One of Those Days

I woke up Tuesday to find that a cat had used the nice warm little black box that is my modem as a chamber pot. I called tech  support at my ISP, and the nice man assured me, “Any all in one modem/router will do the job. Just go to Best Buy and they’ll fix you up.”

Off I went to Best Buy(25 miles away), and sure ’nuff, that fella told me the ONE combined modem/router they had on the shelf would work just fine. He was sure. Trust me, lady.

I trusted him, though I knew installing the danged thing was going to be an Ordeal, and worse, when I got to the grocery store (to pick up the week’s cat food, of course), I could not find my phone. I looked ALL over my car, my purse (referred to as the Vast Lonely by my daughter), I said the Saint Anthony prayer OUT LOUD (’cause silently is cheating). I went back to Best Buy and combed the parking lot, I asked inside the store…

No dice. But I know where the phone store is, so I bought a replacement phone, which meant the towering annoyance of salesmen who know all about up-selling and nothing about customer service–and I do mean NOTHING. And even better–you knew this would happen–as I’m driving away from the phone store, I hear that little notification bell on my old phone.

I had looked under the seat, but I had not looked hard enough, apparently. But heigh-ho, I’m in good health, I have my purse, I have a functional vehicle AND a back-up phone. Stop whining, Grace Ann.  Got home, ready to set up the new modem, and… it’s not wireless. My computer has no ethernet port, neither does my splitter.

Bad words. Many bad words,  but wait a minute. Before we embark on Lunar Landing 2.0…

I save all the little silicone packets from new shoes, bottles of supplements and so forth (see Potato Famine gene). I stashed my dampish old modem into a tupperware container on a quart of uncooked rice with all my silicone packets.

The next morning, it worked. First thing I did was order a back-up wireless, router/modem combo; second thing was fill out an on-line survey about the lousy behavior of the salesmen in the phone store. Sorry guys, but you tried to mess with the wrong little old Luddite, and I haz the words.

I’m struck by two things about this day. First, it was inordinately upsetting to have two pieces of tech go AWOL on the same day–ridiculously upsetting. Panic-attack upsetting. Second, the three men upon whom I relied for tech support and guidance all let me down (St. Anthony, as usual, came through.) Two were simply incompetent (but quite confident); the phone store crew… as Sir Walter Scott put it, they moved me to “oaths too vile to be rendered upon the page.” (I love that kinda talk.)

I now have back-up tech in place, lest I be at the mercy of the incompetent again, and I’m really glad for a stupid little baggy full of silicone packets.

Do you have some Potato Famine/Depression/Granny Always Said… habits that have come in handy lately or even Saved the Day? What moves to you Walter Scott levels of frustration? I’ll add three commenters to my ARC list for My Heart’s True Delight (which is off at the proofreader’s!).

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42 comments on “One of Those Days

  1. It is funny, isn’t it, that when some Sales People (and I include folks of ALL genders)encounter a *Woman of a Certain Age* they automatically assume you know nothing about whatever it is they are selling. No matter what it is they are selling. You showed them with your Words, didn’t ya, and I bet they will hear about it too.

    I have been cooking up a storm and can hear Mom and the Grandmas voices in my mind when I make their recipes. Sometimes a food-or smell–memory is stronger than any other type of memory. Remembering them cooking whatever I am making helps calm me during These Days. Their homely household tricks are always in my repertoire of Life Hacks so nothing–and everything–in particular is helping me get through! 🙂

    • My mom used to store Yardley soap (out of the box) in our linen closet. I smell Yardley soap, and I’m eight years old, playing hide and seek, and hiding in that linen closet. We had a dryer, but Mom hung the sheets outside on a line to dry, and between the sunshine and the lavender, that linen closet smelled like heaven.

  2. “Sweet Thursday is what they call the day after Lousy Wednesday, which is one of those days that are just naturally bad…” John Steinbeck. Happy to hear your tech was sorted and a sweet Thursday followed letting them have the words.

    My current frustration is being ghosted, esp. in the name of the new normal. I don’t have sufficient words.

    • Ghosted isn’t good. My sister has grandkids in Denmark. From infancy up, Sunday night was time to Facetime with Mormor (Swedish for grandma). Nobody on the grid should be ghosted–no wonder you are tempted to cuss.

  3. My mum was a stickler for polite manners,we were reminded of our manners when we were out and about in public or family meetings.Mum taught us how to speak to people nicely.It mattered then and it should matter now but it is something that has been lost along the way.Everyone is so involved with this must have—“Oh I can’t live without this or that.Care and giving a service to others seems almost a lost cause.Giving help and advise to someone who needs to purchase from their store and spend their well earned money,this should be a priority for managers/training etc.But sometimes I have been bowled over by a sales person that is helpful and pleasant and knows what you are wanting and doesn’t give a load of Tipton reply.These lovely sales people must have had a good upbringing by their parents because it is instilled in them to be kind and helpful.
    on reading this back I see instead of the word I wanted to use it has spelt tipton.It was a word to describe rubbish(it was not rude).Even my laptop plays up sometimes!!!.
    hope your week turns out to be better and calmer and that your feline friends stick to the correct bathroom zones.Because it has been very hot here I sometimes leave my front door open to let the fresh air in but I have been visited by a Siamese cat who comes in,looks around and sometimes stays awhile.So far we have not had any accidents so he must be house trained.His home is not faraway.It’s nice to see him and I chat to him,he just looks back with his sharp green eyes and the Royal visit is over.Cats—so very confident in their self esteem.

    • When my dad was enduring eighteen months of hospice at home, a neighborhood cat would occasionally strut in through the back door, head straight for Dad, and have a chat. I think he liked that Dad wasn’t moving around very much, and Dad immediately noticed him and paid attention to him. Dad was always pleased to see that cat, but never wanted us to get him a cat. As you say, visiting royalty…

  4. My father taught me how to play checker and chess. His goal was to teach me patience and to think ahead.I suppose he wanted to have someone to play chess with In the winter.

    I have learned to be patient with my husband….most of the time.

    We have slowly been updating and fixing our home & yard as Darling Daughter has finished her degrees.

    This year we got rid of the nasty carpet in the living and dining
    room s and installed hardwood floors. Of course, I wanted a lighter stain and he wanted a darker stain. The contractor agreed with me . Rugs- I Let him choose.

    Now, it’s furniture shopping time, the most stressful thing for us to do as a couple. We have had major arguments over what to buy, colors styles…It’s awful.

    I was determined not to argue again. We agreed on bookcases, end tables and tv console. He had to change the stain and drawer pulls. Three week delay for custom finish…sure.

    We need either a couch and 2 chairs or I can keep my pretty couch and get 2 chairs. The pretty couch would look good in the upstairs hall nook until DD moves out. Then it would go in DD room as part of a sitting Tv room. That’s my plan anyway.

    Husband found a lazy boy…which doesn’t match anything. He doesn’t want a new couch and chairs. I want some thing to match…not a mishmash of furniture. I offered a compromise- lazy boy and new matching couch and chair. Didn’t work.

    So, I am being patient and waiting him out….after 3 trips to furniture stores…I am done. I told him my next step is to order 3 bean bag chairs with our names on them from Pottery Barn.

    Being patient and compromising has its place. And I am hoping that I have a place to sit soon.

    • Oh, my. I think of you as “Sweet Sue,” always so kind and supportive, patient with co-workers, a great mom…. It’s nice to know that you stand up for furniture that MATCHES. Good grief, what is that man thinking? We spend so much time at home, it should be a harmonious, pleasant place, not a shed to store the Lazy-boy. Geesh.

      • Grace
        He can have a lazy boy.
        I don’t want a mish mash of stuff in there.
        I want comfortable seating that looks nice.
        Pottery barn bean bag chairs are looking pretty good now!

  5. Yes indeed I do have a potato famine gene that helped out during this virus craziness. I keep a stock of canned goods (don’t live in the country and don’t have a garden :*( ). So instead I keep a supply of canned soups/canned salmon/tuna/veg’s and lots of other supplies besides that my family has made fun of me during the past. I also like stocking up in winter so had plenty of TP, wipes, bleach, for the quarantine weeks. Hearing my friends and co-workers complain, I felt so happy I’m a bit of a zombie apocalypse preparer (LOL). I will continue to keep the supplies stocked so if this happens again or I get too sick to get out for a week or two (God forbid) I won’t be worried about starving or running out of what we most need.

    I hate that you experienced the tech sales pitch and lies. I have been told the same thing about a modem in the last five years, went online bought one got it two days later (no internet for that long …. booooo) and of course it didn’t work. I call and talk to a different tech person and they explain only certain models of modems work for their service. Oh right, of course, that totally was what the other guy said. Needless to say, I have since learned to second and third opinion on these types of matters. Never ever believe what only one of them has told you. Sad, but true.

    I am glad you got it all sorted out and have taken steps not to be in that situation again. Have a great and safe August. 🙂

    • I wouldn’t say I’m a prepper, but there’s something of the Depression in the way my parents (who both lived through it as children and adolescents) raised me. I don’t want stuff I’m not using, I want the stuff I do have to work, and for life’s necessities, always have a back up plan. (And good chocolate).

  6. I’m feeling your pain. 3:19 this morning I’m jolted awake by every lamp in the house flaring to life + attendant sounds of assorted electronics rebooting. (My lamps all contain WiFi bulbs controlled verbally because physical unfirmity) Alexa announces she cannot access the Internet, so I roll out of bed, trudge past the angrily flashing lights of signal boosters confirming WeHazNoInterweb & survey the magic box. Red light where there should be green. I do the unplug, chant to 30 incantation & replug. Still no green. We Iz SCREWED!

    I do aerobic trudging about the sprawling hovel turning off roomfuls of lamps & electronics manually & eventually fall back into bed invoking the powers of darkness on a certain 3 letter + & symbol provider & their made in that country which shall not be named cheapness.

    With dawn, I am able to see to trudge to the far gloom of the garage to check their box to the street. No lights. I punch the GFI reset button & lo, the door opener flight comes on & we haz green. Including one next to the Battery Missing. Yes, the techs from a formerly Ma Bell monolith can’t be bothered to give me backup power to bridge the hours & the gap in service. More words invoking the fury of whatever ancient gods might be listening upon the corporate idiots who cannot be bothered to install battery backup in the lightning capitol of the planet.

    There are reports that a magnitude 5 earthquake hit North Carolina & radiated all the way to states adjacent to our Grace & myself. Can it be Someone besides the Sainted Anthony is listening to the imprecations of frustrated older ladies?! Mayhap we mutter so rarely & with such power that the heavens take note?

    Meanwhile, I have made it a point to express my heartfelt gratitude to the higher powers that such inconveniences are ALL I have to gripe about & my appreciation I woke up at all on both occasions. Life is good & both cats & men have their finer points, even if their faults are currently on prominent display.

  7. While I’m not QUITE a packrat, I do hang on to lots of things. Seems like that odd piece of furniture or equipment will be just what I need at some point in the future. My home office is a complete mishmash of “stuff” I’ve accumulated, but it’s perfect for me.

    • I don’t pack rat, but I’m not big on domestic management generally, and I’ve been in the same house for decades. Time for some death cleaning, methinks, once the weather moderates.

  8. After having lived in South Florida a few years, I learned what to have stored in case of a hurricane. Also, I lived in Utah a bit, and you can’t help but absorb some of the area’s predominant folks’ penchant for disaster preparedness. Add to this my way of dealing with anxiety – imagine the worst that can happen and figure out how to be ready for it – and I was ready with supplies for being at home during this craziness. (How can people still be coming to my store asking where the thermometers are? When thermometers have been sold out for months?) I also listened to the inner promptings as the craziness progressed and acted accordingly. For instance, when I heard reports of Hawaii having runs on toilet paper, I stocked up a few weeks before it happened on the mainland. Same for many other items such as getting my Easter ham 2 weeks before Easter before everyone else thought of it. My kids have been the ones with a mini sewing kit and mini first aid/pharmacy kit when they have gone off to college. I was the one who had snow boots/snow melt/snow shovel when my chorus went to a retreat in the North Georgia mountains this winter and a surprise snow storm moved in – most unusual! Being prepared can feel so satisfying and make me feel like a Regency heroine! And is my own way of loving people. Thanks for all your gifts of imagination.

    • It does feel good to be ready for what life throws at you, and invariably, over preparing is less of a problem than under-preparing. The Girl Scouts were onto something…

  9. I document everything. My calendar is chock-a-block with notes I have taken of events, purchase, etc.
    It turns out that knowing exactly what day I updated my iOS on my phone 3 years ago or when I sent a letter to Great Aunt Margaret can actually be highly valuable.
    I can feel smug when I can dig up info like that and amaze others around me. It’s helped get refunds & solve issues so many times.
    So being overly documentarian can be a good thing

    • I am not that conscientious, but I do jot a few notes in a journal every night. Even that has come in handy–when did I send this off to proofreading? When did I ask for that reviewer to get back to me? I am also reverting to jotting on a calendar that hangs were I can see it. If I can see it, I can manage it…. and all that stuff on my phone is out of sight, out of mind. (And sometimes, under the driver’s seat.)

  10. I’m so glad that you got your tech fixed/found, and that now you have backup tech. I’m not sure I have my little bag of silicone packets anymore – the last two phones that got wet weren’t helped by it so I stopped saving them. Hmmm – something to think about.

    My potato famine/depression days manifests in not liking to spend money when I don’t need to (books are clearly a need), and the second way is not wanting to throw away anything that can be of use later. To this day, I look at a shirt that is past wearing even around the house, and think that it would be useful for a patchwork quilt.

  11. My father was born during the Great Depression and my mother not much later and grew up on a farm, so I was marinated in some thrifty ways as a child. My mother made our clothes and cut our hair and knit our blankets/sweaters etc. I have escaped the extreme version of this but shop at goodwill and consignment stores (good for the wallet and the planet since the fashion industry is a huge polluter) and have a tough time throwing out clothes. I can get rid of them just fine, I donate what no longer (and forevermore at this point) fits without pain but until we could clothes/fabric recycle curbside, I had a horrible time discarding things. An old t-shirt becomes pajamas until it is full of holes, a rag after that, then to the curb eventually. But without fail, everytime I put out a bag of fabric, I wish I were a quilter.

    Also, I always have an ample supply of dried beans and rice on hand, keep some canned tomatoes etc. and frozen mushrooms, squash etc. so when quarantine hit, I had a nice buffer. I grew up with 3 sizable brothers and no matter what else was on the table, a large bowl of rice and a large bowl of beans with salsa and tortillas was there and without fail, disappeared. So I can stretch a meal pretty effectively.

    My husband is an immigrant, and his particular scarcity quirk is saving boxes. A corner of the basement is full of cardboard boxes. I figure as long as I can periodically cull the pile and recycle, I can tolerate it.

    • When I was more conscientious about heating with the wood stove, those boxes ALL were put to good use, but the stockpiling was pretty ridiculous by September. Now, I save a few in case the power goes out, and keep a couple days worth of wood dry on the porch, but my pioneer impulses seem to have faded.

  12. I am somewhat frugal and I have a tiny house, so I have no clothes dryer. I hang clothes out on the line in the back, and I feel like my grandmother. I like doing it, somehow connecting myself back through the ages to the old ones. I also save things, like the plastic bags the newspaper comes in. I still read the paper newspaper. Also I find myself uttering phrases that Mom said that enraged me at the time. The other day a neighbor was moaning and whining on the porch and out of my mouth came — OH Don’t Be So Dramatic! – channeling Mom to my teenage self. Sorry for the tech woes, Grace and I know that feeling. I get anxious and stressed when I have to do anything on my computer besides surf and send emails! But thank goodness we have them in this situation. I just read Val and Emily’s story and I am in love with him.

    • Valerian was just a good-hearted, decent man. I like writing those kinds of heroes, especially now.
      I was surprised to find that very few households in Scotland have dryers. They all have a clothes line system in the laundry room on a chandelier set up. You wind it down to hang the clothes on it, then crank it up so the clothes dry in the warmer air near the ceiling. Smaller carbon footprint, less dry winter air.

  13. I’m sorry you had such a rotten day, Grace. At least you were able to salvage things. I hope your kitties behave better. Some companies do pay attention to customer complaints. At the very least, the internet makes it easy to voice our displeasure with that low caliber of salesmen.

    I don’t know about saving the day but, I admit to being a bit of a packrat at times and it did come in handy earlier this year with all the material I had on hand for mask making. And I am allowing that side of me freedom when stocking staples in our pantry – at least with the items I know we will use. My grandmothers and father taught me that buying in bulk wasn’t always the most economical option but waiting till the last minute to make a purchase isn’t alway wise either. My maternal grandmother and her closest sister also made a point to teach my sister and me that women have to develop a spine of steel to deal with men who think they can dictate to us.

    • I think the men with dictatorship on their minds knows to stay well clear of my daughter and me. That’s probably part of the reason I became a lawyer, because even thirty years ago, a female lawyer got a slightly wider berth than women in some other professions.

  14. Though I personally have been fortunate never to have experienced hunger, my parents both grew up as immigrants during the depression. They lived a lifestyle of “waste not, want not” and I absorbed those teachings. Therefore I virtually NEVER toss food. Being Italian I tend to cook large meals when we have dinner parties, which naturally yield lots of leftovers. Luckily we adore leftovers, but sometimes (even though I send my guests home with goodie bags), there is more than we can eat within a couple of days. I freeze the leftovers in meal-for-two portions to be enjoyed at a later date. With the recent tropical storm that left us on generator for 5 days, we were able to enjoy beef stew over polenta, chicken parm, and turkey tetrazzini instead of making do with granola bar dinners night after night. Saved the day (or at least saved the dinner)!

    • We had a HUGE freezer growing up. Whether it was wild raspberries, Birdseye frozen vege on sale, or left over sheet cake, having that freezer gave Mom a secret weapon.

  15. I have a recent experience with “bad customer service” from one of my doctors’ offices. I called to ask how I was supposed to get my blood taken for important blood work. The answer I got back was, “your doctor will email you and send a link 10 minutes before your appointment. You open the link and then the appointment will begin at the given time.”
    Ummmm…. sorry? The answer had nothing to do with my question. I dislike it immensely when people don’t actually listen to my messages (and messages are necessary since they rarely let me actually _talk_ to them.) Now I’ll have to make another call. *sigh

    My Potato Famine tendencies came in handy recently for a future person. In my house are a couple of wooden figures from Africa from my in-laws’ days there while in the Peace Corps. I am doing an organization of my house contents and decided these figures needed to go into the garage. But one of them has a big toothpick-on-steroids part to it with sharp pointy bits on both ends. It was on the TOP-can’t-see-what’s-up-here part of a bookcase and lying down because it was/is too tall to stand up in that spot. And, as I streeeetttttcccchhhhed and made contact with it, I got bit (and immediately had deja vu recalling getting bitten when I put it up there and out of the way.)

    So! Out come the boxes and shipping supplies that have been gathering and making babies in an unused corner of my house. I found eco-friendly packing peanuts and put 2 or 3 on each end. Voila! No more getting bitten by the pokey bits! Whoever is the next person is to encounter the wooden African Warrior will be warned of the scratch inducing brawny toothpick!
    And, I had a box to put it in for storage out of the way in the garage!

    (My current kitties have not (*knock wood) relieved themselves on technology, but I have one who likes to make copies of nothing. I have a printer that, every time I turn it on, I get a cat who jumps on it and like to watch the paper move around. Invariably, he steps on the “copy” button. I’m just lucky, I think, that the document cover is always closed when he pushes the “copy” button!) ;p

    • You have met my cats. They also like to walk around on keyboards. This is how I learned about Sticky Keys, and about how the wifi card can be turned off by pressing two keys at the same time that are very poorly engineered one cat-width apart.

  16. Gee, I thought I was the only Granny Luddite in this world who gets frustrated with overzealous salespeople. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one

    Thanks for the GIGGLE, Grace. We’ve all been there at one point in our daily lives.

    • It was the “baffle ’em with baloney” routine that had me telling Sulu to reverse all engines… and he was the manager.

  17. LOL – I’m so sorry you had to meet up with incompetents three times in one day. I understand why your daughter calls your purse the vast lonely -I keep downsizing mine and it still seems bottomless, and I’m down to an 8 x 8″one. I’m really enjoying reading your back list, but I’ve wondered why some get retired from your web store.

    Also, I was sent a deal for your How to Catch a Duke from Amazon that comes out in April 2021. I’d rather buy it from your online business and remove the middle man. What do you think? Thanks for the chance to read Ash’s store sooner. Blessings,

    • I think thank you for that kind thought, but Hachette/Grand Central is handling the publishing of that title, and they decide where it’s distributed. I’ve told them they ought to get in bed with their own authors’ web stores, but I get a yawn and an eye roll, because the tycoons would rather keep handing over 35-65 percent to Amazon?
      Makes little sense to me. I just write ’em.

  18. I don’t really have answers to the questions you posed, but I do have to say, St. Anthony never lets me down, either. I pray to him constantly! I loved that aspect of your blog post. I felt an immediate kinship (of sorts, if you can have that with someone you’ve never met). In fact, before I was born my parents were going to name me Anthony because his feast day is two days before my birthday… but I turned out to be a girl, so they had to name me something else. 🙂 I guess maybe I *can* answer the questions! St. Anthony probably *is* the Granny-saved-the-day for me. My family jokes about how when they lose something I always ask them if they’ve prayed to St. Anthony yet (and boy oh boy, if I pray to him for someone to find something, they usually do!).

    As for frustrations, it’s similar to yours. Using tech that is slow, or misbehaves, drives me nuts. I’m an unpublished writer, but if I’m writing and my internet goes down–there goes Google docs! Now I’m frustrated. I tend to use very strong language in those situations too.

    My family can also be a source of major frustration. I’m sure there’s other things (there’s one four letter word that’s a particular favorite of mine and it gets trotted out a lot) but I can’t think of anything else at the moment. I suspect tech is something that gets a lot of us to use those oaths!

    Stay safe!

    • Between St. Anthony and St. Jude, I will never entirely lose my Catholic roots. Those dudes live up to their press.
      For those deprived of a Catholic upbringing: Dear St. Anthony, please come around. My [phone] has been lost and cannot be found.

  19. Which version of St. Anthony do you use? Mine…Good St. Anthony, come around, something’s lost that must be found! Ive passed it on to my daughters!!

  20. My grandmother saved used wrapping paper. The image of children tearing the wrapping paper off their birthday or Christmas presents did not occur in my grandmother’s world. A knife was used to carefully separate the tape so that the paper could be folded flat. It was placed on top of the piece of plywood supporting the Chesterfield cushion. When she needed to wrap a present, the cushion was lifted and the used wrapping paper was carefully gone through to find the right pattern or size for the object to be wrapped. I don’t believe she ever bought wrapping paper. The whole family learned to put the minimum amount of tape on presents to make it easier to save. My grandfather wasn’t allowed to just rip the paper either. He was handed the knife. I remember he once told my grandmother that it would be quicker to rip the paper. She said that the paper was good enough to use again. After she died I am sure my uncle just threw all the paper away.