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Change

Blog entry

I went to the local gift shop at lunch today to buy bus tickets. I used my last one this morning and like the ~10% discount I have over paying cash for my fare. That, and the fares are such that I rarely have exact change so I round up and end up paying a 10% premium on my fare.

So I went to the shop. They were out. Maybe tomorrow. Okay, worst case, I can break the twenty so that my $4.50 fare doesn't cost me $20.

Nope. Won't open the till without a sale.

I left.

After work, I walked to a bigger pharmacy / quick mart for bus tickets. Everyone told me the store carried them. Great! They are four blocks out of my way, no big deal, and I need the steps.

Except it is pouring rain. And I didn't bring a jacket. Fine. Worth getting wet to save $15. I tromp off and am duly soaked.

I arrive and hop in line. Eventually I arrive at the cashier. She looks bored. "No, only [she rattles off two stores each four blocks farther away than where I want to be]. They have them."

"Okay. Can you break a twenty?"

"No. I can't open the drawer."

Today has not been the best of days. I'm about three more frustrations away from bursting into tears. "Okay," I say. "Can you help me? What do you suggest I do? What is the cheapest thing you can sell me? Can you sell me something for a dime?"

She looked around. "I can sell you a bag for a nickel."

"Great! Could I have one bag, please?"

"Yes." And she rings up one plastic bag, of which I have no intention of taking with me.

I hand her a $20 bill. She types in 0.05 as received cash, and the drawer pops open. "Whoops!" She says, and slams the drawer shut.

"Don't shut the drawer!" I exclaim. "I just want change!"

"But I'm not allowed to give out too many coins."

...

...

...

"I don't want any coins. I want the five that you have in your hand. Here, I have a nickel, too." I fished out the nickel.

She put all of the money back in the drawer, and hands me a twenty.

Now I do want to cry.

"Can I have change for the twenty?"

"Oh! Yes." And hands me 4 fives, instead of the ten and two fives she had previously.

At this point, I just want to leave. I fear my voice has been loud, in a space where everyone is quiet and soft-spoken. I am near tears. I am cold and wet and, well, let's be honest, somewhat hungry. I just want out of there with change for the bus. Please?

So, I took the bills, declined the receipt, possibly unintentionally rudely, and left, into the pouring rain, feeling miserable.

As I walked out of the store and turned left, a homeless guy (according to his sign) was sitting under the store's eaves. I pulled the bills back out of my pocket, took one, shoved the rest back into my pocket, and handed the guy the five.

I don't know how his day was going. I hope that five helped him find a dry place to sleep tonight. If nothing else, maybe he'll go back into that store and buy something, putting the five back into the till that was so difficult to get it out of.

Deadline (Virgil Flowers)

Book Review

Virgil Flowers, Book 8

Okay, finally, I have finished the publish Virgil Flowers series. All eight books. I can finally go back to reading the the "boring" technical books I have started. About time.

This book was fun. As typical, Flowers ("that f'ing Flowers") has multiple crimes going on, and he is investigating them all at the same time. We learn more about Johnson Johnson in this book, which is great. No fishing, but lots of bad guys. There's a murder (or a few) and one point where we find out, though only briefly, that Flowers is human.

The odd thing about this book is that Flowers pretty much had everything figured out by 43% of the way into the book. Yet, the rest of the ride, the remaining 57% was still engaging.

I laughed out loud many times, with the dialog in the book, reading some of it to the people around me because it was so amusing. Mom commented to me that she had laughed out loud with this book, and it was her favorite Virgil Flowers book, so, yeah, it's recommended. The plot is shallow but engaging. The dialog is amusing, quick-witted, and entertaining. Having read the previous 7 books helps with some of the references in this book, but isn't required.

Besides, this book had beagles in it. What's not to love?

Recommended.

Storm Front (Virgil Flowers)

Book Review

Virgil Flowers, Book 7

Okay, so, this one was a twist on the f---in' Flowers plot lines: there was no murder to investigate. I rather like that about this book, and the storyline. It was an adventure, a high-speed car chase. While some people were shot at, no one died. What I found most peculiar, and delightful, is that everyone in the book specifically didn't want to kill people. There wasn't a hair-trigger "let's go kill me some people!" reaction that seems prevalent in most mysteries / adventure / action / westerns books. It becomes a little uncomfortable because, well, it's a thought process so far removed from mine that it's, eh, yeah, discomforting.

I enjoyed this book. It ended amusingly. I recommend this book if you've liked the series so far.

That all said, what really hit home for me in these books is the level of communication that Flowers has with his boss, Davenport (who is, I'm told, the central character in Sandford's Prey series of books). Flowers keeps his boss in the loop on his activities, relies on his boss for help (because, really, that's what a manager is supposed to do: enable his employee to do his best), helps his boss when he can, and delivers results.

I don't know why I hadn't noticed it in previous books, it really stood out for me in this one. I like it. I don't like telling people (read: leads and bosses) bad news, but if I don't tell them, they can't help me at the exact point I need the most help.

I think, along with my super-powers speaking shirt, I am going to start using my Flowers over-communicator. I like that personality facet of Flowers.

Even if he is a fictional character, I can still be inspired by him.

520 days

Blog entry

521 days ago, I realized I wasn't keeping in touch with either of my parents as much as I wanted to be in touch with them. I wanted to be in contact with them frequently, so that they knew I was thinking about them, that I was hoping they were doing well, that I love them, and that I was hoping they were healthy and enjoying life.

I had recently started using Habit List on my phone, so I added "Mom" and "Dad" to my daily habit list tracker to start the next day. My goal was to contact Mom and Dad very day for a year. Could we stay in touch daily for a year? Phone calls, emails, texts, visiting, all of these counted as "staying in touch." Sending a text by itself didn't count as staying in touch, they had to respond and engage in a conversation for me to be able to say, "Yes, I contacted each of my parents today."

I didn't let on what I was doing until about 10 months in, when I told Mom how well we had been doing. She didn't realize the streak we had going, but immediately jumped on it. She embraced the idea and switched from being the responder to the initiator on most conversations. We made it 365 days, and have kept it up longer, even through some difficult-communication travel days when she didn't have cell service (used my aunt's phone or emailed) or I was travelling with very strange hours (hello, New Zealand).

We are currently at 520 days in a row we have communicated with each. I love this.

Dad and I have missed 6 days in those 520 days that Mom and I have managed. Dad's phone completely died, so we lost a day there. I forgot to text one Wednesday, inventory day for Dad, and he was too busy to notice, so we missed that one. We were talking a couple months ago about how we had managed to miss each other only 2 times in the first year, and he was stunned. "I knew we were chatting a lot, I didn't realize how much, though!"

I think this is great. I'm very happy I have the opportunity to connect with my parents this way, that we are able technology-wise to communicate daily in non-stressful ways, that we are able to support each other even from long distances, and that we have the relationships where we want to do this. I am grateful for the years, and hope they know how much I love them.

Maybe 520 daily reminders in a row will show a small dent in how much.

No screwdriver in my backpack

Blog entry

"Well, phooey. I don't have a phillips-head screwdriver in my bag."

"That's normal."

"It is?"

"Yes."

"Not to have a screwdriver in your backpack?"

"Yes."

"Oh."

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