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Monday, December 6, 2010

Purveyor of Stories

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.
~Author Unknown

Two years ago, I began riding the train to work. Granted there were buses I could have taken previously but those involved transferring and other interruptions and, this new train route boasted a full uninterrupted 40 minutes ride each way while dropping me off and picking me up in front of my place of employment. I couldn't resist for very good reasons. One was to save on parking costs downtown, of course and my job pays for a significant portion of my train pass so it was a good budgetary move. But the real reason was, the train ride to and from work would allow me to luxuriate for 80 minutes in my favorite pastime - reading books.

There you have it. I am a book junkie. I guess there are worse things to be addicted to. During extreme episodes of jonesing, I've been known to sneak into the bathroom stalls at work just to get in two or three pages of my latest paperback. In fact, if the book was good enough, I'd put off fixing dinner, doing laundry, walking the dogs and whatnot, just to delve fully into my reading. What is it inside of me that is so twisted that I would prefer living vicariously through the lives of the characters in my books, all the while reaping the benefits of their happiness, crying with them in their twisted sorrows, feeling their pain, frustration, terror and injustices?

I've been reading books since literally, the day I could read. Wintry, snowy nights of my childhood were spent with all members of the family curled up comfortably in every nook and cranny of the house, each of us lost in our stories, oblivious to the world around us. A lot of the books I read are recommended by friends or family but when I buy a book or pick one out at the library, I read the back cover. If that along with the title speaks to me, I go on to read the first couple sentences of the first chapter. If that grabs me, I'm hooked and the book is mine. I'll read anything but I prefer rich novels that span generations or book series whose central plot defies accepted norms. Then there's the 'why did i just read that' books. Tales that were unexpectedly or otherwise twisted, leaving a foul imprint on my mind, making me want to sleep with the light on, or constantly look over my shoulder. No matter what work of fiction I am furiously devouring, I dread beginning the last chapters. Anxiety of having to forever say goodbye to the characters I have grown so close to is enough to make me slow down and to savor each and every last word.

The thrill of finishing a story is undeniable, in a sense, too, because I never ever put a read book back on the shelf. For it is pure pleasure to be the purveyor of stories, passing on the books I have consumed to others who are awaiting to immerse themselves into the narrative time warp. I have sisters, a mother and couple of friends that wait patiently for me to announce I have another book for them. And do I ever. Each week I finish a book. Each week I get a call from a sister asking for the next book. Each week I make special arrangements to get that book to her. The books are passed on and on, only rarely returning to me. And that's the way it should be. No house should have a big library, for those books are just sitting on shelves collecting dust and bugs. But every house should have an open book that is read every single night, whether alone or to another. Books give us occasion to escape, just for a while. A chance to live in someone else's shoes without the repercussions of their actions. An opportunity challenge our convictions and to add insightful chapters to our world view.

Now, I've really got to go now because even though I love writing, I love reading more and I've got to get back to my novel, the characters are missing me!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Righteous Hissy Fit

you may think i'm on quite the roll in dealing with bitchy people lately. i guess, after all i am on a roll. but i have just one more story to share.

i have this skin cream i get from the medicinary at the local naturopathic college. it is the only herbal cream that helps my sensitive skin and all the conditions that affect it including allergies, intolerances, accidental contagion resulting in a rash, and on and on. a while back, i found that a natural grocery chain was selling it in their stores and yep, it was a couple dollars cheaper there, not to mention a lot closer to my house. so, i started buying the cream at the grocery, that is, until one day, i arrived and found it gone from the shelves. I inquired with the sales staff and was told they actually were not legally able to sell it on the shelves so they had to remove them from sale but the good news was, they could order it for me at the same price and it would be here within a week. i probably go through a 1 oz container every couple of months so it's not a bad investment. i call in my order about a week before i know i'm going to run out so i can pick up a new container just in time. this process has gone well, until of course, now, hence, the reason for my blog post. otherwise, you know, i'd never burden you with this useless information otherwise.

as usual, i called in my order just before my cream was about to run out. i waited the usual week but never got a call that my order was in. then the holidays hit and i was distracted by lazy days, late nights and other important stuff like that. when the second week passed, i called the store to inquire. to my complete chagrin, the order was never ordered. alright, mistakes happen, yes, they do, so I was promised by 'Karin' that she would order it and it would be here on Thursday! Wait - Thursday? Thanksgiving? Karin corrects herself and tells me no, it will be here Friday and that I will get 10% off for wasting my time (the latter part in my own words).

so, i wait actually until Monday to go, just for convenience sake. Monday I walk into the store to pick up my order and lo and behold, it is not there. that should be no big surprise by now, right? it takes the lady, Karin again, to even find my order. when she does, she verifies it really has been ordered this time but it wasn't even ordered until the day before. now my blood pressure is beginning to spike. what is wrong with these people. furthermore, what is wrong with customer service everywhere. cannot anyone do their job? i do keep these thoughts to myself but I am so dissapointed. i really need my cream. i tell karin that she told me it would be here. karin denies it, all the while, i'm wondering if she is going to wipe her runny nose that is dripping way to close now to her lips.

luckily for me, the manager walks by and karin brings her into our conversation, explaining away the events of the last 21 days. i feel the need to put in my 2 cents so i reiterate the fact that my first order request was 21 days ago and that i am a frequent special orderer and this is just really disappointing. the manager, without even a smile or an i'm sorry we screwed you, says, your cream has been ordered and when it gets here we will call you. we will also give it to you for free. FOR FREE? no way! how cool is that. i try to hide my total joy at not having to spend the extra money that i really do not have, plus the fact that luckily this time, i ordered the bigger bottle, so i'm really getting a serious deal here.

i thank them and continue on my way.

i think the moral of this story is that in customer oriented situations i have learned to somewhat behave myself when i don't get what i want or what i expected. instead, i have learned how to have a righteous hissy fit by playing (sincerely) the role of the poor woman done wrong. it unexpectedly got me a truly surprising bonus to what was otherwise a situation tilting towards my inherited ability to throw a public tantrum.

unfortunately, i got a call from the manager again this afternoon that the special order box came in and my order was not in it. before i could reply with a loud WTF is wrong with you people, i was informed that my product is out of stock and that it would come in as soon as the company received more. and yes, i could still get it for free. well, ok, then, as long as i don't have to pay for it, then we're all good. i nicely thanked her, hung up the phone and smiled.  it's the small things that matter sometimes.