January 2009

My adolescence was free from the influence of sporting events. In our household, there was no such thing as “The Super Bowl”.
If you would’ve mentioned the letters “E.S.P.N” to my former self, my response most likely would’ve been:
“Extra sensory perception… but what’s the ‘N’ stand for??”
As an adult, I understand that this is a sporting channel on TV, but I’m still unsure about the abbreviation’s meaning.
My family members were nerds, computer geeks, and creative types (writers/artists)… I think my mother may have played
volleyball one year in high school, but she doesn’t dwell on it. She talks more of the school band (she played flute).
The closest thing I came to the playing field was my stint as the school mascot. My class voted me into the position as a practical joke, because our mascot was feline and my cat-obsession was legendary!
I was proud to don the costume – school spirit be damned.

To sum it up: I’m extremely unqualified to plan our grocery dept’s massive assault on “Superbowl Weekend”. The last few weeks, I’ve been relying on information from company directives and male associates. What I’ve determined is that “Super Bowl” is the equivalent of Thanksgiving or Christmas in some households. The hordes of folks shopping for groceries is akin to the countdown leading up to T-day. Like Sunday marks Thanksgiving II: Revenge of the Tostito.
Perhaps it was a joint conspiracy by Frito Lay and Pepsi Co., because they were overlooked by more traditional holidays.
I’m extremely surprised that the government hasn’t declared it an official holiday, and calendars haven’t be re-printed to include it every year. Let’s give the kiddies an additional excuse to take a week off school!
(I missed all this excitement in my store last year… blessed maternity leave)

Actually the similarities between Super Bowl and the two top-ranking holidays are striking!
At Thanksgiving/Christmas, you might serve turkey or ham…. S.B. you serve hot buffalo wings. Although according to www.Chowhound.chow.com (motto – “for those who love to eat”) some people are going crazy with their menus on “this pivotal date on your culinary calendar”…
One member (Dinsdale45) describes his plan to serve Clam Fritters, Baked Duck Spring Rolls, SE Asian Ceviche, Chicken Tikka Masala Meatballs, Shredded Sichuan Ma La Chicken, Bulgogi Beef tips …among many other delicacies. Holy Guacamole!
I suppose Chili beans would replace the more stuffy (traditional) stuffing on the roster. Dips and salsas in lieu of cranberry sauce.
Cheesy potato skins win out over yams. And, of course, the beverages (although bubbling) are decidedly in favor of beer and soda, instead of wine and juice. (This is where Pepsi and Coke get their paybacks for the neglect!)
Family and friends from miles around gather in front of the widest-screen TV affordable to worship their favorite teams with religious fervor.
You might say American Football is, in fact, a new religion. It’s based upon pantheons of Romanesque gods, minus the ladies, and celebrated in a great Colosseum. The fellowship of gatherers before and during The Big Game might resemble a liberal church service, with a helluva lot more swearing… there are times of songs and praise, of prayers and reflection, judgements and inspiration. You can tell a believer just by looking into their eyes, where the zealous fire burns.
It’s all baffling to me, as a person who has only witnessed these events as a hostage in my own house. It’s as if the evangelists came knocking on your door, but instead of politely turning them away, they capture you and tie you to a kitchen chair (the recliner’s theirs, baby!) and force you to hear the message. I don’t understand the obsession with watching groups of men running a few yards back and forth across the grass, and tackling each other in mobs – causing injury – over a stuffed pigskin.
Others don’t understand my obsession with cats, either, but I don’t host huge Cat Celebrations every year and drive the grocery manager nuts.
Perhaps I should!
Fortunately my current partner is a computer geek, like my family, so he doesn’t subject me to this craziness. I wonder how he would react to an upcoming Cat Celebration? LOL

A woman came into the store a week ago, and inquired about the location of a giant jar of salsa. I showed her where it was, and she thanked me in a manner quite unusual: “Bless you, dear! This was exactly what I was looking for!”
I wasn’t sure if it was the beginning of Super Bowl fever, or perhaps the afterglow of Obama’s inauguration, which made her so jubilant.

All I can wonder is, should I begin planning displays of weight-loss ideas (like we did for New Years) for those who gorged themselves over the weekend on Chicken Tikka Masala Meatballs and cheesy potato skins?


TaraFly's original artwork - Clean Up in Water Aisle

I’m currently* employed full-time as a grocery manager in a large retail supercenter…. not going to mention which one, as corporate spies most likely scour the Internet daily looking for employees bad-mouthing their company. People who’ve protested too loudly have often disappeared under suspicious circumstances.
The men in grey suits (who carry out these nefarious commands) are paid extremely high salaries to buy their loyalty and silence concerning such matters.

(*Currently – refers to my tentative plan to change my work schedule, or quit altogether, upon the arrival of my third and last spawn. The cost of daycare even now is eating us alive, up to the knees at this point).

I will however miss the occasional occurrences at work that make great stories for re-telling. I will have to make-do, I suppose, with stories that Joe brings home and live vicariously through him. One such incident happened to me last night…

First of all…
People are always leaving merchandise on the wrong shelves, after walking two aisles over and deciding they no longer want the item. Or else, they come into the store with coffee or soda, and leave a half-empty cup behind. Our numerous trash receptacles have a habit of becoming invisible when customers look for them.
It doesn’t usually bother me, unless they grab a perishable item, like meat dripping in juice or a carton of ice-cream, and lay it down in the cereal aisle… laziness is one thing, but wasting products on purpose is another. Especially when I have to throw away a couple boxes of cereal also, because they were covered in chicken juice or melted ice-cream leaking from it’s container. I mean, seriously folks, don’t make me give you a lecture ….
Other people (the dishonest sorts) steal parts of an item, and leave the rest on the shelf…. a single can from a 12-pack of soda for instance. Like, who wants to drink a warm soda anyway? Unless they’re patient enough to wait until they get home to chill it? … or the industrious types who go to the paper-goods area – steal a cup from a pack, and then head over to the ice-machine and break open a bag for a couple cubes?? There you go. Help yourself.

I’ve seen some strange things done by thieves, a few of them fairly ingenious actually. And my husband could tell many more stories, as the head of store security for the same company (we work in different locations, though).

What happened to me last night, however, still boggles my mind. As a mother. As a self-respecting human being.

I was helping my two stockers yesterday by refilling the sparkling, flavored water aisle… which was wiped out by customers panicked over our recent reports of snow showers (no accumulation, though). God knows, when the flakes begin to fall, everyone needs sparkling black-cherry flavored water… oh, and 10 gallons of milk. Enough to last 3 weeks or more, in case our homes are buried in a freak eight-foot blizzard, like… back in… oh, you know, remember? The last time everyone was snowed-in for almost a month? What year was that? 1832 ?
It doesn’t help that our company is trying to tighten expenses and operate with less staffing. So the aisles were bare, and my two stockers and I were working furiously to provide these poor saps with their flavored water before it was too late….
I barely noticed a jumbo pack of diapers sitting on the shelf. Actually, it registered in the back of my mind… it appeared unopened, and I made a mental note to return it to the Infants Aisle (30 feet away) when I finished my cart of water. I continued farther down the aisle, and made The Discovery. A lone diaper lying on the shelf, beside the liter bottles of kiwi-strawberry. A diaper… a used one… smelly and heavy… semi-rolled up… just sitting there like it belonged.
(20 feet away, at the end of this very aisle, was one of those invisible trash cans) I remembered the diaper pack, and checked it again. Sure enough, it had been opened (and a diaper removed), and the discreet mother (or father) laid it back down so the hole was covered. Didn’t want anyone to realize you stole a
diaper, did you? You stood there, in the middle of the water aisle, and changed your child’s dirty butt, and laid the waste on the shelf…

We do have changing stations in our restrooms, so they had the option of drawing less attention to themselves. And being respectful of other shoppers… I doubt others would want to buy their precious kiwi-strawberry water, 10-foot blizzard or not, when they might be contaminated by the smelly diaper sitting 3 inches in
front of them.
I understand the economy is suffering, and prices are sky-rocketing. I get blamed every day for raising prices. People are hostile with me, when I’m changing signs – as if I personally want to inflate the price of canned peas by 10 cents. Do you think I recoup that money myself? Does my pay increase with every can
sold? Absolutely!! (not).
Although I don’t condone theft, I can understand a suffering family who can’t afford to buy a pack of diapers (perhaps until pay day)… and suddenly the worst scenario happens, and your child poops his pants in the store, and you need a diaper. He’s crying. He’s uncomfortable and he stinks. And the more he cries and
stinks, the worse it reflects on you – bad parent – for not being able to provide for him. So you take a diaper to ease your guilt and his pains. I’ll forgive you.
But for God’s sake, don’t show your ignorant upbringing by leaving your garbage on the shelf for others to clean up. And if you did it out of spite, to “get-back” at the store that robbed you with it’s high prices, there are better ways than by embarrassing yourself.

I decided to mention this incident to my assistant manager, and fortunately I found him sitting at his desk – on lunch break – eating a roast beef sandwich from Subway. I said, “I have something to tell you. It’s kind of gross, but pretty amusing, actually. Keep eating.”
As I regaled the story to him in every possible detail, making him experience the event firsthand with my words, I got a strange satisfaction watching him choke on his mouthful of food. And when I mentioned that the entire aisle now smells like a baby’s poopy diaper, and how nauseating it is… I paused and asked politely,

“So, how’s the sandwich? I hear Subway makes a mean roast beef.”

Let this be a lesson to all of the dishonest, or disrespectful, customers out there. If you come into my store and make a fool of yourself, you might find yourself the subject of an embarrassing rant on an Internet blog… I’ll catch you, my pretty. And your stinky baby too. 🙂

TaraFly's original artwork, taraflyphotos.com

I’m not sure who said the famous line, “You only get one chance to make a great first impression” but that individual is solely responsible for millions of empty blogs and personal websites… people want to share themselves with the world, but after all the initial set-up is completed, they are left staring at a blank, white message block and a paralyzing fear of portraying themselves in the wrong light with their opening paragraph.

I, however, have finally conquered that fear… roughly three days after creating this account, and as you can see, am already in the midst of my SECOND paragraph. Making it to the final paragraph, though, will require a bit more effort and exploration into what makes a good introduction.

What should you know about me, then? Well, I could begin by sharing with you a few secrets from my childhood… such as, my first crush (in kindergarten) was for a rat. Many people have had crushes on rats, but mine was of the rodent variety… he was tall and suave, with melting brown eyes and a shy, sexy smile. His name was Justin; brave and adventurous, he fought well with a sword defending his lady’s honor, and held the title of Guard Captain. Obviously, he was also a fictional character from a feature-length animation.
I carried a torch for Justin for a long time, but finally had to acknowledge that my love was unrequited and in vain. For his heart was smitten by Jonathon Brisby’s lovely mouse widow; biologically and artistically, I had
to concede they were much better suited for one another.
Fortunately my broken heart was mended by my next suitor, a stuffed alley cat I named Stinkpin. Yes, I did write “stuffed”, as in sewn with batting, not overfed on garbage or taxidermied.
He actually returned my affections, and offered to marry me. I was told by my patient grandmother that I needed to get my father’s permission before the wedding, but alas, I knew he wouldn’t approve. So Stinkpin and I eloped. Hmmm, it’s a wonder the courthouse didn’t discover that hasty decision when I applied for another marriage years later. It could possibly be that all of my marriages henceforth have been invalid… although since he did abandon me some time later for parts unknown, it’s conceivable I would be granted an annulment.

As any psychiatrist could determine from reading these last paragraphs, my difficulties acquiring and maintaining a normal romantic relationship have been troubled since my earliest years. Why is it, throughout my life, I’ve always seemed drawn to the rats and the strays?
My current marriage in progress is surprisingly going well… at the two year mark, which formerly has been the death knoll of my waning commitment, I feel we are stronger than ever.
I cannot allow myself much optimism, however, because I cursed my future self in the 3rd grade….

Giving a dramatic monologue recitation for a panel of judges, one of them wrote on his sheet that I could become “the next Elizabeth Taylor”. My parents seem to take great delight at the compliment, but as an eight-year-old child with little knowledge of Ms. Taylor’s great cinematic achievements, I could only reply matter-of-factly: “He just meant that I’m going to have 8 husbands when I grow up.”
See, dear readers! I doomed myself to a life of ill-commitment and love affairs. As much as I would love to protest that I was mistaken, and that my current prince will be the last… it would be a foolish fantasy.
The silver lining to all this madness, is that he is turning 50 this year, so perhaps we can have a wonderful marriage while he lives… and once he passes, when I’m sixty or so, I’ll squeeze in the remaining 5 husbands
in rapid succession. If I continue this tradition of dating men 20 years my senior, it shouldn’t be too difficult to marry and bury five men in their late 80’s.

Although these musings wouldn’t likely be considered the most appropriate introduction into a person’s character, it has served it’s intended purpose… getting past the blank page, to a point where I can safely say… this is the final paragraph in my first blog! From this point on, impressions having been made, I can easily fill the remaining
pages with my odd thoughts and ramblings. I generally leave my shoes off; they’re under the table now, so feel free to put them on and take a walk into my world.