Friday, December 30, 2016

Thoughts from Cheyenne

Hello from I-80, Cheyenne, Wyoming. It's actually 45 degrees here on a December afternoon/evening, but the wind, the wind is still blowing. Oh, Wyoming.

So after checking in to our hotel we went to this little sub place in a little strip of stores near a grocery market...Silver Mine Subs, perhaps?

While waiting for our food, a postal worker in uniform came in to order some take-out. She spoke great English but it was obviously her second language. And she looked darling in her uniform--she wore it well, you know; by the way she wore her complete uniform you could tell she was a completely dedicated employee. And she looked tired. Bone tired. She actually put her head down on her arms leaning on the table and closed her eyes for a few minutes while waiting in a booth. She got two bowls of chili, but I don't know what else she ordered.

So I thought about her, as I do about so many people on this planet (if you only knew). I wondered which Asian country she calls "home." I wondered if she was married to an American. I wondered how long she's been with the USPS. I wondered if she had little kids at home. And then I assumed some things.

I assumed she was raised in a place where New Year's is a REALLY BIG DEAL. I've only lived in one Asian country (Japan), but I've had friends from other Asian countries and New Year's is better than Christmas. And then I assumed she would have to work tomorrow as well. And I assumed she wishes she could be home to clean, clean, clean to bring in the New Year properly. And she probably needs to shop and cook. And I assumed Sunday might be her only day off.

Mostly I assumed she was going to eat and bathe and go to sleep. And do it all over again tomorrow. In her full uniform. Because that's how her parents raised her. And she is making her way in America. For whatever reasons. She is on her way here in Cheyenne, Wyoming. And I wish her the best. I'm in her cheering section. She has no clue how much my heart goes out to her.

I really hope the chili hit the spot.

Friday, December 23, 2016

My Heart is Full AGAIN

Children singing melts my heart. The generosity of parents with Christmas gifts blows me away. The sincere note of a student touches me to the core. I keep praying, "Heavenly Father, please help me to be the kind of teacher they need. Help me to do my best for them!"

And I'm exhausted.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

I Was Approached in the Parking Lot at the Store Tonight

Hey, so I went to the grocery store by myself this evening just to grab a couple of things. In fact, I didn't even need the cart to take the stuff to my car--I just carried the bags in my hands. As is my habit, I used my remote to pop the trunk in order to put the groceries there. I closed the trunk and then clicked the remote once to get in on the driver's side. As I did so, someone called out to me from behind, "Ma'am?"

Well...I felt I needed to jump in and lock the car, so that's what I did. And then this couple, a man and a woman, came up near my window and said something I couldn't quite hear. Leaving my door locked and my window up, I said, "What?" And then she said, "This guy...hit your car." They both pointed to the rear of my car.

Well, I wasn't born yesterday. My mind flashed through a couple of things. First of all, I certainly didn't notice any damage back there while putting the groceries in the trunk, but hey, it was dark, so maybe I missed something. I have heard a lot of stories lately about people loitering around someone's car while they pump fuel or pounding on their car after they get in as if there's an emergency, so I was on high alert. Other questions flashed through my mind. Were they just waiting around like good Samaritans to tell me someone hit my car? How long had they waited? It's cold outside! Why not leave a note on the windshield? Also, there were two of them and one of me. No, I wasn't going to get out of my car. I didn't really think about how to phrase things, but this is what automatically came out of my mouth after she told me some guy hit my car:

"How can I believe you?"

That was it. That's all I said/asked. They both scrunched up their faces, threw their arms in the air while shaking their heads in disbelief, and walked off. Their message could have easily been interpreted to mean, "We're trying to help you, Lady! How dare you question us?"

Well, if they were such good Samaritans, they could have called the police saying they just witnessed a hit and run. Like I said, they could have left a note on my windshield. They could have taken a photo of the vehicle's license plate. They could have told me immediately rather than watching me put my stuff away and then waiting to approach, from behind, just as I had unlocked the driver's side door. Do good Samaritans wait patiently for the driver of the car that got hit to come out of the store and then get all huffy with her if she has trouble trusting them right off the bat?

I thought about calling dispatch from there, but I called my husband instead. I didn't want to get out and look at my car, not knowing where this couple was. I didn't want to call an officer until I knew if it was real or not. My husband advised me to drive home so we could look at it together, and guess what, there is a scratch on my car, however, I'm suspicious enough to wonder if that couple scratched it on purpose before approaching me. It's just a scratch and I'm not experienced enough to know, in the dark, if it's from a vehicle, a grocery cart, or some other object. I did call dispatch when I got home and an officer did call me an hour after the incident, reporting that he saw no one of that description in the parking lot (really, an hour later, probably not). My main concern was to report it in case there are more situations like this that come up in the area. It's just a little scratch so we're not too worried about that.

As I explained to the officer, it could all be legit. Maybe someone hit my car and maybe those people were so incredibly nice and just trying to help. But until I have more evidence of that, I'm calling it a scam. Maybe they wanted to hijack my car. Maybe they wanted to steal my purse (I wasn't even carrying a purse). My husband said he wouldn't have even called dispatch, but I smell something fishy, Fishy, FISHY, so I did call.

Be careful out there!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Costco's Macaroni and Cheese

I can just imagine the Foods and Marketing Committee for Costco. One day they were in a meeting, tossing around ideas, and answering their Big Question, "What's next?"

And then one member of the team hesitantly said, "I'm just gonna throw this out there. I know it sounds really simple, but...just like our pumpkin pies...what if we came up with America's perfect Macaroni and Cheese?"

One of the collaborators softly snorted and asked, "Dude, are you serious? Mac and Cheese? Everybody does Mac and Cheese! We need to get adults with money to buy stuff, not kids without wallets."

And then, a perfectly choreographed feeling of assurance hit every team member as if on cue. In unison, they all asked, "Why haven't we thought of this before?"

One pitched in, "We'd have to get it perfect, really. Spot on. Perfect."

And another offered, "Big, fat, fluffy noodles. Bigger than all the other Mac and Cheese on the market."

And the one who questioned the whole thing chimed in, "It has to be simple. So simple that They will LOVE it!"

Someone typed into their shared doc, "Big, fat, fluffy noodles and cheese and butter. What else? Milk maybe?"

And so the recipe was tweaked a time or two and samples were given out and surveys were taken and, and...and it was a GO!"

Comments from the general public included, "This is the kind of leftover dish that I ate for breakfast. I felt bad my husband couldn't take it for lunch that day...but I didn't feel that bad."

This was the genius idea that all started at a little team meeting. And now, folks don't bat an eye at spending $9 on noodles and cheese, because it's that good."

Sunday, December 4, 2016

My Husband is Amazing (for like the 372nd time)

I was really sick on Friday. I felt "weird" when I woke up that morning, threw up in the shower (never happens), thought I had passed that trial, made it to school, and nope, it wasn't over yet. I knew I would surely feel better soon because there was simply nothing left in my belly. By the way, I never felt ill like the flu, rather, my guess is food poisoning because I perked up rather quickly. So I stayed at school, partly because I didn't have some copies made for a sub (couldn't fathom pulling anything together for a sub, so much easier to just make my way through the day...and yet, it was a long, hard day and I couldn't attempt eating again until I returned home), but the other reason I wanted to stay on was that if you miss part of a Friday, they count Saturday and Sunday as sick days also! Yep. And if you're absent Monday morning, they count that you were sick on Saturday and Sunday as well, even if you truly weren't. They assume you're sick on your weekend days. So I stayed. These are two of the reasons teachers willingly choose to go to work sick: too much trouble to make lesson plans for a sub and too much punishment for being sick on the first or last day of the week.

Can I just thank all the teachers who have abused the sick leave policy which brought us to this point of getting nailed for being sick on a Friday or a Monday? The district grew tired of all the "sick" leave/three day weekends and "sick" leave/four day weekends, so now we have these rules...and you know what else? They don't really tell you about them up front. I only know because I've stayed in touch with a rep from a former school.

All those surgeries I had...I thought I was being a good teacher by scheduling them on the last day of school prior to Fall Break or Thanksgiving Break or Christmas Break, you know, so I could heal over vacation and only miss ONE day of school in order to spare the kids from having a sub for too long. Stupid, stupid, stupid. ALL those vacation days were counted as sick days for me. I know of a teacher who was fired for taking too many sick days. Never mind she had a malignant brain tumor and died, she was sick too often and her administrators had a record of it. So she was fired and lost all of her health benefits just when she needed them the most. Her poor family! That's why if I have to make a medical appointment during the school day (because no one schedules anything early enough for you to get to work by 7:30 a.m. or late enough for you to leave work at 4:00 p.m..."our last appointment of the day is at 4:00 p.m."), I'll take just a half day of sick leave, on a Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday, never a Monday/Friday. I don't want to be caught taking advantage of my employer!

That's why I returned to work early after my knee surgery in April. I bit the bullet and scheduled the surgery on a Friday, but that's because Friday was the only day the surgeon does his surgeries--not my choice. I went ahead and planned to be absent the whole week after that which would have meant I would have been absent a total of 10 days (4 of those days Saturdays and Sundays). However, I was feeling pretty good, and I waited to see how my body was recovering, and I decided to return to work the following Friday which meant I only had 7 sick days! See what I did there? Saved myself from being "sick" a whole three, unfair, days!

But anyway, the title of this post is to honor my husband. He turned on the electric blanket, got a trash can for my bedside (but that part of the sick was long over), brought me some water, tucked me in and let me sleep on Friday afternoon and evening. When I woke up he made a cup of chicken broth for me. I slept all night and felt so much better, except for the pain I felt when laughing, having the hiccups, or sometimes breathing (you know all the chest and gut muscles that get strained from vomiting?). I have a huge final project due for my graduate class on Tuesday and although I've been working on it all along, I still need to devote more time to it, so I left him yesterday to head to school to work without distraction.

While I was gone, he cleaned both bathrooms. I did not request this. Everything is clean, sanitized, towels washed, all three rugs washed, garbage emptied...they look beautiful. He also did other laundry and dishes. He went to the grocery store and got the mail. And then we went to stake conference. He made dinner after that. Marriage is not a system of score keeping and paybacks, but seriously, I need to find a way to pay him back and spoil him and support him however I can, because he is so very good to me.