What can I say?

Customer, struggling to understand why the 2 for $3 bags of shredded cheese ring up for more than $3 when she buys three bags:

“Sorry, I’m not very computer illiterate.”

________

(In other news, our mayor plans to announce another successful zombie-free year for the city. /joke)

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Mis-Expressed Lane

Today I’m on the Express Lane. (“12 items or less” — that ought to read “12 items or fewer”, but groceries are hardly models of grammar and punctuation.)  I’m not a “number Nazi” — if the other registers are busy, I don’t care if you’ve two dozen items; my goal is to get you checked out and on your way.   It’s a good thing I’m on the express lane, because I have to keep pausing:

“Ah-CHOO! Ah-CHOO!” I remove my face from my elbow, and turn back to my register, where I rub my hands with sanitizer foam.

“Hi there!  Did you find everything for which you were looking?”  bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep “Any coupons?” bleep “Okay, that’ll be $14.67, if you please.”

“What if I don’t please?”  grins a puckish guy.

“That’ll still be $14.67,” I grin back.  “Out of $20?  That’s $5.33 in change, there’s the 33 cents, and 5 — ” I screw up my face long enough to turn away — “Ah-CHOO! Ah-CHOO!” I remove my face from my elbow, and return back to my register, where I rub my hands with sanitizer foam.

“I got my receipt.”

“Thank you; here’s your bag. You have a good day.”

Two hours later, I’m still sneezing.  (Twice at a time; I sneeze twice, my kids sneeze twice, and my grandson sneezes twice.  Funny what-all the genome encodes.)

One of the mysteries of retail is that no matter when people arrive at the store, “everybody” wants to check out at once.  There are lulls, and then there are lines, and lulls again that enable me to wipe the schmutz off the scanner glass, straighten up the candy bars, and finish unwrapping partially-peeled rolls of coins.

Hah-CHOO! Hah-CHOO!” Once again, I remove my face from my elbow, and return back to my register, where I re-rub my now-chapped hands with sanitizer foam.

During such a lull, I speak across the eight-feet gap to another checker, “Are you wearing perfume?”  When she replies affirmatively, I surmise, “Oh, that must be why I’m sneezing.”

“Oh, it’s not very strong.  And I only use a little.  It smells very nice,” she asserts, sniffing her sleeve, “I put it on at 5:30 this morning!”

So what if that was hours ago? Hun, if I’m sneezing this far away, it’s stronger than you think.

Ah-pppbllh! Ah-pppbllh! *sniff*” I go up to the Customer Service desk for a handful of tissues, and return to check the next cluster of customers.

Come the next lull, she wanders over, defensively insisting that her perfume isn’t strong.  “Maybe I’m catching something,” I offer as a conciliatory alternative, wondering if my affect had not come across the right way earlier.  She appears to be one of those really social people who liked to chit-chat with others, and I’ve begun to realize that in such interchanges, style trumps content, and “verbal grooming” trumps practical considerations.

Thankfully this was just a four-hour shift, because my night’s sleep had not been much longer than that.  I go home for lunch and after my short nap, am not surprised to find that I’m no longer sneezing.

And that, O Best Beloved, is why I don’t wear scented body products during any of my jobs.

Gribbles are better than tribbles

Who would have thought that a small isopod could be so chibi-cute, have a fun name, and be potentially useful?

Pair of teeny 2mm pale-peach isopods with 7 pairs of legs (Simon Cragg/Graham Malyon/Institute of Marine Sciences, University of Portsmouth)

The gribble (Limnoria quadripunctata) is an aquatic relative of the woodlouse (pillbug), that eats tunnels along the surfaces of wooden objects, such as driftwood, boats, or piers.  This latter habit makes the gribble generally unwanted. However, recent news describes how scientists at the Institute of Marine Sciences, University of Portsmouth and the University of York have been examining the guts of these wee creatures to identify digestive enzymes.

When termites eat wood, they don’t really digest the wood theselves; they have bacteria in their guts that break down the cellulose into smaller molecules. But gribbles are able to digest wood directly. If the enzymes can be easily produced, then the gribbles would be an inspiration for the biofuel industry, because any kind of material could be used, even insoluble stuff such as straw or willow.

Bugs to the rescue, again. Once more, they did it first!

Re-tailored

Golly, it’s been some time since I’ve written a post. It’s not for a lack of thoughts, but rather energy.  My sleep has been disturbed by nightmares for, well, months, and the cumulative effect wears me down in the evenings.

This I had posted over years back.  As the saying describes, Friends come and go, but enemies hang around. I thought I had laid to rest some of those old demons, and perhaps I had, but now they reappear, previous horrors conflated with the memories of new experiences.

TAILOR-MADE

Tailor-made, I was.
Though all my clothes hung on me
And I was awkward as hell
Shoelaces usually tripped undone
And my hair ties came loose.

Tailor-made for being the victim
Geeky, younger, smaller, four-eyed,
Clumsy, studious, totally clueless
Socially awkward, unpopular
And best of all, face-blind.

I never knew who it was that poked me with pins
Stole my purse, squashed my lunch
Took my street clothes while in gym
Groped barely-developing breasts
Slammed me against the lockers.

Smeared clay on my chair like shit
Marked on my books, tore my assignments
Called me names, oh so many names
Or briefly pretended to befriend me
To make me the butt of a joke.

Not that I didn’t protest repeatedly
I reported the abuses properly
Told many official, protective people
Friends, family, teachers, administrators
But their responses were unilateral

“Boys will be boys,” said dad.
“You’re just being whiney,” said mom.
“If you can’t tell us who these people are,
that you ‘think’ are doing things to you,
then we can’t do anything,” said the officials.

Perhaps the real problem
Was not in what I said,
But that I was speaking up.
When I asserted myself
They redefined my reality.

Saying that what I perceived did not exist
That I was crazy, hallucinating, or on drugs
That I was just trying to attract attention
That I was making things up
When I wasn’t.

The perfect victim is someone
Who can’t identify the people that did things
Who tries to be good and please people
Who misses danger cues
Who is easy to silence.

The anger and frustration at being disbelieved
Turns into confusion and self-doubt
Maybe it’s just me
I must be wrong
Everyone says so.

Depression sinks in
I must be crazy
I keep perceiving this as reality
When everyone says it isn’t so
Isn’t that the logical conclusion?

You must trust people to help you
They are important people
They are the ones in charge
They know what’s best for you
They keep asserting you’re wrong.

When the reality is given to you by others
And they keep changing the story
It’s hard to keep your facts straight.
This is of course is only further proof
That you are crazy, and making things up.

Trust is earned, not demanded.
Funny how trust erodes
When reality is allowed to reassert itself
And I re-assert myself
Even though they re-assert:

I’m just acting out and making up stories.