Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Seizure Waiting To Happen

As I mentioned a post or two ago, teachers are already back at work here in HumidityLikeABrickWall. A lot of changes have taken place in my school since summer break. A lot of classes were shuffled around; we got a lot of new staff members; and a lot of maintenance was done on the grounds while we were away. We got some technological upgrades, and some building beautification projects were done.

One that went horribly, horribly wrong was the ladies' room near my new classroom. Before, the bathroom was your typical institutional bathroom: tile walls and floor, steel stall, gurgling toilet. It was painted in nondescript colors, and it was always slightly dusty-smelling. Like I said, your typical elementary school bathroom. By virtue of being an adults-only bathroom, it at least was not subjected to the constant pervasive smell of urine like the kids' toilets. Most adults have better aim. *Most* adults.

After lunch on Monday (and a 32oz. glass of lemonade), I developed a need to use the facilities and went down the hall. Upon entering the bathroom, however, the need to go suddenly evaporated. I was so shocked by the changes that all thoughts of evacuation left me. Some of us may go to the bathroom for a few minutes to calm down, or it may be the one chance during the day that we get to ourselves -- how can they *do* this to us?!

All I could think, with the paint job and the flickering fluorescent lighting, was: "This is a seizure waiting to happen." Either that, or someone watches *waaaay* too much Nickelodeon. I was horrified beyond the need to pee. And that's saying something.

I'm now scared to go to the bathroom. I guess I'll just have to hold it until I get home.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tales Of Asshattery

On Wednesday, I decided I needed a haircut before wild animals started nesting in the mess on top of my cranium. I headed to one of the local malls to the Hair Cuttery Place. When I arrived, there was a Cheerleader Type at the sign-in desk, paying her bill. To my right, there was Young Redneck checking out his haircut in the mirror. He finished scrutinizing the back of his head (with the aid of well-placed mirrors) and slouched up to the desk.

I should have known when he butted in front of me, invading my personal space, that he was TRULY a high class kind of guy. He began to badger the girl about why her paying was taking so long. Cheerleader Type is scrounging on the bottom of her handbag for coins to pay their bill as she grumbles about why the bill was so high. The stylist/desk clerk looks a mite pissed as all this unfolds.

The two grumble a bit, but eventually turn and walk out of the salon. When I step up to the desk to sign in, I notice that Cheerleader Type has left her straw purse on the counter. I tell the clerk, and she and I both call out to CT that she's left her bag, and she stomps back in to get it.

The other stylist is working VERY slowly on the person in front of her, peering out into the hall to watch the pair's departure. A scant minute after the duo leave, the Young Redneck marches back into the store and asks the stylist/desk clerk how he can go about getting a refund. Huh? The stylist/desk clerk tells YR that their corporate policy is not to give out cash refunds, and she hands him a business card. She tells him to call the number on the back -- their corporate office -- and they will tell him how to get his money back. He is not pleased with this news, and at this point, Cheerleader Type comes barrelling back into the store, demanding that the stylist/desk clerk open the cash drawer and give them their money back. When the s/dc repeats that they just don't do that, the CT huffs, "We'll just go get a security guard."

What good is a mall rent-a-cop going to do? Just imagine -- all that power, people! Anyway, they storm off, *again*, and the Slow Stylist finishes up with the client in her chair. A few minutes later, the Trailer Park Twins are back with a security guard in tow. They all stand in the salon entryway, and the TPT tell MallCop that they were not satisfied with Young Redneck's haircut, and that s/dc refused to give them a refund. At this point, s/dc leaves her client to come to the desk. The way she tells the story to the MallCop is quite different from the Trailer Park Twins' version.

Stylist/Desk Clerk explains that when the two came in, the YR requested "a $7 haircut." When the Slow Stylist explained that they did not *have* a $7 haircut, YR says that someone named "Jessica" always cuts his hair, and that she only charges him $7. Both stylists attempt to tell him that no one at their location is named Jessica, and sorry -- men's haircuts cost $13.95. He asks if maybe he could sweep the floor or something for a cut in the price. No go... $13.95. Slow Stylist starts to cut his hair, but he keeps complaining, and telling her she's not doing it right, so she asks the Stylist/Desk Clerk to take over. Apparently, YR is happy with neither stylist's efforts, and continues to complain.

The Cheerleader Type, who must be his girlfriend (since he keeps calling her "baby" and "babe") also gets a haircut, but she seems satisfied with hers. She goes to the desk to pay for both haircuts while YR checks himself out in the mirror and grouses. (This was when I arrived.) Cheerleader Type must not have had enough to pay for the bill, hence the dredging up of coins from every corner of that pocketbook.

MallCop says that the pair complains that the Stylist/Desk Clerk refused to help them or to refund a bad haircut. S/DC calmly explains to MallCop that it is their corporate policy that they not make refunds out of the till, that complaints have to be routed through the corporate office, who then decide if the situation warrants it. Nothing can be done until the manager gets notice from corporate to refund a customer. S/DC tells the MallCop that she gave the girl a card with the corporate phone number on it, and that complaints and requests for refunds have to be processed through the main headquarters, and not in individual salons.

YR struts around, crowing about how he's been coming to that particular salon for 12 years, and that he's never had such bad service. He tells MallCop that he's just not satisfied with his hair, and he wants it to be made right. Miss PerkyTits, on the other hand, complains that she wants to talk to the manager. S/DC tells her that the manager is not available because she's out on maternity leave. This does not please her, so she states that she's not leaving the store until she has her cash back in hand. S/DC calls the manager, and starts telling her the story. One fact that she relates that I was not present for was that the original total of their bill was $38.90, and that CT didn't have enough to pay that amount, so S/DC did them a favor by scanning in a 20% off coupon code. CT managed to scrape together this amount, and they paid and left. MallCop begins to understand that the Trailer Park Twins are pissed that the haircuts took every last red cent they had, and are now trying to recoup some of their money. Basically, they want something for nothing.

The two get more and more frazzled the longer they stand there, and at one point CT demands that both stylists refund them personally out of their tip money. That's when MallCop decides to give them the shuffle off to Buffalo. He tells them that they can either follow the steps outlined by S/DC, or they can file a complaint to go to small claims court. Yeah. They choose to leave. YR mutters something about going to get something to eat. My wonder was if they didn't have enough to pay the bill, where was money for a meal going to come from? The MallCop hangs around for a bit to make sure that they don't come back. Slow Stylist tells MallCop that she thinks YR was high. That would definitely explain the belligerence.

You know, I understand when you've not gotten what you paid for -- I've had a couple of haircuts that I was not altogether thrilled with -- but you just don't go to that salon anymore. You don't leave a tip, and you make future appointments elsewhere. These two were simply looking for something for nothing. The *only* thing in their favor was that they did not swear like hooligans at the stylists. Maybe they did learn something from their mothers after all.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to the Daily Grind

Today was the first day back at school for teachers here in HumidityLikeABrickWall. Can you hear the joy dripping from my fingertips as I write that?

I slept about two hours last night, fighting my yearly "night owl readjusts to work schedule" battle. I was a mite tired today, and finally asked Juggling Freak to oblige me with a 30-minute catnap before making dinner this evening.

I hate the end of summer vacation, though I will appreciate the raise that will come with the dawning of a new school year. There's a lot to be done in the week before students arrive... On tomorrow's to-do list: die cut pieces for my door display, find a small bookshelf for my storybooks, die cut buses for cubby tags, and go through the mounds of crap in my bottom desk drawer and get rid of a lot of it.

Thursday is Open House for Offspring. We'll be attending to get her bus assignment and bus arrival time. Until then, she's marking time on the couch with her laptop and her last few hours of freedom.

Now, if we could only get rid of the torrential rain, we'd be good.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Woe! Vacation Has Ended!

Offspring and I take a quick breather before riding the Maelstrom in Norway.

Juggling Freak meets his idol, Donald Duck. And, a Mexican Donald, at that!

We're back from Disney World, which was great as always, thanks for asking. We had a fairly successful onslaught against the teeming crowds -- the day we went to EPCOT was great. The weather was overcast and a bit windy, so it not only kept the crowds at bay, it also kept us from broiling like chickens. We started the day there with a ride on the newly refurb-ed Spaceship Earth, and then quickly on to Mission: Space and Soarin'. All rocked, I'm happy to report.

It was most crowded at Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios) because everyone was attempting to ride Toy Story's Midway Mania. We rode it twice, and it was very entertaining. Juggling Freak won the family point spread the first ride through, and I won it the second go-round. My prize for winning was a virtual stuffed beaver. There's a joke in there, somewhere, but I'll be genteel, and not make it.)

Magic Kingdom day was good -- had very little wait time at Buzz Lightyear, and we got a Fastpass for Space Mountain that had us right on the ride, bypassing a 45 minute stand-by line. I love Fastpass! The update to Haunted Mansion was great! (It was closed for rehab when we went last year, so that was a bummer, but it was well worth the wait!) Other highlights of that day were Pirates (always a blast) and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. The TTA used to be known as the People Mover, and I've always loved that ride.

Animal Kingdom was hot and humid, as always. Most of the time, riding Kilimanjaro Safaris is problematical -- the animals hide out when it's too hot. They search for any patch of shade, and get under it. I fully understand. I was looking for a shady spot to rest most of the day, myself. We saw few animals that particular day. Most of the ones we did see were sleeping. We also HAD TO ride Expedition Everest, and had a great lunch at The Yak and the Yeti. Offspring had a spicy Vietnamese dish called Pho, which impressed the waiter. He said most adults aren't adventurous enough to try that, much less a 12 year old.

We also spent a lovely day at Typhoon Lagoon, where JF and I swam with the sharks in the very cold 68 degree water. Offspring spent most of that day bodysurfing in the wave pool.

We encountered lots of families from the U.K. and a quite a lot of Chinese. We were surprised that there were so many Chinese vacationing with the Olympics going on, but as I pointed out, we flee our city like rats deserting the sinking ship any time there's a big to-do here, so what's to say the Chinese aren't the same? Plus, China's a pretty big place. There were also a lot of Chinese staff members who were working there, training for the opening of Hong Kong Disney.

We ended our trip with dinner at Chef Mickey's in the Contemporary Resort. Yum. Juggling Freak doesn't care for buffets, and even he was impressed. We all came away with aching tummies, and proceeded to sleep like the proverbial dead that night.

Juggling Freak took copious amounts of photos; we played, and spent lots of money; and we ate like complete gluttons. It was your typical Disney vacation.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Where Am I Again?

No sooner than CCW and family drove away from the liquid air we call "humidity" that envelops our city, Offspring and I had to go home and finish packing for a four-day Girl Scout trip that her troop was taking. I was going along as a chaperone/driver, and we had lots to get in the car before our 8am start.

We headed for Helen, Georgia, a small resort town in the Blue Ridge mountains, and what was supposed to be around a five-hour trip from home. We learned a great many things on this trip. Chief among them were:

*What is supposed to be a five hour trip with 13 twelve year old girls will take you eight hours with bathroom stops and lunch.

*We are confirmed flatlanders. Mountains kick our collective tails.

*We stayed at a state park in what was called The Squirrel's Nest. On one of our trips into the park's Trading Post, the ranger working the register asked what section of the park we were staying in. When we told her, she grimaced, and said, "You brave people." We should have known then what we were in for.

*Girls are quite capable as being completely disgusting and flippant about personal hygiene as boys are. I never knew that girls could stink quite that bad.

*We went river tubing, which sounds like it would have been a complete blast, but which turned out to be awful. So awful, I think Dante has it in one of the levels of Hell somewhere. The reason it sucked donkeys was that the area, along with much of the region, is having a drought and the river levels were way down. I became very intimate with every damn rock in the river. Mostly on my shins and knees. I look like I was viciously mauled by a toddler. Pictures don't do it justice. I scraped both palms raw, both knees raw, and bruises from what feels like stem to stern. Had it actually been the normal river level, I think I would have enjoyed that experience, but couldn't this way.

*We're not real fond of being attacked by gigantic moths in the bathhouse while we shower. Just sayin'.

*When you have a Girl Scout who needs desperately to go to the bathroom at 3am, it is best to not critique your appearance in the mirror just then. Yes, your hair looks like crap -- it's 3am, and you're wearing a miner's headlamp. Get over yourself.

Despite all that, it was a fun trip. A lot of fun was had, and the girls all seemed to have a great time. I feel fricking old, but that didn't seem to faze them any.

Now, I have about a 24-hour turnaround time to wash clothes, catch up on saved TiVo programs, and repack for an 8am Saturday departure to Disney World. I'll post at some paint, but I can't tell you when.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

I Finally Meet My (Non-Identical) Twin

CCW and I meet up! (While Offspring hovers in the background.)

CCW and Mr. MFBA at lunch.

CCW and I have long since discovered all the ways that we are alike, and have often joked that we must have been twins separated at birth. (How I got to be four years older than her remains a mystery for the ages.)

She and her family had to travel to a family wedding this weekend in a city only 2 hours from mine. She decided that she was dragging the entire family to HumidityLikeABrickWall for a bloggy meetup since she was within a fairly good driving range.

We met up for lunch and a quick stroll around the touristy area. CCW is just as hilarious in person as she is online. She's bright, funny, and we had no shortage of things to talk about. Mr. MFBA was a good sport, driving two hours out of the way for lunch and being Nonami's nap spot during it. He was, poor man, having to drive 10 hours back home only to get up in the morning and head to work. What fun for him. You truly are a badass, Mr. MFBA.

Kid L and Offspring got on like a house on fire. I actually had to look to make sure that they were eating during lunch, because it seemed like they talked a mile a minute the whole time we were there. They exchanged emails, and will probably be burning up the airwaves as much as their mothers do.

Nonami and NSBH were adorable, and I earned cosmic black marks against my name by showing the two of them the candy store and pointing out the large lollipops they sold. Nonami ate his straight away, and managed to get green lollipop goo all over his forehead. NSBH showed great restraint by not eating hers right away, but bedeviled Mommy for it after lunch. Mommy wasn't so interested in letting her child eat a lollipop as big as said child's head, but I have the feeling NSBH will wear her down on the drive home. CCW spent far too much money on the sugar-crack that we call pralines, and I'm curious to see how many of those make it home. They don't last very long with me.

It was a great visit, if short. I feel that we could have talked all day, but time was of the essence. I hope that CCW and Mr. MFBA are able to make the visit they're planning in October. I also hope they enjoyed the visit as much as we did.