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6:06 p.m. - 2012-07-30
Paint me a picture, why don'tcha?

More on the dog bite story:

Someone from the county board of health called this morning wanting more details, specifically the dog owner's info. I'd missed the call and was giving the mental stink eye to the guy who'd left the message because he rushed through his phone number leaving something which sounded like, "29G-28RB". A dandy robot name, perhaps, but fricken useless to use as a callback number. I loathe when people do this. Is it really so difficult to speak clearly and slowly enough for the person receiving the message to hear the phone number correctly? When I leave a message I identify myself with a first and last name (if needs be), my phone number, why I called and then repeat my name and number at the end of the message. In a clear distinct voice and slowly enough so if someone is writing it down they have time to do so on the first try. I don't assume their phone automatically recorded my phone number. I don't assume everyone I call just knows my number either even if I'm a friend or regular client. I understand phone technology has progressed well beyond my Luddite ways, but I'll go to my grave leaving polite and coherent voice mail. I'd rather the person on the other end roll their eyes and think, "Yo! I got it the first time, I'm not stupid," than make someone replay my message 3 or 4 times just to catch the phone number I'd left in a blurry speed rap. Or force them to scroll through all the incoming calls from that day looking for mine.

It's a manners thing. I am cursed with an irrepressible case of good manners. Which to paraphrase L.M. Montgomery in one of the 'Anne' books is that good manners and etiquette aren't about getting the rules 100% correct, but are for making those around us feel comfortable. One of the best pieces of advice I'd ever gleaned from reading fiction. The other best advice (source unknown) being that when introduced to someone don't listen to your name, listen to theirs. Then use it immediately ie: "It's nice to meet you, Marion." That way you're never put in that awkward position of saying, "Sorry, I didn't catch your name," later on in the convo. Too many people go into an introduction listening for their own name and don't pay any attention to the other guy's. A bit of advice which stood me in good stead when I was selling cars. I made many a sale because I'd taken the time to learn my customer's name, look them in the eye and acknowledge them as people and not just wallet-bearing suckers who could be hustled into a deal. Something most of my fellow salesguys never did understand. They were forever insisting my fabulous sales record was solely due to my mesmerizing cleavage. Assholes. Tits don't sell cars- caring, smarts and respect do.

The useless ex-husband was terrible with names. (Huge surprise. His head is so far up his own ass he only sees daylight when he yawns.) Early on I learned to stick out my hand and introduce myself when someone stopped Mike to make chat while we were out. I knew darn well Mike didn't have a clue what the guy's name was. So when someone hailed the dimwit ex at the mall or whatever I'd smile and say, "Hi! I'm Mike's wife, LA." Whereupon the other guy would go, "Hi! I'm Joe Schmoe and this is my wife, Nancy." Then we'd all know who was who and there'd be none of that tense polite chitchat and ignoring the wives because the ex didn't know how to work me into the conversation without admitting he couldn't remember the other dude's name.

Raise your hand if your spouse has ever after one of those brief, "Hey! How ya doing?" convos they've turned to you and said, "I'd have introduced you, but I couldn't remember his name!"

Uh huh.

If on occasion I miss the name or there's been too many in too short a time I've learned to smile and correct things with a friendly, "Wow, that was a hurry-up job. I'm LA, btw, in case it got lost in the shuffle." And always always the other person gives me a relieved grin and reintroduces himself without any hurt feelings or embarrassment.

Making things easier for the other guy. The true purpose of manners.

Something that rude dope from the health department could learn. Pronto. Because you know what? When I finally did get connected with the guy who'd left the message he was just as rushed and rude in person as he'd been on my answering machine. Look, I know government jobs tend to attract those too incompetent/stupid/lazy/misanthropic to manage in the private sector, but jeeze. This guy called me in the first place! And then he acted like HE was doing ME the favor when I gave him the information he needed for HIS job.

Dude, put a little gratitude in your attitude. Your job on the public tit isn't that secure. Might want to keep your people skills a bit sharper. Just some friendly advice.

Tomorrow is MIL's 74th birthday. I found out she'd blown off my dinner invitation because (Stop the presses!) SIL has whomped up a luncheon at her house. We're due at SIL's tomorrow at 11:00 to use the pool, fete MIL and eat some crappy delivery pizza or some other lazy bones food stuffs SIL will provide.

Whatever. It's MIL's birthday. If this is what she wants nobody at Casa Sage is going to argue.

My first thought toward MIL's gift was to make her some eggplant parm anyhow. I'd make it, bake it, and divide it up into individual servings she could keep in the freezer and nuke whenever the whim took her. But last time I was at MIL's she made a point of saying she was trying to get rid of everything in her freezer so she could give it a good cleaning and start fresh. Rotten timing, that. So. Stuck for a gift I finally decided to paint her a picture. Mick has gotten her a gift card and a hug from Wolf is sufficient for my son's gift, but me being the fuzzy end of the lollipop and basically on MIL's shit list for the rest of my life, I couldn't figure out anything appropriate. What the hell do you give your husband's mother when she's made it clear she loathes you? Some might say that including me in on Mick's gift would be fine, but I'm not a one for catty sniffy games. It's her birthday. So what she'd blown off my offer of her favorite dinner? So what she thinks I'm a piece of garbage? As I said in a recent entry, other people's behavior is NOT the arbiter of my own. I am going to a birthday party tomorrow and I am not going empty-handed.

Perhaps it's arrogant and a subtle "Up yours" to give her an art piece of my own making. But truly the subject matter was chosen just for her. I wouldn't have painted such a trite thing if the painting didn't have a very specific recipient. I'm not that great of a painter and I'm still fumbling my way through the intricacies of using acrylics well, but it's a personal gift. One I'm doing my best on and it's meant to be pleasing to her. I could have painted some crazy multi-media thing. An homage to Klee and Miro with blobs of color and angles and a meaning that was meant to be ferreted out by fans of abstract. But I haven't. I painted MIL a birdhouse. One of her special things. She collects them. MIL has dozens of birdhouses hanging from the trees in her yard and has her especial favorites on the mantel in her living room. It's still in progress, but it's a nice birdhouse. I honestly hope she likes it. I try not to give loaded birthday gifts.

Manners, you know?

Or maybe I'm just a schmuck. ~LA

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