Sunday, December 5, 2010

Living on a fixed income

I have taken on a second job working in a call center for a major retailer in the area to score a few extra bucks around the holidays.
I got a call the other night from a woman looking to purchase a pair of slippers for her husband. Not to judge, but you could hear the years in her voice. In the normal progression of the call, I asked "And may I have the number of your next item?" She replied, "Oh no dear that will be all, we live on a fixed income". After having gone through Financial Peace University, I said "I can completely understand!" She probed a little further and said "Well, how old are you?" I said "In my early 30's"...she had no need to know that I am, indeed, not quite that old. Quite indignant, she replied "So how many kids do you have?" And I politely replied "2 of the 4-legged variety." She scoffed. "You don't know anything about living on a fixed income."
Like an infected splinter, this has bothered me.
No, I do not receive my paycheck from the government on a monthly basis.
Yes, right now I work 2 full time jobs, and my husband is salaried.
We have no credit cards.
We are paying back student loans.
So how is this not considered a "fixed" income? I work the same hours pretty much every week. And I am not allowed overtime.
There is a finite amount of money coming in, and yes, it currently pays the bills.
And just because I don't have kids, that doesn't mean I don't know what it is like to live on a "Fixed Income". We are on a budget. All of our money is spent on paper ON PURPOSE. EVERY MONTH.
So how can someone sit and say "WAH!" you don't know what it's like!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A note to the leeches of society

Let me preface this post by saying that I believe there are some people who need assistance to get by, and I believe in TEMPORARY assistance, but NOT permanent lifestyles that are made by this. This post does not apply to any one of my family members.

However, if you have adopted a cat, but don't work, get paid by the government to live in subsidized housing, and don't work, can "afford" to go to college, but don't work, have the internet, and don't work, do NOT get on Facebook or any other social media and start BRAGGING about all the stuff you are getting through state assistance. I WORK, I PAY MY BILLS, I pay my college loans, I have two dogs, I pay rent, and I work, and the federal and state governments take money FROM ME to pay for your sorry ass to sit at home and surf on Facebook! And Knit! And take care of your cat!
And don't try to sell me some sorry sob story. If you want to get out of the situation you are in, you can, you just have to work your butt off. It is not easy. Work is hard, otherwise it wouldn't be called work.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The tale of the Flat Tire in the East Jabumpuck No Where.

This is the letter I sent to the customer service representative in response to the inquiry about the customer service I received during my recent visit to the service department.  Again, be careful what you ask for :) 
 Dear Truck Customer Service,
Thank you for checking in about our recent service on our truck.
I assume you are referring to the tire repair that happened on Tuesday.
Yes, everything went fine as far as the service goes, the tire was repaired, and the spare tire was replaced to where the spare tire lives in a timely fashion. However, I must vent about the story that led me to require the service.
My husband and I were going camping on Lobster Lake, which is near Northeast Carry off of Moosehead Lake for the 4th of July weekend.  In order to get there, we had to travel on the Golden Road, which is known for its access to the Penobscot River corridor, and also for the logging in the North Maine Woods.  It is a dirt road that has pieces of shale on it that gobble up tires on a routine basis.  We went off, knowing we had a spare, and all the utensils to get said spare down.  Our intention was to get to the put in at Lobster Stream, paddle out to our campsite, and set up camp on Friday night.
About 2 miles after the Caribou Checkpoint (where you have to check in, pay your fees, and tell them where you're going and for how long), the "Check Right Rear Tire Pressure" alarm went off on the dashboard at about 515 pm.  My husband looks at me and goes, "Uh...what do you it just a warning (sometimes in the winter, the pressure gets low due to the fluxuation in air temperature)?"  I said "Pull over!  You have a flat!" (Having been on the Golden Road and experiencing this situation a few times, I had a strong suspicion that was the case).  He pulled over, and I opened the passenger door, and you could hear "SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS" and we then watched helplessly as the tire swiftly deflated.
We pulled the manual out to make sure we did everything we were supposed to, and pulled all the parts of the jack and wrenches.  After about 45 minutes of trying to get the long part of the jack handle to connect with the mechanism that is supposed to drop the tire, a very nice gentleman offered to take me back to the checkpoint to call for help (Keep in mind, middle of no where, no cell phone reception, and relying on the good graces of very nice people).  We figured, "Well, we have AAA, so one of those guys probably knows how to get the tire down".  After arguing with the dispatcher about where we were (He kept insisting that we MUST be in a town.  I tried to explain that the nearest town was Kokadjo, and we were about  15-20 miles from there, and he said, "well, I can't find it, I need an intersection...." to which I replied "The nearest intersection is The Greenville Road and the Golden Road.  If you tell the driver from Greenville or Millinocket where it is, they WILL know where it is."  He still couldn't find the intersection.) the dispatcher finally said "we will find someone".  The person they ended up dispatching was out of Medway, which was 63 miles and 2.5 hours away, and this information was relayed by a nice gentleman who was taking a message from the checkpoint.  By now it was after 8pm, and we were still unable to get the tire down.  We tried to put the jack under the tire as directed in the book and lift it up to release the secondary safety feature, but all we accomplished was lifting the back of the truck up.
Two very nice guys in similar trucks who professed having had the same experiences, offered to stop and give us a hand.
They ended up taking out the little PVC pipe that had somehow come unhooked from the locking mechanism, and within 20 minutes, we were on our way.  However, they still encountered difficulty.
We had to return to the check point to inform the AAA dispatcher that we were indeed, all set, and they could turn the driver around.
By now, it was about 945 pm (4.5 hours after this tire endeavor began) and much too late to start on our journey across the lake to our campsite.
My husband and I, and our 18 month old ChocolateLab, ended up sleeping in the cab of our truck.  We are 5'8 and 5'7, and 65 pounds, respectively, and I'm sure you know the dimensions of the cab of your truck. The only logical way we could figure was that one sleeps on the front seat, and one sleeps on the floor in the back  (I would have rolled off the seat in the back), and the dog sleeps in the back.
Our suggestions for future models as a result of this trip:
*  Make the front seats not have the hump in the middle
*  Make the floor in the back flat
*  Make it easier to get the spare tire down.  It was extremely frustrating to two highly educated people with mechanical experience to be completely unable to get the tire down.  I am sure the wildlife learned some new words that evening.   There were several people who stopped to check and make sure we were ok and when we explained what had happened, they echoed the frustration of being in similar situations with your products and having the same difficulty of getting the tire down. 
In a perfect world, in a factory with good lighting, on a hard, flat surface, with an empty truck and the engineers who designed the system, I'm sure the system works very well.  But being out in the woods, in the middle of nowhere, with a fully loaded truck, being attacked by bugs through bugspray, on a dirt road, at dusk, with people who have not used the system before, the system does not work so well.
After we got the spare on, the spare worked great.  We had no problems after, and the service department was great and we are thankful that they were able to repair the hole in the tire and replace the spare in its proper position.
Thanks for checking in,
Office Slave

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Shift in paradigm, take 2

So after being put on academic probation, and scoping out the mounting student debt (after being told I would have to be knocked up and/or have a child in order to take out more student loans), credit card debt, and car debt that I had accumulated (hey, I needed a reliable ride. In 2004. That ride had 26k and now has more than 200000 on it. I'd say, pretty reliable!) I decided it was time to work. Time to pay the piper (student loan demon).

My job was working for another evil empire, but this one of a different sort.
This was the ambulance evil empire, one who did not care if you worked 40 hours of overtime, their shifts were filled, and their contractual obligations were fulfilled, and I was making 1.25/hr more than working at the OTHER evil Empire. Bonus.

It did not matter that I had a college education to them.
It did not matter that I could think on my feet.
The powers that be persistently put me with the castaways, the ones who were unpopular, the ones that would not jump anything that moved, the ones who couldn't identify a bar of soap and a stick of deodorant, and if they could, they had not seen said items for many, many days. The stench that emanated from them indicated as much. Or, the ones who had such a wretched attitude, they could make even the sweetest of grandmas crotchety at them. Or better yet, the ones who were dumber than posts. And usually, I'm not very mean, but some of these people could not find their way out of a paper bag with a map, flashlight, and painted directions on the bottom of the bag. The EMT class is essentially advanced first aid. Most people who go to all classes, pay attention, do the work, and genuinely WANT to be there will be successful in the class. But really...fueling a diesel engine with gasoline? You gotta be some kinda spaychel to mess that up.
Very rarely did I have a decent partner to work with who did not stink, could carry on a logical and intellectual conversation, and had a positive attitude.

I received nothing but disrespect for my intellect, teased for my accomplishments (living on a farm, graduating from college), nor praised for doing a good job. My self-esteem sunk to new lows. People teased me because I did not date. People teased me because I had short hair, was in shape, enjoyed riding a bike, and didn't have a boudoir that resembled a revolving door. Automatically, they assumed I preferred the female persuasion.

Eventually, I came up with a saying "Check your soul at the door, or they will take it from you."
People who knew me before, during, and after my employment with this evil empire said I was not the same person I was before I began working in their midst, nor was I the same person after. I had become a robot, even though I had taken an intermediate course, acquired licensure, and can give medications, intubate, and start IV's.

The job I have now, I have worked for over 3 years. I enjoy my job, though it entails no patient care. There is a TON of stuff to learn, and I learn new stuff every day. While I know that what I do is not directly related to prevention, I know that the data needs to be collected to determine where the information needs to be targeted.

The relationship I am in is wonderfully positive, and I feel very blessed that I have him in my life. He makes me laugh, he hugs me when I am having a bad day, he loves me and not just in words. He tells me I'm special (and not short bus special) and he tells me I am smart. And that's just a start!

For pretty much the first time on a personal and professional level, I have been told "You're smart, You're intelligent. And I don't know who told you you weren't, but you need to not believe that. You need to have confidence in what you are doing because you DO know what you're doing and you're a valued member of this team!"

After almost thirty years of conflicting reports, the messages of inadequacy causing self-doubt that have been hammered home for so long, are starting to shift. The paradigm that "I am smart, I am worthy, I am capable" is starting to take hold.

And I kinda like it!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A shift in paradigm. An enlightenment of sorts Part 1

All of my life I have received conflicting reports from my parents. "You're smart, you just WANT to fail." If you're smart, how can you want to fail? I suppose they were trying to use some weird, fucked up, twisted psychology on me, though I am not sure, because when I went to apply for colleges, the same parents that told me I was smart told me "You'll never succeed in nursing school. You don't have the math and science skills". So nursing school was fairly out of the question.

When I applied and got accepted to my alma mater, I was a "Liberal arts Undecided" candidate. Basically, the major meant I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew I had to go to college.

The weekend I started freshman orientation, my mother had a tragic accident involving a 40' extension ladder crushing her dominant hand, requiring multiple surgeries, years of rehab, and never regaining full use of the hand again. My parents were not by any means wealthy, and with my sister and I in college, I knew I had to get some sort of a job to pay for my gas to get back and forth to school, (I commuted from "home"), and I knew I had to pay my own way.

I applied for work and got hired, making a nickel over minimum wage, at the Evil Empire, the one that sells cheap plastic crap, and has invaded America as a "Way of Life". But, hey, it was a job. And it wasn't a whole lot less than what my mother had been making at her job. They were flexible with working hours, and routinely enlisted college students into their ranks so they knew that with each semester, a schedule change would be almost required.

Being talkative, intelligent, and an easy learner, over the years I have discovered it best to mind your own p's and q's, don't let on to people that you're smart, as you will be viewed as a threat, and thus be laughed at, made fun of, and constantly viewed as "different". Being smart has never been a good thing. Therefore, in school, I did what I had to do to get by. I didn't put a whole lot of effort in because if I did, I would be put into a 'different' group. My parents always said 'Your sister can do it, why can't you?' I hated my sister for that. And because of that, I tried even less. I purposely did not do my homework. I would intentionally fail tests. I just didn't care. To the point that I was put in Title 1 (which,'round here, is for the kids that ain't the shaahpest tools in the shed) for math, and English. Good grades were expected in our house, and I quite frankly, didn't give a shit about it, and one year, I walked into my math class, and the teacher looked at me and called me my sister's name. I stood straight up and said "I am NOT my sister, and DON'T EVER call me that again". I proceeded to fail math that quarter. I did what I had to so I wouldn't get into trouble. I paid attention in class, but I never read my books. I would do my homework on the bus the day it was due. If it wasn't perfect, oh well. Therefore, they couldn't be mad at me for failing, but I didn't get the glowing praise that the persistent straight A student got. Sure, I could have done better, but why bother, if you're in the middle, not getting in trouble for failing, but not getting the super-duper grades.

Moving on from the Evil Empire that sells cheap, plastic crap, I had a college sheepskin saying I was all graduated and all. While working full/part time, taking a full college load, working at a work study, living at home (and working on the farm), I managed to squeeze in an EMT class 40 miles away. So I decided to get a job working in EMS in the southern end of the state, where, I had secured a spot at another university taking classes to work towards my elusive second bachelors...a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing. What I really wanted.
I discovered rapidly that working 60 hours a week and trying to take a 13 credit hour course load was a lot different than working 30 hours a week and taking a 15 credit hour course load. Needless to say, I had "proven" my parents right. My performance was HORRIBLE in school. be continued

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Phone, My Car

This morning on my way to work, an individual whom I happen to be familiar with, passed me.  In a pregnant rollerskate.  On the right.  Which chapped my khaki's to begin with.
I happen to know that this angry little Frenchman (don't get worked up...I'm part French)  works as a chief high mucky-muck and has an ego that might have a bit of difficulty fitting in the state of Texas, and has to drive a big red truck.  Do you think maybe he's compensatin' for somethin'?
As this person passed me on the right side, slowed down, looked me square in the face and shook his head in disapproval, which, as I was not breaking the law (I used my blinkers to change lanes), or having any difficulty maintaining control of my vehicle (not speeding, not crashing into things).  I felt my jaw tighten and my blood pressure get jacked up. It was NONE of his business as to what I was doing, in MY car, on MY phone.  It had NOTHING to do with him.  And seeing as he didn't have any blue lights on his vehicle, nor will he ever, it should have been of no concern of his.
So, sir in your little firefighter hat, I ask you this; who died, passed the keys  to you, and made you the patron saint of all drivers in your inferior vehicle?  Whassa mattah, your big, wed twuck bwoke?  Awww...What do you expect from a Dodge?!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hard things

Why is it by doing what is right never feels right?

Why is it that when you do what is right, it hurts?

Why is it that whenever you do what is right, it hurts the people around you?


As is so often said, doing what is right isn't always easy.  Surely, it is easier to ignore the given situation, to pretend it didn't happen, but by doing so, condoning the situation that was wrong to begin with.


If everyone did the things they were supposed to, and didn't do the things they weren't supposed to do, no one would be in this predicament.


Go home, hug your kids, and tell them you love them.  Whether they have 4 legs or 2.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sarcasm NOT spoken here *NOTE THE HINT OF SARCASM*

Approached by a nurse looking for someone. 
I said "We issued a standard cloaking device upon hire to their position, therefore they are in the office, but just invisible."
The nurse didn't find the humor in that.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Everyone has Greenbean Casserole at Thanksgiving.
The time-honored pre-requisite dish that the creators would have you believe that the Native Americans served it to the Pilgrims as the first introduction to this meal.
Complete with the canned green beans from Green Giant, canned soup from Campbell's, and French's Fried Onions.
The last ingredient was found in a recent recipe that my husband and I tried recently, but finding it in the supermarket was as elusive as the canned soup would have been in the First Thanksgiving.  "Why"? you might ask.  Here's the reason.
I used to work in retail.  I am reasonably efficient at finding bizarre ingredients by thinking what they would be used for or associated with.
Fried Onions should be used as a coating, or as a breading, as it would have been for this application.  First pitch:  Bread Crumbs.  Ah, Strike one.  Second pitch:  Snack foods (It's a fried item).  Strike two.  Third pitch:  Soups.  Mighty Casey has struck out, but thankfully, we're not playing baseball.
Finally, as a last ditch effort, I try the canned vegetable aisle.  The one with peas, green beans, and corn.  Sure enough, on the top shelf, appeared my homerun: Fried Onions. 
Are you kidding me?  Since when did an item that in NO SHAPE (or  taste) resemble its original form (or even have the item as a first ingredient..Palm Oil) make it into the canned vegetable aisle?  I mean, REALLY!?  It's NOT A CANNED VEGETABLE.  It IS a CONDIMENT.  Why don't we start putting Potato Chips in the canned vegetable aisle!  At least most chips have potatoes as the main ingredients.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


New Laptop: 1000 (waiting to purchase)
Taking your anger out on a Windows computer "Office Space" Style: Priceless.

Next time, don't take your anger out on a fully functioning computer.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


After being much less than graceful in my youth, such adventures have returned to haunt me.
And I know, I'm not that old.

I had 3 shoulder dislocations, followed by Bankart repair. 8 happy years without injury to that shoulder. And the surgeon moved on to a different area.
I fell asleep one night while watching a baseball game with my hands behind my head. I went to sit up and it dislocated. My husband pulled it and put it back in. I saw no reason to go to the ER. I called my PCP and asked for a referral to the orthopedist. I was told, "No, you need to be seen by the provider." Insert annoyance here.
I saw the provider for less than 2 minutes, who said "Yes, you need to see an orthopedist". Uh, DUH!? Didn't I say "I need a referral to see one?" The conversation in my head was "Thank you for wasting my time, money, and insurance for you to tell me what I already know!" Thank goodness for filters.

The appointment for the ortho came and he said "You'll need to do PT."
Well, because it was still considered a "Pre-existing injury" by the insurance (Because I didn't go to the ER when it happened), insurance wouldn't pay for physical therapy.

Home I go with the exercise program.
Fast forward 2.3 years (without issue)
First snow storm of the season...
Wonderhubby is gone to a meeting but on his way home...
I'm supposed to be going shopping with our local volunteer service for our community service.
The end of the driveway needs to be shoveled.
Our shed has a ramp to get the lawn mower and ATV in.
And to be able to open the door, you have to stand on the ramp. The one covered with snow. And Ice underneath.
I look down at my feet and realize "Hmmm...this probably isn't a good idea..." and before that thought process could turn into physical action, my feet flew out from under me, my hands went up over my head, I landed on my the snow. With the puppy outside with me.
I started to cry, realizing that my shoulder was not as it should be, not to mention that it hurt. Kind of like having your arm ripped out of its socket...Oh yeah, that's WAS ripped out of the socket.
I was able to roll into a position that I could get to a standing position, and the puppy was trying to help...She's such a good girl, she just didn't know what was going on...
Slowly, I lumbered through the snow, making sure not to slip again.
Arriving at the house, I opened the door, and located my phone.
I dialed poor Wonderhubby...and commenced screaming.
He said "Honey, you're going to have to calm down because I can't understand what you're saying."
I wanted to know where he was, because if he was close enough, I was going to wait until he got home. If not, I was going to call the rescue station and see if anyone could take me down.
He was about 15 miles away. The station is 7. I called down and they started towards the house.
Wonderhubby beat the ambulance.
I gingerly got in the truck, my shoulder still out of place. Wonderhubby said "Big city, or small town..." I said "JUST GET ME has to be put back in." He said "It's going to be bumpy..." and half joking I retorted "Maybe it will put it back in."

As we approached the left hand turn (braking), the force of slowing down and turning at the same time was enough to audibly reduce the dislocation.
I went into the ER and was seen promptly, xrayed, and put back in the room.
The shoulder was indeed back in place.
They put a sling on, and said "you're going to need to go see an ortho"...This was only the 5th dislocation...I had no idea! *insert sarcasm here*
So I saw my PCP, who said "Absolutely...I can facilitate that"
And the ortho I saw the last time I dislocated my shoulder felt like a logical choice.
When I went to see him, he walks in all flip and arrogant "so...why are you wearing a sling?"
"Uh, I dislocated my shoulder"
"Oh...first time?" (after clearly stated in my chart Shoulder dislocation x 3, Bankart repair 1999)
"Oh. Well, you know, these things are pretty black and white... you can either do PT or do surgery. What's it going to be? "
"Uh, how 'bout we find out what's wrong FIRST?"
"Oh yeah, we can do that too."

Fast forward to the MRI questionnaire...
"Do you have any allergies?"
"Ok, what are they?"
"Stupid people."
"Oh, I'm sorry...I didn't mean to imply YOU were stupid."

Driving home while tired.

Ok, so I know that driving home when you're tired isn't a WONDERFUL idea...but, it had to be done.
I was on my way home last night, and was traveling through the center of town on a 4-lane road. I was in the left hand lane following a pickup truck who had slowed down.
He wasn't doing the speed limit, so, I figured he was planning to turn left somewhere. I changed lanes, and was in the right lane, and a car was ahead. The guy sped up to pass me, and the car now ahead of me, and forced me to get behind him again to pass the guy in front of me. How irritating. So I pass the car, and pull again into the right hand lane, now nose and nose with this guy. The light turns red. One of the sheriffs officers pulls out from the bridge and goes screaming down the road. The conversation in my head?

"Sorry officer, I thought you were the pace car."
Notes? Don't drive while tired. And don't EVER say that