Jan 18, 2015

A look in the mirror

Every January, I take a mental journey to take stock of my life. A lot of people do this on New Year’s Eve, before they make resolutions, but I’m ahead of the times, so I do it later. The process involves honest reflection, lots of crying and several glasses of wine. Sometimes I don’t like what I see, but that was just once.

A lot of people can’t handle this kind of introspection because they’re stupid, but I can because I bought extra wine this year. I knew I was in for what could be a very difficult 10 minutes of thought.

In the mom department, I asked myself, “Am I the kind of mom my sons would like to have?” I texted my sons for input. The answer was no. They brought up times I didn’t pick them up from college, forgot their birthdays and other stuff that was equally trivial. Those boys just don’t let things go. Why was I even asking them? Of course I’m a good mom. My son gave me a "World's Best Mom" mug on my first Mother's Day 22 years ago, and that's proof enough. Infants don’t lie.

Next factor. What kind of a wife am I? Hmm, Joe hasn’t asked for a divorce, so one can only conclude that I must be a spectacular wife. Next?

How is my career? Well, there’s a story behind that. Last month Mr. Patel announced he wanted to hire an assistant manager. I called dibs on the job immediately, but my co-workers Dodie and Kibbie said they wanted to apply too. What kind of friends won’t honor calling dibs? I was furious – and worried. I knew these women had a better chance of getting the job because they are well-liked.

Kibbie is in her 20s, good looking and flirty. All she has to do is smile, and Mr. Patel is putty in her hands. As expected, Mr. Patel offered her the job just minutes after he announced the position. However, in a twist of good luck, she failed a simple literacy test (which was actually just an eye chart), and POW, she was knocked out of the competition. Ha!

It was down to Dodie and me, which made me sweat. Dodie is popular because she’s friendly, dependable and looks like a grandma. That’s tough competition! Who doesn’t like a grandma? I’m only a year younger than Dodie, but I was cursed with youthful good looks, so how could I possibly compete against that? By exposing any skeletons in her closet! Dodie had to have some horrible secret she was hiding. Nobody gives out banana bread at Christmas unless they’re hiding something dark.

I went to Bob, the lanky night clerk with the foreign accent, to see if he knew about Dodie's evil side. As I neared the door to the stock room, I could hear him talking to the creepy cashier with the greasy hair. “If Jackie gets that job, I’m going to quit. She’s always mean.” I wondered if he was joking. It’s hard to tell when someone who speaks broken English is trying to be serious. I wanted to yell, “Speak American!” but Bob didn’t know I was listening.

After that, I knew my only shot was to speak directly to Mr. Patel. The next morning, I barged into his office before my shift started and began reading nervously from my prepared note cards. “Do not hire Dodie. She is so old that someone mistook her for a mummy when she was touring the museum,” I said. Then I looked up to find Mr. Patel was not alone. He was in a passionate embrace with his wife’s hairstylist. My mouth dropped. Their mouths dropped too, and we all froze for a moment. Clearly my speech was doing the trick. Seconds later, Mr. Patel gathered the employees on the Quickie Mart floor and announced that I got the job.

“Look at me. Look at me!” I said to lanky Bob. “I'm the captain now!” Thank goodness I saw that Captain Phillips commercial or I wouldn’t have known what to say.

So, yes, I’ve been at the Quickie Mart for almost 20 years and this is the first promotion I’ve ever gotten. How’s my career going? Awesome!

To sum up, I passed my introspection this year with flying colors, and feel like a winner once again! Happy New Year, and I hope you are all winners too!

Sep 15, 2014

No, I Don't Work Here

In addition to being mistaken for a male occasionally throughout my life, I’m sometimes mistaken for a store employee when I’m out shopping. Mind you, it’s not like I wear my Quickie-Mart uniform or name tag when I'm at another store. I always have my coat on and am toting a handbag. Those are dead giveaways that I'm just another shopper, yet people get confused. And this has happened to me since I was a teen. I have no idea why.

I’m tired of this. Maybe I have a face that says, “Can I help you?” but anyone who knows me knows that I don’t want to help anyone. I don’t even help our customers at work, where it’s my job to help people. That comes up a lot at my performance appraisals.

Anyway, being mistaken for a store employee has happened so much that I finally stopped explaining that I don’t work at the store. Instead, I just answer people’s questions. It's easier that way.

Sometimes I answer politely.
Q: “What aisle are the soccer balls in?”
A: “There's a whole section of soccer balls for you and your little buddy in aisle 12. Run along now, sport.”

Sometimes I answer tersely.
Q: “Can you tell me how long the sale on canned goods lasts?”
A: “No.”

And sometimes I answer snidely:
Q: “Why are YOUR restrooms so filthy?”
A: “Why is your mom so filthy?”

Today the trend continued. I was about to exit Target when the security alarm went off. A woman in her 30s with a kid in the cart stopped in front of me. When she saw me, she asked if I wanted to look at her receipt and bags or if she could just go. “I just paid at that register right there,” she explained. What a dummy.

“No, you’re good,” I said, and she smiled and thanked me. I'm actually helpful sometimes.

As we exited the store, a vigilant policeman tackled the woman onto the sidewalk. “Stay down, dirtbag!” he yelled, and he pulled a gun on her.

Another cop tackled her toddler. “Never steal from Target!” shouted the policeman. The feisty toddler squirmed and got loose. That took me by surprise. He was quite a slippery little squirt. Finally, the kid settled down and agreed to stand against the wall to be frisked.

As I drove away, I saw the cop handcuff the child in my rear-view mirror. So young to have a record! Tsk tsk.

I considered turning around to help corroborate the woman's story, but I could see that the line at the nearby Starbucks drive-thru was unusually short, so I had to let it go. You just can't help everyone.

Anyway, it turns out it was another good day. Despite the unexpected curfuffle, I was able to get my coffee in a hurry and make it home in time for my date with the TV set. I guess life is good as long as you see the glass half full. Have a good day.

~ Jackie

P.S. Also, hi to Carol and Judy, who are both recuperating from surgery. Feel better soon!

Jul 12, 2014

Exercise: the Myth Unravels

Dear Jackie,
I'm pushing 40 and everyone has been telling me to exercise to stay in shape. You seem to be so together. Do you have any recommendations about a good program for me?
                                                                                                                          -- Queen Connie
Dear Connie,
First of all, I like you. You are obviously very perceptive, as your description of me was spot on. As far as exercising, I think it's a really bad idea for anyone of any age. Mark my words, exercising is just a trend. It will never last.
Injury lurks around the corner for
this poor schmoe.
Compare the lifestyle of someone who exercises to someone who doesn't. My friends who work out and are hardcore exercisers who have a variety of injuries that seem to be chronic. They hurt their hamstrings, muscles and ACLs. I've spent years not exercising just to avoid hurting those parts, and it's paid off. My friend needed to have surgery on his ACL. I didn't. The facts don't lie.

Worse, people who exercise and do cardio workouts often get sweaty. That's just gross. If you were competing with a very sweaty person wearing a jogging suit to a job interview, who do you think would get the job? Obviously the person who wasn't fit. Statistics show that employers don't want to hire people who are fit and smelly.
Now there are some people who shower after exercising. While I admire their desire to be clean, I question their dedication to a green lifestyle. Isn't showering frequently a waste of water and bad for the world? If people knew the facts -- that their actions could deprive future generations of something as essential as clean drinking water -- they'd probably stop exercising. Just sayin.

Exercise is a ticking time bomb.
  Warning: some people might find
  this image disturbing.
If you want to examine whether exercise has any long-lasting benefits, just look at little children. They spend all their time running around and exercising, which leads to crashing into things, getting hurt and whining. They're always falling off the equipment at playgrounds and disturbing the peace with their loud cries. Toddlers especially always have boo-boos on their elbows, knees and heads. Would you rather be around someone like me, who doesn’t exercise, or a snotty-nosed, crying child covered in blood?
Bottom line, more and more people are starting to see that exercising is lame. Years of propaganda by the medical profession have convinced the public that exercising is healthy, but the tides are turning as we find that the risks outweigh the benefits. The experts will tell you that staying in shape will give you a better quality of life, but I had a friend who was a runner for years, and then he got shot in the leg during a bank robbery. Not so quality now.
So reader, if you don't want to get unnecessarily injured or shot, think again about starting an exercise program. I recommend you choose a wiser activity like watching TV while having a snack or two. Do this on a nightly basis, and I guarantee you’re going to have a good time.
Have a fun and safe weekend!
If you have questions for me, just send them to my email, jackiesblog@gmail.com, and I'll share more pearls of wisdom.

May 12, 2014

Mother's Day Madness

This post is dedicated to my mother, whom I first met at my birth. Mom had three daughters in all, but the other two are duds. Regardless, she and Dad provided us with a happy childhood, and she sacrificed for us her whole life. She even learned to cook well after I moved out of the house. You can’t ask for more. Thanks for everything, Mom! We love you. 

This is what my sons would look like if they were dogs.
When I was a teenager, I saw a mom with a baby in her arms and two active youngsters in tow. Though they were little fireballs of energy, she was totally calm and even looked fabulous. “I want to be like that when I get old,” I thought.
Fast forward 30 years, and I realize I’m nothing like that woman. In fact, I hate her. I’d punch her if I saw her today.

What happened to me? I had dreams of being a cool mom. Someone whose presence creates calmness, who little children enjoy, who peers come to for wisdom. Instead, I’m tense, paranoid (only because everyone is out to get me), and people generally avoid me. Even my dumb friends at the Quickie Mart (shout out to Dodie and Lola) keep their distance, as if I have head lice. Which I don’t anymore.
But my husband said I’m a great mom because I love my kids and have done my best to raise them. It’s true. I’ve raised three wonderful sons who still have all their limbs and several shirts, and I call that a win.

How about you mothers? Are you terrific moms like me? What did you do on Mother’s Day?

I just wanted to relax. I asked my family to take me to my favorite restaurant for dinner. Of course, none of my sons bothered to make reservations, so I had to place the call myself, only to learn the restaurant was fully booked for Mother’s Day. As I hung up the phone disappointed, my eyes shot bullets of rage at my sons. They tried to scatter, but I shoved my youngest child to the ground in a fury (the weakest of the boys thanks to a leg brace) and screamed, “Now you owe me!” 

I told the kids they needed to enter me in a Mother’s Day contest at the local pizzeria to win us one free pizza a week for a year. All they had to do is submit a few sentences saying why I am the best mom ever. 
I've heard that even bears can be mothers.
But Hans and Roberto had a hard time describing me without using words like nag, scream, angry, and condescending. And Raphael had trouble describing me with any words at all, on account of his illiteracy. 

I got fed up with their whining. “Listen, I’ve worked my fingers to the bone for you kids, and I've EARNED that free meal every week, so you'd better think hard if you ever want to eat again!” I threatened. I suggested more positive adjectives, “patient, charming, fun-loving,” but one of my sons read the rules, which said the essays can’t be fictional.

My friend Kibbie suggested I tell the boys to write about the kind of mom they would have liked to have had. She said maybe the kids had trouble writing because sometimes I act demanding and unreasonable. I set her car on fire. Who's unreasonable now, Kibbie? 

Anyhow, somehow the boys were motivated to write. The youngest son ostensibly wrote about me, but I have a sneaky suspicion he was just sucking up to the judges: “My mom is the best mom ever because she is cheesy and thick, like your fresh, delicious pizzas. Every time I think of them, it warms my heart and makes me proud I’m Italian, like you fine pizzeria owners. And that's why I love my mom.” 

The oldest son played to the judges’ sympathies. “My brothers and I are so, so hungry. For the love of God, please let us win this contest. Any food you could spare would be much appreciated.” 

The middle son, Raphael, sat on the sofa and perused his picture book, which kept him occupied the rest of the night.

Still, I realized that if two of my sons racked their brains for several days to come up with such beautiful essays about me, I must be a pretty awesome mom. Now this might have already been obvious to you, gentle reader, but sometimes even I need a reminder how great I am.

Anyway, I hope all you awesome moms out there (but not the lesser moms) had a wonderful Mother’s Day.

Your pal,