Thursday, November 29, 2007

Grammar School

I drove to Branson Tuesday to teach a class on Business Grammar.

Business Grammar?


I usually teach it in conjunction with a class on email etiquette because most business is conducted there these days-and where most mistakes are made.

People tend to think of email as a less formal mode of communication and this assumption causes mistakes.

It also makes for very interesting questions.

Do I have to capitalize sentences when I write emails?

That was my favorite.

I've also seen the following written in an email. Someone was questioning inventory on an item and this was the response given.

I'm sorry to inform you that we don't got none of those left.

I'm not a grammar snob, but shouldn't a manager in a multi-billion dollar company know better? Yes-a manager.

I used that sentence in class as an example of what not to write.

This comment came from the back of the room.

But, shouldn't he write that way if that's the way he talks?


Here's the deal.

I'm the queen of colloquialism, Ya'll. I hillbilly it up with the best of them. I sprinkle it in my writing, I pepper it in my speech lest anybody forget I'm from the Ozarks.


I can and do speak and write in Standard English in a professional setting. I refuse to embarrass myself by sounding like an inbred, uneducated fool. (I embarrass myself in ways that have nothing to do with my communication skills. We won't bring up algebra, kay?)

I really don't mind that the rest of the world thinks we walk around barefoot swillin' shine from a jug.

...because some of us do.

I think it is vital for people to embrace their culture. We have a rich history and our speech patterns are evidence of such. However, it just makes me cringe when I hear professional people use poor grammar, ignore their spell check and hold usage errors in disdain.

I also got this comment-same jerk from the back of the room.

Well you know what I'm saying, don't you?-Insinuating that it didn't matter how he wrote it as long as he got his point across, and insinuating I was a snob.

God knows I'm not perfect. I never met a comma splice I didn't like. In fact I love the comma. So I cheat and use dashes so I don't use so many commas. I proofread myself into hysteria when I write my blog-and there are only seven people out there reading the silly thing. I labor over comments I leave in someone else's blog.

Can you imagine what I go through when writing for the professional masses?

Oh alright!

I am a snob.

...or just crazy as a shit-house rat.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Yeah, I know. Thanksgiving was Thursday.

But I'm commenting today, because I just spent time with my chosen family. And for that I am truly thankful.

Today, after ringing up toilet paper and Christmas wrapping for the good people of Southwest Missouri, I went to my second feast of the week-late, but in time to clean up leftovers.

I want you to meet them.

The Matriarch. She reminds me repeatedly that my hair has gotten too long and I need to wear it short again. I'm also told I'm going a little gray. I also took on too much by offering to bring the mashed potatoes and the gravy and the stuffing. I'm working two jobs-I don't have time for all that.

'Chelle-Daughter 1. She brought the burnt pies and set up the craft table. No one wanted to build foam snowmen, but we did anyway because we love her. She also spent the majority of the time griping because, "Mom can't get her shit together! We were supposed to eat at two and it was after three before we even got started." Husband showed up late after he got off at the garage. He had to stop home first and get The Incredibles for the girls. Did I mention the gingerbread man making?

Joy-Daughter 2 and my BFF- "Quit yer bitchin! All of yuz!" She's single and will be everybody's aunt for the rest of her life. She's got a huge loyal heart. She'd like a mate. But she honestly believes that no one could live with her and then sets out to prove it by lashing out at men before they get the opportunity to spurn her. It's a pity really because she's stacked. ...and from what I hear men like that sort of thing.

Pauline-Daughter 3- She and husband live up Kansas City way. We've had the opportunity to spend time with them there and when they come here to visit the matriarch. Those cute little girls belong to them. As we were leaving tonight, Pauline and Husband were screaming at each other over an erased tape in the camcorder. They always keep the party lively. I think heirloom dishes were broken this evening.

Fin-Only son and Big Daddy's BFF. Fin and wife are the picture of stability. When not turning into a hermit in the wilds of SW MO, he can be found lifting his leg and farting on his sisters (of which I have now been christened). He's 42. Of course I could try to convince you that this type of behaviour is eschewed. But it makes us laugh like idiots every single time even as we run through the house to escape it. Is there really something funny about farting or is it a redneck thing?

(Personal aside here. I will belch like my belly's exploded and nary blush a wit, but I WILL NOT fart in front of anyone if I can help it. In fact, I've convinced myself I don't fart at all. It's a comfort to me. Even though the aforementioned BFF reminds me that a belch is just a fart from the mouth.)

The patriarch has passed. Pauline's husband's mother joined us today as did Fin's wife's parents.

'Chelle's boy and Fin's girl are both 18 and were born a day apart. Both were present for the festivites which gets harder to do the older they get. Big and Little were both there too. Though the minute I arrived, Big took the car in order to get to Taco Bell for his 5-12pm shift. They all pitched in though to help the little girls make those beautifully ugly gingerbread men. We've got photgraphic evidence.

How do the Britches fit into this lot?

The usual. We met at work and spent the next 20 years becoming a family-of which there are many types:

The one you are born into who will be there for you through thick and thin....or not.

The one you marry into that sees you as angel or devil depending on the direction of the wind.

The one you create-the sons and daughters you bring into this world. Remember when you looked at your children for the first time and saw them as real people with thoughts of their own? When they were no longer just your babies. Remember the awe?

The one you choose. The friends that become more than friends and yet more also than family.

What defines this grouping?

I don't know. I just know that on this day, in the year of our Lord 2007, I sat in the middle of this mayhem and thanked my God for these people. That I have the honor and privilege of knowing them and loving them.

...and being their family.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Work Stuff

What do we talk about today?

I’m a little fuzzy with my extra job and all. You’re lucking you’re getting to hear from me.

…or unlucky depending on your outlook.

What kind of idiot signs up for a retail job this close to the holidays?
Who in their right mind gets trained on the register two days before Thanksgiving?

Oh, yeah. Me. Heh, heh.

Last night was my first out on the sales floor. The night before I had my ample butt glued to a chair for 5 hours doing ‘computer based learning’.

Yeah, I know. I know. I write that crap for a living with my day job, but writing and producing it and being on the receiving end of it are two completely different things!

But, thank Jesus, I can now clean up a soda spill properly using the correct 'personal protection equipment found at the nearest spill station’. And God forbid, if somebody breaks a bottle of bleach I know to put the leftover product, not in the trash, but in the 'properly color-coded barrel for disposal’. (after of course you soak up the remaining product, put it in a chemical bag, and then a bag liner)

An old boy came through the line last night. His cart loaded to the gills with household stuff-mop, broom, bed sheets, cutlery tray, dishes etc.

Setting up housekeeping, huh?

My wife left me.

Gulp. Oh, so sorry.

Yeah. Some women just aren’t happy unless you come see them every month and a half or so.

We can be demanding like that, can’t we?

While I was in Africa, she cleaned out the house.

OK, I’ll bite. Africa? What were you doing in Africa?

Oh, I’ve been all over-Africa, China. I’m an airline pilot.

Oh, I see.
(He still had a lot of stuff in his cart) commercial or private?

Oh I don’t fly commercial anymore, I have my own business.

That’s interesting.

Thank God we didn’t have any kids.

That is indeed a blessing.

I almost adopted her daughter. Cute kid-love her to death, but what are you going to do?


Are you married?

Yes I am.

Do you see your husband every day?

Yes- and he sees me.

Does that work out okay?

We’ve been married 20 years. I think we’ve caught on to something.

Yeah, I suppose.

Will that be all, Sir?

For this trip. I don’t know how I’m going to get all this stuff in my Escalade. I’ll have to come back later for more stuff.

Your total is $545.76, Sir.

At this point, he made a HUGE production of flipping out 100-dollar bills (from a wad of them in his wallet). Trying to be polite, I looked away. While making change, he said-loudly,

Did I give you six or seven one-hundred dollar bills? I didn’t pay that close attention.

You gave me six.

Thought so. Well, Girls- (my trainer and I) I’ll see you in a few.

Have a good night, sir. Oh-you forgot this bag.

I handed it to him. It held a bottle of Jack and a 2 liter of Diet Coke.

That would have been a bummer

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Drug Test

I’m guessing my urine sample came back clean as a whistle. I have orientation today. Tuesday evening after the second interview, I went round to give my sample. I waited 20 minutes in an empty clinic, until a pleasant male nurse came to fetch me.

Here you go, Sugar. Fill the cup to the line. You may close the door but don’t lock it. When you are finished, don’t flush, don’t wash, just open the door and give me the sample.

Do I get dinner and a movie first?

If I did that for everyone I’d go broke, Honey.

‘Tis life.
I close the door.

At this point I was really wishing I hadn’t peed before the interview. I took the quart size container and try and strain as I may, it took me forever to get what felt like 2 tablespoons of urine in that odd looking cup.

I opened the door.

Here ya’ go. And, ah, sorry. I kind of made a mess.

He takes it.

Without gloves.

Ew. You’re not wearing gloves.

Well from the looks of you I thought you’d have better aim.

You can tell by looking?

I could until now.

Yeah, well. That type of performance requires a talent I don’t posses. Guys must be a whole lot better at this than girls.

Oh no. Guys make much bigger messes.

Can I wash now?

Yep. ‘Cause you can bet the minute I get through with this I’m going to.

What now?

Sit down in front of that PC there. I’m going to bring you your specimen and I need you to initial and date it. I’ll bring you a pair of gloves.

Oh, don’t bother. You already cleaned it up and after all it was my pee. I’m OK with my own pee, it’s other people’s pee I stay clear from. And I’m not too fond of having strangers come it contact with mine.

What do you mean? We’re hardly strangers. I touched your pee.


Now when the next screen comes up sign your name with the electronic pen like you would if you were signing a credit card.

You mean you’re testing it right now? It doesn’t have to be sent off to the lab?

We only send it if it comes back positive. Then that doesn’t mean you tested positive for illegal drugs. Other things can show up. You could also be the odd quality assurance check.

What are we testing for?

You know the usual. Pot, Meth, Opiates-your general garden variety dope.


You’d be surprised how many people make it back here and say, “You know a month ago I smoked dope.” I tell ‘em, “Well then guess what, Dummy? You’re going to fail.”

Riiight. Am I done?

Yeah. You can wait on the results if you want. They could be anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes.

That’s OK. I’m pretty confident.

The little gal at the desk teased. “Did we get another fail?”

“Yup” he said. “I could tell by looking…at least I could until now”

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Growing Pains

Little is in ISS for three days.

He made a remark to a buddy they both thought was funny.

It turned out not to be so funny. The substitute teacher reported it and, Voila! In school suspension-solitary confinement for the most part with breaks for bathroom and lunch.

This means he can’t participate in basketball or band competition for 14 days.

This is a bummer.

We respect the school’s decision and although I feel the punishment far outweighs the crime, we’ll all abide by the rules. He owned up to his misdeed and we are chalking this up to a lesson hard learned.

I am coming to my point. I promise.

Little is the basketball manager. He uses Coach’s keys to the buildings. He keeps stats. He gathers uniforms. In general, he keeps things running. It's a position of responsiblity.

Through this ordeal. (and in Junior High, it is indeed an ordeal) the one worry he harbors is whether or not Coach C will ever trust him again.

He hates missing basketball practice, he'll miss all-district band (A huge honor!) this Saturday. He'll have to make up school work.

...and the one thing that bothers him is losing the trust of a man he respects.

At 14 years old, my son is a man of integrity.

I am blessed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I’ve been gone awhile.

Didn’t notice, did you?

I’ve been fielding issues belonging to friends, family (mother), and finances.

It’s ironic that I can’t write when I ought. The words won’t come when I need to purge the poisons. I keep them. I cling to them and even though they want to come out I won’t let them. They are like a dark blanket that stays wrapped around me. I need to throw it off me because I’m smothering, on the other hand I find strange comfort in its weight.

I’m cleaning out a storage space of Prissy’s belongings. Just a few boxes at a time mind you, but a venture nonetheless.

I found her journals. Depressing bits of business they are. My mother wasn’t and isn’t a happy woman. I had to stop reading. I already had a blanket draped over me and didn’t think it prudent to lie under another one. I kept them though. Journals need to be kept if only to be unearthed in another time.

My mother liked to write.

Her mother still does.

So does Big’s mother.

…so does Big.

He blogs about and posts his work on his own pages. But, I’m showing them here on mine. I never had a bent for poetry. I admire this in him.

All poems were entered into the local language arts fair. His theme was the Trojan War.

Ladies and Gentlemen: I give you Big Britches.

Trimmed trees in the air
Metal flashing, sunlight glints
Country against state
Ships form a most dire plot
Love, truly is left to blame.

Autumn red leaves soar
Clashing against bending grass
The winds of war blow

Walls tumble down
Fields raped-empty and bare
Fires low, embers bright as morn

The widow’s last prize
Raining red upon the ground
Most valiant fall.

At the end of his post he says, “And so I leave you, but with an echo in the lofts”.

Isn’t he the coolest?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Part 2 of Part-Timing

I’m waiting for a second interview.


I was articulate.
I had Altoids at the ready.
I came up with eloquent, appropriate responses to the following scenarios. (And working full time in HR currently, I know from whence I speak.)

Tell me about a time you had to assist someone who was upset with the level of service they were receiving.
Describe a situation where you had to use team work.
Tell me about a time when you had to finish an assignment ahead of schedule.

“Ms. Britches, are you sure you want to run a register?”

“I’ll work wherever I am needed.”

“Well, this position is in soft lines.”

“That would be fine, I’ll work wherever I am needed.”

“I wish you where applying for register, but technically I’m interviewing you for softlines. So you have to interview with them before I can offer you a position.”

“Terrific. I’ll work wherever I am needed.”

“Well, I’ll just tell George tomorrow we want you for the register.”

“Wonderful! Do you have all my phone numbers?”

“Yes. We’ll give you a call tomorrow or the next day.”

I’m still waiting a week later.

My interview was done by a 12 year old. She could barely read the scenarios off of the page in front of her. She stumbled over her words. She was disheveled and chewed gum through the entire interview. When it was over she immediately forgot about me and started flirting with her 14-year-old boyfriend who was waiting impatiently outside the office.

I’m sounding pissy.
I’m acting above my raising.
I’m a little too proud of myself.

I know this.

But, Damn! How is it possible I can’t get a second interview and this little girl was in charge (in charge!) of initial screenings?


Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I have a job interview this evening. I’ll actually be out of the interview before you read this but since I haven’t had it yet, I can’t write about it in time for this post now can I?

I need a part time job. The job that goes above and beyond your full-time job. The kind that gets you through the holidays and helps pay for the nickel and dime-ing of raising kids.

I want to live beyond my means. So…I need more means.

I’m headed to my local Wal-Mart to acquire a job running a register-ringing up sundries in a timely and efficient manner. To be pleasant without driving patrons to distraction with overly bright and perky, yet forced, conversation.

I hope not to be avoided

And we all know the ‘checkers’ to avoid:

-The old retired gentleman that talks too much and takes a year to total your groceries.

-The teenager who pops gum the entire time and grunts when asked a question.

-The lady with the kind face who changes her mind constantly when bagging. She takes things out of one bag and puts them in another and then back again until they are just so.

-The trainee who has to call for help when he can’t figure out the code for purple cabbage vs. green.

-The underage checker. She has to have someone else ring up liquor. And let’s face it, who can take a trip to Sam’s place without a drop before…and after?

…maybe my means are just fine after all.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Granny 3

Hi, Granny.

Hi, Babe. How's your Mommy?

She was in a great mood today!

Oh, good. That makes me worry less.

How are you?

Better than I was.

Have you been sick?

Well, Hon. I've been constipated. I haven't had a good BM in 10 days.

Ew! That's no good.

I know. But I just now got some relief, so I'm feeling better.

Well that is good to hear.

Well you know on top of that, I've got me a case of the hemorrhoids.

Oh, Granny. I've never had that problem.

Well, you thank the sweet Lord for that Honey, cuz it hurts like the devil. The doctor gave me some medicine, but only Preparation H works for me.

Well, I'm glad something does.

You know your poor old Grandpa used to call it 'Precious H'.

Well, I can see how he would see it that way. What's new Granny?

Your Uncle Hippy went out on the truck last week.

Oh, he did. How is he? Does he still drive with 'Uncle' Terry?

Oh, yeah. He also picks up with your 'Uncle' Mike. All three of 'em went out last week together. Do you remember Teri? 'Uncle' Mike's wife?

Oh, Gosh yeah. You're talking about 'little' Teri?

Well, she ain't little no more. She's 300 pounds if she's an ounce.


Yes! She came by last week and told me she'd gotten a boob job.

'Little Teri'? What on God's earth for?

I guess she wanted to take the attention away from her ass. She's lost some weight, but I'll swan it ain't enough to count. How's the weather up your way?

Huh? What? Oh, yeah. Um, well I'm looking at my car thermometer right now and it says 76 degrees and the trees are all orange and gold.

You know me and you poor old Grandpa used to take a walk out on the trail every Fall. We loved to look at the trees. Yep, every Fall and every Spring.

You miss him don't you , Granny?

You don't know how much, Babe. I've gotta go. You tell your Mommy to call me. I love you, Babe.

...I love you too, Granny.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Thursday, May 23, 1997

The last day in Bombay I got to spend with Sunita and I loved it!

She took me shopping first off. Who wouldn't love that? We went to a place called Cottage Industries. It kind of reminded me of a two story flea market in Branson, but with actual bargains and truly awesome stuff. This is were I bought all of my souvenirs. They weren't tacky stuff like what you'd normally find. Or maybe they were and I just didn't know it.

After that was my favorite time in this city. We went sari shopping at the bazaars. Sunita took me to the best sari man in town and, to put it mildly, it wasn't what I expected. It was better! The shops were set up outdoors and (I hate to use this analogy again) like a flea market. Instead of being a store it was more like a booth. The proprietor sat cross legged in the floor and had saris stacked to the ceiling (tent top) on shelves. He had a helper that would shimmy up the shelves to retrieve and then refolded and put away. The owner was there strictly to barter and collect money. He never stood up the entire time I was there.

I showed Sunita what I wanted and she bartered her ass off. Those two were just going at it. When she was satisfied, she nodded. I got some of the most beautiful fabrics I've ever seen in my life and got it for a song. Next, Sunita said I needed petticoats and a protective binder to protect and create a hem for my fabric. I ended up getting those, yards and yards of silk, and five packages of bindis for about 27 American dollars. Unbelievable.

After that she took me to get some sugar cane juice. There was a cart set up and long stalks of sugar cane laying around. To make the juice, the vendor took stalks of the cane and put it through a press. Juice would come out the end and into a cup. Then he halved a lemon and squeezed the juice into my cup. It was very mild-not nearly as sweet as I anticipated.

Sunita lives in a 'joint family with my in-laws and brother and co sister-in-law'. She has a three year old son that loves lions. We sat and swapped family stories and even though we live across the world from each other it was amazing how similar her life was to mine. She was my age, had a job similar to mine and kids the same age. I just didn't feel that different from her-other than the physical. She kept lamenting the fact the only thing I would see of India was Bombay. 'I wish you could come to my home. There the air is pure and we are surrounded by great beauty'. I'm kind of bummed too. But I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.