I’ve been caught up in the mad, mad scramble of preparing for Christmas; school concerts, piano recitals, children’s hockey parties and general preparations, so I have been availing myself of the local drive-thru windows.  This has made me privy to a new and irritating trend – and it isn’t, “Would you like to super-size your fries?”  It hasn’t been THAT long.  It is the parting I have come to detest.

It is at Tim Horton’s, Home Depot, McDonald’s, at multiple clothing stores…even high-end stores.

It is the dreaded, Have a good one.

Ugh.

Each time, I want to stop, turn and whine at the offender;

“Really?  Awww, come-on…not you too?  And things were going so well between us!  But you had to ruin it.  You had to say it… 

A good one?!  One..what?  A good day?  Afternoon?  Evening?  Tooth extraction??!

You don’t even care enough to know what time it is!  But I already knew that.  I already knew you didn’t care whether it was the afternoon or the morning or the evening, but now you don’t even care enough to pretend you care!”

Maybe that’s the point.  Some people have stopped even pretending they care, and my rose-coloured glasses are getting all fogged up.

I fancy myself a descriptive vs. a prescriptive linguist of sorts…so I began to wonder at the etymology of the expression.  Then I pondered if, in fact, the direction may actually have come from corporate head-offices in order to increase the tone of familiarity between clerk and customer.

And so I googled the phrase.

Definition one in The Urban Dictionary states that “Have a good one” is a friendly way of saying goodbye to someone.

Not too bad.

Definition two states its a way to dismiss someone you know or someone you don’t want to know.  It can be used as a way to avoid talking to someone.

Hmmm.

Definition three may be, perhaps, most interesting to those in head-office, if the direction indeed came from them.  Have a good one is, evidently, an alias for “Have a good wank,” or “Go f*** yourself.”  

Lovely.

It really makes me see the clerk’s goodbye after yesterday’s coffee order in an entirely different light.

“Here’s your double double. Now go f*** yourself!”

Yikes!

Last night I was at the grocery store and noticed a couple of attractive young guys in their early thirties, entering the store.  They were heading my way as I made a left into the feminine products aisle, which also contained the first aid materials.  I was looking for Bactine.

“Sure,” I thought, “Of course I would be heading down the pad aisle.”

Why that makes any difference at all to anyone at all, most of all, those two guys, is really quite another question.  But these are the weird, self-absorbed places my brain sometimes travels when I forget momentarily that thirty-something guys are not looking at me anyway.  This is not even beginning to approach the question of why buying feminine products is embarrassing for women to do; but somehow, for many, it is.

For me, it’s like holding up a sign in front of the men around you, that announces, “MY PERIOD IS COMING!”  It’s a personal thing, involving my nether regions, and I don’t know why anyone else around me needs to know anything about it.  But I digress.

So I turned left into the feminine products/first aid aisle and, as fate would have it, the two guys entered the aisle behind me.  I was walking down the aisle, continuing my weird thinking, “Ha!  They probably think I’m buying pads or tampons!  But I’m NOT!  Ha!  I’M buying Bactine!”

I stopped past the feminine products in front of the first aid items and was startled to see both guys stop…where?

In front of the feminine products!

And I was privy to the conversation which went like this.

“How much is there, man?”

“A lot.”

“Maybe you should just get a diaper.”

“Ya…I know.”

“What kind did she say?”

“She didn’t…she just said, ‘HURRY!’ ”

“Oh boy.  Okay.  But there’s so many!  Look at them all!  I guess we’ll just start at the top row…”

I could hear the nervousness in their voices and I knew they were completely lost.  There was some woman somewhere, bleeding like a tap and they had no idea what she needed.

A glance over revealed the two men, each with a hand to his chin, looking up at the pads and tampons, and rocking back and forth from heel to toe.  This wasn’t going anywhere fast.

I approached the guys and tentatively asked them if they needed help.  They both heartily accepted with a huge exhale of relief.

One man explained that his wife had just had a caesarean section and the hospital was not supplying pads.  I showed them how to read the packages for sizing and told them to look for words like MAXI, OVERNIGHT and LEAK GUARD.

“Get the biggest, most absorbent ones you can,” I advised.  They nodded solemnly, wide-eyed.

Suddenly, they were grabbing bags of pads off the shelves and reading them studiously.  It was absolutely hilarious, but also very heartwarming to see how much they cared about getting the right thing for his wife.  They had no embarrassment whatsoever.  What was my problem?

I left them to their task and told them they were, “Good guys” and also thanked them for my next blog topic.  They laughed and said they were very grateful for the help.

A few minutes later, I saw them at the cash, several lines over, throwing and catching a big bag of pads high in the air.  I caught their eye and raised my eyebrows with a questioning thumbs up.  They both answered with smiles and enthusiastic thumbs up and I grinned back in reply.

Of late, our Charlotte has decided to give our baseboard trim, designer sunglasses, and my high heels a reprieve, and has moved onto something that makes our daughter a lot less happy.

It’s puzzles.

Perhaps this isn’t truly a new desire on dear Charlotte’s part.  We enjoy completing puzzles as a family and have wondered repeatedly, over the last two years, at our seeming inability to complete one without discovering a solitary piece missing at its finale.  It’s rather anti-climactic to work for days, only to find that last piece has inexplicably vanished into thin air; and even more so after the fourth or fifth puzzle in a row.  We simply never figured out that our doe-eyed Charlotte was the culprit.

Recently our daughter had been working on a puzzle on a low coffee table that we have in our den, which was not the usual location for our work, and so I finally had the opportunity to catch Miss Charlotte in the act.

Day One:

I walked into the den and was certain I saw Charlotte quickly pick up a puzzle piece in her mouth and then dash under the table.  I tried to call her to come out, but she wouldn’t budge.

I dove under the table after her and pried her jaws open, “Gimme that thing!!!”   She was turning her head from side to side and trying to give me a pitiful, innocent look, when I finally got her mouth open.  Sure enough, there was a puzzle piece, neatly tucked up in the roof of her mouth.  I tried to pry the piece out but only succeeded in flicking it out onto the carpet, at which point Charlotte neatly popped her paw over top of it.  I tried to lift Charlotte’s paw but she was determined to keep that little piece of cardboard no matter what it took.

I couldn’t believe I was virtually arm-wrestling a 70 pound dog for a puzzle piece and she was getting the best of me.  But there I was.  Finally I was able to wedge my hand under her paw.  Victorious, I held the piece up to show Charlotte.  She tried to seem disinterested and gazed off benignly in another direction, refusing to look at my hand, or its contents.

“OH CHARLOTTE!!!”  I admonished, breathlessly.  “Are you eating the puzzle?!”

She ducked her head and looked up at me with her big ginger-ale eyes, doing her best to look even more innocent.  It suddenly dawned on me that this explained all the tiny bits of construction paper that I had been finding scattered all over the carpet for days, but had been just mindlessly tossing in the recycle bin without a thought. 

“That’s BAD!” I said “You’ve been eating the puzzle ALL THIS TIME?!”

I dragged her to time out, where she promptly peed all over the floor.  Then, in her despair, she lay down in part of the puddle of pee.  I wondered just who was being punished exactly, as I then spent my next half hour giving her a shower.  Afterward, I took her over to the puzzle and picked up a piece.

Her tail tucked between her legs as I held it up in front of her face.

“Puzzles…” I said, “are BAD!”

Charlotte dropped her head and looked properly ashamed.

Then I picked up her bone.

“Bones…” I continued, in my best Mary Poppins voice, “are gooooood!!!!”

Charlotte panted, smiling at me, and wagged.

I picked up the puzzle piece and deepened my voice. “Puzzles are BAAAAAAD!!!” I said.

Charlotte’s tail, again, tucked neatly between her legs, and she averted her eyes.

I picked up her antler and I cheerfully purred at her, “Antlers are gooooood!…Gooooood girl!!!!”  Then I gave her lots of happy pets and cuddles.

Charlotte wagged happily, once more.

This is child’s play, I thought.  She’s got it now for sure.

Day Two:

I came home the next day to find five whole puzzle pieces and three chewed up balls of unidentifiable cardboard scattered around the table.  I stood there, stunned.

She glanced up at me and dashed under the table.  I silently picked up one of the puzzle pieces and showed it to her.

I didn’t even have say a word;  Charlotte ran off to time out.  She glanced back at me as if to say, “I’m sorry mom…I think I might have a problem…”

I simply could not understand why she would not chew her antler.  I had paid thirty dollars for the reported creme-de-la-creme of chew toys, chock-full of all the marrow any red-blooded dog could hope for, but all Charlotte wanted was puzzle pieces?

I’m a brainstormer by nature and so I like to solve problems.  I got to thinking; perhaps the antler was too large.  Even though the extra-large antler was for dogs in a higher weight class, I had purchased it because it seemed to have a more interesting shape.

That must be it, I decided, I would go out to the garage and cut Charlotte’s antler in half.

I marched out to the garage, plugged in my mitre saw and naively readied myself for a nice quick cut.

Very naively.

To say that the smell of burning bone and quantity of dust that shot up into the air was nauseating, is more than a “gross” understatement.  White dust was flying into my face at an uncontrollable speed as I stood pursing my lips together and making ineffective raspberry noises, all while attempting to hold my breath at the same time.  All of this I accomplished while operating the saw through half-closed eyes.  At last, after what felt like about ten minutes, I completed the cut.  Half-blind, I grabbed both pieces, and bolted, insane with desperation, out the front of my garage at a full run, madly wiping at my eyes, face, and clothing, and gasping for breath.

But it would be worth it….Charlotte would now love her antlers and stop chewing our daughter’s puzzle.  I returned inside and it was like Christmas.  She chewed her antlers all afternoon without taking a break!

At last, success!

Day Three:

I arrived home to find six more puzzle pieces and two chewed up balls of unidentifiable cardboard littering the carpet.  I looked at Charlotte and she looked at me, waiting to see what I would do.  I felt we were at some kind of a turning point but somehow I knew that I wasn’t going to be the winner in this standoff.

I heaved a defeated sigh and slowly sank down onto the carpet beside her.

“Why Charlotte?…Why?…” I moaned.

I swear that I detected a slight shrug of her left shoulder.  Charlotte lowered her head to her paws as she exhaled her breath.

Charlotte 1.  Puzzle 0.

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A couple of days ago, I had a look through some of my past posts and was stuck by the trend of negativity toward the old, or aging, in general.  If there was a thread of agism emerging, I set my sights on squashing the trend and writing some positive things about my experiences with the elderly.  I have been blessed with some very positive relationships by virtue of some years volunteering and working in residences and old age homes.

There.  I waved the white flag.  I’m not a hater.  Honest.

I never dreamed that only one day later I would go to bed with a pocket full of new stories.

Yesterday I was in the pharmacy and lined up behind a sweet old woman who had just finished paying for her items.  She was having difficulty getting her credit card back into her wallet because her hands were shaking.  She was frequently glancing back at me apologetically and, as fate has it, the harder she tried to move faster, the slower she went.  A couple of items dropped out of her purse and her face wore a grimace of the stress she was feeling.

The cashier was folding her arms and looking frustrated.  She beckoned me toward the counter, and said, “Come on up.”

I said, “I’m not in any hurry at all.”

The lady was scrambling and once again the cashier said to me, “I can ring you through.”  At this point she swept the woman’s purse, together with her purchases, down the counter with her arm, not unlike a pinsetter in a bowling alley.  There was no reason I could see for rushing her.  No long line up.  No busy store.  All I saw was one impatient cashier.

I remained rooted, “I’m not in any hurry.  Let her finish…it’s okay.”

To the older woman I said, “Take your time.”

She finally was able to get herself organized and departed with a smile of relief cast back my way.

Shortly after I left the store, I stopped to allow an old gentleman who was carrying packages, to cross the road in front of me.  He was trying to hurry but was only accomplishing walking that kind of hop-like step involving far more vertical distance than linear travel.   His back was rounded in deep kyphosis which caused him to keep his gaze directly on the ground ahead of him.  I wasn’t sure he was even aware of my presence, when at the last moment after crossing, he turned to give me a deep and courtly nod that would have rivalled anyone in the upper echelon of 18 or 19th century society.  I grinned from ear to ear and he grinned back.

Later that morning I had the pleasure of encountering Doris, who is more than 90 years young, as we waited together in our Doctor’s office.  I offered her my seat in the waiting room and she proved to be worth her weight in gold in the entertainment she provided.

We jointly joked about speaking to the Doctor about providing us with tea and cookies, “…since he’s kept us waiting so long!”

“Do you prefer tea, Dear, or coffee?”  Doris asked me, “Because I’ll speak to him about setting out both, if you think that would be best.”

We enthusiastically agreed that the Doctor really should home-bake the cookies,

“…after all, nothing store-bought will do, certainly not.”

Truth be told, our doctor’s longest wait time would be a dream day for any other doctor’s office I’ve heard of, so it truly was all in good fun.

We continued with some banter over the Bruins and the Leafs and she recounted her thrill at receiving a personal card from Bobby Orr for her 90th birthday.   Although, she said, her daughter had needed to send “her Bobby” both the card and the dollar for the stamp…and he never returned the change from the price of the stamp.   She said she is still considering writing him a letter to ask him for that nickel!

Everyone in the office was in giggles thanks to Doris.

In each of these situations, I made an offering of one small thing;  I slowed down and made space for an older person.  In each situation I was rewarded ten-fold;

By a smile, by an acknowledgement, by a story.

The elderly have many gifts to give.  As we all do.  Let’s slow down and find some time to give them.

During a walk in the park with Charlotte a few days ago, we were a good distance out in the field, so I briefly unclipped her from her leash to pick up after her “business”, so to speak.  Suddenly a voice bellowed, “Put your F*&^ing dog on an f*&^ing LEASH!”

I stood up slowly, completely stunned, with the bag over my hand like a mitten, stabbing toward it with one finger from my other hand, seeing an older man holding a golf club about 20 metres away on the path.  “I’m just picking up her poop!” I said, cheerfully.  

Translation?  I’m a responsible dog owner here Buddy!  Don’t yell at me, okay?

“I don’t care what the f&*% you’re doing! Put your f*&%ing dog on a leash!”

I slowly stood up again…”Yes, I have her leash right here…”

“Then f*&%ing PUT IT ON THE THING!  You’re supposed to control your f*&%ing DOG.  It says so on the sign!” he screamed.

I continued, “YES.  I saw it on the sign right next to NO GOLFING.  Enjoy the nice sunny day sir.  Goodbye.”  I dismissed him and bent down again to finally pick up the poop once and for all.  I was beginning to lose my temper.

He wouldn’t abate, “Oh you’re a smart one…  You F*&%ing DOG OWNERS and your F*&%ing DOGS!  Is there anything worse than DOG owners and their F*&%ing DOGS???”

That was it.  I was finished.  I stood straight up.

“Weeeelll!”  I began, “Since you asked!  YES.  THERE.  IS!”

“MISERABLE.  OLD.  FOUL MOUTHED MEN LIKE YOU!  WHO ARE TOO GRUMPY TO ENJOY A GORGEOUS SUNNY DAY LIKE TODAY! THAT’S WHAT!”

He growled, “No wonder your dog is such an idiot when it has an owner that is a DICK like you.”

I briefly entertained the thought of telling him that I have an Uncle Dick who is actually a pretty successful and intelligent guy, so perhaps  calling me a dick was, in actuality, a compliment…

..but he had a golf club and I had a bag of poo.  I knew this could only be a messing ending for both of us.  

Besides the only good part of a fight, is its ending.  So I took my dog and walked off into the sunshine.

The end.

 

Tonight my mom’s first cousin called me and told me she had to tell me something awful.  There was a long silence and then she barely croaked out that her son Shawn, my second cousin, had hung himself.  I was so shocked, I nearly dropped to the floor.  I hadn’t talked to Shawn for a few years.  Adult life caught up to both of us and, aside from Facebook, I rarely connected with Shawn at all anymore.  Apparently he had struggled with depression over the last year and had changed dramatically from the man I remember.

Growing up, our families lived three hours apart, so we rarely got together, but when I was attending university in my 20s, Shawn, his brothers and I grew closer.  I always had a lot of fun with him and he was one of those guys who liked to have a good time.  No matter what was going on, Shawn usually had a smile on his face.  This is the man I will remember.  This is the man I will miss.

My heart is absolutely aching for his mother, who is an incredible woman.  She told me tonight that the last thing she ever said to him, was the last thing she always said to him,

“I love you too, son, with all my heart.”

Shawn’s mom told me that said he just couldn’t stand the world anymore.  All he saw was the lying, cheating and stealing.  He was flooded with the negativity and blackness.  She begged him to get help, but he refused to take antidepressants because he said, “I don’t want to take medicine just to force me to accept the world the way it is.”  And so, instead, he took his own life.

And I’m left struggling with two different perspectives.

There’s the anger.  Certainly.  I wanted to jump through the phone and hold his mother in my arms.  I wanted to cry with her for hours.  I was so angry with him for the pain he had caused his family, the horror of his brother and cousin who had found him.  The selfishness of his act.  The agony he had precipitated.

But then his mom asked me, “Do you think he is okay now?  I mean do you think he is finally happy?”

And then it hit me…

Maybe Shawn had the right to die…..

I do believe in assisted suicide in special cases of terminally ill patients.  I will just put that out there.  When it is a person’s will not to continue to live in a state of irreparable disease, I believe that they should have the right to die with dignity and on their terms.

Does it not follow that Shawn also had that right?  To decide that he did not wish to continue to live in his state of disease?

The palpable difference is that I believe that Shawn could have gotten better.   I don’t believe that the world is the way that Shawn viewed it, because he saw it through an ailing lens.  But so it was.  Ailing it was.  And yet I must hold to the mainstay of my value set that he had the right to believe what he saw to be true.  And he had the right to determine that this was not a place in which he wished to continue to exist.  He had the right to decide not to get better and, instead, to exit this place that, for him, was a world of doom and sorrow.

So I will sit here staring at my screen and I will watch these words swim as the tears pool in my eyes and spill down my face…as I choose.

Shawn, I will choose to respect you and accept you for who you are, who you were and what you chose to do.  Most importantly, I will choose to forgive you for your choice not to remain here with us.  For your choice not to stay and be a part of the amazing beauty that we all see…instead of deciding to leave and become this enormous hole in all of our hearts.

Safe flight Shawn.  May you have at last found the peace you seek.

Click to listen to “Angel” by Canadian artist Sarah McLachlan

Shawn 2

Anyone that knows me can confirm that I am loath to waste money on paying professionals to do jobs that are simple.  That said, I do believe in calling in the experts when the going gets too tough.

Our dishwasher came with the house when we bought it.  Truth be told, it has never done a spectacular job.  This has always irked me, since it is a top-of-the-line KitchenAid and my mom has a base model something or other that always leaves the dishes like they are in a T.V. commercial.

I have successfully completed a couple of repairs to the dishwasher over the last five years and I was very proud of myself.  So, last week, when I noticed that the dishes were not rinsing at all; I decided to roll up my sleeves again.

With the help of a very funny YouTube video, I had our dishwasher apart all over our kitchen floor in minutes. (THIS time I was smart and took pictures as I took each piece off.  This time.  But that’s another story!)

Unfortunately, my investigations didn’t relieve the clogged food chopper that I was expecting to find, so I was stumped.  I put it all back together and resolved to call the experts.  Oh well.  You can’t win them all, I guessed.

Later that day, I pulled the plug on a sink full of water, when I heard a distinctive,

BLUB, GLUB, BLUB

from the dishwasher.  I looked under the sink.  Hmmm.  The dishwasher drains into the pea trap in our sink.  I marched off to the bathroom to grab the plunger, filled the kettle (germ-a-phobe), and filled both sinks with water.

A few minutes of plunging revealed nothing too exciting…until I changed my technique.  I moved from the manic; down, up, down, up, down, up…you get it…

to

down, UP!…down, UP!…down, UP!

It was like Christmas!  Up came a straw from one of our daughter’s water bottles.  Two minutes later?  A long stem.  I switched to the other side and excitedly employed the same technique.  Wooosh!  Out flew one of our daughter’s skinny paint brushes!

HEY!  I realized.  This is just like Pea Trap Pick Up Sticks!

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I found myself hoping more things would come flying out of my drain, but alas, that seemed to be all.  The drama was over…sigh.

Sheesh.  I really need to get out more.