Category Archives: clueless

You never know what you’ll find.

Several years ago, the appearance of a Goodwill donation truck in the local commuter lot prompted a running gag in our family. The truck sat there in plain sight of the interstate indefinitely. Might even still be there. I don’t know. We moved a few months ago. After donating 40% of our belongings to Goodwill, actually.

Anyway…Every time Merkin and BratzBasher drove past, they’d speculate on what sort of items might be dropped off there. After spotting a volunteer sitting in the back of the truck one day, they had a little story going about poor Henry, an elderly man whose wife decided he didn’t match the furniture anymore. Poor Henry was left to await collection in the back of the Goodwill trailer. Why do I mention this? Because it turns out that there is a surprising amount of leeway in what you can donate to Goodwill.*

I dropped BB off at college this morning and spent a little time wandering the local Goodwill. You never know what bizarre things you might find, and I sometimes send photos of funny discoveries to BB for her to look at between classes. Last week, it was a 4-ft-tall chili pepper plushy with a mustachioed grin and a sombrero. This morning, I was so stunned by my discovery that I forgot to take a photo. I’m sure y’all will understand why. It was sitting on the top shelf of an end-of-aisle display featuring decorative knick-knacks. It looked like a large, white, ceramic egg (about 6″ tall). I turned it around to see if there was any sort of picture or design on it. Maybe it was an Easter decoration? It was completely unadorned, but it seemed oddly heavy, so possibly a bookend? I hefted it up off the shelf to confirm that it was definitely heavier than a hollow, ceramic egg should be. That’s when I noticed the plug on the bottom. It looked like what you see on piggy banks. It didn’t rattle*, so there were definitely no coins inside. What the heck is in this thing?

Any guesses? I hadn’t a clue myself, so I wiggled the plug out and peeked inside. Oh My Lanta. It was a plastic bag filled with ash. As ridiculously unbelievable as it seemed, there was no doubt in my mind that I had discovered an urn. An occupied urn. I cast about for an employee and found an older woman stocking the shelves. “Ahem. Excuse me, ma’am? Are you aware what this is?”

The woman gave me that I-just-work-here look and said, “People donate stuff, and we sell it.”

“Um…this is an urn. And it’s full.”

Her eyes got really big. “No. You can’t be serious. Are you sure?”

I unplugged it again and showed her the inside.

“Good Lord! Who on earth donates somebody’s remains?”

I suggested that the donor most likely had no idea what the object was. She reluctantly took it from me and half-jokingly wondered if she should take it home and bury the pour soul in her backyard before she came to her senses and announced she would take it up front to the manager. I honestly have no idea what happened to it after that, but I do think it more likely the ashes belong to someone’s deceased pet.

Of course, I immediately texted Merkin, who told me not to buy it. Then I texted another friend who wondered what sort of person you’d have to be to get donated to Goodwill — or what sort of haunting would be suitable for someone who would donate a person to Goodwill. When I relayed all of this to BB after she finished classes for the day, her immediate response was, “I’m sorry, Henry, but you just don’t match the furniture anymore.” I can’t fault her for that since I was thinking the exact same thing. Though, the egg was never decorated. It could’ve matched pretty much any decor. No excuse, really.

*Actually, there’s just a really good chance that what you donate won’t immediately be recognized as inappropriate.

**Yes, I did shake it, but of course I felt bad about that later when I realized what it was. Not that I could have done any damage, but it seemed disrespectful.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but…

I saw this sticker on a car while out and about today:

save_a_life_spay_neuter_stickerFirst of all, I’d like to point out that I’m all in favor of spaying and neutering your pets to prevent unwanted pet progeny. The bottom line on this sticker is a great message; however (and I admit I’m nit picking here), I’m having a little difficulty with the accuracy of the first three words at the top. Whose life are we saving by spaying or neutering our pets? Theirs? Ours? No. I believe the idea is that the act of spaying or neutering will prevent innocent, unwanted kitties and puppies from being killed — whether in shelters or the harsh life of the streets. How are we preventing this murder? By preventing the kitties and puppies from ever being born. Shouldn’t we be saying, “Prevent a Life So We Don’t Have to Kill It”?

My apologies if you are an animal lover/animal rights activist/anyone who is offended by talk of killing puppies/kitties. I’m just bugged by weird things like inaccurate bumper sticker statements.

I found this ad on

fueldI don’t know about you, but I expect better spelling in advertisements on a website frequented by literate people.

Just gives me warm fuzzies all over.

Warning: the following post contains a very annoyingly run-on sentence.  Grammarians proceed at your own risk.

Don’t you just love it when the other driver at the intersection smiles and waves for you to go first even though it’s not a four-way stop and he wasn’t supposed to stop at all because he had right of way but he’s still waving for you to go and you’re like why don’t you just drive already before you start holding up traffic and then he does go but as he does he totally flips you off?

Yeah, me too.

Just admit that you’re wrong, and give me my money back.

I had another run-in with a naughty merchant.  (That sounds like a cheap paperback romance novel, doesn’t it?)  This time I ordered something online through  Gotta love that Amazon guarantee because I’m using it this time.  The guy sent me a completely different, inferior brand than was advertised.  He’s trying to tell me it’s the same thing.  No, it’s not.  You showed me pictures of this brand.  You named this brand.  I got that brand.  Not cool.  I’m asking for details on sending them back for a refund.  I want all my ducks in a row.  I’m even sending the package with the added “confirmation of delivery” option.  I’ll be out the shipping, but it’s the principle of the thing, I tell you.  Try to tell me it’s the same thing.  Ha.  I know it’s tacky and not what you ordered, but it’s good enough.  (That’s not a quote, that’s just me role playing.  I like to do that sometimes.  It works off my anger so I don’t write something stu*** in my emails.)

Anybody else have a disappointing internet purchase story?

The Office

As most of you know, I volunteer at a charity bookstore at least once a week.  I won’t say what/where it is, but it’s associated with a well-established community service that is normally funded by taxpayer money.  The charity is great and has funded a ton of great programs.  The bookstore is not its best side.

On the surface, everything looks pretty good.  We’re non-profit, we’ve had rent-free space within the building whose organization benefits from our funds, and we’re staffed almost entirely by volunteers.  The only person who gets paid is the woman who runs the bookstore as part of her job with the aforementioned organization that’s housing us.  Of course, I’ve left out all the drama.  You see, unlike a normal office where freaks can be “let go”, charities have a devil of a time getting rid of problem employees.  As Merkin is fond of saying, “The problem with volunteers is that you can’t fire ’em.”

Our biggest pain in the neck is someone my former boss referred to as a “kooky lady”.  KL is a retired teacher, and very good in a schoolteacher capacity.  I’ve seen her with kids, so I know this to be true.  Of course, that’s no longer her main venue, and she’s got some weird notions in that noggin of hers.  The first time I met her, she insisted that “people don’t eat enough of their garbage.”  Those were her words.  I am not making this up.  Of course, she was referring to people throwing away perfectly good food that would appear to any normal person as something to be discarded, not eaten.

KL loves to be helpful.  She’s brought things in to the store and set them among the usual merchandise because she’s “donated” them to the cause.  This is, of course, against policy.  Any merchandise sold in the store must first be approved by the manager.  Otherwise, we’d have all sorts of crazy junk in there.  We have enough junk as it is — the original buyers for the store being shopaholics with no taste whatsoever(I’ll tell y’all about the two gross of baby snowmen sometime).  KL has also offered to take over the purchasing of new merchandise because she likes to buy in bulk.  Honey, that’s the last thing we need.  (see aforementioned shopaholics)

The biggest problem is the fact that KL loves to talk more than anything else.  Unfortunately, she’s unable to talk and ring up purchases at the same time.  This doesn’t stop her from trying, however.  She’s constantly leaving messages for the boss, detailing what she thinks went wrong with a transaction:

  • I didn’t press the key hard enough.
  • I pressed the wrong key.
  • The customer  yadda yadda(insert novel here)…so I just figured it all out in my head.  [There was no receipt to explain this one.]

This has given everyone a splitting headache, but…all together now

You can’t fire volunteers.

That’s okay.  Merkin came up with an evil plan.  He’s good at that.  He suggested that my boss require all volunteers to be “re-certified”.  Everyone has to take a simple test (process a fake transaction) to show they know what they’re doing.  I’ve been put in charge of the thing because I actually wrote the simplified user’s/training manual for the register back when I was a paid employee.  I know the register better than anybody there, including some of the “old guard” (people who’ve worked there since the opening, or shortly thereafter).

So I have an official checklist of things the volunteers should know, and I’m administering the test to everyone.  I think I might ask the charity’s president (also a store volunteer) to administer my test.  I also have to take it, you know, and my boss isn’t comfortable enough with the register to administer it herself.  Everyone gets two transactions (chances) to pass all the requirements.  They can have help on the first transaction.  If they get everything right without help the first time, they don’t have to do it again.

So far, I’ve tested three employees — including one I trained, and the one who trained me (two registers ago).  Everything’s gone smoothly.  The test is easy enough to pass if you have half a brain.  Anyone who can’t certainly has no business working there.  We’re all crossing our fingers that KL fails, as that will bar her from continuing to volunteer in the store.  She’s welcome to help in another capacity.

We only have a few more months before we shut down for good (another story I won’t bother to go into), but my boss can’t stand another few months of indecipherable mistakes.  Wish us luck.

Inappropriate use of the exclamation point:

I received an email announcing the recent death of a local member of our church.  It said the funeral would be soon and ended with “I will let you know when they finally settle on a time!” I hope the family of the deceased didn’t see it.