He’s Talking and Can’t Shut-up!

Just to set the record straight, I am not referring to people that love to have conversations.  I adore an intellectually or fun conversation. I am talking about people that really seem to lack the ability or perhaps self-control to stop themselves from talking.  I have known at least four of these folks very well and three are relatives. The key difference with the non-related gabbster is that, unlike family, I eventually chose to break ties with her.  I have also had a few dates with men that make others suffer from their talking affliction.

 I will start with a chatty guy whom I had the misfortune of spending an evening.  The scene played out something along these lines. I have never been out with a man named Zeke, so I will call this fictional, representative example dude,  Zeke. Zeke represents my loquacious dates from Hell.

 Zeke and I agree to meet for dinner since going to a movie or other type of show would not allow for conversation and a chance to get to know one another better.  The date starts normal enough with us greeting each other and he offers one of the standard compliments that men like to give to women. “You look great, or pretty or hot or some other meaningless adjective, but he is being polite and I appreciate that.  As the host walks us to our table Zeke engages him or her in a brief friendly chat asking them something along the lines of if they were having a good day or if they have worked long at this location. Thoughts  pop into my head that he is a friendly person that likes to be considerate to folks that work in the service industry. Zeke earns a brownie point. Initially, I don’t notice too much about how he doesn’t really wait for the host’s response but proceeds to tell them some kind of short tale about himself that lasts until after we are seated and doesn’t stop until the host finally spews out the name of our server and how they will be with us in just a moment as they make a quick escape.  I write the Chatty-Cathy verbalization off to first date nervousness and even appreciate the time to calm my own first date jitters.

 Zeke turns his attention to me and asks a question about something like my line of work, hobbies, interests, kids….typical get to know you inquiries that also imply genuine interest.  Zeke has just earned his final brownie point. My first cue should have been that I didn’t get to finish my first sentence because Zeke’s eye’s lit up as if new synapses in his brain have just found the cure for cancer.

  Before retiring I made my living as a professional counselor so I became quite adept in the art of active listening.  I didn’t even have to remind myself to focus and make mental notes about the things he enjoys, his accomplishments, his kids, his ex, his car, his job, his hobbies and all of his other stuff.  I briefly had thoughts of things that I could add to the conversation but would soon push those thoughts aside and return my focus to Zeke’s babble. Again, I blame part of this on my profession and training to focus on the other person.  Just because this was a date rather than a therapy session switching gears doesn’t come naturally. I think it is a lot like the way judges and cops don’t like to sit with their backs to the door and chefs can’t help but identify the seasoning and herbs swirled into dishes prepared by others.  Sometimes even random people at places like ball parks tell me all kinds of things that I didn’t need or want to know. My ex-husband used say I had a little neon sign over my head that I couldn’t see but the unstable of the world could clearly read as saying, “Free therapy.”

Most of us know the torture of feeling we are being held captive by an incessant talker

 By the time the check arrives Zeke wants to make plans for a second date while all I want to do is resist the overwhelming urge to poke myself repeatedly in the temple with a fork and escape to my own, very quiet home.  The best thing about Zeke is that, unlike family, I can avoid him. I have met more Zeke’s than I care to recall.

Back to relatives.   I don’t remember my sister being overly loquacious as a child.  But when she popped back into the family after disappearing for years (we later learned she was vacationing at “Club Fed”) she had developed a quite impressive talent for talking without the need of pause to inhale, chew, swallow or even drink.  Thank the Lord she lived 60 miles away and my parents knew to not share my address. Seriously, it was that bad.

 At first I would answer all her phone calls.  I still had landline back then and limited cell phone minutes so the call typically ended when my cordless handset was totally drained of battery and I felt equally lifeless.  All I had to say was hello and every twenty minutes or so bleat out an uh-huh or a hmm. I suppose she liked having me listen and the calls became more frequent.

Due to the inate human desire to survive I learned a few tactics to shorten the calls,  My favorite was to open my own front door and ring the doorbell. I could then blurt out, “There is someone at the door, I’ll talk to you later”.  She wouldn’t stop talking to say goodbye but it helped ease my guilt when I would click the off button and return the handset to it’s cradle.

 That,  along with a few other tricks, helped until she caught on and started returning the call just moments later.  Once in desperation I answered telling her that my husband and I were trying to have sex for the first time in a very long time and asked that she not call back for several hours.  She didn’t miss a beat and informed me that in twenty minutes not only would we be finished but I would be showered and making dinner while he either napped or sat like a toad in front of a football game.  I sadly realized that if we had actually been about to do the deed her time frame would have been spot on. That was when I quit answering her calls and praised the Lord for whoever invented caller I.D.

 About 2 months later I felt guilty for not talking to her.  I reasoned that she was lonely and I needed to be more compassionate and I answered the phone.  Had she asked why I had not been taking her calls I was prepared to sarcastically remind her that my husband and I were having sex.  She didn’t ask and immediately started to pour her verbal vomit into the airwaves. In desperation I put the phone down on the coffee table and went on with my house cleaning.  

 I truly felt bad when thirty minutes later I walked back into the living room and remembered the phone.  I picked it up to click it off and heard a voice. It wasn’t the Lord admonishing me for my rudeness it was my sister’s voice coming through the phone.  She had not even noticed that I wasn’t listening!

 I experienced an epiphany moment!  I said a quick mmm and put the phone back on the coffee table.  I got dressed to go to the gym, put the dishes in the dishwasher and after wiping down the countertops I again picked up the phone.  She was still going strong. I interrupted her announcing, “I need to go to the gym”. When she continued on as if I had said nothing I simply put the phone back on the table, picked up my gym bag and my car keys and went on with my life.  At some point while struggling on the stair climber I wondered how long she would talk before she would realize the battery on my phone had failed, or maybe she wouldn’t notice and would continue to relish the confabulation.

 I wonder if this could be hereditary.  An aunt from my father’s side of the family has tried to reconnect.  She sent a Facebook message letting me know she wanted me to tell her about how my niece had found her biological father.  This was more recent and I made the call from my cell phone while also walking my dog.

 She let me say two, possibly three sentences and then she opened the flood gates that must  have been holding back years, perhaps decades of words. After thirty minutes of not getting to say a word I tried to steer the conversation back to the story she had said she wanted to hear.  She didn’t even acknowledge the interuption and continued. I must say her lung capacity is amazing for an over 70 woman that smoked Camels for most of her life.

 I relaxed my bicep and let the hand clutching the phone glide down past my hip where it picked up the natural sway of walking.  I could still make out the words she was saying and a couple of times I even raised the phone back up to my ear because I thought she was going to let me speak but that didn’t happen.  Eighty-four minutes later when my pooch and I had made it back to our home I brought the phone up to my face and told her that I had go and clicked it off.

Before I retired I would occasionally find myself trapped in my office by a nonstop talker. Fortunately for me, the receptionist was amazing and usually saved me. She would call into my office or tap lightly on the door to tell me I had a call I needed to take or that my next appointment had arrived. Of course there wasn’t a call or person waiting she was just rescuing me.

 I decided this must be a type of mental illness but according to the DSM V it is just a symptom most likely frequently associated with anxiety or ADD.  I have a theory that it can be a symptom or indicator of narcissistic personality disorder.

How would you or do you handle family or others that just won’t stop talking?  Maybe the talker should start a blog. Hmmm, uh-huh, ok.

I will hush now before you label me as I have labeled others! Have a blessed day that includes some peaceful silence.

Thanks to Jason Rosewell, Corey Hearne, Cristen Hume, Kristina flour and Wynand Van Poo from Unsplash.com for allowing the use of their photographs.

It’s Just a Bad Day

There is an extraordinary children’s book titled, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  If you that have children anywhere from 5 to 35 you are likely familiar with this classic story. Alexander has all kinds of things go wrong such as having to wear his railroad train pajamas. Readers quickly realize that Alexander’s stressors are not so horrible when considered individually, it is in their culmination that they mount up and make him want to move to Australia.

The photo albums of my relatives and my childhood are priceless to me.

  Today was one of those days. I confirmed that a close relative committed a lie of omission regarding the family photo albums. It really bummed me out because I can’t for the life of me figure out any reasoning behind this hurtful act. That was the catalyst.

  I had several errands and appointments to take care of which started with the doctor. He gave me a good report, well kind of, but suggested a five day script and said if it didn’t help that I should see and orthopedic. Yeah, kind of passive aggressive good news.

  As I went to my next stop my mind wandered to several people that I love that are dealing with some really serious stuff. Granted, their stuff is the kind of stuff that I can’t do anything about or help them find solutions, but that is frustrating. I have always been a helper/fixer and it is tough when I know that people I love are struggling and there is nothing I can do beyond listening.

  The next stop was at Lowe’s. In November I had purchased a battery powered blower and weed clipper. They were used only a few times since winter was coming on but I liked both of them and it was super convenient that they both used identical batteries allowing me to have one battery charging while I used the other.  Now it is early June and one of the batteries will no longer take a charge. GRRR! The customer service rep told me that they couldn’t replace the battery but if I brought in either the blower or trimmer I could get a whole new unit. Cool beans, even it is meant going back with the blower.

  A few hours later I went back and a different rep informed me that they could not exchange the blower as I had been told because the model had been discontinued. I wasn’t happy but I was kind and polite as I explained that I had now made two trips into the store with no results. In the end I walked out with a battery for the blower which was what I had hoped for when I first went in. That is the highlight of the day thus far.

  I am in need of some traps for wood bees as they are buzzing around my deck.  It seems that no one has informed the wood bees that they are not supposed to enjoy boring holes into pressure treated lumber. I had arranged through Facebook Marketplace to meet up with a local guy that makes and sells the traps.  I had about 40 minutes to spare and decided I would go by my gym and use the time for my weekly dose of carcinogens by spending 15 minutes in the tanning bed. No problems there other than I would have to come back for my workout after the purchase of the bee traps.

The sound of metal crunching into metal was sickening.

  As I waited in the turn lane to leave the highway and enter the Walmart parking lot I was suddenly jolted forward and heard the sickening sound of vehicle crunching. The lady behind me had just hit me.  I put my SUV into park and got out. She inspected her bumper and informed me it wasn’t hurt (I resisted saying, yeah so…) I was pleasantly surprised to see that my SUV had only a small dent and a scratch in the bumper. She did not apologize or ask if I was ok.  I suggested that we go ahead and pull into the parking lot and that I would call for a police report. She was quite indignant and spoke as if I were evil. “You are going to report that little scratch?” I informed her it was a dent and that I wanted a police report. I also walked behind her truck and snapped a photo of her license plate figuring with her attitude that she might very well drive off.

  Once in the parking lot she proceeded to tell me about the times that her vehicle had been hit and yet she had not made the person pay or get an accident report. When that didn’t work she told me that she had lived a hard life. I tried to be compassionate but I didn’t waiver from wanting the police report and I didn’t tell her but I was realizing my back was hurting a little.

  As the police officer was giving us both back our licenses and proof of insurance another car pulled in and she announced it was her son. A large angry man got out and proceeded to look at my dent. He started to rant but I decided that Mr. Policeman could deal with him and I left.  I was able to finish the bee trap mission since while I waited for the police I called the bee trap craftsman who agreed to drive over and sell me a trap.

  I am home and I have no intention of going back out today.  I think my back will be fine in the morning and my dog was as happy as ever to see me return.  It is not just 5 o’clock somewhere, it is 5:25 p.m. right here and I am having a glass of wine as I remind myself that it isn’t a bad life, it’s just a bad day and those happen (even in Australia). Perhaps I should rethink Australia as a travel destination.  It is a crazy long flight but it is a long way from here and today that sounds good. It was just a bad day, it isn’t a bad life.

Wishing all of you a Good Day and a Good Life!

Thanks to the following for use of their photos; Keith Zhu, Serge Esteve, Laura Fuhurman, Daniel Watson and Benny Jackson

Forget The Do Not Call List

Alas, there is little we can do about the unwanted calls we get that want to convince us that we have won a cruise, must pay our taxes (even though they have already been paid), need a hearing aid or suffer from back pain.

Don’t be rude, sometimes the poor soul on the other end of the line is actually trying to earn a paycheck.

The reason such calls really infuriate me is that we all have times that we can’t risk not answering the phone. Perhaps you have a loved one that is hospitalized or in a care facility, you don’t want to risk not taking that call. Likewise we don’t want to miss a call telling us that person of significance has been in an accident or is in urgent need of our assistance. When my mother was in a nursing home and with Hospice the wonderful workers would at times call me from their personal phones in order to get information to me in the most timely manner possible.  

I realize that the person at the other end of the line may be trying to earn an honest living.  There is a small chance that s/he is not a con artist and for that reason I am not rude. Not being rude doesn’t mean however that I can’t do everything in my kind and polite ways to land myself on their do not call list.

I first did this about 30 years ago when we all had a landline and caller ID was a thing of the future.  The phone rang, during dinner as per usual.

Hello

Hello this is Sebastian and I am calling to tell you that you are already approved for a Mastercard.

Wow, that is good news!

Great, so you are interested.  I just need to get a little more information.

Sebastian, that is the best news I have had in weeks.

Let’s get started, I have your name as…

Sebastian, I am sorry to interrupt, it’s just that I am so happy.  You see, my husband and I have fallen upon some hard times. It seems he lost his job at the Piggly Wiggly and I am off on maternity leave with our fifth little bundle of joy.  They repossessed out only car two days ago and we are in a real pickle. How quickly can you send this Mastercard?

Hello?…..Sebastian?…..Are you there?…..He hung up.

Fast forward to present day when these calls come at all hours.  If you don’t answer they just call back in a few hours or if you block the number they simply use a different one.  It can be quite frustrating. My solution (since at the present time I am not anticipating any urgent calls) is to have fun with it.

Today I got a call from Marco who informed me we were talking on a recorded line.  I inhaled sharply and in a panicked voice informed Marco that I had not given him permission to record me and that he needed to destroy the recording immediately and send me any and all copies of the transcript. Marco hung up without a word.

Yesterday it was Grace that called telling me that according to their records either I or someone else in my house had recently inquired about hearing aids.  I put on my sweetest voice and told Grace that she was correct. Why just the other day Bella completely ignored me even though I was shouting her name and I felt certain that she needed to have her hearing checked by a professional.  I told her that Bella was so intent on chasing the neighbors cat our of our yard that her hearing had evidently temporarily shut down. Grace hung up. Bella is, of course, my Labradoodle.

Perhap the next time I get the call about hearing aids I can respond by saying things like, “Huh?” or “Can you speak up?”

Last week Juan called and asked to speak with Suzane (pronounced Soo-Zane with a long a).  I politely asked if he meant Suzanne. He again mispronounced my name and said it again with a long a. I patiently instructed him, “Juan, it is pronounced Suzanne.”  Juan was starting to sound a bit snippy and tried again this time calling me Susan.

“Juan,” I consoled, “Let’s take just a minute or two and I am sure you will get it correct, it is pronounced….Juan?….Hello?….

I have a few more in my arsenal that have yet to be used but should be good for a laugh or three.  Maybe the next time I get the call telling me that I have won a cruise I will whisper in my most sultry voice and ask the caller to tell me what they are wearing.

When they call and demand immediate money in order for me to avoid being imprisoned I think I will take on my best childlike voice and ask, “Is that you Daddy?, I knew someday you would find me!”

Another good one would be, “I am really busy at the moment but if you give me your personal number I can text you some pictures, I bet you would like that now wouldn’t you?”

You get the idea!  If we can’t stop them from calling us we can at least make it entertaining!  

What is your favorite way to handle unwanted calls?  Let’s get creative and share the joy!

That’s Ridiculous!

  Caution! After reading this post you may experience a heightened awareness to the many ridiculous things that we all encounter on a day to day basis.  Some make us laugh, others may cause us to shake our head thinking, “Huh?” or, “seriously?” Sometimes I encounter over the top ridiculousness that makes me question the intelligence of the human race.

    Vegan leather. That is what the tag read on a handbag that I noticed while out shopping a few weeks ago. Do they think we are stupid? The tag should just read Fake Leather or Vinyl.

    A few days later I was shopping in the gardening department when I spotted Organic Choice potting mix. Hmmmm? Isn’t all dirt organic unless we add non-organic stuff to it? Furthermore, is calling it Organnic Choice the same thing as it actually being organic?

    How about a book (available on Amazon) titled The Ultimate Guide to Fasting.  I admit that I like food so fasting isn’t something I do on a regular basis, but do we need a book to tell us how to not eat?  From what I can see in the book’s description it isn’t a guide for people fasting for spiritual reasons. If that were the case readers might need to know the parameters for their particular faith.  Does anyone actually need 66 pages bound together to say what can be said in two words. Don’t Eat!

    I asked some friends to tell me about things they find ridiculous.  One friend told me about crazy things she has seen on actual product warning labels. For example, a warning on a baby stroller that instructs the user to remove the baby before folding up the stroller.  A microwave oven that reminds us not to use it for drying a pet. A shade for a car’s windshield that instructs the driver to not operate the vehicle with the sunshade in place. The most ridiculous part is that such warnings were likely generated after crazy consumers actually did these things.  They walk among us.

    I bet you have heard advertisements for chicken in which the company boasts that their poultry is free from added hormones.  You can find it on packing throughout the poultry department in grocery stores. Do you know why this is ridiculous? It has been illegal in the United States to give chickens or other poultry hormones or steroids since the 1950’s.  If you are worried about hormones in your food then you need to shift your focus from chicken and pay attention to what is in beef.

    Try hard, do your best, give it your all.  How many times have we heard coaches or teachers say that to a group of kids or athletes. Many also add statements that they want  them to give 110%? Businesses sometimes ask their sales team to give 110% or maybe even 150%.  Ridiculous! All you can do no matter how hard you try is 100%. Yet we wonder why so many kids don’t understand math.

    Several years before I retired I found myself in a meeting with three other school administrators.  The task the principal had called us in to complete as a group was to construct a letter to the parents of our students to explain the meaning of their most recent standardized test scores. That made sense, it was a new test and the scores needed to be interpreted differently than those in past years; it was logical to send a written explanation.

    We all agreed the letter needed to be contained to one page and that it should be easy to understand, free from educational mumbo-jumbo-lingo-alphabet soup as possible.  One of us had previously constructed a draft letter to get us going. Changes in words and punctuation started flowing as rapidly as kindergartners heading to the playground.  I mistakenly thought that we would finish quickly and be able to get on with what I thought were more important tasks such as teaching and interacting with students.

    After an hour passed I excused myself to the restroom. Granted, I didn’t actually need to use the facilities but I was starting to be frustrated at the immense waste of time.  I spent a minute or two in the bathroom stretching and trying to get back into the proper frame of mind.

    I returned to the meeting of the minds hoping that in my absence they had wrapped things up. They were still plugging away on the second paragraph. THE SECOND PARAGRAPH!  I honestly tried to focus on the letter but my mind insisted on drifting off to the expense of the letter. I started guesstimating how much our collective pay was for each hour.  My best estimate was the letter was costing the school system $180.00 per hour. That is over the top, crazy ridiculous. It took over three hours to get the letter to where the powers that be thought it was perfect. One letter, $540.00. I bet the parents that glanced at before tossing it in the recycle bin would have been less than thrilled to know about its cost.

    More recently while working as a freelance writer for a small magazine I was asked to report about an upcoming event that was to be sponsored by the local hospital.  I was given the name and number of the person to contact to set up an interview. The lady on the other end of the phone, let’s call her Margaret, got all excited and started rattling off the names of various hospital and community people that she would need to assemble together for this interview.  I politley informed her that the magazine had recently changed their format and that they had given me strict guidelines stating the story could not exceed 700 words and that they really wanted me to keep it lower than that if at all possible.

    Margaret insisted on knowing my submission deadline and when I told her it was three weeks away she informed me that she wanted to hold off for awhile so that she could give me the most up to date details. I again told Margaret of the 700 words limit, asked her to decide the information that she deemed the most critical to share in the article. Margaret gushed on about how my little article would be so crucial to their event. She said she would contact me the following week with a day and time for us to meet with “her people.”

    When ten days had passed and I still had not heard from Margaret I called her again.  She again went into lengthy details of how this person and that person could only meet at particular times.  I was polite but all I wanted was for her to give me a time and day. When the conversation ended she again failed to do that.  

    With one week left before my deadline She finally called and asked that I meet them late Friday afternoon.  My deadline was 8:00 a.m. Monday. I told her that I really needed to meet earlier in the week because I had weekend plans, didn’t want to work on the weekend and wanted enough time to proof read the copy before I sent it in. That sent Margaret into more jabber about all her people’s busy lives.  I made a mental note that I would not accept future article assignments that would cause me to have to work with Margaret. I actually would have backed out except I knew it was too late for the story to be reassigned and I didn’t want to let down the magazine editor who was very kind and professional person.  We compromised with me meeting them at 10:00 a.m. on Friday.

    It wasn’t surprising to me that half of Margaret’s team didn’t bother to attend the meeting even though she had preached to me about their importance.  My first question to the group was, What were the most important points that they would like to have emphasized in the magazine.  Silence. I looked around the table and four sets of eyes looked back at me with blank stares while two other sets of eyes remained glued to cell phones. Over the next hour I managed to squeeze enough information from two of the people to eek out an acceptable blurb of just under 700 words.  As a freelance writer my pay was low but I wondered how much the hour long meeting with various hospital staff had cost. You can bet it was ridiculous.

    Sunday night and Monday morning I received numerous text messages from Margaret wanting to give me more information.  I ignored her but part of me wanted to reply telling her that she was being ridiculous (and rude) and that her lack of planning was not my emergency.

    Let’s talk about airlines for awhile.  Unless you don’t fly I bet you have stories to tell.  My most recent flight was booked on short notice. I needed to fly to Texas on Christmas Day to see a dear relative for the last time.  I had a previous experience with American Airlines that prompted me to declare that I would never again board one of their air crafts. I had to change my mind because the only way to get from my home to Waco Texas on Christmas was to fly American.

    To keep this post to a reasonable length I won’t tell you about everything that went wrong but I want to tell you about the most ridiculous part.  My first leg took me from Lexington KY to Charlotte NC. When the next plane took off from Charlotte I had an uneasy feeling and I am not typically a nervous flyer.  After about 15 minutes in the air the pilot came over the speaker to inform us something was not right with the plane and that we were returning to Charlotte where they would either fix the issue or put us on a different plane.  Take a look at these pictures of the replacement plane they used. There are things held together with tape! This is the plane that was used because the other one was in worse condition! Say it with me, Ridiculous!! I paid almost $700 to fly on a plane held together with duct and scotch tape!

Now it is your turn to share about ridiculous products and situations that you have encountered. (Please note that I will not approve comments about political or complex social issues)

Thanks for reading and I hope that all of your ridiculous encounters are of the humorous variety.

Photo credits to Hunter-Newton-1 and Aron-Visuals 322 on Unsplash, and yours truly