I received a call from one of those telemarketer scammers. I was in a good mood so, I decided to let him go through his scammer spiel.
“Ms. Cox,” he begins as he tries to pronounce my name through his Middle Eastern accent, “do you remember about six months ago you paid $299 for a warranty for your computer?”
“No, I do not remember that,” I stated honestly. “I don’t recall paying $299 for anything, much less a warranty for my computer.”
“Well, you did,” he insists.
I start laughing. “No, I did not.”
“Yes, yes, you did,” he repeats.
“What’s your name?” I ask. “Tell me your name.”
“My name is Henry,” he answers.
“Where are you from?”
“Georgia State or Georgia County?” I ask in attempts to throw him off. It worked because he answered county. “Oh, downstate Georgia?”
“Yes, downstate. Do you remember having a warranty on your computer?” he said trying to redirect me back to the scam.
“No, I do not have a warranty,” I said again laughing and then hung up.
Two weeks later, Henry calls me back, and again, insists I have paid $299 for a warranty for my computer.
“Is this Henry again?” I ask a little amused.
“Yes, it is Henry.”
I shake my head into the phone and explain patiently, “Henry, I did not pay you $299 for any kind of warranty, much less one for my computer.”
“Yes, you did.”
“What card did I use then?”
He wasted no time answering, “Visa. If you give me your numbers on your card I can verify it with the one I have on file.”
I openly laughed at him. “I don’t think so, Henry. Please don’t call back.”
He did call back a week or so later. I just laughed and hung up on him. Again, a week or so afterwards, another phone call. I hung up that time, too. On Henry’s fifth try, I was exasperated.
I finally asked, “Henry, do you know why I laugh at you and hang up all the time?”
“Because I don’t have a computer in my house. I’m old and I don’t use them. My kids have a laptop, not a computer, but they do not live with me. That’s how I know I did not give you $299 at any time for anything, ever.”
I think we broke up. Henry hasn’t called me back since.
I was out grocery shopping one afternoon when a woman and I walked into the store at the same time. I went on about my business and figured she did the same. However, I noticed she always seemed to be on the same aisle that I was and although we had come into the store at the same time, I still felt as though she was following me.
No matter where I went in the store, she was there. I was even more convinced that it was not a coincidence when I skipped two rows ahead and she was still right behind me. I backtracked to the two rows I missed, and there she was again.
When I checked out, she checked out at the next counter. By the time I was walking out to my car, I was perturbed. I wasn’t afraid. No, I was quite irritated. Those that know me, know I have no qualms about speaking my peace. I say things before I think about them.
As I pushed the buggy toward my car I heard someone behind me calling, “Ma’am, Ma’am, can I speak to you for a minute?”
Thanks to those eyes my daughter was convinced I had in the back of my head, I knew who it was. “What do you want?” I said as I spun around to face her.
“I’m sorry, but I was following you in the store,” she confessed.
“Yeah, I noticed. What do you want?” I repeated.
“I noticed that you buy a lot of healthy nutritious foods and not a lot of the processed food,” she explained. “You know, you’re buying fresh fruits and vegetables and not chips and dips for your family.”
Now, I was really confused. Was she really following me around to see what kinds of food I was buying? What was wrong with this woman? With what I know had to have been a look of confusion on my face, I asked, “What about it?”
Without any hint of hesitation, she answered, “Well, some friends of mine and I are starting a new group in town called Over Eaters Anonymous and I was wondering if you’d like to join us?”
“Why would you ask a perfect stranger something like that?” I asked.
With a small smile she answered, “Like I said, I noticed you buy healthier foods and you have a weight problem.”
“I have a weight problem?” I asked incredulously. “What gave me away? Was it the way I walked, the overhanging gut, or was it how my fat ass is squeezed into my blue jeans and will probably need to be squeegeed off of me later?”
“Here’s my card if you decide you’d like to join us,” she said laughingly as she passed me a business card. Right at the top it said “Over Eaters Anonymous.”
“Sweetheart, there is nothing anonymous about an over eater,” I replied as I stuck her card into my purse. “You can’t miss us. Just look for the sign on our rear-ends that say we’re hauling a double load.”
I wanted to take some online classes so I went to the Unemployment Office and applied for a grant to cover the expenses. I had to jump through all the hoops in order to get it, too. One of the things I had to do was spend six hours taking a test; eight hours if you count the two-hour lunch break we were given.
Those of us who were there for the test were informed that we had to pass a ninth grade level of math, reading/vocabulary, and comprehension. If we received any score lower than ninth grade, we would not be eligible for the grant. Whatever!
We started the testing with about a dozen prospective students. I answered the questions to the best of my knowledge. I wasn’t in a hurry with my answers, either. I also noticed a lot of IQ questions in the mix of all three subjects. I thought that was pretty slick. Although, I didn’t finish the test before anyone else, I certainly didn’t finish it last so I surmised I did okay.
I noticed upon our return from the two-hour lunch break that several of my fellow testers did not return. Once I finished my test, I decided to ask one of the monitors where they all went.
“I have no idea,” she answered. “They just didn’t come back from lunch. It happens quite a bit here.”
Wow! Someone offering to help people get an education and instead of taking advantage of the opportunity, they blew it off. I was flabbergasted.
My test results came in two weeks later and I was called in for a review with my caseworker. As I sat across from her at her desk, she reminded me of the requirements of eligibility; I had to score at least a ninth grade level.
“It seems your math score is the lowest,” she said with boldness and authority while looking at my test scores. “You barely scored on a sixth grade level, and that’s just basic math, but your vocabulary and comprehension scores a little higher at seventh grade entry levels.”
My jaw hit the desk. “What?”
“Yes,” she answered, “And we also put some IQ questions in there to see how well our test subjects would score and you’re in the low-average range.”
“Wait a minute,” I said interrupting her. “I think you pulled someone else’s scores. Maybe one of those who didn’t finish their tests?”
She glanced at the folder again before asking, “Why would you say that?”
“Because I’m a college graduate. I’m a nurse and we have to be able to do math. In order to pass the pharmacology class, we had to score a perfect 100 doing complicated mathematical equations. We have to know how to convert the dosages in case the doctor orders in one strength and the pharmacy can only bring us another, and you’re telling me I barely scored on a sixth grade level? I don’t believe it. As for the vocabulary and comprehension part, I challenge that, as well.”
My caseworker leaned back in her chair and looked at the folder again. Ignoring my response to the math test completely, she asked with a little less boldness in her tone, “Why are you challenging the vocabulary and comprehension?”
I shook my head and answered, “Because I’m an accomplished writer. Not only have I written columns for the newspaper for several years in the past, I also have two books published. You’re telling me I have the intellect of an entry level seventh grader?”
She laid the folder on the desk. With amusement, I could tell at first she didn’t know what to say. Finally, she determined that it must have to do with my low IQ scores.
“Really?” I said incredulously. “Well, I’ve taken two IQ test before in my life and on the first one, I scored 126; the second 128. I believe the genius level is 130. Is this the Unemployment Office’s way of getting out of following through on the grants they offered everyone?”
“No, no,” she denied quickly, “This is all legit.”
I noticed the bold authoritative tone had disappeared. “You are not going to sit there and tell me I scored at sixth and seventh grade level with a low-average IQ score. I know different.” I held my hand out for the folder. “I want to see the test scores for myself.”
She hugged the folder to her chest. “I’m sorry; we are not allowed to show anyone their test scores.”
I was quickly losing my patience. Before I was amused, but now, I wasn’t so humored. “That’s not true, either,” I said looking her straight in the eye. “By all legal means, if my name is on anything, I have the right to see it. My name is on those test results therefore, legally, you have to show them to me if I ask and I am asking!”
“Hold on a minute,” she said as she stood up. Taking the folder with her, she explained, “Let me get my supervisor. I cannot show them to you, but he can. I’ll be right back.”
She returned five minutes later with her supervisor in tow. I sat at the desk with my arms folded across my chest. She could go get whoever she wanted, but I meant to see those test scores before I left there that day.
He came up to me and introduced himself, “We feel you’re a good candidate for the program and we’re going to recommend to the state that you receive a full grant.”
I thought so!
When I was first married, my first job was working at Hardees as a cashier. For what it’s worth, I enjoyed the simplicity of the job as well as the people I worked with, both staff and customers. It just wasn’t something I wanted to make a career of, but for the time being, it worked well for me until I would become a nurse.
The customers certainly did bring about a lot of enjoyment to me. I remember we had a frequent customer, Craig, who came in every morning and ordered the same thing: Sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit with mayonnaise and a slice of tomato. I remember thinking many times, as I pushed the bag across the counter to him: heart attack in the making.
Craig later came to own his own dry-cleaning business across town. When I became a nurse, I became a regular customer to him as he took care of my uniforms for me. He remembered me from Hardees and took a personal interest in my laundry as a courtesy. It does pay to be kind to people even if you do work in a fast-food restaurant. Craig was proof of that mentality.
My favorite customer was George. He was an 86-year-old widower who, like clockwork, would walk four blocks to Hardees every single morning, and order a plain sausage biscuit and a cup of coffee. His bill always came to $1.19 and I would give him back .6 cents in change.
One morning, George did not come in. My first thought was oh no! He died! I just know he did.
The second day, he didn’t come in so I scanned the obituary section of the newspaper looking for anyone named George who may have passed away (I didn’t know his last name). However, when George came back to Hardees on the third day, I almost fainted.
“George,” I exclaimed as I braced myself from falling over at the register. “Where have you been?”
He smiled at the thought of someone actually noticing that he was ever gone, even a cashier at a fast-food place. “My son was in town and he took me to breakfast while he was here.”
“I bet that was so nice,” I said, pleased he was well. “Where did you go?”
“We went to Thomas Café on Front Street; just a few blocks over,” he answered and agreed he had a really nice visit with his son.
“Next time, give me a heads up that you won’t be here. I was worried something might have happened to you and started to send out a search party.”
In my defense, he was an old man. He smiled again and thanked me for my concern. It really meant a lot to him that someone cared.
Not long after that, George came in for his usual. As he reached behind him to pull his wallet out of his back pocket, he gave a loud gasp. I all but flew into a panic mode.
“What’s wrong George?” I asked, ready to scale the counter and perform CPR on this old man. “Are you having a heart attack?”
I had very vivid images of hollering for someone to call EMS, chest pumps, and breathing heavily into his oral cavity.
“No, no. I just forgot my wallet at home. I left it on the dresser,” he answered with a wave of his hand.
I sighed heavily. “Thank God, George. For a minute there, I thought I was going to have to do CPR on you. You gave me a start and don’t worry about today. I’ll cover you, it’s okay.”
He smiled in his old man way and said, “My dentures would probably get in the way of the mouth-to-mouth.”
“That would be funny,” I replied, “I’d probably come up wearing them and you’d be nothing but all gums.”
He must have also had a very vivid imagination. I’m sure it was the thought of me wearing his dentures that caused him to laugh good heartedly. He thanked me for breakfast and walked off with his tray.
My daughter is of the opinion that working in fast food restaurants is a waste of time. However, I think of it as a learning tool for kids. Yes, for the most part, it’s a good kid job, but you can make a career of it – you just have to stick with it.
For me, working in Hardees taught me a lot about people, customer service, and how to be a professional. I incorporated many of the lessons I learned while there into my life as a nurse of thirty years. It was a great experience, even if it was just a fast food joint.
One of the most important things I learned by working at Hardees was that anyone can change the outlook of someone’s day just by being nice to them. The old cliché from Dolly Parton comes to mind “If you see someone without a smile, give them yours.”
Working with the elderly has given me the realization of a major pet peeve; especially since the older I get, the harder it is for me to get around. I hate when I see young people park in a handicapped space and then jump out and trot to the door. It was obvious they are not in need. I watched as a woman pulled into a parking place with her car loaded down with children. She parked and then they all traipsed out and into the store. Law enforcement (who patrols the area) does nothing to prevent it. I could scream.
Only days after surgery, I had gone to Walmart for some groceries. I sat in one of the motorized carts waiting on my husband to finish parking the car and come inside. As I sat waiting, two young women, probably in their twenties, came in. One was, without question, pregnant.
The other girl (with the pregnant one) shook her finger at me and said, “Oh no! You’re going to have to get up and let me have that. I have been on my feet all day and I am tired!”
I looked at her like she was nuts. I leaned back and folded my arms across my chest and replied, “Really?”
She wasn’t asking on behalf of her pregnant friend; she was selfishly asking for herself (but then, she wasn’t really asking at all, she was demanding).
I think she realized that I wasn’t just sitting there, I was actually going to use it because she said, “Excuse me. I’m sorry. I’ll find another one.”
I said something to the manager of the store and pointed them out. The carts are for disabled, handicapped and elderly – not for lazy ass people who just want to ride around in them. The manager thanked me and went on. He didn’t do anything about it.
The same with the handicapped bathrooms; some who do not need them, use them. I have a very hard time using the other stalls as they sit too low. If I am having that problem, I can only imagine someone in worse shape than me.
Young women with small children are understandable, but I’m talking about children old enough to use the bathroom on their own, or my biggest peeve, the store employees. I have had them run past me to get there before I do and then I have to stand around doing the pee-pee dance until they come out.
I had gone in to the ladies’ room one afternoon when a little girl, about ten, walked right past the line and headed straight for the handicapped stall. The other girls in line called her name and she looked back as if she just realized we were all standing there.
She stood in the middle of the bathroom waiting for someone to come out of the handicapped stall and said, “I have to pee!”
I shook my head in disbelief and said, “Honey, we all do. That’s why we’re here and you’re not using that stall, either. I am!” About that time, two more opened up. I pointed to them and said, “There, you can use one of those.”
A woman who exited the, now vacant, stall shot me a dirty look. Apparently, she was with the gaggle of girls. She motioned for the little one to take her stall.
As I walked past, I said, “I’m not apologizing! That bathroom is not for ten year old little girls and it’s quite rude and inconsiderate to even entertain the idea they should use it.”
In a time when everyone wants to be politically correct, I wish they would be a little more consciously correct and be more considerate and respectful of those around them. Using the handicapped facilities and amenities is just plain out bad form.
I often think to myself that these same people who abuse the facilities are one day going to become disabled and elderly and they’ll need them. Hopefully they will think back to all those times they took advantage of them and realize it is karma coming back to bite them. They should be glad they can get up and get around now. Those are the things they need to be taking advantage of before they no longer can do it anymore.