The one about the UPS store – Reposted from November 30,2010

Humor is the best medicine for what ails you.

My son, Christian, asked me to send him a suit, dress shoes and some ties because he is attending a fraternity function on Friday night.  He’s not in the fraternity yet, but is being invited to this function as part of the rush process.  The whole rushing and pledging process seems a little barbaric to me, but then again, I don’t really understand all of this fraternity and sorority business.  I don’t know the difference between rushing and pledging and initiating.  It gives me a headache trying to make sense of it all.  We didn’t have fraternities and sororities when I was in college.  Now, it’s not like I went to school during the era when the temple mound builders roamed the earth.  I’m not that old.  Fraternities and sororities had been invented by the time I was a coed.  We just didn’t have them in…ahem…the Ivy League.

I’m always a little reluctant to mention I’m an Ivy Leaguer.  You see when I disclose the fact that I attended Yale, it seems every Tom, Dick, and Harry I’ve ever met thinks it’s hilariously funny to make a big deal whenever I do something stupid.  It never fails.   I make some awful blunder and there is always someone  lurking around the corner just waiting to ask me sarcastically, ‘Where was it you went to college again?”  Even the tiniest of gaffes arouses the comic in the nicest of people, “So you must have been a REALLY good athlete, eh?”  Chortle, chortle, chortle.  Let’s all get a good laugh at the expense of the nerdy girl.  Stuff like that really irks me.  Sheesh.  And by the way, I’m not even that smart.  Seriously, I’m pretty sure if I were applying to Yale today, I would not be wait-listed, let alone get in.

Where was I?  That’s right.  Christian called to ask me to send him a suit, dress shoes, and a few ties for this formal fraternity function to which he was invited.  Call me dependable because within 30 minutes of Christian’s phone call, I had rifled through his closet, pulled everything together and was heading for the UPS store.  I walked in the door and took note that there was one person in line ahead of me who seemed to be shipping several packages.  Getting a jump on Christmas, I’ll bet.  My mind wandered a bit as I waited for my turn, and in the meantime several other people came into the store and fell in line behind me.

“Who’s next?” the clerk queried to the group of us.  Even though, I might add, it was obvious that I was the next customer in line.

“I am,” I said raising my hand.

“How can I help you?”

“I’d like to ship a package by UPS ground to my son at his college address.”

“Have you shipped with us before?”

Let me take a minute to tell you that his question always baffles me.  I have been shipping with this particular UPS store, run by this same guy for five years.  In that time I have sent birthday and Christmas presents to our family in Virginia and since Christian went away to school last year, I have been a patron at least once, if not twice, a month.  I felt like screaming at this guy.  LOOK AT ME YOU IDIOT!  DON’T PRETEND YOU DON’T RECOGNIZE ME!

“Yes, I’m in the computer,” is what I replied instead.  Then, without waiting to be asked for it, since I know the drill, I gave him my home phone number and name in order for him to access my account information in his database.

“Okay.  I’m guessing you want to send this to Christian in South Carolina?”  See, I knew he recognized me.

“Yes, but I need to buy a box.”

“Okay.  Just step to the side here.”

I complied, thinking I would wait off to the side while he went to the back to grab me a box.  You are never going to believe this, but the clerk then looked to the person in line directly behind me and asked, “How can I help you?”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  I stood there watching in disbelief as he attended, one by one, to the next three people in line.

“Excuse me, “ I interrupted.  “I was here before all of these people.  Can you tell me why I am standing here waiting for you to go get me a box, and instead you’re serving all of these people first?”

“Please be patient ma’am.  I don’t want the line to get too long, and it’s going to take me a little while to finish up with you.  There’s no need to make all these people wait.”

“No, no, no.  See I’ve already been patient.  I patiently waited for you to finish with the gentleman in front of me who shipped several boxes to different addresses which took quite a bit of time.  Now it’s my turn to be waited on and it’s their turn,” pointing over my shoulder to the people behind me, “to be patient.  I’m sure they’ll understand because that’s how waiting in line works.  First come first serve.”  I turned and posed this question to the three remaining people in line, “Am I right?”   I got one bashful nod from the person immediately behind me, but the other two just glanced away uncomfortably pretending not to hear me. DOESN”T ANYONE HAVE MANNERS ANYMORE?

“Fine.” He stormed to the back of the store to get me a box.

He came back and motioned for me to hand the suit, shoes, and the rest of what would soon be the contents of the package over the counter to him.  I watched him as he began to pack the box.

“Excuse me.  I see you’re putting the suit in first, but could you please put the shoebox and the smaller bag with the neckties in first, and then lay the suit on top?  Oh and don’t forget the note there and that little bag of beef jerky.”

”It’s better if I put the suit in first and the other stuff on top.  It fits better.”

“I know.  I can see that, but I’d like you to put everything into the box in the order I described so that when my son opens the box, he’ll be able to take the suit out first and hang it in his closet and then take out the shoes and ties.  That will make it easier for him to put everything away.”  The clerk stared incredulously, blinking every few seconds.  With the look that was plastered on his face, I have to say I was thankful he didn’t know I graduated from Yale because he’d have probably made some sarcastic remark like, “And where did you say you went to college?”  Instead he just shook his head and said, “Okay.”

HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED

It happened.  It finally happened, not in the way I had hoped.  Just the same, it happened.  My column caught the eye of a big-wig.  Okay, so it wasn’t Mr. ABC Television Executive, but it was a senior executive in charge of blah, blah, blah who was offended by yesterday’s column, Don’t Forget To Flush and Wash Your Hands. You remember yesterday’s column, the one about toilet paper?  Well, as it turns out, this senior executive, let’s call him HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED, happens to be employed by COMPANY X, the makers of the toilet paper BRAND THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED that I featured in my musings yesterday.  You know, the new and improved BRAND THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED that somehow simultaneously gets your bottom clean and keeps your hands free from the typical spectrum of contaminants associated with wiping oneself.  As luck would have it, his wife, we’ll call her MRS.  HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED, is a loyal Just Another Ordinary Day follower  (by the way, thanks, keep reading and no hard feelings).  MRS. HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED forwarded Don’t Forget To Flush and Wash Your Hands to her husband, HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED, which in turn prompted him to email me.  I offered to print his email in the comments section.  Since I have not received his permission, I’ll simply include my reply.  It’s only one side of the interaction, but you’ll get the picture.  I’ve made a few editorial changes to my original reply, but only to protect the privacy of HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED and COMPANY X. Otherwise the content and message is essentially the same.  Here it is.

Dear HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED,

Thanks for your email. WIth the exception profanity, I do not censor comments left by readers, so with your permission, I would be happy to represent your sentiments in the comment section of my blog page.  With all due respect, the television ad at issue really did strike me as funny.  I actually laughed out loud.  The act of wiping oneself with toilet paper is contaminating in and of itself.  The implication that any measure of toilet paper strength helps to keep one’s hands clean seems ludicrous to me.  While I am flattered by the thought of it, I hardly think the musings of an ordinary housewife viewed by less than 100 or so people a day is going to cause the price of COMPANY X stock to plummet.  Likewise, I doubt my 610 word essay is going to have an impact that will cost any of the 45,0000 people employed worldwide by COMPANY X their jobs.  If my investigatory skills served me well this evening, your title at COMPANY X is Senior Vice President - BLAH BLAH.  I can’t help but wonder.  Are you suggesting that I libeled COMPANY X by making my opinions public in the manner in which I did, or are you simply offended by my insensitive comments?  I admire and respect the pride you take in your company and your loyalty to your fellow COMPANY X employees. Please let me know if there is something you would like me to do.  I’ll admit I was not thinking of the people behind the toilet paper when I wrote this piece and I certainly am willing to consider making editorial changes if you have some reasonable suggestions.  On a side note, one of the things that I strive to do in my pieces is to point out the humor in the mundane things that happen in the course of ordinary every day life.  With that being said, I would bet I’m not the only person to be struck by the irony of the new and improved BRAND THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED ad campaign.  It’s just funny, but maybe that’s what you were shooting for.  Thanks again for your feedback.

So there you have it.  You might say HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED handed me a good old-fashioned slap on the wrist.  I admit, it was insensitive of me not to think about the 45000 people behind (yes, pun is intended) the toilet paper and the impact my comments might have on their livelihoods.  What is left for me to say?  I am sorry?   I always say actions speak louder than words so after hitting the send button on the above email reply, I  promptly tucked my tail between my legs and skulked off to edit and repost a new, kinder, gentler version of Don’t Forget To Flush and Wash Your Hands.  I replaced the actual product brand name with the BRAND THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED throughout the entire story, did some secondary tweaking, and you know what?  I like the new version better!  So, HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED, it seems I owe you a debt of gratitude!  Perhaps you might consider emailing a similar reprimand to your ad men.  Who knows, you just might ignite a similar creative spark in them too.

Yes, indeed it happened.  Just Another Ordinary Day caught the eye of a big-wig.  Okay, so it didn’t happen exactly as I’d hoped it would, but still it happened.  Maybe next time around I’ll discover I’m separated by six degrees from Mr. ABC Television Executive and maybe this ordinary woman will get her chance to dance among the stars after all.  It could happen.

Till tomorrow… Good night.  Sleep tight.


Don’t Forget To Flush and Wash Your Hands

I was settling down to watch a sappy Lifetime movie when a commercial aired for a new and improved toilet paper, the brand of which must not be named.  This particular BRAND THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED used to be my brand of choice, but not anymore.  Apparently softness and thickness are no longer the most important features of toilet paper because the makers of THE BRAND THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED have discovered a way to make toilet paper even better than it was before.  That’s right, bionic toilet paper.  THE BRAND THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED is now so strong, it effectively protects users from the problems associated with toilet paper “break-through.”  The idea of toilet paper break through is flat-out disgusting, I’ll give you that much.  But honestly, is toilet paper “break-through” a common enough problem to warrant being addressed by specially engineered toilet paper?  Is toilet paper break through causing wide-spread panic?  As far as I can remember, I’ve never had a break through, at least not one serious enough to make me think, “Hmmm.  I sure do wish somebody would develop a toilet paper that would quit breaking through when I wipe.”  As a matter of fact, in all the years that I have been buying toilet paper, I never have considered protection against break through in choosing a brand.  Softness?  Yes, comfort is a big factor.  Thickness?  Of course, the thicker the paper the better the value.  Protection against break through?  Never.  Me thinks the makers of THE BRAND THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED are grasping at straws, or more likely at the heels of their competitors.

I would quote the slogan for this new and improved BRAND THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED of toilet paper, but I can’t.  I can’t quote it word for word because someone might guess the actual name of the BRAND THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED and that might hurt someone’s feelings.  You know me — If you can’t say something nice, blah, blah, blah.  I really intended that precept for people…not for toilet paper.  Anyway, I’m not going to quote the slogan.  I am going to tell you the ad campaign for this new and improved toilet paper from the makers of the BRAND THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED hinges on the idea that this paper is so effective that wiping with it not only gets you clean in all the important places, but it also helps to keep your hands free from contaminants.  ARE YOU KIDDING?  I imagine the ad men envisioned their campaign would incite consumers to rush out en masse to buy new and improved toilet paper from the makers of the BRNAD THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED.  Did they really think we’d all be bouncing up and down, clapping our hands and exclaiming, “Wow!  I’m psyched!  I don’t have to wash my hands after using the toilet because my new toilet paper gets me clean and keeps my hands clean!”  Frankly, it’s insulting.  That act of wiping oneself is contaminating in and of itself.  Therein lies the irony.  The makers of the BRAND THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED have not stumbled upon some scientific break through.  Do not get excited.  They have not discovered the formula for some miracle toilet paper that is so strong and effective it eliminates the need to WASH YOUR HANDS AFTER YOU USE THE TOILET!  Listen: you will always need to wash your hands after you use the toilet.  Yes, even if you “didn’t touch anything,”  you need to wash your hands, so don’t argue with me. (Sorry.)  And speaking of arguments against washing your hands after you use the toilet, if anything, this marketing and ad campaign is going to backfire.  Do you want to know why?  BECAUSE GETTING KIDS TO WASH THEIR HANDS AFTER USING THE TOILET IS ALREADY A BATTLE.  The last thing I’m going to do is buy toilet paper that claims to simultaneously get your bottom clean and keep your hands clean in the process.  I might as well say, “Hey kids!  Great news!  I just bought this new and improved BRAND THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED of toilet paper, so now you don’t have to wash your hands after you go to the toilet!  You win!”  I might as well hoist up the white flag and surrender on all fronts,” Hey kids, since you’re not washing your hands, you might as well forget about flushing.  Go ahead and pick your nose too, and while you’re at it chew with your mouth open if it makes you happy!”  The BRAND THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED used to be my brand of choice, but not anymore.  Give me some good old-fashioned please don’t squeeze the you-know-what.  And don’t forget to flush and wash your hands.

 

Interesting facts on the history of toilet paper.

( The following facts are pasted from  http://nobodys-perfect.com/vtpm/exhibithall/informational/tphistory.html)

1886 Albany Perforated Wrapping (A.P.W.) Paper Company ad for perforated, medicated, rolled toilet paper
  • What did people use before toilet paper? Well, just use your imagination: grass, leaves, fur, mussell shells, corncobs, stinging nettles… okay, maybe not that last, at least not more than once. The ancient Greeks used stones and pieces of clay; ancient Romans used sponges on the ends of sticks, kept in jugs filled with salty water. Mideasterners commonly used the left hand, which is supposedly still considered unclean in the Arabian region.
  • “Official” toilet paper – that is, paper which was produced specifically for the purpose – dates back at least to the late 14th Century, when Chinese emperors ordered it in 2-foot x 3-foot sheets.
  • Corncobs and pages torn from newspapers and magazines were commonly used in the early American West. The Sears catalogue was well-known in this context, and even produced such humorous spinoffs as the “Rears and Sorebutt” catalogue. The Farmer’s Almanac had a hole in it so it could be hung on a hook and the pages torn off easily.
  • Joseph C. Gayetty of New York started producing the first packaged toilet paper in the U.S. in 1857. It consisted of pre-moistened flat sheets medicated with aloe and was named “Gayetty’s Medicated Paper”. Gayetty’s name was printed on every sheet.
  • Rolled and perforated toilet paper as we’re familiar with today was invented around 1880. Various sources attribute it to the Albany Perforated Wrapping (A.P.W.) Paper Company in 1877, and to the Scott Paper company in 1879 or 1890. On a side note, the Scott Company was too embarrassed to put their name on their product, as the concept of toilet paper was a sensitive subject at the time, so they customized it for their customers… hence the Waldorf Hotel became a big name in toilet paper.
  • In 1935, Northern Tissue advertised “splinter-free” toilet paper. Yep, you read that right; early paper production techniques sometimes left splinters embedded in the paper. And you thought you had it tough!
  • In 1942, St. Andrew’s Paper Mill in Great Britain introduced two-ply toilet paper
  • America experienced its first toilet paper shortage in 1973.
  • The Virtual Toilet Paper Museum opened its virtual doors in 1999.

Till tomorrow…Good night.  Sleep tight.

What Happens Between the Sheets, Stays Between the Sheets

I have a secret, but before I launch into telling you what it is, let me say a few things.  First off there is something inherently funny about passing gas.  I have said this before and I’ll say it again.  Insert the sound of someone passing gas into just about any situation and BAM!  You’ve got instant comic relief.  The perpetrator doesn’t even need to be a person.  The other day I was sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper.  I was scanning the obituaries, which is by no means a funny section, when from beneath the table came that unmistakable combination squeaking-hissing sound.  It struck me so funny that I laughed out loud.  It was of course, Pudge passing gas.  Yes, even the best dog in the whole entire universe passes gas, which is a perfect segue into the next point I would like to make.  Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY,  passes gas.  Whether your preference is to pass gas, break wind, poot, toot, fart, cut the cheese, let ‘er rip, or whatever you like to call it, it’s all the same.   Shakespeare said it best, “What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose.  By any other name would smell as sweet.” Yes indeed, that which we call a fart.  By any other name would still stink.  Everybody farts and everybody’s farts stink.  By the way, you are not above farting so don’t try to pretend you are.  There is not a creature alive on this earth who is too sophisticated or refined to fart.  If you eat, you poop; and if you poop, you fart.  Period.  And another thing, don’t go around acting all high and mighty like your farts don’t stink, because they do.  As previously established, farts stink, and yours are no exception.  So stop acting all disgusted and just admit it.  Farts are funny.  They smell.  Everybody farts.

Now, having gotten all of that off my chest, I’d like to tell you a secret.  I like to pass gas between the sheets.  My husband and I just celebrated 25 years of wedded bliss and while he surely will disagree, I am here to proclaim that my passing gas between the sheets has been the key to our happy and successful marriage.  I have heard it said that the happiest couples are those who laugh together.  Passing gas makes me laugh and there is nothing in this world that makes me laugh harder than slipping into bed beside my husband and passing gas between the sheets.  You see, it’s Pat’s pet peeve and he tries his best to prohibit it from happening in our home.  The idea of people passing gas between the sheets bothers him so much that if it were up to him, it would be against the law.

There’s more.  Pat has this bizarre theory that by passing gas in bed,  all of the fart molecules become trapped under the covers and it is difficult for them to escape.  No, we do not sleep under plastic and our bed linens are not impervious, but according to Pat, when fart molecules are confined under the covers they “cling” to objects that share their confines thereby creating fart “smell stains” on said objects.  Pat claims that by passing gas and trapping it between the sheets, our bedding and worse, anything or anyone under the covers falls prey to being completely shrouded in fart smell stains.  Pat believes that if I pass gas between the sheets, his body will be stained with a lingering fart smell throughout the following day.  In other words, he will smell like a fart.  Apparently no amount of showering can rid a person of a fart smell stain either.  It just has to wear off on its own.

I absolutely am not kidding about this.  I am of the opinion that Pat’s entire line of thinking is ludicrous.  I certainly am NOT one of THOSE people who believes her farts don’t stink, but smell stains?  Please. When I attempt to point out the ridiculousness of his theory, Pat trumps me with medical science, as if his being a doctor gives him more credibility on matters of bodily function.  Okay, so maybe it does, but seriously, am I the only one who thinks that what happens between the sheets, stays between the sheets?  Anyway, there’s no winning this argument for me.  For one thing, the only time the topic ever comes up is pursuant to my passing gas when we’re in bed.  This means I’m already a little silly, which also means it is difficult for me to think rationally enough to come up with a good rebuttal.  To make matters worse, Pat’s reaction to my passing gas between the sheets is something I find hysterically funny.  He grabs hold of the bed covers and rips them off of me shouting, “You broke the rule!  Five minute penalty for farting under the covers!”  This makes me laugh harder which makes me fart again which makes me laugh even harder, and so on.  It turns into an uncontrolable, self-propagating fart-laugh-fart-laugh cycle.  This type of thing is contagious and as you can imagine, Pat eventually starts laughing too.  Please do not be mistaken.  This is not because he thinks passing gas between the sheets is funny.  No, no, it’s because he realizes that he is married to a lunatic.  No matter how it comes to pass, a family that laughs together stays together.  Hence, my passing gas between the sheets has been the key to our happy and successful marriage.

The most amazing thing is that even when I take the furtive approach and try to sneak a silent one past him, Pat can sniff out an infraction.  He is on constant fart patrol and can rouse himself from the depths of sleep just to rip the covers off of me and impose this five-minute penalty of his (which is really more about getting the sheets pulled back so fart molecules don’t cling to him than it is about punishing me).  It’s a phenomenon, this uncanny ability he has to know always, and I mean ALWAYS, when I have passed gas between the sheets.  I call it Night Fart Radar.  Anyway, the uncontrolable, self-propagating fart-laugh cycle never fails to render me completely helpless.  It is no wonder I can never argue.  So, I resign myself to enduring a lifetime of Pat’s five-minute-fart-penalties because I am guaranteed to break his no-farting-under-the-covers-rule every single night until death do us part.  You’d think I would  have surrendered by now and stopped passing gas between the sheets, but I can’t.  I just can’t because somewhere deep in my soul lives the hope that one of these days, I just might slip one by him.  As far as I’m concerned, what happens between the sheets, stays between the sheets.

Till tomorrow…  Good night.  Sleep tight.

No Peeking Allowed

I can’t spend as much time on blogging today as I’d like because I am up against a firm gift wrapping deadline.  For one thing, I am working to beat the holiday shipping rush.  I have to wrap gifts for family in Virginia with enough time to pack them in the neat and orderly manner that annoys the guy at the UPS store.  Yes, in case you are wondering, I will be patronizing my favorite UPS store run by the guy who asks me without fail, “Have you shipped with us before?”  Goodness, it drives me crazy.  I AM A REGULAR CUSTOMER. (Deep breath).  Maybe I’ll play along with the whole charade this time.  Maybe I’ll act like I’ve never been there and ask all sorts of questions before I disclose that yes, indeed, I am in his computer.  We’ll see how Mr. UPS Store Guy likes a taste of his own medicine.

Anyway the most pressing reason I have for completing my gift wrapping today is because Jared will take his last final exam at nine o’clock this morning.  This means Christmas break in the Datoc household officially starts at 11 o’clock.  HURRAY!  What does this have to do with gift wrapping, you wonder.  Let me tell you.  The minute Jared crosses the threshold of our home, the following words will pop into his head.  LET THE SNOOPING BEGIN!  He will immediately run upstairs to wake his brother, who incidentally has been sleeping since he got home from college on Wednesday evening.  Together they will begin creeping around the house, snooping for Christmas gifts.  This is a time-honored tradition in the Datoc home, having been passed down from my side of the family.  I’m pretty sure my mom was (and may still be) a snooper.  I am a snooper.  Both of my kids are snoopers.  I am fine with the snooping.  In fact I’m better than fine.  I like the idea of Christian and Jared sneaking around the house, snooping in closets, corners, behind the furniture, in the attic, in the basement, and pretending they are not.  It’s a bit of a game, and just thinking about it makes me giggle.  Pat and I will pretend we don’t know the kids are snooping and they will pretend they don’t know that we’re pretending that we don’t know.  You know the drill.  I’m not sure if Pat knows I’m still a snooper.  He actually may believe that at my age I have outgrown this sort of thing.  I am here to tell you I have not.  I still snoop, but I NEVER, EVER peek.  Peeking is worse than having bad manners.  Peeking is mean-spirited.  In fact, peeking is stealing.  That’s right…stealing.    Frankly, I think there needs to be a nationwide, no make that a worldwide, prohibition on peeking.  Legal or not, hear me when I say this.  Under no circumstances is peeking ever allowed in the Datoc home.  Peeking will not be tolerated.

Contrary to popular beliefs, Christmas snooping and Christmas peeking are NOT one in the same.  Christmas snooping involves only the search.  Finding the stash puts an end to the snooping.  It is at this point that the snooper realizes there will be a gift waiting for him under the tree on Christmas morning.  He may be tempted to peek, but he will not.  He does not remove the wrapping paper, open the box, examine or even steal the tiniest peek at the package contents.  Christmas peeking deprives the bestower of a very precious gift;  the gift of seeing the recipient’s face as he rips off the wrapping from the package and beholds its contents for the very first time.  Remember there is only ever one very first time for anything.  I tell you, Christmas peeking is stealing.  It is tantamount to stealing an actual physical Christmas gift before it ever  has been given because for some people experiencing the excitement and joy expressed in the surprised looks on their children’s faces is the best Christmas gift of all.  I’m just saying that’s how it is for some people.

Peeking is not allowed in this family.  NO PEEKING ALLOWED!  I won’t have it.  It’s mean-spirited and on top of that  it’s flat-out stealing.  We are not a bunch of thieves.  We Datocs may snoop, but we NEVER, EVER peek.  We weren’t raised that way.   Now you’ll have to excuse me.  It is eight o’clock.  Jared just left for school which means I have exactly two hours and thirty minutes to complete my gift wrapping.  Wish me luck.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a… Good Night.  Sleep Tight.