no relief from the insanity, though. There seemed to be an abundance of that.

Now, I never actually did any research into the matter, but I have it on pretty good authority that we can expect to see a full moon within the next day or so. Due to the fact that it wasn’t as hot as usual, I can only surmise that the promise of this lunar delight right around the corner is what led to one of those weekends…you know, the kind that leaves you sitting there wondering if the level of erratic behavior that you just witnessed really happened, or was it merely a figment of your imagination?

Let’s start out with a small level of nuttiness, such as my first customer of the day on Friday. Then we’ll work our way into the grand finale of madness as my Twilight Zone of a day wore on.

I sat at my desk in the corner as usual, laptop open in front of me, fervently typing up the next dose of whatever babbling drivel I deemed worthy of serving up to my adoring fans (yes, this means you, the ones basking in the glow of your ultraviolet monitor lights as you read the newest installment of my raving absurdity), when in walks a fairly normal looking woman of about 60. She pokes around a bit and comments on how clean and well organized the store is. I have OCD, silly, of course it’s clean and well organized. I omit this fact, though, and simply say, “Thank you. It keeps me busy.”

She suddenly spies my impeccably displayed rack of die cast collectibles, complete with sign above it explaining that they are, in fact, limited edition collector’s items and are priced accordingly, and sign on the front of the display that reads, “pricing available upon request.” There was some question on my part as to whether or not grams could actually read, though. She plops a mint condish 2001 limited edition #5 Terry Labonte Monsters Inc. car still in its unmarked, unbent original packing down on the desk in front of me, and proceeds to pull a couple of wadded up dollar bills out of her change purse.  I give her a quick raised eyebrow glance and say, “Alright, give me just a moment to pull up my pricing guide,” to which she replies, “Pricing guide?  Aren’t these a couple of bucks in Walmart?” Friends, Amazon lists this very car for $24.99. “Well you see, ma’am, this is a collector’s edition. It’s already 12 years old, and if kept in its original packaging, the value will keep increasing.”   “Oh I don’t care about all that,” she says “it’s just for my grandson to play with.” She plans to tear it open. Rip it right out of the pristinely preserved packaging… along with my heart. I die just a little on the inside. After a few more minutes of haggling, I wearily concede and let granny walk out the door with the deal of the day for 2 bucks.  Meh, I have another one in the stock closet anyway. I replace the doomed collectible and go back to my blogging.

An hour or so later, enter the stocky young gent with the fiery red “Flock of Seagulls” hairdo. You may think I’m exaggerating, but I found myself hoping that my jaw hadn’t visibly dropped when I saw it, it was that strikingly sculpted.  Had a unicorn walked by in front of me at that very same moment, I don’t think that it would have struck me as even half as amazing as this guy’s hair. He and his cohort, a thin, muscular, manly woman with closely cropped hair and glazed over eyes, start perusing the belt rack. From where I’m sitting at least 15 feet away, I can smell the reason for G.I Jane’s glassy eyed stare. I was getting a contact high just from their closeness in proximity. Seagull man selects a studded leather belt from among the 30 or so prominently displayed on the hooks in front of him, wraps it around his hand several times, points to the 10 or so inches on the end without studs, and says, “Now if we cut off this section here,” …he gives me a quick sideways glance… “It’ll be perfect for what we need.” Whoa there. Okay. I discreetly grab hold of my phone placed several inches away on the top of the desk , pull it closer, and load the numbers 9-1-1 up on the display screen…just in case.

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After a few more minutes of wandering around the store picking up and commenting on random items, they head to the desk to make their 50 cent belt purchase. Seagull man hands me a dollar, and waits for his change, as his partner in crime points to an old patch of dried up paint splatter on the floor and says, “Hey look, its Lady Gaga.” I give her a puzzled and slightly nervous look as Seagull man says, “Hey, yeah, wow. Look at that, that’s way cool.” He then looks at me and says, “Come here, you gotta see this.” Ummm…I do? Not in the least bit out of curiosity but for the sake of my own safety, I grip my phone just a little tighter, get up, and walk around the desk to see just what the daft duo is going on about. They point to the paint spot in unison and say, “See, look. It’s a flaming high heeled shoe just like Lady Gaga’s.” I’m completely lost. All I see is faded paint splatter, but I feign enthusiasm and exclaim, “Oh yeah! Look at that! I can’t believe I didn’t notice it before!” They both smile and nod, and after a few more moments of staring mesmerized at the paint spot and paying silent, reverent homage to the floor tile, they decide to make their departure. Phew. I relax a bit and go back to typing.

I could not make this stuff up, folks. I’m neither imaginative nor mentally unstable enough to think up madness of this magnitude on my own.

Sometime shortly after lunch, a woman and a girl of about 7 or 8 walk in, exchange pleasantries with me, and proceed toward the housewares section in the far back corner of the store. Fifteen minutes pass…then 20. They finally emerge with armloads of random dishes, plop them down on the desk, and smile as I proceed to ring up the pile of discount goodies.

We interrupt this purchase to issue a public service announcement.  Having OCD while managing a store comes with a nice mental rolodex feature, in which you’re able to store every little detail of all merchandise incoming and outgoing, what price you put on that merchandise, when it came in, where it came from, and even whether or not the price tag is in your own writing.    

We now return you to your regularly scheduled purchase…

As I start to add up the items, I immediately notice that something is off. Take the nice, unscratched Teflon pot with the glass lid for example. Just that morning I had priced that pot at 3 dollars. A little on the cheap side for the condition it was in, but hey, every dollar made is a dollar more than we had before. It now had a sticker on it for $1.25, a sticker that I recognized as being from a half missing set of Rubbermaid storage containers. I dig a little deeper and notice a few other gently peeled and reapplied price tags that were cheaper than the original prices on some other items, too. I have to admit, she did a good swapping job. No wonder she was back there so long.

I try to explain to her that these aren’t the right prices for some of the things that she’s handed me, to which she responds by pretending she doesn’t speak a word of English, even though she seemed to speak it pretty well when she greeted me as she came in. Crafty, this one. But even the most linguistically lacking folks when it comes to the English language know the word, ‘no’, and fortunately, I know enough words in Spanish to communicate on the level of a Kindergartener. So, I would point at a wrongly marked item, say something along the lines of, “No. Tres”, and shove it aside to ring up something that still sported the right price tag. She would respond with, “Oh” and then quietly say something to her daughter in Spanish. In the end, I was not willing to fall for her trick, and she seemed to want the items badly enough, so she pulled out her wallet and reluctantly paid the original prices for the items in question. Now, I’m more than willing to negotiate prices, if you just ask, but don’t try to play dirty pool with me. I don’t enjoy that game.

The cherry on top of my lunacy Sundae came about 20 minutes before closing time, when in walks a woman trailing 2 young offspring behind her. She heads straight for the desk, all the while stuffing handfuls of potato chips into her mouth from the Ruffles bag in her left hand, occasionally dropping one or 2 on the floor as she walks. Maybe she’s leaving a trail so she can find her way back out? I’m no psychic, but I sense a broom and dustpan in my future. She looks at me, sitting behind the desk all by my lonesome, without another person in sight, and says, “You the manager?” Oh boy. I’d better buckle my seatbelt.  This promises to be a bumpy ride.

Now, had my 11 year old son been at the store with me that day as he usually is, it might have crossed my mind to point at him and say, “No. He is.” No such luck today, however. I was flying solo on this trip. “Yes ma’am, what can I do for you?” I ask. She says, “Well, I’m fixin’ to have a yard sale this weekend and I was wondering if I could have it right outside your store in the parking lot.” I quickly stifled the urge to laugh out loud. I’ve been down this road before, and the idea was vetoed fairly quickly. If we open up that world of possibility to one person, we’d have to do it for everyone, and before you know it, our parking lot will have turned into a circus sideshow.  No. Thank you for the offer, but I think I’ll have to pass.

She didn’t appreciate hearing ‘no’ as an answer, though, and after the words, “I’m sorry ma’am, we can’t do that” came out of my mouth, a barrage of distasteful dialogue came out of hers. I was called a few choice names and told that I was stupid for not wanting to make the extra money that her extraordinary event would have brought into the store, before she finally gathered up her offspring and made a hasty retreat.

I ran my hand over my exhausted face and looked at the clock. It was 10 minutes before closing time. I closed anyway as a reward for surviving this deranged day…and to sweep the crushed potato chips up off the floor, too.

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Until next time, readers…stay sane.

Tales From The Thrift Store: Step Into The Sauna

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If you’ve been following the saga that is my life, you’ll remember my mention of the fact that I run a thrift store on the weekends out of the church I attend. As promised, I have come to regale you with tales of the awkwardness that comes with the job thanks to some slightly (okay… majorly) unhinged people. I call them my regulars. As my tall, practically glow-in-the-dark (because she’s just so white), ethnically challenged teenage daughter might say, “people be actin’ cray-cray.” That’s ghetto slang for, “pardon me, sir, but the local Homo sapiens seem to have become rather unpredictable in terms of their mental capacity and ability to soundly reason.”

Anyway, this thrift store happens to be in an unsavory area. Okay, in the interest of full disclosure…it’s in ‘the hood’. What qualifies as ‘the hood’ you ask? Well, it’s a place where you wouldn’t care to be after dark while carrying a wallet, if that helps at all.

It’s Saturday. I’ve been sitting here for 4 hours now. Four down, two to go. If I make it out alive, I want ice cream. Not to eat, just to roll around in like a wallowing pig. It’s hotter than Satan’s Spandex in here. The heat index today is probably not helping the instability level of the locals. I’m suddenly inspired by ‘The Little Engine That Could’. I think I can, I think I can…

Sue is here today. Sue was here yesterday, too. Sue is the homeless lady that I met last Sunday when she came to our church service and stayed for the potluck dinner. Sue picked a good Sunday to come to church. Every time there’s a 5th Sunday in a month, we all bring a dish to pass and converge upon the cafeteria like a pack of starving wolves as soon as the offering envelopes hit the collection plate. Hey, who doesn’t love a free home-cooked meal, right?

Somehow, out of the few dozen people that attended church that day, it was me that Sue talked into giving her a ride downtown to the homeless shelter afterward. Not a terrible or impossible request in theory, but I spent the entirety of my Sunday afternoon stuck in bumper to bumper  traffic moving either at a slow crawl or not at all thanks to the fender-bender on the interstate. I don’t blame Sue for this. I blame the maniacs that don’t know how to drive in this town.

This act of kindness seems to have earned me a new bi-polar best friend. At least, I think she’s bi-polar. I have a tendency to dabble in psychiatry as a hobby by diagnosing other people’s mental disorders. Needless to say, I can’t seem to follow along with Sue anymore; she’s all over the page. One minute I think she’s asleep, then the next she’s crying, and then the next she’s on the phone yelling at some random person on the other end of the line. From what I can make of the conversations, I think that it’s her mental health specialists that she keeps calling and yelling at. Should I be concerned? This is after she’s greeted each new customer Wal-Mart style and formerly introduced herself with her full given name and a hearty handshake. My last customer scooted out of here so fast that she created the first breeze I’ve felt all day.

Sue has settled herself onto one of the couches that I’m trying to sell, along with a book that I’m also trying to sell. I guess I can always tell the customers that it’s a “live demonstration”, right? She’s falling asleep and is starting to drool on the pleather. Please, Lord, not the pleather. I can see the value of the 10 dollar couch rapidly depreciating. Do drool and sweat stain?

She’ll sit here until closing time and then ask me to drive her somewhere. Yesterday it was Wal-mart. I don’t know exactly when my free chauffer service opened for business, but lately, business has been booming. Ah well … it’s my job to serve. I have the gas, I have the time, and I couldn’t very well say, “no, I have to get home” without knowing that it’s just an excuse. Excuse is a fancy deep fried and rolled in sugar term for big, fat, stinky LIE. I’ve heard it through the grapevine that God doesn’t like those.

I see a lot of homeless people in the store during the summer months. Mostly men. They usually slur their words and struggle to stay upright all the while smelling strongly of whatever cheap adult beverage they’ve spent the rest of their money on and most of the afternoon consuming. My nostrils continue to burn even after they’re gone. Apparently, there’s a flashing neon sign in the window that says “Drunken people welcome.”  I can’t see it, but they can, like the Emperor’s New Clothes. I give them a free can of food and a clean outfit when they come in. I guess one could argue that it’s my own fault for “feeding the strays”, but what can I say? As I believe I’ve already mentioned, it’s my job to serve. This isn’t without its rewards, though. There are a few people that come in that are in genuine need. It’s those people that make sitting here in this sauna all summer long worthwhile.

Sue isn’t the nuttiest person that I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing company with during a day at the thrift store. Not by a long shot.

I once had a mother and her young son come into the store. Now, understand that in the building that houses the store, there are 4 separate bathrooms. That’s four distinct opportunities to properly relieve one’s self, including 8 individual toilets. Mom of the year didn’t let that fact deter her, though. After ignoring the pleas to ‘potty’ from her tiny charge who had been systematically destroying the store one item at a time up until now, her young offspring of maybe 5 or 6 years of age proceeded to pull down his pants, and happily urinate on the floor in front of the toy rack.

At this point, as a mother myself, my face would have turned about 50 shades of red, I would have apologized profusely to the manager (hey, that’s me!)…and asked if I could help clean up the mess, all the while eyeing the door wishing I could slink away with whatever dignity I could still manage to muster.  Not ‘Ironmom’, though, with her nerves of steel. She proceeded to step over the puddle with disdain as if she was actually offended that I would allow it to remain there, and continued shopping. If I recall, she ended up spending 75 cents in the end. This didn’t even begin to cover the trauma inflicted upon my fragile psyche as I proceeded to clean up the ‘boy spill’ on aisle 3.

Trust me, all of this nonsense is completely true. The stuff that seems to happen to me on a regular basis is far wackier than anything I could ever make up.

I think the heat is finally starting to get to me. My pants are too tight. I should lose a few…several…50 some odd pounds. I have a heat rash that I can’t scratch. Not now, anyway, I have a customer.  Don’t ask me where it is. Sunlight doesn’t venture there; your mind shouldn’t, either.

There’s a deaf guy that comes in every weekend. Let’s call him Dave…he looks like a Dave. I like him. He grunts and points. I nod and smile. Then I think to myself, “Now this is a level of communication I can handle.” Dave bought a box of nails yesterday. This led me to wonder…if Dave hits his thumb with a hammer by accident when he’s pounding those nails, would he keep quiet or would he scream or perhaps shout some form of distorted expletive even though he wouldn’t be able to hear it?  That’s one of those ‘If a tree falls in the woods’ type of queries. The world may never know. Good old Dave. I wish him luck with his nails.

Husband number 2 breezes in from time to time and promptly disappears elsewhere in the building. Can’t say I blame him. Why should he sit here and bathe in his own sweat if he doesn’t have to? I can’t bother with the air conditioning when it’s just going to escape out the roll up garage door that serves as the shop entrance.  It’s probably 175 degrees give or take half a degree behind this desk. Of course, the Hubster does suffer from A.D.D. He wouldn’t be able to sit still anyway. I diagnosed him myself. Saved us a medical bill. I made this assessment based on the fact that he tends to…oh look, a squirrel.

Hallelujah…would you look at that. Closing time already and it only took a decade to get here. I might just wander down the street to Wal-mart and stick my smoldering head in with the frozen vegetables for a few minutes before I make the pilgrimage home.

Until next time, readers….stay cool.

Daily Prompt: Tables Turned

Are you as comfortable in front of a camera as behind one? Being written about, as well as writing?

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I recently found out the answer to this question. Well, the part where I ended up victim of a photo shoot that came out of nowhere and mowed me down like a speeding party bus, anyway.

Not too long ago, I worked a short stint (6-7 months) as the Media Director, Contributing Writer, Personal Assistant, Trained Circus Monkey…for a Bridal Beauty Magazine.

Part of my job entailed helping out at one of the Editorial Shoots. Okay, great. Sounds like fun. I can zip these tall, statuesque, mannequin-like women (you know, the kind that us cellulite-laden, housewifely, bon-bon eating, pushing 40 types envy and try to live vicariously though) into big, sparkly dresses. It’ll be like the Barbie dress up days of old…back before she had 5 kids and destroyed her dreams of becoming a world famous swimsuit model due to the complex system of stretch marks and extra flab that now runs across her stomach and thighs.

Okay, little off track there. Back to the story at hand.

The photo shoot went well. The models were stunning. It really was fun playing dress up with live Barbies, too. Five girls, 3 dresses per girl. One of the gorgeous models happened to be my tall, thin, beautiful, red haired daughter. (Yes, I’m boasting..because, well, I can.) She’s got a body and face that were made to model. I have to wonder if she’s really my child sometimes.

After we wrapped up for the day, our Editor In Chief had this brilliant plan to go back to the site of the shoot the next day and take high fashion photos of our team for the website…and the magazine. “Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ve got it all taken care of. Hair, make-up, glam dresses already picked out and ordered for the occasion, just be there and leave the rest to me.” Well now.  This promises to actually be…fun. I can’t remember the last time I felt pampered and…pretty.

So I show up at her house the next day to get my hair and make-up ‘did’ and try my dress on before we head off to the site. Someone failed to mention that I’d be squeezing my chunky caboose into a wide-necked, hideous, teal sequined number (I hate sequins) with no definitive waistline that made me look like 10 pounds of fertilizer stuffed in a 5 pound bag.

Strike one. I’m slightly less excited about the day’s prospects already.

It also could have been mentioned that I needed a strapless bra for this little adventure, as it was the only type that would work with this sequined sack of unsightly. For lack of a better idea, I was crammed into this borrowed corset bra with WAY more room up top than I could have even wished for. How much more room, you ask? Well, when my husband saw the picture, he exclaimed, “Holy Cow, Where did you get THOSE?!”

Strike 2. My discouragement grows.

I sit quietly in my freakish frock (its itchy, too) and await my turn for some serious hair and makeup attention. After all, this tragedy I’m wearing might not be so bad with some decent cosmetic care. So I wait. And I wait. Tick tock, tick tock. Time drags by while everyone else gets taken care of before the person that was actually FIRST to arrive that day. Namely…me. We’re losing daylight here. Can’t worry about finishing up now, gotta head to the site. “Don’t worry”, says our EIC and glam guru. I’ll pack up my make-up bag and finish you up when we get there.

Strike 3. If the game of beauty were played like baseball, someone would have been called out by now.

When we arrive at the site, she pulls down the tailgate of someone’s pick-up truck and has me plop down for “my turn to shine”. Alright, then, it’s about time. I should interject at this point that the only make up I usually wear is a little bit of eyeliner and occasionally some foundation. So, maybe my perception of how I thought I should look was already a bit skewed when my “face” happened. I ended up with this thickly slathered mask on my mug that I thought made me look like the Bride of Frankenstein. Or maybe the Bride of Bozo. Either way, a spider took one look at me and scurried off at warp speed.

Strike 4. The hair. There’s still the hair. I’m clinging to a slowly dying spark of faith that this could still turn out alright.

Tick tock…tick tock…still losing daylight. We have 45 minutes tops before sunset.  Oh yeah. You still need your hair done. Why yes, yes I do, thank you for noticing. What springs forth from my follicles over the course of the next rushed minute and a half, is a ratted up, hair-spray caked, poofy concoction that Peggy Bundy would have been proud of.

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Strike 5. That’s it. It’s gone. I’ve officially lost all hope. Please, for the love of humanity, just don’t get near my head with a lighter.

We take our places for picture time. The photographer encourages me to smile…BIGGER…with teeth. I give her a grin that flashes the enormous gap between my 2 front teeth in all its glory from having a molar pulled a couple years back thus making my teeth shift due to their new found space. Yeah. Never mind. Close your mouth. Can you at least tighten up your neck muscles enough to hide your double chin? Okay. That’ll have to do as is. Snap.

Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to slink away with the small amount of dignit…nope, nevermind. No dignity left. I just want to go home, have a hot shower, and try not to scare my family before I get a chance to wash off the day’s events.

To conclude this story, NO. Never again. I’ll stay on the business end of any photographic artistry from now on, thank you very much. Leave the modeling jobs to those who are better suited for it…the models.

As for writing, I’d personally prefer making the jokes at my own expense, and everyone else’s, of course, as opposed to reading what others may think of me. Then again, I don’t see how anyone could ever be harder on me than I already am. I happen to be my own worst critic. My own worst enemy at times, too.

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