Saturday, March 26, 2011


So, I know lately that this blog has taken a rather unfunny turn.  I'll try to fix that soon, I promise.  But not today.  No, today is a result of a...discussion.  We'll call it that.  I had a discussion (rather heated, I might add) at work with a coworker.  It came up as we were talking about cyberbullying because of this*.  Which turned to regular bullying and he said, "It's no big deal.  People need to toughen up.  I mean, come on, everybody had that one person who picked on them in school."

Being picked on is an annoyance.  Like a mosquito.  Somebody who might taunt you periodically about your hair.  Being picked on is easy to let go.  Just have it roll off your back.  So much of the advice about bullying is advice on how to handle teasing.

Bullying and being picked on are two entirely different things.

How do I know this?  I was teased.  Horribly as a kid and through a good part of high school.  I could go over lots of scenarios, but I won't because I've covered quite a few here.  High school was miserable for me.  I know high school was miserable for a lot of people.  I don't pretend that mine was the worst experience, because I know it wasn't.  I was lucky - I had quite a few friends.  I didn't get beat up.  I had people to talk to.  Most people I work with don't know my entire high school history and, to be perfectly frank, they don't need to.  It's not important or necessary for day to day functions.  I'm not going to go over the whole thing right now, but I will cover part of it.

Bullying takes a lot of forms.  It is constant.  It is daily.  It's like being in a pressure cooked that never lets up. Of being in a constant boxing ring: You against the bully and your inner critic.

That's what bullies do: they feed your inner critic and beat the smithereens out of your self esteem.  They help you see the worst you possible.  They make you realize that every flaw (real or imagined) is visible to everyone.  They hold up the mirror and say, "See?  You really are as hideous and ugly and unlovable as you think you are."

And people say to drown them out.  To ignore them.  To feel good about yourself.  But how can you do that when they've taken away that very foundation from you?  They have destroyed that very thing that you should fall back on.

Bullies don't just tease, that's only one weapon in their arsenal.  That's how they get to you.  It starts small until they find the thing that you are most insecure about and that hurts you the most.  And then they make your life miserable.  And the smaller you feel and the more you wish you could disappear in the background, the bigger and more visible they become.  The more you try to run from them, the harder they chase you down.  And you run until you are exhausted and you stop fighting.  And you let their words and actions rain down on you and wear you out even more.

And every time you look in the mirror or try to think a positive thought that voice, that horrible inner critic comes screaming out at you: "You are a horrible human being."  When your friends or family tell you what you think isn't true you always think, "But you have to say that."  This person who was a stranger noticed you and they noticed that.  And have driven that point  home consistently.

All of you has been chipped away to the core.  You are scared.  Alone.  Empty.  Frail.  Raw.

That is what being bullied feels like.

*I'm not gonna lie, that video is pretty awful but no 13 year old girl who is not a celebrity deserves to be made to cry and some of those comments are simply awful

Friday, March 25, 2011

Things I Am Tired Of: Please Advise

Maybe it's because I get a lot of emails from customers who are confused.  Maybe it's because I get a lot of customers that are naturally confused.  But I have discovered that I am utterly sick of the phrase: "Please advise."

The thoughts that cross my mind when I read this godforsaken phrase in my email are usually as follows:

"I would like you to fix this problem, but am too much of a wimp to ask straight out.  Please advise."

"I'm going to make this your issue, but want to appear as though I'm concerned.  Please advise."

"I really am a complete snot and have given no thought as to how busy you may be.  Please advise."

"I couldn't care less if I tried.  Please advise."

"I had no idea somebody as incompetent as you could do the job you're doing.  However, I'm striving to appear professional and appropriate so I'm pretending to ask for help when I think I really know the answer.  Please advise."

"Wow.  You screwed up, even though I really did.  Ball's in your court.  Please advise."

"My head is permanently stuck up my rear end.  Please advise."

"I am the epitome of condescension cloaked in politeness.  Please advise."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Excuse Me While I Channel Seth Meyers For A Moment

I know this is kind of out of left field for the whole 8 of you that read my blog, but forgive me for a moment.

I'm watching the news where they're talking about the failed terrorist attack of 2009 in Detroit.  Apparently, the bomber had originally planned to detonate the bomb over Chicago but decided against it because the ticket was too expensive.

Really?  It's not like you're going to live through this so does it matter home much money you spend, really?  This is your main concern - the price?  Not, oh I don't know, getting caught?  Or having the explosives in your underwear start igniting?*

Isn't it worth it to spend every cent you possibly could so you are able to get into heaven (if that's what your belief is), really?

If this is something that you feel morally obligated to do, why is now the time to dicker about prices?  Why not get the best bang for your buck?**  Really?!  

Thank you for allowing me that brief interlude.  And if you're still confused, check this out.

Or just, you know, watch it here:

         This is a response to the Michael Phelps scandal

*Yes, that's true
**And, yes, I actually went there

Monday, March 14, 2011


I know we've all seen the photos of the devastation in Japan.  I know we're all incredibly grateful that our own lives can continue on, uninterrupted.  I know that one little blog cry for help isn't likely to generate much, but I'm going to ask it anyway:

Go here (or text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10).  Please, and donate at least $10 (it's their minimum amount online) and after you do that if you could urge three people you know to do so.  And ask each of them to urge on 3 people.  And so on.

If we all try, we really can make a difference.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Stories from the Front Lines of Retail: How NOT To Conduct Yourself On The Phone

I feel the need, periodically, to explain how not to do things.  Generally this applies to circumstances at work.  For instance, the phone.  It is shocking to me how little training people get on how to conduct a normal phone conversation.  Let me give you an example of how NOT to do this.

Phone Rings

Me: Thank you for calling the place where I work, this is Amanda.
Woman on the Phone (who I'll refer to as WotP): Yes, Amanda, what is your address?
Me: 1234 N Numerical Street in City where I work.
WotP: Oh, darn it.  My pen isn't working.  This is a brand new pen.
Me: Ah, I'm sorry.
WotP: I absolutely hate this.  A brand new pen!  And it's not even working.  Do you know how to get a pen to work?
Me:  Well, when I was in high school we always got them started by drawing on the heels of our tennis shoes. [True story - it actually works].
WotP:  Let me see if I can find a pair of tennis shoes.  I'm barefoot at the moment.  (Various sounds of woman rummaging around while I offer sympathetic smiles to my staff)  I can't find any.  Do you have any other suggestions?
Me: You could stick it to your tongue.  I've heard that's supposed to work.  I can't really recommend that...
WotP: I'm going to touch my tongues.  No, that didn't work.  I'm seriously ripping a hole in my paper trying to write so hard.  Anyway, I'm coming out tomorrow.  And I really hate to store my stuff in plastic.  How does, I mean, is there, I want to know, I mean, I guess I'm asking - how does your stuff come?
Me:  Well, we do bags and jars.  
WotP: And what's your pricing?  For, oh I don't know, your something-that's-completely-vague-and-can-apply-to-more-than-one-product for the medium quantity?
Me:  I have quite a few but (picking a random one) this one is $5.
WotP: Oh!  Is that the normal size?  Like if you go to Walmart or something and they have the rows and rows and rows of the product you sell?  And they have the screw top lids, well I guess they're flip top lids now?  You know, the jars that you buy full of the product you sell?
Me: Uh, well, I suppose...
WotP: That's a great price!  And what, uh, you know, I guess, um, makes your product so different?
Me:  We make it all fresh here.
WotP:  What do you do with all the leftover stuff?  I mean, honestly, your business can't be booming enough for it fly out the door.
Me: (resisting the urge to point out our steady 20%+ growth each quarter) Actually, it is.
WotP: Oh, well, God bless you then.  I'll be in tomorrow.

Please.  For all that is holy and good.  Don't do this on the phone.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Harpooning An Electric Jellyfish

So, I've lived in my apartment for about a year now.  And, it's taken about that whole year to finally feel like I'm at home.  What do I do when I near that milestone?  Why...redecorate, of course!

When I first moved in I originally wanted to paint my dining room red and had my eye on a lamp.  This lamp, to be exact.  After a year, still fascinated by the idea, I decided to take the plunge.  So I painted the wall red and drove out to Ikea and bought the lamp.
Yes, your astute observation is correct - that wall is, indeed, not red

I was delighted to find that the drive to Ikea was a breeze!  And that, my friends, is where the good news ends.

Women nearly ran over me and I struggled getting my box 'o' lamp down the escalator.  Seriously.  That thing was heavy!

But, I was not to be deterred.  I had my lamp.  I was even nicknaming it.  Imaging all the adventures we'd have together all the fun experiences to come.  So I merrily lugged it from my car, across the parking lot (might as well have been the Adirondacks), up the stairs and into my apartment.

I open the box and see many parts but I persevere.  I screw the post together.  And then start to attach the top.

Now - I apologize for not taking pictures of this Pulitzer Prize winning photographic moment.

The cord does not easily slide through the top, down the pole, and out the base.  Oh no.  I turn the thing on its side.  And pull the cord through.  I swear to God - it looked like I was harpooning something.  The top of the lamp is dilly-dallying along (of course I attached the arms and little votive cups first, I wouldn't want to make this easy).

Once I turned 65, the top of the lamp made it over.  I screw it down, crow triumphantly and plug it in.

Aaaaand the damn thing doesn't light up.

Hmm...perhaps I should've read the directions.

Then I see them.  The bulbs.  A little blurp of glass with two metal prongs.  That fit into two little holes.  Positioned inside the votive cups.

Well, at least it looks pretty
See how much space there isn't?  Yeah.  It's about the size of my fingers.  Wanna guess how fun it is blindly jamming two little metal prongs into two holes you can't see?

So I get all the bulbs in.  While praying and simultaneously cursing, I turn the lamp on.  Choirs of angels sing as it miraculously turns on.

I looks less sad and wilty in person

Okay.  Fine.  It's not so miraculous.  I installed all the bulbs and plugged it into an electrical outlet.  Just let me have this moment...