Tuesday, March 2, 2010
You won’t even know what hit you prior to the insanity kicking in. Now I suppose here I ought to write a disclaimer that says small towns DO contain some very lovely people who give small towns a great name. If you are one of these highly prized individuals…please come buy insurance from me to help even out my policyholder’s gene pool?! Please?!!!
Oy. The rest of them leave MUCH to be desired.
Almost a year ago, this guy came in to our office for the cheapest form of barely legal auto insurance you can get. We wrote it for him, despite the fact that he wreaked from the stench of cigarettes, the previous night’s alcohol binge and body odor. He brought in his friend the next week for the same form of cheap insurance.
From the start, this fellow was the most obnoxious form of deadbeat client. I still remember the first time he cornered me in the office parking lot on a Saturday with his 60’s-something rusty old rambler (or similar heap of junk), heated that he’d been charged an extra $2 on his insurance payment as a draft fee.
Wow. So special.
But what really sets this fellow apart is the statement he made the day he was trying to hit on our 19 year old receptionist. “I may be 62, honey, but I don’t look a day over 45. I’m not looking at ever getting married again, but I sure do like a girl who knows how to have a good time.” Wink, wink. “And I always have a solid $250 in my bank account from my social security.”
Isn’t that just living the high life.
We used to call the fellow Bethany’s boyfriend. It got so bad with the flirting that she and I would conveniently be busy any time he would call or show up so that LaNette had to deal with him. Being the motherly type, she would always put him in his place without taking any of his crap. But now, they’ve gone and left me to handle him all on my own, so Tom T has decided it’s funny to call him MY boyfriend now. GuuuuROSS!!!
He came in the other day to get his buddy’s insurance started up again. The policy down payment came to a whopping 39.10 and he dished out $40. I applied the full $40 since we don’t keep change in our office.
“Hey where’s my $1.90?!” the genius, addition-challenged dude whined.
“Your 90 cents?” I queried back. “We don’t keep change remember? I applied it to the policy. Unless you want it back in pennies.”
“How about I take it back in trade?” he winked.
Gag me. Gag me with a SPOON.
How gross and perverted do you have to be to proposition someone young enough to be your granddaughter?! How twisted and desperate would *I* have to be, to accept such an offer?! (I mean, MAAAAYbe if he were a regular Hugh Heffner complete with a fabulous mansion and lots of dough, I’d be tempted. Just sayin.)
Yes, come to work for small town agency and you meet all sorts of characters. If that flavor of deadbeat isn’t your style, you could go with the pathological liar with the driving record longer than their arm that “forgot my license was suspended for being convicted of a drive by shooting.” Or the 45 year old who had to take out a 7-day loan from his mommy to pay his $130 for 6 months of insurance bill cause he doesn’t work, but sits at home all day listening to tripe on the internet about how his president says he shouldn’t have to pay for insurance if he hardly ever drives. (So glad I have the government-funded deadbeat and our president here to set me, the insurance agent, straight. Gosh…who KNEW?!)
Maybe you would be entertained by the family with the teenage driver who got their license, but when mom found out how much insurance was going to cost, is conveniently “not driving anymore.” (Riiiight…like a 16 year old with a license isn’t getting behind the wheel of ANY vehicle just cause their insurance payments would’ve been $100 a month?!)
When you get bored of the lies, deception and arguments of deep woods, hippy-ville, “stick it to the man” small town, then you can enjoy the phone calls from the banks and mortgage companies. “What? I know we required YOU to put on a binder that we were paying the client’s house insurance, but we don’t know what you’re talking about 6 months later and certainly aren’t responsible for why their insurance cancelled.” “Oh what’s your fax number? I needed this paperwork I’m sending you like, yesterday. So now it’s your fault if our mutual client can’t close and loses this fantastic interest rate cause you didn’t drop everything you were doing to help me.” “Yes. Please just write this home policy with no information, not even an appraisal. And I need it today.”
Is it any wonder at the end of a long day, that I find myself thinking dangerous thoughts of murder and physical abuse to others?!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Ever since I was young, my parents have said I was “anyone’s dog who would hunt with me.” Which is a fairly redneck way to say I change who I am for the people around me. It used to bug me that they said it…still does I suppose…but I’m finally beginning to realize it’s true. They were RIGHT! Aargh. Hate it when that happens. I’m pretty sure I do it because ever since I was a pre-teen, I’ve been starved for good friends. All along the way, I always had a “best friend”…but it was usually that they were my best friend and someone else was theirs. I realize that now, 17 years later.
It’s pretty discouraging to discover, after 25 years, I don’t fit in anywhere.
Yesterday I was making a long drive and had a lot of troubling thoughts running through my head. “I need to talk to someone,” I thought. But then I spent an hour trying to think of who knows me well enough to listen and offer pertinent advice. No one came to mind.
My dad thinks this is because I don’t know who I am.
Which is totally plausible. So how does one go about discovering who they are and what they like without appearing like a chameleon?! Do I simply use what I DO know is really me as a springboard and just exclude the rest of it if it doesn’t fit? That doesn’t give me much to work with. And what if I want to broaden my horizons?
Things I know are truly me…
I know that I love ministry where I can see a tangible result. Like CityGate, where I’m physically feeding and talking to people in need. Or like sponsoring individual children with Compassion, where I can be a part of their lives, even if it’s only through a written letter now and again.
I know that I love working with kids because kids accept you and adore you for the little things. I don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars and throw elaborate parties to get kids to love me. I just have to listen to them, encourage them, stretch them into becoming better people (and maybe throw in some dollar candy bribes for Bible memory) and they remember me for a lifetime.
I know that music was the one inspiration that got me through 10 years of friendlessness and teenage emotions. Why I don’t make this a priority is ridiculous (would help if I had a keyboard in my apartment I suppose). My heart is at peace when I accomplish a beautiful piano piece or sing a worship song.
I know that I love books. Reading them, writing them. Doesn’t matter. I used to get grounded as a kid for reading when I had other things to do. I have always wanted a collection so big, that it fills an entire room. My dream house will have a library.
I know that I love to cook. And even though I like to eat healthy, I don’t like to COOK healthy. LOL. I prefer to make things that are rich in real butter and cheese and calories, but that make people smile and satisfied when they eat it. I don’t like to cook for just me either…that’s boring.
I love to take pictures, edit them and build scrapbooks. Sometimes it’s fun to be in them too. I also love crafting ANYthing from hand. If only I actually finished my projects.
I love hats and scarves even if people make fun of me for wearing them. I love wearing heels. I always buy my jeans at Buckle not because anyone has told me to, but because I like them best.
Problem with all those things that I know I love is…I don’t know anyone else who particularly shares those passions. “You’re looking for friends in the wrong places,” dad says. Really? Where AM I supposed to look, if not in the church, the workplace and other places I frequent? Or maybe I’m not supposed to be looking?
Or maybe if I simply put my foot down on the things I know I DON’T like to do, maybe it would eventually give way to meeting new people or discovering old ones, who share my passions. Maybe if I quit making all my social events things like going to movies and parties, I’d find the people I can relate to better.
Lots of maybes.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
This time of year always seems to have that effect on me…it’s so close to spring you can almost taste the warm, sunny days and the fresh scent of new growth all around. Except it’s not quite here yet, so instead I’m going crazy with anticipation. It gives me too much time to think.
For instance, I think sometimes that I’m missing out by not having kids right now. As I put together a list of goals for 2010 in the past few weeks, I keep coming back to this one thing…that I want to have a serious impact on the lives of a handful of children. And the easiest way to do that, would be to have them under my 24 hour care, right?
Even if I weren’t to HAVE a couple of my own, I would love to adopt. And not just adopt any kid from anywhere. I want a little boy or girl from India. I don’t know why. Can’t explain it. Except maybe that my heroine, since I was 8 years old and first read her biography, has been Amy Carmichael. She’s been on my mind so much lately, that I decided to re-read her biography…and I’m still just as inspired as I was 15 years ago.
And then I think, if I can’t have my own children (what can I say? It’s not easy to adopt as a single and it’s rather frowned upon to purposely get pregnant out of wedlock these days)…then I want to impact other people’s children.
Like Sunday school. But I don’t want to just be a helper in someone else’s Sunday school. I want to coordinate, design a curriculum and teach it myself. Create a love for Bible stories, memorization and God in young lives.
Or lead an AWANA club group.
Or have young girls over to my house to do merit-badge earning activities that develop life skills AND spiritual skills all at the same time.
Or lead a Bible study in my house.
Or tutor junior high and high school age students in a home school environment (I don’t wanna help them pass someone else’s idea of education…I want to give them my version of history, science, creative writing, art and music…trust me. It would be more effective than learning just enough to pass the tests in a classroom).
It’s just weird how phases of life go.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
I was in deep concentration, searching through the drink aisles when the last lines of a conversation caught my attention. Flirtatious laughter filtered through my subconscious and I turned to see two 20-something women jesting with a 30-something man, “Oh yeah, don’t worry about it. We get that all the time.”
Momentarily, I wondered what it was they get “all the time” as they parted ways with the dude. The dirty work jacket and beanie-clad man turned back to the beer cooler and the rather frumpily dressed, wild-haired women continued around the corner. Not finding what I was in pursuit of, I followed them and overheard one say rather loudly, “Oh. M’gosh. What an idiot. Can you beLIEVE him?! Like he even stands a chance.” Raucous laughter followed this exclamation and the two disappeared out of ear shot.
Horrified that the man could hear this pointed jab, I glanced back and caught his eye. Sure enough, there was a second of disappointment before he recovered into an image of macho “manliness.”
For a moment, I believe something profound struck me.
No doubt this guy spouted off some cheesy pick up line to those two gals. Maybe not. Maybe he just dished out some back handed compliment, only to be misunderstood.
What caught my attention was this fact: aren’t we all on a life-long search to find meaning, purpose and acceptance? I think deep down we all desire to be accepted and understood. Dare I sound sappy, we all search for love and connection with those we cross paths with in our daily walk through life. And whether we hide this need behind macho “I’m the man,” flirty empty-headedness, sullen depression or quiet shyness, it drives our every interaction with people we meet.
It made me stop and wonder if along the path I walk, how many people do I come into contact with that are just reaching out for some tiny hint of humanity to accept them? The text messages from someone I “don’t have time” to talk to that get ignored. The casual glance at the car next to me in traffic that could end in a smile. The phone call from a frustrated customer that would only take a couple minutes to resolve. Scheduling a coffee break with the friend who just needs to talk through some things. Taking an extra few minutes to pick up something for a friend who can’t leave the house. Baking cookies for my apartment neighbors just to say “hi and you are noticed.”
Granted, none of those people I saw in Wal-Mart are the kind of people I personally would be interested in associating with. They all three gave off a vibe of going nowhere with their lives and pure emptiness. But had that man talked to me, how would I have reacted? Would it have killed me to smile and laugh politely and wish him a great evening or would I have turned my nose up and sneered like those girls did? Maybe that’s all he needed. Some confirmation at the end of a rough work day that someone else in the world, for one second, shared a moment of happiness with him.
Isn’t that what life is all about anyway? Relationships? Even those 10 second meetings in a grocery store aisle at 10 o’clock at night mean something much more than the stress of my job or the importance of my reading list or website or hobbies.
At least I think so.
Life ought to be so much fuller of smiles and laughter. Even if it’s just the stranger in Wal-Mart.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Some days I feel like I have a split personality.
There’s the side of me that loves people. And I truly do. I love being around others, watching them interact with each other, listening to their problems or what makes them happy, doing things with them, being a good friend. I love being invited to do things with other people (though I have the awful habit of saying yes to everything and then having to cancel on some) and I love even more being able to host other people in my territory. It’s so exciting to have my own apartment, because I want my friends to get comfortable coming over any time they are in the area. Stopping in to say hello or staying for a bite to eat and a movie. I want my home to be others’ home away from home. A place they can feel relaxed.
It feeds on my childhood dream to be that friendly neighbor whose “open-door” policy becomes second nature to all my friends. They know they can stop in any day, any time perhaps even with complete strangers or little kids in tow…and find me ecstatic to cook a delicious meal, pull out the games or movies and truly care about who they are and what they need in a friend.
It makes my heart happy to connect.
Then there’s the side of me that loves solitude. Not all the time or every day. Just at set times of the week or month. Call me crazy, but I think it would be amazing to spend a whole week by the ocean or on the top of a mountain, soaking in the silence and reveling in the majesty of nature. I get a lovesick giddiness when I’m around that sort of beauty. Love it. I am revived and refreshed when I spend time alone and quiet. Just me, a journal, a couple books.
It makes my heart glad.
So here I am, split in personality, thinking how awesome it is to have constant companionship from people I care about (which is pretty much everyone…I rarely meet a person I don’t like!), but then excited at the prospect of pure silence.
What is a person to do when they are ruled by such opposite loves?!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Seriously, it felt like it as I ran a fever that made my mind do crazy things. Had some of the strangest dreams too. I call them "defrag dreams"...cause they seem to be a defrag of all the nonsense you've built up in your brain over the days leading up to them.
These dreams were an insane mix of wedding preparations for some girl I didn't know, car bombs and parades, oil pipelines and well drilling, kidnap & ransom heists and best of all, "tremors" worm-like aliens eating villagers at random.
And I was the heroine of the whole story.
It always creeps me out majorly when I wake up from a dream, toss and turn for 20 minutes, fall back asleep...and pick up the dream where it left off. Ever had that happen? Talk about weird.
Last night, the story would begin in a random jungle village, where wormy aliens would come up through the ground to eat people. In my brilliant heroism, I knew that drilling very lucrative oil wells would stop the raids? Hmm. And then of course the bad guys had to stop me, so they would try everything from attempted kidnappings to car bombs to sending in undercover agents disguised as a wedding party.
This dream repeated itself 6 different times.
I can only hope this isn't an indication of my level of sanity. Or that it is a scenario that will repeat itself any time in the future. *gasp*
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
But in the process, I found this dress. Gorgeous "little black dress."
It had been purchased 4 years ago for a semi-formal Christmas party for the place I worked. Mind you, the place I worked back then was comprised of rough-around-the-edges tech crews and grunt work teams. Guys that got dirty.
And yet, come Christmas time, these guys could clean up with the best of 'em, bringing their spouses to a classy party.
Similarly, I had a group of friends in Tulsa that were all transplants from overseas...the "Hilti crowd"...who all planned and executed formal dinner parties regularly. They were the kind of people who loved to don dress shirts and slacks or flowing, sexy dresses, going to a club and salsa dancing or two-stepping.
That would be so amazing to be part of again!
Maybe that's why I love the idea of a 1940's-style jazz club and have on my list of to-do's for 2010 "plug in to a cultural community!" Nights of sultry jazz, dazzling formals, rich red wine, melodic symphonies, carefree ballet, classy art galleries & moody lighting make my heart dance with happiness.